02 09 20 NC
Grace mercy, peace be to each of you forgot our father through Jesus Christ his only son and our only Lord and Savior, man. I ever going to start off with a little bit of humor again. How how how little humor is I'll let you decide. Okay. Alright, this is from some of them from one of you or hit. This is not like I didn't do this one somehow he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building therefore. He was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and I substitute had been brought in at the last minute. I substitute wanted to know what the play I guess. There's no planning here. Here's a copy of the service he said impatiently, but you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances. Brenda service the minister pause and said brothers and sisters. We are in great difficulty the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more any of you who can fight 100 Amor please stand up at that moment to substitute organist play the Star Spangled Banner.
And that is how the substitute became the regular?
All right, maybe I should maybe I should have kept that one for last. So the other the other one for today, is that a fashionable New York Church a man came in to pray and rest before the regular Services yet sinners prayers and was reclaim comfortably in a few when an elegantly dressed member of the church entered and sat in the same few the well-dressed man glared at the stranger for a few minutes and then motion to an usher he gave the Usher a note to Pastor The Stranger at the other end of the Pew and the note read I paid $2,000 for the exclusive use of this Pew the word exclusive was underlined the same stranger Drew out his own card and sent it back to the yard stare with the following. I think you pay entirely too much.
All right. So that's week. We took a little break from Epiphany and we talked about the purification of Mary the presentation of Jesus today. We're back to Epiphany. We're back to Greenwood back to the life of Jesus a focus of our season. However, the green that's on the frontier is a little bit different than the green that was on in January because that's our church. We have more than one set of green paraments. I don't know why but we do so we got to figure out a rotation. So let me just share some of the things with you in terms of like what we've been doing about the meaning of some of the symbol. These are very very busy parents. A lot of my parents have a simple symbol. This is not the case with with this set of greens over here on the lectern. We have three symbols all wrapped up into one. There's a white circle you guys can see that right Circle stands for What up, which quality of God has his is eternity. All right, cuz a circle has no beginning and no end God has no beginning and no end and then if you can see how there's a purple triangle in the circle kind of and that stands for the Trinity a look at that. Alright, and of course in the middle, there's a gold cross because the Eternal God who is Father Son and Holy Spirit is made known to us through Jesus. All right on this side on the pulpit very very busy. Also, where do we start? Let's start with the elephant in the America. You see those two letters the Greek Alpha and Omega, they stand for the beginning and the end Jesus is the first and the last and then there was this funky looking cross with like these two legs these two things if you will. As far as I can tell this is sort of kind of an impression of what's on the altar with with with with an anchor. That's kind of a fun time. I'm just going to call in a funky anchor. Okay, and just like on the old here on the pulpit. It is across that is the anchor of our faith. That's the cross and anchor symbol but also then there's this Loop up here on the cross which is kind of a shepherd's staff, but this could also be a funky Cairo remember the chiro first and second letter of the word Christ in Greek. So let's just say we have a cross the Good Shepherd. That is the anchor of our faith. He is the beginning in the end. Of course, he is King write the crown became okay up here around the altar in the middle Reese talked about this then is the cross in the anchor that's comes out of Hebrews the anchor of our soul on the right side. We have can you see this a lamp here? The lamp with a flame cuz I lamp is in purple and then there's a flame above it. And when you see that the symbol of a lava lamp Middle Eastern lamp with a Flames corresponds to July the Bible itself the word of God where your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Okay and over here is just a very simple what it's called Greek cross not the Greek Orthodox cross is just called the Greek cross with a superimposed purple Greek cross on top of that. So that's that's what's going on. That's what the symbols are about. What what do we learn last week when we took a break from all this Epiphany stuff. We learned about the presentation of Jesus the presentation of Jesus man that he was dedicated to God to live a life of serving him by serving people. All right, he was the first born male Mary and just like it says in the Old Testament all the first-born males are dedicated to God to to a life of service the first born male animals or sacrificed their first born male children than live a life of service to you. All right. So now the question for today is does Jesus still serve people today, or is he done with that? What do you think he still serves people today? Yes, it's when pasta is asking the question. You could kind of know what the answer is implied here. But now
