Sunday, December 03, 2006

Order of Service for December 3rd 2006



SCRIPTURE READING: Jeremiah 33: 14 – 16

HYMN # 1 (vs 1,3,5,7) O Come, O Come Emmanuel

One: This is the season of giving.
All: We love to give and receive gifts
One: because God gave us the greatest gift of all – Jesus.
All: Jesus is Emmanuel, God–with–us.
One: We live in hope because we know that God is with us.
All: Today we celebrate God’s gift of hope.

HYMN # 6 (vs 1) A Candle is Burning

One: When our lives are turned upside down,
All: we turn to you, O God.
One: When we are separated from all that is dear to us,
All: we turn to you, O God.
One: When chaos threatens the order that comforts us,
All: we turn to you, O God.
One: Come, Let us worship together.

One: O God, we fear for the well being of your creation.
Nations are in turmoil.
Land is laid waste.
Waters are poisoned.
Animals are becoming extinct.
People live in fear.
All: Come, O Saviour, restore creation.
One: Mistrust often separates people from one another,
confusion complicates our lives,
and hope often seems fleeting.
All: Come, O Saviour, restore us to community.
One: Yet this is a new season, a new day,
with possibilities of new beginnings.
God’s promise brings a new dawn.
All: Come, O Saviour, restore us to new life. Amen

HYMN # 415 God We Praise You For the Morning


HYMN # Magic Penny
Chorus: Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
1. It’s just like a magic penny
Hold in tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor. For …. (chorus)

(repeat verse 1 & chorus)
Words and Music: Malvina Reynolds

One: Sometimes we look around at all that you have entrusted to us and we feel uneasy, O God. On land and water, high and low, where your creatures once teemed and filled the air with cries of joy, we now hear eerie silence.
All: Forgive us for not being signs of new hope, O God.
One: Non-native species invade and mar our native landscapes, a sea of hungry faces, hour upon hour of television full of activity, yet somehow empty of content.
All: Forgive us for not being signs of new hope, O God.
One: Likewise when we look within, we are often uneasy, aware of our failure to love each other, and your creation, and ourselves.
All: Forgive us for not being signs of new hope, O God.
Transform our hearts and set us on pathways of justice and righteousness, that we might turn and be servants of
healing for our world.

In spite of all we have done, God has not forsaken us. As surely as the bud unfolds and calls forth the spring and the harvest, so God transforms
our lives anew. You are forgiven. Rejoice and serve God with gladness.

CHOIR ANTHEM: Mary Did You Know

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 21: 25 – 36 & Psalm 25 (pg 752 VU)

HYMN # 9 People Look East

Our reading from Luke is an apocalyptic vision of what may come … Wars and rumours of wars, disasters and famines and all manner of horrible events will happen and our world will be filled with hearing about them … Today is also the day in our Church calendar when we acknowledge and weep over the ravages wrought by HIV/AIDS in our world. Around us, the world is awash in bad news and when we hear the words of Luke we can draw some conclusions – some of which are less than helpful.

Some of our more evangelical sisters and brothers read this text and turn on the evening news and say – “A-ha … wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … rumours of wars in places like The Dafur, Sri Lanka and countless other corners of the world … images of tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes and drought …” These are the very things Jesus was talking about.

Sadly though, the images that often fill our news and overwhelm us, the images that cause our more evangelical sisters and brothers to proclaim the apocalypse is at hand, seldom motivate them to action in addressing those disasters. They see the images and see the fulfillment of prophecy. The problem is one of technology not one of prophecy.

Today thanks to modern technology I can take a picture of all of you right now and with the press of a couple of buttons, have it on the internet in a matter of minutes …

Remember a couple of years ago when the Tsunami ravaged South-east Asia and we were able to see what was happening in real time … cell phones, digital cameras and other technologies have allowed us to witness in real time, no lengthy delay like a few years ago – but with the punch of a couple of buttons images are INSTANTLY transmitted around the world …

Think back to last week when the comedian who played Kramer in the tv show Seinfeld had a melt down on stage in the US. There is no justification for his words or actions, but what truly did him in was the presence in the audience of a few people with cel phones capable of video capture (how’s that for techno-talk??) As he melted down, people were filming it and within seconds it was in the hands of media outlets and his career was in tatters …

Contrast this with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, when for days after the wireless transmitted the fateful SOS from the stricken ship, the headlines were filled with news of the ship under tow, and all souls saved, and the collision with the ice berg being a minor one. Only days later when the Carpathia and the other ships steamed into New York did the newspapers catch up with the scope of that disaster.

