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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 06 - Year A
Valentine's Day and Installation of Board Members
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Matthew 5:21-37
"Of Law and Love"


READING:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Matthew 5:21-37
SERMON :  "Of Law and Love"
OCCASION  St. Valentine's Day -- Installation of Board Members

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or06se 468000
                   
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                           (* = please stand)


* CALL TO WORSHIP:  (from Psalm 119:1-8)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Happy are those whose way is blameless.
P  Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord.
L  Happy are those who keep God's decrees.
P  Blessed are those who seek God with their whole heart.
L  God has commanded that his precepts be kept diligently. 
P  We pray that we may we be faithful in keeping all his
   statutes.
L  If we pay attention to all his commands we will not be put to
   shame.
P  As we learn God's righteous judgements, we will praise God
   with an upright heart.


* INTROIT: "What Does The Lord Require of You" (VU 701) 


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Most Loving and Gracious God -- we praise you and we thank you
for the guidance that you give us from day to day in your word
and by your Spirit.  We thank you for choosing to dwell among us
and praise you for calling us to be your faithful people.  Bless,
we pray, this time of worship and of prayer that those who need
comfort may be comforted, those who need challenge may be
challenged, and that all of us may grow closer together as your
children - as members of the body of Christ Jesus our Risen Lord,
in whose name we pray, both now and forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN:  "O Love How Deep"                                    - VU 348


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
-- Highlight Lenten Share Calendars  - highlight the Lenten Share
Calendars which we will hand out with the bulletin....  and have
extra's for Sunday School --- one per family.  UCW asked us to
participate in this -- Money will be dedicated Easter Sunday...


INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated):
  Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!  (VU 371 v.2 & refrain)


A Reading from Deuteronomy 30:15-20
   (NRSV)  See, I have set before you today life and prosperity,
   death and adversity. {16} If you obey the commandments of the
   LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the
   LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his
   commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live
   and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in
   the land that you are entering to possess. {17} But if your
   heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to
   bow down to other gods and serve them, {18} I declare to you
   today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the
   land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
   {19} I call heaven and earth to witness against you today
   that I have set before you life and death, blessings and
   curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may
   live, {20} loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding
   fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days,
   so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give
   to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Choose This Day"
Object:   Sheets with example choices written on them -- 
Source:   Base concept -- Eldon Weisheit, God's Promise For
          Children OT - Series A, 1980.  Much modified since.
Theme:    Choosing Love / Life

Good morning...  Every day we make choices -- so I thought I
would pretend with you a while about some of the choices that you
make.

What would you rather do --- this MATH HOMEWORK --- or watch STAR
TREK or the SIMPSONS???  What other shows do you like?  Would you
rather watch them than do Homework?

What would you rather do -- get a Report Card with an -- A -- on
it - a gold star -- or F - incomplete  and a message you have to
do your grade again?  The interesting thing is that you do have a
choice  You choose what grade you get because of other choices
that you make.  If you always watch TV or play Computer Games or
Hockey - you'll probably get lower marks than if you actually
study some time.  Teachers are kind - and they will help you all
they can -- and mark you very fairly - but if you don't do the
work....

In our Bible Reading today Moses tells us that God gives a choice
-- he says we can choose between LIFE (here and in heaven) and
DEATH.  Which would you choose??   Everyone wants to have a good
life - and to live in heaven...  Moses says that you are making
that choice between life and death every day of your life.  How
do you think we do that???

Moses, and Jesus, both tell us that if you want LIFE instead of
death, then you need to love the LORD your God and walk in his
ways, observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances.

This is what St. Valentine did all so many years ago - he loved
God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and his
neighbour as himself   he loved God and his brothers and sisters
so much he was even willing to die for them - as Jesus died for
us all   so that the truth of God's love would not be denied. 
That happened on this day in the year 312 - 1687 years ago!

Choosing LIFE   is a simple matter of choosing love   rather than
hate, forgiveness rather than bitterness, words of kindness
rather than words of disrespect   deeds of helpfulness - rather
than selfishness    believing in truth and in God   rather than
telling lies and forgetting that God is good.

