Below please find the video of today's worship service. Today was supposed to be my day off, so we read Chapter 34 of WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING by BRIAN MCLAREN.
Focus scripture is included in the video.
Attached is the video. Scripture readings are included in the video!
Have a blessed Easter Day!!!
On March 11, I was the last pastor to be able to preach for the 2020 Lenten Sermon Series by the Collegeville-Trappe Ministerium. Due to the Pandemic, all other services had to be cancelled. Below is a video of me "preaching" the sermon from that day for all of you from my office.
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. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
Sadly, the video of the Palm Sunday service crashed while it was converting and was lost for good. There will be no recording of the Palm Sunday service. However, we hope that you will join us for our Maundy Thursday service. Log in and call in information is on the website. Our hope is that the service will record.
Matthew 6:19-7:12 - New Revised Standard Version
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 6:19-7:12 - Contemporary Version
“There are two paths and two gates before you. Go in through the narrow gate not the wider one, just because it seems easier.
What I mean is: Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
“Along the way, watch out for false prophets or preachers who smile a lot and tell you everything you want to hear. They are more interested in accolades and in what you can do for them than they are vested in your salvation. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.
“You will recognize false teachers by their fruits. You don’t find sweet, delicious grapes growing on thorny bushes, do you? You don’t find delectable figs growing in the midst of prickly thistles. People and their lives are like trees. Good trees bear beautiful, tasty fruit, but bad trees bear ugly, bitter fruit. A good tree cannot bear ugly, bitter fruit; nor can a bad tree bear fruit that is beautiful and tasty.
And what happens to the rotten trees? They are cut down. They are used for firewood.
Remember this: A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.
“Knowing the correct words—saying ‘Master, Master’ or “Lord, Lord,” for instance—doesn’t mean that you truly know me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.
I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You got it wrong. All you did was use me to make yourselves important.’
I won’t be impressed.
“These words I speak to you are foundational words; they are words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
“But if you just read my words but don’t try to understand them or if you are listening but not hearing what I am saying - and don’t work my words into your life, you are like a foolish carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
With this, Jesus concluded his address.
The crowd was both surprised and in awe as they burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this.
His teaching was nothing like that of other religious teachers, but it was clear that he was speaking truths.
Matthew 6:19-7:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)Concerning Treasures19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[b] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Sound Eye22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Serving Two Masters24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.[c]
Do Not Worry25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[d] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[e] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[f] and his[g] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Judging Others7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[h] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor,[i] ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[j] eye.
Profaning the Holy6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
Ask, Search, Knock7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The Golden Rule12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Here is the video of the Call to Worship, Confession and Assurance, Contemporary Scripture Reading, and Sermon.
Music by our Organist Skyler - for your enjoyment
The video below was recorded in my office at church. I tried to record it in the sanctuary but the sound was not great when done with a cellphone.
I have to admit - I absolutely dislike video - even more so than audio recording myself. Being recorded makes me feel funny and so I am asking for grace - a lot of grace - for the apparent awkwardness. (and the two typos in the video that I can't fix "after the fact". Thank you!
Matthew 6:1-18 Contemporary Interpretation (Compiled and edited using The Message, Common English Bible, and The Story)
Matthew 6:1-18 Contemporary Interpretation
Please don’t practice your religion in front of people, making a performance of it to draw their attention. It might make for good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
“When you do something for someone else, to help them out, don’t call attention to yourself. Don’t be like those who treat prayer meetings and street corners alike as a stage, acting compassionate if someone is watching. They are just playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
“And when you come before God – meaning when you pray - don’t turn THAT into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! In all seriousness - God doesn’t sit in a box seat just ready to applaud you.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t even be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense God’s presence and grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors and books that tell you how to pray. Don’t listen to them. Yes, they can be helpful, but you don’t need all those formulas and programs and advice. And you don’t need to learn any new techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your holy parent that you are dealing with, and God knows better than you what you need. God knows it even before you every say it, but God still loves to hear you!
With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Mother and Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best--
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals a day
– no more, no less.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You are in charge!
Let Your kingdom be,
and let it be powerful and glorious forever.
Make it so !
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You will never truly know the forgiveness of God if you don’t also forgive others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from experiencing God’s forgiveness – not because God doesn’t grant it, but because you won’t even recognize it.
“When you practice a spiritual disciple that makes you abstain or fast from something, do not announce it loudly but just do it. Nobody needs to know what you are doing – it is between you and God. Showing off whatever it is that you are doing might make you look good to some people, but it won’t make you a saint. In short: If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. Smile.
God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. All that matters is that God won’t overlook what you are doing; God will take notice and will look kindly upon you.
I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
3 God won’t let your foot slip.
Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job.
4 No! Israel’s protector
never sleeps or rests!
5 The Lord is your protector;
the Lord is your shade right beside you.
6 The sun won’t strike you during the day;
neither will the moon at night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
God will protect your very life.[a]
8 The Lord will protect you on your journeys--
whether going or coming--
from now until forever from now.
Pastor Suzanne Schwarz-Green is the pastor of Trinity Reformed Church, UCC, in Collegeville, PA.