Worship on the Lord’s Day
Harvest Sunday 10 October 2023 10:00 am
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia Vocalist: Fionna McCrostie
Elder: Sam Malayang
We gather to worship God
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.
Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Thanksgiving Food Bank Processional
Our thanksgiving to God comes during complicated times. There have been many losses through fire, storm and flood. Many harvests are diminished by drought. Some days it is hard to feel thankful. Yet we trust God can turn what we share into an abundance we cannot imagine. So, offer what you can and trust God will bless your gift and your good intentions for it.
Together we support the food bank, our neighbourhood and city.
We now dedicate our gifts and ourselves to God’s service. May every good deed be magnified and multiplied for your work and according to your will.
Prayer: Gracious God, we offer our gifts as tokens of our gratitude for what we have to. Bless our gifts and our energy so they will bless others in need in our community and around your world, for the sake of Christ our Lord. Amen.
Silent preparation for worship
Call to Worship
L: We gather this morning to remember our call:
P: To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.
L: We bring with us the events of the week in the world and in our lives,
P: Trying to know how to be just and loving and humble in the midst of it all.
L: We gather here, and see those who are doing justice, who are kind beyond measure, who set the example for humility.
P: With gratitude for living saints, with thankfulness for the purpose of faith, let us worship God.
Opening praise: Holy is the Lord, God almighty
Prayers of approach and confession
God of abundant love, when we hunger for fulfillment, you offer us the Bread of Life.
When we thirst for your presence, you fill our cup to overflowing.
You draw near to us in every place, at any time.
Holy One, in you our deepest desires are fulfilled.
So to you, O God, Creator, Christ and Spirit, we offer thanksgiving, honour and praise with all your people, here and everywhere, now and always.
God of abundant mercy, you see our failures to keep your law of love.
We have not always loved our neighbours as you taught.
We find it impossible to love our enemies as Jesus asked.
Forgive us all the times we failed to live out your love.
Renew in us the courage to offer others the generosity of heart you have shown us in Jesus.
Response: Glory, Glory, hallelujah
Assurance of God’s love
Friends, believe the good news! Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation; the old life is fading, and the new life has started to emerge – in us. Know that you are forgiven, and so have the courage to forgive one another.
We listen for the voice of God
Response: Open our eyes, Lord (445)
Story: “The Seagull” from More Hot Illustrations for youth talks (Blue ed.)
Imagine this scene: You are on the Florida coast. The sun is setting like a gigantic orange ball. It’s the cool evening on a vacant, isolated stretch of beach. The water is lapping at the shore, the breeze is blowing slightly. There are one or two joggers and a couple of fishermen. Most people have gone home for the day.
You look up and you see an old man with curved shoulders, bushy eyebrows, and bony features hobbling down the beach carrying a bucket. He carries the bucket up to the pier, a dock that goes out into the water. He stands on the dock and you notice he is looking up into the sky and all of a sudden you see a mass of dancing dots. You soon recognize that they are seagulls. They are coming out of nowhere. The man takes out of his bucket handfuls of shrimp and begins to throw them on the dock. The seagulls come and land all around him. Some land on his shoulders, some land on his hat, and they eat the shrimp. Long after the shrimp are gone his feathered friends linger. The old man and the birds.
What is going on here? Why is this man feeding seagulls? What could compel him to do this—as he does week after week?
The man in that scene was Eddie Rickenbacker, a famous World War II pilot. His plane, The Flying Fortress, went down in 1942 and no one thought he would be rescued. Perhaps you have read or heard how he and his eight passengers escaped death by climbing into two rafts for thirty days. They fought thirst, the sun, and sharks. Some of the sharks were nine feet long. The boats were only eight feet long. But what nearly killed them was starvation. Their rations were gone within eight days and they didn’t have anything left.
