St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
Sunday Worship Service Includes:Zoom Recoding Bulletin & SermonAnnouncements To View The Recording Click Here
Service for the Lord’s Day
~FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY ~
February 7, 2021 10:00 a.m.
Pastor Joan Priest, Worship Leader
Mr. David Warfield, Director of Music Ministry
Joe Jackson, Liturgist
Elder, Dale Green 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 “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” Fred Swan
GREETING & ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP Good people of the church, lift up your eyes and see.
Have you not seen? Have you not heard? Our God greets us here.
Good servants of the Most High, open your ears to hear.
Have you not seen? Have you not heard? Our God meets us here.
Good children of the light, open your hearts and know what it means to delight in God.
For we have seen, heard and known, from the beginning to the end, Our God is here.
Let us worship God.
*HYMN 12 “ Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” ST. DENIO
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might,
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all, life thou givest, to both great and small.
In all life thou livest, the true life of all.
We blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.
Thou reignest in glory, thou dwellest in light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight.
All praise we would render; O help us to see
‘tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.
The opening line of this hymn was inspired by the three divine attributes listed in 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV), and it continues by considering how God’s life exceeds our own finite existence. The text is well set to a Welsh melody shaped by many three-note units.
SILENT CONFESSION (FOR INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS OF CONFESSION)
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we know that you provide for us so many blessings in our lives, and yet we have a tendency to take all that you do for us for granted. We treat the world with callous indifference, using its resources carelessly and with little regard to the future. We turn our backs on people in need, the weak and downtrodden go unnoticed in our midst. Forgive us. Heal our hearts and spirits. Make us fully aware of all our blessings and our responsibilities. Give us again a spirit of joy in serving you. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
ASSURANCE OF GRACE
PASSING 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 Psalm 147: 1-11
Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
The word of the Lord.Thanks be to God. PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION SECOND READING Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 9And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
The word of the Lord.Thanks be to God.
SERMON Sunday, February 7, 2021Mark 1:29-39
“Lifted into Healing”
The Rev. Joan Withers Priest
So how many of you can’t wait for tonight’s Superbowl? It is nice to have something to look forward to right now. I admit it – it is usually the only football game I watch all season and face it, it’s a great excuse to sit around and eat a lot of junk food, oh wait, I’ve been doing that for months, and a great excuse to sit around and watch tv for hours, oh wait I’ve been doing that for months. And I also admit, my favorite part besides the half-time show is – – the commercials. Especially the ones with puppies that make you cry. Or the ones with Doritos that make us laugh, really laugh. I think we all need a little lifting up right now, something to look forward to, like a Superbowl, like a vaccine, like an end to this pandemic. And today’s scripture passage is about being lifted up, lifted into healing and not just from disease or illness, healed and restored.
In the time of Jesus, healings were signs of the presence of God. In the days of Jesus, they didn’t have concepts of viruses, germs, heredity and environmental factors that were understood to contribute to the cause of diseases – it was sin, demons, and evil spirits which caused them. It seems to me, though, that they had a much better concept of what healing, health and wholeness really means. Most of the healing stories in the Bible place one’s bodily disease and one’s emotional illness together. How many times are they first forgiven and then healed? How many times is it their faith or the faith of those around them that makes them well? This was the healing that Jesus brought.
Recent studies conclude that 85% of all illnesses that physicians treat today are caused by psychological attributes. In other words, 85% of all people who visit a doctor are ill because of emotions and not germs or viruses. (1) Think about that for a moment, stomach problems, migraines, ulcers, near heart attacks, the list goes on and on, are mainly brought on or aggravated by something inside of us. Many define disease as something that afflicts us like cancer, something we inherited like high blood pressure, or something we catch from another like the virus. Many define illness as something we inflict upon ourselves. The word for “healthy” in Hebrew is shalom, which means to be whole, complete, at peace. It has been said that physicians ask what and how and can only go so far in curing what ills us; psychologists ask why, and can only go so far in curing what aches in us; but it is religion that asks who and can make us whole, at peace. (2) Jesus came not to cure every disease, but to help us with our illnesses, to make us whole, to lift us up into a new way of life.
