Worship Service 3/29/2020


                            HENDERSON MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH

                                                  Sunday, March 29

        Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE!  (Philippians 4:4)

Again, we invite you to join us in reading this at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, March 29, as we try to

stay spiritually connected in worship and as a family of God.

May we join in a moment of quiet prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to guide our minds and our hearts as we worship separately yet together.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:5-7)

Song – Peace Like a River

I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got love like an ocean, I’ve got love like an ocean, I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.

I’ve got love like an ocean, I’ve got love like an ocean, I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.

I’ve got joy like a fountain, I’ve got joy like a fountain, I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

I’ve got joy like a fountain, I’ve got joy like a fountain, I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

God Moment

James 1:2 tells us to: think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy.

There are plenty of challenges and tests to face these days; cancelled plans, closed businesses, staying home and away from people. Can you see this as an occasion for joy?

Is there more time to leave the bustle of life for quiet and calmness? Is there more time to spend reading and being grateful for all the Lord provides?  Can we look at it as an adventure, one we can spend rejoicing in the Lord?

   What do you first think when all of a sudden the power goes out…frustration or fear?

   A power failure, while on a trip with a friend, wrought different responses, author Cynthia Ruchti writes.

  “Won’t THIS be an adventure,” her friend voiced as the lights went out in the vacation condo they had rented. From the darken landscaped, viewed from the condo, apparently the whole city was without power.

  Midmorning in an unfamiliar setting is one thing. Nightfall is another, Rucht writes.

Some complain when the lights go out, but my friend’s first reaction was curiosity about the kind of adventure we’d experience because of it.

  That was her response to most things other people might find irritating or disruptive.

She wasn’t out of touch with reality. On the contrary, she was deeply in touch with the reality Jesus came to bring. He told us His joy could be ours (John 15:11).  His word says that His joy is our strength – and why would that matter if we weren’t constantly desperate for strength? – And that we can “count it all joy” when trouble comes. (James 1:2).

  Consider challenges “occasions for joy,” as the Common English Bible puts it. Adventures.

  James 1:2 is a verse that can evoke confusion, disbelief, or anger for some, she writes.

 Joy? Out of a disheartening situation? That doesn’t even make sense…unless we understand that because of the intense love of Jesus, we can trust His assurance that even the things we suffer make us more complete individuals(James 1:3-4).

  The process doesn’t have to empty us. It can make us full because of the presence of Jesus made more tangible than ever in our time of need.

  In that light, at times, life feels like an amusement park with too many rides and a world-class roller coaster. Our hearts not only beat faster, they’re stronger when we reach the adventure’s end.

  In our current world situation – as we face the Corona Virus – can we reframe some of today’s trial as an “Adventure with Him.” 

Joy, peace, kindness, love – what is God speaking to you during this trial?

  For those reading this by email, responses may be shared by responding to this email and choosing “all” so everyone on the list can hear of the Lord’s goodness and rejoice with you.

  Choosing to look at life differently, in the midst of a trial, is not just about having a positive attitude or a good personality trait. It is about understanding who Christ is and what He has done for us.

    Max Lucado has said, in essence, the more we understand God, the less our anxiety.

    Perhaps no two people looked at something differently than the two who hung on crosses beside Jesus.  From Max Lucado’s book, “Six Hours One Friday,” the following is one chapter entitled,   The Eleventh Hour Gift:

Nicodemus came in the middle of the night. The centurion came in the middle of the day. The leper and the sinful woman appeared in the middle of the crowds. Zacchaeus appeared in the middle of a tree. Matthew had a party for him.

   The educated. The powerful. The rejected. The sick. The lonely. The wealthy. Who would have ever assembled such a crew?  All they had in common were their empty hope chests, long left vacant by charlatans and profiteers. Though they had nothing to offer, they asked for everything: a new birth, a second chance, a fresh start, a clean conscience. And without exception their requests were honored.

   And now, one more beggar comes with a request. Only minutes from the death of them both, he stands before the King. He will ask for crumbs. And he, like the others, will receive a whole loaf.

   Skull’s hill – windswept and stony. The thief – gaunt and pale.

   Hinges squeak as the door of death closes on his life.

   His situation is pitiful. He’s taking the last step down the spiral staircase of failure. One crime after another. One rejection after another. Lower and lower he descended until he reached the bottom – a crossbeam and three spikes.

   He can’t hide who he is. His only clothing is a cloak of his disgrace. No fancy jargon. No impressive resume. No Sunday school awards. Just a naked history of failure.

   He sees Jesus.

   Earlier he had mocked the man. When the crowd first chorused its criticism, he’d sung his part. But now he doesn’t mock Jesus. He studies him. He begins to wonder who this man might be.

   How strange. He doesn’t resist the nails; he almost invites them.

   He hears the jests and the insults and sees the man remain quiet. He sees the fresh blood on Jesus’ cheeks, the crown of thorns scraping Jesus’ scalp, and he hears the hoarse whisper, “Father, forgive them.”

   Why do they want him dead?

   Slowly the thief’s curiosity offsets the pain in his body. He momentarily forgets the nails rubbing against the raw bones of his wrists and the cramps in his calves.

   He begins to feel a peculiar warmth in his heart: he begins to care; he begins to care about this peaceful martyr.

   There’s no anger in his eyes, only tears.

