ANNOUNCEMENTS

Good morning, everyone!
Welcome to this week’s 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.  Tammy’s new Sunday school lesson can be found on our Sunday School page.  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!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Put away your stresses and fears,
YOUR WORRIES AND ANXIETIES.
For God is our strength, help, and salvation,
OUR LISTENING EAR, OUR SAVING GRACE.
Lay your sorrows before God; tell him your troubles,
AND HE WILL EASE YOUR MIND AND GIVE YOU REST.

UNISON PRAYER:

REDEEMER GOD,
WE HAVE RECEIVED THE EVENTS OF THIS PAST WEEK
WITH A MIXTURE OF ANGER, SADNESS AND SILENCE.
BE NEAR US, LORD, IN OUR STRUGGLES TO UNDERSTAND.

BE OUR GUIDE AND MAINSTAY,
SO THAT OUR ANGER MIGHT NOT LEAD US INTO SIN,
OUR SADNESS MIGHT NOT LEAD US INTO DESPAIR,
AND OUR SILENCE MIGHT NOT KEEP US FROM PRAYER.  AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: Psalm 62:8

Trust in God at all times, my people.  Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.

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:  “Seek Ye First”

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you, Allelu, Alleluia.
Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, Allelu, Alleluia.

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

Lord Jesus, in a time of turmoil, be our anchor.  Keep our minds from drifting away from your goodness.  Fix our hearts on your Holy Spirit.  Infuse our spirits with hope.

We pray for our troubled democracy, that it might turn its attention to you in order to receive your blessing.  May America once again be known as a city on a hill, a shining light, the land of the free, the home of the brave.  Remove the blight of selfishness and replace it with empathy.  Help us to pick up the pieces and build something new and beautiful.

We pray for all those suffering from COVID-19, especially for Scott and Suzanne; for Miki’s son Jeff, daughter-in-law Kelly, granddaughter Jillian and son-in-law James; and for Pastor Doug Jansen of Living Word Church.  God, we pray for miracles of recovery and grace.  We pray for those in mourning, that they may receive your comfort.

Bless Steve G. as he goes through back surgery this Thursday; may the surgery ease his pain not only now, but for years to come.  Please watch over Carol P.’s nephew Shawn as he awaits a lung transplant later this month.  Keep his spirits high and his heart calm, and be with his family as they go through this process together.

Bless Jane Y., Liz S., Laura S., Barbara G. and all who are battling cancer.  Eradicate these cancer cells from their bodies, and replace them with healthy cells.

We pray for others in our church family who are going through times of need:  for Jean, Ursula, Amy, Pat, Jim, Sue, Janet, Joan, Lois, Derek, Dannie, Kathleen, Marilyn, 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.

SONG:  Mitch Rossell, “2020”

A great song to start the new year, addressing all the country is going through right now ~ despite the fact that it was released a week before the chaos!

SCRIPTURE LESSONS from the GOOD NEWS BIBLE:

Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble. ~ Psalm 37:8

If you stay calm, you are wise, but if you have a hot temper, you only show how stupid you are.
~ Proverbs 14:29

If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin; and do not stay angry all day.  Don’t give the Devil a chance. Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.  And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad, for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.  No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. ~ Ephesians 4:26-27, 29-31

Remember this, my dear friends!  Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Human anger does not serve God’s purpose. ~ James 1:19-20

SUNDAY MEDITATION (Video followed by rearranged and slightly rewritten print version)

The British have a saying, “Keep calm and carry on.”  This is as close as they come to a national slogan, found on everything from cups to t-shirts, with hundreds of different versions, all beginning with the words, “Keep calm.”

It was not easy to stay calm this week, as COVID continued to reach new peaks and our democracy fell under siege.  I began to regret asking last week, “What if 2021 turned out to be worse than 2020?” although at the time it was a hypothetical question.  I still think things will turn around for the better this year, despite the rough start.

My original topic this week was getting through winter, but the new topic is about getting through the next ten days.  I suppose I should be thankful because after Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany, I was running low on sermon topics.  (Thank you, rioters?)

I’ve had a hard time keeping calm this week.  Like many of you, I’ve been going through the stages of grief: shock and denial, followed by anger and sadness.  I was angry at the president, angry at the rioters, and angry at the police for not shooting them.

