Saturday, July 18, 2020

July 19, 2020


First Presbyterian Churches of 
Paris and Deport, Texas 
10:00 a.m. 

GREETINGS and Announcements 

OPENING SENTENCES 
Surely the Lord is in this place!Gen. 28:16-17 
This is the house of God 

Trusting in the word of life given in baptism, we are gathered in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Amen 

CALL TO WORSHIP (responsive) 
God has searched and knows us. 
God knows when we sit down and when we rise up. 
God searches out our path and our lying down. 
God is acquainted with all our ways. 
Before a word is on our tongues, God knows it. 
God’s hand is ever available to guide us. 
Such knowledge is a wonder to us. 
It is beyond anything we can attain. 
We cannot escape from God’s spirit. 
There is nowhere to flee from God’s presence. 
Darkness is as light to our God. 
God illuminates the way before us. 

PRAYER OF THE DAY (in unison) 

Search us, O God, and know our hearts. Test us and know our thoughts. We gather with eager longing to know you, ever-present God, and to be known by you. We want to live as your beloved children. Assure us in these mpments that you hear our prayers, even as your will is revealed to us. Fill our dreams and our waking hours with radiant hope. May every time of encounter move us to awe and fervent worship.  Lead us in your way everlasting.  Amen. 



CALL TO CONFESSION 

When we run away from our problems, we discover that we cannot run away from ourselves. Yet God is present with us to hear our confessions and offer forgiveness. God brings us back to face what we have left behind in order that we may claim the promise of reconciliation and wholeness. 


PRAYER OF CONFESSION   (in unison) 

Search us and test us, that all wickedness may be purged from us. O Creator. Save us from our futile striving after our own advantage. Reshape our will to conform with your intentions for us. We confess that we have allowed weeds to grow in our lives. Our focus has drifted from the harvest you intend to the fears and greed that hold us hostage. Release us from bondage to decay that we may grow in likeness to Jesus Christ. We want to bear fruit for you. Turn us to the brightness of a new day   Amen 

Silence Prayer and Confession 

ASSURANCE OF GOD’S PARDON 

If by the Spirit we put to death the misue of our bodies, we will live. We are set free from bondage to death to claim the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Live in the hope God offers, waiting with patience for all that God will yet reveal. You will shine like the sum in the realm of God, who leads us in the way everlasting. 


*GLORY BE TO THE FATHER 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;                                                                            
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world  
without end.  Amen. Amen. 


PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION  

Ever-present God, to whom each of us is fully known, and before whom we bow in awe, grant that we may live as children of your realm, listening to for your word, responding to your call, and following the way of Christ. Inspire us to witness to your glory, bear fruit to benefit all of your children, and grow together in light and love, that all the world may come to know you and honor your reign. 
Amen 

LISTEN FOR THE WORD OF GOD        

OLD TESTAMENT READING: Genesis 28:10-19a 

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place--and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first  

THE GOSPEL READING  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43  
He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. Anthe slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "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. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom 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. Let anyone with ears listen! 



SERMON  Jane Els  
Our reading today is from 
Romans 8:12-25 
I will use Eugene Peterson’s paraphrasing of the Bible called The Message today.  While it is not a translation of the bible and not as accurate as a translation might be, it does capture the essence of the bible’s message in cases like this one where Paul sometimes gets his words garbled and is difficult to understand. 

In this instance Paul has been speaking of the Torah and the old laws and has been referring to following the laws as the “do-it-yourself” life as opposed to Jesus’ salvation.   

Listen now for the word of God: 

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent 
There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. 
The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life 

God’s Spirit beckons.  
There are things to do and places to go!  
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.  
It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”  
God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. 
 We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children 
And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. 
 If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!  
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. 
 The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. 
 Everything in creation is being more or less held back. 
 God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. 
 Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.  
All around us we observe a pregnant creation.  
The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. 
 But it’s not only around us; it’s within us.  
The Spirit of God is arousing us within.  
We’re also feeling the birth pangs.  
These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  
That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  
We are enlarged in the waiting.  
We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. 
 But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.  
 
This ends the reading of the word.  Let us pray. 
O, God, please let the words of my mouth make some sense to us all today and be acceptable to you.  Amen. 

I have written sermons in the last two weeks on the passages that come just before our scripture for today and they have a sort of flow to them.  Two weeks ago the topic was sin and how we distance ourselves from God in sin.  Last week we looked at how we can connect to God through Christ .  In a Christ-connected life there is little room for sin.  So, today we get to rejoice in that idea and move forward to what Eugene Peterson phrases so beautifully, “What’s next, Papa?” 

