Worship- The Companion- May 17th
Updated: May 17
Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, and also Syttende Mai, Norway's National Day for those Scandinavians in our congregation.. be sure to view the video presentation of Norway's National Anthem with some great photos of Norway and its celebration.
Jesus does not abandon his followers. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to abide with his disciples of every generation. As Pentecost draws near, we are reminded that the risen Christ dwells in us as the Spirit of truth. We receive this Spirit in baptism and pray that in our gathering around the Lord’s table the Spirit will transform us to be the body of the risen Christ in the world.
Opening Hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth LBW #561
"For the Beauty of the Earth.", written by Folliot Pierpoint in 1864, praises the beautiful world that we inhabit and the many things he loved. He mentions many aspects of existence for which he is grateful, including the earth and skies, tree and flower, human love and "best gift divine." This joyous hymn is a great reminder of all the beauty that surrounds us and to not take this for granted! Performed here by Audrey Assad.
For the Beauty of the Earth LBW #561
1 For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies:
Christ, our Lord, to you we raise, this our sacrifice of praise.
2 For the wonder of each hour, of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flow’r, sun and moon and stars of light: Refrain
3 For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony, linking sense to sound and sight: Refrain
4 For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above; for all gentle thoughts and mild: Refrain
5 For yourself, best gift divine, to the world so freely giv’n;
agent of God’s grand design, peace on earth and joy in heav’n: Refrain
Text: Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1835-1917, alt.
“I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus promises us in today’s gospel. God is not some ruthless heavenly spectator judging us as on reality television, relishing our failures, wishing to exchange us for a better or more attractive child. Rather, God comes to love us in Jesus, singularly loving and accepting, seeking our trust, promising to be ever-present with us in the Holy Spirit. This Holy Advocate moves us even when we don’t recognize its power, even when it seems “an unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Though we might battle an elemental loneliness, we have not been abandoned.
Many life experiences can leave us feeling orphaned or abandoned. Family can ease that feeling but also magnify it if our family relationships are strained or if our families live far away. Think of those in your congregation who count deployed soldiers among their loved ones in recent years, or construction workers and tradesmen who need to live in hotels far away from their families to keep making money for their families in the recent difficult economy. The Internet, webcams, Skype, and social networking can link people across the miles but can further aggravate loneliness and isolation when these substitute for real intimacy in our highly connected world. How do we experience this loneliness and this longing for home and belonging? How does Jesus’ promise that he will not leave us orphaned speak to these real-life concerns?
When Jesus makes promises in John 14, saying that he will remain with us in the Holy Spirit as our Advocate, it’s hard to envision how this support comes to us sometimes. When we do not get to see or hear those we love, the simple gifts Jesus offers in body and blood, bread and wine shared with real warm neighbors have great power. Even when life keeps delivering bad news about how far apart we are from another, how broken our relationships are, “I will not leave you orphaned” is the godly reassurance that we are not alone.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, you hold together all things in heaven and on earth. In your great mercy receive the prayers of all your children, and give to all the world the Spirit of your truth and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Acts 17:22-31 Paul Addresses the Areopagus
Click on the picture to start the narration
In Athens, Paul faces the challenge of proclaiming the gospel to Greeks who know nothing of either Jewish or Christian tradition. He proclaims that the “unknown god” whom they worship is the true Lord of heaven and earth who will judge the world with justice through Jesus, whom God has raised from the dead.
Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Here ends the reading.
Psalm: Psalm 66:8-20 Bless Our God!
Click on the picture to start the narration
Bless our God, you peoples; let the sound of praise be heard. (Ps. 66:8)
Bless our God, you peoples; let the sound of praise be heard. Our God has kept us among the living and has not allowed our feet to slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us just as silver is tried. You brought us in to the net; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us out into a place of refreshment. I will enter your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows— those that I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble. I will offer you burnt offerings of fatlings with the smoke of rams; I will give you oxen and goats. Come and listen, all you who believe, and I will tell you what God has done for me. I called out to God with my mouth, and praised the Lord with my tongue. If I had cherished evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me; but in truth God has heard me and has attended to the sound of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld unfailing love from me.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:13-22 Suffering for Righteousness Sake
Click on the picture to start the narration
The author of 1 Peter encourages Christians to remain faithful even in the face of defamation and persecution. In baptism we are made clean to act in accordance with what is right.
Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Here ends the reading.
Alleluia. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Alleluia. (John 14:23)
Gospel: John 14:15-21 Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
Click on the picture to start the narration
In final words to his disciples on the night of his arrest, Jesus encourages obedience to his commandments and speaks of the Spirit, who will be with them forever.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
SERMON - OUR COMPANION
One thing we all want is a Companion. The dictionary says this: A companion is a person with whom one spends a lot of time or travels with—intended to complement each other.
