Worship at Home for Sunday, January 23, 2022

Dear Friends,

I pray that you are doing well this week. I am sorry that we have had to move to online worship only due to COVID. The number of people getting the virus has increased. I tested positive last week. Diane also tested positive for Covid, so the office has been closed this week and the weekly mailing was unable to go out. I plan to be back in the office on Tuesday, January 25. I appreciate all the well wishes that I have received from many of you.

This Sunday we will worship again via Facebook Live at 9am. I invite you to create a scroll like Jesus might have read from in the synagogue in Luke 4:14-21. In the scroll write a favorite verse or prayer. You may wish to color your scroll. To learn more about this you can check out Prayer in Color at https://prayingincolor.com.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Annual Congregational meeting on online, and Annual Reports are available online.
  • Handbell Choir and Chancel Choir will resume practice on February 2.
  • Helping Hands Annual Meeting on Monday, January 24 at 6pm
  • Grief Group to begin on Tuesday, January 25 at 7pm
  • Benefit to Support Mindy Mayberry Bradford will be held at the White Mule on Saturday, January 22 from Noon to 3pm. Mindy is a church member who broke her leg in a bad fall and could use our support.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21

Sermon: Holy Word

This Sunday, I invite you to draw and doodle during worship. Get a piece of paper and create a scroll. Grab a pen or pencil or colored pencils if you have some and start doodling away. Yes, I mean it! While you are doodling think of these questions that today’s Gospel question calls to mind

Where in the world do I see good news for the poor?

people being able to see better than they could before?

people being “set free”?

What can I do to help those who are suffering or who need help?

What color is “good news”?

How can I bring joy to those who are sad?
From The Year of the Lord’s Favor: Service Prayers for Epiphany 3 C was written by Debbie Gline Allen Copyright 2022 Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Rev. Al Dwenger, the Senior Pastor at Immanuel UCC in Highland, Indiana were I was the Associate Pastor, would always say these words before beginning his sermons on Sunday morning. These words are from the Psalm for today and are a good way to start a sermon. They are a good way to start a day. The words which we speak, and the meditations of our hearts are important. Confession, I know that not all my words and meditations are acceptable to God. Maybe saying this prayer daily would help. Reading and hearing God’s word helps too.

In the passage from Nehemiah, we are told that Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. All the people of Jerusalem were gathered that day to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after the people had returned from exile in Babylon. The reading took from early morning to midday. The people wept when they heard the words of the law. Most people could not read the book of the law for themselves, so this may have been their only opportunity to hear it. Ezra tells them not to be grieved, but to celebrate this holy day when the walls of the city have been restored and the people have heard God’s holy word, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

The people were changed by the reading of the book of Law. Most of us can read the Bible for ourselves, but back in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah this was a privilege of the educated. I am truly grateful that God’s Holy Word is so readily available to so many.

How often do you take time to read from the Bible? My thoughts this week were drawn to another Indiana memory. This time from Berne, Indiana where I was a student minister in 1986. One afternoon I visited a sweet woman who was living at Swiss Village retirement community. She was a joyful woman who told me about her commitment to read from a chapter of the Bible every night before bed. Since she worked in the local furniture industry, she often was very tired in the evening. Still, she made sure that she kept up with this commitment no matter what. Though she did share that on especially exhausting days that she would read Psalm 117 which is both the shortest Psalm and shortest chapter in the Bible. “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” Psalm117, NRSV

Many of my childhood friends attended Hebrew School where they learned to read from the scriptures in Hebrew. The culmination of these classes would be their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs during seventh or eight grade. At their Bar/Bat Mitzvah my friends would read from the Torah (Hebrew Holy Word/Book of the Law/Old Testament). The Torah consists of large scrolls that are kept in a special place in the synagogue, brought out with ceremony, uncovered, placed on stand, unrolled to a particular place, and then read out loud in Hebrew by the one celebrating their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This is an important event in the life of the everyone gathered to witness the reading of God’s Holy Word.

Jesus was a grown man who read from the scriptures in the synagogue. In Luke 4:14-21, Jesus is given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read. Jesus unrolled the scroll and found these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61:1,2. Jesus returned the scroll to the attendant and sat down.

Luke tells us that all of the eyes of the synagogue were fixed on Jesus. Why? What were they expecting? What were they hoping for? Jesus then began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21 This is a major statement from Jesus about who he is. Luke’s Gospel goes on to explain how Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of Isaiah. Jesus does all these things that are told of in God’s Holy Word.

As Jesus’ followers, we are to embody and share this word. At the beginning of this sermon, I asked you to keep a set of questions in mind as you doodled on your homemade scrolls. Did you some up with any good thoughts? Take time this week to keep doodling your prayers. May God grant us insight in how to embody and share God’s Holy Word. Yes, even through our doodles.

Prayer: God may the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. May your word move us to tears and bring us great joy. May there be healing and hope for the world. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, tornado victims and those who are struggling financially and emotionally.
 

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