Sunday, April 11

If you would like to participate in worship at once without worry, Click here for Worship for April 11.

* There are five sections to this worship. Each section is made into a video of its own and placed before each section. Hymns are adjusted and laid out in the vide appropriately whereas if you click YouTube videos of hymn you will have to listen in their entirety.


Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for taking part in our worship. We are very thankful that you have made time to worship God with us.

We thank everyone for participating in our Easter worship last Sunday. There were about 18 of us who gathered on your behalf at the church yard for an outdoor worship service. As the Sun began shining, everything warmed up and we were able to sing, praise and worship God. We missed all those who were worshipping at home.

Thank you for continually supporting our church mission. We are now up to around $1,400.

We are doing our best to keep everyone safe during this third wave of COVID 19. As we do, we would like you to share your congratulations with Ron Spencer who had celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday. He was in good spirits as neighbours organized his birthday party on their driveway. Well, we thank God for keeping him safe and healthy as we give him our best wishes. I am sure he would love to hear from all of you. Initially I thought mistakenly that he didn’t want any fuss. At 100, he can put up with some fuss.

Please continue to pray for Bernie, Harry, and others who need our support.

The session meeting was initially scheduled for last Wednesday. We will hold the meeting in a very different form in order to comply with the pandemic restrictions.



Praise, I will praise (verse 1 only)



Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.’ (vs. 1-3)

“In A.D. 325 the Council of Nicaea solemnly defined the divinity o fJesus; in 451 the Council of Chalcedon solemnly defined his full humanity. Since that time, the Church has stubbornly reaffirmed against all opponents her faith that Jesus is true God and true man.” (Raymond E. Brown)

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2:7)

Praise, I will praise you Lord (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWuTvpiVEmY) (verse 2 only)

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessing with generous hands, without asking questions for fixing limits…
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has… is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing. (verse 1 & 4)



John 20:24-29

Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Open our eyes, Lord



With all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our spirits, we come to pray, O Lord our God. Hear our cries. Receive our tears. Embrace our pains.

What is a human being that you have chosen to love her?
Who am I that you have called me to belong to your Son?

We lift up our hearts, O God, to call on you.
Hear our prayers.

O Lord hear my prayer


O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer
When I call answer me
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer
Come and listen to me.

Oh, Lord, are you here?

Can you hear me?

In mumbled, muffled, mutilated words of my heart,
     I swallow them whole,
In case they reach you.

Do these wretched pained words in my hearts
Cause your ears to close
Because of the ugliness of me they contain?

Do you hear me?
Strings of words like a spring of water in the deep woods,
   Percolate endlessly covering my being
Like oozing sewer water.
Does the sight of us doused in misery, weakness, without power
   Force your eyes to turn away
Lest this torn spirit of mine makes you angry?

Will you hear me?
When my words, foul and horrid
Taint you for being my God?

Jesus, remember me



When Jesus, your Son, walked on the road to Golgotha,
Did he not look like me?
Covered in blood,
Slashed and hacked?

When Jesus, our Lord, hung on the cross,
Did he not appear like me?
Disfigured in body,
Exhausted in soul,
Grasping for the last breath?

Jesus, lover of my soul (verse 1)



On the third day, O God,
The Son was raised from the dead.
Mary Magdalene in tears, ran with the glad news to all!
The beloved disciple saw and believed!
Thomas, even Thomas,
Confessed, “My Lord! My God!”

He is Lord



In your grace,
Will you call me in your Son?
Will you raise me from the dead?
Will you let me live with you, now and ever?

Lord’s Prayer



Our Father who art in heaven



Offering
All things bright and beautiful



Offering Prayer

In Easter joy, we are.
Rejoicing with the risen Christ, we sing.

Joyful, joyful for the new life given,
Brilliant, jubilant for the new life received,

Signs of
     Gratitude,
     Appreciation,
     Blessings,
Humbly we bring.

Glory, honour, blessings unto you, now and ever. Amen.

I danced in the morning



Scripture: John 14:25-29



Sermon:
“Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives”

Last Sunday was Easter. We celebrated our belief that Jesus died and rose again. We are given this new life. What is this new life, you ask? Well, it’s a life in which salvation is ours to enjoy, we say. It means that we no longer have to worry about our sins and live life under God, not just any life, but a life of wonder and mystery that brings us eternal joy and fulfilment. If this is the case, how come after 2 millennia, we are still struggling as Christians in this world? How is it that many of us are still poor, destitute, sad, sick, hungry, worried and are in fear?

