Sunday, Jan 31 21

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Welcome and Announcements



We give God thanks for your presence with us. It is wonderful to have you being part of our community through this worship. Thank you.

Here is a note from Judy.

Today marks a new beginning for me, my retirement from the position of the Minister of Music at Drummond Hill. It also marks the end of 42 years of leading choirs and playing services – so many memories. I feel blessed to have spent the last 19 years at Drummond Hill, the church I grew up in. Thank you for the opportunity to share in the making of a “Joyful Noise” together.

We thank God for Judy. She has served God and the church faithfully and joyfully. We thank her for her service, leadership, and fellowship to our congregation. As we have noted before, when the pandemic restrictions lift and we will be able to meet safely, we will host her retirement party. In the meantime, you can certainly express your thanks to her by various means that are available to you. Today is the last Sunday she is picking the hymns.

As we have mentioned to you, our draft 2021 Budget has been circulated to you and is available at https://drummondhill.ca/2021budget. If you have any questions, please, phone, email or contact us. Next Sunday at 10:30 am, we will be holding an online information session to have questions and answers for this budget. After that, on Tuesday, February 9, we will send out an email asking you to approve the 2021 proposed budget as “an interim budget” until we have an in person meeting. The instructions will be on that email as to how you can vote. For those who do not use the internet, we will give you a phone call to tell us whether you are in favour or against the proposed budget being the interim budget. I will send out on Wednesday the 3rd the invitation and instruction to join the question and answer session for next Sunday (Feb. 7) at 10:30 am.

Hymn to prepare for worship: Spirit of God



Call to Worship



From the beginning, without fail, God has been with us.
In time, out of season, God has given us life.
In life and in death, our lives belong to God for God through Christ calls us into being.
For this calling, in gratitude, we offer God our worship.
Let us come and worship God who was, is and ever shall be.

Hymn: To God Be the Glory



Prayer:



O Lord God,
In your presence we come. We come together as one in Christ Jesus our Lord. As individuals we have lived in the world separately looking after only one’s own concerns, we come before you as a people, shaped by your Son’s call, made into one body through communion in your Son, and given new life as part of new creation by the death and resurrection of your Son our Lord. Be gracious to us as we come, tainted by this world’s sin, having journeyed in this world apart from you. Receive us in your presence so that this worship may glorify you and through this worship we may witness you to those around us. By the Holy Spirit restore, strengthen, and empower us to be your servants. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: Wonderful Grace of Jesus)



Offering Prayer



Dear Lord,
We bring these small offerings as our response to your great love. Your love has given life filled with purpose and meaning. Your love sends us among our neighbours to witness and share your good news through all that we do. Your love refreshes our souls to bring praise to you. In gratitude, we present these offerings. Receive them and bless us in ways that we may continue to witness, share, and serve you so that all may come to see and know you. Amen.

Scripture: 1 John 2:7-17



Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because* the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
because you have conquered the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
because you are strong
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire* are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.

Semon: A truly new way of being as the Easter people



Last week in a panel discussion on Healing and Reconciliation on TVO, a Roman Catholic priest was making arguments about why many people may not be for Healing and Reconciliation. He continually spoke about new immigrants who had no dealings with Residential Schools and other colonial policies and why these immigrants should not be held accountable. In the meantime, a Jewish rabbi was saying how he had to learn about Canadians' actions against the indigenous people and came to change his mind on the issue. From the way these two clergymen were speaking, it was painfully obvious that one was busy making excuses while the other was taking responsibility for getting on with the Healing and Reconciliation process. This priest was careful not to take any blame of any kind as a representative of the Catholic Church. He was measured, polished and clear.

Somehow, the priest could show neither his love nor the love of Christ. He was too busy trying to make sure no one would fault him and the Roman Catholic Church for the lack of progress in Healing and Reconciliation tasks. He could not share the very love Christ embodied for the vulnerable, the hurt, the weak and the broken in that interview. His words were full of evasion and rationalization of why the Roman Catholic Church is not involved in the Healing and Reconciliation work. As one of the indigenous people told me some years ago, we Christians have to figure out how to actually love our indigenous brothers and sisters as we say we love others. One thing they have been teaching us is that we have not really loved them as we say we do.

