July 26, 2020
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
- Attendance was taken by ushers as you entered.
- Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
- The bulletins were placed specifically for social distancing, one household per pew. Please sit exactly where you found your bulletin.
- Please keep your masks on and remain seated through the whole service.
- There will be no singing, and no physical contact.
- You may read along silently, but today there will be two questions at the end to which I will direct a short out loud response.
- Today, we will listen to the whole postlude before leaving one pew at a time allowing you to come past the pulpit area if you wish, so we can bid each other farewell.
- The office and the rest of the building remain closed, but you can contact Karla during her office hours.
- I will be here for meetings with Karla and Syd on Tuesday, but that is my last as I continue to use up vacation days.
- Session, you are meeting with the governing board of First Congregational Church next Sunday followed by your own meeting. The joint meeting is for the purpose of getting acquainted and sharing ideas for potential partnerships in future ministries. That may include educational ministries as we have shared with them in the past or joint special services as we started for Lent this year. I’m sure there are many other possibilities for local churches to help each other in ministry.
WORDS OF WORSHIP Psalm 100, NRSV
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, we your people come before you with our praise and thanksgiving, just as you ask us. We bring our prayers and our offerings, our needs and our burdens, our hopes and our dreams. We bring an openness not only to hear your Word, but to ponder it, to apply it, and to live it as best we are able. Lord, may your Holy Spirit hover among us this hour, that we might go home refreshed and inspired, ready to do your will. Amen.
CONFESSION AND PARDON Ephesians 2:1-5, CEV
1 In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. 2 You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. 3 Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.
Merciful God, forgive us for the times we have gone back to our old ways and sinned against one another, against your creation, and against you. As humans both our minds and our bodies can lead us far from your intentions for us. Give us the strength to resist those temptations. Teach us to walk ever more closely in the pathways you set before us. Lord, in your mercy, hear the silent sins we confess before you…
4-5 But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. In the name of Jesus you are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
May the peace of Christ be with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Psalm 119:
Lord, may “Your word [be] a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.” Amen.
SERMON Equipped for Mission
As I did last week, I’ll read a section of scripture and comment on it before going on to the next section. You have the scriptures printed in your bulletin to follow along. This week’s chapter fours are from Luke and Ephesians.
SCRIPTURE LESSONS Luke 4, CEB
4 Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. 2 There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. 3 The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”
5 Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. 7 Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
9 The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you 11 and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.
12 Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” 13 After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.
Sermon: Luke 4 begins where Matthew 4 did, as the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the Tempter. The scene is written with similar details. The one thing that caught my attention came at the end of Luke’s version. Did you catch the spoiler that there will likely be a sequel? The Devil waited for another opportunity to trip Jesus with temptation. Some believe that came during Jesus’ final days on earth as he prayed in Gethsemane.But in the meantime, this three-part test was like passing three stages in an interview process. Jesus did not fall for the traps. He answered the questions well. He was ready to move fully into his ministry on earth.
Jesus announces good news to the poor14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
19 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20 He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. 21 He began to explain to them, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.”
22 Everyone was raving about Jesus, so impressed were they by the gracious words flowing from his lips. They said, “This is Joseph’s son, isn’t it?”
23 Then Jesus said to them, “Undoubtedly, you will quote this saying to me: ‘Doctor, heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we’ve heard you did in Capernaum.’” 24 He said, “I assure you that no prophet is welcome in the prophet’s hometown. 25 And I can assure you that there were many widows in Israel during Elijah’s time, when it didn’t rain for three and a half years and there was a great food shortage in the land. 26 Yet Elijah was sent to none of them but only to a widow in the city of Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 There were also many persons with skin diseases in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha, but none of them were cleansed. Instead, Naaman the Syrian was cleansed.”
28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger. 29 They rose up and ran him out of town. They led him to the crest of the hill on which their town had been built so that they could throw him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the crowd and went on his way.
Sermon: In Matthew’s Gospel we noted that Jesus’ ministry was teaching, preaching, and healing. Matthew did not include this scene of Jesus reading the scroll from Isaiah at his hometown synagogue. From the scroll handed to him, Jesus chose to read the first few lines of Isaiah 61. I think Jesus saw in these verses his own call and definition of ministry.
