ZION UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
22 Gettysburg Street Box 538
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 5, 2020
Before you begin to follow this service and before you view/read the sermon, please get a piece of bread and keep it close by.
Please also read the Scripture lessons for the morning.
Welcome to Zion and a special welcome to our visitors. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic we are unable to gather as a community of faith in the sanctuary, so if you have chosen to view the YouTube worship opportunity, we invite you to use this revised bulletin to pause for reflection and as an expression of your abiding faith that our God is merciful and present with us in these difficult days. It is most likely the same sermon that we will share at the outdoor worship at 9:00 am. We hope you are keeping safe and maintaining social distance in order to slow down the spread of the virus and protect yourself. But please continue to check on your friends and neighbors via social media or the telephone. We may learn a new meaning of community and caring by the time that things return to a more regular routine. God bless!!
Light a candle before beginning your personal worship, signifying the presence of God in this time.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
This is God’s house of worship.
We are God’s family.
This is God’s day.
We are God’s handiwork.
This is God’s Word.
We are God’s servants.
* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
We come today from different places, with many needs,
with different concerns, with varying strengths and weaknesses.
But whoever we are and wherever we are in terms of spiritual maturity,
we come in faith – open to your Spirit, willing to be fed,
willing to grow, and anticipating a new experience of your presence.
TIME OF CONFESSION
God has chosen us to be holy and blameless in love before our Creator.
In our hearts, we know we do not measure up to that high calling.
We have built many barriers in our lives against true communion with God
and honest community with one another.
In our prayer of confession, we seek help to remove those barriers.
We confess, holy God, that on the inside we are not always the same people
that we seem to be on the outside.
On the outside we are smiling,
but on the inside we are struggling.
On the outside we act friendly,
but on the inside we harbor grudges.
On the outside we are faithful,
but on the inside we waver.
On the outside we say the right words,
but on the inside we think the wrong thoughts.
Pardon us, we pray, in the name of Jesus,
and cleanse us both on the outside and the inside by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Now let us silently reflect on the personal sins and fears that
keep us from being fully free.
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
Thanks be to God for this magnificent gift of love.
THE GIVING OF OURSELVES AND OUR OFFERINGS
Let us give in the spirit of gratitude.
Let us give with a prayer on our lips.
Let us give with confidence that God will use our gifts.
(Your ongoing support is appreciated and can be mailed to Zion United Church of Christ, PO Box 538, Arendtsville, Pennsylvania 17303. The work and witness of Zion continues in new ways as we adjust to this new normal.)
*PRAYER OF DEDICATION
We give with gratitude, with joy, and with love,
for you have found us worthy to be expressions of your love and concern.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON
Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-49, 58-67, p.19 (OT)
4:34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant.
24:35 The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys.
24:36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has.
24:37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live;
24:38 but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’
24:42 “I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going!
24:43 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,”
24:44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also” –let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’
24:45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
24:46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels.
24:47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms.
24:48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.
24:49 Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”
24:58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.”
24:59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men.
24:60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “May you, our sister, become thousands
of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes.”
24:61 Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
24:62 Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb.
24:63 Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming.
24:64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel,
24:65 and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself.
24:66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
24:67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Romans 7: 15-25, p. 147 (NT)
7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
7:17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.
7:22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self,
7:23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
7:25a Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
St. Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30, p. 11 (NT)
11:16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
11:17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’;
11:19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;
11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
THE MESSAGE FOR THE MORNING – You can also view the sermon at https://youtu.be/c-QmZ2QLMQg
July 5, 2020
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-29, 58-67
Romans 7: 15-25a
St. Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30
You ever have one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? From the time you got up in the morning until sunset, you felt like you were swimming upstream and the harder you tried to swim, the swifter the current against you. You worked hard but nothing seems to be accomplished; you can’t see any positive results. Well, it appears that Jesus was having one of those days. It began with the disciples of John the Baptist coming to Jesus, asking if he was indeed the one whom John said was coming. How disappointing that must have been for Jesus. The one person he might expect to recognize the power of God at work through him, now sends his followers to ask Jesus if he really is that one. Jesus is upset because John is perhaps doubting; so, Jesus tells John’s disciples to look around at what is going on. The miracles of healing and the Good News preached to the poor.
