He Called My Name

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

A woman wanted to visit a psychic.  Her boyfriend was against it.  “They’re all frauds,” he said. “I want to try it,” she said.  “I’ll pay for it.  Hey, I’ll bet she’ll be able to contact your grandmother.”

The boyfriend gave in. The psychic welcomed them into her room, sat them down at her table in the dimmed room and began the séance.  She closed her eyes. A moment later her eyelids began fluttering and her hands floated up above the table.

Shortly thereafter, a coherent voice emanated saying,

“Grandson? Are you there?“

The man replied, ”Grandmother? is that you?”

”Yes grandson, it’s me,” the voice came back.

“I told you she was real!” the girlfriend whispered to her boyfriend.

“It’s really you, grandmother?” the man repeated.

“Yes, grandson. it’s really me”.

The voice came back once again. The man looked puzzled,

“You’re sure it’s you, grandmother?” he asked again.

“Yes, grandson,” the voice once again returned,” It’s definitely me.”

The man paused a moment.

“Grandmother, I have just one question for you,” he said.

“Anything, my child,” the voice replied.

“When did you learn to speak English?”

 

Mother of God

There were four women bragging about their sons. The first woman says, “Have you heard? My son is a priest. He’s very well respected that when he enters a room or a building, everyone greets him, ‘Hello, Father.’
“Psh! That’s nothing,” the second woman answers. “My son is a bishop so when he enters a building or a room, people greet him, ‘Good morning, Your Excellency!’”
“Is that all you’ve got?” interjects the third woman. “I’ll do you one better! My son is a cardinal, and when he walks into a room, people greet him, ‘Hello, Your Eminence.’”
The fourth woman, who had been quiet thus far smiles and says, “Well, my son doesn’t have any title, but he’s tall, handsome, looks like a Hollywood star, that when he walks into a room, women fan themselves and go, ‘My God!’”

Acts 9:36-43 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
Peter in Lydda and Joppa

36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.[a] She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37 At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them, and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Meanwhile, he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

  1. 36Tabitha in Aramaic and Dorcas in Greek means a gazelle

 

Revelation 7:9-17 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
The Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 For this reason they are before the throne of God
    and worship him day and night within his temple,
    and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,     nor any scorching heat,
17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

John 10:22-30 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
Jesus Is Rejected by the Jews

22 At that time the Festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah,[a] tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, 26 but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, in regard to what he has given me, is greater than all,[b] and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

 

“He Called My Name”      
The Rev Dr. Dianne Carpenter
Acts 9:36-43; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
8 May 2022

 

Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, 26 but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep…”

Last Sunday we heard about one of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus in which Jesus sought out Peter and told him that rather than being a Fisherman, Peter was to become the Shepherd of Jesus’ flock.

The bishops of the church have as part of their liturgical garments a Staff, a Shepherd’s crook if you will, to symbolize their place in the work of the church – to follow Jesus like Peter was called to do- shepherding the flock, feeding the lambs and tending the infant church.  In fact, while the terms might not have come into use immediately, Peter was “de facto” the Bishop in Jerusalem just as the Pope is the Bishop of Rome following Paul’s “de facto” call to that office.

Likewise, the orthodox churches are led by Bishops following the Bishop in Constantinople after the church had spread.

And so according to Acts we see Peter involved in ministry in Lydia near Joppa which are Northwest of Jerusalem and on the Mediterranean Sea.  He is summoned it as the recognized shepherd of the Christian flock to the home of Dorcas who has just died.

Dorcas it is referred to as a disciple of Jesus in this passage—a female disciple.  God has empowered a woman whose name means “gazelle” to be Jesus’ disciple.  She functions as one of the early Deacons of the church.  Her ministry is one of service.  She heads up a welfare program among Joppa’s poor people.  In her day widows languished on the very bottom rung of society’s ladder.  They had no one to either protect or represent them.  So widows are society’s most vulnerable citizens to whom Jesus’ disciple Dorcas gives hope.   

In Joppa every believer knew and thanked god for this disciple of Jesus.  Dorcas reminds us of the people in our own congregations who never seem to tire of doing Jesus’ work for hurting people.  God always seems to put them in the right place at the right time, with helpful words and compassionate actions. We thank God for them and wish there were even more of them. The deacons of the Jewish communities were responsible for the care of widows because women were invisible. Today, the women of Afghanistan are becoming invisible as the current regime The Taliban have ordered all women to cover their faces in public in Afghanistan, the latest sweeping restriction by a government that has taken away women’s right to travel long distances alone, work outside healthcare or education, and receive a secondary education.13 hours ago

However, after an apparently short illness, Dorcas’ seemingly boundless capacity for ministry drains away.  She dies, plunging the whole community into profound grief.  And when Dorcas dies, her ministry to people on society’s margins dies with her.

