July 9, 2023
4th Sunday after Pentecost
· Please join us in Calvin Hall following worship today for a time of fellowship.
· Join us for a time to help make our church building shine. We gather Wednesday, July 12 from 9:00 to 11:00 to do some cleaning that is above and beyond the scope of our weekly custodial expectations. Please bring rags, pails and a vacuum as you are able.
· Ladies Lunch Bunch will meet at Great Revivalist Brewery at 11:30 on Wednesday, July 12. Ladies, come to clean, change and join the group for lunch.
· School Supply Drive. See more information about this United Way effort to provide school supplies to all the elementary students in Clinton County. A box has been placed in the hall outside the sanctuary.
· Your Help is Needed! We need Hostesses for The Gathering Place. Come to play a couple games and enjoy an afternoon with some of our neighbors. If this effort is going to be sustainable, we need 8-12 people who can contribute up to 3 hours per month. Please speak to Pastor Joyce to sign up for a Thursday in the near future.
· JoAnn Grimm who struggles with health problems.
· Arlene Pawlik who is recovering from a broken leg.
· Joan Pinkston, on hospice.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
No one knows the Son except the Father.
No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Let us give thanks that we have been offered the awareness and knowledge of both Father and the Son.
Let us worship and praise for we are the enlightened and beloved people of Jesus Christ. Amen
Lord God, We seek the joy of living with your hand leading us along the way. Meet us this morning as we offer to you our worship and praise. We offer our hearts and our souls into your care for you are the calm in the storm, the path through the chaos, the hope for our world. Amen.
*HYMN Come Christians, Join to Sing #150 (You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
Our world is a place of chaos and suffering. How frantic and busy we are, and yet we seldom seem to find the peace that we seek. How frantic and busy we are, seldom finding the peace that we seek. . Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O Lord, We often find ourselves in agreement with Paul. We do not understand our own actions. For we do the very things that we do not want. The evil that we attempt to contain sneaks out and causes pain and chaos. We seek, but fail to find your paths of righteousness because this sin dwells so deeply within us. Forgive our faulty reliance upon the law to keep that sin in check. Rather, Lord, help us to lean on your Spirit and grace to lead us forward in truth and in love. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
“Come to me,” Jesus says. “I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” With this invitation God’s grace is offered to us. Our failings are wiped away and new life is offered. Let us receive this gift and know the joy of walking beside our Lord.
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. Let us connect our lives to this source of power and goodness. Let the words of scripture spoken this day ease our hearts and minds into Christ’s pathway of hope. Amen.
Romans 7:15- 25a
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature
Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 17 “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
SERMON Wearing the Yoke of Christ
Do you think that, at least in some ways our society has become a bit more gentle and compassionate in regard to a person’s problems than before? That person whom we used to call an alcoholic or maybe even a drunk, is today referred to as one who suffers from Alcohol Use Disorder. We’ve always known that addictions can be quite powerful, but today there is a whole avenue of thought around this being a medical condition that is truly beyond the individual’s ability to control. Overuse of drugs is Opiod Use Disorder. Obesity, once seen as a personal failing—just don’t eat so much—is now seen as a medical condition to be treated with drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy, or maybe bariatric surgery. Doctors say these are diseases just like diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis. We shouldn’t shame someone for these disorders, just like we wouldn’t assign blame to that person who has cancer or Parkinson’s Disease.
I think to remove the stigma is probably a really important step towards managing these things and finding help. It think it likely makes us a healthier society. It’s always good to look at your neighbor’s problem with some compassion.
But I’m also seeing some of this same sense of “I-can’t-control-this-thing” in the words of Paul. “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Can’t you hear someone with an addictive issue saying that? But wait, it also sounds like any of us when we respond with anger (once again) to our spouse or child. We justify it that they drive us nuts, but we promised ourselves we wouldn’t do that, but there we go. Those words snuck out of our mouth before our brain could stop them. It’s sort of like when the doctor thumps our knee with that rubber mallet. It doesn’t matter how many times we say we’re not going to move our leg, there it goes!
Or how about the time when, once again, we are late. We promised ourselves that we would be on time. Or when we lost that important slip of paper that had the phone number we needed. We put it carefully away. Now where was that safe place so we wouldn’t lose it?
We stretched the truth so we wouldn’t look bad—again.
We promised our child we would be at their game, but we just got called to go to work.
We retold that racist joke when we promised ourselves we wouldn’t repeat it.
We were unkind to our annoying neighbor.
Is this what it means to be human? “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” Paul is actually making an argument that the law is totally insufficient to curb those human behaviors that God frowns upon. The law says that we must not lie, but telling untruths comes pretty easy. Sometimes they are what my mom called bold faced lies. Did you eat the cookies? “No,” you say, as you quickly swallow the last one. White lies. The fibs you tell so you don’t have to hurt someone’s feelings. Self-deceptive lies—those whoppers you tell yourself (and others) because you can’t face the truth. Lies of omission, exaggerations, stretching things a cover-up for what you don’t want to admit.
