Face the music (Brad Childs)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
5th Sunday after the Pentcost
10:00 am July 10, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Sam Malayang
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

Call to Worship
L: Let your light shine!
P: Let your hearts be glad!
L: God is faithful to us, and God rules in love.
P: Then let us worship God

Opening praise: Here I am to worship

Prayer of Confession

God of unspeakable love, we praise you for the holy Beauty which awakens our worship, and takes us from dullness to wonder, and from timidity to trust.

Our Lord, we come, not to justify ourselves but to repent and trust the saving grace of Christ Jesus.

Father look at us and stir our hearts.

May whatever holds us back from you be taken away and whatever brings us close be multiplied. Loving God, whatever you see 

  • as self righteous, censure,
  • as twisted, straighten,
  • as heartless, soften,
  • as fruitless, prune,
  • as infected, cleanse.

Flood your relentless Spirit through our whole being, sweeping away guilt and its lethargy, and by the saving grace of Christ Jesus, heal the hidden things and the broken.

Thank you, God, for answering our prayers

Sometimes even before we get round to asking them, and for doing much more than think or could ever imagine.

You are the one that guides our hearts and you are the perfect one at work perfecting us. We give our lives to you and follow your Word

Response: We come to ask Your forgiveness, Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness
In Christ Jesus we are a radically renewed community.
Old things are done away with,
In Christ all things can become new.
In Him we are agents of grace and reconciliation.
In Christ we are mirrors of God on earth and light to our neighbours.
So let it be. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

Story: Setting our Priorities (Seek you first the Kingdom of God)

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: The Way

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 82 and Amos 7:7-17

Response: Glory to the Father

Homily: “Face the Music”

In his book, Just Like Jesus Max Lucado tells the following story:

“Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a single note. Whenever the group practiced or performed, the impostor would simply hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play along with the other flutists but without actually making a sound. For his “work” he received a modest salary and enjoyed a comfortable living at a time when food was difficult to find.

“Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician in the orchestra. The flutist got nervous. There wasn’t enough time to learn the instrument. He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn’t fooled. He had to play. On the day of his performance, the impostor refused to go. Instead he took a vile of poison and killed himself. The explanation of his suicide (some say) led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: ‘He refused to face the music.’”

Now most likely this story from Max’s book is not the true origin of the story. We can never really know for sure how a phrase like this was first used. But today most historians seem to agree that this phrase actually finds it’s origins in the US and British Militaries. In fact the military court-martial may be the origins of three of today’s common phrases. You see, when a court- marshal was to take place, a military prisoner would be brought before the court and made to stand at attention. As the charges were read out for all to hear the drums would be tapped.

If you were found guilty you would be “drummed out”. AND If the charges were false, they were said to be “drummed up charges.”

But either way, innocent or guilty – in appearing to the court, the officer would always have to “face the music.”

In the beginning of this section of scripture from Amos read a moment ago, we have Amos describing a picture of God. Most likely he is describing storms or other disasters that have come to near by communities but have somehow narrowly missed Israel and Judah. Now earlier in Amos’s book God says “I will send locust upon you”. And Amos says, “but we can’t take that much God”. And so God decides not to bring the locusts. Then later God tells Amos, “I going to bring Fire down on Israel” and Amos intercedes again and pleads his case and again God decides not to bring down fire.

But in the exact section read from here today God doesn’t decide to spare Israel. He’s finished. Instead He says, “I will never again pass them by” He says, “The high places (where the people worship) shall be made desolate”. “and the Sanctuaries shall be laid to waste” and “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam (The King of Israel) with a sword.”

So who is this Jeroboam guy and what is he doing that’s got God so angry? So angry that he says he’s going to destroy the promise land and its people?

Well, history tells us that during the reign of Jeroboam II, Israel was actually doing really well. The people were still at peace. The land was at the height of its wealth. The government was at it’s biggest. And the people lived longer and were healthier. In fact, many of them were richer too, than the people of Israel had ever been. It was one of the wealthiest periods in their existence.

