A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Online Worship (July 5) Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (July 5) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701



Greeting From Pastor Robert




Call to Worship (Based on Today’s Gospel Lesson)

L: Jesus says to us, “Come, and I will give you rest.”

P: We long for a deeper relationship with God.

L: Jesus says  to us, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

P: We long for a deeper relationship with God.

L: Come to the waters and be renewed in mind, body, and spirit.


Hymn      Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above 




  1. Welcome & Passing the Peace
[Jordann Schach, who is one of our church members and helps with our youth ministry recently adopted this adorable rescue dog, Lucas. This is Lucas’s favorite spot to watch our online worship! Lucas invites you to greet one another, not by rubbing noses, but by simply barking, “The peace of Christ be with you!”]



Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance

Gracious and loving King, we come before you today to remember, to rejoice, and to revere you. You are the King of kings and Lord of lords and yet you also call us your friends. Thank you for freeing us from our sins through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for those times that we have taken our freedom for granted. Like the Psalmist, may we ever praise you forever and ever. Amen.

L: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

P: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

All: Thanks be to God!


Old Testament Lesson - Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67      
[Abraham has sent his head servant to Haran to find a wife of his own clan for Isaac. God has shown the servant that Rebekah is his choice. The servant has accepted the invitation of her brother to spend the night with her family. But before he will eat, he insists on telling the purpose of his journey.]



Psalter - Psalm 45:10-17           
[Psalm 45 is categorized as a “royal psalm” that extols the king of Israel and anticipates his upcoming wedding celebration.]



Special Music - Come Thou Almighty King
Athens First UMC, Chancel Choir (Recorded April, 2019)
[Like today’s Psalm, this anthem celebrates God’s kingly rule. Come thou almighty King!]



Sermon        A Psummer of Psalms: Psalm 45
                                      Rev. Robert McDowell


Sermon Discussion Questions
In what ways might these royal psalms like Psalm 45 remind us to pray for people who are in positions of power? 

Psalm 45 is used every March 25 (exactly 9 months before Christmas day) on the observance of “The Annunciation” which is a day on the church calendar that celebrates the announcement to Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus. This royal psalm reminds us that the child in her womb will become the long awaited King and Savior of the world.

Even though we are just beginning the month of July, still several months away from Christmas, think of a creative way that you might share the joy of the coming of Christ into the world with someone. How can you brighten their day with God’s love?

Pastor Robert offered three “R” verbs to remember whenever we come across a royal psalm such as Psalm 45 which is our Psalm for this Sunday. These are Remember, Rejoice, & Revere.

Remember - What helps you to remember our biblical faith history?

Rejoice - In what way, can you rejoice in knowing that God is King over all of creation?

Revere - Share some ways that we can revere God as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.


[As Pastor Robert mentioned in his sermon, there aren’t a lot of Psalm 45 verses that stand out since it’s about a king and his upcoming royal wedding. Pastor Robert is thinking about getting this mug for Penny to use at the house.]

Hymn                 He Is Lord

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer



Church News
[The following announcement slides below are to help us stay connected as a church especially since we are unable to gather in our church building for weekly worship. Please scroll down through the announcements, and our online service will continue with another video.]















Offering Our Gifts


Thank you for your gifts!!!
“Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.”  1 Chronicles 29:12

The Sacrament of Holy Communion
[Pastor Robert will invite us to partake of the bread and the juice.]



Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank you for this holy meal, O God and for leading us into a deeper communion with you. Send us forth from this Sacrament, nourished, renewed, and filled with your love. We pray this in the name of Jesus, our King. Amen.


Closing Hymn    God of the Ages



Benediction



Join us back here next Sunday (July 12) for our online worship service.

[For previous online worship services, click here.]

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Online Worship (June 28) Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (June 28) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701



Greeting From Pastor Robert




Call to Worship 

L: We cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

P: How long must we bear the weight of worry, guilt, and sorrow?

L: The Lord answers, “Trust in my steadfast love.”

P: Let us sing to the Lord and rejoice in his salvation.


Hymn       Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah




  1. Welcome & Passing the Peace
[Pastor Robert and Penny’s westies, Lulu and Blu are known to attend some of our church events. In this photo taken a couple of years ago, they are welcoming our Kappa Phi college students back to campus. We are invited during this online worship service to welcome each other with the peace of Christ.]



Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance

Holy One in whom we bear our souls, we take comfort and courage in your presence. We confess those times when we have allowed the past to hold us captive instead of embracing the future you have in mind for us. Help us to lovingly put you before all else as we travel the corridors of uncertainty. Lead us in the way that leads to life. Amen. 

L: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

P: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

All: Thanks be to God!


Old Testament Lesson  Genesis 22:1-14  Rick Seiter            
[God has given Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. Through him Abraham’s line will continue. But now God seeks proof that Abraham is totally committed to him.]



Psalter - Psalm 13     Rick Seiter
[Psalm 13 is a psalm of lament in which the psalmist shares how he is feeling distant from God.]



Special Music OU School of Music Concert
Recorded October, 2018 at Athens First UMC
[This song reminds us to “reach out” during tough times. This reflects today’s Psalm focus and one of the main points of the sermon.]



Sermon        A Psummer of Psalms: Psalm 13
            Deb Murray


Hymn                 Rock of Ages

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer



Church News
[The following announcement slides below are to help us stay connected as a church especially since we are unable to gather in our church building for weekly worship. Please scroll down through the announcements, and our online service will continue with another video.]


SPECIAL REOPENING OF BUILDING PASTORAL LETTER
















Offering Our Gifts


Thank you for your gifts!!!
“Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.”  1 Chronicles 29:12


Closing Hymn    Here I Am, Lord



Benediction



Join us back here next Sunday (July 5) for our online worship service.

