Sunday, November 8, 2020

Welcome and Announcements


Thank you for being part of this community of Christ. May God’s blessings keep you in peace during this difficult time.

Sadly Ruth Henderson passed away last Sunday evening. She was the oldest life-time member who was baptized in Drummond Hill. We express our gratitude to God for her life. We share with the family Christ’s love at this very difficult time. She was laid to rest on Saturday along with Jody, her daughter, who passed away a few weeks ago.

We thank you for many different ways that you express your love for God and neighbours. We ask you to consider in prayer the needs of Christ’s ministry through Drummond Hill at this time. We ask you to be generous as we continue our Love Your Church campaign.

The Mitten Tree project will continue until the first Sunday of December. You can either bring mittens, winter gloves, socks, toques and scarves to the church or call Nancy Porritt for pick-up.

Please keep in mind the YWCA Shelter. We are collecting bed sheets for single bed, socks, underwear and pajamas for women and children.

Session meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Remembrance

O God Our Help



Laying of the Wreaths



In Flanders Field



The Last Post and Reveille



O Canada



Call to Worship:


‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ To love is to participate in life. Through love we overcome our fears. In God’s love given in Christ we find peace. Let us worship God!

Hymn: Immortal Invisible



Prayer


Dearest Lord, come to us now, Be with us with your grace and mercy. Know that your children have gathered to worship and praise you. On this Remembrance Sunday we thank you for the peace that you continue to pour upon us. We remember how you were present through history guiding and guarding us in ways that we may witness your love giving life in this world. We thank you for all those lives that were given so that others may enjoy your peace today and many days yet to come.
Help us to remember so that we will not forget how the work of peace has taken so many lives. On this day, give us strength to remember those who were harmed by wars as soldiers and civilians. With wars continuing everywhere we are mindful of so many of our neighbours near and far suffering the traumas of wars. May we be the witnesses to these atrocities. Give us strength to witness your good news. Give us courage to remember the ones who are wounded. Give us wisdom to help leaders to build peace. Most of all, be with us so that through us your peace may be experienced as we love and share in hope. All these things we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Offering: (Anthem: O Jesus I Have Promised)



Offering Prayer


Sunday by Sunday, we come to you O God and express our gratitude through these gifts. Please receive them and help us to continue your ministry in and through your church. Open our eyes to your presence in the world and to your people who require your love. Open our ears to hear your people’s cries. Open our hearts to share your presence with all those who need you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture: John 15: 12-20


‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

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

Sermon:


So we say we remember. What do we remember? Do we remember the millions who died? Soldiers, civilians, heroes of battles, unsung heroes of wars? Violence? Peace? Small acts of love that gave meaning while bombs were dropping? Remembering to create a spectacle is different than remembering so that we are not to forget. As time goes on, remembering as a ritualized celebration of the heroes becomes selective: we choose what we want to remember. Remembering to not forget so that the history of terror and suffering is not repeated means everything is put before our eyes--sacrifice, bravery, love, hope, faithfulness as much as pain, sorrows, deaths, violence. As a nation we are called for “Remembrance.” In remembrance, politicians and the country celebrate heroes. Soldiers and those who suffered the war ask us not to forget their friends, pains, atrocities and inhumanity. In the shadows of speeches by leaders who speak of how “we” won because of the brave soldiers, the men and women who fought in the wars remember their friends and millions who died in front of them, beside them, behind them. They keep the memories of deaths alive so that people following them would choose peace, not wars.

Jesus came to bring peace to all. It is by no accident that in the Gospel Luke we find angels saying to shepherds, “on earth peace among those whom (God) favours.” Until his death, he was a man of peace establishing God’s kingdom or God’s reign on earth for everyone. He addressed injustice of the poor, not by changing the system, but by walking and being among them. He tended to the sick to bring relief to enjoy God’s peace. Yet, his preaching and ministry always put him in conflict against those who were in power. Peace was what he brought: wars from the powerful were what he had to face. This morning’s passage outlines Jesus’ understanding of the struggle. He warns his disciples that they will face the hatred of the world for bringing God’s peace. This is the irony of our world: our world is at war with the one who brings peace to all as God with us.

Do we really know what the peaceful world is like? What does it mean for people to live in peace? “Peace!” said out loud in the Middle East is a greeting. Greeting a friend or a stranger this way is to communicate one’s intention to come in peace and is not bringing harm to another. One who says “Peace be with you!” is harbouring no ill will or evil action upon others. By saying so, one blesses with God’s presence. After all, for those who live under God’s reign knows that peace is found where God is.

Peace as given through Christ is a state of calm, filled with restfulness. As we have discussed a few weeks ago when we were meditating on Psalm 23, peace is enjoyed when we fully trust our Shepherd and follow him as he leads us to the place of plentiful food and quiet rest. In this peace, there is no hustle and bustle of people trying to outdo one another, keep up with the next door, nor hoarding of wealth just for me and my family. In peace, power is returned to God, people enjoy God, and love one another and all God’s creation.

It appears, however, given sufficient time the people of God tend to go after other gods. What this means is that natural tendencies of people are to gain and use power for their own benefits. They compete against God to hold onto the power at all cost. Their desire is to grow and keep their powers by taking powers from others. Instead of being good stewards by sharing powers entrusted to them, they use and wield powers in ways to enslave others under them. Wars and violence continue to be means by which they are able to build their own powers by snatching them from those who are weaker. They use fear to grow stronger.

