• Call to Worship – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Hymn: To God Be the Glory (UMH 98)
  • Opening Prayer – Congregation
  • Psalter: Psalm 107:1-9, 33-43 (830)
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Peace Prayer – UMH 449 – Rev. Val & Congregation
  • Peace Hymn: Go Down Moses (UMH 448)
  • Scripture Readings – Rev. Val
  • Message: Winds of Change – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: Let It Breathe on Me (UMH 503)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Hymn: Eat This Bread (UMH 628)
  • Service of Holy Communion
  • Offertory Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95/Song Sheet)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val

In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scripture readings and the message. The majority of the other content (minus the message) is available through our weekly digital/email bulletin (you can sign up on our Contact Us page).  Union Grove UMC began celebrating Holy Communion weekly as part of our regular worship service on July 17, 2022. You are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.



God, open us to hear and receive your scriptures today as you would have us hear them, understand them as you would have us understand them, and to act upon them as you would have us act upon them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Hosea 11:1-11 (NRSV) – When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.

They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword rages in their cities, it consumes their oracle-priests, and devours because of their schemes. My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all.

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. They shall go after the LORD, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west. They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 (MSG) – Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]

There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.

Call me “the Quester.” I’ve been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

And I hated everything I’d accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can’t take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. Whether they’re worthy or worthless—and who’s to tell?—they’ll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. Smoke.

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.

Luke 12:13-21 (NRSV) – Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 

But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 

And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’

Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – Winds of Change

Rev. Val

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer, and may you see fit to use me as a vessel from which you pour out your Divine Word.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The “voice” we hear in today’s passage from Hosea is that of a parent frustrated by their children. We’ve all been there, right? Children start out totally dependent on adults for everything. We nurture them, teach them, guide them, support and encourage them, give them boundaries. As they grow, they start to test those boundaries, they become increasingly independent.  By the time they reach their teens, they’re generally fiercely independent, they’re most likely starting to rebel, and whatever it was we expected of them, expected them to be or do, whatever life it is we envisioned for them is now firmly in their grasp and there’s virtually nothing we can say or do that will pull them back on course. We take a deep breath and release a great sigh.

In the Hosea passage, Israel has been rebelling against God, and it seems like God has been pushed to the brink of completely losing patience. Imagine what God’s thinking right about now. God gave Moses the words – the laws for the children of Israel to follow, but they ignored them. Then God spoke to them through the prophets, warning them there would be consequences. They plugged their ears. What parent hasn’t been right where God is when it comes to Israel’s blatant disobedience? What teacher hasn’t become frustrated, ready to throw their hands in the air and threatened to flunk the whole class when met with opposition? Can you hear God sigh? I can, because as a parent I would.

Our texts from Ecclesiastes is another example of frustration. Ecclesiastes is presented as the biography of “Kohelet”. In the passage we have today, Kohelet is venting his frustration after coming to the conclusion that all things in life are ephemeral and vaporous – nothing but smoke – and because they’re nothing but smoke, much of human activity is futile and pointless. “There is nothing new under the sun”, and people are destined to disappear unremembered. His quest for meaning and understanding have led him to conclude that God has given human beings unhappy “business” with which to be busy, and that this “unhappy business” is pointless since our strained efforts are unable to effect a change in the way the world goes and lead to a joyless, dismal life. He says, “And I hated everything I’d accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can’t take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. Whether they’re worthy or worthless—and who’s to tell?—they’ll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work.”

Kohelet’s story is framed by the voice of the narrator, who refers to Kohelet in the third person, praises his wisdom, but reminds the reader that wisdom has its limitations and is not man’s main concern. Kohelet reports what he planned, did, experienced and thought, but his journey to knowledge is, in the end, incomplete.

We’ve all experienced similar frustrations, haven’t we? The feeling that the Universe is out to get us? That no matter what we do or how hard we try, it’s all for naught and the “legacy” we hope to leave is in the hands of who knows. Worse, we have no way of knowing what will become of that legacy. Kohelet sighs, “it’s all just so much smoke.”

