ANNOUNCEMENTS & CELEBRATIONS
L: Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise the Lord in the heights!
P: Let them praise the name of the Lord, whose name alone is exalted, whose glory is above earth and heaven.
Bringing in the Light of Christ
CALL TO WORSHIP:
L: O God, our sovereign, our banquet, our crown: In the resurrection of your Son, you have brought us into your palace. Train us to be heirs to your throne, that we may shield the needy; through Christ our Lord.
P: Amen. Alleluia.
“Let All Things Now Living” TFWS#2008
Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
to God the Creator triumphantly raise,
who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
who guides us and leads to the end of our days.
God’s banners fly o’er us; God’s light goes before us,
a pillar of fire shining forth in the night,
till shadow have vanished and darkness is banished,
as forward we travel from light into light.
The law god enforces, the stars in their curses
and sun in its orbit obediently shine;
the hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
the deeps of the ocean proclaim the Divine.
We, too, should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
To God in the highest hosanna and praise.
OPENING PRAYER:(in unison - inspired by Acts 11:1-18)
God of the clean and the unclean, we too easily think we can see from your point of view. We exclude, hold grudges and nurse contempt, all the while hiding ourselves for fear we too would be found wanting. We think we are justified because we are made holy by your love, and we assume holiness means more like us. We forget, or never really knew, that all you touch is holy, and that you created all that is. So when we exclude, we exclude you. When we hold grudges, we hate you. When we show contempt, we are contemptuous of those you love. May we be made holy in truth, loving as you love, clean and unclean alike.
(Written by Rev. Doug Hagler, Calvary Presbyterian Church of Wyncote, PA, and posted on LiturgyLink, https://www.liturgylink.net. Reposed on re: Worship, https://re-orship.blogspot.com/2016/04/prayer-of-confession-clean-and-unclean.html.)
Psalm 148 UMH#861
L: 1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise the Lord in the heights!
P: 2 Praise the Lord, all his angels, praise the Lord, all his hosts!
L; 3 Praise the Lord, sun and moon, praise the Lord, all shining stars!
P: 4 Praise the Lord, highest heavens, and all waters above the heavens!
L: 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, who commanded and they were created!
P: 6 who established them for ever and ever, and fixed their bounds which cannot
L: 7 Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps,
P: 8 fire and hail, snow and smoke, stormy wind fulfilling God’s command!
L: 9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
P: 10 Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
L: 11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
P: 12 Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
L: Let them praise the name of the Lord, whose name alone is exalted, whose glory is above earth
P: God has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful ones, for the
people of Israel who are near their God. Praise the Lord!
*OFFERING: "Spirit of the Living God" UMH#393
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. (repeat
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Generous and giving God, we offer gifts this day as those who have received so much more. You gave yourself to us and asked only for devotion yet we got distracted by the world. You offered all of creation to meet our needs for food and shelter, ye we decided we wanted more. You offered your love to all, yet we decided some were more worthy and valuable than others. So, you gave us "the repentance that leads to life," and all our giving pales by comparison. Dedicate us, we pray, in Christ's holy name. Amen. (Acts 11:1-18)
WORD AND RESPONSE
Scripture Readings: Acts 11:1-18
1 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3 saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?" 4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance, I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6 As I looked at it closely, I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' 8 But I replied, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.' 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also, he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
John 13: 31-35
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now, I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
HYMN OF PREPARATION
L: The word of God for the People of God.
P: Thanks be to God.
: “Help Us Accept Each Other” UMH#560
Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to believe
we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live.
Teach us, O Lord, you lessons, as in our daily life
we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people, for all, not just for some,
to love them as we find them, or as they may become.
Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved
in living situations to do the truth in love;
to practice your acceptance, until we know by heart
the table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing heart.
Lord, for today’s encounters with all who are in need,
who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread,
we need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on;
renew us with you Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one.
CONCERNS AND CELEBRATIONS
The Lord’s Prayer
I have a feed in my email called Quora Digest. Not sure how it arrived but there are articles of curiosity, questions that are posed for some expert or other to answer. I think my favorite answer was to a question about a landlord's favorite tenant.