Today’s scripture passage from the Gospel of Mark occurs at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had just called his disciples; he just performed his first miracle in helping a man by casting out an unclean spirit within him. And now walks across the street to the home of two of his disciples Simon and Andrew. Now Simon probably told Jesus that his mother-in-law was ill with a high fever because most likely it was caused by malaria, and he wanted to warn him of this sickness in his house. Most likely his mother-in-law was in her private quarters, secluded from others.
Can you imagine the disciples faces when Jesus immediately goes to her, sits down beside her, and takes her by the hand and lifts her up and heals her?! Remember this was a culture in which touching a non-related woman was in itself an offense, touching one that was sick was an even greater offense and could make someone unclean, and performing this act on the Sabbath was a tremendous social offense as well. He broke all the rules in order to heal!
For us women, what offends us is the next line, the fever leaves her and she immediately gets up and begins to serve them. I’m sorry, she doesn’t even get a day off to recuperate?! Again, we need to remember that Jesus’ healing not only took away her disease but also restored her to her social position, for it was a privilege to show hospitality to important guests – it was a matter of honor, not servitude. The Greek word used here to serve can also mean to minister – once healed she is lifted back into her position to minister to others.
We live in a time right now where we too feel like we are on the edge of being brought back to health. From this place of isolation and loneliness and pain and sometimes great grief. What if we were to think about this time as a restoration of our mind, spirit, body, everything. While today we have a better understanding of diseases and illnesses, I think we are just beginning to understand the role and power of belief, of faith that is essential in the healing process. And I think we are just beginning to understand the role and power of stress and emotional circumstances, and how they impact our health.
For us adults, there are two main factors that add the most stress to our lives. And maybe today we would add a third stress is this virus. Can you guess the other two? One is money and the other is conflict. Money is by far the number one stressor among adults, but this is not only the stress of not having enough money to eat and take care of essential needs. It also involves the stress of caring for others, having enough for the future. And conflicts with people run a close second. Take a moment and think of friends, family, people you know who live with so much pain, sorrow, anxiety, confusion, and stress. So how are we to be healed and lift others into healing? Well, some physicians, psychologists and theologians suggest a few ways.
The first way to help achieve wholeness and healing is to be honest with ourselves and with each other. The art of life is pretending. We are terrific at pretending we are well, when we are not. And people expect this from us. Just ask someone “how are you doing?” and if they don’t say, “just fine, how are you?” but answer instead, “well, I’m having a really hard time right now,” people get uncomfortable! How many times are we the first ones to bring our children to the doctors and the last ones to take ourselves? How many times are we the last to admit those stressors have actually caused something physical to happen to us? Be honest. Are you okay? Really? Because most of us really aren’t okay right now.
The second way to help achieve wholeness and healing is to seek treatment. Use the finest of doctors, hospitals, research, drugs, and technology available, get that vaccine when you can, and recognize it as another place where God works miracles. And be honest with your doctor, for a good physician looks at the entire body – not just one part – but the whole. He or she may specialize in one part but is thinking and asking about the whole. One medical doctor who works with children who have cancer wrote, “Sometimes in medicine, we act as if we are prophesying when we are only prognosticating. Prophecy is not a ‘best guess.’” The practice of medicine is a covenant between the physician and the patient.
She tells the story of one patient, three year old Jose who had a brain tumor. A CAT scan showed the tumor was growing, but the surgery was declined because the Pentecostal parents claimed that a member of their church had received a prophetic word from the Lord, that the boy was already healed. The doctor planned a conference with the parents, the pastor and that church member. Once they had reviewed the medical facts, including her opinion of Jose’s chances of survival with or without the surgery, the doctor stated, “Pastor, everyone in this room is on the same team. We all want Jose’ to be healed and we all want to be sure that God receives the glory however healing happens. We’d like you to lead us in prayer for Jose’.” It was agreed to wait a week, perform another CAT scan, and when it showed further tumor growth, surgery was scheduled.
The purpose of the conference-prayer meeting was not to pressure the family to accept surgery but to permit them to face the medical facts in a supportive environment where everyone was on their side.” It’s about being in covenant, seeking common ground, all working for the child. (3) That’s healing. That’s being lifted up.
While science and doctors ask what and how, philosophy and psychology ask why and that too is important. The Greek word for “cured” is therapeuno; it is where our English word for therapist comes from. And so, we also need to seek the treatment that comes friends, counselors, analysts, therapists or psychiatrists, for they can help us work with reconciliation, suppression, forgiveness, and acceptance; by looking at the forces underlying our problems, we seek wholeness with self and wholeness in relationships.
