ORDER OF WORSHIP
- Greeting, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – Rev. Val
- Opening Hymn – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (UMH 400)
- Affirmation of Faith – The Nicene Creed
- Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
- Scripture Readings (all readings CEB) – 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43 – Rev. Val
- Message: Ways & Means Part 2 – Rev. Val
- Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
- Offertory – Rev. Val
- Doxology (UMH 95)
- Service of Receiving New Members
- Closing Hymn – Take My Life, and Let It Be (UMH 399)
- Benediction – Rev. Val
WELCOME, CALL TO WORSHIP, & OPENING PRAYER
Welcome! Very quickly, the date for Coming Home Sunday has been set and is September 19. Next Sunday, July 4, is Communion Sunday.
I think that’s plenty for today unless anyone else has an announcement, so if you will turn to the Call to Worship on the insert in your bulletins, we’ll begin.
Call to Worship – Ashley Johnson, Tom Shuman
L: I see you.
I see you, and seeing the tears welling up from your soul births tears in my eyes.
I see you, and I feel your pain.
I see you
fighting to be seen,
to not be erased,
to be given what you deserve;
and now I can continue to fight for the same.
L: With friends and strangers,
with family and neighbors, we gather:
P: Come among us, Healing God,
with that love which never ends.
L: With faith reaching out to touch,
with hearts straining to trust, we hope:
P: Come among us, Friend of the broken,
with your compassion which makes us whole.
L: With word and wonder,
with silence and song, we wait:
P: Come among us, Dryer of our tears,
to lift us to our feet to follow you.
L: Let us pray.
Opening Prayer – Nancy C. Townley
Lord of healing and mercy, remind us again of your power to heal our lives from fears and mistrust. Open our hearts to believe in your restorative power and your great compassion for us. Give us healing and make us agents of peace for you in this, your World. Amen.
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.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 (CEB)
Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspired in you. I’m not giving an order, but by mentioning the commitment of others, I’m trying to prove the authenticity of your love also. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty.
I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford. A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.
Mark 5:21-43 (CEB)
So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
Mark 3:20-35 (CEB)
Jesus crossed the lake again, and on the other side a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders, came forward. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded with him, “My daughter is about to die. Please, come and place your hands on her so that she can be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.
A swarm of people were following Jesus, crowding in on him. A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot under the care of many doctors, and had spent everything she had without getting any better. In fact, she had gotten worse. Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. Her bleeding stopped immediately, and she sensed in her body that her illness had been healed.
At that very moment, Jesus recognized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
His disciples said to him, “Don’t you see the crowd pressing against you? Yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But Jesus looked around carefully to see who had done it.
The woman, full of fear and trembling, came forward. Knowing what had happened to her, she fell down in front of Jesus and told him the whole truth. He responded, “Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace, healed from your disease.”
While Jesus was still speaking with her, messengers came from the synagogue leader’s house, saying to Jairus, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the teacher any longer?”
But Jesus overheard their report and said to the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting.” He didn’t allow anyone to follow him except Peter, James, and John, James’ brother. They came to the synagogue leader’s house, and he saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “What’s all this commotion and crying about? The child isn’t dead. She’s only sleeping.” They laughed at him, but he threw them all out. Then, taking the child’s parents and his disciples with him, he went to the room where the child was. Taking her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Young woman, get up.” Suddenly the young woman got up and began to walk around. She was 12 years old. They were shocked! He gave them strict orders that no one should know what had happened. Then he told them to give her something to eat.
The scriptures of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE – Ways & Means, Part 2 (Fasting, Christian Conferencing, Acts of Service and Compassion)
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.
Just a reminder: The primary Means of Grace are
- Prayer, Scripture, and Worship, which we covered last week,
- Holy Communion, which we’ll be covering next week,
- And Fasting, Christian Conferencing (or talking together about our faith), and Acts of Service and Compassion – the three we’re going to be talking about today.
But first, let’s revisit grace. Rev. Dr. Weber writes, “It is said that C.S. Lewis walked in on an academic discussion about the distinctiveness of Christianity. Those present were about to decide that there was nothing that set Christianity apart from any of the other world religions because they were unable to come up with anything that truly marked our faith and set it apart from the rest. So, they put the question to Lewis. He paused only a moment and said, “That’s easy, it’s grace.”
Grace is what makes us who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. Grace is what motivates us to respond with love and joy and hope. Grace is what equips us for living in this world and what allows us to help create a sense of community as we seek out other recipients of God’s grace. It is what we have to offer the world, nothing of our own, but the gifts that come from grace.”
