posted on February 28
qWolcott and Binghamville
United Methodist Churches
2nd Sunday of Lent
February 28, 2021 - 10:00 a.m.
(Led from the Wolcott UMC)
GATHERING AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
PRELUDE: Bringing in the Light of Christ
CALL TO WORSHIP: (based on Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16;
Mark 8:31-38; Romans 4:13-25)
L: Pilgrims, we are invited to journey through this season of Lent
P: towards the One who calls us each by a new name.
L: Disciples, we walk with Jesus wherever he leads us,
P: pulling our fears, our doubts, our longings behind us.
L: Believers, we seek to trust the God who always surprises us,
P: whose promises take on flesh and blood
in the good news called Jesus.
OPENING HYMN: “Guide Me O, Thou Great Jehovah” UMH#127
OPENING PRAYER (A Gathering Meditation on Romans 4:13-25 - Linda Furtado):
I can’t say wrong and right is black and white when black
is darkness and beauty and death, and white is blinding and
pure and even the emptiness of this page. Without these
black letters stamped on white paper, we might forget that
we all matter in God’s eyes. Working together page after
page requires trusting God’s will and God’s way. Only by
God’s way. Only by God’s grace will the mixing and matching
of our hues do more than reveal our imperfections. If we
believe that God’s creative vision is on-point, then the most
versatile, righteous, and perfect Redeemer may just have a
chance to make righteous the rips, broken places, and old
stains that we wrongly thought defined our worth. It is no
wonder that God decided to make many nations. One
color is boring and not worth the time and attention.
OFFERING: “Spirit Of The Living God” UMH#393
Offertory Prayer (in unison):
God of all, you love us and have claimed us. As you
blessed Sarah and Abraham, you have invited us
into the blessing of connection within the family of
humanity whom you continue to bless. We give our
tithes and offerings in celebration of the depths of
our blessing and pray that they will strengthen the
church across the world to bless all your children.
In the holy name of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer,
we pray in gratitude. Amen. (Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16)
WORD AND RESPONSE:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 God’s covenant with Abraham
17 When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and
said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy.
2 I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many,
many descendants.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God said to him,
4 “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of
many nations. 5 And because I have made you the ancestor of many
nations, your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham. 6 I will
make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will
come from you. 7 I will set up my covenant with you and your
descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant.
I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you.
Romans 4:13–25 Abraham’s promise is
received through faith
13 The promise to Abraham and to his descendants, that he would
inherit the world, didn’t come through the Law but through the
righteousness that comes from faith. 14 If they inherit because of the
Law, then faith has no effect and the promise has been canceled.
canceled. 15 The Law brings about wrath. But when there isn’t any law,
there isn’t any violation of the law. 16 That’s why the inheritance
comes through faith, so that it will be on the basis of God’s grace.
In that way, the promise is secure for all of Abraham’s descendants,
not just for those who are related by Law but also for those who are
related by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us.
17 As it is written. “I have appointed you to be the father of many nations.”
So Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in whom he had faith,
the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist
into existence. 18 When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the
hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping
with the promise God spoke to him, “That’s how many descendants
you will have.” 19 Without losing faith, Abraham, who was nearly
100 years old, took into account his own body, which was as good as
dead, and Sarah’s womb, which was dead. 20 He didn’t hesitate with
a lack of faith in God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith and gave
glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God was able to do what
he promised. 22 Therefore, it was credited to him as righteousness.
23 But the scripture that says, “it was credited to him,” wasn’t written only
for Abraham’s sake. 24 It was written also for our sake, because it is
going to be credited to us too. It will be credited to those of us who
have faith in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He
was handed over because of our mistakes, and he was raised to
to meet the requirements of righteousness for us.
31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer
many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal
experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.”
32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him,
began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then
sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking
God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” 34 After calling the crowd together
with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me
must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who
want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because
of me and because of the good news will save them. 36 Why would people
gain the whole world but lose their lives? 37 What will people give in
exchange for their lives? 38 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in
this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of
that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
L: May God’s Word give light to our path and strength for our living.
P: Thanks be to God.
Song for Illumination: “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” UMH#500
The Message: “Intervention”
Some forty years ago, I was attending school for music. There were
numerous majors: one for each instrument, voice, education,
performance, theory and musicology. Each and every one of us
understood the reason for each major, we understood the calling
each one of us had for our preferred instrument. We understood
the reason for music education, the reason for theory, the reason
for performance. We understood the theory majors, who also had
some sort of major instrument that accompanied their program.