Rickenbacker wrote that even on those rafts, every day they would have a daily afternoon devotional and prayer time. One day after the devotional, Rickenbacker leaned back and put his hat over his eyes and tried to get some sleep. Within a few moments he felt something on his head. He knew in an instant that it was a seagull that had perched on his raft. But he knew that they were hundreds of miles out to sea. Where did this seagull come from? He was also certain that if he didn’t get that seagull he would die. Soon all the others on the two boats noticed the seagull. No one spoke, no one moved. Rickenbacker quickly grabbed the seagull and with thanksgiving, they ate the flesh of the bird. They used the intestines for fish bait and survived.
Rickenbacker never forgot that visitor who came from a foreign place. That sacrificial guest. Every week, he went out on the pier with a bucket of shrimp and said thank you, thank you, thank you.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14). The word “compels” means literally, “leaves me no choice.” Paul is saying, “I have no choice but to respond to the love of Christ with my whole being—to say thank you, thank you, thank you!”
When we serve Christ, when we share God’s love with others, when we come to church each week to worship him, we don’t do it begrudgingly. We do it with thankful hearts because we really have no choice. It’s how we say thank you!
Our God, we pray that you would help us to be thankful for everything that we have. Things as simple as a bed. Or food or water. All of these things can go away and yet they come to us through you. Lovely! Thank you for all that we have – for our families and the people we love. Help us to say thanks and to love back.
The Lord’s Prayer (535)
Song: For the beauty of the earth (434)
Scripture reading: Hebrews 7:26-27; James 2:14; Jude 20:21
Response: Behold the Lamb of God
Message: Bible Basics: The other Letters
The Book of Hebrews is a significant text in the Christian Bible. Its authorship remains a subject of debate among scholars to this day. Early on, it was attributed to the Apostle Paul, but that needs to be corrected. The book is unique in form and is often described as a sermon rather than a traditional letter. Not surprisingly, the letter to the Hebrew is addressed to Jewish Christians, urging them to remain faithful to their newfound freedom in Christ rather than returning to traditional Judaism.
One of the central themes of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus Christ. The author emphasizes that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God, more significant than any of the prophets or angels who preceded Him. He is portrayed as the High Priest who offers a perfect and eternal sacrifice, contrasting with the Old Testament sacrificial system that required continual offerings. The book also underscores the importance of faith, presenting a hall of fame of faithful individuals from the Old Testament to inspire the readers to persevere in their faith journey.
Hebrews also delves into the concept of the New Covenant, highlighting the transformative power of Christ’s sacrifice and the believer’s access to God’s presence. It explores the idea of faith as the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, encouraging Christians to remain steadfast in their trust in God’s promises. Overall, the Book of Hebrews is a profound theological treatise that has inspired and encouraged Christians throughout history, emphasizing the enduring relevance of Jesus Christ as the ultimate foundation of faith.
Hebrews – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV): “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” This verse is often called the definition of faith and encapsulates one of the Book of Hebrews’ central themes, which is faith’s importance. The entire book is a profound exploration of faith, demonstrating how faith in God and His promises is the foundation of the Christian life. The author of Hebrews provides a “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, highlighting the faith of various Old Testament figures as examples for believers to follow.
In addition to faith, Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of Jesus Christ as the ultimate High Priest who offers a perfect and eternal sacrifice. The book delves into the concept of the New Covenant and how Jesus fulfills the Old Covenant, providing believers with direct access to God’s presence. The author also encourages readers to persevere in their faith journey, even in the face of trials and persecution, reminding them of the great cloud of witnesses before them.
The Epistle of James is attributed to James, the brother of Jesus, and is an extremely practical and morally instructive letter. Jesus’ brothers are mentioned several times in the bible Matt 12:46; Luke 8:19, Mark 3:31, Matthew 13:55-56, John 7:1-10, Acts 1:14, Galatians 1:19 and few others. They were all common names, Jesus, Matthew, Joseph Jr. and Simon and Jude. Mark mentions Jesus’ sisters but does not name them. The Roman catholic church believes that these are references to cousins but all authors use adelphos in relation to them meaning “from the same womb.” James is written to the 12 tribes of Israel, dispersed throughout the world. It is often considered a “wisdom” or “proverbial” letter because it focuses on applying faith to everyday life. James famously declares that “faith without works is dead,” emphasizing that genuine faith should manifest in righteous actions and a transformed life.