So let me set the stage for you a little bit.  Paul is writing this letter from Corinth.  He has never visited Rome but intends to.  It’s about 52 years after the crucifixion and the church is getting established.  The Jews who have become believers in Jesus as the Messiah have grown into a pretty rowdy bunch and caused enough of a religious commotion that Emperor Claudius expelled them from Rome in 49 AD.  Now it’s 4 years later and some of them have returned but have found that now there are a new kind of Christian in Rome as well:  Gentile Christians!  This poses a problem of sorts because now they get into some of those arguments churches know so well: like the color of the carpeting except this time it was over whether a man needed to be circumcised in order to become Christian.   

This background is important to know because it’s the reason Paul spends some time talking about the concept of adoption.  And the “life you received from God” and being children of God.” The Message version of this passage doesn’t use it so much but most translations of this passage use the word adoption” a lot because Paul’s intention in the book of Romans was to reassure the Gentiles that they were equal to the Jewish Christians. He talks about God as a parent and the parent-child relationship.  Paul wants both the Jewish-born and Gentile-born Christians to know that God loves them as a Mother would love her children, as a Father would love his children.  

Then once he levels the playing field he is ready to get moving.  He tells them that “The Spirit of God is arousing us within.” 

It’s almost like Paul had been quarantined for four months and finally been allowed to sit in his regular pew in church again. Can you relate? 
“These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting deminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” 

So, I ask you now: “What have you been enlarged with in your waiting?”   

I know that you are joyful to be here and worshiping in the open.  What have you done with yourselves in last four months and what will you do with it? 

Paul uses the terms for pregnancy in this passage.  He speaks of birth pangs.  He clearly expects something to happen.  Something good.  He asks, “What’s next Papa?”   

I had a wonderful father.  He had his faults, as all earthly fathers do, but I loved spending time with him.  And whenever I got time alone with my father –usually on Saturday mornings—it was always wonder-filled and fun times.  I can still remember the feelings I had of being alone with my Daddy.  And he always had something exciting to do and would let me tag along with him.  He would look at me with a gleam in his eye and ask, “Do you want to open up a keg of nails with me?”  I don’t know where that phrase came from or if anybody other than my daddy ever used it but to me that meant some sort of magic was about to happen.  It meant some glorious project was ahead.  He called me his “little Partner” and invited me to tag along with him for the day. 

God asks us every morning if we want to open up a keg of nails. We have had four months of quiet time alone with God.  Wknow now that we probably won’t go back to life as we knew it before with a bang.  We will probably have more quiet time ahead.  But we do know a few things:  (1) We have a heavenly Creator who understands birth pangs.  (2) Who wants to enlarge us (3) and who will be with us through the birth of what comes of this quiet, quarantine, time of processing who we are and who God created us to be.   

God is in this pandemic with us.  Walking with us, helping us birth something new…..even in the midst of uncountable and tragic deaths.  Even in the sadness.   As Paul said, “we are enlarged in the waiting.”  

God has chosen us to partner with God in caring for the Creation and God’s people.  God invites us to tag along every day.  All we have to do is wake up each day and ask, “What’s next, Papa?” Then hold on to your hat because you don’t know where that is liable to take you.  

Let us pray. 

God, the joyful anticipation deepens.  All around us we observe a pregnant creation. And we are enlarged in the waiting.  Some days are difficult labor pains and some days filled with the joys of new birth. We long to follow you.  Give us courage for the dark days.  And accept our thanks for the delightful and delicious days.  Amen.  


APOSTLES’ CREED  
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. 

Giving of Tithes and Offerings 

We are debtors to God, who has given us the precious gift of life. We were created of good seed in God’s own image that we might bear fruit for God’s realm. We have the capacity to dream and envision a better world, free of the sin that so often seems to choke out the good. Through our offerings we give support to our common mission. 

Doxology        ‘Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow’    

Prayer of Dedication 

Thank you, God, for the rich heritage of faith we have received from our ancestors. We are grateful that your Spirit is ever with us, assuring us of your acceptance and love. May our offerings share this good news with other children of God who have not yet discovered their identity. May all of us grow in righteousness that we might together experience the reality of your realm in our daily lives, here and now for all eternity. Amen  

JOYS AND CONCERNS 

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION 
Friends in Christ, God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothersas dear to us as our own needs. Loving our neighbors as ourselves,we offer our thanksgivings and our petitionson behalf of the church and the world. Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb,that we may desire you as the fullness of lifeand proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord who taught us to pray;  Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever.  
Amen. 

CHARGE AND BLESSINGS 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 13:13 
the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  

Amen. 




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