Credit where credit is due (Allyson McCombs)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
7th Sunday after the Epiphany
10:00 am February 20, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by Allyson McCombs
Children’s time: Lynn Vaughan
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Lorette Lee
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

Opening words
L: From you, Lord, and through You, and to You, are all things
P: To Christ be the glory forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Great are you, Lord

You give life, You are love You bring light to the darkness, You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken, great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise, it’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only. Great are You, Lord

Songwriters: Jason David Ingram, David Leonard, Leslie Jordan. Great Are You Lord lyrics © Integrity’s Praise Music, Integrity S Alleluia Music. Reprinted with permission and permission to stream under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.

Call to worship:
L: We gather here to unify our hearts in worship.
P: We give all our praise without measure to the Triune God!
L: In return, God blesses our lives without measure in new and mysterious ways.
P: Press us down, shake us together O God, so that your love overflows from our lives. Amen

Prayers of approach and lament: PCC Book of Common Worship

Let us confess our sin together.

Merciful God,

We confess that we have sinned against you

In thought, word and deed,

By what we have done,

And by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength;

We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves

In your mercy forgive what we have been and help us amend what we are,

And direct what we shall be,

So that we may delight in your will

And walk in your ways,

To the glory of your  holy name, Amen.

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (X3). A sinner

Words and music © 1995, GIA/Iona Community / WGRG  and arranged by Gord McCrostie. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE 

Assurance of God’s forgiveness: PCC Book of Common Worship

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
Anyone who is in Christ
is a new creation.
The old life has gone;
A new life has begun
Know that you are forgiven
and be at peace. Amen

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me…x 3; The Bible tells me so.

Words: Anna Bartlett © Mrs. Cherie MGuire; Music: William Bradbury public domain. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Story: Loving Others whether it is difficult or easy  

Prayer                                                 

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: All the way my Saviour leads me (699)

All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well,

All the way my Savior leads me, Cheers each winding path I tread, Gives me grace for every trial, Feeds me with the living bread. Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul athirst may be, Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo, a spring of joy I see,

All the way my Savior leads me; Oh, the fullness of his love! Perfect rest to me is  promised in my Father’s house above. When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way,

Words Fanny Crosby, Music: Robert Lowery; both public domain

 Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 37:3-7 and Luke 6:27-38 (NRSV)

Response: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (repeat)

Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Michael Whitaker Smith. Thy Word lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, DistroKid  Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​.  All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Homily: “Credit where Credit is Due?”

Dayspring members and friends, I greet you with the love, joy, and peace of Christ our Savior from the Shoreline McCombs family home here just north of Seattle! I am thankful for the generous invitation to join in worship with you today. It is beautiful to see churches actively engaging and supporting seminary students! You model this in your wide welcome to students from VST and St. Andrew’s Hall over the course of this year and last! In all honesty, however, after answering affirmatively to your invitation, I felt an instant wave of apprehension about facing an unfamiliar congregation. Most of the preaching I do is with the church that has been our home for over twelve years!

However, while perusing several commentators’ work with highly detailed outlines of Luke’s Gospel during the week, my apprehension turned into delight and curiosity, proving yet again that sermon preparation impacts the preacher just as much or more than it does anyone else. Evidence from those Lukan outlines opened up my eyes to the possibility that I would not be the only one sermonizing today given our lectionary point of entry in verse twenty-seven drops us right in the middle of what the outlines call Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain! Now, this sounds eerily similar to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Sermon on the Plain is shorter; however, there are similarities between the two. While I’m slightly jealous of Jesus’ more articulate and mysterious sermon title, I must acknowledge mine here and give credit where credit is due as we jump into the Gospel at verse twenty-seven. God’s one and only Son gets all the glory and the awe befitting his Holy Name. But, as you’ll see, he is not motivated by our flattery. In fact, as we unpack his message, you will see that what he aims for and calls his followers to imitate is driven by a radically different set of motivations. Still, even as I add my commentary to this introduction, Jesus stands in place resolutely waiting to speak, “to you who are listening.” So, will YOU count yourself as one who is listening? Let us pause here to prepare our hearts in prayer as we settle in and understand Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain.

