Virtual worship via Zoom
Given that Geauga County is now on Level Red for Covid, our church will not at this time hold live worship in our sanctuary. Instead, beginning Sunday, October 25, we will hold virtual worship via Zoom. The zoom link has been sent through email in order to join in; if you did not receive the link please send an email to email@example.com.
The Zoom gathering will begin at 9:45 AM to give folks time to sign in and greet one another. We will share announcements and prayer requests as the worship service begins at 10 AM. You may continue in fellowship once the service concludes. This virtual format will continue until Covid levels go down and we may again worship in our sanctuary on Sunday mornings.
Even when we are able to again worship together in the sanctuary, we will still continue each week to post the Youtube video of worship on our website. Thus there will be two alternate ways of entering into worship. May you be blessed as you draw near to our God in praise and worship.
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Monday, November 30, 2020
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
This feels like a good scripture to mark the beginning of the Advent season, as James urges his readers to be patient, stand firm, and wait. The events within the daily news are not apart from God’s realm of influence, as if God is powerless. Job suffered much loss and hardship, but he persevered in faith, coming to the realization that God’s plan was greater than his present trials.
James likens patience to a farmer working through the growing season and waiting for the harvest. In the same way, Christ will come at God’s appointed time, though we do not know when that will be. We see great wrongs being perpetuated yet we can only be patient and wait until the time of God’s judgment.
Maybe there are days you want to throw up your hands in despair. Whatever tough situation is before you doesn’t seem to get any better. It feels as though the door is closing on any future opportunities, with no window in sight. These are days when we need the hope given us in these words of James. Hold on, wait for the blessing of the Lord that is coming as we persevere through our trials. Stand firm in the struggle.
Our Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy. Forgive me for times when I want to give up. Let me be honest with you about my discouragement, but keep my hope in you. You know my doubts, my frustrations, my worries. I want to share them with you and know your shoulders are strong enough to hold me and comfort me. Give me strength that is not my own but yours, for I love you and trust in you. You encourage me to keep going when I’m tempted to give up. Thank you, Father, for your unfailing love and unending patience. I give you the glory in Jesus Christ.
Saturday, November 28
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
These are amazing statements, a lot of truths contained within a few verses!
We are justified by faith – God makes that decision, because we believe in Jesus Christ.
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – no need to worry about judgment, because Jesus wipes the slate clean and we are forgiven.
We have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand – As we believe, so this grace, this forgiveness, is extended to us through Jesus.
We boast in the hope of the glory of God – One day God’s majesty, God’s glory will be seen. Until then, we rejoice in the hope that God’s plan will be made evident, so all may give God praise.
We also glory in our sufferings… – To give glory to God for suffering implies that we trust God’s greater purpose, to mold and mature us in character, to make us fit for heaven.
Hope does not put us to shame – Our hope is not misplaced. There is solid truth supporting our hope.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit connects us with God, so that we may perceive and receive God’s love. It’s God’s funnel, channeling God’s love into our lives.
As we contemplate the truth of God’s love, may we rejoice in God’s peace and hope given us, along with life’s challenges that mold us and make us into persons of perseverance, character and hope.
Gracious God, you walk with us through all the highs and lows of human life. You offer us resources that enable us not only to cope with the challenges, but to grow through them. Help us trust in you despite whatever comes our way this day. For this we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.
Friday, November 27
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
We want to believe we are good people, or at least, good enough. We want to think that we deserve salvation by all the good things we try to do. But this just isn’t true. It doesn’t matter who you are – Jew, Greek, American, Nigerian, Chinese, you name it. By the mere fact of being human means we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We do not and cannot earn heaven on our own.
This is precisely why we need the good news of the gospel. We fall short. But Paul writes that all are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God calls the shots. God has decided that faith in Jesus as our savior is enough. Jesus accomplished this, not us. It is free for us; it was costly for him.
Before you turn to the rest of your day, pause just for a moment and give God thanks. Thanks for faith. Thanks that what Jesus did on the cross was enough. Thanks that through Jesus, we are called righteous. Now let’s go out and try to live like we are.
Bless this day, Lord. Bless all my endeavors to do what is right. I know I’m going to fail at times, but thank you that you have declared me righteous in Jesus. Forgive the wrongs I do, and help me learn from my mistakes. I give you the praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, November 26
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
On this Thanksgiving Day, it may seem we have little for which to thank our God. Or you may have many reasons to give thanks, today and every day. We can say it is according to one’s perspective, depending on whether you are a half-empty or a half-full kind of person, a pessimist or an optimist. But that’s not what the psalmist says.
King David wrote this psalm, giving thanks to God for God’s wonderful deeds. David gives God thanks because God deserves it. The emphasis is not on David’s fortunes or misfortunes, but on the character and works of God. David puts the focus on God, not on himself.
Praise God with your whole, undivided heart, because God does great things. On this Thanksgiving Day, why be half-hearted about it? God gave us a beautiful fall, with colors that never fail to fill us with awe. God has blessed us with friends and family whose love endures despite our separations. God keeps the moon and stars in place and is with us through the seasons of life. Today God is as much with us as God has been present from the beginning of time. God’s love endures forever.
