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's Family as they Mourn the Passing of Gary, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston has been moved into a Hospice unit, 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 family her brother’s dementia has taken a turn for the worse, Deb Weller, The Wagner family as they morn the loss of Karen (Knight) Wagner this week .
*CALL TO WORSHIP
L: Oh Lord, How sweet are your words to our taste.
P: Sweeter than honey to our mouths.
L: Your decrees give us understanding.
P: Your commands help us to avoid the traps of evil.
L: We gather to worship and praise.
P: We gather to sing and celebrate our Lord. Amen.
We come, Loving Lord, to hold ourselves to you. You have promised to use our hearts as a tablet on which you write your laws, and you assure us that you will be our God for all time. Help us to absorb these truths and to take another step towards truly knowing you as you know us. Amen.
**HYMN From All that Dwell Below the Skies #229 (You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
We are a beloved people, called to feel God’s words of life written on our hearts. May we let go of our failings and guilt in order to receive the power to begin again. Let us pour ourselves out to our Loving Lord.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Precious Lord, How you challenge us to be better, more just, more loving, more forgiving! But too often we resist the call to reflect your grace into our world. Forgive us, Lord, and forgive us for itching ears that seek a more palatable word that is easier to follow. Help us to hear and respond to your call that we might follow in the footsteps of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
God loves us so much that after putting his law within us, he then forgives our iniquity and remembers our sins no longer. God sent his Son to redeem us. We are washed clean! That is God’s amazing gift! It calms our itching ears and enables us to joyfully offer life and hope in the name of our Parent in Heaven. Praise be to God. Amen
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
This morning we come to hear your promises again, O Lord. How hungry we are for a holy word that can help us get back on track, to find new energy for reaching out in your name or simply to let go of our anxiety. Open our ears and write upon our hearts, O Lord, that we might hear what we most need from you. Amen.
Jeremiah 31: 27-34
27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals.
28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.
29 “In those days people will no longer say,
‘ The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth
SERMON A Grandma Millie Kind of God
You know the rules. No dessert before you eat your vegetables.
Make your bed before you come downstairs for breakfast.
Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Don’t interrupt with adults are talking.
Pick up your toys before you get out the crayons.
No juice in the living room.
Sally’s Grandma Hazel was a good one for reminding her granddaughter about the rules. You didn’t talk back to Grandma Hazel either. She called it sass, even if it was just to ask why she couldn’t take juice in the living room or why she needed to pick up her toys before getting out the crayons. Sally loved her Grandma Hazel, but she was a little afraid of her, too. The older woman was so stern and so uncompromising in her rules for the grandchildren.
But Grandma Millie—She had almost the same rules at her house. The difference was that Grandma Millie assumed that Sally knew the rules. Once in a while she had to be reminded, but most of the time Sally could just look at Grandma Millie and know what she needed to do. The difference: Grandma Millie pulled Sally into her lap and called her, “My bestest little girl.” Grandma Millie read stories and helped Sally bake cookies. She listened to Sally tell her about what was happening in school, and she even came to school once in a while to have lunch with her. Grandma Millie called to ask Sally to come help her carve pumpkins at Halloween and to dye Easter Eggs in the Spring.
Sally loved both of her grandmas, but Grandma Millie, Sally would do anything for Grandma Millie!
So which was your grandma? Was she a Grandma Hazel who made sure you obeyed the rules because the rules were what made you strong and able to function in society, or was she a Grandma Millie? Rules are not to be ignored, but the avenue of importance was relationship first and rules somewhere down the line.
Rules ARE important. Rules help us to know what is expected, what is acceptable and what is polite. But if a child has only rules and not the love, then rules are pretty second rate!
I think that goes for our relationship with God, as well. God loved the Hebrew people. He had led them out of slavery. He loved them with a mighty love that carried them through dangers. He fed them with manna in the wilderness, and even gave them quail when they hungered for meat. He provided water, leaders, and even land. It was a good land filled with milk and honey. Rules were important, but God had loved this ragtag group of wandering ex-slaves. God had given them a new covenant on top of the promise he had made with their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We call them the 10 commandments.
But the people came into this new land and they prospered. They called for kings so they could be like their neighbors. They built cities and developed commerce and gradually as they grew more independent, they didn’t need their God in the same way as before. They were living the rules, but they had moved into a Grandma Hazel mode of trying to obey the letter of the law without really embracing the letter of the law or paying much attention to the giver of that law.
