Welcome and Announcements
Thank you for worshipping with us today. As we begin to enjoy longer and longer days, we pray that God’s love will embrace you more and more each day.
Today we will be meeting to discuss our budget for 2022. We will do this online. You are invited to join. Please check your email for all the information on connecting with us. If you desire to join us by phone, let us know. If you are not joining the meeting, but have questions or comments, please send them to us by email or phone.
We have been sending out our newsletters every Wednesday. We are also making the printed copies available on Sundays. Those who wish to have these newsletters delivered, let us know.
Please remember to be in contact with one another and let us know if there are pastoral needs.
Preparation: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Call to Worship
From the beginning of the world, God has been with us. Throughout history, God raised prophets to call us back into his presence. Today we recall what God said to Jeremiah, “"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations… See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” God continues to send us the Word through the Scriptures. Let us come and worship God who was, is and ever shall be with us now and always.
As the deer
You are our creator, giver and sustainer of life.
To you we come as children gathering before their parents. With love, joy, and excitement we come after having been scattered away from you. We come, knowing that your love has never parted from us.
You, O God, was, is, and always will be our God in heaven and earth, the world beyond our imagination and the world of your creation. We now see, know, and understand dimly, yet in your presence our eyes, ears, and minds are opened to receive all that we can observe, hear and comprehend. Through Christ you have called us into being. Through the Holy Spirit you guide us according to your will.
May your name be holy and blessed always as our God. Your holiness is hidden in our sinful world. Your glory reveals your immense love that you have given us through your Son our Lord. Your blessings, given through the Holy Spirit, sustain and guide us always.
May you reign over us today! May your living presence be the source of our lives today as we struggle in our sins! As your will is being done in our world, may you continue to grant us the privilege of participating in your ministry as broken, yet, redeemed people.
May this prayer be received by you as from our hearts. We bring you our love, praise and worship this day in your Son’s name. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 7:18-23
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” ’ Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
Sermon: Teachings and Healings
This section begins with a scene of Jesus choosing 12 disciples. After readers are introduced to the twelve names of disciples, Gospel Luke moves quickly into what Jesus is doing. Luke 6:17-19 is almost like a short introduction for the entire section where Jesus begins to teach and heal. Before teaching, however, Jesus blesses those who are poor, hungry, weeping and the persecuted while speaking judgements on the rich and powerful.
Teachings consist of Loving one’s enemies, blessing those who curse, praying for those who abuse, turning the other cheek, sharing freely and generously, doing to others as we want them to do to us, and not judging. Then, he teaches in parables. A tree and its fruits, two foundations of buildings, about sowing seeds, and where the lamp is put are his teachings.
In this section, healings are given to the centurion’s servant, a person possessed by a demon in Gerasene, and a woman suffering from hemorrhages. He raised a son of a widow at Nain and Jarius’ daughter from death. He forgave a sinful woman who came to him in a house of Pharisees.
Through teaching, healing, forgiving, and raising the dead, Gospel Luke begins to show concretely that Jesus is God’s Son, the beloved. In two other ways, Gospel Luke makes this same argument: 1. Telling the disciples of John the Baptist to say to John who was enquiring, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them,” listing in this answer what was written in the passage from Isaiah which he read in the synagogue in Nazareth, 2. Calming the storm to show that he is God’s son who commands even winds and water.
At this early stage, Jesus is welcomed wherever he goes. You can see that Jesus is not being confronted in this section by Pharisees, scribes, or priests. We see no reference to Sabbath or synagogues. He is now on the road. He is going to places. People are also coming to him from Judea, Jerusalem and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Gospel Luke stresses this mutuality of Jesus the Son of God meeting people who are hungry and thirsty literally and spiritually half way. The narrative builds this gathering as mutual and organic efforts of God and God’s people. Jesus is God’s response to people’s cries. God’s people respond to the good news of God Jesus embodies. This is the beginning part of his ministry.
