Sunday Messages & Special Services

MAUNDY THURSDAY REFLECTIONS 2020 for the video click on the following link https://www.facebook.com/RittmanUMC/videos/262855468210601/

 Welcome! Please have your communion elements ready. Bread and juice or the best that you have available to represent these elements.

I’m going to begin with sharing a message summarized from a message sent to the clergy from our bishop in this time of separation.

As we continue to encourage people to rely on our faith in God during these fearful times, many are longing to experience the real presence of Christ through Holy Communion even while we practice social distancing to save lives. During this time of pandemic crisis, when the body of Christ gathers virtually, Holy Communion may be celebrated remotely in a spiritual and meaningful way.

John Wesley taught that Holy Communion was a “means of grace” and encouraged Christians to partake of the sacrament as often as possible. We find this to be a deeply meaningful practice to center upon Christ’s sacrificial love and our call to live within that love, as well as an outward and visible sign of Christ’s inward and spiritual grace. The single loaf is the sign of our unity in Christ during Holy Communion. During this time of crisis, Holy Communion in our homes is the sign of our unity while we are physically separated.

We recognize that Holy Communion is a “holy mystery.” The Holy Spirit makes this sharing of bread and cup sacred, holy, and sacramental, interacting with the spirit of the recipients. If the Risen and Ascended Christ is cosmically present in all times and places, then surely Christ can come to people who desire his real presence in time of crisis. However, just as Paul wrote his letters as a substitute for his presence while longing to be together in person, we grant permission for clergy leaders to use this as a substitute only until the quarantine passes.

Be aware that we do not believe communion has any magical properties or that it will somehow protect believers from COVID-19. We urge you to continue to heed all public health advice!

As you participate in this service at home, share in communion together and fully embrace your desperate longing for God’s grace by consuming all of the elements that you have for this communion experience.

We understand that this is a temporary practice for a time of crisis. We are all learning and working together to adapt to new and different ways of how to faithfully lead and be the Church in these times. There will come a day in the near future where we can once again gather in person safely to worship. Until then, remember that God knows our desires and blesses our efforts.

 And now we join the beginning of a solemn journey of three days that has changed the world and our own lives. Followers of Jesus have been taking this journey since his first followers took it, long ago. The amount of time you spend in reflection, prayer, and further reading, is entirely up to you.

(Let’s take this time in prayer to center in to the Word of God.)

Lord,

Give me a pure heart, that I may see thee;

         A humble heart, that I may hear thee;

         A heart of love, that I may serve thee;

         A heart of faith, that I may abide in thee, Amen.

On Thursday of Holy Week, followers of Jesus are invited to begin with  a solemn vigil of prayer and fasting until the day of Christ’s resurrection is fulfilled.

As we go through the events of the Thursday of Jesus’ day, Notice what stands out for you, and perhaps jot down a word or two to remember it. …

Listen to what the Spirit is speaking to you or showing you in the Word? …

Listen and decide at least one action you will take to obey the Spirit’s promptings from the Word. …

 We begin in the Upper Room. This is an upper room in Jerusalem, possibly the very one where Jesus gathered with His disciples.

 This picture gives some perspective of the size of that room, seeing that possibly many more followers were present that night than just Jesus and the 12. As we retrace that night envision yourself there with Him.

 This bowl, pitcher, and towel may be very much like what Jesus used that night. Listen to John 13:1-7, 12-16, 34-35 from the Common English Bible translation.

Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully. Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist.

Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.”

12 After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. 14 If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do. 16 I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them.

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

Christ showed His love by becoming a humble servant.

On the night Jesus took a towel and basin, and washed his disciples’ feet. On that night he told them to do the same for others to show their love for him and for one another.

That was the night of love.

 After washing their feet, Jesus and the disciples returned to the table to eat.

————

On that the night of love, Jesus broke bread and shared wine with his followers for the last time, and invited them to remember him to encounter him anew, whenever they did the same. The night of love.

This day is a welcoming of those who return to the way of Jesus after a time of wandering and a journey of returning.

Welcome the penitent — all here have wandered–

Welcome all preparing — all here are still learning —

Join in hearing and obeying the commandment of our Master and to feast at His table, that we may love one another as He has loved us.

Come, ye sinners. Come, ye thirsty. Come, ye weary. Come!

Hear the words of Psalm 116:1–2, & 12–19, and make them your words.

