The Cosmic Drama: Liberation and Reconciliation
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us!
Entry of the Bible
- This morning we welcome back Rev. Ena Van Zoeren from holidays and look forward to her leading us in worship today; may God bless and instruct us all and so be glorified.
The Red Cross is seeking volunteers. There is a poster on the bulletin board.
There will be a touch-less communion service at St. Andrews on Sunday Oct 4th. You will pick up your communion cup and wafer at the check in desk and open it at the appropriate part of the service. For those of you who still don't feel comfortable coming to worship there will be options on the website to enable you to participate. There will be a video of the communion service posted along with the sermon. If you are unable to view the video, the printed prayers will be there as well. All you will need is to have some juice and bread ready.
In October there will be a Fall Bible Study based on 1 Peter: finding encouragement in troubling times. There are a limited number of workbooks, so please one copy per household. Your option is to study one lesson per week until early Dec, or as makes more sense for you and your family.
- Septembers Loonie offering is going to "Doctors without Borders"; check out the "Recent Posts" to the right of your screen to see how you can help.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Pour out your Spirit upon us as we gather, God of our salvation:
so your grace might strengthen us for service;
so your peace might calm our troubled souls;
so your hope might mend our broken hearts.
You poured out your life that we might be filled with the gift of salvation.
You humbled yourself that we might be raised to eternal life.
Take hold of our hands, Servant of the world, so we might cross
the finish line together.
*You are in our midst, Spirit of wholeness. You enabled us
to cling to faith, when hope runs through our fingers like sand.
You open the gateways of our hearts morning and evening,
that we might sing our praises with all creation.
God in Community, On in Three, Three in One, Holy in One,
we pour out our hearts to you,
as we worship with our whole being
HYMN: 248 At the dawning of Salvation
On line: The plan of salvation (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Light-giving, salvation-making God, we have staked our living and our dying and our being raised to new life on your steadfast love and faithfulness.
You have promised to hide us in your shelter in the day of trouble.
You have promised to set us high on a rock, above those powers and forces
that batter us, that tempt us, that work against us.
We seek your presence here, listening for your Word:
your Word that gives life; your Word that heals the wounded heart;
your Word that speaks truth.
We seek in expectation, knowing that you are doing a ‘new thing’ among us. though, it is hard to see at times what that ‘new thing’ is.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, you are refining us, purifying our discipleship, pulling us into following Jesus
For that reason we boldly come before you in confession:
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Almighty God, Creator of the heavens and earth,
we confess that we do not always live into
the message of hope and salvation,
the promise of eternal life.
We live in ways that make the here and now
more important than the future.
We live in ways that put ourselves and our own success first
over the needs of others and the long-term needs of the world.
*Forgive us for our selfish ways and call us into the path of Christ,
who humbled himself and gave himself up for us on the cross,
so that death might be no more and that all can share in the joy of
salvation and eternal life, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Assurance of Pardon (from Romans 8:38)
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen and Amen!
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
HYMN 358 There is a redeemer
Romans 8: 18-25
Colossians 1: 15-21
For study leave in the spring, and through the summer, I have pondered about the truth that we are all called to be the Mission of God. Not to do the mission of God—to BE the mission of God. We know that mission as it has been stated in John 3: 16-17
We read from the Message
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted;
What we learn as we walk with God, and take upon us the mantle of being a missional servant, is that we are called to being so much more than we imagine and that God’s work encompasses so much more than we realize. This mission means that we are called to embrace all that Jesus came to do. We realize that this is a very significant calling, and in order to fulfill it we need to look beyond ourselves and look at the world through the eyes of God, through his love and his compassion, and his desire to be in relationship with all creation.
So for this sermon series, which will take us to the end of November, and begin again in the early Spring, we will consider the fullness of this calling, as expressed in the letters of Paul, but also in consideration of what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, the Great Commandment, and Matthew 25.
We begin today by looking at the relationship between Creation and Salvation.
From the beginning of creation, God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good.
And in an instant: by a lie and an act of disobedience, it was all changed. God’s human companions who had given him such joy, were lost and banished from the Garden. How heartbreaking was that for God?
