What good are you? (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
05 February 2023 @ 10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Bob Calder & Lydia Calder
Music Director: Binu Kapadia           Vocalist: Vivian Houg
Elder: Iris Routledge

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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

Lydia: Good morning, everyone.  It’s nice for Bob and I to be here this morning. , in spite of the sad circumstances that have brought us here. Bob and I are returned to the Dayspring fold this morning.  It has been many months since we’ve been at Dayspring.  Bob and I are older, hopefully, a little bit wiser, and one us is much less agile than he used to be.

About 3 days after Bob said “yes” to Brad about leading worship today he discovered an infection in his foot and was later diagnosed with a rare foot condition. So, he is not supposed to be on his feet at all.  And that is why I am leading most of the service this morning.  Bob will be doing Communion, mostly from a sitting position.

Life can be hard.  But our God is always good.  And so we come to him with hearts full of praise.

Our Call to Worship is taken from Is 58: 1-12, which will be read in a little while.

Call to Worship
L: Shout to the Lord…
P: with justice and love.
L: Cry out to God…
P: for righteousness and truth.
L: Sound the trumpet…
P: of compassion and grace.
L: Shout to the Lord…
P: with justice and love!

Opening praise: Love the Lord your God

Prayers of approach and confession

Holy God, Three in One, we come before you this day in awe of your majesty and power.  Great Creator, who illumined this world with sun and moon and stars, shine upon us this morning that we may behold your glory and glimpse your wisdom.  Blessed Redeemer, may we sense your sacrificial love flowing through us that we may be filled with your compassion and grace. Holy Spirit, breathe upon us that we may have the courage to proclaim the good news and be instruments of change in this world.

We call on you, O God, crying out for the strength to walk in your ways and live in your truth. We know that we should not turn away from the faces of pain and poverty in our community, and yet we do. We know that we should not ignore oppression and injustice in the world, but we feel so inadequate and unqualified  that we do nothing. We know that we should be crying out to you for the anguish of humanity, but selfishly whimper about our own needs instead.  Forgive our neglect. Forgive our inattention. Forgive our selfish cries.

In the name of the Saviour we pray.

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Friends, God hears the confessions of our hearts and forgives generously. It is through God’s amazing grace that we are given new life, new gifts, and new purposes. Let us go forth as new people sharing God’s message of hope and love.

Song: Lord, whose love (772)

We listen for the voice of God

Scripture readings (NRSV): Isaiah: 58:1-12 and Matthew. 5:13-20

Response: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “What good are you?”

One of the things I’ve done off and on since I was in my teens is publish church newsletters.  Way back then when people used typewriters rather than word processors there was no such thing as cut and paste or changing font size. If there was a gap somewhere an editor would use a small quip or saying called a filler.

I used lot of fillers over the years, and most have been long forgotten.  But this one has stuck with me: “Some Christians are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”

That little phrase came to mind as I read today’s gospel lesson. Jesus said,  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…”

Hence, the title of today’s sermon – What good are you?

Our New Testament text today is Part 2 of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is speaking to his disciples. These teachings are based on who Christ is, what he does for us and who we are as a result. This is not generic advice on how to live a nice life. It is rooted in Christ and our identity in him.

Salt is a necessity of life and is a mineral that has been used since ancient times.  In many cultures it has multiple uses: a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and even a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify, loyalty, durability, purification, value, and usefulness. There is a lot of symbolism packed in that one 4 letter word.

Following Jesus makes us distinctly useful in the world. Walking with Christ sets us apart and makes us who we are. As we embrace that distinctiveness, we have something very special to offer. When we add salt to food we can taste the difference. In the same way Christians should add flavour to relationships, to communities, to culture.

We have a neighbour who is a Christian.  He tells people that. But whatever his personal piety may be and however he conducts himself on a Sunday morning, he rubs people the wrong way. He is opinionated, especially about politics and pushes other people to get on board with his agenda. He is critical and demanding, expecting that everyone’s yard should come up to his standards. He pits neighbours against one another in an effort to freeze certain people out.

He is more like vinegar than salt.

And while there are uses for vinegar, we are not called upon to be vinegar in this world we are called to be salt and light.

When people interact with us, can they tell there is something different about us? Like in a good way? That would be our saltiness as a Christian. The Christian faith flavors and accents our lives.

In the parallel passage in Mark 9:50 we gain a little more insight into what this saltiness is. There Jesus says: “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” Being at peace with one another–that is part of our saltiness. The world is full of conflict and strife. People bear grudges against one another and don’t let go.

But Christians are all about forgiveness and peace. God has forgiven us for Christ’s sake. So we forgive one another. God has made peace with us by the cross of Christ. So we seek peace with others.  We reflect the character of our God when we seek and make peace.

Looking at Colossians 4:6  Paul writes: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Here saltiness has to do with the way we speak. Our speech needs to be seasoned with wisdom and grace.  Because the fruit of the Spirit tempers our tongues we speak differently. We guard against harsh, angry, or unwise words. Again, this is what gives us our salty distinctiveness as disciples of Jesus.

Turning to the Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 58 the Israelites have asked of God, “Why have we fasted, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?”

Well, the answer comes, and I read here selected verses from the translation called The Message: “ The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.

Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility?

To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black?

Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?”

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.

What I’m interested in seeing you do is:   sharing your food with the hungry,   inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,   being available to your own families.

“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins… If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down and out…Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness.”

The call for social justice resounds throughout this passage in sharp contrast to empty rituals, in this case,  fasting. It also gives clear descriptions of how to create a different social environment where justice rules.

In prophetic passages like this the church today still finds its mandate to call on its own resources and on political leaders for a realistic concern for the poor, the oppressed and the homeless.  That too is the way we demonstrate our saltiness.

I don’t think many Presbyterians fast.  I certainly don’t.  But we do have certain observances and practices that we see as part of our devotion to God. And we must watch carefully that those do not become empty rituals.

As we come to Communion this morning, we need ask ourselves, “What is my saltiness quotient?”

When I was a child the preamble for communion included a line that said that those who were out of fellowship with other Christians should repair those relationships before coming to The Lord’s Table.  That line was removed, probably partly because most of us would have to excuse ourselves because there is bound to be someone we are out of sync with. And it shouldn’t be a requirement of communion anyway.

But there is food for thought there because we come confessing our sins and acknowledging our need for a Saviour.  Yet are we ourselves people of forgiveness and peace? Do our words reflect the purposes of Jesus? Do our actions work toward freeing the oppressed, welcoming the refugee, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless?

Jesus said to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” This is not a command or an instruction. He is not telling us that we should be the salt of the earth. It is simply a statement of fact. “You are the salt of the earth.” Yes, he raises the question of whether or not we are effective salt.

But there is no plan B.

Whether we like it or not…for better or for worse… we are the salt of the earth.

Song: When the poor ones (762)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Dayspring is involved in many ministries within this congregation and in the community and in the wider world.  Such work is a reflection, not just of this Christian community, but of each individual within it.

We are the salt of the earth.  We are the light of the world. Our commitment to God’s work is apparent in our attitude, in our behaviour and in our generosity.








And now let us come before God with our prayers of thanks and intercession…

Prayer of gratitude

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a constant companion every step of every day, that you see our going out and our coming in. We thank you for the work that you have provided for us and for the protection you give us on our daily journeys.  We thank you for things to do, friends to meet and all the pleasures we enjoy.  We thank you for clothes to wear, food to eat, a home from which we go out and return, and for the loved ones that bring us joy and take thought for our needs. May we never take for granted all the things which come to us so regularly each day and may we ever remember you, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Lord, Isaiah’s words continue to echo in our minds…  So we think of those who are oppressed, subjugated, victimized, people who have little power according to the world’s measurement of power. Defend the cause of the poor, deliver those in need, put an end to oppression and save those who are in harm’s way this day.

We pray for the powerful of this world, whether they be in government or in business, that they may lead with justice and compassion, choosing the common good over personal or political gain.

God of comfort and strength we pray for those… who are overwhelmed with personal darkness this day: who feel rejected or excluded because they are different; who are unemployed or burdened with financial difficulties; who are living with physical sickness that leave them in pain or dependency; who are plagued with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. We pray for those who are estranged from one another, for those who struggle to make friends and live with loneliness, for those whose homes are conflict zones.   We remember the bereaved, especially thinking of Brad Childs and his family in the loss of Roy. Please grant comfort and hope to all who mourn.

Stretch us, O God, expand our horizons that we are able to see the wonderful ways you are at work in this world. Send us out, to be the salt of the earth, to be the light of the world, that we  may work with you in bringing peace, hope, justice and grace to this world. We pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion


In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I invite to this Table all who are members of Christ’s body.

This is the Lord’s Table and belongs by right to all his people.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;

for they will be filled.” Matt.5:6.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28, 29.

Song: You satisfy the hungry heart (538)

We affirm our faith: The Apostles Creed (539)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (469)

Declaration: We come to the Lord’s supper together.

We are gathered here in the Sanctuary and via zoom from west and east, north and south.

The resurrected Jesus revealed himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread around a table.

May we see His face today as we come to the Lord’s Supper.

Communion Prayer: O God, you are before all things; You are beyond all things. In the midst of all things and all peoples you have made yourself known.

In Jesus of Nazareth, is compassion for the outcast, forgiveness for the fallen,
hope for the poor and hungry; in his life poured out for others
and broken in rejection and disdain you have made yourself known.

Therefore, we join our praises with countless men and women before us, disciples and apostles, saints and martyrs, acclaiming your power in goodness and your might in compassion.

We greet the one who comes in your name, your true light, your true love, the bread of compassion, the wine of renewal.

As he broke bread before the brokenness of his death, as he poured out wine before his blood was poured out on the cross, as he gave his life in acts of goodness, as he invited all to the feast of new hope, so come to us, Jesus, in your love.

Come to us, Holy Spirit, and let the bread and wine before us be your life in our life, nourish us with his vision of hope, and unite us in one body.

Nourish us with your brokenness.

Renew us with your poured out life.

Empower us with your strength, that we may take root in your risen life and bear fruit in your world.

You are our life;
You are our hope;
You are our peace;
And we praise you.

In Christ’s name we pray. Amen

Sharing of the bread and wine

On the night he was handed over, the night before he was crucified,
Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal.
He took the bread, and after blessing it,
he broke it, saying,
“This is my body, which is broken for you.
As often as you eat it, remember me.”

