April 26, 2020 - Home Worship Service

ear LUMC family,

Sunday’s home worship service has been planned by Pastor Jenn to compliment a sermon written and recorded by the Superintendent of the Lewisburg District, Rev. Larry Leland.

Worship with this service at your convenience today, tomorrow or Sunday.

Home Worship for Sunday April 26th
Welcome & Announcements:
Good morning church!

Just a few announcements:
I will offer a ZOOM gathering at 9:00 am Sunday and 6pm Sunday evening. Zoom is a way to be connected via computer or telephone. You can call the phone number listed- it is toll free. This will be time of sharing joys and concerns and having prayer time. If there is a problem, call or text my cell at 570-317-0422 and I will try to assist.
9:00 am Zoom Meeting
Or dial 1 929 436 2866 (toll free)
Meeting ID: 757 496 754
Password: 522345

6:00 pm Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 186 263 314
Password: 525901
Or dial 1 929 436 2866 US (toll free)

I invite you to light a candle to welcome the Light of the World in your presence and prepare your heart for worship this day:

Prelude: The Palms by Donna Farver

Call to Worship:
L: Sometimes good things are right in front of us and we don’t see them.
P: Our fears and our prejudices blind us.
L: Open your eyes this day to see the goodness of the Lord.
P: Open our hearts, gracious God, to receive your blessings.
L: Hallelujah!
P: Hallelujah!

Opening Song: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow (Alison Krauss)
I don't know about tomorrow; I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from it's sunshine For it's skies may turn to grey.
I don't worry o'er the future, For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand.
Every step is getting brighter As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter, Every cloud is silver-lined.

There the sun is always shining, There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow Where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand.

Opening Prayer: Loving God, come and speak to our hearts today. May we, like those on the Emmaus Road, find your words burning with hope in our lives. Strengthen us and give us courage for the journey ahead. For we pray in Christ’s Name. AMEN.

Children’s Time:
It's our children's time and I want to start with a question I ask you each and every week: Who are you? Children Respond: Special Gifts of God!
PJ: That's right, you are special gifts of God each and every day and I'm so lucky to spend time with you!
Sometimes we cannot see things clearly. Like this word search. (THE WORD SEARCH MAY NOT BE VISIBLE. IMAGES ARE NOT PERMITTED ON THE PRAYER CHAIN, AND NOT THROUGH THE DIRECTORY EMAIL SERVICE. TO BE SENT A COPY OF THE WORD SEARCH, PLEASE REQUEST IT BY EMAIL AND IT WILL BE SEND INDIVIDUALLY TO ALL WHO REQUEST IT.) In it are words related to our scripture lesson today, but you have to find them. Sometimes we have to find what we are looking for, and many times when we open our eyes, we will God with us, in Jesus. I am hoping through this time you are still seeing God and Jesus and the Spirit at work in your lives. Enjoy the word search. I miss you all!
Love, Pastor Jenn

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:
God, we pray for an experience today. An experience that saves us from small minded thinking of you.
Help us see you fully, help us know you as you are, not as we limit you to be. Save us from worshipping our images of you that fail to capture your splendor and holiness, your justice, and your grace. For you are a God of the nations, a God of all creation, you are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the last. You are a God who loves us so much, that you gave your only Son to help us know and trust you. You are a God whose Spirit intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray or believe. You have heard our concerns, our worries, may your strength be given, may your healing be at work, in these lives and in ourselves so that we all may be witnesses of your glory. And in this time of worship, Merciful God, may we draw nearer to you, as we pull away from the hurts of the world, and experience who you are through the guidance of your Son who teaches us to pray 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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Offering: We want to thank all of you for your continued gifts that are helping us do ministry in different ways during these times. Thank you for those who have helped with the local food bank and for those of you calling and checking on each other.

Yesterday we handed out food to families at the food bank- thank you to everyone who helped with the giveaway.
Some of you are experiencing economic hardships related to the pandemic and your offering may be diminished. Our prayers are with you as you struggle to make ends meet. To the rest, if you can send in your offering, we invite you to do so as ministry continues. There are still needs to be met through the services we support such as local food banks, health care ministries, and of course the staff of this congregation who are still working around the clock to check in with members, disinfect buildings, and discern and provide worship possibilities. Lightstreet United Methodist Church, 1640 Main Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815. The option of electronic transfer of funds is available. Contact our church treasurer, Amy Dent (aedent@pa.metrocast.net; 570-458-4299). She will guide you through the process to authorize your bank to transfer funds into the church account.

