July 19, 2020 Service

ORDER OF SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2020

SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Due to copywrite limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: 

If you ever get the chance to treat them how they treated you, I hope you walk away.

BEFORE WE WORSHIP, WE REFLECT…

It is an age-old question: why is there evil in the world? In the parable of the wheat and the weeds Jesus suggests that both grow together until the harvest. With Paul, we long for the day that all creation will be set free from bondage and suffering. Having both weeds and wheat within us, we humbly place our hope in the promises of God, and from the Lord’s table we go forth to bear the fruit of justice and mercy.

Call to Worship

In the good times, in the bad times, in the ups and the downs,

God is with us.

When we are running away,

God is with us.

When we are doing well,

God is with us.

When we are wracked with guilt and shame,

God is with us.

When we are struggling to make the right choices,

God is with us.  Come, let us worship the God who is always with us!                                                                                                        

CHILDREN’S SONG:   We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder

CENTERING PRAYER

Faithful God, most merciful judge, you care for your children with firmness and compassion. By your Spirit nurture us who live in your kingdom, that we may be rooted in the way of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

A NEW CREED

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

CHILDREN’S TIME

How can you tell the difference between a good person and a bad person?  If you were to take two people, dress them the same, and stand them side by side, would you be able to tell if one of them was a bad person?  Of course not!  Another question:  what does it mean to be bad?  Or, for that matter, what does it mean to be good? 

Jesus tells another parable, or teaching story, about a farmer who planted wheat, but then an enemy planted weed seeds that looked like wheat, with the wheat.  Now the farmer can’t tell which is a weed and which is wheat, and decides to let them grow together.  At harvest time, when it is obvious which one is the wheat, that is what will be harvested. 

The point of the story is that God says, “There is both bad and good in the world.  Sometimes, someone we believe is bad turns out to be good, and the other way around.  So best we treat everyone with love and respect, so that everyone knows they are loved, and their actions will let me know where their heart is in the end.”

There is a saying I came across that sums up this parable beautifully.  It goes like this:

There is so much good in the worst of us

And so much bad in the best of us

That it hardly becomes any of us

To talk about the rest of us.

 

I think it is wise if we just treat everyone with love and respect and kindness – in case someone surprises us!

 

Dear God, we cannot know the thoughts of others, or the actions they are planning.  We cannot control someone else’s behaviour, only our own.  Help us to show our love for you by living lives that are loving, respectful, kind and helpful.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

MISSION AND SERVICE

DCI Palestine helps children in Gaza just be children.

Imagine growing up in a place of conflict where you live in constant fear of violence. This is what it is like to grow up in Gaza. As a church family our hearts cry out for those who live in fear every day. Mission & Service supports Defense for Children International–Palestine, which offers programs for children in that region.

Members of the Abu Arar family were on their land across the street from their residence in the Zeitoun neighborhood in northern Gaza. Around 6 p.m., a rocket struck the area, severely injuring 19-month-old Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar. The child died around 7:30 p.m. from extensive shrapnel wounds. Her aunt and the child she was carrying were also killed. A three-year-old sister and other family members sustained injuries.

Based on evidence gathered from the scene, witnesses, and experts, Defense for Children International–Palestine concluded the blast was the result of a misfired rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group nearby, and was not caused by an Israeli forces strike.

Incidents like this one happen often in Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian forces have been in conflict for decades, and as in many conflicts, children are often the victims. We give thanks for the work of global partners like Defense for Children International–Palestine, which offers programs for children to express in art what they are experiencing, and activities that help them just be children.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

In this moment, Holy One, we open our hearts to your presence. You illumine our minds and stir our spirits. May your love renew and transform us.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 44:6-8

There are no other gods besides God: the word of the Lord does not fail to come to pass. We can trust in God, through whom Israel—and we—are redeemed.

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:  I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.  7Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me.  Who has announced from of old the things to come?  Let them tell us what is yet to be.  8Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?  You are my witnesses!  Is there any god besides me?  There is no other rock; I know not one.

