Tag Archives: psalm 100

Happy Thanksgiving: Thoughts, tasks & thanks

Only two more days until Thanksgiving Day and my thoughts are a jumbled up mess.  Why?

Well, I could just start a list and it would get terribly long and complicated, but maybe I can give you a picture of what is flooding my brain.

First, I missed last week’s posting because I was focused on the annual weekend with my college friends. Therefore, last weekend my time was filled with all the planning and packing that it takes for such a weekend.

But, the tasks are part of the weekend and I am so thankful that I have such close friends who fill my life with joy and tears, with support and honesty, and with love.  The unconditional love that God gives each of us to experience, but also to provide for one another.  

Yet, returning from the weekend leads to more tasks—especially the laundry.  I could not believe how high the loads had piled up when everything was unpacked and added to what kept growing while I was gone. 

Laundry, you know, is one task that just does not seem manageable in any other way.  You still have to sort it, wash it, dry it, fold or hang it, and put it away.  And in the meantime, you are still wearing clothes that will soon continue the cycle.

Thank goodness I am equipped to do the task.

The laundry task is just one that faced me upon returning home.  While gone, I stopped at one of my favorite markets to restock my cooking supplies.  When I unloaded them, I realized I was facing another task—cleaning out the cabinet.

Thank goodness I am blessed to have a home with kitchen and cabinets, so I started.  I ended up having to clean out two cabinets in order to reorganize, clean and store all that I had purchased.  

As I do this, I cannot help but think how fortunate I am to be able to do this.  In doing the task, I found time to think about how thankful I am for my own home but also how difficult it must be not having all that I have.  Thanksgiving is easy for me, but what about those who struggle to have even the most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

Obviously one task leads to another and my thoughts just keep leap frogging from one thought to the next.  The chores I had to do after being gone for the long weekend continue, but now a shift from cleaning to planning ahead.  

Thanksgiving is a time filled with traditions—at least in our world.  There is the menu:  turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy accompanied by all the special dishes family members bring in.  The tasks turn to cooking.

Yet the task of preparing a Thanksgiving meal is a time for reflection and prayer.  Each dish seems to come with a face that loves it.  So the time on task turns into prayer time for the face (individual).

The jumbled thoughts that accompany daily life tasks sometimes quiet down, but at other times it leads to screaming.  No one else hears it, but I do.  What screams? 

Naturally some screams are from the actual work that has to be done, but what about the screams from the past.  

I can’t help but think how the Psalms are filled with the trials and tribulations that frustrate even the ancients.  Yet, in the midst of daily tasks, God is with us.  The Psalms are also filled with words of thanksgiving and praise.  I turn to Psalm 100:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

How easy it is for our thoughts to become so jumbled as we do the daily tasks.  The work is necessary, and the thoughts that ramble through our minds in the midst of it can distract us.  But today, as Thanksgiving Day nears, I find the jumbled, leap-frogging thoughts tend to turn to words of thanksgiving—serving the Lord with gladness.

May your holiday thoughts and tasks find a way to lead your thoughts to words of thanksgiving.  God knows we struggle, but we need to take time to talk with him.  As we think of all we have for which we are thankful, we need to make sure we tell him thanks.

And, as we realize how much we have, let us all share words of supplication to God for those without even the basics of food, clothing and shelter.  He is with them, too, and we can do all we can for them including wrapping them in prayers.

Dear Gracious God,

In the midst of the mental fog, the myriad of tasks, and the traditions of a holiday, we thank you.

In the madness of travels and the joys of family reunions, we thank you for our kin.

At the table filled with turkey, dressing, and more, we feel blessed to have food, clothing and shelter for which we say thanks.

Yet we know many who have mental fog of addictions, of hunger, of pain, of loss, and more. 

so we lift them in our prayers.

We are aware that you call us to serve

one another in love today and everyday,

so we ask you to guide us is doing all that we can.

This week we echo the psalmist’s word

knowing that we are God’s children

and your love endures forever

and you are faithful to all generations.

