Guide for Worship
May 10, 2020

Welcome to worship!

On this Mothers Day weekend, we reflect on the ways God has given a transformed identity, a new birth, in the risen Christ.  On Mothers Day, we remember those who gave us physical birth, or welcomed us into a family, or nurtured and nourished us. In worship, we honor the new birth, new faith and new identity given to us by God. 1 Peter 2:20 takes this good news and frames it in the image of living stones, visibly scattered but spiritually drawn together for the true worship of the living God. Wherever you may be, you are welcome as we gather together and offer our worship in gratitude and devotion to the living God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Set down the burden you carry to this time. Suspend your anxieties about the future.  This time is a time dedicated to worship.  Let us fill all of creation with the praises of God today!

Hymn of Assurance

Cornerstone – Anna Moxley

Click on this text to view the lyrics of the hymn and sing along as Anna leads.

 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust is Jesus’ name.

Christ alone, Cornerstone;
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love;
Through the storm
He is Lord,
Lord of all.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
My anchor holds within the veil.

Christ alone, Cornerstone;
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love;
Through the storm
He is Lord,
Lord of all.

He is Lord.
Lord of all!

Christ alone, Cornerstone;
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love;
Through the storm
He is Lord,
Lord of all.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in him be found.
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless, stand before the throne.

Christ alone, Cornerstone;
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love;
Through the storm
He is Lord,
Lord of all.

He is Lord,
Lord of all.

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 2:2-10

Ella Grace Reed, Marley Steis, Wesley Wood and Maddy Taylor

Click on this text to follow today’s Scripture reading as the children lead us.

 

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Meditation

Milk and Mortar – Christopher Ingram

Listen to the sermon using the player above, or click this summary to read the complete text. An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.

 

Can you remember, when our new reality was just descending upon us in mid-March, how we started to set our stay-at-home goals? Early on, physical distancing and stay-at-home felt a little like December 31. I know that I eagerly made some lists of things to do, some home improvement and self-improvement items that the time and space might afford. Now, as the reality of this experience has really settled in, I confess the results are a mixed bag – but I don’t regret making the list. Like most to-do lists, it’s provided a measure of comfort.

Those to-do lists and job descriptions give us structure. They hold us accountable. They let us know whether we’re making progress in daily living or in the workplace. Setting out an agenda, a broad description for this time, has done me more help than harm in the face of so much uncertainty and ambiguity.  Of course, I still find myself doing a lot under the last item on my quarantine job description: Other duties as assigned!

Be that as it may, it helps us understand why 1 Peter begins on a practical note, offering a job description, a to-do list for Christians in exile “scattered throughout the province of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” (1 Peter 1:1) If you look at a map of the ancient world, you can see this stretches far across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Peter is encouraging scattered Christians who are physically distant from one another, some persecuted by the government and their neighbors, and – I can only imagine – feeling the ever-increasing burden of their continued isolation.

A to-do list can be good ministry in the face of all the ambiguity and loneliness of their days. By the beginning of Chapter 2, we read four major agenda items for these Christians in exile. Believers are

1) called to hope (1:13),
2) to be holy (1:15),
3) to be circumspect in their living (1:17), and
4) to love one another deeply (1:22).

Today, at Chapter 2, verse 2, we hear a fifth mandate: to thirst for what will bring about real growth, to desire Jesus himself. In a powerful image this Mothers Days weekend, we read, “Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” What Peter is doing here is using the image of mothers feeding babies to expand on what he already declared a few verses earlier in Chapter 1: “…you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)

Do you see what he’s done there?  Very skillfully, Peter’s moved us from the question of what Christians in isolation can do toward the question of who they are. Alone or together, he reminds them, you are now born again. You are God’s children, and like a baby after physical birth needs mother’s milk, you need your spiritual milk. Scratch below all your hungers, thirsts, anxieties, fears and longings, and you’ll find them to be expressions of your thirst for Christ.  Born again children of God, name your thirst for what it is, and then drink deeply from the nourishment he offers with care and tender, intimate love.

Knowing your true identity is transformative, and it is life-changing when what we do is firmly grounded in who we are. On this Mothers Day weekend, we know how complicated this is. Sometimes we reduce mothers to job descriptions, a never ending list of endless tasks in service of others. It can be deeply discouraging to women who find themselves never living up to the impossible list of expectations as head chef, calendar-keeper, chauffer, personal shopper, counselor, teacher and all the rest. But when we look to someone and say “mom,” are we really talking about the things they do, or are we making a statement about who they are?