Then I felt regret for having such angry feelings, and I felt sad about the damage being done to our country, all of it so unnecessary.  And I remembered hearing once that anger and depression are flip sides of the same coin, that they rely on the same energy, turned outward or inward.  So I decided to take an angry walk, and when I got to the Sayville Christmas tree, I actually did feel a little peace, and I remembered hearing a news story that said more Americans have been keeping their Christmas decorations up later this year, not out of laziness but out of a need for comfort.

“Don’t give in to worry and anger,” King David writes.  “It only leads to trouble.”  How true!  This week we saw an angry president, angry rioters, angry Americans and an angry Congress.  This anger lives in us as well.  David’s son Solomon takes up where his father leaves off, writing, “If you stay calm, you are wise, but if you have a hot temper, you only show how stupid you are.”

In the New Testament, Paul acknowledges that anger is unavoidable.  He doesn’t write, “Don’t get angry;” he writes, “If you become angry, don’t stay angry all day,” and in another translation, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”  Couples are told, “Don’t go to bed mad;” the same advice is good for single people.  As James writes, “Human anger does not serve God’s purpose.”

If anger and depression are flip sides of the same coin, then it’s best to pick another coin.  Joy would be nice, but seems too high to reach.  I’m trying to find my way to calm, to “keep calm and carry on.”

Christian radio has been amazing this week.  Many people think that Christian radio exists in a vacuum, but the opposite is true.  If you listened to Christian radio this week, you probably heard an acknowledgment of current events, followed by prayer and encouragement.  Many DJs spoke about the struggles they were going through, and played songs that addressed our feelings and fears: for example, Elevation Worship’s “I’m going to see a victory, for the battle belongs to the Lord.”

But what battle?  The battle between Democrats and Republicans?  The battle for control of Congress?  The battle between rioters and police?  No ~ the ages-old battle between human nature and the Holy Spirit, playing out on national TV and in the recesses of our hearts.  Those who gave in to their human nature made things worse.  Those who turned to the Spirit provided glimmers of hope.  For example, by showing restraint, the officers at the Capitol avoided a bloodbath.  On the Senate floor, some surprising politicians became heroes, if only, as David Bowie sings, “just for one day.”  Could good really triumph over evil?  Could selflessness really triumph over selfishness?  It could, if we allowed it.

Imagine for a moment that someone had given you nine presents for Christmas, and when they asked about them a couple weeks later, you said, “Oh, I haven’t looked at them, I just put them in the closet.”  They would certainly be sad.  The Holy Spirit has given us nine gifts, and James writes, “Do not make the Holy Spirit sad.”  These gifts are meant to be used, and we need them now more than ever.

Love ~ Remember how much God loves you, and how many people love you, and how many people you love.
Joy ~ Remember there is still joy in this world, despite all its broken surfaces.
Peace ~ Strive for peace in your soul, and make peace with every person you can.
Patience ~ Be patient; this won’t get better in a day or a week, but it will get better.
Kindness ~ Be kind to those around you; they really need it right now.  And don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well.
Goodness ~ There is still goodness in this world, and you can be part of it as well.  Resist evil; don’t become what you hate.
Faithfulness ~ Hold on to your faith, no matter what occurs.  God never lets go, through every doubt and every storm.
Gentleness ~ Be gentle with others and with yourself; we’re all on edge right now.
and Self-Control ~ Don’t give in to worry or anger.  Take every thought captive and turn it over to Jesus.  Let God’s peace rule your lives.  Keep calm and carry on.  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 Tanae playing “Be Thou My Vision.”

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Lord, please accept these our humble gifts, and lead us to use them in ways that honor you and your people.  We are grateful for all your blessings; our cups runneth over!  Amen.

BENEDICTION

As we go forth, may we do so restored, with courage for the days that lie ahead.  May we follow our God through every storm, and lift His name on high no matter what occurs.  And may God’s blessing of light and peace be upon us, now and forever, Amen.

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Thank you to Lee and Kaitlyn for helping with today’s online service!
And thank you for worshiping with us!  We wish you God’s blessing of peace.