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
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, and Deb Weller.
TRIBUTE AND RECOGNITION OF OUR VETERANS
*CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 98:1-3, CEB
Sing to the Lord a new song because he has done wonderful things!
His own strong hand and his own holy arm have won the victory!
The Lord has made his salvation widely known;
he has revealed his righteousness in the eyes of all the nations.
God has remembered his loyal love and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation.
Almighty God, you who commands the heavenly host, we give you our thanks and praise for the many times and ways that you have saved us from danger or seen us through times of grave difficulty. As we worship today, may we recognize not only those who have served you in the name of freedom, but also that our freedom is ultimately found in you. Amen.
*HYMN Eternal Father, Strong to Save #562
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION 2 Chronicles 4:17, ESV
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Let us confess the sins of our people to the God who forgives and heals.
God of mercy and grace, as your people we have not always cared for one another. Nations have gone to war against nations. Peoples have oppressed other peoples. We have not always upheld the dignity, rights, and worth of all your children. We have allowed race, nationality, status, gender, economics, politics, religion, and other differences to become excuses to cause harm to others. Too often sins have been committed even using your name. We humbly bow our hearts before you and seek forgiveness, asking you to heal our land.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE Ephesians 1:7, CEB
“We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace.”
Through Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
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 Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON Isaiah 65:17-25, GW
17 I will create a new heaven and a new earth.
Past things will not be remembered. They will not come to mind.
18 Be glad, and rejoice forever in what I’m going to create,
because I’m going to create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people to be a joy.
19 I will rejoice about Jerusalem and be glad about my people.
Screaming and crying will no longer be heard in the city.
20 There will no longer be an infant who lives for only a few days
or an old man who doesn’t live a long life.
Whoever lives to be a hundred years old will be thought of as young.
Whoever dies before he is a hundred years old will be cursed as a sinner.
21 They will build houses and live there. They will plant vineyards and eat fruit from them.
22 They will not build homes and have others live there.
They will not plant and have others eat from it.
My people will live as long as trees,
and my chosen ones will enjoy what they’ve done.
23 They will never again work for nothing.
They will never again give birth to children who die young,
because they will be offspring blessed by the Lord.
The Lord will bless their descendants as well.
24 Before they call, I will answer. While they’re still speaking, I will hear.
25 Wolves and lambs will feed together, lions will eat straw like oxen,
and dust will be food for snakes.
“They will not hurt or destroy anyone anywhere on my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
GOSPEL LESSON Luke 21:5-19, NLT
5 Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, 6 “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”
8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.
We began today by honoring our veterans, their families, and all who support them. In each case they made sacrifices for what they held dear, sometimes even sacrificing their lives. Sometimes they came home with broken minds or broken bodies or broken hearts because of what they experienced. Whether they served in times of war or times of peace they gave of themselves for our sake to preserve our freedom.
I always saw my connection to veterans as limited to gravesides with ceremonies by VFW or American legion and visits to parishioners at the VA hospital. My respect has grown significantly watching Fran offer her tribute each November for the past several years and being aware of honor flights and wounded warrior projects. Then suddenly this year I remembered that I too have veterans in my family. Both of my uncles served in Germany and my step dad served in Korea, but all in times of peace.
Part of my preparation this week has been finding quotes for Veterans Day. I read a couple of them earlier. Let me share a few more that spoke to me. They come from Reader’s Digest website:
G.K. Chesterton — “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Joseph Campbell — “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
From our current President Joe Biden — “They have served selflessly, sacrificed greatly, and shouldered the burden of freedom quietly, asking no glory for themselves.”
You’ll see that freedom is an ongoing theme for Veterans Day and is my theme for today’s message.
John Doolittle — “America’s veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world.”
I was reminded by my ex-husband’s post that soldiers from other countries have also fought alongside Americans as allies. David posted a picture of his father in full military uniform with all his medals; he fought in WWII. So did one of David’s uncles.
They too gave of themselves for the cause of freedom.
Perhaps the most significant thing affirmed for me in reviewing this topic came from these two quotes.
