September 4-10, 2022

For the week of September 4-10, 2022 – 13th week after Pentecost

Morning prayer: God of power and mercy, only with Your help can we offer You fitting service and praise. May we live the faith we profess and trust Your promise of eternal life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #139 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

  1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.
    O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
    All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration!
  2. Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigning

Bears thee on eagle’s wings, e’er in His keeping maintaining.

God’s care enfolds all, whose true good He upholds, Hast thou not known His sustaining?

  1. Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
    surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
    Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee.
  2. Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee,

Fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.

Then to thy need God as a mother doth speed, Spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.

  1. Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!
    All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
    Let the amen sound from His people again; gladly forever adore Him.

Call to Worship Psalm 139:13-16

139:13 For it was You who formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb.

139:14 I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; that I know very well.

139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

139:16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In Your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

Children’s message Jeremiah 18:1-11

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.

Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

How many of you have ever seen someone who could take balloons and shape them into different kinds of animals? I was watching Sassy the clown do that the other day and I thought, "I'll bet I can do that." I think I'll try it. (Take out a balloon and blow it up, then go through some gyrations as if you were trying to make it into the shape of an animal.) Oh look, I've made a snake. That is pretty good, isn't it! I think I'll try another one. (Blow up another balloon and go through the same process again.) Hey, look, I've made a worm. Well, maybe this isn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. Maybe Sassy the clown knew a lot more about it than I do.

This reminds me of the way God works in my life. If I will let Him, God can take my life and shape it into whatever He wants me to be. But every time I try to do it myself, I turn out to be a snake or a worm. What I need to do is just put myself in God's hands and let Him shape me into what He wants me to be.

Dear Lord, every time I try to take control of my life, I wind up as a snake or a worm. Help me to let you to make me into what you want me to be. 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 spotlightLUMC could not operate without your financial tithes, and also your giving of time.  Talk to Pastor Becky to become more involved in the ministries of LUMC.  Remember:  Every member of this church is a minister. 

Offering prayer: Holy and righteous God, through Your Son, You have called us to follow. The gifts we offer this day are only a small token of affirmation that we accept that call. If we embraced the full meaning of that call, we would give our whole being to the offering. In many cases, we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that a few dollars and an hour on Sunday is the cost of discipleship. Help us to stop fooling ourselves, and consider the full cost of a discipleship that means something, that is capable of transforming the world. By Your grace and with the help of Jesus, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn of Preparation #338 Where He Leads Me

  1. I can hear my Savior calling, I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling, "Take thy cross and follow, follow Me."

Where He leads me I will follow, where He leads me I will follow,
where He leads me I will follow; I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.

  1. I'll go with Him through the garden, I'll go with Him through the garden,
    I'll go with Him through the garden, I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  2. I'll go with Him through the judgment, I'll go with Him through the judgment,
    I'll go with Him through the judgment, I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  3. He will give me grace and glory, He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory, and go with me, with me all the way.

Gospel Lesson Luke 14:25-33

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to Me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become My disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

Message                        Pastor Becky Cuddeback

At first glance, Jesus’ warnings or teachings on the cost of discipleship cut straight into our hearts and may confuse us or unsettle us. He says you must hate your parents, but yet Jesus tells us that by honoring our parents we are blessed. Jesus includes our children in that hate, yet he says what parent would give a child a serpent when he asks for bread. Then he says, we must have life itself, but we are taught to glorify each day singing: This is the day the Lord has made let us be glad and rejoice in it. It can leave us confused and disoriented and left unanchored in our thinking and really questioning this discipleship Jesus calls us into.

He goes on and talks about the cross – not His cross, but our crosses. The disciples don’t understand the cross, Jesus hasn’t died upon one yet, and they have no idea what all of it means and honestly, neither do we. We trust in Paul’s accounts and reasonings and hope that our cross bearing in some way brings glory to God.

Now plotting out about building and waging war, we understand the common sense advice and teachings behind those. You have to have information and the correct information to accomplish victory in either of those ventures. Nobody sets out to not complete a building project, yet we all have seen or heard of stories of grandiose construction projects that begin and then fail over issues of finance. We can be baffled by them and then have the displeasure of watching a magnificent endeavor become an eyesore. The evidence of the failure always stands in testament as no one ever picks up those projects and finishes them. Usually the calculations are so off and there is so much that has gone wrong, it would be wiser to abandon the project and start over elsewhere.

I think the war analogy is particularly vivid for us as we currently watch the unraveling of wars waged in the Middle East and the campaign against Ukraine. The perceived enemy is underestimated and the aggressor overly confident in the ability to conquer.

All of this to be said, this isn’t usually where we start when we decide to follow Jesus. Each of us has a story about how we came to know Jesus, experience Jesus, and how we come to accept Jesus. When we first come to Jesus these aren’t even on our radar honestly. We are attracted to the Kingdom by way of the justice, redemption, the healing, and the grace offered to us.

And now, after we have agreed to live in grace, we get the cost of following Jesus. Jesus places all of this in front of us to be transparently honest with us. He is expecting allegiance to the Kingdom and the Kingdom vision Jesus lays out for us. The Kingdom where the poor are cared for to the point where there is no longer any one without what they need to survive and thrive in the life God has blessed them with – that the disciples of Jesus would be on the front line of working toward liberation, uncovering injustices, truly living out loving God and loving neighbor.

Where we need to come to a complete halt is in the last warning/teaching – if you do not give up all your possessions, you can not be my disciple.

Now, before you start being offended or twitching, I believe we can all admit, we have stuff we don’t need. Material stuff we like to own, but don’t need. We keep these things because they amuse us or fill us in some way. Maybe you are like me and hold onto things because of who gave them to me. I transfer all the memories and emotions onto the object that I have with the person and it feels like a betrayal to rehome it or throw it away.

On the other hand, we acknowledge the reality that some of the stuff we have are the tools we need for achieving Kingdom goals. We can go into our clothes and clothe the naked. We can set up a young family in housekeeping with our extra home goods and we comfort the sick without needing our casserole dish back.

But I don’t think the material stuff is the only thing Jesus is talking to us about when it comes to possessions, because there are also those things that possess us. Things like: anger, fear, unforgiveness, hate, malice, gossip, envy, sloth, excuses, grudges, and prejudices, just to name a few. These possessions will never enable us to follow Jesus. Our hearts, our hands, and our minds are too full of these things and they are taking up the room Jesus needs to transform us and to transform the world. How can we expect to engage authentically with another, if we are dwelling on what we heard about them or their situation? How can we humbly be a disciple of Jesus, when we don’t see another as a child of God? By hanging onto the things that possess us, we are serving another kingdom, one not of God, but in utter defiance to God and all that God desires for God’s creation.

Jesus is calling us; He is calling you and me to be disciples. Will we be perfect? Of course not, yet the grace of God will lead us by the Holy Spirit to use the freedom afforded us to give up all the things that bind us, chain us, and keep us from being the disciples Jesus is calling us to be. The only evidence of possession we should inspire to, is to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, so that our prayers are actually realized, when we pray together “Thy Kingdom Come”. Amen.

Closing Hymn: #530 Are Ye Able

  1. "Are ye able," said the Master, "to be crucified with me?"
    "Yea," the sturdy dreamers answered, "to the death we follow thee."

Refrain:  Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine. Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.

  1. Are ye able to remember, when a thief lifts up his eyes,
    that his pardoned soul is worthy of a place in paradise?
  2. Are ye able when the shadows close around you with the sod,
    to believe that spirit triumphs, to commend your soul to God?
  3. Are ye able? Still the Master whispers down eternity,
    and heroic spirits answer, now as then in Galilee.

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

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