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Sermon and Liturgy for The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year C
Revelation 21:10,22 -22:5; Psalm 67; John 14:23-29
"Not As The World Gives"


READING:  Revelation 21:10,22 -22:5; Psalm 67; John 14:23-29
SERMON :  "Not As The World Gives"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea06sm.y-c 614

   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 children's story is loosely based on one found
   in CSS Plus  Vol 25. no.2  (CSS Publishing).  Sermon  
   illustrations from Rev. David Jagger, "Visions and Dreams
   In God's Great Scheme - A Sermon for Easter 6C, 1995"; and
   to King Duncan. "Hope Wins" A Sermon for May 21 1995 in 
   Dynamic Preaching, 1995

   
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* CALL TO WORSHIP: 
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:   Come before God and rejoice in his presence.  Worship God
     and pay him his due. 
P:   The Lord calls to us and asks us to gather in his name. 
L:   He calls to us and asks us to love him and keep his word.
P:   He calls to us that so he may pour out his Spirit upon us.
L:   He calls to us so that he might grant us his peace.
P:   He calls to us so that he might make his home within us.
L:   God calls to us that he might bless us.  Rejoice and pay the
     Lord his due.  Bless his holy name and keep his word both
     now and always.

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


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION  
Gracious God - we thank you for this Spring Day - this day that 
is full of new life - of new possibilities - of new hope.  We 
thank you for the signs we see around us - for the buds and flowers 
upon the trees --  for the tender shoots in our fields and gardens 
and for the new born creatures in our barns and paddocks - we thank
for the many things that tell us that you are good.  We thank you 
too today, O God, for gathering us together in the name of the risen 
Christ that you might bless us and teach us and lead us in the way 
we should go.  We pray O God that we might hear and do all that you
and he have commanded -- and that you might abide within us and
make us your home.  All these things we pray in Christ's name --
Amen


* HYMN:  "Alleluiah, Alleluiah, Give Thanks"                - SFGP 34

  
FIRST READING: Revelation 21:10,22 -22:5
  (NIV)  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and
   high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of
   heaven from God.

   I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and
   the Lamb are its temple. {23} The city does not need the sun or the
   moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb
   is its lamp. {24} The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of
   the earth will bring their splendour into it. {25} On no day will its
   gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. {26} The glory
   and honour of the nations will be brought into it. {27} Nothing impure
   will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or
   deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book
   of life.

   Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as
   crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb {2} down the
   middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river
   stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its
   fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of
   the nations. {3} No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God
   and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
   {4} They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
   {5} There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a
   lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.
   And they will reign for ever and ever.
   
L:   This is the word of the Lord.
P:   Thanks be to God.

      
CHILDREN'S TIME: "The One Who Looks After Us"
Object:   - List of instructions for A Babysitter
Theme     - Jesus has a plan for us  
Source    - based loosely upon Children's Sermon Service Plus 
          Vol 25. no.2 for The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C.

Good morning...  Sometimes our parents go away for a while too -
just overnight - does that ever happen to you???  How do you feel
when they are gone???  A bit scared???  Glad???  Do you miss
them???  Why or Why nor???  (we stay at grandma's - or we have a
Babysitter).

How many of you have had a babysitter stay with you???   What do
your parents tell you about the babysitter???  About themselves 
(don't worry - we'll be OK -- don't worry - the sitter will look
after you). 

You know the babysitter will look after you very well too -- do
you know why??? -- Because your parents tell them what to do --
they normally write out a list of instructions to make sure
everything goes right -- Have a bath at 7:30 pm --- watch the
Video we left for the kids -- put them to bed at 9:30 - let them
have ice cream and cookies before -- don't forget their hug from
us and to say prayers -- you can get hold of us at 344-2929 -- if
you get into trouble take the kids next door right away -- we'll
be home before midnight.

All through Easter we have heard about Jesus rose from the dead
and visited with his disciples and talked with them and ate with
them.  He did this for 40 days -- but then Jesus left Earth and
he went to heaven - to that place we just heard about - to get
things ready for us there.  Before he left - he gave us a special
gift - the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT - which does everything that
God tells it to do - it looks after us - and he also gave us a
set of instructions about what we should do -- And the Holy
Spirit reminds us of what is on the list.   We don't have to
worry while Jesus is heaven - because through the Spirit we hear
his words and experience his love each day -- and we know what to
do until he returns for us.


PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
   Dear Lord God -- We thank you for Jesus -- And for all 
   the things he said - We thank you too for the Holy
   Spirit -- And how it looks after us -- Help us not be
   afraid -- and to do all that you ask us to do -- 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    


CHILDREN'S HYMN:  "Give Me Oil"                             - SFGP 130


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 67 (VU 786 with Refrain)


GOSPEL READING: John 14:23-29
   (NIV)  Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
   My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home
   with him. {24} He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. 
   These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who
   sent me. {25} "All this I have spoken while still with you. {26} But
   the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
   will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have
   said to you. {27} Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do
   not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled
   and do not be afraid. {28} "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I
   am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am
   going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. {29} I have
   told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will
   believe.

