October 11, 2020 - Home Worship Service

Oct 11, 2020

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church!

We continue to offer in person worship at Lightstreet. No reservations needed.

 8am contemporary service in the Lighthouse and 10:30am is our traditional service in the church sanctuary. You will need a mask and will be asked to be spaced apart from others unless you are sitting with those in your household. Both will have live musicians!

No Sunday School just yet.

Another alternative for worship is Sunday 9:00 am Zoom Worship & Prayer

Pastor Jenn and your church leaders invite you to ZOOM, Sunday morning, 9:00 am. 

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)

 

Worship:

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.

 

Call to Worship

Come people of God; come and celebrate God’s gift of salvation.
We come without fear. We come trusting in God.
Come people of God; hear God’s promises and witness God’s mighty deeds.
In hearing the promises, in witnessing the mighty deeds of God, we are strengthened for all that lies ahead.
Come, let us worship and praise God by shouting aloud and singing for joy, for God truly is in our midst.

 

Opening Song: Open My Eyes by Donna Farver

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/open-my-eyes-repeat
 

1.Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

2.Open my ears, that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear, Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

3.Open my mouth, and let me bear Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare Love with Thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

Opening Prayer

Our loving and caring God, we need this time together to be united with our sisters and brothers in the faith; we need this time of worship to be comforted and strengthened in Your presence. Remind us again of Your vision, that all might live in a world of peace and justice and love. May this time together imprint this vision and promise on our hearts, that we may live into this beloved community. 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! Today I want to share one of my favorite books with you. Some of you may recall seeing it before. It’s called Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack. https://youtu.be/bZnMPPqJR9I

 

We all have those days where we feel like there are good days and bad days, but what the story points to is how we can help each other to see the good news beyond the bad news. And as Christians, God wants us to do that, to help people see that even in bad news days, God is present, Jesus is our friend, and the Holy Spirit is around to support and love us.

 

Prayer: Thank you God for Your good news. In Jesus name, Amen.

Joys & Concerns

Pastor Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:

Gracious Lord, Your faithful community has gathered this day. We desire Your healing mercies in our lives and in the lives of friends and family. Those who are lost, alienated, alone, who suffer from illnesses, who mourn, who feel hopeless are in our hearts this day. We bring to You names of these dear ones as we pray this morning. Let us lift up names of those who suffer from all forms of pain and alienation.

[Here the congregation may offer prayers of concern for people and situations.]

Lord, in Your neverending mercy, hear our prayers.

We also gather as a community in support of each other. We come to celebrate the wondrous events in our lives and in the lives of family and friends. Let us lift up names of those who rejoice in the many blessings brought to them.

[Here the congregation may offer prayers of joy for people and situations.]

Lord, in Your great goodness, hear our prayers of joy.

For all these things, both sorrowful and joyful, we rejoice that God continues to be with us. Let us resolve to focus our lives on God’s loving and healing presence and become bearers of God’s good news through our words and our actions of love and mercy inspired by Jesus Christ, who taught 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.  [1]

Offering Invitation:

In gratitude for all that God has done for us and given to us, we return a portion of these gifts that they may be used in service to others. Let us receive our morning offering.

Offering Prayer

O God, we long to make a difference in our world. We offer You what we have: our visions and dreams; our witness to Your saving acts of love and justice; our resources to help bring the new heaven and new earth into our midst. We offer You our very lives, that we may be coworkers with You to bring about true change. Amen.

 

Sermon: The State of Our Church

Every four years, the Barna Research Institute, a private organization that conducts and analyzes research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, release its findings about the State of the Church in America.

 

Four years ago, I shared their findings:

Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls. Millennials (ages 18-34) in particular are coming of age at a time of great skepticism and cynicism toward institutions—particularly the church.

 

The practicing Christian is one who attends church once or twice a month.

 

Now today, everything is different. And I thought I might share with you some of the more recent findings regarding the American church during COVID.

