This worship service premiered on YouTube at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020. A transcript of the service is provided below for those who are unable to watch the video.
Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to include hymns in this worship service, and the text overlay for the corporate prayer is missing. Our apologies. We will work to correct this before our next service.
CALL TO WORSHIP
This morning, God, we want everything to be for your glory.
We want our thoughts, our words, our songs, our church, our community, our resources, our time, our lives – all to be for you.
Everything ours is yours, and we come together to declare this to be so, on this Sunday, your holy day.
Bless our time together with your holy presence, O Lord, we pray.
It is good to be together, God, through this screen, with these people watching, listening, and praying with me … to be together listening for your voice, united by your Spirit.
In this time of worship, tell us about your kingdom of kindness so that we can seek it.
Show us your justice.
We want to walk with you, humbly, closely, daily.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, who loves us, Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Thank you, God, for the blessings you’ve given us since we last came to you. Thank you for always meeting us where we are and loving us anyway. Thank you for the unearned and undeserved gift of your grace and forgiveness despite our brokenness, our failure to fully repent, and our inability to surrender completely to you. We praise your holy name and to you we give all glory, laud, and honor.
Be with us and hear us now, Lord, as we raise our petitions and prayers to you.
Bless and be with those who are sick, who are hurting, who are struggling to hold on mentally. Lead them to those who can help heal them and guide the hands of the healers.
Fill those who are mourning loss with your peace. Hold them as they weep. Let them feel your presence. Let us be the shoulders they rest on while they grieve.
Calm those who are frightened or angry right now, God. Still and give rest to the restless. Ease the fears and worries of the anxious.
Especially be with those who today mourn the loss of loved ones to this virus, to wars they did not make, to diseases they could not prevent. Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we honor our fallen. Help us, this year, honor all fallen, even those who were our enemies, by helping and guiding us to love one another the way your son loves us.
Teach us again, to beat our swords into plowshares, and to extend our hands in friendship and peace.
Tonight, faith leaders and the faithful will gather together through the miracle of these screens to mourn all those lives lost to COVID-19. Be with those leading us tonight in prayer. Be with us as we pray. Hear our prayers.
Most of all, God, guide us in your will not ours, in Christ’s way not ours, and fill us with the Spirit.
We ask these things in the name of your son, and now, with the confidence of the children of God, we pray to you in the words he taught us to pray …
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom comes; 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.
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, let the wicked perish before God.
But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds — his name is the LORD — be exultant before him.
Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land.
O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah, the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, Selah, O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary, the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.
So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.
All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
One: The word of God for the people of God.
Many: Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE – GLORY
There was an event this past Thursday – a significant event – one that far too often goes unnoticed.
This past Thursday – 40 days after Easter – was the Day of Ascension. And all the church said, “Ummm, okay … what’s that?”
Remember on Easter morning how the risen Christ returned and continued to walk and work among the disciples, to eat with them, to teach them?
The Day of Ascension, the fortieth day after Easter, is the day when Christ ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The day he rose in glory.
John Legend and Common recorded a song for the movie, Selma, that opened with, “One day when the glory comes, it’ll be ours. It’ll be ours …”
In the passage from John 17, Jesus includes it in his pastoral prayer for his disciples that he prayed just before he was betrayed by Judas. Jesus prayed, “Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,” “I glorified you on earth,” “… glorify me in your presence with the glory I had before … ,” and “I have been glorified in them.”
We pray it … “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever …”.
We sing it … “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost …” “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling down the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored… Glory, glory hallelujah. His truth is marching on.”
But do we really know what we mean when we say the word?
One pastor I referred to in preparing today’s message puts it like this: “Studying glory from scripture is somewhat like peering at a diamond in the noonday sun: it is dazzling, and it can be puzzling …”
He goes on, though, to provide a fairly accurate description. He explains that glory has to do with light… it is shining, often striking, bedazzling light… glory is heavy… it is something that has weight… and, glory is visible… it is something you can see; it is meant to be seen.
Glory is praise for God, but it also has substance. It can fill a space, it is visible.
Acts 1:6-14 tells about the ascension. When verse 9 says that Christ ascended into heaven … that he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight … glory was visible. He rose in glory.
We tend to use the word, glory, a bit to casually today. We have glory holes and glory roads. We go out or down in a blaze of glory. We talk about our glory days. We do things for the glory. Our glorious victories have become winning an athletic event or an election.
Like far too many biblically important words, glory has, to a large degree, become secularized and somehow lessened in the process.
Maybe that’s why it’s been a long time since we recognized glory as a visible substance. Maybe that’s why we struggle to see God as we should … in the day-to-day, in the face of every person we see, in the wonder … and the glory … of His creation – a creation of which humanity is a part. Maybe our inability to see the glory of His creation is why we have very nearly destroyed the planet on which we live.
But today, Ascension Sunday, we are called to celebrate and remember that Christ ascended into heaven in a cloud of glory to sit at the right hand of God … that he was glorified.
Have you ever listened closely to the last verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic?
In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me …
A glory within Christ that transfigures … that transforms you and me into something more beautiful or elevated.
Peter told us, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. … And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”
Jesus said in his prayer to God on behalf of the disciples, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.”
He has been glorified in us. We are His glorification, his glory … a visible, weighty, shining substance. Jesus had that much faith in us.
Don’t you think it’s past time that we live up to that? That we not only return to truly glorifying God and Jesus, but to looking … watching for the substance of glory itself?
Living, loving God, today we sincerely give you all glory, laud, and honor. We praise you, God, and thank you again for our many blessings, both known and unacknowledged.
Help us to better glorify you. Help us to see and recognize your glory once again; the glory of your creation and the glory reflected in each of us. Help us to fulfill Christ’s faith in us.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Thank you, friends, and Bethel church family, for taking the time to worship with me today. I hope you enjoy your holiday this weekend, and encourage you to share the link to this video with your friends and family, and invite them to join us for online worship each Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
This video will be available on-demand through our website. I will also be posting a transcript there as well for those that don’t have the ability to watch videos.
Stay safe, stay home, love your neighbors, wear a mask, and wash your hands, and look for the glory of God.
Now hear this benediction:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. [i]
Go in peace. AMEN.
[i] Ephesians 3:20–21
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Credits & Thank Yous:
Rev. Ohle’s words are her own.