When Peter first arrives, it’s your average pastoral care call.  A friend dies and they call the head pastor, Peter.  He arrives in haste.  I’m sure he was greeted with solemn faces, many tears.  There were hugs and loving touches for all who were grieving.  The house appears full of mourners- widows who had received the love and compassion of a woman named Dorcas.

It was a scene not unlike Jesus being summoned to Mary and Martha’s home upon the death of Lazarus.

Once Peter makes his way through the crowd, the widows begin telling stories.  Isn’t that what we do?  We tell stories of our loved ones when they are gone.  We remember together.  And apparently remembering Dorcas meant remembering her craft. “The widows stood beside Peter, weeping and showing him tunics and other clothing that she made while she was with them.” I imagine many were wearing those tunics and clothing.

It seems a wonderful tribute to Dorcas-the work of her hands walking around while stories are told of her love and compassion. They were showing her off by showing off her handiwork.

With Lazarus Jesus called his name and he came out of the tomb into the midst of the mourners.

But Peter put the mourners outside and, alone, entered the room where Dorcas was. The last time Peter has done something like this he was with Jesus and a couple other friends. They entered the room of Jarius’ daughter who had died.  Jesus told her to get up and she did.

Peter imitated Jesus. He called Dorcas’ name and she got up. 

And then calling the saints and widows-Peter showed them Tabitha. Not the work of her hands but the work of God’s hand, the work of the Spirit to resurrect, to give life, to recreate, to lift up. Peter showed them God’s handiwork.

This text is a happy, hopeful one of healing in the face of chronic illness and life in the face of death.

During his life and ministry Jesus called the names of people and they came to life in his presence.  And John recorded that when Jesus was walking in the portico of the temple for the Festival of Dedications, he said that those who believed, who were his “sheep,” would hear his voice, recognize it and follow in his paths of life…

…” my sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Mary recognized the risen Christ in the garden when he called her name.

The disciples followed Jesus when he called their names.  Lazarus came from the tomb when Jesus called his name…  Jarius’ daughter got up from death when he called her name…

Last week we heard Jesus asked Peter he loved him and when Peter said ‘yes’ Jesus commissioned him to call the name of those who were sheep of Jesus’ flock.

Peter was to follow in his master’s steps…  Peter called Tabitha’s name and she came to life!

Some people expect a narrow imitation of Jesus.  Healing ministries and resurrections in the flesh.  However, I would like to suggest that Jesus was all about broad interpretations of God’s relationship to humanity and creation.

Dorcas’ rising to life signals that God values societies’ marginalized citizens like widows, as much after Jesus’ resurrection as before it.  Widows, orphans, children, and other vulnerable people are very close to God’s heart.

The church had to deal with many challenging issues within its ranks as well as in relationship to the Roman Empire and the Temple Establishment. Do people become Christ followers by baptism or by becoming Jewish and then Baptized?  Do women speak in the public settings? Can we embrace within our fellowship people whose culture and appearance is not like our own?

The history of the faith is long but the call to various ministries – has continued because God’s work is not done.

Has Jesus called your name….?  To follow him….  To participate in his healing ministry…  To call the name of someone who is sinking or dying emotionally or physically.  Someone whom Jesus loves, one of the sheep.

He called my name and I’ve never been the same…  He is calling the name of someone here today….  To Come to life, to be resurrected, to rise and follow him….  Is it you? 

John 20:1-18

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told the that he had said these things to her.

Acts 10:34-43

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

What Kind of Fish were They?

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.   Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.  Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”   The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”

9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Revelation 5:11-14

5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

John 21:1-19

21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.  Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.

21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

21:5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were and your mouse for your not able to haul it in because there were so I am and all rulers and are you doing up open up their case at all many fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.

21:8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.   When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.   Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.   Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now, none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.

21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

21:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

21:16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”

21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

“What Kind of Fish were They?”
The Rev Dr Dianne Carpenter
John 21:1-19
1 May 2022

Jim had an awful day fishing on the lake, sitting in the blazing sun all day without catching one.  On his way home, he stopped at the supermarket and ordered for catfish.  He told the fish salesman, “pick four large ones out and throw them at me, will you?” “Why do you want me to throw that you?”  “Because I want to tell my wife that I caught them.”  “Okay but I suggest that you take the orange roughy.”  “Why?”  “Because your wife came in earlier today and said that if you came by, I should tell you to take orange roughy.  She prefers that for supper tonight.”

