Passage: Ephesians 4:1-13
On Sunday, November 19, 2023, Pastor Bruce Johnson preached on “The Stewardship of Service” (Ephesians 4:1-13) . The Gospel Lesson was Mark 10:35-45.
At Pender’s Contemporary on November 19, 2023, our congregation was graced with an inspiring sermon by Pastor Bruce Johnson. His message, titled “The Stewardship of Service,” was a profound exploration of Ephesians 4:1-13. Pastor Johnson masterfully unraveled the depth and significance of service in our lives, presenting a narrative that was both challenging and uplifting. His insights into stewardship provided a fresh perspective, enriching our understanding and encouraging us to reflect deeply on our roles as servants in faith and in life.
The service was further elevated by a powerful reflection on the Gospel Lesson from Mark 10:35-45. This insightful examination delved into the teachings of Jesus, shedding light on their enduring relevance in the modern world. It was a moment that invited us all to contemplate the timeless wisdom of the scriptures and their application in our daily lives.
Sunday, marking the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, became a significant milestone in our spiritual journey. It was an opportunity for each of us to deepen our faith and expand our spiritual horizons, leaving us with lasting impressions and a renewed sense of purpose in our stewardship of service. The day's message and reflections continue to resonate within our community, inspiring us to live out the teachings of Jesus with renewed zeal and commitment.
The Common Ground Praise Band, led by the incredibly talented AJ Rios on keyboards, delivered a soul-stirring performance that captivated everyone present. The band, comprising the gifted Jane McKee, the vibrant Megan Parker, the dynamic AJ Rios, and the passionate Arlet William, created an atmosphere of worship and joy that resonated deeply with the audience.
Their setlist was a masterful blend of melody and spirit, starting with the harmonious "Shalom to You," a song that filled the air with peace and goodwill. This was followed by the powerful "Breathe On Us," a song that seemed to summon a divine presence, enveloping everyone in a sense of sacred grace.
As the band transitioned into "How Great Is Our God," the room was uplifted by the anthem's resounding affirmation of faith. The band's rendition was both majestic and intimate, creating a moment of awe and reverence.
Then came the emotive "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," a song that speaks of trust and courage in the face of uncertainty. The band’s performance was a beautiful journey of faith, filled with deep emotion and stirring melodies that touched every heart in the room.
The experience culminated with "Make Me a Servant," a humble prayer set to music. The band's heartfelt delivery was a fitting end to a night of spiritual reflection and musical excellence.
Each member of the Common Ground Praise Band brought their unique flavor and talent to the performance, creating an unforgettable experience. Under AJ Rios's skilled leadership, the band not only performed songs but also created an environment of worship and fellowship, leaving a lasting impression on all who were fortunate enough to be part of that special service.
In today's Missions Moment, Maya Berry highlighted the remarkable contributions of David and Laura Shuping, dedicated missionaries from Pender. The Shupings, deeply embedded in the Virginia community, have turned their mission calling into a far-reaching and impactful ministry. As two of the 19 missionaries supported by their community, their journey began at Pender and led them to establish a significant ministry with Navigators for Christ.
David Shuping's unique approach, which included training as a firefighter, allowed him to deeply understand the challenges faced by first responders. This experience became the bedrock for his Bible studies and counseling sessions, offering much-needed spiritual guidance and support. Laura Shuping, on the other hand, has made her mark by supporting spouses through Bible studies and managing finances for the Richmond Navigators chapter, utilizing her skills as a CPA.
Their mission has now extended beyond local borders to international realms with PATH International in Oregon. David's leadership at PATH is channeling volunteer efforts in Uganda and Ethiopia, notably in an orphanage that provides vital services like education, housing, and healthcare. Laura's organizational prowess is equally transformative, particularly in developing communities.
Their plans for 2024 include expanding healthcare facilities in these regions, highlighted by the addition of three new maternity wards. This initiative is further supported by the heartfelt efforts of Maya Berry's daughter, Johanna, who contributed 50 baby kits for the health center.
As the Shupings prepare for their mission trips in April, July, and November of 2024, the community is invited to support and join in their endeavors. This Missions Moment is not just a story of individual dedication; it's a powerful testament to the spirit of service and the profound impact of community involvement in making a global difference.
Gather around, kids, for a special moment just for you! It's great to see you all here. Are there any more young adventurers ready to join us? Don't be shy, come closer! Ah, almost missed something important – our music to set the scene.
Today, I have a fantastic story for you, and it's all about wishing for things. Have you ever wished really hard for something? Maybe something you really hoped would happen? It's okay if you don't want to share, but I bet you've had those big wishes.
Imagine this: you're excited about playing a sport or having an outdoor birthday party, and then suddenly, it starts to rain! There goes your game or party, right? You probably wish, "Oh, I wish it would stop raining!"
Speaking of sports, do you like baseball or basketball? Ah, basketball is great because you don’t have to worry about rain, right?
Now, let me tell you about today's story. It's about Jesus and two brothers named James and John. If I had my puppets, they'd be chatting about a really cool idea they had. They thought it would be amazing to sit next to Jesus in his kingdom. Imagine sitting right beside Jesus!
So, they go up to Jesus and share their wish. They say, “Hey Jesus, when you're in your kingdom, we want to sit on your left and right side. Isn’t that a great idea?”
But Jesus asks them something important. He asks if they're ready to be true servants, to help others, and to give their lives for God’s kingdom. They say yes, but Jesus explains it’s more than just wanting a special seat next to him. It's about serving and loving others.
So, as we pray today, let's think about how we can be more like Jesus. How can we help and show love to others? That's a really good thing to think about.
Let's pray together: Dear God, help us to share your love every day. Show us how to care for and serve others, just like Jesus did. In Jesus' name, Amen.
What a great way to start our day, thinking about how we can make a difference, just like James, John, and Jesus!
Pastor Bruce Johnson delivered a stirring contemporary message titled “The Stewardship of Service,” deeply rooted in Christian values and teachings. Opening in reverence, he expressed gratitude for the Church's mission and service, setting a tone of dedication and faith.
The sermon highlighted the importance of the vows taken upon joining the United Methodist Church, emphasizing the commitment to participate in the church’s ministries through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Pastor Johnson eloquently connected these vows to the Apostle Peter's teachings, underscoring the role of faithful stewardship in the grace of God.
He insightfully discussed the reciprocal nature of God’s grace and our faithfulness, illustrating how our promises to God are responses to His gracious actions towards us. By exploring the biblical story of James and John, Pastor Johnson conveyed the profound message that true Christian service transcends personal desires for power and prestige, aligning instead with Jesus’ teachings of humility and servitude.
The sermon also addressed contemporary concerns about the relevance and impact of vows in today's society. Pastor Johnson clarified that true Christian freedom lies in the ability to fulfill God's purpose, contrasting it with the pursuit of personal desires. He drew parallels between the disciplines required in sports, music, and marriage, and the devotion needed in Christian service, emphasizing the transformative power of faithful practice in love and service.
Pastor Johnson’s message concluded with a call to live out the vow of service as a response to Jesus' servant-like actions. He encouraged the congregation to utilize their spiritual gifts in service, aligning with God’s purpose and transforming their lives and the world around them.