Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main Street Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 September 27, 2020 Evangelism Sunday
Welcome and Announcements
*Call to Worship Psalm 34:8
O taste and see that the Lord is good.
Happy are those who take refuge in the Lord.
*Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, we pray for your blessing
on the church in this place.
Here may the faithful find salvation,
and the careless be awakened.
Here may the doubting find faith,
and the anxious be encouraged.
Here may the tempted find help,
and the sorrowful comfort.
Here may the weary find rest,
and the strong be renewed.
Here may the aged find consolation
and the young be inspired;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Old Testament Reading Exodus 17:1-7
Time for Young Disciples
New Testament Reading Philippians 2:1-13
The Morning Message
In my very first week of seminary, in New Testament Survey, I was introduced to a new word and a new theological concept. Like any first week in any professional school, new words and concepts come at you so fast it’s like trying to drink from a fire hose. This was no exception.
Every class began with a time of worship- prayer and a hymn or chorus. On this particular morning, my new friend and classmate, I’ll call her Sue, walked to the front of the room, boom box in hand. She was leading worship, and it would begin with a contemporary Christian song, “Broken and Spilled Out.” This song had special meaning for Sue. It describes the gospel text in which Jesus and his disciples had gathered for a meal, and then, as an act of devotion, Mary broke a jar of sweet perfume and poured it over Jesus’ feet, drying it with her hair. Like the perfume, Mary’s own life had been broken and spilled out before Jesus, only to be filled with a new life following his example of humility, compassion, and love.
Likewise, Sue’s life was broken and spilled out through many years of ups and downs. Relying on her resources and desires alone, her life was wholly unsatisfying. She was headed toward disaster. It was in kneeling in humility before Jesus, confessing her sins and seeking his mind and heart, that she found life, and and it came rushing over her like water from the rock in our Exodus text. Her life was “Broken and Spilled Out.”
Which left us all prepared to receive the word of the day: “kenosis.”
Kenosis is a Greek word which describes the self-emptying of Jesus’ own will in order to be entirely receptive to God’s divine will.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross.”
Paul is urging the good people at the Church of Philippi to adopt a kenotic way of life. Why? Because there had apparently been conflict and it was damaging the church. The members were not imitating Christ.
People bring baggage to church with them. Of course we do, because it is a safe place to lay down our burdens. Our church is often times our second home and family. Church folks may be the only family some people have. And have you ever known a perfect family? A family where everyone brushes AND flosses and never brings the car home on empty? Me neither.
So, at the First Church of Philippi, there’s conflict and it is so serious that it threatens to fracture the fellowship. Oh, my. I could tell you some stories. I was once dispatched to mediate a church conflict. The plan was to work with the session two nights and the next week work with the congregation. Well, the first thing that happened was the session got into an argument about the interpretation of a Bible passage we were using for a devotion. This did not inspire confidence.
The second night, the pastor had a heart attack. We were doomed.
That situation could have been resolved satisfactorily, if everyone had taken Paul’s advice and emptied themselves of their tightly-held biases and taken on the mind of Christ. According to Paul, when Jesus emptied himself, he poured out his love. With an outpouring of love comes the other fruit of Spirit-joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
A new-born baby is a full time job. A friend of mine had a very difficult time with her new-born, to the point that she felt like a failure. Baby didn’t sleep, was not feeding well, and cried day and night. She didn’t know how she could go on. So, one really stressful night, she knelt by her baby’s crib and prayed for God to take over.
And God did. Out of her brokenness, poured love, and energy, and skill, and her maternal instinct was evident for all to see. She is a wonderful mother. Her children are grown now and on their own. Strong, resourceful, confident…like their mom.
The kenosis ethic invites us to imitate Christ, who took on a human body, growing and changing, feeling hunger and thirst, fatigue and pain, joy and love…and became for us the very bread of heaven and the cup of salvation.
One day a plain village woman
driven by love for her Lord,
recklessly poured out a valuable essence
disregarding the scorn.
And once it was broken and spilled out,
a fragrance filled all the room,
like a prisoner released from his shackles,
like a spirit set free from the tomb.
