KinmundyChurch.org: Welcome to our church blog!

“CORONA BLIZZARD POLICY” – all Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Church activities, including worship, will not meet until children return to school. Our church has a policy that if the schools close because it is unsafe for children to be out, church activities will be canceled that day because it is likewise unsafe for the elderly to be out. On Sunday, 3-15-2020, our Church Council met and decided that we should apply this same policy during the current Coronavirus concern to church activities. On 3-20-2020, following the requests by the President, our Governor and our Bishop, we added public worship. We will still “Worship at Home” with links to new, recorded sermons by our pastor each week – see these in the column to the right under Attend “Worship at Home”. Committees are authorized to make necessary decisions digitally, meeting via email, online and by conference call.

On May 24 we began to hold worship on our parking lot.

According to the most recent statement from our Governor, it looks like our first service back together could be June 28, Lord willing.

We will, of course, follow the instructions of our Bishop and governing authorities.

Links to “Worship at Home with Pastor Dave Kueker” will appear in the list at right by 1 am Sunday morning. You are welcome to participate at any time you wish and as often as you like. Prayer needs will be listed on a Facebook post on the church Facebook page, on the Pastor’s personal Facebook page. These, plus a transcript of the sermon will be emailed or sent by US Mail to anyone who requests it from the church office.

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KinmundyChurch.org: The Blog of the Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Churches, 308 E. 3rd St, Kinmundy, IL, 62854

AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS cease, we will return to our normal schedule:
Worship at Kinmundy: 9 am Sunday. At Wesley: 10:45 Sunday.
Wednesday@Wesley Bible Study for both churches: 7 pm Wednesdays.

Visit us on Facebook here!

Listen to or download sermons and slides by clicking here.

Vision Statement: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
Mission Statement: “Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional.” (¶126, Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church)

The world has 2 needs and 2 kinds of people: People who need to become disciples
and disciples who need to become disciple-makers.
(T4T)

Kinmundy United Methodist Churches
308 3rd Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship at 9 am.  Please join us!        

Wesley United Methodist Church
3381 Kinoka Rd, Patoka, IL  62875
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship at 10:45 am.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY:
PLEASE CHECK THE CHURCH FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION!

Weekday policy: if South Central public schools are closed because of bad weather,
church activities that day are postponed.
Be Safe!

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Sermon 07/05/20: The Looking Glass (Pentecost V)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 07/05/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN Larnelle Harris – America the Beautiful [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHnHEY8pHU0

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Mike Allen, Allison Durham Speer, Kim Hopper, Dean Hopper – My Country ‘Tis of Thee [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTnOWvx-4q4

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE:
Title: The Looking Glass
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:11-16
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Sermon audio for Wesley UMC
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SERMON NOTES

2 Chronicles 7:11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

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HYMN Terry Blackwood, Sue Dodge, Ernie Haase, The Talley Trio – This Land Is Your Land [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzpH3ZrLSEM

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

Image: Solomons Temple-City of David.JPG From Wikimedia Commons. Silhouettes from Pixabay

TRANSCRIPT

Mirror, mirror, on the wall who’s the fairest of them all? You may have seen that movie. Nowadays the looking glass is telling us something different. Because we’re asking it something different.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s to blame for it all? Whose fault is all this mess? Who’s to blame for everything I don’t like about life in my world?

And you know something – if you ask your mirror that, your mirror will give you an answer – I shouldn’t actually say mirror. I should say looking glass. Because unless you are under the influence of illegal drugs, your mirror probably doesn’t talk to you. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a looking glass that talks to you.

Think about it. Where do you think you spend all day looking? Here’s your looking glass. It sits up there on the wall and tells you everything that you ought to feel miserable about. And then it tries to make you feel better. You know how it tries to make you feel better? It tries to make you feel better by telling you who to blame for whatever’s wrong. Good luck with that. Because if you listen to this looking glass, you’re going to find yourself living in a soap opera.

Now the one thing I can tell you without any dispute is I’ve rarely ever met anyone who was happy in a soap opera. But I guarantee you in a soap opera, if they’re unhappy, they can tell you who did it. And who’s at fault.

And the ironic thing is this. You never hear anyone in a soap opera take responsibility for what they’ve done. It’s always someone else’s fault. That’s human nature. And just like with Hitler and the Jewish people, and you and whatever it is that you’re upset about, you know exactly who messed everything up. Because your looking glass told you. Now some of us have that computer screen looking glass instead of a television screen. But we spend way too much looking in the looking glass. And certainly– and by the way when I say way too much time I’m talking about for the average family, probably more than five hours a day. That is our main influence on how we feel.

If you turn that screen off, it’s human nature for us to start finding someone to blame closer to home. You have a different glass to look through. You look through the window and by God, there’s that neighbor that’s the cause of it all. Look at their crabgrass. Look at their mole trails. Look at their teenage son and his loud music. And nobody’s washed that car in a month! Or I don’t know what it might be. But you know when you’re really upset and stirred up inside, you have to put those emotions somewhere. And it’s really easy to find someone to put it on when you look out your window.

I’m sorry to tell you, sometimes people put the blame on someone in their own family. That’s even more painful for us. Because as long as we’re looking for someone to blame, our feelings get stronger and stronger in a bad way.

If you want to notice what’s wrong, here’s where you look. You look at yourself. You ask yourself, “Is it my fault?” I am so thankful to have a loving wife who points out things like my belt buckle not being properly centered. During my single days, I once went to church with my tie coming out from under the collar and going over the button right here. And a whole churchful of people just stared at me for the whole service, and nobody told me until afterward that I looked like a goofball!

But the reason I looked like a goofball was that I didn’t look at myself. If you want to know who needs to change, the clearest picture of that person you will find is in your mirror. And the quickest way to have a better attitude and a happier life is to fix that person. Because you know something? They listen to you, and they’re willing to do what you tell yourself to do. Start with the person in the mirror.

God gave us a recipe to heal our country. And all around the United States today, there’s going to be sermons printed and preached on this scripture. This is 2 Chronicles 7:11. It comes from the days when they dedicated the first temple that Solomon built. Thus, Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house, he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.”

I’ve been talking about how the church is emerging from sheltering in place. Here’s a church that is emerging– and here’s what God said to the people of Israel. It’s good advice for us today as well. Now here’s the first peculiarity. It’s not, “If …” but “When bad things happen–“

I think it’s quite amazing that, given the human tendency to look for who to blame – God, right off the bat, looks at people and says, “You can blame me.” Because it says, “When I,” as if God did it. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, when I command the locust to devour the land, when I“– this sits a little too close to home during the Pandemic — “send pestilence or disease among my people,” here’s how you fix it. There’s a threefold if and a threefold then. “If my people…”

Unfortunately, when this sermon is preached all across the United States today, most people are going to be told the reason that bad things are happening in our nation is because those bad people need to change their bad ways. And of course, whatever looking glass– because preachers provide a looking glass, too — Whatever one you’re looking into, they have their own list of who needs to change, who is evil in this world.

But God’s promise here is he doesn’t ask the evil people to change, he asks God’s people to change. Do you know why? Even God would grow impatient waiting for evil people to want to change but there’s some hope that you or I would be willing to change if we loved God. So this truth is focused not on the sinners out there but the sinners in here, inside the church.

God says, “If my people who are called my by name”– here’s the first if. “If they humble themselves and if they pray and seek my faith and if they,” God’s people, “turn from their wicked ways.” When that happens, here’s what God promises. “Then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land.”

That’s the promise that comes to us that we can fulfill if we look in the mirror and work on the person that God wants us to work on. “If my people.”

Now, God says, “My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place, Solomon’s temple, and all the churches that have come after. For now, I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”

So brothers and sisters based on this promise from the Old Testament, we have our work set before us. “If my people,” God says. Here’s a word from John Wesley: Beware that you are not a fiery persecuting enthusiast. Do not imagine that God has called you. I have to lift this up to read. That God has called you just contrary to the spirit of him you style to be your master. Do not imagine that God has called you to destroy men’s lives rather than to save them. Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself and let think. Let other people think. Use no constraint on matters of religion, even those who are farthest out of the way. Never compel them to come in by any other means than reason, proof and love.

I was watching a Youtube video last week that was talking about research and how to change people. And the scientist said the most certain way to fail at changing people is to try to push them to change. The most certain way to try to change people and fail is to scare them, to threaten them, to warn them of harm that is going to come upon them if they don’t change. Because you know what happens? Their minds begin to look for something more pleasant. And they figure out some kind of shortcut that makes them happy and from that moment on they ignore everything you have to say.

[That video: How to motivate yourself to change your behavior | Tali Sharot | TEDxCambridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp0O2vi8DX4&t=620s ]

I wish I could intimidate people into doing the right thing. But what psychology says and John Wesley warns, if you try to compel people to do the right thing you will always fail. But ironically God offers a cure for our land that does not require that. It requires three things:

If my people who are called by name humble themselves. I have to watch myself because every now and then, even though it might seem otherwise, I get a little testy. I get a little irritable. My wife knows all about this, right dear? She’s nodding her head. Sometimes I get angry but what I’ve learned– and it’s because of this little saying here which I saw on the looking glass of Facebook one day and saved it because I thought it told a great truth. I sat with my anger long enough until my anger told me her real name was grief. And when I realized that what I’m truly feeling when I get angry is sorrow.

And I want to suggest to you, if you find yourself feeling angry, allow yourself to look underneath that anger and see if what’s not really happening is that somewhere deep down inside you’re very, very sad.

Because I find that when I’m angry there is no way that I can humble myself. There is nothing humble in my anger, but when I’m sad about the choices people make and the harm that can come from them, whether it’s my own decisions or the decisions of others, it’s a lot easier for me to fall to my knees and humble myself. So look for what you’re sad about, and it will teach you to be humble.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face.” Again, consider, when you’re angry, when I’m angry, are we angry at God? We’re angry at all kinds of other people. If we humble ourselves and are sad, we can turn to God with open hearts as we pray and seek God’s face.

And finally, finally, God asked us to turn from our wicked ways because that’s the beginning of everyone around us turning from theirs. It always starts with Christian people being more like Jesus Christ. To turn away from anger and to turn toward humbling themselves.

You may not believe this, but when I was a younger man, I loved to argue with anyone who would provide me the entertainment of disagreeing with me. And my arguing would go on for days. Now, my dad loved to argue too, but I even wore him out. But there came a day I was walking down the stacks in the seminary library – I did this all the time – and a little book caught my eye, and I pulled it off the shelf, and it was a book of little poems. Not limericks, but poems just about that same length. They were by a Dutch mathematician by the name of Piet Hein. He called these little poems, Grooks. And at random, which lets you know it wasn’t random at all, it was the hand of God. I opened it to one page and read this little poem which changed my life.

“In view of your manner of spending your days,
I hope you may learn before ending them
That the effort you spend on defending your ways
Could better be spent on amending them.”

If I look in the mirror and see where I have gone wrong, if I turn away from everybody else including the shouting that comes through the media of who to blame, and simply look at myself and let God show me where I could change, my whole life could change in a moment, and the whole world around me could change over time.

Please pray with me.
Lord Jesus, help us as we see the great need that is in our land on these difficult days, these days where the looking glass of the television set gives us one kind of bad news after another. These days when the looking glass that is the computer screen shows people going to war over what ultimately are foolish things. Help us, Lord, to look in the mirror, and beginning with us, bring us up out of the grave. Bring us out into the light. From the Winter, help Spring to begin. And as we humble ourselves, Lord, we pray that you’ll change our lives and change our world, and we ask this in the name of Jesus.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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Sermon 06/28/20: Father John’s Three General Rules (Pentecost IV)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 06/28/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Larry Ford – What a Friend We Have in Jesus [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coO5Sl8Vnlw

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Sow Mercy – Gaither vocal band (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTtf5MzTOI

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE:

Father John’s Three General Rules
Do no harm
Do all the good you can
Take good care of your faith and grow

Text: Galatians 6:7-10, 2 Corinthians 9:6, John 15:1-10
David O. Kueker
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
(Sermon audio will be uploaded ASAP after the 9 am service concludes.)
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

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HYMN Larry Ford – What a Friend We Have in Jesus [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm3mKa2buhg

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

We didn’t really get a chance to celebrate Father’s day. Last week on Father’s day we were getting ready to come back inside, so I thought I’d talk just a little bit about fathers, or at least one aspect of fathers this morning. And as fathers seem to be the ones, in my opinion, typically, that bring the rules to various situations.

My father was an extremely patient man. I still remember the day that, having watch too many cartoons, I thought it would be funny to put a thumbtack on his breakfast chair. As he came in with his tie on, and his dress shirt on, and was ready to go to work as a high school teacher in Belleville, and when he sat on the tack it was very funny, but it wasn’t at all funny. He jumped up about two feet, spilled Cheerios all over the front of his shirt, and he looked at me, and he went, “Grr.” And then he said, “Your mother will have to iron another shirt now.”

My father set an example for me that day of a great deal of patience, but I think his main rule was, “Think.” But … Sometimes we don’t have time to think. And that’s when it’s good to have rules. And it’s especially good if the rules are clear, and easily understood.

And John Wesley, who is the father of the Methodist movement, also had rules. By the way, today is John Wesley’s birthday. How’s that for a coincidence? John Wesley’s rules, he had three. Three basic rules, and each rule came with a very long list of specific things that were against the rules. But they all were grouped under a category of three.

