“Walking by Faith!”

“Walking by Faith!”

Joshua 3:7-17 / Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37

 

When I was a high school student, I went on a Summer vacation with my friends. We went to a Mountain called Odaesan which was one of the most beautiful mountains in Korea. There were many valleys in the mountain and one of them seemed perfect to ride an inflatable boat I had. So, one of my friends and I went up along the valley and we stopped at some point because there was a water fall in front of us. We thought that was a good starting point for the ride. It was very close to the fall. I sat in the front of the boat and my friend was supposed to push the boat forward and to jump in it to seat in the back of the boat. But he made a mistake. Instead of pushing forward, he pushed down and jumped in the boat and the boat was capsized. That was the moment that I thought I might die. I was stuck under the fall and at the bottom of the water. The power of the fall was so strong that I couldn’t move at all. On the bottom of the river, I lost my mind and went completely insane. I frantically tried to move my body but it didn’t work. I don’t know how long I was there. Finally, I felt I had no energy to do anything and completely relaxed and prayed, “God, help me!!”

 

Right after that, I felt my body shooting out of the water. I was alive. Out of the water, I saw my friend was happy to see me. He thought he lost me. That day, I learned lessons from the accident. First, do not put your boat in too close to a water fall. Second, don’t push the inflatable boat down and jump in it. It would be capsized. More than those lessons, I have never forgotten the feeling I had from the accident. It gave me a strong message about my relationship with God. When I tried to save myself, it didn’t work but when I left myself to God, I could experience the grace of God saving me from trouble.

 

This experience is one of my Christian formative experiences in my life and this experience tells me how weak we sometimes are before challenges. Have you had any experience like that, the experience that you are not able to cope. How have God worked for you?

 

In today’s Scripture, we can see the people of God who face the challenge they cannot cope and how God works for them in the challenge. Let us take a look at the text. We finally see a pivotal moment in life of the Israelites. Their journey in the wilderness is almost over. They are standing on the eastern shore of the Jordan River looking across to the Promised Land where milk and honey are flowing. The goal of so many years in the wilderness is in sight. God, who called Israel out of Egypt, has been faithful. Even though their faith in God has been up and down in the wilderness, they now face the last step to get to the Promised Land.

 

Can you imagine how they were emotionally touched? They had been through tough challenges in the Wilderness. They had lost parents and family members. These people are not the same people who escaped from Egypt. The men and women who began the journey from slavery into freedom had been buried in the wilderness. The ones who stand on the bank of the Jordan are their sons and daughters, granddaughters and grandsons. Confronting the Jordan River, they might say, “Thank God, finally, we are here!”

 

However, their challenges aren’t over yet. At this last moment of their journey, they face a challenge which threatens their lives. As their parents and grandparents faced the Red Sea, they are being confronted by the Jordan River. According to the Scripture, the river is flowing strongly from the rains of the harvest season (v. 15). They cannot wade very far into the water for fear of being swept away and drowned. It is very dangerous. “God led us into the wilderness and now the Jordan River. We all will be dead soon.” They might say like that. After being happy, they are now discouraged.

 

Now that we know the Israelites face the Jordan River, I would like to invite you to think of what happened at the beginning of the wilderness wanderings. Moses and the Israelites were blocked by the Red Sea. Deep water was before them and Pharaoh’s armies were behind them. All seemed lost. There was nothing they could do to get themselves out of the situation.

However, at that moment, God intervened. That was the moment the Israelites witnessed God’s presence and power, protecting and sustaining them. The waters were parted on the left and on the right. The people crossed on dry ground and escaped Pharaoh’s wrath. God saved the people as they began their Exodus journey.

Forty years later, the people, once again, find their way impeded by water. This time it is not the quiet waters of the Red Sea. It is the raging current of the Jordan River. If the people are going to cross, they, once again, will need to see the hand of God.

The good news in this story is that God, once again, intervenes. Joshua, the new leader of the people, is told to command the priests to pick up the Ark of the Covenant which contains the ten Commandment tablets and to wade into the raging waters. The priests obey with the faith in God. As long as the priests stand in the river bed, the waters stop flowing. When all of the people are across and the priests ascend the west bank into the Promised Land, the waters resume their course. Yes! God intervenes in their trouble.

