Welcome and Announcements
Thank you for your diligent and faithful presence at worship. In this very difficult time of isolation, we appreciate your presence in the worship all the more.
Thank you to all those who attended our online meeting last Sunday. Thank you to all who are continually supporting Christ’s ministry here. On everyone’s behalf those who were gathered have made this important commitment for 2022 to share God’s good news this year again.
We are continually searching for a meaningful way to serve our neighbours. If you see any needs or a way to love our neighbour please let us know. One possible way we are trying to love is by thinking more comprehensively about helping those who are in need. We know that supplying suppers is only a stop gap and many other churches have come on board since we began inviting our neighbours to suppers. Please prayerfully think about a way that we can share Christ’s love with those who are in need.
We are looking for ways to see what helps you the most in helping you connected with everyone else. We have been sending you weekly newsletters. If you have suggestions as to what you would like to see in these newsletters, it will help us greatly in shaping newsletters that will be of great use. Also let us know what you enjoy the most in these newsletters. That will help us to include similar items in future. Let us know by email, a phone call, or a text.
Do not forget to support Christ’s ministry here at Drummond Hill. Your contributions are essential to the life of Drummond Hill community as well as the neighbours whom God entrusted to us. And thank you for all you have done so far.
Setting our hearts and minds for worship can be done in many different ways. One way is to meditate on Bible passages and recite them in ways every word is honoured and received in thanksgiving. By reciting or when we breathe each word out with our understanding, these words become our offering to God as we are blessed by the Word, which is Christ for us.
Preparation: Psalm 138:1-8
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything. On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Call to Worship Let us sing and pray in God’s presence. For God has created the world and called it good. In Christ, God has redeemed the world and defeated the powers of death. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, calling us to follow Jesus. All praise and glory to God, Holy One and Holy Three!
Hymn: Holy, holy, holy
O Lord, your ways are not our ways. You bestow grace upon grace on us. You forgive and love us. You wipe our sins away completely. You bring mercy when we deserve no mercy. To the world filled with hate and death, you endow love and life. In the world where the poor, the weak, the marginalized and the deplorables are oppressed and cast out, you welcome and break bread with them.
O Lord, our ways are not your ways. We relish the demise and destruction of our enemies. We advocate severe and horrific punishments on our adversaries, oppositions, dissenters, and enemies. We wrap ourselves in self-righteousness, pride, and superior intellect. We look down upon those who are less than us. We focus on our own needs and comforts without any regard for neighbours around us. We easily dismiss anyone who disagrees or may cause harm to us.
Yet, in your wisdom, you have called us not only into being, but also into the community where we are immersed in your grace and mercy so that we may glorify and enjoy you always. You have given life and peace beyond our imagining.
In humility, we come to worship you. We bring ourselves before you so that in your presence we may be transformed into your people, witnessing you as the Life, sharing your ways as the Truth, and becoming the living body pointing to the Way. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 8:1-3 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Sermon: Overlooked and hidden
We have been reading Gospel Luke as a novel. We have looked at the ways themes, plots, and characters are introduced. So far, we have taken more like a book club approach to looking at this particular book. Today we are going to look back and see what interesting things that we have missed. The richness of Gospel Luke is also experienced when we can see these little gems strewn here and there and are easily missed.
The first one to look at comes from some women scholars’ insights (i.e. Beirne) They came to see how in the Gospels, especially in Luke, there are pairings of man and woman stories. In these pairings, what we are seeing is the similar event occurring to both a man and a woman. The very first one we saw is the appearance of Angel Gabriel to Zachariah and to Mary. In this case the similarity lies not only in the appearance of Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary, but also in the reality that neither Elizabeth (because of her age), wife of Zechariah, nor Mary (because of her marital status) are able to bear children on their own.
As if to emphasize the importance of this pairing, in both cases, there are prophetic speeches spoken by both Zechariah and Mary. In Zechariah’s case the speech is about what God is going to do in John the Baptist. In Mary’s song, it is all about what God has in mind through the life and ministry of Jesus. In both speeches, we encounter God’s will that is unfolding in human history. Both births are about God’s salvation being made real, breaking into human history. This salvation is directed at the poor, the hungry, and so on.