And the first rule was, “Do no harm.” Now you know what the commandment is, we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves, and at the very least that has to mean that we will do no harm. What harm is will change from century to century; it’s changed since John Wesley made his list, but to do no harm to ourselves or to our neighbor is an essential rule of the Christian faith.

There are times that we need rules just to tell us to, as the sign says, “Whoa, you need to come to a complete stop.”

Another rule, there’s a picture there of a smoke detector, if one of those babies goes off, you need to go find out why. One went off one day in the middle of the afternoon and the husband went up to his wife and said, “Let’s eat.” And she said, “Honey, it’s the middle of the afternoon, what are you talking about?” And he said, “Well, my mom said whenever that thing went off it was time to eat, because supper was done.” (That’s a joke.) His wife explained to him that that wasn’t true in their house, and he learned a good lesson from that. But it’s good to have rules that tell us when to stop because the stopping is for our safety and for the safety of people around us. It might not hurt you to run that stop sign or that “whoa” sign, but it might hurt somebody else. Sometimes, we have to stop.

The other side of the same rule was to do all the good you can. There is a Methodist version that goes on to say, “Do all the good you can, wherever you can, in every place you can, to every person you can, as long as you can.” But that is a Methodist principle.

I want to imply that this is sort of a mother thing because my mom always came to me in my youth with good things. And it was quite clear that whenever my mother was coming toward me was good – because it smelled good, and it looked good, and it tasted good, and it was quite obvious that I wanted that. Do all the good you can is to yield to something inside your heart that wants to do good. You will be tempted to do good. That is the temptation you can yield to. So that’s a good rule. Do all the good you can. For each one of us, the specific ways we do good will be different, but do all the good you can.

And then here comes the one that’s frequently misunderstood. These rules have been updated. John Wesley’s version said to attend upon all the ordinances of God. What in the world does that mean?

People who want to simplify that rule have actually said that what it means is that you need to fall or stay in love with God. Now, I am a wise old man, but I do remember when I was a stupid young man and as a stupid young man, I frequently fell in love and I expressed my love in not very wise ways. So I kind of think what John Wesley had in mind was a little more than just to have the feeling of love toward God. Because I’m not so sure that everything else that we should do toward God comes from that because the commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Well, what it actually means to attend upon all the ordinances of God is to show up at every opportunity to benefit spiritually. If you come to worship, you’re going to benefit spiritually. To attend upon all the ordinances of God means to show up for worship. Holy Communion … show up for communion. Bible Study or class meeting … show up for Bible study and class meeting. Or as I put it in my own words, take good care of your faith and do everything that will help you to grow up.

Because our faith is something that lives within us. God sowed seeds in our hearts and they sprout and they grow, a lot of times underground, and you can’t see them growing. But we need to tend the ways that God is living in our hearts. Sometimes that means you have to take out your hoe and do no harm by taking out the weeds. Sometimes that means you have to take out the hose – you move from the “hoe” to the “hose” – and provide the good that growing things need to live and grow. But it’s God’s intent that we do everything that we can to become more spiritually fruitful.

Well, Pastor Day, where is this in the bible? Well, here it is.

Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap internal life.” (Or you could say spiritual life.) “And let us not grow weary in well doing.” There’s that second rule of John Wesley! “For in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

You see, these rules are like seeds; results and consequences come from them. “So then.” Paul says, “As we have opportunity, let us sow good.” Or as he says here, “Let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul makes the point, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” So as we sow what is good, good comes back. As we take away the things that harm, more good comes. Those are good rules.

In John 15, which is my favorite chapter in the bible, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it may bear more fruit.” Then he says this, verse 3, “You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.” You’ve heard me refer to this, that as you read the bible it will clean you out of what does harm. It is the reading of the bible that does the actual pruning. It is the reading of the bible that cleans us up and sets us free.

Verse 4, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. Abide in me, and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine. Neither can you unless you abide in me.” What this means is that what’s growing within us is actually Jesus growing within us because, as it says there, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in me is connected to me, and I in him. He it is that bears much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers. And the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned “

“If you abide in Me,” Jesus says, “And my words abide in you,” (an essential part of this), “Ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this My father is glorified, that you bear much fruit. And so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” And out of that abiding will flow the answers to our prayers. Out of that abiding will flow goodness into our lives.

These are good rules that come to us from father John. It’s important that as you and I think through the decisions that we make that we do no harm. We’re certainly aware that there are great controversies and arguments raging all over the place. But you and I have to be aware and attentive and sort of find our way through those arguments to where hopefully we can find a place to stand where we do no harm.

As people try to stir things up, I’m finding that “doing no harm” is more and more difficult to do. But do no harm is a rule that we need in our time.

Well, Pastor Dave, how do we know what does harm? How do we know what does good? You tell us not to do harm, you tell us to do all the good, we can, but how do we know what to do?

I suggested to you several weeks ago, that you not let what you hear on the news determine the truth, but that you allow God’s Word to explain to you what is true. You might need to do some intellectual exercises to build a bridge between what Paul said almost 2,000 years ago, and what somebody on Facebook said yesterday. It might take you a while to connect the two together, but it’s worth doing. Because God’s word, as Jesus promised, prunes or cleans our life of things that do us harm and hold us back. Look into God’s word and let it guide you.

Finally, let the Holy Spirit guide you. I honestly think the Holy Spirit’s a little bit like that smoke detector. The Holy Spirit will sort of set off this little alarm, “Something’s not quite right.”

The phrase that I often use, if you remember it from Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi says “I sense a great disturbance in the Force.” There’s something that’s not right. The Holy Spirit’s kind of like God’s smoke alarm, there’s something going on. It’s just not right.

In counseling, counselors have a proverb. What they say is that if it feels icky, it probably is. And we need to be sensitive to how it feels within our spirit because sometimes that’s how the Holy Spirit talks to us. We just have this very deep sense that there’s something that’s not right. Or sometimes we have a corresponding sense of there’s something that’s really good here. We sense the Holy Spirit underlining what we’re feeling and trying to warn us in our hearts, to be aware.

Take good care of your faith, so that the Holy Spirit can communicate with you and show you the choices that lead to growth that lead to being fruitful. And in all things remember that you have a friend in Jesus, to whom you can turn when you’re not sure what to do, to whom you can turn when the rules don’t seem to apply. If you have a need, remember that you have someone who is your friend that you can turn to. And whatever that need might be, ask for it from the Saviour who loves you.

Please pray with me: Lord Jesus in this time of conflict over how we should live and what does harm and what does good, help us to keep growing spiritually. Help us to deepen our faith. Our faith needs rainy days and sunny days. In the same way, Lord, there will be both kinds of days for us. But we pray that you would help us to perceive you working through whatever is happening to us. And Lord, wherever we do not understand, remind us to turn to Jesus for the answers. We ask this in Jesus’s name.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 06/21/20: You Need To … Repeat the Gospels (Pentecost III)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 6/21/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – When We All Get to Heaven ft. Terry Blackwood, Karen Peck (Live) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ClwsynwVrI&list=PLCw04UnPoo9hsRJmNXX54lkUbxar2nJue&index=75

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Gaither – Since Jesus Came Into My Heart (Live) [Official Video]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoCC1NjIHPE&list=PLCw04UnPoo9hsRJmNXX54lkUbxar2nJue&index=74

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

MESSAGE: You Need To … Repeat the Gospels
Text: John 20:19-23
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Kinmundy 9 am service Sermon audio.

HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Yes, I Know (Live/Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yms8x1k564&list=PLCw04UnPoo9hsRJmNXX54lkUbxar2nJue&index=5

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


TRANSCRIPT

Once upon a time, in a congregation that was not a United Methodist Church, a congregation that had to find and hire their own pastor, a church was very excited to hire a new, young pastor fresh out of school. He came to preach a trial sermon and his trial sermon was so powerful, so emotionally moving, so insistent that the people practiced their faith, that they lived the life that Jesus Christ asked us to live. They hired the new preacher on the spot. The vote was 100% in favor.

A month later, the new preacher moved into the parsonage. And the first Sunday came, and the new preacher stood up and preached exactly the same sermon with exactly the same enthusiasm and power. And the elders of the church thought for a minute and they wondered, “Perhaps he thinks there are people here who did not hear it. That’s why he’s preaching this sermon. Certainly, it’s an excellent sermon.”

And a week went by and he stood up and preached the exact same sermon again. And this time, there was a lot of muttering in the congregation. And seven days later, it was the same sermon again.

Finally, there was a meeting of the elders. And they called the young pastor and they said, “We want you to know there’s been a lot of criticism of your sermon past three weeks. It’s the exact same sermon that you preached when you were a candidate for this job. We simply have to ask you. Do you know more than one sermon?”

The preacher looked him in the eye and calmly said, “Why should I preach a new sermon when you haven’t even started on practicing what I told you to do in this first sermon?”

You see, we all need to really think for a moment about what it is that we do at a church.

Once upon a time, over 100 years ago, back in the days of the Great Depression, the grocery store owners in small towns would let people buy food on credit. Think about that for just a minute. It’s the winter. Your family’s hungry. What’s the owner of the grocery store going to do?

So there was a small town and it just so happened that the owner of the grocery store in this small town was an atheist. And the new pastor came to town.

And the new pastor came into the grocery store to buy his groceries. And as the grocer rang up his purchases, he said, “I’m the new preacher at the Methodist Church. I’d like to invite you to come to worship.” The Methodist people standing around shivered in horror because of course, that led to a 20-minute shouting match between the atheist grocer and the new preacher.

But the next week, the grocer came to ring up the groceries of the pastor and as they were finishing, the pastor said, “I’m the new pastor at the Methodist church and I’d like to invite you to worship,” and, again, there was a shouting match because this man was a very angry atheist.

But every week, pastor would do the same thing and atheist grocer would do the same thing, but there finally came a day, about three months later, when the Methodist pastor invited the atheist grocer to come to church. The man said that he thought he would. Methodist people in the store were shocked. And the pastor said, “Well, I’m really glad to hear that. That’s wonderful,” and the atheist said, “Well, it’s my understanding that you’re a really good preacher,” and the pastor said, “Well, you’ve never been to worship. I wonder what leads you to that opinion?” And the atheist grocer leaned across and whispered quietly into the ear of the preacher, “It’s because your church members are paying what they owe me. They’re paying their bills.”

There’s a lot of times we think a sermon is supposed to be motivational. I’m almost ashamed to say that some people think it should be entertaining. Some people think that a sermon is meant to be educational, “You should learn something about God. you should learn something about the bible by the time it’s over.” But the fact of the matter is, the point of the sermon is that what you do is supposed to change because of what Jesus said and did, but until what we do changes, the sermon has not had a full effect for which it’s intended. You see, it’s what we do that’s important.

I’d like to remind you what it means to be a professional musician. I have a picture here of Yo-Yo Ma. 60 years old. Pretty well understood to be the best Cielo player in the world. You would think if you got to a certain level of expertise, all you would need to do is show up to performances, but Yo-Yo Ma and practically all professional musicians are very quick to tell you, that’s not the case at all.

The reason Yo-Yo Ma is so good when it comes time to perform is because he practices an average of about five or six hours a day. And I’m not exactly certain what is a part of that practice but I know a large part of it, if it’s five or six times a day, probably a full hour, maybe two hours, is merely the practicing of scales. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do. Over and over and over again. In fact, I read an article once that said that he liked to do his scales while he was watching baseball. Since exciting things didn’t happen that often, he was able to pay attention to doing his scales!

But it’s what he did in private to learn how to practice his instrument that made all the difference when the important moments of performance came. In the same way, friends, we need to learn how to practice what we preach, or, to say it differently, we all need to learn how to practice what we are preached to about. Because if we don’t put it into practice, those skills tend to get rusty. They tend to drift away, and we lose all the progress that we’ve made. One specific thing that Yo-Yo-Ma has said is that what all string players have in common is that if we don’t play for a while, we actually start from ground zero. 40 years of professional experience, 50 years of professional experience, if you don’t practice, it’ll all disappear in a very short period of time.

The faith that we have is a faith that is strengthened when we do what Jesus has asked us to do. So what is the purpose of the church as we emerge from this period of waiting in place, of sheltering in place, of being hidden away?

Well, there’s no different purpose for when we emerge in 2020 than when the church emerged on that first Pentecost almost 2000 years ago. Jesus still tells us what to do just as he told them.

John, chapter 20, verse 19: On the evening of that day, that first Easter, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Then, Jesus gave them three tasks. And those three tasks come down to us thousands of years later just as they were handed to his first followers. Verse 21, Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.”

Let that sink in for just a minute. “Everything that happened to me is going to happen to you. Everything I told you to do, now’s the time for you to go out and do it. Everything you experienced when you were with me, now go do it again. Been there, done that. Now, go do it again.”

Verse 22, and when he said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Just like in those days, we need to open ourselves up to receive the Holy Spirit, and as Luke says, from that will come an understanding of the Scripture.

Finally, verse 23, Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” We are in the business of the forgiveness of sin. This is what we’re to do.

And as we emerge from our sheltering in place in this century in this year 2020 to begin a new era in the life of the church, because certainly, just as the coronavirus pandemic has changed American history, it’s going to change church history. There’s going to be a new sort of church that will be needed. But as we move into the future, it’s the lessons of Jesus that will guide us into this new version of the church. Keep those same words in mind again, John 20:21, where Jesus said to them again, “As the father has sent me, even so, I send you.”

