First Presbyterian Church
27 N. Main Street, P.O. Box 568, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
Order of Divine Worship
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany • Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, February 4, 2018 – 10:30 a.m.

You are the light of the world. You are the body of Christ.

Gathering Music

Greeting: Assisting Elder: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.

Announcements Assisting Elder:

Preparing for the Word

Musical Call to Worship

Introit “Fairest Lord Jesus” Hymnal 630, Verse 1

Call to Worship:
Have we not known? Have we not heard?
Has it not been told to us since the beginning?
Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Time with Children

*Hymn 645 “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Prayers of Confession
The proof of God’s amazing love is this: While we were strangers Christ died for us. Because we have faith in him, we dare to approach God with confidence. In faith and penitence, let us confess our failings before God and one another…

Almighty God: you love us, but we have not loved you; you call, but we have not listened. We walk away from neighbors in need, wrapped up in our own concerns. We have gone along with evil, with prejudice, warfare, and greed. God our Heavenly Parent, help us to face up to ourselves, so that, as you move to us in mercy, we may repent, turn to you, and receive forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Grace
“This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus entered the world to rescue sinners. If anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”

People of God, hear the Good News:
In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

*Response of Praise, No. 581
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, World without end, Amen, Amen!

Hearing the Word

Anthem “Lamb of God” Twila Paris, arr. Lloyd Larson

Hebrew Bible Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31
21Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;
23who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

26Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these?

He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
29He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

30Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
31but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

New Testament Reading: I Corinthians 9:16-23
16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. 19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Gospel Reading: Mark 1:29-39
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Sermon “Wait upon the Lord” Rev. David Ashby
28Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
29He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.
30Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
31but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Those ringing words were from the prophet Isaiah to weary in-exile Israel, waiting and wondering if Yahweh God would ever rescue them and get them back to their land flowing with milk and honey. In a lot of ways they were like the Palestinians of today who look across the hills and see settlements on what used to be their property, from which they were evicted, and to which they want to return. Some of the old farmers still have ancient brass keys to the locks on their old home, homes they have not seen in 40 or 50 years. If you want to have a sense of the timeframe Isaiah is working with, think of those Palestinian farmers and their grandchildren who keep alive the hope of returning to the old homestead, or imagine that you are waiting to go back to the house you left in 1972 (which is meaningful to those of us who remember the ’72 flood after Hurricane Agnes)… Isaiah is talking to an Israel which had been in exile for close to 46 years! And yet he is telling them, God is working it out… it will get better, things are on the upswing, even if you don’t see it all quite yet, so stop, look around, and look for God’s grace. It’s there!

Wait for it.

Isaiah is the prophet who makes the most out of waiting. Sometimes he’s reassuring Israel that although they are awaiting God’s action, it will come, even if they are tired of waiting; just keep waiting. Other times he tells them to knock off complaining or rushing around and just sit tight and wait upon the Lord. In all cases he’s prophesying about, specifically, waiting upon God. It’s not just generic waiting for Isaiah, like waiting for spring in order to plant or waiting for bread to rise. Nope, his thing is waiting on God and what God will be doing. I think I’ve mentioned before how the Hebrew word for “waiting” has pretty much the same sort of meanings as our English word. One sense is letting time pass, either passively or actively, either like standing in line at the DMV getting impatient and accomplishing not much or being really focused but really still, like waiting for a deer to walk by or praying or meditating or letting soup simmer until done. The other sense of waiting, like for us, is serving, like “waiting on tables.” This notion would be like Simeon and Anna in the temple in early January when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple; they were serving God, waiting in the temple. Or it’s like Samuel a few weeks ago, the young boy filling the oil lamps, fetching things for the priest Eli, running errands, serving in the temple, or that throwaway observation in Mark that after being healed, Simon’s mother-in-law got up and served them, “waited on them.” But for Isaiah, “waiting on the Lord” is holy work, purposeful work, important work.

And, if you are waiting on the Lord, you will rise up on wings like eagles, one of the great, soaring images of the Bible. So in one sense, if you are serving God, doing God’s work, that’s a kind of waiting on God. If you think of the story of Mary and Martha, you kind of get two senses of waiting: Mary is raptly waiting on every word Jesus speaks, and Martha is waiting on him by bringing lunch to him. The other way to take this cosmic pun is probably the way Israel first heard Isaiah: after marking time (46 years of singing the Lord’s song in a strange land), turning the calendar one page at a time, rolling from spring to summer to harvest to winter to spring; they were tired of waiting and spiritually exhausted. To them, Isaiah’s prophecy was that they take flight, leave the dusty ground, soar up into the air, fly, fly, fly into God’s future. After waiting like baby fledglings, cramped in the nest, they would rise up on wings and head sunward. You can see how that was fantastic news, every bit as wonderful as when Isaiah talked about how the people living in darkness would be bathed in a great light. If you wait long enough, you will be vindicated! Hallelujah!

