Order, Words, & Voices

Order, Words, & Voices
08.07.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song        To God Be The Glory        Christian
Prayer                                Rick
Reading            Genesis 28:6-22            Segun & Steve M.

Song                Blessed Assurance            Christian

Message            Worlds’ Worst Inlaw        Rick

Song                Blessed Assurance            Christian

Community/Howdy                        Steve
For Howdy, Steve will be leading in online. Just put the screen to gallery view until he is finished. Then Community announcement will be put on screen

Closing Peace                            Rick

Benediction                                Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music 
To God be the Glory

To God be the glory great things He has done
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin
And opened the life gate that all may go in

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

O perfect redemption the purchase of blood
To every believer the promise of God
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Great things He has taught us
Great things He has done
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder our transport when Jesus we see

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Prayer [Slides Midway through]
(Prayer comes from Micah 6:8 and Jesus’ prayer-Matthew 6:9-13)

LORD you have told you what is good. You have revealed to us that we are called to love mercy, to call for justice, and to walk humbly with you. May we passionately walk humbly with You. May we not be afraid to look critically at the sins of our forefathers to see how they have influenced us away from mercy, justice, and humility.  May we choose to let your sacrifice cleanse us of our arrogance, ignorance, and selfishness. Help us to listen and hear You clearly so that we will not longer walk by pride or self-sufficiency. God, may we walk with You.

[Slides Begin] [Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer]

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.
Forgive us our trespasses, 
While we learn to forgive those who trespass against us.
And, God, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever.

Reading [No Slides]

[Steve M] Esau saw that Isaac had been tricked in blessing Jacob and that Isaac had sent Jacob away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there and that as he charged him saying, “You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 

[Segun] So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women were forbidden by his parents, Esau spitefully went and married Mahalath, the daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael and the sister of Nebaioth, Ishmael’s other wife, to be his wife in addition to all the wives he already had.

[Steve M] Jacob left Beer-sheba and stayed that night in the wilderness because the sun had set. Jacob was not yet to the homeland of his Father Abraham and mother Rebekah. Jacob put a stone from the ground under his head and lay down to sleep. During the night, Jacob dreamed that there was a stairway set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 

[Segun] As the dream continued, the Lord stood beside Jacob and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your grandfather and the God of your father Isaac. The land on which you now lie I will give to you and to your offspring, and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.” 

[Steve M] God continued to speak to Jacob, saying, “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” Jacob was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

[Segun] Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that had been his pillow and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel.  Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:6-22
Music 
Blessed Assurance
Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation purchase of God
Born of His Spirit washed in His blood

This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Perfect submission perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy whispers of love

This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Perfect submission all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest
Watching and waiting looking above
Filled with His goodness lost in His love

This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Message – World’s Worst InLaw [? Slides]
Genesis 29:15-28

A question that has haunted philosophers and theologians of most of humanity –  ‘Are we, as humans, at our most basic nature, good or evil? ‘

This past week we have heard about the countless individuals who have poured into Kentucky to inconspicuously assist in the aftermath of the historic flooding. In Oklahoma, many of us stood on the front lines witnessing the sacrificial acts of so many from around the nation and world following the OKC Murrow Building Bombing. During the recent Russian’s invasion and war against Ukraine we, along with many others, gave generously and many were able to do more, to help the displaced and wounded of the war. 

On the other hand, we have see the most evil of the evil. We are historical witnesses to the systematic racism and the impacts of past attempts entire cultures here, within in our own state. We have watched as those wearing the tags of prophet and Christian have sought, and still seek, to deny the truth of the ancestral trauma of people groups here in our own state, our neighbors. 

We consistently see evil and good in the same place, often the same times.

This has been a conundrum, no, it has been a battle, since thinkers began to think.

[Slide]5th century, theologian, and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, dove into Scripture, determining that there is no good in humans; there are only evil humans. That apart from God, man has no innate ability to be good or to do good because no good remains within. 

[Slide] Seventeenth century Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, from his own experience watching the brutality of the British civil war,  determined that humans are fundamentally selfish creatures driven by a desire for power. Desires which lead to anarchy and hatred. 

[Slide] In the fifteen hundreds theologian, pastor, and reformer, John Calvin, penned called the church to reformation with the concept of Total Depravity saying ‘that sin affects every facet of our nature. It does not mean that sinners are as bad as they possibly can be. Nor does it mean that humans lack a conscience, or that the world is entirely miserable and incapable of making any progress or appreciating the beauty evident all around. Total Depravity does means that no part of our personality is uncorrupted: the mind, the emotions, and so on. (Dogmatic Theology, 2:257).

[Slide]13th century priest, Thomas Aquinas’ held that our original sin simply wounded human nature. He argued that it does not make us averse to virtue, although it weakens us in this pursuit and brings the penalty of death.

[Slide] And, contemporary Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, argues that, ‘despite our history of evil, humans are fundamentally good.’

The problem with the ponderence of these views of humanity is that they, themselves, often do more to negatively influence the manner in which we see and treat humanity than they do to prompt a Christ like compassion and mercy towards humanity. Even in the consideration of these theories, we must never cease to consider the very breath, the very life, within us is from God. Even in our rejection of God there is still breath that is life. 

Honestly, I’m not sure that the question is ‘Are we good or evil? ‘ but, instead, how does God, and how do we permit God to, guide us towards a life that is worth his exhaustive creative effort he God put forth in creating every single one of us.’

Before I allow my words to confuse this truth, let me state the point – We, with our evangelic fervor to lead others to accept Jesus, basically a moment to fill up heaven, we have forgotten that salvation, according to the apostle Paul, is a life long work, not to secure salvation, but to experience it, to live it. Salvation is a journey, it is not a prayer and it is not just about heaven and hell. Heaven and hell in a futuristic sense is not really the primary point of what Jesus did. The picture painted in the life of Jacob, in this week’s passage depicts what the Good News truly is – God takes us where we are, and who we are, and guides and leads us from there. It is never about the amount of our faith, or the extent of our belief, it is always totally about God. What God did, what God is doing, and what God will do in our world. It is a journey in which God guides us to life, full life, here on earth and forever. Jesus, addresses life here on earth than anything else, he even includes it in the prayer he teaches us. Salvation is our journey from evil to good, of unrighteous to righteous, of settling for unholy as opposed to living a life long search for the real and consistent holy that is God.

This is the journey of Jacob. Up to this point he has been horrible, however, now we see him stepping onto God’s path of change and transformation. It is not a one time moment of emotion but the beginning of a life of a willingness to change and learning, a life of sacrifice and patience, a life of looking for good, looking for holy, and looking for the acts and movements of God in his life now. It all begins now with Jacob facing the choice of his path – holy or self.

Jacob’s journey gives us a  glimpse of what it means to seek good, and holy,  to willingly allow God to lead and transform. Walking alongside God’s and his holy patience in the midst of our unholy existence, evidence that God is gracious and that God’s grace is lavished on humanity.

Jacob, to this point, battled for supremacy with his brother while still in his mother’s  womb. He deceived his father and stole his bother’s inheritance. Jacob ran away, to escape the consequences. This all took place before Jacob reached the age of twenty-five.  On his journey running away, Jacob apprehensively meets God and steps gently onto the path that is set before him.

Jacob had grown up learning of the God of his father, now it was time for his own faith to grow roots. On his escape God appeared to Jacob, introducing himself and reiterating the promise made to Abraham – a promise now given to Jacob.

[Slide] “Know that I am with you,” God said, “and I will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)

[Slide] Jacob’s response to God was tepid at best. He responded from a hesitant heart but an open mind, “God, if you will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go and if you will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then you shall be my God, and of all that you give me I will surely give back to you one-tenth.” (Genesis 28:20-22)

It’s an ‘if-then’ statement, it would be seem to be a very self centered, self protecting, commitment – “God, if you will continually do this for me I will give a percentage if my gain back to you.” However, if we think about it, Jacob had really just experienced his first personal moment with God, all he knew to do was to do what his grandfather had done. This was the fork in the road moment for Jacob. For the first time, Jacob makes a commitment to God that was a little less selfish than all his previous actions. Baby steps on his journey, but he was now willingly on the path. Moving from evil to good a small bit at a time under the tutelage of God.

Sometimes a less selfish step is our biggest step ever.

Jacob met his uncle Laban, the man who would become his father in law – the World’s Worst Inlaw. Soon, Jacob sought to marry Laban’s daughter. Laban calculated the price for his daughter as seven years of hard labor. After Jacob completed paying off that deft, Laban deceptively gave his daughter Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel. Laban, then, made a new financial arrangement with Jacob to actually sale his daughter Rachel an additional seven years of hard labor. 

Laban relegated his own daughters to being a commodity for his own gain. Jacob, who previously would have never allowed something like this to happen to him, incredibly, he stuck around for over fourteen years of slavery.  He didn’t angrily cut his losses and leave, but he stayed. This all began with his first less selfish step as thought beyond himself. Somehow, Jacob saw God’s constant presence and work. Jacob stayed the path, old Jacob would have run, but now, he was on the path of improving and transforming. Jacob continued to trust the God he was getting to know and, all the while, continued his role in God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. 

Jacob was not a full convert to God at this point, God still had much to patiently prove as he moved Jacob from evil to good. Jacob had food on his plate and clothes on his back, a daily proof of God’s prescence.

The sisters Leah and Rachel, were dumped deeper into a pit of worthlessness, bitterness, and isolation. Their sisterhood would be forever damaged as they fought for Jacob’s affection. They didn’t know it yet, but this was the kickoff for their journey, the widening of the river of God’s promise. It was through them, and their servants, that diversity would be a constant reality of the Israelites. They would all be part of God’s promise, and God’s promise would now be a part of them. 

Leah and Rachel, also were at the start of their own path, a journey of self-awareness, their own empowerment, their own journey – they would soon even stand up for themselves. They would not be forgotten by God, even this God they did not yet know.  They would not be forsaken, they would not be ignored, devalued, or even dismissed. God saw them, God heard them. God would heed the pain of Leah, and Rachel, meeting their needs and addressing their pain. Providing them purpose, descendants, and a place.

This is our bridge of understanding good and evil. The moment when God meets us, introduces us to himself, promises to remember us, and then, even with our own marginal promises, God sustains us leading us in our life path and purpose.

The Apostle Paul later put it into a nutshell.

“What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. You lived in responsive obedience to God. Now keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.” (Philippians 2:12-16)

Let’s Pray

Music

Blessed Assurance

O what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation purchase of God

Born of His Spirit washed in His blood
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Community [Slides]

  • [No Slide – gallery view\ Howdy Moment – this week – gallery view of everyone online for inperson attendees to see
  • [Slide] Next Sunday, stealing god, Genesis 31:14-35
  • [Slide] Miserable Endings, Wednesday Lunch and Bible Study, Noon this Wednesday at Fellowship Center, schedule at gfnorman.com, bring your own lunch
  • [Slide] Kentucky Flooding Relief, Red Cross banner and link at GFNorman.com
  • Next Sunday short business gathering for bylaws insert.

Closing Peace [1Slide]
May the Peace of the Lord go with you.
And also with you.

Benediction [1 Slide]

“Depart now in the fellowship of God the Father and as you go, remember: By the goodness of God you were born into this world. And by the grace of God you have been kept all the day long, even until this very hour. And by the love of God, fully revealed in the face of Jesus, you have been redeemed and you are being redeemed. So go in peace.” 

Amen. 

Order, Words, & Voices 07.31.22

Order, Words, & Voices
07.31.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song- Great is Thy Faithfulness
Prayer                                    Rick
Reading            (Inperson Only)            Renee & Martha

Song- Leaning on the Everlasting Arms        

Message            A Haunting Oracle            Rick

Song-     Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (vs1 and chorus)

Community/Closing Peace                        Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music 
Great is Thy Faithfulness
ChorusGreat is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
Verse 1Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be
Verse 2Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love
Verse 3Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Prayer [Slides Midway through]
Prayer comes from Genesis 49:25-26 and Jesus’ prayer-Matthew 6:9-13

God, you are our father, you will help us, you, the Almighty will bless us with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. God, the blessings of you, our Lord, are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains and the bounties of the everlasting hills; the blessings given from your hand are life sustaining and enduring throughout eternity.
[Slides Begin] [Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer]
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.
Forgive us our trespasses, 
While we learn to forgive those who trespass against us.
And, God, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever.
Amen

Music : Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
ChorusLeaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning on the everlasting arms
Verse 1What a fellowship what a joy divine
Leaning on the everlasting arms
What a blessedness what a peace is mine
Leaning on the everlasting arms
Verse 2O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way
Leaning on the everlasting arms
O how bright the path grows from day to day
Leaning on the everlasting arms
Verse 3What have I to dread what have I to fear
Leaning on the everlasting arms
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near
Leaning on the everlasting arms

Reading [No Slides]
[Martha] Abraham breathed his last and died at one hundred and seventy-five years of age, old and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac. 

[Renee] Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The twins struggled together within Rebekah, and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” 

[Martha] So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other; the elder shall serve the younger.”  When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle, so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore the two boys.

[Renee] When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he was fond of game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that, for I am famished!” Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” So Jacob surrendered his birthright to Jacob. and Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew.

Genesis 25:21-28

Message – A Haunting Oracle [No Slides]
Genesis 25:21-28

We closed last week with the image of Rebekah falling off her camel as she had her first look at her fiance, Isaac. It was a fall, brought on by an extended moment of gawking activated by a joyful realization that her future husband, from a distance, appeared to be ‘perfect’. The journey to her new home had not come without certain doubts about this unknown man, he was double her age afterall – but now, from her landing place on the ground, she felt good about her decision.

We did not see Isaac’s reaction to Rebekah, the continued passage tells us that,  “Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent that had belonged to his mother, who had died years earlier.  Isaac took Rebekah and Rebekah took Isaac, and Rebecca became Isaac’s wife, and Isaac loved Rebekah. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Genesis 24:67)

Today we pick up the story twenty years later. We know little of what took place during those two decades except that 

  • Abraham died at the age of one hundred and seventy-five.  
  • Ishmael, who had twelve sons, made a return appearance to help Isaac with Abraham’s funeral. 
  • Isaac and Rebekah, the only link to God’s promise and the future have had no children, no descendants. Sure, Isaac’s parents waited almost 40 years for their promised descendant, and they were much older that Isaac who was not 60 and Rebekah was around forty years old. Even with this history, this was becoming more concerning.
  • Isaac says a prayer for Rebekah to get pregnant. We don’t know if this prayer was just the tip of the iceberg of prayers said by Isaac and Rebecah, or if this was a one time incident.

There are many additional questions as we pick up the story…

  • Were Isaac and Rebekah concerned about their lineage? Had they given up hope? Had the history of Abraham and Sarah calloused them to God’s promise?
  • Did they actually connect themselves with God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah? Had Abraham’s death jolt Isaac into a reality check moment?
  • Were they still in love or had their childless story evolved into bitterness and insecurity?
  • Did Rebekah still have an innate understanding and life practice of God base call to all humanity – love and respect?

The story of Isaac and Rebekah, is connected to all history by a thread extending from Noah, Abraham and Sarah, to the Prophets to Jesus and the apostles, to us and beyond. A thread connecting all of humanity as we attempt to reconcile our impatience with God’s perfect timing. Rebekah and Isaac held to this thread asking God, ‘Will you ever act on your promise?!’ For those who have taken part in our Bible Studies over the past couple of years, regardless of what book of the bible we have looked at, at one point or another we have asked the question ‘Why does it take so long?!’

And, the truth is, sometimes the waiting is difficult if not impossible. It is hard, and sometimes our impatience, followed by our taking our own actions, cause us to be blind to the work that God actually does do. Sometimes we are left with the loss of a loved one, or a neverending lifetime ahead of caring for a loved one. Sometimes we are left with nothing but the rest of our days dealing with the collateral damage of our bodies that fall apart on the way to an earthly death. Sometimes our own choices land us in an endlessly hopeless existence, and more often, the choices of others plant us deep into a life of frustration and pain in a seemingly eternal miserable cycle. Sometimes our call to God for action results in an answer from god that we do not want to hear. Sometimes we cry out to God for relief and change and we end up with news of worse things to come. Sometimes trusting God is the most insurmountable challenge of our lives.

Songwriting brothers and performers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Metzger wrote, 
Have I done my best here, or will I be here next year, or are these my best years yet?
Was looking forward to being important but I’m not important yet.
If you put this scene on a movie screen is it called a happy end?
If the world gets me where I’m supposed to be will I know I’ve made it then?
It’s so hard…
Can we skip to the good part?

I have mused over the past couple of weeks if Rebekah possibly would have had this song on her playlist. Would this have echoed her own state of mind as she looked at her life twenty years after the excitement of her wedding only to now be so confused and frustrated with life.  I wonder if this was her state when Isaac voiced his prayer which resulted in Rebekah becoming pregnant. 