  I love the Lord because he hears my requests for mercy.
I’ll call out to him as long as I live, because he listens closely to me.

12 What can I give back to the Lord for all the good things he has done for me?
13 I’ll lift up the cup of salvation. I’ll call on the Lord’s name.
14 I’ll keep the promises I made to the Lord in the presence of all God’s people.
15 The death of the Lord’s faithful is a costly loss in his eyes.

16 Oh yes, Lord, I am definitely your servant! I am your servant and the son of your female servant—you’ve freed me from my chains.
17 So I’ll offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to you, and I’ll call on the Lord’s name. 18 I’ll keep the promises I made to the Lord in the presence of all God’s people, 19 in the courtyards of the Lord’s house, which is in the center of Jerusalem.       Praise the Lord!

As we enter into a time of Holy Communion, please wait until the instruction to receive the elements.  

Hear the words from 1 Corinthians 11:23–26. 23 I received a tradition from  the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread.

24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.”

25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.

Draw near to God and confess your sin in the truth of God’s Spirit. Let’s Pray …

Most merciful God,
I confess that often my spirit has not been that of Christ.
Where I have failed to love another as He loves me,
where I have pledged loyalty to Him with my lips
and then betrayed, deserted, or denied Him, forgive me, I pray;
and by your Spirit make me faithful in every time of trial;
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

We at times are like Judas having all betrayed Jesus in one way or another, and when the disciples sat unmoving at the table, each waiting for the washing of their feet, a part of each one of us sat there with them. We have all sat waiting for someone else to do what we should be doing ourselves.

Who is in a position to condemn? …     Only Christ.
But Christ suffered and died for us, was raised from the dead and ascended on high for us, and continues to intercede for us.
Believe the good news:
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Glory to God. Amen.

 And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

   Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Lord, Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here remotely, and on these gifts of bread and wine in each home of the participating. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit makes us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father now and forever. Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Christ has prepared a feast of love.

(Come and receive the body and blood of your Lord.

Take and eat, the body which was broken for you.

Take and drink, the blood that was poured out for you.   Remembering Jesus!

 The next place of that night takes us to the Garden of Gethsemane,

outside of Jerusalem at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

 In Matthew 26:36-46, we find that after they finished their supper, Jesus led His disciples to that garden. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.”

 Then he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons a little further, and he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” 

 39 Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”

40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? 41 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 

 42 A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want.”

43 Again he came and found them sleeping. Their eyes were heavy with sleep. 

 44 But he left them and again went and prayed the same words for the third time. 

45 Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? Look, the time has come for the Human One[a] to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up. Let’s go. Look, here comes my betrayer.”

 Judas then betrayed Jesus in front of the crowd that had come with the soldiers.

 Jesus was arrested there in the garden.

 The disciples ran away and Jesus was led away by the soldiers.

 As you reflect on all that you have heard from the Word, Remember Him!

April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday for the video click on the following link https://www.facebook.com/ruthie.kohringtrigg/videos/10218628773802782/UzpfSTQxNjI4NzYwODM5MTM1MzozMDY4NTAwNDQzMTcwMDQz/

ANNOUNCEMENTS

       Welcome, everyone! Thank you for joining us in worship! As we worship from a distance let’s remember to reach out to others this week to help them know that you are thinking of them.

Let’s come in a spirit of praise of all that the Lord can do in our lives to give peace, to make a difference, to restore in so many ways!

1 *This is the beginning of Holy Week, and it will definitely be different this year. However, we have the opportunity to focus more on Jesus and what this week was like for Him. Hopefully, we will step back from grieving all the things that we can’t do, maybe because they would make us feel good or because we have always done them,… and really concentrate on what Jesus truly gave for this whole world through the things He experienced.

2 *This Thursday is Maundy Thursday, and I will be leading you through the sacrament of Holy Communion, consecrating the elements from a distance. So, if you want to participate in that service, you will provide your own bread and juice, or the equivalent there at your home. I’ll remind you again before the service begins on Maundy Thursday to have them ready.

3 * Maundy Thursday Service will be live at 12:30pm

Good Friday Service will be live at 7:30pm

Easter Sunrise Service will be live at 7:00am

Easter Service will be live at 8:30am

(You can watch these services at any time following the recording, if you aren’t available at these times.)

