Thanks for Manure (Annabelle Wallace)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
7th Sunday after the Epiphany
10:00 am            March 20, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering
as a Worshipping Community
Message and Children’s Time: The Rev Annabelle Wallace
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
Elder: Iris Routledge

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Opening words
L: From you, Lord, and through You, and to You, are all things
P: To Christ be the glory forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord

Opening praise: This is amazing grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness Whose love is mighty and so much stronger The King of Glory, the King above all kings Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder The King of Glory, the King above all kings

This is amazing grace This is unfailing love That You would take my place That You would bear my cross You lay down Your life That I would be set free Jesus, I sing for All that You’ve done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order Who makes the orphan a son and daughter The King of Glory, the King above all Kings Who rules the nations with truth and justice Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance The King of Glory, the King above all Kings

This is amazing grace This is unfailing love That You would take my place That You would bear my cross You lay down Your life That I would be set free. Jesus, I sing for All that You’ve done for me. Jesus, I sing for All that You’ve done for me

Music: Josh Farror, Phil Wickham, Jeremy Riddle Words © WB Music Corp, FBR Music, Josh’s Music. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

 Call to worship:
L: During Lent, God hears the desires of our  hearts and chooses what is best for us. God draws us into a deeper relationship, offering us compassion, mercy and insight.
All: God hears and responds to our plans when they honour God’s purposes for creation.
L: While we don’t always recognize it, sometimes our dreams can be distorted, harmful and not  consistent with God’s principles.
All: We praise God for when God says “yes” and for when God says “no.”
L: Let us pray.

Prayers of approach and confession

Merciful God who loves us more than we deserve; who always reaches out to us with great patience; who offers us forgiveness again and again; we draw near to you in humility.  We are in awe by your grace. We come to sing our praise, to lift up our thanks and to listen for your word to us this day.  May your Spirit fill filter through our worship and fill us with your guidance.

Merciful God, how great and good you are! You deserve more abundant praise than our hearts can give or our lips can utter. Hear us as we come before you with our prayers of confession. We know our need to be forgiven, for we are so much less than you intend us to be. For times when we refuse to learn from your word, forgive us. For times when we turn away from following in Christ’s way, forgive us. For times when we have done wrong and for times when we have hurt others, forgive us. Loving God enable us to become more like the people you would have us be.  Amen

Response: I waited, I waited on you, Lord.

 I waited, I waited on you, Lord I waited, I waited on you, Lord You bent down low and remembered me When you heard my prayer  x2

Words: Psalm 40; Music: J. Bell; © WGRG 1987 Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Assurance of God’s love
Be assured of God’s continuing love. God forgives us, accepts us and liberates us to become self-giving servants of God’s kingdom. What wonderful gifts! Thanks be to God!

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus, we are gathered
Jesus, we are gathered; Jesus, we are gathered; Jesus, we are gathered; we are gathered together with you. x 2

Words and music: Patrick Matsikenyiri © Patrick Matsikenyiri, 1990. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Story: The children enacted being trees bearing fruit.

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: The steadfast love of the Lord (20)

Refrain: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, new every morning: great is your faithfulness, O Lord, great is your faithfulness!

You, Lord, are my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in you.    Refrain

You, Lord, are good to those who wait for you, to the soul that seeks you; it is good that we should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.     Refrain

The Lord will not cast off forever, but will have compassion; for God does not willingly afflict or grieve the righteous ones.     Refrain

So let us examine all our ways, and return to the Lord; let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.     Refrain

Words: Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-33, 40; paraphrase, Edith McNeill © Celebrations, 1974. Music: Edith McNeill; arrang. Chris Rollinson © Celebrations, 1974. License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Psalm 63:1-8 Luke 13:1-9

Transition Music: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (repeat)

Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Michael Whitaker Smith. Thy Word lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, DistroKid  Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Homily: “Thanks for manure”

A pastime for some Christians is to contemplate who is most correct. A pastime for some other Christians is to weigh and measure sins – which ones are the worst so they know who is the greater sinner. If only they would read Paul – he makes several lists of many sins – never grades them – just says these are sins – these are not God’s ways. A sin is a sin is a sin.

Our gospel reading today has people trying to figure out who are the greater sinners.  Hey, Jesus – you know the guys, the Galileans, who Pilate killed did they suffer like this because they were bigger sinners than others.  NO! Jesus answers emphatically.

