Welcome (Living Faith 7.3.1)
Introduction of the veterans from WWII
The Rev. Gordon Hastings (Royal Air Force)
Mr. Roland Spencer (Royal Air Force)
In Flanders Fields
Laying of the wreaths
Call to Worship (Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21)
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him;
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
Hymn: Dear Father, Lord of mankind
O Lord God,
Each year we come somberly, recounting the evil of wars that humankinds have unleashed upon themselves time after time with promise never to forget evil in order for life on earth to flourish. Yet, here we are as witnesses to wars and conflicts where lives you have created are lost in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Haiti, and many other places. We feel powerless and weak because the only thing we can do is to turn our eyes and ears from these killing fields.
Yet in remembering we come to you and call on you. You are the God of the living who gives and takes life. You are the very source of life where we are delivered from this world to live the resurrection life in the places of death, shining your light so that all who are despairing may find hope. Be the deliverer of this world once again. As our world leaders get mired in talks of war, may our prayers be for peace.
On this day, as we remember the dead of the past wars, may you remind us once again that you are the God of the living, not of the dead, and that in you is true life free of the powers of death. Help us to worship you and find our place in you. As we worship, may you reshape us as your recreation of the resurrection life. Make us your servants who bring your peace to the world.
All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 20:27-38
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’
Sermon: God of the Living
How do we understand our past? Do we think of it as gone forever? What do we think of the present? Do we think it is here just for a while only to become part of the past? Our imaginations can run wild when it comes to life after death. We know nothing about what it would be to be part of the resurrection life. We can speculate and wonder. Some even argue that we are wasting our time speculating on things we can never know. After all, no one came back from the dead to tell us what life was like. Although once in a while, there are those who try to describe how wonderful life after death is because of what they experienced as they were dying, but somehow got back to life.
Our way of thinking is very straightforward when we talk about the past, present and future. The past is already gone. Nothing we can do now can change anything that happened yesterday. People who lived and died are now no longer part of today. Those who died should be left as part of the past as we continue to live today,no? Future is different, we think. It might change based on what we do today. This is why environmental and justice activists are fighting today for tomorrow. If we can control what we do today, we can affect the future. This is their logic. The argument goes something like this: Consuming less carbons to reduce carbon emissions will slow down global warming and curtail the severity of climate change. The past led to today and our actions for today will have consequences for tomorrow.
Much of Christian teachings also parallel this thinking about the past, present and future. The sins of the past require repentance in the present. Once confessed, repentance is all about doing the right thing today, leading us into the brighter future of eternal life. Relapsing and sinning is not part of the deal. Our life in the present is what leads us into the future. Do things right today by following Christ in all aspects of your life, then you will be with Christ in paradise. The message is, the future life in Christ motivates us to be the followers of Christ today. In this formulation, sins of the past will be wiped out and we are made clean in our repentance as we confess our sins and do our best not to sin again.
In today’s passage, the Sadducees who do not believe in resurrection come to Jesus to trap him with a very simple question. What happens to a woman who marries many times before dying? Following the law, she marries multiple men who are all brothers. If she dies and rises again, whose wife will she be? Of course, this question is very historically and culturally bound. It assumes that the life of a woman belongs to a man. Can the life of a woman belong to many men when in marriage a woman can only belong to one man? Well, today, this question has multiple difficulties, including its assumption that the woman’s life can or does belong to a man. At the same time, this question does not have any problem if a man is to have multiple wives. In those days men were able to marry many women without any consequences.
The Sadducees were not really interested in possibilities of answers on their question. They did not believe in resurrection or life after death anyway. They were solely concerned with the possibility of discrediting Jesus with a clever question. In today’s conversation, our focus is also not on the theoretical aspects of what life might be like in this resurrection state of being. Rather we are focusing on what Jesus says at the end of this interchange, “And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
Jesus’ point is very clear. When everyone speaks about God as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, no one assumes that the God of Abraham means this God is the God of the dead Abraham and therefore this God of the past has anything to do with the people of the present. Rather, God as the living one is God of all the living, not of the dead. The point is, when the people of Israel speak of God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, even though these ancestors were dead a long time ago, they are as alive in God today as the day they were living. This is a hard saying. Logic of theology might suggest that the ancestors were no longer alive. However, Jesus argues that in God they are all in fullness of life. This is what it means to be enjoying the life of resurrection.
In a way Jesus describes the resurrection life not in terms of a linear timeline where the past is gone, the present is now, and the future will come in due course, but in terms of what it means to be part of life where God is the living God. To refer to God as the living God is to acknowledge that in God life is fully present and enjoyed by those whom God confers the resurrection life. In this sense, when we hear the Jews confess God as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, they are professing God who is alive and is according the fullness of life to all those historic individuals who were called and with whom God keeps the covenant.
