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posted on October 13
18th Sunday of Pentecost - October 13, 2019
Worship Leader: Pastor Michael Thorpe
*Please stand as you are able
18th Sunday of Pentecost
October 13, 2019
GATHERING AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
PRELUDE Bringing in the Light
CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 66:1-12
*OPENING HYMN: “To God Be the Glory” UMH#98
OPENING PRAYER (in unison):
Gracious God: As we gather today, we remember our role as learners and seekers of the faith. We give thanks for all those — present or away — who support the teaching and learning that takes place through our congregation. Be with all — children, youth, and adults — who will be participating this year in our Christian formation groups. Bless our times of study so that we may grow in faith. Bless our times of fellowship so that we may truly live as brothers and sisters in Christ. Bless our times of prayer and worship so that we may be enriched in our spirits. Amen.
WORD AND RESPONSE: 2 Timothy 2:8-15
L: May God’s Word give light to our path and strength for our living.
P: Thanks be to God.
Hymn of Preparation: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” UMH#140
Jesus had a duty to God. His was simply to come to earth and tell the chosen people, like the prophets before him, to turn themselves around, repent, if you will and save the Jews. God had sent all these prophets to His people, in various locations, and warn them of His abandonment of them if they did not repent.
Yet the people persisted. Righteousness, to them, was more a matter of ritual than practice. The concept being that if merely carried the commandments about in your phylacteries, took them out when you went to synagogue and lashed them to your arms and forehead, your passage to heaven was all but assured.
The problem that those phylacteries presented, however, was that the commandments they contained were too easily pulled out to judge others and too difficult to pull out and use as an inward mirror.
The news was on the front page of the News and Citizen: an ugly tweet about the homeless had been posted. Seems the Yellow House in Hyde Park is the cause of drawing all kinds of “lepers” to Morrisville and the tweeter was fed up with it. She didn't want people of that ilk in her town and we should close the Yellow House so 'those' people wouldn't be drawn to the area.
I remember many times when someone has quoted chapter and verse to me in some sort of effort to allow them to pass some sort of judgment over me. I was recently in a situation where someone wanted a treasured verse read as part of a 'celebration'. The focus of the verse was hardship and it was held up as a reason and way of attaining hope.
The hackles went up on the back of the neck as I read the verses. I could easily see them being held up to someone as an excuse for delivering punishment. Taken by themselves, the verses could indeed be read as a reason for making life difficult for someone. I read the entire passage and realized that a choice had been made, like a page out of the Jefferson Bible, to omit the part of the passage that spoke of how hope allowed us to endure hardship when we encountered it.
It seemed to me, when I read the story of the mean tweeter, that her intent was entirely to inflict pain on the homeless as a means of deterring them from being in that condition. As if imposing even more hardship on these people would bring them more hope.
So today we find Jesus passing through that region between Samaria and Galilee, not too unlike the region between Arizona and Mexico, where one population is highly regarded and the other not so much. Then along come ten lepers. A more unclean condition to the Jews of that day and time could not even be imagined.
They didn't even ask Jesus for healing, they merely asked for mercy. Mercy could have been something as simple as being served breakfast. His response was to tell them to go someplace else! He didn't tell them they were healed, he didn't even offer them breakfast!
No, his command was simple: “Go and show yourselves to the priests”. I wonder what they were thinking? Did they think that if they went to the priests that the priests would show them some mercy or give them some little tidbit or something?
They obey Jesus, of course, and head for the temple. In the Jewish tradition, a bath is necessary to be made clean. For the ten lepers, cleanliness arrives without even a bath. They leave Jesus' presence and are made clean. Which, of course, makes them whole again. They can once again be an active part of the community.
And they continue onward to show themselves to the priests and be accepted. Except for one: the Mexican, I mean the Samarian. A more detested member of Galilean society of the day couldn't be had than a Samarian leper. He was even more of an outcast than the Jewish lepers.
Yet he was the one leper who returned to Jesus to offer thanksgiving for his healing.
