Welcome

In John 5:7 Jesus says, “My Father is still working and I also am working.” It is wonderful to be present in a place where our God and our Lord are still working. Today, Christ has prepared the table so that we may all come and enjoy him at his table. Welcome to his presence!

Preparation: Bind us together

Call to Worship (Psalm 37:1-5)

Do not fret because of the wicked;
    do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.

Hymn: Christ is made a sure foundation

Prayer

On this worldwide communion Sunday we come before you, O God, with our hearts and minds centred on your Son our Lord. As the God who created heaven and earth and all therein, as the gracious God who called us into being in Christ Jesus, you are our God who is glorified by us every day. As your children we proclaim your grace and mercy to the world. As your people who lift up the lowly and bring voice to the voiceless we come before you with praise and worship. Come to us now. Make this place yours. Sanctify us so that this worship may be worthy of your presence. All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-10

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

 

To Timothy, my beloved child:

 

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

 

Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

 

Sermon: As one body

Does anyone care? This is the question we hear often when a person feels that she is alone in dealing with all her troubles by herself. I often hear, “I feel alone. My family is far away and all my friends have moved away or died.” This loneliness is real. What surprises us the most is when we hear young children saying how lonely they feel. Is this a surprise? Or is this a chronic condition we have swept under the carpet so that we do not have to deal with it? Did we not hear this cry of loneliness from the 1970s when we began hearing about the latch key generation? You know, those children who came from school and had to stay home and look after themselves until the parent came home.

In the past, the best we could do was to enact laws to say that children under a certain age could not be left alone at home. Instead of making families flourish, we made it expensive for parents with very little income to stay home and get poorer making it impossible for them to claw out of poverty. Many neighbours clicked their tongues and called the police when they saw their neighbours' children left alone because the single mothers without support went to work.

I remember sharing with you a case where a single mother who had no family support took her 7 or 8 year old child to a McDonald's where she was working at the time and let the child play in the playground in the McDonald’s alone. The police came and the child welfare service was called. The child was taken away and the mother received a jail sentence for leaving the child alone in a playground even though she could see how the child was doing through the window. Both the child and the mother would have wondered if anyone cared. The irony of this situation was that the state ended up breaking up the mother and her child and made them stay alone. She had to go to jail and serve time because she did not have money to pay the fine. When she came out of jail, she had to prove to the child welfare she was able to look after the child taking even longer to unite them. Mother and child did not lack love. It was the state that imposed its draconian loveless law.

We are in a time when many churches are suffering all sorts of difficulties. They are declining fast as the COVID lockdown measures are being lifted and everyone has learned to stay away from their churches comfortably. Those few who gather on Sundays for worship are wondering aloud everywhere in Canada if anyone cares. Many are facing financial difficulties. Many are wondering how they will pay the high utility costs with fewer people. Worries seem to be everywhere. People are worried with no one to help them, it seems. This sense of isolation was already experienced with terrible consequences by everyone, especially children, when very strict social distancing was implemented on everyone for safety during the pandemic. Now that we begin entering the endemic stage, we feel more alone than ever.

How have we, as Christians, come to this? How is it possible that we, meaning most of us in Canada, USA and Europe feel isolated and helpless when our morals and ethics have been based on Christian understanding in the past 10 centuries? This question is important for us to explore because we, Christians, were taught from the very beginning that we are one in Christ and that we were called to be part of the Church. Unity, belonging to one another, was the very essence of what it means to be Christian. One Church, one body, one baptism, one Lord is our cry. Yet, in reality, those who live in parts of the world where Protestants (those who stand for the truth) were strong, we see the highest number of people, including young children, suffering from isolation and loneliness.

In the meantime, we are still looking at the world that brings greater isolation and less human touch on everything. This is seen at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King where you now order through phone apps or on big screens called kiosks, cashiers being replaced by mini computer screens. Last time I went into a bank, a friendly cashier stood at the door to tell everyone entering that we should use machines instead of people and that she was willing to train anyone who needed help. We saw this coming many years ago when companies changed their answering services with computerized answering machines. We found out how hard and how impossible it was to get to an actual human person after pushing this number or that number endlessly. All these changes were made in the name of progress and efficiency, cutting us off from real human interactions.

Technology can indeed help us in many circumstances to improve the quality of life for many of us. However, in the end, what we human beings need to flourish is human connections and touches. As Christians we embody this form of existence more than any other. In life, and in history, Christians were able to survive and thrive in many horridly difficult situations simply because we were able to uphold one another in prayer and were sustained by Christians whom we never knew because we were part of one body of Christ. This is why I often shared with you a story about how those destitute Christians in another country asked for our prayer–not our money–when asked what is one thing that we could do for them. They did not want to be forgotten. They were strengthened by the knowledge that we did not forget them and brought their plights to God on their behalf. This spiritual connection and touch gave them strength to witness Christ’s love each day in their poverty.

