Sunday Worship Services
During this challenging time of the Covid-19 virus we have changed our worship time to 9:30 a.m.
October 17 Charge Conference after service with a flu clinic
Like Job, we complain about our misfortunes, forgetting that God is the creator and sustainer of everything that exists, ignoring that god is beyond our ability to control or even understand. Like James and John, who wanted to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when he came into his glory, we never fully comprehend God’s design. When we let go of arguing with God or trying to be first in some kind of contest, we are free to take our proper place among all the wonders of God’s good creation, to be grateful for all the goodness that surrounds us, and to serve one another in love. Job 38:1-7, (34-41); Psalm 104:1-9, 24,35c; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
Job and Psalm 34 present problems for preachers and worship leaders alike. While the psalmist insists that God spares and protects the righteous, Job is a chilling example of the devastation that God can bring upon anyone. The author paints Job’s vindication and the restoration of Job’s fortunes as of greater value than what Job lost in God’s test of his faithfulness. But can anything remotely make up for the loss of one’s family—much less to such a test of faith? If these texts are used, they must not be sugarcoated; their full cognitive dissonance must be allowed to play out—for such is the experience of real life. The Gospel reading adds a wonderful avenue for reflection. Blind Bartimaeus is offered the brass ring—Jesus offers him anything he asks for. Not surprisingly, Bartimaeus asks for the return of his physical sight. What would Job or we ask for: our children back, our physical sight returned? Or would we ask to see with God’s eyes or to have God’s salvation? What do we seek, and how well do really see? Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22); Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
Love. Love God, love self, love neighbor. The gospel in a word is love! Jesus and the scribe agree in today’s Gospel lesson: the central tenet of faith is love. The foreigner Ruth, recently widowed, knows this instinctively when she follows her loving heart and travels with her mother-in-law to a land she has never known. This love-connection may be taken lightly on reality television, but not so in our scriptures. The call to love demands courage and strength, sacrifice and servanthood. The call to love is God’s call to all who would follow Christ. Ruth 1:1-18; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34
November 7 All Saints Day
Caring for others and caring for oneself are themes in today’s scriptures. Boaz cares for his kin, Ruth. A community cares for the earthly ancestors of Christ by caring for the infant Obed. The psalmist warns against worry, saying anxiety is needless and advocating self-care. Christ cares for all in the epistle text. And the Gospel includes the classic admonition to love neighbor as yourself. Regardless of which text is featured, caring can be a central focus. Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
November 14 Veteran's Day
A priestly theme runs through today’s lessons. We first heard the story of Hannah, a faithful woman who went to the Temple to pray for a child. If she found favor with God, she promised to dedicate her son to the Lord’s work, which she did. The psalmist echoes the words of the faithful, rejoicing in all God has done. The writer of Hebrews confesses that Christ is our priest, making the ultimate sacrifice for us and calling us together to love and do good deeds. And Mark recounts Jesus’s foretelling of the end times, when not even the stone buildings will be left standing. Jesus will bring forth a new kind of kingdom, but it will not be easy. These readings beg the question, “How might we be faithful?” 1 Samuel 1:4-20; 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (or Psalm 16); Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18); Mark 13:1-8
November 28 First Sunday of Advent
As we begin Advent with the “Little Apocalypse” in Luke 21, we remember how far from home we are. The world is not as it should be. Many have lost their physical homes, many feel alone, and many are isolated. Many of us feel as if we are wandering with no clear way forward. This first week speaks to our deep longing—for our home to be made whole, made right, and made well. With deep longing, we watch for God. Thankfully, God enters a homesick world. Luke 21:25-36, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
December 5 Second Sunday of Advent
In the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, we see the foundation of what is to come. We see how interwoven his story is with Jesus’ origin story. When Zechariah regains his voice, his imagination is also restored. He offers deep praise for God’s tender mercy, and casts a hopeful vision for his own child. He sings blessings into John’s being. This lays the foundation for John’s life. In turn, John will go on to prepare the way for Jesus who will guide us all in the way of peace. In this week, we focus on making space—in our lives and our imaginations—for God’s blessings to break through. Luke 1:57-80, Philippians 1:3-11
December 12 Third Sunday of Advent
John the Baptist’s good news sounds harsh, but he preaches a home for all—where inequities are banished, valleys are lifted up, and all have the resources they need for collective flourishing. Ultimately, John’s message is one of joy. We are called to collectively build and repair the structures of our society; we are called to be kin-dom builders. Wherever we build, God is there. What we build should be a place with a large table and room for all. Luke 3:1-18, Zephaniah 3:14-20
December 19 Fourth Sunday of Advent
After receiving the angel’s extraordinary news, Mary retreats to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home to digest her new calling. She seeks refuge—physical safety and emotional protection. She receives a safe haven, a home for her heart to soon sing praise. Sanctuary and safe space is so crucial for everyone, especially the mother of Christ while she prepares to become a home for God. Sanctuary is anywhere God’s love dwells freely and abundantly. Luke 1:39-55, Luke 1:46b-55
December 24, 2021 Christmas Eve INVITED HOME
A festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.
In 1880 E. W. Banson, the Anglican Bishop of Truro, England, composed a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, based on ancient sources, for Christmas Eve. In 1918 it was adopted for the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by its Dean, Eric Milner-White, who also wrote The Bidding Prayer. The Blessings after The Lord’s Prayer, added by Milner-White, was first included in its present form in 1930. The Nine Lessons given here have been customarily used in recent years at King’s College. The service has been edited for United Methodist congregations.