In other words, this is a reboot. If you have a computer, you know what that is. You’re having some kind of trouble. Your computer’s not working right. Things aren’t happening the way they should. Do you know what you do? You turn the computer off. Then you start it up again. You restart it. And as it restarts, it loads the operating system. It organizes itself to do its work. It does each thing in a particular and specific order. And all of a sudden, the problem you had before is gone. Every now and then, the church has to reboot. Every now and then, the church has to start over.

And if you look at church history, the first restart was in those days between Easter and Pentecost because the book of Acts is very different. But then as history moved along, there were other times to reboot and restart. St. Francis, Martin Luther, John Wesley, General Booth, and the founding of the Salvation Army … the church has always been rebooting and restarting. And when it does, it reloads the original commands so that it can follow what it followed at the very beginning.

We’ve talked about this couple weeks ago. What do you and I need to know? Well, here’s the reality. It is the word of God that will give us the truth. And out of that truth, we will understand how to operate in this world today. The word of God is our operating system. And when the church reboots, the word of God loads in, and people begin to do what the scripture commands. And all of a sudden, it’s a brand new day. And it’s a brand new church.

Jesus specifically commanded that this happen with the last verse in the book of Matthew, which is a part of the Great Commission. He commands his disciples, “Everyone who becomes a Christian– you need to teach them to observe. All that I’ve commanded you–”

Now notice what that is. It’s not, “Teach them so that they can hear everything I’ve commanded.” It’s not, “Teach them so that they can be aware of everything I commanded.” It’s not even, “Teach them so that they can discuss everything I commanded.” But it’s “Teach them to observe, to do, to practice, to actually do all that Jesus commanded us,” because what happens in the reboot of the church is we reboot and do everything that Jesus commanded the disciples to do.

Last week I talked about Autofocus, that time management system where you write down everything you need to do, and you run your eyes down the list until you find the thing that you’re supposed to do. And you feel the sense in your spirit and your heart in that moment. There’s an emotional excitement. “That’s what I’m supposed to do now.”

When the commands of Jesus are reloaded, when we face a situation, what we need to do is open ourselves up to the Spirit and run our finger down that list of commands until we find the one that fits the situation that we face right now.

“What did Jesus say about this?”

Now, sometimes, we have to figure it out because it’s not exactly something Jesus said, but we have to think, “What did Jesus say about this?” And, of course, the Holy Spirit helps us to understand because the new church runs under the fuel of the power of the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:6– “Then, he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel,’ and here’s the word of the Lord to you and I. Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Not by military power, economic power, not by the power of how loud you can shout, but God says that it’s by my Spirit that God’s work will be done.

The Church 2.0, the restart of the church on the day of Pentecost, and the restart of the church now as we come out of the sheltering in place to be at the church that’s needed this time, this year, and this day, the command to us is to understand that it’s the power of Holy Spirit that does the heavy lifting– the work.

There’s a saying– W. Edward Deming said it, but it actually comes from Arthur Jones. “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.” I would like to tell you in my younger days I was somewhat arrogant, and I had a belief that, in our days with computers and the internet and flying jet airplanes and all of the other technology that we have, there was a time when I thought seriously I thought that we knew something about how to do church that was smarter and wiser and more successful than the words of Jesus.

I can tell you, sadly, as I get older, I’ve become very well aware that there’s nothing that we think we know today that is wiser or more effective in church life than the words of Jesus. All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results that they get. Let’s take just a minute and consider that the design of the church of Jesus– he started by calling 12 to follow him and spent three years getting them ready until, in the upper room, waiting for the day of Pentecost, there were 120 people that he had personally trained– personally trained by sharing with them all of those commands that we just talked about from Matthew 28, and those 120 people were present on the day when the Holy Spirit fell and the church began.

And all of a sudden, the design of the church created by Jesus went from 120 to 3,000 converts in a single day. That’s a good design. Not only that, as they practiced what Jesus preached, those disciples went from 3,000 to probably something like a church of 15,000. Mom, Dad, children– that’s an effective design. And on down in the two centuries since then, the estimated population, Christian population, in the world today is 2.3 billion. That’s 31.2%– just a little bit less than a third of all human beings on this Earth are Christian. The design that Jesus created for a church is a better design than any human intelligence can develop.

But it still has the same weakness it’s always had. If you’re aware of it, that means very little. If you understand it, that means very little. But if you practice it, what Jesus taught the church to be can be very powerful.

So I want to direct your attention to the three things that Jesus used to get the disciples ready to be the church on the day of Pentecost. He reminded them they needed to wait for the Spirit to act, and we need to wait in the same way– not wait a second longer but to act in the power of the Spirit.

Jesus had them talk those 50 days in the upper room– to pray and to talk about everything that he had said and done, and in the same way, we need to talk and become familiar with everything that Jesus said and did– not to be aware of it, but because honestly, we need to do everything Jesus said and did.

And then, finally, if you’ll remember doubting Thomas– he had to ask for what he needed to believe, and when Jesus gave him exactly what he asked, it says that he fell to his knees and said, “My Lord and my God.” And so I want to ask you today– what do you need to believe in that way? What do you need that would allow you to shift from being a person who is aware of the gospel, who is aware of the teachings of Jesus– what is it that you need to pray for that would allow you to shift to actually be a person who does what Jesus asks? To believe so powerfully that you would actually live your faith– to believe so powerfully that you would actually live to do what Jesus asked us to do?

Please pray with me. Lord, Jesus, we know that the Holy Spirit wants to act today. We know that your word is still true today, but we also know that we fall far short of what we could be when it comes to being faithful disciples who not only know but who also do what you’ve told us to do. Help us, Lord, to become the disciples who obey you. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 06/14/20: You Need … To Wait for the Spirit (Pentecost II)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 06/14/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Josh Turner – Great Is Your Faithfulness (Live From Gaither Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31ymVm-6YIw


A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Sweet, Sweet Spirit (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QZZtmhu3kc

MESSAGE: You Need … To Wait for the Spirit
Text: Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 24:45, 49, Acts 1:4-8
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqXc2XvtfCM

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Easter is when God begins to change our world, and we begin to leave, lead, and live a new life. Matthew chapter 7 verse 7 reminds us of what’s important. It’s a beautiful promise. Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be open to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

As we’re beginning this new time of living after Easter, I think that applies perfectly to this time when we’re trying to figure out what the church is going to be like, because certainly after us sheltering in place, the church is coming back to life, coming back to public visibility in the same way that Easter brought Jesus back, but then he took 50 days to get the church ready to be the church visible in the eyes of other people. I think God can teach us something from how Jesus got the church ready so that we can get ready. We can get ready now for how to be the church after the season of sheltering in place.

The first thing, if you’ll remember back, Thomas needed something in order to believe, and I think the lesson from that is that if you need something in order to believe you need to ask for it because what he found out is that when he asked, Jesus Christ was right there to give him what he needed. Whatever you need, ask for it and let Jesus respond to your asking.

Last week we talked about how the truth gets very elusive and confusing in our world today, and I reminded you that no matter what the news says, if you want to know what the truth is about the way God made our world to be, you can find the truth in the words of the bible. Jesus said, “Seek, and you shall find.” Well, if you’re looking for the truth, if you’re looking for instructions, if you’re looking for help to know what to do or how to live, look in the bible. And if you seek it there, I know you will find what you need to hear.

In the scripture, the very first thing the disciples did when they were face to face with Jesus at the day of this ascension, they asked him if it was time for God to restore the kingdom to Israel. In other words, to get rid of those lousy Roman politicians. Friends, if you don’t like politicians, you should know that nothing is different today than it was 2,000 years ago. But they looked at Jesus, and they said, “When, when oh Lord, will we be set free?” And the answer that Jesus had for that is, “It’s not for you to know the time for that question.”

And it’s probably because Jesus had another question to answer. I would put this question that they’re asking as, “When will God be ready?” And Jesus says, “God will be ready soon, but you have to wait.” The specific verse says, “Wait for the promise of the father. Wait until God’s time. Wait for God to act.” And you know, ask, and seek. Remember what the next one is? Knock. Interesting thing. you knocked on the door. It may take a while for somebody to come, but if you keep knocking, within several days, someone will come to the door. Sometimes we need to wait for God’s timing, and if we keep knocking, the door will open.

Acts chapter 1 verse 4. Jesus says this. While staying with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the father, which he said, “You heard from me for John baptized with water, but before many days, you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So when they had ask him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel, get rid of those Roman politicians?” Jesus says, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the father has fixed by his own authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The second thing that he did, and we talked about this briefly last night, all those with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, asking Jesus for what they needed I believe they also took time to talk about the stories of Jesus. Where as now we would simply be able to open the bible to read them, but they did these things all with one accord, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Verse 15 says, “There were 120 in the upper room.”

On Easter Sunday, Jesus helped this to happen. As it says in Luke 24:45 that, “He opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” Verse 49, “And behold I send the promise of the father upon you, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” And as Jesus rose up in to heaven, verse 52, “They return to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”

Friends, waiting is hard. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the famous marshmallow test. You put a little kid in a room, and in front of the little kid, you put one marshmallow, and you say, “If you can wait for just a few minutes, and not eat your marshmallow, when I come back, I’ll give you two marshmallows.” And they have a video camera rolling, and they just have these astonishing pictures of the frustration of children as they try not to eat that marshmallow. It is hard to wait. It is hard to delay gratification although as they’ve repeated this test over the last 40 years, children are beginning to have more patience. When they track those same children down through the years, the children who are able to wait, they get better grades, they do better in college, they do better in life, they do better in their careers, their marriages last longer because they’ve learned to delay gratification and not demand that they get what they want right now.

Friends, it is not easy to wait. If you saw the Facebook page this morning, you saw there’s a picture of a dog with the dog biscuit right here on the dog’s nose. With regard to us getting back in the church, I feel a little bit like that dog. I want God to tell me it’s time and it’s okay. I want everything I want but good things come when we’re able to wait. Ecclesiastes chapter three, for everything, there’s a season. A time to wait, a time when everything is ready, a time for every matter under heaven. Waiting is worth it.

Imagine with me, a woman expecting a baby. Waiting is worth it. Babies take nine months. Some come a little early, some take a little longer, but you want the baby to come at the right time. There is a time to be born and waiting is worth it. There is a time for us to die. Most of us don’t want to be in a hurry to get to that day. It’s worth it to wait.

Those of you who plant a garden, you know the sprouts begin to come up but you need to wait until they’re fully grown. There’s an old story about a little boy who asked his grandpa, “Why can’t we dig them up now?” The answer is, because there’s not anything there yet. It takes time and we need to wait. Good things happen when we wait. Waiting is worth it.

The disciples had to wait for the resurrection. But that’s not the first time people waited. People waited thousands of years for Christmas to come. They waited two more years for the wise men to arrive. Noah and the animals on the boat waited for the rain to stop, for the water to go down. Waiting is worth it. Because as we talked about last week, God has a plan and it’s a plan for good and not evil. It’s a plan about peace, to give us a future and a hope but we have to wait. We have to wait for the spirit.

I now like to change the subject and go to one of my favorite things to talk about and that’s time management. I’d like to take a second to tell you about a time management system for people who are not very organized, maybe that’s somebody here. It’s called autofocus. Autofocus is the brainchild of a British retired military man by the name of Mark Forster and with autofocus, you get yourself a cheap spiral notebook and you take your pen out and you write down in the notebook everything you have to do, page after page after page. It doesn’t matter how long you write things out– you may have 100 things. You may have 200 things. If you’re really disorganized, you may have 300 things but if everything’s on the page, nothing can fall through the cracks.

But then here’s the genius of autofocus, you take your notebook once a day and you look down through it for the task that you are eager and excited to do because the theory is if there’s a job on that list and you don’t want to do it, it’s probably because you’re not ready. If you don’t want to do it, there’s probably a reason. Maybe you only know that reason in your subconscious mind but something just tells you it’s not time yet.

Well, go right past all the things where you should wait and look for the ones to where it seems like God is shaking you and saying, “That’s the one. You’ll enjoy that. You’re ready for that. This is the one you should do today.” And this is what we do in all honesty when we wait for the spirit because the Holy Spirit is there to guide us

And if you don’t take time to go down through your list and say, “Holy Spirit, which one is the job for today?” you know what will happen? You’ll do one thing after another after another that really, in the long run, isn’t going to work very well. You’ll do one thing after another that won’t amount to much … because it’s not time yet and it won’t be fun and it won’t be interesting.

But if you go down your list and say, “Which one of these is exciting and am I eager to do?” And according to the experts that review it, if we’re focusing on the things that are like that, we’ll be enormously more productive. That’s what waiting for the spirit is like. The spirit makes it come alive. The spirit makes us want to do that. Waiting is worth it and God has a plan and God is on time.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, as we get ready to come back to the sanctuary of our church, as we get ready to come back to something that’s more normal, as we get ready to be the church that is visible rather than the church that was sheltering in place as we were for so long, help us to be aware of the spirit’s guidance. Help us to not be so certain that we are right but help us to be willing to listen to you and if the timing is not just yet, Lord, help us to wait three more days until there’s a resurrection. Help us to wait 40 more days until the rain stops. Help us to wait 50 days until the day of Pentecost so that we are aligned with your timing to fulfill your will as a part of your plan, and we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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Sermon 06/07/20: You Need … The Word (Pentecost I)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 06/07/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Allison Durham Speer, Wesley Pritchard, Sue Dodge, Larry Ford – Wonderful Words of Life [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q499q89HOpM

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Tell Me the Stories of Jesus (Andrew Remillard)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRoWoUPDbis

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

MESSAGE: You Need … The Word
Text: Luke 24:13-47, Jeremiah 29:1-14
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Sermon Audio – Kinmundy UMC Drive In Church 06/07/20
Sermon Audio – Wesley UMC Drive In Church 06/07/20

HYMN Alan Jackson – I Love To Tell The Story (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrCpKa_xOcE

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

One of the handicaps of the bright sunlight is I can’t show you my pictures. And I’ve come to be aware of just how much I love my pictures. So for those of you with really good eyesight, there’s the picture. There’s a dog that is about eight feet tall, leaning over a Chihuahua, and the Chihuahua is just a little bit anxious.