So slowly and painfully they slipped away. At first it was a growing divide between rich and poor with those living in poverty growing even more desperate. Many even resorted to selling themselves into slavery in order to have what they needed to live, Foreigners were treated badly. They began to be suspicious of any outside of their circle. A Civil war had divided God’s people into two nations who despised one another. Then came the Assyrians and the unthinkable happened. Israel, the northern nation, was wiped off the face of the earth.
Still the people of Judah maintained their way of life. And then here came the Babylonians, and suddenly their beautiful temple was demolished and their city was in ruins. People were being rounded up and led away.
God said, “You blew it. I was your God, but you ceased to be my people.” The exiles looked at one another in shame and dread and despair. Had God truly and for all time abandoned them?
It was the big question, and for some time they stewed in it. But when that despair was about to overwhelm them, God came to his people with another word. “The days are surely coming when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals.” It’s a repopulating, a reclaiming, a restoring word. But it’s more than returning things to the status quo.
“The days are surely coming says the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God. No longer shall they teach one another or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more.”
Suddenly God had bent down to hear their cry. Suddenly the feelings of despair and abandonment could be cast aside. Suddenly there was hope and the promise of new life. God had heard. God had not abandoned them. God made new promises, and they were promises that could be relied upon.
That’s the good news that I bring you today. Our God has fulfilled that promise. He fulfilled it at the perfect time when once again human despair was high. He sent his son. Not just a son to remind them of the rules. In fact, this son would wipe away at least some of those rules. But in the model of Grandma Millie, Jesus would be God’s way of pulling us into God’s lap. Jesus would fulfill the promise of God’s new covenant. He shows God’s incredible love and care for us in a way that allows us to live God’s rules because they are the joy of our being.
Just like Grandma Millie teaches her grandchildren how to be strong and healthy, Jesus wanted to give his disciples, and us, the tools to further live into God’s grace. And how do we do that? With prayer. Just like Grandma Millie spent time listening, God listens to us. He hears our weeping; he knows our worries; he listens to our requests; he knows us inside out. We might not feel God’s listening ear as we pray, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t there.
The key is to keep praying. Keep laying it out there. Keep asking. Keep knocking at that door. So Jesus told a parable. It’s about a corrupt judge who refuses to bring justice for a widow. (Now a widow would have been the most lowly and powerless of all in Jesus’ day.) But this widow had grit. She didn’t give up. She kept coming, kept asking, kept pestering the judge until he finally grew tired of her and gave her what she asked, which was justice! So the logic is this, if one who is corrupt, who doesn’t care, who is selfish and immoral—if even he can be convinced by the persistence of asking, then surely we will recognize that our God who is righteous, loving and who wants good and joyful things for us, will hear and respond to us.
Keep praying. That’s Jesus’ message. Prayer is God’s way of writing his love and grace upon our hearts!
This morning as we pray for our world in need, for our families and loved ones, for our church and for one another. We pray for God’s word to be written on all our hearts so that his love can flow through us. God hears our prayers and answers in God’s own way.
Sometimes it feels like God has left the building, that he doesn’t hear or care about our concerns. He doesn’t answer the way we wish. But we need to remember that God is not our fairy god mother who comes specifically to grant our request. God sees the big picture, and sometimes the best answer to our prayer is very simply “No.”
I believe that prayer works because it gives God an avenue to work on us. God touches our hurts, gives us new insights, shows us the doors to address our concern, brings new healing into our lives. Prayer is a conduit between us and God, and God is always at work in that process to bring new life and healing to us and to our world.
You know, Sally often sat with Grandma Millie after school. They would have a snack and Grandma would listen as Sally told her about her day. One day she told her grandma about the mean girls who were calling her “Long Tall Sally.” It hurt. But Grandma was able to say, “But my Darling, that’s a good thing. Being tall is good. Models are tall, Basketball players and other athletes are tall, movie stars and many other important women are tall. Don’t be ashamed of being tall. Stand straight and thank those girls for giving you a compliment!” Suddenly, Sally saw things differently. She was able to respond in a different manner, and that changed everything.
God works on us in exactly that same mode. He loves us so much that he writes that love on our hearts and helps us to navigate our world. Pray. Pray often. Pray for what you want, what you need, offer your hurts and struggles. God is there, and God answers.
Thank you, Lord for the family of faith who gathers before you this day. Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers and answering them in your wisdom and grace. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the new covenant written upon our hearts. AMEN.
*HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory #420 (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
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (From the Brief Statement of Faith)
We trust in God…
In everlasting love,
The God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people
to bless all the families of the earth.
Hearing their cry,
God delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage.
Loving us still,
God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
Like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
God is faithful still.
*CLOSING HYMN: I Want Jesus to Walk with Me #363
*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.
Some of today’s liturgy comes from the Book of Common Worship