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 Psalm 139:1-6, GNT
Lord, you have examined me and you know me.
You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts.
You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions.
Even before I speak, you already know what I will say.
You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.
Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.
We come to praise our God who is our Creator and our Redeemer. We give
thanks to our healer and our deliverer. We seek renewal and inspiration to go
on with our lives, to be God’s people, to offer God’s love and compassion to all God’s people. Amen.
*HYMN Oh For A Thousand Tongues #466
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION Deuteronomy 30:16-18, NCV
Long ago Moses warned God’s people before they entered the promised land: “16 If you obey the commands of the Lord your God, which I give you today, if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people. The Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are about to occupy. 17 But if you disobey and refuse to listen, and are led away to worship other gods, 18 you will be destroyed—I warn you here and now. You will not live long in that land across the Jordan that you are about to occupy.” The message is not that different for our own day. If we love God and live according to God’s intentions we will be blessed, but if we turn away from God to other priorities, we will not long survive as a people.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Let us, therefore, confess our sins to the Lord.
God of mercy, we confess that we do not always obey your commandments. We do not always listen to the voice of your Holy Spirit whispering your truth in our inner being. We do not always care for our neighbor or care for the earth. We are not always good stewards of the resources you provide. We are not always grateful for the blessings you bestow. Though we may try our best, we can do better. Give us your grace to live more and more according to your will for our lives and forgive the times we have fallen short of our intentions to live for you. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE Ephesians 1:7-8, CEB
“7 We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, 8 which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding.” 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
Lord, as we come to hear your word, reveal to us the message you would have us hear and give us courage to pursue it. Amen.
SCRIPTURE LESSON John 1:35-51, GW
35 The next day John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 John saw Jesus walk by. John said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God.” 37 When the two disciples heard John say this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus turned around and saw them following him. He asked them, “What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 Jesus told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went to see where he was staying and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about ten o’clock in the morning.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two disciples who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 Andrew at once found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). 42 Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.
Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon, son of John. Your name will be Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
43 The next day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee. He found Philip and told him, “Follow me!” 44 (Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.)
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the man whom Moses wrote about in his teachings and whom the prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from the city of Nazareth.”
46 Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip told him, “Come and see!”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and remarked, “Here is a true Israelite who is sincere.”
48 Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do you know anything about me?”
Jesus answered him, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Nathanael said to Jesus, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel!”
50 Jesus replied, “You believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 Jesus said to Nathanael, “I can guarantee this truth: You will see the sky open and God’s angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man.”
Among their favorite memories of their grandma, my daughters both shared grandma’s “tea” parties which were hot chocolate and marshmallows instead of tea and sugar cubes. But the happy memory begins long before sitting at the table. What they especially liked was the hand written and decorated invitations. They would each receive one, and they say it made them feel very special. It made the tea party feel grown up and made them feel important to receive that invitation to it.
There is power in a personal invitation, and that is a theme in today’s Bible lesson from the gospel of John.
We begin with John the Baptist who was preaching and baptizing in the region of the Jordan River. John had students who were following him even before Jesus began his ministry. Two of them were with John the Baptist when Jesus passed by. One of them was Andrew. Most scholars believe the other was our gospel writer, John. They assume he was being modest by not identifying himself. If you think about it they were the younger sons of two fishing families who often worked together. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of them went together to listen to John the Baptist whenever they had time.
John the Baptist had been teaching that someone greater than he is coming. When Jesus approached John to be baptized, the Holy Spirit indicated to John the Baptist that this was the One he had been waiting for. He proclaimed, “Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29b) Perhaps Andrew and the other disciple were not present that day, for it was the next day that they were with John the Baptist when Jesus passed by. Again John the Baptist proclaimed, “Look! This is the Lamb of God.” (John 1:36) That proclamation captured these disciples’ interest, and so they sought Jesus to learn more from him.
Let me add an aside here. You may have noticed that our gospel writer included some vocabulary lessons in our story. Since John’s was the last gospel put into writing, perhaps by then these reminders were needed. How fortunate for us because we need them even more than the late first century audience. So we learn that Rabbi means Teacher, and in particular in that age in usually meant a scholar who taught and interpreted the scriptures of the Old Testament to whatever students gathered around him. Disciples was the word for these students. One Bible dictionary translates Rabbi as Master indicating it is “a title of dignity given by the Jews to their doctors of the law and their distinguished teachers.” (Easton)
Andrew believed from the start that Jesus was the Messiah, which John tells us means the same as Christ. This is usually translated into English as “anointed one.” In scripture it specifically refers to “the Anointed One” of God who was promised by Old Testament prophets. That one word Messiah in Hebrew or Christ in Greek when capitalized in our translations represents all the hopes and dreams of God’s people since the exile, to have a shepherd, a savior, one who would be sent by God to deliver them. Another Bible dictionary states, Messiah “denotes someone who has been ceremonially anointed for an office.” It goes on to say, “In the OT two office-bearers are expressly described …. as anointed (with oil): the high priest (the one responsible for the official cult) and the king …. In both cases the anointing… was essential for the conferring of the authority connected with the office and for the resulting responsibility before God.” (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology) In the New Testament, Jesus is understood to be the fulfillment of those promises and those centuries of longing. Jesus is referred to both as High Priest in the letter to the Hebrews and as King in many places in the New Testament. Therefore Jesus receives the title of Messiah or Christ from those who believe.
