08/02/2020 = Matthew 14:13-21 = “Fish Your Wish” and “Count Your Dough”

(Click HERE to listen/watch this service – begins at the 12-minute mark, sermon begins at 20-minute mark)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 14:13-21                                                                                                    

08/02/2020

Fish Your Wish and Count Your Dough!”                                                           

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Welcome to Church, people!!  This is our SECOND month of actual physical gathering since the middle of March! I have loved being in the same room with people while we sing and pray!! There’s only about 25 of us in the room together – there’s more in the Adult Sunday School Room – and so we’re still on-line on Zoom and Facebook Live for  those who could not be here today – for all kinds of reasons.

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are assembled in NorthEast Spokane, WA, along with people from all over the world. We are very glad you are “here” with us.

For those who made it into the building this morning – thank you for wearing your masks and following the seating and walking protocols. And just a quick word about our gathering – the COVID numbers are not decreasing and Governor Inslee is suggesting that we might be moving back to Phase 1 in WA. What that means is that it is a possibility that we might not be meeting together sometime this month. Our Elders are listening to CDC guidelines and deciding on what seems best practices for each others’ safety. We love you, and we want everyone to be and to stay well.

Restrooms are open, but we are hoping you can “hold it” until you get back home, so there will be as few people as possible using the facilities. And, while we’re just sitting here, you can probably take your masks off – keep your “distance”. When we sing or do any responsive readings, please pull your masks back up.

Be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen now and join in as Pastor Kathy leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 17 listen to the praise and hope in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust as your own.

Our song of praise today invites us into God’s presence and to proclaim His wonder to the world around us – Shout to the North and the South  

Through the Written Word, 

And endorsed by our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those of you who have ever been married, you’ll understand this. You know how when two people from different families and different lifestyles try to combine and find the common ground – it’s hard, right? – they also discover surprising disputes that pop up completely unexpectedly.

For Jennifer and me, one of those surprising differences was in how we play games. Jennifer’s family is a very adept card-playing family – and by “adept” I mean competitive! Even in simple children’s cards games – like Go Fish. “Do you have any 4s” – “Go fish!” “Ha! I fished my wish!” That was a totally new phrase and level of card-playing caring to me!

My family played games like Monopoly! But, as you know, and the reason “nobody” really likes this game, it takes for.ever! And so, before the game is actually ever finishedbed-time, or summer-ends, or off-to-college – and so someone says, “That’s it. Count your dough!” And whoever has the most money wins.

Fish Your Wish” and “Count Your Dough” became catch-phrases for two very different families’ game-playing-mentalities.

They are also the catch-phrases of today’s Bible story from Matthew 14 – a Bible story almost everybody is familiar with because it is one of the few that are included in all four Gospels!

Matthew 13 tells of huge crowds coming to Jesus and listening to Him teach using parables. Then in Matthew 14 John the Baptist is killed – beheaded by Herod – and we come to today’s story – Jesus is both physically exhausted and emotionally drained – that’s the set-up for what comes next.

Listen to story of grace and truth from Matthew 14:13-21 – Listen for how they “fish their wish” and what it means to “count their dough” …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

14 13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Matthew 14:3-12 is a flashback, telling the story of Herod’s birthday party—and Herodias’ scheming—and the daughter’s dance—and Herod’s promise—and John’s head on a platter. That is followed by our text, the story of the feeding of the five thousand.

What a contrast between Herod’s gruesome dinner party and the meal that Jesus provides for the 5,000! Herod’s party is characterized by opulence—Jesus’ meal by bread, the most basic of foods. Herod’s party is characterized by hatred—Jesus’ meal by compassion. The host at Herod’s party is a petty tyrant whose only concern is his own power and well-being. The host at Jesus’ meal is a compassionate Savior whose concern is the well-being of those who have come to see Him. Herod’s party ends in death—Jesus’ meal offers life. The contrast could not be more deliberate or complete.

This is a three-act story: CompassionAbundance/ProvidenceEucharist-like fore-shadowing.

Let’s look at the Compassion Act first. Matthew doesn’t tell us where Jesus goes to be alone – or really even why.

It could be fear, or at least caution. Herod might well conclude that it is necessary to kill Jesus after having killed John. The word “withdraw” (Greek: anechoresen) occurs five times in Matthew in previous chapters, each time in response to danger (2:12, 14, 22; 4:12; 12:14). However, while Jesus has cause for fear, we don’t see Him acting fearfully elsewhere and there is no reason to believe that fear motivates Him here. But it could be timing. On another occasion, Jesus chose not to go to Jerusalem because “My time has not yet come” (John 7:5). Jesus came to die, but there is a time to die and it is not yet Jesus’ time.

It could be grief over John’s death. John was family and more than family, he had come to prepare the way for Jesus and, at Jesus’ request, had baptized Jesus. He was a close friend, a trusted colleague, and a family member. Even though Jesus can put John’s death in a larger context, hearing of John’s death surely must grieve Him. If He can feel compassion for the crowds (v. 14), He can also grieve the death of His cousin. Jesus surely needs time alone—time to grieve—time to heal—time to prepare.

Whatever it was – Jesus wanted, needed, some time alone. How frustrating to need time alone and to be invaded by more crowds! Jesus has every reason to be angry with the crowd for interrupting His solitude. Instead, He has compassion on them and heals their sick.

Jesus went out, and he saw a great multitude. He had compassion on them, and healed their sick (14:14). Jesuscompassion eclipses His need for solitude.

Next, the Abundance/Providence Act. Just as Jesus felt compassion for the crowds in verse 14, the disciples also feel compassion in verse 15. They are surely hungry themselves, and can imagine the misery that awaits the crowd unless someone takes action.

Their approach to Jesus is unusual. They do not address Jesus as Lord, but they explain the obvious, This place is deserted, and the hour is already late (v. 15). They then issue an order, Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food (v. 15). They assume that Jesus is so caught up in ministry that He has failed to notice the fading sunlight. They feel a responsibility to bring Him back to reality—to prompt Him to act sensibly.

The disciples are concerned for the crowds, but they are also concerned for Jesus. A crowd can quickly become a riotous mob if not managed properly. Even if things don’t go that far, the good will that Jesus has generated will dissolve if the crowd goes away hungry. The disciples are also concerned for themselves. In a crisis, Jesus will want them to do something—and they can’t imagine what they can do.

They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat (v. 16). The word, “you,” is emphatic in the Greek—“YOU give them something to eat.” The obedience of the disciples was important to this miracle just as our obedience is important to the kingdom today.

Christ takes our contribution, however limited, and makes it enough.

Christ takes that which we have to give, however little, and makes it sufficient. When a widow pleaded with Elisha for help, Elisha asked, “What do you have in the house?” She replied that she had nothing except a pot of oil. Elisha told her to borrow pots from her neighbors, and to pour oil from her pot into the other pots. When she obeyed, her little bit of oil became sufficient to fill all the pots. Elisha then said, “Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest” (2 Kings 4:7). In giving blessings, God often uses what we have on hand.

YOU give them something to eat” continues to challenge Christians today. We live in a world full of hungry people and pray that Jesus might do something. He responds, “YOU give them something to eat.” The church has often risen to the challenge, providing food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to people in the far corners of the world. LPC does this for a few in Kenya as well as our own neighborhood!

The disciples respond, We only have here five loaves and two fish (v. 17). The disciples emphasize not what they have, but what they don’t have. They see not possibilities, but problems. Their assessment is right on the mark. The disciples have five loaves and two fish—seven items—enough for a small family—but the crowd spreads across the horizon. Not only have they assessed the food supply rightly, but they also have a point in their assessment of Jesus. He obviously needs someone to confront Him—to bring Him to His senses—to make Him face reality. “Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food.” Act now, before this situation turns ugly. Send them away. End the day on a positive note, Jesus! End it now!

Just as they doubted God in the wilderness, saying, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19), now Jesus’ disciples doubt His ability to feed the hungry crowd.

We are always tempted to believe, as the disciples did, that we have nothing to offer in the face of overwhelming need. Millions of people are hungry, and we have nothing to offer except a small box of canned goods. Millions of people are affected by this COVID virus, and we have nothing to offer except a few dollars. Millions of people lose their homes and livelihood to war or natural disaster or a failing economy, and we have nothing to offer except prayers and a few blankets.

In such situations, we are prone either to despair or to defer to Big Government. The church is poor, but Congress has plenty. Perhaps we can fulfill our obligation by persuading politicians to do something.

One problem with that approach is practical. Governments are inherently inefficient, taking a dollar from our pockets and absorbing 90c for their own purposes. Their top-down programs seldom work as promised. In many cases, little aid reaches the little people.

Another problem is theological. In whom do we really trust? Where do we believe power really lies?   No, God’s supplies are abundant – and He provides in miraculous ways! As imago dei, God’s image-bearers, we can live with abundance and watch God use us in His Kingdom purposes every day!

The last Act looks forward to the Eucharist/Communion. Bring them here to me (v. 18). Dale Bruner, retired Whitworth Bible professor, says that in the disciples’ hands, five loaves and two fish are not much, but there are other hands here—Jesus’ hands. If Jesus can touch a leper and make him whole, perhaps he can make something of this meager food supply. The disciples have added five and two and gotten seven. They need to learn to count to eight. They need to include Jesus in their equation.

This is an important word for the church today. Most churches struggle just to keep the doors open and the bills paid. How can we expect to do anything meaningful to relieve world hunger—or address any number of horrendous problems? We say, “We have only seven dollars.” Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.” We, too, need to learn to count to eight.

He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass (v. 19). This is a bold move, because it raises expectations. Now the whole crowd will focus its attention on Jesus to see what He will do next.

and He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes (v. 19). Jesus takes action once the disciples bring Him the five loaves and two fish. He does more than just share the crowd’s pain—He feeds them. First, He orders them to sit on the grass. Then He looks to heaven and blesses and breaks the loaves. Then He gives the bread (but not the fish) to the disciples. To this point, there is no indication that any miracle has taken place.

When Jesus gives thanks for the bread and breaks it for distribution, He is doing what any Jewish man would typically do for his family at the beginning of a meal.

The disciples distribute the bread, and They all ate, and were filled (v. 20). This is the first indication that anything special has happened. It means they were all full to satisfaction. Jesus uses this word earlier to promise that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5).

This suggests a Godly blessing rather than some sort of natural process. It is a divine rather than a human enterprise.

They took up twelve baskets full of that which remained left over from the broken pieces (v. 20). Twelve is an important Biblical number. There were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles. The number twelve seems to indicate a kind of spiritual purpose.

In the manna miracle, people were not permitted to keep leftovers, but Jesus is greater than Moses, and He has the disciples gather twelve baskets of food after they have eaten their fill.

The abundance of the leftovers, especially as contrasted with the small quantity of food with which Jesus started, emphasizes the grand scope of the miracle.

There is no mention of wonderment on the part of the crowd. Perhaps they are unaware that a miracle has taken place. Nor is there any mention of wonderment on the part of the disciples—and they do know that Jesus has somehow multiplied the little bit of food that they brought Him.

The Eucharistic character of the feast is evident in the verbs. Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave … only the bread (not the fish) to his disciples for distribution.

Also note the parallels between Matthew’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and his account of the Lord’s Supper in chapter 26. Eugene Boring, Bible commentator points out:

14:15when evening had come
26:20when evening had come

14:19sit down” (Greek: anaklithenai)
26:20He was reclining” (Greek: anekeito from the same root as anaklithenai)

14:19He took the five loaves

26:26took bread

14:19He blessed
26:26gave thanks

14:19broke and gave the loaves to the disciples

26:26broke it. He gave it to the disciples

14:20ate
26:26eat

14:20all

26:27all

And the Eucharistic theme continues even after the meal has been served. The disciples not only distribute the bread, but also collect the broken pieces following the meal. Some scholars treat this as stewardship of precious food, but it makes more sense as a respectful (if anticipatory) gesture of concern for the broken body of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church does not allow any of the Communion elements to go to waste!

This story leaves us asking what really happened. Several interpretations have been proposed:

• This is a miracle of abundance. Jesus took a small amount of food and multiplied it many times over by Godly power.

• The parallels with the feeding of Israel with manna in the wilderness are important. Jews had come to believe that the messiah would repeat the manna miracle, so this miraculous feeding is a strong sign affirming Jesusmessiahship.

The real questions are: What do we think of miracles? What do we think of God? Do we believe that God intervenes in our world? If God does intervene, is there any reason to believe that Jesus did not provide massive quantities of food to feed this crowd? Is there any reason to doubt that God is able to provide for us today?

Those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children (v. 21). Whatever happened, it was truly amazing! Early on, the story establishes that there is an impending crisis for which the disciples have no answer.

As the story unfolds, wonderment grows. There are only five loaves and two fish, but “all ate and were filled.” Amazing! We cannot imagine how they were filled—except by the grace of God.

And then we learn that the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers—more than they had when they started. Amazing!

And then we learn that there were five thousand men, plus their families – 15,000-20,000(?!), a truly great crowd. Amazing!

Through faith is Jesus – this crowd, and you and Ifish our wishand in the end we count our bread-dough in twelve baskets of overflowing abundance!

