Illegal in 52 countries

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Pianist: Dorothy Beyer
Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Gina Kottke

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: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
P: We will lift up joyous song and sing     our praises.
L: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it rejoice.
P: Let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord,
L: For God will come to judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
P: Let us join with all creation to praise the Lord! Let us worship God. Amen.

Opening praise: Lord, I need You

Prayers of approach and confession

God, all year long we follow our many pursuits: power and money, a sense of superiority, the need to control things, the need to be right. The need to have just the right home, car, TV and just about anything else we can think of. Yet you come in meekness.

All season long we covet, and abuse what we have and justify what we want.

We toss out what is only slightly damaged or what is fine but “old”. While others starve, we throw out full containers of leftovers – life sustaining meals that simply sat around too long.

We say, “I’m starving” if we miss the snacks, we like in between full meals though “staving” has a very different meaning in many other parts of the world.  We want what is new, but what is new quickly becomes obsolete.

You alone offer what is lasting.

Lord, we work, and we toil, and while we do so, we complain, and we criticize but we rarely strive to do the higher work of Your kingdom and we forget how blessed we are to have jobs; let alone careers.

Your work, Lord should be our chief concern. Humanity should be our business and compassion our currency.

Father, we gossip, and we judge but we rarely look inside ourselves or at our own motivations. Rather than self-examination we take the easy road, and we pass the blame. But you, you did not come to boast or demoralize but to be humble and to unite.

Lord, forgives us our sins and help us to look inside ourselves so that we might admit our wrongs and the harm we have caused to others. Forgive us for the people we’ve passed by and for the splurging we have done. Make us truly repentant… make us focused on not duplicating our errors.

Cleanse us and let us start a new relationship with you and with our brothers and sisters in this world whoever and wherever they might be. – Amen.

Response: We come to ask your forgiveness, O God

Assurance of God’s grace (2Corinthians 5:17-19)

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.

In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself.
Through him all sins may be forgiven. – Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)

Story: Just like Buddy

A man from the big city was enjoying a relaxing drive in the country when a dog ran out in front of his car. He swerved to miss it but lost control of his car and ended up in a ditch. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get his car out of the mud the man sat on his bumper and waited for help to arrive.

He didn’t have to wait long. A farmer who lived just down the road came to his aid with a big powerful-looking horse.

The man watched as the farmer hitched horse to the car’s bumper. When the rope was secure the famer yelled: Pull Nellie! Pull!

But the horse didn’t move an inch.

Then the farmer yelled: Pull, Buster! pull!

But the horse didn’t move an inch.

Next the farmer yelled: Pull Curly! Pull!

But the horse didn’t move an inch.

Finally, the farmer said: Pull Buddy! Pull!

And with that, the horse easily dragged the car from the ditch and back onto the road.

The man from the big city was confused and curious as well as thankful.

Why did you call out four names, He asked, when the horse only responds to one?

Well smiled the farmer. “Buddy is blind. And if he thought he was the only one pulling he wouldn’t even try.”

Just like Buddy, we need to know that other people are with us. As the bible says, though on may be overpowered, two dan defend themselves. A cord of three strands is hard to bread (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The Christian life can be hard to live alone It can be done. Knowing that there are others are standing beside you can make all the difference.

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Great is Thy faithfulness (324)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 31:9-20 & Luke  21:5-19

Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “Illegal in 52 countries”

In the year 44 a man named Thaddeus called himself the Messiah and took 400 people to their death at the hands of the Romans. In 1534 a new Dutch Messiah Jan Mattjis said April 5, 1534, would be the end of the world. Intelligent people are not immune from these predictions either: Sir Isaac Newton wrote that the end could come in 1715 or 2060 and John Wesley thought it might be 1836.

The Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower magazine circulated to 13 million readers that the end of the world was coming in 1914 but that didn’t happen, so they tried again in 1918… 1920, 1925, 1940, 1941, 1975 and once more in 1994 but then republished an article about how God had spared the world due to their prayer.

David Davidson said that God told him through the great pyramids that Christ would come in 1954 which is odd considering God told Scottish astrometry Piazzi Smyth through the pyramids; it was going to be 1960.

