Mission inward and outward (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
- Bible Study: Growing through life's changes, will begin on Wed October 21 (7 pm in the Sanctuary) and continue for 6 weeks until Nov 25. It will then resume for 6 more weeks in January. Date to be determined. Please bring a Bible.
- Looking further ahead at St Andrew's: - our next Communion will be the 1stSunday of Advent November 29th. - This years Christmas Eve Service will an evening service beginning at 7 pm. - Plans are underway for a New Years Eve service of Hope; so stay tuned for more to come on that.
- We are very happy that the Children's Choir under the direction of Natalia Stoney will resume on Tuesdays.
- Congratulations to Porter and Kyndra Johnson (two of the founding members of the St. Andrew's Children's Choir) and "The Dixie Fried Hep Katz" who just cut their first CD. May God bless your vocal endeavors.
CALL TO WORSHIP
you call us to turn away from our own selfish interests,
to take up our cross, and to follow you.
To find our lives,
may we live them in service of your mission.
As we come before you this morning,
give us open hearts and open hands.
Make us eager to hear your voice
and seek your guidance.
*Open our minds to your ever-present spirit
that is always moving within and around us
Open our spirits to your nudging
and open our lives to your love.
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
You reveal yourself in Jesus, your Beloved Child
who gives us a glimpse your glory
and invites us to share in the unity of all that is Holy:
the holiness that is You, your creation, your people,
united in the Spirit that breaks through all boundaries of fear and injustice.
Meet us here today, O Unity, and teach us to be one:
One in love for each other
One in understanding with all who find in Jesus the Way to You
One in peace with all who find other paths to your Truth.
We ask all this in the name of Jesus, whose fervent prayer was ever:
“May they all be one.”
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
We confess before you and all people:
We have been unworthy servants.
We have misused and abused the creation.
We have wounded one another by divisions everywhere.
We have often failed to take decisive action
against all those things that hurt your earth and your people.
We have failed to show by our love that you love the world.
*We have failed to bring your hurting people into the peace of your salvation.
In all this, we have fallen short as disciples of Jesus Christ
who in his incarnation came to save us and teach us how to love.
Forgive us, God, and teach us to forgive one another.
God, in your grace, transform the world. Amen
Assurance of Pardon
The Lord has given to us gifts and abilities to work for peace and justice. The Lord has given us the love of Jesus with which to love one another.
The Lord has given us a calling and a purpose in Christ. To love as we have been loved. To forgive as we have been forgiven.
All of this is ours in Jesus Christ. Glory be to God.
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
1 Corinthians 10: 23- 11:1
SERMON: Mission inward and outward
It is a perennial dilemma in the Church: do you take care of your own, or do you take care of the world?
Truly the only answer to that question is YES. Yes you take care of your own, and yes, you take care of the world.
We have known situations where congregations become so inwardly focused that it leads to their downfall. It could be that they are divided by strife, and the unresolved conflicts lead to a lack of love in the congregation, which makes the love that they bring to the world suspect.
Or, as happens far too often, congregations who struggle with growth and finances turn their entire focus inwardly and try to take care of themselves only. They are no longer generous in their offering, and they don’t think of giving or working to bring God’s love into the community. I remember talking with an elder of one such congregation who met someone on the street and was asked how he was. “He replied he was very busy working in the little congregation, but that it was a struggle.” The friend replied, “oh I thought they closed long ago.”
When he spoke of that conversation at the Presbytery meeting, he expressed how this conversation shocked him. How could people think the congregation had been closed?
The truth is that the congregation had turned it’s entire focus onto what they needed for themselves and keeping the money they had to met their needs, and without any subsequent activity in the community--for the community they had ceased to exist.
So in either case, a congregation that doesn’t love itself, has lost effective witness, and a congregation only focused on itself, has lost a connection with the world around them.
Neither is a healthy congregation.
What is a healthy congregation?
In 1 Corinthians Paul reminds us that a healthy congregation respects and loves one another, and takes into account the spiritual needs of everyone in the congregation and the community.
That includes things like:
- Not seeking your own advantage, but the best for the others
- Having good relationships with the unbelievers in your community
- Doing everything for the glory of God
- Giving no offense to anyone in the community or to anyone in the church.
That is a tough challenge. We may be wondering how we can accomplish that whole list.
Not seeking your own advantage, but the best of others.
This advice to the church does not mean that we will never have disagreements. None of us has ever had a relationship in which we have never had a disagreement. Children defy parents and parents lose patience with children. Husbands and wives have disagreements. Neighbours object to one another’s dog walking practices, occasional loud parties, or the lack of lawn mowing. This happens because none of us is perfect.
Yet all of these are conflicts that can be resolved and overcome. Indeed the manner in which we handle that speaks volumes about our love for God and our love for one another. What ever the disagreement and who is right and who is wrong, or if both are at fault, the solution is to “build one another up”. The church is called to judge themselves in these situations and to make decisions that allow the gospel to have an impact on others.
When that happens we are not offensive to one another.
Or as Paul puts it: all things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.
I may have told you the story of Areni and Peter who when planning their wedding had a huge problem to overcome. One of them came from a family who enjoyed a glass of wine, but would never ever consider dancing as acceptable behaviour. The other came from a family that enjoyed dancing, but would never touch alcohol.
How did they resolve this situation? By deciding to have wine with the meal and a dance following the meal and everyone was free to make their own choices. A compromise that didn’t please everyone, but not having each of those things would not have pleased everyone either.
But what do you do when the decisions you make are crucial to another person’s well-being either physically or spiritually?
Many congregations don’t offer wine with communion for the sake of those who cannot drink, or who are opposed to drinking. A congregation where a friend of mine is minister puts apple juice in the chalice for her because she is allergic to alcohol, and as the must on grape skins is present even grape juice she can’t even have that. We offer only gluten free bread, because of my severe reactions to gluten. These are steps taken to care for one another both physically and spiritually and it conforms with Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, regarding eating meat from the market place.
What was that issue?
Meat purchased in the market place would have previously been offered to idols. This caused problems with both Greek converts and Jewish converts, but for different reasons.
The Corinthian church was known for its disputes around the meals they shared following worship. The rich went straight to the “lower hall” and ate, while the servant class that had to work and arrived later to find only scraps. Paul frequently called them to task for the unloving nature of these meals which destroyed fellowship. And that wasn’t the only problem.
Greek converts, especially those whose faith was very new would be alarmed about eating meat that may have been offered to a god they used to worship. What if it meant that they didn’t honour and respect Jesus by eating? A real problem.
For Jewish converts to eat meat at these dinners challenged something that had always been at the root of their faith, eating unclean meats. The meat that came from the market, had not be correctly slaughtered and hence rendered unclean, and/or it was pork or other meat declared unclean so if was doubly troublesome. For some this challenged the very core of their faith.
Paul says, that for the sake of all, if you learn that it has been a sacrifice don’t eat it for the sake of the conscience of the one who pointed it out. What he is saying is: what you eat in your own home do according to your own belief, but what you eat when together with other believers do according to the principle of strengthening the faith of one another.
So that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, says Paul, do for the glory of God.
To be clear, to glorify God, act with respect and love for all who are gathered among you.
So the mission IN the church is to build one another up in faith. To respect one another for where they are in their faith journey. Grow together in love for one another, by acting in loving ways, whether you agree on a principle or not. And above all remember this is about Christ Jesus, crucified and risen. This is about the one who died for your sins and my sins and who loves us even though none of us is perfect. So, let us love one another as a sign that we love God.
That same respect will also inform the ways in which we interact with the world around us.
Paul says, When you are invited to eat at the table of an unbeliever, eat whatever is set before you without raising any questions.
In some congregations in our day this would be a situation that may never arise. Many of us do not know people outside of the Christian circles we inhabit.
How often are we invited to meals with a person of another faith? How often are we invited to a meal with people who are atheists, or agnostics, or who practice a version of spirituality unique to them.?
For some it is every family dinner where the rules are: don’t talk about religion. Or politics. Or whatever other topic will start a fight at the table.
So yes, we show our respect and love by avoiding argumentative topics, but we can’t not bring God with us. How do we still share God’s love and keep fellowship and love at the family or public table?
Every Monday I zoom for dinner with two friends from High School. One has no faith, no real problem with God, just doesn’t care. The other speaks about having faith, but has a real problem with the church, so she won’t worship anywhere.
Yet we still talk about the work that I do. The upcoming things in the congregation that I am excited about, the plans I have for Christmas. Just like we talk about how Wendy held a physically distanced play on the porch of Langham court theatre. Or how Susan advocates for the physically disabled, or the difficulties she has a driver for dialysis patients. We share our lives, but I don’t force them to consider accepting Jesus every week. I respect them, enjoy their company and share my love for God as I talk about my week and leave it there. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the rest.
Or as Paul puts it: Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many so that they may be saved.
And that is the point. I once visited an elderly couple and we often talked about God. Their granddaughter noticed my name on the couple’s anniversary party guest book. She wanted to understand how I was friends with them when they wouldn’t let her even visit them if she talked about Jesus. “All I want to do, she said, is to make them understand that they have to accept Jesus.” The fact she wasn’t allowed to speak about Jesus was perhaps a sign that how she was sharing Jesus was offensive to her grandparents. For her this was a heartbreaking reality. For those of us who face that reality with our own family and friends, I simply want to echo Paul’s advice, give no offense but love them as Christ loves them. Pray for them, which is the greatest gift you can give to them.
Gorman reminds us that to speak the truth about Christ Jesus is to take the word from within the confines of the church. To do this is the activity to which we are called. But we are reminded that we are to speak that word with love and respect as well as with boldness.
Gorman points out that to live worthily of the Gospel and to speak for the glory of God, what we do and what we say to those in the world must be done with love.
But just because people may not be ready to accept Jesus, doesn’t mean that we stop going, doing, loving and speaking.
We are called to be deliberate about showing the love that comes from our relationship with Christ. We are called to be publicly visible in what we do and how we speak for Christ. We are called to be politically relevant as we live a life of servant love.
Do we do that?
Oh yes, we do. The HOPE garden, the monthly mission offerings they show our love for God and community. They also show our political relevancy as we tackle some of the greatest needs in our world at this time: food security, refugees, the homeless, aid for developing countries unable to keep their people safe in a pandemic, and care for women seeking a life free of violence.
And one day, we will be able to do so with more than our heart and our wealth, we will again go into the public and dwell among them in servant love as we steadfastly bear witness and embody the message that God has come into the world in Christ Jesus because he loves everyone. As we care for those in pain, or hunger, or their homelessness we demonstrate God’s love.
In this way we will fulfill our whole calling: to love God, love the church and love the world. And we will do so for the glory of God. Amen
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 of grace,
together we turn to you in prayer,
for it is you who unite us:
you are the one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –
in whom we believe,
you alone empower us for good,
you send us out to each other to build your church
in strength and in compassion, then across the earth
in mission and service in the name of Christ, gathering in all those who seek to be loved as we are loved.
We give thanks for your blessings and signs of hope
that are already present in the world,
in people of all ages and in those who have gone before us in faith;
in the deep and open dialogues that have begun
both within our own churches and with those in the world
in the search for mutual understanding and respect;
in all those working together for justice and peace –
both in exceptional circumstances and every day.
We thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ,
and the assurance of resurrection.
We thank you, for the signs of your joy breaking forth among us:
God, in your grace, transform the world.
God, hear the cries of all creation,
the cries of the waters, the air, the land and all living things;
the cries of all who are exploited, marginalized, abused and victimized,
all who are dispossessed and silenced, their humanity ignored,
all who suffer from any form of disease,
Hear our prayers for the people and places in our hearts, both near and far away
God, in your grace, transform the world.
By the power and guidance of your Holy Spirit, O God,
may our prayers never be empty words
but an urgent response to your living Word –
readily sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
Open our hearts to love
and to see that all people are made in your image,
Transform us in the offering of ourselves
so that we may be your partners in transformation
to strive for the full, visible unity
of the one Church of Jesus Christ,
to become neighbours to all,
as we await with eager longing
the full revelation of your rule
in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.
In the confidence of that coming we join with Jesus in prayer, saying, Our Father…. Amen
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
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!