Sunday, July 3, 2022
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Minister: Rev. Wes Coburn
Music Director: Stephanie Burgoyne
Soloist: Kaitlin Vandertuin
GOD’S PEOPLE GATHER
PRELUDE "Adagio in A minor" J.S. Bach
WE ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP
HYMN 333 I sing the Almighty power of God
Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748), alt Music: English traditional; arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Words: public domain Music: public domain; arr. "Forest Green" public domain
PRAYERS OF ADORATION AND CONFESSION
Almighty God, ruler of all things seen and unseen,
through your Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit,
you show your power and mercy.
You tear down walls of division,
comfort and challenge your people,
and show signs of your kingdom
coming into the world.
We gather to worship, praise, and express our thanksgiving to you for all your goodness.
you know what kind of people we are.
We judge others harshly
and fail to see our own sin.
We look with suspicion and fear,
and neglect to show hospitality to strangers.
We treasure things that are worthless
and squander your precious gifts.
We withhold the grace and love
that you give us so freely.
Pour out your grace upon us
to save us from our sin. Amen.
Our father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me!
The life we now live in the flesh
we live by faith in the Son of God
who loves us and gives himself for us.
Hear the good news!
In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 30
1 I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favoured me,
you made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
“May the Lord bless the reading of His word to our hearts”
HYMN 681 We have heard the joyful sound
Words: Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-1907) Music: William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921) Words: public domain Music: public domain
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
Luke 10:1-11, 16
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.
HYMN 699 All the way my Saviour leads me
Words: Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915) Music: Robert Lowry (1826-1899) Words: public domain Music: public domain
SERMON “Anchoring Deep”
Several years ago, a young college student living in Florida bought a houseboat to live in while attending college. News came of an impending tropical storm – Hurricane David was forecast to sweep across the state of Florida with its destructive winds. This student, desperate to save his home, gathered up all the rope he could lay his hands on, lashing his boat to the dock – until it looked like some giant spider web had been spun across his boat. A seasoned veteran of such storms, who lived nearby, advised the young man to take his boat out into deeper water and let down an anchor. For tied to the dock, the storm waves would just beat his boat to pieces against the shoreline but out in the DEEP it had a better chance of riding out the storm.
On this Canada Day weekend, I trust you have had opportunity to celebrate with family and friends the many blessings of living in this great country. But we have all lived long enough to know that along with our blessings, we are confronted by life’s storms - storms that suddenly come blowing in, threatening to rob us of our inner peace and our future hope. How do we prepare ourselves for the death of a loved one? How does one anchor deep to ride out the crashing waves of life’s storms of illness, months of radiation & chemotherapy? Devastating storms of conflict in the home, loss of job, threat of financial ruin, storms that leave you feeling betrayed and unloved? So, the reality is: life with all its good times also confronts us with the unexpected and the painful that can leave us feeling overwhelmed, at times despairing.
Over and against that reality comes the reality of living as God’s people, the reality of His Word that repeatedly commands us to be “Anxious for nothing, fret not, worry not…” God’s Holy Word, gives testimony to the fact that our God is Able for whatever storm may blow into our lives. Again, how does one anchor deep enough so that we can live in daily communion with God here and now, we can have his heart, his outlook, his priorities, his goals, his objectives, and remain faithful to God’s purposes for our lives, here and now?
I find it quite remarkable that the Bible holds up “Abraham” as the model of faith! Paul makes this reference – the Apostle doesn’t use himself or any of the other disciples – he points to Abraham. Imagine, Abraham lived long before Jewish institutional religion, before the Law was given at Mt. Sinai. He demonstrated a faith that was not law-related, church-related, or lifestyle-related. Abraham never preached a sermon nor wrote a page of scripture but he did walk and talk with God and in that we see the essence of what God wants in His relationship with us – a friendship of personal intimacy and trust – and that defines anchoring deep! Let’s examine what scripture teaches us about Abraham, so that we might learn how one anchors deep. First, we will see that God wants to develop within each of us:
- A Total Receptivity Toward Doing His Will 1-3
You have got to be anchored pretty deeply to take your son, the fulfillment of all your expectations, your only son and be prepared to place him on the altar of sacrifice; your son – who stood at the very centre of God’s promise of blessing. But Abraham had learned to trust God’s nature and presence so completely that He followed God’s will even when he didn’t understand God’s way!
How did Abraham come to have such implicit trust in God? In earlier passages we read where God told Abraham to leave his homeland, his household and his family –all the things that give one a sense of security, identity and fulfillment. Called to leave a place of cultural refinement and go to the hill country of Palestine even though all the traffic was going the other way. Is there not a model here of what God wants to do for us all – God was saying to Abraham: “I want you to find your identity, your security, and your fulfillment not first in these relationships but in your relationship with Me.”’
God called Abraham, from a life of attachment to the good into a life of attachment to God. And through Abraham’s obedience, God would be able to bring the salvation for the world to come. This is the pattern for us all – called to be a royal priesthood to God through whom God can bless the peoples of our world.