Didn’t Jesus say that he gave us peace? Doesn’t that mean that we are to flourish in life without fear and anxiety about wars and violence in life? Peace as absence of war or violence in life is the very first thing that comes to mind. Yet, there is no sense that we are without violence in our world. The only Christian nation, the one that is located South of our border, is more than mired in hatred and violence that we would not call it a peaceful nation, especially if you are poor, sick, jobless, black, indigenous, hispanics or more recently Asians. Even among whites, violence is rampant as killings continue. We see that even in church services, guns are drawn and people are shot. So how do we deal with the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus which ought to have resulted in us receiving his peace?

The second thing comes to mind is a state of being in peace, tranquility, calm or at rest. As the Psalm 23 draws for us, we imagine being led near the calm waters in a meadow enjoying life without any worries. Sadly, though, today, the minds of Christians are as full of fears, anxiety, sorrows, griefs, and guilt as ever before. How could this be, if we are truly God’s people called in Christ and are given his peace?

The third thing about our understanding of peace is that it is something we need to agree on if we are to live in peace. That is, in our world, nations need to come together and hammer out an agreement not to harm each other and keep this promise. A truce from harming is essential. Yet, as we see in our world politics, every nation seems to look for loopholes in order to breach the promises they made and gain an advantage against another. The world, including Christians, have become accustomed to everyone breaking the promise made. This willingness to break promises to keep peace no longer surprises us after having experienced all politicians routinely breaking their promises for one reason or another.

What is peace? What is this peace that Jesus is giving to his disciples? Now that his death and resurrection has become our reality in this post Easter season, it is worthwhile exploring. What comes to mind when we speak of peace? Do the above three senses of peace any closer to the peace Jesus is talking about? We will look at these questions for the rest of April Sundays.

It appears that this word, peace, needed no explanation to those who lived when the Gospels were written. It appears only three times in Matthew and Mark, 12 times in Luke and 5 times in John. Only once in Luke, but three times in John, the resurrected Jesus uses it as a greeting. In Luke, peace is used as part of prophecy regarding John the Baptist (Luke 1:79), as part of praise of angel and heavenly hosts (2:14), in Simeon’s words at the Temple (2:29), and in shouts of crowd when Jesus was entering Jerusalem (19:38). All these are to show that peace was neither the most drummed up message of Jesus nor the desire of the people of Israel. It is one of those things that were assumed to be important, but not as important as other matters like deliverance, sin and salvation to people during Jesus’ ministry.

Contrary to people of Jesus’ time, peace is one of the most important concerns of our time. This is because we know how precarious and fragile it is after having come out of two world wars and many more regional wars all over the world. It remains as one of the most important issues of our time because Americans have been involved in endless wars since WWII all over the world and are signaling to the world that other powers like China and Russia are major threats while Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela are the major regional threats to peace. In the meantime we have been living under wars against drugs, against gangs, against terrorists and so on. We have been so immersed in these war metaphors that we use them to describe struggles against cancers, diseases and even COVID 19. That is, all our struggles in life are now unconsciously described as threats to our peace as we define peace in terms of absence of pain, both physical and mental. Peace, therefore, is one of the most important concerns for us because we are surrounded by threats to our well being of mind and body in the 21st century.

What did peace mean to the people who were listening to Jesus? As part of the mighty Roman Empire, Jews in Israel were able to enjoy relative peace as Pax Romana was at its height in most regions of the Empire. There were no major wars around Mediterranean or Middle East regions. There were occasional small scale rebellions by Jews and others. Those were mostly about regaining political control of their nations. In general, regular people in Israel were left alone to live their lives. A few inconveniences like paying taxes to Rome were minor compared to when they were in constant battles with neighbouring nations. In this context, peace was present, but not fully in the sense that they did not have independence from Rome. Peace was not one of the major issues for the population in Israel. For the Jews, then, when Jesus spoke of peace, they understood it to include stable life within a Jewish nation with autonomous Jewish leaders who were only accountable to God.

Did Jesus mean by the same things when he used the word, peace, as understood by the Jews of his time? Very unlikely. We know this (we will discuss this fully in next two Sundays) because Jesus specifically said that he did not give peace as the world gave. There was something different the way the peace was given. This difference stemmed from the very way peace was understood. For Jews, peace was something that did not come naturally but through hard work of leaders. In the world, peace was a state of being that could be created or taken away by kings and princes. If these political leaders chose not to enter into wars by negotiations or by other means, their subjects could enjoy a period without disruption. This is still true today. If our political leaders choose not to go to war with other nations, there would be peace. That is, peace was seen as something that depended on the leadership of all nations. The leaders could give their subjects peace or war.

