Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main St. Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 Worship for November 1, 2020 All Saints Sunday
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Call to Worship
Holy God of wind and fire,
dance through our worship today.
Holy God of earthquakes and illness,
share our memories, our tears of sadness and loss.
Holy God of creation and new beginnings,
show us again your vision of healing and wholeness
and the promise of life here and in the world to come.
Eternal God, you have knit together your people of all times and places into one communion in the mystical body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may be encouraged and strengthened, persevering in our part of faith’s course, until such time as we join the great cloud of witnesses in our eternal home. Amen.
New Testament Readings Revelation 21:1-6; Matthew 5:1-12
The Morning Message From Presbyterian Outlook, Rev. Jill Duffield, Editor
Ed and I took our daughter and grandson for a ride on the Durbin Rocket, a steam-powered train, a few days ago. We got there via Elkins. On our way to and from Durbin, we drove through the Tygart Valley, a beautiful, expansive valley dotted with farms and houses and very few businesses. We noticed a number of churches of all sorts of Christian persuasions. But when we came upon the Tygarts Valley Presbyterian Church, we were so struck by its beauty that we stopped, backed up and just took it in. In fact there are at least four Presbyterian churches along that drive, all of them testifying to faith in Jesus Christ across the centuries.
At home, I started doing some research on that church in particular and found a rich history. The church has been in existence since before the Revolutionary War. A lot of history has taken place between that era and this, and I wondered how we 21st century Christians might measure up to our hardy forebears. What would they think of how our churches live out the call of Christ, what our response has been to a devastating pandemic, why we are emoting with such ardor over the election to come next Tuesday?
I ran across an article in the current issue of Presbyterian Outlook that spoke to me in this moment. I offer it to you in the spirit of our ancestors, who labored in extraordinary circumstances to settle this land we call “almost heaven.” May they find us faithful.
All tribes, every nation, together in worship.
How lovely. God has such love for us that we are called children of God. How beautiful. When God appears we will be like God because we will see God for who God is. How utterly astounding and good. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the peacemakers, those persecuted for righteousness. How hopeful and powerful. The texts for this Sunday, this All Saints’ Day, resound with glory and grace, unity and belonging, blessing times blessing times blessing. The contrast of such language cannot be denied when laid alongside the bombardment of political ads and fearmongering and social media yelling coming at us mere days before the election.
A picture of every tribe and nation united in worship seems naïve if not laughable. Envisioning each other as God’s children feels all but impossible when the message of our culture is one of winning and losing, for us or against us, completely right or completely wrong. Even Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount riff with blessings comes across as more fantasy than the living, true word of God. What do we do with such a stark rift between the signal of the Bible and the noise of our world? Can we really look like the God we profess to follow when we are so shaped by our professed secular tribes?
I listened to the podcast “Crackers and Grape Juice” recently with Douglas Harink as the guest. Harink he discussed his book, “Resurrecting Justice: Reading Romans for the Life of the World.” Harink, a Canadian commenting on the American political landscape said: “Both sides are thinking that somehow or another getting this or that party elected is good for Christians. I think my point of view is neither side is good for Christians. Because effectively they have become idolatrous powers that Christians are looking to for salvation.” He went on to say that he in no way believes Christians should not engage in politics and that there is an important role for such engagement. However, again and again, he emphasized that Christians look only to Jesus Christ for salvation and that justice is accomplished by God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our focus, our ultimate hope, ought to be the same as that of every tribe and nation in Revelation: Jesus Christ.
I appreciated the conversation and it caused me to examine my own anxiety and hopes around this year’s election. Unquestionably, much is at stake and I believe it is incumbent upon people of faith to participate and vote. But regardless of outcome, Jesus will continue to be Lord of all, the Lamb on the throne of heaven, the Word made flesh, Emmanuel and God Incarnate. We do not need to forget or discount this irrevocable truth. Further, we will still be called the children of God and Jesus’ blessings of the meek and the mourning and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will not be rescinded nor prevented.
All Saints’ Day this year provides me with a sure and certain hope that is embodied not solely in Jesus Christ, but made tangible in the people of faith who have gone through many ordeals and remained steadfast in their loyalty to Christ and their love for neighbor and world. I do not want to tether my hopes too tightly to any earthly power because to do so is to diminish the providence and omnipotence of the Triune God who has no equal.
