Worship for Sunday August 22, 2021

Welcome! This coming Sunday our worship will be lead by Pastor Liz Aguilar.

Liturgist: Nate Purificacion
Special Music: Nate & Niel Purificacion
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20

This is the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Please join us in person or virtually for this Facebook Live worship video which will go live on Sunday morning at 9:30 A.M.

Worship Bulletin:

Watch today’s worship service on YouTube:

Worship – March 8, 2020 “The Power of Prayer”

The Power of Prayer (Sermon notes)

March 8, 2020

Scripture texts are Jeremiah 29:12; Romans 8:26-27

Rev. Liz Aguilar

Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista, UCC

 

 

We continue our sermon series on the 6 marks of discipleship. Do we remember what those “marks are?” Prayer, reading scripture, worship, service, giving, spiritual friendships.

Last Sunday I gave an over-view of those 6 marks and we spoke about why they are all important. Today I wish to share more about prayer.

 

Prayer is the primary way we communicate with God and God communicates with us. Quiet ourselves, it helps to find a same place to go to in your home for daily reflection with God.

Some prayers are quick and desperate, some are longer.

We must begin with the premise that God wants to me in relationship with us. In biblical history God and people spoke to each other all of the time. Later when Jesus came along the disciples asked him how they should pray, which is when Jesus gave them the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Unfortunately, that has become so rote that we do not always pay attention to those words. I encourage you to do so…

But we must acknowledge that there are times when we do not know how to pray. There is so much on our minds and hearts. Fortunately, the Apostle Paul knew this and wrote “Sometimes we do not know how we out to pray but the spirit intercedes with sighs (groans) too deep for words”

 

God wants to hear from us and God needs us to pray for one another. God CAN do anything God wants but for some reason God wants us to intercede for one another in prayer.

 

Back to not knowing where to start- There is an old “formula” sort to speak which has helped me when I have not known where to start my prayers. The acronym is ACTS. Acclamation, Confession, Thanks, Supplication.

(Describe each)

But sometimes we don’t know why we are led to pray for someone but we must answer in obedience. I knew a young woman who was very active in one of my churches I served. She was struggling but I did not know any specifics. I felt compelled to pray for her and so I did on my own and with her dad, who was my colleague and boss at the time. We prayed together and asked God to help her in any way she needed it. The next day, much to my surprise, I learned that she had cleaned her room and had re-enlisted in college courses! This experience taught me that prayer does work and that if someone comes to mind our job is to pray for them.

 

I have also discovered that the more you pray the more you want to pray. The more you allow God to lead you to pray for others the more the Holy Spirit will lead you to do so. These days there is no shortage of reasons to pray and although God can do anything God wants to do God calls us to indeed pray for one another.

Amen.

Worship – “The Real Miracle” Rev. Jamall Calloway, PHD – February 23, 2020

Rev. Jamall A. Calloway, PhD

“The Real Miracle”

Luke 13:10-13

I am going to start this sermon off by saying something that can come across as a little biologically silly. But I feel like what I am about to say will encapsulate what I’m trying to express in this sermon this morning. And that is, I believe, that the body has a mind of its own. I know that sounds funny because your mind, your brain, is a part of your body. Of course. But we often don’t think of it that way. We think we have a mind and then we have a body and that is because we, as cerebral creatures, as thinking human beings, live far too much inside of our heads on a day to day basis. We think of things in our mind quietly. We talk to ourselves in our mind as we drive, move and think. We think about things long and hard and when someone asks, “hey what’s going on?” Or, “Hey what’s on your mind?”, we say, “oh nothing.” Once again, we live so far deep into the crevices of our mind. We live so far in our heads that we don’t pay adequate attention to how was the rest of our flesh is involved in, and reacts to, the very condition of our thoughts.

For example, when you smile there is a slight chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. So, with a smile you can literally feed your body positive neurotransmitters. But when you are down, or better yet, when you are stressed, your body responds to that, too. Sometimes we don’t notice that our back problems could be because of something on our mind. Sometimes we don’t notice that our shoulders are tense when we are stressed out. Sometimes we don’t notice that our headaches and migraines are a result of our worrying. Sometimes we don’t notice that we don’t take the deep breaths that we need to because we are so busy working and moving and always in a hurry. And sometimes, we don’t notice that our deepest regrets, our deepest wounds, our past decisions and memories that include a wish to do something over, affects our bodies as well.

And to be honest with you that’s what this sermon is about. Things in our head that make our bodies ache. Things like Stress. Guilt. Shame. Things that live in our memories that sometimes pop up in our minds and cause us to take a deep sigh. Let me ask you, what happens when we are so stressed out, that we don’t realize the constant damage we are doing to ourselves because we are so busy living in our heads?

And these questions bring us to our text this morning. They bring us to our text this morning about a woman whose body also reflected something going on inside of her. Now, I don’t know anything about this woman in our text this morning. I don’t know who she is or where she grew up or what she did, or what was done to her. All I know is, all we know is, the scriptures say she’s been walking around with a spirit that has literally disabled her for almost two decades. This thing, this spirit, was so severe on her body, it was so stressful, that she was permanently hunched over and unable to stand up straight. And I imagine if she tried to stand up straight, it would hurt. I imagine, it would ache; I imagine that it would ache so painfully that she probably would revert back to being hunched over to alleviate the pain of trying to stand up.

I want you to imagine her, too.

I imagine that she got used to it after 18 years. After 18 years she probably kept the pain of how she was feeling to herself. And to be honest with you all I’m sure you’ve met her or him or someone like them, or maybe between us, you are her, someone who’s grown so used to their own pain and stress or guilt or shame that you don’t even see the point in mentioning it anymore when someone asks how you’re doing. You’ve met them before. The kind of people who know how to smile and wave and tell you everything is fine, “no worries, I’m doing really good”, but deep down inside they’re in such pain, or they’re scared or stressed out or, they have regrets. But they would rather say nothing is wrong then to say “Hey, I’m not doing so good today…”

Now, I sincerely wish I was there to watch her face before she arrived in the synagogue that day. I wish I was there when they told her about this guy named Jesus from this small town. I wish I was there to see her countenance shift from “yeah right here goes another one of those religious leaders” to… “well maybe he can help me.” So, she packs up her necessities, and slowly walks to the synagogue. I am sure she wondered what she was going to say to him, but that wondering was for naught because the text says that when Jesus saw her, immediately he called her over to him. And I wish I was there to see her face shift from disbelief to nervous. Me? He can’t be calling me. Nobody ever sees me. Nobody ever really pays attention to me. They might notice when I’m in the room by my deformity, or they might notice when I’m in the room by my stressful spirit; they might notice when I’m in the room by all of these negative things, but those things prevent them from really looking at me. From really seeing me.

Have you ever felt like her? Overlooked and dismissed? Has anyone ever made you feel less than what you are?

And that is a child of the most loving, generous, understandable and gracious high God.

And when she gets to Jesus, he says something strange, something peculiar.

He says, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”

I am sure he called her woman because he may also have not known her name. But notice there was no talking. There was no discussion. She didn’t have to explain what she was going through. She didn’t have to try to convince him of anything. She didn’t have to pay him any money or sew any seeds into his ministry. She didn’t have to make any promises or declare that she would change something in order to receive something from him. He just looked at her and said:

Woman, you are set free from whatever is inside of you that is making you so sick and unable to stand tall.

Now, usually, we would read this story as a miracle story. A story where Jesus miraculously healed someone, gave them vision where they had none, told them to walk when they couldn’t, liberated them from a demonic force that captured them. I’ll be honest with you usually the Bible isn’t so kind to those with different bodies and disabilities or deformities. They’re used as sort of biblical props to prove that Jesus is a healer. But no. Not this time. He doesn’t yell at a demon; Jesus doesn’t say I now declare you to be healed, so to be honest with you, Congregational church, I’m not so sure that Jesus bent or twisted the natural elements of the world or spiritually intruded into her spine and nervous system at all. No. And you may disagree with me, but it seems to me Jesus did something much more natural, much more therapeutic, much more human, and I’ll say it, much more miraculous. It seems to me Jesus saw someone stressed out, either with guilt or shame or trauma or pressure or fear and said “Hey, I see you. I notice you. I care about. you’re okay here. You can Breathe.”

The next verse says: When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

It doesn’t say he miraculously touched her, and the issue vanished. It doesn’t say power went out of him and this woman could now stand up. It says he laid hands on her, he put his hand on her shoulder, or he possibly hugged her.

Apparently, she didn’t need a miraculously divine miracle. She didn’t need the laws of physics suspended for her or any biological manipulation. It seems she needed someone to notice her, to speak a kind word to her, to tell her that she is safe, to help her let whatever it was go, to let go of the shame, to let go of the guilt, to let go of the baggage, and to accept that things are going to most likely be okay.

I will not hold you long today. But I will say sometimes, you and I are so busy looking for God to do a miracle when the real miracle is on us to do something much more unnatural to ourselves. And that is to see each other, to notice each other, to get out of our own ways and our own heads and our own self involvement and touch and love on somebody else. We live in a world where it seems that being loving to one another without preconditions is more of a miracle than an actual supernatural miracle from God.

If you and I, want to see a real miracle, then we should start emulating Jesus by seeing those who need help, who need love, who need noticing and asking “hey, how are you doing?” … and meaning it. We should notice the spirits of stress on each other, and if you can, offer a kind word to help them stand.

Amen.

2020-1-12 “The Baptism of Jesus”

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17

Rev. Liz Aguilar

Community Congregational Church, UCC

 

Baptism- do you remember yours? Maybe you were too young to remember it, like me? Or maybe you were baptized as a young person or an adult and so you remember it very well.

Today is traditionally the Sunday in which the Christian Church celebrates and remembers the baptism of Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel there is no account of baby Jesus being presented at the temple with Simeon and Anna recognizing him. Nor is there an account of Jesus being separated from his parents, only to be found teaching among the older rabbis. Those stories are found in the other Gospels.

However, in Matthew the narrative goes from the visit of the magi, which we looked at last week, to the role and function of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. –  Now no one knows why Matthew would leave out the stories which other Gospel writers included. Perhaps Matthew wanted to focus on Jesus’ adult ministry and mission. We don’t know.

Yet, what we do know is that Matthew is the one Gospel writer that most emphasizes Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah. Matthew wanted his listeners of his Gospel to be fully aware that Jesus was whom the prophets before him had said- the Messiah who was to come to save the world.

That’s why Matthew quotes Jesus saying that John must baptize him to “fulfill all righteousness.” Therefore, here in Matthew Jesus is shown as being obedient to what was prophesize about him.

So what does this mean to us today? Well, if we remember that the definition of being a Christian is to be “Christ- like then if and when we want to learn to be a Christian all we need to do is look to Jesus as our best and most important example.

We are emulating Jesus when we say we are a Christian.

 

So, if we are say we want to be a Christian and we say we want to be like Jesus Christ then we must know what were the traits and behaviors of Jesus.

The character trait that is most evident to me in this story is that Jesus was humble. Now, that isn’t a character trait that we like to follow necessarily, today, is it? We are taught in this culture that the louder and more opinionated that you are the more successful you will be, the more respected you will be. We are told that the more we push our own agenda to win our own arguments, the smarter and more respected we will be.

However, that isn’t what Jesus’s behavior is like. Is it? NO, right away we see that John understands who Jesus is and is completely surprised that Jesus would ask him to baptize Jesus. He doesn’t think he is worthy to do so. He knows who Jesus is and he knows that he isn’t Jesus’ equal.

And yet, Jesus, in HIS humility and HIS desire to obey God’s prophesy understands that He must allow John to baptize Him. Now, if John was baptizing for the “repentance of sins,” does that mean that Jesus was seeking forgiveness of His sins? No, because Jesus was with out sin. Instead, Jesus was seeking to do what was expected of Him to do and in order to do that he had to humble himself.

I like this quote by Eric Benato, NT scholar and professor at Princeton Seminary, when he said, “Jesus is not a king who won’t deign to tread the humble paths of his servants. Jesus’ hold on his power is not so tenuous that he must zealously hold on to it at all times. For Jesus, power and humility, authority and submission, power and relationship are not at odds.”

        So what about you and what about me? Are we being like Christ in our every-day interactions with people? Are we being humble or are we making ourselves be number one all of the time? Are we more interested in getting our own way or are we more interested in following God’s instructions for our lives?   

To remind us of the vows we took or someone took for us at our baptism, I want to go through them again as they are written in the Book of Worship.

(Read through them.)

May we live out these vows through out our lives! Amen.