September 27, 2020 - Home Worship Service

SEPTEMBER 27, 2020

 

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church!

We continue to offer in person worship at Lightstreet.

8am contemporary service in the Lighthouse and 10:30am is our traditional service in the church sanctuary. You will need a mask and will be asked to be spaced apart from others unless you are sitting with those in your household. Both provide recorded music through the sound system.

No children and youth Sunday School just yet.

Another alternative for worship is Sunday 9:00 am Zoom Worship & Prayer

Pastor Jenn and your church leaders invite you to ZOOM, Sunday morning, 9:00 am. 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85441468430?pwd=aEJmcnJ3SGdkbWphMnlRV3JwQ3dXQT09

  Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430        Password: 279040

One tap mobile:  +19294362866,,85441468430#,,,,0#,,279040# US (New York)

For audio only using a landline or non-smart phone:  1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

Worship:

I invite you to light a candle to welcome the Light of the World in your presence and prepare your heart for worship this day

Call to Worship:

Speak to us, Lord, through these Scriptures, songs and words.

Remind us again of Your everlasting power.

May we know Your story and our place within it.

May we remember Your mighty works and deeds.

May we claim Your promises and share Your love.

We are listening, Lord; speak to us today.

 

Opening Songhttps://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/lord-of-the-dance

Lord of the Dance (Words by Sydney Carter; Music is a 19th century Shaker tune

 

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,

And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,

And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth.

At Bethlehem I had my birth.

 

Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said He.

 

Opening Prayer:

God of patience, Your people grow weary.  We complain and question.  We put You to the test. Our mouths say yes, but our deeds say no.  When we wander off Your path, when we fail to follow through on our good intentions, when we give our attention to trivial things; gently call us back to You.  Empty our hearts of anger, pride, greed, selfishness, envy, doubt and mistrust. Pour Your Spirit into our hearts and reclaim us with Your love.  Amen. 
 

Children’s time:

 

It's our children's time and I want to start with a question I ask you each and every week: Who are you? Children Respond: Special Gifts of God!

PJ: That's right, you are special gifts of God each and every day and I'm so lucky to spend time with you!

 

All of our children are special.  Pastor Ron is going to talk about a story Jesus told, a story about 2 sons.  It’s a great story about a time when a father asks both of his sons to do something for him.  The story is in the Bible, Matthew 21:23-32.  Here is a video of the story. https://youtu.be/pEz1rkZj7dU

 

Let’s pray:  Thank You, God, for each of these children in the households that are reading this message.  Show them Your love in a special way.  Amen.   

 

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer

Loving and merciful Lord, by Your word we are nourished, by Your hand we are fed.  Praise Christ, who came as a servant. Praise Christ, who was glorified by God. Praise Christ, who reigns as Lord.  Turn our hearts to You now, as we lift our prayers to You.  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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass 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.
 

Invitation to the Offering

Your thoughts may be distracted by cares and concerns.  Focus on the ministries of Jesus Christ as He is working through Lightstreet United Methodist Church.  Focus what you can give and how you should give:  Your time, talents, service, money; giving with joy and thankfulness. 

 

Offering Prayer

God of abundance, You fill us with good things; You satisfy our thirst; You meet our every need. From Your rock, our blessings flow. Accept what we give in return: our hearts, our hands, our gifts, our love. Use them to answer the cries of a world in need. Amen.

 

 

MATTHEW 21:23-32

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

ENTERING THE KINGDOM – Rev. Ron French

 

            There is a wonderful story about a group of military leaders who succeeded in building a super computer that was able to solve any problem – large or small, strategic or tactical. The military leaders assembled in front of the new machine for a demonstration. The engineer conducting the demonstration instructed these officers to feed a difficult tactical problem into it. The military leaders proceeded to describe a hypothetical situation to the computer and then asked the pivotal question: attack or retreat? This enormous super computer hummed away for an hour and then printed out its one-word answer – YES! The generals looked at each other, somewhat stupefied. Finally one of them submits a second question to the computer: YES WHAT? Instantly the computer responded: YES SIR!

            Like the generals, the Pharisees, were accustomed to people saying “Yes Sir” to them. They were the religious authorities. And they were used to being treated as such. But there was a new teacher in town who was threatening their authority. The Pharisees were alarmed. They feared Jesus’ popularity, His ability to heal and perform miracles. In their eyes Jesus was preaching heresy and leading people away from the religious traditions that defined the Jews. The Pharisees wanted to expose Jesus as a fraud.

            It was in this context that Jesus told a story about a man who had two sons. “…he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go sir’; but he did not go.” Then Jesus asked a question of those who were listening, “Which of the two did the will of his father? They said, ‘The first.” Now Jesus delivers the punch line. “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change you minds and believe him.”  (21:28-32)

            That really was the punch line. And it looks like the Pharisees were the ones who were punched. I imagine Jesus heard some gasps and “How dare he!” uttered from the crowd that day. It was unthinkable to compare the “righteous” Pharisees to blatant sinners like the tax collectors and prostitutes. Didn’t He know that the Pharisees were too good to be lumped together with the likes of them? Didn’t He know that only those people with the right “credentials”, so to speak, would make it into the kingdom of God? What was Jesus talking about and why was He castigating the best people in town?

            There is an old legend that tells of a man who died and went to heaven. Heaven was beautiful – full of lush gardens and glittering mansions. But then the man came to a room lined with shelves. On the shelves were stacked piles of human ears! A heavenly guide explained that the ears belonged to all the people on earth who listened each week to the word of God, but never acted on God’s teachings. Their worship never resulted in action. So when they died only their ears ended up in heaven. In this passage Jesus is dealing with a bunch of religious folk who will one day be earless, and it would be to our benefit to listen in on the conversation. It’s so easy to mistake self-righteous attitudes for true belief in Jesus as Savior. Any of us can be guilty of that.

