Sunday (ZOOM) Worship: Message “The Best is Love” (Darlene Eerkes)

Dayspring ZOOM Connect Worship: July 12, 2020 at 10 am MDT
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Leading Worship: Darlene Eerkes

Gathering

 Music: The love of God comes close

The love of God comes close
where stands an open door,
to let the stranger in,
to mingle rich and poor.

The love of God is here to stay,
embracing those who walk the Way;
the love of God is here to stay.

The peace of God comes close
to those caught in the storm,
forgoing lives of ease
to ease the lives forlorn.

The joy of God comes close
where faith encounters fears,
where heights and depths of life
are found through smiles and tears.
The grace of God comes close
to those whose grace is spent,
when hearts are tired or sore
and hope is bruised and bent.

The Son of God comes close
where people praise his name,
where bread and wine are blest
and shared as when He came.

Words: J. Bell, G. Maule; © Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc.
Music: public domain
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

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

 

Welcome and announcements

Welcome to this Worship Service with the Congregation of Dayspring Presbyterian Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – whether you are nearby or far away.

 Call to Worship

L: We come together today to hear your words, O Lord
P: To hear your words of challenge and opportunity
L: To hear your words of comfort and encouragement
P: To know your presence is with us in every circumstance.

 Music:  What wondrous love is this

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this,
That caused the Lord of bliss,
To lay aside his crown,
For my soul, for my soul,
To lay aside his crown for my soul.

 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing!
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing!
To God and to the Lamb, Who is the great “I AM, ”
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing!
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

American folk hymn
harm.: © World Council of Churches

Prayers of approach and for God’s help and Prayer of confession

Loving God – When we see and hear the news of conflict around our world we are often overwhelmed with many emotions. We wrestle with problems in our society that are so big and systemic that it is hard to know how to react and what to do.

God – We wonder if we would act differently if we saw YOU in each face we encountered in our days?

If we saw YOU in each face, would we do a better job of listening?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we see past race? age? deformity?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we verbally put down another person?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we accept the bullying or destruction of others?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we find a way to understand and bless those we meet instead of rushing to our next task?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we want each one to know YOU and understand how this world belongs to YOU?
If we saw YOU in each face, would we work and live so that all people feel valued and loved?

God – We confess that we do not love our neighbour as we should. Amen.

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

God knows our failures.  God understands our struggles. God is merciful to us, embracing us with a love that is beyond all measure, beyond all words. Because of God’s love we are forgiven.  Love is the greatest gift God gives us.

Children’s time:   Lynn Vaughan                  (Prayer & Lord’s Prayer)

Music: Jesus loves me

Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
they are weak, but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me…
The Bible tells me so.

Anna Bartlett; William Bradbury
public domain

Scripture reading

Today’s readings are taken from the New International Version of the Bible and The Message translation.

  • Our first reading is from Galatians 5: 14-15 and verses 22-23: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbour as yourself.  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Verses 22 and 23 state: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

  • Our second reading is from the Gospel of John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
  • And our final reading is from the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians – a text showing us the Way of Love. Lynn has already shared many of the ideas in the first section of this chapter so I will highlight only the completion of 1 Corinthians. These words are taken from The Message translation:

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing God directly just as God knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

Message:  The best is love!

Darlene Eerkes

God loves you! God loves all people.  We play a role in the Greatest LOVE story imaginable!  You have just listened to a selection of Scripture verses that are likely quite familiar to many of you.  As followers of Jesus we seek to be wise and faithful, living out God’s hope for the world.  We heard in these scriptures that God shares with us the gifts of Spirt of God.  And, that LOVE is the best. 

We all know that there are times when loving is easy. 

For example, as I hold my little granddaughter one and a half years old, I feel the power of love.  One day she was not feeling well, she was cranky and needed lots of comfort and love.  I was holding her as she was falling asleep.  I held one of her tiny hands and I was humming softly.  It was a very quiet moment – a connection moment. I felt her little heart beating against mine. And then She looked up into my eyes and I was looking into her dark brown ones. We gazed at each other – Time stood still.  In that moment I felt LOVE – beyond words.  My granddaughter, in spite of not feeling well, smiled a slow gentle look. She felt it too! “Love your neighbour” does not feel like a command to be obeyed when I look into the eyes of any of my grandchildren. 

To “love others” is a command for those times when loving is hard, when Love compels us to give up something or to make tough decisions in the name of love. For example:  A previous colleague of mine is a very passionate man who has been active for many years in Christian education.  Just over two years ago, my friend was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. Part of his treatment was a bone marrow transplant which severely impacts a person’s immune system. His medical health is fragile and his life holds great uncertainty. Covid-19 is particularly serious for people in his situation. 

In a recent Twitter post my friend said: Those who protest wearing a mask b/c they feel it is the gov’t taking away their personal freedom are forgetting that the only real freedom comes when we love others. It is what we are created and commanded to do. Having the mind of Christ compels us to put others first.

My friend reminds us that real love means thinking about the needs of others.  At times it may mean wearing a mask even when we don’t want to OR following the directional arrows in a grocery store OR completing the multitude of questions asked of you before being admitted to a place of business OR allowing your temperature to be taken as you wait for service OR waiting in line ups so social distancing can be maintained.  Love motivates us to find new ways of connecting with our families and neighbours while trying to keep everyone safe. Loving our neighbour means all our neighbours, not just the ones we find it easy to love.

The Scriptures today speak of many fruits of the Spirit of God in us/with us – but the BEST of these is LOVE.  Faithful followers of Christ will ACT in ways that reflect God’s love to the world around us, even when doing so is difficult.  We will love and protect our neighbours in the same way we would love and protect our families and ourselves. 

Our call to love has never been more urgently needed than it is in this time of distancing and fear and fragmentation. Every day, each of us make decisions about what it means to be loving.

In listening to the news you are aware that there is an increasing threat of a different kind of pandemic in our world, based on the colour of our skin, and we hear about the violence which erupts in society because of the deep systemic lack of equity bred by racism and poverty. 

We are called and committed to follow Christ… to love as Jesus loved. 

God invites us to breathe hope – goodness – beauty – joy and love into the world.

We are invited to join in the work of transforming the world and all of creation. 

This work of reconciliation is NOT easy!

In this invitation to follow in the ways of Christ is also the promise that God is always with us.

God embraces ALL of us.  That is every single person.  Every community.   

God invites “all nations” to come together in justice, in peace and love. 

God is with us as we proclaim with all our strength that every single person is wondrous and valued and loved.

I am reminded of a statement by Desmond Tutu: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. 

The Great News of God’s love for each of us, should propel God’s people of all faiths to stand together and proclaim that every single life matters… there are no scum, there are no losers, there are no people who are beneath our notice. All are valuable and loved in the heart of God – loved beyond measure or words.

To love one another means standing in solidarity with one another.

It means crossing all geographic – political – racial – religious divides.

Love means combatting racism – promoting diversity, equity, inclusion. 

It means building just educational communities together, joining hands with our neighbours, standing firm and rooted in the gospel of love.

With this in mind I have asked our Youth Coordinator, Saúl, to share the experiences of some of our youth and young adults a few weeks ago as they stepped forward to act out a little of what it means to “love your neighbour.”

Saúl Carvajal (Youth Coordinator)

On Thursday June 4, 2020, I sent a mass text to all of the Dayspring youth and young adults reminding them of our Youth connect taking place the following day in the evening. That same day, most of the youth replied telling me that they would not be able to make it because they were planning on attending the “black lives matter ” peaceful protest at the Alberta Legislature. Instead of feeling disappointed because most of us couldn’t attend the Youth connect, I felt excitement and pride, for they were choosing to take a stand for justice, speaking out against racism and inequity. 

