Order, Voices, & Words 12.24.21

Order

Opening Video (1:03)

Music Abbie & billy

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Angels We Have Heard on High

Welcome Petty

ON LINE – Advent Candles review Musgroves

In Person lighter along w/Musgroves Emily and Jake

Music Abbie & Billy

O Holy Night

O Come All Ye Faithful – Light Christ Candle Emily and Jake

Scripture Luke 2:1-21 Petty

Music

Holy Is His Name Abbie & Billy

Message Rick

Joy To The World /Pass Flame Rick

Benediction Renee

Exit Christmas Music Billy

Voices & Words

Music I (Medley) 

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

CCLI Song # 7019799

Charles Wesley | Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

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 angelic hosts proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King

Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen 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

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a virgin’s womb


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 

Angels We Have Heard on High

CCLI Song # 27721

Edward Shippen Barnes | James Chadwick

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria, In excelsis Deo
Gloria, In excelsis Deo

Shepherds why this jubilee
Why your joyous strains prolong
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heav’nly song

Gloria, In excelsis Deo
Gloria, In excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria, In excelsis Deo
Gloria, In excelsis Deo

Welcome/Prayer 

Welcome to each of you that are in person and those of you that are with us online. In whatever form we gather, we gather because of the season, we gather because of our savior, we gather because each of us was created by God and at the same time we gather because each of us is loved God. When we leave here we will go out to all the others that God created and loves.

Tonight is the culmination of Advent. For the past five weeks we have prepared for the birth of the infant savior, we have anticipated the miraculous injection into our lives of God in the flesh, we have seen the stories of ordinary human beings like ourselves, we have witnessed that we do can be used by God, we too can be a part of the story. 

We anticipate Jesus together, we prepare for Jesus together, we seek, serve, and recognize Jesus together, we live with compassion, mercy, and love together, together we are hope bearers accepting all, embracing all. This is what Jesus was speaking of when he said take and eat this in remembrance of me.

We will be taking of the Lord’s Supper tonight, but in a way that we are unfamiliar with. You have the elements of the Lord’s Super observance in the bags you were given upon entrance this evening. During our time together tonight, whenever you are ready, eat the bread, or cookie, to remember Jesus born in the flesh, and as you drink the juice remember God’s eternal sacrifice.  Partake of the Lord’s supper whenever you want over the course our time of gathering together.

Let us pray. Dear God, we thank you for the sharing your son. You made the ultimate sacrifice of permitting humans to participate in the human life of Jesus, you have trusted us with your precious son, you have invested his life into our lives so ultimately he may give his life for our lives. Move us tonight, to remember, to anticipate, and to accept and embrace. Amen

ON LINE – Advent First Four Candles

This Advent season we have lit the four Advent candles as we have awaited the nativity narrative in anticipation and preparation. As we have heard the stories, the candles have been our reminder that even the birth of Jesus is not a mere historical event. We live it again, every day as we remember and respond to God’s call.

Our first candle is the candle of Hope. As the Israelites suffered as slaves in Babylon, they were hopeless but not hopeless. Everything in exile and at home looked hopeless. But the words of the prophets were filled with hope. Hope that God was not absent, hope that God would deliver.  We still live everyday seeing reasons for hopelessness, but everyday, we still live with the promise of Hope.

The second candle is the candle of Preparation. Again, we look back at the Isrealites. For seen decades they sat in slavery, languishing, still failing to recognized the call to return to God. Midway through that time, they began to wake up, to realize that God had been there all along, even though they had refused to look at God. As they opened their eyes and cleaned out their ears, they began to hear God’s call to prepare for deliverance, they began to see more than the misery. They began to prepare for God’s restoration that had already been fully prepared.

The third candle is the candle of power. As the Israelites returned home, God called a leader named Zerubbabel to lead the people home and to rebuild. Zerubbabel quickly realized that he was unable to do that, he was not stonrg enough, he did not have the perseverance. God told him he was right but that this work would not be about the power of Zerubbabel but he would have to trust in the power of God. This was the same message to Mary, it is not your power and might, depend on God.

The fourth candle is the candle of participation. A young man named Joesph, a man who was good and sought righteousness, was called to the role of sidekick. Joseph was called to father a son that was not really his own, and to name a salvation that was beyond his abilities. His simple response was ‘YES’ to a calling that would be anything but simple. God invites us in to participate in the holy plans of God.

The fifth candle that will be lit later in this evening is the Christ Candle.  It is the light that lights our path and illuminates truth in the darkness of humanitys’ soul. It is a flame that does not diminish when we take a piece of it, it is not overcome by the darkness, and it still shines even when our world attempts to hide it. It is the light that gives allows us to follow God, to recognize God, and to say ‘YES’ to God daily.

Allow the presence of this flames to remind you of of the moment that took place in a smelly stable with the new born son.

Music II

O Holy Night

CCLI Song # 32015

Adolphe Charles Adam | John Sullivan Dwight

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth


Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth


A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
O night divine

O night divine Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace


Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease


Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
 

Music/Lighting the Christ Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful

CCLI Song # 31054

C. Frederick Oakeley | John Francis Wade

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Scripture  Luke 2:1-21

In those days a decree went out saying that all the world should be registered. Everyone went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 

He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 

When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-21 

Music III

Holy Is The Lord

CCLI Song # 14497

John Michael Talbot

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

And holy holy
Holy is His name

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

And holy holy
Holy is His name

Message 

Christmas Eve worship is an odd challenge for a preacher. While it may be a preacher’s greatest opportunity to speak truth, it is also a moment for a preacher to step back and permit everyone to be the voice of hope and joy. We gather, we sing, we hear the story, we remember that Christmas Day was the earthly beginning of God’s sacrificial gift for all of humanity.

Advent is about remembering the journey of the first Christmas morning. The journey taken for us leading us to a journey of anticipation and preparation, and journey that miraculously took place in the most inglorious of places revealing the mysterious love of God for us, the undeserving who have repeatedly turned from God.

You may be new to the story, or possibly you have heard it fresh and new just recently. The world’s major religions, and even the smaller and less known religions, tell something of Jesus and his birth. Some hear it in the words of their own ancient prophets, some still cling to Jesus as an important prophet who taught humans how to live, to be good, to respect all, to reflect mercy and compassion, to love all.

The life of Jesus is mesmerizing, the interaction, the effortless expressions of love, the passion flowing out of mercy and compassion, Jesus looked beyond a person’s actions to their heart – he didn’t limit his understanding to what is seen, but, instead, by all of the things that weigh on hearts.

People were mesmerized by Jesus’ love, sacrifice, mercy, compassion, hope, and peace. The actions of Jesus’ life were foreign to most. But, more than any of that, they were refreshed and challenged  by the words that came from Jesus’ mouth. Words like…

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well.” (Matthew 5:38-40)

The greatest commandment is this, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. 

That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. 

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (Matthew 5:3-12 MSG)

The life and matching words of Jesus challenge our politics, our capitalism, our religion, our selfishness, our thoughts, our prejudice, our judgemental labels.

On the other hand, the life of Jesus and his transforming words empower our hope, our peace, our love, our acceptance, our embrace, our humility, our life.

Jesus came to transform our lives, to fulfill God’s purpose, to give us an unearthly abundance, and, in God’s mysterious way, he did this all through an infant. An infant who would experience our lives, understand the human dilemma, a baby who would become a man, the man who would become the sacrifice, because only being who could be that sacrifice. The very God who loves “the world so he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Jesus may not perish but may have eternal life. God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world will be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

So now, as we leave here, as we head home…let us take a breath, let us settle in, recognizing that the stores are closed, accepting that it is probably too late to thaw out a turkey, understanding that planned impressions have already been set in stone, and that our chimneys are probably clean enough for Santa to slide down. Let us choose to take these final moments of anticipation, expectation, and preparation for the Messiah, and look around for that stable everywhere we go, in every moment we have, to breath in the fresh breath of God, allowing us to settle into the light of the manger, a light that cannot be extinguished or hidden.

May we always receive the light of Jesus and then share the light as an automatic part our our path. May every aspect of our life be a sharing of the flame, the light of Jesus.

Passing of the Flame/Joy To The World

Joy To The World

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts

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

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

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

Benediction

(Congregational response in bold)

For God’s unique presence in the life of Jesus we rejoice

For God’s steadfast presence in our lives we rejoice

For Jesus’ manifestation of God’s peace, love, and justice, we rejoice

For Jesus’ life of mercy, compassion, patience, we rejoice

For God’s call and promise as clear to us as it was to his disciples, we rejoice

For God’s immutable voice through the centuries, we rejoice

Come to us, Lord Jesus, be born in us this night

In our hearts, our minds, our lives

May the shining light of Jesus be kindled in us

May Jesus’ shining light be our shining truth 

Merry Christmas!

Order, Voices, & Words 12.19.21

Order

Sunday, December 19  (Advent 4), 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am) Spotify – ‘Calm Christmas Music’

Video #1 (4:10)

    Call to Worship – Crown Him With Many Crowns (Tomlin & Redman)

Prayer                                Rick

Music 1                                                               Abbie & Billy

   O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Redner, Brooks, & Fettke)

Today’s Story                            Online – Peyton

                                    In Person- Lily

Music 2                                Abbie & Billy

  Away In A Manger (Murray, McFarland, & Luther)

  Silent Night (Gruber, Young, & Mohr)

Scripture (Matthew 1:19-25)                Dave Cricklin

Music 3/Advent Candle (Participation)            Lighter -Paul & Martha

  Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Oakeley & Wade)        Music -Abbie & Billy

Message    ‘Advent 4 – A Righteous Man”        Rick

Benediction                            Online – Peyton

                                    In Person – Lily

Community                            Rick

Closing Peace                                                Rick

Prayer/Joy to the World (Handel & Watts)        Rick

Closing Audio

Voices and Words

Prayer

Holy God,

You blessed Jesus with a rich line of diverse and interesting ancestors.

Diverse in their journeys and diverse in their relationship with you.

You gave Abraham, David, and Jesus ancestries of stories unlike ours.

You gave Abraham, David, and Jesus ancestries of struggles that call for your power and might just like our struggles.

Their stories were built upon each other and our stories are built upon their stories.

Stories that are raw, painful, messy as well as stories that are refined, comforting, and orderly.

May our stories be a blessing to our descendants.

May our stories call forth those that come after us.

May the footsteps our our stories leave direct their footsteps to Jesus.

Bless our families; those related by blood and those brought to us by love.

For the sake of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.

Music 1

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

CCLI Song # 3390685

Lewis Henry Redner | Phillips Brooks | Tom Fettke

Verse 1

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

Verse 2

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep

The angels keep their watch of wondering love

O morning stars together

Proclaim the holy birth

And praises sing to God the King

And peace to men on earth

Verse 3

How silently how silently

The wondrous gift is given

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heaven

No ear may hear His coming

But in this world of sin

Where meek souls will receive Him still

The dear Christ enters in

Verse 4

O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born in us today

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel

Today’s Story

Lily: Deliverance. Redemption. Hope. Rescue. Survival. These are the cries of the people. These are often our cries. Cries to God begging for something different, something better, begging for something, anything.

Peyton: God blessed us with free choice, the blessing of living our own path. Every blessing comes with a curse, the curse of free choice is that everyone is blessed with this as well.  We live not only with our choices but also with the choices of everyone else, including the curse of the choices of those that came before us…choices made a long time before us.

Lily: As Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden, unprepared to deal with their nakedness, shame, and fear, they were completely unaware that they were crying out to God, begging for rescue. God blessed them with banishment, opening their eyes to their need for God.

Peyton: In the days of Noah, much like in the days of Lot, the people were crying out to God. Rescue, deliverance, hope. Sadly, even as they cried out to God, they were also living with their own nurtured curse, they were stacking bruise upon bruise, pain upon pain, hate upon hate. God’s rescue was different, it was final. Much like the rescue of those in Sodom, it was the only way to provide deliverance.

Lily: As the Egyptians witnessed the bloodstained doorposts, and the deaths of their eldest sons, they too unconsciously cried out to God. Their rescue followed plagues, pestilence, tainted waters, and darkness…and now, death. For the Egyptians their earthly deliverance was in releasing their own grasp on their slaves and the pressure that put on their politicians.

Peyton: For the Israelites, over seven decades in exile, hard labor, physical plain, hopelessness, squashed hope after squashed hope, and finally, they remembered God. In Remembered they had their deliverance, long before they experienced a physical deliverance.

Lily: Then, 400 years of silence. Four hundred years of fading faith and ever increasing religion and religious practices. Four hundred years of oppression by the political establishment and the religious institution wore the people out, blinded them to the silent God, calloused them to the hope promised centuries before. Still, muted voices were heard, deliverance was not last minute, it came in the right minute. Deliverance came to the now, the present, as well as for eternity. Deliverance, Redemption, Salvation, Presence, Hope.

Peyton: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Music 2 (Away in a Manger/Silent Night Medley)

Away In A Manger

CCLI Song # 38583

James Ramsey Murray | John Thomas McFarland | Martin Luther

Verse 1

Away in a manger no crib for a bed

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay

The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

Verse 2

The cattle are lowing the Baby awakes

But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes

I love Thee Lord Jesus look down from the sky

And stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh

Verse 3

Be near me Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever and love me I pray

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care

And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there

Silent Night

CCLI Song # 27862

Franz Xaver Gruber | John Freeman Young | Joseph Mohr

Verse 1

Silent night holy night

All is calm all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Verse 2

Silent night holy night

Shepherds quake at the sight

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heav’nly hosts sing alleluia

Christ the Savior is born

Christ the Savior is born

Verse 3

Silent night holy night

Son of God love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus Lord at Thy birth

Jesus Lord at Thy birth

Verse 4

Silent night holy night

Wondrous star lend thy light

With the angels let us sing

Alleluia to our King

Christ the Savior is born

Christ the Savior is born

Scripture

All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

All this fulfilled what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

Emmanuel means, “God is with us.” 

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Jesus means, “God is salvation.” 

Matthew 1:19-25

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

Oakeley & Wade

Verse 1

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

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

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord

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

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord

Message        ‘A Righteous Man – Participation’

In 1945, near the end of WWII, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin gathered for the Yalta Conference in Crimea to strategize for a post war world.  This is still considered to be one of the most important diplomatic conferences in history. As the men met, the world anxiously awaited the results of this meeting unaware of the side story that was taking place.  The war was largely over, many of the troops were in the process of heading home, and the world was hopeful as these powerful men and their powerful military officers and high level diplomats were working in, as they described it, a ‘dung coated mess.’ The conditions at the sea side resort where they were meeting were so dire that Winston Churchill renamed the place the ‘Riviera of Hades.’

Bed bugs, lice, freezing cold inside of the lodge, outdated electricity systems, and horrible indoor plumbing issues led to a large ditch being dug outside for the world’s leader to relieve themselves The Russians, in an effort to lift morale, began placing a bottle of vodka in front of each room door every morning. While the effectiveness of the Russian vodka approach was never studied, witness were quick to report that meetings later in the day seems to go much smoother as the alcohol kicked in.

