Sunday (Zoom) message: More and more of heaven made visible on earth

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2020

Scriptures:
Acts 2:42-47
John 10:1-10

Dayspring zoom worship

Gathering

Music prelude: He leadeth me  

Greeting: (Jane de Caen)

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…”

Welcome and announcements

Call to worship: (Jane de Caen)
L: Let us worship God in the name of Jesus Christ, the good shepherd,
P: who offers us abundant life.
L: Let us worship God in the name of the One who leads us by still waters,
P: and restores our souls.
L: Let us worship God in the name of the One who prepares a banquet for us,
P: and fills our cups to overflowing.

Opening praise song: Lord I need you                         
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
Where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Prayer of approach: (Saul Carvajal)
Generous and loving God,
Your steadfast love endures throughout the ages.
Generation after generation, you offer renewal and rest
to all who are lost or carry heavy burdens.
However far we have strayed,
you seek us out and guide us beside still waters.
You lead us in path of righteousness,
and walk with us even through the darkest valleys.
You are our hope and our source of life.
Today we worship you for your endless love,
as you embrace us once again,
our Creator, Redeemer and Guide.

Children’s time: (Lynn Vaughan)

Scripture readings: Acts 2:42-47 and John 10:1-10 (Jane de Caen)
Acts 2:42-47 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

John 10:1-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus the Good Shepherd

10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Message: “More and more of heaven made visible on earth”
When there is hatred, punishment, revenge, or severe conflict, that people are willing to take others’ lives, then you would describe it as sheer hell.

Now, what would heaven on earth look like? Would it include qualities such as kindness, patience, peace and gentleness?

In my imagination, I would think heaven is a state of existence where all people accept one another, where there is harmony, and where there is an absence of winter and snow, just medium temperatures, flowers blooming all the time, birds chirping in the background. A light breeze blowing through my hair, and maybe to add to that, an eternal soft, sweet fragrance of the Mayday tree’s flowers. Enjoying this with the love of your life at your side would top it all. As Tommy Overstreet put it in his 1972 song “Heaven is my woman’s love.”

For others it would be golfing every day. For some it is being able to hike in the mountains and to enjoy terrific panoramic vistas.

For some it might mean watching hockey and seeing Edmonton win the Stanley Cup every year.

Perhaps being able to eat chocolate all the time without getting fat or ill, might be heaven for some folks. Something inside of me makes me think I could identify with having chocolate all the time!

Enjoying the best music all the time could fill the desire for heaven on earth for even other folks.

What does heaven on earth look like, when you page through the Bible?

Our reading from Acts talks about an almost heaven-like situation of the first believers devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. During our current pandemic the ability to gather regularly in person, to break bread and praying together, seems to be removed from us, and we have to rely on the internet and on having virtual gatherings. Can we re-create heaven by joining in with one another through online meetings? I’m sure we can! At least to some extent.

The gospel according to John tells us how heaven becomes real. John tells about God’s Son being God with us, living among us here on earth. Jesus introduced humanity to what heaven is all about, and that it could indeed be found here on earth, perhaps sometimes just in glimpses, and surely tangible.

In John 9 the story was told of the man who was born blind and how Jesus had made mud with his saliva and given him his sight that he had never had before. This is right beside this morning’s story of Jesus who is the Good Shepherd in the 10th chapter.

Jesus describes Himself, not only as Good Shepherd, but as the gate, or as the original language puts it, as the door. Jesus is the entrance to something new. I want to pause for a moment at the metaphor of Jesus as the “door.”

Jesus is the door for the blind man. Jesus is the entrance into a new fold. This is where there is safety, and abundance. It is a pasture of care and goodness. This is an existence that the blind man had never known at all. These are promises made to a man blind from birth. He had experienced everything the exact opposite of what Jesus was describing. This blind man was led through the door, through Jesus, into the moment of rebirth and new creation.

The blind man is born again, to experience a life that could not be more contrary to the one he has already lived. When Jesus is the “door” or the “gate”, this metaphor is all about access, being able to go in. It’s a state of existence where disciples meet behind closed doors and Jesus can still go in, despite the door being closed. Maybe it is so safe, that a bunch of keys, passwords or passcodes aren’t needed. Deception doesn’t exist, and there is no need to hide anything. Viruses aren’t making it a danger to enter through doors and filling people with fear.

