Sunday (ZOOM) Worship Message: “The yoke that makes our burden light” (John Carr)

Dayspring ZOOM Connect Worship, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost 
July 5, 2020

Leading Worship: The Rev Dr John Carr      Welcoming Elder and Reader: Nick Nation

Gathering

Music Prelude: All things bright and beautiful

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their little wings.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day.

words: Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander; English folk melody public domain

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.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, today, so we invite everyone to have a piece of bread or a cracker and some wine or fruit juice available, so that you can share in Communion. Please note that our children share with us in the Lord’s Supper. 

Call to Worship

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!

Prayer of approach

We pray: Loving God, in You we know the power of redemption. You stand among us as Light and Life even in our darkest times.

Elusive God, Companion on the way, you walk behind, beside, and beyond. You catch us unawares.

You break through the disillusionment and despair when it is clouding our vision so that we may find our way and journey on.

You stand with us and are hoping for us even when we find it difficult to hope for ourselves.

Prayer of confession

We are mindful, this day of the fact that we stand before you naked and revealed in all our weaknesses and faults. You know what goes on in our minds and you see the way we behave towards each other in the human family.

And we are mindful also of the ways in which our environment cries out in pain because of the many wounds with which we have afflicted it.

Now, we reflect on the way we have lived our lives and, in the silence of our own hearts, we confess our personal sin and waywardness …

Prayer for God’s help

We know that we as individuals – along with organizations and institutions – have a role to play in the healing process.  But we also know that Your love and care is, itself, a healing balm for human pain and for the consequences of human sin.

And so we live with trust and faith, knowing that Your loving “arms” are around us and Your loving “hands” are underneath our world. AMEN.

Assurance of God’s forgiveness:

We receive God’s full forgiveness when we own up to our sin. To confess a sin means to uncover it and call it exactly what God calls it. This honest confession must include the willingness to forsake the sin. God promises not only to forgive us but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To God be the glory. AMEN.

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

Music meditation: When we are living

When we are living, it is in Christ Jesus,
and when we’re dying, it is in the Lord.

Both in our living and in our dying,
we belong to God; we belong to God.

Through all our living, we our fruits must give.
Good works of service are for offering.
When we are giving, or when receiving,
we belong to God; we belong to God.

‘Mid times of sorrow and in times of pain,
when sensing beauty or in love’s embrace,
whether we suffer, or sing rejoicing,
we belong to God; we belong to God.

Across this wide world, we shall always find
those who are crying with no peace of mind,
but when we help them, or when we feed them,
we belong to God; we belong to God.

Words translation: E. Eslinger, R. Escamilla, G. Lockwood; Music: Hispanic folk song; public domain
Words translation © 1989, United Methodist Publishing House
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.

Today’s Message: “The yoke that makes our burden light”

Introduction

The message is being shared, this morning, in a format that is different from our usual approach. 

In a moment, Nick will read the passage from Romans 7 that is listed in the Order of Service. Then I will reflect on that passage for a few minutes. Next, Nick will read the Psalm 145 and Matthew 11 passages. Following that, I will do a concluding reflection.

These passages provide perspectives on the Christian life that need to be held in tension and in dialogue, the one with the other. That was the intention of those who constructed the Revised Common Lectionary and specified this combination of passages for today.

Friends – let’s listen to Romans 7:15-25a.

Romans 7:15-25a (CEV) Read by Welcoming Elder

This is the Apostle Paul talking about his struggle to be the kind of person he knows Jesus wants him to be.

… I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. So I am not the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them.

I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them.

The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.

Reflection 1

I doubt that there is anyone who is participating in this worship service who has not experienced what Paul was writing about. Living the Christian life is not easy. There are many things that we do that we know are not pleasing to God. And there are so many things that we know God would like us to do that we just screw up on. Our lives are marked by sins of commission and sins of omission.

