Sunday, October 25

Welcome and Announcements


Thank you for worshipping with us this morning. In God’s grace may you be blessed today and many days yet to come.

We are very appreciative of your help on items for Saturday lunch takeouts. Thank you.

Remember to pick up bed sheets for single bed, personal care items, socks, pajamas and underwear for women and children for YWCA Shelter when you are shopping.

Please pray for one another as you fellowship with each other through phone and other means.

Meditative Hymn: Glorify Thy Name (Father we love you)



Call to Worship


Bless the Lord!
Let the praise be on our lips without ceasing!
Lift up your hands and call on his name.

Hymn: Sing Praise to God who reigns above https://youtu.be/



Prayer:


Pour your grace, O God, upon us. We are people with many sins. Yet, through your Son our Lord forgive, reconcile and recreate us this day.

Hear our praise, O God. We come humbly to give praise. As we lift up our voices, may you hear our praises and be glorified.

Fill our hearts, O God. Fill our hearts with your grace and mercy. Through them, may we be changed to serve you and our neighbours with your love.

Guide us, O God. By the Holy Spirit, lead us to you always. Show us paths of righteousness to worship and walk with you now and always. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: He Is Exalted/ Great is the Lord)



Offering Prayer


We come to you and offer you these tokens of our love for you, O God. They represent our joy, sadness, happiness, gratitude, hope, and faith we have in you. Receive them in ways that these small symbols will glorify you. Through the use of them, may you continually shape and form this world into the new creation that is of your Son our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 23


The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

Sermon: The strength we get from Psalm 23 in turbulent times


Why should anyone become a Christian? In this very fragile time, how should we witness Christ in ways that those who are tired, broken, alone and in despair find our Lord as the way, the truth and the life? Is there anything that we can share with them?
When we are tired, broken, alone and in despair, where do we go? What do we look for? How do we experience God’s love in Christ that brings us into the life that is vibrant and fruitful?

There is a wonderful picture of tranquility, contentment and peace. We return to it over and over. It is called Psalm 23. There, we find ourselves a picture of life that is only possible and real if we see the world with God’s love in Christ filtering all the troubles of this world.

Psalm 23 begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd.” This world that Psalm 23 is about to describe is different at the outset because it begins with “The Lord.” For us Christians, there is only one Lord who is Christ. With this understanding, this psalm refers for us to the world that belongs to Christ. In this world, those who rule are not politicians, kings or other powerful human beings. Nor is it the world of commerce and trade. Instead, in this world of Christ, his people are taken care of, provided for and let alone to be restored. Poverty, violence, destruction and brokenness are absent. Fullness, contentment, restfulness, peace and flourishing are its hallmarks.

In this new creation, the world of Christ, the relationship between the Lord and his people is summarized as the one of the good shepherd and his sheep. The picture that arises out of this psalm is the good shepherd lovingly caring for his sheep. In Gospel John we come to learn that the good shepherd lays down his life in order to save his sheep. This good shepherd does not hesitate to seek out through dangers the lost ones. He leads his sheep to a place of safety and plenty. In this spirit, we see ourselves as being led to green pastures and still waters—the place filled with love by which fullness, peace and contentment are enjoyed.

By stating, then, this Lord is our shepherd, we embrace and are embraced by God's love shown in Christ. Here the full extent of love is experienced through Christ’s action of being the shepherd. By confessing that Christ is our shepherd, we witness to the world our belonging in this new world filled with the immense love of God. It demonstrates to others our security in belonging to this Lord who is the God’s love incarnate.

Currently our world is filled with troubles including COVID 19, poverty, violence, addiction and despair. In this trouble filled world, for many, this tranquil pastoral image may become nothing more than an illusion based on a bygone era. People are pressured for time, drained out of life energy and losing their spirits. For them, it is hard to imagine resting near calm water or being on green pastures full and content. Of course, in summer, many of them search out this serene world by going to cottages or retreat into backyards: lakes, rivers, beaches, pools and gardens are their oasis. This leisure time, however, is an exception rather than the rule in their exhausting life. They long for the true rest, but cannot enjoy these getaways as nothing more than momentary escapes from their treadmill lives. The world of Christ is impossible for them to conceive as real.
For Christians, however, the world described in Psalm 23 is neither an illusion nor a pie in the sky dream. It is our reality. This reality is ours because our shepherd leads us there through his death and resurrection. It is so because we do not live under kings, politicians and the powerful, but under Christ who comes to us as God’s love incarnate in human form. He is present with us as God with us. He invites us away from the rules of power and commerce of this world. He establishes the world where all are invited to share in his love without condition.

In realizing Christ’s rule over us, we are able to follow him in loving God and neighbours near and far. We are freed from following the rules of life laid down by our political, social and economic systems. We are freed to follow Christ by loving unconditionally and freely. That is, as his stewards, we share what we have received abundantly, we reach out and lift up those who have fallen and we hold in common the burdens that each of us face. This is what it means to have Christ as our Lord and as our good shepherd. Together in Christ, therefore, we are led to green pastures where there is no need for competition and to calm waters where no one fears violence from others. In this world whose foundation is Christ’s love, we are restored fully.

