Message for June 6, 2021

Mora UMC

June 6, 2021



*Call to Worship

Leader: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ.

People: Let us go therefore and make disciples of all nations.

Leader: Let us baptize the nations;

People: Let us baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Leader: Let us obey all that Christ has commanded.

People: Let us teach all that Christ has commanded.

Leader: Remember, Christ is with us always;

All: Christ is with us to the end of the age.*Opening Prayer

Jesus, our Savior, in response to your call to be your faithful disciples, we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Open our lives and teach us how to follow your great commission to make disciples of all nations, to baptize and teach them your ways. Let us know the full blessings of our God— Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen

*Hymn            UMH #61                     Come, Thou Almighty King (verses 1,3,4)

Recognition of Graduates

Today we recognize our class of 2021 high school graduate. Please pray with me…

As you see the end of your high school classes and this phase of your education ceases, may you strive toward excellence in all you do.
As the speeches conclude, may your voices rise up to pronounce justice and peace in the world.
As the fanfares cease, may you sing of joy, even in the dark and lonely places.
As the applause quiets, may you celebrate and lift up those around you.
As you graduate, may your achievements grow and cause growth in your communities.
And may we all know of the overwhelming blessings of the One who created all things. Amen

Today we recognize, Dane Halverson Tess Houglum, Magdalena Venhuizen and Zander Gravning.  (Grads come forward)

We are gathered together to celebrate the accomplishments of a members of our community.

We give blessings to you Dane, Tess, Maggy and Zander for all that you have achieved and your many more achievements yet to come.

One part of your life’s journey is complete. You will prepare to begin another phase that will take you to unimaginable places.

As you prepare for your next journey, we hope that you remember the ones you leave behind, who have loved and supported you throughout the years.

We give you blessings of good will and love as you journey forth into the world.

We thank you for the time and fellowship that you have shared with us and we pray that as you begin your next journey, you remember the times that we all have shared with you.

Use those memories as encouragement to guide you on your path. Don’t look back; continue only forward, while using those memories to create a new path.

We pray that God will give you strength and determination to develop new relationships that will help to strengthen and sustain your faith.

Because we are made in the image of God, we have been blessed with free will to make choices and decisions.

We pray that you make wise and rational decisions, always turning to God for help.

God hears, God listens, God is always with you. Do not forget that.

Always keep in mind that God is around and if you turn to him, he will guide you.

Let us pray

You, Great Teacher, guide us all as students of life lived in faith;

Since before written word, you have walked with us in our struggles and in our celebrations.
It was you bursting old wine skins with new wine on the mount.
It was you feeding the multitudes with your words on the plain.
It is you who are the light that is passed from generation to generation in the journey of life.
It is you walking with these graduates as we bless them in your name.
Continue to walk with Luke and Joe  as we bless them in your name.

Join me in lifting your hands over Dane, Tess, Maggie and Zander as we continue to pray together

May God’s bright flame from the lamp of knowledge guide you.
May God’s warm glow off the pages of this book of wisdom comfort you.
May the cool baptismal waters of God continue to refresh you in your endings and new beginnings.
May your Soul always be fed at Christ’s table,
may your Heart always be open in the presence of the Holy Spirit,
and may your Mind be transformed in the mighty presence of the Great “I Am.”

God is with you. God is with us. Go with God. Amen.

Scripture        Matthew 28:16-20

The Commissioning of the Disciples

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


My friend Amy used to own a little red Aspire and she said it was not much bigger or more powerful than an enclosed lawn mower.  She claimed that It ASPIRED to reach the speed limit.

She still has a love for that little car!  She touts its great gas mileage and says she had a neat little stereo system put in.  And she proudly says she could roll up the passenger side window while sitting in the driver’s seat.

Aspires have been out of production for more than 20 years so there probably are not very many on the road anymore.

For comparison purposes I looked at the dimensions to get an idea of the Aspires size and I compared it to today’s Smart Car, a car I see around a lot.

The Aspire was almost 13 feet long and the Smart Car is just 8 feet long. Clearly what Amy thought represented a small car in 1997 got even smaller – a whole lot smaller.

Amy said she truly felt like she was styling driving around in her Aspire.  And she continues one evening, I ran out of gas down in the cities.  I was not too worried.  I called a friend and within 15 minutes I was already headed back to my car with a can of gas.  Easy fix.

Everyone runs out of gas once and while.  No worries.

Please note that I did not stop Amy at this point in her story to tell her that my car has never run out of gas. Most of the time a quarter tank makes me stop at the gas pump.

Running out of gas was a whole lot more serious on the East Coast during the recent gas shortage that occurred when the nation’s number one pipeline was hacked and shut down.

The pictures I saw were wild, people doing just about anything they could to assure they wouldn’t run out.