L:   This is the gospel of the Lord.
P:   Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN: O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go                      - VU 658


SERMON:  "Not As The World Gives"

          O God, speak in this place, in the calming of
          our minds and the longing of our hearts, by
          the words of my lips and in the meditations
          of our hearts.  Speak, O Lord, for your
          servants listen.  Amen.

     "And in the Spirit, one of the seven angels carried me
     away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy
     city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God... 
     And then the angel showed me the river of the water of
     life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God
     and of the lamb through the middle of street of the city"

One time a Sunday School teacher was talking about the end of time
- about Heaven and the Kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem.  She
told her class of youngsters about the "crowns of glory" that await
people who believe.  "Now tell me," she said at the close of the
lesson, "Who will get the biggest crown?"  There was a silence for
a moment, then one bright youngster piped out, "The one who has the
biggest head."  

John's vision - the Revelation that occupies the very last pages
of our bibles - has many interpreters. 

The youngster in the story that I just told  probably knows as
much as any of us about the shape of that which is to come, but
from the Revelation of John we know this:
-- we know that while there will be trials and tribulations and
great afflictions at the close of the age,  that God will win
over them and Christ will reign triumphant;
-- we know that sin and death will be no more and that Christ's
glory will light up the universe and his love will light up every
heart;
-- we know that the faithful will drink of the water of the river
of life and that there will be nothing accursed anymore - that
God himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

That my friends is the consistent promise made by Christ when he
walked upon this earth and when at the end, with his blood, he
established the New Covenant - the New Testament - for the
forgiveness of sins.  And that is the promise which God testified
to and upheld when he raised Jesus as the first fruit - the first
born - from the dead. 

My friends - have you ever asked yourself - what makes the people
of God different from the people who are in the world - what
makes us unique?

You know don't you - that because of whose we are - we are
supposed to be unique - to be different?
Not only are we supposed to live differently than those who don't
believe, different things are supposed to happen to us - things
which do not happen to those who do not believe.

Eternal life is one of them my friends.  The victory of Christ is
promised to those are faithful -
-- to those who wash their robes in the blood of the lamb
-- to those who repent of their sins and turn to God for
forgiveness and mercy.

Today I want to look at four other things that Jesus promised
that he would give his disciples 
- things that make us different 
- things that make a difference for us 
- a difference for us here and now,  and later for eternity.  

Each of them is promised to us by Christ in today's Gospel
Reading.

FIRST - as it is written in the 23rd verse - Jesus has promised
to us that if we love him - and show that our love for him is
real by keeping his word, that both he and the Father will come
to us and live in us - that they make their home with us.

That is the word of God.

That thing which Israel longed for - as he wandered in the
wilderness - will be ours.  
     God will not only dwell in our temples and churches - as he
     dwelt on Mt. Sinai and in the Tabernacle -  Christ will not
     only be present where two or three of us are gathered in his
     name -
God will dwell within us - Christ will make his home in us.

God will fill that hole that is located in every person's heart,
Christ will occupy that vacuum that seems to exist at the core of
every person's life..

     "Behold - I stand at the door and knock" - said Jesus -
     "if anyone hears my voice and opens the door - I will
     come in to them - and eat with them, and they with me."

Think of the number of people who are searching for God -
     searching for meaning -  searching for something which is
     more - something greater -
and consider this - that if they only stopped their search and
listened for a minute -
     if they only listened to the knock that is at their door, to
     the voice that is speaking to them -
if they only stopped - and turned to Christ - and got hold of
what it is that he has done -
     got hold of the fact that he loves them - that God loves
     them -
and held onto his word with the same passion with which they look
for happiness - for peace - 
they would find what they are looking for - inside themselves.

Which leads me to THE SECOND THING that Christ gives us - which
is his word.

We find that word in the tradition of the apostles 
-- and in the Bible 
-- and by one of the other gifts that Christ gives -- we find it
inside ourselves.

By keeping that word - by following it - by treasuring it in our
hearts and showing it in our actions, we do our part to make the
promises of Christ come alive in us.

By holding out our hands and taking into us the Word of God - the
Word of Christ, we take into ourselves the living presence of
both the Father and the Son.

Scripture teaches us that the Word of God is alive and full of
power

     In the beginning was the Word - and the Word was with God
     and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and
     dwelt among us - and we have seen his glory...

     In the beginning - when God created the heavens and the
     earth - God said - Let there be light - and there was
     light... he said let the waters under the sky be gathered
     together into one place and let the dry land appear - and
     so it was..."