Because from the viewpoint of that Chihuahua, as you’ve heard me say, it’s Friday. Sunday’s coming, but right now it’s Friday. And Friday means that life is hard to deal with, but Sunday’s coming. It’s a valuable thing for us to learn to be patient when troubles lean over us like an eight-foot-tall dog. It’s a little difficult for us to be patient when things happen to us that we do not understand because we feel like we are passing through the valley of the shadow of Death. And the shadows, for the moment, seem to be more powerful and scary than the shepherd that is guiding us forward. That happens on Fridays. Fridays are scary times. But if we have patience, Sunday will come.

And of course, the Sunday we’re referring to is Easter Sunday when the stone is rolled aside and all of a sudden, everything was made new. Because a resurrected Jesus that came out of the grave was the leader of a church that was going to be reborn. He’d gotten them started. But after the resurrection, they had the power of the Holy Spirit. They had the power of the resurrection. They were able to walk in newness of life. Nonetheless, that church would be hidden ’til the day of Pentecost. (Today is the day in 2020 when we celebrate Pentecost.) And then all of a sudden on the day of Pentecost, they would come out of hiding, but we’re taking a few days to look at what Jesus did during that 50-day period between Easter and Pentecost, to get them ready to be the church that Jesus wanted them to be. Sunday is here, but there’s still time to get ready.

How do we prepare to be a new and different church?

Let me change the subject just briefly and talk about Friday again. Last week, there was a regrettable death in Minneapolis, and the whole nation exploded into peaceful protest. And if that protest was all that happened, that would have been just fine because it’s a free country. People are able to say what they think and feel.

But unfortunately, as the sun went down, criminal elements and others came into those crowds and began to behave as criminals do. They broke the windows of stores. They ran inside to steal. They set buildings on fire. They set police cars on fire. And all kinds of violence swept across the nation. And that’s what happens on a Friday except in this case, it was actually a Thursday.

I have another picture in the slides of a young man standing on a burned-out car on a Thursday morning looking over his neighborhood and the mess that needs to be cleaned up. Because you know after the irresponsible people, after the criminal people behaved criminally, someone else has to come along and clean up the mess. That’s a Friday and a Friday is a day when we find ourselves saying literally, “I do not understand people. I do not understand why they do what they do. I do not understand why God allows such things to happen.” It’s one of the characteristics for Friday, we don’t understand and because we don’t understand the big dog gets bigger, the anxiety gets higher, and when you’re anxious you understand even less. This whole past week our nation has been going through a Friday and we’re still waiting for a Sunday because we do not understand.

We don’t take the newspaper at our house but I may need to change that because, to be honest with you, I’ve got to get my news over the internet. And the problem with getting the news over the internet is that there’s about a three out of four chance that the news you’re reading is just simply a pack of lies. There’s about a three out of four chance that the news that you’re reading is just simply not true. It’s not true about the violence that happened last week, it’s not true about the Coronavirus, and as politicians pile one attack on top of another on top of another, it’s not very true about politics either. We have become a nation of people who would rather listen to people tell lies that we like to hear than to put up with reading the truth that might not agree with us. Because we have so many different channels it’s not hard for us just simply to turn the dial to the person who’s telling us what we want to hear whether it’s true or not.

But if you want to know the truth, I can tell you where you will find the truth. If you go home today and open up your Bible to the words of Jesus, every word of Jesus you will find will be true. You’ll have to link it up with what’s going on now because Jesus did not deal with the Coronavirus … but he dealt with all kinds of illnesses like leprosy and he did heal people. And you will find in the pages of the Bible, the truth. Jesus didn’t say much about politicians but you can’t get more political than the leaders at the Temple and the Roman governor and it’s their actions of politics that put him on the cross.

But if you read the words of the Bible the truth will come to you because the words of the bible are true, particularly if you’re asking the question, “What should I do in response to all these feelings that I have, to all this trouble that is piling up around me?” If you want to know the truth of what you should do, the bible will tell you the truth.

On Easter Sunday, the disciples were worried that they would be next to be put on the cross. And so, they were hidden away. But two of them decided to leave town. And so, they were headed out of town, on the road to a small village called Emmaus, and what Luke 24 tells us is, Jesus came alongside and began to walk with them. And, he finally asked them what was the matter. And, they turned to him and they said, “Are you the only one who does not know?” And, they talked about how Jesus had been put on the cross. How Jesus had died. How all of there hopes for the difference that he would make in the world, were dashed because he was dead. And, they didn’t understand, plus, they said, “This morning some women came and told us that he had risen from the dead. Crazy women.” They didn’t understand.

And, if you look at verse 25, Jesus turns to them and says this, “Oh, foolish men. And slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Verse 26, “Was it not necessary.” Please, say that with me. “Was it not necessary,” Jesus said, “that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory.” Verse 27. Jesus begins to turn their eyes away from this world, to point out to them the truth of the scripture. And, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself. All the things in the bible that they were able to be aware of, but they were so busy paying attention to the world around them, they weren’t looking at the truth that was in the bible. They continued on to the village of Emmaus. They stopped for supper. They encouraged Jesus to stay with them, and as he broke the bread, all of a sudden they realized that it was Jesus, and he vanished. And, they looked at each other, verse 32, and they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”

And, it says that they got up at that moment and went back to Jerusalem. The roads at night were very dangerous. That doesn’t matter. Jesus was alive. When they got to where the disciples were, they found out that Jesus had appeared to the disciples, and just a little bit later, all of a sudden, Jesus is right there. Everything is new and different. And, Jesus goes on to say, verse 44, after the were in the upper room together, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you.” He had already told them all of this. “That everything written about me in the law of Moses, and the prophets and the psalms, must be fulfilled it’s all written there, verse 45, here’s the key, “Then the he opened their mind to understand the scriptures.” When w’re getting ready to read the bible, it’s a wise thing to pray, “Lord, open my mind to understand the scriptures.” And he went on to say, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. And that repentance and forgiveness of sin should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

This is the task of the church after Easter. This is the task, but now they need to get ready for that task. And it will take a little bit of time to get ready for that task for sharing the gospel. The prophet Jeremiah, back in chapter 29 of the Book of Jeremiah, sent the letter to the captives taken away to Babylon. When Jerusalem was conquered, their prophets were telling them that in just a very short time, they’d be returning home. And Jeremiah sends them a letter to say no, you need to hunker down, you need to settle in, you need to build homes and plant gardens and be good citizens because you’re going to be there for a while.

But, verse 10, “Thus says the Lord, when 70 years are complete.” We all have 50 days to wait between Easter and Pentecost, we all have three days to wait between Good Friday and Easter. They had to wait 70 years. But God encouraged them by saying, “I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise. And I will bring you back to this place.” Verse 11, this verse is often taken out of context, but it’s about waiting faithfully for God to work. Verse 11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart and I will be found by you, says the Lord. And I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I’ve driven you, says the Lord. And I will bring you back to the place from which I’ve sent you into exile.”

We need to give God time to work. It probably won’t be 70 years, but just like the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, there’s going to be a few days between when this church comes out of hiding, so-to-speak, when we’re in our home and begin to be out in public again, like we started just a few weeks ago.

There’s going to be some time in-between there, for us to get ready to come back and be the church again. I wonder if you feel that this is sort of like a dress rehearsal each Sunday, here on the parking lot? We’re back. We’re not all the way back but well, we’re back on the horse. And during this time it makes sense for us to get ready to go from the church that was in hiding, just like Jesus was in the tomb, to be the church that is resurrected and alive and living in this world just like they were on the day of Pentecost.

Everything has changed. But God still wants us to be the church that reaches people in this day. If that means we have to wear a mask, then we’ll wear a mask. If that means the preacher needs a sheet of plexiglass in front of his mouth, we’ll put a sheet of plexiglass in front of his mouth. We want to give God time to work and then we want to adjust to the reality of the way life is now because the Holy Spirit is already acting in accordance with the reality of how things are now. When we adjust to our reality instead of fighting against it, we will be in the flow of the spirit to reach out to people. And we need a few of these days between Easter and Pentecost to get ready.

In the slides, there is a picture of the room that they call the Cenacle. The word Cenacle means dining room. It means the place where you are served. In English, we frequently call it the Upper Room. This was something like a restaurant – where Jesus held the last supper or Passover meal. But after Jesus died on the cross, the disciples returned there and they stayed in that room. They stayed in hiding. A lot of scholars think that they were in residence there, that they were sleeping on the floor in that room. Other scholars suggest no, it’s just where they gathered. But for the days between Easter and Pentecost, they gathered in the upper room. And on the day of Pentecost, there were actually 120 of them.

What did they do during those days? Well, the words of Jesus were not yet printed. They were not yet in a book that you could open and read for yourself. But I believe that as they gathered in that room, they began to talk about everything Jesus said. They began to talk about everything Jesus did. They began to talk for 50 days about everything Jesus told them to do. They refreshed their memory and they reminded themselves of everything Jesus asked of his church. And I want to remind you, as I said before, if you want to know the truth about what’s going on here, in the early church on the Day of Pentecost, you don’t want to read it in the newspaper, you want to read what Jesus told those people to do. Because these people are going to do what Jesus told us to do. And that’s how the church will be reborn.

You need, in order to live in this world today, in this new world that God is bringing to pass around us, you need the word so that you can know the truth and the truth will set you free. The truth will help you to understand. The truth will help you to decide wisely what you are to do, what you are not to do, and whether you just simply need to wait before you do anything and pray a little bit longer. The word from all those centuries ago that came out of Jesus’s mouth, that will tell you the truth about what you need to do today. You need the Word.

There is a church in Houston, Texas. It is a church that people love to make fun of. You know why people love to make fun of it? They’re the big dog. Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. One of the largest churches in the world. On an average Sunday, prior to the coronavirus they would have a church attendance and the arenas where they hold their church services. A church attendance every single week of over 52,000 people.

This church was started by John Osteen, who was a Southern Baptist pastor. And all of a sudden, just like on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell on him, and he became a Southern Baptist who was also a Pentecostal. And I’ll be honest with you, Southern Baptists don’t have anything to do with that. So after he was driven out, he decided to start a church for Southern Baptists who were Pentecostals, and it’s just kind of grown from there.

But here’s what I wanted to tell you. Every Sunday, at some point time in their service, every person in that church, 52,000 of them over a Sunday time will take their Bible in their hand and will hold it up, and they will say along with the pastor these words. “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever living seed of the word of God, I will never be the same. Never, never, never. I will never be the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

You need the word to show you the truth. On a Friday, when it seems that the world is falling apart. You need the word to show you the truth on a Sunday, like Easter, when you’re coming out of the dark, coming out of a hole, coming out of the grave and trying to live a new life. You need the word to show you how to live on into the future that God has prepared for us. You need to worry a little bit less about the world and read the word a little bit more and then do what it says.

The very last slide– I really regret I can’t show you this picture. There’s a big round stone. That is off to the side because Jesus is about to leave the tomb. In this picture, I’ve superimposed on that big round stone, an image of the coronavirus. We are getting ready to come out of hiding. We’re gonna leave all of what’s in the past behind and move forward to be what God wants us to be as a church. And as disciples, you might say to yourself, “What comes next?” I’ll be very honest with you. I don’t know.

But I do know that God knows, and I do know that he will lead us. And I do know that if we want to know what God wants to happen, all we have to do is turn back to the book of Acts. All we have to do is turn back to the words of Jesus, and then we’ll know what to do, to do the will of the God who calls us forward. Please pray with me.

Lord Jesus, it’s so easy for us to be influenced by the media, whether it’s the internet or television or the news or a newspaper. We’re ready to swallow, without even thinking about it, whatever we’re told. Help us, Lord, instead to build a foundation in our lives made out of a living stones of every word that came from the mouth of Jesus. Help us, Lord, to build a foundation based on the Word of God. And then Lord grew forward with a firm footing. on the truth of what you have told us and not be distracted or dismayed or dissuaded or made doubtful or confused by all the noise around us. But let us be guided by the word of God living in our heart and living out through everything we say and do. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 05/31/20: What Do You Need … To Believe? (Pentecost)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 5/31/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Randy Owen, The Isaacs – I Need Thee Every Hour [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=tfPZ9mRIKgs&list=PLRXGvsne8XtKOJzAOgnmCY5VVt1ja3MM5

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Kim Hopper – Love Lifted Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbE3Rmfhtz4

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

MESSAGE:
Title: What Do You Need … To Believe?
Text: John 20:19-29
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: A Church Comes Alive (After Sheltering In Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Majesty (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr2jpojRb5o&list=PLbJ2NNqPTeAoGXHk-6Boy8LWAmtTmcLAY&index=26

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


TRANSCRIPT

What do you need to believe?

John chapter 20 verse 19, On the evening of that day, Easter Sunday, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side, and then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Thomas was not there that night. But the other disciples were. It was Easter Sunday. They had heard something about Jesus being gone and not being in the grave. They were still filled with doubts, and then all of a sudden Jesus is there, “Peace be with you.”

