Woodlawn CC

Woodlawn CC

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday Service 2018

Maundy Thursday Service: 3/29/18

Prelude:  Psalm 22 (video 1)

Call to Worship Pastor Roy Karlen

Let us hold fast to the faith we confess. For we have a great high priest who has gone into the very presence of God – Jesus, the Son of God. Our high priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy with our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a high priest who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. Let us be brave, and come forward to God's throne, where we find His grace. There we will receive mercy and find His forgiveness, love, and reconciliation.

Music: EL SHADDAI (video 2)

Opening Prayer & The Lord's Prayer: Jordan Beidler

Eternal God of mercy, we gather in awesome wonder to behold your loving gift of Jesus Christ, who came to bring the world to wholeness, and who was broken by it. Yet by his death, we live and know your unfailing love.  As we gather to recall and celebrate Christ's gift of fellowship at the table and to lament our frail failings of devotion, pierce our hearts with the conviction of our betrayals, reassure us of your abiding presence, and transform us by the Spirit of Christ, who taught us to pray, by saying...
Our Father...

Music:  When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (video 3)

New Testament Reading: John 13: 1-15 Pastor Roy Karlen
John 13:1-15  Revised Standard Version (RSV)
13 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. 6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Music: In Christ Alone (video 4)

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 53 Jordan Beidler
Isaiah 53  Revised Standard Version (RSV)
53 Who has believed what we have heard?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
    and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
    so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him;
    he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
11     he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous;
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Seder Video:  (video 5)

The Community Shares the Lord's Supper:

Communion Meditation: Pastor Roy Karlen
May this sacrament, Lord Jesus Christ, bring life to us and pardon for our sins, to us for whom you suffered your passion. For our sake, you drank gall to kill in us the bitterness that is the Enemy's. For our sake, you drank sour wine to strengthen what is weak in us. For our sake, you were spat upon to bathe us in the dew of immortality. You were struck with a frail reed to strengthen what is frail in us and give us life for all eternity. You were crowned with thorns to crown those who believe in you with that evergreen garland, your charity. You were wrapped in a shroud to clothe us in your all-enfolding strength. You were laid in a new grave to give us new grace in ages likewise new.

Prayers of Thanksgiving: Elders Jeff & Jodi Frank
Prayer #1: Heavenly Father, show forth among us the presence of your life-giving Word and Holy Spirit, to sanctify us and your whole church through this sacrament. Grant that all who share the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ may be one in him, and remain faithful in love and hope. And as this grain has been gathered from many fields into one loaf, and these grapes from many hills into one cup, grant, O Lord, that your whole church may soon be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.  Amen

Prayer #2: We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your great and manifold mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord, whose nature it is to always have mercy. Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your Son Jesus Christ and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us. Amen. 

Words of Institution: Pastor Roy Karlen
On the night that he was betrayed, our Lord took the loaf... and after blessing it and giving thanks, he broke it, saying “This loaf is my body broken for you, as often as you eat of it... do this in memory of me.”
In the same fashion after the meal, he took the cup, saying “This cup is the new covenant poured out in my blood, as often as you drink of it... do this in memory of me.”
The Lord's body broken for you 
The Lord's blood shed for you 
The Lord's table is set, all come now and eat. 

Sharing the Lord's Supper:

Video: “One Bread One Body” (video 6)

Prayer of Consecration: Pastor Roy Karlen

Loving Creator, we thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world.  We thank you for the mystery of your love as revealed to us in the cross.  We cannot understand all that the cross may mean, but we feel your hand upon us and today we give ourselves anew to you.

Love so amazing, so divine, demands our lives, our souls, our very being.  Take these lives, use them in your ministry of reconciliation to a world deeply in need of love and mercy and justice and righteousness.  Lord, here we stand as your disciples. Send us out today to do your work.  In Christ's name, we humbly pray.  Amen.

