Sunday, April 25

If you would like to participate in worship at once without worry, Click here for Worship for April 25.

*Today's worship is divided into four parts. 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 God’s people in worship. Each Sunday we pray that you are richly blessed for being part of this community of worship through a variety of means. It has been a while since we were together. However, it is our prayer that God continues to bind us together as one people in Christ, giving this love that we share as a community.

Special thanks to Linda Fraser, Ruth Carnevale, and Gail Opie for continually working hard for Saturday Lunch Takeouts. We also thank Verna for delivering most of these lunches. We are still giving out between 60 and 70 lunches each week. If you are able to donate dessert items, we would appreciate your contribution very much.

As each Sunday goes by without being able to gather, we are concerned in finding ways to keep everyone encouraged and be part of the church. This is why it is so important that we look after each other. Last Sunday we shared the news that Bob and Isobel N. were given the positive test results for COVID. Thank you for praying for them. As I was speaking with Isobel, she reminded me to pray for many other residents who tested positive. There were altogether 36 people with positive results. Please pray for them.

As we move forward, we wonder about our future. There are many who are not doing well. As you pray for them all, we also ask you to pray for the future of our church. It is essential to remember to ask God to open us a new future where we will witness the Gospel of Christ for many years yet to come.

Prologue

We have been discussing peace in the month of April. Here are a few things our Living Faith says:

Christ, the Prince of Peace, calls his followers to seek peace in the world. (LF 8.5.1)

The tragic evil that comes with war, the slaughter of men, women, and children must rouse us to work for peace. (LF 8.5.2)

Wars, it seems, have always been present as long as humanity existed on earth. Peace was always a dream for humanity. We work so hard to get it, and very easily lose it when egos, greed for power, and feelings of revenge take over the minds of people. Peace is broken and lost when justice and equity are trampled. In our unjust and corrupt world, people who seek justice are the ones working for peace. It has always been so. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way as he pondered on how unjust treatment of blacks in the US led to wars and how wars were killing those who were unjustly oppressed by their government:

As many of you can recall, the fight for peace in the 1960s was all tied with stopping the war in Vietnam. Civil right unrests were tied deeply with peace protests in that decade. After WWII, the world desired peace, but in reality, we have been mired in smaller wars ever since as the world powers jockeyed for positions of power and influence. We still see how wars are waging in the Middle East, especially in Yemen. Now Americans, Chinese, and Russians are engaged in saber rattling, putting the entire world in fear.



Like this young person sings the Song of Peace, our simplest desire is for peace. Most of the people on earth wish to get on with life instead of war. This is why this simple Song of Peace touches so many hearts and is continually being sung.
Those of you who lived through the 1960s and the 1970s, you remember the song, “Give peace a chance.” Much of this song by the Beatles was very simple refrain, “All we are sayin’ give peace chance!.”

Often we relish the thought of living in peace. We have been conditioned to think from very early on that peace is a state of being in which I have little or nothing to do in creating it, but is fortunate enough to enjoy it because our country has been able to stay out of wars. We have not really been involved in major wars since WWII. In the past, Canada was fully involved in the UN's peacekeeping missions. We remember proudly how Louis St. Laurent, our prime minister, was seen as a champion who averted a major war that was about to be started because of the Suez Canal crisis. Yes, there was a time that we, as a nation, prided ourselves in keeping peace between warring nations. We also have various mechanisms that are similar within our Canadian governance structures. Our police were often called “peace officers” to remind us that these officers were once seen as bringing some order when social orders broke down among people. The court system, especially the civil court, was about bringing equitable decisions to often rancorous disputes between individuals. In a way the business of personal counselling, especially the area of marital counselling services, tended to be about working on peace--peace between two people. Teachers were also thought to be the ones keeping peace in classrooms. A myriad of people in authority were thought to be involved in the peacekeeping business in order for everyone to stay safe.