Sides stories and background stories provide enlightenment to all stories. The Bible is chalked full of side and back stories. These stories give us the inside scoop.

In the story of Jesus’ birth, the background characters consist of the lowly, downtrodden, hopeless, and yet good and righteous striving people. There is a common thread that winds among these ‘background’  – they are good. Don’t get me wrong, there are some ‘not good’ background characters in the nativity story, Herod for example…actually, Herod may be it for Christmas badness. And, Herod was not going to change, he had given in to those things that nurture badness, things like paranoia, fear, pride, power and control. Otherwise, we may be left with good people in this story. People like Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, shepherds, pagan wise men, an Inn Keeper that provided a stable when there was nothing in it for him, and Joseph.

Honestly it makes sense to question the need for Joseph in the nativity story. Biologically, he is not necessary but, biology is not the only factor in the eternity. Joseph is an important and necessary character in the story. Joesph’s efforts mirror God’s character, God’s grace, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, and love – Joesph was a good person. In Joseph, we see a man living by the breath of God.

Ironically, it is through the biological unnecessary Joseph that we ultimately see our God. God, whose love is extended not only to those that are biological family members, but also to those grafted onto the family tree, and  even those who, through who have different roots but have been invited to still become dependent on the root of God.

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her fiancé Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18-19).

Joseph was a good guy, a deep down genuinely good person. Joseph was respectful to others and genuine in his walk before God. We first meet Joseph in a time of crisis, as had just found out that his fiancee is pregnant which is biologically impossible news. A conclusion of unfaithfulness is the only rational explanation for Joseph. He would have to be incredibly naive not to assume unfaithfulness. The expected and acceptable response was for Joseph to walk away, maybe even walk away hatefully.

But, Joseph is a good person.

Our first introductory description of Joseph is that he was “a righteous man and unwilling to expose Mary to public disgrace, Joesph planned to dismiss her quietly.” Joseph, who had every right to feel betrayed had already made a noble decision – he was going to act out of love not hate.

God takes this man who planned to Do Good and called him, instead, to Do better, To Be Better, God invites Joesph to be a participant in God’s mysterious plan. God was offering Joseph the opportunity to be a sidekick with an extremely important role the greatest moment in history.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and Joesph named him Jesus.” (Matthew 1:20-21, 23–25)

Think of the sacrifice that Joseph made in accepting God’s offer. He was willing to be seen as the Putz of Nazareth forever more, he was willingly accepting the fact that this would be the strangest family dynamic in history, Joseph was saying yes to a wildly uncertain future.

For 12 years and 9 months Joseph was a key participant in the story of Jesus. Joseph’s role was impacting and lasting.  Joseph cared for  and protected Jesus and his mother but his primary role was to name the baby Jesus, and in doing so, Joseph was permitted to define the person and mission of Joseph in just one word.

Joseph name him Jesus, ’God is Salvation.’

Throughout the Bible we see those who were the ‘One Hit Wonders’ of biblical history yet crucial in their presence. We hear of unnamed people who passed through the Red Sea, a prostitute, those who administered justice. Those who were tortured, suffered mocking,  flogging, and chains. 

The unnamed who were stoned to death, sawn in two, killed by the sword. The destitute, persecuted, and tormented. Those that wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes—  

These unnoticed and usually unknown people,  died without having received their promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them those who did. (Hebrews 11:13-14)

This list of the faithful greats, is a list full of names we know and stories we are familiar with. However, mixed in this list, with equal standing, are names and stories we do not know. Nameless, unnoticed, humans used by God because they were ready to say ‘Yes.’

A simple and obedient ‘Yes’ and the offering of a defining name is Joseph’s lasting legacy. Joseph was chosen by God because of his heart seen in Joseph’s goodness. Joseph was usable to God because he was on a never-ending journey to seek, know, and understand God. This, too, is OUR calling, do good and be ready to say “Yes.”

In the end, Joseph did not need need to fight the battles with the unbelievers, he didn’t need to waste his energy on the deniers, he just needed to say yes to God. He just needed to name the child ‘Jesus – God is Salvation.’ He just needed to continue seeking to do right and to let God make all of his goods into greats.

The story of Joseph, is a side story of our sacrificial God, he was a real life human just like us, committed to doing right. He became a small, yet important, part of something magnificently eternal.

Joseph became a part of the story of Emmanuel, God is with us, he became the definer of Jesus, God is Salvation.

Sociologist Rutger Bregman believes that at our heart humanity is good. Religion, especially Christianity, is unable to agree with this. Most of our Christian institutions, especially those like us who hang on to a lable of evangelical, hold on to a concept called Total Depravity meaning that there is nothing good in us. This is an odd especially for a people who believe that our very life is the breath of God. But, there is good there. We can work tirelessly to hide that good, pushing it down, hiding it under a basket until we forget the it is there but it is there. It calls out to us to participate in the goodness of God. It moves us to let it out of the darkness so the world can see it. And, in the process, God makes that good into great.

Think of good people in scripture, people like Noah whose ‘good’ was attested to by all that had permanently locked all of their goodness away. Noah, a good human, was good and seeking more good, and in the midst, God asked him to participate in a plan. Think of another Joseph, whose brothers had locked their goodness away. Think of apostle Paul whose goodness was almost hidden until he recognized the voice of God over the voices of religious and politicians. All of these key bible character, these key good people, God was able to break through to their goodness to which they each responded with a ‘Yes.’

In this room sit a lot of good people, on line with us are a lot of good people, in churches all around this community and this world right now there are a lot of good people, in homes, jobs, coffee shops, and everywhere around the world, there are a lot of good people. People whose very breath is the breath of God. God is calling all of us to let lift up the basket that is hiding true goodness, to let that good be seen by a world that does not even recognize it is looking for goodness. To see that, to be that, we must walk away from the voices, things, and even institutions that call us to hide good. We must remember that our source of life is God, our deliverer is God, our Salvation is God, our Hope is God, our Peace, is God. God is good, he sent his son, he loves us.

Let’s pray.

Benediction

Lily: As we go, may we be a people of hope. May hope live in our hearts and be visible to all we encounter. May we share hope as we notice the humanity of all and take the time to listen to their story.

Peyton: May we be a people of peace. May peace live in our hearts and be shared with all. May we share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear, by listening to all sides of the stories. May we see, feel, and share peace, as we go out into the wonder of God’s creation.

Lily: May we be people of joy. May joy live in our heart and be shared with all we meet. May we see the good in each other, the good times with each other, as well as the good times to come. May we see, feel, and share joy as we go scatter into the marketplace and public square.

Peyton: May we be a people of love. May we let love live in our heart and shared with all. May love be evident to those we see regularly in our community and those we may never see at the edges of our earth. May love affect our respect for God’s creation and God’s created. May we see, feel, and share love.

Lily: As we go out into the wonder of God’s creation may we share love, joy, peace, and hope with all those that God places in our paths. As we go may we never fail to remember that, even though there may be no vacancy at the inn, there is still a miracle in the stable.

Community

This Saturday, Christmas Eve @ 6pm (online – lord’s supper ready)

Next Sunday – No Worship December 26

‘2022 – 52 weeks of a totally Different perspective of the Bible.’

KY Disaster Relief at GFnorman.com

Covid Best Next

Closing Peace

May the hope of a stable go with us into a world of ‘no vacancy’ signs.

May the joy of a birth go also with you.

Go in hope, peace, joy, and anticipation.

Music 4

Joy To The World (Antioch)

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel & Isaac Watts

Verse 1

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

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

Order, Voices, & Words 12.12.21

Order

Sunday, December 12  (Advent 3), 2021

  • Opening Audio (10:15am) Spotify – ‘Calm Christmas Music’
  • Prayer (10:30am) Rick
  • Video #1 (2:46) 

Call to WorshipMary’s Song of Praise

  • Today’s Story Online – Peyton

In Person-Nikki

  • Music 1                                                        Abbie & Billy

   Go Tell It On The Mountain (John W. Work Jr.)

  • Beyond our Marketplace

Online interview with Neal and Mary Foster (Peace Catalyst)

  • Music 2 Abbie & Billy

  Holy Is His Name (John Michael Talbot)

  • Scripture (Luke1:26-55) Dave Cricklin
  • Music 3/Advent Candle Lighter – D. Nielsen

  Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Oakeley & Wade) Music -Abbie & Billy

  • Message    ‘Advent 3 – A Righteous Might” Rick
  • Benediction Online – Peyton

In Person – Nikki

  • Community Rick
  • Closing Peace                                         Rick
  • Prayer/Joy to the World (Handel & Watts) Rick
  • Closing Audio

Voices and Words 

Prayer

Father God,

There is no miracle as grand as birth. 

As we prepare for the coming of your son, Jesus, create in us new life. 

Transform us so that we may reflect the light of your son.

So that we may become beacons of goodness, kindness, compassion, generosity, honesty, patience, and peace.

For the sake of the one whose name brings deliverance and life to all the world, Jesus Christ, infant king. 

Amen. 

Video

Today’s Story

Nikki: The Lord himself will choose the sign—a child shall be born to a virgin! And she shall call him Immanuel (meaning, “God is with us”). By the time this child is weaned and knows right from wrong, the two kings you fear so much—the kings of Israel and Syria—will both be dead.

Grace: These are the facts concerning the birth of Jesus Christ: His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her fiancé, being a man of stern principle, decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly, as he didn’t want to publicly disgrace her.

Nikki: As Joseph lay awake considering this, he fell into a dream, and saw an angel standing beside him. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “don’t hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a Son, and you shall name him Jesus (meaning ‘Savior’), for he will save his people from their sins.

Grace: This will fulfill God’s message through his prophets— “Listen! The virgin shall conceive a child! She shall give birth to a Son, and he shall be known as the “Emmanuel” (meaning “God is with us”).”

Nikki: When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel commanded and brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her Son was born; and Joseph named him “Jesus.”

Grace: Before anything else existed Jesus was present, Jesus with God. Jesus has always been alive and Jesus is himself. Jesus, present with God, created everything there is—nothing exists that Jesus didn’t make. Eternal life is in Jesus, and this life gives light to all humanity. Jesus life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Nikki: And Jesus became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And those who saw his glory— saw the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father!

Grace: The Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

Nikki: “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ Your son shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God.”

Grace: Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever God wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared.

Nikki: You shall have a son, we will be the Emmanuel which means God is with us.

Music 1

Go Tell It On The Mountain

CCLI Song # 29080

John W. Work Jr.

Chorus

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and ev’rywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

Verse 1

While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light 

Chorus

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and ev’rywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

Verse 2

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed the Savior’s birth

Chorus

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and ev’rywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

Verse 3

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn

Chorus

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and ev’rywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born 

Beyond our Marketplace

Online interview with Neal Foster (Peace Catalyst)

Introduction: Today we go beyond our own Marketplace in our visit with former Grace Fellowship member, Neal Foster. Neal is a South East Region coordinator, stationed in North Carolina with Peace Catalyst. The organization refer to itself as ‘Jesus-followers on a mission to help Christians be better peacebuilders and to partner with our neighbors for more thriving communities. Believing that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that God’s mission is to establish holistic, just peace that brings flourishing in all dimensions of life. Guided by the biblical concept of “shalom,” and the belief that the Church’s job is to embody and live out that shalom now. Peace Catalyst’s goal is to model peacebuilding in their local contexts and to help Christians understand their neighbors, connect with them across lines of difference, and ultimately collaborate with them to create communities where everyone can thrive. Building a movement of Christian peacebuilders for the good of our communities, through working with diverse partners and collaborating with people of all belief systems and backgrounds. 

Question 1: Welcome Neal. Could you start us off by giving us a quick update on your family?

Question 2: Please share with us what barriers and pathways you are currently seeing in your community and in our world in regard to peace building?

Question 3: What, to you and your calling, are the greatest challenges in this season?

Question 4: What are the 3 prayers we could remember for you and your family?

Music 2

Holy Is His Name

CCLI Song # 14497

John Michael Talbot

Verse 1

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 His 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

Chorus

And holy holy
Holy is His name 

Scripture

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. Gabriel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was very perplexed and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Gabriel angel said to her, “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 his kingdom there will have no end.” 

Mary asked “How?”

Gabriel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 

Your relative Elizabeth in her old age is now pregnant in the sixth month even though she was said to be barren. For nothing is impossible with God.” 

Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary quickly went to the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 

Blessed are you who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to you by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”

Luke 1:26-55

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

Oakeley & Wade

Verse 1

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

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Message ‘A Righteous Might – Power’

John the Baptizer was asked, “Who are you? Are you a prophet? Are you Elijah? Are you the Messiah?” To each of these options John’s answer was a confident ‘No.’ 

In the gospel of John’s account, John the Baptizer says something very revelatory that is completely missed by those asking the questions.

“Among you stands one whom you do not know” (John 1:26b). 

The comment solicits no noted response, no looking around for this ‘one we do not know’ nor, on that day, is there any mention of Jesus’ actual presence. John’s statement was a small thing, only nine words in our English, most are actually small words, only a small handful of letters. But still, it is a statement you would not expect to go unquestioned.

For me, it would have been something that nagged me as I walked away and for days thereafter. ‘Was Jesus actually standing there next to me? 

Perhaps John was  speaking about the fact that Jesus had already been around among them, unnoticed, for the past 3 decades? In the temple, in the marketplace, and in the public square. Jesus had been among them throughout his religious training, just standing there unnoticed. For three decades had Jesus been present?

And he shall be called Emmanuel, God is with us.

Over 500 years earlier, a guy named Zerubbabel led the first wave of Israelites out of the Babylonian slavery. The devastation of seeing the once fertile and productive lands, the sight of Jerusalem and the temple now in rubbles left the the 40,000 plus people broken and feeling abandoned by God.  As Zerubbabel attempted to rally them to rebuild, their hopelessness became insurmountable. Zerubbabel felt alone and powerless. God strangely responded to Zerubbabel affirming that he was right, he WAS powerless, but that was okay, because it was not about Zerubbabel’s “might, nor his power, it was by God’s power and might”(Zechariah 4:6).

God is with you, God is your power and might.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a young engaged virgin in the city of Nazareth, telling her that she would bear the Messiah, her question was not dismay but a simple “How?”

God’s persistently answered, “I have always been with you, I remain present with you now, I will be with you always”.

The gospel writer described Mary as blessed because “she believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:45). She didn’t understand but she believed.

There was one final affirmation that Mary needed and received – John the Baptizer, still in his mother’s womb, stood up in the cramped belly yelling “Make straight the paths of the Lord”. (Luke 1:41) 

This final affirmation was all that Mary needed, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Emmanuel, God is with us.

As far as we know, this young teenager needed nothing until she needed everything. Her faith did not exhibit the presence of fear and hesitation, only one simple question, “How?” She was not questioning God’ call, just asking a legitimate question, ’How’. 

