Sunday, June 20 Tr


Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for taking the time to worship with us. We thank God for your love for God and for one another. Your participation in this worship service is the confession and proclamation of God's presence in this troubled world.

Please share the hope in Christ with your neighbours and those who belong to Drummond Hill. It is important to continually be vigilant as we move into this first stage of opening.

We will begin our in-person worship services in July. The first service on Sunday, July 4th, will be exciting in that it will be the first time we will be together since Easter Sunday outdoor service. Please, prepare your hearts and join us for worship. Yes, we will sing, share readings of Scriptures and rejoice together. Remember in July and August our Sunday worship service will begin at 10 am.

On Wednesday evenings in July and August, there will be another service at 6:30 pm. It will be very informal, yet, uplifting and joy filled. Please, take advantage of our summer weather. Come and join us for this time of refreshment.

Our mission continues. We are continually reaching out with our Saturday lunches. We are also planning to prepare soups for sale. The proceeds from soup sales will go to Presbyterians Sharing to help with ministries in various parts of Canada.

Continue to pray for your church as we move forward. Remember those who need your prayers. Currently, the ones we are praying for God’s care are Hugh and Judy, Wayne and Eva, Robert and Virginia, and Doris. If you have names of those who require our prayers, please let us know.

Hymn: Will your Anchor Hold



Call to Worship

The church is the family of God. Here all are valued for themselves. Together we rejoice, support, celebrate and praise. Come and Worship God as a member of God’s family.\

Hymn: He Leadeth Me



Prayer:

Come to us, O Lord, and be among us. By the Holy Spirit, turn this hour from ordinary time into a time of holiness. Bestow upon us grace and mercy that we may sing your praises. Give wisdom to those who are present so that all may proclaim your goodness to all their neighbours. Most of all, be glorified by all that we do in this worship service. Amen.

Offering: I come with joy



Offering Prayer:

Thank you, O God, in your blessing, we have thrived. In your presence we have been able to carry out your ministry so that many are able to enjoy your love. As we bring our thanksgiving in these offerings, be pleased. Receive these gifts and be kind unto us as we go into the world to witness and proclaim your Son our Lord as the messiah. Open our hearts and pour in your Spirit to be courageous in our speeches and generous in our hospitality towards others who come to you. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Leader: The word of the Lord!
All: Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Power of Faith

I was surprised to read on a newspaper the other day about people having anxiety concerning the reopening of Ontario. My initial thought was that everyone would be happy to see things turn more or less to normal. Reporters were speaking to a group of restaurant owners who have been jittery about opening because they do not want to suffer another lockdown where they will lose everything, yet again. They have been hurt once too often. They expressed their measured opinions. Some of them are not even sure if they can open again because the ups and downs of this pandemic are too much to deal with emotionally. It has been a tough go for so many people in our world. Fear was in the minds of all who spoke.

Curiously when we require strong faith, most people show little or no faith because living in today’s world they have put faith life behind. They are on their own. It is already a tough go to be alone facing the troubles of the world when things are going well. So we can imagine how difficult it is for all those who have to rely on themselves only as the source of strength for life especially in difficult times. Even those of us who have lived with faith know that life can be tough in times of difficulties. Most Christians, too, wrestle with God in faith when we are faced with insurmountable obstacles in life. At least we pray that God is walking with us through them. For a person without faith, living in these tough times can be life-draining experiences. Facing bankruptcies or financial ruinations alone is scary and overwhelming.

In today’s passage the disciples are sacred for their lives. As the storm rages and the boat they are on tipsyturbies in rough waves, they are filled with fear. No wonder, then, they wake Jesus up to ask, “do you not care that we are perishing?” A very interesting observation indeed. This question from the disciples is very much expected.

Let us look at the situation from the beginning. Jesus and disciples are on a boat. It was a long day. Soon Jesus falls asleep. Things are going okay until the wind begins to blow. Soon they find themselves in a storm. Jesus continues to sleep undisturbed by the storm. The disciples are getting more and more worried. Quickly the storm rages and it becomes too much for the disciples to handle. This storm must have been fierce for the disciples to fear. After all, some of the disciples are fishermen well experienced in such storms. For these hardened fishermen to be worried, the storm is more than a simple gust of wind. After trying to handle things on their own, they wake Jesus.

Something about their question, however, needs to be given time for a thought. The disciples can easily say to Jesus that they are about to die, or that they need to do something to save themselves. The experienced ones among them can offer all kinds of ways to survive. The situation, however, seems to be so dire and hopeless that the only thing they can say is, “do you not care that we are perishing?” The question implies something that we do not expect. They are saying that Jesus has power to rescue them from this perilous situation. “Do you not care…?” indicates that if Jesus cares enough they may not be in this predicament full of fear.

Here is the question for us: if they knew that Jesus had power to rescue them, is that understanding not faith? When they say to Jesus, are they not expressing their faith that Jesus may be able to save them? Obviously, they are still afraid. In fear, however, it appears that they are appealing to Jesus. They are asking why Jesus is letting this storm threaten them. They are desperate to be saved by him and are asking him to see them and have pity on their lives in these terrifying circumstances. Is this not faith?

Upon waking up, Jesus immediately calms the waters. He responds to their request. Their appeal works wonderfully as Jesus rescues them. Their needs are met. Their prayer is heard. Their wish is granted. They can breathe a sigh of relief. The terror of death has passed them by because they awoke Jesus from his sleep. Is this not the way our faith in Christ works? In moments of difficulties we ask Jesus to intervene and deliver us from death’s power. In a way faith is to rely on Christ and having complete trust in Jesus to save us from death. No?