Christian Writer Lindsey Boldly said “The Rapture” would occur before Dec. 31, 1981. But in 1988 NASA scientist Edgar Whisenant sold 300,000 copies of the book “88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988” saying the end would be by Sept 13 of that year.

But 88 came and went and in 1992, David Koresh of the Branch Davidian group in Waco Texas called himself the messiah and said he would bring about the end by April 10th of ’93. 76 members died as a result of a fire he deliberately set. A year later Televangelist John Hinkle went on TV and said the end was to be 1994 but his friend Jerry Falwell wasn’t so sure and just said “Soon… very soon.”

Televangelist Jack Van Impe promised 2001 or he’d go off the air. His show is on this morning at 10:00.

In 1975 Newsweek magazine reported the all most unanimously agreed upon facts within the scientific community – that a global cooling would soon bring about the next ice age. The report cited famines, wars, and droughts.

Michael Drosnin, author of “The Bible Code,” found a hidden message in the Bible that predicts World War III, involving a worldwide atomic [sic] holocaust, which was to start in 2000 (or perhaps 2006) his hidden Bible message wasn’t to clear on that detail.  Neither happened but he did sell 40 million copies and has 4 other books now. His newest date was in 2012 by the way, so we should all mark that one on our calendars. Oh wait… it didn’t happen.

In the Bible Luke says that two of the disciples were talking about how beautiful the Temple stones were. In response to this Jesus takes the opportunity to tell them that that the temple won’t last forever. He says, there is a time coming when the temple won’t be here any longer. In fact, he says, you have no idea what’s coming. They are going to kill me and when that’s done, they’re gonna come looking for you too. As usual the disciples just don’t really get it. They, like so many others, are captivated by end of the world scenarios. With concern for the temple they say, “Teacher when will this happen?”

You might expect next to have Jesus say, “any day now” or maybe even announce “the end of the world will be in 2025” like so many televangelists. But that’s not what he says. In fact, he kind of side steps the issue. The first thing he says has nothing to do with their question at all. He evades. He says this… “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am he’ or ‘the time is near’. Do not follow them”. He’s brilliant.

Still, like most people throughout human history the disciples are intrigued about when the end of the world might be. It is an obsession. They’re excited about “How is it going to happen” and “When will it be?” But that’s not really what Jesus is talking about. He’s changing the paradigm. And so, he says, don’t worry about the wars you hear about, or the earthquakes or famines or “signs in the stars”. Important yes, but signs of the end times… probably not.

If you want to be worried about something – worry about what’s coming when they find out that you’re with me?

He says “When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” But that is not what you need to worry about. Instead, he says, “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you because of me” Never mind he says about the end of the world. Don’t be fooled by people that say the “end is near”. Prepare yourself for what’s coming. Prepare yourself for persecution. That’s what you need to be ready for even if you are spared and it’s waiting for the next generation.

And it wasn’t long… the Bible tells us that after Jesus was crucified, Stephen was stoned in 34AD. According to the churches earliest traditions James (Apostle) the Son of Zebedee (one of the boys Jesus called Sons of thunder) was beheaded in 44AD. Phillip (the mysterious disciple Jesus called from under the fig tree) as crucified in 54. Matthew (or Levi as he was raised) died in 60. James the Just (Jesus’ brother) was clubbed, crucified and stoned the same year. Matthias (who replaced Judas Iscariot) is never mentioned again in the Bible, but traditions says he was stoned to death as well. Andrew (One of John the Baptist’s original followers and the first student of Jesus) was also crucified. Mark was a young boy at the time of the crucifixion. He was a student of Peter before writing Peter’s gospel (which we call Mark – though his name was John-Mark). He was dragged through the streets until dead.

Simon, nicknamed Peter by Jesus, was put on a cross upside down because Peter claimed to be unworthy of the same death as Jesus. Scientifically that was a fairly wise choice and far less torturous. Paul was killed in Rome by capital punishment, Judas Lebbaeus Thaddeus and Simon the gorilla fighter/disciples were put to the cross like their master at the hands of their sworn enemies. Bartholomew was carved into sections. The brave and honest thinker, so-called-Doubting-Thomas is said to have been speared and impaled. Luke the feminist physician and gospel author was hanged. And John (the beloved) was the only disciple to die of supposed natural causes though other sources claim that he was thrown into a large bat of boiling oil.

