Go live the Jubilee – The year of the Lord’s favour. (Annabelle Wallace)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Third Sunday after the Epiphany
10:00 am January 23, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence)
Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Annabelle Wallace
Music director: Binu Kapadia   Vocalist: Vivian Houg
Elder: Jane de Caen
Children’s time: the Rev. Annabelle Wallace

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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: 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: Your law is perfect, O God;
P: it revives the soul;
L: your commandment is pure;
P: it enlightens our eyes.

Prayers of Approach and Confession  

Life giving God, you provided for our every need through your intertwined and interrelated creation. You gave us life itself. We bring our praise for your amazing love.  You provided your creatures with a law to bring about the fullness of living. Your law is perfect and your ways of living that are just.  We give you praise for Jesus Christ who made known your word, which is better that gold and sweeter than honey.  Thank you God for your ever faithful kindness. Remembering your ways we are brought to our knees for our neglect of your ways and rejection of your justice.  Forgive us for times of self centered obsession when we think that we are the center of the universe.  Forgive us for times when we give into jealousy, and hate and judgement. Forgive us for being picky about who we will love.  Continue to challenge us and to open our eyes to the joy that can be ours.  Amen

Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah

Glory, glory hallelujah, Since I laid my burden down Glory, glory hallelujah Since I laid my burden down.

I feel better, so much better since I laid my burden down. I feel better, so much better since I laid my burden down

Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, help me lay my burden down. Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, help me lay my burden down.

African American spiritual, public domain

Assurance of God’s Love
God’s word does not come to condemn us, but to make us wise, reviving our souls and rejoicing our hearts.
God’s Word is made clear to us in Jesus Christ who sets us free to live in accord with God’s Jubilee.

We listen for the voice of God

Transition music: Open our eyes, Lord

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch him and say that we love him,

Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord We want to see Jesus

Words and music: Bob Cull; © Maranatha! Music 1976; The Copyright Company Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

                                                                                 Children’s time

Story: God’s Way: the best Way to keep everyone safe

The Lord’s Prayer

Transition Music

Song: Thy word is a lamp

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

When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way, Still you’re there right beside me And nothing will I fear as long as you are near. Please be near me to the end

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

I will not forget your love for me and yet. My heart forever is wandering  Jesus be my guide and hold me to your side, And I will love you to the end.

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

Scripture readings                      
Psalm 19:7-13         OT(NRSV)
Luke 4:14-21           NT(NRSV)

Message: “Go live the Jubilee – The year of the Lord’s favour.”
Psalm 19, Luke 4, Nehemiah 8

The book of Nehemiah is set in a time of challenge. The people are home at last! The exile is over. They were finally out of that oppressive and discombobulating Babylonian exile. They returned to Jerusalem and did what they knew – they built the temple and the walls.  That is what they hoped would restore them to life. As important as this infrastructure was it was not the full solution toward renewal and a return to what was.  Like all communities that undergo military invasion and cultural breakdown their identity has become unraveled.

This question of whether or not the Jews can revive their identity as a worshiping people is an urgent matter of life and death. They have threats from outside the community but the bigger issue is the relationships in the community. The people no longer knew who they were. They no longer knew what God expected of them. So the priest Ezra and the governor Nehemiah are presiding over a community in severe conflict, dispute and fragmentation.

And miraculously, during the renovations, a long forgotten scroll has been found in the walls at Jerusalem. It is the Torah, a collection of “the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel”.  Listen to what happens when the people hear the Torah.

Nehemiah 8: 1 – 10. All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 

So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

When Ezra stood in that special pulpit and read aloud the scroll with the law, the people were attentive. Most had never heard it. It had been lost during years of turmoil and exile.  The people heard again those ancient words which we sum up with, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself.”

The people wept when they heard the law, when they heard again what God wanted of them. They wept tears of repentance and confession. This is God’s “Chosen People” at their best hearing the law of God, listening, aligning their lives accordingly.

This repentance is also found in Psalm 19. We hear the psalmist praise the power of the word of God, which is referred to as the law of the Lord. Did you hear it: The law of the Lord rejoices the heart. The law of the Lord enlightens the eyes.  This word is more to be desired than gold or honey. The law of God is positive and it revives the soul. Did you hear it?  The Word of God is positive and it revives the soul.

But then the Psalmist raises an important question:  “How can any of us detect our errors?”  To detect our own errors is very, very difficult.  We get so blinded by desires and assumptions. The Psalmist cries out for help – “O God, let the Word enlighten me”.

Torah, law, represents for biblical people Israel and for us, the “over-against-ness” of God.  Judaism, and Christianity, are not a faith journey that we find in our hearts, or discover in nature walks in the woods, or stumble upon thinking long thoughts in our study. Our faithfulness comes to us from a word outside. In an ancient scroll found buried in a wall.

In such moments we are reminded that our God is a real God, not some projection of our collective imagination. Our God stands over against us, outside us, beyond us. God’s ways are higher than our ways; God’s thoughts are deeper than our thoughts. We have to be told what this God wants out of us. Somebody has to speak it to us. Like Ezra at the gate someone needs to help us to understand this word from beyond our human planning and thinking.

The people wept when they heard again the long lost Word. Here is Israel at its best: listening to the Word, the intrusive Word, aligning themselves accordingly. And Nehemiah tells them not to mourn or weep but go and live it, celebrate the gifts of God like good food and wine and give a portion to those who have mothering – “for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

We heard an echo of Nehemiah 8 when we listened to Luke 4. Already Jesus has been baptised, he has faced down Satan in the wilderness and has been preaching and teaching in Galilee.  His teaching is going well:  people are singing his praises. We see him today having gone back home, back to Nazareth where he’d been brought up and Luke tells us that every eye in the synagogue was fastened on him.  Clearly, they are anticipating some fine teaching.

