Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
May 27, 2012
Worship 10:00 am
Sunday School 11:10am
the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour
out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see
visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
I want to try
something – are you willing to try it with me? Close your eyes.
I want you to think of something you want to do more than
anything else. Everything inside of you gets excited when you
think about it. You can hardly hold still. Now, imagine how you
would feel if you found out that what you are so anxiously
looking forward to doing is just not going to happen. No way. No
how. Open your mouth and let out a sound that expresses how this
No, open your
eyes. Did you hear the sound you just made? It was a cry, a
groan, a sigh. The Bible says that all of creation groaned like
that, waiting for what God was going to do with Jesus and the
Holy Spirit. Everything that God created – nature, animals,
plants, rivers, mountains, sky, rocks – everything groaned, the
Bible says. Why do you think all of “creation” was groaning?
Well, think about the sound you made and why you made it.
Something you wanted more than anything else didn’t happen, and
you groaned. You were sad, maybe angry, frustrated.
God created was frustrated, maybe angry and sad. Creation waited
for Jesus to be on the move and God’s Spirit to blow and people
to become what God created us to be. And waiting is hard. It’s
enough to make you groan. Let’s make that sound again.
Now, I need to
tell you something about groaning. God is at work in our groans
and our sighs and our cries. Did you know that these sounds are
a kind of prayer? The Bible talks about how we don’t always know
how to pray, but God is always praying through us, even in our
groans. It says that God’s Spirit is “interceding” for us with
“sighs too deep for words.” I love that. Even our sighs are
prayers. What does that big word, “interceding” mean? Literally,
it means praying for someone else. But I’d like you to think of
it as “inter-seeding.” What does it mean to “seed” something? It
means to plant a seed. And with good soil, and water, and sun,
the seed sprouts and grows.
I’d like you to
think of prayer as God planting seeds that will grow and become
something wonderful. When we pray for someone, we are planting
God’s seeds, we are “inter-seeding.” And God’s Holy Spirit is
with us all the time planting seeds in our lives, sometimes even
in our groans and cries and sighs, when we don’t know how to
pray or what to pray for.
To help you
remember this, I’ve made up some zip-lock bags of seeds
for you to take with you… I’m glad you came today.
Dedicating our prayer chain
On this Pentecost
Sunday, when we remember and celebrate the first time the Holy
Spirit fired up the church, it is appropriate to dedicate
ourselves anew to the burning task of praying for one another.
We call this “intercessory” prayer. What I just shared with the
children is what I’d also like you to remember. Scripture says
that the prayers of those who have been brought into a right
relationship with God through what Jesus did upon the cross,
that these prayers are powerful and effective.
(James 5:16) But that power is not out own, it is the
wind of God, just like our righteousness is not our own, it is
the grace of God.
When we pray for
others, even when we can’t seem to find the words, and all that
comes from our lips may only be groans or sighs or cries, we are
joining God in planting and nurturing seeds of hope in the lives
of people for whom we pray. To help all of us to remember this,
I ask the ushers now to come forward and help distribute to all
of us one of these zip-lock bags of seeds that I just gave the
children. While they do so, please keep listening.
There is nothing
magic about these seeds you will soon hold in your hands. They
won’t grow overnight into tall stalks upon which you might climb
to heaven. Likewise, prayer is not magic. There are no
“abracadabra” words which transform things in a puff of smoke.
Even though Jesus said, “ask and you shall receive,”
prayer is not an “open sesame” that automatically gains us
immediate access to treasure. It is, however, more like a seed
planted in the soil of our lives which slowly but surely emerges
from the ground and grows. Of course, sudden miracles can
happen, but more often it is the gradual, often imperceptible,
transformation wrought by God that makes prayer powerful and
Funny thing is,
when we pray for another person, growth happens within us. God’s
seed sprouts and rises and we (who bring others to God in
prayer) are changed in the process. Intercessory prayer, thus,
is a joy, not a burden. God is alive and active within, the Holy
Spirit doing its work… Many of us have committed ourselves to
the intercessory prayer ministry of this congregation, which we
call a prayer chain. We get word out to you in one of two ways.
The first and oldest method is by phone, which this year
includes 20 persons or households. The newest means through
which we get the word out is by email, which at present is sent
out to 74 persons or households. 9 of these are also on the
phone chain. If you are not on either list but wish to be
included, all you have to do is tell us.
However, this is
not an exercise in handing out information, simply because
“inquiring minds want to know.” It is not meant for gossip. It
is, instead, a call to prayer. We give out minimum information.
We don’t need to know all the details in order to pray, so don’t
expect nor ask for them. Simply pray, with or without words, and
God’s seed will grow – whether that growth happen in the life of
the person for whom you pray, or in you as the one who prays. To
dedicate, once again, this ministry of the church, please pray
We breathe in your Holy Spirit, O God. You draw us into the work
of your kingdom. You plant concerns upon our hearts where, like
seeds, they germinate and grow. You listen beyond our words, and
hear what you have planted. And the ground changes, little by
little. We believe you are at work in the lives of those for
whom we pray, as surely as you are at work in our lives, and
that seed rises little by little and grows beyond what we can
imagine. Here and now we rededicate ourselves to the task of
intercessory prayer through this chain. But it is you who make
it possible. Yours is the power and the glory, in Christ and the
written closer to the time (if not at the
our Tithes and Offerings
Listen to what the apostle
Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians,
chapter 9, verses 6-12:
Ushers, you earlier
distributed seeds among us,
would you now collect our thanksgiving to God.
may you breathe in the fresh wind of God’s kingdom
that you may share the good news of Jesus;
may you burn with the fire of God’s energizing presence
that you may accomplish more than you imagine
and may God pour his Spirit upon you,
that the seed which God has sown
will rise from the soil and grow in your life,
and in the lives of those around you;
for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.
Interested in Sunday School? Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit.
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International Lesson: Adult
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement"
under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)