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  • Thank you, Pete and Gene.

Welcome to our church website.

We are glad you are here!

We hope to see you in worship.

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"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." - MLK. Jr.

Today, January 15, 2019, is Martin Luther King, Jr's. Birthday. He was born 90 days ago.

Dr. King helped lead us out of a national thicket of hatred and racism. As a nation, we were lost. We were convinced the way the world was, was the way the world was going to be.

These days there are some who seem to be proud of saying and doing offensive things. They appeal to the basest instincts in human nature. If we do not stand up to them, the world will wander back into the thicket.

In honor of Dr. King, I want to share with you a commencment address by Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven. Among other things, he talks about the individual power we have to change the world for the better.

I encourage you to listen to it for inspiration:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7QL6hjeNDA

 

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SERMON

"Attractive Prayer"

Mark 4: 35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

 

I’ve never been much of a fisherman, but my father and grandfather were. My grandfather had a camper he used for fishing trips to Canada. My father traveled a lot for business. If he saw a promising stream he would stop and take out the pole and tackle box that he kept in the trunk. Even though I am not much of a fisherman, there’s one thing I learned from them and that is there are certain kinds of bait to attract certain kinds of fish. Worms catch catfish. Lures catch bass. Fly fishing is what we use to catch trout. And, what’s more, you can’t catch anything from your living room sofa - which is my problem.

I titled the sermon “Attractive Prayer,” because I am wondering if maybe certain kinds of prayers attract God’s attention? Now, I know this image of prayer as bait is already troublesome. But isn’t it true, that when we pray, we feel like we are praying to attract God? “Hey, God, look over here! Can’t you see what’s happening to me? Don’t you care?” Sometimes prayer feels like we are fishing for God. If we read the Psalms, they often sound just like that. Psalm 88:14, says, “God turn your face towards us - look over here!” Psalm 13 begins with the same phrase four times in a row, “How long, O Lord!” “How Long, O Lord!” The way they are repeating they sound like our church bells chiming for attention. So, this idea of prayers as attracting God is not new.

Now, it’s easy to see why the disciples wanted to attract God that day on the lake. Jesus had finished a day of preaching. They are out in the boat. It is calm and pleasant. One moment the words of Jesus are soothing them and the next moment everything changes: thunder is booming, lightning is flashing, rain is tearing at the sails. The boat is flooding with water. It’s not too hard to imagine the disciples might have felt flooded with fear.

And how confusing! But, “We are right here with Jesus! Bad things are not supposed to happened to us! We try to do the right things. We aren’t bad people. We go to worship! How could this be happening to us!”

Not hard to imagine how the disciples might have felt, is it?

When we are worrying, or when we are in trouble, it can feel like we are drowning. Right? Maybe the bills are cresting, maybe our marriage is heading for the rocks, maybe our children are wading into troubled waters, maybe it is just the normal winds of everyday life, but, at times, it can feel like we are being overwhelmed.

What I want us to think about this morning is this: what does this passage say to us about attractive prayer? Notice - the disciples do NOT begin with faith. They are a ship-full of doubt. They aren’t confident everything would be OK…. even though Jesus was right there on the boat with them. They were confused and scared and not sure what to do next.

So, what did they do? What led to them having faith?

The only obvious thing they had that day on the sea was fear. They were knee-deep in doubt.

Maybe that is part of the message. If all we have to start with – FEAR, NEEDINESS and DOUBT - that is enough.

The disciples were storm-tossed, scared, wet with sea water, and all they knew for sure is they needed help, but it was enough.

I guess if there is one thing we can say for the disciples, it’s – At least they had enough sense – or maybe it was faith – to call on Jesus. Even if they were unsure of what he could do. They knew whose name to call and when they did, Jesus was there. Maybe he was there all along, but when they called him, but then they knew he was there.

Notice – first was the storm, then their desperate attempts to bail out the boat, their cries of fear, finally, they called on Jesus, THEN, the storm was calmed.

It wasn’t until afterwards, after the crisis had passed, that they could look back with awe, at how Christ had saved them. Their need for help, helped them find faith.

Sometimes, that NEED is all we have.

The truth is, there are times when that is all we will have is the fear and the doubt. And our faith will come down to one thing – knowing WHO call when the times get tough - and that will be enough. Faith is the act of trusting Jesus. Even when we are unsure of what will happen next. We use the word “act,” here because sometimes that’s all we have. We may not have the heart to go with it. Like the disciples, when we call upon Jesus, it may be because we are not sure what else to do.

I know a minister who went through a period of depression, and during a visit to him a few months after the depression lifted he said this:

 

For the longest time, I believed with my feet and my hands and not with my heart. My feet got me to church. My hands held the hymnal, I mouthed the prayers and I did that - not so much because I believed - but because I wanted to believe. It was only in time I began to believe Jesus was with me in the boat all along.

 

Faith is knowing who to call and doing it.

