Babylon

Worship on the Lord’s Day
World Communion Sunday – 10:00 am October 02, 2022
Onsite & Online (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Bradley Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Vocalists: Sam & Ann May Malayang and Peter & Cheryl Sheridan
Elder: Darlene Eerkes

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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

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

Land Acknowledgment

Dayspring Presbyterian Church gathers in and produces material on land previously occupied by several First Nation Peoples (Ceded in Treaties 6,7 and 8) and the homeland of the Metis Nation.

As followers of Christ, we seek to acknowledge the original caretakers of the land, on which the church building stands.

The Dayspring Presbyterian Church Session and Staff lament the pain that has been inflicted on the land’s original peoples and the pain that has been experienced in their homelands by many people who have and continue to seek refuge here.

We lament and condemn any and all manifestations of undeserved hostility towards Metis Peoples, Canada’s original inhabitants as well as recent immigrants and refugees.

As a gathering of Christians, we seek to affirm a welcoming community of faith and care – supporting all those who have come to worship and serve in our midst.

May God speak to all who gather here. May we admit the errors of our past,

deal with what now is, and strive for what is better.

Welcome: I want to extend a very special welcome to those of you joining online.

When COVID first hit most of us found ourselves both interested in and confused by all of the new language and technology this global crisis brought before us. Today we celebrate communion together despite those difficulties. We share together as one both in this room and far beyond.

For those of you not present in the building, I’d like to remind you that today is Communion Sunday. Please locate your communion elements for use later in our worship.

Call to Worship
L: Single or married,
P: Older or younger,
L: Faithful follower of Jesus,
P: New to the conversation,
L: Born here, or from far away,
P: Together we gather
L: Together we make up the church
P: Come, let us share together, grow together and know Him together.  Amen.

Passing the peace of Christ
Peace be with you
And also with you

Opening praise: I love You, Lord

Prayers of approach and lament

Be present with us, Lord, Though we are scattered we know you are here. We come carrying the concerns of our daily lives. We come holding our sorrow. We come sharing the grief and wounds of others. We come asking that you meet us here in our brokenness. We come to lament the ways in which we have failed.

And yet also to present a case, that the world is failing us.

We come to confess our shortcomings and our missteps.

And yet we cannot help but feel that the whole of creation is out of step.

We come seeking you. But also we come complaining to you. Like those before us, we know that you are present and yet your face is often hidden and your plans showed. What you want Lord and What you Allow are not always the same thing. In your passive will we find our greatest fears.

And like those before us we cry too, saying “How long Lord” How long will people suffer.

Stay with us, Lord. Guide us continually as we begin to open ourselves to listen and lament, to bring to you the completeness of our being, knowing it is not perfect, but it is honest.

Take our burdens lord, take them and dissolve them.

Answer soon we cry. How long?

You our God, despite all things, all experiences and all fears, are our ever present hope. Our trust is in you.

Though the world spins on and disaster stikes we pray that we might also see your Glory in what is. For the morning begun anew, fresh chances to act today, for the praise of Nature bowing to your will and for new endurance for what might be ahead.

We pray for a calming of the world and a new day. Amen.

Song: Morning has broken (814)

We listen for the voice of God

Scripture readings (NRSV): II Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 137

Psalm 137 (RSV]: Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem

1 By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down, and there we wept when we remembered Zion.

2 On the willows there we hung up our harps.

3 For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!

6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

7 Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall, how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!”

8 O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us!

9 Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock.

Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “Babylon”

This is the word of the Lord???

9:15, Sunday evening; it’s September 1992. It’s a cool summer in Vienna, Austria. The phone rings at the home of Dianne Collard and her husband. They’re missionaries with the European Missionary Society. It’s the police. The call comes from the Collards home town in California. “Mrs. Collard, I need the phone numbers and addresses of your closest relatives in this area. I believe a Timothy Collard has been involved in an accident here, and we’re checking it out. We’ll call you back in 30 minutes.”