We know that to lie is damaging in so many ways. We know that truth is always the right thing—even when it hurts or embarrasses us. But those lies slip out so easily!
And that’s just one example. Paul says that the law is insufficient to contain these bad behaviors. But he’s not ready to just throw in the towel. “Wretched man that I am!” Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer—“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
If we read further we hear this, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin…those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
This might not tell us exactly HOW God constrains our human capacity for sin. It might not show us the mechanism at work that gives us the power to behave more in accord to God’s desire for life, but it points the way. In Jesus Christ we are given that elixir that helps us to do what we, on our own, cannot do.
Maybe it has something to do with being so completely understood and accepted and loved. That’s our understanding of Christ’s love and compassion for us. But it seems the authorities of his day could only see the ways he didn’t fit the bill of a messiah. They criticize that he didn’t fast like they thought he should. They didn’t like his association with sinners and tax collectors.
Jesus’ response was to declare that God allowed every day people to see and understand his amazing love that was poured out in his ministry. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
It’s the same concept. We can’t know God on our own. We know God through God’s Son. We can’t control our own negative behaviors on our own, but in Jesus Christ we are given a new power by which our negative impulses and thoughts are put more in live with God’s hope for us.
Jesus is the key. Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the power for health and for life and for healing. As we open ourselves to recognize Jesus in our life, these other things fall into place.
Matthew share what is called Jesus’ Great Invitation. It’s one that all of us surely lean on. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus isn’t inviting us to just crawl into bed and bid the world to go away. He isn’t suggesting that we turn away from our responsibilities or quit working to be the very best person we can possibly be. What he’s doing is asking us to tackle the problem of our own human capacity for sin in a new way.
Forget the white knuckled will power approach. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work against addictions. Do you know what they call someone who has poured all the beer or booze down the drain, but who hasn’t done any other work on his or her sobriety? They call them a dry drunk. It’s just a matter of time before that person goes to the liquor store or bar. It’s just a matter of time before they resume behaviors that got them in a jam in the first place. They can’t help themselves because they haven’t done the work on their own heart and mind.
To truly do battle against the urges and the need for that drink, working on the underlying issues is important. Doing so in a place of acceptance and assistance is important. That’s why AA is so helpful.
Maybe we should think of Jesus (and by extension, Jesus’ church as the AA for putting our lives back into God’s design.
The church offers acceptance and companionship.
The church helps us to know that we are valued and loved—not just by God, but also by our brothers and sisters in the faith.
The church reminds us of what is right and good and loving.
The church offers us activities and mission opportunities by which we can feel like a part of God’s healing that is poured into our world.
The church walks with us in our celebrations and our sorrows.
It is the yoke of Christ. A yoke distributes the weight of the load. It allows the two to move together to better accomplish the task. It reminds the workers that it is now time to pull—no laying down on the job. It protects them from pulling in ways that strain muscles and joints.
Think about taking your struggles and your desire to do better to Jesus. Think about Jesus saying, “I understand. It’s not your fault. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling. Let me help. We can do this together.” And then think of the extra power that Jesus brings to your issues. The relief that comes as things start to get better.
We all need that yoke of Jesus because we can’t do it on our own. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is an addiction that is out of control or our own self-doubts that keep us from tackling our issues. We need the yoke of Jesus. We need other people in our life who will assist us and accept us and allow us to share their yoke as they also share ours.
It’s a good thing that we, as a society can begin to recognize that certain behaviors and addictions are too big and too powerful to be tackled on our own. It’s a good thing that we can recognize that all of us have issues with which we struggle and we all need help. It’s a good thing when we can take a deep breath and release it , knowing that there are answers that come in the grace of God.
The yoke of Christ is offered to you. It is God’s amazing gift for life. May we, as a congregation be a part of that gift for one another and for our hurting world out there.
Thank you, Lord, that you have provided what we, on our own, cannot. Your Spirit of Grace, the yoke of Christ. Amen/
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 GIFTS TO GOD
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
*HYMN Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ #514
(you may be seated.)
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
Lord Jesus Christ: Around your table we celebrate our communion with fellow Christians everywhere.
We praise you for the people who have quietly lived your faith into our world.
Thank you, God of Life, for calling us to this table where we can share your
abundance poured out for all the world.
Thank you for equipping us and feeding us so that we might become your hands and feet, proclaiming your love with the very fabric of our lives.
As the bread is broken this day, remind us that none have found perfection.
As the cup is poured, help us to claim our own need of you, your grace and goodness, your forgiveness and love.
Our lives have become rich and our cups are filled to overflowing with your abundant goodness.
We reach our hands to you, Gracious Lord. Take our lives and use us to speak your truth to a hurting world. May your Spirit spill forth from us to bring the dawn of hope to those locked in prisons of despair
As we approach your table, Lord, we are needy, and we are hungry.
Thank you for receiving us. Thank you for giving us this food for life, this cup of salvation. Amen.
RECEIVING THE BREAD AND THE CUP
*HYMN God Be with You Till We Meet Again #540
*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.