Why me, Why you? (Benjamin MacRae)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Second Sunday after the Epiphany                10:00 am January 16, 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by Benjamin MacRae
Music director: Binu Kapadia              Vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
Elder: Sam Malayang
Children’s time: Vivian Hoag

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: Everlasting God

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord X2

Our God, You reign forever, our hope, our strong deliverer. You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God. You do not faint. You won’t grow weary.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord X2

Our God, You reign forever, our hope, our strong deliverer.

You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God. You do not faint, You won’t grow weary. You’re the defender of the weak, You comfort those in need, You lift us up on wings like eagles. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,

We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord X2

Songwriters: Brenton Brown/ Ken Riley. ©2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) 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: A voice speaks to us in our dreams, beckoning, warning;
P: Are we talking with ourselves, or is God speaking to us?
L: In the night our minds wrestle with worries and hopes;
P: Could there be something holy in that?
L: In the brightness of the morning, we seek a word from God;
P: Let us be attentive to the voice of God this day. And let us worship God.

Prayers of Approach and Confession

Lord, it is with a simple abiding joy that we come together today for worship.

We give thanks, dear Lord, for all the works that you have done and continue to do;

out of that gratitude we respond in prayer, song and proclaiming the holy mystery of God’s love.

As we come to you this morning we give thanks to you for calling us into being and naming us as your children.

Out of your fullness and grace, your initiation, we stumble forward sharing in, and sharing the Gospel with others.

Lord, lend us your ear as we confess our prayers.

In so many ways, we fall short of living into the grace that you have extended towards us.

We live in broken relation with one another, conflict abounds on every level, between individuals and societies, and our relationship with creation, a creation in which we are one part and for which you sent your only begotten son, is based upon extraction and abuse.

For these trespasses, and for the trespasses that we each lift up to you,

{Short pause}

forgive us.

Response: I will trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord,
I will trust in the Lord, ‘til I die. African American spiritual public domain

Assurance of God’s forgiveness: Luke 7.48-50
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Transition: Open our eyes, Lord 445
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch him and say that we love him, Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord We want to see Jesus

Words and music: Bob Cull; © Maranatha! Music 1976; The Copyright Company Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Children’s time

Story: Receiving “Mail” from God – “Mail” that tells us “God loves us.”

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer 535

Transition music

Song: Worship the Lord vs 1-4   174

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down in reverence, God’s glory proclaim;
gold of obedience and incense of lowliness
bring now, adoring the Lord’s holy name.

Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness;
high on his heart Jesus bears it for thee,
comforts thy sorrows and answers thy prayerfulness,

guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.

Fear not to enter God’s courts in the slenderness
of the poor wealth thou wouldst reckon as thine;
truth in its beauty and love in its tenderness:
these are the offerings to lay on his shrine.

These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness,
God will accept for the name that is dear;
mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness,
trust for our trembling and hope for our fear.

Words: John S B Monsell; Music: Henry Smart. Both public domain

We listen for a Word from God

Scripture readings: Psalm 72.1-7, 10 and Ephesians 3.1-12

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

Scripture Focus Texts

Psalm 72.1-7, 10-14

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts.
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3.1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,  a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.  In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.  Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,  in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.[e] 13 I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Pre-Sermon Open Prayer

(Prayer for speaking the Gospel honestly and truly with God’s people for guidance in the words I am about to speak, to kindle a fire of learning, reforming, and attuning to the Spirit within us, thankfulness for the support of God’s people in the PCC and Dayspring Presbyterian Church and for God’s ongoing presence in Creation)

Sermon: Why me, why you?

Good morning people of Dayspring Presbyterian Church, it is such a privilege to be able to join you in worship this morning and experience the Gospel as it works within, and through, your community.

In particular I would like to thank your session for inviting me to speak with you this morning, and for the thoughtful work and ministry of your staff, volunteers, elders, and worship team.

I am thankful, as I am sure you all are, for their dedication, diligence, and high calibre of service.

They are reflections of the community that they represent and the people that they serve.

Currently, I am speaking to you from St. Andrew’s Hall, The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s college located at the University of British Columbia, both of which are founded upon the ancestral unceded territorial lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

In acknowledgement of our lives being sustained upon this territory, we give thanks to the Indigenous people of this land for their past, present, and future stewardship of this land as we work towards being right relation with one another and the Creator.

