ANNOUNCEMENTS

Good morning, everyone!
Welcome to our 36th online service.
We hope and pray that it is a blessing to you!

We are now worshiping both at home and in person.  We will continue to post Sunday services indefinitely and want you to stay safe!  Mary and Joanna are working mostly from home.  Tanae is updating our Facebook page, while Rebecca is in charge of our Instagram page and Jack has adopted our Twitter account.  Every day we add a new post right here on the website that automatically pops up on Facebook and Twitter as well.  If you missed any of this week’s posts, just scroll down to see them!

Our Thrift Shop is open Saturdays only; please contact Tracy to help on Saturdays or anytime during the week.  Wednesday morning Bible study (led by Rich) meets at 10 a.m. and Wednesday evening Bible study (led by Steve) at 7 p.m.

CALL TO WORSHIP

God remains in every season,
Through every change in our lives.
AS THE AIR GROWS EVER COLDER,
GOD STAYS NEAR TO WARM OUR HEARTS.

SHOEBOX DEDICATION

THANK YOU JESUS,
FOR ALL SHOEBOXES
GIVEN IN PERSON AND ONLINE.
THANK YOU FOR THOSE WHO GIVE
AND FOR THOSE WHO WILL RECEIVE.
BLESS THESE GIFTS AS THEY TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD.
MAY THEY LEAD TO EXPRESSIONS OF JOY AND FAITH.
MAY CHILDREN FEEL THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST
AND THE BLESSINGS OF CHRISTMAS
THROUGH THESE GIFTS.  AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: 2 Corinthians 9:7

God loves a cheerful giver.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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.

OPENING SONG:  “Breathe”

Next Sunday our little band will be back together as Tanae is home finishing her quarantine this week!  Here’s a video recorded earlier this summer of Lee, Tanae and Rich leading worship with “Breathe.”  Welcome home, Tanae!

CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER
(Note: Add your own prayers at the beginning or end)

Lord Jesus, as the virus continues to rage and lockdowns return, we pray for your divine intervention.  Help us to be each other’s keepers: to practice safety measures so that others may live.  Keep us patient as we await the approval of a vaccine.  Encourage us with good news to counteract the bad.  Bolster us with hope.

Be with Sheri and Dan B. as they mourn the loss of their father Alan.  Thank you for Alan’s life here on earth and his new life in heaven.  May your Spirit be be those who miss him, wherever they may live.

Bless Marty, Janet, Eleanor and Ursula as they continue to recover from surgery; may every day bring new strength.  Be with Jane, Barbara and Liz in their battle with cancer; help them to see reasons for hope in the midst of fear, health in the midst of illness, and your loving presence in all circumstances.

We pray for others in our church family who are going through times of need:  for Amy, Pat, Jim, Sue, Joan, Lois, Dannie, Kathleen, Lily, Ken, Bunny, Dawn, Harriet, Diane, Laurie & Steve, Paul, and Ruth; for all members of our extended family who are suffering; for this nation and for the world.

We come to you now in silent prayer …

Lord, as you know what is written in our hearts,
Attend now to our spirits, we pray in your name, Amen.

HYMN:  “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone”) by Pentatonix

The new #1 Christian song in America is a new version of Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), which was itself a new version of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace.”  It’s a beautiful rendition, and wait ’til you hear the high notes at the end of the song!

SCRIPTURE LESSON:  Zechariah 4:6-7, 8-10, TEV/NLT

The angel told me to give Zerubbabel this message from the Lord: “You will succeed, not by military might or by your own strength, but by my spirit. Obstacles as great as mountains will disappear before you. You will rebuild the Temple, and as you put the last stone in place, the people will shout, ‘Beautiful, beautiful!’”

“Zerubbabel has laid the foundation of the Temple, and he will finish the building. When this happens, my people will know that it is I who sent you to them. They are disappointed because so little progress is being made. But they will see Zerubbabel continuing to build the Temple, and they will be glad.”

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

SUNDAY MEDITATION (Video followed by modified print version)

Big things often have small beginnings.

Zerubbabel has returned to Jerusalem after the exile and is trying to rebuild God’s Temple.  Every day he comes out with his trowel and his bricks and goes to work.  But the people are disappointed that it’s taking so long.  There’s no indication that they’re helping; they seem to stand around saying, “Hey, Zerubbabel, when are you going to finish?”  But it doesn’t faze him.  Every day he comes out again and goes to work.  From day to day, there doesn’t seem to be any progress, but slow progress is different from no progress.  Eventually he has a foundation.  In three years he will have a Temple.

The angel says to Zerubbabel, “you will succeed, not by military might or by your own strength, but by my spirit.  Obstacles as great as mountains will disappear before you.”  The New Living Translation reads, “Do not despise these small beginnings.”

Last week I had an amusing exchange with a friend at the beach.  He was holding up his phone showing people dancing in Manhattan after the election.  “Isn’t this great?” he exclaimed.  But soon he added, “but I don’t know how anyone is going to be able to fix this country.”  Elapsed time from hope to despair:  55 seconds.  So I mentioned that there was a vaccine on the way.  “Yes, but who’s going to take it?” he responded.  Elapsed time:  1 second.  “Well at least it’s a beautiful day,” I said.  “Yes, but it’s going to rain later next week,” he said.  Elapsed time:  0.1 seconds.

It’s going to take time to sort out our political mess.  It’s going to take time to beat the coronavirus.  Big things have small beginnings.  Do not despise these small beginnings.