Jesus knew he was fulfilling God’s mission. Jesus understood himself to be God’s anointed, the Messiah, the Christ. Jesus would bring good news to God’s people. God had once delivered them from Egypt and later from Babylon. Jesus came to release them not from Rome, but from their own sin. He came to bring sight to the blind, not only in terms of physical healing, but also new insight. Jesus came to liberate the oppressed, to bring real justice, but also to set us free from the burden of our own flawed thinking and self-deprecation. Jesus came to proclaim a year of Jubilee, like the Old Testament call every 50 years to cancel debt, free indentured slaves, and restore land ownership, to reconcile families and give rest to cultivated lands. Jesus’ fulfillment of this was to cancel our sin debt and buy us back just as a kinsman redeemer could buy back the family land in the time of Ruth and Naomi. Jesus reconciled us back into God’s family. Isaiah 61:1-2a became Jesus’ mission statement as he claimed to be its fulfillment.
While it is said that everyone was impressed with Jesus’ gracious words (v. 22), they could not accept that this hometown boy claimed to be the answer to Isaiah’s prophecy, in short that he was the Messiah. Jesus anticipated their skepticism. He referred to two stories from the Old Testament, Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, Elisha and Naaman. In both cases, Jesus pointed out that the blessing and healing were given where it might not have been expected. This is because in spite of their hesitancy, both the widow and Naaman chose to do as they were asked; in spite of doubt they acted on faith. Jesus knows well enough that sometimes our human brains cannot see the potential of what is being presented to us. But Jesus asks us to have faith, not in human leaders or institutions, but in himself, in the One God sent to us.
Indignant at the hinted insult, that those in Nazareth did not have enough faith, they rose up against Jesus, attempting to do away with him over a cliff. To us that may seem a violent reaction to a sermon, but there was more going on here. Jesus’ was essentially claiming to be the Messiah, perhaps even that he was God. To those present that day, it was taken as blasphemy, the punishment for which was death according to Leviticus 24:16. Yet in spite of their angry intentions, Jesus walked away unharmed.
Jesus in Capernaum31 Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. 32 They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority.
33 A man in the synagogue had the spirit of an unclean demon. He screamed, 34 “Hey! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”
35 “Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The demon threw the man down before them, then came out of him without harming him.
36 They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?” 37 Reports about him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
38 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went home with Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever, and the family asked Jesus to help her. 39 He bent over her and spoke harshly to the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and served them.
40 When the sun was setting, everyone brought to Jesus relatives and acquaintances with all kinds of diseases. Placing his hands on each of them, he healed them. 41 Demons also came out of many people. They screamed, “You are God’s Son.” But he spoke harshly to them and wouldn’t allow them to speak because they recognized that he was the Christ. 42 When daybreak arrived, Jesus went to a deserted place. The crowds were looking for him. When they found him, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom in other cities too, for this is why I was sent.” 44 So he continued preaching in the Judean synagogues.
Sermon: The first healing presented by Luke, the physician, was calling a demon out of a man. Luke’s placement of this story sets up a contrast between the hometown folk who couldn’t accept that Joseph and Mary’s son was the Messiah, and an “unclean demon” who immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of God. It accepted Jesus’ authority and left the man unharmed.
The second healing was Peter’s mother-in-law. Simon Peter’s family at Capernaum was hosting Jesus when she became ill. Jesus called the fever out of her body as he had called the demon out of the man. She recovered quickly enough to serve the meal.
Healings continued to be part of Jesus’ ministry in that region, and as the stories were told others brought their suffering family members to him. If I think about our ministry, the good news still spreads as we tell others what God has done in our lives, the healing or blessing we have personally received. In this way we bring our family or friends to Jesus, by telling our story, then at some point inviting them to learn more or to seek healing and blessing themselves.
