Sunday (Zoom) message: Not goodbye, but so long

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020

John 14:1-14

Dayspring zoom worship


Music prelude: How great thou art                          performed by: Taryn Harbridge

Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…” — Welcoming elder: Heather Tansem                 
Welcome and announcements

Call to worship:  Heather Tansem
L: Do not let your hearts be troubled.
P: We are not troubled. We believe in God!
L: God’s house has many dwelling places.
P: Christ himself has gone to prepare a place for us.
L: We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
P: For us, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
L: Let us worship God, made known to us in Christ Jesus.

Opening praise song: Bless the Lord   

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship your holy name

The sun comes up
it’s a new day dawning
it’s time to sing
your song again
whatever may pass
and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
when the evening comes

You’re rich in love
and you’re slow to anger
your name is great
and your heart is kind

For all your goodness
I will keep on singing
ten thousand reasons
for my heart to find

songwriter: Matt Redman
performed by: Ocean’s Edge School of Music

Prayers of approach and for God’s help and a prayer of lament

Steadfast and loving Lord, You are our refuge in times of trouble and our shelter when we are afraid. In You alone we trust. In You we see our way forward and discover what is authentic. In You we find abundant life. And so we offer You our worship and love as the God who creates and gives life to the world, as the Son who preached the truth of the good news, and the Holy Spirit who guides us; this day and always.

Lord, we turn to You this morning, acknowledging that without You we can’t live or breathe or even have any hope. We lift our hearts looking for your wisdom as our minds, bodies and souls become weary from the weeks that drag on during this Covid-19 pandemic. Our prayer is one of acceptance that You are journeying with us through thick and thin. Our prayers go out to the Ross-family as they grieve the tragic loss of their dear granddaughter. Would You go along with them all, perhaps, if anything, giving perspective when so little makes sense.

Now we turn to You, asking why we are going through so many difficulties. Have You forgotten us, or has our hardship not touched You? We never signed up for this, though our lives remain very much in disarray. Lord, when will You listen to our longings? We continue our prayer of lament in the following few moments…

Assurance of God’s faithfulness:
Friends know that God has not forgotten us. The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Let us not lose hope. Let us trust the Lord for mercy…Amen

Children’s time:    Nathan Harms                                                            
Music meditation: How great thou art         performed by: Taryn Harbridge

Scripture reading: John 14:1-14        Heather Tansem

Jesus, the Way to the Father

14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Message: “Not saying goodbye, but so long”

Just this past week I was talking to someone who is at the point of saying goodbye. This was when I chipped in and said, that this is one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with throughout my life. It is a weighty point in a person’s life. It’s not easy. I remember moving from one school to another at the end of grade five, having to go to grade 6, because my parents found that they’d prefer my brother and me to be at a school closer to home.

It was awkward, and I chose the “chicken” way of leaving. At the end of the grade 5 year, I simply left, thinking that I’m going to act as if I was just returning in the next year, and “bing”, I was out and gone.

I’ll never forget that day. It was very phony. I was only ten and very much an introvert, but it was not so nice. Packing your bag to go home and knowing full-well I wouldn’t see these kids again. I recall the feeling. It was heart-wrenching. Looking at the others that you’ve done school with for 5 years and now I’m just going. You see, the reason wasn’t that I was fleeing, I was not wanting to go. I wanted to return in grade six and now I was just leaving, and I didn’t want to face those departing moments. Saying goodbye, and never coming back again was just too hard for me. I wanted to avoid those hard moments. The end result was a huge loss that, until this very day, I don’t think I would ever want to repeat.

Breaking ties with kids that had become best buddies was just so hurtful.

John, the gospel writer tells about such a tough time for Jesus. Jesus knew that He was about to depart in quite a dramatic way. John wrote in retrospect, in hindsight, afterwards, so John knew exactly how Jesus’ departure happened. We hear in chapter 14 how Jesus was preparing to go. The last supper was about to happen, and then in those same days Jesus was brought to trial, eventually crucified and on the third day, He rose again. The disciples that Jesus hung out with for three years had to be ready for Jesus to go away, to be with the Father.

