A Good Measure

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am 30 October 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia   Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Iris Routledge

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.
P: They shall mount up with wings as eagles.
L: They shall run and not be weary.
P: They shall walk and not faint.
L: In the company of all God’s saints and pilgrims, come and worship.
P: We come with prayer and praise to find our strength renewed!

Opening praise: Here I am to worship

Prayers of approach and confession

Our God you are Holy, Holy, Holy Lord.

We submit ourselves to you and to our neighbor because of you.

By your mercy hear our prayers.

You call us to follow and our footsteps falter,
reach out your hand and we treat you as stranger,
whisper our name and we simply ignore you.

Or worse yet, we become confused by too many other sounds and don’t hear your voice.

Gracious God, slow to anger, swift to bless, forgive us, restore us.

Grant us hearts that stand firm, a faith that is strong, and a hope that endures.

Grant us hearts we don’t deserve but rather hearts we need to do your will.

Unclutter our lives, Lord: we have too much, consume too much, expect too much.

Grant us perspective; to see this world through others’ eyes, any othereyes, than just our own… all others.

Grant us compassion where there is need to play our part – instead of our will which makes us want to turn aside.

Grant us gratitude for what we have –
our daily bread, the gift of life, the time shared with those we loved and who loved us.

Unclutter our lives, Lord,
give us space, simplicity, thankful hearts.

Forgive us when we fall. Pick us up, Make us new, Make us Yours. Amen.

Response: We come to ask your forgiveness, O Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. May the God of mercy, who forgives us all our sins, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us safely in eternal life. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

Story: So let us not grow weary in doing what is right for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Just a few days before Christmas a postal worker at the main sorting office found as unstamped handwritten messy envelope addressed to God. Curious he opened it and found that it was from an older woman who was in great distress because all of her saving ($200) had been stolen. As a result, she wouldn’t have anything to eat for Christmas.

The man went to his fellow postal workers and took up a collection for the women to make sure she had food for the Christmas season. They all dug deep despite the tough times. They came up with $180. Putting the money in a plain envelope, with no note or anything, the postal workers sent it by special courier to the women that same day.

A week later, the same postal worker noticed yet another unstamped letter that had also been addressed to God in the same handwriting. In it, he found a brief note:

Dear God, Thank you for the $180 that you sent me for Christmas. Things would have been so bleak otherwise.

P.S. It was short $20, but that was probably those thieving workers a the post office.

Have you ever been criticized for trying to do the right thing. If you have not – you will be.

But there is this great little line in the book of Galatians (6:9). It says, Let us not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time, we will eventually reap a harvest if we do not give up doing what is right”.

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535))

Transition music

Song: In the bulb there is a flower (674)

Today’s Message

Scripture reading: Luke 6: 20-31

Gradual: Jesus, remember me

Message: “A Good Measure”

Luke records the words of Jesus, 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This section of Luke comes to us from the set of verses known as the Sermon on the Plain and holds many similarities to the Sermon on the Mount. Many believe that both the Sermon of the Mount and The Sermon of the Plain are actually two listeners different versions of the same sermon. This is very possible.

However, many others believe that Jesus (like most of us) just happened to have a few really good gems of wisdom, and so he used them on more than one occasion. And if this is what is happening here, then that means the sermon on the plain is a complexly different sermon than the sermon on the mount – just with a bit of cross pollination. If this is true then small variations in length, emphasis and illustrations then simply represent Jesus’ attempt to be relevant to the needs of different audiences.

In any case whether this is a new sermon or not, Jesus tells the gathered crowd, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” And while Jesus is speaking about the forgiveness of God, he’s also talking about the people all around us.

Not long ago in Texas, an older woman named Deborah Stewart went to the grocery store to do some shopping. When she returned to her car, she was shocked at what she saw. Outside in the parking lot she noticed four large men covered with tattoos, getting into her car.

Deborah, nearly frozen in fear, dropped her shopping bags, reached into her purse, and pulled out a small handgun her retired police officer husband had given her to carry for protection (it is Texas we’re talking about after all). Bags laying on the ground she ran to the front of her car, aimed the pistol right through the center of the windshield; at the men inside, and began screaming at them at the top of her lungs. Shaking in fear for her life, but emboldened with a little power, Deborah ordered the thieves out of her car and warned them that if they didn’t hurry up, she would “blow [their] brains out.”

Still terrified the 80 year old women holding the heavy revolver shouted again, “I know how to use this gun, and don’t think I won’t” she screamed. And with that, the four very imposing men scrambled to get out of their seats.

Next the criminals threw open the car doors, clambered out of Deborah’s car as fast as they could and started running anywhere and everywhere their giant legs would carry them.

