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, May 17, 2020

Sunday (May 17) Online Worship Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (May 17) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701

Greeting From Pastor Robert

Call to Worship

L: Come close and listen!

P: The One who made heaven and earth sings a song of life!

L: Come close and listen!

P: The One who raises us from the dead sings a song of love!

L: Come close and listen!

P: The One who walks with us through fire and water sings a song of hope!

All: Alleluia! God’s song goes on and on!

Hymn      Christ Is Alive

Welcome & Passing the Peace
[This is the Sweeney’s adorable dog, Fiddich. Mike got him soon after his first cancer surgery in 2013 and he continues to be a blessing to them. Fiddich invites you to greet one another in your homes and remember that the peace of Christ is with us.]

Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance

Author of Life, you gift us with breath, enfold us in love, and bless us with your presence. When we feel lost, remind us that you are always near. When you seem far away, show us that you are closer than our breathing. When we are lonely and afraid, send us your Companion to offer comfort and courage. Forgive us for whenever we take our eyes off of the surprising good news of Easter that offers us hope and new life. Remind us on this day that your unstoppable love abides with us always. 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!

Children’s Moments     Martha Sloan   

New Testament Lesson - I Peter 3:13-22
[Our baptism font is in the shape of an octagon to help us remember that God saved eight people in Noah’s family from the flood. Listen carefully to this scripture passage as the author makes this connection. The good news of our faith is that God saves!]

Gospel Lesson - John 14:15-21
[This is part of that long section in John’s Gospel in which Jesus is preparing his disciples for when he would be leaving them. They are confused and can’t imagine a future without Jesus by their side. Jesus calms their fear of the future by telling them that he will be sending them the Holy Spirit to help them continue his ministry. Even though they are anxious about the future, Jesus is reminding them that they will continue to be his disciples.]

Jarjisian Musical Blessing - Jack & Cathy Bigger 
[We offer our gratitude and blessings to our Director of Music, Dr. Peter Jarjisian and his wife Judy as they begin a year long sabbatical in Washington D.C.]

Special Music       Stand Up for Me – Storm Large
Melissa Brobeck, soloist (Recorded November 17, 2019)

Sermon             The ‘United’ Methodist Church?
 Rev. Robert McDowell

Sermon Discussion Questions

In what ways has our denomination been united even though we have very different opinions regarding human sexuality issues?
Share some examples of how Athens First UMC has been an inclusive and welcoming community of faith. In what ways can we become more inclusive and welcoming?
Why do you think that there are many people like Pastor Robert’s friend that he mentioned in the sermon who have conflicted views about these issues? 
In what ways has God provided you with encouragement and reassurance as we approach a potential historic transition in our denomination? Where do you sense the Holy Spirit leading you and our church during this time of uncertainty?

Hymn                And Are We Yet Alive?

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer
[In celebration of our church’s 220th anniversary, Rev. James Quinn, our founding Methodist circuit riding pastor from 1800 leads us in our pastoral prayer. Welcome back to Athens, Rev. Quinn!]

Church News & COVID19/Church Building Update

[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                     Blessed Assurance
Associate Music Director, Jeff Daubenmire

1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story; this is my song:
praising my Saviour all the day long;
this is my story; this is my song:
praising my Saviour all the day long.

2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

3. Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.


[A big thank you to our founding Methodist circuit-riding preacher, Rev. James Quinn, who looks a lot like our own Rev. David Maze for offering our pastoral prayer this morning. He was surprised by the four church buildings that we have had in our history since he was here 220 years ago. It is amazing that for the first 15 years, we didn’t even have a church building. Members met in their homes for worship, study, and prayer. Sounds a lot like what we are going through now due to COVID19. Happy 220th anniversary, Athens First UMC!]

Join us back here next week (May 24/Ascension Sunday) for our online worship!

[For previous online worship services, click here]

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