September 11-17, 2022

For the week of September 11-17, 2022 – 14th week after Pentecost

Morning prayer: O Most Patient God, we recognize how much we need You for life itself. But how often have we behaved as if we did not know or even care about You? How often have we become the ones who do not carry out justice? How often have we tried to dominate others even as You stand with them? How often have we participated in the desolation of Your creation by our treatment of the heavens, the earth and its waters? Forgive us for these times when we have lost our way. All Loving God, we want to be among those whom You seek. Shower Your mercy upon us. Find us and lead us safely home to faithfulness. Amen.  (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn: #103 Immortal, Invisible, God, Only Wise

  1. Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
    most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
    almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
  2. Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
    thy justice like mountains high soaring above
    thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
  3. To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small; in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
    we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
    and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.
  4. Thou reignest in glory; Thou dwellest in light; Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
    all laud we would render: O help us to see 'tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.

Call to Worship Psalm 51:1-3, 7-10

51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have crushed rejoice.

51:9 Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Children’s message 1 Timothy 1:12-17

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He judged me faithful and appointed me to His service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

There is a song that is being played a lot on the radio and television recently. The name of the song is "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. It isn't a new song. It has been around for quite a while, but after the attack on the United States that took place on September 11th, it has been played a lot more frequently on the radio and television. If you can find it on Alexa or youtube, listen to the first verse.  A lot of people in the United States are showing that they are "proud to be an American" these days. You see a lot of people wearing flag pins or red, white and blue ribbons on their shirts. As you drive around the cities, you see the U.S. flag flying everywhere. It has gotten to be so popular to fly the flag that the businesses that sell flags are sold out. The companies that make the flags can't make them fast enough to keep up with the demand. It is very difficult to find a flag to buy. How about you? Do you gladly stand up and say that you are "proud to be an American?"

It is easy and popular right now to say, "I'm Proud to be an American." I wonder if it is just as easy to stand up and say, "I'm Proud to be a Christian?" If we stand up and say that we love Jesus, we are afraid that someone might be offended. If we stand up and speak out for Jesus in our schools, we are afraid we might be breaking the law. We can't stand up for Jesus and say a prayer before the football games any more because we are afraid that we might violate someone's civil rights. It seems as if it is okay to stand up and speak out for almost anything these days -- except Jesus. In a letter to a young man named Timothy, the apostle Paul said, "Don't be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. I am not ashamed because I believe in Him and trust in Him." In other words, Paul was telling Timothy, (sung to the tune of God Bless the USA).

"I'm proud to be a Christian, because in Him I'm free.
And I won't forget the Christ who died on the cross of Calvary,
So I'll gladly stand up next to you and praise His name today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this Man, Who took my sins away!"

We are standing proudly today as Americans, but are we standing proudly as Christians?

Dear Jesus, we pray that we would never be ashamed to stand up and tell others about what You have done for us and what You want to do for them. Help us to have the courage to stand and say, "I'm proud to be a Christian." Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightOn this day of remembrance of September 11, 2001, be grateful that we still have the freedom to worship as our conscience dictates.  Your tithes and offerings mean that we remain a beacon in Lightstreet and the surrounding communities.   

Offering prayer: God of relentless love, the Gospel reminds us of the joy You feel when one of Your children chooses the path of repentance and redemption. We picture the celebration in Your heart when that choice is made. We also know how prone we are to wander off that path as we pursue those things that satisfy ourselves only. Receive the gifts we offer this day as a sign of our striving to get back on the path that leads us to You. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, the light on our path! Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #348 Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling

  1. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me;

See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. 

Chorus:  Come home, (come home), come home, (come home);

you who are weary, come home;

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home! 

  1. Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me?

Why should we linger and heed not His mercies, mercies for you and for me?

  1. Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, passing from you and from me;

Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, coming for you and for me.

  1. O for the wonderful love He has promised, promised for you and for me!

Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me. 

Gospel Lesson Luke 15:1-10

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Message                        Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Jesus tells us stories to teach us. I am sure that each of us has a favorite story, parable or teaching. Maybe it spoke to your heart because it made real for you God’s deep love for you. Maybe it is because it made clear a life situation you were going through or maybe it helped you understand a characteristic of God. Jesus’ attractiveness is as diverse as the church. What drew you to Jesus is different for each of us. There may be some similarities or overlap in our stories, but there is also a uniqueness. We each are part of the great multitude that make up the Church of Jesus Christ; differing gifts, graces, talents, purposes – yet one in Jesus.

In today’s lesson, Jesus is talking to two very distinct groups of folks. There are the Pharisees and the scribes and then there are the sinners and tax collectors. Notice, both are attracted to Jesus but for drastically different reasons. The Pharisees/scribes are looking to find a way to trap Jesus in his teachings. Jesus hasn’t said anything new per se from the prophets that have come before Him, it is what He is doing, who is spending His time with. The sinners/tax collectors are hearing about the Kingdom of God, Jesus is casting for them a vision that includes them. He is merely asking them to turn towards it, to repent of the lives they are living and face the Kingdom. Now, He is also directing the Pharisees/scribes to do the same thing – their problem is they don’t believe they need Jesus’ help in the Kingdom. It centers around repentance.

Repentance is more than being sorry for something you’ve done or said or thought. It is more than regretting something you’ve done or said or thought. It is recognizing the wrong, admitting responsibility, making amends when able, and turning from it, but not just turning away, but returning to God. It is reorienting your path and it may quite possibly be getting onto a completely different path to return to God.

We believe that Holy Scripture is a living word, that it has the potential to speak into our lives today, to have an effect on the way we hear God and understand what God is asking of us. So, this is where we have to look and listen closely to discern who we are in these parables. Are we the Pharisees/scribes or the sinners/tax collectors? Are we the 99 safe sheep or the one lost? Are we the widow or the lost coin or the contained coins? Figuring out who we are, how we locate ourselves in scripture is a mark of a matured disciple. Because, in reality, we have all been all of those and reflecting on what Jesus has to say to and about helps and informs us on how we can follow Jesus more fully.

Let’s take the 99 for example. I think we can say we have safety in our assembly. In our togetherness we get our needs met, we are cared for, our lives are supported and changed, and we find the grace we need to carry on in this life in preparation for the life to come. We have a safe and welcoming place to land so to speak. The Church is our touchstone to allow us to go and be with those that are hurting, isolated, excluded, because we have the peace of mind of knowing there is a place prepared and held for our return. Because of this safety, we should be desiring to bring others into that relationship with Jesus and with us. We know what it is like to be on the outside and we have a perspective of what it is like to have belonging and to not have belonging. This is all to answer the call of discipleship, which is to begin relationships with those who have no relationship. It is heeding to the command to GO! And make disciples of all the nations. Because, quite honestly, like the widow’s coin – every person, every human has worth and value to God and because they are cherished by God, they must be cherished by those who find their safety in the 99. Amen.

Closing Hymn: #361 Rock of Ages

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;
    let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed,
    be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
  2. Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law's commands;
    could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
    all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling;
    naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
  4. While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death,
    when I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.

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