Worship January 31, 2021
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.
Come to worship this day. Bring with you all your joys and sorrows and Jesus will offer hope.
Come to worship this day believing in the power of God through Jesus Christ and Jesus will bring us healing.
Come to worship this day feeling the presence of God and Jesus will teach us new ways to live. AMEN.
Open our hearts and spirits this day to hear the great good news of your power and presence with all your people. Fill our hearts with rejoicing as the words are proclaimed in song and story. Invigorate us and remind us that you are with us, through the pillar of fire, through the magnificent words of the prophets, through the ministry and love of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Hymn UMH #57 (Verse 1) O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Scripture Mark 1: 21-28
21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He[a] commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Come Holy Spirit, come and speak with authority in our lives.
Speak to us, and to what is in us, so that we might be whole.
Speak to us, with love, with hope, and with strength, so that we might hear you, and know, deep inside, that we are your people, and that you are our God. Let it be so. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to you. Amen
~ written by Richard Bott, and posted on Sharing Liturgy. http://liturgy.richardbott.com/
My weekly routine includes reading the assigned scripture and pondering it for a couple days. Then I read a couple commentaries about the scripture and I try to focus in on what God want me to preach about.
This week didn’t turn out like normal. I started to focus in on scary things and that led to demons and I even wrote a few paragraphs about demons and spirits. I discovered that there are internet pages upon pages related to Demons.
- I found a list of the top 10 most evil demons.
- I found a list of female demons.
- I found their methods of possession and list of demon hierarchy.
- I even found an A-Z list of demon names and a field guide to demons.
Thursday afternoon came around and I was tempted to just go home and finish in the morning. It seemed I wasn’t getting anywhere except frustrated.
The scripture refers to an unclean spirit and I assumed an unclean spirit was a demonic type thing, but I couldn’t get a clear grasp of how to make that into a meditation. I studied the scripture some more and found other topics I could talk about.
- I could focus on Jesus and his teaching on the sabbath –that was a no-no in Jewish culture.
- There is also the new type of teaching that Jesus is doing – his words were often contrary to what the scribes taught. As pastors say to each other “that would preach.”
- Or there is always the idea that his fame started to spread far and wide.
And yet none of these ideas felt right.
Finally late on Thursday afternoon it came to me – Jesus is so Amazing!
Isn’t it amazing what amazes us today?… It is amazing what it takes to amaze us…..It seems by now we have seen it all and yet there is still more.
When I was a little girl, I was amazed with stories of finding gold. Both my grandparents had little streams running through their property. I spent many hours searching those water for gold nuggets. Well I never found any gold, but I did find many pretty rocks!
Today, we are going to look at Our Amazing Jesus. Perhaps you have never seen the real Jesus who loves you and died for you. Maybe as a follower of Jesus, it has been a while since you looked again at all He has done for you.
- The People Were Amazed – – – They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.
22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
The first thing that captured the attention of the people was His teaching. As young as the age of 12 He was already amazing them with his understanding of the Law. He brought the Word of God to life. The commandments were no longer just rules that were used to beat people down. They were a way of relating to God and to each other that brought harmony and love.
He also taught as one who had authority but unlike the religious leaders of the day his teachings were so different.
He taught in a way that they understood WHY they should follow God – WHY? Because God loved them so. And this amazed the people, because they had been told what to do, when to do it and how to do it — in order to earn God’s favor.
There was a different power about Jesus.
He did things they had never seen before….. He healed people, He fed 1000s, He calmed the seas, He walked on water, His power was amazing.
His power was shown in His Love.
His love knew no boundaries. He loved the down and out. He loved the Samaritans. He even loved the Romans.
His love was full of forgiveness for all.
The Woman caught in Adultery…forgiven, his words – go and sin no more- you and I are forgiven.
I believe that when they, the people of Jesus day, gathered in their homes or on the streets – whenever they gathered together, they would say, “Do you remember the time when Jesus….. And they would sit back and say, “Isn’t He amazing?”
Is Jesus Still Amazing to You? Or maybe have you ever been amazed by Jesus?
Are you amazed by His Word/s – The Bible – The Living Word of God….. It is a miracle that we still have the Bible. How amazing it is that the words of Jesus first shared verbally then written down, then translated, preserved and still with is 2000 plus years later.
Are you amazed by Grace – He Gave Us What We Did not Deserve.
Grace is the spiritual freedom that results when you realize that life is a gift. From this awareness you seek to live in harmony with others. From this friendship arises a profound feeling of happiness as well as spiritual, emotional, and mental freedom.
John Newton wrote – Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…. That save a wretch like me.
His tombstone tells the story, words he wrote – “John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he had so long labored to destroy.” Newton wrote these words himself, a testimony to God’s transforming power. After years as a hardened slave trader, he met Jesus Christ and abruptly turned to Jesus whom he had long despised.
Jesus gave us Mercy – He Didn’t Give Us What We Did Deserve
The song “Mercy Came Running” Song by Phillips, Craig & Dean reads
Once there was a broken heart, Way too human from the start, And all the years left it torn apart, Hopeless and afraid.
Walls I never meant to build, Left this prisoner unfulfilled, Freedom called but even still, It seemed so far away
I was bound by the chains, From the wages of my sin, and just when I felt like giving in
Mercy came running, Like a prisoner set free,
Past all my failures, to the point of my need
When the sin that I carried, Was all I could see,
When I could not reach mercy, Mercy came running to me.
Ephesians Chapter 2 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
When was the last time you wept tears of joy because God save your soul?……..
“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.
O’ How marvelous! O’ How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: O’ How marvelous! O’ How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”
“He took my sins and my sorrows, he made them his very own; he bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.”
“When with the ransomed in glory his face I at last shall see, ’twill be my joy through the ages to
sing of his love for me.”
His Cross – Does the Cross Still Amaze You? His Resurrection – Does The Empty Tomb Still…..? His Heaven – Does His Promise of Heaven Amaze You?
I sometimes look at a cross and with tears in my eyes think of Jesus dying that horrible horrible death on that cross for me and yes for you too.
When we are NOT amazed, we start to live earthly, selfish lives. We stop sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We stop reaching out to those in need. We stop caring for others. If you live without that awe and wonder, don’t you know that pretty soon you will lose that desire to serve God.
But if you DO live in amazement of how much God loves you; how He pours out His forgiveness; if you focus on how willing God is to embrace you and care for you; if you are aware that no matter where you are or where you go, that God is with you. Then something amazing happens – We become like little children again who worship their Heavenly Father in awe and wonder.
CHILDREN ARE AWESOME – I love being with kids. They are full of WONDER and AMAZEMENT. Do you know why? Because most things are New to them. They are having their first experiences with the world……………
God wants us to return to that. To see Him as our awesome Heavenly Father…. And if we do that….
He Will Amaze The World Through Us vs. 28 reads: “At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee”.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Pew Research Center reports that “The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In a telephone survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, they found that the number that identify as Christians was down and the number that describe themselves as unaffiliated with a religious organization was up.
So how in the world can the story of Jesus ever capture the attention of mankind again?
It must start with You and Me. If we are not amazed by what God has done and is doing, they may never stop to listen to His voice.
Jesus amazed the people, and the Disciples went into the world and continued to AMAZE the people in Jesus name. Who is taking the amazing work of Jesus into the world today?
It is us my friends! It is now our task, our calling, to take the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world. If not you then who?
If not us, then who! Amen
With all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, let us draw near to the throne of grace with our praise and petitions to the Lord, as we pray together for our world and all that is within it.
Almighty God, we give thanks for the gift of the body of Christ—believers from every nation and tribe on earthl. We pray for grace and insight to celebrate our commonality and for pardon when we choose to focus on our differences. We pray for protection for those who face persecution. We pray for sustenance for those who are suffering. And we pray for forgiveness for those who are complacent.
Creator God, we give thanks for our world and its abundance beyond measure. We pray for insight as we fulfill our responsibilities as its caretakers and for pardon for times when we have taken these blessings for granted. We pray for protection for all living things that are endangered. We pray for comfort for all living things that are suffering. And we pray for forgiveness for those who callously disregard their responsibility to our earthly home.
Loving God, we give thanks for the gift of communities—rural villages, suburban neighborhoods, city blocks. We pray for tender hearts as we interact with our neighbors and for pardon for times when we have passed by those in need. We pray for protection for those in our community who are threatened. We pray for comfort for those in our community who are suffering. And we pray for forgiveness for those who seek to tear down our community instead of building it up.
Compassionate God, we give thanks for the gift of families and for the cycle of life. We pray for sensitivity and understanding as we interact with our families and pardon for times when we have excluded those in need of love. We pray for protection for those in our families who face danger. We pray for comfort for those who are experiencing difficult family situations. And we pray for forgiveness for those who have caused sorrow to families through their words and deeds.
Patient God, we entrust our prayers to you. Give us insight to understand your leading and guidance as you answer our prayers. Through Jesus Christ our Lord who taught us to pray
For we ask this in Jesus’ Name who taught us to pray as one.
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
Hymn UMH 367 (verse 1) He Touched Me
God calls us to love with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our offerings are a symbol of that commitment and one of our contributions to our congregation’s witness in our neighborhood, in our region, and in our world. You are invited to give generously.
Prayer of Dedication
Gracious and loving God, as a community of faith we share these gifts. We pray that you will bless them, and bless us, as we are the hands of Christ that build your kingdom. We pray that they will bring honor and glory to you as we work together in love. We pray that they will bring comfort and blessing to the needy and oppressed. And we pray that they will be a light to guide all to a closer relationship with you. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Hymn UMH #170 (verse 1) O How I Love Jesus
Jesus comes to us, offering healing and hope, speaking and acting with authority. Listen to him. Go into this world, confident in God’s love and healing power. Go in peace and may God’s love and peace always be with you. AMEN.
- Read Note from Council
Good news: Covid is showing some little signs of getting under control and people in our community are getting vaccinated. Not so good news: it’s still not safe enough for us to re-open. You likely have seen the Governor’s latest directives stating places can start opening indoors. However, our Bishop asks that Methodist Churches continue to wait a little longer to be sure it’s safe.
The Administrative Council met on January 21 to discuss this issue. We have decided to wait a bit longer, we will review this at the Feb. 11 Council. For now, it will be a monthly discussion. Hopefully we can gather together to worship, pray and celebrate very soon.
Stay safe, mask up, social distance, wash your hands and get vaccinated as soon as you are able! Please pray that we can get Covid under control very soon and our community remains safe. Remember, our services are available on YouTube anytime. Please ask if you have any questions.