Monday, November 16, 2020

Worship for November 15, 2020

Sermon from Worship Service, November 15, 2020

 

November 15, 2020                         Sermon                Rev. Peter Hofstra

                “For it is as if a man…” So begins our passage.  What is it?  This is the second parable in a sequence, the first being last week’s passage.  That one opens “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like this…” before going on to talk about the ten bridesmaids.  So this one too is about the Kingdom of Heaven.

            We did a whole sermon cycle about the Kingdom of Heaven.  This kingdom is the result of the Plan of God, ushered in with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It began at that moment and continues forward, ever expanding, to this day. It will be fulfilled at the End of Time, at the Final Judgment.  At the present, God continues to reveal this plan, as it progresses in the world.  Last week, Jesus made clear in his parable the distinction of those who live the faith versus those who simply pay it lip service, those who live into God’s promise of sanctification, and those who do not. 

            And this is an important distinction that must be emphasized especially here.  When we read God’s Word, we read ourselves into the text.  What do I mean?  I mean, when listening to the parable, what roles do we assign?  The man going on the journey, assigning money to his slaves to work with in his absence, can we see the Lord in this character?  The Lord gives to the slaves according to their talents.  Then he goes away on a trip.  The listeners, on the ground there in Jerusalem, may not have made a particular association with that trip, but we, in the church, certainly do.  Jesus ascended into heaven and Jesus will return again.  Such is the time that the slaves have with the gifts they have received from their Lord.  And who are we?  We are those who have received the talents from our Master.  We are living in that time right now, as the Kingdom of Heaven continues to grow upon the earth.  When the Lord returns, then is the time of reckoning for each of us who have received from Jesus.  Such is the conclusion of the story for the one with five and the one with two talents.  What their master says is what Jesus will say to us at the end.  “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”

            But what have we received and what are we supposed to be doing with it?  Our salvation was given to us at the resurrection of Christ.  We are forgiven our sins and renewed as the children of God.  That gift is there for everyone who comes to our Lord.  And while I do not particularly like the notion of being in the role of the slave, this is Jesus’ parable.  But understand, because we are in the role of those who received the talents, this is not everybody in the world.  We believe in Jesus and Jesus knows us.  Jesus is speaking to an audience of believers, who know its expectations and obligations-originally those of the Jewish faith, and now, for those raised in the Christian faith, who, now, know its expectations and obligations.

            The talents we have received, such is God’s sanctification, his expectation of holiness, laid out within us.  Here is where the word ‘talent’ can get confusing.  Jesus is referring to a monetary unit, a rather significant monetary unit.  Often, this gets confused in the English rendering with the ‘talents’ as abilities that God has given to us.  Translating from parable to real life, these talents are the opportunities we have in this life that God opens before us to express God’s love to another.  The expression of God’s love, that is as good a definition of holiness, of sanctification, as I can give to you. 

            So this parable is about what we, as believers, have been sanctified with; the opportunities we have been blessed with; to show God’s love in the world.  Where this parable can go off the rails is when one of God’s children cries out in protest, “He got a bigger piece than me.”  Why does this one get five talents, this one two, and that poor schmuck only the one?  That runs against our sensibilities as Americans where all people were created equal.  But this parable compares sanctification to financial matters.  And some people are better at finances than others. 

            Don’t get caught in the limits of the story.  I like what Albert Einstein said.  “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”  We are all God’s children.  We are all created in the image of God.  We all have gifts from God to do things.  I think Einstein is right, everybody is a genius, but nobody is a genius at everything!  Whatever example Jesus used, some would be better than others.  Push beyond thinking in financial terms, to all our human abilities.  We all have abilities given to us by God.  There are some things we are good at, and there are others that we are not.  But the takeaway of the parable is not about who has received more or less talent, or talents.  It is about how those talents are used in service to God.  It is about the exercise of the holiness invested into us by God.

            The second half of this parable is all about the servant with the one talent who buried it.  Another way of thinking about this is the Sunday School song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”  How does the verse go?  “Hide it under a bushel, NO, I’m going to let it shine.”  The light, the talent, these are the sanctification we have received from God.  This servant defied the song.  He took his light and hid it under the bushel.