Somehow, Mary, understood that God’s call would not be achievable in her power or might, but in God’s power and might all things are possible. This young teenage girl, with every reason to fear and run away, somehow remained present. Maybe that is why God chose her, maybe that is what qualified her to be the mother of the infant Jesus. Maybe, her faith before all of this craziness, was strong enough to sustain through this craziness.

The Price of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, warned his parishioners of the dangers of not depending on God’s power. 

“O churches! take heed lest ye trust in yourselves; take heed lest ye say, ‘We are a respectable body,’ ‘We are a mighty number,’ ‘We are a potent people;’ 

take heed lest ye begin to glory in your own strength; for when that is done, ‘Ichabod’ shall be written on your walls and your glory shall depart from you. 

Remember, that he who was with us when we were but few, must be with us now we are many, or else we must fail; and he who strengthened us when we were but as ‘little in Israel,’ 

must be with us, now that we are like ‘the thousands of Manasseh,’ or else it is all over with us and our day is past.” (Spurgeon)

Reading Mary’s story between the lines we recognize the enormity of the small things. It is easy to trust God in the gigantic things, things like a virgin birth. However, it is the small things are the greatest challenge to our trust in God’s power and might. In the small things we must still show up, the small things require us to act instead of just watching, However, even in the small things, our actions are unattainable by our power and might. The small things require us to continue to be present in the impossible – when we see no chance in hell of our survival, completion, or victory.

For Mary, the small things, the nausea, the gossip, the shameful looks, the unbearable heat of the summer sun in the ninth month, the backaches, the exhaustion, every moment filled with one huge question, “Will this child every be born?!”

Everytime the baby jolted her with a strong kick against the inside of her rib cage, every morning when she attempted to rise from her pallet and every evening as she struggled to sleep – all of these were literal reminders that “God is Here”.

“The Angel did not warn me about the small things,” Mary must have thought. “There was no warning that the small things would be the most daunting. It is in the midst of our human exhaustion, the accompanying pain, tired muscles, the extended isolation and aloneness – those times when showing up in God’s power and strength becomes the greatest challenge to trusting in God’s power and might. 

Centuries before, Zerubbabel too found that the small things were the greatest challenge. The day to day exhaustion of building the temple, clearing out rubble yet piles that never seemed to shrink, knowing the same piles awaited the next morning.  Keeping watch for invasions from the enemies who wanted to stop God’s work. Small things like a missed meal, a thirst that could not be quenched, desert winds and pelting sand slapping you in the face. Small things, which, when piled up, made it impossible to see anything else, blinding you to the HUGE things already accomplished in God’s power and might. Huge things like surviving seven decades of slavery, a miraculous deliverance and return to home. But those piles of rubble, unending tasks, constant needs and emergencies, anxiety and frustration, are blinding. Trusting in God’s power and might is easily abandoned while all you see are the enormous piles of small things. Small things lead us to feel like God is absent. Carrying on when you are sure you can no longer carry on is the greatest challenge to trusting in God’s power and might. To get up every morning, to push through every day, leaves us on the edge of hopeless.

Abraham and Sarah could testify to this truth. God’s promise seemed a distant fantasy becoming more and more irrelevant with each passing day. Soon they replaced God’s power and might with their own lacking power and might.

Small things cloud our view of God’s power, they confuse our reliance on God’s might. God has given us a great metaphor in the Christmas season, a season when the small things can easily, and quickly, bring anxiety in place of God’s power, a time when joy becomes a constant struggle, a time when trust becomes a burden, a time when we fail to notice God’s hand in the huge things, we miss the truth that, even in the redundant small things, Emmanuel, God is with us. 

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? Christmas came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. 

And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Emmanuel, God is with us.

Let’s pray. 

Benediction

Nikki: A child was born and his name was Jesus, he was Emmanuel, the evidence that God is with us.

Grace: God is present, God is with us. God accompanies us even in the small things, the mundane, the monotonous, the never-ending, the ‘get through it’ things.

Nikki: Don’t be afraid, for God is with you, God is present.

Grace: Don’t be afraid, for God is with us, God is here, and God will be present with us away from here. God is out there.

Nikki: Now we go, we go from here, we go out there. We go to our marketplace, we go to our public square. We go with God’s presence to all the places where God is present.

Grace: It may be scary, it may be isolating, it may be frightening, it may be lonely. 

Nikki: But, we have reason to not be scared to not be frightened because we are not isolated we are not alone.

Grace: Emmanuel, God is with us.

Community 

Community

Next Sunday – ‘3rd Sunday of Advent – A Righteous Man’ (Matthew 1:1-25)

Christmas Eve @ 6pm (online – lord’s supper ready)

No Worship December 26

2022 – 52 weeks of a totally Different perspective of the Bible.’

Covid Best Next 

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in hope, in anticipation, in peace, and in joy. 

Music 4

Joy To The World (Antioch)

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel & Isaac Watts

Verse 1

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

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

Order, Voices, & Words

Order

Sunday, December 5  (Advent 2), 2021

Opening Audio(10:15am)

Spotify – Calm Christmas Music

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:33)

Call to Worship – Silent Night (Heavenly Peace) Bowe, Maverick City, and We the Kingdom

Live

Prayer Rick

Music 1                                                        Abbie & Billy

   Angels We Have Heard On High (Barnes & Chadwick)

Today’s Story Online – Mercer

In Person-?

Music 2 Abbie & Billy

  O Holy Night (Adam & Dwight) – No Slides

Scripture (Luke 3:1-18) Dave Cricklin

Music 3/Advent Candle Lighters – Scoggins

  Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Oakeley & Wade) Music -Abbie & Billy

Message    ‘Advent 2 – A Righteous Man” Rick

Benediction Online – Mercer

In Person – Beth

Community Rick

Closing Peace                                         Rick

Prayer/Joy to the World Rick

  Joy to the World (Handel & Watts)

Closing Audio

Spotify – Calm Christmas MusicVoices and Words 

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

With joy and awe we praise you for claiming us as your sons and daughters, and for pouring your Holy Spirit upon us. 

Help us to prepare this earth for your glory, and shine your light on all your faithful children, 

for the sake of the one whose birth and baptism brought renewal and transformation to this world, Jesus Christ.

Amen. 

Music 1

Angels We Have Heard On High (Deo)

CCLI Song # 7149964

Barnes & Chadwick

Verse 1

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly swinging o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

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

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Verse 3

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Today’s Story – No Slides

Beth: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” 

Malachi 3:1-2

Mercer: A voice cries out in the wilderness: “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

Beth: Then there appeared to Zechariah an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “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. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

Luke 1:11-17

Mercer: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:76-79

Beth: We must not miss how subversive John the Baptizer was. The word of God arrived not from the royalty of politics and government, nor from Israel’s religious establishment. It did not come from someone finely dressed living  in an expensive palace, nor from the leaders in the Jerusalem temple. Instead, God’s word come did not come from the halls of power  but from a wild and wooly man stepping out of the desert, on the fringes of society rather than in its halls of power. 

Mercer: This was all acceptable until John opened his mouth saying,“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” He cautions the crowds not to rely on their ancestry to save them, and warns that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Beth: The crowds asked, “What then should we do?”. John’s response is simple and direct: “share your food and clothing with those who are in need.”

Mercer: His baptism was much more than just external act of repentance, it was an internal preparation for the coming Messiah. His message was for everyone, including the tax collectors and the soldiers. It was a reminder of all the things that matter to God, things such as justice, the poor, the vulnerable, the victims of injustice, and the downtrodden. 

Music 2

O Holy Night – No Slides

CCLI Song # 32015

Adam & Dwight

Verse 1

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
O night divine

Verse 2

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
O night divine 

Scripture

John went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:”


‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. … all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

“Do not say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from stones – every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 

Tax collectors asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” John said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 

Soldiers asked, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

People were filled with expectation, questioning if John might be the Messiah. 

John replied, “I baptize you with water; but one is coming who is more powerful than me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.” 

John proclaimed the good news to the people.

Luke 3:1-18 

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

C. Frederick Oakeley | John Francis Wade

Verse 1

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

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

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

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Message ‘A Righteous Word’

Sometimes hope can lose its focus, get off course, forget the core of the hope, abandon the true source of the hope itself. Sometimes hope is overcome by fantasy – guided by selfish agendas and one dimensional outcomes. Sometimes hope quits being hope and descends into a passive hatefulness and vengeful retributions. 

With our Hope, we sometimes hope need a period of debriefing to prepare us for the realities of hope’s fulfillment. Hope, even before fulfillment, often times needs to enter a season of self reckoning where we pause to ask the question, “Am I ready and willing to be present in this Hope fulfilled regardless of how it plays out?”

Sometimes, often times, most times – we are not ready for God’s answer, we are not prepared for all that accompanies that fulfillment leaving us to deal with disappointment, frustration, and aggravation.

On November 11, 1918 the armistice ending World War 1 was signed. At the time it was considered to be a fulfillment of hope and prayers for all the world.  At point during our four years of hoping and praying here in the U.S. as well as all around the globe, the hope and prayers for a quick end to the war morphed into the hope this would be the ‘War to end all Wars’. After the rejoicing settled down and reality began to be more and more visible, humanity stood at the site where hope and truth had met, a place that few were truly prepared to stand. There the hopeful stood, attempting to grasp the reality of over 16 million dead bodies of soldiers and civilians. As unity began to disappear we found an increased prejudice, hatred, and nationalism in our nation as well as nations around the world. On top of this, many could not help but recognize the possible horrors ahead as news traveled of new weapon technology and even chemical warfare. Economic uncertainty, revolutions, isolationism, a pandemic, and then, another World War. We were not ready for our hope to be fulfilled.

It was not the wrong time for Hope’s fulfillment but, instead, it was the undeniable evidence that we had not prepared for, and looked ahead to, the day we would see our hope become a reality. Humanity had been praying and hoping but we had not really been expecting, considering, or planning – we were not prepared. 

Preparation is not really a human trait, it requires work and sacrifice.

On this, our second Sunday of advent 2021, our candle is Truth and Reality, both of which are companions of The Word.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. 

What has come into being in the Word is life, and the life is the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through Jesus. 

John was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, Jesus, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  

John testified about Jesus and cried out, “This is Jesus, of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 

Jesus, God’s only Son has made God known. When the religious leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” John confessed “I am not the Messiah.” 

Then they said to him, “Well, who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. 

Then they asked John, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 

John answered them, “I only baptize with water, but there is one already among that I am not worthy to even untie the thong of his sandal.”

John 1:1-27 (NRSV)

Notice that John does not call for a resurrection against the oppressors or the religious establishment. His call for actions are to prepare the people for Jesus – not actions of revolt or rebellion, they are not hateful or demeaning – they are all personal and positive actions.

  • “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
  • “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor.’
  • “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

They are all ‘DO BETTER’ and ‘ BE BETTER’ commands. They are all very doable. 

An  Action – Do stuff that shows you are truly repentant, let people see a much greater proof than a mere dunking in dirty water.

A Mentality – Recognize that you are the one responsible for your choice to follow or to not God, no one else, not even your ancestors.’

A Love – Love others as you love your self…as much as you love your stuff, your rights, your freedoms, your agendas, your religion, your culture, your …

John is bringing us to the very real and very human efforts necessary for us to be prepared to recognize and follow Jesus, AND, they are all the actions of something much deeper.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

ποιετε εθείας τς τρίβους Κυρίου

(Poieite eutheias tas tribous Kyriou)

Make straight (level or true) the (much traveled road) path of the Lord.

John is saying this command to a people for whom faith had become a series of religious actions. Make sacrifices, travel to holy destinations, wear religious approved clothing, follow religious morality rules, and so forth. Faith had become religion and religion had become a series of hurdles and detours distracting us from faith, hinder us from looking and listening for God. God’s path for humanity, the path that they led us to God, had taken on turns, dead ends, missing bridges, and a constant barrage of potholes. Religion had become a series of hoops to jump through and little else.  

John called the people to simplify their faith, to make it a path that focused not on hoops and practices but on truth and love. A faith that was centered in the heart as well as the mind. A faith that empowered caring instead of a practice of meeting institutional obligations. John was calling the people to God’s truth, to God’s reality, not a version of truth or even a human practice of truth. John was calling them to the life Jesus would live out in front of them. 

Notice one other element of this story – the religious leaders. They came to John and asked if He was the Messiah. They were actually open to the possibility. However, it was the insinuations of John’s preparations that would eventually offend them. Nothing that John, or even Jesus, said was new, it was the very words of their Law and prophets. However, it was the reminder of truth, truth that cast a revealing light on the paths of religion , that was uncomfortable and unacceptable.

“We’d better get on with it.” The Apostle Paul later says to the believers,  “Strip down what you do not need to wear, start running—and never quit! Don’t carry extra religious fat, no parasitic sins or heartless religious practices. 

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this same race we are in. Study how Jesus did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed and an exhilarating finish alongside God. 

Jesus could put up with anything along the way: the Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again and again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through.  That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1b-3 (MSG)

John is using very raw and honest words meant to speak to the heart and mind. The people had painted pictures of Jesus in their minds which were would not match up the Jesus they were about to meet. Instead, the reality of following Jesus would prove to be a call to sacrifice, filled with uncomfortable moments, and an all encompassing invitation to follow Christ. It would be a call to be loving, merciful, and compassionate. It would be the truth, it would be a light that would shine through the darkness, and on many places they would prefer no to be lit up.

We look at Easter as the gift of God’s sacrifice and at Christmas as the gift of Jesus birth. However, the gift is the same, the gift is the sacrifice. God’s most difficult moment was seeing the Son on the cross, the excruciating requirement of forsaking his own son – however, the most painful moment, was giving the son in a totally fragile and dependent state to a people who had repeatedly rejected the Father and would, ultimately, crucify the this beloved only son. The birth was the initial moment of God’s sacrifice for all of humanity.

Christmas seasons is not just a time for an endearing story. It is instead, an annual moment at the intersection of our hope and truth. A confrontation with Truth. It is the reminder that God is active and present in our life now just as God was present then. It is a reminder of our intentional God. Our God who works in every moment of our reality, bringing light in the darkness, light that cannot be extinguished. A reminder that God is active even we God cannot be seen, or even heard. Thousands of years after that first gift was given, this season is a reminder of our need for preparation. A preparation that moves from hope to truth. Hope in the reality of God’s presence, hope in the our honest reality. 

A preparation that tells us to do and be better. A preparation that calls us to be hope and light bearers, living out the sacrifice, mercy, compassion, of the original gift. Not depending on who we are related to, who we know, or even the impressive nature of our life story. It is a continuous journey of hope and truth and a consistent preparedness at the intersection of the two.

God still sends messengers.

Messengers like John the baptizer to remind us of God’s promise and our need to be prepared, 

Messengers like pandemics that reveal to us our inattention to God’s call to Love, 

Messengers like loss to make us aware of God’s call to trust in God alone. 

Messengers that call out to us daily 

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Let’s pray.

