June 18, 2023, Our Father … Pentecost 3

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP:
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.
Holy Spirit, come alongside of us, comfort and counsel us, speak through us, and empower us to do God’s will. Amen.

HYMN 144 This Is My Father’s World
Amy Grant – This Is My Father’s World (Audio)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5rZx-iogyg

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Dear Lord, This morning as I contemplate a new day, I ask you to help me. I want to be aware of your Spirit—leading me in the decisions I take, the conversations I have, and the work I do. I want to be more like you, Jesus, as I relate to the people I meet today—friends or strangers. 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 382 Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Have Thine Own Way Lord | Help in Daily Living | Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEYoOI2zbBo

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: Our Father …
Text: Matthew 6:9, Psalms 27:10, Isaiah 64:8-9, 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, Proverbs 3:1-6
Series: The Greatest Story Ever Retold

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Psalms 27:10 KJV “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”

Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand. 9 Be not exceedingly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold, consider, we are all thy people.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; 2 for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you. 3 Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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HYMN 141 Children of the Heavenly Father
Children of the Heavenly Father by SE Samonte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Le7-y9xVI

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St 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.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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

TRANSCRIPT

It’s Father’s Day. I thought I would talk to you about two words that are incredibly powerful. And they’re powerful whenever they’re a part of our prayer: Our Father.

Just a moment for fathers, by the way. This is my father-in-law, Larry Johnson, standing next to his daughter on our wedding day, 11 years ago, Friday.

On the other side is my dad. This actually was a picture taken at the conclusion of naval training at Great Lakes Naval Base, 1945. He graduated from high school and joined the Navy. I appreciate my dad on Father’s Day.

And I appreciate all fathers on Father’s Day because we need the father stuff.

Now, it’s kind of a cliche – on Mother’s Day, we talk about nurture and feelings and unconditional love. But sometimes it’s fathers who provide that in a family.

On Father’s Day, we talk about ideas, and strategy, and advice, and plans and how life can be better if you work harder and think before you act and about being tough when life is discouraging. But sometimes, in families, it’s mothers who do that. It doesn’t really matter, but we need both. So on the screen, you see a picture of my dad. He certainly was somebody who gave lots of advice. But every single day, when I was a kid, we would read Ann Landers. So women can give advice too. And they do that very well. So either way, we need both.

But the important thing is, whether it’s your father or your mother that gave you ideas and encouragement, that you let yourself be influenced. I still remember the day, probably in 1994, ’95? I’m walking down the hallway at our house, and I’m turning off light switches, and I say to myself, “You’d think we owned stock in Illinois Power …” And the minute I said that, I froze – because that’s exactly what my dad would always say. And I said to myself, “Oh, Lord, I’m becoming my father.” And that’s not bad – but often, it is irresistible.

Sometime around 2010, we lost her in 2011, I was visiting my brother in Dallas and my mom was over for supper. And I said, “Mom, what would you like to drink?” I was pouring iced tea. She said, “Well, Dave, last week, I read an article that said you shouldn’t drink while you’re eating because that dilutes your stomach fluids. Your stomach acid.” And I just want to tell you something crazy. It was years before I could drink during a meal. I just couldn’t do it. My mom had that that much influence on me.

So whoever does this for you, Mom or Dad, let them have influence on you.

Let me tell you about something you may have never heard of. There is a study called CliftonStrengths. It’s actually a test for business people. You take this test and there’s 34 different strengths, and they identify what your top ten are. And the idea is that when you give somebody a job, you want them to do a job where they really use their strengths. And you want to have somebody else do the job where they’re really weak because if everybody’s operating where they’re strong, they’re going to be able to do a better job.

So let me tell you what my top ten strengths are. Number one strength is I’m a Learner. I showed you that picture of the office at home with books stacked up four feet high everywhere. I am a learner. Not only that, my number four strength is Input, which is lots and lots of information for learning. Thousands of books. But 7 out of the top 10 strengths are all in the category that they call Strategic, and what that means is all of that information turns itself into advice. All you have to do is poke me and out comes advice!

Imagine there’s a button, all you have to do is poke me, and I will give you advice whether you want it or not! And there are two reasons for this: That’s the way God made me. But that’s also what I learned from my father because that’s the way he was. My father became a junior high math teacher, and I very early learned not to ask him to help me with my homework. Now, you wouldn’t realize why, but it’s the exact same thing as with these CliftonStrengths. We would do the first problem, and my dad would look at me and say, “Well, let me tell you some of the history. This goes all the way back to an early mathematician named Pythagoras …” and about 20 minutes later, he would tell me how to work the problem. Because everything reminded him of something else, and everything that reminded him of something else reminded him of something else. And he was unable to give a short answer to any imaginable question.

And every Sunday morning, you have the same experience with his son! All you have to do is look at me and I will give you advice. Now, I’ve learned over the years to be much better at listening but I’m still not that great. All you have to do is poke me and not only comes out advice, but I try to recommend that you read certain books. That’s how I’m made.

But I want to say today, I think it’s a father thing to want to give advice. But we need that fatherness characteristic. Psalms 27:10 in the King James, it says it perfectly: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

And what I think that means is it refers to an entirely natural and gradual transition – because as you go through life, you start out thinking your mother and father are perfect and all-powerful. And as you go through life, they become more and more human. And eventually, whether it’s their nature to forsake their children, or it’s because of health issues or Alzheimer’s, and quite often death, there comes a point in time where your earthly mother and father can’t be there for you the way they are needed.