But not everyone was doing well. The gap between rich and poor was getting bigger. It was a time when Israelites commonly sold the poor into slavery – and at an alarming rate.

Now Jeroboam is the King of the Northern Kingdom and he and his high priest Amaziah are men of the highest stature. But they were also men who would do anything to maintain their power. They didn’t want to be challenged. They didn’t want change. They wanted to call themselves followers of the God of Israel but they wanted to make their own rules too. But while the people lived the richest lives they had ever lived, they gave the least away to help the poor. While the governments bloated with wealth, people starved on the streets.

The crazy thing is, we’ve all seen this play out on the playground or with our own friends or siblings. There’s always that one kid with a big batch of toys that’s only playing with one of them but the second someone else wants to play with one of the unused ones, the kids with all the toys decides all of the sudden that the one someone else wants is the one he or she wants to most and takes it back.

We’ve all seen that kid. And we’ve all thought the same thing – What a brat that kid is being right now. Now to be fair, I think we’ve all even been that kid at some point in our lives. It’s only through good parenting that we didn’t all end up that way as adults.

At this point in history though – Israel is that “kid.”

A lot of times in the Old Testament we find what seems to be a strange overreaction of God and how he deals with the Kings (particularly during the period of the divided kingdom when Israel and Judah were two different nations).

Side Note: You can always tell if the country is going to pot because seemingly out of the blue, one of these prophets of God will show up and say, “God says the King is going to die”. And if the King is being bad it seems like everybody gets punished along side him. The whole land suffers the consequences because of that one “kid”. For us in today’s culture it seems unfair and really doesn’t seem to make much sense. Why would God do that?

Well, there are actually two very good and very historic reasons behind all of this. 1. The King serves a kind of stand in for common corruption. If something is so common that even the King (God’s Elected) is doing it, then it must be a virus spread throughout the land. & 2. Israel was a Theocracy. The Political Leaders were also the religious leaders.

So the king was the king. But the King was also one of the highest religious leaders of the people too (one of three offices Prophets, Priests and Kings).

Because we are generally unfamiliar with this type of religious and political system we don’t often think about the ramifications of this while reading the scriptures but it’s actually really important. When we think about our readings this way, it can change the meaning of a text greatly.

Here’s another good example of this: In the Psalms when David is far away in battle he writes that very famous phrase “Lord how I wish to walk in your courts”, at first glance we often think of that to mean that he is talking about the Temple. He wants to be in the Temple Courts. We assume that David is eager to worship in Israel again… and while that is certainly true – what we don’t often consider, is that the Temple court and Kings Court actually sit across from each other. They, share just one garden (just one court).

When David is a soldier away from home and he says, “Lord, how I wish to walk in your courts”. He is also; simultaneously saying, “I want to go home” (I’m tired; I want to stand in my own back yard.) See, David is the King of his time, but He’s also the Religious leader. The same is true here. Jeroboam is the King but he is also the guy that really makes the final religious decisions for all of his people. What Jeroboam says goes and what he does, by in large… the people also do.

This is where today’s passages comes from. Jeroboam and his chief priest Amaziah lead the people into idolatry. Two of the three offices are in revolt against God.

And Amos (Prophet and third office) understandably has a huge problem with this, but more importantly it seems to Amos – This King and Priest do so because they like the power that they have. They like it so much that they (the religious leaders) don’t really care what God thinks about there actions anymore. They are just there to enjoy the wealth and blessings of the age they live in. What’s more they probably don’t even understand all the wrongs they are doing. They do so on the backs of the poor. And where the leaders go, the people soon follow. The Nation becomes wealthy but the divide between rich and poor grows uncontrollably.

The interesting thing about this, is that, this is not the first time we learn of Jeroboam in the Bible.

In II Kings we get a bit more of the picture. See in the time of Jeroboam the Kingdom had been split in two. But Jeroboam had no interest in reuniting the two. In fact he loved his appointment as king of the northern kingdom and didn’t even want worshipers to enter the land on their yearly pilgrimages to the Temple. That, he thought, challenged his power. To prevent his own people from going south to the Temple of Jerusalem in Judah, Jeroboam set up cultic worship centers at the boarder line and put statues of Golden Calves at the centers of worship in Dan and Bethel saying of the statues, “Here is you God now”. He then changed all of Israel’s old priests out and he appointed his own.