CompassionAbundant ProvidenceGod’s Abundant Compassion Provided through Jesus Christ!

Can we live into that faith – and might our neighbors know God’s Abundant Compassion Provided through Jesus Christ by knowing us?

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

Have you ever watched a wrestling match? Wrestling is a popular sport all over the world. Wrestlers have to be strong and determined to win. Wrestling isn’t a modern invention, though. It’s one of the oldest sports in the world, and it dates back thousands of years.

Have everyone show you their best wrestler face and pose.

In today’s Bible lesson, Jacob spent an entire night wrestling with an angel of God. After an entire night of wrestling, God’s angel told Jacob to walk away. Jacob left the wrestling match with a new name and a limp from his hurt hip.

We sometimes struggle with God, too. We may want to do things our way instead of His way. When is it hard for you to obey God? (Allow time for responses.)

Prayer

Dear God, please help us remember that You are the One who knows what’s best for us.

We can surrender to Your will and trust You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer –  LPC’s Day-2-Pray

  • For the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of His name in every local expression of the Body;
  • That unbelievers will be drawn by the Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit to respond;
  • That Lidgerwood Church develops further unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace with other churches in our area;
  • That our children and youth will be trained up and grow in Christ-likeness;
  • That the reopening of all our church buildings would happen with faithfulness and wisdom;

Prayer Page – And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

 [Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, WA 99207 ; or click HERE)

Friends, today we experience something that is still new to the whole Christian Community – I mean, this the fourth time we’ve done this, but we are the first generation to wrestle with this as a possible thing to do – we’re still doing On-line Communion, along with the Communion that we who have gathered together are able to share.

There has been much debate – over the theology and over the praxis of – celebrating the Communion meal … while not in actual communion with each other, and in our case here in this room together, from wafers and cups that have not been broken or poured from a single loaf or bottle.

So, to set the record for us – we are still in an unusual life-circumstance wherein keeping distant from each other is the wise option for health – so this is an unusual, irregular, and not-to-be-made-normal practice.

Virtual Communion” draws from something in the past (the actual sharing of Communion that we have previously experienced and that we read about in the New Testament) and looks forward to something in the future (the restoration of this practice once the present constraints are relaxed).

This should remind us that our usual practices have exactly the same status!

And we look forward to something even much greater—a feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, where our sharing is not just a morsel, but a fully satisfying abundant feast on God and all His abundant goodness with all of creation. Today, in our homes, or when we are restored back to our Christian communities, we experience a mere foretaste of a much fuller reality.

What matters here is not what we offer to God, but what God offers to us, His whole people, of every color and culture, gathered together, to receive both Christ and “all the abundance of His Passion” as we remember Him in the bread and the cup.

So … from geographically afar, but in Christ, gathered in His name over our phones, tablets and computers … using whatever elements we might have in our own homes … we invite you to …

Join Pastor Kathy as she leads us in prayer – the words will appear on your screens in just a moment – we’ll keep you muted, but please feel free to pray along with Kathy:

>>>

As Christ sat in that Upper Room, with His disciples, He took the simplest elements of the Passover Meal and made them far more powerfully meaningful. For those of you at home, follow along with me, for those here in this room or upstairs in the overflow room, wait until after ….:

Jesus took the “bread”, and He blessed it and broke it, and said, “This is my Body broken for you, every time you eat of this, do so in memory of me” – as we receive the gift of broken bread, “together”, receive also Jesus as the true Bread of Life….

And He took “the cup”, gave thanks and blessed it, saying “this cup is the Cup of Redemption, the New Covenant, my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins, every time you drink of this, do so in memory of me” – He also said that He would “not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He sees us in Paradise” – so we look forward to when we shall do this together in person, face-to-face again, and even more-so in the Heavenly Kingdom, face-to-face with Jesus Himself! – as we receive the gift of “this” cup poured out, receive also Christ’s abundant love and the cup that runneth over of God’s abundance for all!

For those gathered here, our Deacons will serve you, if you require help in opening the sealed wafer and cup, just raise your hand, someone will be by to help.

Expedition Song – Break Thou the Bread of Life! ….

Next Sunday, like we did today – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up – and please CALL IN or email or text – so we can share with you what the plans will be – whether we will be allowed to continue to meet or not.

We close with this benediction. Repeat after me:

Grow in the grace and knowledge… [repeat]

Of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… [repeat]

Empowered by His Holy Spirit… [repeat]

Be His people everywhere… [repeat]

And give Him the glory… [repeat]

Now and forever more…! [repeat]  Amen

Resources

Boring, M. Eugene, The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VIII; Nashville, TN; Abingdon; 1995; P. 324.

Bruner, Frederick Dale, Matthew: Volume 2, The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28; Dallas, TX; Word; 1990; P. 528.

Donovan, Richard Niell; https://sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/matthew-1413-21/

www.Sermons4kids.com  Jacob Wrestles with God

07/26/2020 = Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 = “The Stories ARE the Story”

(Click HERE to find the FB Live version of Zoom)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52                                                                                      

07/26/2020

The Stories ARE the Story!”                                                                                   

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Welcome to Church, people!!  This is our FOURTH actual physical gathering since the middle of March (the FIRST for some of you)! That’s FOUR months since we’ve actually seen each other, smelled each other – longer if you hadn’t been here since before the middle of March – and especially true for those who have been unable to connect on-line or even by telephone! – and while we’re not really touching each either, at least we’re close!! There’s only about 25 of us in the room together – there’s another half-dozen or so in the Adult Sunday School Room – and so we’re still on-line on Zoom and Facebook Live for  those who could not be here today – for all kinds of reasons.

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are assembled in NorthEast Spokane, WA, along with people from all over the world. We are very glad you are “here” with us.

For those who made it into the building this morning – thank you for wearing your masks and following the seating and walking protocols. And just a quick word about our gathering – the COVID numbers are not decreasing and Governor Inslee is suggesting that we might be moving back to Phase 1 in WA. What that means is that it is a possibility that we might not be meeting together in August. Our Elders are listening to CDC guidelines and deciding on what seems best practices for each others’ safety. We love you, and we want everyone to be and to stay well.

Restrooms are open, but we are hoping you can “hold it” until you get back home, so there will be as few people as possible using the facilities. And, while we’re just sitting here, you can probably take your masks off – keep your “distance”. When we sing or do any responsive readings, please pull your masks back up.

Be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen now and join in as Ken Stone leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 105 listen to the praise and hope in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust and song as it finishes.

Our song of praise today invites us into God’s presence – Come Christians Join to Sing  

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A man dies and goes to heaven.  Expecting a long line, he is surprised to see nobody there at all, except for an “angel” sitting in a chair with his feet up on a table.

“Hello there,” said the angel, “I’m Saint Peter, welcome to heaven!”

“Thank you, Saint Peter,” said the man, “where is everyone?”

“Well, you’re in luck.  Today is just a very slow day, and to make the time pass, I like to give tours to the new arrivals.  Would you enjoy a complete guided tour of heaven?”

“Gosh, I’d love a tour of heaven…lead on, Saint Peter, lead on.”

Well, Saint Peter takes him everywhere.  They go to hear the Heavenly Choir, three hundred angels singing on high.  They go to the Great Hall of Saints and the Great Temple of Martyrs and the man is just overwhelmed.  Finally, Saint Peter take him to the Throne Room of God Himself.  The man’s heart skips a beat, and the light at the far end of the room just blinds him to the point that he can’t stand it any longer.  He is escorted out.

Then, Saint Peter walks him into a huge room filled with thousands and thousands of clocks, large and small, all shapes, all kinds.

The man is puzzled.  He asks, “What is this room full of clocks all about?

In a lecturing tone, Saint Peter describes, “This is the Room of Souls.  Each clock in the room represents a single human soul. The time on each clock represents how long each soul is to liveEach and every time a person lies, however, the hands of the clock move a bit faster.”

The man glances up and notices a huge clock, face downward, whizzing around at a great rate of speed.  His curiosity gets the better of him and he asks, “What is that clock?

“Oh, that one. That one belongs to [name any political candidate of your choice]. We use it as a fan!

 that one.  That’s OJ’s clock.  We use it as a fan.”

This month we have read the Matthew 13 passage that tells us that the crowds following Jesus were so thick that He climbed into a boat on the Sea of Galilee to give Himself some space, and then He started teaching the crowds in parables.

He starts with the parable about the extravagant farmer who generously scattered seeds everywhere – then there’s the parable about two sowersone who sows good seed to grow wheat, and the enemy who sows weeds among the wheat.

Listen to today’s parables of grace and truth from Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52  – hear how these stories ARE THE Story …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

13 31 He told them another parable [#3]: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable [#4]: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” …

…  44 [#5] “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 [#6] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

47 [#7] “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

The parables we read over the last two weeks were somewhat lengthy and were followed some verses later by Jesus’ own explanations.

Not so the five short parables we just read today. They are all very brief and have no section of explicit interpretation.

That means we get to figure it out as we go along. Fortunately, these parables begin with introductions that tell us these parables are about “the kingdom of heaven”.

So in the first parable today, the kingdom of heaven is compared to a mustard seed that, when sown, grows into a tree in whose branches birds come to nest. The image of the mustard seed highlights at the outset its smallness and its invisibility when it is sown. Then the image expands to include its inevitable growth and flourishing, its ensuing large size that contrasts with its small beginning, and its hospitable environment that sustains nesting birds.

How does this scenario help us understand God’s activity that Jesus says displays the kingdom of heaven? First is the affirmation that that kingdom is present, though the sown small seed suggests its presence in small and invisible ways. The smallness anticipates the subsequent large tree, but it also reflects on the activity of Jesus.

To some, God’s kingdom or saving presence is invisible. And if it’s invisible, maybe it’s nonexistent!

The parable affirms that God’s kingdom is nevertheless at work and that it grows inevitably to become a bush and a tree, large enough for nesting birds. There is contrast between the small beginnings and a large culmination. Those who think God is absent from the world or ineffective or impotent, this parable engages with a contrary affirmation and vision of God’s present activity and endgame.

It encourages those discouraged by the apparent unchanging destructiveness of human interactions and structures. It offers a reframing for those perplexed by the overwhelming suffering of our lives and world to which God seems so often to be indifferent. It suggests to those who ask the age-old question of lament, “how long, O God, how long?” that the question is not rhetorical.

Stories of trees in the Old Testament often concern power and rule. Jotham tells a story of trees anointing a king against his brother Abimelech who is staging a coup (Judges 9:7-15). Prophets use tree images to announce God’s power and rule over the imperial powers of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Ezekiel 31:1-18; Daniel 4:10-26). The mustard tree then depicts God’s kingdom that both resists and mimics all other kingdoms to rule over all in a way that promises justice and life rather than oppression.

The nesting birds point to the same vision. The “birds of the heaven” symbolize the people of the nations who have lived under oppression (Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12). In this mustard seed kingdom they find welcome and hospitality that supports life rather than destroys it.

Today’s second parable concerning yeast that a woman mixes with flour to leaven the whole batch demonstrates some similar emphases. Relative to the larger amount of flour, suggesting the final eschatological vision of abundant food (Isaiah 25:6-10), the yeast is only a small quantity. Yet its small presence has big effects. The woman literally “hides” the leaven in the flour. That which seems to be invisible is in fact mysteriously and inevitably performing its leavening work. The status quo does not remain unchanged. By means of a time-consuming process, all of the flour “was leavened.” The passive voice indicates God’s transformation work in the world.

Today’s third and fourth parables — the treasure hidden in a field and the very valuable pearl — continue some of these emphases. The element of the relative smallness of the present form of the kingdom of heaven continues. Then it consists of treasure in a much larger field. It’s just one pearl.

Likewise, there is continued emphasis on the element of hiddenness. The treasure is hidden in the field while the pearl is not initially obvious.

The repetition serves to underscore the importance of these perspectives.

But new emphases also emerge, particularly the interplay of searching, finding, celebrating, and selling all in order to possess something of great value. The person who finds the treasure joyfully “sells all” to buy the field. The merchantsells all” to buy the pearl. The discoveries disrupt normal daily life and priorities; they require risk and sacrifice. In these actions, the power of that which has been found is seen to be at work.

The treasure and pearl possess the finders and shape their lives. And so it is to participate in and be possessed by the kingdom of heaven; it is worth everything.

Today’s final parable of Matthew 13 returns to an eschatological emphasis on the division of judgment evident in the weeds and the wheat from last week. It turns from farming and trading to fishing to depict the future establishment of God’s rule and its victory over evil. The scope of God’s kingdom is universal (“fish of every kind”). Judgment at the end of the age separates evil and the righteousness which coexist right now, including in the church and in my heart. The scenario reminds readers how important it is to faithfully find and “do the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 12:50).

Let’s sum up the Good News in these parables – and how we participate in that Good News:

God’s Good News is generously given with abandon to every-one!

The Kingdom of Heaven is very present and active, even when we cannot see it and do not feel it.

The Kingdom of Heaven rights wrongs, corrects injustices, and stands with and for the victims of those in power.

The Kingdom of Heaven welcomes every neighbor, invites every culture, offers to save every-one through Jesus Christ!

