Read-along Service for Sunday, November 13, 2022

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Sunday, November 13, 2022 – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost

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 spirit of resurrection fill our lives with hope.

Call To worship
We gather here as the people of God. We come together to celebrate God’s gift of salvation. We come to hear God’s promises and to recall what God has already done. We gather so we might be strengthened for all that lies ahead. Come, let us worship and praise God by shouting aloud and singing for joy, for God truly is in our midst.

Hymn        Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet                VU 245

  1. Praise the Lord with the sound of trumpet,
    praise the Lord with the harp and lute;
    praise the Lord with the gentle-sounding flute.
    Praise the Lord in the field and forest,
    praise the Lord in the city square,
    praise the Lord anytime and anywhere.
    Praise the Lord in the wind and sunshine,
    praise the Lord in the dark of night,
    praise the Lord in the rain or
    snow or in the morning light.
    Praise the Lord in the deepest valley,
    praise the Lord on the highest hill,
    praise the Lord, never let your voice be still.
  1. Praise the Lord with the crashing cymbal,
    praise the Lord with the pipe and string,
    praise the Lord with the joyful songs you sing.
    Praise the Lord on a weekday morning,
    praise the Lord on a Sunday noon,
    praise the Lord by the light of sun or moon.
    Praise the Lord in the time of sorrow,
    praise the Lord in the time of joy,
    praise the Lord every moment,
    nothing let our praise destroy.
    Praise the Lord in the peace and quiet,
    praise the Lord in your work or play,
    praise the Lord everywhere in every way!

Prayer of Approach
Loving God, we need this time together, to be united with our sisters and brothers in the faith. We need this time of worship to be comforted and strengthened in your presence. We hear of wars and rumours of wars. We read of persecution and oppression. Remind us again of your vision, that all might live in a world of peace and justice and love. May this time together help to renew this vision, so we might have the courage to face these days as your beloved community strengthened by the gift of your love.

Hymn         Make Me a Channel of Your Peace                                      VU 684

  1. Make me a channel of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me bring your love;
    where there is injury, your healing power,
    and where there’s doubt, true faith in you:
  1. Make me a channel of your peace:
    where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope;
    where there is darkness, only light;
    and where there’s sadness, ever joy.
    O Spirit, grant that I may never seek
    so much to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love with all my soul.
  1. Make me a channel of your peace.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    in giving to all that we receive,
    and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Scripture Reader: Leslee Gervais

Malachi 4:1-2a

Responsive reading Isaiah 12        VU 880

Refrain:  Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

I will praise you, O God,
for though you were angry with me,
          your anger turned away, and you comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation.
I will trust and not be afraid,
          for you, God, are my strength and might;
          you show yourself my saviour.                                         Refrain

With joy with draw water from the wells of salvation.
          Give thanks and call on God’s name.
Make known God’s deeds among the nations;
          proclaim that God’s name is exalted.
Sing praises to God, whose work is glorious;
let it be known in all the earth.
Shout for joy, you who dwell in Zion,
          for the Holy One of Israel is majestic among you.         Refrain

Luke 21:5-19

Special Music
Homily “Thrown Down”
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.

Offering Song   Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow     VU 541 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God, all creatures high and low;
give thanks to God in love made known;
Creator, Word, and Spirit, One.

Offering Prayer
O God, we long to make a difference in our world. So we offer you what we have: we offer our visions and dreams. We offer our witness to your saving acts of love and justice. We offer our hands and hearts and voices, to help bring the new heaven and new earth into our midst. We offer you our very lives, that we may be coworkers with you to help mend this broken world.  Bless the givers and these gifts for your healing work we pray. Amen.