Like Ezra, Jesus reads from a scroll – words from the prophet Isaiah.

He stands up to read, sits down to teach and tells the congregation, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” A very short sermon.  Today this scripture is fulfilled. So what has been fulfilled?

Jesus is proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour. Usually we interpret this as the year of Jubilee that’s described in Leviticus 25. It is an “all bets are off” year in which debts are forgiven, slaves freed, bad real estate transactions redeemed.   This Jubilee year was to come around every 50 years.  It was a year of economic and even domestic restoration.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us that the Jubilee Year directives were never obeyed. When King Zedekiah tried to institute the practice, the people refused (Jeremiah 34:14). Still, the Jubilee Year continued to be part of Israel’s religious and social imagination. One day, someday, there may be jubilee.

When Jesus announces that the “year of the Lord’s favour” is now, he is declaring himself to be the Spirit-anointed Messiah who will make good on God’s promise.  Jesus is the One who will establish the society that God intends the world to be. Did you hear that – Jesus is the One who will establish the society that God intends the world to be. And that’s what we see throughout the gospel of Luke.  Jesus declares his mission and then he does it – he does it – he lives the law.

Jesus’ ministry is good news to the poor, like the widow whose son had died and the woman who had spent all her money in vain on physicians.

Jesus’ ministry is release to the captives, like the man held captive by the demon.

Jesus’ ministry involves recovery of sight to the blind, like the blind man alongside the road to Jericho   Jesus enables people to see God and to understand God’s will – the law.

Jesus doesn’t just announce Jubilee:  he is Jubilee. When Jesus reads the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue, he declares his mission and promises God’s aid and presence in loving one’s neighbour.

Christians then, while denying that the law or any system of salvation by works, rejoice in the law for the purpose it serves: restraining, opening our eyes to sin and aiding in our understanding of God’s will. It is a gift from God.

We do not obey the laws of Canada because they are laws we obey them because they empower us to love those around us. We understand that the entire law can be summarized positively as loving God and loving neighbour. The law is a gift.

There’s one more thing. Jesus declares his mission. He promises God’s presence and then he invites us to be a part of it.

You see, those who follow Jesus, take up his mission. Jesus calls us to be the jublilee, to right the wrongs of the past and begin again with a clean slate. Living out and joyfully extending God’s good news in our day.

For that’s the thing about Jesus’ opening words in his very short sermon. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Not yesterday, not some vague someday but today. Friends “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Go live the Jubilee – The year of the Lord’s favour.

Song: Sing them over again to me

Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life; let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life; words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty.

Refrain: Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life, beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

 Christ, the blessed one, gives to all, wonderful words of life; sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life; all so freely given, wooing us to heaven.                              Refrain

Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life; offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life; Jesus, only Saviour, sanctify forever.      Refrain

Words and music : Philip Bliss. Both public domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

God of prophets and apostles, and all of all women and men who speak the truth and do it. We thank you for sending your Word among us and the wisdom to understand.  We thank you for Jesus Christ who called us be your agents of love and justice and freedom. Help us to live as people of the year of the jubilee. Now as we present to you our offerings of money and time and service help them to bring light in the sphere of our influence. Here this our prayer. Amen

Response: Now thank we all our God

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices Who wondrous things has done in whom God’s world rejoices

words: Catherine Winkworth; music: J. Cruger public domain for both

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 ourselves and others

God of the ages, you call us to be prophets; and you give us a clear vision and the courage to make your message known. You call us to be disciples, make us eager to be sent, and faithful to your mission. And we come now to pray for your world, you mission.

We pray for those in war torn countries, caught in the cycle of hate and need for power. Uphold the innocents, guide those who have the courage to call for change and justice and please open the eyes of those who have the power to make the world just.

We pray for the poor, for those with no shelter, those with no food, those with no human supports.  Help us to find ways to mend what is broken, break into cycles of hopelessness and create more equitable sharing of your resources.

We ask that you uphold those who are working endlessly for healing and those working around the clock to give us safety and comfort during these times of pandemics and ridiculous weather events.

We remember before you students and teachers and staff in our schools that are striving to education and keep our children mentally safe.

Comfort those who live in care homes and those who care for them. In silence we now pray for those we know who need your comfort and strength. In silence we lift to you our personal concerns.  Amen

Song: Word of God, across the ages

Word of God, across the ages comes your message to our life, source of hope, forever present in our toil and fears and strife, constant witness to God’s mercy, still our grace, whate’er befall, guide unfailing, strength eternal, offered freely to us all.

Story of our wondrous journey from the shadows of the night, garnered truth of sage and prophet, guiding forward into light, words and deeds of Christ our teacher, pointing to the life and way, still appealing, still inspiring, in the struggles of today.

In the tongues of all the peoples may the message bless and heal, as devout and patient scholars more and more its depths reveal. Bless, O God, to wise and simple, all your truth of ageless worth, till all lands receive the witness and your knowledge fills the earth.

Words: Ferdinand Blanchard © 1953 renewal 1981 by the Hymn Society, used by permission of Hope Publishing Co. Music Franz J Haydn © 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

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go forth from this place renewed in your dedication to God. Go knowing that God is dedicated to you. May the Love of God surround you. The call of Christ inspire you and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit lead you. Amen.

Response: Go forth into the world X2

Go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit, thanks be to God, thanks be to God, thanks be God, Amen.

Words: traditional. Music: Natalie Sleeth. Arr: Gord McCrostie.

Musical Postlude

Annabelle Wallace retains the copyright (©2022) on all original material presented by her. As far as we are aware, all of the unattributed material presented herewith is Annabelle Wallace’s 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.