We are blessed and we give thanks to you.

In the name of you the Father,

the son Jesus Christ,

and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

It’s Advent Eve!

Sermon for Sunday, November 26, 2017

How many of you know that today is the last Sunday of the church year? When considering the Sunday calendar, today is like “Advent Eve”. Therefore, what better time is there to write our Christmas card letter.

The custom of sending Christmas cards has really changed over my lifetime and with the addition of personal computers in our homes, one change has been to include a holiday letter to share your life experiences with all those family and friends you are accustomed to exchanging Christmas cards.

My experience with the year-end letter is that it is a list of the high points in a family’s life. No one really mentions too many negative or sad experiences, yet I admit using the letter to let others know of some such changes in our family. Sometimes I feel like I do not have anything worthy of sharing as the year is just filled with the day-to-day activities of work and household chores. Those are the toughest ones to write.

Yet, time is getting away, so let’s get started:

 

Dear Family and Friends,

            Blessings to each of you this holiday season. The years are certainly racing ahead, but we are blessed with good health and a comfortable home.

            Sadly we have to report that we lost two of our family this year: Mary Ellen and Ms. Bonnie. Their passing leaves empty space in our pews, but we know that they have continued their faith journey to meet Jesus Christ himself.

            Joyfully, though, we can share that two have chosen to be baptized as Christians. Two young ladies made this personal decision and it was a joy to share in the sacrament with them. . . .

 

            These Christmas letters are ways to share with others the basic facts of the closing year, but sometimes they become an opportunity to share something that has influenced our lives in profound ways. My brother includes a list of favorite books, movies, and music that he has read, seen or heard through the year.

If we choose to include something like that in our church’s letter, it is difficult, especially if we are not participating in a small group study or even accustomed to the practice of reading scripture. Each week, the common lectionary is included on the bulletin. That is just one way to practice John Wesley’s act of piety of reading scripture.

Reading through the lectionary this week, I found the four readings all related to the same metaphor: the shepherd separating the sheep and the goats. The parable in Matthew is familiar and we have reviewed or referenced it repeatedly, so that makes it difficult to hear God’s message for today, Advent Eve. Of course, put the choice of these verses into the perspective of the Christian year’s conclusion one may discover something in these verses that does fit.

The common lectionary is based on a 3-year cycle. With this week, Year A concludes. But the lectionary for Year B is already available, as is Year C. Commentaries are available, and during the course of the year, a variety of on-line sources are available to help understand the significance of these verses in our lives.

How they are interpreted depends on real-life circumstances and how God uses the words to speak to us depends on a broad range of things—whether it is good sheep behaviors or troublesome goat behaviors.

Let’s consider the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 25:31-36

 

     31 “But when the Son of Manco mes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

     34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

 

Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who were testing him, but Jesus was a well-trained Jew and his answer directly referenced the scripture from the prophet Ezekiel as written in the Old Testament book Ezekiel 34:17:

 

17 “And as for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to his people: I will judge between one animal of the flock and another, separating the sheep from the goats. (emphasis added)

 

As the church year closes, considering the metaphor of God’s judgment as separating the sheep from the goats does help us to evaluate the church’s adherence to Jesus’ teaching. Before we can finish the year-end letter, we need to honestly determine how we have followed Jesus’ commandment to love God above all else and to love one another as we want to be loved.

But, let’s get back to the job of writing the annual Christmas letter:

 

            The church continues to hold weekly worship services and offer Sunday School for the kids and the adults. There has also been a Maundy Thursday service and a Community Christmas Program.

            Two events continue to be provided for the community kids and those are the Easter Fling and the Halloween treats. Through one member’s extra efforts, the local kids have also had movie nights and a summer food program.

            Members worked together to create food packs for delivery at Annual Conference in June, and school kits and hygiene kits for the annual Festival of Sharing in October.

            When school began, the church hosted one of the teacher work-day lunches. And no year is complete without the Chilhowee Community Fair and the church’s concession efforts. . . .

