Worship Service – January 22, 2023

We celebrate the life of the community, in fellowship, in learning together and serving together.  We rejoice in our reach, which is always greater together than separately.  We are making disciples of Jesus Christ, and there is always room for more.    Come, let us worship the God!


Scriptures; Psalm 27:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 1 :10-18

Message; “Testimony”

Psalm 27:1-9

(1) The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid.
(2) When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
(3) Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
(4) One thing I ask of the Lord , this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
(5) For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
(6) Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord .
(7) Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
(8) My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord , I will seek.
(9) Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.

1 Corinthians1:10-18

Divisions in the Church

(10) I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (11) My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. (12) What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul” another, “I follow Apollos” another, “I follow Cephas” still another, “I follow Christ.”
(13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (14) I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, (15) so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (16) (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) (17) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
(18) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Our church has an important mission. Our church was called into existence to witness to the good news of God’s love that was shown to us in Jesus Christ. Our church exists to share God’s love, to bring people into a fellowship in which God’s love is shared, and to help people grow into followers of Jesus.
Most of the people of the world probably don’t yet realize how urgently they need to learn the way of love that God graciously provided. The need is great and urgent. That being said, our church has a very important mission. Our church’s mission is just about the most important thing going on in our community and in our world today. Because there are people, perhaps many people, within the reach of our church who are hungry for the love of God that we were given to share.
Doesn’t it make sense that we should organize the whole life of our church around the accomplishment of that mission? And doesn’t it make sense that we should be careful not to let anything go on in our church that would hinder the accomplishment of that mission?
Can you think of anything that goes on in our church that would appear to contradict the good news of God’s love that we have been called to share? Can you think of anything that goes on in our church that would turn people away rather than drawing them into the love and the new life that we are supposed to offer them?
Well Paul wrote his letters to the Corinthians, in part, because he had heard that some things were going on in that church that contradicted the gospel and that were a hindrance to the mission of that church. In his letters, he tried to bring those things to the surface and to set them in the context of the Christian faith so that the Corinthian Christians would know what to do about them. The things that Paul said to the Corinthians can help us to get things into a proper perspective, too.
Years ago, I remember singing a song that I had written titled, “Testimony”. I don’t exactly remember when or where it was, the first time I sang it in a worship service. But I do remember the look I got from a couple of parishioners in that service. And it wasn’t a look of approval. I could see the look in their eyes of disapproval as I sang, ”As I sat in a bar. Drinking whiskey, playing cards. Wishing this old world would change. I lit up a smoke. And folded again.”
But I do remember thinking that I lost their attention at that very moment. And that they instantly formed an opinion and turned off the rest of the message in that song. I could almost imagine hearing one of them say to the other, “I saw the pastor’s car at the bar the other day. I’ve always had my suspicions about him.” And so ensued the speculation and gossip that was shared between them. I must confess that my vehicle was at the bar the other day. And the truth of the matter is that my wife was picking up her brother, in need of a ride.
Too often, what we believe, what actions we take and our attitudes toward others are misconstrued by those around us. Causing them to have the wrong impression of who we are, as followers of Christ, and the mission that we have been given to share. And sometimes those actions and attitudes, bring on hate and bitterness that result in divisions, and may even lead to feuds.
How many of you have read Mark Twain’s story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? If you have, you may remember the following incident that occurred. Huck and his friend are talking. His friend, Buck, wants to kill someone. Huck wonders what this person had ever done to get his friend so agitated.
Finally, the reason comes out. “Why, nothing — only it’s on account of the feud.” Huck is still puzzled, “What’s a feud?” His friend can’t believe that Huck is so stupid not to know what a feud is; so, he goes on to explain. A feud begins with two men who have a quarrel, and then one man kills the other man. Then the dead man’s brother kills his murderer, and that sets off a chain reaction. Soon the cousins get in the act too. Eventually, everyone is killed off and that is the end of the feud. Of course, as Buck adds, “… it’s kind of slow, and it takes a long time.” Huck wonders what really caused the trouble in the first place. Was it land? His friend is not sure but probably it was a dispute over land that caused all the fighting. But that happened 30 or more years ago. Huck asks, “Doesn’t anyone know?” His friend replies, “Oh, yes, Pa knows, I reckon, and some of the old people; but they don’t know now what the “row” was about in the first place.”
How true that dialogue is. We all know of feuds in families, in neighborhoods, and yes, in churches that happened so long ago, and yet the remnants of hate and bitterness still linger today.
Many of the details of the original feuds in the church today are now lost, but the feuds themselves continue. Even though we all hold fast to the universality of the Bible and its gospel message, we know that there is much hurt, misunderstanding and even division within the Christian community.
Our Old Testament reading of Psalm 27, reminds us that: The Lord is [our] light and [our] salvation- whom shall [we] fear? The Lord is the stronghold of [our lives]- of whom shall [we] be afraid. Yet still today we struggle with the divisions in churches.
Our epistle reading from 1 Corinthians, reminds us that Paul wrestled with potential feuds in the church at Corinth. So, let’s see how Paul challenges the Corinthian Christians to live together in harmony.
Paul was in Ephesus when he learns from “Chloe’s people” that quarreling had erupted in the church at Corinth. We are not certain who “Chloe’s people” were, but they might have been members of her family or possibly slaves who in some ways were able to contact Paul. And they told him that a feud was going on in the church at Corinth.
As we read in the epistle, apparently four different cliques or parties had emerged in the congregation. We must not think of these four points of view as settled positions but rather four distinct attitudes or tendencies that had the potential of resulting in serious division if not checked early.
The four positions are as follows. The first group argues, “I belong to Paul.” It would be natural to have many people identify with Paul, the real founder of the church in Corinth. He might have especially attracted those people who admired his openness to the Gentiles. They liked that Paul did not force them to embrace all the Jewish laws and customs in order to be a genuine Christian. Could these same people have been tempted perhaps to use their spiritual liberty as, a position that would have been unacceptable to Paul?
The second group argues, “I belong to Apollo.” Apollo was an eloquent orator from Alexandria, the intellectual center of the Christian world in the first century. When Apollo came to preach in Corinth, we can understand why some people made him their champion, in particular those who had set their minds only on the education of Christian discipleship. Such an approach always runs the risk, however, of making the Christian faith into a philosophy rather than displaying a personal relationship with the person of Christ.
The third group argues, “I belong to Cephas.” Cephas, of course, was Peter’s original Jewish name. The people who surrounded him undoubtedly favored keeping Jewish laws and customs along with their newly discovered truth in the Christian gospel. Following this course has often led to an elevation of legalism over grace.
The fourth group argues, “I belong to Christ.” The identification of these people has puzzled biblical scholars, and we are less certain who these people are. Quite possibly they thought that they had the true comprehension of who Jesus Christ was, and that they were in a sense above party labels.
So, Paul feels he must counteract this rather self-righteous attitude. So, he gives his probably not so welcomed “Testimony”. Paul seeks to resolve this conflict, he interjects a personal note, a testimony of sorts, namely that he is glad that he did not baptize many converts at Corinth. He writes this statement not because he minimizes the celebration of baptism but because some people in the congregation must have viewed the one who did the baptizing as having magical or mystical powers. Paul is blunt. He is not crucified for them, nor are they baptized in his name. They should be attached to Christ and not to any of the servants of Christ. Lest there be a misunderstanding, the apostle reminds his friends in Corinth that his principal mission among them was to proclaim the gospel and further to preach not with “human wisdom” but with clarity and with simplicity so that the cross of Christ might not lose any of its power.
Don’t you see that Paul was a unifier. He wished that Christians would live together in harmony. Unfortunately, much of church history attests to numerous conflicts, divisions, and major differences in Christian beliefs and how to worship. And those feuds still go on today. Because to many believers focus on how to bring others to Christ, using their, as Paul puts it, ”human wisdom”.
Paul desired that the followers of Christ not forget their particular attitudes and practices but make them all subservient to the rule of Christ. We struggle today with the precise problem that Paul dealt with. Christian unity. Just think of the different personalities, attitudes and lifestyles represented in our congregation. Young and old, those who prefer formal worship and those who wish a more spontaneous celebration. Conservatives and liberals, left-brain and right-brain people, traditionalists, and risk-takers.
How can we ever get all these people to live in harmony and work together?
We must keep in mind that unity does not imply uniformity. Uniformity has been the fear of many people when they are confronted with the way they worship. Pentecostal worship is quite different from Lutheran worship; yet both can exalt the same Christ. We are not called to deny our rich diversity of thinking, feeling and action but rather to center everything in Christ. In our quest for oneness among the followers of Christ we must allow much room for freedom.
Our goal is unity in diversity. That’s why Paul wrote this simple remedy to reach that goal. He wrote to them: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
We should rejoice in all that has been accomplished in recent decades toward Christian unity. Even though, most recently, many churches have downsized or closed due to loss of members. Whether it be from Covid lockdowns, or cultural and political changes in our society, we ought not to lose sight of the enormous gains that have been made in bringing Christians together in unity and in mission.
Yes, sharp differences remain on social issues like abortion, illegal immigration, and the education, that divide Christians. But those divisions, those feuds, are really “foolishness”, as Paul puts it, “to us who are being saved”.
In your worship of God, do you pray as the Psalmist prayed? “Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord , I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. “(Psalm 27:7-9)
Our mission as Christians is to remind those around us that we are unified by the cross, “to us who are being saved”. And we can have unity in knowing that we have been saved and, “it is the power of God” that will bring us unity.
What will your “Testimony” be today? Will you be a unifier like Paul, remembering the words he wrote to the Corinthians? “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”(1 Corinthians 1:18)
In His service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20230122
Listen To Audio: Service 01222023
Call to Worship:L:  The God of all creation makes us one in the flesh.

P:  Let us join hearts and voices in praise.

L:  In Jesus Christ, we are made one in the Spirit.

P: Let us be united in truth through the same one Spirit.

L:  Rejoice, people of God: The Risen Christ is among us, calling us together at his one Table.

P:  Praise the Lord!


Prayer of Confession:   Heavenly Father, you have called us in the Body of your Son Jesus Christ to continue his work of reconciliation and reveal you to the world: forgive us the sins which tear us apart; give us the courage to overcome our fears and to seek that unity which is your gift and your will; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoon from 11 to 1.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

 Loose change goes to General Fund

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 1:00!   Please come a join us in singing praises to Jesus! 

Session Meeting Saturday, January 21st at 9:00 A.M.

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, January 31st, 2023.

Backpacks for Kids due date is Sunday, February5th.

PW meeting on February 9th.

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  

Listen to WPEL 96.5 for church cancellation if your internet is down during a storm this winter.



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