4 * Phone, Text, Email, & Facebook Messenger Prayer Chains are still forming. Contact Pastor Ruthie if you want to be added to any of these. Also, please make sure we have your updated contact information. I’m trying to make regular contact in some way with all of our church family, but I can’t contact you if I don’t have a way to connect.

5 *Birthdays –

Heather’s was Friday.

Andy’s is today.

Brooke’s is tomorrow.

Joanna’s is Saturday.

Anniversaries –

Chad & Sandy Gasser’s is today.

Dale & Nancy Booth’s is today.

6 * Don’t forget that we the church still have expenses to pay. Please give as the Lord places on your heart. Your offerings can be mailed to the church, to Joanna, or bring your envelope to the church office, if you have a key. The office is currently closed, but I’m checking regularly for mail, and messages. We appreciate all you do, and have done, to support Christ’s work in our community.

7 *If you don’t have a church home, and you would like to have me contact you, send me a message. Everyone is welcome and worthy of God’s love.   

       8 *I have a brief newsletter done and will get it sent hopefully by tomorrow. If you have an email address, please send that to me, so we can save on postage. 

9 *Women’s Bible Study will be meeting on Thursday evenings at 6:30 through Zoom meetings, thanks to Lisa Winchell.

       I will be contacting committee members, as we need to meet, with emails to connect on Zoom. If we don’t have email addresses for you, we will connect by phone, so you can be a part of the meeting.

If you have other announcements, please send them to me by phone, email, or Facebook.

       Prayer

Let’s pray the Light of Christ prayer together;

Light of Christ, shine on our path.

Chase away all darkness.

Illumine us.

And lead us to the heart of God!

We thank all who have sent offerings this week as a part of your worship of the Lord. Let’s dedicate these gifts to Him and ask for the Lord’s blessings on them in their use for our ministry.    

OFFERING DEDICATION

       Sustaining God, We thank you for all you give us. We ask your blessings on the gifts and offerings that have been given back in worship to You this week. Help us to use them according to Your will as You bless the ministries that they provide. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen

       As we continue to pray for all during this time, I’d like to give credit for this litany prayer to The Rev. Allison LeBrun, which she wrote and shared with the East Ohio Clergy, inviting us to use it. I gratefully choose to use it to pray together in unity with all others who use it this day. You may respond together on the bold print or as I say, ”We choose to say:”  “Hosanna! Praise the Lord!”

Feel true praise as you pray this response!

This prayer is entitled:

Prayers of the People for Palm Sunday, Amidst Covid-19
     Friends, let us come before the Lord in prayer. Praising God’s name, claiming Jesus as our Messiah, and entrusting our lives and world over to the God who is worthy of our praise. …

We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
     We are in the midst of strife and uncertainty, anxiety and illness and a global pandemic. It is too easy to turn to fear. To bickering and pessimism. Keep us from despair. Deliver us from all burdens and may we find rest and peace in your care. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
     Soon the shouts of Palm Sunday will turn to the jeers of Good Friday. We know that we have the capacity for both within us: to praise and to scorn, to accept and reject. To choose that which is life-giving and that which is death-wielding. Forgive us for those times we have joined in with the crowds of Good Friday. Nevertheless, … We choose to say
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
     We know that if we were to keep silent, even the rocks would sing out your praises. Your creation rings out your majesty. From the shores of Lake Erie to the first daffodils of Spring. Even among our current circumstances, we join creation in your praise. We thank you for all that is good and well in our lives. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
     Today especially we ask that you be with those who work in healthcare: doctors and nurses, janitors and administrators. From nursing homes to hospitals. Protect them. Keep them safe. Help give them the tools and protections needed to care for the sick and the dying. Give them strength and endurance, compassion and peace. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
     Be with those workers deemed essential: from factories to grocery stores and everywhere in between. Keep them safe and protect them in their daily task. May you labor alongside them, that they feel your presence with them. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!     May your wisdom be given to your leaders: in all levels of government, in all positions of leadership, in the world and in the church. May they make decisions that prioritize saving lives. May their leadership be filled with compassion and love for the least of these. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!

     Be with our local businesses, Lord. We know and love this town. We know the people in each shop, the workers, the owners, the relationships and mutuality we have with each other. Help us weather out this storm together.

