Walk by Faith (click here)
June 13, 2021 Ordinary Time
Welcome to Worship with St. Andrew’s Salmon Arm. We are delighted that you have joined us, and hope that you will find a blessing here.
VIDEO of the Scripture reading and the Sermon will be added later Sunday afternoon following the in-person Worship.
CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: The congregation is called to meet on Saturday June 26 at 11:00 am in the Sanctuary to pray and discuss about our future direction in the light of the General Assembly’s decision regarding Remits A and B. We hope you all will be able to attend.
HOPE GARDEN: It is so good to see the flourishing garden, and the produce growing to meet the needs of those who would otherwise go hungry. A big thank you to everyone who helped prepare the soil and plant. Now is the time for those who weed and water. If you have a few spare minutes stop by the garden and pull weeds, even a row will be a big help.
Scripture Readers sought: We will record the Scripture as a part of Sunday worship. There is be a sign up sheet in the Narthex. Please prayerfully consider taking part in this expansion of our worship experience.
For India and other struggling nations during the pandemic
For the Indigenous communities mourning after the discovery of buried children at a Residential School
For the Muslim communities grieving following an attack on a family in London ON this past week.
Vaccine roll out in our community and others.
Lighting the Christ Candle
The light of Christ has come among us.
Thanks be to God
CALLED TO WORSHIP
It is good to be together, God,
with these people,
together listening for your voice,
united by your Spirit.
In this time of worship
tell us about your kingdom of kindness
so that we can seek it.
Show us your justice.
We want to walk with you,
humbly, closely, daily.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
God of every thought and reality,
the holy, prophetic sustainer of community,
we gather here today as your people,
children of the good news.
Assure us of your presence once again,
that we may trust the mystery of life and growth,
as we gather in the name of our Savior,
who is Jesus, the Christ.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
Patient Lord, you know how we are. We let the frustrations and worries of our lives overcome us. Our hearts seem to buckle under the weight of anger and confusion. And we turn away from you, sure that you can do nothing to alleviate our strife. How foolish we are! How faithless we are! Please forgive us. Help us to learn that you are actively involved in our lives, not as a “puppet master” but as a creative co-worker, seeking healing and hope not only for each of us, but for the whole world. Make us into disciples of peace and compassion; for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON:
Let go of your fears and doubts. God pours God’s love on you, in you and through you to others. Be at peace. AMEN.
PASSING THE PEACE
The peace of our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you. And also with you.
Share a sign of peace with those nearby, or ask the Spirit to bring his peace to another you may know, or to a world situation.
- In person: musical interlude
Listen, hear and remember, these portions of the revelation of God’s word for us.
2 Corinthians 5: 6-17
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
- Sermon: walk by faith
If it was anyone other than Paul we would say “yeah, yeah” easy to say, harder to do.
But we know Paul’s story from the time he encountered Christ. Blinded. Rejected by the church. Mistrusted by the church. Ultimately called to plant congregations and help them figure out how to be a congregations despite their constant struggles.
And all that while being: Persecuted. Shipwrecked. Arrested. In jail for years. Executed.
In the Preface to this letter, the commentators write: “The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians gives us the best picture of the spiritual struggle of an apostle in the New Testament.”
Certainly Paul has difficulties with the Corinthian Church. They are known for their squabbles. They often reject Paul’s authority. They question his teaching. And yet Paul’s love for them remains steadfast. That love and Paul’s abiding trust in God, permeates this letter.
The commentators in The Spiritual Formation Bible write: “Paul is giving the Corinthians the theology that can get them through all [that is happening] and help them come out as a community on the other side.”
So Paul writes to them, For we live by faith, not by sight.
The problem with living by faith, especially in uncertain times, is that it is like stepping out over the abyss with nothing stable to protect us.
It has always been that way.
Moses led a people out of Egypt with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. They were trapped between the sea and the army and it looked like they had no where to go. Then God made a way and Moses raised his staff and the waters parted.
Decades later the people were about to cross into the Promised Land, but the swift flowing waters of the Jordan River were a barrier. How would they cross? The answer was simple. Step into the water. And as they did so the waters parted, and the people crossed.
Did we see how the step of faith got riskier this time?
The first time God parted the waters and then the people stepped in. The second time the people stepped in, and then God parted the water.
When Paul writes, For we live by faith, not by sight, he is talking about the risky walk of faith, where God stands with us, but we need to take those first tentative steps into the unknown.
Sometimes those steps are a journey of days, or months or even years.