Passing the Flame: Amazing Grace (video 7)

John 19:28-30 (RSV) Pastor Roy Karlen
28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Please feel free to extinguish your candles and leave the Chapel at your leisure.

Postlude:  (video 8)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

April 2018 Newsletter Article

Here is the article that I prepared for the April Newsletter.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In Christ,

Pastor's Ponderings

Hello everyone, by the time you read this Easter will already be upon us or maybe even past.  It's such a wonderfully chaotic time of year for us as a Church.  So many events and so much going on... at times it's overwhelming and there is always the danger that Jesus gets lost in all the preparing for Jesus.  I pray that none of us gets so caught up in the actions that we forget the reason for the season... Christ's coming to this world to address the 'sin' problem and the promise that He will come again.

As I write this I'm preparing for worship at Opportunity Living tomorrow, then we have worship Thursday night for Maundy Thursday, then the Cross Raising on Good Friday, and of course then comes Easter Sunday and all the activity of this most blessed day.  Perhaps you're reading this article on Easter morning, if so don't forget the Sunrise Service at 7 am, the breakfast at 8:15, the Easter Egg Hunt at 9 am, and of course Easter Sunday Worship at 10 am.  We will be baptizing three members of the Kuhlers family that morning and what a wonderful event baptisms always are!  Jared, Stephanie, and William will be joining our membership rolls and we are so very blessed to have them.  That morning we will also have special music by Nathan & Katie Burley, and a solo by Eric Holm.  We are so blessed to have such talented souls among us!  Thank you to Nathan, Katie, and Eric for sharing your gifts with us.

I also want to thank everyone who took part in the 24 hours of Prayer.  This is such a wonderful tradition and ministry here at Woodlawn. Thank you all for your devotion and for being genuine 'Prayer Warriors'!  God bless you all.

During the month of March, we had so many, many things going on and that along with the last snow has made it an interesting month.  We need to thank Clyde Westcott once more for all the snow removal he's done, let's hope with the coming of Easter that we are now past the need for the snow blower.  Thank you, Clyde!  

Among all the preparation for Easter, worship services, the meetings, the youth group, the various counseling sessions, the baptism classes, a funeral for a non-member, I also took in a two day 'Church Security' training seminar along with Clyde Westcott, Bill Hungate, and Jesse Gorden.  Clyde and I attended both days and Jesse and Bill each attended one of the days.  It was a very interesting seminar and we will be working towards adapting and adopting some of the insights that we gained.  I also purchased a couple of books (never put me in a room with books for sale) and a couple of videos which will serve as reference material for any changes we might make in church policy and procedures.

Starting on Thursday, April 5th, we will be having a weekly 'Contemporary Worship' service at 7 PM in the Chapel.  This service will be more casual and contemporary in nature.  If you have friends or family who might be more receptive to this kind of environment, please invite them to come and check out this new service time and style. Hopefully, this service will meet a need in the community, remember absolutely all are welcomed! 

Plans are being made for the Concert this Summer, so mark your calendars for July 21st and start telling everyone to plan to come and take in a great night of music and fun.  The concert is free so why wouldn't everyone want to come?  Remember to talk it up!  This year we have a whole new line-up and we'll be hosting three acts instead of just two, plan to be there... it will be a great event!

During April, I will be attending the “Prairie Pastors Conference” in Omaha from April 16th to the18th. This is a gathering of American Baptist Ministers from all over the Midwest.  Then on April 28th, I and several others will be attending in Des Moines a training seminar on grief given by Stephen Ministries.  These events along with the “Church Security” seminar will likely take care of most if not all the continuing education requirements that I will have for 2018.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter, a wonderful time of family dinners, coloring eggs with children and grandchildren, and just doing all those wonderful holiday things... but, remember to recognize and relay to your family why we are doing all these things... we do them because the Tomb was empty...