It is worth noting at this time that… in 70AD those Temple stones that the disciples were so concerned about… the One’s Jesus said would fall —— well they fell too. No stone was left upon the other. He was right.

So now what? Does that mean the world is about to end? What do we do with these verses now? Are the end of days among us? Or are we just a little closer than the disciples were? Should we be searching for signs and wonders and picking dates off of calendars? Isn’t it the end? The persecutions in the early church were terrible it’s true but it just plain doesn’t happen anymore? Aren’t all the persecutions over? I mean, when was the last time you turned on the news and heard a story about someone being executed for being a Christian?  The fact is… it just doesn’t happen anymore, does it? Or does it?

Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago

  • 43 million Christians are believed to have been martyred
  • It is estimated that over 50% of these were in the last century alone
  • Possibly as many as 200 million Christians face some form of persecution each day
  • Every day nearly 30 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.

— World Evangelical Encyclopedia

For some the world did end.

The fact is it’s hard not to blame people for being interested in the future or for (like the disciples) wanting to know when this might all come tumbling down on us. But if that’s our focus then we miss the point. Here Jesus says, it’s all going to end – but he’s not just providing random information. That this will end is not his point. His point is this… He says, they will kill you “on account of my name”.  And then he says the words that countless martyrs have clung to… “and so you will bear testimony to me”. “Stand firm” he says and “win life”.

So, we don’t face persecution in this country (at this point in history) … at least not the same way. It’s not illegal to be a Christian in Canada. Bibles are so easy to come by that they often sit on shelves static and unopened. We’ve been blessed like no other people before us, with the ability to worship however we see fit? But what have we done with this blessing?

In a world where some people don’t have the luxury of taking this day for granted. Where Bibles have to be smuggled into some countries. Where people could be killed for doing just what you are doing right now. Where Christianity is illegal in 52 countries. In a world where people are literally dying to go to church… What have we done with this blessing? And… what will we decide to do with it tomorrow? Amen.

Song: Lord, listen to Your children praying (449)

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

God of our past and our future,

God of healing and hope,

We come before you with grateful hearts trusting that you walk with us through all the times of our lives.

We give you thanks for all the benefits we share in a nation with many resources and many opportunities.

Yet we remember before you the many who do not have enough and cannot see their way forward.

We remember before you those living with hunger and communities struggling with the impact of fire and storm, earthquake and famine.

Keep silence for 10-15 seconds

Prayer for others and ourselves

We pray for all those working to relieve suffering in so many precious lives

here and around the world.

Keep silence for 10-15 seconds

God of these present times,

We give you thanks that we live in a country of relative peace and good order, a place where injustices past and present become subjects of investigation.

We pray for the work of healing and reconciliation engaging indigenous communities with other citizens in this land.

Open hearts in mutual understanding and provide opportunities for common enterprise.

We pray for those who have come to Canada, fleeing violence and deprivation in their homelands – people seeking refuge from injustice and persecution.

Provide comfort and support through the generosity of neighbours and protect newcomers from misunderstanding and discrimination.

Guide us to create a sense of home that all can share.

Keep silence for 10-15 seconds

God of time beyond our imagining,

We give you thanks for all we learn through scientific investigation that stretches us to reimagine your creation in its vast mystery and beauty.

Thank you for increasing insight in medical science and the possibilities it adds to your gifts of hope and healing.

We pray for all those who work in health care in this stressful time, for patients waiting for treatment and for those whose conditions find no relief.

Bless them with your Spirit of courage and comfort.

Thank you for increasing insight in climate science and the awareness it gives about the impact of our lives on the wellbeing of the earth.

Create better agreement and cooperation in our communities to protect the earth for future generations by the ways we adapt our lifestyles now.

Bless us all with your Spirit of courage and commitment.

Keep silence for 10-15 seconds

God of all life and each life,

In these moments of silence, we hold before you those on our hearts this day who need to know you are near and that we care for them too.

Make us signs of hope and healing for every life we touch, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Song: Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning (655)

Sending out with God’s blessing

God to enfold you, Christ to uphold you, Spirit to keep you in heaven’s sight So may God grace you, heal and embrace you Lead you through darkness into the light. Go in peace.

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

————————————————————————-

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 requirements of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377 and CLC (A735555).

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.