Oct 21

Be Still and Know God

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “Be”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “Still”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

Psalm 46:10

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 46

“Be still and know that I am God!” WOW!! This is a hard thing, and yet when I take the time to be still and know who God is my mind seems to work better. This is the message I needed this week. The message to remember to take time to see God in the world around me. The message to take a moment of silence so I can truly hear from God.

The psalm talks about earthquakes, floods, war, and other chaos going on around the earth. This is what our world has become. There is chaos all around us. The reminder to be still and know God is most important in the midst of chaos. When my world is falling apart around me one of the hardest things for me to do is to be still, and yet this is the very thing that helps me to calm the chaos in my soul and mind.

Taking a moment is not always easy. It is not what I hear from others as being important. I hear that it is important to stay busy, to keep working, to find things to do. I have taken this message to heart. Even though the world around me has slowed down I find myself looking for distractions that will keep me busy. The reminder to be still and know God is more important than ever in the midst of the distraction I am creating for myself.

  • Take a walk
  • Take some time meditating on this Psalm
  • Take some time and meditate on your favorite scripture or poem

-please take a moment to think about one of these activities.-

Take some deep breaths.

  • Breath in: “Be”
  • Breath out: “Still”

God of the moment, thank you for being with me in the midst of the storm; for being with me through the earthquake. Help me to continue to be still in your presence. Help me to continue to get to know who you are. Amen.

Oct 18

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

October 17, 2020

Welcome to Ocean Park Lutheran Church
Opening Hymn: God is Here

1 God is here! As we your people
meet to offer praise and prayer,
may we find in fuller measure
what it is in Christ we share.
Here, as in the world around us,
all our varied skills and arts
wait the coming of the Spirit
into open minds and hearts.

2 Here are symbols to remind us
of our lifelong need of grace;
here are table, font, and pulpit;
here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching,
here in silence, as in speech,
here, in newness and renewal,
God the Spirit comes to each.

3 Here our children find a welcome
in the Shepherd’s flock and fold;
here as bread and wine are taken,
Christ sustains us as of old.
Here the servants of the Servant
seek in worship to explore
what it means in daily living
to believe and to adore.

4 Lord of all, of church and kingdom,
in an age of change and doubt,
keep us faithful to the gospel;
help us work your purpose out.
Here, in this day’s dedication,
all we have to give, receive;
we, who cannot live without you,
we adore you! We believe!

Text © 1979 and music © 1942, Ren. 1970 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission of One License # A-711667. Arrangement by First Plymouth Church, used with permission.

Confession and Forgiveness
Prayer of the Day
Faith Moment
Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 45:1-7
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22

Sermon
Hymn of the Day
Apostle’s Creed
Prayers of the People
Communion
Announcements
Sending Hymn
Benediction

Oct 14

God Judges with Equity

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “God”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “will judge”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” Psalm 96:10

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
    The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
    He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord; for he is coming,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with his truth.

Psalm 96:10-13

Meditation

The psalmist is excited that God is coming to judge the earth. Who looks forward to judgment? I do not look forward to judgment unless I am not the person who is being judged. The only person I can think of who might happy about judgment is the person who has been judged wrongly, and knows God will see past the wrong judgments to judge with fairness. To be judged with equity is something we all hope for. Judging without prejudice: without preconceived notions of who a person is. This is what is being celebrated.

As human beings we are not always fair in our judgments. Even when we think we are being fair, we still use prejudices we have been taught to make our determinations. I know there are times I am shocked to realize prejudices I have are influencing how I think. There have been many times in my life when I look at someone and think something; then it strikes me my thinking is not as a result of knowing that person, but as a result of the way I was taught to think about people who look, act or live like that person.

I am so glad God does not look at me based on the way some people look at me. God is able to see what is in my heart: not just the way I look, act or live. Thinking about judgment this way, I can rejoice with the psalmist that God is coming to judge the world with equity.

  • Take some time to imagine what it will look like when God is judging the world.
  • Think about you last week. Have you judged others with equity?

