John Hus Communion & Donations for Sunnyside, Prison Ministry

Today, July 12th, are having a “drive-in” communion from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM. 

Communicants are asked to bring their own B&W–bread & Welches, remember open containers of wine are not permitted in your car in North Carolina.

The service will be quite simple. Pull into the right-hand drive of the lower parking lot. It is one-way. When it is your turn, drive up to where the pastor is standing. He will have a prayer with you, and conduct a short service, sharing the communion with you. After you have been served, drive out and find a parking place in front of the church if you wish to greet others from a safe social distance. Please bring a mask to wear when you exit you car. Of course, greeting friends from a safe social distance is optional. You may simply return to your home.

If you can’t come to the drive-by–or even if you can, don’t miss Fries at Five Worship on Zoom meeting. Email frieschurch6@gmail.com for an invite to the meeting. Don’t forget to pray for Fries daily, and if you have prayer request send them along to friesprayers@gmail.com. I know that you are praying for:

An end to the pandemic

Those who are ill

Those who have lost loved ones

Those who face financial hardship

That justice be done in the distribution of US bail-out funds

Those who are in harms way to serve the rest of us

Those who are hungry, anxious, and in fear of losing their homes

Forsyth Prison Ministries, including residents and workers

Social and Economic Justice for all….

Meditation: Wonderful Words of Warning: Sin

This morning, as we prepare for the Holy Communion, I want to talk to you about one of the Wonderful Words of Warning: Sin. In the Bible, sin takes several forms:

Sometimes, sin is the willful transgression of the known law of God. God laid down the law through Moses to protect his people from themselves and one another. When I break the law, I invariably hurt one or more people, and I always end up hurting myself.

Sometimes, sin is missing the mark. Imagine you are an apprentice to a potter. In the beginning, the things you turn on the wheel and fire in the kiln will be primitive and sometimes downright ugly. It takes time and effort to become a master potter.  And it takes time and effort to be the person God wants us to be. We miss the mark when we do anything other than our best. You remember that old grammar school ditty: Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better, and the better is best. I think God wants that for all the people. It is not enough that we hit the mark yesterday.  The mark is continually moving.

There is a third definition of sin, and I will let you hear it from the lips of another. A man once came to me with his life in shambles. Like King David, he had let his eyes wander. He ended up losing his wife, his children, his home—everything dear to him. He said, “Worth, do you know what sin is?”  I said, “I think I do, but you had better tell me.”  He said, “Sin is anything we do, by which we hurt ourselves or another.”

His definition was painfully perfect. I would add only that sin is “anything we do or fail to do” by which we hurt ourselves or another. Most of us are keenly aware of the sins we commit against God, against one another, and against ourselves; but we are often blissfully ignorant of the good that we have failed to do. It is only after we have achieved a degree of moral and spiritual knowledge that we are able to see that the good we fail to do can be even more costly than the evil we have done.

All of us are sinners. None are perfect. All have made mistakes. In Romans 3, the apostle write, “None is righteous, no not one. All have turned aside, together we have gone wrong.”

We are all sinners, but there is a remedy for the sins of the past. We need to seek forgiveness. 1st John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We are all sinners, but there is a remedy for sins of the future. We must love more. In Romans 13:9-10, St. Paul writes:

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

It is easy to live a life of limited love, loving only those who are like us.  It is more difficult to live a broader life, loving not only those who are like us but those who are unlike us. We can seldom do that without help. Fortunately, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

In one sense, sin is a bad word, a terrible word. However, in another sense sin is a wonderful word of warning that leads to a richer, fuller life. Check out the other “Wonderful Words of Life,” especially “Forgiveness.”

God bless you!

Pastor Green

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Donation Collection this Sunday, July 12 at 10:30-11:30 a.m.

We will be collecting donations for both Sunnyside Ministry and Fries Prison Ministry this Sunday between 10:30 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.