While doctors ask what and how, and psychology asks why; it is religion that asks who. For a third way to achieve healing and wholeness is to be open, and allow God in. Be open to faith and new life received through belief and through the touch of others. As one pastor writes, It is only through God in Jesus Christ, that we can become reconciled with the world and all that is within it, knowing there is something more – beyond this world; knowing that all conflict and disease never disappears, but the power of reconciliation whose work is wholeness, whose name is love, is always at work; and that gives us hope. What Jesus really wants and needs from us is a hunger in our hearts for a healing of those relationships, those conflicts, those stressors which are causing disabilities in ourselves. Jesus wants us to have a hunger for healing inside our souls. (4)
The fourth way we achieve wholeness and healing is to pray and that means, to take time to be alone in our faith. Not just alone, many of us have way too much “alone” right now, but alone with God. One of the things that Jesus always did was to take time. Can you imagine the disciples when they first discover that not only can this man preach and teach, not only can he perform miracles, he can heal people?! The word spreads, everyone comes to be healed and Jesus heals hundreds before going to sleep that night. The next morning, they open the door to see more people lined up to be healed, the whole town, but where’s Jesus? They must have thought, he went off to pray?! Are you kidding, now? So, they go hunting for him and literally ask, “are you done yet because there are people waiting?” Jesus took the time to pray and be in the presence of God, so that he could be lifted up in healing and wholeness.
My friends, the Season of Lent is fast approaching, and my hope is that you will spend some time reading the daily devotional we will be sending to you, attend the Ash Wednesday Service, or a prayer service, or Maundy Thursday service, and spend time each day to purposely be with God.
Jesus left that area because the people began to cry for his physical healing, not his message as a whole, the emotional, physical and spiritual healing of the people. We too need emotional, physical and spiritual healing right now. And so, let us be honest with ourselves and seek the help we need for it’s hard to concentrate on faith when a body is in turmoil, when our heart is in turmoil. And let us seek God’s touch and the touch of others and take time to be with God in prayer and worship. For we are being lifted up right now into a new beginning, a new way of living, a new church, are you ready for it? In the name of the one who brings wholeness and peace, laughter and praise. Amen.
(1) Markquart, The Rev. Edward Markquart. Sermons from Seattle. “Hunger for Healing”.
(2) Kreeft, The Rev. Peter Kreeft. “Making Sense out of Suffering.” Religiononline.org.
(3) Komp, The Rev. Diane. “A Mystery Story: Children, Cancer, and Covenant” Theology Today.
(4) Tillich, The Rev. Dr. Paul. “The New Being.” Religion-online.org.
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.* AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostles’ Creed I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
* HYMN 793 “O Christ, the Healer” ERHALT UNS, HERR
O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored,
when reached by love that never ends?
From every ailment flesh endures
our bodies clamor to be freed;
yet in our hearts we would confess
that wholeness is our deepest need.
How strong, O Lord, are our desires,
how weak our knowledge of ourselves!
Release in us those healing truths
unconscious pride resists or shelves.
In conflicts that destroy our health,
we diagnose the world’s disease;
our common life declares our ills:
is there no cure, O Christ, for these?
Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.
This prayer for wholeness of body, mind, and spirit considers not only the infirmities of individuals but also those of localities, societies, and nations. In the midst of such widespread need, worshiping communities are called to continue Christ’s healing work in the world.
PRESENTING OUR TITHES & OFFERINGS
(We invite you to make your offering online. Thank you to everyone for your generous support!)
*PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING & DEDICATION
We lean on the everlasting arms of your mercy, O God, and dwell in the hope of your grace fulfilled. Whatever good that we do we owe to your power within us; the work of our hands is a gift of your love. Nourish our endeavors with your sustaining Spirit and accept our efforts by these gifts we present to you, as in Christ we seek to fulfill your all-encompassing will. Amen.
SHARING OUR JOYS & CONCERNS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
THE SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION
Prayer of Thanksgiving
SENDING WE HEAR THE CHARGE, RECEIVE THE BENEDICTION, AND ARE SENT TO CARRY GOD’S WORD INTO THE WORLD.CHARGE & BENEDICTION
POSTLUDE “ST. DENIO” WILBUR HELD
* Please rise in body or in spirit.