-please take a moment to do one of these things. After meditating you might want to write your thoughts down.-

Prayer

God, you look down on this earth and see each of us where we are. You see our faults and our triumphs. You are able to look past the things people judge us on, and look into our hearts. Thank you for judging all of the earth with equity and fairness. Please help me to be able to judge the people around me with equity as well. Amen

Oct 11

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 11, 2020

Welcome
Opening Hymn
This Little Light of Mine
Confession and Forgiveness
Prayer of the Day
Faith Moment
Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 25:1-9 
Second Reading: Philippians 4:1-9 
Gospel Reading Matthew 22:1-14

Children’s Message
`
Sermon
Text © Joel W. Lundeen, admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used with permission Augsburg Fortress License #SAS001896. Arrangement and Performance permission given for use by Grace Lutheran Church Elkhart. 
Apostles’ Creed
Prayers of the People
Communion
Announcements
Sending Hymn
Benediction

 

Oct 07

The Good Shepherd

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “Good”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “Shepherd”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

Psalm 23:1-2

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

Psalm 23

It is comforting to think of God as our shepherd. The psalm says God guides us to green pastures and still waters. God is there to help us find the food and water that we need to survive. There are many times in our lives we need someone to guide us in the right direction, or to a still quiet place. We can trust that God is there to help us through all of these things even helping us find peace in the darkest valley or a banquet when we are surrounded by our enemies.

This psalm reminds us that God is with us even in the darkest valley. God is walking along side us when we are at our worst, and when the world around us is at its worst. God is also preparing a banquet for us when we are surrounded by our enemies. When we do not have a friend to talk with God is there providing us a banquet to enjoy. God takes our worst moments and makes them into experiences we can look back on knowing we have grown to be better people through them. Our experiences do not change, but God helps us to see the good in the midst of it all.

In the gospel of John Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus not only lays down his life for us, but he does everything God does in Psalm 23. A meaningful experience for me is to read the psalm and replace “he” with Jesus. I read the Psalm slowly, and meditate on each line. If you do not have time to read the whole Psalm like this, read as many lines as you have time for.

  • Read the Psalm slowly.
  • As you read the Psalm replace “he” with Jesus

-please take a moment to think about one of these questions. You might want to write your answers down.-

Take some deep breaths.

  • Breath in: “Jesus”
  • Breath out: “my shepherd”

Good Shepherd, you have lead me to the food and water that I need to sustain my body and my soul. You walked with me in the darkest valley, and given me a banquet when I am surrounded by enemies. Thank you for being my friend, guide and Lord. Amen.

Oct 04

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 4, 2020

Welcome
Gathering Hymn: The Church is One Foundation
Text: Samuel J Stone, 1839-1900, Music Samuel S. Wesley, 1810-1876 Public Domain
Arrangement by First Plymouth Church and used with permission.
Confession and Forgiveness
Prayer of the Day
Faith Moment
Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7 
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14 
Gospel Reading: Matthew 21:33-46

Sermon
Hymn of the Day

My Life Flows On in Endless Song
1 My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.

Refrain
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

2 Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing? 
Refrain

3 What though my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.  Refrain

4 The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing? 
Refrain

Text: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899, Public Domain Arrangement and Performance by Mary Munson and used with permission. 

Apostles Creed
Prayers of the People
Communion

Sending Hymn
Benediction

Sep 30

Restore Us

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “Restore us”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “Oh God”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3

Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.

O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
    our enemies laugh among themselves.

Psalm 80:3-6

Restore us, Oh God. The first few times I read this I thought it said, “Restore me, O God.” Living in an individualistic society, many times I think of things as being personal. I struggle against this tendency, and when I realized I was reading I instead of we I could not believe myself. I struggle against this tendency because I know the culture that the bible was originally written in and to was a more communal society. There was more concern for the group and less concern for the individual.

That being said, I know of so many people who are struggling with setbacks this year. Some have been medical, some relational, and others financial. This has been a rough year for many people, but it has also been a rough year for the world as a whole. This psalm can be prayed for many individuals in our world, and it can be prayed for the world as a whole.

Last week I went to a drive-in prayer meeting. The focus verse for the prayer meeting was 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Our land is hurting right now. All of the Earth is hurting right now. The Coronavirus has not just hit one nation, but the whole world. The prayer for restoration might begin as an individual prayer, it quickly moves to a prayer for our nation, and then a prayer for the whole earth.

  • What in your life needs restored?
  • What needs to be restored in your community?
  • What needs to be restored in the world?

-please take a moment to do one of these questions.-

Restoring God, we pray that you will bring restoration to what has been lost. Reach down and heal our land. Heal our hearts and our souls. We seek your restoration, and ask your help in teaching us how to help bring restoration. Thank you for your restoration of our lives, our community, and our world. Amen

Sep 27

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 27th, 2020

Welcome
Text: Fred Kaan, b. 1929
Text © 1975 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission One License A-711667 Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator. Performance permission given by First Plymouth Church. 
Confession and Forgiveness
Prayer of the Day
Faith Moment
Readings

1st Reading:  Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
2nd Reading: Philippians 2:1-13 
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32

Sermon
Text: Eddie Espinosa, b. 1953Text © 1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing, admin. Music Services CCLI License 11196942 Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator. Performance used with permission from A-711667
Proclamation of Faith
Prayers of the People
Communion
Announcements
Sending Hymn
Text: South African, tr. Freedom Is Coming, 1984
English text © 1984 Utryck, admin. Walton Music Corp. Used with permission OneLicense Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator.Performance permission given by Community of Christ Sings
Benediction

Sep 23

Teach me to Pray

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “Teach me”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “to pray”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

Psalm 25:16

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who are they that fear the Lord?
    He will teach them the way that they should choose.

They will abide in prosperity,
    and their children shall possess the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
    and he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
    and bring me out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life, and deliver me;
    do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
    for I wait for you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all its troubles.

Psalm 25

I have heard of the Psalms as being songs of praise. Some of them are songs of praise, but others like this one seem to be something different. Bonhoeffer talked about the Psalms as being a prayer book. I think this is a better description of the Psalms. I have been reading the Psalms to help me get a deeper understanding of prayer. Prayer is something I was taught as a child, and yet I feel I am always learning more about how to communicate with God.

Psalm 25 is a different prayer than I have ever heard prayed, and yet it is a prayer I have prayed. Even if my prayer was only in my heart. This seems to be a prayer given by a person who is struggling with life. The Psalmist asks God to turn to them because they are lonely and afflicted (Psalm 25:16). There are many in our world today that are lonely. We are isolating because of covid-19, and this has increased the loneliness of many. This Psalm is a prayer for today!

This might be a prayer for today, but I hesitate to remind God of anything. I feel that I don’t need to ask God to be mindful of mercy and love (Psalm 25:6), and yet this is what the Psalmist does. I can learn from the Psalmist that God is willing to listen even when I doubt who God is. This is comforting, but also very challenging. And yet, it reminds me that even when I am suffering from loneliness God is there with me in the midst of my loneliness to comfort and protect me.

  • Are you in a time of loneliness? Imagine God setting beside you.
  • Take the time to tell God exactly how you feel right now.
  • Write out a prayer that includes all of your doubts and fears.

-please take a moment to do one of these activities.-

Take some deep breaths.

  • Breath in: “Teach me”
  • Breath out: “to pray”

God of mercy, thank you for being gracious to me even when I fail. Thank you for being with me even when I feel alone. Thank you for accepting me when I do not feel acceptable. Thank you God for all of your great gifts given to me. Amen.

Sep 16

God’s Character

Begin by taking some deep breaths. As you breath you can begin to clear your mind.

  • Breath in by saying or thinking “Grace”
  • Breath out by saying or thinking “Mercy”

-continue this breathing exercise until you feel you are ready to continue.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love Psalm 145:8

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall laud your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psalm 145:1-8

On Mount Sinai “The Lord passed before him (Moses), and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). There was a time in my life I begun a search to understand God better. Through this search, I was lead to this passage in Exodus. When I read Psalm 145 I was struck by how similar verse 8 is to the Exodus passage. It reads. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8).

This verse comes after several verses that talk about worshiping God. The Psalmist uses words like extol, bless, praise, etc. to explain worship of God. Then comes the description God used when passing in front of Moses. The psalmist worshiped God because of the mercy and grace of the Lord!

When I am struggling with life, whatever part of life I find difficult at the time, I remind myself that God is loving and compassionate. That God is there with me in the midst of what is happening. This gives me a sense of awe. It gives me a heart that cries out to God in worship. The psalm, on the other hand, starts with the praise, and then give the reason for the praise, God’s character. There are times I can start with praise, and then remind myself of who God is. Other times I have to start with reminding myself of God’s character. Then come to worship and praise. It does not matter how we start to worship God. The important thing is God’s character of grace, mercy and slow to anger. These are characteristics that do not change.

  • What keeps you going?
  • What do you have to be thankful for?
  • Why do you worship God?

-please take a moment to think about one of these questions. You might want to write your answers down.-

Take some deep breaths.

  • Breath in: “Mercy”
  • Breath out: “Grace”

God of grace and mercy, we praise you for being there with us, and for being slow to be angry when we make mistakes. Continue to show us your grace and mercy. Continue to forgive us when we fail. Amen.

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