But what I’d like to draw your attention to is the fact that the disciples are hiding. They are in a room where the doors are shut, in a sense, because of their fear of the persecution of the Jews, the fear that they would be the next ones to be crucified.

Because of their fear, in a way, they were sheltering in place. They were afraid to go out. They thought if they went out and mingled freely with other people, they could die. Strange, how that matches our current situation. The disciples were sheltering in place for fear of the Jews, and all of a sudden Jesus is there and Jesus is alive.

We are in the time of Pentecost, the time when the disciples become visible. There’s an incredible miracle on the day of Pentecost. Peter stands up and preaches a sermon. But you know something, they hid and sheltered in place for 50 days. And during those 50 days, Jesus Christ got them ready for what they would need to do later, but it took 50 days of prayerful, spiritual preparation.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for them to watch Jesus dying on the cross. Crucifixion is one of the most brutal, painful, barbaric ways for a human being to die. And I wonder if the experience of him dying, and all of their hopes that they had given three years of their life to see come to pass for them all to end in that horrible suffering death. I wonder if it would be true to say of the disciples that they had what we call PTSD, which are letters that stand for the words Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

You can read stories of what it was like for the prisoners of war to come home from North Vietnam, where they were tortured, where they were beaten, where they were starved. The horrible experience they had wounded them in their hearts and minds to the point that even though they were home, they found it very difficult to believe that they were home. There are stories of former prisoners of war hiding food under the bed because they were certain that any minute now, the guards would break in and their entire nightmare would continue. It was as if they believed that the nightmare was still going on and that their life at home was the imaginary dream. Difficulty Adjusting to Change happens, even when it is beneficial to change.

I had a good friend who was a former Marine, about four years older than me, a veteran of combat, a pastor, and he told me once that he struggled with PTSD. He once said, “Last week, I was walking down the sidewalk, and all of a sudden I woke up, and I was shaking and cowering in the bushes by the library because,” he said, “I thought I was back in Vietnam on the battlefield. I was unable to remember that I was here and I was safe. I thought I was back there and without my even realizing it, my body took cover and hid from enemy fire.”

It’s kind of ironic. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder … for these survivors, it’s not “post” for them. It’s still present. The World Trade Center bombing was a horrible, traumatic event. But when we got up the next day, we could see the changes in the rubble. But for a person with PTSD, the trauma hasn’t ended. For the person with PTSD, the fires are still burning because they cannot believe that they are “post” the trauma because, in their hearts and mind, the trauma is still going on.

And this is going to be a challenge for us in dealing, as a church, with this whole coronavirus epidemic. The potential is there for a church to perceive the coronavirus epidemic as a never-ending trauma. The potential is there for you and I, as people, to perceive the coronavirus epidemic as a never-ending trauma. To perceive that the fires are still burning because we’re unable to believe, we’re unable to perceive, we’re unable to accept that even now, the whole situation we are involved in is changing. But if we’re traumatized by it, it’s going to be difficult for us to see that it’s changed. The potential is there for churches and people to develop PTSD.

Let’s go back to the Upper Room. John 20:24, Now Thomas, one of the 12, called the twin, was not with them when Jesus came and so the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” And he could not believe. Because for him, the fires were still burning. To him, Jesus was still upon the cross. There was no reason whatsoever to have any hope. He was not able to believe.

And he blurts out, he said to them, the Scripture says, “Unless I see in His hand the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, in the wound in his side, I will not believe.” That’s a hallmark of PTSD. The person has made up their mind. If you try to ask them to change their mind, they will fight you for the image that is on the inside of their mind and heart. And because of these words, Thomas has always been called Doubting Thomas. But I personally, I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t think it’s doubt. I think, after a shattering experience of emotional suffering, that he was still feeling that pain of experiencing Jesus as dead. Thomas was not interested in their joyful claim that Jesus was alive, that they had seen Him, and the heart of Thomas cries out, “I won’t believe.”

Or if you want, you can look at it a slightly different way. “This is what I need to believe. I need to put my finger in the wound in His hand, inside of His wounded body, and then I’ll believe. Then I’ll be willing to hope.” I think Thomas’s feelings are crying out in horrific pain.

A few days went by. Then all of a sudden Jesus was there again. He said the same words. “Peace be with you.”

And then He turns to Thomas and He says, “Thomas. Put your finger here. That’s what you said you needed. And see my hands. That’s what you said you needed. Put out your hand and place it in the wound in my side. That’s what you said that you needed. Do not be faithless, but believing.” And Thomas falls to his knees and cries out, “My Lord and my God.”

I can imagine what it might have been like if you and I had been in the room when Thomas made these demands. We might say to him, “Thomas, who do you think you are? To expect Jesus to do this for you? Get over it. Get over yourself. Grow up. Trust us!”

But what’s the heart of Jesus? Thomas, you asked me to show you so that you could see. You asked to touch me. You asked to literally put your hand in the wound in my side. This is what you need … here. Jesus brings you what you need.

We talked last week, we talked in previous weeks about my helicopter ride the day I went to the hospital on Good Friday and how I dealt with my emotions. And the reasons why I would not give my emotions the freedom to rule what was happening, I told you that I just kept repeating to you, the words of a sermon that meant a great deal to me. This is just Friday. It’s only Friday. Nothing that happens on a Friday with regard to suffering, a Good Friday, like the day Jesus was on the cross, nothing that happens on a Friday is the end of the story. We have to wait until Sunday to find out the truth. It’s just a Friday. I just have to wait and see.

And so when the doctors came in with one bit of traumatic bad news after another, I said to myself, “It’s only Friday. We need to wait and see what’s going to happen.” When they loaded me into the helicopter, I thought to myself just a little bit, “I wonder how much this is going to cost.” But very quickly, I said to myself, “It’s only Friday.” I told myself again and again not to be upset but to remain calm and have faith that God was working through even something as difficult as this.

And I’ll tell you, having been a pastor for 40 years, I have a lot of experience in setting aside my emotions. You see, when a firefighter runs into a burning building, when a police officer walks up behind a traffic stop not knowing who is in the car, not knowing if they might have a gun pointed at the police officer as they walk up, as soldiers run toward the sound of cannons, as surgeons and the trauma team in the emergency room get ready to treat a patient, they have to set aside their emotions so that they can be there for the people who need them.

And for 40 years as a pastor, I’ve been called to the Emergency Room and sat in the room with family while a patient died. Sometimes, I was called after the patient died, and I would come and sit with the family until their loved one was taken away by the funeral home. I had to set my emotions aside and wait for the benefit of other people.

So I was able to also do this for myself. I could, in a sense, pastor myself. I was able to choose temporarily to be in denial: It’s going to be okay. Let’s just wait, because it was better for me to choose denial over panic. I was able to choose acceptance: Whatever this is, God knows. It’s going to be all right. I was able to choose acceptance over what was happening in the present instead of letting my fear take over. You are able to choose to wait and see before you panic. And if you have to do that again and again and again, eventually, you get used to it. You can wait to grieve until you’re not needed. You can set aside your panic until you have answers. You can have this faith that God will work it out.

I don’t want the Coronavirus to become a matter of PTSD for our churches, or the people who are a part of our church, or the people who are a part of our community. And maybe I’ve just been a little naive in assuming that everybody would get that and not feed the fires of panic in themselves, but to calm themselves down and look to Jesus for peace.

But I absolutely don’t want us to deal with the pain of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as the Coronavirus epidemic continues. As I said last week, grief is a healthy adjustment to loss and loss is always a change to our life. But today I want to ask you this, are you willing to make that adjustment actively, consciously, deliberately? Because if you are able to be the ruler of your own mind, if you are able to be the counselor and comforter of your own heart, you will adjust faster with less pain and suffering, less harm to you and people around you.

Because beyond this person’s pain, there is a future and that future is filled with hope because Jesus Christ is still Lord of all. We can’t see the future, but by faith, we know it’s there. But I do want to ask you this question, what do you need to believe? What do you need so that you could hope in that future? Because here’s the possibility that comes with our faith: If you’re able to articulate in a prayer to Jesus Christ, who loves you, if you’re able to put it into words, it’s possible that your prayer will be answered just as Thomas received what he needed.

Do you know what you need to believe? Are you able to bring it into focus? Are you able to define the future that you hope you and I will live in? If you can pray it as a prayer, would Jesus answer that prayer? You might be surprised. Thomas certainly was.

The hard part for us in the middle of a crisis, in the middle of stress, in the middle of fear and panic … the hard part for us is to know exactly what to pray, to know what to ask Jesus for. But it will likely involve knowing what you need to do, knowing what you need to accept the reality of how life is changing. We can’t go back to the good old days. To know what you need in order to bear up with whatever sort of pain may come from accepting that, to know what you need to adjust to life because the old ways are going to pull you down and you’re going to find yourself needing to say no to that temptation. Life is different now. I can’t live in the good old days.

Do you know what you need to find yourself able to reinvest in life, in the living, to reinvest in the new reality, in life, in love and happiness? Do you know what you need? If you don’t, and you sit for a while with Jesus Christ, perhaps it will come to you. Do you know what you need in order to believe that God is with you, with us today and always?

Please pray with me. Lord, help us to know what we need to believe. Help us to bring it into focus so that it’s clear. Help us to be able to say the words even as Thomas said the words about what he needs and then, Lord, to let you work in our lives. We ask that in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 05/24/20: Fear and Grief and Faith (Eastertide V)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 5/24/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (Live At Studio C, Gaither Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5_5MB-btCk&list=RDaCDuOXjKUks&index=43

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Cynthia Clawson – Softly and Tenderly [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_6s6lRPPBQ&list=PLrQ_9CjH0M3DrNKFiJwWMcXeunA0lU-NB&index=18

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

MESSAGE: Fear and Grief and Faith
Matthew 5:1-5
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: Worship In Place
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

SERMON NOTES:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address, March 4,1933.

The definition of grief: adjusting to change beyond our control.

Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1969. (Focus: the terminally ill person.)
five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Dr. William Worden, Grief Counseling & Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner: Four Tasks of Mourning (Focus: survivors of loss)
Accept the Reality of the loss … Adjust to the new environment …
(the ‘come aparts’)
Experience the pain of the loss … Reinvest in the new reality …

HYMN He Touched Me (Live At Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC/2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzWNOEbRM2M&list=RDaCDuOXjKUks&index=20

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


TRANSCRIPT

It was Friday. That’s what I kept saying to myself. “It’s Friday. This is the kind of thing that happens on Friday.” It was Friday, April 9th, 2020. And I was there in the emergency room in Mount Vernon. And I was calming myself by reminding myself of one of my favorite sermons, “It’s Friday. It’s only Friday.” You see, it was Good Friday. Good Friday is cross day. Good Friday is when they put Jesus on the cross, and Friday is not going to be an easy day. Friday is a day to be endured and in fear and in grief. You need to hang on to your faith. So I hung on to my faith that day, and I kept saying to myself over and over and over again, “It’s Friday; Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday; Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday; Sunday’s coming.”

And with these words, I was able to calm myself as the doctors came in and told me I had a life-threatening pulmonary emboli in my chest. In fact, they couldn’t believe that I was breathing without effort. They couldn’t believe that I was not racked with horrible pain. But I just kept saying to myself, “It’s Friday,” because I knew whatever was going on that Friday, it would be better if I went through it calmly.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4th, 1933. That was the year when the Great Depression reached its lowest point. During 1933, 15 million Americans were unemployed; 25% of the population. And nearly half the country’s banks had failed. The consensus among the demand-driven theories, the demand-driven economists, was that a large scale loss of confidence, fear in other words– a large scale loss of confidence led to a sudden reduction in consumption. People cut back on investment. People stopped spending. You see, people were afraid, so they didn’t buy things. And because of that, the people who made those things lost their jobs. And of course, not having a job, they couldn’t buy things. And so other companies failed. And then the banks that loaned them money failed. And it all came from fear.

And Franklin Delano Roosevelt summed up the problem as simply this: “So, first of all,” Roosevelt said, “let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Well, when they put me on the helicopter and flew me from the hospital in Mount Vernon to the hospital in Evansville, the doctors and the nurses were focused on my health, my physical health. But I, I was focused on my fear and I kept saying to myself, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”

I’ve been reading up on the coronavirus, of course, trying to understand what happens with it and a lot of times they talk about a cytokine storm, which is the damage that happens not from the coronavirus, but the way your immune system tries to fight the coronavirus by going into basically, what might call, a panic mode. Knowing that an enemy, a life-threatening enemy, has invaded into the body, the immune system releases white blood cells. White blood cells go to work to fight the infection. They release chemicals called cytokines. The cytokines called in cause inflammation to increase throughout the body. That inflammation causes more white blood cells to be released, and all of a sudden, there’s a tornado, so to speak, of your own immune system causing harm to your body. And it all starts with a panic.

And so I kept saying to myself, “It’s Friday. This is just Friday. I’ve just got to get through Friday. I’m going to get through Friday and I’m going to get through Saturday because Sunday’s coming.” You see, there is a great benefit in calming yourself down.
William Glasser, a psychiatrist in California, once wrote, back in the 60s, that prisons– ironically, he said, “Prisons are full of people whose ability to be depressed is impaired. So that when these people are frightened or angry, they don’t settle down into a depression or just hide away until things get better. They don’t have that option.” Just like in the panic of a cytokine storm, their emotions begin to rise higher and higher in a panic. They can’t be sad. The only choice that’s left with them is to be angry, and as their anger mounts higher and higher, they begin to overreact violently to everything around them. And then anger escalates out of control and the crime happens, and that, Glasser said, is why they’re in prison. Instead of being sad and just staying home, instead of just calming down and moping, their minds went into a panic to a point where they wound up in prison. And, of course, it didn’t get better when they got there.

