Read-along Service for Sunday, May 15, 2022

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Fifth Sunday of Easter May 15, 2022
Camping Sunday

 Prelude

Words of welcome, announcements

 Lighting the Christ Candle

We light this candle as a symbol of the light of Christ, which shines in each one of us, and the darkness cannot overcome it. May the light of resurrection fill our lives with hope.

Call To worship (based on Psalm 148)
Come, praise the eternal God!
All you in the heavens, angels above—praise God!
The sun, moon, and stars in the sky—praise God!
Dolphins and whales, fish in the sea—praise God!
The lightning and thunder, snow and rain—praise God!
Mountains and hills, desert and prairie—praise God!
Fruit trees and cedars, flowers and weeds—praise God!
Kings and presidents, prime ministers and judges—praise God!
Every person both young and old—praise God!
Let all living things praise the name of God!
For God is the source of all life.
God’s glory shines over earth and heaven.
Let’s worship the God of life together!

Prayer of Approach
Almighty God, you are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all living things. You make your home with us, you dry our tears and quench our thirst, you are the tender love that welcomes all people. Like a mother, you nurture your children, giving us life, and teaching us to love. Come and dwell among us, to make all things new. Amen.

 

Hymn        In the Bulb There Is a Flower                             VU 703

  1. In the bulb there is a flower;
    in the seed, an apple tree;
    in cocoons, a hidden promise;
    butterflies will soon be free!
    In the cold and snow of winter
    there’s a spring that wants to be,
    unrevealed until its season,
    something God alone can see.
  1. There’s a song in every silence,
    seeking word and melody;
    there’s a dawn in every darkness,
    bringing hope to you and me.
    From the past will come the future;
    what it holds, a mystery,
    unrevealed until its season,
    something God alone can see.
  1. In our end is our beginning;
    in our time, infinity;
    in our doubt there is believing;
    in our life, eternity.
    In our death, a resurrection;
    At the last, a victory,
    unrevealed until its season,
    something God alone can see.

 

Scripture Reader:       Susan Humphries
Revelation 21:1-6       John 13:31-35

Special Music

Homily “Seeking The Common Good”

Musical Response

The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us.  You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Hymn        O Holy City, Seen of John                                  VU 709

1.  O holy city, seen of John,
where Christ, the Lamb, doth reign,
within whose four-square walls shall come
no night, nor need nor pain,
and where the tears are wiped from eyes
that shall not weep again!

  1. Hark, now from men whose lives are held
    more cheap than merchandise,
    from women struggling sore for bread,
    from little children’s cries,
    there swells the sobbing human plaint
    that bids thy walls arise.
  1. O shame on use who rest content
    while lust and greed for gain
    in street and shop and tenement
    wring gold from human pain,
    and bitter lips in blind despair
    cry, “Christ hath died in vain!”
  1. Give us, O God, the strength to build
    the city that hath stood
    too long a dream, whose laws are love,
    whose ways are brotherhood,
    and where the sun that shineth is
    God’s grace for human good.
  1. Already in the mind of God
    that city riseth fair.
    Lo, how its splendour challenges
    the souls that greatly dare,
    yea, bids us seize the whole of life
    and build its glory there!

Pastoral Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn        I See a New Heaven                                          VU 713

I see a new heaven.
I see a new earth
as the old one will pass away,
where the fountain of life flows
and without price goes
to all the people who abide in the land.

  1. There, there on the banks of a river bright and free,
    yielding her fruit, firm in her root,
    the Tree of Life will be.                              Refrain
  1. There, there where death dies and our lives are born again,
    body and soul, struggling but whole
    like flowers after the rain.                          Refrain
  1. There, there where the darkness brings visions from above.
    There where the night, bearing new light,
    reveals the promise of love.                     Refrain
  1. There, there where we work with the love of healing hands.
    Labour we must, true to our trust
    to build a promised new land.                  Refrain

Benediction
Jesus gives us a new commandment: to love one another. Because Jesus loves us, we can love one another. May you face this coming week with a spirit of courage. May there be love in your heart as you go with God’s blessing.

Choral Amen 974 “Amen, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen!”

Postlude

Seeking Good Will. Text: Revelation 21:1-4 May 15 2022
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

We usually refer to spring as planting season as we get our flowers and vegetables started in hopes of a bountiful harvest. This year spring is also election season here in Ontario as our votes plant seeds that will shape the next four years. Election season is a time for us to consider the common good of all people who call this great province their home.