The time came when Jesus needed to move on and continue preaching and teaching in other communities. Jesus was at the beginning of his ministry. It started well in Capernaum, but there were other peoples who needed the scriptures interpreted, who needed to hear the message of God’s kingdom and favor, who needed healing and release from various burdens. Jesus had to minister to them, too.
Given what else we are celebrating today, I have to note my time to move on. My ministry came as a surprise 33 years ago when Jessika was a baby. Her dad’s first full time appointment came with a half time pastoral appointment for me at Wyanet United Methodist. Tali was born while I served there. Eventually God led me to a second seminary degree and the ordination process. After four and a half years at Wyanet, I was moved to Ohio and Red Oak Churches. I remember giving the D.S. a hard time about moving me when the church and I had both requested that I stay another year. However, God had his reasons. I served those churches for six years, then Christ UMC, Elmhurst for three years. I came to Albany UMC in 2001 as a single mom with two daughters. In 2005, it was time to move again, but this time to a leave of absence.
I walked through the doors of this church at the end of July 2005. I was greeted by Charlene who took very good care of me that day. I met Pastor Connie, and Cheri and Gene. I applied for the teaching staff of your Wednesday Early Out program and was the craft leader my first year. In October I filled in the office for Diane. That month you became First UNITED Presbyterian Church as First and Riverside joined together. In November I was offered the position of secretary. Back in those years I joked that my job description changed about every six months, but that was pretty accurate. When this became my appointment to Ecumenical Shared Ministry as a United Methodist clergywoman, I took the title Administrative and Spiritual Life Director as kind of a mini job description to help my bishop understand the range of what I did here. My job continued to shift as your needs changed. I know why God brought me here 15 years ago. I had some skills you would need, but I would also find growth and healing for myself while here. In 2009 I helped New Hope Lutheran when they met upstairs in the Great Hall. It was Advent 2014 when I became your regular pulpit supply in addition to my paid position. I’m still surprised that I have been here nearly half my ministry and in your pulpit for so long as well.
However, it’s time for me to move on, not to a new church, but into the next chapter of my life, my retirement years. There will still be ministry, mostly online. I’ll still do worship at Sarah Harding. I still have weddings to complete. I’ll do pulpit supply again. I don’t feel like I’m leaving entirely, because I may still preach for you in months to come. But I am leaving the office and most of the Bible Studies that have defined my life for so long. I look forward to taking up hobbies that have been shelved for several years. I anticipate the healing of enjoying my home and yard.
Today I want to share with you some of what has been meaningful for me in my years of ministry by looking at Ephesians 4.
Ephesians 4, CEB
4 Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
Sermon: Paul had a sincere love for the people of the churches he worked with, just as I have. While Paul relied on friends to help write and distribute his letters to his beloved congregations, I have the modern ease of Facebook to see what’s going on in the lives of people I have known from churches and retreats and youth groups over the years. I can still reach out to them offering my sermons or Bible studies, etc. by posting links there.
What Paul wanted for his Christian family I also want for you, that you would continue in the fruits of the spirit including “humility, gentleness, and patience,” accepting each other and those God will send your way in the love encouraged by Christ. (v. 2) That includes praying for each other, caring for each other, forgiving each other, working together willing to compromise when needed. Make it your mutual aim to do God’s will to the best of your ability as a congregation.
Verses 3 – 6 are especially important to me with the theme of unity. My time here began as you united. In the Early Out program I appreciated teaching staff that represented several churches in the area. I love bragging about how many denominations participate in my Bible Studies. I think Deb and Bonnie’s favorite line has become a defining statement for my ministry here. They enjoy telling everyone they are Lutherans who come to a Presbyterian church to hear a United Methodist preach.
I have known the word ecumenical since childhood. It has become a significant principle of my ministry to work ecumenically. I encourage you to maintain that unity in Christ as you cooperate with other local ministries, because regardless of our varying rules or practices, what makes us Christian are the things Paul emphasized here: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. (v. 4-6)
Gifts7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. 8 That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.
9 What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.
11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.
