Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am 28 January 2024
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia Vocalist: Linda F-B
Elder: Gina Kottke
We gather to worship God
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: God’s praise endures forever, and eternity meets us in fleeting moments.
P: God’s praise endures forever, and glory bursts into ordinary activities.
L: God’s praise endures forever, and faith is steadfast in the midst of change and challenge.
P: Let us worship the Eternal God who calls us to this time and place.
Opening praise: Forever God is faithful
Prayers of approach and confession
Loving God, you are the wisdom behind all mystery, the glory hidden in all that makes us wonder, the strength in all that nourishes.
With eyes open and spirits alert, we experience your glory around us.
Scattered throughout the earth, smoldering deep inside us and radiating in acts of love, sparks of your glory reside.
We feel joy each time we encounter you.
So, we gather to express our praise and gratitude for all the good we have experienced, knowing it all comes from your hand, for you are Creator, Christ and Spirit, Ever Three and Ever One.
Gracious God, we confess there are many times we forget you.
We focus on what troubles us and ignore the help you offer.
We seek wisdom and meaning in the wrong places.
In thoughtless moments, we harm the earth and each another.
Remind us to live each day focused on your purposes revealed in Christ who loves us. Amen.
Response: We come to ask your Forgiveness, O Lord
Assurance of God’s grace: Hear the good news: Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone. New life has begun. Thanks be to God that we can make a new start, forgiven and set free.
Music Offering: Pie Jesus (Binu & Linda)
We listen for the voice of God
Response: Jesus, we are gathered (514)
Story: Is it True or False
- A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will embed itself in the pavement. (F)
- The bubbles in bubble wrap contain a toxic gas. (F)
- You can send a coconut through the mail without wrapping it. (T)
- If the entire population of all of China jumped up and down at the same time, the Earth’s orbit would be disturbed. (F)
- Welding while wearing contact lenses will cause the lenses to stick to your eyeballs, semi permanently. (F)
- Unless marked “dairy,” all fast-food shakes are not made of milk but contain a cardarine gel. (T)
- Albert Einstein did badly in math. F)
- A woman adopted a tiny dog in Tijuana, Mexico later to discover it was a very large sewer rat, true or false. (F)
- Some Oregon highway workers blew up a whale and showered the town with whale blubber in order to get rid of it. (T)
- A mime, my once had a heart attack in France in the middle of his act. The audience thought it was a part of the act did nothing and the mime died. (F)
- Bubble gum is made with spider eggs. (F)
- You can tell if a big operation is underway at the White House by the number of pizza deliveries there are. (F)
- Twice in the state of Kansas in the last 200 years it has rained small frogs. (According to the Harvard professor who wrote Do Fish Drink Water? and the Library of Congress in the US, what happens is that small tornadoes can pick up small ponds. They can move them to a certain level of the atmosphere. Larger winds can then pick them up and carry them a distance. So, they’ll carry these light little tadpoles or small frogs for 100 miles and then drop them and all of a sudden it looks like it’s raining frogs.) (T)
Truth: “The word of the LORD is perfect, reviving our souls.” (Psalm 19:7)
The testimony of the Lord is sure and it is trustworthy. We get confused a lot of the times and we may not even always understand what’s in the Bible or read it correctly. But I dare you to say otherwise. It is trustworthy and true. And it will keep you on a good path all through life.
Is that True or False? … It’s True.
Prayer: Help us accept the Truth and reject lies and give us the ability to know the difference.
The Lord’s Prayer (535)
Song: To show by touch and word (763)
Scripture reading: Mark 1:21-28 and Mark 1:40-45
Response: Jesus, remember me
Message: Princess Alice
Princess Alice (Alice Maud Mary – the second daughter of Queen Victoria) was born on April 25th, 1843. Considering her family, of course, it would be silly to assume that she had a normal childhood, but from the stories that have survived of her, she is often described as being the kindest and most sensitive of all the children in the family. By 19, little Alice had grown up and married Prince Louis. After leaving Buckingham Palace, the two took up residence in Hesse and started their own family. The couple had seven children. Alice was happy, but her compassionate nature led her down a new path beyond homemaking, and by her 33rd birthday, she had become exceedingly concerned about the nursing conditions of wounded soldiers.
Seeking to make a difference in people’s lives, Alice founded The Women’s Union to train nurses to care for the needs of injured soldiers. But one year later, tragedy struck. Alice’s husband, Prince Louis, and all but one of their seven children fell ill with Black Diphtheria. In only a few days, the deadly disease tightened its grip on the life of the youngest child, Marie. Diphtheria closed her throat (literally taking her breath away). The tiny girl died. For a time, Alice attempted to keep Marie’s death a secret from the other sick children. But after much questioning from the youngest boy, Ernest, Alice eventually broke down and told her son that his sister had died from the very same illness that had struck his father, himself and all but one of his sisters.