Remember another famous hit of the Beatles, Imagine? The lyrics of this song asks people to imagine what it would be like to live in a just and peaceful world. Before the Beatles, Christians who have been slaves for hundreds of years began agitating for peace. Unlike the Beatles and others, their imagination culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech where a peace filled world would be a place for all to enjoy justice and equity. The picture of this world of Christian peace is not simply a time when “all the people living for the day” and where “there is no country.” As we discussed, the peace Christ gave was not serene and filled with universally accepted values. This peace was agitating and was confronting the peace of this world where some benefited and the most suffered. (speech)

Opening Prayer:
In your mercy, we come, O God. In your grace, you have called us. In our gathering is your ever present love always recreating us so that life may be abundant in this world. Pour into us your Spirit. Shape us as your people in this worship. Make us yours. We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.



Guernica by Picasso

Tomorrow, April 26 is the day when Spanish people remember the bombing of Guernica, a city in Spain by Germany and Italy. The politics of bombing of Guernica is complicated. What is important for us to focus on is that Picasso drew this picture and is now accepted as one of the most moving anti-war pictures to be drawn in the 20th century. On that day, Guenica was mainly filled with women and children. Most men were fighting the war for the Republican side against the Nationalists elsewhere. The carnage of that day is depicted in this picture, making us ask a simple question, “For whose peace were these women and children killed? Why such a high price?”

In the early part of the 20th century, peace was on everyone’s mind, but wars were what filled time for the world. The entire world craved for peace, yet, the peace that Christ gave was not the peace that people were seeking out. The end products in secular peace projects were nothing but killings, maiming, and destructions of both minds and bodies.

After WWII, people’s attention turned more to rebuilding and reconstructions of what we lost in the wars. Yet, at the fringe, wars and battles continued. Korean War, War in Vietnam, and the stand off between Americans and Soviets are only few that we know. Once the major threat of war was no longer upon us we shifted our focus of peace to something more personal. We resumed on the same path we were on before the world wars on making the world of peace since the age of enlightenment and finally culminating in the modern Protestant thinking. It has to do with our understanding of peace in personal space. There are two major developments in this regard. One is that peace is God’s gift that we can enjoy fully when we are in faith as we are fully loved. In this one, we depend on God to receive peace who is our ultimate authority. This view limits us as the unworthy recipients whose response is simply shown through our thanksgiving for this immense grace. The other is our faithful attempt at enjoying God’s peace as our spiritual journey. This second one has a long understanding from the early Church, but was developed by those spiritually minded people more recently under the pursuit of spiritual life. They have built practice of discovering peace on the practices of the mystics of the Church like Theresa of Avila, Meister Ekhart, and other monastic ancestors. In this case, obtaining peace is hard faith work by which we discard our old selves in order to be filled with God’s peace here and now. In our age of self improvement and development, this latter way has gained a large following. In both cases, however, peace is personal that “I” enjoy as God pours it on me or I have worked to get to the point of enjoying peace in God. That is, it is all “I” focused and centred. I alone benefit from this peace either given graciously or obtained with my own hard work.

Hymn: Be still my soul


Scripture: Luke 10:1-7
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

Hymn: Be still and know that I am God v. 1


Last Sunday’s focus was on the very uncomfortable reality of Jesus’ peace clashing with the world’s peace. It made us rethink everything and realize how difficult it was to share in peace that were to be had through the upsetting of this world’s ways. This week’s focus is a bit different.

If you have been following through today’s passage carefully, you see that Jesus is getting ready to send out his disciples into the world two by two. He gives them instructions as to what they ought to do and how they should behave. There are some striking instructions: 1. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; 2. Greet no one on the road; 3. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” The rest of the paragraph is the explanation of what “peace” means. Let us take a closer look.

The persons who come in the name of Jesus carry nothing that is of value in this world. They bring no money, no material possessions, and not even a spare pair of sandals. Strange to our ears, but this is what it means to come in peace. They are totally vulnerable to this world because these disciples depend entirely on one who sends and ones who receive them. Though the disciples know who sends them, they do not know who is receiving them. Going about in the world without anything, they signify to the world they do bring neither threats nor perils. They come as people with nothing. They are Galileeans in twos on their way carrying nothing of value even for thieves and bandits. They embody peace in that they can neither intimidate nor put fear in others since they have no weapons. Peace, therefore, is fully in their spirits and their souls as Jesus’ disciples with the good news to share with the world. In our world we cannot imagine seeing our missionaries not carrying bags. I still see many Christian missionaries carrying bags full of medicines and Bibles. I used to carry them myself to other parts of the world to share the message of salvation. Yet, here, Jesus clearly instructs his disciples not to carry anything. In today’s life, what can we do with this instruction? Is it feasible? How does this instruction make me feel when I do not like to be put in this very uncomfortable situation?