Benediction

Beth: As we go today, we go in a constant pursuit of preparedness. Prepared to recognize God. Prepared to follow God. Prepared to seek the path set before us by God.

Mercer: We go in the way of the Word, the Truth, the Deliverer, the Redeemer. Our hope and our reality.

Beth: We seek to follow the path of God.

Mercer: We work to bear the fruits worthy of presenting to God.

Beth: We determine to seek God and no other.

Mercer: We commit ourself to serving others.

Beth: We go out from here with joy and awe praising God for giving us his own.

Mercer: We leave this place as God’s beloved.

Beth: We leave this place with hope.

Mercer: We go from here redeemed by God’s sacrificial gift that first appeared in a manger.

Beth: We go from here to a world that God loves.

Community

Community

Next Sunday – ‘3rd Sunday of Advent – A Righteous Might’ (Luke 1:26-55)

Christmas Eve @ 6pm

No Worship December 26

2021 Theme ‘2022 – 52 weeks of a totally Different perspective of the Bible.’

Covid Best Next

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in hope, in anticipation, in peace, and in joy.

Music 4

Joy To The World (Antioch)

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel & Isaac Watts

Verse 1

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

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

Order, Voices, & Words 11.28.21 Advent 2021 Hope

Order

Sunday, November 28 (Advent 1), 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:08)

Call to Worship – The Holly and the Ivy

Live

Prayer                                Rick

Music 1                                                               Abbie & Billy

   Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Wesley & Mendelssohn-Bartholdy)

Today’s Story                            Online – Randy

                                    In Person-Segun

Music 2                                Abbie & Billy

  O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Neale & Helmore)

Scripture (Jeremiah 33:14-16)                Dave Cricklin

Music 3/Advent Candle                    Lighters – Scoggins

       Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Oakeley & Wade)    Music -Abbie & Billy

Message    ‘Advent 1 – Hope”                Rick

Benediction                            Online – Randy

                                    In Person – Segun

Community                            Rick

Closing Peace                                                    Rick

Prayer/Joy to the World                    Rick

  Joy to the World (Handel & Watts)

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices and Words

Prayer

Righteous one, to you alone we lift our souls;

In you alone, we place our trust;

For you alone we wait all day long.

For you are the God of our salvation, abounding in mercy and steadfast love.

Help us remain alert and watchful for the coming of your promised one

The one who comes with power and glory,

The one drawing near to bring our salvation.

Amen.

The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009

Music 1

Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn)

CCLI Song # 27738

Charles Wesley | Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Verse 1

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

Today’s Story 

Hope is the thread woven through the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation we see God’s gift of hope. A hope that cannot be destroyed, a hope that is never hollow. Hope is our constant.

Hope looks like a son given to Eve in a time of darkness. Hope looks like a boat for Noah and his family, a boat that required great physical effort. Hope looks like a sense of belonging and home to Abraham and Sarah.

Hope looks like a dream to Joseph who was yet to face years of betrayal, rejection, imprisonment, and despair. Hope looks like blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, and death to Moses.

Hope looks like an impenetrable fortress to Joshua as he led the Israelites around Jericho. Hope looks like an empty cupboard to the widow at Zarephath.

Hope looks like terrifying Serephim to Isaiah. Hope looks like an absurd reassurance to the enslaved Israelites. Hope looks like a destroyed temple and devastated farm lands on the horizon.

Hope looks like an impossible pregnancy. Hope looks like an explanation from an angel. Hope looks like an insecure ruler. Hope looks like the support from a relative. Hope looks like an unnecessary and perilous journey. Hope looks like a no vacancy sign.

Hope looks like a bright star, a smelly stable, unexpected guests, and a new born son laying in a feeding trough.

Hope looks like a remembered promise, a recognized divine action, a strengthened faith, and an action of gratitude. Hope looks like a light shining in the darkness. Hope is here. Joy to the world.

Music 2

O Come O Come Emmanuel

CCLI Song # 31982

John Mason Neale | Thomas Helmore

Verse 1

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

Chorus

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Verse 3

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

Chorus

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Scripture

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David;

and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

C. Frederick Oakeley | John Francis Wade

Verse 1

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

Chorus

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord

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

Chorus

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord

Message        ‘A Righteous Branch’

The first rejection of God, infamously came from a woman, who was also the first person to recognize God’s hand and God’s actions post garden. She was the first to see that God had not taken away hope, hope was still there only now a bit more difficult to see. Noah, upon the offer of saving his family, diligently followed a divine blueprint to build an ark – the irony of building a boat on dry land was his hope in the midst of pure evil. Abraham, called by a God he did not know, to go to a land that was not named, where a promise was waiting of home, family, and belonging awaited provided him hope for an unchartered journey. Joseph suffered through rejection, betrayal, imprisonment, holding onto hope merely because of a childhood dream. A hopeless man running from his past, shunned by his family, Moses stood on holy ground and soon found his hope in plagues and pestilence. A widow, along with her son, facing death by starvation, trusted God’s call and found hope in a bottomless jar of oil. A promise of faithfulness allowed hope to grow and flourish among the enslaved Israelites for seven decades until they recognized the God of all hope. Hope in the midst of 400 hundred years of God’s silence strengthened a teenage virgin and her fiancé to trust in a now, not so silent God, as they labored in a stable waiting to give birth to Hope Incarnate – The Messiah – God in the flesh.

“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”

G.K. Chesterton, Quoted in Signs of the Times, April 1993

“Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions.

It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not self serving dreaming.

It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith.

It is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God.

I pray to GOD and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.”

Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

Hope is justifiable anticipation. Hope is the ability to look forward because we have taken stock of that which is behind, we have calculated our gratefulness and turned our gaze to the future. Hope is the trust that God is behind and ahead of us as well as next to us, under us, and over us. Hope is founded on God’s faithful presence.

Hope is the observance of the founded reality on which Advent lies. The recognition of a people who felt abandoned for centuries, a people who had taken stock of God’s apparent absence and adjusted their expectations of God’s promise. Advent is a call to us to see those who noticed, who were looking in the midst of a people who had forgotten. Advent brings us to the same call as the would be contemporaries of Jesus who had forgotten God’s presence and God’s promise. A call to us all to recognize God is with us.

Advent is “a period of waiting in the darkness. It is a season in which we are caught between joyful expectation and the harsh realities of the present condition while we wait for the promise to be fulfilled.

And the discipline of this season puts the church at odds with contemporary American culture, in which the holiday season consists of bright lights and celebrations and packages tied with neat bows.

Ironically, this experience of being out of sync with our surroundings may attune us more deeply to the nature of Advent. In Advent, we live in the unsettling tension between what is and what will be.”

Anne Stewart

The core foundation of our hope filled anticipation is God’s promise of the Righteous Branch.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David;

and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Jeremiah wrote this from a prison cell, in a time when the Babylonians, and their allies, were wrapping up their assault with the final assault on Jerusalem moments away. For Jeremiah, his dismal fate and present condition were all the more difficult because he is largely without allies, he, and mainly his message were persona non grata. No one wanted to hear bad news. The current message that God gave Jeremiah to communicate was especially unwelcome.

“The Chaldeans are coming in to fight and to fill [the houses of Jerusalem] with the dead bodies of those whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their wickedness.” 

Jeremiah 33:5

Sadly, self defensiveness kept the Israelites from hearing the rest of God’s message,

“I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. 

I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. 

And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them;

they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.”

Jeremiah 33:7-9

God’s message of imminent doom was accompanied with an even greater message of eternal hope.  God gave the Israelites a constant stream of Hopeful messages which they continually missed. Our pride immersed in our misery deafens and blinds us to hope.

Attempting to reach everyone, especially the visual learners, God had given an earlier message of hope. Jeremiah purchased a piece of land. An environmentally devastated land that was about to be taken by the conquerors, and yet, Jeremiah in a public act of hope, Jeremiah made an investment. An unsound, unwise, ridiculous investment in the land that God promised would be restore to the Israelites.

However later, as Jeremiah speaks from prison, all that is visible to the Israelites is this apocalyptic moment. Hopeless, painful, and final.

God’s hopeful message is not just a promise that God has not forgotten them. It is a promise that God is present and that God will continue to be present even as God seems absent. An assurance that this is not the end of the Israelites, nor is it  the end of the promised land, and, it is not the end of Jerusalem. It is not the their end.

This was not the only, or even the main, focus of God’s message of hope. God’s message of hope, God’s message of deliverance, God’s message of redemption was eternal. This hope was not just for the Israelites, it was for all. It was, it is, for us.

A righteous branch. God says there will be a righteous branch.

A fulfillment of a promise to Abraham, a remembering of a nod made to Jacob, an affirmation of an assurance of a lineage, a promise of a descendant upon the throne. A righteous branch.

Think about the family trees we see on so many ancestry sites. Each tree with different branches, and branches off of branches, all tied into the original trunk of the tree. The righteous branch that was a descendant branch from King David and before that to Abraham, and before that to Adam. 27 branches back to David, and additional 13 branches back to Abraham, 19 back to from Seth, 1 more back to Adam, and finally one to the trunk, the source, the creator – God.

Jeremiah was declaring the promised hope of Humanity’s Family Tree, God  to Jesus. Holy to Righteous. Breath of Life to Redeemer of Life. Jesus.

For thus says the Lord: “David shall never lack a descendant to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the levitical priests shall never lack a man to serve.

Thus says the Lord: If any of you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night would not come at their appointed time, 

only then could my covenant with my servant David be broken, so that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with my ministers the Levites. 

Just as the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will increase the offspring of my servant David, and the Levites who minister to me.

IF I had not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 

then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David and not choose any of his descendants as rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will have mercy upon them.”

Jeremiah 33:17-26

Jesus is our Righteous Branch. Jesus is our Promised Deliverer. Jesus is our Merciful Redeemer. Jesus is our Hope.

Advent, this time, is our Hopefulness as we await hope.

Let’s pray.

Benediction

May God reignite the flame of hope within us, filling our hearts with light, evicting the darkness, and instilling in us a new vision of His glory.

We now go as light-bearers to a world in darkness, we as hope-carriers to to a humanity in despair.

We go in the name of Christ, in the love of God and in the power of the Spirit.

We are a people of hope. May we let hope live in our heart. May we show the hope of Christ to all we encounter.

May we share hope by noticing God’s breath in all of humanity.

May we share hope by listening to the story of others. May we expand our hope as we pray for our world.

In this Advent season, may we experience hope anew and refreshed.

As you go out into the wonder of God’s creation, may we share hope with all of those we meet.

Community

Next Sunday – ‘Second Sunday of Advent – A Righteous Word (Luke 3:1-18 ’

2022 Budget Zoom, December 1 @ 7pm

Christmas Eve @ 6pm

No Worship December 26

2021 Theme ‘2022 – 52 weeks of a totally Different perspective of the Bible.’

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in hope, in anticipation, in peace, and in joy.

Music 4

Joy To The World (Antioch)

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts

Verse 1

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

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

Order, Voices, & Words 11.07.21

Order

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Opening Audio(10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Live/OnLine

Prayer Rick

#1 ONE Video #1 (2:58)

Call to Worship

Holy Sanctus (Jessamyn Rains)

Live/OnLine

Today’s Story Online – Sherri

In Person-Dave

Music 1                                                        Billy

   Lord I Lift Your Name On High (Founds)

Beyond Our Marketplace w/Steven Reeves Zoom -Steven Reeves

Rick

Music 2 Billy

   Your Lovingkindness (Furk)

Message    ‘Unforgivable – Blasphemy” Rick

Music 3 Billy

   I Will Never Be The Same (Bulock)

Community Rick

Benediction Online – Sherri

In Person-Dave

Closing Peace                                         Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices and Words 

Prayer

God, you call us to pay attention.

You call us to hear and see.

You call us to open our eyes, and to clean out our ears.

You call us to serve, to see, to hear, and to lavish in Your goodness.

We are a people battered, we hide in the attics and closets.

We lick our wounds feeling abandoned and ignored.

We give power to the thugs and thieves, we absorb their lies and deceit.

We ask if you are present.

Lord, you are the one who created the cosmos, & stretched out the skies.

You laid out the earth and all that comes from it.

You breath life into those You create You give us life through your breath..

You have called us to live right and well, opening eyes and releasing prisoners

You have chosen Jesus, Your servant, with whom You are well pleased.

You bathed him in your spirit, you immersed with him your life.

You prepared him to not be arrogant, showy, but to stand firm with compassion.

You call him to stand on truth, to stand firmly, and to stand persistently.

Father, you call us to sing a brand new song, to sing your praises everywhere.

You call the seas, the deserts, and the mountains to sing this new song of praise.

You call us to sing Your presence, Your praises through our lives.

You call us to lives that shout and scream Your glory.

Amen

Isaiah 42 

Today’s Story 

Dave: Once again, our story beings with food. 

Sherri: Food seems to be a consistent theme throughout the Bible..

Dave: I love stories that begin with food.

Sherri: This story begins with food on the Sabbath.

Dave: I love stories that begin with any day, or night. Especially like last week’s story which began with too much food.

Sherri: Today’s story begins with too little food.

Dave: Been there. I completely understand that kind of hunger day. That is why I have food delivered.

Sherri: This story opens with the hunger of Jesus’ disciples. Not a spiritual type of hunger but real physical, stomach growling, hunger. They were walking through a field and they just start eating stuff growing there. The  problem was that they were really hungry and they ate so much that it looked more like they were harvesting the field.

Dave: And, it was the Sabbath…let me guess, the religious leaders complained that Jesus’ disciples should not be working on the Sabbath.

Sherri: And, just like we saw last week, Jesus confronted their heartless religious rules. Sure God had said to keep the Sabbath holy but he had not intended for it to be defined and controlled in the ways that leaders had established.

Dave: The leaders were so focused on their rules that they were unable to see Jesus, the Deliverer standing right in front of them.

Sherri: Soon, their complaints turned to accusations, and then the accusations revealed something very ugly about the leaders.

Dave: A man with a withered hand stood before Jesus to be healed. He had lived his entire life with disability and Jesus was going to heal him. Healing was also against the rules. Jesus asked the leaders if they would rescue a sheep that fell into a well if it was the only sheep they had. The leaders felt this was a low blow.

Sherri: Of course they were going to rescue their only sheep. They loved that sheep, plus it was part of their work. Work, of course, was forbidden on the Sabbath. Suddenly the leaders recognized they had landed themself in a corner.

Dave: The best thing to do when you are in a corner is to turn your failure into an attack. They came out of the corner swinging. “Well, they shouted, if you heal that man on the Sabbath you are doing the work of Satan!”

Sherri:I imagine even some of the leaders began backing away at this moment, attempting to disassociate themself from this attack.

Dave: Especially when Jesus’ response became about Blasphemy and Unforgivable actions. Jesus words had to sting. ““Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Sherri: Then the leaders used their failed ‘attack from the corner’ strategy, they, like the crowds from last week, asked for a sign.