However, Luke has made sure that not everything will go in the direction of total acceptance of Jesus and his ministry. A quick and short note focuses on Judas Iscariot being singled out as one who will become a traitor. Of course, we do not see Judas again until just before Jesus dies on the cross. We are to be aware of his eventual evil act. He will be in the background. This early signal that one of the twelve disciples will betray Jesus prepares readers of Gospel Luke for the difficulty Jesus will face. With a four word phrase–who became traitor–a negative force is introduced and the welcome narrative is foreshadowed with a rising tension. We will keep our eyes on how this force will develop in this book. In the meantime, so far, Gospel Luke is busy implying that his eventual opponents are still trying to figure out who this man is and what he is all about. They are busy learning about him. They seem to bear no ill will at this point. They, too, want to find out who this person is.
Looking closely, what we find is that Gospel Luke 6:20 mentions clearly that Jesus was teaching, first and foremost, his disciples. Jesus is looking up at his disciples. Though many are coming to him, he is addressing his disciples only. He opens his teachings with blessings. He blesses them first. In his bsing he makes it clear that his disciples are poor, hungry, and are weeping. Whatever the case may be, Jesus tells them he knows who they are and he has come for them as indicated by the passage from Isaiah. He also blesses them for their future which will not be smooth, but will be filled with persecution and hatred against them. This prescient blessing is important in Gospel Luke as the writer anticipates the coming difficulties for those who follow Christ, the Son of God.
Another interesting point we glean from this section is that along with the blessings for his disciples he gives warnings against the rich and the powerful. These warnings are necessary to show God’s true purpose, as Jesus read from Isaiah and Mary sang before the birth. These prophecies are being fulfilled. Jesus’ presence in the world is not just for the poor and hungry to flourish in life, but for God’s justice to return so that life is experienced as God intended. In these warnings against the rich we are now fully becoming aware that Jesus is on the side of the poor. The good news of God is to liberate/release/forgive the captives/poor/sinners from their sufferings.
In this warning section, Gospel Luke introduces another sub-plot we need to pay attention to in our reading. A clear warning against a carnal desire by disciples is given. The last line of this short paragraph on blessings and warnings, is a caution given to his own disciples, ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.’ Jesus is pointing out and warning his own disciples how seductive people’s praises are. Of course, those who come with the good news of God desire for acceptance and appreciation. Of course, many people will speak well of them. Indeed, we have already seen in Nazareth and elsewhere in Galilee how people spoke well of Jesus. But these flattering words will corrupt those who yearn for them. When all people including the rich and powerful, the emphasis is on “all,” speak well or accept fully of those who come to them, these flattering words reveal the falsehood of those who supposedly speak on God’s behalf. Yes, those who are seeking to be liked or become popular in the eyes of people are not truly from God. In other words, there is a great price to pay if you are being God’s mouthpiece. Here again Luke seems to imply the rejection of Jesus by those who are the rich/powerful.
With these blessings and warning, the rest of Chapter 6 contains the teaching of Jesus for his disciples, revealing the very moral and ethical ways of living. The subtlety of Gospel Luke shines when you see the continual development of a theme due to persecution and rejection. First we saw Jesus upsetting the people of Nazareth. Then, Jesus upsets Pharisees and scribes by healing on Sabbath. In this section Jesus blesses those who are hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed on his account. He goes to the extent that when they face these rejections they should rejoice and be glad. This important theme of being rejected by the world is carried on into his teachings.
Teachings are very ordinary on the surface. However, soon we find the subversive words, “If you love those who love you..” In other words, what the disciples will do in comparison to others is more difficult. Jesus’ teachings will divide his disciples from others, or his disciples will be rejected and reviled by others because they will live with these teachings which are far more difficult and different from how others prefer to live as God’s people. With this gauntlet thrown down, Jesus’ teachings here pushes the disciples to live a life of morals and ethics based on God’s intention and delve deeper into life of being on God’s side. A bit later in Chapter 8 Jesus speaks for the first time in parable in Gospel Luke. The parable of the sower comes with a clear proviso that the meaning of the parable is only given to the disciples. Others are on their own. The secret is given only to the disciples or those who follow Jesus.
