Sun., Aug. 8, 21



Welcome and Announcements

Let us give God thanks for all God has done for us throughout the year. As we give God thanks, we also thank you for all that you have done.

It is our hope to reopen in September. We are paying very close attention to what the Ontario government is going to do regarding the rules for reopening. Currently we can open up to as many as we can accommodate with social distancing measures. We are asking everyone to be masked if they are able.

For the last two Wednesdays of August at 5 pm (August 18 and August 25) we will have an outdoor community BBQ. Please come out and join in. Freewill donations will be accepted. We are hoping to do the BBQ in the upper parking lot. Everyone is welcome.

As we reimagine a new way to be a Christian community, worshipping and sharing, we ask you to pray. We will take baby steps in order to build a spiritual community where worship and serving become important components of our daily lives.

Father, I adore you

Call to Worship:

Minister: O Lord, open my lips,
All: and my mouth will declare your praise.
Minister: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
All: a humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Prayer:
Great and wonderful God,
Hear our prayers and be gentle with us.
We have come seeking your love so that our lives may be full. We have come worshipping you in order that the world may come to know that you are God. Be present here and receive our praise and worship.

We come confessing that your Son is our Lord and Saviour. In confessing we acknowledge our failures and sins. As we live through this life, though we try, we forget you to follow your Son our Lord in ways that your name may be glorified in this world. By your grace, forgive us. In forgiving, also restore us in ways that we may experience the fullness of your reconciliation with us in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

In this worship, reshape and reform us in ways that we may truly be yours. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Seek Ye First

John 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Eat This Bread, Drink This Cup
**To see how this hymn is used in the sermon, please, watch the video provided above.

Sermon: Christ’s followers

Today we will discuss what Jesus means to the world and how we are to be his followers. We know already the meaning of Jesus’ coming and what we are to do. This is simply a refresher for those of us who already are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus, therefore, is the source of our life. Without eating and drinking, we do not last more than a few days. Only difficulty is that in our world, there are many sources for life or life’s essentials as expressed in bread and water. Everyone is given an opportunity to explore infinite possibilities. We used to fight over whether Christianity is the only source of life. In truth, Jesus never argued or insisted that he is the only source of life in the world. What Jesus did was that he was the source of eternal life in God for those who believed in him. It is just that many people throughout centuries tried to make Jesus the only source based on Jesus’ saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In this attempt to make the entire world accept Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Christians ended up becoming a very damaging and violent people.

Christians enthusiastically pointed out that those who do not believe in Jesus would end up under eternal judgments. To stress salvation, we ended up over emphasizing damnation for unbelievers. In this way of sharing the gospel, we ended up justifying our willingness to make everyone Christian at all cost. Now all those violent and destructive means we have used to force everyone to conform to the “Christian Way” is coming to haunt us today. Residential school is an example among many that is coming to make us rethink about what our mission is. Christianity has been used as justification for imposing our ways of believing and thinking against all others. We propagated our views as superior to all others. This historic past is now haunting us as we try to share Christ’s unconditional love with our neighbours in the spirit of humility and weakness.

The world before, during and after Jesus, lived with many different ways, truths, and lives. Some worshipped Zeus. Others followed Budha or many other deities. At the very beginning of Christianity, we were humble enough to say that our source of food and water was Jesus. Our life began and ended with Jesus. Yes, in Jesus life we enjoy is eternal life. Jesus is the only true source of life for us. This humility was lost when Christianity became the religion of Roman Empire and of many nations. Every nation and its ruler argued that they were better because Jesus was on their side and approved what they were doing while condemning their neighbours or enemies. This was how the Christian faith in Jesus was derailed. Jesus no longer became the bread for all. Each government or Christian group insisted that Jesus gave true bread only to them. Those who were not them were not entitled to this bread, they said.

Eat This Bread, Drink This Cup
**To see how this hymn is used in the sermon, please, watch the video provided above.