30 minutes of nervous terror pass. Timothy is Dianne’s 23 year old son. After agreeing to take a female coworker home after work, Tim’s truck was parked outside in the parking lot while the two talked. Tim’s female passenger is a victim of domestic violence. Unknown to them, a jealous husband lurks behind the car. He is intoxicated. He suspects his wife is cheating on him and he’s brought a gun. His name is Mike and Mike unloads 8 hollow point rounds through the back of Tim’s truck window. Five shots rip through the back of his own wife injuring her severely. Mike marches towards the truck. Three more shots follow. All three land in the back of Tim’s head; he’s dead long before the third bullet enters his skull.

Mike is a good shot.

Dianne and her husband caught a flight back to California immediately. As she is leaving the house a close friend lovingly reminds her. “Remember Dianne, these two things are both true…Your son is dead and God is still good.” “No!” Dianne protests, I will never say, ‘My son’s been murdered’, and ‘God is good – in the same sentence!’”

Around the year of 590BC the Babylonian army finds itself at odds with Egypt. The Assyrians forces have begun to crumble and even Egypt has taken a decisive hit by the Babylonian forces. The world players are gearing up and consolidating their power. Each nation believes that it is destined to rule the entire known world. Babylon and its new hero King Nebuchadnezzar is slowly sending small waves of attacks across the lands. In each city they enter they remove a small number of wealthy, prominent leaders and take them back to the areas surrounding the capital city of Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar sets them up with royal salaries and homes. He is a genius. Later he will use their influence to control the people of their lands when he brings larger waves of exiles back to Babylon. Meanwhile in the raided cities, Nebuchadnezzar sets up puppet kingdoms and gives the people a small measure of control as well as the illusion of self governance. It is a sham and just about everyone knows it. He is building an empire. He is changing the maps.

Whenever Nebuchadnezzar receives word of revolt, he lashes out violently against the people, kills the puppet king, and increases the frequency and severity of domination. Where possible he removes traditional worship from the area and sets up temples to Marduk and Nebo (the god for whom he is named).

After giving the people of a captured city time to get used to a certain measure of Babylonian rule, Nebuchadnezzar moves in with a full scale invasion. By this point he was won over many leaders and convinced far more that reception and acceptance of Babylonian control is better than opposition, destruction and death. He moves his troops in straight lines.

They attack one city after another adding more and more soldiers all along the way. The southern kingdom of Judah will lose 46 fortified cities before Babylon makes its way to the capital. The defiant he kills; to those whom lend a hand he pays a handsome price. His focus is to assimilate all he meets into Babylon and he hires military leaders from each city and town he concurs to help him in his tasks – pitting neighboring countries against each other under his command. As his armies grow so does his empire.

By 587BC many of the compliant and influential religious and military leaders of Jerusalem have been removed. They are spread throughout the Babylonian kingdom. And in 586BC Nebuchadnezzar sends his armies into the southern sections of Jerusalem to flatten it.

The city’s neighbors from Edom are no help. Instead of resistance, neighbors mock neighbors). The Edomites will cheer as the Babylonian army tears Solomon’s Temple down to the ground. Babylon will show the chosen people who has really been chosen. They will show whose god is more powerful. They will destroy the kings home and court. They will show who really rules the lands of Zion; remove everything of value from the Temple treasury and remove all but the sick and elderly from the land.

Warfare is typical of the time. Babies are of little use to a conquering nation building an army. In line with the common practices of brutal ancient warfare the infants are slaughtered (babies were usually stomped to death). The God of Zion has been found weak and so His temple is destroyed. Babylon will set up its own worship in the rubble of the land. The exiles will be spread around the Babylonian empire. They will be combined with the exiles of many other nations.

Nebuchadnezzar has it in mind to breed diversity away. After one generation mixed together in a foreign land, there will no longer be such a thing as Israelite, or any other “ite” for that matter. Eventually all will be Babylonians under one god and one king.

This is where our Psalm begins.

By the Chebar / Euphrates river system the exiled survivors gather. Kneeling on the wet river front, the Judean captives come together for some since of normalcy. They come together for worship. It is a contradiction even in their own minds. There is no sacrifice apart from the Temple. There are no priests of the LORD in Babylon. They’ve come to try and worship a God that they are not even sure is with them. They wonder, what does it mean to worship the God of Isreal, when His home and temple lay in ruins and His people made captives in foreign lands. They wonder if Jerusalem is now little more than a relic of past times; the God of Israel just another defeated foe of Babylon like them. It is a crisis of faith.

