Last Wednesday at Vespers I posed the question as to where our home is? It is in this thought process that I also ask; to whom do we belong? Myself, the World or God? Of the three I would say that in the course of everyday life I belong more to the world or myself than to God. I say this because the ebb and flow of people in my life often translates into my anxiousness,anger and depression. A little pat on the back, or praise lifts me up quickly or an accomplishment/success gets me excited. In truth it takes little to lift us up or thrust us downward. Almost like a small boat on the water at the mercy of the waves. The amount of energy spent on keeping some kind of balance, pleasing or appeasing others, and preventing ourselves from being tipped over shows that much of our life is simply a struggle to survive and remain upright. It is not a Holy struggle but a struggle, a mistaken struggle I would say, that it is the world that defines us.
As long as we belong to this world, to ourselves we will remain captive. But when we live belonging to God, who loves us unconditionally, we can actually live as He calls us to. In our Baptism, Jesus calls us to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God. Makes me wonder, do we truly believe we are God's family and He is our Father or do we belong to the world?
Almighty God, I know that I belong to you and life would be so much better if I could live in that knowledge completely. Please forgive me Lord for my weakness and my sins. Help me grow. Father, protect all those working tonight keeping the roads clear, may they return to their families and homes safely. Father, I pray this and all things in and through Your Son Jesus' name, Amen.
Romans 8:14-18, 31-32
14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
Anyone reading the Epistles, the letters,would notice Paul preached Jesus. No matter the situation,location or danger Paul preached the good news of Jesus. Even when he faced Hebrew religious leaders who vigorously opposed him or Roman officials who would imprison and ultimately execute him, he spoke and taught Jesus is the way. No matter how powerful the force against him, Paul, refused to let fear govern his life or determine what he would do. This was more than just stubbornness or resolve. It was a conviction he felt within and his letter to Christians in Rome he states this conviction clearly: “If God is for us, who is against us?”
As we journey together in 2020 may we be convicted to preach, to live not in fear but in triumph. May we be God's hands and feet, his compassion and love to this world. Even to those who may oppose us. Hope to see you this morning as we study John 1:1-14
Almighty God as I journey with you may I do so without trepidation of voicing my faith in you. I thank you Lord for the gift of community I enjoy here at EOCC. I thank you for my family and friends that surround me with positive energy and forgiveness. Lord, I pray for Elaine and all who find themselves on our prayer list. I pray for the hungry and homeless, the tired and hungry. Father, I ask you to forgive me of my sins as I seek a closer relationship with you. I ask this and pray all things in the name of Jesus. Amen
LUKE 6:38 (NIV) A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
As I look back on 2019 and think about the past year I realize that the best gift I have to give others is my relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that defines my joy and my sorrows, my peace and upheaval, my understanding that we have been given new life as well as the love that only comes from God. I say this because as I think about those who have lifted me up this past year, those that have blessed my life are the ones who were willing to share their life with me. They shared their relationship with Jesus, their struggles and achievements, questions and frustrations. I believe as we share with each other our own journey we give of ourselves and that is the best gift going. Thank you.
As we say good bye to 2019 may we welcome 2020 committed to a deeper relationship with God and the desire to grow together in Christ. Merry Christmas and a safe and a safe and happy new year. Hope to see you later this morning.
Almighty God , my Lord and Savior Jesus, as the old year passes and a new year will soon take place I once again come before you seeking a better relationship. Father, I know the snows will come and go, flowers will again bloom and fade away. We will have hot days and cold days, raining and dry and they will be according to your order and time. Lord, help me accept that I do not have control over life but only how I live my life. May it be one glorifying your name above all others; may I give you all honor and glory; may my tongue be tamed and my temper be dormant. As I travel with my daughter through cancer this upcoming year may our faith be prevalent at all times. I ask you Lord, to bring about a positive outcome and bless her with your healing. Lord I pray for my families of faith and blood. May we all prosper in faith this coming year. Lord forgive me of my sins as I seek You in prayer through your Son Jesus. Amen
Deuteronomy 30:19–20a 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
God makes it very clear that we need to choose life. As I grow I am becoming more aware that every moment I breath I must make the choice between life and death, Joy and sadness; my Savior or the world. One choice brings about a death, a heart which something is dying. Whereas choosing life is living in joy where the heart is open to something new being born.
As I grow deeper into my faith relationship the understanding that this life is about making choices to be with God or away from God becomes more evident. There will be mood swings, there will be moments that I can not control but within each moment we have the choice to choose life or death. The more I have let emotions be; the more I am able to bring a joy into each situation. Reality is that God has allowed both life and death, blessing and curses and we must choose what we will focus on.
As we prepare ourselves once again to meet the Christ child may we recommit ourselves to be focused on His teachings and love that brings life. I look forward to seeing you later this morning.
