Order, Words, & Voices 01.29.23

01.29.23 Together for Hope (Jason Coker)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: Rick

Love Lifted Me

I Stand Amazed (My Saviour’s Love)

Call to Worship Response/Lord’s Prayer Renee

Reading Matthew 6:7-21, 25-34 Segun

Songs   Rick

The Steadfast Love Of The Lord

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Message Together for Hope Jason Coker

Music ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus Rick

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music (slides)

Love Lifted Me

I was sinking deep in sin

Far from the peaceful shore

Very deeply stained within

Sinking to rise no more

But the Master of the sea

Heard my despairing cry

From the waters lifted me

Now safe am I

Love lifted me

Love lifted me

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me

All my heart to Him I give

Ever to Him I’ll cling

In His blessed presence live

Ever His praises sing

Love so mighty and so true

Merits my soul’s best songs

Faithful loving service too

To Him belongs

Love lifted me

Love lifted me

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me

I Stand Amazed (My Saviour’s Love)

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene

And wonder how He could love me

A sinner condemned unclean

How marvelous how wonderful

And my song shall ever be

How marvelous how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me

He took my sins and my sorrows

He made them His very own

He bore the burden to Calvary

And suffered and died alone

How marvelous how wonderful

And my song shall ever be

How marvelous how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Through the virgin Mary, God gave the son. Through Joseph, who accepted the role of raising the child Jesus, God gave safety. As refugees in Egypt God gave the Spirit to guide the family of Jesus

Response: Jesus went through the waters and the wilderness

Leader: Jesus chose to live among those living on the margins

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed the poor and those that mourned

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed the gentle

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed hungry and thirsty

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed the merciful and the pure

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed the peacemakers and the persecuted

Response: Jesus said Blessed are you

Leader: Jesus noticed you

Response: Jesus said be salt, be light

Lord’s Prayer (Slides) ‘Join me in the prayer of Jesus’

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 forgive those who trespass against us. And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

“When you are praying, don’t use repetition, thinking a lot of words will make you better heard. Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

“Pray, like this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [Amen.]’”

“If you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. If you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your.”

“If you fast, don’t try to be noticed by making a gloomy face. Anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be noticed except by your God who sees what you do in secret – let him be the one who notices you.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal it. Store up treasures in heaven; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; nor for your clothing. Life is more than food, and the body is for more than clothing. Look at the birds of the sky, they do not sow, reap, or gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than them?”

“Can anyone add a single day to their life though worry? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor, nor do they spin thread for cloth, yet Solomon was not dressed as glorious as them.”

“If God clothes the grass of the field, which are thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will He not provide for you even more? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat, or drink, or what are we do wear?’” 

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. So, seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first, and all these things will be provided to you. Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”   Matthew 6:7-21, 25-34

Music (Slides)

The Steadfast Love

The steadfast love

Of the Lord never ceases

His mercies never come to an end

They are new every morning

New every morning

Great is Thy faithfulness O Lord

Great is Thy faithfulness

The steadfast love

Of the Lord never ceases

His mercies never come to an end

They are new every morning

New every morning

Great is Thy faithfulness O Lord

Great is Thy faithfulness

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

Message – Together for Hope (Jason Coker)

Manuscript not available

Music

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus (Trust In Jesus)

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

Just to take Him at His word

Just to rest upon His promise

Just to know thus saith the Lord

Jesus Jesus how I trust Him

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er

Jesus Jesus precious Jesus

O for grace to trust Him more

Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus

Just from sin and self to cease

Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest and joy and peace

Jesus Jesus how I trust you

How I’ve proved you o’er and o’er

Jesus Jesus precious Jesus

O for grace to trust you more

Community

  • Next Sunday, Matthew 7, Astounded
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, February 22-April 5, Lenten Season
  • Wedding Shuttle

Benediction (Blank Slide)

May we go with Jesus’ radical words ‘Happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are gentle, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted. May we go, with the challenge to be salt and light, to be a light shining before others and in so doing, may we see with God’s eyes and glorify God.

Closing PeaceLeader: May the Peace of the Lord go with you.  Response: And also with you.

Order, Words, & Voices 01.22.23

Radical Words

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: Lynn/Christian

Be Thou My Vision

O Master Let Me Walk With Thee

Call to Worship Response & Lord’s Prayer Linda

Reading Matthew 5:1-20 Musgroves-online

Songs   Lynn/Christian

Give Me Jesus

Message Radical Words Rick

Music Lynn/Christian

We Are

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music (slides)

Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me save that Thou art

Thou my best thought by day or by night

Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Verse 2

Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord

Thou my great Father I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Verse 3

High King of heaven my victory won

May I reach heaven’s joys bright heaven’s Sun

Heart of my own heart whatever befall

Still be my Vision O Ruler of all

O Master let me walk with Thee

In lowly paths of service free

Tell me Thy secret

Help me bear the strain of toil

The fret of care

Help me the slow of heart to move

By some clear winning word of love

Teach me the wayward feet to stay

And guide them in the homeward way

In hope that sends a shining ray

Far down the future’s broad’ning way

In peace that only Thou canst give

With Thee O Master let me live

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: The generations from Abraham to David was fourteen; David to Babylonia was fourteen; deportation to Jesus was fourteen.

Response: God said to Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Leader: The angel told Joseph that his fiance would birth a son who would save the people from their sins.

Response: He will be called Immanuel, God with us

Leader: The child was born in the city of David, Angels proclaimed news of great joy to shepherds, and Magi came from faraway lands

Response: Nations will come to your light, kings to your brightness

Leader: The paranoid King, scared of the rumors about the birth of the Messiah ordered the massacre in Bethlehem

Response: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus became refugees in Egypt

Leader: Jesus walked through the baptismal waters and into the wilderness for a time of testing

Response: Jesus fasted and prayed

Leader: Jesus called his disciples and gathered those living on the margins and in the shadows

Response: Jesus spoke radical words

Leader: Jesus led them to a new perspective on life, a new understanding of worth, and a new hope in God

Response: Jesus shows us love

(Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.)

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (No Slides)

Jesus saw the crowds and, along with his disciples, went up on the mountain; and sat down.  Jesus began to teach them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice, be glad, for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.” 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, they put it on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

“I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Until all of the law is accomplished, until heaven and earth pass away, the Law remains!  For I say to you that unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:1-20

Music (Slides)

In the morning when I rise

In the morning when I rise

In the morning when I rise

Give me Jesus

Chorus

Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus

You can have all this world

Just give me Jesus

Verse 2

When I am alone

When I am alone

Oh when I am alone

Give me Jesus

Interlude

Jesus give me Jesus

Verse 3

When I come to die

When I come to die

Oh when I come to die

Give me Jesus

Message – Matthew 5:1-20 Radical Words

In 1957, evangelist Billy Graham did something radical. Graham’s audience was historically predominately white and his message was probably subconsciously aimed at them. But, one evening in 1957, at a Madison Square Garden crusade, Graham invited a 28 year old black baptist pastor to stand at the podium in front of over 18,000 people to pray. That young pastor, Martin Luther King, knowing the makeup of the crowd, surely considered his words carefully. 

“God, in these days of emotional tension—when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail— give us penetrating vision, broad understanding, power of endurance, and abiding faith, and save us from the paralysis of crippling fear. And, O God, we ask Thee to help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world and for a brotherhood that transcends race or color. Amen.”

King had just recently come into the spotlight as one of the leaders of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, this was the same year federal troops protected nine black students as they enrolled in a Central High School in Little Rock against hostile protestors. This was the year President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 making it a federal offense to prevent anyone from voting. It was a time when  hateful white resentment to civil rights successes  was an increasingly a visible reality. This was true of many of those in Graham’s audience. Even though Graham did little else to advance racial equality, on this night in 1957, Graham’s actions were radical. Especially in the midst of this crowd as King courageously spoke words calling for “a brotherhood that transcends race or color.”  

King’s words were radical, Graham’s welcoming a black man to pray was radical, God’s call to this white Jesus believing audience to see the world differently than how their politicians and religious leaders instructed them to see was radical. King’s words were calling the Jesus believers in the building to a social, economic, religious, and political revolution.

Five years later, King would be executed for his prayers, his actions, and even his very presence. Less than three years before Jesus was executed, in his first public engagement, he too used radical words. Words calling for the faithful to allow their perspectives to be turned upside down.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”

In his first public words, Jesus took the unholy and undesirable characteristics of the marginalized peoples in his audience and revealed the holiness of their traits.  

Blessed – the greek word is makarios, meaning happy, arrived, successful. An emotional state of happiness regardless of the circumstances.

Theologian Haroldo Camacho describes the context of this word, “Up to this moment, Makarios was a word reserved for the elite, and then only the crème de la crème. Makarios was used to describe those who had everything money could buy, and then some.The classical Greeks described makarios as the status of the gods, the powerful and wealthy. In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), Makarios was used to describe human righteousness. The opposite of makarios was not unhappiness – instead it was a state of being actively cursed by God. This was the understanding of makarios among these listeners of Jesus. The masses, the multitudes, where poverty, sickness, and hunger reigned were considered to be living under the curse of God. Makarios was not a suitable adjective to describe a beggar, the sick, and especially those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. Makarios was out of reach for this group of people, until that day when Jesus spoke. God’s incarnate makarios, Jesus, was already surrounding himself with the accursed, the non-makarios. Then, Jesus does the unthinkable – He passes through this crowd, healing, touching the untouchables, embracing the rejected. He brings life to the terminally ill, sight to the blind, hearing and speech to those who could not hear or talk, and soundness of mind to the mentally ill, and as he passes through this crowd, he makes an astounding pronouncement- He declares them all blessed, makarios!”

Reverend David Garland interprets ‘Makarious’ to mean, ‘Congratulations’. As in ‘you have arrived, congratulations!’ Imagine being a part of this outcast crowd and hear this word repurposed to apply to them. The hungry, the thirsty, the pure, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the insulted, and the slandered were being congratulated rather than being insulted. For the first time those on the margins were seen and heard.

Jesus was not saying to them BE hungry, or BE thirsty, or BE pure in heart, or BE peacemakers, or BE persecuted, or BE insulted, or BE slandered – no, he was saying this is what the inhabitants look and live like who reside in God’s Kingdom. This is what a valuable life looks like from the perspective of God’s Kingdom. This perspective is going to redefine you IF you follow me.’

It is as if Jesus has written a paper about his life detailing the stories, teachings, sacrifices, love, confrontations, relationships, and every aspect of his life. A paper that will end with the fulfillment of his purpose as Mary and the others arrive at the empty grave and then hear Jesus’ final words before the accession. However, in this paper, Jesus does not wait until the end to explain his impact on the life of his followers, instead he explains it at the beginning. Here he is speaking to those considering a life of listening, learning, and following Jesus, and at this beginning he says ‘if you follow me, if you let my words and life infiltrate your minds and hearts, these words of markarious will eventually describe how you will think, this will be your perspective of the world. No longer will you be manipulated by politicians, no longer will you be controlled by religious leaders, no longer will you allow other voices to shape or deceive your mind and heart. This perspective will be your source of understanding, thinking, and responding – this will be your only filter as you seek truth. This will be how you will love God and love others, how you love all people.’

Interestingly, this type of truth is often recognized by the nonreligious world long before religious institutions and individuals. The business school at Columbia University, along with many other top tier business universities, has begun to grapple with the reality of ‘criticism that businesses are too predatory, exploitative and monopolistic, and that business education has to change.’ 

Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, said, “The forces at work in the world are necessarily causing a rethinking of the foundations of our economic system. Climate change, issues of social injustice and what globalization means for societies — all of these are raising profound questions about the nature of what the future can be.” 

Questioning the perspective that the art of business is just making a select group of the extraordinarily wealthy – they have come to the conclusion that the framework for business needs to include concerns about needy communities and all of our hurting world, not just seeking profits and financial gains. To facilitate this rethinking of business education, Columbia has actually built their latest building to emphasize and advance the school’s integration of social concerns. They are beginning to realize that wealth and power is not humanity’s primary objective, that the rich and powerful are not the only ones deserving of Makarious. 

(NY Times, Jan. 5, 2023)

Basically,  they are accidentally taking a second look at Jesus’ words realizing these words are not a naive idealistic nirvana that is out of touch with reality, instead these words describe how the world must begin to operate and think. 

As Jesus lists the ‘blesseds’ he accompanies each with a gift or result. The poor and the persecuted will recognize and receive the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn will be comforted. The gentle will inherit the earth, the hungry and thirsty will be satisfied, the merciful will receive mercy, the pure will see God, the peacemakers will be called sons of God.

This is not a ‘DO This’ message, it is a ‘This is what is to Come’ message. It is a message saying, ‘This is what you are going to learn and see, this is going to be your perspective, this is going to be your existence, IF you genuinely follow me’.

Gerald Liu wonderfully wraps up Jesus’ message, “Jesus trusts his followers to play a part in manifesting the makarios of God in service to others, especially when our reality seems nowhere near the salvation message that the Messiah brings. As peculiar as the promises of happiness seem in the Beatitudes, they seem to rest in part upon the ability of the genuine followers of Jesus to attend to the wounds of the world with the saltiness of God, to illuminate a way forward in impossible circumstances with divine light, and to do those things as if it’s JUST US BEING WHO WE ARE. Like it’s second nature. The Beatitudes persist while naming the mysteriousness of what they guarantee, which is too wonderful for us to know with any precise understanding.” 

(Gerald C. Liu,  Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, N.J.)

The law was given to teach the Israelites how to love God and love others so that the world could, and can, see God.  Jesus, in his inaugural address, is starting with a new perspective on how the believer is to see the world. In this brief introduction to himself, Jesus is moving us from what they should Do as told in the Law, to what they should BE as they will see in Jesus, as Jesus himself fulfills the Law. This nature of the word Makarios and this understanding of God’s Kingdom, cannot help but turn our perspective upside down. Jesus is calling us to BE the Kingdom of God.