Sermon: Talking about and helping people recognize their spiritual gifts has also been an important theme in my ministry not only here but in every congregation I served. I firmly believe that everyone who chooses to serve God is given gifts by the Holy Spirit to be used in ministry. All are called and all are equipped! I was the right person here for a particular time in your ministry because of the gifts with which God had equipped me. Others came with skills and experience and gifts that we needed here, and the rest of you have continued to grow into your gifts. If I give you examples, I’ll leave someone out, but let’s look at it this way. Among those who regularly participate in the life of this congregation there are those whose gifts, skills, and experience include hospitality, teaching, leadership, organizing details, planning ahead, human relations, generosity, welcoming strangers, compassion for the suffering, prayer, faith, encouragement, art, music, cooking, various repairs and maintenance: electronics, mechanics, engineering, gardening, plumbing. All of these gifts and others, God has used to keep you going and support the ministries to which God has called you. That is the point I want you to recognize. All of your talents, spiritual gifts, and life experiences serve God’s purpose. That’s ministry!
Just as Jesus claimed Isaiah 61:1-2 for his mission statement, early in my ministry here, Ephesians 4:12 became my mission statement: “to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ.” Honestly, the gist of that goes back to something I contemplated on my swing set in my grandparent’s backyard and refined further as I considered ministry. I was clear that helping others discover and grow in ministry was my calling. I think that is why there has been a teaching emphasis even since my teen years.
One of my greatest pleasures here has been seeing many of you grow using your gifts to serve our God. I am excited to watch from the sidelines and observe your continued growth and ministry, your potential partnerships with others in the community as you reach out in mission, your deepening faith in your personal lives and how that will ripple out to touch others. Remember above all else that your ministry is not just about you. You are one part of a much larger whole Body of Christ. Your direction should always be set by Christ, who is the head of the Church, in cooperation and partnership with others as Christ invites you to work together. The Holy Spirit will continue to guide you, gift and equip you for ministry, if you are open to her leading. So pray frequently for the Holy Spirit to work in each of your lives and to inspire your ministry together.
The old and new life17 So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, 18 and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. 19 They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.
20 But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. 21 Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, 22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. 23 Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24 and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
25 Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor because we are parts of each other in the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil. 28 Thieves should no longer steal. Instead, they should go to work, using their hands to do good so that they will have something to share with whoever is in need.
29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
Sermon: In that first paragraph, Paul is clear how not to live as a Christian. It is easy to get swept up in the ways of the world, including how some of the world thinks. I find myself exposed to it on Facebook, but you also see it on the news or hear it in conversations. We may go overboard on material things or get caught up in political debates; we are tempted to judge others or gossip; we might choose convenience over compassion or caring for creation. The attitudes and accepted practices of the world affect our own expectations and priorities. However, we can daily ask ourselves what Jesus would say about the things that hold our minds captive. Are they worthy of Christ? If not, ask God to help you focus on the better path.
Verse 23 echoes another favorite of mine, Romans 12:2. Both urge us to renew our minds by letting the Holy Spirit work within us. Becoming a new person by changing our thought habits doesn’t happen by flipping a switch or turning a page. It takes repeated practice to form healthy new habits, but it is also the work of the Holy Spirit to guide that process. As you face the need to change, begin with prayer!
The next paragraph continues to talk about the need for changed lives. I wonder if Paul had particular people in mind as he named some common sins. Kindly, he did not call out those names. We may think it easy to avoid lying or stealing, though there are shades of each that might tempt us. I suspect the one we wrestle with the most is anger. I have most often heard verse 26 as advice to newlyweds, but it is good advice to us all. You may need a cool down period before you talk to someone who has triggered an angry response in you, but don’t let it take forever. Pray about it; ask for God’s help to deal with your anger. Then, make an effort to be reconciled with that person as soon as possible, even if that means agreeing to disagree. Angry tension between peoples is not healthy for either party or anyone else around you.
I think this leads into the final paragraph of chapter 4, which lists several behavioral concerns. I would sum them up as Paul encouraging Christians to set a good example. Put away behaviors that would turn others away from Christ. Instead exhibit behaviors that demonstrate the mercy and grace Christ extends to you.
