Lord make us one
AUGUST 1st 2021
ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
- Welcome to St. Andrew's online worship service; may it be a blessing to your soul.
- Thank you Rev. Shirley Cochrane for leading our worship today
- St. Andrew's AGM will be held today following the service. May God bless and lead in all the decisions to be made and approved.
- August's Loonie Offering is going to Fire Relief Efforts via the Salvation Army. The Session was thinking specifically of Lytton but with the fire season we are having it may be better used as required.
- This week, in our community, we pray for: Recreation Facilities, Sports Teams, Gyms, and the Bowling Alley.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Bless the Lord with heart and soul, for our God is great.
We will bless God in this time of worship!
God sends forth the Spirit to renew the face of the ground.
God, renew us in this time of worship!
God feeds all creatures in due season.
God, feed us in this time of worship!
Let us sing to God as long as we live;
We will sing praise to our God while we have being.
So we come to worship.
HYMN 372 Praise Him, praise him
God of majesty and mystery, we gather before you in humble wonder.
Source of all that is, your breadth and depth are beyond our imagining.
Word of hope and healing, your grace defies our explanations.
Spirit of purpose and possibility, you touch us when we least expect it.
Receive our praise and prayer this day and prepare us to receive your Word in this hour of worship. For we come to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
as your Holy Spirit prays within us, to stir us to new life. Hear now as we confess together …………..
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of mystery and mercy,
you know the details of our lives.
You see the sin and the sorrow we bear;
you see the problems and the possibilities we face.
You see how we take advantage of each other,
how we overlook one another.
O God, we confess we do not always see what you see—
in our own lives and in the lives that touch ours.
Open our eyes to the truth of our times
and cleanse our hearts with your grace.
In the name of Jesus our Lord AMEN
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ—and Christ died for us; Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free by God’s generous grace.
May the peace of our risen Christ be with you.
HYMN ATB # 1 You are my all in all
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanses me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
SERMON: “Lord make us one”
Source of all wisdom, in the midst of many distractions, focus us on you. In the midst of competing voices, attune our ears to hear your Word. In the midst of the many choices we face, show us your will. In the name of Jesus, who is bread for our journey, we pray. Amen.
Paul is still writing … and today we continue his letter to the church in Ephesus still sitting as a prisoner in Rome.
During his missionary travels Paul experienced a wide variety of Roman prison conditions. He was chained in a common holding cell in Philippi (Acts 16:23– 30), imprisoned in probably better conditions in the praetorium at Caesarea (Acts 23:35), and held in relative comfort while in his first house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16). for two years ( Acts28:30), awaiting an appearance before Nero. Scholars believe Paul was released sometime in AD 62 because the Jews who had accused him of being “a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension” (Acts 24:5) didn’t press their case before the emperor. While there, Paul was responsible for maintaining himself during his imprisonment, including his meals and clothes (Acts 28:30). Paul’s Roman citizenship meant he was eligible for a daily food allowance, but Paul depended on his friends and fellow believers to supply this food. While under house arrest in Rome, Paul was guarded around the clock by soldiers of the elite Praetorian Guard. It is believed that it was during this period he wrote his letters to the churches in Colosse. Ephesus and Phillipi. and to the Colossian, Philemon. Since these writings are preserved for us in the New Testament, Paul's ministry has been multiplied throughout the world for the past two thousand years.
His second imprisonment was not so comfortable. The prisons were filthy, poorly ventilated, and underground. The prisons would be divided into outer and inner areas. The inner parts of the prison were more secure and darker. Prison would not have had individual cells. During Paul’s second imprisonment in the Mamertine dungeon, he had apparently received a preliminary hearing and was awaiting a final trial (2 Timothy 4:16). He didn’t expect acquittal; he expected to be found guilty, in all likelihood, for hating humankind or simply being a Christian. Paul believed only his execution would be left (4:6–7), which was probably carried out in AD 68.
As we have seen, Paul endured prison mainly to gain new opportunities to proclaim the gospel. His letters from prison reinforce this idea. We see this not only in his regular identification of himself as Christ's ambassador in chains, but also in the prayers he solicited from the churches to which he wrote. For instance, listen to his request in Ephesians 6:19-20: Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should
Paul knew that, even in prison, his primary responsibility was to proclaim the gospel. And so, he asked the Ephesians to pray for him so that he would have the strength to fulfill his apostolic responsibility. In prison he had no job to do, no places to travel, and few distractions. This allowed him a great deal of time to pray. From the testimony his letters provide, it would appear that Paul considered himself both obligated and honored to spend much of that time praying for others.
Listen to Paul's testimony regarding his prayers for other believers in Ephesians 1:16-18: I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation … I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. He believed that prayer was powerful, and he hoped that God would honor his prayers by blessing the Ephesians. Paul's efforts in prayer constituted a vibrant and valuable ministry to churches and individuals with whom he had ongoing relationships. He knew a lot about their circumstances and about them personally. As a result, Paul is able to address many specific issues that concerned his audiences, both personal and theological - carefully tailored to the specific situations of the churches and individuals
Paul directed his letters to the theological issues that involved the church as a whole, providing authoritative apostolic instruction with a pastoral hand. His teaching ministry as an authoritative representative of Christ did not falter during his imprisonment. Rather, Paul continued to provide infallible revelations of truth during this time and continued to apply that truth to the church through his letters.
This week, Paul urges his readers “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Humility is derived from the same Latin root as “humus”—the soil. Humble people are people who are profoundly grounded - comfortable in their own skin, we might say—knowing themselves, - their strengths and their weaknesses, so they feel no need to boast, to draw attention to themselves, to claim the limelight.
Humility is a radical way of life, particularly in our age when social media allows us to show ourselves to the whole world, or at least to anyone willing to read our blogs or follow our Twitter feeds or view our Instagram account. Narcissism is rampant, fed by the endless clatter of “likes” on our photos or status updates. We can make ourselves into whatever image we like.
Paul calls us to a different path, to humility, to love, and to unity, “bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (2,3) If humility is in short supply these days, so are love and unity. We are a nation divided, in so many ways, even over something as simple as getting a life-saving vaccine. We have our “tribe,” and we too often consider those in another tribe to be our enemies.
Unfortunately, there are times when the church does not seem to be a witness to love and to unity in the face of such division. Mainline Protestants and evangelical Christians too often treat one another with disdain. If we cannot speak to those with whom we share a common Christian faith, then we are not a witness to Christian love or to Christian unity in a world that desperately needs both.
The foundation of our identity is in our common calling and our common proclamation: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (4 – 6)
In this chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes, “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
In this passage, Paul is focusing on leadership gifts, which of critical importance in the church. An apostle is a visionary leader, who inspires others. An evangelist leads by sharing the good news effectively, bringing new Christians into the church, and inspiring others to share their faith. Pastors and teachers help people know and understand what God says, and prophets help them apply God’s word to their situation.
The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his or her own hands, but of one who helps and encourages all God’s people to discover, develop and exercise their gifts. Their teaching and training are directed to enable the people of God to be a servant people, ministering actively but humbly according to their gifts in a world of alienation and pain.
It is important for people with leadership gifts and leadership roles to understand that they must use their gifts for the good of the body, not themselves. God gives leadership gifts to build up the entire body. If leaders fail to lead in a godly direction, the church will flounder, or go the wrong direction.
Some people say there is a crisis of leadership in the church, which may be true. There may also be a crisis of followership. If people refuse to listen to gifted, godly leaders, those leaders will be ineffective. Or, if leaders don’t listen to those they lead, they will also be ineffective. Leadership is a two-way street.
We are children of God, not because of anything we’ve done, not because of an image that we’ve carefully constructed for ourselves. We are children of God because Christ has claimed us as such. We are unified - not because we agree on everything, but because we have been called into this family of God together, united by this common witness: Jesus is Lord.
The basis of our unity is in God’s call; that is the advantage of the church over other groups. Unity does not mean that we think exactly alike or have the same preferences; we probably don’t. Unity is not based on whether people always act nice, or treat us with care, or play well with others. It is not based on age, or education, or social status, or political views. It is God who provides the basis for unity in the church. We are all called by God for a purpose. We share the same Lord and the same faith, and we share a relationship with God.
I suspect it is easy to talk about unity, but much harder to achieve . Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…” Then Paul lists four attitudes or actions that bring about unity.
Be humble. The church does not exist to please you. It is not about your status or recognition, or your influence. It is not about getting your way all the time. Of course, if you have wisdom to share, or a need to be met, or a legitimate concern, you should make that known. You are part of the body, and you have a role to play. But it is not all about you.
Be gentle. We have to learn how to talk to people in a way that they can accept. If we speak harshly, they might not be able to hear what we need to say to them. We are not responsible for their actions, but we are responsible for our communication.
Be patient. Don’t rush to judgment or give up quickly. As individuals and as a church community, growth takes time, and we may not see results immediately.
Bear with one another in love. Whether in the church, or work or family, there are times when we just have to cut people some slack. Why? Because we love them, God loves them, and it’s not worth making big deal about what they are doing.
The truth that we speak is God’s truth; it comes from “the Head, that is, Christ.” Prophets, evangelists, prophets and teachers have a special role in speaking God’s truth, and they should do so in love, to protect the church from false teaching.
Another kind of truth is also needed in the church. People need to hear the truth about their own lives. Sometimes the truth is affirmation and encouragement, and sometimes it is warning and even rebuke. That too is God’s truth, and it is specific to them. When someone needs to “speak the truth in love,” who is the best person to do that? Folks might say, “Somebody ought to tell them that what they are doing is wrong.” Who is that “somebody”?
In the church, people are inclined to say, “The pastor or the elders need to have a talk with them and point out the error of their ways.” Of course, the pastor and elders have a role to play sometimes. But the “first responder” when a person needs to hear the truth will probably not be a pastor or elder, but a friend.
If the focus is on “speaking the truth in love,” doesn’t it make sense that a person will hear the truth best from someone who is close to them, whom they know loves them greatly? A trusted friend, who knows the truth first-hand, is in the best position to speak the truth in love.
Truth without love is harsh, critical, or demeaning. Often it spills out without much thought or care, and it leaves bitterness in its wake. But also Love without truth avoids difficult truth, so as not to disturb or cause discomfort. Often, we are the ones who don’t want to be uncomfortable. Love without truth is not actually very loving, if a person needs honest feedback, or a situation needs to be changed. As Paul wrote Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body (4:25).
Because we are all united to Christ, we are also united to one another through Christ. This obligates us to treat one another as we would treat Christ himself, and as we ourselves want to be treated.
The idea is clear. We don’t walk worthy so that God will love us, but because He does love us. It is motivated out of gratitude, not out of a desire to earn merit. A worthy walk before God will be marked by lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda.
Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many it still does; but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way. It is characteristic of a forgiving, generous heart. We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God’s family will not work against God’s purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus.
Verse 16 says that the body of Christ functions on unity and love. The primary instrument for unity and love is truth. (Ephesians 4:15.)
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. We have unity because of what we share in common through Jesus. Each of these common areas is greater than any potential difference. We all have grace given to us according to the measure of Jesus’ gift through the free, unmerited giving of God. No one deserves or has earned spiritual gifts.
Each Christian has something to offer the body of Christ, and God decides what gifts to give each person. That is one reason why everybody in the church is important! If anyone is missing, the church is missing those gifts.
UNITY, BUILDING ON THE STRENGTHS OF ALL, and SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE. These are things that help us achieve God’s glorious goal: “...so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” AMEN
HYMN 507 Break now the bread of life
The Letter to the Ephesians challenges us to lead a life worthy of the calling we have in Christ Jesus, to practice humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. We offer these gifts to God along with the support for the ministry we undertake in Jesus’ name. Know that all your gifts contribute to building up the body of Christ.
God of power and possibility, bless the gifts we offer to you this day, and all our efforts to serve you and our neighbours in Jesus’ name. Use what we have and what we do to build up the ministry of Christ’s body, the church, in our congregation, our community and throughout the world you love. Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Almighty God in whom we live and move and have our being: As we gather in your presence today, we are aware of many challenges in our own lives,
in the lives of those we care about and in the world around us.
Thank you for your faithfulness to each of us and to your whole creation,
given all that we share and all the different situations we face.
Show us how our care and concern for the world and for each other
can respond to the needs we name before you today:
Loving God we lay before you the concerns on our hearts this day:
We pray for those who have been in the headlines lately,
for those situations in the world and in our country that concern us deeply,
and for all whose lives cry out to you and to us for help...
As temperatures rise in yet another hear wave we remember before you all the folks involved in agriculture. With no rain, crops are failing – food fro the nations, hay for the livestock. This creeping disaster affects all of us , not just the farmers and ranchers .
Once again cases of Covid are rising – not just in BC but across Canada and in other parts of the world. Variants complicate infections and those who dismiss the severity offer nothing in care or compassion in the way of help. We pray Lord that you will open ears, minds, and hearts so that the spread of infection quickly drops and health for all becomes the normal way of life.
We pray for those who are suffering in our community
and for those still struggling to overcome the effects of the pandemic:
those who are ill and those who are bereaved.
those struggling to make ends meet or find the right job.
those who are lonely
and those who are moving and in need of new friends…
We pray for the safety of people travelling this long weekend;
We pray for those looking forward to a new beginning this fall:
those hoping for a school year with fewer pandemic interruptions;
those starting at a new school or in a new college or university program;
those beginning new jobs or new activities;
those welcoming new members into the family through birth or marriage:
WE pray for all the children and adults who are beginning again to participate and enjoy both team and individual sports in the field, recreation facilities, gyms, As places like the Bowling Alley and later the ice arena and curling rink open once more, may the business managers, staff and the participants have a renewed joy and appreciation
As the number of wildfires continues to slowly drop, we know the intensity has not. We give thanks for all the fire fighters who have come from other places to help and give opportunity for those tired and weary to refresh before heading into active service once more. Protect all of these brave men and women in their safety and health. Encourage and give hope to all who are displaced and living on the edge of fear and uncertainty.
AS “rules” continue to rapidly change to ongoing circumstances give us patience and understanding so that all people may carry on with understanding and dignity. As time lengthens, we see so many escalating reports of people reacting with anger, destructive behaviors, self harm, Hold them close and instil a sense of hope and peace.
And loving God we lift to you the concerns of our hearts ………..
And our unspoken prayers fly up to you ……………
We pray for our congregation in a time of reorganizing after months of pandemic restrictions. Gather us in to new and renewed friendships. Help us see where you call us to reach out with your love and generosity. Equip us to meet every challenge we face with hearts full of faith and commitment
for we dare to pray in the way Christ taught us as his followers:
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 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, forever. Amen.
HYMN 775 Sent forth by your blessing
May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you today and always
SUNG BLESSING: Take O Take me as I am