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Sunday Worship July 19 at 10:45

. 8 min read

Unfortunately, the video to Sunday worship was accidentally (and permanently) deleted. Oh no! But the notes for the service are included below…

Weeds & Wheat                                                         Mt
13 24-30
19
July 2020, Christ Mountain Top, Online, during COVID-19
Praying
the Scripture, Psalm 139.1-12, 23-24
Kids,
Genesis 28.10-19 (Jacob’s stairway to heaven)
Message,
Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43
Welcome
This
week’s theme:
Alexander
the Great is conquering the ancient world. As he moves into Asia, he encounters
a knot in the city of Phrygia, a knot tied by Gordias or his son Midas.
According to an oracle, the man who untied the knot would become ruler of all
Asia Minor. There are several versions of the story, but the most common is
that this impossibly complex knot, this thoroughly entangled mess, was solved
by Alexander when he took out his sword and cut it apart with one stroke. Alexander
went on to conquer that region and well beyond.
       The story is typically told as a metaphor
for difficult problems we face today. Look for a unique solution. Alexander
wasn’t given any rules about how the knot had to be untied. Instead of
hours of fruitless struggle, he solved the problem in a moment. Certainly,
creative problem solving is a wonderful gift.
       But some problems don’t have such
solutions. Some problems remind us that some things are so thoroughly entangled
that undoing them only damages everyone involved. Such problems require
perseverance and a different kind of creativity. Such problems invite us to
remember the calling of God’s people to be a blessing to all people.
Such problems invite us to self-reflection.

