A King Broken; A King to be Praised

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Celebration of the Reign of Christ   10:00 am,    20 November 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Kara Little
Elder and Children’s Time: Darlene Eerkes

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: From the routines of work and school, hom and play,
P: we have come to worship God.
L: With the weight of the world heavy on our hearts,
P: we have come to worship God.
L: In the midst of our fears and our hopes,
P: we offer our prayer and praise in Jesus’ name.
L: For we trust in God’s power and presence,
P: so let us worship God with heart, mind, soul and strength. Amen.

Opening praise: I lift my eyes up …

Prayers of approach and confession

Great and holy and sovereign God, your glory is beyond imagination, your majesty infinite, and your power incomparable.

Your grace is strong enough to resurrect all that seems deadly;

your  love is wider than all the universe,

your mercy greater than the heights of heaven,

with our lips we sing your praises,

with our work we give you our days

and with our lives we offer you our worship and our adoration.

Creator, Son, and /Holy Spirit, three in one and one in three, yesterday, today and always.

God of all, you sent Christ to show us the way for your love to reign in our hearts and govern our lives.

We confess that we have not always followed the pattern and path of his life.

When following Christ becomes difficult, we have often followed the devices and desires of our own hearts, favored our ideas over your wisdom, and favored paths of strife instead of peace.

We’ve gone our own way, trapped ourselves in cages we’ve made ourselves and often blamed you instead of owning our sins.

Well today Lord we confess our errors.

We honestly look into our hearts and like any good people we see things we should have done but didn’t and things done that shouldn’t have been.

Forgive us and help us to be faithful to Christ’s example of justice and peace.

Let Him reign through us as we strive to live lives worthy of the name Christian. Amen.

Response: I waited, I waited on You, Lord

Assurance of God’s grace

Our God is the God of Abraham and Sarah, of Rebekah and Isaac, of Jacob and Rachel and Leah. Our God is the God of the Living, and the one who resurrects the dead. Our God is the one who made and kept his promises long ago and continues to do so today. And when he said he will wipe all our sins away, he was honest then too.

For all who confess – we are forgiven.  Amen.

Special Offering: A Christmas Music Medley by Warren Garbutt and Jack Brown (Piano and Clarinet)

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

Story: Puppies for Sale

A farmer had some puppies he wanted to sell. He painted a sign advertising the pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

“Sure,” said the farmer.

And with that he let out a whistle, “Here, Dolly!” he called.  Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly, the mother dog, followed by her four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight as he watched the puppies.

As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball of fur appeared; this One puppy was much smaller than the other puppies. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up….

After a few watching the smaller puppy hobble towards the fence the little boy pointed to the smaller puppy and said, “I want that one.”
The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and that puppy will need Someone who understands.”

Friends – The world is full of all different types of people.  Everyone needs Someone who understands. God understands us and loves each one of us.  God wants us to love everyone else, too – people that are like us and people that are different from us.

(Note: This short story can be found in numerous versions on the Internet.  This version has been slightly adapted from Puppies For Sale, Short Story | Write4Fun

Unison Prayer:  Thank you God for loving me!  Help me to love everyone I meet.  Help me to love people who are the same as me and to love those who are different than me.  Help me to love people who look different than me, people who act different than me and people who believe different than me.  Help me to love everyone because YOU love all of us.  Amen!

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: King of Kings and Lord of Lords (266)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Jeremiah 23:1-6 & Colossians 1:11-20

Message: “A King broken; A King to be praised”

First a silly little story. Far away in the East, high among the mountain forests, there once lived a band of monkeys. One day, when some of the younger monkeys were exploring, they spotted a tree growing on the banks of a river. Its branches were full of the most delicious-looking fruit. It was a mango tree.

“Look,” called the smallest monkey. “A new fruit tree.”

“Stop,” said his big sister. “Don’t eat the fruit; it might be poisonous. Let’s take one back to our king. He’ll know if it’s good for us.”

The monkey king took the golden fruit, sniffed it and then tasted it.
“Umm-HMMHH! Absolutely delicious!” he exclaimed. “Are there any more where this came from?

“Oh yes, hundreds of them,” replied the little one excitedly.

Before long, they found the tree again.

“What a beautiful tree!” said the monkey king. “We could all live here, but we must be careful not to let any fruit drop into the water. If one were carried away down the river to the towns where the humans live, someone might taste it and come looking for this tree. Let us first pick all the fruit that hangs over the river. That way we will be safe.”

For many months, the monkey band lived happily in the fruit tree. Everyone took great care not to drop any fruit into the water. But no one had noticed one last mango hanging just over the rivers’ edge. One night, while everyone slept, a breeze stirred the branches and, unseen by anyone, the mango fell into the water and drifted downstream.

Some days later, the king of the humans was bathing in the river when one of his men spotted the mango. The king picked up the fruit and wondered what it was.

