00:00 / 01:30

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

Rev. Deb Arnold

Pastor: Rev. Debra Arnold

Email: revdebarnold@gmail.com

Office: (207) 548-0327; Cell: (401) 486-5983

Pastor’s Office Hours

Varies (or by appt.)

Church Office Assistant: Bill Zito

Email: fccsearsport@gmail.com or text/call  at 207-323-0230

Church Office Hours

Varies

DRIVE - IN WORSHIP  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 us pray this new adventure will please God.  ​

BULLETIN - Jan 24 -    Drive-In  10:00 am  as PDF and Word  Bulletin prints out as:

 

 

 

 

or at Home as follows:   

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

SEARSPORT, MAINE

WORSHIP FROM HOME

JANUARY 24, 2021

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

**********************************************************************

 

 “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

― Viktor E. Frankl

 

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

Prelude:     What A Friend We Have in Jesus   Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music

Played by Carolyn Maunz/Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Prelude 1_25

Call to Worship:

God called to Jonah to get up, go to Nineveh and proclaim God’s word.

But Jonah refused, until God called a second time.

God is persistent. God believes in those whom God has called.

Jesus called the disciples by the lakeshore

They left their families and jobs to follow Jesus.

Lord, give us the courage to follow you all of our lives. AMEN.

O JESUS I HAVE PROMISED

O Jesus I have promised,

To serve Thee to the end.

Be Thou forever near me,

My master and my Friend.

I shall not fear the battle, 

If Thou art by my side

Nor wander from the pathway,

If Thou wilt be my guide.

 

O Jesus Thou hast promised,

To all who follow Thee,

That where Thou art in glory

There shall Thy servant be.

And Jesus I have promised,

To serve Thee to the end

O give me grace to follow,

My Master and my Friend.

 

Joys and Concerns

*Cody - a young man battling deep depression

*George Kerper recovering from open heart surgery

*Lynne Smith (Ted Nichols’ sister-in-law) recovering from open heart surgery

*Rex Kelley is home and continues to recover

*Jeff Stout - broken foot

*Peg Stout - cardiac issues

*Cheri Stark - Wes Butler’s girlfriend battling cancer

*Those who have friends and family suffering from COVID infection

*Pat McDonald awaiting by-pass surgery

*Ron Hagerthy (Percy & Priscilla’s nephew) is NOT DOING WELL with cancer treatment

*Al Hagerthy recovering from surgeries

*Little “Will” diagnosed with brain/kidney tumor

*Charlene’s friend “Joyce” appreciates our prayers and is happy to share she had surgery that has made a difference.

*If anyone needs to sit with the pastor, please call her home 401-486-5983 and she will arrange to meet in a safe place with you complete with face mask.

 

Opening Prayer:

O God, you are our light and our salvation. Living in your presence, we have nothing to fear. Open our hearts to your word this day. As we hear the story of the call of the first disciples, make us ready to follow Jesus on whatever path he leads us. Cast aside our fears and doubts, and teach us to trust wholly in you. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name who taught us to pray,“Our Father . . .”

Opening Hymn 1_25

Anthem       My Faith Looks Up to Thee       Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music

Played by Carolyn Maunz/Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Offertory re-record 1_25

Scripture

Psalm 62: 5 - 12

Jonah 3: 1 - 5, 10

Mark 1: 14 - 20

*******

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     REESES OR KITKAT BAR? (may also listen)

Do children still get to stand before a candy counter and choose a candy bar to eat? When I was little, my mom would take us to the drug store in our town and allow us to choose a candy bar. That was always such a treat! When I became a mom, I did the same thing. Every now and then I took my girls to the drug store in our town and allowed them to choose a candy bar. 

Laura and Lindsay would scoop up their choice in a heartbeat and they would be half-way to the register while Valerie would be standing frozen. I watched as she would turn her head from side to side. I hated to urge her to hurry because she would be near to tears, afraid of making the wrong choice. I thought I was doing something fun with the girls but for Valerie this little exercise was almost always painful. 

Later, when it came time for Valerie to choose a college to attend, I witnessed the four-year-old child within her reappear. Choosing a college is a much bigger decision than choosing a candy bar so I could sympathize a bit more. God gives us choices every day. Sometimes important choices make us fret and worry. I have come to realize, though, that no matter what we choose, if we trust in God and seek God’s direction, any choice we make will be a blessing.

God will never force Himself on us. God wants us to choose for ourselves whether or not we will follow His way. I hope that, as you grow older, you will learn to love the gift of choice that God gives us and that you will practice praying about your choices so that you can be assured God is with you every step of the way.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for giving me the gift of choice. Help me to do my best at making the right choice. Help me to learn to trust that you will be with me no matter what I choose. Bless me. Bless my home. Bless the world where I go. Amen.

Children’s Sermon 1_25
Sermon 1_25

Sermon  LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

How many of you are procrastinators? How many of you find it difficult to make snap decisions? Of the main characters in today’s scripture stories, with which do you most readily identify? Are you as impulsive as the fishermen or are you more reluctant and rebellious like Jonah? To be honest, I find all of the characters condemnable. I find all of the characters to be a part of my own identity.

Let’s face it: what great prophet would dare refuse an order from God? What great prophet would suddenly bail on his profession and just run away from his responsibility to speak the word of the Lord when told to do so? What type of sons abandon their fathers and the family businesses on a whim to traipse around after a stranger? What type of men impulsively, or as Mark describes it - immediately, quit their jobs leaving their families to fend for themselves just so they can join a religious cult? 

