Choose Life (Brad Childs)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 04 Sep 2022 10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music Director: Binu Kapadia (assisted by Cohen and Logan)
Elder: Iris Routledge

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

Our church building, and the community of faith and care that gathers in that building, as well as the source of our online activity, takes place on the unseeded traditional land of several different First Nation peoples – a land known as Treaty 6, 7, and 8 territory – and further, also the homeland of the Métis nation.

The Dayspring Presbyterian Church Session and Staff laments the pain that has been inflicted on the land’s original peoples and the pain that has been experienced in their homelands by many of those who have sought refuge here since. Additionally, we deplore the fact that some Canadian people continue to manifest underserved hostility towards Canada’s original peoples, Métis people, as well as many current immigrants and refugees.

A gathering of Christian, 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 is, and strive for better. 

Call to Worship
L: God says, “I am the fountain of living water. I will feed you with the finest of wheat, with honey from the rock. You who have wandered far from me, return to me, return to me. You who have gathered close, stay near, stay near. I am the fountain of living water.“
P: You are our strength. You are our helper. You are our life. You are our joy!

Opening praise: Bless the Lord, oh my soul

Prayers of approach and confession

God of all creation,

you have opened the world around us

and filled it with creatures of your love and purpose.

Each one declares your praise –

the mountain states your majesty;

the ripened field, your generosity.

Birds flying aloft sing of your freedom;

the tiny ant works with your persistence.

And what do we declare about you in our lives?

We pray that our work will honour your justice and mercy;

may our relationships speak of your love and compassion.

So may we praise you, O God, not just in this hour of worship,

but in all our waking and our working.

Challenge us today to live out the praise we offer you

through the grace of Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

God of justice and mercy,

we offer you our love and loyalty in worship

yet we admit we do not live out that love and loyalty.

We don’t always act on our good intentions,

we fail to keep our promises,

we hurt each other,

and then refuse to seek or offer forgiveness.

People must look at us and wonder if this is what means to follow Jesus.

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness
From now on, St Paul declared, we regard no one from a human point of view.
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.
Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Thanks be to God that we can make a new start this very day!

We listen for the voice of God

Scripture readings (NRSV): Philemon 1:1-2 ; Psalm 1; Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Response: Thy word is a lamp

Message: “Choose life”

Michael was the kind of guy who had such a positive outlook that you either loved him or hated him. He was sort of the Real Lie Truman from the Truman show (always upbeat). Good morning, and if I don’t see you again, good afternoon and goodnight. When someone would ask Michael how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” He was a natural motivator. If a co-worker was having a bad day, Michael would encourage them and help them to see the positive side of the situation. He always seemed to be smiling.

Once, a friend asked Michael how he could be so positive all the time. After all, it seemed so unnatural compared to the rest of the world. Michael replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or… you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be only a victim or… I can choose to learn and grow from it. I choose to learn and grow from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or … I can point out the positive side of life. I know it seems black and white but get up and intentionally choose the positive side of life.”

The friend protested that even though it sounded great in theory it would be hard to live out. We do not have that much control over ourselves or our environment. We can’t always simply choose to feel this way or that!

Michael responded, “You’re right. But life is also about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation still has is a choice for you. Yeah, you can’t control what comes and you can’t control your gut reactions, emotions aren’t evil, but most of the time, you can actually choose how you react to situations.

It’s not all or nothing but a lot of the time, You choose how other people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. The bottom line is: It’s your choice how you live your life, not what happens but how you respond.”

A few years ago I heard a story about a new teacher who was led into her new classroom by the principal. The room was filled with students. But before she left the principle made a point to whisper something in the new teacher’s ear. She said, “The boy in the back row on the far left is the blind child.” After which came a loud voice from the back of the class. “First: Just became I can’t see, doesn’t mean I can’t hear. And Second: I’m not the blind child. Blind is not what I am. I’m a Child (that happens to be blind.”

Experience, Emotion, Response. Ultimately our choices in life determine who we are and whose we are. It’s not just what happens to us but also how we handle it that matters.

Similarly, I once had a professor found of saying, “Ethics are what others see us do. Morals are what we do when no one else is watching.” It’s an interesting thought. And to be honest – as humans we’ve really never been all that good with – nobody is watching. We’ve never been that good with choices or at living with the consequences of our choices. In fact the first two people in the Bible messed this one up. Adam and Even were given a choice in the garden.

If you’ve ever read this story carefully you might have noticed that everybody just blames everybody else. Do you remember how the story goes?

God points to Adam and says, “Adam have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?” Adam chose to eat the fruit. But just like any “good husband” Adam (right away) mmm. does what??? He blames his wife. Yeah, great role model for partners, right?

