April 18th


                         
 Sunday Worship Service
 Recording 
Bulletin
Sermon
 
 Announcements
  Click Here To View Our Worship Recording   

~Service for the Lord’s Day~
April 18, 2021  10:00 a.m. 
Worship Leaders:
Elder Dale Green, Worship leader
 Andrea Barbour, Ministry of Music
Elder Joe Jackson,  Liturgist

 Recording Operations
AJ and Mike Hintz                                                      GATHERING WE PREPARE OURSELVES FOR WORSHIP BY PASSING THE PEACE OF CHRIST, ACKNOWLEDGING WHO WE ARE, 
AND RECEIVING THE ASSURANCE OF GOD’S GRACE.
PRELUDE                                 A Prayer  of Need                                     Penny Rodriguez 
 
                                                                 
GREETING & ANNOUNCEMENTS 
OPENING PRAYER




CALL TO WORSHIP                                                                                                                     1 Peter 2
As you come to Jesus, the living Stone—
rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him
you also, like living stones, are being built into a temple of the Spirit
to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 
 
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 
Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; 
once we had received no mercy, but now we have received God’s mercy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
 *HYMN #263                                 All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name
  All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all!

 O seed of Israel’s chosen race
now ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all!

 Let every kindred, every tribe,
on this terestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all!

 Oh, that with all the sacred throng
we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all. 
                            PRAYER OF CONFESSION                                  God of wonders – Jesus, your Son, offered his life to suffer and to rise from the dead 
so that repentance and forgiveness of sins 
could be proclaimed in His name, for each and every one of us. 
We forget the significance of suffering of others until it is in front of us
We dismiss death until it looms large before us
We miss the gravity of the suffering and death of The One, who gave His life for ours
So that we could turn away – from our faults and failures – from our sin
So that we could be forgiven by You, in love. 
Look into our souls and cleans us now, and make us whiter than snow, 
acceptable to You for all eternity. 
Forgive us, we pray. 
Amen.
 
ASSURANCE OF GRACEPASSING OF THE PEACE (USING ASL)HEARING 
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD, WRITTEN & PROCLAIMED. GOD’S WORD IS CENTRAL TO OUR FAITH; 
HENCE WE PUT IT AT THE CENTER OF OUR WORSHIP.FIRST READING Genesis 3: 8-13, 22-23
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”
Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 
 
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
                           SECOND READING                                                                                                Luke 24:36b-48
Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things. 
 
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
                                                                                                                                                 PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION                                                                                                                       
SERMON                                                       Holding the Miraculous

Holding the Miraculous

                                                                                                 
We would all love to have superhuman powers, would we not? At least some miraculous powers, like the power to eat anything we wanted without gaining a pound? Or maybe to fly or to read other people’s minds or maybe just the power to understand our own thoughts?
 
One of the things that the coronavirus is giving us as an unexpected benefit, if you will, is an incredible amount of knowledge for the common man or woman about a virus, about its symptoms, about its treatments, about how to get it and avoid it, about all these things that we never ever-ever wanted to know anything about. This is knowledge, not miraculous power, but I think you get the picture.
 
But – One of those small tidbits of information that we are learning right now is that people that have gotten the virus and are still carrying symptoms seem to get miraculously better when they take the vaccine. I don’t think this happens in every case, but it has happened in enough people to make researchers wonder and dream, why? It really does seem quite miraculous.
 
When a doctor was asked, on NPR Science Friday last week, what he would like to magically know about the body and Covid 19, he said that he would like to know this: why some people get suddenly better, losing all of their symptoms, right after taking the Covid vaccine.
 
He would want to know what is it that changes inside of them to make all of those horrible symptoms go away, so we might replicate the solution and pass it on to others. He wants to know what is currently unknowable, he wants to hold the miraculous.
 
This book (The Bible) seems almost closed to us at times, we often don’t really understand how all the pieces interact. I personally think it would be a superhuman power to understand how this all fits together.
 
We who lead the worship services stand here with the belief that as we study the scriptures and prepare the message, we are getting a glimpse of how it all works.
 
I for one know that when I am preaching what I have studied I often feel a sense of the touch of the spirit egging me on to say the words that I have in front of me or that come to mind. I never feel that I am alone up here, saying what I’m saying, even when I’m trying to understand, literally as I speak, to discern the miraculous.
 
But even if we were to absolutely discern the miraculous and tell you exactly what God thought we should tell you or what we should learn about His Word, and we were able to effectively pass it on to people, we would still need an ear to listen, a congregation to preach to, a Zoom or YouTube audience to connect with to be doing God’s work here.  We are in a real sense holding the miraculous each week and trying to pass it on which is just what is happening in our opening scripture context today.
 
