Worship on the Lord’s Day
Third Sunday of Easter 10:00 am 23 April 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia Vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
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: We have come from many places, following different roads.
P: We come hungering for greater understanding.
L: We have come to hear the wisdom of Scripture.
P: We come seeking companions in the faith.
L: We have come to discover the One revealed in the breaking of the bread.
P: We come to grow as disciples of Christ.
L: Come, let us worship God, made known in Christ Jesus.
Opening praise: 10,000 reasons (Bless the Lord, O my soul)
Prayers of approach and confession
God is gracious and merciful and knows our needs even before they reach our lips. Still, we engage in confession, admitting to God all that rests uneasily in our hearts. Confident of God’s love, let us make our confession, first in silent prayers.
Lord, help us. Help us to lean on you and each other when things get hard and when we get depressed. Remind us every day that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Encourage our hearts, and help us to be your people, to the best of our ability in these strange days.
Sometimes, O God, we forget people, or we toss them aside – the difficult ones, the needy ones, the ones that are hard to spend time with, the ones who confront us. And sometimes when we do things like that, it’s not really about the other people, but about us. We are uncomfortable, or we feel guilty, or we follow brighter, shinier people, or we worry about what will make us look good. We are in such desperate need of your forgiveness. We need to be forgiven for our sin, for our mistakes, for mistaking what the world values with what you value. Help us to be better, and to see more clearly, and to care more thoroughly.
You call us to a reconciled life, to healed relationships, to a wholeness with each other and with You.
Mend us, we pray, and make us new creations through the power and love of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Response: I waited, I waited on you Lord
Assurance of God’s love
If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31b-32
[T]here is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. Romans 8:1-3a
We listen for the voice of God
Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)
Good morning. Good morning at home. Well, normally I have a little story and a Bible lesson to give you today is a little bit different.
I want to talk just for a second about the fidgets.
Any time there are fidgets or kids in any place, and it’s not always kids that use fidgets and things.
But any time it’s kids, kids do make a little bit of noise.
(We just lost 2 of the kids. In fact, they’re grabbing some noise makers now. Kids make noise. But this is actually a wonderful, beautiful thing.)
I know we all want moments of silence, and we all want some reverence, and we all want respect and good behavior.
But when kids are laughing or singing, or chatting, or talking in the middle of a service, even when it’s a little disruptive, it’s still a beautiful thing.
It’s a sign of growth and if we didn’t have that it would be a sad place.
There is something I want to talk to you about, though.
You see, even though we’re okay with kids making some noise (we’re okay with, anybody making a little bit of noise), lot of people in the congregation have hearing-aids and the hearing aids help them to hear
But the hearing aids generally don’t work very well at picking up 2 sounds from 2 different locations. So, a lot of the time, if you hear noise, and you have a hearing-aid, you only hear the noise and not the the thing that is actually happening at tha moment.
So here’s my proposal.
We’re all friends. We’re going to be good friends and if you have to make a little bit of noise every once everybody here is going to be okay with it, because it’s a wonderful sign of praise.
And, at the same time, when we’re in the service and we’re doing some things and you make a little noise, everybody’s going to be OK with it. But you’re also going to to try and be a little quiet. jjust because you know that some people can’t hear very well, and someday you’re going to have a hearing aid, too.
Now! We’re going to say a little prayer, and then for just a couple of minutes I’m going to introduce you to a new friend. Since you were being good friends for everyone and everybody is being good friends for you so we’re going to say a little prayer, then we’re going to meet a friend.
God, we pray for understanding. We pray that as a unity that grows together, we would be understanding, that we would be loving and caring respectful for each other and understand that different people need different ways of learning and listening.
The Lord’s Prayer (535)
Meeting Brad’s friend (a ferret)
Now we’ll meet my little friend, okay.
We’re just going to say “Hi,” then we’re going to put him away, and he might go back to the Sunday school room.