Enter Amos the Prophet of God.

Amos comes from the south and confronts the King of the North and his corrupt priest. But Amaziah, Jeraboam’s High Priest does not want to deal with God. Instead he wants to continue making money on the backs of the poor. So he whispers in King Jeroboam’s ear and tells him that Amos is just a political leader who wants to destroy the kingdom. So King Jeroboam responds to Amos like this: “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah in the South, earn your bread there, and prophesy there, but never again at bethel for it is the King’s sanctuary and it is the King’s new temple.” Notice, it isn’t God’s church. It’s their church. All to common an attitude sometimes even today.

When Amos arrived from the south with the message from God, The King mocks Amos. He calls him a “seer”. It was a insult (meaning a prophet for money) and says, “go South where they will pay you more to say bad thing about the North… this is MY Kingdom and My Church and I’ll do whatever I want to do.”

It has been said that “there are none so blind as those who refuse to see”. This is Jeroboam.

In the morning of the battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was conferring with his general, planning the tactics of the day. After telling him what the infantry should do, he recorded as saying, “And by tonight Wellington will be in our power.”

As the story goes, Napoleon’s general remarked to him, casually, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Napoleon spoke up immediately responding, “Napoleon proposes, and Napoleon disposes.”

Stormy weather and other unforeseen events turned the tide at the battle of Waterloo. God it seems accepted Napoleon’s challenge and God showed Neapolitan just exactly who “disposes”. History tells us that this was Napoleon’s final defeat.

In the same way, Amos responds to the idea that Jeroboam “disposes” and he responds to the insult about being a “seeer” with a jab of his own. He says, I’m no “seer”, “I’m a herdsman and a dresser of figs.”

This is an interesting answer because on the one hand he seems to be saying “Me? Well I’m just a simple farmer” but on the other hand he seems to be a land owner himself, well educated and kind of connoisseur’s advisor (a person with a very well paying job actually). He is apparently important enough as a sycamore fig trimmer, to travel north for his work.

The splitting of figs was a task done to swell the figs late in their ripening in order to make them produce more sugars. The very wealthy might hire such a specialist to greatly improve their crops. And they would pay him well. Amos it seems says both “I’m a retired shepherd boy” and yet at the same time “a guy with a decent pay check”. Essentially he tells the King, “I don’t need to be paid in order to tell that you’re a disaster.” They trade insults.

At this point Amos seems to step it up a notch. Actually he steps it up about 50 notches. Although they don’t often make their way into greeting cards or bible verse calendars the scriptures are actually full of harsh verses like this one. AND Remember he’s talking to the King of the Northern Kingdom here. First he says “I don’t need money”, and then Amos says, And by the way… “Your wife (I told you… 50 notches right) “Your wife (that’s the queen) is going to become a prostitute, and your sons and your daughters and going to die in battle, and this Kingdom (God’s Kingdom) that you call “your Land and your church” will be split up into pieces. And you… you’re going to die out in the wilderness somewhere far away from here; in hiding.” BOOM Amos drops the mic.

You know the craziest part of all this?

Although we know from 2Kings all this bad stuff about the King, Idol worship and corruption. Amos doesn’t mention that much in his book. Amos’ real concern; the thing he says God is most most angry about, is that they’re rich and they let people die from basic lack.

In a vision, Amos saw the Lord at the wall. And the Lord had a plumb line in His hand. The plumb line was simply a string with a weight fastened to one end. When the string was held up to a wall, the weight caused it to hang in an absolutely vertical position. When you did this you could tell by this method whether or not a wall was leaning, or whether it was still standing the way it had been constructed to be.

The implication here is that Israel wasn’t straight anymore. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. It was falling. And Amos blamed the rich. And why wouldn’t he. They mistreated the poor. They horded all the toys. Who doesn’t get a little made at the 1% right? Remember all those 1% Marches that somehow just dissipated?