Deborah was trembling but she kept her external composure. She stood for a moment and watched those scoundrels run. And she had to admit, she felt proud.

When Deborah was certain they had run far enough and that they were essentially gone, she started to feel safe again.

Next she went to put the safety back on but noticed she’d never turned it off. Relieved that she hadn’t discovered this the wrong way, Deborah put the gun back in her purse, picked up her bags and loaded them into the back seat of her car while as she began to sob. Still very dazed, Deborah climbed into the driver’s seat and decided to go to the police station in order to report the incident.

And that’s when Deborah saw IT.

IT… was the identical twin to Deborah’s car. Except it wasn’t. There IT sat; another – same make, same model, same year, same color car. And it was just four spaces away from where she sat, and in the same isle.

Still confused Deborah tried the key. It fit. But it didn’t turn. She paused for composure and took a look around the interior of her vehicle, and confirmed quite quickly… it wasn’t her car at all.

Deborah bashfully unloaded and then re-loaded her bags back into her own car and drove to the police station to confess what she’d done.

When she told the story to the sergeant, he couldn’t control his laughter. He just pointed to the far end of the counter where four very shaken large tattooed men were reporting a carjacking by a “mad old white lady”.  Deborah apologized. And after a very tearful exchange, she was forgiven. No charges were filed.

The only punishment Deborah received in the end, was a comical newspaper article about the incident and an interesting story to tell people for the rest of her life.

Things aren’t always what they first appear to be.

And unfortunately, when we make judgments about others too quickly, most of what we are doing isn’t judgment at all. We don’t know them. Most of what we are doing, is simply revealing who we truly are in that moment. It says more about us than the other.

I used to have shoulder length purple hair (it was the ‘90’s).

But did that make me any more odd or dangerous than the 68% of women in North America who will use hair colouring at some point in their life?

Luckily God provided Deborah with a group of very forgiving people to help her learn that lesson. And she learned it well.

Let’s just hope she’s as forgiving to others as these men were to her.

Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

It’s not magic. It’s just how thing unfold. Judgement begets more judgment. Forgiveness results in more forgiveness.

But Jesus isn’t done. Next he says this, “Give and it will be given”.

It may be an apocryphal story I not sure, but I’ll tell it anyway.

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to eke out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a very slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed man stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

“I want to repay you,” said the man. “You saved my son’s life.”

“No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family home.

“Is that your son?” the nobleman asked.

“Yes,” the farmer replied proudly.

“I’ll make you a deal,” said the man. “Let me take him to give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of.”

It was a hard decision. But Farmer Fleming knew what a good education could mean for his son. So, the man did just that. He took his and sent him away for a first-class education. In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the man’s son (once stuck in the mire) was stricken with pneumonia. But his life was saved. What saved him? Penicillin.

The name of the man? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Winston Churchill.

Again, it may be an apocryphal story but it’s also the kind of thing that happens everyday whether we realize it or not.

Someone once said: “What goes around comes around.” There is some great truth in that.

Jesus said, “Give and it will be given.” And with a story like that, God must be control of the return.

—-

Now it begs saying that it can be easy to assume that this is some kind of Christian-Karma: Like Paul writing to the Galatians “Whatever a person sows that will they also reap.” (Gal. 6:6-7)

But it’s really quite different. It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to good people or that good things won’t ever happen to bad people. Remember Jesus also says He [The Father] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

That God will give to those who give doesn’t just mean in this life… it means Justice will eventually come in this life or the next. As Isaiah writes, “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” (Is. 57:1-2)

About this life to come Jesus continues on. He says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39

Now, as Christians we all know that Jesus was a carpenter. Of course, that’s not quite right. Carpenter didn’t really mean the same thing to First century Near Easterners as it does to us today. More than likely carpenter or (Tek-Ton) τέκτων tektōn was someone who worked with wood, masonry or shipbuilding, moreso than someone who exclusively works with wood which would be far more limited than say, sandstone.

More to the point though the Bible never actually applies this trade directly to Jesus. In fact, the biblical authors try quite hard to avoid using that word for him. For example, when Jesus goes home to his own town in Matthew 13 the people there insult him by saying “Isn’t this just Jesus the Carpenter’s son”. But Matthew would never use that word for Jesus. In reality the word tektōn carried with it a great stigma. To be called a tektōn (a carpenter) was a kind of insult. It was a somewhat derogatory term used to imply that a person was dirty and poor.