Think back to the news reels of World War Two … it was days before news reached us … In today’s world the transmission of news is instantaneous and sometimes reaches thousands of kilometers away BEFORE it arrives at home … When the Queen of the North sunk off the BC coast, we knew about in Minnedosa, before Mag’s family in Port Hardy where the ship was due to arrive had heard … such is the speed of our modern media … the stories spread rapidly, and nothing spreads as quickly as bad news …

And so, the wars and rumours of wars … the disasters and so on, have always happened. Typhoons like that which his the Phillipines today have been happening for thousands or years, hurricanes like Katarina have been hitting the New Orleans coast for thousands of years … the difference today is – we hear about it … people live there … people film it … people talk about it … and thousands of kilometers away we can open a newspaper, turn on a radio or tv, or sign on the internet and see it …

In Jesus’ day you world was YOUR village and perhaps the town up the road … in our day our world stretches around the planet. We are able to learn about what is happening half a world away …
So, in our modern world where we are so aware of what’s happening half a world away, how are we to live and share our faith?

For this we hear the whisper of Jeremiah … Jeremiah, speaking in the midst of the Babylonian exile, wants the people to have hope. He wants them to look beyond the moment in which they find themselves. And place their trust in God.

In the exile, the people – the learned and educated, the people of power – the land owners and the people of property are far from home – living in Babylon, far from everything that is familiar. They have had children and grandchildren – the memories of HOME have faded. The experiences of Israel and the land they call home have begun to pass from their memories … and the people are afraid that they will lose their way, they are afraid their children will NOT know what it means to be members of the nation of Israel … And so Jeremiah steps up and says – “the day is coming when God’s promises will be fulfilled and we will AGAIN stand in Jerusalem and worship at the temple …”

“Yeah right,” scoff the people “… the temple is a vacant lot … there is nothing but rocks and weeds there … and it is FAR away … it will never happen …”

But Jeremiah persists … “God is with us,” he proclaimed, “we have never been abandoned by God …”

Centuries later, standing looking at the temple that rose in that vacant lot Centuries after Jeremiah proclaimed it would again rise, Jesus warned his followers that there would be a time when it feels like God is absent and far away … a time when there are wars and rumours of wars and news of huge disastes – and in that moment, we MUST trust in God. Not as just some distant holy presence, but as a living force that is within and around us. We must trust in God as a living presence that promises us strength, courage, and most of all the power of transformation that we call resurrection.

Today we begin our journey towards Christmas through the season of Advent. Advent – the season of waiting … Advent – beginning – waiting – anticipating. Advent is the time for preparing for the coming of the Messenger we call The Christ.
In the Babylonian Exile the people wanted a strong military leader to free them from the shackles of slavery and exile …

In Jesus day, crushed under the heel of the Roman empire the people yearned for a strong military leader who would free the nation from oppression …
Today, what Christ event do we yearn for?

Do we want a Christ who is a strong moral leader – one who will give us certainty and direction with the many issues swirling around us?

Do we want a Chirst who is a meek and mild leader who won’t rock the boat and who won’t challenge us too much, but will make us feel loved and lovable?

Do we want a Chirst who is a leader who will chart the course for us and be just like us – affirming what we’re about – believing what we believe – doing what we’re doing?

We stand expectantly, waiting … and then The Christ event breaks upon us … first comes a child – a baby … born in some back water village in a forgotten corner of the Empire …

Then he grows up in another forgotten village and becomes a wandering rabbi who offers teachings that were not over the top calls for revolution, but were calls for a revolution within ourselves – change the way in which you live your faith he whispers … live your faith boldly and with courage.

The Christ event doesn’t just break over us. The Christ event comes quietly and in the most unexpected of ways … In the face of wars and rumours of wars, in the face of disasters and happenings, we hear the whisper of Jesus telling us that our redemption is drawing near …

So. How then shall we speak of our faith?

In the face of wars and rumours of wars, in the face of disasters and disease and famine, in the face of the modern world – how shall we share our stories of faith with those who may have forgotten?

As a community we are very much like the exiled Israelites. We look to a vacant lot where once our temple stood. We remember what once was, and we may even wonder if we will EVER return home … We not only need to hear that gentle whisper … we need to believe it … Jeremiah wanted people not only to believe that they would return home, but he wanted them to tell their stories and their faith to their children so that they would journey together back home …

Our challenge in this time of exile is to rebuild – not only our building – our temple – but to rebuild our stories and our way of living out our faith.

We are in many ways an exilic people … we live in a world where it is easy to feel very much alone. But in that moment when we feel farthest away from God, in that moment when we feel far from home – in that moment, a whisper breaks through to tell us that we truly are NOT alone … our redemption is drawing near …

Advent has begun … the time of beginning … the time of anticipating … the time of waiting for something extra-ordinary that is about to arrive …

Our challenge in the coming days, even those beyond the 25th of December, is to live the Christ event and to let the unexpected take hold as we journey home …

May it be so – thanks be to God – let us pray …


HYMN # 62 (vs 1,3,4) Once in Royal David’s City
HYMN # 18 There’s a Voice in the Wilderness

SUNG RESPONSE: # 7 Hope is a Star
Vs 1: Hope is a star that shines in the night,
Leading us on till the morning is bright.
Refrain: When God is a child there’s joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong,
And none shall be afraid.

The worship has ended….
…the work of God’s people has just begun.
Go in peace.

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