Sunday, January 3, 2021

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and Announcements for Sunday, January 3, 2021

Thank you for joining us as we greet you in this new year!

May God’s blessings be upon all of you as you begin a new year after the most unusual Year 2020! It is our prayer that with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will find more exciting ways to love God and others. It is our promise that together we will serve our God and neighbours.

Our goal this year is to bring worship with joyful hearts celebrating God and God’s love for us. We will continue to bring ways to serve God and neighbours with joyful thanksgiving in all circumstances.

Our reaching out missions will continue. We will focus on providing meals as we have done in the past years. We will add a more innovative way of helping those who need help as best as we can. Our hope is to find ways to help a few people in poverty to discover firmer footings and greater stability in life.

We will begin planning in these early months ways to return fully and more actively when we will finally return to full life in the near future. Please pray that with God’s help, we will face new challenges with faith, hope, and love.

Please pray for Carol Heatherington, Lily Bain, Moyra Thompson and others who are on the way to recovery from their illnesses.

We express our deepest love for Dorothy Wilson’s family at this time of grief. There was a graveside service for Dorothy on Monday. We also extend our deepest sympathy to Jennifer Gould’s family. We were informed of her death last Sunday. Her remains have been cremated already. The internment service will take place on Tuesday, January 12 at 11 am at the graveside in Fairview Cemetery.

Hymn of Preparation: Be Still for the Presence



Call to Worship

God has prepared for us things beyond our imagining. Our hope is for a renewed world and for fullness of life in the age to come. Let us come and worship.

Hymn: Here I am to Worship



Prayer

O God, you have given us life to your servants so that we may come and worship you. You have created the world in which your glory resides if we have eyes to see and the Spirit to perceive. You have filled us with your love in ways that our life is led to peace in the world of troubles. You have given us love to share life fully with those around us.

In gratitude, we come and offer you this worship. Receive our love that is being presented to you through our praises, prayers and hearts of listening. May our love for you be found in your love for us as we bless your name. Amen.

Offering (Create In Me a Clean Heart)



Offering Prayer

O fully sufficient God, what can we bring to you to fill your joy? Is there anything of ours that can truly belong to you? Yet, each Sunday we bring offering in humility knowing that what we present to you as offering does not measure up to what you have done for us. We bring what we can, O God, not because you need these tributes, but these are our tokens of love for you. Receive these offerings as nothing more than symbols of our love for you. We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:1-13

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their homes, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Sermon: Starting anew in Christ

There have been many businesses in non-essential sectors making decisions either to stay open or close. Without sufficient income, it is hard to keep these stores open. If a store is a small one with dedicated patrons, you may choose to ride out this pandemic. If it is a big one backed by international investment, your decision is based solely on those investors. If you are a medium size business, there is no reason to stay open with obligatory payments for rent, utilities, wages, and other costs accumulating day by day. As the world adjusts to this pandemic reality, things will not be returning to normal. The business landscape has already changed in ways that we have not foreseen. Trying to do what these businesses used to do will not be easy as this prolonged pandemic has changed the way people see the world and their needs. People have been recalibrating their needs, wants and future desires. It means that all businesses have and will continue to adjust to the changes. After all, we know now, more than ever, we do not have to spend so much money on things we really do not need.

As a community of faith, our way of thinking has adapted to this new reality, too. There are things we miss about being part of Drummond Hill. We are saddened over not being able to worship together every Sunday, share joys and sorrows, care for each other, and belong. Now, we have learned that we have found ways to worship and all these things we miss through different means. Phones, regular cards and the internet have become the glue that binds us together. It gives us opportunities to discover new ways of being a community of Christ. Things have changed, indeed, but we are resilient and are adapting to this new way of being a Christian community. Of course, we are still figuring out our ways.

For us, being in Christ (following Christ while being part of the body of Christ) makes all the difference in the world that is forced to change by this pandemic. It is because we know what we need to do and how to be a church in the world. Saying that we are a church is to say that we are far more than simply a voluntary organization or a group of people meeting for worship services. Saying that we are part of the Church is to confess to the world that we are that body, Christ together with his people called both to worship and to serve him in all of life. Our purpose is crystal clear even in this pandemic. Our focus is to worship and serve continually.

The question on how to serve is made clear even in the context where the Church is not welcome in the world as secular people no longer pay attention to anything that has to do with Christ. In this Mark’s passage, we see how Jesus was rejected. The people of his hometown were the ones who rejected him so thoroughly on the account that they knew him and his family. Jesus was not deterred by this rejection. Instead, he chose to send out his disciples to share the gospel with various tasks which would demonstrate the coming of God’s reign. The future that belongs to God was being revealed through the actions of these disciples. Bringing signs and wonders of God’s presence to regular people would be their tasks. In their actions these regular people would taste and experience what God’s coming would be like.

Sadly even after Jesus was put on the cross people did not understand Jesus’ mission because they did not know who Jesus was. After his resurrection, the Church in its unwavering proclamation of the future of God being revealed in the present, was continually rejected. It is important to note this over and over. The rejection of Jesus was complete. If it was only a half measure, Jesus would not have died. Wonderful thing is that this unequivocal rejection by the world did not stop God’s Good News from spreading. In this passage we see Jesus sending his disciples out into the world. The rejection became an occasion which prompted Jesus to focus on the world. Instead of giving the Good News to his kinfolks and hometown folk, he was now free to offer it to the world. The same thing happened after the death and resurrection. As the world confronted Jesus and his disciples with its most complete rejection, the disciples began taking the gospel of the risen Lord into the world. This pattern of rejection and the gospel being sent out after the rejection continued throughout history. Everywhere, the rejection of the gospel became an opportunity for the gospel to break out into the surrounding world.