After twenty years of Rebekah feeling like a failure, living with shame and frustration she was now pregnant. But, life did not get more rosy, this pregnancy did  not live up to her fantasies, life actually became a living hell. This child within Rebekah was a nightmare. In the midst of her agony she cried out to God, “If this is how it is going to be, just kill me God! Kill me now!” Possibly not the first time this God has heard this prayer, and it was definitely not the last time God heard these words. They were and always are, very sincere.

God’s answer did not soothe. His answer was an oracle, it was the prophetic words no mother wants to hear. 

“It is not one child, but two children, two sons. Two nations are in your womb, two peoples butting heads while still in your body. One will overpower the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)

Not the answer she expected God to give. It was an answer that gave no relief to her current struggle, but instead extended her grief to the rest of her life. Not just nine months but forever! What do we do with this story?! Do we relegate it to the heretical theological dumping ground of  ‘this is all a part of the curse brought on by women since the beginning of time.’ Of course not!

Rebekah has just received a prison sentence. This is her life…forever. Her sons would fight like no sons have ever fought. Their fights would become wars, their hatred would spread beyond their own selfish ambitions. There is no way for this to become a happy ending story in the lifetime of Rebekah. 

So, she does what she thinks she can, and needs to do. She takes control, the best way she knows how. She protects the weaker Jacob against the more powerful brother Esau. She quietly instigates a deception against her own husband and Esau. Isaac goes in the opposite direction favoring Esau, further widening the split. They all allow their own pain and misery to destroy themselves and their family. Isaac ends up repeating the mistakes of his father and Rebekah goes into the manipulative mode of her mother-in-law.

God’s word does not sugar coating anything, ‘Jacob is not characterized in the most favorable of ways. Jacob is depicted as “grabbing” his brother’s firstborn right which will be continued in the characterization of Jacob as trickster that in subsequent narratives will mark Jacob’s way in the world. This portrayal makes the election of Jacob by God all the more remarkable. There is nothing in Jacob’s behavior that deserved God’s favor — actually God’s favor comes in spite of Jacob’s actions. This line of interpretation makes a strong case for God’s grace — a God who already is involved with people in their mother’s womb, within the very messiness and conflict of relationships. (Juliana Claassens, Professor of Old Testament, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

What do we do with the tragic story of Rebekah? She is our matriarch of living with struggle and heartache. She reflects to us our own agony of being human. But it actually is not hopeless, the words of the prophet Isaiah, as he spoke to a people who were also facing a lifetime of misery reminded them and us. 

“But as for you, you are mine, my chosen ones; for you are Abraham’s family, and he was my friend. I have called you back from the ends of the earth and said that you must serve but me alone, for I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Even now, I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God—say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you. Fear not, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer; I am the Holy One. The joy of the Lord shall fill you full; you shall glory in the God of Israel. (Isaiah 41:8-16)

The final country of our recent Europe trip was the Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam. I have to admit when we first arrived I was not all that impressed but the longer we stayed the more I liked the city. The Netherlands are ranked high in their education system, and their politicians support the system. They rank much lower that the US in Violent crime rates including murder and rape. Their healthcare is comparable to the US using a combination of public and private except they require insurance for all. Healthcare is provided for all children to 18 years of age. The high temp while we were there was 65 degrees while back here in the US, it was daily topping over 10,000 degrees – and, there is a noticeable absence of bugs. They are deeply concerned about climate change, which makes sense being, themselves, already under water. They are serious about reducing their carbon footprint with an effective transit system, including bikes, millions of bikes, millions of bikes, on the roads everyday – on the other hand, you will see very few helmets and even fewer child safety precautions. Overall, though, the thing that caught my attention was how many dads I would see, after work, out with their children, playing in the parks, pushing a stroller, engaging everyday.

So, I was surprised when I was asked after we returned about the trip and as soon as I mentioned Amsterdam the individuals I was sharing with said, “Oh, Amsterdam makes me cry.” I was caught off guard until I asked what part of Amsterdam she had seen. She had been on a mission trip to Amsterdam, and as it  turned out had only seen the Red Light District – a famous multi block/alley ways are of legal prostitution and other nevarious activities, stuff that also takes place in all other countries but is hidden. 

While I left the country impressed by many aspects but deeply moved by the family environment – she had only seen the bad.

Rebekah cried out to God for a reason for her pregnancy agony – God answered honestly. What God said was that there would be no good, just that the bad would be really bad. Good stuff did happen,like a miraculous moment of forgiveness by the abused older brother Esau given to his manipulative brother. But, it does not seem that Rebekah was able to see any of that, she was looking out for Jacob, she was only on the watch for the bad. Rebekah went into her room turned her television and radios to the stations that would echo her misery expecting expectations and she heard nothing else, she saw nothing else, she lived with nothing else. 

To see God’s work we have to look for God’s work. To recognize hope, we have to look for moments of hope. To hear God’s plan we must still live out God’s directive to love. We have to look for good, we have to look for holy, we have to look for God, we have to trust God – even in the worst of times.

As we face, and we will face, the unthinkable, the mundane, the agonizing, the ordinary, the unknown and unimaginable, do we trust God to carry us through? Do we look for good, do we look for holy, do we look to God, the author and perfecter of our faith?

Let’s pray.

Music Leaning on the Everlasting Arms 
Vs. 1 and ChorusVerse 1What a fellowship what a joy divine
Leaning on the everlasting arms
What a blessedness what a peace is mine
Leaning on the everlasting arms
sting arms

ChorusLeaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning (leaning on Jesus)
Leaning on the everlasting arms
Community [Slides]

  • World’s Worst Inlaw, Next Sunday, Genesis 29:15-28
  • Miserable Endings, Wednesday Lunch and Bible Study, Noon this Wednesday at Fellowship Center, schedule at gfnorman.com, bring your own lunch
  • GF Business Gathering today, 10 minutes following morning worship
  • Parking free for all Fellowship center gatherings/meetings – all church stuff

Closing Peace [Slides]
May the Peace of the Lord go with you.
And also with you.
Go in the peace of the Lord.

Order, Words, & Voices

07.24.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song That’s Why We Praise Him Lynn

Prayer Rick

Howdy Moment…. (Online & Inperson) Steve, Kelly, & Linda

Song Oceans Lynn

Reading (Online & Inperson) Kelly & Linda

Songs Graeat Is Thy Faithfulness Lynn

Message The Voice(s) of God Rick

Song ? Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music [Slides]

That’s Why We Praise Him

He came to live live a perfect life He came to be the living word our light

He came to die so we’d be reconciled He came to rise to show His pow’r and might

That’s why we praise Him that’s why we sing That’s why we offer Him our ev’rything

That’s why we bow down and worship this King ‘Cause He gave His ev’rything

He came to live  live again in us He came to be our conquering King and friend

He came to heal and show the lost ones His love He came to go prepare a place for us

That’s why we praise Him that’s why we sing That’s why we offer Him our ev’rything

That’s why we bow down and worship this King ‘Cause He gave His ev’rything

Halle hallelujah Halle hallelujah

That’s why we praise Him that’s why we sing That’s why we offer Him our ev’rything

That’s why we bow down and worship this King ‘Cause He gave His ev’rything

Prayer [Slides Midway through]

Prayer comes from David’s prayer-Psalm 116 and Jesus’ prayer-Matthew 6:9-13

I love you Lord, you bent down to hear my voice.  You inclined you ear to me, so I will call on him as long as I live. Death itself has encompassed me; the place of death has attempted to hold on to me; for this reason I suffered distress and anguish. That is when I called on you, that is when I shouted “O Lord, save my life!” Gracious are you Lord and righteous; are you God. You protect the simple; and when I was brought low, you saved me. Return, me to your rest, for you, God, have dealt generously with me. You have delivered me from eternal death, you have dried my tears, and you have kept my feet from stumbling. I walk before you Lord in the land of the living. I shall keep my faith forever.

[Slides Begin] [Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer]

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.

Forgive us our trespasses, 

While we learn to forgive those who trespass against us.

And, God, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever.

Amen

Howdy…. [No slides]

Meet Kelly Segal of Sierra Vista, AZ and Linda Hall of Norman OK.

  • What is the temperature outside where you are right now?
  • What is your current profession, or, if you are retired, what was you profession?
  • Please share 3 Quick facts about you that will help us know you better?

Music [Slides]

Oceans

You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters Your sov’reign hand will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So, I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace  I am Yours and You are mine

Reading [No Slides]

[Kelly] Now Abraham was old, advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

[Linda] The servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, all kinds of choice gifts from his master, and set out and went to the city of Nahor. Abraham’s servant made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was the time when women go out to draw water. The servant prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and then she will say, ‘Drink, while I water your camels’— God, let her be the one who is to be the wife of Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

[Kelly] Before Abraham’s servant finished praying, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then Abraham’s servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

[Linda] Now Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field, and, looking up, he saw camels coming. Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she jumped quickly from the camel and said to Abraham’s servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master, the man you are to marry.” Rebekah took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.

Genesis 24

Music [Slides]

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father There is no shadow Of turning with Thee

Thou changest not Thy compassions they fail not 

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness 

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Summer and winter And springtime and harvest 

Sun moon and stars In their courses above

Join with all nature In manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness Mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Pardon for sin And a peace that endureth 

Thy own dear presence To cheer and to guide

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Message The Voice(s) of God [No Slides]

Genesis 24

I have reached that time in life where my body has begun to give up on me. A couple of decades ago my vision began to fail, and now, my hearing is beginning to reveal signs of fatigue. I have been to the doctor and am now calculating the desired level of hearing in direct comparison to how much I am willing to pay. I’m finding that, in addition to my inability to hear everything, I was also am having to strain to assign voices to the speaker. 

Figuring out who is speaking is one of primary messages from our passage today. I love the closing visual of today’s passage, “Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she jumped quickly from the camel.” (Genesis 24:64)

While this is probably the translation in your bible, “Rebekah look up, saw Isaac, and jumped quickly off the camel.” Some scholars feel that it is more authentic to translate this passage as “..she fell off the camel.” This may have been the first ‘falling in love” moment – probably the first Hallmark moment.

But this of course, is not the beginning on this journey to love for Isaac and Rebecca – both had a story before ever setting eyes on each other. The story of Rebecca’s journey is a story of discerning God’s voice, while being a story of the three primary voices of God we hear in scripture.

Hearing God’s voice is a challenge. There is so much noise all around us, so much clutter within our hearing range, plus, so many voices competing with God’s voice. Often times our biggest question in our journey is ‘What is God saying to me?’’ Sometimes that question is accompanied by ‘How can I identify my voice, or the voice of others, or even what I want God to say or sound like. verses God’s actual voice of God’?’

It is a difficult question to answer, it is a part of our life journey, a question that, for all but a few, never goes away.  Genesis 24 gives us three examples of God’s voice and how it is particular to the person being spoken to and the moment in which it is spoken. 

The first example in Genesis 24 is God speaking to Abraham. Here, God’s voice is obvious, Abraham actually hears God’s voice to which he interacts with just as he would another human being. While, in our day, many claim to hear God’s voice as Abraham, however, few if any are honestly hearing God’s audible voice. 

When one of my sons was in his teens, he came home from a bible study a bit dissolution by the study leader. The leader was a young adult male who would frequently justify his choices, usually very selfish choices,  by saying “God told me to do this….” To which my son sarcastically said, “I’m pretty sure next week he is going to say ‘God told me to buy the latest XBox.’ This was all the more outrageous because the leader would also frequently talk about how broke he was. 

Abraham actually only heard God’s audible voice seven times over a thirty year period. There are just a handful of individuals in scripture who have such an audible experience – Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah and his sons, Abraham and Sarah, Hagar,, Rebekah, Moses, most of the Prophets, Jesus, some of the apostles, and a handful of others. Actually hearing God’s voice is not a commonality in scripture, it is a rarity. 

We cannot help but ask the question, ‘why did God speak to these in this manner and not me?’ If we look at this list, however, we see some common elements that may help give us a clue. Most of those listed prior to the prophets are early history, there is no precedent for anyone in regard to God. There are no testimonial traditions, there are no written sacred writings, there is not even any fragments of stone on which God wrote truth. Most of the time, those that hear God’s audible voice have no other person or resource for God to communicate through. Even if God were to send an angel messenger, there would be no understanding of who this messenger came from – in these cases, a direct voice from God is essential. God is not speaking here to a people who have a greater or lesser faith, this is simply a moment of God having no other avenue to communicate. God speaks directly because it is the only way for them to hear. 

While we may think that an audible voice would be impossible to ignore and outrageously faith affirming, the truth is that the lessons from these that did hear the audible voice, they had just as difficult time trusting this voice of God as we do with the voice God uses to speak to us.

The second example of hearing God’s voice is heard in the prayer of Abraham’s servant. 

“O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and in doing so you will be showing unfailing love to my master, Abraham. Right now as I speak, I am standing beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. God, this is my request (this is the voice I am able to hear). I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’— that will be the proof from you that this is the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will hear your voice.” (Genesis 24:12-14)

The anxiety level in Abraham’s servant spurred on by this mission was at least in the ninety percent level. The servant little to stand on in regard to knowing God. He knew that Abraham, his master, trusted this God. He maybe had heard second hand, from Abraham, about these holy audible engagements  Abraham. But the servant had nothing to base any personal belief on. He had to find the one woman that was to be Isaac’s wife, only then would he be released from the burden of this mission. So, since for him, seeing was believing, he said to God, “If I see this, I will know that this is the woman you have selected.” It was a pretty specific request and would be a fairly undeniable sign that this was God’s voice.

This is much like the request of Gideon who set out a similar request to God…”Do this and I will know this is from you.” Gideon, however, found that even this was not quite as satisfying as he expected, so he asked God for a second go round to prove this to himself. God’s ‘do this and I will believe’ voice seldom results in an answer that that truly enhances the faith of the person, it is seldom an avenue to strength one’s faith, and it is seldom God’s intention in using an such a voice voice. However, it is a voice from God that is an earthly evidence of God’s compassion and mercy.  

Abraham’s servant was desperate, he needed God to do this, after which we do not really know what impacts it had on the him.

This third voice we hear from God is revealed in the relationship of Holy and Rebekah, the ultimate fiancé selected for Isaac. Rebekah, was simply doing the one holy thing she knew to do, it was not a prayer, it was part of her life. The holy tradition of Hospitality was a constant in the Middle East, as it is today. Rebekah was found in Nahor in Mesopotamia, an area known as Abraham’s homeland prior to God’s call to leave. We soon learn that Rebekah, is from the same family as Abraham. Since the family that Abraham left behind were not worshipers of the one true God, it can only be assumed that Rebekah was also raised in this tradition, but, she did practice this holy truth of hospitality (a precursor to loving the other),.

‘When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the native-born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Rebekah’s story does not begin with a prayer, it does not take place in a moment of desperation; this story is about a woman, who knew a holy truth, and authentically had absorbed that truth into her life. A stranger from another country shows up at the well, she gives him a drink, then proceeds to care for his camels, giving them drink. Ten camels, each drinking at least 30-50 gallons of water, that is an authentic and genuine sacrifice of hospitality. 

God’s answer was to reveal the character and the heart of this woman to Abraham’s servant. This was a revelation that this woman was the right choice for Isaac. The servant does not ask for more proof, like Gideon, asking her to do something else, the servant accepts this as God’s voice.

Interestingly, if we were to pick this apart, the instruction for the servant is that he would be released of his burden once he found and invited the woman accompany him home to Isaac. If the woman had married Isaac and been a mistake, it would have reflected poorly on the servant.  The servant’s trust in God’s answer at this early stage of faith, without any caveats, is truly amazing.

Sometimes God’s answer is already in our heart as well as in our mind. If we have not hardened ourselves to the voice of God, we will know the direction of God. For Rebekah, she was already acting on God’s voice that she knew, to show hospitality, love others as much as you love yourself, sacrifice for this person as you would do for yourself. God’s voice had already spoke the answer to Rebekah’s prayer, “Should I help this foreigner?” God had answered this prayer long before Rebekah would have needed to ask it. It was an answer to a prayer that was given long before she had need to ask God – therefore she didn’t even need to ask. She already knew, it was already in her internal hard drive. 

We do not pick the voice of God that we hear, it is determined by our need. God’s voice and answer are seldom going to be what we expect, the tonal aspects of God’s voice may not be immediately identified as that of God, even when heard audibly from God. 

How do we know what we hear, regardless of the form, that we are hearing God’s voice?

Lieutenant Scott Swires says, “This is very similar to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which encourages us to use Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason in relationship with the Holy Spirit as sounding boards. (Lieutenant Scott Swires, Rome, NY Salvation Army)

Simply put, we critique the voice to determine if it echoes the voice of God in the person of God in the flesh, Jesus. We remember God’s revealing truth is given to us in order that we will be ready to discern and identify God’s voice. We return to scripture, we return to the teachings, we dig through our treasure chest to see if it matches up to the movement of God that we know, we seek the Spirit’s guidance as we listen. We ask ‘Does this voice line up?’ In the end, just like with Rebekah, it is going to come down to living holy so that we will recognize – living right, living holy, requires following the one that is right, the right(eous) Jesus Christ.