The writer of this first letter of John emphasizes the importance of loving brothers and sisters in Christ. He was very aware how easy it was to talk about love without loving. The entire letter is focused on matching the word with action, doing the loving as we preach the love so that God’s love is experienced through the love we share.

Today’s passage reminds us to begin thinking about love in a way that we Christians always forget to begin. We are reminded that we live with the “new” commandment. Today, when we talk about something “new” we are either talking about something that is new now or in future. Unlike us, this author adds that we are talking about something that existed from the very beginning. Though it has existed so long--the entire length of time--it is new. Like a “new discovery” we talk about in science, it is something that was already present and remained unknown and was hidden to us until we uncovered it, stumbled upon it or found after a diligent search. It is unveiled for the first time to us as new. In the same way, the New Life in Christ is not new at all. It was always present from the beginning of time. Yet, it is entirely new when we are made to see, experience and live it for the first time in Christ.

This newness of the commandment is made possible through Jesus. It has been revealed to us in a brand new way. Until Jesus, many in Israel knew it as the word. They knew its meaning, importance, and authority. Somehow, when this very same commandment is seen in the presence of Jesus it becomes new. The meaning, importance and authority are still the same, but it is new because it is now revealed as life--not a life, but as the Life, the Way. Love has become more than a word that people can speak of with one another. It is a commandment by which God’s grace is experienced and made true for everyone. In this sense, God’s love is intimately shared in everyday life through the simple act of loving one another. In loving, then, something that is old, as old as the creation itself, is fully made to come alive to give life to those who receive love that originated from God.

The writer of this letter keeps the theme of loving one another in various ways from the beginning to the end. In this passage, those who love one another are said to be in the light while those who do not love their brothers and sisters as ones in the darkness. A lengthy list of recipients ensures that everyone is included in this life of love that everyone is called to.

Loving others as the very life in Christ is emphasized over and over again until in the 3rd Chapter, it finally makes crystal clear that loving ought to be not just word or speech, but in truth and action. Of course in Chapter 4, we get the famous passage on “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11) Loving, therefore, is the very essence of this new life Christ in Jesus.

In the TVO discussion the priest was unable to share this love of God or God as love in any meaningful way. His unwillingness to be loving publicly because this act may put him and his church in very costly culpability reveals how far we still need to go to live the new commandment in concrete and transparent ways. Our world needs us to live this new commandment more than ever in the history of humanity since many are simply left out in this violent and inhumane world of despair. Sadly, Christians like all others have been talking a lot about love, but often are unwilling to love as the new commandment states.

It is indeed true that many people have learned to manipulate our willingness to love. We have been duped, misled and defrauded because we tried to live out this commandment to love. We have become very cautious in how we try to share Christ’s love because of these neighbours who take advantage of us. It is true that at times we are fully taken advantage of for being kind and gentle. We have been made feel guilty for not loving enough more than often. Our compassion and empathy have been abused more times than we can count. Of course, we do not like to be taken to the cleaners for trying to love as Christ loved us.

In the late 1980s, an article appeared in the Montreal Gazette about a church in one of the prosperous suburbs of Montreal. A couple came to visit the pastor one day and told him how financially they were at the wit’s end. They were being evicted from their apartment for non-payment of rent. They had young children. Both were cut from their jobs in the economic downturn. As the winter approached they did not know where to turn. The pastor felt sad. He promised to do something about it and asked the couple to come back later that week so that he could talk to his congregation. With the pastor’s plea, the congregation stepped up to help. They found a nice apartment for the family, paid two months worth of deposits and the first month and promised the landlord that they would pick up the cost if the family was unable to pay. They furnished the apartment with new sofas, beds and things they thought would make the family comfortable. The family soon moved in. In the first month, the family came to church every Sunday. Then, suddenly the family stopped coming. Concerned phone calls were not returned. After a few weeks of their absence, concerned church members went to visit the family. At the apartment they were told that the family moved away. Took everything in the apartment including the deposits. This story still repeats today in some parts of Canada as we speak. I have heard that something similar happened to us here as well sometime before I came. There are these unscrupulous people who lie and defraud kind hearted Christians who want to share Christ’s love. I get emails, phone calls, and at the door often with similar stories. After getting duped a few times, we can easily become upset enough that we no longer respond to anyone requesting for help. In the process, we often turn away those who really are telling us the truth and appealing to us out of total desperation.

