Read-along Service for Sunday, October 17, 2021

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Sunday, October 17, 2021

Prelude

Words of welcome, announcements

 Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a sign of God’s Spirit that is at work in the world.  May we be rooted in God’s love as we grow to be a blessing for the healing of the world.

Call To worship
Just as the rains pour from heaven, soaking the earth that it may produce good things, so God pours the gift of divine love upon us. We have been blessed with many gifts and talents. God desires that we use these gifts and talents for healing, peace, and hope. Come, let us celebrate the healing power of God’s love that has been given to us. Come, let us gather to worship.

Prayer of Approach
Loving God, everywhere we look we see the imprint of your creative love. As we gather today to celebrate your love and creation, keep us mindful that we are part of the created order. We confess we get caught up in selfish pursuits and completely over look the wonders of your creation.  We are all too easily trapped into attitudes of indifference. We easily slip into patterns of destructive behaviour. You have not given this world to us that we should destroy it, but rather that we should cherish it and make sure that all receive from its bounty. Forgive our overwhelming greed and selfishness. Help us to let go of the petty desires for wealth, position, and power. You invite us to be stewards and not destroyers.  Bless us in this time of worship with a vision of your Kingdom so we might work for you in ministries of peace and justice. AMEN.

 

Hymn        Worship the Lord                                      VU 401

Refrain:     Worship the Lord (worship the Lord)
                   worship the Father, the Spirit, the Son,
                   raising our hands (raising our hands)
                   in devotion to God who is one!

1.  Raising our hands as a sign of rejoicing,
and with our lips our togetherness voicing,
giving ourselves to a life of creativeness,
worship and work must be one!                         Refrain

2.  Praying and training that we be a blessing,
and by our handiwork daily confessing:
we are committed to serving humanity,
worship and work must be one!                         Refrain

3.  Called to be partners with God in creation,
honouring Christ as the Lord of the nation,
we must be ready for risk and for sacrifice,
worship and work must be one!                         Refrain

4.  Bringing the bread and the wine to the table,
asking that we may be led and enabled,
truly united to build new communities,
worship and work must be one!                         Refrain

  1. Now in response to the life you are giving,
    help us, O Father, to offer our living,
    seeking a just and a healing society,
    worship and work must be one!                         Refrain

Scripture Reader:  Linda Boldt 

Hebrews 5:1-10                    Mark 10:35-45

Special Music

Homily “The Greatest of All”

Musical Response

The offering

We thank you for your continued support of our congregation through the gift of your time, your talents and your tithes. Every gift we share is a blessing that helps to make this world a better place. Please contact the church office or our web site for more information about how to make a donation. May God bless every gift you share. Amen.

Hymn         Deep in Our Hearts                                                      MV 154

  1.  Deep in our hearts there is a common vision;
    deep in our hearts there is a common song;
    deep in our hearts there is a common story,
    telling creation that we are one.
  2. Deep in our hearts there is a common purpose;
    deep in our hearts there is a common goal;
    deep in our hearts there is a sacred message,
    justice and peace in harmony.
  3. Deep in our hearts there is a common longing;
    deep in our hearts there is a common theme;
    deep in our hearts there is a common current,
    flowing to freedom like a stream.
  4. Deep in our hearts there is a common vision;
    deep in our hearts there is a common song;
    deep in our hearts there is a common story,
    telling Creation that we are one.

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn         Great Is Thy Faithfulness                                            VU 288

  1. Great is thy faithfulness, God our Creator;
    there is no shadow of turning with thee;
    thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
    as thou has been thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:      Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
                  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
                   All I have needed thy hand hath provided –
                   great is thy faithfulness, ever to me!

2.  Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.         Refrain

  1. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
    thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
    strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow –
    wondrous the portion thy blessings provide.    Refrain

 

Benediction

You have been called to serve the Lord with gladness. Go from this place knowing that God’s blessings have been poured on you so that you may be a blessing to others. Be at peace and bring the good news of God’s love and peace to all whom you meet. AMEN.

Postlude

Choral Amen 967 “Amen, Amen, Amen”

 

The greatest of all. Mark 10:35-45. October 17, 2021
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

The story of James and John asking Jesus to put them in positions of power is as old as time itself. It is a common desire to want to get ahead in life by seeking power and prestige and profit. Important things have happened over the course of human history when we have used our power to change the world. The disciples aren’t wrong for wanting to be Jesus’ go-to people who will help him rule the world. They just don’t quite understand what kind of power Jesus really has. The early disciples grew up dreaming of their country being free some day, with their own king. They think Jesus is the messiah who will free their country from foreign control.  And so they say to Jesus, “Now when you establish your kingdom, let one of us sit on the right hand and the other on the left hand of your throne and we will help you rule the world.”

 

It is very tempting to condemn James and John for wanting such power. We can even say they are selfish. Before we condemn them too quickly, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror, for we have those same basic desires for recognition, for importance. That same desire to be first.  The big question is what is the best way to use our power in order to do the most good.

The disciples’ expectations about the coming of God’s kingdom are based on ideas that were close to a thousand years old. The problem is their expectations no longer really fit the world they are currently living in. Their faith tradition was rooted in a simple farming society nestled in the Jewish hills. In Jesus’ day they are nothing more than a small province in the vast Roman empire. As much as the people still want to be free, in all honesty there is no way things can go back to the way it was a thousand years ago.

These changes are all around them. James and John made their living fishing in the Sea of Galilee, which the Romans called Lake Tiberius.  They sold their catch in the newly built Roman city of Tiberius. Tiberius was also a major stop on the Silk Road which brought spices and silk from the Orient to the Mediterranean. It was a cosmopolitan area that attracted traders from all over the world.

The Romans and these foreigners brought many changes and strange new ways with them, which affected the way of life for many people, including James and John.  As a consequence of this upheaval, a great separation developed between the people who lived according to the old ways, and the people who were trying to live in harmony with these new neighbours.

Some Jews tried to increase the distance they put between themselves and these foreigners. They tried to tighten the Jewish purity laws in an effort to exclude the foreigners. This defensive move helped them to protect their identity. But such protection came with a cost. It excluded the foreigners who were worshipping the Jewish God. This new strictness also excluded many poor Jews who were working in dirty jobs. People like James and John were no longer considered pure and holy Jews, because some of the fish they caught was not considered to be kosher. Because of their job, they were cut off from their faith tradition, precisely at a time when they needed it most.

It was into this situation that Jesus arrives. He speaks words of hope to the people. He honours the heart of the message which was contained in the old ways. Then in the same breath he says it is possible to invite the foreigners and the unclean Jews like James and John to become full partners in God’s kingdom. This is a radical new message, which touches a very deep need in their hearts. Jesus offers them the acceptance and purpose they desperately need. Jesus offers them much more than an idea to believe in. He gives them another option to consider as they considered their future. Like many other peasants they could give up fishing to go find better paying jobs in the city. They could go in desperation to join the rebel bandits who lived up in the hills. Instead they find their purpose in life by following the way of Jesus.

One of the most important things the early disciples learned, and which we as the disciples of Jesus today need to learn, is how to live fully and completely in Christ’s world. Jesus’ strength comes from his being able to integrate his faith and his life. He doesn’t consider the sacred and the profane to be two separate worlds. He doesn’t remove the spirit from the body. He doesn’t split people up into categories or nationalities. It’s all one. God is the god of the just and the unjust. God is god of the saints and the sinners. As a consequence we cannot separate Christ from the world for which he died. If we limit who we are willing to love, we are denying the fact that Christ died for all people.  As his disciples we cannot hide from the sick, the mental patients, the elderly and the poor. Jesus embraced and blessed these people.  He helped them all and he healed them all.

When Jesus makes James and John his disciples, he shares his love for the world with them. Then he sends them out to preach to the lost and to heal the sick. James and John do not become better than their fellow fishery workers when they start to follow Jesus. For Jesus sends them right back to those very same fishing villages that they have just come from. He sent them back to speak words of hope to their brothers and sisters, who are still trapped in a world of despair. He shows them a way of life which does not set them above or apart.

To be a disciple is to be one of Christ’s people. It is to live out the truth that Christ died to set us all free. Salvation is not a reward for the privileged few. Christ died for every abused woman. He died for every person on welfare. He died for every motherless child in a refugee camp. He died for every cancer patient. When God becomes human in Jesus Christ, he takes on all of the world, and all of our suffering. If we say we believe in Christ, we are saying we are one of Christ’s people. When we commit ourselves to Christ, as his disciples, we are committing ourselves to sharing the pain of this world.

It is not easy to be a disciple of Jesus. The bible tells us that the sons of Zebedee were not always perfect in their discipleship. Sometimes they did think they were better than everyone else. When Jesus sees their mistake he makes a real effort to teach them their true place. He reminds them that the way to true greatness is by being the servant of all people. To be great in God’s Kingdom they have to be as helpless as the poor fishermen they once were. Jesus wants them to learn to trust in God’s ability to save the world. The first rule of being a disciple is to remember that it is not our job to save the world. For Christ has already done this. He has saved the world by his ministry of teaching and healing. He has also saved it by his life, his death and by the power of his resurrection.

Our job as disciples is to communicate this good news to the world. We are to be the ones who shine this light of God’s love in our Renfrew County home. This community has changed a lot since it was first founded 200 years ago by our European ancestors. People from all over the world now call this growing cosmopolitan town their home. The old ways are fading away and some people are reacting to these changes with fear and anger. Like James and John we are struggling to learn how to live with our new neighbours. As followers of Jesus we want this community to be a place that supports everyone who chooses to make their home here. We can help make this happen because to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to open your life to God’s redeeming presence. It is to see yourself as one of God’s people, for we are not better or separate from everyone else. As a disciple of Jesus we are invited to share in the suffering of others as we work with others to make this world a better place.  When Jesus invites us to use our power to be least of all and servant of all, it is so there might be an abundance of mercy, peace, and love for us all.

 

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