Worship: June 14, 2020

ZION UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

22 Gettysburg Street  Box 538

Arendtsville, Pennsylvania

Second Sunday after Pentecost

June 14, 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

Let us gather together all who have faith!

But our faith sometimes seems so small and our hearts seem so weak.

Even so, take courage. Our God can use even our small seeds of faith.

What can God do with the tiny grains of personal faith we bring?

Entrusted to God, tiny seeds of faith grow into plants of glory.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

 

* PRAYER OF INVOCATION

O God, you pour out the spirit of grace and love.

Deliver us from cold hearts and wandering thoughts,

that with steady minds and burning zeal

we may worship you in spirit and truth.

 

TIME OF CONFESSION

The confession of our sin before God and one another

reminds us that as individual believers and as a community of faith,

we do stray or turn from the ways of love and justice.

We believe that if we confess, we shall be forgiven and freed

from the burden of guilt and empowered to carry on the ministry of Christ.

Therefore, with confidence in the mercy of God, let us pray together.

We do not come to church to claim that we are better than others,

 or that we have attained a moral high ground.

Rather, we are here because we confess

 that we have fallen short and that we need a Savior.

Forgive us for any spiritual pride that remains in us,

as we pledge to increasingly put our faith and trust in you.

 

Now let us silently reflect on the personal sins and fears that

keep us from being fully free.

 

ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS

May God’s grace enfold you,

may God’s grace uphold you,

and give you peace.

Thank God for this magnificent gift of love.

 

THE GIVING OF OURSELVES AND OUR OFFERINGS

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,

and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

OFFERTORY

 

*PRAYER OF DEDICATION

We give these tithes and offerings anticipating a harvest —

not a harvest of financial return, but a harvest of satisfaction and joy

because we have the privilege of investing in the lives of others.

 

EPISTLE LESSON

Romans 5: 1-8, p. 145 (NT)

 

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
5:2 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.
5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5:5 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.
5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.
5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

 

GOSPEL LESSON

St. Matthew 9: 35 to 10:8, p. 9  (NT)

 

9:35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.
9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
9:38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
10:1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.
10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
10:3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
10:4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,
10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
10:7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
10:8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

 

SILENT PRAYER AND PREPARATION

 

THE MESSAGE FOR THE MORNING – (you can either read it or listen to it on youtube:  https://youtu.be/LA1EKp4dHGI)

June 14, 2020

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 18: 1-15 (21: 1-7)

Romans 5: 1-8

St. Matthew 9: 35 – 10:8 (9-23)

An attitude of gratitude can make a big difference in how we live our lives.  Let me make a suggestion for you to try in the coming week.  Each morning when you get up, think about the day ahead of you and give thanks to God for the opportunities that await you – opportunities to enjoy getting outside to appreciate the world that God has created, opportunities to visit or to talk with family and friends, opportunities to go about your daily tasks.  And each evening when you go to bed, think about the day just ended and how you have had opportunities to experience the joys and the challenges of that day finding thankfulness in having accomplished even the most routine and ordinary of tasks.  How your life has been blessed in each day.  Ask yourself, “How has God been present in my life – in ways of filling my life with good things, and in ways of protecting me from dangers and in ways of sustaining and supporting me in the midst of my struggles and frustrations”?  How have I experienced God in my life?

Particularly with everything going on in our society right now, that’s something we should all probably do a bit more often, isn’t it?  We get caught up in the everyday activities of our lives, we get so wrapped up in the normal routine of our lives, and we fail to pause for that crucial moment of reflection and thanksgiving.  And yet, my friends, that is important – and it is especially important if we are to take seriously today’s Gospel lesson.  For the beginning of sharing the good news of God’s love and mercy is simply to remember how we ourselves have experienced that love and mercy at work in our own lives.  You cannot share what you yourself have never experienced, and you cannot share unless you pause to think about what it means to have God’s love and mercy in your life.

Jesus tells us that there are many people who are worried, feeling helpless and out of control of their lives.  They are thirsting for good news, seeking guidance and direction, looking for a purpose and a meaning for their lives.  They need healing – emotional and psychological healing as much, if not more, than physical healing.  It was true in the days that Jesus walked this earth; it may be even more true today.  But those who seem to be willing to go out and serve God – who are ready to reap the harvest in the fields that are ripe, seem few in number.  The task seems overwhelming.  The work waits to be done.  Jesus wonders if you and I are willing to be witnesses to the good news of God’s love and mercy in a world that desperately needs to hear words of hope.  Are we grateful enough about how God has been present in our lives to want to share that possibility with others?

