CALL TO WORSHIP: Glorious God, we come together as Your people. We come as a praising people, singing Your goodness. We come as a hungry people, longing to be fed. We come as a praying people, bringing our needs and our joys. We come as a journeying people, looking for direction. In this sacred place of worship, empower us to be faithful. Let us worship the God of Life!
OPENING PRAYER: Eternal God, we give You thanks for Your gift of music. For songs of praise that express our thanks to You, for joyful hymns that lift our spirits, for tender songs that draw us closer to You and others, for haunting melodies that give voice to our sorrows, for rousing hymns that boost our commitment, for humourous songs that make us laugh and for poetic hymns that convey divine wisdom.
We pray that everyone will recognize that all people are Your beloved children. We pray that all should be treated equally and that Your children should not be judged by the colour of their skin, nor their gender, nor their nationality, nor their sexual orientation, nor their financial condition, their mental or physical capacity, nor their religious
faith. We pray that all will see virtue in sitting down at the same table with one another, the table of friendship, where everyone is embraced as brother and sister.
God, You hope for a world of justice, compassion and peace. We pray
that we will embrace that hope and do everything in our power so that Your will may truly be done on earth as it is in heaven. This we pray in the name of the one who taught us to pray together: 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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: “Sing, Sing, Sing” Norm Rennie & Rob Ireland
WE LOVE TO SING:
There is nothing like the power of music in someone's life. Music is
a fundamental part of every society. The Bible is full of references to music and how music should be used to worship God. The longest book in the Bible is the Book of Psalms — the song book. As we will read in Ephesians in just a couple of minutes: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God, the Father, for everything."
The first reference to a musician in the Bible is in the fourth chapter of Genesis. Both the Old and New Testaments advocate the use of music in worship, and we are going to use music throughout our service this morning. We are going to "sing to God with gratitude in our hearts."
In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts that God has given us is the gift of music. Whether we play an instrument, sing, dance, or just listen, we all get pleasure from music. So let's continue our service by singing hymn #420, Praise, I will Praise You Lord
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Psalm 149:1-6a Ephesians 5:15-20
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH:
Together let us confess our faith. Do you believe in God, our Creator? I believe in God, creator of all things, whose heavenly song sent the planets into motion. Even when we go astray, God calls us back, showing us the fullness of life and giving us new songs of praise for each new day. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? I believe in Jesus Christ who lives for us and among us, healing the sick, easing the burdens of all people, and teaching us the new song of God’s kingdom. He showed His love for all God’s children in His death and the hope for eternal life in His resurrection. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? I believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of life who sings God’s grace through all time and space. I believe that God has a song for my life as well. Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: “Joy is Like The Rain” Gordon Furey
WHAT ARE YOU SINGING ABOUT?
How many of you have ever seen a whip-poor-will? This little bird is often heard, but seldom seen. The whip-poor-will sings its name on summer nights in the woods. The song may seem to go on endlessly. One very patient observer once counted 1,088 whip-poor-wills given rapidly without a break
The whip-poor-will is a little different from other birds. Most birds sing in the daytime when the sun is out, but the whip-poor-will sings at night. During the day he steeps on the floor of the forest or on a horizontal log or branch. But that wasn't always the case. Many years ago he used to sing in the daytime like other birds. But one day — after midnight — he decided to sing. He sang softly at first, then a little louder. Finally he was singing at full volume.
As you can imagine, this woke up all the other birds. They opened their sleepy eyes and yawned, and when they looked up at the sky, they were confused. It was still dark! So they said to the whip-poor-will, "The sun's not out. What are you singing about?"
The whip-poor-will answered, "The sun may not be out, but I know it's going to be. I have faith!"
It's almost like that whip-poor-will had been reading the Bible. Listen to what Paulsaid about faith in the book of Hebrews: "Faith...is being sure of what we do not see." Even though he couldn't see it, that whip-poor-will had faith that the sun would come up in the morning.
And even though we can't see Jesus, we have faith that He's there and that He will return again one day. And just like that bird, we don't have to wait until Jesus returns to rejoice. We can rejoice and sing praises and be thankful right now, because we have faith.