 

The Christmas letter conveniently packages up the year in a way to tell a positive story to all those reading it. But one might wonder what the letter does not say. There is no need to add more, God already knows.

The prophet Ezekiel goes on to tell how God will not abandon his faithful and despite the failures of the leaders at that time, he would send a “perfect shepherd.” This promise from Ezekiel 34:22-24 develops the metaphor of the Good Shepherd taking care of his flock:

 

22 So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another. 23 And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. . . .

The Christmas letter is almost done, but what is left out is probably the very reason that we need to continue reading scripture and meeting in community to work together loving one another.

Wesley repeatedly demanded accountability from his congregations in weekly class meetings. His focus on mission came from his understanding of Jesus’ message. Jesus’ use of the parable becomes a checklist for how we are living out the commandments. We must ask ourselves the very questions included in the parable from Matthew 25:37-39:

 

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 

Before we can finish this year’s Christmas letter, we need to ask ourselves these questions. We need to be accountable just like Wesley expected the early Methodists. We need to hear the King tell us:

 

I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!

 

Today we must reaffirm our efforts to serve one another as God asks us to serve. We need spiritual wisdom and we can find it in the words of Paul’s prayer:

 

. . . I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

 

18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called . . .

 

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.

Believing in God’s incredible power is not easy as we face the daily challenges of our life, but as we close out the church year we need to honestly ask the very question the Pharisees asked:

 

‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

 

God is all-powerful.   God is mighty. God never gives up on us, so we must not give up following him. The resolution we have to add to our Christmas letter should be quite simply:

 

. . . In closing, we return to the most basic commandment that Jesus gave us: Love one another. How we live that commandment needs to look like the work that Wesley did—doing all that we can for all we can in any way we can. This is our new year’s resolution.

            The wish we share for each of you is the blessings that come from being part of the God’s family. We invite you to join us each week during Advent as the new year begins. Join us in learning how God’s love was so strong that he gave his son so that we may be saved.      

                                                Love,

                                                Your brothers and sisters in Christ

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

5th Sunday Worship with the Word and Song: Prayer

This is the script from Sunday’s service.  Focusing on a theme, PRAYER, the service design is to use scriptures and hymns to carry the theme.  Having used the book, 100 Favorite Bible Verse, by Lisa Guest, I have been able to weave the verses into three sermons.  Thanks to her for the effort she has put forth and her comments.  They have certainly spoken to me during this winter month.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

**Opening scripture & thoughts:  Psalm 100a psalm for giving thanks.

Shout to the Lord with joy, everyone on earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come to him with songs of joy.
I want you to realize that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we belong to him.
We are his people.
We are the sheep belonging to his flock.

Give thanks as you enter the gates of his temple.
Give praise as you enter its courtyards.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
The Lord is good. His faithful love continues forever.
It will last for all time to come.

         “God is like a shepherd who, 24/7, protects and provides for His stupid sheep.  It’s not a flattering description, but like sheep, we find our selves drawn to unhealthy waters.  Sometimes we get ourselves turned upside down and can’t get right side up without the Shepherd’s help.  . . .          God has been faithful to generations before us, He shows Himself faithful to us, and He will be faithful to every generation to come.  Clearly, we have no excuse not to obey the Psalm 100 command!  Let us worship the Lord with gladness!”  (p. 215)

 

*UMH Hymn 437:  This Is My Song

 

**Scripture & thoughts:  Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

 

UMH Hymn 496:  Sweet Hour of Prayer

 

The Congregation’s Prayer:  from Guest’s notes

 

Prayer is an amazing privilege, Lord, yet too often I take it for granted.  Forgive me, and fuel in me a desire to establish and maintain an ongoing conversation with You.  I do want to learn to pray always and about everything and to do so with thanksgiving.  Please teach me, so that each day I will see You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly. 