In the next two chapters, we see the continual emphasis on Jesus being the Son of God. Healings along with the calming of the raging storm are used to show that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. This point is reinforced by an episode where the disciples of John the Baptist come with the question if he is the one they have been waiting for. Together with the teachings which begin separating Jesus and his disciples from the descendants of Abraham, we are now seeing Jesus moving away from the people of Israel to those beyond.
Another hint is given about what the future holds for Jesus as Gospel Luke makes the case that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus raises a dead son of a widow and a dead daughter of Jairus who is a leader of a synagogue. These two examples allude to Jesus’ resurrection. We know this because in Chapter 9 he foretells his death and resurrection for the first time. Jesus as the Son of God has power over life and death. In both cases, as is the case with his healings, he is motivated by compassion as well as cries of the people. God’s response through Jesus to the suffering of the people is the healing to full life. Here we are reminded that unlike Gospel Mark and Gospel Matthew, Jesus is not described as preaching the nearness of God’s kingdom. Here in Luke, it is assumed that fullness of life is unfolding in and through everything Jesus does.
In this section Gospel Luke reveals fully the identity of Jesus as well as his purpose. He has also set up the very positive responses from the captives, whether they are captives to poverty, hunger, sickness, and life’s dreadful circumstances. This Gospel has also begun shaping the foundation for the reason of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We now see with some clarity that through Jesus God is saving the entire world.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. Each and every day, so many of your people, both children and adults, are dying in hunger. Though there is more than enough food for everyone, an unimaginable number of people are going hungry in poverty. Your providence has been plundered and pillaged by the powerful whose greed is never ending. We pray that all that you have provided for the flourishing of all life be used as intended so that all may live their lives fully as you intended them to.
Forgive us our sins. Greed, gluttony, jealousy, and hoarding are the basis of our inhumanity against others. We have built a life where demeaning, belittling, abusing, mocking, spewing hatred against others are accepted as par for the course. We have lost the ability to see humanity in others and love our neighbours as ourselves. We have retreated into our own selves to protect what we have and who we imagine ourselves to be rather than reaching out to love all our neighbours including our enemies. Forgive us. Make us see that we, of our own making, have become nothing more than expressions of our greed and jealousy. Release us from the power of these sins to be free to believe in your Son, to hope for your reign where all flourish fully, and to love even if it means to give our lives for others.
Lead us not into temptation. It is so easy for us, O God, to sling judgement and condemnations to others, abuse and discriminate, laugh at and mock those who are not us. We disdain, bully, hate, and hurl insults at those who are not able to protect themselves because they are poor, weak, hungry, and powerless. Stop us from falling into these temptations to display power, wealth, might, and superiority over the weak. Keep us humble so that we will not fall into temptations of carrying out our evil behaviours against others. Deliver us from evil. Deliver us from our evil ways. Deliver us from evil systems that we have created to protect us while exploiting the weak. Deliver us from evil in us.
For yours is the way, the truth, and the life. May your reign of love, compassion, and mercy overtake all that is of hateful, inhumane, dreadful, violent, destructive and full of death.
In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
In October 2019, a devastating fire destroyed much of St. Matthew’s Presbyterian Church in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland. But, even with this loss and devastation weighing heavy on the hearts of the congregation, they still continued their outreach ministry to support the local community. During the pandemic, congregation members produced hats, mittens and incubator blankets for the local hospital, and also supported the local Food Bank and Salvation Army. Now that the church building has been fully restored and the congregation is able to gather again, they continue to show love to their neighbours by exploring new opportunities for using and sharing their restored space. St. Matthew’s Presbyterian Church is supported by gifts to Presbyterians Sharing.
O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee