Immanuel United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sermon Archives 2012

 

Sunday, December 30, 2012  -  First Sunday after Christmas

"Peace of Mind"

  Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

  Peace - not just family harmony when the kids have gotten out of hand after a full day of cousin time.  A different kind of peace--the word of God. Not only political peace. Some states allow capital punishment; in Michigan even if you are as young as 12, if you do an adult crime, you can be charged as an adult.   Some of our legal system is definitely influenced byExodus 21:12-34. Under the law of Moses, this is o.k. Revenge includes an eye for an eye.  Even if someone  is accidentally hurt, the payment is in-kind. Movies portray glory in revenge.   
  But Jesus, by his birth and by his teachings gives us a new law: Love one another.  We get so caught up in what we are doing, we forget to look around for what God is doing in our midst.  Even our own annual conference had a debate about allowing guns to be in the sanctuary...could the "trained" gun user in the form of the pastor or someone else up front fire a gun at someone who comes into the church intent on shooting innocent people?  More likely that in the attempt, an innocent would be shot by the pastor! 
  There is a better way! Walk with Jesus!  Read Matthew 5:38-42.  This is in direct contradiction to society today.  But we are called to be a humble servant. If someone harmed one of our own children, or a child in our care, we might seek revenge.  It would be in our heart--but that doesn't mean it is right.  Forgiveness might not seem possible.  Jesus told us how much to forgive: 70 x 7! (Matthew 18:21) How do we transform to a forgiving people? We cannot have significant change without revolution!  Blood and loss are part of it--but could change be done without peace?  Injustice was fought with love. Rev Dr Martin Luther King used principles in the civil rights movement that were from Jesus Christ!   
  In recent times, South Africa overcame outright hateful and deceitful apartheid.  With Nelson Mandella in power, he could have oppressed his former oppressors.  Instead they had reconciliation trials.  They asked witnesses and defendants to admit the truth of what had happened- and there were on atrocities on both sides - and then they offered forgiveness. Do we have enough peace in our hearts to offer forgiveness?  How do we forgive those who have harmed us, who have tried to kill us? 
  The Rev Al Sharpton shared this story:  a young white man stabbed him, was caught and was on trial.  Rev Sharpton wanted revenge, but he recognized the conflict within.  He spoke to his mother, he said he was unhappy about what he was feeling, but he felt the criminal needed to be punished.His mother asked, What would Martin Luther King Jr do?   The man was found guilty at trial and Rev Sharpton stood up and asked the judge for leniency.  The judge was not lenient.  Sometime later, Rev Sharpton received a letter from the young man. He told him no one had ever stood for him before, his parents had not, and his life was a mess. But because Rev Sharpton stood up for him, he saw that his life had worth.  He recognized he may never be forgiven, but he was still thankful!   This was the power of Forgiveness! 
  In Luke 19:37-44, as Jesus enters the City, he is called the Prince of Peace, but the people then were not hoping for peace- they were hoping for a revolution--the oppression of the Roman empire to be brought down.  But Jesus brought Love and Sacrifice.  He gave his life for us.  The word of God is Saving! 
  Pastor shared the story-line of the Clint Eastwood movie, Grand Torino, as a metaphor for violence begetting violence, where revenge and avenging keeps the conflict escalating.  At the end, the main character sacrifices himself for the sake of the family.   
  Violence begets violence.  What changes things? Sacrifice! Peace! Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so we can life eternal.  
New Testament Reading:   Colossians 3: 12-17
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012  -  Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The Greatest Gift of All"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Today’s message focused on Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth and Zecharia.  Mary was a teenage Mom.  Today, there are teen-age Moms who re judged. Can we imagine what Mary faced 2000 years ago?  Mary was a child of God herself, so she should not be judged.  But even today, the young woman would be judged because she doesn’t have a ring on her finger.  And, she is carrying a beautiful child of God!Pastor shared that his daughter’s mom was judged. People they worked with knew he was dating, he was the father, and knew he didn’t step up. Yet who was judged more harshly? Imagine 2000 years ago- a woman carrying a baby.  Imagine the talk show where the parade out the baby’s father and do the DNA test. What would we do when the DNA was the DNA of Everyone? We always look down on the woman. What is going on in that family? Where are the men?  What pressure is there from other family members? 

Read  Luke 1: 26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”  38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
 
Mary didn’t think about others. She didn’t question the angels!  Then Joseph was going to quietly walk away. 
 
Read  Matthew 1: 18-24
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,    and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;  and he named him Jesus.
 
Of course, it is still not o.k. today.  And it should never happen….but Pastor reminded us he was never seen a grandparent not love a baby, a precious child of God. How about Elizabeth and Zecharia?  Elizabeth was much older and had given up on having children. When the angel told Zecharia, he did not believe and he asked questions.  Why was he made mute? Because he didn’t believe or because he questioned God?  Elizabeth was given the same message and she believed and did not question it!  When Mary went to visit Elizabeth-an arduous trip in her condition, Elizabeth greeted her with joy and exclaimed that the baby she carried jumped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice - Elizabeth knew that she had been blessed. Generation after generation do indeed call Mary blessed.  What if each pregnant woman, including the teen-age moms, the unwed moms were greeted as though they carried Jesus? We don’t know how he will come into this world. Will we be ready? Will we believe? And even if she isn’t carrying Jesus, isn’t she carrying a wonderful child of God?
New Testament Reading:   Luke 1: 35-49
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012  -  Third Sunday of Advent

"Where is the Light?"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

A special service held to honor and pray those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

  What were you doing when you heard about Newtown, CT?  Pastor was working on a computer, but soon would be picking up his son. When he did, he held him just a little bit closer.  He was grieving for other people’s children. But he was also grieving for the families. 
  He received an email message from our District Superintendent and from our Bishop.  The District Superintendent reminded us to pray for everyone, and the Bishop reminded us that the darkness is no match for the light.    
The Bishop’s message can be read at: http://detroitconference.org/news/detail/782.
By definition, darkness is the absence of light.  But there was light—the ones who protected the children.  This is the light we must focus on.  Men and women rushed in, some without their gear. 
  We can be sure the children are with God, but we mourn for the parents and the community.  And we need to celebrate the lives and the light of each child.  Darkness cannot stand the Light—even when it is itch-black out, if you wait you will be able to see, perhaps from the Moon or the stars, but you will detect the Light. So it is with these events, we must see the light as it is there. 
John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
2 He was in the beginning with God.   3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being   4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
  Jesus is the Light.  Local churches in Newton were open for prayer. The Light guides us. People guide us in difficult times---some body brought light to us in difficult time—you are the light for someone else.  Perhaps you shared a kind word, a hug, or even a needed “kick in the behind” to help someone get on track.  You might not know it, but you are the light for someone! 
John 14:12-14
 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
  If you believe—you have the ability to heal, to raise the dead - the word says you can. Jesus raised Lazarus….o.k. maybe you cannot do that but you can do something.  Pastor shared the story of someone going to the self check-out, her bill was around $30 and it didn’t charge her anything. When she went to the service desk, the staff told her, “Oh we have a Good Samaritan who comes in periodically and pays $200 so a few people get free food.  We don’t know who it is. 
  Did you help someone?  Don’t be afraid to help someone!  Sometimes we see darkness and we close our eyes and it is always dark—Open your eyes!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel—it is Jesus!  The children are with God, they sit at the right hand of God.  How do we know this? 
Mark 10 13-16
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.  14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”  16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Today, during Children’s time, Pastor pretended he didn’t know what Christmas was all about. The kids know-they corrected him.  They always know! 
Pastor read the names of the victims from Newtown CT, and the congregation lit candles for each one.  We concluded the service with singing Amazing Grace and Let There Be Peace on Earth.
How will you be the Light of Christ visible in the world?
New Testament Reading:   John 8:12
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012  -  Second Sunday of Advent

"What Have You Done 
for Me Lately?"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

 
Pastor’s alter-ego A. Lorenzo Rush had the “Praise the Lord” Game Show!  The scripture focused on Lydia. Did you know she was the first convert in Europe—they were in Greece? And she was the first female evangelist, because she went and got her family to join her!  He invited us to share our witness of what God has done for us in the last year. 
 April shared her witness:  She is blessed with talent and is an artist and a web designer.  She has embarked on her own business, but that makes money tight. She is able to donate her time and talents to the church.  She called it the snowball effect.  If she invites one - they will invite others.  If she gives out Candy at Trunk or Treat, a child may return to attend Sunday School, if she face paints at the Gratiot Cruise, a child may join in Vacation Bible School.        Linda: thank you to the MCREST team that allows us to serve others 
 Sandy: thank you to the Praise Band, the Pastor, and those who serve Immanuel 
 Kathy: thank you for all the prayers—first for adoption to go through, and then for a healthy birth—prayers are answered. 
Praise God for what he has done for us, we need to do this and to do more!  For example, because off the Pancake Breakfast, a young man approached Pastor and wants to be baptized…because we fed him!  Thank God for what he has done and given for us.  When Jesus rode into town on the donkey, the people were yelling Hosanna, and the apostles wanted them to be quiet. Jesus told them, “even the stones will cry out” If we can’t do it all- we can do something.  Give of our time.  We have wonderful committees who serve the church and get work done.  It all means nothing if people walk in and don’t see Christ.  Christ lives through us!  We have a budget of $159,000. Why can’t we have a budget of twice that? Last week kids from the Gaylord youth group were visiting, they were in our Community helping out. Why can’t we send a group of kids up to Gaylord to work in that community? Janet Jackson used to have a song “What have you done for me lately?”  The question is: What have you done for God lately?  No matter how down you may be, You woke up this morning. You woke up this morning. You woke up this morning!  God gave us Power every day – another chance to be closer to God.  He always loved you, he always loves you. The key is: We have to love Him. It is not about what you do, acknowledge what God has done! He gave us Jesus for the sins we don’t even know we will commit! 
Be mindful of that and give some back!
New Testament Reading:   Acts 16: 13-15
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012  -  First Sunday of Advent

"Are You Ready?"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

  The Boy Scout and Girl Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”.  It is about being ready for anything, having training in a variety of skills to be put to use.  Pastor shared a story of a time when he thought he was prepared—if there would be a hold—up at the fast food store, he would know what to do. Of course, when actually faced with the gun, all of the information in his head disappeared in the moment of fear.  “Be Prepared’ is human thing.  “Are you Ready?” is a God thing.  The scripture today talks about Jesus coming—the world will be in chaos, but what about you?  Will you be ready when the time comes? 
The church has a finance committee who meet to talk about banners/slogans/different ways to say “We need more money.”  The reality is that we do need more money.  But God wants more than more money…he wants all. There are different ways to give and to be committed.  In the Hymnal on page 38 is the order of worship for baptism. We read the pledge together out loud.  God asks for our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. When Pastor first came to our church, many people told him the congregation is ready for change. Are we?  How do we change our giving? 
  • Prayers:  More often; learn a new scripture; read the Bible; borrow the free daily devotionals.
  • Presence: Being available for God; yourself, and your family. We don’t want you coming to church all the time at the expense of your family-maybe you need to make time for them, too.  Listening to your kids is so important.  So, yes, come to church when you can, agree to serve when you can, and stretch but do not over-extend.
  • Gifts: Yes, money. But time also.  At the charge conference last week, many people took on new roles, even with a lot of insecurity-we don’t know what the future looks like.  We will do some new things next year. God has plans for us!  There are other committees that will be formed for short-term work.  And there are several excellent committees already who have been excellent stewards of our resources. But the fact is, the budget is smaller next year. Yet, we want to do more!  Can you pledge if you never have? Or pledge a dollar more per week? Or even a quarter more per week?
  • Service: give time to church, but give to others in all ways—at work, at school, in your community. How can you help others? Are you ready?
  • Witness: Talk about God and share with others what God has done for you-everywhere. At work, at the bar, everywhere. God will challenge you to do this at the right time. When he calls, will you be ready?
Plan to commit more. This is not a contract, just try.  What does it take to read a Bible verse daily?  The consecration service we will have is about moving you to another level.   When we reflect on the Bible verse from today, the Israelites knew the King of Kings was coming-they wanted release from slavery, but Jesus wanted to give more-to give us the opportunity to go to him.  Trust in God, he will guide you when you are not sure.  Think about Pastor, he had fear about leaving his old job, security, salary, everything to embark on this calling. He was afraid we wouldn’t like him.  Certainly he had to learn to budget on a much smaller salary-but he has stepped it up and is doing well. What are we afraid of? Can we step up? Jesus teaches that God will love us regardless. When you are ready to step up, God will continue to love you.  Jesus knows your heart! 
Are you ready now?
New Testament Reading:   Luke 21: 25-36
 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Facts vs. Truth"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

  There are facts. Then there is the Truth.  There is one universal truth: Jesus died so we could have life eternal.  This makes us face facts-we don’t know everything from Jesus’s time. Pilate wanted to get the facts. Jesus seemed to speak in riddles. Pilate was trying not to be involved. He thought he would send Jesus away—and put him against a common thief, expecting the crowd to release Jesus. The truth is the death of Jesus was ordained-he had to go to the cross for us.  As we continue to sin, we send Jesus to the cross. Because of the death and the resurrection, we have eternal life.  
  Society wants facts and figures. With the recent election, people expected miracles—the President is just a man. When we got a new Pastor, people’s expectations are high. But the Pastor cannot do it all. Everyone has to make a difference- we follow faith, not figures. We pray on it. We think about a new tutoring program, even without a budget, because it is needed; then a call comes from MSU to offer tutoring.  Pastors don’t fail churches all by themselves, overnight.  The truth may be, “What is it that the Pastor did not do?” 
  ½% of Americans serve in the Armed Forces; only 5% of those see combat-putting their lives at stake for us.  We don’t see the truth when the media skews it.  We don’t see the costs.  Economists will say the war helps turn around the economy. The US was its most prolific after WWII.  Pastor shared a story about a job he had, where he was directly asked, “Can you live with the fact that we build things that kill people?” But he chose to focus on the fact that they build things to protect our soldiers.  The soldiers do it for America. It is a huge burden they take on for us.  The truth is we ned to honor them. When they come home, the VA hospitals should be the best. But when the defense budget gets cut when the soldiers come home, they lose out. What was the item you couldn’t deal with? Where the facts were so bad you couldn’t do it? Someone stepped in – with transportation, or a job offer or a meal—that someone was Jesus.  Read John 14:1-4. Trust.  Jesus was talking to the disciples-but really he was talking to us. You know how to get there and if you do not know, Jesus will show you.  He said he is the way, the truth, the light. He is walking the walk and talking the talk-he is giving it all for us! 
  If you believe, there is much to do!  Anyone who believes will do the work of the son. If you believe, you have the power to do what has to be done. You can bring people to the throne! You are the only Jesus some people will ever see! You can help someone rise above!  
Don’t listen to the facts-listen to the truth!
New Testament Reading:   John 18: 33-37
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

How does the story of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving represent the gospel?
First, remember the story:  Charlie Brown gets a call from Peppermint Patty, who invites herself to his house for Thanksgiving.  Snoopy gets right to work setting a beautiful table and making what they have!  Popcorn, pretzels and jelly beans!  When everyone shows up for dinner, Peppermint Patty is less than gracious and yells at Charlie Brown-who walks away.  Peppermint Patty realizes she made a mistake and asks Marci to fix it.  Charlie Brown's grandmother calls and when he explains that he has company and they need a Thanksgiving dinner, she invites everyone over.  The original phone call to Charlie Brown represents the expectations of others.  Charlie Brown wasn't prepared, but he said yes. (Like the story of Jesus and the fish and loaves?)
Peppermint Patty represents all of us--we forget how blessed we are.  We force our way into situations and then forget to say thank you.  Patty didn't bring anything to the meal.  We are like this. We want "XX" to happen at church, but when the plate comes by, we don't give.  Or when the call for volunteers goes out, we don't raise our hand.  How do we ask for forgiveness?  Once we acknowledge the gifts from God, something wonderful happens!  God knows us by name! He knows Charlie Brown isn't Charlie, or Chuck, he is Charles and he calls him by name!  When Grandma called-is she like God?  Did she open the doors and invite everyone in?  God says he will give us everything.  He is awesome and worthy to be praised! 
He sees past all of this, he knows us--and we know his name: Immanuel: God with us!  
New Testament Reading:   Ephesians 1: 15-22
 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Am I Good Enough?"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Today's Bible verse from Mark 12:38-44 reminds us that the young widow who gave a few coins in offering was rich in spirit. 
Am I good enough to meet the expectations of family, friends, or even myself?  There are a lot of things operating in this world that make us wonder. Our high-level elected officials have to have money--anything above a local school board or city government and we start to wonder, am I good enough?  Our church has seen several pastors in the last ten years. Why don't pastors like us? Are we good enough? 
Of course, we are good enough!  God Loves US! We don't have to prove anything. We are each special and unique and God has blessed us with skills and talents.  Some churches/congregations only look at how much each person gives in the offering plate or for special offerings/  They don't acknowledge other gifts. 
At family gatherings and meetings, a Pastor is often called upon to offer prayer.  Why can't someone else pray? If a little child offers a brief, but heartfelt,Thanksgiving prayer, "Dear God thank you for this food, let's eat" Isn't that good enough?  God hears!  If it isn't "good enough" for the humans in the room, it is still good in God's eyes. 
Our race to be the best sometimes  gets in the way of our efforts to do the best.  Since when is third place not good?  Since when is doing our best to be frowned upon?  Jesus didn't die for us to be the best or only for the number one - he loves us, regardless.  It is about us being good enough to be stronger. In John 8, an adulterer is brought out to be stoned, and Jesus admonishes, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."  Everyone sets the stones down.  Jesus death gives redemption to all!  Jesus makes us good enough!
New Testament Reading:   Mark 12: 38 - 44
 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Why?"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

