Worship at Home for Sunday, September 6, 2020

Video Opening

“I Will Sing of Your Love, Love, Love” by Christopher Grundy.

© 2018 Christopher Grundy, all publishing rights reserved. Permission given congregations to play recording during worship or education programs, and to stream online.

 

Moment of Silence

 

Opening Prayer

God of love and justice, we seek to follow your commandments but often fall short. Forgive us our failings. It is through your grace and love that we are made truly whole. Help us to love our neighbor in our thoughts and actions. May we love you with our whole heart. Amen.

 

Passing of the Peace (Smile and wave to those around you.)

 

Children’s Message            Passover          Exodus 12:1-14

Scripture Readings                                                  Romans 13:8-14

                                                                                  Matthew 18:15-20

 

Sermon                            Love of Neighbor

Our Stewardship Campaign for St. Peter’s UCC begins this week. The theme this year’s is Three Great Loves: Love of Neighbor, Love of Creation, Love of Children. This Sunday we are focusing on the Love of Neighbor. How do we as a church family show our love of neighbor?

Paul’s letter to the Roman talks about this in the Chapter 13. These verses are Paul helping the early church to live lives of faith in Jesus Christ. Just how do we do this? In the past the Jewish people followed a code of laws.  Laws are helpful in that they give us a guide to use when making decisions about how to live our lives. But laws are not the whole story, love is.

Back in 2006 there was a silly sort of reality TV show called “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” The show was created by Stan Lee and Nash Entertainment and aired on the Sci Fi Channel beginning in July of 2006. Missed the show? Let me give you quick run down of the premise.

Stan Lee is the co-creator of many of the Marvel Comic book superheroes such as the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Black Widow and Black Panther. If you have ever seen a Marvel Movie such as the Avengers, Stan Lee made a cameo appearance in the movie.

Stan Lee asks people who dreamed of being a superhero to audition to become his next superhero character. The contestants created their own superhero personas and costumes.  The contestants participated in a series of competitions to determine who would be Stan Lee’s next superhero.

In the first competition, the characters were given a challenge with two parts. The first was to explain to Stan Lee why they belonged in the competition. The second was to discreetly change into their costume and race to the finish line. The contestants took this race very seriously.

Unknown to the contestants there was another secret challenge built into the day’s challenge. Who would stop to save a lost girl? Out of the 11 contestants, only four stopped to help the girl. One of them was Fat Momma who joined the contest to inspire her children. Her superhero persona was powered by donuts and could grow 12 times her natural size. Fat Momma was declared the winner of the first challenge for behaving like a true superhero by showing love and care to someone who needed it. Those who did not stop were corrected by Stan Lee who explained that a true Superhero does not focus on winning the race but caring for those in need.

I guess that is the problem with laws. We can become so focused on winning the who is the best at following the law competition that we forget that the true purpose of the law is to help us live in harmony with one another and to love God. Like the Superhero contestants who ran past the lost child, people who focus only on following the letter of the law can run past those who need a bit of love and understanding. We can think that we are winning the race, but we are missing the point.

The point is to love our neighbor and to love God. There is no such thing as a Super Christian. Being a person of faith is not a contest. Being a person of faith means being willing to lose a competition because there is a child who needs our help. In a culture that values success this is a difficult concept to grasp.

Jesus emphasizes love of neighbor in his ministry, but often the disciples have a hard time understanding that Jesus love will mean sacrificing himself. Jesus let God’s will be done and showed great love to all the world by death on the cross. By human standards death on the cross is not a success. However, it is the greatest accomplishment of love, because Jesus’ loving sacrifice saves the world!

We are called to share the love of God with our neighbors. Sharing God’s love does not make us successful, but it does make us faithful. When we take time to listen to a friend or a stranger share their story, we are showing love. When take time to volunteer in our community, we are showing love. When we give a gift of money to the church or a faith-based organization, we are showing love.  When we take time to crochet a prayer shawl to share through the church, we are showing love of our neighbor. When we leave what we are doing to answer an emergency call, we are showing love. Love is better than success anytime. We can all become superheroes who show love of neighbor.

