Sunday Jan 17 21

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Welcome and Announcements

Welcome and thank you for being here to worship with us. May God’s blessings be with you today and this coming week.

Last week we sent out our budget via email. You may also find it in our website: https://drummondhill.ca/2021budget. Please look over the budget. Let us know if you have any questions via email, phone or a video conference. We will have a video/phone conference on Sunday, February 7 at 11 am to answer any questions. After that, we will ask you to send us your vote for three things by phone, email, or regular mail by Sunday, February 14th. Those three things are 1. Adopting the distributed budget as an interim budget until we hold an in-person annual congregational meeting, 2. Adopting Presbyterians Sharing amount as suggested by the Session, and 3. Continuing our investment policy re: 70% on bonds and 30% on stocks.

Please continue to help us with desserts for Saturday Lunch Takeouts eg. Wrapped cookies, puddings and apple sauces in single use cups, wrapped granola bars, etc.

With thanks and appreciation, the session announces to the congregation the retirement of our minister of music Judy. She is retiring after many years of service to our Lord as musician, choir director and minister of music in Chippawa Presbyterian Church and Drummond Hill Church. She has served as the minister of music at Drummond Hill for just over 15 years. Her retirement will begin on February 1, 2021. The session will plan for her retirement party once the current restrictions on gathering are lifted and we can meet safely to congratulate and thank her for her faithful service to God and our church. Judy will continue to pick hymns for Sunday services until Sunday, January 31.

Meditative Hymn: Father I Adore You



Call to Worship :

Salvation comes from God’s grace alone received through faith in Christ. From all eternity, and through no merit on our part, God calls us to life in Christ. We, together with Christ, are called both to worship and to serve him in all of life. Let us come and worship God!

Hymn: Praise my Soul



Prayer

Dear Lord,
With joy and blessings on our lips we come to you. Your steadfast love has been with us in these past seven days and has not failed us. In your love, though isolated, staying home, and doing our best to keep the virus at bay, we prayed, praised, and glorified you. Now we come to you asking you to make us one in communion with your Son our Lord and all his people around the world. May this separation be overcome by being together as one in Christ Jesus our Lord!

In this togetherness, though apart, we raise our voices to praise you as well as pray to you. Receive this worship. Do not receive it as ours alone, but receive it as coming from all your children all around the world. Sanctify this togetherness of this worship service.

In this worship, fill us with the Holy Spirit. In your Spirit, help us to put aside all that we are including all things that we worry about and fret over. Gather our hearts as one. Breathe into all of us your Spirit so that our voices in praise and prayers may glorify you in this worship.

We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: What a Friend)



Offering Prayer

O God, how are we to thank you? In your love, we have been able to stay safe, to work hard, and to serve you and your people. We thank you for this abundant grace. In response, we bring these gifts as our offering. Receive them. Use them to further your reign in this part of vineyard so that many who are in despair may taste your eternal life here and now. Shape us to be your servants who through love bring your eternal life to all who are struggling in this world. All these and more we pray in the name of your Son Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:12-25

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?
But you have made it a den of robbers.’
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’

Sermon: To start anew, what to do

Last Sunday we discussed how important it is for us to seize the moment and cry out to Jesus. Today we are beginning with passages which seem totally unrelated to our topic for today. Jesus is walking by as he heads toward Jerusalem, he gets hungry. Seeing a fig tree, he goes in hope to see if there would be figs to eat. Seeing none, even though it is not a season for figs, he curses the tree. This passage is very difficult to understand without the context of Gospel Mark. In the previous passage (Mark 11:1-11) Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Many people shouted out Jesus as the one who was coming into the world in the name of the Lord. That is, Jesus was finally being revealed in Jerusalem as the one in whom God’s reign or God’s new creation was dawning. Jesus embodied this new life and was revealed as such.