Think of all this could mean if we were to accept this pursuit. The commitment and work of education for all children would become holy work, advocating for food, water, and shelter for all human beings would become a holy priority, protecting the vulnerable would become a holy endeavor, providing health and mental care for all would become a holy pursuit, encouraging the prisoner would be a holy habit, caring for the marginalized and abused would become a holy calling, caring for God’s creation would become a holy obligation, knowing God intimately would become a holy life. Plus, the works of finance, engineering, faith, maintenance, and all other works, even politics, would become a life sustaining holy work.

Holy because it is how Jesus taught us to live through his words and life. Holy because it takes place only when our perception has become the perception of Jesus. Holy because we will be living the holy life that Jesus revealed to us through his life. Holy because it is the intentional outflow of following Jesus.

It all begins with removing the obstacles, boundaries, and limits allowing Jesus full influence and the Spirit full reach into every shadow and corner of our life.

“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the uneven ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together” 

(Isaiah 40:3-5)

Let us pray.

Music

Ev’ry secret ev’ry shame

Ev’ry fear ev’ry pain

Live inside the dark

But that’s not who we are

We are children of the day

Pre-Chorus

So wake up sleeper lift your head

We were meant for more than this

Fight the shadows conquer death

Make the most of the time we have left

Chorus

We are the light of the world

We are the city on a hill

We are the light of the world

And we gotta we gotta we gotta

Let the light shine

(REPEAT)

Interlude

Let the light shine

Let the light shine ooh

Verse 2

We are called to spread the news

To tell the world the simple truth

Jesus came to save there’s freedom in His name

So let His love break through

Bridge

We are the light we are the light we are the light

So let your light shine brighter

We are the light we are the light we are the light

Jesus You are the light You are the light

You are the light

We will lift You high and shine shine shine

Ending

Let the light shine let the light shine

Let the light shine let the light shine

Community

  • Next Sunday, Guest Speaker, Jason Coker, Together for Hope
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, February 22-April 5, Lenten Season

Benediction (Blank Slide)

May we go with Jesus’ radical words ‘Happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are gentle, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted. May we go, with the challenge to be salt and light, to be a light shining before others and in so doing, may we see with God’s eyes and glorify God.

Closing PeaceLeader: May the Peace of the Lord go with you.  Response: And also with you.

Order, Words, & Voices 01.15.23

Order, Words, & Voices

01.15.23 Matthew 4:1-17

Through Water

Order

Pre Worship Music

Opening Songs: Rick

Heaven Came Down

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Cricklin

Reading Matthew 4:1-17 Andrea

Songs   Jesus Paid It All Rick

Message Through Wilderness Rick

Music Wherever He Leads I’ll Go Rick

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music (slides)

Heaven Came Down

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

When at the cross 

the Savior made me whole

My sins were washed away

And my night was turned to day

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

O what a wonderful wonderful day

Day I will never forget

After I’d wandered in darkness away

Jesus my Savior I met

O what a tender compassionate friend

He met the need of my heart

Shadows dispelling with joy I am telling

He made all the darkness depart

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

When at the cross 

the Savior made me whole

My sins were washed away

And my night was turned to day

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure

After the passing of time

I have a future in heaven for sure

There in those mansions sublime

And it’s because of that wonderful day

When at the cross I believed

Riches eternal and blessings supernal

From His precious hand I received

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

When at the cross 

the Savior made me whole

My sins were washed away

And my night was turned to day

Heaven came down 

and glory filled my soul

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer

I will sing of my Redeemer

And His wondrous love to me

On the cruel cross He suffered

From the curse to set me free

Sing O sing of my Redeemer

With His blood He purchased me

On the cross He sealed my pardon

Paid the debt and made me free

I will sing of my Redeemer

And His wondrous love to me

On the cruel cross He suffered

From the curse to set me free

I will sing of my Redeemer

And His wondrous love to me

He from death to life has brought me

Son of God with Him to be

I will sing of my Redeemer

And His wondrous love to me

On the cruel cross He suffered

From the curse to set me free

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Jesus chose to step into the waters of Baptism, choosing to identify with mankind, choosing to follow God’s path.

Response:  As Jesus walked out of the waters God was pleased.

Leader: God expressed his pleasure as he affirmed that this was his son.

Response: As God affirmed the Son, the Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness.

Leader: Again, Jesus chose to follow, he chose to enter the wilderness, he chose what laid ahead.

Response: As Jesus walked into the wilderness Satan was giddy.

Leader: Jesus rested, he waited, he fasted, he remembered truth, he remembered his own vulnerabilities, he immersed himself into the truth of God’s strength and God’s power.

Response: Jesus paused for the wilderness required God’s strength.

Leader: And there, Jesus remembered.

Response: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God

Leader: There, Jesus recollected.

Response: You shall not put the Lord your God to the test

Leader: There, Jesus grabbed truth.

Response: You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only

Leader: The failed devil left Jesus alone in the wilderness.

Response: The angels came and served Jesus.

(Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.)

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

After his baptism, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. The tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Jesus along into the holy city and place him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written: ‘He will give His angels orders concerning You’ and ‘On their hands they will lift You up, so that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’”

 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written: ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and he said to Him, “I will give you all these things if You fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Jesus and the angels came to serve Jesus.

When Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, He withdrew into Galilee leaving Nazareth,  and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 

This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled saying: “In the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, the Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:1-17

Music (Slides)

Jesus Paid It All 

I hear the Saviour say

Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray

Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find

Thy power and Thine alone

Can change the leper’s spots

And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne

I stand in Him complete

Jesus died my soul to save

My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Message – Matthew 4:1-17 Through Wilderness (No Slides)

(Opening Slide – Hauerwas Quote, leave up until after quote is voiced)

Living in a borrowed space with the overwhelming stench of livestock defecation, the rush of strange faces crushed in around you seeking to catch a glimpse of your face, the arrival of foreigners, dignitaries, those considered unclean and unacceptable by your own, the sense of fear as you are forced to hurriedly leave in a desperate grasp for survival, the feel of a strange land where those you depend on are frantically attempting to adjust to a home that is not a home, to being unwanted by your new neighbors, constantly confused and voiceless, this is the story of Jesus’ this is his opening narration.

This is life lived on the margins, this was Jesus’ first impressions of humanity, this was the existence which would define Jesus’ entire life to come. He surely could not comprehend these emotions and senses as a newborn and as a toddler, but they undoubtedly left an impression on this child. They undoubtedly shaped his understanding of the human experience. Almost three decades go by before we see him. We know little of the impressions and experiences of Jesus between those early years and his arrival to the baptismal water, but we do know that, even as an adolescent, there was a sense of intrigue and wonder, a desire to know God the Father, to understand the human experience, and a fire to know truth.

The gospel of “Matthew is the story of ‘God with us.’ In it, Matthew gives us all that we need to know to be drawn into the Kingdom of God. The gospel of Matthew trains us to look for what is foundationally important for our salvation walk.” (Matthew, Hauerwas, p 43)

(End Screen Share)

As Jesus leaves the baptismal waters he receives words of affirmation from God the Father, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. The wilderness plays a pivotal role in the life of the Isrealites, it was in the wilderness that Jesus established his own line in the sand while fulfilling the prophecies – the words that would set the foundation for his own life and ministry.

The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for a time of testing, a time of extreme temptation. A deep temptation, one that went to the core of humanity’s failure in the wilderness. But, first, Jesus paused, for forty days he set himself apart, in a setting of isolation, a state where Jesus could find his strength, his source, his hope.

This is where we begin to see actions and words of God the Father take on a distinct difference in comparison with the actions and words of God in the flesh – Jesus. The Father had just led Jesus through the baptismal waters and affirmed him with the Holy Words, ‘This is my son in whom I am well pleased.’ Now, we witness the Father instructing God the Spirit to lead Jesus into the wilderness where the tempter will connect him even further to humanity. The Father was acting according to the plan, it was a plan made by the triune God, but it was also a journey that could now only be traveled by the Son, God in the flesh. 

(Second Slide – Petersen Quote, leave up through Slide 4)

Eugene Petersen says, ‘If there is any connection between baptism and ministry, there must be temptation.” (Eugene Petersen, A Month Of Sundays)

God had given Jesus the choice about this journey, a choice Jesus had faced his entire life, we see him at the age of twelve choose to engage with the priests in the temple. Jesus had said yes to God’s decision to go through water, now Jesus was given the choice to go into and through the wilderness. We often forget that Jesus face this choice all the way through to the cross, he faced the same struggle of choice we all have to follow or to not follow God. He was now human, that was part of what it meant to be created in flesh. He faced the same joy and he endured the same grief, he faced the same tests that all of humanity journeys through. The choice, and the how, was now in Jesus’ hands. 

While this plan for God to become flesh had been the divine plan devised probably before disobedience even entered the garden, however this was the first time humanity played a role in God’s plan of deliverance. This was a holy untested plan which now was to be carried out by a human – Jesus.

(Slide 3)

It was here in this pivotal wilderness proving ground, where humanity has already once failed to fully trust and follow God, that we relearn a truth about God – God’s love risks our disobedience.

So, the Spirit led Jesus, but it was now the Son’s decision to not only follow, but to choose HOW he would follow. 

(Slide 4)

‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, Jesus became hungry.  And then the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:1-3, NASB)

(End Screen Share)

God sends Jesus into the wilderness, Jesus knew the significance of the wilderness, and here Jesus stood at the edge of the wilderness. The wilderness, for the Israelites, was a historical time and place of testing. It was where, for forty years, their ancestors journeyed while being prepared to enter the promised land. It was where they yearned for food and God gave them bread, it was where they tired of the bread and God gave them quail. It was where they were given the Law, it was where they were provided water, it was where they learned to live with each other and with God. It was in the desert that the Isrealites were confronted by God, it was there that they realized that they had limitations, it was there that their own humanness taught them that they were unable to fully obey and follow God, and in that failure they learned that their God was the God of mercy and compassion, a God of sustenance and provision, it was there that they began to recognize their need for God’s deliverance. 

It was in the wilderness that Jesus would defeat the tempter, it was there that the victory would be secured, it was there that God in the flesh would do what all flesh had been unable to do. And, it is there, in the wilderness, that Jesus teaches us a lesson in being prepared.

As the Spirit leads, Jesus, who now has the experience of humanity well ingrained in him, three decades in the flesh taught Jesus that there are times even the Son of God needed help. So, he does what he has learned to do when he has previously faced trails and temptation – he withdraws, he pauses. His primary method was to fast and contemplate the truth that he had learned. He would go without food to remind him that not only does man not live by bread alone, but that food itself has been the downfall of mankind since the garden. It is in this seclusion of choice that Jesus meditates and contemplates the extend of his abilities and will power, and reminds himself of the endless warehouse of strength and perseverance available through God. It is in this pause that Jesus arrives at a point of clarity that this journey is not to be traveled alone.

And, then, Jesus realized that he was hungry. Cue Satan, the only tool in his toolbox is temptation where he takes the good that God has given and twists it around making it harmful and destructive. Satan, who runs on rage, witnesses hunger and desire, and just like in the garden, he approaches Jesus for the most basic of temptation.

Back in the garden Satan had experienced his first victory, he began with Eve and then continued with Adam. Now, in this wilderness Satan expects to secure the ultimate victory, but, as we know, it is in this wilderness that Satan will suffer an unredeemable defeat.

(Slide 5 through slide 6)

Henri Nowen defines the three temptations as the 

  • The Temptation to be Relevant
  • The Temptation to be Spectacular
  • The Temptation to be Powerful. 

(Henri Nouwen, In The Name Of Jesus)

These temptations take the route to a much deeper response level that exposes the same weakness of all humanity and all religious institutions. All temptations held an element that would have allowed Jesus to reach his earthly goal, all would give him a credibility among the vast span of humanity, but none of them would accomplish his mission, his calling. All three would require him to cross a line in the sand that, for him, had been drawn years before.

(Slide 6)

With each defiant response of Jesus to the temptations of Satan, Jesus is declaring his faithfulness to God over his faithfulness to himself. He holds to the truth that it is not his own will that dictates his actions, but it is the will of God. 

(End Screen Share)

In his book The Grand Inquisitor, author Dostoevsky writes of a fictional account of a one sided conversation between a religious leader, a Cardinal, and the imprisoned Jesus. In the conversation, the Cardinal admonishes Jesus for how he navigated the temptation experience and how, if he had just said yes to Satan, the world would be in a better place. If he had said yes to being relevant, providing the food that he himself needed, hunger would no longer be an issue; if he had just said yes to being spectacular, the world would now know that God truly exists; and, if Jesus had just showed God’s power, humanity would now have someone they could bow down to and confidently trust. Jesus, as the Cardinal finishes his critique, remains silent and finally stands approaching the Cardinal to give him a kiss. The Cardinal was right, if Jesus had been obedient to Satan, things possibly would have been better here on earth, but Jesus was on a mission that was not just about this earth, but it was also about eternity. Jesus was showing the world how to live by trusting in the true God, and in doing so he had to walk through the cross before he could walk out of his own grave.

One other thing about the temptations, Satan begins with the word, ‘If’. If you are the son of God, a small word that is used against Jesus again at the cross. This IF is a an attempt to goat Jesus into responding in a manner that would meet the demands of man rather than the will of God. It was a taunt to ‘Prove Youself’ a challenge that Jesus left unanswered.  Jesus did not need to prove himself, nor was it his calling to prove God. Jesus put on the flesh and came to humanity to be the proof of God and to do the work of God. God’s existence was not the concern for God or Jesus.

