Sun June 13, Traditional


Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for continually worshipping God with us in this difficult time.

This week the 146th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada met. Some important decisions were made. We have updated you through emails with some important decisions. If you like to know what they are please check our website: https://drummondhill.ca/gaupdate.

As we have been announcing, we will resume our in-person worship services starting on Sunday, July 4th at 10 am. We will continue to abide by the restrictions from the health department. Please pray that everyone will stay safe.

We are also preparing for Wednesday evening in person worship services at 6:30 pm in July.

We will continue to have our services available online as we begin our in-person services. Please continue to check for worship services online.

We are very thankful for your support. May God continue to focus you in Christ’s ministry.

Our thanks to those who have been volunteering for Saturday Lunch Takeouts. Please encourage them through your prayers. They have been in the church kitchen every week to prepare the meals.

We will soon be starting our Presbyterians Sharing fundraising by making soups. We will let you know when the soups will be available.

Preparation Hymn: I Look to the Shepherd



Call to Worship:

The church is Christ together with his people called both to worship and to serve him in all of life. It is one family under God whose purpose it is to unite all people in Jesus Christ. Today we stand before God together as one people proclaiming and witnessing God’s grace in this world through this public worship. Let us come and worship God as one people in Christ!

Hymn: Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah


Prayer:

It is good to be here, today, Lord!
It is good to praise your Holy Name!
Hear our praises! Hear our prayers! Hear our cries!
In your grace and mercy speak to us in this worship through your Word so that we may be filled with the Spirit that you send to us.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Offering: Here I am Lord


Offering Prayer:
O Lord,
We bring you our offering with glad hearts. Your grace has opened our eyes, minds and hearts. We see your presence in this world and how you enable us to participate in your ministry. Receive these our offerings and give us wisdom to use them to bring your good news to many in our midst. Use us as your hands in this world in loving those who need you most. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Mark 10:17-23

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

This is the Word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Go and sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

A few typical things can be noticed in this simple command. First thing is to go. The second is to sell what one owns. The third is to give the money to the poor. The fourth is to have treasure in heaven. And finally the command is to follow Jesus.

Our conversation begins with the exchange between Jesus and this man who came and knelt before Jesus. Much can be said about this encounter. We will focus on the fact that very quickly we find out that this man is very sincere and wants to know his life long question of how to inherit eternal life. Obviously this is a very important question for him. He knows there is eternal life for the people of Israel, but he knows that it will not be enough for him to simply be an Israelite. Unlike most ordinary youth, this person was judicious and diligent in keeping the law. It is obvious that from a very young age he has been concerned about eternal life. He was devout, law observing, and decent. He would have made an excellent Presbyterian any day. So he comes searching for the ultimate answer to his life question. He wants more than ordinary answers. He really really wants to know.

First Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. In this conversation, keeping the commandments turns out to be less than adequate. The man seems to know that keeping the commandments alone will not get him the eternal life. What do Jesus and this man know about eternal life that we don’t? Why does he say that he has been keeping up with doing all the commandments as if he knew that was not enough? Why does Jesus tell him that still one thing is lacking? What does this mean when Jesus agrees with him about doing more than keeping the commandments?

Indeed, the Gospels are very clear: keeping all the commandments is not a sure guarantee that anyone will inherit eternal life. Enjoying God’s presence requires more. As Easter people, those who believe in the resurrected Christ, we know that participating in eternal life requires following Jesus to the full. Indeed that is what these Gospels set up for their readers.

First, though, Jesus tells him to go. Yes, the very first thing Jesus does is to let him go. He does not make this man stay or welcome him to his circle right away. He sends back this man who is searching as if to test him. By going, Jesus meant that he should go back to his life, to where he came from, the very orderly and wonderful life he enjoyed. Yet, that was the life where he was missing something that made him come to Jesus. Now Jesus sends him back with a purpose.

