Sunday (Zoom) message: Jesus, praying for us

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 24, 2020

Scripture:
John 17:1-11

Dayspring Zoom Connect Worship, May 24, 2020

Gathering

Music prelude: You raise me up     

Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…”   Jim Jeatt (Welcoming elder)                              

Welcome and announcements

Call to worship:

L: Let us be joyful before God! Let us be jubilant this day.
P: We will sing praises to God’s holy name.
L: Let us lift up a song to the One who rides upon the clouds,
P: For God also protects orphans and widows, and gives the desolate a home.
L: Sing to God, O nations of the earth;
P: We will sing praises to the Lord, our God!

Opening praise song: I lift my eyes up 

I lift my eyes up
to the mountains.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from You,
Maker of heaven
Creator of the earth.

Oh, how I need You, Lord
You are my only hope.
You’re my only prayer.
So I will wait for You
to come and rescue me.
come and give me life.

Prayers of approach and for God’s help and of confession: Heinrich

God of history and eternity, you came among us in Jesus, so that we might come to know you and love You, as He did. Through Jesus’ life, You have given us a pattern for living and taught us to love one another and forgive as we have been forgiven. By his death and resurrection, You promise that nothing can separate us from your love. In ascending to be united with You, He is now present to every creature in every corner of creation. And so we wait with hopeful anticipation for the fullness of your redemption, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, now and always.

Dear Lord, when your Son was praying to You for his disciples, we notice that this prayer includes us. We are humbled by the realization that we have the potential to be part of this intimate relationship with Christ and with the Father. Would You have mercy on us! Would there be a way for us to learn from You, while we wrestle ourselves out of the pandemic we are experiencing right now?

Dear Lord of our days and all the days to come, we confess that we feel lost, waiting for your promised redemption in such uncertain times. You made us for unity in community, yet we have nursed grievances and settled for unresolved tensions. You commissioned us to be witnesses to Christ’s ministry, yet we find it hard to share our experience of your love and grace with others. Forgive us for accepting disunity, instead of working through differences. Forgive us for failing to share the good news of Christ’s love, even with those closest to us.

Assurance of God’s forgiveness:                                                                                          
Friends, hear the good news! Jesus Christ is our High Priest and Advocate, interceding before God the Father on our behalf. Know that his love for us is undying. Trust that you are forgiven through his grace, and with his courage, forgive one another.

Children’s time:    Shane Johnson

Music meditation: You raise me up   

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

Scripture reading: John 17:1-11 from the New Living Translation (NLT)   Jim Jeatt

The Prayer of Jesus

17 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.

Message: “Jesus, praying for us”   Rev Heinrich Grosskopf

I recently watched a movie that depicts vividly how our society’s attitude to death can be shaped in various ways. In this movie, the wider family concealed imminent death from their matriarch. According to the fourth Gospel, John describes Jesus as fully aware of his imminent death, disclosing it to his disciples. He brings comfort and prays for the protection of his followers.

This movie was released last year and brought both spontaneous laughter as well as, sometimes, a few unexpected tears to my eyes in short succession. The plot is about Billi’s family that returns to China under the facade of a fake wedding so that they can say goodbye to their beloved matriarch Nai Nai. This is all while she is the only person that doesn’t know that she only has a few weeks to live. The film’s name is The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang. Besides the film receiving numerous nominations and awards, I recommend it strongly.

The dilemma we all face is that one day the inevitable will happen. We will all die at some time or another, whether we like it or not. The problem is that we often make life harder for ourselves than is necessary. By keeping the grandmother in the movie, I mentioned uninformed of her lung cancer diagnosis, she was able to live life to its fullest. What was hard, was for the family to know that she has the diagnosis, and Billi, her granddaughter keeps on walking around with a long face. In the movie, Billi’s parents moved to America when she was a young child, and she is conversant in English and Chinese. The two cultures, East and West are at odds with one another, as the tendency is for Chinese folks to spare their loved ones the bad diagnosis, giving them so much more zest for life. The bystanders, children and grandchildren take the burden upon them to bear through the time of illness. This is very unlike the way we do it in the West. We tend to take the whole burden of such a terminal illness upon ourselves.

Let’s not I spoil the movie, I’ll stop describing any more, and I know that the little I told won’t interfere with experiencing the film to its fullest.

According to John’s gospel, Jesus undergoes the exact opposite. Around every turn and along with every conversation in the Farewell Discourse, Jesus makes it very plain that He is about to die. It is an open and a rather uncomfortable reality for the disciples to entertain. Right at the 17th chapter, Jesus is offering his final prayer and He is praying for his disciples, his friends and followers. Let’s imagine now, this prayer is one that Jesus is indeed praying for us. It doesn’t need any imagining, as Jesus is actually including all of us as believers in this prayer.

