Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

If you prefer listening and watching (rather than reading) to the entire service at once, click here and the whole service will play on our YouTube Channel. Once the page opens up, click PLAY ALL.

Welcome and Announcements



We have been getting ready for our mail-in, phone in, and virtual vote in meeting to pass the suggested 2021 budget as an interim budget in order to carry on the ministries. If you have not received the 2021 budget proposal, please, let us know. You can also download or look at it at drummondhill.ca/2021budget. If you have any questions use email, mail or phone. There will be a video conference to ask questions on Sunday, Feb. 7th.

We are now preparing and giving out 70-75 take out lunches on Saturdays. If you would like to participate, please, pick up a few desserts each time you shop. As we have mentioned things like wrapped cookies, granola bars, chocolate bars, applesauce in cups, are gladly received.

Some of you have been curious as to what I do during a week. Most of you want to figure out ways to help. Here are a few things I do on top of what I usually do as the minister of Drummond Hill. I am still the interim moderator of Kirk on the Hill Presbyterian Church in Fonthill. I also serve as the convener of the Committee on Church Doctrine for the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, a member of Advisory Committee for the Ministry of Church Vocation of Life and Mission Agency, a member of Healing and Reconciliation Group of Justice Ministries of the Life and Mission Agency.

Being an interim moderator means that I function more or less as their minister. It means to arrange for ministers to preach and lead worship every Sunday, conduct session meetings, work with the congregation to find a new minister, look after pastoral needs, etc. Normally I find a minister to lead worship on Sunday for Fonthill, but because of the pandemic, we cannot do normal. In the month of January I have been delivering virtual sermons to the Fonthill congregation each Sunday in the same way we have our services. For Fonthill the topics of sermons were on getting ready for a new future with a new minister by reviewing and reorganizing the church. You can see them at (of course, I tell you how good these sermons are…)
January 24: Temptation to worship the God of our own making
January 17: Temptation to show proof
January 10: Temptation to focus on Kirk-on-the-Hill's needs
January 3: Baptism of Jesus and the Kirk-on-the-Hill.

As the convener of the Church Doctrine, I organize, chair meetings and write reports to the General Assembly. As a member of Advisory Committee I participate in meetings with the Associate Secretary of the Ministry of Church Vocation, and through the healing and reconciliation group I meet and sometimes write articles like this one https://presbyterian.ca/2020/12/15/healing-reconciliation-as-a-newcomer-....

I am asking your help in connecting with each other. Please phone one another and make sure everyone is well. Also let me know who would like to have their Sunday worship services delivered. We are finally able to deliver printed versions of worship services on Sundays. We would like to get them to as many of our members as possible.

Our prayers, sympathies, and love of Christ are extended to Bryan and Janine Krasovskis. Bryan’s mother passed away on December 24. Her remains were interred on Tuesday, January 19th at Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines with a graveside service.

Our prayers, sympathies, and love of Christ are also extended to Deanna Rivette and Melissa Wheeler. Melissa’s grandfather (paternal side) passed away in Kingston.

Hymn of Preparation: Breathe on me Breath of God



Call to Worship:



Christ walks in front of us leading us into the future.
Christ walks beside us caring for us in the present.
Christ walks behind us making sure no one is left behind.
As we walk together with him, we are called to worship God together with Christ.
Let us worship God with joy and gladness!

Opening Hymn: Glory be to God



Prayer



O Lord, how full are heaven and earth with your glory! Yet, being hunkered down in our homes, we are unable to see and enjoy your glory that permeates all the world. Your love is everlasting, but we long for love from each other that lingers just brief moments. You are steadfastly present with us, even so, we search for the fleeting presence of our friends. Neglecting what we are already given, we try to fill ourselves with momentary and transient things to fill our hearts.

O God, by the Holy Spirit, bring us into your presence. Open our eyes to see your world being unveiled in our world. Fill our hearts with knowledge to know your ways. Help us to set our minds on you, to rely on you in every task that we do, to trust you with our spirits fully and to love you without condition. May we worship you through all of our being today and always! In Christ, may you bring us to your presence in praise, worship and thanksgiving. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: Let There Be Love)



Offering Prayer



O Lord God, because of your grace, we live abundant lives. Though we are confined to our own homes, we have been enjoying a life of calm and quiet. Knowing how upside down our world is makes us more thankful for the grace we enjoy and experience. Receive our thanks. Bestow on us your love so that we may share it with neighbours near and far. Through these sharings of your love, may you be glorified as more of your children enjoy you in this trouble filled world. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 12:28-34



One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Sermon: Going back to the beginning to start new


How can we start our lives all over again? How can we be born again? How can we restart our lives in meaningful ways? The aspiration behind these questions comes to fore at the end of old year and at the beginning of the new year. Some of us start a new exercise or diet regimen. Some try to become more efficient at work or study. Others enroll in new courses which offer new starts in life.