One more vocabulary relates to Jesus giving a new name to Andrew’s brother when they meet. This fisherman had been known as Simon, a fairly common name at the time. There are many Simons in the New Testament. But Jesus gave him a new name, and that usually indicated a new identity or even mission as when God gave new names to Abram and Sarai or to Jacob. Simon’s new name was Cephas in their native Aramaic or in the Greek, Petros which we call Peter. We’ve often been told it means stone or rock, but I like the fuller description given in Easton’s Dictionary, "a mass of rock detached from the living rock." I ponder what Jesus meant by that. I can imagine Jesus or God as the living rock because the Psalms often refer to God as the Rock. To me that represents a solid, sturdy, stable foundation. Was Peter then to become a separate mass representing the living rock? Jesus did say that on the Rock named Peter, Jesus would build his church. I think Jesus was announcing that he would turn Simon into a solid, sturdy, stable foundation for his future Church, though it would take a long time to get Peter to that point. As we head back to our story, let me specifically point out, it was younger brother Andrew who invited Simon Peter to come and meet Jesus.
Now then, back to our story. Andrew and friend went to Jesus to ask a simple question, “Where are you staying?” It showed their interest not only for that encounter but expressed a hope for further interaction. Jesus response was to extend an invitation, “Come and see.” This invitation was in one form or another made four times within this story. First Jesus invited these two who expressed interest. They took him up on the invitation and spent the entire day following him, listening to him, seeing what Jesus was all about from the very beginning of his ministry.
Andrew, extended that invitation then to his brother, Simon. “We have found the Messiah!” Since Andrew brought Simon with him to Jesus, there was an implied sense of “Come and see.” Depending on what that sibling relationship was like, I can picture a younger brother tugging on the older brother’s sleeve, as if he was urging, “We really did find him, you have to come and see and hear for yourself. The chores you are trying to do aren’t that important. Come on, you don’t want to miss this!” Perhaps there was even a polite, apologetic nod to his sister-in-law as he pulled his brother away from the house. I imagine she would have shrugged or shook her head used to their antics. Whether it was a playful exchange or a calm, sedate one, I still imagine gentle Andrew had some urgency in his voice as he invited his older brother to come and meet Jesus.
Not long after, Jesus invited another friend, Philip who was from Andrew and Simon Peter’s hometown. “Follow me!” which again I believe implies “Come and see what I have to offer, what I have to teach you.” Philip accepted that invitation and came to the same conclusion as Andrew, that Jesus was the one they have been hoping to find.
Philip went to his friend Nathanael and described Jesus as the one Moses and the prophets taught about. Philip was eager for Nathanael to join them, but Nathanael was a skeptic. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asked. Philip’s response was once again the simple invitation, “Come and see.” In other words, don’t just take my word for it, but come and decide for yourself.” Of course, Jesus was more than prepared to meet Nathanael. Jesus’ few words of foresight were enough to convince Nathanael that Jesus was the One.
So I ask, what was being offered in these invitations? When my daughters received those special tea party invites from their grandma, they expected hot chocolate and marshmallows and probably cookies served in a fancy tea set at the dining room table. That is exactly what mom gave them. What did Andrew and John or Philip expect when they accepted Jesus’ invitation? They believed he might be the Messiah, the long awaited anointed one who would fulfill God’s promises to God’s people. This is why Andrew invited Simon and Philip invited Nathanael to join them.
John the Baptist to whom Andrew and John had been listening, was the first prophetic voice in a few hundred years. It stirred up their hopes based on the ancient teachings. It meant to them that God was on the move and something new was going to happen. It meant hope in a time when it was not easy to be a Jew. They expected Jesus to offer meaning and purpose and probably much more.
Jesus did come to offer that along with interpretation and understanding of what was written in the scriptures up to that point. Jesus offered a realignment for those who had gotten more focused on human tradition and protocol than on the intentions of God’s Word and covenant. Jesus offered a way of life that fulfilled the biblical message for their relationship with their Creator. Jesus did this through his teachings and by his own example. Becoming his disciples gave them a front row seat for all he would share, so that they could learn and grow and become people God could use to build the future.
That building process is always based on two things: observing Christ and striving to live by his teachings, and then inviting others to join you.
