Thank you for worshipping with us.
This is a joyful day. Let us worship God and enjoy God.
Cinnamon Bun Tuesday
We thank everyone for making Cinnamon Bun Tuesday a very enjoyable fellowship. If you have thoughts about how to make it better please let us know. Our hope is to open this café to everyone in the community in June.
The first try of tea tasting will take place on Thursday, May 26 at 1:30 pm. How we will do this as something very special will be unveiled near the time of opening.
Elders will meet on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30 pm. The agenda will include our summer programming.
Healing and Reconciliation
During Lent, we asked you to participate in God’s mission by prayerfully giving to the Indigenous Ministries within our church. You have responded with $1345.00. We also collected $2150 for missions in 2021. So Betty-Ann sent $3,500 by combining the two mission monies for the indigenous ministries.
Preparation: Create in me a clean heart
Call to Worship (Psalm 148)
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Praise him, sun and moon;
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
Hymn: God is love
All loving God,
Come and be present with us. We gather together before you in your Son’s name to worship you. Through this worship we offer you our love in response to your love for us.
On this day, as we come to hear your Word, sing praises to you, and lift up our prayers, our hearts are filled with joy. As we prostrate before you, our minds are filled with your great works. As we bow down before you, our beings are open to your Holy Spirit.
Receive this worship. Be glorified. Accept our blessings.
All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 9:46-48
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
Sermon: Being Christ’s followers
Like our politicians in election time, Jesus’ disciples are squabbling over who is the greatest. After all, it appears that each disciple seemed to have a personal reason to follow Jesus. As any group of people, there are visible and invisible hierarchies that determine who the top leader is and who are on the bottom rung of the ladder. These disciples have no problem realising that Jesus is at the top. Now they are arguing over who is next on the line of authority. Just like the pundits speculating over who will succeed the queen and why Prince Charles may not be suitable to be their king, these disciples are animated over the order of authority among them.
The pecking order in the world, including the world of these disciples, determines who gets to be received as honoured guest and is given corresponding reception. Those who are the greatest get the best welcome. The least are given the worst welcome. This mindset is universal in the human world throughout history. It was not unique in the time of Jesus alone. This was why when Oprah Winfrey visited a shop in Switzerland, seeing a black woman, a worker in that high end shop told Oprah point blank that she could not afford the very expensive handbag. In the employee’s eyes a black woman’s pecking over was beneath customers of different skin colours. That is, everyone in the world makes in her mind, very unconsciously, how each person is to be welcomed into her presence.
Naturally, the disciples were very much in the same mindset, thinking that higher the one’s place in order of discipleship, the better welcome he would receive. Throughout the ministry Jesus was fighting against this way of establishing one’s place in any human relationship. From the very beginning, when he announced that the kingdom of God was near, he began teaching, living, and demonstrating how everything was so different once God’s reign would be established in the world. The good news Jesus was preaching–the kingdom of God is at hand–had everything to do with God being seen and understood as one who was not the ruler like any earthly emperor, but the one who, like a loving parent, loved and cared deeply for the people whom God created. In this sense, God was the creator who loved in ways that the creation would flourish.
But we need to be extremely careful in reading and understanding this passage. To teach his disciples how wrong their understanding is, Jesus makes a point that is entirely beyond their understanding of pecking order. Jesus, instead of telling them how wrong they were and why they should not think in terms of power rankings, simply points to a child and says, “whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me.” Of course this is only the first part of what Jesus said. At this time, it is important to meditate on this section before we move onto the next part.
The disciples are fighting over who among them were the greatest. This is the very human temptation. Who is the most powerful among us? We need to know. Who is the greatest so that we can look up? Who is the model for us to follow apart from Jesus? Jesus knows what they are really fighting for. This passage tells us Jesus was “aware of their inner thoughts.” Like a wolfpack, a lion pride, or most animals who are in groups, human beings self-select leaders and confer authority. Certain qualities like strengths, wisdom, and intelligence determine who will have the most authority. Jesus knew what the disciples were fighting for. Instead of demeaning them, Jesus presents to them an alternative or the way that life is when God is the ruler. Without berating them for their stupidity, Jesus simply demonstrates God’s way of order.
The disciples knew and had no trouble knowing Jesus was the greatest among them. They were arguing to see who would be the next greatest after Jesus. “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me,” he said. With this way of shifting the discussion, Jesus tells each one that authority is not about ruling over others, but all about welcoming others into their spaces. Human authority and power are not about being able to put oneself above others. They are about the humility to receive even those whom they perceive as not worthy, powerless, and weak. Welcoming in this case is more than allowing those whom we care little about to be in our presence. It is extending the same welcome Jesus offers to all God’s people including children whom they would not consider worthy of receiving their full hospitality.
