@ Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church
8:00 AM & 10:20 AM
Gathering Music “What a Wonderful World”
Scripture Matthew 21:23-32
23When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Sermon “By This Authority”
Thinking about the Text
Sřren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Danish theologian, one day wondered if there is a danger in saying “yes” in too great a hurry, even if it is well meant. This was long before American-style football had ever been played, so Kierkegaard couldn’t ask a husband about the danger of saying “yes” to his wife without following through. If he had, he would have known the answer, and he might have sounded less like a 19th century Danish theologian when he answered the question.
Like all good theologians, Kierkegaard started with a Biblical text, and specifically, our reading for today. He wrote: “Though the yes-brother was not a deceiver when he said ‘Yes,’ he nevertheless became a deceiver when he failed to keep his promise. In his very eagerness in promising he became a deceiver. When you say ‘Yes’ or promise something, you can very easily deceive yourself and others also, as if you had already done what you promised. It is easy to think that by making a promise you have at least done part of what you promised to do, as if the promise itself were something of value. Not at all! In fact, when you do not do what you promise, it is a long way back to the truth.”
That is where the Pharisees found themselves in the time of Jesus. They had said “yes” to God. They had said “yes” to a disciplined spiritual life. They had said “yes” so loud and so long that most people couldn’t hear it as “yes” anymore. When it came to loving God, and loving their neighbors to reveal God’s glory, their “yes” meant nothing. They were a long way from the truth. They were a long way from God. – Nick Campbell, “When Words Mean Nothing”
In unity we lift our song
of grateful adoration
For brothers brave and sisters strong.
What case for celebration.
For those who faithfulness
Has kept us from distress,
Who’ve shared with us our plight
Who’ve held us in the night,
The blessed congregation.
For stories told and told again
To every generation
To give us strength in times of pain
To give us consolation.
Our spirits to revive
To keep our dreams alive
When we are far from home
And evil seasons come
How firm is our foundation.
For sacred scriptures handed down
A blessed trust and treasure
Which give us hope when hope is gone
And make us weep with pleasure.
And when our eyes grow blind
And death is close behind
We shall recite them still
Whose words our hearts can fill
With hope beyond all measure.
For God our way, our bread, our rest,
Of all these gifts the Giver.
Our strength, our guide, our nurturing breast
Whose hand will yet deliver.
Who keeps us till the day
When night shall pass away
When hate and fear are gone
And all our work is done
And we shall sing forever.
FWS 2170 “God Made From One Blood”
God made from one blood all the families of earth
The circles of nurture that raised us from birth
Companions who join us to walk through each stage
Of childhood and youth and adulthood and age.
We turn to you, God, with our thanks and our tears
For all of the families we’ve known through the years
The intimate networks on whom we depend
Of parent and partner and roommate and friend.
We learn through our families how closeness and trust
Increase when our actions are loving and just
Yet families have also distorted their roles
Mistreating their members and bruising their souls.
Give, Lord, to each family in conflict and storm
A sense of your wisdom and grace that transform
Sharp anger to insight which strengthens the heart
And makes clear the place where rebuilding can start.
Then widen that wisdom and grace to include
The races and viewpoints our families exclude
Till peace in each home bears and nurtures the bud
Of peace shared by all you have made from one blood.
UMH 620 “One Bread, One Body”
One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.
Gentile or Jew, servant or free,
Woman or man, no more. (refrain)
Many the gifts, many the works,
One in the Lord of all. (refrain)
Grain for the fields, scattered and grown,
Gathered to one, for all. (refrain)
Hymn “Take Thou Authority”
Take thou authority! The Savior now ascends!
In heaven and earth, receive new birth
On baptized faith depend.
Take thou authority! Disciples you shall make!
The Father, Son, and Spirit, One!
Commanding for God’s sake!
Take thou authority! To love your neighbors well!
To share the love of Christ above,
To save them from their hell!
We take authority! Obedient to Thy will!
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
Until the Age Fulfilled!
The Reverend Cleo Kottwitz, retired pastor of the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church, will portray a Missouri Circuit Rider, the Reverend Jacob Lanius, at our 10:20 service. He will lead worship for the first half-hour in the style of the circuit riders.
The second half-hour will be Announcements, Prayer Requests, Offering (Choir to sing “Uniting Love”), Communion, and the Closing Hymn, “Take Thou Authority” by Pastor Nick.
Help your loved ones be prepared to celebrate your life, when the time comes for you to join the Church Triumphant.
This worksheet can help you organize your thoughts, history, and preferences for your service.
You can download the form, fill it out, and keep a copy where your family can access it,
and you can keep a copy on file in the church office.
If you are interested in reading Dr. Nick’s sermons, go to Sermons Delivered