Sunday, April 18

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* There are four 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 video appropriately whereas if you click YouTube videos of hymn you will have to listen in their entirety. Each section also contains pictures that we are not displaying on the website.



Welcome and Announcements



Thank you for joining us for this worship service. We are very happy that you are able to join us and celebrate God’s peace with us today and many days yet to come.

Please pray for Bob and Isobel N. They were both diagnosed with COVID. Both Bob and Isobel have been given the first vaccine in March. They are hoping that since they had the first dose of vaccine, they will come through okay.

Please pray for Hugh and Judy M. Hugh has been fighting cancer for the last few years. He has been on an experimental drug. Doctors are concerned that his situation does not really look good at this stage. Judy has been having her health issues on and off.

Please pray Harry and Betty J. Harry is continuing to be looked after at home. The difficult decision for the family is whether to move him to Palliative Care Hospice or not.

Please pray for Andy P. Andy has been dealing with cancer.

Please pray for Bernie K. as he begins his recovery at home.

Also pray for Doris R., Robert and Virginia W., Peggy M. and others.

As the lockdown deepens it is important for us to pray for all those hospitals including the doctors, nurses, and the rest of the staff as we pray for patients and their families. It is sad that we are in this very difficult stage of fighting pandemic. Let us pray for all who are struggling because of this virus as well.

Make me a channel of your peace vs. 1






There are many who say, ‘O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!’
You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. Psalm 4:6-8

Make me a channel of your peace vs. 2




“Peace!” we shout marching shoulder to shoulder in a world full of sorrow as shouts of protest against the world of too many deaths. “Peace!” we shout as our hope for the world without violence and war having witnessed too many broken and maimed bodies. “Peace!” we shout because we know not what else to do in the face of destruction that took all our spirits.

“Peace!” we cry through our tears of exhaustion, having lost all energies trying to save lives. “Peace!” we cry because there are no more tears left to shed in this fight, having tried to revive the dying bodies all around us. “Peace!” we cry as a desperate plea to save those who still remain, yet, oblivious to dangers that await for them.

“Peace!” we whimper because our voices have lost the courage to acknowledge the atrocities inflicted on brothers and sisters by our own hands. “Peace!” we whimper because we know deep in our hearts that our way of thinking unleashed pain and anguish on the littles ones of God. “Peace!” we whimper because we do not know how else to make things better for the ones who suffered so that all others may find peace.

Make me a channel of your peace vs. 3




War is a disease, a world sickness, for which we know no ready cure. WE cannot even agree upon the diagnosis. But no one will maintain today that "all's right with the world." It if full of hate and murder and bitterness and hunger and waste and pessimism and fear and sorrow...
The nature of man! Does it perhaps all come back to that--this world sickness? Is it possible that human phenomena, can all be related to human beings?...
The world is made up of people, but the people of the world forget this. It is hard to believe that, like ourselves, other people are born of women, reared by parents...
Yet, there is a science of peace, a science of man for himself and, by the same token, there is a remedy for war. "Two contrary laws seem to be wrestling with one another nowadays," said Louis Pasteur: "the one a law of blood and death ever imagining new means of destruction. . . the other, a law of peace, wrok, and health ever evolving new means of delivering man from the scourges which beset him." It was Freud who related these two contrary laws to the innate nature of human beings; it was he who recognized that the destructiveness of human beings is not the result of some passing ever, some incidentally occasioned accident in the normal course of life, but the expression of a deep persistent instinct. It was also Freud who showed us that the impulse to live and love is likewise an instinctual endowment of human beings and a source of strength in opposition to the self-destructiveness. Die we must, ultimately, but in the meantime we can live, if we can love.
"This medicine, love, which cures all sorrow" was prescribed by JEsus long before Donne and by Gautama Buddha long before JEsus. (Karl Meninger Love against Hate)

To God and to others we ask, “Where is peace?” Black Lives Matter has shown us the violence unleashed on the powerless. Standing Rock has shown us the last resolve to confront the violence of the powerful. Wet'suwet'en people, too, stood tall against all the pressures bringing the attention of the entire Canada on the cost of building a pipeline.






O God, what are we to do?
When your peace confronts the peace of this world?
When your teachings cause people to raise arms?
When your person is made into weapons by all sides?

Where do we find peace, God of peace?