So if you ever wake up before the sun comes up and you hear a bird outside your window singing away, remember, he's just showing his faith, and so should we. We thank God for giving us faith in Jesus and
we pray that our faith will grow every day.
SPECIAL MUSIC: “I’ll Walk With God” Howard Welburn
THANK YOU GOD FOR THE SOUND OF MUSIC:
Today we are thanking God for bestowing the gift of music on us, His children. Worship would be pretty dull if we didn't have our wonderful music, wouldn't it? We don't all have the same tastes in music. For example, when I'm driving I like to listen to classical music, but when I'm at home I like to listen to the classics of the 40's, 50's and 60's. And sometimes our different tastes in music can lead to some strong feelings about what's appropriate in worship. What is uplifting, what isn't uplifting? Is this song too modern or contemporary for this congregation? Today, I hope that we can all learn something about how music can and does shape our religious faith.
Two of the gospels mention the fact that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn at the end of the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:30 & Mark 14:26). Paul gave instructions regarding the use of music during Christian gatherings. In the book of Ephesians we see that addressing each other with hymns and songs is an indication of being filled with the Spirit. In the Colossians the same is an indication of being filled with the Word of Christ.
We have Martin Luther to thank for putting congregational hymn singing into practice in our worship services. Before that, trained singers and priests chanted any singing that took place in worship and they did it in Latin. And they wanted it as close to perfect as possible because it was being presented to God. And sadly, the people in the congregation
couldn't even understand the Latin words.
But Luther wanted to change all that, so he wrote hundreds and hundreds of hymns for worship. He freely took or borrowed tunes he heard, including the tunes of some popular drinking songs of the day. Luther believed that music could be transformed by the power of the gospel to share a higher purpose. It was Luther's thinking that "music should pervade worship."
Both the Old and New Testaments address music and strongly support its use in worship. It's dear that God sees the importance and value of creative musical expression. By incorporating music in our worship service we honour God in a very special way. Music is a communication tool, and a Spirit-filled Christian is a singing Christian. The Bible gives us a
very simple command — sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)
HYMN: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God Vs. 1, 2 & 4 This hymn was written by Martin Luther
SOLI DEO GLORIA:
Soil Deo Gloria To God Alone Be The Glory. My most favourite classical
composer is Johannes Sebastian Bach. Some of Bach's music is still in our hymnals today. Our hymnal has 11 of them and the United Church hymnal, Voices United, has 12. There are other famous composers as well such as Brahms. Handel and Haydn. And men and women have been writing hymns and songs of inspiration for the past 250 years.
As we've been saying, music is a very important part of our worship. But some people come to worship and they never sing, and they have a lot of excuses for not singing. Now, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone here in our congregation — I'm just making a point.
Here are some of the excuses I've heard over the years. "I can't carry a tune in a bucket." Sorry, but that excuse won't hold up. The Bible doesn't say "Sing to the Lord with a beautiful voice". It says "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord."
Another excuse I've heard is "I don't like the songs we sing." That excuse doesn't work either because the songs aren't actually for us — they're for God! Since God created the gift of music, I think He probably likes all kinds of music.
Here's an excuse that I've heard over and over again. "1 don't know that song." The Bible says sing unto the Lord a new song. How can we sing a new song to the Lord if we won't even try to learn it?
Here's what I think. I think it's time to stop making excuses and use whatever musical gift God has given us to glorify Him. Don't hold back because you can't sing on key. Hitting the right notes is nice, but it isn't obligatory. Soli Deo Gloria — To God alone be the glory!
Thank you God for the gift of music. May we always use that gift to sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord.
I now invite you to sing joyfully!
I’ve Got The Joy
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,
Down in my heart, down in my heart, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.
And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart,
And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.
I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart...
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart..
I’ve got the wonderful love of the Blessed Redeemer
Deep down in the depths of my heart....
