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Ephesians, the Treasure Chest of our Spiritual Blessings

Ephesians - Our Riches in Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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 Second Sunday of Christmas 11am, January 3, 2021 Online at Zoom & 83 New Park Road, New Park, PA 17352 Office (717) 993-2345 Pastor Don Hackett (717) 203-1018 Second Sunday of Christmas - January 3, 2021 Announcements Prelude I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - J. Marks Kathleen Wilson Lighting of Christmas Candles I Will Light Candles This Christmas by Howard Thurman I will light candles this Christmas, Candles of joy despite all the sadness, Candles of hope where despair keeps watch, Candles of courage for fears ever present, Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days, Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens, Candles of love to inspire all my living, Candles that will burn all year long. Hymn #116 We Three Kings of Orient Are by Anne Murray Call to Worship (from Ephesians 1:1-10 NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Let us praise God for the gift of this new year! Prayer of Confession & the Lord's Prayer Timeless God, from the eternity before we were born and into the forever after our last breath, we are Your own. For all creation You are the Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z, the Beginning and the End. Today we give You thanks and praise for the blessing of time in a New Year. Help us to receive the promise and claim the future that it holds. May each day begin with dawning grace and end in the sunset of enduring peace. And, as the new year unfolds, recreate us in love through the One who has entered our time and redeems it; Jesus our Savior, 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. Hymn #102 What Child Is This, Who, Lay to Rest by Martina McBride Sharing of Prayer Requests Prayers of the People Almighty God, as one year ends and another begins, we need your help! We confess we resist recognizing your lordship and try to do life on our own. We are deaf to your pleas and commands when they do not suit us. We dismiss as invisible, unworthy, or wicked those whom You command us to love. And we are blind, most of all, to our own sins and failings. Have mercy on us, mired as we are in old habits, and reign as rightful king over all that we do, all that we are, and all we shall become. In Christ, we pray. Amen. Adapted from a Prayer by Phillip Aijian, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, Torrey Honors College, Biola University The Offering (online donations at Offertory Mary, Did You Know? - B. Greene Tess Leighty, flute solo Scripture - Ephesians 1:11-14 (the Message) It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free - signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. Sermon "Riches in Christ" Rev. Dr. Don Hackett Best gift What is the best gift? If I could interview each one of you the answer would mostly likely vary. Some would like a new gadget like a kitchen appliance, a new tool, or the latest electronic device. Others are into clothes, fashion items, and accessories to look and feel good. Toys and games, of course, would be on many children's lists. I know we all would want this virus to be gone and people to be healed. As important as that is, what is even a more precious gift? Today I have in this box, the best gift ever. You may be thinking, "Right. Let me see what you have, and I will tell you if it is truly the best gift ever." Let us look and see for ourselves. (I pull out at Bible). I know, that is what we are supposed to say. The right answer to any question in church is always, "Jesus" or "the Bible." The amazing thing is that it is true. Most of us have one or more of these in our homes. Like a buried treasure, there is wisdom, truth, and the great plan of God waiting for us to discover. Context for Ephesians This winter, we are going to dig into why Jesus is the best gift the world has ever received. The book of the Bible that unpacks this for us is the letter to the Ephesians. Go grab a Bible and let us look at this letter together. We are going to set the context for this letter so it will make more sense as we read it. The apostle Paul was the one who started churches all over the Roman Empire in the First Century. That is what apostles do. They start new communities of faith where none exist. Paul and the original disciples did this. Missionaries today often play a similar role. They help bring the good news of the life and faith in Christ to people who do not know that this is for them as well. This is happening around the world. Even in the United States there are large pockets of people who do not understand or know Christ. Paul started in Jerusalem and travelled all through modern day Turkey and Greece talking to people about the Risen Christ that changed his life. The story of Paul's dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ is found in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9. In chapters 13 through 28 we can read of Paul's adventures in spreading the faith in Christ. Paul's normal practice was to go to a town, find the Jewish community, stay with a family, and would teach at the local synagogue or marketplace. Some places he stayed just a short time and other places much longer. That is what happened in Ephesus. Ephesus The city of Ephesus in Turkey was a community where Paul