CALL TO WORSHIP: O God, we come before You today with gratitude; gratitude for the opportunity to share with each other and to give to each other. Gratitude for the example of Jesus, who teaches us to love our neighbours and serve those around us. Please open our eyes to new visions of service and faithful living.
Thank you for the opportunity to expand our hearts, our communities, and our lives through Your grace.
HYMN: In The Bulb There Is A Flower
PRAYER: Et maintenant nous le prions. Le Seigneur est dans le Temple Sacré. Que toutes les nations se taisent devant Lui. Car ainsi parle le Très-Haut, qui habite une demeure éternelle et dont le Nom est saint: j’habite une demeure élevée et sainte, mais je suis également avec l’homme contrit et humble.
O God, we trust in Your power to create, to sustain and to enable. But
we could not trust if we didn’t know that You are always near. Be with us, Lord, as we are gathered here to worship You. Help us to bring all that we are to You, so that we might experience Your touch upon all aspects of our life. O God, whose kindness is not limited to grand cathedrals or saintly places, spectacular mountains or mountain-moving leaders. God, Your holiness is often discovered in simple everyday places and simple everyday people. Plant Your holiness in this place, in us, now. Help us to grow as we worship together, so that we might flower, right where we are, with the beauty of Your Heavenly love. We pray together the words You taught us:
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.
HYMN: My Faith Looks Up To Thee
OFFERING: Loving God, we present now what we have brought to You. Things that are both visible and invisible. The coins and paper represent our work and express in a clear and visible way our love and thanks. But we also bring as an offering the fragile dreams and hopes that we have. These invisible gifts are what sustain our lives. Receive all that we have brought in love. Amen.
SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 1: 1-3 & 6
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. The person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
HYMN: Blest Be The Tie That Binds
MEDITATION: Family, Friends and Faith (see below for the integral text)
HYMN: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN: May we go from this service, O Lord, with a strong determination to shoulder our share of the responsibilities in Jesus’ name. As you go from here, know that God is always with you. Do not be shaken, for He is right beside you. He will show you the way that leads to life.
IN THE BULB THERE IS A FLOWER
In the bulb there is a flower, In the seed, an apple tree,
In cocoons, a hidden promise, Butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, Something God alone can see.
There’s a song in every silence, Seeking word and melody,
There’s a dawn in every darkness, Bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, Something God alone can see.
In the end is our beginning, In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing, In our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection, At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, Something God alone can see.
MY FAITH LOOKS UP TO THEE
My faith looks up to thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Saviour divine:
Now hear me when I pray; Take all my guilt away;
Oh let me from this day be wholly thine.
May thy rich grace impart Strength to my fainting heart; my zeal inspire;
As thou hast died for me, Oh may my love to thee
Pure, warm and changeless be, a living fire.
When end life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream shall o’er me roll,
Blest Saviour, then, in love, Fear and distrust remove;
Oh near me safe above, a ransomed soul.
BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
We share each other’s woes, each other’s burdens bear,
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
Nous mettons en commun nos fardeaux, nos labeurs,
En Jésus nous ne sommes qu’un dans la joie et les pleurs.
This glorious hope revives our courage on the way;
In perfect friendship we shall live in God’s eternal day.
LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING
Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation; Enter every trembling heart.
Come almighty to deliver, Let us all thy grace receive;
Suddenly return and never, Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray and praise thee, without ceasing, Glory in thy perfect love.
Finish then thy new creation; Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee, Lost in wonder, love and praise.
Family, Friends & Faith
A man was being chased by a tiger. He ran as hard as he could until he was at the edge of a cliff with the tiger in hot pursuit. The man looked over the edge and saw a branch growing out of the side of the cliff a few feet down. He jumped down and grabbed the branch just as the tiger reached the cliff. The tiger growled viciously as the man sighed a great sigh of relief.
Just then a mouse came out from a crevice and began to chew on the branch. The man looked down to what was a drop of a thousand feet and sure death, and looked to the heavens and yelled out, “Dear God, if You are there, please help. I will do anything You ask but please help.”
Suddenly a voice came booming down from heaven. “You will do anything I ask?” it questioned.
The man, shocked to hear a reply to his plea, yelled back, “I will gladly do anything you ask, but please save me.”
The voice from heaven then replied, “There is one way to save you, but it will take courage and faith.”
The branch began to weaken from the mouse, and the tiger was still growling a few feet above the man. “Please, Lord, tell me what I must do and I will do it. Your will is my will.”