Bob Dylan — “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
Eleanor Roosevelt — “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.”
We talked about freedom in our Wednesday morning Bible class this week as some of our stories have shared the history of Jewish freedom fighters in or near the time of Jesus. Freedom is not a given. It is not entitlement. Freedom is a privilege, and with that privilege indeed comes responsibility. We are responsible for our own behavior within that freedom and we are responsible for how we respect and support the freedom of others. My freedom does not give me the right to take away yours.
We talked about freedom in two ways – as freedom from and freedom for. While we agreed that “freedom means I can do what I want,” we quickly added the qualifying statement, “within the law.”
I am finding this freedom to do what I want is exactly what I enjoy about retirement. I am free to sit in my chair and watch the birds or to watch a show. I can chat with friends or turn my phone over and ignore it awhile. I can eat what and when I want, but I choose to eat healthy most of the time. Freedom means I have a choice. I can say “No” when an opportunity arises or I can say “Yes” when it’s something I want to do and my health and time allow me to do it. Still choices have consequences. I can choose to keep up with the dishes and the mail or not. But the consequences might include mold or missing a bill. Again, freedom comes with responsibility.
Many of us exercised that responsibility as we voted last week. I suspect that everyone had some disappointment as well as some smiles with election results.
I think it would be quite rare if every candidate I voted for or my opinion on every referendum went exactly the way I wanted, but at least some do. Our vote is one way we express our opinions in a democracy, but our opinion will not always be the majority. Still, I am grateful to live where I have that privilege rather than living in a dictatorship.
Freedom from could include many things. The first one mentioned Wednesday was freedom from stress. We also want freedom from disease and freedom from debt. In this nation we have fought for freedom from colonial powers and over a difference of opinion on freedom from slavery. In a wider world perspective we all need freedom from prejudice, freedom from oppression, freedom from poverty and hunger, freedom from pandemic, freedom from abuse, freedom from harassment, freedom from natural disasters and much more. We are easily overwhelmed by it all, but the one way we can make a difference is in how we treat ourselves, each other, and how we treat creation. When we take responsibility for the privilege of freedom, we help keep that freedom available for all of us.
As we read today’s scripture passages, you might wonder how they relate to freedom; I stuck with the lectionary readings for today. But as I read Isaiah I recognized a time when Judeans had lost many of their freedoms. They were not allowed to live as they wanted to live. They could not worship where and how they wished. They lost their homeland and their way of life as exiles in a foreign land. The passage from Isaiah speaks of a time when they will once again have freedom from such oppression. They will again have freedom from the hardships they have known.
The images point not only to a return to Judah and Jerusalem; they also seem to point beyond that to a future that still awaits us. The NIV Study Bible suggests:
“God’s salvation goes beyond Israel’s renewal. All creation will be restored.”
This is also promised in the book of Romans, chapter 8. “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (v. 21)
“In the book of Revelation, John links the notion of a new heaven and a new earth with the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:1–2). A restored Jerusalem after the exile and in the Messianic kingdom points toward this greater Jerusalem.”
The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible adds to this:
“describing in physical terms the benefits that come to those in fellowship with God: peace, security, abundance, freedom from sorrow and destruction.”
The statements are meant poetically, but some are also fulfilled literally.
There are “Metaphors of blessedness: long life (v. 20), enjoying the fruits of one’s labor (vv. 21–23), instant access to Yahweh and his power (v. 24; cf. 58:9).”
The last scene of Isaiah 65 was painted by Edward Hicks as the Peaceable Kingdom. The passage
“Directly quotes [Isaiah] 11:9a, connecting these promises to the work of the Messiah (see 11:6–8). It is his power that will enable his chosen ones, those who seek him in sincerity, to live the kinds of lives that result in true blessedness.”
As one writer put it,
“Salvation is not mere renovation; it is transformation.”
It seems to me that if we want to live in a transformed world of peace, security, and abundance then we must take seriously the responsibilities that come with the freedoms we seek. I think one of the most important things for me in our Wednesday morning conversation was the reminder that these freedoms are for all people. They are not just for those who look or think like me. If we do not work to secure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence) for all humanity, then are any of us truly assured of our own freedoms?
