Message for 5/3 “God in Troubled Times”

This Sunday, Pastor Steve recorded the message! You can watch it on YouTube, or read the sermon below.

3 May 2020 Sunday Message

Title: God in Troubled Times

Call to Worship: Philippians 4:4 – 7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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.

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26 April 2020 Sunday Message “Hallmarks of a Church”

Call to Worship; Colossians 3:10-15

10 You have started living a new life. Your knowledge of how that life should have the Creator’s likeness is being made new. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew. There is no difference between those who are circumcised and those who are not. There is no rude outsider, or even a Scythian. There is no slave or free person. But Christ is everything. And he is in everything.

12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. 13 Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these good things put on love. Love holds them all together perfectly as if they were one.

15 Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful.

Tithe and Offering Prayer; Father, creator of all that exists, all that is good and wholesome. This morning Lord we pray to accept us, as we offer our very selves as living sacrifices, as we strive to be of service to you in a dark and hurting world. Teach us Father to love our neighbors, and to be a force of good as your Kingdom advances. Amen!

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:1–7

Remain Strong in the Lord

My brothers and sisters, in this way remain strong in the Lord. I love you and long for you. Dear friends, you are my joy and my crown.

Here is what I’m asking Euodia and Syntyche to do. I’m asking them to work together in the Lord. That’s because they both belong to the Lord. My true companion, here is what I ask you to do. Help these women, because they have served at my side. They have worked with me to spread the good news. So have Clement and the rest of those who have worked together with me. Their names are all written in the book of life.

Final Commands

Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

        Message: “Hallmarks of a Church”

Today we continue to look at the things that make us part of the family of God. The things that make our little congregation a viable, living church in the 21st century.

As I begin this message, I am reminded that even though it feels like we are the first ones to ever experience the things we are going through. After all, we are attempting to worship God through a pandemic that is keeping us from each other on Sunday mornings. Indeed, even though it seems like we are all alone in our trials of life, we are really carrying on in the traditions that were begun in those first century churches that were started by the Apostles, and especially, Paul.

Those first century churches were isolated from each other distance wise. They were outsiders that were considered atheist because they didn’t worship the pagan gods of the individual cities throughout the ancient Roman world. They also refused to worship Cesar. As a result, they were harassed and persecuted for their beliefs in Christ.

As the early Christians searched for greater meaning in their faithwalk, they were instructed through these challenges by Paul. These instructions became what we now understand today as the New Testament epistles or letters to the churches. (Philippians and Colossians as an example) The lessons provided and their use by the early church remain as examples for us to follow today.

Just as the first century Christian Church faced the challenges of how to live in a community together as a family in God, they also mutually supported each other spiritually and grew together in their faithwalks with the Lord, in spite of persecution and isolation. Today, our little church family along with every other congregation that is or ever has been dedicated to a closer walk in Him, must face those same challenges just as in every generation.

For me, that means not stereotyping those early Christians as ancient or archaic, somehow not sophisticated in their walk in the Lord. It is so easy sometimes to categorize people or the times into easy to find baskets or buckets of memories to store in our minds. It makes recall easier, but can be dangerous in glossing over real people and events by typecasting.

It is indeed strange how we often stereotype, characterize, and categorize people, even when we are not even trying as if we were on autopilot, or sleepwalking. There are all kinds of titles that we use for others in order to categorize people in the human computers called the mind. We call people elite, country or urban, blue coller, whitecoller, or sophisticated, educated, and distinctive because of some observable characteristic.

When I was in high school during the 1970s in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, we had Jocks (kids into athletics), and freaks (kids into counter cultural activities), in either case these kids tended to not have to work for the things they desired in life. Then there were the people I was relegated to who just didn’t fit in (thankfully). We were well off enough to live in a good community, but still needed to work for the things we wanted in life, or activities after school. Things like a car, or going out with friends, or college for that matter. Instead of being known as Freaks or Jocks, we decided to call ourselves Frocks (those who didn’t care to fit with the narrow structures of high school society). It was an inside joke that worked for us. This happens throughout American society, where you label people to fit your classifications.

But how would you go about characterizing Christians? They may be liberal, conservative, rural or urban, followers, renegades, educated or uneducated, or a little of all the above. The outward marks that we often use to characterize people fail us. The real marks of a Christian depend on definite character traits.

