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.
 

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

  1. Gerri says:

    Beautiful sermon today and beautiful songs! Very hard to pick a favorite! Praise the Lord that we are able to worship “together “ like this each Sunday morning. Now for some coffee and fellowship! Jill and Israel will be over with their coffee and cookies and we will discuss the sermon while maintaining our social distance.

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