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Parting Thoughts

Trinity Sunday: Theme

We are sent out in all humility to change the world!

PRELUDE – Bryan O’Lone

WELCOME –

OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH AND SERVICE

LECTOR – Darlene Solomon

Darlene Solomon --- CALL TO WORSHIP

You commanded us to gather in your name,

And here we are.

You promised us the Spirit would be present and guide us into all truth,

And here we are.

You named us your body, your hands and feet, heart and voice,

And here we are.

You tell us to learn more of your teaching, to obey and to live your life,

And here we go.

OPENING HYMN “For the Beauty of the Earth” UMH #92 TWO STANZAS

*PRAYER OF CONFESSION, ASSURANCE AND PARDON

Minister: Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and who seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.

CONFESSION AND PARDON

PEOPLE: MERCIFUL GOD, WE CONFESS THAT WE HAVE NOT LOVED YOU WITH OUR WHOLE HEART. WE HAVE FAILED TO BE AN OBEDIENT CHURCH. WE HAVE NOT DONE YOUR WILL, WE HAVE BROKEN YOUR LAW, WE HAVE REBELLED AGAINST YOUR LOVE, WE HAVE NOT LOVED OUR NEIGHBORS, AND WE HAVE NOT HEARD THE CRY OF THE NEEDY. FORGIVE US, WE PRAY. FREE US FOR JOYFUL OBEDIENCE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN. (Silent Prayer)

Minister: Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven!

PEOPLE: IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST YOU ARE FORGIVEN!

ALL: GLORY TO GOD. AMEN.

ALL --- THE APOSTLE’S CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at 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 Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Darlene Solomon --- The Old Testament Reading - Introduction to the Reading.

Genesis 1:--2:4a (NIV) The beginning of every biblical story resonates with the words "in the beginning.

Hear now the lesson:

Genesis 1:1-31 (NIV2011) 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Genesis 2:1-4a (NIV2011) 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. 4a This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.

People: THANKS BE TO GOD.

Darlene Solomon --- The Gospel Reading – Introduction to the Reading.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) The end of Matthew's Gospel is the beginning of another story, in which we find and take our places.

Hear now the lesson:

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV2011) 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.

People: THANKS BE TO GOD.

Pastor John Mitchell ---The Epistle Reading. Introduction to the Reading.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NIV)

The closing words of Paul's letters deserve close attention. Hear this exhortation and benediction.

Hear now the lesson:

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (NIV2011) 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings. 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.

People: THANKS BE TO GOD.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Trinity Sunday

Parting Thoughts

Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Summary

In this passage Paul encourages the Corinthian church members, who at times have been quite contentious, to rejoice and to live and work together. He concludes the letter with a benediction reminding the church that God surrounds them with the grace of Christ, the love of the Father and the community of the Holy Spirit. Our world today needs these same reminders.

Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. AMEN!

“Parting Thoughts”

“The Postal Service adds 4,071 addresses to our delivery network every day,” says the U.S. Postal Service. “Each day the Postal Service processes and delivers 187.8 million pieces of First-class mail.”1

Those are incredible numbers, especially when you think about the huge number of emails (and the even greater number of unwanted spam emails) that are sent every day. One source says there are 293.6 billion emails sent every day in 2019.2 Does anyone think they need to receive more email messages?

People have been sending letters for centuries. Twenty-one of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were originally letters. Of those twenty-one, some thirteen are credited to Paul. Two of those were sent to the church at Corinth (and possibly two additional that are referenced in those letters, but which have not survived). In the two Corinthians letters we have, Paul deals with a wide range of issues such as the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, generous giving, disagreements, false apostles and factions within the church. Among those factions were sub-units divided by social class, intellectual class and economic class. Add to that the arguments over whose spiritual gifts were more important, whose teachings about the resurrection were most correct and who were generally most Christ-like.

Paul brings all of this to a close in this final chapter of Second Corinthians, where he gives his parting thoughts to a church he loved deeply.

