Worship March 7, 2021
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we will read that as the Jesus’ fingers traced in the sand, the truth was revealed.
We ask Him to break open our hearts, to receive the truth.
We must cast off our stones of condemnations and labels.
And let Jesus enter into our lives and show us the way.
To receive God’s grace and love.
Let us worship today with eyes clear and hearts open.
Forgiving and merciful God, even in our worst moments, you see us through the lens of love, and you offer us redemption. It is more than we can ever earn, and it is more than we deserve. We gather as humble and thankful people to worship and praise your holy name. By the strength of your Spirit, help us to see ourselves and others through your lens of love. Amen
Hymn Because He Lives Led by Pastor Sooah and YK
Scripture John 8:1-11 NRSV
8 1 Each went to his own home while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.[a] 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.”[b] And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”]][c]
Meditation You Are Not Your Sin
Do you ever feel like what we have done is who we are?
We all mess up, fall short, do the wrong things, but this is not WHO we are. Messing up, falling short, doing the wrong things is only what we have done and not who we are. We are the children of a loving and forgiving God.
What were you in high school or even in the neighborhood in which you grew up? … A nerd, jock, band geek, artist, musical theater kid, skateboarder, a good kid, a bad kid?
In high school I think I walked a fine line between a “musical never get in trouble kid” and a “get in trouble little more adventurous kid”. The musical good kid never seemed to get into trouble, but the adventurous kid may have been in the principal’s office or sitting at a home a time or two. We easily put ourselves and even others into boxes. But the point is these things do not have to define us. We are so more than that. And there is much more that defines who we are.
When I was entering ministry, I wanted to let more distant family and friends know so I posted the following on Facebook,
If you have known me since I was in my teens and twenties your response to what I am about to say would likely be “no way”.
If you have known me since I was in the 30’s and 40’s you might respond with just an “oh, ok” and if you have known me for the last ten to twenty years you might say something like “I can see it”.
So my news is that I have accepted the role of pastor of two United Methodist churches. We are moving to Mora, MN where one of the churches is located and will also serve at the Ogilvie UMC.
I am in the process of transitioning out of my role at Dow (retiring) and moving into the role of pastor.
Rod and I feel called to serve God in this manner and are excited to be there. We are moving early in November.
God is good!
Many many of my friends and family responded to that post. Three responses from high school friends seem appropriate to share with as we talk about how we put ourselves and others in boxes.
- No way!! One of the “Mod Squad” done good. Mod Squad is what our group called ourselves in high school. If I remember correctly, we wore dark blue windbreakers to differentiate ourselves. She closed with “Happy for you!!”
- Another friend but not as close as my mod squad friend said.
I remember you from your teens so I say “No way!!!”. It’s obvious by your decision that God has been at work in your life and has led you to this all important decision. And he goes on to say “I pray that he will continue to bless you and bless all the people you will be leading. God is good!!!”
- And a third high school friend said.
I know you from your teens – so I hope it’s appropriate to say – miracles do happen!! And she continues “Best wishes to you and to those that you will lead in faith!!”
My mod squad friend was one of my more adventurous friends, together we did life kind of on edge. The other two were either from my music good kid box or just knew me as a classmate. It seems they saw me as in the more adventurous on the edge box.
We very easily put ourselves and others into boxes. And if we are not careful, we can let those boxes define our entire lives. Years later, we can look back and see that is not who we are.
Ok, I have to be honest and admit that I still kind-of fit into both of my previously mentioned boxes, but they don’t totally define me. God has molded and refined and shaped me and He continues to do so. Not me defined by my sins but me defined as His beloved child. Oh and I have not been sent to principles office recently!
The same can happen with our sin or what we have done. We allow that sin to overcome us and define how we live and how we see ourselves. It is all too easy to say, “oh, I’m just…” or “God will never forgive me for …”
Does one sin (or sin area) come into your mind when I say, “‘THAT sin’ does not define you?”
I will be honest and tell you that I used to– as a believer– live under the weight and shame of past sin. The cloak of “not good enough” that I wore influenced every interaction I had, especially in the church.
In my mind it disqualified me from relationships with certain godly people. I felt “less than,” and (even if it did not show on the outside), inside I felt shame.
And I do not think I’m alone in having that experience.