What we struggled with, however, was the instrument that got the
musicology students into the program. They never seemed to be
in any ensemble, no one seemed to know what instrument they
auditioned on. Not that there were a vast number of students in
that program. There was some thought that their major instrument
was the record player. It is due to one of these “record player
majors” that we owe the recording of a lot of indigenous and
early American music, world music and revealing the histories
of various songs and hymns.
Sometimes I have a hard time feeling inspired to write on the
Scriptures of the day. I came to today's message fully prepared to
expound on Abram's descendants, counting stars in the sky or
grains of sand on the beach. I thought about telling you about
various travels Laurie and I had taken in which we saw vast
amounts of sand or a star filled sky in some of the parts of this
country which don't have light pollution masking the
majesty of the night sky.
There are other forms of 'descendants' of Abraham, not just the
metaphor of the uncountable things like stars and grains of sand.
Paul, in today's passage, reminds us that we come to Jesus not
through the law, but through faith. He uses Abraham's experience
with faith as an example of what we are called to do.
That faith is played out in various ways. For many of us, evangelism,
reaching out to others to tell the stories of Jesus and spreading
the joys of love, is how we express that faith. Some research the
history of our faith, some interpret scripture, some write hymns
and songs, still others translate the scriptures into other
languages, refining each translation into more easily understood
versions for specific populations to be able to relate to.
Our Bible has had literally thousands of translations into
thousands of languages. Historians don't consider a fact of history a
fact unless they can put their hands on a source document that can
prove that fact. The source documents for our bible are the dead
sea scrolls, that were first transcribed, by hand, by a religious
group known as the Essenes.
The Essenes transcribed the stories of the Bible onto scrolls, then
hid them in caves in the Dead Sea region, covering the hiding
places with plaster to keep their recorded history from being
plundered and destroyed when the Romans moved into the area.
The scrolls had been transcribed into Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic,
the language that Jesus is believed to have spoken.
For musicologists, hearing is believing. In other words, unless they
see a piece of music in a source document that can actually be
reproduced in a manner such that the ear can hear it, then and only
then is the music real. Otherwise, it is only rumored to be music.
In the process of finding the right music for today's service, the
'true' story of how 'I Have Decided to Follow Jesus' came to be kept
popping up. There was some indication, from the pictures
advertising the 'real' story that the words and tune may have come
from somewhere in India.
I have certain criteria for selecting hymns, especially if I am using
You Tube as my source. First, the recording has to be pretty clean,
easy to hear. Second, I like to select recordings that have an
ethnic mix of musicians. This being black history month, I have treated
you to a number of groups that were primarily of African heritage.
My curiosity piqued, I set out on my search for how 'I Have Decided
to Follow Jesus' came to appear in hymnals. I avoided the You
Tube stories, since authorship might be, shall we say, tainted,
and went to Google search.
The first article to pop up was, of course, Wikipedia. I avoid
Wikipedia articles since I have learned that authorship, like on
You Tube, can be tainted and scrolled down a little bit. I didn't
have to scroll very far.
I quickly discovered what was probably the most scholarly article
available on the hymn. “when what to my wondering eyes should
appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, with a little
old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St.
Nick!” (C. Clement Moore; The Night Before Christmas).
Indeed, that was how I felt. You see, under the search heading
“History of Hymns: 'I Have Decided to Follow Jesus', Discipleship
Ministries had that very article, researched by C. Michael Hawn.
Mr. Hawn had a thoroughly researched article presenting all of
the known stories of how the hymn came to be. You see, the melody
can be sung with an underlying drone, similar to bagpipes that
seemed to indicate a style of music typically heard in India.
There was one story, that you can probably easily find on You Tube, that
tells a Job-like tale of a man who refuses to renounce his faith in Jesus,
even as he watches his family being slaughtered by the village chieftain,
supposedly crying out the words to the hymn to maintain his faith.
Interestingly, that story was recounted by an Indian author whose
last name was, curiously enough, Job. Mr. Hawn could not locate
any source documents indicating that story to be true nor could
he find a copy of Job's book in which the story was reported
to have first appeared in.
Mr. Hawn traced down two other accounts of Indians who may
have authored the hymn, the most plausible story surrounding a
pastor named Simon Kara Marak, who spread the gospel in
the Assam region of Northeast India. Seems he made up the
words and melody as he walked from village to village. The melody
was in the style of a morning meditation, one which parents
might share with their children as a way of bringing them gently
into the sunshine each day.
It was through his daughters that the hymn came to be spread
throughout India and from there, the world.
You can read the entire article on the Discipleship Ministries website
under 'History of Hymns'.
These past several weeks, I have felt like a musicology student.
