The prophet’s reward (click here)
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us!
Entry of Scriptures
INROIT open our eyes Lord (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)
- Good news; Diane's mother Hennie is doing much better, thank you for all your prayers. Diane is going to be self-isolating to stay healthy so she can continue to visit her mother.
- The Loonie offering for July and August is going to the Immigrant family hoping to arrive in Salmon Arm soon. The funds will be used to help with the cost of their flights. Please pray that they are able to come to Canada very soon, they are aliens in South Africa and the jobs they were able to get to feed themselves and live are now unavailable because of the pandemic.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Sing aloud with gladness:
God is gathering the people!
From the farthest parts of the earth we come:
All who struggle; all who labor with new life!
Those who are weeping, God will console;
Those who get lost find a clear path home.
Let us worship the God who gathers us!
HYMN: 760 Where cross the crowded ways of life
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
We give thanks that you have gathered us into your church
and graced us with your faithful presence.
We ponder our history, ancient and still developing,
and marvel at the many expressions of your church.
Grant us the vision to be a part of a new reformation for the Church
that will bring ever more joy and justice to the world.
Continue to gather us, the diverse lot of us,
into Jesus’ vision and dream
that your faithful people may be one in you. Amen
Called to Confession
We are gathered, a diverse people, with differing callings and ways of following God. Whatever our vision or dream, we long to be united with God and one another. Let us confess now, the differences that keep us apart and the hope that draws us together in Christ.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Oh God, you call us to patience and diligence
in the painstaking work of your Reign,
But we get discouraged and give up too soon.
Lord, have mercy.
Oh God, you call us to collaborate in community
in the painstaking work of your Reign,
- But we neither trust nor honor the gifts of others.
Christ, have mercy.
Oh God, you call us to be full of joyful confidence
In the painstaking work of your Reign,
But we burden ourselves with anxiety and fear.
Lord, have mercy.Forgive us, O God,
and lead us in the ways of patience, community and joy.
In Jesus name, Amen
Assurance of Pardon
Jesus is the demonstration of the way of patience, community and joy. He came that we might have joy to overflowing. Let us embrace that joy, and commit again to following him who died for our sins and gives us new life in all ways.
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Please share a physically distanced sign of peace..
HYMN 404 O Spirit Come, our hearts inspire (sorry, couldn’t find a file with singers to join, just words and music)
Psalm 89: 1-4, 15-18
1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long;
they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
and by your favor you exalt our horn.[d]
18 Indeed, our shield[e] belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
Jeremiah 28: 5-9
Matthew 10: 40-42
SERMON: The prophet’s reward
(Sorry due to technical difficulties the service was not recorded today)
The hymn, when voices are confusing, starts this way:
When voices are confusing, when right and wrong are blurred, we need your help in choosing the way to be preferred; our feet are prone to wander, in paths untrue, untried: O Christ our strong commander, come be our trusted guide.
Once for a children’s story I blindfolded a boy, and instructed him to walk down the aisle using only my voice to guide him. In the meantime, the congregation were urged to call to him and try to entice him to come to them.
It is so easy to lose our focus in a world of clamouring messages. Poor Tyler had to compete with the voices of his parents, aunts/uncles and even grandparents as they offered all sorts of inducements to come to them instead.
Indeed there are times when the voice of God can be a difficult thing to discern among the other voices that can obscure it. It is certainly true when the voice of God is speaking a message we would rather not hear.
This is emphasized in the differing messages from Jeremiah and the other prophets.
Again the words of the hymn point that out:
When truth is hard to follow and fact is hard to find, when crowd appeals are shallow, reshape, renew our mind. Your ways we would be learning; oh make our choices clear, that we the more discerning, the more may persevere.
This was certainly true for the people in Israel in the days of Jeremiah. To those who remained in Israel, Jeremiah was clear. This occupation is not over. Jeremiah told them that his will take decades, even a century; not years before the exiles return, and in the meantime the land would continue to lay waste, and the temple in ruins and all of its treasures carried away by their captors.
Then writing to the exiles Jeremiah repeated this message. This is not over. Build houses. Plant gardens. Take wives. Have children. Find wives for your sons. Give your daughters in marriage. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you.
The message for those left behind and for those in exile is simple. Only when the Babylonian years are completed will I visit you. Then the exiles will return and I will restore this place.
Jeremiah does not stop being the truthful prophet. Even in the midst of disaster Jeremiah speaks the truth. This has befallen the people because they have turned away from God, and it will not end soon. It takes courage to speak harsh truth to those who are prosperous and powerful, and who oppress the people. But it takes more courage (and a whole lot of compassion) to speak the truth to those who are hurting and suffering.
It takes a special strength of faith and confidence in God to speak plainly to hurting people. When the truth is hurtful it is even more important to trust that God is asking you to speak this truth.
We don’t often hear those who speak God’s truth plainly like Jeremiah does. We see leaders who tend to speak a more soothing, reassuring, placid speech.
These words feel like a balm to our wounded souls. Yet they are dangerous, because they lead us away from God’s word for us.
Jeremiah was swift to point that out, as he and Hananiah addressed the crowd in Jerusalem. Hananiah assured the people that the yoke had been broken, and that within two years God would bring back the exiles and restore the Kingdom.
Jeremiah’s response: I pray that what you have spoken would be so, for the prophet who speaks peace is welcome, but only when that word comes true will the people know that God has truly sent that prophet.
Yet we would rather hear the voices that say our troubles are ended. All is over. The world as we knew it is about to be restored.