 

Psalm 86:11-17

11Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk | in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

12I will thank you, O Lord my God, with | all my heart, and glorify your name forevermore. 

13For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the pit of death.

14The arrogant rise up against me, O God, and a band of violent people seeks my life; they have not set you before their eyes. 

15But you, O Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.
16Turn to me and have mercy on me; give your strength to your servant, and save the child of your handmaid.  17Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame; because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. 

 

Second Reading: Romans 8:12-25

For Paul, true spirituality means that we experience the reality of the Spirit, which enables us to pray as God’s children, keeps us in solidarity with creation, and gives us unseen hope that God will liberate us and creation from bondage to death and decay.

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

 

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus tells a parable about the coexistence of good and evil in this world. God’s judgment will remove all evildoers and causes of sin, but not until the end of human history.

24[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

SERMON:

Rev. Kathy Martin

Assistant to the Bishop – Mission Renewal Congregational Support

British Columbia Synod

 

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 

Jesus put before the crowd another parable. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.“  For a few weeks this summer, Matthew’s gospel takes us down by the sea where a huge crowd has gathered. It is so large that the only way Jesus can continue to be seen and heard is to push back from the shore in a boat. From there he presents, in rapid succession, one curious story after another, inviting those listening into a place of thoughtful, imaginative reflection on the nature of life in the kingdom of heaven.  “Listen! A sower went out to sow…..The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed; like yeast; like treasure hidden in a field; like a merchant in search of fine pearls; like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind……” all these stories and parables, including the one we have before us today about weeds in a wheat field.

 

It is an interesting parable to read in the midst of a global pandemic when the weeds in our world, in ourselves, are ever so obvious everywhere. Spending a lot of time and energy trying to discover how they got there seems a lot less important than trying to figure out what to do now that they have appeared.  As with all of his parables, Jesus starts his story with a situation from everyday life that his audience would have recognized immediately. A farmer sows good seed in a field but at night an enemy, a rival, enters and scatters seeds for weeds. In time, those working in the field discover the weeds and come to the landowner to point out the problem. “Did you not sow good seed in your field?” “Where, then, did these weeds come from?” The farmer’s reply is brief, “an enemy has done this.”  What now? What is the best way to handle this situation? The workers offer to take on the job. Their plan is to head straight into the wheat field and begin pulling weeds. It sounds like a reasonable approach. However, pulling weeds is rarely as straightforward as it seems.  The weed Jesus is talking about is something called darnel or ‘false wheat’ as it was known. It is a rye grass that looks almost identical to wheat through most of its development but when it matures, the seed it produces is poisonous. It is risky to remove since this weed often wraps its roots around those of the grain and hastily plucking out one might mean the end of the other. The problem with the worker’s approach is that some of the weeds the workers pull out might be grain and some of the “wheat” they leave in, may later turn out to be weeds. There is no way to easily tell until the plants are mature.  The farmer tells his workers to leave the field alone, to let the wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest. It may sound as though the farmer is favouring the weeds over the wheat but this is not the case.

 

Out of an abundance of caution, and in the hope that all the wheat will survive, the farmer decides that patience is the best option.  It is not Jesus’ intent to tell us we are to ignore the evil in this world and do nothing about it. There is a time and place to take action but the point of the parable is that we are not to do so when it is difficult to tell whether something is evil, a weed and contrary to the gospel, or simply a bit of wheat that we do not recognize yet.  The church has been wrong enough times in these situations of trying to determine what is wheat and what is weed, that we need to exercise a fair bit of caution before we judge or uproot things we think don’t belong. I think of the church’s involvement in unbelievable things in the past like witch burning or crusades, in our treatment of the LGTBQIA+ community, or… well, I’m sure if you take a few moments it won’t take you long to add to the list. Attempts to weed out those we think don’t belong can have horrible consequences for generations.