This is the sound of God’s Voice to at least 90% of our prayers, dilemmas,  and questions we present to God. Prior to the prayer we strive to live out the life of Jesus, always striving to know Jesus more, then, for further evidence, we use Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason. 

We go into the question, and discerning the voice by the fact that we already know of peace, mercy, compassion, we recognize that life is life eternal, we trust God.

Jesus said, ‘The king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and we gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and we welcomed you or naked and we gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the King responded, “When you did it to the least then you have done it to me”’ (Matthew 25:34-39)

Somehow, Rebekah already knew the voice of God even before she met God. 

Let’s pray,

God, “we see your face in the face of the poor. We hear your voice on the tongues of our black brothers and sisters as they are unjustly degraded. We feel your presence in the presence of women who refused to sit down, who refused to be quiet. God, sometimes your voice is heard in the oppositional, and possibly mocking, voices of others. God, you are all around us, you are among us, and you are at work in us and in our world.” Amen.*

*Prayer words borrowed from Jakob Topper, Pastor, Northaven Church, Norman, OK

Music [Slides]

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father There is no shadow Of turning with Thee

Thou changest not Thy compassions they fail not 

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness 

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Summer and winter And springtime and harvest 

Sun moon and stars In their courses above

Join with all nature In manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness Mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Pardon for sin And a peace that endureth 

Thy own dear presence To cheer and to guide

Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning New mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Community [Slides]

  • A Haunting Oracle, Next Sunday, Genesis 25:1-28
  • Wednesday Lunch – July 27 Noon (pick up your lunch at Joes or elsewhere and bring it with you to Fellowship Center)
  • GF Business Gathering next Sunday 10 minutes following morning worship

Closing Peace [Slides]

May the Peace of the Lord go with you.

And also with you.

Go in the peace of the Lord.

Order, Words, & Voices

Order, Words, & Voices

07.10.22

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Song To God Be the Glory Lynn

Prayer Rick

Song Great Things Lynn

Reading Acts 9:1-19 Isaiah online & Petty inperson

Songs Who You Say I Am Lynn

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Message Unexpected Journeys/People Rick

Song Make Room Lynn

Closing Peace Rick

Post Worship Music

Words and Voices

Music

To God Be The Glory

CCLI Song # 23426  Fanny Jane Crosby | William Howard Doane

Verse 1

To God be the glory great things He has done
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin
And opened the life gate that all may go in

Chorus

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Verse 3

Great things He has taught us
Great things He has done
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder our transport when Jesus we see

Chorus

Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the earth hear His voice
Praise the Lord praise the Lord
Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory great things He has done

Prayer

Lord, we gather today because of our desire to know you.

We gather because of our dedication to seeking you.

We gather because you are our God, our creator, our redeemer, our hope and peace.

You, God, have shown us mercy, compassion, and grace even though we do not deserve them.

You, God, have offered us eternity and peace even in this moment.

You God, have shown us what it is to love as you are love.

God, may we, in this morning, in this moment stand ready to say yes to your unexpected journeys.

God, may we, in this morning, in this moment say yes to your unexpected people.

[Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer]

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.

Forgive us our trespasses, 

and teach us how to forgive those who trespass against us.

And, God, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever.

Amen

Music

Great Things

CCLI Song # 7111321 Jonas Myrin | Phil Wickham

Verse 1

Come let us worship our King
Come let us bow at His feet
He has done great things
See what our Savior has done
See how His love overcomes
He has done great things
He has done great things

Chorus

O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

Verse 2

You’ve been faithful through every storm
You’ll be faithful forevermore
You have done great things
And I know You will do it again
For Your promise is yes and amen
You will do great things
God You do great things

Chorus

O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

Bridge

Hallelujah God above it all
Hallelujah God unshakable
Hallelujah You have done great things
(REPEAT)
You’ve done great things

Chorus

O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things
We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

Reading

[Isaiah] Thereligious leader Paul, went to the high priest and asked for letters to the synagogues allowing him, if he found any Jesus followers in Damascus, to bind them and take them to Jerusalem. As Paul was on the way to Damascus a light from heaven flashed around him. Paul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Paul, Paul, why do you persecute me?” Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now, get up and enter Damascus, and then you will be told what to do when you get there.”  

[Petty] There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Paul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision that a man named Ananias will lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” Ananias responded, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, and now he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 

[Isaiah] The Lord said to Ananias, “Paul is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 

[Petty] So Ananias went and laid his hands on Paul and said, “the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from Paul’s eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Acts 9:1-19

Music

Who You Say I Am

CCLI Song # 7102401  Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan

Verse 1

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Chorus 1

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Verse 2

Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

Chorus 2

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Bridge

I am chosen not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me not against me
I am who You say I am

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

CCLI Song # 7117260  Dwan Hill | Helen H. Lemmel | Lauren Daigle | Paul Mabury

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Message

“Can God create a stone that is too heavy for even God to lift?” It is a question, designed, no doubt, to lead a person of faith to question the omnipotence of God. This particular quandary has been reshaped in various wordings to adapt this paradoxical question to any one of the Abrahamic faiths. “Can Allah create…”, Can Yaweh create…”, Can God create…”.

A quasi theological paradox is intentionally designed to present a lose-lose dilemma for anyone believing in an omnipotent God. Either answer lands the believer in a place of potentially discrediting their faith. It is basically the same set up as the Pharisee’s question of Jesus, “Should we, the followers of the true God, pay taxes to Ceasar, who claims himself to be God?” Either answer option that Jesus was seemingly limited to would would leave him in an untenable state, discrediting God or rebelling against the Roman oppressors. However, Jesus had a third answer that was rooted in truth and holiness at the same time.

The apostles, and those they mentored to become leaders in the New Testament church, may have not been queried about an uxliftable stone, or the righteousness of paying taxes, however, they most likely did have paradoxical questions weighing on their own minds. Questions that came not from skeptics, but from themselves as they faced a reality that often seemed in conflict with the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Questions such as…

  • How is it possible that the God’s Spirit would lead us to speak when no one chooses to listen?
  • Why would God call us to a proclaim his love to a people who only seem capable of hate?
  • Is is even possible to extend Jesus’ mercy and compassion to a people who are permanently positioned to only see themselves?
  • How can we proclaim the message of freedom from a prison cell, or worse, in our own death?

And most often, they probably were asking, 

  • “How is it that I have ended up here when I we were so sure the Spirit was leading us there?”

It is quite probable that the group of ‘good news’ preachers, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and eventually Luke, that we see in today’s passage, had this paradox on their minds as they attempted to get to Asia where they had mutually agreed was the place where the Spirit was leading them. Note, the apostles and other future leaders did not make their decisions of where they were to go, nor did they decide the people they would go to, it was a group decisions of all going, and, often, a decision of the church sending them to a place and a people. Just prior to our passage today, this group of preachers, as well as their church, had felt that the Spirit was leading them to go to Asia Minor. 

“They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them to go there; so, by passing Mysia, they ended up in Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When Paul told the group about the vision, they immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, because they were convinced that God was calling them to proclaim the good news to to the Macedonians. The four left Troas sailed by Samothrace and then finally landed in Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. Then, they were stuck in Philippi for several days, many of which were unpleasant days.” (Acts 16:6-12)

This group of preachers, called by God to be one place, stuck in another place, had questions not that dissimilar to our own questions. We, too, often ask God why we have landed in an unexpected place, or with an unexpected people – questions that address what we did or what we should have done, questions asking if God is still there, if God has abandoned us, and if God has run out of patience with us.

These leaders though, ultimately had to frequently return to the truth they had heard since their childhood, words that have been given to us as well – truths that remain as powerful today as they did when they were first given.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for me?” To which the prophet Jeremiah responds, “Oh, the Lord God! It is you God who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.” (Jeremiah 32)

Jesus said it in fewer words, “With humans much can be impossible, but with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

So, yes, God can create a stone that is too heavy for even God to lift, and yes, at the same time, God can lift that same stone. For God, there is a third option that is impossible for us as humans to see and understand – much like the paradox of Jesus being 100% God and a 100% man, or the paradox of Free Will and Sovereignty.

Paul had only recently become a follower of Jesus. He, along with most of the leaders of the Jesus followers, was Jewish and in his mind he thought following Jesus was the natural step of his faith not an entirely new faith. After all, Jesus was the promised Messiah that he, and all of those who shared his faith had been seeking. This was Paul’s path, his journey, in his mind this was the natural progression and the destination he expected. Christianity was the next unexpected journey of his faith. This was why we see him voice such despondency in the rejection of Jesus by his fellow Jews.

Being Jewish, and recognized as a Jewish leader, Paul usually would to a local synagogue on the Sabbath in whatever place he was, there he could preach the gospel when asked to speak. But in Philippi, he goes to a river on the Sabbath, suggesting that the city does not have a synagogue.  This was probably because Philippi did not have many resident Male Jews. Jewish law required that at least ten male Jewish heads of households should be available for regular attendance before a synagogue could be formed (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 1.6). If the minimum of ten cannot be met, a place of prayer was selected for an informal Sabbath gathering in some peaceful setting, either in a building or outdoors. Those present would recite the Shema (a couple lines from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-5). This became their prayer, basically the equivalent of our Lord’s prayer. 

So, in this probable setting, the four preachers find the “place of prayer” near Philippi, where, possibly only women were present, not the man from Paul’s vision. Women were a minority population and an unexpected people for this group of preachers. The traveling preachers were allowed to speak some words of wisdom, offer some exhortation, and deliver a blessing. 

I can imagine how the other three quickly volunteered Paul to speak.

‘Among the group of women was a woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, who was listening to Paul; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. She and her household were baptized. Lydia urged the four preachers, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon them.” (Acts 16:14-15)

Philippi was neither Paul, nor Lydia’s, home town, they were both in this unexpected place. Paul had no idea why he was there and Lydia was there on business. It was the Sabbath, a day of rest for Lydia, it was the Sabbath, a day of preaching for Paul. Both went to a faith gathering of others that shared their faith.

Lydia was a worshipper of God. We can assume that this was the God of the Jews since she finds the Sabbath gathering while in Philippi. We do not know if she was a Jewish follower of God or is she is a gentile who has made the adult decision to follow the God of the Jews. Lydia, much like Paul, was dedicated in her search for the coming Messiah. She has chosen to make her life an intentional journey of faith to seek and search for the Redeemer – even though, she was seen by others as a business person.

Lydia was a successful business woman in a lucrative field. She not only set the example of a genuine faith, but she also becomes an encourager and financial supporter to the apostles’ work and mission. I think also, that she was an example, an encourager, and possibly also a financial supporter of women in a society that did not respect for recognize women in the public square.

Lydia listened as Paul Spoke, and in that moment she heard and believed that Jesus was the Redeemer. After Lydia and her household were baptized, she invited the preachers to her home fulfilling the God set standard of hospitality and respect to the men. She offers everything she has as a sacrifice of her faith. Her immediate sacrifice is instant powerful evidence of her genuine and authentic faith. She had wholeheartedly listened to Paul, and now she asked Paul, and the others to listen to her life.

Lydia wanted these preachers to listen to her life through the words of actions, her heart. Her question was, ‘Am I on the right track, am I doing this right?’

Lydia, and her family understood what it meant to treat others in the way God desired, a way of respect and honor, a way that paints a picture for all of the Grace with which Jesus met others, the manner in which God expects us to treat others, a moment free of judgement and condemnation, a moment of humility freed from arrogance. 

Lydia’s example of radical faith evidenced through radical hospitality, in such an unexpected moment, is more of a lesson teaching us how to remain diligent in the midst of an ordinary journey. Lydia made the most of every moment, looking for the holy in each place she lands, in every person she meets.  Consider this.

  • When Paul meets Lydia she is a follower of a God that that was foreign to her, God was probably not the god she grew up with. However, she had made the decision, as an adult, to follow this God. She had wanted more, she had been open to the moving of the Spirit she did not know, she longed for truth. She found this in the same God of Paul.
  • Lydia, had an open mind, she was seeking truth, she had broken free of the lies planted in her mind. So, wherever she was she took the opportunity to look for that truth. She had not permitting anyone to limit her search for truth or to close her mind. Those dear to her, Political bullies, and even controlling pagan religious leaders had not been permitted to stifle her search. Her God had promised a deliverer, she was expecting and ready for that hope.
  • In having an open mind, she was ready for an open heart. It just took the touch of the Spirit for her to receive the news of the Savior Jesus.
  • Lydia, like all believers, didn’t settle for the truth she knew, she continued to seek and search and critique each new nugget of truth she was offered.

God is often in the unexpected places and God is often in the midst the unexpected people. We just have to look, listen, and using the stepping stones our faith, in order that we will be ready to receive.

The calling of each of the disciples was possible because they were already seeking. The transformation of Paul was because he was on his own messed up mission of hope for the coming Messiah – they all had open minds. A woman, in an unexpected moment, after a decade long issue of bleeding, reached out to Jesus, the one she had been seeking.

This is actually a questions for believers. While we think a point of saying ‘yes’ to Jesus is our final journey, we fail to recognize that there are many more questions to ask, and many more paradoxes to ponder, all meant to help us better know God. I think this is what we will experience in eternity, a peaceful continued journey of knowing God more.

What are we doing with the moments on the way? What are we finding in the midst of the journey. How much do we miss. How often do we turn away because the Journey or the People are not what we expect.

This past week I had an unexpected moment on a tram in Amsterdam. As I boarded and sat down, a woman turned and asked me is she was on the right train. I was not a very good person to ask, I hardly understood her question. In the midst of speaking I recognized that she was from Ukraine. I reacted like she was a celebrity, asking how long she had been away from her home (3 months), and if she still had family there (she did, her husband, and then I forgot that this could be a holy moment, she needed to make sure she got on the right tram to get her to the train station. But, being a gawker, I asked ‘Is her husband fighting?’ – she waved her hand as tears began to well up and turned her head away. She just needed some reassurance she was going the right direction, I just wanted to talk to a person that was close up to a world tragedy I had been hearing about. She just needed the comfort of an answer which I failed to give her because I didn’t even attempt to recognize this life moment for her. 

A evangelistic leader from a couple of decades ago developed an entire ministry on this concept of moments. It is a ministry that was, and is, successful still today. I am beginning to wonder, though, about his approach to holy moments. His approach to all moments was that they were to be filled with words of religious persuasion, with an agenda to convert others to Jesus. If he laid his head on his pillow at night and realized that he had not shared the gsopel that day, he would jump up and go out onto the street and grab the first person he saw to share the ‘good news’. I had a time when I thought that was admirable, there was at least one sermon I preached in which I expressed admiration for that man. But as I interact with a hurting world, and even more, as I look at what Jesus did with every moment, I’m beginning to think we are missing opportunities with our moments, opportunities to be the ears, hands, and feet of Jesus in the midst of a suffering world.

We live imagining that our moments are holy because they are for us to accomplish something. Something Holy like convincing another of our faith. Sometimes moments are just to listen, and some, not so many, are for us to just shut up and listen. We use the phrase “To understand another we must walk a mile in their shoes.” Bene Brown says that it is actually it is impossible for us to walk in their shoes, instead, we have to listen to others, and their stories of this moment, and believe them.

Brent Brown also says, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments – they are right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.’

What are we doing with our moments?

Let’s pray.

Music

Make Room

CCLI Song # 7122057

Evelyn Heideriqui | Josh Farro | Lucas Cortazio | Rebekah White

Verse

Here is where I lay it down
Every burden every crown
This is my surrender
This is my surrender
Here is where I lay it down
Every lie and every doubt
This is my surrender

Chorus

And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to
And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to

Verse

Here is where I lay it down
Every burden every crown
This is my surrender
This is my surrender
Here is where I lay it down
Every lie and every doubt
This is my surrender

Chorus

And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to
And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to

Bridge

Shake up the ground of all my tradition
Break down the walls of all my religion
Your way is better
Your way is better

Chorus

And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to
And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to

Chorus

And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to
And I will make room for you
To do whatever you want to
To do whatever you want to

Closing Peace
May the Peace of the Lord go with you.

And also with you.

Go in the peace of the Lord

Order, Words, & Voices

July 3, 2022

Pre-Worship Audio (SLIDE 1)

Call to Worship (SLIDES 2-4)              Randy (online)

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

Psalm 101 The Message (MSG)

Songs  (SLIDE 5)

Make a Joyful Noise (31)

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Make a loud noise and rejoice!

Sing praises!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Make a loud noise and rejoice!

Sing praises!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Psalm 101 (SLIDES 6-9)    – Kristin

My theme song is God’s love and justice,
    and I’m singing it right to you, God.
I’m finding my way down the road of right living,
    but how long before you show up?
I’m doing the very best I can,
    and I’m doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
    at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
    stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
    I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
    who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can’t stand
    arrogance.
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
    they’re the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
    these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
    gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I’ve rounded up all the wicked like cattle
    and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God’s city
    of all who make a business of evil.