Thank you Lord for melodies and harmonies. Thank you for composers
and poets, for instruments and musicians. Thank you for ears to hear and minds to comprehend the gift that You have given and the gifts You keep on giving. You know us so well. Lord, be the song we sing, the melody we carry home with us, Your song of peace ringing out through everything we say and do. In Your name, we pray. Amen
CLOSING HYMN: Shine, Jesus, Shine
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
May we walk with God during our time apart in whatever we do and wherever we go. May we talk to God in the coming weeks, every day
and in every situation. May there be a new song in our hearts and a new harmony in our beings, until we gather together again.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t 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…..
God says, “I know my plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord and will bring you back from captivity..
Karma will get you
After the Ormstown Fair, it was reported that someone had stolen several hanging baskets of flowers from one of the barns. Apparently the baskets were loaned to the exhibitor to decorate their stall area, by a local business. In BC we had a farm shop, every year we hung up baskets of red and white flowers, which grew to be very beautiful, and featured in lots of photos from visitors from around the world. Every year at least 2 or 3 baskets out of about 20 that we had specially done for us at a local nursery, were stolen. The thieves even broke the light in the ceiling of the porch where the baskets were hanging, to do their work under cover of darkness. One year we used zip ties to fasten them, the next year we wired them to the hooks. You really have to wonder what is in a person’s mind when they make the decision to steal flowers. I have a hard time imagining the thieves enjoying the baskets without even a twinge of guilt.
Do they hang them on their porch, then look at them and say “Oh look at my stolen flowers, aren’t I clever?”
One of our neighbours said “Ah well. Karma will get them”
Now Karma is part of the Hindu and Buddhist belief system about cause and effect. That your actions directly cause whatever happens to you thereafter, including the theory that there are many lives that we live, in reincarnation, and that what we have done in one life will affect our next life. So according to this belief system, the flower thieves will have something happen to them as a direct result of their theft, plus endanger the peace and success of their next life.
Christianity of course does not hold this world view, but rather teaches of one earthly life and after that, eternal life with God. Christians are taught that actions have consequences, but not quite in the same context as Hinduism. God has given mankind a Saviour, who knowing our fallibility as humans, stepped in on our account and paid that ultimate price. We are not required to keep returning to this life in order to continue learning lessons that will one day bring us to the ultimate state of peace, or oblivion, becoming one with the universe. In other religions, the onus is on the human to reach a standard or goal in order to be good enough. The problem with that belief is setting the standard. Who sets the standard? Which human gets to be the one who says their standard is the one? The one we are to emulate? The unfortunate truth is, there is no such thing as a human who is infallible. It has to be set by someone who is truly infallible, who is truly without any blemish. Christianity acknowledges that we will never be good enough so God needed to intervene on our behalf, and sent Jesus, who as God is infallible, and as man, can be sacrificed as the pure lamb without sin, for the world.
Even though Jesus taught that God is Love, there is a tendency in the broader Christian world to believe that God is a God of retribution who will “get you” in the end, and mete out His punishment. Or at the very least, allow things to happen in order to “teach us a lesson”.
The pastor of our church in BC became afflicted with prostate cancer, and later also suffered a small stroke. So many people asked him “What do you think God is trying to teach you? Why did He do this to you?”. His response was always NOTHING! We live in a fallen world where sickness and disease happens, so it happened to me”.
God did not tell us we are immune to all the ‘stuff” the world throws at us, but He did promise to always be at our side. The message about the Judgement Seat of God seems to be a powerful one that sticks in the mind. Once I was talking to a couple of friends in Switzerland about Christ-and in Switzerland there is no separation of church and state, so all young people attend Catechism and are confirmed in the church, either protestant or catholic- and at one point one said something to the effect that if a person didn’t meet the standard, “God would punish them”.
It is too bad though if our only perception of God is one of a fierce and remote God who is just waiting to punish us for our sins, and that Christian life is nothing more than just a long list of “Thou Shalt Nots”
Is that it? Is Christianity just a list of rules, and the breaking of them leading to punishment? is the “stuff” that happens in our lives really sent to punish us for sins, or to teach us lessons? I just heard yesterday that a colleague from the cheese-making community in BC died in a hiking accident last week. A lovey Christian guy, with a wife of 30 years, 3 great sons. Is God trying to teach someone a lesson? Of course we have the opportunity to learn from our experiences but do these things happen for that reason only?