The Kingdom of Heaven remembers God’s promise – and invites you and me to be God’s representatives of love and grace and mercy today!

The Kingdom of Heaven uses your stories to help tell His Story!

Will we live in His Kingdom? Will we …?

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

Today we’re talking about promises. Has anyone ever broken a promise to you? Have you ever made a promise to someone that you broke? Perhaps you promised your mom you’d clean your room, but instead you went out to play and forgot all about your promise. You may have even made a promise to someone even though you didn’t plan to keep it. Unfortunately, most of us have done that: made a promise that we didn’t keep.

Today’s Bible lesson is about how Jacob and Rachel met and fell in love—but more than that, it’s about making promises and keeping them.

A man named Laban had two daughters. Rachel was the younger daughter, and Jacob loved her. 

Have children draw a heart on or near Rachel on their handout.

Leah was the older daughter, but Jacob didn’t really love her.

Have children draw a sad face on or near Leah on their handout.

Laban gave Jacob a job and a place to stay. Then Laban said, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we’re relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.”

Have children draw a light bulb above Jacob on their handout. 

Jacob thought about this. He was crazy about Rachel, so he said, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you let me marry your younger daughter Rachel.

Laban agreed. So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. Seven years! That’s a long time. Let’s draw a circle around Jacob, Rachel, and Leah seven times to get just an idea of what that’s like. 

But even though it was a long time, to Jacob it only seemed like a few days, because he loved Rachel so much and was so excited to marry her. Finally, after seven years, he went to Laban and said, “I’ve worked for you for seven years. Now, give me my wife.” So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a big feast to celebrate.

Have children draw something from a wedding or party on their handout.

But when night came, Laban went into the darkness and gave his daughter Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel. It took Jacob a while, but finally he realized Laban had switched his bride. “What have you done to me?” he cried. “Didn’t I work seven years for Rachel? Why have you tricked me?

Have children draw a sad face on or by Jacob on their handout.

But Laban didn’t apologize or offer to make it right. You can imagine that Jacob was pretty upset. He wanted Laban to keep his promise. Finally, Laban said, “Alright. If you’ll work for me seven more years, then you may have Rachel for your wife.”

Seven more years! But Jacob really, really loved Rachel. So he agreed. 

Have children draw seven circles around Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, counting loudly on each circle.

Finally, after seven more years had passed, Laban actually kept his promise and gave Jacob his daughter Rachel as his wife.

Have children draw happy faces by Jacob and Rachel on their handout.

Laban wasn’t very good at keeping his promises, but God is. When God makes a promise, you know He’ll keep it. God wants us to be faithful to keep our promises, too.

Prayer

God, thank You for keeping Your promises to us. Thank You for being here to help us. Please help us faithfully keep the promises we make to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do welcome the outsider;                           to comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant to all who suffer loss, who help those who suffer, who are alone, who fear tomorrow,
strength and endurance and peace,                 

We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant us to welcome one another into Your Kingdom – to add Your story to our stories,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or click HERE)

Expedition Song – I Love to Tell the Story! ….

Next Sunday, like we did today – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up – and please CALL IN or email or text – so we can share with you what the plans will be – whether we will be allowed to continue to meet or not.

We close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Carter, Warren; https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2074  

Sermons4kids.com; Jacob and Rachel.

07/19/2020 = Matthew 13:24-30 = “Seeds, Weeds, and What the Church Needs”

(Click HERE for the FB Live record of the Zoom – service starts at 10 minutes, sermon starts at 20 minutes)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 13:24-30     

Seeds, Weeds and What the Church Needs!”                                                                

07/19/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Welcome to Church, people!!  This is our THIRD actual physical gathering since the middle of March (the FIRST for some of you)! That’s FOUR months since we’ve actually seen each other, smelled each other – longer if you hadn’t been here since before the middle of March – and especially true for those who have been unable to connect on-line or even by telephone! – and while we’re not really touching each either, at least we’re close!! There’s only about 25 of us in the room together – there’s another half-dozen or so in the Adult Sunday School Room – and so we’re still on-line on Zoom and Facebook Live for  those who could not be here – for all kinds of reasons.

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are assembled in NorthEast Spokane, WA, along with people from all over the world. We are very glad you are “here” with us.

For those who made it into the building this morning – thank you for wearing your masks and following the seating and walking protocols. And just a quick word about our gathering – the COVID numbers are not decreasing and Governor Inslee is suggesting that we might be moving back to Phase 1 in WA (CA did this last week). What that means is that it is a possibility that we might not be meeting together in August (or even next week). Our Elders are listening to CDC guidelines and deciding on what seems best practices for each others’ safety. We love you, and we want everyone to be and to stay well.

Restrooms are open, but we are hoping you can “hold it” until you get back home, so there will be as few people as possible using the facilities. And, while we’re just sitting here, you can probably take your masks off – keep your “distance”. When we sing or do any responsive readings, please pull your masks back up.

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Today we get to celebrate with three of our own as they officially join our fellowship – brother and sisters in Christ. So, this day we dedicate to Christ – and we give Him our all!

Listen now and join in as Rita Kersh leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 139 listen to the praise and hope in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust and song as it finishes.

Our song of praise today sings to God’s invites us to listen for God’s voice and respond – Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling  Lilly

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A few of you here will relate to this, but my guess is the rest of you will just roll your eyes in disbelief!

I know what a Dandelion looks like – most of the time – but if I’m in the garden weeding, you can count on me plucking some of Jennifer’s favorite flowers by accident.

Seriously, it’s a guess – every time!

Last week we read the Matthew 13 passage that tells us that the crowds following Jesus were so thick that He climbed into a boat on the Sea of Galilee to give Himself some space, and then He started teaching the crowds in parables.

Today, Jesus tells a second parable about sowing seeds – last week it was the extravagant farmer who generously scattered seeds everywhere – this time is about two sowersone who sows good seed to grow wheat, and the enemy who sows weeds among the wheat.

And like last week’s parable, for this parable too, Jesus offers an allegorical interpretation to His disciples in private. Like the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and weeds offers a perspective on opposition to Jesus, and also speaks more generally to the persistence of evil in the world.

Matthew 12 churns with conflict. Pharisees criticize Jesus for allowing His disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath. When Jesus heals a man with withered hand, they “conspired against Him, plan to destroy Him”. When He heals a demoniac, they accuse Him of working by the power of Beelzebul. Jesus calls them the “offspring of vipers” and “an evil and adulterous generation”. Matthew 12 forms the foundation for Matthew 13, which offers hope in the midst of this evil.

Listen to this parable of grace and truth from Matthew 13:24-30 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

13 24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

A bit of botany is helpful in understanding this parable. As I said before, I don’t know beans about weedsso I use commentaries and Greek lexicons to help me out. What Matthew most likely refers to, here, as a weed, is darnel, a noxious weed that closely resembles wheat and is plentiful in Israel. The main difference between darnel and real wheat is evident only when the plants mature and the ears appear. The ears of the real wheat are heavy and will droop, while the ears of the darnel stand up straight.

In verses 37-39, in the clearest of terms, Jesus tells His disciples what almost every element of the parable represents: “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels”. Jesus does not, however, say whom the “servants” represent.

I wonder if these servants might represent the disciples, or anyone who hears this parable and its interpretation, that would include you and me. Who here has not questioned why God allows evil to grow and thrive? Racial injustice, cancer, poverty, mean-spirited jerks, COVID,,,. Who among us has not wanted to take matters into our own hands and root out the evil in our midst?

The master stops the servants from doing anything of the sort. For one thing, it is not so easy to tell the weeds from the wheat (I am not alone!), and for another, their roots are intertwined below the ground. Rooting out the weeds would uproot the wheat as well, doing more damage to the crop than just leaving the weeds to grow.

Jesus says that the harvesters – not the servantswill take care of this at harvest time. “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:41-43). It is the angels – not any human beings – who are authorized to pluck out the weeds from the wheat.

Who, we might ask, are the evil-doers, and who are the good-ones? Is it really that, please pardon the expression, is it really that black-and-white? And, how do we know? Jesus says that at the end of the age, the angelswill weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin (skandala) and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (13:41-42).

But in other places Jesus warns those who put a stumbling block (skandalon) before any of thelittle onesthat it would be better for them to have a millstone put around their neck and to be drowned in the sea (18:6-7). He also warns that if your hand or foot or eye causes you to sin (skandalizo), it is better to cut it off or pluck it out and enter life blind or maimed, than to be thrown into the “hell of fire” with body intact (18:8-9).

This is hyperbolic language, of course, meant to jolt us into recognizing the seriousness of anything that leads us or others into sin. It seems to suggest that a skandalon may be something within a person rather than the whole person. We know that it is not really our hand or foot or eye that causes us to sin. Sin comes from within our heart (15:18-20), which in Greek culture means to the inner self, the mind and will. No human is able to pluck out the inner self.

Is it possible that when Jesus says that the angels will collect all skandala to burn in the fire, He means that everything within us that causes sin will be burned away? It doesn’t quite fit the logic of the parable, which seems to be talking about two groups of people and speaks of throwing all evildoers into the furnace of fire; yet it seems consistent with other texts in Matthew about stumbling blocks.

Another passage to consider is Matthew 16:23, where Jesus tells Peter at Caesarea Philippi, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block (skandalon) to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” In spite of these strong words and Peter’s repeated failings, Jesus does not give up on Peter; rather, He ultimately entrusts the future of His mission to him and the rest of His bumbling disciples – to you and me, to Ashley and Jake and Linda!

So perhaps we should not press the logic of the parable too literally. Last Tuesday, our Elders determined that in the world we know, weeds do not become wheat. Yet Matthew’s story holds out hope even for those who stumble – even for the one whom Jesus calls a stumbling block!

I wonder if there were some overzealous “weeders” in Matthew’s congregation who wanted to purify the community by rooting out the bad seed. This seems to be a temptation for followers of Jesus in every age. We whip ourselves into a weeding frenzy, certain that we know the difference between weeds and wheat, and that we know how to deal with the weeds!

This parable seems pretty clear that any attempt to root out the weeds will only do more damage to the crop. This has played out far too many times in congregations and denominations, with some determined to root out anyone who does not agree with the “right” interpretation of Scripture, worship style, or stand on a particular issue.

We are not left with no clues at all – John’s Gospel in particular talks about how faith in Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. But Jesus also makes it clear that we simply cannot be certain who is “in” or who is “out”. In fact, God’s judgment about these matters, I think, will take many by surprise (Matthew 7:21-23; 8:11-12; 21:31-32; 25:31-46).

Thank God it is not up to us! We can leave the weeding to the angels, and get on with the mission Jesus has given us – proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God drawing near.

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

Raise your hand if you dream at night when you sleep. Who remembers a dream they have had recently? (Briefly share about a dream you’ve had.)

Today’s Bible lesson includes a really crazy dream, so pay close attention so you don’t miss it. 

I have something really amazing to show you. This is a wonderful little toy called a Jacob’s Ladder. It’s a toy that has been around for many, many years. Wait and see what it does.

 This Jacob’s Ladder got its name from a man in the Bible named Jacob. He had a dream about a ladder that reached up to heaven. Jacob started on a long journey to a town called HaranWhen Jacob reached a certain place, he stopped to spend the night. Jacob took a large stone and rested his head on it and went to sleep. Does that sound like a comfortable pillow to you? Not me!  

As he slept, Jacob had a dream.  In Jacob’s dream, there was a ladder that reached from the ground all the way up to heaven.  There were angels running up and down the ladder.  Jacob looked and saw God himself standing at the top of the ladder.  God spoke to Jacob and told him that He was going to bless him and his people and that He would watch over him and keep him wherever he went.  

When Jacob woke up he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place.”  Then Jacob took the stone he had used for a pillow and poured oil on it. He named the place Bethel, which means the house of the Lord.  

This is a wonderful story of how God blessed Jacob, but it is much more than that. It is also a picture of what Jesus has done for you and me. Jesus came down to earth to make a way for you and me to get to know God and live with Him forever. Jesus is the way, the only way, for us to know God’s love.

(Demonstrate the finished Jacob’s Ladder.) I told you it was amazing! Now this looks really complicated and I must confess that I don’t understand exactly how it works, but these are for you!)

Prayer

Dear God, thank You for providing a way for us to know You. If there are some here today who have not found the way, we pray that they will find Your way today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

New Members

Invite Elder Vern Lightbody to come forward

          Invite Ashley Davis, Jacob Davis & Linda Tuinsta

                   And their family members/friends who support them in their membership

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do welcome the outsider;                           to comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant us to welcome one another into Your Kingdom –     Your Kingdom, not ours.  Help us, Jesus.
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or click HERE)

Expedition Song – Lilly – What a Friend We Have in Jesus! ….

Next Sunday, like we did today – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up – and please CALL IN or email or text – so we can share with you what the plans will be – whether we will be allowed to continue to meet or not.

We close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Johnson, Elizabeth; https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=979

Sermons4kids.com; Jacob’s Dream.