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
*Affirmation of Faith
1 Corinthians 15:1-6; Matthew 16:16; Mark 16:9; John 20:28; Revelation 22:13
This is the good news which we have received,
in which we stand,
and by which we were saved,
if we hold it fast:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day,
and that he appeared
first to the women,
then to Peter, then to the Twelve,
and then to many witnesses.
We believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of the Living God.
Jesus Christ is the first and the last,
the beginning and the end;
He is our Lord and our God. Amen.
*Blessing 2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
The session, both currently serving and newly-elected, will meet Oct. 1, 2020 at 7:00PM by Zoom. Directions will follow.
In observance of St. Francis Day, Christ the King Lutheran Church and Pea Ridge United Methodist Church will host a Pet Blessing October 4 at 4:00PM at the pavilion behind CTK.
St. Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of Animals.
As the pandemic has presented numerous challenges for all of us, it is especially hard for the needy among us. KMPC has supported the ministry of ECCHO for years and now is a good time to help this organization. ECCHO has a special need for personal hygiene items. You may bring these to church any week and we will see that they are delivered. Financial contributions may be sent to ECCHO, 1036 Smith St. Milton, WV 25541.
Work is scheduled to begin October 19 on the HVAC project at KMPC. We anticipate work to be complete by month’s end.
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main St. Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 Service of WorshipSeptember 20, 2020
Welcome and Announcements
*Call to Worship Psalm 105
O give thanks to the Lord, call upon God’s name.
Make known God’s deeds among the peoples.
Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God.
Tell of all the Lord’s wonderful works.
Glory in God’s holy name.
Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Prayer of the Day
God and Father of all, you have willed that the last shall be first,
and you have made a little child the measure of your kingdom.
Give us that wisdom that is from above, so that we may understand that, in your sight,
the one who serves is the greatest of all.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Time for Young Disciples
Old Testament Reading Exodus 16:2-15
Gospel Reading Matthew 20:1-16
The Morning Message
According to the source of all wisdom, Google, we find these statistics:
The average pay for a garbage collector is @$16 an hour.
The average pay for a cardiologist is $454, 000 a year.
The average pay for a child care worker is less than $10 an hour.
The average pay for an NFL player is $1.9 a year.
These figures probably don’t surprise any of us. So, to bring things a little closer to home, chew on this one:
The average pay for a teacher in New York is $86, 000 a year. The average salary for a teacher in West Virginia is $45, 000 a year.
What constitutes fair and unfair when it comes to setting a salary? Pay discrepancy is a hot topic in many corners. Does a teacher in West Virginia work any less, prepare any less, face fewer challenges than a teacher in New York? I know we have to allow for cost of living, but, seriously, is it fair?
What constitutes fair and unfair in our text today?
Anyone who has worked an hourly wage at some time in their life can appreciate the inequity in this story. Should someone who has only worked one hour receive the same compensation as the one who has put in a full day’s work? I don’t even have to think about this. The answer is no. It’s just not right.
Rev. Dr. Greg De Loach says that just a block away from where he once served as pastor, was a meeting place for day laborers to gather. Mostly men, young and old, who would do nearly any kind of work- yard work, painting, carpentry, hauling away trash-in order to earn enough to put food on their table that day.
They were not lazy or loitering, they were willing to stand in a place of humility, and present themselves for work. They only wanted what all of us want- a way to provide for themselves and their loved ones. The circumstances we can debate, but the need and the desire are universal.
Remember last week when I talked a bit about “Jesus math”? Well, here’s another example of it. Jesus math and our math are calculated differently.
Many biblical scholars believe this parable describes justice in God’s economy. What was the concern? There was considerable controversy between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Jewish Christians, like Saul, who became Paul at his conversion, wrote about this in his letters to the early churches. He tried to settle the debate when he said “there is no longer Jew or Gentile,” and so forth. Gentile Christians were often considered “Johnny-come-lately” believers. They were considered “lesser thans,” with little agency in the emerging church. Paul believed this was wrong-headed.
In the parable, when the workers begin to grumble, the owner asks, “Are you envious because I’m generous?” In Greek, this is translated as “Is your eye evil because I am good?”
Many of us have an eye for evil. That is, we see evil where God sees good. Jesus said so. But, in our defense, is it evil to believe that someone working one hour should be paid less than one who worked all day long?