He says, “Yes Lord”, “but it was that woman you gave me who brought it to me” – Nice! Adam manages to blame both his wife and God. And this wont be the last time an “adam,” a person, will do this.

So what happens next?

God asks “that woman” what she did; saying, “Eve, how could you do such a thing.”

But what does Eve do?

Straight away Eve blames somebody else too. Accept there’s nobody around.

So “No” she replied, “It was not me! It was that serpent that tricked me”.

Truth be told, we often make the wrong choices and then when we do we’re more likely to try and cover them up than to live with them. I do. It’s so embarrassing but I do. Do you?

Adam and Eve are not alone. Choices are all over and have an impact on our lives as well. Sometimes are choices seems unimportant. Should I eat celery for lunch, (I don’t like celery – it’s like eating wet string) or a BigMac? What shirt should I wear to church? Some choices are huge: where to go to college, what to do for a living, how much money to put away for retirement, should you buy a house – which one – where, should you get that surgery, is it time to get married?

In our reading today from Deuteronomy, the nomadic Israelites wandering in the desert were given a choice. Moses and the freed Israelites were in Moab, just where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. Which might seem like it’s unimportant, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s the thing, when the bible says they hit the place where Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, it means, they have reached the very edge of the desert. Just like today, the waters were often the boarders. The long journey is over. But before they enter the promise land, they have a choice – Choose life or choose death. Follow a law that keeps everyone safe, or break the laws and ruin your people.

The leadership of the people had just been handed over from Moses to Joshua, and Moses knows that he is dying and that he will never enter the Promised Land.

Joshua is now to lead the people and Moses is giving a Farwell speech to his people.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

40 years has gone by since the people escaped slavery in Egypt and it has been hard. Moses takes this one last moment to remind the people of all the things that God has done for them. Although the people have been rescued from the brink of death repeatedly and are now about to receive the blessing they have waited a lifetime for, they once again have begun to complain and to turn away from God.

The days ahead for the Israelites would not be easy. Making the right choice isn’t always easy. Moses reminds them of everything God has done for them, how he got them out of Egypt, how he fed them in the desert how he found them water, how he fed them with manna, how they organized a society, how they prospered.

These verses from Deuteronomy sum up a series of sermons delivered by Moses in which he explains his vision for the Israelites future. And he’s worried.

He says, keep the faith.  Don’t complain – turn to God. Don’t choose to wallow in doubt and darkness. He says, Why choose death? Our God has seen us through so much. Choose trust… choose His ways… choose life!

Before the children of Israel went into the land of Promise, Moses delivered an important message about the choices we all make.

He speaks these words for God. He says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life-” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

Choosing life is about choosing to follow God and not just ourselves. It’s about choosing a higher road; about not dwelling on the little things, not lettings our circumstances control how we will react to them. True disciples are those who have consciously chosen to follow God and God’s paradigm for their lives; people who aren’t afraid to make choices for Him.

Our lives are full of choices. And you know what? We can’t always control what happens to us but we can choose how we will react. We need to choose wisely, because we are all living and dying with the choices we make. Our choices have consequences. Our choices determine the quality and sometimes even the quantity of our lives. Ultimately our choices in life determine who we are and whose we are. Ethics are what others see us do. Morals are what we do when no one else is watching.

Deut 30:19—“life and death I set before you, the blessing and the curse, so choose life.”

Michael is incredibly upbeat. He chooses life. But several years later, Michael would be tested. He was involved in a serious accident. While working on a communications tower Michael’s belt strap came undone and his safety harness tore. Michael grasped at the air but found nothing and he fell sixty feet to hard cold ground below. As hours went by, Michael slipped in and out of consciousness unnoticed by others. As he lay on the ground the first thing he thought of was the well-being of his soon-to-be-born daughter and what it would be like for his wife to be a pregnant widow. Then he remembered that he had two choices: He could choose to live or… he could choose to die. Michael chose to live.

Eventually when Michael didn’t come home, people got moving.

The paramedics arrived and went to work. They kept telling Michael that he was going to be fine. But when they wheeled him into the ER, he saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses. He knew it was bad.

Michael began to feel fear overcoming his body and he could read their eyes “He’s a dead man” was written all over their faces. Michael knew he needed to take action too.

Just then, a big blurry nurse began shouting questions. She asked Michael if he was allergic to anything. He replied as loudly as he could, “Stop! Yes!” the doctors and nurses stopped working, the stopped the gurney as they waited for Michael to fill in the missing blank of his allergy. Michael took a deep breath and yelled, “I am allergic to Gravity.”

