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 12, 2020

Online Worship (July 12) Athens First UMC

Welcome to our (July 12) online worship @ Athens First UMC!
2 S. College St., Athens, OH 45701

Greeting From Pastor Robert

Call to Worship 

L: God’s word is a lamp to our feet.

P: Christ’s teachings are a light to our path.

L: We are invited to allow God’s word to take root in our lives.

P: May Christ’s love nourish us like sunshine and spring rain.

L: God’s word is a lamp to our feet.

P: God’s word is a light to our path.

Hymn       Wonderful Words of Life

  1. Welcome & Passing the Peace
[Banjo, a border collie belongs to John & Emily Bumpus who live in Columbus. Emily is Dave and Jan Fox’s daughter who grew up in our church. Banjo 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

O God, you offer us wonderful words of life. Your word offers us guidance, direction, assurance, and purpose. Forgive us for when we respond to challenges and adversities on our strength alone. Thank you for your grace which always shines upon our path. Teach us to take one step at a time in our walk with you. Lead us into a more spiritually disciplined life where we read, study, and meditate on your word on a daily basis. This is our oath. This is 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 25:19-34           
[Isaac’s wife, Rebekah gives birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. When the twins grew up, Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s hunger by getting the family birthright. This sibling rivalry sets up an ongoing feud between them that will only get resolved several years later.]

Psalter - Psalm 119:105-112      
[Psalm 119 is a long psalm, the centerpiece of all of the psalms. It celebrates God’s laws which are a light unto our feet and guide us in our everyday lives.]

Special Music      Thy Word        Amy Grant

Sermon        A Psummer of Psalms: Psalm 119
                                     Rev. Robert McDowell

Sermon Discussion Questions
Since Psalm 119 is the longest psalm (176 verses!) think about your own prayers to God. Do they tend to be long or short? Why do you think this psalm/prayer is so long?

The focus of Psalm 119 is in highlighting the importance of knowing and being obedient to God’s law. God’s law does not just mean following specific commands. It actually refers to the first five books of the Bible which tell the story of how God created humanity in God’s image and redeemed them from slavery and bondage and led them to the Promised Land. The laws are what help us to remember this story of who we are and who God is. 

Why do you think it’s important to remember that the phrase, “God’s law” is more than simply obeying a bunch of bible rules but it’s about remembering who God is and who we are called to be? 

Since this is a very long psalm, our focus this week is on verses 105-112. You might be familiar with verse 105 which states, “Thy word is a lamp onto my feet and a lamp onto my path.” This is a powerful image that can help us understand the meaning of God’s law which this Psalm is based. A lamp only gives you enough light for the next step or two. This is what God’s laws are meant to do. The Bible is less of an answer manual and more of a road map that guides us through each situation we encounter in life.

How does this view of the Bible and God’s laws serving as a road map or a lamp help in your approach to the Bible? Why do you think we prefer the Bible to be an answer manual over a road map/lamp?

If the Bible is more of a road map and a lamp, this means that God wants us to participate in discerning how we live out our faith in every situation. This will involve constant discernment, openness, flexibility, open-mindedness, and prayerfulness. It will also involve seeking out God’s wisdom through the support of others.

Who/What can help serve as a lamp and a road map as you seek to follow God’s commands?

Hymn                 He Leadeth 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    Amazing Grace


Join us back here next Sunday (July 19) for our online worship service.

[For previous online worship services, click here.]

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