God of Everlasting to Everlasting
Receive my blessing
You lead your people
Make me fully yours
I surrender my life to you again
I give what you first gave me
I entrust my life to you again
Teach me to rely on you fully
Forgive me when I follow the false
I take refuge in you
You alone are safety and shelter
You alone are grace and belonging
You alone are trustworthy and true
Blessed be your name
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever…
Who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever
– Psalm 136:1-3, 16
Blessing College Students as They Leave for School We offer this blessing during worship the second Sunday in August. This is usually the last Sunday our college students are in worship before they return to school.
The students are invited to stand where they are seated. (Option: If the congregation is small enough, the students could be introduced at this time and/or given a gift.) The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand and lay a hand of support and blessing on the student closest to them.
Option: The blessing may begin with an invitation for the congregation to offer their own prayers for the students silently or aloud. The following prayer concludes the time of blessing.
ONE: Holy One,
Bless and protect these college students
as they leave us to begin another school year.
Keep them encouraged and full of hope.
Surround them with godly influences and opportunities.
Fill them with discernment,
that they may remain focused, disciplined and far from foolishness.
Grant these students the mind of Christ-
that they may grow in your wisdom and truth
that they may serve with both power and compassion
that they may carry your light throughout their campuses
Thank you for these students
and for providing the resources for them to continue their education.
Thank you for family members, friends, teachers, and coaches
who have mentored and supported them so that this day might be possible.
Thank you for creating us with the capacity to think, speak, discover and reason.
We rejoice in these good gifts from you and give you the honor and glory for them.
Receive our thanks and extend your blessing in the name of Jesus,
who saves us and leads us and teaches us to pray…
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1957 ‘Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom’.
A Prayer for Those Who Govern
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, first verse
O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!
Lord of All,
As we draw near another Independence Day,
we confess our dependence on you.
Thank you for extending abundance, mercy, and protection
to our nation through the years.
Every resource, freedom, and opportunity we have is a good gift from you.
Without you, we are lost.
In humility, we seek your face.
In repentance, we turn from our ungrateful, destructive and selfish ways.
In faith, we call on your power to forgive our sin and heal our land.
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, second verse
O beautiful for heroes prov’d in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and ev’ry gain divine.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on those who govern our land,
Leaders of our nation, our state, and our community
and all who are running for office.
Grant them a love of justice.
Open their minds with wisdom and compassion,
so all people may be treated fairly and with dignity.
Open their ears to the cries of the desperate and powerless
so cycles of poverty, disease, and abuse may be broken.
Open their eyes to see how best to respond
and open their hearts with courage to do the right thing,
even when pressured to do otherwise.
Dawn a new day of integrity and servant leadership upon our land.
Shower down your Spirit of collaboration for the common good
that there may be lasting peace and plenty for all.
The congregation is invited to lift up their own prayers for our nation
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, Amen.
Option: We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, who taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven….
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, fourth verse
O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
Based on Genesis 13
Abraham and Lot end their conflict peaceably
God’s generous promise to Abraham of land and children
You are the God of Abundance
God of Provision and Plenty
Generous Creator and Sustainer
So many do not have enough
So many are burdened by too much
So many squander what they have
So many do evil to get more
Corruption, Injustice, Oppression, Greed, Graft, Violence…
Lord, have mercy
Help me choose You and your ways
Gratitude for all you entrust to me
Collaboration over competition
True love of those I’m working with
Eyes to see all people as you see them… beloved
Forgive and heal my fears when there doesn’t seem to be enough
You know my worry and lack of faith
God of Abundance
I trust you to provide everything I need
and everything others need
Increase my faith and trust
Help me approach every need and conflict
with fairness, generosity, openness
Help me see all you are providing
Help me hear and listen to all you are saying
Your ways, always. Amen
You knit us together in our mother’s womb
and breathe us into being.
Thank you for the gift of life
and for bringing us into this world through our mothers.
We recognize the risk they took
to carry us, nourish us and protect us within their bodies.
Thank you for the women in our life,
for our mothers and for those who have been like mothers to us.
We are grateful for their tenderness when we were helpless or hurt,
We are grateful for their encouragement and wisdom when we were unsure,
We are grateful for their correction and perseverance so we would stay true,
We are grateful for the way they guided us into Your saving embrace.
Too often we took their love and sacrifice for granted. Forgive us.
Help us to live in such a way
that our words and actions bring honor to them and to You.
Merciful One, gather us all to the safety of your breast.
For many, this day is full of joy and celebration,
but for others, it is an especially painful day.
Pour out your healing, consolation, and peace
on those who are grieving the loss of their mother or the loss of their child,
on families separated by distance or disagreement,
on families plagued by disappointment, abandonment, addiction or abuse.
Compassionate One, shelter us all beneath Your outstretched arms.
Bring your healing, consolation, and peace
to women whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled,
to mothers and guardians who are exhausted
as they labor to balance work and raising children,
to mothers and guardians who are overwhelmed as they struggle
to bring up children in the midst of poverty, disease, or war.
The need is deep. Come quickly. Our hope is in You.
At this point in the prayer, all the girls and women in the room are invited to stand as they are able. Those who are seated are asked to place a hand of blessing upon those who are standing.
Gracious God, thank You for every woman and girl here today
and for every one we have brought with us in our hearts.
Reveal Your purpose and plan for their life.
Bless them and protect them.
Deepen their love and trust of You.
Strengthen them, empower them, and anoint them with Your Holy Spirit
that their faith, influence, and achievement would bring You honor and glory.
Receive our thanks and praise again for these women and women in the making
for they are precious to us and to You.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Message 5 of 5
Scripture: John 15:1-8
These are the notes from a message offered 11/18/18, the Sunday before Thanksgiving at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. This is the last post in the series. I pray they have been an encouragement to you.
John 15:1-5, 8 Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing…. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
This feels like bearing fruit:
Dedicating the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes
The marriage of our eldest daughter Elyse to a very faithful, honorable man named Sam. We see the fruit of faith in their lives. We see all the folks along the way who planted seeds of faith which are now blossoming.
Tamara’s Baptism- This was the first adult baptism in 4 years.
We’ve been having conversations amongst the missions team and later the leadership council about fruitfulness. Fruit-full. It’s what drove me to this scripture.
Jesus gives us many illustrations of who we are as his followers. We are the Bride of Christ. We are a building made with living stones. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Family of God. We are the Branches of a Vine. Jesus is referring to grapevine in this instance.
Over and over and over again it says you will bear fruit, you will bear fruit, you will bear fruit.
That is the longing of my heart. It is also the thing that haunts me because having only one adult baptism in 4 years feels like we could bear much more fruit than that. We’re called to bear more fruit than that.
So we started having conversations in the mission team. We have incredibly faithful leaders in that area. We talked about the tens of thousands of dollars being raised for mission efforts- The United Methodist Women’s efforts, the Rummage Sale, our regular Sunday offerings for connectional giving which supports missionaries and projects around the world. We also do local programs like the Day 4 Hope back to school event.
We started having honest conversations about what is bearing fruit. It drew us to a question. As the Body of Christ are we suffering from multi-system organ failure? Are we dying? Or is it as we see in this passage, is it time for some pruning?
I am a novice when it comes to plants. I’ve planted some veggies but I’ve never had to prune. My mother had rose bushes and she would cut them back to nubbins. It looked like she was hurting the plant, but actually, she was helping the plant.
Pruning can feel like loss. Like harm. Like damage. It’s hard to do.
So we started talking about pruning. What in the life of the congregation was bearing fruit? What could we prune and make it more fruitful? What were some things that it was time for us to not do them anymore?
We’d been invited by the conference to be apart of an effort called Dinner Church. We prayed about it and went to meetings. It was about starting a new worship service based on meals. It was very clear. There was not one person in the congregation who felt like we were called to it. Ok, that’s not what we’re supposed to do.
Then we started to have conversations around some of our big efforts, including the Day 4 Hope back to school event. It takes thousands of dollars, 10 months to plan, over 200 volunteers.
We’ve been doing Day 4 Hope for 4 years and we came to the realization there was no fruit. It was absolutely good. It was good to give kids school supplies and the eye exams and the dental check and medical check, haircut, gift certificates, and photos.
We had not built any relationships with the families. We tried. The relationship with the school was at a standstill. Was it time to prune?
The missions team took some proposals to the leadership council and we had some hard conversations. We said, “Yes.” Yes, we are not called to do Dinner Church. Yes, it is time for the season of Day 4 Hope to come to an end.
It was at that moment I’m thinking, ok Lord, multi-system organ failure or pruning? What is it, Lord? In the midst of the leadership, I heard it’s time for pruning.
In our history, we are a generous people. We are generous with time, money, resources, love, grace, hope. It’s time to prune that generosity into something face to face. If we’re really honest, it’s so much easier to give money and stuff to someone else to do the ministry for us than to be face to face ourselves.
Bearing fruit, being fruit-full, means being face to face. Relationship building, skin in the game, a ministry of presence, faith in action, servant-hearted, choosing to be a hometown missionary.
We are the ones sent to this community. We are the branches. We have the fruit and so many others are in need of it.
Trinity Family Ministries
Partnership with Phillippi Shores Elementary School Teachers
Brookdale Assisted Living on Swift
Fish of Sarasota- rides to doctor’s appointments
We are at a new season in our life here at Trinity.
John 15:4-5 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing
In order to be fruit-full, we need this abiding. In this abiding, God removes every branch that bears no fruit. (Verse 2) We give thanks to God for removing our
Sin, Shame, Guilt
Prejudice, Evil, Injustice
Hate, Apathy, Isolation
It is removed so that the Holy Spirit can abide in us. So that something new can happen, we can bear more fruit.
More fruit in our character, the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Our lives are changed as we share the fruit we are bearing. We become fruit-full. It’s wonderful to help someone else do ministry but it does not excuse us from the calling God places on our lives to bear fruit ourselves. Our own calling.
What bears fruit is pruned to make it bear more fruit. (Verse 2) Our character is changed bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Our community is changed as we bear the fruit of faith.
Things start going down- the crime rate, acts of violence, the unemployment rate
Things start coming up- the number of kids graduating, the number of kids who can read well, the number of people who have hope, the number of folks who place their trust in Jesus, the number of folks whose lives are changed.
The seeds bear fruit and there is a harvest. This is who we are. This who you are. This is who we can be.
We’ve been talking about what it means to be resilient for weeks now. Now we’re at the point where the resilience begins to bear fruit.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
In Christ we are resilient!
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark 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 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.
Prayer at Year’s End by Steve Garnaas Holmes
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Gratitude for a New Year by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
For the blessings of today
which remind us of the blessings of the past
which point forward to the blessings still to come
we give you thanks
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.
To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night
You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
But come evening,
We are withered and dry
Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart
Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story
Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well
Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.
Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown
Prayer of Confession for a New Year
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others
As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen
A New Year’s Blessing by Steve Garnaas Holmes
My hope and prayer and confidence
is that in this new year
God will be lovingly present for you,
and you will more and more deeply trust
God’s delight in you.
Christ will lead you every step of the new year.
The Spirit’s gifts will unfold in you in new ways.
I rejoice that in this new year
beauty will surround you; grace will enfold you;
love will embrace and uphold you;
joy will bless you, and hope sustain you.
May you receive healing and wisdom;
may your creativity flower and your courage grow;
and in your hands may justice and mercy flourish.
I rejoice that these gifts await you in the new year,
and pray that you receive them with delight.
I give thanks for the gift of sharing together
the journey of this new year.
God bless us all.
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