Even now, this way of thinking is persistent in all Christian denominations. Only small minority groups in Christian denominations think the bread ought to be available to all without condition. These minorities are accused by the majority as being universalists because the majority groups believe deep in their hearts that only the committed or ones who are proven to be faithful by being loyal to their denominational doctrines ought to be allowed to communion. Unlike universalists, they draw a clear line between worthy and unworthy recipients of communion. In this way, rather than being united, Christians are divided over the way each church confers membership or admits people to communion.

Most of us in Drummond Hill would be sad to hear that many people ought not be invited to participate in communion. Most of us are universalists. A few of us are firmly on the side of drawing a line so that by tough love we may help those who are not truly following Christ eventually turn to Christ fully. After all, only those who keep Christ’s words will hear God saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It is wonderful to see how people are very different in their approaches. Some are able to deal with changes and growth without clear boundaries while others require very clear and certain boundaries in order to flourish much like flowers in the fields. All are welcome in Christ.

Eat This Bread, Drink This Cup
**To see how this hymn is used in the sermon, please, watch the video provided above.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

In all cases, there are certain behaviours that Christians are asked to exhibit. These ethical expressions are rooted in our faith in Christ. The world judges us by these behaviours. We are to be known by our actions. In today’s Ephesians passage we see the list: 1. Speaking truth to neighbours, 2. Being angry but not sinning, 3. Letting no evil talk come out of our mouths, but only what is useful for building up, 4. Not grieving the Holy Spirit of God, 5. Putting away from us all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us. We do all these in order to imitate our God as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Quite a list that challenges us to behave in ways that we may face lots of difficulties.

The first one is a challenge for most of us. We are very conscious of hurting others’ feelings. We are extremely careful. We know others are very sensitive regarding the truth. Often as Presbyterians, we hesitate. We would rather put up with others misbehaving, hurting, or doing wrong than getting them upset at us for telling the truth. Yet, as Christ’s followers, it is our way of being to speak truth not only to our neighbours, but also to power. We are to speak truth at all times to all our neighbours however uncomfortable we are.

The second one is another thorny one for Presbyterians. It gives us permission to be angry. For whatever reason, we do not like to show our anger. Indeed, one of the ways that we deal with anger is by turning away and hiding it. We grew up being taught that displaying anger in private and public places is not acceptable. We thought being angry was bad and that we ought never be angry. Strange as it seems, the Scripture seems to say otherwise. Here, we are to show our anger. It is just that we are not to sin while we are angry. That means, we can be angry towards others as long as we do not hurt, diminish, be little, destroy, and kill them. Instead, even in our show of anger, we share our love for them. This is the difficult part. How do we overcome our prejudice on this so that anger becomes part of us and does not become an act that makes us sin while sharing love?

We are good with the third one. We even remember how mothers of bygone times used to make their children wash their mouths with soap because a bad word was said. Do you remember how the four letter word that begins with h or d used to be considered bad? To this day, we live by the maxim that if there is nothing good we can say, we should not speak it. We do well on this one as Presbyterians.

Eat This Bread, Drink This Cup
**To see how this hymn is used in the sermon, please, watch the video provided above.

The fourth one is the one we try our best because most of us do not know what it means to sin against the Spirit. We think we know. We think that cursing others using Jesus’ name or derivations of God’s name is sinning against the Spirit. This understanding was based on old superstitions of putting others under evil curses. However, today, they are the expressions of anger, frustrations and all negative feelings one carries. Using Jesus’ or God’s name in vain as expletives has become so normalized that other than Christians no one pays any attention. For us, sinning against the Spirit is something we avoid in any form to show our reverence, care, and love for the Triune God. As Christians we will never use God’s name in vain, whatever forms it comes.

How can we go about putting away from us all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander? This is the most difficult of them all. Psychologists and therapists are making tons of money to help people overcome these very negative and destructive feelings and actions. Yes, these are more than feelings that we need to deal with. These feelings come out as very hurtful and destructive actions. Many people deal with them with the help of others. Yet, these are soul destroying, spirit crushing, and physically debilitating acts within ourselves if not put aside properly. Surely psychologists and other professionals are needed to help so many who are caught in them. Left unchecked, many people use drugs, alcohol and other means to relieve themselves of these soul destroying forces. How do we Christians address these very hurting emotions and activities? Do we simply surrender to Christ? In some cases, we hear of good Christians who were able to overcome them when they hit rock bottom and gave their lives to Christ. In other cases we hear of many good Christians continually tempted or relapsing. These emotions, feelings, and actions become perpetual thorns on the side for these wonderful Christians. But it’s not just these folks. Everyone has to deal with bitterness, wrath, anger, etc. They are in all of us. No one is exempt from them. We may not show it in public. We know, however, in the bottom of our hearts, how they make us feel small, sinful, and wronged. It is everyone’s task, then, to put them away.