In the very next part, we see Jesus seeing a fig tree that is full of life (we are told this because it was full of leaves). Out of season, this tree did not have fruits on them. Like the nation of Israel which was filled with God’s people, but was not faithful to God, it had nothing to show for all the leaves. Perhaps the new life that Christ was embodying was not present in Israel in the very same way this tree was missing fruits and out of season. At this point we need to remember how God’s people waited for the messiah, but when Jesus was among them, they could not see, did not see, and did not want to see the messiah in Jesus. They had no faith. Even as Jesus entered Jerusalem and many rejoiced crying out, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” people would soon witness his death on the cross. The life in new creation would not be theirs to enjoy. They were totally blind to faith in Jesus. Bartimaeus could see, but others could not. Mark makes this clear, those who could see before have now lost their ability to see Jesus as who he is while the one who was blind and could not see is able to see Jesus as who he really is. As if to chastise this unbelieving Jews, Jesus renders the punishment saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” That is, in this life before the new life in Christ, what appeared to be strong and fully alive people of Israel, made up of priests, scribes and Pharisees, would receive such judgment from Jesus because they had nothing to show for when God’s time had arrived. Their excuse would be that it was at a wrong time God in Christ came. In other words, it is God’s fault for not seeing good fruits from the people of God because God came in the wrong time--wrong season..

Jesus, as if to make a stronger point about all this, enters the Temple. Seeing all the money changers and merchants, he overturned the tables and upset the whole group and taught them, ‘is it not written, “My house shall be called house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ He was pointing out how the current regime of men was ruining God’s people. He was teaching as the chief priests and the scribes were looking for ways to kill him. Should these rulers be fruitful in their endeavours? Certainly Jesus would have given them the same judgement, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” After all, they were not concerned with worshipping God, but keeping their system of wealth and prosperity going.

Jesus’ message through upending of those tables of money changers and merchants was that the old regime with all its corruption ought to end. How would the new begin? What would it be like to be at the start of God’s new creation? It would begin with driving out those who were corrupting, exploiting, and defrauding the Temple to gain wealth and power. The new world which came in Christ began by shining light on the darkness for all to see the truth. The sin could no longer be kept hidden. As the sin was being exposed, people began learning as Jesus taught. Because of this teaching and people’s learning, the chief priests and scribes could not exercise their influence and power. They could only plot in darkness the murder of the one who came into the world as the Light of the world.

It is important to remember that Jesus entered Jerusalem the day before. Today, we celebrate that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem as Palm Sunday--the beginning of Jesus’ passion when Jesus was truly revealed to the world as the suffering Messiah who was to die for the sins of the world. That is, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, that day was the start of the new beginning. For us Christians, through his ministry, death and resurrection we were given this new life. Unlike his ministry where his identity was hidden, at his entry into Jerusalem, he was revealed as the long awaited Messiah in whom the new creation began.

The third day after he went into Jerusalem with “Hosanna! Hosanna!”, Peter and the disciples recognized the fig tree, even though it was withered to its roots. There have been lots of arguments and studies on this passage by scholars to figure out what this passage meant and how we ought to interpret it. It is sufficient for us to say that the fig tree with lots of leaves with no fruits because it was out of season might have been a symbol for the Jews, especially the ruling class who has nothing to show for in terms of spiritual fruits with an excuse that it is not yet God’s time. Jesus on the other hand represents the fulfilment of God’s time. With him, in him and through him, God’s time is breaking in and all who are in that God’s time because of Christ is to bear fruits now that fullness of time has arrived in Jesus. As the tree with full leaves without fruits now looks withered to its roots and without much life, Jewish leaders and their institutions are dead to God. On this account, it makes sense for us that Jesus speaks of faith. Jews without faith in Christ are withering away--they have nothing to show for. They look healthy, but they are without fruits. On the other hand, those believers including his disciples can have a full life if they have faith. Those believers are bearing fruit. Their spiritual fruits are their lives of reconciliation with God and others. This new life in Christ is unlike the life of Jews in that they pray to forgive. They are not to hold anything against anyone, but constantly pray to forgive. It is a new life that is grounded in forgiveness. By forgiving, they are reconciled to God because God forgives them as they forgive others. The life of reconciliation is what followers of Jesus bring as it is instituted through Christ.

