This worship service premieree on YouTube at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 3, 2020. A transcript of the service is provided here for those who are unable to watch the video. 

CALL TO WORSHIP

Micah 6:8: God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Let’s pray …

God of the open road, God of the twisting path, God of the narrow and upward way, your people are gathered for worship!

In this hour, give us provision for the journey, courage and faith and compassion, and endurance to face any hardship. 

Open our eyes to see you walking beside us, protecting us, encouraging us, loving us. 

We pray this in the name of Jesus, who moves us, Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

This is the time when we lift up our joys and concerns to God. To protect the privacy of individuals, I will not be saying any names out loud during the prayer. Please know that I am praying for any needs you’ve sent me and for your unspoken needs as well. 

God, we give you thanks for the blessings and protections you have and continue to provide. We confess to you we are not worthy of your grace and mercy, and praise your holy name for loving us anyway. 

We thank you, Lord, for continuing to walk with us and shelter us. Your world here on earth is still all upside down and inside out, God. Some of us are excited about the movement toward a normal we remember. Some of us are frightened that the movement is in haste. Let your peace flow down on all of us, God, and help us to remember to rest in you. Fill us with your wisdom, Lord, so that we may continue forward safely and thoughtfully, led only by you.

One of our own needs you right now, God. We give thanks that she has recovered enough to return home and ask that you continue to heal and strengthen her. We pray now for her husband who is also hospitalized for equally serious reasons. Be with him, God, heal him if it is your will, guide his caregivers, and help us to understand. In this time when we cannot go easily to his side or hers, let them both know how loved they are by all of us and especially by you.

We need you now, God, more than ever. We need to be revived again. We need to feel the Spirit move within us. We need to be reminded of our role in building your kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Fill us with the courage to take your message out into our world, especially at this time when the world feels so dark and unfriendly.

God, your Son remained with his disciples after his resurrection, teaching them to love all people as neighbors. 

As his disciples in this age, we offer our prayers on behalf of the universe in which we are privileged to live and our neighbors with whom we share it.

Open our hearts to your power moving around us and between us and within us, until your glory is revealed in our love of both friend and enemy, in communities transformed by justice and compassion, and in the healing of all that is broken.  

We ask these things in the name of your son, and we pray to you in the words he taught us to pray …

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING(S)

Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.

ACTS 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.

All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

1 PETER 2:19-25 

For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.

If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds, you have been healed.

For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

One: The word of God for the people of God.

Many: Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – REVIVAL AND RESTORATION

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer. Amen.

We are now in our 8th week of sheltering in place and sheltering in faith. We hear conflicting reports daily of whether it’s safe to venture back out into the world or whether we should still stay home. We wonder and we worry, we may even imagine and plan for being able to go back out there. And, meanwhile, we endure.

Some of us have started to convince ourselves that our survival depends on how quickly we can get things back up and running. We’ve in a sense become slaves to the economy.

I think mere “survival” isn’t the answer. I think we need revival. I think we need to look more closely at the underlying message in the passage from 1 Peter.

The author of that letter, presumably Peter, was also speaking to people who were slaves. Many have mistaken Peter’s message as a tacit acceptance of the institution of slavery, an apparent acceptance of abuse, that it’s somehow God’s will and gains God’s approval if we endure abuse. That type of interpretation is what has turned many people away from the church over the years.

But what if that’s not what this passage is saying? What if the message was deeper than early theologians cared to dig?

Abuse is not sanctioned by God; injustice is not approved by God. Jesus showed us that.

Endurance, however, is. Endurance is another way of talking about faithfulness. It’s about holding on. Endurance is a strength of character and a sign of faith.

And we need to endure right now. We need to hold on. We need to initiate our own revival.

Now, I’m not talking about revival like … let’s all break out the big tents and the wooden folding chairs and tables full of everybody’s prize-winning blue-ribbon recipes. And let’s not think about revival in the sense of all that really great singing of old songs that restore our faith and soothe our souls. I’m talking about a different revival.

We’re just four weeks away from Pentecost – the day that the Holy Spirit arrived to the disciples and the people.

And I’m talking about that kind of revival. A revival that’s a renewing of our faith, a refreshing of our commitment to carry out what Jesus taught us.

If we’re not clear on what Jesus taught us, then we need to go back through it all again … and again and again … until we are clear.

We need to look at how we should be in this world. We need to look at how we can be His hands and feet. Because he doesn’t have any hands and feet now but ours.

We need to understand that this isn’t apocalyptic, this isn’t necessarily the end times … unless we let it be.

We need to understand that God’s waiting for us! He’s waiting for us to acknowledge where we’ve messed up. He’s waiting for us to acknowledge that there’s a better way … and it’s His way.

He’s waiting for us to take hold of ourselves, and to let go of everything else and do this for Him.

We need a revival of the soul of the Church. We need the Church to remember what it is to be the Church, and we need to remember we are the Church.

We need a revival of our faith in God, our trust in Jesus, and in His saving grace.

We need a revival. We need to go from now through Pentecost building up and singing songs and worshiping and praising in our hearts … and in our daily lives … in our workplaces … in our homes … wherever we are.

But we need a revival. We need to be revived again because we’ve fallen by the way a little bit, haven’t we? We’ve stumbled away from what’s important.

We’ve reduced God’s time with us to an hour a week, and we seem so anxious to get back to that. I hear so many … or actually, I read so many people complaining about how it’s so wrong to keep the churches closed right now, how we need to be back in church right now worshiping …

I think that means we want to give God less time, and that saddens me. I think that we’ve been giving God more time right now when we have all this extra time on our hands to devote to Him, and I think we need to get ourselves into the habit of maintaining that extra time with God long after this virus has gone away.

We need to reach out to our neighbors. We need to reach out to our friends. We need to look and see who is paying attention to us? Who’s listening to these messages? 

Are there people from our communities that we maybe missed? Are there people paying attention on our websites and our Facebook pages, listening to what we’re saying … commenting on it?

Have we gotten to know those folks? Do we plan to stay with those folks once this is all done, and we are back to meeting in person.

Are we willing to continue to commit the time we’re giving God right now to God when everything goes back to normal? I’m not sure.

I think a revival has already started. I think that there’s plenty of signs out there that people are reviving their faith in God. There’s more praying, there’s more inspirational messages being shared, more bible verses. I see an uptick in traffic on the things that I’ve been posting for Bethel, and I watch other churches and see the same things happening there.

People are paying attention. People are reaching out to one another. Neighbors are helping neighbors, friends are helping friends, and everybody is helping strangers!

So, in my estimation, the revival has started and the question is, “Are we going to be part of that revival, or are we going to be late to the party?”

I hope you’ll join me in the revival.

Let’s pray.

God, we need you now so much. We need to feel you in us. We need to feel the movement of the Spirit, and sometimes we just need you to just really grab us by the shoulders and shake us real hard. And in a way, this pandemic has done just that, even if it hasn’t been by Your hands.

Death is closer to our doors. Pain and suffering are closer to our doors. We see it happening in our neighborhoods. We see it happening in our cities. We don’t like it, but we feel it just the same.

God, revive us. Bring us back around. Help us understand what it is we need to do to go out and make disciples for you. Help us understand that going out doesn’t necessarily always mean physically going out the door, and that sometimes we can go out by simply reaching out. Help us reach out. Show us who to reach. Guide them to us, Lord, too.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.

Amen.

BENEDICTION

May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

AMEN.

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Additional Credits & Thank Yous:

Hymns in today’s video are Public Domain. Performances are courtesy of Nathan Drake of Reawakenhymns.com and used by permission. Rev. Ohle’s words are her own.