Worship at Home for Sunday, March 20, 2022

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the Third Sunday in Lent. The message from Luke is about repenting and changing our ways. I think of it as an opportunity to make our lives better by focusing more on Jesus. The prayer below is attributed to St. Patrick and is often called St. Patrick’s Breastplate. You may wish to pray it this week to aid in focusing on Jesus Christ.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

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:

  • Confirmation Parents meeting at BEM at 11am on Sunday
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Lent Prayer Worship at 6:30 on Wednesday
  • Chancel Choir practice after Lenten Worship
  • Flower orders are due by March 21
  • Baskets are in the back of the church to contribute to Ukraine Relief.
  • Brunch to raise funds for Ukraine Relief on Palm Sunday, April 10 at 10am. If you like to help, contact Betty Estes.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9

 

Sermon: Another Opportunity

Luke 13:1 has people asking Jesus about the people who were killed by Pilate. The image is brutal as the blood of the people who died ended being mixed up with the animals that were being sacrificed. The image is a cruel one. The news of war that fills our news feeds and television screens contains brutal images of bombings of hostels, schools, hospitals, and shelters in Ukraine. Especially disturbing was the bombing of a theater in Mariupol where people had taken shelter after their homes were destroyed. The word for children in Russian was even written in white on the pavement. Putin like Pilate is determined to punish those who oppose him. These scenes are heart wrenching and fill us with questions.

In Jesus’ time (and today) some people believed that those who die horrific deaths somehow deserved it. Those who died must have been sinners, should have left the city, should have sought shelter elsewhere. It is human nature to think that if we do everything right that we will be spared pain and live. Jesus refutes this concept. Bad things do happen to good people. Bombs fall on the good and the bad alike. Eventually everyone dies in this life.

Yes, bad things do happen to good people, but there is a warning. A warning that the listeners need to repent because the end may come upon anyone suddenly. Everyone needs to turn their hearts to God and live more fruitful lives. Lives that seek to heal, feed, love and share the good news of God.

Jesus then tells a story about a fig tree that has been in a vineyard for three years. The owner of the vineyard wants the tree gone because after three years it has not produced fruit. The gardener wants to give the tree another opportunity by nurturing it for another year.

Fig trees were often planted in Judean and Galilean vineyards. The fig trees helped with soil erosion and occasionally served as a trellis for the vines. (The value of a barren tree | The Christian Century) The owner of this orchard appears to be the impatient type. To him a tree that has not produced in three years is wasting soil. Fig trees often take four to five years to produce fruit. The most common reason for fig trees not producing fruit is age.

The parable of the fig tree is one of urgency. Expecting a three-year-old fig tree to produce fruit is like expecting a high school junior to have completed all his graduation requirements. In other words, we may need to be fully matured and producing fruit at the earliest possible moment. Unless someone offers to nurture us a little longer.

Jesus is offering us another opportunity to bear good fruit. Jesus offers us salvation, forgiveness, love and hope. But we need to do our part to grow in faith and produce Godly fruit. Do not wait to pray, praise and act. Make time to come to church, to study the Bible, to pray and to serve in the community. Share what you have with those in need. When we are troubled by the brutal images of war we can pray for peace and give to the churches providing relief. Let us make the most of this opportunity for Spiritual growth.

Prayer: Loving God help me to make the most of this opportunity You to me to live in your love and produce good fruit. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Marcie and Porter, the school shooting in Olathe, Kansas, the family of Thomas who passed away last week and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.

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