In the beginning verses of the final chapter of Philippians, Paul gives some characteristics of Christians. Here are four general areas that I would like to look at with you as we talk about what makes us a church.

  1. Mercy and kindness (Love) (vv. 1–3).
  2. Others must see Joy as our hallmark (v. 4).
  3. People must see our Gentleness (v. 5).
  4. We must offer the Peace of the Lord (vv. 6–7).

As always, this list is only a beginning. It remains for you to build on this list, improve it as you build your beautiful lives with the Lord. But, starting with Paul’s is a great foundation to build on.

Being the Church Means Caring for Others (vv. 1–3).

Our love, must be is an inclusive love: In ancient Greece there were 4-7 basic kinds of love expressed in society. Here are a few examples:

  • Familial / Philios Love; the kind of love you have for a person you are related to or a close friend.
  • Eros; romantic love. Enough said.
  • Storge; Parental love, or the kind you are charged with, like maybe a coach or teacher.
  • Agape; The highest form of love that is spoken about in 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter of the Bible, by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40, and by our examples today from Paul in his letters to the Colossians and Philippians, or). Selfless, love that puts others before self not for selfish reasons but because it’s the right thing to do.

With Mercy and kindness, good things follow that Agape kind of love that Paul is writing about. Additionally, the love Paul expressed for his fellow Christians in Philippi included everyone. People like you and me. People like Euodias (someone who was always fighting with others) as well as the helpful friend, and true companion, Clement in verses 2-3 from our reading in Philippians today.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time we are selective in our love. We love only those people who seem lovable or who love us in return. Case in point, for many people it is easier to connect to the animals being mistreated in a Humane Society / PETA message over a child / people suffering in a UNICEF commercial. Why is that? Perhaps the puppy is more defenseless. (By the way, this was just a cheap trick to use the word puppy in this message.)

Well, God is not like that. (Thank God!) He loves us in spite of us, even when we do not deserve to be loved. (Especially me, but there’s not time to go into detail since this is a message you are reading and not a three-week revival!)

The lesson from this; If we are to love like God, we must let our love reach out to everyone, like God.

Our love for others must be a concerned type of love: Love always expresses concern for the one who is loved. From our reading, Paul called these people his “joy” and “crown.” He was concerned about them even though he was separated from them.

In spite of their isolation they fulfilled each other. Kind of like you and I right now in the middle of this contagion. Regardless of our separation, we still complete each other as a family in God. And just like Paul, we must be in the business of praying for each other. That is what concern for others is all about, praying for someone else’s best interest in God’s plan. (Not that our will be done, but God’s plan be accomplished!)

Case in point again. There is a Rabi I often listen to, and respect, and who I agree with on many things. I also disagree on many things obviously, such the Lord Jesus Christ, and intercessory prayer (praying for others). The Rabi’s name is unimportant for this discussion, but my example is essential for gleaning what is great about a relationship in Him, our Sovereign Lord.

The Rabi’s contention is that if you are praying for God to help you or someone else that you care about, you are asking God to favor you or the person you care about over other people.

This is not the case. If you are, you have lost the point of prayer and the teaching of our Lord all together. (God is not a good luck charm, and luck really should be relegated for rabbits!) In fact, when we pray for help from the Lord, or for others we are concerned for, we are led to pray for the following things:

  1. God’s will be done.
  2. That we are in harmony and in step with the Lord. (Not our selfish desires)
  3. We are now ready to pray with expectation because we are in step with the Lord.
  4.  Additionally, what seems like unanswered prayer to other, may in fact be clouded with answers from God. Sometimes, we need to slowdown, shut up, and listen to God, because prayer also means listening to your God.
  5. We trust in Him and in His plan, therefore we are not caught up doing verbal gymnastics on faith.
  6. We believe in the miracles that God affords into our lives and believing, results in seeing the good He does.
  7. We are ready to own the miracles that God is sending our way, all of the time!

       Finally, God is big enough, great enough, and majestic enough, to be involved in, care for, open to, and the provider of, your very salvation!

Others Must See Joy as Our Hallmark (v. 4).

Joy must be a hallmark of others perception of who we are as a family in God, and joy is a sure mark of any Christian who is in relationship with the Lord!