This Sunday, this All Saints’ Day just days before our presidential election in the year of a global pandemic, I need to worship the Lamb who died that we might live, the Messiah who ate with sinners and told us to love the unlovable and the unlovely in order that the world would know that we are his followers. I need to remember the great cloud of witnesses and the members of every tribe and nation over the vast expanse of time who refused to succumb to the lesser (but so appealing) gods of vengeance, hate and cynicism. When I picture that glorious heavenly worship, I see some of the saints who entered the Church Triumphant this year. Saints like John Lewis who said at Montreat in 2015, “Never, ever let someone pull you down so low you hate them.” The saint who said to all of us in words published in the New York Times the day of his funeral: “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”
When I think this All Saints’ Sunday about the children of God who resemble the One they follow, I think about an elder in a church I served who worked tirelessly for equity in education, who when he could no longer speak, used a letter board and his pointer finger to slowly spell out “I love you” at the end of what would turn out to be my last visit with him. I think of so many who have endured so much and yet kept the faith, living the faith, focused on the saving power of Jesus Christ. I think of them and know they would tell me they were blessed through it all because they served a loving God who kept them from sinking so low that they hated another but instead had a good hope for all.
I do not know what we will wake up to on Wednesday morning — or any morning for that matter. I do know, though, the Lamb sits on the throne in heaven, Jesus came to save sinners, Christ will come again and nothing will be lost to the One who came to save the world. This beautiful, glorious truth enables me to worship this Sunday and tomorrow and the next day, even as I seek to do God’s will, however poorly, but surely with the promise that I, that you, that we, are so beloved we are called children of God and so we are.
Solo Pie Jesu Gabriel Faure (1895-1924)
Pious Jesus, give them rest
Madeline Blake - soprano
Affirmation of Faith From A Declaration of Faith, Chapter 10, Hope in God, PCUSA 1985
In the death of Jesus Christ, God’s way in the world seemed finally defeated. But death was no match for God. The resurrection of Jesus was God’s victory over death. Death often seems to prove that life is not worth living, that our best efforts and deepest affections go for nothing. We do not yet see the end of death. But Christ has been raised from the dead, transformed and yet the same person. In his resurrection is the promise of ours. We are convinced the life God wills for us is stronger than the death that destroys us. The glory of that life exceeds our imagination but we know we shall be with Christ. So we treat death as a broken power. Its ultimate defeat is certain. In the face of death we grieve. Yet in hope we celebrate life. No life ends so tragically that its meaning and value are destroyed. Nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayers of the Faithful and the Lord’s Prayer
This morning we remember family, friends, and loved ones who have joined
the blessed company of the saints in light during this church year.
John Minichan, Betty Nikolaus, Jane Brown, Laura Fry
When we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that, as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life.
For if we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5
Eternal God, we bless you for the great company of all those who have kept the faith, finished their race, and now rest from their labor. We praise you for those dear to us:
John, Betty, Jane, and Laura
and for those we name now in our hearts whom you have received into your presence.
Help us to believe where we have not seen, trusting you to lead us through our years.
Bring us at last with all your saints into the joy of your home, through Christ Jesus who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father…Amen.
Hymn I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
Text: L. Scott, 1929; Music: John Henry Hopkins, 1940
I sing a song of the saints of God, faithful and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor and one was a queen and one was a shepherdess on the green.
They were all of them saints of God and I mean, God helping, to be one, too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear, and God’s love made them strong.
And they followed the right for Jesus’ sake the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier and one was a priest, and one was slain by a fierce, wild beast.
And there’s not any reason, no, not the least, why I shouldn’t be one, too.
They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds and thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folks like me, and I mean to be one, too.
Go out in confidence that your lives are safe in God.
Keep your hands clean and your hearts pure.
Do not act falsely or deceitfully.
Trust in the Lord, even in the face of death,
and follow in the footsteps of all God’s saints.
And may God keep a protective eye on you;
May Christ Jesus show you his grace and mercy;
And may the Holy Spirit give you a vision of the life of the world made new.
