Worship at Home for January 14, 2024

Dear Friends,

Our focus this Sunday will be on Psalm 139 which reminds that God truly knows and loves us for who we are. May God’s love fill you with hope and peace.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church).

  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • The Congregational Annual Meeting will be on Sunday, January 21 after worship.
  • Games and Potluck on Sunday, January 21 after the meeting.
  • Souper Bowl Lunch Fund Raiser for Helping Hands will be on Sunday, February 11.

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20) • Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 • John 1:43-51

Sermon: Known and Loved

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me.

God has searched us and knows us. We cannot escape from God for God is always with us. God loves us even when we find it hard to love ourselves. God loves us even when we find it hard to love one another. God knows us and in that knowing loves us.

As human beings we often have parts of ourselves that we hide away from the world. Sometimes we feel that other people do not really know who we are. We may feel ashamed or unappreciated. We may feel looked down upon because of our social class or the color of our skin. Maybe we try to be perfect in the hopes that other people will admire us, if not love us. Sometimes we try to be someone or something that we are not in the hopes of fitting into a group. Sometimes we just want to hide away because we fear that we might be judged. Sometimes it is just too hard to be known for who we really are.

But God knows us and loves us for who we are and who we can become. Because God created us and knit our parts together. Because God does not make junk. Because God needs us to be who we are even with what the world might perceive as our imperfections.

And try as we might, we cannot hide from God. In our deepest sorrows, God is there. In our moments of shame, God is there. In our moments of joy, God is there. In times of fear and hate, God is there. God even calls us to follow and serve even when we do not believe in ourselves or even God.

God knew and loved Samuel. God called out to the young Samuel while he was sleeping. Samuel was confused, but Eli realized that it was God who was calling out to Samuel in the night. Eli encouraged Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Sadly, God spoke words of judgement for Eli’s family. For sadly sometimes God needs us live through the consequences of sinful behavior. But God still loves us no matter what. We need to live a life of listening to, serving and loving God as Samuel did.

We need to listen to God’s call to us. Just like Philip did when Jesus said, “Follow me.” Philip then invited his friend Nathaniel to meet Jesus. Even though Nathaniel makes a snarky comment about can anything good come out of Nazareth, Nathaniel still goes to meet Jesus. Jesus speaks words that show that he fully knows Nathaniel. Nathaniel immediately expresses his understanding that Jesus is the Son of God. In being fully known by Jesus, Nathaniel knew that God fully loved him.

God loves us, but sometimes God calls us to do and say the truth in love. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. one was on such person. Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here are some quotes from his sermons and speeches for us to meditate upon:

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Washington National Cathedral, March 31, 1968.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Strength to Love, 1963.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964.

Prayer: God, you know me and love me always. Help me to hear your voice and know that you love me and all creation. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list for a while, Mark’ s brother Billy, Delores W., Tyra, Freya, Vicki B., Barb Z., Jesse, Tammy. Jennifer, Richard, Tamara, John, Dixon’s great granddaughter, Ashlely and Cody, Garth, Linda, Tessa, Carl, Kimbra, Liz’s father, Dannie, Lathe, Marilyn, Kris, Lee Ann, Bob, Diane, Louise, Janet, Linda, Keetha, Lori’s mom Judy, Bryson, Tanner, Coleton, Carly, Mia, Brenda, David, earthquake victims in Japan, places where there is war and all who are in need about which we do not know. If you know of anyone who would like a prayer shawl, please let us know.