In a very pastoral way, Jesus shares this news with them when they are fearful about the future. Doesn’t this Covid-19 time make our hearts troubled and fearful too? The feeling of separation is very real to us, just like this feeling of separation would have been for the disciples. Perhaps you are living in an extended care facility and you feel separated from your dear ones. Grandparents being separated from their grandchildren and vice versa is another example. Our hearts can indeed be troubled.

This is where Jesus brings an assurance that is so very real. Jesus says to his followers that this going away does not need to rip the hearts of God’s children apart.

Even while Thomas replies to Jesus “No, we don’t know, Lord, we have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus doesn’t tell Thomas, “Well, too bad for you.” No, Jesus has patience with him and pauses, “If you don’t know the way now, let me explain it to you one more time.” And the same happens to Philip saying “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” This is when Jesus explains it again, patiently. “I know how disheartening all of this is,” is Jesus’ attitude. “I’ll walk through it with you once again.”

Through Jesus’ way of treating Thomas and Phillip we see the heart of God. God always wants to dwell with us, even in separation. God does it through Jesus. This is the way God pursues an intimate relationship with us. It happens when Jesus tells them that this relationship is for keeps and that it will never go away. “Trust me,” Jesus assures them, and He assures us, 2000 years later.

“There is plenty of room in my Father’s house,” says Jesus. These are places to be in an intimate relationship with Jesus, and with the Father. “Rest assured, when everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with Me where I am.”

What Jesus is bringing across, is in one sense, that He is not saying goodbye, He is rather saying “so long.” The eleven disciples will be apart from Him, but actually not, only for a short while, because as soon as Jesus is with the Father, the relationship of intimacy will continue.

Our experiences of being removed during Covid-19, are hard and we might feel departed, in a sense.

Now, what would the Good News be in our reading? Is it “Yay, we are on the right track, of all people on earth, as Christians, we have at least found the way”?

I’m afraid that would very narrow, and typically colonialist. How about understanding this in the much wider context of Jesus saying to his friends that He is the way, with the emphasis on the “I am the way” instead of “I am the way”? In those days in Mediterranean culture, Jesus was telling his friends, that while He is going away, they needn’t worry at all.

It’s so much simpler. Isn’t it a matter of Jesus who was going on ahead to prepare a place for us? Yes, we still forget and lose our way as we try to follow in his path. And we need not worry. Always remember last week’s psalm? The shepherd, tender and good, will come back for us, seeking us on the paths and hillsides where we wander.

God’s love, made known to us in Jesus, will seek us out. Hope is alive, and new life abounds. In this Easter season, that is the foundation and source of all our joy.

To us, just as much as to the disciples in the time that John was writing, doesn’t Jesus seem to be saying “Goodbye” but much rather, “So long”? God’s relationship with us remains an intimate one, always seeking us out, regardless of our weaknesses and faults.

Song: Jesus is the answer

Jesus is the answer for the world today
above Him there’s no other; Jesus is the way

If you have some questions in the corners of your mind and traces of discouragement and peace you cannot find reflections of the old past, they seem to face you every day there’s one thing I know for sure that Jesus is the way
let me hear you now

Jesus is the answer for the world today
above Him there’s no other; Jesus is the way

I know you got mountains that you think you cannot climb
I know that your skies have been dark, you think the sun won’t shine in case you don’t know
I’m here to tell you that the word of God is true
and everything that He promised
I tell you He would do it for you
let me tell you that

Jesus is the answer for the world today
above Him there’s no other; Jesus is the way

Songwriters: Andraé Crouch/Sandra Crouch
Performed by: Burns Creek Adventist Contemporary Choir; Fiji

Prayer of gratitude
Dear Lord, we thank You for your countless blessings which we often take for granted. Thank You for the assurance we have in You when so much that happens around us is unstable and unpredictable. Thank You that we can see your faithfulness in nature when the dull colours give way to your bright greens, yellows, red, pinks… Thank You for the sounds of birds outside, and the promise of you never-ending love for us and for your creation. 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 of 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:   Saul Carvajal
Dear Lord, as we wrap up our formal worship this Sunday, we acknowledge that You aren’t done with us, and we aren’t done with the work that You continuously do through us. Thank you for your everlasting promise of us being in You and You in us. Strengthen our faith and our resolve to live as your light-bringers and light-bearers. In your name we pray this, Amen.

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

Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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