The point is, as a group within the wider Church, we, too, are Christ’s embodiment of the future, God’s reign, here and now. In us is more than a seed that will sprout in future, but the reality of what eternal life with Christ is. In the words of Living Faith, we confess that “eternal life begins in this life” for those who believe in the Son of God. We are not the ones waiting to join Christ and saints at some time in future after death. We are ones who already live the eternal life as who we are called to be. It is important to realize that we have already started anew in Christ. Yet, because the fullness of eternal life is not fully present until Jesus returns, with Apostle Paul, we continually die to our old selves to be new in Christ.

What does it mean for us to die to our old selves each day? It is like letting Jesus to upend what we have been doing in our lives as he did with money changers and merchants in the Temple. We focus on our tasks as God’s people. We are to love God with all our hearts, minds and abilities as well as loving our neighbours as Christ loves us. As Jesus taught the crowd in the Temple that day reminding them that the Temple was the house of prayer, not the den of robbers, we remember and live out this life of loving God and neighbours to the fullest. Also it is like an ever-bearing tree. That is, a tree whose time has come to bear fruits. Jesus seems to be saying that this new life in him is like fruit trees in their seasons of bearing fruit. There is no later time in terms of bearing the fruit of the Spirit. The time is always now fully. Thinking this way, it does make sense that Jesus cursed that tree without fruits because it was out of its season. In Jesus, all things are complete and all fruits are borne always. As we often talk of the fullness of time arriving suddenly (suddenly because no one knows when it will come--God alone knows) and the world will stand before God to be judged, and how we as followers of Christ need to be ready at all moments, when God’s reign arrives, the new normal is to see that we bear the fruit of the Spirit always at all times.

As we confess through our Living Faith, being made new and being called into the resurrection life through baptism, we are in this God’s time. The difficulty is that we are also in our time. That is, we live in this world according to the ways of this world. Just like everyone else who lives from birth to death, we live in the world partaking in all the world’s activities. Life in the world forces our attention away from God and our neighbours. In the world it is not necessary to live a life of love. In every task we do each day in this world, there is sin eagerly participating, forcing a way of life which values greed, gluttony, and vanity above all else. As Christians, however, in this very power hungry and greed filled world, we become the source of the fullness of life in God which brings to the world ever-bearing love and fruit of the Spirit. We welcome Christ to come in and upend our old desires for power and wealth in order to deny ourselves and follow him. To be the stewards of God’s love for the world and bearers of the fruit of the Spirit, we die to our old selves at the end of each day so that we may rise in Christ each morning.

This pattern of inviting in Christ to upend all that we are so that through his teaching we may enter into the resurrection life of his is the way we start anew. Putting away old, dying to ourselves, or denying ourselves in order to take up our crosses to follow him is the way that we start anew.

Prayer

O Lord our God,
To you, with our hearts full of love for you, we bring our prayers. Throughout our lives, your presence has been our strength, you love has been the source of our life, and your word has been our hope.

We bring to you the needs of our world. As every country struggles with COVID-19, we see so many people in suffering. Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, cancers and mental illnesses were already too difficult for us to handle before we encountered this deadly virus. With it, our world has been devastated as more and more are unemployed, in poverty, being added to the homeless population, being put aside for treatments to heal them or maintain their health. Despair overtakes them even before they may reach for hope. Be with each and every one of them. Guard and protect them in ways that they will recover hope. Move the hearts of all those who are unaware, callous, and unsympathetic to the plight of these your people in trouble.

We pray for our neighbours near. There are many who no longer think of you and are turning their eyes away from those who are in need. Move their hearts O God. Fill them with your compassion so that they may see the suffering that is happening all around them.

We pray for those who are in jobs that look after everyone as the whole population is told to stay home. Be with these people who carry not only the burden of caring for their families but also the rest of us in our province. Guard and protect them. Keep them safe.

We pray for leaders everywhere. Continue to fill them with your wisdom. Give them hearts to see and courage to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

We pray for each other. Do not let our compassion and mercy wane among us. Help us to be like your Son our Lord in loving one another. With the strength of your Son’s love, compel us to care for one another.

Help us eyes to see those who are lost, hidden and disappearing. Help us to share our hope with them.

All these and more we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: O Master Let me



Benediction