I have been taken advantage of by many people. I had to think deeply about this new commandment. How do we love all those scheming people with Christ’s love? Is it realistic to open our church to these fraudsters? I have established a way that I have been following on your behalf. Yes, on your behalf because everything I do as a minister has an implication of how others see Drummond Hill on how we share and live Christ’s love.

When a person comes to see, email or phone me, I do my best to meet them and hear their stories. I hear their stories out fully with attention. The first time they tell me the story I take it at face value. I receive them as if Christ has sent them to me on his behalf. I do my best to trust them however unbelievable their stories or even when I know they are telling me stories I have heard many times before from others. I make this effort to show that I meet them on your behalf willing to share Christian love on your behalf. I do make it clear that I am not here to be duped, but to help them. Some have tried to fool me. Some have pushed me far enough that I have put my foot down firmly. Some have been told never to come back. Some were clearly made aware that I knew what they were up to. Even then, some try.

Yet, finding ways to love is what I do on your behalf. Not always successfully, but I try. After all, you trust me to love all on your behalf so that God’s love is shared fully with those who come to interact with us in one form or another. This means to help them with what they need as much as possible rather than giving in to what they want. In having done things this way, I can share with you that we have been heartened to receive wonderful letters of gratitudes. Many came back to give us back what I gave them without prompting. Many bring whatever they have, entrusting us to share together what little we have. In this way we found many wonderful people who come to us for many different reasons.

“God is love,” is one of the most difficult words for us to make them into real experience. Keeping the new commandment to love one another is far more challenging than we think. The very first thing we lose when we are lied to, betrayed, duped, and defrauded for our love is the will to love regardless of our experiences. Yet, if we learn anything from the author of this letter and from the Scriptures is how God loved us when we as God’s people failed to love God by doing our own things. By having our God as love--the steadfast love that endures forever--is to live in the world of vipers as innocent doves without judging others. “God is love” is our very motto that shapes us to see Christ in others, yes seeing Christ even in the ones that the world pegs as the worst human beings, so that all may come to know this God who is love. We are called to share this God who is love by loving brothers and sisters in our world. Living with this God, while loving God and humanity who is made up of our brothers and sisters in Christ, is truly the new way of being as the Easter people.

Prayer:



O God,
We have been blessed throughout our lives. You have heard our prayers. Without fail, you have steadfastly loved us even when we were not faithful to you. So we come in humility knowing that, though our wrongs are unforgivable, you have forgiven us in Christ Jesus your Son our Lord. In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for Judy, your servant, who has done her best and now is starting a new chapter of her life. Be with her as she moves into this new territory of spiritual life. Lead her as you have always led her. Give her health and strength to serve you continually in this new stage of her life. Open your ears to her pleas whenever she prays.

We pray for many members who have been struggling with cancer. In this late stage of their lives, they wonder what it would be like as they approach the resurrection life. Doctors have told them that there is little that can be done for them. As they are being cared for, walk with them, O God. May they know that as they walk through the shadow of the valley of death, you are with them.

We also pray for their spouses and family. Witnessing this last stage is difficult at the best of times, but even more so in this pandemic time. With many restrictions for visits, those who are in hospital feel alone. Their loved ones feel powerless and guilty for not being able to be at their bedside. Those spouses and family members, though thankful for being able to care for the dying in their homes, are filled with sadness of impending loss. Hear their cries. Know that their tears spring out of love. Give them your presence as they witness their loved ones preparing to enter the life of waiting until the day of the resurrection.

We pray for so many of our neighbours who have been feeling powerless as they face discrimination, marginalization, abuses, and hatred. In this age of anger, so many are on the receiving end of rage for speaking the truth, or reaching out compassion and care. Be with those who speak the truth. Guard those who reach out in times of need.

We lift up our voices for those who are under constant pressures of life. Some are trying to wean off addiction. Some are trying to get out of heavy debts. Some are doing their best to protect and give love to those who are difficult to care for. Some are simply at the end because they cannot find jobs to sustain themselves and their families. Some are tired to a point of despair. Some are doing their best, but they are surrounded by colleagues and friends who have COVID. Be with everyone. May your love fill them with a life of love to know that they are not alone.

May your love and presence be the hope for all who are losing their battles in life. May your hope be the strength by which all who are feeling the pressures of life without end. May your faith in them be the faith for those who have lost everything, especially trust.

All these things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: We are God’s People



Benediction