stayed three years. Ephesus was an important trade seaport and a crossroads for all sorts of people and cultures. There was a famous temple there to the goddess of Artemis. It was considered one of the seven ancient wonders of the world for it's beauty and extravagance. As you can imagine this was could be strategic place to plant a church. They could witness to the many travelers who came through this port. Some of Paul's experiences and methods for planting churches are found in Acts 19. Letter to Ephesus This letter to the Ephesians we hold in our hands was written by Paul toward the end of his life and ministry, around 60AD. Paul was imprisoned for his faith and appealed to Rome for justice. As a Roman citizen, Paul had this right. Paul was under house arrest in Rome as he waited for his day in court. This gave Paul time to write to all the churches he helped established. These precious people were on his heart and in his prayers. Letters from Paul and other apostles were read to the congregation. After that copies were made, and then the letters were passed on to other churches. This way all the churches could benefit from the wisdom and truth they contained. As you think about it, these letters continued to be copied, translated into many languages, and sent around the globe. Like the early disciples, we can grow in wisdom and faith in Christ. This is one of the reasons we support and pray for missionaries. They are continuing the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Why Ephesians? Why did I pick this book of the sixty-six books in the Bible to study? There were several directions we could take. It seemed best that at the beginning of a new year, 2021, a concise summary of what we believe and how we live in Christ would be helpful. This is an important transition year for Centre Church. We are taking our pulse and seeing what God is doing in us and around us. Our mandate is always the same: God love and love people in Christ. That will never change. What does change is how we do that in this time and place. 2020 has changed and shaped us in ways we are still discovering. We need to put our roots deep in the love, Spirit, and Word of God so we can discern our way forward. This letter to the church in Ephesus will help us to rediscover all we have in Christ and how those gifts shape our life and mission together. The plan Here is the plan. For the next three months we are going to make our way through this important book. We will cover about a half a chapter each week so by Palm Sunday we will have completed a study of all six chapters of Ephesians. I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians each week. You can read a chapter a day or sit and read or listen to the whole book in one sitting. It is less than five pages long. If you can, mark up your Bible as you go. Circle or underline the parts that stick out to you. Write you thoughts or questions in the margins. Check out the footnotes or cross references if you Bible has them. Look up Paul's journeys on a Bible map and get a feel of this letter that has blessed the church of Jesus Christ for centuries. Two questions I recommend you ask two questions as you read: 1) God, what do you want me to learn? 2) What is love asking me to do? This will keep us from making this just an academic exercise. This is one of the life-transforming practices of our faith. We listen to God to be changed and live differently. This book of Ephesians, our study and prayerful application of it, will prepare us for the year to come! Riches in Christ Look in your Bibles at Ephesians 1:1-10. This is also listed in your bulletin under the Call to Worship. As I read, I want you to circle what God has done for you. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, To be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Here are three vital spiritual and life truths that jumped out to me. 1. Blessed us with every spiritual blessing - Everything you and I need God has supplied for us to grow to be like Jesus. God has not left us without resources! God has sent his Son to save us, God's Spirit to live in us and to guide us, and God's Word and people to encourage us. We have everything we need. I get the image of a huge warehouse in Heaven, full of all these blessings. Bigger than Amazon, these blessings are waiting on the shelf for our order. They are eager to be sent. We just need to ask, and these spiritual resources are at our fingertips. The gifts just need to be received and unwrapped. What are we waiting for? Tell God today what you need! 2. God chose us - We are wanted and valued. We are not alone. God loves us so much that plans were put in place long, long ago. They are now unfolding so we can become a part of God's family. God's desire is for you and me to grow fully into the beloved people we are meant to be. You are here, right now, because God wants us in his family and growing God's kingdom. God loves us and sends us out to love others! 