ORDER OF WORSHIP
- Greeting, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – Rev. Val
- Opening Hymn – I’m Goin’-a Sing (UMH 333)
- Affirmation of Faith – A Statement of Faith of the Korean Methodist Church
- Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
- Scripture Readings (all readings CEB) – 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35 – Rev. Val
- Message: Grace – Rev. Val
- Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
- Offertory – Rev. Val
- Doxology (UMH 95)
- Service of Holy Communion
- Closing Hymn – Amazing Grace (UMH 578)
- Benediction – Rev. Val
WELCOME, CALL TO WORSHIP, & OPENING PRAYER
Welcome! It’s good to see you this morning. I’ve been thinking about today all week and I’m anxious to get started because today we’re going to go over the things we’ll be working on during our Pilgrimage and dig deep into Grace. Thank God, for God’s grace, amen?
Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost, and, here at Union Grove, Communion Sunday. What more perfect way to finish a message on the topic of the grace through which we are saved than to remember our Savior through the sacrament of communion!
We will get to all that in a bit, but first a few announcements:
- A reminder that Thomas Talks meets tonight at 7:00 p.m. on Zoom. Bring your questions, your doubts, your friends that have questions and doubts, and let’s talk; Java with Abba is back tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. n Zoom. Java with Abba is a place where we simply ask, “How is it with your soul?” … no set agenda, just whatever kind of talk we each need … and usually more than a few laughs and giggles; This Wednesday’s Pray and Study will be on Season 1 Episode 2 of The Chosen. The links are in your worship bulletin. Wednesday Pray and Study has its own page on our website now where you can catch up on any lessons you’ve missed. Again, bring your friends and be sure you watch Episode 2 before signing in for the Bible study.
- Please check the “Save the Date” section of your bulletin. Next Sunday, June 13, is the Hymn Sing Sunday we talked about so let Michael know what your favorite hymns are before you leave today so we can make a joyful noise next week. By the way, the more songs we sing, the less chance you’ll have to sit through a sermon! Also, we will be receiving new members on June 27.
- There is something I would like us to pray on over the next week … okay, two things. First, because it’s summertime and our numbers are still low, I was thinking that one Sunday each month, we could have a picnic on the grounds out front after church, weather permitting of course. I don’t want to decide today. I seriously want you all to pray on this, but I think it would be a fun way to extend worship and get to know each other better. The second will also involve prayer … please pray for the courage to invite other people to church because folks … let’s be honest here … we need enough people to have a choir so y’all can be spared from me leading the singing! I’m serious. Pray that we can go forth and make disciples!
- Last, but I think probably the best news. We have a new pledge in the Manna Campaign and are over one third of the way to our goal. Just to clarify, you should pledge what you know you will most likely be able to give as an offering each week. For example, if you know you could contribute $10 per week, pledge $520 per year. Don’t over-estimate your pledge. Be realistic. God knows you have bills to pay.
I think that’s everything, so if you will turn to the call to worship on the insert in your bulletins, we’ll begin.
Call to Worship – Safiyah Fosua
L: Who is my mother, and who are my brothers and sisters? Look around you and you will see them. They are not always the people you grew up with. They are the people who have joined the journey to learn more about God and the ways of God’s people.
P: They are the people who abandon houses and land, fame, and fortune — for the sake of the gospel.
L: They are the people who pray through the night for the safety of someone else’s child or for the healing of someone else’s loved one.
P: They are the ones who offer a cold cup of water to people considered outcast. They do so in the name of Christ.
L: Who are my brothers; who are my sisters; where is my family?
P: Jesus said that: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Leader: Welcome to worship, family!
All: We gather to worship the God who has made us kin!
Opening Prayer – Ashley Johnson
All-knowing God, You embrace all that we are and all that we will be.
Help us to truly see one another, so that we can see your light in one another as well as our diverse needs.
Help us to listen deeply to one another, so that we can eagerly respond to your call to advocate for justice, inclusion, and peace.
Today, in this hour, at this moment, we are in a regular rhythm of letting You work in us. Here we rest from daily work. This is the moment our souls have been waiting for, even if some of us didn’t know we needed it.
As we sit and hear Your word—whether preached, sung, prayed, or otherwise—let’s remember to ask ourselves, “Am I listening?” You are informing and guiding our time together through the Spirit. This is not just a party, a celebration, a special service, or a concert. This is Sabbath. This is Your time. Brothers and sisters, let us lift praise, give thanks, glorify God’s name, and pause from every unessential mission so that we experience and spread the news. God is good, Jesus is the Way, and the Holy Spirit is ready to renew all who believe in the Resurrection and healing power of Jesus Christ.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
A Statement of Faith of the Korean Methodist Church
We believe in one God,
Creator and sustainer of all things,
Father of all nations,
The source of all goodness and beauty,
All truth and love.
We believe in Jesus Christ,
God manifest in the flesh,
Our teacher, example, and Redeemer,
The Savior of the world.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
God present with us for guidance,
And for strength.
We believe in the forgiveness of sins,
In the life of love and prayer,
And in grace equal to every need.
