First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Sermon & Weekly Bulletin ~ October 06, 2019

10-06-2019 Bulletin PDF

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Applying Faith in a time of anxiety
    3. Reflections from last Sunday’s questions
      1. What do you need to be content? What do you need to be persuadable?
        1. Memories (of a deceased loved one)
        2. Children hold me accountable
      2. Request for help – Need help managing fear and anxiety
    4. Frank talk about fear, anxiety, conflict
      1. Hardships exist. Challenges to our faith exist.
        1. Avoidance only works for so long
      2. Tension between trying to make our faith fit inside the world, or have our faith inform and transform the world.
      3. People, media, structures, exploit this fear, this anxiety
        1. Sensationalist news
        2. Political action
  • Advertising – create a lack to sell you something to fill it
  1. Psalm – keep calm and carry on
    1. Read as lament, not scolding
      1. Not denying vexed, angry, or resentful. Or judging for having such feelings
      2. Reassurance that now isn’t the last word
  • Hear it in the spirit of the 23rd Psalm – God sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes
  1. In the middle of the story, not the end – be patient
  2. Seeking out the upward turn in grief – hope in the Lord
    1. Hope in what the Lord values – peace, forgiveness, reconciliation,
  3. Enduring faith in 2 Timothy
    1. Revive God’s Gift
    2. God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.
      1. Powerful
      2. Loving
  • Self-controlled – inward regulated. Not swayed by the times or the actions of others
  1. Family of Faith
    1. I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice.
    2. Not just a “family values” quote – at this point Xity isn’t the standard or default faith.
    3. UCC as faith family – church of refugees
      1. Uniquely open, inclusive
    4. Jesus and faith
      1. Not about how much you have, but how you use it.
        1. faith comes by doing.
        2. He pivots from the question of quantity to the question of sufficiency
      2. Like a muscle that we are underestimating
        1. More we exercise it, the better and more reliable it gets
      3. Faith and the parallel to the widow with two copper coins
        1. We try to view faith like an investment, like money, so there’s plenty to spare. Therefore, using a bit of it wouldn’t be a big deal. Effortless
        2. Instead, faith in whatever “size” we see it, is to be utilized, not hoarded
      4. Difference between a believer and a follower
        1. Believers focus on beliefs – obscuring that faith and doubts go hand in hand.
          1. Using the lens of a believer, on many things I am an agnostic
          2. Where I have faith is where I can’t compromise and consider myself a person of faith
  • The un-negotiables that we talked about last week
  1. God is loving and just of all. To convince me otherwise would probably destroy my faith.
  1. Followers put into action their beliefs
    1. Not about salvation, the old “grace vs. works” debate\false dichotomy
    2. They can’t help but act
  • If God loving and just towards all, that challenges many exclusionary practices
    1. Limited communion
    2. Who’s in and who’s out
  1. Don’t expect extra praise – just did what’s expected
    1. Paradox of the example of slaves
  2. What kinds of work do we not get thanked for? What are the kinds of work that we do not need thanks for, or the thank you get to be ridiculous?
    1. Parenting –
    2. Are we enslaved to society and expectations and the polite thank you of our lives?
  3. Discipleship in an anxious time
    1. Do what we are called to do, without expecting praise or reward. May encounter struggle
    2. Trust (faith) in God –
    3. Joys of Discipleship
      1. it is good within itself
      2. resurrection \ resuscitation
    4. Cost and joys of discipleship – focus of our scriptures today
      1. Challenge of keep on keeping on in a affirmation craving society
      2. There is a social cost to preaching the Gospel, or to living it out, or to sharing it. But the joys outweigh it.
        1. Suicide rates in LGBTQ+ teens
          1. LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.
          2. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/
          3. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2019/06/27/research-brief-accepting-adults-reduce-suicide-attempts-among-lgbtq-youth/
          4. Having a Gay Straight Alliance lowered suicide rates for gay and straight males by 50%
          5. Up to 70% for more established GSAs
          6. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/simply-having-gay-straight-alliance-reduces-suicide-risk-all-students-180949462/
        2. This is also why I’m suffering the way I do, but I’m not ashamed. I know the one in whom I’ve placed my trust. I’m convinced that God is powerful enough to protect what he has placed in my trust until that day. 13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Protect this good thing that has been placed in your trust through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
  • World communion Sunday in a time of anxiety
    1. In a time of isolation, fear of the other,
    2. Expression of essential unity
    3. Prioritize relationships over theologies
    4. Perhaps there’s also a deeper awareness – using out gut to remind us of how great diversity is
      1. Cantina and That French Place just closed
      2. Need a good Chinese restaurant
  • Next Sunday – Jacob Atem from South Sudan – reminding us of our connections across the globe.

Readings

Psalm 37:1-9

Don’t be vexed by evildoers and don’t be envious of the corrupt!
They’ll soon fade like the grass, and wither away like unwatered plants.
Trust in the Lord, and do good, and you’ll dwell in the land and enjoy security.
Delight in the Lord, and you’ll be given the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to The Lord, and trust in the Lord; God will take action,
making your vindication as sure as the dawn and your integrity as bright as noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently; don’t fret about those who amass great fortunes and carry out their schemes unchallenged.

Let go of your anger and leave resentment behind. And stop worrying! It produces nothing but evil, and evildoers will be cut off. But those who put heir hope in the Lord, they will inherit the land.

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Continuing our readings of the letters to Timothy, this week we begin the 2nd letter to Timothy

1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, to promote the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.

2 To Timothy, my dear child.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I’m grateful to God, whom I serve with a good conscience as my ancestors did. I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night. 4 When I remember your tears, I long to see you so that I can be filled with happiness. 5 I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you. 6 Because of this, I’m reminding you to revive God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about the Lord or of me, his prisoner. Instead, share the suffering for the good news, depending on God’s power. 9 God is the one who saved and called us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but it was based on his own purpose and grace that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began. 10 Now his grace is revealed through the appearance of our savior, Christ Jesus. He destroyed death and brought life and immortality into clear focus through the good news. 11 I was appointed a messenger, apostle, and teacher of this good news. 12 This is also why I’m suffering the way I do, but I’m not ashamed. I know the one in whom I’ve placed my trust. I’m convinced that God is powerful enough to protect what he has placed in my trust until that day. 13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Protect this good thing that has been placed in your trust through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Luke 17:5-10

The scripture from look continues on from last week’s reading, the story of the rich man and Lazarus and last week’s sermon, when we discussed what it would take to be content and change our minds.

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7 “Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Come! Sit down for dinner’? 8 Wouldn’t you say instead, ‘Fix my dinner. Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you can eat and drink’? 9 You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you? 10 In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, ‘We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.’”

The Word of God for the people of God         Thanks be to God