"You Are gods:" What I Believe About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Capital Punishment

Speaker: Pastor Thomas

Bible Passage: Psalm 139, Psalm 82

Theme For the Week beginning September 6th, 2020:  “The Christian and Abortion, Euthanasia, and Capital Punishment  (Violence, Part 2)”

  • An EXCITING video service just for children (and kids at heart) is found at the end of this service. Just scroll down!  (Thanks, LifeChurch!)  

 

The Prelude:  We Prepare Ourselves to Worship God

 

 We Gather Together
  • If you have family worshipping with you, give everyone a hug. 
  • If you are alone, take a moment and imagine the arms of the Loving Lord wrapped around you.  Send thoughts of love to those most important to you. 
  • Then, find a spot at your chosen place of worship.  Light your candle(s). 
  • Be silent for a moment, asking God to open your hearts to every good gift that God has for you today.

 

We Open with Prayer

(Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

(If possible, please pray out loud):

Lord, make us instruments of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

 

We Sing a Song of Praise: UMH # 383, “This is a Day of New Beginnings”

(Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church, Boonville, MO)

(Please sing along or just listen to this beautiful song)

1 This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

2 For by the life and death of Jesus,
God’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference,
as faith and hope are born again.

3 Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
step from the past and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

4 Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

5 In faith we’ll gather round the table
to taste and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

 

We Call Each Other to Worship (inspired by 2 Corinthians 1:20-22)

(If possible, read out loud.  If you are not alone, take turns reading the light and the bold lines)

Lord, help us say “No”
to conflicts that show us at our worst
when you have made us
after your image and likeness

Lord, help us say “No” to the world
and “Yes” to you

Lord, help us say “No”
to empty words and hollow actions
when you have made us to be full of life
and to act with courage and hope

Lord, help us say “No” to the world
and “Yes” to you

Lord, help us say “Yes”
to peace, love and forgiveness
when the world offers us
only a heart of stone

Lord, help us say “No” to the world
and “Yes” to you. 

We Pass the Peace of God to Others

If you are with others in your home, give each other a hug, and pray for those who will not have any human touch today.

If you are alone, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind at least one person who needs a call or email or card.  Commit to following through on this as soon as this worship service ends.  (If you have others in your household, they can do this, too).

 We Read the Bible (GWT):  Psalm 139:1-16; Psalm 82

(If possible, read all scriptures out loud)

Psalm 139:1-16

Lord, you have examined me, and you know me.
2 You alone know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You read my thoughts from far away.
3 You watch me when I travel and when I rest.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a single word on my tongue,
     you know all about it, Lord.
5 You are all around me—in front of me and in back of me.
    You lay your hand on me.
6 Such knowledge is beyond my grasp.
    It is so high I cannot reach it.

Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
    Where can I run to get away from you?
    If I go up to heaven, you are there.
       If I make my bed in hell, you are there.
    If I climb upward on the rays of the morning sun
        or land on the most distant shore of the sea where the sun sets,
10        even there your hand would guide me
            and your right hand would hold on to me.
11     If I say, “Let the darkness hide me
        and let the light around me turn into night,”
12         even the darkness is not too dark for you.
            Night is as bright as day.
            Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You alone created my inner being.
      You knitted me together inside my mother.
14 I will give thanks to you
      because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.
      Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
      when I was being made in secret,
      when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was still an unborn child.
      Every day of my life was recorded in your book
        before one of them had taken place.

Psalm 82

God takes his place in his own assembly.
    He pronounces judgment among the gods:
2“How long are you going to judge unfairly?
    How long are you going to side with wicked people?” Selah

Defend weak people and orphans.
    Protect the rights of the oppressed and the poor.
Rescue weak and needy people.
    Help them escape the power of wicked people.

Wicked people do not know or understand anything.
    As they walk around in the dark,
        all the foundations of the earth shake.
I said, “You are gods.
    You are all sons of the Most High.
 You will certainly die like humans
        and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God!
    Judge the earth, because all the nations belong to you.

We Testify to God’s Grace:    “What Can I Do Today?

(by Cecilia Kammire, North Carolina; The Upper Room, March 27, 2020)

Every day when I turn on the news, I see horrific stories of destructive wars, persecution, and mass shootings occurring around the world. Not only do these events anger me, but they also tempt me to lose faith in the goodness of humanity. I begin to wonder, Why does God let evil harm the lives of so many?

