God of the small things (William Ball)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Healing and Reconciliation Sunday     10:00 am May 22, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. William Ball
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Children’s Time: the Rev. William Ball
Elder: Heather Tansem

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: Here I am to worship

Call to worship
L: Mustard seeds and yeast, who notices     such small things?
P: Good things can come from what seems so insignificant!
L: Can you see it, can you feel it?
P: The kingdom of God is among you, and within you.
L: From small beginnings, God brings great things.
P: Let us praise the God of growth and new life.

Prayers of approach and lament

We worship you, God of changing seasons and new life.  Shoots pushing through the soil, buds bursting on trees and bushes, all point us to the marvel of your creation.  Open our eyes this day to beauty and our ears to the harmony of all that surrounds us.  May the fragrance of your love fill our senses, that we might praise you.

With pain in our hearts, we confess that in our focus upon ourselves, we miss the beauty and joy that you give us.  Fixated upon the flashy, dazzled by our yearning for more, we overlook what you have given us.  We don’t notice the small things at our feet, and we disregard the subtle influence of your kingdom within us.  Forgive us, Lord, when we place so much energy and focus in the wrong place.  Reorder our priorities, and renew our understanding, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Response: I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Jesus said, “My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Let his forgiveness set you at peace with God and yourself, and make peace with one another. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

Story: The impact of yeast on dough as a metaphor for the impact of God on our lives.

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: God of the sparrow (307)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings:
Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15;
Ephesians 4:11-13, 15-16
Luke 13:18-21

Response: Glory to the Father

Homily: “God of the small things”

One of the delights that Christine and I have enjoyed in our time in Alberta have been our trips to the mountains.  Camping and canoeing in the summer; skating and cross-country skiing in the winter – and hiking year-round.  I confess my amazement and joy -whenever I am out in the wilderness – at the sheer scale of the foothills leading to the crags and peaks of these magnificent piles of rock.

It seems that whenever we want to imagine the grandeur of God, we think of big things.  Big mountains, big oceans, the magnificently tall trees of the west coast rain forest, the wideness of the prairie sky.  For many of us, we’ve moved beyond the confines of this earth to push our imaginations out into the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe beyond – to capture the magnificence of God’s creation.

And yet when Jesus wanted to describe God’s kingdom, he didn’t automatically draw people’s attention to the big things; instead, he looked closer to home, and drew people’s attention to the smaller things – consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field – consider woman who turns her house upside-down to find a lost coin – consider the faith of a child . . . consider a boy with a lunch – loaves and fishes for a multitude!

In today’s few verses on the kingdom of God – Jesus draws our attention to very small, easily overlooked things – mustard seeds and grains of yeast, a farmer who is farming and a woman making bread.

For a number of weeks at Mill Woods church, Christine and I have been using the various images of “Bread” in the Bible to reflect on ways in which bread plays an important role in the Bible and can teach us many things.

For example:

Following a resurrection breakfast on the beach, Jesus and Peter reconcile, even though Peter had denied Jesus, and he is given the charge to “care for Jesus’ sheep.”  The sharing of bread led to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Or, in another instance, to feed a multitude, Jesus relied on the generosity of a small boy who shared 5 barley loaves and two dried fish – the food of the poor.  Jesus chose to use this example of generosity to ensure that people were fed.

In a story from the Hebrew scriptures, in hastening to offer bread to strangers, Abraham and Sarah showed the importance of hospitality and welcome to all – perhaps even welcoming angels in disguise!

And in today’s reading, Jesus likens the kingdom of God, not to the very great, the large, the extraordinary, but to the small and the easily overlooked – mustard seeds and yeast – a farmer sewing a crop, and a woman making bread.

In an agricultural society, farmers were a dime a dozen.  They were all over the place.  A large segment of the population was involved in raising crops or animals.  So, Jesus took this image – of a farmer taking something very small which then grew large so that birds could make a nest to raise their young.

In a patriarchal society, women were often overlooked.  They had their roles assigned to them by tradition.  And one of them was the daily making of bread so that the family could be fed.

I wonder – in what ways is God like the farmer, or the woman – acting in and through those whom we often overlook.  Those who are ordinary, just going about their daily work.  Jesus didn’t point to those whom we might expect to be examples of God’s action such as priests, pharisees, and other such religious people.

I wonder, how might God’s reign be one of ordinary, daily things and people?  People like you and me.

Mustard seeds are tiny, yet they have a big effect.  In his book The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Clayborne notes that if you were among the audience when Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a farmer sewing mustard seeds, you might well have laughed.  No farmer wanted mustard in his fields.  No gardener wanted mustard in her garden.  In fact, there were prohibitions against the sewing of mustard seed because once they get into a garden or field it is almost impossible to get rid of them.