Jesus tells us a story in the text from Luke about a man, a wealthy man who’s land produced a great bounty so great, his barns and other buildings wouldn’t hold it all. So what does he do? He thinks to himself, “I’ll just tear down the too small building and build a great big, huge barn, big enough to store all my crops. Then I’ll be able to kick back and relax for years, living off all I’ll have in my barn.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ … Finding out he was going to die that night, his sigh was probably one of fear.

Jesus tells those hearing the story, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” The text doesn’t indicate it, but since Jesus was telling that parable in response to someone’s request that Jesus compel their brother to divide the family inheritance with them, any sigh Jesus might have uttered would have been translated as “buy them books and buy them books and what do they do? Fight over possession of the books instead of reading them.” I know that would have been my sigh.

A sigh consists of breath … of air. Sighs can be sad, longing, frustrated … one can even sigh in relief. The earth sighs and we call it wind. We know her moods by the way the wind blows. Sometimes a gentle breeze, sometimes hot or cold, sometimes harsh, sometimes even raging.

Genesis 1:1-2 says that when God began to create the heavens and the earth—the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the water …

Genesis 2:7 says the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life.

Acts 2:1-2 says When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting.

A sigh is a form of breath. Wind is the way the earth breathes, and wind is how the Spirit came to be ever present for us. There are other kinds of breath, of wind, though, too.

Whispers are a kind of vocal breath … more air than voice. Gossip, efforts to misdirect, to plant seeds of doubt … often begin as whispers. When enough people are whispering together, the whispers become as loud as a howling wind. What if we each began whispering love and kindness? What if we got others to do the same thing? What if all our collective whispers of love and kindness grew into a wind louder than the dark wind made of unkind and malicious whispers?

Have you ever had the breath knocked out of you? Have you ever started coughing so hard, you can’t seem to get your breath? Maybe you were … or are … athletic … or out of shape … and after a great deal of physical exertion, you struggle to catch your breath … you lose your wind.

The same thing can happen with our faith. We can lose our spiritual wind, our connection with the Spirit to all the many other winds blowing, sometimes fiercely … so strong that we can barely keep from blowing over, so strong we feel like we’ll be carried away like a dried up leaf.  The winds of the pandemic and all it has and continues to put us through. The winds of our polarized politics. The winds of war. The winds of public opinion. Today? The winds of promoted opinion disguised as news and who among us can tell what legitimate news or news media is or what purposefully biased and manufactured news or news media is … Then there are the winds of injustice, of bias, of bigotry, of patriarchy, of greed, of avarice, of gluttony, of racial supremacy, of … there are so many winds that grab and push and swirl around us, it’s like being caught in a perpetual tornado.

Kohelet, the fellow from Ecclesiastes eventually figures out that it wasn’t all the wisdom he’d gained that mattered … it was the journey he took as he gained it. We see in the passage from Hosea that God sighed, but kept the commitment to love, that the faithfulness of God’s love perseveres, even in the hard times … even when we find ourselves caught in the current of bad winds.

But we can do something to avoid being caught up by the bad winds. We can anchor ourselves to Christ, open ourselves to the Spirit, because it’s through Christ, all he did for us, that we are then able to whisper love and kindness. We can share the Good News of all he’s done for us and before you know it, we’ll have others to whisper about love and kindness with us until the whisper roars loudly of the din of those other winds. We can even do that without ever saying a word by simply living in such a way that all around us see Christ within us.

If we stay centered, if we stay focused on Christ, on Christ’s teachings, on his life, on everything he did and went through and suffered for us, if we open ourselves to the wind of God’s grace and reach out to others to sail that wind with us … We can stand strong no matter how ill the winds around us are.  

If we stay centered, stand together, and all whisper the Good News, we can and will be the Winds of Change.


  • Portions of the message were quoted from “Ladder to the Light: An Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage” by Steven Charleston, Broadleaf Books 2021, ISBN 978-1-5064-6573-9
  • Scriptures quoted in the message come from “The Message” by Eugene Peterson or from the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition via Bible Gateway

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