Bradenton-Sarasota Online Service
July 26, 2020
Invitation to Worship: Only in God by John Michael Talbot – adapted from Psalm 62
Prayer for Peace:
Spirit of the Divine,
There are many in our world, in our country, in our communities, and even in our homes that need the peace that only you can bring. We know that your Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Teach us how to pray for others. Search our hearts. Help us in our weakness to be your hands and feet in an aching world. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? You did not even withhold your own Son, but gave him up for all of us. Who could ever separate us from the love of Christ? Not hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. We are assured that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from your love. With this love and support, we can be your Kingdom. Amen.
—Romans 8:26-39, adapted
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:31-33
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is grown it is larger than all the other garden plants. In fact, it becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. He then told another parable. The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven that a woman hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.
Morning Message by Elder Jim Brougher
God manifests himself amongst the community of mankind. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe he is in everyone and everything. Today’s scripture Matthew 13:31-33 points us to the Kingdom of God. Doctrine and Covenants 163:3a is our calling, and D&C 163:3b – Faithfulness to the peaceable Kingdom allows us to Pursue Peace. After all, Jesus’ mission is our mission. “Pursue Peace.” What a Savior we follow.
The era and place where I grew up was a very different world from where I now reside. First of all it was a piece of Appalachia. The poor and marginalized were my family’s neighbors. For a while, until I was 8 years old, we lived at my Uncle’s 5-room house. Our family included 14 people – that’s 5 aunts, 2 uncles, and 7 kids. The chaos and crowded living space brought a relentless feeling of angst and anger among us.
When my Mother, who was single, a schoolteacher with 2 kids, moved out it was a huge difference. Our lifestyle became better and we had our own space. Space where God had the opportunity to be visible and alive in our world. We had a 4-room apartment and space to breathe. God was the center of my Mother’s world and mine. We went to church for the first time and I was baptized at the age of 12. This was a major event in my young life. I felt the presence of Jesus and heard the expression “the Kingdom of God
At that time, most people believed that Heaven is the place where we could go after death. Provided that we were saved. Often, I heard it said, “You will never make it to heaven if you do not change your ways.. Well, in Appalachia it is very hard to change ways amid hardship, poverty, and no hope. Many went to prison and were committed to a life of crime. Several of my friends became felons with a long record of jail time.
My Mother took a different approach and her words to me said it all. God’s Kingdom is here and now! Day by day, James, you need to give thanks to God. Praise him and rejoice for He will never leave you. To reinforce principles of the Kingdom of God she gave me a Bible after baptism. It was a King James version circa 1948. My Mother signed it “To my son James on his 12th birthday after his Baptism.” Her words to me, “James, this is the word of God.” While it is not God it is as close to his word as you will ever get. For Isaiah 40:8 says it all: “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of god goes on forever!” The Kingdom of Heaven is His and He rules forever.
My Mother, God rest her soul, was born in 1906, and if she was alive today she would be 116 years old. Often, I have recalled her actions and words for she believed those people in Appalachia were her people. She conveyed the servant’s attitude in everything she did or gave to them. Her salary was minimal when compared to the teacher salaries in other school systems. She told me that a reward in Heaven is set aside for those who follow Jesus’ love of mankind. For me she set the bar high with her expectations of my life and it goals.
For me a famous quote by Mechild of Magdeburg says it all: “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw God and God in all things.” We, as members of Christ’s church, often fail to see the Kingdom of God is near. When I see a new baby, a great sunset, the love of Christ in all of you, and experience the great compassion and my vessel overflows. It is then that you and I must share our Jesus with the world. My citizenship is in the Kingdom of God and The Community of Christ I where I see Christ in each of you. May the Lord Bless and keep you all safe in his Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth!
Disciples Generous Response/Focus Moment
“Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint. Break free of the shackles of conventional culture that mainly promote self-serving interests. Give generously according to your true capacity. Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return. Could it be otherwise in the domain of God, who eternally gives all for the sake of creation?” Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
Your Response – Commitment Note:
Generosity is expressed through the sharing of time, talent, and treasure according to the desires of your heart, not by commandment or constraint. With whom is your heart leading you to share? It might be time—a phone call, a card, a visit. It may be a talent— cooking, fixing, assisting someone with something they need help with. It might be treasure—something you have that someone else could use right now.
On a 3×5 card, scrap of paper or note-keeping app, write down one thing that you will commit to sharing this month. Be as specific as you can. Write the name of the person(s), family, group you are committing to and what it is that you will be sharing. Also, if appropriate, give yourself a time frame. Keep this card with you in a place that will help remind you of what you’ve committed to.
When we are intentional in living generously, we create conditions for the Kingdom to be realized here and now.
During the Disciples’ Generous Response we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart. As you share your mission tithes or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings. When we understand God’s love and grace are given freely to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.
Closing: Behold Now the Kingdom by John Michael and Terry Talbot
“Above all else, strive to be faithful to Christ’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom of God on earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Pursue peace.” Doctrine and Covenants 163:3b
This service was prepared by Sherry Lindgren and Jim Brougher.