Sunday, August 29, 2021


Welcome and Announcements

Good morning! We are very grateful that God continues to bless us with opportunities to worship together in this format. It is not always ideal to worship online. We thank you for your presence in these services.

The session held its meeting to be ready for the Fall. One of the major decisions was to invite organists once a month. We will also begin testing ways to provide music with those who are in-house as well as musicians from outside.

Please remember that due to being in Re-opening Stage 3 of Ontario, we are still taking various precautions when you attend worship services on Sundays. You can be assured that we have been sanitizing seats and the church hall each time it is used.

We are trying our best to figure out ways to serve you and help you be part of this community of faith. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Preparation: Breathe on me, Breath of God

Call to Worship

Minister: O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?

All: Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Minister: O LORD, who may praise your name?

All: We come to praise and give you glory, O LORD GOD, who loves us in Christ.

Hymn: Blessed are they

Prayer

Bringing sadness and pains of this world, O God, we come. We bring all our aches and despair and put them before you. These burdens of life we bring because in faith we remember the promise that you hear our prayers when they are given to you in your Son’s name. We also bring praise and blessings for all that you have done for us and the world. Knowing that your love still gives us and the world life, we come with glad hearts filled with gratitude.

Thank you for calling us through the Son. Thank you for filling our hearts with grace. Thank you for extending the good news of renewal through your Son our Lord.
Fill us with the Spirit. Give us courage of faith to proclaim your Name in this world as we worship. Shape us with hope to bring your good news to the world so that all may come to know you through the one who came to save us. In his name we pray. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 1:14-15

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Sermon: The first thing first

We have been saying for a while that we are preparing to start a new chapter in our church’s history. As we have taken a bit of time off due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we have been able to reassess and are now ready to have a new opening in September. We can make this truly a new beginning or we can simply choose to restart what we did before we were interrupted by the pandemic lockdowns. Of course, knowing the troubles that we faced before the pandemic and how our situations worsened due to the lockdowns, we have chosen to do more than simply return back to what we used to do. We were already facing many difficulties before we were shut down. Now it is time to see if we can take on a new direction and follow Christ as the Lord leads us onward.

We are easily tempted to return to do the same things we have always done because we also know that our future is all but uncertain. We also know how impossible it is to guess what our future will be. This unknowability is what drives us to go back and do things the same way as we have always done because it soothes us with the same ritual every Sunday morning. Doing what we used to do now or in the future does not mean that we will have a better outcome the next time we do it. We, however, may do what we know because there is something comforting about being able to do something, anything, when the outcome is so uncertain and confusing.

As Christians, we faced an uncertain future from the very moment Jesus was arrested and put to death. The resurrection life that we read so much about in the New Testament is as uncertain for us no matter how strongly we believe. Especially in today’s environment, this promise of the resurrection life is as elusive as it was when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after he was buried. If Christians learned anything, faith is not a tool or method, or way of life that offers us a certain future. Having faith, as we learned repeatedly, is not about the possibility of a clearly visible future in which we will find safety, bliss, and eternal life. Faith is all about our willingness, courage, and commitment to put our future in God’s hand no matter the outcome.

We received this faith from Christ. From the very first time Jesus began his ministry we have learned to follow him every step of the way. He did not call his disciples with compelling visions of comfort and blessed life. He called them to walk with him in life where each and every day was filled with uncertainties and doubts. It is no wonder that reading the four Gospels leaves us with the impression that these disciples had no idea what they were getting into. Their desires and hopes about the future were totally crushed when Jesus was put on the cross to die by Pilate’s soldiers. From that very moment Jesus appeared until now, the only way to be faithful is to follow Christ as he showed through his life and ministry.

This is why as we speak of reopening or beginning a new chapter in our journey with Christ as we put the pandemic situation somewhat behind us. Our future is as uncertain as before. The troubles we are facing in the present does not help us to head into the future with any certainty or clear vision. We only see the murky and impossible to see future. Yet, we know our task to which we will be faithful is nothing more than following Christ as those clueless disciples did. To follow him, we return to the very beginning of his ministry. We do not return there to find clarity in terms of our direction, of our decisions, and of our search for vision. We return simply to follow him or let him lead us into the future.

Understanding what Jesus did at the beginning of his ministry is crucial if we are to begin our ministry in a new way. Future is very uncertain. No one knows what awaits us tomorrow. This difficulty of figuring the murky and scary future usually forces us to do what we always have done to some success or give the past up and search for a new way. As Christians and as followers of Christ, we do not have to worry too much over which road to take. Ours is simply to follow Christ. After all, Christ promised to be our guide and shepherd through good and bad, ups and downs. This is why we return to Jesus and the beginning of his ministry to figure out what we need to do as we embark on this new chapter of our history.

This is where Mark 1 comes in. Gospel Mark, more clearly and succinctly than other Gospels, allow us to see Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry. Here, at the very start of his ministry we find him proclaiming the good news. Before he healed, taught, and called his disciples, he proclaimed. It is important to remember that he did not preach right from wrong. He did not dispense judgments on the nations. He did not convert people to his causes. He did not shake up the political structures. All he did at the very beginning was to proclaim the good news of God.