In our neighbours to the South, we have seen how many people hope for a change in their electoral process. Since 2008, more than any other time in their history, a new president became a symbol of new hope. Each president gave hope to different groups of people. The polarization is so severe that we see Americans divided, but that is due to the way so many people hung their hope on a particular president to give them a life of stability and prosperity from their lives of fear, desperation and despair. In this attempt, one side wanted to “Make America great again” as was in the past while the other side demanded their pick to bring back bold initiatives like the one their former president Roosevelt delivered for the suffering people. Both sides went back into the past to see how they could find answers for today.

Something similar happens in the passage as Jews were arguing with themselves as Jesus was answering. A scribe comes to Jesus and asks what commandment is first of all commandments or the most important commandment is. Jesus answers not only the question, but also adds to the answer by giving the second most important commandment. He ties both commandments together as the number one and number two. ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ He seems to emphasize the importance of these two commandments by saying that there is no other commandment greater than these. The scribe agrees. We are told that Jesus told this man that he was not far from God’s kingdom.

Here is the context we need to know to understand this passage.. It is very late in Jesus’ ministry. Already Jesus had upended the money changers and merchants in the Temple and taught the people. We were told in the last week’s passage that high priests were plotting to kill him for what he did. We know that soon he would be arrested. In this short time he has left, he is answering the question about the most important commandment for people to keep. In answering, he ties both the first and the second commandments as being essential for God’s people. Knowing how important these two commandments are keeps a person near God’s kingdom according to what Jesus tells this scribe. Like a rich young man who was filled with sadness because he had to go and sell everything before following Jesus, this scribe’s knowledge is wonderful, but until he can live that life, God’s kingdom is always near for him, but not quite yet a reality.

Interestingly, Mark’s gospel starts with Jesus preaching to the world that “the kingdom of God has come near.” Now at the tail end of his ministry he is still facing the situation where this scribe who knows God’s commandments is still seen as not being far from the kingdom of God. Things have not changed much since Jesus began his ministry. Jews, especially those who are devout, are always remaining near, but not quite in the kingdom of God. In this Gospel, those who follow Jesus, including the disciples, are so near, yet are not in God’s kingdom totally. Mark shows this by all the disciples abandoning Jesus as he hangs on the cross. What, then, are the signs that those who follow him are in God’s kingdom?

Gospel John answers this question. In Chapter 13, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Those who are in God’s kingdom live the life of loving God and neighbours. It is simple as that. So far so good. The scribes and other Jews know what the essential commandments. But knowing alone and loving God and neighbours get you so far near the kingdom. We could be confident that this scribe was a good Jew who did live by these commands. In Chapter 15, John’s Gospel makes it clearer, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” These passages along with John 3:16, make it clear that those, who believe in and abide in Jesus, who love one another as Jesus loves them, and who are born of the water and the Spirit, are the ones who are in God’s kingdom.

As was the case with the scribe and the Jews, with the knowledge of the two most important commandments, they were not far from God’s kingdom. As Jesus preached, the kingdom of God was near. This is the new start: knowing what they are to do, where they come from, and who they are in relation to God in order to fully understand, accept, and participate in God’s kingdom. Without having what they already know, it is not possible for them to believe in God who does not hesitate to send God’s own Son in love to deliver them from this world of sin. Most Jews could not understand that Jesus was the one who was sent. Those who saw Jesus growing up among them rejected him because they knew him as one of them. The priests, Pharisees, and scribes could not understand that Jesus, a commoner, could be the one sent by God. Without understanding it was easy for everyone to reject him. With the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, they could not participate in God’s kingdom.

