Worship on the Lord’s Day
07 January 2024 10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Minister: The Rev. Brad Childs
Service led by Lynn Vaughan Communion led by: The Rev. Dr. John Carr
Music Director: Binu Kapadia Vocalist: Linda F-B
Elder: Sam Malayang
We gather to worship God
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.
Call to Worship
L: The day is new, the church is here!
P: We gather to celebrate.
L: We come to share and learn and grow.
P: We come with joy to love and serve the Lord. Amen
Opening praise: This is amazing grace
Prayers of approach and confession
God of possibility and power, on this first day of the week, you began creating, bringing light to shine and bringing order out of chaos.
On this first day of the week, you began your new creation, raising Christ out of death, breathing new life into the world.
On this first day of the week, you call us to waken from sleep and gather in your holy name.
So, we come to listen and wonder, to sing, pray, and be fed.
By the gift of your Holy Spirit, make us your instruments of hope in a hurting world, in answer to the prayer and praise we offer this day in Jesus’ name. Amen
Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah
Assurance of God’s love
Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn?
Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us.
Believe the good news of the Gospel!
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free to make a new start.
We listen for the voice of God
Song: My lighthouse
Compare the two balloons:
The empty balloon represents us – on our own without God inside our hearts – All floppy and flat – we are pretty useless, certainly not as beautiful. Really not much good for anything.
What does this balloon need?
If I wanted to change this floppy good for nothing balloon, I could try to do so by filling it up with my own air (blow up balloon) – like trying to tell others how good I am. This puffed up balloon can represent ME — trying to look great by filling myself with my own ideas, my best behavior, my self-appointed attitude. There are all kinds of things that we can do to try and look good for others.
BUT – things we are able to do on our own can never ever compare to what God can do. Hard as we try, we can never lead a life that would honor and please God if we’re doing it on our own. So, the best thing I can do with a puffed up balloon (puffed up self-inflated me) would be to:
Let it go – See: I really would fly off in all directions with what was inside of me! I certainly do need to empty my balloon (ME) of all of my own air or “self-inflating” attitudes, self-structured behaviors, and pre-planned ideas.
Show the balloon that represents God and talk about the difference. This balloon is much better in many ways.
- It is more beautiful and nicer to look at than the deflated empty ME balloon.
- It is more powerful and can do lots of things:
- messages can be attached –
- it can fly so high, ride the winds
- it can fly alone, even without wind
- it can go higher than I could ever go.
Think about how the helium gives this a power within the balloon that makes these things possible. Now, think of the helium in this balloon as the Spirit of God. With God’s spirit inside us, we can do great things for God.
Before a balloon can fulfill its purpose, someone must breathe some life into it. You and I need the Holy Spirit to fill us, so we can be all that God wants us to be. A balloon filled with helium can represent my life filled with God’s Power, God’s strength, and the Holy Spirit. It is only because of His power, His Spirit and His strength that I can do great things for God in my life.
With God’s Spirit, like the helium in the balloon, we too can go far … doing things that God will give us the power to do – giving us strength to overcome problems and difficulties and sadness in our lives – and telling others about Jesus without fear. We can be filled with HIS spirit, HIS power, HIS might, and HIS Truth.
Thank you, God
For filling us up so much
With your power | your strength | your spirit | and your love.
Help us to honour you
In everything we do.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Song: We three kings (173)
Scripture readings (NRSV): Ephesians 3:1-12 and Matthew 2:1-12
Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
Today, I’m just going to share with all of you a bit about my faith journey and some of my own experiences and beliefs. It’s not so much a “journey” though, as you will see, as the church has always been a part of my life.
I have chosen to highlight the Epiphany this week, which takes place officially on January 6th. The scripture readings we heard just now told of the time when the Wise Men arrived to see this mystery baby that was said to be set to change the world. Up until that point, the only ones witness to the birth of Jesus were a handful of stable animals, a few shepherds and probably a number of local villagers in Bethlehem. Obviously, rumours had spread and news had made it all the way to Herod. But it wasn’t really until the magi arrived and saw everything for themselves, that it all changed! Once these three special visitors saw Jesus with their own eyes, they then believed and celebrated the arrival of this new king – this light of the world. They left Bethlehem and started to tell everyone about their experience. Now, the whole world was hearing about this new baby, our saviour, and it was a cause for great celebration.
So, that is what I’m going to focus on for my talk today: celebration! Celebrating our faith.