Work is nearing completion on the heating and air conditioning project. The congregation will be notified as soon as possible of a date when we will gather again for worship in the sanctuary.
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main St. Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 October 25, 2020 Reformation Sunday
Call to Worship Psalm 46:1-3, 8-11
God is our refuge and strength
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
The Holy One says,
“Be still and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God Text: Martin Luther, 1529
Translator: Frederick H. Hedge, 1852
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing.
Our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our strength confide,
our striving would be losing.
Were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he.
Lord Sabaoth his name,
from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us.
We will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go;
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill,
God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever!
Prayer of Confession
We confess that we have taken your commandments and turned them into rules.
We have criticized those who have fallen short
and selfishly proclaimed ourselves righteous.
We have failed to understand the spirit of the commandments
and the way you showed us to live-
loving God and loving neighbors.
Forgive us for turning your law into burdens
and ignoring the glorious freedom from sin, gained by the
saving death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Assurance of Grace 1John 4:16
God is love.
Those who abide in love, abide in God,
and God abides in them.
Friends, believe the good news of the gospel.
Know you are forgiven and be at peace.
Scripture Reading Romans 8:22-39
The Morning Message
This is a special day in the life of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. It is Reformation Day. Some churches may celebrate this day with a traditional “Kirkin’ of the Tartans,” or parade of tartans, or colors, in the church, by which each Scottish clan is identified. This is a nod to our Scottish history and a fun way to remember our forebears in the faith. I don’t own a tartan, although there is a good Scottish presence in my family. So, I might just enjoy some tea and shortbread.
Until the Renaissance of the 15th century, the authority of the Roman Catholic Church remained largely unquestioned in Western Europe. The invention of the printing press in Germany around 1440 made it possible for common people to have access to printed materials including the Bible. At this time in history, the language of the church was Latin, an academic language, and unknown to the general public. The ability to read the Bible in one’s own language enabled many to discover religious thinkers who had begun to question the authority of the church. Martin Luther was one such person. He was a German priest and professor. Luther started the movement known as the Protestant Reformation.
In 1517, Luther posted his list of 95 theses – grievances against the Roman Catholic Church- on a church door in Wittenburg, Germany. Some twenty years later, a French-Swiss lawyer and theologian, John Calvin, further refined the Reformers’ way of thinking about the nature of God and God’s relationship with humanity in what came to be known as Reformed theology. John Knox, a Scotsman who studied with Calvin in Geneva, took Calvin’s writings back to Scotland. Other Reformed communities developed in England, Holland, and France. And we shouldn’t leave out the Waldensians of Italy in this movement toward a Protestant way of life and faith.
Important to the Reformers are what became known as the Five Solas, or Solae. These ideas shaped the doctrine of the early Protestant churches.
The five solas are:
Sola Scriptura. “Scripture alone.”
Sola fide. “Faith alone.”
Sola gratia. “Grace alone.”
Solus Christus. “Through Christ alone.”
Soli Deo Gloria. “Glory to God alone.”
That little word, “alone,” set Reformed theology apart from Roman Catholicism. Reformers held that authority in the church came via sola Scriptura, or, Scripture alone. Rejected were the elements of tradition and experience, to which the Roman Church adhered. Reformers held that we are saved by faith alone that comes through the grace of God alone. Good works were not efficacious to our salvation. Reformers taught that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between human beings and God. Rejected were any other mediators- saints, the Virgin Mary, priests. And that our salvation is won for us, by God, through the saving death of God’s Son, Jesus, and not due to any merit on our part.
The result, at least in Presbyterian circles, was to reject or eliminate what some Reformers believed were unnecessary or ostentatious accoutrements of the church. Protestant worship could seem austere. Gone were the icons, incense and bells, and the Mass from every service of worship. Only two Sacraments were acknowledged: Baptism and Communion, because these were the Sacraments Jesus instituted. Calvin taught that the congregation was the primary choir for worship and so the choir went to the back of the congregation. The original choir loft at Kuhn was located in the back, what we now call the balcony. It was Calvinistic in its placement.