But this is not pointless sitting around watching the second hand of the clock tick, tick, tick along with God. Nope, this is purposeful, even if the purpose seems delayed. This sort of holy waiting is waiting in order to rise up for God’s new thing. It is to pursue God’s vision, and God will give us strength to do the work bringing that new thing into reality. The part ancient Israel didn’t get was that, to some extent, they had to wait for other things to happen in God’s plan, in God’s good time. And while God was working God’s purposes out, God was also teaching them patience! And that they really, really had to let God work, to, as they say, let go and let God. Maybe part of what was going on was Israel being “in time out” to think about things and be willing to stick with God instead of their own schemes. Or it was like waiting for grapes to ripen, or bread to rise and to bake. I suspect we, too, two-and-a-half thousand years later are not much different and need to be almost forced to be patient and wait upon the Lord in order to, in due time, rise up.

So what are we waiting to get going on? Well, I’m willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hint and turn once again to the mission vision the PNC put before us: “We are a close knit and resilient family of God committed to enriching spiritual and faith development for all ages, with patient optimism since our founding in 1831. Our church is welcoming to all, and active in ecumenical and outreach programs within our village and in the wider community. Our time together is filled with warmth, music, prayer, scripture and genuine love for each other as the body of Christ. Whether worshiping on Sunday morning, enjoying a time of fellowship or working together on a common mission we are all one in Christ. It truly can be said ‘Blest be the tie that binds.’” So I’d say God is calling FPCHF to get out there and welcome all, to reach out with practical, helpful mission in both tangible things and spiritual care, to not just bask in warmth, prayer, music, scripture, and love for each other but to sortie out into Honeoye Falls with warm embraces for people having a tough time, singing, praying, evidencing that you read Scripture and try to live it out, and to grow the body of Christ in amazing ways. That is the “new thing” which I believe God has been preparing First Presbyterian to get out there and fly like eagles, so earthbound neighbors can look up and want to rise up with you heavenward.

Like a lot of people, I love that old television program M*A*S*H. I actually chose which section of exegesis in seminary because the other one conflicted with when M*A*S*H was broadcast in Richmond. Father Mulcahey may still be the best religious leader in a television series, ever. But for our purposes, do you remember Radar? Not only could he anticipate whatever Col. Blake or Col. Potter would want, but he could sense when casualties were on the way. They’d be going along with something, then he would stop and say, “Choppers.” And the others would say, “I don’t hear anything.” Radar would say, “Wait for it…” and in a minute or so, everyone could hear the helicopters coming over the horizon and rush into action.

Wait for it! You’ve been “waiting on the Lord” for a while as a congregation. As your interim, transitional pastor, I’ve been setting you up for this “wait for it” for 28 months! (Not 40 years!!) The PNC revealed a really great candidate for the next pastor here last week, and he will come meet you and preach for you, and then you can decide if you feel God is calling him here to embark on new things with you. And shortly after that vote, presuming all of us are right about what God is doing here, he will begin that new thing with you, and, presumably, FPCHF gets back to soaring like an eagle church. The waiting-as-preparation time is (God willing) winding down, yet that is for the purpose of you getting engaged and going really active and taking flight. So it really hasn’t been a delay, even if you felt like not much was going on! You were getting yourselves together, God was working behind the scenes, and you were getting stronger in the nest until you became strong to take off.

I take Isaiah 40 to be not merely ancient prophecy but today’s word of hope and encouragement and revitalization to First Presbyterian Church, as we look forward to 2018… and 2019… and 2020! Have we not felt the Holy Spirit moving among us? Have we not learned from the past that God takes care of us? Have we not seen the signs of spiritual springtime budding in our midst?

And I believe that the message from the Holy Spirit to you today is the same one Isaiah offered: Trust God to bring you to new life. Have you not known? Have you not heard? Have you not known? Have you not heard? “…those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Beloved of God, First Presbyterian Church will mount up on wings like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint renew your strength… have you not known?!

*Hymn 834 “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

Responding to the Word

Prayers for Others and for Ourselves
Holy and everlasting God! How good it is to be in your presence again, to feel the warming of your love in our souls, the thrill of your word in our minds, the joy of your love in our hearts, to feel the surging strength of your service in our backs and hands, to catch a glimpse of your glory with our eyes, to hear the music of heaven in our ears, to dance in your morning, to come to you in thanksgiving and praise. When we regard the vastness of your eternal love, we are awed, and our spirits applaud you! When we consider how you did not end humanity’s stay on earth because we fell into sin, error, doubt, selfishness, and disbelief, yet called to us with the voice of an infant, opened your arms to us from the cross, died for our sakes, and rose in triumph for our eternal life; We are stunned by your grace, and we praise your name!