One other notable aspect of the story of the temptation. As Jesus left the wilderness, he did not go to the centers of power, he did not proceed immediately to the institution of religion, he went to the people he came to save. It was a very particular geographic area – the land of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Two tribes who were given the land as their allotment of the promised land. However, when the Isrealites were exiled from their promised land for over seven decades, the gentiles moved into the land and made it their homes. After the return of the Israelites from slavery, many moved back to their ancestral homes but the gentiles also remained on the land. This land, centuries before, was part of the prophecies of the prophet Isaiah who said Jesus would go to, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, the Galilee of the Gentiles — The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.” Jesus, from the start, is going to the land of Gentiles and Isrealietes, Jesus came for all of humanity. Jesus came for us, Jesus came for you.

Jesus returned to the margins. 

Let us pray.

Music 

Wherever He Leads I’ll Go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Take up thy cross and follow Me

I heard my Master say

I gave My life to ransom thee

Surrender your all today

He drew me closer to His side

I sought His will to know

And in that will I now abide

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so

Wherever He leads I’ll go

My heart my life my all I bring

To Christ who loves me so

He is my Master Lord and King

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go

I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so

Wherever He leads I’ll go

Community

  • Next Sunday, Matthew 5:1-20, Radical Words
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, February 22-April 5, Lenten Season

Closing Peace

Leader: May the Peace of the Lord go with you. 

Response: And also with you.

Benediction

Go in the peace of the Lord, and in doing so may you keep your face to God. Turn from your agendas, your guardedness, your selfishness, your arrogance, and from your control. Settle instead into the embrace of Jesus, our great shepherd. Receive the freedom, the hope, the joy, the love, and of course the peace that can only come from Christ. For our burden is heavy but his yoke is light. Go in the peace of the Lord.

Order, Words, & Voices 01.08.23

Order, Words, & Voices
01.08.23 Matthew 3:1-17
Through Water

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave 

Opening Songs:                                 Lynn            
All Creatures of our God and King
Blessed Be Your Name 

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer                Rick

Reading        Matthew 3:1-17                    Petty

Songs      – Spirit Medley                             Lynn
Sweet Sweet Spirit
Spirit of the Living God
Breathe on Me Breathe of God

Message        Through Water                    Rick

Music         That’s why we praise Him            Lynn

Community/Closing Peace                         Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Music (slides)

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Alleluia alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
 ChorusO praise Him O praise Him
Alleluia alleluia alleluia
 Verse 2Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along
O praise Him alleluia
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
 Verse 3Thou flowing water pure and clear
Make music for thy Lord to hear
Alleluia alleluia
Thou fire so masterful and bright
Thou givest man both warmth and light
 Verse 5Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him alleluia
Praise praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit Three in One
 Verse 1Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Verse 2Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name
 Pre-ChorusEv’ry blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
 ChorusBlessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
 Verse 3Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name
 Verse 4Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
 BridgeYou give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name
Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: The prophet Isaiah proclaims – A voice cries out in the wilderness saying, prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Response: We lift up our voice and proclaim, ‘Here is our God.’

Leader: Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Response: The Lord God comes with might, he will rule with his strength.

LeaderThen the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Response: We lift up our lives and proclaim, Here is our God.’

Leader: He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms.
Response: He will carry them in his embrace and gently lead the mother sheep.

Leader: The prophet John proclaims, – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Response: Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!

(Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.)
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 forgive those who trespass against us.
And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For John is the one the prophet Isaiah referred to when he said, “The voice of one calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; his food consisted of locusts and wild honey. The citizens of Jerusalem, as well as all who were in Judea and all the region around the Jordan river were going out to John. They were being baptized by John in the river, as they repented of their sins.

When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Produce fruit consistent with repentance; do not assume that you can just say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you that God is able, from these stones, to raise up children for Abraham.” 

John continued, “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize with water for repentance, but one is coming after me is mightier than I, in fact, I am not fit to remove His sandals; 

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. With his winnowing fork He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; gathering His wheat into the barn, but burning up the chaff with an unquenchable fire.”
 Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent Jesus, saying, “I have the need to be baptized by You, and yet You are coming to me?” But Jesus, answering, said to John, “Allow it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then baptized Jesus. 

After the baptism, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and the heavens were opened, and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him, as a voice from the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:1-17
Music (Slides)

There’s a sweet sweet Spirit in this place
And I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord
There are sweet expressions on each face
And I know they feel the presence of the Lord
 ChorusSweet Holy Spirit
Sweet heavenly Dove
Stay right here with us
Filling us with Your love

And for these blessings
We lift our hearts in praise
Without a doubt we’ll know
That we have been revived
When we shall leave this place

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

Breathe on me breath of God
Love and life that makes me free
Breathe on me breath of God
Fan the flame within me
 ChorusTeach my heart heal my soul
Speak the mind that in Christ we know
Take me to Your sanctuary
(Breathe on me)
 Verse 2Speak to me voice of God
Soft and still inside my heart
Speak to me Word of God
Comfort heal restore with love

Message – Matthew 3:1-17 Through Water

Theologian, Stanley Hauerwas, says that “Matthew is the story of ‘God with us.’ In it, Matthew gives us all that we need to know to be drawn into the Kingdom of God. The gospel of Matthew trains us to look for what is foundationally important for our salvation walk.”
(Matthew, Hauerwas, p 43)

This first book of the new testament uniquely begins with a genealogy tying Jesus to Abraham, and the fulfillment of the prophecies. After the genealogy we are given a sentence introducing Mary and her predicament, followed by a couple of sentences introducing Mary’s fiance Joseph, and then the birth of Jesus. Then, while Jesus is still a child, the non-Jewish Magi appear, leading to the escape to Egypt by Jesus and his parents, the first appearance of the antagonist, an evil King named Herod who orders the tragic slaughter of  an entire population of male children in Bethlehem. 

Matthew gives us a mere two chapters, a total of 48 verses, before moving us on to the adult Jesus which, out of necessity, begins with John. In the character of John, we do not arrive at a new story, we are at the same story that we last saw in the old testament with the prophets, only this part of the story wraps up the story that took place prior to this point, bringing the story fulfillment and hope, as we see the face, and hear the voice, of the prophetic words. 

This is the same John who we first met when he was still in his mother’s womb. We now find that he has taken on the lifestyle of the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden. He wears the clothes of the downtrodden, lives the life of isolation of the oppressed, and adheres to a diet of the poor – nuts and fruits. 

We, as Christians, often see the Bible as two different stories. One is the Old Testament with its stories of creation and the years that follow, detailing sins of humanity and the mercy and compassion of God, the history of God’s chosen as they become a people, the continued devastation brought on my man’s rejection of God, the wisdom gifted to humans along with the preparatory warnings of the prophet. A story that abruptly ends with the no longer heard voice of God.

We then have the New Testament, where we learn of the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and Sarah, the birth of the Savior. We watch Jesus’ actions and hear Jesus’ words, we see a new diverse people who step onto the path first inhabited by Jesus, and we hear of things to come. 

Still, in our minds we have two different stories joined together by centuries of God’s silence and absence. We also are probably guilty of placing one story over another. Thinking that one story, our story, eliminates the need for that story, ‘their story’.

This is why Matthew begins with John. John takes this old testament story, that in its final days concentrated on the repeated warnings of the prophets, and ties both stories together, John proves that neither story can stand alone, John merely continues on with the story of old, a story which Jesus himself will also continue.  John, the one uniquely gifted with the ability to recognize the long awaited Messiah.

When, as we say, God went silent, the prophets were no longer visible, God’s message was no longer proclaimed, the human curse of time consumed humanity. Humanity counted the hours, the days, weeks and years of God’s silence and finally decided God had left, God had tired of them. In response, mankind went into survival mode, going through actions, doing deeds, all things derived from the practices of the past. Actions, that by the birth of Jesus had become largely heartless and much like the situation that Isaiah spoke to, the people’s performance of these actions was senseless. In their minds, God was gone, they were on their own, it seemed their faith and their identity was just a series of meaningless actions.  

But, God was not gone, they were not on their own – remember God’s time is not our time, God’s time is the right time. And then, after Malachi and the other prophets, after the extended silence of God, God sent the next prophet, the prophet John.

John came with a look that was not that different from the prophets before him, and he also came with a message that was exactly the same as those before him. A message of ‘return to God’, a message of repentance.  Quickly, the people were leaving their homes and their cities to meet John at the Jordan River.

On 25 June 1950 the armed forces of the communist People’s Democratic Republic of Korea successfully invaded the non-communist Republic of South Korea. General Douglas MacArthur determined to carry out an amphibious landing behind the North Korean lines to disrupt the enemy’s logistic support. To achieve this, an army unit called the Seabees were called upon to play a pivotal role. The Seabees were a non-combat military unit that consisted largely of civil and mechanical engineers who were tasked with building whatever needed to be built to make it possible for the combatants to get to the battle zones. This was especially necessary in the inhospitable areas of Korea where amphibious landings were essential. The Seabees set out to make two beach areas, neither of which were really ‘beaches’ able to receive the toops.  For example, one beach was truly just a seawall that held back a tide that could be as much as 30 feet high. A beach landing would require a timing at high tide to enable troops and their ships to get over the hazardous seawall, and then, after conquering the wall, they would face huge mud flats left in the wake of the outgoing tides – a seemingly impossible feat for humans and machines. Impossible to any other squad of the military except for the Seabees who came ashore with the Marines and quickly assembled long pontoons causeways so that unloading of equipment, supplies, and reinforcements could proceed across the huge mud flats left in the wake of the outgoing tide. They emplaced a dock section for tide-level landings and General MacArthur himself came ashore across it the following day. The high tides, the seawalls, and enemy resistance made the landing a very hazardous operation, nevertheless, it was a brilliant success. U.S. forces cut the North Korean supply lines and the communist offensive collapsed.’ (Naval History and Heritage Command, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

The Seabees prepared the way for the soldiers to complete their mission, they prepared the way.

This was the role of the prophets, this was the role of John – to prepare the way just as the Seabees did in war. Repentance, a return to God, was essential before the life and verbal message of Jesus could be heard, seen, and accepted. John brought the people to repentance, John brought the people back to the God they thought had been absent for generations in order that they would be able to then recognize the Messiah, Jesus, whose role was to do that which they could not do, to bring them life in the midst of death. This was not a baptism of forgiveness, John did not have that power, but he was perfect for bringing them to the point of recognizing their own obstacles.

This repentance is not an emotional moment in a late night revival, or for a teen at an exciting youth camp experience, or even at a moment of rescue from imminent danger  – those are actions that are more of a momentary reaction to an external stimulus and not a heart and mind choice to turn to God. Nor is this a repentance which results in perfection as one is raised from the waters. The throngs of people going out to John were on a purposeful and sought after path, they had time to think this through on their way out to John at the river.  

True and effective repentance is an intentional answer to God’s call to return to God, all the while knowing that such a turn will gradually change your heart and mind, and ultimately will give you insight and clarity. God’s primary calling is not to make us be better people so God can work –  God’s calling is to make us better people so we can recognize the work of God that is already going on. Repentance, then, permits us to see that work which, to us, has been unseeable up to this point. Repentance is not a call to change the world – the world is already being changed, and will ultimately be changed, by the one that John knew was coming after him – Jesus.

Repentance is a decision, most of the time it is a continual decision to turn to God, to turn to what we cannot see, to step onto the path that God has made that we cannot make ourselves. This was the message John was proclaiming, this is the repentance for which John was baptizing, not forgiveness, but a step into the life that God intends each of us to have, a life not burdened by those things that destroy life,  but a life that gives life. A straight path that is ready for you to move forward. 

“The voice of one calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’” (Matthew 3:3)

As originally said by the prophet Isaiah, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the uneven ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together (Isaiah 40:3-5)

So, Jesus goes through the water, sinless perfect, God in the flesh, leans into this act of repentance – immersing himself in the waters of confession.  For Jesus, this was not an act of necessity, he did not need to return to God’s path for he had never left God’s path. He did not need to confess, for he had nothing to confess. However, this was God in the flesh, living as human in the midst of humans – not walking in isolation but rather in the midst, walking with. In the midst of pain, grief, temptation, rejection, disappointment, joy, happiness, exaltation, all things that are part of the human experience. Going through the waters was Jesus’ first steps with and for us. It was the first step for the human who would again be God, a turn of repentance which would soon be the avenue of forgiveness. 

There was one group, however, to whom John disavowed the opportunity to walk through the baptismal waters. One group of  people to whom the invitation to be baptized was withdrawn, the religious leadership elite and powerful Sadducees and Pharisee. It wasn’t that John did not think they were capable of repentance or for the act of turning back to God. Their individual attempts to move toward the waters may have been genuine – but as a group, as an institution, they were incapable of true repentance. John knew he had already burned the bridge with this group, for John knew that true repentance leads us to change, that a genuine act of turning back to God comes with a path that runs parallel to God’s path of compassion, mercy, and grace. John knew that this was an impossible path for this group, as a group, to step onto. John knew that a baptism for those who had their limitations already set would make the baptismal waters just another swimming spot. Baptism would be a waste of time for baptism is an act of turning to a new path, new ways of thinking and seeing, new ways of perceiving, new ways of accepting and affirming, new ways of trusting and of searching, new ways of living. 

[ill of tragedies that lead to emotional promises of change which seldom happen]

Let us pray.
Music 

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
 ChorusThat’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

Verse 2He 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
 InterludeYeah yeah He gave His ev’rything
 BridgeHalle hallelujah
Halle hallelujah
(REPEAT)
 Ending’Cause He gave His ev’rything

Community

  • Next Sunday, Matthew 4:1-17, Through the Wilderness
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, February 22-April 5, Lenten Season
  • Bonnie Scoggins – meals

Closing Peace
Leader: May the Peace of the Lord go with you. 
Response: And also with you.

Benediction
Go in the peace of the Lord, and in doing so may you keep your face to God. Turn from your agendas, your guardedness, your selfishness, your arrogance, and from your control. Settle instead into the embrace of Jesus, our great shepherd. Receive the freedom, the hope, the joy, the love, and of course the peace that can only come from Christ. For our burden is heavy but his is light. Go in the peace of the Lord.

