Becoming the Gospel
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us!
Entry of the Bible
- Once again we welcome Rev. Ena Van Zoeren to the pulpit and thank her for leading us all in worship today.
- We thank and welcome those who are visiting us today and pray that God will bless us all as we worship together especially those who are online.
- If you are visiting us online and wish to speak to someone about concerns or prayer requests you may have; please visit our Contact info page or click here. We would be happy to speak to you, God bless.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Open your hearts to God’s loving mercy.
Lord, come into our hearts this day.
Having received God’s mercy, bring that love to others.
Lord, be with us as we reach out to others in compassion.
Feel your spirits filled with the goodness of God.
Lord, we thank you for the many blessings which you pour into our lives. AMEN.
204 Thou didst leave thy throne (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Though you are God, with all the influence and status that the name implies, you refused to pull rank, and parade your power among us.
Instead, you chose to step down into our experience, living among us, as one of us, with all the struggle and suffering that goes with being human.
More than that, you adopted the role of slave, washing feet, serving people of no reputation or social standing, and giving of yourself completely.
as incredible as it sounds, you are the God who serves, and we can respond in no other way than to give ourselves to you in praise, in worship and in service.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,
hear us as we confess our struggle to become
more like you. Our desires often do not
reflect your calling.
so this day we pray to be delivered
from our selfish desires:
*From the desire of being esteemed,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
*So this day we pray to be delivered from
our fears of becoming more like you.
From the fear of being humiliated.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
*Merciful God, give us the same attitude as Jesus,
who emptied himself and was obedient to you
all the way to his death on the cross.
Make us eager to put others before ourselves,
and their needs before our own.
We ask this through your Son, Amen
Assurance of Pardon
Beloved, through the love shown to us by Jesus,
we can be sure that we are God’s children now.
The Spirit of Christ is among us in this gathering
and the nature of Christ is revealed within us.
We are becoming more and more like Christ each day.
Therefore, let us live joyfully as God’s people;
saints and instruments of God’s way.
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
HYMN 352 and can it be that I should gain
Philippians 1: 27-2:16
SERMON: Becoming the Gospel
In the church we frequently talk about becoming, and being, which is quite an art form, and one we are never too sure we can accomplish. But is it something that we are meant to accomplish?
Today I am going to suggest that becoming and being is not about what we can accomplish at all. It is about being who we are created to be, and letting that person shine through us.
Take a baby.
Not once does a baby wonder if he or she is succeeding at being a baby. A baby just is. They eat, they sleep, they cry, they make piles of wet and dirty diapers. They are just babies.
And three year olds are just 3 year olds. They play, they throw tantrums, they make demands. But at about that point in their lives parents make a strong effort to channel the behaviour, to help the child conform to the expectations of the household or society…
And from there the external pressures on us continue to grow.
Sadly we even feel that pressure in the church, as we wonder if we are meeting the expectations of the congregation, or the session, or the preacher. And the preacher feels those same pressures.
Paul speaks to us today about living worthily of the Gospel, not the expectations of others.
How do we live worthily of the gospel? How do we become the mission of God? How do we become the person we were created to be?
The clue to the answer lies in the last question. We don’t do. We don’t make the effort into becoming anything. We simply allow God to shape us into who we were created to be.
That person whom Christ redeemed, is inside.
When we put away the expectations of others, and the pressure we put on our selves, and simply allow God to work, that person will blossom in us. I think that harkens back to what we said last week about dogs barking. Dogs are dogs. Cats are cats. Babies are babies and Christians are Christians. And each is true to their nature.
Christians are true to the nature of Christ within us. Not the flaws, bumps and hurts we have picked up on the journey through life. That calls us to a more relaxed living, as we find God working in us to fulfill his good pleasure.
The commentators in the Spiritual Formation Bible write regarding Paul’s injunction to live worthily of the Gospel. “our lives are to be formed with the Gospel in mind. Not to improve ourselves—but about fulfilling the Gospel.”
The job of us becoming…. BECOMING, NOT GROWING, belongs to the Holy Spirit. We live, we breathe, we move and we have our being in the Spirit who lives and breathes and moves within us.
That truth infuses what Paul calls the master story. It is not about us putting the effort into growing in Christ, it is about Christ growing in us.
The problem with us putting in the EFFORT, is that we see becoming as something that is under our control. When we put anything under our own control, then we are looking at being the people of Christ in the wrong way.
Paul’s advice on becoming like Christ, is to imitate Christ.
The missional imperative is for us to be Christ. This is the missional Christology for a missional people. Be Christ. And if you can’t do that, simply quit striving and imitate Christ.
For the past month and a half, I have been chatting with my old school and drama friends. We meet every Sunday evening for a video chat. The topic often returns to the variety of roles we have played, and we remember how much we loved certain roles. We talk about the freedom of being another person on stage, where we can leave ourselves behind and simply enjoy being that other person. Acting means to become that person, behave like them, think like them, respond like them--if only for a little while.
When we follow Paul’s advice to be imitators of Jesus, that is exactly what we do. We put on the character of Jesus and we live in that character. The difference is that this character becomes ours for life. What is also true in this analogy is that the more we learn about Jesus, the more we become like him.
So when we participate in the Gospel, we enter into the humiliation and the exaltation of Jesus as we, like him, take up the mission of God.
Today we read from Philippians where Paul is talking about the privilege and challenge of participating in the story of Jesus. We do so by proclaiming him in word, and by living like him in our deeds.
Philippians was written to a Roman colony, so these believers faced the same difficulty with governmental authority that Jesus encountered.
They would have suffered for the gospel at the hands of non-believers and the military authority. To Rome the believers were considered a threat. Living under that kind of oppression would be difficult under one’s own power. The power from the Holy Spirit to be Christ in those situations was crucial.
Yet, like all congregations, they experienced internal dissension. Expectations about how Christians act in the world were strong in the house churches. There were disputes about matters of theology and behaviour. In the end Paul returns to his oft repeated theme…I was determined to know nothing but Christ and Christ crucified. Or as the Mennonites put it: Christ is our common denominator. All the rest is just details. When you are a NON-detail person like me that is real freedom. It’s about Jesus and nothing else. It’s about living like Jesus is the world, and nothing else… because frankly living like Jesus in the world is the whole mission of God.
Here Paul reminds the Philippians that knowing Christ, being like Christ in all they do and say is a privilege of believing and suffering. Not striving and growing—believing and suffering.
This is a life of faith. With faith we place our trust and hope in God. With faith we believe that God will bring out of us the fullness of who we are in Christ Jesus. In that fullness we live the power of God for salvation, as we carry out the same mission as Christ.
Isaiah teaches that the Messiah will be the suffering servant. He ask, “who would have thought that God’s saving power would look like this?”
Rejected, abused, despised, beaten, slaughtered, the object of the miscarriage of justice—a lamb led to the slaughter.
Did Jesus do any of that under his own power? NO. He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit for strength, and as we saw in the agony of his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus relied on the Spirit’s power even for the WILL to agree to do as God asks.
So today we look at this call to become the Gospel, to become like Christ and we ask how. How do I become like Christ? How do I become the person God created me to be? How?
Not by our own effort but by submitting to the leadership of Jesus. By having the mindset of Christ.
Gorman talks about this mindset as having eschatological hope. We live in the here and now, but we proclaim the lordship of Jesus to all, in the anticipation of his final proclamation of sovereignty.
We know what that looks like. We proclaim that truth every time we gather at the Lord’s Table, and say: For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we do proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns.
Missional Christology proclaims the Lord’s death which leads to missional eschatology in which we look forward with hope until the day that Jesus returns.
Again, this is about simply being. We follow the guidance of the Spirit to tell the story as we wait. There is nothing that we can do to make that day come sooner. There is nothing we can do to hasten the kingdom--PERIOD.
We live in the Biblical Imperative, where Mission leads to community life, which leads to Christology…. Recognizing that paradoxically we also live it in reverse: Christology forms our community life which forms our missional response as God’s church.
Gorman says that for Paul all of this is summed up by Paul as a life of faith, love and hope. I know we often use a different order, but Gorman is deliberate about this. I see this order as taking the striving out of being the mission of God.
We live in faith: trusting the Master story to which we have been called, giving ourselves over in faithful obedience to our life in Christ.
We live in love: with God’s love our communities exemplify the unity of agape, the spirit empowered, Christ-shaped living out of the Master story. This love is what Gorman calls the antidote to the Western individualism and self-centredness of the society in which we live.
And finally, we live in hope: the Master story reassures believers that the Lordship of Jesus true and CANNOT be stopped.
When we become who we are in Christ, we are those who hear and believe that just as God directed, and exalted Jesus, God will direct and exalt us. And we like Jesus, will walk in the humbleness of being equal with God.
No assembly required. Thank God. Amen.
HYMN: all whom the name of Jesus bear
Online: there is a redeemer
Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us.
For ways in which to bring your offering into the storehouse check the front page of the website. Thank you.
Let us now pray for the offering received
GATHERING PRAYER REQUESTS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God, You are a God of compassion and love.
Time after time we have experienced your care and provision.
Time after time You’ve answered our prayers and met our needs—
often in ways we could never have dreamed possible.
We praise You for Your faithful love toward us.
We bring to you know our expressions of Joy and Gratitude….
Because we have known Your love, we come to You with confidence,
offering our prayers for the world that You love.
We see so much pain and suffering. so much violence and poverty and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs around us. But we continue to bring our prayers to You in faith, because we know that nothing is impossible for You.
We pray for those suffering the effects of recent natural disasters:
We pray for those without food, without water, without shelter, without hope.
Refugees whose suffering is increased because they can’t isolate
Merciful God, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to show us a different way to live—the way of deep humility and obedience. You’ve called us to love one another, and to work together with one heart and mind,
balancing our needs with the needs of those around us.
Give us courage to follow faithfully, and with integrity—
with actions that bear witness to the words we speak,
and worship that overflows into our daily tasks and relationships—
so that our lives will bring glory and honour to You,
our Redeemer and Lord.
And now we turn to you in faith, praying as Jesus has taught us, saying
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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
BLESSING AND BENEDICTION
Online: Tell me the stories of Jesus
Benediction Song Who’s going to tell the story
Who’s going to tell the story, you and I
Tell of the Lord’s great glory, you and I
Who’s gong to let the whole world know
Help his disciples grow and mulitiply?
You and I!