John 20:1-2 The Empty Tomb
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Always remember that we follow a risen Savior, a living God, who loves us so much He sent His own Son into this world to ensure that each of us can escape spiritual death and reside with Him in all eternity...  Praise God!

Be a blessing to someone today!  Pastor Roy

so... which crowd are you in?

This past Sunday was of course "Palm Sunday" the day when we recall and celebrate Christ's entry into Jerusalem at the time of Passover.  He came riding in upon a donkey, an animal commonly used in that culture by royalty when coming into an area peacefully.  When coming into an area as conquerors, they would come riding upon a horse in a display of warlike intentions.  Clearly, Jesus was sending a message as well as fulfilling scripture.

Zechariah 9:9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Coming Ruler of God’s People
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

In their wonderful book "The Last Week", Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan (The Last Week) talk about the two crowds in the story of Jesus last week on Earth.  The first crowd the crowd that we read about in the Lectionary for this week's service, and the crowd that appears before Pilate and ask for Barabba's release over Jesus. Borg and Crossan maintain that it is not made up of the same demographic in the Jewish population.  After reading their book, I was inclined to agree with them, but lately, I've started to question this perhaps too 'easy' conclusion.  The problem is that it releases the crowd of culpability in the death of Christ.  The crowd isn't fickle, it's a different crowd... But, like I said it's perhaps just a bit too convenient and maybe even too clever by half.  

The problem was that Jesus wasn't who they wanted, they wanted a conquering King, somebody who would come in and kick the Romans to the curb so to say.  Here comes Jesus, looking so very promising in the incident at the Temple and then he just lets himself be arrested without so much as putting up a struggle. As a conqueror, this guy is a sad disappointment, to say the least.  In the courtyard of Pilate, the crowd wants the man of 'strength' the warlike Barabbas.  Barabbas had to be an insurrectionist; the Romans basically only crucified two classes of people insurrectionists and run-away slaves.  Barabbas likely was the leader of a group and the other two men crucified with Jesus were probably his followers.

The crowd wants the man of violence, they turn from the man of peace to the man who had apparently killed in the insurrection. One could even speculate that Barabbas was another Messianic figure (there were several in Jesus' time). Barabbas would literally mean "the son of the father", so the crowd opted for the "son of the father" that was a man of violence rather than the "son of the Father" that was a man of peace. One can also wonder how long Barabbas lived after being released, I would speculate not long, the Romans weren't big on allowing insurrectionists to just walk around.  That was what caused Rome to want to kill Jesus, a man of peace or not, he was a trouble-maker and Rome wanted nothing to do with him.

All too often in life, we behave like the crowd(s).  We're all excited when asking God for something, but when things don't seem to us to work out the way we'd planned, we turn on God and we too cry 'Crucify Him'...  So, which crowd are you in?

Be a blessing to someone today!

In Christ's Love & Joy,
Photo by Christian Begema
John 12:12-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.

Mark 11:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Matthew 27:15-26  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Barabbas or Jesus?
15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus[b] Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”[c] 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”[d] All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[e] see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

a) Matthew 27:16 Other ancient authorities lack Jesus
b) Matthew 27:17 Other ancient authorities lack Jesus
c) Matthew 27:17 Or the Christ
d) Matthew 27:22 Or the Christ

e) Matthew 27:24 Other ancient authorities read this righteous blood, or this righteous man’s blood

Psalm 118:25 King James Version (KJV)

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

Zechariah 9:9  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Coming Ruler of God’s People
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,

    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

John 12:27-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Speaks about His Death
27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people[a] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah[b] remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.

a) John 12:32 Other ancient authorities read all things
b) John 12:34 Or the Christ

Monday, March 26, 2018

Committal Service for Henry Smith, Saturday March 24th, 2018

Committal Service for Henry Smith – Sat. March 24th, 2018

We have gathered here today to praise God and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life of Henry Smith. We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss. May God grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow hope, in death resurrection.

