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Standing Together in Prayer

Rev. Dr. Don Hackett
Ephesians - Our Riches in Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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How to stand together in prayer!

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Fifth Sunday In Lent 11am, March 21, 2021 In the Sanctuary, Online at Zoom & https://www.facebook.com/centrechurchpa/ Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee Rembrandt Van Rijn, 1633 83 New Park Road, New Park, PA 17352 https://centrechurchpa.org 1 Fifth Sunday in Lent St. Patrick’s (3/17) & Mr. Rogers (3/20) Days Announcements Mary Linkous Prelude Kathleen Wilson, organ Worship Hosts Rebecca and Jenny Manifold Call to Worship (Based on Psalm 116) Come! Lift your voices to the Lord, who always hears us. Listen Lord. Hear our voices sing your praises. Call on the Lord, who bends low to hear us. Listen Lord. We lift our voices to you in praise. Call on the name of the Lord, all you people. Listen Lord. We call on your wonderful name. For you saved us, you raised us and turned our lives around. Let your name be praised in this congregation. Hymn In Christ Alone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=887jcen5Pec Prayer of Confession & the Lord’s Prayer By Christine Sine, GodSpace Blog God, we come… with hesitant steps and uncertain motives to sweep out the corners where sin has accumulated, and uncover the ways we have strayed from Your truth. Expose the empty and barren places where we don’t allow you to enter. Reveal our half-hearted struggles where we have been indifferent to the suffering of others. Nurture the faint stirrings of new life, where your spirit has begun to grow. Let your healing light transform us into the image of Your Son. For You alone can bring new life and make us whole. We pray this humbly in Christ's name, 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. 2 Sharing of Prayer Requests Deb Lannon Prayers of the People The Offering (online donations at https://centrechurchpa.org/) Offertory Prayers of Dedication Word with the Children – Look & Listen by Mr. Fred Rogers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctcQXme7QlY Scripture – Ephesians 6:13-18 (the Message) Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. 3 Sermon “Stepping Ahead Together” Rev. Dr. Don Hackett Our Bible passage today is a familiar one and an immensely powerful one. Let’s hear it again from the New International Version: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Stand This passage came to life for many of us this week. We studied this passage in Ephesians 6 at First Look group on Monday night. We were struck how this scripture speaks to people who are under fire, overwhelmed. People like us! We are getting pushed and attacked from every side…a year-long pandemic, pressures at home and work, and a building fatigue and depression on the inside. What are we to do? 4 Paul is clear: Stand. That’s right, stand! If you are able, stand up. Find firm footing, back straight, chest out, shoulders back, and look straight ahead. Take a deep breath. God wants you and me to stand. Hold our ground. Be people who give others hope that we will not be defeated. Now notice what is missing. We are not prepared to fight the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We need God and all the resources of God’s truth and love to go with us. So what does it look like to be dressed in God’s armor of love? Have a seat and look at is news photo. Sister Rose Ann I have been saddened by the events unfolding in the southeast Asian country of Myanmar (mee-yen-mar). Know as Burma by many, it is a beautiful country with over 100 different ethic groups within her borders. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh, India, and China to the north, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest. This nation has struggled over the last few centuries to have peace. Lately, the military has overthrown the government and instituted martial law. In response the people have protested. The military has had a swift, cruel response, killing many people in the streets. I want to focus on the actions of one woman, Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng. Look at this picture as I read the news report: Yangon — Kneeling before them in the dust of a northern Myanmar city, Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng begged a group of heavily armed police officers to spare "the children" and take her life instead. The image of the Catholic nun in a simple white habit, her hands spread, pleading with the forces of the country's new junta as they prepared to crack down on a protest, has gone viral and won her praise in the majorityBuddhist country. Monday March 9 2021 https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/myanmar-news-coup-protest-nuntells-police-shoot-me-instead-kachin/ I want to highlight what this woman is doing. She is taking a stand. Yes, even on her knees she is taking a stand. She is confronting the evil that killing innocent people in her streets. Sister Ann Rose is willing to give her life to save the lives of others. 