 Why do we do the things that we do?  
Three reasons why we do things in the church: Ritual, Traditional, Spiritual.
The spirit makes you do something, feel something, be a part of something….tradition is what you have been taught to do, that we do all the time; ritual is the guidelines of the way we have been doing things; but if you don’t have spirit it all will mean nothing….holding the baby today and baptizing the baby today has to have spirit.  It’s not the words, it’s not the motions-it is the promise made for and with this child.
It is not about what you do or hear, it is about what you feel.  It is not about the robe, or the ritual, it is about the words and the spirit ringing in your heart. If what is said moves you, then it is about what God is saying to us. 
We have communion on the first Sunday of each month….some people commented on the wafer and the change of cup….more comments were focused on the ritual-not the meaning!  What if we do Communion on third Sunday or fifth Sunday?  Or at a wedding ceremony? Really- we get caught up in the when instead of the why.
Read Luke 22:14-19
We go through the motions but we forget the why—this is the body of Jesus Christ—it doesn’t matter if it is a cracker or pita bread or stale bread.  At his last meal he told them he would die for You.  Once he was turned in, it wasn’t humane. He was beaten on our behalf.  We had a choice, the people had a choice, and they chose a popular thief.  They nailed him to the cross, and they pierced his side. When Pastor holds up the bread—this is Jesus taking the beating for us. The juice is the blood poured from his side. When you take a part, you are taking a part of Jesus.  When you dip in the chalice you are soaking up the blood and you are taking Jesus inside of you.  It isn’t about the ritual-it is about what you believe it is.
What has God done for you?  He did it for you to have the opportunity to follow him. There is no guarantee. You have a choice.  You can choose to come to church on Sunday, you can follow him, you can be saved, you can be part of the kingdom.
We ring a bell for those who have passed, and we light a candle for them. We know they are in a better place. We do it in remembrance of them It is not just a ritual. It is about the spirit and feeling the people who have passed – we remember that. It is about what we feel inside. IF it is just about the tradition, it has no merit.
It’s Sunday, you are in church. How do you feel? It is about the spirit in your heart and your mind.  Immanuel is 162 years old—if we are only here to make another 162 years but no feelings-then we need to close.  If you come to church just because of tradition, and you are not feeling fed, you are not here for the right reasons. Your soul, your spirit is more important than ritual and tradition.  Our tradition allows us to say we are part of this community, but the missions we carry on like the bears and the food pantry—if there is a spirit, then we do the work of the Lord and others feel the joy.
If someone does something because they had to vs because they want to – do you feel the difference?  If someone asks you, “Why do you go to Immanuel?” Is your answer because my grandfather and my father went here, think.  Is it because you are fed?
“Why do we have communion?” Not, because it’s the first Sunday—it’s a remembrance of the breaking for the body and the pouring of the blood—it isn’t about what we are supposed to do, it is about the feeling you get when you are reminded of God’s love for you.
New Testament Reading:   Hebrews 9: 11 - 14
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Just Ask Me"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Have you noticed that the politicians often say they know what we need and give us what they think we need-but they never ask, “What do you want?” Sometimes throwing a few dollars at a problem is easier than looking around for real solutions.  In the Bible passage today, the Blind beggar, Bartimaeus, calls out, “Jesus, have mercy on me!”  Although others try to stop and silence Bartimaeus, Jesus simply asks what he wants.  Jesus doesn’t assume, he asks. Sometimes a Pastor will make that error. He or she will come in and say, “You know what this place needs, “XX”!  But even the Pastor needs to stop and ask the people. We spend time, money, and effort on the assumed fix, but a wiser investment would be to first ask, “What do you need?”  Sometimes the needed fix is simple, but sometimes it is difficult.
 
