ORDER OF WORSHIP
- Greeting, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – Rev. Val
- Opening Hymn: Spirit Song (UMH 347)
- Responsive Reading – Psalm 51:6-15 (MSG)
- Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
- Scripture Readings (all readings CEB) – Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35 – Rev. Val
- Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
- Message: Inside Out – Rev. Val
- Offertory – Rev. Val
- Doxology (UMH 94)
- Communion Hymn: Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast (UMH 616)
- Service of Holy Communion
- Closing Hymn: Blest Be the Tie That Binds (UMH 557)
- Benediction – Rev. Val
WELCOME, CALL TO WORSHIP, & OPENING PRAYER
Hello and welcome to our worship service! I’m glad you’re all here whether in-person or watching us live on Facebook. Please refer to the back cover of your bulletin for today’s announcements. For our online viewers, you will find them on the transcript for today’s message that will be posted to our website later today (below).
Save the date!
- August 22, 2021, 5:00 p.m. – Maryville College Faith Fair. We will have a display and members present to welcome incoming freshman and others as the school year begins.
- August 28, 2021 – Rev. Val will be traveling to Kingsport, TN, to attend Annual Conference.
- September 5, 2021 – Communion Sunday
- September 19, 2021 – Coming Home Sunday Celebration Worship and Picnic
Call to Worship
We Remember – Worship Services for Election Day Services, Mark Schloneger, Kevin Gasser, Ben Irwin
L: We have come together as one.
P: One people, gathered in the name of the one God.
L: We will worship together as one.
P: One community, giving praise and honor to the Righteous One.
L: We are being empowered as one by One.
P: One body and one Spirit, called to the hope of one calling,
L: one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
P: one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in all.
L: Now, in the name of the Three-in-One, we act as one.
All: One people, giving witness to the power of One.
Kachael J, Africana Liturgical Resources, Pentecost Package 1, ed. Safiyah Fosua
My body. One body. Our body. God’s body.
This is my home.
These are my people.
We fully give our gifts to help strengthen the body.
My body. One body. Our body. God’s body.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
Only as one being strengthened and motivating those around us can we reign victorious.
Holy Spirit, we implore your wisdom, guidance, and discipline.
Make us whole. Strengthen our weakness.
Keep deception and division far from us.
Fill us forever with the true Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
May we not forget where our Eternal Life flows from.
Unify us in you, Lord. Beyond race, culture, education, social, and economic status. [Beyond immigration status, sexuality, gender identity, and political party.]
Bind us to one another.
Show us you in every face that looks back at us.
My body. One body. Our body. God’s Body
Adapted from Psalm 51:6-15 (MSG)
L: What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
P: Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
L: Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
P: Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
L: Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
P: God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
L: Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
P: Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!
L: Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
ALL: Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.
Open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, gracious Lord, as we turn to your scripture. We long to know you, to understand life, and to be changed. Examine us, Lord, by the floodlight of your truth.
Our scriptures this morning are taken from the Common English Bible.
Epehesians 4:1-16 (CEB)
Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.
What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.
John 6:1-15 (CEB)
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life.”
They asked, “What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?”
Jesus replied, “This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent.”
They asked, “What miraculous sign will you do, that we can see and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Jesus told them, “I assure you, it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven to you, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
The scriptures of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.
Creator God, you call us to love and serve you with body, mind, and spirit through loving your creation and our sisters and brothers.
Open our hearts in compassion and receive these petitions on behalf of the needs of the church and the world.
God, we come to you now in thanks and praise for those gathered in your houses of worship and worshipping you from home today. Thank you for our health and for sustaining us. Thank you for continuing to bless and protect your church here at Union Grove.
We lift to you now our prayers for those who have been stricken by COVID-19. Be with them, heal them, bring comfort and courage to them, to those who love them, and to their healthcare providers and caregivers.
Let Spirit descend and change the hearts of those who are currently refusing to be vaccinated for any reason other than legitimate medical issues, and still the voices of those who continue to advocate against the vaccine and the necessary safety protocols.
Lord, we haven’t forgotten those suffering from other illnesses like diabetes, cancer, COPD, neurological issues, dementia and Alzheimer’s, heart conditions, and those struggling with mental health issues, anxiety, stress, depression, and addiction. We pray you heal them and for those who can’t be healed that you bring them strength, comfort, peace, and understanding.
Lord, in your mercy … Hear our prayer.