Prelude
Prayer
Music
by Joan
Light the lantern
Called
to Worship
       Hymn, I love to tell the story, 156 (Joan)
       Psalm – recorded by Joe & Sherri
Hersh
The
Peace
– chat online!
       Music by Joan
Children’s
Time
       Video from Chris Swallick
Anthem
       How great is our god
Scripture
       Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43
       Read text – recorded by Edythe Weller
& Judy Gallucci
Message
This
remarkable story of the weeds among the wheat reminds us that some things are
so thoroughly entangled that undoing them only damages everyone involved. Such
problems require perseverance and a different kind of creativity. Such problems
invite us to remember the calling of God’s people to be a blessing to all
people. Such problems invite us to self-reflection.
The
story includes judgment language, and we need to recognize it up front. There
is good and evil in the world, children of the kingdom and children of the evil
one, the enemy, the devil. At the end of the age, there is a final reckoning
for both the good seed and the bad seed that – if not removed – will poison or
ruin the crop. The field hands are so upset that they want to go out and remove
the weeds immediately. But, no, the roots are so entangled that removing the
weeds will also destroy the harvest. So we are called to endure hardship, to
wait for reckoning.
       It is important, whenever we read
judgment texts in Scripture, to remember that in most cases the judgment
language is directed at the people of God, the religious. For example, whenever
Jesus talked about hell, his audience was almost always the religious leaders.
It is also important, whenever we read judgment texts, not to overlook the fact
that the final word is not judgment but mercy. Unlike most ancient
rulers whose throne was known as a “judgment seat,” the throne of Yahweh is
almost always called a “mercy seat” or “atonement cover.” Paul writes, “There
is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8.1).
James writes, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2.13).
       There is a part of me that says, “I don’t
want anyone to burn. I don’t like this ‘thrown into the fire where there is
weeping and gnashing of teeth’ language.” Within the history of the church,
there are some who advocate for an idea that, in the end, mercy wins out, that
God finds a way to save everyone. Yet, to be honest, there are a few folks I’d
like to see burn. I am sure you have experienced this conflict yourself. I am
grateful that mercy has the last word, that God more gracious than I could ever
be, and that there is a time when evil will be utterly destroyed by the
judgment and justice of God.
       However you work out the biblical
language of final judgment and the triumph of mercy, let us remember that
eternal destiny matters, and that this life matters.
Back
to our main focus: the weeds and the wheat so thoroughly entangled. Since the
story involves good and bad, a couple ethical conundrums for us.
       Years ago, my late father-in-law Jesse
Grimm, who was protesting the Vietnam War in which my father served … my
father-in-law was a pastor and was invited to speak at one of the historic
“peace” churches in the area. The peace churches, such as the Mennonites, take
Jesus pretty seriously when he says that we are to “turn the other cheek.” They
are conscientious objectors when it comes to armed military service. Dad told
them that they were compromising their conviction by working at the local
Harley Davidson plant where bombs were made alongside motorcycles. He pointed
out how they were thoroughly entangled in a war that, officially, they did not
support. Dad was never invited back.
       Just this week, I saw a clip of a
comedy-satire-news show my Jesse was watching. The interviewed guest was
offering a solution to children being out of school during a pandemic. Now,
please remember, this is comedy-satire and it is truly awful, but not serious.
His solution to the problem is to put children to work in meat-processing plants.
Why? Because children are less at risk to the coronavirus. And, overturning our
laws against child labor will bring those child labor jobs back to our country.
Ouch. We don’t approve of child labor, but we still profit from it in many
ways.
This
remarkable story of the weeds among the wheat reminds us that some things are
so thoroughly entangled that undoing them only damages everyone involved. Such
problems require perseverance and a different kind of creativity. Such problems
invite us to remember the calling of God’s people to be a blessing to all
people. Such problems invite us to self-reflection.
Remember
the calling of God’s people to be a blessing to all people. Our welfare
and that of the weeds are intertwined. Jacob’s call in that trippy dream of the
“stairway to heaven” was to be a blessing to all families of
earth, to bring people to the gate of heaven, to the house of God. When Abraham
negotiated with God for the salvation of Sodom, we learned that just ten
righteous people can save a whole city. When Judah was taken into exile by
pagan Babylon, a nation that raped the women, killed the children, and
destroyed the temple … Jeremiah the prophet tells them to “seek the welfare of
the city to which I have deported you, pray for its welfare, for in its welfare
is your welfare” (Jeremiah 29.7). What!? Even when everything goes wrong in the
field of the world, even when it seems that evil has triumphed, we are called
to bless.
Such
problems also invite us to self-reflection. To what degree am I enmeshed in
evil just because I am in the world? What am I doing about it? Whatever you
name as evil in the world – we are entangled in it in unavoidable ways. And God
will sort it all out in the end. This doesn’t mean that we don’t take seriously
our baptismal vows to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms
they present themselves.” This doesn’t mean that what we do and who we are do
not matter. It does mean that this is an unfinished project and that
there remains work for us to do today. Our eternal destiny begins now.
       Our self-reflection is not only about how
we are entangled with evil. It is also about our own internal life. To what
degree is my heart pure? Is my own life fully wheat or is it partially weeds?
Today’s psalm invites this reflection, invites us allow God to do the
examination:
You
have searched me and known me
Before
a word is on my tongue, you know it completely
Search
me and know my heart
This
week Jesse and I were in conversation and I was frustrated. I walked away, mumbling
something under my breath. Jesse called after me, “What did you say about me?” Sometimes
I’m the weed in my own garden.
       And it is my responsibility to do
something about that, not in my own super-human effort but by submitting to the
grace of God. The final word is not judgment but mercy. And it is the kindness
of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2.4), not the wrath of God. It is
time for us to cast ourselves on the kindness and mercy of our Lord.
Song,
beautiful scandalous night (JP, guitar)
Announcements
Harvest
– be the answer to your own prayers!
       Grouping
       Reopening plan
·       More
changes to our planning
·       Will
still be online!
·       While
we will be rigorous at limiting risk, many of you still should stay home. But we
will all stay in touch!
·      
What are the “knottiest” problems you face right now? Is
this a moment for an unexpected creative and simple solution? Or is it time for
endurance?
·      
How do you process the Bible’s language around judgment and
mercy? How can judgment be good news? How is it that mercy is more effective at
drawing you to God?
·      
Consider your calling to be a blessing in the world. Where
is that most difficult for you right now?
·      
How are you the weed in your own garden? In what ways do you
need to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present
themselves?
Giving
Back to God
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fearful time
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              Doxology
– Traditional
              Prayer
by Terri Butoi
Prayers
       Include joys & concerns in chat
       Joy pics:
·       Mission
Week
·       Open
House
       Prayers
Hymn,
sois la semilla, 583 vv 1, 3 (Joan)

Blessing