Grief is a healthy human reaction to a change. You see something has changed, and that change is beyond our control. Grief is a healthy adjusting to a change that is beyond our control. For example, a helicopter ride. You may not be able to relax and enjoy it, but you can get through it. There are other things that happen to us that are not our choice. That are not under our control. They are not would we whatever choose for ourselves or choose for anyone else. And so we grieve.

We grieve when someone we love dies; that change is beyond our control. But as we grieve, we adjust to that change in the life of a loved one.

I don’t know how long it’s been for you but you’ve probably had a car accident. That’s not anything that you would choose but you adjust to the change. You go on. You understand that accidents happen and you take the responsibility that’s yours but you go on.

Likewise, the coronavirus is something that’s beyond our control. A little bit like a tornado sweeping into our lives, bringing destruction. But all we can do is wait for this time to pass. It’s a little bit like being put on a cross. You don’t have control when you’re put on a cross. It’s a change that you didn’t ask for or desire. Grief is adjusting to a change that is beyond our control. And as we adjust, we feel pain, we feel helpless, we feel hopeless … and that’s normal.
Let’s apply some scripture to this. Matthew 5:1, “Seeing the crowds, he, Jesus, went up on the mountain. And when he sat down, his disciples came to him and he, Jesus opened his mouth and talked to him saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'”

Now if you’re poor in spirit, in that moment, you don’t feel very blessed. The blessing is later on. But right now, you feel rather poorly. In a time of crisis, it doesn’t help us to get louder. It doesn’t help us to get busy — it doesn’t help us to run from one thing to another in a panic of anxiety. When you’re poor in spirit, you tone it down. You settle it down. You turn it down. It’s not a time to be extravagant. It’s a time to be poor. It’s a time to just sit, just sit with your emotions. To be poor in spirit in a way, I would like to suggest is to shelter in place and just wait, wait, wait with your feelings. You see, it’s Friday. You have to get through that Friday but Sunday’s coming.
Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” One of the problems that we have when we’re going through hard times, is that we want to experience comfort without feeling anything. The problem is according to the scripture here, according to Jesus, is if you let yourself feel, you will heal. The help will come after you let yourself feel, if you will let yourself mourn, if you will let yourself grieve. If you will let yourself regret the change that you have to deal with, you will be comforted. As you sit, you can let your feelings flow. It’s okay on a bad day to let yourself be sad. It is okay on a bad day to shed a tear, to cry out loud. In this beatitude, Jesus says that those who feel what they’re feeling will find that they are comforted. Somebody once said there’s no way around it. The only way is to go through it. To go forward.
The next beatitude says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth.” In the slides for today, I’m showing a sign where someone has put graffiti on the wall and the graffiti says this: “I’m meek and I’m here for my inheritance.” Well, you see, here’s the point: after a while, the people who can’t sit still move on. The people who can’t handle the emotions leave. The people who can’t deal with stress find the closest exit. The people who don’t want to deal with what’s going on will do anything to avoid any problem. And in fact, perhaps half the world occupies itself on a hard day with trying to avoid everything that’s hard. If you can wait this storm out, if you can wait the problem out, you will find that the meek will inherit the Earth because the meek have staying power. When times are hard and you find yourself grieving at change, it is not of your own choosing. It is not in any way under your control. If you wait it out, you will find that after the storm passes that you have inherited the Earth.
Let’s add some science to what Jesus said. This is a little technical but I think it’s worthwhile.

First of all, grief is our natural adjustment to change. Something has changed. And we didn’t want it to change. So the whole change is out of our control.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the five stages of grief. These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness. And get this; it’s very important: the feelings of patients facing a change that they could not control, the fact that they were going to die. And Kübler-Ross identified five stages that people go through. Now, they don’t go through them one at a time. It’s not that neat. But they bounce all over the place, remember? A little bit like a panic.

The five stages of grief that she observed in people grieving their own death.

First one, denial. “This can’t be happening to me.”

Anger. “Why is this happening to me?” And quite often, “Who is to blame? Who can I lay all the fault of what I’m suffering and make it all their responsibility?”

Bargaining to God, the doctors, to other people, “What if I gave up doing this? What if I started doing that?” You try to make a bargain to get out of what’s coming to avoid the change. This is actually a wish, again, to escape the consequences.

Finally, a person feels hopeless and helpless. And they can sink into depression. “I’m too sad to really do anything at all.”

The final stage that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross observed was what she called acceptance. “I’m at peace with what is happening.”

These are the feelings that people go through as they move closer and closer to a change that is coming, that they can’t control, their own death.

Let me add some science to what Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said. There is a Christian psychologist by the name of William Worden. He taught at Biola. Now he’s on the faculty of Harvard University. And he took Kübler-Ross’s model of five stages and began to study people who are not facing their own death but instead, people who were surviving the loss of a loved one. And the astonishing thing he found is that people who were surviving grief did not go through these stages as Kübler-Ross described them. In fact, their experience was very different.

And William Worden called his model The Four Tasks of Mourning, M-O-U-R-N-I-N-G. The four tasks of active grief.

And the first task was this. To accept the reality of the loss. Something has changed. We can’t control it. We can’t make it go away. We can’t undo it. Something has changed. We need to accept that it’s real.

And I’ll tell you friends, if you want to find Kubler-Ross, here’s right where you’ll find it because before people are able to accept the reality that something is lost –  something is changed, and they’re never going to get it back … They go through all those things that Kubler-Ross said. They go through denial and anger and bargaining and depression because they’re unable as yet to accept the reality, the world is different.

But once you’re able to accept the reality that the world is different, once you’re able to name it, for example, they say in the 12 steps of AA, in the groups that help people that overcome addictions, there’s an incredible power in accepting the loss that you are not a person who can drink and live healthy. You have to give it up if you want to survive. There’s an incredible strength in accepting the reality to the point of being able to say, in a circle and a group of Alcoholics Anonymous, my name is ______, and then to confess, I am an alcoholic. They have accepted the reality of their loss. And that has started them up out of the hole, up out of the darkness of addiction, when they accept that the world has changed.
William Worden went on to identify three more stages. And again, just like Kubler-Ross, it’s not one after the other. People bounce back and forth. They have good days and move forward. They have bad days and slip backwards. But the four stages are basically this.

The first one’s to accept the reality of a loss.

The second one to experience the pain because this change is not something that anyone wanted. You will need to take time to experience that and feel those feelings.

The third stage is to adjust to the life that is afterward, the life that is without that person, the loss of who or what we just really loved so much. One of the things that we’re going to face life without in our church life is there are certain things that we can’t do like we used to do because of the coronavirus.
If you google the coronavirus along with the word singing, along with the word choir, you will begin to identify that singing just like we do on a typical Sunday when we open our hymnals, and we sing together. Singing is one of the most dangerous things that we can do. Because when people catch the coronavirus, they catch it from another person. They catch it from the breathing of that other person. Now, it is possible for you to get something on your hand, and for you to touch your face. It is possible for you to get it through touching something, but the coronavirus is something that we breathe in, and we commonly catch it from the breath of a person who has it.

Think about how you feel on a really cold wintry day. You breathe in; you breathe out. You notice that fog that is in front of you. And the cold air, it’s visible. That’s water vapor. And the coronavirus hitchhikes on little molecules of water vapor, and in fact, they say there’s a little sphere about up to three-feet wide in front of a person’s mouth when they’re singing. Anybody else who walks through that sphere or breathes that in – they say, it can hang in the air for as long as 14 minutes – anyone who breathes in that air can get the coronavirus. We are going to have to adjust to this reality, at least for a while, until there’s a vaccine, until there’s a cure, until we figure out how to do it. We’re going to need to accept the reality that we’ve lost the ability to sing in church together, to sing safely. We’re going to miss that. We’re going to experience the pain of missing it.
And we’re also going to need to go through the third adjustment in our church life: we will need to adjust to life without. This is why we will play recorded music for the worship service at Kinmundy this morning. This is why other people will sing for us. And of course, if you’re in your car, you can sing. At home, if you want to, you can sing in the shower. But it’s dangerous for us to sing in church, and we have to adjust to a life in church without the singing of hymns until we can figure out how to do it safely. It’s not going to be easy for us.

The fourth thing is that we invest. We reinvest in the new reality. Imagine what it’s like to be driving down the road, but looking in your rearview mirror. From time to time, you need to look in your rearview mirror. But if you’re going to move forward safely, it is a reality that you’re going to need to take your eyes off the past and what’s behind you. Take your eyes off what’s in the rearview mirror and look at what’s ahead of you, so that you can safely move in that direction. You need to give up what needs to be given up, but you can still move forward and have whatever is good and satisfying. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “What is needed, our efforts to convert retreat into advance.” We need to reinvest in what is possible in the future, and turn our attention toward it.
Twenty years ago, coming up very soon, everything changed. It was September 11. And I remember turning the television on at the precise moment that the second jet airliner crashed into the World Trade Center. The network news was showing the burning building. And then all of a sudden, to their vast surprise, here comes a second plane, and the horrific explosion.

If you’ve been alive since then, you know that everything changed. And it wasn’t a change that we liked. If you fly on an airline, you know everything changed. Now the TSA is searching everybody. You’ve got to take your belt off. You’ve got to take your shoes off. Everything changed. But we’ve been here before, and we survived. We’ve been here before, and we made it better. And we’ve even thrived. We adjusted to what we had to do to be safe. We adjusted after 9/11.
Today, it’s the same kind of thing. We need to adjust to what it means to live and to thrive and be alive in the wake of this coronavirus epidemic. I am truly hopeful that everyone who says that it’s no problem at all turns out to be right! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But I know that everything is not going to turn out well if we ignore what we need to do to be safe in this new reality. We need to convert retreat into advance. We need to adapt to the new reality. We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror and missing what used to be; we need to allow ourselves to sit and be poor in spirit, allow ourselves to mourn and to grieve, allow ourselves to be meek. And then, when it’s time, we need to rise up and walk in newness of life and create a new reality that will be, we hope, just as good, if not better. Let’s move forward. We’ve been here before. We didn’t let it stop us. Let’s move on forward.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, when you were put upon the cross, you knew that it would be a hard day. But you also knew that Sunday was coming. Lord, when they put me in the helicopter, I knew that it was a bad day. But I comforted myself and believed that where I could not control anything, you could watch over me. And so, Lord, I pray now in this new time when we are still adjusting, and as a part of that adjusting, still grieving and still hurting … help us, Lord, to move forward and to adjust to what the world is bringing us in this crisis, so that we can move into a new life and a new future. Help us, Lord, to grieve because grieving will set us free, because as you promised, those who mourn, will be comforted. And Lord, in this day, we need your comfort. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | 1 Comment

Sermon 05/17/20: Cleansed By The Word (Eastertide IV)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 5/17/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

The songs sung today are partially or entirely drawn from bible verses.

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Seek Ye First – Maranatha Singers – (Matthew 6:33, Matthew 7:7)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HniSUB3Qh0

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Maranatha Singers – Thy Word [with lyrics] Psalm 119:105
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npWJZwgmKMo

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
If you are blessed to have children in your presence this morning, take a moment to listen to them and give thanks for what they are thankful for this morning.

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

Special Music: Psalm 63:1-5 Song “I Will Bless You While I Live” (Esther Mui)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oyC8489kZY&list=PL_7-AulSMg_QCtuSRSNjvFD2S-uBgAF5m&index=31

MESSAGE: Cleansed By The Word
John 15:3, 7; 8:30-34; Matt 28:19-20
Pastor David O. Kueker
Series: Worship In Place
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

HYMN As The Deer – Maranatha Singers (With Lyrics) – Psalm 42:1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVQmZCK4Fiw

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

The photo by Ryk Neethling entitled “Open Bible with Pen” is from Flickr Creative Commons.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Good morning, friends. In the past few weeks since we’ve not been able to have worship at the church building, we’ve been talking about how we can do worship at home and specifically how can we take what we do in the church building on Sunday morning and bring it home so that we actually have a church in the home. It’s all right if there’s one person attending that church, maybe two or three. But if we can’t have church in the church building, let’s figure out a way to have church at home.

And we’ve been talking about how you find your place in that church in the home, how we do music at that church in the home, how we begin with a call to worship and surrender our life to Christ in the home. But today, I want to talk to you about something that keeps me very happy and keeps me very busy. I want to talk about how you have a sermon in your home. If you worship at home, where will the sermon come from?

Well, obviously I’m providing a sermon that you can listen to over the internet and in fact, everything you need to worship at home is provided. But let’s just imagine that you had to provide the sermon because in the worship in your home, honestly, the sermon comes from you. How exactly will you preach a sermon to yourself? What goes into a sermon and how do you prepare that message from God when you are the one talking to yourself? You’re both the preacher and the congregation.

Well, let me segue to something else first on the way to answering that question. One of the realities of being a human being is that we get lost. People get confused. It’s a part of being human to lose our way, to not know where we are, to not understand where we’re going, to not understand how to get there from here. It’s a part of being human to be lost.