            When this servant, the talent burier, the light hider, when he is confronted by his master, he blames the master.  “You are a harsh man, reaping what you did not sow and gathering where you did not scatter seed.”  We could spend the next hour doing a comparison of Jesus’ agricultural parables in light of this charge against the Almighty.  But that would be incredibly boring.  The guy is making excuses.  He is a servant of the Master, but he does not want to do anything in the Master’s name.

            To this, the master responds that the servant did not have much to do.  The master had no expectation of the servant going out into the marketplace to buy low and sell high, had no expectation of seeing his money doubled.  The servant could have put it in the bank and at least the master would have gotten interest, would have gotten something.  Now, of course, in the current financial market, it would have to be a savings account or money market account, because checking accounts are paying nothing…

            Wait.  Hold on.  I am off track, headed back into the financial language of the parable.  But that is not without precedent.  There are Christian leaders who have sought to parse out of this particular comment what exactly it means for a Christian to have ‘earned interest’ in Jesus’ name.  On the one hand, this gets us stuck in a consideration of what is the minimum I can get away with in Jesus’ name.   

            On the other hand, this parable gets used and misused in ways that Jesus’ more agricultural metaphors do not because it connects to the capitalist, free market economy that we are familiar with in a way that the agricultural metaphors do not, because there are just not as many of us on the farm any longer.  What that means is we can easily lose sight of the forest for the trees.  We become so interested on the particular details of the parable that we lose sight of the lesson of the whole parable.

            That really comes into play at the conclusion of the parable.  The one talent is given to the guy with ten, the lazy servant is tossed out into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.  If we go back about a month or six weeks, this poor servant will meet the guy who did not dress for the wedding banquet of the king.  He was also tossed out there.  What is that place?  That place is hell.  That is for those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.  Those who have more, to them will be given an abundance.  In this case, the lazy servant is deprived even of his status as a slave.

            Reading into this parable on financial investments has caused a gross misinterpretation of Jesus’ conclusion.  There is a way of thinking about God that is popular in some areas of the Church called ‘prosperity theology’.  A number of the big and swanky TV preachers preach this theology.  It warps sanctification.  For this theology, sanctification translates to economic prosperity in this life.  That is how God’s holiness is reflected in us, by the material gifts of the world.  That is their brand of sanctification.  So, those who have a lot will get more.  Believe in God and you will get more, get more talents.  And in this rendering, talents definitely refer to money and investments.  And there is the flip side.  The poor will get nothing, because poverty is equated to lack of faith.  Thus, when pressing the logic, rich people must be faithful, and poor people not so much.

            What is happening here is that the sanctification that comes from God is being misappropriated and conflated with the goal of capitalism, to make more.  I love the cliché that sums up this way of life, “Whoever dies with the most, wins.”  Because that is all they are going to have.  But death is not the end, but a gateway to the afterlife, where our material goods mean nothing. 

            So what is Jesus really saying in this parable?  He is talking to people of faith, so this does not apply to the unbeliever, they are a law unto themselves according to Paul.  And people of faith, we receive gifts from God.  This is our sanctification, this is our holiness.  And the work of the people of faith, as the servants of God, is to exercise that sanctification, is to use that holiness.  It is what we render unto God. It is governed by the law of loving God and loving neighbor. 

Another way of looking at it is that faith changes our life.  We do things differently.  The servant who buried that one talent did nothing differently.  When the master tells him that he could have at least deposited the talent for interest payments, I hear the frustrated voice of Jesus telling us, “Do something, anything.  You don’t all have to be the pope.  You don’t all have to be John Calvin or Martin Luther, or Martin Luther King Jr., but I died for you and I love you and that changes how we live.

Jesus is telling us that when we turn five talents into ten or two talents into four, we are extending the Kingdom of Heaven here on the earth.  We are sanctified when we receive the gifts of God to extend upon the earth.  Look up Galatians 5: 22-23 to see the Fruit of the Spirit and we see practical definitions of what this sanctification, what this holiness truly is.

It is unbiblical to argue that our sanctification shows up in how prosperous we are in this life.

What is more important than the list of fruit however, is the fact they are of the Spirit.  This is a whole other sermon series, but look to the Pentecost story, to the Holy Spirit coming down upon the first generation of church leaders, coming down on all subsequently, and that is how God is with us to lay out the gifts of sanctification in our lives.    

So I was about to say is that believing is not enough, we have to act on what God has given to us.  But can we even claim to truly believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior if we are not acting on what God has given to us?  Because salvation is multi-faceted.  We are justified, we are sanctified, we are glorified, we are adopted, and faith is manifest in all these expressions.  So I am going to back off that statement about believing.  We can pay lip service to believing in God.  But if it is not showing up in how we live, who are we kidding? 

