Worship Service – January 10, 2021

Dear Church Family & Friends,
Welcome! Our scriptures this week are, Genesis 1:1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:1-11.
I would invite you all to read these, to pray and meditate on them this week, and then listen for God’s voice.
Please read with me.

Mark 1:1-11.

(1)The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (2) It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — (3)”a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” (4) And so, John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (5) The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (6) John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. (7) And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. (8) I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(9) At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. (11) And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

This is the word of God. For the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

Our Message this week I’ve titled, ”Epiphany “.

On January 6 we began the season of, or the Festival of Epiphany. So according to the church calendar this Sunday is the first Sunday of Epiphany ,and it continues until Transfiguration Sunday on February 14.
So, just in case you didn’t know why. I thought I should share it with you.
Epiphany is observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.
Now according to Webster’s dictionary, epiph·a·ny is
(1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
(4): a revealing scene or moment
Now I had one of these this morning after reading our scriptures for today.
In all 4 of the readings selected we find God speaking and giving us all an opportunity to have a epiphany.
God in our Genesis reading displays His power in the sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature of our world.
David in our reading in Psalms tells of his “epiphany”, about the power of God’s voice and gives us an intuitive grasp of reality.
In our reading in Acts we find Paul speaking to the disciples in Ephesus and disclosing to them the illuminating discovery and realization of the Holy Spirit.
The disciples in Ephesus also had an “epiphany”: a revealing scene or moment. When Paul placed his hands on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
In our Gospel reading today, Isaiah and the prophets’ “epiphanies” are revealed in, Mark 1:2&3: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” Mark 1:4 tells us that John the Baptist was the one they spoke about. “And so, John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
I believe we all have one basic question, and that question is Why am I here? We are all looking to have a “epiphany”. A revealing moment, an intuitive grasp of reality.
Last Sunday in Sunday school our lesson was about how God, how Jesus seeks us. And it was apparent that many there had on their minds the question; Will I recognize God’s voice when he speaks to me?
Let’s return to our gospel lesson, today verse 5 tells us that the whole Judean countryside and all the people in Jerusalem went out to John. They were recognizing God’s voice through John.
John didn’t speak “tenderly” to Jerusalem. John was at the River Jordan, on the edge of the wilderness, shouting (hollering is the better word), “Repent; for the Kingdom of God is coming.” His voice bouncing off the desert walls: repent, repent, repent. His voice was heard clear up in the Temple precincts in Jerusalem: repent, repent, repent. His voice like a mighty wind went up into Galilee, to Herod’s palace, and bounced off the walls there: repent, repent, repent. His voice echoed in the consciences of all the people of the land: repent.
As I thought about what John’s voice must have sounded like. It reminded me of two stories that I would like to share with you. The first I had at the airport.
You all know what it is like at the airport during the holidays, and especially since the pandemic restrictions started, cars piled up in big traffic jams. You’re lucky if you can even get up to the curb. Not long ago I went to pick up Bonne at the Scranton Airport and there was a woman parked in front of me waiting to pick up some friends. We both could only get as close as about 2 blocks away, but she could see her friends standing at the curb. So, she got out of the car, and hollered, “Alice, Kathy, over here, over here.” They heard her familiar voice, picked up their bags, and headed over to her car. The man in the car behind me stuck his head out of the window, and said, “Excuse me ma’am, but would you mind hollering for Harold?”
You may laugh at that story but in reality, God often uses others to speak for Him. In John 10 , Jesus tells a parable about the shepherd and his flock. In verse 3, He says ;”The watchmen open the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep “by name” and leads them out.
I’m almost certain Harold wouldn’t have responded to the woman as Alice and Kathy did, if she called out for him.
The second story I’m going to tell you about happen quite often when I was a boy. Many of you in the congregation today know where I grew up and the person, I’m going to tell you about. So, I’m not going to name names.
When I was a teen, we lived next to Snake Creek in a little house my father remodeled. Our next-door neighbor was across the creek up the hill from us. They owned two golden retrievers and their names were Jason and Bruno. Jason and Bruno tended to wander; they were like the neighborhood dogs. So, it would seem at the end of every day they would be somewhere other than home. So, the woman who live next-door, usually late in the afternoon, we come out and at the top of her voice would yell ,”Jason!!””Bruno!!”I don’t know how far her voice would actually carry, but I do know that almost everyone in the neighborhood would recognize her voice. It would almost send a chill up your spine. But I do know that Jason and Bruno definitely recognize her voice and would almost immediately head home. They knew that a dog treat awaited them, and they didn’t want to miss out.
They knew they were being called, ”BY NAME “ by their master. In the same way God calls us ,”by name” and leads us to serve in His kingdom. Where we may experience an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, an “epiphany”.
The writer of Hebrews warns us against unbelief in; Hebrews 3:7-8 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.”
I don’t want you leaving here today thinking that God speaks to us, calls to us only in a big or loud way . For sometimes it may be in a whisper. Remember the account of Elijah, in, 1Kings 19:11-13.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord , for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” In verse 15 God gives Elijah an intuitive grasp of reality ,an “epiphany”. God tells him to: ”Go back the way you came,”.
Sometimes God may speak to us in a whisper and sometimes it may not be what we want to hear. Sure, we pray, and we meditate and sometimes we tell him what we’ve been doing to serve Him just like Elijah did. And He may tell us to go back the way we came. Our “epiphany” may be a reality check in event of something simple and striking.
Years ago, I wrote a song I titled, “If His Voice You Hear” and I would like to share it with you today, if you’re sitting in the pews , or listening on the radio, or visiting our web site you can hear it by selecting the service audio. For those of just reading or listening to the sermon audio here are the lyrics.

