Mirror, mirror on the wall
ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH
AUGUST 29th 2021
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
- Welcome to our worship on line. Thank you for your continued attendance with us as we worship in this way. For the next month, we will not be posting any videos of the service. Our videographer is on a long-delayed vacation, but as soon as that is over we will resume the videos. Peace be with you all.
- We welcome Rev. Shirley Cochrane to the pulpit today and thank her for leading and guiding our worship today. May God be glorified in this hour and through out the week ahead.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Holy God, you call us to worship.
In your presence, we seek truth and forgiveness.
Holy God, you call us to worship you.
In your presence, we seek the grace to forgive one another.
Holy God, you call us to worship you, heart, body, mind and soul.
So, we gather to offer you our prayer and praise with joyful thanks.
HYMN 814 Morning has broken
Prayer of Adoration
Faithful God, In the world of your creation, you made the seasons to change,
the sun to shine and the rain to fall, the vines to bear fruit and the fields to produce good things. You alone are our strength and security; you alone bring us rest and comfort.
We turn to you as the source of all life, marvelling at your wisdom,
seeking to learn your purpose for our lives. We offer you our praise and thanksgiving, for you are the God who made us, the Christ who mends us, and the Spirit who brings us life. Hear us now as we confess together …
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Faithful God, even though we know you are the
Source of our lives, we confess we often turn our
backs on you. We speak and think in ways that
deny our loyalty and love for you;
we ignore our own needs and the needs of others.
We harbour anger and say things that cause others pain.
In your mercy, restore us to right relationships with you
and with one another.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
While it is true that we have all sinned, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through God’s love in Jesus Christ. To all who humbly seek the mercy of God, I say, In Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven.
Be at peace with God, with yourself, and with one another.
The Peace of Christ be with you
HYMN 575 Lead me Lord [x2]
Lead me, Lord,
lead me in your righteousness;
make your way plain before my face,
for it is you, and you, God only,
who makes me to dwell in safety.
James 1: 17 -27
7 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
SERMON Mirror, mirror, on the wall
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit AMEN
Well James got me going on a tangent . Wow he doesn’t mince words and he’s very direct in his writing . But NO I got stuck on the word “mirror.” Looked up some history about mirrors. Apparently some archeologists have unearthed the use of polished rock about 8000 years ago as the foundation of looking at yourself.
The earliest known manufactured mirrors approximately 8000 years old have been found in modern-day Turkey. These were made from obsidian, a volcanic glass. Presumably looking in a pond seems like a clearer image of self and was more readily available to all. The discovery of glass-making allowed the Romans to manufacture the first glass mirror, in the first century AD. Although innovative, the metal-layered glass mirror, which was only about 7 cm in diameter, did not win the hearts of the people, as it did not have a very good reflection.
The first evidence of mirrors as grooming tools dates to the 5th century BC, in illustrations of elegant Greeks gazing at hand mirrors noted by illustrations found on antique pottery. Yet mirrors as we know that shiny item in our bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways are reasonably new to history. The invention of the silvered-glass mirror is credited to German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1835. His process involved the deposition of a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate. Voila !
But so much for history !. Back to James. This apostle doesn’t get all philosophical and technical - he tells you the way it really is. James challenges us a lot to put our faith into action. The intention of this writer is “to call to mind a way of life”-- together --for God’s purposes,-- even if many of the instructions seem aimed at individuals
We live in an age where people love to discuss, debate, and debunk the Word rather then believe it. But remember that Jesus never asked, “Do you agree with me?”, or “Does this sound reasonable to you?” He just said “Follow me.” “Obey.”
James point is that Faith is a choice, not a debate. James had become convinced of the necessity of belief. So had the disciples. We simply need to decide our attitude towards the Word.
