Lessons from the Apostle of Ireland (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Lent 2     13 March 2022    10:00 am
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Message and Children’s Time: Lydia Calder
Music director: Binu Kapadia   Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Sam Malayang

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: Wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name,
P: God is here among us.
L: Come, let us worship the God who brings us salvation.
P: Let us worship together in faith.

Opening praise: I lift my eyes up

I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from You, Maker of heaven Creator of the earth.

Oh, how I need You, Lord You are my only hope.
You’re my only prayer. So I will wait for You
to come and rescue me. come and give me life.

written and performed by Brian Doerksen ©1990 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook)License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:
L: During Lent, we remember God’s justice is being established and the oppressed re set free.
All: Let us submit our lives to Christ and be liberated from the patterns and sins that keep us captive.
L: God’s grace brings justice and is at work within us, encouraging our relationships and challenging the flawed systems we are part of. Sometimes, change is gradual and sometimes  change happens quickly.
All: All things are possible with God.
L: Let us pray[1]

Prayers of approach and lament

God ever creating, God ever loving, God ever leading: when things feel chaotic, your stillness is peace. When so much around us is not real or reliable, your word is truth. When we are paralyzed by fear and anxiety, your movement is freedom.

When we feel bereft and alone, your presence is love. When so much is fleeting, your love abides. And so for all you are and ever will be, we worship you.

God of mercy, we confess that we prefer darkness to light, and our own plans to your purposes. We shrink from costly discipleship  and seek cheap grace.

Forgive our luke-warm enthusiasm and shallow commitments. Guide us always so that we might live in your glorious presence and follow the way of your Son now and always. 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 forgiveness

During lent we called to examine ourselves in the light of Christ’s example. Do not be afraid to look inside to see those things which are holding you back from being the person God created you to be. Place your trust in God who is always with you, loving you into wholeness. Amen

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus loves me
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me…x 3; The Bible tells me so.

Words: Anna Bartlett © Mrs. Cherie MGuire; Music: William Bradbury 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

Story: The Shamrock

Good morning everybody!  Kids here and kids on Zoom.  I wonder if any of you noticed that I’m wearing green today.  Any guesses why?  On Thursday it will be St Patrick’s Day and green is the colour associated with that day.

I also brought a picture to show.  Does anyone know what it is?  A shamrock, which is a type of clover.  A shamrock is a symbol of national pride to Irish people and it also reminds us of St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland and all over the world where there are Irish people.

Even astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated it. Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a hundred-year-old Irish flute while floating weightless in the space station on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2011. And  people like you and me who aren’t Irish can also have fun on St Patrick’s Day.

People celebrate St Patrick’s Day on March 17 because they are remembering a man who lived a long time ago whose name was Patrick.  Patrick is considered a special person because he taught the Irish people about Jesus and his love.

One of the ways that he did that was by taking stories and things that the Irish people were familiar with and showing them how those things can relate to Jesus.

For instance, Christians believe in the Trinity – that means one God, with three equal, individual parts. When the Irish people had a hard time understanding that explain the concept of the Trinity, Patrick used a shamrock to explain it. Each leaf is separate and distinct, yet part of a whole. It’s just one clover, yet with three individual leaves… So, the next time you see a shamrock or a clover, your can remember one God, 3 parts.

Prayer
Thank you, God, for giving us fun times in life.  Help us to see you in all things and to feel your presence at all times.
And now we will pray together using the words that Jesus taught his disciples:

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Father, we love you (Glorify thy name)
Father, we love you, we worship we adore You,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Jesus, we love you, we worship and adore You,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Spirit, we love you, we worship and adore You,
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth

Words and music: Donna Adkins © Marantha! Music, 1976, 1981. Harmony Dale Grotenhaus © Marantha! Music 1985. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 27:4-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:11-20

Transition Music: Glory, Glory Hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujahI
His truth is marching on

Words: Public Domain; Music: 1986 Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.) Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE CCLI

Homily: “Lessons from the Apostle of Ireland”

Way back in the fifth century AD, Maewyn Succat (May-win Soo-cat) was born, somewhere in Roman Britain to a fairly wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest.  But, as he moved into his teens Maewyn  turned his back on the faith, and considered himself a pagan.

When he was sixteen, Maewyn was out working in his father’s field when Irish raiders kidnapped him and carried off to Ireland.  He was sold as a slave to a Druid high priest who was also sheep rancher.  This rancher sent him all the way out in the middle of nowhere. For the most part, his companions were sheep. Isolated, lonely and defenceless Maewyn realized how ineffectual his pagan beliefs really were. He reached out to the God of his childhood.

Six years into his slavery God spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to escape. He walked for two hundred miles, then stowed away on a boat bound for Britain and eventually got back to his family. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps he became a priest.  That was when he changed his name to Patrick.