One landlord responded about a tenant that always paid his rent one month late. There was a ten percent surcharge after five day's tardiness then one hundred dollars additional for each successive day following through the end of the month. The tenant lived in the landlord's rental home for ten years. At the end of that ten-year period, the tenant had disposed of a cigarette improperly, burning down the house. After ten years of collecting, basically, double rent, the insurance company paid to rebuild the house. The landlord emerged from that ten-year rental wealthier and with a brand-new home!
I found it interesting that a question that arose this week was concerning the Bible. The questioner claimed that the book of Deuteronomy claimed that bats were birds, rabbits chew cud and that leprosy could be cured with bird's blood.
Nothing I recalled about the Bible's description of this person's claims seemed to ring true. Bats do fly and bunnies appear to chew their cud, but this is mostly the movement their mouths make when chewing vegetation. I wondered which Bible this person had been reading to make such a claim.
The person who answered this question I supposed to be a Rabbi, very politely and calmly explained that the Bible was not a scientific work. His response indicated that the classification system the questioner had spoken of was simply to separate kosher animals from non-kosher animals.
True. I remember reading that particular book from a scientific viewpoint, having studied as a biology major for nearly four years prior to my personal full read of the Bible.
I remember this description as making full nutritional sense at the time. The Jews sought unblemished beef, clean preparation of milk and cheese and ate wheat that had never touched the ground. Even today, rabbis follow tractors through a field at harvest to ensure their rye wheat remains clean. At the time of my reading, the not eating pig’s thing made perfect sense to me as I remember that eating pork always carried with it a risk of contracting trichinosis, or ringworm, if the meat wasn't prepared properly.
The rabbi in this query went on to explain that a person who had been healed from illness was to make a sacrifice of two doves as a thank you to the Lord for the healing.
Enter Peter's issue in today's scripture. I have mentioned before that Jesus' disciples were all Jews. They all grew up from childhood keeping kosher, observing Hebrew rules for cleanliness and food preparation. Now here he was trying to explain to his fellow Jewish raised brethren of the way that Jesus path was also the path for the Gentiles. Peter could have simply explained that Jesus had already declared all foods clean, stating that it wasn't what goes into a person's body that makes one unclean; it's what comes out of the body that makes that happen (Mark 7:17-20).
In this reading from Acts, Peter instead chooses to tell a story that his Hebrew brethren will lend more credence to, after all, the Jewish people have been interpreting dreams and visions since the time of Joseph. Peter brings them a vision that depicts Christ's love as a sheet that covers all people, not simply those who have been keeping kosher.
A man called me one time, struggling with his biblical convictions that seemed to be telling him to not accept his non-heterosexual co-workers as being “clean”. For a great many Christians as well as observant Jews and Muslims, apparently the greatest sin on the planet is to be one of these “nons”. Indeed, the one passage in Leviticus that speaks to men lying with men requires them to be put to death (never mind that this is in direct contradiction to the “Thou shalt not kill” commandment). I have always found it weird that no mention is made of women doing the same thing being a sin.
It is contradictions such as these that have always led me to surmise that most of the books in the bible were written by men, not by God, as many evangelical preachers will claim. Anyway, I asked the man who called me why he was struggling with this issue. “They are such nice, loving, people,” he said, “I can't understand why they would be excluded from Christ's love?”.
“I'm pretty sure you can tell me what it says in Leviticus and what Paul, a very righteous Jew had to say about that but what did Jesus have to say?”.
For those who come to the Maundy Thursday service, the answer to this question is easy, the answer is extremely simple. At the last supper, Jesus gave us a new mandate, a new commandment. Indeed, he left us with but one commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another (John 13:34).
John later uses Peter's method for attempting to help us understand what is to occur in the end times. He tells us the high places will be made low (not much fun for the skiing believers) and, in today's passage, that the sea will be no more (likewise disappointing for the beachgoers among us!).
Then, like the sheet that Peter saw being lowered over all the people, the new Zion will likewise be lowered around all the believers, who will want for nothing in this new heaven and new earth. This is the description that would ring true with the new believers of Christ's way, the type of description they were most familiar with.
