Worship Sunday May 9 2021
  • As you all should know by now we have been participating in the Vital Congregations initiative of our denomination for the past year and a half, and we will continue to do so for at least the next year. There are 7 marks of a Vital Congregation, and I want to review these here today as we are about to take surveys and I want you to be clear as to what the marks are.

    LIFELONG Discipleship Formation

    This is in contrast to complacent “Christian” piety, simply teaching good morals, or offering the latest programs.
    It’s not about good thoughts and morals, but about creating disciples of Jesus Christ.

    Intentional, Authentic Evangelism

    in contrast to “jesus freaks”; or “Christian” hypocrisy; or evangelism simply be the job of a committee.

    Outward Incarnational Focus

    vs. inward institutional survival; closed communities of assimilation/exclusion.

    Empower Servant Leadership

    vs. the Pastor’s Job; monopolized leadership; hiring the young, energetic pastor to do all the work.

    Spirit-Inspired Worship

    vs. Self-gratifying worship, stale ritual divorced of meaning, or consumer entertainment worship

    Caring Relationships

    vs. any other social club; facades, hypocrisy, and judgment of “church” and “religion”

    Ecclesial Health

    vs. unhealthy dysfunction; toxic environments; obsolete and irrelevant buildings.
  • The Steadfast Love
  • My Jesus I Love Thee
  • You Are My All In All
  • More Love, More Power
  • Our Scripture readings today are for the sixth Sunday of Easter. We continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and all that it opened for us.
    From the book of Acts we read from chapter 10, verses 44-48:
    Acts 10:44–48 ESV
    While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
    From John’s first pastoral letter, chapter 5, verses 1-6, we read:
    1 John 5:1–6 ESV
    Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
    And finally our Gospel reading where we will be focused today, John 15, vs. 9-17:
    John 15:9–17 ESV
    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
    This is the word of our Lord,
    Thanks be to God.
    Let’s pray:


    Father God, we have gathered here today for worship. In this Easter season we recognize the resurrection and the life you have called each one of us to. As we reflect upon your word to us now, Lord teach us. We invite you to not only speak so that we hear, but Lord we ask that you would speak to our hearts that we might be changed. We invite you, God, to continue to mold us into the people you created us to be. We ask this all for your glory, In the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
    I love you - those three little words can sound flippant or they can carry with them a depth that touches us to our core. Perhaps the first person any of us heard the words, “I love you” from our mothers.
    Today we celebrate mothers on what has become a national holiday. Contrary to what some believe, Mother’s day was not a day created by Hallmark or flower companies to sell more of their products. The clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday”. The celebration fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and was originally a time when faithful would return to their mother church, which was the main church in the vicinity of their home, for a special service.
    The origins in the US can be traced to the efforts of Ann Reeves Jarvis prior to our civil war. She organized Mothers’ Day Work Clubs in West Virginia to teach women proper care for their children. After the Civil War, these clubs became a unifying force in that region.
    Another contributor would be Julia Ward Howe who wrote a Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870 calling all mothers to unite to promote world peace. And in the turn of the 20th century, Anna Jarvis (daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis) conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.
    Anna Jarvis did not like how it became commercialized and later turned against how it was celebrated. For her it was to be a simple celebration of wearing a flower and attending church services.
    Love - we’ve commercialized it in many ways too. Hallmark movies make a whole genre of tv movies around it, cards, flowers, candies, all of it - but is that how we first understood love? A mother’s love for her child - it is perhaps one of the strongest bonds.
    We might refer to the animal kingdom, and everyone knows not to get between a mother bear and her cubs. You can almost substitute any animal and say the same thing. Mother’s are by nature protective.
    And we read today in our Gospel reading:
    John 15:13 ESV
    Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
    We read over and over again of love.
    John 15:9 ESV
    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
    John 15:10 ESV
    If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
    John 15:12 ESV
    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
    and verse 17
    John 15:17 ESV
    These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
    Abide in my love. What does it mean to abide?
    Abide means to “remain in a place”, that this is the place where we reside, where we live, where we work. Earlier in this passage Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.”
    Now we read, “Abide in my love” (vv. 9 & 10). And we’re told we do that by keeping Jesus’ commandments. We’re told to do that by loving one another as Jesus has loved us. And how had Jesus loved the disciples he’s speaking to?
    By his actions, by his words. He’d taught them patiently; fed them; healed them; led them; interpreted Scripture for them; prayed for them; and more.
    I think of the love Jesus had for all of the disciples, knowing that they would all desert him in the end, that Judas would betray him, and it didn’t matter. He continued to love his disciples and yet he knew everything about them. He even knew their future (which we can’t).
    Friends, I have read this passage hundreds of times over the years. I’ve led countless Bible studies, and preached on it numerous times as well. As I was studying it this time, one verse stood out to me. Perhaps it is because I was preparing this message for Mother’s Day.
    In verse 11 we read:
    John 15:11 ESV
    These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
    First, I love the term full. It’s not a glass half filled or half empty, it is full. Completely full.
    My niece recently celebrated her sons first birthday. In one of her posts on Facebook she commented on a picture of her and her children, “My heart is full.” I have seen similar sentiments often when speaking of the love that someone has for those around them. The reality is when we have others that we can pour our lives into, when we can love and be loved, our hearts are full.
    “That your joy may be full.”
    The truth is when we are turned inward only upon ourselves it does not lead us to happiness, or joy. Our joy is incomplete. Even if we profess a faith in God and to be followers of Christ. Now this is not a comment on being introverted or extroverted, it’s a statement of fact that when we have others that we pour our love into it fills us up. It brings us joy.
    When we try and live a life of faith alone, isolated away from others, we find it doesn’t work. Way back in Genesis, in the creation narrative, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And God is referring to Adam, but it is a statement of how we were created. We were created for community.
    This is one of the many reasons why this past year has been so difficult for us. We were meant to live in community and we’ve been forced to isolate. It’s not good for us to be alone.
    That is why we gather.
    That is why we encourage.
    That is why we lift one another up and share with one another.
    My prayer for you is that your joy may be full. And I know it will only be full as you abide in Jesus’ love and love one another.
    To God be the glory. AMEN.
      • Acts 10:44–48ESV

      • 1 John 5:1–6ESV

      • John 15:9–17ESV

      • John 15:13ESV

      • John 15:9ESV

      • John 15:10ESV

      • John 15:12ESV

      • John 15:17ESV

      • John 15:11ESV

  • Standing On The Promises (Promises)
  • Agnus Dei

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