The next man-woman pairing is seen at the Temple when baby Jesus was brought in for presentation after circumcision. At the Temple Jesus is met by Simeon and Anna. Both are elderly. Both of them have been waiting a long time to see God’s anointed. Though it is only Simeon who speaks, both are at the Temple as witnesses to God’s will unfolding in their time. The word Simeon uses is salvation in his praise. Anna is attributed to have spoken of redemption in her praise.
In Chapter 4 we find another man-woman pairing. This time it is centred on Jesus’ healing on Sabbath. In Capernaum of Galilee while teaching at the synagogue he heals a man with an unclean spirit. On the same day, after leaving the synagogue Jesus goes to Simon’s house and heals Simon’s mother in law who has a high fever. These two healings are listed back to back in the same way as Zechariah/Mary and Simeon/Anna pairings.
We now look at two more pairings in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8. The first pairing here concerns the healing based on faith. At the beginning of Chapter 7 we see Jesus speaking highly of the faith of the centurion because the centurion told Jesus that he trusts Jesus’ command to heal his slave since he is a man of authority whose orders his lessers obey. In Chapter 8 Jesus is touched by a woman who suffered hemorrhage for twelve years. When she confesses, Jesus affirms her faith as he did with the centurion.
The second one in these two chapters is on the matter of raising the dead. Just after Jesus heals the centurion’s slave, we see Jesus being moved deeply in compassion as he sees a funeral procession. There a widow is crying because she lost her son. Jesus is moved by her weeping and raises the son from his death. In the similar way, after healing the woman who suffered hemorrhage for twelve years, Jesus enters the house of synagogue’s leader Jairus, he raises Jairus’ daughter whom everyone was crying over because she was dead. Again, we see how Luke pairs a son and a daughter being raised from the dead.
What do these pairings point to? We often thought that as the Church began to grow after Jesus’ ascension that leaders were males. After all, by the time Paul came along, everyone seemed to have assumed that the leadership was exclusively made up of males. Yet, here is Luke who wrote as Paul was still imprisoned at Rome at the end of the Book of Acts, in pains to point out that everything Jesus did in his ministry did not favour males over females.
In fact, even when names of male apostles were mentioned in Chapter 6:12-16, Luke comes back to mention in Chapter 8:1-3 names of women who also followed Jesus. There is a small phrase after names of women were listed indicating there were lots more women who followed Jesus just like the male apostles. Of course, we continue to see the presence of women throughout the Gospels, sometimes prominently and sometimes more discreetly. Women’s role in Jesus’ ministry might have been less clearly described. That, however, does not mean that Jesus was neglecting to minister to and see women as less. These pairings at least open our eyes to a different appreciation of the roles that women played in the every nascent stage of following Jesus.
Let’s now turn to the second thing we skimmed over quickly. In Luke, from early on, there is a sense that moral and ethical demands go hand in hand with being descendants of Abraham and ultimately followers of Jesus. We see this ethical demand when people come to John the Baptist asking what they ought to do. John instructs them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none and whoever has food must do the samel.” John tells tax collectors to collect no more than what they are obligated to collect and soldiers to stop extracting money by conjuring up false accusations.
Jesus goes further than John when he teaches his disciples. They ought to love far more than what regular people on streets do by loving their enemies. They are not only to share, but also give more than what others are expecting. If they are asked to share a coat, they are to give not only a coat but also a shirt. They are to expect nothing in return when they lend money to others. These are Jesus’ instructions that take his followers into a hyper ethical living. All these are premised under being merciful as God is merciful to them.
What do the above reviews of two things we are now discussing mean for us?
As we saw earlier, Gospel Luke indeed makes a case that men and women were equally present in Jesus’ life and ministry. We may not even squint one of our eyes on this. We live in the time when equality of men and women is given. We do not think twice about the current ways we organize our church leadership. If you recall, however, when our denomination was discussing whether to ordain women as elders or not, there were many who argued that based on Paul’s letters women should not even be speaking in churches when both men and women were gathered together in meetings. It took all kinds of discussions as we fought over whether calling women ministers were good or bad for the churches. We still quote certain Bible passages today. We see this same fight breaking out in Roman Catholic churches as they struggle to decide whether to ordain women to priesthood or not.