A lot has changed in the world and in the church in the last five hundred years. I’m writing this message on Wednesday afternoon in my kitchen. Just looking around the room I see a refrigerator that keeps our milk and eggs cold; I see a television that keeps me up-to-date with a twenty-four-seven news feed; a tea kettle, a crock pot, a toaster, and a stove which eliminate the need to keep a fire going in the backyard. I am working from a laptop computer on which I compose sermons and newsletter articles and committee reports. It also connects me to the session and my grandchildren in North Carolina. On it, I can chat with friends all over the world. I shop on-line. It is safe and convenient. Twenty years into the 21st century, it seems progress leads us to limitless possibilities. And that’s just the view from the kitchen in an average home.
We have made huge social advancements: earlier today, my husband and I voted in the US General Election. We participated in democracy. And, probably the greatest change is that I am speaking to you as an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament. Ordination for women was not adopted until the latter half of the 20th century in our denomination. And the icing on the cake, for me, was that early in my ordained service, I was elected Moderator of the Presbytery of West Virginia.
All unheard of in any earlier era.
The Canon of Scripture was closed in the 4th century. But the traditions and practices of the Church have changed due to culture and necessity. The Church is a dynamic living organism. It has grown and gained prominence. It has failed and suffered losses in adherents and reputation. While the Church has sometimes failed to act, it has typically rushed to the side of the suffering, even at the peril of losing its own life.
The result is we have a more global orientation. Our children are in school with children of other faiths, cultures, and languages. We find meaning and value in meeting our neighbors of other faiths and even with those who claim to have no faith. Learning what is important to our neighbors and friends is important to us. Often we discover that we share common understandings of the Holy One who created the world and every man, woman, girl and boy who lives upon it. Our common understandings and our shared challenges, even our common tragedies, increase our capacity for compassion, lead us to better trust one another, and to work toward those things we all hold dear, like peace and freedom.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes these words about the church, the body of Christ:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit…If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
One of the great realities of the New Testament church was that it was diverse, Sometimes diversity led to conflicts, as was true in Corinth. But Paul viewed diversity as a tremendous gift. To Paul, the church was stronger when the God-given gifts are shared to build up the church and strengthen its ministry.
In our Book of Order we read, “Christ calls the church into being, giving it all that is necessary…Christ alone rules, calls, teaches, and uses the church as he wills. Each member of the body of Christ is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Our mission in the world is the ministry of Christ. Just as Christ was called to bring good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives and …to let the oppressed go free, this is our call, as attested in Luke 4:8.
A motto of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is “The Church reformed, and always reforming.” We would add these words, “ According to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit. (Book of Order.)
So it is no surprise, that as opportunities, controversies, and problems occur in the life of the world, the Church and her people will engage it, struggle with it, and faithfully discern how God is leading the church to speak and act.
We have not shied away from such topics as abortion, genetic engineering, divorce, sexuality, the role of women in the church, war, ecology, economy, health care, public policy, criminal justice, and more. They are all works in progress. The more we learn, the more we understand, the better we respond and adapt. I am confident that issues we’ve never dreamed of will emerge in the future to command the faith and practice of those who follow us.
And confident of all these things, I offer these words attributed to Paul:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.
May it be so for all of us.
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
For all that God can do within us,
for all that God can do without us.
Thanks be to God!
For all in whom Christ lived before us,
for all in whom Christ lives beside us.
Thanks be to God!
For all the Spirit wants to bring us,
for where the Spirit wants to send us.
Thanks be to God!
The blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be with you today and always. Amen.
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main St. Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 Worship for October 18, 2020 Children’s Sabbath (A program of the Children’s Defense Fund)
Call to Worship
Gather our hearts, O God, knitting us together across differences and division to live with your compassion.
Gather our minds, O God, from distraction and distance to focus on you and your children.
Gather our wills, O God, to be strong and courageous in pursuit of your justice.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, make us one in heart, mind, and will, that we may worship you in unity today.
Hymn Child of Blessing, Child of Promise Ronald S. Cole-Turner
Child of blessing, child of promise,
baptized with the Spirit’s sign.
With this water God has sealed you
unto love and grace divine.
Child of love, our love’s expression,
love’s creation, love indeed!
Fresh from God, refresh our spirits,
into joy and laughter lead.
Child of joy, our dearest treasure,
God’s you are, from God you came.