Hymn         Your Hand, O God, Has Guided                        VU 274

  1. Your hand, O God, has guided
    your flock from age to age;
    the wondrous tale is written,
    full clear, on every page.
    Our forebears owned your goodness,
    and we their deeds record;
    and both of this bear witness:
    one church, one faith, one Lord.
  1. Your heralds brought glad tidings
    to greatest as to least;
    they bade them rise, and hasten
    to share the heavenly feast.
    And this was all their teaching,
    in every deed and word,
    to all alike proclaiming,
    one church, one faith, one Lord.
  1. Through many days of darkness,
    through many scenes of strife,
    the faithful few fought bravely
    to guard your people’s life.
    Their gospel of redemption,
    sin pardoned, earth restored,
    was all in this enfolded:
    one church, one faith, one Lord.
  1. And we, shall we be faithless?
    Shall hearts fail, hands hang down?
    Shall we evade the conflict
    and cast away our crown?
    Not so: in God’s deep counsels
    some better thing is stored;
    we will maintain, unflinching,
    one church, one faith, one Lord.
  1. Your mercy will not fail us,
    nor leave your work undone;
    with your right hand to help us,
    the victory shall be won:
    and then, by earth and heaven,
    your name shall be adored,
    and this shall be our anthem:
    one church, one faith, one Lord.

Pastoral Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn         For the Healing of the Nations                           VU 678

  1. For the healing of the nations,
    God, we pray with one accord;
    For a just and equal sharing
    Of the things that earth affords.
    To a life of love in action
    Help us rise and pledge our word.
  1. Lead us forward into freedom,
    From despair your world release;
    That, redeemed from war and hatred,
    All may come and go in peace.
    Show us through care and goodness
    Fear will due and hope increase.
  1. All that kills abundant living,
    Let it from the earth be banned;
    Pride of status, race or schooling,
    Dogmas that obscure your plan.
    In our common quest for justice
    May we hallow life’s brief span.
  1. You, Creator-God, have written
    your great name on humankind;
    for our growing in your likeness
    bring the life of Christ of mind;
    that, by our response and service,
    earth its destiny may find.

Benediction
We leave this time of worship to go forward into a world that needs new visions. Where ever you go, take the message of hope and love, of justice and peace, to all you meet. Live God’s dream of shalom. For you are a new creation. Go now in peace.  Amen.

Choral Amen
Postlude

Thrown Down. Text: Luke 21:5-19
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, November 13 2022

There is an ancient Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times.” The times have been so interesting lately that a friend of mine says he hopes that next week’s news stories will all be about kittens riding dolphins, a cure for cancer, and Celine Dion opening a unicorn sanctuary. He’s not the only one wishing for some good news for a change. We prefer things to be quiet and predictable. The news so far this year has been anything but.

It may be some small comfort to know that we are not the first generation to live through interesting times. Back in 1859 the novelist Charles Dickens described his era as ‘the best of times and the worst of times’. Dickens says  “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Even Jesus knew what it is like to live in interesting times. By the time he started his ministry, the Roman army of occupation had been ruling the land for 90 years. Yet the people still dreamed of liberating their homeland. The Romans had to put down many rebellions, which is why they were so suspicious of Jesus. Jesus saw all this talk of revolution as a dangerous thing. He saw it leading to the destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem. He said a time would come when all the great buildings and all they represent would be thrown down.

Jesus did not live to see the temple come down, but the temple in Jerusalem did fall during the lifetime of his disciples. In 70AD, just four decades after Jesus, there was yet another rebellion. In the end, the Romans destroyed the temple and burned the city to the ground. A million people died in that battle. The Roman Emperor Vespasian led the charge. Vespasian took 200,000 of the survivors from Jerusalem as prisoners. They became his slaves and he marched them back to Rome. Vespasian put his slaves from Jerusalem to work and they built the Coliseum in Rome.

The gospel of Luke warns us that every generation has to face such kinds of disasters. He goes on to say that Christ will come again in the midst of such troubles. While many people take these words as a road map for what the end of the world will be like, Luke is not asking us to make a big deal out of when all this will happen. For it has already happened. You see, Luke wrote his gospel several decades after the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed. He knew Christ didn’t come back when the stones came tumbling down.  He knew it was a terrible calamity, but it was not the end of the world.

