Happenings at an inner city church in Allentown

Archive for March, 2012

For Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sermon Title:    “After the Parade”

Scripture:    Mark 11:1-11

On this day, April 1st, we begin one of the most holiest of weeks, that of Holy Week.  Sunday, we remember that first Palm Sunday, as people gathered to see possibly the long-awaited Messiah riding into Jerusalem.  They must have been expecting him to be riding a mighty stallion but instead came riding in on a humble donkey.

They know he is a great teacher, a very special person and they want to welcome him.   So they wave palm branches at Him and even throw their coats down in the road.  As they wave the palm branches as a sign of joy, they also yell and cheer for Jesus.  They wanted Him to be their king, but we all know that he didn’t want to be king on earth.  Jesus had a much different destiny that he had to fulfill.

Come on this Palm Sunday and worship with us as we prepare ourselves for this holy week.  We will hold our Maundy Thursday service in the Fellowship Hall beginning at 6PM with soup n’ sandwiches, then continue on with our service at 7:00PM at the same tables we just shared a meal as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  Good Friday (Service of Shadows) begins at 7:00PM in the sanctuary in light and ends in darkness as we leave the service in silence.   Resources:   Dynamic Preaching

Thought for the Week:    We’re never hopeless with God.  All things are possible through Him!  – by Joyce Meyer.

Let us pray:   Gracious God, we enter into your courts with praise!  We know what lies ahead this week.  So often, we too have deserted the one who gives us the reason for being.  May our doubts, our troubles, our grief never cloud the path that brings us closer to you.  Strengthen us for this journey.  Grant your presence above all else as we move toward the shadow of the Cross.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

“Living Beyond Your Feelings”

  The book for the month of March and April is “Living Beyond Your Feelings” written by Joyce Meyer.  It’s about “controlling your emotions so they don’t control you”.  According to the book cover, “the average person has 70,000 thoughts every day, and many of those thoughts trigger a corresponding emotion.” 

This is a wonderful book if you are guided by your emotions or would just like to control them better.  Although I have not read the whole book yet, just Part I, I can see its usefulness.  Joyce gives four personality types and how each one affects ones outlook.  Did you ever wonder why your spouse acts the way they do – read this book and wonder no more.

After every chapter, Joyce gives a sentence or so called “Decision and confession”.  I like to think of them as the “thought for the day”.  If you would like to read this book with us, read Part I, the first 129 pages during March and then come to St. James U.C.C., Allentown on Saturday, March 31st at 1:00PM for discussion in the parlor. We plan on reading Part II for April and then coming together Saturday, April 21st.  Time to be determined at the March meeting.

Anyone is welcome.  Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, March 18th

Sermon Title:    “The Handiwork of God”

Scripture:   Ephesians 2:4-10

Paul wrote, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

First reflect on this question:  How do you feel about yourself?  Do you feel like you are the handiwork of God?  Do you feel you could change the world?  Or are you satisfied to just get by?  Are you satisfied doing as little as you possibly can to justify your existence?   I truly believe that God created us to do more than just get by.

We need commitment, dedication and sacrifice.  You and I, we both have a choice to make about our lives.  Will we settle for being lumps of clay who are here for a while and then return to the earth without leaving any lasting impression, or will we allow ourselves to be the handiwork of God fashioned by His hand for greatness?

Paul says three things:  1) We were created for greatness;  2) greatness does not come from us, it comes from God;  3) we become God’s handiwork when Christ Jesus lives within us and we engage in acts of service in his name.  If you want to hear more, come to worship with us on Sunday, March 18th at St. James U.C.C., Allentown at 10:45Am.  Join us for Adult Sunday School at 9:30AM – theme is “Sabbath Rest.”  Resources:   Dynamic Preaching

Thought for the Week:    Faith doesn’t demand miracles…it accomplishes them.   – by Robert Schuller

Let us Pray:    Lord, speak to me.  Let me hear your gentle words.  Challenge me and change me, show me how to live as you would have me do.  For all the love you give, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, March 11th

Sermon Title:   “Purifying God’s House”

Scripture:   John 2:13-22

To begin with this story (driving the moneychangers from the temple) is written in all four gospels, which tells us that it was a key event in the life of Jesus and in the early church.   Jesus comes in the temple, sees the vendors selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and starts cleaning house, purifying God’s house. 

Jesus provides a wake-up call for the people in that time.   Maybe we in 2012, need a wake-up call too.   He even talks about that the temple would be destroyed, but a new one would be raised up in three days. 

I ask you what temple is Jesus talking about in this story?  And what message is he trying to tell us in our day and time in regards to our churches.  Is Jesus the center of our worship and mission?  Come to St. James UCC, Allentown and hear more.  And then after worship stay for our St. Patrick’s Dinner from 12noon to 2PM.  Everyone is welcome!

Thought for the Week:    Jesus overturns all that would stand between us and God.

Let us pray:    Come to our hearts, Lord Jesus.  So often we fill our lives to the brim with activity and noise, stifling any opportunity  to share silence with you.  Open our hearts that we might hear your still, small voice guiding us and strengthening us for the week ahead.  We pray in your name.  Amen.

Resources:   Homiletics, Preaching, Annual Manual.

Pastor Lorraine

“Heaven is for Real”

   The first book we read for our book club in February was “Heaven is for Real” written by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent.  It is a little boy’s story of his trip to heaven and back.  Colton, who was not quite four years old, had been in surgery and he told his parents he had left his body.  He didn’t share his experiences right away but little by little, he would share things, people he had met that he didn’t know in his life.  The surprising thing is that the amount of things Colton shares he experienced, only happened in three-minutes in earthly time.  It makes one wonder, if time in heaven is counted in a much different way.     

    This book is written in a simple manner, easy reading, but it gives the reader a glimpse of heaven in a new way, through the eyes of a not-quite four year old.  The book is written, re-told by Colton’s father.  One thing Colton says about heaven is this:  “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

    Are you a skeptic, or does it peak your interest?  Read the book and then decide.    Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, March 4

Sermon Title:   “Cross Roads”

Scripture:    Mark 8:31-38

On this 2nd sunday in Lent, we read in the gospel of Mark about Jesus, not in  the wilderness, but still being tempted.  This time he is tempted by one of his disciples, that of Peter.  Even though the disciples walked with Jesus, they still did not understand when he talked about his death which was to come.

When Peter responds to Jesus’ teaching he rebukes Jesus.  Think about it, Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the promised deliverer of God’s people, Israel.  How could He be talking about suffering and death, it didn’t make sense.  Now Jesus rebukes Peter, telling him “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things.”

Just like the disciples, we all have a choice to make, are we going to be the kind of Christian Jesus wants us to be:    “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”    Today we stand at a crossroads – are you going to take the road leading to Christianity and choose to deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus?   It is your decision! *Annual Manual and Christian Century

Thought for the Week:    GPS  –  God’s Positioning System  by Squire Rushnell in “When God Winks On New Beginnings”

Let us pray:    Merciful Savior, Jesus willingly yielded himself to the temptation and the blessing of the desert.  We sometimes experience desert as well.  Empower us, gracious God, to follow the example fo Jesus.  Remind us of our faithfulness in the wilderness.  Renew our hearts and minds.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.