Thus, the mark of the Kingdom of Heaven is the giving of opportunities by God, through the Holy Spirit, to live out holiness, to live out the law of God, to humbly walk with our God, to, as Jesus says elsewhere, do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  And Jesus’ promise in this parable is that the joy we share in the sanctification we have received will be rewarded with even more joy, even more happiness, even more satisfaction in being a child of the living God.  Such are the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven, now and always.  Amen. 

                

Order of Worship From Sunday, November 15, 2020

 

First Presbyterian Church

November 15, 2020

10:00 AM

Worship Service Unified Order of Worship

  

CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 95:1-2, 5-6)

 

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise!

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For the Lord is our God, and we are the people of God’s pasture, and the sheep of God’s hand.

Let us worship the Living God.

 

Hymn of Praise: “Lead on Oh King Eternal”

1. Lead on, O King eternal, the day of march has come; henceforth in fields of conquest thy tents shall be our home. Through days of preparation thy grace has made us strong; and now, O King eternal, we lift our battle song.

2. Lead on, O King eternal, till sin's fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace. For not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.

     PRAYER OF CONFESSION (In Unison)

God you are merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Yet we test the limits of your grace, constantly turning away from you and toward that which is evil in your sight. We do not understand our own actions, why we know what is right but do what is wrong despite your clear commandments. In a world awash in hate and fear, we are to be those who love others and trust you. Forgive us when instead we resemble the worst rhetoric of our culture rather than the compassion of our Lord. We place ourselves before you, asking again for your transformative grace, honest in our confession because we know you will not abandon us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

 *SILENT PRAYERS OF CONFESSION

*THE GLORIA PATRI

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

Our God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God hears our confession and responds with forgiveness and mercy. Friends, believe the good news and be at peace, through Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

INVITATION: “Dear Lord, I need You, please come into my life today.  Amen”

LESSON: Matthew 25: 14-30

14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

SERMON:         “Sanctification and the Kingdom of Heaven”                                Rev. Peter Hofstra

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (The Apostles’ 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 Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose 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. Amen.

PASSING OF THE PEACE

THE OFFERING OF OUR TITHES & GIFTS

If unable to drop the tithe and offering at church for Sunday morning worship, it can be mailed to First Presbyterian Church, 45 Market St., Perth Amboy, NJ  08861 or sent via Venmo, search email address office@fpcperthamboy.org

*DOXOLOGY

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.

*OFFERTORY PRAYER

JOYS AND CONCERNS

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD’S PRAYER

Gracious God, we come to you in prayer knowing that our voices are accompanied by the communion of the saints and the Holy Spirit. When we struggle to find the words or cannot articulate our longings, hopes and fears, we trust that you know our needs even when we are unable to speak them aloud. We rest in your presence, trusting your compassion, rejoicing in your covenant love that refuses to let us go.

We pray that the church would be a near reflection of its head, Jesus Christ. When the world roils in violence make of us peacemakers. When the oppressed cry out for help send us to bring good news in the form of justice and relief. When your children are hungry help us to feed your sheep. May our unity in Christ be leaven for reconciliation and healing in our communities.

We pray for our nation. In the wake of a divisive election we recognize the tears in the fabric of our communal life. We do not have the power to overcome animosity and rancor on our own. We need your intervention and transformation. Grant those in positions of earthly power humility and wisdom, spiritual maturity and a willingness to listen. May each of us be catalysts for good wherever we have influence.

We pray for the welfare of the world. We do not want to neglect any corner of creation because all the earth belongs to you, Lord God, and you named every inch of it good. As we live and move and have our being in you, reveal to us how to tend and nurture all you have entrusted to us. Knowing that you make us stewards of that which does not belong to us, we ask for the courage to use all we have for your sake and in your service.

We pray for those who suffer in body, mind or spirit. There are those known to us who we name now (the lifting of names). There are those known only to you who we remember in silence. Bring healing, wholeness, relief and peace to those most in need of your presence and love. We pray for ourselves, that we would better love you and neighbor with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who taught us to say when we pray,

 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

SONG OF RESPONSE: “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”

1. And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior's blood! Died he for me? who caused his pain! For me? who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2. 'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies! Who can explore his strange design? In vain the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine. 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; let angel minds inquire no more. 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; let angel minds inquire no more.

 

*BENEDICTION

*THREE FOLD AMEN

 

 

 

Elements of Order of Worship drawn from The Presbyterian Outlook, written by Jill Duffield.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Service of Worship for Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sermon for Sunday, November 8, 2020

November 8, 2020        Sermon            Matthew 25: 1-13

            In the gospels, the individual teachings of Jesus are powerful enough.  I hope that is seen each week.  But at a deeper level, they interlock, referring back and forth to each other, offering potential for even deeper understanding of the love in the teachings of Christ.  This week’s passage builds on last week’s.  Last week, we read how Jesus preached to the people how they should listen to the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees, because they ‘sat in the seat of Moses’, their teachings were legitimate.  But the warning was not to do as they did, as they used their positions of authority for self-aggrandizement in the community of faith.  Our passage this week picks up with a consideration of the consequences. 

            Jesus tells a parable.  Ten maidens await the bridegroom.  Five have enough oil, five do not.  They go and buy more, but it is too late.  The doors are closed, the party is full.  Jesus is the bridegroom, the wedding party is the end of time.  All of these people are apparently believers.  Half have the juice to make it to the end and five do not.  On its own, this is tough.  We have spoken of how sanctification, of how holiness, is given to us by the Father in Heaven.  Now, Jesus seems to be telling us that we need to have enough holiness to get us over the finish line.

            But if we look to last week’s passage, we can see clearly what Jesus is trying to illustrate.  The scribes and Pharisees would stand among the ten maidens who are waiting for the bridegroom.  They preach the right words, they say the right things.  The way of sanctification, rendering unto God, loving God, these are proper words that come out of their mouths.  But their lives do not demonstrate what they are teaching.  They are not accepting the faith they have been given to pass along with humility.  In fact, they are not living that faith at all.  Rather, they promote themselves because of who they are, claiming God’s authority to make themselves important in the community. 

            This is the other side of sanctification.  God provides the means of sanctification, will lead us in lives where we can be more like our Lord Jesus, where we can choose the good and proper and loving thing over the sinful things of the world.  But God has put in specific limitation to God’s power, that God will operate within the gift of free will that God has created within us.

            What we believe, as Presbyterians, about God and the world, they are based on certain presuppositions.  The first, God is all-powerful.  That means nothing happens without God’s will.  Second, God is all-loving.  Thus our salvation is won through the ultimate demonstration of love, Jesus giving up his life for his friends, for all of us.  Third, God created us with free will to choose to worship God.  Which leads to point 3.5, we used that free will badly.  I refer back to Adam and Eve, who turned away from the command of God to follow their own choice-not to defy God, because they’d been tricked into thinking they’d done a good thing.  They brought sin into the world. 

            The consequences of that third point are the hardest for me to accept.  That I am a sinful person.  It is true of course.  I am not always happy and loving all the time.  We all have those moments when we are angry, frustrated, irritated, irrational, irksome, ticked off, touchy, grouchy, just plain mean, projecting thoughts, words, deeds, and attitudes that we come to regret.  These are the things of life that we do not want to do, but they are woven into our very fabric.  I guess what bothers me most is that in the eyes of God, this is absolute, black and white.  As sinners, we have a scale of sinning, from the relatively harmless internal feelings we have through the evil of those who seek to hurt and kill others.  

            Modern culture has played into this suppression of the reality of sin, trying to replace God Us, we humans, as divine.  The commercials we are bombarded with all try to sell us things to make our lives better.  I will look better, I will feel better, I will be healthier, I will be happier if I use the right dish soap, or drive the proper car, or whatever-all this is a faint copy of real sanctification.  It is so focused on the exterior of who we are, presuming that to look good is to BE good.   

            So athletes and actors and musicians are the heroes of the day.  They play sports with ever higher degrees of skill, they give amazing performances on the stage and film, they make awesome music.  This external excellence is equated to moral excellence, until the football player is revealed to be a wife beater, or the actor is revealed to be an extreme narcissist, or the musician is revealed to be addicted to narcotics.  And while we are getting more sensitive to things with the Me Too movement and similar things, all too often, we focus only on the external things.

            True sanctification brings the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives, to overturn the sin that invests our entire existence.  But when we live in an age that pushes so hard on how things look, instead of how things are, the entire concept of sin is rendered out of date in the attitudes of the present age.  

            Sanctification is not simply about talking more holy, certainly not about ‘looking holy’ but, in modern cliché, talking the right talk, and about walking the right walk.

            This is what the plan of God in the death and resurrection is to accomplish in the lives of God’s children, it is to accomplish our reunion with our Parent in heaven.  It is like those first days in the Garden of Eden when all our cares were satisfied and we could walk with God in the cool of the day.  Our very creation is premised on our ability and desire to know God and enjoy God forever, to glorify God and embody God’s love.

            And, to continue on the road of cliches this morning, it takes two to tango.  God provides us the means of our sanctification, the means of our holiness, but it falls upon our shoulders to embrace that opportunity to live lives in the love of God. 

            So there were ten maidens waiting for the bridegroom.  Their lamps were lit but some did not have enough oil to last until the bridegroom arrived.  There are people who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior who are looking for the day when Jesus will return on the clouds from heaven, coming back the way he went up.  Among those people are those who have paid lip service to being a Christian and those for whom life has been changed, been made more holy, been sanctified as they have embraced God’s gift to them.

            I remember a story told in a sermon when I was in college to illustrate this.  There was a small town where most of the houses were fueled by wood stoves and fireplaces.  There was the man who provided the wood to most of the town, and wood is sold by the cord.  So a cord of wood is a well stacked pile that is 8 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot.  For your average fireplace or wood stove, the cord of wood is a pair of well stacked piles of wood, each 8 by 4 by 2.  So the man who provided the wood, he was always a little short.  It was never overt, but each piece was a few inches shorter than it should have been.  It was a small town, it was one of those things that people lived with.  In the course of time in this small town, this man, who had not been in church since childhood, renewed his faith and became active in his local church.  Then his cords of wood assumed their proper dimensions, which was the thing that convinced people his faith was now genuine. 

            Paul goes so far as to tell us that we must not use our faith as an excuse to keep on sinning.  We can use all the right words, but when our lives do not change, the sanctification offered to us by God has not entered into our lives.  And, to follow the logic of the parable, we have a multiplicity of opportunities to start again in this life, but there will be a time when the doors will be shut, when this life will be done, and we will no longer be admitted into the household of faith.

            So what have we seen in sanctification thus far?  It is something that is rendered unto God.  It is living out the law of loving God with our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits.  It is done humbly and without pride or used an attempt to demonstrate our ‘holiness’ to the world.  And it is something that is still subject to our free will.  In other words, we can say that we love Jesus but it does not mean a thing if we are not living like we love Jesus.  This is how God has bound God’s own power, because if God did not, we would be over awed by the power of the divine.  To show us God’s true self, there would be nothing that we could do but worship.

            But this is not the plan of God.  God gives us every opportunity to know and believe in our Father who art in heaven while still laying the responsibility for embracing that opportunity squarely on our shoulders.  At one level, there are people who claim to love Jesus but it never makes a difference in how they live their lives.  At another level, there are those who claim to love Jesus and then seek to leverage that power to their own advantage. 

            I am a fan of law enforcement dramas and cop shows.  I have yet to see one that has not worked into its plot the preacher who has gone over the line because of how they twist the words of faith.  The latest was an episode of Criminal Minds where the crazy preacher used to be the street savvy kid on Beverly Hills 90210.  That is the other way that our modern culture twists God’s sanctification.  If being made holy is not fixated on how we look, if it actually touches our moral selves, then it is portrayed as if a crazy man of God is twisting God’s love in the hearts of his believers for his own purposes.  And I say He because a female cult leader does not stick in my mind from TV.  It seems to reinforce the ideal that we, Us, humans, are the divine by making those who ‘follow’ God look crazy.

            From these two sides, our sanctification, our being made holy by God, is under attack.  It has either been commoditized, turned into a commodity, a product we should buy and use to make our lives more fully realized, more holy.  Or it has been satirized, it has been turned into a joke that God’s authority is used by crazy fanatics on the gullible and weak minded, that holiness is really just exploitation.

            Sin began when the serpent convinced Adam and Eve that eating the forbidden fruit would make them ‘more like God’.  The sinful world has been trying to convince us of our own divinity, our own holiness, that it is Us, and not God, since the very beginning.  The effort is not to discredit holiness, but rather to misdirect its intent and focus. 