  1. It must be genuine joy that exudes from every pour of our being. You and I and all of humanity have been offered an eternity of blessedness with the Lord, and we actually know about it. Why wouldn’t we have deep joy about the future. A future that Transends all of the challenges of today.
  2. It is a conscious / continuous / incessant joy that people must see in us. Paul said that Christians are to rejoice in the Lord always, not just in good times, but also in bad. This isn’t just acting good on a Sunday, but people see you the same way on a Tuesday.
  3. It is an independent This joy is “in the Lord,” which means that it is independent of what I tell you or what others say you need to be like, it is outside of life’s circumstances or poverty or loss. When joy is “in the Lord,” it can be experienced and expressed even when there does not appear to be much reason for joy.
  4. It is a unified joy that people must see from our congregation. A family that knows how to live with the differences of each other in a healthy manner with gentleness and kindness.

People Must see real Gentleness from Us (v. 5).

Gentleness marks the person who is willing to give up something that could rightfully be considered his or hers. Such people know when to use mercy.

Just as a side comment, rightfully belonging can only be applied in a worldly sense, due to the fact that rightfully everything belongs to the one who made this stuff. Every molecule is in ownership of the creator of all, and we are permitted to borrow, lease, and use all the things entrusted in our care. Like my/God’s house, my/God’s car, and everything else. (I would have said cell phone, but I remain one of the few free people left in this church! Phone free) I need to keep this in mind when I start to go down that self-righteous path of fairness. If things were fair, I would be putting the Lord first all the time, and not carry grudges for those I think are not doing the same. Not my call.

Why? Because the Lord is at hand. Everything we Christians do, should be with the understanding that the Lord is present with them. Seeking to live out Christ’s life on this earth, we must act with gentleness toward others. And who are those others. Start with anyone you would rather not be around and then you can grow the list from there. If they are in your life, there is a reason God placed them there, and you can’t pick your neighbors.

Oh, and gentleness is not weakness, since putting others before yourself goes contrary to what the world has been trying to manipulate in you from your birth. When we put others before ourselves, we are actually reflecting the transformation that take place when we invite the Lord into our lives.

We must offer the Peace of The Lord (vv. 6–7).

The peace that we have in Jesus Christ is expressed very forcefully as in these two verses. Whatever the circumstances, we the Christian must not be crippled by anxiety, fear of the unknown, or a worry of not being accepted.

Every bad situation can be met with prayer and praise. And where prayer and praise exist, there is the promise that the peace of God can and will keep the hearts and minds of Christians in step with the Prince of Peace.

Additionally, no one need even know you are praying when you are living in a prayerful existence in the Lord. This is not walking around like a Pollyanna, or a robotauton, unhuman like. No. A real existence in the Lord, a real life in faith, reflects passion, challenge, excitement, and real joy. It’s amazing how alive you can feel when you are living for other people in a healthy way! And yes, sometime we even miss the mark. Sinning, unfortunately is a fact that we must contend with, which is why we go to church when we can, to work on our faithwalk together. To learn from each other, serve with each other, and grow in the Lord with each other. We don’t go to worship God because we are better that others, we go because we understand our deep faults of depravity.

For many of us, we are finally alive instead of self-medicating with; alcohol, food, nicotine, TV, hiking, socializing, texting, and the Gym. Being alive allows us to offer to others what God has freely given us.

There is a term used in verse 7, “guard” it’s a military term. God’s peace will stand guard over Christians. It is my hope and prayer that you feel the good effects of the Lord’s peace this very moment!

In conclusion;

What are the “Hallmarks of a Church”? How can you tell who the Christians are? Look for the marks we have discussed today. My hope would be for you to look into a mirror as you look to others as a way of gauging how you are doing in this walk of ours. Not to be discourages, but to keep on course, knowing we all need growth in the one who gives life.

I am reminded of our call to Worship for this message from Paul letter to the early Christian church of the Colossians, in a pagan time, when people who wanted to worship God were distracted by all the things life has to throw our way. Isolation, fear, other people and their different ways of living, and our owns weaknesses of day to day temptations from life. Paul teaches in chapter 3: verse 12;

12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient.

Just when you begin to despair and loose hope in this time of strangeness, I hope you remember these words of Paul. They are so important; I will repeat them for a Benediction:

12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. Amen!

PS; I will be on the church’s front side on 25th street, the “Bishop’s Porch” Sunday, 10:00am -1pm, available to take prayer concerns or to just say hello without getting too close. This way we can still see each other without endangering the community that we so love. Now may the Lord bless and keep all of you in His warm embrace. Amen again!