07/12/2020 = Matthew 13:1-9 = “Seeds, Soil, and Salvation”

(Click HERE to find the Facebook Live video of this – actual service starts at 14 minutes, sound gets better at 24 minutes, sermon starts at 29 minutes)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 13:1-9

“Seeds, Soil, Salvation”

07/12/2020

Welcome to Church, people!!  This is our SECOND actual physical gathering since the middle of March (the FIRST for some of you)! That’s almost FOUR months since we’ve actually seen each other, smelled each other – longer if you hadn’t been here since before the middle of March – and especially true for those who have been unable to connect on-line or even by telephone! – and while we’re not really touching each either, at least we’re close!! There’s only about 25 of us in the room together – and so we’re still on-line on Zoom and Facebook Live for  those who could not be here – for all kinds of reasons.

We are trying another brand new thing – which means we will not be doing it perfectly – last week we somehow muffed the whole on-line thing – and some of our “expert” help is not able to be here today, and that will slow us down even a little further.

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are assembled in NorthEast Spokane, WA, but we have people “with us” in this “room” from all over the world. We are very glad you are “here” with us.

For those who made it into the building this morning – thank you for wearing your masks and following the seating and walking protocols. Restrooms are open, but we are hoping you can “hold it” until you get back home, so there will be as few people as possible using the facilities. And, while we’re just sitting here, you can probably take your masks off – keep your “social distance”. When we sing or do any responsive readings, please pull your masks back up. I am trying out this “shield”, but I’ll show anyone who is interested what the inside of my shield looks like after a few minutes of speaking.

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

We are blessed to have Julie here on the piano! And a colleague from NC, David Dudley will sing our closing song, and Pastor Kathy will Call us to Worship from her home.

Listen now and join in as Pastor Kathy leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 119 listen to the praise and hope in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust and song as it finishes.

Our song of praise today sings to God’s praise and thanks Him for those who have been here before us, preparing the soil and scattering the seeds of God’s Word for us – For All the Saints  

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For context, I was born in 1961, which means one of my favorite “coming of age” music groups was Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). One of my favorite songs in Jr High was their 1969 “Bad Moon Rising”, which John Fogerty is quoted as saying was inspired by a movie in which a hurricane wipes out a town – he thought, like, the Apocalypse, we’d better be ready to die. It’s not a happy song, but its up-beat melody made me love it.

But, you know how sometimes we mis-hear, and therefore mis-sing, the lyrics to songs? “Bad Moon Rising” includes the repeated line: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” But so many people thought it said, “There’s a bathroom on the right” that Fogerty occasionally sang it that way for fun! (He even pointed out directions to the nearest facilities.)

To be honest – this is why I post the words to songs that soloists are singing for us in church – not necessarily for us to sing along with – although that is perfectly acceptable, too!!!

Often, we mis-hear Jesus’ teachings. One of my favorite movie lines is in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, when a group in the crowd listening to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount start arguing about why Jesus would say, “Blessed are the cheese-makers”…. (Side note – this is not an endorsement of either CCR’s song or Monty Python’s movie…)

I do believe we all-too-often mis-hear Jesus’ or Paul’s or John’s words, and therefore God’s Word. Today’s parable from Matthew 13 may be such a time.

Listen to these words of grace and truth from Matthew 13:1-9 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: 

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The Parable of the Sower is recorded in all three of the synoptic GospelsMatthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. Most commentators concentrate on the human heart, saying it is compared to the receptivity of the different soils to the seed of the Word of God.  The soil that the seed falls on represents four categories of hearers’ hearts, four different reactions to the Word of God: the hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart, and the fruitful, receptive heart.

Still other seed fell on good soil and it produced – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” Let me summarize what Jesus says this parable means:

  1. First, there is the hard heart, the seed that falls along the roadside. This represents people who hear the Word of God, but never really believe. They may be in our churches, but that is more out of habit or ritual than because it holds real meaning and value.
     
  2. Then there is the shallow heart. That is the seed that falls on stony ground. This signifies the people who hear the Word of God and receive it with joy, but because there is no root to sustain them, they wither. These people may think they really are believers – but as soon as there’s trouble their real faith is revealed.
     
  3. Next, there is the crowded heart. That is the seed that falls on ground where weeds choke out its growth. Slowly and surely, these people, busy with the cares and riches of the world, just lose interest in the things of God. Again they may be in church with us, but their life-styles display different values than what the Scriptures describe.
     
  4. Finally, there is the fruitful heart that receives the Word. The seed falls on good ground and the plants produce a rich harvest. This, of course, is what we all think we are. But … are we?

We are the ones who determine what kind of soil our hearts will be. We decide whether we will have a hard heart, a shallow heart, a crowded heart, or a receptive heart. This is exactly what James meant when he said, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)

How are you handling the struggles in your life right now? Do you experience God’s power and presence in ways that allow you to find joy even in the midst of the COVID virus, the financial scuffle, the loneliness and isolation, the fears, the political despair, relationship brokenness?

Does it feel more like 30, 60, 100 fold of fruit of the Spirit? Or does it feel more like more struggle, abandonment, fear and separation? What kind of soil are you? How well-“grounded” is your faith?

There is something of extreme Good News in this parabledid you catch the extravagant, almost flagrant, generosity of God in this story? The farmer’s seed, the Good News of salvation through faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ, is scattered wildly across the field. He offers us His Good News like there’s no tomorrow!

We have the “always-opportunity” to help prepare each others’ and our own souls to receive and believe the Word of God, His Son (John 1:12) offering us the right to be called children of God – those who inherit salvation by the gift of our heavenly Father.

Today is the day – the seed is planted – are you ready to receive and believe?

And, by the way – Blessed are the PEACEmakers, and there is, indeed, a Good Word on the rise!!

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

In today’s Bible lesson, we’re learning about the surprising story of a man named Esau. Esau was a twin, and he made a really poor choice that affected his entire life. Why? All because he was hungry! But before we dive in, let’s talk about an important piece of Esau’s story. It’s something called “birthright.”

What do you think a birthright is?

Your birthright is what you’re born with or born into. Some things that are considered a birthright are your family’s name and your family relationships. It can include your family’s reputation. It includes property, such as your house, car, or livestock. Your birthright is a big deal—it represents what you can claim as yours in the world.

If you were born during Bible times—and even in some cultures today—and you were born first, you might have a more valuable birthright than your younger siblings.

Hand a “Birth Certificate” and a marker to each child.

We’re going to think about your birthright now. As we talk, you’ll fill out more and more of your Birth Certificate. For starters, write your first, middle, and last name on your certificate.

Your name is perhaps your most important birthright. Your parents chose it for you and it usually sticks with you forever. Normally, no one can take away your name unless you make that choice.

Esau had a twin brother named Jacob. Esau was born first. Jacob was born holding onto his brother’s heel.

Now take a look at your birth certificate. Write your birth date.    Now, think about your birth order. Were you born first like Esau, second like Jacob, or somewhere else in line? List that on your certificate.

What things are part of your birthright? Your family’s house, money, belongings, pets, cars, toys, you name it. List a couple of those things on your birth certificate.

Remember: Esau was born first. He would inherit the most. Esau would never have to worry about these things. But then, something happened.

One day, Esau came in from the fields where he’d been hunting. He was very hungry. You know what that’s like! Jacob was cooking up a tasty stew and bread when Esau came in, and it must have smelled wonderful. Esau naturally wanted some of the tasty food.

Jacob, who was born second, whose birthright was much smaller than his brother’s, said, “I’ll give you this food if you sell me your birthright.”

Esau didn’t even hesitate. He said, “I’m so hungry I’ll die; what good is my birthright?” And he agreed to trade his birthright to his brother right then for a bowl of stew, bread, and a drink. That’s almost like giving away all your possessions for a combo meal!

Now, take another look at your birth certificate. Would you trade any of those things for one meal?  Esau made a very poor choice. But God used it for the good of all of God’s people!

We should pray for God to help us make good choices about life – but we need to also trust that God will take care of us even when things go badly after our bad choices.

Prayer

God, thank You for giving us the freedom to make our own choices. Thank You most of all for guiding us toward making good choices and for helping us when we ask. Please stand beside us when we face tough choices and help us make good decisions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do welcome the outsider;                           to comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant us to scatter Your seed of truth and love with abandon – help us to prepare the soil by building healthy relationships and by living with Your good choices – help us to be faithful even when we struggle.  Help us, Jesus.
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or clicking HERE).

Expedition Song – David Dudley, White Hill PC, Sanford, NC, 05/17/20 – I Have Decided! ….

Next Sunday, like we did today – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up.

We close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Laurie, Greg; https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-parable-of-the-sower.html

Sermons4kids.com; Esau Sells His Birthright.

07/05/2020 = Matthew 11:28-30 = “The Yoke’s on You”

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 11:28-30                                                                                 

The Yoke Is on You!”                                                                                              

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

07/05/2020

Wow!! Welcome to Church, people!!  Today is our FIRST actual physical gathering since the middle of March! That’s almost FOUR months since we’ve actually seen each other, smelled each other – and while we’re not really touching each either, at least we’re close!! There’s only about 25 of us in the room together – and so we’re still on-line on Zoom and Facebook Live for  those who could not be here – for all kinds of reasons.

We are doing another brand new thing – which means we will not be doing it perfectly – and some of our “expert” help is not able to be here today, and that will slow us down even a little further.

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are assembled in NorthEast Spokane, WA, but we have people “with us” in this “room” from all over the world. We are very glad you are “here” with us.

For those who made it into the building this morning – thank you for wearing your masks and following the seating and walking protocols. Restrooms are open, but we are hoping you can “hold it” until you get back home, so there will be as few people as possible using the facilities. And, while we’re just sitting here, you can probably take your masks off – keep your “social distance”. When we sing or do any responsive readings, please pull your masks back up. I am trying out this “shield”, but I’ll show anyone who is interested what the inside of my shield looks like after a few minutes of speaking.

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

We are blessed to have Julie here on the piano! And Donna and Ken will sing a duet, and Sandy will Call us to Worship – and from afar, Diana will sing a duet with herself; and Linda will say the Communion Prayer.

But before we do any of that – today is Gary Ramm’s Birthday! Let’s sing to him!

Listen now and join in as Sandy leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 45 listen to the praise and hope in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust and song as it finishes.

Our song of praise on this Independence Day weekend sings to God’s praise and prays for our nation – God of  Our Fathers  

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Entertainer Adam Ferrara says that a “human body is in constant change the minute we’re born. It’s in a constant state of decay. We’re all like Ford Escorts, just falling apart.” If Keith were here I’d look to him for an Amen!

Whether we’re Ford fans or not, we all get that change happens. Right? These last 4 months has been nothing but change – in terms of how churches do ministry, how we worship, how we lead small groups, how we serve our neighborhoods, how we receive offerings, how look after one another – every . single . day . we are learning how to do things differently!

And yet, how many of us have lost what day of the week it is because every . single. day. is exactly the same as the day before and the day after?

Jesus’ call to discipleship involves that kind of constancy and that kind of adaptability, steady sameness and ready flexibility.

Are you feeling tired of all the changing news? Are you weary of wearing masks? Are you hitting your pillows exhausted from another day of trying to catch up? Maybe that’s just me – but I don’t think so.

Listen to these words of comfort and challenge from Matthew 11:28-30 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

10 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Dr. Charles Stanley is a Baptist Pastor and Bible teacher whom I have learned to listen to and learn from. Listen to his description of what these verse mean:

Jesus invites all burdened individuals to come to Him for rest, yet so often we misunderstand what He is offering. When stresses and problems weigh us down, the most natural response (for Americans) is to ask God for relief: “Lord, I can’t carry this anymore. I’m going to leave it here with you.” Having dumped the burden like a bag of garbage, we walk away but remained unchanged inside. (In most of the rest of the world, Christians pray for strength to carry on, for wisdom to move forward, for endurance to remain faithful – Americans pray for relief – Jesus asks us to pray for something a little different.)

God doesn’t operate that way, Stanley says. Christ’s invitation is to join Him in the yoke so you can walk and work together. He doesn’t want just your burden; He wants you! The yoke of Christ is a symbol of discipleship, characterized by submission and obedience to Him. God’s goal isn’t simply to give relief by removing a weighty trial or affliction; He longs to draw you to Himself in a close and trusting relationship. Those who take Him up on His offer will be transformed and won’t ever return to their old ways.

The process of lightening the load begins with learning to know and understand the Lord. The burden is not necessarily removed, but our thoughts and responses are changed as we begin to love Him, trust Him, believe His promises, and rely on His power. Then, as the weight of the affliction shifts from our shoulders to His, we will discover relief, although the situation may remain unchanged.

Being yoked with Christ results in rest for your soul. Life’s pressures may not lessen, but if you are intimately linked with Jesus, your soul is free from churning anxiety, and His peace is ruling in your heart. Jump into His yoke. You have nothing to lose—except your weariness—and much to gain.

Stanley points out many good reasons why it’s important for us to “take Jesus’ yoke.”  One other reason I think He commands us to do this is so that we won’t experience the adverse health effects that come from the chronic stress of bearing life’s burdens on our own. Jesus wants to help us. He wants us to rest in Him.

