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Sermon and Liturgy For Thanksgiving - Year B
Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 126; Matthew 6:25-33
"Stone Soup"


READING:  Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 126; Matthew 6:25-33 
SERMON :  "Stone Soup"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-thansmsu.y-b 573898

   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.

   Sources:  The Whole People of God Curriculum in 1994 provided the
   initial source for our variation of the story "Stone Soup" and
   the Rev. Dave Jagger (djagger@golden.net) formerly of the
   Fordwich PC in Ontario helped to provide some of the reflections
   following the telling of that tale..
 
 
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP:
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.  
P    Worship God with gladness 
     and come into his presence with happy songs.
P    The Lord is our God.  
     He made us, and we belong to him.  
     We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
L    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.  
     Give thanks to him and bless his name.
P    The Lord is good.  His steadfast love endures forever.


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


* PRAYER OF APPROACH 
Gracious God, you who supply your people with every blessing in abundance,
lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving this day.  Help us, we
pray, to thank you for the gifts we seldom notice, to praise you for the
bounty we often take for granted, and to glorify your name for how you have
watched over us through another year of seedtime and of harvest.  For all
that you have done, for all that you are, and for all that you will ever
do, we lift up our voices in praise to you.  Hear our prayer and our song
and help us to live as ones with eternally grateful hearts - we ask it in
Jesus' name.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Come, You Thankful People, Come"                         - VU 516


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


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Giving Thanks"
Theme     Giving Thanks and Thanks Giving
Object         Thanksgiving Decorations and Food Stuffs
Source    Common

Today is a special day, and we have all around us some special decorations
for it.    Can anyone tell me why they are here???  Can you name me some of
the things that you see???......   What makes them special to you????  

There is a lot of food here on the communion table --  which things that
are here do you like to eat???  Have any of you grown your own food this
year???  What did you grow???  What was the easiest and the hardest part of
growing it???

Sometimes getting a harvest isn't easy.  In fact sometimes it is very
difficult.  Last year for some farmers it was too dry - and for others  it
was too  wet.  But the wonderful thing is that even when it isn't easy, God
takes care of us.  God works through creation and through other people to
give us what we need.  When we give thanks to God we are saying thank you
for the food we get from the earth and for the help that we get from other
people.

I think that everyone here today is thankful for the food that we have to
eat --- what other things are we thankful to God for -- CAN YOU NAME SOME
OTHER THINGS YOU WOULD LIKE TO THANK GOD FOR?

Today - after everything is over - we are going to thank God in a special
way - by sharing the food that is here with other people - so that they may
have something to thank God for as well.  We can also share all the other
things that God has given us - to make this a true "Thanks Giving"   

Let us put the things we have brought up on the table now  - and around -
the decorations and the special offerings -- and then let us pray together
afterward (receive and help place the offerings).....


PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
     Let us pray:  Dear Lord God - we thank you for looking after us -
     for giving us what we need  - from the earth, the sea and the sky
     - through the labour of our hands - and the caring of other
     people. -- You have blessed us in many ways - and we ask you now
     - to help us be a blessing to others - especially to those in
     need - through Christ our Lord.   Amen

     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


* HYMN:  "We Plough The Fields and Scatter"                        - VU 520


TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD  (verse 2 - VU 371)
  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!


A READING FROM JOEL 2:21-27 
     (NIV) Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the Lord has
     done great things.  Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open
     pastures are becoming green.  The trees are bearing their fruit; the
     fig tree and the vine yield their riches.  Be glad, O people of Zion,
     rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in
     righteousness.  He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring
     rains, as before.  The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the
     vats will overflow with new wine and oil.  'I will repay you for the
     years the locusts have eaten -- the great locust and the young locust,
     the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent
     among you.  You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you
     will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for
     you; never again will my people be shamed.  Then you will know that I
     am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other;
     never again will my people be shamed.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 126 (VU page 850) and Gloria Patri Sung
     Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. 
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen



A READING FROM MATTHEW 6:25-33
     (NIV) Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what
     you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. 
     Is not life more important than food, and the body more important
     than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or
     reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
     them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by
     worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 

     "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the
     field grow.  They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not
     even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 
     If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here
     today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more
     clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying,
     'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we
     wear?'   For the pagans run after all these things, and your
     heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his
     kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given
     to you as well.

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


* HYMN:  "Seek Ye First"                                           - VU 356


SERMON:  "Stone Soup"  

     Let us Pray - O God, light of the minds that know you, life of
     the souls that love you, and strength of the hearts that seek you
     - bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. 
     We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen

Today, I want to tell you a story.  Some of you have heard the story before
and some of you have not.  In either case I am sure you will enjoy hearing
it.

