PRELUDE “Sinfonia No. 10 in G+” J.S. Bach
Responsive call to Worship
Sing to the lord a new song.
We will worship God, our maker!
Praise God with song and dance,
For God is gracious and loving!
Let us bring God glory and honour,
For God deserves our praise.
Hymn 293 “Come, thou Almighty King” (PCC HYMNAL)
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Holy God of grace and glory, your creative power is beyond imagining. Your love is wider than the whole universe; your mercy is greater than the heights of heaven; your wisdom is deeper than the sea. You are the maker of all things and you chose to become one of us in Jesus Christ. Through the constant presence of your spirit you are present with us in every place and every time. We worship you, father son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and always. Although Christ is among us as our peace, and your spirit is to be our guide, we confess we are a people divided, within ourselves and against each other. We cling to the values and habits of a fallen, broken world. The profit and pleasures we pursue too often bring harm to creation and the lives of others. The fears and jealousies we harbour set neighbour against neighbour, and nation against nation. The freedom and abundance we enjoy belong mostly to a few, when we know that they are God’s gift to all. Forgive us. Forgive and have mercy upon us, God. Heal us, forgive us, and set us free to serve you in the world as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ. We pray these things through Jesus, our lord and saviour who taught us to pray together, saying . . .
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come,
your 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 yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen
Hymn 625 “Seek Ye First” (PCC HYMNAL)
The Gospel according to Matthew 18:15-20
Gloria to you, O God.
15 "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
Praise to you, O Christ.
A cubit is an ancient unit of length based on the measurement from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. A cubit, anywhere from 17-22 inches of the human forearm, was the ancient world's equivalent of a "yard" or a "meter," and cubits of various lengths were employed in many parts of the world in antiquity, throughout the Hebrew scriptures God hands out construction projects to various people, always for the blessings of the people of Israel, and to the glory of God. Noah was commanded to build an ark; Moses was instructed to have the Ark of the Covenant built, in which the tablets of the 10 commandments were to be stored. Solomon was given the task of building a temple in Jerusalem, and all of these projects were described in scripture down to the last detail; you could say: down to the last "cubit".
The Jewish rabbis taught that: "if two sit together, and words of the law pass between them, the divine presence abides between them.” In other words, when two people come together to study, true learning happens because a third party, Yahweh, the divine presence, God, enters into the process. Jesus expanded upon that rabbinic saying when he said: “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them”; giving it new life and strength and purpose for the new faith community developing around him. The cubit measurement that was used initially to construct God's first building projects was now replaced with a new three-dimensional measurement for God's church, in that Jesus promised that the church will be the church because when disciples gather together in his name, he also will be there among them. There will never be just two when Christians gather. There will always be three.
To gather, to "come together in my name" sounds deceptively simple. It's so easy to tack on "in Jesus' name" at the end of prayers or meetings, but that's not what Jesus requires of us. To gather in Jesus' name means to come together and immerse ourselves in the words Jesus preached, to emulate the life Jesus lived, the sacrifice Jesus offered, and to love as Jesus loved. Individually and collectively, inhabiting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is what it means to gather in his name, to be in his presence. The Talmud—the central teaching text of rabbinical Judaism, says that all the biblical commandments are contained within the three requirements of Micah 6:8: “what does the lord require from you? – to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Jesus told a rich young ruler: “love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself." that’s the measure that will tell us and others that Jesus is present when we gather together.
When you and I come to the end of our days, we do well to remember: God won't ask what kind of car we drove, but will ask how many people we helped get where they needed to go. God won't ask how big our house was, but will ask how many people we welcomed into our home. God won't ask what part of town we lived in, but will ask how we treated our neighbors. God won't ask how many fences we made, but will ask how many bridges we built. So, what’s a cubit again? You . . . Me . . . And the presence of Jesus.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Gracious God: creator of heaven and earth, lover of each and every soul, we are filled with gratitude for the blessings of this life. For making us in your image to love and care for one another, we give you thanks. For the gift of your son, Jesus Christ, who redeems and guides us, and who gives us a pattern for everyday living, we thank and praise you. Hear our prayers for situations where your love and grace are sorely needed in the world you love. We pray for your church around the world, facing so many new challenges to respond to so many enduring needs. We pray for this beautiful planet, the fragile home we share with all living things. We pray for those who rule in every city/town/area and nations of the world, that they may find the wisdom and courage to do justice in the decisions they make. We pray for those who serve as teachers, healers and caregivers facing new situations this fall, and for all students who return to school in very different circumstances, still under the cloud of covid-19. We pray for the homeless and the hungry, for the unemployed and the anxious, and for all who have become more vulnerable through the pandemic. We pray for those who grieve and mourn and those who are alone or feeling isolated. We pray for the powerless and oppressed around us and throughout our world, for those caught up in destructive relationships or unjust political systems. Eternal God, we thank you for those who have gone ahead of us and showed us some measure of your eternal love. Keep us always in communion with you, and with your people from every time and place. Amen
Hymn 650 “He Leadeth Me” (PCC HYMNAL)
Go in peace. Go in hope.
Thanks be to God.
POSTLUDE “Postlude in F+” J.S. Bach
In Our Prayers
The family of Marjorie Aldred
This bulletin is © 2020, Copyright publication Alexandra Presbyterian Church, 410 Colborne St., Brantford, ON
Hymns from the Presbyterian “The Book of Praise” Pew edition, © The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997
Gospel reading from The Revised Common Lectionary
CCLI License #11200173