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Sermon (2) and Liturgy for Ordinary 23 - Proper 18 - Year A
Romans 13:8-14 and Matthew 18:15-20
"Living In The Light"


READING:  Romans 13:8-14 and Matthew 18:15-20
SERMON :  "Living In The Light"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or23susn 848685
                  
   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)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (from Psalm 115)
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  Trust in the Lord, you people of Israel.  
   He helps you and protects you.
P  Trust in the Lord, you priests of God. 
   He helps you and protects you.
L  Trust in the Lord, all you that worship him.  
   He helps you and protects you.
P  The Lord remembers us and will bless us.  
L  God blesses everyone who honours him, 
   the great and the small alike.


* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day" (verse 1)                            - VU 412


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION:
Loving God - we thank you.  We thank you for how you hold us by our hand as
we learn to walk in your ways - for how you seek us out when we wander from
your path - for how you watch over us in times of peril and times of ease. 
We praise you, O God, for your love and we thank you for your mercy and
your grace.  We thank you for not only accepting us - but for encouraging
us - supporting us - giving us life.  As we meet before you now - guide and
lead us by the power of your living word.  May our song, our prayer, our
speaking and our listening, our thinking and our doing give you glory, both
now and forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN: "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"                            - VU 232


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

       Due to the Baptismal and Communion Order our Bidding Prayers
       are offered here rather than following the sermon.

	   
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Hear O God our prayers for the special people and the particular events
that lie upon our hearts this day --

We hold before you those of our own community who are in need....
   -
   -
   -

We hold before you our world - and especially those people and places
affected by terrorism, war, and disaster - both those who are victims and
those who work to bring healing...
   - 
   -
   -
   -

Lord, hear our prayer....

We give thanks today
   - for those being baptised and confirmed
   - for the special things that have happened....
   - for the joys you, O God, have brought...

These we offer to you in Jesus' name.  Amen


INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated)  VU 371 v.2

  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 ROMANS 13:8-14
   (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to
   love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the
   law. 

   The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not
   steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be,
   are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." 
   Love does no harm to its neighbour.  Therefore love is the fulfilment
   of the law.  And do this, understanding the present time.  The hour has
   come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is
   nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the
   day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put
   on the armour of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not
   in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not
   in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord
   Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the
   sinful nature.

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


FAVOURITE HYMN:  "Jesus, Our Brother"                               - VU 56


A READING FROM MATTHEW 18:15-20
   (NIV) "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault,
   just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won
   your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two
   others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the
   testimony of two or three witnesses.'  If he refuses to listen to
   them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the
   church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. "I tell
   you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
   and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  "Again, I
   tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask
   for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two
   or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

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


SERMON:  "Living In The Light"

   Lord, we would follow thee.  We would be and do all that you have
   created us to be and do.  Guide, O Lord, the words of my lips and
   the meditations of our hearts - at this time - and indeed always. 
   Amen

Hear this text again - from Romans 13:11 - the Contemporary English Version 
Paul writes:     

   "You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live
   properly.  It is time to wake up.  You know that the day when we
   will be saved is nearer now than we first put our faith in the Lord. 
   Night is almost over, and day will soon appear.  We must stop
   behaving as people do in the dark an be ready to live in the light."

Live properly -- be ready to live in the light.

I would like to start by sharing something I clipped a few years ago from
the 'United Church Observer'.  The Observer wrote, under the headline
"Holier, Happier, Healthier":

   -- "Attending church regularly is not only good for your soul, it's
   also good for the rest of you, according to Time magazine.  In a
   recent cover story about changing attitudes to health, the magazine
   cited several scientific studies which indicate people who are
   religious are markedly healthier than those who aren't.  Their blood
   pressure is lower, they have fewer heart problems, they're less
   prone to depression - they even recover faster and more completely
   from hip fractures."

Neat stuff -- Something that we all should think about - especially those
of us who are not regular in the worship of God - and those who are
thinking about giving up on church.