As many of you know, I grew up as a PK – a “preacher’s kid” – so coming to church was part of my life since I was born. My father, Rev. George Johnston, ministered to a few different congregations across Canada throughout his long career with the Presbyterian Church. He had a special way of presenting his sermons – we’ll talk more about that in a bit. At various stages in my life, the church meant different things to me, and I experienced it differently. Here are some examples:
When I was very young, it was a BIG deal to attend church. I remember my dad rising early on Sunday mornings to meticulously polish his shoes before the service. He wanted them to sparkle below his long, heavy robe. We all had to get dressed up and look our best, and we had our special ‘Sunday clothes’ that we wore only for that purpose. My mom, my two sisters and I often wore matching dresses that mom had sewn herself and my two brothers always wore suits and ties, so we could really shine together as a family!?! I’m sure that most of you who attended church way back in the day remember dressing up in your very best outfits on Sunday mornings. Even through all the pomp and circumstance that it seemed to be, it ingrained in my young mind that church was a celebration. I mean, we were all dressed up and surrounded by a bunch of other people: it felt like a party to me! (balloon)
Sunday School, of course, was a staple in my life. It was pretty regimented, but I still remember it as being fun. We saw the same group of kids each and every week – nobody was ever absent! We had booklets full of study materials that we had to fill out and a constant stream of verses from the scriptures that we had to memorize. The annual Sunday School Christmas pageant was a huge event, and we practiced for months in advance. The audience was always made up of the families from the congregation, of course, plus lots of members of the general community. It was a very exciting event, for sure, and it was a great celebration for all who attended. (balloon)
Some of my fondest memories still, during that elementary school age, were being in the Junior Choir at our church in Ontario. Although I did like to sing – still do – the absolute BEST part of the weekly practices for me was when the music director gave each of us a large, purple, sour grape gumball at the end of the evening. That is the part I remember the most – well, that and the fact that my brother got a solo in the pageant one year when I didn’t!? – but that gumball was what kept me coming back. Whatever the reason, it was fun, I looked forward to attending every Wednesday night. I just remember it being a super enjoyable experience of church life during more of those formative years. (balloon)
As a teenager here at Dayspring, I was fortunate that we had a good number of young people attending church. We had quite a big Youth Group, and nobody seemed too shy about inviting their friends from the neighbourhood or from school to come to events at the church. I remember having some pretty big Halloween costume parties and dances here over the years, plus even the bible studies had quite a few kids in attendance. The Synod hosted an annual Youth Conference that brought a hundred or more young people together for a weekend, and Camp Kannawin was bursting at the seams every summer with kids’ camps. I was involved in so many wonderful events and experiences as a young person, being a Christian or coming to church was always a positive time for me. Maybe I was lucky or maybe it was my rose-coloured glasses, but I truly enjoyed all of these times. (balloon)
Now, the only real hiccup along the way in my faith journey probably happened when I was a young adult. It had to do with my dad and his preaching style and/or what seemed to ME to be his philosophy on church services and how we were to experience them. Here is where we get a little disconnected in our thinking, but I believe it is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this whole idea that church, that our faith, should be a cause for celebration.
Maybe it’s an age thing – I don’t know – but I had trouble understanding some of my dad’s ways of thinking and his preaching style. As I mentioned earlier, he was a bit hard core and old-school in the way he presented his sermons: I would call it ‘bible thumping’. (Remember: this is MY own recollection of how I personally related to his style at the time and at my age. I mean no offense to him or to anyone who loved his preaching.) As far as I remember, he would quote the scriptures and then he very seriously and solemnly would lay it all out there about how we were to follow along with our lives. I’m not sure that he ever smiled during his sermons. I can’t recall that he ever told a joke in the service. And heaven forbid that anyone clap their hands in church, do anything to show that they were happy to be there OR were in any kind of a celebratory mood for any reason. Coming to church was serious business!!
As you can imagine, if you know me at all, this is pretty much the exact opposite of how I feel about church and faith and what our experience should be as we build our relationship with God. I’m not saying that I’m completely carefree with how I express myself in the sanctuary, but I believe from my very core that we should be celebrating what it means to have God in our lives! Because of God and the sacrifices that Jesus made in taking all our sins upon himself, dying on the cross for us, and ensuring that we have a life beyond what this world provides, church should be one of the happiest places to attend and it should allow us to experience the biggest celebration in our lives that we can imagine!
I got married right here on this platform 25 years ago. Of course, that was a wonderful day and a cause to celebrate. But I have also said good-bye to each of my parents and to my dear sister right here in this sanctuary, not so very long ago … yet I still believe that even in those sad times, there is a reason to celebrate in our faith. We know that our loved ones are no longer in pain and they are now embraced in God’s loving arms. But we need to remember that WE are also embraced in God’s loving arms, as we forge ahead and continue on with what will ultimately be our short stint here on earth before an eternal life of glory. God is here with us now to support us and love us through the good times and the bad. (balloon)
I hope that when you walk through the doors of Dayspring’s sanctuary – or ANY time that you are speaking to God, whether that’s at church, kneeling beside your bed at night, camping in the great outdoors, driving in your car, wherever – that you are able to find that sense of celebration that is meant to be here in our hearts. Because of our faith and our belief in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we can lay our troubles, our worries, our sadness, our brokenness at the foot of the cross. Right here. God will then lift those things up and take those burdens away from us. We can give our troubles to God and allow Him to embrace us with His never-ending support and His all-encompassing love.
If we allow ourselves to be, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and feel light and free, like this balloon. Now, THAT is something to celebrate!!