At the age of 46 Patrick felt called to become a missionary—to go back to the land in which he had been a slave and share the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Patrick’s position as a foreigner in Ireland was not an easy one. He was legally considered an outsider so he had not protection within the law.  People could treat him as badly as they wanted with no fear of repercussion.  He was beaten, he was robbed, he was put in chains. But he persisted and was instrumental in bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Today, we’re going to consider three lessons we can learn from Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland.

First of all, he clung to God in life’s biggest struggles.

In writing of his life, Patrick said that as a young man in slavery he asked himself the question, “Am I willing to draw closer to God in turbulent times?”

It was during this gruelling period of his life, when many would have been angry with God, that he developed a closer relationship.  He wrote, “During the day I would say as many as 100 prayers and at night only slightly less… and faith grew.”

God often allows us to go through periods of anxiety, despair or suffering. But these times are not without meaning and purpose. In Romans 5 we read “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” In turbulent times it is hope that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other, day after day.

Patrick wrote,  “I used to pasture the flock each day. Praying in the icy coldness, in rain… And…one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me,  ‘Behold, your ship is ready. And it is two hundred miles away’ …By the power of God who directed my route I reached that ship.”

As we draw near to God, especially in turbulent times, he strengthens us for the journey and directs us toward our destination.

We can also learn from Patrick in how he approached his former enemies with unshakable forgiveness.

What must it be like to be kidnapped by foreigners at the age of 16?  To be torn away from family and friends? To be sold into slavery?

With that kind of abuse Maewyn – Patrick – had every reason to be angry with the Irish and hate them for the rest of his life. We know people who live like that. People who haven’t spoken to a sibling in years; people who can’t forgive a parent for childhood wrongs; people who are still angry with a neighbour for taking a shrub down in 2002.  Perhaps some of us are people like that.

The biggest reason people don’t forgive is that they want justice, some form of punishment for the person that hurt them. When we are wounded it is natural to want justice. But life is not a courtroom and Judge Judy is not behind the bench.  And in any case, justice will not heal the wound.

Wounds of the soul need spiritual medicine and for that we need intimacy with God. Forgiving others invites God’s presence into our hearts and helps us heal.

Charles Flood, tells a story about General Robert E. Lee.

Shortly after the Civil War the old Confederate general was visiting in Kentucky. A woman took General Lee to see the remains of what had once been a beautiful old tree standing in her front yard. The woman had loved that tree and Lee listened patiently as she cried and cursed the Yankees whose artillery fire had destroyed the trees’ limbs and much of its trunk. When the woman finished her rant she looked at Lee, waiting for some denunciation of the Yankees, or at least a word of sympathy. But after a moment’s pause he said: “Cut it down, my dear madam, and forget it.”

General Lee knew that the ravaged tree would never be the same, and no amount of bitterness would change that fact.

Power to forgive comes from being realistic about the hurt we have caused – to other people, to God, to the earth and to recognize the cost of our own forgiveness. If we choose not to forgive others, we are saying, “God, I’m not sufficiently grateful for Christ’s sacrifice and Your forgiveness of my sins. I’m not willing to do for others what you have done for me. I want my justice. I value my pain, more than I love you.”

What are you holding on to, seeking retribution for? “Cut it down, my dear friend, and forget it.”

The third lesson we can learn from Patrick is that he spread the good news of Jesus and his love.

When Patrick returned to Ireland he did so with a passion in his heart to share the freedom that he had found in Jesus Christ while he had yet been a slave.

This past couple of years we have been made acutely aware that there were missionaries and Christian leaders who misrepresented Christ to our Indigenous peoples and tried to force them to give up their heritage.

Patrick, on the other hand, was always respectful of Irish culture and beliefs.  He built a bridge to the Celtic culture by celebrating and emphasizing the aspects of that culture that he found good and righteous. Case in point, the shamrock and the Trinity.

According to Thomas Cahill, Patrick’s greatest asset was his ability to tell the Celtic story better than the Celts could. He saw the Irish story as something within God’s broader story, and then offered them a more complete explanation of their history, showing how it finds its fulfilment in Jesus (Cahill, 148)

Patrick did not have to tear down everything the Irish people valued and start over because Christianity transcends culture.  He shows us that we can affirm the true and the beautiful aspects of all cultures and beliefs and build on those.

Patrick was quite a guy, wasn’t he? Intelligent, knowledgeable, brave, highly motivated.   No wonder he was credited with performing a thousand miracles.  No wonder he is so highly honoured.

We, however, are ordinary people.  We could never do those kinds of things.