I have dropped the needle on countless versions of hymns, selecting
only a few to place before this congregation. To me, these hymns have
been as uncountable as Abraham's descendants. To me, this has been
a large part of my faith journey through this pandemic.
Paul tells us that we move forward as Christians through faith,
not through the law. Even Paul admits, in this passage of his letter
to the Romans, that the law brings wrath. As we move forward
through faith, let us enjoy the uncountable ways in which that
faith can be made manifest.
Hymn: “I Have Decided, To Follow Jesus” TFWS#2129
CONCERNS AND CELEBRATIONS:
L: We are in the wilderness. We have lost our way. We cannot fix
ourselves. We need God’s intervention in our lives. And so do
many others. And so we pray:
P: Come quickly to help us, O God.
L: Because people are still kept in poverty or slavery, some are in
fear from abusers, terrorists, and oppressors, some face addiction
and some are targeted for unjust treatment because of who they are;
P: Come quickly to help us, O God.
L: Because we need courage and integrity from leaders in religious,
political, economic, and social life; because we love and sometimes
struggle with our families, friends, and neighbors; and because the lives
of those who sustain and protect our lives as military, civilian
workers, and first responders are full of challenge and conflict;
P: Come quickly to help us, O God.
L: Because there are people who need your healing power, and some
who offer healing through their skill and presence; because some have
harmed us, and we have harmed others by our action or inaction;
P: Come quickly to help us, O God.
L: Receive the prayers of your people, most merciful God. In your
compassion, forgive our sins, and intervene to free us for joyful
obedience through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer
CLOSING HYMN: “Lift High the Cross” UMH#159
L: Go, in God’s power that moves through acts of faith.
Open your ear to God’s divine revelations.
Depend on God, who is wise beyond the laws of this land.
Do all of these things, so that all that is right and good
permeates each day until we meet again.
(Linda Furtado, Lenten Liturgical Resources from Africana Writers,
edited by Safya Fosua, 2020.)
Congregational Response: “Bind Us Together” TFWS#2226
We are led this morning by Michael Thorpe
you may call/text Pastor Mike at 802-355-9574
"Prayer is not a substitute for action;
it is an action for which there is no substitute."
Mayerling Anderson Sabrena Ducharme Cheri Craig Arthur Hooper
James and DeeDee Clark Angel and Royce Dunn Janet Lanphear
Kelly Maxfield Charles Tinker Eva Lancaster
Emily (a parishioner of a colleague of Rev. Pat’s in northern Maine) –
who has received her heart transplant and is now back at home
Gary Hazard Paul (a friend of Sherry Anderson)
Families of Esther Greaves, Robert Harris, Kristine Hendon and
Emerson Blaisdell – all of whom have passed recently
Fawn (Barbara Backus’ niece) who is receiving chemo for her cancer and
whose blood count is low and causing fatigue and for her mother, Carol
Kim (a friend of Linda Martin’s) who needs a kidney transplant
Howard (a retired clergy friend of Rev. Pat’s) who is receiving chemo for
for pancreatic cancer and his wife, Dee
Linda Martin's sister-in-law who has stage 4 cancer
Jane (Vernon’s sister), who is now waiting to have a hip replacement
Greg McElroy’s daughter’s father-in-law, Joe, who has been having heart issues
Josh Ducharme, recovering from a blood marrow transplant, and his wife,
Shannon, who is currently receiving chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Sarah Backus Chambers (Barb Backus’ daughter) and her husband, Joe,
whose niece recently died from a drug overdose
Kelly Robtoy, who has recently had surgery and been unable to have
visits from her family
Dan Thorpe (Pastor Mike’s son) who fell off his workshop roof
but is back at work
Friends of Diane from Binghamville who have Covid
Family of Helen McElroy’s aunt who passed
Addison (a friend of Laurie Thorpe) who is having tests this week
Dan Sargent, a good friend of Barb Backus’ son Matthew,
who has just started treatments for prostate cancer
Prayers that our new President and the Congress can work
together to deal with the covid pandemic and the economic crisis
Continued prayers for Dave Anderson, Sherry’s husband as
he continues to recover well from emergency surgery last week
Mary (Rev. Pat's sister) who is struggling with stomach issues
Linda (sister to Lou and Kathy - Pastor Mike's Mom and Aunt) who
is also having stomach issues
Nathaniel McElroy (Greg's son) who lives in Texas and is struggling
with cancer and Chron's disease in the midst of all that has been
going on in Texas
Linda Martin's son-in-law, Jeremy, who hurt his back this past
week while shoveling snow
Friend of Mike's Aunt Cathy, who is suffering from cancer