• Greeting, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Opening Hymn – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (UMH 211, v. 1,2,6, & 7)
  • Responsive Reading – Psalm 1 (UMH 738)
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Pastoral Prayer – Rev. Val
  • Scripture Readings – James 3:13-4:10 – Rev. Val
  • Message: Work It – Rev. Val
  • Offertory – Rev. Val
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Closing Hymn – Let There Be Peace on Earth (UMH 431)
  • 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, welcome home!

Just a quick reminder that the District Conference will take place this afternoon on Zoom beginning at 3:00 p.m.

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. Also, don’t forget to check out our app.

Save the date!

  • On-going Prayer Vigil
  • October 3, 2021 – World Communion Sunday
  • November 7 – Communion Sunday & All Saints Day
  • November 28, 2021, 3:00 p.m. – Charge Conference at Maryville First UMC
Call to Worship
Inspired by James 3:13-4:8; posted on Literature & Liturgy

Who among you is seeking the wisdom of God?

We long to hear God’s Word spoken to our hearts.

Who among you is seeking God’s bright and holy truth?

We long to learn the ways of wisdom and righteousness.

Who among you is seeking a Spirit-filled life?

We long to live lives of holiness and light.

God grants God’s wisdom generously to all who ask. Come near, people of God! Let us worship in wisdom and truth.

Opening Prayer
Based on Psalm 1 and James 3:13-4:2, Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, The Africana Worship Book for Year B (Discipleship Resources, 2007), 160.

Our Creator and sustainer, we confess that we are not always strong like the trees planted by the water’s edge. Sometimes we are weak and indecisive. When the first big wind comes, we lean and break. We plot revenge instead of letting you fight our battles. By our silence and busyness, we let wickedness and ugliness fester and flourish. Today Lord, forgive us when we covet and lie and when we get caught up in things that displease you. Heal us, direct our paths, and be for us the peace we so desperately crave.




Rev. V. Ohle

God, we want so badly not to just learn of your ways, but to follow them, to live them, to represent them through our own actions for the whole world to see and understand, for the transformation of the world … and yet we stumble, we fall, we fail far more often than we succeed. And still, you love us, you forgive us, and you call us to you.

Thank you, God, for being You, in spite of us. Thank you for not losing faith in us when our own faith is often weak or even lacking. Thank you for the blessings you bestow on us despite our unworthiness. Thank you for always hearing our prayers even when we cry and accuse you of being silent. Thank you for answering our prayers to our benefit even when the answer isn’t what we think it should be.

We come to you now to lay our petitions and our burdens at the foot of your Son’s cross and ask for your intercession, should it be your will.

We pray for those among us and among our neighbors who are ill, who are suffering, who are grieving, who are lost.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for those among us who are frustrated, who are angry, who feel inconsolable, who have been misled, misunderstood, mistreated, who feel abandoned, rejected, excluded.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for our nation and its leaders, that they may be reminded of your consistent instructions to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, to welcome the stranger, to do no harm.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for your church, that it may be reminded its allegiance is to you and your Son, and only to you and your Son.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for your people, for all created in your image, for all persecuted in your name and for your name.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for our neighbors and our enemies alike.

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.


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.


James 3:13-4:10 (MSG)

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish plotting. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart, and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.


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

Quoting from one of my favorite sources this morning, “Author Evelyn Underhill wrote that it was interesting to her how the time that Jesus wanted to offer his followers peace was when they were on the threshold of the most tumultuous time of their lives together. (See Evelyn Underhill, The Fruits of the Spirit, Morehouse, 1981, 62) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) Then Jesus went out and died a most painful death. He was betrayed and denied and abandoned. He was beaten to a bloody pulp and hung on a cross to suffocate and die, to be mocked and spat upon, sneered at, and ignored as one more example of how not to live in peace. “Not as the world gives.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of the definition of peace. But maybe … just maybe … the problem is just that. We’ve been wrongly defining peace … or at least wrongly defining what Jesus meant when he talked about his peace.

I’ve always thought of peace as stillness, quiet, the absence of conflict, worry, trouble, doubt.  If I could just empty myself of those things, I would be at peace, right? But Jesus wants us to define peace as a presence … not as what we’ve emptied from ourselves, but what we’ve filled ourselves with. And, according to James, what we’ve not filled ourselves with is … ourselves.

James says if we’re going to fill ourselves up with something, occupy ourselves with something, we need to make sure it’s the right thing. So, then, how do we get to the point where we’re filled with the right thing?