The common good refers to those things we share in as a society which are a benefit to us all. The roads we drive on are part of the common good. Our hospitals and schools are part of the common good. Our province is facing some great challenges when it comes to things like housing and long term care for seniors. While we live in the biggest and richest province in the country, we have the fewest intensive care beds in the land. This election will decide which set of policies will be used to address these vital issues. It will also decide which issues will be ignored. We have been struggling to find the best possible common good ever since Plato first raised the question over two thousand years ago.

This year’s election is a challenge because of all the strains the pandemic has put on our social institutions. Pandemics have a long history of disrupting the social order and revealing the flaws in our approach to the common good. This election is also under the strain of the polarization that is creating an ever widening gap between liberals and conservatives.

In order for us to seek the common good, we need a spirit of good will. When we talk about good will, we are usually talking about the high regard a company enjoys when it is appreciated by its loyal customers. In the religious world, the term Good Will describes our seeking the well being of others. Good will is the desire to wish another person well.  It is the ability to create love, harmony and peace with others. Goodwill is a gracious gift of forgiveness and compassion. It is the attitude of always seeking to find solutions to conflicts. It is to approach all matters with a thankful heart. Good will creates healthy relationships.  Good will is the Samaritan picking up the injured stranger on the road to Jericho. It is freely given without seeking payment or reward. Goodwill is our tendency towards righteousness.

The fruits of goodwill are found in Galatians 5:22- which are love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In a spirit of Good will, we give of ourselves, so the common good may flourish. It is a powerful force which expresses our love for others.

Now the opposite of goodwill is ill-will. Ill-will is the malevolent action of advancing your own well being at the expense of someone else. It is to step on toes as you seek to get ahead. It is to spread rumours which bring others down. It is to demonize those who hold different points of view. To spread ill-will is like drinking poison, and then waiting for the other person to die.  It is to constantly remind others of their shortcomings, while admitting none of your own imperfections. It is to throw your co-worker under the bus, even as you seek to cover your own backside. Ill-will happens when we bark at someone who is innocently doing something which we don’t like. It is judgemental attitudes which are not helpful. It is that constant stream of petty criticisms which demean others. It is the negative comments which are whispered just loud enough that people know you are saying something against them. Ill-will is the bully’s intimidation. Ill-will is violence used to protect our sense of greed or entitlement. Ill-will is our tendency towards evil. Mark 7:21 lists the consequences of ill-will as including: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride and folly.

We live in a culture which feeds on the negative energy of ill-will. Just watch a reality show like Survivor, which is an exercise in the Iron Rule. The Iron Rule states ‘do it unto others before they have a chance to do it unto you.”  Such ill will spawns revenge, deceit and grudges, hatred and self-loathing. As Christians we are invited to follow Jesus’ teaching on the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yet this is not Jesus’ final word on the subject. At the Last Supper, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment. A new rule to live by which has earned the nickname of The Titanium Rule, since it even trumps the Golden Rule.

The Titanium Rule is simply this: Love each other the way Jesus loves you. If in doubt, love. If you’re not sure you should forgive someone for what they’ve done, remember the Titanium rule. If you’re tempted to throw the rule book at someone, Jesus is suggesting a different book. Instead of judgement, a spirit of compassion is what is called for. If you are ever in doubt as to what is the right thing to do, follow this simple rule. Love everyone the way Jesus loves you.

We need this kind of love because ill-will is all around us. Fortunately, on a day like today, we do not have to look very far to find signs of good will. For unconditional love has the power to shape and change lives. It is an earthly example of the love we seek from God. It is the good will we dream of finding embodied in every person we meet. Good will seeks to build up the common good for the benefit of us all.

Perfect good will is sometimes easy to overlook, because it often ends up being invisible. Good will is rarely newsworthy. I discovered this once when I performed the funeral for the richest man in town. Howard was a successful businessman who was well respected and very down to earth. I mentioned in my sermon how surprised I was to find out that this rich businessman was the person who voluntarily plowed out the church’s laneway every winter. Howard’s wife was very surprised to hear this news about her husband, especially since she was the Chair of the Church Council. Even she didn’t know he had been doing this.

As Christians, our goal in this life is to create such good will. It is the tool by which the new heaven and the new earth are built.  While we may never get to see the new Jerusalem in all its finished perfection, we can definitely catch glimpses of it as we celebrate the love of God we have found in Jesus Christ. Such Good Will quietly creates the peace which the world cannot give us. This spirit of Good Will is even found in the tree of life, whose leaves are shared for the healing of all the nations. Such a love seeks to transform all things for the common good, for God is at the heart of it all.  May God’s good will bless you and guide you in your planting and in your voting so you might create heaven here on earth. Amen.

_