The key in this first part of the statement is, “welcomes this child in my name.” Each person has authority and power to welcome anyone and everyone. Even the strongest among us or the weakest among us is able to welcome anyone one wishes, including the least among them. The most crucial part is to welcome someone in Jesus’ name. This is something we do not think about. In today’s world, it is so easy for us to do everything on our own. We do not think about doing anything on anyone else’s behalf. Think for a moment. If we are to do things on others’ behalf, our attitudes change. Especially if we are doing something on behalf of our superiors, we are that much more careful, putting far more effort. When Jesus tells his disciples to welcome a child in his name, they are to take great care to do as if Jesus is welcoming the child.
Welcoming a child in Jesus’ name means for the disciples to figure out the way of Jesus’ love for the child and receive the child accordingly. This is why it takes a great deal of humility to welcome a child who was considered to be less important than any adult. In a pecking order, a child is at the very bottom. This is why Jesus chose a child to explain a way under God’s rule. It is totally unexpected. In this sense, welcoming the least among them in Jesus’ name is very much the same thing as welcoming Jesus. Here Jesus helps the disciples to make a mental leap to say that by welcoming the least, the weakest, the poorest, and the most outcast in Jesus’ name is the same thing as welcoming Jesus himself.
Putting that child before the disciples was not simply to help them open their eyes to the fact that they are to welcome even the least in Jesus’ name, but also that when the least among them is welcomed, Jesus is welcomed. This is very similar to what we read in Matthew 25:40. Remember the scene of the judgement? “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” In other words, in welcoming, one humiliates oneself, even to the least, and extends Christ’s hospitality (not mine, but Christ’s) and when we receive the least among us, we receive Jesus himself because the least is also Jesus’ flock.
Jesus does not stop there. He goes farther and says, “whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.” There is an unbroken continuum from the least among us all the way to God. Jesus emphasises that welcoming the least among us in his name is to welcome him and welcoming him is the way to welcome God who sent him into the world. This is why our task of extending welcome is all about welcoming God in total humility. Humbling ourselves, rather than fighting over who among us is the greatest and trying to figure out where one belongs in the pecking order, is the way to experience God’s rule that extends to us. This is why being the greatest to be served by others, though it is the way of this world, is not the way of God’s kingdom. In God’s kingdom, God is welcomed when Jesus is welcomed. Jesus is welcomed when the least among us are welcomed, not in our name, but in Jesus’ name.
In this simple equation, Jesus is able to teach his disciples, who were busy fighting over who among them were the greatest, about what it means to be God’s servants, who were called through Jesus. In this way, Jesus points to the fact that the least among them are the greatest. After all, welcoming the least in Jesus’ name leads to welcoming of God. It is through this simple welcome of the poorest, the weakest, the hungry, and the least in Jesus’ name that opens the way to welcome God.
Our way of continuing here as God’s people, called through Jesus, is to live the life where instead of arguing over who among us is the greatest, the least among us are welcomed in Jesus’ name. That is, by extension of this teaching, all are welcomed in Jesus’ name.
O God of grace,
We are your people, formed by your grace, shaped by your mercy, recreated by your love. In your Son’s name we pray to you.
As your people, living in this sin filled world, we bring our troubles. Though as the Prince of Peace your Son brought us into your presence where the true peace among all people could be found, we come as sinners without peace. Wars are relentlessly raging as we take sides. Though we pray for victims in Ukraine who no longer enjoy peace, many of us take sides, insisting that justice means more fighting until those who are evil in our eyes are wiped out. Instead of living out the love that taught us to love all including the enemies, we often engage in behaviours that force wars to continue. O Lord, forgive us. Make us turn to your Son. Help us to be the bearers of your peace. In your love, may we live in ways that your way of peace becomes the way of our world.
As your people, breathing in the greed and self-righteousness of this world, we ask you to give us courage to repent. We are obsessed with our own well beings. As we focus on making ourselves look good to others and well received by others, we neglect you among us. In our attempts to get ahead in our own world with riches and wealth, we forget to see you among us as the poor, the hungry, the broken, and the lost. Forgive us. Fill our eyes with your Spirit so that we may see you and welcome those who are poor, hungry, the broken and the lost.
As we age and continue to experience declining health, as we see ourselves in an unending loop of appointments, we easily forget you and all the blessings you have given us each day. We become so concerned about our own health, we are unable to feel the pains and anguishes of those who are worse off than us. Lift our eyes away from our own personal needs. Make us see those who struggle mightily to survive each day in pain and suffering. Help us to be your presence to them.
We do our best to follow you. We also do our utmost in living the life in faith with hope, always loving. To this end, we continue to work in your ministries. Help us with your patience, kindness, gentleness, perseverance, and fortitude. Give us courage to live the life of trust by committing our lives in your hands constantly. Embolden us to deny ourselves in ways that others may experience your love in ways that we take up our crosses and follow you.
All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.
Please do not forget to give generously so that we may continue to carry out Christ’s ministry here in this part of God’s vineyard.
Always in gratitude, for all that you have done for us in loving through your Son our Lord, we bring our love, wrapped in these small symbols of offering. Receive them as our outward expressions of love for you. Use them in ways that this world may come to know your love without fail.
We pray in the name of your Son our Lord. Amen.
Hymn: Blessed are they