Truth is stranger than fiction (Jacqueline Cleland)

We gather to worship God
21 November 2021    10:00 am     Reign of Christ Sunday
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Message and Children’s Time: Jacqueline Cleland (on ZOOM)
Interim Moderator: William Ball
Music director: Binu Kapadia                  Vocalist:: Linda Farrah-Basford
Elder: Jan Ray Moncada

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: 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!

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

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: Friends, we know what God desires of us:
P: That we do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
L: We gather this morning to remind each other about that,
P: To remember that now is always the right time to do these things.
L: So with thanks in our hearts, let us worship God.

Prayers of approach and confession

God of healing love, we confess that we look for you in all the wrong places. We look for you in the places of earthly power and material gain. We look for you with the faulty assumptions that we know your will and we know how to take action.  We assume we have figured out how you work. Because of these faulty assumptions, we overlook moments of your grace and love. We miss out on seeing your glory. We fail to join with you as partners on your mission of Salvation. Please heal us from our spiritual blindness to lead us to walk your path of truth and reconciliation as we silently confess our sins to you.

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God (x3)

Assurance of God’s Pardon: (PCC BCW)

Remember the promise Apostle Paul declares: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Hardship? Distress? Peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the God who loves us. Let us rejoice that, no matter what is happening around us, no matter what we have done, God’s deep love will never let us go.”

Reaffirmation of faith and welcome of new member, Romulus Rhoad

The Lord Bless you/Aaronic blessing
The Lord bless you and keep you,
the Lord make his face shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you his peace.

Words: traditional © public domain; Music Lowell Mason © public domain

We listen for the voice of God

Gradual: 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…x 2;

The Bible tells me so.

Words: Anna Bartlett © Mrs. Cherie MGuire; Music: William Bradbury 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

Children’s time

Good morning to the youth and those young at heart. It is my absolute pleasure to be with you all this morning. It is slightly later morning for you, but the truth is it is still morning for us right now.

Today we are leaning into what is the truth. Now the truth can be defined in many ways.

What do you describe as the truth? …

I did not hear any incorrect answers among those!

Google describes the truth as that which is accurate or in accordance with fact or reality.

Yet, I find that poetry can teach us more than google. Let’s look at the video to learn more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXiGaV8tY5M

Prayer: As we conclude this time, let us bow our heads in prayer:
Dear Creator,
Thank you today for creating the elephants, for the beautiful, unique qualities that make up each creature on earth.  Thank you for knowing we struggle to see the full picture you paint and for sending us Jesus to light the way. For Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May we be blessed with the truth of Christ, now and forevermore. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song: Word of God, across the ages
Word of God, across the ages
comes your message to our life,
source of hope, forever present
in our toil and fears and strife,
constant witness to God’s mercy,

still our grace, whate’er befall,
guide unfailing, strength eternal,
offered freely to us all.

Story of our wondrous journey
from the shadows of the night,
garnered truth of sage and prophet,
guiding forward into light,

words and deeds of Christ our teacher,
pointing to the life and way,
still appealing, still inspiring,

in the struggles of today.

In the tongues of all the peoples
may the message bless and heal,
as devout and patient scholars
more and more its depths reveal.
Bless, O God, to wise and simple,
all your truth of ageless worth,
till all lands receive the witness
and your knowledge fills the earth.

Words: Ferdinand Blanchard © 1953 renewal 1981 by the Hymn Society, used by permission of Hope Publishing Co. Music Franz J Haydn © public domain. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream

Scripture readings

Daniel 7:9-10     OT(NRSV)

9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place,     and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

His clothing was as white as snow;  the hair of his head was white like wool.

His throne was flaming with fire,  and its wheels were all ablaze.

10 A river of fire was flowing,  coming out from before him.

Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated, and the books were opened.

John 18: 33-37     NT(NRSV)

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters[a] again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Response: Glory to the Father
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now,
and will be forever Amen, amen, amen

Words: trad.; music: J. Weaver 1978 Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayer for illumination

O God, your thoughts are not our thoughts, your ways are not our ways. So, guide us by your Word and Spirit, and open our minds and hearts to your truth, speaking through the scriptures. By that truth, may our thoughts and our ways become a greater reflection of yours. Amen.

Message: “Truth is Stranger than Fiction”

What is truth?

That is something I tend to struggle with lately. When I look up truth, it tells me a noun, and it is a quality or state of being true. To be true is to be in accordance with fact or reality. So, there is a very limited range of truth. So, the truth should be clear and evident to everyone, right?

Yet, we are in a time of unprecedented fake news and alternative facts. Before this last decade, those were not words that I had ever heard in that combination. The news was to be well researched, trustworthy and factual. Facts were indisputable.

Raise of hands of who here grew up with those some assumptions.

Yet there is a rise of fake news, maybe even from our hands the last few decades.