In Romans Paul writes that Creation has suffered because of sin. He talks about that time as the “dead life” saying: It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
This movement from sin and death to life and liberation was quite the process and it required all that God had to give. This salvation required great sacrifice on the part of God, and it did not come easily.
Paul writes of it as a process that is something akin to labour, where the entire creation was groaning, as the pain of bringing it forth is felt. It is also something akin to the back-breaking work of a garden, where there is promise; but also the risk of failure.
The hymn All Earth is Waiting neatly combines both these metaphors in the first verse: All earth is waiting to see the promised one
and open furrows await the seed of God
All the world, bound struggling, seeks true liberty,
it cries out for justice and searches for the truth.
Gorman in his book: Becoming the Gospel says that salvation can be summarized in two words: Anticipation and Participation; or as he refers to it, anticipatory-participation. We wait, we hope, we believe, we receive, we go forth with God. Gorman writes: the coming, the death, the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus brings the promised age of peace, justice and salvation: The New Creation.
In fact, Gorman says that as the New Creation, we are called to labour and to garden to bring about more of the new creation.
Please note: This is not a suggestion.
Gorman is clear, this is a calling for all Christians. He even writes that if we are not engaged in this mission that we are not Christian.
This is strong language, but it is not meant to create guilt or anxiety, and we should rather look at it like an invitation for each of us to consider how we are called to participate.
Regarding the discernment of God’s will, Marva Dawn writes: much of our difficulty in finding the Lord’s will arises from the panic that engulfs us as we search for it. We get desperate, thinking that we are going to fail, and mess up our lives forever.
She adds this assurance:
We need not panic as we wait for God’s timing, for his revelation and for the effecting of his will.
I would say that if we simply relax and allow God to speak to us through our deepest desires that we will see how we are called. God knows what we love and what we are good at…he knows what moves our hearts.
Our calling to participate will be in what moves our hearts.
This truth prevails: We are all called. But we are not all called to labour in the same part of the garden. We do not all participate in the same way. Consider how many times Paul refers to the Church as a body, and that each part has its own function. In the hymn, There is a Balm in Gilead we are reminded:
If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus,
who died to save us all.
We all can do what we are called to do. When we all take up our calling to our own task in the Garden there will be some hearts (lovers), some brains (thinkers), some mouths (exhorters), some eyes (visionaries) and so on …when the WHOLE body is engaged then the whole of God’s creation is cared for and brought forth into salvation just as God envisioned.
For that reason we are reminded that Christian growth and service are not PRIVATE and ISOLATED from everything that is happening in creation and history.
Perhaps in these days that is even more important to remember. A pandemic might suggest that we who are called to pray do so best from isolation. I see that in the Monday prayer group who send lists of prayer requests to one another every Monday and sometimes mid-week. We may be missing the fellowship of time spent together in prayer, but the power of our prayers are still available, and we are still praying in community, just a little differently.
What is happening there, highlights the ministry of those who have always prayed for this congregation and the world, and who are not necessarily a part of the Monday group. These prayer servants have worked from their quiet closet. They may be alone, but they are not isolated from the groaning and pain of the world around them.
There are a host of ways in which we are called to participate in the mission of our time, and the truth is we cannot do it all. So discernment is of key importance. From the needs of those who are hungry met by those who share and grow food; to needs of those displaced by disaster that are met by working in or donating to various agencies, from the needs of those who are harmed because of their race to the needs of those shunned because of mental illness and the list goes on. You or I cannot respond to everything.
It is therefore necessary that we discern what God is asking us to do. It is clear here that God is asking us to respond, not only in our community; but also through the world, The evidence that we have responded is seen in may ways: in the loving and caring phone calls, notes and letters, in our faithful stewardship, our prayers, the Hope Garden and in the increase in the monthly mission offerings—the phenomenal increase in the monthly mission offerings.
So when Gorman says that those who are not engaged in mission are not Christians; we know that we are not judged, we are praised and welcomed as Christ’s own, because we are known by our deeds.
We may say, I am only doing what I can as I feel Jesus is leading me.
That is the point of participating in mission. We are led to doing our part, in Christ and that is what we are called to do and to be. We are living what we are becoming: The mission of God.