Tiberias… St Peter fish tilapia….

We’re on the beach when it happens, a man arrives and makes a fire….  Produces a loaf of bread and begins to cook some fish.  We cannot see what kind of fish, but it smells sooooo good….

What kind of fish are being cooked?…  What are you hungry for?

Then you see the man stand up and wave to the seven men in a boat out on the lake ….

There is some shouting and then they all come ashore and stand around the fire…

And you enjoy this wonderful, magical moment…..  And suddenly you realize that you feel closer to this assembly than possible because the words: “Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord” comes into your mind….  And you know their names….  And you remember them: “…  Simon Peter, Thomas called the twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.”

I love the sacramental nature of this whole scene. Jesus was accustomed to the appetite one would have after a long night’s work.  So, he offered them bread and fish.

But in the offer, Jesus also knew of the deeper hunger that each of the disciples possessed.  Hunger for truth; hunger for the love of God; hunger to know this truly was Jesus, risen and standing before them.  So, just as he had offered himself to them every day of his earthly ministry, just as he offered himself to them from the cross, and just as he offered himself to them in the broken bread of that final Passover meal, Jesus once again offers them himself, the bread of life.

Who are you closest to at this moment; Peter the Denyer, Thomas the doubter, Nathaniel the proud, James and John the sons of Zebedee who had said [according to Mark], “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And Jesus said to them, “What you want me to do for you, and two others…

Jesus has come to give followers the desire of their hearts…  What they most desire and need….  More than breakfast after a hard night’s work…  More than success where there had been a failure at the job….  More than coveted seats of power….

At heart, Peter wanted to be forgiven his broken promises and his denial of Jesus on the last night they had eaten together.  Jesus was alive, had appeared to many and to the disciples more than once.  But unable to move past his denial of Jesus and his bravado of steadfastness, Peter went back to the thing he had known from childhood -fishing- and found he could not even do that well!

Until Jesus led him to the future –Peters future –not fishing but shepherding and loving Jesus’ flock, a flock that would grow beyond the imaginings of the last three years.

Across the charcoal fire of breakfast, Jesus begins a poignant journey with Peter filled with questions and answers.  Recalling the very first meeting Jesus says, “Simon son of John, (Simon Bar Jonas) do you love me more than these?” so, just what was Jesus talking about?

Do you love me more than these other men love me?  Do you love me more than you love these men?  Or do you love me more than these things: fishing, fishing boat, nets, the gear, and all the stuff of fishing.  Which one was it?

It was probably a little of all of them.  When Jesus said that all of the disciples would desert him after his betrayal Peter vehemently said,” I don’t care what these guys do, I won’t desert you, no matter what happens.” In a sense Peter had been claiming that his love for Jesus was greater than theirs.  That he was better than them.  But he did these desert Jesus.  Not only did he desert Jesus, he denied even knowing him, not once but three times.  And then the cock crowed.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these men love me?” humbled, all Peter could say was, “Lord, you know I love you.” As if to say,” Lord, I can’t say that anymore.  Not after what I did, but I do love you.”

With love, compassion, mercy, grace, and forgiveness Jesus looked at Peter across that charcoal fire, with the smell of that denial still in the air, and said, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus is being very clear about Peter’s role of caring for the young flock of new Christians, the lambs.  Peter was to feed and nurture them through his leadership and faith.  Peter was no longer simply the apprentice shepherd, now the flock was his.  Jesus was passing the mantle just as Elijah had done with Elisha.  “Feed my lambs.  Be the good shepherd that I was.  Be willing to lay down your life for the flock to as I did.”

As if once weren’t enough, a second time Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter must’ve been confused.  He just answered that question.  And yet Jesus was asking again.  So, Peter didn’t hesitate, “yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” Just in case Peter didn’t get it, he was a little hardheaded time, his strength wasn’t the only reason Jesus called him ‘the rock’.

Tend my sheep.  Be the shepherd to this brand-new flock that is struggling right now.  Be the shepherd I called you to be and I know you can be.  Tend my sheep.

The third time, Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” I wonder if the smoke of the charcoal fire shifted just about then.  Or maybe it was the coals that shifted and sparked up as Peter heard the question and was stung to the very core.  But what ever happened, I think Peter was drawn back to that seen in Caiaphas’ courtyard.  Maybe another cock crowed.  But I think at that moment it all became clear for Peter.