Order, Words, & Voices 12.18.22

12.18.22  Luke 2:1-20

 Advent 4- (Un)Expected Arrival

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Christian

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 

O Come O Come Emmanuel 

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Rick

Reading Luke 2:1-20 Online-Randy

Song & Lighting of 3rd Advent Candle Music – Christian

Hark The Herald Angels Sing Candle- Leightons

Message (UN)Expected Arrival Rick

Music What Child Is This Christian

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through Lord’s Prayer)

Music (slides)

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 

Come Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

Born thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now thy gracious kingdom bring

By thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to thy glorious throne

You’re the Joy! You’re the Hope! 

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

O Come O Come Emmanuel 

O come O come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

O come Thou Dayspring 

come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows 

put to flight

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

O come Desire of nations bind

All peoples in one heart and mind

Bid envy strife and quarrels cease

Fill the whole world with 

heaven’s peace

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: The prophet Isaiah went to Bethlehem to anoint the King to replace King Saul whom God had rejected

Response: Mary & Joseph, went to Bethlehem to obey the edict of a false savior.

Leader: Power turned King Saul’s humility into paranoia, allies soon were seen as foes.

Response: Caesar’s brutality demanded fearful people to proclaim himself as  Savior.

Leader: While Saul was rich and powerful, David was neither neither, instead, he was seldom noticed, and never considered.

Response: Caesar was rich and powerful, Mary and Joseph were lowly and insignificant.

Leader: Saul lived in a palace, the shepherd David lived in the fields watching over the sheep.

Response: Mary and Joseph now lived in a manger, a cave, smelling of cattle and sheep.

Leader: Samuel looked at all the sons of Jesse, none were the chosen one of God, until he saw the lowly shepherd David.

Response: Despised outcast shepherds were first to hear of the birth of Jesus.

Leader: God said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint David for he is the chosen King.” A smelly outcast shepherd anointed King.

Response: The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. For Behold, I bring you great news.”

Leader: Two Kings, both rose out of insignificance, both came from the insignificant city of Bethlehem.

Response: Eternally significant saviors for all humanity.

(Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.)

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (No Slides)

A decree went out from Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken. This was while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All the people went to their hometowns to register for the census. 

Joseph went from Galilee to Bethlehem, for he was an ancestor of David, to register along with Mary, who was pregnant. 

In Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Some shepherds were spending the night out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks. An angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around the angel; the shepherds were frightened. 

The angels said, “Do not be afraid; I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; today in the city of David Savior, Christ the Lord has been born for you.”

“You will find the baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.” Suddenly a multitude of angels appeared praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, On earth peace among people with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had departed, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the angels told us has happened.” They went in a hurry and found Mary and Joseph, with the baby lying in the manger. 

The shepherds told Mary and Joseph what had been told to them. Everyone who heard was amazed by the things the shepherds said. 

Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all that they had experienced.

Luke 2:1-20

Music (Slides)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With th’angelic hosts proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Christ by highest heav’n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of the Virgin’s womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

Hail th’incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus our Emmanuel

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace

Hail the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Message – (Un)Expected – Arrival (Love)

This past week, I was blessed with a group bible study that was like none other. Our Wednesday bible study, which consisted of a group aged in our sixties to nineties, had what I believe was a true Holy Spirit moment. I don’t think any of us realized it at the time but the Spirit was moving as our minds were working. It was a moment of full participation, full listening and contributing, fully open minds to truth, as we dove into some words which are usually used with little thought, but the further we considered, the deeper we got.Those words were Hope, Faith, and Joy, which led us to the book of Hebrews and soon other words were added to our deep dive – words like conviction, assurance, certainty, proof, approval, commendation love, and probably others that I have forgotten.

The significance of that moment really did not hit me until I got home and looked at my freshly raked back yard and said to myself, “I love my backyard.’ At that moment all of those previous words began to once again fill my brain, and I asked myself, “What the heck do I mean when I say ‘I love my backyard?’”

[Screen share through Slide #17]

[Slide #1] Hope, Peace, Joy, and our advent candle today, which is Love. Not only do all of this tie in together, but they also are part of the great ball of twine combined with those other words, conviction, assurance, certainty, proof, approval, commendation, reality, and Faith. And, they are all part of our great expectation that is Advent. 

[Slide #2] Before we begin with Love, I have to first, take us back to our first and third Advent words for some additional thoughts, the words Hope and Joy, starting with Hope.

[Slide #3] A friend from seminary days, has been in treatment over this past year for lung cancer. This past week Charlene was declared free of any evidence left in her body. Because the specialists know that just because they do not see it means that it isn’t there, they are starting her on a new chemo drug that is showing promise among non-smokers who now have lung cancer. She still had been through this with another cancer issue years before and understood she was probably not finished with this cancer. As she left the doctor’s office she saw this sign reminding her of the hope she still held to even when reality gives her a different, non hopeful, message.

[Slide #4] Secondly, is our word from last week – Joy.  I learned a new word this week, Gaudete, a word that means ‘Joy in the darkness, hope in despair.’ This was what the original week 3 advent emphasis before it was decided that Advent needed to sound happier thus the singular ‘Joy’ replacing Gaudete.

[Slide #5] Feeling all of our grief, but giving ourselves permission to feel joy when it comes to us in the midst of the grief. Joy doesn’t denigrate our grief, it helps give it meaning. 

[Slide #6] Even in the darkest nights, the light still shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. To the degree we allow ourselves to grieve deeply is the same degree to which we can feel joy deeply. 

[Slide # 7] When we muzzle our grief, we also muzzle our joy. That’s why the two go together so often. Joy is an act of resistance in the darkest of situations. 

[Slide #8] Even just a brief moment of joy gives us the power to keep going when things are toughest. It reminds us why we press on. 

  • Rev. Jakob Topper

[Slide #9] Now let’s get to our fourth candle which represents the word Love.

Theologians Huey and the News teach us that when you first feel love it will make you sad, but, when you next feel love it might just make you glad.

[Slide #10] I Corinthians 13 explains love a bit further by detailing the look of Love – ‘Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered,’

[Slide # 11] ‘Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’

[Slide #12] and about love it says, ‘Of faith, hope, and love – Love is the greatest.’

[Slide #13] In 1 John we find the source of love, ‘Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God.’

[Slide #14] As well as the definition of love, ‘God is love.’

[Slide #15]  And, the revelation of Love, ‘the love of God was revealed among us – God sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through the Son. This action of  love had nothing to do with us loving or not loving God, It was totally about the fact that God loved us and sent the Son to be the propitiation, the atonement, for our sins.’

So, ‘What is love? Is it merely affection and emotion, is it just responsibility and work. The full and true definition of love is revealed to us through God’s Christmas sacrifice’

[Slide #16] God’s sacrifice of Jesus was not really at the cross. God’s sacrifice took place when God placed Jesus in Mary’s womb who then gave birth in the stable. It was in that moment that God gave the Son. The nativity scene is actually the evidence of God’s sacrifice, not the cross. It was humans that sent the willing Jesus to the cross – God sacrificed Jesus over three decades earlier.  It was not just the Jews and Romans who enacted this sacrifice, it was the actions of all mankind, including each of us. Jesus was the perfect and holy lamb, the only sacrifice that was sufficient offering for our rejection of God, for our sin.

[End Screen Share]

The nativity story details God’s act of love which was totally and brutally selfless. The act was sacrificial, the act of sacrifice was love.

Sacrifice. While there are some instances where sacrifice is an act of worship and praise, sacrifice is usually an act of reconciliation. An action causing great loss that will open the door to reconciliation with another or reconciliation with God. 

In the old testament there are three detailed instances of human sacrifice, or near human sacrifice, among the Isrealites. Two of those were offered by Kings Ahaz and Manassah, who both offered their own sons. Neither sacrifice was called for by God, but instead was an offering mimicking the acts they had witnessed in the foreign nations who had rejected the true God. Another was the asinine act of the judge, Jephthath, who, on his own, offered a sacrifice of his daughter. This too was an act not called for by God, instead it was an act of a verbose man of power desiring to make a grandiose proclamation his battlefield victory. Just as God had not demanded the sacrifice, God also did not condone Jepthath’s act of the sacrifice. All three of these sacrifices were done without purpose, without calling, and without need of any kind, they were not selfless. 

There is only one biblical example of human sacrifice that is called for by God, it is an act of obedience.  Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham’s willingness was an act of total selfless release, of brutal sacrifice. God made the command to test Abraham, a test to affirm to Abraham that he was the correct person to father the nation which would be the avenue of God’s sacrifice for all nations. A sacrifice that was not really about the sacrifice but about the heart of God’s chosen vessel – Abraham. God released Abraham of his obligation once Abraham’s heart and mind was revealed to God. 

Abraham, being a flawed human himself, was not the spotless lamb, nor was his son Isaac, and therefore neither was not worthy to make the salvific sacrifice that God would make releasing the Son to humanity.

As with all of us, Jesus began the journey to dying the moment he was born. It is natural, the exposure to an outside world, the choices we make, our diets, our risks, our mental traumas, everything about our earthly existence lends itself to being a contributor to the aging process. Scientists say that our bodies can begin the breakdown process as early as our twenties. 

For God, who is timeless, giving the Son was a sacrificial acceptance of death. While, at the same time, being all knowing, God was fully aware of the brutality of Jesus’ life and death to come.

For Jesus, the dying process began early and only accelerated as he accepted his purpose, walking through the baptismal waters on his way to the cross. The weight of an unholy world on this truly holy person was gradual at first, the struggle against sin, the misery of the oppressed, the pain of the sick and the poor, the burden of the downtrodden and the dismissed. All of this stuck to him like leeches sucking the very life blood out of him. Then, the closer he came to the cross, the more the weight bore down on Jesus. Experiencing the personal intensity of human emotion, listening to the trauma of Marth, kneeling down to cry with Mary, smelling the stench of human death on his dear friend Lazarus. And then there was rejection from his own who chose to accept half truths and conspiracies rather than to truly seek truth, which was followed by  the cross, where Jesus hung not just bearing the weight of his own human experience, but now also crushed under the weight of the sin of all humanity which he now bore. 

This had all been on the mind, and heavy on the heart of God as he sacrificed the son handing the infant Jesus over to humanity decades earlier.

So, while all humanity, including each of us, walked actively on the chosen path of rejection of God – God sacrificed the Son for us anyway. That is Love. And, furthermore, it is the act of love, the sacrifice, that could only be offered by God, and only the Son, God, was worthy to be that sacrifice. Just as humanity were the only ones who could conduct the sacrifice offered by God on their, on our, own behalf. A sacrifice that, on earth, began with a young teenage girl giving birth in a stable.

In this Christmas season, and on this Advent day of Love, let us realize that God’s salvific sacrifice that was revealed in the manger. When the God that is love performed the ultimate act of Love. A gift of grace, an undeserved Christmas package offered to us, by the only one who could give this gift. A God that chose to love us into, and through, Salvation rather than force us into obedience.

Love. Let us pray.

Music 

What Child Is This 

What Child is this who laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping

This this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste haste to bring Him laud

The Babe the Son of Mary

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and lamb are feeding

Good Christian fear for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading

Nails spear shall pierce Him through

The cross be borne for me for you

Hail hail the Word made flesh

The Babe the Son of Mary

So bring Him incense gold and myrrh

Come peasant king to own Him

The King of kings salvation brings

Let loving hearts enthrone Him

Raise raise the song on high

The Virgin sings her lullaby

Joy joy for Christ is born

The Babe the Son of Mary

Community

  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day
  • Sunday, January 8, Matthew 3:1-17, ‘Through Water’ (the start of an 18 week journey through the gospel of Matthew taking us up through the ascension of Christ) 

Closing Peace

May the Hope and the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

May Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love be at the forefront of our thoughts this season. May we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen daily mighty acts of God. May we joyfully come before God anchored on hope, peace, joy, and love. May we see the unseen, may we seek the strength to do more than to just persevere. May we be satisfied only when we know God more today than yesterday and less today than tomorrow. May we look to experience God’s mercy, compassion, and grace, as acted out towards others through each of us. Go in Hope and Peace.

Order, Words, & Voices 12.11.22

Order, Words, & Voices

12.11.22  Is 42:5-14 & Luke 1:57-63

 Advent 3- (Un)expected Ways

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Magnificat Video (short video/no introduction) Video

Opening Songs: Lynn

Angels We Have Heard on High

O Worship The King

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Rick

Reading Luke 1:57-69, 76-79 Rick

Song & Lighting of 3rd Advent Candle Music – Lynn

O Come All Ye Unfaithful Candle – Pettys

Message (UN)Expected Ways Rick

Music Blessed Be the Name of the Lord Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through passage Reading)

Music (slides)

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing o’er the plains

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their joyous strains

Chorus

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Verse 2

Shepherds why this jubilee

Why your joyous strains prolong

What the gladsome tidings be

Which inspire your heavenly song

Verse 3

Come to Bethlehem and see

Christ whose birth the angels sing

Come adore on bended knee

Christ the Lord the newborn King

O worship the King all glorious above

And gratefully sing His power and His love

Our Shield and Defender the Ancient of Days

Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise

Verse 2

O tell of His might O sing of His grace

Whose robe is the light whose canopy space

His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form

And dark is His path on the wings of the storm

Verse 4

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite

It breathes in the air it shines in the light

It streams from the hills it descends to the plain

And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Our Responsive Call to Worship today comes from Isaiah 42. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it

Response:  God gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it

Leader: Thus says God, I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations

Response: God said, this is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased

Leader: Thus says God, I send him to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness

Response: God says, I am the Lord; that is my name.