My name is Benjamin MacRae and I am a first year Master of Divinity Student at St. Andrew’s Hall, and our partner college, the Vancouver School of Theology, where I am also working towards ordination within the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

I also serve as one of two music directors at Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby, where I am also privileged to be an elder, monthly lay-preacher and congregant.

Saying this out loud still feels strange to me  as only a few years ago my life was one a very different path to the one I now find myself on.

Even though I am actively involved in church, studying at seminary, and trying to follow the path of Christ, I still ask myself “why me Lord?”

A question which I think is relevant to anyone who is attempting to follow Christ and live into the Gospel message of his life, death, and resurrection

{Pause}

About four years ago I was embroiled in undergraduate studies at Capilano University.

Like many students that came straight from high school, I was struggling to balance the pressures of friends and family and work with the financial constraints and never-ending time commitments of university life.

As I reached the half-way point of my bachelor’s degree in jazz performance and composition, I underwent a series of personal crisis’ that made my already precarious situation unmanageable.

A death in the family, the ending of several relationships in my personal life and a health issue brought my house of cards down around me.

Although I felt dysfunctional and broken, I mostly felt alone.

When practiced with love, balance and in right-relation with others, a career in the music industry can be life-giving and sustaining.

Performing, composing, and educating, (my primary areas of focus)can be amongst some of the highest expressions of praise that humans are able to share before God.

But I wasn’t at that place.

Through trial and circumstance, I was standing at the precipice of my failures, counting the trespasses against me and crying out to God, sometimes in anger, but more often in tears,

“why me?”

{Pause}

Much like Paul from today’s reading, I felt that I was the least of the saints, or as some translations read, the least of the believers,[1] if that language was even applicable.

At that point in time, I had long strayed from any church, and although I had a soft spot for having grown up in a mixed Christian-agnostic home, I brushed Christianity off as something that was irrelevant to daily life, and even if it’s Christ was interesting, that Jesus person just made no sense in the modern world, let alone my world.

It was at that time late October 2017, that I was invited by an acquaintance, the Rev. Dr. Brian Fraser, minister with Brentwood Presbyterian Church, to have my quartet come play for their weekly Wednesday evening Jazz Evensong.  I knew Brian through a few people, I needed the money, and if it was in a church, well at least I could play some music and try to make a little more sense out of the Jesus movement.

The church was not particularly full that evening, a few friends and students of mine came to see me play, what I would come to know as the usual Brentwood crew was there, and a few ragtag jazz afficionados were all present in the mix.

But looking back, it was the most important gig I’ve ever played in my life.

I don’t remember all the faces, I don’t remember all of the tunes we played or Brian’s interspersed reflections but I do remember the hospitality that I felt from the people of that – our – little church.

That night, when I felt like I had no song left to sing and the weight of the world on my shoulders, the hospitality of Brian, Pam Wong (our clerk of session), amongst others, demonstrated the peace of Christ that fills one with peace, love, and song. I’ll still never forget when Pam asked me if they might see me again, and while I was packing up she invited me to come to church the following Sunday.

I told her that although I wanted too, I couldn’t due to some of the time sensitive issues I was dealing with.

A few months later, once the immediacy of some of these issues had passed, I finally walked through the front door of our church for my first Sunday morning service in quite some time.

{Short pause}

I haven’t left since.

So, where am I going with all of this?  As I attempt to understand my own conversion and calling and wrestle with scripture as it speaks to us as God’s people in the here and now, I think that I have thus far discerned four things about being called, and claimed, by God.

1) It is of God’s initiative that we are called. 

By God’s grace towards us, we are called individually and collectively to live into the sacrifice and love of Jesus of Nazareth as the beloved children of God.

As John tells us in the prologue to his Gospel, “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”[2]

2) We are called into community with God.

As a one of my teachers at St. Andrew’s Hall and Vancouver School of Theology, the Rev. Dr. Richard Topping tells us, God is a community that exists by, and for itself.

The Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or as Karl Barth interprets the Trinity as Revealer, Revelation and Revealedness,[3] initiates and sustains all actions towards us.

3) Service to each other and before God is formation and expression of faith.

When I was still struggling with aspects of my life and estrangement from the faith, I was asked to participate in a worship service.

I wasn’t asked to profess my faith publicly, or read from scripture, but I was asked to participate and offer from my own experience and skillset as a musician.

As a church, we are called to serve one another as we are served, and serve, God.

We can talk about theology, confessions of faith and church dogmatics, but making space for new people to come into a space as they, but leave challenged by the Spirit, is at the heart of Christian mission, witness, and evangelism.