My friend Sara was an elementary school teacher for many years. One night in her retirement, as she watched the evening news, she was saddened to see the face of one of her former students from about twenty years before. He had been arrested for murder.  Though she carried herself around in a somewhat rough exterior, Sara was one of those tenderhearted types who would show it marvelous ways. Once, she told me how she found blankets on sale at Rose’s for five dollars each. She bought out the whole store and then drove down Hillsborough Street in Raleigh handing those blankets out to the homeless hidden in plain sight most every day.

But this man was on her heart in a more personal way. She wondered to herself whether there was anyone who would go visit him.  Would there be any family or friend to be present to him in this time of great tribulation?  She applied to visit him in the prison, he accepted, and she began to visit with him.  She soon realized that he was truly without anyone, like Jesus, he was “a stone the builders rejected.” The traditional family had abandoned him, so she set up a routine to visit with him regularly.  Together they talked about the many wrong turns he had taken that led him to the point in his life in which he found himself.  She invited him to pray.  When his sentence of death was handed down, she committed to remain with him while he waited on Death Row. She gave her time and her own self in the long wait for his sentence to be carried out.  Over the course of that relationship, she invited him to follow Jesus, and he became a Christian.

When the time came, of all the people who knew him, of all the people who could claim him as family, as flesh and blood, Sara was the one he requested in the gallery for his last minutes, moments, and breath.  Theirs were lives not biologically connected, but spiritually and mercifully connected. Like the saying goes, his was a life only a mother could love.

Is a mother what she does? Or is the doing grounded and made meaningful in who she is? Who is that person, and who are those people for you? Whoever they may be, remember to thank them this weekend and to thank God for them.

So it is for us, too. Is being the church – a community of Jesus followers – about what we do or who we are? Peter is intent on transforming his scattered flock, not simply by telling them what to do but, more deeply, by reshaping their newborn identity into the image of their Lord. He feeds them milk by talking about bricks and mortar, constructing an image of believers as stones being built into God’s dwelling place.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” Every disciple of Jesus is being made into the image of Christ. All the followers together are being built into God’s temple to offer up “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” True worship doesn’t depend on the space or the particular ritual, as with the temples to various gods spread across the world. Acceptable worship arises household to household, in small communities of Jesus followers scattered about. These individual stones proclaim their love and loyalty to Jesus, and collectively become the materials that build the true temple in this world. Remade in his image, these stones also share the value God has placed on the cornerstone of the true temple. Though he was rejected, the final word over Jesus was not “rejected” but, instead, “chosen.” Believers share in that verdict from God. This is the good news!

In response to the Good News, I’ll ask again: Is being the church – a community of Jesus followers – about what we do or who we are? I believe that our doing is transformed when we understand who we are. We are a growing community alive with Christ, energized to share God’s transforming love. Grounded there, what then might we do? And how might we do it?

Let us dare to find out together. Amen.

Response Through Giving

Holy, Holy, Holy – Nyssa Collins

We encourage you to give your offerings online through Pushpay here, through the Yates app, or by mail (2819 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC, 27707). We are growing into new ways to be the church together and your giving allows us to keep being the church, even in the absence of our physical presence.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14

Spring Mission Offerings

Springtime is a time when the Yates community collects special offerings for local and North American Missions. We encourage you to support this work by sharing among one of these three directions:

  • The CBF Offering for Global Missions and/or Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. (You may select these options if you give online, or include a notation on a memo line if you are mailing a check).
  • The CBF Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund supporting refugee and immigrants in the U.S. who have been hit especially hard by the economic and social impact of Coronavirus precautions. Please note your designation on a check you leave with the church office or give directly on the CERF webpage.
  • Our local partner, Families Moving Forward, which supports homeless families on their journey to safe and sustainable living, has been forced to address many unplanned expenses in the Coronavirus pandemic. Again, please note your designation on a check you leave with the church office or give directly on the FMF webpage.

Response Through Prayer

Annabelle Nunnally, Joyce Camp, Lynn Camp Odom, Laura McGhinnis, Anita Miller and Naomi Miller

Benediction

Receive this Scriptural blessing and strive to live it out this week:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Romans 15:5-6

Blessings as you go into this good day!

Yates Community Connection: College Graduates 2020

Celebrate! Each year around the second weekend of May, college graduates are celebrated for their accomplishments at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This year, they are missing notes of celebration with friends, family and fellow graduates. We want to recognize those within our own fellowship who have reached this milestone, and we celebrate with them. Pray for our 2020 college graduates and for their future endeavors!

 

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 15.

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 22.

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 29.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 5.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 12.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 19.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 26.

Click here to visit the worship experience from May 3.