Your cheque book (Brad Childs)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost    07 Aug 2022    10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music Director: Binu Kapadia           Vocalist: Fionna McCrostie
Elder: Sam Malayang

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

Call to Worship
L: The Lord call us today to be people of justice and mercy.
P: Our worship is hollow if it focuses only on our own gratification.
L: The Lord asks that our words of hope become actions of peace.
P: Thanks be to God who challenges us and calls us.
L: Let our ministry together bring peace and justice.
P: Let our lives reflect God’s love and mercy. Amen

Opening praise: Great are You, Lord

Prayers of approach and confession

God of the yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we come before you with reverence and in awe. We come in sorrow and we come in joy. Each of us comes here from different places in life, from a different head space, from different lives – yet we, all of us, come together here as one body. We come learn-ed and also ready to learn (from you and from each other). We come as equals and we come as servants to the servant.

As the Psalmist says, “How magnificent is your creation”; you created a galaxy-studded universe and still remember the yearnings of our hearts.  Ongoing creation, goodness, beauty, joy and peace all belong to you. A new kind of Kingdom is being made if only we will open our eyes to it and open our lives to help see it come to fruition. We come to worship you and we come with a great desire to walk with you into our future and into the mysterious plans you prepared for us. But before we move forward we seek to make ourselves right with you. And so we come boldly admitting that we are redeemed sinners, imperfect and flawed (though you choose to see us in a better light).

God of mercy, you call us to serve others, but we often serve only ourselves. Not always – but too often. You call us to seek justice and rescue the oppressed, but we are overwhelmed by the challenge and a lot of the time just too fearful and too busy to take action.  We forget the power our contributions make when we pile them together. You beg us to defend the orphan and plead for the widow, (your scripture pounds it home literally hundreds of times but our human laws often allow the corrupt and powerful to prosper at the expense of the poor and marginalized. And as for your word we tend to focus more on our favorite sins which always coincidentally belong to others and not our selves. We see the speck in another’s eyes while painstakingly we ignore the plank in our own.

God, you know the darkest secrets of our hearts, truths that we are reluctant to admit even to ourselves. Lord for the sins and offences of our past, the ones previously confessed let us know in the depths of our being that we need not ever remember them. But for the sins unconfused let us know guilt for this important moment.

So that in this moment of silence we might strive to remember our misdeeds.

[silence]

And now Lord we offer all those things up to you, and ask that you forgive, cleanse and renew us just as you have promised to do… Amen.

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord. I believe in the empowering Spirit. And I believe in a Father that is the God of unconditional love. So I believe when our God said through the prophets “Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Know, with every fibre of your being, that God loves you, God forgives you, and God sees you as an innocent child. Thank be to God; Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Hymn: For the beauty of the earth (434)

Scripture readings: Genesis 15:1-6 and Luke 12:32-40

Response: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “Your cheque book”

As the story goes, on a very hot and humid Atlanta Georgia afternoon (that is to say – a typical one), a young man had just been involved in an incredibly terrible accident; while driving his brand new Mercedes SLK AMG… once a quite spectacular thing of beauty. When the policewoman arrived, she found the young man standing next to a $225,000 scrap heap; mumbling to himself: “My Mercedes, Oh my Mercedes!”

Looking at the young man the policewoman knew right away there was a much, much bigger problem. “Sir you’re in shock”, she said trying her best to calm him down. And then she leaned in and said five words she never in her life thought she was ever utter… “Your… left… arm… is… missing.” At that, (once again) as the story goes… the young man stopped and looked down where his left arm should have been. “No!” he screamed. “My Rolex, to my Rolex”.

It’s funny because it’s true… and it’s sad because it’s true. Sometimes our priorities get a little messed up.

For those of you that are book people – I love Joseph Heller (and I love David Sedaris). Getting signed copy of a first edition from either is on my bucket list (God Knows and Catch 22 are at the top). But Walden (thoughts on Walden Pound) is probably the most amazing book ever written (outside of Genesis – I love the Toledoth formula of the first 12 chapters in Hebrew – there is nothing as complex to have ever existed).

But Walden… In it, Henry David Thoreau writes, “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” For me – that is one of the most simplistic and yet poignant sentences in all of literature. Its right up there with Shakespeare’s fictional Caesar saying of his betrayers “et tu brute” “and [even] you too Brutus”. But oddly enough I think Chuck Pal-ahn-iuk’s fictional character Tyler Durden said it best in the book and later the film Fight Club when he said, “The things you own – end up owning you.”

In our reading from Luke today Jesus tells the people not to worry too much about earthly things which ultimately cannot last. The portion read today directly follows a story about a man that had so much he had to build more barns to hold it. His plan was the often misquoted “eat, drink and be merry”. Which in the Bible (despite popular use) is actually a bad thing. In response God basically just says to the man, “You can’t take it with you.”

Here Jesus says basically the same thing. He begins, 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” He’s about to tell them something they are going to have difficulty with. And he wants to reassure them that everything’s going to be alright.