But there’s a problem: We’re all rich. Last year, if your household earned more than $42,000 you are in the 1% (0.998% actually) of the worlds richest people. And you’re in the 1% in the wealthiest period of all known human history. $100,000 for a household puts you in the top 0.1%. But if last year, your household earned more than $42,000 you are in the 1% of the worlds richest people. You’re in that group Amos said God would not withhold his anger from. Right?

Well…Before we take this too far let me just say that God is not anti-comfort. Abraham was rich. Solomon was rich. And most likely if you are here… you’re rich too (at least by historical and world standards). Having a bit of money for food and living in homes and residing in Edmonton is not the problem. It’s part of the blessing. It’s what we do with our riches that matters. That’s what made God so angry at Jeroboam, even angrier than his idolatry… he ignored the people he could have helped.

And that’s where I will leave this with you today.

I can’t and I won’t tell you what to do with your wealth.

And I’m in the same boat with you.

I am a 1%er.

But what I can tell is this… someday… everybody… will all stand before the Maker of Heaven and Earth… and we will all… have to face the music.

Amen.

Song: Lord, make us servants (739)

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

Transition Music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves

Heavenly Father, we pray for you to intervene to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We pray in Jesus’ name that the virus would recede and diminish from this day forward, and that the numbers of those infected would decline rapidly. We trust you, Lord, to intervene today with your loving care. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for those who are sick, that they will have access to the care and treatment they need. We pray peace and perseverance for them amidst suffering. We pray for those in isolation who are cut off from their normal routines and support systems, that they would seek their strength from you, Lord. We pray encouragement over the thousands in quarantine, waiting to find out if they have the virus or not. Lord, in your mercy

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for the health workers who are caring for those with COVID-19. We pray for their protection from the virus, for stamina during long or intense work hours, and for safe protocols to be observed in healthcare institutions in order to keep them protected. We pray for health workers to seek you during this crisis. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus. Even as their hearts are breaking, we pray they would know your nearness and comfort. We pray that your compassion, Lord, would be felt through the Holy Spirit’s ministry and through the ministry of friends and neighbors who come around them. We pray against despair; we pray new mercies every morning. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

Pray for pastors serving their churches and communities affected and infected by COVID-19. We pray that the Holy Spirit would give these shepherd leaders the right words for the right time and the right actions for the right situation. We pray they would speak your gospel in heart, word and deed to each person they are called to minister to. We pray especially for Archbishop Foley, Archbishop Emeritus Robert and all other bishops, priests and deacons. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

Pray for the body of Christ worldwide, that they would rise up to pray and to support the sick and their caregivers in practical and sacrificial ways. We pray for your church to be a light on a hill in the neighborhoods, hospitals, communities, and cities where you have placed them. We pray for an outpouring of love, compassion and service, in your name. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for government officials and decision makers who are leading countries and organizations through the crisis. We acknowledge you have allowed each on to be in a place of influence during this time. We pray they would mobilize resources quickly and effectively to where they are most urgently needed. We pray for all those working behind the scenes; we pray the good administration and execution of response efforts worldwide.  Lord, in your mercy

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for people look earnestly for you, because we know their desire to seek you will have come from you, and we know you will meet them. We pray for those whose businesses and livelihoods are ruined by the halt in many sectors of the economy. We pray for those who may lose jobs and salaries. For each one, we pray new beginnings with you walking by their side.  Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for our mission co-workers worldwide today, especially those serving in areas acutely impacted by COVID-19. We pray for wisdom for each ministry team to know how to carry out their responsibilities. We pray that ministries would not have to shut down, but that you would see fit that they are carried on through this difficult time, for your glory. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer

We pray for all those who live and die without the knowledge of Jesus to hear about you through this crisis and respond to your love. We pray the gift of salvation for every man, woman and child around the world today, so that they will become our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are asking in your name for this gift to come out of this crisis. Lord, in your mercy.

L: God of every life,
P: Hear our prayer.  Amen.

Song: Crown Him with many crowns (274)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: Sing Amen!

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 specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

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.