Jesus, as we take this bread, let it be a sign of all you did for us, and who you are for us.

Thank you for this bread of life. In your name we pray. Amen

Offering of the bread

The body of Christ given for you.

The bread of heaven

After sharing the bread,
Jesus took a cup of wine, and gave it to them to drink, saying,
“This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many.”

Prayer: Jesus, as we drink this cup, let it be a sign for us of all you did for us,
and who you are for us.

Thank you that you bring us peace that passes understanding.

In Jesus’ Holy name we pray. Amen

Offering of the cup

The blood of Christ, the cup of the new covenant.

The cup of salvation

Song: One bread, one body (540)

The prayer after Communion

Jesus, through your death and resurrection you reconciled the world to God, and through your example you have shown us a way to peace.

Give us strength to be channels of peace in the world, speaking your peace, living your peace, and always longing for that moment of eternal peace when we shall see you again.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Worship the Lord vs’s 1,2,4,5 (555)

Sending out with God’s blessing

You are the light of world! You are the salt of the earth!

Go, with compassion, mercy and grace. Go, with confidence, strength and hope.

Shine, for all the world to see!

And may the grace and peace of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you both now and forever more. Amen.

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

Music postlude


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. Bob Calder and Lydia Calder retain the copyright (© 2023) on all original material presented by them. As far as they are aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is their own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Support the Hurting (Raymond Baker)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
10:00 am, 29 January 2023
3Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by Raymond Baker
Children’s time: Lynn Vaughan
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Sam Malayang

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: Loving God, we come this morning seeking to abide in your presence.
P: Open our minds to your spirit of wisdom, that we may know how to live as your people.
L: Open our hearts to your spirit of truth,
P: that we may love all your people with a love that speaks of justice, kindness, and radical grace.
L: May this time of worship be authentic and pleasing to you.
P: In Jesus name we prayer. Amen

Opening praise: Lord, I need You

Prayers of approach and confession

Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

Response: I waited, I waited on You, Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Lord, you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. You have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is your loving kindness toward us who fear You. As far as the east is from the west, You, Lord God, removed our transgressions from us because of the Atoning Work of the Cross–if we believe that because you died for our sins– we will inherit eternal life. You did all this because you love us. Thank you, In Jesus Name we pray.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)


Good morning, everyone, good morning. How are we today?

Welcome to all the children that are here in the sanctuary and to those who are on ZOOM.

Welcome to all the people that are young at heart.

So I wanted to share with you something that I got recently that I thought you might like. It’s a candle holder.

Do you have any candle holders at your house?

Now let me put a candle in it, and we’ll see if it works.

Here’s my candle. Safety first. Alright!

Now, how does it look?

Can you see the candle? Isn’t it so pretty?

So, we’re going to pretend that it smashed on the ground.

What would you do if you had this beautiful candle holder and it smashed into pieces, but you still wanted to use it

What could you do? Do you see what I dd?

I glued it together so now let’s try and put our candle inside and see if we can see it all right.

Can you see it? I’m telling you it would look a lot better if the lights were off in the sun wasn’t shining.

Here’s a better one that Mr. Baker lit with the Christ candle.

We will see if that shines brighter.

Can you see that better?

Okay, so this reminds me of people, because sometimes there are people in the world that think they’re kind of perfect and they don’t have any cracks in them.

But all of us are a little bit broken.

Can you think of what would make somebody broken?

Give me an example of why, someone might think they’re broken.

Could they maybe be sad?

Yes, maybe something’s going on in their life that’s making them sad.

Maybe they got hurt.

Maybe they broke a bone so they’re actually broken.

What else?

What else could make somebody feel like they’re broken inside themselves.

Maybe their friends don’t want to play with them.

Maybe they’ve done something they weren’t supposed to do, and they know that they have some sin, that they have to deal with.

So this example of this broken candle holder is just a reminder that sometimes, when we’re feeling like we’re broken and we’re sad, or we’re sick, that maybe we need God to pick up those pieces of our lives and kind of put us back together.

So just a reminder that even people that feel broken can shine.

God’s light can come out even more beautiful on the other side.

So let’s pray, and you can repeat after me, okay.


Dear God, when we are feeling broken,

Please pick up the pieces of our lives,

and wrap them in your loving arms.

So that we can shine your light more beautifully than before.

Now together we’ll say the prayer that Jesus taught us ….

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: We lay our broken world (202)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Acts 6:1-4

Gradual: Jesus, remember me

Message: “Support the hurting”

Good morning, Dayspring! I am so happy to be here with you today. I went to seminary with Reverend Brad and believe that you are blessed to have such a kind and Christ focused minister.

To begin, I have a question for you. Do you know someone who is hurting, because of the death of a loved one, or a diagnosis of cancer, maybe someone who is feeling isolated, or someone who is just getting over a traumatic event? I believe all of us know someone who is hurting or we may be hurting.

As Christians what do we do for those that are hurting?

This morning I would like to address ways that we as Christians can help those who are facing a difficult time in their lives. Today I will talk about Stephen Ministry and how we all can help.

My wife and I are Stephen Ministers at Greenfield Community Church located just down the road from here and we are very excited about the partnership going on between our two churches. One of the ways our churches are partnered is through Stephen Ministry.

This ministry is designed for lay people to actively help those going through a tough life circumstance. It is realistic to say that every church has congregants in need of someone to come alongside them for a period of time. Usually, Church leaders are the first to help, but many times the person needs support for a long period of time and on a consistent basis. Church leaders are simply too busy to provide this type of care to everyone who is hurting.

This is where church volunteers who become trained Stephen ministers can help. These individuals participate in fifty hours of Stephen ministry training. Stephen ministers learn how to guide their care receiver to make process-oriented goals in a Christ centred manner. This congregation is blessed to have three trained Stephen ministers: Nesta, Martin and Iris.

Now let’s look at why training is important and how we all can help those who are hurting.

Who here has heard, “God does not give you more than you can handle?” This is a notion I have heard many times from well-meaning Christians. However, this is not what the Bible says. It may be loosely based on 1 Corinthians 10:13 that reads like this:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

Many people misinterpret this verse to mean that God will not let bad things happen in life that we cannot handle. Such an interpretation contradicts Paul’s later writings found in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 where he said he experienced hardship in Asia where he personally was under great pressure, far beyond his ability to endure it, so he despaired of life itself. God allowed Paul, and allows us to experience difficulties that are too much for us to bear so we lean on God for strength, and do not rely on ourselves. 2 Corinthians 1:10 states, He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again.(NIV) On him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us. It is always God who we rely on.

In the past, I have worked in palliative care centres as a chaplain. There, I often heard people trying to provide comfort, yet what they said was not supportive to the one hurting. For example, saying to someone in despair, “She is in a better place now.” Can you imagine if my wife, whom I love, died and someone said to me, “Oh don’t worry, she is in a better place now.”? My question would be: “Was the place with me not a good place?”

Or another example is, “At least she is not suffering now.”  Often this is not helpful. If I have lost someone I love and the speaker is focusing on the dead person being in heaven, leaving me behind, I do not feel better. I am devastated that my loved one is not here. My suggestion would be to say to the bereaved that “I, personally, will continue to pray for you and your family at this time.” This is a larger statement for the one grieving as it assures them that you will petition God for them, because it may be hard for them to pray and it points them to God.

Proverbs 25:20 states: Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. (NIV)

Dr. Kenneth C. Hauck, the founder of Stephen Ministry explains it well when he says that this proverb describes an all-too-human problem each of us faces from time to time. We want to reach out and help those who are hurting—but the words or actions we use may unintentionally add to their burden instead of easing their pain. As Stephen Ministers we are trained to offer Christ-Centred support.[1]

Who was this Stephen that Stephen Ministry is named after?

Stephen is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community, those that were discriminated against and were mostly widows who were in the early church.

Let me read from Acts 6.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews [those that had adopted the Greek way of life] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; … They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (NIV)

Similarly, Church and Stephen leaders today chose mature Christians to become trained as Stephen ministers to bring the love of Christ to those that are hurting. They were also chosen so as to allow the early church leaders time to preach and teach the Word of God just like the present day Stephen Ministry frees up the ministers in the church to preach and teach.

God not only uses Stephen Ministers to help the hurting, he uses all of us. He invites us to come alongside him as he works in peoples’ lives. We can’t forget the lesson from Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10:25-37 on who our neighbour is. This is where he describes a man who is beaten up and left at the side of the road and is ultimately helped by a Samaritan. The lesson was that the Samaritan was “the good neighbour” by helping a hurt man. Another lesson we can take from this story is that we are to help those that are hurting no matter who they are.

In Galatians 6:2 it states, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. We can assume that Paul or whoever wrote Galatians indicates that we should help bear one another’s burdens.

Many years ago, there was a professor of theology dying at the University Hospital who could not leave his bed. Throughout the day he would take an interest in the lives and struggles of the workers that came to help him. Workers were literally taking their breaks to come and see him not because he was some kind of guru, rather he showed the love of Christ to others, listened to them and in some cases prayed for them. This professor made a big impact from his hospital bed. He is an example of how God can use us to bring the love of Christ to those in our circles. We all can be like that professor by listening to others and offering prayer.

In conclusion, I believe that Stephen ministry has helped so many people since it began in 1975. There is always a need for Stephen Ministers, so if you feel God is calling you to this ministry, please call the church office. If you are hurting or know anyone who is hurting and could use a Stephen’s Minister please contact the church office as well.

Many years ago I attended a church with a pastor named AI. He would end his sermons with homework for the congregation. So, our homework for this week is to remember that the Bible makes it clear that we need to give a cup of water to others in the name of Christ. (Mark 9:41) We can be the light on a hill, or a cup of water to a dark world for hurting people. Listen and offer prayer for the people God puts on your path. Amen.

Song: When we are living (630)

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.


Prayer of gratitude and prayer for others and ourselves

Lord God, we thank you for your grace and mercy. We thank you for dying on the cross while we were still sinners.

Lord, make us an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us bring love.

Where there is offence, let us bring pardon.

Where there is discord, let us bring union.

Where there is error, let us bring the truth.

Where there is doubt, let us bring faith.

Where there is despair, let us bring hope.

Where there is darkness, let us bring your light.

Where there is sadness, let us bring joy.