And what this psalm says to me is a promise that God flows into the places where earthly mothers and fathers are not able to do what their children need. And not only that, sometimes other people flow into those places as well. I’ve already mentioned teachers and coaches and others who we learn from. You see, when we’re little, we’re like that kid standing on top of the car in the picture – you need that hand? – to steady you. But you know something? If you don’t have a father, it’s okay if that’s the hand of an uncle. It’s okay that it’s the hand of an older brother. But as we go through life, we need somebody to steady us.

Also, as we go through life, eventually, we become the hand that’s steadies someone else. That is natural, and the best way for life to be. Let God be Father, wherever fathers fall short. Let God be Father and let influence happen.

As Isaiah 64:8 says, “Oh, Lord, thou art our father. We are the clay and thou art the potter. We are all the work of thy hand.” God will help shape your life. Let influence happen.

And in 1 Corinthians, Paul says, Let me be the father: “I do not write this to make you ashamed,” he says, “But to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me.” I want to remind us that it’s a wonderful thing for someone to love us with unconditional love. But a child is impoverished if no one makes them brush their teeth at night. We need, from time to time, some admonishment to make our bed, to pick up our stuff, to be better people. And if an earthly person doesn’t help you with that, you can let God be the father and let influence happen.

But don’t forget, Paul also said, “Be imitators of me,” because other people need this influence. Proverbs 3:1 talks about a father’s love: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and years of life, and abundant welfare will they give you. Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you, bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Fathers help us see the way from here to where we want to be, and we need that in our life. And if no one else provides it, God can provide it for you and for me. Let influence happen.

And so we come now to the prayer that Jesus taught us. The disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And what’s the very first thing Jesus said? “Pray like this:” the Scripture says, “Our Father…”

The way we pray is not “My Father” as if it was all about us, but this prayer in the way that Jesus wants us to pray, starts with recognizing that we receive God’s love, our Father, but also to remind us that we are not alone.

But the other thing that “Our Father” reminds us is this:

“You never say “Father” to a force. (Think Star Wars here.) You never say “Father” to a law or a group of rules. You never say “Father” to a mist or something happening in nature. You never say “Father” to a mile nor to infinite millions of miles in a line. “Father” is not the name for a thought apart from the Thinker, nor for friendship, apart from the Friend. When you say “Father,” we mean more than a symbol or a thought or an idea of a father. We mean by that word a living person. Charles Stanford said this. And he went on also to say, “When we open our mouths to pray, we are not speaking to an impersonal force or a great something out there, we are speaking to our Heavenly Father.” This is not a title that humans have chosen for God. It is a title He has chosen for himself. Of all the possible titles available – king, creator, mighty God, and a thousand more titles – God chose the personal sensitive relational term of Father.

And certainly, it’s true. If your earthly father, full of faults as human beings can be, is not a kind memory, Our Heavenly Father can fill those gaps and be what we have always needed in a Father.

But the other side of “Our Father” is this, as Josh Hunt pointed out: It’s worth noting that there are no singular pronouns in this prayer. We do not say my Father. We do not say give me this day my daily bread. We do not say lead me not into temptation. Whenever we ask for ourselves, according to the way Jesus asks us to pray, it always begins with the plural. It begins with Our Father, and the purpose of that I will suggest is this; when we pray, we must remember that we are part of God’s worldwide family of believers.

So, friends, I encourage you to begin your prayer exactly the way Jesus said we should. If it’s a wedding day filled with joy; Our Father, bless this couple. And the words Our Father remind us we are a part of their life, and they are a part of our life, because God the Father loves us both.

Well, it’s easy to pray on a day of joy, but you know something? It may be even more needed to pray on a day when a couple is angry and hurt with each other. Our Father, Lord, they’re a part of my family. Lord, they’re a part of each other. Our Father God, help them.

For someone who was in a hospital bed, you might be well, but when you pray Our Father, you ask God to be there with them in their time of need.

In a time of grief, you remind yourself that we are in the family with everyone who’s gone, but also with everyone who grieves: Our Father.

When we see a stranger, and we pray Our Father, they are no longer strangers. And if you recognize these strangers, do you know who that is? That’s my eight-year-old granddaughter, Damali. She’s about one year old in that picture, and that’s her mom. But when you pray Our Father, the connection between you and someone who’s a stranger becomes real.

There is no one who is alone or lonely that Jesus Christ does not care about them. And when we pray Our Father, we pray for them. We bring Jesus Christ into their loneliness.

There is no one who’s judgmental or cruel or who betrays us, but that Jesus Christ does not wish to forgive. And when we pray Our Father, we bring the power of God into their life and to work on negative aspects of it.

Not only that. There are people in this world that we just simply don’t understand, but you will never encounter anyone who Jesus Christ doesn’t love. And when you pray, Our Father, you open your hearts to them and ask God to be a part of their life.

There is no one who is anxious or struggling with a terrible need that Jesus Christ does not want to help. And you will never meet a person for whom Jesus Christ did not choose to die on the cross so that their life could be better. And we ask God to flow into their lives when we pray Our Father. So, therefore, Jesus says, and I hope we hear it., “Pray then like this: Our Father,” because no matter who we are we all need to come home. And we all need that kind of love in our life.

And if it is lacking in any way, I want to say God can fill the empty places in your heart and mind. I lost my father on a day in August of 2003. In so many ways, I have found myself wishing that I could ask him a question or I could get his advice or hear him tell me a story that is way too long. But I have taught myself that where he can’t be present, God can fill those empty places.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we love those who love us unconditionally just as we are. We love those who love us and ask us to do better and to grow up and to learn. Lord, we pray on this Father’s Day that you would be the father that guides us through the valley of the shadow of death. That you would be the father that guides us to green pastures and still waters, and the best that life can be here on this Earth. Lord Jesus, we thank you that God the Father is ready to be a father to us wherever we need that. Lord, we ask that God the Father would be real to us 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 Road, 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.

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

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