FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

Rev. Deb Arnold
Pastor: Rev. Debra Arnold
Email: revdebarnold@gmail.com
Office: (207) 548-0327; Home: (207) 505-1942
Pastor’s Office Hours
Monday, Wednesday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM (or by appt.)
Church Office Assistant: Bill Zito
Email: fccsearsport@gmail.com or text/call  at 207-323-0230
Church Office Hours
Tuesday or Thursday and from Home, 9:00 AM—3:00 PM

 

             This Sunday we will continue to offer  drive-in worship services in the church parking lot on Knox Bros. Ave. 

 

Worship will begin at 10 am on the dot. You may want to arrive early because parking will take some time. 

Be ready with your car radio tuned to 103.5 FM.

 

Remember to bring masks in case you to need speak to someone who outside your car (during collection?).

 

You are asked to remain in your vehicle the entire time. Bathrooms will not be open.

 

I have attached a simple bulletin with the hymn lyrics on it. You may want to print it and bring it along with you but I will direct your through the service if you decide not to do so. To limit contact and to maintain social distancing, we have decided to NOT distribute any papers to individuals. 

 

We will take up a collection with a masked trustee bringing a wooden box on a long pole to your car window during the service.

 

If you have a joy or concern you would like me to share during prayer time, please let me know by 7 pm Saturday night. 

 

We have made lots of plans using a great deal of consideration to keep everyone safe. Let's pray this new adventure will please God.

BULLETIN - Sept 13  Drive-In

or whole service on line as follows:

 

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

SEARSPORT, MAINE

WORSHIP FROM HOME

SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

 

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

~ Anne Lamott

*To hear the music, download the attached songs onto your computer and then open them to listen.

 

Prelude:       In the Garden           Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music

Played by Carolyn Maunz

Recorded for you by Don Maunz

 

Call to Worship:

Sing praise to God who rescues us when we fall!

Sing praise to God who walks with us on all our journeys!

Even though we fall, God lifts us and places us on paths of peace.

Even though we stray, God finds us and brings us back to lives of hope.

Thanks be to God, whose love is continually with us.

Praise be to God, whose mercy is over us all. AMEN.

 

Opening Prayer:

We sing and speak your praise, O God, grateful for the many ways in which you have healed us. Keep our hearts, our minds, and our spirits open to learn ways in which we can offer healing love for others. Accept our prayer as we pray the prayer Your Son taught us to pray saying, “Our Father . . .”

 

 

Prelude. 9_14
00:00 / 02:30
Opening Hymn Sept 14
00:00 / 01:12

Anthem     Put Your Hand in the Hand Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music

Played by Carolyn Maunz

Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Offertory Sept 14
00:00 / 01:45

Joys and Concerns

*Priscilla King is recovering from knee surgery

*Don Hagerthy (Percy & Priscilla’s nephew) is battling cancer

*Norman Otis is recovering from carpal tunnel surgery

*Joyce Hopkins

*Little “Will” diagnosed with brain/kidney tumor

*Rex Kelley

*Charlene’s friend “Joyce” is battling a debilitating disease.

*If anyone needs to sit with the pastor, please call her home 505-1942 and she will arrange to meet in a safe place with you complete with face mask.

Scripture

Psalm 103: 1 - 13  

Genesis 50: 15 - 21

Matthew 18: 21 - 35 

*******

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!

 

For the Young and Young at Heart           We All Need Forgiveness (you may listen below)

This morning our bible stories talk about forgiveness. Jesus taught the disciples that forgiveness is very important. It is important for the person who needs to be forgiven and it is important for the person who needs to forgive someone. 

Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him to the gypsies. When the brothers discovered Joseph was alive and could help them get food, they were afraid that he was angry with them. Joseph forgave his brothers and took care of them and all their families for seventeen years. When their dad died, the brothers became afraid again that Joseph would change his mind and hurt them for what they had done to him so long ago. But Joseph had forgiven them. He promised them that he would never return bad things to them for their mistake. Forgiving people who hurt our feelings or make mistakes is hard to do. Sometimes people make us very angry and we get stuck with that angry feeling. Sometimes we make mistakes and hurt other people and feel sad and afraid. Forgiveness is really important to love and to feel loved.