O Master, let us not seek as much

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love,

for it is in giving that one receives,

it is in self-forgetting that one finds,

it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,

It is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.[2]

We thank you for all who volunteer in this Church.

Lord God, we pray that all of us can receive your Word here in this service, including those that are watching or reading this service.  We pray for our leaders in this city, province and country. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

Song: Lord of all hopefulness (748)

Sending out with God’s blessing

May the Lord give you strength, compassion, and joy to be the light of Christ in a dark world. May the Lord help you to restore the broken hearted and encourage the hurting. May the God of love and peace be with you now and forever. Amen.[3]

Response: The Blessing

Music postlude


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.

[1] Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart by Kenneth C. Hauk Ph.D.

[2] Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (translated)

[3] Based on 2 Corinthians 13:11 and Matthew 5:14-16

The Copper Kettle

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Third Sunday after Epiphany
10:00 am, 22 January 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering
as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Darlene Eerkes and Fionna McCrostie
Children’s time: Fionna
Service Material prepared by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalists: Sam & Ann May Malayang
Elder: Gina Kottke

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: O God, our light and our salvation, shelter us in your love.
P: O God, our stronghold, protect us from danger.
L: We come with shouts of joy to worship you this day.
P: We come with song and music to celebrate your love.
L: We come with longing to seek your presence.
P: Be with us now, O God, as we sing your praises. Amen.

Opening praise: O come to the alter

 Prayers of approach and confession

Our Holy God, You give us so much.

You surround us with good things. You fill our lives with meaning and families and friends. You provide for our every need and by the sacrifice of your son you prove that your grace abounds, and your love has no limits to which you will not go.

But as perfect as you are, we, who call ourselves Yours, are just as imperfect as ever.

Lord, we have spent too much time worrying about our work and not enough time being thankful to be employed.

We spend too much time worrying about money when compassion should be our currency.

We have eaten meals and taken too much and tossed out food wastefully when we know that others are literally starving. We’ve considered it normal.

We’ve said things we didn’t mean, or things we meant only momentarily without any real considerations.

We have hurt people we claim to love. And other we don’t love but shove try harder too.

We have made assumptions and judged others wrongly.

We have fought and forgotten that sometimes peace with each other is better than being right.

We have neglected to read your written word and we prayed for self, more than for those who need it most.

We have strayed from the right things to do sometimes on purpose because it was just easier, sometimes on accident because we just weren’t thinking. Yet in all of them, you already offered your sacrifice on our behalf. You already secured our forgiveness. The price paid for each one paid long ago on a cross. And so lastly Lord we these two words: “Thank you”. Amen.

Gradual: We come to ask Your forgiveness, O Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ died on the cross innocent of any wrongs, taking away the sins of the world as a perfect and eternal sacrifice. Our sins are not our own. They were nailed to the cross with Christ. We are forgiven in Him.  Now let His light shine in and though you for all the world to see. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)

Story: God chooses us first

Who here has played dodge ball?

I have. I remember when I was your age, I had a really hard day at school, one day, because I got picked last for Dodge Ball.

They would pick 2 team leaders and the 2 team leaders got to pick who was on their team. They still do that.

I used to get picked pretty early, since I was pretty good at catching the ball. (I like to be the goalie in soccer.)

But everyone found out that I have trouble paying attention when more than one ball is flying at me. I just freeze. So it was actually pretty easy to get me out.

So after the other kids realized that, I got chosen last, which hurt my feelings.

But I remembered something very important.

We are chosen first by God. We are God’s favorites.

God picks us first every time.

That might not work in dodgeball, but it does in the kingdom of heaven.

You are God’s favorite, and I’m God’s favorite.

The Bible says that we are God’s special possessions, and that he has called us to shine His light in this dark world.

So let’s never forget that we are chosen by God.

Perhaps the light Jesus sheds on our world can help us to see things the way God sees them, so we can celebrate everyone.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for choosing us first. Thank you for choosing your light on us. And help us to shine your light on us, and help us to shine your light on others, and help us to shine your light on others in your name.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)


Transition music

Song: Holy, Holy, Holy (623)

Today’s Message

Scripture reading: Exodus 34:29-35

Transition Music: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: The Copper Kettle

General Charles Krulak wrote this as the introduction to his opening prayer at Wheaton College in October of 2000. It was the first time he had spoken of the incident publicly.

“25 years ago, I was a young second lieutenant who is just married after graduating from the Naval Academy. My wife and I went down to Quantico, Virginia, home of the school where officers learn about honor and courage and commitment. I shared my room with another married officer, John Listerman, who was a Christian. That meant basically nothing to me at the time except that John seemed a nice fellow. Because of John, I guess, all of this Christian stuff seems pretty good, not because I knew much about it, but because of what I knew of John.

“After graduating from basic training, John and I went to Camp Pendleton, California, where we joined the same battalion preparing to go to Vietnam. I saw John Listerman as a tremendous leader who was technically proficient in a way I had never seen before. What’s more, the men loved him. He was committed to his troops, and they knew it. He was what we call a Marine’s Marine. He was what we all aspired to be.

“In December 1965, John and I finally made it into the war zone. John Listerman’s war, however, lasted only 13 hours. While on our first patrol moving through the jungle, we came around a corner in the trail and ran into an ambush. John took a 50 caliber round to his left kneecap which exploded immediately. He fell on the ground in absolute agony. A second round hit him at the base of his heart and then exited from his side. I too was wounded but only barely. As the men backed out, I crawled forward about 30 meters to the front of the line to find John; to see if I could perhaps offer him a tube of morphine. But before I could say anything he saw me and he asked, ‘Are you okay.’ And then louder and more afraid, ‘Are you okay?’

“I didn’t know what to say and so I just said ‘yes.’ He continued without breaking asking ‘Are my men ok Chuck?… are they okay, are they safe now?’

“Again, I simply gave him the truth as quickly as I possibly could – they were in fact okay (we were the only two injured and I not that badly).

“As soon as he was sure his men were all right, he exhaled a huge sigh of relief, and a giant smile came across his face as he looked up into the sky and said the words that I will never forget. Bleeding from a hole in his side, still in danger of death with one leg left he said, ‘thank you Lord.’ ‘Thank you for caring for me my whole life through.’ ‘And thank you now for making me first in line around the corner.’ At that moment I (Charles Krulak) knew little of Christ, but I knew John, and so I knew too, that like him, I would also be a Christian.” (1001 Ill, pg75)[1]

In the reading from Exodus, we have this strange scene. It is actually the second time Moses has come down from Mt. Sanai with the tablets of the Ten Commandments. These are the replacements for the first set; Moses broke physically in response to people’s breaking of the first two literally as they bowed down before the golden calf.

Now in the story it says that the glory of God reflected upon Moses’ face after meeting with the Lord. And the way it is put has confused and confounded people for years. On a plain English reading it says clearly that Moses had an encounter with God and as a result of that, his face physically glowed with light. If you have ever seen a religious painting or a picture of an angel, that is what the Halo around their heads is supposed to be depicting. It’s supposed to be an emanating light from someone who has had an encountered God.

Now the Hebrew words here are really and oddly specific. It says that it is the actual skin of Moses’ face that glows and that it shone with Karen “radianceor “rays of light.”

Now in an odd twist of fate this verse was translated from Hebrew and into Latin for the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible that the Catholic Church deemed to be a perfect translation. This was the only official translation of scripture that they allowed to exist. In fact, many early protestant leaders were executed because they chose to translate the Bible into English or French or German. That was a serious crime you see, because God (they said) had already handed down to the Holy Roman Church a perfect edition.

But here is one big problem with that. When this verse about Moses was translated into Latin, the translator took the very literal meaning of karan (for “rays of light”). And the exact word for word of that in Latin, which would be “and his skin grew horns”.

See the phrase kanan was a figurative description of the tops of the flickering flames (horns of light). And so, when the phrase was written in Latin it translated karan as “Moses’ face grew horns”.

Unfortunately, this “perfect” translation of this morning’s text, then led to the very rampant belief all throughout the Middle Ages (and especially in France) that Jews had horns. Interestingly if you have ever seen Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, you might recall seeing that his Moses has two short horns atop his head. So much for God’s perfect Latin translation. Luckily the Roman Catholic Church officials allowed another translation of this verse to be considered authoritative… after just 500 some years.

Now, a little closer to the source it might be worth nothing that in ancient Mesopotamian literature there was a concept called “fearless radiance” which suggests that after meeting a deity a person would shine with light and so have to hide their face. Thus, certain religious priests wore special masks while meeting their gods. Because of this, some have suggested that this portion of the story exists as a form of anti-myth polemic… which is a fancy of to say, “an insult”. See if the other traditions in the Sanai area used masks in cultic worship in order to hide their faces as proof that they had met with God, the God of the Hebrews would prove their God better by making Moses’ actual face glow with a shockingly bright light for all to see as proof that Moses had truly met the divine.

Some see this story as a very powerful statement which was meant to say to the people, “God does not want statues of animals or people behind masks to represent his glory but rather… otherwise ordinary human beings are to show God’s glory in how they live out the commandments God has given.

In his Commentary Dr. John Durham sates that nobody really knows the answer to the question of what’s going on here or how literal it is intended to be taken. He says, “In fact, we simply do not have enough information to enable us to form any clear understanding of what is meant by the use of קרן (karan) to describe what happened to the skin of Moses’ face as a result of his close communion with Yahweh (the LORD), but the key must certainly lie in Yahweh (the LORD) and not in Moses… It is at least possible that קרן (karan) was deliberately used [rather than [the much more common] הֹאִיר (ha’ur) “shine, give light,”…, because the narrator intended to suggest a light that was separate from Moses’ own person, [something God did through him, not something that came from him.]

Now whether you see the karan of light God placed around Moses as an affront to masks or idols, as a true, literal and physical and miraculous glow or even if you think the very word for word rendering is true and Moses actually was growing horns, whether figurative or literal, whatever you think, the point is really unchanged. Moses comes down from his time with God having absorbed the brightness of Yahweh’s Presence and he is visibly different in some way because of that. He is changed! And people can see it!

In reference to Christ, the apostle Paul talks about this verse from Exodus. In 2 Cor. 3:16-18 he says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the mask is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, (with unmasked faces) contemplate the Lord’s glory, and are being transfigured into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

The Message Bible puts it like this, “and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”

The problem is we aren’t always very good at it. I’m not very good at it at least.