 

19 April 2020 Sunday Message: “Our Road Continues”

Call to Worship: Luke 24: 28-32

28 They approached the village where they were going. Jesus kept walking as if he were going farther. 29 But they tried hard to keep him from leaving. They said, “Stay with us. It is nearly evening. The day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 He joined them at the table. Then he took bread and gave thanks. He broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But then he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “He explained to us what the Scriptures meant. Weren’t we excited as he talked with us on the road?”

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Easter Message

Call to Worship; Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Tithe and Offering Prayer: Father in Heaven, today we commit to walk in the Lord as living sacrifices, as our offering to you. By giving our whole being to you and Your creation. We will offer ourselves to build others up during this pandemic, and be a force for good. Lights shining in a world groping in the dark to find you. Amen!

Message Scripture; Mark 16:1-4 “The Door is Open”

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

Message; Rock Removed, Door Open

Even though it may not feel like it in the middle of our seclusion and quarantine, you and I are witnesses to a new beginning happening now. This rebirth is a masterpiece of a moment in time, regardless of our personal worries. Easter, reflects our most sacred day of the year, and it marks a new beginning for our little congregation on the corner of 25th and Jefferson. Today we are not meeting for our traditional Sunrise service in the Park, or having our sacred service in our Sanctuary, which for us is God’s Livingroom. Indeed, this Easter marks a point of departure of our old ways of doing things, based on our traditions and habits from times past.

From Our Palm Sunday pageant parade, expressing our joy for God in greater and greater zeal, added robust with expressions of Hosannas in the Highest with each lap accomplished around inside our Sanctuary, also known as Our Familyroom. This delight changes from joy into our solemn reflections of Good Friday with the crucifixion and the Passion of our God for you and me, and then our return to jubilant recognition to God’s resurrection, and our redemption. Our joy expressed and cresting with Sunrise, and High Church Service of Easter each year.

You and I have always observed these things together as family in purpose, a household in God. Yes, Passion Week, Our Passover, is different this year! Suspended, due to pandemic concern and respect for other people. So, what is so joyful about what is happening?

As uplifting and comforting as our services have been for us in the past, their suspension for this contagion cannot separate us from God or each other. You and I have a chance move beyond the form & style issues that consumed the People of God in Jesus’ time, and the doctrine & scriptural debates that have occupied Christians for two thousand years. I’m not saying that all of that stuff is wrong, it’s just that maybe this year we have a chance to look deep inside ourselves in order to better contemplate outward. Instead of being sidetracked in our reverence and reflections by external distractions. This year you and I have chance for a renewed reality in our relations with God.

We have always had the Lord available to us in our faith and mind and soul, and Jesus (God in the flesh) tells us that God has actually lived among man physically. We are connected to Him, as we have reminded each other as a church family each Sunday, especially this Sunday.

This Easter, life has given us the opportunity to remember to carry each other spiritually, with humility, hope, faith, trust, and love deep in our hearts, in the core of our separation and isolation. Reminding us of the beautiful and important memories of times past, and committing our hopes to new experiences destined for our future. It is essential for each of us to stay spiritually connected to our Lord, and to each!

Due to the quarantine of the moment, we may very well begin to feel as lonely as an island in a sea of, hoarding of stuff, uncertainty, and fear. In our loneliness, we might begin to imagine what it must be like alone in a tomb of despair and gloom. But don’t.

This is the time for us to turn the corner of sadness and isolation by remembering what God has instructed us in scripture time and again. The Lord never closes off the doors in your life. My thought is that sometimes our direction is so flawed either individually or as a people, that the Lord provides opportunities for our reflection before He indeed opens the doors of our possibilities.

From our Message Reading in Mark 16:1-4, when Mary and others came to the Tomb expecting to see the Lord there, but the rock was rolled away. Expressing the quintessential fact that God can’t be restrained. He cannot be tied to a location (our Church building), or formed and relegated by our conceptions of who He is. For it is folly to try and impose our will on the great “I Am” of history.

Genesis 3:13-14

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the people of Israel. Suppose I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And suppose they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, I am who I am. Here is what you must say to the Israelites. Tell them, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”

In other words;

I Am who I will be

I Will be who I Am

I will be Who I will be

I Am Who I Am

I Am What I Am

No this is not a Doctor Seuss search for Ham and Eggs, but a fact in reality, and I start to feel like a child when I begin to contemplate just Who and What our Lord really is! Just as Moses and every person who has had an encounter with the Living Lord of creation, must have felt.