Leader: Thus says God, The former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare 

Response: Before they spring forth, I tell you of them, says the Lord

Leader: Sing to the Lord a new song, sing his praise from the end of the earth

Let the sea roar and all that fills it

Response: Let the desert and towns lift their voice, let the inhabitants of shout for joy from the tops of the mountains

Leader: May we give glory to the Lord and declare his praise

Response: May God show himself mighty against his foes.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name. Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 

He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 

All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 

Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

 

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”

You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 

to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 

because of the tender mercy of our God, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:57-69, 76-79

Music (Slides)

O come all you unfaithful

Come weak and unstable

Come know you are not alone

Verse 2

O come barren and waiting ones

Weary of praying

Come see what your God has done

Chorus

Christ is born Christ is born

Christ is born for you

Verse 3

O come bitter and broken

Come with fears unspoken

Come taste of His perfect love

Verse 4

O come guilty and hiding ones

There is no need to run

See what your God has done

Bridge

He’s the Lamb who was given slain for our pardon

His promise is peace for those who believe

He’s the Lamb who was given slain for our pardon

His promise is peace for those who believe

Verse 5

So come though you have nothing

Come He is the offering

Come see what your God has done

Message – (Un)Expected – Joy/Gratitude

The Old and New Testament both contain similar elements . Both begin with God, the God who, up to this point from a human viewpoint, had been silent. From a Gospel of Luke perspective, both begin with a man, one named  Adam and the other named Zechariah. One is the first human created, a man formed out of the extraordinary yet ordinary dirt and dust of the newly created earth, and the other, an ordinary man, working as officially, an ordinary priest. Both men also have an auspicious personal start as Adam is first heard in a moment of praise and then, soon after, hiding himself and his sin from God, and the other male, Zechariah, responds to God’s words with his own words of disbelief, doubt, and challenge. Finally, in both stories, both men are silent before God. 

It is that point in Zechariah’s story that we focus today. The ordinary Zachariah was at his ordinary job in the temple, on what was expected to be an ordinary day, his office was  just outside of the Holy of Holies, a room in which an ordinary guy such as Zachariah would never be able to enter, which was a job for only the High Priest. So at this moment, Zechariah, performed his ordinary job, maintaining the burning incense on the two feet tall altar, lighting it at dawn and dusk, and keeping the flame at all the moments in between. 

The people who came to the temple to pray and make sacrifices, would stand outside of the restricted area where Zechariah kept the incense flame going. The delightful aroma, which was pleasing to God, would go before the sacrifices and prayers of the ordinary people. The people would wait until the smell reached God’s nostrils and they would then know that God had heard them. It is important to know and understand that only a heavy curtain separated Zechariah from God’s supposed  presence.  As the pleasing smells wafted away from Zechariah, Zechariah stood as close to God as allowable. 

Catch the significance of this moment, the symbolism of this moment. Zechariah, on an ordinary day, bent over to stir the incense while standing just outside the Holy of Holies, the presence of God. Remember though, that this was the second temple, there was no Ark, and remember that, in many ways, by this time the Temple itself had been corrupted, except for the earthly righteous such as Zechariah. In doing Zechariah’s ordinary priestly duties, he was working on behalf of the people waiting outside, the persons’ whose prayers and sacrifices were the reason Zechariah lit the incense. All the while, Zechariah’s own prayer, the long forgotten prayer he and wife Elizabeth had offered up to God years before when they were younger, turns out to be the prayer that God is now acting upon. And, get this, the separation that kept Zechariah, or any persons, from entering the Holy of Holies would be removed in just a little more than three decades – but for now, Zechariah was restricted from approaching God.

Significant points to understand…

[Slide #1 – leave up screen share through slide #10]

  • When Zechariah could not come before God, God came to Zechariah
  • [Slide #2] When Zechariah had forgotten his prayer, his hope, God still remembered the prayer
  • [Slide #3] Even though Zechariah, as well as the people waiting outside, lived in a continual oppressive fear, they were all just steps away from peace
  • [Slide #4] As all of the Isrealites endured a day to day survival, God was wrapping up the gift of joy for Zechariah, Elizabeth, and all the people
  • [Slide #5] All of this was going on while Zechariah continued to serve God and to serve others, which was his ordinary daily task.

[Slide #6] And, God spoke through the voice of an angel.

[Slide #7] “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” 

[Slide #8] “He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. The spirit and power of the prophet Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to righteous, and, he will make the people ready for the Lord.” 

[Slide #9] Zechariah, who was not expecting any of this, said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 

[Slide #10] The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in God’s time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

[End Screen Share]

And then Zechariah was silent until the birth and subsequent naming of his son John. Each day, during which he could say nothing, Zechariah would see the evidence of God’s words as his wife’s pregnancy became more and more obvious. He could see the growth of his son taking place within her with his own eyes. And, he smelled the evidence as his pregnant wife as she vomited out the things that were harmful to the baby within her body. During this time, his doubts and surprise turned to expectation and obedience. God had to silence Zechariah for a season in order to permit him to experience this moment of God’s entrance into humanity.

  • [Slide #11 -Screen Share through Slide #18] Let’s take a moment to soak up the reality of Christmas and all that led up to this moment with Zechariah. Over a thousand years prior, God promised a Redeemer
  • [Slide #12] Hundreds of years prior, God had sent prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah to call the people back to himself
  • [Slide #13] After the people rejected the message of the prophets, God sent the Nebuchadnezzar and his armies to conquer the Isrealites and exile them into slavery
  • [Slide #14] During the exile, God sent the Spirit to work in the hearts of the people in the midst of their misery. Wooing them back to himself. The people become a people and the people return to God.
  • [Slide #15] The Isrealites return to God and Jerusalem. They rebuild their lives, the temple, and their relationship with God.
  • [Slide #16- partial] As the exterior of things began to look like what the Isrealites remembered. they go backward to the time when their religion was hollow and heartless. They complained that the Temple wasn’t as nice as before, moving a heartless King taking advantage of the opportunity, restoring the temple to the majesty the people remembered. All the while, making what was holy unholy. God’s voice goes silent for four hundred years, God’s prophets are absent.
  • [Slide #17-partial] God, supposedly in the Holy of Holies, while an ordinary priest is just steps away, doing his righteous duties. A man, who along with his wife Elizabeth, had forgotten their prayers because of the earthly element of time, however, neither has forgotten their God. Both continue to praise their God, both continue to believe in their God, both have now taken up a life of cheering on the prayers of others, all the while expecting little to nothing for themselves.
  • [Slide #18] As Zechariah could not ‘come to God’, God came to Zechariah. Just like God came looking for Adam. Zechariah was moving forward with life, Adam was hiding from the choice of his life.

[End Screen Share]

So, eventually the child was born. Elizabeth and Zechariah were finally parents. The messenger sent by God to be the voice of God preparing the Isrealites for the Deliver was now alive. Formalities called for a naming of the child. Elizabeth said “His name will be John.” Those sharing in the moment voiced their bewilderment and outrage. “He should be name after his father, this child should be named Zechariah! That is how things are done!” they said as they turned to Zechariah expecting him to correct his wife. “His name is John, like my wife said,” the still mute Zechariah wrote on a tablet. And, as the crowd read his response wondering what problems this unusual name would bring to this child, Zechairah’s voice returned and he began to praise God, while, at the same time, he began to answer their doubts and concerns. This child was given, born, and named for their, the Isrealites’, hope, peace, and joy. 

Zechariah begins his song/prayer of praise, he begins with the greek aorist, or past tense words…

“Praise to the Lord God of Israel. God has come to help his people and has given them freedom. God has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David which is what God promised through the holy prophets long ago. God will save us from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. God promised to show mercy to our fathers, and this holy agreement has been remembered. This was the promise God made to our father Abraham, a promise to free us from the power of our enemies, so that we could serve God without fear in a way that is holy and right for as long as we live.

And then the tense of the words of Zechariah transition to future tense as he speaks directly to his newborn son,

“Now you, my little boy, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.  You will go first before the Lord to prepare the way for God. You will make God’s people understand that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.With the loving mercy of our God,  a new day from heaven will shine on us. It will bring light to those who live in darkness, in the fear of death.  It will guide us into the way that brings peace. Amen.”

Zechariah praises God from a place of joy. Nothing about any of this experience was on Zechariah’s radar, it was not the way he expected God’s deliverer to be given. Zechariah knew that this was not going to alleviate his, or Elizabeth’s, problems or heartache, if anything it was going to multiply the difficulties, yet it was still joy. 

Wheaton College NT Professor, Amy Peeler, speaks of Zechariah’s joy this way, 

“(Zechariah’s) joy , the same joy of Mary, is not precisely the joy packaged to us this time of year. It is a joy that does not escape reality but embraces it, a joy that asks questions, a joy that names injustice, a joy that calls attention to the outsider, a joy that understands the price of pain and says ‘yes’ anyway. A joy that can sit in the midst of weeks of solemnity. This is the joy of Advent. “

Theologian Fredrick Buechner, speaking of Hope, says, “Happiness turns up more or less where you’d expect it to show up – a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the God who bequeaths it.”

Hope, Peace, and Joy – Advent, our time, your time, of Great Expectation.

Music 

Blessed be Your name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Verse 2

Blessed be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name

Pre-Chorus

Ev’ry blessing You pour out I’ll

Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in Lord

Still I will say

Chorus

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Verse 3

Blessed be Your name

When the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s all as it should be

Blessed be Your name

Verse 4

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Bridge

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord blessed be Your name

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected Arrival’ Luke 2:1-20
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study Concludes this Wednesday, December 7 at noon. 
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day

Closing Peace

May the Hope and the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

May Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love be at the forefront of our thoughts this season. May we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen daily mighty acts of God. May we joyfully come before God anchored on hope and peace. May we see the unseen, may we seek the strength to do more than to just persevere. May we be satisfied only when we know God more today than yesterday and less today than tomorrow. May we look to experience God’s mercy, compassion, and grace, as acted out towards others through each of us. Go in Hope and Peace.

Order, Words, & Voices 12.04.22

Order, Words, & Voices

12.04.22  Luke 4:46-55 – (Un)expected Gratitude

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Lynn

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Morrens

Reading Rick

Song & Lighting of 1st Advent Candle Music – Lynn

Holy Is His Name Candle – Andrea

Message Luke 1:46-55 Rick

Music Joy to the World Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through passage Reading)

Music (slides)

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With th’angelic hosts proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Verse 2

Christ by highest heav’n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of the Virgin’s womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

Hail th’incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus our Emmanuel

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Verse 3

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace

Hail the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

O come O come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Chorus

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Verse 2

O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Advent, is our season of great expectation when we travel back to witness the Israelites – many had forgotten God’s promise while others held onto a growing hope.

Response: May our faith be inspired by their hope.

Leader: A season immersed in the remembered and forgotten prayers. Prayers that voiced their recognition of God’s character and nature.

Response: May our prayers be of gratitude and remembrance.

Leader: Prayers are the voices of our hope. Voicing our efforts to seek to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in the daily ordinary of our lives.

Response: Prayers of our willingness to live out God’s mercy, compassion, and grace.

Leader: The season of love, peace, joy, and hope.

Response: The season of God’s love, peace, joy, and hope.

Leader: Hope, the element that permitted Mary and Elizabeth to recognize and receive God’s unexpected calling of each of them in the mundane and miseries of their daily lives.

Response: May hope focus us to seek and search for truth.

Leader: Peace, the element that accompanies Hope, the element that also requires our feet, our hands, and our lives, the element that allows us to trust and remember in all circumstances.

Response: Peace, the element that allows us to say yes to God’s calling.

Leader: Peace, our immersion into hope.

Response: Peace, the presence of our deliverer.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

After the messenger from God told Mary that she would birth the Messiah,  Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond-servant; For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is to generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things, And sent the rich away empty-handed.

He has given help to His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,

Just as He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Music (Slides)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

And my spirit exalts in God my Savior

For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness

And my name will be forever exalted

For the mighty God has done great things for me

And His mercy will reach from age to age

Chorus

And holy holy

Holy is His name

Verse 2

He has mercy in ev’ry generation

He has revealed His power and His glory

He has cast down the mighty in their arrogance

And has lifted up the meek and the lowly

He has come to help His servant Israel

He remembers His promise to our fathers

Message – (Un)Expected – Gratitude

[Slide #1 – leave screen share up until after slide #3]

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

– Bishop Desmond Tutu

I got stuck on Hope this past week. Last Sunday, Hope Sunday, our first Sunday of Advent, I preached that the element guiding the responses of Elizabeth and Mary was hope, especially, their response to their own part. The question for me has been, ‘Is hope just a magical superpower that God gives to a very select group of people, is it limited to just a few?’

Beginning Sunday evening this question loomed over me as I read through a book Steve Petty introduced me to a couple of weeks ago. It took about forty-eight hours for it to hit me that the book is about Hope – specifically the Science of Hope…suddenly I began to read a bit more diligently attempting to apply this to Elizabeth and Mary. It is not really a religious book although the topic is Holy. The Author, Dr. Chan actually points out that religious leaders have largely relegated Hope to something of the future – to heaven and  the return of Jesus. This caught my attention because his perspective has long been my opinion as well. In reality, however, Jesus came to earth for our earthly existence as much as for our eternal existence. 

One of the illustrations shared in the book is about Emeka Nnaka, a young man paralyzed in an OKC semi-professional football game. Dr. Hellman presents the impact of hope on Emeka and how he intentionally strategized to nurture his hope. Emeka now says,

[Slide #2]

“Hope is not a step in life, it is a stance.”

  • Emeka Nnaka

[Slide #3]

“For Christians, hope is ultimately in Christ. This is the hope that our faith has proclaimed for centuries, the hope that we ourselves claim Jesus is. The hope that, despite the fact that sin and death still rule this world, Jesus has somehow conquered both. The hope that in Jesus, and through Jesus, all of us stand a chance of somehow surviving them as well.”