So, let’s open our brains real wide and try to put ourselves into the scene today from Luke. These events all occur on the day that the body of Jesus has been discovered missing. It is the day that the women who had seen Jesus die and who had seen him taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb, went to the tomb and found it empty. But that’s not all, these women; Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them then conversed with 2 angels, who told them
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” And this is the third day!
 
I think we would all have to admit that this isn’t just a “well, that didn’t happen to me today” kind of day, it’s more like a “that will never happen to me” day.
It is also the day where Jesus appeared to 2 disciples walking to Emmaus, explained the scriptures to them, broke bread with them and then disappeared. It is a day of miraculous things.
As we enter Luke 24 now, the women and the 2 disciples from Emmaus are trying to pass on their miraculous stories about Jesus to the others. But, what they are saying must sound so very wrong!
 
The disciples had spent 3 long years learning from their teacher, learning something. But what was it? Once he was crucified it didn’t make sense! What was it all about?
But – This was a day when the disciples of Jesus would hold the miraculous in their hearts for the rest of their lives. Because suddenly:
Luke 24:36b-48
Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 
 
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures: and suddenly they understood it all! Suddenly it all made sense. In a way, they were given superhuman powers. They suddenly were holding the miraculous truth of God.
 
And this is not the only time that we hear of something like this happening in the Bible; in fact there are three instances of Jesus opening the power of the Bible’s miraculous story to his disciples.Here in Luke 24:45 Jesus “opened their minds to understand the scriptures”Earlier in Luke 24:27 while on the road to Emmaus – Jesus, beginning with Moses and the prophets, explained to His disciples what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.And later in Acts 9 the Apostle Paul meets the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus where Jesus appoints him to bring God’s message of salvation to the Gentile world and Paul is then anointed by the Holy Spirit and immediately begins to preach of Jesus fulfilling all scripture.  
We really don’t have any better biblical example of God radically changing a life, than what is illustrated in the life of the apostle Paul.
One day he is a Pharisee of Pharisees, standing watch at the stoning of the disciple Stephen and then he takes the mantle to chase down, jail, and kill those who follow Jesus. But in another day, Jesus calls on Paul to become His instrument to change the world – and Paul’s life was transformed, forever. Where once he hunted Christians for sport, Paul would later declare “I count all before in my life as loss, as rubbish compared to the glory of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Phil 3:8)
 
Jesus’ disciples, His followers, and the Apostle Paul were given a miraculous gift of understanding the Holy Scriptures, of knowing God’s word intimately and therefore knowing God and Jesus intimately.
 
Contrast this to our other scripture reading today from Genesis. A day completely divergent with the miraculous truth of the resurrection.
Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden and are in an intimate relationship with the creator. But they separated themselves from God, they broke the Lord’s law and hid from God in their shame.
 
Genesis 3
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
 
The violation against God was real, so real that mankind was removed from our intimate relationship with our creator.
“…therefore the Lord God sent Adam forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.”
 
Where Adam’s sin pulled us out of the garden and mankind remained then separated from God – God the Son, the Christ, came to give us a way back, a way to hold the miraculous to be in relationship with God again. When Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to the scriptures, He paved the path for all mankind again.
 
Jesus made it pretty clear that that path is His path when he said, of himself
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) and when he said “”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:3 NIV)
 
He didn’t say exactly how we would get “through Him” to the Father other than by believing in Him; that He is the way to heaven, to God.
The key to this, for us, is to simply grasp the miraculous truth that God provided us;
through Jesus, through His disciples, through His scripture and to us.
To use this truth in our lives and to pass it on for others to hold.
 
Falling short of understanding the great gift we have been given is simply weak.
 
When Dave and Jen Robert’s left to move to Mass. a couple of years ago, Dave offered a departure sermon with a masterfully used quote from C.S Lewis that I offer here again, now –
 
Lewis wrote:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[1]
 
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like many things – like a pearl of great value. He offered this short parable in Matthew 13. He said: “…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
 
Why wouldn’t we, who know the great value of our faith and of our Church to our families, not share the understanding of these things of great value with others?
 
Now, I know that we are not the kind of church that stands on the street corner with John 3:16 signs but we actually live our lives and interact with others in ways many people simply don’t do. Our faith makes us different!
 
In the past month or so of working in the hospital as a chaplain, it’s become glaringly clear to me that there are tremendous differences between patients who profess faith in God, from those who do not.
 
Christians who face significant trials in their lives respond to those trails so totally different than those who profess no faith or reject the concepts of God and what this book (the Bible) tells us.
 
