August 29, 2021 Worship Services " Reflecting our Faith"
by Kristy Parker
SERVICE FOR THE LORD’S DAY
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· The ushers will return to passing the bulletins out as you enter and social distancing is still is required in sanctuary
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
· Dr Dyke has started a Bible study on Wednesdays at 3pm sign-up sheet outside Pastor Study
Session has voted to open the church during the week once again from
Monday- Thursday; 9:30-1:30 PM.
Sept 1st Bible Study
Sept 8th Ladies Lunch Bunch
Sept 8th Bible study
Sept 12 Session
Sept 15th Articles for Pulse Due
Gary Iverson, all who are seeking Jesus, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Jack Braden, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Valerie Jerez, Annette Conzett, Jackie with difficult pregnancy, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Jane with upcoming knee surgery, Deb Weller death of father in-law and upcoming surgery, people of India, Amy Jacobs, Bonnie Pillers, Pawlik Family in the loss of an infant, the Wynn family at the loss of Lametta Mike Niles, Harlen Marx had a knee replacement Tom Kelly who is recovering from surgery, may we be sincere in taking the time to ask the Lord for His Blessings and thanking Him for everything, and Lois Seger
WORDS OF WORSHIP from Psalm 95
One: Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
All: Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
One: For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
All: In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
One: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
All: for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
GATHERING PRAYER (Unison)
O God, we praise you for who you are. You are the maker of all things good - the earth in its glorious beauty, and the creatures that inhabit the forests, skies and sea. You created us to bear your image in this world, to enjoy its abundance, to care for it, and to spread your love to all. We praise you for your goodness and grace, and for the gift of this day. You have called us into this place to hear from you, to know you, and to be loved by you. We pray that this time of worship might honor you and bind us together as your people. In Christ, we pray, Amen.
*HYMN “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing ” No. 356
CONFESSION AND PARDON (Unison)
Before God and with the people of God, we confess to our brokenness: to the ways we wound our lives, the lives of others, and the life of the world. May God forgive us, Christ renew us, and the Spirit enable us to grow in love.
(a moment of silent confession)
Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news! God’s love for you is deep, complete, and forever. In Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Know that, and be at peace. Amen.
THE PASSING OF THE PEACE
THE OFFERING AND OFFERTORY
O Lord, we offer these gifts to you, the fruit of our labor from the work of our hands. We pray that they might go forth from here to bless your people, and to serve as your Word in action to all who receive them. In Christ we pray, Amen.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
O Lord your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Send your Holy Spirit to help us receive it. Engrave it on our heart, that we might not only hear it, but live it, bearing witness to your love to a world in need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Isaiah 55: 6-13
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, “declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
James 1: 17-27
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
SERMON “Reflecting our Faith”
. Maybe some of you are familiar with the Greek myth about Narcissus. Narcissus was a young boy who wandered into the forest one day, and stopped by a crystal-clear pool to get a drink of water because he was very thirsty. He knelt down to drink, and then he saw a sight that entranced him. It was a beautiful face with wide eyes and curving lips and a noble nose – it was so beautiful that it made him breathless, and he forgot his thirst and leaned closer and closer to the water. He was so fascinated by the face in the water that he wanted to kiss it, but every time he tried to touch it, the surface would dissolve in the stirring of the water. And so, Narcissus would kneel there by the pond forlorn, until the water stilled and he could see the face again, and then yearn with all his heart and soul and mind for the beautiful one in the pool – which was, of course, his own reflection. And from then on, he never loved anyone else, because he never moved on from this obsession with himself. He was so self-absorbed that he eventually starved to death because he couldn’t leave his own reflection.
We’ve heard the term, “narcissism” used, or we’ve heard someone referred to as being “narcissistic.” When we hear someone described this way, we know it means that the person is self-centered, a maybe a little conceited, believing the whole world revolves around him or her. I suppose we all have a few “narcissistic” moments from time to time. But if our preoccupation with self becomes too great, we end up starving ourselves like Narcissus did.
Our reading from James today talks about “looking in a mirror.” This person has the opposite problem. James refers to a person who “looks at his face in a mirror, and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” This can be a problem too – failing to look in the mirror, never slowing down to take a look at ourselves, or care for ourselves.
What James is really talking about in our passage today is examining ourselves in relationship to the word of God. What he says, in verses 22 and 23 is, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
As Christians, we’ve been given God’s word as truth for our lives. We are to read the Word, focus on the Word, meditate on the Word and absorb it the way the earth absorbs the water after a rain. That Word of God planted in us is the truth and it has the power to save us, and to bless the world through us.
We spend time soaking in it, but that’s only the first step. James says then we have to do it. When we fail to put the word planted within us into action, it’s like looking at ourselves in the mirror and then forgetting what we look like, forgetting who we are, forgetting we’re Christians. When Christians look in the mirror, we’re supposed to our lives reflecting what we’ve read in the Bible. We’re supposed to see the Word of God, the truth at work. Our lives are supposed to reflect Christ.
This is different than the self-absorption of Narcissus, who looked into the mirror and only saw himself. When a Christian looks in the mirror, he or she is looking to see where God is reflected in his or her life. As Christians, we want to see Jesus looking back. This is not just for us as individuals, but also for us as a church.
There are many theories about who James was, but it’s most likely that he was Jesus’ brother, and that he was the pastor of one of the earliest Christian churches
Apparently, the church, even in the earliest days, wasn’t turning out to be a model community of good behavior. People in the early church were acting in ways that weren’t too Christian – imagine that! They claimed a lot of wisdom about the Christian way, but they weren’t living it. According to church tradition, James was nicknamed, “Old Camel Knees” because of the thick calluses that were built up on his knees from so many years of being down on them praying for his church.
James wasn’t just writing to individual Christians, but to the whole Christian community. He was very concerned with morals or right behavior. In fact, there are 109 verses in James, and 59 places where he’s giving them explicit instructions or telling them what to do. In this way, his writing reflects the Greek and Roman culture of his time. There were a lot of philosophies that spoke to morality.
James’ writing also, though, reflects his Jewish roots and his respect for the Torah. In the writings of the Torah, or the first five books of our Old Testament, we remember that there is a great deal of attention to the Law. We think of the law as expressed in the Ten Commandments. The law is not just a set of dos and don’ts, but a covenant between God and his people to help them live in a community of faith together, honoring him and honoring one another.
James’ concern is with morals rather than manners. It wasn’t just about helping people be polite so they could find their place and succeed in the world. It is about the moral and ethical behavior that brothers and sisters in faith exhibit toward one another as a family of faith bound together by common values and convictions founded in their faith in Jesus Christ. So above all, James’ letter is unmistakably Christian.
In our passage for today, James begins by saying in verse 17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created.”
God is the source of everything good. He has planted his word within us and it has the power to save us. God calls us to live lives shaped by the gifts he’s given us to contribute to the well-being of our whole community, not just for our own good. We’re not meant to be in rivalry and competition with each other. The wisdom from below, the world’s wisdom is based on desire and envy, and it leads to every form of competition, violence, and eventually murder and war. The wisdom from above, God’s wisdom is given through his word. It’s a wisdom that measures reality according to God’s gifts rather than according to our possessions, and that leads to a life lived in cooperation and peace.
James’s particular targets were those in his church who might understand these things in their heads and profess them with their mouths, but they didn’t live them out in their lives. They didn’t practice what they preached; their walk didn’t match their talk, to throw out a couple of clichés.
James calls them “double-minded.”
So, let’s look at the mirror analogy again. What do we see when we look in the mirror?
First, James says, we should “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
If we believe what we’ve read in the Bible, then our lives should reflect persons who are not always flying off the handle about things. We all have people who make us angry and situations that make our tempers flare. The best way to blow our Christian witness is to blow up and say something ugly. As Christians, we cultivate the habit of holding our tongues. Are there times when we need to speak. Of course. But we wait until we have heard the other person out, and had time to pray about our response before we say what we need to say, and then we do it with gentleness and respect.
There’s a story in one of my devotional books where the writer talks about how her mother would help her overcome her fiery temper when she was a little girl. She says, “Whenever I had a tantrum, my mother would say very quietly, ‘You’re forgetting yourself, dear; mod-u-late your voice and then it won’t hurt so much.’ That always brought me up short. Once I answered, ‘All right, mother, I will remember myself,’ and finally all she had to say was: ‘Forgetting yourself? Modulate…’ and we’d both laugh.”
When we give in to feelings of anger, we’re forgetting ourselves. We’re forgetting what we’re supposed to look like as children of God. We’re failing to reflect our faith, and we lose our Christian witness.
James hits this again in verse 26: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
This applies not only to angry speech, but to gossip, or to speech of any kind that serves to tear others down or hinder what we’re supposed to be doing as the body of Christ. There is nothing that can get in the way of the ministry of the church so much as negative comments about others or complaints about what we don’t like. The words we say have power either to destroy or to build up. If there are problems, we always need to pray about how to address them and then use words that are constructive. We want to stay focused on the solution instead of the problem. What we focus on grows.
As Christians we focus on the word of God planted within us. If the words we speak have power in our lives, then the Word God speaks has even greater power. God’s words are words of hope and faith and assurance. They can work miracles.
As the prophet Isaiah says to us this morning:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Negative speech is draining and drying. God’s Word waters and refreshes and fills us, helping us to grow and to bear good fruit for him. When we believe his word and do it, then our lives reflect him.
James says in verse 21: “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
What behaviors do we have that we need to examine that aren’t good reflections of our faith? Do we fail to keep our word or do what we’ve said we’ll do? Are we inconsiderate or apathetic? Do we fail to pitch in and help where we’re needed? Do we take what isn’t ours, insist on having our own way, or strive after things we don’t really need? Do we spend our time doing things or going places that aren’t fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives or benefiting our families or our church? Do we act in ways that aren’t ethical or moral? If we do, then our lives are poor reflections of our faith. Our lives are supposed to reflect our maker, God. When we behave in ways that bring God sorrow, we drag the community of faith down, and we lose our Christian witness in the world.
James says in verse 27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widow in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Our Christian faith isn’t just about refraining from doing bad things, it’s also about participating in doing good things, about helping those in need.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
When we look in the mirror, who do we see?
Are we smaller than God intended us to be? Or are we confident in who we are, delighting in God’s presence within us? Is the person in the mirror our friend? Or are we constantly dwelling on our faults or on the faults of others? Maybe there’s a “shadow side” of our lives that needs some serious attention, or some help.
Writer Philip Yancey, in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? says “Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self. You become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?”
Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Spend some time there, not in self-centeredness and self-absorption like Narcissus. Spend some time looking at the child that God created. Believe the word he spoke to you when he said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
God’s word planted in us has the power to save us. Listen to it, do it, and reflect it.
*Hymn “Lord, I Want to be a Christian No. 372
*AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed, Ecumenical Version
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
He is seated on the right hand of the Father,
And he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
MORNING PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
*HYMN “O Jesus, I Have Promised ” No. 389
CHARGE & BLESSING
And now, may the grace, mercy, and peace which proceeds from God the Father, through Jesus Christ, the Son, and into the Holy Spirit within us, may it rest and abide within us, now and forever more. Amen
*Stand as you are able.
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