Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for being a part of today’s worship. This is the 4th Sunday of Lent. As we walk with Christ on the road to Gethsemane, let us think of all that we have been and repent before the Lord all our wrongs.

Thank you for praying for Rick Stokes’ family. The witness to the resurrection worship was held on Friday, March 25. Our Christian love has been extended to the entire family.

Thank you for your prayers for Chand. She is stable and is on the way to recovery. Continue to pray for Sonia and Raj and all their families.

Thank you for keeping Moyra in your prayers. She received news that her sister Gwennyth passed away this week.

Please pray for Lily Bain, Phyllis Banks, Andy Paterson, Doris Race, and Virginia Ward as well as others who are waiting for treatments or continually struggling with illnesses.

We thank Mr. David Cowan for his leadership in music today. We also thank Mr. John Bracewell for helping us worship more meaningfully.

Next Sunday we will start sharing our plans for Palm Sunday, Easter and beyond.

Preparation: More love to thee

Call to Worship (Psalm 32 selected verses)

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Hymn: Praise, I will praise you Lord

Praise/love/serve, I will praise/love/serve you, Lord, with all my heart.
O God, I will tell the wonders of your ways, and glorify your name.
Praise/love/serve, I will praise/love/serve you, Lord, with all my heart,
In you I will find the source of all my joy, Alleluia.


O Lord,
We seek hope. Following your Son’s ways has never been so difficult. Others tell us that they have answers, solutions, mechanisms, and ways to solve problems of our world. Somehow loving as you have loved us escapes their minds. We see no other ways, but your way of the cross. Nurture our hope in you.

As we bring ourselves in this worship and commit again to your Son’s way as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, reveal to us this hope in your Son our Lord in this worship. Give us strength to stay the course of walking with your Son as his followers, always sharing faith, witnessing to your love for the world, and living by laying down our lives for others.

Receive this worship as our commitment to you in all that we do. Be glorified in this worship as we confess our love to you. All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 13:31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’

Hymn: When I survey

Sermon: Lament

In our world, lament is not something we see or hear everyday. It is something that is done in deep sadness. For various cultural reasons, in Canada and many parts of the world, “lament” as expressions of national tragedies are well received. Indeed “Lament” is included in the national and local Remembrance Day services. Lament as a public expression of grief is a shared experience. These public laments are solemn and dignified. Perhaps, this is why we read it with a profound sense of sorrow.

When we read this morning’s passage with the title, “Jesus laments over Jerusalem” or something similar, we immediately assume that Jesus is voicing what many people of Israel carry in their hearts. As we look around and see the world, we see much to cry over. We also imagine that Jesus is lamenting over the world in sin as he does over Jerusalem in this passage. Thinking of this immense love of Jesus for the world does make us pay attention to this passage. We read it not only as something Jesus said over twenty centuries ago, but as something he says today to our world as well.

The reason we are looking at Jesus lamenting is because Gospel Luke sets in these eight chapters starting at Chapter 12, with this subplot that explains why Jesus is going to die on the cross and will be raised from the dead on the third day. Jesus’ lament of Jerusalem is one of those unspoken, yet a very pivotal reason that leads Jesus to his death. Jesus’ deep sorrow regarding the way the leadership of Israel misled their people and the population’s willingness to follow these false leaders helps us to put all the puzzle pieces together as we find out why Jesus had to die.

Gospels Luke and Matthew share two verses which are identical, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Gospel Luke, however, sets these two verses up with Herod’s desire to kill Jesus as well as Jesus’ speech that prophets are to be perished at Jerusalem.

Looking closely, Gospel Luke is quite unique in terms of revealing Herod’s desire. In other Gospels, Herod plays no role in Jesus’ death. Ultimately, priests and Pilate are held responsible for executing Jesus in all Gospels, including Gospel Luke, but only in Luke we see Herod’s desire to kill Jesus. Yes, here, it is noted very clearly. In a way, Luke’s indictment is that all political leaders are culpable for Jesus’ death on the cross. Herod is the symbol of leadership in Israel. By pointing to leadership, Gospel Luke does not excuse the people of Israel. The implication is that the culpability belongs to all Israel since all people follow their leaders. The lament, then, is addressed to the entire populace, not just leaders.

Why is Gospel Luke tying the entire population with the responsibility of Jesus’ death? Luke has a different intention when it comes to sharing the good news of Jesus. Unlike other gospels, Gospel Luke is only the first part of a two part story of God’s good news being shared with the world. The story begins in Palestine with Jesus in Gospel Luke and ends in Rome with Paul in the Book of Acts. In this first part, not only Gospel Luke lays out how the good news of Jesus Christ began, but the writer lays groundwork to show that the good news of God in Jesus Christ moving away from Jerusalem to the greater parts of the world. This goal is very different from the other three Gospels on sharing who Jesus is. Gospel Luke posits that the rejection of Jesus by the entire population of Israel is the reason that God’s salvation history in and through Jesus is no longer focused on Jerusalem, Judea, and Palestine. The very centre, the city of David, is the place where Jesus goes to be rejected and be killed. Due to this violent opposition to God’s way of redemption, the God of Israel chooses to focus on the gentiles, not on the Jews.