We pray for those who are struggling financially, especially those who are facing possible eviction or foreclosure. We ask that you intervene in their struggles, that you help them find a way to keep their homes whether rented or purchased, and that you soften the hearts and open the eyes and minds of those in power who can assist them.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Our nation and many other nations around the world are in discord, God. Strengthen us, give us courage, and send Spirit to fill us and guide us in bringing peace where there is chaos, love where there is hate, unity where there is division, and justice where there is injustice.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Holy One, hear our prayers and make us faithful stewards of the fragile bounty of this earth so that we may be entrusted with the riches of heaven.
May your love take root in our lives, and we may walk by faith as we pray the words your Son taught us,
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, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those ewho trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
MESSAGE – Inside Out
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.
Nine Sundays ago, I told you, “Today, we begin a pilgrimage. Not a physical pilgrimage to an iconic religious destination in some far off place, but a pilgrimage of formation and transformation; of learning the foundations of what we believe, of what Methodists believe; a pilgrimage to a deeper faith. Today we begin a pilgrimage of spiritual formation, of not just the tangible and visible actions of the faithful, but of a faith that permeates and inhabits our inner selves. Today, we begin a pilgrimage into the meaning of discipleship and toward becoming true disciples.”
Since then, we have learned about the Trinity, about prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace, we’ve spent five of those Sundays talking about the Means of Grace … about scripture, prayer, Bible Study, worship, Holy Communion, fasting, Christian conferencing, and acts of service and compassion.
We’ve learned that understanding and forming good habits for all these things is how we form and grow our faith, and we’ve learned that we’re to do this both individually and as well as in communion with one another. In other words, we’ve learned the tools to live into our passage from Ephesians: to live as a people worthy of the call God gives us, to behave with humility, gentleness, and patience, to accept each other with love, and to work to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us together.
Now that we have all this information, we need to understand what comes next. Surely we didn’t learn all this only to worry about ourselves. Scripture tells us, “As you are going, make disciples.” We’re to do this at all times regardless of where we are. How do we carry this out that door and into the world or, as was pointed out last week, how do we deliver the loaves and fishes beyond the walls of this building? By working from the inside out.
Again, we can learn from our passage in Ephesians: Through his death and resurrection, Christ ascended to heaven and gave gifts to us. He made some of us apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. He equipped us for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until all reach a unity of faith and knowledge of God’s son. He gave us everything we need on the inside so we could continue his work on the outside – in our community.
We need to remember that our community is more than just those of us here today. It extends into all our relationships and networks, it extends into the local area around us and it extends far beyond that. Remember Jesus’ charge to the disciples in Acts 1:8, “You be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” John Wesley also spoke to this when he declared, “The world is our parish!”
We have the tools we need, inside each of us within our individual callings. And, as we each live uniquely different lives with uniquely different gifts, we are going to carry those loaves and fishes out of here in uniquely different ways. Not every opportunity to make disciples will be the same.
So do we just run out these doors today and tell everyone, “Hey! I need to tell you about my Jesus,” give them our five-minute elevator speech on the saving grace of accepting Jesus as their lord and savior, hope they were paying attention, and move on to the next guy? We could … but there’s a better way, a more meaningful way, and a way we can do this without having to develop and memorize that 5-minute speech.
Discipleship – being a disciple and making disciples – has both personal and social parts to it and is more than just our ticket to heaven. It is growing in holiness, in love for God, and in love for neighbor. Its social dimensions are being part of a local faith community and taking responsibility for personal growth through devotion and acts of compassion. As John Wesley once said, “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.”
If you’ll look at the front of your bulletins, you’ll see an odd looking group of crosses. The image outlines the elements of balanced discipleship: Works of Mercy and Works of Piety, each of which have both personal and public or social components. Mercy includes Acts of Compassion and Acts of Justice or advocacy. Piety includes Acts of Devotion and Acts of Worship. If we’re doing all four of those acts and we’re doing both the personal side and the social or public side, we achieve balanced discipleship.
For some of us, though, this can be a challenge. We may be really good at one or two, most likely the two personal acts, but struggle to do all four, especially the social ones that require us to interact with other people. That’s why we need to form good habits and we also need to not be afraid to ask one another for help, encouragement, and support in those acts that we struggle with.
And here’s the thing, folks. Just like in the story in our passage from John, our 5-minute elevator speech isn’t going to be enough. In most cases, it will leave those we deliver it to unsatisfied and we’d have to hope and pray it left them hungry for more … hungry enough to get in their proverbial boat and follow us to the source of more.