After I began earnestly praying for peace, God showed me that it is my responsibility to make the world better in whatever ways I can. Instead of allowing the evil of others to form violent thoughts in my mind, I can focus on doing the small things that God asks of me. Instead of resenting those whose lives are spent spreading evil, I can remember that the Lord said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” (Rom. 12:19, KJV).

We are all affected in some way by atrocities that occur around the globe. Instead of focusing on the bad in the world and using violence to fight violence, we can focus on our ability to spread love and goodness. We can find comfort in knowing that God’s righteousness will be the final word of justice. Now when I become enraged and discouraged by an attack on humanity, I think, What can I do today to spread a little more of God’s love?

(Do you have a testimonial you’d like to share here during future services?  Send your story to thomas@hopefortulsa.com)

 

We  Sing a Song of Devotion: “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”

(Performed by Matt Redman)

Please play the music video and use the verses below to sing along or just reflect.

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Oh! Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

We Hear the Sermon from Pastor Thomas
Sermon — “You Are gods:”  What I Believe About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Capital Punishment
Series — “Confessions of a Church Pastor:  Violence, Part 2”

(NOTE:  The statement on these issues from the Book of Discipline’s Social Principles can be found attached to the end of my sermon. This document can be downloaded from a link near the top of this webpage, just below my sermon video.)

 

We Pray to the Lord

To receive the prayer email, please reach out to healing@hopefortulsa.com

(If possible, please pray out loud)

 God, today I (we) pray . . .

    • for the people of Hope United Methodist Church, and especially …
      • We remember with thankfulness the life of Brenda Stage and we pray for her family and friends.
      • We remember with thankfulness the life of Barbara Roderick and we pray for her family and friends.
      • We remember with thankfulness the life of Richard Bachelder and we pray for his family and friends.
      • We remember with thankfulness the life of Jerry Robison and we pray for his family and friends.
      • We pray for Suzanne Pfeifer and Elinor Bartleson.
      • We pray for our members and friends who are in nursing homes and rehab centers.
    • for those who suffer and those in trouble, and especially…
    • for the concerns of this local community, and especially…
    • for the world, its peoples, and its civic leaders, and for the earth that you have given to our care.
    • for the battle we are facing with COVID-19, and especially those who are suffering and those who are responding, and for …                  
    • for the Church universal—its leaders, its members, and its mission. We especially pray for Bishop Nunn and for our new Superintendent, Connie Gibson.  We also pray for those churches that are now opening up and ask that those who gather would be wise and caring for each other.  We ask that you would protect all your congregations from harm and disease, and give us a mighty dose of your Spirit.  We pray for these and for other Christian leaders, including…
    • in communion with the saints, remembering all those who have gone on before us, and now form part of the Great Hall of Faith which encourages those of us who remain on earth.  Today we especially remember . . .
    • For my (our) needs today, which include…

Help us remember, Lord, that you are merciful and good, and quick to act in times of need.  We thank you for all of your many blessings that you graciously give to us and to the world you love.

Therefore, as your children on earth, we pray the prayer that our Brother Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name, 
thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those
who trespass against us. 

And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, 
and the power, and the glory, 
for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Gifts to the Lord

Even during COVID-19, the work of Hope United Methodist Church continues!  Please take a moment to remember all the many blessings God has given you, and then go to www.hopefortulsa.com/give to make an online donation.  It’s simple to sign up–just have your checkbook, debit card, or credit card ready to provide the requested information.  You just have to do this one time.  You can continue to use this online portal in the weeks ahead to bless your church and your Lord. 

If you’d like to mail a check instead, please make it out to “Hope UMC” and send it to:  Hope UMC, 12424 E. 31st St., Tulsa, OK  74146.  All donations are tax-deductible.  And thank you in advance!

 

Closing Hymn: UMH #707 — “Hymn of Promise” (sung by Debra Nesgoda, 2010)
[Stanza 1]
In the bulb there is a flower;
In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.
[Stanza 2]
There’s a song in every silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
Bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.
[Stanza 3]
In our end is our beginning;
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.
Benediction (adapted from a 1698 hymn)

(Please read together aloud):

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
may the praises of our Lord and God
our heart and tongue employ.  Amen.