Worship February 28, 2021
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Come, walk in the light!
The darkness will fall away as we live into our weakness.
Knock down the human made walls and live into transparency.
With love, we come as children of God.
Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.
God knows us and calls us each by name.
Let us worship the One that calls us his beloved children.
What a joy it is for us to be in fellowship with you, O God, and with your son, Jesus Christ! As we worship your holy name and stand in the light of your presence, we pray that you will give us the humble strength to look at our ourselves with honesty and truthfulness. Help us take off the masks we wear, the sins we hide and the wrongs we have done. And by the strength of your Spirit, may our darkness be redeemed by the light of your love. We pray this in the beautiful name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Two Rhode Island churches, Pastored by The Rev. Yohan Go at Zion Korean United Methodist Church in Warwick and Rev. Juhee Lee at Haven United Methodist Church in East Providence, were familiar with the difficulties many churches faced when preparing music for online worship.
Go and Lee began recording music videos and sharing them with their community and Seacoast District local churches in the New England Conference that needed music for their online worship services. Being the Connectional denomination that we are that music is now shared with us.
Today and throughout Lent we are blessed to share in this music.
Hymn UMH# 462 Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (verses 1&4)
Scripture 1 John 3: 1-10 NRSV
3 1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them;[b] they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. 10 The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.[c]
This is the second message in our Lenten series on wrestling with sin. Week one I talked to the topic of living an abundant life. We defined living an abundant life as confirmation that no matter what happens, Jesus will be with us, see us through, provide for our needs, and give us strength for the journey.
Even though life has tests and trials, Christ is with us. Even though we will make mistakes, fall short, give into temptation, sin, and get distracted, Christ promises to never leave us. Grace abounds and is always greater and stronger than our sin. God calls us to live in that assurance, to walk in that abundance, knowing we are never alone, to find strength and joy in knowing that the Lord will fight our battles. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
I closed that message asking “how will you receive the gift of God’s abundant grace and love today?” How might you live into more of the reality of what Christ offers us?
Today we are looking at Facing the Dark to Reach the Light. I am not a fan of total darkness. In fact, total darkness for me brings on a type of claustrophobia. When the lights go out at night my eyes search for that sliver of light from under the door or the faint light of a nightlight or anything that brings me light.
Aristotle Onassis said “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
I found 45 verses of scripture that included the words dark, darkened or darkness.
Before God created light, we read in Genesis 1:2 that darkness covered the earth
Many of the passages about darkness are also include something like Psalm 18:28 saying “my God turns my dark into light”
In comparison I found 68 verses that included the words light (enlightened) and lights
As early as Genesis 1:3 we read “Let there be light”
And at the end in Revelation 22 “For the Lord God will give them light”
Some Bibles a Concordance in the back of the book. If your’ s does pick a word and read the corresponding words. In fact today I suggest you look at the words dark-darkened-darkness and light. For you confirmation families look at your confirmands bible and you will find the concordance in the back.
Darkness is often associated with evil. Often, it is classified as a type of energy that the villain draws upon. In many good vs. evil stories, light is the good and the opposite of the negative which is darkness.
Darkness is often used in Scripture as a symbol of sin and its effects. It is often contrasted with light, as a symbol of forgiveness and the presence of God.
To contrast all that dark negative stuff we also find God’s provision for dealing with it.
We all have this darkness of sin in our lives. To find true healing, we have to face the hard truths. Part of the healing process is realizing that something is broken. This brokenness is the darkness that overshadows our lives. The good news is there’s freedom in the light.
Having grown up going to church and Sunday School I had some head-knowledge of sin. I had heard about the bad stuff that we as humans called sin. I knew the ten commandments and the big bible stories but it was all head knowledge.
Then in the early 1990’s things changed, and my head knowledge changed to heart knowledge. By that I mean I found and developed my relationship with God.
With that change came the realization that somethings I did regularly were sins that I was not acknowledging as such. I started hearing or feeling God nudging me to take a look at the sin of gossip. Once I acknowledged that I was indeed engaging in gossip I started to feel something not so good when I slipped into sharing some-sort of an exchange, maybe a story that was not mine to tell.
