Happenings at an inner city church in Allentown

Archive for the ‘Online midweek message’ Category

Contemporary Service

On Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 2:00PM we will be having our 1st Contemporary Worship Service. It will be less formal, less liturgy, more singing and messages based on different themes. This will give an opportunity to come worship with us, once a month, on a time other than on a Sunday morning.
Come join us – all are WELCOME! Go out for a nice lunch and then stop by and worship with us! The theme for our 1st contemporary services will be: “Why Am I Here?”
At this time we do not have a projector, so we will need to use our hymnal. But personally, for me, as Pastor, I like to read the words on paper because they have so much more meaning to me.
Come, join us in worship! Try it, you might like it! That is, singing and being with us at St. James U.C.C. See you there! Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, March 24th

Sermon Title: “When We Feel Unwanted”
Scripture: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Luke 19:28-40

Palm Sunday 2013 – welcome to this most holiest of weeks, where follow Jesus to the cross at Golgotha and finally to the resurrection on Easter Sunday. But for today, we focus on Jesus journey to Jerusalem. It was a celebration, but short lived. Jesus was riding on a young donkey, while people threw their cloaks down on the pathway to honor royalty, for Jesus was king.

Jesus was receiving the welcome he deserved. He had taught faithfully, healed those who were sick and set an example for all of us. Now he was being welcomed into Jerusalem as a king. But as we all know the story does not end here, it is only the beginning of his pain and suffering. But we know that “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this.”

This holy week will lead us to rejoicing on Easter Sunday. Join us for this most holy week with services on Maundy Thursday beginning at 7PM in the Fellowship Hall; Good Friday beginning at 7PM in the sanctuary. We will begin this service in light and end in darkness and silence. Then Easter Sunday, March 31st we will sing our alleluias and our praises. We will rejoice. Source: Dynamic Preaching

Thought for the week: When you feel fear or doubt about the future, remember all that God has done in the past.

Let us pray: God, who moves in every heartbeat and moment, help us be mindful of our connection with you. Help us to live
so that we might be your voice and hands and heart in a hurting world. We remember friends, family and loved ones who
live with illnesses, who endure chronic pain daily. In your love and grace, heal them, comfort them, and strengthen
them. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Source: The Minister’s Annual Manual
Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, March 10th

Sermon Title: “When We Feel Lost”
Scripture: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

In the passage recorded in the Gospel of Luke for this coming Sunday, the scripture focuses first of all on the Parable of the Lost Sheep and second, the very familiar story of the Prodigal Son. One resource quoted a comment by George Buttrick, the greatest preacher America has ever produced, said the the parable of the Prodigal Son captures “the essence of the Christian faith.” It is a story of repentance, forgiveness, and grace. It also reflects self-righteousness, resentment and anger.

There are three main characters in this story: the Prodigal Son, the father and the elder son. If you have access to art, you might want to look up the picture painted by Ducth artist Rembrandt, called “The Return of the Prodigal Son. Some have called it the greatest picture ever painted. Notice the father’s hands, one appears to be masculine and the other more feminine. Author Father Henri Nouwen, also noted the difference in the father’s hands in his book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.”

Are you one of the characters in this story? Come and worship with us as we look more deeply into the three men in this story, and look at what the Christian message is for us this day. Resource: Dynamic Preaching

Thought for the Week: Prayer is important. Do everything you can do and then trust God to do what you cannot do.

Let us pray: Almighty God, Your word is true. I believe that You have plans for me for wholeness and not for evil. I believe that you have a future and a hope for me. I believe that You are working all things together for the good of those who love You. I say by faith that You are good. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. Resource: “Always True” by James
MacDonald. Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sermon Title: “The Nazareth Syndrome”
Scripture: Luke 4:21-30

The reading for February 3rd, starts at the verse last week’s ended – Jesus’ assertion that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The congregations response to Jesus’ claim, is a bit negative. They spoke well of him but were also astonished that his words are those of a local boy, the son of a carpenter.

Jesus provokes them, ridiculing where there thoughts are heading. They think he needs help, the decide. They are ready to help him, off a cliff. Luckily, Jesus was able to take himself out of the situation before things went from bad to worse.
The truth is that sometimes God’s truth comes to us in ways and through people through whom we would have never expected.