Some time ago, a young woman came by our church. She wanted to work. She had difficulty speaking any language I knew. She seemed to need help. When I told her there was nothing much I could do, she offered to work. When I tried my best to tell her that we had no jobs for her, she told me that as a painter she could do something. Then, she told me that she drew icons. She wanted to sell me some icons she drew. I was not too keen on icons. She showed me any ways. I told her that I had no money to buy her hand-drawn icons. She needed money. I gave her five dollars. She wanted me to take one of the icons. When I told her that I could not take any icons, she left me two and went on her way. One of the icons is pictured here. It is an icon of a woman saint with a wound on her forehead.

Hymn: Be still and know that I am God v. 2



The second instruction is a bit more perplexing. They are not to greet anyone. We would have presumed that the disciples would have been delighted to meet new people on the road and share the good news. This is the way we would understand what it means to share the Gospel with strangers and foreigners. We have been indoctrinated by missionaries of two centuries that they invited everyone they met to follow Jesus by receiving him as the Lord and Saviour in their lives. This teaching from missionary practices of the last two centuries stands in contrast to the instruction here. They are not to greet anyone on the road. This is a hard saying for any Christian evangelist who is eager to spread the gospel. In my younger days, I used to come across so many Christians on the road who wanted to engage in conversations with me in order to save my soul or give me Biblical tracts. Today, we see Mormon missionaries and Jehovah’s witnesses engaging you on the streets. When I am in a missionary mode, I, too, often engage strangers on our streets. This is very natural for all of us who want to share the good news of Christ. Here, however, Jesus tells them not to greet anyone on the road. This is the second way that others see Jesus’ disciples on the road and come to know what the people of peace are like. They bring no threats, bothers no one with agendas, and let others be in peace.

Who is this woman saint with a wound on her forehead? There is a female saint in Italy whose name was Rita of Cascia. She was betrothed at the age of 12 to a noble man. She pleaded with her parents that she be let into a convent rather than marry a man. When her pleading fell on deaf ears and she was married into this noble person’s house, she found out that her husband was both verbally and physically abusive. She suffered much. She gave birth to two sons. With her devotion, however, she made her husband into a decent man only to be killed by another noble household. She forgave the murderer of her husband. However, her brother in law insisted on revenge as was the custom and also wanted Rita’s sons to walk the path of vengeance. Her brother in law insisted on educating her sons to avenge their father’s murder. When the sons went to live with her brother in law and became more and more filled with hatred, she prayed that God would take her sons so that they would not be involved in this cycle of vengeance. A year later they went to live with their uncle, both sons died of dysentery.

Hymn: Be still and know that I am God v. 3


The third instruction is the most difficult. It says, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; if not, it will return to you.” There are no instructions on how to pick a house to enter. It may be at a whim or just based on a hunch or it may be a premonition that brings us into a house. Or it may simply be that there is only one that you feel safe to enter, remembering you have nothing to pay the host since you bring nothing with you. It is almost as if out of the total trust these disciples are to give their peace to the house by saying, “Peace to this house!” Is this a secret code? Is it something that identifies these disciples as harmless emissaries of God? How are the ones in the house to know these are people who need to be given a place to sleep and be fed? Indeed if the people in the house welcome them, they will do so out of their good hearts since they will be given nothing but peace in return. Remember these disciples have nothing else to give. The very first thing for them to say is peace to anyone in the house. That’s all. This, Jesus tells them, is sufficient. In this greeting, they are giving only one thing that they can give since they have nothing with them, peace that they brought. At this juncture, this statement signifies that they are coming without malice, threats, ill intentions. They are totally at the mercy of the host. By being who they are in their own poverty of everything, they bring themselves as the very gift of peace Jesus sent. Hosts can either receive or refuse them. Yes, by welcoming or declining, they either embrace or reject peace sent by Christ.