Many people think that they need to hide these “dark” aspects of our personalities; to sweep sins of commission and omission under the carpet; to pretend that “I’m all right, Jack.” (no offence intended to the “Jacks” in the congregation)

However, here, in Romans 7, we see a leader of the early church being upfront about his struggles – and in a letter which was intended for wide circulation.

The thing is – it’s OK to acknowledge our shortcomings because having shortcomings is a normal aspect of being human. Some of us have more difficulty with this than others – but we just aren’t perfect and never will be.

And God isn’t going to come down on us like a ton of bricks for being imperfect or for fronting up about that. The authors of Psalm 145 and Matthew 11 knew this.

Psalm 145:8-14 (CEV)
You are merciful, Lord!
You are kind and patient and always loving.
You are good to everyone,
and You take care of all Your creation.

All creation will thank You,
and Your loyal people will praise You.
They will tell about Your marvelous kingdom
and about Your power.

Then everyone will know about the mighty things You do
and about Your glorious kingdom.
Your kingdom will never end,
and You will rule forever.

Our Lord, You keep Your word
and do everything You say You will do.
When someone stumbles or falls,
You give a helping hand.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 (CEV adapted)

In this passage, Jesus is challenging the sincerity of the adoring fans who had gathered to hear Him talk. He said:

You people are like children sitting in the market and shouting to each other, “We played the flute, but you would not dance! We sang a funeral song, but you would not mourn!” John the Baptist did not go around eating and drinking, and you said, “That man has a demon in him!” But the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, and you say, “That man eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what it does.

Then Jesus began to reflect on these things.

And He said –

My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you.

My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who truly knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too.

Then Jesus said to the gathered people: If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.

Reflection 2

A few years ago, quite impulsively, I bought myself a new knapsack. For a couple of decades previously I had used a knapsack as my carryon luggage on my many airline trips to conferences, professional meetings, and overseas events. That old knapsack was purchased before I started lugging around my laptop computer to these gatherings.

I had the knapsack with me when I was visiting the Taj Mahal and it still bears the mark of a pigeon flying overhead. (Better the knapsack than my head.) So I was reluctant to trade in this old friend even though I knew that it was no longer doing the job.

But the time came when I realized that I had to. And my new knapsack fit perfectly. It was designed for carting around the electronics that I took to my meetings – and made my burden feel an awful lot lighter than did my old pigeon-marked bag.

This knapsack talk is by way of illustrating what is meant in Matthew 11 when Jesus is reported as saying that His “yoke is easy to bear, and [His] burden is light.”

It’s highly synchronous that Nick is reading the Scriptures today – because he is a veterinarian who has done a lot of work with large animals. So we had an email conversation about “yokes” and about some of what is involved in fitting beasts of burden with a yoke.

Yokes were made out of wood. They were as light as possible so that they did not add unnecessarily to the burden but were strong enough for the tasks the ox had to do. They were shaped to fit the ox comfortably and enable it to pull a plow or a cart without irritating the skin of their shoulders.

More than that, Nick wrote, “a poorly fitted yoke will cause, over time, damage to the radial nerve supplying the front legs which will result in lameness and, in really bad cases, paralysis that makes the animal unfit for service.”

Keep in mind, that Jesus’ father was a carpenter and Jesus undoubtedly learned about these things when working with His father.

Jesus is telling us that hard as it is, sometimes, for us to live the way that we know we are intended to live – to be the person we are intended to be – Jesus really just wants us to take on what we are able to take on. And he is assuring us that He will be, for us, what we need Him to be.

I’m saying that Jesus is the yoke that makes our struggles and burdens light – that we can “put on Jesus” – that we can be “Christ-bearers” – and because that is what we are intended to be, we will be able to navigate whatever it is that we have to navigate. Jesus is a good “fit.” I see that in many of you as we pull together to make Dayspring a vibrant community of faith and care.

