I know most of us won’t be going anywhere today, so take some time to meditate and worship on your own or as a family. What I’ve got here is a guide for your worship time today.
Call to Worship
Sometimes what we need most is to center ourselves, and in the process of centering we find that calm stable place that prepares us for worship, and our everyday lives.
Remember who we are as God’s people. Either aloud, or to yourself, recite the Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Now take time to pray. Remember your blessings and joys. Remember also your struggles and hurts, and the struggles and hurts of those around you. Especially, lift up the family of Emily Smith, who’s funeral we celebrated yesterday, and lift up those folks who have to get out today.
Take some time and pray on your own, then pray:
I give you thanks for the blessings you have given me in this life. Especially for my _________(put in your own blessings: kids, spouse, family, work, talents, opportunities, etc.). You have given me so much, and you have helped to make me the person I am today.
You are our great God! You made us in your image, and you have made a place for us in this world. You sent your Son because we needed an example. We struggled to know you, and you responded by sending us what we needed so that we could see you face to face. When Jesus ascended, you sent us the Holy Spirit as our constant guide and companion, so that we would never feel that lonely place.
Help me to remember your presence in my life, and the work you have done, are doing, and will do in the future. Gracious God, be with those families who have lost loved ones, and help me to be your hands and feet and provide support through these times. Keep us safe as we are here at home, and watch over those who have to get out.
Father God, we lift all of this, and all that we are, into your care. We commend all these things to you, through your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We so through the words of the prayer that he taught us:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
This is a passage from Isaiah that describes what we do, versus what we should be doing.
Today is kind of a snow covered day. We aren’t going to get around that any time soon. I would like to, but living in Missouri, you know that there are going to be times when that happens. But have you ever thought about the way snow gets used in scripture? I’ll give you a hint, Isaiah uses it in the scripture reading. It also isn’t much of a surprise to us, because we hear it a lot.
Come now, and let’s settle this, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow.
For a long time, I went along with that understanding of snow, but after a while, it starts to great on us, or at least it does me. That’s because I’ve seen a lot of snow, and its pretty for a while, but it doesn’t take long before it loses its luster. A lot of times that happens after the first shovel full from the driveway, or the first time the plow goes by and blocks my driveway that I just worked so hard to clear off.
Its pretty amazing how only a little amount of dirt can spoil an entire pile of snow. But here is the promise that is coming from Isaiah, and from the many other places in scripture where snow is used in this same way. Through God, there isn’t anything that can make us dirty, because our being clean and sparkling white comes from him, and not from anything that we can do.
But here is what we have to do in response, because its not enough that we just accept what God is doing and then treat it like something holy…and separated from the rest of our lives.
What should I think about all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I’m fed up with entirely burned offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts. I don’t want the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats.
When we accept what God is doing, and we accept being made as white as snow, then that means that we have to live up to that. We have to work towards doing what God is calling us to do. Verse 17 says:
help the oppressed;
defend the orphan;
plead for the widow.
And this isn’t justice in the sense of political action only. I think we get that idea of justice stuck in our heads, or righting some sort of legal wrong that has been committed.
Seeking justice can start out with something as simple as helping a friend or neighbor. It starts when we begin to put others before ourselves, but here’s the secret behind that. When we put others before ourselves, that also means that sometimes we’re the other that someone else is putting before themselves. All of a sudden, now we’re joined together, in service to one another. This is what God wants to see, he wants to see his creation coming together to be made complete as a whole, just as he intended.
Just as a single snowflake doesn’t have much of an impact, but 5 inches of snow can shut down a community; the same thing happens when we join together. Its not about doing all the things we think we’re supposed to do, but about seeking justice, reaching out to others, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ (not because everyone should read the Bible, but because what Jesus teaches us makes us stronger), and coming together to fulfill what God is calling us to.
Then we show true acceptance of what Christ is giving us, and then we can see just how white the snow really is. Go out this week to seek justice, and see how others are seeking to do the same thing.
While we can’t take up an offering online (yet), you can hold on to them for next week, but more importantly, you can make a different kind of offering this morning. Make an offering of yourself, to seek justice, and reach out to others.
Accept our offerings
Help us to seek justice
And then see that we have been made
white as snow.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Have a great day, and enjoy your time at home. Now read aloud these words from Jude 1
To the one who is able to protect you from falling,
and to present you blameless and rejoicing before his glorious presence,
To the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
belong glory, majesty, power, and authority,
before all time, now and forever. Amen.