Trust in God’s Promises

Jun 26, 2020 by

 

Preamble/Welcome: 

Welcome to MacNeill’s virtual worship for June 28, 2020.  We are here together in spirit, a community of believers who make room for the Holy One to move graciously among and through us. Each of you, is beloved and welcomed by God. May God’s grace and peace be with each of you, as we settle and prepare our hearts to worship God.  

 

Prelude  Gentle Breeze    

Joanne Bender

 

 

Lighting of the Christ Candle

(you may wish to light one in your home)

 

 

 

Together, We Come to God

 

 

Call to Worship

Jesus said that whoever welcomes one of his followers,

welcomes Jesus himself.

Whoever welcomes Jesus, also welcomes God.

In this hour, we open ourselves to your word and your wisdom.

You call us to obedience and to trust in your promises.

We know you will be beside us every step of the way.

We are confident in your abiding presence.

Welcoming God, we welcome you into our worship.

All are welcome here! Let us worship God.

 

 

Hymn # 331 The God of Abraham Praise  

Tune:  LEONI (as in hymnbook)

 

 

    1. The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above.

Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love.

Almighty great I am! By earth and heaven confessed.

I bow and bless the sacred name forever blest.

 

    1. The God of Abraham praise, at whose supreme command

From earth I rise and seek the joys at God’s right hand.

I all on earth forsake, its wisdom, fame, and power,

The Lord my only portion make, my shield and tower.

 

    1. The goodly land I see, with peace and plenty blest,

A land of sacred liberty and endless rest;

There milk and honey flow, and oil and wine abound,

And trees of life forever grow, with mercy crowned.

Words: public domain

 

 

Prayer of Approach

Loving and Sustaining God, You call us to obedience,

to follow you in all things; to give up the things we cling to,

and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to your purposes.

We confess that we don’t always find this easy to do.

We confess that it is often very difficult to let go of the things we love.

But we also know that you never ask more of us than what is possible,

and that you stand ready, at all times, to sustain us,

and to provide everything we need.

 

We gather in Your presence with gratitude and praise

for all that You have done for us. We trust in your unfailing love.

May the presence of Your Holy Spirit inspire our worship.

May our words and music, our thoughts and prayers,

even our very lives, bring honour and glory to You.

Amen.

~adapted from re-worship.blogspot.com

 

 

Sung response

 

 

Text and music: © 2006, Barbara Bridge. Published by OCP. Reprinted with One License A-722822

 

God Speaks to Us

 

 

Old Testament Reading:  Genesis 22:1-14

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

 

 

Responsive Psalm: A Litany of Two Experiences of God (Psalm 13 and Psalm 23)

O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?

            The LORD is my shepherd;

            I have everything I need.

            He lets me rest in green meadows;

            he leads me beside peaceful streams.

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?

            He restores my soul.

            He guides me along paths of righteousness

            for the sake of his good name.

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
Restore the sight to my eyes, or I will die.

            Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,

            I will not be afraid,

            for you are close beside me.

            Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

            You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.

            You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.

            My cup overflows with blessings.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.

            Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

            all the days of my life,

            and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.                                

~ Christine Longhurst, re:Worship

 

 

Musical Reflection  i thank you God for most this amazing day   

Text by e.e.cummings,  Music by Dan Forrest       

 

 

Epistle Reading:  Romans 6:2-23

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 10:40-42

[Jesus said:] “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

 

 

Hymn # 636     When voices are confusing  

Tune: LANCASHIRE (Lead on O King eternal)

 

 

    1. When voices are confusing, when right and wrong are blurred,

We need your help in choosing the way to be preferred;

Our feet are prone to wandering in paths untrue, untried

O Christ, our strong commander, become our trusted guide.

 

    1. When truth is hard to follow and fact is hard to find,

When crowd appeals are shallow, reshape, renew our mind.

Your ways we would be learning, oh make out choices clear,

That we, the more discerning, the more may preserve.

 

    1. Our lives are yours; oh, take us and shape our destiny;

Through willing service make us all you would have us be.

Confirm this high endeavour against the reign of strife;

Great love be ours forever, the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Text© The Presbyterian Church of Canada -permission granted for online use

         

 

Reflection: I trust in your unfailing love, O Lord (Ps 13:5)

 

There are numerous aspects of our reading from Genesis 22 that can draw our attention. In preparing for today, what stood out most for me was Abraham’s trust.  I acknowledge that this is a disturbing story, but we also see that Abraham is unwavering in his commitment to do what is asked of him by God, even if that means sacrificing his son, Isaac, whom he loves, and who is the promise and future of his family line. The narrator sets the scene for us. “After these things God tested Abraham”.  God previously made promises to Abraham, and now it appears that for this test (a different topic to explore, another time), Abraham must sacrifice the promise, his own son.  We must keep in mind that Abraham was part of a world whose cultural norm was to offer their first-born to God.  While the very idea may seem offensive to us, Abraham was faithful to this expectation, and the text shows us that he trusted, and even assured Isaac that God would provide a lamb, when Isaac noticed that they had no animal for the burnt offering. Abraham’s trust that God would provide was enough for Isaac – even on the altar with his father ready to slay him, there is no indication in the narrative that Isaac is afraid, or suffering. Isaac also trusts. And this unwavering trust that God will provide what is needed is the foundation of Abraham’s faith. When an angel of the Lord calls to Abraham and instructs him not to harm his son, a ram appears and becomes the substitute offering instead of Isaac. Abraham names the place “The LORD will provide”.

This story offers us a deep question to consider: will we trust God in difficult circumstances when we face losing everything that we hold dear? Will we be prepared to lay aside our most precious possessions/ideas/cultural structures/systems and surrender them as we learn to trust and rely on God’s grace to lead us into the future? In normal times, this might appear as a theoretical question. But in this unprecedented time with our collective experience of this global pandemic since March, we have had to face many unknowns: economic and employment uncertainties, not-knowing how long this pandemic will last, nor what lies ahead when we are able to meet again in person as a community. This story from Genesis speaks directly into this pandemic of uncertainty and fear that has at the same time exposed deeply rooted systemic issues of injustice. This story offers us timeless wisdom that in the face of the unknown, we need to trust that God will provide. 

Trust. Setting out to the unknown place that God would reveal for the required burnt offering, Abraham had confidence that God would provide; likewise, the disciples face unknowns when Jesus sends them out in Matthew 10. Jesus offers the twelve disciples some words of guidance, warning, and promise about the mission: 

    • “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions” (Matthew 10:5)
    • “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town” (10:14)
    • “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves” (10:16)
    • “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time” (10:19)
    • “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered” (10:26)
    • “Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (10:34)
    • “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me” (10:40)

Jesus admits that the mission will be dangerous, but he also assures the disciples that they will have the words to speak, and that they will find welcome. That is the promise. Those who welcome you, welcome me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Like the disciples that Jesus sent out, we bring Christ’s presence to others with our words and by our deeds. They may accept or reject that; BUT without the fruit of welcome, others will not experience Christ in their midst. The word “welcome” is not embodied until some action incarnates it. All it takes is a simple act of kindness and hospitality, like welcoming someone with a cup of cold water! Or, perhaps moving our chairs to include one more in our circle. Welcome that involves simple action, signals to the recipient that they belong, that they are included, and that they matter.

Welcome. So many of us have learned that we are the ones to offer hospitality, to offer the welcome. But can you think of the last time that you allowed yourself to be the guest of someone else’s welcome? When we are recipients of welcome, we are at the mercy of another. It places us in a position of vulnerability and dependency, requiring trust – trust that our needs will be provided for. Imagine what it must feel like to rely on the welcome of others for livelihood and basic physical needs (food, water, shelter, safety).  Can you picture it? This was the reality of the first disciples that Jesus sent out, and the lived experience of the early church community. It is also the experience of many marginalized in our society.

When we welcome others, may we see Christ in them, and be ready to respond to their cries of longing and need that we hear. Thirst for basic physical needs and thirst for social justice surrounds us. This time of pandemic has exposed, among other issues, the need for a fair living wage, and the need to end racialized bias against blacks, indigenous and people of colour.  

And when we receive welcome, we let others see the presence of God within us. The Spirit of God in me. The Spirit of God in you. The One they must see.

Jesus sent out his disciples knowing there would be risk, and vulnerability, and sometimes lack of welcome.  But he offers the promise that they will find welcome.

Will we waiver in our trust, or have confidence? Both are valid, human responses to this crisis, and to our life experiences in general. The responsive Psalm we read, which blended Psalms 13 and 23, reflects this range in our human experience. Psalm 13 describes struggle and anguish. It gives voice to the sound of an aching soul, the eternal cry of human longing. “How long will you forget me and look the other way”? This contrasts with the confidence or assurance of God’s presence and protection as expressed in Psalm 23: “the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need,” “he restores my soul,” “I am not afraid for God is with me,” “my cup overflows with blessings.” In this global time of uncertainty, may we like Abraham and the twelve sent out by Jesus, continue to trust God’s promises, lean into the unknown future ahead of us and in spite of the circumstances, join with the Psalmist and say, “I trust in your unfailing love, O Lord” (Ps 13:5).  AMEN.

           

 

We Respond to God

 

 

Hymn of Response  # 635 Brother, sister let me serve you

(lyrics in video)

 

 

The Offering of Gifts     Douglas Firs                

Stephen Chatman

 

 

Sung Response  

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise God all creatures here below.

Praise God above ye heavenly hosts.

Creator, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Text: © 1989, Hope Publishing Company. Reprinted with One License A-722822

 

 

Prayers of the People  

God of Abraham, who created heaven and earth, you have made us in your image to love one another and to care for your creation. We are grateful for your son Jesus, and for the energy of your Spirit to inspire us in these times of challenge and change.

Holy God, we acknowledge that we are worn down by the uncertainty in our world.  Like the psalmist, we cry out “how long, O Lord?” How long until we can mingle together again, hug our friends, and be closer than six feet? How long until we can sing and worship together or have events on the calendar that don’t require a computer screen in order to attend (even though we are very grateful for the gifts of technology which allow us to connect virtually during this time of social and physical distancing). How long, O Lord?  How long until justice flows and floods our world with grace and mercy, overthrowing systems that perpetuate injustice and racism?  Strengthen us and infuse us with hope for these difficult days. We are weary and come to be refreshed and renewed in your Presence. Fill us again to overflowing with your blessings. May we know your peace in our hearts.

Gracious God give us courage to faithfully follow your leading, even when we cannot see the outcome, even when the path you call us to seems impossible to comprehend. Help us to trust you in all things, to let go of everything that would stand in the way of whole-hearted obedience to you. Grant us a spirit of welcome and acceptance for others.

Healing God, we pray for health of body, peace of mind, and wholeness of spirit. For those who mourn, grant a gentle journey with grief. Ease the struggle for those who face mental health challenges. We pray for Charles and Cheryl, and we lift up the needs of our broader community and pray for Carol, Jim and Nancy. Grant each of these named, and others we name in the silence of our hearts, your peace and presence. May they be cared for and know your comforting presence in their lives.

Eternal God, we trust in your unfailing love and pray all these things in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

 

 

Hymn  # 760 Where cross the crowded ways of life 

Tune: FULDA (as in hymnbook)

 

 

One verse for intro…

    1. Where cross the crowded ways of life, where sound the cries of race and clan,

Above the noise of selfish strife, we hear your voice, O Son of Man.

 

    1. In haunts of wretched-ness and need, on shadowed thresholds, dark with fears,

From paths where hide the lures of greed, we catch the vision of your tears.

 

    1. From tender childhood’s helplessness, from woman’s grief, man’s burdened toil,

From famished souls, from sorrow’s stress, your heart has never known recoil.

 

    1. The cup of water given for you still holds the freshness of your grace;

Yet long these multitudes to view the sweet compassion of your face.

 

    1. O Saviour from the mountain side, make haste to heal these hearts of pain;

Among these restless throngs abide, oh tread the city’s streets again.

 

    1. Till human hearts shall learn your love, and follow where your feet have trod;

Till glorious from your heaven above, shall come the city of our God.

Words: public domain

 

 

Benediction

Something new is stirring. God will never abandon us, nor turn away and hide. Trust in the unfailing love of God. Lean into the unknown and go forth with trust in God’s promises, His grace in your heart to bless every encounter, and with confidence that God goes with you. May God’s Grace and Peace be with you now and always. AMEN.

 

 

Sung Dismissal

 

 

Tune and Text © 1995, Desert Flower Music/Jim and Jean Strathdee. Reprinted with One License A-722822

 

 

Postlude   Two Trees                  

Ludovico Einaudi

    

 

Please join us for our Zoom Coffee Hour at noon today.  The meeting link is in your email.

 

2020 06 28 MacNeill News and Notes   

 

With thanks to Leanne Tees for her musical selections, to Alanna Tees for her assistance with photography and preparing the service music videos, and to Bev Leslie for making this service available on our website.

~Jennifer Nettleton, Coordinator of Worship, and “preacher” today.

 

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