It is the stuff of biblical promises which have always said that if we
follow God - if we love God and obey the Lord's commands that we will
prosper...  Let me share some 

Moses - speaking to the people just before his death said:

   (extracts from Deuteronomy 28:1-13) - "always obey the laws and the
   teachings of the Lord and the Lord will make your businesses and
   your farms successful -- he will make you his own special people --
   he will make you successful in your daily work -- he will open the
   storehouses of the skies where he keeps the rain and he will send
   rain on your land at just the right times -- he will make you a
   leader among the nations and not a follower"

   Jesus - in the Sermon on the Mount, speaking about anxiety and worry about
   what to wear, what to eat, how to get by says, as it is put in the hymn
   based on that same passage - and you better sing it with me so that it
   sounds right:

   "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, then all
   these things shall be added unto you -- Allelu - Alleluia" (Matthew
   6:33)

Allelu, Alleluiah indeed!!...

Of course there is not a strict relationship between faith, between
attending church regularly, between keeping the commandments of God and
worldly success - THE CROSS should tell us that - the Book of Job tells us
that   the Spirit in our hearts tells us that   but all in all - being with
God, being in the family of God, and acting out - living out -your faith in
a community, in a church, in worship with one another, is one of the best
things you can do -- in worldly terms - as well as spiritual.

But even as I say this - let me remind you - around the world Priests and
missionaries - and people who gather for the worship of God - are killed
simply because of the gospel they believe in, because of the name that they
bear.

Faith is not simply about attending church  and prospering because of it.

It is about commitment.  
About belief.  
About courage.  
About passion. 
About love.  

Love even when you don't want to love.  
Love even when your brother or your sister hurts you.
Love even when it takes you to a cross   instead of to a Cadillac.

Nevertheless I marvel my friends - and so perhaps ought you:  I marvel at
how so many people who do not believe miss what seems to be so obvious to
those who do believe - that God's promises are sure and that the faithful
are rewarded in this world by what Jesus calls, in tenth verse of the tenth
chapter of the Gospel of John - "abundant life" or "life in its fullest" -
and in the next by what we call "eternal life" 

The abundant life is not a life of worldly riches - but rather a life full
of spiritual treasures - a long life which commences now - and continues
forever.

Think on it long and hard my friends:  statistics suggest and the honest
scientist can't rule out the idea that the claims of our faith are true -- 
that loving God and obeying his commands, that attending church regularly
and living properly, that living in the light - has real benefits.

So what does it mean to live properly - to live in the light???

Well, Paul suggests that it means several things -- some of them very
pedestrian, very simple, very common sense - very much like what good
mothers and good fathers have told their children for centuries: (Verse 13)

   -- don't go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent
   -- and don't quarrel or be jealous.

There are obvious benefits to these things are there not??? 
   - no bad reputation - no hang overs 
   - no having done things one would regret if only one could remember
   what it was one had done 
   - no people looking askance at you because of your vile mouth or
   avoiding you because of your inappropriate acts
   - no senseless feuds brought about by insisting that your point is
   correct and someone else's is wrong 
   - no green tinge about your gills as you fume about how someone else
   has managed to get more than you have 
   - no more pain in the gut as you think about how little you have 

Pretty obvious stuff with pretty obvious benefits.

But there is more to this living properly - living in the light - than what
is obvious.

Paul goes on in verse 14 to say

   "Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near you as the clothes you wear. 
   Then you  won't try to satisfy your selfish desires."

To live properly, to live in the light, is to do more than simply follow a
bunch of rules;  it is more than the legalism of the scribes and pharisees
and the doctrinaire approach to things of the rabidly orthodox and the
politically correct.

To live properly, to live in the light, is to be close to the one who is
the light
   it is to be in intimate communion with, to be in touch with, the one
   who vanquishes darkness
       it is to put on, to wear, to be indwelt by, the Spirit of the one
       who made the heavens and the earth and who knows from his own
       experience our every weakness.

And this my friends is above all a matter of attitude - a matter of desire
- a matter of the Spirit which is in us.

The Christian life is not a matter of rules and regulations!  It is a
matter of wanting to be like the Lord Jesus and of believing in him - and
of following him, of living by the love that he showed us when he went to
that cross and died for us.

Listen to Paul again as God speaks through him  -reading back in verses 9
and 10 of today's reading:

   "In the law there are many commands, such as, 'be faithful in
   marriage.  Do not murder.  Do not steal.  Do not want what belongs
   to others.'  But all these are summed up in the command that says,
   'love others as much you love yourself'.

Love is the basic stuff of living by faith  
   and love is not a matter of the law 
   - nor even is it a matter of what we feel -
   it is a matter of the will.

What do you will??  What do you want??
What do you desire??  What do you strive to bring about??