Paul’s parting thoughts

“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell.” The New Revised Standard Version translates this word “farewell,” but it is the same word used in First Thessalonians 5:16 (“Rejoice always”) and in Philippians 4:4 (“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”). So, this verse can also be translated (as in the English Standard Version and the New American Bible, Revised Edition), “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice.” Rejoice in what? Rejoice in the Lord. Paul started this last chapter of Second Corinthians? with further warning to those who “sinned previously and all the others” that “if I come again, I will not be lenient.”3 But even with that warning, Paul wants the Corinthian church to know that, when all is said and done, he is writing to brothers and sisters, and they all have reason to rejoice.

Paul’s next words, “Put things in order,” are related linguistically to, “Be perfected.” That and the next several statements are equally ambiguous. “Put things in order” can also mean “be restored to order.” “Listen to my appeal” can also mean “encourage one another.” He continues with “agree with one another, live in peace ....”

Whether Paul meant to allow for multiple meanings or not, it’s clear he is pointing to the possibility of reconciliation between himself and his readers, and the possibility of reconciliation between the Corinthians themselves.

Why does he acknowledge and allow for this restoration? The final phrase in verse 11 is the key: “And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

The restoration continues. “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.” Clearly, Paul’s pastoral heart is still at work. The Corinthian church gave him one headache after another, but he loved them still. It is almost an echo of the sentiment in Hosea when God says, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?”4 Paul was certainly not ready to give up on the Corinthian church.

A blessing of the triune God

To put an exclamation point to his final greetings, Paul adds this unique blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Have you ever wondered what Paul thought about when he mentioned grace? Surely, the word reminded him of how much his life had changed because of Jesus’ grace. In Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “Last of all, ... [Christ] appeared ... to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace ... has not been in vain ....”5 Every day, Paul was grateful for the full measure of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

The second part of this blessing speaks of the “love of God.” While it does not say “God, the Father,” it is not a stretch at all to believe that this was Paul’s intent. Jesus said at the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples ... baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ....”6 The Trinitarian formula (or variations of it) is also mentioned by Paul in Ephesians, by Peter in First Peter and by John in Revelation.7

We need the Father! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son ....”8 To put it another way: While we were yet sinners, God loved us and sent the Son to live and die for the wretched lot of folks we tend to be. That is the love of God Paul knew and spoke about in his blessing for the Corinthian church.

The third part of this blessing speaks of “the communion of the Holy Spirit.” From the day of Pentecost onward, the Holy Spirit has been shaking things up. The Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. Holy Spirit promptings have given people the ability and the courage to attempt great things for God, things far beyond what they thought they could do. The Holy Spirit is part of the reason people from all over the world, with widely different backgrounds and widely different circumstances and resources, can remain connected with little in common besides their faith.

So Paul, this great man of faith — this man who was responsible for so many of the early churches coming into existence, and who had been tested beyond what he thought he could endure — spoke a blessing over this troublesome and beloved church. Why? Because he knew firsthand the grace of Jesus Christ; he knew firsthand the love of God, and he knew firsthand the power of the Holy Spirit. He knew that God, in all ways and in all Persons of the Godhead, was for the church.

A blessing for the church today

In the last two thousand years, the church has grown in numbers and spread all over the world. Great things have been done through the church in the name of God. The Gospel has been preached and millions of people have come to know Jesus as their Savior. Churches have been established. Missions have reached the far corners of the world. Schools and hospitals have been opened. There is hope.

Sadly, awful things have also been done through the church in the name of God. The Crusades and the Inquisition were responsible for terrible atrocities. At other times, the church has supported slavery and economic systems that oppressed some people. Even today, we continue to hear of people being cast out of their families or churches because their faith and practice does not meet someone else’s ideas. Some would question whether the church has grown up at all.

That last bit sounds kind of like the church at Corinth, doesn’t it?

One thing that has not changed at all is God’s love for the church. The world, the church and all people still stand in need of God in all three persons of the Godhead. Paul’s blessing for the church at Corinth needs to be spoken over the world and over the church today.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

There is a small church in northern Ohio that sometimes looks and sounds like Corinth. Sometimes people squabble about one thing or another. Sometimes feelings get hurt and people get all bent out of shape. But this is a church where God is at work. This congregation of about 120 regular attenders manages to have nine very active small groups with more people collectively in the groups than in attendance on Sunday morning. This congregation has the largest weekly food distribution in the county and, with some help from a large city’s foodbank, ministers to between 150 and 200 people with groceries and fresh foods each week.

