Bradenton-Sarasota Community of Christ
Online Service – May 17, 2020
Today’s theme is “God Within.” The gospel reading from John records Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit. It looks forward to our upcoming celebration of Pentecost. This morning may we come to recognize God within each of us and one another.
Call to Worship – John 14:15-20
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
Meditation Moment – “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” by Selah
Prayer for Peace
We know that you have created us that we might have joy. And yet, by using our free agency we have created pain. We know that the example of Jesus was an example of love and compassion. Yet, we often choose to hate and to fear and to ignore the needs of our companions on this journey. The world which you have created and so generously given to us feels the pain of our choices and groans to be liberated from the chains we have created for it.
Free us, O God. Create in us clean hearts and pure visions. Infuse us with a desire to be agents of peace in a world of suffering and need. Clear our minds that we might see truthfully the steps which can be taken to bring healing and reconciliation to all your creation.
Help us to recognize you and to respond to you as you move within each of us, guiding us toward the perfection that is already ours and out of which comes a deep yet resounding call for peace in all the world.
You have called us by our names. You know us intimately. You know our capacities. Then you have given us the greatest gift of calling us by your son’s name. We are called Christians. Let that name and that Christ-spirit unite us with all the world rather than separate us from our fellow humans. Then as Christians may we be healing agents in a universe that ever calls us forward. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Morning message – Elder Rick Lindgren
All of the New Testament writers wrote their gospels and epistles in Greek, and 350 times they used the word pneuma to describe what the later translators would write out mostly as spirit or breath depending on the context. We still use that old Greek word today in words about breathing like pneumonia or pneumatic. But all those new Christians so long ago knew exactly what these preachers of this new Gospel were talking about.
To those listeners, there was very little difference between pneuma as either “spirit” or “breath.” From our earliest days, we humans have figured out that when a person continues to “have breath,” then they are alive. And this wonderful and mysterious experience of just being alive meant to them that we must all have some God-given, life-giving “spirit” within that “breath of life” that animates us. This is literal inspiration in more ways than one.
And when you die, they would say, then that spirit-breath literally leaves your body, and you expire. “Where does my pneuma go?” they wondered.
Death was a closer daily reality to those listeners to the Gospel message back in those early days of the Christian Church than it usually is to us, and perhaps so was the appreciation of having that spirit-breath every day anew.
A central message of Jesus was, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Every day that we have the spirit-breath of life is a new gift from the Source of all Creation in the universe, however we can define it.
Jesus also said, “This is the Spirit [the pneuma] of truth…You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (John 14:17)
One of the tragedies of the coronavirus is that it attacks this very life function of breath, which is one reason why we have some reason to fear. But biologists tell us that deep in each of our cells they can identify the remnants of many viruses of generations past that have visited our forebears and “came to live among us.” But so did that holy spirit-breath “come to live among us.”
We are all still doing this pneuma thing as we read this message. And we can still appreciate this “spirit-breath of God within” if we so choose. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Ministry of Music – “When I Was Young” by Priest Carey Chaney (original composition)
Disciples’ Generous Response
Stewardship is whole-life response to God’s grace and the ministry of Jesus Christ. This statement reminds us that our lives are to be lived as a response to what God gives and what we receive. Our response is what brings Christ’s mission alive and keeps it unfolding in the world.
Whole-life stewardship is always about choosing. We recognize that God’s unearned blessings continue to flow regardless of our choices, as that is the nature of God’s Grace and Generosity. However, God is always inviting us to choose to align our own nature in a way that helps reveal God’s generous love to others. When we commit our whole life to God by living Christ’s mission, we will be doing our part in helping bring about God’s vision of shalom on Earth.
Click here to use eTithing, send your offering to Dick Kramer, or put your offering aside and bring it with you when we meet again. Remember that the needs of the church and its work worldwide continue even when we cannot meet.
“Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Keith & Kristen Getty
As you continue on your life’s journey, remember God is in you; God is with you; and God is before you. Seek the good and the right in all that you do. Seek the best use of your gifts from God. Go forth, renewed and refreshed; Breathe!
This service was prepared by Carolyn Deering and Rick Lindgren