Question two.  Do you think that the 18 people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them were worse sinners than everyone else in Jerusalem?  NO! Jesus answers empathically.

Well we have some pretty important theology in this little dialogue. The first question had to do with Galileans, the second Jerusalemites. Jesus is speaking to all people not some. The first has to do with tragedy caused by a human being, the second a tragedy caused by a natural calamity. Jesus is including all the violence and suffering that strikes without reason or meaning.

Why were these people killed?  A question as old as the human race. The book of Job, Psalm 37 and 73 ask the same question. The disciples asked the same question “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The question assumes that there is a direct correlation between sin and death. To those disciples and in today’s reading Jesus denies that there is a direct correlation between sins and human or natural calamities.  Amen!

I got on the elevator at my Condo and this man said something about there being a direct correlation between the recent earthquakes and God’s direction.  Of course, I reacted.  I do not believe that God is a mean spirited God who is out to get people. Calamities happen!

The idea persists that illness; poverty, disease, loneliness, and death are the punishment for sins known and unknown. But the cross of Christ is the fatal blow to such thinking – the one without sin suffered and died.  At the time some took that to mean that he was not of God. But God showed us otherwise.

To both questions Jesus answers: “But unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” Luke’s Gospel continually giving out an urgent call to repentance, and a reformation of action and attitude.  Instead of trying to decide if we are better or worse than others – get to the important stuff says Jesus.  Repent – turn from anything that is taking you away from the glorious relationship with God. because without God and God’s ways in your life you will perish!

There are consequences – our behaviour and attitude cause our lives to degrade into nothingness.

The owner of the vineyard had a fig tree.  He came looking for fruit.  For three years he’s been looking for fruit.  Fig trees bear fruit every year, but for three years there has been no fruit.  Cut it down! Says the owner.

The owner is justified in his negative judgments about this tree – 3 years and no fruit. Yet due to the pleading of the gardner, there is still time for the fig tree to turn around.  There’s still time.  Spread a little manure on it and give it more time. There’s mercy here.  Grace – more time to get with the program.

In this parable we are listening in on a debate, an internal debate.  A conversation God is having with gods-self.  The owner, God’s judgement, is in conversation with the gardener, God’s mercy.  A debate between justified judgment CUT IT DOWN! And miraculous mercy, PUT SOME MANURE ON IT AND TEND IT!  A debate between God who gives us what we deserve (Cut it Down!) and offers us what we do not deserve (Give it more time!)  We are listening in to a struggle deep, deep within the very heart of God. (this is holy conversation)  Repent now! And There is still time!  Between these two hangs our time – the churches time.

God has the right to judge us – God has shown us what is good and right and true – he has shown us how to live – we are ultimately responsible to God.  It is our fruitfulness or lack of it that will be the judge of our faithfulness.  God has the right to judge – because God is God.  God also has the right to bestow his mercy as God sees fit because God is God.  The fig tree deserved destruction, but it is given mercy.  We deserve judgement but God offers mercy.

Listen to this Good News – God is a God who will wait and try again for our sake. Lets dig around and throw some fertilizer on this tree and see if it will produce in the future. Let’s face it most of us would cut down the fig tree – after all it is using up valuable time, space and dirt.  So throw it out and put in something useful. If God’s church is an ineffective institution, then close it down.  If a person is useless and unproductive fire them.  If someone is more trouble than they are worth then be rid of them.  But not God. God says no- let me nurture it some more and see if it will produce

Lent reminds us to let some of God’s manure change us and renew us.  It reminds us to let God dig around us and shake up the soil that keeps us stale and unproductive. This parable reminds us that the pleading of the gardener was an extension of judgement not a release from judgement.  The gardener’s proposal includes an action plan as well as a time limit. If it bears fruit next year well and good, but if not you can cut it down.

God is merciful and faithful but not indifferent to sin.  The present summons us to repent.  The future always remains open because it is God’s time not ours but we will be accountable to God.

In this parable each of us has to supply the missing conclusion.   The gardner says: “If it bears fruit next year well and good; if not you can cut it down.” The final outcome is left in our hands so to speak.  Will we bear fruit?