Who is this Spirit, you might ask. Well, the Spirit of God is difficult to describe. The other two members of the Trinity are much easier to describe. God the Father created the heavens and the earth from nothing. He spoke and the waters were parted and dry ground appeared. He hung the stars and the moon in the heavens. He breathed life into women and men. The works of creation enable us to understand God the Father.
We can also more easily understand, God the Son. He was the baby born of a virgin. He obeyed his Father, now that might be more difficult to grasp at times, but we are able to appreciate a relationship between parent and child. However, how does the Holy Spirit enter the equation? The Spirit of God is “so mysterious, so secret - that we struggle to understand and appreciate the third person of the Trinity. No doubt, the disciples did also.
We must remind ourselves of the time and setting of this passage. Jesus is at the table with his disciples. They are behind closed doors. The city of Jerusalem was preparing to celebrate the festival of the Passover meal. Judas has left the fellowship to arrange for his act of betrayal. Jesus has predicted Peter’s denial and the desertion by the other disciples. How much of his pending doom he specifically knew, remains a mystery to us, but from his recorded words, we can assume that he was expecting to die very soon. So, to prepare the eleven for his imminent death, he tells them about the role of the Holy Spirit. He says, “
I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. (Jn 14:16)
This promise is prefaced with a rather startling statement “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Hmm—is this conditional to a life of obedience? That would be like a mother saying to her young baby, “Child, if you stop crying in the middle of the night, if you eat all your food without spilling any on the floor, if you pick up all your clothes and toys, then I will give you my love and take care of you.” Now as we all know mothers are not above doing certain things to get our attention.
While a parent may attempt to influence a child’s behavior, a caring parent will not withhold love from their child. Jesus is not warning his disciples that the gift of the Spirit is conditional but rather describing the relationship of the disciples to their Master. Keeping the commandments of God is a natural expression of our love for him. “We trust Christ because we love him and loving and trusting him we follow him.” Obedience is the natural response to a loving relationship. We want to please the people who love us and care for us. God then returns that affection by giving the disciples another Counselor.
Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit comes to do two things. First, the Spirit provides companionship-- “to be with you forever….the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive… abides with you, and he will be in you.’ He wants them to know that they will never be abandoned as orphans.
This was a very important promise. I have known a few people who were adopted--& one who never was—she grew up in an orphanage. I heard the pain of her loneliness, having never known their mother or father. Jesus tells his disciples, “You will never be orphans.” You will never wander the countryside alone and forsaken. You will have another Counselor with you.
The assurance of loving, caring presence in our lives is so important throughout our lives. Children who grow up in unstable homes often struggle with feelings of rejection and low self worth all their lives. We need the emotional support of other people through-out our life. We especially need it during life threatening situations.
When I was 26 I had one such event. My doctor in Crookston said I needed immediate surgery for a large tumor in my body. They wouldn’t know if it was cancerous until they went in. Of course I was scared…but mostly for the 2 little girls in my care. What would happen to them if I didn’t make it? Jerry was a construction worker—travelling all over the states—I couldn’t imagine him being able to work & also take care of them. So I needed a Counselor bad. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, show me what to do.” He did. He counseled me to ask my sweet sister who lived a few houses away if she & her hubby would take care of our girls if something happened to me. They immediately said “Yes.” Bless their hearts.
Then the day of surgery came--& I felt so alone. Mom couldn’t come with me, my sisters had their kids to take care of, and Jerry was in another state. But God made a way—He provided me with a caring Sister-Nun at the hospital—who was by my side, spoke peace & assurance into my heart that I was in the good hands of a loving Savior. She held my hand many times throughout the process. When I went into surgery, she was there, when I came out, she was there holding my hand. Then Dr. Choitani came in with the best words I heard in my life, “It was benign.” O Glory Hallelujah—no sweeter words. The precious sister, still holding my hand, said, “Jesus promised to never leave or forsake you.” He didn’t.
As I convalesced for 6 weeks, God sent other companions & helpers in human form—friends & relatives who helped me take care of the girls, bring in firewood, do the laundry, make meals. I couldn’t even lift a coffee pot. And the Counselor, Helper, Companion—Holy Spirit was with me all the time.
Soon I was up and running again—gaining back the strength to be all I needed to be—as a mom, wife, friend, sister. I changed from that experience---I learned how to accept help from others, and not be so fussy in the house. The girls still talk about how I lost my “perfectionism” through that & didn’t mind if they spilled their milk or came into the house with dirty boots. There were more important issues in life than that! I was healthy again, the girls had their Mom back, and all was well.
