Sunday (mixed presence) message: Keep awake and be sober

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth
P: God’s steadfast love endures forever
L:  Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Lord, I lift your name

Lord, I lift Your name on high
Lord, I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad You’re in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us

You came from heaven to earth,
to show the way
From the earth to the cross,
my debt to pay

From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord, I lift Your name on high

Songwriter: Rick Founds © Universal Music Publishing Group
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained
from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: God of all times and places, we gather to worship you.
P: We turn our eyes to you and rejoice in your presence.
L: God of all gifts and blessings, we gather to sing your praise.
P: We turn our eyes to you and marvel at your power and your promise.
L: God of all might and mercy, we gather to learn how to follow your Son.
P: We turn our eyes to you and seek the way you have set before us in Christ.

Prayers of approach and confession

Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

  
We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Song: In the bulb there is a flower    

In the bulb there is a flower;
In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness
Bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning;
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

Words and music: Natalie Sleeth;
© 1986, 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

Scripture reading:

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version) 

1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Response:  His truth is marching on                       

Message: “Keep awake and be sober”

Around the mid-nineties, there was this new wave of Pentecostalism that gained ground within my community. These Pentecostal movements took it as a point of duty to organizing religious crusades on a regular basis within the community with the intention of doing what they referred to as ‘winning souls for Christ.’ One of the things I remember about these crusades was that their messages were all centred around the end time and how the second coming of Christ was at hand. You could hear sermon themes like “where will you spend eternity?” or “Soon and very soon.” Through these messages, their audience was made to understand that the world was soon coming to an end; and as such, they must repent and give their lives to Christ, so as not to suffer eternal condemnation, as they painted dreadful images of hell in the minds of their audience through these messages. In fear, and also, in the quest to make heaven at last, a lot of people joined these movements though till today we are still to witness this great and dramatic end of the world.

One of the greatest worries that have accompanied Christianity throughout the ages has been this great question of ‘the exact timing of the second coming of Christ.’ This has somehow become a silent question that hovers around most believers as they keep looking forward to the return of the Son of man. When we read the gospels, we notice that the disciples confronted Jesus with this same question where in our text, the apostle Paul struggles to give a response to the Thessalonians.

When we read Acts 17:2, we notice that Paul had spent a whole lot of time with these people teaching them the truths about the gospel. Therefore, in his response to this question, he encourages them to keep awake and be sober. He encourages them to be confident in who they are because they are not ignorant of the good news which Christ brought to humanity. That is why he encourages them to arm themselves with the weapons of faith and love and the hope of salvation put in other words; deliverance from sin and its consequences because this was what they had received when they heard and believed the word of God.

This church was committed to the course of the gospel and according to Paul, worrying about the time of Christ’s return should not be a cause for alarm for them because they were already counted among the redeemed (saved) of the Lord; based on the knowledge they had received and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of their lives. Their interest according to the text should therefore be to preserve this great gift of salvation (freedom from sin and its consequences); which they have received in Christ; by not engaging in works of darkness or join those that are sleeping. Put in other words, they must not give up on the good they were doing or entertain any form of laziness in working for God.

Dear Christian friends, like I said before, the question of ‘when Christ will return’ has and still lives with us right up to this moment. At the wake of the COVID 19 global pandemic, we have heard so many preachers around the world predicting the return of the Lord. Fear not dear Christian brothers and sisters, for no one knows the hour or the day when the Lord shall return. Jesus Christ himself when he spoke about the end time said that this hour is not known by anyone but his Father only. Yes, dear friends, this hour and time has not been revealed to humanity but in the same way as a thief comes at night or as labour pains comes upon a pregnant woman; or same as no one knows the hour of their death; so, will this day come to us.

Instead of getting anxious of when this time will or shall be, we are encouraged this day as a community of faith to keep awake. That is, to continue with our devotion to doing that which the Lord has called us to do both as individuals and as a community of faith. We must not be distracted in any way, but in all we must continue to commit our all to the Father, we must continue to labor for our master and not relent or feel tired, keeping up to our good works because it is not yet time for rest. Our faith should keep us standing as we keep trusting the word of the Lord, loving the Lord our God with our whole being and loving our neighbours as ourselves.

We are also encouraged to be sober. We should not be moved by the things happening around us; but be open and let the word of God be the only factor that move us. Fear and anxiety should be swept away because he that the son of man sets free is free indeed. We live in the total freedom of the salvation offered to us through the redeeming death of Christ on the cross.

Just like Christ admonished the apostles, let us continue to watch and pray so that we will not be taken unawares. Yes! Christ the king of glory is coming for sure. It may be now, it may be tomorrow, who knows?

As we await this time of the great triumph, where the death in Christ shall arise and the saints of earth gather; where all our pains and sorrows will be a thing of the past, and our tears completely wiped away; may we continue to celebrate and live in the joy of our redemption by bringing this good news to the ends of the earth.

Two weeks from now, as the songs of advent begin to roll from tongue to tongue, sea to sea, nation to nation, etc.; may it be a moment of celebration for all the redeemed of the Lord as this season reminds us of our freedom in the Lord.  This is the truth of the gospel and hopefully we are all ready to wear our crowns when Christ finally returns.

Keep the faith dear Christian friends, keep awake and be sober for God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through Christ Jesus.

To him alone be the glory.

Amen.

Song: Be thou my vision    

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee
 

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my armour and be thou my might
Thou my souls shelter and thou my high tower,
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor vain earthly praise
Thou mine Inheritance, through all my days
Thou and thou only, the first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, when the battle is done,
grant Heaven’s joy to me, O bright heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Words and music: Irish traditional
Music harmony copyright © 1975, 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

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving

Song: Crown him with many crowns   

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon the throne:
hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died to be
your Saviour and your matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Son of God,
before the worlds began;
let all who tread where he has trod,
crown him the Son of Man,
who every grief has known
that wrings the human breast,
and takes and bears them for his own,
that all in him may rest.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing
who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.


Crown him the Lord of peace
whose kingdom is at hand;
from pole to pole let warfare cease
and Christ rule every land!
A city stands on high;
Christ’s glory it displays,
and there the nations ‘Holy’ cry
in joyful hymns of praise.

Crown him the Lord of years,
the Source, the End of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres
in majesty sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail,
for you have died for me;
your praise shall never, never fail
through all eternity!

Words: Matthew Bridges, Verse 2, Godfrey Thring,
Music: George J. Elvey,
Music descant copyright © Richard Proulx
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

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

(Zoom breakout rooms)


10:00 am November 15, 2020

led by: Theresia Ndofor

Elder: Jim Jeatt

children’s time: Lynn Vaughan

vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford


Copyright 2020 – Theresia Ndofor, In-Ministry Third Year M.Div Student from Montreal School of Theology
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