… We choose to say:  
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
    

Be with your church, O God. Scattered, yet gathered. Eagerly awaiting resurrection and yet mourning this year’s loss of Easter traditions. Knit us together at this time. Help us truly embody the love of Christ to each other, to our neighbors, to the world. May we be the Church outside of the building walls.   … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
      And lastly, Lord, be with the sick and the dying. Where there is hope, bring healing. Where there is death, may they find life in you. May all those who are alone in hospital rooms feel the loving presence of your Holy Spirit. May all those who pass from this life be reunited with us in the resurrection that is to come. … We choose to say:
ALL: Hosanna! Praise the Lord!
      We join the crowds in praising Jesus this day. We know and claim him as our Messiah. We trust in his unending love and care. May praise never be found far from our lips and may our hearts ever be directed in prayer to the one who always hears us.
      And so now with the confidence of children of God, let us pray that prayer that Jesus taught us. …                             

       THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. One earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Forever. Amen

       SCRIPTURE

Our scripture today is Matthew 21:1-11. I’m reading from the Common English Bible translation.

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that their master needs them.” He sent them off right away. Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.

Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

      May the Lord bless the reading of His Word!

MESSAGE

 Today is Palm Sunday which marks Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. It is also the beginning of Holy Week. This year I can envision this day so much clearer in my mind. Many of you know that I recently visited Israel and went to many places where Jesus had been in His journeys. I used to think about the places where Jesus went as being much closer than what they actually were. I’m going to be sharing some pictures that may help you understand a little better, too.

       Today’s scripture lesson tells us that Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem and came to a village called Bethphage on the Mount of Olives.

 This picture is taken at the Mount of Olives. The trees to the right are the olive trees.

Jesus gave two disciples a task. He told them to go into the village and that as soon as they entered they would find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. They were told to untie them and bring them to Jesus.  If anyone said anything to them, they were just to say that their master needed them. 

 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought both the donkey and the colt. We’ll get back to more about these details in a bit.

 This picture is taken at the top of the roadway from the Mount of Olives down to Jerusalem. If you look about in the middle, just to the left of the tall tree, you can see the Triumphal Entry Gate or the East Gate of Jerusalem. It is now closed up with brick. But it was one of the main gates and the closest gate to the Mount of Olives in Jesus’ time. This shows the distance pretty well, but it wasn’t exactly a straight route. And it wasn’t on level ground. I think you can see the hill that had to be walked down.

This next picture takes us further down, and I’m going to click through the next few pictures, so you can see the winding and the hill that had to be walked down.

 We took many more pictures along the way, but there were a lot of walls and trees and it was steeper in some places and flattened out in some places. At the bottom of the hill was the Garden of Gethsemane. The entrance was near where the exit sign is in this picture. I’ll show more of that later this week.

 At the garden we were in the valley between the Mount of Olives and the East Gate of Jerusalem, which you can see here.  So hopefully from the pictures, you can see that to travel from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, Jesus and the disciples had to travel quite a distance down a small mountain or hill and the back up another hill to arrive in Jerusalem. The people may have been able to have seen them for quite a way off through the gate. The valley seemed that it was pretty open. It was quite a journey. I’m sure Jesus would have appreciated having the donkey to ride on.

 Did you ever wonder why Jesus told the men to bring both a donkey and her colt? Jesus tells us in this passage that it was to fulfill what the prophet said, Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.”  This is found in Zechariah 9:9, It is another place where Jesus refers to Old Testament passages that are being fulfilled, and is translated in several different ways depending on the version you are reading. Some say a donkey and colt, and some say “a donkey. A colt, a foal of a donkey.” And different books of the Gospel give different specifics. So it is hard to know exactly how it truly happened. We also find different pictures also. This one shows both the donkey and the colt, and others show Jesus coming in with only one donkey.

Another thought about Jesus’ experience is that the ride wouldn’t have been very comfortable. Have you ever ridden a donkey or a horse for any distance, and especially without a saddle? …

But scripture does say that the disciples put their clothes on the donkeys for Jesus, and then also that the people put their clothes and branches from the trees on the roads, which would have also been to make it a smoother ride.

This passage also doesn’t say that they waved the branches to honor Jesus, but many pictures show them holding the palm branches as He passed.

       The scripture also says that there were crowds of people. Many were praising Him saying, Hosanna!

 “Bless is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.”

They called Him the Son of David. Many also asked who He was. The answer was that He was “the prophet, Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” They praised Him and honored Him, but still didn’t seem to know who He truly was! They seemed thrill to see Him, but were they really giving Him authentic praise, true praise? Or maybe many were going along with the crowd. … How many of us do that today?…

       The people of Jerusalem were showing Him extreme acceptance and honor. We’ll see how long that lasted.

 Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. And it marks the start of Holy Week and the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Many times when we find differences in scripture we wonder why. Hopefully, it will get you to dig deeper. Maybe see why there might be differences. See whether it truly really matters to the message that is coming out of it.

       We are supposed to question and search to find answers. We are supposed to listen for the message. What is it saying to you?

       One of the messages that I get out of this is that we have to make sure that our praise is authentic. Know the person who you are praising. In this case do you know who Jesus is?  If not, there is no shame in asking, in reading scripture, and digging deeper!

       Hopefully by the end of this week you will know many more answers, will understand the authentic praise that Jesus Christ deserves from us, and will be a full participant in that authentic praise.   

 And the question of the day is What does authentic praise mean to you?

Let’s pray…

Almighty God, Thank You for Questions. And thank you for providing ways that we can see things about Jesus in new and eye opening ways, even in the stories that we hear every year.

Help us to Continue to dig deeper for answers, even when we thought we always knew them. Please keep giving us the desire to know and understand more clearly all there is available about You.

Continue to give us peace and strength, calmness, and understanding in all that is happening around us. And Lord, open our eyes to ways that we can reach out to others in Your Name to help in whatever ways are possible.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

       REFLECTION

Take some time to think about what God has said to you through this message. How are you going to offer authentic praise to Christ?

       BENEDICTION

The gates of righteousness are open wide. We go with God’s blessings!

The path of salvation is made plain. We go in Christ’s truth!

The cornerstone of our faith is sure. We go with the Spirit’s grace!Go with God and walk with Christ during this Holy Week!

WORSHIP – March 29, 2020 for a video of this service click the following link https://www.facebook.com/RittmanUMC/videos/210984943468059/

Announcements

       Welcome, everyone! Thank you for joining us! We come together from a distance when we would rather be together physically! Let’s come in a spirit of acceptance of all that the Lord can do in these days to give peace, to make a difference, to restore in so many ways!

       I encourage everyone to continue to support the church through your giving in whatever ways you are able, we still have expenses to cover, even though we can’t have services together, and we have ministries which continue with your help. Offerings can be mailed to the church or Joanna, or can be put in the office if you have a key. The office is currently closed, but I’m checking regularly for mail, and messages. We appreciate all you do, and have done, to support Christ’s work in our community.

       Continue to reach out to each other and to the community to make sure all needs are met.

       If you have specific prayer concerns, please let me know. And if you want to receive prayer concerns, please call or email the church office or me with your email address to be put on an email chain, or ask to be put on the phone chain, text chain, or Facebook Messenger chain. You can be on any or all of these, you just have to let me know. Also, please make sure we have your updated contact information. I’m trying to make regular contact in some way with all of our church family, but I can’t contact you if I don’t have a way to connect.

If you don’t have a church home, and you would like to have me contact you, send me a message. Everyone is welcome and worthy of God’s love.   

       I’m working on a brief type of newsletter to send out weekly or biweekly, depending on the amount of information to share. Please let me know the best way to send this to you. I only have a few email addresses for our church family, so please, if you have an email address that you use, send me a short note so I can save yours.

It looks like it will be a while before we are meeting again face-to-face for worship. We are waiting until the Stay at Home Order is dropped. Therefore, on Maundy Thursday, I will be leading you through the sacrament of Holy Communion from a distance. So, if you want to participate in that service, you will provide your own bread and juice, or the equivalent there at your home. I’ll remind you again next Sunday, and also before the service begins on Maundy Thursday. We will not have Holy Communion next Sunday, as an act of fasting during Lent.

We are cancelling all Easter events and face-to-face meetings until further notice. I’ll be in contact with group chairpersons about possible ways of meeting remotely for essential needs.

If you have other announcements, please send them to me by phone, email, or Facebook.

       Prayer

Let’s pray the Light of Christ prayer together;

Light of Christ, shine on our path.

Chase away the darkness.

Illumine us.

And lead us to the heart of God!

       Offering Dedication

As we have continued to give to the Lord, let’s take this time to dedicate to the Lord what has been given over the last couple weeks.

       Dear Generous God, We thank you for all you provide for us. We ask your blessings on the gifts that have been given in worship to You. And bless the ministries that they provide. In Christ’s name we pray.