[For previous online worship services, click here.]

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Online Worship (June 21) Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (June 21) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701



Greeting From Pastor Robert




Call to Worship 


L: When we feel separated in the desert of our lives,

P: the Lord offers life-giving water that sustains us in our need.

L: When our future seems lost and others have take our place,

P: you restore our hop and promise us an inheritance.

L: We are here to worship you, O Lord.

P: for you alone can save us!


Hymn       Great Is Thy Faithfulness




  1. Welcome & Passing the Peace
[One of our church toys, Biscuit who likes to look closely into the video camera during the Children’s Moments invites you to greet one another, not by rubbing noses, but by simply barking even if you are wearing a mask, “The peace of Christ be with you!”]



Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance

O Lord, why do we try to face challenges with our strength alone? Without your provisions, we are lost. Forgive us for not turning to you in our times of need. Be gracious to us and gladden our souls for you are great and do wondrous things. Thank you for reaching out to us even before we remember to turn toward you. Give ear, O Lord to our prayer. Amen.

L: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

P: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

All: Thanks be to God!


Old Testament Lesson -  Genesis 21:8-21    
Wendy Merb-Brown           
[God has promised a son to Sarah and Abraham in their old age. As a sign that Isaac is a member of God’s people, he has been circumcised. But when Sarah was unable to conceive, Abraham had another son, Ishmael, born of Hagar, a slave.]


Psalter - Psalm 86              
[Psalm 86 is a psalm that calls out to God when facing a difficult challenge.]
Wendy Merb-Brown



Special Music - Melissa Brobeck, Athens First UMC Choir Member
[Recorded at the beginning of the coronavirus stay at home order. Melissa recorded this to lift our spirits in facing this difficult and challenging time. It reflects the spirit of our psalmist for today who longs for a happier day!]



Sermon        A Psummer of Psalms:  Psalm 86
        Dave Bayless


Hymn                 I Need Thee Every Hour

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer



Church News
[The following announcement slides below are to help us stay connected as a church especially since we are unable to gather in our church building for weekly worship. Please scroll down through the announcements, and our online service will continue with another video.]













Offering Our Gifts


Thank you for your gifts!!!
“Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.”  1 Chronicles 29:12

Closing Hymn    Make Me a Captive, Lord



Benediction



Join us back here next Sunday (June 28) for our online worship service.

[For previous online worship services, click here.]




Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Holy Hump Day (June 17) with Pastor Robert

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Today’s Focus:
Racial Tensions, White Privilege, & Biblical Interpretation/Perspectives


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Online Worship (June 14) Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (June 14) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701



Greeting From Pastor Robert



Call to Worship 
L: Laugh with Sarah, as life grows within the womb of an old woman. Stand in amazement with the crowds as illiterate fishermen perform the miracles of God. Forget what you think you know. Expect miracles for with God, all things are possible. 
All: We come to worship knowing that God is speaking a new word of hope for us today.

Hymn       Praise to the Lord, the Almighty



  1. Welcome & Passing the Peace
[This is Michelle Shively’s dog, Teddy. Teddy has attended Kappa Phi meetings at our church and once stopped by to say “hi” to a new member class. Teddy loves people and invites us to greet one another, not by rubbing noses, but by simply barking, “The peace of Christ be with you!”]



Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance
God of steadfast mercy and grace, thank you for revealing yourself to us again and again. You bless us in more ways than we can even imagine. Your overwhelming goodness seems too good to be true. Forgive us for routinely forgetting just how much you truly love us. Open our ears to hear you speak your word of hope, assurance, guidance, and protection. Teach us what it means to be good listeners of all that you want to say to us this day and this upcoming week. Speak to us, O God for we are ready to hear you. Amen.
L: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.
P: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.
All: Thanks be to God!

Church Toys Special Music   Directors - Kristin Kerwin & Kathy Mangen



Scripture Lessons - Genesis 18:1-15 & Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19   
Michelle Shively
[In our Genesis reading, God has promised that he will be God of Abraham and of his descendants. The only obligation God has placed on Abraham is that he, and his male descendants, be circumcised. When God promises that Abraham and Sarah will have a son, they both laugh not realizing that with God, all things are possible! In our Psalm reading, Psalm 116 is considered a psalm of praise because the psalmist has recognized that with God, all things are possible.]



Special Music   Good to Me, Audrey Assad
[Like, our psalm for today, this song written and sung by Audrey Assad is a prayer of praise celebrating God’s goodness.]



Sermon   Psummer of Psalms: Psalm 116
 Rev. Robert McDowell


Sermon Discussion Questions
Do you have a favorite Psalm? Why is it meaningful to you? 

Since our hymns from the hymnal have a similar function to the Psalms, share your favorite hymn. Why is it meaningful to you?

Share a time when God helped you through what seemed to be an impossible situation.

Are you a good listener? What can we do to become better listeners in our prayers with God? Do you ever wonder if God is listening to our prayers?

When God helps you through a difficult situation, how do you respond? In what ways might we respond with generosity and praise?

Hymn                 Lord, Speak to Me

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer



Church News
[The following announcement slides below are to help us stay connected as a church especially since we are unable to gather in our church building for weekly worship. Please scroll down through the announcements, and our online service will continue with another video.]














Offering Our Gifts



Thank you for your gifts!!!
“Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.”  1 Chronicles 29:12


Closing Hymn    Precious Name



Benediction



Join us back here next Sunday (June 21) for our online worship service.

[For previous online worship services, click here.]