I can just imagine what might happen if Jesus would tell his followers today to go out with the same instructions he gave to the original twelve.  I can almost hear the response now.  “You want me to do what?”  “I don’t have any time to go out.”  “What do you expect of me?”  “That’s asking a bit much isn’t it?”  “What will my friends say?”  “That’s outside my comfort zone.”  I can just imagine all the excuses that would be made to avoid doing exactly what Jesus asks and tells his followers to do.

One of my observations about a lot of people who are basically good Christian people is that they have some very interesting expectations of God.  Their desire is that God should change things on earth.  God should make life less complicated, God should take away all the struggles and difficulties that people cope with, God should do all the work.  After all, God has the power, God knows what he wants human life to be like, so God if that is what you want, then change it for us.  It’s  like the person who is having problems and goes to a counselor – and then tells the counselor that his problem is everyone around him and if they would just be  different and change, then life would be good for that person.

That work is sometimes very exciting; sometimes it is rather routine and dull.  It is sometimes rewarding, more often difficult.  It requires that the laborers recognize within themselves how richly God has blessed their lives, for that recognition is the motivation, the reason for sharing the saving grace of God’s love and mercy in Christ Jesus.  There is a rich variety of labor that is needed.  Enough that all those who are willing can find a way to help reap the harvest.  Some of the labor will be with those who have been emotionally abused, who have suffered pains and difficulties in life and cannot understand why nor know how to cope.  They need to know that the God of hope will sustain them and strengthen them, not necessarily removing the difficulties but holding those who suffer tenderly.  Some of the labor will be with those who feel guilty, and whose guilt paralyzes them into shame; they need to hear of a forgiving and merciful God who has offered the gift of Jesus Christ on the cross for them.  There is a need for laborers willing to work with the poor, with those who cannot afford heat for their homes, who barely survive – laborers who recognize how their lives have been blessed with more than enough.  And some will labor with those whose relationship with God was growing at one time, but who for whatever reason, have wandered and strayed from the shepherd – laborers who are sensitive and encouraging.

The need is not so far away, is it?  I believe all of us know people who could use a bit of good news – within our own family, our neighbors, certainly within this community.  Will we be part of the labor force willing to go into the fields and share our experience of God’s presence in our lives?  Have we taken advantage of the opportunities we have, each day, to be God’s laborers?

Remembering God’s blessings in their lives brings with it a real measure of humility, for the laborers identify with those whom they seek  – “God, speak to me, that I may speak in living echoes of your tone; as you have sought, so let me seek your erring children lost and lone.”  There but for the grace of God go I – that is the attitude of the laborer.  But for a slight turn in the road, I could be the one caught up in despair and confusion.  It is grace that has kept me safe from the chaos of emotional bankruptcy.  I’m not sure how I would deal with some of the issues others I know have had to deal with – I would hope and pray that I would rely on God to support and sustain me, but I would not guarantee it.  Therefore, I cannot be too quick to judge, nor should I hasten to impose on others.  I can only be there to walk with them and share my experiences of God with them.

Who is going to reach out to the person who is truly lonely today – the one who is struggling with divorce and the turmoil that brings?  Who is going to labor with the new family in the community that needs a friendly smile and a welcome greeting?  Who is going to listen to the person who has lost a spouse?  Who is going to reach out to the oddball who doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world?

The good news of God’s love has little effect if it is kept within the confines of worship.  It isn’t something we are allowed to pull out of the racks at the beginning of worship and return at the end of worship like our hymnals.  The good news is not something that is to be preserved and aged like fine cheese.  The good news is not something to keep in a safe place, enclosed in glass and looked at on occasion.  The good news is meant to be spread.

Have you ever put stain on a piece of furniture?  You buy a piece of unfinished pine furniture and you take it home.  You also buy the wood stain finish that you would like.  And as you brush that stain on the furniture, it transforms the pine to another type of wood.  The stain seeps deeper and deeper into the grain of pine until the wood is different.  And so it is with the good news of God’s love and mercy – it is meant to transform, to make new people out of old, to change people so that they no longer are afraid, but live in confidence and hope.

Who is going to labor in the fields that are ready for the harvest?  Who is going to go to those who are wandering aimlessly and without purpose?  Who is going to go to those who have lost hope, who live fearfully and without confidence?  We, who have experienced the good news in our lives and have known God’s blessing as a matter of course every day, are called to be laborers.  We are chosen to be God’s servants in the service of all humanity, starting in our own community.  Because we know the presence of the living God, we should want others to have a similar knowledge.  Because we have known the peace Christ offers, we should be driven by the desire to share that good news.