The context of this is the calling that Paul speaks of in Colossians, where Jesus is not only Lord of all creation, but also, the reconciler between God and his creation.
We are reminded that all creation was brought together and created by Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus. In the redeeming act of salvation Jesus holds it all together.
For that reason the Mission of God: the ministry of reconciliation is central to our faith. When we are redeemed, Jesus gives us back to God as persons who are HOLY, BLAMELESS, and IRREPROACHABLE. The living out of our calling to mission is therefore also holy, blameless and irreproachable. You have been transformed by Jesus to be the person you were created to be—God’s favorite child, with a purpose and a mission that brings God into creation.
Together, we are the church, working together, each of us doing our part in the mission for the world.
The author Leslie Newbiggen writes that the primary reality through which we impact the community around us is the congregation. Therefore, it bears repeating that we are not called to mission in isolation, we are called to work together to fulfill the mission of God.
What does that congregation look like?
The congregation is called to be ALTER CULTURE. We don’t look like the world around us. We don’t grasp for what we don’t have. We don’t insist on having what we want, when we want it.
Tabitha in teaching manners once asked one of the boys what they said when they asked her for something. The answer she got was. NOW.
Not the answer she was looking for. But we need to realize that politeness and good manners can put a veneer on our worldliness; but Jesus takes that out of us. It may be an ongoing process, but as we join the groaning of salvation, we will be altered.
As a people who are Alter Culture we will form a congregation:
That has a rich tradition of prayer,
that focuses on Jesus as Lord,
that is a place where we love our brothers and sisters as God loves them
that is a place where we care for congregation and community and beyond
that is a place were we live in peace with one another and the community
And that is a place where the love of God for the world is stirred in our hearts and sends us forth into the world with the gospel of peace, hope, salvation and reconciliation.
This gospel is given in the words we speak and the deeds we share in our daily living.
The new creation does not yet show the signs of its perfection. According to Paul, sins persists and so we see the dichotomy of now and not yet. That is why it is so important that the congregation participates in the mission of God. In Jesus this new creation has begun and it is seen in the peace, love and reconciliation among us here, and in how we bring that into the world.
We are the new creation, and we are sharing in the labour for the new creation to be completed. Paul sees this as a both/and. We are the kingdom of God, bringing to the world the gifts that we know as a reality: righteousness and justice, peace and joy and all the other gifts given to us in the Holy Spirit.
The very nature of what we are called to become, and already are, is missional. Love, peace, reconciliation, and justice are missional. When we as a congregation embrace this mission then we form a community that is concerned both for its own life and the life of the world, for the sake of Jesus.
According to Paul, the fundamental of being saved in Christ is participating in the salvation of Christ.
That participation is what we are called to be, and we will explore it more fully in the weeks to come.
Hold onto your hats.
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
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.
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
We thank you, O God, that you have given us an enduring hope—one which cannot disappoint us or mislead us. We thank you, that through our faith in you and in your Son Jesus Christ, you enter into every believing heart and make new lives that have been torn asunder by the darkness of this world...
Thanks for glorious weather as we enjoy the official end of summer and prepare again for everyday life
We ask today, O God, for those who have lost hope and for those who have never had it. Grant to us and to those we lift before you in our hearts a new and abiding vision of what have you have done, and what you are doing, and what you will do, to save and redeem your people and indeed the creation itself. Grant, O God, that all might see and believe and discover their purpose and the purpose of all that is and all that is yet to be....
All those traveling this weekend: for safety
Farmers and Orchardists: that they might find labourers for the harvest
Outbreak of Legionnaires Disease
Public health officers:
All teachers and children going back to School/University
First Responders: Search and Rescue
We ask all this of you, O God, knowing that you are our hope and our salvation, a very present help in times of trouble, and the One whose purpose is to grant and new and abundant life to us and our world. One whose purpose was to unite us all in prayer and in mission, so we pray together as he has taught us, saying…
Our Father who art in heaven….
HYMN 778 Lord you give the great commission
BLESSING AND BENEDICTION
Benediction Song Who’s going to tell the story
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 multiply?
You and I!