Call to Worship and Congregational Prayer – October 21, 2018

Call to Worship

L: As the rains pour from heaven, soaking the earth that it may produce good things….

P: So God pours God’s love upon us, that we, too, may produce goodness and peace.

L: We have been blessed with many gifts and talents.

P: God desires that we use these gifts and talents for healing, peace, and hope.

L: Come, let us worship and celebrate the mighty love and power of God.

P: Praise be to God who has blessed us in so many ways. AMEN.

 

Prayer of Confession

    We can get caught up in selfish pursuits and completely overlook the wonders of your creation, O God. All around us are majestic reminders of the beauty you offer to us.

    But we are weak and easily trapped into attitudes of indifference or destructive behavior. You have not given this world to us that we should destroy it, but rather that we should cherish it and make sure that all receive from its bounty.

    Forgive our overwhelming greed and selfishness. Help us to let go of the petty desires for wealth, position, and power, and bring us into a ministry which proclaims your love and justice for all your people.

    These things we pray in the name of the Master Servant, Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.

Announcements – October 21, 2018

  • Oct 24 (5:30pm): Choir Practice
  • Oct 24 (5:30pm): Bible Study
  • Oct 28: IHS Doughnut order due
  • Oct 28: HUB Donations Due
  • Nov 3 (10am): HUB gathering @ Watts UMC in Belleville
  • Nov 7: IHS Food Orders Due
  • Nov 15: IHS Food Pick Up
  • Nov 18: Homecoming Meal
  • Nov 18 (3pm): Charge Conference @ Trinity
  • Candy Donations: See Jayne P.
  • Meals on Wheels: See Pastor
  • Donations for HUB: See Nancy
  • Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard: Donations are being accepted.
  • Thank you, October helpers!

Call to Worship & Prayer of Confession – October 14, 2018

Call to Worship (Hebrews 4, Mark 10)

L: The kingdom of God is at hand.

P: We want to enter this kingdom.

L: The mercy of God is made known.

P: We want to receive this mercy.

L: The grace of God is abundant for all.

P: We praise you, O God, for your compassion and your love. Accept our grateful praise as we come to worship you today.  Amen

Prayer of Confession

Lord, we look for you in the wrong places.

We put our trust in material things.

We worry about things we cannot change.

We wonder if you are even there at all.

For all the times we have doubted you, Lord, forgive us.

For all the ways we have neglected your word and ignored your people, forgive us.

Do not be far from us, Lord.

There is no one else we can turn to for help.

Renew our fickle hearts and help us put our trust in you. Amen

Announcements – October 7-14, 2018

  • October 28: IHS Doughnut/Bagel order due
  • November 3 (10am): HUB gathering @ Watts UMC in Belleville
  • November 7: IHS Ham Loaf/BBQ Orders Due
  • November 15: IHS Ham Loaf/BBQ Pick Up
  • November 18: IHS Class Homecoming Meal @ Grove
  • November 18: Charge Conference @ Trinity (3pm)

 

Potato Drop was canceled.

Candy Donations: are being accepted for the outreach for trick-or-treat.   See Jayne P. for details.

Choir Practice: Wed 5:30pm @ Grove Memorial

Bible Study: Wed 6:30pm @ Grove Memorial, Tue 7pm @ Lake Park

Meals on Wheels: If you can help on Tuesdays or Thursdays, please contact Pastor Randy.

Donations for HUB: (by Oct 28) See Nancy B. with your monetary donations so we can supply toothbrushes.

Thank you to our September and October, helpers!

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard: October donations are now being accepted.

Call to Worship & World Communion Sunday Prayer of Confession – October 7, 2018

Call to Worship

L: As we gather around the table of the LORD today,

P: we remember the peoples of the world divided into many nations and tongues.

L: We gather in the name of the Almighty, Creator of every man and woman, every plant and animal.

P: We join in the chorus of praise with sisters and brothers around the world to celebrate our LORD.

L: May Christ’s church be strengthened and united through the sacrament of Holy Communion.

World Communion Sunday Prayer of Confession

Lord, on this world communion Sunday, help us examine our hearts so that we may pay proper respect to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Thank you for offering reconciliation to all of humankind, the forgiveness of sins through Christ, our high priest.

Almighty and ever-present God, we confess our sins to you. We are truly sorry for our wrongdoings and shortcomings, for sins of commission and sins of omission.     Forgive us, we pray, in Christ’s name.