3. God has made his mystery known to us - What was hidden and unclear for thousands of years is now apparent. God was lining up all history so God through Jesus could come and live with, love us, and rescue us. In Christ we are bought back from sin and death. We like to save stamps from Stable's in this church to redeem them for cookware for others in need. Isn't fun to collect those stamps, until there is a whole pile of them, and exchange them for something more needed and valuable?! Imagine God's delight in sending his Son to redeem, to save, to rescue his beloved children. Oh, what a great day for God and a wonderful day for us! This is not the end. Friends, we are now in dark days. The daylight comes and goes too quickly. The newspapers and media reports continue to carry heavy news. This year we will not focus on the darkness. Together we will focus on the light of Jesus Christ. God is moving in human history to promised conclusion. Jesus Christ reigns in Heaven and will continue to grow his kingdom of love and justice on this earth. We are a part of his plan. Today we gather around the table of Jesus Christ. With millions around the world we celebrate that God has loved us fully in Christ. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He will guide us. Jesus is also the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. We come to have our sins forgiven and our souls revived in Christ. Let us prepare to surrender our lives and hope to this Risen Lamb and Good Shepherd. Confession of Faith (The Apostles' Creed, AD390) I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. Hymn #114 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent by Fernando Ortega Winter Celebration of the Lord's Supper 1. Instructions for Communion - We will be celebrating communion today in our homes. We will first serve each other the bread. We will then serve the cup. We request that you hold the bread and the cup and we will all then partake together. 2. Invitation to the Table - Friends, in the name of Holy Trinity, we welcome you to this table. We come because the love of God, the grace of Jesus the Christ, and the encouragement of God's Spirit all invite us to come. This Lord's Supper is a remembrance of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, a time to experience the Living God in our midst, and an expectation of the joy of being with Christ in his kingdom. This table, these elements, these words come directly from the mouth and hands of Jesus. They are tangible expressions of his love for each one of us. 3. Words of Institution - On the night in which he gave himself up for us, Our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Likewise, when the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to God, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Drink from this, all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." The Apostle Paul reminds us that as often as we eat this bread and drink of this cup we proclaim his death until he comes again. 4. Prayer - Let us pray: Gracious God, come meet us face to face, heart to heart. May your life flow into our lives as we share this supper. Open us to your healing, freeing grace in Christ we pray, Amen. 5. Partaking of the Elements Serve the bread to everyone, then everyone eats the bread together. Pour cups for each person, then everyone drinks the cup together. 6. Prayers of Thanksgiving - Bountiful God, at this table you graciously feed us with the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. May we who have reached out our hands to receive this sacrament be strengthened in your service; we who have sung your praises tell of your glory and truth in our lives. We offer ourselves to you as a living sacrifice through Jesus Christ our Lord. Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work for your praise and glory in Jesus name, Amen. Coming of the Light - Torres Strait Islands The Coming of the Light is a holiday celebrated by Torres Strait Islanders on 1 July each year. It recognizes the adoption of Christianity through island communities during the late nineteenth century. Origins - The London Missionary Society set out to convert people of the Southwest Pacific to Christianity from the 1840s. In July 1871, the Reverend Samuel MacFarlane, a member of the Society anchored at Erub (Darnley Island) in the Torres Strait. He was accompanied by South Sea Islander evangelists and teachers. In defiance of tribal law Dabad, a Warrior Clan Elder on Erub welcomed the London Missionary Society clergy and teachers. Effect - The acceptance of the missionaries and Christianity into the Torres Strait Islands is often credited with ending conflict between different island groups. However, Christian principles were already somewhat compatible with Islander religion. The missionaries offered a more practical advantage. Torres Strait Islanders had been grossly exploited in the maritime industry. The missionaries provided some protection and assistance to Islanders who negotiated with outsiders in the maritime industry. The acceptance of missionaries and Christianity into Torres Strait led to profound changes that affected every aspect of life from that time onwards. Annual Celebrations - Torres Strait Islanders living on the islands or on the mainland come together to honour this anniversary every year. Islanders of all faiths celebrate the Coming of the Light in a festival like no other in Australia. Activities include church services and a re-enactment of the landing at Kemus on Erub. Hymn singing, feasting and Ailan dans strengthen community and family ties. Benediction Let the majesty of the Father be the light by which we walk, the compassion of the Son be the love by which we live, the presence of the Spirit be the power by which we serve. Amen. Postlude *************** Hymn #116 We Three Kings of Orient Are 1. We three kings of Orient are; bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. Refrain: O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light. 