Generations later, we hear Jesus bringing a message to a country that is once again living under occupation. Even though he has come to establish God’s kingdom, it is not the kind of Kingdom the people envisage.
The Romans will not be routed out of the country. The next king will not sit on the throne. Instead Jesus talks about the kingdom coming through his death, and then assures the disciples that they will walk the journey with him and suffer with him. The restoration of the Kingdom of God and the people of God is not an easy job.
When Jesus calls the disciples to mission, he tells them that in the Kingdom they will have all the same powers that he has. They will speak the same words that he speaks. The same Spirit will speak through them and strengthen them.
Sounds good doesn’t it.
Yet how often has Jesus also spoken to them about drinking from the same cup, and enduring the same baptism?
He now speaks to them of the reality of that cup. That cup would lead him to the cross and it would lead some of the disciples to their deaths as well. But for all of them this is what they could expect.
And to be the causes of division and turmoil.
His followers are warned that those who rejected and killed the Master will also reject and kill the servants of the Master.
And the flip side of this coin is that whoever welcomes the disciples also welcomes Jesus. And whoever welcomes the prophet will receive the prophet’s reward.
What exactly is a prophet’s reward?
For Jeremiah is it was years and years of rejection. His frustration was evident as he lamented the hard hearts of the people and the thankless task given to him by God. He was even jailed because of the message he brought. Was this his reward?
For Jesus, it was difficulty, rejection, and crucifixion. Was this his reward?
Are we sure that we want a prophet’s reward?
Jesus is speaking here in the context of seeing the lost sheep of Israel suffering, wandering, shepherd-less. His heart is breaking with love for them and yet they continue to reject him.
Those are the same sheep to whom Jesus now sends the disciples, the same sheep to whom he sends us.
It might be a bit harder for us to see, living as we do in a still fairly civilized and nominally Christian country.
But in speaking with the Ethiopian Christians in Calgary this kind of prophet’s reward is indeed an example of heartbreak. The lost sheep for whom they are called to pray, invade their villages, steal their sons to train them to be child soldiers, and burn their homes. How hard is it to pray for those who terrorize and persecute you, how much harder to go up to them and say, “Jesus loves you and died for you”?
Life is not easy for prophets. They are completely consumed with proclaiming the word of God. To the eyes of those around they are identified with God’s message. They are not a people with a message, they are the message. That is why when we read the prophets the first words they speak are ‘thus says the Lord”
The message for all of us is clear. WE do not speak our own words. We do not speak our own thoughts. We speak God’s word and God’s thoughts.
In Isaiah 55 we read: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we speak God’s thoughts, we transcend the things of this world that hold us bound. This is a calling that is inescapable.
Last week we learned that when Jeremiah didn’t want to speak that word it became like a fire in his bones. He couldn’t not speak it. He was compelled to speak it.
The problem is no one wants to hear it. The people Jeremiah spoke to would rather listen to the false prophets. The lost sheep of Israel rejected Jesus and his message. Those same people rejected the disciples.
Yet there were also those who heard, and hearing believed and believing received. Surely all of that is cause for rejoicing. Maybe even the glimpse into the prophets true reward, which is the blessing from God.
Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So the prophet’s reward is persecution and rejection and this leads to the blessing of God? Is that a question? Or a statement of faith. The prophets reward is persecution and rejection and this leads to God’s blessing.
And the blessing of God is found in the mission of God. That God so loved the world that he sent his only son to die for all humankind.
All humankind, those who love him and those who hate him. Those who receive him and those who reject him.
The prophet’s reward is to participate in bringing that message, and in bringing the message receive the blessing of God that leads to participating in his kingdom here on earth and in heaven; and most of all the blessing of living in God’s love.
Our reward, our blessing is God himself.
There is no greater reward, for God is everything. Amen
HYMN: 645 Follow me the master said
Online: I’m trading my sorrows
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
God of all good gifts,
who gives freely to us,
have mercy on us and grant us the peace
that only the Prince of Peace can provide.
Grant that our lives would be an offering,
and that our work would be a good gift,
just as the gifts that the magi brought,
pleasing to you and fit for the king of all creation.
We look to you, our Prophet, Priest and King,
to rule the world with justice,
and to give salvation to all who call upon you.
GATHERING PRAYER REQUESTS
Prayers of the People
Holy and Gracious God, we give you thanks for family, friends, life, love—for all the blessings you have bestowed upon us.
Joys and Blessings;
WE thank you that there has been enough healing that we can carefully journey in our province. Guide us forth with wisdom, and restore us as we enjoy the beauty and bounty of your creation.
God of our Mothers and Fathers, your desire for us leads the way, may we have the ears to hear the cries of this world -responding with Your hope.
Compassionate One, fill us with your love that we may see deeply into all the needs around us,
Concerns and Requests
For those in Africa enduring a plague of locusts
For those in BC bracing again for flooding, especially those living along the Fraser
For those in Arizona and elsewhere, fighting wildfires
The Refugee family waiting to finalize plans to come here to Salmon Arm
Help us to care with Your heart.
May Your love, Your grace, Your compassion, Your mercy, carry us away, this day and lead us with love to be Your hands and heart in the world.
As we take leave of this place we ask O God that you would be in our sending..
Yet our prayer O God is to send to us those whom no one wants or loves. And then, send us to those whom no one wants nor loves. Simply because you want them, and you love them, and we have your mission to fulfill.
Hear us now as we pray together as Jesus taught us 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 468 Lord dismiss us with your blessing (again, sorry, no voices to sing along with)
BLESSING AND BENEDICTION
Benediction Song: He is Lord