To do the work of the laborers, God uses human hands and minds that have been gifted with all types of abilities and talents.  We are God’s hands and minds.  God has given us gifts we don’t deserve.  We simply give back to God what has been given to us.   We give you but your own, whate’er the gift may be; All that we have is yours alone, we give it gratefully.

God has entrusted us with much.  May we reflect on how richly our lives have been blessed.  May we make this a habit each and every day.  And then may we prove to be worthy laborers of the harvest that awaits.

 

SERVICE OF THE BREAD OF LIFE

(please take the bread into your hands)

Once again, O God, we are your scattered people, unable to worship together as we are used to and wishing that things would just get back to the normal we have known.

In our impatience we sometimes get frustrated and angry,

wanting to forget all the safety precautions and just take the risks of the coronavirus.

It almost seems worth the risk just to get back

to some sense of the way things used to be.

But we know, O gracious God, that would not be wise or be the best for others.

And we remember that there are many who are struggling more than we are.

Those small business owners who face the loss of their livelihood

and all they have worked for over the years,

those who are unemployed and fear that their jobs might be permanently lost,

those who are struggling with the coronavirus and their loved ones who are frantic.

In many ways our lives are untouched, and we can really go about our business

with just inconveniences and annoyances.  And for this we express our gratitude.

We take this bread, remembering that you continue to be near to us in these days,

and asking that you might be present in the bread that it might nourish us spiritually

for the week ahead.  May it give us strength and an abiding hope.

May it so remind us of your love for us that we might share that same love with others.

Even though we cannot be together as one, we remain together in your spirit

and we share in the breaking of the bread.

May this bread empower us to be your people wherever we might find ourselves.

May it remove all fear and all doubt, so that we might be nourished and strengthened, knowing that you walk with us in our journey of this life.

And being fed, may we continue with a new and profound hope,

always witnessing to your love by sharing that love and care and concern with others.

Bless this bread and us, that we may be your people at work in the world.

 

(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.

 

BENEDICTION

 

During this virus crisis, the Office Manager will often be working from home.  Please call the office before stopping by.

 Coming Up Next Week:

June 14                            Outdoor Worship             Zion House            9:00 a.m.

Zoom Worship                                              11:00 a.m.

June 15                            Consistory Zoom Mtg                                    7:00 p.m.

June 18                            Book Club                       Battersbys              6:00 p.m.

 

Looking Forward:

June 21                            Outdoor Worship             Zion House            9:00 a.m.

Zoom Worship                                              11:00 a.m.

 

Zion’s High School Graduates:  Zion takes great delight in honoring our high school graduates who have overcome a most challenging year as they pursued graduation.  We wish them well as they continue their studies.
   
Ashlyn M. Penn State Mont Alto – physical therapy assistant major
Katelyn M. Penn State Mont Alto – occupational therapy assistant major
Nick P. Elizabethtown College – occupational therapy major

 

Update on the Church Survey

Approximately four months ago, many of you completed the Holy Cow church survey (we had 85 respondents).  Over the past month, there have been multiple virtual meetings between Samaritan Counseling (organization that administered the survey) and the Consistory & Profile Committee members to review the results.  As we move forward, the Profile Committee will use the survey information to complete Zion’s profile.  Our intention is to share the survey results with the congregation at some point; however, we would like to do this in person when we are back in the sanctuary for worship.  You will be notified when that is going to happen.  Meanwhile, we thank you for your patience – Wayne B., Consistory President

 Fellowship Committee notices:  The Hot Dog Roasts at Zion House will be held the last Sunday in June, July, and August at 6:00 p.m.  Social distancing will be in effect; come join us for fellowship 6 feet apart.

Ladies Breakfast:  A note from Sally – Ladies, please join us July 13th at The Apple Bin at 9:00 a.m. for breakfast.  We will be in our normal room with tables spaced for social distancing.  Looking forward to seeing all of you.

Worship Update:   It was great to see so many of Zion’s members at outdoor worship at Zion House on June 7th, both inside their cars and in lawn chairs.  Kevin C.’s P.A. system worked beautifully, and we were able to come together again as a family of faith to worship God.  While we are thankful Adams County has moved to the green phase of re-opening, Consistory has resolved to continue worship outdoors through an abundance of care and concern for Zion’s membership.   Zoom worship will continue as long as it is being utilized.  The bulletin and sermon will be sent via email along with the link to the sermon on youtube.  How fortunate we are to have all these different worship choices!