God tells us in His word that He is a God of love, and it is because of this great love that He sent His son Jesus to actually die for us, so that, covered by His blood we will not be judged for those sins. Jesus took them all upon Himself in our stead. So how do we bring these two pictures together? The powerful Judgement Seat of a God of retribution that we so often hear about and see in the great works of art etc, and that of a loving Father who gave his all to save us?
God tells us over and over again that He is our Father. Think about what that means. How many Fathers do you know who make rules for their children, for the sole purpose of punishing the children when they break those rules. Rules created just so the father can punish them? Meaning basically the father is just a mean tyrant looking for excuses to punish his children. I think as parents we can agree that is not the way it is, though we cannot deny there are certainly bad fathers.
Why do we give our children rules? We as fathers and mothers, and God as our Heavenly Father, have certainly established “rules”. The rules are there, not to find excuses for punishments, but to keep our children safe, because there is so much they do not yet know, so much their experience and maturity is not able to process. Rules are there to protect them from dangers they are not aware of, to allow them to grow and develop in safety, to enjoy balance and freedom and blessing as adults, rather than suffer from the consequences that certain behaviours can deliver.
Proverbs 4:1-4 “ Listen my sons to a fathers instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning so do not forsake my teaching. When I was a boy in my fathers house, still tender and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said,”Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live”. These words were written by Solomon, King of Israel, whose father was David. The famous David who killed Goliath; shepherd, poet, musician, singer, warrior, leader, and King of Israel.. and one who was not perfect either. But he learned his lessons, and passed them on to his son, for his son’s sake, not his own.
The book of Proverbs is a great place to look for truths about life. It includes a lot of warnings about the consequences of behaviours, and rather than listing the various punishments God is just waiting to lay on us, it instead lists the many promises that come our way. In fact the book of Proverbs is the source of so many of our good rules for society, government and relationships.
In the book of Proverbs there is also a huge list of things that will bring a person into danger. God says He “hates” these things. We should look at the list from the perspective of a warning, that He cannot protect us if we engage in these behaviours. We remove ourselves out from under the umbrella of His protection. It must break His heart, to have his beloved children purposely remove themselves from His protection, with no concern for the very real consequences. God hates these behaviours because they bring harm to His children. Just like any parent hates the street drugs that can destroy a beloved child, God hates behaviours that destroy His children. In fact in Proverbs 9:35-36 he says: “Whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord. Whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death”
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. That means God will protect and deliver us if we throw ourselves into His arms.
Matt 6:33-34 says: But seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Isn’t that the truth! I don’t think Jesus is saying here to live in an irresponsible manner, but to trust in God for those things we absolutely have not control over. Like what might happen tomorrow.
That kind of worrying is essentially saying “God I do not believe you. Instead I believe you want to hurt me, and leave me vulnerable and unprotected…”
2 Corinthians 9:8 God is able to make a grace abound toward you, that you may have an abundance, and having all that you need, will abound in every good work. Notice he offers us His grace, out of His love for us, but also that out of that position of grace, we can reach out to others.
Some of the many promises of God are:
- long life if we respect the Lord, our parents and elders.
If we doubt this, God has also reminded us of the fact that it is actually He who is in charge:
Isaiah 55: 9-13..As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts……
God does have a plan for us. and He also adds that it is His will that none should perish. He is interested in Eternal Life for us human beings.
Another famous Bible passage, Psalm 23, promises the following:
That God will supply our needs
He gives us refreshing and peace
He is our guide
He removes fear
He comforts us
In spite of negative circumstances, he looks after us
He shows us how much we are loved and cherished
He promises us a life of goodness and a future
So it appears that though some may fear the Karma will “get” them, the Lord tells us otherwise. It appears that he allows certain things to happen, with the goal of always leading us to Himself, to be there for eternity.
Clearly this is not a God who is just waiting to “get us” for being bad, but a God of Love who never tires of telling us what we are worth to Him, and the lengths He will go to bring us to Himself and keep us there.
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