The fact that the "word" of the Bible is human and time-conditioned makes it no less "of God." In the Bible God communicates Himself to the extraordinary extent that one can say that there is something "of God" in the words... Jesus as "fully divine and fully human" has been rejected not only consciously by nonbelievers but also unconsciously by believers. The nonbeliever regards the fully divine as incompatible with the human; the believer often regards the fully human as incompatible with the divine. To the biblical exception to the full humanity of JEsus ("without sinning" in Heb. 4:15) are sometimes added "without ignorance,' "without temptation," and "without limitations of world view." Consequently, if another Christian, who believes in the divinity of Jesus, insists that Jesus did not know all things, did not foresee the distant future, and was tempted, having to learn obedience, christological fundamentalists will accuse that person of denying that Jesus is the Son of God. Small wonder that if a believer in revelations and inspiration insists that the biblical word is human, time conditioned, and subject to limitations and error, biblical fundamentalists will accuse that person of denying that the Bible is the word of God. .
St. John Chrysostom recognized what was involved when he wrote that it was "for the sake of our salvation" that God expressed Himself in the Scriptures where "the ordinariness of the words is made necessary by our limitations." (Raymond E. Brown The Critical Meaning of the Bible.)



Scripture: Matthew 10:34-39
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.



O Lord, is this the peace that you gave to your disciples? Instead of keeping everything the way it always has been, this talk of setting a son against the father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law would mean chaos for us. How are we to tell the world to seek peace when following you divides us so severely, breaking up our families as we know it? How are we to convince our friends who value family above all else that following you will mean that they have to love you more than their loved ones?

What do we do, O Lord, when they laugh at us and tell us to get real? How are we to say to them that loving you is far more important than loving their children? Even in churches, Lord, many devout people have already told us that they are not willing to go this far. So in this world where everyone is convinced that loving and caring for their families is the most important priority, how are we to speak to them about what you are telling us here?

O dear Lord, do not be angry with me and be gentle with me when I ask you these questions. As I muster all my courage to find ways to speak of this passage, I find myself cringing, not because I am unwilling, but because they will turn away from me. O kind Lord, fill me with the Spirit to speak to others about this in wisdom and truth.

Sermon: Double Edged Good News



Last Sunday was far easier, O Lord, as we explored the nature of peace you gave to your disciples. Yet, even last Sunday, we were following you through troubles of all kinds as the status quo was upset by you everywhere. Those who were in power sought to kill you and eventually succeeded by making Pilate to execute you on the cross. The peace that you gave your disciples was not the maintenance of the status quo where the powerful were flourishing while the poor and the weak were perishing. We realized that peace you gave was to let the poor and those who have been marginalized to enjoy life, too, or live life without worries about where their next meal was coming from and fight for every scrap in order to insure their survival. When you brought God’s peace, it did something totally unexpected. Instead of being overjoyed and being received gladly, it caused division. What are we to do, O dear Lord, when we are trying our best to go along in order to get along with others?

O dear Lord, do not be angry with me and be gentle with me when I ask you these questions. As I muster all my courage to find ways to speak of this passage, I find myself cringing, not because I am unwilling, but because they will turn away from me. O kind Lord, fill me with the Spirit to speak to others about this in wisdom and truth.

O my Lord, I have searched high and low, far and wide, for a way to soften this passage and make it easy for others to accept it. But the pictures I found made me wonder. A picture of you hold a sword, a sword protruding from your mouth, you with sword on one side and olive branch on the other… How am I to witness you as the Prince of Peace? A man of peace? Messiah who brings peace?

He gave his back to the smiters.
He gave his back to the smiters.
And his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair;
And his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair;
And his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair;
He hid not his face from shame and spitting.
He hid not his face from shame, from shame,
He hid not his face from shame, from shame and spitting.
(Isaiah 50:6)





To understand why Jesus was saying that he came bringing swords or war instead of peace, we need to understand the cries of the people of Israel from their very beginning. The Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggeman did an excellent work on the topic of Israel’s cries to God throughout his lifelong studies. According to him, we need to understand the economic structures that have been established by human beings from the beginning. To represent these economic structures throughout history including today’s capitalism we live under, he explains that the Bible points to Pharaoh as the symbol of the power in all economic structures constructed by human beings. The powerful in all societies gained ever increasing power by subjugating and exploiting others. In Pharaoh’s case, he built granaries that held food and was able to use them to his advantage. As the Bible described, when times were good and food were plentiful due to good harvests, people did not really notice what Pharaoh was capable of. It was when famine struck and people needed food, they had to go and slowly exchange what they had including their own selves for food. Initially they gave Pharaoh livestock and lands. Eventually they gave themselves as slaves to him. From that point on, Pharaoh knew that he could exploit cheap labour and become stronger and stronger. In these strong imperial regimes, the rulers showed no mercy for slaves as they squeezed out more in order to amass even greater powers. The weak, the poor, and the slaves were not able to rest and enjoy peace at all in these economic structures. Prophets were the ones who spoke on behalf of these poor, weak and enslaved people against the powerful rulers who were reaping the benefits by ruthlessly treating these helpless people.

