May 24 Online Service

Oconee Street UMC Online Service
May 24, 2020

Prelude

“Hyfrydol”
Performed by Carisa Elam, keyboard and guitar

Welcome

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Special Recognition

Recognition of 2020 UGA graduate and OSUMC choir member Thomas Dobbins

Recognition of 2020 Graduates

A special tribute video recognizing all academic year high school and college and graduates of Oconee Street UMC and U-Lead Athens.

Invocation

Carter Vest

Opening Hymn: “Rejoice, the Lord is King!”

“Rejoice, the Lord is King”
Performed by Grace Community Church congregation (Sun Valley, California)

Scripture Reading, Ephesians 1:15-23

Carter Vest

Gospel Reading, Luke 24:44-53

The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Anthem: Psalm 150

Psalm 150, arr. Nathan Carter
Performed by Oakwood University Aeolians & Orchestra
“Praise ye the Lord. 
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Sermon: Darth Vader vs. Jesus

The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Carter Vest

Closing Hymn: Crown Him With Many Crowns

“Crown Him With Many Crowns”
Performed by Westminster Abbey congregation

Benediction

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Postlude

“Hyfrydol”
Performed by Molly Stanley, violin

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Service: March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020 • Fourth Sunday of Lent

Godly Play:

Welcome:

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Invocation:

Read by Joe Dennis

The journey to Good Friday is fraught with danger;
The road to Jerusalem is difficult indeed. 
Be among us, as we enter this story together
Help us to faithfully follow the rugged path that takes us home.

Opening Hymn: “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”

Psalter: Psalm 32

Read by Joe Dennis

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. 
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
Sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Presentation of the Gospel: Luke 15: 1-3; 11b-32

Sermon: “Dangerously Angry”

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Anthem: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

Closing Hymn: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Performed by The Choral Arts Society of Washington Chamber Singers

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down:
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest:
take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be:
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
’til in heav’n we take our place,
’til we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Benediction / Homework:

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Service: March 15, 2020

March 15, 2020 • Third Sunday of Lent

Invocation:
The journey to Good Friday is fraught with danger;
The road to Jerusalem is difficult indeed.
Be among us, as we enter this story together
Help us to faithfully follow the rugged path that takes us home.

Opening Hymn: Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy

Performed by Fernando Ortego featuring Amy Grant

Psalter: Psalm 68: 1-8

May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
    may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
    as wax melts before the fire,
    may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds[b];
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,[c]
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

When you, God, went out before your people,
    when you marched through the wilderness,[d]
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
    before God, the One of Sinai,
    before God, the God of Israel.

Presentation of the Gospel: Luke 13: 1-9

Presentation of the Gospel: Luke 13: 1-9

Sermon: “Dangerous Decision”

The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Choral Response: “Just as I Am”

Performed by Alan Jackson

Just as I am without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot.
To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many conflicts, many doubts,
Fighting fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am, poor wretched, blind,
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea all I need in thee I find,
O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come!

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

Closing Hymn: “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love”

Performed by Carolyn Arends

Benediction (and homework):

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Sermon: Dangerously Tempting

When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he could’ve easily given into the temptation. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was famished. The devil offered him everything, from food to power to glory, and even used words from the Bible to reinforce his point. In the end, Jesus did not give into the temptation.

We are tempted by “the devil” many times in our life. Our belief in the literal interpretation of “the devil” does not matter. We are all faced with key decisions in which we can ignore God’s call for us and focus on the tempting forces of selfishness, greed and power. Are we going to give into the temptation? Or are we going to walk the path of Jesus and make decisions based on what is good for all God’s people?

Sermon: “Dangerously Tempting” by The Rev. Elaine Puckett

“Dangerously Tempting”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 4:1-13
March 1, 2020 • First Sunday of Lent

Sermon: The Servant Church

“Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.” On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of church are we going to be?”

“The Servant Church” • Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
”Ain’t Got Time to Die” • Chancel Choir
Words and Music by Hall Johnson

“The Servant Church”
Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
Isaiah 49:1-7
January 19, 2020

”Ain’t Got Time to Die”
Words and music by Hall Johnson
Performed by the Chancel Choir, directed by JD Burnett
Soloist: Amanda Martin

Advent Devotional: Dec. 25, 2019

The Word Became Flesh

by Richard Puckett
December 25, 2019

Read John 1:1-18

John 1:14 — “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory as a parent’s only child, full of grace and truth.”

