Portrait of Christ

Worship on the Lord’s Day      Healing and Reconciliation Sunday
10:00 am    21 May  2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs     Elder: Sam Malayang
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Fionna McCrostie

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

Call to Worship
L: Let us be joyful before God!
P: We will sing praises to God’s holy name.
L: Let us lift up a song to the One who rides upon the clouds,
P: who protects orphans and widows, and gives the desolate a home.
L: Sing to God, all nations of the earth;
P: We will sing praises to the Lord, our God!

Opening praise: Here I am to worship

Prayers of approach and reconciliation

God of Majesty and Mystery, we praise you as Lord of all, maker of the deepest dimensions and delicate details of all that is.

You live beyond time and hold all our days in your hands.

You still come to us in Jesus as Lord of Mercy, to walk with us wherever we are in the world.

You claim us as beloved children, blessed by the Spirit in his name.

Receive our prayers and praise this day, and inspire us to live as witnesses to your grace and goodness here and everywhere, now and always.

Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to carry the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth.

Yet we often cannot find the words to tell others of our faith and hope.

We fall silent when we could speak up.

We try to act out your love, but we confess we usually act in our own best interests.

Forgive us all the ways we fail to follow you.

God our Creator, you set us in relationship with each other, to share the earth you made and care for each other as neighbours and nations.

We confess particularly today that relationships among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples need repair.

Years of hurt, trauma and misunderstanding create pain, suspicion and resentment on all sides.

Forgive our reluctance to reach out to those with a different story to tell, and awaken the desire for reconciliation within us. Heal the broken hearted Lord and bind up our wounds. Amen.

Response: We come to ask your forgiveness, O LOrd

Assurance of God’s forgiveness: While it is true that we have all fallen short in our call to follow Jesus, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through his grace. Remember the Good News! In Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus, we are gathered (514)

Story: Have you ever heard of Theodore Roosevelt? He was the 26th president of the United States. Before becoming president, he was a soldier, an author, served as police commissioner of New York City, and was even a cowboy. As a young man, he staked a claim in North Dakota and started his own ranch.

During his time as a rancher, Roosevelt and one of his cowhands lassoed a stray calf. They built a fire and prepared to brand the stray. The part of the range they were on belonged to Gregor Lang, one of Roosevelt’s neighbors. According to the cattleman’s rules at that time, a stray belonged to the person on whose land it was found. As his cowboy applied the brand, Roosevelt said, “Wait, it should be Gregor Lang’s brand.”

“That’s all right, boss,” said the cowboy.

“But you’re putting my brand on it,” Roosevelt said.

“That’s right,” said the man.

“Drop that iron,” Roosevelt demanded, “and get back to the ranch, pack your belongings, and get out. I don’t need you anymore. A man who will steal for me will also steal from me.”

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

  • Matthew 5:33-37

Prayer: Lord, we thank you, this day, for our children, for our community. We pray, in a world that often goes astray, that we wouldn’t take the easy way out, that we would be honest people, that our yesses would be yesses and our nos nos.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: We lay our broken world (207)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Acts 1:6-14; I Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “Portrait of Christ”

Nearly 100 years ago, the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson came to him with wonderful news. She told him that a newspaper article likened the missionary to some of the apostles. People were taking notice and he had earned the respect of the people. His wife felt rightly, proud.

Judson, however, looked at her with tears in his eyes. And he replied, “I do not want to be like Paul… or any of them. I want to be like Christ… I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints… I want to be more like Christ!”

The original language (koine Greek) text for our reading today from Ephesians is written in just one exceedingly long, run-on sentence. In it, Paul uses the word Kai (KIE) (for “and”) 11 times. Modern translations usually turn this into one or even two full paragraphs. But for Paul, each point directly flows into the next. For him everything he is saying is related and every part of our identity stems from one sacrificial and cosmic act in Christ. It’s all connected. And so, Paul just pours it out in his writing as one continuous statement.

It’s awkward and it’s jolted, and I bet it’s emotional too. It’s in reading portions of scripture like these that I am reminded of this simple fact: Paul didn’t write this letter to be read – he dictated it to a secretary but the intent was that it would be delivered to the congregation and read aloud. Paul is pouring out his thoughts and these words are intended to be heard.

In a single statement Paul says that he has:

  • heard about the faith of the Ephesians.
  • knows they Love God’s peoples everywhere.
  • can’t stop thanking God for them.
  • always remembers them in his prayers.

And that he

  • asks God to make His Wisdom even more known to them.
  • wants them to understand even better the hope God calls them into
  • wants them to know the glorious inheritance God has for them
  • wants them to know the Power of God available to them in prayer
  • wants them to understand that the power of Christ’s resurrection is their lives
  • wants them to understand that Christ is the highest authority and that all things are under Him

And that

  • Christ is the sole object of their worship but is also the sole leader of their worship
  • Christ is the only true head of their community, no matter who is standing up at the front of the congregation

And that

  • the church is the body of Christ able to do all things as his ambassadors.