W. Tozer once said, “I’m afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use the language of power, but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, “Lord, help me to carry my cross daily” than to pick it up and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words.” (https://quotefancy.com/quote/1446687/Aiden-Wilson-Tozer-We-modern-Christians-are-long-on-talk-and-short-on-conduct)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t

I have just one more story:

A well-known Bible teacher has just finished speaking to a large class of businesspeople on the Christians’ responsibility to be light in the world. He had emphasized the as believers we all have the obligation to reflect the Light in the world, the Lord Jesus.

After the class, one of the members related to him an experience he had in his home that impressed upon him the same truth. He said that in the darkest corner of his basement he had made a surprising discovery. Some potatoes in that darkest corner had sprouted and were growing. At first, he could not figure how they had gotten enough light to sprout and grow. Then he noticed that hanging from the ceiling on a row of hooks, not terribly far away from the basement window was a shiny copper kettle his wife rarely used. It was brightly polished, and it was in the perfect position to reflect the sun’s rays onto the potatoes in that darkest corner of the room.

At that point the man relating the story paused, and he leaned in close and pointedly said, “When I saw that, I thought, I may not be some great preacher. I may not be a gifted teacher of the Word, I may not read my Bible enough, or have lots of spiritual conversations. I may not even be the greatest Christian all the time. But I can be a copper kettle catching the rays of the S>O>N and reflecting them from time to time, into someone’s dark corner of the world.[2]

I don’t know exactly what happened to Moses. And I sort of don’t care really. The message is unchanged. Whatever it was, people saw him differently. They knew he had a true encounter with God and his light made that clear.

Not everyone is Billy Graham. Not everyone is Moses. You may not reach thousands with the light of Christ. That’s okay, likely neither will I.

But like Lieutenant John Listerman we can share the light of Christ.

I guess what I’m saying is… Go be copper kettle and help grow a few potatoes. Amen.

Song: Jesus bids us shine (773)

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

Prayer of gratitude: We marvel at the wonders of your love.

You bless us with your presence and wisdom.

You created a beautiful world that reveals your majesty.

Your Holy Spirit guides us, and you sent your son to show us how to live with compassion.

We thank you that you open our eyes to your presence with us each day.  Help us to look for you not only in mountaintop experiences but also in the everyday tasks of life.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Loving God, there is much in this world that needs the transformation only your light can provide.

Where there is violence, instill your peace. where there is poverty, send your sustenance. where there is confusion, bring wisdom, where there is chaos, bring order.

Transfigure the hearts of the rich to share, the wills of the powerful to act with justice.

Where minds and hearts are troubled bring your comfort, where pain is crippling grant release.  Hear the cries of all who suffer and fill them with the hope of new life with you.

Eternal God, we pray that your glory would fill your church and give to your people everywhere the energy to shine wherever there is darkness, persecution and despair.  And we pray for the congregations of this Presbytery, this Synod, this Church.  Bless them with wisdom and strength.

Give us all, a greater love of your holiness, a greater delight in your mystery, and a greater joy in seeking your presence.

We ask these things through Christ Jesus, who revealed your will to us, who taught us your revolutionary love,


Song: Lord, the light of Your live is shining (376)

Sending out with God’s blessing: And now as we leave these walls behind and enter into the mission field God has put before us, let us bring our hope and peace to everyone we meet. And May God’s grace be and abide with you and those whom you love, both now and forever.

Response: The Blessing

Music postlude


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.

[1] https://www.biblia.work/sermons/a-marines-final-thanks/

[2] https://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~tankl/kettle.txt

There’s really only one, you know

Worship on the Lord’s Day
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
10:00 am, 15 January 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by John Patrick Rudolph
(material prepared by the Rev. Brad Childs)
Children’s time: Roxanne
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Fionna McCrostie
Guitarist (Prélude and Postlude): Lorraine Wheatley
Elder: Darlene Eerkes

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: Listen up, everyone! God has given us work to do.
P: God has called each of us before we were even born.
L: It was God who named us.
P: It is God who claims us.
L: The light of God’s love shines in us.
P: Let’s shine God’s love into all the world!

Opening praise: Everlasting God

Prayers of approach and confession

We give you all praise, God of salvation. We come with devotion to you, Christ our redeemer. We honour you, Holy Spirit who gives us strength. Across life’s roaring seas you call us forth to follow you and bring others to you. You give us the resources to be your church and to grow in grace and faith.

We seek your face, Lord. Though you have been faithful to us, there are times we have failed you in thought and word and deed. Forgive us, when we ignore your call to service. Forgive us when we seek our own self interests and ignore the needs of others.

We confess that there have been times when we choose the easy routes rather than the right routes. But today together we say… we want to follow you more closely. Busy schedules and poor excuses will no longer get our way. Because you are our chief concern and your work on business. Help us to hear your voice amid the clamour of our hectic lives and lay down our nets to follow you in faith as the first disciples did so long ago. In the name of the one who calls us, Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

For God spoke words of forgiveness to His people through the mouth of the prophet: “I will forgive their evil deeds and remember their sin no more.” Through God’s amazing Grace we have forgiveness.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time: Roxanne Plischke

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

 Story: And They Can Mend a Broken Heart

This is a book about how the magic of a child’s love can help a person through grief. (Independently published, May 20 2022).


The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Give us clean hands

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: 1 Corinthians 1:1–18 & John 1:29–42

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “There’s really only one you know”

Comedian Emo Philips used to tell this story. [1]

The other day I saw a man standing on a bridge about to jump to his doom.

I ran over and said, “Stop there so much to live for!”

He said, “like what”.

I said, “Are you religious or an atheist”.

He said, “I’m a Christian”.

I said “me too! Are your protestant or catholic?”

He said “Protestant”.

I said “Me too! – What franchise?”

He answered “Baptist”.

“Me too!” I spoke. “Northern Baptist or Southern?”

“Northern” he replied

“Me too!” I shouted

We continued to go back and forth like this for some time. Finally, I asked, my new friend “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879? or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912?” He replied, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912.”

I said, “Die you heretic!” And pushed him off the bridge.”

It’s strange, often it’s the people we have most in common with that make us the angriest.

When I first came to a Presbyterian Church, I was struck by this. I met a minister that belonged to the multi-faith council in Edmonton but who told me she’d never be caught dead in a Baptist church. It’s funny isn’t it. Many Presbyterians would probably feel more comfortable at an interfaith discussion with Buddhists and Muslims than they would sitting in a Pentecostal church service where they’d probably agree with about 95% of things.

There’s nothing new about this. This very problem existed in the earliest Christian churches. In the city of Corinth, the Apostle Paul was confronted with this very same issue. Corinth is interesting. It had all kinds of problems and disunity was just one of them. To be honest the church in Corinth was an absolute mess.

In Paul’s absence the people have even begun to bicker over leadership. Paul quotes one writes, “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” But what a strange thing for Paul to get angry about.

What’s Paul got against “I follow Paul”. Why would Paul be upset to hear that some people in the church see him as a model of faith.

What’s wrong with saying “I follow Apollos”? It’s not like Apollos was a false teacher or a heretic or something. He was eloquent speaker. Nothing Paul says (or anything else indicated anywhere in scripture or history) shows Apollos to be anything other than an eloquent Christian leader in the early church.

What’s wrong with saying “I follow Cephas” Peter was a part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. He is figure of strength in the Bible and an example to all of us. But more importantly what’s wrong with this last group. They say, “I follow Christ”? How on earth can that be wrong? What about this could possibly make Paul angry?

Today we live in a world of great diversity. And the fact is that this diversity is sometimes great for the cause of Christ. Though we might differ on the details, Pentecostal and Baptist churches reach people with the same cornel of faith that Presbyterians do.

If you were to go to my friend Dylan’s church “Solomon’s Porch” in Athabasca, Alberta you’d see a big bald tattoo covered guy in a kilt sitting on a stool delivering communion with potato chips and Coca-Cola. And yeah, it’s weird and it’s certainly not for me, but he reaches people for Christ that wouldn’t dare set a foot in our building – just like we reach people for Christ that wouldn’t last 1 minute in a service where people are encouraged to debate with the minister throughout the sermon.

But I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I think his people are just other parts of the body of Christ (maybe a funny part like an earlobe or a bellybutton but a part nonetheless).

More to the point. I call myself a “Calvinist.” Friends of mine call themselves “Lutherans”. To me that sounds an awful lot like “I follow Paul” and “I follow Apollos”. But again, I don’t think this is wrong either. Saying “I’m a Calvinist” helps explain some of the differences between the details of my faith and the details of others’ faith. And again, I think that’s good for the church. So, what is Paul so angry about? Is he wrong? What’s wrong with diversity?

Whatever it is that has Paul so worked up he gives us one of his most human moments in all of scripture… and I love it. He’s so mad he forgets he has baptized people in this congregation.

You see Paul didn’t really write this letter himself. He dictated it to a scribe. In fact, the only part of any letter Paul seems to have penned himself is at the end of Galatians where he signs it: “I Paul write this part with my own hand, see what large letters I use.” (Apparently Paul had really big handwriting.) See – at this time, paper (or papyrus) was actually very expensive. So as Paul is there dictating this letter, his scribe is quickly doing his best to get it all down. And in his anger Paul says, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you” and then it hits him… wait a minute, yeah, I did… (But the scribes already got it down) so he adds “except Crispus and Gaius, and then again, he realized his mistake (but again the scribe has already got that down) so he adds further “Oh Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.”

Imagine that Paul is so worked up that he can’t even remember who he has baptized and quite frankly he doesn’t even care at this point. Instead, he says, Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.”  But again, why so angry?

In his book Stories that feed your Soul,[2] famed minister Tony Campolo recalls the following story. He writes, “I was driving through the town of Mount Joy, looking for the Church of God where I was scheduled to speak but couldn’t find it. Knowing I needed help I stopped at a gas station, where I asked the attendant if he knew where the Church of God was.

In a slow drawl the attendant answered, “I knew the Presbyterian had a church in this town and I knew the Methodist had one” but I wasn’t aware that God had one.” Amused by his one answer Campolo recalls the strange sad looked on the man’s face as he added “There’s really only one you know.”

Well, the man was right. We all get too caught up in our differences. And when we focus on those differences our critics mock us because they see those man-made differences that separate us, when they should see the God that unifies us despite our differences.

