September 5, 2021
*Call to Worship
Leader: God has made us for Godself.
People: God has made us for each other.
Leader: We gather to give our hearts and lives to God.
People: We gather to give our hearts and lives to each other.
Leader: We seek genuine faith in the midst of false promises in our world.
People: May our faith be expressed in word and action.
Leader: We seek to love God and love our neighbor.
People: May our love be expressed in word and action. Amen.
Faithful One, make us rich in faith. Let our faith spill out from our hearts into all we do and say and are. Let it feed and clothe, comfort and set free, reconcile and make new. Let it change not only us but also others. You are faithful. May we be faithful. Amen.
*Hymn UMH# 451 Be Thou My Vision
Scripture James 2:1-7, 14-17
Warning against Partiality
2 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
Faith without Works Is Dead
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
This is the word of God for the people of God
Thanks be to God
Meditation Genuine Faith
Gracious God, even as people of faith our lives can be messy and difficult. We have come together to collectively devote ourselves to holy living, through the care and support of this community. May our time together help us to live out what it means to be a committed follower of Jesus. Amen.
Genuine faith not only affects personal existence, but also produces change in the world.
Doesn’t it feel good to be someone’s favorite, maybe just once and awhile? Maybe you were grandpa’s favorite or grandma’s favorite. For me I was grandma’s favorite until I got mouthy and then it seemed to change but that is a story for another time.
I loved being the favorite! My grandparents had 7 grandchildren and I was the oldest. They had three sons and along came this roly-poly baby girl. I always felt like I was special in grandma’s eyes.
I loved it when I was staying with her, and we would go to town. We would go to Finnigan’s the local grocery store and sure enough someone would say “and who is this” and Grandma would say “this my granddaughter” Oh how proud I felt! It was as if I could hear the favoritism in grandma’s voice.
My grandma didn’t give me things to show me that I was her favorite, instead she gave me her time and attention.
I recently ready about a woman in North Dakota that took favoritism to a whole new level.
By Michael Anthony Published: Aug. 30, 2021
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids, but one Williston grandma has taken that to extremes. She lavishes any child she sees with cash.
When Grandma Cindy goes shopping, she’s not always looking for groceries. Sometimes, she’s just trying to brighten up the lives of any child she meets.
“It’s just that they are not expecting anything at all and so when you do it you think you’ve gave them the world,” said Cindy Bastien.
What Grandma Cindy does is hand out one-dollar bills to kids who are complete strangers.
“Grandma always has a dollar,” said Bastien.
And pure excitement is what happens is what happens when she gives them away.
It’s hard not to have a good day when you receive money from complete strangers.
“I just ran into her at the grocery store a handful of times and she always gives my little girl a dollar,” said Crystal Monson. “They love her they love to see her. She’s a great part of our community.”
Grandma Cindy’s story of sharing began in 2016. She and her husband Jim faced life-threatening ailments. With her family by their side, they recovered, and thus Grandma Cindy was born.
“The good Lord saved me. He saved my husband Jim and I just had to do something to make me different than what I was before,” said Bastien
Cindy’s daughter Kari Stiyer often accompanies her mother on goodwill tours.
“She’s my mom and I’m really proud of her,” said Stiyer.
No matter where she goes, Grandma Cindy is usually greeted by familiar faces, and she always makes sure to keep a few bucks on hand when meeting new people.
Grandma Cindy estimates she has given away more than 1,000 one-dollar bills to children since her injury.
Copyright 2021 KFYR. All rights reserved.
I think I want to be a grandma to all children like Grandma Cindy is to all children.
In school I remember having my favorite friend, often called my best friend. Of course that best friend changed as if on a whim. This last spring my friend Diane died. In hindsight I think I realized that Diane was a long-term favorite friend. I also realized that having Diane as a favorite friend di not exclude anyone else from being a favorite friend.
It took all the years between high school and now to understand that having one favorite didn’t mean there weren’t other favorites. As I have grown in my personal faith, I see the world differently. As my faith matured so did my look at the world. Like so many things my opinion of favoritism has also changed. Now I think of my siblings, and I wish that they had had that special feeling with grandma that I had.
Grandma Cindy lived her life by sharing herself with others – all equally and without playing favorites.
This sermon series – Living Faith – speak specifically about our Wesleyan heritage and connecting that heritage to its Biblical foundations. We are looking at Living our faith through the lens of the epistle of James.
John Wesley made for us the connection between faith and personal and social holiness. Each of the following weeks looks at one of Wesley’s General Rules in connection with a passage from James.
Living Faith | Sermon Series
Week 1: Genuine Faith | Scripture: James 2:1-7, 14-17
Genuine faith not only affects personal existence, but also produces change in the world.
Week 2: Do No Harm | Scripture: James 3:1-12
Words hold the power of life and death. What you say matters: speak life and back up your words with actions.
Week 3-18: Do Good | Scripture: James 3:13, (4:1-3)
God’s wisdom is first of all pure, peace-loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others.
Week 4: Stay in Love with God | Scripture: James 5:13-20
Being in love with God isn’t about getting what we want; it’s all about relationship.
My hope is that through this sermon series we will all have our faith challenged, expanded and grown.
Many of us have had times when we got too comfortable in our faith and neglected areas where we could keep growing. And many of us have gotten to a place in life where our faith is comfortably in a box, and we take it out only in certain places like at church, home, around certain friends and family, but not around everyone. But faith is not a matter of convenience. Faith is not meant to be just a thought or feeling that brings us comfort. It is meant to change the way we live.
The community receiving this letter from James was experiencing something we often see now as well. Wealthy visitors to the synagogue or church were being welcomed and given a place of honor whereas poor visitors were being told to sit at the feet of the wealthy. How often do we see people’s social status or monetary worth, and either extend grace or overlook people based on it? This practice, both in the ancient world and now is a reflection of worldly values.
Genuine faith in Jesus Christ challenges the worldly values that we often inherit from the culture around us, (favoritism, prejudices, etc.). The text teaches us that discrimination or “partiality” is a sin. In Christ, all have value, whether poor or rich, regardless of position or status. The letter goes even further to point out that God has “chosen the poor… to be heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him,” (verse 5). God loves everyone but God will bring about justice for those who are oppressed.
Genuine faith produces changed lives, good works, and social change. But it is often tempting to think we are saving ourselves or earning salvation by doing these things. People often have trouble with understanding that Jesus alone does the work of salvation: not us, not our works, or gifts, but only Jesus. No one deserves salvation more than another. This does not mean that faith is passive. Faithful work is the result of our salvation, not the cause of our salvation. When James says in verse 14, “Can faith save you?” he’s not implying that we save ourselves through faith or good works but that good works are the productive signs of our faith. Our human response of faith is itself a gift of grace from God and this faith, if genuine, produces good works. In this way, our actions and our lives show other people what we believe, witnessing to what Jesus has done for us and in us.
For John Wesley, it’s not just about responding personally in faith, but that response also has implications for the world we live in. We see this in the book of James, where faith affects the social system. The kin(g)dom of God flips the value system of our broken world upside down. As Christians, we are called to live as kin(g)dom people here and now. When you look at this from a Wesleyan perspective, there is no personal holiness that is not ultimately social holiness. If the values of your faith do not play out in your social existence, then it is questionable if you really hold these values in your personal existence. “Christianity is a social religion; to turn it into a solitary affair is to destroy it,” (John Wesley).
Faith does not exist in a box. Faith truly becomes faith when you take it out and show it for the world around you to see. How do you live out a faith that believes that Jesus Christ came for all, and all have a place in the kin[g]dom? This also means not being ashamed to be a living testimony to God’s grace and mercy. Where do we still see favoritism at work in our church or community, be it prejudice or classism, or just overlooking people? In what ways do we exclude people, possibly through insider language, or closed circles, etc.?
Imagine what our town might look like if the church was known more for what it did in the community than____(the stained glass windows, the organ, or whatever applies to your building.) What if, in our mission, we saw people as whole persons, children of God, rather than just identifying them with one of their needs (poor, hungry, etc.)? It’s impossible to truly be the church we are called to be if we keep our faith in a box, or a building, or on one day of the week, and we never let it change the world around us.
Gracious God, as we close out our time together, we thank you for our time together. Allow what we have discussed to bear fruit in our lives. We lift the needs of all those who are a part of this group as well as our congregation and community. May we go forth in a way that leads to new life and a deeper faith, not just for us but for all we meet. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn UMH # 393 Spirit of the Living God
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Lord, listen to your children praying. Listen to our words, but don’t stop there. Listen to what there is way down deep inside of us –the fear we mask with false bravado; the doubt we disguise with narrow-minded fervor; the pain we hide from the world behind smiles that fool the unobservant. Lord, listen to your children praying, and forgive us for being childish instead of childlike. Forgive us for not playing fair; for wanting to take our toys and go home when things don’t go our way; for making fun of those who are different. Forgive us for wanting always to be the center of attention; for pointing and laughing at others who struggle or stumble; for taking seconds and thirds and fourths before others have had even firsts. Lord, listen to your children praying. Lord, send your spirit in this place. Send your spirit to calm our fears and to confront our prejudices. Send your spirit to open our minds and to awaken our compassion. Send your spirit to breathe new life into the church you have called and commissioned to carry your gospel into the world. Lord, listen to your children praying. Listen to our prayers of petition (concerns)And listen to our prayers of gratitude (joys)Lord, listen to your children praying. Send us love, enough for ourselves with plenty left over to share; send us power, along with the wisdom to use it well; and send us grace, to heal the wounds we bear, especially those self-inflicted. Lord, we pray because we believe you are listening. Thank you. Amen.
We ask all this in your son’s name, who taught us to pray together
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 TFWS #2162 Grace Alone
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.
We give of what we have so that people in our community and around the world may be clothed, fed, and cared for. We give to make our church a place where every person is welcomed to have a seat at the table. We give as a commitment to put our faith into action.
*Doxology UMH # 95 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
*Prayer of Dedication
God of justice and mercy, thank you for calling us out of our complacency. Draw our faith into action for the sake of others, especially those we might not even realize we are ignoring. Bless our gifts that we may use them to bless our community and the world through good works that reflect your love and grace. Amen.
*Hymn UMH # 399 Take My Life and Let It Be
May the love of God surround you.
May the love of God uplift you.
May the love of God stand with you through the changes ahead.
May the love of God convince you, in every situation, to love.
Go now to love others, even as Christ loves you.
Kwasi I. Kena Discipleship Resources 2008