We lose sight of the Lord, and of our own very natures as human beings when we paint God into a corner (pandemic or not). And we do this sometimes without even knowing we are doing it, as if sleepwalking through our faithwalk. Even when we are sincere in our faith, from time to time, God provides opportunities to wake us up.

Maybe that is what is happening to us right now. Perhaps, we have been so focused in on just ourselves as a society (the me society), that maybe God is saying, there is a bigger world out there with people who need warmth, caring, sharing, and prayer from us. If so, we are not alone in making this error. God intervened in the first years of the Church when it seemed like the Disciples of Christ were content with looking inward, or didn’t know any better, or perhaps didn’t think about looking outward and sharing the Good News with the world.

From Acts 8, the early church was confined initially to the temple until events (God) scattered the early Church and forced them to hit the road beyond Jerusalem.

19 Some believers had been scattered by the suffering that unbelievers had caused them. They were scattered after Stephen was killed. Those believers traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. But they spread the word only among Jews. 20 Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch. There they began to speak to Greeks also. They told them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them. Large numbers of people believed and turned to the Lord.

His word can’t be restrained! Without even realizing, some of the early Church thought that God only wanted to have a relationship with them, the followers of Jesus. It took leaving the Temple, hitting the road, sharing the Gospel, then seeing the positive response from strangers for it to sink in. God wants a relationship with all of His creation, and much of this dark hurting world is waiting to hear the good news from Christians like them back then, and us right now.

Yes, this was the beginning of the Christian Church as we know it today, with the early believers being guided by the Good Shepherd to take His word out into the world. And they were diligent! Because of the willingness of the followers of Jesus to obey back then, Gentiles like me have been extended the invitation to join God’s family today. And each generation from that time has had a decision to make. Do we look inward into our faith community, our Church, or do we look outward? To be light in the darkness, and hope in times of fear.

Those churches, and individuals that are channel locked into looking inward, are destined to die out, on the vine. They deserve to, plain and simple. What use do they serve God, or the creation, when they only want to horde what the Lord has given to themselves. (We have seen enough of hoarding!) If the first century Christians had been hoarders of the Lord’s word, God’s family, would have either died out or occurred as a backwater cult, unrecognizable to the Disciples of Crist.

The Door has been opened both then and now, as our Church exceeds the confines of our beautiful Sanctuary, and into the community of our Soles. In spite of pandemic, and even in the confines of social distancing during this year’s observance of Easter, we will thrive.

And so, as we begin to explore how to worship isolated from each other, what should we focus on. I am led to our “Call to Worship” for this message in Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

This passage is a walk around the spiritual block. It expresses our faith, even if we are prevented from going outside right now. It says where we were as a people of God, what has happened on our account, and where the Lord is right now; from the Hand of the Majesty in Heaven, out into the world of incredible creation, into the very essence of each of our hearts.

When we walk in His footsteps, in a faithwalk in Him, we begin to understand the hope many of us have been taught from our youth.

The core of our faith, reflects time and time again “He Lives!” And we as a Family in God live on together in this spirit by; thought, love, word and deed, at this time of our Passover, this time of Easter. God bless you, and God bless the little congregation on the corner!

Benediction: Romans 15:13; And now:

13 May the God who gives hope fill you with great joy. May you have perfect peace as you trust in him. May the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.

And may you always remember beloved, you are never alone. With the rock removed the Door is open.   Amen!

Message for Good Friday

Good Friday Message 2020

You are not alone

Today is a day like no other in our experience of Christian worship. Of course, every Christian in every age has had claim to the same sentiment. I believe this is true because God has always had this incredible way of reaching and responding uniquely to our individual needs and the needs of communities at all times and ages as time unfolds itself in that pageant, we call history.

Tradition shows that I could begin this message by quoting and teaching; Isaiah 52:12 – 53 “Our Lord, the Suffering Servant”, and Psalm 22 “The agony of God’s Servant”, culminated with the victory that is proclaimed in the 23rd Psalm “The Lord is My Shephard”. Just as countless people have done before me when exploring Good Friday’s significance, and indeed you should read those passages in the time afforded you this week. They are essential for reflection and grown in Him!

