Sunday, October 3, 2021

Welcome and Announcements

Until Sunday, December 5, our church will be collecting donations of food and toys. Food is to be non perishable like school snacks, drink boxes, pasta and sauces, box cereals. Toys must be new and in original packaging. In the case of toys, please do not wrap them. We thank you in advance for your generous willingness to share.

Preparation: I will call upon the Lord

Calling people to Worship

Minister: Praise the Lord!
All: Praise God in his sanctuary!
Minister: Praise him in his mighty firmament!
All: Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

O Lord, O Lord, How Majestic is Your Name

Psalm 84:1-4 Recitation

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
      where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
   my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
    ever singing your praise.


Blessed are you, O God, who creates without ceasing.

Out of nothing, you called us into being. You formed us in your image. You breathed life into our forms. Out from nothing, we came to be. In your love we are.

In awe of your grace and love, we worship you, oh God. Into your presence we humbly entre on your Son’s account. We come with hope of being forgiven and reconciled. With love to offer to you and hope to receive, in faith we bring this worship.

Be glorified!

In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Crown him with many crowns

Scripture: Matthew 7:24-27

‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Sermon: Preparing a solid foundation

This week, we are back to the topic of preparation. Not just any preparation, but good preparation again. In this context we read today’s passage, Jesus’ parable of the house built on the rock. We teach our children from a very young age why it is important to build a house on a solid foundation. In the same reasoning, as we start this community called Drummond Hill Church anew, we do our best to build it on a solid foundation. The question is, what constitutes a solid foundation for us?

Of course, we claim unequivocally that our foundation is Jesus Christ and his words. We are building the church on solid rock when we hear his words and do them. The important thing, in this case, is to know that we actively hear his words so that we are able to do them. Yet, hearing his words correctly has proven to be very difficult. Why else do we have so many churches fighting over what he said and did not say? Our denomination just went through an excruciating debate on what Jesus would have said to us regarding LGBTQI persons.

In hearing, all Christians may hear the same words being spoken by Jesus. It is just that our interpretations of what we have heard differ. There seems to be a fairly large difference when it comes to understanding what he said. Some Bible based churches understand what they hear one way while other groups of churches hear the same but understand them to mean something totally opposite. Some speak of literal meanings of what Jesus said in the Bible. While others speak of metaphorical meanings of what we find in the Bible. In some cases the difference is so far apart that there cannot be any resolutions between the two.

With interpretations being so far apart, it is easy to see why from a particular sentence a dispute arises to make opposing groups enemies. Both argue that each one is standing on the solid rock (Christ) while accusing the other for corrupt or false understanding. The Church of Jesus Christ has faced this type of deep divisive violence since its very beginning. We can even see how the disciples who walked with Jesus fought over what it meant to follow Jesus. James and John wanted to sit right next to Jesus, one on his right and one on his left. Others became angry against these brothers.

History contains many examples of opposing interpretations rising out of a particular sentence. From the very beginning of the Church, Christians struggled. As we noted last week, Matthew and Luke had different recordings of what Jesus said to the devil. In Matthew Jesus responded, “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In Luke Jesus retorted, “one does not live by bread alone.” Mark and John did not include the temptation scene. Paul fought some apostles on the topic of whether a gentile needed to be circumcised to become a Christian. Later during the Reformation, Pope, Luther, and Calvin came up with three different ways of understanding what Jesus meant when he said, “this is my body.” The dispute was over “is” and how to interpret it.

How are we to understand in these division prone churches what it means to hear his words and do them today? By what measure can we say that we are building our church on Christ and his words?

Our brand of Presbyterian Christians has always emphasized that our understanding of God’s Word in the Bible reforms us and that we are changed by God’s Word constantly. This understanding has been cultivated very carefully in the past 500+ years. It means that how God loves us and how Christ’s love that points to God reshape our understanding as the Holy Spirit helps us to encounter God’s Word in a new way. By this fresh encounter, we are shaped by the Spirit to manifest God’s love shown in Christ today to our neighbours, bringing God’s good news in a powerful and life changing way. Our understanding of God’s Word, therefore, is made new each day in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Being made new by the Spirit when we are confronted by the Word leads us to live the Word. Those who follow him, believe him, and serve him are the ones who hear his words and do them. Those who are foolish are ones who hear his words, may have been renewed by the Holy Spirit or convicted by his words but fail to do them. We may not know why they are unable, unwilling, or fail to do his words. What we know is that due to lack of doing what Jesus taught them to do, there are no fruits born by them. That is what Jesus means when he says that they are like the ones who built their house on sand instead of building their house on the rock.

It is important to remember that Jesus did say in other parts of the Gospels that the world would come to know by the love they share whether they were his disciples or not. In Paul’s letters, Paul spells out even more clearly what fruit of the spirit is and he speaks of love that ought to be in the hearts of every Christians so that Christ’s love may be shared with neighbours without limits. 1 Corinthians 13 as well as Galatians 5 are the pages that contain most clearly what loving in Christ means. Yes, those who love this way or those who are able to love even the enemies are the ones who are building the Church on the rock. This is why Christ is often metaphorically referred to as the Rock.

