Prelude Welcome Call to Worship Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:19
*Hymn of Praise # 198 Spirit of God
Invocation (the Lord’s Prayer) O God, in Jesus Christ we pray that we may each feel
the touch of your hands on our heads, the peace of your presence in our hearts, and the growing
hope that comes from experiencing your life among us.
Responsive Psalm 47 Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, Sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. The shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted.
Our Offering to God Our gifts are part of our faithfulness.
Your offering will now be received. Doxology
Prayer of Dedication O God, just as you bring your love to the world, so we bring our gifts to add to that love. Receive them now, we pray.
*Hymn of Prayer Open Our Eyes
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him, and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen,
open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.
Pastoral Prayer Great and gracious God, we thank you for seeking us out, for pursuing us with care and purpose, for celebrating at our reunion, and for loving us fiercely.
O Source of all nurture and care, we ask your blessing on mothers today. We pray for the gift of our mothers, and for all those who mothered us along our journey. We pray for those for whom this is a difficult day: those who miss their mothers; those who are estranged from their mothers; those who long to be parents; and those who gave up that hope long ago. We pray you would grant patience, peace and strength to all of us, regardless of family circumstance.
Gentle and nurturing God, we pray for those we know who are hurting: those people who struggle with illness; those who know the pain of death; those who feel trapped under the weight of addiction or depression; those who struggle just to find the place where they belong. Embrace them with your healing. Help them find their way to you and your marvelous light; or, if darkness is all that they can see right now, we ask you simply to make your gentle presence known to them. Comfort those people who know only lost-ness.
And we pray, gracious God, for those we do not know, who suffer hunger, war and injustice half a world away. At times, O God, the suffering of the world seems overwhelming. And yet, we are not a “lost cause” — you provide us with hope and a vision for a better world.
Help us to embrace that vision in our lives. Help us to lose ourselves in your love. Help us to find refuge in your steadfast peace. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is our peace. Amen.
*Hymn of Praise # 151 Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Scripture Reading John 19:17-27
Message On Your Mark… Get Set…
Last week we reminded ourselves of the mark of Jesus Christ by wearing a cross, and recognizing that we physically prepare by getting on our mark. As we get set we prepare ourselves emotionally, spiritually, and mentally for that which is to come.
Today we come again to Calvary. We see Jesus on the cross. And as we come near to Him, we see two groups of four standing before the cross.
On one side we see four soldiers. They are the ones who had escorted Jesus to this place of crucifixion. One of the perks or benefits of this duty was that they got the clothes of the victim. Like every Jew of his day, Jesus wore five articles of clothing - shoes, a turban, a girdle, a tunic, and an outer robe. Roman soldiers in charge of crucifixions customarily took for themselves the clothes of the condemned men. They divided Jesus’ clothing, each getting one article then throwing dice to determine who would get his seamless garment, the most valuable piece of clothing. This fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 22:18. // How sad, here before them hung the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the one who was offering them the riches of His kingdom. And they could see no further than a few articles of clothing to take home or sell. Their greed for that which was so unimportant, their indifference to the suffering of the one who hung before them. How sad?
Over to the other side stood four women. In contrast, to the soldiers, their eyes were not on the things of the world, they were not there to see what they could get. They were there because they loved their Lord and could not desert Him as so many others had done. It was dangerous, not a safe thing to do: For Jesus had been labeled a criminal, a rebel, a heretic. To identify with Him also made you like Him. They too could have been arrested and crucified. There was a risk to come forward to be near Him in His time of agony, but they could not stay away for they loved Him, and trusted Him, even when all seemed hopeless.
His mother, Mary, who had given birth to Him and who had nurtured Him. Does anyone suffer more than a mother when a child suffers or is lost?
His mother’s sister, and Mary, the wife of Clopas, of whom we know nothing else but that they were there.
Mary Magdelene All we know about her is that Jesus had cast out seven demons from her. She could never forget what Jesus had done for her, how His love had saved her.
There they stood near the cross. Jesus saw them, -- He saw His mother and near them, He saw the disciple whom He loved. All the other disciples had run away out of fear. But this disciple did not. He had a special relationship with Jesus. The love was mutual. The disciple, most scholars agree, was John. That is why John could write about this private moment by the cross.
Even while dying on the cross, Jesus was concerned about his family. He instructed John to care for Mary, Jesus’ mother. Our families are precious gifts from God, and we should value and care for them under all circumstances. Neither Christian work nor key responsibilities in any job or position excuse us from caring for our families. What can you do today to show your love to your family?
// Jesus, seeing these two who He loved so much, said to them "Dear woman, here is your son" and to John , "Here is your mother." These words are very personal and they may even seem unusual. But they teach us some very important things about Jesus and about ourselves
Here was Jesus. The brutality of the cross was unbearable. The pain of the stripes where He had been whipped, The thorns of His crown piercing into His head, The nails which had been driven into His hands and ankles. The death He would soon go through. Not to mention the weight of the sins of the world. And the sense of being forsaken by His Father.
You and I have never and will never experience the suffering that our Lord went through. But we have suffered to varying degrees. There is something I notice when we suffer. When we feel pain, it is hard to look beyond the pain. And it is hard to care for others when our own world is falling apart. When all is well, we try to be there for others, to reach out in love, but when our needs and suffering is great, others can become a bother. And we often respond with "Leave me alone, I’ve got my own problems, can’t you see."
But Jesus, although His pain and needs are so overwhelming, still looks beyond Himself and sees the pain and the needs of others. He sees a mother who is about to loose her oldest son. He wants to make sure that she is taken care of and looked after. Jesus entrusted her to John.
He teaches us how to give.
Here was the Son of God, the son of Mary doing the will of His divine Father and yet caring for His earthly mother. Although it seems odd that He called her woman rather than mother, the term is not a cold, detached word, but rather a warm term of respect. In a sense Jesus was obedient to the two great commandments.
Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
He was showing love to both his mother and to all whom He loved, to all for whom He was dying. There is an important lesson for us in this. Our obedience must be to God first and foremost. And that may mean leaving parents behind, especially if God calls us somewhere else. From a human viewpoint the best thing Jesus could have done for his mother may have been to not be crucified and stay with her. But He was obedient to His heavenly Father. Jesus Himself had taught Mat 10:37-38 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
8. Notice He does not say we are not to love father and mother, but we are to love God more. And so in our serving God, we must be careful not to forget those in our families and their needs as well.
Whether in serving God or honoring parents, we must be willing to give up ourselves for them.
How about you? Are you willing to do our Father’s will? To take up your cross? And are you caring for those in your family - be it older parents, spouses, children or others?
Remember what Christ teaches us about this from the cross. ///
There is a third teaching that Jesus gives in the words He speaks. And perhaps this is not as evident and may even be open to discussion. In Mark 3 after Jesus had just healed a person, we read: v31 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
Could Jesus be using the same logic in what He is saying from the cross? Could He be telling John and His mother that our real relationships with Him and with each other is not based on the family we are born in but the family of God? // Because Jesus died on the cross, and we would have our sins forgiven, the church of Jesus Christ was born. All who are part of this true church, all who are children of God, have a new relationship with one another. How often in the New Testament are we not called brothers and sisters in the Lord? We are spiritual relatives and we could even say we are blood relatives - related through the blood of Christ that was shed upon the cross.
It is important that we realize what this means for us. We are to act as one family. We are called to look after one another, to care for one another. It means that those who are older in the church are to be as fathers and mothers - to be mentors for those of us who are younger. And that we all are called to honor and to care for those who are older in the church and those who have special needs.
Sometimes we are people caring for one another. This pleases the Lord.
And yet sometimes we are a group of individuals, with our individual concerns and agendas. We need to grow as a family. We need more and more to love one another. We are the body of Christ. We are united in Him
This is not the way that society is going today. People stay more in their homes - whether in front of the TV or on the computer. We don’t gather to watch a movie, we watch our own on our VCR/DVD player. People used to talk on the phone - they’d get a sense of how the other felt through their voice, etc. now they use much less personal Email. There is a place for it, but not to make personal contacts.
Jesus hangs on cross and says to us - these are your brothers, sisters, mothers. Do we treat each other that way? Care for each other? May we share the love and closeness that Christ has for each other. May we nurture each other and grow together into the fullness of Christ.
Remember three things that Christ taught us just before He died, as He hung on the cross. Remember the needs of others, even as we ourselves suffer. Obey God but love and care for the needs of our families. Treat one another as brothers and sisters in the church.
We learned how to be on the mark, and now we have gotten ourselves set, get ready for the action!
*Hymn of Response # 75 Love Divine
*Sending forth Go in peace and hope. Be the people of God
every day and in every place.
This Is the Day
Great Is the Lord
Here’s what mothers of famous personalities might have to say about their children.
Columbus’ Mother: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, you still could have written!”
Michelangelo’s Mother: “Can’t you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?”
Napoleon’s Mother: “All right, if you aren’t hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me.”