For Paul none of these things stands alone. They are all connected. In them we are all connected. And in that, we are all connected to Christ.

God placed all things under the feet of Jesus and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church.

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops, a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He looked at the driver; smiled and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!” and sat down at the back.

The driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek… Naturally, he didn’t argue with Big John, but he wasn’t happy about it.

The next day the same thing happened. Big John got on again, said “Big John doesn’t pay!” and sat down.

And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth it happened over and over.

This irritated the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him just because of his small size.

Finally, he could stand it no longer. He signed up for a body building program, jujutsu, boxing, and all that good stuff.

By the end of the summer, the bus driver had become quite strong; So on the next Monday, when Big John got on the bus and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!” the driver stood up, glared back and screamed, “And just why not?”

With a surprised look on his face (after being challenged for perhaps the first time in his life), Big John replied, “Big John has a Bus pass.” (1001 Ill 527)

Big doesn’t mean bad. Powerful doesn’t mean meddling. But it can. And that makes us nervous.

“People want to be lightly governed by strong governments.” I read that a long time ago in a Wall Street Journal editorial online, but it has stuck with me ever since and I agree with it wholeheartedly. People do want to be lightly governed but they want a strong government.

I’ve wanted that since I was a very small child. Maybe you have too. I wanted a dad that was big and strong and able to do anything I could think of – unless I was in trouble. Then I wanted a dad who was tender and calm.

I wanted a dad who was involved in my life. Unless I did something wrong, then I wanted a dad who kept his distance.

I wanted police offers that would be brave enough to take on any bad guy but also able to put me on his shoulders and walk me back to my parents when I got lost at the Hutchinson mall or when I walked away from the line at Magic Mountain, Disney. I wanted… Lots of muscles … With lots of restraint.

When evil men rise up, we want a government with the clout to sit them back down again, but we want them to stay out of our business as much as possible.

People want to be lightly governed by strong governments. And it’s the same with God. We want the omnipotent ruler of the universe to be tender. And it’s bit of a catch 22. Because we want God to be all powerful BUT ALSO not restrain us with a bunch of rules we don’t agree with. But at the same time, we want that God to be at our beck and call.

We can’t always have it both ways. The nature of authority is that whoever is the authority is in charge.

I think, luckily for us, we have the God of power, but also the God of restraint. We have the God that hung the stars. But we also have a God who says “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your tired souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (1001 Ill. 223) We have the God who hung the Stars and the God who hung on the cross.

But just because our God is tender and loving and doesn’t always meddle too much in our business, that doesn’t mean God’s without power or that we need not bend to his authority. The Messiah of God is the one Paul says has all authority over the Church.

But do we really treat Christ as the authority?

How long have you been reading the Word of God? Since what age? For how many years? And in all that time how many occasions have there been when you found things that you just didn’t like, didn’t agree with, didn’t want to follow?

If you are reading your bible and you’ve never found something that you don’t like and don’t want to follow than I submit to you that you haven’t been reading your bible at all.

You’ve just been reading into it what you want to find.

What are the chances you and God absolutely agree?

We call Christ the Head and the Authority of the Church and we call him “Lord”, but a Lord is someone you bow to and follow even when you don’t want to, even when you disagree?

Do we do that? And if we don’t then, is Jesus really Lord of our lives?

I think that’s the hardest job for the Christian, to find something in God’s word that we don’t like, and then to follow it anyway. But that is what having a Lord is all about.

Christ is the authority and the Head – The church is his body

Verse 22 is the first actual mention of the church in this letter to the church at Ephesus. The word in Greek is ecclesia (ekk-lay-sea-ah). It comes from two root words, Ek (meaning “out of”) and Kalio (meaning “called ones”). The church is literally the “called out ones.” That’s us. And it is in the realm of the church that Jesus is exercising His Lordship and he is not calling us to sit in the pews. He is calling us out to do something… out there. The church is His body on earth and it is meant to grow and develop as a healthy body and it’s intended to be activeWe are called out – to do something.

Our responsibility is to BE the church, not just to attend one. We are called out, to a mission. Called to do the work of ministry under the leadership of the head. That is what bodies do – what the head tells them to.

First and foremost, but still among many other things, Christ has sent His church into the world “to make disciples of all the nations.” The result will be a “called out” assembly of every nation and tribe and people. That is what the church is and is “called out” to do and be. We are called out to be disciple makers. Notice I said, called to be disciple makers, not Christian makers. We are not called to make converts; we are called to make disciples who continue to grow in the faith. We share Good News. God takes care of the conversion of hearts.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are called out to do all things for Christ, to redeem the earth, the care for the planet, to share good news, to feed the hungry, to cloth the naked, to be the friend of sinners, to care for those around us, to forgive as he does, to share what we have, to (on and on and on and on and on). We are called to do all that he did and does because he is Lord.

But we can only do that if we are connected to the head – Jesus Christ. If we try to do it on our own or for our own good, it is still good work, but it’s not the church.