Are we like the fruitless fig tree.  The fig tree might have looked nice.  It might even have provided some shade and shelter and been useful – but it did not bear fruit.

As disciples of Christ we are called to be much more than nice people – we are called to be much more than good citizens – we are called to be much more than people of good moral living  – we are called to bear fruit.  We have to ask ourselves. Are we bearing fruit?

In order to answer that we have to ask another question.  What kind of fruit does God call us to produce? According to scripture we are to follow in the ways of Jesus Christ.  And what were those ways? In Luke 4 it is described this way: to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives; recovery of sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free.  Jesus told the lawyer who answered wisely that he was very near the kingdom of God, when he affirmed the Shema “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself”.  Do we bear this fruit?

Song: Amigos de Cristo (476)

Refrain: Amigos de Cristo; we’re friends of the Lord; Amigos de Cristo; we’re friends of the Lord. For we’ve been forgiven, and we’ve been restored, Amigos de Cristo; we’re friends of the Lord.

Friends of the covenant renewed each morn; baptized and loving it, we’ve been reborn. Gift of the dove is ours for evermore. Amigos de Cristo; we’re friends of the Lord.      Refrain

Born of a family, the young and old, we’ll be on hand to see new life unfold. We understand the need to be made whole. Amigos de Cristo; we’re friends of the Lord.      Refrain

Words and music: Public domain

 We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Thank you, God, for all that we have received – far more blessings than we could ever count or list.  God you do not ask us to do the impossible and repay you for the gifts – You ask us to enjoy to live  thanks- living and faithfulness – you call us to let faithful generosity abound.

Source of our lives, you have chosen us and invited us to be part of Christ’s ministry. You have given us the responsibility of offering all we can for your work. Accept, then, and bless the offering of these gifts and of ourselves as a sign of our commitment. Amen.

Response: Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;, praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Words: Thomas Ken; Music Genevan Psalter1551;last line, Ravenscroft’s Psalter 1621; both public domain.

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Transition Music: Be still and know
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am God

The author and composer of this meditative / chant-style hymn based on Psalm 46:10 are unknown.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Loving, compassionate God, you have shown us your wonderful works in all creation: the changing of the seasons, the cycles of growth and harvest, the majesty and intricacies of each creation. As part of your creation, we come before you to pray to you with our worries, concerns and needs.

We pray for those who feel overwhelmed by day to day life.  May they know your peace.

We pray for those who are tormented by chronic illness, or stricken with serious disease. May they know your healing comfort.

We pray for our friends around the world who struggle to stay alive due to war, famine or oppression. May they know your presence. Especially this day we remember the people of Ukrainian and the people of Russia.

Eternal God, be with all people everywhere: be with those who have chosen to lead.  May their minds be filled with passion for your justice.  Be with those who have chosen to care for these the lest of your children – may they be sustained by your love and assurance.

We pray for our families, our friends – and now in silence each of us lifts up our prayers for those we love.

Ever-faithful God we pray for your church.  Prune from it that which gets in the way of your good news.  Shake up its very foundation so that we may see where you are leading in today’s journey. Lord heap on your loving challenging manure.

Loving God, we pray for ourselves – help us to go forth to live in such a way that we may bring glory to your holy name in all that we do or say – all this we pray in the name of the One who came to show us life.

Song: We lay our broken world vrs 1,2,5,6  (202)

We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet,
haunted by hunger, war and fear, oppressed by power and hate.

Here human life seems less than profit, might and pride
though to unite us all in you, you lived and loved and died

We bring our broken selves, confused and closed and tired;
then through your gift of healing grace new purpose is inspired.

O Spirit, on us breathe with life and strength anew;
find in us love, and hope, and trust, and lift us up to you.

Words: Anna Briggs © Iona Community (Scotland) used by permission of GIA Publication, Inc Music: Kenneth Finlay © Broomhill Church of Scotland, Glasgow. License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: Amen, we praise your name, O God (x2)

Sing Amen, Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, we praise your name, O God!
Sing Amen! Amen, amen. Amen, amen.
Amen, we praise your name, O God!

Words: Xhosa,S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Music: S.C.Molefe © Lamko Institute,1991. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.
Annabelle Wallace retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by her. As far as Annabelle Wallace is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is her own creation or is in the public domain.
Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.