• Greeting, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Opening Hymn – How Great Thou Art (UMH 77)
  • Responsive Reading
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Scripture Readings – Job 38:1-7, 34-41 (NRSV), Mark 10:35-40 (NSRV) – Rev. Val
  • Message: Re-Focus – Rev. Val
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Closing Hymn – There Is a Balm In Gilead (UMH 375)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val


Good morning! For those who’ve worshiped with us before either in-person or online, welcome back. For those who are joining us for the first time this morning, we’re glad you here. Welcome home!

A few quick announcements:

Please check the back page of your bulletin for upcoming special dates. The candlelight vigil on Nov. 20 will begin at 6:00 pm in front of the Campus Ministry building. It’s my understanding that the area is handicap accessible and seating will be provided. The vigil is in remembrance of Trans who have lost or taken their own lives. Please plan on attending that vigil and standing with them

This afternoon at 3:00 pm is the Service of Celebration for Bishop Wallace-Padgett at First United Methodist Church in Maryville or you can watch it on livestream at Holston.org/live, and I encourage you to do so.

Lastly, Advent begins November 28. I’m going to try to have a schedule of services out before then, but one important date you may want to note is December 5th. I’ve invited the Maryville College Pride Club to join us for worship here that Sunday and we will be lighting the candle of Love.

Okay! If you are worshiping online with us and haven’t done so, please consider signing up for our weekly worship bulletin email. There are connection card forms on our Facebook page and on our website that make it easy. We rarely send more than one email per week, but it keeps you up to date on each week’s worship plus upcoming activities and events.

Save the date!

  • On-going Prayer Vigil
  • November 7 – Communion Sunday & All Saints Day
  • November 20 – Candlelight Vigil with Maryville Pride Club, 6 p.m. in front of the Campus Ministry Building
  • November 28, 2021, 3:00 p.m. – Charge Conference at Maryville First UMC
Call to Worship
Roger D. Straw, in Flames of Spirit: Resources for Worship, Ruth Duck, ed, Pilgrim Press, 1985, 60

L: God created the heavens and the earth.

A: And gave them to us to use and enjoy.

L: And God breathed life into each of us, and set us on the earth.

A: And God sent Jesus Christ to save us from the pull of death.

L: Everything that fills our souls with gladness and light is a gift from the loving Creator. unfathomable riches. For all this our God is to be praised. Let us worship God together!

A: We have been entrusted with

Opening Prayer – The Peace We So Desperately Crave
Jann C. Weaver, in Flames of Spirit: Resources for Worship, Ruth Duck, ed, Pilgrim Press, 1985, 49

Your grace is near, O God, for you are the God of the storm. You wait in silence for us until we are open to you. Tune us to hear your voice, to face your silence without fear. Speak and bring to us our Savior, Jesus Christ, to giver of your peace. In the name of this one whom we know as the world’s Savior, we pray.



Stephen Carlisle Void, Africana Writers Project, Pentecost Package 2, edited by Safiyah Fosua

L:  If I created the universe with all its stars and planets, can’t I fix your brokenness? Trust me, I got this!

A: Lord, help us to trust you.

L: If I laid the very foundation of the earth, measured its dimensions, placed my Son, its cornerstone, as a protector of my creation, then surely I can fix your broken marriage. Trust me, I got this!

A: Lord, help us to trust you.

L: If I created the sky, the sea, the moon, the sun, then surely I have the cure for all your diseases. Trust me, my child, I got this!

A: Lord, help us to trust you.

L: If took clay and molded you into being, if I gave you my breath to live, if I gave you my word as a compass, then surely I can take you back from the clutches of sin and death. Trust me, my creation, I got this!

A: Lord, help us to trust you.

L: Lord, you have shown us countless times that you are here for us, yet we are slow to trust. We turn to worldly providers and hope things will work out. We resort to vices and devices to numb our pain, but the pain still exists. Help us, O God, to place all of hope, dreams, fears, plans, and doubts in your capable hands.

A: Amen.


Based on “Lord, I Thought I Knew” by Kwasi I. Kena, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, 40

Lord, you know how many times we thought we knew …

How to run our life

How to fix their problems, and

How You should answer our prayers.

But each time, through trauma or tragedy, hardship or hard times, you remind me how much I don’t know about your will. Though I may not like it at the time, pleased remind me that you are God, and I am not. Ask me questions I can’t answer. Give me answers I can’t comprehend. Remind me that you laid the earth’s foundation. That you speak and the winds obey. That you squeeze the clouds ‘til rain falls. Then give me the good sense to hold my peace and meditate on what you’ve just said.