Whenever you see a Valentine Card, and I think you have seen lots
this year   and will see some more today   I would like you to
think about how choosing love is equal to choosing life   and
about the good things you can do in love to make life better for
others and for yourself.

   Let us Pray:  "Lord God, we thank you -- for the choices
   you give us. -- Help us to choose -- things that are good
   for life  -- things which bring joy to us and others -- We
   ask it in Jesus' name -- Amen" 


* HYMN:  "For The Fruit of All Creation"                      - VU 227


PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
L  Loving God - we take this time today to come before you, but
   as we do, we are aware that all is not right within us.  We
   neglect your word, we fail to meditate on your law, we forget
   to speak with you, we make plans without turning to you, we
   do things that we know are wrong.  We did not put you first
   in our lives.
P  Forgive how we have failed to love you with all our heart,
   our soul, our mind, and our strength.
L  Loving God - our relationships with each other are not all
   that they can be or should be.  There is hurt and injury
   between ourselves and others.  There are walls of anger and
   hatred between us and our neighbours.  Forgive us for how we
   deny our part in this and for how we blame others for the
   broken-ness around us.
P  Forgive how we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
L  Gracious God - we believe that you offer to us and our world
   a whole and good life.  For all that we have done to deny
   this life to each other and to ourselves - we ask your
   forgiveness and your mercy.
   ............... (silent prayer) ...............
L  Lord have mercy.
P  Christ have mercy.
L  Lord have mercy.  Touch us and make us whole.

   SUNG RESPONSE (VU 948):     
   O Lord, hear my prayer.  O Lord, hear my prayer; 
   when I call answer me.  
   O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer; 
   come and listen to me.

ASSURANCE OF GOD'S FORGIVENESS
   Hear the good news concerning the love and forgiveness of
   God.  As far as the east is from the west, so far does God
   remove our transgressions from us.  As a father has
   compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on 
   those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he
   remembers that we are dust.                   -- Psalms 103:11-14
 
   Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  As you choose again this day
   to love God and to love one another   know that God has
   forgiven you that which is past - and offers to you a new and
   full life.  Praise be to the name of God, now and forever. 
   Amen.


A READING FROM MATTHEW 5:21-37
   (NRSV)  "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient
   times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be
   liable to judgment.' {22} But I say to you that if you are
   angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to
   judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be
   liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will
   be liable to the hell of fire. {23} So when you are offering
   your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or
   sister has something against you, {24} leave your gift there
   before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother
   or sister, and then come and offer your gift. {25} Come to
   terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to
   court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the
   judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown
   into prison. {26} Truly I tell you, you will never get out
   until you have paid the last penny. {27} "You have heard that
   it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' {28} But I say
   to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has
   already committed adultery with her in his heart. {29} If
   your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it
   away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than
   for your whole body to be thrown into hell. {30} And if your
   right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away;
   it is better for you to lose one of your members than for
   your whole body to go into hell. {31} "It was also said,
   'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of
   divorce.' {32} But I say to you that anyone who divorces his
   wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to
   commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits
   adultery. {33} "Again, you have heard that it was said to
   those of ancient times, 'You shall not swear falsely, but
   carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' {34} But I say
   to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the
   throne of God, {35} or by the earth, for it is his footstool,
   or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. {36}
   And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair
   white or black. {37} Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No';
   anything more than this comes from the evil one.

L  This is the gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


CHOIR ANTHEM: "Morning Has Broken"


SERMON:  Of Law and Of Love  

   BLESS THOU, THE WORDS OF MY LIPS AND THE MEDITATIONS OF
   OUR HEARTS THAT THEY BE OF PROFIT TO US AND ACCEPTABLE TO
   THEE, OH OUR ROCK AND OUR REDEEMER.  AMEN

One day Abraham invited a beggar to his tent for a meal.

   When grace was being said, the man began to curse God,
   declaring that he could not bear to hear his name.

   Seized with indignation, Abraham drove the blasphemer
   away.

   When he was at his prayers that night, God said to him,
   "This man has cursed and reviled me for fifty years, and
   yet I have given him food to eat every day.  Could you not
   put up with him for a single meal?"

On this St. Valentine's Day I want to tell you simply this - love
each other.

Love each other - not with the love that depends on chemistry,
mood, and feelings - 
nor even with the love that depends on the behaviour of others,
but love each other with the kind of love that Christ refers to
in today's reading from the Sermon on the Mount.

You know the kind of love I mean -
   - it is the love that goes beyond what seems right according
   to the letter of the law,, and enters into the Spirit of what
   God wants for us,
the love that enters into feeding others,
   into healing others,
   into showing grace to others,
   into giving peace to others.,
the love that values others, regardless of who they are or what
they have or have not done.
.
Someone once caught WC Fields reading the Bible.
"What are you doing?" asked the person.  
"Looking for loopholes.", growled Fields.

With love - my friends - there is no loophole,
no escape hatch,
no clauses that say the deal can be revoked if this or that
condition is not met.

Love is total - it is unconditional - or it is not love at all.

Think of the words of Jesus we heard read a few minutes ago. 
They were words addressed to a people used to compromising - to
altering love's demands as they are found in the law of God so
that those demands would be easier to fulfil. 

   You have heard it was said you shall not murder - but I
   say to you that if you are angry with your brother or
   sister - you will be liable to judgement."

   "You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit
   adultery, but I tell you that everyone who looks with lust
   at another has already committed adultery..."

   "You have heard that it was said, you shall love your
   neighbours, but I say to you, love your enemies. and pray
   for those who persecute you..."

There are no loopholes to found in Jesus' words
No compromises,
No deals,
No escape hatches.

What Jesus does is crystallize the issues involved in loving God
and our neighbours so that we can know - without doubt - just
where we stand, and exactly what we need to aim for.

Think about where you stand for a minute - Think about how you
love others and ask yourself - is my love up to the standards set
by Christ?

   - If you haven't killed someone - who have you called a
   fool?  What emotion did you pour out upon him or her when
   you became angry with them?
   - If you haven't committed adultery - and felt good about
   this - consider what you have wanted to do.......
   - Or consider who holds a grudge against you because of
   something you did - something for which you have not
   apologized?
   - Or again - what promises and vows have you broken and
   then justified yourself in doing so?
   - When was the last time you criticized immigrants for
   stealing all the jobs in this country, or expressed your
   dislike for the person who took the promotion that
   belonged to you?

Perhaps these are poor examples - but most of us you know love
only our friends and our family - and we are not sure about our
family at times....

We greet those who greet us,
We do good to those who do good to us,
We lend to those who will pay back,
We welcome those who welcome us.

As for everyone else - well - if asked, most of us have a reason
for what we do,
and an excuse for what we do not do.

What we aim for as Christians - is to break through the
limitations of our excuses, 
we aim to destroy all reasons that we might offer to treat one
person as less than another and to enter into relationships with
each other that are based upon our equality before God.

   An old pilgrim was making his way to the Himalayan
   Mountains in the bitter cold of winter when it began to
   rain.

   An inn keeper said to him, "How will you ever get there in
   this kind of weather my good man?"

   The old man answered cheerfully - "My heart got there
   first, so it's easy for the rest of me to follow."

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we can meet all the
demands of love that are expressed in the law in one way - and
only in one way - we can do so if we our hearts go there first.

Today - this Valentine's Day - I urge you - let your hearts go -
love God
and love each other
as deeply as you can.

When you do - you will find, no matter how many mistakes you may
make on the way,
that goodness and blessedness will blossom along your path,
and all that God has planned will come to pass.  Amen.


PROFESSION OF FAITH & PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
L  I believe in God, maker of heaven and earth, 
   my Creator and my Lord. 
P  I believe that God loves me 
   and shows me what true love is like.
L  I believe in Jesus, my Saviour and my Lord.
P  I believe that he came from heaven to seek the lost, 
   to forgive the repentant, 
   to heal the sick and free the oppressed, 
   and to lead all into the way of eternal life.
L  I believe in the Holy Spirit.
P  I believe that the Spirit of God sustains and strengthens me, 
   that the spirit teaches and leads me, 
   and intercedes for me and for all people before God.
L  I believe in the power of love and that all love is from God
   and is seen in God.  With all the church I proclaim what love
   is like:
P  Love is patient; love is kind.
   Love is not envious or boastful, or arrogant or rude.
L  Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or
   resentful.
P  Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, 
   but rejoices in the truth.
   It bears all things, believes all things, 
   hopes all things, endures all things.
   Love never ends.
L  We thank you, O God for your love and for how it dwells
   within us as we dwell within you.  Out of your love we pray
   now to you about those things you have placed upon hearts
   this day...  Lord, hear our prayer (rx - and in your love
   answer)

   ..... prayers of thanksgiving and intercession ......


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication

      All knowing God -- you look not only upon our deeds, but
   upon our hearts.  As make our offering to you, we pray
   that you may see in us only love and the desire to be more
   loving, and so accept our offering and bless it at this
   time -- we ask it in the name of Jesus.  Amen


DEDICATION OF THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
- Calling The Board forward and Statement of Purpose
  Questions and Promises
  Prayer of Dedication
- Words of Induction and The Right Hand of Fellowship

Hear These Words From Holy Scripture - Taken from the Sixth
Chapter of The Acts of The Apostles

   (NRSV)  Now during those days, when the disciples were
   increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against
   the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in
   the daily distribution of food. {2} And the twelve called
   together the whole community of the disciples and said,
   "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in
   order to wait on tables. {3} Therefore, friends, select
   from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of
   the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this
   task, {4} while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to
   prayer and to serving the word." {5} What they said
   pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man
   full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip,
   Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a
   proselyte of Antioch. {6} They had these men stand before
   the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. {7}
   The word of God continued to spread; the number of the
   disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many
   of the priests became obedient to the faith. {8} Stephen,
   full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among
   the people.

Within the church of Jesus Christ, from the very beginning, men
and women of good standing and maturity of faith have been chosen
by the community and set aside through prayer to help administer
and oversee the activities of the community so that there might
be good order, fairness, and the love of God made manifest in our
common life together.

Today we install into office the following individuals who were
elected as Officers and Members of the Official Board at our
Annual General Meeting.  As I call their names I would ask them
to stand and to come  forward.....

Minister:     You have been called by the grace of God and duly
   elected or appointed, to be Officers and Members of the
   Official Board of this Congregation.  It is the duty and
   privilege of a member of the Board to share with the minister
   in the government and pastoral oversight of the Congregation. 
   You have responsibility for worship,  administration of the
   sacraments, Christian education, financial stewardship, and
   many other matters that comprise the life and work of this
   part of God's people.  As you come to take up your duties of
   your office, I ask you now, before God and this congregation:
   "Do you profess your faith in God your heavenly Father, in
   Jesus Christ your Saviour and Lord, and in the Holy Spirit,
   your teacher and guide?"   WE DO

   I also ask you - will you endeavour to carry out your
   responsibilities in this congregation with Christian prayer
   and devotion, seeking the Lord's will and denying your own?
   If you are so willing please say, "We will, God being our
   helper"

Minister:     Will the members and adherents of this congregation
   please stand....  Will you support these men and women who
   have responded to the call of God to minister to you, and
   with you, as Officers and Members of the Official Board of
   this congregation?  If you are so willing please say, "We
   will, God being our helper"

Minister: Let us pray
   Eternal God, you call all who believe in you into your
   service and promise grace and strength for the fulfilling of
   you will.  Bless, we pray thee, these men and women who,
   having been called, have offered themselves for this office
   within your church.  Lead them to a deeper knowledge of you. 
   Give them diligence and faithfulness in their study of your
   word, tenderness and patience with all whom they serve, and
   sincerity, singleness of mind, and humility as they accept
   the responsibilities laid upon them.  Help them and us to
   follow in Christ's path and to be a light both in this place
   and to the world.  We ask this in the name of the Head of the
   Church, Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN

   
- Words of Induction (Minister): 
      In the name of God and on behalf of this congregation, I
   install you as the Officers and Members of the Official Board
   of St. Andrew's United Church.  May the blessings of God
   Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you.  Amen

- Right Hand of Fellowship

  
----  Check out George Hartwell's Creative Confirmation 
for a prayer meditation with which to conclude the time of induction
or covenanting.


* SHARING THE PEACE: We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be
   with you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to
   the peace that God gives to those who hear and do his word.


* COMMUNION HYMN: "Here, O My Lord..." (Verse 1-3)            - VU 459


COMMUNION
L  The peace of the Lord be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

- Prayer of Thanksgiving 
- The Words of Institution
- The Invocation of The Holy Spirit
- The Singing of The Lord's Prayer
- Distribution of The Elements

The Eucharistic Prayer and Words of Institution
   Loving God, Holy One, we offer you praise and thanksgiving
   over this bread and this cup, because in Jesus Christ, your
   only child, you have joined yourself to us, uniting heaven
   and earth.

      We remember all that Christ has done for us
       his birth into our humanity
       his baptism for our sin
       his compassion for our suffering
       his intimacy with our frailty
       his rebuke of our pride
       his bearing of the cross for our healing
       his death in our place
       and his resurrection that not only might his faithfulness
           be rewarded but that we might rise with him.

   Indeed O God, we render praise and thanksgiving to you
   through him, for you have revealed to us the nature of your
   faithful and steadfast love; and in him, made us one with
   you.

   So it is, in accordance with Jesus' command and his promise
   to be with us, we thankfully remember that on the night
   before he died, he took bread and giving thanks to you (as we
   now thank you O God for our daily bread), he broke it and
   gave it to his disciples, saying "Take , eat, this is my
   body, given for you"....  We recall too, how when the supper
   was over, Jesus took the cup, the cup of blessing, and after
   giving thanks to you - as we thank you Lord for the cup you
   give us to drink, he gave it to his disciples saying "Drink
   this, all of you; this is my blood, the blood of the new
   covenant, poured out for you and for many, for the
   forgiveness of sins......."  As often as you do this - do it
   in remembrance of me".

The Prayer For The Spirit
   Loving God, creative power, blessing your name, we seek your
   Spirit.  Touch us and these gifts of bread and wine that they
   may be for us the body and blood of Christ Jesus.  As we eat
   and drink together, make us one with Christ and one with each
   other.  We ask it in his name, singing together the prayer he
   taught us....  The Lord's Prayer (Sung)

Sharing The Body and Blood of Christ (please coming forward up
   the centre aisle to receive by intinction {take bread from
   the first server and then dip it into the wine held by the
   second server}.  An appropriate response to the words of the
   servers "The body/blood of Christ broken/poured out for you"
   are "And also for you" or "Amen".)


After Communion Prayer
L  Let us pray.
L  For the love you pour out upon us, 
P  We thank you God.
L  For the grace you have showered upon us, 
P  We praise you God.
L  For how Christ gave himself for us,
P  We  honour you God.
L  For the challenge you set before us,
P  We serve you God.
L  Indeed, O God, we do praise and honour, thank and obey you,
   on account all that you have done, and are doing, and will
   yet do for us and all your people.  Help us, O God, to bless
   others as we have been blessed by you and to love others as
   we have been loved by you.  We ask it in the name of Jesus
   Christ our Lord.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN: O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee             - VU 560


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now
   go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people
   of God, the body of Christ.
                                 
                      
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace
and may the God of all grace 
who has destined you for eternal glory in Christ Jesus 
restore, establish and strengthen you in faith,
that you may know the fullness of his blessings 
and the glory of being witnesses to his saving and redeeming love
both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                          - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks,  1999 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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