Dave: They told Jesus he couldn’t heal the suffering man and now they said show us a sign. They just weren’t getting it, they were not listening, they were unable to hear.

Sherri: Sadly, they had made the full move from rejecting Jesus to rejecting the Holy Spirit.  A move that is impossible to come back from. They had stuck their feet in cement and let it dry. They now were unable to open their eyes, they were unable to open their ears.

Dave: Their tree could no longer produce good fruit. 

Music 1

Lord I Lift Your Name On High

CCLI Song # 117947/ Rick Founds

Verse

Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad You’re in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us

Chorus

You came from heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay


From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high 

Beyond Our Marketplace w/Steven Reeves

Introduction: Stephen Reeves serves as the executive director of Fellowship Southwest (the organization I went to the border with 2 years ago), he is also and director of advocacy for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a national leader in the effort to reform predatory lending practices and has led CBF churches to be more active in advocacy for immigrants and refugees. He is the co-author of The Mission of Advocacy: A toolkit for congregations. He currently serves as co-chair of the Center for Responsible Lending’s  Faith & Credit Roundtable, he is  a member of the CBF/Baptist Women in Ministry and serves on the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force.  Steven worked in several public policy positions  including serving at Staff attorney for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, DC.  And, for this I apologize…Steven is a graduate of University of Texas and from The Texas Tech University School of Law…Let’s give him a chance anyway.

Question 1: Welcome Steven, we appreciate you being with us as we seek to have a clearer view beyond our marketplace.  Could you begin by explaining the work of Fellowship Southwest?

Question 2: Recently we have seemed to hear less about the border until the Haitian Refugee influx at the border. Could you help us understand what went on at the height of that situation and how it is now?

Question 3: I know that all of the pastors and workers on both sides of the border, and yourself, have been devastated by the remain in Mexico policy. Could you help us to understand why that is so dangerous and harmful?

Pop Question: We didn’t discuss this question – do you think our border problems, especially our southern border, will ever be effectively addressed?

‘Goodness is rooted in God and reflects God’ 

Baptist Standard “On the Way,” podcast

Music 2

Your Loving Kindness

CCLI Song # 818174/Billy Funk

Verse

Father of love
Lord of all creation
I will bless Your name
Forever and ever


I will declare
Your grace and Your mercy
And tell of Your unfailing love

Chorus

Your lovingkindness
Is good to all
Your wings of mercy
Lift me when I fall


Your lovingkindness


Meets my ev’ry need
You cleanse me from unrighteousness
And You give new life to me

Message‘Unforgiveable-Blasphemy’

The Israelites, while still in Sinai following the giving of the Law and the recent completion of building the Tabernacle – they would soon be leaving Sinai in their journey to the Promised Land. During this time of obedience and waiting a young man gets into a fight with anther man. During the fight, the young man says something that shocks those within hearing distance. The words are uncomfortable instilling fear within all of the people.

The people were very fragile at this point. They had seen God’s power and heard God’s call to Holiness. This was a time when God was continually present and yet insecurity was a constant. The people ran to Moses asking “what should we do?” An unsure Moses asked God… 

God said, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who actually heard the young man say what he said, lay their hands on his head, and let them stone him. Speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin. One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the offended people shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.”

Leviticus 24:14-16

We do not know the actual words spoken by the young man, God does that a lot in the Bible – leaving us to speculate what was said or what was meant. Giving us an incentive to dig deeper in our search for truth.

In this moment, however, there is one thing that we do see. We see humans, not God, given the responsibility to carry out the sentence of death. “They shall lay their hands on him.” This was not a mob scene where ‘lay their hands on him’ meant to grab him and drag him to the city square. This was a holy moment in which the people accepted the need for this sentence. The words of this young man did not harm or threaten God, they were, however, a threat to this people. The people, were still spiritually weak, easily persuaded. They had seen their own weakness in action when Moses took too long on Mount Sinai.

As the people put their hands on the head of this young man they grieved. This moment was an indictment on the people. This was their wake up call. With each painful stone that they picked up and threw, as they watched the pain of their actions they realized that this should not happen again. This was their epiphany that they needed to be stronger and healthier, wiser, more discerning, and ready to remain unharmed by those they would eventually encounter, those that did not believe in or respect their God.

While uncomfortable to us, the stoning of this young man, was a call to be better, be stronger.

Blasphemy. One of those words that is not so easy to define yet it makes us squirm.

In  2014 our Oklahoma politicians did define it in Statute 21-901, ‘Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.’

R.L.1910, § 2398. Justia US Law. 

John Adams wrote,

“We think ourselves possessed, or at least we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact. There exists throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself, it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not much better.”

John Adams letter to Thomas Jefferson

The Adams-Jefferson Letters, January 23, 1825.

We are accustomed to hearing accusations of Blasphemy, followed by brutal punishments, coming from countries where Sharia law is instituted, which we then blame it on their Islamic faith. However, Christianity and Judaism are the primary Holy Books that define a punishment for Blasphemy.

“Nowhere does the Koran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment. In Islam, blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.” 

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Scholar

In Leviticus a young convicted man is stoned to death and then later, we  read Paul claiming to be a forgiven blasphemer.

Jesus said, “People will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Matthew 12:31-32

What is blasphemy to one group or person can just as easily be sacred to  another. Blasphemy is an act of, and an attack on, the heart. Whatever it is, Blasphemy is an act of burning a bridge, turning our back, of rejection usually acted out in a hateful manner. Our words and actions are a sign of our Blasphemy not the actual blasphemy. True blasphemy against the  Spirit is a nurtured condition of our heart.

Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter.’

Mark 3:28

And, immediately after that, Jesus says, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

Mark 3:29

Is Blasphemy an unforgivable sin? No. Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit an unforgivable sin? Yes.

So, what the heck does that mean?!

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy he begins to bring Pastor  Timothy up to speed on some of his congregants, especially 2 men in his church. “By rejecting conscience, certain persons [in your church] have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

I Timothy 1:19b-20 (NRSV)

I have turned them over to Satan, so that they may Learn not to blaspheme.”

Paul makes 2 profound statements in this letter to Timothy. First, he states that had delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander “over to Satan”. These two men’s actions are not named (once again God leaves us with questions to motivate us to think), however, the prior thread of Paul’s warning is against their denial of the resurrection of Christ.

The second statement made by Paul is the reason for Paul’s shocking statement – in this he hopes that they will “be taught not to blaspheme.” Paul’s great compassionate and merciful hope is that these 2 men, and their followers, may be saved on “day of the Lord.” (I Timothy 1:19)

Paul’s deep desire is that they come to know the grace and mercy of the Lord while they are still able, before they actually blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. They can Still learn, they can still NOT Blaspheme – the choice is Their choice. There is still hope.

Some live with a fear of being found guilty of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Truth is, if you are concerned – the Spirit is still present. What we need  is to be alert to, however, is the process which leads to Blasphemy. Blasphemy is never an isolated moment, it is a journey, a process. Hymenaeus and Alexander were on the journey TO Blasphemy, there was still hope.

Unforgivable Blasphemy is permanent shut down of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives. In Sodom, we saw a community of people, inside the city gates, who had gradually turned their backs on God and turning to all forms of disrespect, hatred and hatefulness, void of all boundaries, anything was game, and the game always aimed to be more and more evil to everyone and anyone everytime. Pure hedonism became the norm where no respect for self or others existed. Lot in a moment of pure selfishness, taking the best land from his uncle Abraham, set his family one the Blasphemy path with his initial selfishness and greed. Ultimately, Lot offers his own daughters to suffer to safe his own reputation. Not even 10 righteous men could be found within the walls of the city. Lot and his family were entrenched in Sodom, they had become a part of the community and the community had become a part of them. They didn’t want to leave, even when they were warned of destruction. Lot’s wife, on their escape still couldn’t let go. This was the story of Noah’s day, of Babel – all were places where backs had been turned and feet had been irreversibly planted in concrete.

Blasphemy against the Spirit is an unforgivable sin because we are no longer capable of listening or hearing the Spirit and therefore responding is impossible. No matter how loudly the Spirit calls, or how obvious the message is, it is too late. It is a gradual process, a process beginning with small back turns and minor rejections, until we cannot comprehend anything but having our back turned.  Even if forgiveness is offered we are unable to listen and respond.

Our most common blasphemy of the Spirit becomes inevitable as we turn our ears to something else, religious institutions or religious leaders, political parties and political agendas – something that we allow to consume us – to which we surrender our heart and mind. Blasphemy is not an action, or a word, it is a process, one which we gradually become comfortable with. Jesus’ warnings of the unforgivable blapheme are His act of love, prompted by the unstoppable compassion and mercy of our gracious God. It is a call to open our eyes and ears. 

“So come on, let’s leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your trust toward God. Let’s get on with it! Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can’t start over as if nothing happened. That’s impossible.“

The Apostle Paul

Hebrews 6:1-7 (MSG)

Let’s pray.

Music 3

I Will Never Be

CCLI Song # 1874911/Geoff Bullock

Verse 1

I will never be the same again
I can never return
I’ve closed the door
I will walk the path
I will run the race
And I will never be the same again

Chorus

Fall like fire soak like rain
Flow like mighty waters
Again and again
Sweep away the darkness
Burn away the chaff
And let a flame burn
To glorify Your name

Verse 2

There are higher heights
There are deeper seas
Whatever You need to do
Lord do it in me
And the glory of God fills my life
And I will never be the same again 

Community

Community

hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Study – This Thursday II Timothy 1-2

Next Sunday – ‘…Backwards Forward (gratitude).’

Thanksgiving Dinner, Sunday, November 21 @ 6pm

November canned drive

Covid – Masks update

Benediction

Dave: We leave here challenged to be attentive and present.

Sherri: We leave here determined to keep our eyes and ears open.

Dave: We leave here called to serve, to see, to hear and to lavish in goodness.

Sherri: We leave here because God also loves everyone out there.

Dave: We leave here seeking wisdom to separate truth from lies.

Sherri: We leave here remembering God is God, the giver of our Life

Dave: We leave here called to live right and well, mercifully, and compassionately.

Sherri: We leave here because God also loves everyone out there.

Dave: We leave here to follow God’s chosen, the Son, Jesus.

Sherri: We leave here to respect and listen to God’s Spirit.

Dave: We leave here to sing a brand new song of praise.

Sherri: We leave here here because God also loves everyone out there.

Dave: We leave here to let our lives scream the glory of God.

Sherri: We leave here to go where God’s heart goes.

Dave: We leave here to let our hearts see what God sees.

Sherri: We leave here here because God also loves everyone out there.

Isaiah 42

Closing Peace 

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, and hope.

Order, Voices, & Words

Order

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (?)

Call to Worship

Communion Song (Stockstill)

Live/OnLine

Prayer                                          Rick

Music 1                                        Billy

     How Great the Father’s Love (Crosby & Doane)

Today’s Story                              Online – Musgroves

                                                   In Person-Peyton

Music 2                                       Billy

     Be The Center (Frye)

Message    ‘Flesh and Blood”   Rick

Communion (Music 3 during communion)

Music 3                                       Billy

     Be The Center (Frye)

Community                                Rick

Benediction                               Online – Musgroves

                                                   In Person-Peyton

Closing Peace                          Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices and Words

Prayer

God, you call us your chosen ones, holy and beloved.

You call us to be the body of Christ.

You call us to dress in compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience.

You call us to add a layer of harmonious love binding us all together.

You call us to bear with, and forgive, each other as you have forgiven us.

You call us to hearts ruled by Christ.

You call us to a rich indwelling of truth.

You call us to wisely teach and admonish each other.

You call us to a silent gratitude that screams to all.

You call us to do everything in the name of Jesus.

You call us to live out our thanks to you through Jesus.

Amen

Colossians 3:12-17

Music 1

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

CCLI Song # 1558110

Stuart Townend

How deep the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything

No gifts no pow’r no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

Today’s Story 

It all began with free food.

Free food and a celebrity appearance, Jesus even stuck around and shook hands and kissed babies.

5,000 plus people and too much food. It is always hard to plan for an unexpected large crowd, especially when you don’t expect a any size crowd.

No planning, a huge crowd, a huge hungry crowd, a huge crowd that stuck around it seemed that they would never go home.

I can’t imagine the exhaustion of the disciples. They were tired from an exciting but also very physically busy day, they just wanted to get away from the huge crowd…it was time fo them, and Jesus, to get in the boat.

By this time Jesus had also slipped away from the crowd, he had exited in order to get some alone time.  Then, when the disciples were out of view of the shore and the winds began to pick up and the boat began to rock, the whole thing got scary, really scary.

Not as scary as it did when they realized that a person, a person who was not in a boat, was coming their way on the water.

Then, they realize that it is Jesus, walking on the water, and then climbing into the boat like it was no big deal.

The next day the huge dinner crowd was hungry again. They wanted more of the free food!

 Jesus made a comparison to their ancestors who received free food, just laying on the ground each morning when they awoke. It was just there, everyday.

But then, the whole thing took a very strange turn. The topic switched to eating flesh and drinking blood. It was like cannibals, zombies and vampires all in one.

It started out fairly acceptable, fairly non-horror show plot line. Jesus said, Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

I bet that got the attention of the crowd.

At least a few, who started mumbling and grumbling saying, ““How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 

So now Jesus went really dark, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Even his own disciples were complaining “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

Jesus overheard and said, “Does the offend you?”

That had to be uncomfortable and awkward.

Jesus gave them a few hints to help them better understand,  “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

It was a discussion that became very uncomfortable, and then just continued in that direction – eating flesh and drinking blood. By the end of this encounter with Jesus there were some followers and even some disciples that walked away. It was too much, it was more than they had signed up for.

Free food, eating flesh, and drinking blood. The crowds became thinner as the messages got heavier.

Some walked away, but the ones that stayed said to Jesus, “We will not leave you… seriously Jesus, where would we go if we did leave? Only you have the words of eternal life.  We believe, and know ,that you are the Holy One of God.”

Music 2

Be The Centre

CCLI Song # 2650429

Michael Frye

Jesus be the centre

Be my source be my light

Jesus

Jesus be the centre

Be my hope be my song

Jesus

Be the fire in my heart

Be the wind in these sails

Be the reason that I live

Jesus Jesus

Jesus be my vision

Be my path be my guide

Jesus

Message        ‘Flesh and Blood’

‘Christianity faced opposition from its inception.” These are the words of author David Cassel as he attempts to explain the challenges that early Christians faced. Most of us have grown up with the tenants of Christianity, it seems absolutely normal to us. We are settled with our faith. Cassel goes on to expand on his opening comments…

‘Christianity faced opposition from its inception. Its founder was killed, and its first major missionaries were martyred. But as Christianity spread beyond Judea, the nature of the criticisms changed.

Rather than opposing Jesus’ teachings, most attacks against Christianity arose from ignorance and fear.

Frequently critics had little, if any, firsthand experience with Christians, their worship, or their beliefs. So for the first two centuries, attacks tended to restate stereotypes and misconceptions.’