As we experience this world of new creation, we are given the tasks of living faithfully in the current world that is not yet fully re-created in Christ. This current world in which we sojourn we face powers of death through COVID 19 and other death bringing diseases, through violence unleashed by people on people, through corruptions confining the weak by the strong, and through impositions of ideologies favouring the few over the masses. Signs of imminent death are everywhere. Despair and resignations overwhelm any signs of life. Though unsurmountable is the power of death in everyone’s life, relying on Christ totally, we confront it head on saying, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” It is not the courage that makes us face death. Rather, it is with Christ’s love we stand against death knowing that our Lord is with us in fullness of love. In his love our fears are cast out. It is also our confidence in his love that makes us forge ahead through the valley of the shadow of death. It is having full trust and confidence in the shepherd who never abandons us even for a moment. The sting of death is taken away and the death’s victory is made nought by the rod and staff of our shepherd. It is by Christ’s love we journey through this terrifying world of woes and suffering.

How does this way of seeing actually works? We have been witnessing so many deaths in this pandemic. They died alone, fearful and crushed. We, as Christians, bring the wisdom of love to these untenable deaths. With hope and love in faith we witness the resurrection life in these deaths by bringing the assurance that Christ does not leave any of his alone and that he is always with them. Christ neither abandons nor gives them up to death any one. His assurance is that his steadfast love is with all those who are given to him, for they know his voice and follow him.

That is, we are not left alone to be taunted, mocked, defeated and crushed by our ultimate enemy known as death. Christ sustains, nourishes and prospers us in this death filled life. As we have been saying in the past few Sundays since the worldwide communion Sunday, Christ sets the table in the middle of the world to feed us there to signify the dawning of new life. He won over death and gave us new life through his death and resurrection. So we sing, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”
These last two verses are our hope as we walk through life oppressed, intimidated and manaced by the powers of death in forms of illnesses like COVID 19, of poverty, of addiction, of violence and of unjust oppressions. Having faith in Christ, we are able to navigate through every danger that is put before us in life because at each spot of death in this world the Table of the Lord is there to feed, strengthen and give new life to every one of us. Even when we seem we are at the end of life, having been anointed and given our cups that overflow, we rise again to witness Christ as the shepherd who protects, provides and safely guides us through life and even through death. Having been fed and made the body of Christ we proclaim to the world this Christ as our Lord saying, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” We are challenging ourselves as well as others to see the Christ who is our shepherd indeed through the way we live in the world. That means in our lives, we share life that is full of grace and love in ways others will see his goodness and mercy. This new life is the new world that we have been enjoying since our baptism--the world in which green pastures and still waters replace the world of immense needs and wants and agony. It is the world that was recreated by God’s love in Christ. It is the world that we bring to this broken world where mangled humanity and the world groan.

This new world of Christian Psalm 23 offers hope in this world. The hope is solely based on God’s love given through Christ. It helps others to see why we are so vibrant in the death fearing world. Because it is so different from the world ruled by the powerful while the fear of imminent death of humanity overwhelms so many people, those of us who call Christ our Lord and shepherd stand apart. Though we are in the world, we are not of it. We point to the new creation where under Christ’s reign we enjoy life full of love manifested as peace, tranquility, rest, restoration and without fear. Christ’s love that brings this life in new creation gives us ways and means to pry open the grip of death off this world of woe and suffering. Psalm 23 is our anthem that points to the new world. So we recite, praise and sing Psalm 23 as to where God in Christ is leading us at this time in history.

Prayer (from The Presbyterian Church in Canada)


Faithful God and Holy Friend,
We do not have enough words to thank you for all you have given us and the love you share with us in Christ Jesus.
In the silence of this time, help us review the week just past, remembering the ways we encountered you—in the beauty of creation, the support of friends, the wisdom of books, the joy of music, the energy of exercise, through study and prayer.
(A time of silence is kept.)
God of comfort and challenge,
we are grateful for your presence in these uncertain times at home, at work and at school. We give you thanks for your attention to the small details and the large responsibilities we face.
Be with us as the months of pandemic continue. Give us patience to keep each other safe and make us attentive to the needs of those around us.
In silence we name before you those finding these days especially difficult.
(A time of silence is kept.)
God of persistence and inspiration,
we remember before you the many who struggle to recognize your presence or fail to hear your voice amid all the competing voices in our world.
We pray for those feeling depressed or anxious, those facing grief and loneliness, and those who are worried about their health or their security.
(A time of silence is kept.)
Do not forget these people even if they forget you. Comfort them and fill them with peace.
God of justice and leadership,
We pray for our country and all other nations facing immense challenges with COVID-19. Guide decision makers and keep the hearts of those with resources open to those who do not have enough.
We pray for places where justice is lacking, where violence threatens, or leaders are untrustworthy. Strengthen voices of wisdom and acts of courageous compassion to tend the needs of people most at risk.
God of grace and guidance,
You call us to be your hands and feet, your voice and comfort in the world, following the example of Jesus. Equip us to respond to the needs around us in his name and make us bold to get started right here and right now.

All these, we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Hymn: To God Be the Glory



Benediction:


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.