We lift up to you all those among us and among our neighbors who suffer any form of illness whether physical, mental, or are sick at heart, those who are suffering, who are grieving, and who are lost.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We lift up to you all those who are frustrated, who are angry, who feel inconsolable, who have been misled, misunderstood, mistreated, who feel abandoned, rejected, excluded, who are on the edge of giving up, who can find little or no hope, especially the least, the left behind, and the left out who are all created in your image.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for your church, that we may remember the grace you gave us in our brokenness, and that we may extend that grace to all with no judgment of worthiness.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

God we lift up to you our ongoing prayers and petitions …

  • For the eradication of COVID-19 in every form and an end to the pandemic
  • For protection of all innocents in Afghanistan, in all other war torn nations, and in all nations under authoritarian regimes, especially the women and girls of those nations.
  • For Haiti, for the coasts stricken by storms, for the states in the west stricken by drought and wildfires, and for all those first responders who are battling the effects of extreme weather caused by climate change
  • For the healing of the planet.
  • For the protection and preservation of democracy here and around the world
  • For an end to discrimination and oppression in any and all forms

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

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 who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.


Draw us close, Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures are read and the Word is proclaimed. Let the word of faith be on our lips and in our hearts, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice we hear today — the voice of truth and grace.


Job 38:1-7, 34-41 (NRSV)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together, and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you?

Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?

Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?

    Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert?

Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?

Mark 10:35-40 (NRSV)

James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on your right and one on your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on my right or on my left, this is not mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – In the Wilderness

Adapted and/or quoted from ©2009-2021 Michael K. Marsh, Votes that Matter, interruptingthesilence.com, and from Steve Kimes, Mark: An Illustrated Commentary, markcommentary.blogspot.com. Closing prayer by Derek C. Weber

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

Every had someone look at you and say, “Pay attention! Focus!”?

In today’s passage from Mark, James and John are not just asking Jesus for special treatment, they’re asking for the highest form of special treatment. They’re asking to be seated, one on either side of him, in heaven.

Jesus’ response to them is, “Are you sure that’s what you want? Are you able?” To which, they both respond, “We are ready, willing, and able.”

Jesus must have felt exasperated at that point. He’d already told them twice what he was facing, and it must have felt like they hadn’t heard a word he’d said. Jesus has told them he’s going to suffer horrifically, he’s going to be betrayed, he’s going to die … that is his “cup” to drink from, and they’re like, “No problem!”

Part of the problem was method.  Jesus’ method of gaining leadership of the kingdom of God was for himself to be rejected, tortured and killed by the current leadership.  The disciples, however, believed in gaining leadership the old-fashioned way—by connecting with powerful people.  Jesus was powerful, and was going to be the King of Israel, they firmly believed.  So James and John decided to move ahead of the pack and just ask Jesus about gaining the top positions in the new kingdom, right next to Jesus.*

Jesus pointed out that they had no idea what they were asking.  He told them for a third time about suffering he would go through, and asked if they were willing to do the same.  Even though the “cup” that he speaks of is almost always a reference to suffering and martyrdom (Mark 14:23-24; 14:36; John 18:11), and “baptism” is associated with a dangerous passage across water, including death (Luke 12:50; Romans 6:4;I Corinthians 10:1-2; Colossians 2:12;  I Peter 3:21), the disciples most likely misunderstood and thought he was speaking of simple cleansing by water (Luke 11:39 uses the word “baptize” to indicate washing). 

The two disciples were quick to agree to “drink from his cup.” It’s pretty clear they thought that the requirements he was asking them to do was a simple matter.  He indicated that they would indeed suffer the same as him, but it backfired on them when he went on to tell them he couldn’t give them what they asked for; that it was only the Father who knows who will be in the topmost leadership positions in the kingdom, and the Son has no authority to offer them to anyone.

It makes you wonder if the disciples had really been hearing what Jesus said, or if they’d been hearing what they wanted Jesus to say. Remember that the Jewish people had a preconceived notion that, when the Messiah came, he’d come riding in on a war horse to vanquish the Romans like a warrior prince.

They missed another point, too. Yesterday, I posted a TikTok video of and by Rev. Brandan Robertson to our page on Facebook. In the video, Rev. Robertson reminds us that Jesus didn’t teach that heaven … God’s Kingdom … was a place to get to. Jesus taught that it was our job to bring heaven … God’s Kingdom … to earth … as it is in heaven. He told us God’s kingdom is at hand.

At least in that moment, James and John weren’t focused on building God’s kingdom here on earth. They were focused on getting to heaven, and on getting special treatment when they arrived. And, again, they missed important points. Three times Jesus’ told the disciples what it was to follow him. “Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first,” and, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Just last week, we heard Jesus’ instructions attending a banquet … to seek the least desirable seat, not the most desirable seat. Asking for the best seats in the house like James and John had just done makes it pretty clear they weren’t focusing during that lesson, either.