As your pastor, as your friend, part of my call is to do my part to help create a more just and sustainable future for us as a people of faith and for us as a community of citizens of the Kingdom of God. These last four months have taken their toll on my abilities to do any of that. The corona virus pandemic, the ensuing economic hardships, and the reality of systemic racism prevalent in our society are heavy burdens that will not be lifted quickly of easily – and not by me, people with much more influence than me, or any one, without Christ’s invitation to walk and work alongside Him.

What burdens are you trying to carry yourselves? Is it your health, your finances, your relationship with a loved one? How might you accept Jesus’ offer to take His yoke – not to remove your burden, but to share the load with Him?

When was the last time you explicitly turned to Jesus in prayer and said something like this.  “I am weary and have many burdens.  My soul needs rest. I trust in You.  Help me, Jesus.”

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

Has anyone here ever heard the story of Cinderella?  It is a beautiful fairy tale about poor Cinderella who went to a ball at the royal palace of the Prince. Cinderella was the most beautiful one at the ball and, when the Prince saw her, it was love at first sight. (Have all the kids go “AHHHH.”)

But then things took a turn for the worse. At midnight, Cinderella‘s beautiful dress turned back into her dirty work dress and she ran from the ball so that the prince would not see her. As she ran, one of her glass slippers came off and was left behind. (Have all the kids take off a shoe.) The Prince searched the entire country to find the one who could fit into that glass slipper. You know what happened! He found Cinderella and the slipper fit (Have all the kids put their shoe back on.) The Prince and Cinderella married and lived happily ever after. What a beautiful love story. (Invite all the kids to clap.)

Today, I want to tell you another beautiful love story. It’s the story of Isaac and Rebekah. (Invite kids to repeat the names Isaac and Rebekah.)

You may remember that Isaac was the son of Abraham. When Isaac had grown up, it was time for him to get married. Abraham wanted Isaac to marry someone from his homeland, but he did not want Isaac to leave the place where they were living. So Abraham decided to send one of his servants to find a wife for Isaac and bring her back to him. (Have all the kids say,  “Go, find a wife!”)

The servant was happy to help his master, but he was not sure how he would know which girl was the right one for Isaac. He took 10 camels and lots of gifts for the new bride and began a long journey. As he walked, he prayed that God would help him to know how to find the right wife for Isaac. (Invite kids to make a walking sound on the floor with their feet or hands.)

In the end, everything happened exactly as the servant had asked of God!! (Have kids repeat “Hooray!” after you. )

The servant gave her beautiful jewelry. The Lord had shown him that Rebekah was the special woman that God had chosen for Isaac, they were so happy. (Ask kids to make their happiest face.)

When Rebekah saw Isaac in the distance, she was so excited. When Isaac saw Rebekah, it was love at first sight. They got married right away. And Isaac loved Rebekah very much! (Have kids all cheer in unison.)

This is a story that tells us that God can handle every-single-thing we might worry about!

Prayer

Dear God, We are so thankful that you provide for our needs. Help us to trust you to give us what we need. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do welcome the outsider;                           to comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant Your yoke because I am weary and have many burdens.  My soul needs rest. I trust in You.  Help me, Jesus.
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;    

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or click HERE).

Friends, today we experience something that is still brand new to the whole Christian Community – I mean, this the third time we’ve done this, but we are the first generation to wrestle with this as a possible thing to do – we’re still doing On-line Communion, along with the Communion that we who have gathered together are able to share.

There has been much debate – over the theology and over the practical praxis of – celebrating the Communion meal … while not in actual communion with each other., and in our case here in this room together, from wafers and cups that have not been broken or poured from a single loaf or bottle.

So, to set the record for us – we are still in an unusual life-circumstance wherein keeping distant from each other is the wise option for health – so this will be an unusual, irregular, and not-to-be-made-normal practice.

Virtual Communion” draws from something in the past (the actual sharing of Communion that we have previously experienced and that we read about in the New Testament) and looks forward to something in the future (the restoration of this practice once the present constraints are relaxed).

This should remind us that our usual practices have exactly the same status!

And we look forward to something even much greater—a feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, where our sharing is not just a morsel, but a fully satisfying abundant feast on God and all His abundant goodness with all of creation. Today, in our homes, or when we are restored back to our Christian communities, we experience a mere foretaste of a much fuller reality.

What matters here is not what we offer to God, but what God offers to us, His whole people, of every color, gathered together, to receive both Christ and “all the abundance of His Passion” as we remember Him in bread and the cup.

So … from geographically afar, but in Christ, gathered in His name over our phones, tablets and computers … using whatever elements we might have in our own homes …

Join Linda as she leads us in prayer – the words will appear on your screens in just a moment – we’ll keep you muted, but please feel free to pray along with Linda:

Holy God, hear our prayer:

For the mending of our hearts, torn apart by unkindness;

For the healing of our souls,

wasting away from the despair around us;

For the forgiveness we seek for the sin

we have allowed to persist;

For the reconciliation of the world,

whose divisions condemn us;

We pray for the courage to admit our fault,

the strength to amend our actions,

and the hope that Your grace awaits us,

the humility to carry Your yoke into Your world.

Through Christ Jesus we pray.   Amen.

As Christ sat in that Upper Room, with His disciples, He took the simplest elements of the Passover Meal and made them far more powerfully meaningful. For those of you at home, follow along with me, and then listen to the song and pray with Diana as she leads:

Jesus took the “bread”, and He blessed it and broke it, and said, “This is my Body broken for you, every time you eat of this, do so in memory of me” – as we receive the gift of broken bread, “together”, receive also Jesus as the true resurrection and the life….

And He took “the cup”, gave thanks and blessed it, saying “this cup is the Cup of Redemption, the New Covenant, my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins, every time you drink of this, do so in memory of me” – He also said that He would “not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He sees us in Paradise” – so we look forward to when we shall do this together in person, face-to-face again, and even more-so in the Heavenly Kingdom, face-to-face with Jesus Himself! – as we receive the gift of “this” cup poured out, receive also Christ’s abundant love and the cup that runneth over of God’s abundance for all!

For those gathered here, our Deacon will serve you, if you require help in opening the sealed wafer and cup, just raise your hand, someone will be by to help. Diana sings today’s Communion song while we Communion together – the words will appear on the screenRemember Me!

Expedition Song – Donna and Ken – Our God Reigns! ….

Next Sunday, like we did today – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up.

We close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Sermons4kids.com; A Bride for Isaac.

Stanley, Charles; https://www.faithandhealthconnection.org/stress-management-taking-jesus-yoke-matthew-1128-30/

06/28/2020 = Matthew 10:40-42 = “I Could Care More!”

Click HERE to find the FB Live video of this service.Sorry about the on-and-off audio – stick with it, most of what was important got recorded. Also, the video is not great….

Offerings can be made by clicking HERE,or mailed to 4449 N Nevada St, Spokane WA, 99207

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 10:40-42    

I Couldn’t Care Less More!”                      

06/28/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Welcome to this “gathering” in God’s name. We are located in NorthEast Spokane, WA, but we have people “with us” in this “room” from all over the world. We are glad you are “here” with us.

Washington State was put on “Required-Mask-Wearing” when in public settings this weekend – and next Sunday when we actually do open our church-building doors for “limited-attendance” gathering we will follow this rule – please RSVP to us if you plan to attend so we can properly set up.

I have heard almost countless people saying that they “couldn’t care less” about this mask-wearing mandate – they simply refuse to do so (maybe some of you fall into that category – I have been there). I wear my mask when in public because I have come to realize that I could actually learn to care a little more!

One quick word about our continued worship on-line: all of our church members should have received the written re-opening plan by now. We are hoping to start worshiping together in the church building on next Sunday – but we will still continue to livestream our worship on Zoom and FB Live. If you plan to attend on-site next week, we will need to hear from you, like a pre-registration – so we can properly set up and because we will be allowed limited numbers in attendance.

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen and join in as pastor Kathy leads us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 13 listen to the pain and fear in the psalmist’s voice – and claim his faith and trust and song as it finishes.

Join in as Lilly and Johnny sing our opening song – and participate in the prayerful words this hymn – Be Thou My Vision  

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As I said last Sunday, by the time we get to the last part of Matthew 10 we find an extended passage where Jesus is speaking mainly to His Apostles, but more generally to all His followers (include you and me all these 2,000 years later and on the other side of this planet). Matthew Henry, Bible teacher and preacher from the late-17th-early-18 centuries, calls this chapter Jesus’ “ordination sermon for His Apostles”. In today’s reading, the final three verses of Matthew 10, we find Jesus challenging His Apostles and followers to live lives of hospitality and generosity – to care … more!

Listen to these words of “ordination” and Good News from Matthew 10:40-42 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

10 40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. [Those lines are warm invitations to be welcoming – when we “welcome” others, we welcome Christ, and when we do that we welcome God Almighty. During these days when we find hostility toward everyone who is different from us, Jesus invites us to stop that, to be civil and polite and … open-heartedly and open-armly receptive! But, Jesus continues – He guarantees a divine blessing, a heavenly reward, and then He goes on with one more challenge/guarantee!]    42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

I ran across this very inappropriate story this week – but the wisdom of the “prospective servant” makes this a worthwhile illustration: “A woman was interviewing a prospective servant and asked ‘Can you serve company?’  The applicant replied, ‘Yes, ma’am, both ways.’  The lady looked puzzled and asked, ‘What do you mean, “both ways”?’  ‘So’s they’ll come again, or stay away.’”

At times hospitality is very much like the supposedly true story of a woman who had invited some people to dinner.  At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”  “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the little girl replied.  “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said. The little girl bowed her head and said, “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?

However you may feel about opening your heart and your home to strangers and guests, I believe that hospitality lies at the heart of Christian Discipleship. By receiving others into our own homes we receive them as we would receive Christ Himself. In giving ourselves to those who come into our lives we share Christ Himself – the one who has sent us – with them.

These verses speak about Hospitality as receiving and welcoming the stranger. In today’s Gospel text, Jesus reminds us of a very profound privilege, and, along with that, a tremendous responsibility. He tells us that we represent and symbolize Him before others. He tells us that the reverse is also true: namely, that others represent and symbolize Him before us. Jesus assures us that He Himself is present in our lives when we welcome others into our midst. He is also present when others do the same for us.

Jesus is present each and every day in the hospitality that we offer others and others offer us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer , theologian and pastor from Germany during the Nazi-Germany days, said it very well in his book, The Cost of Discipleship: “The bearers of Jesus’ word receive a final word of promise for their work. They are now Christ’s fellow workers, and will be like him in all things. Thus they are to meet those to whom they are sent as if they were Christ himself. When they are welcomed into a house, Christ enters with them. They are bearers of his presence. They bring with them the most precious gift in the world, the gift of Jesus Christ.

And with them they bring God the Father, and that means indeed forgiveness and salvation, life and blessing. That is the reward of their toil and suffering. Every service people give them is service provided to Christ himself.

We bring Christ before others in our homes, in the church, in school, at work, at play, in the whole world. What would happen if, every day, we were always conscious of this truth and did our best to put it into practice? When we offer and receive hospitality Jesus is made present. This truly is the most precious gift we could give to anyone!

These are easy words to speak, and not too difficult to hear, right? Most of us are very willing to welcome people who are like us! But Jesus, and God His Father, warn us to welcome everyone – even people who we might not be terribly comfortable around. (Side note, comfort comes with familiarity – hang out with people who make us uncomfortable, and guess what – they become familiar – the root word there is “family” – they become family!)

During these days of racial divide and derision, if we don’t have “friends” or neighbors who are “different”, try reading books or watching movies that describe experiences we can’t have. (The Spokane County Library has several suggestions – ask my daughter for advice, contact her on Facebook – she loves this kind of thing!).

Hospitality, however isn’t only about going someplace and quietly hoping that the receiver of our hospitality will see Christ in us. When I was in seminary and intern-pastoring at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, my “supervisor-pastor”, James Noel, taught me a fundamental truth about hospitality. He said to me, “Mark, when you’re going on a pastoral call, especially when it’s a difficult situation, don’t expect that you will always bring Christ to them. Rather, be assured that Christ is already there.” What a profound truth. Sometimes we do good to see Christ in the people that we want to reach out to.

Christ is the Hospitality of God toward us. He invites all of us, from all languages and cultures, to His great banquet, the feast which none of us can repay.

Christ is God’s hospitality toward us. God gives Himself fully to us in His Son Jesus Christ. In fact, He did not spare His own life to show us how much He wants us to be with Him for all eternity. But, God doesn’t only give Himself fully to us. He also fully receives us and accepts us as we are. And His acceptance of us is so big He doesn’t leave us in our sorry, self-centered state – He transforms us into His very likeness! In Christ we experience both sides of the coin of God’s hospitality toward us.

Hebrews 13:1-2 says, “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to welcome strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Every time we welcome an other – we act like our amazingly gracious God – and we honor Him!

Something as small as a cup of cold water is all it takes! Rather than being a people who couldn’t care less – may we be a people who realize we could always care just a little bit more.

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

Hey kids, I have a job for you today: point to someone in your home whom you trust. Do you trust your (mom, dad, great-grandma)? Excellent.

Now, I’m going to mention someone you don’t know: my neighbor, Roger Mohrlang.

