Read-along Service for Sunday, November 21, 2021 – Reign of Christ / Communion

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Reign of Christ – November 21, 2021

Prelude

Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, Spirit, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light.

Call To worship

Christ Jesus, friend of the poor, the meek and the merciful, has been enthroned above all authority and power in this world and in the world that is to come. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness come into his presence with singing. God has placed everything under Christ’s wounded feet, appointed the one who wore a crown of thorns as the supreme head of the church, his body. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, come into his courts with praise. Give thanks and praise his loving name!

Prayer of Approach

Compassionate God, your love for humankind is present in the beginning of all things. It extends throughout history and touches even my life. Your love sees our failings and still you offer us forgiveness. Your love feels pain and wipes away our tears. Your love knows grief, and comforts the sorrowful. Your love sees sin and still loves the sinner. Forgive us when we fail to live lives that reflect your love. Forgive us the many times when we take for granted all that you have done for us. Teach us once more how to repent and return to your embrace. Transform us, through your Spirit, and empower us to serve you this day and always. Amen.

Hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling                      VU 333

  1. Love divine, all loves excelling,
    joy of heaven to earth come down,
    fix in us thy humble dwelling,
    all thy faithful mercies crown.
    Jesus, thou art all compassion,
    pure, unbounded love thou art;
    visit us with thy salvation,
    enter every trembling heart.
  1. Come, almighty to deliver;
    Let us all thy grace receive;
    suddenly return, and never,
    nevermore thy temples leave.
    Thee we would be always blessing,
    serve thee as thy hosts above,
    pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
    glory in thy perfect love.
  1. Finish, then, thy new creation;
    pure and spotless let us be;
    let us see thy great salvation
    perfectly restored in thee,
    changed from glory into glory,
    till in heaven we take our place,
    till we cast our crowns before thee,
    lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Scripture Reader:  Ginette Raaphorst
Revelation 1:4b-8                      John 18:33-37

Special Music

Homily       “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

Musical Response

The offering

Hymn We Are Pilgrims (The Servant Song)              VU 595

  1. We are pilgrims on a journey,
    fellow travellers on the road;
    we are here to help each other
    walk the mile and bear the load.
  1. Sister, let me be your servant,
    let me be as Christ to you;
    pray that I may have the grace to
    let you be my servant too.
  1. I will hold the Christ-light for you
    in the night-time of your fear;
    I will hold my hand out to you,
    speak the peace you long to hear.
  1. I will weep when you are weeping,
    when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
    I will share your joy and sorrow,
    till we’ve seen this journey through.
  1. When we sing to God in heaven,
    we shall find such harmony,
    born of all we’ve known together
    of Christ’s love and agony.
  1. Brother, let me be your servant,
    let me be as Christ to you;
    pray that I may have the grace to
    let you be my servant too.

Service of Holy Communion

Service of Communion

Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give our thanks to the Holy One.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We give thanks to God, creator of heaven and earth. In the beginning, O God our Creator, you hovered amidst the chaos and spoke beauty into the world.  At the sound of your voice, lights shimmered, land masses shifted, trees towered and flowers blossomed.  You became incarnate in every living thing you created.  You spoke a word that gave life to the beetles and butterflies, frogs and fish, monkeys and moose.  Your song lit up a melody of life, a world teeming with life and energy sang in harmony with you.  You formed us, O God; from the dust of the stars and the dust of the earth. Your breath of life fills us.  And so We learned how to sing the song of your good creation.

We confess did not appreciate the goodness of your creation.  We exploited what you have created only to realize we had introduced brokenness into the world.  We spoke our own words of destruction that threaten to drown out your voice of creation. We forgot how you were already incarnate and present in the world. We forgot how to sing your song of creation.

And so you came to us embodied in Jesus of Nazareth. You again spoke to us and filled us with life. You again touched our bodies, and we were made whole. And though this broken world broke your body, you burst forth from the tomb in the glory of resurrection. Your song of beauty began to fill us with hope once more.

