What good are you? (Lydia Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
05 February 2023 @ 10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Bob Calder & Lydia Calder
Music Director: Binu Kapadia           Vocalist: Vivian Houg
Elder: Iris Routledge

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

Lydia: Good morning, everyone.  It’s nice for Bob and I to be here this morning. , in spite of the sad circumstances that have brought us here. Bob and I are returned to the Dayspring fold this morning.  It has been many months since we’ve been at Dayspring.  Bob and I are older, hopefully, a little bit wiser, and one us is much less agile than he used to be.

About 3 days after Bob said “yes” to Brad about leading worship today he discovered an infection in his foot and was later diagnosed with a rare foot condition. So, he is not supposed to be on his feet at all.  And that is why I am leading most of the service this morning.  Bob will be doing Communion, mostly from a sitting position.

Life can be hard.  But our God is always good.  And so we come to him with hearts full of praise.

Our Call to Worship is taken from Is 58: 1-12, which will be read in a little while.

Call to Worship
L: Shout to the Lord…
P: with justice and love.
L: Cry out to God…
P: for righteousness and truth.
L: Sound the trumpet…
P: of compassion and grace.
L: Shout to the Lord…
P: with justice and love!

Opening praise: Love the Lord your God

Prayers of approach and confession

Holy God, Three in One, we come before you this day in awe of your majesty and power.  Great Creator, who illumined this world with sun and moon and stars, shine upon us this morning that we may behold your glory and glimpse your wisdom.  Blessed Redeemer, may we sense your sacrificial love flowing through us that we may be filled with your compassion and grace. Holy Spirit, breathe upon us that we may have the courage to proclaim the good news and be instruments of change in this world.

We call on you, O God, crying out for the strength to walk in your ways and live in your truth. We know that we should not turn away from the faces of pain and poverty in our community, and yet we do. We know that we should not ignore oppression and injustice in the world, but we feel so inadequate and unqualified  that we do nothing. We know that we should be crying out to you for the anguish of humanity, but selfishly whimper about our own needs instead.  Forgive our neglect. Forgive our inattention. Forgive our selfish cries.

In the name of the Saviour we pray.

Response: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Friends, God hears the confessions of our hearts and forgives generously. It is through God’s amazing grace that we are given new life, new gifts, and new purposes. Let us go forth as new people sharing God’s message of hope and love.

Song: Lord, whose love (772)

We listen for the voice of God

Scripture readings (NRSV): Isaiah: 58:1-12 and Matthew. 5:13-20

Response: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “What good are you?”

One of the things I’ve done off and on since I was in my teens is publish church newsletters.  Way back then when people used typewriters rather than word processors there was no such thing as cut and paste or changing font size. If there was a gap somewhere an editor would use a small quip or saying called a filler.

I used lot of fillers over the years, and most have been long forgotten.  But this one has stuck with me: “Some Christians are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”

That little phrase came to mind as I read today’s gospel lesson. Jesus said,  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…”

Hence, the title of today’s sermon – What good are you?

Our New Testament text today is Part 2 of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is speaking to his disciples. These teachings are based on who Christ is, what he does for us and who we are as a result. This is not generic advice on how to live a nice life. It is rooted in Christ and our identity in him.

Salt is a necessity of life and is a mineral that has been used since ancient times.  In many cultures it has multiple uses: a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and even a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify, loyalty, durability, purification, value, and usefulness. There is a lot of symbolism packed in that one 4 letter word.

Following Jesus makes us distinctly useful in the world. Walking with Christ sets us apart and makes us who we are. As we embrace that distinctiveness, we have something very special to offer. When we add salt to food we can taste the difference. In the same way Christians should add flavour to relationships, to communities, to culture.

We have a neighbour who is a Christian.  He tells people that. But whatever his personal piety may be and however he conducts himself on a Sunday morning, he rubs people the wrong way. He is opinionated, especially about politics and pushes other people to get on board with his agenda. He is critical and demanding, expecting that everyone’s yard should come up to his standards. He pits neighbours against one another in an effort to freeze certain people out.

He is more like vinegar than salt.

And while there are uses for vinegar, we are not called upon to be vinegar in this world we are called to be salt and light.

When people interact with us, can they tell there is something different about us? Like in a good way? That would be our saltiness as a Christian. The Christian faith flavors and accents our lives.

In the parallel passage in Mark 9:50 we gain a little more insight into what this saltiness is. There Jesus says: “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” Being at peace with one another–that is part of our saltiness. The world is full of conflict and strife. People bear grudges against one another and don’t let go.

But Christians are all about forgiveness and peace. God has forgiven us for Christ’s sake. So we forgive one another. God has made peace with us by the cross of Christ. So we seek peace with others.  We reflect the character of our God when we seek and make peace.

Looking at Colossians 4:6  Paul writes: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Here saltiness has to do with the way we speak. Our speech needs to be seasoned with wisdom and grace.  Because the fruit of the Spirit tempers our tongues we speak differently. We guard against harsh, angry, or unwise words. Again, this is what gives us our salty distinctiveness as disciples of Jesus.

Turning to the Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 58 the Israelites have asked of God, “Why have we fasted, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?”

Well, the answer comes, and I read here selected verses from the translation called The Message: “ The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.

Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility?

To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black?

Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?”

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.

What I’m interested in seeing you do is:   sharing your food with the hungry,   inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,   being available to your own families.

“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins… If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down and out…Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness.”

The call for social justice resounds throughout this passage in sharp contrast to empty rituals, in this case,  fasting. It also gives clear descriptions of how to create a different social environment where justice rules.

In prophetic passages like this the church today still finds its mandate to call on its own resources and on political leaders for a realistic concern for the poor, the oppressed and the homeless.  That too is the way we demonstrate our saltiness.

I don’t think many Presbyterians fast.  I certainly don’t.  But we do have certain observances and practices that we see as part of our devotion to God. And we must watch carefully that those do not become empty rituals.

As we come to Communion this morning, we need ask ourselves, “What is my saltiness quotient?”

When I was a child the preamble for communion included a line that said that those who were out of fellowship with other Christians should repair those relationships before coming to The Lord’s Table.  That line was removed, probably partly because most of us would have to excuse ourselves because there is bound to be someone we are out of sync with. And it shouldn’t be a requirement of communion anyway.

But there is food for thought there because we come confessing our sins and acknowledging our need for a Saviour.  Yet are we ourselves people of forgiveness and peace? Do our words reflect the purposes of Jesus? Do our actions work toward freeing the oppressed, welcoming the refugee, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless?

Jesus said to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” This is not a command or an instruction. He is not telling us that we should be the salt of the earth. It is simply a statement of fact. “You are the salt of the earth.” Yes, he raises the question of whether or not we are effective salt.

But there is no plan B.

Whether we like it or not…for better or for worse… we are the salt of the earth.

Song: When the poor ones (762)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Dayspring is involved in many ministries within this congregation and in the community and in the wider world.  Such work is a reflection, not just of this Christian community, but of each individual within it.

We are the salt of the earth.  We are the light of the world. Our commitment to God’s work is apparent in our attitude, in our behaviour and in our generosity.








And now let us come before God with our prayers of thanks and intercession…

Prayer of gratitude

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a constant companion every step of every day, that you see our going out and our coming in. We thank you for the work that you have provided for us and for the protection you give us on our daily journeys.  We thank you for things to do, friends to meet and all the pleasures we enjoy.  We thank you for clothes to wear, food to eat, a home from which we go out and return, and for the loved ones that bring us joy and take thought for our needs. May we never take for granted all the things which come to us so regularly each day and may we ever remember you, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Prayer for others and ourselves

Lord, Isaiah’s words continue to echo in our minds…  So we think of those who are oppressed, subjugated, victimized, people who have little power according to the world’s measurement of power. Defend the cause of the poor, deliver those in need, put an end to oppression and save those who are in harm’s way this day.