It is the story of Stone Soup.  There are many versions of it around.  My
version goes like this:

     Once upon a time a stranger rode his tired horse down a back
     country road on his way home from a long journey.   It was late
     afternoon and the man was tired and hungry.  Ahead he saw a small
     village.  "I'll get something to eat there and find a place for
     the night.", he thought.

     Suddenly the horse tripped, throwing the stranger to the ground. 
     As he brushed himself off, he saw that the horse had stumbled
     over a rock sticking out of the ground in the middle of the road. 
     He walked over to it and dug it out of the earth so that it would
     not trip anyone else.  It was a splendid rock, almost perfectly
     round and smooth.  The stranger liked the rock, so rather than
     throw it away, he put it in his saddle bag, climbed up on his
     horse, and continued into the village.

     As he road past the first houses the village people stopped their
     to stare.  He waved to several of them, but no one waved back. 
     He got off his horse and approached a woman standing in front of
     a small house.  "Good evening," he said cheerfully, "Could you
     spare a bit of food for a hungry man?"

     The woman began shaking her head almost before he had finished
     his sentence.  "We have had a poor harvest here.  We are very
     worried that there is barely enough food for our family.  I am
     sorry."  And she walked into her house and shut the door.

     The man continued to the next house where a farmer was working on
     his wagon.  "Do you have a place at your table for a hungry
     traveller?" he asked.

     "It didn't rain during the last month before harvest," the farmer
     said. "What little we have is needed for our children."

     At every home the stranger heard the same sad story:  The harvest
     had been poor, there was not enough food to make it through the
     winter.  Everyone was very worried about themselves and their
     immediate family.

     Completely discouraged and very hungry the man sat down under a
     tree in the village square.  "Poor people,": he thought,  "in a
     few weeks they will be as hungry as I am."  Suddenly an idea hit
     him.  He reached into his saddle bag, took out the stone and
     addressed the villagers.  "Gentle folk of the village", he
     shouted, "Your worries are over.  I have in my hand a special
     stone that will help take you through the long winter.  This is a
     magic stone.  With it you can make stone soup."

     "Stone soup?" and old man repeated.  "I have never heard of stone
     soup."

     "The wonder of stone soup," the stranger continued, "is that it
     not only feeds hungry people, it also brings people together. 
     Now who has a large empty pot?"

     Quickly a huge iron pot was found, and delivered to the stranger
     in a wheel barrow.  "The kettle is barely large enough, but it
     will do," the stranger said.  "Now we must fill the pot with
     water and start a fire."

     Eager hands carried buckets of water and firewood.  Soon the pot
     was placed over a roaring fire.  As the water began to boil the
     stranger dramatically raised the magic stone above his head, and
     then he gently placed it in the kettle.

     "Stone soup needs salt and pepper," the stranger announced.

     Two children ran to find salt and pepper.  After the water had
     boiled for few minutes the stranger sipped the brew.  "This stone
     makes an excellent soup, but it would be better if we had a few
     carrots."

     "We have a few carrots that we're willing to share," a farmer
     replied.  Immediately his daughter ran home and returned with an
     apron full of carrots.

     "Its too bad the harvest was so bad," said the stranger.  "Stone
     soup is always much more tasty when we add a cabbage or two."

     "I think I know where to find a cabbage," a young mother shouted
     as she dashed towards her home.  When she returned she was
     carrying three large cabbages.

     The stranger was busy slicing carrots and cabbages with his
     hunting knife.  "The last time I made stone soup was at the
     castle of a rich man.  He added a few potatoes and a bit of
     beef."

     Several people talked quietly, "A bit of beef and we can eat like
     rich people", they whispered.  They went home and soon returned
     not only with beef and potatoes, but some brought milk, onions
     and barley too.

     By the time the soup was ready it was almost dark.  It was the
     most delicious soup that they had ever smelled and to think, it
     all came from the magic stone.  The stranger finally declared
     that it was done and invited everyone to have as much as they
     could eat. 

     After everyone had eaten their full, some folk brought out their
     fiddles.  Everyone began to sing and dance - and they continued
     till the wee hours of the morning.  Never had the village people
     had such a wonderful party.

     The next morning the whole village gathered to say goodbye to the
     stranger.  As he mounted his horse a small child called out, "You
     forgot to take your magic stone!"

     The stranger smiled.  "I am going to leave the stone with you as
     gift of gratitude for your hospitality," he said.  "Remember, as
     long as you make stone soup, you will never have to worry about
     being hungry."

     As he rode off a grandfather put his arm around the shoulders of
     his young granddaughter and said, "Do you remember the other bit
     of magic that the stranger promised when you make stone soup?" he
     asked.

     "Yes," she said, "the stone brings people closer together."

Today we celebrate the goodness of our God in providing to us the bounty of
earth, sea, and sky -
     the goodness of God who grants to us both seedtime and harvest,
          the goodness of God who shares with us the love that is in his
heart and calls us to likewise share.