Jesus calls us out on this. The landowner in the story says, “Oh, but it’s my vineyard, my money. We agreed to a wage and I’m not paying you one cent less. I keep my word. Your beef is that I see a way to do good here. I am seeing good.”
How can we see good when there is so much evil in the world? You name it: there are so many cruel injustices in life: racism and sexism, crime, religious persecution, ethnic cleansing. There are disasters that bring destruction and death. We are reminded of evil 24 hours a day.
And we care deeply about overcoming injustice. The General Assembly has designated today Christian and Society Sunday. We are called on to take our citizenship seriously. The Church calls on all people of faith to work toward a world of peace and equality. We lost a champion in that mission with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg Friday night. She understood fully the obstacles of injustice: she was a woman, a Jew, and a working mother. And my heroine.
When we say God is good, we have to be willing to admit that God’s goodness, God’s presence and power, is always held in tension with the cold hard facts: evil exists.
But, let’s return to an application of Jesus math. What good is God pointing us toward in this story?
The faithful, hard-working laborers believe they are more valuable than the late-coming workers. They deserve a larger expression of the landowner’s favor. In spiritual terms, Jesus says:
the newest convert has as much voice as the one who has been in the church since they were on the Cradle Roll. The newest members have agency same as the old-timers.
One of the things I’ve learned and love about Kuhn is that several people came to Kuhn when St. Andrews closed. And, you have embraced one another, included one another, value one another. Your faith and lives are richer because of your relationships. I might even go so far as to say that what was a traumatic event turned out to be a blessing. God used it for good.
Rev. Suzanne Guthrie offers these remarks related to this passage:
A man named Peter died and his wife asked Suzanne to officiate his funeral service. The only problem was that Peter had no use for religion. He was vocal and profane about his lack of need for God or any of God’s associates.
Well, Peter became very sick. He was a drug addict, skilled at manipulation, mad at the world, and terminally ill with AIDS.
But, Suzanne says, Peter got to see heaven. One day, the space above the television, beyond the wall and the ceiling, opened into a billowing heaven. He saw dead relatives. He saw angels. Peter described in detail to his family what he was seeing. In the next death crisis, Peter allowed the priest he’d previously thrown out of his room, to hear his confession. And Peter died in peace, having seen heaven in the eleventh hour.
Some of us, who have worked in the vineyard of God all our lives, have never seen heaven. Not once. Mother Teresa is remembered as saying she never had a personal theophany-a vision-of God. But, what wonders God did through her. Others have seen God through her ministry.
Who did God love more? Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or Peter, the addict?
God loved them both more than we can even imagine. Because in Jesus math, you just can’t put a price on grace.
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
*Affirmation of Faith (from A Brief Statement of Faith)
We trust in God,
whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good
and makes everyone equally in God’s image,
male and female, of every race and people,
to live as one community,
but we rebel against God, we hide from our Creator.
Ignoring God’s commandments,
we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
accept lies as truth,
exploit neighbor and nature,
and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God’s condemnation.
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
In everlasting love,
the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people
to bless all families of the earth.
Hearing their cry,
God delivered the children of Israel
from the house of bondage.
Loving us still,
God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
God is faithful still.
Charge and Blessing
Go out into the world in peace. Have courage! Hold fast to what is good. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the suffering. Honor all people. Love and serve the Lord your God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It has been the tradition of the Barboursville community to come together annually for a Service of Thanksgiving. In observation of health and safety guidelines, the Barboursville area ministers will offer a virtual Thanksgiving service this year. Details will follow.
The Greater Barboursville Community Outreach dinners have been suspended due to the pandemic. Food insecurity is still a problem in our area. You are encouraged to support charitable organizations that focus on feeding the hungry among us.
Christ the King Lutheran Church and Pea Ridge United Methodist Church will host a pet blessing, in observance of St. Francis Day, on Sunday, October 4 at 4PM at the pavilion behind CTK. You are invited to bring your pets and join in this special occasion. Please remember to wear a mask.
Leading worship today: Mr. Mark Baker, Music; Rev. Cinda Harkless, Pastor
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church