A patient I’ll call Patty, who gave me permission to tell her story, was just diagnosed with a life-ending disease. She has children and grand-children and great-grand-children who know her for her love and warmth and personal internal character. Her family was raised as a Christian church family and not only is she, as she says, “at peace” with her diagnosis and way ahead, but her whole family is visiting and celebrating their rich lives together. Hers is a room filled with joy. She has some stories of tremendous problems and tragedies in life but her family faces life with God always in their corner.
 
I’ve thought a lot about her life and about what this church and our faith means to us here. I thought about our little prayer group that meets every Tuesday morning at around 0530 and has been for decades and how the church family has sustained and maintained our lives through many trials and triumphs.
 
So, I use three of us examples: the Greens, the Gentrys and the Kokomoors.
We all came to this particular church at around the same time in the late 90s. Debby and I came from overseas, from England with the Navy. Christine and Jim came from Guantánamo bay Cuba, also as a Navy family, and Kris and Katey came from Olvido Florida, working in the private sector. We all came from different church backgrounds, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Nazarine, Congregationalist, but ended up here. And it’s fascinating how our lives are so similar.
 
Now, I am not in any way saying that we are perfect families nor perfect Christians; I think we would all agree we’re far from that – but being part of a church family, raising our kids in Christian homes; facing good and bad times from a foundation of Christ, has made really big differences in our lives. Many of those differences are simply unqualifiable but we all know that those differences are of great value to us. 
 
Even though the opening of scripture to our minds will absolutely never happened to us in our lives, we do live miraculous lives in the life of the church!
 
Jesus finished his statement to his disciples in Luke 24 by saying:
“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” In Matthew 28, He follows this up with what we call the Great Commission – to go and make disciples, to baptize them and to teach them what I Jesus, have said. And he promised to be with His disciples for all ages.
 
Jesus did not go to a cross just because he was deemed a criminal, Jesus went to a cross to give you and me a way to reconcile our dirty sordid lives with the justice inherent in a perfect God. This Christ candle doesn’t just represent a memory or a time in history, it represents the here and the now of Christ no longer on the cross but of Jesus fighting for our lives through us and with the Holy Spirit if we would but see Him and believe! How can we hold this miraculous truth and not offer it to others by how we live, and how we live with our neighbors?
 
You know the old adage that if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it… Does it make any sound? As we try to come out of this Covid shut down there are a lot of people wondering if they should go back to church. The answer to me is clearly yes.
 
I am of the belief that your average version 1.0 human being is a substantially better person in so many ways when they meet the person of Christ, when God comes into their hearts. Without having people come to listen these messages we have a real possibility of being a tree that makes no sound.
So, this is my sales pitch:
Go tell your church friends and go invite your non-church friends and bring them to hear the words that these ministers discern to be spiritual words for us to hear. Let them also hold the miraculous, the miraculous-ness of Jesus, for themselves.
Amen
  [1] ― C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Ed. W. Hooper. New York, Simon and Schuster (1996), 25-26.
 RESPONDING GOD HAS SPOKEN, AND WE RESPOND. WE AFFIRM OUR FAITH, PRAY FOR THE WORLD, RE-COMMIT OURSELVES TO MISSION, 
PRESENT OUR TITHES & GIFTS, AND OFFER THANKS THAT GOD CONTINUES TO SPEAK 
TODAY.                                                                                                                 * HYMN: #268                                                      Crown Him with Many Crowns
         Crown him with many crowns,the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king
through all eternity.

 Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified;
no angels in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends his burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

 Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose power a scepter sways,
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
absorbed in prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end; 
and round his pearc-ed feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet. 

 Crown him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.                                                                   PRESENTING OUR TITHES & OFFERINGS         (If you’re joining us via Zoom,
we invite you to make your offering online.
Thank you to everyone for your generous support!)
 PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING & DEDICATION
  Great and loving God – you give us all good gifts and we return to you now these tithes as a portion of Your bounty. In your miraculous nature, just as you spark a light in our hearts making us wholly Yours, now amplify these small offerings into jewels of great significance to the majesty of your kingdom on this earth. Use them to feed the hungry, to cloth the naked, to help the widow and the orphan, and to make Your name known to all people. Make our offerings worthy of Your glory. 
Amen.
 SHARING OUR JOYS & CONCERNS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
  *HYMN:  #625                                        How Great Thou Art
O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands hath made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed;Refrain:Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art, how great thou art!
 When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze; [Refrain]
  And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin; [Refrain] When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, “My God, how great thou art!” [Refrain]
 SENDING     WE HEAR THE CHARGE, RECEIVE THE BENEDICTION, AND ARE SENT TO CARRY GOD’S WORD INTO THE WORLD.CHARGE & BENEDICTION     

POSTLUDE                                                 God of all Nations                               Esther S. Higgins