Human connections and human touches are fundamental to life for humanity. Many social and psychological experiments showed that babies require mothers’ touches as much as being fed in order to flourish in life. We are told that those babies who were loved and cared for grew into healthier and more resilient adults later in their lives. We also have seen how compassionate first responders like the police, paramedics, and firefighters could persuade people who were ready to commit suicide. We speak of the necessity of reaching out to those who are in despair. This is why we see leaders speaking with disaster victims. This is why we hear so many people speaking about receiving wonderful and surprising kindness from others in their dark moments.

Now imagine a moment when we are feeling like we are alone and in despair. When there is no hope left, a message comes to us or a person sits down beside us saying, “I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.” In our depth of despair we hear this person telling us we are important to her, that she knows us and knows the troubles we face, and that we are not forgotten by her. Imagine our surprise. We matter to someone. We are loved by that person. Our life has a purpose that is bigger and greater than what we are going through at the moment. What an amazing affirmation for living! What an incredible encouragement to continue our struggles!

Today we celebrate communion. It binds us as one in Christ Jesus transcending all our differences. Things that separate us from one another are removed so that we become one body. It reminds us that we are together. By partaking in communion, we are affirmed and affirming that God calls us as one in him and that we reach out to one another not as strangers but as brothers and sisters sharing life fully in love. Communion is the moment where like Paul tenderly embraces Timothy in today’s passage, we remember one another as being part of each other. Communion is the moment where Christ’s voice breaks into our dark and lonely existence saying, “You are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are with me as I am with you. You are my child. You are created as the truth holder, truth revealer, and true witness to what God does in the world.”

As we receive a piece of bread as the body of Christ broken for us and a cup as the salvation in the blood of Christ poured out for us, we rejoice. After all, what Paul tells Timothy here is what we hear, “Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” We are loved. We are affirmed. We are recreated with the purpose God called us in Christ.

On this worldwide communion Sunday, we participate along with all Christians around the world in this communion. We remember them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We recommit ourselves before Christ as part of them and receive them as part of us. We share Christ's call and love as one body of Christ no matter where we are, where we come from, or however different we are in every aspect of our lives. Communion is the reminder that we matter to God and that we matter to one another–all Christians worldwide are in this faith journey together. We are not alone. This is what it means to be the body of Christ, sharing, interacting, caring and being part of one another to be God’s people here and now.

Prayer

O God,
What have we done that the world you have created is now groaning in pain and anguish? What have we done as stewards of this earth that hurricanes, typhoons, and storms rage in ways that we have not experienced before? Maritime provinces are reeling under destruction left by the tropical storm Fiona. Florida is once again trying to rebuild after the devastation left by another hurricane. In the west, we see fires. In the north, glaciers are melting faster than ever. In the south, heat is overwhelming. Our greed and irresponsibility brought about the destruction of your creation in the name of progress. Yet, instead of loving one another and caring for the creation our only concern seems to focus on our comfort and enjoyment. O Lord, forgive us. Make us see our wrongs. Reveal to us the truth of our destructive ways.

O Lord,
In you is our peace. Yet, we have left you for gods of our own making and left you in order to search for our successes. In doing so, we have left behind peace. Everywhere we go and reside, we bring violence, destruction, and sin. Instead of peace, we bring wars, exploitations, and hurts. Peace is nowhere to be found. Maiming, breaking, hurting and killing become the way of life. We confess that we are part of this evil world. We participate with or without knowing in this world of sin. We now ask for your forgiveness for all that we have done. O Lord, we are sinners. Through Christ forgive us. Restore us to be your people once again.

O Holy Spirit,
We pray for your presence with those who are trying their best to rebuild in the maritime provinces. So many people are still wondering how they can go about living their regular lives. Help each of them with your presence. Also help us by filling our hearts with your love so that we may find ways to share your love with them. Give us compassion and guidance.

We also pray for all your people at Drummond Hill. As we partake in this communion, bless us. Make us one with you and all your people who were before us, who are yet to come, and who are our brothers and sisters around the world in Christ today. Recreate us with your purpose. Shape us as the witnesses who stand firm in holding fast to the truth that you reveal to us. Form us as your servants who bring love to the poor, patience to those who are not in you, kindness to all who seek you, tolerance to those who divide, hospitality to those who are excluded, friendship to those who are lonely, healing to those who are broken, and rejoicing to those who toil in doldrum of life.

Feed us and this world this day with your everlasting love when we partake in this holy communion. All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Sharing/Announcements/Offering

Please continue to pray for those who are ill, including the Rev. Gordon Hastings.

We thank God for those who have prepared, led, and served in our communion worship in many different ways. We are grateful for them all. We are being well looked after with good food for both the body and mind.

Please remember that we are starting many activities. Cinnamon Bun Tuesday continues. Please come out and enjoy the fellowship.

We are handing out local mission envelopes for Thanksgiving (which is already next week). Please be generous in helping our neighbours.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, we are starting the “Love Your Church” campaign again.

We will also be introducing our favourite programs like “Wine, Women, and Song” and “Wednesday Afternoon Devotion.” Please keep an eye out for the announcements.

Offering Prayer

O merciful and gracious God,
Receive our gifts. We bring them as our response to your unconditional and unlimited grace. These are small symbols of our love. Use them to reconstitute us in this world as your people who radiate your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Hymn: There is a redeemer

Benediction