September 24, 2023, See You Tomorrow, Pentecost 17

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.)

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow;  Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation. 
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

HYMN Amazing Grace
Alan Jackson – Amazing Grace (Official Music Video)

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 and filled with 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 Majesty, Worship His Majesty
Bill & Gloria Gaither – Majesty (Live)

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: See You Tomorrow
Text Romans 8: 31 – 39
Guest Speaker: Rev. Ed Weston
Development Director for the Preachers’ Aid Society and Benefit Fund

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audio


Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; 34 who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

OUR GUEST PREACHER: Retired pastor Rev. Ed Weston serves as Development Director for the Preachers’ Aid Society and Benefit Fund. For over 150 years, the Preachers’ Aid Society and Benefit Fund has provided retired clergy of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, their spouses, and any dependent children with tangible and emotional support through counseling, consultation and fellowship. Our quality assistance programs meet their comprehensive needs from eldercare and insurance to legal and financial needs in retirement.

Edward R. Weston has a BS in Business Administration, a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Business Administration. He has 43 years of local church work, including numerous building and fund raising campaigns. He also holds the Executive Certificate in Religious Fund Raising, Planned Giving, and Major Gifts from the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. In addition to his local church work, Ed was instrumental in the development of the United Methodist Village Retirement Communities in Godfrey, Illinois. Ed also serves as a Trustee for McKendree University in Lebanon, IL. Rev. Weston is available for consultation on different methods of making tax deductible gifts to PASBF, including Charitable Gift Annuities, IRA’s, Stocks, Life Insurance, Wills and Estates.


HYMN He Touched Me
Gaither Vocal Band – He Touched Me [Live]

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!


As I travel across our big Annual Conference, I need to ask the question sometimes, “Do we have any Cubs fans here today?” One…God bless you…any Cardinal fans?

I grew up in Granite City, just barely across the river from St. Louis. I’ve been around long enough that I’ve been to all 3 of the Cardinal baseball stadiums; I’ve been in each one. It’s a great pastime of mine. I’ve loved baseball since I was a little kid. If you would look real close, you’ll see my tie even says St. Louis across it. I’m an avid fan of the Cardinals.

I want to share with you a story. It was kind of an odd way that baseball impacted me. It was game 6 of the 2011 World Series. My wife and I were there. If you remember that game, the first 5 innings of that game were not played very well. I think there were 6 errors, 3 on each team. It felt like I was at a Little League game. It looked like it would be who was going to lose, rather than who was going to win. Now, if you remember the story, as it kept going towards the end of the game, the Cardinals seemed like they were always behind, and they’d come up with 2 strikes, 2 outs, and someone would come through at the very last second with a single or double, and they’d tie the game up. As it went into extra innings, it would happen again. Then, the bottom of the 11th was historic. David Freese came up, and he hit this long, towering home run to dead center field, 410 feet. Now I’ve been to a lot of games, but I’ve never been to a game that exciting. The place went crazy. The stadium, I kid you not, it literally shook, it was vibrating with celebration.

We were sitting on the 2nd tier and behind us was one of those private party rooms. There was a TV in there, right behind my head, and somehow, in the midst of all that celebration and the yelling and screaming, and I was doing a lot of that, I admit … in spite of it all, 3 or 4 words came from that TV straight to me. You can go online and look at this, right after David Freese hit that homerun, Joe Buck, the announcer, very simply says this: “See you tomorrow night.” This struck me in a very odd place. The Cardinals had already robbed Texas numerous times of a victory, and of course, they went on and won the next night, but hearing those words, it struck through my heart and became a mantra for me. I realized that “See you tomorrow” summed up my faith, my Christian journey.

Let me share a little bit about that today:

I have to admit that my first 2 years in seminary (I have to say this nicely), weren’t very historic, they were almost disastrous. Three weeks into the 4th semester, the Dean’s secretary came into the class and asked me to come up and see the Dean. I went in and he said, “Ed, we made a mistake. You are on academic probation, and we should have told you before this semester started, but you can’t take the classes now; we are going to put you into these other classes.”

So, I made up my mind that maybe this wasn’t where I needed to be in school. I’d never had any academic issues before. I found out later, in some defense of some of the teachers, there was an internal conflict going on between the teachers and the administration, and the administration and the Board. It was playing out deeply inside the classrooms. There were about 10 of us caught in the middle. I made my decision that I needed to go somewhere else if I was going to finish my education, and I transferred out to Kansas City, our school of Theology out there. That summer, as I went out there and began working in a church, I had a lot of time to think and struggle and realized that maybe God wasn’t calling me into the ministry. Maybe I’d heard the call wrong. So I made up my mind that after the first quarter of school, if I didn’t do well, I was going to pack it up, come back to Illinois, and go into the business field, where my education was.

At the end of the first quarter, you had to go into what we call the orals, and that is what I’d blown at the last school. I went in, and there were two professors I had, another professor I didn’t know, and several members of our Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. I didn’t know they were coming. It was kind of the grand inquisition, in a way. Before I got in there, as I crossed the campus, I made up my mind that if this didn’t work out, I was going home today. I knew I could pack everything in my little car, as I didn’t have much, some clothes, my typewriter (typewriters back then, no computer). I could throw everything into the car and be back in Illinois in five hours.

As I got to the building and opened the door to head upstairs, my friend Fred came flying down the steps. He hits the door about the time I open it, and I ask him, “How’d it go, Fred?” He said, “It went great!” You know when somebody says something and you know you shouldn’t ask them more information , but you do anyway? He said, “Guess what I heard?” and I said, “What?” He said that out of the 31 in our class, 10 had failed it completely, 11 had to rewrite the ethics paper, and only 10 had passed. Do you know what kind of encouragement that gave me going up those stairs into that classroom? I trudged up there, sat in the middle of the room for this grand inquisition, and they got started. My theology professor was Bill Lee, one of the most brilliant people I have ever been around in my life. The ethics professor was John Swamley, and he was very intelligent, but he had a certain way that you had to write for him and only for him. So I got in there, scared to death. As soon as they fail me, I’m out the door. I’m not going to waste 90 minutes …

Bill Lee asked me the first question about something I wrote on page 13, and I explained it. He said that’s what we thought. You could’ve explained it differently, but that’s no big deal. I’m literally shaking in my boots and just sitting there waiting for the hammer to come down. No one says anything and they are just looking around. Finally, Bill Lee says, “Ed, we should have told you when you came in that you passed. You got an A on your paper, one of the top three that were submitted.”

After that, I didn’t care what they said. To my surprise, they didn’t talk about my paper anymore. They began to ask me about my educational experience at the other seminary. Bill Lee said, “We have to ask you a question. We don’t understand what was going on because you have done so well on your paper … We received a letter from the Dean of Students at the other school, and we want to read you a part of it.” It had to do with my transcripts. I never failed another class over there, and everything transferred. But in the midst of the letter, the Dean of Students said this: “Ed Weston is not fit for Christian ministry.” That was my recommendation.

Now I’m not so sure there haven’t been some churches, bishops or district superintendents that thought the very same thing about me over the years, but that was a rude awakening. The rest of that 90-minute conversation had nothing to do with my credo, it had to do with what happened, what I was going through, what I was feeling. It became a counseling, healing time for me. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me about any other parts of my paper. But at the end of time, I will never forget, Bill Lee was sitting there and asked if there were any other questions. There were none, so he concluded by saying, “I’ll see you in class tomorrow.” Again, a reaffirmation of my calling to the ministry. You see, I knew my feet were planted in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I knew in that moment when he said, “See you tomorrow,” that my call to ministry was real and that I was doing what God wanted me to do.

In my sixth year of ministry at Belleville Union, the congregation that I retired from, we completed a renovation of a 12,000 sq ft building next door to us, and we connected it with our main facility. We finished all of that in June of 2002. The first Sunday of August, August 4, 2002, I was home in the afternoon and received a call, “The church is on fire!” I rushed up and watched as our newest addition was destroyed by arson. I can tell you it was heartbreaking. The main building was flooded with smoke and water. My office was in the new addition and my 30 years of library, sermons, and personal items were gone in the fire. We had all the major TV stations over in front of us. We were the biggest entertainment for 15 minutes in Belleville. Each of them ended up interviewing me at one point or the other. The fire was just about out around 10:00, and I was going to go back home and get ready for the next day, and one of the reporters … (you’ve seen them on TV, microphone in your face, camera right on you, asking questions) … Now I’m not saying that she did, but at a time that I was tired and hot, it sounded like she was being real sarcastic when she asked me, “Well, what are you going to do tomorrow?”

All I can say is it was power of the Holy Spirit giving me the strength to say this, I told her I was coming to work. That even though the office was destroyed and we were out of our building, I was going to show up and figure out the next step for our church. I said, “You see, evil may have destroyed our offices and damaged our sanctuary and educational building,” and I said this on TV, “but evil had not touched the church. That the Body of Christ was alive, and that we, as the Body of Christ, just needed to get together and worship. That the fire on Sunday was not going to stop the church on Monday. I will be here tomorrow.” You see, I knew I was standing firm in God’s grace. I knew that through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. It was grace that has brought me safe thus far, and I knew grace would lead me home.

Over 15 years ago, my father took ill on his 87th birthday. The three kids and our spouses were at the house for a luncheon with my dad. He wasn’t feeling very well. My wife’s a nurse, and she went over to check on him, as he didn’t even come to the table to eat. She said he needed to go to the hospital. I rode in the ambulance with him to the hospital, and I stayed all night. The next morning, a Sunday, I got up early there at the hospital and went in and told my dad that my mother and my brother were coming in, that I had to go work. Of course, he joked about the fact that as a preacher, I only worked that one hour a week, one day a week, and so I let him laugh at me; that was okay. As I was getting ready to go, I told him I loved him and that Nancy and I would be back that afternoon. He said don’t worry, just come tomorrow, and that’ll be fine. I left.

I got to church that morning, and it just so happened that our associate pastor was scheduled to preach that Sunday. God has a way of working things out. I know that beyond my limited experience. Ten minutes before the service started, my phone rang. I looked at it, and it was my brother. I answered it. He said, “You need to get back to the hospital; Dad’s failing.” I called my wife since I hadn’t seen her yet. She was pulling into the parking lot; I told her to pick me up. I got into her car, and we rushed down to Granite City, about 30 minutes away, but it was too late. My father had already passed peacefully into the presence of God. They were waiting for Nancy and I to get there. So we went into his room, and we each said goodbye. I said a prayer with my family around my father’s bed. I was the last to leave, and I told him as I was leaving, “See you tomorrow.” I knew what kind of faith he had, what kind of belief he had, and the trust he had in Jesus Christ, and I knew that the moment he died, he went to be with God forevermore. I also realized, “See you tomorrow.”

That’s the hope we all have. The world will never defeat God. Death never has the last word. When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.

About 15 years ago, we were taking a trip up to Door County. I ended up finding out the pain of kidney stones. I’d never had them before, and they are not fun when you are that far away from home. Came home and ended up with a urologist. You know, today I’ve got more friends that are doctors than I do anybody else, you know how that is. My phone is full of doctors.

I went back right as I was retiring for my annual appointment; no big deal. I went in, and he said, “Ed, I think something is wrong.” He did a biopsy, and three days later, he called and told me I had Stage 2 prostate cancer. Here, I had just retired and started this new career. I had things I wanted to do and continue on a different kind of ministry. I met with the surgeon and decided on radical removal. The first week of August, I had the surgery. The worst thing was I couldn’t drive. My wife had to hide my car keys, as she was still working and I couldn’t drive. I sat around the house, about to drive me nuts. I need to share with you that I never had any pain before; I never had any pain from the incisions. It was just unbelievable.

Wednesday afternoon, five days after my surgery, I’ll never forget, 4:30 in the afternoon, my phone rang. I look at it. It’s the doctor’s office. When I answer the phone, it’s my surgeon. I have high regard for him; he called me himself. He asked how I was feeling, I felt no pain, good, and went through the normal doctor stuff. The kind of cancer I had could’ve spread to the lymph nodes or the brain, all kinds of possibilities. He said, “We got the test results back, and we got all the cancer.” I asked if I would need radiation, which was the next follow-up. He said no. “Am I going to need chemo treatments?” He said, “No, Ed, we got it all. You’re cancer-free.” And then he said these marvelous words to me, he said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

See, I had an appointment at 9:00 the next morning. This doctor could have waited until the next morning to tell me that. I slept a lot better, I’ll tell you, that Wednesday night. I got on the phone and told my wife. “You know what he said? He said, ‘See you tomorrow.’”

“See you tomorrow.” What marvelous words those are that have shaped my faith. Then I look at the cross, and I think back about how Jesus was falsely accused. He was whipped; he was beaten. He was forced to lug this huge cross, this instrument of death, through the streets. Then they laid it down, and they nailed him to that cross, and they lifted it up; what a horrible, horrible way to die. But he did it. Because of God’s grace. Because of God’s love for His people.

According to John, His last statement from the cross was, “It is finished.” He bowed His head and died. Jesus said IT is finished. I went back, and I studied that quite a bit. If you read those words, Jesus did NOT say, “I” am finished. He did not say, “I” am retiring. He said IT is finished. I realize what He was saying is that through Him, death is overcome. Sin has been redeemed. Salvation is possible for all.

I think Jesus was saying, “See you tomorrow!”

That is the Good News we celebrate each and every week. We celebrate the fact that on Easter, He rose from the grave, and He lives forevermore. “See you tomorrow” is God’s loud shout throughout all of history.

“See you tomorrow!” See, this world belongs to God. This church belongs to God. I belong to God, and I stand in His grace. Nothing, not all the powers of earth, the powers of heaven, NOTHING will ever separate me from God’s love. I belong to God, and I stand in His grace.

“See you tomorrow!” See, tomorrow is where God’s kingdom is. Tomorrow is where God always will be. Tomorrow is where God is waiting for me, whether on earth or in heaven. See, tomorrow is where God lives. “See you tomorrow!”

Let us pray. Lord, we thank you again for this church and its ministry. We thank you for this beautiful building and for all that are gathered here today. Lord, we thank you most of all for your love that was shown when you allowed your Son to die on the cross for our salvation; and even though He said that “IT” is finished, we knew that His work and the church’s were never finished. And so today, we are grateful for all the tomorrows that you have given us. We just ask that you send us forth today, that we may be your people wherever we are, and that we can share the Good News that no matter who we are or what we have done, you still give us a tomorrow. All of this we pray in Jesus’ precious name, 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 )

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