Now as to how you “put on Jesus” – how you live life as “Christ bearers” – that’s something you might want to discuss in the breakout rooms at the end of worship. For now, let’s listen to, and maybe sing – each in our own home – this song by Fred Kaan and Ron Klusmeier.

 Music Meditation: To show by touch and word

To show by touch and word
devotion to the earth,
to hold in high regard
all life that comes to birth,
we need, O God, the will to find
the good you had of old in mind.

Inspire our hearts to choose
the things that matter most,
to speak and do the truth,
creating peace and trust.
For every challenge that we face
we need your guidance and your grace.

Let love from day to day
be touchstone, guide and norm,
and let our lives portray
your Word in human form.
Now come with us that we may have
your wits about us where we live.

Words: F. Kaan, Music: R. Klusmeier; © 1975, Hope Publishing Co.; WorshipArts
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.

The Lord’s Supper

Invitation

When our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. Luke 24:30, 31

We invite you, each in your own homes, to recognize and experience the presence of Jesus.

This celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not a Dayspring celebration.

Neither is it a Presbyterian celebration.

It is a celebration for all humankind – for men and women, girls and boys, who are seeking, or have found, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We believe that we are not in charge of the Lord’s Supper – rather that Jesus is – and Jesus says that all are welcome.

And now we pray …

As we partake of this bread and wine, we honor Creator and creation.

As we bless and share these gifts, we celebrate the Table fellowship of Jesus and know that all are made worthy by Jesus – adults, teenagers, children – and that all are welcome!

We celebrate the communion and community of all humankind.

In Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the True Vine, You feed us with the Word. You nourish us with Your Love poured out in abundance upon us.

O present Spirit, help us recognize the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread.

You feed us and all the world with this bread.

You bring joy with this wine and grape juice.

Bread and Wine are leaven, salt, and life in us – a community of faith strengthened by this symbolic meal.

We pray in the name of Jesus who came among us – a deep mystery of faith. AMEN.

 Song: Here is bread, here is wine

Here is bread, here is wine
Christ is with us, he is with us
Break the bread, drink the wine
Christ is with us here 

Here is grace, here is peace
Christ is with us, he is with us
Know his grace, find his peace
Feast on Jesus here 

In this bread there is healing
In this cup there’s life forever
In this moment, by the Spirit
Christ is with us here

Here we are, joined in one
Christ is with us, he is with us
We’ll proclaim, till he comes
Jesus crucified

Songwriter: Graham Kendrick Copyright © 1992 Make Way Music/ Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved

Offering of Bread and Wine

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. I Cor. 10:17.

When we break the bread, it is a sharing in the body of Christ. I Cor. 10:16.

When we bless the cup, it is a sharing in the blood of Christ. I Cor. 10:16.

The wine, like Christ’s blood, is poured out as a declaration that we can have life and have life more abundantly.

Communion

Offering of the Bread: “The Bread of life is for all who come in faith.”

Offering of the Wine: “Christ’s love is poured out for all of us.”

Prayer

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us symbolically and we have experienced your Real Presence.

We thank You for all those who have shared in this mystery, and thus in You – here and in many places through two millennia.

And we offer ourselves, and all that we have in the service and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  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 above and in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Intercessions

Friends in Christ, God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves, we offer our prayers for those of our congregation, or those who are the family members or friends of our members, whose names are listed in our weekly mailing …

We think, especially, of those in our congregation who are dealing with the frailty of our bodies as we grow older. …

And about those grieve the death of loved ones …

We offer our prayers, also, for those in our wider community, province, nation, and world who are struggling, many of them not knowing how they will survive …

Words are able to accomplish much, but actions speak louder than words. So, along with our prayers, we commit ourselves to acts of care, justice-seeking, and peace-making.

Commissioning and Blessing: Go in peace. Love and serve the Lord.

And know that God Is with you each step of the way. Amen.

Visiting

Copyright 2020 The Rev Dr. John C. Carr

Posted in Recent Sermons.