Psalm 101 (The Message)

Song of Praise

Bless His Holy Name (36)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And all that is within me,

Bless God’s holy name. (repeat)

God has done great things.

God has done great things.

God has done great things,

Bless God’s holy name.

Prayer             Kristin

Scripture  (SLIDE 11)   Segun

Acts 9:36-43

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Spiritual Exercise  (SLIDE 12) Kristin

Songs  (SLIDE 13)

Lord, Be Glorified (537)

In my life, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.

In my life, Lord, be glorified today.

In my work, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.

In my work, Lord, be glorified today.

In our church, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.

In our church, Lord, be glorified today.

Message (SLIDE 14)   Kristin

I’m glad to join you for our final Sunday together, at least for now. This time has been a true blessing for me. I’ve enjoyed digging in further to the book of Acts, to looking at some passages that are often overlooked, and finding together some wisdom for today. Most of all, I am thankful to be in a congregation that is so welcoming and loving. Any time you ask, I will come back!

This past week I traveled to Dallas for the CBF General Assembly. I don’t want to assume that you all know what CBF is, so let me refresh your memory. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is the network that this church, my home church, and others take part in. General Assembly is our annual gathering for the people of CBF. People from around the world join for worship, renewal, learning, and a little bit of business. Mostly we come together to see old friends. I didn’t attend one breakout session this year. Instead I caught up with friends, made connections, talked to people about God, church, our world, our families, and life in general. It was the first time we had been together since the pandemic began, so it was especially meaningful.

For the first time this year, I found myself standing in the middle of the circle of life. I saw good friends who had mentored me: my favorite seminary professor and his wife, who supervised my internship; former colleagues and pastors; colleagues on committees, and others who taught me lessons of life and ministry. What made this year so different was rooming with a fellow minister whom I met when I taught her in first grade Sunday School. Yes, now I am the old mentor! She enjoyed telling people what I had taught her, much as I enjoy introducing those who have led me along. I met other young ministers from OKC and showed them the ropes of General Assembly. I met up with young people I mentor in their summer missions. It was one of those special moments in life when you see the baton passing and it was sweet for me.

This moment highlighted to me just how many Kristins there are. Not that I have multiple personalities, but that there is not just one story of me. For some I am still the young seminary student, or, as my professor told someone this week, “One of his most favoritest!” For others I am the children’s minister that showed them the joys of working with children. To others, I am the CBF long-timer who knows so many people. “How long have you been involved in CBF?” All of us wear many hats. Spouse. Child. Parent. Friend. Colleague. Neighbor. Our own identities have so many unique aspects, not seen by all people at all times. We are multi-faceted.

We have discovered this story in the book of Acts. During my first week here, three weeks ago, we spent some time revisiting the story of Pentecost. We uncovered the truth that many women disciples were present and blessed by the Spirit. Tradition and church history had hidden this story from our view, choosing instead to show a point of view in which the women were not present, or busy in the kitchen serving food. But the story God told was one of inclusion in which the women were present at the moment the Spirit was given, equally blessed in the moment the church was born.

And this is a recurring issue in Acts. To be fair, this is not necessarily done to be harmful. Any story must focus on the core of the story. We cannot know the full story of each person present or the story would last for hours as we detailed each facet of each person present. Key details are shared while others are left out, leaving room for the essential lesson to shine through. Some stories are shockingly lacking in details we wish were included. For example, I want to know how many women were at Pentecost. I want to hear how they were blessed. I want to know what they were doing as the disciples were out preaching, or assigning one another to help the widows to receive equal food in the distribution. Did the women lead in prayers in their gatherings? The Scriptures give us hints and glimpses of the women, enough to say with some certainty that they were doing plenty of these things. Their God story is there for us to see. But tradition, the human story of the church, leaves them out. It doesn’t think to include them. Again I say, this may not be done with bad intentions, it may simply be a product of a culture that held women in lower esteem. It was a story written by men: maybe they weren’t aware, or tuned in, to the presence of the women and their work. No matter the cause, we have to read closely a story such as the story of Tabitha to find the God story laying just behind the tradition.

Tabitha is someone we need to consider more closely. On its surface, this story is written to show us Peter, leader of the new church, raising someone from the dead. Peter’s actions give him authority as an apostle, they link him to Jesus’ power, and account for a miracle. Tabitha is a nice lady who does nice things and is rewarded with new life. What else can we say about Tabitha?

Tabitha is a woman who is able to build bridges across cultures and divides. It’s interesting to me that her name is given in its Aramaic form, Tabitha, and also in Greek, Dorcas. Luke has some reason for recording both her names. I suspect that she was well known in both the Jewish, or Aramaic speaking, community, and in the Greek community. She is a cultural hybrid, straddling the line between the two cultures. This isn’t easy. In Acts 6:1-11, we read of the first church conflict. It’s between the Jewish widows and the Greek widows living in Jerusalem. The Greek widows complain that the Jewish widows are receiving more food in the weekly distribution. The apostles respond by appointing seven men, some from each of the two cultures, to handle the situation. Here in the city of Joppa, one woman has single-handedly taken on the task of caring for the women of both cultures. That alone make her story important. She is exhibiting cross-cultural skills in ministry.

But more than that, her actions with the widows are the actions of a deacon. Those seven men in Jerusalem were named deacons, a term meaning “servant,” and an honorable title. Tabitha is named with the title “female disciple,” the only woman so named in Scripture. It’s a shame they couldn’t go ahead and call her a deacon, for surely her actions were the same as the deacons in Jerusalem, those seven men feeding and caring for the widows of two cultures. Take a moment to see her as a disciple, named such by tradition. But also take a moment to see her as a deacon, a God-appointed role, not recognized by the men of the church.

Perhaps that is not entirely true. When Tabitha dies, we find that it is the community who react. Tradition focuses on the widows who mourn Tabitha, who show Peter the clothes she made for them. But in verse 38, all the disciples react to her death, men and women. And they respond by sending two men for Peter. When Peter presents Tabitha, alive and well, back to the community it is all the disciples who receive her. Tabitha has built bridges between male and female, ministering to both.

We cannot say if Tabitha is married or widowed. Tradition tells us she is widowed, thus her particular care of widows. It is possible. She had money enough to make and give away clothes. She has some independence. We can’t help but notice that she is introduced on her own, not in relation to a husband or son, or any other man. She may be old, she may be young, she may be married, she may be widowed, but one thing we can say is that she is independent and celebrated. Don’t let yourself be fooled. God loves and celebrates all women, even independent ones. If you question that, reread Proverbs 31. That lady runs a business, runs her household, manages finances, everything. She is a modern-type women, doing it all and having it all. Tabitha is a Proverbs 31 woman.

We cannot leave our inspection of Tabitha without noticing the most important thing. Tabitha is full of the Spirit. Her actions are those of someone who is Spirit-filled. She is a disciple. She cares for the poor widows. She builds bridges between diverse people. Sadly, the Bible never names her as Spirit-filled. It never names one woman as full of the Spirit. Perhaps this is due to the fact that, in Acts, the natural outcome of being Spirit-filled is utterance of the Word. The refusal of the writer of Acts to call her Spirit-filled doesn’t take away this gift of God, clearly given at Pentecost through the prophecy of Amos, in which God’s Spirit is poured out on all flesh, male and female. Instead, this passage focuses on her good works. I invite you to see Tabitha as God sees her: Spirit-filled bridge builder, a disciple and a deacon, taking on tasks that even seven men find difficult. This hidden story of Tabitha is one we must hear.

In knowing the real Tabitha, we come full circle in another way. Let’s revisit for a moment the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Last week we read of their deception, their self-deception. Wanting to be like Barnabas, they offered a gift which they claimed to be as generous as his. They offered a portion of the sale of their field, a gift acceptable in itself, but they lied about it. They claimed they had given all. They hid behind a Barnabas mask, trying to deceive God about who they were. They put a lot of energy into an effort to be someone they were not rather than becoming all God called them to be.

Tabitha’s story is very different. Tabitha is living out her calling to God, despite our tendency to overlook her. She is doing the hard work of cultural bridge building. She is a seamstress, making more than enough to give away. She is a disciple, a deacon, a Spirit-filled woman. Tabitha is loved by the men and the women of her community. She isn’t trying to be someone different. If she were trying to model herself after the church in Jerusalem, she might not feel free to become a deacon to these widows. “Leave that task to the men,” someone might say. “That’s how they do it in Jerusalem!” Instead she does the task God puts in front of her. As a woman it might be easier for her to stay home, to care for her family. If she is a widow, she might in fact be eligible to receive aid. Instead she gives aid. Tabitha is a rule breaker, a bridge builder, and a Spirit filled child of God. She is unmasked before God and before us. She is everything she is called to be, everything she claims to be, and nothing more.

And what is the end result? Tabitha finds life. Ananias and Sapphira masked up, denied who they were, believed a story of themselves that wasn’t true, and they died. They died to a relationship with God and others that was honest and true. They broke community with their lies, while Tabitha built up her community with love and service. Tabitha lived into her story and found new life, both spiritual and physical, as Peter raised her from the dead. Denied the title of deacon, she lived into it. Unnamed as Spirit-filled, she lived out the Spirit placed within her by God. She lived her God story and found life.

This miracle is a demonstration of life over death, the power of Christ’s resurrection. This power gives us hope, compels us to create a more loving and just world, just like Tabitha did. As we do, we alert the world to the fact that God’s Spirit is still moving and shaking, still saving and reviving us. The God of love and justice is still willing to act on our behalf, to expose and glorify the hidden figures who serve Spirit purposes, to unmask those who deceive themselves and others, and to create a community full of new life. The Spirit places God desires in our hearts and gives us the means to fulfill that call. This is our hope. This is our strength. This is the gift of God, the power to be ourselves, fully and divinely inspired.

That same experience is available to us today. How many of us struggle to live into a story that isn’t ours? Are you seeking the career success someone told you to seek? Do you feel powerless because you don’t have the power our culture says you must? Are you hidden from view by your gender, your age, your shyness and introversion, your orientation, your culture, or any other thing? So what?! What we have seen together from Acts is a God who creates and celebrates all of your diversities. We see that God rewards those who live into who they are with life, and that those who live behind a mask find only death. Are you ready to be fully alive? Christ invites you to come into fellowship with God, to accept the gift offered to you. When you embrace the truth of who you are, flaws and all, and when you bring all of you to God, flaws and all, and claim the gift of new life Christ offers, you will be rewarded. You will find family and community. You will find honor and love, just as Tabitha did. Even if all you do remains hidden by the expectations of others, God sees and rewards you. You will be loved into the fullness of God. Come today.

Musical Response  (SLIDE 15)
This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine til Jesus comes.

I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine til Jesus comes.

I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine over the whole wide world,

I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine over the whole wide world,

I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Community  (no slide)   Kristin

Passing the Peace  (1 slide)   Kristin

Peace before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet.

Peace within us,
Peace over us,
Let all around us be peace.

Order, Voices, Words

June 26, 2022

Pre-Worship Audio (SLIDE 1)

Call to Worship (SLIDE 2)                   Hannah (online)

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

George MacDonald

Songs  (23 Slides)

Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

Praise is rising

Eyes are turning to You

We turn to You

Hope is stirring

Hearts are yearning for You

We long for You

‘Cause when we see You

We find strength to face the day

In Your presence

All our fears are washed away

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of

Hearts returning to You

We turn to You

In Your Kingdom

Broken lives are made new

You make us new

‘Cause when we see You

We find strength to face the day

In Your presence

All our fears are washed away

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Hosanna hosanna

You are the God who saves us

Worthy of all our praises

Hosanna hosanna

Come have Your way among us

We welcome You here Lord Jesus

Friend of God

Who am I that You are mindful of me

That You hear me when I call

Is it true that You are thinking of me

How You love me it’s amazing

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me

That You hear me when I call

Is it true that You are thinking of me

How You love me it’s amazing

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

God Almighty

Lord of Glory

You have called me friend

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

Prayer  (1 Slide)          Kristin

Scripture  (6 Slides)

Genesis 3:6-13, 21-22

 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 

Acts 4:32-5:11

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the salesand put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Film Clip  (1 Slide)

Response  (1 Slide)     Kristin

Consider the file drawer of your life. Think of all the things it might contain. Your joys and highlights. A childhood of friends and school, lessons, and laughter. It also contains sadness and loss. Moments of pain. We access these as needed. We tell stories. We relate wisdom. We relive times with those who are gone. A file drawer exists in our minds and in God.

But what about those files we don’t like to consider. Our shortcomings. Words said in anger. Actions done in haste. Secret sins we don’t want anyone to know about. While we know in our minds that God is aware, do we ever consider what that means for us? If God knows all the hidden files, how can God still love you? If God has access to our petty ways, hidden even from our own selves, is it possible for us to be used by God?

I invite you to pause. Let’s take moment of silence together and as we finish I will step aside and ask Andrew to pray for us. In silence we are often confronted by our sins and we avoid those places. Today, let us linger and consider what it means that God has welcomed us and loved us, even knowing the files we keep hidden. This minute may feel like an hour, but I invite you into the space where God knows all about you and loves you still. Welcome into the still and silent space before God.

Prayer   Andrew  (online)

Songs  (31 Slides)

Build Your Kingdom Here

Come set Your rule and reign

In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray

Unveil why we’re made

Come set our hearts ablaze with hope

Like wildfire in our very souls

Holy Spirit come invade us now

We are Your church

We need Your pow’r in us

We seek Your kingdom first

We hunger and we thirst

Refuse to waste our lives

For You’re our joy and prize

To see the captives’ hearts released

The hurt the sick the poor at peace

We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause

We are Your church

We pray revive this earth

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here we pray

Unleash Your kingdom’s pow’r

Reaching the near and far

No force of hell can stop

Your beauty changing hearts

You made us for much more than this

Awake the kingdom seed in us

Fill us with the strength and love of Christ

We are Your church

We are the hope on earth

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here

Build Your kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your kingdom here we pray

You Are Good

Lord You are good

And Your mercy endureth forever

(Repeat)

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

Lord You are good

And Your mercy endureth forever

(Repeat)

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

Yes You are

Yes You are

Yes You are

So good so good

Yes You are

Yes You are

Yes You are

You are good all the time

All the time You are good

You are good all the time

All the time You are good

People from every nation and tongue

From generation to generation

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

We worship You

Hallelujah hallelujah

We worship You for who You are

For You are good

For who You are

For You are good

Message   (SLIDE Number 64)            “Let’s Get Real”                      Kristin

Welcome back to the early days of the church. Last week we were reminded of the coming of the Spirit, with its blessing of diversity and welcome of all people. God recognized and sent the message of good news to all people present in their own languages, thus blessing them right where they were. The very first sermon quoted those words from Amos,

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
1Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

It’s a message that is sometimes lost to us, but it is essential that we remember the church was given, from the start to men and women, young and old, and people of all nations. It was given to people in whatever condition they were currently in: young or old; slave or free; male or female. No one had to change who they were to receive the Spirit; they merely had to change their heart to follow God rather than themselves. You may recall that the first act of the Spirit to invite people in was to speak to them in their own heart language. Come as you are! God welcomes you just as you are!

Since we last saw the early church it has begun to thrive. Peter preached a very long sermon on Pentecost, thus giving all preachers the authority to preach for far too long! Three thousand people heard the message and joined the Kingdom. (1 SLIDE) Acts 2:42-47 describes a community which cares for one another deeply and sacrificially. This community experiences the awe and wonder of miracles on a regular basis. These are miracles of healing, release from prison, and the unification of diverse people in the worship of one God. It surely is a miracle that all these people have managed, through the work of the Spirit, to live in this interwoven fashion. And more people are joining their ranks daily. (Slide 66 leave up for the rest of the sermon)

One of the people who joins the movement is Joseph. Joseph, who the disciples have renamed Barnabas, is the first non-disciple we meet in Acts. He is an important figure in the early church. It is Barnabas who first brings Paul to meet the disciples. They are, of course, fearful to meet this man who has been persecuting the church and they don’t trust his motives. Barnabas was the first to trust Paul’s conversion and bring him into the fold. The friendship of these two men was sealed and they traveled together extensively to share the good news. It was only a disagreement over another disciple, John Mark, that led them to travel separately. John Mark had not been as dedicated to the traveling and Paul was ready to leave him behind. Barnabas insisted that he be allowed to come back and so the friends split, Barnabas and John Mark going one way and Paul another. Barnabas had a quality that allowed him to see the possibilities in people, to believe that God could use anyone, even someone who once threatened the church. He could bring people together and work toward common goals. It was this quality that led to his name change. Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement,” was a name given to express how the disciples felt about him.

We are introduced to Barnabas first as a person of generosity. Acts 4 tells us that he sold a field he owned and laid the money for that field at the apostles’ feet. It would be used to support those in need. As the scripture explains, people would do this from time to time. His actions are held up as an example to us and to these first believers. Barnabas is an encourager in his words and his actions.