God our Father, you are marvelous, beyond any words we could express, for your deeds are always good. Let us give you the praise and thank you; like David, may we be glad and rejoice. Whatever today brings, let me still give you thanks. Amen.
Wednesday, November 25
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, which states that the righteous will live by his faith. We don’t live by our righteousness. That’s a truth from Isaiah 64:6, which says that all of us have become like one who is unclean, and our righteous acts are like filthy rags. We have become muddy and dirty, needing a shower and the heavy cycle of the washing machine.
Paul reminds us that righteousness is by faith, not by what we have done (or failed to do!). This righteousness is a designation, something God has declared of us, not something we accomplished on our own. We are called righteous by faith – faith in Jesus Christ our savior. He did the laundry. He was transfigured. He took upon himself all our dirty laundry, hanging it on the cross. He made us clean. As he lives, so we are given the promise that we will also live, not just now, in this lifetime. We are declared blameless, so we by faith may stand before God in the life to come. And Jesus did it for you and me.
Thank you, God, for the privilege of faith that allows us to be considered righteous before you. It is not our doing, but yours, through Jesus. Let us be grateful for this gift, thankful for your power at work in us, and bold to declare our faith in you. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10
Tuesday, November 24
I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Whom of us has not had, at one time or another, maybe not a literal thorn in the flesh from a rose or even a splinter, but a hardship, a weakness, a perennial problem that won’t go away? We didn’t cause it, we didn’t ask for it, but it came anyway. Why, Lord? Why me? Please take it away.
We pray, maybe fervently, but the answer we get isn’t satisfactory. Your _______ (fill in the blank with whatever thorn you have encountered) isn’t going to be solved in the way you wish. Can we in these situations hear Paul’s words that he received from the Lord? God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul learned to be content in his weakness if that meant Christ’s power could be made more evident within Paul’s life. How about us? Can we stand apart from whatever is troubling us and see what good God has planned to do through us, in spite of or in the midst of whatever problems or weaknesses we have? Can God use us to be his witness in the middle of that tough situation, right now, even when we don’t have any good answers? Yes, I believe it is true. The less we can count on ourselves, the more we need to put our trust in the Lord. To experience this truth is to be a witness to another who may be dealing with their own thorn, their own predicament.
I read about a Mormon who is starring in a prominent Broadway play. He is a devout man of faith, and admits his attraction for men (his words to describe it). He admits the challenge, and that he has given this to the Lord. Your thorn might not be my thorn, but God’s truth is there for all of us, and his grace is sufficient. God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
Whatever is before us, whatever is troubling us, whatever is a thorn threatening to undo us, let us give it to you and trust in your power to work good despite our weakness. This we pray in Christ’s name. Amen
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Monday, November 23
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
From my years doing pottery, I love this passage! Our earthly bodies are like these jars of clay. We come from the earth, mud, so to speak! Like us, pots develop cracks or even break, because these jars of clay are not permanent, only a temporary housing for whatever they hold. God has the permanence, not us, and that’s critical. May we remember to give God the praise.
Sure, we have difficulties. Heart wrenching, soul crushing hardships. Hard pressed from every side, like the walls are caving in on us. Yet God promises we will not be crushed. We are uncertain about our future, but with God beside us, we need not despair. Whatever we have to face has the potential to bring us down, but we may persevere through faith in Jesus Christ.
Our faith is rooted in that Jesus died for us. He gave to us everything he had. His death became the means whereby we have life – his life – revealed in us. Whatever we face is but the reflection of what Jesus faced, so that we may be witnesses of his resurrection power in the Holy Spirit. Nothing is too much for God, so whatever courage, whatever hope, whatever resources we can gather in the face of hardship serves only to give God praise. His life is in us. What a privilege. We need to guard it well.
We pray for those who are facing difficulties today, whether from medical issues or financial problems or job loss or persecution or injustice. Give each of us the resources we need to keep our focus on you. We are only temporary residents of this planet, but you are eternal. Let us give you praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.
What We Believe
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our savior, who lived among us to teach us and die for us. He rose again to give us the promise of eternal life in him John 3:16. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God dwelling in us John 14:15-17. We seek God’s word in the Bible, the foundation of our faith. Our mission as a church is to proclaim the good news of Christ to all. We honor Christ through worship and fellowship, encouraging one another in faith, hope and love 1 Corinthians 13:13, and serving our neighbors with compassion and justice.
We belong to the United Church of Christ. As a congregation we are granted the autonomy to govern our local church, and prayerfully make the best decisions we can on how to live out our calling as believers. Each person has the freedom and responsibility of discerning for themselves how faith in Jesus Christ impacts their daily walk and their worldview. We respect one another’s differences because even though we are diverse, we are still part of Christ’s body.
We look forward to welcoming you some day soon. Peace to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sundays - Outdoors this summer
10:00 am Worship Service
with Children's Moment
Live Outdoor Worship 10:00 am @ Township Park next to the church. Bring a chair. Plenty of room for social distancing. Or stay in your car. Masks are encouraged. More details below in the June newsletter.