Yet, Gospel Luke seems to offer a sense of hope for the Jews at the same time. This is done in a way that we see many different people in Israel supporting or helping Jesus quietly. Here, we see that some Pharisees come to tell Jesus to give warning that Herod is trying to kill him. In Matthew Jesus condemns the Pharisees with “woe to the Pharisees” speech just before it records verse 34 and 35. Here, some Pharisees are concerned about Jesus’ safety and bring warning. These interactions with Pharisees make us wonder what the reality on the ground between Jesus and Pharisees was. Definitely Jesus confronts them as a group. We already discussed how Jesus was continuously confronting the Pharisees and leaders as well as warning people about the yeast of Pharisees. Without question Pharisees challenge Jesus. We also figure that many leaders in the Temple are Pharisees. But like any other groups of people, it appears that Pharisees are divided among themselves when it comes to their views of Jesus. Not every Pharisee was hostile against Jesus and his message. There are some who welcome Jesus to their homes. It will also become clear in the Book of Acts that many who become the followers of Christ will be Pharisees including Paul. In other words, all Jews can follow Christ. Like us, not all Pharisees are to be considered bad, according to this Gospel.

In this context, to say that Jerusalem is the very epitome of the rejection of God of Israel by the people of Israel requires some serious thinking. To begin with Jerusalem was considered not only the centre of Jewish life, but also the very promise of God fulfilled. For the people of Israel, the existence of Jerusalem and Jerusalem as the seat of God’s Temple were the validation as well as vindication of their faith in God who brought them out of slavery.

Everything about Israel and the people’s understanding not only of their own identity but also their understanding about God was tied to Jerusalem being the holy city. Again we need to emphasise that Jerusalem was the symbol of God’s promise fulfilled. The Temple in Jerusalem signified for the Jews of Jesus’ time that God was with them still. Therefore, to say that Jerusalem as the political, social, cultural, and spiritual centre was betraying God and everything that was being done in Jerusalem was the evidence showing the rejection of God really attacks the very foundations of Israel and the faith of her people at that time.

This is why Gospel Luke’s presentation of Jesus as the Son of God who is rejected in Jerusalem–not just rejected, but killed–is so out of regular thoughts of those who put their faith in the God of Israel. As it was mentioned earlier, the entire project of Gospel Luke and the Book of Acts is to present the notion that God has left Jerusalem and has been moving into the gentile world altogether. That is, God who called Jews to be God’s own people has been revealing God-self through Jesus to those who are not of the original twelve tribes. This is not only a heretical proposition, but also an unfaithful interpretation of who they are as God’s own chosen people according to the leaders in Jerusalem.

Jesus, however, is not rejecting Jerusalem altogether as we might think. Neither is Gospel Luke permanently discounting Jerusalem as the city that will not participate in God’s salvation history any longer. If we pay close attention to the passage, we see it clearly. At the very last part of today’s passage we hear Jesus say, “And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus will eventually return. The gospel that is moving away from Jerusalem into the gentile world will return back to Jerusalem when God’s people in Jerusalem will come to bless Jesus as the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

There is deep sadness, sorrow, and grief being expressed by Jesus here when he says, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you.” When Jerusalem– leaders and its people–kills prophets and stones those who were sent to it, God leaves Jerusalem. Though in fulfilling the promise to Abraham, God’s intention had always been to protect, nurture, strengthen, and grow the nation of Israel up until this pivotal moment, according to Jesus in Gospel Luke, God is now leaving everything to the people of Israel and will not return until Jesus is received as the one who comes in the name of the Lord. In a way, Jesus is saying that God through him is giving up on the people of Israel until Jesus is welcomed as the one from God to redeem them. Leaving the ones whom God loved so long is sad and sorrowful. Jesus expresses this deep grief.

At this point, let us veer away for a minute to address what we learn from this very passage. We are facing a somewhat parallel situation today. People, even the ones who have been baptised in the name of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are resembling those leaders and people of Israel to whom Jesus came in the name of the Lord. Each year we see less and less people who are willing to be part of those who walk with Christ as God’s people. In this highly developed and prosperous world, we, too, reject God and refrain from loving one another as Christ has loved us. We have become more comfortable with the world of our own making than the world where God reigns.