In many ways, after so many years since Jesus instructed his disciples and tried to enlighten the Jews, Christians or those who claim to follow Jesus today have become very good at knowing what God commanded us to do. All in Christian churches know that they are to love God and love their neighbours. Yet, knowing the two most important commandments and trying to do them piecemeal have not helped Christians to share their participation in God’s kingdom with others. Indeed, most Christians are not concerned about God’s kingdom here and now because they assume that they will enter God’s kingdom when they die. That is, eternal life is something we think we will enjoy when we die. In the meantime, we try to do as much and as best as we can in terms of keeping the commandments because we know these two commandments are very important. Yes, we have become much like this scribe and his compatriots who knew well the two most important commandments.
Like them, we seek a new start in life by putting behind the life we live. So we return to the beginning to refresh our memory to know the essentials of new life: love God with all that we are and love our neighbour as ourselves. Knowing this, we return to the Scriptures and as John has guided us, we begin this life of love by believing in Jesus as the Messiah, abide in him as he abides in us, and live the life of being baptized by water and the Spirit. Is it not in our confession, Living Faith, that Eternal life begins in this life: whoever believes in the Son of God already has eternal life since in Baptism by faith we die and rise with Christ and so are one with the risen Lord? (10.4) This is how we start new again. Having died and risen with Christ, we live life of love--loving God and neighbours fully--as the new creation, putting behind all that we are. We can understand, know, accept, and rejoice this new life in Christ Jesus our Lord because we can go back to the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth and know that God so loved the world that God sent God’s only Son so that all who believe in him may have eternal life. The key is to believe in him and to abide in him. Without this belief and abiding, we simply are like all others being near God’s kingdom, but never in it. In this way, at the end of each day, we die to ourselves so that in the morning, we rise with Christ to begin anew in God’s new creation having been made one with the risen Lord. A new start each day, truly. That’s what it means to be in Christ because we believe..

Prayer:



O God, life had its beginning in you. In you, it will come to completion. As we sojourn in this world of suffering and woes, we come across the power of sin in every corner of our lives. We are so overpowered by sin, often we feel powerless. In our impotence, we fall into despair. So in this dark despair we come to you with prayer. Hear our prayer.

We pray for our world. The leaders, the followers, and every member of this world--young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor, healthy and sick--are filled with fear and worries. Be with us. Let each and every one of us know that perfect love casts out fears and that in you, we find perfect love, shown in Christ Jesus our Lord, that our fears are cast out. Remind us of your steadfast love for us. Each time our hearts and minds become fearful, make us see your love for us, help us to experience your perfect love in many small ways, and bestow on us the life of love to live free of fears.

We pray for all those who are sick, who are doing their best to heal the sick, and who are there to love the ones suffering. With COVID 19, things have been terribly difficult. More and more people die as if nothing can stop the rampage of this virus. In the meantime, more and more people are getting restless and behaving in ways that are reckless and dangerous to those who are vulnerable. Be with all. Through your presence, calm us, dissipate our anxieties, and bring healing to us all. Help us to know that life is in your hand. Liberate us from the fear of death so that we may find ways to love and care for one another.

We pray for those of us who are caught in the under side of this life. Because of the way of this world, many of us suffer poverty. Hunger and humiliation have been our daily reality. Be with us. Guide us in ways that we may have hope and faith in you. Even when our faith is weak or we no longer believe, take our hands and pull us up. Make us yours with love of your Son our Lord.

We thank you for little mercies and grace we experience each day. Often we fight for these small joys and forget to give thanks. Help us to be filled with hearts of love to see grace and mercy being shared in our lives. Shape us as your people full of thanksgiving.

Forgive us when we forget to forgive others. Forgive us when we hurt others with or without knowing. Fill us with the knowledge of your grace. In faith, make us your servants who forgive others constantly even when they do wrongs against us.

Many of us are tired. Life has taken its toll on us. Sometimes we would rather let ourselves fall into despair than fight for a shred of hope. Mould us in ways that our faith is strong. Lead us to faith that sees and receives your steadfast love for us in all that we do.

We pray for ourselves. We are few. We are weak. We are too small in this immensely complicated world to make much difference. We worry about many things including the future for this church. As things change, help us to be strong in faith. Make us hang on and live out every Word you give us. Continue to minister to us with hope that never ceases in your Son our Lord.

We know that we will be a very different church when this pandemic is over, O God. We can see how we have to adjust yet again to this new reality that will face us. Give us courage in faith to walk with you. Help us to know that in our decision is your unveiling of God’s reign here in this part of your vineyard.

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

Hymn: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go



Benediction