Fake News may take many different forms, but the essential element is always that it is wholly or partially false. It may be an urban legend, rumour, poorly sourced writing, deliberate misinformation, or intended as humour or parody. As consumers of the information, it is our responsibility to evaluate news sources for credibility, authority, and purpose, both for your own information needs and to prevent you from accidentally sharing fake news with others.

In this world, we are bombarded daily with an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. Let me say that again; we get advertisements at a rate estimated at 6,000 to 10,000 every single day.

6,000 to 10,000 every single day.

Take a moment and wonder how much that subliminal messaging impacts you and how much that shapes your view of the world. In the midst of all the noise and distractions of this world, we can find it really hard to hear the voice of truth.

So in this bible passage, the truth is kind of hard to see sometimes. In this passage, it looks like Pilate is the most powerful man in the story. I mean, he was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from the year 26/27 to 36/37 AD. Ostensibly the most powerful man in the city.

That is the truth, right? I can google and fact-check his reign on google. They will additionally tell me that he was a knight of the Samnite clan of the Pontiac. Hence the name Pontius.

Yet this supposedly powerful man was at the whims of the community. See, at the beginning of his career, he had gotten off to a dissatisfactory start with the Jewish people. He hung worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and had coins bearing pagan religious symbols minted. Not only that, but he had offended the Jews by raiding the temple treasury and displaying idolatrous symbols.

God’s chosen, the Jewish people, who are not a primary character in this scripture reading, are holding a place of power over Pontius. He finds himself obligated to shuttle back and forth between the accused and the accusers, thus revealing the Jews’ power over him. A Jewish revolt would cause Pilate’s leadership to be called into question, so he finds himself under pressure to meet their demands.

So the truth is that the Jewish people are the most influential in this story?

I mean, they were so confident of their power and sway that they did not even enter “didn’t enter into the Praetorium (Pilate’s headquarters), that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover” (v. 28). They are bent on killing an innocent man but are meticulous about ritual defilement. They are so bent on killing Jesus that when Pilate asks the nature of the charge against Jesus, they specify no charges but answer only, “If this man weren’t an evildoer, we wouldn’t have delivered him up to you” (v. 30).

If Pilate was indeed the powerful one in this story, he should have released Jesus. When he suggests that the Jewish leaders judge Jesus according to their laws, they respond, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death” (v. 31)—making it clear that their goal is Jesus’ death—and that they expect Pilate to be their executioner.

I can not find direct evidence of the Jewish people controlling Pontius Pilate, but I can see the indirect fact that supports that notion.

So how do I figure out the truth of who is the most influential person in this room because growing up I was taught that Jesus was the most powerful, but I can’t see any facts that support that in this instance. It feels a bit like fake news.

So what is truth?

Is snow white? Is wool white? Does fire flame? Can wheels be ablaze? Can a river flow? How can I tell if a book was open?

Some would say it is a simple truth is an observation. You perceive reality and experience it. You know something is true when you personally experience it. It could be argued that there is no other way to be sure of something being true. You need proof. But what is proof? The proof is based on recorded observations ( aka truth) . A proof is an arrival at a logical conclusion based on what we observe and know to be true. Yet this can go sideways if our assumptions are incorrect.

These incorrect assumptions are what happens when we try to generalize. So we need to have these observations occurring at multiple repetitions. While you experience something, it is valid only within that condition. Unfortunately, people rarely like to change their minds, so if the facts do not fit their preconceived notions, they are dismissed.

Humanity has a preconceived notion that if they have a lack of power that they are in a dangerous situation and must do everything to protect themselves. Humanity has a preconceived idea that they must look out for themselves. Humanity has a desire to believe that if they follow all the rules that things will turn out to be okay. Humanity believes that it is under attack if you challenge those preconceived notions.

Jesus challenged humanity’s preconceived notions. In the chapter of John, Jesus challenges preconceived notions of what is possible seven times.

These 7 times or signs are:

Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 – “the first of the signs”

Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54

Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15

Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14

Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24

Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7

The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

In the world, we are bombarded daily from what feels like the dawn of time that we need to gain the power to defend ourselves. That we need to look out for ourselves and a select group of people, that everything is logical and rule-based so we play by the rules, and many learn to cheat the rules to come out as a winner. We are told that if someone challenges us that it is an attack.

We are told these messages up to 6,000 to 10,000 times a day directly and indirectly.

In each instance, our gut reaction seems to be to seek power to threaten people with a version of hurt, so they do not hurt us.

Yet to paraphrase Avatar Aang “True power is the ability to hurt people and choosing not.”

In light of that quote, who has the true power in this bible passage?

Jesus

Jesus Christ has the true power in that passage. We know Jesus can change water into wine, can heal flesh wounds, can cure paralysis, can feed thousands, can walk on water, can heal someone blind and bring people back from the dead. Jesus is more powerful than all the people in the Bible combined. Yet Jesus does not choose to hurt them.