Almighty God, may all honor and glory be yours this day. Father, I pray for Your church here today. I pray for the people, both far and near. Lord bless us and help us on our journey. May we listen to Your voice in this noisy world. Lord, I pray that in the year that lies ahead we will see growth spiritually. Lead us oh King. Father, I seek forgiveness of my sins, I seek restoration and peace both for myself, this church, this nation and the world around me. I pray this in your Son's Holiest of names, Amen.
Luke 1:39-55 39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 49 because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.
51He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever".
In the time of Jesus women were second-or third class citizens. In this story we find Mary pregnant, without a husband needing her cousins support and joyfulness as she journeyed what would have taken 8-10 days. As Mary sang the song above how God lifts up the lowly, she was a living example of that. She exalted in God's reversal of human values. "he has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly." Verse 52. Even before the birth God was turning things around to see His love and how He valued her, no matter what her social status was.
From the moment Jesus was conceived He changed the lives of those who chose to call Him Lord. Elizabeth was the first and then throughout the gospels it said women were the first witnesses proclaiming Jesus's resurrection. As I read the passage above it brought questions to my mind: How does me calling Jesus "Lord" mean giving up the right to live my life any way I please? In what ways has Jesus' lordship changed my life, brining with it joy, hope ,peace and a deeper knowledge of love.
I believe Mary knew that the King she bore would change realities that had always seemed to rule the day. As we prepare for the coming of our King how willing are you to join in Mary's and those who call Him Lord joy and commitment to God's purpose to lift up the lowly; to fill the hungry with good things? Let this Advent season be a time of change and let us be a people of compassion.
Lord God, A simple girl is used to change the world through Your Son. She reminds me Father, that I have, as all do, a purpose and You will lift us up. Lord, I pray for my family at this time. I give you thanks for the blessings I have all around me and I ask that I continue to see these blessings during every moment of my life. Father, I have chosen to call you Lord of my Lord. Lift me up and carry me through. Forgive me my sins this day I pray. Lord, I pray and ask all things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70 just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
73 the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live.
76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.”
80 The child grew up, becoming strong in character. He was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
Take a moment and read the passage again before you proceed: I find it fascinating, amazing that when John the Baptist was born that his father's song of praise, of rejoicing did not first acclaim his own son, but the one who would follow. Who John would prepare the way for. Having become a grandfather again this passage reminded me in my life today that my role for my grandson is to prepare his way to our Lord. To teach him the good news, to lead him by the way I live my life, the words I speak, the expressions upon my face, my actions during trials.
Like John, each of us are given the responsibility to prepare the way for God to enter our children's and grandchildren's lives. Heck, we are called to prepare the way for neighbors, friends and enemies to come and reconnect with God; for God to enter this world as he did years before. In the passage above can you read where our responsibilities lie as they did for John? How can we teach that it was in this moment of history that God's promise of a deliverer to make a broken world new...happened. It is in this advent story and others that can nourish and sustain our trust in God's big promises today.
I cringe when I listen to so many people proclaim we live in a broken world, a dark world, an ugly world. Like John, we have a choice to emphasize this thought or lead people to view the world differently. One of hope and promises to come. One of majestic beauty and love that goes beyond sight. As we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in this Christmas season think about what you are proclaiming fro the world to see. Embrace Jesus' love where you are at today. I hope ot see you later this morning, pastor Carl
Prayer: Almighty Lord God, sometimes I’m like the man who prayed, “God, give me patience—and do it right now!” Help Zechariah’s song to remind me that, in the end, you always keep your promises, and that those moments are worth waiting for and worth proclaiming. Father, give me the strength to endure the race; to teach repentance; to teach love, mercy and hope. Lord, forgive me my sins. Lord I pray for the church here in Orrington, I pray for my families, friends, neighbors and enemies that they too may come ot know your love. Father, help me as I prepare my heart for the birth, new birth of Your Son in my life. Lord, I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
46 Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49 because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
This morning we gather and begin the Advent season of preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus. Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. Today's church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the Church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.
Advent is a season of Hope, praying without ceasing, a time of silence in a noisy world. Advent is a reminder that God is calling us like He called Mary. Mary was the bearer of Hope, peace, joy and a love deeper than we can understand. We too are now called out in the craziness of life to stand tall and with all our heart, Glorify the Lord!
May this Advent season bring a change to your life, a new commitment and powerful reminder of what God calls Holy. I am in great hopes that we will see other later this morning.
Prayer: My God, Lord Jesus, teach me how to keep my mind and heart open to your more challenging blessings. Give me the wisdom to share what I have, not to hoard it just for myself. I ask for this wisdom through your Son Jesus, Amen.
Acts 2:41-47 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.
The passage above is such a great reminder to who we are to be in the Lord. This early group of followers, fairly small and unknown, living in a city that had crucified the very one they followed, Jesus the Lord. Yet they chose to live their faith that would change the world today. The apostle's teachings, prayer, fellowship and radical unity of spirit generously bound them together. They found such joy of gathering and learning from each other in the moment that they invited others, who invited others and so on until someone invited you. And now we are here, in this house of worship, and it’s our turn to keep the truth going.