A number of years ago, some of the youth asked if we could put more youth in leadership positions.  I said yes.  Then they asked if we could have more modern music in church.  I said yes.  Then they asked if we could do it all that Sunday.  I said we could start on the music Sunday, but the leadership thing would have to go through a committee.  Their eyes glazed over.  I remembered the words on a plaque on my own pastor’s desk:  “God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee.”  The kids were disappointed because it looked like progress was going to take some time.  But look at how far we’ve come since then.  Do not despise these small beginnings.

A lot of big changes begin with ideas.  We could rename our church the “Yes, But Church,” and I’m sure it would start well because people would be curious.  That is, until we got to the message.  “Christ is risen!”  (“Yes, but that happened a long time ago.”)  “God is preparing a place for us in heaven!”  (Yes, but that’s in the future.”)  “God is in this place!”  (“Yes, but he doesn’t put anything in the offering plate.”)

Instead, I was thinking of how comforting it would be to rename our church the Safe Church: a place where people could be safe from the coronavirus, safe from judgment, safe from polarizing politics; a place where anyone could enter and feel like home.

And I have an idea for Congress as well; you’ve heard it before, but I’d like to expand on it today.  The idea is that members of Congress would be chosen the same way we do jury duty.  Everyone would be eligible, and they’d get screened, but no money would be spent on campaigns and we’d actually have a representative Congress.

Imagine the news report:  “Well, we finally have our government by the people and for the people.  Our first new Congress includes farmers, nurses, teachers, bakers, police officers, a choir director, one minor celebrity (a Baldwin brother), some retail clerks, some single moms, a DJ and some construction workers.  48 nationalities are represented, and the average age is 45.

“On their first day, they started debating over whether to get paper or plastic, and people were worried.  Then they started debating what kind of topping to get on their pizzas for lunch.  But after they all had pizza ~ half pepperoni and half pineapple ~ they passed a stimulus bill.  On their first day.

Big things often have small beginnings.  During the pandemic, we’ve seen some signs of trends that may continue after the pandemic: sparks that might be fanned into flames.  To review, these include a renewal of community spirit; an appreciation of essential workers, especially teachers and health care workers; cleaner air and water; and the time to think about our lives, reevaluate our priorities and count our blessings.  That’s where we are right now.

Zerubabbel had a plumb line, a trowel, and a brick.  It didn’t seem like much.  But that’s how things get started.  The whole Christian story began with a baby in a manger.  Jesus started with only 12 disciples.  Do not despise these small beginnings.

Our tendency is to greet good news with a “yes, but.”  Sometimes small things seem like small things: a seed, a baby, an idea.  But they grow into big things.  Who knows how big some of these movements will get?

This year, we’ve seen the entire music industry turn its sights to raising funds for benefit causes.  While out of work, musicians still preferred to raise money for other people.  I expect this compassion to continue.

On the season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy” this past week, a main character either died or had a near-death experience.  She saw her husband, who had died on the show five years earlier, waving to her from the opposite side of a beach.  The producers said, “We wanted to put that in because people need hope right now.”  What if TV took the lead from churches in giving people hope?  I’d be okay with that.

We’re also seeing a growing trend of stores who will be closed on Thanksgiving, and who are offering their Black Friday deals already and throughout the season.  We’ve wanted this to happen for a while, and now it’s here.

The church is also in a period of recalibration.  While we worship both in person and apart, we’re asking ourselves the big questions:  What is faith?  What is church?  The church seems to be finding its footing in community service: in loving God and loving our neighbors.  We haven’t had much time for dogma.  We may emerge from this pandemic with a radically different approach that returns us to our roots.  What we think as a curse may turn out to be a chrysalis.

Right now it’s easy to stand around and ask, “When will this be over?”  It’s easy to be disappointed that so little progress is being made.  It’s easy to say, “Yes, but.”

But we can also say, “Yes, but” to negativity.  “Yes, but the Lord says to Zerubbabel, ‘you will not succeed by our own power, but by my spirit. Obstacles as great as mountains will fall before you.”

Zerubbabel takes this encouragement to heart.  Every day he takes his trowel and lays a few more bricks.  After three years, his hope and determination pay off.  The prophecy comes true.  As the last stone is put in place, the people shout, “Beautiful! Beautiful!”  Only then do they realize that it was not the work of Zerubbabel, but the Lord.

The rebuilding of the Temple started with one person, one trowel and one brick.  The task ahead seemed like a mountain.  The task ahead of us seems like a mountain as well, but faith can move mountains.  Big things often have small beginnings.  May the Spirit that sustained Zerubbabel sustain us as well.  Amen.

OFFERING

Please use this time to make out a check to the church (Sayville United Methodist Church, 164 Greene Avenue, Sayville NY 11782).  Thank you to all who have been contributing during this time, and helping the church to pay its bills!  As you write, please enjoy Josh Wilson’s “Dream Small.”

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Thank you, Lord, for the hearts of cheerful givers.  Thank you for their generosity in a time of crisis.  Thank you for blessing us with the resources to meet our financial needs.  Thank you for giving so that we might follow Your example.  Amen.

BENEDICTION

As we go forth, may we do so not in fear, but in hope.  May we remember that although the battle may be long, God has already won the war.  May our spirits be uplifted by his own, and may we always feel the sunshine of His eternal love.  Amen.

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Thank you to Kaitlyn and Lee for helping with today’s online service!
And thank you for worshiping with us!  We wish you God’s healing and hope!