This story leads us into another key message in today’s sermon. Not only does God intervene and act for God’s people, but the people also walk by faith. Based on this story, we can draw a picture of the scene in which there are raging water and the people walking by faith. Of course, they might tremble. But they are walking in faith that God will be with them. God intervenes in the life of God’s people and strengthen them to be able to walk through the challenges.

 

Let me wrap up today’s sermon with the following text, Psalm 107:1-6 which expreses my feeling when I escaped the water fall. “Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good; for God’s steadfast love endures forever… Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town… Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and the Lord delivered them from their distress.”

We as well as our family, friends, and neighbors have challenges like the Red Sea and Jordan River. We have loneliness, bad habits, uncertainty about the future, addictions, financial strains, and physical pains. You name it. We feel so small before the vastness of the Red Sea and the turbulence of the Jordan River. But here is the good news. God intervenes and makes us able to walk through. The Holy Spirit working within us speaks to us, “Trust me, lean on me. Everything will be alright!” With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can humbly and faithfully walk with God. Our God is greater than the vastness of the Red Sea and the turbulence of the Jordan River.

Let us together be witnesses to the good news from God in our lives. Let us together be messengers sharing it with our neighbors. Let us together walk by faith.

 

Let us pray.

Loving God who intervenes in the midst of our lives and leads us with the power of the Holy Spirit, thank you for your message this morning. Help us believe that you are always with us. Bless us to faithfully walk by faith. And bless us to witness your power and presence in our lives and our neighbors’. In your name, we pray. Amen.

“What Image is in Your Heart!”

“What Image is in Your Heart!”

Matthew 22:15-22 // Matthew 22:34-40

 

Sometimes things happen. The things that push us back to our deepest questions and force us to answer. A marriage breakdown, loss of a job, financial strains, or physical pains, any of these can push us back to asking what it’s all about, what do those things mean in the course of our faith journey?
Two weeks ago, I shared with you the highest point in my life. My current life on the island with my family and Chilmark Church is a high point and I am so happy. After telling this to you, things bad happened which pushed me to my deepest questions and forced me to answer. Thursday before last, my wife had a car accident and the car was totaled. When she had this accident, I was in Rhode Island for a meeting with the Bishop. My wife was very upset and Sieun cried and cried. I couldn’t help them which made me so devastated. There were so much paper work to  deal with. It was hard. And two days after the accident, we went to Westport to meet friends as scheduled and we went to a mall to buy some stuff. At the mall, my wife’s handbag was stolen. She lost everything, a smart phone, credit cards, cash and more. My wife and I were sad. And there was an old car available for my family in Boston. We went to Boston to pick up the car this Wednesday. The car didn’t work and I did everything to fix it for two days but nothing worked. It was raining hard and I was like a wet dog frantically running around. In a week, these things happened. I was very busy taking care of everything and felt burdened with a huge financial loss and physical and emotional stress. I was not happy.

 

All of a sudden, this question came to me, “Are you still happy and sure that now is your highest point in your life?” I took this question as a test. It doesn’t necessarily mean that God always tests people with challenges. I, as a pastor, took that as a test based on my faith in God. While preparing this sermon, I have had a moment to answer the question. As this sermon goes by, I hope you can figure my answer out.

 

When we look at our lives, we can say that there have been many tests. Some of them are on going. Likewise, Jesus got through tough tests in his life. Some of the tests came from the religious leaders. One of them tested Jesus with this question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” The Jews had over 600 hundred laws for their religious practices. And they might expect Jesus would pick one of them. But Jesus didn’t pick one in the laws they were following. Instead, Jesus gave them two, which are equally important in the way of life. “Love your God and Love your neighbors.”

 

Before this, Jesus had other test from the Pharisees. In Matthew 22, some Pharisees lay out a trap by asking Jesus whether it is right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar. The Pharisees knew this was a very tough question. If Jesus says no, he risks committing a political crime instigating people not to pay taxes. If he says yes, he could get into trouble with the religious leaders because they believed that the Roman Empire was such a great enemy and God would conquer the Empire sooner or later. Also, for the first century Jews, paying taxes to the Roman Empire was a way to support their own oppression. That is, paying taxes to the Roman was an act of shame.