Yet, the questions about fear and lack of faith make us think. Jesus wanted to know why they were fearful of death and still had no faith. Fearing death is not having faith in Jesus’ mind. If faith was strong, then, people would not fear death. Jesus was telling the disciples that putting one’s heart without condition on Christ was to walk and live in eternal life, the life without death. This eternal life did not become clear to the disciples until after his death and resurrection as well as the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. For those disciples like us who live after Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost, faith is all about enjoying life in which death is won over by Christ. Death is no longer the power that makes us focus on fear of dying. Life is all about glorifying and enjoying God in our midst.

Gospel Mark went on through its entire length to point out how the disciples were unable to understand that walking with Jesus was living in the life that was beyond life leading to death. They could not overcome their fear in spite of the fact that they were following and being in his presence every day. It did not occur to them that they were already enjoying God’s kingdom because they gave everything up to follow him. We are very much in a similar position as these disciples. We live in a world where death looms over as the most powerful reality. We are too aware of our mortality, physical decay, and spiritual limitations. We let the power of death overwhelm us because, though we are faithful, we try to be responsible and overcome difficulties we face on our own first. We rely on our own abilities and resources first, just like the disciples in this boat. Only when we are no longer able to save ourselves, we call on Jesus.

More than often, we do not see Jesus rescuing us and responding to our prayers. We are too beat up and exhausted to notice what he does in our lives. In this sense, in fear, though we call on Jesus like the disciples, just like them, we live as if we have no faith. Even those who abandon their entire lives to Jesus are unable to live without fear. We have heard so many Christians who were refusing to get vaccinated because they knew in their hearts that Jesus would save them and because they knew that vaccines were not going to save them. They were too suspicious of the scientists. At the first glance, this act of abandonment appears to us as a display of strong faith. However, this act of refusing to be vaccinated on the account of their trust in God’s ability to protect them from death is more on the side of recklessness than faith. It is reckless because it forces God to prove their desires. There is a difference between putting trust in God and forcing God to demonstrate to the world that one’s faith in God is valid.

There is an argument that saying God will save them is not forcing God, but simply stating God’s promise and that they are more than willing to follow God’s will. That means if they die after contracting COVID virus, their death is God’s will and that they are happy to be with God in eternal life. This view is somewhat negligent in that it divides life into two sections: life before death and life after death. The freedom to act in this way is cautioned by St. Paul, who explained that doing it because we can is not always the right way for Christians. We are to act to bring about ways to glorify God and love one another, not simply exercise freedom in Christ just because we know we are free in Christ. Also we as Christians know that life is not divided up into two very different lives as one before and one after death. Indeed, we confess as Christians that we begin our eternal life in this life at the moment of baptism. Because Jesus won victory over death, death has no power to interrupt our lives in Christ. Our eternal life is not disrupted by death.

What are we to do as Christians in life in facing death? Like the disciples, we call on Christ to save us. We are to call on Christ because Christ is the one by which eternal life comes to us, not because we are fearful. The victory over death is given to us because of faith, not because we fear the power of death and are driven into the safe arms of Christ in fear. On the contrary, our trust, reliance, focus, and commitment in Christ have nothing to do with our fear of death or the power of death under which we struggle. Fear of death accords power to death over our lives. As Christians we ought to know our lives are not under death’s grip, but under God. It is God whom we fear. It is God to whom we approach in fear in the same way all those who encountered God in the Scriptures feared God for their lives. Fearing God is a way of loving God in the same way we fear our loving parents. Fear of God in this case is not a debilitating and maligning force, but a show of respect and reverence to the one who gives life.

To fear death as the disciples in this situation is to display the lack of faith. This is the question that haunted the disciples even after Jesus ascended until the day of Pentecost. Even after the resurrection of Jesus and being fed by Jesus, in the Book of Acts, we see disciples gathering in fear. It is only when the Holy Spirit filled them, they became fearless against death and truly walked in fear of God in the way their Old Testament ancestors did. To fear God became the wisdom in which they could overcome the fear of death and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

From this passage, we learn that in all of life, we walk in fear of God who reaches out in unconditional love while overcoming our fear of death. This is the faith life in and through which we proclaim the good news of Christ to the world. In this fear, we live the life of humbleness and humility refusing to put God to the test in all of life. In loving God and loving one another, we walk in faith fully confident that Christ is our Saviour and Lord, without arrogance and pride in God’s ability to save us from all circumstances and put God in place to prove our faith to the world unnecessarily. Our love honours God especially when we do not make God small and drag God into our small faith using God to demonstrate our own faith superiority over those who are not the followers of Christ.

Prayer

O Lord, our God,
In season or out of season, we come to you because you are our God who has called us into being. As your people, who live joyfully, grateful for all your gifts. We come with prayer of praises and thanksgiving. We live in gratitude each day in spite of our daily challenges because you have been our provider and guide throughout our lives.

Today we come lifting up all those who are struggling financially and spiritually among us. Sometimes, because of the circumstances not of their own making, they have been in dire circumstances. Be with them. Be their hope when they are in despair, Be their guide when they are lost. Be their comfort when they require love and care.

We pray for all your children who are sick and are facing pain and anguish each day. Walk with them. Do not leave them alone even for a minute. Guard and protect them from pain and suffering. If it is your will, give them healing. May they find you whenever they seek you. May you hear their prayers whenever they raise their voices.

We pray for our own people, friends and family members. There are so many who are having difficulty waking up each day. Pain ceases their bodies. Despair stops their hearts from joy. Anguish tempts them into a life of darkness. When medication fails to give them momentary reliefs, may you be there to soothe their bodies. When spirits wane in spite of all their efforts, may you fill them with your Spirit. Instill faith and hope so that they will receive your love and share in your love always.

All these things we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Hymn: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow



Benediction