Preacher’s Prayer

Triune God of heaven and earth, we bring you our hearts and minds this morning, asking you to replace any lingering apprehension and hardheartedness with curiosity and compassion. May the sole purpose of my words and meditations be to amplify the Word made flesh and the Reconciling work of God the Son incarnate. Amen

In my opinion, the lectionary has done us a great favor today in keeping with our Presbyterian sense of propriety. While I feel very sure about my call to ministry, the reality is I am not yet ordained. Still, there is absolutely no one in a better position than Jesus, who is God the Incarnate Son, to oversee a ministry student and have the responsibility of ensuring God’s Own Divine Words be in John Calvin’s terms “handled rightly.”

Hallelujah, yes, Jesus presiding over the pulpit today is no accident, and once again, I have to give credit where credit is due! This time the credit goes to the powerful and dynamic movements of the Holy Spirit who illuminates the ancient words of the Gospel Story, transforming them into the living image of the Resurrected God who, according to Calvin, is ordained by God the Father as our perfected Prophet, Priest, and King. (Instutes, 425)

Jesus’ three roles correlate beautifully with one particular commentator’s opinion that the gospel author’s primary focus for recounting Jesus’ life and ministry in Luke’s Gospel is “to show God’s fidelity to the people.” (Sacra, 45) Chapter six as a whole is an excellent example in support of this claim. Jesus moves between physical locations and several different smaller vignettes manifesting God’s fidelity through a posture of service or servanthood in relationship to those around him. Concerning prophet, priest, and king, Jesus’ approach is a stark reversal to the generally held belief that at certain levels, Prophet’s priests and kings are entitled to have servants, not be servants.

As we focus solely on the bounds set forth by the lectionary, the reversals intensify. Although our passage includes what we consider the Golden Rule in verse 31, my first impression of Jesus’ words here is not as heartwarming. Let’s review a few key terms that no one in their right mind would credit to a Golden fluffy cloud of love, light, friendship, and kindness. Starting in verse twenty-seven, we have enemies and hate, and as we read, we see Jesus painting a prophetic, straightforward, and at times brutal picture of what it looks like to live out the real risks of the Gospel. Consider here that Jesus experiences the worst possible scenario regarding this risky Gospel proposal.

We have curses, abuses, and fists flying when all is told. People, this sounds like an outright brawl where do-gooders lose not only their dignity but their outer garments, the snack in their pocket, and the shirt where all dignified people keep their pocket snacks. These are mission trip snapshots that do not make their way into the slides we present to mission partners who generously funded our trip. No one will want to interview you or engage you in a contract to write a new book about do-it-yourself mission brawls. Be warned, you will not gain any credit or reputation of success if you bring home a group of volunteer mission workers, and 100% of them have a cast or a broken nose and are only 50% clothed.

A marked distinction emerges regarding God’s Fidelity in the sermon text. In the earlier parts of chapter six, fidelity extends to those either intimately acquainted with Jesus or seeking him out for healing or teaching. But going by Jesus’ first statement in twenty-seven, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” God’s fidelity has clearly evolved in the areas of reach and motivation. Jesus uses what remains for us to discuss in the lectionary reading, passionately presenting God’s desire for humans to follow suit and extend their fidelity to individuals outside of solidified social circles. With a rapid-fire repetition of the same question three times, the listener is urged to take a hard look inward. Can you see where my haphazard sermon title comes from? These feel like the harshest phrases of Jesus’ Sermon.

Simply put, Jesus calls the listener to ask, “what motivates me fidelity?” Are my beliefs really distinguished compared to people with different religious and ethical perspectives? What do you think? Do followers of Jesus have some kind of monopoly on kindness? It seems Christ is implying that regardless of belief, there is at least a basic code of right and wrong built into our human knowing. What do you think? I’ll reread the last portion:

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

It is easy for us to read this and instantly feel the inner binary pull of the “us or them” defense. By focusing on what we consider the grave sins and injustice of wrongdoers, do we hope to slide under detection and find ourselves on the winning side without looking at our inward failures or selfish motivations?

