Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am, 08 January 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Elder: Jane de Caen
We gather to worship God
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: Brothers and sisters, we have life because God chose to give it.
P: Life had its beginning in God.
L: Sisters and brothers, we need not fear the end of life.
P: In God, it will come to completion and its meaning will be fully revealed.
L: All creation, including us, will find fulfillment in God.
P: Now we see in part. Then we shall see face to face. Let us worship God, who is the Creator of Life and the Victor over death!
Opening praise: Forever God is faithful
Prayers of approach and confession
God of power and might, of grace and of love, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
You chose to become one of us in Jesus Christ, sharing our joy and sorrow, manifesting your greatness in the child of the manger,
And so we praise you for your love which is great enough to embrace the universe, yet close enough to enter our hearts.
During our worship, surprise us with your grace that we, with the rest of the church and the whole creation, may praise and adore you, O God, our Creator and Redeemer.
God of compassion, you offer light to live by, and yet too often we live in darkness.
You promise new life, but we confess that we are in love with our old ways; in love with ourselves; with hurts that we nourish, hatreds that hold us hostage, and fantasies that restrict our living. You offer us unconditional love, but we reject our neighbors and live apart from you and one another in so many ways and so reject you because we reject your image. Recreate us in the image of your son and for your glory’s sake forgive us.
Gradual: We come to ask Your forgiveness, O God
Assurance of God’s forgiveness
Here is the good news of the Gospel! Jesus Christ is the elect one, chosen for our salvation. In him we are made acceptable to God. Let us give thanks to God, and be at peace with ourselves and with one another. Why dwell on sin and death when have been given his perfection and his life. Amen
We listen for the voice of God
Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)
Story: Wise men today still seek the Savior – Epiphany of the Lord
If we were planning to go to visit someone in another town or city, we might first ask someone who knew how to get there to give us directions. They might give us some general directions and suggest the best roads to take. Another thing we should do is look at a map. The map will show us exactly how to get where we want to go. As we travel, we should keep checking the map to be sure that we are headed in the right direction. If we follow the directions that we receive and use the map to guide us, we will surely find the way.
Here, Brad shared a story about a journey he went on during which he got lost several times because he did not have a map.
After Jesus was born, some wise men, also called Magi, saw a star in the sky which they believed announced the birth of a king. They traveled to Jerusalem and began to ask, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Herod heard about the Magi and their search for a king and he was deeply disturbed. He called a meeting of the priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” The priests told Herod that the prophet Micah had written that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. So Herod called for private meeting with the wise men and said to them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
As you know, the wise men did not have a map to guide them to Bethlehem, but they had something even better — they had a star to guide them. So the wise men followed information that the priests had given to Herod and the star that God had given to guide them and it led them right to Jesus. When they found him, they gave him gifts and bowed down and worshiped him.
Wise men, women, boys, and girls are still searching for Jesus. There are people who want to help — people like parents and Sunday School teachers. There is no map to help us find Jesus and there is no star to follow, but we do have the Bible. We can find the way to Jesus by reading God’s Holy Word! The Bible is the map and star that will lead to Jesus. All of us should read it every day to make sure we are headed in the right direction!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we seek you today because we want to worship you and crown you as our King. We are thankful for pastors and Sunday School teachers who want to help us and we are thankful for the Bible which we have been given to lead us to you. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (535)
Song: What star is this (170)
Scripture readings: Ephesians 3:1–12 & Matthew 2:1–12
Message: “You’re not a Monk”
A traveler’s car broke down near a monastery late one night. With no place else to go, the man walked into the monastery and explained his situation. The monks graciously invited him to spend the night, gave him something warm to drink, and even repaired the car.
During the night, the man heard a strange sound. The next morning, he asked the monks about it. “We can’t tell you, you’re not a monk.” They replied. The man was disappointed but thanked the monks for their hospitality and then went on his way.
Some years later, the same traveler had car problems in front of the same monastery. Once again, the monks were happy to give him a place to stay, feed him, and fix his car. And during the night, he heard the same strange noise that he had heard years earlier. The next morning, he asked again, “What was that noise I heard during the night?” The monks replied “We can’t tell you, you’re not a monk.”
The traveler said, “All these years I’ve wondered about that sound. And it just can’t be a coincidence that I’ve broken down right here in the same place twice… it just can’t. I’m dying to know what it is. Maybe I’m supposed to be a monk. How do I become a monk?”
The monks explained “To join our unique monastery, First, you must travel the earth and learn to speak the language of every culture and tribe that exists in the world. Then, you must do one kind deed for every man, woman and child on the planet. Finally, you must climb to the top of the highest mountain and count the number of stars that exist in the heavens. When you have done all this, you will be well on your way toward becoming a monk.”
Undaunted the man accepted the task. Some 45 years later, he returned to the monastery and knocked on the door. “I have traveled the earth and learned more than 6000 languages I have performed kind deeds for 9 billion people. I almost froze to death on the highest mountain, where I learned that there are more than 17 trillion stars.”
The monks were amazed, “Congratulations, you are very close to being a monk of the highest order. We shall now take you to the source of the sound.”
They led the man to a wooden door, where one of the monks said, “The sound is right behind that door.”
“How do I open it?” the traveler said.
“You must first memorize the Old Testament.”
The man went in to his room immediately and in a matter of just a few months, memorized the entire Old Testament. In return, he was given the key to the wooden door and taken back to it. But upon opening the door, he encountered another door, this one made of brass. It too was locked. “To receive the key that will open the brass door, you must memorize the New Testament.” Frustrated, the man went back to his room but… memorized the New Testament. Within a few months, he had the key to the brass door. Again, the monks accompanied him to the source of the strange sound. Inside the brass door was yet another door. This one made of gold. It too was locked.