Jesus looks around at the crowd gathered there, and realizes he is getting no response to his message. It’s business as usual for the people. They were so preoccupied with their own activities and interests to be too much bothered with Jesus’ words. Jesus was a sideshow, a diversion from the important things of life. Those who were leading citizens were too busy to take notice. Jesus was being overlooked, as if what he was saying was not at all important. As a matter of fact, the religious people were hurling great insults at him, saying, “He is a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts.”
The frustration continues. The people in the towns where Jesus performed most of his miracles did not respond as he had hoped. Repentance, a change in their way of living, did not result from their experience of God’s power at work through Jesus. And he warns these towns that when the Day of Judgment comes, they will suffer greatly because they ignored the meaning of this Good News.
Jesus was certainly having a bad day. It would have been very easy for him to just go away somewhere, give up, keep God’s message to himself. It seemed all his work and effort were going to waste, falling on deaf ears, making no difference; the work was a burden, a chore, with no fulfilment. But Jesus does not give up. Instead it is at this moment that Jesus turns to God in prayer. An unusual prayer for this time, because it was a prayer of thanks to God; not a prayer of frustration, but a prayer expressing thanks that there were a few common, ordinary people, scorned by those who were leading citizens, who did seem to understand what Jesus’ message was all about. In this Jesus found hope, a bit of thanks in the midst of a bad day. Jesus gave thanks for the few who did respond.
After his prayer, Jesus shares his own experience of God to those who are his followers. For in God, Jesus found strength and rest and confidence. His own burdens and struggles were lighter because he knew one who was greater than he shared the load. As he was doing the work God intended for him, Jesus experienced a rest and satisfaction and fulfilment; success found, not in an enthusiastic response from the crowd, but in doing what God intended for him. It is this experience that Jesus promises to us as well. Too often we find this business of being Christian a burden and struggle. It’s discouraging, at times, to find that people remain unenthusiastic, disinterested, busy about their own affairs, so self-absorbed that they fail to respond to the Good News of God’s love and mercy.
We celebrate July 4th this weekend , which is normally a time to rejoice, celebrate our freedom, and affirm our unity as a nation in spite of our differences. Unfortunately, this year seems to have only raised an awareness of how divided we seem to be. It seems that the values and the ideas that built this nation are being eroded and ignored. The security and the opportunities seem to have disappeared. Increasingly, newspaper headlines are filled with bad news – people choosing to make a political issue out of a real health problem; confronted by people who feel they have been denied the opportunities of the American dream; in spite of what has been said that this has been the best economic times of the country, there are many who struggle to pay their bills and feed their families and worry about job security; the stress of not knowing how health care will look in the near future; the intensity of the antagonism toward those who are different; the hostility, both verbal and physical, that seems to impact people’s dealing with one another. God’s Good News seems to be lost in a society that appears to be heading toward self-destruction. In the midst of this we who bear the Good News of hope, of love, of God’s mercy, who seek to promote justice and understanding, who try to bring reconciliation, can be very discouraged, tempted to throw up our hands, admit defeat and go home, slam the door, and give up. The burden of doing God’s will, what God intends for us to do, is too great and we could easily surrender our witness.
There is a sense of fear that has penetrated our society, and the only one who rejoices over the power of fear is the power of evil. Evil wants nothing less than for people to be divided against one another, for people to demonstrate mistrust and suspicion, for walls and barriers to be built between people, for fear to control our daily activities and make us less compassionate and less supportive of one another. Those who allow fear to control their lives and their actions are only allowing the power of evil to gain and to spread discord and division.
But we who affirm our Christian faith are challenged in these days to find opportunities that we have to make a difference and to encourage in the midst of difficulties. The opportunity for families to find simple pleasures together, the opportunity to work together with neighbors to support one another, the opportunity for the church to offer stability and meaning of eternal worth, a turn to the truly important things rather than chase after illusions. It will not be easy because the patterns of discord and fear are becoming deeply ingrained, but we must work toward a new understanding of what is real and what sustains us.