Once her sons died, she tried to enter a convent in Cascia only to be turned away because of her husband’s murder. At her persistence, the monastery gave her a condition entry. She had to bring about reconciliations between two families (hers and her husband’s murderer’s family). She prayed diligently. Her brother in law who was the major stumbling block in this reconciliation, died soon after because of the bubonic plague. She was finally able to bring two families together through hard work and prayer. Ste. Rita was known to have overcome all these human ills and finally found her peace under God.

Hymn: Sprit of the living God v. 1




When peace is received, here are signs of the manifestation of the peace that Jesus gives: a. They (the disciples) are to remain in that same house as long as they stay in that area; b. their needs are provided for; c. they are to eat everything prepared for them--they are to share fully in life with their hosts; d. they are to cure the sick and verbally let them know that the kingdom of God is near them. When peace is rebuffed, they are to wipe off even the dust of that town and proclaim that the kingdom of God is near. Without giving peace, that is. When peace that Jesus sent through the disciples is received graciously, the residents experience the signs of the kingdom. In refusal they are still to witness the judgment that God’s kingdom is near, yet, is not to become the living reality for them. Those who refuse will not experience it as the good news, but as the judgment.

Peace that Jesus gives is ours to carry as his disciples and give it to those who are willing to welcome it and provide in kind hospitality so that both the ones who welcome and ones who share are blessed. Peace is established when two or more people gather and peace is shared by being given and being received. This giving and receiving of peace are not conditional. There are no threats, fear mongering, imposition and bullying. This sharing is devoid of violence. Instead, the one bringing peace comes as the vulnerable one who is always aware of the possibility of rejection. In other words power is on the side of the one to whom peace is being given. In this dynamic, one who comes with nothing depending solely on the other for the welcome and hospitality. These disciples cannot demand welcome nor hospitality from their hosts. The host provides out of their good hearts without expecting anything in return. If they are refused, the only option they have is to leave because the peace they gave is returned to them. Christ’s peace, then, goes with the disciples. In turning down this peace, they have forfeited the experience of God’s kingdom.

Ste. Rita was a total stranger who came to our church in absolute poverty. She came as no one. She carried nothing with her. She came as a picture drawn by a young artist who was hungry and vulnerable. This picture of her stayed with us as the sign of peace. That young woman who drew her refused to take her back because she was offered a few dollars as our hospitality. Ste. Rita’s story is the story of a woman who gave and received peace from God. The wound on her forehead is that symbol. It shows us how through her difficult life having married a terrible person (eventually turning him around), taught her sons to refuse to participate to avenge the loss of their father, and eventually brought two warring families together. So she brings to us what peace in life means when it is granted to strangers who would host her. Her peace and our welcome brings about the reality of God’s kingdom being experienced by those who come to share in our Saturday lunches.

Here’s a sad thing for us. After two thousand years of history, we have completely lost this sense of sharing peace as Jesus’ followers. Again we are more likely dependent on political leaders and those in authorities to offer us peace. In our own personal lives we have focused on peace as something we can work for in order to keep it for ourselves. We think our well being depends on keeping it for ourselves only. We are unable to realize that the peace Jesus gave us is also the very peace we offer to total strangers as well. Though we claim to follow Christ, we no longer go to the world like his disciples to give this peace. When we venture into homes of strangers, we have forgotten to come to others in total poverty, humility, and vulnerability carrying no money, no bags and no essentials so that we may be looked after by others. Today when we go from one place to another, we bring wallets full of both physical, plastic or digital money and bags to pay for our costs. We carry shoes for many situations, so to speak in case we might run into unfair weather. Instead of depending on others, we go about doing our own things. It is important to emphasize again how we also have lost abilities to enter into strangers’ houses with the greeting of peace and be totally dependent on the strangers who are our hosts. In other words, we lack our faith to be able to carry the peace that Jesus gave us and give it in response to the hospitality that is provided for us while we spend our time with those who have graciously received us.

