February 21, 2021 - Home Worship Service

Home Worship 2/21:  Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church! We continue to offer on-line worship through ZOOM and Facebook Live at 9am on Sundays.

 

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church! We continue to offer on-line worship through ZOOM and Facebook Live at 9am on Sundays.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85441468430?pwd=aEJmcnJ3SGdkbWphMnlRV3JwQ3dXQT09

  Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430        Password: 279040

One tap mobile:  +19294362866,,85441468430#,,,,0#,,279040# US (New York)

For audio only using a landline or non-smart phone:  1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

Sermon by PhoneEach week, following the live worship service, Pastor Jenn will upload the service to an account that when you call a local number, you will hear the service.

The number is:1-570-215-3814

You don't have to type in the 1 if you are in the 570 area code. There is no code or password. It takes you directly to the service.

 

Worship Service: I invite you to prepare your hearts for worship by lighting a candle and welcoming the presence of the Divine at your home.

 

Call to Worship

Listen, Christ is teaching.
We sit at the feet of our teacher.
Listen, the teachings of Christ set the captives free.
We sit at the feet of our teacher.
Listen to Christ’s teaching, full of power and authority.
We sit at the feet of our teacher.

 

Opening Song: We Believe by LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/we-believe

In this time of desperation When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation We believe, we believe
In this broken generation When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation We believe, we believe

Refrain: We believe in God the Father, We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit, And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion, We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection, And He's comin' back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations We believe, we believe Refrain:

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised
In the here and now, let love invade
Let the church live love our God will see We believe, we believe
And the gates of hell will not prevail
For the power of God, has torn the vail
Now we know Your love will never fail We believe, we believe Refrain

 

Opening Prayer: God of power and might, You sent prophets to Your people, calling us back to Your covenant, and teaching us Your ways. In the fullness of time, You sent us Your Son Jesus, teaching with such authority, that our eyes were opened to see Your ways anew.  Open our hearts and minds, that we may understand and proclaim Your teachings for all to hear. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

First Scripture Lesson: Matthew 5: 1-7

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

 

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!

This marks the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is the church season of 40 days leading up to Holy Week and Easter. And in this time, Christians do things that bring us closer to God. Some give up sweets, or certain foods, others to rely more on God in their daily lives. And some work on spending more time in prayer. There is a legend of the pretzel created during the season of Lent because one of the best ways to get closer to God is to pray. And so the legend is back when German Christians would generally give up sugar during Lent and they also would cross their arms (as if hugging themselves) to pray, one German decided to make a treat to remind people to pray, and he developed the pretzel. So the idea is the snack would encourage people to pray more often during Lent.

Maybe ask your parents to pick up some pretzels for you so that when you have a snack, you might be reminded to pray, and draw closer to God during this season.

Let us pray: Thank You God, for the season of Lent, to draw closer to You. Amen.   

 

Sharing of Joys & Concerns:

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:

Gracious and living God, we give You thanks for this day and for the promises You give us. We come here in this time of worship to live in the fullness of those promises that offer healing and wholeness all the days of our lives. Promises of life – we thank You for the birthdays and anniversaries. Promises of Your presence – to guide and empower us in all we do. Promises of hope that inspire us through the good times, and carry us in the trying times.

And there have been some trying times lately Lord. Trying times where people suffer and deal with the bitterness of the cold and winter season. Trying times of dealing with pandemic restrictions. And the trying times within our church where members and loved ones continue to battle for their health and well-being.

God of mercy, may You heal all these pains and doubts, and may Your love enfold all those we have named aloud and silently in our hearts. And may our trust in You and Your promises increase as we come to know and serve You through Your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior. Because we know that when we listen to Him, Your promises are fulfilled, Your mercy is shown, Your grace is revealed. Help us to go forth this day and in the week to come hear His voice, assure us, comfort us, leading us to Your kingdom in which we pray for 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. 

 

Invitation to the Offering:

As we open ourselves to God, we open our hearts to the needs of others. Let us reach out and share what we’ve been given.

 

Offering Prayer: Awesome God, You sent Jesus to teach people firsthand the power of Your love, grace, and authority. Jesus washed away unclean spirits and performed countless other miracles so that even the faithless would experience Your love. You call us to be mindful and vigilant of the extraordinary miracles that You continue to work in our lives today. May this offering undergird ministries that show others Your miraculous love, grace, and authority. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Second Scripture Lesson: Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

Sermon: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

 

It’s a powerful story, the one you just heard/read. So powerful we must not miss the lessons it offers us, especially in a world that tends to be divided by various attitudes and acts of life. Because in this Matthew story, Jesus is tested about the mercy of God, but in the end He offers us an example of what it means to be blessed as the merciful.

 

Here’s the background: Jesus is traveling in northern most section of Judea, at Tyre & Sidon, which are 2 cities along the coast of the Mediterranean West and North of Judea. These places are claimed by the Greeks, as well as some Canaanites, the people the Israelites fought when they entered the promised land after the time of Moses. They do not worship God, nor honor God. They have various other gods that they serve.

 

And given their history, where the Israelites fought to kick them out of their land, you can imagine this is not a safe place for Hebrews to travel. In fact, we get the impression Jesus was trying not to enter the area because the text says, 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out meaning, she came to Him, not Jesus going to her.

 

Now this is an important part of this text I do not want you to miss. At this point in His ministry, Jesus was convinced that He was sent only to save the Jews. Jesus didn’t remember the magi coming to visit Him when He was young, although He was probably told stories. Rather, Jesus believed His mission was to bring the lost sheep of Israel back to God. In fact, He says this in this passage. But I’m jumping ahead. Let’s look at this encounter again and see what happens.

