Rejoice always!

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Harvest Sunday @ 10:00 am, 09 October 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
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

Call to Worship
L: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
P: We will worship the LORD with gladness and come into God’s presence with song.
L: Know that it is the LORD God who made us, and we are God’s people.
P: We will enter God’s gates with praise and thanksgiving.
L: Let us give thanks to God this day and bless God’s holy name.

Opening praise: In Christ alone

Prayers of Thanksgiving

Gracious God, you are the creator and source of all things. In your goodness and love you have provided for our needs and with hearts full of gratitude we give you thanks.

For your grace and mercy, your love and patience we give you thanks. For our family and our health, we give you thanks.

Eternal God, in your magnificent generosity your shared your son with us. Through him we learn more about you and your purpose for our lives. Thank you for allowing us to live in your peace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Response: Glory, Glory, Halelujah

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Instrumental Transition: Rejoice in the Lord always

Story: The Angry Boy

A boy went around his village shouting at everyone, “I hate you.”

He eventually came to a cliff outside the village and there he shouted out over the valley below, “I hate you/ I hate you.”

The echo came back. “I hate you. I hate you.”

This really hurt the boy and he lay crumpled on the ground until his mother came along.

Sizing up the situation she shouted, “I Love you. I love you.”

The echo came back. “I love you. I love you.”

The boy got the message and never again did he tell someone, “I hate you.”

God tells us that God loves us. And it is still echoing around the world.

That’s cause for rejoicing!

Song: Rejoice in the Lord always

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 100; John 6:25-35; Philippians 4:4-9 (NT:NRSV)

Transition Music: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “Rejoice always”

Norma, featured in the 1998 documentary Hands on a Hardy Body, nearly won a new truck in a radio contest, simply by standing next to it and keeping one hand on it at all times.

Twenty two other contestants did the same and placed a hand on the (then new) 1995 Nissan pickup hoping to be the last one standing with one hand on the truck. Norma spent the majority of the contest wearing headphones and blasting gospel music in her ears and occasionally shouting out “Praise Jesus” as her head nodded and the long hours past.

Amazingly, Norma seemed to be the only contestant to show no signs what so ever of wear. She didn’t even look tired. In the end; after more than 72 hours with a hand on that truck it came down to just Norma and one other very tired looking man. Norma with eyes closed and head bobbing along to the tune in her ear and finding its words so moving she once again screamed “Praise Jesus” and began to applaud. The other guy got the truck.

Somewhere around the year 58 AD the apostle Paul is falsely accused of bringing Christians into the inner sections of the Jewish Temple. As a result he is ill-treated bound and chained. He is presumably beaten once again and is lead in shackles to the fortress in Antonia. After refusing to buy his way out of imprisonment Paul seeks to plead his case as all Roman citizens are allowed to do.

During a time of transition, he waits nearly two years until the arrival of new governor Festus who will send him to court. Although not our custom prison at the time of Paul was not the punishment itself but rather where you waited before the decided how to punish you.

After an appeal to Caesar, Paul waits for his trail which can now only take place in Rome. As a captive under the centurion guard he beings a long journey. He is placed aboard a shipping vessel and begins the difficult voyage skirting the coast of Syria. He is transferred, in Myra, to an Alexandrian vessel bound for Italy… but winds take them off course; the ship drifts aimlessly for 14 days; finally being ship wrecked off the coast of Malta.

After suffering numerous difficulties and another 3 months in what we are told has been “dangerous and difficult times” he finally reaches Rome some time in March. There, he is to remain awaiting his chance to defend himself (the cost of which is now far more than the bribe price would have been to free him.

As is customary, Paul himself must pay for his own imprisonment. If he wishes to be fed, he must find someone to feed him). The government does not care for prisoners needs; they must instead be supported. This is part of why the Bible repeatedly tells us to “visit those in prison”. Prisoners without friends, close relatives or money die but Paul, it seems, is quite well cared for.

For two years he waits in prison under house arrest. He is allowed certain privileges but he is non-the-less a prisoner of the state. It is during this time that Paul writes what can only be called a “love letter” not to a woman but to the church he began in the city of Philippi (in what is now northern Greece). It is the letter to the Philippians read this morning.

After facing angry crowds, “snares of his enemies”, numerous trials and tribulations and while still imprisoned, Paul tells his most favored church quiet plainly, “Rejoice!” “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

It’s interesting to picture – a prisoner writing about Joy – but that is exactly what we have here. For those of you that opened the bibles to read along with today’s reader you might have noticed that Paul’s letter is easily lost in the vastness of the bible. It is really only about 3 pages long. But in this small space the word “Rejoicing” or “Joy” appears 16 times. Philippians is a book of joy.

Paul loves this congregation. This letter is particularly personal in nature. He repeatedly uses words like “my brothers (or My Family)”. Paul who is apparently a big fan of wrestling next says, you are “my crown,” meaning that they represent his greatest achievement; something similar to winning the victor’s crown in the Olympic Games.

When Paul does give them guidance he does so by pointing to the benefits of right behavior. Instead of orders, the Apostle Paul says “I beg you,” and “I ask now”. When he speaks fondly of the church from his place of confinement he says, I feel as if you are “with me.” He says, “I long to return to you”. He calls them “agapatos” or “dearly loved”. “[A]gapatos” is a word found outside the bible in ancient love letters and poems.