One of our satin’s sneakiest schemes is that he tries to convince us that we are defined by our sin, rather than by the holiness of the One Who saved us from that sin.
Things we knowingly participated in, things we felt unable to break free from, and things we did and later regretted… there is hardly a person among us who doesn’t have a “THAT sin” buried away somewhere in the shadowy corners of our heart.
However “big,” however “small,” we all have the potential to be burdened by the weight of sin.
In John 8 we see a woman defined by her sin, remembered for 2000 years just for her sin, not even given a name. How easily do we do that to ourselves? We remember only what we have done and define ourselves by those things. And doesn’t it seem that the things we remember are the things that hold us back, the things that belittle us, the negative things, the hurtful, the painful, that which we are ashamed of…
This woman was brought before Jesus because of her sin, sin seen by others, sin identified by others. She was paraded in making her stand in the center surrounded by them and in front of Jesus. They told Jesus she was caught in adultery and that according to the law she was to be stoned to death. The Pharisees were using this woman and her sin to try to trap Jesus into either going against the Law of Moses or going against the Romans.
But Jesus addresses the crowd saying, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Hearing this the crowd walks away and Jesus asks the woman “where are they? Has no one condemned you?” The woman says, “no one sir” and then Jesus gets up out of the dust and looks at her and says, “go and sin no more.”
The religious leaders and the crowd labelled the woman an adulteress – they put her in a sinful box. But when Jesus posed one small question, everyone had to walk away. You see there is no ranking of sins and we are all forgiven. No matter what you have done, no matter how long ago or how recent, Christ says you are more than whatever the sin is. Christ sees you for who you are and who you can be.
How has your identity been formed by your sin? What do you carry with you because of a past sin? What have you taken on because of your sin? What does your self-talk sound like? Following the exact law, the woman should have been stoned that day. The law was clear that death was to be imposed. But here is the good news, Jesus forgives that woman and Jesus forgives us. We are not defined by where we have been or what we have done.
When Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more, he is freeing her and us. We can live our lives free and new. We can live our lives as beloved children of God with no strings attached. As we look forward to this Easter season, we remember that it is because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that we are born anew. Each day is a new opportunity to start again, to go and sin no more.
Carry with you this scripture from 1 John 2:12
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.”
As believers in Christ, we do not have to carry the weight of that old burden any longer. We are free of those old ways. With Jesus as our Lord and Savior, there is mercy. There is forgiveness. There is an awareness that we are dust. There is HIS righteousness given to us. It is not through our own doings but through our His Word and Spirit alive in us.
Friends whatever, “THAT” sin is it does not define who you are. Your GOD defines you. He is what gives you value and worth and wholeness.
Your identity is not in the magnitude of your sin, but in your magnificent Savior. Amen
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
God of New Beginnings,
When we can only think the worst of others,
you see every good thing that is possible.
When we can only speak ill of others,
you call us each by name and sing songs of love over us.
When we cannot even see ourselves as those made in your image,
you remind us that we are your children,
and that you would lay down everything for us.
Empower us by your grace to be gracious to all.
While the world stands ready to condemn, our Lord Jesus stands ready to forgive;
and not only forgive, but also restore us to full and abundant life.
In the name of Jesus Christ, praise God, we are forgiven!
And through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we are taught 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 #640 Take Our Bread
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.
This day we admit that we have limited ourselves and the potential within us because we doubt that we are enough. This day we claim that who we are in this moment is exactly who God wants to use to further the kingdom. As we give today, we pray to claim that we are enough.
God of our Salvation, as we give these offerings to you, we give ourselves to you also; recognizing that in you, we live and breathe. Thank you that we are new creatures in Christ; that our pasts are not our identity, and that grace still abounds. We bring these gifts to you, sowing seeds that this message of hope and salvation might go beyond these four walls, through us, your church. In your Son’s name, Amen.
HYMN Because He Lives Led by Pastor Sooah and YK
We have reflected on our own weaknesses, and on the frailty of others.
Jesus says ‘Go and sin no more. So we go, no longer accusing ourselves of sins that have been forgiven,
nor condemning others for the sins that God has forgiven them.
As receivers of God’s grace we ask for help to be grace-givers in the week ahead.
In the name of Christ. Amen.