We believe in the word of God
contained in the Old and New Testaments
as sufficient rule both of faith and of practice.
We believe in the church,
those who are united in the living Lord
for the purpose of worship and service.
We believe in the reign of God as the divine will
realized in human society,
and in the family of God,
where we are all brothers and sisters.
We believe in the final triumph of righteousness and in the life everlasting.
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 4:13-5:1 (CEB)
We have the same faithful spirit as what is written in scripture: I had faith, and so I spoke. (Psalm 116:10) We also have faith, and so we also speak. We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.
So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.
We know that if the tent that we live in on earth is torn down, we have a building from God. It’s a house that isn’t handmade, which is eternal and located in heaven.
Romans 8:12-17 (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)
… and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”
And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.
A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.”
And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
The scriptures of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE – Grace
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 CEB)
In order to gain as much understanding as possible out of a message about one of our passages, we need to first understand why we’re supposed to “get it.” That’s why I chose the theme of Pilgrimage for this season after Pentecost. As I said a week or two ago, we are taking a pilgrimage of faith formation, spiritual formation, discipleship, and what it is to be a United Methodist which, by the end of our journey should result in our transformation. We’ve spent eleven months learning all we could about what Jesus taught us when he was here as the Human One. Now we need to learn how to put all that to work in our own lives by beginning … or for some of you, starting over … with the basics of faith formation. Understanding grace is one of those basics and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I want us to understand how we got here today.
“Therefore, go and make disciples” is quite possibly one of the most famous of all Jesus’s words – a commandment Jesus gave his disciples and therefore to what would become the church. Disciple making is at the heart of who the church is. “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” is also the mission of the United Methodist Church.
Now you may be thinking that “Therefore, go and make disciples” refers to going on lengthy mission trips to save souls in some far away place. Afterall, “go” means “away from here,” right? But … if we were to look at a more literal translation of the original language of this passage, the word written in most English translations as “go” would be more accurately translated if it said “as you are going.” As you are going about the life you already have, make disciples. In other words, we don’t have to go somewhere else or be anyone other than who we are.
Why does this matter this morning? Because someone went forth at some point in each of our lives and made a disciple out of you … and me. I know that’s true because and especially in today’s society, if they hadn’t we wouldn’t be here. We’d be home or shopping or anywhere but here. Now I’m not saying you have to sit in a building like this to worship, but here’s the thing. Discipleship is not an individual activity. By virtue of our baptism, we are called into a community of believers and trust me … from the moment we’re baptized by water, God begins calling each of us … invites us to Him and when we finally allow ourselves to hear His call, we find our way to a community like the one we’re building here at Union Grove. Now, as His disciples, we have personal responsibilities and an invitation into the wider world that God loves.
So, welcome brother and sister disciples, to Union Grove, a house of God with a place for all! And we say all at Union Grove, we do mean all, amen?
Remember that I said this pilgrimage will be about faith formation and spiritual formation. Everything is formational. Especially us. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” That was only the beginning of God’s forming us. God continues to mold us, shape us, fashion us as individuals … and as a beloved community … and as the universal church … to be what God would have us to be.
Think of it like a fancy cake. Before it was that sugary confection that’s as much a joy to look at as it is to taste, it was raw ingredients. The baker took those raw ingredients, carefully mixed them together, molded the dough into the appropriate shapes, and cooked it. Then that baker arranged the shape and decorated the cake with colorful icing.
God takes the raw ingredients of our lives and, by his grace, transforms us into growing, maturing disciples and communities that reflect God’s glory. And, while He is constantly forming, de-forming, reforming, and transforming us wherever we are, being together in a beloved community, in the ministries of a beloved community, and worshipping with a beloved community helps keep our attention focused on God. Our attention determines the inputs or messages we receive, which form our thoughts, character, habits, desires, and soul.
Again, everything is formational so, too, everything the church does is or should be formational. Worship grounds us in a new way of being – the way Christ taught us to be. Opportunities through the church can help us grow in our faith, equipping us to recognize God’s grace more clearly and to live more intentionally. Recognizing God’s grace and living more intentionally, we are then participating in God’s ongoing mission of reconciling the world.
Faith formation, then, has a purpose, a goal: to instruct and equip Christians in becoming mature disciples of Jesus Christ. This isn’t a one and done course, folks. This is a lifelong but worthwhile endeavor, because faith formation guides us both as individuals and as a community to receive our identity as God’s beloved, know our purpose of loving God and loving neighbor, and experience belonging within the community of faith and to one another as brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Our first lesson in faith formation, then is to learn about grace.
“You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
In church, we hear, sing, and read about grace. Very simply, grace means God’s loving concern for every person. We can’t earn God’s love; God simply loves us. Grace is the blessing of that love. It surrounds us, supports us, and enables us to glorify God.
Through grace, our stories are grounded in God’s story. God’s story, as found in scripture, begins in God’s gracious act of creation. And yet, just as creation has been marred and disordered by sin, sin keeps us from living abundantly and has disordered our thinking, habits, and desires. It’s by the grace of God through Christ that we are redeemed and empowered to live as God desired – in proper relationship with God and others, to lead a new life. By God’s grace, we are freed to serve and love God and our neighbors.
