Passage: Ephesians 4:1-13
At Pender’s Traditional Service 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.
That 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 Carillon Ringers, under the skilled direction of Brian Stevenson, delivered an awe-inspiring prelude to the traditional worship service with their rendition of "God of Grace and God of Glory," masterfully arranged by Sandra Eithun. This performance was a remarkable fusion of an iconic hymn tune and the exceptional arranging talents of Eithun, creating a musical experience that was truly unforgettable.
This setting stood out as an exemplary piece, demonstrating the captivating potential of handbell music in worship settings. The Carillon Ringers’ performance was infused with a vitality and spirit that perfectly complemented the majesty of the original hymn. The arrangement was further enhanced by a cleverly integrated snippet of "Amazing Grace," adding an additional layer of depth and resonance to the piece
Scored in the keys of F Major and d minor, "God of Grace and God of Glory" spanned 76 measures, showcasing the range and versatility of the handbell choir. The piece was a testament to the power of music in worship, perfectly capturing the reverence and joy of the traditional service. It was not just a performance but an act of worship in itself, elevating the spirits of all who were present and making it a must-experience arrangement for any choir. The Carillon Ringers, under Stevenson's direction, proved once again that they are a formidable force in the realm of sacred music.
Today's Missions Moment was presented by Maya Berry.
Good morning, everyone. Today, we shine a light on our faith promise missions, particularly focusing on the inspiring work of homegrown missionaries from Pender, David and Laura Shuping. As cherished members of our community, the Shupings have transformed their call to missions into a life-changing ministry, deeply rooted right here in Virginia.
David and Laura, among the 19 missionaries we proudly support, first felt their calling at Pender. Their journey from leading our Faith Promise Missions Committee to founding their groundbreaking ministry with Navigators for Christ is a story of dedication and faith.
David’s unique approach involved training as a firefighter, immersing himself in the intense pressures faced by first responders. His hands-on experience laid the foundation for leading insightful Bible studies and providing essential, God-led counseling for those in the field.
Meanwhile, Laura's contributions have been equally impactful. She has offered invaluable support to spouses through Bible studies and small group sessions, in addition to leveraging her expertise as a CPA to manage the finances for the Richmond Navigators chapter.
But their journey didn't stop there. The Shupings have now expanded their horizons by joining PATH International in Oregon, opening new avenues for their talents. In his role as director at PATH, David is spearheading volunteer mission teams, while Laura's organizational skills are bringing tangible change to communities in Uganda and Ethiopia. Their work at an orphanage provides Christian education, housing, healthcare, and emotional support, creating a haven for those in need.
Their upcoming mission trips in 2024 are already shaping up to be transformative. They plan to enhance healthcare facilities, including adding three more maternity wards to the existing two by December. A testament to their efforts is the heartfelt contribution by my daughter Johanna, who raised funds to donate 50 baby kits for the health center, directly supporting the midwives there.
As we look forward to their mission trips in April, July, and November of 2024, I invite you to join us in prayer for their endeavors. And for those who feel the call to join this noble mission, we welcome you to reach out. My husband Greg, myself, or any member of our mission team would be delighted to share more about our faith promise missions.
Thank you for joining us in this Missions Moment, a celebration of the enduring spirit of service and the power of community in changing lives across the globe.
Pastor Bruce Johnson delivered a stirring 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.
The Traditional Service music, under the masterful direction of Jane McKee, transformed into an ethereal realm where hymns and melodies intertwine to create a sanctuary of sound and spirituality. With Heidi Jacobs' skillful accompaniment, each hymn transcended mere notes and lyrics, becoming a profound expression of faith and devotion.
The congregation and choir united in a harmonious blend, beginning with the soothing strains of "Shalom to You." This hymn, a melodious wish for peace, sets a tone of serenity and fellowship, inviting all present into a space of tranquility and communal spirit.
"Praise to the Lord Almighty" then elevated the service with its majestic and uplifting tempo. This hymn, a jubilant celebration of divine glory and power, resonated through the sanctuary, filling every corner with its robust and exalting melody, lifting hearts and spirits alike.
In a seamless transition, "Lord, Whose Love through Humble Service" offered a contemplative moment, reflecting on the selfless acts of service and love. Its melody is a gentle yet powerful reminder of the profound impact of humility and altruism in our lives and in our communities.
"Make Me a Servant" continued this theme, a prayer set to music after the sermon, asking for guidance to serve with grace and kindness. The hymn's simple yet poignant melody becomes a heartfelt plea for strength and humility in service to others.
The service culminated with "Forth in Thy Name, O Lord," a hymn that sends the congregation forth with a sense of purpose and mission. Its stirring words and melody instill a sense of duty and commitment to carry the lessons of the service out into the world.
Under Jane McKee's direction, each hymn in the Traditional Service became more than just a song; they are a journey through the different facets of faith – peace, praise, service, humility, and action. These hymns, beautifully rendered by the choir and congregation, encapsulate the essence of the spiritual experience, leaving an indelible mark on all who partake in the service.
For the Offertory the Sanctuary Choir presented a captivating rendition of "In the Season of Our Plenty," directed by Jane with the skilled accompaniment of pianist Heidi Jacobs. This performance was a harmonious blend of two iconic hymn tunes, BEACH SPRING and NETTLETON, ingeniously arranged by Mark Patterson to accompany John Parker's Thanksgiving text
Patterson's arrangement was a triumph of musical artistry, perfectly complementing the choir's vocal prowess. The inclusion of simple handbell parts added a unique and refreshing dimension to the anthem, making it a standout addition to the service. The accessible vocal writing allowed the choir's talent to shine through, highlighting the depth and emotion of the text.
"In the Season of Our Plenty" is more than just a song; it's a prayer of gratitude, resonating deeply with listeners. Its message of thanksgiving is universal, making it an ideal choice for any time of the year, but it holds particular significance during harvest time. The anthem's lyrics, "...praising God for all His goodness, let the sounds of joy prolong!" encapsulate the spirit of gratitude and celebration that the choir so beautifully conveyed
This performance by the Sanctuary Choir under Jane McKee's leadership was not only a musical delight but also a poignant reminder of the blessings and abundance we experience. It was a testament to the choir's ability to bring sacred texts to life through music, enriching the worship experience and touching the hearts of all present.