Disciples on a Journey (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am September 19, 2021
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Message by Lydia Calder
Music director: Binu Kapadia        Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Darlene Eerkes           Children’s Time: Lydia Calder

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: Our world offers wide streets and paved sidewalks to walk on;
P: Our God invites us to walk the road of service and sacrifice.
L: Our culture promotes achievement, success, climbing to the top, ringing the bell.
P: Our God tells us if we want to be first we need to go to the end of the line.

Opening praise: Holy Spirit, you are welcome here

There’s nothing worth more That could ever come close No thing can compare You’re our living hope… Your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for To be overcome by Your presence, Lord Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen Of the sweetest of loves Where my heart becomes free And my shame is undone… Your presence, Lord

Words: Francesca Battistelli  Music: Katie Torwalt / Bryan Torwalt © 2011 Capitol Cmg Genesis, Jesus Culture Music. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship
L: We come to you, O God, to thank you for what is good.
P: We come to you, O God, to cry out for what is wrong.
L: We come to you, O God, to ask for help and restoration.
P: We come to you, O God, with aching hearts and glad souls.
L: Let us worship God.

Prayers of approach and confession

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things – meet us here, amid our concerns and our questions, our joys and our hopes.  Lead us as we call upon you, that we may know your gracious will, and with our brothers and sisters around the world lift up your holy name in the unity of Christ’s love – that love shown to us in his life, his death, and his resurrection.

Sometimes, O God, we forget people, or we toss them aside – the difficult ones, the needy ones, the ones who confront us. And most often it’s not so much about them as it’s about us. We are uncomfortable, or we feel guilty, or we follow brighter, shinier people, or we worry about what will make us look good.

Forgive us for mistaking what the world values with what you value. Help us to be better, and to see more clearly, and to care more thoroughly. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

The prophet Micah reminds us that God requires three things: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. We can be assured that God offers forgiveness and peace to those who humbly  seek reconciliation with him and with humanity.  Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord

Children’s time                  

Story

These are my keys. They come in all different shapes and sizes. This one is for… Which of these keys do you think is the most important?

That’s a trick question because there is no most important key. Every key is important. If I need to drive my car then my car, only my car key will.  But if I want to get to the Sunday School supplies at the church my car key is useless for that job.

It would be pretty silly to argue about which of these keys is the most important, wouldn’t it? How about people? Have you ever heard people arguing among themselves about which of them is the greatest? I have!

Even Jesus disciples – his best friends – had an argument like that. One day the disciples were walking along the road with Jesus and they began arguing among themselves. When they got to the place where they were going, Jesus  asked, “so what were you guys arguing?” The disciples got very quiet. They were embarrassed because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.

Jesus sat down with them and said, “If anyone wants to be first,” he said, “he must be the very last, and be the servant of everyone else.”

Whoa! I bet this disciples weren’t to happy when they that! Each of them was Probably hoping to hear Jesus say that they were going to have a position of great importance in his kingdom.

When Jesus says “if anyone wants to be first he must be last,” do you think that means that he doesn’t want us to do our best?   No. God wants us to do our best in whatever we do at home or school or in sports or in music. What it means is that we’re not to act like big shots and we’re not to treat those who do better than us or those who do worse than us any differently. Every person is important. Every person is great.

If I were to ask you, “Who is the greatest person who ever lived?” What would your answer be? Would you name a famous athlete? A movie star? A world leader? I think Jesus was the greatest person who ever lived. Why? Because, although he was God, he gave up all of his special privileges and to become a human being, and to save us and to serve us.

There are a lot of keys on my key ring. One key you won’t find on this key ring is the key to greatness. The key to greatness is to have a servant’s heart. A heart like Jesus.

Prayer

Dear God, we pray that you’d give us a servant’s heart. A heart like Jesus’. Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Song: Brother sister vrs 1,2,4

Brother, sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through.