Abraham Lincoln’s Mother: “Again with the stovepipe hat? Can’t you just wear a baseball cap like the other kids?”
Mary’s Mother: “I’m not upset that your lamb followed you to school, but I would like to know how he got a better grade than you.”
Albert Einstein’s Mother: “Can’t you do something about your hair? Oil, styling gel, mousse, anything ...?”
George Washington’s Mother: “The next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance goodbye!”
Thomas Edison’s Mother: “Of course I’m proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off and get to bed!”
Paul Revere’s Mother: “I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is past your curfew.”
A family with four children had gone to Madera Canyon (a short drive south of Tucson) for a picnic. Their 7 year-old son had wondered off — everyone thought he was with someone else.
After a frantic search for the boy, the family knew they needed help. The sheriff’s department was called, soon search and rescue crews and several army helicopters joined the search. Several hundred people dropped what they were doing on a Saturday morning to search for this little boy. Why all the fuss? Because the stakes were high! A small child cannot survive in the harsh elements of the Arizona desert in the summer for very long. This was a life and death situation! ...
The little boy was found the next day after spending a frightening night alone in the desert. You can imagine the tears, joy and celebration that took place when he was found .... Jesus says, “In the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents ...”
—Bob Krepps, “The lost sheep,”
Every year our youth group makes a mission trip in June, after the school year ends. We travel to another city, spend several days working in the community, and end our trip camping for a few days in the country. By the end of each mission trip, as we pack up to head home, we’re inevitably faced with a large pile of unclaimed items, clothing, personal effects, jewelry, CDs, food, sports equipment, lots and lots of stuff waiting to be claimed. It’s like a Mission Trip Lost and Found. So we go through those items, one by one, holding them up and asking for the rightful owner to claim them. The more valuable items are snapped up by their owners, but many less precious things go begging, so to speak, and end up either back here at Grace Church, or in the trash can.
Maybe that’s the way it is with Lost and Found rooms everywhere. If you lose something
of no consequence to you, a dirty shirt or a mud-soaked sock, you’d probably just as well ignore it, forget about it, and leave the finding to someone else. Only someone in real need would rummage around a place like that. So as you consider ... the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, think about those misplaced items on our mission trip.
Which one of you, having 100 T-shirts and losing one of them, would go into that Lost and Found to search among the filthy, smelly clothes there until you found that shirt? And if you found that shirt, would you call all your friends together and have a party, shouting, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my shirt that was lost!”?
Our youth group members don’t. Would you?
—Robert T. Brooks, “I have found the sheep that was lost,”
As president of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson was once questioned at great length by an anxious mother seeking reassurance that Princeton was in fact the best school for her son.
“Madam,” an exasperated Wilson at last declared, “we guarantee satisfaction or you will get your son back.”
Stormie Omartian is the best-selling author of The Power of a Praying Wife. She writes that her favorite three-word prayer is “Change him, Lord.” Problem is, God never seems to answer this prayer, so she has learned to begin with a different prayer, “Lord, change me.” She believes that God has to start somewhere, so he’ll begin with the person who makes herself available. The ultimate aim is for God to change both partners.
There may be a wrong way to do the right thing, but never a right way to do the wrong thing. Mothers are the people who take Jesus at His word when He says to forgive each other "seventy times seven."
· Mothers are the ones who still believe in you when everyone else begins to doubt.
· Never get between a mother and her cubs. Even if you are the father, you lose.
· The best give you can give your children to love their mother.
· A mother's prayers are more powerful than any force on earth or in heaven.
· A father may know best, but a mother cares best, and children will pick caring over knowing every time.
· We may pray for "Our Father," but the face of God we see, the hand of God we clutch and the heart of God we trust belong to our mothers.
Lord, thanks for giving us mothers so that we can see, hold and hear You more clearly
Have the children stand, and say that you want to play a game of Hide and Seek. You want them to hide somewhere in the worship space while you close your eyes and count to 10. After counting, look for them, and show a lot of excitement when you find them; then gather them back together for some conversation. Ask them how it felt to be the ones that were found. Then tell them that you were very excited to find them, just like the shepherd in Scripture who finds his lost sheep, and the woman who finds her lost coin (Luke 15:3-10). Let them know that it is natural not to want to be found, and sometimes when we are behaving badly we do not want to be found by God. Describe how we sometimes hide from God, and do things that move us farther away from God. But then assure them that God is always looking for us, and he is so excited when we turn from our bad behavior and go back to him. Close by saying that God will always find us, and he will feel great joy when we leave our hiding places and follow him.