Worship May 24, 2020
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
With the eyes of our hearts opened and enlightened, we put our faith in Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, and whose body is the church.
Blessed are you, Holy One, creator of all that is and all that ever will be.
You sent your holy child, Jesus, to heal us and bless us, to show us your love.
After his suffering and death on the cross, he was still among us, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins for all who call on his name.
Just as you sent the power of the Holy Spirit to those who first believed, fill us now with your power and grace,
that we may become the hands and feet, and heart and spirit, of Christ. Amen.
Hymn TFWS 2070 He is Exalted Music led by Ellen Timmers
Children’s Message Ben Ziegler
Scripture Luke 24:44-53
Hymn UMH 327 Crown Him with Many Crowns (V1-3) Music led by Ellen Timmers
Meditation Pastor Debra Schaffran
Once a man named Eric was on a walk with his dog nova. While they were near the woods, a rabbit jumped before them and Nova, the dog, ran away after the rabbit.
Nova was lost
Eric searched for him for hours and then days. He notified all the neighbors, his family members to help and put up posters all around but each day came back with no success.
He started to reimagine the incident, he thinks about how horribly unlucky it was that the rabbit jumped out, just the wrong time.
A week passes by, nova came back
Then a woman named Vanessa brought nova back. Eric thanked her for bringing Nova home and then, they had a few talks and a few days later they began to date and eventually became a serious couple.
Now, Eric reimagined the incident that how lucky he was that he had a lost dog and that Vanessa brought him back. It was a good lucky day.
Eric met with an accident
One day, Eric was driving to pick up Vanessa and he got into a car accident. He was quickly taken to the hospital and after some test and CT scan. The doctor informed him that he had a few scratches and nothing to worry about them but there is a piece of bad news and good news.
Eric got Tumor.
Eric was confused asked the doctor to explain him. The doctor said:
The bad news is, well, it’s good news, I don’t know. You have an early stage Tumor in your brain.
Eric was shocked and angrily asked:
How in the world, this is a piece of good news?
The Doctor explained:
Your Tumor is in the early stage where it can be removed with a little surgery. It’s hard to notice such types of the tumor until it too late. Your Accident saved you.
Eric finally collected all the incident of bad luck (losing his dog, getting in an accident) and also all the great good luck that came out of it (Meeting the love, discovering a curable tumor), demonstrating the incredibly random nature of luck.
This is the story of a man, who encountered a series of incidents which forced him to judge his life on the basis of good luck and bad luck, but later learned the truth.
Moral of the story:
It is really impossible to tell whether something that happens is for good or for bad because you never know what will be the consequences of the misfortune – or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.
In the book of Luke we read about Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Our scripture starts with Jesus talking to His Disciples. He tells them that everything that has been written will be fulfilled. Then we read He opens their minds to understand scripture. He tells them that they have been and will continue to be witnesses to what has been written and said. He tells them they will receive what the Father has said will be given – the Holy Spirit.
And then what happens? He is lifted up to the heavens. So imagine that you are one of the disciples witnessing this happen.
A version of the ascension is told in the book of Acts, the book of John and in the Luke scripture we read earlier.
In the Acts account, after Jesus is lifted up two men in white robes appear and say to the disciples “why do you stand here looking into the sky”
The book of John contains several ascension references but no actual account of Christ ascending to the Father. Although John, unlike Luke and Mark, has no clear-cut ascension story, the signs of the departure of Christ is evident.
From the book of Like we read 50 Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. 53 And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
These are authors telling the same story but from their own perspective and time and place.
I am reminded of the times my siblings and I have gathered. It does not seem to take much time before we start to share stories from our childhoods. It seems that all our versions of the same story are different. I’m the oldest so of course I think my version of each story gives the accurate account. My siblings differ with me, sometimes greatly. One would think being close in age and having lived through the same experiences would result in the same story, but not so.
I guess I should expect the writers of scripture to also have different messages.
From the books of Luke, John and Acts we know that there were disciples witnessing the ascension of Jesus. Here we have these men standing there seeing Jesus taken up into the clouds. What does the example of the disciples show us about what we are called to do as disciples?
Imagine the disciples standing there looking up as Jesus floated into the clouds. What did they see, what did they imagine, what did they miss?
I am reminded about a trip to the Boundary Waters. This trip included 8 women, for most of them this was their first adventure into the BWCA. It was August and we had heard that there was to be a meteor shower during the time we were in the wilderness.
We were at a campsite on Gabbro, a great island campsite with plenty of room for 8, a great gathering and tent area and an open fairly flat rock ledge perfect for nighttime star viewing.
One evening as dusk moved into darkness, we all gathered on the rock ledge and settled in on our backs to watch the meteor shower. The stars started to shoot across the sky and as we saw them you would hear things like “oh look at that one” or “wow did you see that”. One of the women in our group just couldn’t get with it. Every time someone made a comment about seeing a shooting star this woman was heard to say “where” and her head would move in the direction she had heard the voice.
