February 28, 2021 - Home Worship Service

Home Worship 2/28:  Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church! We continue to offer on-line worship through ZOOM and Facebook Live at 9am on Sundays.

 

Join Zoom Meeting

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Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430

Passcode: 279040

 

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Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430

Passcode: 279040

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kQpxTe770

 

You Are Never Alone by Max Lucado Bible Study with Pastor Ron through March 23.

When life feels depleted, does God care? I'm facing an onslaught of challenges; will God help? When life grows dark and stormy, does God notice? I'm facing the fear of death; will God help me? The answer in the life-giving miracles in the Gospel of John is a resounding yes. (see promo at: https://youtu.be/LuCR8n-J0rw )

 

10am Tuesday mornings in person at the Lighthouse (please register with Pastor Ron, there is a limit of 10) 6:30pm Tuesday evenings with ZOOM and Facebook Live.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84464947805?pwd=ejRHZ3h3NlVKSGd3MFRoU2NwUTVSZz09

Meeting ID: 844 6494 7805

Passcode: 261088

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,84464947805#,,,,*261088# US (Chicago)

+19294362866,,84464947805#,,,,*261088# US (New York)

 

Dial by your location.

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)

        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

Meeting ID: 844 6494 7805

Passcode: 261088

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kc20J5Rnqx

 

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

Let us turn our minds from human things.
Our faith in Jesus saves us.
Let us set our minds on divine things.
Our faith in Jesus saves us.
We will deny ourselves and take up our cross.
Our faith in Jesus saves us.
We will lose all; that we may gain all.
Our faith in Jesus saves us.

 

Opening Song: God Will Take Care of You by Donna Farver & Linda Creasy

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/god-will-take-care-of-you-1

 

1 Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

 

Refrain:
God will take care of you, through ev'ry day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you, God will take care of you.

 

2 Through days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. [Refrain]

 

3 No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon his breast, God will take care of you. [Refrain]

 

Opening Prayer

God, You have given us everything. What can we give in return for our lives?
Be our guide on our Lenten journey. Help us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
We welcome Your direction in our lives as we worship You today.

 

First Lesson: Matthew 5:1-8 The Beatitudes

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.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

 

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 week we learn another Beatitude and I want to share a video with you that explains it well.

https://youtu.be/cUaovHifhpI

 

Let’s pray: Thank You God, that You can make our hearts pure, so we can know and see You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Sharing of Joys & Concerns:

Pastoral & Lord’s Prayer:
You stop us in our tracks, O Lord, with Your reminder that discipleship is not a “sometime” thing. We are called to place our whole lives in Your care; to follow You; to serve You by caring for others, not just once in a while, but always. We admit that we’re not always ready to do this. The demand is great; the need is great; our energies are limited. Help us to place our trust and our lives in Your care. You will give us the strength and courage that we will need for this step on the journey. Be with us. Help us to remember that Your love is poured out for all Your people; You are never far away. It is in Jesus’ Name, we 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. 

 

Offering invitation

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.

 

Offering Prayer:

God of power and love, we come to worship this day in anticipation: to hear the music, to be fed with the word, to reconnect with family, but most of all to listen to Your voice as it might speak to us in the silent moments. May Your goodness and caring be affirmed in the gifts we give, and as worship comes to an end, may we hear Jesus’ voice sending us out into the mission field, and may we listen and go. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

Second Scripture Lesson: Acts of the Apostles 9:1-22 The Conversion of Saul

9Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ 7The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ 11The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ 13But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ 15But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul Preaches in Damascus

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ 21All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ 22Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

Sermon: Blessed are the Pure in Heart

I’ve never personally known a person to lose their vision. I’ve known people born blind, but to one day see everything, to the next day see nothing but darkness, I cannot imagine. I assume most of all it would be frightening.

Imagine, Saul was going about his business, which was trying to rid the communities of Christians. He was doing what he deemed God wanted him to do, because that is what his faith taught him. His Hebrew faith trusted the teachings of Moses and the Prophets and the Laws established by them. But to hear of this new group who claim Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, and that He overcame death, Paul truly believed this was a threat to not only the order of the community, but to his God.

That is until he meets Jesus on the road and is blinded. Now why do you think God chose to do that to Saul? Well one reason, it stopped Saul from continuing his persecution of Christians. The text tells us he was going to Damascus so that, verse 2, if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. The Way was an early description of Christians. If Saul is blind, he can’t do that, right?

Why else would God blind Saul? Maybe it was to humble him a little. Saul was powerful, he had ordered the killings of Christians, including Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith. By blinding him, Saul lost control. He can’t control where he goes or what he does, but rather must rely on others, including a Christian named Ananias, who let’s face it, Saul would have arrested, but now needed him to heal him in Jesus name.