What God utters - what God says - does not come back to him empty
or void. As we receive the word - we receive God.  As we keep the
word - as we live the word - God lives in us and through us,
his light is our light - and our light is his light, his path is
our path and our path is his path.

THE THIRD THING that Jesus gives us is the Parcalete - The Holy
Spirit.

     "I have said these things to you," said Jesus, "while I
     am still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
     whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you
     everything, and remind you of all that I have said to
     you."

The Holy Spirit has a very special job - it not only teaches us
all that we need to know,  it not only reminds us of what Christ
has said - it convicts us of our sin - it points out to us what
is good - and what is bad - and moves our heart to the good - to
faith and trust in the Lord.

The Spirit brings our intercessions - our prayers - our sighs too
deep for words - to God, and it brings God's word back to us.

Paul says that the Spirit is the seal and the guarantee of our
faith - it is what bears to us the gifts of God for the common
good of the body of Christ, it is what effects our union with
Christ and with one another.

The Spirit serves as our advocate - and our comforter. 
Our source of visions and our font of living knowledge.

The Spirit has - as I said, a very special purpose and presence
in our lives.

The Spirit works in the lives of believers every day -- most
times it works invisibly - silently - in apparently ordinary
ways.

But visions still come to believers - knowledge is still imparted
- comfort still poured out.  God still communicates with us.

A friend of mine, an United Church Minister on the Internet,
David Jagger says this:

     Do people still have visions today?  I believe they do. 
     However, I also  believe that most of us do not.  Now
     that's not to say God doesn't speak to us through the
     Spirit.  Rather than defining a vision just in terms of
     a very special visual revelation of God to a person to
     relay a specific message. I believe another way to look
     at a vision is to say a vision has occurred any time
     there is a "clarity of understanding."  That is something
     a lot of us have experienced.  Suddenly, in the midst of
     a decision, you simply know what to do.  You don't
     necessarily know why you know it, you just do.

David continues with an example 

     -- This past Tuesday I was in Toronto for the day at a
     course.  After the class was finished, to meet the person
     who would guide me back out of the city I had to walk a
     distance.  I decided to walk down Young Street toward
     Union Station.  What an experience and an education that
     was.  I saw things I never want to see again.  Ear-rings
     in parts of the body I never dreamt of seeing them.  I
     felt anything but safe the whole time.  Yet after about
     2 blocks as I was thinking and learning about this
     strange other culture the realization came to me that
     these people with their strange ways were just as loved
     by God as I was.  To them, I was the one with the strange
     ways.  Jesus died for them, just as he died for me or for
     you.  It changed the way I looked at them.  I didn't
     understand them anymore than before, but I could look at
     them in a different light.  I experienced a "clarity of
     understanding."  A vision.  The Spirit spoke.  Even
     there, in downtown Toronto, Jesus is Lord.  The gospel is
     at work.  God is present.  I didn't see anything or hear
     anything like what Paul describes, but it was a vision. 
     A new way of seeing.  A message."

A vision -
A message --
A sign -
A clarity of understanding -
A feeling
A still quiet voice within -
The Spirit functions within us - and around us - bringing to pass
that which is needed by us
bringing to pass what God has instructed it to bring to pass.

The Spirit also works in others -
bringing to us through them the word we need
the counsel we seek -
the sign we have been looking for.

I have shared some of those things with you before -
     - how God used the words of Anne Lander and the unexpected
     cancellation of a dinner engagement to help bring a
     reconciliation between a brother and a sister -
          - how the Spirit touched a man across town and called
          him to prayer on our behalf when we most needed it 
               - how the Lord used an unexpected and most
               unlikely visitor to show us his love at the very
               time we most needed it - and most needed it from a
               source we least expected it from.

The Spirit is a Spirit of power and of truth - it is given by God
in the name of Christ to all who believe in him and seek to
follow him.

THE FOURTH THING that Christ gives his disciples that makes them
different  - that makes a difference to them, and the last thing
I want to talk about today - is peace.

Jesus said - on the night he was betrayed - the night he would be
taken from his disciples:

    "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do
     not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your
     hearts be troubled.  Neither let them be afraid.

This peace that Jesus gives my friends - is the peace of
assurance - the peace of knowing - and the peace of believing.

Jesus attaches his gift of peace to something very specific - he
attaches it to his death - to his leaving this world - this
domain of flesh - and to the new thing that this will make
possible

Listen to his words:

     "You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am
     coming to you'.  If you loved me you would rejoice that
     I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater
     than I.  And now I have told you this before it occurs so
     that when it does occur you may believe.

Jesus does not give us peace, nor anything else - as the world
gives things to us.