In today’s Gospel message we find hope, the courage to continue to proclaim the good news even if it falls on deaf ears. We do it, not because it brings an enthusiastic response from the crowds or that we successfully turn society around. No, we bear the Good News because it is what God wants us to do and because we find in doing what God wants a measure of rest, of freedom, of hope, of peace. We bear the Good News because we know there will be a few, maybe only one, who will hear and respond. We bear the Good News because it is the only thing we can do that brings us the freedom from the worries and fears and burdens. The Gospel message this morning is a word of encouragement to us.
Even Jesus had bad days. But he didn’t give up or retreat within himself. Rather he prayed and received the rest and strength and courage to continue his work in the days ahead. So may it be for us as well.
SERVICE OF THE BREAD OF LIFE
(please take the bread into your hands)
We lift up to you, O God, our praise and thanksgiving
for your wondrous love made known in all times and in all places.
Even though we live in days of change, when we are not exactly sure how the future will unfold, your care and concern for us is steadfast and secure.
We trust that, through you, we will find a hope and a peace
that will endure wherever the journey may lead.
You challenge us to be your witnesses as we go about our daily living.
May we be found faithful to you. Enable us to look within ourselves
and see how we might make a difference as we go about our daily tasks.
A kind word, a gesture of care and concern, the ability to make others know they are children of your love, recognizing that all people should be treated with worth
and dignity, able to express our faith as a reassurance to those who need hope.
Help us to understand that even the smallest gesture on our part
can make a world of difference to someone who feels stressed and alone.
So, bless this bread which we eat that it might strengthen us for the week ahead,
both in giving us a sense of hope and peace
and giving us the courage to accept the challenges of living as your people.
May it so remind us of your love for us that we might share that same love with others.
And being fed, may we continue with a new and profound hope,
rejoicing in the days that you give us.
(you may now eat the bread)
Let us pray.
Almighty and ever living God, we thank you for feeding us and for assuring us
that we are living members of your blessed and eternal community.
And now, Holy One, send us out to do the work that you
have given us to do, to love and to serve you as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
During this virus crisis, the Office Manager will often be working from home. Please call the office before stopping by.
Cancellation of Worship: If outdoor worship is cancelled due to inclement weather, an email blast will be sent and a message placed on the church answering machine by 7:30 a.m. The email will have an invitation to Zoom worship at 9:00 a.m.
Coming Up Next Week:
July 5 Outdoor Worship Zion House 9:00 a.m.
July 12 Outdoor Worship Zion House 9:00 a.m.
July 13 Ladies Breakfast Apple Bin 9:00 a.m.
Pastoral Care: Now that we have entered the “green” phase, if you are interested in having a visit from the pastor please let him know. George is quite willing to do home visitation, but it needs to be at your comfort and convenience.
Volunteer Needed – Zion is looking for someone to fill the shoes of Dawn C. as Christian Ed. Secretary. If you’ve been searching for a way to be more involved with the life of the church, this might be the opportunity you want! Please see Minda H. or Craig L. about the duties involved.
Hot Dog Roast: We had an enjoyable evening on June 28th with good food and good conversation. The next hog dog roast is July 26th at 6:00 p.m.
Ladies Breakfast Group: Don’t forget about the Ladies Breakfast at The Apple Bin July 13th at 9:00 a.m.!
Men’s Breakfast Group: Zion’s men will meet for breakfast at The Apple Bin on Monday, July 20th at 8:00 a.m. Please call Eddie D. if you plan to attend.
Ice Cream Fundraiser: McDannell’s Fruit Market is planning to hold an ice cream sale to benefit the Bieseckers on August 2nd. In previous years, Zion also held a Bake Sale at the market but has decided to not do that this year. We hope to pick up again next year so if you discover a delightful dessert or snack, keep that recipe on hand for next year!