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February 21, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Rich Changus

Message- “Treasure” Lent by Rev. Wendy Komori Stager


Threshold


Each of us is created a precious and holy vessel of embodied love. We have been through a harrowing time since last Lent that has shattered our sense of wholeness–body, mind, and spirit–like a glass vessel fractured into pieces. Let us enter a Lenten “season of recovery” as we focus on Jesus, the Healer of our every ill.


Vessels, holy and whole
Broken, needing the One
Open, body and soul
Healer, come.


Beach glass begins as something whole and yet discarded. As it is tumbled by the sea, it is broken and polished until it becomes a treasured “mineral gem.” We do not embrace that suffering is necessary or God-given, but that suffering is a part of life. When pain comes and brokenness enters our lives, Jesus reaches out to touch and remind us of the Treasure that we all are–worthy of new life in the midst of hopelessness. In a year when pandemic has wreaked havoc on our world, we begin by affirming our journey to physical health.


Opening Prayer of Confession


Lent developed into a season of intense inward reflection and confession centuries after the life of Jesus. Yet, as we will see, Jesus encouraged people to open up about their lives–to speak truth–no matter how broken. This is the beginning of compassion for ourselves and others. It is the beginning of healing. The Latin origins of the word “confess” is to “study and acknowledge.” This will be a season of studying how we can be a healing presence in our community. To do this, we acknowledge our need to restore our own Holy Vessels.


Creator God,

We are bodies fashioned by your hand in your own image,

shapes and colors of diverse and immense beauty.

And yet too often we have ignored the sacred nature of our physical lives.

The Holy Vessels you have fashioned are tired and suffering,

ravaged by months of disrupted rhythms and ailment.

Our fragility has come into full view and we are frightened.

We cannot fathom the proportions of loss and so we look away,

sometimes even from our own needs.

Help us, Healer.

Show us our strength.

Forgive our inertia.

Move us to move

one step at a time toward greater care.

In this silence, we sense and acknowledge our yearning for wholeness.

Silence


Amen


Assurance


I invite you to feel a warmth begin to arise within the core of your body. It may help to keep your eyes closed. Imagine a warm orb of light deep within you. This warm glow begins to emerge from the recesses of your inner being to fill and flood your whole body until your skin is glowing with it, radiating outward. You are surrounded by light. Feel this warmth wrap you as a blanket of assurance.


Know this: God’s love and grace surround you…

No. Matter. What.

You are a precious and holy vessel right now.

Christ’s light is a treasure given freely.

For you, for me, for all.

Take a deep breath in to let this truth fill you…

and breathe out with the relief of assurance.


Contemporary Word


“True wisdom is like an ocean; the deeper you go the greater the treasures you'll find.”

     ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.

     –– Walter Anderson

Some people spend so much time hunting treasure that they fail to see it all around them. It's like sifting through gold to find the silt.

     –– Richard Paul Evans

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

     –– Joseph Campbell

Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.

     –– Rumi


An Ancient Word


Matthew 8: 1-4; 16-17


When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”


Lent begins Tuesday, February 16 and runs through March 30, 2021.


Lent is a time in which we anticipate the victory of the light and life of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It corresponds to Jesus' time in the wilderness. This 7-week sermon series is from select Psalms which help us in times of self-examination, difficulty, and dryness and invite us to make our hearts ready for remembering anew Jesus' death and resurrection.


A Journey Through Lent - Bible Study

Lent Bible Study begins Tuesday, February 16 and runs through March 30, 2021.


This 7-week DVD- and Psalm- based series will take place on successive Tuesdays from 3:30 - 5PM via Zoom.  Participants will have the daily devotional, and meeting times will be spent viewing and discussing the sermons as well as discussing insights obtained during our devotional reading.


From the publisher: Lent is a time in which we anticipate the victory of the light and life of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It corresponds to Jesus' time in the wilderness. This 7-week sermon series is from select Psalms which help us in times of self-examination, difficulty, and dryness and invite us to make our hearts ready for remembering anew Jesus' death and resurrection.


Includes DVD and 40-day devotional.

Sessions include:

  1. Prayer of Confession – Timothy Keller (38 mins.)
  2. Prayer of Seeking – David Bisgrove (39 mins.)
  3. Prayer of Thirst – Timothy Keller (42 mins.)
  4. Prayer of Rest – Timothy Keller (39 mins.)
  5. Prayer for the World – Timothy Keller (37 mins.)
  6. Prayer for the King – Timothy Keller (41 mins)
  7. Prayer for Security – Timothy Keller (33 mins.)


If you missed a Zoom and are interested in viewing the meeting, you can view the Lent Bible Study meetings under the Members Page.


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February 14, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Rich Changus

Message- “Four Important Aspects of Prayer” by Rev. John Collister


Scripture-   Luke 18:10-13


10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’


Scripture - Matthew 6:  9-13

9 “Pray then in this way:


Our Father in heaven,

    hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

    Your will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,

        but rescue us from the evil one.


February 7, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Judy Sullivan

Message- "Silence, being in God’s presence" by Rev. Wendy Komori Stager

Scripture-  Psalm 62


Song of Trust in God Alone

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.


1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall never be shaken.