 

Barbara Brown Taylor says in her sermon on this text,

“Sometimes it is mighty hard to tell the difference between a good plant and a bad one, especially when it can act both ways. I suppose we have all had the experience of uprooting the raspberries by mistake or protecting something interesting that turns out to be a thistle. I don’t know what makes us think we are any smarter about ourselves or about the other people in our lives. We are so quick to judge, as if we were sure we knew the difference between wheat and weeds, good seed and bad, but that is seldom the case. Turn us loose with our machetes and there is no telling what we will chop down and what we will spare.  Meaning to be good servants, we go out to do battle with the weeds and end up standing in a pile of wheat” 1 

 

Weeds and wheat.  I didn’t expect to see this parable come to life during the global pandemic. Think back with me for a minute to the anxiety and pace of those first few weeks of COVID-19 here in Canada. Businesses were closing, grocery shelves were emptying and no one was sure what the future was going to hold.  Some of us were fortunate to have employment that allowed us to work from home but many people lost their income when their place of business or their children’s schools closed. There was a palatable sense of panic as people wondered how they would pay their rent and other bills, or buy groceries. Employment Insurance would not work for most and many people needed the help right away.  Almost overnight, government leaders and staff set aside party politics and worked together to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB. You may recognize it more by the numbers. It is the $2000/month program for people who had to stop working for reasons related directly to COVID-19. One of the things that makes it so unusual and controversial is the government’s decision to use what I would call a “wheat and weeds” approach to this program.  You see, to ensure people could receive their payment quickly the application is on the “honour” system. Rather than a lengthy interview process and numerous verifications, CERB is paid to anyone who states that they qualify simply by applying. There is almost no screening so nearly every application receives approval. You may remember, almost immediately, people were upset. There were many questions about the lack of scrutiny and financial controls for this mixed field of applicants “What about those are not really eligible but end up getting the money anyway?” “How will you root out the falsified applications?” “What kind of punishment will there be for those who take advantage of the system?”

 

Patiently, calmly and in a way that made it evident that they had already considered most of these questions, our government indicated that they had decided to err on the side of grace. They would trust that in time things would be sorted out. What was needed most now was to ensure that those who needed the funding would have it, and have it quickly…and that no one in need would be missed. 

 

I never imagined there would be a day that I would compare the actions of our politicians to the wise, gracious and patient farmer in this parable. Our story is not a perfect fit but it is close enough. It is a glimpse of the way God is at work in our world, in the places and the people where we least expect God to be. This parable might sound like judgement but it is really all about grace and the incredible patience of God made known to us most fully in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.

1 Barbara Brown Taylor, The Seeds of Heaven: Sermons on the Gospel of Matthew.

 

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  More Voices #138  My Love Colours Outside The Lines

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION:

Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of the harvest, you sow the good seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ into your field. Help your church throughout the world to be both diligent and patient, full of resolve and gentleness, that our witness may be faithful to your intentions.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of all space and time, your whole creation groans in labor pains, awaiting the gift of new birth. Renew the earth, sky, and sea, so that all your creation experiences freedom from the bondage of decay.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of the nations, teach us your ways, that we may walk in your truth. Mend the fabric of the human family, now torn apart by our fearful and warring ways. Guide us by your mercy, grace, and steadfast love.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of hope, you accompany those who suffer and are near to the broken-hearted. Open our hearts to your children who are lonely and abandoned, who feel trapped by despair, and all who suffer in any way. We pray for Myrtle & Art Ganske; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; for the family of Don Dowswell; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Diane Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne; Elizabeth & David.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of the seasons, in the midst of summer, give us refreshment, renewal, and new opportunities. We pray for the safety of those who travel. We pray for those who cannot take the rest they need.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of life, those who have died in you shine like the sun in your endless kingdom. We remember with thanksgiving the saints of all times and places and saints close to us. Gather us with them on the day of salvation.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

 

BENEDICTION:

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,

nor things present, nor things to come,

nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

God, the creator, ☩ Jesus, the Christ,

and the Holy Spirit, the comforter,

bless you and keep you in eternal love.

Amen.

 

SENDING SONG:  WOV 711  You Satisfy The Hungry Heart

 

 

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19/20 WPOG License: Congregation 25-49