So we want to start with the question, What’s the problem? There are problems that you and I struggle with. There may be someone we know and we think their life is perfect. Well, they have no problems. But that’s not me. That’s probably not you.

A man came to a New York City pastor, very famous preacher, and said, “I’m so tired of all the problems that everybody is struggling with. I would just like to spend the day someplace where there are no problems.” The pastors said, “Well, I know such a place.” And he and the man got on the subway and they went all the way out to the end of the line and the pastor got off the train and said to the man, “Here you go. Here’s a place where no one has a problem.” And there they were in one of the largest cemeteries in New York City.

If you have a problem, it means that you’re alive. If you have a problem, it means that you’re a human being if you. If you have a problem today and can name it, it means that you’re an honest person. What’s the problem? Because once we understand the problem, we’re going to bring that problem as a prayer to the problem solver, to Jesus Christ. So what’s the problem?

Back in about 2009, my problem was that when I wanted to go someplace, I would print the road directions off of Yahoo Maps. I’d set that printed sheet of paper on the passenger seat next to me and I would consult it as I was driving. And I was in Chicago at the time and I needed to go to a particular Walmart on my way to a particular restaurant and I printed out the instructions … and all of a sudden, I found something out. It’s not possible to drive in dangerous big city traffic and read the small print on a sheet of paper. I actually drove past the Walmart about six different times before I realized that it wasn’t actually on the street where Yahoo sent me. It was on a side street, facing a side street. But I finally got to the Walmart, thank God.

I looked at the Yahoo directions and I just simply took those pieces of paper and tore them into many small pieces. I went into Walmart and I bought what I needed but I also went down to the counter and I bought a GPS. I have never regretted spending the money that day and they weren’t that cheap in 2009. I never regretted spending the money to get a GPS. Because if I’m in the big city, all I have to do is take the GPS then I press a couple of things on the screen and all of a sudden, this impatient, irritating woman is telling me to turn right or turn left or turn back around and sometimes she just mutters under her breath over and over again, “Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.” But that voice that I hear in the car sends me where I want to go.

What’s the problem? Friends, for this life that we have to live, we need ourselves a GPS. We need that voice that gives us instructions, that gives us directions on which way to go. You and I know that as Christian people, we get our directions out of the bible. God has answers for our human problems in the bible. But as I’m driving down a busy street, it’s hard for me to flip through the bible and find the exact verse that speaks to the situation that I’m struggling with. I need something like a GPS version of the bible to where I hear a voice repeating the scripture to me that applies to the problem I’m dealing with. And we might call that being guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the job of the Holy Spirit was going to be to remind us of things that Jesus had said (John 14:26). So if we have some form of spiritual GPS, it would be the Holy Spirit interrupting us to remind us of something that the Bible says so that we can, right here, right now, do what the Bible asks us to do. We need a version of the Bible that talks to us the way a GPS talks to a person.

I’ve looked through some instruction manuals in my life. I don’t start with the instruction manual. I always try to wing it. I always try to figure it out on my own, but I have a confidence that I can pick up and instruction manual if I have to and go to the exact page that tells me how to do the thing that I need to do.

Now, here’s the problem: the bible isn’t like that. The Bible isn’t like an instruction manual. The Bible is as if God took each individual sentence in the instruction manual and just scrambled it up, moved one instruction to Genesis and the next one to Psalms and the next one to the book of Matthew and the next one to the book of 1 John and then we’re back to the book of Proverbs. The instructions are mixed up.

And I can imagine in my mind an angel coming up to God and saying, “God, why did you create such a scrambled instruction manual?” And I likewise can imagine God telling the angel, “If I put the instructions in the book like this, that way they’ll have to read it all. And not only will they need to read all of it, they’ll need to become familiar with it all and they’ll need to spend time thinking about it all. And they’ll need to ask me what it means and they’ll need to take time to listen to me.”

And God might go on to say, “They’ll need to take time to decide what to do, thinking over the options, listening to the Holy Spirit.” Finally, I think God could say to the angel, “It will be obvious who is a reader of my word and who is not.” Wouldn’t it be great to have a Bible where our familiarity with it allowed it to speak to us? And we could bounce from one part to another because it would be in our head, not just on the page. The Bible would be in our head. The Bible would be in our heart. And it would just like that. It would remind us of what we needed to know when we needed to know it.

Let’s go back to my being lost in Chicago. What’s the problem? The problem of my being lost in Chicago is that I needed clear directions that were easy to follow that would take me where I needed to go.

So that’s the first question, but what are some other questions that would help us to understand the Bible? On the back of your church bulletin for many years now, there’s been a list of three questions, they’re called the S.O.W. Questions. The first S.O.W. Question is, “What does it say?” The second question is, “What does it say that I need to obey?” Because some Bible verses give us information and other Bible verses give us instruction. And the final question, “Who needs to hear this?” It might be you, it might be me that needs to hear this, but it might be somebody else we know. And we do missionary work when we bring a verse from the Bible to someone who needs to hear it.

And the way they use these questions on the mission field– this is how they do Bible study in tribes and cultures where no one can read. They take each verse and someone, usually, a child who might be going to school, a child will read one verse out loud and then they’ll ask these three questions, they’ll go verse by verse by verse and understand each verse thoroughly.

Here’s an example, John 15. John 15 is the chapter in the Bible where Jesus talks about abiding in Me and the benefits of that. John 15:3, Jesus says to His disciples, “You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.” You are already made clean. Now, that’s not clean as in the sense of washing your hands because this is the chapter where it talks about the gardener pruning the vines in the vineyard. Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches and the Father’s the gardener and he’s going to prune you.”

Let me remind you of a pet peeve. You’ve heard me say this before. A lot of preachers will talk about these verses and they’ll talk about how when pruning happens, it’s so horribly painful.

Let me ask you to think with me just for a minute. With pruning, God takes the sheers. God takes away the excess. God takes away what you don’t need or want. Pruning is a little bit like waking up the next morning and finding that you are 100 pounds lighter because God did all the heavy lifting. Any pain is in the past, but God took care of it.

Now, John 15:3, “You are already made clean … clean. That word in Greek that’s translated made clean, literally means – you’ve guessed it – pruned. It is the verses of the Bible that prune us. It is the verses of the Bible that take away what leads us astray. It is the verses of the Bible that clear out the garbage that we don’t need in our life. “You are already made clean,” Jesus says, “by the word which I have spoken to you.” And not only that, take a look down at the seventh verse. Jesus says, “If you abide in me,” and he goes on to say, “my words abide in you,” look at this next beautiful promise, “ask whatever you will, and it shall be done to you.”

When you let the Bible clean you out, prune you of what you don’t want or need, straighten your life out, when you let the Bible take up a place to where it dwells inside of you, it abides inside of you, guess what happens? All of a sudden, your prayers become very powerful to change the lives of people all around you, and to change your life, too. That’s what it says.

What does it say that I need to obey? Well, obviously, I need to let the word come into my life. I need to let it do its work to prune me and clean me up. I need to let it stay in my life and keep doing that work, and then my prayers are going to start to be answered. Friends, that’s something.

The third question, Who needs to hear this? I need to hear this, and I’m probably not the only one. The word of God, the verses of the Bible have a powerful effect to clean up our lives.

The next example comes from John chapter eight. Let’s read from the beginning of the 30th verse, “As he spoke thus, many believed in him. Jesus then said to the Jews who believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.'” What does this verse say? We don’t have a relationship with God’s word that’s occasional. We don’t want to have a relationship with God’s word that means that we pick it up once a month, we pick it up once a week, even picking it up on Sunday. We want to have a continual relationship with God’s word because that’s how we will know that we’re truly disciples.

I’ll be a little risky here, I’ll be a little dangerous! If you don’t have a continual relationship with God’s word, you don’t meet this definition that Jesus gave of what it means to be a disciple. You may be a wonderful Christian, you may be a holy person, you may be a moral person, but if you want to be a disciple, you will have a continuing relationship … a relationship with everything that Jesus said, because it’s going to work on you.

The very next verse talks about one way that it works on you. Verse 32, “You will know the truth.” God’s word reveals the truth to us no matter how confusing and crazy the world around us can get to be. Right now, the greatest frustration many of us have is the reality of fake news. All kinds of information that stirs us up, gets us really upset and goes on all day long.

Here’s the recipe for dealing with fake news, friends. This statement that somebody makes – does it match up with what Jesus said in the Bible? Because you know if it matches up with what Jesus said in the Bible, it’s far more likely to be true than if you can’t find a single Bible verse that supports what someone is suggesting. Not only that, in Verse 34 Jesus says that, “If you don’t know the truth, it’s really easy to commit sin, it’s really easy to make a mistake, and it’s really easy to commit sin to the point where you’re a slave of sin.” What sets us free are the verses of the Bible.

Oh, by the way, we talked in John Chapter 15 about how we need to abide in Jesus, and how Jesus’ words need to abide in us? Here’s the interesting thing. You know that word continue? It’s the same Greek word. “If you abide in my word”, Jesus says.

“What does it say that I need to obey?” You need to find some way to bring the Bible into your daily life. To put it in your head, to put it in your hearts. So that just like a GPS, when you’re tempted to take the wrong turn, it will tell you to turn around. That’s what it means to abide in the word.

Who needs to hear this? I need to hear this. You probably need to hear this. And you and I aren’t the only ones.

One more example, in Matthew Chapter 28, Verse 20, the very last verse in the Book of Matthew, the verse that sort of sums up everything. The disciples have been following Jesus and he’s been instructing them. He’s been giving them instructions. And they’re supposed to listen to his words, to go through them repeatedly, to remember them. And here in the 20th verse, you find these words. “You’re supposed to be teaching them, the new disciples, the new people, all that I, Jesus, have commanded you.” If you want to help people become disciples … if you want to help people turn their lives around. If you want to help people be born again and start a new life, they need the scripture. They need to be taught, not to know, not discuss, but to observe and live all that Jesus commanded them. That’s what it says.

Now, what does it say that I need to obey? I am a part of Jesus, giving these instructions to people around me. First, I follow those commands myself, but I teach them to others.

Who needs to hear this? I do, because the word in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. God’s word is not really fulfilled until you are willing to give it away. So how do we put the word our hearts? How do we put the word in our minds?

Ancient Benedictine monks had a spiritual discipline that they called Lectio Divina. The words Lectio Divina in Latin literally mean Divine Reading. But when you look a little bit closer at the practice, it actually means A Divine Reading.

Please understand who these monks were. Some of them were priests who knew how to read, but most of them were illiterate, unable to read, laboring folks. They would work with the animals in the monastery herd. They would milk the cows. They would work on the monastery farm to grow food. They were common working people, and they did not know how to read. But during the meals, as they ate their food, one of the monks who knew how to read would read to them from the scriptures and sometimes from other spiritual books.

Now, these were not people who could memorize entire chapters of the Bible. They didn’t know how to read. But what they would do is that they would listen sentence by sentence, verse by verse, and all of a sudden, a verse would be said. And it would be like bells would chime. It would be like God would say to their heart, “This is the verse that I want you to pay attention to.” And, of course, then they would ask themselves, “What does it say? What does it say that I need to obey? What problem does it address?” And they would take time with that one phrase, that one verse. It really didn’t matter whether they meditated on it for an hour, for a whole day, for a whole month. They had heard from God what was supposed to be their agenda.

Lectio Divina as words in Latin also literally means A Divine Selection. We need to listen for our own personal verse. We need to listen for this specific thing that God is wanting to say to us.

Now, we need to read the Bible in context because the only way we’re going to hear it all is if we read it all. We want to read the Bible in context. We want to read it a chapter at a time. But when it’s time for us to think, we want to focus in on one particular verse that we feel in our hearts God is telling us, “Pay attention to this.” We need to focus on one particular verse that our mind wants to understand. And then as the day goes on, we think it over. We take our hoe and go out in the garden and weed the garden, but while we are weeding, in our minds, we’re saying that phrase from the Bible over and over.

And in this way, these Benedictine monks would memorize the Bible but one verse at a time. They were not in a hurry. They had heard from God, and what they heard was the solution to the problems they were dealing with, “There’s something about this verse.” And so they would think it over and over and over and over until they had drawn out of it every little bit of nutrition for the soul that was to be found there.

And then it’s time for the next verse.

Friends, I want to suggest to you, this is how we allow the Word to dwell in us, how we continue in it, how we let it abide to us. Pick up the Bible and open it to a chapter and look for one verse, maybe two, maybe three, because God’s in charge of this. Not me. But look for one verse that you feel is what God is saying to you today.

And then think it over and think it over and think it over until you feel that you understand it. Ask it these questions. The Bible can be questioned because God wants to give you an answer to your questions. And I’d also just simply like to say this as well if you’re stumped, I, as your pastor, would love to hear your questions. Put them on Facebook. Call me on the phone. Text my phone. Send me an email. However you want to communicate with me! If there’s a question and you don’t know the answer, ask me. I would love to be involved in understanding a verse of the Bible with you.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, you said that our prayers would be answered if we took time to abide in your Word. You said that you would show us right from wrong if we took time to abide in your Word. You said that you would set us free and that we would be your disciples as we listen to your words and sought to obey them. I pray, Lord, that as we have worship at home, that you would help us to be taught by your Holy Spirit through your holy Word and it would dwell richly both in our hearts and minds, and we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Prayer Needs for Sunday 5-10-20 (as of Saturday evening):

Prayer Needs for Sunday 5-10-20 (as of Saturday evening):

“WORSHIP AT HOME” for Sunday 5/10/20 will be available tomorrow morning at https://kinmundychurch.org/2020/05/sermon-05-10-20-listen-for-your-neighbors-knock-mothers-day-eastertide-iii/

Prayer needs for today include:

– Janice Eischens reports that her brother Dan Cheatum is still at Doctor’s Nursing Home for physical and respiratory therapy.