Back to God we humbly give you;
live as one who bears Christ’s name.
Child of God, your loving Parent,
learn to know whose child you are.
Grow to laugh and sing and worship,
trust and love God more than all.
Prayer of Confession
God of infinite possibility, we confess that too often we are stuck in “what is” rather than working toward “what could be.” We become overwhelmed by pain, need, problems, and the pandemic.
Forgive us, O God, for living too little in the large expanse of your love. Fill us with your courage and compassion, vision and determination, to embody your love, seek your will, and strive for your justice that will enable all children to thrive in lives of joy and blessing.
Forgive those things we have done that we should not have done, and for neglecting those things we should have done, to the glory of your name.
Take, O take me as I am.
Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart and live in me. Repeat.
Assurance of Pardon
“Behold, I make all things new.” Friends, anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone and a new life has begun. Know you are forgiven and be at peace.
Old Testament Reading Isaiah 65: 17-25
Gospel Reading Luke 8:4-8, 11-15
The Morning Message
This morning I want to speak especially to our church’s children and young people.
You may have heard me tell about this experience before. I like to share it because it was very important.
There was a day in my childhood that shaped my life and my faith in Jesus.
I have lived a lot of years…64 of them. And for all of those years, I have known Jesus loves me.
Many years ago, when I was about four or five, I was in Sunday School. My classmates and I were sitting in a circle of small wooden chairs around our teacher. The room was bright and airy. I can still see white curtains gently moving with the breeze blowing through the open window. I can still smell the fresh summer air.
The teacher announced we were going to play a game. She would say, “There’s someone here that Jesus loves, and that person…” and then she would give some clue to identify one of our classmates. When we guessed correctly, she would say, “Yes! Jesus loves Thomas or Tara” or another child.
We enjoyed that game a lot. When the teacher said, “There’s someone here that Jesus loves and she is wearing new black shoes…” we all looked at our feet. I looked at my feet. I was wearing new black shoes! Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me! What a thrill!
And from that day to this one, I’ve always known that Jesus knows me by name and he loves me.
In the Old Testament lesson today, we learned about people who had a very hard life. They had to move from place to place. Sometimes they were hungry and tired and worried. Some were sick. There was no work to do so there was no way to earn money to buy things they needed. It was a sad and scary time.
God sent a man called Isaiah to be with them, to share their life, and to give them God’s message: “Don’t be afraid. I have called you by name, you belong to me.”
Even in the scariest times, God promised to be with them.
Isaiah taught them that God was creating something new. A world where there was no fear or sadness or hunger. And God asked them, “Do you see it?”
The people had to use their imaginations, but, yes, they could see that God was creating something new, that there would one day be an end to their suffering.
We have been going through a hard time, haven’t we? For many months, we’ve been paying close attention to our health because of a disease called Covid 19, or Coronavirus. It can make people very sick.
Our lives have changed a lot lately. What are some ways things have changed?
We wear masks out in public. We wash our hands a lot. We use hand sanitizer when we can’t wash up at a sink. We don’t go to big events. The parks and playgrounds have been closed. Some of our favorite places may have closed. Some of us haven’t seen our family members or friends for a long time. Some of us are going to school. Some of us aren’t. Some of our parents are at home with us. Some aren’t. Some have help with their schoolwork. Some don’t.
These are big changes and they may make us uncomfortable or sad or even angry. And that’s normal. That’s the way the people in our Bible story felt.
The message Isaiah had for them is the same one he would give us: Do not be afraid. God loves us. God knows our names. We belong to God. And God will help us.can you see how God is helping? Maybe God is doing something new. Can we see it? Can we imagine a day when we don’t have to wear masks all the time? Can we imagine a day when we aren’t worried about getting the Coronavirus? Can we imagine a time when all children have a home to live in and parents to love them? Can we imagine a day when all God’s children will get along?
That day is coming when God will declare, “See, I make all things new.”
I can almost see it. Can you?
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
O God, who makes things new, we turn our hearts to you on this Children’s Sabbath. We pray for the Church, that we may become a true reflection of your welcome for people of all ages and circumstances. Embolden us to bear witness to you where justice is denied, especially to vulnerable children. Teach us to be the embodiment of your love, especially for the most marginalized of your beloved children.
