Exiles Come Home

Worship Service for December 6, 2020

WELCOME

Good morning. Welcome to CrossPointe Community Church’s online video presentation. It is good to be seen again. I thank you, my friends, for your understanding and support of me taking some time away from my worship leading responsibilities. As a result, I was able to get some rest and accomplish some personal business that has been simmering on my back burner for far too long.

I thank God for all of you and for the opportunity to spend these moments with you. If you’d like to reach out to me, I’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at randykmeyer@hotmail.com.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

I will be at the church today until 12 noon for those of you who wish to drop off your offering. You may place it in the box that is located in the lobby. If you prefer to send your offering in the mail, the address is

CrossPointe Community Church
P. O. Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215-0126

I want to thank you again for your generosity in filling 15 Thanksgiving Boxes. We can only imagine how grateful those folks were as they sat down to enjoy what you all provided.

We will be adopting four families for Christmas. At the present time, we know there are 11 children that range in age from three to 17. We will e-mail you as soon as we have specifics on clothing sizes, etc. We will have until December 20th to bring these items to the church for distribution.

Please note that this month’s Community Meal will take place a week early. That would be December 18th.

CALL TO WORSHIP

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”

Matthew 1:23

SONG

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Neale, John M./Coffin, Henry S./Helmore, Thomas

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

©Public Domain
CCLI No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

O Lord, our God; as we enter into the Advent season once again, we pray that You would prepare our hearts to celebrate not only Christmas, but also the sacrament of holy communion which we will partake in today. We thank You for the promise of the Messiah’s forgiveness. For this forever blessing, we worship You in the name of the One who is most assuredly with us, our Emmanuel, even Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

THE GIVING OF THE LORD’S OFFERING

(see announcement above)

As we ponder God’s call upon our lives to give generously, let us meditate on Paul’s inspired words written in his second letter to the Church at Corinth:

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (5:21). Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! (9:15).

PRAYER SONG

Psalm 23

Morgan, Trevor

The Lord is my Shepherd
And I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
And He leads me beside still waters
And He restores my soul
He leads me in paths of righteousness
For His Namesake
Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff
They comfort me
Oh, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil
My cup overflows

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff
They comfort me
Oh, they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever…forever.

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff
They comfort me
Oh, they comfort me.

CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

The Topola Family

Dear God,

Thank you for this beautiful snowy weather for us to play in. Thank you for giving us a warm house in this cold weather. We know how much you love us and always watch over us.

During these times of Covid, we may have depression and anxiety, however, we know you will keep us safe because you have the “Whole world in your hands”. On this second Sunday in Advent, we read Luke 2:12: “This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” What a beautiful reminder of how the birth of baby Jesus blesses us with hope, joy, love, and peace.

Amen.

SCRIPTURE

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.”

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”

A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, He brings His reward with Him as He comes. He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

Isaiah 40:1-11

This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”

This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

Mark 1:1-8

THE MESSAGE

Randy K’Meyer

Exiles Come Home

“Comfort, comfort, my people’ says your God. (Isaiah 40:1).

We cannot grasp the full impact of those words without first understanding that prior to “comfort, comfort” the prophetical word was “destruction! destruction!”

Isaiah and his colleagues had been shouting God’s warning for over 200 years to the Jewish people who persisted in worshiping false gods.

God finally allowed the warning to become reality when the final destruction took place in 587 BC at the hands of the Babylonian Empire. The beloved capital of Jerusalem was burned to the ground, the Temple of the Lord was torn down stone by stone, and the people who were not slaughtered during the siege were hauled off back to Babylon to endure captivity. It is one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history; known as the Exile.

Theologically, the faith of the Jewish people had been shaken greatly. The Jewish people believed that God lived in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple had been destroyed; therefore, God must be dead. And if God is dead, forgiveness is out the window.

God’s people were drowning in despair. They needed a newfound HOPE; and that’s exactly what God provided!

He inspires His prophet to speak words of hope: “Comfort, comfort my people.” Tell them that they have served their time, they have been pardoned, and now they are free to return to their land, rebuild their homes, and more importantly, to rebuild the house of the Lord so that they might gather to worship the Lord God once again. And to add icing on the cake, once they set out to return home, God is going to meet them on the road and victoriously lead them home. Yes, Isaiah proclaims, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isaiah 40:11).