4) We serve in anticipation and participation of God’s coming Kin(g)dom.

We serve because God has called us to be partners in co-creating the coming Kin(g)dom.

This means that no act of love, small or large, is any less important to the in-breaking Kingdom of God.

As scripture teaches us, whether one is like the poor woman who gave her last coin to the synagogue,

or is a reformed persecutor of Christians turned evangelist like Paul, our actions as ambassadors of Christ carry gravitas.

We do not know who will walk through the doors of our little church, what spirit might need a place to land, or what a simple invitation to join us at church can do to a person’s life.

Because of God’s fulness towards us, because of God’s grace, we can live fully in the light of Christ, as we are called and claimed by God.

In response, through the Holy Spirit, we are tasked to share this Gospel message with all who hear it, as Paul tells us in today’s New Testament reading.

As we move on from this Sunday morning, I would encourage you to look into each of your own lives and ask yourself, “why me, Lord?”

How is God moving in your life, forming you amidst the challenges you face, being present with you?

In what ways is God challenging your preconceptions and ways of being in the world?

How is God calling you to new ways of understanding and being?

In what ways, large and small, is God asking you to serve?

In what ways, are you being formed, called, and claimed by God to serve the coming Kin(g)dom?

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Song: We have this ministry 590

We have this ministry and we are not discouraged; it is by God’s own power that we may live and serve. Openly we share God’s word, speaking truth as we believe, praying that the shadowed world may healing light receive. We have this ministry; O God, receive our living.

O Christ, the tree of life, our end and our beginning, we grow to fullest flower when rooted in your love. Brothers, sisters, clergy, lay, called to service by your grace, different cultures, different gifts, the young and old a place. We have this ministry, O God, receive our giving.

The yoke of Christ is ours: the whole world is our parish; we daily take the cross, the burden and the joy. Bearing hurts of those we serve, wounded, bruised and bowed with pain, Holy Spirit, bread and wine, we die and raise again. We have this ministry; O God, receive our loving.

Words and music: Jim Strathdee © Deseet flower Music, 1979. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Prayer of gratitude

Where can one begin, Lord, to give thanks to you from whom all blessings flow?

We give thanks for the air we breathe and the land upon which we walk, for being able to witness and praise you as we journey with our brothers and sisters.

God, who is sanctifier and redeemer of all things, we offer our thanks for placing a purpose, a ministry before us, giving our days purpose and meaning, as we embody the Gospel message in this world.

Lord, we lift up our individual praises to you as well, and we ask that you might hear the gratitude that comes from our hearts.

{Short pause}

For all of these things, we offer gratitude and thanks.

Guide us Lord, as we live into that gratitude this week, as we stretch towards sharing our gratefulness with one another and with you, our Creator.

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 that I am God.

Prayer for ourselves and others

God, as out time of worship comes to a close, please be with each of us collectively and individually

as we live through our lives and carry forth the message of your son, Jesus Christ.

Remember our hurts, traumas, fears and sorrows; remember our budding dreams, aspirations and hopes, as you walk with us this week.

In all things, we lift up our lives before you and ask that you continue to be Emmanuel, God With Us.

Lord, we also humbly ask that you continue to be with the people who have not yet heard your name in this world, that you be with the downtrodden, dispossessed and lonely people of this world.

We remember the people near and far, that struggle day by day, and we ask you to be Emmanuel to them.

Song: I, the Lord of sea and sky 592

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry. All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?                                        

Refrain: Here I am Lord, is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain. I have wept for love of them, they turn away. I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone. I will speak my word to them, whom shall I send?                                                          Refrain

I, the Lord of wind and flame I will tend the poor and lame. I will set a feast for them, my hand will save finest bread I will provide, till their hearts be satisfied. I will give my life to them, whom shall I send?  Refrain

Words and music: D. Schutte; © D. Schutte and New Dawn Music 1983 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: Matt. 28.19-20 (The Great Commission)

“…Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
Baptize them in the name of Abba God, and of the Only Begotten, and of the Holy Spirit.
Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded of you.
And know that I am with you always, even until the end of the world.”

Response: Amen, we praise your name
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!
X2

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


[1] Ephesians 3.7, The Inclusive Bible

[2] John 1.16, NRSV

[3] Barth CD 1.1; 8.1-2, p.295-333. http://www.matthewdowling.org/2013/11/blogging-with-barth-cd-11-81-82.html


Other than as noted, Benjamin MacRae holds the copyright (©2022) on the material presented in this service.

Posted in Recent Sermons.