He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Lord, I can’t hide anything from you.  I can’t hold anything back from you.  You know I would take it all back and do something different if I could.”

Tell them and then, when Peter looked across this charcoal fire and locked eyes with Jesus for the third time, what he saw was different.  It wasn’t a loving disappointment.  What he saw was an invitation to come home from the far country.  It was an invitation into forgiveness.  And it was an invitation back into the position of leadership for which Jesus had trained Peter.

Three acts of denial, three acts of redemption across the charcoal fire.  With love and compassion, filled with redemption and forgiveness, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus offered reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption.  And in so doing empowered Peter to be the leader he needed to be.

What kind of fish were you fed on the beach that morning…..  The kind you want and need most.

John 20:1-18

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told the that he had said these things to her.

Acts 10:34-43

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

The Verdict Is In

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

The Verdict Is In
Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18
17 April 2022
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter

 

The Verdict Is In
Will the accused please rise
[trumpeter]  Up from the grave He arose]
Have You come to a verdict?
Yes- liturgist
Choir- Innocent

 

In the case of the world vs. Jesus of Nazareth the first charge

Is he guilty of being a pretender to the throne of heaven?

Innocent

The second count: is He guilty of treason against the emperor of Rome?

Innocent

The third charge: is He guilty of misrepresenting God’s intentions to save humanity from eternal death through the substitutionary death of God’s only begotten son?

Innocent

Jesus was on trial from the beginning of the world.  Every time humanity tried God’s patience God’s choices became more and more limited: send prophets send plagues send God’s only begotten son…

The trial that began Thursday evening with the arrest and detainment of a Galilean rabbi was one of the greatest farces of history-

 

There was no due process-he shuffled around from magistrate to magistrate

There was no jury of his peers for God is peerless…

Now, as a rule, I believe in the principle of Subsidiarity…  Decisions should be made at the grassroots level or at the lowest point in a hierarchical structure-close to the place where the effects will be manifest…

But judgments-judgments are under review to the highest level.  Jesus one before the religious authorities, the Pharisees, and the Sanhedrin.

The witnesses were intimidated, the judgment rigged, the institutional religion protected itself…

Jesus was taken before Herod- the puppet king of Israel- he was humiliated and sent on to the representative of Rome –Pontius pilate.  Pilate did entreat him to plead his case-but the trial itself was the point…

This is a conscientious objection at its best.  Jesus allowed the system to play itself out.  Instead of ‘filling the jails’ Jesus took his place on the cross so that public opinion itself might cry out against the principalities and powers of the world.

Jesus had given his ministry to the grassroots for decisions and for judgment he had taken to eternal life- angel wings

 

II Who is on trial?

Humanity was found guilty of straying so far from God that only God could pay the price…

The crime: wanting a king of the Jews so they could be right without changing- because might is right-guilty

 

The crime: hiding behind the protection of God without being willing to fight the battles of universal moral integrity and the personal battles of breaches of faith-guilty

Crimes: the lack of universal love and respect for the created quality and dignity of life-guilty

Mental insanity must be our plea-to denied this tenet denies the validity of our own created worth

 

The evidence of Jesus’ lordship had been abundant…  But one significant fact had been misread-Perry Mason would never let this happen

The fact that Jesus died on a cross was misread to mean he was a fraud-guilty

The truth was just the opposite.  Only the Lord would die to liberate humanity

 

He tried to tell them.  There is no greater love…  We cannot fathom the motives of God in the death of Jesus…  Unless we cling to the truth of God’s great love for us

 

This morning we hear the evidence that even the most faithful, the woman at the tomb and the leading disciples, cannot piece together the evidence of Christ alive and well in the world-they must be led to it.  God allowed his counsel, the Holy Spirit, finally present and true, to lead these witnesses.

 

God the judge presided at the appeal of Jesus Christ the Lord and overturned the earlier ruling by lower authorities.

The writings concerning Peter and Paul testifying to the world as faithful witnesses-retelling the story at the retrial-The untelevised highly secured [a sealed tomb] retrial!

 

Peter and Paul vowed never to be intimidated again!!!

 

III When Jesus asked his disciples whether they were able to endure the cross and live the resurrection the foolish dreamers answered…  To the death, we’ll follow thee…

How long and how many times must Jesus go on trial in the courts of humanity????

How many of you today are able to say: I walk today where Jesus walked?  Some of you are walking through the valley of death-the death of a friend from illness, from human carelessness perhaps on the job, from the demands of our culture where stress and heart attacks plague many, from the death of a child or spouse…..