It’s beautiful picture of God leading His people home a picture Isaiah added color to in chapter 55 when he says that as they journey, “The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:12).

In this 2020 season of Advent, when turning toward God in anticipation of Christ’s coming to us is our focus, Isaiah 40 serves to underscore all that is important for us to know to begin our spiritual journey.

For I believe there are parallels between these Old Testament truths and our own spiritual reality today.

Now to be sure, to equate the 48 year Exile with the pandemic we are enduring today is not an apples to apples comparison. But, is it too much to say that this pandemic has exiled us to our homes? We are being advised to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out. And a couple of weeks ago, our leaders decided it would be wise to refrain from having in-person worship for the time being.

Last Easter, we were hoping that coronavirus would have run its course by summer, by fall, certainly by Christmas. But here we are in the first week of December and it’s worse than ever. Predictions are it’s going to get worse before better as we approach Christmas.

Despair. Theologically, our faith may be shaking too.

Church guru, Thom Rainer, has been predicting for six months that when this is all said and done that 20% of folks who were regular attenders of worship will not return. Some of these because they enjoy participating in on-line worship and will become so comfortable with it that they will continue that practice. And some of those 20% will be folks who will as a result of not gathering together will fall away from practicing the Christian faith altogether.

As we are enduring this unprecedented time when we are not able to gather together for worship, it may be true that like some of those Jews, who wrongly concluded that they could not worship God in exile, we will neglect to connect with the Lord our God.

Look into your hearts, my friends. Are you availing yourselves of the opportunity you have to connect with God by reading His word and praying every day from the comfort of your home? Because if we don’t, especially in this time, chances are that we will begin to feel distant from God, which only serves to compound the problem. When that happens, sin begins to creep into our lives, which only serves to compound the problem.

Like the exiles, we too need a word of HOPE.

A number of years ago, some researchers performed an experiment to see if it were possible to instill hope in animals. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in two separate tubs of water. They left one set in the water and found that within an hour they all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. Those rats kept swimming for 24 hours. Not because they had rested, but because they were given hope. They learned that if they could remain afloat for a little longer someone would reach down and rescue them.

Some of us are drowning in a sea of hopelessness caused by this pandemic. Some are struggling with the pain of loneliness. Some are struggling to keep from going under financially. For others, damaged or broken relationships are making it tough to stay afloat. Others find it difficult to keep their heads above water because of the weight of moral bankruptcy. Sin can be extremely heavy and weigh a person down with guilt and remorse.

Many today need HOPE and that’s exactly what these Old Testament texts provide.

These texts affirm that even in the midst of exile, God is with us.

That even in the midst of exile, we can worship God.

That even in the midst of exile, we can read the scriptures on our own because the word of our Lord lasts forever.

That even in the midst of exile, we can pray knowing that God hears and answers our prayers.

That even in the midst of exile we can come together in spirit at the same time each Lord’s day taking comfort in knowing that the CrossPointe family is gathering to worship Christ.

And that even in the midst of the exile we can hope for and look forward to the day that will most assuredly come when God will lead us back to the Promised Land located at 6230 Lake Road in Chippewa Lake, Ohio. And we will look in one another’s mask-less faces and rejoice that the Lord will have fulfilled His promise to regather His exiles!

Isaiah predicted that God would come to the exiled Jews and lead them home. And that’s exactly what happened! Ezra 1 tells how in 539 BC, God inspired King Cyrus to release the captives so they could begin their journey home!

It is not surprising that John the Baptist invoked this passage in order to prepare the hearts of people for Christ’s coming during his earthly ministry.

Or that Mark begins his gospel by harkening back to this text. He doesn’t begin with the angelic visits to Joseph and Mary, nor in the stable with the heavenly choir or visiting sages. Mark’s gospel begins with the HOPE of the coming of the Messiah who would lead His people, you and I, to our heavenly home.

Though the road be long and the journey sometimes wearisome, we can rest assured that our faith in Jesus will carry us home.