 

First, the Canaanite woman comes to Jesus shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ The woman seeks mercy, in other words, seeks His help, His support, His assistance. And notice the respect and recognition of His power and influence she addresses Jesus with in requesting that mercy, she refers to Him as “Lord, Son of David”

 

Then, we hear her dire plea, “have mercy on me, my daughter is tormented,” let’s face it, nothing cuts so deep as parent watching a child in pain, helpless to help. We will do anything to save our children.

 

Verse 23But He did not answer her at all. The text says Jesus did not respond to her. He did not offer a yes or a no regarding her request for mercy.

 

However, the disciples have a response, they say to Jesus, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’  Sadly, there is no compassion for the child from the disciples.

 

Yet Jesus speaks up saying to the woman, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

That’s when the woman kneels at His feet to pray, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’

 

One of the harshest words that Jesus offers in the Bible follows when Jesus says, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’

 

To get this, you need to know that Jews did not have pet dogs, Gentiles did. Jesus is comparing this woman and her people to their pet dogs.

 

Yet the woman is a determined mama, she says, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’

 

Now these were the days long before pet food. So how the pets survived were they sat close to the table, watching, waiting, for leftovers. That was the food they survived on. When the woman says, ‘even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ this indicates how desperate this woman is for her daughter. She is watching, waiting, for even leftovers from Jesus, to make her daughter better.

 

Jesus is touched by this woman’s determination and says, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

Jesus showed her, her daughter, and her people, mercy. The child of a Canaanite, who was an enemy to the Jews and probably worshipped other gods, was healed, and made whole.

 

Friends, what I do not want you to miss with this story is the power of God’s mercy shown to a person, not of the same faith as Jesus.

 

You and I all know people of different faiths. We know people of different beliefs. Some believe in a God but have different theologies, like the various denominations of the Protestant church or Catholic church. We know some who do not believe in the same God we do but have their own gods they worship and serve. And honestly we know people who do not believe in any religion nor do they care to.

 

But that should never deter us from standing by our beliefs. And our beliefs claim God is merciful. Scripture points this out to us:

 

Deuteronomy 4:31
For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.

 

Ephesians 2:4
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us.

 

Isaiah 30:18
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

 

Lamentations 3:22
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

 

And if our God is merciful, so shall we be too. In fact, Jesus says we will be blessed for such acts in the beatitudes, 7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

 

Meaning, God will bless you for your faithfulness, your willingness to show mercy regardless of differences in theology and beliefs.

 

And let’s face it, you, and I both know that today this world needs more mercy in it. And the best way to provide such mercy is to treat others as you want to be treated, or as the golden rule states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).

 

Recently I read an online blog about leadership titled, How to Live by the Golden Rule by Frank Sonnenberg, who is an award-winning author and a well-known advocate for moral character, personal values, and personal responsibility. His latest book is titled, Listen to Your Conscience: That's Why You Have One.

 

Anyhow in this blog dated June 9, 2020, he gave 30 examples of how to incorporate the Golden Rule into our daily life. I will not list all of them, but there are definitely some examples we could each follow to show more mercy in these times.

See the good in people. Did you hear that Alex Trebek’s family donated a large portion of his wardrobe to The Doe Fund, an organization that provides support and paid work to underserved Americans with histories of addiction, homelessness, and incarceration? The simple act of donating his clothing will help men feel more confident as they begin their lives again.

 

Be grateful. Show your appreciation and never take anything for granted. Have you heard of the recent rivalry between Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati? They are attempting to one up each other in a tip-war in their community. It started with a little harmless school spirit. A Xavier alumnus left a $1,000 tip on a $54 bill at Zip's Cafe in Cincinnati in early January, along with a short note: "Please share this tip with all of your employees as they work so hard and are dealing with COVID. Go Xavier!" But Cincinnati fans just couldn't let that stand. Soon, two rival fans left a $1,001 tip and a note at Keystone Bar & Grill just six miles away. "Let's see how long we can keep this going," the note read. "Bearcats up by 1!" In the weeks since, this good-spirited "war" has raised $34,000 for local restaurants. And the generous diners say they want to remain anonymous — it's all about the good vibes and helping out the community both sides love and are grateful for.

 

Give people a chance. Did you hear Stephen King is donating $6,500 to Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine, so the students in its Author Studies Program can publish two books they've worked on?  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled at the news. "I always want to encourage kids who want to write. Plus, giving back makes a better world. We need that now," said Stephen King.

 

See the good in people. Be grateful. Give people a chance. Don’t you love those examples of the Golden Rule? Wouldn’t you love such mercy to occur in your life if you were struggling? Don’t they inspire you to be merciful?

 

To be blessed as the merciful is to live out the mercy of God in our way of life. And it does not matter the faith or politics of the person you interact with, as Jesus taught us, rather what matters is your faith, your trust, your belief, that as God has shown you mercy, so you too, will show mercy in His name.

 

Let us pray:

Open our hearts and minds, good and gracious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that we may understand and proclaim your teachings for all to see and hear. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Closing Song: Freely, Freely by Donna Farver

 https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/freely-1

Verse 1

God forgave my sin in Jesus' name.  I've been born again in Jesus' name.

And in Jesus' name I come to you To share His love as He told me to

Chorus:

He said freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely give.

Go in My name and because you believe. Others will know that I live.

Verse 2

All pow'r is giv'n in Jesus' name. In earth and heav'n in Jesus' name

And in Jesus' name I come to you To share His pow'r as He told me to.  Chorus:

 

Benediction: May we go freely to be merciful, as we have received mercy from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 
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