New Covenant Community Church


From Obstacle to Opportunity

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Sermons


PRELUDE                                 This is My Father’s World                            – Sheppard / Berry

     Leader: When the ways of peace seem clouded, the light of God’s love shines before us.
     People: When we doubt and wonder what will happen, God is in our midst, bringing us hope.
     Leader: When despair and difficulty attempt to smother us, the wind of God’s Spirit refreshes us
                   with newness.
     People: Amid the many paths that the world offers, God’s way leads us to life.
     Leader: Come, let us praise the Lord who sees us and heals us.
     People: Let us listen for God’s voice, so that we may hear God’s word and follow.

*HYMN                                         God of the Sparrow                                       Glory to God, #22

    Gracious and merciful God,
            who has called us from different paths,
            who leads us on different journeys,
            and who even embraces us when we wander from Your way,
                we confess that we have not always promoted the welfare of the church, community, and
    We have torn the fabric of fellowship by confusing our opinions with Your truth.
        We have tarnished the tapestry of our testimony through our insistence on being right
         rather than being gracious.
            We have ripped the raiment of rapport through the gossip that fosters bitterness, strife,
           and estrangement.
    Forgive us, O Lord, and have mercy upon us for our tendency to unite around our labels
    rather than Your love.
        Weave into us the wisdom that mends our misunderstanding;
            fashion a new community with the inclusive thread of Your grace;
                and knit into us the unity that values and respects all humanity,
                    through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. (Silent)

ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS (adapted from Psalm 130:3-7)
    Leader: If the LORD would mark our iniquities, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with
    People: Let us hope in the LORD, for with the LORD there is steadfast love and plenteous
    Leader: Friends, believe the good news of the gospel:
    People: Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE                     Incline Your Ear, O Lord, to Me                            Glory to God, #844
    [During the interlude, you are invited to reflect on where you might have missed God this
     week, or where you might have turned against another human being. As we meditate on
     this hymn text, may God hear our prayers and bless us with forgiveness and grace.]

SCRIPTURE                                                                                                              Psalm 1:1-6
     1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners
tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
     2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.
     3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their
leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
     4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
     5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the
     6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE             Come, Bring Your Burdens to God           Glory to God, #851
     [During the interlude, you are invited to consider what God may be saying to you
      in these passages of Scripture. You are also encouraged to read the textual notes
      about this hymn which emerges from communal life in South Africa.]

SCRIPTURE                                                                                                              Jonah 1:1-17
     1 Now the word of the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go at once to
Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa
and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to
Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. 4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea,
and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the
mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into
the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had
lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound
asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not
perish.” 7 The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose
account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they
said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do
you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 “I am a Hebrew,” he
replied. “I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men
knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them so.
11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For
the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me
into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great
storm has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land,
but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 14 Then they cried out
to the LORD, “Please, O LORD, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not
make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they
picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men
feared the LORD even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. 17 But the
LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days
and three nights.

MEDITATION                                                                                        From Obstacle to Opportunity

ANTHEM                                           It is Well With My Soul                                  – Bliss / Loree

*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                                          adapted from The Confession of 1967, 9.44
God has created the peoples of the earth to be one universal family.
        In his reconciling love, God overcomes the barriers between sisters and brothers
             and breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference, real
            or imaginary.
    The church is called to bring all people to receive and uphold one another as persons in all
    relationships of life:
        in employment, housing, education, leisure, marriage, family, church, and the exercise of
        political rights.
            Therefore, the church labors for the abolition of all discrimination and ministers to
            those injured by it.

. . . Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven,
may the hallowing of Your name echo through the universe!
May the way of Your justice be followed by all people of the earth!
May Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Grant that Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
would come on earth and sustain our hope.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us,
for You reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.
– adapted from the New Zealand Prayer Book


MUSICAL INTERLUDE                    Light Dawns in a Weary World                    Glory to God, #79
    [During the interlude, recall two or three things that happened this week for which you are
    grateful. Cherish them, and then thank God for these gifts. You are also invited to embrace
    the hymn’s vision of what can happen when Light dawns, Love grows, and Hope blooms.]

    Gracious God and Giver of all good gifts,
        because You have called us to be a light to the nations,
            we pray that You would bless the gifts we give today.
    Take them and consecrate them
        so that the offerings we share
            would touch lives,
            make disciples,
            and transform the world.
    Enable all people to experience the abundance of Your blessings,
        so that all humankind will be strengthened for service
            through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in whose name we pray. Amen.

*HYMN                                            How Firm a Foundation                                    Glory to God, #463


*CHORAL RESPONSE                   Surely, the Presence of the Lord                 – see screens

POSTLUDE                                                      Wade in the Water                                     – Hayes



During this time of uncertainty, New Covenant Community Church will be faithful
in trusting and abiding in God’s guidance,
and continue to be welcoming, inclusive, and steadfast
in our mission, ministry, and hospitality.
We will be open to new pastoral leadership and the new things God is doing among us.

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