I wonder how often we fail to focus on what he taught us. Do we truly live our lives in service to others? Or are we only serving when it’s convenient for us to serve?  

James and John’s request was self-privileging. They are privileging themselves over others, and we often do too. Give us. Do for us. That’s business or politics as usual. “But it is not [to be] so among you,” Jesus says.

At no point in his ministry was Jesus ever “business or politics as usual.” He always put others over himself. He came to serve, not be served.

What if we truly were more like Jesus? What if we traded our self-privileging for the privileging of others? What if we met each other asking, “What is it you want me to do for you?” What if we sought the well-being of others first? What if we sought to be instruments of peace: to sow love where there is hatred, pardon where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, joy where there is sadness? What if we sought to console more than to be consoled, to understand more than to be understood, to love more than to be loved? (Adaptation of “A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis,” Book of Common Prayer, 833) That sounds to me a lot like one who is a servant to and slave of all.

We may each need to re-focus our beliefs, our words, our action. We most definitely need to re-focus on the words Jesus spoke; to reflect, meditate and pray on them.

Because at some point in our experience of following Jesus, he will ask us, “Are you willing to drink the cup I drank?”  Of course, if we are confronted by him like James and John were, we would say, “Yes, of course, Lord.  We’ll follow you anywhere.  Just ask. Whatever you want.”  But Jesus just sits back and waits.  Waits to see not what we say, but what we do.

James and John, of course, ran at first sight of Jesus being arrested.  This is because they thought that suffering would come in the context of fighting, in defending Jesus.  But Jesus didn’t want defense.  He didn’t want others to suffer at the hands of his disciples.  It was his purpose to suffer and his disciples to suffer with him.

What will we do, when the moment of trial comes?  Will we accept the suffering of Jesus, or will we pass on the cup?  Will we accept difficulty and risk and suffering for the sake of Jesus and love, or will we back off?  Most likely we will hesitate and scatter at first.  But, like John who turned back to sit at the foot of the cross and like James who was the first of the twelve to die a martyr’s death, we will have a chance to re-consider Jesus’ question.

Let’s pray:

Since being exiled from the Garden, O so long ago, we have been held hostage to death. There was no way of escaping the clutches of death. The price was too high, and we could never truly pay it off to become free. There were not enough sacrifices to atone for the sins that we had committed.

Then, Father, you had a plan to change that. You sent your Son as the Advocate on our behalf, to snatch us from the Kidnapper, Death. With three nails, a cross, and a crown of thorns, Jesus paid the price to set us free from the jailhouse. With the power of the Resurrection, Jesus paid our ransom and snatched back the keys to the shackles that held us prisoner to our sins. With his crimson blood, he took away our filth and made us clean. Whom the Son has set free is truly free indeed. We were once on the outside looking in. Now we have a seat at the Welcome Table. As we gather here, as newly freed souls or souls that have been on the battlefield for some time, help us to remember we are no longer hostages to our past. Open our ears and hearts to listen to the refreshing word that will further convince us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. May someone have an awakening experience to the fact that he or she can be set free today. In the Name of the One who paid the price, we pray.



Please join me in a prayer for our gifts this morning:

God of great blessing, but even greater lessons, remind us again who gives life and who receives it. Sometimes, like Job, we need to have our questioning answered with a lesson – we need to learn that we are not the ones in charge in the universe. The gifts we bring this morning are not a down payment toward future favor, but a token of a debt we will never be able to repay. May we gain wisdom in the giving, and may these gifts be blessed for your glory, not ours. In Christ, we pray.



A Sending Forth/Challenge, inspired by Mark 10:35-45

Thank you for being here this morning, whether in-person or through our live-stream and I hope you found some value in today’s service.

Now hear this benediction:

Lord, we have been so focused on having seats in the kingdom that we almost lost focus on the work of the kingdom.

Father, we have become so pious that we are neglecting those who need you most.

So, as we leave this place, may we not just bask in your Word.

Let us take what we have learned today and apply it the needs of our brothers and sisters. Let us not become so focused on the everlasting but shift to what we can do for you today.

You did not pay the price for our sin for us to keep this gift to ourselves. *We have a charge to keep and a God to glorify.

We have a never-dying soul to save and fit it for the sky. Let’s get to work and build God’s kingdom while we still have breath in our bodies. Go in the name of Christ, in the love of God and in the power of the Spirit.



  • All works cited within the text above.

Copyright Disclaimer: Under §107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. All rights belong to their respective owners.

If you are able, 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 https://tithe.ly/give?c=4118449 and follow the instruction for making your offering. You may be prompted to create an account with them. There is no fee for the account or for making your offering through Tithe.ly. 

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“.