Words and Music: Richard Gillard © scripture in song, 1977 administered in North, South and Central America by Integrity Music. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Scripture readings                       
Psalm 1
Mark 9:30-37                   NT(NRSV)
James 3:13-18                 NT(NRSV)

Response: Behold the lamb of God            

Message: “Disciples on a Journey”

One of the more interesting stories to come out of the Tokyo Olympics was about Dayna Pidhoresky, who competed in the women’s marathon. She grew up in Tecumseh, Ontario and attended a small private Christian school in Windsor.  She started running and competing in cross-country while in Grade 4 and stuck with it in the early days because she could beat the boys…

A graduate of the University of Windsor, Dayna earned her spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team with a breakthrough performance at the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She was the top Canadian woman in the race which also doubled as the national marathon trials and she ran her personal best time -2:29.03

Unfortunately, on her flight to the Tokyo Olympics, Pidhoresky ended sitting near someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.  She was required to quarantine for 14 days ahead of her run and forgo training during that time. The only exercise she got was a stationary bike in her hotel room.

Nonetheless, Dayna was at the start line on Saturday Aug 6, excited to compete.

88 women started the 42 kilometre  race. With high humidity and a temperature of 27c fifteen women had to drop out.  But Dayna persisted and finished the race in 3 hours and 3 minutes a full 30 minutes longer than her best time.

She came in last.

Nobody dreams of finishing in last place.

In today’s gospel lesson we heard that while Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Capernaum the disciples got into an argument about who was the greatest among them.

It was a silly argument then, as it would be a silly argument today.

Let’s consider the billionaire disciples of space travel for a minute. Who is the greatest?  Richard Branson who did it first; or Jeff Bezos who hit the higher altitude; or Jared Issacman who commanded the first all civilian mission? They’re all just arrogant big shots with too much money.

Arguments about greatness are futile.

Yet from an early age, most of us have been taught that greatness is important. Who’s the King of the Castle and who’s the dirty rascal?

We talk about the Great Lakes, the Great Wall of China; and the Great White Shark swimming in the Great Barrier Reef.  History has dubbed certain leaders with the title “great” – Alexander the Great, Herod the Great, and Catherine the Great. Wikipedia reports there have been at least 114 world leaders who had the word “great” used with their names, all the way from Albert the Great to Xerxes the Great.

Greatness means bigger, better, more amazing.  Greatness implies power, strength, fame and wealth.

But the core of that kind of greatness is egocentric – individuals at the  center of their own personal universe with everything and everyone revolving around them.   Google reports that its Android devices take 93 million selfies per day. Just imagine the kind of arguments the disciples could have had if they’d had access to Facebook or TikTok?  “Well, I have 8000 more Facebook followers than you do, so that proves I’m the greatest.”

Inward Journey

Back to Capernaum… Once they were settled in at their destination Jesus asked the disciples what they had been arguing about. All of a sudden they were very quiet, embarrassed really,  as well they should have been.

Of course, Jesus knew full well what they had been arguing about.  He could have stopped on the road and challenged them then and there, out in the open. But he waited and saved his question until they were in the privacy of a house.

This is about more than a change in physical location. Jesus is moving the conversation inward. He’s not gathering information for himself but inviting the disciples to a time of introspection, to meet God in the internal spaces of their lives.  He asks them to examine themselves, their motives and attitudes from a different perspective.

Coming to church, whether onsite or online, is a great opportunity for worship and fellowship and truthfully we can connect with God in all the highways and byways of life.  But self-refection is usually better done in private.

As Jesus called the twelve to a more private place he also calls us on an inward journey- away from the busyness of the world.  This inward journey takes us on an expedition within our minds and souls… where we move into a deep conversation within our souls about who we really are, about our failings, our hopes, our fears.

Jesus is also there, on our inward journeys, there to forgive us for our failures… to be voice of peace and love drowning out the voices of criticism and complaints. He speaks to us in the quiet and in the calm and shows us an image of who we might be. Going inward awakens us because true change starts from within. And, as Elizabeth O’Connor wrote, “If you do not attend to the journey inward, you will burn out on the journey outward.” (Journey Inward, Journey Outward. Elizabeth O’Connor. San Francisco; Harper Collins, 1968, p. 9).

Recall the words of our Psalm reading today: Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or  take the path that sinners tread, but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.  They are like trees planted by streams of water….”

Happy are those who are committed to the inward journey.

Outward Journey

Having said that, the Christian way is to balance the inward journey of reflection and meditation with the outward journey of justice and mercy.