E Stanley Jones once said, “Talk about what you believe, and you will have disunity. Talk about who you believe in, and you will have unity.”

Make no mistake about it. We’re not all the same and we do believe very different things sometimes. And those differences are often important. I am a proud Calvinist and a proud Presbyterian because I think these distinctions are important. And I don’t think Paul would have a problem with that.

What angers Paul is not that some say they follow him or that others say they follow Peter or Apollos. It doesn’t bother him that some say they follow Christ. There is nothing wrong with saying “I follow Christ”.

The problem in Corinth is arrogance. Some say they follow Paul in order to prove their superiority and in response some counter with Apollos and others Peter (each one trying to one-up each other and show their own self-importance). And it doesn’t bother Paul that some say they follow Christ. He hopes all would say that. It bothers him that they would use the Son of God like a pawn in a silly game as if “I follow Christ” is the ultimate trump card to prove your point.

Oh, you follow Paul they say… that’s nice. Well, I follow Christ! This is what angers Paul. It’s not the diversity… it’s disunity… it’s arrogance.

So maybe you are from the “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879. Or maybe it’s the Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912.” Maybe you’re a Calvinist, maybe you’re not sure or maybe you just don’t care. Well fine by me. Because what’s most important is that we recognize that the old man at the gas station understood just what Paul understood.

As far as Christian churches go “There’s really only one you know.” Amen.

Song: Revelation Song

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

 Prayer of gratitude

Generous God, from you comes every good and perfect gift. Receive these gifts, Lord, as signs of our desire to hear your voice and follow. Grant that they be used to bring your Good News to others and further your Kingdom on earth. In the name of Christ our Lord and saviour we pray.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Name above all others, who can probe the depths of your wisdom? Who can attain the height of your vision? Your goodness surrounds us like the waters of the ocean.

Your mercy envelops us as the sun warms our days. You bring order out of chaos, command discipline across a diverse and changing world, and offer forgiveness with the promise of new life. You stoop down to us as a mother bends to lift up her child. You lend an ear to our needs and hear our cries for help.

Merciful Lord, hear us now as we pray silently together for the needs of people all around the world and in our own backyards.


Lord hear our prayers, Amen.

Song: You are holy, you are whole (828)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go now in peace and serve Christ with your whole being.
May your ears hear his calling.
May your feet walk the path he set before you.
May your eyes seek the lost and lonely.
May your hands reach out in care.
And may your voice speak love and truth and mercy.

Response: The Blessing

Music postlude


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’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material prepared by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material 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.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26624442

[2] Published by Regal (Sept. 13 2010)

You’re not a monk

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am, 08 January 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Elder: Jane de Caen

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: Brothers and sisters, we have life because  God chose to give it.
P: Life had its beginning in God.
L: Sisters and brothers, we need not fear the end of life.
P: In God, it will come to completion and its meaning will be fully revealed.
L: All creation, including us, will find fulfillment in God.
P: Now we see in part. Then we shall see face to face.  Let us worship God, who is the Creator of Life and the Victor over death!

Opening praise: Forever God is faithful

Prayers of approach and confession

God of power and might, of grace and of love, heaven and earth are full of your glory.

You chose to become one of us in Jesus Christ, sharing our joy and sorrow, manifesting your greatness in the child of the manger,

And so we praise you for your love which is great enough to embrace the universe, yet close enough to enter our hearts.

During our worship, surprise us with your grace that we, with the rest of the church  and the whole creation, may praise and adore you, O God, our Creator and Redeemer.

God of compassion, you offer light to live by, and yet too often we live in darkness.

You promise new life, but we confess that we are in love with our old ways; in love with ourselves; with hurts that we nourish, hatreds that hold us hostage, and fantasies that restrict our living. You offer us unconditional love, but we reject our neighbors and live apart from you and one another in so many ways and so reject you because we reject your image. Recreate us in the image of your son and for your glory’s sake forgive us.

Gradual: We come to ask Your forgiveness, O God

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Here is the good news of the Gospel! Jesus Christ is the elect one, chosen for our salvation. In him we are made acceptable to God. Let us give thanks to God, and be at peace with ourselves and with one another. Why dwell on sin and death when have been given his perfection and his life. Amen

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)

Story: Wise men today still seek the Savior – Epiphany of the Lord

If we were planning to go to visit someone in another town or city, we might first ask someone who knew how to get there to give us directions. They might give us some general directions and suggest the best roads to take. Another thing we should do is look at a map. The map will show us exactly how to get where we want to go. As we travel, we should keep checking the map to be sure that we are headed in the right direction. If we follow the directions that we receive and use the map to guide us, we will surely find the way.

Here, Brad shared a story about a journey he went on during which he got lost several times because he did not have a map.

After Jesus was born, some wise men, also called Magi, saw a star in the sky which they believed announced the birth of a king. They traveled to Jerusalem and began to ask, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Herod heard about the Magi and their search for a king and he was deeply disturbed. He called a meeting of the priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” The priests told Herod that the prophet Micah had written that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. So Herod called for private meeting with the wise men and said to them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

As you know, the wise men did not have a map to guide them to Bethlehem, but they had something even better — they had a star to guide them. So the wise men followed information that the priests had given to Herod and the star that God had given to guide them and it led them right to Jesus. When they found him, they gave him gifts and bowed down and worshiped him.

Wise men, women, boys, and girls are still searching for Jesus. There are people who want to help — people like parents and Sunday School teachers. There is no map to help us find Jesus and there is no star to follow, but we do have the Bible. We can find the way to Jesus by reading God’s Holy Word! The Bible is the map and star that will lead to Jesus. All of us should read it every day to make sure we are headed in the right direction!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we seek you today because we want to worship you and crown you as our King. We are thankful for pastors and Sunday School teachers who want to help us and we are thankful for the Bible which we have been given to lead us to you. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: What star is this (170)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Ephesians 3:1–12 & Matthew 2:1–12

Message: “You’re not a Monk”

A traveler’s car broke down near a monastery late one night. With no place else to go, the man walked into the monastery and explained his situation. The monks graciously invited him to spend the night, gave him something warm to drink, and even repaired the car.

During the night, the man heard a strange sound. The next morning, he asked the monks about it. “We can’t tell you, you’re not a monk.” They replied. The man was disappointed but thanked the monks for their hospitality and then went on his way.

Some years later, the same traveler had car problems in front of the same monastery. Once again, the monks were happy to give him a place to stay, feed him, and fix his car. And during the night, he heard the same strange noise that he had heard years earlier. The next morning, he asked again, “What was that noise I heard during the night?” The monks replied “We can’t tell you, you’re not a monk.”

The traveler said, “All these years I’ve wondered about that sound. And it just can’t be a coincidence that I’ve broken down right here in the same place twice… it just can’t. I’m dying to know what it is. Maybe I’m supposed to be a monk. How do I become a monk?”

The monks explained “To join our unique monastery, First, you must travel the earth and learn to speak the language of every culture and tribe that exists in the world. Then, you must do one kind deed for every man, woman and child on the planet. Finally, you must climb to the top of the highest mountain and count the number of stars that exist in the heavens. When you have done all this, you will be well on your way toward becoming a monk.”

Undaunted the man accepted the task. Some 45 years later, he returned to the monastery and knocked on the door. “I have traveled the earth and learned more than 6000 languages I have performed kind deeds for 9 billion people. I almost froze to death on the highest mountain, where I learned that there are more than 17 trillion stars.”

The monks were amazed, “Congratulations, you are very close to being a monk of the highest order. We shall now take you to the source of the sound.”

They led the man to a wooden door, where one of the monks said, “The sound is right behind that door.”

“How do I open it?” the traveler said.

“You must first memorize the Old Testament.”

The man went in to his room immediately and in a matter of just a few months, memorized the entire Old Testament. In return, he was given the key to the wooden door and taken back to it. But upon opening the door, he encountered another door, this one made of brass. It too was locked. “To receive the key that will open the brass door, you must memorize the New Testament.” Frustrated, the man went back to his room but… memorized the New Testament. Within a few months, he had the key to the brass door. Again, the monks accompanied him to the source of the strange sound. Inside the brass door was yet another door. This one made of gold. It too was locked.

“This is the last door. But to receive the key, you must spend one year in the dungeon, with only bread and water to sustain you.”

The traveller patiently endured his year in the dungeon. Emaciated and weary, he was released and once again he was taken to the source of the sound. There he unlocked the wooden and brass doors, and was given the final key to the golden door. With trembling hands, the man unlocked the door, turned the knob and opened it. Behind it lay the source of the sound – and for the traveler, life’s great mystery revealed… and without a doubt it was worth every trail the man did or could have ever endured. And what made the sound you ask… well… I can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.

We live in a world of unsolved mysteries. Science can’t explain why we dream, why yawns appear to be contagious. Mystery novels fill our book shelves and our Televisions are filled with “who done it” storylines.

In today’s passage of Scripture the Apostle Paul talks to us about a “mysterion” or “hidden will”. But when Paul talks about mystery, he’s talking about more than the just the unknown. In fact he’s talking about the hidden providence of God reveled, and our search to understand it.

Paul writes, “2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”

What Paul is saying is that he was lost; out searching the world for answers, and though he thought that he had those answers, God reached down on the road to Damascus in grace and showed him everything he had been missing; revealed in Jesus. And while Paul is known for defending his right to preach and defending his own authority as an Apostle, here he’s doing just the opposite. He’s saying not only were they revealed to him but that they were revealed to him for the express purpose of handing them down to you and me.

He continues, “In reading this, then, you too will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus”.

Now you have to understand that, at the time, this was a very bold statement.

In the Old Testament period, the Jewish people were the instruments through which God revealed Himself to the world. They were God’s “chosen people” and Paul was one of them. But the problem was… some of them started to believe (mistakenly) that they were “exclusively” God’s ONLY chosen people, and that God had no interest in the Gentiles (no interest in all other non-Jewish people).

The problem is – that’s not really what their own prophets said. Isaiah 55 for example the prophet says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;…  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander. 5 Surely you will summon nations you do not even know, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel”.

See God’s whole point of having a “chosen people” was to use them to draw all others into the fold. They were intended to be a beacon of light calling out to others. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work out that way.