       The Lord’s Prayer

Let’s continue to pray for the needs that we are aware of and for those that only God knows, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer.

       Our Father, …

       Scripture

Our scripture today is Ezekiel 37:1-14 & Romans 8:6-11 from the Common English Bible Translation.

In Romans 8:6-11 from the Common English Bible Translation, Ezekiel tells us, “The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry. He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord God, only you know.” He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.” I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them. He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” 10 I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company. 11 He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12 So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14 I will put my breath in you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”

Paul tells us in Romans 8:6-11,

“6 The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.

But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. 10 If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.”

May the Lord bless the reading of His Word!

Message

  These passages are dealing with hope! And don’t we need that right now! The passage is Ezekiel tells us of Ezekiel being led to a place that seemed to have no hope. He emphasized that the bones were very dry, which indicated that there was no life at all within them. In this passage God is proving a very important point. God asked Ezekiel if the bones could live again.

       In our down times, in times of negative thought, in our times of feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, we would probably answer God that No these bones could not live again.

 But what was Ezekiel’s answer?… He said, “Lord God, only you know.” This answer gives room for possibilities, doesn’t it? And yes, in these times of uncertainty, and possibly feelings of despair and in some cases feelings of hopelessness, only God knows what will happen. Only God knows whether this virus will be able to be controlled, whether the dry bones of this world will live again!

       God gave Ezekiel a prophecy to give. Possibly Ezekiel questioned what he was to do, thinking that it wasn’t possible for those dry bones to come back to life. But he did as he was commanded by God. He was faithful! And just as he prophesied, the bones began to come back to life, exactly as God had said that they would! But they still didn’t have breath in the bodies.

       God then told Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath what it would do. He was given exact instruction in order for the breath to enter the dead bodies for them to live again. And he was faithful and did just as he was told. And what happened?…

The bodies, which were formed before Ezekiel out of those dry bones, which were given all that they needed to be healthy bones and tissue and skin, then had breath within them from God to live again. This large group of living bodies stood before him, and God then explained.

       They were the embodiment of all the people of Israel, who had given up hope. Those who had thought that they had nothing left.

       God called on Ezekiel to prophesy to the entire people of Israel giving them hope anew. He was to tell them that God was bringing them out of their hopelessness and into the promised fertile land. Then they would know that God is Lord. God will make them alive again in their spirits. They will no longer be hopeless, but will have hope that only He can give!

       Does this sound familiar?…  Could it be that Ezekiel is speaking about us and to us?

 Let’s look at what our Romans passage tells us. It seems that it is explaining where we are in these days, and only God knows for sure whether it is also a message about why the world is where it is today.

  This may be a wake-up call.

       Let’s listen again to Paul’s words. The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God. 

            But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. … If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. … If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, … but the body is dead because of sin. …

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.”

 We can be alive in Christ! That’s hope! Let the Spirit of Christ live within you! We can trust in Him to take care of us in whatever way is according to God’s will. But it takes being faithful. It takes being selfless. It takes caring enough about others to do whatever is needed to take care of them.

It is not an easy thing right now to stay home and stay away from others. There are times that we really want to go and do whatever we want to do. And sometimes that causes us to go out even when we don’t need to. And those times have the potential of getting us around others who may be sick and who could cause us to take that illness back to others, whether in our homes or others who we come into contact with. It’s something to think about and consider the next time we think about going out. Do we really need to go?

       I know it’s hard! Believe me, it’s causing me to go a little stir crazy. But it gives us an opportunity to think, and a chance to draw closer to God.

       And it helps us to rethink some things that we have become used to doing, and possibly to come up with some new and unique ways of worshiping and connecting that we wouldn’t have been willing to try before. So be thinking about this. And talk to each other and to me about things that come to your mind. It is a perfect time for listening to what God is saying to you.

One of the things that I’ve been working on and many of the United Methodist pastors have been discussing is how to do new ways of reaching out. How do we stay together when we are physically unable to? One thing for sure, it takes a lot more effort! And it takes learning new things.

A Christian group, who won a Grammy this year, For King & Country, gave an online concert Friday night. It was called “Together: A Night of Hope.” They ended with a song that put the message all together, in more ways than one. They reminded us in this song that We need to promise to get thru this together! No matter what, we get thru it hand in hand: falling together & rising together thru it all. Right now that hand in hand thing has to be in our minds, not physically, but it take us being in the Spirit of Christ. Not worrying about ourselves, but being concerned for each other, and doing whatever it takes to get through this together! Praying for each other, praying for everyone affected by this; whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, economically, or any other way that only God knows!