  • Theologian Fredrick Büchner

[Exit Screen Share]

We, modern privileged Christians, live in a fantasy that the Christian life is effortless once we accept Jesus. A fantasy where we close our eyes, sing our songs, quote specific stand alone verses, pray a prayer, and then our part in salvation is complete, then we can coast. We dismiss the intentional work and labor of God, we fail to grasp the earthly aspect of salvation, sadly, we then devalue the work of God in Jesus. Jesus, who walked the exhausting and sacrificial path of mercy and compassion. Jesus, who, even at a childhood age, was already searching for truth and understanding, engaging with religious leaders to better immerse himself into truth. The pursuit of Jesus wasn’t just about religious knowledge though, Jesus sought to know God through creation and mostly through engagements with God’s people. One of the initial discipleship immersion experiences Jesus provided for his disciples was to send them out among the people. To experience human frailties, sickness, oppression, misery – for them to grow in their walk with God.  To understand that Hope comes from a full knowledge that develops from personal effort.

This is our first advent of 2022 epiphany – Hope is actually a verb not just a passive noun. Mary and Elizabeth had hope, because they had spent their life paying attention, holding on to the hope of the promise of God to send a deliverer. Listening to the religious teachers, experiencing people, looking for God, paying attention to all that took place around them. 

God calls people who have hope because they have been building their hope muscle. They have been paying attention, they have lived with the constant expectation, and they are willing to be a part of God’s work. Look at the people who God calls. Noah, is not distracted by the sin of his community, even his neighbors have nothing bad to say about him, but, all the while, he is listening for God. Abraham, grew up in a religious family, a family that used false religions for their own gain, but still, the thoughts about God were all around him, he was listening, when God unexpectedly called him. The apostle Paul, a religious zealot, traveling to persecute believers, but, even he was listening and heard God. And, the young teen named Mary, listening without  speculation, nurturing an ever increating listening ear, and at the right time recognized and heard God.

[Slide #4 – leave screen share up until after slide #7]

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

  • Luke 1:28-33

[Slide #5]

Hope, a verb, is followed by another verb, Peace.

Mary, even in the midst of this mind blowing news, quickly recognized that her world had not just changed but that she was on a path with no navigable map. No human had ever taken this path before, and no human would ever travel this path again. She would face the unimaginable, her son would endure the unfathomable. And still, in this incredible moment, as a young teen, she stood in the place of an inner peace permitting her to sing a prayer encapsulating her hope, a hope centered on the God she already trusted.

The relationship of Hope and Peace in their times of oppression and fear was, and is, a persistent dichotomy for people of faith. The Israelites, most of whom had become weary and doubtful, lived in a religion that was tethered primarily to stories of the actions of their mighty God, which took place thousands of years prior, and the words of prophets spoken hundreds of years prior.  On the one hand they heard of a promised deliverer and then at the same time they experienced a daily life that commonly beat them down. A life that was inhospitable to hope and even less nurturing of peace.

[Slide #6]

This was the same world that Jesus spoke of when he told his followers to go in peace, that a life lived by the sword would lead to a death by the sword, while, also saying  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

  • Matthew 10:34-36

[Slide #7]

And yet, at Jesus’ birth, the angels announced to the shepherds who were sitting on the hillside, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.” 

  • Luke 2:14

As Mary sung her prayer of praise she lived in the midst of a promise that did not match her reality. Words that would be spoken by Jesus much later, are words that described the existence of her people, and really of all humanity. Jesus, words of picking up a sword, was not a calling to a battle but to a stance of righteousness. A calling to confront and challenge evil by being living visible challenge to reality. The reality was that evil, oppression, hatred, and persecution would still exist, even in their own homes, however, Jesus sacrificial life and death would be a sword of truth. Our Hope plants us in the Peace of God and God’s unseen actions.

Jesus – the prince of peace…the prince of our peace.

This peace where Mary stood was not magical, it did not come in an isolated place far from the unholiness of humanity, she was smack in the middle of it, and the rest of her life would be a constant slap in the face, her face, of that truth. Even as a young teen, she chose to stand in peace. Hope along with Peace were intentional elements of life. Mary proclaims the impact of God’s actions on her own life, honestly accepting her future even in the midst of the pain ahead. 

Note – When Mary uses the word ‘blessed’, it is not the same as our use of the word in our first world self-centered interpretation, Mary understands that true blessing will mean rejection by others. Mary sings out what she knows about God, what she has learned about God, the acts and truths about God that she stands on. Then Mary acknowledges God’s mercy and compassion towards the downtrodden as well as God’s thoughts towards the prideful and arrogant.   It was in this unfelt peace that Mary sang her prayer…

“My soul exalts you Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in you, God my Savior. You have noticed me and have not dismissed me as everyone around me does. Whatever my life will look like from this point forward, I know that now that all generations will understand that this path was, indeed, a blessing. For you God, you are the Mighty One, and you have done great things for me; and holy is your name. Your mercy is to generations past, to my generation, and to generations yet to come…generation after generation, toward those who fear you.  You, God, have done mighty deeds with your arm, you have scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. You, God, have brought down rulers from their thrones, and exalted those who were humble. And God, you have filled the hungry with good things, and sent those whose hope is in their riches and privilege away empty-handed. God, you have given help to your people Israel. A help that has been a constant reminder to us of your mercy, just as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and his descendants forever. Amen.”

“Mary sings about the God who saves not just souls, but embodied people. The God she celebrates is not content merely to point people toward heaven, instead, God’s redemptive work begins here on earth. Rather than being satisfied with comforting the lowly, Mary’s Lord lifts them up, granting them dignity and honor, a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. At the same time, God shows strength by disrupting the world’s power structures, dethroning rulers, and humbling the mighty.”

  • Judith Jones, Vicar

Mary held to the Hope of the coming Messiah, the Deliverer, the Redeemer – she had no idea of what it would look like, but, still, that hope was at her core. We, too, hold to that Hope, Hope of arrival of that same Messiah, Deliverer, and Redeemer. Hope that holds us together. Hope that allows us to exist in the midst of an unseen and unfelt Peace, Hope and Peace that bring us to prayer and praise, the voice of Hope and Peace.

May this Hope and Peace be at the forefront of our thoughts in this season, may we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen mighty acts of God. May we too come before God anchored by our God centered hope and calmed by God’s peace. 

Music 

Joy to the world the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room

And heav’n and nature sing

And heav’n and nature sing

And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing

Verse 2

Joy to the earth the Savior reigns

Let men their songs employ

While fields and floods

Rocks hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy

Repeat the sounding joy

Repeat repeat the sounding joy

Verse 3

No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

Far as the curse is found

Far as far as the curse is found

Verse 4

He rules the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love

And wonders of His love

And wonders wonders of His love

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected’ Advent 2, 12.04 Unexpected Gratitude, Luke 1:46-55
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study continues this Wednesday, December 7 at noon. 
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day
  • Budget/Leadership Affirmation Gathering 10 minutes following worship today.

Closing Peace

May the Hope and the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

May Hope and Peace be at the forefront of our thoughts this season. May we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen daily mighty acts of God. May we come before God anchored by our God centered hope and calmed by God’s promised peace. May we see the unseen, may we seek the strength to do more than to just persevere. May we be satisfied only when we know God more today than yesterday and less today than tomorrow. May we look to experience God’s mercy, compassion, and grace, as acted out towards others through each of us. Go in Hope and Peace.

Order, Words, & Voices

Order, Words, & Voices

11.27.22  (Genesis 4 – (Un)expected (Im)possibilities

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Lynn

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Cricklins

Reading Rick

Video- Advent Hope Video

Song & Lighting of 1st Advent Candle Music – Lynn

Magnificat Candle – Paul & Martha

Message Luke 1:1-345 Rick

Music: Here I Am To Worship Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come all ye faithful

Joyful and triumphant

O come ye O come ye to Bethlehem

Come and behold Him

Born the King of angels

Chorus

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord

Verse 2

Sing choirs of angels

Sing in exultation

O sing all ye bright

Hosts of heav’n above

Glory to God all

Glory in the highest

Verse 3

Yea Lord we greet Thee

Born this happy morning

Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n

Word of the Father

Now in flesh appearing

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

Verse 2

Born Thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By Thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Through the voice of the prophet Isaiah, God promised hope to the people, saying: “I will give you a sign, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son. 

Response: The Son will be called Immanuel, meaning ‘God is with us.’

Leader: Through the prophet Isaiah, God explained the mission of the Deliverer, “For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us.”

Response: “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Leader: Through the prophet Isaiah, God described the actions of the redeemer, “He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair.”

Response: “He will see full justice is given to all who have been wronged.”

Leader: “He will be despised and abandoned by men. He will understand our sicknesses and pain.”

Response:  “He will carry our struggle as if it was his own.”

Leader: “He will be pierced for our misdeeds. He will be crushed for our wrongdoings. He will take our offenses, they will be laid on his shoulders.”

Response:  “By His wounds we are healed.”

Leader: Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminded us of our need for the Messiah, “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, we have all turned to our own way;

Response: “The wrongdoing of us all falls on him.”

Leader: Through the prophet Malachi, God proclaimed, “Look, I will send you a prophet much like Elijah. His preaching will bring fathers and children together again, leading his own to be of one mind and heart.”

Response:  And then God’s voice went silent..

Leader: For four hundred years the prophets said nothing. Then, God’s voice was once again heard through words directed at two women, Elizabeth and Mary. “Don’t be afraid. I bring good news.”

Response: An unexpected announcement of the impossible.

Leader: One birthed a son named John who prepared the world.

Response: One birthed a son named Jesus who would save the world. 

Leader: For unto us a child is born. Unto us a child is given.

Response: Immanuel, God is with us.

Leader: Let us rejoice, God is with us!

Response: God is with us.

Leader: 

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

The account of Jesus’ birth, life, and death, as told by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of truth, thoroughly investigated and written so that you may know the exact truth.

The story first introduces a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Both were righteous and walked blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements given by the Lord. They were elderly and had no children.

As Zechariah was performing his priestly service, an angel of the Lord appeared to him which, of course, startled and scared Zechariah. 

The angel quickly said to him, “Do not be afraid for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. 

You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth. He will be great in the sight of the Lord and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while he is still in the  womb. He will turn many of the sons of Israel back to God. 

God will use him to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, and, most importantly, to prepare the people for the Lord.”

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,  the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. 

The angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary was very perplexed, pondering what the angel meant. The angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. 

You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 

Mary said to the angel, “How is this is possible, I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason also the holy Child will be called the Son of God. 

Even your elderly relative Elizabeth is pregnant with a son, she is now in her sixth month. Nothing is impossible with God.” Mary said, “I am the Lord’s bond-servant; may what you have said be done.” The angel departed from her.

Mary went in a hurry to the house of Zechariah to see Elizabeth. As soon as the two women were together, Elizabeth’s baby lept in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! I am blessed that the mother of the Lord has come to see me.”

(Luke 1:1-16, 26-44 abb)

Music

Magnificat

Soprano:
My soul magnifies the Lord

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior

My soul magnifies the Lord

My spirit rejoices in God

Bass:

Glory be to God the Father

And glory be to God the Son

Glory be to God the Spirit

Glory be to God

Alto:

He has been mindful of His servant

He has been mindful of me

I will be blessed forever forever

I will be blessed by the Lord

Tenor:

God alone is mighty mighty

Our God alone has done great things

God alone is worthy worthy

Holy is His name

Message – (Un)Expected – (Im)possible

[Slide 1] Advent is the season of great expectations, when we look forward to the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, in the same manner that the people awaited the coming of the Messiah over 2,000 years ago. During Advent we celebrate God’s character and very nature – love, peace, joy, and hope. 

[Slide 2] God, through the prophet Isaiah said, “A child is going to be born who will then become the prince of peace and will bring peace to a needy world.” 

[Slide 3] This message of peace and love is not a new story of the Bible, instead, the entire bible is one long story of God’s love for us and the gift of Jesus is at the center of the story. 

[Slide 4] We too, are the recipients of God’s favor and God’s joy now. 

[Slide 5] The question we have to ask, during this Advent season, is whether we are people of love, peace, joy, and hope and whether our message is a message of love, peace, joy, and hope. 

(Adapted from Great Expectations, Seminary Now)

[Slide 5] “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour

Endings and beginnings ironically both call on hope that resides within us to hold us tightly. The frequent  problem with hope is – in what, or in who, our hope rests on. When our hope rests on anything, or anyone, that is an unstable source of hope, a hope that calls us to violence, hatred, brutality, insecurity, or reckless behavior – then our problem comes not in the question ‘do we have hope?’ rather the problem can be found in the question ‘is my hope grounded on a solid foundation?’

For us to see that an ending is just a new beginning, we must have a properly grounded hope.

Usually on this first day of Advent, we have four candles on a candle holder before you. Then, each Sunday of Advent we will light one more of those candles until, on Christmas Eve we light a new, fifth candle that represents the birth of Jesus. Today, however, you will probably notice that there is only one candle, the Hope Candle. Today, the hope candle stands alone, next week it will be joined by the other candles, but today we must confront the presence, or absence of a stable hope in each of our lives.

Near the end of the old testament, the prophets, re-emphasise the message of the former prophets, as they stress the hope in the coming Messiah. As the people then wait, new generations arise, elders pass, and still they do not see the fulfillment of God’s promise they began to lose hope, they begin to complain and many choose to give up. God, one more time, brings a messenger to them, and once again the promise of the coming deliverer is voiced.

 [Slide 6] “Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,”

Then nothing else is hear from God or the prophets of Gods. Centuries, and generations, passed with no word from God. Most Isrealites had forgotten the words of the prophets that told of the coming Messiah. Even the religious leaders had settled into institutional life, guiding the people through acts of religiosity, without even the slightest hint of looking for fulfillment. No one really expected anything to change, no one expected God to ever speak or act again. This was life. No love, peace, joy, or hope.