The first key to discipleship is to Believe the Word. James bluntly says in verse 21: “...humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Believe it; accept it as true. It is already in you so with meekness let it take root, and give it room to grow. As the apostle John wrote his Gospel, he repeatedly hammers home the concept of belief. The gospel of John, in fact, is called the Gospel of Belief; Consider these verses: “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.” (14:11) “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (20:31) “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
We have two choices: we can choose to not believe attitude being ---if I’m wrong, then I’ll suffer the eternal consequences. Or, secondly , DO BELIEVE. If I’m wrong, I will at least have lived an abundant life. And if I’m right, this Word will save me. So I can spend my life waiting for proof to believe or I can believe and spend my life being the proof ! Accept Jesus’ words as true, and see what happens. This certainly smacks at our tendency to dissect, discuss, and dismantle the Word, especially when it says something we don’t like or understand.
Are you going to ponder or believe? Jay Kessler a former Chancellor and President of Taylor University, put this whole idea of belief in perspective. Someone once asked Jay, if he really believed that God could make a fish big enough to swallow a man - that in this day of such scientific knowledge and advancement, did he really believe this to be true? Jay replied, “Let me tell you, I not only believe that He can make a such a fish, the God who made the sun and the moon and the stars, if he wanted to, could air condition and carpet the fish!” Believe in the Word!
The second key to discipleship is to Apply the Word. James observes that many people, even well meaning people, listen intently to the Word - diligently study it and be anxious to hear it preached and taught; but they only deceive themselves. We may hear the Word and feel better; perhaps even look down in pride on others who don’t spend as much time in the Word we do; maybe we even feel uncomfortable if we miss church on a given Sunday. But what do we do with what we hear? If the Word says to repent, do we repent? If it instructs us to tithe, do we tithe? If it commands us to forgive and to love, do we forgive and love? Just hearing the Word just doesn’t cut it !
James states that we are to keep “from being polluted by the world.” (27) And it’s not as hard as it sounds - if we are speaking well, and serving compassionately, the evil of the world will have a tough time getting into us. The more we serve, the more we love, the more we usher in the Kingdom, and the less we’re stained by the world.
Intentional hearing is the key. The question is, “What does this say to me, and about me? Instead of letting the Word go in one ear and out the other I must make sure it travels into my heart and mind and leads to obedience. So here is the word that derailed my attention ! Mirror !
James illustrates it this way: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed.” (23-25) We are to see ourselves in the mirror of Scripture as God would have us see ourselves; and we must ask questions about what we see to apply it to our lives.
How much time do you spend in front of the mirror? How often do you look in the mirror? What do you do with what you see there? James, in discussing discipleship, uses the mirror as his key image. In trying to encourage the persecuted believers to be faithful, loyal disciples, James reminds them of the keys to discipleship. Those keys remain the same for us today.
Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commands.”( john 14:15) There is no clearer statement than this. If we say we have faith but do not obey, we are like the person who looks at their natural face in the mirror and then forgets what they look like.
James informs us that we must then move from the mirror to the marketplace, from where we hear, believe, and apply the Word to where we live. When we do, James says the first impact will be that we will be blessed.
Obedience requires effort. Effort is not always fun and I think that’s why we like to stress “faith” more than “obedience.” James tells us that the one who looks into the perfect law of liberty and perseveres, he will be blessed in what he does. The Law is not meant to be a burden. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:28).” The Law is to set us free from our sinful nature. This means that if you say you have faith but not works, you are deceiving yourselves and your faith is not genuine. Furthermore, if you are not living for God’s perfect Law, you will not be blessed.
James holds up a mirror so that we can reflect on whether or not our actions betray what we know in our heads. Therefore , we must mind the gap between knowledge and wisdom
Now James is getting a lot more in your face This is some of the best relationship advice you will ever receive. 1. Be quick to listen, 2. be slow to speak, and 3. be slow to become angry. One of the areas in which James tells us to apply God's Word is in our demeanor towards others.
Listen… It might be easier to first focus on being quick to listen. Don't jump to conclusions. Don't have a short fuse. Instead, decide to listen patiently and readily. Listen with your mouth closed and your attention on what they are saying before you voice your reply to them. When someone is quick to hear, it means they are willing to carefully listen and analyze what others are saying.