So, now listen carefully, if your (mom, dad, great-grandma) told you where to find your favorite snack, and Mr. Morhlang gave you different instructions – who would you trust? Why? What if I told you that Mr. Mohrlang is a really great guy?

Abraham was Isaac’s father. Abraham and his wife Sarah were almost 100 years old when Isaac was born. And God told Abraham that He was going to have lots of grandchildren and great grandchildren through his son Isaac.

One day, God spoke to Abraham and told him to take Isaac up on a mountain and give God his only child, the thing that he loved more than anything.

So Abraham took Isaac and they started up the mountain.  

On the third day, Abraham told Isaac that they were going to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God. Isaac said to his father, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the offering?”  

Abraham answered Isaac and said, “God will provide the lamb.”

They kept walking until they arrived at the place where God had told him to go. Then Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Abraham was ready to give God the thing he loved the most.

Then Abraham heard a voice from heaven him to STOP and he looked and saw a ram caught by his horns in the thicket. So Abraham took the ram and offered it as a sacrifice to God

Abraham knew God and trusted Him completely — and God provided the lamb — just as Abraham had told Isaac that He would.

When we put our trust in God, He always provides.

Prayer

Dear God, help us, like Abraham, trust You fully and have faith that You will provide. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Prayer, Pastor Kathy –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do welcome the outsider;                           to comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant to all who suffer loss,                                                   who help those who suffer, who are alone, who fear tomorrow,
strength and endurance and peace,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or on-line on FB or LidgerwoodPresbyChurch.wordpress.com at this click, http://bit.ly/lpcoffering)

Expedition Song – Lilly and Johnny – Shine, Jesus, Shine! ….

After our benediction we offer a shared meal-time together: we close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

TABLE TALK      Break-out rooms

  • Talk about a time you experienced true hospitality.
  • What insights/questions does this passage raise in you?
  • Sharing our lives together

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Funk, Ferdinand; https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/113821-matthew-1040-42-hospitality-the-heart-of-discipleship

Henry, Matthew; https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mat/Mat_010.cfm?a=939038

Sermons4kids.com; Abraham and Isaac.

06/21/2020 = Matthew 10:24-39 = “Lectionary Assignments & Loving Our ‘Enemy'”

(Click HERE to find the Facebook Live video of this service – the service begins at the 27:30 and the sermon begins at the 39:30)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 10:24-39                                                                                                                  

Lectionary Assignments & Loving Our ‘Enemy’”                                                

Father’s Day, 06/21/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Happy Father’s Day everybody! I love that Spokane is known for so many different things – the largest timed race in the world (America?) – the largest 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament in the world – and the Creation of Father’s Day, celebrated around the world!

So Happy Father’s Day Spokane – and World!

This season we are preaching from The Common Lectionary – an interdenominational list of assigned Scripture readings that gets the reader through the Bible in a three-year cycle. We don’t usually do this, except during the Advent Season – but I felt led to do so during this post-Pentecost season this year.

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel may be the worst Father’s Day reading assignment possible – maybe Genesis story where Abraham sacrifices Isaac is worse (that was part of last Sunday’s Lectionary reading). But I’ll invite you to judge that – this passage is a great passage with amazing incentive – listen for God’s Good News of salvation and what that Good News does to those who believe!

One quick word about our continued worship on-line: many of you have received the Re-opening-Building-Plan via email last week – many more will receive it enclosed in the July newsletter later this week. We are hoping to start worshiping together in the church building on Sunday, July 5 – but we will still continue to livestream our worship on Zoom and FB Live. If you plan to attend on-site on July 5, we will need to hear from you, like a pre-registration – so we can properly set up and because we will be allowed limited numbers in attendance. So, please keep your eyes and ears open, and let us know your plans!

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen and join in as Lilly and Johnny lead us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 86 (all the way from Sioux Falls, SD):

Join in as Scott Lockwood sings our opening song – and listen for the Good News in the beautiful number – Rattle  

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

By the time we get to the last part of Matthew 10 we find an extended passage where Jesus is speaking mainly to His Apostles, but more generally to all His followers (include you and me all these 2,000 years later and on the other side of this planet). Matthew Henry, Bible teacher and preacher from the late-17th-early-18 centuries, calls this chapter Jesus’ “ordination sermon for His Apostles”. He says, “We have here intermixed, I. Predictions of trouble: and, II. Prescriptions of counsel and comfort….”

If you are a Follower of Jesus, listen for those predictions of trouble and prescriptions of counsel and comfort – the Good News of salvation and what that Good News does to those who believe it!

Listen to these words of “ordination” and Good News from Matthew 10:24-39 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

10 24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! [This is both meant as a comfort and a warning – Jesus was called the devil – if Him, then why not you and me?]

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [Our human enemies – whoever they are – at their worst, can only kill our bodies – that does not mean we roll over and let that happen – it means that if it does come to that, their power is limited. But there is One who holds our eternity in His hands – that’s the One we ought to fear!]

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. [Fear of God is just and right – but His love and mercy is just as potent as His power and justice – so know His love for you – He sends His Son for you, after all!]

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn [here Jesus quotes from the Old Testament Prophet Micah 7:6 – and that which might be the worst Father’s Day passage ever – but maybe not….]  (For I have come to turn)

“‘a man against his father,    a daughter against her mother,    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Who here sees any of this prediction happening in our world today? I mean, it may not all be related to our faith in Jesus Christ or the denial of that faith by those in power over us – but that doesn’t mean people don’t make it about that!

Since the middle of March (I count today as the 15th Sunday since we freely met together in one place – that’s 99 days!), we have been self-isolating and social distancing – and some Christians, in the name of Christ are declaring that we do this because we love our neighbors – other Christians decry that we have the right to assemble and we should not neglect to meet togetherfather against son, mother against daughterour “enemies” (probably too strong a word?) are members of our own households!

And since the end of May some Christians are rallying around the Black Lives Matter movement in the name of Christ – other Christians cry back that All Lives Matter (really no one’s arguing, but to say this denies the reality that Black Lives really DO Matter) in the same name of Christ!

Not peace in our world, but a sword! Is this what Jesus means?

Friends – take a step back for a minute. Put your weapons down, sheath your swords. And listen again to what Jesus is saying – to what the whole counsel of God’s Word tells us:

I have mis-quoted the late Ravi Zacharias twice this week already, so allow me to quote him correctly here (with apologies for not having the reference to point you to): “The reason we have 17,000 pages in our law books is because we cannot follow 10 lines on a tablet made of stone!” (Please, everyone has permission find and post the reference.)

In all three synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, we have some version of the same story about a lawyer and Jesus talking about which commandment is the greatest – in all three Jesus paraphrases an Old Testament summary saying, “Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got”, and then He quickly adds that the second is just like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself!

In this “ordination sermonJesus says it again in a different way – put God first, Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God”. Love the Lord your God first!!! And follow that up, immediately, with loving those around you!

When we do this, Matthew 6:33, “all your needs will be taken care of”; Matthew 10:39, “you will find your life!

The Good News in this “sermon” is that God loves you beyond measureHe knows every hair on your head (Lary – He loves you just as much as He loves Bob – this is just a metaphor)!

And what does this Good News do to those who believe it? We are vocationed into doing the same with those around us (don’t try to count their hair – just love them – fully!)  Amen.

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

What are some hobbies that people enjoy?

Reading, knitting, and photography are popular hobbies. Some people like to build things like model cars or airplanes. Others may enjoy outdoor activities like fishing or hiking.

Do you have a hobby? What’s your hobby?

Do you think God has a hobby? OK, I know the Bible doesn’t tell us that God has a hobby, but if He did, do you know what I think it might be? Bird watching! If I use my imagination, I can see God sitting in heaven with a pair of binoculars.  Perhaps He has a book with pictures of all the beautiful birds that He has created and He is trying to see how many of them he can find with His binoculars. If I really stretch my imagination, I can even hear Him saying, “There’s a Bluebird, and a Cardinal. Oh look, there’s an Eagle, a Goldfinch, and a Sparrow.” A Sparrow? Of course He would see a Sparrow, there are millions of them. You’ve seen them — common, ordinary, brown Sparrows — but God must have loved them, because He made so many of them.

One day Jesus was teaching His disciples that they should not be afraid. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid when people threaten you. Two sparrows are sold for a penny, but not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing it. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

A sparrow seems like a common bird. It has been said, “God must have loved the common people, because He made so many of them.” I don’t think that God sees us as common or ordinary. If He did, He would not love us in such an uncommon and extraordinary way! The Bible says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” We are more precious to Him than a whole flock of sparrows — and we know how much He loves the sparrow.

Prayer

Dear God, we know that we are precious in Your sight. Thank You for loving us with such an uncommon and extraordinary love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do march; to
comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant to all who suffer loss,                                                   who help those who suffer, who are alone, who fear tomorrow,
strength and endurance and peace,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or by clicking HERE)

Expedition Song – Scott Lockwood – I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever! ….

After our benediction we offer a shared meal-time together: we close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

TABLE TALK      Break-out rooms

  • Have you ever “lost” a loved one because of your faith?
  • How have your grown in faith in these last few weeks?
  • Sharing our lives together

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Henry, Matthew; https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mat/Mat_010.cfm?a=939038

Sermons4kids.com; Precious in His Sight.

06/14/2020 = Matthew 9:35-10:8 = “The Scarcity of Share-city”

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 9:35-10:8                                                                                                                                          

The Scarcity of Share-city!”                                                                                    

06/14/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

We have entered well into the season our Church Calendars officially call “Ordinary Time” – but that does not mean “Regular / Boring / Normal / Unexceptional Time”. “Ordinary” refers to the “ordered” calendar – we are in the season where the work of the Triune God is effected through the life of the Church.

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel inspires that kind of application.

Our worship today will be a little different from what we have been doing these past three months, because, today we will have pre-recorded music from some friends beyond our own congregation – so, bear with us as we try to transition from one place on our lead computer to the next place smoothly – our Call to Worship comes from the Noalnder’s home, and our music comes from one church a mile or so away and another church from across the country, and the sermon and prayers originate from my house – while it’s not all “live” today – it does all honor the Living Godwe are, after all,  baptized with water from the Living Well!

One quick word about our continued worship on-line: Our Elders have been working hard on a plan for that to happen – many of you have completed and turned in the Questionnaire you were sent – that was very helpful. You will receive a copy of our plan later this week – or attached to your July newsletter.

But for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen and join in as the Nolanders lead us in our Call to Worship: from Psalm 66:

Join in as Fellowship Church’s “Virtual Choir”  leads us in our opening song reminding us why our faith works – Way Maker  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB2X9KdDKZ8&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2l8ZOMBbJhOpir-BZPlr2nH6uP4vFCkWxuHhmyNxo-45kkulDFdRwCkhA

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

How many of you have had the pleasure of attending an on-line graduation ceremony this year? There have been a few on TV with celebrities and politicians speaking, and local high schools and colleges are doing their own during which they call out the names of their own graduates.

Today we honor graduates connected to our church (we’re only aware of three – but if you have others in your family there will be chance to put them and their photos on our screens, too).

This morning’s teaching from Matthew is like a Commencement Speech – listen to these words of challenge and Good News from Matthew’s 9:35-10:8  …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

­Did you see how this is so appropriate for our graduates – graduates from any level of education into any field of industry?! But – it is equally appropriate for any and all of us as we move from any stage of life into any next stage – including as we move from June 14 to June 15, 2020….

Jesus travels from town to town proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and healing people of their diseases – and then He tells His Apostles to go out proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and healing people of their diseases.

He does the same thing for us and with us! We encounter the risen Christ, and receive Him and believe in Him and He fills us with His Holy Spirit, empowering and enabling us to do what only God can do – as His ambassadors, as His children, as His servants, we are given the authority to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and to bring healing to those around us.

On Tuesday, our Elders recognized that the limiting instructions to not go to the Gentiles, but only to the “lost sheep of Israel” might be connected to Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s writings to “stay in Jerusalem until they are given power when the Holy Spirit comes on you – and then they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

On Thursday, our Bible study saw how Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, always started at the local synagogue before going to the God-fearers, and finally to the Gentiles.

But, even with all the restrictions in this passage, the instructions are clear: Go and proclaim the Good NewsI Peter 3:15 says to always be ready with a defense for the hope we have in Jesus Christ – and to give what we can to bring help to those in need – laborers are few, pray for the Lord of the harvest to sent workersheal – even raise the dead! – Jesus says we do this, in part, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the lonely and desperate, welcoming the stranger, praying for the enemy!!

Graduates – in whatever direction your vocation is calling you – do it to the glory of God and to serve in His purposes!

Graduates from High SchoolGraduates from collegegraduates from bed this morningthis is for you!

Why would we serve in this way? How do we serve from our faith and lives?

The very last line in today’s reading says, “Freely you have received; freely give!” We cannot give what we do not have – so when we feel depleted or empty, when we are tired and warn out, when we burn out and have nothing left – pray for the Lord of the harvest to send more workers – pray for the Holy Spirit to re-enter our lives and faith – pray for resources of joy and hope to shine light in our dark corners.