I have attached a Youtube address for you to watch someone read a very good story about Forgiveness. “Everyone Need Forgiveness” by Mercer Mayer is a wonderful story about forgiving and being forgiven. I hope you enjoy the story. I would be a good book for you to have! 

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for all the many times you forgive me for making mistakes and behaving badly. Thank you for giving me new chances to make things right. Help me to forgive people when they are sorry and want me to still be their friend. Help me to be honest with others when I do make mistakes. Bless me. Bless my home. Bless the world where I go. Amen.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThVEoGO_osU&ab_channel=Rachel%27sMom

 

 

Sermon   Coping with Debt (you may listen)

I got the best thing in the mail this week! I got a notification from the Federal Loan Servicing Bureau of the U. S. Department of Education declaring that my student loans were finally paid in full. Hallelujah! I have been paying on those since June of 2011 and I expected to be paying on them for at least another ten years if it weren’t for my parents. They left me a wonderful gift when they passed. I had no idea I would inherit enough money to pay this debt off and I am so grateful. A huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders.

I doubt I would have pursued seminary had I realized what I would owe upon graduation. At first, I received scholarships and grants and it seemed I would manage just fine. But, grants dried up and circumstances changed and I began to borrow the funds to keep going. Twelve hundred here, two thousand there . . . until six months after graduation, when I got my first notice to begin paying the accrued total of $34,543.45. That’s almost the amount of the mortgage I had on my first house!

Debt is a huge stumbling block these days. I worry about our kids and the debt they most likely are enslaved to. The average credit card holder has at least four different credit cards and the average household carries $8,398 in revolving debt. That doesn’t include things like mortgages and car loans. Most consumers only manage to pay the minimum required payment each month so their balance remains pretty much the same. Without credit counseling and some serious discipline and intentional strategizing, it is almost impossible to get out of debt. With the COVD19 crisis causing unemployment and business downtrends, I fear the entire country will become hopeless slaves to the “plastic king”.

Jesus tells us the story of a man who was deeply in debt. He owed his king so much money that there was no way he could pay off his debt. Now, in Jesus’ time, there was no such thing as bankruptcy. This man’s debt was so huge that the king was going to sell the borrower and every member of his family into slavery along with whatever possessions they had so that he could recoup his investment. Imagine, today, if you fell months and then years behind, Mr. Master Card or Madam Visa having the right to sell you and your children and grandchildren into slavery once the climate of forebearance expires. We are talking about the rest of the borrower’s and the family’s lives. It is no wonder the servant begged and pleaded for more time to catch up.

Luckily for the man in debt, the king felt pity and showed compassion. Not only did he change his mind about selling the family and their possessions but he cancelled the debt completely. There are some economists who might argue that the king probably figured it would be easier to let the family go away debt free than to continue to incur the expense of room and board for the family while they continued to try to work off their debt. Whatever the motivation was, the king chose to forgive the enormous debt. 

Wouldn’t you think the forgiven debtor would have been ecstatic at this generous mercy? I know I was elated, almost giddy when I was suddenly and unexpectedly freed from my student loan debt. I doubt I will ever not feel grateful to my parents for their selfless compassion and forethought. In our story’s case, however, the excused debtor immediately begins scouring the town to shake down every one who owed him money. The king made a good point when he condemned the former debtor for his actions. “I didn’t have to show mercy to you but I chose to simply because you asked me to. I would have expected you to treat others with that same compassion.”

Who are you in the story? Are you the merciful lender who has used patient restraint finally accepting the fact that your investment in another will never be returned? Are you the man hopelessly in debt, anxiously fearing how you will ever be able to free yourself from this burden? Are you the exacting person who insists on his rights, his due, not realizing the implications of mercy shown to you? Are you an outsider judging the actions, or lack thereof, of the forgiven slave?

This whole story is offered in response to Peter’s query about forgiveness. Peter is wondering, when is enough enough?Thinking he is showing a magnanimous spirit, he proposes “seven times?” According to rabbinical law, Jews were required to forgive an offender three times, but after that, the offended one could be done with the person. Seven is not just a random choice for a number. Seven symbolized completion or eternity. Thus, Peter thinks he is looking like the star student here. Imagine his bewildered humiliation when Jesus responds, “Nope, seventy TIMES seven!”