  • Sunnyside Ministry: canned fruits, canned meats, boxed/bagged pasta, boxed cereal
  • Prison Ministry: paperback, faith-based books and cases of bottled water (no singles, thank you)

Coronavirus precautions will be taken during the collecting of donations.

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Wonderful Words of Life: Freedom

See the video of this post here.

Transcript:

This is July the 4th weekend, so I thought I would talk to you about freedom. 

In the Genesis stories of creation, it is freedom that separates humankind from the animals. God programmed animals to follow their instincts. God created human beings in his own image and gave us the freedom to do what we please, right or wrong.

Some people think that freedom means being able to do anything they want to do. That is not so. Consider these two examples.

One person says, “I am free, and I am going to do anything I want to do.” He then becomes the slave of his appetites. He eats to excess.  He drinks too much. He uses drugs for recreation. Soon his appetites control him. You know the old story: First, the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes a man. The man still says, “I am free!” But he is freer to lie on a couch in a stupor than he is to climb a mountain, run a race, hold a job, or do something worthwhile with his life.

Another person says, “I am free, and I want to remain free.” When he buys his first good suit, he says to himself, “I am never going to outgrow this suit. I am going to control my appetites.”  He eats, but not to excess. He drinks, but not too much. He uses prescription drugs, but only when he has to. He runs or swims every day, and on weekends he often rides his bike 100 miles. He is free to lie on his couch and watch all the TV he wants, but he is also free to complete a triathlon, run a successful business, and volunteer in his church and community.

Which of these two people do you think is free?

In the Bible, freedom means several different things.  Freedom means freedom from oppression. God sent Moses to Pharaoh, saying, “Let my people go!” God is always on the side of the poor and oppressed. Freedom means freedom to resist the powers, the mob, and the crowd, and do the right thing even when everyone else, even those closest to us, are doing the wrong thing. Freedom means freedom from sin, and sickness, and early death. Remember, in this life, it is not so much that we are punished for our sins but by our sins. Above all, freedom means the freedom to live in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. We are free to serve God and to serve others, and in so doing, we discover we are also serving ourselves. As Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life, will find it.” Jesus came to make us free.  In John 8:36, he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin…(but) if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” And in Galatians 5:1, St. Paul writes, “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” With God’s help, Christians are free from every form of slavery, whether to the law, or to sin, or to our appetites

Let me close with this thought: Freedom is not freedom unless it is shared. That is why I am so glad to be an American. America is not the kingdom of God. It is not perfect, but it is getting better, and we who know what freedom looks like must help it along. The poet Langston Hughes got it just right when he wrote:

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has yet been—
And yet must be—the land where every (one) is free.

Enjoy the rest of your July 4th Weekend, and remember that freedom is one of the Wonderful Words of Life.

Finnis

Worth Green, Th.M., D.Min.

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A Very Different 4th of July

Old Glory, New Glories

This is a very different 4th of July. We will celebrate, but for most of us, it will be in much smaller gatherings, mostly members of our immediate family. There will be fireworks—and they will provide a welcome distraction, but the real explosion is still the coronavirus. Covid-19 infections are soaring, even in officially cautious North Carolina. Of course, the official line is not everybody’s line. I continue to be amazed by the people I see in public spaces without masks.  Some say they are declaring their independence—their right to breath without impediment. Some think that they are merely thumbing their noses at the rest of us. I say, “Come on folks, get safe and stay safe, we love you and need you, and we know that, deep down, you love us, too, even if you don’t always show us that love.”

This 4th of July gives us plenty of time for reflection. Some will spend our day watching old movies.  Some will spend our day thinking about the pandemic and civil unrest, and a crumbling economy. Some among us will be unable to think about anything but looming bills and deadlines, and the very real specter of disease and death. The frontline workers are in more danger than ever before.  Let us not forget them.