Being a nurse herself, Alice knew full well the massive rate of infection caused by diphtheria. But at a time when many communities lost up to 80% of their children from the disease, the tears of her son compelled her to cast off all sense of self-concern. When young Earnest cried out to his mother for a hug, Alice grasped the boy tightly, kissing his cheerless face until his cries subsided.
No amount of knowledge, no amount of doctors and no amount of warnings would keep her from her child in need. The boy needed to feel his mother’s gentle touch, and Alice had to touch him.
Three days later, on December 14th, 1878, the 35-year-old princess died. Earnest, as well as all of the other children except for Marie, survived. It was later recorded that Alice never regretted reaching out to touch her son. How could she have done any different?
In reading our Bibles, we sometimes forget that they had many writers and compilers and that they span a huge amount of time and locations. Often, we think rather naively as we read it (and take for granted that it is plain and simple). While a word may appear 50 times in the bible, the meaning of that word might be slightly different in each occurrence. Our language (just as the language used in the bible) always evolves with our culture and understanding.
Simply because Moses is said to have contracted leprosy around 1,400 BC, this does not mean that this is the same thing that the 10 lepers in Luke are said to have. In reality, the word leprosy in the bible meant very different things at very different times as people slowly began to see other types of skin diseases and determine which were serious and which were not. As such, the word “leprosy” in the bible can include a massive variety of skin and flesh diseases (including everything from ringworm to what modern science defines to be Hanson’s disease – the deadly form of leprosy we know today).
By the time of Jesus, however, many commentators believed that the word “leprosy” was used only in the most serious of conditions. Doctors had long since discovered the signs of more critical cases. The catholic encyclopedia tells us that leprosy (in the case of today’s reading) would most likely be “any case whereby the exposure of raw flesh spread through the body.” In other words, this is a terrible affliction. While we cannot give an exact concrete and modern medical diagnosis to the individual in Marks’s gospel, we can assume that it is horrific in nature and similar, if not precisely, to what we think of as modern leprosy.
Leprosy is a nervous system disease that causes its victim to lose all sense of touch and pain; initially, this is the case in only the fingers and toes, but then it spreads up the arms and legs. Without a sense of touch, a person eventually damages his toes, fingers, and feet. When I stub my toe, I jump back in pain, preventing further damage, but when someone with leprosy stubs their toe, they continue with full force, unaware that they have broken it or worse. If a person sawing a board cuts her hand only slightly, she will stop, but a person with leprosy will not notice until she has dismembered himself. She will knock body parts off accidentally, cut them, get infections — and not notice.
Dr Paul Brand, a Christian missionary who conducted some of the most influential research on the disease, relates his investigation of why lepers in his colony in India were missing so many fingers and toes. There were isolated incidents of these digits being knocked off or lost — but many seemed to lose them at night with no explanation for what had happened. When one of his attendants volunteered to stay up all night to observe this mystery, he found that rats were chewing off fingers and toes while the victims slept. They did not wake up; they did not feel anything.
As leprosy spreads, many lepers go blind — not because of the disease itself, but because, without feeling in their eyes, the body loses even its uncontrolled responses like blinking and finally breathing. So, as leprosy advances, the leper begins to look less and less human. No fingers. No toes. Face disappearing. Isolated from others, no one wants to draw near; no one would come even close. It is perhaps the loneliest existence a human being can suffer.
The Old Testament law required a kind of quarantine to protect the people from catching the disease. It demanded that a leprous person stay away from the temple, from the public and even from the city’s outer gate (with only a few exceptions). Leprosy causes the person to live outside the camp to be cut off from the congregation. Many times, the person would not only be evicted from their church, family and home but would have their house burned to the ground as well (in a time where no one understood just exactly how the disease spread, this was deemed the safest course of action).
Lepers could approach no one, touch no one, could barely speak with anyone but fellow lepers. By the start of the first century, some rabbis even taught that leprosy was a curse from God for heresy and said that even the shadow of a leper could make a person unclean and unfit to worship with the congregation. They were outcasts and vagrants. Between this man in Mark and the rest of the world was a six-foot chasm of contaminated space across which no person would pass. He would have no job, home, family, money, or food – no place to buy food and no friends. While his body was wasted away, he would beg for scraps at a distance, which people might throw at him or roll to him on the filthy ground. Even the most straightforward task, such as drinking water, would be challenging.
