January 9, 2022
1st Day of Christmas
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by Session, as well as social distancing
bulletins are placed in the pews to help with 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 will be continuing with beverages only, in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Bonnie and Jon Pillers, Mike Niles, Harlan Marx ,Tom Kelly, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Lucy Melvin. Bob Emmert, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Rich Lewis and Kay Werner
*Call to worship
We are gathered to worship our God. Thus says the Lord:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
This day we remember our baptism, and we offer our thanks and praise to you.
Thus says our God: For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
May our worship be acceptable in your sight, our Lord and Savior.
*Call to Confession
Knowing our need to be in unbroken fellowship with our Lord, let us confess our sins to God.
*Prayer of Confession
God of love, as your Son was baptized, so also have we been baptized in water and the Word. But we are imperfect. We turn away from you and worry instead of trust, treat others unkindly instead of with grace, withhold generosity instead of sharing our blessings, and more. As we are in a New Year, may we continue to seek you and walk in your ways, following your leading, filled with your Spirit. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The creator who gave us life also gave us new life in Christ. Through him, we are forgiven completely.
Thanks be to God.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,
John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."…
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Prayer of Illumination
Holy God, as we reread these familiar texts, we ask you in Spirit to illumine us with your truth, and inspire us to continue to seek and to trust you. Touch us with your lovingkindness this day. Amen.
Sermon Title “We’re on the Way”
A traveler came upon a laborer who was fiercely pounding away at a stone with hammer and chisel. The traveler asked the worker, “What are you doing?” The laborer answered, “I’m trying to shape this stone for a pathway.” He came upon another man who was also chipping away at a stone. “What are you doing?” The worker answered, “I’m shaping this stone for a building.” He came upon a third stone worker. “What are you doing?” The worker smiled and replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” If someone would happen to see God chipping away at the rough edges of my life or yours and ask, “What are you doing?,” God just might answer, I’m building a cathedral. Why? Because my Spirit dwells within this person. During Advent last month many of the Old Testament prophets predicted the Lord’s coming, more in the descriptions of his second coming. For example Malachi’s prophesy for speaks of the sudden coming of the Lord to his temple. He comes as a refiner’s fire to purify the descendants of Levi. Others describe the outcome of the arrival of the promised One. Israel will be restored to glory; the knowledge of God will cover the world across the seas. But Jesus’ first coming was rather subtle. Yes, angels, shepherds and wise men were made aware, but mostly, he came as a baby born to a family on the road, so to speak, and cared for as best they could in a crowded city. John the Baptist speaks of the arrival of the Messiah with a strong call to repentance and with the fire of the prophets before him. But Jesus looks to John to baptize him along with those repenting. (By the way, the word “baptize” was used in the dying of cloth, that the cloth becomes “identified” with the dye. Likewise, Christ is “identifying” with the people seeking to follow God. We are baptized as a sign that we identify with Christ.) So again, while the prophesies given to us by the Lord himself and by his disciples describe a more momentous, obvious appearance, when he comes in the clouds, when all prophesies will be fulfilled, we live between those to comings of Christ. Theologians refer to the “now” and the “not yet” of our faith. Yes, two thousand years ago the Lord came to be with us as one of us. Then the Lord came to each of us when we believed. And some day, the Lord will come for us, either at our death, or at his grand return to earth. As we live between Christ’s coming to us and his coming for us, we live knowing we are forgiven. In faith we seek to fulfill God’s call to serve him in holiness and righteousness. We are guided by the Scriptures. One text we look at today is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. What does it really mean for us to live in this “now” and “not yet” reality of faith—that the Lord has come, and will come again. The Philippian church begins as Paul has a vision to go to Macedonia in Greece. He meets Lydia, the first European convert to Christianity, and thus in Philippi of Macedonia, a congregation is formed. His letter to the Philippians is his most personal and affectionate of his New Testament letters to the churches. He thanks God for them, prays for them day and night, and is able to continue his evangelistic travels to others because of the funds they send to him. They even send funds to help the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem. So Paul writes to thank them. But, in the verses we just read, Paul shares this marvelous theology of our being transformed by the Lord. Verse 6: “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Even though Paul’s work with them in person is done, they will continue to grow and flourish in their faith until God’s transformation is complete. Paul, though sad to leave them because he holds them in his heart, and they hold him, he asks God on their behalf:
• He prays they would be perfected (that is, made complete) in their relationships. “I pray that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and discernment….”
• He prays that they would be perfected in their morality, “…so that you may approve the things that are excellent…”
• He prays that they would be perfected in righteousness: “…in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness…” (I think to be righteous includes being people of truth and goodness in a world, then and now, that is filled with lies and behaviors that are not so good.)
This is an excellent prayer that all of us can pray for ourselves and others: that we would be growing in love, in approving excellent things, in making right choices, and in becoming, in the eyes of the Lord, sincere and without blame until he returns for us.
Remember the fad a few years ago when so many were wearing bracelets with these initials, GIFWMY? God isn’t finished with me yet. Very true. Between the Christmas first coming of Christ, and the second coming of Christ at the end of time, we live in what many call the “now and the not yet.” Christ has come to us, and Christ will come again for us (either at our homegoing, or when he returns to earth in glory). And so in this in-between time, God is at work in us. Paul repeats the idea in his Philippian letter:
v. 6: God began his good work in us, and will complete it at Christ’s return
v. 9: we are filled with the fruits of righteousness right now, because God dwells within our hearts.
2:13 It is God who is at work in us for God’s good pleasure
4:13 We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
At the first Advent of Christ two thousand plus years ago, as the prophets foretold, God comes to us in Christ to be a refiner, God’s Spirit a purifier of our needful souls, that we may serve the Lord in love, spreading the good news of God’s love and grace and ministering to the needs of others.
That is our calling right now as we look back to Christ’s coming, and look forward to Christ’s return. We aren’t perfect yet, but in this process we are being perfected. Our continued transformation brings glory to God.
When by faith we worship and seek to love and serve others, the Lord is actually chipping away at our rough spots like a stone mason, to make us fit to be his cathedral. Individually God dwells within each heart. But also, we are stones together being built up into the house of God. We are individually temples and collectively we are stones built together to be the church, the cathedral of God.
None of us is perfect… no church is perfect, but God isn’t finished with us yet! Through him we are forgiven and made holy and called into service to him that others may know his love and grace. No, we aren’t perfect… but because he came, we have hope. We are being perfected by the hand of the creator, the potter, the stonemason, the carpenter who will some day, come to take us to his home where he has prepared a place for each one of us. So let us live in this truth: God isn’t finished with us yet, but we are on the way!
*Hymn “When Jesus Came to Jordan” #72
Prayer of Dedication
Gracious God, we offer to you a portion of your blessing to us, as an act of worship. We do so with faith that your good news will fill our hearts and go forth from this place. Amen.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
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.
Prayers of the people
The Lord be with you
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
It is right to give our thanks and praise…
The Lord’s Prayer
*Hymn “More Love to Thee, O Christ” #359