We pray for the world, suffering so much harsh weather this last year, displacing people, destroying homes, devastating whole areas. Fires, floods, storms, tornadoes… it’s just too much to take in, and we pray for those affected. For health crises of opioid addiction and the flu and all the old diseases, we pray not only for the victims and those who treat them, but also for researcher who may yet end some of these illnesses. We pray too for the human hotspots on this planet, which often seem worse than the natural catastrophes. We have the litany— Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, the Sudan, Darfur, and a dozen brushfires, conflicts, civil unrest. Further, we pray that the underlying causes of war and threat of war— injustice, greed, tribal and ethnic passions, insecurity, ancient feuds, or self-aggrandizing leaders— diminish and be replaced by equality, justice, compassion, fairness, and international compassion. We pray for the world; we pray for peace. While making a pun out of “souper bowl” may be cute, the trouble our neighbors have to feed themselves is not, and we pray for local hunger-alleviation ministries we support, even as we approach you communion table where you spread physical and spiritual bread. That all the world may be fed we pray.

We continue to pray for the ordinary-sized heartaches, the typical problems, the normal wear and tear your children endure— illness, injury, declining mental or physical faculties, grief, poverty, natural catastrophe, physical, sexual, or mental abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, crime, terrorism, or family strife. We pray for people we don’t know, trying to make our prayers for their well-being as strong as for those souls we know. We ask you to ride with the travelers, sit next to the bedridden, point the way to the confused, light the darkness for the desperate, ring like a church bell in the ears of the wayward. We ask your continuing blessing and wisdom for the PNC in these important next steps of their work on our behalf. We pray for ourselves, that as a congregation which might expand our witness to the goodness of your gospel of love and salvation. Grant us more wisdom and bravery than we usually dredge up, that your spirit will ignite in us vision and strength. We pray for your church, in ever-widening circles, from ourselves, to those who sit in the pew with us, to the rest of us in this sanctuary, then widening out to include the other churches here in Honeoye Falls and Lima and Rush and Mendon… and the surrounding area, and the rest of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley, broadening out to include everyone who worships in New York State, and in this nation, all who are in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), those in our sister denominations, and finally widening to include all your disciples, Jesus, in every place and in every tradition, asking that from the least to the biggest you will strengthen your congregations in spirit and wisdom and mission and ministry and worship and service, as we approach the table Jesus nourishes us body and soul, saying…

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.

Presentation of Our Gifts and Offerings

Offertory

*Doxology
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

*Prayer of Dedication
Loving God, you provide for us most generously. We give you thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Thank you for our families and community; for the people who enrich our lives and those who challenge us. Above all we thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ and the new life in him. We dedicate these gifts to you that they may be used for your glory. Amen.

Sharing Holy Communion

Invitation to the Lord’s Table
This is the joyful feast of the people of God. Men and women, youth and children, come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and gather about Christ’s table.
According to Luke, when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took the bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
This table is for all Christians who wish to know the presence of Christ and to share in the community of God’s people.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is truly right and our greatest joy to give you thanks and praise, eternal God our Creator.
Eternal God, as you led your people in ages past, you direct our journey into the future. We give you thanks that you came to us in Jesus Christ, and we eagerly await his coming again that his rule may be complete and your righteousness reign over all the world. Then we will feast at his royal banquet, and sing his praises with the choirs of heaven. By your Spirit, open our eyes to the generosity of your hand, and nurture our souls in all spiritual gifts.

Eternal God, we unite in this covenant of faith, recalling Christ’s suffering and death, rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection, and awaiting Christ’s return in victory.

We spread your table with these gifts of the earth and of our labor. We pre-sent to you our very lives, committed to your service in behalf of all people. We ask you to send your Holy Spirit on this bread and cup, on our gifts, and on us. Strengthen your universal church that it may be the champion of peace and justice in all the world. Restore the earth with your grace that is able to make all things new.
Be present with us as we share this meal, and throughout all our lives, that we may know you as the Holy One, who with Christ and the Holy Spirit, lives for ever. Amen.

The Words of Institution
We remember that on the night of betrayal and desertion, and on the eve of death, Jesus gathered the disci-ples for the feast of Passover.

Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks to you as we have done in his name, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying: “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Sharing the Bread and Cup
Jesus said: “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
“This is my body, broken for you. Take, eat, all of you.”

Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches.
Cut off from me, you can do nothing. Abide in me and so bear fruit.”
“This is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me.”

The gifts of God for the people of God.

Prayer after Communion
By your Spirit make us one with Christ, that we may be one with all who share this feast, united in ministry in every place. As this bread is Christ’s body for us, send us out to be the body of Christ in the world. Strengthen us, O God, in the power of your Spirit to bring good news to the poor and lift blind eyes to sight, to loose the chains that bind and claim your blessing for all people. Keep us faithful in your service until Christ comes in final victory, and we shall feast with all your saints in the joy of your eternal realm. Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty God, now and forever. Amen.

*Hymn 686 “God of Our Life”

*Charge and Benediction
Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold on to what is good; return to no person evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the suffering; honor all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The grace of our Savior Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

*Choral Response “Fairest Lord Jesus” Hymnal 630, Verse 4

*Postlude