And then it happens, like slaves in the southern US being asked to sing joyful spirituals; to put on a show for their masters, the people from Judah gather by the rivers as their captors call out to them for songs. The musicians have brought their instruments but when they get there, reality hits them square in the face. The Babylonians mock them, “sing us one of the songs of Zion” they say, “sing us one of those nice songs about how great your Temple is”. “Sing about how powerful Israel’s God is”, “how he will save you”… the words just wont come.

The musicians cannot bring themselves to worship. God it seems is still back in Jerusalem with the rubble. Torn between their love of God and Nation and the perception that God is absent, the conflicted worshipers cry out in pain and anger, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land”. A hand drops from the stings of the harp; the musician says, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand whither”.

And the words pour from the singer’s lips “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth”. They cry out for justice. They beg God to remember how the Edomites cheered at their demise. They call out for equality; for something few of us ever will, for righteous indignation (for perfect Godly anger). The slaves of Babylon cry out an oath to never forget Jerusalem and also one of the most disturbing lines in the entire Bible. To the pregnant women of Babylon they cry, “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us- he who seizes your little ones and dashes their heads against the rocks.”

1   By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

2  There on the poplars we hung our harps,

3  for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4  How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?

5  If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

6  May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.

7  Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”

8  Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.

9  Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

I’d like to tell you that this is where God swoops in and makes everything alright. That Jesus the messiah, the Christ, the “savior” swoops in like superman and saves the day. But that is not what happens. The psalm ends with lines of anger and cries for vengeance. It ends human; it ends ugly.

Is this the word of God? Yes.

It is a moment of pure emotion and pure honesty. It is a moment frozen in time and at the same time it is an everyday occurrence. It’s what happens when people in intense pain, cry out to a God that already knows their thoughts; a God that is more than capable of handling what they cannot.

It is a time to stop hiding what they truly feel; to strip themselves down to their very foundations and admit that they are lost in their pain and lost in their anger; that they will voice their rage no matter how terrible it may seem. It’s a time to stop pretending everything is alright; a time to get down in the filthy mud by the beautiful rivers and lay it all out on the table for God. It is a time that everyone in this room will face at some point in your life.

Back in Vienna; on the way out the door, Diane Collard did this. She swore an oath to not forget Jerusalem). She refused to abandon God, but at the same time she was not willing to shrug off the death of her son with a simple cliché. Her faith would not be broken but it would have to bend or dare I say bow. She said, “I will never say my son has been murder and God is good, in the same sentence”. No, she cried out in pain and pure honesty (hiding nothing from her God). She put her songs of joy away and like the harp, she hung it on the tree. She got down in the mud of her life and said, remember the Edomites Lord and what they did!

And in that moment she wanted what the exiles in Babylon wanted… what we would all want – retribution. She wanted her son’s killer Mike, in the morgue where he belonged. She wanted to say to Mike’s mother, happy is the one that takes your little one and dashes his head against the rocks! She cast off all the things that keep us from telling God the truth; all restraint. And she gave it all, good and bad alike.

So, it’s true (while some might) most of us will never know what it is like to have our country invaded by foreign armies, our churches burned to the ground and our children murdered. But some will. And no matter what else we will all know what it’s like to suffer. At some point in life we either have been or we all will be down by the rivers of Babylon.

When was the last time, you went down to the river? When was the last time you had something you just couldn’t handle? When did you last tell an all-knowing God what He already knows anyway? – That you can’t do it alone!

When did you last stop pretending that everything is always fine, hang up your harps and cry to God? When was the last time you got really honest with God? When did you last take that thing in your life that sits down deep in the mud, let it go, and give it to the only one that can fully and finally handle it?

This is the word of the Lord???

Yes, it is.

And it is life.

Sometimes it’s ugly.