 

So the kind of prayers which attract God is need. If there is need in our prayers, God will have need to hear us. Anytime we come to God with a genuine need in our soul, God is hearing us as surely as anyone who truly loves us, hears us. God doesn’t hold the weakness of our faith against us.

Even those who don’t believe completely or rightly are blest by God.

I want you to notice something else about this passage today. Notice that at the beginning of the story in verse 36, Mark says, “And other boats went with him.” Here is my question, “Do you think those sailors noticed the storm blowing in around them about to swamp their boats?” I bet they did. But, it isn’t clear if they know who calmed the storm, is it? They were no doubt praying to their own gods for help. Maybe they didn’t think there are any gods or God? But, nevertheless, Christ in his love, saved them all.

Karl Barth, the Protestant theologian, was commenting on this passage and he said: Christ even saves those who have no idea they are being saved. God brings calm and peace into the lives of people who don’t even consider that there is a God. God often blesses people with no faith at all - probably in an attempt to give them faith, I suppose.

 

As people of faith, we know who calmed the storm. We know who silenced the wind. Our calling is to say, “Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow!”

Too often we are like the man who was late for a meeting and he was trying to find a parking place. He was getting desperate and so he prayed, “God, if you will only get me parking place, I will stop drinking and go to church.” Well, miraculously a parking spot opened up right infront of him and the man said, “Never mind, I found one.”

God hears our prayers. Even when they are not said in perfect faith.

It may not be attractive to us, but to God, hearing our need for help, for peace, for comfort, seeing our need to heal, to grow, is what attracts God. However we pray, let us pray trusting God will grace our lives with something good and something good to be found.

 

TO GOD BE THE GLORY. FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.

Let us pray...

Gracious God, giver of all good gifts, we thank you for the beauty of this day, for places to worship and for people to love. We pray to find ourselves with a cup rich in thankfulness and overflowing with gratitude. We think of Saint Francis, who put the needs of others and his service to you before all things, and in doing so, found the peace so many of us seek. We remember his words:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

May this be our prayer today and guide us this week.

In Christ, we pray. Amen.

 

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Church: A model community of the imperfect

 

Eugene Peterson, from his Introduction to the book of James.

 

When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business, except, perhaps, business – and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It’s similar with sinners outside the church.

So Christian churches as not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human behavior is brought out in the open, faced and dealt with.

 

Together in Christ,

Stephen


“A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”

The Presbyterian Church was an unexpected offspring of a religious movement called “The Reformation.” Two of the leading Reformers of the time, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564), had no intention of forming a new church, at least not initially. Their desire was to reform the present day Catholic Church, to purge the Church of corruptions and set it more in line with the traditions and theology of Scripture and of the early church. The Reformers became known as “Protestants” because their requests for change sounded more and more like protests.

The Presbyterian Church is one of several churches that can trace their origins to the Reformation. Presbyterians get their name from the Greek word “presbuteros” which means “elder.” The term refers to the system, in apostolic times, of choosing leaders from among the wisest members of the church. A prominent doctrine of the Reformation was “the priesthood of all believers.” Reformed churches designed themselves in ways that gave more power to the congregation. The Presbyterians established a representative system where elders, presbyters and commissioners were elected.

The French organized the first congregation in 1555 and the French Huguenots were one of the first Presbyterians to reach America, followed closely by the English, Dutch, German, Irish and Scottish. In 1706 the first American presbytery was formed in Philadelphia and soon after the Synod of Philadelphia in 1716. 1789 marked the First General Assembly in Philadelphia.

The Church grew and diversified as it headed westward. By 1800 there were 20,000 members. In another thirty-seven years, there were 220,000. With the growth in numbers came an increase of conflict, separation and sometimes reunion. “Old School” and “New School” divisions plagued Presbyterians for years. The most infamous of issues was slavery. The Civil War severely divided the Church.

The next 120 years saw movements toward reunification. In 1958 the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) and the United Presbyterian Church of North America merged to form the Presbyterian Church in the United States of American (UPCUSA). In 1983 the two largest Presbyterian Churches united at the Atlanta General Assembly (G.A.): the southern-based Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) and the northern-based (UPCUSA). In 1985 the G.A. approved a seal for the new Church. There are some powerful images in the symbol which reveal what is important to us as Presbyterians. Today there are about 2,000,000 members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the largest of the mainline Presbyterian denominations.

“Unexpected” may seem like a good way to describe the beginnings of the Presbyterian Church. But for Presbyterians it has always been the “providence of God.”

Together in Christ,

Stephen

 
 
Contact Us  
Churchville Presbyterian Church

2844 Churchville Road
Churchville, Maryland 21028
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Phone 410-734-7344
Announcements
WINTER WORSHIP SCHEDULE

8:30 a.m. Informal Service   

9:15 a.m. Adult Class

9:30 a.m. Youth & Children Sunday School

10:30 a.m. Traditional Service 

January Events

 

 

 

 

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