As we saw earlier, in this pandemic moment, medical science and technology, and economic policies are seen as far more essential than our faith in God. People dismiss Christ as nothing more than a personal spiritual opinion. The secular world is not interested in hearing about the good news of God or how God’s reign is different than today’s world for the poor. Even those who are poor, hungry and weak are rejecting the gospel. As we (Christians) and Christ are rejected, what we forget in our discouraged state is that on the world’s rejection, the good news is freed to be offered to others. The good news is not simply stopped or buried. It is given new life to move on to those who will receive it gladly. We do not understand this well. We get hurt too quickly for being rejected. We get disillusioned, disappointed, dejected, and discouraged. We do not realize that the good news is already on the move to some other people. It does not stay still in sorrow and grief because those, whom we approached, rejected the good news that we brought to them. It does not allow itself to be buried. In a way, it goes ahead of us. It continually makes us search beyond ones we encounter.

It is true that we are fewer and fewer in number compared to earlier times. We see ourselves in fewer numbers and in weaker states. The truth is that those who embrace are few--those who accept the gospel in its own term for the sake of Christ are very few. Through those few it spreads onto others. In a way, it spreads somewhat like this COVID 19 virus. It begins slow, but once it begins to spread, it spreads exponentially. We may be few, but once we begin spreading the good news, it begins to double exponentially. Being the first few is tough. We do not see the large number after a few generations of growing exponentially. Abraham to Isaac to Jacob took a long time. Once Jacob began to have children things moved quickly. We are in Abrahamic stage again as the world rejects Christ whom we know and share with the world. The wonderful thing for us to know is that the good news of Christ, by virtue of rejection, is freed from our churches and those who claim to be marginally Christians, or only spiritually Christians. It moves beyond those whom we know if we are willing to be servants of God to share it. To strangers it goes--the test for us is whether we are courageous enough to follow its direction and meet strangers to offer it.

In a way, we have been doing it through Saturday Lunch Take-outs, sharing through PWS&D, mission funds, benevolent funds, WMS, Presbyterians Sharing and other means. We need to see from today’s passage that Jesus, once rejected by his own folk, sent his disciples out to the wider world to share the good news of the coming reign of God. Like them, we go out and live our lives to display the reality of God’s reign where healings, equity, justice and peace are what await for those who are willing to believe. With power and authority from Christ, we go into the world. Especially now, as many Christians end up being the very reasons why the secular world disdains and rejects the local churches and Christians through their ignorant and dangerous posturing in times of COVID 19 pandemic, we become living testimonies of God’s love for the world.

We are not able to save those small businesses from closing, stop people from losing their jobs, and are unable to provide enough support for people who are about to lose their homes sufficiently. However, we bring to them the good news of Christ by being the signs of what is to come when God’s reign overtakes the human world. We bring to them the assurance of God’s love to all those who are fearful of tomorrow. We share God’s love by walking with, caring, sharing, and being Christ’s presence to them. We are not without power in this crucial time of pandemic. We are the ones who are sent into the world to be the witnesses of God’s power of healing and peace in the world because those who should know better by rejoicing and receiving the good news have rejected it. On the other hand we do bring the good news humbly as Christians who listen, who walk with, who share, who remember and who do our best to be with those who are in life’s troubles as best as we are able in faith.

Yes, we are mandated by Christ to go to all who are suffering to proclaim the good news and bring healing by being loving, hoping and believing ones in Christ. Let us enter 2021 full of faith, hope, and love sharing the good news of Christ with those around us.

Prayer

O gracious and merciful God, we come in gratitude to lift up our prayers in one voice. As we have turned over another year, we bring to you hearts full of gratitude. 2020 was an incredibly difficult year. Once the COVID 19 virus infections increased and the world hunkered itself down to deal with this pandemic our lives changed. Through all ups and downs of the pandemic lockdowns and measures, you have taught us to be patient, kind and gentle with each other and strangers. As the world was overtaken by the fear of death, you did not abandon us but stayed with us to encourage us to live a life of faith, hope, and love.

In 2020 we witnessed many of our members breathing their last breath in your Son. Be with their loved ones who are continuing in this life of faith with us.

Many of our members were ill. With your presence, many were healed and are with us to praise your name. Receive our thanks for their recovery.

All in your creation groaned in pain in the year that is no more. People were wreathing because of illnesses, wars, terrorists’ acts and environmental catastrophes. All lives on earth ached in ever increasing temperature and consequences of man-made troubles. Yet, you did not leave us alone. You were among us, loving, caring and forgiving. In your mercy we have gotten through this very difficult year. So we thank you.

Now as we embark on a new year, we give you our thanks. Let 2021 be the year we may serve you fully with all our love. Open our eyes to see and hearts to feel the pain of this world in ways that we will not hesitate to share your love fully. Lead us to serve you, one another, all your creation in ways that through faithful stewardship, we may be your servants who put the course of this world on the path of recovery and peace in your love. Use us. Send us. May the world experience your love through all that we do.
In the name of Jesus our Lord and Saviour we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Shine Jesus Shine



Benediction