We are reminded every Veterans Day that freedom comes with a price tag. Many gave their lives to protect the freedoms you and I enjoy. The same is true with our faith. The freedom we have as children of God also came at a cost. The consequences of some of our choices have a price tag. Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Jesus paid the price with his sacrifice so that death is not the end of our story. In our appreciation for that gift we can also choose to live in ways that share our freedom with others.
This gift does not mean that our lives will be smooth sailing. Our Gospel lesson reminded us of hard times that Christians would have to endure for their faith. Some would become martyrs. Some would give in and renounce their faith. Besides persecution there would always be other hardships as well.
The Believers Bible Commentary summarized that aspect of the passage:
There would not only be conflict among nations, but great catastrophes of nature—earthquakes, … famines and pestilences, terrors, and great signs from heaven.
We are well aware of all of these yet today. But Jesus encouraged believers to stand firm and endure.
In the midst of the hardships, I believe we are meant to encourage one another, and there may be times we choose to sacrifice our privilege so that someone else will be kept free. Paul put it this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13) To be a forgiven child of God means freedom from and freedom for many things. It is a privilege, but it also comes with responsibilities.
Let me share a few more thoughts from the Bible regarding freedom:
First, we remember from Exodus that God set free those who were enslaved in Egypt. This is also what Jesus and the disciples remembered as they shared the Passover meal that became our Holy Communion. In Exodus we read,
“‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” (Exodus 6:6)
Jesus understood his own ministry in terms of freedom, but not the way the Zealots had anticipated:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” (Luke 4:16)
Jesus told his disciples:
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:32,36)
Paul and Peter both encouraged the responsibility of our freedom in their letters:
Paul -- “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Peter -- “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1 Peter 2:16)
These passages might seem to contradict each other, but Paul is saying we are set free from our slavery to sin, and Peter emphasizes that we may then choose to become slaves or servants to God’s will instead.
Just as the freedom to live as we want and do as we want needs the qualifying phrase, “within the law” so for a person of faith our free will needs to be conditioned by this phrase, “within the covenant.” If we value the freedom with which God created us and for which Jesus sacrificed himself to save us, then we will choose to live within God’s covenant, upholding in our own lives what God values. That is the responsibility of our privilege as God’s children living in God’s kingdom.
I invite you in the days ahead to think about the freedoms you cherish. What responsibilities have come with those privileges? Whom do we thank for the freedoms we enjoy? How can we help preserve and protect those freedoms for others?
Today we have a table lit with candles to honor those who made sacrifices for our freedom as citizens of the United States. But we have another table bearing reminders of the One whose sacrifice purchased our freedom as citizens of God’s Kingdom. Today as you eat the wafer and drink from the cup, give honor and thanks to Christ who set you free to live as a privileged son or daughter of our God.
*HYMN A Mighty Fortress #260
(You may be seated.)
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.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
Gracious God, may we give our lives in the service of freedom for all your children and daily remember that our true freedom is found in you. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
The Great Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Worship
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Praise to you, O God, for all your works.
You created the world and called it good
and made us in your image to live together in love.
You made a covenant with us,
and even when we turned from you,
you remained ever faithful.
Therefore with all creation we sing your praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Thank you, O God, for sending us your Son.
He lived among us and told your story.
He healed the sick and welcomed sinners.
He shared our pain and died our death,
then rose to new life that we might live,
and all creation be restored.
We give you thanks that the Lord Jesus,
on the night before he died, took bread,
and after giving thanks to you, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat. This is my body, given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way Jesus took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood,
shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.
Remembering your boundless love
revealed to us in Jesus Christ,
we break bread and share the cup,
giving ourselves to you
to live for him in joy and praise.
Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon these your gifts of bread and wine
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ
and that we may be his body for the world.
By your Spirit unite us with Christ and one another
until we feast with him and with all your saints
in your eternal realm of justice and peace.
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever. Amen.
PARTAKING THE BREAD AND CUP
*HYMN God of the Ages #262
*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,
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever. Amen.