I suspect that when Jesus made this comparison, he wasn’t just thinking about the smallness of the mustard seed, but also it’s relentless persistence, it’s stubbornness, it’s multiplying effect.  In reality, it only grows into a small bush, 2 or 3 feet high.  Not exactly like the towering cedars of Lebanon of Bible fame.  If you want to imagine grandeur, you’d think of them, much like the west coast of North America thinks of Redwoods in California or Douglas firs in the British Columbia rainforest.

But Jesus wasn’t going for grandeur – he was going for something very different.  Not just something that starts small and then gets bigger, but also something which has great effect on everything around it; something small, which can’t be stopped

It is the same for Jesus’ next comparison using yeast.  Yeast is a remarkable micro-organism – coming from the same fungus family as mushrooms.  Human beings have made use of wild yeast for millennia to ferment both wine and beer, and to be used as a leavening agent for bread.

Wild yeast spores float freely in the air and over many generations, humans learned to use them.  We discovered two things – first of all, it doesn’t take very much yeast to have an effect, and secondly, the effect is all out of proportion to its size.

In Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom and yeast the woman is working with a lot of dough.  Three measures of flour are around 144 cups, which would make more than 70 of our large loaves of bread.  Three measures of flour are enough to feed up to 300 people.  Although yeast appears to be a very minor ingredient, it has a huge impact.  A little yeast goes a long way.

Jesus is saying that a little bit of Kingdom life and love is enough to influence a big, big world.  It may all start small and look insignificant but over time it will grow.

This is the time of year that Christine and I open packages of seeds for our gardens.  Have you ever been disappointed when you opened such a package.  Inside there is an even smaller envelope with miniscule seeds.  One wonders, how could this be enough seed?  Yet, once you space out the seeds and water them, you can get a bumper crop of carrots or lettuce.  More than you can eat on your own!

It is not a stretch to imagine the world as being the mustard bush or the dough.  It was created for a purpose, but its purpose cannot be accomplished without the help of the farmer who takes the seeds and plant them in the grownd.  Or the woman who intentionally adds yeast to a batch of dough.

We, the people, are instruments of God’s work of the kingdom.  This must have been good news to the ordinary folk of Jesus’ day.  Farmers, women, are often taken for granted and their work overlooked.  Yet, here they are – examples of God at work.

God loves to do surprising things with people whom others overlook.  God can pluck a young boy and make him into a prophet Jeremiah.  God can take a young woman from Albania and make her into a mother Teresa, serving the poor and abandoned of Calcutta.

A little bit of God’s kingdom is enough, invading every part of our lives the way that yeast works on the whole batch of dough.  God’s love and compassion, mercy and joy can reach in and influence our heart and soul, mind and spirit, motivating our actions and our words.

The apostle Paul suggested in I Corinthians 1:26ff that the members of that church take a look at the people around them.  They would not see many celebrities, not many people that the world acclaims as great or mighty or rich or gifted; yet, God chose to use the them.  And in using them, God changes the world; the kingdom is grown, God’s reign is established.

In fewer than two weeks, someone will come among you for whom you have waited a long time.  The Rev, Brad Childs will be inducted as minister to this congregation on June 1st and he takes up his calling among you.  But I don’t want you to think that the task of ministry is done or that God is only using him to do God’s work.

As the reading from Ephesians teaches us, gifts for ministry are given to each of us.  Every one is part of a larger whole – the body of Christ – and whether what you do happens up front, or behind the scenes, it is necessary and valued. Whether people get to hear your name, or you remain unfamiliar to the majority, God can use what you do to great effect for the kingdom.

A famous quote from Mother Teresa reminds us that “We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.  It is not about how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.

  • When we volunteer to take the nursery class and give the paretns a chance to worship, knowing that their baby is well cared for.
  • When we welcome newcomer and go out of our way to make them feel at home.
  • When we make a phone call to say “hello, how are you?”
  • Share a casserole or some baking,
  • Visit someone who is ill
  • Spend time encouraging young people.
  • Drive someone to an appointment

All of these – using our time, talents and resources for God – that is mustard seeds and yeast at work – in us and through us.

Prayer: John van de Laar: “Our Small Difference”

We may not be able to confront queens or challenge presidents.

We may not have the capacity to divert resources, or lift communities

We may not have the voice to silence the noise of war, or the words to negotiate peace between armies.

But, as we follow you, O Christ, we are able to do something.

And so, we pray that you would inspire us to commit to act on the small difference that we can make.

May we bring peace through small acts of gentleness and reconciliation

May we bring wealth through small contributions and collaborations.

May we bring safety through small acts of consideration and acceptance;

May we bring wholeness through small acts of care and service.