According to James, wisdom is the key to being filled with the right things. James asks us an important question: “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom?” And then he says, “Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk that counts.”

Again, when I see “live well,” I’m prone to thing materially. People who live well are people who don’t struggle, have all they need, enjoy life’s luxuries, right? But I don’t think that’s what James means when he says “live well.” He tells us as much, remember? “It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.”

And then he goes on to tell us faking it won’t make it. Boasting about how wise we are doesn’t make us wise. Twisting or exaggerating the truth in and effort to sound wiser than we are isn’t wisdom. In fact, it’s the opposite of wisdom. When we do things like that, especially when we’re trying to one up someone else, it ends in chaos and conflict.

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom,” he says, “begins with a holy life.” Getting along with others, being reasonable, gentle, showing mercy, bestowing blessings … these are all characteristics of someone living a holy life. No blowing hot and cold or being two-faced. That attitude won’t work. And James wants us to work it to the glory of God. He goes so far as to tell us that the only way we can have a healthy, vital community is if we strive to get along with each other and treat each other with dignity and honor.

Most of us don’t do that very well, do we? As he points out, our inability to do that very hard work of getting along is a big part of the wars and quarrels we find ourselves in whether with our next door neighbor or some country across the world. We’re so insistent on getting our own way, so focused on making sure our rights are not infringed on, so sure someone is out to take those rights away from us, we find ourselves constantly battling someone, even ourselves. We want what we want, we want what others have that we don’t, we want it right now, and we don’t pay attention to or care who suffers in the process of getting it. Collectively … and sometimes even personally … we’re willing to use violence to get it.

When we do things like that, we’re cheating God. Deep down we know what we’re wanting isn’t ours, so we can’t ask God for it and that causes our focus to shift from God to the world. That’s dangerous because it can turn us into the very opposite of what God wants us to be. We can actually become an enemy of God. James reminds us that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.

Now, remember … James is the one who told us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” James is a Nike kind of guy. He doesn’t want to discuss or plan or organize, decide on doctrines, make rules. He doesn’t want to hang around waiting for something to happen. He’s a doer, a worker, and he just wants to get busy doing the work his brother called him … and us … to do. Just do it. And for James, doing it, working it means letting God work his will in us.

It means telling the world no in a loud way, and then quietly saying yes to God and surrendering ourselves to him. When we do that, when we shake off the gotta haves the world tempts us with … when we realize that the only thing stopping us from treating others with honor and dignity is a baseless fear that elevating someone else somehow diminishes us, that the only thing stopping us from getting along with others is ourselves … all the negative energy, all the frustration, worry, doubt, fear, anger, jealousy … all that flows out and is replaced with a new presence … with God’s presence because when we say that quiet yes to God, God wastes no time in showing up.

Jesus was constantly filled with the presence of God. Everything he did, he did for the glory of his Father. Jesus knew that peace that passes all understanding. It was that peace he gave to us … not as the world gives … no false peace that doesn’t last and doesn’t satisfy. No, he left us with his peace … that presence of God in our lives. We just have to accept it. And that peace? That’s something we can ask God for.

Let’s pray …

God of the gospel, the One who sends, the one who is sent and returns, the One who is sent and remains with the church, we declare our need of the wisdom that comes from above, pure, peace-loving, considerate, open to reason. We can be devious rather than straightforward, hypocritical rather than sincere, unforgiving rather than merciful, cruel rather than kind. Forgive the bitter jealousy that leads to quarreling, the selfish ambition that destroys those who are in the way, the ungoverned passions that lead to disorder and evil of every kind. Temper your justice with mercy for the sake of your obedient Son, Jesus our peacemaker. Amen.



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

Gracious God, grant us the grace to be extravagant in the gifts we give to you. Help us be wise and just in how we live with the resources we keep. Guide us in the way to lives that bear the fruit that is pleasing to you: lives full of mercy and compassion. Free us from envy and selfish ambition that leads us away from you, that we might draw near to you. We pray in the love and hope that is Jesus, our Savior.         



From a worship service written by Bruce Gillette and Carolyn Winfrey Gillette for the Center for Christian Ethics Copyright ©2012

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:

“The wisdom from above is first pure,

then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield,

full of mercy and good fruits,

without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven,

and we are given a new way to live.

Let us accept God’s grace,

and live new lives of faith, obedience, and joy.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.



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