However, our current volatile social dynamic indicates that we are playing a dangerous game. Basing our worth on any determined by earthly authorities means the goalposts are always moving. Think about the intimate group of Jesus’ followers at the foot of the cross who were vulnerable for those three days when it seemed like the other side had the upper hand in a victory against right and wrong. Let us conclude with one more pass at the words of our Incarnate God, our Prophet, priest, and king in verse thirty-five….

Perhaps we focus on the promise of a reward here in the conclusion and then miss the fact that our resurrected Prophet, Priest, and King knows the reality of being human and knows our every weakness. Yet, his fidelity does not depend on our merit. Will you make a choice going forward to hear and believe the words of our Jesus Christ, our Prophet Priest, and King?  Amen.

Song: For the healing of the nations (736)

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord, for a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords. To a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead us forward into freedom, from despair your world release, that, redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace. Show us how through care and goodness fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living, let it from the earth be banned: pride of status, race or schooling, dogmas that obscure your plan. In our common quest for justice may we hallow life’s brief span.

You, Creator God, have written your great name on humankind; for our growing in your likeness bring the life of Christ to mind; that by our response and service earth its destiny may find.

Words: Fred Khan © 1968 by Hope Publishing Co. Music: Public domain. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude: Psalm 69:30-34 (NIV)
30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him!
Amen.

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, In the Lord I will rejoice. Look to God, do not be afraid, Lift up your voices, the Lord is near, Lift up your voices, the Lord is near

Words: Jacques Berthier; 1991 © Taize Community, GIA Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

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.

Transition Music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves: PCC Book of Common Worship

Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you taught us to pray

and to present to you our intercessions for others.

By your Holy Spirit, be present to guide us

so that our prayers may serve your will

and show your loving care for the whole creation.

Let us pray for the nations of the world.

O Christ, Ruler of rulers,

guide the leaders of all the nations

that they may learn to seek justice,

govern wisely,

and serve you as good stewards of the whole creation.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Let us pray for peace.

Silent prayer.

O Christ, Prince of peace,

speak quietly to the hearts of your people

and to those who rule in places of power

that they may seek peace on earth

overcoming the powers of fear, greed or vanity

that turn neighbour against neighbour

and nation against nation.

May all who claim your name be makers of the peace.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Let us pray for health.

O Christ the great healer,

you desire health and wholeness for your people:

cleanse and redeem your whole creation

that poverty may turn to abundance,

that streams of living water may flow in the wilderness,

and those who are broken in body and spirit

may find rest and newness of life.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

Let us pray for those who mourn.

O Christ, who wept at the grave of a friend:

look with compassion on all those who mourn (as we remember by)

that they may find comfort in their sorrow,

and know the healing power of your assurance

that they are never separated from your love.

Hear our prayer, O Lord.

O Christ, you intercede for us at the throne of grace

and know our needs better than we can speak or imagine:

receive our prayers

that they may be an acceptable offering to Almighty God,

whom with you and the Holy Spirit, we honour and praise. Amen.

Song: Help us accept each other (632)

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present, Lord, among us and bring us to believe we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live.

Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith. Teach us to care for people, for all not just for some, to love them as we find them or as they may be come.

Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved in living situations to do the truth in love; to practice your acceptance until we know by heart the table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing art.

Lord, for today’s encounters with all who are in need, who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread, we need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on: renew us with your Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one!

Words: Fred Kaan; Music: Doreen Potter © for both is Hope Publishing Co. 1975. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go out into the world in peace;
Have courage;
Hold on to what is good;
Return no one evil for evil;
Strengthen the fainthearted;
Support the weak and help the suffering;
Honor all people;
Love and serve the Lord,
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Response: Amen, we praise your name, O God (x2)

Sing Amen, Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, amen. Amen, amen.
Amen, we praise your name, O God!

Words: Xhosa,S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Music: S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Music postlude

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Jesus

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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.

Allyson McCombs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Allyson McCombs 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.