Over their laughter, Michael also said one last thing, “I am choosing to live… Operate on me with that in mind.”

After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in this back. And he lived. He lived, thanks to the skill of the medical staff and his own choice of determination. Years later, when asked about his health, Michael would respond, “If I were any better, I’d be twins.”

Each day as we rise we are faced with choices. We can stand at the bank of the Jordan River, peer over into the promise land and say, “it’s to hard” or “it’s not worth it”. Or we can choose to face the things that happen to us with determination and say, “I choose life”.

Song: A mighty fortress is our God (315)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Prayer of gratitude

God of all times and all people,

on this Labour Day Weekend,

we thank you for all the skill and talent with which you bless your people.

Thank you for what we have accomplished through the work we do,

and for what each one of us contributes to the wellbeing of our community.

Inspire us to work together on the challenges we face

and surprise us with the solutions to problems that once seemed overwhelming.

God, in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

Transitional music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves

Today we pray for all those who labour in difficult situations:

for children who work in terrible conditions and are paid very little.;

for migrant workers who must labour far away from their families;

and for all those who are underpaid or unjustly treated in their workplace.

God, in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who cannot labour:

for those who are unemployed or underemployed;

for those who have become injured on the job or too sick to keep working;

for those who are denied the opportunity to earn a living because of war or discrimination.

God, in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who labour in our community; for those who must work today and tomorrow instead of enjoying this long weekend; for those who must work several jobs in order to care for their families; for those who work at jobs we wouldn’t to do ourselves because they are messy or unpleasant.

God, in your mercy

Hear our prayer.

And on this Labour Day, O God, we offer gratitude for laws that protect children,

for health and safety practices that prevent tragedies in the workplace, and for generations before us who advocated for vulnerable employees, fair wages and equal opportunities.

Thank you for the work that goes on behind the scenes, delivering things we enjoy and services we rely on.

Help us to look beyond these things to picture the faces of those whose work provides for all our needs.

Through their faces, let us see your face, Creator and Sustainer of all that is.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

Invitation

Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God!

They will come from east and west,

and from north and south,

and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

According to Luke,

when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples,

he took the bread, and blessed and 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 those who trust him

to share the feast which he has prepared.

Song: Love divine all loves’ excelling (371)

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

Eternal God, our creator.

You have given us life and second birth in your Spirit.

Once we were no people, but now we are your people.

You claimed Israel as your chosen nation

and raised up the church as a witness to the resurrection,

breathing into it your life and power.

From worlds apart, you gathered us together.

When we go astray, you welcome us home.

Always, your love has been steadfast.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with the choirs of heaven

and with all the faithful of every time and place

who forever sing to the glory of your name:

You are holy, O God of majesty,

and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

In love with you and in compassion for all, Jesus healed and taught, challenged and comforted, welcomed and saved.

He formed a community,

promising to be with his disciples wherever two or three were gathered,

and sending them on his mission of hope and healing in the world.

Jesus trusted his life to you, and went freely to his death,

so the world might be set free from suffering and sin.

You raised him from death and raise us also to live a new life with him.

In the power of the Holy Spirit,

you send us out to make disciples as he commanded.

Remembering all your mighty and merciful acts,

we take this bread and this wine from the gifts you have given us

and celebrate with joy the redemption won for us in Jesus Christ.

Accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving

as a living and holy offering of ourselves,

that our lives may proclaim the One crucified and risen.

Great is the mystery of faith.

Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us

and upon these your gifts of bread and wine,

that the bread we break and the cup we bless

may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.

By your Spirit unite us with the living Christ

and with all who are baptized in his name,

that we may be one in ministry in every place.

As this bread is Christ’s body for us,

send us out to be the body of Christ in the world.

O God, today you have called us together to be the church.

Unite us now at your table, and in one loaf and a common cup, make us

one in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Sharing of the bread and wine

The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took bread,

and after giving thanks to God,

he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat.

This is my body, given for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way he took the cup, saying:

This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood,

shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

Whenever you drink it,

do this in remembrance of me.

Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup

you proclaim the saving death of the risen Lord,

until he comes.

Song: One bread, one body (540)

The prayer after Communion

Gracious God,

may we who have received this sacrament

live in the unity of your Holy Spirit,

that we may show forth your gifts to all the world.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Hymn: Oh freedom, freedom is coming (725)

Accompanied by: Cohen Childs and Logan Kapadia-Pfob

Sending out with God’s blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face shine upon you. and be gracious unto you.

May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and show you his grace.

Response: Go forth into the world

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 relevant licences provided by One Licence and CLC. The Communion liturgy is based on the liturgy of the 1981 Book of Common Worship 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.