In any case most jobs like that of a carpenter weren’t really full-time jobs to begin with… they were more like having a second job. Nazareth was far too small a village to support a full-time builder. Joseph almost certainly worked in the nearby and much larger city of Capernaum. Like many trades people today, he probably commuted. But more importantly Joseph… Jesus…, like basically everyone else in the rural communities, would have also been a farmer first and a, whatever their specific trade job was, second. That’s just how it worked. Basically, everyone had a tiny section of land to work, or they’d never be able to eat.

Because of this Jesus tends to use a lot of farming imagery.

Here in this instance, he says, “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Now the word for “measure” here actually refers to a large container (sort of like a grain bin). A measure was supposed to be a specific size. But here Jesus says that to those who forgive, God doles out a “Good Measure” implying that it’s bigger than normal. And then he says that the wheat has been “shaken together” (a method of shucking the wheat apart from the chaff so that theirs just the grain left). This pure grain is then said to be “pressed down” like the farmer’s been trying to pack an abnormally large yield into his one and only barrel. And then just in case that doesn’t drive the point home enough for the crowd, Jesus says that it still won’t all fit and so it spills over into your lap.

The word “Lap” (or sometimes bosom) used here is (cal-pus) κόλπος kol-pos which is not always just a person’s lap in the literal sense. It was also used to describe a hollow part of a robe that was folded over which was bound by a sash and then was used for carrying things. In other words… it’s a pocket.

Jesus says that if you give people forgiveness and love – instead of judgment and condemnation God will give you so much forgiveness and love in return that you will be like a farmer whose harvest is so big that he has to shake it all down and pack it into the bin but still can’t contain it all. And so it spill over the top and piles up as high as your waist until it fills you pockets too.

It gets everywhere.

And that’s sort of the point here. Forgiveness breeds forgiveness. Love breeds love. It stacks up, piles over, spills onto whatever is around it. It grows.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

May we all follow these words until the day that final judgement comes.

And may the forgiveness we give, spill over and flood the world around us.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Song: Be Thou my vision (461)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: When we gather as God’s Church, we celebrate the gifts of so many others, for so many centuries, offered in Jesus’ name. Now is our opportunity to join our gifts to theirs, so that God will be praised and Jesus’ love will be spread in this generation and those to come. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Prayer of gratitude

Generous God, you are faithful and fruitful in every generation. Bless our gifts and make them fruitful beyond our imagining in the work of your kingdom. Keep us faithful in this generation so we can offer the inheritance we have received in Christ to the generation that comes after us. Bless the gifts, the givers and those who will receive.

Prayer for others and ourselves

We’re here again, Lord – Your family, in fellowship together
Friends, strangers, colleagues, neighbors
Short, tall, comfortable, and broke
But also as an assortment of your people with one purpose and one aim
To learn from you and to worship you as we learn
Be with us in our diversity
Join us in unity through your love
That we might leave this place
Knowing that we have met not only with each other
But also with you.

All: In the midst of darkness, this world, this country, this city, this street, this place in which we meet, it is your light by which we see all others.

May your light so shine in our lives that others might see you and in seeing you respond – hold out their hand to grasp the flame that cuts through the grime of lives spoiled to show them the beauty of the person within – a person worth forgiveness and grace and love

God of city, town and village, we see you both in the spectacular and in the ordinariness of life – in the beauty of a sunset behind a city skyline and in the selfless giving of time to one in need;

in the tranquility of the dawn and in the chorus and the roar of a jet engine overhead.

Open our eyes that we might always see.

Our skills, our knowledge, our wisdom – all have their origins with you.
Open our minds that we might understand
Our creativity, our art, our poetry, our visual expressions are reflections
of your creativity, your Spirit working in us and around us.
Open our imaginations That we might explore our own creativity

God of all, we were not all born to be billionaires or famous, but we were all born with the potential to become the people whom you would have us be, rich or poor, dirt poor or wealthy you love us all.

Help us to see the potential within the lives of others
Especially those we would not naturally choose as friends or neighbors.

Help us to become the people you would have us be

Help us realize our true potential and theirs as your children of light.

May you, the God of diversity draw us close to each other here today.
Old and young, weak and strong, wise and not always so.

Together we are the body of Christ in this place.
Together we are strong, bound together by the bonds of your care.
Together we can explore the wonder that is humanity (the image of God)
our own uniqueness, our own self-worth (found in and given to us by you).

Be with us now, suffering, ill, well or happy, near or far… all.

And above all Lord, help us to help our neighbours, to judge less, share more, and to allow your forgiveness and grace to spill over from our lives and onto the lives of those around us.

In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Song: We are one in the Spirit (471)

Sending out with God’s blessing

May the love of the Father
the tenderness of the Son
and the presence of the Spirit
gladden your heart
and bring peace to your soul
this day and all days, Amen.

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

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Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring licensing with One Licence (3095377 and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.