Then he gets right down to it. The left hook. He says, 33 “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

F.F. Bruce of Princeton Theological Seminary has called this one of the “Hard Sayings” of Jesus. As he puts it, when someone preaches about this passage it’s just as important to let people know what this verse doesn’t mean as it is to let them know what it does mean.

So what doesn’t it mean? Well, first off, it doesn’t mean that in God’s kingdom the lazy get to live off the fat of the middle class. The translation I read from says simply “give to the poor” but the Greek is more specific than that. It says to pay El-Eh-Ma-Soon-Eh ἐλεημοσύνη [eleēmosynē] which is a gift given at the Temple and is meant primarily to be given to care for widows and orphans or farmers struck by famine.

In fact, 2Thess. 3:10 says “If a man shall not work, neither shall he eat.” In other words it’s not just – randomly – give to the poor. It’s help people in real need. And strangely enough most theologians agree that Jesus’ words here are less about taking care of the poor (though he says that elsewhere and often) but more about getting into the practice of habitually paying alms as a way of self-denial and showing one’s trust for God’s future provision. That’s why he starts by saying “Don’t be afraid”. What he means is… don’t be afraid to give to people with real needs and they won’t be afraid to give to you when you really need it.

This passage also doesn’t mean that Christians should be all about bashing the rich. Hopefully this isn’t a surprise for you but God is not anti-wealth. Think about that for a second. Solomon was the richest man who had ever lived. David (the man “after God’s own heart”) was rich. Abraham (or Abram – from our reading today) was rich. Let’s face it money is morally neutral.  When people talk about dirty money – they have no idea what they are talking about! It’s what we do with it that makes it good or dirty.

And just as a side note… I know people say “Money doesn’t buy happiness”… Well maybe – I’ll tell you a little secrete. Money buys Ferrari’s and I’ve never in my life seen a person in a million dollar supercar with a sad look on their face! God is not anti-money. Contrary to what people think the Bible never says money doesn’t buy happiness. And it doesn’t say “money is the root of all evil” either. It does say, “The love of money is the root of all evil” or as one translation puts it “The obsession with money is the root of all evil.” But God’s not anti-money.

But what God is?… God is anti-greed. That’s why he says, “pay alms.”

God is also anti idol-worship. That’s why Jesus starts this whole speech with “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”

And God never says, “Hey Everybody, Sell Everything You Have.” That’s not what this passage says. This is not the story of the Rich young ruler. That story is told in chapter 18. You might remember it. The Rich Young Ruler comes to Jesus and says that he wants to be a disciple. That’s what he said. He said he wanted to be a follower of Jesus but it turned out that what he really wanted was to be a rich follower of Jesus and when it came right down to it (and he had to choose what was most important to him) he decided that what he Really Really Wanted to be rich more than he wanted to follow Jesus.

But again, that story is not an indictment of people with money. It’s an indictment of idol worship. It’s an indictment of idol worship… choosing money over God.

And that’s what Jesus is talking about here. Priorities. Instead Jesus says 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Now it’s important to note that this is not “For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” It’s “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. It’s not Where your heart is – is where you will put your money. It’s the things you spend most of your money on will… be… the things…

you most love. They will threaten to replace me (God says).

F.F. Bruce is right. This is a “hard saying.” No, Jesus isn’t saying “money is evil”. But what he is saying is just as hard to swallow. What he is saying is “Show.. me… your cheque book… Show me your credit card statement…. And I’ll show you… what you really…. love.”

Ouch!

As it turns out I… I don’t think I want Jesus looking over my books.

As it turns out… my treasure isn’t always where it should be.

As it turns out… following Jesus isn’t as easy as T.V. preachers make it out to be.

In his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy put it well. He wrote, “If you prefer to spend all your spare time growing roses or playing with your kids, I like you better as a person, but don’t complain to me that you’re not being promoted fast enough.”

In short when you choose one thing… you choose not the other.

Sometimes following Jesus means putting my priorities straight. Sometimes it means making sacrifices. It means choosing one thing over another.

Because I can’t afford to do everything I want to do. I have to choose where my devotions lie.

I don’t know about you but I can’t afford a Mercedes SLK AMG. I can’t afford a Rolex. But despite that… I don’t think “The things you own – ALWAYS end up owning you.” And even if I did have $225,000 supercar – I’d like to think that I’ve got my priorities straight enough… to notice a missing left arm.

So what about those of us in the middle? Not quite penniless; not quite the Rich Young Ruler?

I think… What I can do… is I…I can accept that God wants me to be a part of a new kind of Kingdom; that’s not just focused on “me and mine” and the “here and now”. I think what I can do is that I can accept that whether I’m as rich as Solomon or Poor as the pauper I CAN still afford to “give of myself” and “pay my alms” even if it means I miss out on some other things from time to time. And I think I can always try and do just a little better in the future so I’m not quite so scared to show Jesus my cheque book.

… … … What about you? Do you want to be the kind of person that’s happy to show Jesus your cheque book? Or do you wanna be the person that’s worried about your watch… when you are missing your left arm?

Amen.

Song: Seek ye first …

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 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.