   He looks at the huddle of soldiers throwing dice in the dirt, gambling for a ragged robe. He sees the sign above Jesus’ head. It’s painted with sarcasm: King of the Jews.

   They mock him as a king. If he were crazy, they would ignore him. If he had no followers, they’d turn him away. If he were nothing to fear, they wouldn’t kill him. You only kill a king if he has a kingdom.

    Could it be…?

    His cracked lips open to speak.

    Then all of a sudden, his thoughts are exploded by the accusations of the criminal on the other cross. He, too, has been studying Jesus, but studying through the blurred lens of cynicism.

   “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself – and us, too, while you’re at it!”

     It’s an inexplicable dilemma – how two people can hear the same words and see the same Savior, and one sees hope and the other see nothing but himself.

   It was all the first criminal could take. Perhaps the crook who hurled the barb expected the other crook to take the cue and hurl a few of his own. But he didn’t. No second verse was sung. What the bitter-tongued criminal did hear were words of defense.

   “Don’t you fear God?”

    Only minutes before these same lips had cursed Jesus. Now they are defending him. Every head on the hill lifts to look at this one who spoke on behalf of the Christ. Every angel weeps and every demon gapes.

   Who could have imagined this thief thinking of anyone but himself? He’d always been the bully, the purse-snatching brat. Who could remember the last time he’d come to someone’s aid? But as the last grains of sand trickle through his hourglass, he performs man’s noblest act. He speaks on God’s behalf.

   Where are those we would expect to defend Jesus?

   A much more spiritual Peter has abandoned him.

   A much more educated Pilate has washed his hands of him.

   A much more loyal mob of countrymen has demanded his death.

   A much more faithful band of disciples has scattered.

   When it seems that everyone has turned away, a crook places himself between Jesus and the accusers and speaks on his behalf.

   “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.”

   The soldiers look up. The priests cease chattering. Mary wipes her tears and raises her eyes. No one had even noticed the fellow, but now everyone looks at him.

   Perhaps even Jesus looks at him. Perhaps he turned to see the one who had spoken when all others had remained silent. Perhaps he fights to focus his eyes on the one who offered this final gesture of love he’d receive while alive. I wonder, did he smile as this sheep straggled into the fold?

   For that, in effect, is exactly what the criminal is doing. He is stumbling to safety just as the gate is closing. Lodged in the thief’s statement are the two facts that anyone needs to recognize in order to come to Jesus. Look at the phrase again. Do you see them?

   “We are getting what we deserve. This man has done nothing wrong.”

    We are guilty and he is innocent.

    We are filthy and he is pure.

    We are wrong and he is right.

    He is not on the cross for his sins. He is there for ours.

    And once the crook understands this, his request seems only natural. As he looks into the eyes of his last hope, he made the same request any Christian has made.

    “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

    No stained-glass homilies. No excuses. Just a desperate plea for help.

    At this point Jesus performs the greatest miracle of the cross.  Greater than the earthquake. Greater than the tearing of the temple curtain. Greater than the darkness. Greater than the resurrected saints appearing on the streets.

    He performs the miracle of forgiveness. A sin-soaked criminal is received by a blood-stained Savior.

    “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.”

     Wow. Only seconds before the thief was a beggar nervously squeezing his hat at the castle door, wondering if the King might spare a few crumbs. Suddenly he’s holding the whole pantry.

      Such is the definition of grace.

   May we pray,

Our dear Lord, thank you for this day and your goodness in it. Thank you for the gift of life and all that you have allowed into our lives, the good along with the hard things. These remind us how much we need you and rely on your presence with us every day. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. Thank you for always being with us and for never leaving us.

We ask for your peace to surround us as you lead us through this season of sickness and change and to forgive us if we feel anxious or fearful. Help us to lay these feelings down before you and remember that you are in control.

Forgive us for the times we try to do things in our own strength and forget our need for you. We ask you for healing of those who are sick or will be; for joy and peace as we wait to see what you do through this.

We ask for wisdom and your guidance for our leaders who are making life and death decisions for us. As we prepare to celebrate Easter, help us to spend this time at home seeking and praising you for we love you and need you, Lord.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Prayer Requests

Please respond with prayer requests by answering this original email so that we may all be in prayer with you.

Please pray for those who are alone during this pandemic where isolation makes home, a normally safe haven, now a jail cell of loneliness where the bars are closing in; pray for families who struggle with worries over no employment, no money and nothing to do which creates a boiling kettle ready to spew over in painful verbal or physical domestic violence.

Please Pray For:

Bill Bryant, Gary Wolcott, Adam Etzel, Carmen Crocker, Steve Etzel, Marjorie Goodwin, Gloria Grush, Orion Nile, Connie Main, Stephanie Millay, Merle Smith, Dorothy Soule, David and John Wilbur, Skip and Polly Wyman, Mike and Lorna Smilek.

Salt and Light

The Church Council has continued closure of the church for two more weeks including Palm Sunday and Easter.  They will assess the situation before April 8 and decide whether to suspend the closure or extend it longer.

FAEM (Farmington Area Ecumenical Ministry) has cancelled their Good Friday and Easter Sunrise services.

Benediction:

              SHINE JESUS SHINE                                                                    

              Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory

              Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire

              Flow, river, flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy

              Send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)