3 How long will you assail a person,
    will you batter your victim, all of you,
    as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
    They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah


5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.


8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah


9 Those of low estate are but a breath,
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion,
    and set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.


11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12     and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
    according to their work.


Scripture - Matthew 6:  5-8

Concerning Prayer

5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.



January 31, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Judy Sullivan

Message- "How Does Prayer "Work"?" by Rev. Wendy Komori Stager

Scripture-   



January 24, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Judy Sullivan

Message- "Prayer and suffering, Prayer and faith" by Rev. Wendy Komori Stager

Scripture-   Psalm 88: 1-5, 10-13

Prayer for Help in Despondency

A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites. To the leader: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

1 O Lord, God of my salvation,

    when, at night, I cry out in your presence,

2 let my prayer come before you;

    incline your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of troubles,

    and my life draws near to Sheol.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;

    I am like those who have no help,

5 like those forsaken among the dead,

    like the slain that lie in the grave,

like those whom you remember no more,

    for they are cut off from your hand.

10 Do you work wonders for the dead?

    Do the shades rise up to praise you?Selah

11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,

    or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O Lord, cry out to you;

    in the morning my prayer comes before you.


Scripture- Romans 5: 1-11

Results of Justification

5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.


January 17, 2021

Music Director- Michael Reilly

Lector- Judy Sullivan

Message- "Does God take sides?" by Rev. Wendy Komori Stager

Scripture-   Matthew 6: 9-13

 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.


Scripture- Luke 22: 39-42

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Banner for the Theological Declaration of Barmen

BARMEN DECLARATION


In view of the errors of the "German Christians" and of the present Reich Church Administration, which are ravaging the Church and at the same time also shattering the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths: 


1. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved." John 10:1,9 Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death. We reject the false doctrine that the Church could and should recognize as a source of its proclamation, beyond and besides this one Word of God, yet other events, powers, historic figures and truths as God's revelation. 


2. "Jesus Christ has been made wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption for us by God." 1 Cor. 1:30 As Jesus Christ is God's comforting pronouncement of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, with equal seriousness, he is also God's vigorous announcement of his claim upon our whole life. Through him there comes to us joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free, grateful service to his creatures. We reject the false doctrine that there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ but to other lords, areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him. 


3. "Let us, however, speak the truth in love, and in every respect grow into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body is joined together." Eph. 4:15-16 The Christian Church is the community of brethren in which, in Word and Sacrament, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ acts in the present as Lord. With both its faith and its obedience, with both its message and its order, it has to testify in the midst of the sinful world, as the Church of pardoned sinners, that it belongs to him alone and lives and may live by his comfort and under his direction alone, in expectation of his appearing. We reject the false doctrine that the Church could have permission to hand over the form of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day. 


4. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to have authority over you must be your servant." Matt. 20:25-26 The various offices in the Church do not provide a basis for some to exercise authority over others but for the ministry [lit., "service"] with which the whole community has been entrusted and charged to be carried out. We reject the false doctrine that, apart from this ministry, the Church could, and could have permission to, give itself or allow itself to be given special leaders [Führer] vested with ruling authority. 


5. "Fear God. Honor the Emperor." 1 Pet. 2:17 Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God's Dominion [Reich], God's commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things. We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfil the vocation of the Church as well. We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State. 


6. "See, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt. 28:20 "God's Word is not fettered." 2 Tim. 2:9 The Church's commission, which is the foundation of its freedom, consists in this: in Christ's stead, and so in the service of his own Word and work, to deliver all people, through preaching and sacrament, the message of the free grace of God. We reject the false doctrine that with human vainglory the Church could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of self-chosen desires, purposes and plans. The Confessing Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a confederation of Confessing Churches. It calls upon all who can stand in solidarity with its Declaration to be mindful of these theological findings in all their decisions concerning Church and State. It appeals to all concerned to return to unity in faith, hope and love. 


Verbum Dei manet in aeternum. 

The Word of God will last for ever. 


Adapted from Robert McAfee Brown, Kairos: Three Prophetic Challenges to the Church, published in 1990 by Wm. B. Eerdmans. 


About this testimony: 


The Barmen Declaration, 1934, was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the Nazi state. Almost immediately after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Protestant Christians faced pressure to "aryanize" the Church, expel Jewish Christians from the ordained ministry and adopt the Nazi "Führer Principle" as the organizing principle of church government. In general, the churches succumbed to these pressures, and some Christians embraced them willingly. The pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement became a force in the church. They glorified Adolf Hitler as a "German prophet" and preached that racial consciousness was a source of revelation alongside the Bible. But many Christians in Germany—including Lutheran and Reformed, liberal and neo-orthodox—opposed the encroachment of Nazi ideology on the Church's proclamation. At Barmen, this emerging "Confessing Church" adopted a declaration drafted by Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Lutheran theologian Hans Asmussen, which expressly repudiated the claim that other powers apart from Christ could be sources of God's revelation. Not all Christians courageously resisted the regime, but many who did—like the Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Roman Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg—were arrested and executed in concentration camps. The spirituality of the Barmen Declaration profoundly influenced many of the first generation of pastors and laypeople who formed the United Church of Christ in 1957.