how and where does Jesus serve people today? And that's what I want to look at with you today in terms of what happens in our Sunday Gatherings cuz cuz this is the place this is the time. We have a tradition of calling on Sunday morning Gatherings Divine service. Okay, it doesn't matter whether it's a contemporary or our version of a Contemporary Service like this. It doesn't matter if it's a traditional service from the hymnal. It's still when we get together. We call that Divine service. So I must I used to calling and mass some of us are used to calling and worship those labels. Those titles are not wrong divine service is better. Why why do we call it the line service? Maybe if we misspelled it, it might be easier for us to understand why we call it Divine service. Let's call it the answer box. That making any more sense to you all and other words. He never on a Sunday morning Gatherings. This is where this is how the Divine serves us. Okay. Jesus is serving God by serving people in the Divine service. When and where we gather we could be doing this any place. In fact, the other person didn't have buildings today there other Christians had caves they had Riverbanks they had woods they had homes that they would Gather in and that's where Jesus was doing. His Divine service. The primary purpose and focus of getting together on Sunday is to be served by Jesus. That's what makes Sunday morning Gatherings different than anything else. All right. We are not here to perform some sort of obligation. We are not here to perform some sort of ritual but we do rituals. We are not here primarily to worship. We're not here primarily even to pray. We can do all those things throughout the course of the week. Okay, I in fact you'll hear people say that why I don't come to church because I can pray anywhere. Of course you can but this is the place in this is the time where Jesus shows up to serve us. This is the time and it's the place where Jesus shows up to serve you and Kay. So so people who say I don't have to go to church I can pray anywhere do not understand the primary purpose and focus of church, or I should say of gathering together because we gather on Sundays to be served by Jesus. Okay, and I he is here in a way that he is not present on the golf course or on the beach or in the woods or in your bed. On Sunday or Saturday or whatever day of the week you want? So that makes sense. Okay. Alright. So how does he do that? How is it then that Jesus serves Us in the Divine service. Well, it doesn't three ways because low and behold the Divine service has three parts. All right, there is a service in preparation as we called it. There was a service of the word and then there was a service of communion service of Holy Communion and I'll 9:30 Gatherings like we have today. We have all three parts but we don't have communion today. But when we do we have all three parts and they are and they flow seamlessly into each other at the 11:00 service. If you were to come you would get a bulletin and in that bulletin each one of the three parts would be clearly identified and clearly marked as service preparation service of the word and service of communion.
Beginning with the service at preparation will usually start that off with an opening song and then we have some Prelude music for like for my background but we have an opening song of some kind in the service of preparation. Why do we do that? We don't have to an opening song is optional. By the way. I have to have one but we have one why. Is it helps us focus on spiritual matters? When we come through those doors and we come here to the Divine service. We bring with us all kinds of baggage. We bring the baggage of everyday life. We bring our cares. We bring our worries. We bring our highs. We bring our Lowe's but we are here and we are about to encounter God. So it would be helpful for us if we had a transition some kind of transition that we could participate in so that we can focus on his presence. So that we can focus on his reality and to help us transition from the outside world into encountering God. We have an opening song. Follow me the opening song There's an invocation.
In our in our church, we do not pray. The invocation the invocation is not a prayer in some Churches it is and our church. The invocation is a pronouncement because a pronouncement of God's name because when we pronounce his name, we invoke his presence.
