Joseph Forgives

Introduction
This month, we are exploring forgiveness. And today we turn to the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers. Listen now for God’s word for you. ​

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Is Forgiveness Conditional?

Intro:
This month we are taking a look at what the Bible says about forgiveness. Last week we studied the great flood and Noah’s ark – God’s disappointment in the wickedness of humanity, the destruction of creation, and the forgiveness offered from to God Noah in the covenant.

Today we move into the New Testament, specifically to 1st John. It’s a message written to the Johannine early Christian community. The church at this time is struggling with the humanity and divinity of Christ. People are leaving the church because they’re not sure Jesus is necessary for their salvation. So, with that context in mind I invite you to listen now for the word of God for you.

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Noah’s Ark

Picture

Photo Source: http://noahsearch.com
Preacher: Rev. Dawn Hyde

Scripture: Noahs’ Ark

Our scripture reading today comes from various chapters in the book of Genesis. You’ll find the reading in your bulletin or on the screen. Listen now for God’s word for you. ​

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Servant

Introduction

Today we conclude our sermon series on the Prodigal Son. So far, we have explored this parable through the perspective of the father, the elder son, and the younger son. Today, I invite you to hear this story through the perspective of the servant. The servant is only given one line, but is present throughout the story.

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Younger Son

Scripture 

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned ll against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion;  he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned //against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy ll to be called your son.’

22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’  28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’’

31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son ll, you are always with me, ll and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God. 

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Elder Son

Preached by Elder Ryan Tang.

Scripture 

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned ll against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion;  he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned //against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy ll to be called your son.’

22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’  28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’’

31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son ll, you are always with me, ll and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God. 

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A Father’s Love

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.
14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

20 So he set off and went to his father.
But while he was still far off,
his father saw him
and was filled with compassion;
he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’  28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

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Look to God

Scripture:
Philippians 2:1-13 – Imitating Christ’s Humility

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death–
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

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Acceptance

Scripture 

Romans 15​:1-13
New International Version (NIV)

15 W​e who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
2 E​ach of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
3 F​or even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
4 F​or everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 M​ay the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 s​o that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”

10 A​gain, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

11 A​nd again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

12 A​nd again, Isaiah says,“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”

13 M​ay the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

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What is Church?

Rev. Dawn Hyde

Intro to Scripture Reading
Our scripture passage today describes the earliest Christian church. We pick up reading at the end of Acts 2.  To refresh our memories, a lot has happened in Acts so far. Jesus ascends into heaven in Acts 1.Then Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church – happens at the beginning of Acts 2. 

At Pentecost, Peter raises his voice and begins to explain what is happening. He explains why people are speaking in various languages and then he continues on to explain Jesus of Nazareth. 
“A man who we saw performing miracles and wonders. A man, who we crucified…
But God raised him up and freed him from death.”

The people listening to Peter are “cut to the heart” and ask what they can do in response.
Peter says, “repent and be baptized.”

So those who welcomed his message were baptized and that day three thousand persons were added.
Hear now the word of God for you…

Scripture: 
Acts 2:42-47
New International Version (NIV)

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon:
Today we begin a new sermon series on church. This month, we’ll explore questions like: What is church? What can we expect from each other in the church community? And when must we look instead to God?

So, first we’ll explore the concept of church. What is church?

Well, churches are a lot like non-profit organizations in that we seek to do good in our community. Churches organize events and fundraise for mission activities. We help those in need. 
Churches are also a lot like social clubs. We get together and hang out. We laugh. We eat. A lot. 

So what sets us apart from other organizations? 
[pose to congregation] 

What do you think makes church unique?

  • we worship
  • we’re grounded in God. Our thoughts and actions are of God.
  • sing
  • pray
  • communion and baptisms
  • we are intentional about our fellowship being inclusive for others
  • we do mission/service out of our faith. 

When a new organization is formed, it’s important to articulate what it does and why it is needed. 

Our scripture passage is doing just that for the church. It describes what set the first Christian church apart from all other organizations. 

Four basic things:
(1) Teaching
(2) Fellowship
(3) Breaking of Bread
(4) Prayer

It’s important to note that these early Christians did similar activity as Jews. They still went to temple courts. They “broke bread,” which was a customary way to begin a meal in the jewish tradition.

The unique difference is the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection

When they shared teachings, those teachings were about Jesus’ life and ministry. His death and resurrection. And when they broke bread they repented of their sins and turned to Christ for forgiveness. When they prayed, they prayed to Jesus. 
These early Christians went to the temple courts, but they also began to gather and worship in their homes. At each gathering, they did these four core things:
(1) Teaching
(2) Fellowship
(3) Breaking of Bread
(4) Prayer

As we think about this first church gathering in people’s homes, focusing on these four practices daily,  I wonder how far we have come today… Do these practices still look the same?

Today instead of walking into someone’s home for a meal and sharing scripture and prayer, most of us go online to shop for churches. In fact, most people who come to our church find us on yelp, reading about other’s experiencing and then coming for themselves to check us out.

And in addition to these four core practices (teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer), here are a lot of other things we fit into being church.

For us in particular, we like this homey space. With a fireplace and bright colors. Warm, intimate. We like music – a variety of music – as a way we express our prayer. We like technology and bulletins to keep people connected and prepared for what is coming next. We like having our candles to light and offering so that we can give back to those in need. 
We like our coffee and tea….