Their hope had not held them because their hope was not grounded on God, but, instead on what they could see and on their own speculation of how fulfillment had to look.

And then the unexpected happened, a priest named Zechariah was interrupted while doing his job of religiosity. [Slide 7] “Do not be afraid for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. 

[Slide 8] You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth. He will be great in the sight of the Lord and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while he is still in the  womb. He will turn many of the sons of Israel back to God. 

[Slide 9] God will use him to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, and, most importantly, to prepare the people for the Lord.”

Then six months later, another unexpected interruption [Slide 10] , this time to a young woman, [Slide 10] “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”

[End Screen Share]

This past year we have spent every Sunday focusing on  the women of the Bible.  It has been interesting, and as a preacher, often times very difficult. While there have been some villainous women, most of the time there have been humans who were women, who held it all together with little to no credit, humans, who were women, who stood in the gap when the men failed to step us, women, who were looked down upon and ignored that continue to put one step in front of the other and move forward. 

Women, who even today, are denied a place in the church as leaders even when their presence is not only needed but is an essential element of moving the church into the future. Now, as we begin the story of the arrival of the Messiah, we also see the leadership of women.

For our two women today, neither Elizabeth or Mary argue with God based on the impossibilities, they don’t dispute the fact that neither of these two are prime candidates for their calling to birth the messenger and the Messiah. They ask how, but they never say ‘no’. 

Elizabeth’s husband was shocked, but Elizabeth was not. Mary’s fiance was very surprised, but Mary did not seem surprised. Why? How?

Hope. Both were living by Hope. Neither knew the ‘How’, and probably, neither speculated they would be a part of the ‘How’ but, they were. What seemed like an ending to all of society, these two women somehow were not caught off guard that it was actually a new beginning. 

And, their hope was built on a solid foundation, the God of promises fulfilled. 

This is our advent beginning, “Do we have Hope?” and “On what is our hope grounded?”

Music 

Here I Am To Worship

Light of the world

You stepped down into darkness

Opened my eyes let me see

Beauty that made

This heart adore You

Hope of a life spent with You

Chorus

So here I am to worship

Here I am to bow down

Here I am to say that You’re my God

And You’re altogether lovely

Altogether worthy

Altogether wonderful to me

Verse 2

King of all days

Oh so highly exalted

Glorious in heaven above

Humbly You came

To the earth You created

All for love’s sake became poor

Bridge

And I’ll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

And I’ll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected’ Advent 2, 12.04 Unexpected Gratitude, Luke 1:46-55
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study begins Wednesday, November 30 at noon, three weeks. 
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day

Closing Peace

May the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

“May God give you the grace not to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but Love.”  

(William Sloane Coffin)

Order, Words, & Voices

11.20.22  (Genesis 4 – Then They Began)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Lynn

O Worship The King 

Thank you

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Pettys

Reading Rick

Song: Lynn

10,000 Reasons

Message Genesis 4 Rick

Song: Lynn

There is a Redeemer

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

Music

Oh Worship The King

Verse 1

O worship the King all glorious above

And gratefully sing His power and His love

Our Shield and Defender the Ancient of Days

Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise

Verse 2

O tell of His might O sing of His grace

Whose robe is the light whose canopy space

His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form

And dark is His path on the wings of the storm

Verse 4

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite

It breathes in the air it shines in the light

It streams from the hills it descends to the plain

And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

Thank you Lord

For all that you’ve done I will thank you,

For all that you’re going to do.

For all that you’ve promised and all that you are

Is all that will carry me through

Jesus, I thank you.

And I thank you, thank you, Lord.

And I thank you, thank you, Lord.

Thank you for loving and setting me free.

Thank you for giving your life just for me,

How I thank you,

Jesus, I thank you.

Gratefully thank you.

Thank you.

(repeat)

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: In the beginning, God…

Response: God was present.

Leader: God created.

Response: God is the creator.

Leader: God gave life to creation.

Response: God breathed life into creation.

Leader: In the beginning, God walked among creation and those God created.

Response: God’s created chose to not walk with God.

Leader: God’s created chose to walk on their own rejecting the creator.

Response: Our ancestors chose to walk apart from God.

Leader: What was holy was now unholy, peace turned back to chaos, hope disappeared into violence. Darkness shaded everything that God had created.

Response: In the beginning there was God. God is Love.

Leader: Still, God was present, God did not quit creation.

Response: Still, God is present.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

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 forgive those who trespass against us.

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

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

Adam and Eve conceived and gave birth to Cain, and Eve said, “I have given birth to a boy with the help of the Lord.” Then Eve gave birth to Abel. Abel became a rancher and Cain became a farmer. 

Cain brought an offering to the Lord from his produce. Abel brought an offering, from the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. 

The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering but not with Cain’s offering. Cain became very angry and he began to pout. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why are you pouting? 

You know that if you do well we will both be pleased. Remember if you do not work to do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you – you must master it.” 

While Cain and Abel were in the field Cain killed his brother Abel.

The Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain said, “I do not know. Is it my job to keep track of him?” The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to Me from the ground. 

Now you are cursed from the ground, which has sucked up Abel’s  blood that was spilt by your violence. When you farm the ground, it will no longer yield its produce to you; you will be a wanderer and a drifter on the earth.” 

Cain cried to the Lord, “My punishment is too great! You’ve taken farming from me, you have hidden your face from me, I can now only be a wanderer and a drifter, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 

The Lord said to Cain, “Whoever kills you, I will take vengeance on them seven times as much.” And the Lord placed a mark on Cain, so that no one finding him would kill him.

Cain left the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden, and built a city there. Cain’s great great grandson took two wives, which is the beginning of polygamy.

The great, great, great, great, grandsons of Cain were Jabal whose descendants lived in tents and had livestock; Jubal whose descendants played the lyre and flute; Tubal-cain whose descendants forged implements of bronze and iron. 

Adam and Eve gave birth to another son, and named him Seth. Eve said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel who was killed by my son Cain.” It was during this time of Seth that people began to call upon the name of the Lord. Then Seth and his wife had a son & named him Enosh.  (Genesis 4)

Music

10,000 Reasons

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 1

The 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

Verse 2

You’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

Verse 3

And 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

 

Worship Your holy name

Lord I’ll worship Your holy name

Ending

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

Worship Your holy name

Worship Your holy name

Message – Immersive Faith

Genesis 4

[slide #2] In the beginning… God.

[slide #3] Although there was not really any punctuation practiced when this was first written, an ellipsis does belong after the third word.

If you are not acquainted with the grammatical punctuation mark of an ellipsis, as I was until a short time ago, an ellipsis is a punctuation mark of three dots (. . .) that shows an omission of words, represents a pause, or suggests there’s something left unsaid.

[slide #4] In the beginning… God. The beginning was not a kick off for God’s actions. Instead, in the beginning, in our beginning, God was there, God was already present. God was God, God is God. Long before actions, long before creation, there was God. So, three simple dots miraculously convey the eternal past, present, and future.

In the beginning…God. It is really simple actually. God was present. It was the initial reality of the consistent reality…In the beginning, God. In the present, God. In the future, God. In eternity, God.

Simple but not simplistic. God is the first character of our story, God is the first presence of our creation, God. There is no introduction, no explanation, no background or motivation, only God.  Later Moses attempts to introduce God, asking for God’s resume, to which God explains – just say ‘God’.

[‘remove screen share’]

It is amazing, then, that a story with such a simple beginning can be so muddled up by us religious vocational religiousists. We take the God who was there in the beginning and attach all kinds of our own stipulations and interpretations. Sometimes, though, God calls us back to God. Back to God’s simplicity, back to God’s compassion and mercy, back to God’s grace, back to our God who, at the core, is love.

So, we come to Genesis chapter four, in which we witness our world get messy and complicated. It is our first observance outside of the garden and our first hint at the direction of humanity as seen in the first ancestral lineage is documented. 

As chapter three ends, as humans have chosen to walk apart and away from God – the tree of eternal life, the hope of the tree has now been replaced with imminent catastrophe. For humans, who were by choice, apart from God, the eternal life is not a hopeful state it is an oncoming brutal catastrophe. This is one of the reasons they had to be removed from the garden. They were not ready for eternal life, at this point they would do good to survive earthly life.

Chapter one of Genesis tells of creation, chapter two gives us another tale of creation, and then chapter three accounts for humans’ rejection of God. Today we are looking at chapter four which gives us the experience outside of the garden and God’s redemptive act on our part as evidence in a newborn birth.

[Slides/screen share through slide #13]

Population began to grow as we begin with the thread of Adam and Eve with two births. First Eve birthed a son named Cain, a feat made possible, as Eve proclaimed,  “I have obtained a male child with the help of the Lord.” This is the last proclamation of God by humans until centuries later when a much older Eve gives birth to her last son. After the birth of Cain, Eve gives birth to his brother Abel.

[slide #6] Next, we witness the first offering of thanksgiving to God as Cain and Abel make a praise offering to God. We do not really know what prompted this offering, or even their knowledge of God, but, both men separately gave an offering.

[slide #7] As God accepts Abel’s offering but rejects Cain, we see the first act of jealousy, violence, and murder, as Cain murders his brother Abel. Cain is exiled and his vocation of farming is taken away from him.

As Cain complains to God about the consequences of the murder, we see the first act of God’s grace outside of the garden. This is also the first the first moment outside of the garden that we witness the compassion and mercy of God. God places a mark on Cain that will protect him from the brutality of others who may seek to harm him. This is an interesting detail of the story, who are the others that Cain is fearful of? Is Cain afraid of the retribution of his own family tree? 

Cain scatters further east of the garden. His parents had left the garden by the east exit of the garden, now Cain goes even further east from the garden. Humanity is moving further from God and the place where God was present. Going east is a constant metaphor in the old testament for leaving the presence of God. Later, when Lot departs from Abraham he goes east, the children of Abraham’s concubines are sent east, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe choose to dwell outside and to the east of the promised land. Symbolically, east is usually considered unholy and away from the garden, west is holy and back towards the garden.

[slide #10] Cain builds a city and names it after his son Enoch. A city marks the first lasting human claim on earth. No longer will the forbidden garden be the reference point for humanity, now it is a human established place. Humans have now placed their stake in the ground created by God. However, this place has no reference to God, it is actually named after Cain’s son Enoch. Now humanity is not only not speaking of God, now they are exalting the name of a human.

[slide #11] The practice of Polygamy is established as Lamach, Cain’s great great grandson takes two wives. The practice of multiple wives becomes a constant throughout the old testament but the practice is never endorsed and seemingly violates God’s singular tense about marriage in Genesis 2:24.

[slide #12] Humans find Earthly Definition in work. Up to this point humans did what needed to be done for survival while finding a work that suited them. Cain was a farmer, Abel was a rancher. But now we begin to see humans, as groups, become identified by their work, their vocation.

[slide #13] Arrogance and Entitlement. Cain’s great, great, grandson, like Cain commits murder and his response is not remorse but Arrogance and Entitlement. Not only does he justify his actions but declares that he deserves even more mercy, compassion,and grace, from God than was given to his ancestor Cain.

[End slides/screen share]

This is what humanity has come to. Depicted in just twenty-four verses we go from Eve’s proclamation of God’s part in her birthing Cain, to murder, to the human collectives’ praise of a human, to complete arrogance and entitlement.

However, that is not the end of the story. Before chapter four is over, in just a mere two verses, we see a new branch sprout from the family tree of Adam and Eve.  This is the branch of God’s deliverance, the hope of all humans, the lineage of the Messiah begins.

[Slide #14 – Screen Share through Slide #20]

‘Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, Eve said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.” 

[Slide #15] To Seth also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then people began to call upon the name of the Lord.’ (Genesis 4:25-26)

To Seth was born Enos, to Enos was born Kenan, to Kenan was born Mahaleel, to Mahaleel was born Jered, to Jaren was born Enoch, to Enoch was born Methusaleh, to Methusaleh was born Lamech, to Lamech was born Noah, to Noah was born…to Mary and Joseph was born Jesus. The end and fulfillment of the lineage of Seth, and his parents Adam and Eve.

[Slide #16] ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 

[Slide #17] In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it. This was the true Light that, coming into the world, enlightens every person. 

[Slide 18] He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not accept Him. 

[Slide 19] But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God. 

[Slide #20] And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

(John 1:1-5, 10-14)

A redemptive branch, a root of righteousness, a tree that shall weather the storms, a lineage that will not squander truth but seek and search for it. A call to an imperfect people, a lineage made up of imperfect people, but the God of grace, the God of deliverance, the God of redemption, the God of mercy, the God that is Love.

I think I say this every year, but for those of us who are blessed with freedom, we who are prone to selfishness, arrogance, and entitlement – for those of our nation, for us, it is no accident that our official time of remembering and giving thanks comes just a month before our official time to remember and give thanks for the arrival of God’s instrument of God’s grace – Jesus. In giving thanks, we remember God’s past present acts, which then clears our minds and our hearts so we can recognize God’s merciful redemptive provision of a lineage that gives us Jesus. Which reminds us of our God of grace, a reminder that we are to hold on to for the 365 days that follow.

May this too, be the time when we, and all, ‘people began to call upon the name of the Lord.’ (Genesis 4:26)

Music 

There is a Redeemer

There is a Redeemer Jesus God’s own Son

Precious Lamb of God Messiah Holy One

Chorus

Thank You O my Father

For giving us Your Son

And leaving Your Spirit

Till the work on earth is done

Verse 2

Jesus my Redeemer name above all names

Precious Lamb of God Messiah

O for sinners slain

Verse 3

When I stand in glory I will see His face

There I’ll serve my King forever

In that holy place

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected’ Advent 1, 11.27 Unexpected Unexpected (Im)possibilities, Luke 1:1-38
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study begins Wednesday, November 30 at noon, three weeks. We will have an evening study if there is interest expressed (speak with Rick)
  • Thanksgiving Dinner, Today, Sunday, November 20, following worship at Not Your Average Joes
  • Christmas Season Dates – 

Advent Begins next Sunday, November 27

Advent Bible Study begins November 30

Brief business gathering December 4

Christmas Eve Worship Gathering at 6pm

No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day

Closing Peace

May the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

“May God give you the grace not to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but Love.”  