Jesus gives to us without measure and without regard to our deservedness – freely He gives. God’s generosity, as people created in the image of God and becoming more and more in Christ’s likeness, becomes our generosity!

We live in a world that feels like scarcity – we don’t have what we think we need and so we hold tight to what we have because the resources are scarce! (Think about toilet paper three months ago!)

But our faith brings us into a relationship of abundance – because we have, indeed, been given and will continue to be given, well beyond what we deserve – and when we faithfully give we will continue to be blessed beyond measure.

Salvation is freeGod’s Holy Spirit power and presence is freeGive from what God freely gives!

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

We’re going to play a game of One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.    Show kids the set of animals. 

One of these animals is not like the other. Can you guess which one? (Allow kids to guess.) That’s right. Why is the dolphin less like the dog and the horse? (Allow responses.) Let’s try again.

Show kids the set of foods.

Here are some foods and one of these things is not like the other. Can you guess which one? (Allow kids to guess.) Why is the ice cream less like the hot dog and hamburger? (Allow responses.) Let’s try again.

Show kids the set of women.

Well these are all women, aren’t they? But one of these women is not like the other. Can you guess which one? (Allow kids to guess.) 

Show kids the set of women again. 

Which of these women do you think is the mother? (Kids will most likely guess the younger women.) Which of these women is the grandmother? Why would you guess this way? (Affirm kids’ ideas.)

What if I told you that all of these women are mothers? That might really surprise you because one of these things is not like the other. One of these women is almost 100 years old! How could she be a mother? 

There’s a Bible story about a woman named Sarah. She wanted to have a baby all of her life, but it did not happen. Then one day, God told her husband that Sarah would have a baby. When Sarah heard that, she laughed out loud because she was almost 100 years old!

Listen to Genesis 18:13-14: Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

The next year, Sarah had a baby just as God had promised because God keeps His promises!

Prayer

Dear God, thank You that You always keep Your promises to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hope and Oran – make sure your Mom is sitting in front of the screen – we also have been given the names of two of our members’ grandchildren, so Barb Durham and Sandy Summers, I hope you’re close, too

And if there are other graduates connected to this church family – please share their names in just a minute – here are some photos of Colton DallaraAshley DavisKayla Summers – with the appropriate graduation pomp and circumstance to go with them –

If there are other names, and if you are on Zoom and have their photos – call out their names and hold their photos up to your cameras –

And I invite Sandy Benedetti to lead are graduates in prayer – especially for our own Ashley Davis

Grads – live in the Share-city of abundance, not the scarcity of fear – always!

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do march; to
comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant to all who suffer loss,                                                   who help those who suffer, who are alone, who fear tomorrow,
strength and endurance and peace,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

And now – call out a name, a place, a people, a situation, you are lifting to the Lord in prayer ….

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or by clicking HERE)

Expedition Song – David Dudley – whose wife pastors the Whitehill Presbyterian Church in Sanford, NC  (I met Pastor Kathryn Dudley 9 years ago at a mid-career Pastor’s Conference I attended in NC – You Are the Way! ….

After our benediction we offer a shared meal-time together: we close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

TABLE TALK      Break-out rooms

  • What questions does this Bible passage raise?
  • Stories of how God has blessed you in abundance
  • Sharing our lives together

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Fellowship Church “Virtual Choir”; Spokane, WA; 06/07/2020; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB2X9KdDKZ8&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2l8ZOMBbJhOpir-BZPlr2nH6uP4vFCkWxuHhmyNxo-45kkulDFdRwCkhA

Sermons4kids.com; Abraham Is Tested.

White Hill Presbyterian Church; Sanford, North Carolina; May 17, 2020;  https://www.facebook.com/White-Hill-Presbyterian-Church-120096851335054/?ref=search&__tn__=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARCrt36JZ61kt2-8QM0Cw92Drbsl6pKSs5qJherpw4-49rQk659O6KqXjlUECbPgBUy_b8FXDKpNvh5v

06/07/2020 = Matthew 28:16-20 = “Post Pentecost Sent”

(Click HERE to find our FB Live feed (the sermon starts at the 14-minute mark)

(Offering can be sent to 4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or click HERE)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 28:16-20                                                                                                                                           

Post Pentecost Send!”                                                                                             

06/07/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Good morning everyone, we are so glad you are with us today! Last Sunday was PENTECOST Sunday – the day we celebrate the chartering of the Lidgerwood ChurchPentecost 1907 – but as we all know, the date of Pentecost changes every year – 50 days after Easter, which is dated based on the Hebrew lunar calendar. In 1907, Pentecost Sunday was June 7 – TODAY is the actual 113th Anniversary of the chartering of OUR expression of the Church of Jesus Christ in NE Spokane, WA, USA!!  Thiiiiis is our Birthday song – it isn’t very long!

Our worship today comes from several locations, so, bear with us as we try to make this happen smoothly – our Call to Worship comes from the Davis’ home, and our music comes from Lilly Haeger, and the sermon and prayers originate from my house – all of it will be “live” today – as a way to remind us that … we are baptized with water from the Living Well!

And today is Communion Sunday – we’ll talk about that later – but if you need to gather a piece of bread or a cracker and a glass of grape juice or wine or something, please feel free to gather what you need before the sermon is done.

One quick word about our continued worship on-line: we’re getting used to it – and a little better at it – but we all wonder when it will end and when we can get back together in one place with each other. Our Elders will  meet again on Tuesday to work on a plan for that to happen – in the meantime we have sent you a Questionnaire – most of you participating in this service received this Questionnaire via email – please take the 5 minutes to answer it and hit “submit” on the bottom (do not simply REPLY to the church – follow it down to the bottom and hit “submit”) – if you need a paper copy, contact me and we’ll fill one out over the phone before Tuesday evening. We need to be aware that, even though we are nearing WA state’s Phase 3 of re-opening, it will still probably be a number of weeks for us (I am happy to answer your questions about that later). I know that some of us think all this is unconstitutional (and you may be right), our Elders are considering how we steward the resources of time, talent and treasure to the best for God’s glory – and it might be that patiently investing more time is the wiser choice for health-risk-management.

So, friends, for now, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear and be transformed by God’s Word.

Listen and join in as Ashley & Jake lead us in our Call to Worship:

Join in as Lilly leads us in our opening song reminding us where our faith finds strength – On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand – this song invites us into God’s heart!

Through the Written Word, 

And our spoken word,

May we know Your Living Word, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the liturgical calendar, the Church year, today holds the distinction of calling to mind the Holy Trinity. We can all name the Three “persons’ named in the Triune GodFather, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Seven days ago we commemorated the gift of the Holy Spirit’s in-filling of the people of the Church – so our good church fathers warranted that we needed to remember that there is still the Father and the Son, before we got too far down the Holy Spirit road! So, Trinity Sunday was “invented”.

One of the last things Jesus, the killed and resurrected Son of God, said before He ascended to His throne with His Father, is what we read today – the final words in Matthew’s Gospel Account, 28:16-20 …. —- [The screen will show this passage.]

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nationsbaptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We know this passage as “the Great Commission”. We are “commissioned” as followers of Jesus to:

  • Go
  • Make disciples
  • Of all nations
  • Baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit – the Trinity

 Marching orders from Jesus our Lord to Go!

          The Book of Acts, written by the same man who wrote the Gospel According to Luke, tells us (1:8), “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God sends His Son, His Son sends His followers, empowered by the Hoy Spirit. (That’s Trinitarian talk!)

Our purpose in being sent is to Make disciples! We often think of this as simply sharing our faith so others might hear the Good News of Jesus – but it’s not just “decisions to follow Jesus”, it is “disciples” we are charged with making. A “disciple” simply means “follower”. As followers of Jesus, our job is to make more followers of JesusDisciple-making – more than mere new ChristiansChristians who actually follow Jesus in their faith.

Go, Make disciples, of Every Nation! We know John 3:16, “God, the Father, so loves the whole world, that He sent His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”; and we read in the opening lines of Luke’s Gospel (2:10-11), “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.’

Go, Make disciples, of Every Nation, Baptizing in the Name of the Triune God!

That is the simple reading of this all-important passage. But how do we do what it says? How do we fulfill that “great commission”?

There are a multitude of sermons to address that question, so today allow me a few minutes to answer from the angle of the Trinity and from one perspective we can each act on as we watch the news this evening.

There are several days on the Church Calendar that properly focus the attention on the SonChristmas, His birth, and Easter, His resurrection, among them. And many of us have, in these last few years, bemoaned the Political Correctness which tells us not to say Merry Christmas because we might offend non-Christians – so what do we say? “Merry Christmas! Anyway!

I do not disagree with that sentiment – if a Jewish person tells me “Happy Hanukkah” or a Muslim says “Happy Eid” I am not offended. Right? “Happy Holidays”, while sort of antiseptic, doesn’t bother me either. So, I’ll usually say, “Merry Christmas!

Do you think God the Father takes offense to that? Are the Holy Spirit’s feelings hurt when we say “Happy Easter”? Allow me to mix it up just a little – will most women be offended in two weeks when their men are wished a “Happy Father’s Day”?

Of course not. When the Son is honored, the Father is honored. When we pray to Godour Father who art in heaven”, His Holy Spirit is included in that praise! That’s why Trinity Sunday became a thing! To remind us that God is Triune – and to teach us that all year long, whenever we praise one person of the Trinity, the whole Trinity is lifted up!

Now for a faithful application: In today’s world, what we are experiencing across the country last month, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and just this past Wednesday, Manuel Ellis, one way for us to Go, Make disciples, of All peoples, baptizing in the Triune God, is to stand with our neighbors who hurt, who are scared, and who have 300-years of history that confirm their hurt and fear. Pray for people of color. Shop from Black owned businesses. March in a rally.

Say that Black Lives Matter – I included this with little trepidation because I know it stirs up emotions. After a couple days of debating with myself, I decided to use the Black Lives Matter frame on my Facebook Profile Pic – knowing some of my white friends would be offended. Almost immediately, a High School classmate commented that “2,000 years ago it was decided – Christ died for ALL – ALL Lives Matter”. And that used to be me, too. But honestly – if ALL Lives Matter, doesn’t that include Black Lives? And what is wrong with highlighting Black Lives during a day when Blacks are expressing our need for justice?! If you say, “Save the Whales!”, that doesn’t mean you don’t care about other sea life, or other endangered species – it simply means you’re emphasizing the Whales today! If I say that I like Cherry Cheesecake, that does not mean that I think Cherry Pie is disgusting or that Cherry Cobblers should be thrown out! It simply means I think Cherry Cheesecake is delicious!

If my child is being bullied in school and I go to the Principal with a plan to protect my own child from harassment – that does not mean that I think other children should be bullied!  But it’s my child that is affected right now! Black Lives Matter! Yes, of course All Lives Matter – but that must mean that Black Lives Matter, too!

My friend and colleague, the Rev. Jamie Fiorino, says, “I am a Christian first and a Presbyterian pastor second. That means I strive to live my life according to the Word of God first. That Jesus guy … says I am to love my neighbor, to work for justice in the world, to speak out for the stranger and the unloved, and to forgive when my feelings (or my property) get hurt.

And because I’m Presbyterian, I adhere my practice of faith to a code of understanding outlined in The Book of Order. (And you do, too, if you’re PCUSA!) In it, we confess together that: ‘God sends the Church to work for justice in the world:
exercising its power for the common good;
dealing honestly in personal and public spheres;
seeking dignity and freedom for all people;
welcoming strangers in the land;
promoting justice and fairness in the law;
overcoming disparities between rich and poor;
bearing witness against systems of violence and oppression;
and redressing wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples…. Through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper we are united with Christ, made one in the Spirit, and empowered to break down the dividing walls of hostility that still separate us from one another. We confess our participation in unjust systems, pray for an end to violence and injustice, offer our gifts to support Christ’s liberating work, and commit ourselves to pursue peace and justice in Jesus’ name” (W-5.0304.)

GoMake disciples – of All Peoplesbaptizing in the Triune God! We do that when we bravely love All People with God’s love! Don’t take offense – when one under-protected people is lifted up, all of us are honored together… Amen.

As we move into a time of prayer together – let me talk with our kids for a minute – all-y’all can listen in:

If your Mom or Dad printed out the Children’s Bulletin for you – you can see it’s about how God created everything there is.

The very first words in the Bible tell us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Then the Bible goes on to tell about God’s creation.

The first thing God created was light. The Bible tells us that God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

Then God made a space to separate the earth from the heavens. He called it “sky.” And God said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

Next, God made the oceans and the seas and the dry land between them. Then He covered the dry land with flowers, trees, and grass. And God said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

He created the sun, moon, and stars. They were beautiful! God looked at them, and again He said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.” )

Then God created the birds and fish. He blessed them and told them to multiply so that the sea would be filled with fish and the air would be filled with beautiful birds. God looked at them, smiled, and said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

Finally, God made all the other animals. Tall, skinny giraffes and furry little squirrels. He made cuddly little kittens and big, ferocious lions — animals of every kind. And God said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

 Then God made man and woman. The Bible says He made people to be like Him and He put them in charge of all that He had created — the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living creature. And God said… (Have all kids say, “It was good.”)

