It’s our Tradition at Trinity, Sarasota to offer couples the opportunity to renew their wedding vows the Sunday before Saint Valentine’s Day. Click Here for the liturgy we use.
Testimonies of the love between a couple, between friends, between a mother and son.
Joy Voyles quote: Chris is trying to keep under control while caring for his mom. It has been very hard on him. What a beautiful creation God blessed Nancy with. Though the time has been stressful for both Chris and Nancy, it also has allowed one on one time for them to share, pray and bond even more… maybe that was a blessing in disguise if you can call “pain” a blessing. Although, as I think about it… the pain of childbirth is a blessing… you reap the reward of a beautiful newborn in your arms and heart to love forever… Could it be the pain of leaving your body and moving into the arms of our Lord is a blessing of love to last thru eternity…
Song of Solomon 8:5-7 5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?
1. Coming up from the wilderness
Wilderness of the time before we know Christ
We wander in the desolation. Then we accept God’s love, are buried with Christ in baptism and we come up out of the wilderness. We are raised to new life.
Wilderness of an awful time in our lives
dry, barren, desolate, deadly. Christ is will us. Christ helps us to come through and come up out of the wilderness. We are raised to new life.
Wilderness of life this side of heaven.
Like the Hebrew slaves in Exodus, we cross the wilderness of this life to the promised land of heaven. We come up, raised to new life, eternal life
2. Leaning upon our Beloved Christ
Why do you lean?
For strength because you are weak
For support because the journey is long
For steadying because the footing is unsure
Because you just want to be near the one you love, your beloved
Charles Spurgeon Quote, Adapted
Beloved, there is no part of the pilgrimage of a saint in which we can afford to walk in any other way but in the way of leaning. … at the first, and at the last, still leaning, still leaning upon Christ Jesus; ay, and leaning more and more heavily upon Christ the older we grow.
Under the apple tree, I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.
Consider the details, the specifics, the intimacy with which Jesus knows us
Knows us within our mother’s wombs
Knows us at our first breath
Knows the hairs on our head, our every experience, the deepest longing of our heart
6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;
Makes an impression
Ensures something is real, authentic
Reminds us the reality is binding. There’s a permanence to commitment, a sense of security
Jesus desires to be the seal on heart (call to be) and the seal on arm (call to do)
for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.
1. What makes death strong?
Death comes for all people, just as Christ comes for all people
There’s a permanence to death. Total. Irreversible. The same is true for Christ’s love which is even stronger than death. Christ’s love overcomes sin and death and the grave with sacrificial love and resurrection love.
2. The Passion of Christ’s Love
The unrelenting longing and desire of Christ is to have an intimate, saving relationship with us
In his passion (healthy jealousy) Jesus doesn’t want to see anything come between us and our relationship with him.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
Christ’s passionate love is compared to fire
Fire has great power
It is alive
It is useful
It is unchanging, unquenchable, unstoppable
Nothing can put it out. Not even wave after wave of trouble. Not night after night of darkness. Not even death.
If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.
All people are made in the image of God. In this God gives us the ability to love and be loved. Love cannot be bought or sold; it is not a piece of merchandise. Only objects can be bought and sold. Love is not an object. People are never objects.
This is why human trafficking, pornography, and prostitution are scorned. They are outside God’s will because love and people are objectified.
Love is of infinite value. We cannot buy it or earn it.
Love of God in Christ Jesus
Saves us from the wilderness
Something we lean upon always
More intimate than our first breath
Real, Authentic, Makes a lasting impression
Strong, Fierce, Passionate
Unchanging, Unquenchable, Unstoppable
Of Infinite Value
Offered to you as a gift
Accept the gift of God’s love
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
While preparing for this year’s Pentecost Celebration, I began exploring the Biblical stories of God as Fire:
Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
The pillar of fire leading God’s people through the darkness and across the wilderness to the promised land (Exodus 13-14)
God consuming the offering in the battle between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
God companioning and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the firey furnace (Daniel 3)
God described as a Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3)
John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3, Luke 3)
Jesus promising that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (John 14-16)
The story of Pentecost in Acts 2
This led me to think about our need to be filled continually with the power of the Holy Spirit. These truths were brought together in the following worship resource. May your life be set ablaze with the strength and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. – Lisa <><
We can be certain of one thing: transformation into God’s image and God’s purpose requires that we pass through God’s refining fire. Being made holy is not a one-time deal; it is an ongoing process that continues until we are fully reconciled with Christ at his second coming. During our lives we experience intense trials that we can use to refine our spirits. The key idea to remember is that we pass “through” and do not remain in the fire. – Enuma Okoro,Silence and Other Invitations of Advent
God is fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil– for the devil is cold– then let us call upon the Lord and he will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for him but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth, the coldness of the hater of good will be driven way. – Seraphim of Sarov
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit Plain text is for one voice. Italics text is for all voices.
Holy Spirit, come again as cleansing fire, burning away all that is false and fruitless Come Holy Spirit
Come again as guiding fire, lighting the way though our wilderness Come Holy Spirit
Come again as refining fire, purifying our words, our ways and our hearts Come Holy Spirit
Come again as prophetic fire, calling us to courage and action Come Holy Spirit
Come again as unifying fire, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven Come Holy Spirit
Come again as empowering fire, dancing atop young and old, men and women, rich and poor. Inspiring us and emboldening us to use your gifts to bless and change the world. Come Holy Spirit
We ask all this in the name of Jesus,
the One who promised to send you,
and who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
The following worship resource was inspired by the words of John the Baptist concerning Jesus, that Jesus would baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11; Luke:3:16) Water and fire seem opposed to one another, yet both cleanse and purify. The liturgy is made up of Brian Doerksen’s song Refiner’s Fire (CCLI Song No. 426298) and three scripture readings, all on the theme of seeking God for a pure, clean heart. – Lisa <><
Pure Heart 1 by Avalmaar
For a Pure, Clean Heart
ALL SINGING: Refiner’s Fire,
verse 1 and chorus
Matthew 3:1-2, 11 (NRSV)
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
VOICE TWO: Malachi 3:2-3 (NRSV)
Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
ALL SINGING Refiner’s Fire, verse 2 and chorus
ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 51:1-3, 7, 10-12 (NRSV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.