May 16, 2021
SERVICE FOR THE LORD’S DAY
May 16th, 2021
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.
Please keep your masks on.
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
The office and the rest of the building remain closed, but you can contact Karla during her office hours.
Session May 16th
Pentecost May 23rd please wear red
Family of Rose, Family of Chuck Thornton, Gary Iverson, all who are seeking Jesus, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Jack Braden, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Valerie Jerez, a person seeking a job, Annette Conzett, Jim Roling and family, Sara Feilmeier, Jackie with difficult pregnancy, Lois Seger, Jo Lefleur and Dr Dyke
WORDS OF WORSHIP
LEADER: I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples.
Response: And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
L: For Your steadfast love is higher than the heavens.
R: And Your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
L: Be exalted, o God, above the heavens
R: and let Your glory be over all the earth.
GATHERING PRAYER (Unison)
We come from our various and different worlds, to gather together in this beautiful building because we are joined by our love for Jesus Christ, the Savior. The difficulties, trials, and pains of this world have made us weary, Master. We need the refreshment we have found in bringing our spirits to join with Yours. We pray that you would lift us into the light and peace of Your presence. Amen.
*Hymn “The Church’s One Foundation No. 442
CONFESSION AND PARDON (Unison)
The seeds of grace, hope, joy, and love are planted deep within us. It is our prayer that they can bear fruit in our lives. We confess to resisting staying connected to our Savior, the Vine, thinking we can flourish on our own. We admit that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Please forgive us, so that we can once again feel God abiding deeply within us. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
Because God abides in us, we can live for others, allowing God’s love to bear fruit in us. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
*ANTHEM: We will attempt to present recorded music as an anthem today
*THE PASSING OF THE PEACE
THE OFFERING AND OFFERTORY
O Father in heaven, you have told us that we will reap what we sow. This is true not only for our character, but in our conduct. We trust You today with our tithes and offerings, knowing that You are trustworthy to use them in your kingdom and continue in Your provision for us. Amen.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Search us, o God, and know our hearts: try us, and know our thoughts. Prepare our minds to understand what message you have for us today. See if there be any wicked way in us and lead us in the way everlasting. Amen.
Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering sheep of my pasture! “declares the LORD .this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil have done,” declares the LORD.“I myself will gather the remnant my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, they will be fruitful and increase in number.
will place shepherds them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.
5“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David[a]righteous Branch, a King will reign do what is just and right in the land.
6his days Judah will be saved Israel will live in safety. This is the name which he will be called: The LORD Righteous Savior.
Romans 11: 13-25
13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, take pride in my ministry14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy save of them.15For if their rejection brought reconciliation the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.17If some of the branches have been broken off, you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,18do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Not be arrogant,tremble.21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either22Consider therefore the kindness sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!25I do not want you to be ignorant this mystery, and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: has experienced a hardening part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,
15“I am true vine, my Father is the gardener .cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, every branch that does bear fruit prunes[a]that it will be even more fruitful. Are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.in me, as I also remain in you. Branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; from me you can do nothing. You do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. You remain in me my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.is to my Father’s glory, you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.9“As the Father has loved me, have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10If you keep my commands, will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
SERMON Branching Out
*Hymn I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord No. 441
It is another joyful Sunday morning to be with our friends and family of the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, Iowa. I am the Rev. Dr. Dale Dykstra, the interim minister of this congregation. I have served the
Presbyterian Church (USA) for 48 years as a pastor in Pennsylvania and Illinois before coming to Iowa.
I have now completed two months of service to this parish. We have done many things in that short amount of time. We are finally recovering from the limitations imposed upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic and actually worshipping Almighty God in our wonderful building once again!
I guess you could say that I am a new thing we have done. I had just brought a 17-month Interim Ministry at Milan, Illinois to a close when your Clerk of Session contacted me to ask if I might be available to come here. I heard the clear voice of God in that “coincidence.” So---now you have a pastor—at least for half-time—to lead us and care for us. I try very hard to speak with each one of you every week and to know your names—something I consider very important.
I have led many churches of different sizes –from 15 to one that was over 500 people. A four-church larger parish was my first field in Pennsylvania, making a total of 10 congregations led under my care. I also served as the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Huntingdon in Pennsylvania for ten years with responsibility for 58 congregations. I am able to lead renewal in a church IF I have the support and agreement of the Session. I have been very pleased with their desire to bring ever greater life to our faith family.
We have restored a Fellowship life following worship each week. It is growing in attendance as we go! I thank the volunteers who make this an important addition to our parish life. It feels good to see Calvin Hall come alive in this pleasant and supportive way.
Other blessings include your strong leaders. Your Ruling Elders and compassionate Deacons care for your ongoing and growing needs. We are blessed with amazing facilities --- and endowed with sufficient funds to maintain them while we seek to incorporate more people to fill them! There seems to be (to me) a new spirit of hope for our future that I seek to strengthen and support as we recover our strength and grow.
I want to use today’s sermon to explain that optimism about our future. Let me start by saying that I fully believe that God has important work for the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, Iowa to do!
I took you first to the prophet Jeremiah. Now, I know that his is a VERY long book of prophesy. It wouldn’t surprise me if you are not as familiar with it as you are with other parts of the Holy Bible. Let me help you, then. In Jeremiah’s day, Israel had a string of kings who led them ever further away from worshipping and serving the ONE TRUE GOD. The latest of these was named Coniah. He continued the worship of idols and their persecution of the people of God.
God had sent other prophets to warn Israel to repent of their sins and return to Him. Isaiah was primary among those with these warnings. None of them were listened to or heeded. Finally, God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him that the Almighty has HAD IT with this disobedience. God decided to punish Israel by having their enemy Babylon destroy Jerusalem –and the rest of the Hebrew nation by tearing it literally stone from stone. He would destroy their faithless nation.
God had protected Israel from enemies for centuries – Egypt, Edam, Aram, Assyria, Babylon, Syria and others; but that protection was being withdrawn as a result of their sinfulness. Because of this message, Jeremiah is seen as a prophet of doom and gloom in his descriptions of the impending disasters. He foresaw that the survivors would be taken as slaves and hostages back to Babylon and none of God’s people would remain in Israel.
But I took you to the passage where God declares that He will scatter the “shepherds” (or kings) of the flock of Israel AS THEY DESERVE. Yet, hear that Almighty God says, “Then I will gather the remnant of my flock ----and bring them back to their fold! They shall be fruitful and multiply.”
Do you see? It is God’s will to restore his chosen people even after they and their nation are totally destroyed! God has RESTORATION of His people at heart. I see this being true for us, as well, folks. God will restore this church after all of our difficult days because THAT IS WHO GOD IS---AND WHAT GOD DOES!!
Now, I have no idea who the people who will restore our church will be. They may be just like us—or they may be very different, but they will be called by God to be here! I took you to my favorite book, Romans, and the apostle Paul. The greatest divide in Bible times for Hebrews was the one between
Jews and Gentiles. Frankly, Jews HATED Gentiles. I have a story to show you that this hatred continues to this very day. On my tour of Israel with the group of pastor’s families 10 years ago, we were coming to the end of our days there. We were in Jerusalem at lunch time and our guide Isaac (who was a formerly Jewish Christian) told us we could scatter about and find our lunches. We were to reassemble at the fountain at 1 pm.
I wanted a personal souvenir of my trip—a Bible from the Holy Land, and so I walked about a block to a shop that had a sign offering Bibles for sale. Great! I entered the shop and the gentleman behind the counter was very helpful and I found just the book I wanted. I returned to the fountain feeling wonderful. UNTIL!
Isaac was there with some of the others, and he frowned when he saw the book in my hand. He asked where I got it, and I pointed back to where the store was. I was shocked and dismayed, because this converted Christian guide SPAT ON THE GROUND and cursed “Palestinian!!” That is how deeply the hatred between Jew and Gentile exists even today.
Yet God CALLED Paul to preach Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and Savior of the ENTIRE world TO THESE HATED GENTILES! And it is a good thing He did!
In AD 71, Rome came into Israel after it had an insurrection resisting Roman rule and totally destroyed it and slew many of its leaders. They deported these people once again and ISRAEL WAS NO MORE UNTIL 1948!! If Paul and others had not welcomed and invited Gentiles into the church, IT WOULD HAVE DIED. But again, God wanted the church to not only survive, but to thrive. Again, to any and all who will hear God’s love for them in this place. WE WELCOME YOU TO OUT FAITH FAMILY.
Lastly, I took you to the wonderful image of Jesus being the VINE and believers being the branches. I have another image side-by-side with this one. A charcoal fire with briquets all heated and turning white from the fire. But take one briquet away from the rest of them for a while and watch it fade –and die. We have our spiritual life because we are in constant touch with Jesus Christ, our Lord. We gain our strength and hope from His grace and love.
It is our task to extend our hands of faith to others that they may be joined to the VINE-Jesus-through their contact with the BRANCHES (us) We are to “branch out” and cause our church to grow and be restored in the days to come. May you reach out to anyone you know who needs the love of God we can provide here at First United Presbyterian. Amen.
*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 Blest Be the Tie That Binds No. 438
CHARGE & BLESSING
And now, may the grace, mercy, and peace which proceeds from God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and into the Holy Spirit within us, rest and abide within us, now and forever more.
*Stand as you are able.