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Have you ever gazed at a newborn baby and thought about the life to come?  When the baby’s eyes have focused and can begin to see things in the world around them, have you ever wondered what it sees and what it feels?  Have you ever held a very young baby in your arms and imagined all of the possibilities that life holds for that particular child? If you and I had been able to be there and to look at the newborn Jesus on that winter’s morning could we have imagined what was to come?  Could we have imagined how the world would be changed through the life of that baby?

How could we have imagined the power and truth of that life?  How could we have foreseen the grace and healing that filled the world because of that child?  How could we have known the hope and vision and strength that would be given to generations of believers who have hungered and worked for a world of peace and love?

Well, the simple answer is that, no, we couldn’t have foreseen any of these things as we gazed upon the newborn baby lying in a stable on a winter’s night in Bethlehem.  On that night, we couldn’t have envisioned those things any more that we can see the path to a world of peace and love and justice and righteousness in our own day. And yet, in the life of that Christ Child, grace and love did come into the world in a new way.  God’s power and truth did speak a new word with authority into a world of violence and hate. And on this Christmas morning in 2019, in a world filled with too much violence and hate, the birth of the Christ Child bears witness that justice and righteousness and love and peace CAN live in this world, and not only live, but prevail.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory as a parent’s only child, full of grace and truth.”  God came down at Christmas, as a model for a faithful life and as a promise that all will be well in the end. Have faith in that promise, live a faithful life, and tell the story well!

Jesus Christ is born today!  

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you that you gave us a living example in Jesus, of your will and way in the world, a way of grace and truth and love and kindness. Thank you for showing us in his life, death and resurrection, that no matter how dark the time, all will be well in the end. Help us to believe and to trust and to follow you, to do justice and righteousness, and to love mercy and kindness.    Help us to dwell in your promise and in your peace, this day and every day. In the name of Jesus the Christ we live and pray. Amen.

Advent Devotional: Dec. 3, 2019

Look Towards ‘Poor Little Jesus’

by Katie Greenwood
December 3, 2019

Isaiah 8:11-17; 9:1-7
“The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary, but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” Isaiah 8:13-14a

My first deep encounter with the season of Advent came in 2007, when Bryson and I were living at Jubilee Partners as an engaged couple. Jubilee is a Christian community just down the road in Comer, Georgia, on a rural campus of almost 300 acres. For the past 40 years, Jubilee’s primary work has been to receive newly-immigrated refugees and accompany them in the first steps of their transition to permanent resettlement in the United States. Staff at Jubilee commit to (trying to) live, work, and worship together in the spirit of the early Church, and share chores, prayer time, and meals together 5-6 days a week.

During Advent at Jubilee, everyone gathers at 6:15 for a brief pause before community dinner. We sit in the main community building that doubles as cafeteria and worship hall, and form a semicircle around the Advent wreath and crèche. We take turns leading the group in two Advent carols, then read a short excerpt from the Messianic prophecies. At that point, all lights in the room are extinguished and we wait, in the darkness, in silent meditation.

Although only held for a few minutes, this waiting in the dark often stretches a little longer than feels comfortable. The silence is maintained even as curious children begin to stir or visitors file in late. Then the Advent candles are lit, and into the darkness we sing “Come thou long expected Jesus,” to the lilting Celtic melody Hyfrydol, usually with a little guitar or fiddle accompaniment. We close with prayer, which usually includes thanksgivings and petitions both big and small. It’s a simple practice, and manages to encompass many elements of the Advent season: earnestness, impatience, wonder, anxiety, hope, and acceptance.

“Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him.” Isaiah 8:17

The prayer concerns of the prophets, it turns out, overlap greatly with our own—refugee crises, food insecurity, environmental disaster, rising militarism. When I struggle to see, or trust the existence of, the face of God, I am comforted by the knowledge of my kinship with people through the ages who share this longing for the urgent breaking forth of God’s transformative kingdom.

Since I’m not a theologian or a scholar, I wanted to share one of the best resources I do know of for connecting with that kinship. That is the amazing 1960 album “Christmas Spirituals” by Odetta Holmes, known simply as Odetta. This album was recently re-released, complete with a multiracial nativity, world-music-inspired percussion, and a children’s choir. That’s not the one I recommend for this purpose. Take the time to find the original 1960 album, which features a hand-carved Black Madonna cradling baby Jesus against a dark background. It’s still available. Here’s a link to the first song on YouTube (apologies for any ads that may pop up):

Odetta’s Christmas Spirituals challenge every sugar-coated image I ever held of the coming of Christ. One glance at song titles like “Poor Little Jesus” and you realize this is not going to be the usual celebratory, somewhat smug victory march of typical Christmas hymnody. This is the resolute time-keeping of runners determined to finish with dignity a race they do not expect to win.