Prayer of gratitude

God of the Universe, thank you that your promises are sure, you are faithful, I can rely on you. Your word says that we will find joy in offering our time, talents, and money to meet the needs of others. Help us to give freely, sacrificially and cheerfully towards the work of your kingdom. May you cause the seeds that we sow to grow into well-watered, fruitful trees of life. Lord, bless us and keep us, make your face shine upon us. Turn your face towards us and give us peace. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Prayer for others and ourselves

Awesome God, we are grateful for the opportunity to worship you together this day.  We are united with and pray for the church universal – men, women and children around the world who yearn to know you better and to bring about Christ’s reign on Earth.  May we serve, encourage and invite others to experience your presence within and among us.

We pray for the neighbourhoods and nations of the world God, and we are especially thinking of those who are seeking a homeland, by faith.  We pray for people who have no country to call “home” and who are confined for decades to refugee camps.  God, bring them the necessities of life, peace and a future with hope.

We pray for our own country, this land of many blessings.  We are grateful, God; may we never take our blessings for granted.  God, we also know that even within this land of plenty, there are those who live in wretched conditions and who struggle each day because of poverty, politics, and apathy.  We pray for all of us, God, as we struggle with complex challenges.

God of community, we pray for our own congregation; help us as a gathering of the faithful to remain centred in you and to discern your will for us.  You know all things, God; help us to make wise decisions among complex issues.

For those who are struggling with their faith, we ask for an increasing awareness of your presence in their lives.

For those who are experiencing major changes in their lives, we pray for your guidance and encouragement.

For those who are sick, grieving, lonely or anxious, we ask for your comforting and healing touch.

Lord, As we journey through life, grant us the grace to conform evermore closely to your purpose.  Help us to hold evermore to you.

We pray for our neighbours in this building and everywhere else.

May we see Christ in those around us and may Christ be glimpsed in our actions and our words.

We pray in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour; bring love to our neighbors and make us neighbors to all people. amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

Invitation

In breaking bread and drinking wine Jesus told us to remember him. In this action called the Holy Communion, Christ offers himself to us and we present ourselves to him in worship and adoration.

The Lord’s Supper is a joyful mystery whereby Jesus takes the bread and wine to represent his atoning sacrifice, deepening our union with himself and with each other, giving us of his life and strength and providing spiritual food for our journey.

Here Christ is present in his world proclaiming salvation; lifting us up into the heavenly kingdom. It is a symbol of hope and peace in a troubled time. Those who belong to Christ, gather gladly to his table to make a memorial of his life and death to celebrate his presence and together as his Church offer him thanks.

Song: The power of the Cross

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, God’s only Son our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilot
Was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven.
He is seated at the right hand of the Father.
And 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

This is the Lord’s Table. I am here as a guest just as you are. This is not our church’s table, and it is not our denomination’s table. It is not even a church table at all. It is a gift, and it is the table of God.

The Communion Prayer

Creating father we thank you for the gift of life and for the gift of all creation. All that is praises your name. Providing one, we are forever grateful to you for the unending gifts you bestow upon us and entrusted to us. Your faithfulness and mercy astound us. God of sacrifice, You are our rock and our shield. Your compassion and grace know no end.

We thank you, Almighty God, for the salvation you offer and we give complete control of ourselves to you and call You “Lord”. Help us to know your ways, To share them with others and to forever seek after your divinely hidden face.

Precious Lord, we thank you for the gift of salvation sent through your son Jesus Christ. We thank you for the incarnation, as you made yourself low and brought yourself down to be a vulnerable human being. And from this blessing we were given instruction but also freedom. Our god it is completely beyond our understanding how you could send Christ to live among us, love us, and know that he would die at our hands. Such love is too far above us. And through him you the author of salvation have also shown us what it means to rise to new life.

Father God, we also thank you for the gift of your spirit. It is by your Spirit of glory that we find comfort and council. We praise you also for the works of the divine Spirit in both creation and our holy scriptures. We praise you for that the same Spirit which empowered the holy conception of our Lord also empowers us today. By your spirit we are called to service for your divine will. Let none of us remain in conflict with one another but instead bring as peace that passed understanding… both now and forever. Amen.

Sharing of the bread and wine

Institution
Breaking of the Bread (Fraction)
“Therefore I received from the lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took the bread and when he and given thanks, he broke it and said This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Pouring and Revelation of the Cup
“In the same way after supper he took the top saying “this is the new covenant in my blood do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me”        , “for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
The distribution of the elements
Bread: The gifts of god for the people of god “take eat”
Wine: The gifts of god for the people of god “take eat”

Song: One bread, one body (540)

The prayer after Communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world, in the strength of Your Spirit, to do just as you have done, to give ourselves for others. In the name of Jesus Christ of Lord . Amen.

Hymn: Now let us from this table rise (536)

Sending out with God’s blessing

As you leave this place and move out into the new week and the community, “be dressed for action and have your lamps lit”!

You carry the Spirit of God within you, and from you will spread… the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship and community of the Holy Spirit.

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

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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 specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material presented 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.

Posted in Recent Sermons.