Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· Masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· 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
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Kay Werner, Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
L: In a world where division is a way of life, we are asked to
choose whom we will follow.
P: We choose the Lord!
L: There will be challenges in that choice.
P: We choose the Lord!
L: Come people of God. Let us worship and praise our Author of Life.
P: We choose the Lord-- We offer our lives to you, Gracious God.
All: Praise and glory to God. Amen.
O Lord. All around us is the great cloud of witnesses, your saints who have gone before us. They urge us to lay aside the sin that clings and to run the race before us with perseverance and humility. Give us, this day, the tools and assurance we need to run well and strong in your glorious name. Amen .
*HYMN Morning Has Broken #469 (You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
God has planted a vineyard. He’s tended it, given rain and blessing upon it. He’s built walls to protect it. But, too often, we, the vines so tenderly nurtured, refuse to produce the sweet grapes our Lord seeks. Let us recognize our own failings and turn to our God for forgiveness.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
How often, O Lord, we pat ourselves on the back for the success and blessing that you have poured into our lives. We put on blinders of self-interest, focusing on our own comfort and desire. We fail to offer our care to others. We nurse resentments while feeling superior to our neighbors. Lord, we know that these are not the things you expect from the vineyard you have planted and nurtured. Have we produced wild grapes that are bitter to your tongue? Forgive us, Lord and help us to do better. Amen
WORDS OF ASSURANCE Isaiah 1:18, NIV
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish by may have eternal life. God did not send his son to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Hear the good news. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven and once again invited to grow the sweet grapes of righteousness and faith. This is our Savior’s love for all the world.
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
(Please greet those around you as we all say these words in unison.)
May the peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Quiet our hearts, Loving Lord. Put away the distracting thoughts from our minds. Allow us to hear the gift of life and hope that you offer to us. May the words we hear strengthen our soul and allow us to serve you with all our being. Amen
Isaiah 5: 1-7
1.Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. 3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
SERMON Choosing Yes. Living Yes
All families have stories. A popular story in my family is of my dad taking my three children to the small-town general store when he and Grandma were caring for them while my husband and I were out of town. He told them they could have any candy they chose. The oldest two quickly picked out the treat they wanted, but my youngest daughter who was about 3 or 4 at the time couldn’t choose. There were too many options: M&Ms, Snicker bars, Milky Way, Milk Duds, Three Musketeers or even a Pay Day. With every possible selection she would say No to all these others. Finally, she got so frustrated that she sat down and cried. And Grandpa was baffled about how to help.
Have you ever had so many options before you that selecting was difficult? That it paralyzed you and sent you into a panic? I believe some of that is at the base of our scriptures this day.
Faith is actually all about making a choice. It means saying “yes” to God and also saying “no” to many things that are a normal and attractive part of our society. I’m not talking about drugs or gambling or infidelity or alcohol. I’m talking about things that are much more subtle. To say “yes” to God means saying “no” to self-absorbed consumerism that doesn’t consider how our accumulation of resources contribute to the abuse of others, or at least it doesn’t contribute to their well-being. It means no to thinking we have complete autonomy regarding our time or our bank account. It means no to playing fast and loose with the truth, even if what we’re saying is not Technically a lie!
Yes to following Jesus, and no to putting our own comfort or our own bank account as our highest goal. Yes to accepting God’s forgiveness, and no to holding on to our resentment towards our neighbor. Yes to feeling the comfort and healing of God, and no to supporting practices that harm others—even those whom we will never know or meet-- locked at the edge of society.
Yes to Jesus means we reorient our lives. We let go of me-first thinking and our blind acceptance of racism and prejudice. We pay attention to the way our practices impact our earth and fellow creatures. We let go of radical independence because God is now the boss. We no longer think of our time or our money as strictly our own.
There are lots of positive, joyful reasons to say Yes to God. It’s an incredible blessing that is poured into our lives, but at least at the beginning, some of the Nos seem difficult and problematic. How attractive these things might seem.
And that’s the problem we call sin. God invites us to accept his gift of life and faith and healing and presence. There’s meaning and joy in the yes that we offer to God. But that doesn’t mean that all those other things quit calling our name, quit winking at us and motioning us forward. “Just this once,” it whispers. “No one needs to know. You deserve this. You have to go along with things. It’s your job or you might offend others, or you don’t want to be the stick in the mud, do you?” The whispers can be subtle. It is so seductive. It seems so reasonable, but ultimately it’s asking us to say “yes” to the very things that God to which has asked us to say “no.” It’s not because God doesn’t want us to have fun or enjoy the moment, but rather because these things destroy life and health in some capacity.
That was the problem in ancient Israel. These ex-slaves whom God had called out of Egypt and given a land and so many wonderful opportunities had wanted to have things both ways. They wanted their faith and God’s blessings, but they also wanted more and more and more. More wealth, more land, more livestock, more servants, more comfort, more power. And to acquire more, they needed to look out for their own advantages. They couldn’t squander their money on orphans and widows, on foreigners and sick people. They couldn’t let go of the reins that drove their lives to allow God to guide them. To acquire more meant that they needed to jump at every opportunity, big or small. They needed to keep the goal of MORE foremost in their focus.
They were saying “yes” to all these things, not even realizing that in so doing they were saying “no” to the most basic principles that God had asked of them. They were turning away from centering their lives on God.
When Isaiah came forward telling the story of the vineyard, there were people nodding happily. They understood completely the situation of putting in the hard work and not seeing it pay off. It was a business venture that had gone sour. They understood about pouring their hopes and their sweat into a project to see it fail.
And then we hear God’s voice inviting the people to judge what he should do. He did everything possible and expected sweet grapes, but instead got wild and bitter fruits. What should he do? Then God answers for himself. He will tear down the protective hedge. He will eliminate the walls that protected it. The vineyard will be trampled. No longer will he pull the weeds or prune the vines. It will grow up in thorns and brambles. He won’t even waste his rain upon it. It will become desolate.
And then, if they hadn’t figured out the metaphor yet, God makes himself explicit. The vineyard is them! It’s Israel and Judah, the two nations of God’s people. They had turned away from God’s desired justice. They had said “yes” to sin which means they hadn’t really said “yes” to God. Punishment is coming. Armies will begin swooping in. Israel will soon be wiped off the map by Assyria. While Judah will survive a bit longer, Babylon will have their way with the southern nation in years to come. Isaiah will cry out against their sinful ways, but the people won’t really be able to hear him-not yet, not until disaster strikes.
“Yes” to God means “No” to selfish ambition, even if that self-centered way of being has become a standardized way of life for a whole society.
In our New Testament reading, Jesus is on the way to the cross so that the people of God can witness the power of God for life and for forgiveness and for joyful community. In the section for today, Jesus is attempting to teach about God’s call to us. About what it means to say “yes” to God. But he also recognizes and warns that saying “Yes” does not always come easy or without a price. It’s not a new thought.
Even when Jesus was still a tiny baby being brought to the temple for the first time, Simeon said, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed.” In other words, his message is of God. His message is life, but not everyone will be able to receive this message in its fullness. When that happens in families there will be division. One side won’t understand why the other is now turning away from things that seem so central to our way of life—so rational, so accepted. “Don’t give money to the poor.” They might say. “The poor don’t deserve it, and you can’t afford it. Don’t waste your Sunday morning going to church—Don’t you want to spend it with me? Don’t go on that mission trip. Let’s go on vacation, instead. Don’t talk to those people. What will our friends think?” And the list goes on and on.
Jesus seems to want us to know that there is often a cost to this faith thing. He wants us to be prepared for the fact that others might not understand our “Yes,” even those who are closest to us. He wants us to be ready to stick by our “Yes” which means we offer our “no” to other things. He wants us to stay the course even when it’s tough.
But here’s the good news. If we can clearly understand the “yes” we have made to God and realize that it also means some “Nos,” then we are in a much stronger place to keep the faith even in the midst of conflict among those closest to us. In some cases that conflict might be short lived—once others see the way we are living in communion with God and the joy and meaning it brings, they might get on board—but not always. The fact of the matter is that they, too are free to choose and it’s their right to choose another way other than God.That’s the sad and scary part. Sometimes our “Yes” to God means we lose relationships. Sometimes.
The good news is that God walks through the fire with us and helps us find the path that will either allow us to retain these important relationships or to find new ones that feed us. I think that’s one of the most valuable parts of being in a church community—there are others around us who understand our struggles and who can support us. When we say “yes” to God we learn that those other things that we thought were important and valuable lose their appeal.
I’m not sure my daughter ever got her candy that day. There seems to be some disagreement between her memory and that of her grandpa who said he did select for her. What she did get was a loving Grandpa, a big nap and a story that continues to be told, sometimes to her embarrassment, even 40 years later. I hope that we can do a better job of choosing and then living with our choice than she was able to pull off. I believe that recognizing the meaning of “Yes” to God which also mean “No” to things that harm our world and the way of life for many is a basic faith task.
God’s vineyard is carefully tended, let’s grow sweet and abundant grapes for the Lord. Choose well me friends. Choose “Yes” and experience the joy of walking with our God. Amen.
*HYMN Precious Lord, Take My Hand 404
(You may be seated.)
OFFERING OUR LIVES
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*HYMN Be Known To Us in Breaking Bread #505
(You may be seated.)
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
L: Lord God we seek to be your vineyard, fruitful, abundant, and filled with life.
P: We want to produce the sweet grapes of your righteousness, the fruit that sings your grace to all the world.
L: So we come before you this day to eat and to drink,
P: To share in your death, to know the joy of your resurrection.
L: Jesus gathered his disciples in an upper room. He broke the bread declaring that it was his body broken for them. He poured the cup, saying that it was the blood of the covenant poured out for the forgiveness of sin.
P: He offered these to his friends gathered at the table with him.
L: ‘Eat and drink’ he said, and ‘do so in remembrance of me.’
P: We eat and we drink and we remember the great love that Jesus offered into our world.
L: We eat and we drink to be a part of that love and to be filled with a spirit that
enables us to faithfully live as God’s people.
P: Thank you, Lord. Amen.
RECEIVING THE BREAD AND CUP
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.
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, now and forever. Amen.
*CLOSING HYMN: O Jesus I Have Promised. #388
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.
Presbyterians practice open communion which means anyone who seeks to be in a relationship with Christ is welcome at the table regardless of denomination, age, or status. The communion elements are already in your pew, and you will be instructed when to eat the wafer and when to drink the juice.