How many viewed today are walking through the doubts and the fears of discovering the human potential that was taken from you by abuse and manipulation in your youth?

Do you want to sit in Sheol?  Your choice, pray for help

 

How many of us today suffer from the inability to be God even though people come before us for judgment:

-we are parents interacting with our youth. 

We are leaders voting in our community. 

We are property owners weighing the claims of society through taxation and eminent domain to redistribute the wealth of the world in such a way that we preserve the integrity of life. 

Shall we have armies, shall we have world courts, shall we have import taxes, shall we have school taxes, shall we provide a safety net, shall we build new jails, shall we have capital punishment….

 

We are neighbors to people who must ask themselves:

Who is my neighbor?

The Verdict Is In

Will the accused please rise

[trumpeter]  Up from the grave He arose

Have You come to a verdict?

Yes- liturgist

Choir-Jesus was Innocent!

 

Jesus is Lord!

Christ Is Risen

He Is risen Indeed

 

I am guilty unless I testify to the love of Christ in my life

I will be his witness!

 

Then just as Jesus turned to the dying thief and said

Today you’ll be with me in Paradise

 

John 20:1-18

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told the that he had said these things to her.

Acts 10:34-43

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

The Rock Concert

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

The Rock Concert
10 April 2022
Luke 19:28-40
The Rev. Dr. Dianne ES Carpenter

 

You are probably wondering why I have a bucket of rocks this morning. Well, I thought it would be a good idea for us to have a “rock concert”. I see some of you are smiling. Don’t you believe these rocks could sing? Do you think they could even talk? Do you think they could tell you stories about Jesus? Well, you might be surprised to hear what Jesus himself had to say about that.

Jesus was walking with his disciples toward Jerusalem. When they approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he called two of his disciples to him and said, “Go into the next village where you will find a young donkey. Bring it to me. If anyone asks why you are taking the donkey, just tell them, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

The disciples did as they were told and brought the young donkey to Jesus. They threw their garments over it so that Jesus could ride on him.

As he rode along, crowds were lining the streets and they began praising Jesus and shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” They were creating quite a stir and some of the religious leaders didn’t like it. They asked Jesus to keep his followers quiet. Jesus answered them and said, “If they remain silent, the stones would immediately begin to cry out!”

Palm Sunday usually focuses on the Parade… the arrival of Jesus and the recognition of his presence by people who spot him as he enters the city of Jerusalem during the preparations for the High Holy days of Passover.

Think of the lead-up to the big televised parades for Thanksgiving and the Rose Bowl….everyone is anticipating the floats and the celebrities.

However, the throngs of people are not in Jerusalem for Jesus and His disciples or following after Him, but when He is spotted they are enthusiastic and the news spreads quickly.   Jesus knew this might happen so instead of walking in the milling crowd he orchestrates an appropriate entry reminiscent of the anticipated Messiah from the Book of Zechariah – A Prince of Peace who in His humble entry is the exact opposite of a conquering warlord.

But the people begin calling Him their King and shouting cries of “Save Us” and these outbursts are paramount to publicly objecting to the Roman Occupation.  This is perhaps why some of the Pharisees in the crowd have reason to be concerned.  “Shut them up before the Romans hear people calling on You to initiate a Rebellion!”

Jesus answered them and said, “If they remain silent, the stones would immediately begin to cry out!”

I don’t know if you remember the craze of “pet rocks”  – They were the perfect pet- you could name it, take it with you, caress it…

With a society of stones- there would never be social critique- from the right or the left…

Stone is the heart of our planet.  We ride a giant rock in space.  The sand of our beaches is pulverized rock. The Grand Canyons are formed by waters carving their way through the stone revealing millennia of creation- stones the silent sentries of time.

Rocks make an impression in each generation.  Rocks are solid.  Jesus referred to Peter as THE ROCK on which he would build his church.  …..

If these rocks would cry out this morning, I wonder what they would say? One might tell how a little shepherd boy named David used a small stone to slay a giant to show that we can do anything when God is with us!

Another might tell how the prophet Elijah used stones to build an altar to God. The altar was used to offer a sacrifice to God to prove that He was the one, true God not BAAL.

Jacob used a stone for a pillow as he fled his brother’s wrath – only to have a dream of a ladder to heaven- when he awoke he stood the stone up and poured oil on it and called the place Bethel – House of God – the stone became an altar of devotion.

This rock might tell how Solomon had used stones to build a beautiful temple for people to worship God.