– Louise Cheatum is doing well but would be blessed by a friendly phone call – early afternoons and evenings are the best time. Please remember to let it ring for a long time as it can take a long time for Louise to get to the phone.

– Mike Pannell is home, still has a chest tube. Feeling a little better.

– Cathy Marble, Brittany and Brandon Sauter’s aunt, waiting for biopsy results after major surgery to learn if she will need chemo or radiation treatment or both.

– John Holzhauer, Janice Wink’s brother, is waiting for another PET scan to be scheduled to check out new spot.

Thank you for your prayers!
Please feel free to add additional prayers and updates in the comments.

Posted in Bulletin and Prayer List | Leave a comment

Sermon 05/10/20: Listen For Your Neighbor’s Knock (Mother’s Day/Eastertide III)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 5/03/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Our call to worship is to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Celine Dion – A Mother’s Prayer (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYGnB28fdDo

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Alisa Turner – My Prayer For You (Official Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_0pvIGkks

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN
If you are blessed to have children in your presence this morning, take a moment to listen to them and give thanks for what they are thankful for this morning.

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS

Special Music: JJ Heller – Hand To Hold (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n88EHf_ocoQ

MESSAGE: Listen For Your Neighbor’s Knock
Pastor David O. Kueker
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

HYMN SOW MERCY – Gaither vocal band (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTtf5MzTOI

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Good morning friends! Well, it is now Mother’s Day. And we’ve been in the midst of this quarantine since St. Patrick’s Day.

I’d like to remind everyone of what happened the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. The city of Chicago decided to postpone their famous parade. The city of Chicago decided to postpone dyeing the Chicago River green. The city of Chicago asked people to stay home because the coronavirus was just getting started.

But part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations was at least 10 of what is called a bar crawl. People buy tickets to go from one bar to another and the bar crawls were not canceled. And they offered no refunds to people who bought tickets. And so the city was full of people in the streets at a time when they were asked to protect other citizens by staying home. And in case you didn’t know that, that’s why the order was issued the next day that all restaurants needed to close, all bars needed to close, because people who were asked to stay home we’re not willing to do so.

And as a result, sometimes we feel like we’re stuck behind a fence. We’ve been told to stay home. To stop going out. We’re in quarantine, so to speak, although we call it “shelter in place.” And that stirs up a lot of emotions in us.

One of those emotions is what is called FOMO. FOMO is a abbreviation that stands for the “fear of missing out.” If it’s St. Patrick’s Day and a whole bunch of people are going to have a big party on the street and in Wrigleyville, well, I’ve got to go there because I have a fear of missing out.

So much of advertising, so much of media, stirs us up to be afraid that we are going to miss something important. And the end result of that is we are running from one thing to another, busy, busy, busy and never coming to a halt. Well, the quarantine brings all of that to an instant halt. We used to go and go and go and now we just stop. Our crazy, busy, hectic lifestyle has been put on pause. And for a lot of people that becomes very uncomfortable because busyness is a favorite way to avoid dealing with things that we don’t want to deal with. Busy is a favorite way for people to be in denial, to avoid their faults, to even avoid awareness of their problems. But when you’re asked to shelter in place, when you can’t keep running from one exciting thing to another, you’re no longer able to hide from what you’d like to pretend is not a problem.

A lot of things have changed while we’ve been sheltering in place. There’s a picture on the screen of a little boy who is obviously in Little League. What you may not know is the coach of his Little League team is his father, and his grandfather, who coached his own son in Little League, is the one who took the picture. This little boy isn’t able to play Little League this year. And some of us might be aware of a fear of missing out relating to that. But consider that in the shelter in place situation, a dad who is always busy and always going, maybe having to travel related to work … Suddenly, dad is home. Suddenly, dad has much more time to spend with his son. Suddenly, dad and his son, perhaps, play a lot more baseball than they would have if the Little League was happening.

We have to wonder what our children will remember when they’re older. Twenty years from now, forty years from now, perhaps when they have their own grown children, what will they remember when they’re old about the spring when mom and dad all of a sudden had lots and lots of time to spend with them? Well, sheltering in place is not always easy, but it’s something that we’re likely to remember.

During all of this time, I’ve been thinking about a famous quote from the French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal. He said hundreds of years ago that “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I think that’s true because shelter in place has all of a sudden caused us to sit quietly. Maybe not alone, but close to it.
We’re not exactly alone because, unlike people several centuries ago, we’ve got cellphones; we’ve got the internet. On the internet, there are all kinds of online games. We’ve got Netflix and dozens of other providers of television shows and movies that we can watch for free. One hundred cable TV channels filled with reruns. Even if you didn’t have any of that media, you have, in the closet, the game of Monopoly. Or Scrabble. You have cards to play gin rummy or solitaire. And if that’s not your cup of tea, you can go out in the backyard and play tag or hide and go seek.

I’m still sure that children today during the shelter in place said the same thing that I said when I was their age, “Mom, there’s nothing to do.” And of course, if you grow up in a small town or on a farm, the automatic answer to that is, “Well, let me find you something to do.” So we quickly learn not to say that, but maybe during shelter in place there’s been a lot less to keep us busy than there used to be.

And in fact, with regard to the church, our busyness has come to a stop as well. Church is a relationship but everything we used to do about church has been called to halt. And now, we’re in our home, and we have to do it all ourselves. But even if we don’t go to the church building, church is a relationship that’s still happening, because you and I, in our homes, we are still connected to God. God is still with us. And the commandment from Matthew 22:37 is also still in effect. We are still called to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts and with all of our soul and with all of our mind and with all of our strength, even though no one is playing the organ, even though the choir isn’t singing, even though the preacher isn’t standing behind the pulpit to preach a sermon.
Now that the church is in our home, it kind of falls to us, and we are still connected to God through prayer. God is still available to us, and we are still connected. And that’s not all.

Church is a relationship because we still have a relationship with all of our neighbors. Look at all of our neighbors in this picture on the screen. The second commandment that Jesus gives us is to love our neighbor as ourself. And Jesus goes on to say, “There’s no other commandment greater than these.” Friends, we may not be able to go down to church to spend time with our neighbors, but they are still our neighbors. They are not forgotten.

If you’re able to be on Facebook, in fact, you’ll be reminded about all kinds of things happening in the life of your neighbors. I have a good friend in another town who decided to take her family around the world, and she would announce on Facebook every night: “Today, we’re going to Mexico because we’re eating Mexican food.” Or “Today, we’re going to France because we’re eating French food.” And they would travel all around the world without leaving their home because they’d be eating those meals and they would be telling everyone what they’re doing. We are still aware of what’s happening in the lives of our neighbors. The human tendency to tell stories and to gossip, the grapevine is still alive and with us. And not only that, we are still connected to our friends from Church, whenever we take a minute to pray.

When we stop to pray, God reminds us about our neighbors, the people we know from our church. These people are not forgotten. And as we pray for them, it causes the connection that we have with them to strengthen. All of humanity’s problems stem from a human inability to sit quietly in a room alone. But if you take time to spend time with God alone, it will be very fruitful for you. In the quiet, God will speak to you. If you stop paying attention to everything else and turn and pay attention to God, you will learn things about God that you never imagined. You will learn things about yourself that you never imagined. Not only that, God will help you to face your fears. God will help you to deal with your problems. And God can help you solve them when you take time to pray. For the first time in your life, you have plenty of time to pray. And as you pray, you’re still connected to God. Don’t waste this opportunity for spiritual growth and spiritual transformation.

Last week, we talked about how to pray in a time of quarantine, and I suggested to everyone what I like to call listening prayer. Listening prayer is when we come to a stop, just like when we shelter in place, but during that time we just sit with God, and we listen. Now, if your mind is hyperactive– the minute I start listening to God, I start remembering all kinds of things I need to remember. I start remembering all kinds of things I need to do. I keep remembering all kinds of ideas that I need to write down for the next sermon. It’s odd how the minute I stop to listen, God begins to speak and I begin to be reminded of things that are important for me to know.

I also talked last week about how in our prayers we should take a walk around our neighborhood. You’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself. One of the ways to do that is to understand that you are a part of four neighborhoods. First of all, there’s the neighborhood of your family. And you ought to take a minute to go through your family tree and pray for the various people who are a part of your family. There’s the neighborhood of what we’re interested in that involves our hobbies, whatever we’re curious and interested about. And that’s also the place where our church friends have their neighborhood. They’re in the neighborhood of people we spend time with. There’s also the neighborhood of servanthood, which is where we work. And perhaps we’re retired, and we work as a volunteer. And finally, there’s the literal neighborhood of people who live in houses around our house.

And I suggested that as you went through these names, it would be really wise for you to make a list of them. It would be really wise for you to make a note along with the names of any needs for prayer that you’re aware of, because it’s easy to forget how we need to pray, and who needs our prayers. We need to write this down, because as we listen to God, if we write down what we want to remember, it will always be there for us to consult. If you keep a prayer list, if you keep it up to date, if you notice what God is doing and make notes about that in your prayer list, your prayers will always be ready for the next step. Our prayers and the commandment of Jesus call for us to notice our neighbors — not to turn our backs on them, but to pay attention and be aware of what’s happening in their life. When you think about it, that has a lot to do with being a mother.

And of course, today is Mother’s Day. How do you recognize a mother? Napoleon was once asked how you recognize a good soldier, and Napoleon said, “They’re the ones who march toward the sound of the cannons.” Well, how do you recognize a mother? Well, when there’s some mothering to be done, mothers move toward doing what is needed. That can take on all kinds of shapes and forms in our society today, but a mother knows when it’s time, for example, for a diaper change, and she will move toward that chore instead of ignoring it. That’s how you recognize a mother. A mother will recognize when it’s time for a bottle. And mothers move toward that need. And mothers move toward that need even when it’s in the middle of the night.

I had the privilege of raising three sons, and I would remember that midnight cry. I remember when the “baby alarm” would go off in the middle of the night, the child announcing that it’s time for dinner. And I’ll be honest with you, there were times that I literally just pretended to be asleep until a mother got up to do the actual job. Other times, being a light sleeper, I just got up and took my turn, because that’s the way it is with bottles. They’re an equal opportunity meal for a child.

But when the alarm goes off in the middle of the night, how you recognize a mother is they move toward what needs to be done. That’s what mothers do. And you know the commandment of Jesus for us to love our neighbor as ourself? We also need to love our littlest neighbor. We need to love the most fragile neighbor. We need to love that little baby. And in time, they’ll sleep through the night and maybe so will we. But when it’s needful, how you recognize a mother is they move toward what needs to be done. We need to listen for the cry of our neighbor. We need to listen for a knock at the door.

The picture on the screen is a picture of staff Sergeant Charity Lee Vest. She is a part of the 87th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, and she is holding this little baby, whose name is Arlo, at his home. She was sitting down to dinner with her own family on October 24, 2017, when suddenly there was a knock on the door. Her neighbor was there, calling for her help. Their 14-month-old son was unresponsive, laying on the grass in the front yard. And this little 14-month-old boy needed medical attention. Staff Sgt. Charity Lee Vest heard the knock, answered the call, ran across the street, and did CPR until the ambulance came. She saved this little boy’s life. And she was able to do that because when the knock came at her door, she answered the call.

Sometimes God is going to knock on your door in the form of a neighbor. Sometimes God is going to wake you up maybe even in the middle of the night for your neighbor’s sake because your neighbor needs you. Sometimes it’ll be a literal knock at the door, but sometimes it will be God knocking on the door of your heart because you’ll be reading through the list of your neighbors and as you are praying, you will somehow know that you are needed, you will somehow know that you need to reach out with your hand and take the hand of your neighbor and help them through whatever it is. Because something isn’t right.

The commandment’s very clear. We need to love our neighbor as ourselves. And sometimes all that’s needed for love to happen is for us to remember them and pray for them. But sometimes, there will be a knock at the door or there will be some cry that we’ll hear in our hearts and we’ll just know that something isn’t right and that we need to be a part of God helping them make it right. And that’s when we get up from the dinner table. That’s when we get out of that warm and comfortable bed and we walk down the hallway to do God’s will because that’s what’s right.

It’s Mother’s Day. Maybe your children are completely grown and live across the country. Well, it doesn’t matter. You’re still a mother, you’re still a father, you’re still a neighbor. You still have a heart that hears people knocking at your door. God, if you’re willing, God is going to send you to help your neighbor. And I hope that when you hear that call, you’ll step out to do God’s will and help because that’s what Christians do. That’s what Christians do. They love their neighbor, not just in hopes and wishes and prayers, but they love their neighbor with deeds when deeds are what God needs.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, everyone lives at a different address. Every one of us has a different assortment of neighbors. Every one of us has different family members, different friends. We have different places that we work. We have literal neighbors and houses all around us. Sometimes we don’t even know their name. That doesn’t mean that we can’t pray for them. And that doesn’t mean that we can’t be ready to do what God needs done. When we hear — whether it’s in our heart and soul, whether it’s a knock on the door or the ringing of a phone — are we willing to do what God needs done? And so Lord, I pray that you bless our hearts and what we feel and want, but also bless our deeds that they might benefit all the neighbors all around us. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | 1 Comment