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WELCOME

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

                 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

            This I declare about the Lord:  He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

*HYMN OF PRAISE                                                                                   #266

“Softly and Tenderly”

               

*INVOCATION (the Lord’s Prayer)        Merciful Father, as we gather in this place, draw us into your presence with such clarity that we will be transformed. May we honor your purposes and speak words of faith authentically from within our hearts that we may offer the glory due your name.

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.

*GLORIA PATRI

*PSALM FOR TODAY                                                       Psalm 63:1-8 (NRSV) 

1O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

3Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

4So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips

6when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

CHOIR 

SCRIPTURE READING                               Isaiah 55:1-9 (NRSV)   

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. 6Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.                                                                                                OFFERING TO GOD          nations of the world, recognize the Lord; recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.  8Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts.[1]

*DOXOLOGY

*PRAYER OF DEDICATION Eternal Lord, the one upon whom we depend for our everyday necessities, teach us how to spend—and how to be spent—for the greater good. Grant that in losing our selfish traits we will discover the true riches of life.

                  

*HYMN OF PRAYER     insert   “Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days”

PASTORAL PRAYER

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord…" Jeremiah 29:11-14a                 

Praise God for... seminary students, as they prepare for whatever ministry God may call them to.

Ask God for... active renewal and revival in American Baptist churches and our denomination.

Thank God for... always meeting our needs in abundance when we are abundant in giving to support the work of ministry.

Healing for... those who are facing significant health concerns in days ahead.

 

there is something about a sun-filled day that calls forth celebration in each of us. All experience of this creation awakens in us praise for the Creator. Our constant prayer echoes that of the psalmist: “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. In them He has set a tent for the sun which comes forth like a strong man to run its course with joy.” / So remind us, that there is still work to be done, there are still the shadowy places in our world and in ourselves, where the light has not yet penetrated. We lend ourselves to the task of being bearers of the light of the warmth of God’s love. / Shine forth in those places where the clouds of doubt, fear, or uncertainty would obscure your warming beams—in hospital rooms, in courtrooms, in congressional hearing rooms, and in all places where life’s troubles are confronted by our brothers and sisters. Help each of us to brighten the corner where we are and, in doing so, to be faithful to the challenge of our Lord. The light does shine in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it. All this we pray in the name of Christ, our Lord, who said, “I am the Light.”—Robert Morley

*HYMN OF PRAISE            #480           “Rescue the Perishing”

Scripture Text                                                                     Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)

Repent or Perish

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

                                  

MESSAGE                                         Turn Around                            Rev. Esther Irish

A Political Question about Justice (Luke 13:1–9)

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, did not get along with the Jews because he was insensitive to their religious convictions. For example, he brought the official Roman ensigns into Jerusalem and infuriated the Jews who resented having Caesar’s image in the Holy City. Pilate threatened to kill the protestors and they were willing to die! Seeing their determination, the governor relented and moved the ensigns to Caesarea, but that did not stop the hostilities.

The atrocity mentioned in Luke 13:1 may have taken place when Pilate “appropriated” money from the temple treasury to help finance an aqueduct. A large crowd of angry Jews gathered in protest; so Pilate had soldiers in civilian clothes mingle with the mob. Using concealed weapons, the soldiers killed a number of innocent and unarmed Jews, and this only added to the Jews’ hatred for their governor. //

Since Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, anything He said about Pilate was sure to get there before Him. If He ignored the issue, the crowd would accuse Him of being pro-Roman and disloyal to His people. If He defended the Jews and accused Pilate, He would be in trouble with the Romans, and the Jewish leaders would have a good excuse to get Him arrested.

Our Lord moved the whole issue to a higher level and avoided politics completely. Instead of discussing Pilate’s sins, He dealt with the sins of the people questioning Him. He answered their question by asking a question!

To begin with, He made it clear that human tragedies are not always divine punishments and that it is wrong for us to “play God” and pass judgment. Job’s friends made this mistake when they said that Job’s afflictions were evidence that he was a sinner. If we take that approach to tragedy, then we will have a hard time explaining the sufferings of the Prophets and Apostles, and even of our Lord Himself.