On Friday June 5, 2020, a crowd of roughly 10,000 people rallied in a peaceful protest at the ALberta legislature, joining a chorus of voices across North America demanding an end to systematic racism against black communities in the wake of the death of George floyd. As Darlene mentioned earlier, there is an increasing threat of pandemic in our world, one that is based on the colour of our skin. 

The speakers at the protest represented a diverse cross-section of Edmonton’s black community. There were school teachers. In fact, one of the main speakers was my sibling’s Highschool social and Phys ed teacher. There were poets, musicians, artists, professors, and various other activists. And of course, amongst the 10,000 + crowd, were most of Dayspring’s youth and young adults practicing safe social distancing. 

As the program took place at the legislature grounds, we were asked to take a knee in a very moving moment of silence in order to remember the legacy George Floyd left behind. As everyone took a knee in solidarity and as a sign of respect, there were a couple that stood out within the crowds that remained standing. Of course, in a crowd of 10,000 people kneeling, the ones that remained standing stood out. Some people around them questioned their behaviour, but those on stage reminded everyone saying: “this is a peaceful protest… please do not pay any attention to any negativity that might occur”, and  they continued by saying, “we can only fight hatred with love”

LOVE… such a simple word, yet a challenging task. 

LOVE… this is what some of our youth have to say about love as a prominent theme in their experience at the black lives matter peaceful protest:

”Love is free, why hate?”

“There can be no love without Justice”

“Love is a movement, and I am glad to be a part of it”

“As humans, we see others through the same lens that we see ourselves… it is important then to love ourselves within before we try to share that love”

And of course, a reminder that comes from a very prominent and familiar spokesperson about justice during his time… “love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

On June 5th, 2020, Dayspring youth reminded me, and it should also remind us, that praxis guided by an ethics of care and love, and ultimately empathic solidarity is, in fact, the service of transformative justice.

Darlene Eerkes

Loving our neighbour is more than just saying the words, there must be action. 

We journey together, following in the ways of Jesus, in partnership with God, to love our neighbour, all our neighbours.  We do not walk this journey alone.  Jesus has promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Music: A new commandment

A new commandment I give unto you:
that you love one another as I have loved you,
that you love one another as I have loved you.

By this shall all know that you are my disciples:
if you have love one for another.
By this shall all know that you are my disciples:
if you have love one for another.

Words: John 13:34-35
Music: anonymous; arr. © from the Australian Hymn Book; 1977
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayer of gratitude

Creator God, from YOU every family in heaven and earth takes its name. You have rooted and grounded us in your love – a love that is unmeasurable and beyond words.  We are empowered by your Spirit to speak the truth in love, and to walk in your way towards justice and wholeness.  Strengthen and guide us to better “love ALL our neighbours” so that we may grow into the fullness of Christ, who is our light and our life. Amen.

Reflection on giving

We give to support the ministry and mission of our congregation. During this time of COVID-19 restrictions, our members have been generous. Thank you for that generosity. However, because we have lost the contributions to our budget from the organizations that use our building, we are running a shortfall. So we all need to dig deep. We do our giving in the various ways described on the screen and in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Prayer of Thanksgiving 

Lord, we know you see the great confusion in our world and in our hearts. Yet your words of promise provide us comfort and encouragement. Thank you for the times when loving is easy.  Thank you for your many blessings and abundant mercies which are new every morning.  Thank you for your Spirit that draws us back to you even when we wander far from your ways and are blinded by our own desires and perspectives. We give thanks for people who work to find solutions for disease, sickness, poverty, and inequities. Thank you for all who work to bring justice, reconciliation and peace into all situations. Thank you for your patience as you continue to teach us what it means to love all our neighbours. Thank you for being with us – our Emmanuel. Amen.

Blessing

And now – receive the Benediction:
Whenever we love … God shines through us. 
Go and love your neighbour – all your neighbours! Amen!

Visiting

Thank you for joining us.. 

Questions you might ask yourself …

  1. Where did you see God this week – in people “loving a neighbour”?
  2. What can you give thanks for in this past week?

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Darlene Eerkes

Posted in Recent Sermons.