Barnabas is such a good example that we are immediately introduced to a couple who imitate him. They too sell a field which they own, bringing the money to lay at the apostles’ feet. What they do differently from Barnabas is to keep back a portion of the funds from the sale, leaving only a portion to give to the church.

You may ask, what’s so wrong with that? Wasn’t the money theirs to share as they please? Apparently, it was. Peter says this very thing to Ananias. “What this field yours before it was sold? And wasn’t the money from the sale at your disposal?” When Peter later questions Sapphira about the matter, he questions her on the amount of the sale to see if she will corroborate this story that the offering they brought was the full proceeds from the sale. From our position 2000 years down the road, it’s a bit murky what the problem was. While it isn’t completely clear if the issue is lying about the sale price, or if it is keeping some for themselves, we can say for sure that the deception is the issue. Peter tells Ananias he has lied to both humans and to God. He tells Sapphira that she has tested the Spirit of the Lord. It is not the money, but the lie, which condemns them. It is a lie born from a desire to imitate the faith of Barnabas, to receive the same accolades as he by declaring they have acted as he did. They are wearing a Barnabas mask instead of coming to God just as they are.

Consider again that early church, where each one has been welcomed as they are. While God is working on them in their hearts and spirits, there is no requirement that the believers meet a set of guidelines dictating their every action. The church is still working out what it means to belong, but they are quite clear that the Spirit has invited in an amazing diversity of people. And so, the gifts of each person are celebrated. While Paul has not yet written 1 Corinthians 12, these words are born out of those early church years.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Ananias and Sapphira have compared their offering to what Barnabas offered. Knowing it was different, yet desiring to exhibit the same devotion as he, they have come with their gift under false pretenses. They have come in deception. And who have they tried to deceive? Not just humans, but God.

This couple we find at the creation of the church has a lot in common with another biblical couple. Adam and Eve, the husband and wife we find at the creation of the world, also attempt to deceive God. After eating from the tree at the center of the garden, they suddenly discovered their own shortcomings. They realized they were naked, that something was missing, and they hastened to find leaves and skins to cover up. This attempt at deceiving God worked about as well for them as it did for Ananias and Sapphira. God immediately calls them out on their lie.

These two couples have another common experience. These couples, given the chance to reply as individuals before God, choose instead to go along with each other, to continue in the lie as a couple. When God asks Adam if he has eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree, Adam exclaims that his wife made him do it. Eve blames the snake. Sapphira is given the opportunity to answer on her own for her actions. She sticks to the story her husband gave.

There is no way for us to determine from this brief passage if Sapphira was culturally obligated to agree with her husband. There were more restrictive expectations for women socially and politically at that time. It’s clear from Paul’s writings that the man was considered the head of the household, and of the wife. This structure was common to Roman households. But recent investigations show greater opportunities for independence with the Greco-Roman social system than we once believed. Even married women could inherit and run businesses and retain the money they earned in that business. Within the New Testament, we have plenty of evidence that women were free to lead churches, support disciples, and even serve as deacons. Joanna, from Luke 8:3, is the wife of Chuza, a property manager for Herod. Joanna opted to follow Jesus and help support his needs, leaving Chuza at home. It isn’t clear if Chuza approves or not, but Joanna is honored for her work. Phoebe and Lydia are both leaders of local churches and recognized by Paul as such. Priscilla and her husband, Aquilla, co-lead a church and when they are mentioned, she is mentioned first, indicating leadership. Euodia and Syntyche are named as church leaders in Philippi. Tabitha, whom we will discuss next week, is named as a deacon. It’s safe to assume that there are multiple ways that husbands and wives, men and women, can relate in the New Testament.

In the same way that no one can generalize how marital relationships work in our culture, we cannot generalize how Sapphira relates to Ananias.  No one can say for sure if she was forced to submit to him and back him up. As we have seen, there was opportunity for women in their culture to express their independence and perhaps she is doing just that by choosing to agree with her husband. What we do know for certain is that she had “full knowledge” of Ananias’ actions. Given the chance to independently tell the truth, to stand on her own before Peter, she opts instead to go along with her husband. Her loyalty to him takes precedence over her loyalty to God. And Peter, upon hearing her give the same response as her husband had done, cries out, asking how she could conspire with him in this deception. She is judged on her own actions, not on those of her husband. Adam couldn’t fall back on blaming Eve. Eve couldn’t fall back on the snake. Neither can we blame Ananias for Sapphira’s choice to join him in the deception.

The outcome for Ananias and Sapphira is the same as it was for Adam and Eve: death. While discussing this difficult passage with my own pastor, he suggested, tongue in cheek, that I title this sermon, “You lie, you die.” Obviously, I went another direction! But it is true that the consequence of their deception of God was death. For Adam and Eve, death wasn’t instant, but death entered into the human story from that moment. For Ananias and Sapphira, death is instant.

Let’s pause for just a moment and recognize that this passage is quite difficult. I firmly believe that Rick and Andrea left town during this time just so he could avoid preaching on this. Most everyone reads this passage and is immediately thinking, “What on earth? God killed them for something so small as a few bucks?” Read carefully with me. Nowhere does it say that God struck them down. Nor does it say that Peter killed them. The sentence reads, “When Ananias heard this, he fell down dead.” Sapphira hears that her husband died, and she will as well, and “At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.” I am hesitant to assign blame to God for their deaths because that’s not how this sentence reads. It’s not that Luke is afraid to assign divine blame for deaths. In Acts 12:23 we read that “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Neither God, nor the angel of the Lord, is held responsible for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. It is, rather, a reaction to being caught out in their own deception.

There is a lesson for us here, perhaps symbolic, but still useful. Masking ourselves before God brought death to this couple, and to all of us through Adam and Eve. Jesus came to defeat death, opening the door for us to be fully present with God, as ourselves. Covering up, masking up, being someone whom we are not before God is a return to that state of sin and separation. Our attempts to deceive others and God result in our death. It may not be as dramatic or instant as Ananias and Sapphira, but we experience a separation between ourselves and God. That is the death of a relationship, a death of our self-worth. There is a division that comes between us and others when we weave in deception. Someone shared a quote with me this week, from an unknown source. It says, “We don’t suffer for our sins, but because of them.” The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are a great example of this. Because of their deception, they suffered a death of communion with God and others.

And why did they choose to lie? Perhaps they felt that their acceptance wasn’t certain unless they could offer to the congregation what Barnabas did. Their deception may have come from shame, a shame that they couldn’t share as much as he did. The juxtaposition of these two stories may be more than simply a good and bad example. It may be a lesson to us tied back to the Pentecost story. God welcomes us as we are, in whatever condition we come. Our circumstances are well known to God. Our stories, our homes, our histories, our needs, our cultures, all the things that we come with are a part of the great diversity of the humanity which God created. Consider that at its core, the issue here is that they have broken the two greatest commandments. They were to love God with all of their heart, mind, and soul, yet they hid themselves from God, lying to God about their offering. And they neglected to love and value themselves as they loved others. They created a false image, covering their shame just as Adam and Eve covered theirs, creating a deadly break.

When we think we aren’t enough, when we start trying to be like others to please God, we lose ourselves. We die to all that God has made us to be. We die to the possibilities that God created for us within our own communities, cutting ourselves off from all God has for us. Consider Peter, the leader of this new movement, who never was one to hide behind a mask. He said whatever came to his mind, he betrayed Jesus before the crucifixion, he rushed fearlessly into all sorts of situations. He was an imperfect man. Peter was always just exactly who he appeared to be, and God was able to use him as he was, to mold Peter and help him become all God meant for him to be. His example to us is that we can love all of whom God made us to be, creating an opening for God to mold and shape us, making us better able to love and serve others.

It may be that we are not yet all we wish to be, that we are striving to be more like Barnabas or Paul or Lydia or Esther. What great examples they give us, with worthy goals to strive for in our lives! But for today, right now, let’s strive to love God and ourselves openly and fully. When we love ourselves with an honest love, we see all the great possibilities for God to work in us and through us. By loving ourselves honestly, we can agree with God on things that need to improve within us. This is what God asks, that we live fully into the people God has created us to be, striving to be more Christ-like each day, and living honestly together in the Kingdom.

Musical Response  (Four Slides)
Just As I Am

Just as I am without one plea

But that Thy Blood was shed for me

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee

O Lamb of God I come I come

Just as I am Thou wilt receive

Wilt welcome pardon cleanse relieve

Because Thy Promise I believe

O Lamb of God I come I come

Community  (no slide)   Kristin

Passing the Peace  (1 slide)   Kristin

Peace before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet.

Peace within us,
Peace over us,
Let all around us be peace.

Order, Words, and Voices – June 19, 2022

Order

Pre Worship Audio (10:15am)

Call to Worship        Segun

Music 1 (10:30am)                        Worship Team
10,000 Reasons
This Is My Father’s World

Prayer                                   Kristin 

Scripture        Genesis 1:27-28                    Duffy and Mitch
                         Acts 1:12-14, 2: 1-21

Music 2                                     Worship Team
Good, Good Father
O Praise the Name

                
Message        Where’s Waldo? Empowering Hidden Figures                Kristin

Congregational Response       Segun

Music 3     Worship Team
All to Jesus I Surrender

Community (Gallery View)                        

Closing Peace Response                        Kristin

Closing Audio

Words and Voices

Call to Worship (1 slide)
“My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would sweep into our lives with holy disruption, upending our assumptions and privileges, our greed and selfishness, our pride and our stupor. To empower our work and our witness. Like Zechariah 4:6 tells us, not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
Sarah Bessey, “Out Of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith.”

“We must be careful…to let God’s Holy Spirit manage our lives; not to smooth down and explain away, but to stir up the gift and allow God’s Spirit to disturb us and disturb us and disturb us until we yield and yield and yield and the possibility in God’s mind for us becomes an established fact in our lives, with the rivers in evidence meeting the need of a dying world.”
Smith Wigglesworth

Music 1 (14 slides)

[Congregation Stand]

10,000 Reasons
CCLI Song # 28263

Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Verse 1The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Verse 2You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Verse 3And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
TagWorship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name

This Is My Father’s World
CCLI Song # 60867

This is My Fathers world
This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This is my Father’s world
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees of skies and seas
His hand the wonders wrought

Verse 2This is my Father’s world
The birds their carols raise
The morning light the lily white
Declare their Maker’s praise
This is my Father’s world
He shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass
He speaks to me everywhere

Verse 3This is my Father’s world
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the Ruler yet
This is my Father’s world
The battle is not done
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And earth and heaven be one

Prayer (1 Slides)

[Please join me in the Lord’s Prayer]
Our Father in heaven, may your name be holy,
May Your Kingdom be among us on earth, just as it is in heaven,
Give us our daily needs,
And forgive us our sins, as we in turn forgive others,
Lead us away from temptation, deliver us from evil,
For this is Your Kingdom, powered by You, all for Your glory
Amen!

[Please be seated]

Scripture (4 Slides)
Genesis 1:27-28, The Message
“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them
    reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
    the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
    and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’
God created human beings;
    he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
    He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
    ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
    for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’”

Acts 1:12-14, 2:1-21
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.  When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Music 2  (21 slides)
Good Good Father
I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

Chorus
You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You areAnd I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

Verse 2I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You areAnd I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

Bridge
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us
Verse 3Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You areAnd I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

O Praise The Name anastasis 
I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me
I see His wounds His hands His feet
My Savior on that cursed tree

Verse 2His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone
ChorusO praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord oh Lord our God

Verse 3Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting
The angels roar for Christ the King

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord oh Lord our God
Verse 4He shall return in robes of white
The blazing sun shall pierce the night
And I will rise among the saints
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord oh Lord our God

Message – Where’s Waldo? Empowering Hidden Figures (13 Slides)

Response – (1 slide)

Let me start today by acknowledging Father’s Day. I acknowledge the joy of having a father who fills your life with support, joy, and encouragement. I also acknowledge that, for many of us, “Father” has negative meanings and memories. For some here, you may long to be a father, but have not been so blessed. Perhaps you recently lost a father and this day feels particularly hard. Whatever your feelings may be, we recognize the power of having a Father, the life-giving impact of a loving man in our lives. We acknowledge that even if we do not have a positive experience of fatherhood, it is a relational gift. Ideally, a parent represents God to us. So we offer thanks to those who have fathered us, whether they came to us biologically, adoptively, or relationally. We offer prayers to those who have never known this relationship in a positive way. And we grieve with those who have lost a father, or the chance to be a father. We lift each one up to the Father of us all, the God of light, love, and comfort.

This morning we begin our series of messages from the book of Acts. When Rick first asked me about filling in for him, he enticed me by letting me know you are working through “The Women’s Lectionary.” I had just ordered another lectionary by and for women, and I was eager to participate. I am thankful to my home church, Spring Creek, for allowing me to be with you. I am also grateful for Rick and his European tour, so that I will have the pleasure of exploring these Scriptures with you.

“God, we ask that you grant your wisdom through the words that are spoken and the words that are heard. May you form our hearts, minds, and ears to resonate and radiate Your truth. Amen.”

Today we will be exploring Pentecost. This is the moment when the Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, which Jesus promised to the disciples, arrives in a display of power and glory. We can mark the birth of the church from this moment, and so it is appropriate that the Church, the universal Church, celebrates this day annually. You may know that Pentecost Sunday was two weeks ago, and so I have had the advantage of hearing several lessons and sermons on the topic. It’s been educational for me to hear the story told again and again. Here is the general recap I heard:

The disciples had long awaited this moment. Jesus told them to wait for the Helper, one would come to guide them into all truth, to offer comfort, to be God’s presence among them. They sat praying together in an upper room, the twelve disciples, and suddenly the Spirit burst forth in a frenzy of life.  Flames of fire danced through the room and a sound like howling wind filled the space. It was so amazing that people on the street were stunned and stopped to see what had happened. It was then that Peter began preaching the message of God from on high and thousands were saved.

Does this sound familiar? I’m sure you too have heard this story many times, and you should. It’s a transitional moment. The Spirit and Power of God are suddenly available to live inside of us and to inspire us. It’s a moment when the world changes. As such, it has been portrayed in story, song, and art for centuries. Let’s look at a few images of Pentecost.

Slide 43 – Here we have a traditional Pentecost icon with Mary seated at the center as a teacher, surrounded by the twelve disciples. We will see Mary in nearly all these images, which I think is quite meaningful. She gave birth to Jesus and is present in Pentecost art, often as a teacher, at the birth of the church.

Slide 44-46 Let’s look through a few more images. What stands out to you?

Before we go any further, I want to revisit the scripture for a moment. Art has interpreted these passages for us, but it may not be the full story. Let’s look back at the Scripture. Slide 47 reminds us of Acts 2:1-2. As I said previously, this is where most Pentecost retellings begin. It’s where the action starts. But it doesn’t accurately identify the main characters. Who is “they” that are gathered all in one place?

Let’s take a look at the next slide (Slide 48). We need to go backward just a bit to figure out the “they” in this story. Now we see Acts 1:1215. How many disciples are there? Who are they? Look at a few of those images again (Slides 49-50). Do you see more than 13 people? Any more women? It’s like that book, “Where’s Waldo?” We are missing quite a few people from the story and we have to hunt pretty hard to find them! I spent some time trying to find images that more adequately reflect the story.

Slide 51 –Here is a representation of Pentecost coming to all of the disciples, or at least the males.

Slide 52 – In this modern image we see more people, both men and women.

Slide 53 – Imagery that allows all of us to imagine ourselves at Pentecost

I’m sure my search isn’t exhaustive, but I’m here to tell you that there are very few images of women at Pentecost. In fact, my search turned up an article entitled “The invisibility of women in our depiction of Pentecost.” Mary is almost always included, but the other women are seldom present. Silent in our stories, invisible in our art. I did find this one image by Canadian artist, Giesele Bauche, showing a Pentecost image of only women. (Slide 54) What does it tell us when half of the population is left out of the story of the birth of the church? These images and the people we don’t see tell us something important. When the only woman seen in our images of Pentecost is a mother, a statement is being made about acceptable womanhood. When the other women disappear from our stories and images, women who are single, working, or otherwise unlike Mary disappear as equals in the story of God.

The church has struggled with the issues of women in the church for centuries. Do women have the same access to the Spirit? To church leadership? Are they equal partners with men in the church, or subservient? We will talk of this more in the coming weeks as we see throughout Acts a struggle to define exactly what the gifts of the Spirit are, who has them, and how we define those people. We will see that there are women leaders, but their stories are often hidden away, just like the women present at Pentecost. Our work will be to seek them out as carefully as we look for Waldo in the crowds. We ask for wisdom to help us understand their place in the story of God.

