Sunday, November 1 2020

Welcome and Announcements:


Thank you for being here with us. It is wonderful to worship God together.

Next Sunday, we will begin with Remembrance as we do every year. Everything will take place in the church hall in order to keep everyone safe. We are very thankful to have with us two members, the Rev. Gordon Hastings and Mr. Ron Spencer who served during World War II. There are also a number of members who were part of Canadian Armed Forces.

On Sunday, November 15, during our regular service of worship we will be remembering everyone who has passed away during this past year. Please pray for their families as we prepare for this memorial worship.

On Sunday, November 22, we will remember before and thank God for all those who have suffered through COVID 19 and frontline essential workers. If you have any questions or ideas as to how we could do this service, please let us know.

Please remember your mission work during this time as we continue to provide Saturday lunch takeouts. Your support of those items such as apple sauce, granola bars, wrapped cookies are very much appreciated.

Each year at this time we begin our Mitten Tree project to provide mittens, tuques, gloves, socks and scarves to share with our neighbours. We will be collecting them. Please let Nancy Porritt know if you want someone to come and pick them up. You can also bring them to the church.

We ask you to keep YWCA Shelter in your mind always. We will be collecting single bed sheets, pajamas, socks, underwear for women and children until the first Sunday of December.

Meditative Hymn: Jesus Remember me



Call to Worship:


What a wonderful love God has shown us.
Christ Jesus, who was, is and ever shall be, is the Light of our dark world.
Let us come and worship God!

Hymn: I Know not why such wondrous grace



Prayer:


O Lord,
Permit us to sing of your steadfast love always. Your love has given us life beyond our imagining, keeping us focused on loving you and our neighbours without end. As we come before you, allow us to proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

In this worship, fill us with courage to declare that your love is for all those who seek you and all those who are faithful to you, that your presence is for those who faithfully serve you, that your hope is given to all those who are in despair.
May you be glorified through all our praises today! May our prayers in this worship be heard by you and be answered in ways that your will is done here in our world! In your grace, may our hearts be filled with your love and joy as we delight in your presence with us.

In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Offering: (Anthem: Be Thou my Vision)



Offering Prayer:


In the world of riches, we bring what we can to offer you our hearts, minds and souls. Out of the riches we own, we offer you portions that represent our gratitude to you. May you receive these symbols of our thanksgiving. Bless us to bring your blessings to all neighbours around us. Instill in us the love of sharing, caring, giving and receiving. May we realize and share in through the work of our hands your reign here and now in ways that your love fills the world with life of faith and hope! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:39-43


One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding* him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah?* Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into* your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

One: The Word of the Lord!
All: Thanks be to God!

Sermon: What God’s love is


An incredible scene is unfolding on the Hill of the Skulls, a place of death where people were killed to be made examples of for the control of minds of the population. Anyone who passes by will see the examples displayed and will think twice about committing crimes of any weights, especially the crimes against the ruling empire. Any threat to the power of this ruthless empire was often met with a death penalty. The capital punishments were dispensed in the open. On this hill people were being executed by the side of the well travelled road. Their deaths were supposed to be warnings to others. Everyone who passed by derided, verbally abused, laughed at and spat at those who were dying or dead on crosses.

In Today’s Jerusalem, just outside of the original City of David, as one of the main roads was meandering toward the East,there was the place of execution known as Golgotha. On that strangely remarkable day that changed entire human history, three were hung on crosses. Two were criminals being punished. The third was Jesus who was falsely accused and railroaded to death on the cross by religious and political forces.

One criminal mocked Jesus. He had nothing to lose. He was dying anyway for his crime. He gave up on life. Like many others, he could not careless who Jesus was. Perhaps it was his bitterness and anger that made him ridicule Jesus. The other criminal was different. He knew his guilt. He was fully aware of the price he was paying--he told the other one that they were deserving of this cruel and violent death for having perpetrated the crimes. In humility he turns to Jesus. He grasped onto life. Between the two, he was the one who knew the meaning and cost of life. He appealed to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

“Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This was his prayer. This was his last hope for life expressed in a few words as he hung there dying without any hope in this world. Whatever the circumstances were for him, however the world’s woe converged on him, he had no way to escape from his death. Perhaps he did not have good upbringing, a supportive family, a right condition to prosper. Perhaps his life was a mess because he was misled, abused and was dealt a wrong hand. What we know from the passage is that he was able to see his own guilt or reason and justification of his death. At this point, without hope, his appeal was as simple as he could make it, “remember me.”

“Remember me,” is a deep cry of our souls. It originates from the very essence of who we are as human beings. It is the very first sound that a newborn baby makes. It is an insistence for recognition in every person. To be forgotten is to be lost from the living. When no one remembers, life is diminished to nothingness. When a call is not answered, a cry is not responded, a question is unanswered, a prayer falls on nothingness, life is diminished. When a person is forgotten, is made invisible, is not remembered, there is no love. To plea for remembrance is to ask for love. To request to be remembered is to reach out for life. “Remember me,” is a phrase, the prayer, spoken in order to receive life in love.

To remember is more than giving encouragement, recognizing the existence of another and acknowledging the presence of another in our presence. Remembering is the act of love. In remembering, we express our love for the one being remembered. Remembering is making room in our spirits to share life and be with another. Remembering is the present and eternal work of love.

Being remembered is to come alive, to matter and be real as people with names and faces to those who remember us. It is the invitation to share lives with those who remember us generously. To be remembered is to receive the true gift of love from those who remember.