O God, who gave us birth, you are ever more ready to hear than we are to pray.  You know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in asking. Give to us now your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.  Help us to live as those who are prepared to die. And when our days here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you.  AMEN

Let us hear now a reading from the Old Testament:
Psalm 121
We lift our eyes up to the hills. From where does our help come?
Our help comes from the Unseen One, The Maker of the heavens and the earth,
Who will not cause our feet to stumble, Our protector who never sleeps.
The Abundant One preserves us, The Watchful One is our shelter and support.
The Vigilant One guards us from evil, And keeps our Life-breath safe.
The Shepherd guards our going out and our coming in from now unto eternity.

Let us hear now a reading from the New Testament:
Revelation 21:1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
" See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."
And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Words of Remembrance from Henry's daughter Vickie:
Henry was born on March 26th, 1924 to Herman and Vera Smith.  He grew up on a farm with his 5 brothers and 5 sisters.  Henry graduated from Glidden High School and enlisted in the United States Army/Air Force.  He served as a mechanic from 1941 to 1945.  Upon return he dated and married Donna Lasher June 6th, 1948.  Henry had 2 children, Terry and Vickie.

Henry led a simple life.  He is remembered as a hard worker who loved doing carpentry.  He was a quiet man, but had a good sense of humor.  He taught his son, Terry, how to work on cars and they enjoyed hunting and fishing together.  He passed his passion for music and dancing onto his daughter, Vickie.  Henry enjoyed playing cards and watching Westerns on TV.  He also enjoyed fishing on the Raccoon River and from time to time he was known to pull a slot machine handle or two. 

Henry was a loving father and grandfather of 7 and great-grandfather of 5.  He will be missed but never forgotten.

Let Me Go
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little, but not for long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that once we shared
Miss me, but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know.
Laugh at all the things we used to do
Miss me, but let me go.

Prayer of Committal:
O God, all that you have given us is yours... today into your hands, O merciful God, we commend the spirit of your child Henry Smith.
We acknowledge you Lord, and we humbly beseech you, receive into your grace Henry... a sheep of your own fold... a lamb of your own flock... a sinner of your own redeeming.  Receive Henry into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints of light. Amen

Please join me now in the Lord’s Prayer using the word sin:  Our Father...

May you be at ease. May you be free from suffering.
May you be healed. May you know joy and lightness of being
May you dwell in comfort and compassion.
May you be a source of comfort and compassion for all whom you meet.
Go now in our Lord's unending peace.  Amen.

Henry was recognized with the presentation of a flag to his family in commemoration of his service in the military.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

John 3:11-21 "Look Upon Your Sin"

This last week I preached over the remaining text from John 3:1-21, which was from the 11th to the 21st verses.

The focus was that when we come face to face with Christ upon the cross that we come face to face with our own sin.  I can tell you from personal experience that this is not at all a comfortable experience.  The sermon isn't overly long, so please take a few moments and give it a listen.

I've been swamped this week with spending Monday and Tuesday at a Church Security Seminar down in Des Moines, it was a thoroughly interesting conference, but missing two days has really backed me up in what was already a hectic time period.

So with that, I will just say... "Be a blessing to someone today"!

In His Love, Grace, and Glory,

John 3:11-21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you[a] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[b] 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[c]

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

a) John 3:11 The Greek word for you here and in verse 12 is plural
b) John 3:13 Other ancient authorities add who is in heaven
c) John 3:15 Some interpreters hold that the quotation concludes with verse 15

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Funeral for Jessica Pickering – March 2, 2018

Funeral for Jessica Pickering – March 2, 2018

Prelude:    “If I Die Young” - The Bar Perry

“All Please Rise”

God Looked Around His Garden
God looked around His garden
And found an empty place.
He then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb,
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered, "Peace be thine."
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn't go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home. 

Today we gather to celebrate the life of, and to mourn the passing of, Jessica Pickering.  A beautiful flower who today blesses the gardens of Heaven.