This congregation weekly sponsors two AA groups and one recovery group for abuse victims. This congregation prepares throughout the year for a Christmas toy distribution for over 500 kids. This congregation has trouble paying all its bills and sometimes paychecks for the staff are a bit late. This congregation worships well and sometimes quite loudly. This congregation looks like the community — racially mixed, a wide range of economic health in the families and many single-parent families with a wide range of education. This congregation has sent people on work mission trips to Brazil and India.

Several things are certainly true about this congregation. The grace of the Lord Jesus is at work in the congregation. Grace covers a lot of mistakes and less-than-perfect efforts. The love of God is at work in powerful ways, bringing about reconciliation and harmony where neither was thought possible. The communion of the Holy Spirit is a reality.

This congregation is not unique. Its story is repeated with slight variations in congregations around the country and around the world. The fact is that God is at work today and God will be at work tomorrow. And that gives us all hope.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

1 “One Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service,” Postal Facts, https://facts.usps.com/one-day.

2 Darina Lynkova, “The Surprising Reality of How Many Emails Are Sent Per Day,” TechJury, April 22, 2019, https://techjury.net/stats-about/how-many-emails-are-sent-per-day/#gref.

3 2 Corinthians 13:2-3.

4 Hosea 11:8.

5 1 Corinthians 15:8-10.

6 Matthew 28:18-19.

7 Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Revelation 1:4-5.

8 John 3:16.

HYMN “We Shall Overcome” UMH #533 TWO STANZAS

INVITATION TO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

The altar is open to anyone desiring to pray or make a fresh Commitment to Christ.

THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IN THE SEASON OF PENTECOST THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

MINISTER: The Lord be with you.

PEOPLE: AND ALSO WITH YOU.

MINISTER: Lift up your hearts.

PEOPLE: WE LIFT THEM UP TO THE LORD.

MINISTER: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

PEOPLE: IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE OUR THANKS AND PRAISE.

Minister: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. You formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away, and our love failed, your love remained steadfast. Your Spirit came upon prophets and teachers, anointing them to speak your Word.

And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

ALL: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY LORD. GOD OF POWER AND MIGHT, HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF YOUR GLORY. HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST. BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST.

MINISTER: Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. At his baptism in the Jordan your Spirit descended upon him and declared him your beloved son. With you Spirit upon him he turned away the temptations of sin. Your Spirit anointed him to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people.

He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. When the Lord Jesus ascended, he promised to be with us always, baptizing us with the Holy Spirit and with fire, as on the day of Pentecost.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: “Take eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples and said: “Drink from this all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

On the day you raised him from the dead he was recognized by his disciples in the breaking of bread, and in the power of your Holy Spirit your church has continued in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

ALL: CHRIST HAS DIED; CHRIST IS RISEN; CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN.

MINISTER: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, and one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and forever.

ALL: AMEN.

THE PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

ALL: ETERNAL GOD, WE GIVE YOU THANKS FOR THIS HOLY MYSTERY IN WHICH YOU HAVE GIVEN YOURSELF FOR US. GRANT THAT WE MAY GO INTO THE WORLD IN THE STRENGTH OF YOUR SPIRIT, TO GIVE OURSELVES FOR OTHERS, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN.

JOYS AND CONCERNS

PASTORAL PRAYER/LORD’S PRAYER

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, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen!

*Closing Hymn “Morning Has Broken” UMH #145 TWO STANZAS

*BLESSING & SENDING

THE MIZPAH BENEDICTION --- ALL

May the LORD watch between me and thee when we are absent one from the other, AMEN! Gen 31:49

POSTLUDE – Bryan O’Lone

Thought for the Day

The triumph of the gospel, the good news of God, is what God does with the faithfulness of those who live in the way of God.


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