After returning back home, he is to sell what he owns. He is to get rid of everything he owns. Did he have a business, a house, some properties? He needs to take stock of all his possessions. Then, he is to sell them all. The act of gathering and selling everything he owns makes him take a true view of himself. He is to figure out what he values first. Can he see himself as the rich man that he is, living in comfort or the rich man who is willing to give up everything. This is similar to what we do today when we write our will. We list everything in order to figure out what we will do with each item.

Selling also requires valuing by putting a price tag on each item. It is a simple way to see how one values one’s possessions compared to how others value what one owns. A friend of mine was holding a garage sale one day. For a tool he bought for $200 he put a reasonable price of $30. He thought it was very reasonable. A quite a sober moment. His estimate did not matter. A person who wanted to buy it offered him $5. On the other hand, in today’s market, we see how many people are buying houses at prices far more expensive than these houses were listed for. Selling quickly opens our eyes to the reality of the wealth we possess. At this stage, however, Jesus seems to be less interested in the actual value of this man’s possessions. The next sentence tells us this.

This man who was seeking an answer to his question of inheriting eternal life is now being told by Jesus to give whatever he received in selling to the poor. This instruction implies that inheriting eternal life comes with a risk of choosing to put behind the worldly way of being. Jesus puts giving money to the poor as having treasure in heaven. This is a very different understanding than how we understand the benefits or reasons of charitable giving today. It is hard to know what Jesus means by and why giving to the poor equates to having treasure in heaven. What is clear is that by giving to the poor, this rich man will become without any possessions he enjoyed. By giving to the poor all the money that represents his wealth, he cuts himself off from the life he knew. He also will not be able to return to the lifestyle he enjoyed. By doing so, he is totally freed from being part of the world as he knows it.

Does he want eternal life at all cost or at some, but not at all cost? How much will he give up in order to get eternal life? We said earlier that he was a good Jew who did all the things the world required of him. He kept all the commandments and followed all the rules of being a good Jew. Can he give all these up, both wealth and spiritual practice for the eternal life he seeks?

Inheriting eternal life is expressed by Jesus as entering into the life of self-denial and following Jesus. As stated elsewhere in the Gospels, denying oneself, picking up one’s cross and following is the life of living in this ever elusive eternal life. The challenge for this rich man is to give up all that he had, not only in wealth, but also in ways that he thinks about the world. We are told that the man went away sad. He could not contemplate life without his possessions. He owned too much. He is unwilling to let go of the world in which he enjoyed the benefits of his riches. Whether following Jesus was a hindering factor or not, we shall never know. We do not get that far. We simply are told that the man went away without eternal life because he was unwilling to part with his riches.

For many of us, giving up everything is unimaginable. We do not know what life will be like if we are on streets with no places to go. Jesus’ command to this man is this stark in reality. I have been pondering about this command of Jesus due to many Christians who no longer think much about eternal life. They, like their friends in the world, are quite comfortable thinking about this life. These Christians, like this man we see, are very devout, good in keeping the command to love God and neighbours, and do their best to please God in life by studying the Bible as God’s Word. Unlike this man, however, they are neither fearful nor concerned about death because eternal life is not on their radar. They have full faith in God.

Does this lack of interest in eternal life mean, then, that they, too, lack one thing just like this man? It would be wonderful to say that these Christians indeed do lack one thing. It would give us a cause to criticize Christians who have been keeping God’s command to love as well as study God’s Word, etc. The reality is far more complicated. The Church throughout history always was very vague and ambiguous on this point for a good reason. It is because who inherits eternal life is God’s decision. Ours is to be faithful in all of life and live life our Lord commanded us to. In this sense, for most of us, living without being concerned for eternal life is not due to the one thing that we lack, but because we have completely given our lives to God through Christ in the first place. Our daily living is the following of Christ. In this faith, our wealth is not ours, but God’s to be used for God’s glory. In following Christ, those who have no concern for eternal life are already living in eternal life that began in our baptism. So the riches are not used or amassed for our own comfort, privilege, and well being, but are without fail used for God’s ministry here and now.

