St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
Sunday Worship Service Recording with Bulletin & Sermon
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Service for the Lord’s Day
~SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY ~
January 17th, 2021 10:00 a.m.
Elder Dale Green, Worship Leader
Mr. David Warfield, Director of Music Ministry
Elder Tim Evers, Liturgist
Elder on Duty, Jeff Snider 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 When Morning Gilds the Skies Anna Laura Page
GREETING & ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP FROM PSALM 139
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
*HYMN 69 I, the Lord of Sea and Sky (Here I Am, Lord) HERE I AM I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
I who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain
I have wept for love of them, They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone,
I will speak my word to them,
Whom shall I send? Refrain
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide
‘Til their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall I send? Refrain
The stanzas here need to be understood as representing the voice of God, while the refrain (based on Isaiah 6:8) is the faithful human response to God’s call. This becomes clearer if a leader or small group sings the stanza, with the congregation joining on the refrain.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of glory and might, we come to you stunned and disillusioned by the world that swirls around us. We see plague, political strife, and economic ruin for our neighboring businesses and we struggle to find answers, but we fail to see our own human hands in it all. We miss the clarion call of You, standing over us saying: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Cleanse our hearts, our minds, and our lives of sin, and focus our attention on the Savior who came offering real answers, by His sacrifice for us.
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 1 Samuel 3:1-20
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore, I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned by sacrifice or offering, forever.”
Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So, Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
SECOND READING JOHN 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
SERMON The Cost of Good and Bad Levin
Before we begin, let me start with an excuse! Ah – to spell again. The word Levin as it is spelled here is a noun no longer used meaning lightning; thunderbolts. Leaven – the spelling I should have used is to add some small substance to something to cause a good effect – like yeast to bread dough as it’s used in the bible, and at home – in your kitchen.
Today we are looking at two biblical accounts of leaders in God’s house that point to two very human but opposite truths:
That practicing habits for good pays us back with good and practicing bad habits costs us plenty.
I’ll tell you my end goal for today up front –
that we would all look at how we live and think and act and practice those things that are good, on a daily basis. Because practicing that which is good, through the long-haul is God-serving.
Paul says in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” But not just think about but as the New King James version says “meditate on these things”, and as other versions say literally “dwell on these things” that are good. (NASB, CSB, HCSB).
I think we can all agree that dwelling on things, like making small investments or effecting small changes, makes a big difference – over time.
My wife, Deb loves tea, and I’m ok with it, particularly the super-malty Assam tea with a kick to it. We make tea a number of times a day at home. Brew up some hot boiling water, steep the tea for maybe 4 minutes…
I’m going to place this pitcher up here as an illustration of changes over time. You may have seen this before – this is cold water – tea bags placed in a pitcher of cold water over time – even cold water makes tea; small changes over time.
So, we will come back to that.
I think we can also all agree that this idea of practice over time will in fact change us. And we can probably agree that practicing good leads to good changes and practicing bad leads to bad outcomes. In both cases the practice is like yeast working its way through dough, leavening the bread dough so it will rise.
Paul uses this as a metaphor in Galatians 5:9 where he says: A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.
On the good side of leavening, we place phrases most of us know
Practice makes perfect
You are what you eat
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
On the bad side we can place other frequently heard quips:
Garbage in – garbage out
One bad apple ruins the whole barrel
Or – like the fable of being like a frog in in slowly heated water
I heard a current example of bad leavening in a radio broadcast this past week when an addiction psychologist told the audience that the isolation of this pandemic has turned many occasional but high-volume social drinkers who didn’t have a “drinking problem” into daily low-volume alcoholics with now, a real problem. Where the infrequent big libations would finish off all productivity in a day, the daily small doses, over time, are developing life-long habits that many will find they are unable to break.
So, Good practice, good leaven –
In our lesson from John 1 today, we are introduced to Philip and Nathaniel who were chosen by Jesus to become his followers, His apostles.
These young men were unique. Jesus is known for having chosen some pretty random characters as disciples; some fishermen, a tax collector, and other rif-raf but these 2 were likely both respected students of the faith – maybe even future rabbis and they were likely the most learned of the group.
In Jesus’ time, the young Jewish men who were the A-listers in the crowd were the ones who were chosen by famous Rabbi’s to be their students. The Apostle Paul was one such man; who studied under Gamaliel, a prominent teacher of the faith.
To study under a great Rabbi was to be on the path to become a Rabbi yourself and carry forward the torch of the Hebrew faith, every young man’s calling. It’s not uncommon for young Hebrew boys to start learning the Torah at about the age of 3. Historian Theologian, William Barclay said that “As soon as a child can speak (that is, after his third year) he is to be instructed in the Law by his father.” (Barclay, Educational Ideals in the Ancient World, 1959). A book set known as The Ethics of the Hebrew Fathers, sets out the ages of a Jewish man and says: ‘At five years old, Scripture; at ten years, Mishnah; at thirteen, the commandments; at fifteen, Talmud…’”
By the time Nathanael and Philip meet Jesus, they are already recognized as likely future teachers. They are both disciples of John the Baptist, who departed him to follow Jesus after Philip declared to Nathanael “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
Imagine the scene; these 2 men, who have lived their whole lives being leavened in the Hebrew faith, have learned bit by bit how the faith believed in a final ultimate messiah, and they are now confronted with this interaction. I’ll pick it up with Philip’s declaration again (imagine their excitement):
Verse 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Can you imagine their excitement?
Good practice, good leaven.
Now – Bad practice, bad leaven –
In our teaching from 1st Samuel today we are offered the story of Eli telling the child Samuel that God was speaking to him and of Samuel receiving a blessing from God. But wrapped in this blessing is also a judgement on Eli and his house. This is a story of good leaven for Samuel and of bad leaven for Eli.