In Jesus’ understanding, however, peace that he spoke of is the peace that belonged as part of God’s reign. It is not something human beings could establish through treaties. God had already established it and gave it to the world. The reality was the world refused God’s peace and made peace something they could control. The big difference was that God’s peace was for the flourishing of all who belonged under God. It was not something that could be manipulated to enrich or benefit leaders and the powerful only, but the very conditions of life which gave everyone to be the image of God as God created them to be without any worries. Any human or earthly force that impeded each person to be as God created to be inevitably disrupted the peace God instituted in the world at the creation of the world.

The cries of prophets accused kings and princes, the powers that ignored pleas of the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and the weak, for destroying justices and making it not possible, by implication, for these downtrodden people to enjoy peace. In various statutes and commands, the people of Israel were continually admonished to look after these weaker and poorer brothers and sisters. Prophets’ condemnations against those who mistreated these little ones were scathing and unforgiving. In this vein, Jesus summarized all God’s commands into the new commandment: to love God and love neighbours. As if to emphatically stress this point of loving even the least among them, Jesus spoke to his disciples that he was giving them peace, not as the world gives, after he told them to keep his commandments.

This peace, though was instituted at the beginning of creation, was lost as love was lost. When only some were loved while others were not, that made peace incomplete at best and had become all too human in its failings. Jesus’ ministry was to announce the coming of God’s peace. Isaiah 52:7 points this out clearly:
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’

Here, peace, good news, salvation, and God’s reign are all tied up together. Peace is, therefore, what Jesus brought to give when he announced that God’s reign was near and through him the salvation was made possible for all.

Christians, as the Easter People, are ones who live with this peace. Jesus through disciples gave peace to all who believe in him as the Saviour. By very definition and nature, Christians witness this peace that Christ gave in this world, torn apart by wars and human power struggles for wealth and riches. Unlike the people in the world, we live in ways that in this peace all are to flourish. Our reality is, therefore, very different from that of our secular neighbours. This is why it is so hurtful, destructive, and damaging when among Christians this peace Christ gave is missing when one group fights to destroy others who think, act or be different in ethics, morals and theologies, when some divide and exclude others, and when some shun those whom they regard as less in stature and social positions. Yes, any action that prohibits the flourishing of God’s image in others is hindering the peace of Christ from taking hold.

It is our responsibility as the inheritor and bearer of this peace to witness, share, and proclaim this peace to the world, for in Christ, as surely as we have received it, is now in the world as part of God’s reign unfolding for all God’s people.

Next Sunday, we will take a look at how this peace that Christ gave causes so much division within this world. On the Sunday following we will discuss what it means to share the greetings, “Peace be with you!” and the response, “And also with you!”



Prayer

As we celebrate your resurrection, O Lord, may you fill us with peace and joy. Our lives have been mired in fear and death as COVID 19 virus and its variants are succumbing more and more people into hospital beds. In this relentless struggle for life, we are once again locked down as another round of difficulties are affecting so many people. Oh, Christ, the one who has won victory over death for us, come to us now and fill us with your Spirit in ways that we may share your love that leads to life with all.

Help us to remember to love. May everyone in sharing love find patience. After more than a year of restrictions, people are frustrated and angry. Any little changes are setting people off in ways to pit one against another. Through this love where patience is the first and foremost response, may we find ways to help others be first as we take last places.

May your love be manifested as kindness among all peoples. Help us to love others by being kind in all circumstances. With all of us being restricted in our movements and choices, we have forgotten to be kind. As your children, may we be reminded to be kind each time we encounter someone who is frustrated and upset.

O Lord, may we carry on in all our daily struggles with gentleness. We are witnessing so many who have been unable to express their anger any other ways, but by hurting others. Killing has become a regular fair among our American neighbours. We are also seeing terrible things happening as people lash out against politicians and anyone they disagree with. May we discover your way of love by sharing gentleness in these situations doing our best to refrain from being rude to others.

By the Holy Spirit, guide us to live with hope. Each day as we awake, may we remember how Jesus suffered and died at the hands of torturers, yet was raised from the dead so that we may overcome human enmities and live to love, even to love our enemies. In so doing, may we manifest the peace you gave us and joy we received as we share our love for you and for neighbours.

All these, we pray in your risen Son’s name, Amen.

Thy loving kindness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=



The Lord bless and keep you.