This is why among all diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most cruel one. It blocks patients from remembering the loved ones to share in life. It forces the patients to stop loving and be loved. Without remembering and being remembered, love simply cannot flourish. One way love is the most difficult love. It is not shared and responded to. Though unconditional in nature without meaningful replies love becomes draining and life taking rather than life giving. In the absence of sharing in life, one sided love struggles to flourish. Pain and anguish of silence from the ones to whom love is given can easily overwhelm those who love unconditionally. Asking to be remembered is to let others know that their love is essential and fundamental. It is an appeal not to forget the life that has meaning and purpose in God’s creation.

One criminal was set for death. He did not seem to care about life. He was about to be executed. It appears to us readers, if his life was ending, he was going to die by cursing the world and God in the process. In that vein he cursed Jesus with whom he had nothing to do with and had no relations with. The other criminal was sad and sorrowful, it seems, as he was hung there and chastising that cursing one. He was not giving up on life. In repentance, he sought life as he was facing death. He was saying to Jesus that though the world had given up on him he was putting his hope in Jesus to be loved. We do not exactly know whether this thief knew anything about whether life after death was possible in Jesus. Only thing we can postulate is that he was aware of who Jesus was. Like all others who came to Jesus he seemed to know instinctively that through Jesus God’s reign/kingdom breaking in. He made one request--he wanted to be remembered by Jesus in Jesus’ own kingdom. In a way this request put Jesus on the spot. Could Jesus love as his own life was about to be extinguished? Could Jesus overcome the bitterness of death to open a new possibility of life for one who was a sinner deserving of death? Could this condemned criminal be loved? What would Jesus gain by loving this despicable sinner?

All societies do their best to forget those whom they considered dangerous or were outcasts. Forgetting was part of punishment for wrongdoing. Names of criminals, whether political, economic or social, would be forgotten and erased as just reward for their behaviours. This act of banishing from humanity continues to be the most severe punishment available. Our society does it by incarcerating the dangerous ones in prisons and erasing them from our lives. To remember, especially to remember as a friend or as ones with whom we build lives together, is to forgive. It is to give new life to ones being remembered after their erasure. It means to love our enemies.

The criminal’s last appeal is to be included in Jesus’ new creation. He was hoping for a new life in the new creation under Jesus.

Without hesitation, Jesus answered, “today, you will be with me in paradise.” That is, Jesus implies, “yes, your sins are forgiven. You are welcome to God’s new creation. You are not abandoned to death forever. God’s love given through my answer is sufficient.” This is the power of being remembered. Being remembered in this way is to be loved unconditionally. This is why remembrance is more than a simple act of caring or of empathy. It is God’s acceptance of one whom the world hides, tries to forget or rejects.

In this pandemic, so many are isolated. Untold numbers of people were dying on hospital beds with the virus. Over 1.2 million people around the world have died so far. In many countries, most bodies were buried in mass graves. Many families were not even notified of their deaths. Part of healing or rebuilding efforts has to include remembering. Not just any remembering but the remembering that includes the ones lying dead so that through Christ’s love they would have new life in God’s kingdom.

Under the pandemic prevention rules, many are struggling alone. Isolated and forgotten, they are trying to figure out how to live by relying on drugs and other chemicals to pass each day. We need to remember them and let them know they are being remembered. It is the powerful way of loving--giving life to those who feel alone and abandoned.

Because of pandemic restrictions, many have lost their livelihoods. Many who are jobless, anxious and in despair make themselves more invisible each day. They are ashamed. They feel like failures for not being able to support themselves and their families. We as the body of Christ need to remember them in the same way Jesus said, “today you will be with me in paradise.” That is, we need to share God’s kingdom in Christ Jesus with them by remembering to include them in our lives.

For Christians, remembering is more than honouring. It is including them in God’s new creation under Christ sharing all God’s blessings. This is the Way. This is the Way that God’s truth in Jesus Christ is revealed. This is how the Light shines on the Way so that all may come to know the Truth.

Prayer


O Lord, in your grace and mercy we come with our prayer. Out of the world of pain, suffering and sorrow, we bring to you concerns, worries and fears. You are our God who listens, leads, protects and provides for all our needs. Hear our prayer.

We lift our voices for all those who are sick. Many are in hospitals. Many others are at home. As they suffer pains, be with them. Give them strength to know that you are the God who heals and restores. Be with their caregivers, their family members and others who are gathered to help them.

We have been hearing many said news including a Christian who was killed by a radical terrorist in her church in France. There are already many evil powers overwhelming our lives at this time in history. May you continue to focus us on Christ and his teaching to be the ones pointing to the Way, the Truth and the Life. Bring comforts and peace to those who lost their loved ones in wars and terrorists’ acts.

We are witnessing how people can hurt each other misusing power and trust they were given by others. On this day, we ask you to guide the leaders of our world in ways to help the people of their nations to flourish in faith, hope and love. We pray especially for our neighbours to the South as they prepare to elect their president and members of congress. May they be given wisdom to see your will and able to elect leaders who will establish your reign where compassion and mercy bring all peoples together.

We pray for those who are homeless, poor, broken and hurt. Be with them all. Through your grace, fill each of them in ways that their hunger will be satisfied, they are offered opportunities to share in your riches, and be made whole from their broken lives and be healed for their hurt. May you establish your reign through all those who are called to be your people, the body of Christ.

We pray for strength, courage and hope for all those who are caring for others. Keep them in your care. Pour your Spirit into them in abundance in order that they may bring your reign sooner rather than later.

Though we lack in faith and hope, we pray with love, O God. May you hear our prayers. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: All The Way My Saviour



Benediction