Demonstrate the head movement
I am not sure this woman saw any shooting starts that night and the longer this went on the more we all missed because laughter took over as we got the giggles.
The disciples had options for what they could do. They could stare into the sky kind of frozen in place with no thought to what came next, but they didn’t.
Scripture says they returned to Jerusalem praising God and worshiping Jesus.
While studying this scripture a pastor friend of mind said, “we need to be earthly minded and let God take care of heaven”. Interesting statement isn’t it? He went on saying we need to stop looking up only but instead look around us.
In these challenging times we can redirect our vision. We can look at all the opportunities we have around us to be Christ-like in our actions, our words and our deeds.
We can focus on what we can do instead of what we cannot do.
It is easy to lose sight of who we are, whose we are and what we are called to be and do. Our focus can be or maybe has been drawn to what we can’t do, what we have lost and what changes might come from whatever the new normal might be.
Have you lost your earthly vision? During these strange times it is easy to focus on “poor me” but focusing on others will make you feel so much better. How are you sharing your love with one another?
The novel coronavirus feels uncertain and scary. But despite those feelings, as disciples we are to ask, how can I help? What can I do for another?
Now is the time to reach out to one another.
Do you know the people who live on your block or in your apartment building? If you don’t, put a note on their door with your name and phone number. Explain that you live next door or down the street. Tell them you want them to feel free to ask for help.
Many people are uncomfortable asking for help. Instead of just saying, “Do you need help?” offer to do something specific for them.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
- Before you run to the grocery store, drug store or a restaurant to pick up take-out, call and ask your neighbors they need you to pick up something for them.
- Volunteer to walk their dog(s).
- Would it be helpful for them if you put their mail and newspaper beside their front door?
- Does their yard need maintenance? Ask if they would like you to mow their yard or water their wilting flowers.
- Do they need assistance putting their trash out or bringing the empty cans back into the garage?
- If you have extra soap, toilet paper or other staples, leave a care package at your neighbor’s door.
- If you’re looking for ways to engage your children, have them make cards and crafts for the neighbors. Just to be safe, place items in a zipped bag with instructions to wait seven days to open, for germ prevention.
Even if your neighbors say they don’t need help, continue to offer. Accepting assistance from a stranger can feel awkward. Your neighborly acts of kindness can make a difference in someone else’s life.
We can praise God and Worship Jesus in the acts of kindness we offer our neighbors. No one is too old or too young to demonstrate love to their neighbor.
Giving ourselves to God by loving our neighbor is an act of glorifying God and we are called to glorify God.
Be a disciple, look around you, where and how can you glorify God by loving your neighbor. Amen
Hymn UMH 431 Let There Be Peace on Earth Music led by Ellen Timmers
Offering and Prayer of Dedication
“Consider the lilies…look at the birds of the air”: Jesus pulls our attention away from our worries about scarcity and pandemic and turns our gaze toward the beautiful gifts of God’s creation, signs of abundance and grace surrounding us always. Trust may be difficult for us, as it was for those early disciples, yet we bring our gifts this morning with the assurance of God’s care for us every morning of our lives. If you are able and feel God’s call to support the missions of the United Methodist Church, please do so by mailing your gift or dropping it off at the church.
Prayer of Dedication
As we offer our treasure and hearts to you, O God, may they be used to pass on the promise of hope, of peace, of life, of community to all in need of your gifts and presence in their lives. Amen.
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Holy God, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring but we ask that you guide us in making today and all our days about loving you. In loving you help us to demonstrate that love by our caring for our neighbors.
Jesus taught His disciple to go out and make more disciples and Lord give us the courage to do the same. May the love we show lead people to you.
We often need reminding that we are the church. Our building are nice places to gather but you have called us to be the church. Lord help us be the church now and always.
And now in the words you taught your disciples we too pray…
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as 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
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord shine upon you and give you peace. Amen
- Thank you to music leader Ellen Timmers and accompanist Elaine Keehr for our worship music
- Thanks to Ben and his helpers for the children’s message
- Bishop Bruce Ough has asked all MN United Methodist churches to align with Gov. Tim Walz’s recently released phased re-opening plan. This five-phase plan provides guidance specific to churches. Please note that per the governor’s order set to begin June 1, no more than 10 people will be permitted to gather (indoors or outdoors) for worship or other faith community gatherings. We will send out additional information as we get.
- If you need food or supplies but can’t safely leave your home? There are people from our churches that will help-out. If you can pay for your items, we would appreciate it, but we want to help if you are unable to pay as well. If you need these services, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (952)240-3836.
- So until we meet gather again, I wish you peace.