Sometimes we are willing to put in the effort to make the change, and sometimes not!  Pastor used the example of churches saying they need young people, but refusing to change things from the ‘way we’ve always done it’. We need to do what we do best. We have two services in different styles to serve people who are trying to reach God, and to meet them where they are.  The “statistics” say a certain demographic should prefer our first service, which is more traditional, while a different demographic would prefer the second, contemporary service. 
Yet both of our services have a mixture of all ages! We meet people where they are and we minister to them with what they need. The best way to do this is to listen to each other. 

Jesus assured us that if we believe in him, we can do anything.  God has given us a task to witness and serve in our communities.  We don’t have time to make wrong assumptions – we have work to do! How much further can Immanuel go if we ask everyone, if we empower everyone? What can you do for God today?
New Testament Reading:   Mark 10: 46 - 52

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"A Royal Priesthood"

Presented by 
Lay Reader Heather Nowak

Today's message was delivered by Heather Nowak.  Heather Nowak is an active member of Immanuel with a plan to enter into United Methodist ministry in the future. With Pastor Rush's urging, Heather enrolled in the course as a certified UM Lay Speaker and graduates next week!  Congratulations Heather, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us today.
Heather's message today focused on the shared work of the laity and the pastor. Whatever you do in word or deed, do it for God's glory.  In the Book of Numbers, only the priests had access to the holiest places of worship.  And the priesthood was limited to a very small segment of men, without disability or disease, age 25-50, from the house of Levi.  This limited access to the temple as well as to God's message.Under the new covenant of Jesus Christ, everyone is invited into ministry and entrusted to declare God's good works. We have full access and we can represent Christ to everyone. We are not spectators, and we work together, united for a common goal- to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. 
The Holy spirit works within each of us and allows all believers to bring the message to others.  In Joel 2:28:
   “And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
    your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions."

We, the people of God, are a Royal Priesthood, who must convince the world of the message of the Gospel.  Laity and Clergy together, using our unique gifts have the ability to reach others and to touch others.  We all must be prepared to , so think about these questions:  
Why are you so hopeful?  How do you smile in the face off your circumstances?  Our answers must include the hope you have in Jesus Christ.  Prepare to share your message!
Old Testament Reading: Joel 2: 28 - 29 
New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 2: 9 - 10

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"All or Nothing"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Do you put your whole heart into the work of God?  Jesus said give your all, then follow me and you will have treasures in heaven.  Sometimes we only hear the give part as "give up something", we don't perceive the real riches -- we are too tied to the earthly riches and afraid to give them up.... Jesus told us: Anything is possible with God and The Last shall be First. When we give up the supposed riches of this world, we are given so much more - new friends, new family and a new world.  You cannot put money and possessions first, you must put God's good works first.  God wants it all.  Did you know that God also wants our worries?    Do not let your worries get in the way of your joys; let God have them.  Why are you holding on to them?  At the end of the sermon, Pastor had everyone write their worries on a piece of paper and turn them in. We prayed over them. Then we threw them away - they are nothing! Let God have them - let God handle them!  Give God your all.
New Testament Reading:   Mark 10: 17 - 21

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Back to the Future!"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Old Testament Reading:   1 Kings 17: 7 - 16

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Taste Test"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

Did you hear about Pastor Rush's pancakes?  He knows the recipe by heart, and it's not a box mix!  He knows God has a recipe for us, too....we are to be the salt 
in the recipe, to add flavor and vitality to the work God has put before us.  
By attending church to worship and to work, we are reminded that God has plans for us.  It doesn't mean there won't be bad times, but you can smile through them because our Lord and Savior is watching over us.  We sometimes get down thinking about what we don't have, instead of focusing on what we do have.  In this country, we are blessed to be able to worship when we want, that even the poorest of the poor can be educated for free, that we have running water....
You need to come to the cross, there is a cost, it won't be easy.  But if you love and trust in The Lord, he will not forsake you.  He may test your commitment, but if you are truly doing God's work, your love will be the salt in the recipe...others will taste God's love.
New Testament Reading:   Mark 9: 50 and Luke 14: 25-35

Sunday, September 23, 2012


"Jesus Needs Our Help!"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching
 

Pastor admitted it was "Use it or Lost it" Part 2, a continuation of the weeks message before.... Read Matthew 25:34-46...what you do for the "least of these" you do for Jesus. Think about your motivation.  