“. . . Pray.  Pray about everything.  Pray all the time.  Pray with thanksgiving.  . . . Knowing that worry is our default mode, Paul urged God’s people to pray for God’s presence with us and for the people He puts in our paths.  . . . Don’t worry, pray about everything, and experience God’s peace.”  (p. 35)

Private Prayer:

  • Remember to pray daily for relief from the drought
  • Remember your own supplications and praises

Lord’s Prayer:  Please join in the prayer Jesus taught us using trespasses.

**Matthew 6:9-13:  “This is how you should pray.

“‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
10 May your kingdom come.
May what you want to happen be done
on earth as it is done in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our sins,
just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted.
Save us from the evil one.’

 

   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.

   And lead us not into temptation,

   But deliver us from evil.

   For thine is the kingdom,

        the power

             and the glory, forever.  –Amen

 

OFFERING:  Guests should not feel the offering is their responsibility.   Members prayerfully give to support the church’s ministry.

 

*DOXOLOGY no.  95: Please stand as you wish and sing.

 

*PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING:                                             the Pastor

Thank you, God, for allowing us to share our offerings with you.   May these offerings work in your behalf as we continue to share your love.   –Amen

 

UMH Hymn 600:  Wonderful Words of Life

 

Scripture & Thoughts:  Psalm 46

 

God is our place of safety. He gives us strength.
He is always there to help us in times of trouble.
The earth may fall apart.
The mountains may fall into the middle of the sea.
But we will not be afraid.
The waters of the sea may roar and foam.
The mountains may shake when the waters rise.
But we will not be afraid. Selah

God’s blessings are like a river. They fill the city of God with joy.
That city is the holy place where the Most High God lives.
Because God is there, the city will not fall.
God will help it at the beginning of the day.
Nations are in disorder. Kingdoms fall.
God speaks, and the people of the earth melt in fear.

The Lord who rules over all is with us.
The God of Jacob is like a fort to us. Selah

Come and see what the Lord has done.
See the places he has destroyed on the earth.
He makes wars stop from one end of the earth to the other.
He breaks every bow. He snaps every spear.
He burns every shield with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be honored among the nations.
I will be honored in the earth.”

11 The Lord who rules over all is with us.
The God of Jacob is like a fort to us.

 

from Guest’s comments:

         God is able to call forth powerful winds, part a sea, ad ravage a nation with plagues.  Yet He calls us to know Him not in the spectacular and loud, not in the dramatic and powerful.  He calls us to be still.  We are to find quiet—internal as well as external—is we are truly to know that He is God.  Faith grows during our quiet communion with Him.”  (p.55)

 

UMH Hymn 395:  Take Time to Be Holy

 

**Scripture & Thoughts:  James 5:13-16

 

13 Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.

14 Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.

16 So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed. The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen.

 

from Guest’s comments:

         “The power of prayer is one of the mysteries of our faith.  We go through dry seasons when God seems distant and prayer seem pointless, so we skip it all together.  We may feel discouraged from praying for a specific person or situation for months, if not years or decades.  We may also enter a season of great pain and loss when we simply can’t pray, and we rely on the faithful and faith-full prayers of our sisters and brothers in Christ.

         “Then come those prayer times when God seems to be in the same room with us as we pray.  . . .

         “In between these two extreme experiences are those regular prayer times, those acts of disciplined obedience that we do out of love for our Lord.  We pray because He calls us to; we pray because we love Him. 

         “. . . pastor David Jeremiah points out, “The surest way not to get an answer to prayer is not to pray!”  (p. 49)

 

UMH Hymn 527:  Do, Lord, Remember Me

 

Closing Prayer: 

 

Thank you for the privilege of prayer, and forgive me when I take for granted the awesome truth that I am able to speak to You, the sovereign King, the Creator of all, the Healer of my soul, anytime and from anywhere.  I am grateful for those seasons of prayer when You answer quickly and obviously, and I am grateful that you understand those dry times I go through.  So, Father God, please keep me disciplined and expectant as I pray.  (p. 49)

 

The Benediction:  Go in peace & be the Church for others.

 

**All the scriptures were from the New International Reader’s Version (NIRV).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion