Wait and See – Acts 5: 27 – 42 (Annabelle Wallace)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am August 22, 2021
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by The Rev. Annabelle Wallace
Piano, Flute & Recorder: Dorothy Beyer
Song Leader: Lynn Vaughan
Children’s Time: The Rev. Annabelle Wallace
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: Forever God is Faithful

Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King
His love endures forever,
For He is good, He is above all things
His love endures forever

Sing praise, sing praise

With a mighty hand and outstretched arm
His love endures forever
For the life that’s been reborn
His love endures forever

Sing praise, sing praise; sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong
Forever God is with us, forever and ever; forever

From the rising to the setting sun
His love endures forever,
By the grace of God, we will carry on,
His love endures forever

Sing praise, sing praise; sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong
Forever God is with us, forever and ever; forever

Songwriter: Chris Tomlin © Universal Music Publishing Group. 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: We come with confidence into God’s presence.
P: God’s Word is here to equip us.
L: We come with confidence into God’s presence.
P: God’s forgiveness is here to set us free.
L: We come with confidence into God’s presence.
P: God’s Spirit is here to lead us.
L: We come with confidence into God’s presence.

Prayers of approach and confession

Creator God, creating still, you have made us your people. You call us to be together and to live in a covenant relationship with you. You say to us, “I love you” We are precious and chosen to be a light to the nations. You lift us when we have fallen. You set us right where we have gone astray. You give us exciting news to tell. Your gifts are beyond our expectations. Bless us with your presence as we open ourselves to your direction for our life and our world

God, we confess that we have not always loved others as you have loved us. We confess that we have not always been generous with others as you have been generous with us. We confess that we have not always forgiven others as you have forgiven us. We confess that we are not always willing to listen for the leading of our spirit as we do your work. By the power of your love, transform us. Give us compassionate hearts, faithful minds and joyful spirits. In Christ’s name. Amen

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s Love

The power of God’s love to change us and our church goes far beyond all we could ask or imagine. Trust the transforming power of God, know that you are forgiven  and be at peace. In Christ’s name, we are a forgiven people.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Transitional Music: Open our eyes, Lord

Story (Ephesians 6: 10 – 20)

Paul says that for Christians, there is only one really important battle and that is not a battle between people. It is a battle against powers we cannot see, but which mess up everything and do serious damage to individuals, families, and communities.

He used the armor of a Roman Soldier to tell us how to dress. But you know what I learned those Roman soldiers could not dress themselves – they needed help to put on all that stuff.

And I thought – Whoo! That is good for us to know.  Many of you are going to be going back to school and need help to dress in order to fight the evil powers you might meet like selfishness, meanness, jealousy, bullying, greed.

So your parents, and the church are teaching you how to dress and are helping you to dress to make your world safe for everyone.  Maybe today we would say

– put on the hoodie of love

– put on the belt kindness

– put on the jeans of honesty

– put on the shoes of caring – being a good friend

The Lord’s Prayer

Song: I’m gonna live so God can use me

I’m gonna live so God can use me
anywhere, Lord, anytime!
I’m gonna live so God can use me

Anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna work so God can use me
anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna work so God can use me
Anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna pray so God can use me
anywhere, Lord, anytime!
I’m gonna pray so God can use me
Anywhere, Lord, anytime! 

I’m gonna sing so God can use me
anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna sing so God can use me
anywhere, Lord, anytime!

Words: African-American spiritual © public domain
Music: African-American spiritual Wendell Whalum © the estate of Wendell Whalum

Scripture readings                      
Psalm  15                             OT(NRSV)
Acts 5:27-42                         NT(NRSV)

Response: His truth is marching on            

Message: “Wait and See” (Acts 5: 27 – 42)

Despite being told by the religious authorities not to preach, Peter and John continued to preach in the temple at Jerusalem. They were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by this council of the Jews. Most of the council members were Sadducees, members of the priestly party, but among them was the Pharisee Gamaliel, a man known for his wisdom and tolerance. Some think that Gamaliel might have been a grandson of the great rabbi Hillel; a figure still revered by Jews today.

The council meeting was called to deal with the problem of Peter and John and others who persisted in declaring that Jesus who was crucified was alive.  They persisted in teaching the same things that the rabble-rouser Jesus taught. As we read, Gamaliel advised the council not to prosecute the disciples. He pointed out that other recent prophetic movements among the Jews had just faded away. So this new movement might very well disappear too, he said and its followers also might be scattered. Leave it alone and wait and see.

“If it is of God,” he added, “you will not be able to overthrow them.” Since Gamaliel was widely respected, his colleagues took his advice and released the apostles, but only after they had beaten them.

Gamaliel’s statement comes from the teachings of the Pharisees.  They taught that when there are divergent versions of the truth, both sides should be heard and recorded; neither side should be suppressed.

We do not learn anything about Gamaliel in the Bible but book I was researching said that “Some of Gamaliel’s legal opinions survive in the compendium of debates that make up the Jewish Talmud, like Hillel and like his own grandson, also named Gamaliel, he was a leader of the liberal wing of the Pharisees, Rabbis who distanced themselves from the strictest interpretations of the Law.

A number of Gamaliel’s legal decisions are prefixed by the words “for the benefit of humanity”. Several of these were designed to better the situation of women, among them one permitting a widow to remarry, even if only one witness appeared to testify that her husband was deceased, and another preventing husbands from divorce proceedings without their wives’ knowledge.

The only other mention of Gamaliel in the Bible is in Paul’s testimony that he had been a student of his. “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the ancestral law.” (Acts 22: 3)

So Gamaliel is just a bit player in the big drama of the spread of the Gospel.  We hardly notice him.  After all he is just mentioned in two little verses.  But we can learn a lot from him.

“Wait and see.”  Wait and see if it is of God.  What good advice.  If we follow this advice we release ourselves of the self-imposed job of making sure everything is right with the world.

“Wait and see means that we take the responsibility for the saving of the world out of our hands and but it back in God’s hands where it belongs.  It is God that directs our world not we humans with our limited vision and incomplete understanding.  We may have various scientific theories and scientific discoveries but we still do not know the whole picture.  God is the one who will bring creation to its completion. We try things but it is God who will let us know if we are on the right track.  If it is of God there is no holding back.  It will flourish and bring life.  “Wait and see.”  If however our plans and projects bring death, disunity, inequality, injustice – these are big clues that it is not of God. “Wait and see if it is of God” it will bring life and flourish.

“Wait and see” means that the self-imposed responsibility that we place on our self, for the success of the church is off of our shoulders. The flourishing, the success of the church is God’s responsibility.  We are the ones called to serve.  We try, we do, we talk, we restructure, we organize and then we watch to see if we are going in the same direction as God. If it is of God there is no way to stop it.  People might hinder, it might be slow, it might be an uphill battle but they cannot overcome God. Westmount example.

“Wait and see” means that our job is to listen and ask is this action bringing life? Is it of God? It removes the self-imposed responsibility that we sometimes take on – thinking that we must protect the church from the world and from change. The world is our mission, change is our life. God is always on the move. Watch for signs! Is it moving forward?  Is it bringing unity?

“Wait and see” means that there are more opinions in the world than our own. When we have a plan or an idea we sometimes get carried away with imposing it on others.  We try so hard to persuade people that `this’ is the only way; `this’ is what we all need.  We get so wrapped up in our own opinions and getting everybody on board with us that it becomes our full time job – to bend everyone to our way.  Listen to Gamaliel. “If it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them.” We just need to share the idea, the vision, and the hope and then sit back and wait and see if it is of God. Wait and see means that we do not force a truth we seek the truth.

“Wait and see” – does not mean a passive life. We are still called to plan and to vision and to organize and have a willingness to try different things and wait and see where it goes.  When we wait and see we will discover when to let go of the plan because it is going nowhere or it has reached the end of its usefulness. To wait and see is to put things back in God’s hands and ourselves back in God’s service.

To wait and see means that we will develop patience with God.  It will remind us that we are a very small spec on the time line of God’s unfolding drama. In fact we may never see the results of our decisions, or plans, or visions – God’s plan is much longer than our life span.

To wait and see is to become a person of patience with others, with God, with God’s unfolding drama.  It is to believe that God is active and leading us in the present and into the future.

Gamaliel was a bit player in the action of the early church.  But his faithful statement tells us so much. As you seek a new call to ministry remember Gamaliel “Wait and see” is God acting yet?

Let’s make Gamaliel our patron saint, look for God’s action in life – and take your cue from God – not yourselves.

Song: In the bulb there is a flower       

In the bulb there is a flower,
In the seed, an apple tree,
In cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

 There’s a song in every silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
Bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

 In our end is our beginning,
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

Words and music: Natalie Sleeth; © 1986, Hope Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Your gifts O God, take our breath away! You have given us food and drink and shelter. You have given us the warmth of family and joy within the family of faith. You have given us life itself, and the freedom to make life good. You have given us purpose and your presence to carry out our calling. We cannot thank you enough but we bring these gifts as a sign of our thankfulness, and we know you will bless them and us. Amen

Response: Now thank we all our God

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue 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 contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

For those of you in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelops 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

Prayer for Others and Ourselves

Merciful God, we come before you in prayer with many concerns on our minds. WE bring them before you Lord, because you are gracious and loving, and we trust in the answers you give.

We pray for all the people – so many – who are living with horrific conditions due to war and natural disasters. Help us to remain strong in our resolve to help all those in need.  Help us not to give up in the face of so much.

God of healing, we offer our prayers for those who are in hospital at this time, for those who are awaiting or are in the midst of treatment, for those in the midst of recovering from illness, those struggling with mental anguish and depression. Those limited in movement and function and unable to live as they once did. And we pray for all those who selflessly offering healing and comfort to these your people.

God of new life and wholeness we pray for those who act out in violence and cruelity – may they experience forgiveness and love and new life. May our structures and institutions find ways to bring about healing and wholeness to those who are broken and lost.

Be with those who are victims of crime and violence – comfort, strengthen and heal them with your grace.

God of continuing faithful ness we pray for the work of your church throughout the world. Open us to your leading. Guide us in your directions. Empower us with the strength to follow where you lead.

We pray for teachers and students as they return to learning for a new year. May minds continue to be challenged and communities continue to grow in unity.

God of past, present and future we put our trust in you and await your answers and directions. We pray in the words of Jesus Christ.

Song: Arise, your light is come        

Arise, your light is come!
The Spirit’s call obey;
show forth the glory of your God
which shines on you today.

Arise, your light is come!
Fling wide the prison door;
proclaim the captive’s liberty,
good tidings to the poor.

Arise, your light is come!
All you in sorrow born,
bind up the brokenhearted ones
and comfort those who mourn.

Arise, your light is come!
The mountains burst in song!
Rise up like eagles on the wing;
God’s power will make us strong.

Words © Ruth Duck, 1974 Music: William Walter: descant © Diana McLeod, 1995. 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

Response: Amen, we praise your name

Postlude

(Zoom breakout rooms)

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”   Jesus


Annabelle Wallace retains the copyright on all original material presented by her. As far as we are aware, all of the material presented is Annabelle Wallace’s own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

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Posted in Recent Sermons.