June 9, 2024, Walk This Way Our Promises To Keep, Pentecost 4

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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, 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 374 Standing On The Promises
Alan Jackson – Standing On The Promises Of God (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YQXiQfEjqs

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − 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 395 Take Time To Be Holy!
TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY | Jehovah Shalom Acapella 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5WdYUNLcRs

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: Walk This Way: Our Promises To Keep
Text: Matthew 4:16-22, 28:18-20
Series: The Final Four

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

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 4:16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb’edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

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HYMN 467 Trust and Obey
TRUST AND OBEY – LSQ – The Living Stones Quartet
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suXUg0dLsAo

BENEDICTION

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

(Some of the words in this message are drawn from “The Services of the Baptismal Covenant of The United Methodist Church as Revised to Align with the 2008 Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions,” Copyright ©1976, 1980, 1985, 1989, 2009 The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.“ Source: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/book-of-worship/the-baptismal-covenant-i )

For the past few months, we’ve been talking about God’s will being done right here and right now. And as God’s will is done, God’s kingdom will come right here and right now because Jesus Christ, more and more, will be the Lord of our lives and our community.

And that’s why we prayed this at the beginning of church. It’s all about following Jesus. And so we say, “Lord, thank you that there’s a path to follow.” If you’re familiar with the picture you’re looking at, there is a wooden walkway leading through all this greenery. But this comes from the salt marshes of the east coast of the United States. On either side of that walkway, there’s a swamp. If you take a turn to the right or the left and step off the path, you’re going to be in mud up to your knees or maybe more. We want to stay on the path. Lord, we want to follow you. And so we pray, help us to stay on the path. Thank you for providing a path that helps our feet to be steady. Thank you for providing us with guidance, with providence, which means that God is taking care of us as we go along the path, and with protection. God protects us as we stay on the path.

On the other hand, as I get older, I’m aware that some paths are a little different. Here’s a path that is a series of steps. Now, the whole point, as you know, is we want to get to the top. We want to get to where the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. And when we’re younger, we might run up these steps without even touching the banister. But I’ve found at age 69, I need the banister a lot more than I used to. And sometimes, I’ll actually use it to pull me up and pull me forward.

So, you see, when you’re on a pathway, you have two choices. The first choice is to watch where you’re going. But the second choice is to watch your step. Because sometimes the steps are uneven, sometimes the steps are broken, and sometimes the way is difficult.

The smartest thing they told me in driver’s ed in high school was that when you’re going down the highway, you need to look where you want the car to go. Now, your eyes flicker over here to this side, and your eyes flicker over there to that side, and your eyes also occasionally flicker to the speedometer. But the car goes where you’re looking. And if you focus too much on the ditch, you’re going to end up in the ditch. So you need to pay attention to where we all want to be.

And I think for 10 years, and I don’t think it’s been a bad thing, but for 10 years, I’ve asked you to focus not on the big picture as much as on the next step. Because you know something? All of us are different. The next step will be different for each one of us. Some of us, God wants us to change and do less of something. Others of us, God wants us to change and do a little more of something. Sometimes God’s will for your life at this step is something as small as getting up a little earlier in the morning. Sometimes the thing that is God’s will for you is as small as you being a little nicer to a certain person. And you know something? If you do each little thing well, you’re going to be at the top of those steps in no time. But if you slip and fall, roll down the steps the wrong way, it’s because you missed something that was little. Most accidents are caused by some little thing. And I always say to myself, when I have an accident, I should have paid attention. But if you pay attention to the next step, whatever it is in your spiritual life, whatever it is that God wants you to do, that’s perfect for you.

Now, the problem is somebody else has a different step than you. By the way, have you noticed how thick my glasses are? I am actually legally blind when I take them off. I didn’t find that out until I tried to join the Air Force in 1975. And the doctor said, “Son, you could just go home. You are too blind to serve.” But you see, when you look at your “step” and try to tell someone else that that’s what they have to do, the problem is that’s a little bit like me saying, “Here, if you can’t see, put these on. These glasses work great for me.” Unfortunately, they won’t work well for you.

So two things. We want to keep the big picture where we’re going in mind, but we don’t want to forget the little steps. And as I’ve said, I’ve talked to you about little steps for 10 years. Today, I want to talk about the big picture and ways to imagine and understand the big picture.

We have a liturgy. We have a series of promises that we make when we are baptized and when we join the church. And you, as a congregation, have promises that you make to people who are being baptized and joining the church. So, let’s look at those promises because they’re a big picture.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the sacrament of baptism, we are, one, initiated into Christ’s holy church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All of this is God’s gift offered to us without price.

Something happens in a person’s life the day they’re baptized. They have resources, spiritual resources that they did not have before. They become a part of God’s family. They become a part of God’s mighty acts of salvation. And they receive a gift from God.

