Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: Seeking wisdom on our Lenten journey – through the eyes of Ecclesiastes

Worship on the Lord’s Day

 

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

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: Great are you, Lord

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only
Great are You, Lord

Songwriters: Jason David Ingram, David Leonard, Leslie Jordan. Great Are You Lord lyrics © Integrity’s Praise Music, Integrity S Alleluia Music. Reprinted with permission and permission to stream under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.

Call to worship:

L: The heavens are telling the glory of God.
P: With the whole firmament,
    let us proclaim God’s handiwork.
L: The law of the LORD revives the soul.
P: May God’s teaching
    bring us wisdom in our worship.
L: Let the words of our mouths
and the meditation of our hearts
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
P: For you are our rock and redeemer,
    and so we praise you!

Prayers of approach and confession:

Almighty God, You have set the whirling cosmos in motion and called all creatures into being. All that exists speaks of your majesty, yet no detail misses your care and attention.You know each of us by name, and make yourself known to those who seek You. Your wisdom delights the human heart and purifies the soul. We gather to enjoy your presence with us, and to listen for your Word for our times and our lives. God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, to You alone all worship, honour and glory are due, this day and every day, now and always.

Now, God of majesty and mercy, we are aware that You are present here and everywhere, drawing near to us. Yet we confess we are often distracted from your presence. Many things compete for our attention. We are tempted to seek things that cannot truly satisfy. We envy those who are successful in the world’s terms, and so pursue our own desires, without questioning the cost to the earth or those in need. Forgive us, dear Lord. Send us the Holy Spirit to awaken us to your purposes and pursue them with renewed commitment, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Hear us now as we pray our personal prayers of confession…

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God

Assurance of God’s forgiveness:

The apostle Paul declared that the message of the Cross is foolishness to many, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. By this power, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God for the wisdom to live as forgiven people.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance:

Dear Lord, as we pray to You for help, with this we admit that we can’t journey the path of our lives without your help. We need your presence. We look up to You and bring the needs and challenges of so many before You. You know our needs. We realize that your presence is with those on our prayer corner, in particular we pray for Nesta who is on the mend after a hip replacement, thank You that things went well during these past few days. We also pray for friends, family, loved ones and we reach out to You in prayers of intercession for each of them…

As we turn to your scriptures, Lord God of wisdom, we become aware that you have spoken in the Law and the prophets to teach us how to live. Move in and among us through your Holy Spirit, to open our minds and hearts to your truth and receive your life-giving Word. Amen.

 

We listen for the voice of God

 

Children’s time                    

Song: Be thou my vision                       461 

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

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Words: anonymous, translation Mary Byrne, paraphrase Eleanor Hull©Chatto and Windus Ltd ; Music: Irish traditional, Music harmony copyright© 1975 and descant©1983 by 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 readings:                       

Psalm 19          Non-responsive Old Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

Gods Glory in Creation and the Law

To the leader. A Psalm of David.


The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 
Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13 
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-13, 12:9-14  Old Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

Ecclesiastes 1:1-13

Reflections of a Royal Philosopher

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.

The wind blows to the south,
and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.

All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.

All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
11 
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.

The Futility of Seeking Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

Epilogue

Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs. 10 The Teacher sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly.

11 The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one shepherd. 12 Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Response: Jesus, remember me

Message:

“Seeking wisdom on our Lenten journey – through the eyes of Ecclesiastes”

We all want to live happy lives and the more we pursue it, the more it evades us like a mirage on a midsummer road with the heat of the sun beating down on it. You try to get to it and then it’s gone again.

We have looked at the book of Job, the book of Proverbs and today we stop by at the book of Ecclesiastes. How on earth would a cynical book like Ecclesiastes be of help? In the second verse of the first chapter, the writer kicks off with the first lens we have in our hands to read this book of wisdom. They are the words “hevel habelim” which the New Revised Standard Version translates as “Vanity of vanities.” Other versions talk about “meaningless, meaningless” for this “hevel”. There aren’t good words in the English language that come close to the original meaning, but vapour or breath come close, even “absurdity”. It is as if the writer of Ecclesiastes is trying to convey the notion that this life is fleeting, like vapour blown away in the air, it is gone! Life is fleeting. Therefore, the author feels that life is meaningless. Our life is like an hourglass, it’s running out. No-one can escape it. Therefore, life can be experienced as meaningless.