When we say in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, we are invoking his presence and basically what we're doing his we're beginning the Divine service the same way. We began our Christian Life at the pond at whatever age we were baptized in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit We Begin our service the same way as we begin our Christian Life. And we usually then make the sign of the cross. What's really funny. In our churches of the Contemporary Service and the 11:00 service is a traditional service. I think I only mention this there's a whole lot more here than at the 11:00 service National Fox. They don't they don't do this be the sign of the cross is the older oldest traditional custom temporary thing. The sign of the cross gets mold. And the reason we do that is because what you was going as a reminder a how it is were able to enter God's presence. It is through the cross of Jesus. It is by the death of Jesus besides the cross is not some magic. It's not some some some ritual or something or other. It's a physical reminder. That we are here in the presence of God because of what Jesus did on the cross. All right, after the invocation then we have some transitional sentences because we're transitioning we're transitioning from the world into the presence of God, when we come to the presence of God. The first thing that we are aware of these are sent. At 9:30 at this Gathering. We have transitional sentences that are different from Sunday to Sunday at the 11:00 service. They had to standard form that they use every week and then we get to confession. These transitional sentences prepare us for confession. Why do we do confession? some Churches don't
broke like I just say when we coming to God's presence. We are aware of our sins. And and when we when we come in from the outside world, we bring in that only our baggage or folks it if you're honest at all. If you're aware of your life at all, you know that you're also going to come in here with burdens. You come in here. Only with baggage you come in here with burdens you come in here with Jill to come in here with Shane you come in here with regret you come in here with burdens. If you have any sense of honesty about your life any sense of Integrity about your life and he sent them understanding right and wrong which as Jesus was explaining there are many voices that say, oh no. That's not to say nothing. A problem. They they relax they release the Commandments that he gave us. If you have any sense of honesty and integrity and right and wrong, you know. It during the past week you falling short.
And before you know, you've missed the mark. You know you thought of yourself before you thought of others, you know, you've put yourself ahead of others.
If you have any sense of right and wrong and integrity honesty, you regret it. Did you know you were wrong?
What are you doing it? What are you doing with that regret? What do you do with that guilt with that? sense of wrong What you can do a number of things which the world has all kinds of Solutions in options for you. You could deny it and then say why oh why it wasn't wrong. I didn't do that is not a commandment against that they're not Commandments and suggestions right Moses Moses receive from God on Mount Sinai Watkins suggestions. You could blame somebody for it. Okay, you can blame your spouse claim your parent when your child blamesociety blame your co-workers. It's their fault. You could have skills it. I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop myself.
You could justify it. I had to do it. Nobody was looking stuff like that. But there's a problem with all those ways of handling. Our burdens are guilt that are same and I regret the problem is that they don't lead us to Freedom. They don't lead us to Healing. They don't produce enough New Life. They don't produce in us a clear conscience. There's only one way to do that and that is to Confess it. If you want if you want freedom if you want healing if you want new life, do you want to clear conscience in a fresh start that begins with confession? That's why anybody for money. How many steps are there in in the United Miss groups is 12 + 2. What's the first one? I haven't I made it. I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. More or narcotics or or sex or whatever the anonymous group is. I admitted I was powerless over this thing and my life had become unmanageable. What is that? That's a confession. Okay, and so that's why the first major event that happens in the Divine service is confession. Where we are honest before God we are open before God. We admit our shortcomings. We admit our failures. We admit our burdens and in confession then we seek God's mercy. And guess what? Jesus shows up. He's here and he serves us with. Forgiveness, he serves us with forgiveness. He serves us with the fancy word is Absolution. He absolves us he frees us. He releases us from our burdens from our truck coming from our failures from our selfishness and he gives us then the freedom he gives us the power he gives us the will he gives us the strength to live a new life. That's how it starts. There is no freedom and release in your life without admitting. What went wrong in the past cuz the pass is going to hold you. That's why there's a saying in our society is there was maybe it's not there was much anymore but that wasn't saying that they're that went like confession is good for the soul. Anybody heard that you know, what's better. absolution confession is good for the soul. But forgiveness is better being released from it is better and then the church and Christianity both go together. And so therefore just like the invocation the Absolution the pronouncement of forgiveness is not a prayer. We don't pray. May God forgive us. May God forgive you when you pronounce it. We announced it because God's Mercy is sure God's grace. It's certain that there is no praying about it. There's only pronouncing it.
And the result the intended result then of of me standing up here pronouncing forgiveness.