Another prominent theme in James is the power of the tongue. James warns against the destructive potential of language, emphasizing the need for controlled speech and avoiding harmful gossip, slander, and cursing (not bad words mind you but the idea of attempting to curse someone). James likens the tongue to a small but powerful fire that can set ablaze a whole forest. This teaching underscores the importance of using words to build up and encourage rather than to tear down and harm others.
James addresses issues such as trials and temptations, the relationship between faith and wealth, and the call to humble submission to God. He encourages believers to be patient while suffering and seek God’s wisdom. Throughout the Epistle of James, the overarching message is a call to authentic Christian living, characterized by an active faith that bears fruit in deeds of love, compassion, and righteousness.
1 Peter was written by the apostle and addressed to the scattered in Pontus, Bithynia, Asia, Cappadocia, and Galatia. It provides guidance and encouragement to early Christian communities facing persecution. Peter addresses believers as “aliens and strangers” in the world, emphasizing that our faithful citizenship is in heaven for the Christian. 1 Peter 1:15 says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” The epistle also emphasizes the concept of the Church as a spiritual house built upon the living stone of Jesus Christ. For us that isn’t such a big deal but for much of the original audience would have found it difficult. The Temple isn’t the Temple anymore. We are the Temple. And we can meet God anywhere.
Peter encourages believers to love one another fervently, to submit to governing authorities, and to show honour and respect to all people (even if it means paying your taxes). Peter’s point is that suffering is a part of their Christian journey, pointing out the sufferings of Christ as an example. ‘You think you should have it better than Jesus’ he asks. Peter urges us to respond to suffering with patience and unwavering faith, reminding us of our ultimate hope – salvation through Christ’s resurrection.
2 Peter is traditionally considered one of the more challenging books in the New Testament. This letter serves as a warning against false teachers. Peter emphasizes the importance of discernment and knowledge of Scripture to guard against deception. He says the only way to know if the preacher is teaching the truth is to look back at scripture and see. It was written for “all Christians.” And one of the central themes in 2 Peter is the idea of God’s judgment. Peter references historical examples of divine judgment, such as the flood in Noah’s time, to highlight the certainty of God’s judgment on the ungodly. His point is that Christ is returning and that His people should be ready. That’s why in 2 Peter 1:21, he wrote, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
1 John, much like John’s Gospel, is a profoundly spiritual letter. It is characterized by its emphasis on love, fellowship, and the assurance of salvation (knowing that Christ saves and not being afraid that you aren’t good enough – because “good enough?” – nobody is – that’s the point of grace). It’s based on His work, not ours. John encourages believers to walk in the light, symbolizing a life of righteousness and communion with God. He contrasts this with walking in darkness, which represents a life of sin and separation from God. John emphasizes the importance of love for one another as a sign of genuine faith, declaring that “God is love.” This does not make God love mind you. God is also just and many other things. God is love. But love is not God. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” This verse encapsulates the central theme of love, emphasizing that God’s nature is love, and believers are called to love one another.
Much like with his gospel account, John speaks spiritually about everything. Light, Dark, and Jesus as eternal and divine. He also discusses the Holy Spirit’s role in believers’ lives and encourages us all to “test the spirits” rather than just accepting things as they come. Your conscience and the Holy Spirit are not the same thing. One voice should be loud and other quiet.
2 John is a very similar letter. One interesting thing, for me is that 2 John has a particular audience. It was written “to the elect woman and her children.” John writes specifically to this woman and her children, saying that they are beloved children of God. He tells them to be on the lookout for false teachers. He encourages them to walk in the truth, care for each other and remain faithful. 2 John 1:6 reads, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
3 John is also addressed to an individual. It was written to a man called Gaius, commending him for his support of itinerant Christian workers and missionaries. Gaius had been funding a significant number of mission projects. John praises Gaius for his hospitality and generosity, highlighting the importance of supporting those who labour for the sake of the Gospel. This letter also mentions Diotrephes, who was apparently a man in the congregation who hated John and refused to show hospitality to him or any of the travelling teachers John sent to the congregation. Now that’s some bad publicity that won’t go away. The guy has his name in the bible. John condemns Diotrephes’ behaviour and contrasts it with Gaius’s positive example.