This is a Mr. Cho. Come on over and pet him. …
You guys remember we’re all going to be good friends.
We’re all going to respect each other.
Okay, have a good time of Sunday school.
Song: Joyful, Joyful, we adore You (410)
Scripture readings: Matthew 22:1-4 and Luke 14:15-23
Response: Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the Risen Lord
Sitting in a kindergarten class in Westside Baptist church in Hutchinson Kansas a young boy gives the teacher a puzzled look. His hand reluctantly rises up into the air and he asks a simple but important question. “Teacher, why does Jesus tell so many stories?” The teacher looks pleased as she looks up from her felt board filled with tiny bible characters. She smiles and says, “Because stories are easy for everyone to understand.” She was a sweet person and I’m sure I learned a lot from her. But sadly my Sunday school teacher was wrong.
In Ps 78:2 the palmist writes, “I will open my mouth in a parable’ I will utter dark sayings from of old.” (NRSV) In the Young literal translation it says, “I will speak in similes” and in the Darby and NASB it says, “Open my mouth in a riddle.” https://ebible.org/pdf/engDBY/
The question of why Jesus spoke in parables is not a new one. It’s seems I was in good company. In fact even the disciples asked Jesus that very same thing. His response can be found in Matt. 13:10-13. “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
He says, I speak in parables (not because it’s easy to understand) but because it’s confusing.
There is a well-known story from Robert J. Wicks book Riding the Dragon. (I’ve edited out the swear-word.) It reads, “I once heard of a priest who spent part of each night making sandwiches for the homeless. He would travel around the poorer areas of the city and distribute them. Even though his days were full, each night he bought three bags of bread, a jar of penult butter and a jar of jelly and then go to work. He didn’t do it out of guilt or duty; he just shared freely because of his faith.
On day the local media found out about the priest and his sandwiches and did a story about him in the local paper. The priest became an instant celebrity. The public friends and even fellow priest started sending him money to support the ministry. But each dollar, each check the priest returned. Inside each returned envelope came a small piece of paper with something scribble on it… they read, “Make your own … sandwiches.””
In my view one of the most important words you will find in the Bible is the word “disciple”. See, when Jesus asks people to follow him, he wants them to be a disciple (or pupil). He wants them to be seeking after God. He wants them to be thinking, intelligent, questioning people. He doesn’t just give simple answers. When people came up to him and asked for the keys to the kingdom, he told them something… but not something so simple that they could just take and go home (forgetting they had ever met). Instead, he tells them something that keeps them asking, keeps them learning… keeps them in conversation with God; keeps them seeking. As Lao-Tzu said, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Jesus doesn’t want people seeking easy answers, who want to go it alone. He wants people to make their own sandwiches. He wants disciples.
The parable of the Wedding banquet is particularly difficult. To say the least it is uncomfortable. The parable as Luke tells it ends with people eating a feast, but in Matthews’s hands this already uncomfortable parable ends with a seemingly innocent man being cast out of the kingdom. Stranger yet he is cast out for not wearing proper wedding clothes… as if he should have been standing out on the street corner waiting in a tuxedo just in case the King decides to invite commoner-guests in from off the street.
Over the years, many people have tried to understand this parable in many different ways. St. Augustine actually came up with the idea that perhaps the king had given all the guests wedding clothes before dinner and this man refused to wear them. But this is highly disputed (right or wrong) and most scholars reject this idea. Many others have pointed out that Jesus might be casting out those guests who do not know the King’s son, but again there seems to be debate. Others still have pointed to descriptions of the wedding banquet in Revelations 19:7-9 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) In my mind this is the most likely interpretation but again, just because I like it, that doesn’t mean the issue is settled. To further complicate the issue there are at least 4 different audiences being addressed here and each group would hear the parable differently.
You see on the Tuesday before his execution Jesus was found teaching in the Temple to a crowd of followers when he was confronted by the Chief Priest and Elders. So when Jesus tells this story there are already two distinct groups of listeners (the followers of Jesus and the Religious Leaders who didn’t like him). Both groups would have heard the parable differently.