In the world in which Jesus came, the powerful ones were continuing to mistreat these ones at the margin or ones Jesus called “little ones.” After so many years since Israel came into the promised land, nothing changed but the rulers. Instead of Pharaohs of Egypt, now their own kings were doing the same things that Egyptian Pharaohs did. After ridiculing and silencing prophets like Amos, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Hosea, Israel in Jesus’ time was no better off a place for those who were not in the positions of power. Jesus’ good news, that the kingdom of heaven (or God’s reign) was about to break into this world, bringing peace to all, was upsetting the order as these powerful people enjoyed it with brutal force. Under God’s reign as God’s justice reigns, it would be impossible for the powerful to enjoy their status because they could no longer exploit the poor and the weak. After all, their power was based on extracting cheap labour from their slaves and their poor. Under God’s reign even those slaves and their poor would not be subject to their merciless rules which would benefit the powerful the most. The peace that Jesus gave would mean that the poor, the weak, the slaves, the widows, the orphans, and the ones at the margin would also enjoy life without worries and fears. Yes, life without worries and fears, because under God’s reign, all would live with sufficient means, threatens the very structures of societies built by the powerful to benefit them the most. Their threats and use of brutal forces would be powerless against all who have no fear, but love, hope, and faith. Their stature of power built on debts and threats of death no longer affects those who used to be at the margins as the poor, the weak, etc.
In this context let us return and look at today’s passage again.

Matthew 10 begins with the names of twelve disciples, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These disciples are being given instructions as they are being sent out into the world with the Good News of God and how they will face persecution. Just prior to our passage, they are told whom to fear and whom not to fear. Then, Jesus tells them clearly, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” In this passage we see how following Jesus and receiving this peace from Jesus creates the division in the world. Jesus knew this well.

In his speech to the disciples, he describes how his message or the Gospel of peace will function in the world. His peace message pits a son against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Initially it sounds as if Jesus is addressing the domestic situation of everyone. By referring to very intimate relationships within the family. There is not a situation that is more troublesome than a parent and a child locked in a battle against each other. A child rebelling against a parent is expected and tolerated to a degree. However, it is seen as very unacceptable if these sorts of rebellions pit parents against their children causing breaks in familial relationships. Here, definitely, Jesus is referring to permanent breaks that will divide and bring in severe stresses in the families.

One thing that is not talked about much by Christians throughout history about this statement is how children are very powerless when compared to their parents in all situations in Jesus’ time as well as ours. The power belongs to the parents in the same way a parental figure, king, is powerful over his subjects. By using this very intimate power imbalance, Jesus shows how the entire world will change if children or the powerless do not have to depend on parents or the powerful in life. If, indeed, there are no worries for children because they are able to act as equals with their parents, or peasants with their king, what would the world be like? Jesus seems to be alluding that under God’s reign when all people are to live equally worry and fear free, human authorities and their social and cultural structures will be null and void or crumble. No one can lord over another. No one can exploit, abuse, oppress another in order to extract any gain in power and wealth. This is what peace means when Christ brings and gives it to this world.

Under God’s reign, everyone will be able to find peace as her reality in ways that was not possible in this world. Everyone will be able to live worry and fear free because under God there are sufficient resources shared equitably by all. This notion of peace sets the powerless against the powerful because the powerless are no longer answering to the powerful, the weak do not have to fear the mighty, and the ones marginalized by others are included as part of the integrity of human societies. As Jesus upended all spiritual understanding, this peace from God that was declared by the angels to all the earth upends everything that human beings and societies have constructed to insure that the strong and the powerful will flourish as they exploit the weak and the powerless to amass and gobble up most of the resources for themselves. No wonder, the strong and the powerful did not welcome the coming of Jesus. No wonder they did everything in their power to put Jesus on the cross.