What do we mean when we say that on Christ the solid rock I stand? What are we saying when Christ is our foundation?

We often hear simple phrases like, “love one another,” “love your neighbour,” and “love your enemy.” If we love, then, we are building our church on the rock. That is, we are hearing Christ’s words and are doing them. Right? Of course, the catch is that it all depends what we mean by love. To begin with, we have heard how Greeks understood that there were three kinds of love: God’s love for us, known as agape; love between people, used be called brotherly or sisterly love, named philos; and erotic or sexual love, known as eros. Categorizing love this way and following Paul’s use of love and confining ourselves to agape has been popular among Christians. However, it became clear to many Christians in the second half of the 20the century that following Greek ways of splitting love into three different forms and attaching greater importance to agape was not helpful. Indeed, Jews of Jesus’ time and Jesus himself, being a Jew, probably did not subscribe to the Greek way of dividing love.

When we study both Old and New Testaments, it is clear that love has a variety of meanings depending on context and was not easily divided as Greeks worked it out. We can see similarities of Jewish understanding of love when we think of today’s usage of love among Canadians. Love is a term that contains many meanings. Sometimes it expresses our most intimate feelings. Other times love is a detached well wishes or greetings. In every case, however, there is a deep sense of exposing who we are to others when we use the word to share our feelings and emotions. Also on another level, when we use a phrase, “love you,” it contains far more than feelings and emotions. It reveals the level of our relationship, the status of our ties to each other, and ways we shape value our connections. It expresses the depth and width of our sense of belonging to each other.

It would have been simpler if this width of carrying out love went as far as neighbours only. However, with Jesus love now is extended even to enemies. That is, Jesus’ teaching blew open the narrow and comfortable distance between people who could share love together. No longer as Christians we can stop at loving those whom we desire to love. Hearing his words and doing them now push us to face our own limitations. We are to embrace everyone including those whom we kept at a distance lest we are harmed. When love is shared so widely without limits, we are building our church community on Christ, the rock. This is the way we Presbyterians understand what it means to follow Christ.

To hear Jesus’ words and do them is a way of laying the foundation. Pushing aside many ways we define loving one another, we are confronted by these familiar words when we hear them new again. Each time we hear Jesus’ parable, his words challenge us as ever new words. These ever new words reshape and recreate us as his new creation each day. This new in us in the Holy Spirit is seen by others as God’s grace and reaches out to our neighbours as the good news of Christ, giving hope in our desperate world.

Pastoral Prayer

In season and out of season, you grace us with your presence. In life and in death, you are our Lord who keeps us in life, filled with love. In delights and in troubles, your steadfast love is with us without fail. In this confident faith, we come with our prayers. Hear us, O God.

This week as a nation we reflected on the history of troubles that our indigenous siblings endured due to our policies and prejudices. As we review our history, we offer to you our confession. Though individually we have not caused harm directly, we acknowledge that our government policies of the past caused and continue to cause difficulties for our indigenous neighbours. For these wrongs, we ask your forgiveness as we continue to ask forgiveness from those who were harmed.

In this time of pandemic, as we begin looking ahead, we are reminded that less than 10% of the people in poor countries are vaccinated against COVID 19. In this situation, we remember before you all who are suffering in those countries where many suffer and die because they lack medical care. Give us hearts to find ways to extend your love to them. Help us to see ways to extend your life to them.

Among us are many who suffer illnesses, both physical and mental. Due to COVID 19 so many are left untreated and are not able to get proper care. At the same time we hear about doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are suffering because of abuses and physical exhaustion. Many nurses are quitting or about to quit because pressures are just too much. Doctors are also dealing with abuses and accusations. Many patients are frustrated and angry at long waits and lack of attention to their needs. Be with them all. Give both patients and those who are helping them hearts of compassion, care, and love.

We pray for refugees and those who are homeless. In their search for homes, they find more obstacles and colder hearts. With cold weather approaching, more and more people are despairing because they are without adequate shelter. Be with our political leaders, social activists, and all of us to work together to provide ways and means for them to thrive in life no matter what economic conditions they face.

Continue to pour in our hearts your abundant and limitless love. May we become more like your Son our Lord each day in sharing life by giving our lives for others.

O Lord, there never are enough words to lift up to you all the troubles and difficulties we and our neighbours face. Hear our prayers for those who are much troubled in their hearts when we say together, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” Amen.


Offering Prayer

O Lord, we come bringing gifts. These are symbols of our love for you. Though they are small in amount, yet, they contain all our love for you. Receive them from our hearts. Know our faith and hope in you. Give us hearts full of grace and generosity to share your blessings with our neighbours. Help us to see the needs around us. Instill in us strength and mercy to share with those who need your help. All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

This is my commandment