EVPC Update, May 29, 2020
What a week, huh? We’ve gone from the high 30s/low 40s at night into the high 80s. We might even see the 90s today or tomorrow. Idaho moved from Phase 2 to Phase 3, so bars and Silverwood are now open; and, we can go there without fear of being told to quarantine for two weeks. Our Governor declared that people can worship together in numbers that are allowed to greatly exceed what the health authorities is safe. But, we’re encouraged to wear masks that are only designed to protect other people from us, not us from infection. And, even though ten miles away people can do pretty much as we please, we’re told to keep staying home. If you’ve been out for a drive this week, it seems like most people are ignoring the governor. Oh well, why should the world be less crazy during a pandemic than it is every other day of our lives?
I must say that I’ve appreciated that the vast majority of people, though, are still willing to let at least a bit of common sense to prevail. Personally, I’ve seen more people wearing masks in the past week than I saw through most of the weeks of the quarantine. That’s a good thing. It shows that we truly care that we don’t give the disease to someone else. I love that the media has been working so diligently to tell the good news stories of how people have gone to extraordinary and creative lengths to give care and comfort to others. And, I very much appreciate that despite the President’s order that churches reopen immediately that the majority of congregations have taken a stand to say, “The health and well-being of our congregants is more important than being in one building.”
For decades, Christians have said that the Church is Christ’s body in the world. The Church has many members, each person using the gifts they’ve received from the Holy Spirit to build up one another in faith. In our Reformed tradition, we’ve also said for hundreds of years that we are all ministers, gifted, equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out our own ministry in the world, just where God has put us. Yet, with those things being said and declared as the core of our understanding of Church, we’ve also fallen into the trap of thinking of church as a place we go to for an hour or two a week—maybe. So, one truly wonderful thing that is emerging in the midst of this pandemic is the growing realization that Church truly is FAR MORE than a place. We’ve discovered that our sense and experience of worshiping God is perhaps even more profound when we’ve been able to look each other in the eye as we prayed, read scripture, and heard the Spirit speaking to us in the meditation. We’ve discovered that we get to spend more time together through 40 minute sessions each day through the week, instead of just a few minutes in a noisy room on Sunday morning. We’ve also discovered that a lot of ministry can be done through phone calls, cards, letters, and, video gab sessions. We’ve also learned that doing what we can to help others in need is a lot more satisfying than helping ourselves.
So, I guess what I’m trying to point out is this. God has helped us make some great batches of lemonade out of a sour situation these past 2 ½ months.
Scripture for the Day Psalm 15
Psalm Prayer. God of love, you adopted us as your children. Grant that we may pass through this world with such integrity that no one will have just complaint against us. At the end, may we inherit what has been prepared for us in heaven; through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Just for Laughs
You Know You’re Living in 2020 When…
You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.
You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
You text the person who works at the desk next to you.
Your reason for not staying in touch with family and friends is that they don’t have a Twitter account, or they don’t Facetime.
When you make phone calls from home, you accidentally dial “9” to get an outside line.
You sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies.
You pull into your driveway and use your cell phone to call and see if anyone is home.
Every commercial on TV has a website at the bottom of the screen.
If you leave home without your cell phone, you have to go back to get it.
When you get up in the morning, you check your texts and emails before getting your first cup of coffee.
Since the Pandemic:
You spend the day in your pajamas or sweats because there’s no reason to get dressed.
Zoom meetings become the highlight of your day.
You have to look at your e-copy of the newspaper before you know what day it is.
You can’t wait to be able to go out of the house and not have to social distance.
Your kids whine that they can’t go to school. You do, too.
You hadn’t noticed before how many annoying habits your spouse has. (Or, for those who live alone, you never noticed before how many annoying habits you have!)
Finally, you’ve probably noticed that watching reruns all day no longer holds the attraction it used to.
East Valley Presbyterian Church has served the communities of Otis Orchards, Newman Lake, Liberty Lake, and Greenacres since 1986. Located on Harvard Road, just 2.5 miles north of Liberty Lake, this is a small church in which people see one another as family. The hallmarks of this congregation the warm, welcoming, and loving way in which all newcomers are treated; its traditional-style of worship; its deep exploration of scripture; and, its firm belief in the power of prayer.
We see ourselves as “The Little Church with the Big Heart where people help one another feel safe, loved, and spiritually whole.”
Our pastor is the Reverend Marcia Taylor, a native of Spokane Valley, who has served God with us since 2000.
The Spirit that was promised to the prophet Joel is active in our world today, granting visions and dreams to old and young alike. The power of God to create and renew life is the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we keep our eyes and ears open, we see this power at work within us and among us. So, let’s worship God!
Call to Worship
Call upon God’s holy name.
FOR IN CALLING, WE ARE SAVED.
Listen for the wind of the Spirit.
FOR IN LISTENING, WE FIND NEW LIFE.
Respond to the promises of Christ.
FOR IN RESPONDING, WE BRING HOPE TO OUR WORLD.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship his holy name. Remind us of the gifts of your Spirit that you have given to enable us to fill this world with your love. Inspire us to use the gifts as you have empowered us to do through Christ’s command.
And encourage us, O Lord, to be ever faithful to you as we reach out to others in your name. Send upon us now your Spirit, that we might be renewed and restored and filled anew with the fire of your love. Amen.
Hymn 10,000 Reasons
Call to Confession
Come, Holy Spirit! Rain upon our dry and dusty lives. Wash away our sin and heal our wounded spirits. Kindle within us the fire of your love to burn away our apathy. With your warmth bend our rigidity, and guide our wandering feet. Let us pray:
Prayer of Confession
ALMIGHTY GOD, YOU POURED YOUR SPIRIT UPON GATHERED DISCIPLES CREATING BOLD TONGUES, OPEN EARS, AND A NEW COMMUNITY OF FAITH.
WE CONFESS THAT WE HOLD BACK THE FORCE OF YOUR SPIRIT AMONG US. WE DO NOT LISTEN FOR YOUR WORD OF GRACE, SPEAK THE GOOD NEWS OF YOUR LOVE, OR LIVE AS PEOPLE MADE ONE IN CHRIST.
HAVE MERCY ON US, O GOD. TRANSFORM OUR TIMID LIVES BY THE POWER OF YOUR SPIRIT, AND FILL US WITH FLAMING DESIRE TO BE YOUR FAITHFUL PEOPLE, DOING YOUR WILL IN CHRIST’S NAME. AMEN.
Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone, a new life has begun. So know that we are forgiven and be at peace.
Passing the Peace of Christ
Just as Christ has made forgiveness available to us, let’s share that joy with others. May the peace of Christ be with you all.
AND ALSO WITH YOU.
Please greet one another with the peace of Christ.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Scripture Reading John 7:37-44
It was the last and most important day of the feast. Jesus stood up and spoke in a loud voice. He said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Does anyone believe in me? Then, just as Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from inside them.”
When he said this, he meant the Holy Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus would receive the Spirit later. Up to that time, the Spirit had not been given. This was because Jesus had not yet received glory.
The people heard his words. Some of them said, “This man must be the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee?
Doesn’t Scripture say that the Messiah will come from the family line of David? Doesn’t it say that he will come from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” So the people did not agree about who Jesus was.
Some wanted to arrest him. But no one laid a hand on him.
“It was a case of mistaken identity.” We hear that excuse often when someone has been arrested or convicted of a crime they had nothing to do with. We hear it when innocent bystanders get killed by gangs—or even by police. And we hear evidence of how that excuse can truly be reality in many biblical stories. With Jesus, it seemed to be the story of his life. Was he Joseph’s son, as some neighbors expressed when some others wondered at how wise he seemed to be? Or, was he illegitimate, as some may have whispered behind their hands? Was he a prophet, or was he The Prophet, or was he the Messiah, or was he just another person so full of himself that he travelled around doing tricks to make people think he was special? Was he observant of the rituals of faith, or was he one who blatantly ignored religious practices? Was he a glutton who cavorted with sinners? Or, was he someone who simply allowed each person to hold on to some sense of dignity and worth?
Throughout the Gospels we hear story after story in which Jesus is questioned, accused, blamed, misidentified, misunderstood. Some people flocked to him for healing. Others surrounded and hounded him looking for some advantage they thought they could gain from him. Some found him mysterious; some were attracted to his spirit; some feared him; others despised him. Religious leaders who should have been able to recognize the one sent by God accused him of being in league with Satan. Yet, people possessed by demons knew exactly who he was and knew that he had the power to destroy them forever.
Even today, if we sat down with a group of Christians, we’d be hard pressed to be able to come up with one expression of who Jesus is and how he brought about our salvation. Oh, sure, we could probably all agree on “Jesus is Lord,” and “he died and rose again to save us.” But, when we started trying to express at a much deeper level what those statements mean to each of us, we’d find a lot harder task. The evidence of that can be seen in the number of people who feel free to declare “Jesus is Lord,” but who have long lists of reasons why he has no say and no authority in certain aspects of their lives.
Thankfully, our having the right way of explaining Jesus and identifying how he is our savior in no way impacts the reality and TRUTH of who he is. In the same manner, whether or not people believe in God or not has absolutely no effect on God. God is God. We cannot change that. His identity, power, and authority are not impacted by human belief or disbelief.
So, when Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:14). In hearing Peter’s understanding, Jesus told him, “You are blessed because this has not been revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Even after Jesus’ resurrection and later ascension to heaven, Peter showed that he knew who Jesus was, but we still witness him learning what that means at ever deepening levels. In the Book of Acts, we read of his disagreements with Paul over whether or not followers of Jesus have to become Jewish first. We hear of his dream vision in which he sees a sheet descending from heaven filled with animals of every kind, clean and unclean, and hears a voice from heaven declare, “Nothing I have made is unclean.” And, we hear some of his speeches in which he summarizes, “All I know is this. He died, then he rose from the grave, and with my own eyes I saw him taken up into heaven.”
So, maybe such things in scripture should simply serve to remind us of something else Jesus said. We just need to believe in him; believe that he is the Son of God, our Savior.” That belief and the faith that comes with us is the key essential. Beyond that, we rely upon the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the other pieces that we need to give us the strength, courage, and hope of our faith that we need to get through our own lives. This is how God in Christ lives within us so that we are never alone. This is how we become better acquainted and build an ever-deepening relationship with our Creating and Saving God. With the Spirit, there’s no more mistaken identity. We know God better and better, and also learn to know ourselves as God has known us all along—as His children.
Dedication of Our Offerings
FOR OPENING YOUR HAND AND BLESSING US WITH YOUR MANIFOLD BLESSINGS, WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD. ON THIS DAY OF PENTECOST, MAY OUR GIFTS BRING DREAMS AND VISIONS TO A WORLD IN NEED OF HOPE AND DIRECTION. AND, MAY OUR HEARTS OVERFLOW WITH RIVERS OF LIVING WATERS. AMEN.
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Jesus said: “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” So, as our spirits gather before the Lord’s table, let us eat, drink, and be filled anew with the Spirit of God. Let us pray:
God of all might and power, we praise you that you forged your church in the fire of the Spirit, and breathed life into your people that we might be the body of Christ. We rejoice that our Lord came to rescue us from sin and to deliver us beyond the grave to a rebirth and newness of life.
By your Spirit, baptize us again with your flame of faith, fill us with the breath of zeal, inspire us with the witness of martyrs and saints, and send us forth into your world to live Christ’s life in power and compassion.
REMEMBERING YOUR GRACIOUS ACTS IN JESUS CHRIST, WE TAKE FROM YOUR CREATION THIS BREAD AND THIS FRUIT OF THE VINE AND JOYFULLY CELEBRATE HIS DYING AND RISING, AS WE AWAIT THE DAY OF HIS COMING.
WITH THANKSGIVING WE OFFER OUR VERY SELVES TO YOU TO BE A LIVING AND HOLY SACRIFICE DEDICATED TO YOUR SERVICE.
GRACIOUS GOD, POUR OUT YOUR HOLY SPIRIT UPON US AND UPON THESE YOUR GIFTS OF BREAD AND THE VINE, THAT THE BREAD WE BREAK AND THE CUP WE BLESS MAY BE THE COMMUNION OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. AMEN.
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;
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL, FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER. AMEN.
Words of Institution
On the night of his arrest, our Lord Jesus took the bread. After giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat, this is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same manner, after dinner he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant poured out for you in my blood for the forgiveness of sins. Drink of it, all of you, in remembrance of me.”
The apostle Paul reminds us that each time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim again the saving death of our Lord Jesus Christ until he comes again in all of his glory. These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
Partaking of the Elements
Please feel free to have a bite of bread and a sip of grape juice as we remember Christ’s gift to us. If you have someone with you, I invite you to share the elements with each other, saying, “The body of Christ, broken for you,” and “The blood of Christ, cup of salvation.”
Gracious God, may we who have received this sacrament live in the unity of your Holy Spirit, that we may show forth your gifts to all the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Sending and Benediction