The opening song, “Virgin Mary Had One Son,” dives steadily down a minor chord toward the bottom of Odetta’s astonishing vocal range. There’s no peppy brass band, just a tinny folk guitar and a lonely, sorrowing bass. The song opens with a plodding groan, then abruptly shifts to an almost frantic rhythm that sounds more likely to accompany a chase or escape scene than a moment of sublime transcendence.

“Mary, whatcha gonna name your pretty little baby?” sings Odetta, in the same tone of affectionate sympathy a kind-hearted but resigned neighbor might extend to any new teen mom. Later in the album, she declares from Mary’s perspective, “Some call him one thing, I think I’ll call him Emmanuel,” with the resolve of a mother defending the value of a child the world considers to be worth-less.

These carols help orient me in the direction I understand Jesus asked us to follow him—that is, toward common purpose with the exiled and the shamed in their modern-day mangers. I don’t mean to reinforce the fantasy that the oppressed receive some supernatural glory by means of their suffering. But I realize that every step I have taken up the ladder of privilege and power—earned or unearned, desired or undesired—has narrowed my comprehension of those whose circumstances are different.

For Christmas to be the observance of Incarnation, I need my attention yanked toward Jesus, who said, “Look. You want to see me? That’s easy. I’ll always be in the places of suffering, whether of mind, body, or spirit. But look: don’t go there out of pity, or even out of a virtuous desire to make restitution. Go because that’s where you know you can find me. Go, and find your kindred by the greatness of their need for me.”

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

Prayer: O God, in this season of darkness, help us to have faith that even as the darkness is great, it will never overcome your Light. Amen

Sermon: Take a Seat

PHOTO / @chuttersnap, unsplash.com

When Jesus is invited to a banquet by a prominent Pharisee, he is critical of the seating chart and who was invited to the party. Jesus notes the seating is specially designated so prominent guests sit towards the head of the table, and that only the elite — those who could return the favor — were invited.

If the church invites the world to a banquet, who would Jesus expect to see there? And where would they be sitting?

“Take a Seat” • Luke 14: 7-14 • Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett

“Take a Seat”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 14: 7-14
Sept. 22, 2019

Sermon: Wounded World that Cries for Healing

The message in Luke 12:49-56 can be difficult for Christians. Jesus tells his followers that following him will cause division among their families and within society. He makes it clear that it will be difficult to live in the world as a follower of God.

Jesus is longing for a community of followers who ground their identity in God, rather than the powers of this world. Because following Jesus means we will be shaking up the power structures, speaking truth and challenging power.

Following Jesus means we will have to make people uncomfortable, because Jesus says that anyone who stands in the way of the love of God needs to be exposed — whether it’s on the streets of Jerusalem, in the halls of Congress or even in our church pews. Tribal loyalty can’t be our highest loyalty if we choose to follow Jesus.

Are we going to let our world shape our loyalty to Jesus? Or are we going to let our loyalties to Jesus shape our approach to the world?

To be a true follower, it must be the latter.

Wounded World that Cries for Healing • Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Listen to The Word in Song, “I Am With You,” performed by the Oconee Street UMC Chancel Choir.

“Wounded World that Cries for Healing”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 12:49-56
Aug. 18, 2019

Sermon: Praying for God’s Future

When Jesus teaches us how to pray, he gives us what is now known as The Lord’s Prayer. The prayer emphasizes three things:

  1. God is a member of our family.
  2. There are three requests we are making — bread, forgiveness and deliverance.
  3. We should trust that God will provide.

Most Christians are comfortable with the idea of God as family and trusting that God will provide. And our for the most part, our requests for bread, forgiveness and deliverance are easy to comprehend. However, when it comes to forgiveness, The Lord’s Prayer commands us to forgive those who have sinned against us, just as God forgives us when we sin against God. Jesus tells us that forgiveness received is forever linked with forgiveness given.

Jesus is clear: prayer is effective and God responds. But it’s most effective when a prayer is paired with our willingness to act lovingly in relationship to others … all others.

Homework: Every single person here has someone they need to forgive … Forgive them, reach out and pray for them.

Praying for God’s Future • Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett • Luke 11: 1-13

“Praying for God’s Future”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 11: 1-13
Aug. 4, 2019

Listen to The Word in Song, “To You I Call.