5 The only weapon she has is love, God’s love. Notice the response of some of the policemen. They are on their knees showing her respect. They know she is right. Look at her closely: • God’s truth is wrapped around her like a belt. • Her purity in Christ is guarding her vital organs. • Her feet were quick to bring her to this place where the gospel of peace was needed. • Her faith is protecting her heart from lies that would have her do nothing. • Sister Ann Rose knows she belongs to God and that helmet of salvation assures her of life with God, now and forever. She is not afraid to die. • What is coming out of her mouth? Words of truth, the love of Jesus Christ, and a hope to redeem her country one person at a time. Thank you, Sister Ann Rose for showing us the meaning of our passage today. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-56356050 Prayer 2.0 We have the same calling as Sister Ann Rose. We are to stand wherever God has us. We are to love the people we see in need. Along with stand, Paul encourages us to pray, pray, and pray. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 As Reed Anderson and others struggled for their lives this past week, we sensed a call to do more. Having looked at Ephesians 6 on Monday night, it was clear what we needed to on Tuesday. As you know we invited the whole congregation to join in prayer. Rila crafted a prayer to guide us in praying for Reed. Sixteen households logged in online at Noon Tuesday to stand together in prayer. Thank you, each of you, who continue to offer prayers for Reed and others we know who are in fierce battles of their own. PPT#5 As I step back from that time together, I realize we were implementing the wisdom found in Ephesians 6. We were standing, 6 together, in Christ, confronting the invisible forces that were out to undermine us. I asked a few people to reflect on our time together: Kathleen Wilson wrote: Don, It was very good and meaningful to pray together for Reed today. From Ephesians 6 - The words in the scripture that say, “to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” And from the Message the words “prayer is essential and pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters.” This time together as a bigger group, all united in one purpose, was most meaningful. I felt the fellowship of believers doing as the gospels instructs us to do and showing our love and concern for both Reed, his family, and each other. Thank you tremendously for your leadership, Kathleen Joy Chester emailed: Joy: Thank you for today!! What phrase is sticking with me from Ephesians 6? In vs 18 (NLT) Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. In vs 13 (MSG) Be prepared!!.... God's Word is an indispensable weapon!... Pray hard and long!" These verses and parts of the verses stood out to me. What was helpful for me in our prayer time? Hearing others pray and being given permission to write my prayers and not need to say them. What did I learn today in our time together and want to practice in the future? I kept thinking of the song, "Sweet Hour of Prayer." I had to review the lyrics, shown below, and gave thanks for these words. Sweet hour of prayer Sweet hour of prayer That calls me from a world of care And bids me at my Father's throne Make all my wants and wishes known In seasons of distress and grief 7 My soul has often found relief And oft escaped the tempter's snare By Thy return, sweet hour of prayer Hymn by Alan Jackson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zNuYcplBmk I am grateful that we are able to meet and pray together and grateful that we are able to pray for Reed, Bruce, Byron, Ann, the Ebaugh Family. Knowing that even though our focus was on Reed, our prayer community is so gracious that others were lifted up as well. We are never selfish with our prayers!! And finally, from Connie Anderson: Our family wants to thank you on focusing on Reed today. Jody was listening and wanted to add that God is the Great Physician but wasn’t sure she could talk. We so appreciate all your prayers for Reed and our family. Thank you!! Thank you being God’s people standing together in prayer. Rev. Elisha preached about how our fellowship, our coming together in Christ, reveals the presence and power of God. Today will bring new challenge to our faith. Today will also brings more opportunities to stand together in Christ and love a world hungry for hope. Let us remember Paul’s encouragement: Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up So that no one falls behind or drops out. We are in this together! Amen! 8 Confession of Faith - Prayer of St. Patrick (“The Lorica”) I arise today through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea, stability of the earth, firmness of the rock. I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s hosts to save me afar and anear, alone or in a multitude. Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me. I arise today through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation. Hymn #359 Be Thou My Vision The Blessing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TascsWZPj8U 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. 9
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