Either way, the Pharisees knew, the power of Jesus will be deflated once Jesus says no to the Roman or yes to the Jews.

Jesus knew their evil intent and said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying tax.’

They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.

Then Jesus said, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’

The Pharisees were amazed by this answer and left him and went away. The trap they set up didn’t work.

 

In this conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees, I found my answer to my question. “Give back to God what is God’s.”
As I told you about my wife’s car accident when I was in Rhode Island, I was devastated. But I got great help from Tim, Pam, Arlene, Ann and neighbors. I was relieved by their help. Without their help, we would be in a huge trouble. My wife and I felt deep care and support which made us feel secure. And here comes the point.

 

Methodists and other Christian groups traditionally believe that human beings cannot do good without God, due to the human’s nature inclined to do evil. But the Holy Spirit guides and leads us to stand against evil things and to do good things. It has been controversial but this has been accepted as one of the core theological doctrines.

 

Based on this perspective, the deep care, concern and support my family and I got definitely came from God, the Spirit working within those people. That is, it was God’s care, concern, and support that took care of my family. What I got was God’s love.

 

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Give back to God what is God’s.” What is that? I believe it is love. Even though my family has been in trouble, I have been full of God’s love and therefore full of passion to give it back to God. Moreover, no one got hurt which made me more thankful.

 

Jesus asked this question to the Pharisees in Matthew 22, “Whose image is on the coin?” This question leads me into this question, “Whose image is in our hearts? From Jesus’ teaching and life, we can surely say that it is the image of God and the image of love. When this image is in our hearts, the two commandments will be “loving God and loving neighbors.”

I pray we all humbly walk with the Holy Spirit who is continually restoring the image of God in our hearts.

 

Let us pray

Loving God, thank you for gathering us here to worship and praise you. And we thank you for the abundant gift in our live, love. We thank you for the steadfast signs of your loving presence in our lives and world. And now we ask you to bless us to fill your love in our hearts and share it with one another. In your holiest name, we pray. Amen.

 

October 19,2014 Order of Worship

Chilmark Community Church
October 19,2014
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost/Laity Sunday
Laity Sunday is an invitation for the whole church to remember that all the baptized, lay and clergy together, are the people of God. Our English word “laity” comes from the Greek word “laos” meaning, “people.” That same word lies at the root of another “worship word”liturgy“— , which means “work of the people” (plus the Greek work, —work). Worship every Sunday is to be “the work of the people”—a people of many gifts and differing roles.
Gathering Music
Welcome and invitation to be quiet.
Prelude  :     Chorale “Be Content” J.S. Bach

Announcements

Hymn 2027 “As A Deer Thirst for the Water”

Call to Worship
Psalm  96 page 815

Hymn p.558  “We Are the Church”

Prayer    (unison)
You know each of us by name, O God, and in your sight we have found favor, yet our minds cannot comprehend the vision of your glory or the vastness of your love. Grant that as we glimpse your greatness, reflected in your many gifts, we may always return to you the praise that is yours alone. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Passing the Peace  ( Without leaving your pew, please greet your neighbor with the Peace of Christ.

Musical Interlude   : Aria “When Thou Art Near”

Lessons for this date:  Exodus 33:12-23; Thessalonians 1:1-10

Discussion  :

Hymn 103 Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Concerns and Celebrations
God of mercy and healing, you who hear the cries of those in need, receive these petitions of your people that all who are troubled may know peace, comfort, and courage.
silent prayer
Life-giving God, heal our lives, that we may acknowledge your wonderful deeds and offer you thanks from generation to generation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer

Offering
*Hymn 95 “Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow”

Prayer of Dedication (unison)
Mysterious God, Thank you for drawing close to you. Help us, through these gifts to bring You to others.
God of all who wander in the wilderness,  you go before us as beacon and guide. Lead us through all danger, sustain us through all desolation, and bring us home to the land you have prepared for us. Amen.

*Closing Hymn # 671 “Lord Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing”
Benediction:   Rev. Arlene Bodge

Postlude : Praise for Peace Frederich F. Flemming

PLEASE COME INTO FELLOWSHIP HALL FOR COFFEE
Organist:  Carol Loud
Worship leader: Emily Broderick
Discussion leader:  Pam Goff

Steeple and Cross Repair Completed

1-DSCF0002Steeple repaired, scraped and painted.  No leaks!  Cross gilded and reattached to top of spire with new bracket.  Below are photographs of the cross being replaced.

image-13image-17image-291-DSCF0002image-15New base of cross.