Does this mean that all those who died and were buried are now alive in the same way Abaraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive in God? This is a very difficult question to answer. In faith, we believe that the resurrection life in Christ Jesus is the promise that will be realized when Jesus returns to bring heaven on earth and will reign over the new creation. In the meantime, we confess that God who sent us Christ is the God of the living and not of the dead. In this sense, we subscribe to what Jesus says here that to speak of the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob is to witness that the Living God who sent us Jesus is the very one who brings the resurrection life to all who believe in the very God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is one with Christ and the Holy Spirit.
To live with our God who is the God of the living people is to realize the immense grace where those who served God in the past are not lost or forgotten forever, but are one in Christ with those who are living now as well as those who are yet to come in this life. This is where we find what it means to serve God and fulfil God’s purpose in each of our lives. Everyone is not simply created as a historical artefact that may be fossilized or subsumed into the natural world. Rather God’s servants are to enjoy life in God's presence in ways that death does not affect the way we understand the limitations of life in the natural world. As part of the animal kingdom humanity can simply accept the fate of life lived between birth and death as all animals and plants do. In faith, however, we find our new life in the form of the resurrection life. In this resurrection life, all who belong to God are alive to God always.
Of course, like the Sadducees and many others in humanity who do not believe in the resurrection life, we, too, could simply do our best to live the current life meaningfully confined by time and space. Surely one could live a very purposeful life and not concern oneself with what might happen after death. But there is something different when a person in faith lives life where the meaning of life is being worked out without the concern of the overwhelming power of death because in the resurrection life of Christ, death has lost all its power. This life of service to God whose creation is found in and through the work of Christ does not simply arise out of this world, but has its origin as well as its end in the resurrection life which is beyond the realm of death.
This is why when we confess that our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed in Christ Jesus while sustaining us by the Holy Spirit, we are speaking of God who has the power of life that has called us into being beyond the power of death. This God of the living continually is present with us so that God’s people who are called through Christ may serve God without fear of death, free from the power and principalities of this world, participating in God’s mission in the world with faith, hope and love. As Christ demonstrated, those who are serving this God of the living are not afraid to live the life of love where not only the enemies are loved, but also our lives are laid down for others in fullness of life. In this sense those who love the God of the living are the ones who manifest love of Christ to all their neighbours freely and graciously.
On this day, as we remember the wars of this world and many who died fighting, we would do well to serve the God of the living in whom the resurrection life is what gives us courage to love others including our enemies even unto our deaths.
O God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
In grateful thanksgiving we come to bring our prayers. Hear us as we pray for all those nameless victims of wars and conflict all over the world. For those who died and hurt, who lost their loved ones, who are by the sides of hurting, and for those who have lost so much, we pray that your presence be with each of them. We do not know what to do. We do our best to remember them by praying each week to you and committing their future in your hand. Help us not to forget and not to turn away from their sufferings.
O God of the living,
We bring to you all our neighbours who are under the power of death. So many are threatened by illnesses, failing bodies, ageing minds, and unexpected accidents that harmed them physically and mentally. They see the power of death all around them. As they search out doctors and nurses, they are constantly faced with declining life. We bring their concerns. As God of the living, pour into them your Spirit. May they come to experience the power of the resurrection life so that they may live each moment without fear of death.
O God of the resurrection life,
Hear our prayers. We are a small number of people who gather each week in your Son’s name to praise and worship you. At times, we feel discouraged. At times we are delighted with your grace and mercy. We are fickle. We are selfish. We do our best, but not enough to bring any changes in our world. Each day we find ourselves doing what we desire and forget to do what you have asked us to do. Yet, faithfully we come to be fed by you. In your grace and mercy, continue to fill us with your resurrection life. Make it possible for us to be a glimpse of the resurrection life in this death filled world.
O God of love,
Make us yours. Fill us with your love in ways that we may be conduits of your love for others.
We ask you to lead our political leaders. As they try to lead Canada away from a possible recession, give them clarity of mind to make decisions that will benefit the weakest and help the least among us. We pray that you will give wisdom to our premier and his ministers in order for them to find the best way to resolve the difficulty they face concerning those school workers. Instead of hardness of heart, fill all sides with compassion and grace in their negotiations to provide safe and nurturing education systems. May your love be the guide in all their decision makings.
All these and more we pray in the name of your Son our Lord. Amen.
O Lord God,
Out of all the blessings you gave us, we bring a small amount as our offering to you. We are weak, yet, in your strength, we love others. We are poor, yet, in your riches, we carry out your ministry. Look upon these small gifts. Use them to bless and grow this world according to your love. All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays: everyone is invited to a fellowship of good conversation with warm cinnamon buns, coffee or tea at 10 am every Tuesday.
Special Worship: Next Sunday at 2 pm there will be a special worship service. Everyone is invited to come and share the joy and praise to God. This is something we are trying new. Please come. Bring friends and be part of something that is exciting and new. For those who cannot come at 2 pm, there will be a time of devotion at 10:30 am.
Remembering the Old as we begin the New: We are encouraging everyone to bring a picture, or an object that reminds you of your own personal faith life. These mementos will be shared on Sunday, November 20th.
Wine, Women, and Song: the series on faith and spirituality continues next Thursday at 10 am.
Hymn: Make me a servant