This stone might have waited for someone to pick it up and hurl it at the adulterous woman only to be picked up by a little girl and slipped into her bag for later use.

Still another rock might remind us that Jesus once told a story about a wise man who built his house upon a rock. When the storms came, the house on the rock stood firm.

Yes, these stones might have a lot of stories to tell.  However, the answer of Jesus to the Pharisees was If people are silent and unwilling or unable to Praise the Lord, the stones… The Primal creation matter that is chipped from the mantle of the earth

The hard hearted means of punishment

[as in stoning people to death]

The potential Holy Altars of our Lives

Will Praise the Lord

Who among us have hearts of stone ?

Are we unwilling to trade our ENGINES OF INDUSTRY that destabilize the rock of our planet for fossil fuels for ecologically sound practices and products-

Are we unwilling to trade our ladders of success for gardens of manna sufficiently distributed to feed God’s people

In a society of stones there arise voices crying out.  Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., T.S. Eliot, ….….. even we can become the beloved pet rocks of Jesus – His imitators – His champions of a Peaceable Kingdom and part of the foundation for which Jesus the Christ is the cornerstone! 

To our God belongs honor and praise and glory
The people were not silenced
Just as the followers of Jesus lined the streets to praise their King, you and I are here today to praise our Messiah. As long as we tell the Good News of an alternative Kingdom of Peace and Justice… As long as we praise him, there will be no need for these stones to cry out. And I would suggest that we make truly beautiful proclamations when we Praise the Lord in Concert.  I am using the term the way it was used in “Concerts of prayer” invitations… When we refuse to be silenced and we make beautiful harmony together our offering is Good Enough.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating Passover beginning on the 15th– Good Friday – just as they were at the passion and crucifixion of our Lord.  Jesus becomes for us the exodus from slavery unto sin and the acceptable offering.

Dear Lord, we know that you would rather hear us praise you than to hear a “rock concert.” So Lord, we lift your name on high! Amen.

2088 Lord we lift Your Name on High

Luke 19:28-40 New International Version

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

The Fire Next Time: Threat or Promise

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

Isaiah 43:1-7; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
The Rev Dr Dianne Carpenter“The Fire Next Time: Threat or Promise”
9 January 2022

The  Judeo- Greek world in which Jesus arrived and Christianity was born had long held that the elements of all life were Earth, Air, Water and Fire.  God breathed life into the first humans in the Genesis account after fashioning them from the Earth itself.  Water and Fire also play essential parts in the life story of our faith.

Baptism by water is not unique to Christianity.  The use of water to dedicate and purify, to signify new beginnings, has a place in many cultures.  We know that as a Jewish practice Jesus went to the Jordan where John was baptizing people.

Titus Flavius Josephus was a first century Roman Jewish historian born in Jerusalem.  His father came from the priestly lineage and his mother claimed royal ancestry.  In Galilee he was the head of the Jewish forces until they surrendered in 67 AD to Vespasian.  Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship.  He served as an adviser and translator to Titus when Titus led the siege of Jerusalem.

Josephus recorded Jewish history with special emphasis on the first century in a book called The Antiquities of the Jews.  Josephus recorded that [1] John exhorted Jews to begin to live righteous lives toward one another and toward God, which required repentance turning from sin and toward obedience to the law.[2] John required those who responded to undergo an immersion in water-baptism. [3] John insisted that the cleansing of the soul resulted from the repentance and not from baptism. [4] and Josephus said John’s interpretation of the baptism was a consecration of the body.  Josephus is referring to ritual cleansing.

Josephus omits an important element from John’s message.  In the gospels John speaks of an imminent judgment, and that he is a precursor to the one greater than he, whose sandals he is not worthy to untie and one who will baptize with the spirit of holiness.

In the passage from Acts we see that Phillip, one of the Jewish Christians in the church after Pentecost has fled Jerusalem because of the persecution which broke out against the early Christians.  Philip arrives in Samaria where he preaches the gospel, performs miracles in the name of Jesus, and drives out demons in the name of Jesus.

The folk in Samaria have come to believe in Jesus and they are baptized in water in the name of Jesus.  Water-baptism……. a sign of cleansing, a sign of being buried with Christ as they go under the water, a sign of being raised to new life in Christ as they came out of the water.  Water-baptism, the sign of putting to death the old self in the hope of the new self-manifesting and growing.

Have you been baptized and are you living your baptism?