Some facts I would like you to think about today.  They came from a note
that I received from a member of the congregation a couple of weeks ago. 
It concerns a variety of the blessings we have received in this most
special land in which we live.  It goes like this:

     If you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed.   One-
     third of the world does not have access to even one..

     If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you
     are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week..

     If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the
     loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of
     starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people around the
     world..

     If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment,
     arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed that almost three
     billion people in the world.

     If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a
     roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75%
     of this world.

     If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change
     in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the worlds
     wealthy..

     If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare,
     even here in North America.

     If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly
     thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do
     not..

     If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on
     the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer God's healing
     touch..

     If you prayed yesterday and today, you are in the minority
     because you believe in God's willingness to hear and answer
     prayer..

The story of Stone Soup is a story about sharing and caring when blessings
seem scarce.
The stone brings people closer together, and feeds those who are hungry.

It reminds us that everyone, no matter how poor they may seem, has some
gift or contribution they can make for the betterment of all.  A gift for
which we should give thanks.  A gift which we, who may be rich  as the
world counts riches, not should slight or ignore - no matter how small that
gift may seem to some.

We here in Golden are blessed.  Some have more - some less - but each one
of us has something we can share - some way in which we can offer God's
healing touch - some way in which we can come together and add to the pot
that feeds all who hunger for food and drink and for warmth and love..

This Thanksgiving Sunday, like so many in the past we here at St. Andrew's
are sharing.

We bring as we do each week our tithes and our offerings for God's work in
this place and beyond; and we bring a special harvest offering to be shared
in the community through our community Food Bank and through our own
Sharing Cupboard.  We have our own version of stone soup happening -
without the pot or the stone - and that is good.

But Thanksgiving is not simply about sharing 
  whether it be from our abundance or from our relative poverty.

Rather Thanksgiving with its two components -
- the giving of Thanks
- and the sharing or giving of a portion of the blessings we have 
- be those blessings little or be they much, 
is about trust and about faith.
- the trust that God will provide all we need day by day
- and the faith to live as God has directed us to live no matter what our
circumstances may be.

     Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we
     drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all
     these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
     But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these
     things will be given to you as well.

Thanks be to God who indeed has given us all that we need -
blessings not just of food and drink, warmth and shelter,
but blessings as well of love and acceptance, forgiveness and hope, prayer
and praise, love and joy.

Trust in him each day and live as he leads you to live 
safe in the love of Christ Jesus our Lord and our brother,
- he who offered up his life for the world knowing that God would be true
to his promises.

I end with his words - as found in the Gospel According to Luke, in the
sixth chapter.

     "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and
     you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 
     Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
     shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.
     For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."


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


THE PASTORAL PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Creator God, how rich and beautiful is world you have made.  We confess
that we often forget to give you thanks, acting as though what we have is
of our own achievement.  We consume the fruits of creation, forgetting that
you call us to bear fruit ourselves.  We often do not share with others the
way you intended.  We treat your generosity as  our right and hug it
possessively to ourselves.  Sometimes we are so blind that we can see no
reason to give you thanks.  Forgive us, O God.  Help us to trust in you so
that we will stop worrying and share freely with others, knowing that your
grace will never run out..... Lord, hear our prayer...

O God, our creator and maker, our Father and our Friend, we thank you for
all you have made and for how good it is.  Our eyes delight in the beauty
of all that you have caused to exist, our ears ring with the harmony of all
that you have given voice to,  our hands are full of all that you have
given, our hearts rejoice in all that you have done.   O God, we thank you
for your gracious and giving love.... Lord hear our prayer...

Father - we each give you thanks today in the silence of our hearts for how
you have blessed us richly - and we name but some of those blessings before
your people in this sanctuary of your presence, saying, Lord, thank you.... 
 
     Lord, thank you for this marvellous place to live....  
     Our BIDDING PRAYERS OF THANKS....  

Lord hear our prayer...

Lord, we remember too before you those in various kinds of need to day, and
we pray for them now in the silence of our hearts - and name but some aloud
before you....   (BIDDING PRAYER)....  Lord hear our prayer....

We ask all these things, O God, in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord.  AMEN


MINUTE FOR MISSION


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

     Gracious and giving God - you have poured out your abundance upon
     us in this land - and we thank you.  We remember that what we
     have comes from you and that it is you who gives us strength to
     build homes and to acquire wealth.  So it is at this time, O God,
     we make our thank offering to you.  We pray that you will bless
     it on its way.  By it, and by all our actions, may others be
     blessed, and your name truly glorified - this both now and
     forevermore.  Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN: "How Great Thou Art"                             - VU 238


* 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 & THREEFOLD AMEN                                     - VU 971
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name,
- may God lead you in righteousness all your days, 
- may he bestow upon you a spirit of thanksgiving and a tongue of praise
both now and forevermore.  Amen

SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                                  - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1994 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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