There’s really only one, you know

Worship on the Lord’s Day
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
10:00 am, 15 January 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by John Patrick Rudolph
(material prepared by the Rev. Brad Childs)
Children’s time: Roxanne
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Fionna McCrostie
Guitarist (Prélude and Postlude): Lorraine Wheatley
Elder: Darlene Eerkes

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

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

Call to Worship
L: Listen up, everyone! God has given us work to do.
P: God has called each of us before we were even born.
L: It was God who named us.
P: It is God who claims us.
L: The light of God’s love shines in us.
P: Let’s shine God’s love into all the world!

Opening praise: Everlasting God

Prayers of approach and confession

We give you all praise, God of salvation. We come with devotion to you, Christ our redeemer. We honour you, Holy Spirit who gives us strength. Across life’s roaring seas you call us forth to follow you and bring others to you. You give us the resources to be your church and to grow in grace and faith.

We seek your face, Lord. Though you have been faithful to us, there are times we have failed you in thought and word and deed. Forgive us, when we ignore your call to service. Forgive us when we seek our own self interests and ignore the needs of others.

We confess that there have been times when we choose the easy routes rather than the right routes. But today together we say… we want to follow you more closely. Busy schedules and poor excuses will no longer get our way. Because you are our chief concern and your work on business. Help us to hear your voice amid the clamour of our hectic lives and lay down our nets to follow you in faith as the first disciples did so long ago. In the name of the one who calls us, Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Response: Glory, glory, hallelujah

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

For God spoke words of forgiveness to His people through the mouth of the prophet: “I will forgive their evil deeds and remember their sin no more.” Through God’s amazing Grace we have forgiveness.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time: Roxanne Plischke

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

 Story: And They Can Mend a Broken Heart

This is a book about how the magic of a child’s love can help a person through grief. (Independently published, May 20 2022).


The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Give us clean hands

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: 1 Corinthians 1:1–18 & John 1:29–42

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “There’s really only one you know”

Comedian Emo Philips used to tell this story. [1]

The other day I saw a man standing on a bridge about to jump to his doom.

I ran over and said, “Stop there so much to live for!”

He said, “like what”.

I said, “Are you religious or an atheist”.

He said, “I’m a Christian”.

I said “me too! Are your protestant or catholic?”

He said “Protestant”.

I said “Me too! – What franchise?”

He answered “Baptist”.

“Me too!” I spoke. “Northern Baptist or Southern?”

“Northern” he replied

“Me too!” I shouted

We continued to go back and forth like this for some time. Finally, I asked, my new friend “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879? or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912?” He replied, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912.”

I said, “Die you heretic!” And pushed him off the bridge.”

It’s strange, often it’s the people we have most in common with that make us the angriest.

When I first came to a Presbyterian Church, I was struck by this. I met a minister that belonged to the multi-faith council in Edmonton but who told me she’d never be caught dead in a Baptist church. It’s funny isn’t it. Many Presbyterians would probably feel more comfortable at an interfaith discussion with Buddhists and Muslims than they would sitting in a Pentecostal church service where they’d probably agree with about 95% of things.

There’s nothing new about this. This very problem existed in the earliest Christian churches. In the city of Corinth, the Apostle Paul was confronted with this very same issue. Corinth is interesting. It had all kinds of problems and disunity was just one of them. To be honest the church in Corinth was an absolute mess.

In Paul’s absence the people have even begun to bicker over leadership. Paul quotes one writes, “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” But what a strange thing for Paul to get angry about.

What’s Paul got against “I follow Paul”. Why would Paul be upset to hear that some people in the church see him as a model of faith.

What’s wrong with saying “I follow Apollos”? It’s not like Apollos was a false teacher or a heretic or something. He was eloquent speaker. Nothing Paul says (or anything else indicated anywhere in scripture or history) shows Apollos to be anything other than an eloquent Christian leader in the early church.

What’s wrong with saying “I follow Cephas” Peter was a part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. He is figure of strength in the Bible and an example to all of us. But more importantly what’s wrong with this last group. They say, “I follow Christ”? How on earth can that be wrong? What about this could possibly make Paul angry?

Today we live in a world of great diversity. And the fact is that this diversity is sometimes great for the cause of Christ. Though we might differ on the details, Pentecostal and Baptist churches reach people with the same cornel of faith that Presbyterians do.

If you were to go to my friend Dylan’s church “Solomon’s Porch” in Athabasca, Alberta you’d see a big bald tattoo covered guy in a kilt sitting on a stool delivering communion with potato chips and Coca-Cola. And yeah, it’s weird and it’s certainly not for me, but he reaches people for Christ that wouldn’t dare set a foot in our building – just like we reach people for Christ that wouldn’t last 1 minute in a service where people are encouraged to debate with the minister throughout the sermon.