And after about two years of listening to God I found I was better at not verbalizing that that was gossip but it still came into my mind and then God got me to working on not even thinking about things that were not mine to think about.
Well many years have gone by since this originally happened. I can tell you that I am better than I was but still my sin of gossip slips in and I must be reminded over and over.
Gossip was and is a problem, a struggle for me that I had to admit to myself and to God.
So often, we are not truthful with ourselves about the real problems and issues, the darkness, that exist in our lives. These struggles can live with us for years and we do all we can to not actually face them. But what’s that one thing that you don’t want to face? What’s that issue?
- The book of 1 John was written by the Apostle John to combat the idea that once you accepted Jesus, your sin was forgiven and you could do anything you want. It gives us some truth about this faith walk, and through that truth bring us into true relationship with Christ.
- One of the biggest components of a relationship is honesty with others and ourselves. As we wrestle with sin, we won’t get anywhere unless we’re honest with ourselves, and honest with God. Verse 6 says unless we face and recognize our sin, we lie only to ourselves. Even in that moment, whatever came to your mind, that deep thing you don’t want to face – that is God speaking to you.
- Verse 3 says we must face these dark places, so that our joy may be complete. We can never have true and complete joy, until we deal with these dark places. By holding on to dark places, we allow evil to kill our inner peace and destroy our relationship with Christ, keeping us from the abundant life Christ calls us to live.
- Verse 7 shows us that by facing and stepping out of the darkness into the light, we walk in true fellowship with God and with one another. Together, we walk in that light and hold each other up with true honesty, accountability, and relationship with God and each other.
When we take a hard look at ourselves, face the spiritually dark places and attempt to live differently, we find that all our relationships will change.
- Our Self- Self-esteem and our self-worth will increase because we aren’t living a lie. Before my “come to Jesus” moment about my issue with gossip I am sure I would never have told anyone that this was a sin of mine. I would have buried it deep not wanting anyone to know but of course people knew. How could they not know since I was freely talking about others.
- Our relationship with others changes. – Our relationships become become more true and real. When we are authentically ourselves as we were created other will see this change. Oh they may not identify what changed but they will know something changed and then the relationship changes.
- And of course our relationship with God strengthens because there is no more hiding. We are walking fully in the light and growing into deeper and deeper relationship with God.
What one thing can you do today to address and face your sin? Jesus went to a cross, died and rose so that we could walk in the light and know that we are forgiven. Yet that means to admit, even to ourselves, where we fall short (sin). As we go into prayer, name your darkness before God. How will you then walk into the light? What action step do you need to take to “go and sin no more”? Disconnect your internet? Change your eating habits? A phone call you need to make? Pray for your spouse or even yourself instead of carrying the anger? Let go of something that’s had you bound for way too long?
When come to God facing the darkness in our lives we find the beauty of light and in that beauty we are better and life is better.
God of Light, you have created us for relationship:
to love one another,
to be honest,
and to maintain the bonds of peace.
We confess that there are times when we keep the truth hidden, hoping that we can keep everyone around us in the dark, so that no one will be able to see our imperfections.
But God, you are light, and in you all things are made known.
We ask for your forgiveness and your help, that we would be children of the light and find our joy in your truth.
In the name of Jesus Christ, praise God, we are forgiven!
And together we pray in the name of the One that taught us saying
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
As we prepare to give this day, we acknowledge that individually and collectively we struggle to be honest about the difficulties we have in our lives and faith journeys. Today we ask God to use us, just as our monetary gifts are used, to further the kingdom by living into our full God-given potential.
Prepare your offering as we listen to This Is My Father’s World reminding us that all we have is God’s
Special Music This Is My Father’s World
Prayer of Dedication
As we bring these gifts to you oh God, open our eyes to you. Awaken our spirits to receive you in new ways. Revive our hearts that we might make room for more of you. Flow through our church and our ministry, that your love and your light might flow through us and into our community and this dark world in which we live. In the name of Jesus, our Light and our Salvation. Amen.
Hymn UMH #377 When Peace Like a River (verses 1&3)
Beloved Children of God
May the Source of life hold you in the faith;
the Word of life speak clearly in truth around you;
and Breath of life, of grace, of wisdom,
sing in your inmost being this day and all your days. Amen.