And above all else depending on God and trusting that God will get us through this together! Worshiping to our fullest with everything we are! Giving ourselves through the Spirit of Christ that is within us! …    

Let’s pray…

Almighty God, Thank You for Your Spirit that You breathe into us to give us new life! Help us to live as You have taught us to live. Change our hearts, Lord, to be the people who You want us to be.

Protect this world, dear Lord, through these days. We ask for a healing that only You can give. Give new insights to those who are working on a vaccine and a cure. We know that it is all in Your time, and that there are probably many lessons that You have for us in this struggle.

Help us to do all that we can in Your name to care for the others around us. Give healing to others who are suffering from other illnesses in ways that only You can do according to Your will. Continue to give recovery to those who have had surgery. And Lord, for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, help them to feel Your presence wrapped around them. Give them peace and comfort. Help those who are dealing with any kind of loss. Give a calming to all, helping us to be the people that You have intended us to be.

Help us to remember to come to You for all of our needs.

Lord, Give us peace that passes all understanding! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

       Take some time to think about what God has said to you through these scripture lessons and through this message. How are you going to respond to God?

Go with the blessings of the One who saves us and heals our hearts!

God with God!

WORSHIP for March 22,2020 for a video click on the following link https://www.facebook.com/RittmanUMC/videos/648165669350740/

Announcements

       Good morning, everyone! I encourage you to find songs either on the internet or by other sources, which are speaking to your soul in these days.

       As we all know this is a really uncertain time and we are doing the best we can to keep in connection with each other in the best ways possible. If you haven’t heard from someone this week, please take time to make contact with them in some way; by phone call, text, email, a card or note, Facebook messenger, or some other form of social media. Please be in contact with as many people as possible!

       We are not sure how long we might be worshiping this way, but let’s pray it won’t be long. It’s so much better to be together. I miss our church family and community, but we need to be cautious and safe.

       Everything at the church, except Food Pantry, has been postponed until we can safely gather together again. We want to make sure that we don’t help in spreading this virus. However, our church family has still been able to make a difference in our community. We were able to help over 30 community families last Wednesday through the Food Pantry. And have also been able to provide some food to the Server to help others. Be thinking and responding to ways that you can make a difference.

       Don’t forget to continue to support the church through your giving, we still have expenses to cover even though we can’t have services. The office remains open, at least for now.

Offerings can be sent to the church, brought during office hours, or put in the office if you have a key. We appreciate all you do to support Christ’s work in our community.

       If you want to receive prayer concerns, please call or email the church office with your email address to be put on an email chain, or ask to be put on the phone chain. You can be on both if you want. Please make sure we have your updated contact information.

       We are working on the new Points to Ponder newsletter. It will be on the website, and we will email to those who have provided the office with an email address. We will mail to others who don’t have internet. Please let Becky know the best way to send yours.

Scripture

Our scripture today is Ephesians 5:1-14 from the Common English Bible Translation.

Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God. Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy—which happens when things become gods—those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. Nobody should deceive you with stupid ideas. God’s anger comes down on those who are disobedient because of this kind of thing. So you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. 10 Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, 11 and don’t participate in the unfruitful actions of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them. 12 It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret. 13 But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. 14 Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says, Wake up, sleeper!Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. May the Lord bless the reading of His Word!

Message

       This passage is dealing with how to live.., and then tells how not to live…, and then again speaks more of how we should live. We are to come out of the darkness, no matter what our sins are. We are to follow the example of Christ. We are to produce fruit of goodness, justice, and truth.

       These days have brought a lot to light. It seems to have brought out some true character of people. Hopefully, we have realized ways that we should live…, caring about others, and realized ways that we don’t want to live…, only caring about ourselves.

       Most of the last days, I have been able to live in a pretty peaceful mood. I’m trusting in God to take care of all that is going on. I’ve been able to give to God the anxious feelings that began once the reality of closures started to happen, and I had to start figuring out my next steps, and I’m still working on what has to be done and how to do it.

       Now I’m not saying that I haven’t had some difficulty in adjusting to the changes. I think all of us struggle when we have to do things differently, but when I started getting a little unnerved, I took it to God in prayer. Once I did, I felt a peace come over me. I focused on the Lord, which helped me to center down to the things that needed done at those times.