In verse 6 of today’s readings Paul identifies this mistake and reveals the heart of the mystery revealed to him: He says, “This mystery is that, through the gospel, the Gentiles (non-Jews) are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Furthermore in v. 8 he writes, “this grace was given me: to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make it plain to everyone.”

Paul says that God’s intention from the very beginning was that He wanted to have a relationship with all people “inclusively” and that this is now fully revealed in Christ.

Sadly, that wasn’t always the case and ever more sadly this exclusivity didn’t end with Judaism. Christians quickly did the same thing. When we first came into being we worshiped together with the Jews and in fact were Jewish Christians. But soon Gentiles (non-Jews) also came to seek the Jewish Messiah. As a result the Christians came to see themselves as a new “chosen people” and a replacement for Judaism as if God had somehow failed. This type of thinking led to discrimination and even internment camps. But it’s not the picture Paul gives us. Paul never says that we Gentiles replace the Jews. He says “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel.”

Three Key Words: Verse 6 goes on to describe the three strands of relationship that we have with God. It says that we are a.) heirs together, b.) members together and c.) sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (in salvation).

Paul’s not quite done yet. He not only wants us to know the mysteries of God revealed in Christ, but he also wants us to know what we’re expected to do about it.

He writes, “His (God’s) intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known”. Our job as the Church is to “make known” the mysteries (a plural word meaning Mysteries) of God revealed to us.

There are in fact many mysteries of the faith revealed to us. The only thing is, you have to decide for yourself just what these mysteries are. You have to discover what’s behind the wooden door in the monastery all for yourself. And while I pray that our gathering together came help us all to do just that. Ultimately You have to decide what great mysteries have been revealed to you. I couldn’t do it for you if I tried. Besides, I’m not a monk. To search them out is your own private task and then and only then can you share those mysteries with others as we are all asked to do.

May you continue the search? May you come to know the saving grace of God. May you seek to include others just as God has sought to include us among the chosen. And may you search tirelessly to share the greatest mysteries of the faith with each other and with all those whom you meet. Amen.

Special Music for Meditation: What King would wade through murky streams (184)

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.


Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

Light of the minds that know you, Strength of those who serve you, Wisdom of those who seek after you: Shine into the dark places of this world and cast your light into the shadows of our lives.

Awaken us to the needs of those who carry heavy burdens; who do not know where to turn; those with broken hearts and secrets that impede life. Give them peace and save us from hiding in blindness or denial and give us grace to share one another’s burden.

We also pray for people who are celebrating today, who welcome good news or new possibilities, who have reason to celebrate with joy; give us the grace to share one another’s joy.

Awaken us to the needs of those who do not have enough to eat or adequate shelter and those who have enough to share but no-one to share with, Sustain them and give us grace to share one what we have with each other.

Awaken us to anguish of those who are filled with grief because of a loss that forever has altered their lives; of those who are ill or dying, and those who are bereaved. Give them peace and give us grace to share one another’s grief.

Awaken us to your wisdom and to your will and desire for the world, to the values of your kingdom, and the renewal and redemption that we receive in Christ. Give leaders in our churches and communities the wisdom and courage to do what is just and give us the grace to speak and act honestly, wisely, and graciously always. Amen

Song: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness vss 1-4 (174)

Sending out with God’s blessing (spoken and sung)

The Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His Face toward you and give you peace. Amen, amen, amen. Amen, amen, amen.

Music postlude


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.

Christmas Errors

Worship on the Lord’s Day
1st Sunday after Christmas
10:00 am January 01, 2023
Onsite & Online (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Bradley Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Heather Tansem

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord
P: Look at all that the Lord has done for us
L: You are Salvation
P: Let us worship God together

Opening praise: Great are You, Lord

Prayers of approach and confession

Our God we come to you in awe. You have made these past few weeks a blessing. You have inspired us to share our blessings with our families, friends and also with people we have never met. You have given us a giving heart. And yet we confess that while we could make every day a blessing for others, we choose not to do so.

We Christians are in many ways lost in contradiction. On Sunday’s we come together to worship a homeless man but then on Monday we ignore those like him. All around the world we buy silver WWJD bracelets and mugs to proclaim a man with no possessions. This year we Christians bought a record number of “Make Poverty History” T-shirts, made by kids in sweat shops. Though we are called to play the Good Samaritan on the many roads of life, caring for the abused and mistreated… we seldom stop to ask how we might transform the road to prevent the problems in the first place.

While we might go so far as to teach a man to fish (as the old proverb goes) rarely will we ask the bigger question (Who really owns the pond in the first place). Our God… it is not that we are evil or bad people. It’s just that our world is complex and difficult to navigate. We err, we sin, we make mistakes. Help us Lord to do your will and forgive us when we falter. -Amen

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

As C.S. Lewis says of his Christ Figure Azlan… “He is not a tame Lion”. Our God in Jesus Christ is no meek and mild. He is judgment itself. And yet… he is also mercy and has promised to forgive our debts. This is the Good News; Thanks be to God.

We listen for the voice of God

Song:  We three kings (173)

Scripture readings (NRSV): Psalm 148; Matthew 2:1-2; 9-11; Luke 2:1-11

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “Christmas Errors”

Christmas traditions are different all over the world.

In Argentina Father Christmas’s boots go out on the front door to let him know your home and a boot sits on the top of the tree as well.

In Brazil Pappi Noel comes from Greenland and wears silk.

In Holland Santa Clause is a thin, ex-bishop of Turkey who arrives by boat and pretends to kick children who have been naughty and puts them in a canvas sack.

In his honor the Dutch open presents on Saint Nicholas day (which is December 5th in case you’re wondering).

Still Santa Clause isn’t the only tradition that’s different. In The Egyptian Orthodox church everyone puts on new clothes to celebrate the birth of Christ (which as we all know – was on January 7th).

In Iran, Christian children see giving gifts as pagan and celebrate Christmas instead by observing 25 days of fasting which sounds terrible to everyone except the kids in Russia – they fast for 39 days.

In the US and Canada we do the opposite of fasting! We eat chocolate.

In Romania the children make painting and slaughter a pig and they sing blessings upon each other (well, except for the people they don’t like, then they sing Christmas curses on them).

In France nativity scenes are sometimes composed of hundreds of clay figures. The figures are often metal smiths or other traditional trades people.

In most countries the people open their presents on Christmas Eve.

In Alaska children eat smoked salmon and travel from home to home singing carols while carrying stars on long poles high above their heads.

In Bethlehem a giant star is put up in the city square. The Nativity scene there is acted out in live action and takes days. In Portugal it takes 3 weeks.

As with much of the world these two nativity scenes includes an “old man” character standing with Joseph far off from the manger and looking away from the baby Jesus. The old man is supposed to represent the devil (or doubt). If you have a strange figure in your nativity set that you’ve never been able to identify, it’s probably the devil.

In Naples they make thousands of nativity scenes which usually include footballers and other celebrities. Last year Elvis was a popular character. This year U.S. President Barrack Obama was a big one.

But what should the nativity scene really look like? Although traditions do depend on what country, city or town you’re from, it seems that most Christians around the world hold very similar Christmas traditions. The nativity scene is perhaps the most universal though I don’t remember seeing David and Victoria Beckham standing in as Mary and Joseph this year. Still people from every country on earth set up nativity scenes. But unlike here in the West, the vast majority of Christians around the world put it up over a number of weeks.

Most popular is to set up the stable on December 12th. Mary and Joseph are usually added by the 16th and baby Jesus on the 24th, while only the shepherds arrive on the 25th. Although the often added characters (like donkey’s, sheep and angles) do vary a bit as to when they appear the Three Wise Men are always added last, usually appearing on January 5th or 6th.  In much of the world nativity scenes are left up until one of two dates (the Sunday following the Epiphany – or at the end of the Epiphany season in early February.)

Over the years it seems that every country and region has added its own little twists and traditions to the actual biblical story of Jesus’ birth and has its own particular way of celebrating. To be honest, I find that quite comforting and quite beautiful. But it does beg the question… do we even know what the Bible actually says the nativity looked like?

For starters there is the date. Throughout history, calendars have been dated according to important historical events. Our calendar is dated in relation to the birth of Jesus. “B.C.” = ‘Before Christ’. “A.D.” = “Anno Domini’ = ‘in the year of our Lord’.

But how did they come up with this date? Well, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar came up with the “Julian Calendar,” with 12 months and 365 days. It was based on the founding of the city of Rome. In 1582 AD, it was revised by Pope Gregory, because it had fallen behind by 10 days. So one day the Pope just declared that October 5th was all of the sudden October 15th and that created the first Leap Year.

Our current calendar is called the “Gregorian Calendar.”. It is slightly more accurate, but it’s still off by 26 seconds each year. That’s not bad considering it will take over 3,000 years to build up the one single day that will throw us off course.

Our calendar too, is based on the birth of Jesus (except for one thing). Pope Gregory was off by 4-6 years. See, we are told that Jesus was born when Herod was King. He reigned for 37 years. But the bible also tells us that Herod died while Mary, Joseph and Jesus were hiding from him in Egypt (Matthew 2:14-15). In Luke we are told that all of this happened while (Kur-inius) Quirinius was governor of Syria (which he was, though not in year 0 – it was 4BC). (Luke 2:2)

We celebrate Christmas on December 25th. But why? In 180 A.D., Clement of Alexandria wrote that the birth of Jesus was thought to be on April 21 … or April 22 … or May 20. The truth is that no one really has anything more than a guess, but the summer guess is pretty good considering Luke tells us about “certain shepherds out in their fields” and shepherds were only out in their fields at night for the hot summer. (August is the hottest month in this region.)

In the 4th Century, the Western Church set the date as December 25th. Well, it’s actually based on a mathematical calculation within the Julian Calendar. However it didn’t hurt that there was also a pagan holiday on that date. This way the people could still have a party and not get angry with the government for taking away their festival; but do so Christianly instead of paganly.

One of the more colorful parts of our modern story includes the inn keeper who refuses Joseph and Mary and sends them out to the stable with the animals. But there is a small problem with this. You see, in Luke 2:7 it does says that there was no room, but the word sometimes translated “inn” is actually kat-al-uma and can have three meanings.

1) a caravan (kind of like a mix between a modern day truck stop and a circle of old west covered wagons with empty cloth tents for rent)

2) a roof top space often reserved to guests or

3) a dinning room (in fact the only other time anyone in the New Testament this word kat-al-uma appears is when Jesus and the disciples eat the last supper. So much for the Best Western!