So it was with the disciples. Jesus told them he would send another Counselor-Companion that would be along side them so that they would know they would never be alone, & would help them through life.
It is tempting to end this sermon on that wonderful promise that God would never leave us desolate. Our lives our marked by many unexpected events that create turmoil and distress. We need a Spirit of Comfort, someone whose presence brings reassurance.
God the Spirit not only comforts us during the terrors of the night but he keeps pointing us back to the truth about the Son of God. He is our counselor who stands with us during a crises and he is also the one who guides us into the truth. He brings the security of God’s love. We thank you for sending us our beloved Counselor-Companion-Helper, & we bless you, O Lord. Amen
Hymn of the Day Abide with Me LBW #272
The Story Behind Abide With Me -Henry Lyte was left an orphan at the age of nine and was taken in by a kind Irish minister named Dr. Robert Borrows. Even though Dr. Borrows had five children of his own, he took Henry in and paid for his schooling. Henry followed in Dr. Borrows footsteps and attended Trinity College in Dublin, where he won prizes and scholarships for poetry. Henry graduated in 1814 and became an ordained ministry of the Church of England.
Henry overworked himself taking care of the sick and soon had to visit France to regain health. Henry and his wife Anna spent their days carrying for the sick and needy every single day and visiting warmer France in the winter. Henry became ill with tuberculosis and was not expected to live much longer. At the age of 45, Henry prepared a speech for the morning of September 4, 1847 which included the lyrics of Abide With Me.
The Fron Male Voice Choir sing "Abide With Me" on Songs of Praise 20th Sept 2009. UMG (on behalf of Decca (UMO)); SOLAR Music Rights Management, LatinAutor - SonyATV, LatinAutor, ASCAP, Sony ATV Publishing, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA - UBEM, LatinAutor - UMPG, Public Domain Compositions, EMI Music Publishing, UMPI, and 2 Music Rights Societies
1 Abide with me, fast falls the eventide. The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
2 I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour; what but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me.
3 Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me.
4 I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me!
5 Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847
Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
A brief silence.
Abiding God, you have revealed yourself to us in the form of your Son, Jesus Christ. Embolden your church, as your followers, to reveal your love to everyone in our speaking and in our living. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
You are the creator of heaven and earth. Revitalize the health of oceans, rivers, lakes, springs, glaciers, and other bodies of water that give life to your creatures. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
You call all people of the world your children. Judge the nations justly, show mercy to the oppressed, and speak truth to power through your prophets. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
You come near to us when we are lost, and you hear our distress. We pray for those who suffer in any way (especially those we name in our hearts today). Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Your commands are good and merciful. Give us courage to take hold of our baptismal promises to work for justice, advocate for the voiceless, and free the oppressed and imprisoned in body, mind, or spirit. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
You remain with us always, O God, and your kingdom has no end. We remember the saints who have gone before us (especially those we name in our hearts today). Unite us forever in your final victory over death. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord.
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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the power, and the glory, forever and ever,
During this time, it can be a strain on households, but please continue your giving as you are able. For now, send your offerings to Raymond Sundrud, Treasurer at: 35563 300th Street SE, Fosston, MN 56542.
our ordinary gifts seem small for such a celebration,
but you make of them an abundance,
just as you do with our lives.
Feed us again at this table
for service in your name,
in the strength of the risen Christ.
Verse 1 May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord smile on you Shine His light upon you, May the Lord lift you Turn His face towards you, Give you His peace give you His peace Verse 2 May the Lord bless us and keep us, May the Lord smile on us Shine His light upon us, May the Lord lift us Turn His face towards us, Give us His peace give us His peace Chorus Blessed we came to this place today, And blessed now we will go In the name of the Father the Spirit and the Son (REPEAT) Ending Go now in peace, Go now in peace
Closing - Syttende Mai (Norway's National Day) May 17th
In recognition of Syttende Mai, we will close with Norway's National Anthem:
Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet (Yes, We Love Our Country)
Ja, vi elsker dette landet - Yes we love this land - National Anthem of the Kingdom of Norway (Kongeriket Norge) Written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson - 1859-1864 Adopted - 1864
"Ja, vi elsker dette landet, som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet, med de tusen hjem,
elsker, elsker det og tenker, på vår far og mor,
på den saganatt som senker, drømmer på vår jord,
på den saganatt som senker, senker drømmer på vår jord."
"Yes, we love this country, as it rises forth,
wrinkled, weather-beaten over the water, with the thousand homes,
loving it, loving it and thinking, of our father and mother,
of the saga night that lowers, dreams upon our earth,
of the saga night that lowers, lowers dreams upon our earth."
Christ is risen, just as he said.
Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!
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New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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