If His Voice You Hear

If his voice you hear inside you don’t fear. Just listen and know then God’s near. (verse 1)
On a cross he died for you and I.
From the grave he came to live again.
And cleanse us from all our sins.
(verse 2)
His spirit sent to be with men.
To speak to us, to guide us through life. And to keep us within his trust. (Chorus 2)
If his voice you hear inside you don’t fear.
For he’s with you. He’ll guide you through the years.
(verse 3)
When you’re off somewhere.
Alone and scared or tired to the bone.
The world surrounds you, yet you feel so alone.
(verse 4)
In the distance here, his words so clear.
Just listen then and know in your heart.
That he loves and guides to the end.
(Chorus 3)
If his voice you hear inside you don’t fear.
For he loves you. He’ll guide you, through the years.
(verse 5)
In a distance here his words so clear.
Just listen then and know when your heart.
That he loves, and he guides to the end.
(Chorus 4)
If his voice you hear may be cloudy or clear.
Pay attention, just listen, let him steer.
If you are praying for an “epiphany” from God, this New Year. Or asking the question,” Why am I here?” or “Will I recognize God’s voice when he speaks to me?”. Here’s my advice. Pray, pay attention, and most of all, LET GOD STEER !
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20210110
Listen To Audio: Service 01102021


Pastor Joe is available at the church every Thursday from 2 to 4p.m.  If you wish to speak with him, his contact numbers are:  570-465-7303 or his cell 570-267-4570 or church 570-967-2075.

Loose change offering goes to General Fund.

Corporation Meeting is next Sunday, the 17,  following worship.   Please plan to attend.

Super Bowl will begin TODAY, January 10 thru February 7; please bring a non-perishable food item or monetary donation noted on your envelope or check payable to: FHPC.

Today:  Elders to be installed

Thursday, January 14, Ladies Meet at 11:00. All are welcome.

Sunday January 17, Corporation Meeting follows worship.

Wednesday January 20, Men’s Action Group at 8:00.

Wednesday, January 20, Session meets at 10:00.

If you are in the parking lot, PLEASE TUNE YOUR RADIO TO 89.5 FM TO HEAR THE PLEASE NOTE: We ask that you wear a mask as you ENTER the church.

Winter Months – Session discussed the procedures the congregation will follow during the winter months. People will enter and leave the Church by the front door. Mask must be worn as they enter and go to a pew. Mask must be worn when they leave the Church. Pastor Joe will stand near the pulpit when the service is finished to speak to people before they leave. He will not stand by the front door. Session is asking that people do not congregate in the vestibule or loiter or a long time in the sanctuary when they leave. Hand sanitizer will be located by the front door for people to use.







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