But the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them: they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

John had been baptizing in the water of the Jordan River, but throughout his ministry he made it clear that he only baptized with water.  Someone is coming more powerful than I, I’m not even worthy to untie his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 

While it was water the first time it will be the Fire Next Time

Notice…  He will baptize you….  You who are already water baptized….  You need a further baptism.

While Jesus’ baptism is marked by the descending dove the Pentecost event of the Holy Spirit arriving upon the disciples was Tongues of Fire.

The baptism which will impart to you, the ruach, the wind, the breath, the power of God himself.

Paul will later write that the spirit in us, the power in us, is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
What power was that?  God’s power, God’s Holy Spirit.
And John says, there is someone coming who will baptize you, immerse you, fill you…  With the power.
And not only that…  He will also set you on fire.

Peter and John arrive in Samaria and they notice that while Philip was baptized into the name of Jesus and baptized with the Holy Spirit and baptized with fire…  His converts, the church in Samaria, were only baptized into the name of Jesus.

The Samaritan church was in danger of becoming what nearly 1800 years later John Wesley would fear the Methodist movement would become: a people with the form of religion, with all the right beliefs and practices of religion…  But with no power.

John Wesley’s fear:

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should never cease to exist either in Europe or America.  But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit and discipline with which they first set out. ”

Peter and John notice that these folks who believe with all their heart in the name of Jesus, do not have the power of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

So, what did Peter and John do-they prayed and the believers in jesus’ name received the Spirit of God and the Church of Christ caught fire in that place.

There is someone coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  But someone has come, and his name is Jesus

The Jesus event was the beginning of a new era of God’s dealing with humanity- the new covenant.  This is then our double birthright as children of God –to be saved from our sins and to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  And God certainly wants to give us our full birthright – not just half of it.

The Holy Spirit is pictured in the New Testament as a river flowing from the throne of God and falling to earth.  To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be immersed under this waterfall.  Jesus said that all those who thirst should come to him and receive the Holy Spirit so the Rivers of living water would flow of from their innermost being.

The experience of the average believer, however, is more akin to the hand pump of life struggling and pumping out a few drops of blessing from a dry heart.  To have rivers’ of blessing flowing out from us to all who come in touch with us is the will of God for our lives.

What we need in order to live the Christian life is not just a doctrine but the power of God in our life.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives us power for Godliness as well as power for service.

R.A. Torrey’s book The Baptism With The Holy Spirit is a great study of the Holy Spirit.  He states: “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service.”

We cannot live a life that pleases God or that fulfills all his will, in our own strength.  Some people realize this at the beginning of their Christian life others discovered the hard way-by trying and failing repeatedly for many years and then turning to God for God’s power.  Unfortunately there’s still others who after failing repeatedly finally resigned themselves to a life of defeat, believing that is impossible to live victoriously in this life.

John the Baptist pointed to two ministries that Jesus would fulfill-one was to take away sins and the other was to baptize people in the Holy Spirit.  We need to experience both of these.  Most of us want to know that our past failings are not a permanent definition of who we are.  We pray that we can be better in the future and receive pardon in the final analysis

Isaiah 43:1-7  NRSV  Restoration and Protection Promised

43 But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Ethiopia[a] and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
    and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
    and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

 

Acts 8:14-17   New Revised Standard Version

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come[a] upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John[b] laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17   New Revised Standard Version

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,[a] 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his 7sandals. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:21-22  NRSV   The Baptism of Jesus

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[a] with you I am well pleased.”[b]

Pastoral Prayer

Your word of light and hope floods into our lives, O God. We have lived in darkness, in despair and fear, doubt and strife. But on this day of celebration, you remind us that we are marked by you to be witnesses to your light of new hope. As the heavens opened at Jesus’ baptism, so is your love poured out on us. We have brought before you names and situations which concern us, people who face illness and grief, whose lives are torn by poverty, war, alienation, addiction, and hopelessness. We ask for your loving mercy on them, O Lord. Heal them and bind up their wounds. Help us to be people who are ready to be involved in ministries of peace and justice, bringing the light of your hope to those who dwell in darkness and despair. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Benediction

People of hope and peace, go into the world. Bring God’s healing love to all whom you meet. Help with ministries, which promote justice and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: WHITE

SURFACE: Place a 10″riser at the center back of the worship table. Place two 8″ risers to the right and left of the center riser, slightly forward. Place three 4″ risers in front of the 8″risers across the worship table.

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with a light blue/green fabric, making sure that it puddles on the floor in front of the worship center.

