December 27, 2020 - Home Worship Service

December 27th Worship:

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church!

We continue to offer ZOOM worship with Facebook Live.

 

https://www.facebook.com/LightstreetUnitedMethodistChurch

Or if you go to our website: http://www.lightstreetumc.org/ Under announcements, click on Visit us on Facebook and it will take you there. You do not have to have a Facebook account to watch the broadcast. And after the 9am hour it will be on the website for you to watch at your convenience.

 

Or join via ZOOM on Sundays at 9:00 am

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Worship:

I invite you to prepare your hearts by welcoming the Light of the World for worship this day

 

Call to Worship

L: The Christmas tree lights have dimmed.
P: The once-wrapped gifts have been shared.
L: But the awesome love of God still shines brightly in our hearts.
P: Our spirits resound with the good news of salvation.
L: God is with us!
P: Thanks be to God! AMEN.

 

Opening Song: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by 11/29 10:30 service

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/it-came-upon-church

 

1 It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men, from heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

 

2 Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats o'er all the weary world;
above its sad and lowly plains, they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

 

3 And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

 

4 For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold
when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

 

Opening Prayer

Lord of mercy and joy, You have given to us the blessing of Your Son Jesus who will make known Your presence, forgiveness, and love to each one of us. Be with us this day and keep our hearts and minds open to receive Your love and peace. Enable each of us to be people of joy and hope as we encounter others. We ask this in Jesus’ 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!

 

Compare the experiences of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus during the days after Christmas with our experiences during the days after Christmas. Describe the hassles of return trips: Their trip with a newborn baby and our trips back home after enjoyable but tiring Christmas trips. Tell about the dedication in the Temple with Simeon's greeting and warning, and about settling down as a family in Nazareth. Point out that God continued to work in the everyday events of their lives. Then point out that God is still at work and needs our help in the dreary days after Christmas as much as during the exciting days before Christmas.

 

Let us pray: Thank You God, for the work You call us to, beyond Christmas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer :

God of mystery and love, help us move from the sweet experience of the birth of the Christ Child into the reality of the powerful witness of Jesus who will be Messiah for us all. Remind us again that this season is not about bows and boxes, feasts and family; it is about preparing us, Your people, for a mission and ministry of hope and peace for this aching and angry world. Empower us to be people of great faith, placing our trust in You, believing that peace is not only possible, it truly can happen if we will work with You and with one another. As we have spoken in our hearts and with our voices, our concerns for those near and dear to us, remind us that You hear these prayers and You respond with love to each one. Let us be in prayer with one another, for one another, for our church and our community, for our nation and our world, for all earth’s people and creatures, that we may be those who promote peace. Give us courage and strength. Help us reach across areas that divide, offering compassionate assistance wherever it is needed. Bless each one of us in Your service, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name, who taught us to pray, saying..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. [1]

 

Offering: In gratitude for all that God has given us, we receive this morning’s offering, pledging these gifts and our lives in God’s service.

 

Offertory Prayer
Magnificent and Merciful God, we come to worship You this morning at the close of one year and threshold of a new one. Our faithfulness in the year behind has not been all that we wished it to be and we know the road ahead of us holds many new challenges and opportunities to be the followers You desire. May the giving of our gifts this morning help firm our resolve to be the disciples of Christ that You desire for the world, full of compassion, mercy and lovingkindness. In Christ’s steadfast love we pray. Amen.

 

Scripture Lessons: Job 2:1-10; Romans 1:8-12

Job 2:1-10

Attack on Job’s Health

2One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ 3The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ 4Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ 6The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ 10But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

 

Romans 1:8-12

Prayer of Thanksgiving

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

 

Sermon: 2020 Received by Pastor Lew

 

A picture containing text

Description automatically generatedIf you do a Google search for images that express how we feel about the approaching New Year you will find one of the most-viewed categories to be this: “Good Riddance 2020!” [Images] It’s a mix of anger and relief that someone or something is leaving. It often has a colorful stinger attached: good riddance to bad rubbish! No wonder that is how many people feel as we approach the end of 2020, a year dominated by a pandemic and its collateral damage. You or someone you know well has been a health victim to COVID-19 or a victim of its collateral damage at work, school, finances, family plans, and the life together of believers. Who can blame us for wanting to hurry on to the next year of vaccinations and recovery?

 

But before we expel 2020 from heart and mind, I want us to work on a question from Job of the Bible. This is not the question of Job: Why does God let bad things happen to good people? But it’s a helpful question. This question can cause us to open doors slammed shut, to revisit fixed memories for something we may have missed, to seek the intertwining wheels of providence (John Wesley’s term) where once there was only fixed fate. The question appears in Job 2:10.

“Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (NRSV)

 

Here’s the set-up for the question. Job has lived a charmed life to this point. He’s one of the blessed. Scripture says there’s a “fence around” his family and his “work prospers”. But this blessed man is about to have a rude awakening.  One day while Job is going about his business a messenger arrives to report that bandits swept down killing Job’s farmhands & stealing his livestock (1:15). A second messenger arrives a couple minutes later to report that lightning struck killing Job’s sheep and shepherds (1:16). A third messenger comes in shortly after that: hostile nomads surprised Job’s camel caravan taking the camels and cargo and killing the drivers (1:17). Then a fourth messenger arrives – the first three messengers may still be there – in football this is called “piling on”. The fourth messenger reports that a tornado struck the house where Job’s children and grandchildren were sharing a meal, all dead! (1:19) “In all this” the Scripture says, Job does not lose faith. But then comes the knockout punch: Job breaks out in what the Bible describe as “loathsome sores … from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head”.  In a pathetic act of desperation Job takes a sherd from a shattered pot and scrapes himself raw.  Job’s wife is standing there watching her man get pummeled. “Curse God and die!” she says. It is trash talk from the heart. It’s said in the heat of the moment. I see Job putting his arms around her, and patting her on the back as he says, “ah, foolish woman”.