If you would like to hear more of this message on how God uses the people near us as channels for his messages, come to church on Sunday, February 3rd. We will also be having our Souper Bowl Sunday soup after worship in the Fellowship Hall.
The cost is $5.00. Resource: Homiletics

Thought for the Week: “It is much riskier to open your heart to God each day to listen and to ask, ‘Lord, what are You
telling me today?’ – Bruce Larson

Let us pray: Merciful God, we are bombarded with information, all of it claiming to be the truth. Yet we know there are false messiahs among us who seek to exploit rather than serve us. Into this, you come as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Thanks be to you, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, January 20th

Sermon Title: “Abundance”
Scripture: John 2:1-11

This is the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus miraculously turns water into wine when his mother lets him know that they have no more wine. This is the first of Jesus’ miracles in the gospel of John.

Weddings were a big deal in Jesus’ day, often lasting for an entire week. Seven days was the Jewish custom. That’s seven days of feasting, drinking, abstaining from work, and enjoying the company of loved ones, all as a way of celebrating and sharing in the new family’s joy.

Now if we did that kind of partying for weddings, we would not be able to afford it since an average wedding (a few hours) costs $27,000 today or maybe even more, depending on who you talk to about it.

The story goes that Jesus, his mother and his disciples are at this wedding in Cana. Jesus’ mother Mary, tells him that they are out of wine. At first he responds with “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Then she tells the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” And he does it. Does she know her son and that he would respond as she had hoped?

There are at least four reasons why Jesus did provide more wine for the party. Come to worship on Sunday, January 20th and discover these reasons. Worship begins at 10:45AM; Sunday School for adults at 9:30AM as we continue our study of Revelation. Resource: Homiletics

Thought for the Week: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Written by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let us pray: O God, we thank you for the blessing of life. We pray for those who do not know you, that they may receive the good news of Jesus Christ. We pray for those who need to be touched by your healing graces, and for those who need
renewal, that they may receive the newsness of spirit. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sermon Title:   “A Sign of God’s Grace”

Scripture:   Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The lesson for this First Sunday after Epiphany is the baptism of Jesus.  Remember the story of Christ’s baptism.  John the Baptist was baptizing people in the River Jordan.  People were flocking to hear him and his message.  Among them was Jesus of Nazareth who was John’s cousin.  Jesus stepped into the water and was baptized by John.  The Holy Spirit had descended on him in a form like a dove.

In the case of Jesus, the symbolism of the dove is important, as it represents peace and meekness.  From this we can see that Jesus was a different kind of Messiah, for he comes as a peacemaker and a servant. 

What about your baptism?  Many of us were baptized as infants and do not give it much thought as we journey through life.  But it truly is a rite of passage to a new life.  Come and join us in worship on Sunday as we look at baptism and how it is a sign of God’s grace.

Thought for the Week:   What do you expect of God – and from that, what do you expect of yourself?

Let us pray:    We give you thanks O God, for this new year and the promises and blessings we will receive.  Be with all those who need to be touched by your healing graces.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Pastor Lorraine

For Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sermon Title:     “Peace – What Happened?”

Scripture:   Luke 24:36b-48

We are two weeks into the season of Easter.  In the gospel of Luke, as Jesus appears to his disciples, he said, “Peace be with you.”    At first they were scared and thought they were seeing a ghost.   I don’t believe they reacted any differently than we would upon seeing someone we knew who had died, for even though Jesus had told them about his rising, they still did not understand it.

What happened to this peace Jesus talked about?  Isaish identified the Messiah as the “Prince of Peace” and Micah envisioned the Messiah restoring creation to its origianl shalom.  Jesus spoke of the legacy of his ministry in terms of peace – “Peace be with you.”  Where is the peace?

On this 3rd Sunday of Easter, we also celebrate Earth Day.  When you return to your home after worship, remember to look around you, and give thanks for the land, for God’s gift to be cherished and loved.

If you are interested in hearing more about Jesus’ “peace”, come to worship with us on Sunday at 10:45AM.  Resoureses:  Annual Manual

Thought for the Week:   Christ greeted us with the word peace and promised us the reality of peace. 

Let us pray:  God, just as the courage of the early disciples was challenged, so too are we.  The gospel was preached, and communities of faith were strengthened.  May our worship and service today in 2012 bring new life to individuals and to our community of faith.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

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