What is clear in Gospel Luke is that as far as the ministry of Jesus was concerned, there was no argument whether Jesus ministered to women or men first. Our ways of thinking that justified the primacy of men over women for so long in history turn out to be more cultural and historical than what Jesus did. The pairings in Gospel Luke and in Gospel John seem to be far more clear on equality of women and men before Jesus and God than Matthew and Mark where there are less attempts at describing similar events taking place for both men and women. We have women scholars to thank for this insight that the Gospels Luke and John are very subversive when it comes to their contemporary customs of men being more important than women as they followed Jesus.
This display of equality teaches us to appreciate God’s loving will and the manifestations of God’s love in Christ. It also encourages all of us to treat one another equally as Jesus did especially in our community bound by Christ as his body. In bringing good news to the captives of today, those who are imprisoned unjustly, those who are suffering both mental and physical illnesses, and those who are mired in sins, we reach out to all without consideration of genders. In other words, among those who follow Christ, there is no place of discrimination based on genders.
The second point of discussion regarding morals and ethics for those who follow Jesus has far greater consequences for us. In our binary world where we divide everything into good and bad, be they leaders, countries, neighbours, friends, or family members, we are to put aside hatred, judgment, desire for punishment, and willingness to crush and destroy others. This Jesus’ radical teaching, love for the enemies, loving those who hate and persecute us, differentiates us from those who are doing their best to live good lives. When people of this world encounter us, they are to experience, witness, and share in this radical love that is only possible in God’s mercy, shown in Jesus. This is what we mean when we say that in Christ Jesus, God’s redemption of the world is given to all who believe and follow him.
Hymn: Amazing Grace
Today, we give thanks for the programs and partners the church supports through Presbyterian World Service & Development that are empowering vulnerable communities.
Inspired by God’s promise of abundant life, Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) envisions a sustainable, compassionate and just world. This year marks 75 years of those values guiding us as we respond to hunger, poverty, injustice and disaster. Together, we are working to support and empower people all over the world. Through PWS&D, our church works with communities in our global village to restore human dignity, ease the pain of want and promote community cooperation that benefits all. Together, we are promoting human rights and supporting refugees. Faithful to our calling, we respond together.
How else can we give you our thanks, but through these meager offerings in the life of plenty? In what way, can we thank you, but by participating in the very ministries you unfold through your people in this world? In which world can we thank you for all that you have done in creating and providing sufficiently for all without our lives living out the teachings of your Son our Lord?
As the cries from the lips of suffering people rise up, we feel powerless. Surrounded by people of despair silently attempting to escape this painful life, by people of sadness seeking to abandon themselves in any false joy to forget their tears, by people of anger attacking any and every form of power to gain control of their lives and dignity, and by people of desperation searching for a sliver of hope only to fall into even deeper chasms of losses, we forget who we are, how you recreated as the people of faith, hope, and love, and why you have formed us as the body of Christ. We are forgetting to witness, share, and live in your grace and mercy. Rather than seeing life in you, we see death all around us. Instead of the grace of life in each person, we see anguish and pain. Help us to be more like you. Make us to embrace the path that your Son has shown us–the path of self-denial and self-emptying so that we may be filled with your Spirit and become the very embodiment of Christ, dying each day so that all will have abundant life.
We pray for our neighbours near and far, our friends who are near us and lost to us, our own family members who need love and care. We bring before you those in despair because they are without jobs, in sadness because they cannot see a way out of their predicaments, in anger because they have been harmed, in anguish because they have been neglected, in mourning because they have lost their loved ones, and in distress because they are falling deeper and deeper into the life of pain from illnesses.
May your presence be with all who are struggling! Open the eyes of those who are searching for life that is better and more hopeful to find the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn: Will you come and follow me