Psychologist Daniel Kriegman concluded that humanity should embrace religion but reject all authorities. Once he rejected authorities like legal systems or the Bible. He believed that truth is always subjective, and that no ultimate truth exists. Once no ultimate authority could be named, Daniel was left with what he calls “open-source religion” whereby all participants create their own shared morality as determined by popular option. His new religion is an experiment called Youism (You-ism) and it has a lot of followers.

The problems with this idea are monumental as you might have guessed. Once people refuse to follow any authority and create their own morality (which is itself a circular argument) – hedonism soon follows (it’s the Island of Dr. Moreau[1] all over again.

The fact is: we need to bow to an authority higher than ourselves. If we don’t we claim that we are the highest authority. And that is a recipe for disaster. We need to be willing to submit to things (and here’s the painful part) that we might not even fully agree with. Because if we’re not, then we’re just claiming that we’re the gods. If we don’t bow to authority, we’re sort of just following Youism but under the guise of a church.

I don’t know if this is a regional thing or not. Maybe it’s a common idiom? But when I was a kid… if I looked like I was doing a lot of busy work but not getting a lot done, my dad would say, I was “running around like a chicken with its head chopped off.” He makes a good point. Bodies don’t do particularly well with the head removed. Paul says that Christ is the head of the church and that all authority rests in Him. If we can’t bow to His authority, even when we don’t like it, then we aren’t the church.

The things is… Heads don’t accomplish that much when separated from the extremities either. We are not the head. We are not our own authority. We don’t get to determine our own morality or our own mission. We must submit to His. But… we are still very precious. We are the “called out ones”. We are the church. And we are Christ’s body on earth.

And we have a job to do. Lots of jobs actually.

Psalm 72 says “The glory of God fills the whole earth”. Here we as Christ’s body and Christ’s ambassadors are told that we are “called out” because we are intended to be Christ to this world, and all creation, in every way. Paul writes that “we are the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way”. What an amazing statement that is. I am going to read that again. “[W]e are the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way”. We are supposed to be so much like Him that we can stand in for him. And with one billion of us standing in just about every corner the world, just think of what we can accomplish if we really put our minds to His mission.

Has anyone here ever been to the Alamo?

On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: “James Butler Bonham – no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family so that people may know the appearance of James – a man who died for freedom.”

I love that! I love that!

No real portrait of Jesus exists either. But the world doesn’t need one. It has you.

People of Dayspring, I have heard about your faith.

And how you Love God’s people everywhere.

And I can’t stop thanking God for you.

Always I remember you in my prayers.

Asking God to make His Wisdom even more known.

Because I want you to understand even better the hope God calls you into,

  • to know the glorious inheritance, He has for you,
  • to know the Power of God available to you in prayer
  • to understand that the power of resurrection is in your hands.
  • to understand that Christ is the highest authority.
  • that all things are under Him
  • that Christ is the object of your worship.
  • but is also the leader your worship.
  • that Christ is the only true head of this church.
  • and that together you are the body of Christ.
  • able to do all things as his ambassadors in the world.

This week, call Him Lord, and go be a portrait of Christ, called out into the world, to your friends, your family, your city, and to every stranger you may ever meet. Amen

Song: Sometimes a healing word (768)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully to the continuing ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

God of the generations in time and eternity, we turn to you in these quiet moments

to offer you our thanks and our hopes for our lives.

This morning we give you thanks for all those people who have shown us your face and taught us to follow you through the loving example of their living faith.

We are grateful for their wisdom and courage which continue to inspire us.

Thank you for our life together in your church and the saints we’ve known here.

May the light of Christ shine through our lives, too, so that we offer light for the world you love as witnesses to your purposes.

Christ of Compassion in action, in you, we receive our call to live with purpose.

From you, we learn how to love those around us.

With you, we find strength to face each new day.

So today we offer our prayers for those facing challenges these days

and seek your guidance to respond to their cries.

We pray for those brought to mind by news headlines this week, for situations of violence and deprivation, danger and devastation……

Keep a brief silence.

We pray for families going through difficult times, for all who are sick or in sorrow, for all who are lonely or despairing…

Keep a brief silence.

We pray for those agonizing over important decisions and responsibilities, for those in leadership roles and for those who care for the most vulnerable…

Keep a brief silence.

Spirit of healing and hope, this Sunday, we pray for the work of healing and reconciliation in Canada, between indigenous people and those who have settled in this land.

Heal lives limited by misunderstanding, and bring hope for just resolutions to problems of long-standing.

Embrace those indigenous families who have lost someone in years past and honour their tears in gentleness.

Increase in us all the spring of generosity we need to create communities of dignity and mutual respect wherever we live on this land we call home.

Creator, Christ and Spirit, move with us into the week ahead.

Remind us each day to live according to your will and purpose in all our relationships for we want to bear witness to the love we have in you. Amen.

Song: O for a world where everyone (730)

Sending out with God’s blessing: The Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His Face toward you and give you peace.

Response: The Blessing

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

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material 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 as soon as possible upon notification being received.


Posted in Recent Sermons.