And that brings us to the next teachings of this passage. The issue is about who is greatest, and who deserves more and who should call the shots. Jesus wants them to see a different view of greatness, a different way of living, one that involves service to others.

Jesus suggests that they humble themselves, saying “If anyone  wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

In other words, life in the Kingdom of God is not about being the first or the greatest, but rather about seeing other people as important, in a way that removes all distinctions.

Then taking a child in his arms he says to them: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me.”

Why a child?  In Jesus day, men held the highest honor in society. The pecking order normally went like this:
+The highest position of society was a married man
+Next would come a man in his senior years
+Then would come a man who was young and single.
Women would take the next honored positions:
+Married women with children would come first and foremost
+Then widows
+And single women after that.
And in the lowest possible position, were children

In Jesus’ day children were not the most important persons in their families, they were the least. They  had no rights, no status, no economic value. There were no United Nations declarations about how they should be treated, and what it is that they deserve out of life. To most of ancient society children were viewed no higher than a slave or piece of property.  The father had sole authority over them. If he was not happy with a child he could sell that child into slavery or leave them in the streets to fend for themselves or even abandon them in the wilderness.

The child in this context, is not a symbol of innocence or potential, but rather a symbol of vulnerability, powerlessness, and dependency. Jesus is speaking to the issue of status. Greatness, he says, is in welcoming and receiving people with no status.

Translating that into the 21st century world, who are the vulnerable, the powerless, the dependent?  Who are the second class citizens? Who can be easily cast aside when we don’t want to see them? Whose voices are not heard not unless the more powerful indulge them from time to time? Who are those who make us uncomfortable because they are different?

Whoever welcomes one of those in Jesus name, welcomes Jesus himself.

Life lived according to the way of Christ is a life of opening one’s arms and welcoming people into our embrace, showing them that we care.

True greatness never puts itself in a position of superiority over another person. It is not about me: my nation, my tribe, my people, my religion, my politics. It’s not about my bank account, my house, my job, my accomplishments or reputation. Our greatness is revealed in our service and care of others regardless of her or his ability or willingness to pay, repay, or return the favor.

To foster an attitude of humility means recognizing that it is really only God who is great, who important. And to accept that our all-powerful God is also found in the simple, the ordinary, the lowly.

We are all on a journey in this life. I think that most of us are  looking for a better life for ourselves and our families and our world.

We would like to experience more joy, more peace, more contentment.

We would like to see an end to the world’s problems.

We would like our children, and our children’s children grow up in a world where everyone is valued.

This can only come when we give up the world’s standards of success as measured by power, status, and money. As long as we discriminate between people, as long as we judge some to be  more important than others, as long as we desire to be more important ourselves, we block what God has in store for us, and for our world.

Conclusion

Jesus’ disciples were on a journey – an inward journey where they would meet their darker selves, then let the light in.  That inward journey took them to outward places where they became light for others.

Our journey inward is shaped by our knowledge of God’s mercy and our need. Our journey outward is shaped the world’s needs and God’s desire that all people be treated with respect and justice.

If we are trying to do the outward acts of mercy and working to set the world right as Jesus wants us to, but we are not engaged in the inward journey of finding God in quietness and prayer and love, we miss out on God’s strength and resources. On the other hand, if we are doing the inward acts of believing and praying and growing spiritually, but we are not engaged in serving God in the world and working for the justice that reflects his kingdom’s values, then we’ve missed the point.

If we are not concerned for the world, and for the least of those amongst us, we will not find God, because God is all about the world. God is all about justice and mercy and how they get lived out in individuals and in communities and nations.

Friends, we are Christians, Christ followers, Jesus People. Let us ever remember that Jesus came among us not as an Emperor, a  Chief Executive Officer, or a President, but as a servant. He came to help, to touch, to heal, to forgive, to love.

Amen.

Song: Make me a channel of your peace

Make me a channel of your peace where there is hatred let me bring your love; where there is injury, your healing power; and where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace; where there’s despair in life let me bring hope; where there is darkness, only light; .and where there’s sadness ever joy

O Spirit grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; in giving to all let we receive; and in dying that we’re born to eternal life

Words: St Patrick of Ireland © public domain; Music: Sebastian Temple © Franciscan Communications Centre, 1968. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Lord, we thank you for the morning: for the sun that comes up without fail; for the fresh start of each new day; for the hot shower and the first cup of coffee or tea; for the opportunities that lie before us.