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A message for 3/29 “The Road Towards Easter Continues”

This week continues the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. We’re still having Food Pantry to serve the community on Tuesday 3/31 (outside in the church parking lot, with some additional precautions). Otherwise, we’re working at “being the church” outside the building, learning to worship, serve, and fellowship in new ways. Here’s a message that Pastor Steve has prepared for us for this Sunday.

29 March 2020 Sunday Message

“The Road Towards Easter Continues”

Call to Worship

Psalm 27; Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

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A message for 3/22 “The Road to Easter”

As we worship from home on March 22, here’s a message from Pastor Steve.

22 March 2020 Sunday Sermon

Call to Worship: John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Prayer: Father in heaven, today we confess to you our sins of omission, and commission, of ingratitude, and greed. Fear has driven much of our behavior in the past, and we want to make a change. Too often we forget that every moment we live is a gift from you. With this in mind Lord today our gifts tithes and offerings, are the greatest we possess. Today, we give ourselves to you. We recommit to you and your way of life. Receive us and bless us, Father, so the message of your love may be spread to the far ends of the earth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Message Reading, John 3: 1-15: “The Road to Easter”

3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied,

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March 17, 2020 Update

We are moving forward one step at a time with our church services and ministry in this time of coronavirus.

Today on St. Patrick’s Day our food pantry was able to give food bags many people in need. But the remaining church activities for this week have been cancelled, in line with the new President’s Coronoavirus for America Guidelines: 15 Days to Slow the Spread. That means no Wednesday Bible Study, Thursday Food Pantry, Friday Game Night, Saturday Work Day, or Sunday School or Worship Service this week. Decisions about events in the coming weeks will be made later as guidance gets updated.

While we wait ‘til it’s safer to gather physically in groups for fellowship (hopefully, very soon!), let’s take every possible opportunity for worship, fellowship, and service. Sign up here if you’d like to join the church email list and stay in the loop.

Last Sunday, Pastor talked about Matthew 8, which says that Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah “He took up our infirmities, and bore our diseases.” Jesus is not only a healer, but present with us in our weakness. Our health worries can go straight to the foot of the cross, where Jesus bore all our suffering. He knows our weakness, and he is strong. Thanks be to God!

Dedication Celebration

On November 16, 2019 we dedicated new front steps for our church, together with  neighbors from the Interfaith Group and Riverdale 6th Ward who helped support the restoration.

PRESS RELEASE

Baptists, Latter-day Saints and Government Work Together
to Restore Iconic Church on 100th Anniversary
 

A Pastor’s perspective; Steve Tharp, First Baptist Church of Ogden

On July 10, 1881, Reverend Dwight Spencer, a missionary for the American Baptist Home Society, stepped into the cold waters of the Weber River baptizing the inaugural member of the newly formed First Baptist Church of Ogden. By the turn of the century, the church had outgrown their building at 24th and Grant Avenue and purchased property at 25th and Jefferson Avenue where the church stands today.

First Baptist Church has been in the Ogden community for 138 years and their tradition of serving the community continues. They established Camp UTABA, host community events and sponsor neighborhood breakfasts. This summer they started a bi-monthly “Hotdogs on the Grill” night for families in need, something they are moving indoors as temperatures drop. Pastor Steve Tharp believes that “as long as they continue to be a force of good in a hurting world, the Lord will continue to sustain their calling.”

The church is located in the Jefferson Avenue Historic District of Ogden, Utah. Like other 100-year old buildings, it needed some renovation. Tharp stated that his members quit using the front steps a year ago because they were deteriorated and dangerous. His aging congregation was unable to tackle the demolition and restoration project on their own and navigating the city permitting process was daunting. That’s when Tharp shared his concerns with a couple from the Utah Weber Communication Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together, they formulated a plan that included both churches and Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer at Ogden City.

Johnson outlined how the churches could work with the city departments and the Historic District in renovating the steps and within weeks, the work began. Johnson remarked, “it was great to see different faith traditions working together to improve such a beautiful landmark in Ogden.”

Through all of this, friendships that have been built and barriers have been broken. On November 16th, the churches are celebrating the completion of the project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, potluck lunch and tours of the historic building.

Tharp stated, “our faith teaches it’s not the stuff that you are able to acquire in this life that matters, it is the relationships that you take into eternity that really counts.”