Sometimes, because of our personal guilt, we do feel as if we are like this man and not like great saints of the Church who gave all their wealth to the poor and began their lives in Christ. Our guilt compounds when we compare what we offer God in comparison to these saints who either walked away from or gave all their possessions to the poor. We do even celebrate these saints and remember them on certain saints’ days. But comparing to see whether we measure up always ends up making us feel inadequate and part of sinful people. We can always find something else that we are failing on. Being mired in this guilt, however, does not help us to see that this demand by Jesus is given to the one who is living in his own world, not in Christ. He desires eternal life. He wants to own it and possess it. By this very fact he misunderstood God’s grace.

Eternal life is enjoyed in God’s presence through Christ. When we walk with Christ daily through loving God and neighbours, studying God’s Word, doing our best to glorify and enjoy God, we come to realize the gift of eternal life in which we are, in spite of our failings. This understanding makes us humble. In humility, then, we receive this gracious gift of eternal life through Christ and humbly share it with those around us as we glorify and enjoy God. There is no pride, arrogance, hubris, and contempt against those who do not yet enjoy it. At best, we humbly share with others where the source of this life is as our Living Faith borrows from a parable in which a beggar tells another where the source of her food is. Of course, in this life we have already denied ourselves, taken up our crosses, and been following Christ.

Sadly, this man in this passage is unable to choose life with Christ. We are able to appreciate Jesus’ sadness because we, too, are often in similar situations and make choices to keep wealth rather than put behind our world of comfort and peace. Yet, a difference, if we can press to find it, is present in our confessions where we note our wrongs and in our sincere repentance leading to the ways of reconciliation. Those of us, who are already living this eternal life that this man seeks due to our baptisms in the name of the Triune God, are not perfect, but are grateful for God’s grace of forgiveness, God’s salvation through Jesus, God’s continual reconciliation of including us in eternal life through the death and resurrection of our Lord, become more courageous each day because we are already in eternal life, putting behind us the life of this world.

This is why we love singing and experiencing God’s grace in hymns like “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my Shield and Portion be, As long as life endures.

What thanks I owe you, and what love, --a boundless, endless store-- shall echo through the realms above when time shall be no more.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.

Prayer

This week Canada was shocked with the tragic news of a Muslim family being run down by a truck. We were horrified to witness such a terrible and evil act happening in one of our cities. We pray that you will be with the only son who is recovering in the London Hospital, and with all those who grieve the deaths of our neighbours. As we come together to lift up our voices, be with all those who live in Canada and are fearing because they worship you in different ways than we do. Be present with all those who hold hate filled hearts against their neighbours for being different.

We pray for all Canadians who are seeking justice and peace. We pray for all of us who are trying to build a world in which everyone can flourish. We pray for all who are unable to pray for themselves. We pray for all those who are in hospitals and are working in hospitals. We pray for all those who are at home trying to be healed.

We thank you for guiding our General Assembly to make decisions. Some of us are very unhappy. Some are very relieved. Help us to be gracious and gentle with each other as we, all Presbyterians in Canada, work together to find your way.

We pray for ourselves. Many of us are getting mired in sadness as we watch killings and displays of hatred. We feel powerless as we witness. Help us to find your hope. Guide us to share your love with one another and neighbours near and far not only through prayer, but also through small acts of sharing your love. Be with us in ways that your life may shine through us in this dark time.

Most of all receive our love for you and for one another as our gift to you. Give us strength to continue loving no matter how difficult it gets. Open our eyes to ways of your Son’s love. In faith may we follow your Son’s example of establishing your reign. Protect us from the ways of this world and empower us to follow your Son’s way in the Holy Spirit.

Receive our prayer, said and unsaid, as we pray in the name of your Son our Lord. Amen.

Hymn: This is my Father’s world


Benediction