I hope and pray that each of us will have a little time to think about what a great opportunity now confronts us, as individuals and as a nation. As individuals, each of us can act to help others. We can finally and publicly speak out against prejudice in all its forms. Black Lives Matter! All Lives Matter! We can send along a gift, some relief to those who need it, without letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing. Some are more fortunate than others, and we have a greater responsibility. As citizens, we can act together to help our neighbors, our nations, ourselves.

I know this is a day to remember the Declaration of Independence, but let’s jump ahead a little. The preamble to the Constitution declares:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America…”

We are still establishing justice, for all, and insuring domestic tranquility. for all, and providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare, for all, and securing the blessings of liberty, for all, to ourselves and to our posterity. The work of forming “a more perfect union” goes on.  Something tells me that the present crisis has provided Americans with the opportunity to make our nation more and more, “a more perfect union,” more and more, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  I pray it is so.

Prayer: O God and Heavenly Father, Grant to us, as individuals and as a nation, the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; the courage to change that which can and must be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor

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Wonderful Words of Life: Forgiveness

Click here for a video of this sermon.

In his book, Phycology, Religion and Healing, Leslie Weatherhead* wrote that “Forgiveness is the most therapeutic idea in the world.”

After reading that I went to Forsyth Hospital to see a member. I was sharing an elevator with an MD psychiatrist.  When I saw his badge, I could not help myself. I said, “Doctor, I just read that forgiveness is the most therapeutic idea in the world. What would you say to that?”

He lit up like a lightbulb and became very animated. He said, “Yes, that’s it. Forgiveness is the most therapeutic idea in the world, but just you try and get one of my patients to forgive themselves.”

I did not say it out loud, but I thought to myself that I would not do that. When we repent toward another person, we repent into the mouth of a raging lion. At least, it feels like it. When we repent toward ourselves, we repent up a slippery slope. Yes. It is only when we repent toward God that we repent toward the source of all forgiveness, goodness and love.

Is God really willing to forgive us? Yes! In Psalm 134 we read, “There is forgiveness with you, O Lord, that you may be (worshiped).”

In Luke 5:31,32 Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And in 1st John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God’s ability to forgive us depends upon one thing: Our ability to recognize and renounce our sins. God cannot save us from our sins until we are ready to be saved from our sins. This make sense when you remember that, in this life, we are not so much punished for our sins as by our sins.

And someone will say, “So, okay, God will forgive us but what about the forgiveness of others?”  But Jesus did what he could to inspire us a culture of forgiveness among his followers. He taught his disciples to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  He taught that “the mercy we give is the mercy we get.” And he told Peter that we ought to forgive the one who wrongs us “not 7 times, but 70 times 7.”

When I fail to forgive someone, the one I hurt most is myself. Resentment lives in me like a cancer, a rot. I need to get it out. There it is.

And someone will say,” Fine, God forgives me, and there is some chance I will be forgiven by others, but how can I forgive myself?” I had a friend who said, “I do alright by day, but at night, I toss and turn and remember the wrongs I have done.”

Well, here is bad news. We will always remember the wrong that we have done. The Holy Spirit is with us to convince us of sin and righteousness and judgement. Here is the good news.  As Christians we can remember our sins like they were committed by another.  For, as we read in 1st Peter 2:24, “He himself (Jesus!)  bore our sins in his body on the (cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

I would close with this.  In John 20:23, the risen Christ spoke to his disciples saying:

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

I say to you: You are forgiven!  Now go out and forgive. Forgiveness is one of the wonderful words of life. Finnis

Worth Green, Th.M., D.Min.

Prayer: O Lord, forgive us our trespasses against you, against one another, against ourselves, and against our world. “How Long O, Lord!” Give unto us your peace! Amen

*Note: Leslie Weatherhead was the pastor of City Temple in London during the Blitz in World War II. City Temple was “Methodist,” and the largest non-Anglican church in the city. He was famous on many fronts, especially for his little book, The Will of God. It has sold millions of copies.

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