And in the small ways, O God, may our small difference make a bring contribution to your (saving and reconciling) love in our world.  Amen

Song: Come my way, my truth (565)

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Lord our God, all that you do is full of grace and your actions toward us in our need are generous.  We sing praises to your name, declaring your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night.  It gives us joy to express our appreciation to you in word and in song.

We are thankful for the ways in which you work in us, and through us, enabling us to not only provide for our own needs, but more importantly, to share what we have been given with others.  Help us, Lord God, to reflect your graciousness and generosity in all that we say and do.  We ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Response: Give thanks to the Lord (Instrumental)

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

Precious Lord God, we are so thankful for the blessings that we daily receive from your hand.  We are thankful for the people that are around us, family, friends, and strangers alike, for whom we pray.  We know, God of comfort, that there are many in this city and beyond who are struggling with life, who are suffering from pain of body, mind or spirit.  Be with them.  Let them know that you are there for them, that your love surrounds them, and that as your sons and daughters, we care for them.

God of every nation and peoples, there are so many people who are fighting each other.  Mothers and fathers, who have gone their separate ways, even if they are still living in the same household – and in addition to hurting each other, children are harmed, and communities are torn apart.

Neighbours clash, properties are threatened, goods are stolen, and people feel vulnerable.  Help us, dear Lord, find ways to protect those who are weak, to promote a just and equal sharing of the things that we receive from your earth – that no one goes without, none are hungry or despairing, and those who seek to take and keep more that is rightfully theirs, are dealt with justly.

Every day, week after week, we read the stories, see the faces, and hear the names of those who are in great need.  Places like Ukraine deal with invaders and desecrators; places like Kenya face another year of drought and famine, and places like South Korea face belligerent and unstable neighbours.  Help us, as people of the Prince of Peace, find ways to help those who are needing our assistance here at home, and within our global village.

This day, as our denomination recognizes the importance of Healing and Reconciliation with our First Nations, Inuit and Metis neighbours, we pray for them in their suffering as they continue to face the effects of the residential school system, and generation by generation, recover their ways, their languages, and their sense of self.

May we be true partners in seeking a new way forward.

All these things, and more, we bring before you in need and in confidence, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Song: The kingdom of God (787)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Know that you go in the name of Jesus Christ who is at work in you and through you – and know that you go in the grace of God, the love of Jesus, and the companionship 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

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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.

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

—————————————–

Song Sheet for 22 May 2022

Here I Am to Worship

Light of the world, You step down into darkness. Opened my eyes let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore you Hope of a life spent with you.

Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God, You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days, oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above. Humbly you came to the earth you created. All for love’s sake became poor.

Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God, You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.

Songwriter: Tim Hughes © 2000 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

I waited on you, Lord

I waited, I waited on you, Lord, I waited, I waited on you, Lord, You bent down low and remembered me when you heard my prayer  x2

Words: Psalm 40; Music: J. Bell; © WGRG 1987 Iona 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

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

God of the sparrow
God of the sparrow God of the whale
God of the swirling stars, How does the creature say Awe How does the creature say Praise.

God of the earthquake God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast How does the creature cry Woe How does the creature cry Save.

God of the rainbow God of the cross
God of the empty grave How does the creature say Grace How does the creature say Thanks.

God of the hungry God of the sick
God of the prodigal How does the creature say Care How does the creature say Life.

God of the neighbour God of the foe
God of the pruning hook How does the creature say Love How does the creature say Peace.

God of the ages God near at hand
God of the loving heart How do your children say Joy How do your children say Home.

Words: J Vajda, Music: C Schalk © 1983, GIA Publications Inc.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reservedPermission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Glory to the Father

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit As it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever Amen, amen, amen

 Words: traditional, public domain music: J. Weaver © J. Weaver 1978

 Come, my Way, My Truth, my Life

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life: such a way as gives us breath; such a truth as ends all strife; such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength: such a light as shows a feast; such a feast as mends in length; such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart: such a joy as none can move; such a love as none can part; such a heart as joys in love.

 Words: G. Herbert Music: R. Vaughn Williams. © Stainer and Bell Ltd. 1911 Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.  Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

 The kingdom of God is …

The kingdom of God is justice and joy; For Jesus restores what sin would destroy. God’s power and glory in Jesus we know; And here and hereafter the kingdom shall grow.

The kingdom of God is mercy and grace; The prisoners are freed, the sinners find place,. the outcast are welcomed God’s banquet to share; And hope is awakened in place of despair

The kingdom of God is challenge and choice:
Believe the good news, repent and rejoice! His love for us sinners brought Christ to his cross: Our crisis of judgement for gain or for loss.

God’s kingdom is come, the gift and the goal;
In Jesus begun, in heaven made whole. The heirs of the kingdom shall answer his call; And all things cry “Glory!” to God all in all.

Words: Bryn Rees © Mrs. Olwen A. Scott; Music: Paul Bateman © Paul Bateman

 

 

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