To return to a passage I quoted - or sang - a bit earlier.  Matthew 6:33 -
this time from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible:

   "More than anything put God's work first and do what he wants.  Then
   the other things will be yours as well."

Live properly, live in the light.
Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear
More than anything, put God's work first and do what God wants....

Today we celebrate a special moment in our faith community - 
   a special moment in the life of Tim and Marika and every member of
   their family
a special moment in the Kingdom of God.

We celebrate how the lost have been found.
How the dead have come to life
How the wounded have been healed.
How the blind have received sight.
How the crucified have risen.

That is what baptism and confirmation are all about.
That is what the Lord's Supper is all about.
That indeed is what the Kingdom of God is all about.

Living in the light is a marvellous thing my friends.
But it has its deep and serious side.

The light asks us - and shows us -  that we owe to one another the kind of
love God has for us.

It calls us to take upon ourselves a solemn obligation - a solemn debt,
      the debt of gratitude and thanksgiving 
      the obligation of actually giving a hoot.

That means my friends - that we must be willing in our relationships with
one another to go first.
   - To be the first to reach out after a quarrel.
   - To be the first to try to work things out after we have been sinned
   against.
   - To be the first, when things can't be worked out, and even when they
   can, to trust God for results,
   - to be first in seeking reconciliation - and the first to refuse to
fret or grow anxious or bitter or hateful because of what has happened to
us.

Living in the light is a wondrous thing to do, 
a hard thing to do 
- a glorious thing to do.

A thing that benefits us from now - to eternity.
A thing that transforms us - and which can transform our world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hear today - as we come to perform the
sacrament of Holy Baptism  and to confirm the presence of the Holy Spirit
in the lives of Tim and Marika and Robert, the words of Jesus.  Hear and
remember how before Jesus ascended into heaven he spoke to his followers,
saying:  

   "All authority in heaven and on earth have been given me.  Go
   therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
   name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching
   them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you
   always, to the close of the age.

I am with you always. even to the close of the age.... 

This is the promise of God for all - and all those who walk in the light
know it and rejoice in it.  Praise be to God.


LET US PRAY 
Lord Jesus -- Heavenly Father - Divine Spirit -- we know that the night is
almost over - and that the day of salvation draws near - and we thank for
it.   We have heard your word that says to us that it is time to wake up -
that it is time to live properly - that it is time for us to be ready to
live in the light of your eternal kingdom and your glorious and everlasting
presence.  WE pray, O God that you would help us to wake - and help us to
live in the way that Jesus has shown to us.  Help us each day to keep him
near to us - help us each day to follow in his path --- Lord hear our
prayer....

Lord, in a few moments we will be celebrating the sacraments of your love:
baptism in which we proclaim how you love us and receive us in your family,
of how when we die with you we also rise with you -- and Holy Communion in
which we proclaim the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting.  Lord, 
help us to love one another as you love us - help us to reach out to those
who have offended us and hurt us and seek reconciliation.  Strip from us
the pride that prevents us from going first and  the pain that stops us
from opening our hearts to those who have sinned against us. ..Lord hear
our prayer...

Lord - we thank you and we praise you for hearing our prayers and for
coming unto us to be our saviour and our guide - our brother and our
friend.  We thank you and we give our lives over to you.  Amen


INVITATION PRIOR TO HYMN  "Life's Railway To Heaven"

   The Next Hymn is Found in The Bulletin -- it is "Life's Railway To
   Heaven" - it speaks of our faith walk and is most appropriate for
   today.  As we sing it I would ask all those who are to be baptized
   and those who are about to renew their baptismal vows to come
   forward to the font along with their sponsors and the
   representatives of this congregation.

        -- Sponsors, parents, candidates, and the appointed elders
       come forward. --

Life is like a mountain railroad, with an engineer that's brave;
We must make the run successful, from the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels; never falter, never quail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

   Refrain:
       Blessed Saviour, Thou wilt guide us,
       Till we reach that blissful shore;
       Where the angels wait to join us
       In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trial; you will cross the bridge of strife;
See that Christ is your Conductor on this lightning train of life;
Always mindful of obstruction, do your duty, never fail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

   Refrain

You will often find obstructions; look for storms of wind and rain;
On a fill, or curve, or trestle, they will almost ditch your train;
Put your trust alone in Jesus; never falter, never fail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

   Refrain

As you roll across the trestle, spanning Jordan's swelling tide,
You behold the Union Depot into which your train will glide;
There you'll meet the Superintendent, God the Father, God the Son,
With the hearty, joyous, plaudit, "Weary pilgrim, welcome home!