Empower us to serve you fully, to share the resources we have with those who have less, to weep with those who weep, and to laugh with those who laugh. Help us to be good stewards over the earth you have placed in our care; help us to unite in love and concern for one another, not just in our local community, but with brothers and sisters in all the    world.

As we draw near to your holy table we thank you, Lord, for providing the Bread of Life for us.  As we partake, impart on us your grace and mercy, unite us with Christ, our Lord, and with one another.  May your kingdom be established in all the earth. Amen.

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us

Mark 9:38-50

Its beyond me to explain why so much of Christianity is so far off what Jesus of Nazareth actually taught. And he wasn’t even vague or unclear in any way. This passage is a prime example: here Jesus is clearly teaching the disciples a lesson in tolerance. He couldn’t have been more clear when he said: Whoever is not against us is for us.

And yet, much of conservative Christianity, and perhaps this is also true for other religions, are doing the exact opposite of what Jesus was teaching. They draw a line in the sand defining them and us in very strict and judgmental ways. They are turning Jesus statement around, saying: if youre not for me, you are against me. I wonder if the disciples would agree with her when she says, unless you come to my church, or a church that is very similar to my church, and unless you believe the way I do (by which they usually mean the 5 fundamentals of Christianity), you cant be a true believer.

Even if you go to your church regularly, even if you are a pastor of such a church, even if you are doing good things in the world, even if you sing the same songs, etc.

Note how Jesus counters the disciples Us vs. Them language. The disciples said: we stopped him cause he was not one of us.

There it is, the us vs. them concept that is the cause for racism, sexism, heterosexism, unhealthy nationalism and racial ethnic supremacy attitudes. If we could only stop that language, if we could only stop seeing the world in terms of us vs. them, we would actually have a chance to get along.

Where does this concept even come from? How can it be explained? One psychologist explains it like this:

People who do not have a positive sense of self, or if they have low or damaged self esteem, or if they feel insecure, then the feeling of belonging to a group that they feel is superior or secure would be helpful to their sense of self esteem. They become intolerant and insensitive to the other groups.

Perhaps, those Christians who see the world in terms of us vs. them language, dont really feel secure in their spiritual identity. Perhaps they derive their sense of purpose and identity form a specific faith group that teaches some sort of superiority over and against other groups. Which becomes a problem unless that faith is following Jesus Christ?

This also fits perfectly with the words of the Dalai Lama who said: compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

Back to our text, when the disciples bring up the other believer, the one who operated outside of their circle, Jesus said: whoever is not against us, is for us. In the Greek its even clearer: the word for for is hyper which also carries the connotation of above us and on behalf of us, or with us

So, Jesus could actually be interpreted to have said: whoever is not against us is one of us.

Thats a fascinating concept in which the only way people find themselves outside of Gods kingdom is if they exclude themselves. We are not supposed to be exclusive or to exclude anybody, we are supposed to include everybody!

But even if you find this interpretation too far-fetched, at the very least, Jesus was asking his disciples to tolerate those who are not part of our inner circle of faith. We are supposed to accept them and not stop them. There simply is no place in Gods kingdom for the them vs. us language, there is no place for hate speech, there is no place for intolerance.

If we could only understand this teaching and put it into practice. World peace would be this much closer. So, let it begin with us. We can live Jesus principle of tolerance. And my prediction is that as we do, we will have more friends, a wider network of people from all walks, and we will be able to open ourselves up to a richer wisdom and spiritual life. Especially a life that others say I want to be like them. Amen.

Call to Worship & Opening Prayer – September 30, 2018

Call to Worship

L: If it had not been God who was on our side, the troubles of our world would have swallowed us whole.

P: If it had not been God who was on our side,

the sorrows of our times would have swept us away.

L: Are any among us suffering?

P: Come and pray.

L: Are any among us cheerful?

P: Come sing songs of praise.

L: Are any among us sick?

P: Come and ask for healing.

L: Our help is in our God, the One who made heaven and earth. Call upon God, creator and rescuer.

P: God is on our side. AMEN!

 

Opening Prayer

Eternal God, you create us and you rescue us. Be here with us now. Help us know how much we need you. Teach us that no other power can support us like your power. As you share your power with us, teach us to be Christ to the world, proclaiming your reign for all people. As you lavish your love upon us, help us receive that love and offer it to the world, in Jesus’ name. Amen.