Defending the Cannibals, J. David Cassel, Christianity Today, 11.21

Second-century Christian apologists Justin  Martyr detailed the three main accusations levied against Christians – atheism, incest, and cannibalism. The charge of atheism came from their refusal to worship the Roman pantheon of god. The charge of incest originated from the Christian concept of being united as ‘one family in Christ’ – husbands and wives would refer to each other as ‘brothers and sisters.’ The third charge was cannibalism because of their belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Romans overhearing Christians talking about consuming the flesh and blood of Christ. Many Romans held the perspective that the central purpose of Christian gatherings was for the acts of cannibalism.

In the mid second century, Minucius Felix probably one of the first fact checkers, rationally critiqued the ongoing conspiracies and misconceptions against Christians in his Octavius, Felix sought to squash the rumors and wild accusations of cannibalism against Christian. He details the wild and  false accusations…

‘An infant is slain…[Christians] lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence.”

Octavius. Minucius Felix. Encyclopedia of Philosphy, https://iep.utm.edu/minucius/

Let’s get a bit of context. Jesus, sometimes confused his listeners, and often outright aggravated his own disciples by speaking in cryptic and frustrating ways. Jesus was definitely not always pragmatic with his words, but, then again his message was meant to shatter the wrong assumptions of his listeners. His Jewish listeners were very accustom to a “DO’ faith where they were told in detail what to do and what to not do. Their faith practice was rooted in the commands given  through Moses. Seldom were the people left on their own to figure it out. Jesus, however, was preaching a ‘BE’ faith. A faith rooted in the heart  of each follower. Jesus was moving the listeners from a ‘Do and Then Become’ faith

to a “Be and Then You Will Do’ faith.

His  message focused on Be rather than a barrage of DOs and DONT’S. This was possible because Jesus was going to DO the Dos. This is why Jesus could promise that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.”

In John 6, we see Jesus followed closely by a crowd of people – a huge crowd, numbering in the thousands. They saw him heal the sick and they wanted to see more healings. They recognized that he had walked on water, they wanted to see more of that. The thousand plus crowd were fed by Jesus, they wanted more food.

Jesus was “DOing’ stuff and they were intrigued and mesmerized. But they were missing the bigger picture. They were missing the signs, the were failing to connect Jesus as the coming Deliverer. Quite frankly, Jesus didn’t come to hold healing crusades, he didn’t come to preform magic tricks, nor did he come to be a celebrity chef – these were all things that flowed naturally out of his compassion and mercy – I’m not sure he could resist acts of love. These acts, however, were feeding the ‘WOW Me’ expectations of the crowd. This was not Jesus mission, Jesus came to proclaim God’s love, deliverance, and redemption.

‘Jesus said to the crowd , “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate some of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.’”

John 6:26-27

Therefore the crowds said to Him, “What do we need to do??” Jesus answered and said to them. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” So they said to Him, “What then are You doing as a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work are You performing? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness.’”

John 6:28-31

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; the one who comes to Me will not be hungry, and the one who believes in Me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have indeed seen Me, and yet you do not believe.

John 6:35-36

Did you see what Jesus did? He moved from ‘DO’ to ‘BE’, from external to internal, from earthly to eternity, from ‘Let me SEE it’ to ‘Let me BE it’.

This is the backstory of Jesus overhearing the religious leaders having a ‘WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?!’ conversation. They, were complaining and revealing their own Stuckness of ‘DO’ religious practices and teachings. It was in the midst of this, Jesus challenged them…

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 

For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live because of  the Father, the one who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 

This is the bread that came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died; the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

John 6:53-58

Now, let’s start with the ickiness of Jesus literal words. Eating flesh, drinking blood – we cannot deny the Jesus says this. However, there is not evidence that this is a literal. We do not hear of the disciples taking a bite of Jesus arm, nor do we read that Jesus shows up at an appearance missing a finger. Surely, it this was a literal practice, his primary mentors would have been the first to take part.

We must take the context of these words. Jesus was moving the people, and the leaders, beyond the spectacular of the things Jesus was Doing to, instead, see the signs within the things Jesus did. To replace their expectation of entertainment to a heart and mind understanding of Jesus’ life and words.

The people wanted Jesus to outdo Moses and the Manna, Jesus was leading the people to understand that one was an earthly element addressing an earthly need – while the other was forever, eternal.

Jesus’ words ‘Eat’ and ‘Drink’ are both primary verbs, they are not passive and momentary simply satisfying a moment of hunger, they are intentional and forever. They are a way of life. They point to the cross, not to a picnic. They are sacrifice not selfishness.

‘In the final moments before the cross we see ‘Jesus reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I  suffer.” 

He took some bread and gave thanks, breaking it he gave it to them, saying, “Take this and share it among yourselves.” “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.”’

Mark 22:14-21

Jesus, in these final moments, shared in a precious holy moment. A moment of togetherness, a moment of mutual support, love, and encouragement. A together moment intended to strengthen them all before they faced the horrors ahead. Jesus even gave them a glimpse of the betrayal that laid ahead. This was a gathering of men who had were still learning how to eat of the flesh and drink of the blood, not in literal sense but in a real consistent and intentional way. They were PARTAKING of Christ. Jesus had become their reality, their strength, their faithfulness, their compassion, their mercy, and their love. And, now they sat around a table, relaxed and secure in the commonalty of those gathered at this table. It was about sharing, it was about partaking, it was about trust (even trust that was about to be shattered by reality, but trust all the same), it was a about a moment that would never again be shared but always remembered and treasured. It was a precious moment together at the table. Those that shared, those that ate, those who drank, as well as those who would soon sacrifice everything. They would fail, and they would continually strive. They would always remember that moment and add to it in the future. The emphasis of this moment was not controversial or rumor worthy, it was a group of men who had journeyed together, who shared a mutual belief and were now sharing bread and wine, who had and would suffer together, who would soon grieve together, now sharing a holy human gathering. A moment that would strengthen them for all the moments ahead.

In an odd way, the Roman conspiracies were not totally wrong. They did gather together, they did share in the bread and wine. Not in order to deceive, control, and especially not to use extortion on each other. They gathered to remember, to share, to comfort, to hope, to strengthen and to live out love.

Let’s pray.

Music 3

Be The Centre

CCLI Song # 2650429

Michael Frye

Jesus be the centre

Be my source be my light

Jesus

Jesus be the centre

Be my hope be my song

Jesus

Be the fire in my heart

Be the wind in these sails

Be the reason that I live

Jesus Jesus

Jesus be my vision

Be my path be my guide

Jesus

Community

Community

hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Study – This Thursday

Next Sunday – ‘…unforgivable. Blasphemy.’

Time Change, One Hour Back,

Thanksgiving Dinner, Sunday, November 21 @ 6pm, details soon

Benediction

We go from here remembering that Jesus gave us his Body.

We go from here to because walls do not contain his Body.

We go from here because that is what Jesus did in his Body.

We go from here because that is what Jesus does in his Body.

We go from here determined to fully partake full of the Body..

We go from here resolute to constantly be the Body.

We go from here committed to be the Body.

We go from here aware that we are a part, not the whole, of the Body..

We go from here fearfully honored to be a part of the Body.

We go from here because the Body’s place is out there.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, and hope.

Order, Voices, & Words 10.24.21

Order

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:03)
Call to Worship
Whole Heart - Brandon Heath
Live/OnLine
Prayer    Rick
Music 1   Abbie & Billy
   How Great Is Our God (Tomlin, Cash, & Reeves)
Today’s Story  Online - Kelly & In Person-Nikki
Music 2  Abbie & Billy
   I Will Sing Of My Redeemer (McGranahan & Philip & Bliss)
Message    ‘The Forgotten Women…”  Rick
Music 3  Abbie & Billy
   Spirit of the Living God (Iverson)
Community  Rick
Benediction    Online - Kelly & In Person-Nikki
Closing Peace  Rick
Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices and Words


Prayer

God, With what shall we come before the You?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will you be pleased if we come with thousands of rams,
And ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall we give our firstborn for our transgression?
You has told you, what is good;
You have told us what you require of us
You have told us to do justice,
To love kindness,
And to walk humbly with you, our God?
Amen
Micah 6:6-8


Music 1

How Great Is Our God
CCLI Song # 4348399
Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, &| Jesse Reeves
Verse 1
The splendor of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice
Chorus
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God
Verse 2
And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
The Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Chorus
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

Today’s Story 

Last week we learned of the Jewish scholarly tradition of Teku - “I don’t understand….yet”. Teku is a great concept for us to understand now with our passage for this week.  We thought last week was the pinnacle of uncomfortableness but this week’s scripture has brought us to new heights of squeamishness!
Two stories, in two different cities, both cities with the most depraved men ever. Even the supposed hero’s of these stories are just awful human beings!
I’m not even sure where to start!
I guess we have to start with the city of Sodom. A city whose very name now carries a connotation of what actually didn’t happen there. A connotation, that itself, points to the legacy of disrespect of women, minorities, and foreigners. It all started with two angels, messengers from God, who came to remind Abraham of God’s promise of a son.
As the messengers were leaving Abraham, they mentioned that they also were on a mission to check into what was going on in Sodom, the city Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family lived.  Abraham knew of the depravity in Sodom and that the message from God would be rejected, so he began to bargain on part of Sodom.  “If we can find 50 men who are not horrible, or 35, or 10 men, will you not destroy the city?”
Abraham knew that there were not even 10 that would be classified and ‘not evil’, or even ‘just marginally bad’, Abrahan could not even think of 10 from Lot’s family.
Instead of listening to the words of the messengers, the men of the city opted to try to brutalize and rape the messengers who were staying in Lot’s house. The angels handled this on their own by blinding the men, but Lot still offered his two daughters to the men in his effort to stop the depraved men.
Here is the topper, this is not the only place in the old testament where something like this happens. There was a Levite, a religious leader, who had a concubine who he really seemed to like. When she left him, he went running after her to convince her to return to him. Later, he also was trapped in another town called Gibeah. It, too, was full of depraved men who attempted to brutalize and rape him. Instead of himself, he threw his concubine out the door for them to do to her what they planned to do to him.
When the men were finished they threw the woman on the doorstep and the Levi, and then the Levite let her remain there in agony until the sun came up! Til he got out of bed. Then, he cut up her body spreading the pieces around the tribes of Israel to highlight the evil of the men in Gibeah.
Okay, so the man who saved himself by sacrificing his concubine then cut up her body to say that the men of Gibeah were the evil ones? Surely this is a week early halloween story!
Lord help us, this is beyond a Teku passage!
It is definitely an ‘I don’t understand’ passage.


Music 2

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer
CCLI Song # 69260
James McGranahan & Philip Paul Bliss
Verse 1
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
Chorus
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
Verse 2
I will tell the wondrous story
How my lost estate to save
In His boundless love and mercy
He the ransom freely gave
Chorus
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
Verse 3
I will praise my dear Redeemer
His triumphant power I'll tell
How the victory He giveth
Over sin and death and hell
Chorus
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

Message        ‘The Forgotten Women…’
Two cities, 700-800 years apart, filled with evil men and marginalized people. Two cities where the inhabitants, and even the designated protagonists, were willingly immersed in depravity. Two cities, much the same as the city of Noah, and probably the city of Babel where raw brutality was a constant norm. Two cities where all who entered were soon hardened and unfazed. Two cities where the worst of hell became manifest on earth.

In the end, two cities through which God points our complicity.

Phyllis Trible describes today’s passages as ‘Texts of Terror.’ Uncomfortable texts which brutally oppose the teachings of Jesus.
Phyllis Trible, Professor Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, Texts of Terror.

One was a city named Sodom - the other a city named Gibeah.

The story of Sodom erroneously brings homosexualty to our minds - however, such a simple shallow understanding dilutes and diminishes the story.

Sodom, was a name assigned to a city. Linguist have identified that the verb form, ‘Sodomy’, was not created until 300 years after Christ. Sodom and the word Sodomy did not carry a definition of ‘abominable’ sex acts, nor were the crimes of Sodom attributed to homosexuality until thousands of years later (long after the writing of the Bible). Sodom’s emphasis was not Sodomy until Christianity became institutionally powerful. A time when Christians began to use their influence to confront the sins of society - it is not about homosexuality (as homosexuality was not a designation or a word until the 1800s), instead, the church was confronting pederasty - a practice of child sexual abuse that had been acceptable for centuries.

In Sodom the assigned protagonist was a man named Lot, in Gibeah it was an unnamed Levite responsible for certain religious duties at the temple. Both protagonists acted out of the same ignorance, selfishness, and depravity as the mobs outside their door.

Lot, the nephew of Abraham, had moved his family and possessions to Sodom because of the fertile ground. In Sodom, Lot and his family were willingly immersed in the hedonistic and self-centered dark hearts of their neighbors. Lot achieved leadership status in the city, he sat at the city gates watching over the city, the people of Sodom had become family, and Lot’s family had become part of the people.

The Levite was a visitor to the city of Gibeah, but he was not really an outsider. While he expressed outrage at the threats from the mob, his heart was even more depraved, heartless, and unholy.

Both of these selfish hearted men stood fearfully behind a door, both with their tainted ancestral hearts. In both stories the dismissed women, were offered as substitute for the men. Lot offered his daughters, even though his guests could take care of themself. The Levite opened the door just enough to throw out his wife to the mob - quickly closing the door so he could get a decent night’s sleep.

A correct understanding of the sin of Sodm and Gibeah is crucial so that we can recognize the true thread between these cities? It matters because the Later Prophets regularly compare the nation of Israel to Sodom. If the sin of Sodom was sodomy then this comparison seems inconsistent with all the common themes in the Prophets. However, if the sin of Sodom was xenophobia, insularity and a lack of social justice then this criticism is perfectly consistent with the messages that permeate the prophetic writings from that time.’
Biblical Hermeneutics

The sin of Sodom and Gibeah is a much deeper than just the actions of a depraved group of men - instead it provides us some insight to the subtle threat our own hearts. The threat lies on our side of the door, where a cancer creeps in spreading to every corner of our refuge.

While we  minimize the evil in Sodom by using it for our own cause, the story of the Levite in Gibeah takes us to new uncomfortable heights. Few commentators risk venturing out of a safe and unconvincing ‘Male View’ of Judges 19.  It is an inexcusably avoided passage from the Bible. Quite honestly, I would prefer to not dive into these waters. Instead, I will allow someone else to do it for me - the Reverend Sara Jobe, who does an amazing, and unrestrained job of providing an overview of the passage.