Anyway…gas is usually easy to get.  Amy said she got some, headed back, no worries.

Until…arrived at the spot I had run out of gas…and NO car.  I was absolutely stunned she said!

A quote from Amy “How could someone steal my car?  So fast?  A car thief would have had to know to bring gas with them!

She continued, “You can probably can guess where this is headed.  And then it finally sank in, “Oh, noooo somebody towed it!”

“My cute little vehicle had been towed in less than 15 minutes!

Didn’t seem fair.

Okay…so we know that Amy should have been paying closer attention to the gas gauge, the needle indicating how much gas she had left.  Cars need gas to go.  It’s just the way cars work.

In the Road Trip sermon series we are starting today, I bet you have some good stories about traveling and some running out of gas stories.

Running out of gas happens in our faith life too.  Have you ever been in a place in your spiritual journey where you felt like you were running on empty?  Where your spiritual gas tank had been all used up?

Needle BELOW the E for empty, empty empty?

There are indicators our spiritual tanks our empty just like when that “low fuel warning light” comes on.

An indicator for me is that I get short with others, irritable, and impatient or cranky and frankly not all that excited about coming to church.

Another indicator might be when you find yourself praying less and less for yourself or for others.

Or someone wants you to join them delivering Meals on Wheels or working a shift at the Food Panty. But you find you just don’t have it in you and maybe even think “someone else can do that, I don’t feel like it.”  You just feel flat.  No spark of interest.

You don’t even seem to have the energy or desire to invest in your spiritual life, to grow your relationship with God.  No desire to pull together as a community in building fellowship or finding ways to serve and love others.

If that’s true.  Your soul may be running on empty.

If that’s true.  Well, you are not alone.

If that’s how you honestly feel inside, you are in good company. We all feel that way from time to time.

As more and more churches are opening their doors for services, and as I connect with my other pastor friends; and even our Conference Leaders are finding…two things to be true.

  • Across the board pastors are running on empty and whole congregations are running on empty.

This pandemic has had some positive qualities, positive things it has taught us as we come out of it.  And some negative qualities, some things that line up squarely in the negative column.

Pastors and churches are running on empty.

Getting back into the building has not fixed the need we all have to fill up our spiritual tanks.  It was never designed to.  But Church attendance was never designed to be the only way we fill up our faith tanks either.

So, if you are running on empty what can we do?  What good news does God have for us?

We can learn from the early disciples.

How did they go from being lost and empty?  Jesus had been arrested, crucified and laid in a tomb.  The disciples had gone into hiding.

How did they go from hiding to being on fire for God, how did they go from not knowing where or what to do to being led by the Spirit of God, boldly talking about Jesus?  How did they go from dead on the side of the road to a full tank?

Well they went with a fully charged batter and engaged with God, excited to work together, and expectant to see God move.

Remember Matthew 28…

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  Jesus showed up and said, “…Go and make disciples of all nations.  “Let’s go on the greatest Adventure together, building relationships with others for my sake.” 

And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Jesus’ way of calling “Shotgun I’m right there with ya!” And then Jesus ascends into the clouds never to return.

Imagine what they were saying amongst themselves, imagine the comments about this world-changing mission they had just been handed.

Perhaps their comments included things like, “This is just too hard, too much!  How do we do this!?  Where do we even start?”  “Jesus knows there are only 11 of us, right?”

The disciples desperately needed a way to move FORWARD.

But Jesus told them to WAIT.

Jesus said, “…wait for the gift my Father has promised…John baptized with water but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

And then as we heard two weeks ago, “When the day of Pentecost came (a Jewish holiday), they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…”

Well, that’s pretty dramatic!  Loud and violent and tongues of fire?  But the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.

God saw the needs of the disciples.  God knew full well they couldn’t do this mission without help.  So, God sent all the help they could ever need in the Person of God the Holy Spirit.

They were filled.  Their tanks were filled up again.  They had more than enough of what they needed to do what they had been called to do.  Because they had God living and filling them up from the inside.

The Holy Spirit then mobilized those fearful apostles to go out boldly into the world, tanks filled to overflowing, batteries fully charged…prepared for the mission.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew what the disciples needed, and God provided.

On that day, God the Spirit started to pour himself out.  And God has never stopped pouring himself out.  It wasn’t a once and done kind of thing.

The Spirit has never stopped moving on the face of the earth, in the nations, in countries, living in hearts of believers and churches that were simply open and aware of their need.

Filling them and moving them towards the mission of loving others and helping others follow Jesus.

Has God changed?  Has the mission changed? Does God still see our need?

Okay, maybe we won’t feel the mighty wind or see tongues of fire.  We are Minnesotans after all, and we don’t need a big circus…

But I wonder what would happen if we simply asked God to fill our tanks?

A young confirmand recently shared she felt like the Pandemic was the best thing that could have happened to her.

She found herself spending time with God in prayer, reading her Bible and drawing closer to God.  Her tank was refilled.

Our cat Nala likes to have her belly rubbed until she doesn’t. we have a morning ritual where she rolls on her back and stretches out really long. This is her invitation for me to rub her belly.

When she’s done… she bites me – hard. I try to escape the bit but usually I am not fast enough. I have come to think that her bite is a way of telling me that her tank is full!

Saw this on Facebook.  One mother wrote…the whole world paused this morning.  Do you know why? Because an 8 year old’s tank was empty.

His brothers had already started their school day at home, sitting at their desks.  I was preparing to leave for work.  When I noticed my littlest standing in the bathroom wiping his face.

I paused at the door and asked if he was okay. He looked up with tears silently dripping and shook his head.

When I questioned if something happened, again he shook his head.  So, I sat on the side of the tub and pulled him in my lap. I told him sometimes our heart tanks feel empty and need to be refilled.

He cried into my chest and I held tight.  I asked if he could feel my love filling him up?  A nod, and tears stopped…

I waited a minute…

‘Has it reached your toes yet?’ He shook his head no…

‘Okay little man. We will take as long as you need. Work doesn’t matter right now. School isn’t important either. This right here, is the most important thing today, okay? Filling you back to the top. Is that good?’  *nods*

One more minute… “Is your heart full of mama’s love now?’ ‘Yeah…’

I look in his eyes.  I see the love shining in there.  “You’re full to the top, and you’re smiling!”

Then the mom said to us all…  You may not be 8- you may be 28, 58, 98…but ALL of us run on empty sometimes just like my boy.  His weekend was so busy and so full and his little soul was just dry!!!

The mom continues…We all have to pause and take a moment to refill with the good things.

Scripture, prayer, sunshine, worship, song, laughter, friends, hugs. Refill when you are empty, or you’ll find those emotions (tears, anger, snappy words) overflowing with no reason why.

Take a moment. Refill. It’s the most important part of your day!

Do you know that God will do this for you?  God will hold us until our love tank is full?

God wil do this for us, hold us and turn our empty hearts into full hearts…again.

God poured himself out for us…we now know that God is ready and willing every day to fill us up, to refill our tanks.

Let’s pray right now for God to refill us.

Dear Lord,

We come as we are, maybe a bit empty, maybe our battery is running low.  It’s okay.  You do some of your best work when we are empty.  We ask that you simply fill us up.

Hold us and refill our love tank, fill us to overflowing…let the love shine out of our eyes.  Give us all that we need to serve You and help other dry souls know the love, purpose, and life You have for them.  Amen!

*Hymn            UMH #569                   We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations (verses 1,3,4)

Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer

Out of our ordinary, everyday lives, you have gathered us here, Holy God, to this time of worship, to this time of praise.

We join with angels and archangels and all the company of the saints to bless you, to listen for your Word, to immerse ourselves in your grace, in your love.

Open our eyes, our hearts, our minds Take the chaos of the world that has found its way into our hearts — speak your Word and give order and form and new creation.

Take the failures and defeats, the guilt and the shame that bind our spirits — speak your Word and set us free.

Take our longings for your goodness to shape our lives, this community, the hurting world — speak your Word and infuse us with your courage and your hope and your love.

Then, awaken us to your Holy Spirit who is making all things new, even us.

We ask in Jesus’ name who sends us out to speak love and mercy and grace to those who are waiting longing hoping for a sign that they are not alone, that you are a God of love, that you are a Savior who knows their name, that the Holy Spirit is leading them home.

~ posted on Christine Jerrett.

In the name of Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray as one community.

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 # 641                   Fill My Cup, Lord

Communion and Prayer of Thanksgiving    

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine.

Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory are yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.

The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.      

The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery
in which you have given yourself to us.

Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Today we have been called to go out to show Christ’s love to all nations; through our offering we take the first step to meet the needs of others in our neighborhood, our region and the world. As United Methodist our offerings are joined together to meet the needs of many. Give as you feel called.

*Doxology UMH # 95             Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

*Prayer of Dedication

God of all nations, let us act upon the call to serve all people in your name. Take these gifts, multiply them, and give us the strength and courage to be your change to bring your Kingdom to this world. Amen.

*Hymn   UMH #389                Freely, Freely 


The high point has been reached. The stone has rolled. The grave cloths have been folded. So now simply remember what He has told you…All authority in Heaven and on earth is His. As we go from here, let us keep faith in Him.


Thank you to our accompanist Deanna Gotschall Gorsegner

Posted in ,