And so begins the story of the leper from our reading today. It is only a few sentences long, but it is powerful. Isolated and alone, dying and rejected by his people, this unnamed man defies all social order as he storms into the presence of Christ. No doubt, sending the crowd running in fear, casting off all doubt and rejection, this lonely and disfigured cast away came to Jesus.
No longer would he be looked down on, pitied, belittled, or talked down to. No longer would he be rejected and alone. And as he appears before Christ, he falls to his knees. And the first words to come upon his lips, the first words he can bear to speak, are not “Why me?”; they are not even “Can you heal me?”; … they are “If you are willing.”
Interestingly, this leper/this man never strayed… he didn’t burst onto the scene because he was unsure of Christ’s ability or who Jesus was. Instead, he emerges in humility and shame. And as he looks to the Christ he had heard of in anticipation, he says one critical and compelling word…“if.” Feeling the judging eyes all around him, the gazing eyes of the world upon him and seeing himself with the same loathing the world has taught him to feel (his self-worth in bankruptcy), he begs and cries out, “IF you choose to, make me clean.”
And that is when Jesus does something interesting, something unheard of, unfathomable. I look down at a man who is literally falling apart, begging on his knees. He does what no one in the world would ever do. Verse 41 says he reached out his hand and “touched” him. Like Princess Alice, Jesus saw a child needing the most simplest form of care. No amount of knowledge, no amount of doctors and no amount of warnings or laws would keep him from this child in need. The man wanted to be clean, yes, but more than that, he needed to be treated like a human being.
When Angus Darcy first began his famous mission to street people in Inner-City Detroit, he heard a loud commotion as he walked along the wall handing out sandwiches. An intoxicated man, it seems, had intentionally broken a jar of mustard over his head, leaving him bleeding and covered in yellow. When Angus asked the man what he was doing, he screamed, “You walk around here acting as you care about us, but in six weeks, you haven’t once looked me in the eye, and you dropped that food in our hands as quickly as possible like you’re trying to keep our stink off of you… I can get food anywhere… I came here to get dignity”. Fifteen years later, both Angus and his now fully sober Director of Missions hand out sandwiches together each day, pausing to look each person in the eye and gently placing the food in their hands, utterly unafraid of touch.
May you reach out your hand to others as He has reached out and touched your lives. Amen.
Song: Jesu, Jesu, fill is with your love (229)
We respond to serve God: Our time of giving
Reflection on giving: Dayspring is empowered to carry out our mission of worship, service, and care by generously given volunteer time, talent, and treasure. Many thanks to all who give so generously!
Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
Holy God, Lord of heaven and earth,
Your energy fills the cosmos and enlivens every cell of our bodies.
You are around us, within us, and beyond us.
Thank you for the simple pleasures of each day,
and for the strength to meet the challenges that arise.
When it feels like we have come to the end of our own resources,
replenish us with the energy of your Spirit
so that we know you are there for us.
In these uncertain times,
we are grateful for prayer in its many forms
which lead us to communion with you –
through word and silence, music, and movement,
feeling the Spirit’s breath within us.
Draw close to us whenever we need you,
and renew our spirits to continue serving you as best we can.
Hear us now as we pray for the earth, this precious, fragile home to all living things:
For declining species of plant and animal life;
For the earth’s climate and places with too much or too little water;
For the oceans and rainforests, the skies and the air we breathe.
Teach us how to be more faithful stewards of your earth and live more respectfully in your creation.
Hear us as we pray for the economy:
For those whose decisions shape it;
For employers and business owners;
For workers and those who cannot find work’
For all who seek economic justice, fairness and the common good,
and those who struggle to discern what this means in a complex world.
Teach us how to care for our neighbours in these days of economic uncertainty.
We pray for our own circle of family and friends.
Heal, bless, lead and encourage them.
We pray for neighbours and strangers in our community
who face struggles and sorrows we can’t even imagine.
Remind us that we belong to each other and to you and help us respond to one another with compassion and kindness.
Finally, in silence, we bring to you the cares and hopes on our minds today. [Silence]
Thank you for hearing the prayers of every heart. Amen.
Song: To God be the glory (350)
Sending out with God’s blessing
The season of Epiphany celebrates God’s light breaking into the world in Christ Jesus, and so:
May the light of the Father lead you,
the light of Christ embrace you,
and the light of the Holy Spirit enliven you
So that you know both peace and hope
this day and all eternity.
Response: God to enfold you
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 (© 2024) 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 immediately upon notification being received.