The Church (big C) as the Body of Christ and Community of Faith, is always in that building process. Through generations of disciples and apostles, evangelists and writers, preachers and teachers, but especially through ordinary people with ordinary lives, Jesus has continued to build his Church adapting as needed along the way. Peter’s letter put it this way, “Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5, GNT) We become more useful in this process when we learn all we can of Jesus through scripture and study and when we put what we have learned into practice in our daily lives. But don’t stop there!
If Jesus’ Body, God’s Community is going to grow, going to endure, and going to fulfill its purpose, we have to remember it’s not just for us. When Andrew invited Peter and Philip invited Nathanael, the number of believers doubled. The potential for future disciples and hence future apostles doubled. The church grew exponentially in the first century because in spite of all obstacles, those who believed Jesus was sent by God, continued to live out and share what Jesus taught. They continued to invite others to join them.
Did everyone invited choose to believe, choose to join the fellowship, choose to become a disciple themselves. No. When we get brave enough to talk about God, to talk about Jesus, to talk about Church to those around us, we need to remember that it is our mission only to share and to invite, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to convince.
If we want to be like Andrew and Philip, to invite others to meet Jesus, to meet God, then we are simply finding our own version of “Come and see.” You might invite someone to worship or to a Bible study or you might share a book or a devotional with them that you have found helpful. Or perhaps the person you want to invite might not be ready for study. Then you want to start with fellowship. You might begin with a lunch group or a breakfast group that includes others from church. If we have a game day or movie night again, that might be a safe place to begin or if the church hosts an event. If the person is community minded, invite them to participate in a local mission project with you. All of these and many more ideas are potential entry points. Perhaps you can see that over time, if we want to invite more people to meet Jesus with us, then we have to offer multiple opportunities to extend such invitations. While worship is a priority for those of you sitting in our pews on Sunday morning, it is not always the starting place for others. When you are extending an invitation to someone to connect with Jesus through the church, you’ll want to know about that person and have an idea of what is going on in that person’s life. You also want to know what is going on in the life of the church. Then you choose the invitation by finding the best match available of an opportunity that will meet something that person needs.
Let me go back to our Bible story to make that example. Peter and Nathanael each in their own way had for much of their lives been waiting for the Messiah. What they heard in the synagogue made them long for God’s promised deliver. What they experienced under Roman occupation made it feel even more urgent. They lived their daily lives but with one ear cocked or one eye searching for the movement of God in their midst and the fulfillment of all their hopes as a culture, as a people, as well as their dreams individually. When Andrew and Philip extended their invitations they included their excitement in finding the one they had all been looking for all this time.
What are people in the world around you looking for today? They may indeed need God’s anointed one, but that is not how they are expressing their need. That is not the teaching or the language of the culture around us. However, people are aware and can sometimes voice a need to belong, a need for fellowship, a need to be accepted, a need for something to believe in that won’t let them down, a need for healing, a need for peace, a need for hope, a need to do something that makes a difference. People around us all have needs. So, next ask yourself how might Jesus through the church meet some of those needs? If there is something we are already doing that might be the right opportunity, you know where to invite the person you have in mind. If it’s something we aren’t offering in any way right now, is it something we could potentially offer? Instead of making excuses why we can’t, ask God “What if…” Then after lifting it in prayer several times, if you are still pondering the possibility, take your “What if…?” to Pastor Joyce. She can help you explore the maybes. It might just be an opportunity we can create with God’s help for another way to meet someone’s needs.
Let me give you an example from my own ministry here. Over a decade ago, when I was the one preaching upstairs for New Hope Lutheran’s closing worship service, I recognized a need. Not everyone knew where they wanted to go to church after that Sunday. I wanted to offer something to tide them over until those decisions could be made. So I tossed out the idea of a Bible Study. Four women took me up on the offer. That’s how God Sighting Gals started. Out of that Bonnie and Deb worshipped with us for several years, Karla followed me in the office. Sadly, Carol passed away. Eventually Judy Welcher became part of the group. After several years of Bible Studies, we no longer met regularly but to this day we are still a support group and prayer circle by text messages.
What I am saying is, if you see a need and a way the church might meet it, extend the invitation. You never know what God might choose to do with it or who might say “Yes.” Don’t worry about the rest. Perhaps God didn’t intend that particular invitation for them. Be content to meet the need of those who choose to participate. God may meet far more needs through those connections than you can imagine.
*HYMN Eternal God, Whose Power Upholds #412
(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
With thanks for the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives, we offer ourselves to share the good news of Christ with others and invite them to come and see for themselves. We seek the courage to do this whenever God gives the opportunity. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Nicene Creed (Ecumenical) p. 15
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*CLOSING HYMN Go, Ye, Go, Ye STF #2239
*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.