Proclaiming is more keen to the act of announcing and making declarations. It is far more about sharing the news.In that proclamation is the call to see that God's time is being fulfilled. As he proclaims the arrival or nearness of God’s kingdom or reign, he also shares a way to be able to participate in God’s kingdom. This good news is not good for the sake of being good on its own. It is good news for all those who have been waiting for God’s reign to come so that the reign of the Roman Empire or of any powers will be no more. This news is being announced to them.

LIke any good news, however, it means nothing if it is ignored. To be good, those who hear it must receive it. In this case, receiving the good news is demonstrated when those who rejoice in this good news are able to repent and believe. Otherwise, the goodness of this news remains as unrealized reality. The crucial point is that accepting the good news is tied up in the action of repenting. The good news, to be heard as good in the true sense of the word, becomes realized as good news when people, who hear, turn their way back to God. “Repentance” is turning back towards God. The direction in life changes from going away from God to turning around and setting the course to God.

In the same way, we, as the people of Drummond Hill, make our turn and start moving toward God. This is the repentance. We can list our sins to show that we see how we have been going away from God. But listing our sins to prove we are now getting ready only makes us linger on the spot heading towards God. This recounting can be done beforehand. However, this accounting of our past is not a requirement. Jesus’ way is different from the way of John the Baptist whose baptism was the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In John’s case, turning back to God is tied up with the forgiveness of sins. In Jesus’ proclamation, forgiveness is already subsumed as God’s reign is about to be realized in those who repent and believe. Repentance and faith are present together.

Yes, as we follow Christ we walk towards God. Our direction is set. That means we are living in the forgiven life, sharing love, full of hope as we trust, set our heart on, and believe in God who is our creator, redeemer, and sustainer. Repentance and believing open our eyes, hearts and minds to God's reign. We are able to be who we are created to be when we are returning to God as we believe in the good news. Life under God’s reign is seen in freedom from sin, fears, worries, and uncertainties. Under God life is filled with abundant faith, endless hope, and unconditional love.

In this way, when God’s good news becomes real for us, then, we proclaim the good news just like Jesus did to the world. This proclamation is authentic and powerful because we are not just a messenger who has been given something to deliver as if we are servants who have no stakes, but because we are the ones who have experienced the good news as the reality for us in fullness of life. We are not only the witness that this life is available for others, but ones who have been enjoying it, benefiting from it, and living it. Just like Jesus we come fully to share it with others so that joy may be full.

Thus in repentance or changing our direction and believing or trusting and relying on God, we share the news that the abundance of life freely without condition--life that is full of selfless love is near. Others come to see our lives of love--unconditional, limitless, and always life giving and experience in full when they engage with the news we proclaim. Worship is a brief moment that reminds us how we are now sharing the good news of God’s kingdom, under God’s reign, here and now. Worship is like a well in a desert that refreshes and restores us so that we may continue in this world to proclaim God’s good news to all. During the week, then, we share the good news inviting others to set their courses back to God and believe that this new life in God is theirs as much as it is ours.

Prayer

In life, death, or life after death, O God, you are our God. You have breathed your life into us: we came into being. As your creation, we set our hearts on you. As your people we put our trust in you. As your children, we follow your Son our Lord. In this life in which we are called and sustained by your Spirit, we bring our prayers. Hear our prayers, O God, as we lift our hearts in your Son’s name.

Give us hearts to change our course back to you. In our daily lives we focus our attention on the needs and concerns of ourselves. Our life is focused on our own well beings and comforts. Fill us with your Spirit so that we make the changes necessary to turn our minds and hearts on you. Help us to live the life of your Son.

Give us hearts to understand that your will is for us to share the abundant life with all your children everywhere. Confront us with the plight of your children everywhere. Help us to see with our hearts all those who are doing their best, yet are lacking in daily food, shelter and health. There are so many of your children who are deprived of the basic necessities because in this world of greed, they are devalued and exploited. Make us love them so that in this love we may see the true cost of living in poor conditions.

Give us hearts to have compassion in the same way your Son has shown his compassion for those who are weak and imprisoned in this world. Often we are more concerned with seeing justice and punishment carried out against those who are weak and unfortunate. We build societies based on ways to protect and safeguard what we own, rather than ways and means to share. Instead of mercy we demand punishment when we are harmed and wronged. Reorient our ways of thinking to put your compassion as our compass of justice.

Give us strength of body and mind so that we may heal from the current ailments. Many are suffering due to life threatening diseases. Many are mired in all kinds of addictions due to their inability to cope with pain and despair. As death threatens, facing no clear solutions for healing or having means to overcome personal difficulties, they sink deeper away from life where only death appears to them as the solution. Fill them with hope where your love may open their eyes to true life. Fill us with love to be your presence to them.

Fix our eyes on you. Help us to repent. May we turn away from the destinations we had in mind and start walking towards you today. Give us your will to put behind all that we have been, desired, and pursued and to live the life where you are our only hope.

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

Offering (All The Way My Saviour leads me)

Offering Prayer

O God, we come to return to you these small symbols of your gifts to us. Out of our comfort and prosperity, we bring them to you. Open our minds to your will. Make us understand your will in this world and participate in your Son’s ministry. Shape us as your people who will share your grace and mercy without condition. All these things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: Shine Jesus Shine

Benediction