But I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I think his people are just other parts of the body of Christ (maybe a funny part like an earlobe or a bellybutton but a part nonetheless).

More to the point. I call myself a “Calvinist.” Friends of mine call themselves “Lutherans”. To me that sounds an awful lot like “I follow Paul” and “I follow Apollos”. But again, I don’t think this is wrong either. Saying “I’m a Calvinist” helps explain some of the differences between the details of my faith and the details of others’ faith. And again, I think that’s good for the church. So, what is Paul so angry about? Is he wrong? What’s wrong with diversity?

Whatever it is that has Paul so worked up he gives us one of his most human moments in all of scripture… and I love it. He’s so mad he forgets he has baptized people in this congregation.

You see Paul didn’t really write this letter himself. He dictated it to a scribe. In fact, the only part of any letter Paul seems to have penned himself is at the end of Galatians where he signs it: “I Paul write this part with my own hand, see what large letters I use.” (Apparently Paul had really big handwriting.) See – at this time, paper (or papyrus) was actually very expensive. So as Paul is there dictating this letter, his scribe is quickly doing his best to get it all down. And in his anger Paul says, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you” and then it hits him… wait a minute, yeah, I did… (But the scribes already got it down) so he adds “except Crispus and Gaius, and then again, he realized his mistake (but again the scribe has already got that down) so he adds further “Oh Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.”

Imagine that Paul is so worked up that he can’t even remember who he has baptized and quite frankly he doesn’t even care at this point. Instead, he says, Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.”  But again, why so angry?

In his book Stories that feed your Soul,[2] famed minister Tony Campolo recalls the following story. He writes, “I was driving through the town of Mount Joy, looking for the Church of God where I was scheduled to speak but couldn’t find it. Knowing I needed help I stopped at a gas station, where I asked the attendant if he knew where the Church of God was.

In a slow drawl the attendant answered, “I knew the Presbyterian had a church in this town and I knew the Methodist had one” but I wasn’t aware that God had one.” Amused by his one answer Campolo recalls the strange sad looked on the man’s face as he added “There’s really only one you know.”

Well, the man was right. We all get too caught up in our differences. And when we focus on those differences our critics mock us because they see those man-made differences that separate us, when they should see the God that unifies us despite our differences.

E Stanley Jones once said, “Talk about what you believe, and you will have disunity. Talk about who you believe in, and you will have unity.”

Make no mistake about it. We’re not all the same and we do believe very different things sometimes. And those differences are often important. I am a proud Calvinist and a proud Presbyterian because I think these distinctions are important. And I don’t think Paul would have a problem with that.

What angers Paul is not that some say they follow him or that others say they follow Peter or Apollos. It doesn’t bother him that some say they follow Christ. There is nothing wrong with saying “I follow Christ”.

The problem in Corinth is arrogance. Some say they follow Paul in order to prove their superiority and in response some counter with Apollos and others Peter (each one trying to one-up each other and show their own self-importance). And it doesn’t bother Paul that some say they follow Christ. He hopes all would say that. It bothers him that they would use the Son of God like a pawn in a silly game as if “I follow Christ” is the ultimate trump card to prove your point.

Oh, you follow Paul they say… that’s nice. Well, I follow Christ! This is what angers Paul. It’s not the diversity… it’s disunity… it’s arrogance.

So maybe you are from the “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879. Or maybe it’s the Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912.” Maybe you’re a Calvinist, maybe you’re not sure or maybe you just don’t care. Well fine by me. Because what’s most important is that we recognize that the old man at the gas station understood just what Paul understood.

As far as Christian churches go “There’s really only one you know.” Amen.

Song: Revelation Song

We respond to serve God

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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

 Prayer of gratitude

Generous God, from you comes every good and perfect gift. Receive these gifts, Lord, as signs of our desire to hear your voice and follow. Grant that they be used to bring your Good News to others and further your Kingdom on earth. In the name of Christ our Lord and saviour we pray.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Name above all others, who can probe the depths of your wisdom? Who can attain the height of your vision? Your goodness surrounds us like the waters of the ocean.

Your mercy envelops us as the sun warms our days. You bring order out of chaos, command discipline across a diverse and changing world, and offer forgiveness with the promise of new life. You stoop down to us as a mother bends to lift up her child. You lend an ear to our needs and hear our cries for help.

Merciful Lord, hear us now as we pray silently together for the needs of people all around the world and in our own backyards.


Lord hear our prayers, Amen.

Song: You are holy, you are whole (828)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go now in peace and serve Christ with your whole being.
May your ears hear his calling.
May your feet walk the path he set before you.
May your eyes seek the lost and lonely.
May your hands reach out in care.
And may your voice speak love and truth and mercy.

Response: The Blessing

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 specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material prepared by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.


[2] Published by Regal (Sept. 13 2010)

Posted in Recent Sermons.