Wait a second – that’s not right – after making people – scientists think the very first people were Black people – He said, “That is VERY GOOD!” (Have all kids say, “It was very good.”)

Prayer

God we thank You that You alone are Creator. You are powerful and so creative. Thank You for making us, every single one of us, of every color of skin, in Your image and calling that Creation very good. Amen.

Prayer –  Almighty God, You have revealed to Your Church Your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for You live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

That it may please You to have mercy upon all mankind,
                 We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to fill
us with the grace of Your Holy Spirit to transform our lives
according to Your Holy Word,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to strengthen such as do march; to
comfort and help the weary; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please You to grant to all who suffer loss,                                                   who help those who suffer, who are alone, who fear tomorrow,
strength and endurance and peace,
                  We ask You to hear us, good Lord.

Heavenly Father, we ask You to hear us;

Son of God, we ask You to hear us;      

Holy Spirit, we ask You to hear us.

[Lord’s Prayer]  Amen.

Offering (4449 N Nevada St, Spokane, 99207 ; or click HERE)

Friends, today we experience something that is still brand new to the whole Christian Community – I mean, this the third time we’ve done this, but we are the first generation to wrestle with this as a possible thing to do – On-line Communion.

There has been much debate – over the theology and over the practical praxis of – celebrating the Communion meal … while not in actual communion with each other.

So, to set the record for us – we are still in an unusual life-circumstance wherein keeping distant from each other is the wise option for health – so this will be an unusual, irregular, and not-to-be-made-normal practice.

Virtual Communion” draws from something in the past (the actual sharing of Communion that we have previously experienced) and looks forward to something in the future (the restoration of this practice once the present constraints are relaxed).

This should remind us that our usual practices have exactly the same status!

And we look forward to something even much greater—a feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, where our sharing is not just a morsel, but a fully satisfying abundant feast on God and all His abundant goodness with all of creation. Today, in our homes, or when we are restored back to our Christian communities, we experience a mere foretaste of a much fuller reality.

What matters here is not what we offer to God, but what God offers to us, His whole people, of every color, gathered together, to receive both Christ and “all the abundance of His Passion” as we remember Him in bread and the cup.

So … from geographically afar, but in Christ, gathered in His name over our phones, tablets and computers … using whatever elements we might have in our own homes …

Join Linda as she leads us in prayer – the words will appear on your screens in just a moment – we’ll keep you muted, but please feel free to pray along with Linda:

Holy God, hear our prayer:

For the mending of our hearts, torn apart by unkindness;

For the healing of our souls,

wasting away from the despair around us;

For the forgiveness we seek for the sin

we have allowed to persist;

For the reconciliation of the world,

whose divisions condemn us;

We pray for the courage to admit our fault,

the strength to amend our actions,

and the hope that Your grace awaits us.

Through Christ Jesus we pray.   Amen.

As Christ sat in that Upper Room, with His disciples, He took the simplest elements of the Passover Meal and made them far more powerfully meaningful.

Follow-along with me, [hit the like button or click the <3] with whatever simple elements you have in your home, something like bread, and something like wine or grape juice –

Jesus took the “bread”, and He blessed it and broke it, and said, “This is my Body broken for you, every time you eat of this, do so in memory of me” – as we receive the gift of broken bread, “together”, receive also Jesus as the true resurrection and the life….

And He took “the cup”, gave thanks and blessed it, saying “this cup is the Cup of Redemption, the New Covenant, my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins, every time you drink of this, do so in memory of me” – He also said that He would “not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He sees us in Paradise” – so we look forward to when we shall do this together in person, face-to-face again, and even more-so in the Heavenly Kingdom, face-to-face with Jesus Himself! – as we receive the gift of “this” cup poured out, receive also Christ’s abundant love and the cup that runneth over of God’s abundance for all!

Expedition Song – Lilly  – Leaning on the Everlasting Arms! ….

After our benediction we offer a shared meal-time together: we close with this benediction that we are repeating every week of the Easter Season. Repeat after me:

We know Jesus is present among us… [repeat]

even in this very home… [repeat]

We will not let fear be louder than love… [repeat]

but with glad hearts and rejoicing souls… [repeat]

we will sing God’s praise… [repeat]

for we are Pentecost People…! [repeat]

TABLE TALK      Break-out rooms

  • Racial divides and reconciliation
  • How to “go out with the Gospel”
  • Sharing our lives together

Resources

Book of Common Prayer, Online; bcponline.org; Litany 151.

Fiorino, Jamie; Facebook post; June 1, 2020.

Sermons4kids.com; The Creation.

June 2020 Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church Newsletter

The Ledger    monthly newsletter of Lidgerwood Presbyterian ChurchJune   2020

Blessing Does Not

Require a Building

In this Ledger article from the Pastor, I want to highlight a number of ministry events coming to our Church this month – and one that may take a little longer.

  1. May 31, the last Sunday of May, is Pentecost Sunday – and yes, I know this is the June Ledger, but you will receive this before June 1, so I want to remind us that Pentecost is LPC’s 113th Birthday (we were chartered on Pentecost 1907)! Wear RED as we “gather” on Zoom and Facebook Live, and light up those computer, telephone and TV screens!
  2. Worship has been different, hasn’t it? We miss actually driving/walking to the church building and finding “our seat” and being together! Thankfully, we live in 2020 when we have such things as telephones and computers and internet creating a different way to “gather”. Good news here: Our Internet Zoom link will remain the same every Sunday, as will the telephone numbers to call in: 1-253-215-8782, Meeting ID 879-7537-2402 #, Password 009031 #. Please feel free to share these numbers and internet links with your friends and family. The Zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87975372402?pwd=anZobFVvRDVZVGxwVGlXaHcySGlnUT09 . We also meet on Facebook Live at: www.facebook.com/LidgerwoodPresbyterianChurch/
  3. Graduation Celebration Day is June 14! Please send information regarding graduates in your family – photos are also welcome! While our celebration will be on-line – we really want to honor our grads!

4) Father’s Day lands on June 21 – wear your plaidiest plaid in honor of Dad as we “gather” for worship.

5) Thursday Bible Studies are meeting each week at 10:00am, using Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87418417596?pwd=R2lNc2RmLzVWRmlNWjVzbnhWN2xEZz09 , or by phone: 1-253-215-8782, Meeting ID 874-1841-9596 #, Passowrd 013466 #.

6) And lastly, our Elders meet on Tuesday, May 26, to design a plan for how/when/why we re-open our church building for worship and other ministry events. This plan will still be in flux, because so much depends on our doctors and scientists developing vaccines and our ability to meet safely together. But, in conjunction with Washington’s Four-Phase plan, here are some questions which will direct our discussion:

  • What are our congregation’s demographics – who are we, age, underlying health issues, etc?
  • How do we monitor masks and proper “social distancing”? and for how long?
  • How do we properly sanitize our facility?
  • How do we maintain “contact tracing” if an outbreak occurs?
  • What will we be doing differently – communion, bulletins, singing, etc – when we re-open?

All of this to say – until we can meet safely, we will continue to recognize that the Church is NOT the building – and we can be blessed and be a blessing without meeting together – until we can!      

God bless you!                                       Mark

Easter Cantata – “He Lives!”

We missed our Easter Sunday Cantata on Resurrection Sunday this year – and we are now way past when we thought we might celebrate, but we know that  “every morning is Easter morning, from now on – every day is Resurrection Day, the past is over and gone” (Avery & Marsh, 1972)!

Our Cantata Choir has worked hard to bring us and to sing aloud the Good News that

“He Lives!”

so you can rest assured that we will celebrate with this Cantata some time in 2020

(that’s a faith statement) – we are thinking Christmas-time! So be prepared to honor our risen Lord every day until we see Him face-to-face!

Reading through the Bible

     Even during this pandemic lock-down, maybe especially during this, we can take advantage of the extra time at home to read through the bible in a year.

     It requires approximately 3-chapters-a-day to do this (if you have not yet started, but want to, in June and July read 18-chapters-a-day to catch up, or 6-chapters-a-day through the end of the year).

     By June 1, you should be finishing Job.

LPC’s Day-2-Pray – June 2

   This month we pray for the Media.  Especially during this pandemic, we invite you to invest 5-minutes in prayer (or more): 

     Invest 5 minutes on Tuesday, June 2, praying for the greater Spokane region. Pray from your home, your office, your car, your bed.

If you are on Facebook, ask to join the Lidgerwood Church Group page and put your prayers right there for us to pray with you (only group-members can see this page).

Join “Spokane Prays” event, 11am-12:30pm: www.eventbrite.com/e/spokane-prays-prayer-event-tickets-102313229624?aff=ebdssbeac 

Condolences

The month of May was a hard month for the LPC family. On May 6 we lost long-time member and humble servant leader Loreen Birge, and on May 18 we lost our tap-dancing, harmonica-playing sweet friend Marguerite Haverfield.

Memorial services will happen when we are allowed to gather together again. Keep your eyes and ears open. Prayers for their families and our hearts.

Trivia Question

     Lidgerwood turns 113 years old on Pentecost – how many years (used to be annually, has been biennially since 2004) has some form of our denomination been holding General Assemblies?

Grad’s Day & Father’s Day

     June 14 we will honor our GRADUATES during worship – grads from every level of scholastic institution! Since there were no public “walking” ceremonies this year, we want to make a bigger deal of our graduates in our Zoom Worship.

      Please Pastor Mark know of the grads in your family ASAP! Send an electronic photo if you have one. The sooner the better!!

      June 21 is Father’s Day, and we will honor our dads by wearing the plaidest-plaid we can find!

Adult Faith Class on Sundays

The fourth Sunday of every month, 9-10:15am, we hold a Faith Class for all adults. Right now we are using a video curriculum from Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ book and movie. It’s never too late to join us!

We will try this via Zoom on May 24 and June 26. This will be included in the Worship Zoom invitation.

Pentecost Sunday

     It appears that we will not yet be in the church building by the end of this month – which is Pentecost Sunday (and LPC’s 113th Birthday!)! Our normal tradition is to dress in red and celebrate God’s Holy Spirit presence together. This year, we are still celebrating all of that – wear red and be ready to thank our heavenly Father for His Holy Spirit gift which fills us and empowers us to be His people!

     May 31 – 50 days after Easter – Pentecost Sunday!

CEO:Mission

     Pastor Mark’s trip to Kenya has been put on hold for now.  But we expect the groundbreaking of the not-yet built orphan facilities to still take place – we will be present via Facebook Live!

     Supporting this mission by regular or occasional donations is also deeply needed and appreciated! And more and more orphans could use a sponsor! Talk to Mark about any of these options.

Upper Room Devotionals

     The May-June Upper Rooms are here. If you would like one mailed to you, please let the church office know – and let us know if you need the Large Print version. Offer good while supplies last.

Future Church Learning

While this notice has not changed with the quarantine times, we hope to keep the idea fully active!

  • When we go out to eat, tell our server we are about to say grace, and ask if there’s something they would like us to pray for them. Simple, right? Courageously show our faith by engaging with a server and offering Jesus’ love by praying. Then reflect on how this changes us as well.
  • Pray for our neighborhood communities – what we notice, what we hear about, what we see in the news; and then act on those prayers – invite a neighbor over for coffee, send a card, offer a service, etc.

Finance Update **

Also, please remember our Special Fund Drives for our Child Empowerment Outreach mission:

  • Ongoing ministry support for the orphans.   “Kenya Children” on memo-line.
  • Sponsoring a child through CEO:Mission.

There’s a Ground-breaking trip planned in July. Is this something you might consider?

Up: Our relationship with God – worship, Bible study, Sunday School

    In: Our relationship with one another – fellowship, games, food, support, Deacons

        Out: Our relationship with our community – food pantry, Pastor’s fund, dinners, etc

             Further Out: Our relationship beyond Spokane – CEO, Kenya, audio Bibles, etc

Administration & Communication: Monthly newsletter, weekly bulletins, copier, etc    Facility maintenance, etc.: Our facilities, buildings, van, parking area, equipment, are tools for furthering the work of ministry.

YOU ALL HAVE BEEN AMAZINGLY FAITHFUL throughout this time “away”!! God bless you!

** This edition of the Ledger is printed with two Sundays left, and no salaries yet paid. Note that in April we went almost $1300 in the black, and at this writing we are still there!

       Our Church Office is functioning at its bare minimal hours and staff, but the work is still being done from our remote locations (homes).

On-Line Giving

With the inability to meet on Sundays for the last few months (and maybe for the next several), we have instituted a way to give on-line. If you get this Ledger electronically, you can just click on this LINK. If you get this in hard-copy but have internet access, go to http://bit.ly/lpcoffering.

Of course, mailing your check to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, 4449 N Nevada St., Spokane, WA  99207 still works just fine!

Thank you for your faithful giving!

Trivia Answer

The 2020 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meets from June 20 to June 27, for the 224th time (that means we started in 1789)! Pastor Mark was our Presbytery’s Commissioner in 2010, and Caitlin Wheeler was our Presbytery’s Youth Advisory Delegate that same year. (This year, Sandy Benedetti’s daughter, Rev, Sara Benedetti, is her Presbytery’s Zoom Commissioner!)