The point for Luke is there will always be such times of trouble.  In Luke’s own generation there were conflicts which many thought would bring about the end of their religious world as they knew it. In every generation we have our own defining crisis.  The question each generation must ask is whether or not we are willing to let the message of Christ guide us in how we shall respond to our current crisis. Is this situation bad enough that we are willing to stand up and offer an alternative vision of what the future could be? Even though it feels like our world is falling apart, every generation of believers has the choice to speak to the bad news of our time with the good news of what God is seeking to do in this present moment.

What God is seeking to do in this moment of course depends upon your understanding of God.  Some picture God as mighty and powerful. Capable of bringing down nations. Ruling over all. Yet somehow this mighty big God has a history of not showing up when we need him most. Many people have come to question the all powerful God because that God has failed to stop countless wars and genocides. If God can end all wars, we are justified in asking such a God why the righteous continue to suffer.

Despite this failure to deliver, there are still many Christians who eagerly await Christ’s return, in hopes that he will take control of the world and set things right. Instead of looking for a big all powerful God to save us, perhaps we need to be reminded of the kind of God that Jesus was trying to share with us.

The Jesus we see in the Bible rejects any attempt to have him lead a rebellion or claim a throne. Instead he demonstrates God’s desire for healing and reconciliation. Jesus crosses the boundaries and is willing to associate with foreigners and sinners so all might be saved. He teaches us that we are healed by those whom we reject, if we are willing to open ourselves up to them. It is scary to realize we are to be healed by our enemies. In order to find peace, we need to be vulnerable. This is hard to hear in a world where people try to create peace by building security barriers. But true peace only comes when divisions fall and just relationships are restored. By opening ourselves up, we can discover our own prejudices and fears. Only than can we let go of our need for security which isolates us from others, and find peace with others in its place.

The heart of such a relationship is based upon the kind of love Jesus lived in his life. It is the kind of love he expresses in the beatitudes, in his parables, and in his healing miracles. By his example, we know when we love someone, we give of ourselves for the sake others. The goal of a Christ like love is not to have power over others. A Christ like love lifts others up. Such a love sets us all free.

Sadly, we live in a world where such a love seems to be in short supply. When we face a loss of hope and trust, it is natural to worry. In these troubling days, it is not a surprise that so many people suffer from anxiety and depression. This is why Jesus assures us there is no need to worry. He is showing us how to face such challenges with compassionate confidence. He has shown us a better way that can address the difficult problems we are facing. He asks us to be a witness to this better way by what we say and do each new day. He even promises to give us the wisdom which no one can contradict. He promises to show us the witness which no one can deny.  So what is the wisdom and the witness which cannot be denied?  It is the power of three simple words.  “I LOVE YOU”.

When we live by Christ’s example of what it means to love this world, such a witness can’t be denied. It will be obvious for all to see, because all our actions, all the gifts we give, even our very sense of self, will all be signs which show this love to be true.

Our world desperately needs such a love, for we are living in apocalyptic times. The old political and economic landscapes are changing rapidly. Empires do rise and fall. The old certainties are being thrown down. There is much uncertainty about what will happen next. Only love can help us find the words needed to end wars. Only love can help us find the right things to do to alleviate suffering. Only love can give us the courage we need to respect the dignity of people who are different from ourselves. Only love can show us how to be reconciled and live in right relations with all our neighbours.

Only when the love which Christ embodies is present in us, will there be healing and peace in the world. Until then, all we can do is pray that this healing spirit of Christ will come again into our broken hearts.

Let us pray:

For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord;
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead your people into freedom,
from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.
Show us how, through care and goodness,
fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.In our common quest for justice
may we hallow life’s brief span.

You, Creator-God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness,
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.

(For The Healing Of The Nations – written by Fred Kaan 1969

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