Offering Song: Good, Good Father by LUMC Praise Band

Offertory: He is Lord played by Donna Farver
He is Lord, He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead and he is Lord!
Ev'ry knee shall bow, ev'ry tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

Offering Prayer of Dedication: Lord, I ask your blessing on these gifts and on these people. Please be with them, give them courage. Use these gifts to help others as you have healed and helped us, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Sermon: Surprised by Life by Lewisburg District Superintendent Rev. Larry Leland
Sisters and brothers in Christ, it is so good to be with you, even virtually, today. I’m Larry Leland, and I am blessed to serve as the Lewisburg District Superintendent, which simply means that I walk alongside the 112 United Methodist churches and 70 pastoral leaders in the region that goes as far north and east as Mountain Top and Askam and as far south and west as Pine Grove and McAlisterville. I offered the pastors of our district the opportunity to take a breather this week as I offered a sermon that they could share with you on my behalf. They, along with all of you, have been working so diligently to be the Church in new ways in this incredibly challenging time – navigating the coronavirus pandemic while balancing work, home, school and the personal struggles that we’re all facing.
Please know that I am praying for you regularly. I am grateful for the ways that you are honoring the necessary precautions to keep yourselves and your congregations safe, while seeking to continue to be in mission and ministry with one another, and to the communities in which you are planted. I’m humbled by your prayers, your creativity, and your love for each other and those around you, and I thank God for the partnership in the gospel we share.
Today, I want to share from Luke’s gospel, chapter 24, beginning in verse 13. In the timeline of the story, it is Easter Sunday toward evening, and some downcast and disoriented disciples were walking home from Jerusalem:
Gospel Lesson: Luke 24:13-35 New International Version (NIV)
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
When my grandmother died, I found myself to be in a season of weariness. You see, Nanny, as I called her, was probably the most formative person in my life up until that point – and I was 25 when she died. She was an amazing woman. I wish you could have known her. She had five children before the age of 23, including twins, after whose birth she lay in a coma for two full days. Later, I would be the eighth of her eleven grandchildren, and if I do say so myself, her favorite. Now you may laugh and think that I wasn’t really her favorite, but I really was. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was because my dad was her baby. Perhaps it was because I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather and her when I was young because both of my parents worked. Perhaps it was because I’m so easy to love. But we had a special connection. Some of my best memories were camping with her, playing Yahtzee and rummy, watching her bake pies, when she would give me scraps of leftover dough just to play with, going to bingo with her (I didn’t grow up United Methodist, friends), whatever it was – as long as Nanny was there, I knew that I was loved with an extravagant and almost reckless love.
So you can imagine that her death in 1997 hit me pretty hard. But, even worse was the pain that was left in her absence. You see, she wasn’t only the glue that held me together – she was the glue that held our whole extended family together. And after her death, all the worst parts of some of those relationships came through. In the already painful process of clearing out her house, and determining who would receive her modest belongings, arguments broke out over who got this and who got that. It was ugly, and I could only think, “You do realize she did everything in her life for you people, right?”
So, as we were working through her mobile home, most of the stuff had been picked through – and I didn’t have any expectation of anything – as I was still pretty low on the totem pole. But, in her blanket chest was an old, simple quilt that I knew she had made with her own mother, my great-grandmother. It wasn’t fancy – as a matter of fact, I was pretty sure that it was the cheapest print they could get. But, it was a labor of love, and it was something that would allow me to take Nanny with me, though I couldn’t see her any more. There was something about memories of sleeping over at her house, always under blanket or another; it was a gift for my weary soul.
I can only imagine that the disciples who were walking on that road back to the village of Emmaus were feeling the way I did when we were working our way through my grandmother’s belongings. There would have been a sense of grief at Jesus’ death. And even more than that – they would have been grieving the loss of their hopes, and their expectations. Having followed Jesus, they had thought he was the messiah, but the events of the weekend that they knew about shattered that dream. So they were on their way home, back to life before Jesus, whatever that might have looked like. And all they had to hold onto were their memories of what had happened.
You may find yourself in a season like that – looking for something to hold onto, and not knowing where you’re going to find it. Looking for hope in the midst of painful circumstances or disquieting uncertainty. Grieving what you thought this season of life was supposed to be like.