Jesus chooses to heal instead.

In a world of fake news and alternative facts, Jesus simply states that he was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.

So what is the miraculous truth that Jesus is coming to share? The basic truth is that God is love. God loves the world created so much that God sent his own Son to save it.

No to save it through fighting, murder or power struggles, but to save it through love.

The truth is that Jesus died by all accounting of our facts and that others survived past him. Or did they when living a life based on fear and death that is how many people ended their life.

Did you know how Pontius Pilate died? In the end, he was called Rome to stand trial for cruelty and oppression, particularly on the charge that he had executed men without proper trial. According to Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, Pilate killed himself on orders from the emperor Caligula.

The Jewish leaders and elders that hoped to have a lasting impact on earthly matters are mostly forgotten.

God taught us that even when the world seems more powerful, that even when politics seem to be against us. To act in love.

The love of Christ is what continues on from the end of the days and inspires us even now.

We are powerful in Christ, powered and charged to act in love. We know that we can try and follow the rules and to act with out love but with in legislation. The Jews followed the rules and “didn’t enter into the Praetorium (Pilate’s headquarters), that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover” (v. 28). They also did not kill Jesus because “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death” (v. 31)

Here is the thing, these statements are not anti Semitic because we are the Jews in the story. We can all want to follow the rules and learn how to bend them to get ahead. Humanity has a history of doing that no matter the religion.

Yet Jesus tells us that the true power is love.

Acting in God’s love will help bring about a new world. Now and forever.

Amen.

Song: Follow me, the Master said
‘Follow me,’ the Master said:
we will follow Jesus.
By his word and Spirit led,
we will follow Jesus.
Still for us he lives to plead,
at the throne will intercede,
offers help in time of need;
we will follow Jesus.

Should the world and sin oppose,
we will follow Jesus.
He is greater than our foes;
we will follow Jesus.
On his promise we depend;
he will hear us and defend,
help and keep us to the end;
we will follow Jesus.

Though the way may dark appear,
we will follow Jesus.
He will make our pathway clear;
we will follow Jesus.
In our daily round of care,
as we plead with God in prayer,
with the cross which we must bear,
we will follow Jesus.

Ever keep that end in view;
we will follow Jesus. A
All his promises are true;
we will follow Jesus.
When this earthly course is run,
and the Master says, ‘Well done!’
life eternal we have won;
we will follow Jesus.

Words and music: anonymous and public domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Dear Lord God, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, Thank you for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. For the salvation that you have brought to and for the sins you have freed us from. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Family in Faith, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.

Response: Praise God from whom all blessings flow

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.

Response: Be still and know that I am God

Words and music: anonymous and public domain

Prayer for others and ourselves (edited from PCC BCW)
Holy One, the Source, Story and Spirit of Truth and Love,
We praise you for the signs of your reign among us:
For hope overcoming despair, trust rising above hurt, love prevailing over hatred, and peace restoring harmony after discord.

God of Hope Beyond Fear,
We pray that you will comfort this broken world.
May the vision of your peaceable kingdom take root— in your church, in our families, in our community, and in countries marked by violence and struggles for power.

God of Wholeness Beyond Fracture,
We pray for a world where differences are overcome by understanding, and everyone can find a place of dignity and respect.
Shape our hearts soft with the kindness of your Spirit so that all our relationships honour your image in each person, and our actions and attitudes help you mend the world you love.

God of Mercy Beyond Measure,
We pray for a world where our enemies are blessed, and everyone can be a tool for a safer and in unity of community.
Open minds and hearts that have experienced disagreement to mutual understanding. and refresh all who are tired out
We pray for our fellow church member, Bob Burrell, who left to join you in heaven.

God of infinite understanding,
We pray now that you hear the prayers on our hearts that we are not able to articulate in this moment. Bless us now with a vision of the future you will create for us, with us and through us, in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour, Amen

Song: I heard the voice of Jesus say
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one,
lay down thy head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary, worn, and sad;
I found him in a resting place,
And he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one,
stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto me; thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk
till traveling days are done.

Words: Horatius Bonar © public domain; Music: Ralph Vaughn Williams; © Oxford University Press Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing
Bless us today with eyes to see God’s truth, hearts to love God’s truth and hands to work to build a world filled with God’s love.

Response: Go forth into the world (X2)
Go forth into the world,
rejoicing in the power of the Spirit,
thanks be to God, thanks be to God,
thanks be God, Amen

Words: traditional. Music: Natalie Sleeth. Arr:Gord McCrostie

Music postlude

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”   Jesus


Jacqueline Cleland retains the copyright on the prayers, Children’s Time, and Message prepared for this service except as noted in the text. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.