Again, there’s a better way. An influential disciple is one whose faith is evidenced in action in the congregation and in the community. A disciple should model the Christian faith to the best of his or her ability. People learn by watching what we do and hearing what we say, and what we do is far more powerful than what we say, so we can’t just quote “Do unto others,” we have to actually practice it.
Please note, I said we have to practice it. We can’t always wait until we feel comfortable or competent, because God doesn’t wait until we reach perfection to work through us. As you may have noticed in the many stories we’ve covered over the past year, God seems to delight in using imperfect people to do His greatest work of transformation! That doesn’t mean we learn a little and that’s enough, though. As disciples in the Wesleyan way, we’re responsible to continue seeking to grow into the likeness of Christ.
Yes, we need to have knowledge of basic Christian doctrine, but there’s much more to discipleship formation than just knowing and passing on information or facts. As a church we should be helping people be formed as disciples of Christ and transformed into the people God has created them to be. As the faith community, we should support the disciples in our care by equipping them to live a pattern of discipleship: to live Christ’s teachings, learn in relationship with others, experience God through our actions, Witness to the differences seen because of those experiences, and then begin the pattern again, growing in our faith each cycle.
Sometimes, transformation will be as slow as water rushing over rocks for years slowly changing their shape. Other times, transformation will happen much more quickly, like a river flooding over its banks and radically altering the shape of the land. Slow or fast, transformation is the work of God in our lives that changes us from our current state of being into the people God wants us to be. And although we’re actively practicing the Means of Grace and the Works of Mercy and of Piety, it’s God who is responsible for the transformation. Our real job is just to trust God to do the heavy lifting. Our role is to create the places and times where people can learn about God, hear the stories of the faith, experience Christian community, explore ways God might be inviting them to live, and find ways to serve as Christ’s disciples.
In God’s world, people are far more important than facts or methods or curriculum. Our identity as a baptized disciple of Jesus Christ is of primary importance. You may feel insecure about the knowledge you may think you lack and it’s important for you to grow in Christian knowledge and spiritual disciplines, but your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ will influence others whether you’re intentionally working to do so or not. In fact, the influence of role models is powerful and often occurs unconsciously. Our habits and choices reveal our Christian character and form us into model disciples for others. That’s why it’s inevitable that, by nature, a disciple disciples, whether through intentionally coaching and mentoring, or just through our casual relationships with other people.
That’s also why congregations of churches are, by nature, formational. As a congregation our primary task is
- To reach out to welcome people where they are to receive them as they are;
- To connect people to God and their community through Jesus Christ
- To nurture their formation in faith;
- And to send them into the world to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
That might sound difficult, but it can be as simple as calling a person by name or extending a word of encouragement; creating settings for reminding one another of the stories about God and Jesus Christ; creating opportunities for children, youth, and adults to discuss, encourage, and hold one another accountable for following Christ; and by praying as we’re all sent to reflect God’s love to others in the name of Jesus. That’s how we form new disciples: by reaching out and receiving, connecting to God and others, nurturing formation in the faith, and sending them forth to live transformed and transforming lives.
God forms us into disciples by transforming us inside so that we can go outside … outside ourselves, outside these walls, even out of our comfort zones … to transform the world. Therefore, go forth and make disciples!
Please join me in a prayer for our gifts this morning:
Almighty Giver of All Good Gifts: Grow in us the wisdom to know that all we have to give is in our hands only because you have given to us first. Remind us that you have called us in Christ to be gentle, patient, and loving – and at one with your children everywhere. May the gifts we have been given and the gifts we share reflect the debt of our gratitude for your many blessings. We pray this in the holy name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION
Rev. Dr. Pat Whittemoore, ALPS & Tennessee-Memphis-Holston Course of Study
We do not provide a transcript of this portion of our service.
Sarum Blessing (Sarum Liturgy, England, 13th Century, Alt.)
Now hear this benediction:
God be in your head, and in your understanding.
God be in your eyes, and in your looking.
God be in your mouth, and in your speaking.
God be in your heart, and in your thinking.
God be at your end, and at your departing.
Go forth in the love of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit!
- All works cited within the text above.
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If you are able and whether you’re worshipping with us in person or online, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove.
Just visit http://www.holston.org/churchoffering, and follow the instruction for making your offering. When asked, please choose Smoky Mountain District and Union Grove UMC Blount – Friendsville.
If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:
Union Grove UMC
1151 Lane Drive
Friendsville, TN 37737
Please be sure to make your checks payable to “Union Grove UMC Friendsville“.