Ultimately, Pentecost is a story of power. It’s a beautiful and amazing moment when the power of God is given freely to humankind. It’s a power that has a world changing, life altering, impact. This Spirit of God, identified with feminine pronouns, is the same Spirit that hovered over chaos at creation, bringing new life and sustenance. The early church understood the force of that Spirit, painting a word picture of flames and wind and multitudes affected by its coming. Isn’t it fascinating how we have shaped our telling of this event over time? In our stories and art, this power is born in a room of twelve homogenous men. Even the image of an upper room has powerful connotations. It is most likely that they were at the Temple courts to celebrate Pentecost. We know that at least 10 days had passed since Jesus’ ascension and that faithful Jews would be at the Temple for 9am prayers on a high holy day. How else could the multitudes hear the word of God in their own languages unless they were present? And yet our stories of Pentecost most always happen in the upper room. How do we feel when we imagine a room, high and lifted up, a room of twelve select men and a token woman, a room from which power descends to the masses? Who is the most blessed?  Who “controls” that power? Those who look and sound the most like the people in our art and stories can lay claim. Even if they acknowledge it is shared power, they are holding it just a little bit more closely than you or I. Art matters. Stories matter. How we represent our faith history matters. It’s important for us to tell our stories in ways that offer God to all people, equally.

And what is the power that is so carefully contained? The Spirit that blew across the people that day was doing some amazing things. In anticipation of the Spirit, at least 120 people gathered in prayer. The Spirit was already giving them community, purpose, and goals. The Spirit overcame barriers of language and knowledge. The Spirit gave the multitudes the ability to hear and to receive the word of God. This band of misfits, led by a criminal, full of bawdy fishermen, tax collectors, an unwed teenage mother, and ex-prostitutes, could suddenly command the attention of thousands of people attending a festival. They suddenly had a voice of power.

Do you see why it might be important for someone who needed to control others to restrict this power to twelve men in an upper room? If we were to acknowledge that this power was given freely by God to anyone who would receive it, there would be no way anyone could be in charge. There would be no room for any power but the power of God. The lovely radical truth is that we must embrace God’s power and let go of our own, so that we too can experience world-changing, Spirit-filled moments.

And yet we humans continue, most often building borders and creating tribes based on all sorts of things: color; gender; nationality; orientation; socioeconomic status. I’m convinced that for every group of “us”, there is a “them.” We seem determined to build walls, to put ourselves into that upper room where we can control the power and the God narrative. It’s time for us to release and share that power with all whom God calls.

Our first step is to consider more closely the things we just know. I confess that it wasn’t until I spent some time with this passage that I realized I had this narrow view of Pentecost. As I researched, I discovered that there are people who know this and have pointed it out in books, articles, blogs, and sermons. To quote Schoolhouse Rock, “Knowledge Is Power!” What can you do to learn what the Spirit is doing?

The best suggestion I can give you it to seek out other voices, especially those who are hidden. If they are hidden, how will you find them? Just start with the ones you hear crying out. African-Americans, First Americans, queer people, people living in poverty or homelessness. Read what their experiences of God have been. Study with them or under their leadership.

Read different history. The church started splitting into factions right from the start and the Eastern church broke away in the year 395. There is an amazing amount of history we never learn here in the West. Do any of us know the stories of the disciples who evangelized Georgia, Armenia, Syria, and Egypt? Our faith is weakened by ignorance of these stories.

Follow where the Spirit is at work and pay attention. Right now, the church is growing globally in the South and the East. What is God doing there? I must be careful saying this because our daughter always wants me to clarify that I appreciate our modern society. I do! I love having education and healthcare and available food and housing. But I will say that our scientific, fact-based, modern mindset has limited us from seeing the Spirit move. I remember listening to a podcast discussion with a Welsh woman who had served a missionary nurse in Africa for decades. She spoke of the miraculous healing from AIDS and that so many people were healed that the church had begun demanding a certificate from the doctor stating that a person had once had AIDS before they could testify at church. When asked why we didn’t see these healings in the Western world, so admitted she didn’t know. But she did put forth two thoughts. One was that God had given us access to medicine and so we didn’t need the miracles, but the other was that our Western mindset made us less believing, less able to ask for and accept the miracles of God. The stories that come from missionaries around the world give us all a lot to consider and will challenge and grow your faith.

Finally, we must find and display representative art. Look at Slide 55. Men and women of every culture have been included in this Pentecostal art. Of course, this isn’t accurate historically either as only 15 regions are mentioned in Acts 2, but wisdom invites us to understand that if Asians and Native Americans had been present that day, they too would have received the Spirit. We are responsible for portraying the stories of God in ways that represent God’s acceptance of all people.

When we begin to listen to these hidden figures, we discover that God’s Spirit is changing the world. And when we respect and embrace that fact, the walls we have built are blown away and the Spirit can move freely through our diverse communities. We are to be unified in our faith, not in our understanding of God. We are to be unified in our worship, not our worship styles. The Spirit came and met people as they were by speaking to them within their own cultures and languages. Our God celebrates diversity! The Spirit who breathed this complex and complicated world into being would surely do no less!

We have not yet fully begun to live into Pentecost. How many of our differences could be transcended if we allowed the power of the Spirit to reign in our lives? What miracles could the Holy Spirit perform in our churches and communities if we embraced these hidden figures and welcomed them as equals among us? How many hearts and minds could the Holy Spirit transform, if we acknowledged its power and presence among all people? What if we refused to laugh off differences among us as drunken ravings and instead celebrated this radically inclusive diversity of God? 

The Spirit and its power are ours to claim. We are called to disturb and disrupt this world until all people know the saving power of God. Let’s pray together.

Disturb us so that we see each person as a unique and valued individual
Lord, open our eyes.
Create an overwhelming desire within us to hear the stories of Your work among all peoples.
Lord, open our ears.
Fill our hearts with a passion to see in each person the spark of life You placed in them.
Lord, open our spirits.
We ask for the Holy Spirit to energize us to live into the radical inclusion into which the Church was born.
Lord, empower us with Your Spirit.

Response In Song

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
ChorusI surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
Verse 4All to Jesus I surrender
Lord I give myself to Thee
Fill me with Thy love and power
Let Thy blessing fall on me
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
Verse 5All to Jesus I surrender
Now I feel the sacred flame
O the joy of full salvation
Glory glory to His name
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

Community (1 Slide)

  • Pray Peace. Prayers for Ukraine – donation link at GFNorman.com
  • Sunday, June 26, Acts 5:1-11, Guest Speaker – Kristin McAtee

Peace (1 Slides)Peace before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet.
Peace within us,
Peace over us,
Let all around us be peace.
Amen

Order, Words, & Voices

Order

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Pre Worship Audio (10:15am)

Music 1 (10:30am) Worship Team

Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Mighty Is Our God

Prayer Grace/Lily

Scripture Luke 15:11-32 Linda

Music 2 Worship Team

Revelation Song

Trust and Obey

Message Passionate Persistence Rick

Congregational Response 

Benediction Grace/Lily

Music 3 You are my One Thing Worship Team

Community (Gallery View) Rick

Closing Peace Response Rick

Closing Audio

Words and Voices

Music 1 (9 slides)

[Congregation Stand]

Just A Closer Walk With Thee

CCLI Song # 28263

Verse 1

I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk let me walk close to Thee

Chorus

Just a closer walk with thee
Grant it Jesus is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be dear Lord let it be

Verse 2

Through this world of toil and snares
If I falter Lord who cares
Who with me my burden shares
None but Thee dear Lord 

none but Thee

Chorus

Just a closer walk with thee
Grant it Jesus is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be dear Lord let it be

Verse 3

When my feeble life is o’er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore to Thy shore

Chorus

Just a closer walk with thee
Grant it Jesus is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be dear Lord let it be

Mighty Is Our God

CCLI Song # 60867

Don Moen | Eugene Greco | Gerrit Gustafson

Chorus

Mighty is our God
Mighty is our King
Mighty is our Lord
Ruler of ev’rything

Glory to our God
Glory to our King
Glory to our Lord
Ruler of ev’rything

Verse

His name is higher
Higher than any other name
His pow’r is greater
For He has created ev’rything

Prayer (3 Slides)

[Please join me in the Lord’s Prayer]

Our Father which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. 

Amen.   

[Please be seated]

Scripture (11 Slides)

“There was a man who had two sons. The youngest son said to his father, ‘Give me the share of the wealth that will belong to me.’ So the father divided his assets between his two sons. A few days later the younger son left and went to a distant region where he squandered his wealth. 

When the youngest son had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that region and he was quickly in need. 

So he hired himself out to feed the pigs in the fields. By this time, the son would have been happy to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, yet no one, even the pigs, gave him anything to eat. 

When the son finally came to his senses he said to himself, ‘All of my father’s employees have enough food to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I’’m going home and will say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I’m not worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your employees.” 

So he set off and went to his father’s house. While the son was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to his father, ‘ I have sinned against heaven and before you; 

I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 

And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now the older son was in the field, when he approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He asked one of the slaves what was going on. The slave replied replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you have never given me even anything so that I might celebrate with my friends. 

But when my brother came back, after wasting your money on prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 

But we have to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ ”

Luke 15:11-32Music 2  (12 slides)

Revelation Song

CCLI Song # 4447960

Jennie Lee Riddle

Verse 1

Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain
Holy holy is He
Sing a new song to Him Who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat

Chorus

Holy holy holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of kings
You are my ev’rything
And I will adore You

Verse 2

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lightning rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory
And power be to You 

the only wise King

Chorus

Holy holy holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of kings
You are my ev’rything
And I will adore You

Verse 3

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power 

breath and living water
Such a marv’lous mystery yeah

Chorus

Holy holy holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of kings
You are my ev’rything
And I will adore You

Trust And Obey

CCLI Song # 7056336

Chorus

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Verse 1

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey

Chorus

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Verse 2

Not a shadow can rise
Not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt nor a fear
Not a sigh nor a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey

Chorus

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

Verse 3

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do
Where He sends we will go
Never fear only trust and obey

Ending

Trust and obey

Message – Moved (11 Slides)

In March of this year, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, presented its yearly “World Happiness Report”. This report documents Happiness rankings among the 156 countries around the globe. Each country is ranked using the following factors as a determinates – [Slide] 

Basically, these were used to determine an overall sense of confidence in, and stability of, the country. This year’s research took place as covid immunizations were on the rise, but covid new variants were also appearing – it also took place as the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan and before Russia invaded Ukraine.  The top 10 happiest countries found to be, [Slide] 

Around this same time, Pew Research, researched countries of the world as to  what percentage of each country would say that they do not believe in the God of the Bible (this meant no belief in God as related in the Bible at all, as well as no belief in any ‘higher power’). Their findings found, [Slide] 

Why am I sharing this with you. I was interested in the overlap – I wondered, ‘Are those who believe in God happier?’ I found that

[Slide] Nine of the top fourteen countries that named as the Happiest, most content, stable, confident, fulfilled, and peaceful, are also among the top fourteen countries where there is the least belief in the God of the Bible. 

This is is not the answer believers like to hear. It is not a good marketing tool. We equate contentment, stability, confidence, fulfillment, and peace, as states of being that found when we live in a healthy relationship with God – however, these stats reveal just the opposite.

Now, our training, especially as trained Evangelical Christians, is to be prepared for these sceanarios that make us look bad. We think, ‘Surely someone is to blame for this disconnect, . We accuse the data of being manipulated to destroy our credibility. Bbut, there is enough truth here to call us to attention. We must permit the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us in this moment, to show us truth instead of holding on to excusing ourselves.

The real questions we need to ask are, 

What version of the Biblical God is the world seeing?

What version of the Biblical God are we communicating?

How does our day to day life, combined with our worlds, depict God?

What do WE actually believe about God?

[Slide] Do WE actually have a true and healthy perspective of God?

[Slide] This is the question to which we must respond We must lay down our defenses and take an honest look at ourselves – not because we are guilty of something, but because we, in not seeing God, 

fail to enjoy God’s abundance.

Our world is not going to experience peace, our leaders are not going to be able to truly stand for life until we truly know God. We have had a shooting almost every day this past week including 2 in Oklahoma – but our leaders continue to say it is a time for grief not policy – (when will our grief permit a moment for rational policy?) 

Our prayers asking that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven do not have a chance in heaven, until we, all believers, all Christians, all Evangelicals, have a correct portrait of God in our heads and hearts.

In our laser focus on the after life, conversion and baptismal numbers, we have missed the focus that Jesus had – contentment, stability, confidence, fulfillment, and peace. The time when religion and the religious were being a ‘Social Benefit’ but over the past couple of decades, religion and the religious have shifted to being seen as a  ‘Social Cost.’ Christian Evangelicalism along with Chrisitanity, are all caught up in this shift.

This is not necessary a bad thing, it may actually be a good thing, a good thing for Christianity, a good thing for Christians – it may just be our moment of epiphany – our moment to genuinely recognize God as we stand in God’s presence.

This brings us back to the Gospel of Luke, where, for the first time in Luke, we not only have the religious officials at the proverbial table, but they are sitting next to ‘sinners and tax collectors’ (tax collectors are not only considered sinners but also collaborators with the oppressive Roman occupiers). Jesus is talking to them all, they are all at an equals, Being equals is not always acceptable, so there is grumbling, which is the catalyst for Jesus’ three parables.

[Slide] François Bovon refers to Luke 15 as ‘an invitation to all of us to not be too irritated by the conversion of others.’

(François Bovon, Swiss biblical scholar and historian of early Christianity)

[Slide] David Jacobsen, stresses what he calls the ‘metaphorical power’ of, these three parables in which “Jesus, from within the Jewish tradition tries to recast redemption of others, in a different vision of the divine purpose which is precisely how these parables conclude.”

Not to give away the ending, but in all three parables the ending is a joyous celebration of everyone involved, of those not involved but invited to the celebration, and even God and the angels! Everyone one except for one who is not joyous or celebrating, he is unable to join in because he is stuck in the old thought. He chooses to cast blame instead of letting himself find a way to celebrate the abundance in which he had been immersed in all along.

Three parables. Two about being lost, and one about intentional leaving.

The parable of the prodigal son, which Peyton read for us, tells the story of a son who make the choice to leave, rejecting his father. Leaving is a personal choice, but the father realizes that it is totally the son’s choice. The father knows that it is a journey the son must take and a choice he must face. ‘Will he continue to live a life of leaving and rejection?’ The father therefore waits, looking from the porch for any hint of the son’s return. The son, who made the choice to reject and leave, always know the way home, remembers the abundance there, and will have to lay aside his own pride and turn back to home.

The other two stories are of lostness.

Leaving is an intentional choice, purposeful and acted on in a purposeful manner, rejecting where we are, and to whom we belong. A deliberate choice followed by an even more deliberate action. Rejection and Departure.

Lostness, however, is different. Lostness is a series of small, minor, choices. Not the big moment but many small moments that bring us to a place where we suddenly don’t know how to get there.

I think this is where we are in society, much like many Old Testament societies, we have become lost. Our focus has become absorbed with this post earthly life, in our gradual acceptance of that thread of thought, we have forgotten Jesus’ teaching and examples of how to live abundantly here on earth. This is the main focus of the majority of Jesus’ actions and words. Instead, our focus has become a ‘means justifies the ends’ mentality, we have forgotten about shared undeservedness of grace, we have let go of Jesus’ mercy and compassion, we have allowed religious officials and politicians to repaint our picture of God.

A coin was lost in a crevice in which it was unable to get out – no blame is given. A sheep had unintentionally and somewhat intentionally left the herd to find better grass to eat. Small steps, each seemingly innocent movements, steps that the sheep would have know were bad choices, each step taking him further away until he could not find his way home. Each one further into the lostness, each one further from home and herd.

The real focus of these parables, however, is not the lostness, or even the why of the one who deliberately walked away – they are all stories of the one left behind. A Father, a coin owner, a shepherd. The stories are of the responses, the lessons all three. Much that has been forgotten and replaced in our image of God. The three reactions are not actions of shame or guilt, but of an agony of loss. The father sits and waits, knowing the choice of return belongs to the son. The woman cleans and turns the house upside down, the shepherd who leaves the 99 other sheep to find the one that is lost. All three were desperate, all three were passionately persistent, all three rejoiced when they finished.

Notice, in all three of these parables three is not a focus of shame. Their actions of leaving or getting lost are not really the point, the focus is on the rejoicing when they are back home. When they are in a place of contentment, stability, confidence, fulfillment, and peace. The emphasis is not on repentance but on the absolute aspect of being home and being found. A moment when, as Jesus explains, “there will be more joy in heaven, joy in the presence of the rejoicing angels of God.”

In our passage last week, as Jesus spoke to the Isrealites who had gradually become lost as they had taken small self seeking steps until they didn’t realize they were lost, unaware that their religion was worthless, and their view of God was incorrect – [No Slide] “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34a). God looks the same way at us, ‘desire us to let him gather us, to see him anew, a correct perception that is no longer corrupted by our own self seeking, our own lostness.

Plain and simple, God is a God of Love. God does not seek us out of a bitterness or vengeful spirit, it is out of love. God does not judge or condemn, he searches to rescue and uplift. God does not seek to restrain or hold us down, but to free us so that we can live in his abundance.