Now, later, as life goes on, there’s a time for commitment We call that commitment confirmation for young people. But another way to say it is the reaffirmation of our faith. You and I can renew the commitment that we make to God at any time and any day. And consequently, in a few minutes, we’re going to be talking about the commitments that people make when they join the church. But I’m going to ask every single person here, if you’re willing to do so, to recommit your life, to reaffirm your faith by also answering and making the same commitments and promises. In other words, we’ll do this together.

And through confirmation and the reaffirmation of our faith, we do three things. First of all, we renew the agreement, the holy agreement, the covenant that was made at our baptism, we acknowledge what God is doing for us today, and we affirm our commitment to the church that we’re a part of. Those are big-picture things. In Matthew 4:16, it says, “At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. For those who sat in the region in the shadow of death, light has dawned.” And from that time, in other words, beginning at that time and on through all of his ministry up to today, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

You see, friends, there are things that should be different about our life. Now, it’s possible that there’s someone here who’s perfect. And if you are here and you are perfect, I want to meet you because you should be up here doing this, and I will listen to you. But the reality is we’re all on the way. Step by step, God is asking us to live a different way, different for each of us in that moment.

But the big picture of what it means to repent has to do with these questions. Now, if you’ve been in a wedding, you know where it says, “I do,” you say, “I do.” And because I want to encourage all of us who would like to do so to reaffirm our faith that we all join in when it’s time to say, “I do.” Later on, not to confuse you, there’s a place where you will say, “I will.” But we’re all in this together today. So here, I have this question which describes the big picture at the top of the stairs where we’re all wanting to go. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness? Do you reject the evil powers of this world? And do you repent of your sin, wishing that your life had been different and that you could do what God wants you to do? And if that is your desire, please say, “I do.”
I do.

Now, here’s the truth. God’s going to help you with that. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil? You don’t have to do what evil says. To resist injustice – you don’t have to do what injustice says. To resist oppression – you don’t have to do what the oppressors and the dictators and the evil people of this world want you to do. And you can resist them in whatever forms they present themselves because of God’s help. If you would like God’s help to live this kind of life, please say, “I do.”
I do.

That’s what it means to repent. And those questions are available to remind you what it means anytime they can be helpful.

Now, right after the verse where it talks about Jesus saying that he began to preach for people to repent, this happens: as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea. And he said to them, “Follow me.” Now, what follow me means is, “I’m going this way. You don’t want to go that way. Will you go the direction I go? Will you listen to the things I say? Will you do what I ask you to do? Will you follow me?” And Jesus says this, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In other words, I’m going to help you help other people to follow. And notice their decision in verse 20: Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. They did not know where they were going. They just knew that they wanted to be with Jesus and were willing to change what they wished to do to what he wished, just to be with him.

Here are the big-picture questions for what it means to follow Jesus, the profession of our faith. So I want to ask you this, do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior? Do you put your whole trust in His grace? And do you promise to serve Him as your Lord, not all by yourself, but in union with the church which Christ is open to people of all ages, nations, and races. And if that’s your desire, would you say I do?
I do.

Now, according to the grace given to you, in other words, as God helps you, according to the grace given to you, will you remain faithful members of Christ’s Holy Church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world? And if that’s your desire, please say, “I will.”
I will.

If you do those things, you will be a long way to reaching the top. Now, these questions, basically, Landon is asked. Paisley is asked. But we’ve all joined together. And then, of course, it repeats, just in case you missed it. I want to ask the congregation, do you, as Christ’s body, the church, do you reaffirm both your rejection of sin? And do you reaffirm your commitment to Christ? And if that’s your desire, please say, “We do.”
We do.

And so here’s the task that is asked of the church. Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith? Will you be a help for a person to do God’s will, not a hindrance? And will you particularly nurture the young people, Landon and Paisley, who are now before you, and take care of them spiritually? And if that’s your wish, I’d like to ask you to join me in making this commitment:

With God’s help, we’ll proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ. We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness that they may grow in their trust of God and be found faithful in their service to others. We will pray for them that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life. And you see, this is a clear indicator of what the church is supposed to do. And it helps us stay on track and stay on the path.

The faith is not only what we do, it’s also what we believe. So let me ask you these questions.

Let us join together in professing the Christian faith is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Do you believe in God the Father? I believe in God the Father, almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

These are the basic facts about the life of Jesus Christ. But if you ever have a question about what they mean, I would love to attempt to answer that question.

Finally, do you believe in the Holy Spirit? I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. These are the basic facts of what God does to us and through us in the church.

And you notice there, the word in blue, catholic. I should take a minute to explain what that means. The word in front of this church is Methodist. And that assumes that we’re methodical and organized. There’s a church down the street, the word in front of their name is Christian, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only Christian church. And a little further down the street, the word in front of a church is Catholic. And that word catholic means universal. What it’s referring to is all Christians everywhere. You see, friends, we’re in this business of serving God, not just with Methodists. We’re in this business of serving God with all people who are Christian everywhere, all around the world. And that’s what that word, catholic, means there. Catholic with a small “c”.

And now it’s time for a baptism.

Paisley’s folks are standing with her. Anyone else who wants to come up can also stand with her. And wherever you are, you can express your wish and your prayer for her by extending your hand toward her. Lord Jesus, we have water here. Water cleanses. Water quenches our thirst. Water brings us life. And so, Lord, I pray that this water of baptism would be living water that would bring life to Paisley as she’s baptized today. Amen.

Paisley, I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son of Jesus Christ and in the name of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Following are these words of confirmation: Lord, we pray that the Holy Spirit would work within Paisley, within you, Paisley, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may always be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. And all the people of God agreed in prayer: Amen.

Trent is not feeling well today, so we will baptize him at another time.

Now, you make promises to Paisley as a part of her being baptized. You see, she’s been adopted. She’s now adopted into God’s family and adopted into our church family; that’s what the word initiated means. So here’s our promise to Paisley: now it is our joy to welcome our new sister in Christ. Through baptism, you are incorporated by the Holy Spirit into God’s new creation and made to share in Christ’s royal priesthood. We are all one in Christ Jesus. With joy and thanksgiving, we welcome you as a member of the family of Christ. Welcome, Paisley. Welcome.

Landon has already been baptized, so you have already said these words to him. But the words of confirmation are words that we say today, [and?] I invite you to stand up and invite your family to stand around you if they want, put their hands on your shoulders if they want. Landon, it’s our prayer that the Holy Spirit will work within you, that being born through water and the Holy Spirit, you might always be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. And the whole church says: amen.
[silence]

And for all of you, it’s also my prayer that the Holy Spirit would work within you, that being born through the spirit and growing as a Christian person, that you may always be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

We joined the United Methodist Church, which is over 8 million people all around the world. We are a part of a great worldwide family. So as members of Christ’s Universal Church, I want to ask Paisley and Landon, but I also want to ask those of you who would wish to reaffirm your faith this question: Will you be loyal to Christ through the United Methodist Church and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries? And if that’s your will and wish, please say, “I will.”
I will.

And then there is this church right here, where you’re a part of a specific church. Members of Wesley Church with us today, I want to ask you to reaffirm your faith and commitment to Wesley Church. Friends from Kinmundy, I want to ask you to reaffirm your faith and your commitment to this specific church. As members of this congregation or the Wesley congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness? And if you are willing to serve in that way, please say, “I will.”
I will.

Now, a brief explanation. Prayers are pretty obvious. The other people in this room need your prayers. Presence is pretty obvious. There’s a need to show up. Gifts is pretty obvious. The lights are on. The work is done because of your financial gifts and your support. Your Service; I’m thankful for Jaret and Kathy to provide music. I’m thankful for Jared who’s helping with the AV. I’m thankful for the ways we serve together. And witness means that when it’s time, we are willing and able to speak and talk to others about our faith.

This church can only thrive if we do all these things. And so we’ve described the big picture, and we’ve come to the part of welcoming Paisley and Landon and welcoming each other.

So members of the household of God, today I commend Landon and Paisley (and everyone else in this room) to your love and care. And I ask you to do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love. And here’s our promise to each other. Let’s join together.

We give thanks for all that God has already given you. And we welcome you in Christian love as members together with you in the body of Christ and in this congregation of the United Methodist Church, renew our covenant faithfully to participate in the ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Well, pastor, you might say, you’re reminding us all to take care of each other. What’s the scripture for that? And here it is, Jesus’ last words before rising up into heaven. Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In other words, God has put Jesus in charge. And now that Jesus is in charge, he looks at the disciples and says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, of all kinds of people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

And then, look at verse 20: teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Watching over each other involves helping one another learn to do all that jesus asked us to do.

And so, watching over and taking care of one another in this very particular way, we are all moving to the beautiful place above those dark stairs. What helps us to get there is to teach each other to observe everything that Jesus asked us to do. And that’s what each step is – a command of Jesus. And we help each other take those steps.”

So, we have two choices. If the steps are troublesome, you need to hang on to the banister and watch your step. But never forget where we are heading, that beautiful place of everything being done as God wants it to be done.

And so you have two choices. Friends, take both. Choose both. Lord Jesus, as we follow You, sometimes we’ll be on the steps and we’ll need to watch our feet because it will be easy to stumble. It will be easy to trip. Sometimes being a Christian person is difficult. But Lord, help us never to lose sight of where we are going. Because, Lord, You have walked each step in front of us. Help us to move out of darkness into your beautiful light. 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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