Please all be seated.

Opening Prayer:
God who creates and re-creates us, God who laughs with us and weeps with us, God who walks with us each step of the way, carrying us when our strength fails, we gather today with hearts breaking with grief, with voices crying out words of lament. And so we ask that you would move in and around us today. As we gather to remember and say goodbye to Jessica, be the shoulder we can cry on, the arm we can lean on, help us to see through the veil of tears that there is hope for life continuing. Gracious God, as mysterious and wondrous as you are, you are also a compassionate God, as attentive as a hen with her chicks, as tender as a mother with a newborn child, as watchful as a shepherd with the sheep, as protective as a father’s warm embrace. and so we come into your presence to grieve Jessica's death, asking that your Holy Spirit would be here to ease our pain. As we give thanks for all that she added to the lives of those around her, as we release our tears and sorrow, as we say our goodbyes, remind us that we are not alone, for You are with us...  In Jesus’ all-gracious and all-loving name we pray, Amen.

Music: Bell Choir - “Be Still My Soul”

Reading from the Old Testament:
Psalm 23  King James Version (KJV)
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Reading from the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
4:16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Music:  “Amazing Grace” – Erin Blair

Message:  Pastor Roy Karlen – Woodlawn Christian Church

On February 23rd, Jessica Pickering at the all too young age of 28, passed from this world in which we live and into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior.  Jessica was born to Tim & Tracy Kelso on June 29th, 1989 in Carroll, IA.  She graduated from High School here in Lake City in 2007 and on September 3rd, 2011 Jessica married Nick Pickering right here in this Sanctuary at Union Church.  Jessica was involved in the Iowa SIDS organization, she worked at Kids Spot, and she was a member of Union Church.

Jessica leaves behind in this world her devoted husband Nick, and her three children; Emily who is 9, Bentley who is 5, and Cooper who is just 22 months old.  She has gone on to join in Heaven, her daughter Mariah who passed away as an infant in 2010.

The other day while visiting with Nick and his mother Karen, I asked them for words to describe Jess to me.  I was greeted with a torrent of words; that she had a heart of gold, she was unselfish, always placing others needs above her own, compassionate, caring, loving, that she had unconditional love not only for her children but for others in need, she was a peacemaker, a great mother, a true lady, she was a good wife, and Nick's best friend, she was his greatest supporter, his true soulmate, she was always positive even in the darkest hours, how she was always laughing even during her illness, she was brave and courageous, a fighter, who never gave up.  Some of her favorite lines were “we've got this” and “expect the unexpected”.

Jess was as I said Nick's greatest supporter, she was always up to try something, whether it be the semi or motorcycle, or just riding around in the wagon pulled behind the lawn mower.  She apparently trusted Nick with all her heart and Karen told me how Jessica just seemed to blossom after meeting Nick and how she became a true lady.

Nick told me that he and Jess first met at a party being held by a mutual friend on Valentine's Day in 2008.  From that chance meeting grew a love story and what Nick and his mother described as being a bit like Bonnie and Clyde... without the criminal activity of course, or Thelma and Louise... only different of course... since Nick's a guy and all...  But, seriously what a great way to start a love story, meeting on Valentine's Day, if Hollywood would write such a tale it would almost seem too contrived... but, instead real life wrote this story for Nick and Jessica.

They lived a lot of life in those ten short years, having four children together, seeking new adventures together, and at times having many miles between them while Nick was off driving truck.  But Nick told me that neither of them had any regrets.  You'll have to hear the rest of the stories from Nick later at the lunch or maybe even years from now while he sits and remembers the love of his life.