Lord, we thank you for the noon time: for the work that you call us to and the energy and resources to do it; for the companions we meet along the way; for the encouragement we receive and the help we can give to others; for the things that make us laugh and the things that make us pray.

Lord, we thank you for the evening: for the dinner on the table; for the warmth of home and the lights shining in the darkness; for the time to sit back and relax; for a comfortable bed in which to rest; for the knowledge that you have been with us each moment of the day and the confidence that you will bring us safely through the night.

Lord, we thank you.  Amen

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue 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 contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

For those of you in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelops with you— simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service  today.

Response: Be still and know

Prayer for Others and Ourselves

Let us come before God with our prayers of intercession. Let us pray…

God of heaven and earth, through Jesus Christ You promise to hear us when we pray to You in His name.  Confident in Your love and mercy we bring our prayers before you.

We ask that you would guide the rulers of the nations. Move them to set aside their fear, greed, and ambition,  and bow to Your sovereign rule. Inspire them to strive for peace and justice, that all people may dwell secure,  free of war and injustice.

We especially pray for Canada’s federal election tomorrow.  We thank you for each person who has had the conviction to run for public office. May each citizen realize that casting a vote is both a privilege and a responsibility and make the time to do so. Please give the successful candidates the wisdom they need to help build a society based on trust and respect. Renew our nation in the ways of justice and peace.

Restore among us a love of the earth You created for our home.  Help us put an end the abuse of land, air, and waters, and give us respect for all Your creatures. May your whole creation resound in an anthem of praise to You.

God of compassion hear the cries of the world ’s hungry and suffering.  Give us, who consume most of the earth ’s resources, the will to reorder our lives, that all may have their rightful share of the food, medical care, and shelter.

Look with compassion on all who suffer.  Support with Your love those with incurable and stigmatized diseases,  those unjustly imprisoned,  those denied dignity, those who live without hope,  those who are homeless or abandoned.  As You have moved toward us in love,  so lead us to be present with them in their suffering in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sustain those among us who need your healing touch.  Make the sick whole,  Give hope to the dying, Comfort those who mourn.   Uphold all who suffer in body or mind,  that they may know your peace and sense your presence.

Strengthen this congregation in its work and worship.  Help them as they move into the future preparing for a new minister with whom to serve you. Fill each heart with Your self-giving love and each voice with your praise.

Lord, We are so much like those first disciples. Our cravings for more and more toss us about like leaves in the autumn winds. Help us to understand your ways of peace and gentleness and to love those whom we consider to be difficult. We acknowledge that we tend to spread our love thinly among those we can relate to, those who share our values, and those who do not threaten our comfortable lifestyle. Give us hearts that reach out to those we would otherwise ignore.

Jesus, You led the way, and it is your example that we look to. You turned the values of this world upside down. Do the same with us, Lord.  Help us live the reality of your Love.

O God,  In all things for which we pray,  give us the will to seek to bring them about,  for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Song: From heaven you came

From heaven you came, helpless babe, entered our world, your glory veiled, not to be served but to serve, and give your life that we might live.    Refrain

This is our God, the Servant King, he calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King

There in the garden of tears, my heavy load he chose to bear; his heart with sorrow was torn:“Yet not my will but yours,” he said.          Refrain

Come see his hands and his feet, the scars that speak of sacrifice, hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered.                     Refrain

So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him, each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving.                                    Refrain

Words and Music: Graham Kendrick © Kingsway’s Thankyou Music 1983 administered in North, South and Central America by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/ASCAP. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go now, as God’s beloved children, confident that our God is with us every step of our journey, knowing that the Father gives us protection, the Saviour gives us hope and the Spirit gives us compassion.  Amen

Response: Go forth into the world

Music Postlude

(Zoom breakout rooms)

“Instead of putting others in their place put yourself in their place”   Amish Proverb


Some of this material may have been previously published by Lydia Calder. Lydia Calder retains the copyright on all original material. As far as the writer is aware, the illustrations used are public domain.  Reference sources available on request.

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Posted in Recent Sermons.