Christian conferencing is talking with one another about our faith. It’s talking things out with one another when we’re struggling, and when we have doubts and questions. It’s talking together about what we can and need to do when we identify injustices and the needs of others. It’s talking together to address the needs and concerns of our community of faith. It, too, is a means of grace and one we want to be sure to instill in this new faith community we’re building here at Union Grove.
Fasting is another means of grace for today. Jesus said, “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
Steven Manskar wrote, “Fasting is a powerful means of grace and the most neglected. It is powerful because fasting is a physical self-emptying that connects us with Christ (Philippians 2:7) and opens our hearts to his grace. Fasting is neglected for a at least one very good reason: people are naturally reluctant to voluntarily refrain from eating. No one wants to go hungry. Especially when we are bombarded by messages at all times of the day to eat and drink. This is, I think, all the more reason for followers of Jesus Christ to practice fasting; at least during the season of Lent.
By fasting I mean anything from skipping a meal at least once a week to refraining from eating for 24 hours. John Wesley practiced a weekly fast from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday. He refrained from eating food while taking water and tea during the day. On Friday evening he broke the fast with a light meal (broth, bread, and water or tea). During the fast Wesley spent much of the time in prayer and reading Scripture.”
According to Manskar, there are four main reasons for fasting: 1) Jesus did it and taught his disciples to do it. 2) Fasting reminds us of our dependence on God and His grace. 3) Fasting brings us into solidarity with the poor. And finally, 4) Fasting is a time for prayer.
Fasting is not however, something you should do lightly or frivolously or during which you should draw attention to the fact that you’re fasting. Remember what Jesus taught – no one should be able to tell you’re fasting. If you’d like to learn more about this and how to fast safely and in a right fashion, then please contact me and arrange a time to talk about it.
Which brings us to our last means of grace – Acts of service and compassion.
Paul talks about works of grace in the passage from 2nd Corinthians. “Be the best in this work of grace …”. In the passage he is taking up a collection for the church in Jerusalem. In the context of his time, churches outside the city were growing, but the church in the city, in this case Jerusalem, was in need of help. He’s been going from church to church asking for mission giving, and the churches have been responding, some of which gave despite having their own struggles, and he tells them he’s proud of them for doing so.
By this passage, he has come back around to Corinth, a church he’s been struggling with … a church that has problems and dissension. But still, he invites them to give, to participate: “Now as you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you – so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.”
That might sound like he was buttering them up, preparing to hit them with the “big ask,” but, and this is important, the words translated to “generous undertaking” are “charis perusseo,” which probably translate better, or more directly, as “abounding grace.” In other words, Paul’s invitation to Corinth wasn’t to give, but to participate in grace … very plentiful, very abundant grace. He goes on to explain that this is what Jesus did for us by emptying himself, giving up and giving away his human life that we might know glory, that we might know hope and salvation, that we might be able to give grace away because we have received it from God through Christ.
He knows the Corinthians want to know the grace of Jesus, and he’s doing his best to explain to them a way they can know it. He tells them, “I know that grace; and not only can you know it; you can live it. Not only can you receive it as a gift, you can activate it by giving it away, by participating in the ripples of grace that go from person to person, community to community and bring transformation and an experience of the kingdom.”
What Paul was trying to teach the church of Corinth was a means of grace … that through acts of service and compassion extending grace to others, they would experience cheris perusseo, abounding grace. Now he came to them with an opportunity to provide an act of service and compassion by giving to the collection he was taking for Jerusalem, but acts of service and compassion aren’t always money based. They could be your time, a kind word, sharing a skill. The goal is to find ways that you can serve others and show compassion for those who are struggling, hurting, oppressed.
Paul concludes his invitation by reminding us that love needs proof from time to time; love needs action to really be love – at least the love that Christ calls us to, the love that God expresses. And the most famous verse of all reminds us: John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Acts of service and compassion, especially done humbly, quietly, even anonymously, are one of the best ways to demonstrate the love of Christ in us.
The passage from Mark, on the other hand, is not about individuals or even the disciples carrying out acts of grace, but about Jesus extending grace to others. In this passage, it is Jesus who is the example of grace or the example of giving what he has. Jesus seizes the moment, responds to the need, and is fully present with those who come to him, even though there is an interruption in the midst of it all. Even to the ones who interrupted him.