 

One in Three Practicing Christians Is Still and Only Attending Their Pre-COVID Church. While the average attendance is once a month now, over half (53%) say they stay connected to their church in the past four weeks, either online or in person. But one third of practicing Christians, those who attend once a month, say they do not attend church online or in person.  They have dropped out of church for the time being. [2]

 

Pastors Are Rethinking Whether COVID Will Propel Spiritual Growth
In the early days of the pandemic (March 20-23, 2020), half of church leaders (50%) hoped that the crisis would increase their congregants’ personal faith. Now, months later (August 27-31, 2020), pastors are increasingly less likely to say they see their congregants’ faith growing during this season. Currently, three in five (62%) see personal faith of church members staying the same, while a little over one in five (23%) says it could increase. Sixteen percent, however, now believe their congregants’ personal faith journey will decline during the pandemic.

 

And this leads to not only spiritual struggles but emotional struggles. Respondents who have stopped attending church during COVID-19 are less likely than their peers who are still attending the same church during the pandemic to agree with the statement “I am not anxious about my life, as I have an inner peace from God” (76% vs. 87%). Practicing Christians who have stopped attending church in recent weeks are more likely than all other practicing Christians to say they feel bored “all of the time” (17% vs. 6%) or that they have felt “insecure” for at least some of each day (11% vs. 7%).

 

What we do know is that churchgoers, even those who have stopped regularly attending worship services during the pandemic, want support from a church community. Practicing Christians across the U.S. are seeking “prayer and emotional support” (68% who have moved churches during COVID-19, 52% who have stayed at their same church) and “a Bible-centered message of hope and encouragement” (44% who have stayed at their same church, 35% all other practicing Christians) from their churches.

 

In our Scripture lesson today, the church of Thessalonica has some positives and negatives going on, too. And ultimately Paul is trying to give them hope to cling to.

 

Scripture Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 Warning against Idleness

6 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

So, the background to this text is, theologians are uncertain if the letter was written by the Apostle Paul. There are some contrasts in this letter compared to his typical style of writing. For instance, in this letter, the writing tends to be less personal than Paul’s usually are. And in this letter, we find more thanksgiving statements than Paul usually does. But regardless, the author is a disciple of Christ, and more than likely studied under Paul’s leadership, therefore I will refer to the author as Paul because they are wanting to sound like Paul.

 

The context is this, persecution has spread and become very intense for the Church. Believers of all ages were dying because of this faith. So, this letter is written to share some warnings and commands not to give into the fears but continue on as good and faithful stewards.

 

6 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us….

11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.

 

So, word has gotten to this leader that the Christians of this church were doing what was in contrast to what they were taught. And that is a concern because it does not help the gospel. That’s why we read verse 12 and 13, 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

 

One of the interesting findings Barna found is regarding pastors and their wellbeing. More Church Leaders Are Struggling with Their Emotional Well-Being. Over the course of the crisis, pastors, who were at first optimistic about their and their congregants’ personal well-being amid the pandemic, have slowly shown a downward trend in their positive thinking. In an early pastor panel survey (April 7-13, 2020), just one in 10 pastors (11%) said their emotional well-being was below average or poor. The majority (65%) said they were doing good or excellent. Now, one in five (20%) say their emotional well-being is below average or poor, and those who are faring excellent or good now sit 15 percentage points lower than just a few months ago (50% vs. 65%). This is 10 times lower than data presented in The State of Pastors, a 2016 Barna study which found only two percent of pastors ranked their emotional well-being as below average—none rated it as poor—while the majority (85%) said it was good or excellent.

 

Yet Paul writes to the leaders, they are not to become weary in doing what is right for the sake of the church, and the message the church is to convey. In other words: Christians, both lay members and pastors, are called to do the right thing because doing what is right is conveying our faith, our trust in the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in such a way that we continually share that good news in our actions and our deed, beyond persecution, beyond a pandemic.  

 

Last Sunday we had our annual church conference. And it used to be at such events the pastors would write a state of the church report to be read and given, basically reviewing the ministry and missions of the church this past year.

 

We no longer do that, but I feel compelled to share with you a bit of the state of our church in Lightstreet. Because I want you to be aware of how this church continues to do what is right and not be weary, conveying faith to those around us.