“Here, taste that!” he ordered one of his guards. “It’s very good, your majesty,” replied the guard, taking a bite. No sooner had the king tasted the fruit himself than he wanted more. “I want to find that fruit tree,” he said greedily. “It must be somewhere upriver. You will make a raft and find it.”

In the mountain forest, the monkeys rested in the shade of the mango tree. Suddenly, the little monkey called out; he had seen the raft approaching with the king and his soldiers on board.

The king ordered his men to pick all the fruit while he rested in the shade of the tree. Hidden among the leaves above, the monkeys watched silently, waiting for the humans to go.

“It’s been a long day,” said the king. “Prepare a bed for me. We’ll stay here tonight.”

“Oh no!” whispered the monkey king. “We’ll have to stay hidden. You little ones must try very hard to be still and quiet.”

Then, just as the human king settled down to sleep, he looked up and spotted a tail hanging down. “There are monkeys in MY tree!” he shouted. “They’ll eat all my fruit! Quickly! Light some fires. Tomorrow, we can have roast monkey with our fruit.”

Hidden in the leaves above, the monkeys were very frightened. But…

“Don’t be afraid,” said the monkey king. “I have a plan.”

The monkey king raced along the branch which hung over the river and, with one mighty bound, sailed through the air, landing on the other side. Quickly he pulled at a very long creeper and tied one end around his waist and the other to the nearest tree. Then the monkey king leapt back towards the mango tree. But the creeper wasn’t quite long enough, and he could only just catch the tip of the branch in his hands.

The other monkeys watched in horror as their kind king hung in mid-air over the river. “Come quickly!” the monkey king whispered. “Walk the babies across. I shall be your bridge to safety. Silently, the monkeys crept along the branch to safety and across their kind king’s back.

……………………………….

Colossae was a city in what is now present day Turkey. At the time Paul and Timothy wrote this letter they had never visited it. But Paul does mention his intentions of visiting in his letter to Philemon. Apparently, though, Paul had heard about some of the troubling issues that the people had in Colossae and that these problems were becoming more and more common for the people there. Members of the congregation at Colossae had begun incorporating pagan elements into their worship practices, including worshiping of elemental spirits.

And so in once since the Epistle to the Colossians is really quite simple. Stop worshiping other Gods. Paul declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives worthy of  “the only true God and King” whom could ever be needed. Or as Paul’s also puts it in Philippians, “The God who can supply all of our needs” thus leaving no reason for any other.

The Colossians are typical people however. They want what they want and they want it right away. Because of the kind of culture they were raised in, if God didn’t grant their prayers quite fast enough, they simply added another god into the mix and asked them both, sort of like a child being told “no” by the mother only to go ask the father for the same thing; hoping for a more desirable answer.

Most of the time, when we read our bibles we tend to look at the stories as outsiders. Sometimes that just means that we don’t really understand all of the context they were written in. Other times though we just read it with a sense of Temporal/Chronological snobbery. Instead of judging something by the standards of its own context we judge it by our own. And that’s quite unfair.

Judged by today’s standards Abraham Lincoln said some truly sickeningly racist things. But when judged by his own time we come to quite a different view of him. We have the benefit of seeing things from a better vantage point, and it can be easy to judge earlier Christians unfairly. It’s easy to think, “how silly of those people back then in that congregation in Turkey to think they could jump back and forth from Jesus to the local river god, to fire worship and then back to Jesus again”. But really are we so much better? Now it’s true, maybe we don’t get upset with Jesus and automatically turn to Xenu to answer all of our prayers but we’re far from perfect. At least I am.

[Xenu is a figure in the Church of Scientology’s secret “Advanced Technology, a sacred and esoteric teaching. According to the “Technology,” Xenu was the extraterrestrial ruler of a “Galactic Confederacy” who brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as “Teegeeack”) in DC-8-like spacecraft 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs.

Source: Wikipedia]

When a lot of us don’t get what we want from God, don’t feel like our prayers are answered, or find His ways too difficult, don’t we also try and short cut it, turn to self, or food; give all our time to TV, all our devotion to our jobs or political affiliations or maybe we just replace God with Righteous Indignation as we rant about the things that anger us; under the guise of love. Don’t we all trade worshiping God for other things from time to time?

In a question and answer period after one of his lectures, C.S. Lewis was asked which of the world’s religions gives its followers the greatest happiness. Lewis paused and said, “While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is best for making us happy.”

Worshiping self. Don’t we do that every single time we chose to do something our own way instead of God’s? Isn’t that what sin in – self worship. The idea that what we want is more important than what God wants for us.

We make idols out of all kinds of things. Colossae is not alone. Paganism is alive and well. John Calvin in fact once famously wrote, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

As a friend of mine once said, “We worship the supreme ruler of the universe and I trade him in for a football game once a month.”

Paul writes, this great prayer for his readers, that they (and so also we) might live lives worthy of the gift given to us in Christ Jesus. And adds,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. [Colossians 1:11] And what he’s talking about is patience enough not to jump off the Jesus train every time something else seems appealing.