We pray for the powerful of this world, whether they be in government or in business, that they may lead with justice and compassion, choosing the common good over personal or political gain.

God of comfort and strength we pray for those… who are overwhelmed with personal darkness this day: who feel rejected or excluded because they are different; who are unemployed or burdened with financial difficulties; who are living with physical sickness that leave them in pain or dependency; who are plagued with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. We pray for those who are estranged from one another, for those who struggle to make friends and live with loneliness, for those whose homes are conflict zones.   We remember the bereaved, especially thinking of Brad Childs and his family in the loss of Roy. Please grant comfort and hope to all who mourn.

Stretch us, O God, expand our horizons that we are able to see the wonderful ways you are at work in this world. Send us out, to be the salt of the earth, to be the light of the world, that we  may work with you in bringing peace, hope, justice and grace to this world. We pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion


In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I invite to this Table all who are members of Christ’s body.

This is the Lord’s Table and belongs by right to all his people.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;

for they will be filled.” Matt.5:6.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28, 29.

Song: You satisfy the hungry heart (538)

We affirm our faith: The Apostles Creed (539)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (469)

Declaration: We come to the Lord’s supper together.

We are gathered here in the Sanctuary and via zoom from west and east, north and south.

The resurrected Jesus revealed himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread around a table.

May we see His face today as we come to the Lord’s Supper.

Communion Prayer: O God, you are before all things; You are beyond all things. In the midst of all things and all peoples you have made yourself known.

In Jesus of Nazareth, is compassion for the outcast, forgiveness for the fallen,
hope for the poor and hungry; in his life poured out for others
and broken in rejection and disdain you have made yourself known.

Therefore, we join our praises with countless men and women before us, disciples and apostles, saints and martyrs, acclaiming your power in goodness and your might in compassion.

We greet the one who comes in your name, your true light, your true love, the bread of compassion, the wine of renewal.

As he broke bread before the brokenness of his death, as he poured out wine before his blood was poured out on the cross, as he gave his life in acts of goodness, as he invited all to the feast of new hope, so come to us, Jesus, in your love.

Come to us, Holy Spirit, and let the bread and wine before us be your life in our life, nourish us with his vision of hope, and unite us in one body.

Nourish us with your brokenness.

Renew us with your poured out life.

Empower us with your strength, that we may take root in your risen life and bear fruit in your world.

You are our life;
You are our hope;
You are our peace;
And we praise you.

In Christ’s name we pray. Amen

Sharing of the bread and wine

On the night he was handed over, the night before he was crucified,
Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal.
He took the bread, and after blessing it,
he broke it, saying,
“This is my body, which is broken for you.
As often as you eat it, remember me.”

Jesus, as we take this bread, let it be a sign of all you did for us, and who you are for us.

Thank you for this bread of life. In your name we pray. Amen

Offering of the bread

The body of Christ given for you.

The bread of heaven

After sharing the bread,
Jesus took a cup of wine, and gave it to them to drink, saying,
“This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many.”

Prayer: Jesus, as we drink this cup, let it be a sign for us of all you did for us,
and who you are for us.

Thank you that you bring us peace that passes understanding.

In Jesus’ Holy name we pray. Amen

Offering of the cup

The blood of Christ, the cup of the new covenant.

The cup of salvation

Song: One bread, one body (540)

The prayer after Communion

Jesus, through your death and resurrection you reconciled the world to God, and through your example you have shown us a way to peace.

Give us strength to be channels of peace in the world, speaking your peace, living your peace, and always longing for that moment of eternal peace when we shall see you again.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Worship the Lord vs’s 1,2,4,5 (555)

Sending out with God’s blessing

You are the light of world! You are the salt of the earth!

Go, with compassion, mercy and grace. Go, with confidence, strength and hope.

Shine, for all the world to see!

And may the grace and peace of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you both now and forever more. Amen.

Response: Amen! We praise Your name, O God!

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 licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Bob Calder and Lydia Calder retain the copyright (© 2023) on all original material presented by them. As far as they are aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is their 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.