It is easy for me to sit in judgment of Jonah. Surely this great prophet had a secure relationship with God but his distaste for the Ninevites was greater. Those despicable heathens deserved to suffer the righteous wrath of God. Jonah would rather witness their annihilating punishment than reach out with warning. That’s not nice. I don’t like to see people punished. I would rather they repent and learn the way of love. 

Looking deeper, there must have been more going on with Jonah than simple prejudice and self-righteousness. He didn’t just refuse to go to Nineveh, he boarded a boat and set sail for the farthest destination away from that site. Before long, the nagging guilt that drove Jonah away became a full-fledged turbulent storm affecting everyone around him. Jonah would rather die than do what he knew he was called to do. Why? What deep-seated hatred would cause a man to attempt suicide rather than reach out to speak truth to power? Did Jonah fear or hate the Ninevites more than he trusted God? View Jonah’s response in light of the immediate and sincere repentance of the Ninevites.Is this story about Jonah written to make me aware of how ugly my own spiritual resistance is? I may not have set sail for distant shores in my lifetime but I can recall times when I just shut down spiritually to follow my own path.

As for the fishermen, I criticize their failure as family men because their obedience pricks my conscience. I know I would never have had that kind of faith. Years ago when a woman pastor suggested I take a paid position as a Christian Education director for another church I recoiled at the idea. I was a full time, stay-at-home mother to three girls. I would not leave my home nor our family church to serve anyone else. I felt perfectly fulfilled teaching Sunday school and directing Vacation Bible School at our own church for free. Years later, when it came time to interview for a student pastorate position in another church, I fled the interview running all the way home to vomit. Surely a third-year seminarian had more faith than that!

Ah, but did the fishermen in our scriptures truly make a rash and uninformed decision? Would God just have us throw all to the wind with some notion out of the blue that we are to suddenly don the robe? John W. Schoenheit, in his article “The Calling of the Disciples” published in the first quarter issue of 2015 The Sower Magazine, points to all four gospel calls stories and the context surrounding this seemingly sudden abandonment of responsibility. All of the fishermen had already been in Jesus’ company for some time when he called them to full-time ministry. They were devout Jews with deep spirituality who had listened to John the Baptist’s message and Jesus’ teaching. By the time Jesus recruited them, they already thought he was the Messiah. 

A closer look at Luke’s version of this story reveals that the call to leave their fishing and follow came just as the soon-to-be full time disciples witnessed a miracle. The disciples (or students) had fished all night and caught nothing. Their rabbi, Jesus, appeared and asked them to throw their already half-cleaned nets back into the sea. The haul they caught was so huge the nets were breaking. Jesus knew that asking the men to take a leave of absence from their careers would be risky for them. Once they realized that God would provide for their needs just as surely as God filled those nets, they were all in.

Schoenheit contends that the disciples most surely arranged for hired hands to replace them so that they would not lose their businesses. That explains why they were able to go back to fishing after the resurrection. Then, later, the risen Christ came to them at them at the shore and asked Peter if he loved fishing more than Christ. “Peter, really? After all you’ve been through with me, you want to go back to fishing?” The rest of the story tells of Peter’s career change - building the church of Christ. 

In as much as these stories can be held up as mirrors to our own shortcomings, they are more about the nature of God. God understands our reticence, our clouded vision. God is patient, never giving up on us, always confident that we will take the next step closer to God’s vision for our lives. What, at first blush, seems like hasty decisions or invitations are actually confident acquiescence to continuous gentle holy nudges.  

I often ask children if the bride and groom in our culture suddenly fall in love with each other at the altar during their wedding. Of course, the children giggle at my absurd wondering. The two only step up to that commitment after getting to know and love one another first. When Russ and I made the decision to follow God’s call to Maine, it seemed to many that we were being impulsive. Nothing could be further from the truth. We prayed and talked and sought counsel from trusted friends. When the time came to move, we simply moved, trusting God would be with us.

These stories this morning are not so much about the main characters. They are all about the Main Character - our patient, persevering, precious loving God who will never stop pursuing us or wooing us. They are all about a God who carefully ensures that all the actors are in their places, the set is prepared perfectly, the script is complete before he calls “Lights, Camera, Action!” 

What step do you feel God calling you to make this morning? Can you even identify it or do you just feel some deep inner tide change going on within  you? Don’t waste energy lamenting your questioning or lack of faith. God knows what you need and will wait until you are ready to receive it. Take heart, take a breath, and take hope in the tomorrow God holds for you. And the people of God said, “Amen.”

Hymns  The Summons 


 

THE SUMMONS

Will you come and follow Me, 

If I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know,

And never be the same?

Will you let My love be shown?

Will you let my name be known?

Will you let My life be grown in you,

And you in Me?


 

Will you let the blinded see ,

If I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free,

And never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean,

And do such as unseen?

And admit to what I mean in you,

And you in me?


 

Played by Carolyn Maunz/Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Closing Hymn 1_25

Benediction

Go now in the way of God the Father

In the commitment of Jesus Christ, the Son

And in the power of the Holy Spirit

This day and forever more. Amen.

 

Three-fold Amen

Played by Carolyn Maunz/Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Amen (16) (2)

Postlude    Amazing Grace      Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music      

Played by Carolyn Maunz, Recorded for you by Don Maunz

Postlude 1_25

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

 

 

 

 

 

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