(William Sloane Coffin)

Order, Words, & Voices 11.13.22

Order, Words, & Voices
11.13.22  (I Samuel 25:1-31)

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Lord’s Prayer

Opening Songs:                                 Lynn
Raise a Hallelujah
The Joy of the Lord

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer                in person – Ijahi
Reading                                    on line – Mitch

Song:                                     Lynn    
Give Thanks

Message    I Samuel 25:1-31                        Rick

Song:                                        Lynn
Ancient Words

Community/Closing Peace                        Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Music
I raise a hallelujah in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah Heaven comes to fight for me
ChorusI’m gonna sing in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes hope will arise
Death is defeated the King is alive
Verse 2I raise a hallelujah with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah in the middle of the mystery
I raise a hallelujah fear you lost your hold on me
BridgeSing a little louder in the presence of my enemies
Sing a little louder louder than the unbelief
Sing a little louder my weapon is a melody
Sing a little louder Heaven comes to fight for me
ChorusI’m gonna sing in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes hope will arise
Death is defeated the King is alive

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not falter I will not faint
He is my Shepherd I am not afraid
The joy of the Lord is my strength
ChorusThe joy of the Lord
The joy of the Lord
The joy of the Lord
Is my strength
Verse 2The joy of the Lord will be my strength
He will uphold me all of my days
I am surrounded by mercy and grace
And the joy of the Lord is my strength
ChorusThe joy of the Lord
The joy of the Lord
The joy of the Lord
Is my strength
Verse 3The joy of the Lord will be my strength
And I will not waver walking by faith
He will be strong to deliver me safe
The joy of the Lord is my strength
ChorusThe joy of the Lord, The joy of the Lord
The joy of the Lord Is my strength

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Then Samuel died.
Response: All Israel assembled and mourned.

Leader: Many of the Israelites had never known God’s voice except as spoken from the mouth of Samuel.
Response: As a child Samuel had confronted the High Priest.

Leader: As a young man Samuel had anointed the first King of the Israelites.
Response: Samuel grieved as that King turned away from God.

Leader: While a middle aged man Samuel witnessed that first King, a man named Saul, increase in brutality as he descended into paranoia.
Response: God called Samuel to anoint a new King. 

Leader: But, the first King was still on the throne, anointing a new King was risky and dangerous.
Response: Samuel still obeyed God.

Leader: That second King was an unknown young man named David.
Response: Unknown to man but known to God.

Leader: With Samuel speaking God’s voice to David, a struggle rose up between the two Kings. Saul, the first King, who refused to listen to God’s voice, became increasingly defiant to God’s will.
Response: King David was learning what it meant to trust and obey God.

Leader: Now, while the struggle continued, Samuel died.
Response: All Israel mourned.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.
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 forgive those who trespass against us.
And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (No Slides, spotlight Mitch)

A man named Nabal was very prosperous but he was also a brute as well as a fool. His wife Abigail, on the other hand, was wise and intelligent.

David, the anointed King to be, was nearby and heard that Nabal was feasting. David sent ten of his men to tell Nabal: “When your shepherds were camped near us we protected them, they lost nothing. Ask your own men, they will affirm this. Now, be generous to us and share your feast.”

Nabal refused David’s request, the men returned to tell David of Nabal’s response. David was furious and ordered four hundred of his men to accompany him to get revenge.

While all of this was going on, one of Nabal’s shepherds ran to Abigail and told her “Your husband tore into them with insults even though he knew they had treated us well, protecting us and Nabal’s sheep. You need to do something quick!”


Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes from Nabal’s feast tables. Abigail said nothing to her husband who was already drunk by this time.

King David and his men met Abigail on the road. As she saw David, she fell to her knees at his feet with her face to the ground, saying, “My King, listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what Nabal did. Foolishness oozes from him.”

Abigail continued,  “I wasn’t there when your men arrived. Forgive me for being presumptuous, but as God lives and as you live, God is now keeping you from this avenging murder! Take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to you my King, and give it to the your men.”

“God is at work in you. You are not fighting God’s battles on your own! As long as you live you must not allow evil such as killing the innocent stick to you. When  God completes all the goodness he has promised and as God sets you up over Israel, you must not carry the burden of guilt from this avenging murder.”

David said, “Thank God for sending you to meet me, and for your blessed good sense! You kept me from murder.” David accepted the gift Abigail brought him saying, “Return home in peace, I will do what you’ve asked.” I Samuel 25:1-31
Music

ChorusGive thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son
VerseAnd now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us
ChorusGive thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son
VerseAnd now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us EndingGive thanks

Message – Immersive Faith

I Samuel 25:1-31

The story of Abigail, the woman we are meeting today, is one of the most unique stories in the Bible. Honestly, she should probably be remembered as a superhero. She saved her husband, all the men employed by her husband, and possibly hundreds of the men who had battled alongside David. Even more heroic, she saved David from himself. As Abigail and David’s lives intersect, he was preparing to make a huge vengeance motivated mistake, a mistake that would have cursed his family, his coming reign as King, and would have harmed his relationship with God.  

As I have considered this woman, questions about her have flooded my mind. Was she an Enabler to her foolish and brutish husband? Was she a Peacekeeper in countless relationships attempting to keep everyone in harmony? Was she an Interventionist working to squelch conflict and avoid violence? Was she a Long Suffering wife? Was she a Therapist, an Abused wife, or was she an unsung hero choosing to run, not walk, on the path God set before her?

It is really a pretty simple story. Her husband was a fool, his name meant fool – this may actually be the meaning of the name his parents gave him, or it may be that he redefined what Nabal meant. Abigail, on the other hand, carried a name that meant Joy, specifically, ‘Joy of the Father.’ The question about Abigail’s name is the same, did her name define her or did she redefine the name?

The story begins with a feast, it was the annual feast that took place after all the sheep had been sheared. At this same time, David, who had been anointed King by the now deceased Samuel, was still in a struggle with the old, violent, and now paranoid, King Saul. David was camped out with his men when he learned of the feast at Nabal’s house which was not far. David’s men had recently protected Nabal’s men as they were tending to Nabal’s sheep. David’s men needed a feast, times had been a struggle, plus, they were hungry for real food. So, David, assuming that Nabal would be grateful, sent a small contingent of his men to Nabal to respectfully ask for some of the food from the feast.

Nabal’s response was not only to refuse the men, but he also added insult. David’s men returned and told David which caused this future King’s blood to boil, he gathered about two thirds of his army and headed to Nabal’s house for a full revenge that would strategically leave Nabal and his men dead.

While David and his warriors headed to Nabal’s house, one of Nabal’s men ran to tell Abigail what her husband had just done. The man, and Abigail, both knew that David would be upset. Abigail quickly gathered all the elements that would be needed to give David more than enough for a feast for 600 men, and enough to adequately honor this future King.

As soon as Abigail met David on the road she began pleading with David.  Her message to David was two fold

  • Don’t kill these men, they are innocent, the only guilty one is my husband who is always a fool and now he is a drunk fool, he is not worthy of your attention and energy. 
  • You are going to be the King, you have already been anointed by Samuel, and as soon as Saul is off the throne you will be in that position of power. You don’t need an unwarranted and impulsive slaughter on your shoulders as you seek to unite the Israelites.

King Saul that was not the primary problem, he was a problem but not the foundational problem. The problem was that Samuel had just passed. This was a time of absence, the true leader of the Isrealites had died, no one was yet in place to fill that void. The people were now without Samuel, many of the Israelites had never lived in a time without Samuel’s leadership and now he was gone. Samuel was the one who confronted a High Priest and an insecure King, he was the on who anointed Kings, he was the one who called the powerful back to the path of God.   This was a turning point moment for the Isrealites leaving them with many questions. 

  • Would they go back to an existence as they had before in the time of the Judges when everyone did what was right in their own minds, when everyone just did what was best for them? Or were they going to remember God’s voice which had been spoken through Samuel? 
  • Would David, their future King and God’s anointed, keep his sights on God rather than allowing his own pride and emotions turn him into a King much worse than Saul, and a fool much more brutish than Nabal?

In the end, a humble David recognized what the lowly Abigail had done, the catastrophe she had averted. Yes, Abigail brought a Joyful gift of Atonement for her husband’s actions, but, more powerful and long lasting, she had saved David from himself. The atonement was as much for David as it was for Nabal. Abigail kept David from doing something that would have been even more foolish than her husband Nabal had ever done. Abigail’s offering of atonement was for Nabal’s foolishness and for David’s heart of revenge.

This brings us to a theological building building block of the old testament, the concept of Atonement. Atonement, or another form of the word, appears 84 times in the old testament. The actions of Abigail were an atonement for the foolishness of her husband. She was intentionally making a repatriation for Nabal’s foolish actions and unintentionally atoning on the part of David. 

Atonement, a noun, is defined as ‘the satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.’

In the movie Coach Carter, we see a beautiful portrait of Atonement. Businessman Ken Carter (played by Samuel Jackson) is recruited to take over the ailing basketball team of Richmond High School in Richmond, California. The movie was based on the true story of the California basketball coach who, in 1999 took over an undisciplined and fractured high school team. Carter’s strict discipline towards basketball, and more so in regard to the players’ studies and grades, immediately alienated a young man named Cruz. Cruz was off the team before drills had even begun. Later, Cruz suffers a traumatic incident which leads him back to Coach Carter begging to be allowed to return to the team. The Coach allows him back on the team on the condition that he makes the appropriate atonement. He is to do all the drills he missed in his time away from the team, 2,500 push ups and 1,000 suicides (sprints up and down the court). At the end of his time alloted to finish the atonement, Cruz is remains 80 suicides and 500 pushups short. As Cruz is leaving the court, defeated and exhausted, his teammates begin doing the remaining acts of atonement for him. Soon he gathers the energy, and willpower, to join the team in their atoning sacrifice for him.

The word, Atonement, is a noun which gives purpose to the action – which is the verb Atoning. In Abigail’s case her action of atonement was to bring to David what he had requested, and deserved, while also sacrificing much more for her husband, Nabal’s, foolishness.  Instead of offering a portion of the feast, she basically brought the feast – much more than David had asked for. This was a revelation to David of Abigail’s heart. Oddly, this was not an atonement for herself, it was for her husband, I would speculate that this was not the first atonement she had made for Nabal. This one, however, seemed to hold an urgency that she had not experienced before.

Nabal never really recognized what his wife had done, nor would he ever agree that he did anything in need of atonement. He was hardened to his sin, and unable to appreciate his own need for repentance and atonement. He had no regrets. This was a revelation of his heart. 

David, however, responded differently. As Abigail pointed out his need for atonement, David humbled himself and accepted this atonement on his own behalf. He turned away from his planned act of vengeance and turned back to God’s path.

One person’s act of atonement can be another person’s rescue.

Abigail’s act of atoning for her husband calmed the agitated David, and opened his eyes to the truth about himself. Her prophetic words warned David that he could not carry the burden of this massacre and also stay on God’s path. 

Nabal continued to live and act like the fool that he was, David, on the other hand, strived to live like the man God led him to be instead of the fool that he was becoming. That was a choice both Nabal and David were given as Abigail atoned for them. 

Abigail’s actions paint a beautiful picture of what Christ did on the cross as he atoned for our sins. A sacrifice that was prompted by God’s love for us. 

Sin is a heart problem, not really an action problem. David already had the heart problem before he ran into Abigail on the road, possibly even before he sought the to share in Nabal’s feast. Our sinful actions come out of a heart problem. Both men share the same sin, both were proudful, both were entitled and arrogance, both were easily angered and quickly vengeful. Nabal, was intentionally unable to recognize this, he had turned from God and his heart was hardened as his mind was closed. David still had a tender humility that allowed him to hear God’s voice, he still had a heart and mind that willingly recognized and accepted truth, even when it was negative and about him.

In 1866, Preacher Charles Spurgeon called the atoning work of God on our behalf  “a union of a most mysterious and intimate kind between those who sinned and the Christ who suffered.”

Nabal chose to remain drunk in his foolishness, David chose to return to the path God laid before him. Nabal never accepted the gift his wife gave him, David recognized the salvation given by Abigail’s atoning act.  Nabal remained on his path of foolishness while David walked away from his own foolish, sinful, and tragic human impulses.

Only Jesus could do this, only Jesus could make the atonement for all the sins of all humanity. Only Jesus inhabited the father’s love for us, moving Christ to accept the cross and offer us a better path. We stand atonement for our sin already made, what we do with that atonement is our choice.

The apostle Paul spoke of this choice of path while speaking to the believers in Philippi, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. So then, my beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:3-8, 12-13)

Music 

Verse 1Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
O let the ancient words impart
Verse 2Words of life words of hope
Give us strength help us cope
In this world where’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home
ChorusAncient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
Verse 3Holy words of our faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
O heed the faithful words of Christ
ChorusAncient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
O let the ancient words impart

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Then They Began’, Genesis 4:1-26
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study begins Wednesday, November 30 at noon, three weeks. We will have an evening study if there is interest expressed (speak with Rick)
  • Thanksgiving Dinner, Next Sunday, Sunday, November 20, following worship at Not Your Average Joes
  • Christmas Season Dates – 

Advent Begins next Sunday, November 27
Advent Bible Study begins November 30
Brief business gathering December 4
Christmas Eve Worship Gathering at 6pm
No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day

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

Benediction
“May God give you the grace not to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but Love.”  
(William Sloane Coffin)