Passage: Acts 2:43-47
On Sunday, November 5, 2023, All Saints' Sunday was observed at Pender. Pastor Bruce Johnson delivered a sermon titled "The Stewardship of Presence" based on Acts 2:43-47, and the Gospel Lesson for the day was from Matthew 5:1-12.
Pastor Bruce Johnson began by discussing All Saints Sunday, a day in the Christian calendar to remember deceased believers and emphasizes the belief in the communion of saints. The sermon touched on the importance of being present and engaged in the church community, especially during difficult times such as persecution.
Pastor Bruce underscored the significance of God's presence throughout history and the embodiment of faith in the community of believers. The vows taken by church members to be present for each other are seen as a response to God's presence among them. The message warned against the temptation of settling for virtual worship and emphasized the importance of being physically present in the fellowship of believers.
All Saints' Day is a time for United Methodists to publicly remember and honor those who have passed away, typically celebrated on the first Sunday in November. Various rituals like lighting candles, ringing bells in remembrance, and calling out the names of those who passed away in the previous year are performed to pay tribute to their impact on the congregation.
The Joy Ringers, led by Brian Stevenson, performed the Prelude, "Vivacio" by Cathy Moklebust. This piece is a spirited and energetic handbell composition with lively rhythms and syncopated melodies, creating an atmosphere of excitement and joy. Different handbell techniques, including mallets and martellato lifts, were used to enhance the dynamic quality of the piece.
Greg Berry delivered A Moment for Missions, asking for prayers for Levi & Stephanie Mberego with Bridges International at George Washington University in DC.
In the "Time with Children" segment of the service, Worship Leader David Kinard shared a story about a puppy wagging its tail and an older dog wagging its tail. This story likely served as an illustrative and relatable way to convey a message or lesson to the children in attendance.
The story depicted a playful and enthusiastic puppy wagging its tail with exuberance, full of energy and excitement. In contrast, the older dog was shown wagging its tail more slowly, perhaps with a sense of contentment and calm. The lesson in this story revolved around the idea that people, like the two dogs, can express their emotions and reactions differently based on their age, experiences, and circumstances.
The story aimed to teach children about the importance of understanding and appreciating the diverse ways people react to situations, as well as the value of patience, empathy, and acceptance. It encouraged the children to be kind and considerate, recognizing that everyone has their unique perspectives and responses.
Several hymns were sung during the service, including "Shalom to You," "For All the Saints," "Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us," "How Blest Are They Who Trust in Christ," and a repeat with a different melody of "For All the Saints."
The Offertory Anthem, directed by Jane McKee and accompanied on the piano by Heidi Jacobs, was "Spirit, Come Down" by Mark Hayes. This spirited adaptation of Acts 2:1-4 offers a lively retelling of the Pentecost story, featuring syncopation with minimal soprano divisi. The congregation was encouraged to join in the spirited rendition until the dramatic and soulful conclusion.
The service also included the observance of Holy Communion.
Sunday marked the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.