One of the most grueling of all bicycle races is the Tour De France. The race covers about 2000 miles of difficult mountainous terrain. Eating and drinking is done on the run, and there are extremes of heat and cold. A contestant in that event, Gilbert Lassalle, describes it in a National Geographic article. To train for the event, Lassalle rides his bicycle 22,000 miles a year.

What kind of prize makes people endure so much hardship and pain! $10,000? $100,000? No; the winner receives a special winner’s jersey. What then motivates the contestants? Lassalle sums it up: “Why, to sweep through the Arc de Triomphe on the last day, of course; and to be able to say you finished the Tour de France.”

What a great and glorious day it will be when we, through the victory our faith in Christ supplies, will leave behind the sometimes difficult road of this life and finish our race by sweeping through the heavenly gates.

Of course, the return of the Jews to God, like our return to God, was and is predicated on the forgiveness of sin.

For all those who might be languishing in the faith, and who might be toying with the idea that because you have given up on God, God has given up on you, there is HOPE. Isaiah’s promise of forgiveness applies as much to you and me as it did to the Jews. But in a much more spectacular way for our forgiveness in Christ is once for all!

We may fall prey to the temptation that we can fall away from God, but God has us firmly in His hand of grace and mercy! All we need do is avail ourselves of the opportunity to come to Him.

On Christmas Eve, Robert Robinson found himself aimlessly wandering the streets of 18th century London.

Everywhere he walked it seemed people were hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd, Robinson was a lonely man. The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life. It had been years since he set foot in a church, years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved. That love for God, once fiery and passionate, had slowly burned out within, leaving him dark and cold inside.

When Robinson heard the clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him he turned to lift his hand to hail the driver. But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman. He waved the driver on, but the woman in the carriage ordered it to be stopped. “Sir, I’d be happy to share this carriage with you . . . are you going to church?”

“No . . . I am going home . . . but I will accept a ride.”

He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman and when he introduced himself, there was a flash of recognition in her eyes.

“That’s an interesting coincidence,” she said, reaching into her purse. She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse and handed it to him. “I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson?”

He took the book, nodding. “Yes, I wrote these words years ago.”

“Oh, how wonderful! I’m sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!”

But Robinson barely heard her as he became absorbed in reading his own words; words that would one day be set to music and become a great hymn of the faith “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace, streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”

His eyes slipped to the bottom of the page where he painfully read: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.”

“I wrote these words and now I have lived them,” he said to this woman.

“You also wrote,” she said, ‘Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.’ You can offer your heart again to God, Mr. Robinson. It’s not too late.”

The carriage stopped, the door opened, and there was the church with a candle burning in every window, beckoning him to come to the light. And that’s exactly what he did.

PRAYER

(I encourage all of you to pray as you feel led)

SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

A CHRISTMAS/COMMUNION AFFIRMATION

Alleluia, alleluia!

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14).

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

“To us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).

“So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14).

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

Alleluia, alleluia!

A CHRISTMAS/COMMUNION SONG

What Child Is This?

Dix, William Chatterton

What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christian, fear for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear, shall pierce Him thro’,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings, salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT

We give thanks to God the Father that our Savior, Jesus Christ, before He suffered, gave us this memorial of His sacrifice, until His coming again. For on the night of His arrest He took bread and, after giving thanks to God, broke it and said, “This is My body which is for you; do this as a memorial of Me.”

(Receive the bread)

In the same way, He took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant sealed by My blood. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me.”

(Receive the cup).

A CHRISTMAS/COMMUNION PRAYER

Jesus, you truly are Immanuel, “God with us.” In this wonderful season of hope, may the meal we’ve shared together nourish us to be Your body in the world, Your kingdom come, Your will done on earth as it is in heaven. With the angels in heaven we join in singing your praises, Glory to God in the highest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

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, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

CLOSING SONG

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Wesley, Charles/Pritchard, Rowland H.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

©2000 Hal Leonard Corp.
CCLI License No. 1843349

SCRIPTURAL BENEDICTION

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

II Thessalonians 2:16-17
Randy K'Meyer

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