Wolcott United Methodist Church

Welcome to the Wolcott, VT, United Methodist Church. During the remainder of January - the 16th through the 30th, we will be worshipping only online due to the rise in covid cases as well as the uncertain weather. Please feel free to join us online for any of these services at 10:00am.

4023 VT Route 15 , Wolcott , VT 05680
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(802) 851-2031

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The United Methodist Church

Service and Pastor Mike's Messeage for the 2nd Sunday After Epiphany, January 16, 2022 at 10:00am

posted on January 16

Wolcott and Binghamville United Methodist Churches
2nd Sunday After Epiphany 
Human Relations Sunday 

January 16, 2022 - 10:00 a.m.

L:  Relational God who created us in community, thank you for sending your prophets to share your steadfast love with us.  We gather on the Human Relations Day Sunday with a diversity of spiritual gifts.  Link us together to build up your realm. Show us how to connect with all of our neighbors.  Pour out your Spirit on us, activating us to work in partnership with your people for the common good. We Pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
PRELUDE:  Bringing in the Light of Christ
L: It's coming: the Kingdom of God is coming!
Let your Reign, O God, be acknowledged among all people.
P:  We stand on the threshold of truth.
We are perched on the branches of justice.

L: Across the horizon we see the outline of peace and harmony.
P: With privilege comes responsibility, with responsibility comes accountability,
With accountability comes honesty, with honesty comes faithfulness.

