Thoughts on carrying a cross, and people not knowing about Jesus…
Lord, you give us the joy of celebrating Easter again and again throughout this season. Give us also the joys of life in your service, and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In keeping with Governor Northam and Bishop Lewis, we will not be gathering in-person so long as there is a stay-at-home order. However, the Governor recently announced that Phase I of reopening the state is going into effect next Friday, and part of that phase includes churches reopening at 50% capacity. To be clear: We at Cokesbury, and the United Methodist Church in Virginia, is still discerning whether or not this is the right course of action in the present moment. Particularly considering that the zip-code surrounding Cokesbury has the highest number of cases of any zip-code in the state.
We will keep everyone updated as to our plans going forward and we will continue to provide online worship until it is safe for us to gather together in person again.
Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our immediate community.
Until we are back together in person, online giving can be made on our About page on the church website, cokesburyumc.church which will be linked in the video description for live worship as well as checks through the mail.
We’ve been sending out regular emails from the church about opportunities for online Bible Studies, devotionals, prayer requests, and updates on our local community. If you are not receiving those emails, and would like to, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hymn 249 – Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
Lord, you continue to give us more than we could ever deserve, and yet we are bold to pray that you would show us and remind us again how your Son, Jesus Christ, is the way, and the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way the leads to eternal life…
And as you taught us, so now we 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. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 7.55-60
But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.
Hymn 365 – Grace Greater than Our Sin
V1. Marvelous grace of our living Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
V2. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
V3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
V4. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?
Sermon: The Story We Didn’t Choose
Lord, in the mystery of dying and rising with Christ you have upended the world and brought life, new life, to your church. Breathe upon us again with your Spirit and give new life to your people, be with those who are not able to be with their families and friends this day, give us the strength and the wisdom to be the kind of people you’ve called us to be, and give us the hope to rejoice knowing that death has been defeated in you. Amen.
Offering – Reminder for online giving, through the mail, or the drop slot at the church.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Repentance or: Calling A Thing What It Is
A Christian is someone who says what a thing is, calls a spade a spade.
We don’t do much of that any more. Not with wanting to be all things to all people all the time. But, Christians have an obligation to love one another as followers of Jesus. Let’s say I have a gambling problem and I keep throwing away the resources that are vital for my family and my community. Someone must say to me, “What you’re doing is unfaithful.”
Christians need to be judged that way.
Christians need to speak the truth about what is right and wrong and good and evil in our society. We need to establish contexts where we can have real disputes with others. The conflicts will hurt and not everyone will always be happy with the result; but at least we’ll be talking about things that really matter.
The recent developments in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery have forced us, yet again, to confront the sin of racism. Chances are that no one watching this will ever grab a gun, jump into a truck, a chase a man jogging down the road and kill him, but all of us perpetuate the systemic racism in our community and in our culture.
This week, as much as is possible, take a look at what you are culturally consuming. How many books have you read by black authors? How many black actors are on the television shows you watch? If there are any, are they the heroes or the villains? Talk with a friend or a family member about how you see the effects of racism around you. Pray to the Lord and confess the ways you’ve been complicit in reinforcing stereotypes. If you hear someone say something this week that even slightly furthers racism, online or in person, don’t let it go without a conversation.
Again, it will probably hurt and it certainly won’t be easy, but at least we’ll be talking about something that really matters.
Blessing and Benediction