At this time, he has heard that his beloved church may soon face persecution; that things are about to get very hard for them. And so when Paul writes to the Philippians about worries, it’s not about his own discomfort but rather theirs.  He wants them to keep the faith; to not lose sight of their real source of Joy. It’s easy after all to have joy when things are going smoothly, but it takes real faith to have joy when they’re not! And in all that they face he wants them to be grounded in their faith in Christ and devoted in prayer.

Getting on a plane in Calgary a young man checking his baggage advised the attendant, “Please send this bag to Vancouver, this one to Toronto and I’d like the third one to come with me to Hamilton”. Sir, said the attendant “We can’t do that”. “Why not” the young man said, “you did it last time.” Things rarely turn out as planned.

Though Paul had hoped to be with his beloved church sharing the good news…. that was not to be. Still, from prison Paul reaches out to his beloved church in Philippi and disregards his own hardships to focus solely upon his crown. Though it may be that Paul will die awaiting trial his focus is on his people. And what is the message from prison that Paul wishes most of all for his friends to hear? … Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice!”

What a strange tune to sing from prison! In fact, the strangeness is so odd it bears repeating. Paul (the churches leader – from prison) says (to a group of people he dearly loves; a group of people about to face terrible persecution) “Rejoice in the Lord Always. Again I say rejoice!”

But how can Paul expect the people to be joyful? How could Paul himself have possibly been joyful?

There is a story about a man (definitely not me by the way) whose wife was not particularly good with the laundry. He went out one day and bought a nice new pair of pants, and then quite pleased with himself he went home right away and washed them and put them away before his wife got a chance to shrink them in the wash. But when he woke up the next morning his wife was standing over him holding the pants. She said, “I saw you got a new pair of pants so I thought I’d iron them for you”. Then sheepishly she slowly raised the pants into view and revealed a huge iron shaped burn mark on one leg.

At first the husband was furious but then he stopped to think of the big picture. He took a deep breath and said a prayer “Lord” he said, “Thank you. Thank you that I have a loving wife that wants me to look nice. Oh… and thanks that my leg was no in those pants when she burned ‘em!”

How can Paul expect the people to be joyful? How could Paul himself have possibly been joyful? Because he took a step back, took a breath and remembered the big picture. He remembered that joy doesn’t come from the world outside. He remembered that his true source of Joy was Christ. For the Apostle the answer is simple. He says rejoice in the Lord.

It’s because he has joy that comes from outside this world. Because of that, his joy is not extinguished just because bad things happen.

And they happen to all of us.

The idea that only good things happen to good people, is nonsense. That idea was put to death on the cross, because if only good things happen to good people, explain to me why Jesus got nailed to a tree.

Bad things do happen to good people.

When Paul speaks of worries he does not speak of imaginary troubles or fathom anxieties. He does not seek to trivialize our troubles he knows that things rarely go according to plan. But when he peers out at us from his place in prison he reminds us all to keep the big picture in mind. He reminds us all “my beloved, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.

Back in Texas Norma has lost that Nissan Truck. But in an interview shortly after she said it didn’t really matter. “I still got my Jesus”! “Praise Jesus!” she said…A

And she was right.

Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say “Rejoice!” Amen

Song: Holy, Holy, Holy (299)

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, you can come forward and place them in the offering plates at the front of the sanctuary. You can also bring forward the gifts of food for the Food Bank and place them in front of the Communion Table.

Prayer of Gratitude and for Others and Ourselves

On Harvest Sunday, we celebrate the gifts of God’s good earth which sustain us, as well as the labour of those who grow, harvest and prepare these gifts so we can thrive. Today let us share our own gifts with you, offered so that the ministry and mission of Christ’s church can thrive.

Gracious and generous God, we offer our gifts in gratitude for all we receive from your hand. Bless and multiply them, just as Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fishes to bless others. Use them so others can taste your love in our community and in your world, through the grace of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Generous God, on this Harvest weekend, we thank you for all things great and small, for moments of wonder and for ordinary exchanges which fill our lives with meaning and offer us a sense of wellbeing.

May our friends see in us the signs of a grateful heart.

God of all goodness,

Receive our prayers.

Generous God, as we give thanks for the harvests of the earth and all the goodness that sustains us, we pray that you will show us how to live respectfully in creation

and protect all that is precious to you.

Wherever harvests have been disappointing show us how to share what has been produced so that no one goes hungry.

God of all goodness,

Receive our prayers.

Generous God, we pray for the good of your world and the common good in our community.

Where there is strife and hostility between peoples and nations, inspire leaders to show wisdom and courage in their decision making.

We pray for people and places hard hit by flood or fire, tornado or hurricane,

epidemic or earthquake

(a moment of silence)

May neighbours with resources maintain generosity and compassion for the long work of reconstructing lives and livelihoods.

God of all goodness,

Receive our prayers.

Generous God, we pray for our neighbours and those of our number

who are facing health challenges or difficult times for any reason…

(moment of silence)

And we pray for family and friends under stress or in sorrow whom we name in silence before you……..

(moment of silence)

Make us generous in compassion and understanding for each one.

God of all goodness,

Receive our prayers.

Generous God, in Jesus Christ we have met your generous love and mercy.

Through our lives and by our prayers, reveal his love and mercy to this generation. Amen.

Song: Song: Jump with joy (406) [(drums: Logan Kapadia-Pfob and Cohen Childs]

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: Amen! We praise your name, O God

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 specifications of Dayspring 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.