In any case there is no room in the —– whatever it was—- and so Mary and Joseph go outside to the stable. Right??? Well… perhaps. In Bethlehem the houses were boxes stacked on top of each other like a modern ghetto with carved out caves in the back for animals. Still most of the first floor houses recently excavated show evidence that the animals actually stayed inside many of the homes. The homes seem to have an “animal room” that kept them from being stolen. In any case the bible doesn’t say anything about a “stable” because it actually doesn’t say anything about the structure at all. It only says that Jesus was laid in a manger (or a food trough) which could either be a section carved out of the cave wall outside or a small food box on the floor. In any case by the time the wise men reach Jesus is not in a manger anymore anyway.  In Luke 2:11 we’re told that the Magi visit Jesus in an oi-kē’-ä or “house”.

And that brings us to the Three Kings (?).

Although “We Three Kings” is my favourite Christmas song… the bible doesn’t say anything about Kings or Wise Men for that matter.

What it does talk about are “Magi.” Magi were a religious group of people that interpreted dreams, told fortunes & read the stars. They were probably from as far east as Babylon because they had a Jewish settlement there, which would explain how these magicians knew prophecies about a Jewish Saviour.

In any case the Magi are blessed by God and shown something in the stars and so they set out to worship the Christ-Child. (I love this by the way. It’s like a little side-note in the story that says,  maybe the Messiah isn’t just for one ethnic group).

But that makes for another problem with our nativity scenes. Not only are there no “kings” but the Bible doesn’t even tell us how many “magi” (or magicians) there were. It only tells us that they brought three gifts. All we know for sure is that there was more than one; (the word “magi” is plural). It’s always possible that three could be the correct number but most theologians believe that wealthy people such as the magi would have travelled with at least two servants per “magi,” as was their custom. Also it appears that “magi” generally travelled in groups of 10.

In addition to this it should be noted that the shepherds from Luke’s story and the Magi from Matthew’s story never meet one another. In fact, while the shepherds greet the new-born Jesus, the Magi seem to show up around 2 full years later. By the time the Magi get there they visit Jesus “in the house where Jesus was” and not “the place where he was born”. Moreover, by this time, Jesus is referred to as a “child” (Pie-De-On) paidion and not a (Bref-aus) brephos “baby” (like in Matthew 2:8; Luke 2:12). *As a side note just in case the wise men in your nativity scene are riding on camels you should also know that magi rode horses.

So, there you have it. I’ve officially ruined Christmas for everyone!… Or maybe not. Perhaps the image that popular culture gives us today is not that completely biblical. Perhaps we’ve added a few details here and there.

Perhaps the scene we set should just be Mary and Joseph standing by a wooden box filled with hay until Christmas morning. Perhaps no snow would be on the ground. Perhaps it was August. Perhaps the angel had been long gone and appeared to people far away from the manger. Perhaps the shepherds would come in from the field right away, and the magi wouldn’t arrive for years. Maybe our nativity sets are a mishmash of three different gospel stories all combined into one.

But then again… perhaps the vision we see in our heads or on our coffee tables isn’t really about the magi, the star or the donkey any more than it’s about the tinsel and the presents beneath the tree. Perhaps it is about you. Whether you are the single parent, or the adoptive father, the humble shepherd, or the wealthy giver, the local or the foreign born… perhaps what is really important about the nativity scene is just the birth of Jesus, and the fact that you (whoever you are in this story) have been invited visit the scene; to look into the face of God… because God has come (Emmanuel… God with us) to be with you. -Amen

Sources include

  • The First Christmas by John Crossan and Marcus Borg
  • The Eerdmans Bible Commentary
  • The Word Biblical Commentary Matthew
  • The Word Biblical Commentary Luke
  • The Anchor Bible Commentary Matthew
  • Gundry’s Commentary on Matthew
  • Seasons in the Spirit
  • Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology
  • Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus
  • The story “Six to Eight Black Men” by David Sedaris
  • and
  • Examining Christian Traditions by Ray Scott

Additional Information

  • The inclusion of Herod in Matthew’s gospel harkens the Jewish reader back to Ballack the wicked king of Moab who wanted to kill Moses (and all baby boys to get to him).
  • The Magi in Matthew remind us of Ballum (Nub 22-23) who was a great wizard from the east. He would normally (like Magi) curse the Israelites but in this case would bless them.
  • Bethlehem is a five mile walk from Jerusalem but the Magi seem to have been off course. They go first to Jerusalem and are then called by Herod.
  • Magi were 1) Persian / Babylonian priests 2) magicians 3) deceivers 4) astrologers. Magi we non-Israelite pagans and must have been in contact with Jewish writing or a Jewish community due to their use of the word “Messiah”. They were most likely Zoroastrians.
  • The Magi were “from the east” which could mean 1) Parthia 2) Babylon 3) Arabia 4) Egypt – most likely Babylon is the correct answer for these particular Magi being that there was a Jewish settlement in Babylon and the magi are searching after a Jewish “messiah.”
  • We are told in Matthew 2:2-3 that “all of Jerusalem with Him (Herod)” was “troubled” by the news of a child born “King of the Jews”. This is most likely due to the people’s fear of Herod’s reaction rather than a fear of the Christ-Child.

Song: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic Your name is (409)

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.


Prayer of gratitude, and for others and ourselves

Our God, as we cross the threshold into the new, we take time to give thanks to you. Through us this year you have done great things. And we have been clothed and fed by your gifts to us. When faced with fear we see your triumph. When confused we have your spirit.

Yet as we offer you thanks for past mercies we seek future guidance. In a land that abound with resources, there are still many who are poor and without hope. Let the prophet’s vision of promised abundance become read to them through our ministry here. Keep us firm and insistent that it is you whom we serve and you alone. When decisions are to be made, let us first seek your will. When we are met by challenges, stay by our side. When we enter the unknown, be our confidence and strength. And wanting for nothing, may we service others with the fullness of new life you have promised in Christ the son.

Our Lord accepts these gifts offer in response to your love shown to us in the tiny eyes of a new born child. They are but a token of the great love we have for you.


The Sacrament of Holy Communion


According to Luke, when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.

This is the Lord’s Table. Our Savior invites all those who trust him to share the feast which he has prepared.

Song: Joy to the world vss 1, 2, 4 (153)

We affirm our faith: The Apostles Creed (539)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (469)

Communion Prayer
The Lord be with you.
And with you also.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Creating father we thank you for the gift of life and for the gift of all creation. All that is praises your name. Providing one, we are forever grateful to you for the unending gifts you bestow upon us and entrusted to us. Your faithfulness and mercy astound us. God of sacrifice, You are our rock and our shield. Your compassion and grace know no end.

We thank you, Almighty God, for the salvation you offer and we give complete control of ourselves to you and call You “Lord”. Help us to know your ways, To share them with others and to forever seek after your divinely hidden face.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Precious Lord, we thank you for the gift of salvation sent through your son Jesus Christ. We thank you for the incarnation, as you made yourself low and brought yourself down to be a vulnerable human being. And from this blessing we were given instruction but also freedom.

Our god it is completely beyond our understanding. How you could send Christ to live among us, love us, and know that he would died at our hands. Such love is too far above us. And through him you the author of salvation have also shown us what it means to rise to new life.

And so together now proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Father God we also thank you for the gift of your spirit. It is by your Spirit of glory that we find comfort and council. We praise you also for the works of the divine Spirit in both creation and our holy scriptures. We praise you for that the same Spirit which empowered the holy conception of our Lord also empowers us today. By your spirit we are called to service for your divine will. Let none of us remain in conflict with one another but instead bring as peace that passed understanding… both now and forever. Amen

Sharing of the bread and wine

Institution (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV): “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’“

The Fraction (minister breaks the bread): When we break the bread, it is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The pouring of the Wine (minister pours the wine): When we bless the cup, it is a sharing in the blood of Christ. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

The Elevation (holding up the bread and cup): “The gifts of God for the people of God.”

Distribution of the Bread and Wine: “Take; eat. The Body of Christ broken for you.”

Distribution of the Cup:  “Take; drink. The Blood of Christ poured out for you.”

(The people come to the front of the sanctuary (those who are able) to receive the elements. Then, when all are served, we commune together.)

Song (sung as the Bread and Wine are served): Here is bread, here is wine (546)

The prayer after Communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world, in the strength of Your Spirit, to do just as you have done, to give ourselves for others. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord – Amen.

Song: The Blessing

Sending out with God’s blessing

And now go out into the world, knowing the simple truth. All Christ’s children carry the blessing of the Messiah as he makes the invitation of faith and reconciliation (the greatest of all blessings).

Response: Auld lang syne (led by Ryer and Marlene McAmmond)

Music postlude


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.

Our Sunday Worship and many other activities are “Mixed Presence”

The Session (church council), at the June 28/21 Session meeting decided to reopen the church building.

Vaccination and masks are strongly recommended. Here is a short video that explains why masks are necessary and how they work.

Even though some people feel comfortable about worshipping in the sanctuary and we have the all-clear from public health officials, Dayspring will continue to broadcast our services on ZOOM. That is, we envision an ongoing “Mixed Presence” community for our worship, faith formation activities, community service, and governance.

Christmas Day 2022: The Word became flesh

Worship on Christmas Day
10:00 am December 25, 2022
Onsite & Online (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Bradley Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Vocalists: Glynnis and Fionna McCrostie

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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

Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

*Call to worship:
L: Christmas Day is a time for rejoicing!
P: Arise and shine for our light has come. The time of waiting is over.
L: Amid all that is still wrong in the world, we proclaim that God comes to us in Jesus Christ.
P: Arise and shine for our light has come. The glory of God is revealed.
L: We gather on this joyful day, to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s love that will never let us go.
P: Arise and shine for our light has come. The glory of God is revealed. Our Saviour is born.
L: As we light the Christ candle, trust that the light of God has come in Jesus and can never be put out. Stand open to the presence and power of God with us in Christ, even here, even now.

The Christ Candle is lit

*Opening praise: O come all ye faithful (159)

Prayers of approach and thanksgiving

Lord today we gather openly to worship you (as many do – and even more would like to do.) And yet we acknowledge that there are still 30 some countries in the world where Christians just like us can be killed for doing what we are doing tonight.

Lord be with them in their silent and hidden worship.