Could be that some of you listening, this morning, might begin to think that this being open to God’s will is asking just a bit too much. If so, let’s examine the evidence of Abraham’s saying, “Yes” to God and not having to always ask “Why?”, moving in obedience even when he doesn’t fully understand, responding with vs. 2 “Here am I period…”, and developing a receptivity to God’s leading even when he didn’t have all the answers. When you read the biblical account of his life, you will read that out of Abraham’s attachment to the Lord came a new land, a new family, and a new household – each of which was superior to that left behind.
That reality helps me a lot when I try to understand this ongoing destructive tragedy in the Ukraine. Every life that is killed, every family that is torn apart, and every city that is reduced to rubble, I wonder: can there be any future? I don’t know where you are in the process of God’s will being worked in your life – let me encourage you based on what scripture is teaching us – Hold on for God is not finished yet!! Anchoring deep takes receptivity to his will. Secondly,
- A Total Abandonment to God’s Ways
Vs. 3 “rose early in the morning, cut wood – not sure of the details but knew God and was committed to doing what God had asked. Listen, people who have to see the sunrise to be sure another day is coming are people who will live in fear of the dark forever. Anchored people know that God has ordered the course of this world – and that the sun is going to come up tomorrow, so they don’t worry about the darkness of the night. We don’t wait until we feel strong enough, wait until God gives us some kind of spiritual surge of power – we choose to obey right where we are – not when I get a better job, when my neighbours or family stop stressing me, when I get a bigger house…Anchored people are a people who say, “I don’t always understand why things happen the way they do, I don’t need to have all the answers because I know God and He doesn’t change. I know He loves me and He is committed to doing whatever is best for me.
Do you believe that? Makes all the difference the next time a storm blows in. Anchoring deep comes from a receptivity toward doing His will, a total abandonment to God’s ways that doesn’t require answers to all our “why” questions. And thirdly:
- A Readiness to Do Whatever His Word and Spirit Direct Us to Do
Vs. 1 “After these things…” what things? For the past 50 years Abraham ‘s learning the way of the Lord, learning the lessons of faith, fumbling, stumbling at times and triumphing – after all those things Abraham is now ready to say, “Here I am!” You have got to be anchored pretty deeply to take your only son in obedience to God’s command to sacrifice him. Make no mistake, Abraham was not some kind of superman, he was a father, his heart would have been grieving, yet moving in obedience, praying every step.
Notice the detail of Verse 5. “We will come back” – how did you know that you and Isaac would come back? Abraham’s answer: “Because I know God, I know His promises and He said that many descendants would come through Isaac. I don’t know how God is going to do this but I can trust Him.” (Read verses: 8 &13)
Compare verse 2 “only son” with John 3:16 - when Abraham led Isaac up that mountain, he became an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to reveal the very picture of what God Himself would do in Christ – to work redemptively in every storm; to deliver marvellously. Such insight into God and how He works His salvation would never have happened if Abraham had not anchored deeply. How significant that Abraham had allowed God to bring him to that place where he believed God’s nature and presence so completely that he followed God’s command even when he didn’t fully understand.
(By the way, the college student’s houseboat survived the storm.)
Dear friends, wherever you are today and whatever the nature of the storm, know this - God reigns! He reigns not as some manipulative kind of ruler who wants us under His power so He can extort from us whatever pleases Him. No, He is a FATHER, who wants His children to grow and become all that they can be. Through all of life’s seasons He wants to help us anchor deeply and not get blown over by life’s destructive winds. So, God is working through all of life’s moments to bring us to a place as His church where He can work through us. That is the greatest need today – for you and me to allow God to move us out of our self-interest, self-protecting, self-advancing patterns. God can’t help a needy world with people absorbed in self. Only those who are receptive, abandoned to God’s ways, and ready to obey. Philip 1:12-14
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
WE RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD
OFFERTORY / OFFERING
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Gracious God, you give us more than enough
for our journey of faith.
We present our tithes and offerings
so that others may know your blessings
and give thanks to You. Amen.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION AND THANKSGIVING
Living God, we seek your enabling love, guidance and help
to serve as your Son taught us to serve.
We pray for all nations and people.
Help us Lord, to share the riches of our cultures
without hatred or fear or suspicion.
We pray for all who govern.
Grant a spirit of wisdom, compassion, and courage
to those in authority
whom you charge with the tasks
of leading and safeguarding others.
We pray for the poor and the sick,
the weak and the vulnerable.
Be their protector, healer, and vindicator,
easing the sufferings of body, mind, and spirit.
We pray for the church.
Strengthen the body of Christ
with the Holy Spirit,
so that we have the mind of Christ among us.
Equip your people to serve with love
the world you sent your Son to save.
May our ministry take the form of his cross,
as we proclaim his resurrection,
and look forward to his coming in glory.
We thank you for your presence that protects,
gives hope, and brings inner peace even in the midst of chaos. Amen.
HYMN 406 Spirit of the living God
Words: Chichewa chorus; translation, Clara Henderson (1955-) Music: Chichewa chorus transcribed as sung in the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian; harmony, All Africa Congress of churches Assembly choir. Words: translation, (c) The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1994 Music: public domain
COMMISSION AND BENEDICTION
POSTLUDE "Fuga" A. Scarlatti
This bulletin is © 2022, Alexandra Presbyterian Church, 410 Colborne St., Brantford, ON
Hymns from the Presbyterian “The Book of Praise” Pew Edition, © The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997 Used by permission under CCLI License #11200173