I am thankful that I have come to know Michael Hendon over the years. A kinder, gentler voice I don't think I have ever known. The other day, a young woman came in to breakfast. She spoke with me briefly and made her way to the back of the room, shivering in her cotton layers and sat down next to Michael.
I brought her a cup of coffee, even though she had told me she didn't drink coffee. “Wrap your hands around the cup, like this,” I explained, cupping my hands around the cup to demonstrate what I hoped she would do. “It will help to warm you up”. Michael heard me offer some breakfast suggestions, which she again declined.
I watched her walk out the door about twenty minutes later as I delivered a plate to another one of our 'guests'. Michael leaned over to me. “I'm worried about her” he explained in that gentle voice of his “she's in a bad way”.
We don't all have the power of Jesus to take away everyone's pain, or troubles, or even their demons. We do however, have the Jesus granted power to accept all without judgment. Jesus left us with but one commandment:
“Love each other as I have loved you”.
It doesn't get any easier than that. Lord, help us to accept each other as you accept us. Bring us close in Your loving arms. Reassure us that as you healed the lepers that we may show mercy on those who are unable to properly care for themselves without passing judgment. In your Holy and Blessed name we pray, Amen.
HYMN OF RESPONSE: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You” UMH#89
CELEBRATIONS AND CONCERNS
THE LORD’S PRAYER “Kyrie” TFWS#2275
OFFERTORY “Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow” UMH#95
Offering Prayer (in unison):
God of All Peoples, we bring our gifts to your altar this day, knowing that your love extends not just to those inside these walls, but equally to the communities and cities we serve. We know that when our generosity is focused inward only, it breaks your heart and cheapens our offerings. As you reminded your people in their exile when you instructed them to “pray for the welfare of the city of their exile,” we understand that you send us back into the world to work for the welfare of those who don’t yet know your love, compassion, and gracious forgiveness. Dedicate our gifts for this work, we pray. Amen. (Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7)
THE SENDING FORTH
L: Hate evil. Cry out against violence. Repent of greed. Seek the lost. Open your hearts and homes to Jesus in the poor and outcast. In all things be thankful and give glory to God. God who has called us, taught us, and fed us, now sends us from this place to offer care and encouragement to these people we have commended to God’s care and now hold in our hearts. Go forth, to love and serve God and these neighbors, in the compassion of God the Father, with the truth of Jesus Christ, and the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Congregational Response: “Bind Us Together” TFWS#2226
We are led this morning by
Pastor Michael Thorpe and Greg McElroy
If you have a pastoral care need,
you may call/text Pastor Mike at 802-355-9574
Worship Leaders Today:
Worship Leaders: Michael Thorpe and Greg McElroy
Musicians: Pat Thompson and Michael Thorpe
Usher: Vernon Thompson
Reader: Greg McElroy
Reader Next Week: Arlo Sterner
"Prayer is not a substitute for action; it is an action for which there is no substitute."
Mayerling Anderson Josh Ducharme Sabrena Ducharme Craig Lawson
Nikki Ducharme Louise Thorpe Arlo Sterner Alice Martin
Arthur Hooper Marilyn Blow Nathanial McElroy Judy Ward
Angel and Royce Dunn Mary Daniels & Family James and DeeDee Clark
Marlene Bodeen Janet Lanpher Carol Paine
Don’t forget to sign-up for cleaning the church and bringing communion bread. There is also a sign-up sheet for anyone willing to finish out the worship service on those Sundays when Pastor Mike has to leave early to go to Binghamville (2nd and 4th Sundays).
Please remember to bring your nickels and dimes for our fundraising jars for the United Methodist Economic Ministry in Salem, ME, as well as our Historic Restoration Project.
We will meet briefly after worship to go over the forms that need to be prepared for our annual church conference which will be held at 10:00am on Saturday morning, November 2.
Our next small group meeting at Arlo’s will be held on Tuesday, October 22 at 6:00PM. We are studying Adam Hamilton’s Journey to Bethlehem. Anyone is welcome to join us at any time.