Are you helping because you think you are "better"?  Did you do it to to feel better about yourself or did you do it to truly help someone else?  When you lift up someone else it can be awesome and powerful and  transforming--for you and for them!  It is not about you -- it is about the Lord!  

What can you do today to empower and lift up someone else?
New Testament Reading:   Matthew 25: 34-46
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


"Use It or Lose It!"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching
 

The parable of the talents. What is your talent? Do you have time, opportunities, or money to share with your church family?  Remember what we put in, we will get out.  God has invested in you, what will you do with that investment? Take a risk for God's work, he will strengthen your talents.  Don't hide your talent - invest it in people and in positive situations. What will God do with it?
 
Someone else's talents may have helped you to grow--what can your talent do for someone else?  You can make it a difference in your church.  New ideas will be brought forth - but we need you. We need your ideas as well as your willingness to execute the ideas of others. 
 
We know a God who can do ANYTHING!  Amazement of the works will overflow--and you can help!
New Testament Reading:   Matthew 25: 14-28
 



Sunday, September 9, 2012


"Faith that Really Works!"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

New Testament Reading:   James 2: 14 - 17
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012


"Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones,
  but Words will Always Hurt Me!"

Pastor Albert Rush Preaching

New Testament Reading:   James  1:17-27
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


"How Will We Know It When We See It?"

Carl Gladstone Preaching

New Testament Reading:   Revelation 21: 3-5


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June 24, 2012 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Mark 4: 35-41

 

 

June 17, 2012 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Mark 4: 26-34

 

 June 10, 2012 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 11: 17-44

 

 

June 3, 2012 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Romans 8: 12-17



 

May 27, 2012 - Pentecost 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Acts 2: 1-24


 

May 20, 2012 - Sixth Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 17: 6-19

 

 May 13, 2012 - Sixth Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 15: 9-17

 

 

May 6, 2012 - Fifth Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 15: 1-8

 

   April 29, 2012 - Fourth Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 10: 14-16

 

   

April 22, 2012 - Third Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Luke 24: 36b-48

 

  

April 15, 2012 - Second Sunday of Easter 

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  John 20:19-31

 

 

April 1, 2012 – Easter Sunday

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Mark 16:1-8

 

 

April 5, 2012 – Maundy Thursday

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Exodus 12:1-4, 11-18

New Testament Reading:  John 13:1-17, 33-35

 

 

April 1, 2012 – Palm/Passion Sunday

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Mark 11:7-11

New Testament Reading:  Philippians 2:5-11

 

 

March 25, 2012 – Fifth Sunday in Lent

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Leviticus 27:30-34

New Testament Reading:  Luke 10:25-28

 

 

March 18, 2012 – Fourth Sunday in Lent

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Isaiah 40:27-31

New Testament Reading:  Luke 10:25-28

 

 

March 11, 2012 – Third Sunday in Lent

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Isaiah 62:4-5

New Testament Reading:  Luke 10:25-28

 

 

March 4, 2012 – Second Sunday in Lent

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Genesis 4:1-7

New Testament Reading:  Luke 10:25-28

 

 

February 26, 2012 – First Sunday in Lent

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

Old Testament Reading:  Genesis 9:8-17

New Testament Reading:  I Peter 3:18-22

 

 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Readings:  Mark 9: 2-9 and II Corinthians 4: 3-6

 

 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  2 Kings 5:1-14

 

 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  Mark 1: 29-39

 


Sunday, January 29, 2012

 

"All or Nothing"

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching 

New Testament Reading:  Luke 4: 21-30

 

 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

 

"It's Just Not the Same"   

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading:  I Corinthians 12: 12-31

 

 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

 

"Loved the Wedding...."

Rev. Carol Floyd -  preaching

New Testament Reading: John 2: 1-11