Alternative Ways to Worship
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First Presbyterian Church Worship – 16th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/20/20
“We Are Here To Help You in Your Walk With God.”
Welcome to our Worship and thank you for joining us today. We pray blessings on your day and welcome you in joining us as we worship God. Let’s begin by lighting the Christ candle, remembering that Christ is with us in our worship and in our lives each and every day. So now, let us begin our worship together:
Call to Worship:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.
Let us celebrate the Light of the world, for upon us has the Light shined.
Prayer of Confession:
God of glory, you sent Jesus among us as the light of the world, to reveal your love for all people. We confess that our sin and pride hide the brightness of your light. We turn away from the poor; we ignore cries for justice; we do not strive for peace. Forgive us, God. In your mercy, cleanse us of our sin, and baptize us once again with your Spirit, so that, as forgiven and renewed people, we may reflect the love and light of Jesus Christ into our world.
Let us approach the Lord with our silent confessions.
Assurance of Pardon:
Our God is a God of grace and mercy and love; and we know that our sins have been forgiven. May we be strengthened in all goodness. Since we have been raised with Christ, let us seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven, thanks be to God. Amen.
Scripture Reading: John 8:12-19
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards;[a] I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father[b] who sent me. 17 In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18 I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” 19 Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
Message: Jesus the Light of the World
When we think about light, our first thoughts are usually of the sun. We’ve been taught that the sun is the center of our solar system and so it lights our world.
Some interesting facts reveal the sun’s greatness. For instance, the sun is 93 million miles from the earth. That means if a baby would start flying to the sun at birth and travel 150 miles per hour, the baby would be nearly 71 years old upon arrival. Astronomers estimate that the diameter of the sun is 109 times that of the earth. Its output of energy is 70,000 horsepower per sq. yd. per minute. So how much is that? It’s enough energy to melt a bridge of ice 2 miles wide, 1 mile thick that extended the entire way from the Earth to the Sun, in one second. The temperature at the sun’s surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the sun, in spite of its greatness, is not the Light of the World. The Light of the World is the Son of God. Jesus declared himself to be just that. He is the one who made the sun, since he existed with the Father in creation. He is also the one who declared, “I am the light of the world.” So this morning, let’s spend some time pondering this question: “Has the Son, Jesus Christ, had as great of an impact or influence on my life as that of the sun that shines on the earth?”
Let’s start by getting a picture of Jesus as The Light. It is certainly not a claim that suggests that he walked around like a glowing light bulb, or like some large glow stick. While he was on earth, he had the natural appearance of a man. But in other scripture references, heavenly beings are described as displaying light – like the angel that came to Joseph and to Mary. God himself is described as light, as in Ps. 104:2, “He wraps himself in light as with a garment.” With Moses, God shows him his glory but hides him in a rock so that he is only allowed to see God’s back (Ex. 33). And Moses’ face glowed after that encounter and the people made him wear a veil to cover the brightness. In the book of Revelation 1:16, Jesus, the Son of Man, is described in this way, “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
And Jesus’ coming to earth was certainly accompanied by light. Remember these stories from the time of his birth? In describing the angel that came to the shepherds announcing Jesus’ birth, Luke says, “And the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk. 2:9). A star shone over Bethlehem where Jesus was born. And during Jesus’ life, his glory was revealed in the transfiguration experience when he became dazzling white (Mk. 9).
So, when Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World,” it was a statement about his glory, but it was also more than that. It was about what he came to do. Jesus says of himself in Luke 4, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and the recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This is what characterized Jesus’ life on earth. Essentially his life was about bringing life to people. John 1:4 describes Jesus this way, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” He brought life. This means he brought hope and restoration to a world of hopelessness and brokenness. He freed some from the prison of sickness, others from the loneliness of being an outcast or low class, and a few from the grips of death itself.
He brought hope and restoration to a world of hopelessness and brokenness. I don’t know how you are feeling right now in the midst of the disruption of the pandemic and chaos of this political season, but I need restoration because I feel hopeless and broken. Many days I feel that the darkness of the situation that we are living through, is getting the upper hand. And on those days, I turn my eyes to Jesus and pray for the Holy Spirit to lift me above the darkness, to fill me with the knowledge of God’s presence and love. Because in Him is life and love.
By his teachings Jesus also freed people from ignorance concerning God, his kingdom, the meaning of obedience and the way of salvation. He also freed some from their sins by granting forgiveness. Jesus says of himself, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).
Jesus came to display all the goodness of God through his caring acts toward people. He came teaching truth. And he came to bear the punishment for our sin. In all these ways, Jesus is the light of the world.
So, what effect does that light have on us? For some, they found it repulsive. In the gospel of John, right before Jesus proclaimed that he was The Light of the World, the scribes and Pharisees had brought to him a woman caught in the act of adultery and demanded of him an opinion of what her punishment should be in the light of Moses’ law.