 

First off, I celebrate the involvement and commitment of our members. Beginning with our leadership in the Church Council. We celebrate the on-going faithfulness and service of some. Russ Kressler has been the chair of trustees since 2001, he is responsible for keeping the rest of us focused on maintaining and improving our buildings and assets. Amy Dent has been serving as the church treasurer since 2004, and Lori Farver and Terri Lazar, while they both will be stepping down in 2020, have led the Missions teams of our congregation since 2007 and 2013. And now we look forward to Bill Kocher and Chris Klock leading that work.

 

Regarding our numbers. Our membership has continued to increase. In 2016 we had 326 members, today we have 343. Our attendance has decreased though. In 2016 it was 154, in 2019 it is 149. When the buildings were closed with the pandemic, we would average 47-68 participants through our online worship through ZOOM. But now that number has decreased as attendance for in person worship has increased. Last week we had 50 at 8am, 42 at 9am, and 48 at 10:30am, bringing us closer to our pre-pandemic numbers. And we still email and mail the services to those who cannot connect online or attend in person.

 

We remain committed to Safe Sanctuaries; that is we have 26 volunteers who have agreed to have background checks on them so they can work with our children, youth, and the most vulnerable in our congregation.

We are blessed with two certified lay speakers in our congregation. Blair Staley and Chris Klock continue to want to serve the United Methodist church, ours, and those around us, as those gifted to preach the Word and teach, too.

 

And we are blessed with our staff. From the Travers who visit and connect with our shut ins via phone calls or socially distant visits, to the janitorial staff , Lori Pensyl and Scott Snyder, who set up, clean, tear down, and disinfect, to our Youth Leader, Alycia Fairchild whose phone is always on for the kids, and her teachings are spot on for their needs. And that’s the paid staff. We have so many wonderful unpaid staff from the band and musicians and tech people to the Sunday school teachers and covenant group leaders.

 

Not to mention we have two ordained retired pastors connected to us. Rev. Ron French, and Rev. Dr. Lew Parks, both who choose to serve in wonderful ways. Pastor Ron led 42 sessions of Bible study last year, along with food bank distributions. And Pastor Lew served two different congregations last year as their pastor and continues to chair the conference property and casualty insurance committee.

 

Financially you have been faithful with your giving and tithes. You paid your Shares of Ministry in full, that is monies that go beyond the local church to support the ministry of the Susquehanna Conference and United Methodist church worldwide. And we have been able to meet all our bills for the local congregation, including extra monies for ministry in our area.

 

And last but not least, you were willing to share your pastor and resources with Orangeville and Rohrsburg churches, as we worked to help each other through a time of transition for them.

Four years ago, I ended my message with these words, and they are still applicable today:

-I am thankful that at Lightstreet Church: God has given us children who participate in our Sunday school, vbs, and our music programs.

-I am thankful that at Lightstreet Church: God has given us youth and young adults who are mission oriented.

-I am thankful that at Lightstreet Church: God has given us young families – who want to raise their children here, as they grow in their knowledge and understanding of faith.

-I am thankful that at Lightstreet Church: We have the wisdom and support of our older members.

-I thankful that at Lightstreet Church: That when we do ministry, it is multi-generational, and we do so with thought, love, consideration, and most times we make it fun!

-I am thankful for Lightstreet Church: Because we are not idle, rather we have done and continue to do what is right in the name of Jesus Christ, even during a pandemic.

 

Prayer Concerning the Life and Mission of the Church:

God of the multitudes, ruler of the universe: Look with favor upon Christ’s flock in this place. Cause our congregation to be an effective witness to Your love and power. Bind us together by Your love and cause us to know ourselves to be a people called out of darkness into Your marvelous light. This we ask through Christ who Himself is head of the church. Amen.

 

Closing Song: Beautiful Things by LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/beautiful-things

 

All this pain I wonder if I'll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change, at all
All this earth could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come out from this ground, at all?

 

Chorus:

You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us

 

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found, in you

Chorus:

 

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new. (Making me new)

You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us

 

Oh, you make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us

 

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

 

Benediction: 1 Thessalonians 5 “Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.” And God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will remain faithful to you. Amen.

 

 

[1] https://www.ministrymatters.com/worship/entry/8449/worship-connection-october-11-2020

 
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