When Mary recognized the her son Jesus was going to rescue a wedding party, she revealed to us all what it is to have a correct view of God. She didn’t try to take over the situation, she didn’t shame the servants for not being careful about the amount of wine served to the guests, instead, she just said, ‘do as my son tells you to do.’ She pointed the people behind the scenes to Jesus and she let go. She understood God, she trusted God, she didn’t need to direct. 

That is how we reach our world, not through holding on, keeping control. We show God to a world when we truly know and understand God. When we recognize what happens when we truly know God, the God of the Bible, not the God made up by man to control others or to meet a quota. We know God because we have seen him in Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon, preached about the compassion of God, “I suppose that when our Saviour looked upon certain sights, those who watched him closely perceived that his internal agitation was very great, his emotions were very deep, and then his face betrayed it, his eyes gushed like founts with tears, and you saw that his big heart was ready to burst with pity for the sorrow upon which his eyes were gazing. He was moved with compassion. His whole nature was agitated with commiseration for the sufferers before him.”

(Charles Spurgeon, Sermon No. 3438, 1914, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, UK)

We know God when we see him reflected in the actions of Jesus. When Jesus grabbed the hand of the sinking Peter saying ‘Let’s work on your faith.” When he lifted up the woman caught in the act of adultery saying ‘Maybe it’s time you step out of the darkness, when he said to Thomas in a moment of doubt, ‘Let me show you evidence,’ when he stood next to Martha and just listened, when he knelt down next to Mary and he joined her in her grief, or when Martha interrupted him as he yelled to Lazarus to come out of the grave, saying to Martha, ‘look, there he is.’

God is not out to get us, he is out to love us. His character and very nature demands this. God cannot help but be a God of compassion and grace.

While, it is true that God’s grace is not deserved by any of us, that none of us is worthy, however, God’s breath was breathed into all of us at creation, and that makes us a constant target of God’s grace and mercy because we are all loved by God.

For over 1700 years, religiosity has repainted the reality of God, turning him into a God of hatefulness, vengeance, and brutality. Remaking God into an unloving and unempathetic overlord who calls us to mimic this false narrative of God is. It is time that we all take a step back to take an unhindered look at Jesus to see the God that is love.

In the movie Don’t Look Up that arrived on streaming during Covid, a young man named Yule, calls himself an Evangelical Christian even though he has obviously walked away due to his inability to reconcile the portrait of Jesus that has been painted for him by his evangelical religion. He still believes however, believing in the portrait of Jesus painted for him as a child by his Sunday School teachers. A portrait of a loving God who does not allow politics to dictate his faith. As the movie ends, destruction is near, everyone is about to die. Yule sits with his newly chosen family around a table of those facing death just like him. Those at the table begin to wonder if they should pray, being non-religious, none know how to pray. Yule, who has been looking down at his dinner plate during the conversation, says, “I’ve got this.” He takes hold of the hands next to him, an act copied by those around the table, and begins to pray, praying to the God who he knows, not the image his religion has destroyed. 

[Slide] “Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride, we ask for your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”

It is time that we all speak to our God and begin to look at what God truly looks like. A conversation that allows us to let go of the false narrative that have been taught to us. An engagement that will allow us to have a deep understanding and trust that can change a world.

Response – Benediction (6 slides)

Leader: May we re-meet God, may we take a moment to release our false perceptions, our false narratives of who and what God is.

Response: God is Love.

Leader: May our corrected view of God move us to a holy life, one that shows the world God’s compassion and mercy.

Response: God is Love.

Leader: May our transformed faith lead us to let go of the weapons we have been given by religion. May the world see the true image of God in our lives.

Response: God is Love.

Leader: May we be receptors of God and communicators of that grace. A grace that we did not deserve any more than others deserve grace. 

Response: God is Love.

Leader: May our lives be walking demonstrations of God’s mercy and of God’s compassion.

Response: God is Love.

Leader: May we be a people of Love.

Response: God is Love.Response

You Are My One Thing (4 slides)

CCLI Song # 7030069

Hannah McClure | Paul McClure

Verse 1

Your voice ever close You called me
You never gave up pursuing
I fell in love You stole my heart
Your hand ever near I hold to
I long for Your heart to know You
Just to live in Your fellowship

Chorus

Just to be close to You
Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing
You are my one thing
(REPEAT)

Verse 2

My eyes ever fixed upon You
To live like a child to trust You
I’ll hold on to this treasured love
My life ever set at Your feet
I give You my heart completely
To live this life always by Your side

Bridge

I have to know You all that’s within me
Cries out for Your presence God
Nothing compares there’s no one else
Jesus You’re my one desire

Chorus

Just to be close to You
Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing
You are my one thing
(REPEAT)

Community (3 Slides)

  • Next Sunday, Take It Easy Sunday, NO Worship Gathering June 12
  • Pray Peace. Prayers for Ukraine – donation link at GFNorman.com
  • Sunday, June 19, Acts 1:14; 2:1-8, 14-18, Guest Speaker – Kristen McAtee

Peace (3 Slides)

Leader: As you leave this place, may the peace of the Lord, go with you.

Response: And also with you.

Leader: We gather here because of God’s love for us.

Response: We go from here because of God’s love for everyone out there. 

Leader: Go in the peace of the Lord. Have a great week.

Order, Words, & Voices 05.29.22

Order

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Pre Worship Audio (10:15am)

Music 1 (10:30am) Worship Team

Cornerstone 

What a Beautiful Name

Prayer Cricklin

Scripture Luke 13:31-35 On Line-Isaiah

Music 2 Worship Team

Spirit of the living God

It is Well

Message Hanging in There Rick

Congregational Response 

Benediction Cricklin

Music 3 Living Hope Worship Team

Community (Gallery View) Rick

Closing Peace Response Rick

Closing Audio

Words and Voices

Music 1 (13 slides)

[Congregation Stand]

Cornerstone

CCLI Song # 6158927

Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury

Verse 1

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name
(REPEAT)

Chorus

Christ alone cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all

Verse 2

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Interlude

He is Lord Lord of all

Verse 3

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne

What A Beautiful Name

CCLI Song # 7068424

Ben Fielding | Brooke Ligertwood

Verse 1

You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

Chorus 1

What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2

You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus You brought heaven down
My sin was great Your love was greater
What could separate us now

Chorus 2

What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Bridge

Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

Bridge

You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

Chorus 3

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Ending

What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Prayer (3 Slides)

[Please join me in the Lord’s Prayer]

Our Father which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. 

Amen.   [Please be seated]

Scripture (3 Slides)

At that very hour same Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Luke 13:31-35Music 2  (9 slides)

Spirit Of The Living God

CCLI Song # 23488 Daniel Iverson

Chorus

Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me
Melt me mold me
Fill me use me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me

It Is Well

CCLI Song # 7021972

Spafford | DiMarco | Bliss

VERSE 1

Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of His voice

And seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken for my regard

CHORUS

Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

Through it all, through it all

It is well

Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

And it is well, with me

VERSE 2

Far be it from me to not believe

Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me

Oh will be thrown into the midst of the sea

BRIDGE 1

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His name

BRIDGE 2

It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul 

(it is well, it is well, it is well)

It is well with my soul 

(it is well, it is well, it is well)

It is well with my soul 

(it is well, it is well, it is well)

It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

CHORUS 2

‘Cause through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

Through it all, through it all

It is well

Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

It is well, it is well, it is well, With me

Message – Moved (6 Slides)

In 1997, we moved into a house that, although this was not disclosed in the purchase contract, it was a house with a Monster Problem. Not a problem that was huge like a monster, but a problem that was a monster. The monster lived in our daughter Grace’s room, under her bed. So, since we did not discover this problem until after we had moved in we were stuck with this monster in our lives. Every night, Andrea or I, would have to take a thorough look under the bed, often removing everything from under the bed to prove to Grace that we had made an extensive look. Eventually, the monster, probably tired of hiding from our prowling eyes each night, moved to her closet where the entire nightly process continued. Each night, we had to do the same thorough, only with more stuff to move around. Eventually, we realized that the best way to deal with our Monster Problem was to put a large lock on the outside of the closet door. While many security experts would possibly dispute the effectiveness of a locked closet, maybe even some would suggest the greater danger of an ornery older brother locking his younger sisters inside the closet, we felt strongly this was the best approach to our problem. And, to our credit, it worked. We rented the house after we moved out, with each renter wanting to know the purpose of the Monster Lock, most completely understood having dealt with closet monsters themselves.

Fear was a consistent life roadblock for the people Jesus ministered to as well for those who were opposed to the God’s path for Jesus.

(Slide – 1 of 3) Jesus said to a people who were stuck living a life of fear, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do nothing more.” (Luke 12:4)

Fear, then and now, keeps us from living the abundant life Jesus calls us to. An abundance that seeks to let Jesus change us from the inside, an abundance that frees us to care about others as much as we care about ourself, an abundance that releases us from fear and ushers us into the abundant hope that will not fail. 

(Slide – 2 of 3) “Do not fear those who can kill your body but cannot do anything else.” Jesus says.”

Jesus is challenging his followers, and us, to an inside change. A transformation that gives us discernment that carries us through an earthly fear, a trust that enables us to walk through problems and doubts, a determination to Love Others the way that God Loves Others.

(Slide – 3 of 3) Jesus does not call us to do God’s work, he calls us to be the hands and feet of God’s work that he is already doing.

Jesus was speaking to a people, much like us, who had a basket full of fears. A oppressive government, a religious institution, and a fear based on a failed version of God – seeing God as one that would abandon them taking away their hope yet still holding to the power to destroy them.

Jesus is really identifying a fear that is much greater than our fear of losing our earthly life, it is a fear of losing the everything we hold valuable.

Remember, Jesus went everywhere showing mercy, acting out of compassion, not with judgement or condemnation, while releasing people of fear and oppression – even though he was, along with the people, oppressed by a brutal government and a religious system in collusion with corrupt prophets and politicians. 

Jesus preached love to a people who could have been easily swayed into a violent uprising to protect himself, but, instead, Jesus risked and gave his own life, giving up his own rights and privileges, in order to heal and free a people from their hopelessness and misery. Jesus chose to speak truth even when no one wanted to hear truth – to speak truth even under the constant threat of retribution.

This was Jesus’ mission, this was Jesus’ calling.

In chapter 13 of the gospel of Luke, we find ourself traveling with Jesus to Jerusalem. A journey that is going to take awhile, not because of the distance, but, instead, because of all the mercy and compassion being being expressed by Jesus all along the way. Jesus, through his acts of love, did not work to achieve religious, personal or political agendas, or even a modicum of personal gain.

(Slide – 1 of 3) Jesus engagement with the Religious leaders begins with an interruption. Jesus was in the middle of being the hands and feet of God’s work. A work that Jesus defined as he echoed the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61)… “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. The Spirit has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

The purpose of the interruption by the religious leaders was to suggest to Jesus that, maybe, he should stop what he was doing and just leave, for his own safety. We cannot genuinely speculate about the motives of the religious leaders, were they truly concerned or was this an act of manipulation to get rid of Jesus. We can, however, notice that the tactic of the leaders was the consistently effective tool of fear. “Herod is going to kill you if you continue to do what you are doing.”

Jesus’ reaction is not to judge the motives of the religious leaders but instead he ‘hung in there’ and continue to be the hands and feet work of God’s work. He is not going to be detoured, he is not going to quit loving others, even if one of those others is set on harming Jesus.

Jesus is not moved by the threat of death, or any threat. These attempts to sway him to walk away, to persuade him let go of his passion, have no impact on Jesus. He does not let the threats of another person, the threats to his life, the threats against his freedom, his path, even his life are powerless. Jesus does not put his own rights, privileges, or his entitlement ahead of God’s plan, God’s love, of even God himself.

(Slide – 2 of 3) “I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.” (Luke 13:32)

Jesus is staring down death and personal safety, security, and privilege, and saying he will continue to do what he has been called, by God, to do, what we are all called to do. This use of of the words Today and Tomorrow is not an actual Today and Tomorrow – it is better understood that he is saying 

(Slide – 3 of 3) “I will continue to do this today knowing that I am also going to be doing it tomorrow. And, when tomorrow becomes another ‘today’ I will be knowing that I will be doing it again the next tomorrow….and so on, a continuous work. And, then, when the todays and the tomorrows are over for me, I will be done.”

Sound familiar? A statement of the third day when ‘It Would Be Finished.

Jesus was holding on, hanging onto, God’s call. A call, to be the hands and feet of the work God was doing, to personally sacrifice what must be sacrificed. He was not holding on to a politician or a religious leader, he was not holding onto a political agenda or a engrained philosophy, he was not hanging onto a person, a place, an institution, a nationality, a privilege entitled by income, social position, color, sexuality, gender, ancestry, education, he was not holding onto his followers or any others that needed to be pacified, nor was he fearful of any other person or thing. He was holding onto God – and he was hanging in there regardless until the work was done, until the 3rd. 

This has been a difficult week for preachers, especially those who have chosen to let go of everything in order to preach the truth given to them by the Holy Sprit. It has been a week where we have been confronted with our own Monster Problem. Preachers all over our area of the country have seen what happens to those who speak truth, who call out evil, who confront conspiracies, who don’t tow the party line, who seek to be the hands and feet of God’s workings. A recent documentary details just some of the churches in Arkansas who have attacked their own pastors, pastors are conservative, evangelical, often fundamentalist and far right – for speaking truth. I know many fearful preachers who are fully aware of the perils of preaching truth to their own congregations. 

They, we, hang on to keeping our jobs, reputations, ministries, calling, and often let go of truth, of God’s calling on us so we can hold onto the monster of fear.

Full disclosure, I do not worry about those same things, but I have to admit, this has been a tough passage to prepare especially on this horrifying week. Many of my contemporaries who follow the same preaching schedule I use, probably shared my struggle this week with this passage, this truth, this Monster.

This week has undoubtedly created a Holy struggle for many. This week has surely presented many monsters hiding in closets and under beds.

This week we were hit with another school shooting, this one killing 19 3rd and 4th graders along with 2 elementary school faulty in indirectly another as one of the teachers husbands experienced a fatal heart attack while trying to deal with the death of his wife. Soon, it became obvious that leaders were not holding on to God, even though most were using God and characatures of God to cover their crumbling grasp on things that were not God.  Fear took over, they did not revert to being the hands and feet of God’s work, instead they grabbed hold of fear, conducting unholy unifying unification rally, just blocks from the elementary school, while at the same time, unboundaried gun rights proponents, Christian/white nationalist, insurrectionists, and may others with a crumbling grasp, held fear based rallies to protect their rights in the face of possible actions. Later in the week found out that a second grader in another state had a pistol and ammunition in his desk. Insanity.

But before all of this, there was an internal report released Monday by the Southern Baptist Convention on the bungled handling of sex abuse within the denomination.  This internal SBC report made public only after a handful of insiders insisted, detailed a 3 year investigation showing top Southern Baptists stonewalled and denigrated almost 100 sex abuse victims over almost two decades. The report, documented that leaders of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States not only ignored sex abuse allegations against church leaders but actively worked to discredit accusers.

Russell Moore, a conservative evangelical and former SBC official, expected no surprises to come out of this document. He had been aware for decades of the abuses, lies, and secrets for decades – his own reputation had been attacked as he sought to have action taken by the leadership of the SBC. Finally he left the SBC.

“Having fought through this for so many years, I couldn’t believe the callous inhumanity evidenced in this report. To see it – to see the very words used by leaders behind closed doors, the tactics being used against survivors and against whistleblowers, it was incredible. I mean, there was too much to even take in. After being told for decades that it would be impossible for the SBC to document predatory preachers so they would not be rehired in other churches, It was shocking to find that this document already existed. The existence and maintenance of a document was kept a secret, not to protect abuse victims but to protect themselves, the leaders, against claims of liability. I honestly don’t know what to call this other than a criminal conspiracy. It’s revolting. Crisis is much too small a word for what happened here. There was a constant stonewalling and intimidation of anyone who was pointing these things out and speaking to these things.

(Russell Moore, Christianity Today)

But it was the justification voiced behind closed doors that brings us back to this Luke passage. All of this was done, and over 4 million was spent, to protect the image of the denomination and especially the evangelistic efforts of the convention. The efforts in the minds of these men, the practices of destroying lives in order to ‘win souls’ was lauded as reason enough to keep secrets perpetuated this evil. Instead of holding onto God, and willingly being the hands and feet of the work God was already doing,  they were holding onto their own agenda. They were holding onto a gross misunderstanding of their own mission, their calling. They were excusing this horror, justifying their own Satanic dark and shadowy evil, even as their grasp was slipping and their purpose was descending into fodder.

They were working out of fear, fear of what others would think of them, fear of hurting their man made efforts to increase salvations, baptisms, to have more people in the pews of a denomination that was already losing millions of members. They were hanging onto all kinds of fears, but they had lost grip of the call of God to be the hands and feet of the work God was doing – not the work they had devised.

They were hurting people instead of loving them.