The second lens we have comes at the end in the 12th chapter. Life comes to an end, we all die. Death is the great equalizer. Your life is like vapour, everything will be erased, you will be totally forgotten in just a few decades. The wise people will die, fools will die, rich ones will die and the poor ones. Life is unpredictable.

But now, what is the sense of all of this? Why come into the world if life comes to nothing, and if it is fleeting? If we all die, why are we just “hevel”, breath or vapour?

The conclusion that Ecclesiastes comes to, is that which we pick up in chapter 9, verses 7-9: “Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.” Make the most of it!

A friend once suggested to me to savour my cup of coffee. Don’t rush about it, drinking the coffee to stay alert and awake. Savour it, enjoy it, put everything aside, your cellphone, your work, your chores, and drink the cup of coffee with meaning and intent. Make all parts of life worthwhile. Life is fleeting and we all die, and therefore it is important to enjoy and appreciate every moment for what it is. The phone call with a friend, the walk with your beloved in springtime. Enjoy it.

Embrace the fleeting nature, the breath or vapour that life is, acknowledge and make peace with death.

This is what Christ came to this world for. He became human, to take away the senselessness of life, and to take away the sting of death. Death does not have the final say in our lives as followers of Jesus.

This is when you are able to make the most of today. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift and that’s why we call it the present! Let us approach the Lord’s table with a renewed sense that life is worthwhile, and that today is the best present we’ve received from God. Amen

Song: Let all mortal flesh keep silence    542   

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand Christ our God to earth descendeth our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood, Lord of all, in human vesture,

in the body and the blood, Christ will give to all the faithful, his own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its van guard on the way, as the Light of Light, descending from the realms of endless day,
comes the powers of hell to vanquish as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged Seraph, Cherubim with sleepless eye veil their faces to the Presence
as with ceaseless voice they cry, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Lord most high.’

Words: Liturgy of St. James, English translation Gerard Moultrie, alt.  Music: French traditional carol
Words and music public domain

 
We celebrate at the table

 

Invitation to the Lord’s Supper:

Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, you formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away and our love failed, your love remained steadfast.

You delivered us from captivity, made a covenant with us to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through your prophets. So, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.

Your Spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

When the Lord Jesus ascended, he promised to be with us always in the power of your Word and Holy Spirit.

[Let us all come to the table of the Lord!]

Affirming our faith:    

Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand
of the Father,
and he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen

Communion prayer:

Luke 24 (institution)

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us, while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ ‘The Lord has risen indeed.’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’

The Communion:

Breaking bread and offering the cup
These are the gifts of God for the people of God. (Breaking of Bread)
Because there is one bread,
we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.
When we break the bread,
it is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The body of Christ, broken for you, take eat.

(Offering of the Wine)

When we bless the cup,
it is a sharing in the blood of Christ.
The blood of Christ, shed for you, take, drink.

 

We respond to serve God

 

Prayer of gratitude:

Gracious God, we thank You for the love that brings us food from heaven, gives us the life of your dear Son, and assures us that we belong to the company of all his faithful people in heaven and on earth. Grant that, strengthened by this fellowship and by the power of his Holy Spirit, we may continue his work in the world, until we come to the glory of your eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Response: Now thank we all our God

Reflection on giving:

We have been giving faithfully even though there is no offering plate going around the sanctuary. It may be a while before we return to that sanctuary – but what a wonder it is to continue the precious ministry that defines Dayspring. Thank you for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

Song: God of the sparrow                    307  

God of the sparrow God of the whale
God of the swirling stars, How does the creature say Awe How does the creature say Praise

God of the earthquake God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast How does the creature cry Woe How does the creature cry Save

God of the rainbow God of the cross
God of the empty grave How does the creature say Grace How does the creature say Thanks

God of the hungry God of the sick
God of the prodigal How does the creature say Care How does the creature say Life

God of the neighbour God of the foe
God of the pruning hook How does the creature say Love How does the creature say Peace

God of the ages God near at hand
God of the loving heart How do your children say Joy How do your children say Home

Words: Jaroslav Vajda, Music: Carl Schalk©1983, GIA Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Encourage folks to accept random Breakout Room assignment as a way of fostering community and care for each other.

Sending out with God’s blessing:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)   

Response: God to enfold you

(Zoom breakout rooms)


Third Sunday in Lent

10:00 am March 7, 2021

led by Rev. Heinrich Grosskopf

Elder: Sam Malayang

children’s time: Fionna McCrostie


Copyright 2021 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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