Source of compassion, we pray for the world, in which disease knows no boundary and suffering is a shared language. We ask that love will unite us in action that recognizes our common humanity. Help us to understand that what we want for our children is what every loving parent wants: good health, education, friendships, adequate food and shelter, love.
Source of hope, we pray for our nation, wounded by disease and death, division and distrust, sorrow and loss. Replace our fears with your peace and help us to trust in the promise of your realm, so that we may imagine a fulfilling future for all people.
We lift up our concerns for all those whose lives have been disrupted by storms, fires, floods, famine, violence, oppression, neglect, and abuse. Lord God, our Rock and our Redeemer, we pray that you will supply every need, especially for those in the fellowship of this congregation, Receive the praises of your grateful people and make our lives a living prayer, praying as Jesus taught us, saying,
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.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Work is scheduled to begin this week on the heating and air conditioning project. We look forward to returning to the building for worship and other activities when the work is completed.
Early voting begins October 21 and runs through October 31 at the Cabell County Courthouse and Milton City Hall.
Looking ahead: While Covid safety guidelines indicate large gatherings are not yet advisable, the Barboursville area ministers recognize the importance of the annual Community Thanksgiving Service. A virtual service is being planned for this year so that we might reaffirm our unity of faith and purpose. Details to follow.
Your tithes and gifts are always appreciated. For those interested in contributing to community service efforts during the holiday season, information will be provided as soon as plans are finalized.
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main Street Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 October 11, 2020
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship
Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good;
For the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
or declare all God’s praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
Affirmation of Faith A Declaration of Faith, PCUSA, 1985
We are certain that Jesus lives.
He lives as God with us,
touching all of human life with the presence of God.
He lives as one of us with God.
Because he shares our humanity,
He has bound us to himself in love.
We declare that Jesus is Lord.
We have an advocate in
the innermost life of God.
His resurrection is a decisive victory
over the powers that deform and destroy human life.
His lordship is hidden.
The world appears to be
dominated by people and systems that do not acknowledge his rule.
But his Lordship is real.
It demands our loyalty and sets us free from all the lesser lords who threaten us.
We maintain that ultimate sovereignty
now belongs to Jesus Christ.
In every sphere of life,
Jesus is Lord.
He has been from the beginning.
He will be Lord at the end.
Even now he is Lord.
Prayer of Confession
Lord, you see how stubborn we are, how quickly we turn from you toward idols of our own making. We forget your providential care, the countless ways you provide, your gracious response to our cries for help.
We give attention to our own needs and sometimes neglect the needs of others.
We cannot justify our behavior, we can only confess it, repent, and ask again for your mercy. Forgive us, Lord, that we may bear faithful witness, in word and deed, to your love and grace.
Assurance of Pardon
God pours out mercy and grace. God never gives up on us, but frees us to live lives worthy of our calling.
Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. Know you are forgiven and be at peace.
Old Testament Reading Isaiah 25:1-9
New Testament Lesson Philippians 4:1-9
The Morning Message
Of all the skills needed to be effective in ministry there is one that does not come easily or naturally to me. A pastor should be a “non-anxious presence.” We can certainly understand why this is important: church folks and even entire congregations can be consumed by anxiety. For good reason. Our lives have been altered in so many ways during this pandemic. But they have been altered before and the world has continued to turn. Still, we worry.
A sign that I am getting bogged down with worry is when I find myself standing in front of my closet looking at tops, pants, dresses- all organized by color-and not being able to pull together an outfit for the day. I can’t decide what to wear. It’s absurd, but, it’s the warning sign that I can’t hold any more thoughts, feelings, or concerns in my head.
A fellow pastor says it was during one of those times of extreme worry, he took his family on a hike. He described it as a brisk, early spring morning, the scent of sweet blooms in the air. Beautiful. Perfect. This was during a time that he was convinced he had a terrible disease lurking in his body and the thought was paralyzing for him and exasperating for his wife and family.
As they climbed the trail, he had a “eureka” moment and he blurted out to his wife, “You know, right now, at this very moment, I feel as though I am healthy. I do not think I am dying of anything. I feel certain of it!”
