November 22, 2020
This is the 12th and final week of Matthew Part Two. We’re in Matthew 7:12–4 discussing “Jesus and the Path to Life.”
As a reminder, next Sunday, November 29 is the first Sunday of Advent. Kinda wild. Our series is Echoes of a Voice, focusing on paying attention to our haunted longings as they point us to Jesus for ultimate fulfillment in Him. In this season we’ll be hitting “pause” in a handful of ways: reflections on longings through the tradition of the Advent wreath, guided prayer, and guided fasting. We have a free guide for families and individuals that you can request a copy of here. We’ll mail those out early next week, or you can pick one up at an in-person service starting this Sunday, November 22.
Here’s how you can prepare for this Sunday and our Matthew Part Two finale:
1. Read our text, Matthew 7:12–14.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
“Whatever you would want others to do to you, do also to them.” This “Golden Rule” is perhaps the most famous of all Jesus’ teachings, and for good reason. For Jesus, this general rule of life sums up the way that human relationships ought to work in His Kingdom. His Kingdom is to be a realm where people treat one another with the honor, dignity, care, and love that they themselves desire. It’s a beautiful vision for life, and one that we all fall woefully short of. And that’s why Jesus came. In the broader context of Matthew, Jesus is very aware that He has come into a world that is falling short of God’s beautiful vision for life. Jesus was not merely a brilliant rabbi. He came to save us from our destructive plight and to establish a new Kingdom. Unfortunately, many will decide to continue on this path toward destruction. After all, it feels more in line with our bent desires, and there’s plenty of people affirming one another along the way. But Jesus has come to rescue people from that path, and He is inviting all of us to follow Him on the narrow path that leads to the life that is truly life.
2. Read, pray, and sing through the service:
Don’t use Spotify? Click the song title below to see song on YouTube.
CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 133
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
Grace Alone (Dustin Kensrue)
CONFESSION OF SIN: from Thou, Dear God by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
O Thou Eternal God,
out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence
the whole universe has come into being.
We humbly confess that we have not loved Thee with our hearts,
souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us.
We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses
rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ.
We often give in order to receive, we love our friends and hate our enemies,
we go the first mile but dare not travel the second,
we forgive but dare not forget.
And so as we look within ourselves and are confronted with the appalling fact
that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against Thee.
But Thou, O God, have mercy upon us.
Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be.
Give us the intelligence to know Thy will. Give us the courage to do Thy will.
Give us the devotion to love Thy will.
In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: 2 Corinthians 5:18–21
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
PASSING THE PEACE
(Click to Read)
When we’ve met as a large group on Sundays, we’ve always had a time of greeting one another after singing. Many churches call this time “passing the peace.” In some church traditions, one person will say to another, “The peace of Christ be with you” to which the other person responds, “And also with you.”
While potentially unfamiliar for some, we felt that “passing the peace” during greeting times at home could be a powerful act in this age marked by very little external peace. In Isaiah 9, Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace. He wants His kingdom to be marked by this very peace! We want to “pass” to one another this peace that only Jesus can give, especially at a time like this.
It might feel a bit cheesy, but we encourage you to actually pray the peace of God over each other during our times. We encourage you to look into each other’s eyes as you say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” and have others respond with, “And also with you.” Be open-hearted to Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His peace.