            This passage reminds us of how shocking God’s grace is. Imagine splashing hot pink paint all over a black-and-white picture. Imagine tearing out the windows of a darkened room and letting the sun blaze through. Now imagine showing people a whole new view of God that breaks down the boundaries of everything they think to be true. Jesus is talking here about what types of people are acceptable to stand before a holy, holy, holy God. And He passes over the religious professionals in favor of the worst of sinners.

            Has He lost his mind? Or could it be that our self-righteousness doesn’t earn us many points with God? Maybe God isn’t a cosmic scorekeeper, tallying up our moral hits and misses. Maybe we don’t have to earn God’s love. Because maybe God loves us even when we fail. These sound like simplistic ideas, but to those of us who cling to our self-righteousness, they are enough to shake us down to our very soul. God’s arms are open to everyone, from every race and nation and tribe and tongue, from every walk of life and every income level, from every circumstance. We’re really missing something extraordinary when we put boundaries on God’s grace.

            In the Pharisees minds, God only had regard for that which was perfect, unblemished, without defect. They had reduced God to the level of human beings who turn their back on others because of an imperfection. The Pharisees had no concept of God’s grace – God’s love for all His children, even those who were tarnished with sin. The Pharisees badgered, pressured, demanded. They wanted perfection. Jesus knew that this was not the way to bring hurting people into the kingdom of God. He did it with love and acceptance. He did it by living out God’s amazing, startling, absurd grace.

            And that is how we are to live our lives as well. We are to be grace-filled. We are to reach out to those with imperfections. We are to value all people as worthy of acceptance, and we are to introduce them to the One who died in their behalf, and in our behalf. A number of years ago, millions of people around the world were inspired by Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ. Maxine Raines, director of a ministry to the homeless in Knoxville, Tennessee, knew her homeless friends couldn’t afford to buy a movie ticket. So she brought the theater to them. With the support of her church and private donors, Maxine erected an outdoor theater under a downtown bridge where homeless people like to congregate. Then she showed the film to a group of more than 400 street people. Many were moved to tears; dozens prayed to receive Christ that night. Maxine commented, “I want them to be able to see that somebody cared enough for them to give His life for them… They tell me they are hopeless, nobody can help and I say to them, ‘I know One who can.’”

            Nobody is hopeless. Nobody is beyond help. Why? Because there is a Man with nail prints in His hands who says, “You are so important I gave my life for you.” “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; and even after you saw it, you did not change you minds and believe him.’” (21:31b-32) Maxine Rains took the kingdom of God to a group of people who are usually overlooked, discounted, and left out. And many of them responded with repentance and faith. Sisters and brothers, no one is left out of God’s grace.

            Notice here that Jesus did not tell the Pharisees that they would be excluded from the kingdom. He said that the tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the kingdom before they did. The tax collectors and prostitutes didn’t carry the baggage of religiosity. All they knew is that they were forgiven and washed clean. Jesus simply widened the boundaries of the kingdom. And of course, the Pharisees were a part of it, but so were the people that the Pharisees would never accept as equals. The Pharisees wanted a kingdom that was reserved for themselves and their kind. Jesus wanted a kingdom that was big enough for everyone.

            In 1962, James Meredith made civil rights history as the first African American to ever enroll at the University of Mississippi. This simple act inspired vicious race riots in the surrounding town, but Meredith didn’t let it intimidate him. Four years later, in a bid to inspire African American citizens of the South to vote, James Meredith planned a walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. James carried nothing but a walking stick and a Bible with him on the journey. This 220 mile walk was an effort to show that a Black man could walk freely through the South. As Meredith commented, “It was a war against fear.” On the second day of his walk, however, James Meredith was ambushed by Aubrey James Norville, a Memphis hardware clerk. Norville shot him four times and left him to die in the middle of the road. Incredibly, Meredith survived the shooting. And then a remarkable thing happened. As he recuperated in the hospital, dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of people gathered to continue his walk from Memphis to Jackson. On the last day, a recovered James Meredith – accompanied by over 12,000 marchers – entered Mississippi’s state capital.

            Brothers and sisters, I believe that is what the kingdom of God will be like. One man was slain on a cross. And that started a parade. At first only a few were brave enough to join it, but that few grew to hundreds, then thousands, then millions. Among those people are a few righteous souls. But those few righteous are outnumbered by the thousands, no, millions of persons who have not been all they might have been, or should have been, but they’ve been healed by the wounds of the Master.

            The kingdom of God has come – that was the central message of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The kingdom of God is marching forward, and nothing can stop its forward momentum, nothing can prevail against it, not even the gates of Hell. And you have a front-row invitation to be a part of it. This is the greatness of God’s grace; salvation cannot be earned, it is a free gift of love offered to all who will accept it. Sisters and brothers, don’t let your goodness get in the way of Jesus’ righteousness. Don’t let your sanctity overshadow His sacrifice. Believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and claim your place in the Kingdom of God today!

 

Closing Song:  https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/just-be-held

Just Be Held  Casting Crowns

Hold it all together. Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere And barely leaves you holding on

And when you're tired of fighting; Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender.  Lay it down and let it go

 

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

If your eyes are on the storm You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross You'll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted. In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes. Your life is in My hands

 

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

Lift your hands, lift your eyes. In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart. I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest In the arms of the God who won't let go

 

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

Benediction:

May you go forth with humble hearts, ready to serve your neighbor and a world in need. Amen.

 
  March 2021  
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