At the end of her life, Jessica worked hard to comfort Nick, preparing him for what she realized was coming all too soon.  She wasn't worried about herself, she was only concerned with Nick and their children.  As she drew nearer to her passing, she began talking about Mariah the daughter she and Nick lost to SIDS on March 13, 2010, at the age of only four months.  These are definitely stories that you need to hear from Nick's lips, stories of how Jess told him she could see Mariah, that she had grown, but how then as Jessica slipped gently into our Lord's Kingdom she seemed to be cradling a child in her arms.  Stories that bring a tear to the eyes of even the most hardened heart, but stories that should comfort us all... knowing that our loved ones do indeed go to a much more beautiful place.  A place where they are reunited with loved ones who have passed, and where we as followers of Christ believe they are reunited with our all-loving, all-forgiving, and all-gracious God.  Praise God for the testimony and witness that Jessica left for us all.  It is truly, truly, a wonderful story.

Jessica was able to rally and be alert at the end of her life and to talk to her family and friends providing the closure that all too often alludes us when loved ones are in failing health.  What a wonderful blessing Jessica was able to give to Nick and their children.

Nick and his family, especially Emily, Bentley, and Cooper, will need all of our love and support for many, many years to come.  Please stay close to them, put your arms around them, and remind them that our God, who we all serve, loves them each so very, very much.  Remember... we are the hands, feet, the comforting shoulder, and the reassuring voice of our Lord Jesus, who is the Christ.  Praise God for you all.

I will share in closing what is one of my favorite verses, the words of the Apostle Paul as found in the first letter to the Church in Corinth.  I confess, it is one of my favorite passages for funerals, but... it is one I could hardly avoid using here today as we celebrate the love and life of Jessica Pickering.

1st Corinthians 13:1-13 (NRSV)
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Today we mourn the loss of a life taken far, far too soon, but we celebrate a life that burned brightly and left behind an endless legacy of love in the heart of her friends and family, especially her husband Nick and her beautiful young children.  Let us praise God for the life of Jessica.

The family wishes at this time to allow guests to come forward and share memories and stories about Jessica.  First, let us hear from Jessica's mother-in-law, Karen. 

Closing Instructions:
Following this service, the family invites you all to join them in further celebration of Jessica's life and a time of shared remembrances and closure, by gathering with them for lunch in the Church's fellowship hall.  On the tables in the hall, you'll find some sheets of paper or note-cards, these are provided for each of you who desires to write down a memory of Jess that you'd like to share with her children.  Perhaps a message that you'd like for them to know someday about their mother once they've grown.  Please help and share these memories and stories with the family... with Jess' children.  Thank you all.

At this time Emily would like to share a few words concerning her wonderful mother.

Letter to my Mother: Emily Pickering
“My Mommy” by Emily Pickering
My Mom was a awesome Mom.
She always had a good smile on her face.
But she also loved to give love.
She was always nice and kind.
She was always so happy for us and proud of us.
And she was always funny.
She always had a love a 'love you' in her.
Now I will read a poem that my Mom left for us.
Thank you.

Love You From Heaven: Poem by Hazel Birdsall
As I sit in heaven and watch you every day,
I try to let you know with signs I never went away.
I hear you when you’re laughing, and watch you as you sleep.
I even place my arms around you to calm you as you weep.
I see you wish the days away, begging to have me home.
So I try to send you signs so you know you are not alone.
Don’t feel guilty that you have life that was denied to me.
Heaven is truly beautiful, just you wait and see.
So live your life, laugh again, enjoy yourself, be free.
Then I know with every breath you take
You’ll be taking one for me.

An Angel - Author Unknown
An angel lived among us,
A gift from God above.
She showered us with kindness
And shared with us her love.
She cherished every moment
With the man who was her life;
Walking hand in hand together,
Facing life with all its strife.
She loved her children dearly,
Each one a different way,
Nestled close within her heart.
Though, now, she’s far away.
She’s gone to live with Jesus.
But, she’s here with us, today,
Smiling down on every one of us,
And telling us she’s O.K.