The voice from heaven then said, “All right then, let go of the branch.”
The man looked down to a fall of a thousand feet and certain death. He looked up at the hungry tiger a few feet away, and he looked at the mouse still chewing on the branch. Then he looked up at the heavens and yelled, “Is there anyone else up there?”
It isn’t easy having faith. It takes work. Many of us say we are on the path of righteousness because we believe in God. Many of us say our faith is steadfast, can’t be broken, will stand the test of time. But until we’ve been truly tested, these are merely words.
We all have our ups and downs in life, and being Christians, we turn to God for guidance. Our religious faith guides us in our relationships with family and friends. When the relationship is strong and unconditional, family, friends and faith form an inseparable trio. We all know that no one has ever been disappointed if he or she has put their faith and trust in God. He wants us to keep believing, because in the end, we will be glad we did.
We all like to talk about “the Christian family.” It is a picture which shows the good expression of the warmth, the care and the acceptance that we find in our churches. We are all members of “the family of Christ,” but more importantly we are the body of Christ. We came to the church through the love of Christ and were transformed into friends. We all came, and by the grace of God, church is where we find faith.
Our faith calls us to be instruments of change and to carry peace in the world and within our family and friends. Faith is about the courage to act: to act within our families and the courage to act on behalf of our family and friends. Faith gives us the tools for doing battle with the powers of darkness. Faith is the motivating power for shaping us by the values of God.
Our faith is nurtured every Sunday in church. But how much faith is being nurtured in the home? How many hours a week are you in church? How many hours a week is your family at home? At church we have rituals of worship, of education and fellowship. We have sacraments and we have music and song. But what faith rituals do we have with family and friends? Do we share in prayer? Do we read the Bible? Do we have religious discussions or times of meditation and reflection?
In our busy lives, we tend to prioritize things and to make lists. I’m guessing that for most of us the priority list is family, friends, church, God and our job. In reality the list should be God, family, friends, church and job. We all know that God should be number one, but I don’t think a list is the right way to motivate. Instead of making God part of our list, we should make Him the centre of our lives. Just get rid of the list and let God flow into all the other areas. If we make God central and place everything else around Him, we wouldn’t need to talk about priorities in the same way. We like to put things in little boxes and packages so we can feel like we’re in control.
Let me tell you a little story: There is a certain man who is instructed by his master to take a load of water to another village. He willingly accepts the task commissioned to him. At first, he was travelling happily with not much worry but to bring the water to its destination. But along the way, he finds precious stones and starts to pick them up and put them in his bag. He is glad that his travel has been worthwhile because he knew he could sell the stones when he got to the village. As he continued with this journey, he found more precious stones and he put them inside his bag. Little by little, his bag became heavy with stones until he started to complain and curse because of his load.
But still, he continued to find stones along the way and put them in his bag until he decided to take the water out from the bag and left it at the side of the road. At the end of his travel, he immediately went to the nearest market place to see how much money he could earn from the stones. To his disappointment, the stones were not precious at all, but just ordinary stones.
He suddenly remembered the water and went back for it. He found the water dried up and not fit for drinking anymore. He went home sorrowful that day and never walks that slow in his entire life because he doesn’t know how to explain all that happened to him to his master.
I’ve told you this story for its simple lesson. At the end of the day what we thought was important will just boil done to nothing. Many people feel a void in their heart and they have the urge to fill that void. But sadly, they are often filling it with the wrong things. Following God is a must. Everything else is optional. So don’t let the optional things push away what is mandatory. All the visible things are temporary, but the invisible is permanent. Don’t ever commit the mistake of believing that the physical things will give you ever-lasting happiness. Real happiness comes from having a good relationship with God, family and friends. Putting God first in our life is our number one priority, and this will allow us to cultivate, nurture and live our faith with family and friends.
Faith builds up families. Christian families aren’t perfect, of course, but I don’t think the old saying about “the family that prays together, stays together” has ever been proven wrong. Faith provides a common language for dealing with the trials and tribulations of life. The world of faith sets the path for us as we make our way in life.
Faith and family and friends belong together!
Let us pray: Dear Lord, help us to be strong in You and in the strength of Your power. We will put on the whole armour of God, for our strength is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the cosmic powers of this present darkness. We will fasten the belt of truth around our waist and put on the breastplate of goodness. We will take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is Your word. Amen.