How do we put them away? In many ways, we know how to do them already. We focus on God’s love for us. It depends on how deeply we feel God’s love upon each and everyone of us. This is personal, yet as a congregation, corporal. If we know and feel God’s unconditional love, it makes us focus on this immense love in ways that all my concerns disappear into this love. If I know fully that I am the recipient of this immense and undeserved love, I get strength enough from this love to respond to all others who hurt, harm, and attempt to destroy me in a way of love. God through Jesus became the example who showed us the way. This is the mystery of God’s love given to us through Jesus. Our bitterness, wrath and anger are lifted up to God. In this surrender we are able to put aside these horrifyingly death inducing responses against those who attack our very lives with full force. In faith we discover what it means to receive Jesus as the bread of life for our hunger and thirst. This is how we realize life beyond death.

When Jesus offers himself as the bread of life, those of us who come to him in hunger and thirst receive the very life that sustains and nourishes us to live this life that is more than the life which ends at death, but continues into the life beyond death. This life eternal is given by him as he offers himself and is made real in those who come in hunger and thirst. When we receive Jesus as the bread of life for us, we come to receive all the love God gave to the world through him so that those who believe in him will not die, but have eternal life. As Christians, gathering here at this place Sunday by Sunday, we gather to worship at his table to be fed and be given this life.

Eat This Bread, Drink This Cup
**To see how this hymn is used in the sermon, please, watch the video provided above.

Prayer:

Dearest Lord,
Each day we wake up praying that you will lead us and we will follow you. At the end of each day we kneel before you praying that indeed your day is done. Now as we end our worship to start another week we pray that you will lead us once again through this week so that we may serve you and your people. Give us courage as we give you our thanks.

As we anticipate reopening in September, we are full of uncertainties and worries. We wonder about the difficulties we will face. We worry over whether we can be strong in your presence in this difficult time as your people. There are so many unknowns awaiting us. Yet, we forge ahead, knowing that you will be with us every step of the way. Help us and set us in hope of your Son. May we not veer away from you by searching for a direction according to the wisdom of this world.

Each day has become difficult for some of your people in this congregation. With each day passing more and more of our abilities diminish as we face diseases and physical weaknesses. We often fall into despair, forgetting all good things you are surrounding us with. In our pain we forget you because we are reminded of our own frailties. Help us to see you, trust you, set our hearts on you. Make us yours.

We pray for all those who are in professions of service. There are so many whose presence in this world are essential. They care for the sick, feed the hungry, mind the victims of disasters, respond in emergency needs, and are helping others fight death. Be with them all. Give them strength and courage to continue. As many of them ponder about quitting because they are exhausted, be with them. Give us compassion and abilities to share in their troubles.

We pray for all who are losing their hope because of circumstances beyond their control. There are so many. We do not know what else to do for them, other than praying and asking you to care for them. Help us to see that there are ways for us to love them and be with them.

Throughout our lives, you have been with us. Continue to be with us. Do not leave us. Strengthen us. Renew us to serve you and others.

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

Offering (In His Time) Wo-rGzx2OZk

Offering Prayer
O Lord, receive our expressions of thanksgiving. In this world of many troubles and turmoils, you have cared for and sustained us in ways that we experience little or no need beyond our means. You have provided sufficiently for us. In return, we bring these gifts. Receive them.

As we continue in faith, fill us with your overflowing love. Make us to be like your Son each day. Send us into the world to be your loving presence to all who need you. Forge our hearts in your love that was given to us through Jesus your Son our Lord and help us to help others. All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: May the God of Hope go with us UlIL3GlBpoc

Benediction