Jesus stooped and started writing on the ground. Then he said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then he wrote again, and when he looked up the accusers had fled one by one until only the condemned woman was left. The truth was that the Scribes and Pharisees did not like the light. If you turn over a log in the woods, bugs will scurry everywhere, not because they fear you, but because light is repulsive to them. In the same way, the light of truth can be repulsive to some.
In another one of the “I am” statements of Jesus, many people left after hearing Jesus proclaim that he was the bread of life. This is something difficult for us to wrap our heads around today. Before the pandemic, we wanted crowd-getters. We want members. We want to pack them in. But Jesus frequently thinned them out. It was this very quality of light that he so vividly described in John 3:19-20 that says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
Some people reject Jesus because they have a dark, sinful nature. Those who live in darkness do not want their evil deeds to be exposed. They don’t want to hear about trusting someone else besides themselves.
The light reveals truth about Christ himself. The Pharisees, as we read in John 8, had a problem with Jesus’ claim about himself. They wanted to argue by way of a legal standpoint. They wanted to discuss, not believe. They wanted a legal battle, not a saving moment. But Jesus confidently stated the truth about himself.
As good farmers and garden growers, we know that light causes growth. As we take in the truth and the presence of Jesus, we grow and mature just as plants need sunlight to grow. The presence of Jesus in us changes us, if Christ is in us, we CANNOT stay the same. We blossom with godly character. We become rooted in the truth to withstand the storms and every stormy wind of conflicting religious doctrine. And inside we are filled with joy, and thankfulness, and peace.
The fourth way that light affects us is that it gives reassurance. When Jesus is our light and strength, he brings us to a place of peace. We gain peace because the burden of sin is lifted and the path through life and to our eternal home is clear and sure and all mapped out for us. We are secure and that gives us a warm feeling inside. It is like the comfort of seeing the light in the window of one’s own home after being gone.
Amazingly, Jesus shines his light through us to the world. Like Moses, whose face glowed after being in the presence of God, we shine because we have the presence of Jesus. Jesus not only says, "I am the Light of the world," but to the Christian he says, “You are the light of the world... let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-15). It is only as we strengthen our relationship with Christ that we are lights to the world.
The light also connects us to others. When we stand together as Christians and as a church, which is what Jesus wants, we shine even brighter and stronger. The church, like the people of Israel, is to be a light to the nations. And so we need to live like believers. We need to tell the good news and carry the light to the world, to family, and to friends, remembering that the church is not the building but the people. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World.” This is your Savior who died for you. He transforms us and leads us. He is Light for everyone.
A Father went into a toy store to buy his son a Christmas present. The salesman showed him a new educational toy. It came unassembled, and no matter how hard the child tried to put the pieces together, they wouldn’t fit. That was the education of the toy and it was designed to teach the child how to deal with life. And that is true, no matter how hard we try to fit all the pieces together, it just doesn’t seem to fit. That is until we acknowledge the light of Christ. A life without Christ is a life of futility.
I hope that you are able to welcome Jesus as your light, and continue to look to him as your light, and then let him shine for you—and through you—so that others can see how he’s the most important part of you. In His Holy name I pray, Amen.
Prayers of the People:
Jesus, you are the Light of the World. Shine Your light in us today, chase away the darkness of sin, the darkness of fear and doubt and despair. Fill us with the light of Your truth, Your Word. Produce in us the fruit of righteousness – the evidence that Your Holy Spirit lives in us all and works in us and through us.
Teach us what is pleasing to You. Make us a shining example of Your amazing grace, redeeming love, and life-changing power. May others be drawn to You through our reflected light of you.
We pray that you would come alongside us and all those for whom we pray, that you would show us Jesus, the light of the world, the one who came (and who comes) to rid us of sin, to give us life and health and peace, peace that passes all understanding – not a temporary respite from trouble but the strength to overcome it and ultimately to receive life eternal.
As we care for one another Lord, we remember those from our congregation and those who are in need of our prayers, we lift up: Alice, Delores, Sonja, Rose’s daughter Cheryl, and Lee.
We lift up Andrea’s Mom, Jan as she continues to recover.
Lord, the wildfires in California are still raging, and people have lost their lives and their homes, firefighters are weary, the destruction is overwhelming. Lord we pray for the easing of the winds and for rain to quench the flames.
Lord, we pray for those affected by yet another hurricane in the southern states. We pray that there will be no further loss of life, and that all of the people affected may once again be back on their feet, keeping safe as we continue to deal with COVID and all health concerns.
Mighty God, whose word we trust, whose Spirit enables us to pray, accept our requests and further those who will bring about your purpose for the earth. And even now, the voice of Christ speaks through us all as we say together the prayer that Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.
God now in the peace of God to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
Closing Hymn: Go Now In Peace
Go now in peace. Never be afraid.
God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.
Know He will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love, and show you believe.
Reach out to others so all the world can see.
God will be there watching from above.
Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.
Music by Don Besig
Words by Don Besig and Nancy Price
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