The Book of Jude is one of the shortest books in the New Testament, and it’s addressed to “all believers.” Jude was the brother of James and, like him, the half-brother of Jesus (both of whom came to believe after seeing their brother killed, dead and then alive again. At that point, they really didn’t have much choice but to believe. Jude’s purpose in writing this letter was to address a pressing concern within the early Christian community—the infiltration of false teachers and apostates spreading dangerous doctrines and leading believers astray. Jude cannot stand for the truth to be distorted. To illustrate the consequences of ungodly behaviour, Jude provides a series of historical and biblical examples, such as the rebellion of Israel in the wilderness and the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. These examples are stark warnings of the judgment that awaits those who reject God’s messengers.
Jude describes false teachers as ungodly, immoral, and divisive individuals who follow their desires and create divisions within the Church. He calls the people doing this “clouds without water” and “wandering stars” because they are like much-needed rain that never delivers or stars you can’t follow. The book concludes with a doxology, acknowledging the greatness and glory of God, who can keep believers from stumbling and present them blameless before His presence with great joy.
Hebrews 11:1 captures the overarching theme of faith, while the entire book explores the themes of Jesus’ supremacy, the New Covenant, and the call for believers to persevere in their faith. James‘ teaching challenges the notion that faith is merely a mental assent to specific beliefs; instead, he highlights the need for faith to be active and demonstrated through good deeds.
1 Peter provides a profound theological foundation for understanding the Christian response to suffering, the importance of holy living, and the enduring hope found in Christ. 2 Peter underscores the authority and reliability of Scripture. Peter affirms that the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and warns against those who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction.
1 John is a rich theological text highlighting the transformative power of God’s love and the assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 2 John highlights the importance of loving and obeying God’s commands. 3 John emphasizes the importance of hospitality, support for Christian workers, and the need to reject divisive and self-serving attitudes within the church community. And finally, the Book of Jude is a brief but powerful exhortation to stand firm in the true faith and to guard your heart against false teachers and divisive people.
And next week – Revelation and the End of Days
Song: We praise you, O God (425)
We respond to serve God
Reflection on giving: Dayspring is empowered to carry out our mission of worship, service, and care by generously given volunteer time, talent, and treasure. Many thanks to all who give so generously!
Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
We give you thanks, O God, for all things that make life good, and pray that all people will share in the blessings we know.
For the world, for the wonders of earth, sea and sky; for beauty in nature and wildlife; and for the rhythm of the days and seasons; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For waters that refresh and sustain life; for soil that is fertile and rich; for those who tend crops and care for harvests; for those who produce, deliver and market our food; and for those who make sure the hungry are fed; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For days to work and strength to do it; for the many different gifts and talents you have given us; for those whose work is dangerous and demanding, for those whose positions are necessary for communities to flourish; and for moments of leisure and rest when you restore us; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For human life; for talking and thinking together, working on problems and plans; for burdens and joys shared; for relationships that give life meaning; and for the wisdom exchanged between old and young in mutual support: we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For our circle of family and friends; for children and their curiosity and joy; for the insight that comes with patience and experience; and for events shared and memories cherished; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For your grace in times of anxiety, doubt and grief; for healing in times of illness, confusion, and distress; for rejuvenating strength and renewed purpose; for scientific knowledge and discovery to confront disease and improve health; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
For the trust that you hear each prayer and know every need; that you love and care for each soul and body; and that you walk with us through all our days and seasons; we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.
Song: We are marching / Siyhamba (639)
Sending out with God’s blessing
In this season of harvests from field and garden, walk with thanksgiving in your hearts, savouring the abundance God’s creation produces, honouring what the earth needs to flourish again next season.
And may the blessing of God, our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life, be with you now and remain with you always. Amen.
Response: Amen, we praise your name, O God
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 (© 2023) on all original material in this service. 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.