Closing Prayer:
Let us pray:
O God, our Strength and our Redeemer, Giver of life, and Conqueror of death, we open our hearts to you just as we are.  We celebrate your gift of life freely given, but are grieved by a sense of loss in the face of death.  The love which binds us to one another leaves us aching as ties are broken.  Accept our tears as emblems of devotion, and transform them into waters of life to nourish us in the days ahead.
We trust you.  We love you.  We know in Christ that your love is everlasting.  Nothing can separate any of us from your abiding care.  With you is eternal life.
With confidence, we now entrust Jessica to your unfailing love and overflowing goodness.  Through the power that raised Christ from the dead to live eternally with you, lift up this, your servant, to life fulfilled beyond our imagining.  We give you but your own, enfold her in your everlasting arms, hold her for she is your child.
Now strengthen us, through the gift of your Spirit, to face into the future with confidence that you stand with us.  Grant that the changes of life may leave us stronger as we journey through life.
Reassured of your abiding presence, help us to knit more firmly the ties that bind us one to another.  Renewed by your love, help us to love in ever larger circles so as to embrace your people everywhere till at last we are all united eternally through Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Postlude:  “You Should Be Here” - Cole Swindell

John 3:1-10; Part One of a Two Part Sermon

This week I had planned to follow the Lectionary offerings and preach over John 14-21, but in preparing for the sermon I decided to back up a bit in the Gospel of John and start at the 1st verse in the 3rd Chapter.  I also had a major time constraint in that I knew that many of our congregants wanted to attend the 'Roast Beef Dinner' being served at the Methodist Church in nearby Lanesboro.  So, I decided to split away a bit of the verses and focus on just the first 10 verses.  Though, I did also back up into the 2nd Chapter of John and discuss the relationship of the story of the 'Cleansing of the Temple' and the 'Vist of Nicodemus'.  It is, in my opinion, an interesting possible twist to these two stories.  Perhaps next week I will spend a bit more time fleshing all of this out, for now, the week has already raced by and I need to move on to other tasks.

Please take a few moments to listen to the sermon (it's only about 7 minutes long). I do apologize, the last couple minutes were cut off when Gail's phone ran out of memory, but, the gist of the sermon remains.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In Christ,

John 3:1-21     New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
1  Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  2 He came to Jesus  by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”  3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.  12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.  21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Cleansing the Temple, John 2:13-22

Yesterday's sermon had to do with the telling in the Gospel of John about Jesus' cleansing of the Temple.  As most have noticed, there is a difference in the timing of John's version of the cleansing and the telling in the Synoptic Gospels.  John places the cleansing or clearing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and the Synoptics place it at the end where it is actually the culminating reason for Jesus' crucifixion.  I am not one to worry about, nor one that feels compelled to explain away these discrepancies, they are what they are, the various authors had their reasons for the order in which these events are recorded in their Gospels.  But, having said that I don't believe there were two cleansings, that's trying too hard to reconcile scripture and is in my opinion counter-productive.

The final tilt of the sermon was to address the 'New Temple', which is, of course, Jesus and His body.  The somewhat different point that I stressed was that we, as members of the body of Christ, are in effect also a part of this 'New Temple'.  The query that I made to the congregation was, "are you desecrating the Temple". Too often, we are indeed polluting the Temple with our thoughts, words, and deeds. What would (will) Christ's reaction be to the state of your little corner of the Temple?

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Grace,

John 2:13-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

John 4:19-26 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you[a] say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he,[b] the one who is speaking to you.”

Isaiah 1:11-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,[a]
    who asked this from your hand?
    Trample my courts no more;
13 bringing offerings is futile;
    incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
    I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals
    my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you stretch out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings
    from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.

Isaiah 56:7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer 
for all peoples.

Jeremiah 7:22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
22 For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Hosea 5:6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 With their flocks and herds they shall go
    to seek the Lord,
but they will not find him;
he has withdrawn from them.

Hosea 8:13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
13 Though they offer choice sacrifices,[a]
    though they eat flesh,
    the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity,
    and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.