This rejection of God and Christ means as the body of Christ we are also to be on the move. In our case, we free ourselves from being tied to those who reject God’s call in Christ to those who will welcome God’s call in and through Christ. We let the Spirit lead us to the gentiles who are eagerly waiting for God’s Word to come to them. We leave the comforts of our own people in search of those who will welcome us as the body of Christ. In order to go to the gentiles, in deep sorrow, we, like Jesus, ought to let our Jerusalem be as we move on.

For us, our Jerusalem is our way of being the church as we have known it–be it cultural, social, intellectual, and psychological–must be left behind. In a way the challenge we face is denying ourselves and picking up our crosses to follow Christ: dying to ourselves in order to live to the Lord. The two hundred and twenty years of history has shown us how God has been with us. It also shows us how our way of being has become a hindrance for many to receive God in Christ. If we are to learn anything from Gospel Luke, it is that when our Jerusalem becomes the obstacle to receiving Christ, it is time to see how God’s salvation moves away to those who are outside all too willing to receive it gladly.

In this passage, as we experience how in agony Jesus is to leave the beloved people of God to whom he was sent, we, too, see that in our own world our moment is here for us to leave those to whom we are sent in order to share the good news of salvation with all, with a proviso that when these beloved people are ready to receive us back as the body of Christ, we shall surely return.

Gospel Luke makes it clear in these chapters that Jesus is revealing to the world how Jerusalem’s rejection leads the Gospel of Jesus Christ to move away from Jerusalem into the gentile world until Jerusalem welcomes him back saying, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yes, leaving the people whom God loves so dearly is profoundly painful and sad for Jesus, and by default, for God as well.


Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for being a part of today’s worship. This is the 4th Sunday of Lent. As we walk with Christ on the road to Gethsemane, let us think of all that we have been and repent before the Lord all our wrongs.

O God,
We pray for our world. Rulers and leaders are finding ways to lead us into wars. Their supporters are fueling the calls for wars. In the meantime, the poor, the hungry, the weak, and the meek are worse off today than yesterday. These neglected peoples of our world suffer even more as more and more resources are being diverted to the destruction of humanity and your creation. Give us clear eyes to see your will in this murky world of war and war mongering. Reveal us to the world as witnesses of your reign where peace and justice bring true flourishing of humanity and all your creation.

We pray for your people around the world. When emotions of war run high, your people take side, forgetting their responsibility to love others, including their enemies. Like everyone else, they, too, eagerly engage in talks of war and in self-righteous speeches condemning the other side. Keep us away from these foolish acts of condemnation and counter- condemnation. Shape us as your servants who, as the living body of your Son, proclaim peace and goodwill toward the entire living things.


We pray for your church. Somewhere along in our long history, we have veered away from your good news of salvation. We have used your Word to colonise, dominate, imprison, and subjugate others. Many of us in the church are still using your Word as a weapon to divide, forgetting that your Word unites us in spite of our differences. In the eyes of the world the church has become nothing more than an institution that is only concerned for its own survival. Indeed, many in the church are preoccupied only with its institutional survival, rather than the flourishing of all your people and creation. By the Holy Spirit, help us to open our eyes to see who we have become and how we are unable to fulfil your call to love the world. Propel us as your servants into this world to bring hope and love so that many will experience your good news in Christ.

We pray for your people. We pray for Rick’s family. His death has brought grief to them. Give them the understanding of the resurrection life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We pray for Chand, Raj’s sister. Be with her and all her loved ones as she continues to recover. May your healing hand be with her and all her family each day. We pray for Moyra as she grieves over her sister’s death. Continue to keep her in your care. We pray for all members of this church who are struggling with health and other issues. Be with them all.

We pray for your church. Give us wisdom to discern and courage to follow your will. Help us see the way of love, compassion, mercy, and glory. Guard us from our pride and self- knowledge. Protect us from our certainties without wisdom and humbleness. Open our ears to hear not only your Word, but also words of those who suffer, cry, and despair.

All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Mission Moment

In Nepal, Pallu Oli knew something wasn’t right when he felt a burning sensation on his leg. After seeing the doctor, Pallu was prescribed medicine but did not feel better after taking it. As his health worsened, Pallu wondered why he hadn’t healed yet. His son suggested that he visit the Shining Hospital. At the hospital, Pallu was diagnosed with leprosy and entered a treatment program (which he has since completed). Sharing his experience, Pallu expressed, “I am very happy that my disease is diagnosed and is treated accordingly.” The Shining Hospital is supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development.


O Lord,
We give you thanks. In our abundance we continually find your grace and mercy. We offer to you in this worship all that we are, committing once again our future into your hand. Help us to be free in faith to share all that you have blessed us with in our lives freely and unconditionally. Grow us by revealing to us ways of thanksgiving and gratitude. Send us into the world as ones who represent your unreserved grace, mercy, and love. All these and more we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn Blessed are they