February 28, 2021 Worship Services : set our mind on divine things by Melody Oltmann
The mission of the First Presbyterian Church of Le Claire is to continue to be a warm and welcoming church that actively shows the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Feb. 28, 2021
GREETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
PASSING THE PEACE
A MOMENT OF SILENCE TO PREPARE FOR WORSHIP
Unison Call to worship
Holy God: Father, Son and Holy Ghost; God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses; God of our parents and grandparents, hear and know our words of praise, adoration and glory. They are all and only for you. Amen.
Song OF Praise (The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.) You may sing to yourself.
Holy Spirit, Come to Us
A READING For MEDITATION (Listen and meditate during silent pauses) Romans 4:13-17
The promise to Abraham and to his descendants, that he would inherit the world, didn’t come through the Law but through the righteousness that comes from faith. If they inherit because of the Law, then faith has no effect and the promise has been canceled. The Law brings about wrath. But when there isn’t any law, there isn’t any violation of the law. That’s why the inheritance comes through faith, so that it will be on the basis of God’s grace. In that way, the promise is secure for all of Abraham’s descendants, not just for those who are related by Law but also for those who are related by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us. As it is written: I have appointed you to be the father of many nations. So Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in whom he had faith, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist into existence.
Responsive Reading Psalm 22:23-31
Song OF Blessing (The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.) You may sing to yourself.
Bless the Lord – Psalm 103:1
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L: God of justice and mercy, Christ of light and life, Spirit of compassion and joy, forgive us when our compassion runs short; forgive us when we worship in word but not in truth;
P: forgive us when we side with the powerful rather than the poor and meek.
L: Shine into the dark places of our lives and into the shadowy depths of our souls.
P: Loosen the bonds of sin and selfishness within us, that we might loosen the bonds of injustice and oppression in our world.
L: In your grace and mercy, transform us into vessels of light, that we might be lamps shining on a hill with compassion and kindness, justice and mercy.
P: Christ, have mercy upon us. Wondrous God, who freely pours out the Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us.
L: Hear us now as we silently confess our personal sins (time for silent prayer) . . . . . . in
P:Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Prayer song (The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.) You may sing to yourself.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
L: When we accept Christ’s gift of grace, God releases us from the yoke of sin and sorrow, and we are able to live as God’s chosen ones. Rejoice, sisters and brothers, in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven. Alleluia, praise God! … Now, forgiven, we are living vessels of light and love. May our light shines before others.
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION:
P: O Lord, may your word be a light for our path, showing us where to walk and how to talk. Shine your light into the darkness of our hearts and world. Amen.
A Reading of the GOSPEL (Listen and meditate during silent pauses) Gospel Mark 8:31-38
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” …. He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Response of Praise (The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.) You may sing to yourself.
Glory to the Father
Meditation set our mind on divine things
Long ago, one of my responsibilities as the company nurse was to organize and recruit donors for the company’s annual blood drive. We had a blood drive every six months. My goal was always to get two or three more people than the time before. There were basically three groups of people. One group always gave and were happy to sign up. Another group couldn’t give blood because they took certain medications, or they had a medical history that did not allow them to give. It never failed to surprise me how many people were in the third group: the people who just didn’t want to give blood. I certainly heard numerous excuses: I think I might be too underweight to give; I’m allergic to pain; I don’t like needles; I don’t like to look at blood. Those who thought they were underweight, said it with a wink, and I could see that they weighed more than 100#, so I knew that wasn’t true. I gently reminded people that no one likes pain, needles or looking at blood. The biggest complaint was the painful finger stick at the beginning of the process to check hemoglobin. Well, they were right; the needlestick was painful. But really? The pain lasted less than a minute. The benefits of blood donations literally meant they could save lives, with their donation; but some just couldn’t get past the pain of the finger stick.
One year, I was especially motived to get a big number of donors, after watching a short video about a mother to be in labor who nearly died along with her newborn because of a bleeding problem. About that same time, I heard today’s gospel lesson. As I asked people to donate blood, if they had an excuse, I would share the story of the mother in labor AND, I would tell them that it was their sacrifice of a sore finger that might save a life! It sounds kind of silly doesn’t it – a finger stick is a sacrifice; but in this situation I think it was true. These people were giving of themselves for the life of another. Often we are called in big and small ways, to give of ourselves for others. How might a change in our perspective help us more closely follow Jesus?
The Disciples couldn’t understand why Jesus was talking about suffering, after hearing that Jesus was the Messiah, the one to save Israel. Most likely the Disciples had their minds on earthly things, just as Peter did. Things like winning for Israel; a powerful and successful king, like King David; and a position of power for themselves. Jesus had his mind on heavenly and divine things: sacrificing self for others; working toward God’s kingdom, where all people are respected and empowered; regardless of their race, religion, socio-economic background or sex; where all people have enough to eat and safe housing. As one writer says, “Jesus came to agitate!”
You might remember seeing an agitator in a top loading washing machine. The agitator twists back and forward, to mix the water and soap and to loosen the dirt on the clothes. Kinda like this: (Pastor steps forward and does some gentle twisting.) No; Jesus did not come to create a new dance. Jesus came to make big changes; changes so that the least important, the least valued people will be fed, clothed, healed and empowered to do and to be more. Changes that said the mighty will lose their power; they will step down or fall down, so ALL people will have enough. No wonder the Temple officials and the government officials were concerned and even afraid of Jesus and His message. Jesus was talking about a redistribution because in God’s eyes, all people are equal. The Roman and Temple leaders were upset; they did not want to let go of their power, their privilege and their prestige. They preferred to continue to lord over others.
Jesus was telling the Disciples that His message would surely end in His suffering and death. The Disciples either couldn’t hear this or didn’t want to hear this. They expected Jesus to conquer by force and power. Jesus had a different plan; to conquer with love and forgiveness.
Of course, Jesus was right. His message of freedom, equality and enough for everyone led to His suffering and His death. But death and destruction did not have the final word. Now Jesus reigns in heaven. Now Jesus calls on us to agitate – to share the love and peace and message of enough for everyone. Sometimes that it a difficult message to share with others and to hear for ourselves. We don’t think we are “that” rich and powerful. We don’t see ourselves as part of the problem. We hope; we want to be part of the solution – giving small bits and pieces of our time, talent and treasure.
Jesus is calling us to do and to be more. So right now, let’s take a moment and stand up. Come on – whether you are here or watching online: stand up right now for Jesus. That’s it; good. Now, follow my lead: twist to the right; then twist to the left. Now repeat several times! Yes. Jesus is calling us to agitate! (Ok, you can sit down.) We are to look for and to FIND ways to be more willing, more generous with ourselves and our possessions. We are to have a changed attitude – one where our mind is set on divine things not earthly things. We are to live with an mindset of having less, of letting go and giving more. We are to live in a new way; not figuring out how this or that might work into our lives, with little inconvenience. Rather we are to think how we can help others first; then to go about doing this or that, regardless of the cost to us. Doing, regardless of the cost – that is sacrificial living. That is taking up the cross and following Jesus.
For my work colleagues years ago, it was having a painful finger stick and giving a pint of blood. For some, that might a worthy sacrifice today. Our church has a history and a reputation of helping others. In 2011, a group of us went to Joplin to help after a massive tornado hit the town. For several years Sue has gone to Costa Rica; and in some years, some of us have gone with her, to serve the poor there. One year Chuck and I joined with a group of Lutherans to participate in home repairs in Kentucky. Many of you have your own stories of service, whether it was service here or service elsewhere. The Riverview Optimists take care of the backpack program in the Le Claire area.
They give of their time and talent to agitate the world for some students who would be hungry without this program. Right now, we are gathering mittens, gloves, socks and hats to others. There are so, so many ways to be an agitator – to make changes. Jesus is calling us to do and to be a change agent in small and powerful ways.
What other ways can we join Jesus in agitating, in turning the world upside by doing things first because it helps someone; secondly, doing things without worrying what the cost is to us. For some, that might mean helping in our Wednesday Night Program, once we resume that. For others, it might be giving a generous amount of money, while NOT wondering or worrying how that donation will affect everyday life. For all of us, it is a change in attitude. With God’s help, we can become more engaged in social justice – that is speaking up and speaking out for people who have less and for people who are considered to be less than worthy. That means we are to see, REALLY SEE people of color; see what is going on in their lives and consider how we can sacrificially respond. And then, make and BE the change. For example, we might start by joining with others in the video study the Presbytery is doing. There is a small group participating in the 5-week program on Wednesday evenings at 4 pm, right here in the sanctuary. Yes; the title might not sound interesting or “be your cup of tea”. And, yes; the time of day might be inconvenient, but Jesus is talking about sacrifice! Can you make a commitment to come to the four remaining classes, for the next for Wednesdays? If not, can you make a commitment to participate in a book study about social justice and racism in April. Jesus is asking us to follow Him, by putting our minds on divine things and living sacrificially. How and when will you agitate this day, this week and this year?
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.
AFFIRMING OUR FAITH
Offering Happy are those who love the Lord! It is well with those who share generously and conduct their lives with justice and mercy. God of light and love, shine through these offerings, so our love may radiate throughout the world.
- Our lighted candles remind us that Christ is the Light of the World. In Christ, we too, are the light of the world. Your light joins with the light of the others as together we are the body of Christ. (The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.) You may sing to yourself.
(The pianist will play it once alone; then Marty will sing twice.)
In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful – Isaiah 12:2
L: Lord Christ, reveal the presence of your Kingdom in our midst.
P: O God, keep watch over the gate of our lips; May every hurt of this day be buried in your forgiveness.
L: O Christ, by your life offered to God, show us the road to life.
P: O Christ, remain alongside all who are undergoing a time of suffering: the dying, the ill and the homeless. Be with those we name in our hearts.
L: O Christ, keep us from the snares of discouragement and worry.
P: Our eyes are turned to you, Lord; our soul finds rest in you.
L: O Christ, you gave peace and comfort to the tax collector and the adulterous woman;
P: may we also find peace and comfort in you.
L: O Christ, in you, our resurrection has already begun;
P: may we live in this new way, loving all; giving all glory to you.
L: Living God, at times, we are like strangers on the earth, distressed by the violence and the harsh challenges of life. Yet, you breathe on us and the Spirit of peace comforts like a gentle breeze. Transform our doubts; prepare us to be bearers of reconciliation, wherever you place us, until Peace comes fully to our world. You called us to follow the steps of Your Son in ministering to the sick and suffering. Grant us the same spirit of compassion that by gentleness and love, in faithfulness and patience, we may serve those in need. Support us in our work, giving us wisdom and skill, empathy and generosity for one another. Hear our prayers for our friends and family: . . . hear us as we pray together
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and, God, our God of love and peace will be with you.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you, be with your family and be with all of God’s family. Alleluia. Amen.
~ Music CCLI 1259100
Today: Congregational meeting directly after worship for the sole purpose of voting to purchase new video equipment.
Unholy Ghost, 6pm
Tue Chair aerobics, 10 am
Wed Unholy Ghost, 4 pm
Thu Chair aerobics, 10 am
Sat Men’s Group at church, 7:30 am;
PRAYER REQUESTS Pray for these: our members and friends in nursing homes, all veterans,
our members and friends in nursing homes, all veterans, service men & women & their families; all who have been sentenced to life without parole; all fire, law enforcement, & EMS personnel; June L; Pat and Jim Collins; Kaye Hale; Phyllis Dearing; Jessie Borgman; Tom Bloomingdale; Donna Luchman; Sue and Steve Rodgers; Jan and Kirk Barkdoll; Sally Hackett; Gary Martin, L.C. Chamberlin, Wes and Joyce Kuehl; Paul Glispie; Abbas; Pryce Boeye; Ken Stinson; Betty Penry’s daughter, Amy; Wes and Joyce’s daughter, Anna; Marilyn’s son, Brad; Marilyn’s daughter, Candy; Jan’s and Kirk’s daughter, Amber; Chris’ and Colleen’s aunt, Joan; Duane’s and Pastor Melody’s daughter, Shannon; Rose’s and Bruce’s friends, Bill and Linda; Kari Long; Randy Goslin; Marty; Mission Starfish, Haiti.
Musician: Stacy Worship Leader: Marty AV: Duane and Wendi
Counters Today: Joyce and Diane
Counters Next Week: Colleen and Chris
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