The church has a monster problem, America has a monster problem, humankind has a monster problem. We have let go of being the hands and feet of the work he is doing, and, in doing so, we have let go of God. And, much like the Israelites during the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah’s prophecies, they have continued a false and deceitful presentation of holiness but one has only to look at what they are hanging onto, what we are hanging onto, to see that we have exchanged God for all types of other things.

Response – Benediction (6 slides)

Leader: As God spoke with the religious leaders, he made a very odd statement, a statement about hens and chicks.

Response: It was a statement about God and each of us.

Leader: “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Response: It was a call to us and our descendants.

Leader: It is a statement of what we pass on, what we teach the next generation through our lives and through our words.

Response: I long to gather your children but you were not willing to let me.

Leader: It is a desire of God to gather those who come after us, to free us of our monsters, our fears, our oppression, our hopelessness.

Response: It is a call to us to check what we are holding onto.

Leader: It is God’s desire that those who come after us will know what not to hold onto. What is strong enough to support.

Response: It is a call to hold onto God.

Leader: It is a calling to be hands and feet today, tomorrow, the next today, and all the following tomorrows.

Response: It is a calling to hang on until God’s work is complete.Response – Music 3 (7  slides) 

Living Hope

CCLI Song # 7106807

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham

Verse 1

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night

Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

Verse 2

Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame


The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope

Chorus

Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

Verse 3

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
(REPEAT)

Jesus Yours is the victory

Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Community (3 Slides)

  • Next Sunday, June 5, “Passionate Persistence’, Luke 15:1-10
  • Take It Easy Sunday, NO Worship Gathering June 12
  • Pray Peace. Prayers for Ukraine – donation link at GFNorman.com

Peace (3 Slides)

Leader: As you leave this place, may the peace of the Lord, go with you.

Response: And also with you.

Leader: We gather here because of God’s love for us.

Response: We go from here because of God’s love for everyone out there. 

Leader: Go in the peace of the Lord. Have a great week.

Order, Words, & Voices 05.15.22

Order

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Pre Worship Audio (10:15am)

Music 1/Call to Worship (10:30am) Worship Team

The Solid Rock

Shout To The Lord

Prayer Renee

Scripture Luke 7:11-17 Martha

Music 2 Desert Song

Breathe On Me Breath Of God (Trentham) Worship Team

Message Moved Rick

Congregational Response 

Benediction Peyton

Music 3 Trust In You Worship Team

Community (Gallery View) Rick

Closing Peace                                         Rick

Closing Audio Words and Voices

Welcome/Music 1

The Solid Rock

CCLI Song # 25417

Edward Mote | William Batchelder Bradbury

Verse 1

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

Chorus

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

[The prophet Isaiah spoke God’s words of truth to a people who had yet to accept any words except for the words they wanted to hear. Words of hope, compassion, empathy, and even persistence even though the words were dismissed. Words such as…

The wilderness and dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice; the crocus shall blossom with joy and shouting. God Shall strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees. 

 “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come and save you.”]

Verse 2

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In ev’ry high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Chorus

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

[The people saw no need for words of hope, compassion, empathy, and definitely no need for a persistent God. Although they refused to listen to the needed words, still they were a gift to these people. These were words for a people a century before their coming exile and enslavement. However, these were a people who had settled in to indifference – later, they were words for a people that witnessed the brutal cross and an empty tomb. Now, they are words for us…

The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be opened; the lame shall leap, and the tongue of the speechless shall sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water; the grass shall become reeds and rushes.]

Verse 3

His oath His covenant His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

Chorus

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

[Words unheeded, words thrown out with the garbage become words exchanged for lies and deceit. But, God continued, and continues, to give us these words of Hope, Compassion, Empathy, revealing God’s Persistence.

A highway called the Holy Way shall be there on which not even fools shall go astray. Nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; but the redeemed shall walk there. The ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.]

Shout To The Lord

CCLI Song # 1406918. Darlene Zschech

Verse 1

My Jesus my Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love

My comfort my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Chorus

Shout to the Lord
All the earth let us sing
Power and majesty
Praise to the King


Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name


I sing for joy
At the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love You
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise
I have in You

Chorus

Shout to the Lord
All the earth let us sing
Power and majesty
Praise to the King


Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name

I sing for joy
At the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love You
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise
I have in You

Prayer

[Please join in the Lord’s prayer, words are on the screen] [7 slides begin] 

Our Father which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. 

Amen.

(Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

Scripture

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. 

He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow, and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with compassion for her and said to her, “Do not cry.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stopped. 

And Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 

Fear seized all of them, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” This word about him spread throughout the whole of Judea and all the surrounding region.

Luke 7:11-17

Music 2 

Desert Song

CCLI Song # 5060793  Brooke Ligertwood

Verse 1

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my 

hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

Verse 2

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved 

of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

Chorus

I will bring praise  I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me 

shall remain
I will rejoice  I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Verse 3

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror 

and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

Chorus

I will bring praise  I will bring praise
No weapon formed 

against me shall remain
I will rejoice  I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Bridge

All of my life in ev’ry season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Verse 4

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow

Breathe On Me Breath Of God

CCLI Song # 99481

Edwin Hatch | Robert Jackson

Verse 1

Breathe on me breath of God
Fill me with life anew
That I may love what Thou dost love
And do what Thou wouldst do

Verse 2

Breathe on me breath of God
Until my heart is pure
Until with Thee I will one will
To do and to endure

Verse 3

Breathe on me breath of God
Till I am wholly Thine
Till all this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine

Message – Moved

  • [slide] Close to 2,000 years before Jesus’ Resurrection, the unknown God gave a promise to an idol worshiper named Abraham – a promise that would change the relationship of the Mighty God and the People who would choose to accept God’s offer to be the God’s people.
  • [slide] It was a promise that would make this people ‘a people’ moving them from being afraid of the mighty scary God to a known merciful God – they would know God as Lord. A designation that was monumental, a new identifier that would put a metaphoric human face on God. 
  • [slide] Around twelve hundred years later, these words from God, the God of Abraham,  were echoed through the voice of God’s prophet Isaiah. 
  • [slide] About 700 years later, the essence of these same words would be heard visually as God spoke through the human birth, life, ministry, and death, of God’s son Jesus, meaning now, the chosen people knew God not only as mighty and Lord, but also as deliverer and Messiah, and now, the metaphoric human face was a reality living among them. 
  • [slide] Three decades later, those words would take on feet as a persistent and undeterred group of women witnessed the death of Jesus refusing to quit until they found the resurrected body of Jesus. Now God was known as Mighty, Lord, Deliverer, Messiah, Resurrected life, and Friend. 
  • [slide] For decades following, decades that turned into centuries, which turned into over 2 thousand years, these words were voiced, sung, written, and demonstrated, those same words were taught through the passion of the apostles, and eventually us, all who now knew God as Mighty, Lord, Deliverer, Messiah, Resurrected life, Friend, Helper, Encourager, Savior, and the very presence of Love.

[slide] God’s words, voiced from the mouth of the prophet, were intended as warning to a rebellious and wayward people. The intriguing thing about these words is that while God was calling out a people who were ignoring God, still God used words of encouragement and hope. [slide] Words like glad, [slide] rejoice, [slide] blossom, and [slide] joy; God used instructions such as [slide] strengthen weak knees and hands, [slide] be strong and do not fear; he gave promises that [slide] God will come and save you, [slide] the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf will open, [slide] the lame shall leap like a deer, and [slide] the tongue of the speechless will sing for joy; God predicted, before anyone realized that they were thirsty, that [slide] waters shall break forth in the wilderness and [slide] streams in the desert, [slide] burning sands shall become pools and the [slide] thirsty ground will be immersed by springs of the water; and most beautifully, God [slide] painted a picture of a Holy Highway on which no lion nor ravenous beast shall be present, a holy way on which the redeemed shall walk freely, the ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing and an everlasting joy and gladness shall be evident and all sorrow and sighing shall be gone.

[slide] Remember, these words were patiently given to a people who, not only refused to listen to the words, but repeatedly attempted to shut the words from God up.

[slide] God used words to move, but those words could only move a people who were listening and intentionally hearing. A people who were willing to be moved by compassion and mercy.

[Filler Slide]

God’s intentional words are words that come from the very nature and character of God. Words that call us to action, words that come from God’s compassion and hope. Words that reveal God. It is no surprise then, that Jesus would act, and react out of that same compassion, mercy,  and hope. Jesus heard the words crying out for compassion and the unspoken cries for hope. Jesus’ response to those words pointed to hope, they gave hope – words that became actions, actions that gave life.

Jesus moved by the words of humans, just as words and cries had been a catalyst for every move of God. Let’s take a moment to truly grasp this truth.

  1. [slide] Every action of God is out of compassion, beginning with exiling of Adam and Eve from the garden; banishing their murderous son, Cain; the flooding of the earth; the scattering of the arrogant from Babel; rescuing the wicked in Sodom from, and by, their own destruction; and so many acts that we do not automatically see as compassionate, plus we have those actions that are undeniably merciful. All to provide hope to those directly involved leaving ripples that bless all, even us thousands of years later. 
  2. [slide] God’s words to those who have dismissed, ignored, disobeyed, and sometimes have just wandered away, are always corrective, compassionate, and ultimately redemptive – not punitive. Even when they are words of human consequence. The coats for Adam and Eve, the protective shield for Cain, the the ark for God’s creation, the scattering to open eyes and hearts, the destruction of Sodom to protect from their own actions and hardened hearts.
  3. [slide] God hears our cries long before we recognize our need. God pursues those who call out to him and even more persistently those who have forgotten him. 
  4. [slide] God gives hope until we are no longer able to receive hope, til we can no longer see that we need hope. And, God persistently does not reflect our negativity, but, instead, responds with compassion and mercy even though we may be at our most unlovable state.

[Slide] Grasp This – God loves us even when we are at our most unlovable state of being.

Today’s Passage is a very simple one. Two different moments, found in the same chapter of the gospel of Luke. Moments that took place early on in the ministry of Jesus. Two very different people hopeless and in need of some compassion and mercy. 

A Roman centurion had a highly valued slave who was ill and close to death. The centurion heard about Jesus and sent some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to come and heal his slave. The elders appealed to Jesus earnestly, saying, “This man is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our people, and, even though he is not a Jew, he built our synagogue for us.” Jesus went with them, but the centurion sent friends to tell Jesus, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But please speak the word where you are so my servant will be healed. For, like you, I also am a man with authority over many, I say to one, ‘Do this, and they do what I have ordered.’ Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, he said to the crowd, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found another who understands who I am.” When the Jewish leaders arrived back at the home of the centurion, they found the slave in good health.

The other hopeless person in need of compassion and mercy was a widow left with only one son. Her culture held no respect for a widow, she had no worth, and for most was only a burden. No money, now home or land ownership, no servants, no where to go, no one to care for her. Ever since her husband had died her only hope had been her son, only he could assure she would be cared for and remembered.

As we meet this women, she is engulfed in mourners and spectators. Her only son, her only hope, had died she is now surrounded by those who respected and loved her son. Even though she immersed in the grief of the others, she is well aware that she will soon stand alone, dismissed, and hopeless. She is not a person of power, she is probably not even a person that is very known, even to this crowd. There is no one who is going to go to Jesus on her behalf,  there is no one concerned about her future. She stands in a crowd just waiting until she will be standing alone and hopeless. Ironically, Jesus is now in town, but no one has granted her the freedom to ask Jesus, no one has given her even the smallest amount of hope that Jesus could, through his mercy and compassion, be the giver of hope to her.

The story of this woman was not an uncommon sight, in most every community, there was a pocket of women standing alone in the same situation. Standing without hope. Knowing that no one is consumed by compassion, that no one will be prompted by mercy. They are left alone to face the misery of being left alive.

This is where the story of this woman meets the God of the compassionate and merciful words voiced thousands of years before. Words that convey love, words that give hope. Jesus does not need to be begged to go to the woman, nor does he need anyone to inform him of her pain and agony. He just needs to see her, to be in her presence, to recognize her hopelessness. Upon seeing her, he encourages her to not cry, to not be consumed by her hopelessness. Jesus then touched the frame on which the pall bearers carried the coffin, they stooped down so Jesus could speak the dead body. “Young man,” Jesus said, ‘arise.” The young man sat up and began to speak. Then, Jesus gave the son back to his mother.

Jesus gave the woman her son. Jesus gave the woman hope. Jesus, prompted by the same compassion and mercy that led God to say the original words thousands of years before, now again gives those words words of life. Words of Hope. Jesus was moved by the same compassion and mercy that moves God.

Now, let us understand that the woman went back to her same situation that she had before her son died and was risen. She still had a cloud of doom over her head, maybe now it was darker as she had experienced the death of her only hope, however, now she had met hope. Now she could go on living knowing that she was not unnoticed and she was not hopeless. She could now live knowing that it is God’s compassion and mercy that moves him to action rather than her position or power. Life would still be difficult but now she was holding onto something she had not held onto before. Even in the worst of times, hope was still there, even when she could not see or feel hope it was there. It never was the crowd, it never was what she held too tightly, it was the God who moves even when she forgets God is there.

This is God, this is what God is, this is what God does. For the woman, life would surely still be hard, times would obviously still be tough, but now she could remember to persevere because she had hope, hope forgotten that had been remembered. Hope that had been lost had now been found. Hope that is all around us as well, even in the worst of times – and it does not abandon us when we forget it or turn away from it.

In sermon development, sermons are an odd beast. They are meant to teach, to enlighten, and do inspire – God brings the sermon writer along a journey to each of those. Sometimes for me, even though I will have a full sermon written, it can still be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and even sometimes Sunday morning, before we even fully know what God wants to take to the audience the preacher is preaching to. Often, a preacher will have success with a sermon and then think it it is an effective sermon – not realizing that it is successful because it was for a particular audience. Today’s message took that agonizing path, everything written up through Thursday night has been, at his moment, preached. That does not mean there has not been a struggle. 

Preaching that moments when God gives hope in hopeless times, honestly, has been a struggle for me. I am fully aware that many of you have faced, or are facing, the desperation of losing a loved one, to struggling with a loved one, to miserable situations at work or at home, to hopeless situations that just plain and simple are not going to easily go away. In fact, the original ending of this sermon, which I preached to you have seemed disingenuous in light of our reality. That is why I added the final two paragraphs, in my attempt to make this sermon not so conceptual that it is worthless. It was not until Friday night that God gave me an ‘ah ha’ moment, where it made sense, and fits with our reality of pain and struggle.

Here is the message for us today, this moment, in our lives. 

Reality – the woman still went home, even with her son, to a dismal reality. She was still dependent on him, and now, even worse, the had recognized that truth even more in his death. He would eventually die, had maybe she would still outlive him – her desperation was actually just postponed. 

However, Jesus’ compassionate and merciful gift of hope, for her, in that moment, was not actually for that moment.

When God approaches us in our time of known or unknown need, God’s actions are not necessarily for that moment- they are giving us a deeper hope to hang on to our next hopeless moment. God’s mercy and compassion are always much bigger that our now moment.

Truth – what you recognize God doing now, is probably not actually limited to now, it is probably for later. It is now preparing you for the next human reality that will need this hope. To understand we must travel back to the day following the Sabbath that followed the Cross. Mary Magadelene and the other women, went to the grave, but, they were not going to leave there hopeless, they were sure to need hope later, so they stuck around, they waiting on Jesus, or at least a word from Jesus. 

Is this your preparatory moment?

Let’s Pray

Response – Verbal Congregational Response

Leader: God’s mercy and compassion guide his reactions and responses. 

Response: May we be a people of mercy and compassion.

Leader: God’s patience and love form his words and actions.

Response: May our words and actions be a reflection of God’s patience and love.

Leader: God’s engagements, encounters, and confrontations are the unstoppable natural redemptive outflow of his mercy and compassion.

Response: May God’s redemptive nature be our core character that our world can see.

Leader: God does not give up on us, God does not act punitively towards us, God’s love is the light that shines even when we fail to look.

Response: May we stick around until we see God, may we stay until we hear God.

Leader: God takes notice of our times of hopelessness, God reaches out in our times of isolation, God seeks us out to remind us of hope.

Response: May we remember to turn to God’s hope when hope cannot be found.

Leader: God is Love.

Response: May we also be a people of love.

Response – Music 3 

Trust In You

CCLI Song # 7025522

Lauren Daigle | Michael Farren | Paul Mabury

Verse 1

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wondering
Never changes what You see

Verse 2

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty warrior King of the fight
No matter what I face 

You’re by my side

Chorus

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You


I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Verse 3

Truth is You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead 

You have not seen
So in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord 

and nothing less

Chorus

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You


I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Bridge

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand


Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

Chorus

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You


I will trust I will trust
I will trust in You

Community

  • Next Sunday, May 22, Our Mission Together, Matthew 25:31-46 (Special Speaker Kyle Tubbs)
  • Pray Peace. Prayers for Ukraine – donation link at GFNorman.com

Peace

As you leave this place, may the peace of the Lord, go with you.

And also with you.

We gather here because of God’s love for us, we go from here because of God’s love for everyone out there. Go in the peace of the Lord.

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