But you will never have to hide anything from our God…

The One it turned out, was still in the Temple, was in Babylon, and always will there. Amen

Song: Let us talents and tongues employ (563)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: At this time we would like to acknowledge the prayer support, volunteered time, financial donations, phone calls, cards and everything else you do for the betterment of Christ’s Bride the church. Let us bow, give thanks and also bring our prayers for others to our God…

Prayer of gratitude, and for others and ourselves

For workers uncovering sites of torture and abuse in Ukraine

For the volunteers helping to sort through the devastation following the many deaths in Jakarta Indonesia

For the recovery efforts in Florida and all along the east caost of this land.

For wisdom and for calm as elections begin in Brazil and for those working to make exceptionally long travel easier for those who must journey in order to vote

For those attending the Global Climate Summit and that calm heads prevail.

For the safety of millions of people still travelling north towards the US southern boarders and those who simply work to keep them alive.

For the preservation of the Rain Forrest and those fighting the fires raging through the amazon.

For West Bank Families of both sides caught up in a complex history and those calling for more communication rather than bullets.

For strength for those fighting for clean water in Native Communities aross North America.

For women and their support networks in Iran protesting violence and seeking an increase in basic human rights.

For Famers in India as well as around the world.

Lord be with all those seeking peaceful resolution and active, positive change.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

Invitation: Ours is a God who knows what it’s like. A God tested and tempted. A God who suffered and died. This is the God of comfort – The God who invites us all to dine with him, here and some day in paradise. Come to the table of the Lord.

Song: All who hunger, gather gladly (534)

The Apostles’ Creed (539)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again 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 Communion Prayer

Today I thought I might do something a bit different. I would like to use the words of the Book of Common Order of the Presbyterian Church in Canada second edition. These are the updated words from 1968 and it’s a bit awkward to be sure, but there is still a lot of power in them.

Beloved in the Lord, attended to the words of the institution of the Holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as they are delivered unto us by St. Paul the Apostle.

“I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered on to you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it,…….. and said take, eat, this is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me. After the same manner, also, he took up the cup, when he had supped, saying this cup is the New Covenant in my blood ……., this do ye, as often as you drink it, and in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.”

Therefore, that we may fulfill our Saviors institution in righteousness and in joy, let us follow his blessed example in word and an action, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.

As the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed did take, I take these elements of bread and wine to be set apart from all common uses to this holy use and mystery, and as he gave thanks and blessed, let us draw nigh to God, and present unto him our prayers and thanksgiving.

Let us pray,

Be with us Mighty God, the heavenly King, that we may magnifying Thy praise. With Angels and Archangels and with all the company of Heaven, We Worship and adore your glorious name, Evermore praising ye and saying holy holy holy Lord God of hosts, heaven on Earth are full of the glory, glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Verily holy, very blessed, art thou. Almighty and merciful God, who did so loved the world that gave us thy only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Not as we ought, but as we are able, we bless thee for thy holy Incarnation, for his perfect life on Earth, for his precious suffering and death upon the cross, for his glorious resurrection and Ascension, for his continual intercession and a rule at thy right hand, for the promise of his holy coming again. And also for his gift of the Holy Spirit.

And so now, our Mighty Lord, we present ourselves to thee in his perfect name. Lift us to thy presence, make us one body and join all present to thy eternal glory in honor of your only son our Lord. Amen.

Sharing of the Bread and Wine

Take ye, eat ye, this is the body of Christ, which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of Him.

This cup is the new covenant in the blood of the Lamb, which is shed for many unto the remission of sins, Drink ye all or it and in remembrance of Him.

He who is faithful is always faithful. Amen.

Song: One bread, one body (540)

Prayer after Communion

Lord thanks be to you for this enriching meal. O Lord our father we give thee hearty thanks for thy most blessed communion of which though hast this day made us partakers of. Make thy grace always sufficient for us, perfect thy strength in our weakness, and support us when temptations and sorrow assail us. Give us power to endure unto the end, and let the light of thy countenance and perfect peace, be upon us now and for evermore. Amen.

Hymn: Put peace into each other’s hands (560)

Sending out with God’s blessing
The world is not always easy
But God is always there.
God is on the mountain top.
And God is in Babylon
Not just with the Israelites, but with all.
And now, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. So that you may endure all. Amen.

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

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Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

The Communion liturgy is based on The Book of Common Order (1964) of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

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

Posted in Recent Sermons.