So, with those who gather around tables of peace and hope in every corner of our world, and with those who are with you in glory, we offer our praises and join the unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ whom your Spirit anointed to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim your salvation.

Christ Jesus spoke words of peace and walked in the way of peace. He sang your song of blessing for all to hear. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and shared meals with sinners. By his life, death, and resurrection, O God, you gave birth to your church. You have delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. Your song of life fills us. And it is very good.

And so this morning, we join with the church universal
in proclaiming the abundant life you offer to all as we gather at this table.

Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

As we gather at this table, may we feel your presence. As we reach out, may we grasp your grace. As we share this meal, may we be fed by your love. This day and always.

The Lord’s Prayer

Words of Institution

Though we are scattered physically, we are all united in the one body of Christ.
Please raise your bread with me, and repeat after me.

This is the body of Christ, broken for us all.
This is the bread of life.
May God bless this food,
to feed and strengthen us all.

Take and eat, the gifts of God, given for you.
May God bless you and feed you always.

Now please raise your cup, and repeat after me:

This is the blood of Christ, shed for us all.
This is the cup of blessing, to heal me in body, mind and spirit.   

May God bless us all as we share in this feast together.
Take and drink, for God’s Spirit is given to you.

Prayer after communion

Hymn Christ is Made the Sure Foundation                         VU 325

  1.  Christ is made the sure foundation,
    Christ the head and cornerstone,
    chosen of the Lord, and precious,
    binding all the church in one,
    holy Zion’s help for ever,
    and its confidence alone.
  2. To this temple where we call you,
    come, O Lord of hosts, today;
    with your faithful loving-kindness
    hear your servants as they pray,
    and your fullest benediction
    shed within its walls alway.
  1. Here bestow on all your servants
    what they ask of you to gain,
    what they gain from you for ever
    with the blessed to retain,
    and hereafter in your glory
    evermore with you to reign.
  1. Laud and honour to the Father,
    laud and honour to the Son,
    laud and honour to the Spirit,
    ever three and ever one,
    one in might, and one in glory,
    while unending ages run.

Benediction

It is not enough to acclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and King with words alone. Our mission in life is to make his kingdom a reality among us. Christ sends us out to bless this world by our words and deeds. We are to follow the way of Jesus, by seeking healing and peace for others. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.

Postlude

Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Text: John 18:33-37
Reign of Christ Sunday, Nov. 28 2021 By Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church

When the Roman governor Pontius Pilate puts Jesus on trial, he thinks he is stopping a dangerous figure who is threatening the stability of the empire. The Jewish authorities who bring Jesus to Pilate are also afraid of Jesus. They fear he is trying to start a political revolution which will establish Jesus as the King of Israel. They think that by executing him in the most humiliating way possible they will expose him as being nothing more than a delusional peasant. So they strip him both physically and emotionally by nailing him to a cross. The political and religious leaders of the day want to rule the world, and they don’t want anyone to turn their world upside down.

What they do not realize is that Jesus is in fact trying to return the world right side up, not down. While they do strip him as a way to humiliate him, what ends up being revealed is the very presence of God. They are so caught up in their own expectations they fail to see what is really happening. For in his own words, Jesus very clearly does not want to be king. Jesus believes there is only one king, and that is God.  For this reason it is a crown of thorns and not a crown of gold that reveals who Jesus really is.  Jesus also clearly rejects the way of the sword.  He says ‘those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) The only sword he ever uses are the words which come out of his mouth. (Revelation 1:16)  Jesus’ words and deeds invite us to imagine a world where rulers are to be like shepherds. Jesus tells us a good shepherd is one who is willing to give their life to protect the well being of their flock. (John 10:11) For this reason Jesus is traditionally pictured holding a shepherd’s staff and not a sword.