Sound familiar? Every day, we are bombarded with frightening statistics and news stories, and questions about when a new normal might be on the horizon. We, or our loved ones, may be among the essential workers, who risk infection by going to work. They may be struggling financially, finding themselves unemployed, and trying to figure out how to care for children or aging parents. Feeling anxiety and despair creeping in at the corners of their minds. Many in our communities and our world are looking for a sense of security, a sense of hope.
My hope for you, as it has been for me, and for the pastors and parishioners with whom I’ve walked these dark and difficult days, is that, like a blanket hand-stitched by someone who loves you in ways that don’t even totally make sense, I hope that the presence of Christ would envelope you, even right now, even if you can’t fully recognize it. It’s not a promise of a life without challenge – this is the same Jesus who said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” But then, he said, “Take heart.”
My sisters and brothers, take heart. Hear the invitation of Jesus to find rest for your souls blanketed in the presence of the Holy. And when you rest, find hope.
Hope is simply trusting that the story isn’t over yet. It’s the hope that was expressed by one of the youngsters in the children’s choir in my very first appointment. In the narthex of that church, during the season of Lent, stood a large wooden cross, covered and surrounded by items from the story – a crown of thorns, a sponge, and even dice to represent the lots cast for Jesus’ clothing. After hearing the director explain what happened on Good Friday, and that the religious leaders and authorities, and even Jesus’ closest friends, thought that his death on the cross was the end of the story, Michael Anderson, at the time in 3rd or 4th grade piped up with words that I’ll never forget. He simply said, “I guess Jesus showed them.” Well, Michael, I guess He did – and that’s the rest of the story that we need to hear on Easter, and need to hear again when we find ourselves in these hard seasons. It’s what Paul Harvey, who I grew up listening to with that same grandmother would tell when he would say, “And now, for the rest of the story.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Those disciples, who thought the story was over, were surprised by life when Jesus showed up. I think their story may have some encouragement for those of us walking in a season of grief, uncertainty, and anxiety about the future.
1. Stick together. Those disciples could have looked at each other and said, “Well, I guess we were wrong. See ya later.” But even in their disillusionment, they stuck together. That’s incredible important for us right now. We have always needed each other. But seasons like this remind us just how much.
2. Keep walking. Even in their pain, they didn’t simply sit down and give up. They kept walking. They may not have been walking fast. They may not have been traveling far. But they kept moving. In this season, I believe it’s important for us to continue asking, “God, what is my next faithful step?” Sometimes, the answer is going to be, “Rest.” Sometimes, it’s going to be “reach out to someone.” If, as Eugene Peterson describes it, discipleship is a long obedience in the same direction, keep taking simple steps toward Jesus.
3. Pay attention to who shows up to walk with you. In their pain, in their grief, the disciples could have just sent the stranger who joined them on the road on his way. Instead, they engaged him, even opening their homes to him for a meal and lodging – before they knew it was Jesus. The opportunity of these times is that there are folks all around us, connecting with worship online, asking for prayers, open for relationship, that may never have shown that inclination before. We need to pay attention to who is walking with us in these days.
4. Be open to having your eyes opened in a new way. They thought they offered to host the man for a meal. Instead, their guest became host as the bread was broken and their eyes were opened. Willing to be open in that way, they recognized that Jesus had been with them all along. We need to be willing to have our eyes opened in a new way, because if we do, we, too might be surprised by life, even in these difficult days.
Why do I know that this last piece is really important? Remember that quilt I told you about? I took it home and it sat in my closet for a while. I mean, after all, cherry blossoms and flowers weren’t the pattern of choice for me at the time. But, for some reason, maybe when I was moving from one apartment to the other, I pulled the quilt out of its bag, and thought I’d open it up to air it out. And this is what I saw. A stunning quilted star.
And that’s when I knew – I could rest, and trust, and turn over the burden of my soul to the One who keeps every promise to every one of us. And I was surprised by life, and by resurrection, and by hope. May that same promise-keeping God maybe even surprise you in this season. Amen. God bless.

Closing Song: In Christ Alone (Virtual Choir)
In Christ alone, my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all-in-all Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Benediction/Sending Forth: It’s time to go, friends! Set your foot on the path of service and reconciliation. Look for the many ways in which God has blessed your journey. Go in confidence that Christ walks with you, each step of the way. AMEN.

  April 2021  
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