We each have a role in God's story here at EOCC. The power of the Holy Spirit moved the first Christians to share their possessions, setting aside their own gain or desire to bless others. Their spirit made their lives joyous in the situation and location they were. How does your readiness to find joy in sharing where you are at reflect God’s impact on your life. How do you respond to being part of a congregation that specifically and intentionally exist to reach beyond our walls, to reach and uplift our neighbors and communities?
This weekend I experienced the joy of this congregation gathering where it is at and serving in great joy. I appreciated the underlying message that, while we may not be everything to everybody, we are unified in serving others. We are unified in serving God here and now, for loving each other at our own costs. For me that is what Thanksgiving is all about. We gather to share what we have, where we are at and the blessings God has given this community of believers here.
I have said this before, but I think it is worth repeating; we live in a world that wants," I need this or that in my life." And I hear many say n response to the world's lie, God is calling me. But the early church was never set up that way. In fact, it was a gathering to give unto others, to serve and share the hope , the gospel the this and that of life, even in the uncomfortableness of gathering where our Lord was crucified. The apostles did not look to what they did not have, but in what they did have where they were at. Then they invited others. May we live our lives inviting others into this congregation and God's kingdom here at EOCC. Happy Thanksgiving, pastor Carl
Lord God almighty, I give thanks to you for the divine purpose and timing that together weave opportunity throughout my life. I thank you for the trials of life even though I may not understand. I do believe oh Lord there is an answer to every prayer and with this awareness I accept and give thanks for the abundant good that is mine to claim and share with others. Lord, I pray for others to see your church as a place to gather and hear your Word, to pray, to serve others, and to give hope. May we see our role as the early church saw theirs. May we turn from the impact of the world today that says it about what I need and remember the teachings of Your Son, Jesus. It is through Him we pray, Amen
Philippians 4:4-7 4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
As Thanksgiving week draws near and the end of our Church year approaches, I think it is appropriate to be reminded of what Paul said while in a Roman jail cell, "Be glad in the Lord always, again I say be glad... bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks," Paul in writing this when he did is reminding us with Christ our joy is not based upon happiness at that moment but a confident heart rooted in hope. A hope that remains with us because Jesus left us with the comforter, the Holy Spirit.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, deal with the chaos in the world and at times the disruptions of our church let us, God's people here at EOCC try Paul's approach to life; “be glad in the Lord,” and “bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.” Let us not give up in frustration or hurt feelings but instead let the Holy Spirit shape our thoughts and feelings as well as your interactions with others. As you do this see if you don't find greater peace in everyday life and the start of our new year.
Almighty and Holy God. Thank you for the Word we find in our hearts reminding us the teachings of Your Son, Jesus. Father, help me see more clearly the good of what is going on around me. I admit that in the chaos and clutter of doing I sometimes lose focus on the blessing I have have. Lord, I pray for the Boards of this church; I pray for the leadership and all the volunteers that try to make this world a little better. Lord, as I prepare to enter the Advent season proclaiming the good news may I not forget to sit in the peace you brought. Father, may I through the Holy Spirit glorify Your name in how I love and treat all people. Father, I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen
1 Timothy 6:17-19 17 Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. 19 When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.
This past weekend and many other times throughout the year I hear when people give extravagantly they feel filled with something they cannot get in other ways. In the passage above, along with the rest of chapter 6, the apostle Paul saw people lose their ways from the faith when money, or selfishness of their time was their life’s highest goal (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9-10). He urged Timothy to “run away” from a life that based its primary hope on finances and self. Instead, he called Timothy and the members of his congregation to a different view of what we today call “retirement planning.” He said to actively “do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others at the expense of themselves” was the best way to lay a good foundation for the future. Those choices would enable them to take hold of “what is truly life.”
Today so much around us tries to convince us that self and money is the most important part of a satisfying life, retirement. Advertising and most political manifestos are designed by subtle and very direct ways to make us think; If only I had...I would be filled with contentment. Paul is telling us, and experience shows me people are most content, filled when they are giving of themselves extravagantly. Sacrificing their time and financial resources to be rich in the future. Recently a friend was rewarded publicly for doing just this and he would admit, his retirement is fuller because of giving.
I hope to see you this morning as we recognize and celebrate within our family those who gave in a different way; our Veterans. Thank you.
Almighty God, Lord Jesus, thank you for being my ultimate mentor, guide, and accountability partner. Teach me to value what you value, to take hold of what is truly life. Lord, I thank you for the love I was surrounded with these past few day sof hard work.I pray for each who gave so generously to bring this community together, if only for a moment. Lord I ask for Your continued blessing to be upon Your children here. Protect us Lord as we obey the Word we know. Lord, I pray this in the name of Your Son Jesus, Amen
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006