2. Born a King on Bethlehem's plain, gold I bring to crown him again, King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign. (Refrain) 3. Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping God on high. (Refrain) 4. Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb. (Refrain) 5. Glorious now behold him arise; King and God and sacrifice: Alleluia, Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies. (Refrain) Hymn #102 What Child Is This, Who, Lay to Rest 1. What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping? Refrain: This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary. 2. Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. (Refrain) 3. So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him; the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. (Refrain) Hymn #114 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent 1.Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his hand, Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand. 2.King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood, Lord of lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood; he will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food. 3.Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way, as the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day, that the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away. 4.At his feet the six-winged seraph, cherubim, with sleepless eye, veil their faces to the presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord Most High! ANNOUNCEMENTS TODAY: 11am - Worship Service Join on... 1. Our FACEBOOK Page: https://www.facebook.#com/centrechurchpa/ 2. Zoom ONLINE: Meeting ID: 892 6865 4996 Password: 280239 3. ON YOUR PHONE: 1 301 715 8592 ID: 892 6865 4996 PW: 280239 Mondays at 7pm - First Look Bible Study. Join us for an online conversation on our preaching text for the coming Sunday. All are welcome to join anytime. Join via Zoom on computer or iPad: Meeting ID: 868 2877 9296 OR - Join by telephone: 1 301 715 8592 Meeting ID: 868 2877 9296 Passcode: 930546 Tuesdays at 12noon - Centre Church On-line Prayer Meeting Join via Zoom on your computer or iPad: Meeting ID: 104 976 436 OR - Join by telephone: 1 929 205 6099 Meeting ID: 104 976 436 Sisters in Prayer - If you were a Sister in Prayer in 2020 -- during December, let your secret sister know who has been praying for her all year!! 2021 Offering Envelopes - For those of you who use envelopes, please pick up your 2021 envelopes from the left side of the cinder block garage. Call Barb Wilson at (717)993-2447 if you have any questions. 2020 End of Year Contributions - Please mail offering checks no later than December 23rd so that they arrive in time to be credited towards 2020. To expedite you may mail directly to Barb Wilson at 15379 Barrens Road North, Stewartstown, PA 17363. Thank you. The Trustee for January is: 01-03-2021 Please pray for the following: MONDAY Lucille Fager (Betty Marsteller) JoAnn Polash (Mike Lannon) Larry Guderjohn (Judy & Mort Baker) Sonia Fitch (Jeff Fitch's sister) Children in Youth Development Center Bobbie Hepfer (Ralph & Jane Travis) Tom Booker (Ralph & Jane Travis) Lydia Schnetzka Brianna Logana (Ralph & Jane Travis) Mary Bankert (Reed Anderson) TUESDAY The family and friends of Bill Scott Jim Marsteller David & Erin Anderson and Family Byron Boyd (Connie Anderson) Tracey Wood (Joy Chester) Patrick Maloney (KD football player) Matt Basolo (Ralph & Jane Travis) Richard & Shirley Fitch (Jeff's parents) Hazel Bisker (Ann Smith) Bill Whiteford (Bev Devilbiss Whiteford) Rylee Ham (Joy Chester) WEDNESDAY Marcia & Carroll Scotten Kim Thompson Lois Ann McDonald & Jessica Waldron Persecuted Christians in the world Carlotta Eck (Nathalie's family) Dave Hahn (Hugh McPherson) Sue Travis (Ralph's sister-in-law) Joyce Scott Bob Chester (Bill's Dad) Helen Williams (Jane Travis) Kayli Dedoszak (Jane Travis) THURSDAY Terri Prokopik (Deb Lannon) Jody Leighty Jarod Price (Bill & Joy's nephew) Stefanie Baker (Mort & Judy Baker) Nathan K. (dad Jeff) Mandy Gemmill (Judy McShane) Margaret Linkous & Shirley Linkous Jennifer Tingley (Dana Broadway) Greg Trout and Jack Trout Centre's Church Family FRIDAY Tracy Covert (Jen Scarborough) Vivian Sewell (Betsy McPherson) James McGinnis & Nicole McGinnis (Harriet & Wayne McGinnis) Ben Pilla (Betsy McPherson) Pat & Michele VanCise (Ralph Travis) Pam Huhn & Family (Jamelyn Smith) Ruth Haverstick (Rosanna Gemmill) Jillian Dettinger (Joy Chester) Kevin Marsteller Michael P. (Reed Anderson) Dawn Rainey (Marg Graybeal) SATURDAY Gracyn Pickel Our Nation, Troops, POWs, MIAs, & Families "Shepherd" translation team Boyd & Sherry Hess (Betty Marsteller) George & Dean Jamison Paul Bowman (Dana Broadway) Max Lewis (Mary Linkous) Karen Deaver (Ann Smith) Betty Wiley & family Trudy Strawbridge Missionaries We Support For email, newsletters and other information about our missionaries go to Gordon & Dorothy Gartrell- Brazil, US - Asia - Thailand, Jonathan & Emily Seitz - Taiwan, Gary & Marlene VanBrocklin - South Asia, Doug & Margy Trimble - Pakistan, Ryan & Krista Ginn - Cameroon To have a name added to the list, call Margaret Graybeal at (717) 382-4116 or (240) 751-6294, or email Names will remain on the prayer list for 8 weeks. If you want your family member or friend's name on the list longer, please notify Marg. 2
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