In that new heaven and new earth, all will live with the joy of the one commandment Jesus left us with: Love each other.
Lord, help us to learn the better way, the path that greets each other with love, the path that opens us to all people of all nations, of all blends. In Your blessed and Holy Name, we pray, Amen.
“How Great Thou Art” UMH#77
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
how great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
how great Thou art, how great Thou art!
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
and see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze. Refrain
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing;
sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
that on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
he bled and died to take away my sin. Refrain
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
and there proclaim, my God, how great thou art! Refrain
THE SENDING FORTH:
L: May the blessing of God, fountain of living water,
flow within us as a river of life.
May we drink deep of her wisdom.
May we never thirst again.
May we go through life refreshing many,
as a sign of healing for all; through the One who is Life eternal.
“Bind Us Together” TFWS#2226
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken;
bind us together, Lord, bind us together,
Lord, bind us together in love.
There is only God, there is only one King;
there is only one body, that is why we sing.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken; bind us together,
Lord, bind us together, Lord, bind us together in love.
We are led this morning by Pastor Michael Thorpe.
If you need the services of a pastor, please call/text Michael at 802-355-9574.
Prayer is not a substitute for action;
it is an action for which there is no substitute."
Arthur Hooper Gary Hazard Irene Nicolson
Sabrena and Josh Ducharme, who are each experiencing relationship issues
Kim (a friend of Linda Martin’s) who needs a kidney transplant
Linda (Pastor Mike’s Mom’s and Aunt Cathy’s sister)
who is struggling with stomach issues
Friend of Mike's Aunt Cathy, who is suffering from cancer
For the families of all of those who continue to lose their lives in mass shootings.
That all will come to see the benefits of getting a covid vaccine
Peggy Kuiee, a friend of Mike’s Aunt Cathy, who is struggling with heart issues
Mike’s mother, Lou, who is experiencing ongoing health issues
Amanda (friend of Aimee’s sister) who has been diagnosed with cancer
Nathaniel McElroy and his family as his tumors have shrunk and stopped growing
For Gary Grant, a friend of Mike’s Aunt Kathy, whose lymphoma
has now spread throughout his body
Lee Davis, who has bladder cancer
Laurie's friend, Ruth, for strength to get through a difficult time Member of Lou’s church who had a stroke but is now making progress
For shortage of health-care workers due to the huge rise in covid cases which is putting a huge strain on the health care system in this country
Dot Larrabee as she goes for a follow-up after her recent eye surgery
Kathy’s b-i-l, Bill, who had eye surgery recently
A good friend of Kathy’s who was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
For the husband of Kathy’s friend Pauline who was found in the ICU barely breathing
Barb, for healing for the pain in her ear and wisdom as to how to treat it.
Continued prayers for peace in the Ukraine as well as those in Russia who are disturbed by this aggression
Thanksgiving for a successful surgery for Oliver, a two-year-old friend of Kathy's, who fell recently and severely damaged his eye
Chris Kocik, a friend of Mike and Laurie’s, who continues to struggle with her cancer while continuing with chemo treatments
Continued healing for Greg as he is recovering from pneumonia
Marty, a friend of Laurie’s, who broke her shoulder after a fall while skiing
Prayers of Thanksgiving for Aunt K’s daughter, Sherry,
whose cancer is now in remission
Friends of Aunt K, whose baby was recently injured by a horse.
Aunt K’s great-granddaughter, who has a bunch on her neck and for wisdom for the medical team to be able to determine the cause.
Hess Family in the conviction of Cole Hess for possessing child pornography.
Howard, 15-year-old who has a condition that causes bone growths which
had to be removed and for success in recent surgery
Lisa, Rev. Pat’s niece, who has been struggling with vertigo
Lisa and her sister, Tausha, whose father was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and who has since had a stroke
All of those in Lamoille County who are struggling to find housing
The Binghamville congregation as they struggle with their future
Family of John Wills, who passed peacefully this past week
Friend of Mike’s Aunt Kathy, Robert F., who is struggling with cancer