 

And then comes Job’s question: “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” There is always some mystery in the good we receive. We can’t see all the causes and connections. We know we worked for some of it, but a lot of it feels like grace, feels like Somebody Out There is being kind. As the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai puts it: “when most happiest, how do I know I can keep any of us alive!”. There is also always some mystery in the bad we receive. We know God created a complex creation and humans with freedom to say No to their Creator. We know Creation has blemishes like COVID-19 and humans have mean streaks like race hatred. We know God permits things that must break God’s heart. But we can’t see all the causes and connections; we never know the full story of bad things. And we must not treat bad things as God-less, as outside God’s reach, as if equal to God. When we “receive bad at the hand of God” we look for God at work for good in, through or in spite of the bad.

 

See the source imageSee the source imageHow might we receive the bad of 2020 as if from the hand of God?  I’d like to illustrate with one issue. Let’s talk about masks. They became essential and omnipresent in 2020. Most of us agree they are necessary; wearing them is what you do in a pandemic to save lives, yours and others. But I haven’t met a person yet who enjoyed wearing masks. Be as creative as you will with them [images], but at the end of the day, they are annoying. They restrict your breathing, fog up your glasses, rub raw the bridge of your nose, pull at your ears. But the worst is the way masks dampen our contact with others.  Put it on before you leave the car, and you feel like a thief getting ready to rob a convenience store. Talk with it and your words are muffled. But that’s only the beginning, now for what it does to others. It muffles their words to us, like a bad phone connection. It hides 50-75% of their faces. When you couple that with social distancing you get a zombie like environment. It’s too easy to imagine that the people behind those masks are annoyed or anxious or at least numb to normal human contact.   

 

Where was God in those hideous masks of 2020?  What would God have us learn from this experience? Maybe it is the importance of face-to-face contact… (1) God and Moses have been through a lot together in Egypt and the Wilderness; Moses thinks it’s time he deserves a better glimpse of the One who called him. “Show me your glory,” he has the audacity to say to God. God directs Moses to hide in a cleft of a rock so he will not be blown away. And God covers Moses’ view until God has passed over Moses then lifts the cover in time for Moses to see God’s back. “[B]ut my face shall not be seen” says the Lord (Ex 33:23). The full majesty of God, the personality of God, the soul of God is in that face and even the great Moses is not yet ready for it. That is an experience reserved for the end of the salvation story. Even so, there are glimpses along the way… (2) Jacob and Esau personify the promise and the heartbreak of family. They are twins who started fighting in their mother’s womb and do not make peace until they are in their 80’s. They fought over their parents’ affection, over the family inheritance, over who was more successful. The best they could do as adults was polite avoidance. But lately God has been working on Jacob’s heart, preparing him to take up his role in the history of salvation. And that means making peace with Esau. Then one day Esau and his tribe are ahead coming toward Jacob. Jacob determines he will throw himself on the mercy of Esau. Esau surprises him with generosity and forgiveness. Jacob says, “truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God” (Gen 33:10). When the veil of self-justification comes down, there is a face of softer lines, merrier cheeks, and shining eyes, a better reflection of the face of God… (3) The Apostle Paul and his congregations. Paul starts a church but doesn’t stick around very long, a few weeks, months, or a couple of years at most.  “I plant” (1 Cor 3:6), he says, others do the watering and weeding. Yet in that brief time “ties that bind” are formed. There would be excitement of starting a new community of diverse persons with a common worship of Jesus as Lord. There would be the bearing of each other’s burden and sharing of each other’s joys. There would be the hostile environment that drives them to depend on one another. Paul came, planted, left. But he held believers in his heart, prayed for them “without ceasing”, kept contact through his letters. And one of the most persistent themes in those letters is Paul’s longing to see those believers once again “face to face” (Rom 1:11; 1 Thes 2:17; 2 Tim 1:4). There are just some things like encouragement and mentoring that need face to face contact. Letters and Zoom are a temporary fix, but not the final story.

 

Face-to-face is a God thing and a believer thing. We were not looking to be taught that in 2020 and given the choice we would gladly be spared the lesson if we could have been spared the epidemic. But we weren’t spared the epidemic and God was present and active in it nonetheless. “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?”

 

Closing Song:  There’s a Song in the Air by Linda Creasy & Donna Farver

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/theres-a-a-song-in-the-air-4-verses

 

1. There's a song in the air! There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer and a baby's low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

 

2. There's a tumult of joy o'er the wonderful birth,
for the virgin's sweet boy is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

 

3. In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;
and that song from afar has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
in the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

 

4. We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
that comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
and we greet in his cradle our Savior and King!

 

Benediction: We have been given the Great Light, which has come into the world. This light of peace and hope, joy and love, shines on us, in us, and through us, to all whom we meet. Go now in peace, and let the light of God’s great love go with you. AMEN.

 
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