Participation and Mission
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us!
Entry of the Bible
- We welcome Rev. Ena Van Zoeren to the pulpit today and pray that God will lead and guide each one of us, as we come to worship this morning; thank you Ena for your ministry among us.
- Just a reminder that this months Loonie offering is going to "Doctors Without Borders" (see Recent Posts for more info). $94 was collected in the Loonie Jar last week and $400 was given directly; so thank you all for a great response so far.
- The year to date totals for the loonie offerings is; $2301 which is an exceptional response, praise the Lord for your generosity.
- The fall Bible study on 1 Peter will begin on October 7th and we will be meeting in the sanctuary of the Church
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.
May we not only worship you, but be filled with you
so that we may live in the fullness of your calling.
HYMN: 371 Love divine all loves excelling (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Father God, Your extravagant love has called us together.
Long before we even knew You, You already knew us,
and had chosen us to be part of Your own family—
sisters and brothers with our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
What amazing love You have shown toward us!
And so we come before You with praise and thanksgiving,
offering You the worship of our hearts and lives,
and opening ourselves to the prompting and leading of Your Holy Spirit.
Receive our worship—our praise and prayers and offerings—
through the intercession of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.
May the time we spend here in Your presence and the lives we live in your
world bring honour and glory to Your Name.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
In the lives of neighbors who suffer brokenness and pain:
We confess you are still speaking!
In the struggle of the poor whose rights are not honored:
We confess you are still speaking!
In a world crying out for wisdom, love and mercy:
We confess you are still speaking!
In a world calling for the blessing of truth:
We confess you are still speaking! Bless us to hear!
*We confess that in our lives we often hide behind
our work and play, schools and jobs, fun and fashion.
We let ourselves get so busy
that we forget the cause of the poor and the suffering.
We confess we allow the powers of this world
to seduce us into selfishness and silence our witness.
Teach us to champion the cause for justice for all, strengthen us
to love our neighbor and speak truth no matter the penalty. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
The Word of God assures us
that we are able to love through the Spirit of Christ.
Let us go from this place with authority,
knowing that God’s Word gives us strength
to love our neighbors near and far
and power to speak up for those who are broken.
Thanks to the Word of God!
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
HYMN ATBS I will sing of the mercies
2 Corinthians 5: 11-21
Romans 1: 14-17
SERMON: Participation and Mission
There is a saying attributed to anonymous, which begins with these words:
The church of God does not have a mission.
Sit with that a moment.
How does that thought affect you?
Do you agree?
If the church doesn’t have a mission, then what is the church called to do or be?
Ah, but I said that it starts with those words. That isn’t the whole statement; although I admit when I first read it, I sat up in alarm. What do you mean the church doesn’t have a mission? Isn’t that what we talk about all the time?
But then the truth of the whole statement, started to make sense. Listen, hopefully more carefully than I initially read it.
The church of God does not have a mission—the mission of God has a church.
Makes sense when you read it this way. As a church we do not get to pick and choose our mission, our mission is the whole of the mission of God. Sometimes God will call us to take up a portion of his mission, but it nevertheless is not our mission.
Everything that we do, from prayer to activism; from pastoral and witnessing conversations to feeding the hungry; from worship to welcoming refugees—everything that we do in response to God, is God’s mission.
We, as Christians, are engaged in God’s mission.
We see that truth in the reading from Corinthians, where Paul writes that he is not an apostle of his own accord—BUT by the will of God.
Everything that we are, everything that we do or say is about teaching and showing people the love of God.
As much as I talk about our call to mission from the pulpit, it is not about me telling you to do more or be more. This is not, about us being told what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. It is about us exploring what God is calling forth from us as we discern his will for our lives. That being said: I admit that I have a preacher’s heart and I always want us to be growing in our response to God’s call to mission.
And we do and we are.
We can see the evidence that the message of the cross is the love that captures our hearts and minds. That message is the story of how much God loves us all.
Too often people look at God as the God that demands things from us. You shall not do this. You shall do this. Watch out for the penalties of disobedience.
The penalties of disobedience are real. And they had to be paid. But that is the biggest part of the mercy in God’s love. Those penalties were paid by Jesus.
That makes it possible for us to simply respond to God’s love with an eagerness to share that love. Many of us may have encountered those “God is going to get you preachers”; whose sole message is that God is waiting to punish you.
When we take up God’s mission then the message we share, is that in Jesus God reveals his love, his mercy, his compassion and sets us free to see ourselves in a new way. This is a message that we cannot keep to ourselves.
Yet as we read Paul, we see that this message is more often shown by us than spoken by us.
Gorman in his book suggests that the reason that Paul stresses living the gospel more than speaking the gospel is because our speaking the gospel is a “given”.
Gorman puts it this way: Christians are like a dog who cannot help but bark.
Dogs bark simply by virtue of being dogs, and they don’t need to be instructed to do so.
Dogs bark on their own.
They bark for joy, when their person comes home, or when playing.
The bark to warn when they are alarmed or disturbed.
Sometimes they bark hesitantly and sometimes aggressively.
But in everything they do, dogs bark.
Dogs barking can be seen in the ways in which they serve. Like Lassie, who comes running barking every time Timmy falls in a well. Or like a service alert dog who can be trained to see the evidence that a seizure, or low blood sugar is coming, or to bring a deaf person to a ringing doorbell.
Gorman points out that Paul wants his communities to be barking in a manner that is appropriate to the communicative task at hand. I think in our day, we put it that that people should walk the walk, rather than just talking the talk.
St. Francis said, Go and preach the gospel and if necessary, use words.
Yet we are compelled to use words, after all we are a verbal people. Paul says that we are eager to proclaim the gospel because we are indebted.
Not in the way you might think.
Yes, we owe God a debt of gratitude, but Paul says that we are indebted to Greek and Barbarian, and to wise and foolish.
Eugene Peterson in the Message translated that truth this way: Everyone I meet—it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple—deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation. And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God.
Everyone we meet is a reminder of the love of God for us, and for them. Everyone we meet is a person who is loved by God and a brother or sister in Christ we have not yet met.
Just like dogs think that everyone is a long lost friend.
In that same way, Christians speak about the love of God, and yet they, like dogs show that love in a host of ways.
Dogs wag their tails.
Slobber all over your face.
Play endless games of fetch.
Sit on your foot and generally get as close to you as they possibly can.
Christians, sit with you to cry. We laugh with you when you are celebrating.
We bring food when you are hungry, or grieving, or injured.
We bring you into shelter when you are homeless, or provide blankets and furniture after a fire.
We bring water to the thirsty, visit the sick, bring freedom to the prisoner.
We embrace you when you are sorrowing, and lift you up when you fall down.
There is a hymn that says: Jesus hands were kind hands, doing good to all, healing pain and sickness, blessing children small. Washing tired feet, and saving those who fall. Jesus hands were kind hands doing good to all.
What would happen to the ways in which we live out God’s mission if our prayer was to have hands like Jesus? Or a heart like Jesus?
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded that the righteousness of God is foundational to who we are and to what we do. Why? Because in Jesus Christ, we are the righteousness of God.
For this reason, for us faith is about much more than believing or thinking.
Faith is trusting in God in a participatory way. Faith is about assenting to that relationship in the ways in which we live our lives.
When we engage in the mission of God we do so in a response of faith, trusting God that by our full participation we, and the world around us, will be transformed into the likeness of God. When we live our faith as well as speak our faith then we fulfill our calling to be participants in salvation.
Gorman reminds us that God’s mission is to liberate humanity, which he accomplished through the sin defeating and life giving death and resurrection of Jesus.
For us to be in Christ is to be participants in that salvation. We take up God’s mission to liberate humanity by living among them and for them in a way that transforms and convinces so that we bring renewed character and community.
We need to reframe our understanding of mission. We need to embrace the understanding that the church of God does not have a mission; but rather the mission of God has a church.
A reframing of our understanding of participatory mission broadens our understanding of salvation.
God’s broad desire is salvation for all. God wants life, faith, hope, and love for all. Christ died on the cross for all.
Peace and reconciliation are the gifts of God for all. When we say peace be with you, we also need to be acting in accordance with the prophetic understanding of justice for all. Otherwise our words are meaningless.
That is difficult because it can require more from us than we are comfortable with giving.
There is a story told, true or not, of a man who had been taught that when he was baptised he would be giving his all to God. In his baptism he held his wallet out of the water.
I have already shared with you the story of one of the elders in a previous congregation who could not bear to look at the offering plates on the table, and so to make her comfortable the congregation hid the plates.
Participating in the mission of God really means that nothing is held back.
For some it is wealth that they struggle with freely giving to God, but for others it is any other of a number of things. Some of us withhold time from God, doling out our service in little bits. Some of us are willing to love certain people, but declare we don’t love others. Or forgive.
Whatever it is that we withhold from our baptismal response to God, is that thing that holds us back from full participation in the kingdom.
We are called to remember that ultimately when we participate in the mission of God, we participate in the glory of God. We are reminded that God does not hold back even the smallest part of his kingdom from us.
So as we journey in the understanding that the mission of God has a church, we are encouraged to remember that our participation in that mission does not come from our initiative. Our participation in God’s mission is our response to what God has already done for us in Christ.
No strings attached. No withholding anything. No bargaining about what we are willing to give or to do. This may require giving up our preconceived notions, our prejudices and our own desires, as we bring our will into alignment with God.
Being the church that responds to God’s mission is a realization that we already have full salvation, full grace, full mercy, full righteousness, and simply letting all that flow through us with love.
As we continue to read our way through Paul we will discover that Paul expected the salvation of God to spread around the world by means of the participation of the people. We participate in the mission of God by becoming the gospel and bringing that gospel to the world through proclamation, practice and suffering.
The church of God does not have a mission—the mission of God has a church.
Let us go and be the church.
HYMN: 765 We’ve a story to tell to the nations
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
Living God, as the resurrection of your Son transform our lives, make us bold in serving you and bringing your good news to other people.
Help us to share of ourselves and our possessions with one another and especially with people in need.
This day, and all days, O God, take our hands and let them work for you. Make them strong and gentile, kind in all that we do. Let us watch Jesus until our hands are gentle like his; till our hands are kind hands, quick to work for you and to spread your love.
So take, we pray, what we have brought today, our lives of service, our wealth and talents, our hearts and compassion and multiply what we have brought so that your mission will be seen in all that we do.
GATHERING PRAYER REQUESTS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God of our life, our everlasting, never ending hope; by your great will and power you have created and sustained the vast and unfathomable universe. In the midst of all this greatness and splendour, you have set us, creatures in Your own image! By your grace you have called us to serve you and to be your people. In your love and mercy you have chosen and laid hold on us, to be a light in darkness! Teach us, O God, your ways. Help us, each day to turn aside and to listen for you, and to study your word, and to pray to you, so that we might live as your people, and give ourselves - all we are and all we have – in obedience to your will – so that we might have strength and hope - peace and joy - and so that we might be able to impart these to others in your name....
So as your people called to live in your joy and the richness of your kingdom, we come to you with praise.
We thank you for:
God, so many people are in need. We pray for them as we pray for ourselves.
God, our healer, we pray for those who are sick,
and for those who look after them.
For Lisa Green, starting chemo
The doctors nurses and staff in all areas of health care, may they serve you in what the do for the health and comfort of patients. Keep them strong in you.
We pray for those who are full of dread and anxiety, who don’t know where to turn for help. Show them the people of your kingdom, who you cause to live so that they impact others lives with faith, love and hope.
Those who are near fires, in the path of tropical storms. Help them in the midst of difficulty and fear to make wise decisions that will help secure their own wellbeing. Help to reduce the destruction, and where there is destruction grant the courage and strength to rebuild.
God, our consoler, we pray for those who are sorrowful,
and for those who have been bereaved. We thank you for those who have been able to gather in worship during grief and found your comfort. For those who cannot yet gather, gather them into your arms and comfort them with the peace of your spirit.
We pray for those exhausted by the demands of work or caring for others. On the days they feel as if they have no more to give, fill them with your strength and your power.
And for those who turn to you for new strength...
And we pray for those who are hungry, may they find the aid they need
those who are without a home, we ask you to find them a home, or show them that the road to the home they left leads to a prodigals welcome. We ask you to care over Alison and to direct her footsteps in paths of safety
those who live under the threat of war or civil unrest that leads to harm.
O God, we pray for the concerns and the individuals whom you have placed upon our hearts this day. Hear now the prayers that rise from our midst....
Stuart/Rennie orchard, make sale possible
refugees fleeing camps where fires have been set. Help them to find permanent homes.
we ask these things through Christ Jesus your Son, our Lord, our brother, and our friend, who taught us to pray, 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,
HYMN 372 Praise him, praise him
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!