Prayer:
God who loves us and calls us to love our neighbor. We give thanks that you love us so much that you gave us your son, our savior Jesus. May the holy spirit empower us to share your love with the world.

We confess that we do not always share your love. Being successful may seem more important than caring. Being right may feel more important than being kind. Forgive us when we choose to win a race rather than stopping to help someone who is lost. May the loving grace empower us to be signs of your love in this world.

God, there are places of pain and sorrow around us. Hurricanes, fires and more can leave people vulnerable and afraid. Illness, loneliness and fear surround some of us like a trap. May the light of your love shine for them in this world.

Let us take a moment to lift ourselves and others in prayer. We pray for those on our prayer list. Let us read through the names on our prayer list and imagine that God is surrounding them and us with healing love and strength.

Silent Prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer

Prayer list:

Simon, Howard, Julia, Ahna, Mike, Josh, Priscilla, Duane, Janet, Grandpa David, Dorothy, Jacob, Jenny, Ann, Dale, Gayle, Don, Cheryl, Dustin, Pat, Student with eating disorder, Tate, Patricia, Roland, Aryanna, Amanda, Virginia, Matthew, Tom, Naomi, Vic, Jennelle, Charlie, James, Rick, Christy, Reagan, Kim, Lee, Kevin, Gaylynn, Liz’s sister in law, Naomi, Nathan, Jason, Cheryl, Daniel, Betty, Dax, Carter, Laurie’s mom, Jock, Nancy, Pat, Malachi and Karen, Carolyn, Ellen, Shirley, Mary, Karen, Paul, Hal, Richard, Crystal, Edie, Paula, Jim, Truett, Brett and Danielle, Judy, Laura F, Shirley, Butch, Joyce., Macie, Michel, Dorothy L, family of child who donated a heart to Truett, Corey, Lauren, Anonymous Cancer Patient, Bernice, Mike, Gary S., Linda, Pat, Gary, Dave, Laurie Lee, Gail, Brenda, Breana, Dean, Corey, Jeff, Nancy, Terry, Bev, Edgar, Angie, Mark, Mystick who has been missing as requested by Aunt Laura

Special prayers:

  • Gasconade R-2 Students, Teachers and Staff
  • Those affected by Covid-19.
  • Those affected by Hurricane Laura and the wildfires out west.
  • First responders in our community.

 

Goodwill/Offering

During this month of our Three Great Loves stewardship campaign, please take time to consider how you through St. Peter’s UCC can share God’s Love to our neighbors

  • Give thanks for all God’s blessings during foundational times in our lives.
  • Share what you have whatever it is, it is enough.
  • Donate via PayPal on our website or write a check.

Prayer of Dedication for Love of Neighbor

By the Rev. Susan A. Blain

Minister for Worship and Gospel Arts, JLCM

O Holy One who dwells in our midst

You abide in each heart

and root yourself in our communities.

Yet always you push us out of our comfortable places,

calling us into the ever-wider world of human diversity.

You challenge us to recognize in others your beloved face.

We offer these gifts to you for Love of Neighbor.

Take and multiply them,

Show us how to create a world where the stranger is welcomed,

Greeted as Cherished-of-God,

Honored with justice,

Engaged in peace.

All this we ask in the name of the One who calls us “Friend”,

And invites us to ponder ever more deeply

“Who is my neighbor?” Amen.

 

Communion

If you cannot join us via Facebook Live, I invite you to take time to break bread with God. Use the bits of the Communion Prayer found in the bulletin to guide your prayer as you eat bread and drink juice with Jesus. Imagine the people that you love are with you at the table and give thanks.

 

Benediction

Go and share these Three Great Loves:

Love of Neighbor

Love of Children

Love of Creation and

May the love of God surround you today and every day. Amen.

 

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