But all of these things exist to support what is key in worship. What is key in church – an intentional connection to God. 
A connection that happens through 4 practices Christians have been doing for thousands of years…you guessed it:
(1) Teaching
(2) Fellowship
(3) Breaking of Bread
(4) Prayer

These four practices have become the core essentials of the church. The “marks” of a true church. 

And we do all of them on Sunday.

We teach during the sermon.
We fellowship by greeting each other and sharing dinner afterwards.
We break bread in communion every Sunday.
And we pray, lots. All throughout the service. 

We do all of these on Sundays when we come together as a church….but the challenge is to bring this into our daily lives. 

Beyond Sunday…how are you dwelling in scripture? In the teachings of Jesus?
Beyond Sunday…how are you fellowshipping with the community. Nurturing relationships with those God has called? 
Beyond Sunday…where and when are we breaking bread together? Not just meals with each other, but intentionally remembering who Christ is and what he has done for us…together?
Beyond Sunday…when do we pray? On our own, with those around us, for those around us?
—-

The honest truth is that we’ve fallen a bit from these earnest early Christian worshippers. We’ve relaxed our standards of reading scripture, praying, breaking bread and fellowship to once a week in worship together. 

And we’ve suffered.

We all have. Because these practices aren’t for God’s good. They are for our own.

When we seek to engage with Christ’s teachings, breaking bread, fellowshipping and praying daily, our spiritual life flourishes. We become intimately connected with our Savior and with one another.

These early followers were so eager to be together, to remember the story, to hold on to the power and love they felt in Christ… that they practiced these things every day. Every single day, in order to hold close to each other and Christ. 

The question for us becomes, how do we fix this? How do we get back to the basics?
…..

We practice. 
We find more ways to get together beyond Sunday and support each other in these four practices.

Look around the room.
I challenge each of us to find someone to have coffee with…or lunch. Start small. Start simple. 

Before you leave this sanctuary today, get someone’s contact information. Their email address.  Set up a time to meet during the week. 

I promise you all four of these practices – breaking bread, teaching, fellowship and prayer – can all happen in a 30 min meeting in a coffee shop. 

In this challenge, the particular goal is to be specific about our intention. 
We’re not just getting together for coffee or a meal to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company – as important and worthwhile as that is…

We are getting together to glorify God. 

So when you get together:
– Open a bible. It will make a difference, I promise.
– Say a prayer. At some point. Out loud. To each other. 
– Pray for each other, lift each other to God. 

It’s in these practices – praying, reading scripture, communing over a good beverage or meal…. that our faith is enriched. We are enriched.
It’s in practicing these four “marks of the church” that we truly know we are alive.
——

I left the Clendenin’s house Monday night after small group with such joy in my heart. Together, we shared a meal. A delicious meal. We embraced Beth and Dylan’s hospitality. We got to hang with their kids before they went to bed. We prayed for the meal and for our time together. After we had eaten, we opened the bible. To 1st Kings. To the story of Elijah becoming known as a prophet and the miracles of abundance he was able to share in the name of God.

As we reflected on the scripture together, the words took on such deeper meaning. We learned from each other what it means to trust in God in our times of need. We pondered why we don’t share what we have with those in need…opening ourselves to the miracles of God.

The Holy Spirit moved in that space to include personal sharing of our stories. Many of us shared how we came to faith in Jesus Christ. Where God has showed up in our lives that has given us new life and hope…

I left that gathering thinking…THIS is church. And I want more of it. Like every night, I wish I was connecting to God and to my community in this way.

Growing up in a Christian household, it was important to my parents that we share a meal together each day. It didn’t matter the time – usually shifted as we grew older and juggled more extracurriculars with my parent’s work schedules, but without fail… I remember being around that table. And before we could begin, we took turns to pray. 

Prayer and being together set the meal apart from the other meals in my life. This one was sacred. With family. With people who know me most intimately and love me no matter what. This meal is with people who are promising to love and support me. Showing me, through their presence and relationship with me, what Christ’s grace and forgiveness and love looks like. 

It wasn’t a perfect meal every night. You can be sure of that. Many nights my sister stormed off in tears, upset that we had joked too far, my parents argued with each other, showing us that even the family you choose can be hard company to keep. My siblings and I rivaled with sports and school and social lives…and yet, when I look back on it, I realize they were the best embodiment of Christ’s love and acceptance for me. Even as imperfect as it was.

Still, to this day, we all speak the language of prayer. It’s not weird for us as siblings or parents to open a bible together and share a story or offer to pray for each other in times of fear and need. We trust each other. We support each other. And it’s all based off of faith. Off of the spiritual practices given to us in Jesus Christ. 

This church – Mission Bay Community Church – has the ability and the power to be Christ’s light and love for each other. We have the ability to do this for each other beyond when we are together like this on Sunday…

But it takes some work. Some scheduling of meetings and making time. Some intentionality and overcoming embarrassment to pull out our bibles in the coffee shop and close our eyes to offer a prayer. 

What I promise you is that this challenge is worth it. The challenge to practice your faith will only end with more intimacy and connection with God for you. 

So, let’s get back to the basics of church.
Teaching 
Fellowship
Breaking Bread
Prayer

And see how God grows your discipleship. 
Amen.

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