All: God of Creation and history, equip us to live faithfully in your Kingdom!
OPENING HYMN:  “Great is Thy Faithfulness”   UMH#140
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
as Thou has been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.  Refrain
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!  Refrain
L:  Speak, Lord, for your children are listening
For a word of encouragement, for a word of instruction
About how we ought to live in these troubled lands.
Speak, Lord, for your children are listening,
As we drift off to sleep in down-covered beds
In marble palaces or in sawdust padded pallets on dusty floors.
We are listening, rich and poor.
We are listening, young and old
For a word from you that will heal our lands.
P:  Eternal God, Lover of our souls, we come to you this morning hungering for something from you that will change the rest of our lives. We come hungering for honesty instead of corruption; for generosity instead of greed; we come hungering for integrity instead of intrigue. We come hungering for our neighbors to be fed and for all to have enough honest work to provide for the basic needs of their families. We come this morning hungering for righteousness to flow like rainwater and for the justice like an ever-flowing stream described by the prophets.  We come hungering and we come listening for your words to us, describing how we can participate in your great work of re-creation. We come listening for ways that we can become part of the solution and not part of the problem. We come listening in fear and trembling, praying that we will have the courage to respond and act if we hear a clear word of instruction from you.
L:  Speak, Lord, for your children are listening. . .
All:  Amen.
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.
God who has blessed us with so much, activate these Human Relations Day gifts as they join together with others' gifts throughout The United Methodist Church. Transform them into strong and healthy communities, educational opportunities and spiritual sustenance that moves through your people. With the power of your Holy Spirit, use this offering to build relationships, invest in human dignity and form beloved community that unleashes Christlike love. Amen.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11  Spiritual gifts
12 Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. 2 You know that when you were Gentiles you were often misled by false gods that can’t even speak. 3 So I want to make it clear to you that no one says, “Jesus is cursed!” when speaking by God’s Spirit, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5 and there are different ministries and the same Lord; 6 and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good. 8 A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, 9 faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, 10 performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. 11 All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person.
John 2:1-11  Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and 2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”  4 Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”  5 His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.  7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. 9 The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.  The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
L: May God’s Word give light to our path and strength for our living.
HYMN OF PREPARATION:   “Many Gifts, One Spirit”  UMH# 114
God of change and glory, God of time and space,
when we fear the future, give to us your grace,
in the midst of changing ways give us still the grace to praise.
Many gifts, one Spirit, one love known in many ways.
In our difference is our blessing, from diversity we praise
one Giver, one Lord, one Spirit, one Word
known in many ways, hallowing our days.
For the Giver, for the gifts, praise, praise, praise.
God of many colors, God of many signs,
You have made us different, blessing many kinds,
As the old ways disappear, let your love cast our fear.  Refrain
Freshness of the morning, newness of each night,
You are still creating endless love and light.
This we see as shadows part, many gifts from one great heart.  Refrain
THE MESSAGE:     “Varieties of Gifts”
When we arrived at our campsite there were still a few hours of daylight left for us to enjoy. Mosquitoes had stuffed us into our little teardrop camper very early the afternoon before, so we had taken our time getting to this campground. We had had a relaxing breakfast at a highly rated diner on the way, stopped to climb sand dunes just north of the main area of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes national park.
After several hours in the car, Laurie toddled off to the ladies’ room. On her way back to our site, another couple delayed her return. They had recognized our camper right off. Theirs, though an earlier and far more luxurious model, was made by the same manufacturer. Indeed, they were on their way to an annual “Camp Inn” at that very manufacturer.
Ours was the first of this particular model. The couple pulled up a chair for Laurie and they all laughed and joked together, watching me set up our back canopy and side entrance to our teardrop. The man in the site to one side of us was chatting away with the couple trying to set up a tent on the other side of us, his blurred speech leaving me hoping that I wasn't next on his list of people to “help”.
I traded places with Laurie, who had returned to our campsite to prepare supper. The couple she had been chatting with were very pleasant, both retired coaches with memories to share, children to boast about and, like us, grandchildren who are the joy of our lives.
Laurie and I played a little cribbage while we ate our supper and chatted about our next two day's adventures. I started a small fire with the few sticks of wood that had been left behind by the previous campers. We reached for our marshmallow roasting tools and proceeded to set up our chairs next to the fire.