I like the reminder that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We ritually enact that in baptism, confirmation, and ordination. But whether or not such ceremony has occurred, the Holy Spirit has claimed you for Christ as soon as you believed. If you affirm that God in love sent Jesus to save God’s people from their sin and this includes you, then the Holy Spirit is already at work in you in all the ways this chapter names.
Finally, Paul encourages us to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. Both Presbyterian and United Methodist rituals for saying goodbye to a pastor include forgiving each other for any mistakes made. My appointment here was administrative and teaching rather than being your pastor. But I’ve made more mistakes than I can name over the past 15 years, and there are still some I regret. Today we will offer each other forgiveness for any mistakes or misunderstandings between us. This is important to do not only as we formally end my employment and appointment here. It is something Christians should do with one another on a regular basis and demonstrate to the world.
Summary: For some of you, it feels odd that we have arrived at my retirement. I’ve been in your office corridor for so long! One or two of you may have separation anxiety, but God will get you through this. I did start warning you a few years ago, and I’ve tried to prepare you as best I could. Today I really wanted to tell you one more time that you are more than capable of doing ministry without me. What you need is God far more than you need me. I was just one of the ways God helped you for a while. It has been a privilege to do so. But God will send others your way as you need them.
Today and last week, I shared a bit from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and letters from the later years of Paul’s ministry. I can resonate with what Jesus wanted to do, how he taught his disciples, what he and they must have felt when his time on earth was complete. But let’s remember that they did carry on equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. So will you. I can appreciate the love and care Paul had for his churches, what he wanted for them and from them. I also want the best for you, and for you to do your best to serve our God.
You have been a blessing to me, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to bless you. We remain united as family in Christ, even if we don’t see each other for a while.
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 at 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.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Those who have been ill or in the hospital.
For Gary Iverson, Ellen Miller, Judy Welcher, Bonnie Pillers with ongoing needs.
For those who choose to stay home during this pandemic
Many who will become homeless as COVID-19 protections expire
Those affected by unemployment and other benefits running out soon
Those around the world coping with not only the health concerns
But also the financial realities to be faced as COVID-19 is not ending anytime soon
Those finding creative ways to express the justice needs of our world
Cities with ongoing protests and concerns raised by federal interventions
Continued tensions related to China and elsewhere in the world
The future of this congregation
The Session as it meets next week
The women coming to preach the next several Sundays
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING
For this congregation and the years we have shared together
For the beauty of creation, time outdoors, gardens and greenery
For the basics of life: water, air, oxygen, food, clothing, shelter, family and friends
For visual and performance arts from photography, drawings, and paintings
To dance, music, and dramas, for literature and humor,
For athletics to observe and to participate, including Olympians training an extra year
For the grace and mercy of Christ, for God’s abiding presence through the Holy Spirit
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
RECOGNITION OF RETIREMENT AND APPRECIATION OF MINISTRY
Whatever they have to say or present - Mike
Dissolution of appointment adapted from UMC Book of Worship:
I thank you, the members and friends of First United Presbyterian Church,
for the love and support you have shown me while I have ministered among you.
I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted.
I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made.
As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.
If you are willing to accept my “thankfulness, offer forgiveness,
and accept” my retirement, please say, “We do.”
If you wish to express gratitude for our time together.
You may say, “We do.”
I also accept your gratitude and forgiveness, and I forgive you,
trusting that our time together and our parting are pleasing to God.
I release you from turning to me and depending on me.
I encourage your continuing ministry here
and will pray for you and for Karla, for your leadership and your future.
Let us pray.
Eternal God, whose steadfast love for us is from everlasting to everlasting,
we give you thanks for cherished memories and commend one another into your care as we move in new directions. Keep us one in your love forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Through my years of ministry I have used some form of this benediction most Sundays:
CHARGE & BLESSING 2 Corinthians 13:14, NIV
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Go forth in peace and serve the Lord.
Please remain seated today for the entire postlude, then I will dismiss one side at a time. You are welcome to come up to the front on your way out if you wish to exchange a farewell for now.