God is by nature missional (click here)
Welcome to worship at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Salmon Arm. We are delighted that you have joined us online.
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us!
Entry of the Bible
CALL TO WORSHIP
we come to you in worship and thanksgiving.
You are greater than we can understand;
open our eyes that we may see the wonderful truths
you have shown to us in Jesus.
You are more loving than our hearts can respond to;
help us to give ourselves to you in worship
so that we learn what you want us to be.
*You are wiser than we can know;
still our minds as we worship you
so that we can understand the things you are saying to us.
Loving God, in Jesus
you chose to come to the world in humility.
You chose the path the world saw as foolish.
You used what the world considered weak.
We worship and adore you.
HYMN 350 to God be the glory
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
we trust in Your power,
even as it is often found in weakness;
in Your wisdom,
even as it is expressed in seeming foolishness;
in Your wholeness,
even as it comes to us amid brokenness.
We do not ask this day for dazzling displays of strength,
electric exercises of intellectual prowess,
or marvelous manifestations of miracles.
We come simply to worship You.
Touch us this day, O Lord, sinners that we are,
that we might become Your saints,
Your body, Your children, Your church.
For this Temple of Your Spirit
is built not upon our own abilities, knowledge, or restorative skill,
but upon You, in Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray together, confessing:
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
we confess how easy it is for us to begin to adopt
the attitudes and actions of the world around us;
to let our lives be shaped by contemporary culture
rather than by Your call.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.
We confess how often we think of our own interests first—
more concerned with our own status and well-being
than with the well-being of others.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.
*We confess that we do not always acknowledge You as Lord,
trusting in our own abilities and following our own goals
rather than submitting ourselves to Your will and Your call.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.
Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, transform us.
Change us from the inside out, so that our words and our lives would bring honour and glory to You, our Saviour and Lord.
Assurance of Pardon
The good news for our salvation, redemption and forgiveness is always this simple and profound truth. For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.[a] So now everyone who believes in him[b] will never perish but experience everlasting life.
Praise be to God, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Sharing a sign of peace
HYMN 357 How sweet the sound
John 3: 16
1 Corinthians 1: 17-34
SERMON: God is by nature missional
John 3: 16 in the Passion Translation reads: 16 For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.[a] So now everyone who believes in him[b] will never perish but experience everlasting life.
God is by nature missional. It is “bred in the bone” or a deeply visceral part of him. God cannot stand by and watch his people perish.
The first encounter God has with his wayward people is Adam and Eve, and he banishes them from the Garden, but gives them a way of atonement through the offerings of grain and sheep. God wanted above all to keep the relationship going.
But human nature being what it is, they continued to sin and worse turned their backs on God. Eventually the whole world turns away from God.
At first God’s anger is displayed. He turns to Noah and says build an ark, so that you, your family, and the animals of the earth can be saved.
In this massive undertaking, over months--if not years, surely the rest of the people noticed. Surely they questioned Noah, and surely Noah replied that the ark was to protect him and his family from the coming destruction of the world. Beware and Repent.
From this we can discern that God wanted all the people to know of the coming destruction. His missional intent of salvation was displayed in the actions and words of Noah. Others could have heeded the word, repented and built their own arks. God wanted them to know and to repent. But they did not. In fact they only saw foolishness in Noah.
But God is by nature missional. His deepest desire is that all people be saved. It must have been with deep regret and pain that he sent the rain, and brought forth the flood. But God could do nothing else because he has to be true to his word.
Hence, the rainbow—the promise that never again would there be complete destruction of the whole world by flood.
And God has been true to that word for every age ever since.
When the people cried out, he sent leaders like Moses. He selected a family from among his people to serve as priests, to help them understand and keep his commandments, to offer sacrifices for their sins and keep God’s name always in front of them.
He sent prophets and judges who miraculously battled with the enemies that sought to harm his people. He gave them kings and leaders to help keep them safe.
Each and every one of them reminded the people of the love God had for them and of the need to repent and return to God. These leaders showed them again and again that God loved his people.
The entire history of God revealed through the Scriptures is of God reaching out to his people, and displaying the vulnerability of his love, the depth of his heartbreak, the deep desire that the people would return to him.
And yet, the people continued to rebel.
Finally God, endured his greatest heartbreak in that final act of salvation that would bring his people back to him, and ultimately bring the whole world into the security of his love.
But what was the cost? For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.[a] So now everyone who believes in him[b] will never perish but experience everlasting life. (Promise)
That was a huge cost for God. God sent his Son to die to ensure the salvation of all people. God’s only desire is missional.
Clearly the cost was great. He broke his heart to redeem his people. God revealed his great vulnerability to the world, to reveal in a deeply personal way that he loves us more than we have ever loved him.
And yet, we don’t always get the message.
Paul writes that the story of the cross is like a stumbling stone, that people stumble over. It trips us up.
In that way that message is two-fold. What trips us up is meant to make us take notice. In Europe among the cobblestone streets there are stumbling stones. Brass bricks among the stones with the names of those who died in the Holocaust inscribed on them—stones meant to make us take notice; meant to make us aware of the call to work for justice for all people. Stones meant to make us take notice that God desires to save his people.
And for those who will notice, they do get the message. But for many these stones are just something on which you catch your toe as you stumble and curse in your rush to go to where you go, and to do what you do.
So as a stumbling stone the cross points out that God loves us above all things in heaven and in earth. God gives us his love on a cross and waits yearningly for us to respond.
But when we stumble and curse and go on, we can also say that the cross is mere foolishness. Surely God could have done something miraculous. Or made some grand entrance.
Why send his son to die on cross, when he could have sent a vanquishing hero, mounted on a horse and commanding an army of warrior angels. (Spoiler alert—the next time Jesus comes to earth that is exactly what will happen).
But until that day comes the story of the cross is a story of God’s missional nature, and of how the only thing God desires is to save his people. But it isn’t only God who shares this missional story.
We have explored these past few months the deep truth that God has a church to accomplish his mission.
As we look back at what God has done, he has always had a people to share his mission. From Abel who made an acceptable sacrifice, to Noah who built an ark with no rain in sight, to Abraham who lived by faith, to Moses who led the people to the Promised Land, to the priests, prophets and kings that followed, God has had a people who have shared his mission.
This tells us that God is in this for the long haul. He is patient as he longs for his people to return. One of the commentators said something about God wooing his people throughout the ages. It made me think of a good old fashioned courtship, where couples met for months and strolled and talked, attended church events, socialized with each other’s families, all steps on the road to betrothal. This love story unfolds in front of everyone, as God lays out his love so that no one can mistake his intentions.
But God’s mission is also a scandal say other commentators. After all what parent would sacrifice his child to ensure salvation for others. We first see that scandal as Abraham goes to make a sin sacrifice to God and finds no sheep. So he prepares to sacrifice Isaac until God stops him and provides the ram. Again and again God provides the sacrifice.
It is a scandal that God repeats as he provides Jesus, to die so that we don’t have to pay the penalty for sin. Moreover, it was a huge scandal that God would allow his son to die a death reserved for the hardest criminals. Death on the cross was excruciating long, slow, painful torture. Everyone who passed by cursed and insulted the one on the cross. This kind of death was scandalous.
For me a scandal raises a whole other vision of mission. What do we see when there is a scandal? People gather in the town square, the church dining hall, and the mall as they gossip. Did you hear? Did you see? What was he thinking? There is nothing that spreads faster than hot gossip.
So our participation in God’s mission is like gossiping about the scandal that God’s son would die for the likes of….Hitler, Stalin, Baby Doc or Idi Amin? Do we gossip about the scandal that God would send his son to die for the likes of Me or You?
Yes, and no. Proclaiming the awesome power of the cross is more than mere gossip. There is purpose behind telling the story.
Paul points out the scandal in pretty clear terms. Again we are reading from the Promise.
18 To preach the message[b] of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us.[c] 19 For it is written:
I will dismantle the wisdom of the wise
and I will invalidate the intelligence of the scholars.[d]
20 So where is the wise philosopher who understands? Where is the expert scholar who comprehends? And where is the skilled debater of our time who could win a debate with God? Hasn’t God demonstrated that the wisdom of this world system is utter foolishness?
21 For in his wisdom, God designed that all the world’s wisdom would be insufficient to lead people to the discovery of himself. He took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross[e] in order to save those who believe it. (promise)
Scandal, foolishness, really? Are these the marks of a great God. People among the Gentiles expected other things from their gods. They expected displays of power, fits of anger, destruction. They expected to have to go to great lengths to prove their love for the deity.
Surely this way of salvation that Paul was talking about was too simple. Too easy. Too good to be true.
Do you mean to tell me that all I have to do is to look at the cross so that I can see how much God loves me?
Yes. It is that simple. Look at the cross and see the love of God displayed for all to see.
That cross is more than a pretty necklace—it is a powerful symbol of the love of God, for whom it was worth everything to take on human form and suffer and die, for us.
Foolishness. A scandal. Incomprehensible. Absolutely. Love always is. And God’s love definitely is.
Paul writes: 27 But God chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise, and God chose the puny and powerless to shame[j] the high and mighty. 28 He chose the lowly, the laughable[k] in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that he would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent, 29 so that there would be no place for prideful boasting in God’s presence. 30 For it is not from humans that we draw our life but from God as we are being joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. And now he is our God-given wisdom, our virtue, our holiness, and our redemption. 31 And this fulfills what is written:
If anyone boasts, let him only boast
in all that the Lord has done!
Ah! Here we have the purpose for our living. Not to stumble on God’s love. Not to gossip about the scandal of Jesus. No, our purpose is to glorify God.
If anyone boasts, let him only boast in all that the Lord has done.
We tell the story. We point to the cross. We share the good news of the depth of God’s love. And in all that we do and all that we say we fulfill the mission of God and God is glorified.
Praise be to our everlasting God. Amen
HYMN: 371 Love divine all loves excelling
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
O Holy Spirit, bless these gifts and abide in our hearts so that our gifts and our actions may live out our faith, glorify God, and bring forth a fruitful harvest for the kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
GATHERING PRAYER REQUESTS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We thank you, O God that we are a chosen people,
A family people, born of your love and chosen for your mission.
We thank you that we have been Chosen for love and to share love,
Chosen for joy and to spread joy,
Chosen for friendship and for befriending,
Chosen for blessing and to bless,
Chosen for fruitfulness,
Chosen for harvest.
We are a chosen people,
A family people,
In deep gratitude we bring you our joys and thanksgiving:
There is a transformation that takes place
within the warmth of your embrace,
That certain knowledge that you are
refuge, shelter, fortress and stronghold,
against which no army can succeed.
That you are the love that knows no bounds.
That you are God, And that we are lost outside of your embrace.
So now O God, we come before you asking for your embrace in the lives of those both far and near, who need a touch of your love, your foolishness and your deep peace.
Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive you, intellect to understand you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you and life to proclaim you, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. In that spirit we now pray together as Jesus has taught us, saying: our Father who art in heaven…..
HYMN 358 There is a redeemer
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
Every morning that you wake, may you embrace the foolishness of God’s mission.
May you feel the peace That can calm the fiercest storm,
May you feel the love, To forgive and then move on
May you feel the strength, To walk and not grow weary
May you feel the joy, That is at the heart of being
May you feel the presence of God, and be filled with his power
Grace, love, peace from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you forevermore.
Online: Tell me the stories of Jesus
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!