The backstory that precedes our scripture tells us that a man named Elkanah had two wives; Peninnah who bears children and Hannah who is barren. Peninnah is mean-spirited and picks on Hannah, making fun of her for being childless. Hannah prays to the Lord for her to bear a son and promises that child will be committed to God’s service if he is born. Samuel is that child and Hannah is good to her word, bringing him to Eli to serve in the temple.
Every year Elkanah and Hannah go to the temple at Shiloh where 2 of Eli’s sons are priests.
Now, these 2 sons Hophni and Phinehas, were very bad kids. The bible calls them “worthless men” who stole from the tithe and offerings given, ate the meat consecrated for God and lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Eli the priest is aware his kids are bad apples but fails to remove them from service in the temple, literally choosing them over God.
So, when Samuel hears the voice of God in the temple in the night, he also hears of God’s judgement coming, the judgement revealed after years of bad leaven in the house of Eli while, the Bible says, Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.
These 2 stories offer a stark contrast between a lifetime of good practices and a lifetime of bad practices.
Here at home, our weeks both behind us and the week ahead in this country, will certainly draw similar parallels for us as we reflect how we got here and where we are headed as a nation.
This weekend celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who was so unpopular in the country at the time of his assassination that over 2/3 of the country considered him more of a threat than a beacon of hope. But history tells the story differently and leaves us with a man who sowed the seeds of challenge that have changed and continue to change the country to this day.
Pictured for you is the scene from Washington, D.C.’s, Lincoln Memorial just before King’s Aug. 28, 1963 speech titled “I have a dream” in which he called for an end to racism, and equality in economic and civil rights in the United States.
That was 20,960 days ago and a dream for America largely not yet fulfilled – a topic for another day.
That same location today, preparing for a presidential inauguration, is empty of people, cordoned off by barbed wire and barricades, and patrolled by US military National Guardsmen and women.
What a scene depicting a little yeast leavening the whole batch of dough, both then and now. Good practice, good leaven – bad practice, bad leaven.
But, you also see in that picture 250K people, each a child of God,
each making his or her own choice in life of how to live,
how to be who they are to the rest of the world,
how to be, or not to be, in service to the Lord by serving mankind.
You see people of God and people in need of God.
You see people changing their lives over time for good and others for ill.
In every case, you see choices being made to consume their lives day by day, molding their lives by the choices they make.
You are what you eat, garbage in – garbage out, practice makes perfect, good leaven and bad.
In an article in a British Weekly, The Glass Window, a contributor recalled that several years ago, a reader of the paper wrote this provocative letter to the editor:
“Dear Sir, it seems clergy feel their sermons are very important and spend a great deal of time preparing them. I have been attending a church quite regularly for the past 30 years, and I have probably heard 3,000 of them. To my consternation, I discovered that I cannot remember a single sermon. I wonder if a priest’s time might be more profitably spent on something else?
Sincerely . . . . “
For weeks a real storm of editorial responses ensued. The uproar finally was ended by this letter:
“Dear Sir, I have been married for 30 years. During that time, I have eaten 32,850 meals— mostly of my wife’s cooking. Suddenly, I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I received nourishment from every single one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them I would have starved to death long ago. Sincerely, . . .
The Tea: I see we are slowly making tea back here…
I suggest that, to form our lives in a Christian sense, we simply need to do what most sermons and church publications and the Bible itself teaches us to do:
Consistently, over time, read God’s word, pray often to the Lord, help those who need help, fellowship with other Christians, and be the Family of Christ on earth. And to practice this daily is to bring good leaven –
to meditate, and to dwell, on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy all to the glory of God in Jesus.
Thanks be to God – Amen
 World History, Ancient Jewish Education of Children and Use of Scripture, May 30, 2017,
https://worldhistory.us/ancient-history/ancient-jewish-education-of-children-and-use-of-scripture.php Accessed 1/15/21. By "US Government Photo" – http://www.marines.mil/unit/mcascherrypoint/PublishingImages/crowd%20photo%20march%20on%20washington.jpg is the URL of the photo itself. http://www.marines.mil/Pages/PhotoDetails.aspx?ItemUrl=http://www.marines.mil/unit/mcascherrypoint/PublishingImages/crowd%20photo%20march%20on%20washington.jpgis the description page., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15027133 Accessed 1/16/21. Michael B Hobbs, A Servant’s Song, 2008, Lulu Publishing, Morrisville NC, 143
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 He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought
He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’re I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o’er troubled sea,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. Refrain
Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since ’tis my God that leadeth me. Refrain
And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory’s won,
e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me. Refrain
Joseph Gilmore’s hymn in its original form had a refrain of two lines only. In its popular form this has been expanded into four lines (the addition being by an unknown hand), as in P. Phillips’s Singing Pilgrim, 1866. The hymn is very popular in America. [Rev. L. F. Benson, D.D.]
PRESENTING OUR TITHES & OFFERINGS
(We invite you to make your offering online. Thank you to everyone for your generous support!)
*PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING & DEDICATION
Thank you, God for all of the blessings of life and joy and love. Thank you for the riches we enjoy as your people and for allowing us to receive the bread of life you offer us. We return now a portion of your bounty back to the work of your hands, through this church. Abundantly bless the little that we offer, ensuring that what it accomplishes, is multiplied 30, 60, or 100-fold over what would be sewn by our hands alone. We humbly ask these things in the name of your Son, Jesus.
SHARING OUR JOYS & CONCERNS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER SENDING WE HEAR THE CHARGE, RECEIVE THE BENEDICTION, AND ARE SENT TO CARRY GOD’S WORD INTO THE WORLD.*CHARGE & BENEDICTION
*POSTLUDE La Tromba Francois Couperin
* Please rise in body or in spirit.