Jesus knew how the power of this world contended against the power of God. Paul knew how the principalities and powers were aligned against Christians. Christians throughout history have struggled against being seduced by power mongers. They did so not by accumulating power, but by returning power to God and to others. In other words, Christians of any worth responded with love whenever fear is used as a weapon. While the powerful used the law favouring their own causes and forces to dominate and threaten the poor, the sick, the weak, the meek, the lost and the marginalized, Christians share love by empowering and restoring the power to them. When the powerful were busy usurping and amassing power from others, Christians lifted up each and everyone as God’s presence in the world by giving the weak ways to discover their own powers and helping them to use their own power wisely. These two approaches were at odds with each other leading to situations where the rulers of the world, ever hungering for more power, attacked and crushed Christ and Christians. They knew the subversive nature of Christian ways to recover power to the weak by sharing in love and honouring each individual as God’s own.

In real life, we see dictators, ambitious politicians and many powerful people giving themselves incredible power through laws and political and social maneuvering. They enact laws that are advantageous to themselves. They know how to game the systems or have minions who will do things for them. The weak, on the other hand, get punished for even the least significant contravention of unjust laws which are applied to the letter (ignoring the intent of the intended law). There was an incident in a country run by a dictator where youths of ruling party’s members were not even arrested for possessing illegal drugs but were sent home in police escorts, but the youths of the poor in the same place were put in prison for life for being friends or having been in association with drug dealers because they lived in poor slums. In this country when the poor demonstrate for a livable wage (which often amounts to less than 5 Canadian dollars a day), they are arrested and put in prisons for days and weeks for disturbance of peace. Christian leaders were often imprisoned for stirring up the people and accused of being communists and socialists.

One thing to be mindful is that Christian leaders and Christians themselves have not always been on the side of the weak and the poor. Often the churches and their leaders were supportive of the people in power and became part of the power structures. In this way, Christians became part of the problems against the weak and the poor while being protected by the powerful. In these cases, Christians were not persecuted or were at odds with their powerful allies.

But for those Christians who have followed Christ in manners that embodied God’s love, like Jesus, they were among the poor and the weak sharing life fully. Loving others this way was always subversive and dangerous to the powers that be.

Christians always knew since Christ that wars were about power. That was why many Christians refused to serve in Roman army. In wars powers are exhibited through violence and mayhems unleashed upon others. Life is devalued. People are dehumanized. As Christians we are careful in participating in such orgies of killings. We do so only when we are certain that evil that is being unleashed must be confronted. We have learned long ago that loving others is not neutral. It has consequences--sometimes mortal consequences--for those who love so unconditionally. Love is our only and true response to life-destroying activities in the world. For those who are concerned only on gaining greater power at all costs even at the expense of vibrant lives, love is the final barrier that stands between them and more power which they crave. Their attacks, therefore, on those who love, are in full force. This is why Jesus warned his people about the impending persecutions. Those who do not waver in loving will get the full brunt of the violence and destruction.

Yet, love builds up. Through love, the weak and the poor are able to find strength to build life, not just any life, but meaningful life. Those who were powerful or who have power eventually wane as others rise to take powers away from them. They are left in shambles as they lose to the new and more powerful people. Unlike love, the worldly powers are simply passed on leaving greater destruction behind.

So Christians stand against the power and principalities, not with power and might, but with love. Love of God shown in Christ is the only tool necessary to bring peace where all are able in glorifying and enjoying God as we return the power back to God. In John 15, Jesus’ warning of persecution comes after Jesus’ meditation on love. Only after Jesus affirms and instills God’s love in his followers, he speaks of the dangers ahead when they live out the commandment to love.

On this remembrance day, we stand for peace. This peace is possible for all when love of God abounds in all creation. We seek and live peace through love as described in Psalm 23 by returning power and might to God. Returning the power to God is the way we deny ourselves and follow Christ and is the surest way of coming into the age of peace under God’s reign. Peace is the fruit of our life of love: love of God and love of one another.

A New Commandment



Prayer


More than any other day, O Lord God, we bring our world’s concerns. After a century since World War 1 where so many people perished, we are still mired in this world with wars and talks of wars. Though we remember every year this time the evils of war, we have not been able to eradicate the source of wars--power grabbing, greed, jealousy, gluttony and hatred. Your message of love is shouted down ever more. However, O God, on this day, we come before you remembering how there is hope in your steadfast love for us. So we remember. We remember to love in places of hate. We refuse to forget the atrocities that destroy humanity by building peace as you have shown us. Grant this day your presence to all your servants who fought in the past and are engaged in building the present. Equip these soldiers of peace with your might. Remember them as they struggle to bring peace in this world of wars.

We bring before you our own concerns. Many are worried as our loved ones are facing various illnesses. Some are on the road to recovery. Others are facing life altering surgeries. Many are waiting for treatments. There are also countless numbers of people who can do nothing but wait for their death because there is nothing that will help. Be with each and everyone of them. They are your children, your creation, your images. They struggle through fear, powerlessness and pain. Give them your presence. Walk with them. As you care for them, remember those who love them. Bless them with faith and hope so that they would know that their love continues to fuel life into their suffering ones. Give us also ways and means to be your presence to them.

We pray for the homeless, the poor, the addicted and the lost. As they fight for life, may they find peace and love.

We pray for your church. As we carry out your ministry we are concerned about our future and what it means for us to be your church here. Give us your wisdom to discern your will. Help us to be guided by your Spirit. Give us boldness to hold onto your guidance and move forward into the future. Make us yours in ways that we may have courage to commit our future in your hand.

There are many other concerns in our minds. We pray that you will receive them all even if we fail to pray to you about them.

Keep us focused as your people always eager to serve you in your ministry to the world.

All these things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: Onward Christian Soldiers



Benediction