Steeple repaired, scraped and painted.  New wood on bell chamber and roof at base sealed.  Cross repaired and new bracket constructed to replace it on top of steeple.  Lightning rod attached.

 

“Spirit Song a Triumph”

DSCF0008Lia Kahler entertained a full house with her fabulous voice on Sunday, September 14.Also performing were her friends Phil Dietterich, organ, and Richard Gordon, piano. P1010010

Phil played his original arrangements of two spirituals, Ride On King Jesus and There is a Balm in Gilead.

DSCF0006Richard played a stirring piano concerto, Allegro de concierto por piano by Enrique Granados,  that made the church instrument sing and shout.      But simultaneously to the concert was a silent auction which raised over $2,500.
DSCF0001 DSCF0004And prior to the concert Lia had fund raised for the steeple fund.
Lia’s good friends manned the auction:

DSCF0003…and the “Door”.

DSCF0005Not shown: Lia’s sister, Ann Nelson who was the usual backbone to the day’s proceedings.    Fabulous refreshments were provided by church members with their grateful hearts for this beautiful occasion that raised enough funds to repair and paint the steeple and replace the 80 year old cross that was damaged in Hurricane “Sandy”.

Steeple and Cross Repairs begin

September 8 at 7:30 Francis Allard and John Leecock arrived to begin work on steeple restoration.  Remember Lia Kahler’s concert “Spirit Song”  on Sunday at 3  to raise funds for this project.

The riggers access the roof.

DSCF0001DSCF0003Frank shows John the cross.  They will take it home with them for repairs.

DSCF0002Francis Allard measures for new bracket for cross.

DSCF0008John Kevin Leecock continues scraping after initial power wash.

A prayer from August 24

God our holy Parent, the magnitude and mystery of the universe is a simple thing to you; help us to come to you with both awe and trust.  Christ Jesus our holy Brother, the wonder of the Gospel of love is a free gift from you; help us to come to you with open hearts.  Spirit-Truth, our holy Friend, the power that sustains all things is contained in your intimacy; help us to come to you with high expectations.  Please bless us, most loving God, for in your blessing is our health and our happiness.  AMEN

THE NET: Youth group beings in Sept.

Stay posted for further information.

Island churches are forming an ecumenical youth group. Its proposed name is The Net. Please read the guiding principles and goals below and then sign off on this memorandum if you wish to participate. Each participating church is expected to provide financial support and assist a paid youth group leader.

 

Guiding Principles:

  1. The goal is to provide a safe place where students can grow and share their faith.
  2. The Net will serve students in grades 7-12, beginning September, 2014.
  3. Character education and faith development will be stressed. Though we may not study scripture, this will be a faith-based program (for example, we expect to end each meeting with The Lord’s Prayer).
  4. At least one clergy person from a participating church will be present at every meeting. Participating churches will also be asked to provide adult lay leaders on occasion (for regular meetings and special events or trips), who will also be asked to contribute to the life of the group (e.g., get to know the students and take and active role in the group).
  5. There will be no “discipling” and no proselytizing.
  6. Safe Church policies will be followed. Leaders and volunteers will be CORIed.

 

Proposed Format:

The Net will meet on Sundays from 4:00 to 5:30 pm from September 14 – May 17. If school is not scheduled for Monday, the Youth Group will not meet, therefore meeting dates are:

September 14, 21 and 28 (3) February 1, 8 and 22 (3)

October 5, 19 and 26 (3) March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 (5)

November 2, 9, 16 and 23 (4) April 12 and 26 (2)

December 7 and 14 (2) May 3, 10 and 17 (3)

January 4, 11 and 25 (3)

There will be 28 meetings, plus a winter ski trip, and a mission trip in the spring.

We will hold meetings at Island churches on a rotating basis. One church will host in September, October and November. A second church will host in December, January and February. A third church will host in March, April and May.

We will hire and pay one leader, who will be supported by clergy and lay people from the participating churches. Details about staffing and accounting for paid position are available upon request.