Who would have ever thought that true peace Christ gave could be such the very source that unleashes the destructive force against the world order and power structures? Who would have ever imagined that peace Christ gave could threaten this world? Yet, this is what Jesus understood it to be. He saw the upending of this world. He was clear about how the peace he gave would be subversive against the peace of this world. It is the very same thing the prophets in the Old Testament knew. In the same way the kings and their minions tried to kill, banish and silence these prophets for preaching God’s peace, they dealt with Jesus. Yet, Christ, after three days of silence, rose again breaking the silence imposed on him into this world bringing the true peace by which those who followed him would enjoy it ever since.

Those of us who have been living with God’s peace as given by Christ is serene in the face of a turbulent world. This is so because we are rooted in this peace that Christ gave. We know we are sharing in God’s recreation of this world according to God’s love that provides sufficiently for all our needs in all areas of our lives. Instead of hoarding power, we share it freely. When others greedily reach out for every little bit of power, we find ways to share it so that more and more of them will be freed from the grips of earthly power. When others wield the powers of this world, we respond to those powers in selfless and grace filled love. As those who hold the earthly power threaten the weak and the poor with death, we counter by giving up our earthly powers by joining with the weak and the poor in ways that death has no power over those of us who live in the peace Christ gave.

Now we know.

So where, O Lord, should we go to see your peace taking hold today?

To whom are you giving this peace that disturbs the status quo? Who are your disciples?

Who are the weak, the poor, and the marginal living the peace that pits against a son to his father, a daughter to her mother, a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law?

So Christ gave this peace, not as the world gave, but as the very way to live under God’s reign. This peace counters the peace preached by kings and their minions, or the powers of this world by freeing those who were suffering under the power of this world once and for all. This is why Jesus states, “Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but sword,” and in the same way, say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”


Offering:



Lord in this broken world where you have placed us,
open our ears to the voices that call,
crying for help, for direction, for comfort,
ease for the pain and relief over all.

Open our eyes, O Lord, that you can show us
how to bring healing and help for their pain.
Give us the wisdom and strength you have promised;
speak through your servants, we pray, once again.

Open our hearts, O Lord, show your love through us,
telling of you who alone can restore;
lifting and healing the broken in spirit,
offering your peace and a joy evermore.

Offering Prayer:



Through this very difficult time in our history, you have been steadfast, O God, in loving and caring for us. Though the death ravages the lives of many, you have shown how your love may bind us one to be together through your Son our Lord. In gratitude, we bring these offerings. We pray that these small gifts will be multiplied many times to make your love real for many people around us here and around the world. O God, through these small amounts, may your grace and mercy be shared in ways that many will be blessed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Closing Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus



Prayer



Help us, O God, to be your people.
As we struggle through another major lockdown with fears of so many dying including many young people, we bring ourselves in your presence without much power, strength, and courage. We are cowered before this pandemic not knowing how to love and care for one another at a distance, away from one another. In this confusion, may you come and focus our hearts on you in ways that we can love you and one another.

As if the news of deaths compounded by the pandemic is not enough, we are told of senseless killings that are taking place to our Southern neighbours, heartless incarcerations of migrants on many countries borders, inhuman sufferings in places of wars and refugee camps, and unimaginable pains being endured by many ordinary people around the world. As these news items hit us, we become numb in ways we do not know what to do. Awaken us with your Spirit, so that we may rise up to bring their cries to your ear and be compassionate in their trials. Fill the hearts of those who are angry, who are in despair, who are losing hope, who are worried because of financial difficulties, and who are continually struggling with all matters of life.

When we turn our attention to our own country, we are again inundated with stories of anguish from all our leaders to everyone on our streets. As a society we are at loss to know which direction to go as your people. Fill us with your Spirit so that in all matters of our own worlds we may never forget to be strong in faith, giving hope and share your love with all. We pray for all who have lost their loved ones including the queen and all those who have been grieving over the past year because they were not able to be at bedside of their loved ones. We also pray for all those who were doing their best to share life with the dying in this past year.

Be mindful, O God, and hear our prayers for our own people here in our own members. We pray that you will be with Bob and Isobel, Bernie, Harry and Betty and all others we have mentioned earlier. They need your presence. They need your strength. Guard and protect them. Give them the strength of life that can only be found in your Son our Lord. Give each and everyone of us love to share with them so that life will be shared when the darkness overshadows them. All these and more, we pray in the name of your Son our Lord.

Benediction:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and always! Amen.