There’s a twofold dimension to grace. The first is that grace is a gift of God as I read in the passage from Ephesians. Second, it is the power of God working to draw us closer to God, guiding us toward holiness, and growing our capacity to love others. The work of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit is a continual work of transformation in many ways: maturity, reordering our desires toward love, holiness, or sanctification.
John Wesley understood grace as God’s active presence in our lives. This presence is not dependent on human actions or human response. It is a gift – a gift that is always available, but that can also be refused. When we accept it, it stirs up within us a desire to know God and empowers us to respond to God’s invitation to be in relationship with God. God’s grace enables us to discern the differences between good and evil and makes it possible for us to choose good. Wesley called this prevenient grace. It covers us from birth.
We don’t have to beg or plead for God’s love and grace. God actively seeks us! God desires that we live in freedom and in holiness. God’s grace takes the initiative in relating to humanity and in the redemption of the world (John 1:4-5, 9-14, 16).
The next stage of grace according to Wesley is called justifying grace. In 2 Corinthians 5:19, Paul wrote “God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them.” In Romans 5:8, he wrote “But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Justifying grace leads us to reconciliation, pardon, and restoration. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored. Wesley says the image of God which in us has been distorted or deformed by sin is renewed within us through Christ’s death. Justifying grace begins the process of new birth, of being born anew. In that new birth, we begin to live by trust, grace, and a freedom to serve others and God in love. Just as with prevenient grace, that grace that covered us from our birth, the justifying grace of our new birth is a gift that requires nothing more than for us to respond in faith.
We hear a lot about salvation, don’t we? The thing about salvation is that it’s not a static, one-time event in our lives. It’s an ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom God intends us to be. Wesley called this final stage sanctifying grace.
Through God’s sanctifying grace, we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived and are called to do even more (John 14:22). Our knowledge of and love for God deepens as we pray, study the Scriptures, fast, worship, and share fellowship with other Christians. Responding with compassion to human need and working for justice in our communities, we strengthen our capacity to love our neighbors. Both our inner thoughts and motives as well as our outer actions and behavior align with God’s will and testify to our union with God.
So there we have grace – prevenient grace from the day we’re born, justifying grace as we learn and practice our faith, and sanctifying grace as our knowledge grows deeper. And all grace a gift from God that we can’t earn.
To say that one can only receive God’s grace by attending a church somewhere would be wrong. But we stand a better chance of growing through the stages of grace if we are in some kind of fellowship with other believer. Through fellowship, we have supporters, encouragers, and companions helping each other grow.
Grace can be encountered in a variety of places. The primary place is through the church and its connected ministry settings because … remember … everything is formational including the church. But it’s the church where we encounter God’s transforming work of grace by participating in the sacraments, means of grace which we’ll get to next week, serving in mission together, and being in fellowship with each other … all those things that are also vital to formation as a disciple.
Grace. It is the mercy of God. The forgiveness of our sins no matter how horrific, how unforgiveable we think our sins are. Grace, grace, amazing grace. Thank God for the grace he gives us now and forever more. Amen.
Please join me in the pastoral prayer.
Please join me as we lay our prayers and petitions at God’s feet and ask for His help. When you hear me say, Lord, in your mercy …, please respond with “hear our prayer.”
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.
(prayers for individuals, families, the church and nation)
Lord, in your mercy … hear our prayers.
Hear our prayers, God of power,
and through the ministry of your Son
free us from the grip of the tomb,
that we may desire you as the fullness of life
and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.
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 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, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Friends, hear the Good News:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
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”.
Holy and forgiving God, it is easy for our lives to become singularly focused on our families, yet you call us to a broader understanding of family. We prioritize our money around the needs of our families and especially our children, and you challenge us to a global view of family and to look at all children with the love we look on those who live under our roof. As we give to you, open our eyes to see the wider family; our ears to hear the cries of hurting, hungry children; our hearts to experience the extravagantly generous love you pour down on us. We pray in the name of your son, our brother, Jesus.
SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION
Because communion is a sacrament of the church and can only be conducted by clergy, we do not provide a transcript of the service. Knox that the Lord’s table at Union Grove is open to all who choose to come and receive.
Thank you for being with us today. I pray you’ll join us again next Sunday at 11:00 am.
Now hear this benediction:
Sisters and brothers of Christ, go into all the world!
Go forth with forgiveness and grace.
Go forth with compassion and love.
Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, get your COVID vaccination as soon as you’re eligible. God be with you. Go in grace as Christ’s family for all the world to see. Amen.
- Call to Worship – Michael Saward, The Jubilate Group
- Opening Prayer – Rev. Curry F. Butler, Jr.
- Portions of Message – Rev. Dr. Derek C. Weber, Discipleship Ministries, & Mary Kay Totty, The Upper Room Disciplines
- Portions of Pastoral Prayer adapted from prayers by – Amy Loving, The Worship Closet; Rev. Dr. Mary Catherine Miller
- Pardon – Thirdmill.org
- Benediction – Discipleship Ministries
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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!