If the authorities were really paying attention, they would notice that the followers of Jesus never call him their King. His disciples call him the Christ. They believe he is the Messiah who will lead the world to God. When Jesus stands up to preach for the very first time, he does not call for a revolution. Instead he reads from the prophet Isaiah who says “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18) They believe he has come to heal the world.

This is a very different kind of messiah than what most people are expecting. But he is the kind of Christ we need. We often speak the word Christ as if it is Jesus’ last name. The Christ is actually a religious title that means ‘the anointed one’. He is the chosen one that carries thousands of years worth of hopes and expectations. Saint Paul calls Christ “The firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15)  In Saint John’s gospel he states that the Christ “was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through him.” (John 1:2)  John is saying that the Christ has been part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. John tells us “Everything was created through him; and nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. (John 1:3-4, The Message)

These scriptures are telling us that God has done more than just create life. The scriptures are telling us that God is in all things that have life. Saint Paul in his letter to the Colossians tells us that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created.” (Colossians 1:15) Paul believes Jesus as the Christ reveals the true presence of the invisible God who is fully present in the world. Paul tells us that “all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

This is Paul’s best description of the nature of reality. This is what Life is really made of.  Now scientists tell us that the atoms which make up our bodies are all formed from an exploding star.

If we believe that God created all things including that star, and if we believe as scripture tells us that Christ is present in all things that were created through him, then that which is God is present in every atom. That which is God is present in every atom that makes up your body. That which is God is present in every living thing on this planet. That which is God is also fully present in every rock and tree. That which is God is present in the air that we breathe. So God truly is in all things. We know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) So the love of God is in all things, and all things are in God, and there is so much more to God than all these things God has created.

Jesus as the Christ is trying to get all people to realize how we are all the embodiment of God’s loving presence in the world. Jesus invites us to live as God- filled people in the world. Such an understanding of who Christ Jesus is has cosmic implications that changes how we are to understand our place in the universe. And that is exactly what Saint Paul is hoping for. Paul tells us that all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe can come together in creative new harmonies, all because of his life giving love.

The Christian Church has often downplayed this cosmic vision of who Christ is. Over the centuries it was often left to the mystics to plumb the depths of the deeper meanings of Paul’s words. As a result our understanding of our place in the cosmos has often been diminished.  As followers of the Way of Jesus we all too often speak of Jesus’ incarnation as if it was a supernatural one time only special event that happened only to him. Saint Paul offers us a much fuller understanding of what the incarnation can teach us about our place in the universe.  In his letter to the Colossians Paul declares “There is only Christ. He is everything, and he is in everything.” (Colossians 3:11) Some Bibles translate phrase as “Christ is all, and in all”.   Saint Paul tells us plainly that the great mystery of life is that “Christ is in you.” (Colossians 1:27) And Christ invites us all to be one in his love. This is not a metaphor to be taken lightly. This is a deep truth that explains the meaning of life, the universe and everything.  He is telling us that God is incarnate in you. And God is equally present in every living being on this planet.  For this reason Paul believes Jesus as the Christ proclaims a universal message which shows us how we can all live in this world together in a spirit of love. Jesus is doing something much more radical than just challenging the political powers of his day. He is trying to change how we understand our place in the cosmos. Jesus as the Christ is trying to open our eyes so we might see God in all things.

Sadly, Pilate is blind to this truth. He doesn’t realize that Jesus is not trying to rule the world. Jesus is doing something far more radical. Jesus is showing us how to live in harmony with the world. What a gift it is to experience the love of God in all people and in all places. Such a revelation changes how we are to treat one another. It changes how we are to live in relationship with this planet.

While Jesus is not the king we were expecting,  he is the messiah we still need here today. For he does not reign over us like a monarch who expects everyone to bow down under his feet. Jesus reigns because as the Christ he lifts us up. His love has the power to turn this world right side up once more.

Source:
Richard Rohr “The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe” Convergent Books 2019

Matthew Fox “The Coming of the Cosmic Christ” Harper Collins 1988

 

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