CANDLES: On either side of the 10″ riser, place tall altar/worship center candles. Place a votive candle in front of each of the three 4″ risers.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Place new, small plants on each side of the tall candles and at various places around the worship table. These may be set in small containers or terra cotta pots, but they should be newly grown plants.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place small groups of pebbles around the base of each of the containers

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the 10″ riser. At the apex of the cross place a descending dove. OR you may make a descending dove from poster board or heavy cardboard and place it above the cross on the worship center.

THEME IDEAS

The psalmist depicts God’s glory and majesty. Isaiah shows us God’s strength—divine power is not just for show but is available to protect, support, and nurture God’s beloved children. The story of Jesus’ baptism evokes feelings of awe and wonder. It is impossible to picture the heavens opening and the Holy Spirit descending as a dove without total amazement! And yet, through our own sharing in the baptism of Christ, we are able to experience the intimacy of a God who loves us as precious children, a God who calls each of us by name.

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

 

Christmas Eve

Worship Time
10:00 AM
1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Tel: 508-432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com

As birth narratives go the Greek Gods had “unnatural” births: Dionysus was born “perfect” from Zeus’ thigh. Athena was born fully grown from Zeus’s forehead, fully armed and clad in armor. No Labor pains here. Also no humanity. Humans need to push to accomplish co-creation with God and that was the plan for Jesus: God fully human and fully divine.

The Isaiah passage is classic for Christmas Eve. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light for a child’s been born for us, a son given to us.  Of course, Isaiah’s not writing about Jesus. For Isaiah, this is a passage of regime change where the powers of one generation are passed onto the next. And every time that happens, there is a possibility, an opening for God’s grace to break through on the stage of human history. Isaiah is saying that this is the opportunity for us as we pass leadership to another generation that children can save us. But that’s a very vulnerable thing to confess and a very anti-establishment thing to confess. As church, as families, we spend so much of our time trying to form the next generation so that they will be like us. And we can get really upset when they’re not. They dress different, use different criteria to define themselves and understand communication media! But the possibility also exists that they might take seriously saving the environment, the creatures and the human race!

The only possibility that God’s grace could break through on the stage of human history were the PUSH principles of: Prayer, Preparation, Persistence and Praise.  In the generations of the People of God, prophets, matriarchs and patriarchs stepped up when called and told the People ”you must Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise God until something happens.”

The glorious possibility is that God could do something new. God might heal a world as broken as ours is, that would be Good News. A new generation could actually give good advice, and counsel us in ways that stir up marvel and amazement, not just repetition of our hard-learned lessons. People could be set free. The Prince of Peace, who would not be going to war on our behalf and in our name, would bring peace to us and others who would choose something besides war.

How will change happen? Well, part of it has to be letting go of what was before.  Jesus came to help humanity let go of erroneous notions and interpretations of God’s law.

Part of the process of birth is Knowing when to PUSH letting what has grown up inside you get out. And as the mother’s cry fades into the child’s cry we believe in a God who hears both of those cries and wipes all of those tears.  Like Mary we need to let the child out And cut the cord. The child Jesus, this new thing God has done.

Our children never see things through our own eyes. We behold them face to face, but that means we see things from opposite directions, very literally. And what they see and we can’t see is a miraculous opportunity.

Birthing is a painful time. It is a time of great crying. But PUSH we must. And after all that labor, How frightening if we do not hear the child cry!

So Isaiah tells the People of God to anticipate a child with new ideas and possibilities. Isaiah and all the prophetic voices say: Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise until something happens- Prayer, Preparation, Persistence and Praise. Voila THE child.

Secondly, On Christmas Eve, we think about the stars aligning. So there’s a great light over the nativity. God’s light is always exactly where you need it in the dark. God’s light was in Christ Jesus – and He was God – the same God that was at Creation.

How often are you in a dimly lit place and you’re trying to read something, and the light’s behind you, and you’re in the way you can’t see what you’re reading because you are in the way.

Let the light shine – shift. Shift is not quite PUSH but it could be shove.  You’ve got to shift [PUSH Yourself] to let the light shine on what needs to be illumined. You need to move the light or move yourself, sometimes you need to move heaven and earth for the possibility of salvation.

So this moment in time – the end of 2021, while we contemplate the Birth of Jesus of Nazareth and the labor necessary to birth his agenda of LOVE that is Peace with Justice in all areas of Human interaction – this is the time to push: to Pray, Prepare, Persist and Praise Until Something Happens to create a more just social order – until the Kingdom comes on Earth as it is in Heaven.

 

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734
harwichumc@gmail.com