“Judges 19 describes the rape and dismemberment of an unnamed woman. The woman in the story is owned by a Levite. The word used to describe her, piylegesh” (her status), “can mean concubine, secondary wife, or wife of lower socio-economic standing. The two are in an intimate, though hierarchical, relationship. Something causes the woman to flee to her father’s home.” Historically, usually white male theologians have accused the unnamed woman of adultery but rabbinical writings repeatedly write that it was because of the Levite’s selfishness and neglect. “After four months, the Levite pursues his woman, supposedly to 'speak to her heart.’ Instead, the Levite, for five days speaks to, while eating and drinking with, the woman’s father.” The woman rejoins the Levite and they arrive in Gibeah where they are the guest of a hospitable resident. A depraved mob surrounds the house demanding they be given the Levite male. “The owner of the house offers his own daughter and the Levite’s unnamed woman to the crowd in exchange for the safety of his guest, the Levite man. As the crowd presses in, the Levite seizes his concubine and throws her out to the violent mob. The woman is gang-raped all night long. At dusk, she crawls back to the house where her master sleeping, and she collapses at the door. The well rested Levite rises the next morning ready to continue on his way. When he sees the woman’s hands resting on the threshold of the door he says, “Get up.” There is no answer. The man throws the woman, dead or alive we do not know, on his donkey. He arrives home, takes his knife, cuts his wife into twelve pieces, and sends her body out to the twelve tribes of Israel. When the man tells his story in Judges 20, he never mentions his own role in the crime. The story itself is horrific–betrayal, rape, murder, dismemberment, and cover-up of the crime. The narration of the story is also horrific. There is no explicit condemnation of the treatment of the woman. Israel’s supposedly outraged response is to slaughter entire towns and then rape four hundred additional women. God’s absence is horrific. In the Genesis passage, divine visitors blind the lust-mad crowd and rescue the women being offered. In Judges 19, no such rescue occurs. God does not stop the abuse. God does not even bother to show up afterward to condemn her rape and dismemberment. At the end of the story, everyone who sees the pieces of this woman’s battered body say together, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Incline your heart to her! Consider it! Speak out!”  God is silent, but we are commanded to speak out. God willingly claims this story of his absence as part of the larger story of God’s presence in the world. Victims of sexual violence know the truth of this claim. Many victims have experienced their abuse as being abandoned by God. Yet we do not make a space in our congregations for experiences of God’s neglect to be told. In 2010, stats told us one out of every six women has been raped. We leave victims of sexual violence voiceless languishing outside the door. We do not incline our hearts to them, consider their stories, or speak out.  We say ‘God works in mysterious ways or God has a plan’ Instead of following God’s lead–letting their statements of God’s absence rest heavily in our congregations. Judges 19 invites God’s present people to surround the wound of God’s absence.”
Sarah Jobe, Minister, Rutba House, Durham, NC,
Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Preaching Judges 19
Also on our doorstep are native American women who suffer murder at a rate 10 times higher than the national average, yet, even when they go missing, which they also have a high rate of, we remain silent in our chosen ignorance hiding behind the closed door. The guilty not only stand outside the door as perpetrators, the silent behind the door are guilty as well. We throw our silence out the door leaving the dismissed and abused languishing on the door step, we too share in the guilt. The lesson for us from these cities is not a warning of the depravity on the other side of our doors. It is a warning about standing on the safe side of the door. The greatest horror of this story is not the depravity on the outside, let’s be honest, we are fully aware of what is outside our doors. The danger is when we stand inside insulated, quickly throwing out to the other side of the door those things, those people, we can easily dismiss. Those that are already marginalized, judged, and condemned. When God called Noah to build an ark, he did not hide him in a warehouse behind a door with strong locks. The mobs already knew Noah. Noah completed his work in full view. Noah built in full view of the people. The mob could see what Noah was doing, they could hear his warning, but they repeatedly ignored the implications. Only Noah was righteous, but building the boat was not about Noah - it was for others, even for those on the other side of the door. The door was closed when it no longer needed to be open. The Levite did not really get God’s message. God was using him to alert the people of God to the fact that they had become the same as the mob on the other side of the door. Not because of brutal depravity, but because of their silence, their judgement, this condemnation, their dismissal, and their self-centeredness. Sadly, the tribes chose to act in revenge rather than allow God to show them their own complicity. They rejected God’s transformation and chose brutally instead. The message that the Levite missed still needs to be heard today. “Say to every man in Israel: ‘Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!’” Judges 19:30 (MSG) God continues to implore us to put aside judgement and condemnation, to step out the door, and ‘Do Something!’ Let’s pray. Music 3 Spirit Of The Living God CCLI Song # 23488 Daniel Iverson 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 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 Community Community hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Study - No Study this Thursday Next Sunday - ‘’A Perfect Halloween Squirm’ Communion, Sunday, October 31 Thanksgivng Dinner, Sunday, November 21 @ 6pm, details soon      Benediction We go from here into a strange world. We go from here into a world where sometimes the worst evil comes from inside of us. An evil within us that opens us up to wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Fills us with envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, acting boastful, inventing evil, acting foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Evil that begins with putting ourself first in front of God and in front of all others. May we go from here determined not to fall prey to evil, may we seek to live and to care like Jesus. May we resolve to Love others as we ourselves love and are loved. May our life show our love for God and our love for others. Closing Peace May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you. And also with you. Go in grace, peace, joy, love, and hope.

Order, Words, & Voices 10.17.21

Order

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:09)
Call to Worship
Love God Love People (Dan Gokey/Michael W. Smith)

Live/OnLine
Prayer (14 Slides)							Rick
Music 1	Billy	                                            
           	Thank You Lord (Dennis Jernigan)
Today’s Story	Online - Jaimie	& In Person-Chris													
Music 2								Billy
            	Show Me Your Ways (Russell Fragar)
Message    ‘Abominable”		Rick
Music 3								Billy           Revelation Song (Jennie Lee Riddle)
Community       Rick							
Benediction	Online - Jaimie	& In Person-Chris							
Sharing the Peace    Rick                                    		
Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices and Words

Prayer

God,
Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.

O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it's in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born...
To eternal life.
Amen

Prayer of Saint Francis

Music 1

Thank You Lord
CCLI Song # 577439
Dennis Jernigan
For all that You've doneI will thank YouFor all that You're going to doFor all that You've promisedAnd all that You areIs all that has carried me throughJesus I thank You
Pre-Chorus
And I thank You thank You Lord(And I thank You thank You Lord)Thank You thank You Lord(Thank You thank You)
Chorus
Thank You for loving and setting me freeThank You for giving Your life just for meHow I thank You Jesus I thank YouGratefully thank You thank You

Today’s Story 

Chris: Today we are looking at 2 different passages from the book of Leviticus. The first one comes from Leviticus 18:19-25. “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile yourself with her. You shall not give any of your offspring to sacrifice them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves. “Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” … Well, that was a lot of fun, let’s hear your verse Jaimie.

Jaimie: That was very uncomfortable,  I think I’m developing a cough, why don’t you go ahead and read it.

Chris: No, not falling for that.

Jaimie: (fake cough)

Chris: We will wait.

Jaimie: Okay, surely this is not as squeamish as what you read. Leviticus 20:10-16. ‘If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed perversion, their blood is upon them. If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is depravity; they shall be burned to death, both he and they, that there may be no depravity among you. If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and has sexual relations with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall be.…’ I think I will just stop there.

Chris: Abomination, depravity, burned to death, killing innocent animals!? What is that all about?

Jaimie: The law was a gift to the Hebrews, this doesn’t really sound very gift like.

Chris: Nor does it sound very loving, or like Jesus.

Jaimie: It is horrific, it is very unmerciful and extremely no compassionate.

Chris: So, there has to be more to it.

Jaimie: Not sure how this can be redeemed, I do not understand how this lines up with with Jesus’ own words when he said “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.nIndeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.:

Chris: Or with other words of Jesus when he said, ““‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Jaimie: I guess there is some hope for this morning.

Chris: Hopefully it is also a hope for all humanity.


Music 2

Show Me Your Ways
CCLI Song # 1675024
Russell Fragar
Verse
Show me Your waysThat I may walk with YouShow me Your waysI put my hope in You
Chorus
The cry of my heartIs to love You moreTo live with the touchOf Your handStronger each dayShow me Your ways
Verse
Show me Your waysThat I may walk with YouShow me Your waysI put my hope in You
Chorus
The cry of my heartIs to love You moreTo live with the touchOf Your handStronger each dayShow me Your ways
Message        ‘Abominable’

It is speculated that the average person says 860,341,500 over a lifetime.
Gyles Brandreth, The Joy of Lex: How to Have Fun with 860,341,500 Words



John Steinbeck wrote 
“A writer lives in awe of words, for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator.”
William Robert Rich, October 8, 2012, Screenplay Blog

Jerry Falwell Sr. used some of his words to say, “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”
Christopher Reed, May 17, 2007, The Guardian

Billy Graham used his words to call homosexuality a “sinister form of perversion”
John Paul Brammer, Feb. 22, 2018, NBC News



Reverend Dr. E. Dewey Smith, used the words of his sermon to his 10,000 plus member church, to say.

“We have done what the slave masters did to us—dehumanize us, degrade us, demonize us. On one hand you quote homosexuality is an abomination from Leviticus. But you say that right after you ate some shrimp, some catfish and some lobster. You quote Levitucus while you're wearing a wool blend suit. It's also in Leviticus that you shouldn't wear mixed linens. It's in Leviticus that if your wife is on her cycle that you shouldn't go in the same house with her or even sleep in the same bed with her. Here's my point. We pick and choose the scriptures that we want to use to beat folks up with rather than look at our own lives. Look at your neighbor and tell your neighbor I don't condemn you, I don't judge you. You can't evangelize and antagonize at the same time. You cannot insult and inspire the same people that you insult.”
Dr. E. Dewey Smith, senior pastor at House of Hope Atlanta

So, let’s focus in on a specific word.

Abomination.


‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.’
Leviticus 18:22 (NRSV)



“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
Leviticus 20:13 (NRSV)

This instruction was given by God to Moses to the Israelites. This was part of the gift of the law, given only to the Hebrews because only the Hebrews would receive it. The Hebrews were a fragile people enslaved for centuries. Their ancestors had little knowledge of God prior to slavery, as a result, they had little understanding of God after slavery. However, they were the lineage of the redeemer, Jesus. Their earthly strength was in their population numbers. The more Hebrews people - the more fighters and protectors.  Their strength was not weapons, it wasn’t about chariots and horses, it was about a lot of physically, mentally, and spiritually strong humans. It was essential that they quickly grew in numbers and health. 

Leviticus takes place about 50 days after the release from slavery. Healthy propagation was their primary task. For this reason God addresses those things, primary those sexual things, that can hinder healthy population growth. Therefore activities such as incest could do great harm to the bloodline, and homosexuality would be totally unproductive. These words were also a warning of the customs and cultures they were about to encounter, idolatry and rejection of God, Child sacrifice, selling their own bodies, - a people who could not love others because they so deeply disrespected themselves. It was about using sex to disrespect self and others.

Abomination.

It is a word that immediately solicits a negative perception, although, it is seldom something that we can fully define. It is a word that immediately adds a negative connotation. It is defined differently by who is saying it and heard differently by the receiver. It is used as a hammer, a weapon, to attack.

This Ancient Hebrew word in the original text is towebah and is found 16 times. The root of this word, toaybaw, is found 117 times throughout the old testament. Both are commonly translated Abomination.

The majority of Christians, when hearing this word, automatically think that it is a categorization of sin - these passages are thought to define homosexuality as the worst of all sins. However, we do not theologically believe in a categorization of sins. There are not greater sins, and there are not lesser sins. Sin is disobedience to God, period. A sinful action may have greater and more blatant earthly/fleshly consequences, but sin is disobedience.

Abomination does not indicate a ‘worse’ sin, in fact, it does not automatically indicate sin.

Towebah, is saying ‘this is unproductive’ ‘this is uncomfortable’ ‘this is a taboo gray zone thing.’ In other places in scripture, this word is also used to confront mixed nationalities or religions sitting at the same table, or heartless religious practices, or woman wearing pants, or not being Kosher. It is about a lot of things that we do not classify as “worse sin.’

The problem with the word Abomination is not the Biblical translation, it is about how our brains have been trained to automatically interpret it.

Paul uses many words like abomination in the New Testament. Jesus drew close to addressing the LGTBQ population with the words.

“For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs. Accept this.”
Jesus, Matthew 19:12

Let me pause for a moment. It is not time to agree with Rick and come out as an LGBTQ activist and start fights with everyone you encounter to make them accept your point of view, being hateful and unchristlike. Nor is it time to crawl back into the comfort of a cave where we can isolate ourselves from things we do not understand, things we are uncomfortable with, while we become unchristlike. 

In Judaism there is a term for things that we accept but do not understand, things we are uncomfortable with. The word Teku is a term that the scribes and rabbis use when there was something in the holy words they do not understand, ‘something that still needs to be determined and understood.’ Teku instructs us to still follow God and unconditionally love regardless of our understanding and regardless of any conditions.

We do not have to understand to accept, to affirm, to love, to embrace. 
We live by a higher calling. We are called to Love. It is a call to embrace, to accept, to affirm, to recognize the equality of all created beings, to sacrifice our comfort - all without regard to our understanding. It is the love that led Jesus to the cross even while we were still sinners. It is a love that is beyond our understanding.

I cannot win this argument, I cannot lose this argument, truth is, I cannot maintain a consistent comfort with this argument. But, I do know this, when I come to a TEKU moment, a moment I do not understand, that I am uncomfortable with, that is when I Love, that is when I show Jesus through my life. That is when I trust God. The God, who, when I was still waist deep in my sin, put Jesus on the cross for me. The God who sent his son not to judge or condemn but to love all the world - because God SO loves the world.

I have sat with many who, on a very personal basis, struggle with this LGBTQ. Parents of gay children, gay individuals, - they have not chosen this path, they didn’t ask for any of this. They have listened to our ignorant insistence that they just don’t do gay sex, when that is not what this is about. They have tried to follow our demands that they abstain, only to hear us say blanket statements about all gays being evil and sinister. They have tried to not be what their very being tells them that they are, and yet have realized that it just doesn’t work. They have prayed, been prayed over, been persuaded, and finally have given up - sometimes to the point of their own death. They have tried, and the church has failed them. The church has failed to truly and unconditionally love.

The true abomination that faces the church today is placing the ‘less than’ label’ on any human being. Making anyone sit at the back of the bus, forcing any created in the likeness of God human, created in the image of God, to be less human, less loved by God, less anything. We accept after we establish a response to all of the ‘what its’. We accept them after they decide to act like they are what makes us comfortable. They have tried but, in the end, only to find themself lying flat on their back in an inescapable pit.

We have told parents just to kick them out, reject them, and then expect them, through our prayers, to turn to the Jesus that we claim led us to be so unloving, so judgy, so filled with the confused hatred of condemnation.

Ironically the greatest abomination of the church, is how we have hatefully rejected people that God loves. God calls us back to his unconditional love, and then to trust God’s spirit to work his transformation in all our lives. God’s transformation of us, not our expected transformation of others.