       My easiest times have been when I’ve been able to be alone with God and listen for the guidance that would help me through this.

       Probably, the hardest times that I’ve had were when I went to the stores to get supplies, and I witnessed the craziness that was happening there. It definitely was a time of darkness while watching the greed that took over people. Yes, most of the time it was probably the result of fear, of thinking that they might not have enough, but they didn’t stop to think about others who may also have need. Only thinking of themselves.

Hopefully, especially in this time of Lent, we are looking at things that we can give up or at least do with less in order to help provide for others around us. Finding ways to make others’ lives easier or better. This is especially a time to reach out to others to make sure that they have everything they need, and it’s especially a time to be praying for each other and our world.  

This is a time when many of you have extra time on your hands that you can be making phone calls to church family, your family, and other friends to make sure they are doing ok…, offering to shop for those who definitely shouldn’t be out of their houses…, sending cards or notes of encouragement to ones who you know don’t have any other link to the outside world right now…, messaging friends & family by phone or internet and you have that ability…, and it’s the perfect time to reconnect with those within your house. Pray for and with each other.

These acts of caring for others help us to center on God, being more like Christ. It is a way of being Christ’s light for all to see Him! It also can give us peace in knowing that we are His!

        We are reminded about God’s assurance of hope, peace, and guidance in the 23rd Psalm. Let’s hear it once again from the New King James Version.

     The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

       Let’s give ourselves to God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we take care of each other during this Lenten Season.

Let’s pray…

Almighty God, Thank You for all that You are in our lives. Thank You for the care that You provide for us; for the hope and the peace and the guidance and the love that You give to each and every one. Protect us, dear Lord, through these days, and help us to do all that we can in Your name to care for the others around us. Give healing to those who are afflicted by this virus and heal others who are suffering from other illnesses in ways that only You can do according to Your will. Continue to give recovery to those who have had surgery. And Lord, for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, help them to feel Your presence wrapped around them. Give them peace and comfort.

Give us peace that passes all understanding. Thank You for bringing us out of the darkness of this world to shine Your light for all to see. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Take care and stay safe!

MESSAGE FOR MARCH 15, 2020

In this time of uncertainty, let’s take a step back and reflect on what is important! As we seek to understand all that is happening around us, let’s remember to seek God and God’s guidance! In order to do this, we have to put God first in ALL that we do! Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:20, & even Deuteronomy 6:5 all tell us, in a few differences of words, to love the Lord, our God, with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our (minds, strength, might). Matthew 22:38 tells us that this is the first and greatest commandment! This is what matters most! If we allow God to be the most important part of our lives, everything else will fall into place! So let’s think about something that may be heavy on your hearts today. You may be thinking that because we aren’t meeting together in the church building that worship can’t happen. Hopefully you realize that we should never stop worshiping! God is always with us and we should always be seeking to show God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that we are present with our Lord! Whether in prayer, song, thought, or deed; we can give God the glory for our lives and for this world that has been given to us. Take time especially today, as we are taking a Sabbath away from gathering to spend some quality and quantity time praise and worshiping the Lord. 1. Pray2. Read the Word and reflect on it 3. Listen to some Christian music that touches your soul and sing along 4. Walk through the fresh air and sunshine communing with God5. Take time to reflect on what God wants you to do in service to others6. And above all else, give yourself completely to God, allowing the Lord of your salvation to guide you in all you do and say.
Let’s pray together…Dear Almighty God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit), We come to you with humble hearts, and with unsettled feelings as we place ourselves into your care and keeping today and in the weeks ahead. Lord, calm our spirits and help us to center into You as we hear Your Word and all that You have for us to contemplate and understand this day and in the days ahead in all of the concern, unsettledness, and change that we are experiencing at this time. Give us the desire to be ever closer to You, and lead us in the best ways possible to spend every day giving ourselves to You. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen

November 19, 2017 11 am Traditional Service


November 19, 2017 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


November 12, 2017 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


November 5, 2017 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


October 22, 2017 11 am Traditional Service


October 22, 2017 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


October 8, 2017 11 am Traditional Service


September 17, 2017 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


September 17,2017 11 am Traditional Service


August 7, 2016 9 am God’s Gathering Worship Service


July 31, 2016 Combined Service

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