And yet, we are all what the Apostle Paul calls, “Ambassadors for Christ” as Sam read earlier in 2 Corinthians 5:20 – people who are sent out to work as citizens of God’s Kingdom, representing light and love, truth and justice.

Patrick’s life and ministry teach us to be open to the call of God in our lives. His turbulent times as a slave in Ireland drew him into a love relationship with Jesus Christ. His ability to draw close to God and thereby offer unfaltering forgiveness had a dramatic impact on the Irish people. And his willingness to follow God’s call and share the story of salvation makes him a hero of the faith.

Things are tough in the world right now. There is war, not just in Ukraine, but all over the place. Globally, 426 million children live in conflict zones. In the Horn of Africa 13 million people are facing severe hunger.  Covid 19 still lurks just around the corner and the divisions it has created amongst us will not be soon forgotten.

Now, more than ever, the world needs faith heroes, people who are willing to draw closer to God, then reach out to others in love and reconciliation.  To share the kind word, to extend the helping hand, to shine the light of Christ into someone’s darkness.

We too can be heroes.   Amen

Song: Morning has broken
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness Praise for the morning,
sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight Mine is the morning
Born of the One Light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day

Words: Eleanor Farjeon © Michael Joseph. Used by permission of David Higham Assoc. Ltd. Music: Gaelic melody, arranged by John Wilson © 1983 Hope Publishing Co.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
Creator God, You made the world in all its glory, earth and sky as a home where we can worship you and enjoy your beauty.

We thank you, O God, for gathering us safely under your wings and reminding us of your presence and care. With hearts lifted high, we offer you thanks and praise at all times through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful
In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful.
In the Lord I will rejoice
Look to God, do not be afraid
Lift up your voices, the Lord is near,
Lift up your voices, the Lord is near

Words: Jacques Berthier; 1991 © Taize 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

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
Be still and know
That I am God
Be still and know
That I am God
Be still and know
That I am God

The author and composer of this hymn, based on Psalm 46:10, are unknown.

Prayer for others and ourselves

God of strength and comfort, we sit in the quiet calm of your presence, trying to hush the whirlwind of concerns around us, to set aside our own interests and distractions and to pray for the world you love.

For those who are treading a slippery path . . . for those exhausted and seeking relief . . . for those who face a mountain of worry or debt or any other obstacles. . . Be Guardian and Guide.

For those who are facing new or challenging situations… those who are making a major transition in life or livelihood… those who are still anxious about the changing face of the pandemic… Be Wisdom and Understanding.

We think especially of this congregation and Rev. Brad Childs and his family as they prepare for new horizons adventures with you.

For those who are sick in mind, body, or spirit . . . those weighed down by depression or pain . . . those recuperating from surgery or accident. . . . those who grieve…be Comfort and Hope.

Lord, these last weeks have brought shock and sadness as we watch the Russians bombard Ukraine.  For those fleeing in the midst of danger… those staying under the threat of oppression… those going forth to fight for what they believe in… be Refuge and Strength.

You call us, O God, to a ministry of reconciliation.  You ask us to reach out to the world around us with your message of friendship and peace through Christ Jesus.

Lord, in places of war, bring peace . . . in places beset by natural disaster, bring calm and restoration . . . where there is unrest and injustice, make justice our aim..

God our helper, our shade, our protector, you are able to give life to the dead, to call into being things that do not exist. We trust in your power to make all things new; to keep us in sunlight and moonlight, along rocky paths and pathways unknown; until all our going and coming brings us at last to your kingdom promised in Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen

Song: Be Thou my Vision vrs. 1,2,5
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
naught be all else to me, save that thou art,
thou my best thought, in the day and the night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom; be thou my true word,
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

High King of Heaven, when the battle is done,
grant heaven’s joy to me, O  bright heaven’s Sun;
heart of my own heart, what ever befall,
still be my vision, O ruler of all

Words: anonymous, translation Mary Byrne, paraphrase Eleanor Hull © Chatto and Windus Ltd ; Music: Irish traditional, Music harmony copyright© 1975 and descant©1983 by Hope Publishing Co. 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

We close with a prayer of St Patrick. I share it as he wrote it, as his own prayer. Where it  refers to “me” please consider that I pray on behalf of each of us as individuals and let it become your own prayer.

May the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left…
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.   Amen.

Response: God to enfold you
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

Words: J. Bell, G. Maule; © WGRG 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

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 specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.
Lydia Calder retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him.
As far as Lydia Calder 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.

[1] -The call to worship this morning is taken from the Lent Reading series published by Presbyterian World Service and Development.  PWS&D is the relief agency of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. PWS&D is currently working with Canadian Food Grains Bank to support people displaced because of the war in Ukraine.

Posted in Recent Sermons.