The man with the slurred speech approached with a couple of pieces of firewood. “Mind if a sit with you for a bit?” he asked us. “I really can't get a fire going in my own fire pit and wouldn't mind a little company” offering the two bits of firewood in his hands as payment for our evening's companionship.
“Sure!” I replied. We could see he really needed someone to chat with. Besides, his speech was no longer as slurred as it had been a couple of hours earlier.
Hal, I will call him, began to open up to me. My son has told many people that I am easy to talk to, easy to share things with. Perhaps that is one of my spiritual gifts. Hal seemed to sense this. He told me of his previous day and night spent in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. He spoke of his bible thumping, Trump loving, law abiding family, then fell silent.
“I don't get it” he murmured. “How can they claim to be Christians and support the way people of color are being treated in this country. How can they support a man who doesn't believe people should be treated with love and compassion? Even my girlfriend doesn't seem to recognize that none of the people serving us in the hotel had the same color skin as we do. It just doesn't seem right.”
Human Relations Sunday. What an incredibly whitewashed title for a day that should have so much more meaning. Tomorrow is the National holiday in which we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's life. Today is the day the United Methodist Church is supposed to be celebrating the gifts that bring us together by acknowledging the gifts that each of us bring to our community.
It was originally my intention, perhaps, to read one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's sermons. After all, who hasn't been moved by his declaration: “I have a dream!”? So, I started reading. I had never read one of his full sermons before, I had only heard news clips, only heard sound clips of his more famous messages, never the whole thing.
I read three sermons, his letter from the Birmingham jail, a message to a gathering of clergy regarding Vietnam and the Vietnamese war. The first thing I noticed was what an eloquent writer he was. I discovered what a well-educated historian he was. I discovered what an incredibly well-informed citizen he was. I discovered what a loving husband and dad he was.
Hal's concerns reflected what I read in MLK's writing. Hal spoke of peaceful protests by people of color in various cities being turned to violence by police and armed gangs of white vigilantes after the slaying of George Floyd. MLK had spoken of little having changed over the course of the previous 350 odd years of oppression of persons of color. Hal reminded me that little had changed.
In his business, more than 90% of his clients were people that looked more or less like him and me. He provided his services to very few persons of color. It wasn't that he didn't want to help them in the same way he helped white folk, he was very aware that persons of color simply didn't have the same opportunities: educational resources, employment opportunities, appropriate housing, financial resources, generational wealth. Even the opportunity to get fresh food in neighborhoods populated by the poor and persons of color is severely limited.
Martin Luther King wrote of his concern for unity in this America. He wrote of his concern that persons of color would step away from Christ's teaching that we are to love each other and instead come to hate and mistrust people who don't look like them. It was his dream that his children and the children of his white neighbors might be able to play together, go to the same stores together, go to the same playgrounds together, go to the same swimming pools together.
He talked of an America that has that promise of freedom for all people, not just white people. He didn't want America to be a place that he didn't feel was his home, someplace he didn't feel he was receiving the same opportunities as his white neighbors. He quoted Langston Hughes “that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath –
America will be!”
America is supposed to be a land of opportunity, but it has long meant opportunity for persons of means. “When in the course of human events” opens our Declaration of Independence. There was much discourse that followed in the Continental Congress prior to the signing of that document. In the final agreement of that document as well as the Constitution, voting was first granted to “white men of means” which basically meant white male landowners. Over the past two plus centuries we have expanded that opportunity but there are many who today are still actively trying to deny the vote to persons who are not “white men of means”.
Dr. King addressed the needs of the downtrodden as the opportunity for Christians of all races to use their spiritual gifts to speak out to injustice. He urged white Christians who were aware of these injustices to step up and join the peaceful protests of their non-white brothers and sisters. Simply acknowledging that some laws were unjust without taking action against the unjust laws was tantamount to accepting those laws as just.
During Local Pastor licensing school, there was an ongoing protest in North Dakota to prevent an oil pipeline from running under sovereign Lakota tribal land. One of my presenters, of Japanese ancestry, had gotten on a bus with a number of other persons from New York Conference to go out an join the protest. “We need more people who look like you.” he told me. “People who look like me look too much like them. We need more white people to take action in these protests.”.
That is exactly the same thing Dr. King was saying in his messages. It is never enough to state that a law is unjust. We need to use our gifts to be able to work toward bringing the same opportunities that have existed for “white men of means” for centuries to persons of all backgrounds.
Hal's heart was in the right place. As we talked, I urged him to share his concerns with his family, with his friends, with those who had the power to change the laws in a manner that would make injustice disappear.