Beyond that we find this parable recorded in the book of Matthew (written some 20-40 years after the event occurred). His audience is completely different from the original listeners Jesus was talking to.
And lastly there are those of us reading this parable nearly 2,000 years later. So what does this parable mean to us?
For the Chief Priests and Elders the story was an insult. It said that Jesus was defending the crowd (the good and the bad alike are invited… both the clean and the unclean). This was heresy. It said the Kingdom of God is open not just for the Pious Elite but also for the lowly who worked in the street corner markets surrounded by foreigners and traders (people who came in contact with gentiles). It said the Kingdom isn’t for the Priests to handout or withhold but Gods.
For the crowd that followed Jesus into the temple, they would have seen the Pharisees as the murders who killed prophets like John the Baptist and let Rome walk all over them. They would have seen themselves as being included in the banquet. For them the story solidified Jesus and John as ushering in a new messianic age of Heaven of Earth. The story spat in the eyes of the pious and arrogant; it called down judgment on the Jewish Religious Leaders who had bowed down to Roman Rule and ignored the true King of Israel.
For Matthew’s audience the parable might have been seen as predictive. Those who had rejected Jesus were his listeners. He wrote to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah. At a time when Jesus had been killed, the city taken and the Temple burnt to the ground the actions of the Kings servants might hold special meaning. For them the second group of Jews invited to the banquet meant that Jesus some 20-40 years past was actually talking to them.
And this brings us to today. What does this parable mean for you and I? What does it mean for us? We are not Jews. We were not born into the “chosen race”? And what do are the wedding clothes that we must have? What does that mean to us?
Well I’d like to tell you; I’d like to give you the easy answer but I’d much rather do just what Jesus did. I’d rather send you home with a fishing pole rather than a fish. I’d rather let you use your God-given intellect. I’d rather see us keep asking, keep learning, keep the conversation going. I’d rather send home Disciples of Christ… so go make your own sandwiches.
Song: Lord Jesus, You shall be my song (665)
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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.
Prayer for others and ourselves
Prayers for Persecuted Christians
We pray for those suffering because of their Christian faith; that the Holy Spirit will guide and protect them and nurture courage and faith, giving them the grace to forgive those who persecute them. We pray also for those who follow your Son in bearing their cross, that they may, in every trial, glory in the name of Christ.
For Christians living in …, that they may be given courage, hope, and perseverance.
Prayer for Christians Fleeing Persecution
For our sisters and brothers who, like your Son our lord, had to flee persecution from dangerous political powers, we pray for safety, strength and guidance. Let those who flee persecution and war in [name of place] find safety and protection, and the ability to rebuild their lives in dignity and contentment.
Prayer for Those Assisting Refugees
For those who provide assistance to refugees and people suffering persecution and violence, we pray that they may be safe and see the face of Christ in the most vulnerable people in your world. We pray also for guidance for those who help refugees. We recognize that people who have experienced trauma often have pressing physical and mental health needs. We pray that those assisting refugees and people suffering persecution and violence find the necessary resources to help address and care for the trauma that the people they help have faced.
Prayer for Those Who are Persecutors
We pray for those who persecute Christians and other religious minorities, that Love and mercy will illuminate their hearts, that they will come to see the common humanity of all peoples, and that they will cease committing acts of hatred.
Prayer for World Leaders
We pray for government leaders around the world, that they may recognize the grave responsibility that comes with power, and form and keep just laws that protect the persecuted and work for an end to violence and war. We pray also recognizing we have at times limited the religious freedom of others and have failed to protect others from religious persecution.
Song: One more step along the world vss. 1,3, 4, 5 (641)
Sending out with God’s blessing
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.—Romans 16:25–27
Response: Go forth into the world
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 immediately upon notification being received.