War or fight is not an option when Christ’s disciples come in such low state

No wonder, then, the signs of God’s kingdom are not revealed to us and to our hosts. Without this peace we are unable to cure the sick or share in God’s kingdom together. In this case, I am speaking of both bringing relief through our love that soothes those who are sick in body as well as in mind. After all, if anything, we have learned in this pandemic that human togetherness in love is essential for all of us to flourish. Having forcefully been separated, we have come to know that the life of hospitality--welcoming others--in our midst really do bring life in ways that we have long forgotten. When we share peace with strangers in their houses, this peace can be had in ways that we are all made one and flourish together in love. In this love even among strangers, God’s kingdom is revealed and experienced.

Let me end with a comment about the trial of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd. Can you imagine what a different encounter it would have been if these two strangers came together each bringing this peace? If we look carefully, I am probably correct to assume that both of these individuals were baptized in the name of our Triune God. We certainly know that George Floyd attended church as I have mentioned last year. It would not be a stretch to assume that Derek Chauvin, being born in America, might have been baptized in a church, too. Yet, their encounter ended up with one stranger killing another. Somehow, both were not able to come as Christ’s followers with nothing but Christ’s peace in their possession. Instead, we know that when these two clashed one killed another for no other reason than one had chosen to ignore the vulnerability of the other. So the war continued and will continue long after one is dead and the other is incarcerated.

As we conclude this series on the peace that Christ gave to his disciples, let us remember that we are given the peace to carry to others and when others, as strangers to us, receive us in generous hospitality, then, the kingdom of God is not only at hand, but also is fully revealed in ways that brokenness is mended and sickness cured. This is why we share as the Easter People the greetings, “Peace of Christ be with you!” and “And also with you!”

Offering: Dona Nobis Pacem



Offering Prayer
In suffering, we find your healing hands. In pain, we discover your presence. In our world’s troubles we learned of your everlasting love. In gratitude, we bring these offerings. May you be blessed by them as our faithful witness and confession of your work on earth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Hymn: Glory be to God the Father



Prayer:

In your grace, hear our prayer, O Lord. We bring many concerns this day. As we still are worried over the spread of COVID 19, now with variants, we are learning about the hardship of those who are doing their best as doctors and nurses in keeping so many alive. Their courage and strength are tested every time they come across many people who break rules to have momentary enjoyments while putting everyone at risk. These doctors and nurses speak to us of their burnouts and mental exhaustions on top of everything else they have to contend with. Keep them in your care. Continue to stand by them as they work in ways to bring your grace of life to all in spite of their own physical and spiritual fatigues.

We are also hearing that many elderly people in our region have caught the virus even after they have received vaccines in their own retirement facilities. Some are bewildered because they followed all the rules, yet, they have been tested positive and are now showing symptoms. As they are quarantined, they are afraid and are saddened. Be with every one of them. Give them the fortitude to fight for life in isolation. Let them know that we are praying for them and are continually loving them at a distance.

We pray for all those essential workers who are fearful, yet are unable to keep themselves safe. For some, the latest measures to vaccinate have come too late. As they suffer in fear of death, walk with them. May they be given the blessings of life in these death filled journeys.

We pray for your people around the world. We hear the devastation taking place in India, Brazil and many other countries. In these poor countries, they have so few resources and capacities to deal with those who are now suffering of COVID 19. As many die, families are suffering in grief, not knowing what to do. Watching these deaths and devastation on our news, we do not know what else to do, but pray. May our prayers reach your ear as their prayers. May our hearts bring to you the broken hearts of those who are suffering and those who have lost their loved ones. May you, O God, be moved by the sufferings of your people who are struggling with death because of this virus.

We pray for your church everywhere. Continue to pour your Spirit into them and fill them with your love. Give faith to all your children everywhere in ways that they may be your presence of love in all those places of suffering by bringing your compassion and mercy.

We pray for everyone who belongs to this congregation, O God. As everyone gathers to worship around their computer screens, phones, or other means, receive their worship. Bless and keep them as your people. Grant them your love so that all who belong to Drummond Hill will witness your love to those around them.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Benediction:
Now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us always. Amen.