Finally, I’d like to end with just a small excerpt from a poem written by a well-known Presbyterian named Ann Weems that I first read when I was a teenager, and it really hit home with me. Her full poem was handed out with your bulletin, and I encourage you to take it home and read it through completely … maybe even a few times, to let it really sink in.
Where did we get the idea that balloons don’t belong in church?
Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and sh-h-h-h-h?
And drab and anything will do?
I think it’s blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God’s world.
I think it’s blasphemy not to bring our joy into God’s church.
Life is a celebration, an affirmation of God’s love.
Life is distributing more balloons.
For God so loved the world …
Surely, that’s a cause for joy.
Surely, we should celebrate!
Good News! That God should love us that much.
Where did we ever get the idea that balloons don’t belong in church?
Song: Christ, whose glory fills the skies (177)
We respond to serve God: Our time of giving
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
God our Maker, we offer our gifts to you in thanksgiving for your gifts to us in Christ and in creation. Bless what we bring and who we are, so that our gifts will bless the world you love in Christ’s name. Amen.
God of Grace, we turn to you in prayer with open and hopeful hearts.
We thank you for the work of your church in all its expressions and for all that brings your love, healing and justice into the world.
We thank you for the healing we have known in our lives:
for times we have been forgiven;
for relationships repaired and strengthened;
for comfort in times of grief;
for pain eased and recovery from illness.
While Covid 19 and other illnesses still haunt our communities, we pray for those struggling with lingering effects or fresh infection.
And we pray for those in health care coping with challenges that have no easy solution.
Give each one the hope and courage they need to face this new year.
We pray for people around the world and those in our own community or congregation who must confront challenges conflict daily; for those working for justice in the face of oppression; and for all who know hunger and homelessness after drought and disaster and unexpected circumstances.
Give them hope and courage to face this new year.
Strengthen us to serve you not only with our words, but also with our actions.
Help us to see others with your eyes, and reach out with your compassion, especially where differences divide.
Teach us how to work together and show what it means to follow you in changing times. Amen.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
When our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. Luke 24:30, 31
This is not a Dayspring Table. Neither is it a Presbyterian Table. It is a Table for all humankind – for men and women, girls and boys, who are seeking, or who have found, a relationship with Jesus Christ, whose Table this is. Do we believe that we are not in charge of the Table – rather that Jesus is? Yes – and Jesus says that all are welcome.
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 Peace of Christ be with you.
Song: Jesus calls us here to meet Him (528)
The Communion Prayer
M: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
M: Lift up your hearts.
P: 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.
As we partake of this bread and wine, we honor Creator and creation.
As we bless and share these gifts, we celebrate the Table fellowship of Jesus.
All are made worthy by Jesus – adults, teenagers, children. All are welcome!
As we receive the fruits of Spirit, we celebrate the communion and community of all humankind.
Creator, Christ, and Spirit dance as one. So may it always be.
And we join with the whole creation to lift our hearts in joyful praise.
All: 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.
O God, our Mother and Father, bread baker and wine maker, we give you thanks and praise.
You brought the universe into being, instilled all creation with life, and shaped us humans as Your people.
In Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the True Vine, You feed us with the Word. And You nourish us with Your Love poured out in abundance upon us.
O present Spirit, help us recognize the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread.
Feed the world and us with this bread.
Bring joy with this wine.
May Bread and Wine be leaven, salt, and life in us – a community of faith strengthened by this symbolic meal.
We pray in the name of Jesus who came among us – a deep mystery of faith.
ALL: Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.
Come, Holy One, come.
Bless and prosper this community of faith and service.
Bless and prosper our lives, that justice and love may be the measure of our individual and community witness.
Bless us as we sing the prayer that Jesus taught.
The Lord’s Prayer (469)
Sharing of the Bread and Wine
Minister: Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (I Cor. 10:17)
(The Elder breaks the Bread as the Minister says the following.)
Minister: When we break the bread, it is a sharing in the body of Christ. (I Cor. 10:16)
Minister: When we bless the cup, it is a sharing in the blood of Christ. (I Cor. 10:16.)
(The Elder pours the wine from the Cruet into the Cup)
Minister: The wine, like Christ’s blood, is poured out as a declaration that we can have life and have life more abundantly.
The Bread of Life … available for all of us. …
Christ’s love poured out … for all of us. …
Prayer of Gratitude
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us symbolically and we have experienced your Real Presence.
We thank You for all those who have shared in this mystery, and thus in You – here and in many places, and throughout two millennia.
Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Song: With the Lord as my guide (574)
Sending out with God’s blessing
The season of Epiphany celebrates God’s light breaking into the world in Christ Jesus, and so:
May the light of God lead you,
the light of Christ embrace you,
and the light of the Holy Spirit enliven you
So that you know both hope and peace
this day and each coming day. Amen
Response: 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.
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. Dr. John Carr (Communion liturgy) and Lynn Vaughan (messages and prayers) retain the copyright (© 2024) on all original material in this service. As far as they are aware, all of the material 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 as soon as possible after notification is received.