Abraham stepped out in faith with only the promise that he would father nations. Decades later he still did not see with his eyes the fulfillment of that promise, and yet in the journey of those years we see that God never failed him, and when the time was right, the promise was delivered in the birth of Isaac.
God often holds out the promise in a time when it looks like everything is against his people.
To the exiles in Babylon, he gives instructions to sing of their faith in a strange land.
To Jeremiah living through the occupation, he gives instructions to buy a field.
So when the people sang and when the field was purchased these were acts of faith that resulted in…
We want to see these steps as an immediate end to their problems, but it wasn’t so. Stepping out in faith is not a magical formula in which everything instantly changes. Stepping out in faith is the beginning of our growth in faith, and it develops our ability to trust.
Trust in God is an essential component in our journey with God. In those circular spirals of life, stepping out in faith helps grow our trust in God, and growing our trust in God keeps us walking in faith. Even when that journey takes us on the broken bridge, over the abyss and into the unknown has Abrahamic proportions, every step we take increases our trust and our trust makes the next step of faith possible.
That is what Paul is talking about. When he writes, For we live by faith, not by sight, he is reminding the Corinthians that he knows it is a difficult task to walk by faith. He reminds the people that there is a reward to come. What it is and when it is to be revealed is known only to God, but it is a reward that belongs to the people.
Paul reminds us that we are called to have courage in the radical call of the Christian journey. Taking those steps of faith means that we will trust God and believe that the eventual reward will outweigh the temporary pain and suffering we encounter by challenging the world’s values.
Last week we spoke about strengthening our souls through worship.
We explored the truth that worship was the place where we gained our strength. We also explored the truth that worship with the people of God is important, but so is the worship of our everyday lives as we encounter those events that rock our faith, and cause us to stumble.
For that reason, we praise God; not just in worship, but also at home, in the market place, and in the assemblies of people everywhere.
Before the gods
Before the gods and governments of the nations
And… before the idols of our culture.
And before the confusion of the chaos that swirls around us.
It will not always be easy.
We are called to step out in faith in the tempest.
In the shipwreck.
In the prison.
In any and all injustice that we encounter.
Especially when things happen that rock our faith to the core.
We know that in the journey we are called to embrace and nurture our lives in those faithful steps that carry us through places that we do not understand.
Life has always been a mystery. That mystery is filled with blessings and with difficult places that we just can’t comprehend. Yet we continue to walk by faith.
When we encounter disasters of weather, or health or other things out of our control, we reach out to God.
But sometimes the disasters are because of human actions, and that hurts us in other ways. WE have all be hurt and betrayed by others at some time. Sometimes we have been hurt and betrayed by the church. Both are true for me.
That seems to be what Paul is talking about. He urges the congregation in Corinth to walk by faith, even though they have hurt and betrayed him, and they have hurt and betrayed each other. His message to them is born of the grace in which he lives his life, Paul writes, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”
The commentators point out that Paul is determined to treat the people of Corinth with the love that is born in him from Christ.
What does that mean as we walk by faith? That we understand that judgement is not our prerogative which makes it possible for us to view each other not from a worldly point of view, but from a Christ-like point of view.
Wow, walking by faith is deeply challenging. I sometimes regret that I have not been better at it.
What Paul teaches us here is that regardless of what we see, the Kingdom of God still comes to us and that it is a Kingdom of mercy and grace.
It comes as a wonderful surprise, as a gift of hope and a miracle of love.
Paul’s advice to us: Do not be discouraged. The kingdom will come. As you wait for the day of that revelation, do not neglect your faithful scattering of seeds. Do not neglect your calling.
To fulfil our calling, we need to step out in faith, despite not being able to see where to put our feet. Make no mistake, that broken bridge leading to nowhere is the illusion and not the reality. The reality is a strong, reliable bridge over the abyss.
But we won’t see that bridge until we step out into the unknown and trusting the broken slats beneath our feet. That is just the way the journey of faith works.
But we know that, don’t we? We have all walked a journey where we wondered where God was, and why God didn’t answer our prayers, or why the hard steps are taking so long.
Step onto the broken bridge with faith, but know that God is building the strong bridge beneath you as you journey.
For we live by faith, not by sight.
These are words of encouragement and hope. Regardless of what we see, or what we fear, or what is greatly distressing to us this statement is always true. When death and darkness seem in control, we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the unseen truth. For we live by faith, not by sight.
Who is our God? And what do we know about the way he works?