It's so that you can then experience a clear conscience. You can then have an unburdened conscience. You can then feel a weight being lifted because all the burdens all the garbage. Pardon me all the crap from last week. Is gone. It's not there anymore. All right, you're free. When I forgive you in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit that gets God doing the forgiving understanding up here. He just happened sound like me today. That's all. I guess some of the guy up there then needle sound like him. That's God forgiving you releasing you freeing you giving you a new life giving you when you start. Hey and by having the Absolution pronounce by having the Forgiveness pronounce that then leads in the service to two things at least for the sharing of the Peace of Christ. And then it further leads into the ability to hear what God has to say in the rest of the Divine service. Trusted in a little book that I read a lot met many years ago CS Lewis wrote something called the screwtape letters anybody read that. Highly recommended it's 30 chapters that three pages long you can meet him before you go to bed. Every night didn't get done in a month and the screwtape letters are a senior devil teaching a junior devil how to seduce intent people to the dark side. And one of the things that seem to double tells the junior devil is to try to keep alive in his patient as a person is referred to in the patient a dull sense of guilt. Because if a person retain the Dole sense of guilt, they cannot they will not be able to hear and receive what God has to say.
It's a very clever insight into this guilt thing. And so therefore before we listen to what God has to say.
We take care of that any kind of sense of guilt. We take care of any kind of sense of regret. We take care of any kind of sense of Shame so that we can hear what God has to say. In between the Absolution and then the hearing of God's word in our church. We have the sharing of the Peace. Sumter just put it in different locations in the service I think and and many years ago the elders and I figured this out at the best place to put a showing at a piece is after we have had vertical piece. It only makes sense to have horizontal peace conciliation. It only makes sense to have a horizontal reconciliation. So they're showing the peace then comes right after the Absolution. And can I can I tell you something that the sharing of the peace is not just simply good morning good to see you. Alright, the sharing of the pieces much more profound than that. Nothing wrong with saying good morning good to see you and hugging and talk in their making I love it when it's noise during the Peace of this is a great thing as far as I'm concerned. However, please understand that there's much more to sharing of the Peace of Christ and they're saying good morning with the CI. We are actually speaking God's peace into each other's lives.
Okay, just as God spoke his peace into our lives in the Absolution when we share the peace with each other. We are taking that Absolution. We're taking that forgiveness for taking that piece. We're taking that reconciliation and we're speaking into each other. Into each other's lives you got that. There's something much more profound and meaningful happening in the sharing of the peace and just simply saying good morning. Good to see you. Although we say that to please don't stop saying that but I understand that when you share the piece you look the person in the eye and you said peace be with you.
So that God's peace can into their life. Sorry about that on the spot.
cuz a piece we have the freedom we have is the result of what Jesus did on the cross? It is the power of Christ crucified that Paul was talking about today because it is Jesus on the cross and his death that paid for our shortcomings that paid for our failures that reconcile us to God and they have like enables us to reconcile with each other. Annie and the ultimate highest form of sharing the peace in church is when is when two people are in the same service, which is the reason why many churches have two Services I said that before right so that people don't talk to each other can come to the same church.
when two people who are a fight Lee at odds
during the sharing of the peace can find each other. I can say peace be with you. Now you now we got something that's the sharing of the Peace. And take a not so cold as we say bury the hatchet. Because the vertical piece has now become a horizontal piece. Vanessa come very often Absolution. The pronouncement of absolution is accompanied by the sign of the cross again, just like the invocation the app Solutions accompanied by the sign of the cross because it is a reminder of how we get forgiveness. It's a reminder of how we got peace. It's a reminder about how we are reconciled and restored and made new.
then having been forgiven having been set free by God. Having shared his peace with each other and extended that reconciliation to each other. We are then ready to proceed in the Divine service because we are then ready to hear what God has to say in his work. We'll talk more about that another time for right now. It's kind of want to cut it right here and just talk about the service of preparation today. We'll talk about a service of the word and the service of communion at a later date. I hope this has been helpful. I hope this has been meaningful and I hope that we are able going forward to two more fully appreciate what it is. We do in the service of preparation from the opening song to the sharing of the peace because Jesus is here and he is serving God by serving us with his forgiveness and his peace. I met you depart from here today and saying that.
amen Let's continue our services. We received the tides and offering that we are brought for the Lord.