“We, human beings are very good at many things. Unfortunately, one of the things we are good at is discrimination. Jesus knew this. That is why he was so passionate in his story of the Good Samaritan. That is why he posited what we call the golden rule of doing onto others as we would have them do onto us. That is why a basic theme throughout the New Testament is that we should love others as we love ourselves. To discriminate against sexual minorities is clearly incompatible with Jesus’ core teachings throughout the Gospels.”
Rev Dr. Philip H. “Hutch” Hutchens

It is time we hang up vague hateful words and let God change our hateful hearts, it is time that we see everyone in the way that Jesus saw everyone. In the end, understanding is not a factor in loving, nor is it a factor in living out the message of Jesus Christ. In the end we are left with LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS.

Let’s pray.


Music 3

Revelation Song
CCLI Song # 4447960
Jennie Lee Riddle
Verse 1
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slainHoly holy is HeSing a new song to Him Who sits onHeaven's mercy seat
Chorus
Holy holy holyIs the Lord God AlmightyWho was and is and is to comeWith all creation I singPraise to the King of kingsYou are my ev'rythingAnd I will adore You
Verse 2
Clothed in rainbows of living colorFlashes of lightning rolls of thunderBlessing and honor strength and gloryAnd power be to You the only wise King
Chorus
Holy holy holyIs the Lord God AlmightyWho was and is and is to comeWith all creation I singPraise to the King of kingsYou are my ev'rythingAnd I will adore You
Verse 3
Filled with wonder awestruck wonderAt the mention of Your nameJesus Your name is power breath and living waterSuch a marv'lous mystery yeah
Chorus
Holy holy holyIs the Lord God AlmightyWho was and is and is to comeWith all creation I singPraise to the King of kingsYou are my ev'rythingAnd I will adore You

Community
Community
hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Study - Thursday
Next Sunday - ‘The Disregarded Women Of Sodom and Gibeah’ Genesis 19 & Judges 19
Communion, Sunday, October 31

    
Benediction

Chris: We go from here knowing that God loves us and that God loves everyone else as well.

Jaimie: We go from here recognizing that it is my choice to accept God’s transforming work in my life and it is the choice of others to accept God’s transforming work in their life.

Chris: We go from here understanding that God works transformation, not me.

Jaimie: We go from here knowing that God’s transformation is out of his love and motivated by his love.

Chris: We go into a reality that, for all of us, depends on God’s strength and power.

Jaimie We go gratefully in God’s mercy and compassion.

Chris: We go from here in, and because of, God’s grace.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.

Order, Words, & Voices 10.10.21

Order

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Opening Audio(10:15am)

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:06)

Call to Worship

Humble King (Benton Brown/Vineyard)

Live/OnLine

Prayer  Rick

Music 1 (6 Slides)                                                      Abbie & Billy

            Holy, Holy, Holy (Dykes & Heber)

Today’s Story (1 Slide) Online-Kristen J

In Person-Petty

Music 2 Abbie & Billy

            Take My Life ‘Holiness’ Underwood

Message    ‘The Impenetrable Power of Me’ Rick

Music 3 Abbie & Billy

            Here I Am To Worship (Hughes)

Community Rick

Benediction Online-Kristen J

In Person-Petty

Sharing the Peace                                         Rick

Closing Audio

Spotify – Not In A Hurry Radio

Voices and Words 

Prayer

God,

We begin this time calling out to you

You are our God

You are the God

You are the Creator of the Universe

You are the Giver of Grace

You are the Redeemer of our Souls

You are Love that Breathes Life into Each of Us

We call you Deliverer

We call you Provider

We call you Healer

We call you Holy

Even though We do not always Recognize You

Even though We do not always Understand You

Even though We do not always Listen for You

Even though We do not always Look for You

Even though – You are Still Holy

You are Still Sustenance

You are Still More

You are Still God

God, We join the Seraphs in proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Amen.

Music 1

Holy Holy Holy (Nicaea)

CCLI Song # 1156

John Bacchus Dykes | Reginald Heber

Verse 1

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee


Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Verse 2

Holy holy holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power
In love and purity

Verse 3

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea


Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Today’s Story 

Petty: Sometimes cringe worthy moments are not really about what someone else says but more about what you, yourself, say. Sometimes uncomfortable bible moments are not about what God has to say as much as it is about what others say about God.

Kristen: Those are extremely awkward moments. Like anytime we are caught talking about someone else only to find out that they were hearing everything we said.

Petty: Imagine having Jesus hearing the stuff you don’t want Jesus to hear.

Kristen: Last week we were near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it was at the crucial moment when the religious leaders began to recognize that Jesus was probably not going to be a status quo kind of leader. They probably started to see that Jesus was not like the other religious leader.

Petty: This week we are much later in the ministry of Jesus, our passage takes us the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry, now in Jerusalem and not long before the cross. It is the crescendo of religious institution’s disdain for Jesus – however, it is also a low point for the disciples of Jesus.

Kristen: It had all the makings of a high point for the disciples. The details regarding the passover meal came together miraculously. Jesus sat at the table exclusively with this intimate group, no crowds, not even his family or best friends. Then, they were also invited to join Jesus in his personal time with God. 

Petty: On top of all that Jesus told them that he was going to “confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Kristen: But history cannot ignore the low moments. Judas was listening to Satan, Peter was failing to fully listen to Jesus, and no one managed to stay awake when Jesus needed them to stay alert. Then there was Jesus instructions to sale their coats to purchase a sword and the arrest and trial.

Petty: In the midst of all of this there was the awkward conversation between Jesus’ disciples.

Kristen: ’Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest’

Petty: Followed by the uncomfortable awareness that Jesus was in the room, within hearing distance.

Kristen: Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.”

Petty: “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner?” Jesus continued, “You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin.”

Kristen: In a way, it is a lot like when the religious leaders were stuck in their thinking about washing hands – in this moment the disciples were stuck in thinking of Jesus as an earthly King, and that they would be the descendants of the earthly King, heir to the earthly throne, earthly power, celebrity.

Petty: Which of course would mean someone would have to be the next King. 

Kristen: And thus the argument began.

Petty: And thus thinking gets stuck. 

Music 2

Take My Life

CCLI Song # 1617154

Scott Underwood

Verse 1

Holiness holiness
Is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness holiness
Is what You want from me

Verse 2

Faithfulness faithfulness
Is what I long for
Faithfulness is what I need
Faithfulness faithfulness
Is what You want from me

Chorus

So take my heart and form it
Take my mind transform it
Take my will conform it
To Yours to Yours oh Lord

Verse 3

Righteousness righteousness
Is what I long for
Righteousness is what I need
Righteousness righteousness
Is what You want from me

Message‘The Impenetrable Power of Me’ (7 Slides)

In the summer of 1963, boxer Cassius Clay, unknowingly took the position of best, and most eloquent, trash talkers of all time in the release of his comedy album entitled ‘I Am The Greatest!’ The album was set up as a trash talking boxing match, with each new track labeled as a boxing match round. The entire project had been suggested to Clay by his talent agency and included one track entitled “Will the Real Sonny Liston Please Fall Down”. Clay was scheduled to fight Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship boxing match 6 months later. So, this album was actually the greatest trash talking rant of all time.

The fascinating thing about this album is seen when we take a retrospective look back. Six months after the release of this album, Clay did win the boxing match against Liston. But, also during this time Clay let it be known that he had converted to Islam and was changing his name to  Muhammad Ali. You have to wonder if the trash talking persona created by Ali and those around him six months earlier was a grasping for some sense of control. Public Relations experts, as well as the boxing industry, were pushing and pulling him to be something that he actually was not. So, in an effort to take back control of his life, in a time when he knew that the truth of his life would soon be ruinous for his career, he used the 3 things he knew he was skilled in, boxing, humor, and trash talking, to take back the narrative, to take back control.

There is a defensive mechanism within all of us that seeks to find someway to be in control of our lives.

Three times, Jesus addresses the issue of greatness with his disciples. One time Jesus has to address the issue with the mother of two of his disciples. And now, in today’s passage, just moments before Jesus is arrested, in his final teaching moment with his disciples before the cross, Jesus addresses the issue for the fifth time.

If chapter 22

If chapter 22 of the gospel of Luke were to be made into a Netflix series, at a minimum it would have to be split up into 8 episodes. That could only happen if each of those episodes were packed full of twists and turns, betrayals, rejections, disappointments, violence, injustices, miracles, backstabbing, doubts, bizarre promises, satanic control, amazing affirmations, and a well organized exclusive dinner. You could not binge this series, each episode would take a week in between to allow the viewer to recover from the latest episode and to prepare for the next.

Luke 22 plants us smack in the middle of Holy Week, Jesus had entered the Jerusalem as a crowned hero, his disciples had become instant celebrities, but that acclaim went south quickly. There was still a sense of Jesus’ significance but everything was getting a bit off. Jesus and the disciples had just finished the passover meal. Jesus had served them in dramatic style ending the meal with a dark turn. Jesus revealed that one of them would betray Jesus. This left the disciples pointing the finger at each other asking, “Is it him, or what about him, no, surely it is not me!’  And, almost instantly, the disciples went from pondering who would betray Jesus – to a contentious argument about which one of them was going to replace Jesus. 

The men became so focused on self that they forgot Jesus was right there in the room, sitting at the table. Here was Jesus, the one who had served them, listening as they were fighting over who was going to take the place of Jesus.

And so, for a fifth time, Jesus addressed the one thing that would probably be the most important thing for these soon to be leaders of the New Testament church.

That the meal ended on this argument and the teaching is not really surprising. When things began to be out of our own control, it gets scary, we circle up the wagons and began to protect ourself and all that is ‘OURS.’ We forget what Jesus has taught, we forget that Jesus is in the room. When our attention turns only to the powerful ME, then we completely forget about Jesus, even when he is the next chair over.  

Somehow, we humans, who have life because of the breath of God, are quick to only think of ourself. We automatically, especially in times of uncertainty, change or crisis, turn only to ME – OURSELF. 

“How will this affect ME?

What will this mean to ME?

How is this going to hurt ME?

How can I turn this around to benefit ME?

What about ME?!”

The Question

The Question that haunts us in this story is the same thing that still haunts us a humans – ‘Why do we, as humans, focus on self, whey do we seek to protect ourself through power and position?’ This is the question at the root of the disciples bickering.

The Impenetrable Power of Me. Instead of giving power, it take all power from us. We fail to see what and who is right in front of us. It dulls or hearing of truth. It keeps us from listening for God.

Why do we automatically desire power and greatness?

Studies

The assumed answer to this question has long been that we desire power in order to have control over people. A 2016 study disputes that assumption, the assumption that the desire for power is linked to our desire to control. In the study, the researchers, instead, reveal that the desire for power is actually a desire for autonomy – the ability to be in control of our life.  

5 slides

“While there are those who want power over and control over others, this study concluded that healthy minded persons, desire power not to be a master over others, but to be master of their own domain, to control their own fate.” (Lammers, Stoker, Rink., 2016) 

“To be autonomous does not mean to independent of others, but rather it means to feel a sense of willingness and choice when acting, whether the actions are independently initiated or are in response to a request from significant others.” (Chirkov et al., 2003) 

The disciples are in the room, they are at the table, with Jesus, power and greatness incarnate, yet, rooted in their thinking, was this desire to gain the power upper hand. They were held captive by the Impenetrable Power of Me. 

Jesus turns the assumption of what ‘being powerful’ actually means. Service, the first shall be last. Jesus had washed their feet, he had touched a leper, they had seen him constantly and automatically serve others, even in the most mundane moments – remember the wedding party that ran out of wine? And now, in this essential moment, Jesus gives a final review of the teachings they have seen as God has transparently lived, in the flesh, in their  presence.

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)

Jesus was not mad or angry with the men, he wasn’t even frustrated – Jesus was determined. Determined that they would step into the uncomfortable, that they would let themself immerse themself in the squirmy waters of greatness. That they would overcome the seemingly Impenetrable Power of Me.

How was the power of Me so powerful that it kept the disciples, who were fully convinced of the credibility of Jesus, from recognizing Jesus? Why was this understanding of greatness so essential that Jesus would spend his final moments speaking about it?

Jesus had spent the better part of the past 3 years teaching, that the only thing that can overpower the Power Of ME is the Power of THEE. This is why God scattered the descendants of Noah when it became obvious that even their unity had become a branch of Me – Us, Our. Our agenda, our reputation, our control. However, the power of THEE, is sacrifice, it is freedom, it is glued together by a servant heart, it is a recognition that we are all equally important, we are all loved by God, we are essential pieces of God’s path to His ‘will on earth as it is in heaven.’  The Power of THEE is the only thing that can truly bring us to autonomy. 

This is why Jesus spoke of his purpose being about abundance and life, this is why the apostle Paul would later focus so much on unity, this is why the selfish deceit of Annanias and Saphirra was so dangerous, this is why Jesus was now enlightening his disciples that the key to greatness is the service and sacrifice.

Les Miserables

The broadway musical Les Miserables depicts the catalyst moments leading up to the French revolution. A revolt of the peasants and marginalized against a system where those that had the least were required to carry the greatest burden. A call from a persecuted people for autonomy and freedom, for life. It was a revolution, in the beginning, which began as an effort to allow all people to live with dignity and hope. It was a revolution that finally began as a people realized the only way to achieve greatness was if they were to lower themselves to be servants, to offer themselves in sacrifice for others. They recognized the ramification of The Power Of Thee, of greater purpose than just ME, which would then permit there to be the essential power in WE. This can be heard in their voices, 

“Will you give all you can give

So that our banner may advance?

Some will fall and some will live

Will you stand up and take your chance?

The blood of the martyrs

Will water the meadows of France!”

(‘Do You Hear The People Sing.  Boublil, Schonberg, Kretzmer, Natel.) 

Jesus said, “the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

(Luke 22:26-27)

What about these words of Christ makes us most uncomfortable? What area of our life are we least willing to let those words bathe over us? 

Let’s pray.

Music 3

Here I Am To Worship

CCLI Song # 3266032

Tim Hughes

Verse 1

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

Community

hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) – Bible Study – Thursday

Next Sunday – ‘Abominable’ Lev 18 & 20 

Benediction

Petty: As we go from this place led by an eternal King who is a servant, a servant who is the King.

Kristen: As we go we remember the example of a humble servant who is our King, who is our Deliverer, who is our Hope.

Petty: We do not go led by a King who is stuck in the ways of man, the ways of earth, the stuckness of sin, we go led by the eternal King, the eternal servant.

Kristen: We follow the servant who has revealed that victory is in serving.

Petty: Victory is in compassion.

Kristen: Victory is in mercy.

Petty: We follow the King, who is the Servant, in the path of Grace.

Kristen: We follow the Servant, who is the King, in the path of Peace.

Petty: We go from this place, to our places, where we brush elbows with those to which God has extended Grace.

Kristen: We go from this this place, to our place, where we will join with all go humanity whom God holds with Mercy and Compassion.

Petty: We go from here, to there, and everywhere we go, we go in Love.

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in grace, peace, joy, love, hope.

%d bloggers like this: