Archive for June, 2010

Reflections on The Lord’s Prayer – “Hallowed be Thy Name”

What does this mean? It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us. How does this come about? Whenever the Word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, live holy lives according to it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven! However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the Word of God teaches profanes the name of God among us. Preserve us from this, heavenly Father!
Luther, Small Catechism

“Oh Lorrrrrrrrrdd, won’t you buy meeeeee a Mer-ce-des Benz?” Janis Joplin crooned this “prayer” as a mockery of the self-centered desires of the rich and presumably as an indictment of their faith. But the sarcastic lyric begs the question: What are we as Christians, supposed to pray about? For the needs of life, for safety, for happiness? For solutions to the problems of the world? When Jesus prayed, for what did he ask the Father?

Jesus taught his disciples “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?’” (And presumably not, ‘what shall we drive?’). “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:31,33)

Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s victory in the world over the powers of sin, death, and the devil before we ask for anything else. The first three ‘petitions’ of the Lord’s Prayer are really three ways to say the same thing: “Let it happen on earth as it does in heaven.” Hallowed be God’s name…on earth as it is in heaven. God’s kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven. God’s will be done…on earth as it is in heaven.

God’s name is hallowed (or ‘made holy’) whether or not we pray. But we pray that God would work in us and in the world so that we and more and more people might recognize God’s name as holy and treat it as holy. This includes using God’s name in prayer and praise and not as a curse word, but it goes far beyond it as well. We pray that God would reshape our lives so that they might faithfully reflect the love and truth of the God whose name we take upon our lips.

Jesus is the teacher of his prayer, but he is also the fulfillment of his prayer. In his every word and action, he glorified the Father and hallowed his Name (John 12). When we pray in the Spirit to the Father, as adopted brothers and sisters of the Son, we pray for transformation, that we might become more Christ-like, so that God’s name might be hallowed in us more and more each day, as it is in Jesus.

June 29, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Sermon June 27, 2010

Freedom!
You were called to freedom, St. Paul tells the Christians in Galatia,
freedom not to live your own life but freedom to live the life of Christ.
Let yourselves become slaves,
neither to a system of rules and regulations,
nor to a life of unchecked self-indulgence,
but to each other through love.

Continue Reading June 28, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Shepherd of the Streets Summer Appeal

From Morris Smith, Shepherd of the Streets, who through the Shepherd of the Streets Ministry of the United Churches/Lycoming County, does so much for our community. If you can consider giving of your time or money, please do so.

June, 2010

I wish you could spend just one day at Shepherd of the Streets and experience the gambit of emotions that cross our threshold.

• An aunt, battling cancer, finds the four children (ages 4-9) of her niece on her front porch as her neice drives off into the night … no clothing, no toys, no documentation, and in deplorable condition. ~ Direction, Spiritual Support

• A newborn has severe intestinal issues, must go to Geisinger in Danville twice a week for surgeries. The single mother has no money for the gasoline to do this for an undetermined period. ~ Medical Transportation, Hope

• A distressed woman who buried her father and mother within one month receives news that her sister has been discovered murdered in Washington, D.C and needs transportation. ~ Transportation, Spiritual Strength

• A heart-broken mother is told that her son has been shot in Pittsburgh. ~ Bus Fare, Prayer, Consolation

• A panicked grandmother needs a ticket to New York City because her four-year-old granddaughter’s face has been torn off by a pit-bull. ~ Prayer, Bus Fare

• A hopeful man on the kidney transplant list must go to Philadelphia once-a-month for evaluation. ~ Transportation, Spiritual Tenacity

• A depressed grandmother whose cancer has spread to her liver and pancreas. ~ Spiritual Support and Sustaining Love

• A man who lost his job has a heart attack and no resources. ~ Medication

• The uninsured and underinsured who must have life-sustaining medication until they get on a pharmaceutical help list. ~ Medication, Direction

And then there is my own distress when I must say, “Sorry, we have no funds right now.”

We spend around $2,000 per week on medical assistance and $1,000 per month on medical transportation.

Lately we have been taping a sign on the front door, “WE HAVE NO FUNDS FOR PRESCRIPTIONS” which lasts from three days to two weeks. It is the prescription fund that supplies all those emergencies, medicines, medical travel and other medicinal needs.

On top of that is the outlay for documentation, steel-toed boots and other non-skid shoes, basic uniforms for a new job, glasses, dental needs, and other needs for health & safety.

Every summer we face the need for support: this summer, more-so, because of the economic condition of our country.

You might think, “There is so little I can give.” That may be true, but together that little amounts to much, because every single contribution is as important as every single case.

Your gift is put to work right here in Lycoming County, giving compassionate support to around 300 people a month.

If it were not for the love and sacrifice of people like you we could not provide the relief and spiritual support that is given in The Name of Jesus.

Please give as generously as you can to support our Summer Appeal so that we can continue to supply this grace.

On behalf of the people whose lives your gift will touch, thank you.

Gratefully serving Jesus and you,
J. Morris Smith, Th.D.

Please mail, or drop off your contribution to:
United Churches of Lycoming County
Shepherd of the Streets
669 Center Street
Williamsport, PA 17701-4934

You are welcome to visit the office and see what your gift does.

June 24, 2010 at 8:21 am Leave a comment

Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

“Our Father…” When we pray in this way, we do not pray alone, but we pray with the risen Jesus and with all those who are his throughout the world. We confess that before the Father is our Father, he is Jesus’ Father, and that we are adopted sons or daughters, brothers or sisters of Christ by grace. Only Jesus can say “my Father,” but because he loves us, he now prays with us, “Our Father.”

Continue Reading June 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

Sermon – 6/20/10

We will hear a lot about freedom in the next few weeks –
it is coming up on Independence Day after all.
When we think of freedom, we usually think, “We are free to do this or that;
free to worship where we want, live where we want, do what we want;
That’s not the Bible’s conception of freedom at all.
Freedom is not freedom to do what we want –
it is freedom to be who we were created to be.

Continue Reading June 22, 2010 at 9:54 am Leave a comment


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