Just recently a minister in South Africa was experiencing something that I want to share with you.

First of all, they have been on a total lockdown in that country. You need a permit to be able to move around.

The previous morning, reverend Hank says, he was driving a member of his congregation back from a neigbouring city with a permit and a face mask. This man needed blood as he was suffering from blood cancer.

As he was travelling back, he was stopped at the third road blockade.

Now, just as background, in one word, in general racism has reversed in South Africa. Police are usually black and when a white person gets pulled off the road, they expect the worst. It was the other way round back in the Apartheid years.

So, at the third road blockade, there are police force all around him, the one officer walks up to his car and asks for the minister’s permit. Upon this he asked the officer, “why do you need the permit?” He told him why. And then the police officer asks “What job do you really do?

He tried the standard answer, I am a Moruti (the local word for I’m a minister).

Then he took his permit and ID document and asks that he would immediately pull off the road.

Completely discouraged, the minister was seeing visions of himself in a police cell and much poorer after a stiff fine. The office calls all the other police to come closer and then he asks, “Moruti, will you please pray for us if it won’t offend you. We really need prayer for ourselves, for our colleagues and for our families, please Moruti.”

There he was standing, among them and he attempts his best English and prays, as police in South Africa resist anything in Afrikaans. So, in the English he had learned from his teachers, ms. Smit and mr. Erasmus, at school. Then he said “Amen.”

This was when all of them came to him. Thank you, they all said, and may the Lord bless you and your family.

They sanitized their hands and such, walked over towards the road, stopping other vehicles so that he could go.

He drove to his home town with a lump in his throat and with tears almost welling up in his eyes.

He concluded, may we realize what they as frontline workers mean to us and that they need our prayers.

The minister being pulled off by the law enforcement was expecting to be taken into police custody, and paying a huge fine to bail himself out. But no, he got the opposite treatment.

Isn’t this part of the bigger picture of what we are experiencing during Covid-19? People are treating one another with more kindness. There is more patience with one another and we realize that we are all in this together.

Perhaps, during this time, more and more of heaven on earth is becoming visible, because our eyes are being opened. The Good Shepherd seems to be leading us through the door and into a life of abundance! Amen

Song: The Lord’s my shepherd
The Lord’s my Shepherd I’ll not want
He makes me lie in pastures green
He leads me by the still, still waters
His goodness will lead me home

And I will trust in You alone
And I will trust in You alone
For Your endless mercy follows me
Your goodness will lead me home

And though I walk the darkest path
I will not fear the evil one
For You are with me
And Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know

For You are with me
And Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know

Invitation to the Lord’s table

John 21
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. Just after daybreak, he stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord.

Jesus came, and took the bread, and gave it to them

This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’

A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’

He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

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

Apostle’s 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

Institution
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.’

Communion:
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.”

Music interlude: He leadeth me

Prayer of gratitude:
Dear Lord we bring You thanks for leading us closer to you, for giving us access to something of heaven on earth, where there can be so much to be sad about. When we experience loss, You give abundance. We there is sickness, your loving presence brings healing. Where there is division, You bring wholeness. You are about Shalom, peace, wellness and harmony.

We thank You for the safe arrival of a new baby into our congregation. Vivian H gave birth to Marion a week ago. We always rejoice in new life!

Thank You for every front-line worker in every grocery store, every service-providing area there is. We cannot give You enough thanks for the doctors, nurses, health-care workers, hospitals, extended care facilities, places of care, who work tirelessly to bring back stability to life during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thank You for the Hope that You always instill in us! Amen

Reflection on giving:

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 our building – an inheritance from those who have gone before us and from the Presbyterian Church in Canada – and 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 in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Closing prayer:
Generous Lord, we thank You for all we have received from You which brings us hope and joy. Bless the gifts we bring. May they help to establish your reign in the world you love. In the name of your greatest gift, Jesus Christ, we pray.

Blessing:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Visiting


Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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