His wife didn’t think he could see, but he did see her roll her eyes, as I am also inclined to do. Then she said that was exactly what she had been telling him for weeks, and since it was settled, could they just enjoy the day?
Believe it or not, that was a novel thought- Having enough room in his head to enjoy the moment he was in.
Later his wife sent him an NPR story that explored how going out into nature was good for our mental health. The story described something the Japanese call “sinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing.”
The theory goes that when we are obsessing about something, and take to our familiar spaces- a room or an office, the closeness of the physical space traps our thoughts and keeps them with us, and we dwell on them. However, going outside-to the mountains or the beach or even our yards, allows our thoughts to escape into that atmosphere like billowing smoke from a fire.
Sounds good, but, will this really work? Well, it’s helpful, but good intentions and wide-open spaces are not the cure-all for pervasive anxiety. Sometimes, it requires professional help and we should be aware of that.
Scripture can help. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Do not worry about anything, rejoice in the Lord always.” We may hear it as “Let go and let God.”
Easier said than done. These words are little comfort to those who are burdened with a truck-load of cares.
Someone I love is struggling with the responsibilities of working full-time and providing support for her young child as he takes his first grade year in front of a laptop screen at home. Throw in home maintenance and dog care, all while a single parent, it’s pretty hard to rejoice in the Lord.
And, she’s not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, anxiety affects 40 million adults a year. And that was before Covid 19.
My friend, the hiker, says, this Philippians passage spoke to him differently in this particular moment. Especially verse 8:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
Think about this: Paul wrote these words while in prison-a closed space where he could ruminate for long days about his fate. But, as dreadful as it might be, Paul saw himself as a prisoner for Christ, a high calling, writing to the members of a persecuted church, re-directing their thoughts.
What did Paul know about psychology? We don’t know, but we do know that he was on the right track when he encouraged those early Christians to train their minds on the things that give life meaning and purpose.
Thoughts have power. Sometimes when I am about to step up to the pulpit, I feel my pulse race and it’s hard to catch my breath. It’s an awesome thing to proclaim God’s Word to people, even people I know like family. I’ve been doing this a long time now, about thirty years. I still get stage fright.
So, I do a breathing exercise my doctor taught me: take a deep breath, hold it for ten seconds, exhale for ten seconds. I do this three times and I can feel much more at ease. My pulse slows down. I can breathe. My friend, Susan, practices centering prayer. Other friends practice meditation or yoga to reduce their anxiety and raise their awareness and appreciation for life.
If you are not inclined to try any of those practices, then, take a walk. Read the newspaper outside. Drive to work or to Grandma’s by a different route. You will notice something new. This creates new pathways in our brains. These things can help train our minds so that we are less likely to fall into the trap of paralyzing thought. We can relate to others better. We can be more fully alive.
Irenaeus was a theologian of the fourth century. His words hold wisdom for today:
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
A friend of mine was undergoing treatment for cancer. She was young, with a young family to raise. She had a lot to live for. Even on the hard days, she had a lot to live for. I visited her one day and she took me around her house. She would pull out a drawer and there would be a slip of paper with these words of Paul. She had these verses, like little treasures, all over her house. She had a potentially deadly disease, and it took a lot of strength to cope with it and follow all the medical protocols. There was a lot of yuckiness. So, she was training her mind to think about joy, delight, beauty, and grace, because those things are life-giving, not life-taking.
I offer these thoughts to you in hopes that, in this time of great upheaval, that your senses will perk up, that you may notice what is admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
So that you may be a reflection of God’s glory…you…fully alive.
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
May the God of endurance and encouragement, grant you to live in such harmony with one another that with one voice we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church 955 Main Street Barboursville, West Virginia 25504 October 4, 2020 World Communion Sunday
Good Saturday evening.
Tomorrow is an important day for Christians near and far. It is World Communion Sunday, a day in which we gather around the Lords Table, receive his love and grace, and to pray for peace.
We will not have in-person worship tomorrow, but you are invited to join four of our sister churches in charleston for a shared service.
Those who want to participate in Communion at home should be ready with bread and juice.
Please use the link above to access a joint service on VCPC on Facebook. It will premiere at 11am on Sunday, October 4th. The service will also be available to view after using the same link at any time afterward.