Our God, We gather here to remember that you are unchanging.

Lord we praise you.

In the dawn of time you created the world, sending light by your Word to dispel darkness.

In Jesus Christ you began a new creation, sending him to be the Light of the world, to drive away fear and despair, and to rule in peace and justice, holiness, and love.

Father let us never forget how blessed we are. Let us never take you for granted. Never allow us to ignore all the wonderful gifts (people) you surround us with.

Aid our hands and use them to comfort the ill and lonely, the suffering and comfortable alike.

We pray
for the nations of the earth and peace in the world…
for victims and survivors of violence…
for those who are traveling and for the people we meet…
for our families and friends…

Help us to share the ministry of Christ and be agents of his compassion.

Help make peoples our business, love our currency, compassion our purpose.

Help us to love the seemingly unloved
to care for the neglected
and to be worthy of the name Christian (Little Christs’) which we claim for ourselves.

All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, born not to an earthly kingdom but to a peasant family, refugees, with no place to rest their heads. Amen.

Musical Offering: How many kings[1] (Brad, Binu, Glynnis and Fionna)

We listen for the voice of God

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord  (145)

Children’s Time

Story Book: An Angel Came to Nazareth (by Maggie Kneen[2])


The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

*Song: It came upon a midnight clear vss 1,2,5 (148)

Scripture readings: Isaiah 52:7-10 and John 1:1-14

Response: Oh come let us adore him

Today’s Message: “The Word Became Flesh”

Side 1: Luis Palau tells of a wealthy European family he knew.[3] They had decided to have their newborn baby boy baptized. Dozens of guests were invited to their large estate home for an elaborate celebration the Friday before the special occasion. The partygoers arrived dressed in the finest clothes and emerged from some of the nicest cars you might ever see. After depositing their elegant wraps on the bed in an upstairs room, the guests were entertained with music and dancing.

Soon the time came for the main event. The baby was to be presented with his gifts. But he wasn’t in his carriage. The child’s parents and the nanny ran throughout the house desperately searching for the lost son, but he was nowhere to be found. The guests stood amazed at what transpired, and whispers filled the house with talk of possible kidnapping and ransom… but we’ll get back to that.

Some 2000 years ago a poor man and his fiancée traveled many miles along certain dangerous and winding roads. Due to the census Joseph was to go to Bethlehem (an un-walled village 5 miles from Jerusalem; then with about 500 residents) to register with his wife for a tax census.

The reason for this we are told is simple. Joseph was from the line of David and had to go back to where his family originally lived and worked. It’s important to note that hospitality in first century Judaism was a major part of life. Taking friends and relatives into your home was one of the most important things that a person could do. At the time it would have been unthinkable for Mary and Joseph to seek a public inn, if indeed one even existed in a tiny place like Bethlehem.

More than likely Jesus was born in a cave (sort of like a garage) out back behind the family home or in the courtyard attached to a home of Joseph’s extended family who lived permanently in Bethlehem. Some misconceptions concerning the circumstances of His birth result from a mistranslation of kataluma that literally means “guest room,” and certainly not “inn” the way that we would understand it. They also reflect a Western rather than a Middle Eastern understanding of the cultural factors involved.

For example, when Luke refers to the “inn” where the Samaritan brought the wounded Jewish traveler, Luke used this term pandocheion (Luke 10:34). This word means “inn” in koine Greek, at least more like we would describe one (in that rooms were rented for money). But that is not the word that Luke uses here in the story of Jesus’ birth. Instead, here Luke writes that there was no room in the kataluma or “guest-space” (the same kind of space where Luke says that the “last supper” took place in the kataluma or “upper room” of a large wealthy home).

What’s more, in that small village, family members would not have accepted such a rejection of their hospitality, especially in view of the imminent birth of a firstborn child. It was a thing of great honor to care for guests. But still, for some unknown reason there was no room in the kataluma for Joseph and the very pregnant Mary. The family home no doubt would be filled with traveling relatives whom all had come to Bethlehem for the same reason Mary and Joseph traveled there. It is likely that the room was already filled with other relatives although it is technically possible that the unwed Mary and Joseph were simply rejected from the honorable location due to Mary’s unwed pregnancy.

At the time most homes in Bethlehem were plain and simple structures. Everything took place in the home; births, marriages and even deaths all took place at home. Several generations might share the same small structure and multiple families shared a single front yard space. Only a few years ago in an excavation site located in Ephraim just twelve miles northwest of Jerusalem archeologists discovered a remarkably well preserved example of a commoner first century Jewish village home. This simple home provides a good example of the kind of home in which Jesus may have been born.

The home is made up of four rooms and consists of two levels. The home was built right next to a small cave that opens into the home. It had one solid wall and three others built simply by columns to hold up the roof. The walls are stone and mud and the roof is made from sticks and crude mortar. It had stairs that led up to the roof which served as a work space, an additional place to sleep and a play area for children.

Apparently, the roof was a common play area for children at the time. Can you imagine that. Where are the kids Brad? Oh don’t worry honey their up playing on the roof. In Jesus’ day kids played on the roof for fun, in mine we had B.B. gun fights, my kids can’t even ride a bike without a Helmut and by the time I’m a grandfather the government will probably require kids to wear knee and elbow pads just to walk the street.

The second level served as sleeping courters for the whole family and also the kitchen pantry with niches carved into the wall for storage. There might be a small closet for additional storage as well but only if you had a good job. The base level is one large living room space that was half covered by the roof and the other half that served as a communal courtyard and animal pen shared with neighbors. Animals were usually brought into the lower level through here at night for safety, and in the winter, to provide warmth. There you could work and cook and could easily move your animals inside for the night when needed.

Guests would usually stay in an empty storage room or guestroom but for Jesus this kataluma would not be available. As Luke tells us, “there was no room in the kataluma”. In the courtyard measuring three or four feet in length the partial wall dividing the animal’s space in the court from the living room. There is a large grove cared in the stone wall measuring three to four feet in length. The cavity was used to hold fodder for the animals. It’s called a “phatne” or manger. Most likely this is the scene that Luke is describing for us.

Mary and Joseph go to a family house in Joseph’s home town and find it full of other relatives. Finding no space in the kataluma they retire to the cave (like a garage) or to the communal courtyard with the animals. There Mary gives birth to a tiny screaming child surrounded by neighbors, animals, and neighbors’ animals out in the open shared space for all to see.

When a newborn baby came into the world a female family member would then cut the cord, wash the baby with water, rub salt on the child and then wrap the baby in swaddling clothes. Swaddling clothes were strips of left over cloth wrapped tightly around the infant’s limbs to hold them straight in case of broken bones. Most likely a relative of Joseph did this for Mary and Jesus and then Jesus was placed in the long niche carved from stone previously filled with animals’ food.

And this is the birth of the King of Kings who came to take all sin away. This was the birth of Jesus called Christ / Messiah / Savior. This is how God came down to be with us; leaving the perfection of heaven for the stench of the food trough.

Back in the large estate home with the lost child the world was spinning out of control. The child’s parents and the nanny ran throughout the house desperately searching for the lost son but he was nowhere to be found. Then the mother remembered he had been asleep on the bed. Frantically she flew up the stairs, through the expensive coats to the floor and digging through the pile she finally found her son. There she found him the very object of the day’s celebration forgotten, neglected; alive but nearly smothered.

In a way, little has changed in our world. In the last 2000 years we’ve become very good at ignoring the guest of honor on Christmas day. We’ve taken Christmas but forgotten Christ. Our guestrooms are full with weary travelers but there is still very often “no room at the inn”.

But remember I said I was going to tell you two sides of the same story. That was just Story 1.

Side 2.: The other side of this story is that things have changed a lot. It would be easy to end the sermon with “no room in the inn” but it’s just not the whole truth. Yeah it’s true we do get a little carried away at times with Christmas and Christ sometimes gets put on the bed with the coats.

But there are also a lot of guest rooms open for him too! Yeah some forget or just plain don’t care what this day is about and some find other noble things to celebrate along with us. But there is room at the inn. Katalumas are open in homes all over this city. I dare you to walk more than 6 bocks without seeing a nativity set in someone’s window or on their front lawn proudly proclaiming the Birth of Christ. 2000 years ago almost no one knew. Today a billion people sit in churches together with Him. Some push and shove at malls but others smile and find themselves somehow more polite than usual. Some by gifts because they think they have too, but most… generously share with those they love. “Keep Christ in Christmas” signs appear on our streets. Well wishes fill our stores. People are giving to charities 20% more this month than any other day of the year. Charitable organizations the world over rely on us Christians at Christmas for ¼ of their total budgets. People are reaching out to the lonely, feeding the hungry, clothing the needy. Some say Merry Christmas and others Happy Holidays, but a holiday means Holy Day and Christ is proclaimed anyway.

Yes one side of the Christmas story is that there is no room at the inn and that will continue on for some time. Not everyone will open their doors to Him. But there is another side to this great day… another side to the story. Room or not, forgotten for a time or not, sooner of later the baby is remembered. There is no stopping Him. Room enough for Him or not. He came just the same. And if the people in this room are proof of anything… he’s here to stay. Today, thanks to you, there is plenty of room in the inn. Praise be to Jesus the Christ, Light of the World, Hope for every moment.

Amen and Merry Christmas!

*Song: Joy to the world vss 1,2,4 (153)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Christmas celebrates the miracle of God’s love, born for us in Christ Jesus, to change the world with acts of mercy and generosity, hope and healing. Share in that miracle by giving what you can, knowing God can do more than we can ask or imagine with our gifts.

Prayer of gratitude, and prayer of celebration

Generous and loving God, your gift to us in Christ Jesus still draws us to the manger and opens our hearts with wonder. Bless our gifts in his name, so that they may draw others to your love and the blessing we have found in the One born for us – the reason we have to celebrate all year round and more. Amen.

*Song: Go, tell it on the mountain (133)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Rejoice this day that Christ is born for us, lived as one of us, died for our sake, and is risen to walk beside us through whatever the future holds.

So may the tenderness of God enfold you, the promise of the Christ uphold you, and the strength of the Spirit lead you on, to greet the year ahead, filled with grace and truth. Amen.

Response: We wish you a merry Christmas

Music postlude


[2] https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Came-Nazareth-Templar/dp/0811847985

[3] https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/where-is-the-child-1109726.html

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.