When, in the third verse, Jesus says to the Father, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one You sent to earth,” Jesus is telling the one vital part of our faith. Knowing God and knowing Him Jesus Christ is the most real way that we can believe. Having a personal knowledge, which is not just a faith of admitting the factual existence of God and Jesus, but living it, is what makes the difference. Do I allow God, and God’s Son Jesus Christ into my budget, into my future? Or do the two have very little to do with one another? I bet that our lives may look much different when we actually know God through Jesus.

The disciples who know Jesus are able to overhear Jesus praying to the Father. As from 17 verse 6, they are being entrusted into God’s care. More than this, the believers to come, still to be born are being entrusted into the Father’s care.

Interesting that in this prayer, called the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus also refers to the world. The world does not mean one thing in John’s gospel. There is rather a wide range of meanings that get used, as the gospel according to John unfolds. It is dynamic and moves from one meaning to the next. The world was positive to God as God’s creation. Then the world turns hostile toward God by rejecting Jesus. The Gospel also points out how God works to break down the rift that there is between God and the world. People who encounter Jesus are invited to believe.

Dear friends, we too are invited to believe. As you know, we are enduring an excruciating pandemic. At this very moment, let us know that Jesus is entrusting us into the capable care of God. God, who became human, who trod the roads of Israel 2000 years ago, in the person on Jesus Christ, is entrusting us into the care of God.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, Immanuel, God incarnate, reaches out to each of us as He puts the love of God into action.

He prays and He wants to heal us. What do we need healing from? There is a poem that Sarah Bourns from Nyack College in New York wrote, it is titled Exposed.

Many of the things we seem to need healing from have been exposed by the coronavirus.

“Exposed” – by Sarah Bourns

We’ve all been exposed.
Not necessarily to the virus
(though maybe…who knows)
We’ve all been exposed BY the virus.
Corona is exposing us.
Exposing our weak sides.
Exposing our dark sides.
Exposing what normally lies far beneath the surface of our souls,
hidden by the invisible masks we wear.
Now exposed by the paper masks we can’t hide far enough behind.
Corona is exposing our addiction to comfort.
Our obsession with control.
Our compulsion to hoard.
Our protection of self.
Corona is peeling back our layers.
Tearing down our walls.
Revealing our illusions.
Leveling our best-laid plans.
Corona is exposing the gods we worship:
Our health
Our hurry
Our sense of security.
Our favorite lies
Our secret lusts
Our misplaced trust.
Corona is calling everything into question:
What is the church without a building?
What is my worth without an income?
How do we plan without certainty?
How do we love despite risk?
Corona is exposing me.
My mindless numbing
My endless scrolling
My careless words
My fragile nerves.
We’ve all been exposed.
Our junk laid bare.
Our fears made known.
The band-aid torn.
The masquerade done.
So what now? What’s left?
Clean hands
Clear eyes
Tender hearts.
What Corona reveals, God can heal.
Come Lord Jesus.
Have mercy on us.

What a telling poem! I am struck by many of the words. Words like, “Corona is exposing the gods we worship:
Our health
Our hurry
Our sense of security.
Our favorite lies
Our secret lusts
Our misplaced trust.”

Where do I put my trust? The gods we trust are often misplaced. Where do I find my sense of security when I don’t even know where the economy, as one example, will be going in the next year?

“Junk is laid bare” is another line that stabbed at me. Why do I hold on to so much junk? Corona, such a tiny, tiny virus is indeed exposing me. Where is my trust in Jesus who made God known? How do I live my life?

Did we hear what Jesus was saying in the 11th verse? “Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.” Isn’t this maybe a blessing that speaks into our lives right now? These words seem to me to be addressing our real role in this world. We will be protected; Jesus is praying for that. Now we can live fully, not holding back at all. Like people who know that they have eternal life. Similar to the grandma in the movie I mentioned at the beginning, she was living happily and fully, for this moment, for this day! Jesus is no longer in the world. The incarnation is over. Jesus has risen. But we are still in the world. Jesus’ works are now in our hands. We are called to live our faith in Him!

Let us live with trust in God. God gives us life to live now, while we are here. When we live life to its fullest now and we embrace life, love life, we draw people closer to the faith we have in us. Jesus prays for our lives, and Jesus prays for our protection. Amen

Song: Christ our hope                   

Christ our hope in life and death

What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong

Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah!
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death

What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood

Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us night
Unto the shore, the rock of Christ?

Unto the grave, what will we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him

There we will rise to meet the Lord
Then sin and death will be destroyed
And we will feast in endless joy
When Christ is ours forevermore

Prayer of gratitude:

Reflection on givingJim Jeatt

We give because we are the recipients of God’s overflowing love. We give because our givings support our minister and the church staff who enable us to be a community of Faith and Care. We give in order to take care of our building – an inheritance from those who have gone before us and from the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Our building is the means by which we offer care to our community. We give in order to be able to meet together for worship via the internet. We give to support the ministry and mission of the Presbyterian Church in Canada across our nation and throughout the world. And in these days of COVID-19 distancing, we do our giving in the various ways described on the screen and in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Closing prayer:

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)


Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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