“How would you explain the deaths of the people on whom the tower in Siloam fell?” He asked. “That was not the fault of Pilate. Was it God’s fault? Shall we blame Him? The eighteen who were killed were just doing their job, yet they died. They were not protesting or creating trouble.”

When the blind English poet John Milton was old and obscure, he was visited one day by Charles II, son of the king that the Puritans had beheaded. “Your blindness is a judgment from God for the part you took against my father,” said the king. Milton replied, “If I have lost my sight through God’s judgment, what can you say of your father who lost his head?”  //

Jesus went on to show the logical conclusion of their argument: if God does punish sinners in this way, then they themselves had better repent because all men are sinners! The question is not, “Why did these people die?” but, “What right do you have to live?” None of us is sinless, so we had all better get prepared.

It is easier to talk about other people’s deaths than it is to face our own sin and possible death. The American publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst would not permit anyone to mention death in his presence, yet he died. I asked a friend of mine what the death rate was in his city, and he replied, “One apiece.” Then he added, “People are dying who never died before.” ///

According to Leviticus 19:23–25, fruit from newly planted trees was not eaten the first three years, and the fourth year the crops belonged to the Lord. A farmer would not get any figs for himself until the fifth year, but this man had now been waiting for seven years! No wonder he wanted to cut down the fruitless tree!

The parable has an application to individuals and to the nation of Israel. God is gracious and long-suffering toward people (2 Peter 3:9) and does more than enough to encourage us to repent and bear fruit (Matt. 3:7–10). He has had every right to cut us down, but in His mercy, He has spared us. Yet we must not presume upon the kindness and long-suffering of the Lord, for the day of judgment will finally come.

But the tree also reminds us of God’s special goodness to Israel (Isa. 5:1–7; Rom. 9:1–5) and His patience with them. God waited three years during our Lord’s earthly ministry, but the nation did not produce fruit. He then waited about forty years more before He allowed the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and the temple; and during those years, the church gave to the nation a powerful witness of the Gospel message. Finally, the tree was cut down.

It is significant that the parable was “open-ended,” so that the listeners had to supply the conclusion. Did the tree bear fruit? Did the special care accomplish anything? Was the tree spared or cut down? We have no way to know the answers to these questions, but we can answer as far as our own lives are concerned! Again, the question is not “What happened to the tree?” but “What will happen to me?”

God is seeking fruit. He will accept no substitutes, and the time to repent is NOW. The next time you hear about a tragedy that claims many lives, ask yourself, “Am I just taking up space, or am I bearing fruit to God’s glory?” [2]

I wonder why Jesus would build this elaborate verbal scaffolding to urge repentance on hearers who seem oblivious to what a day might bring forth unless repentance is the most important experience of life. One reason, I’m sure, is that he wanted to draw attention to the window of opportunity set  in the middle of unpredictable issues of life. Hopefully, the question of urgency will be answered as we seek to understand better what Jesus had in mind for the word repentance.

I. Repentance is not reforming behavior.

The word repentance has suffered so much radical treatment that one needs to decide whether these multiple meanings and various uses are near to what Jesus was calling people to do. There has been so much ambiguity and distortion built into the usage of the word that it may be, at times, merely a part of our religious jargon.

One of the strong forces that shaped much of the contemporary use of repentance to mean “reformation” was the Age of Enlightenment. The human problem in this context was seen as a falling short of ethical standards borne witness to in the heart. The real need, therefore, was a behavioral change, and this behavioral change was defined as “repentance.”