But I think there is one more reason why God blinded Saul, and that is to cleanse his heart. You see up until that point Saul’s heart was so focused on his Hebrew faith, it’s laws and rules, that he allowed those things to dictate what his faith was. He was so centered on those rules that they overcame his beliefs and understanding of God. I mean did God call for the persecution, the arrest and killing of peoples of various faiths? Not in Saul’s time, God did not. But the laws established by the Hebrew leaders did, so that honestly Saul was not serving God, but manmade laws that went against God’s will.

By blinding Saul, by allowing darkness to shut him down, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, God was cleansing Saul’s heart to be reborn with a new light, a new way to see God and Saul’s faith.

As we continue our study on the beatitudes, we heard today’s lesson: 8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

To be pure in heart does not mean you have to be a saint. To be pure in heart is to give your heart to God, first and foremost, so that you welcome God’s will, God’s way to guide your life, your decisions, your actions, your being. And with Jesus, we know that to give our heart to Him, is to give our heart to God’s will and way for our lives, so that we can see the face of God around us.

That’s what Saul learns in this challenge of life. He was devoted to something he thought was the proper way to honor God, but in and through Jesus, in and through the witness of Ananias, who no longer feared Saul, but helped him, Saul, now Paul could see clearly. He clearly saw the face of God as revealed in the Christian faith and trust through Ananias.

And this forever changed him.

To be pure in heart that helps you see the face of God, is to let God so fill your heart, that you can’t help but see the face of God in others around you, even, as Saul experienced, in an assumed enemy.

John Wesley would call this perfection, that your heart is so filled with love of God and love of others there is no room for sin. But I don’t want to label this beatitude that, because I’m concerned you will think you can never achieve this, when let’s face it, with God’s grace we can. Again, that is why I shared the example of Saul’s conversion to Paul. Because I believe in His teaching, Jesus invites us, all of us, sinners that we are, to open our hearts, in order to see God around us.

I just finished an excellent book titled, Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness Into an Extraordinary Vision for Life. The book tells the true-life experience of Sandford Greenberg who grew up in a poor Jewish family in Buffalo New York, but went onto Columbia University on scholarships. Sadly he loses his eyesight to a disease during his junior year. Darkness fell into his life.

However, he makes a deal with God, what he terms his “Call” and that is to work to eliminate blindness from the world. And as his story unfolds, Sandy discovers that in search of answering that Call, he finds the power to break through the darkness and fulfill his vision for a life of great professional success and distinguished public service, because he saw the face of God in those around him. Those that challenged him, questioned him, and those that supported him.

One of those supporters was Art Garfunkel, the tall tenor voiced duo of Simon and Garfunkel. In fact Art was Sandy’s roommate at Columbia before he went blind, and he was instrumental in bringing Sandy back to school after he was blind. Art became one of Sandy’s readers, reading out loud the text books Sandy needed to study in order to pass classes.

Art also became Sandy’s guide, helping him get around campus and New York City. One afternoon, Greenberg and Garfunkel went to Midtown for an appointment Sandy had. When it was time for Greenberg to go back to campus, Garfunkel said he had an appointment and couldn’t accompany him. Greenberg panicked. They argued, and Garfunkel walked off, leaving Greenberg alone in Grand Central Terminal. Greenberg, bewildered, stumbled through the rush-hour crowd and did what he had to to get the train back to the stop at school. At the gates, someone bumped into him and said “Oops, excuse me, sir.” Greenberg knew the voice. It was Art. “It was one of the most brilliant strategies,” Greenberg says, “Arthur, of course, had been with me the whole way”.

Upon reflecting on that experience, Greenberg, now 78, writes, “A famous prayer in the Jewish religion has taken on new meaning for me. It is the Shehecheyanu: “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this glorious moment.” The face of God, though not visually seen, was experienced to Sandy through his friend, Art.

To be pure in heart is to give your heart to God, first and foremost, so that you welcome God’s will, God’s way to guide your life, your decisions, your actions, your being. And with Jesus, we know that to give our heart to Him, is to give our heart to God so that we can see and experience the face of God all around us, especially in the dark.

Let us pray: Take me into the light of Your glorious presence, Loving God, and radiate all darkness out of my being in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Closing Song: Good, Good Father by LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/good-good-father-1

Oh, I've heard a thousand stories of what they think You're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You're pleased and that I'm never alone

Refrain: You're a good, good Father
It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Oh and I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching for answers only You provide
'Cause You know just what we need before we say a word Refrain:

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it's love so undeniable I
I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I
I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still into love, love, love Refrain 4 times:

Benediction: Go now in peace, bringing the good news of the grace of God, the love of Jesus, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, to enlighten the lives of all people. AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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