Jesus gives us peace - and all his other gifts - as he gives us
himself, he gives it forever.

What we are given today by Christ  - is not gone tomorrow.  It is
not used up, finished, or brought to an end even though it, to
the foolish - it may seem to perish. 

When something is taken from us by Christ - as he himself was
taken from us, it is taken only so that it can be given back
again in an even better form - a better way.

The peace of Christ which we pray upon one another at every
celebration
at every time of worship
at every communion service -
is the peace of eternity -
the peace of certainty -
the peace of resurrection
the peace of everlasting love.

     "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do
     not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your
     hearts be troubled.  Neither let them be afraid.

We don't know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the
future. 

We can have peace - for in faith we know there is One who is
returning for us. 

Because of the resurrection we know that we are not forgotten. 
We know that there is one who has gone to prepare a place for us. 

An African-American poet once put it like this: 

  There's a king and captain high, And He's coming by and by, 
  And He'll find me hoeing cotton when He comes. 
  You can hear His legions charging in the regions of the sky, 
  And He'll find me hoeing cotton when He comes. 

  There's a Man they thrust aside, Who was tortured till He died, 
  And He'll find me hoeing cotton when He comes. 
  He was hated and rejected, He was scorned and crucified, 
  And He'll find me hoeing cotton when He comes. 
  When He comes! When he comes! 

  He'll be crowned by saints and angels when He comes. 
  They'll be shouting out Hosanna! to the Man that men denied, 
  And I'll kneel among my cotton when He comes.

The future holds much promise--but the greatest promise is this: 
Where he is - there we will be as well.
Till that day - he dwells within us - and among us -
his word works upon our hearts
his Spirit moves in our midst.

Love him and Keep his word -
he will make you different
and he will make a difference to you.

LET US PRAY --Lord God -- help us to be true disciples of Jesus -
help us to love him and to keep his word -- make us sensitive to
the urging of your Holy Spirit - aware of your presence within us
and within the least of the people around us.  Grant us the peace
of faith - the peace that is unlike that which the world gives. 
We ask it in Jesus's name.  Amen


* HYMN: He Leadeth Me    - VU 657


* 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
            
   Lord God all that we have had - all that we presently have - and
   all that we will ever have is a gift from your hands.  As you
   freely opened your hands to us upon the cross - so you open your
   hands to us each day to sustain us and draw us closer to you.  
   With these gifts we now offer for your work, O God, we strive to
   honour you and thank you as you deserve.  With the offering of
   our time and our effort - our words and our thoughts - we seek to
   obey you and so make your world a place of light and of love. 
   Bless us we pray and what we offer here - that it may bear fruit
   and bring glory unto your name.  Amen


PROFESSING OUR FAITH AT EASTER TIME:  Matthew 5:1-12
L:  The peace of the Lord be with you...
P:  And also with you
L:  Let us proclaim our faith and speak the word that Christ has
    given to us.
P:  Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom 
    of heaven.
L:  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
P:  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
L:  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they shall be satisfied.
P:  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
L:  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
P:  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called
    children of God.
L:  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
P:  Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you,
    and say all manner of evil against you falsely on my account. 
    Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.

	
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING & PETITION AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Brothers and sisters -- last week we held hands  to pray the
family prayer of God - this week I ask you to raise your hands
with me -- to lift them up -- and in lifting them up -- lifting
them up to heaven -- to close your eyes -- and to say after me
this prayer --

     LORD GOD WE GIVE YOU THANKS
     WE PRAISE YOU AND ADORE YOU 
     WE LIFT OUR LIFES BEFORE YOU.
     
     LORD GOD WE GIVE YOU THANKS
     WE PRAISE YOU AND ADORE YOU
     WE OFFER OUR LIFES BEFORE YOU.

     GRANT US FAITH AND TRUST FOREVERMORE
     LIVE WITH US AND IN US
     GUIDE US AND WALK WITH US
     AND HELP US TO KEEP YOUR WORD 

     GRANT US YOUR PEACE
     AND HELP US BE PEACEMAKERS
     ONES WHO REMEMBER OTHERS
     AND WHO LOVE THEM IN YOUR NAME

     LORD GOD, WE GIVE YOU THANKS
     WE PRAISE YOU AND ADORE YOU
     WE LIFT OUR LIVES BEFORE YOU
     THROUGH JESSUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR
     WE LIFT OUR LIVES BEFORE YOU  
     AMEN


* HYMN: God of Grace and God of Glory              - VU 686 (tune 651)


COMMISSIONING  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
Go in peace -- drink from the water that God has provided and eat
the food that he has laid out - and may the peace of God  - the
peace that passes understanding - keep your hearts and your minds
in the knowledge and  the love of Christ Jesus our Saviour - both
now and forevermore.  Amen


THREEFOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" 


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1998 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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