The story goes like this: 12 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Jairus were in the maternity ward celebrating the birth of their baby girl. Same day and year, in the ER a woman began hemorrhaging and it never stopped. And here we are in Mark 5, the child has lived 12 short years and the woman has been dying for 12 long years.
And now the child is also dying and dying fast. And there is nothing like a dying child to bring a parent to their knees. So Jairus is on his knees in public. Begging Jesus to come to his house to heal his daughter. His pleas are urgent. Time is of essence.
And in the urgency of the moment, the dying woman sees a chance to live and goes for it. And since she does not have a powerful daddy to beg on her behalf, she talks herself into a plan. She plans to covertly sneak up on Jesus and to steal some healing for herself. Not a lot. Just a hem full. She is a spiritual shoplifter who hopes she will not get caught.
But caught she is. Caught by Jesus. Caught not to be punished but caught to receive the abundance of healing and grace she needs and does not even know it. Best thing that happened to her is getting caught by Jesus!
And Mr. and Mrs. Jairus? Jairus interrupts Jesus and begs him to not just heal his little girl, but to save her. This leader of the synagogue, this person of status, this person others go to for answers, a person with resources, position, and power … this man who is used to solving his own problems and those of others gets down on his knees and begs … begs Jesus to heal and save his little girl. And Jesus does through an act of service born out of compassion and love.
Grace, grace, God’s grace … a gift we cannot earn, but a gift once received we can share and share abundantly. Lord, give us the courage to extend your grace to all we encounter.
Friends in Christ, God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs. Loving our neighbors as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world. Let’s pray:
Healing Lord, there are so many situations we have encountered which require healing and restoration. We try to do the best we can, but we cannot rely on our own strength and skills to bring about the complete healing that is so desperately needed. Help us to place our trust in you. Help us to work effectively to promote situations of healing and hope. We have come before you with so many concerns on our hearts. There seems to be no end to the desperate needs of your people, O Lord. Yet you love and hear all of us as we pray. You surround us with your love and healing mercies. You lift us gently and give us courage to work for you in ministries of peace and love. We praise and thank you for all of this.
God, there are so many hurts in the world right now and so very many hurting. We pray for the families of the victims and missing. We pray for the missing that they may be found safe. We pray for those who are risking their lives to search for them. We pray for those who waited for justice to be served only to find that the portion served was less than hoped for. We pray for those who feel alone, friendless, abandoned, searching, who long for the void in their lives to be filled with love and family.
We pray for the indigenous people and families of the hundreds of children whose remains were found in unmarked graves at the boarding schools. We pray for the people and families of those children whose remains are yet to be found. We beg their forgiveness and yours for the actions done in your name by people claiming to do your work that took those lives.
We pray for those who long to be in relationship with you but have felt rejected and been hurt by the church. God forgive us for the harm we may have done or caused. Thank you for leading us to see a better way. Guide us to find the means to make it known that this is a church where all can come home.
We pray, too, for your creation, God. It is hurting and we are responsible for its pain and its wounds. Forgive us and help us become the stewards you intended us to be.
You have continually shown us, O lord, what is good, and you ask so very little of us in return. To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you. But we are weak and easily distracted. Lead us, God. Fill us with your Spirit. Help us die to ourselves and be born in Christ, your Son.
Trusting that you always hear us we join now in praying these things in the name of your Son and pray the words he taught us:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Friends, hear the Good News: Feel the touch of Christ on your heart! You are healed and forgiven! Rejoice! God is with you now and always!
A quick reminder that your offerings should be placed in the round container on the table in the Narthex on your way into worship or as you leave, and your Manna Campaign forms should be placed in the bucket labeled “Forms”.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your grace and we make our offering now as a sign of that grace flowing through us. In our giving and in our receiving renew us with your love. Through Jesus our Lord.
SERVICE OF RECEIVING NEW MEMBERS
A transcript of this service is not provided here.
Thank you for being with us today. I pray you’ll join us again next Sunday at 11:00 am.
Now hear this benediction:
Beloved of God, healed and forgiven, blessed and strengthened: go forth to be a blessing to others, proclaiming the love and mercy of God in all that you do and say! Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, get your COVID vaccination as soon as you’re eligible. Practice the means of grace.
God be with you. Go in grace as Christ’s family for all the world to see. Amen.
You are dismissed!
- Call to Worship – Ashley Johnson, Tom Shuman
- Opening Prayer – Nancy C. Townley
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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:
Smoky Mountain District
PO Box 905
Alcoa TN 37701-0905
Please be sure to make your checks payable to Smoky Mountain District and write “Union Grove UMC Friendsville” on the memo line!