Good for Peter. He puts it right out there. Forgiving is difficult. I am not even sure a person is capable of willing one’s self to forgive any more than one can will one’s self to stop loving a beloved. Still, the bible tells us we are obliged to forgive. According to Luke, Jesus demanded, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each day he comes to you saying, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.”

What does this say for victims of domestic abuse? What does this imply to the substance abuser or the gambling addict? What is the trickle down effect on the child who is being abused by one parent while the other parent fails to protect? How does this impact the landlord whose mortgage payment depends upon monthly rental income? Should we have no law enforcement or penal system?

When trying to understand a section of scripture, it is important to consider context. This whole conversation about forgiveness is part of the larger discussion about confrontation for the purpose of reconciliation. Remember, last week we talked about the importance of articulating your offense to the offender and making every attempt to restore a wounded relationship between Christian brothers and sisters so as to not let it die. 

If the person repents, or changes his or her behavior, then we must forgive. You cannot forgive someone that won’t acknowledge they have wounded you. Forgiveness is not the same as dismissing or ignoring an affront. By looking the other way and not accepting that you have been offended, you are untrue to yourself and you relinquish your part in the relationship that holds the other accountable to be their best self. It may be that you can only articulate your hurt to God, but you must admit it and own it without shame. 

It is much easier to just give up on any attempt to reconcile a relationship, to withhold forgiveness, because the offense is so large. But in so doing, one only poisons oneself. The grudge becomes sludge that bogs down every part of the spirit. As Anne Lamott puts it, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” 

When I discovered this quote I immediately thought of that morning twenty-five years ago when I thought I heard a cat yowling outside. It sounded like a cat wailing to get into a fight. I walked around the house looking out the windows while talking on the phone but I didn’t see anything. Later, when I went to hang out my laundry, I discovered my precious little kitten, Boomer, dead on the porch. She had been poisoned by drinking antifreeze. All I could think of was the pain she must have suffered while she died. I cried for days. Does God cry as God witnesses the way our souls are unwittingly poisoned by bitter unforgiveness that seems all too sweet?

The answer to Peter’s question, “How many times must I forgive?” is found in another question, “Why must I forgive?” The simple answer is found in our disappointment in the forgiven servant’s response to his own forgiveness. How much have we been forgiven, over and over again, by a perfect God to whom we owe everything? Forgiveness is a gift of grace, a reflection of God’s love. Then, since forgiveness is not natural for us but very difficult, it cannot be a one-and-done event. We have to bring our offense to God and ask help with forgiveness again and again. With our persistence and God’s grace, forgiveness eventually happens.

Remember not too long ago when we read the story about Joseph revealing himself to his brothers who had come to Egypt to buy food? They were terrified because of their guilt over how they had treated Joseph, selling him to slaves so many years ago. As promised, Joseph took care of those brothers, of his entire family, when they moved to Egypt. Some seventeen years later, after Joseph’s father died, the brothers still feared he harbored resentment over what they had done. Again, they begged Joseph’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is often as difficult to receive as it is to give. And so, we persist until Grace comes down. Yet, with God, forgiveness is a one-and-done event. My prayer is that one day we will embrace that truth and live into the peace waiting there for each of us. And the people of God said, “Amen.”

 

We All Need Forgiveness
00:00 / 02:21
Coping With Death
00:00 / 12:02

 

 

 

 

Hymns      Be Thou My Vision & Blest Be the Tie that Binds  

Played by Carolyn Maunz

Recorded for you by Don Maunz

 

BE THOU MY VISION

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.

 

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord.

Thou my great father, I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

AMEN

 

BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love.

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

 

From sorrow, toil and pain,

And sin we shall be free.

And perfect love and friendship reign

Through all eternity.

AMEN

 

Benediction

Go, now in the Grace of God the Father,

Washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son,

And lifted up by the Holy Spirit

This day and forever more. Amen!

 

 Three-fold Amen

Played by Carolyn Maunz

Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Closing Hymn Sept 14
00:00 / 01:14
Amen (4)
00:00 / 00:34

8 Church Street    
PO Box 261    
Searsport, Maine 04974    
(207)548-0327  

 

 

 

 

 

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