Among those of the Enlightenment, there was suspicion of any notion that help was available from any source beyond the human mind. This inspired a new confidence that reason alone could uncover the wisdom that God had hidden in his created world. This, of course, subtly accelerated the distortion of repentance, as Jesus and John the Baptizer used it, because the actual meaning is “to change the mind.” And one would hope that a change in behavior would be a consequence.                                                                               

Another shaping force in the misunderstanding of repentance is contemporary evangelical preaching that issues an invitation for unbelievers to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. I believe in evangelism; but when a person hears “Repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus”

generally, what the person in the pew understands is “stop sinning” or “don’t sin anymore.” If that were possible (1 John 1:10), and the sequence of actions asked for were real, then why would the hearer need Jesus? Likely, nothing else has caused converts to expect too much and then later become so confused and disillusioned when they falter and betray what they believe is the deal they made with the Lord. In the initial experience it is unlikely that the convert is aware of those sins that sleep forgotten in unmarked graves but will eventually awake to be dealt with! Usually, when a person is saved, that person becomes aware of sins that were on their blind side before. How could those sins be forsaken in some instantaneous repentance?

The Bible seems to know nothing about dismissing sins carte blanche, nor does it offer support for sinless perfection. Behavior was only secondary to the impediment that Jesus had in mind when he issued his call for repentance. ////

II. Repentance is a transformation of mental allegiance.

As the centuries rolled by, each Jewish worshiper went to the Temple to offer sacrifices for his sins. Once a year the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. This was repeated countless times. This approach to making atonement for sins had worn deep grooves in the psyche of the Jewish worshipers. They exerted meticulous efforts to keep the Law. For them the Law was more than literally set in stone; for them there was no other way.

Now imagine someone coming into your midst with ideas that superseded and turned all your beliefs and values on their heads. How obstinate would you be? How stubborn would you be in surrendering your beliefs and practices? This was the precise situation Jesus came into. Some, but not all, denied he was the Messiah—that he was God’s only begotten.

They resisted him as an intruder, and hated all he stood for. Finally, on a Friday they took him out to a hill and crucified him to show their hatred and cruel rejection of him and the grace of God he came to bring. ///

When Jesus began his ministry, he met the real “we-have-never done-it-this-waybefore” crowd. Minds were closed. They were infuriated when they heard him say that he was God’s Son, the Messiah. They became angry when they heard him say that he was the embodiment of all the Law had been aiming at for generations.

It was these “stonewall” attitudes that Jesus met head-on when he began to preach the gospel in Galilee and say, “The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Unless there was a forsaking of these conceited attitudes so deeply entrenched, there could be no openness to a “new living way.” Jesus was calling for a movement of thinking from the notion that one can achieve salvation by obedience or observance of rules, to the truth that salvation has been produced by God and is bestowed to her or him who believes

that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world. Where your mental allegiance lies determines whether or not you can believe the gospel.

III. God is patient. / Jesus closes his urgent call to repentance with a parable that illustrates hopeful anticipation. All haven’t repented and all won’t. Let the record show, however, that “God is patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).—John C. Huffman

Subject: RECALL 
Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured,   regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.
This defect has been technically termed "Subsequential Internal
Non-Morality," more commonly known as  S.I.N.  Some other symptoms include:  1. Loss of direction 2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin         4. Lack of peace and joy   5. Selfish or violent behavior   6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness   8. Idolatry   9. Rebellion
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is
providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this S.I.N defect.
The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no
additional fee required.
The number to call for repair in all areas is: 1-8PR-AYER
Once connected, please upload your burden of S.I.N through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.
No matter how big or small the S.I.N defect is, Jesus will replace it
with:  1. Love    2. Joy   3. Peace   4. Patience   5. Kindness
6. Goodness   7. Faithfulness   8. Gentleness   9. Self control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Believers' Instruction Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.
For free emergency service, call on Jesus.
DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace.  The S.I.N defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility.
Thank you for your attention!
GOD
Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important
recall notice.  You may contact the Father at any time via "Kneemail."

*HYMN OF RESPONSE                                                                                 #365

 “Just a Closer Walk”

 

 *SENDING FORTH

 

 *POSTLUDE                           


----

[1]Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Ps 96:7

[2]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Lk 13:1

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