I have noticed that Dr. King's prayers, perhaps, may be coming to reality. A group of veterans, men and women who look like me, drove out to North Dakota to support the Lakota protest. Soccer moms stepped out in front of the black protesters in Seattle, causing the police there to stand down and step back, despite Trump's urgings. More and more, white people of means are standing together with their brethren who don't look like them to bring a sense of justice to the bargaining table.
Paul's letter to the Corinthians addresses this sense of the 'haves' and 'have nots'. He addresses the sense in that community that some Christians are better than others. In the words of Dr. Derek Weber: “But what about the gifts? Would it be helpful to run through Paul's list and identify in the minds and hearts of the congregation what kinds of things we can be gifted with? The varieties of gifts, since that is the title for this week? Perhaps that might be useful. You could talk about wisdom and knowledge and faith as the first tier of gifts in this taxonomy. Then you could notice the more 'flamboyant' gifts of healing and miracles, prophecy and discernment of spirits. Then notice that Paul puts speaking in tongues at the bottom of the list, because it was this gift in particular that was being used as the wedge to divide the church. This leads me to think that perhaps the listing and description of gifts here is not supposed to be exhaustive, and it isn't even Paul's best list. Rather Paul's real goal is to say that in our diversity is our unity, in our individual giftedness is our communal strength.
Let us be in prayer.
Lord, help us to remember the injustices that you faced so that we may be aware of the injustices that we extend to others. Pour out your spirit on us gathered here so that we may use our individual gifts to better the lives of others who have not had the same opportunities we may have. In Your blessed and Holy Name, we pray, Amen.
CLOSING HYMN:   “O Freedom”    TFWS#2194
O freedom!  O freedom!
O freedom over me.
And before I’ll be a slave,
I’d be buried in my grave,
and go home to my Lord and be free.
No more weeping, no more weeping,
no more weeping over me.  Refrain
There’ll be singing, there’ll be singing
there’ll be singing over me.  Refrain
There’ll be praying, there’ll be praying
There’ll be praying over me.  Refrain
L:  May the breadth and depth of the Holy Spirit descend upon us as we seek to be followers of Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit teach us to think, to learn, to grow and to respond to God's grace in such a way that all those around us may experience the incredible grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today. May we glow in God's grace, so that the grace of the Spirit may grow in each and every one of us. Go now in the peace and understanding that we worship God who is active and alive today. 
All:  Amen.
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.
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 and Aunt Cathy’s sister)
who is struggling with stomach issues
For the families of those who have lost their lives in mass
shootings during the past weeks and months
That those who are still having doubts about receiving the covid vaccine
will come to accept its value for themselves as well as others
Those in the Middle East who are struggling with each other and
not seem to accept that all of them are God’s children
Peggy Kuiee, a friend of Mike’s Aunt Cathy, who has had 4 stents put in but
still has one that is 80% blocked and is waiting for the results of a CT Scan
Mike’s mother, Lou, who is experiencing ongoing health issues
Amanda (friend of Aimee’s sister) who has been diagnosed with cancer
Glenn, a friend of Mike’s Mom who has covid and
has been on a respirator but is now doing much better
Jeremy Cochran, who fell from his garage roof and crushed his foot
Nathaniel McElroy and his family as his tumors have shrunk and stopped growing
so that he will not need to enter hospice care at the present time
Bruce’s mother who is in a NH following a fall on Thanksgiving
Lee Davis who has bladder cancer 
Dot Weatherbee who is recovering from recent surgery on her eye
For Malcolm Hare, husband of Pastor Ellen Cleaves from New Sweden,
Maine, a friend of Rev. Pat’s, who continues to recover from a crushed pelvis
Sally Martin as she continues to recover from surgery on her elbow/arm
Nancy, a friend of Barb Backus and sister of Sherida, who
is now recovering from surgery which she had recently
Prayers of Thanksgiving for Sherida who is doing well but still has
to check in every six weeks for followup
Laurie's friend, Ruth, who is having a difficult time
and for strength for her to get through this
Relatives of Lou who were in a serious automobile accident this week
Judy Ward and family in the passing of her sister, Marlene,
and for Marlene’s twin sister, Marilyn, who remains in the nursing home
Tracy (a friend of Laurie T.) whose father was taken to the emergency room
three times this week, spent 6 hours there each time without being seen
Friend of Lou’s who had surgery for an abdominal aneurysm this past week
Member of Lou’s church who had a stroke but couldn’t be put into the
ICU due to a shortage of beds and in making progress in a regular room
Aunt Kathy’s daughter, Sherry’s husband, who had by-pass surgery this week
and was sent home early due to the need for beds and without Home Health
Care due to lack of staff0
Prayers of Thanksgiving that Kathy's daughter Sherry's cancer is now in remission;
she is having difficulty with sciatica and will have an mri to determine possible causes
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
Mike and Laurie who had a friend pass from a heart attack recently
Barb’s brother-in-law, who is 93 with a pacemaker which he hasn’t been
able to have serviced for awhile, and who seems to be slowly declining
Greg, who will be having a procedure on the 24th to prevent blood clots
Barb’s 8-year-old grandson, Henry, who has covid
Gary, husband of Barb’s friend Robin, who has just been put on comfort care
Pat's friend, Howard Reynolds, who has pancreatic cancer and is entering hospice care
Mike and Laurie's granddaughter, Lucy, who may have covid
Aunt Kathy's  daughter, Donna's father-in-law, Gary  who has started
chemo and is not doing well

Wolcott United Methodist Church

(802) 851-2031