   Refrain


BAPTISM AND THE RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL VOWS
- Presentation of Candidates For Infant Baptism
- Presentation of Candidates for Adult Baptism 
- Presentation of Candidate For Renewal of Baptismal Vows 
- Candidates Profession of Faith and Promises
- Corporate Promises and Profession of Faith

- THE NEW CREED (from the United Church of Canada)
L: We are not alone, we live in God's world.
P: We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in
   Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us
   and others by the Spirit. We trust in God.  We are called to be the
   Church, to celebrate God's presence, to live with respect in creation,
   to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim
   Jesus, crucified and risen, our Judge and our Hope. In life, in death,
   in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to
   God.

- Prayer For Baptismal Faith
- Blessing of Water
- Baptism of Children 
- Baptism and Confirmation of Adults
- Concluding Prayer - "Denkgebet"


* HYMN: "Child of Blessing, Child of Promise"                      - VU 444


* 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

   Gracious God - as we present to you our tithes and offerings we pray
   that you would help us to remember that all we have comes from you. 
   Bless what is upon these plates and what is in our hearts that
   together we may bring you glory and show forth the wonder and the
   power of your love to the world.  We ask it in Jesus' name.


* 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 thoe who hear and do his word.


* COMMUNION HYMN:  "As We Gather At Your Table"                    - VU 457


COMMUNION LITANY
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
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.


EUCHARISTIC PRAYER  (Based on The Prayer of Hippolytus)
   We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Servant, Jesus Christ.
   he whom you sent to save us and redeem us, and be the messenger of your
   will.  He is your Word, inseparable from you, through whom you made all
   things and in whom you take delight.

   We praise you, O Lord, for how you sent him from heaven into the
   Virgin's womb, where he was conceived, and took flesh.  Born of the
   Holy Spirit and the Virgin, he was revealed to us as your Son.

   We thank you for how, in fulfilment of your will he stretched out his
   hands in suffering to release from suffering those who place their hope
   in you.  In doing so he won for you a holy people .

   We recall O God, how of his own free choice Jesus was handed over to
   his passion in order to make an end of death and to shatter the chains
   of the evil one, to trample underfoot the powers of hell and to lead
   the righteous into light, to establish the boundaries of death and to
   manifest the resurrection.


WORD OF INSTITUTION AND THE BLESSING 
  So it is as we gather in praise and thanksgiving at this time, we
   remember how on the night before his passion he took bread and gave you
   thanks, saying: "Take and eat: this is my body which will be broken for
   you."  We recall as well how, in the same way, when the meal was over, 
   he took the cup, and gave it to his disciples, saying: "This is my
   blood, which will be shed for you.  When you do this, you do it in
   memory of me."

   Oh, Lord, as we have been commanded, and remembering the death and the
   resurrection of your Son, we offer you this bread and this cup,
   thankful that you have counted us worthy to serve you.  We entreat you
   to send you Holy Spirit upon the offering of your holy Church (sign of
   the cross over the elements) making it for us, communion in the body
   and the blood of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  

   Father, we pray thee, gather into one all who share in these sacred
   mysteries, filling them with the Holy Spirit and confirming their faith
   in the truth, that together we may always praise you and give you glory
   through your Servant, Jesus Christ, he who taught us to pray together
   as one family, singing...

       Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy
       kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
       Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our
       trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and
       lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For
       thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and
       ever.  Amen


THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS: The congregation is invited to come
   forward up the centre aisle in two lines, then return to their seats by
   the side aisles


DEPARTING PRAYER
L: Let us pray (silence, then when the Leader starts, say)
P: For the bread we have eaten, for the wine we have tasted, 
   for the life we have received, we thank you God.  
   Grant that what we have done and have been given here today 
   may so put its mark upon us that it may remain always in our hearts. 
   Grant that we may become mature Christians, 
   that ours may be the faith that issues in action, 
   through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Nearer, My God, To Thee"                       - VU 497


* 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 - love and care for one another in the name of Christ
and may The Lord bless you and keep you, 
may the Lord make his face to shine upon you 
and be gracious unto you, 
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, 
now and forevermore.  Amen


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

 
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2002 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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