No we aren’t strong. But the King is. Because God is patient with us while we aren’t patient with Him. Because it was God; the Father of Jesus Christ who should be turned to in times of trouble. Because for Paul it is only God; the Father of Jesus Christ who can bring his people out of darkness.

Paul writes: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:13-14]

In 2004 a story was printed in The Cape Times, a paper in Cape Town, South Africa. It goes like this: A South African man surprised nine men who were robbing his home. Eight of the robbers got away but the homeowner managed to shove one man into his backyard pool.

However, after realizing the robber couldn’t swim, the homeowner became overcome with guilt and dove into the water to rescue the criminal. Once out of the pool the thief yelled to his friends to come back. Then he pulled a knife and threatened the man who had just saved his life.

And at that, the homeowner pushed the man back into the water again.

Luckily for us that is not how our God deals with us. He rescues us and we immediately turn on him. But he just keeps rescuing us.

Our God gives us infinite chances. He is the one in whom we have redemption; the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:14] And we always will.

…………………………………………….

Just as the last monkey crossed to safety, a soldier spotted the monkey king hanging over the river. He was holding on but barely. He looked beaten. The monkey king was unable to move; over a hundred of his subjects had now climbed to safety but his back was now broken. He was frozen in place; in intense pain.

“Roast monkey for breakfast!” said the soldier, taking aim with his arrow.

But just then a voice called out which could not be ignored. “STOP! DON’T SHOOT!” called the king of men. From his comfortable bed under the tree, he had seen everything. He had seen how the brave monkey king had given his life to save his people. Jumping up, he got onto the raft and paddled out to the middle of the river as quickly as he could. And when the monkey king collapsed and fell, the king of humans gently caught his body.

“Why did you make a bridge out of your own body you little fool? Why did you do that knowing that you might be caught?” asked the king of men.

And at that the kind monkey king smiled a giant monkey smile. “My monkeys are safe now. And that is all that matters. If you want to be a good king, you must be willing to do the same.”

With these words, the monkey king closed his eyes and died; a full heart and a body broken.

[Source: https://sacred-texts.com/bud/j3/j3108.htm Based on Jataka stories in Buddhism]

This is the kind of king we have, and yet how much better?

Today is the last Sunday in the church calendar year. This is Christ the King Sunday when we celebrate a King like no other:

A King who needs no help from other gods.

A King who reins supreme.

The king who strengthens us by His might. Who has rescued us from darkness and fear of death.

The King who brings redemption and forgiveness, who makes the bridge and takes His people to paradise and freedom.

The King we are impatient with, in whose faith we often wane and yet the king that never gives up on us.

A King that deserves our unwavering Patience, our Endurance, and our Devotion.

The King, that rules with sacrifice.

This is the God we are told to serve. The kind King who brings peace by his blood. The only kind of king we should ever want. A King… broken. A king to be praised.

Thanks be to the King of all Creation – Amen.

Song: Jesu, Jesu, fill us with Your love {229)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. 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

God of grace, it is our delight and our devotion to give these gifts to you.
All we are and all we have are yours alone.
Accept this joyful offering as a token of our abiding love.
Use it to bring peace, justice, and comfort to all the world.

Prayer for others and ourselves

As the shepherd cares for the flock, O God, you guide all things and your kingdom comes near. Hear the prayers we offer in Christ’s name for the world he came for, loved, died and rose for.

We thank you for your saving good news, heard and seen in the lives of your prophet and your son.  Let your word transform our thinking, our prayers, our actions, and your world.  Where justice is bent for the purposes of profit, where law and peace are scarce, where your creation and people are abused, let your kingdom come.

We praise you for the mystery of your presence among us; for your loving kindness, the guiding of your spirit, the presence of Christ in our communities, your inspiring wisdom, and the learning and fellowship we gain from each other.

Bless this congregation and all communities that gather to worship you.  Where the church is divided, heal it; where it is tempted by idolatry of thought or expression, reform it; where it is forgetful, call it again to faithful witness.

Bless those who offer leadership in worship, but also artists, musicians, and poets, elders, teachers, and those who serve quietly in ways few know. And let your kingdom come.

We give you thanks for Christ, the ruler of our lives.  Give us the courage and grace to handle power with kindness, to seek not hate but love, to have leadership with understanding, and strength tempered by patience.  We pray for those who form our laws and who keep them and all who serve you.  Transform governments and leaders so that a just and caring society is created, and flourishes, and let your kingdom come.

Lord, we know your love for us in Jesus Christ. Let us share this will all who will hear. And let your kingdom come. Amen.

Song: Lord, the light of You love (Shine on me) (376)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go this day in joy and in peace, to love and to serve the Lord and one another.  And may the blessing of God who is gracious and kind; the Creator, Christ, and Spirit; descend upon you this day and remain within you forever. Amen

Response: Amen! Amen! We praise Your name, O Lord

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.