Today’s service opened with the reading of Psalm 40. The Psalm and following prayer, presented by Deacon Chandler Bainter, focused much the blessing and protection that God bestows on those who seek and follow Him, and gives reasons for those who follow to praise Him.
Minster of Worship and Praise, Johann Kim, reiterated the message of this Psalm while leading the gathered through an opening set of worship songs:
- I Lift My Hands
- O Worship the King
- Purify My Heart
- There is a Redeemer
During a time of fellowship and greeting members and guests, the overhead projector stopped working. Kim highlighted this fact and honored God for His provision — God had lead Kim to have only hymns for the remainder of the service and the projector would not be necessary. With that, the choir ensemble sand the first two stanzas of “Tell the Good News” and the congregation joined for the last two stanzas.
Interim Pastor Ben Dockery reflected on the irony between the scripture text for today’s message, being the Resurrection of Christ, and the holiday decorations, being Christmas and celebrating birth of Christ. During the prayer, Dockery focused on the theme of the Second Sunday of Advent.
Kim prefaced the next scripture reading by reminding the gathered that the parable of the sheep and the goats which Jesus spoke is about His second coming and how He will separate those who believe and those who don’t. Mickie Bainter read Matthew 25:31-46, which was set to music composed by Kim. At the end of the passage, Dockery and his wife, Julie, came forward to read a short section of Psalm while Bainter lit the second Advent candle. “At the Name of Jesus” was sang by all, then Gary Cook said a prayer before the offering was accepted.
Dockery opened the time of preaching the Word by reading a section of Mark 16. This Sunday was the final week in our series through Mark. Dockery opened with the story of a group of fireman who were fighting a wildfire out west when the winds changed direction on them. According to their training, they should start their own fire in a small area and after it burns away an area, they should lay down in it and cover themselves with their fire blanket. What has already been burned, cannot be burned again. Although this is counter-intuitive, this is the way to survive the whirling speed of a wild-fire.
In the same way, as we heard last week, this is the way to survive the wrath of God. We are to lay down and hide ourselves in Christ who took the cup of God’s judgment. However, the story does not end with the crucifixion. As a matter of fact, if the story ends last week, then 1) our preaching is in vain, 2) our faith is in vain, 3) we miss represent God, 4) we are still in our sins, and 5) we should be pitied more than all men. (see I Corinthians 15:12-20)
Dockery covered the last 5 and 1/2 months of sermons by giving quick reminders of the story and the title of each sermon he preached. He concluded by saying that all of it was worthless. None of the preaching has any value if the resurrection did not happen. In the same way, all of the prayers, ministry, service, and worship of the church has just been another religious attempt to make ourselves feel good–unless the resurrection happened. In conclusion, Dockery talked about what it means to still be in your sins, and closed with an opportunity to believe and trust in the Jesus who was resurrected and will resurrect everyone who believes in his name. In the same way the firemen laid down and survived the fire, so we can survive judgment and have resurrected bodies.
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For a time of reflecting on the message, “Be Strong in the Lord” was sung. After Mickie Bainter reviewed a list of quick reminders, a special announcement was presented. Finally, Dockery closed the service by reading a few versus from Hebrews 13 as the benediction.