God always makes a way in the desert. He gives reasons to sing in exile. He calls us to buy land and make room for a future. We are still God’s people, still called to speak of his love, his grace, and his mercy.
Even today he is calling us live by faith, not by sight. . Amen.
HYMN God will make a way
- In person: Video medley
Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us. We join together giving thanks to God, by bringing our offering into the storehouse, and together we pray that God will bless all that we bring.
- In person: Doxology
Offering Hymn: The church is wherever God’s people
We bring our offering
because for us to give is our life in Christ.
We live for Christ,
we live by Christ,
we live with Christ,
we live through Christ,
we live in Christ.
God of grace,
let Christ be praised
in all we say and do,
in all we think and speak,
in all that we bring to the storehouse,
in this hour of worship
and in every moment of our lives. Amen.
- GATHERING PRAYER REQUESTS
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
Holy God you are the great reconciler bringing us all into unity through the Grace and Mercy in Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed even for those who hated and murdered him. As we encounter the pain in our world and our church this day remind us of that great love and mercy which is gifts from you, and may these gifts rule our hearts.
Holy God, we are a part of a world that is in pain. Our indigenous people call out for healing and reconciliation. Asians and Blacks and Indo Asians cry out against racist attacks. The Muslims cry out for mercy and justice because of anti Islamic attacks. Around the world Christians cry out because they are attacked for what they believe. How can we step into the breach? How can we make a difference? Reconciling Christ, bless our efforts to bring about reconciliation.
Give us the strength to persevere without counting the hurts, and to find within ourselves the capacity to keep on loving as you have loved us in Christ.
Remind us again, and again and always, that our skin colour is not a reason to hate. You have created us all in your image and your word says male and female, thus we also believe that variations in our skin colour are also a part of your image. Help us to always see Christ in one another and may grace and love rule our actions.
Give us the grace to be able to stand in the middle of situations,
and to be a conduit for the deep listening which can lead to healing and forgiveness.
Even as we wrestle with a sense of betrayal, remind us that you loved even Judas who betrayed Jesus. That did not stop Jesus from dying for him. Remind us that your grace is greater than hate, or fear, betrayal or anger, bigger even than disillusionment. Help us as members of this congregation and members of the Presbyterian Church to listen to one another. Even as you hear our pain, let us hear one another’s pain. Help us to remember that in Christ all things are new, and lead us on the road of healing and forgiveness that will make all the more powerful the mission to which you call us. Now, today and forever your grace triumphs.
Help us to conduct ourselves with dignity, giving and expecting respect, moving from prayer to action, and from action back again into prayer.
We pray for the world caught in conflict, looking for someone to blame for the pandemic, show us how to let go of those feelings that hold us back and find the grace that will move us forward. We remember India and other developing countries in the struggle. Bring them aid, with PPE and enough vaccines to make a difference for them. Be with the G7 countries that they may fulfill their promises to share and send vaccines to those who need them.
We pray for the people in this congregation, trusting that you love us, and we will love those around us and more importantly that we will love them with your love in our hearts.
We pray for our friends and our families and name them before you now
Hear also our prayers kept in our hearts.
Grant that we may be so grounded in your love, that our security is not threatened if your Spirit challenges us to a greater love. Regardless of what others do and say, we are still your people, called in your purpose, and called to love one another.
Bless those who are called to reconcile on a large-scale –
politicians, world leaders, leaders of business,
and those who stand in the midst of bitter conflict.
Our world, our whole world is in conflict. Nation against nation, race against race. We look for people to blame because this or that happened. It is easy to make scapegoats of other, but instead we ask you to make servants of us. Help us to serve you in all that we do.
OUR PRAYERS FOR THE COMMUNITY
We pray with hope for a world in need of love and grace, forgiveness and new life, hope, peace and fellowship, in need of renewal, in need of YOU. May you bring your renewal to our city, our congregations and our homes. Hear us as we pray for peace and justice in our city.
Farmers, Orchardists, Vintners, Farmer’s Markets
Hear us now as we pray as Jesus taught us saying, saying silently: 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, the power and the glory for ever. Amen
- In person: musical interlude
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
God’s hand is upon His people, to guide and protect them through the ages. God’s Spirit will keep in His service those whom He has called and anointed, that the powers of this world may not overwhelm us, but that, secure in His love given in Christ, we may carry out His will in we do.
May God: Father, Son and Spirit guide you this day, and all days. Amen
SUNG BLESSING: Take O Take me as I am
- In person: May the peace of Christ