“This is the last door. But to receive the key, you must spend one year in the dungeon, with only bread and water to sustain you.”
The traveller patiently endured his year in the dungeon. Emaciated and weary, he was released and once again he was taken to the source of the sound. There he unlocked the wooden and brass doors, and was given the final key to the golden door. With trembling hands, the man unlocked the door, turned the knob and opened it. Behind it lay the source of the sound – and for the traveler, life’s great mystery revealed… and without a doubt it was worth every trail the man did or could have ever endured. And what made the sound you ask… well… I can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.
We live in a world of unsolved mysteries. Science can’t explain why we dream, why yawns appear to be contagious. Mystery novels fill our book shelves and our Televisions are filled with “who done it” storylines.
In today’s passage of Scripture the Apostle Paul talks to us about a “mysterion” or “hidden will”. But when Paul talks about mystery, he’s talking about more than the just the unknown. In fact he’s talking about the hidden providence of God reveled, and our search to understand it.
Paul writes, “2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”
What Paul is saying is that he was lost; out searching the world for answers, and though he thought that he had those answers, God reached down on the road to Damascus in grace and showed him everything he had been missing; revealed in Jesus. And while Paul is known for defending his right to preach and defending his own authority as an Apostle, here he’s doing just the opposite. He’s saying not only were they revealed to him but that they were revealed to him for the express purpose of handing them down to you and me.
He continues, “In reading this, then, you too will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus”.
Now you have to understand that, at the time, this was a very bold statement.
In the Old Testament period, the Jewish people were the instruments through which God revealed Himself to the world. They were God’s “chosen people” and Paul was one of them. But the problem was… some of them started to believe (mistakenly) that they were “exclusively” God’s ONLY chosen people, and that God had no interest in the Gentiles (no interest in all other non-Jewish people).
The problem is – that’s not really what their own prophets said. Isaiah 55 for example the prophet says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;… I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander. 5 Surely you will summon nations you do not even know, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel”.
See God’s whole point of having a “chosen people” was to use them to draw all others into the fold. They were intended to be a beacon of light calling out to others. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work out that way.
In verse 6 of today’s readings Paul identifies this mistake and reveals the heart of the mystery revealed to him: He says, “This mystery is that, through the gospel, the Gentiles (non-Jews) are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Furthermore in v. 8 he writes, “this grace was given me: to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make it plain to everyone.”
Paul says that God’s intention from the very beginning was that He wanted to have a relationship with all people “inclusively” and that this is now fully revealed in Christ.
Sadly, that wasn’t always the case and ever more sadly this exclusivity didn’t end with Judaism. Christians quickly did the same thing. When we first came into being we worshiped together with the Jews and in fact were Jewish Christians. But soon Gentiles (non-Jews) also came to seek the Jewish Messiah. As a result the Christians came to see themselves as a new “chosen people” and a replacement for Judaism as if God had somehow failed. This type of thinking led to discrimination and even internment camps. But it’s not the picture Paul gives us. Paul never says that we Gentiles replace the Jews. He says “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel.”
Three Key Words: Verse 6 goes on to describe the three strands of relationship that we have with God. It says that we are a.) heirs together, b.) members together and c.) sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (in salvation).
Paul’s not quite done yet. He not only wants us to know the mysteries of God revealed in Christ, but he also wants us to know what we’re expected to do about it.
He writes, “His (God’s) intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known”. Our job as the Church is to “make known” the mysteries (a plural word meaning Mysteries) of God revealed to us.
There are in fact many mysteries of the faith revealed to us. The only thing is, you have to decide for yourself just what these mysteries are. You have to discover what’s behind the wooden door in the monastery all for yourself. And while I pray that our gathering together came help us all to do just that. Ultimately You have to decide what great mysteries have been revealed to you. I couldn’t do it for you if I tried. Besides, I’m not a monk. To search them out is your own private task and then and only then can you share those mysteries with others as we are all asked to do.
May you continue the search? May you come to know the saving grace of God. May you seek to include others just as God has sought to include us among the chosen. And may you search tirelessly to share the greatest mysteries of the faith with each other and with all those whom you meet. Amen.
Special Music for Meditation: What King would wade through murky streams (184)
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 ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.
Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
Light of the minds that know you, Strength of those who serve you, Wisdom of those who seek after you: Shine into the dark places of this world and cast your light into the shadows of our lives.
Awaken us to the needs of those who carry heavy burdens; who do not know where to turn; those with broken hearts and secrets that impede life. Give them peace and save us from hiding in blindness or denial and give us grace to share one another’s burden.
We also pray for people who are celebrating today, who welcome good news or new possibilities, who have reason to celebrate with joy; give us the grace to share one another’s joy.
Awaken us to the needs of those who do not have enough to eat or adequate shelter and those who have enough to share but no-one to share with, Sustain them and give us grace to share one what we have with each other.
Awaken us to anguish of those who are filled with grief because of a loss that forever has altered their lives; of those who are ill or dying, and those who are bereaved. Give them peace and give us grace to share one another’s grief.
Awaken us to your wisdom and to your will and desire for the world, to the values of your kingdom, and the renewal and redemption that we receive in Christ. Give leaders in our churches and communities the wisdom and courage to do what is just and give us the grace to speak and act honestly, wisely, and graciously always. Amen
Song: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness vss 1-4 (174)
Sending out with God’s blessing (spoken and sung)
The Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His Face toward you and give you peace. Amen, amen, amen. Amen, amen, amen.
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. 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.