Slow to speak doesn’t mean to remain silent; it just means to listen more and talk less. Most of us would rather talk than listen. Talking makes us the centre of attention. It increases the likelihood of our point of view predominating. And we think it raises our status in the group. But James stood all this on its head. He indicated that the way of Christ involves listening more than talking. Listening provides the opportunity to truly understand the others who are part of the conversation , before even thinking about speaking.
Think of Jesus. His disciples would ask him a question, and Jesus would respond back with a question. He made them “think”, talk less and listen more.
I suspect James knew that listening to others can sometimes lead to frustration and anger arising in our hearts.Anger is an emotion that can be hard to control. Is there something dark inside of us causing our anger? It might be jealousy, envy, or even a fear of rejection. Anger has a way of shutting down conversations which need to continue and voices which need to be heard.
Be honest with yourself and ask God to cure you from the inside out and allow you to truly be a doer of these verses: to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. The problem with anger is rooted in personal opinions, points of view and preferences. Sometimes it is rooted in past difficult situations and we are just hanging on to baggage which should have been jettisoned years ago
However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can practice the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Allowing the holy spirit to navigate our desires will keep the tongue controlled and out of trouble. It is then that we are giving ourselves much time to change our angry response.
As James clearly states, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” While it is possible to be angry at sin, fight for justice, and seek honor, this type of anger is self-controlled and channeled to the proper authorities.
On the other hand, James is talking about a type of anger that is uncontrollable and unwise, which tends to happen more often than righteous anger. Because anger is such a big issue in relationships, he reminded his beloved brothers and sisters that human anger does not produce divine righteousness
James states “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (26) Does your speech break down or build up? Discourage or encourage? Drive away or invite? Do your words defame Christ or honor Him? Recall that even Jesus said that we would be judged for every idle, inappropriate word. And while James says much more about the tongue later in this letter, his basic thrust here is to reiterate that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. Religion, as it is usually defined, is not as important to God as it is to people
The term sounds institutionalized and impersonal. It sounds like it’s about rituals and to-do lists rather than relationship and love. Yet that’s not what religion should look like – God agrees. Being a religious person should be about loving God and loving people, having faith and putting it into action.
Religion that is pure and undefiled is to visit orphans and widows in distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world. I believe Paul mentions these two classes of people because they are vulnerable, needy, and aren’t able to give anything else in return. They are some of Jesus’ “least of these ! When one devotes their time and energy to the most vulnerable, they are showing sacrificial love. This type of unconditional love is exactly who God is.
God is not looking for a bunch of people trying to look "holier than thou" but not actually acting in love. Instead, James says, the type of religion that God accepts as pure is to care for others and keep oneself following God with diligence. Love God and love others
Yep these verses are easier said than done. I struggle with this too, as do many of you, I'm sure. Here's my challenge to all of us: Don't just look at that last part: slow to become angry. That seems like hardest one. But I think James is giving us a three-part process.
Of course, even when we try our hardest to apply Scripture and do what it says, we continue to struggle in our sinful nature here on earth. We won't do it perfectly, but God honors our attempt and our willingness to change. That is truly what James is calling us to do. You see, all of us know that faith is clearly taught in God’s word.
He wants us to decide that we are going to put our faith into action.
James is using this as an example to make a pretty powerful statement: If we consider ourselves religious but then do not live out these basic commandments of Scripture - like watching our words - our religion is worthless. Wow!
This is how Christians get a reputation for being hypocrites. It is easy to know what the Bible says about a lot of things. We encourage others to live according to our knowledge, but fail to do so ourselves.
Walking” suggests that all we do is a lifelong journey in God’s company. What is “right” refers to the quality of relationships fostered by our behavior. We listen, we hold our tongue, we temper our anger so that we can do what God wants us to do rather than walk in the ways of the world unthinkingly.
James' main message is one we should always remember: Don't just study God's Word but apply it to your life! Are you living the active life? Can you see yourself in the mirror - as God sees you? Now what? There is a Word implanted in you which can save you. Jesus calls you to be a disciple - to believe, apply, and act. Now what? You are to do more than simply hear - be a doer according to God’s word
Mirror, mirror, on the wall - teach us discipleship first of all. AMEN
HYMN 9 God’s law is perfect
- God's law is perfect and converts
the soul in sin that lies:
God's testimony is most sure
and makes the simple wise.The statutes of the Lord are right
and do rejoice the heart:
the Lord's command is pure, and doth
light to the eyes impart.3. Unspotted is the fear of God
and ever doth endure:
the judgements of the Lord are true
together, right and sure.4. They more than gold, yea much fine gold,
to be desired are
than honey, honey from the comb
that droppeth, sweeter far.5. Moreover, they thy servants warn
how they their life should frame:
a great reward provided is
for them that keep the same.
Words and music Public Domain CCLI 11394548
The Letter of James records that every generous act comes from God. So let our offering today reflect God’s generosity and our gratitude for every gift we have received through God’s faithfulness.
Great is your faithfulness, O God, and so we offer to you a portion of what we have received through your unfailing goodness. Bless these gifts and our lives, so that your love is proclaimed to the world through all we accomplish in the name of Jesus Christ, our Friend and Saviour. Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God of Word and Wisdom, send your Spirit upon us today
as we hear the scriptures read and interpreted.
Help us be doers of your Word, not mere listeners,
so that our lives reflect the truth we meet in Jesus Christ, your living Word.
God whose Word created life,
we give you thanks for the abundance we enjoy from earth’s goodness.
Make us wise caretakers of the earth’s fragile balance,
so vulnerable to drought and disaster.
May your world become a place of abundance for all your creatures,
for we know all our lives depend on you.
God of transforming love,
we are grateful to live in a land which is mostly peaceful,
with leaders accountable for their decisions. Guide all in the coming Federal election that your will be done
We pray for those who suffer from the burdens of racism, violence and greed
in our communities and in many other nations.
Open hearts and minds to recognize abuse and exploitation,
and help us build a common life where all people find dignity in their work,
are rewarded fairly and respected fully.
God of vigilant care,
thank you for the strength and comfort you offer us
in times of sorrow and stress.
We pray for those who do not know security in their lives day by day,
for those facing violence at home or on the streets,
for the vulnerable who must depend on others for their care,
and for those who experience unpredictable acts of hate or manipulation.
We pray fro the horrendous situation in Afghanistan --for the fear and terror experienced by the citizens as they face the undisguised manipulation of the Taliban militants. We pray for the foreign governments including our own as they try to evacuate all who need reinstatement, safety and comfort in their own countries
We pray that people experiencing isolation, mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts will feel a strong sense of God’s presence, comfort and healing.
Guide us to shape a society where violence is not tolerated,
where the weak are protected, where the elderly are honoured for their experience,
and children are cherished for their gifts.
Today we pray for all the community volunteers For the folks involved in the Service Clubs, for the Seniors Activity Center’s .We especially give thanks to all who have put together the “city within the city” encampment as a place for the firefighters in the Wildfire Service to come – sleep, relax and restore themselves in order that they can go back to the dangerous work they do .Lord hold them all in safety and health to the end and beyond this frightful time of fire.
God of all times and places, as the summer moves toward autumn,
and activities must reorganize while the coronavirus is still present,
we pray for families who face decisions about schooling,
and churches and organizations trying to make wise choices.
Equip us all with the wisdom we need to plan well,
and act with understanding for those eager to get things going
and for those anxious or reluctant to move too quickly.
Loving and gracious God we lift to you those whom we have shared our thoughts about ……………
God who hears our desires even in the silence of our hearts,
listen now as we name before you the people and situations on our minds today:
Receive all our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who taught us to pray together, saying:
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 626 Lord of all power
Lord we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles – especially James today who teaches us through your word . May we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the holy Spirit .May the grace of God , the love of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit rest upon you today and always
CLOSING SONG May the peace of Christ
Online: Take O Take me as I am