            Sanctification is so much simpler.  But a simple idea can be difficult to implement.  In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been saved, forgiven by the grace of God for the sin we have been born into.  It is a free gift, but one that claims our very existence.  It begins in gratitude, a way to say thank you for that which we have received.  We live our lives differently, showing love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, the traits that Jesus showed in his life among us.  He is pretty good model to follow for the Christian life.  It is through these actions that we are sanctified, that we are made more holy.  This is what it means to love God, what it means to render unto God, simply to come humbly to our Lord and seek to live as the God of Love would have us live.  This is the sanctification that God has laid before us, the holiness that we are called upon to embrace that we may be more like our beloved Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Order of Worship For Sunday, November 8, 2020

 

First Presbyterian Church

November 8, 2020

10:00 AM

Worship Service Unified Order of Worship

  

CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 78:1-4)

 

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;

Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable;

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and God’s might, and the wonders that the Lord has done.

Let us worship the Living God.

 

Hymn of Praise: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”

1. All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all. bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.

 2. Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all. to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all.

 3. O that with yonder sacred throng we at his feet may fall! We'll join the everlasting song, and crown him Lord of all. We'll join the everlasting song, and crown him Lord of all.

     PRAYER OF CONFESSION (In Unison)

Loving God, as we examine our life together, our impulses and actions, we see all too clearly that our choices do not reflect your commandments. We fail to love you and we neglect to love our neighbors. You tell us to be ready to meet you at any moment, to stay awake to your presence and prepared to do your will. We remain distracted or complacent, disillusioned or paralyzed. We ask for your wisdom. Focus our attention on our Savior that we might see your vision for this world. Forgive our past mistakes so that we will be free to be the salt and light you call and create us to be. Amen.

 *SILENT PRAYERS OF CONFESSION

*THE GLORIA PATRI

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON (Psalm 70:1)

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me! Friends, believe the good news, through Jesus Christ we are forgiven! Thanks be to God! Amen.

INVITATION: “Dear Lord, I need You, please come into my life today.  Amen”

LESSONS

Matthew 25: 1-13

25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.  6But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'  7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.  8The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'  9But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'  10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.  11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'  12But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.'  13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

SERMON:                    “To Talk Right AND Walk Right”                                    Rev. Peter Hofstra

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (from A Declaration of Faith)

God has not taken his people out of the world, but has sent them into the world to worship God there and serve all humankind. We worship God in the world by standing before the Lord in behalf of all people. Our cries for help and our songs of praise are never for ourselves alone.

Worship is no retreat from the world; it is part of our mission.

We serve humankind by discerning what God is doing in the world and joining God in that work. We risk disagreement and error when we try to say what God is doing here and now. But we find guidance in God’s deeds in the past and in God’s promises for the future, as they are witnessed to in Scripture. We affirm that the Lord is at work, especially in events and movements that free people by the gospel and advance justice, compassion and peace.

PASSING OF THE PEACE

THE OFFERING OF OUR TITHES & GIFTS

If unable to drop the tithe and offering at church for Sunday morning worship, it can be mailed to First Presbyterian Church, 45 Market St., Perth Amboy, NJ  08861 or sent via Venmo, search email address office@fpcperthamboy.org

*DOXOLOGY

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.

*OFFERTORY PRAYER

JOYS AND CONCERNS

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

It is in the sanctuary that we share and lift requests to the Lord as a community.  Online, we are deliberately more general, as a community, in the joys and concerns we lift, knowing that, almost like the Kingdom of Heaven, things remain on the Internet forever and we are very aware of people’s privacy.  However, people are encouraged to lift their requests to the Lord in the privacy of where they are viewing the service.  In either case, the appropriate response to these requests is “Lord, Hear Our 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

SONG OF RESPONSE: “Lead on Oh King Eternal”

1. Lead on, O King eternal, the day of march has come; henceforth in fields of conquest thy tents shall be our home. Through days of preparation thy grace has made us strong; and now, O King eternal, we lift our battle song.

2. Lead on, O King eternal, till sin's fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace. For not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.

3. Lead on, O King eternal, we follow, not with fears, for gladness breaks like morning where'er thy face appears. Thy cross is lifted o'er us, we journey in its light; the crown awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might.

*BENEDICTION

*THREE FOLD AMEN

 

 

 

Elements of Order of Worship drawn from The Presbyterian Outlook, written by Jill Duffield.