October 14, 2018


Passage: Philippians 1:1-11, Psalm 23 and Luke 14:12-14

Partners in God’s Mission
Resources for today’s service were provided by PCC Presbyterian Sharing Staff and for World Food Day from the Canadian Food Grains Bank website.

Today we read the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi in Greece.
Paul accomplished much of his ministry preaching and teaching through letters.

It is important to know that Paul is writing to the church from prison where he is awaiting trial.
We don’t know the particulars of the accusations, but we know that the good news of Jesus Christ is so much a part of who Paul is, that it is actually the gospel that is on trial.
In the midst of these difficulties Paul is writing to the Philippian church to thank them for sharing in God’s grace, both in his imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

The Christians in Philippi share Paul’s message and mission so completely that several times in this letter Paul uses the word in common,” or “to share.” So strong is the common vision and purpose they share, and so strong is Paul’s conviction that they “are holding him in their hearts,” that Paul feels they are actually partners sharing in his imprisonment and trial.

We all know what it is to feel helpless when confronted with problems much larger than we are. Our resources can seem too meagre to make a difference.
However the word partnership has potential!
Partnership can take the insignificant and multiply it into something magnificent.

You can just feel the joy and encouragement overflowing in Paul’s letter as he talks about this partnership in God’s mission. He is encouraged and he encourages the church – and that is the power of partnership.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect a little on grace.
Often in his writing, Paul uses the same word for grace and gratitude.
It is interesting to note that the Greek word charisto, means “I thank”,
shares the same root as the word charis, which means “grace”.
When charis comes from God to us, Bible translators call it grace.
When charis goes from us to God, translators call it gratitude.
God gives us grace.
We give God gratitude.
Paul understands something that the heart knows intuitively: giving and receiving are so closely related that you can use the same word for both.
Paul is thankful both to God and to the partnership of the church
And despite being in prison, Paul is joyful, thankful and encouraged as he experiences and shares God’s grace.

Like the Philippian church, we are working together in partnership to share God’s grace.

Gifts to Presbyterians Sharing are big enough to make a difference when placed in the hands of our ministry partners. In giving we also receive – and we are joyful, thankful and encouraged.

Let me share with you a few stories of some of the mission and ministry we support through gifts to Presbyterians Sharing. Through these gifts, we are sharing God’s grace in the world.

Advocating for Refugees
Started by Anglican and Presbyterian congregations and supported with our gifts to Presbyterians Sharing, Action Réfugiés Montréal helps refugees find hope, community and new lives in Canada. It is the only organization permitted by the Canada Border Services Agency to make weekly visits to the Immigration Holding Centre in Montreal. The people detained in this centre are asylum seekers claiming refugee status, or failed refugee claimants and immigration applicants awaiting deportation. Action Réfugiés Montréal’s staff and volunteers provide accurate legal information to detainees, explain the refugee claim process and ensure access to a lawyer. They also make sure the detainees are being treated fairly, and provide other practical assistance and referrals.
PCC New Beginnings Training Program provides practical workshops aimed at helping refugees adapt to local Canadian communities, including English lessons and the development of other life skills. By offering games and activities for children at the same time as adult workshops.
Our Presbytery Seaway Glengarry has sponsored two Syrian refugee families and has helped them to launch successful lives in our area. The Presbytery is currently working on bring a third family to Canada. Our gifts have helped with this process.
Our gifts also complements the work of Presbyterian World Service & Development as they provide assistance to refugees around the world.
* * * * *
Equipping youth
Presbyterian Sharing supports the PCC’s biennial Canada Youth conference. This year the conference was held a Brock University in St Catherines.
It’s not easy being young in the church today, and young people often feel isolated in their congregations. Canada Youth brings together hundreds of young Presbyterians from across Canada to worship, study Scripture, play, create, learn, laugh, discover, reflect, pray, sing and share. This year, they were joined by 16 young people from our partner churches in Ghana, Malawi, Taiwan and Lebanon. And what an inspirational week it was: spiritually uplifting, life-changing, and an absolute blast. As one participant shared, “Who knew Presbyterians could have this much fun when they get together to worship God?” And now adults are increasingly coming to Canada Youth to learn from youth and to learn more about leadership in the church.

International Partnerships
Sending staff to work alongside our international partners encourages them in mission and ministry.
In partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and the Bible Society in Taiwan, The Rev. Dr. Paul MacLean is working with indigenous translation teams to translate the Bible into six languages. In July 2017, the Drekay Bible was published. Thanks be to God! were words repeated during the joyful 3-hour thanksgiving service for the publication of the Bible. Christians starting sharing the Good News in the 1950’s in Taiwan. Yet translation of the Bible into Drekay did not begin until 1988 and Nearly 30 years later the Drekay people now have the complete Bible printed in their own language.
When one of the older women received her Bible, she exclaimed, “I’ve waited 60 years for this Bible; now I can die in peace!” Grandmothers want to read their new Bibles to share the gospel, their language and culture with their children and grandchildren. Joy and thankfulness abound for this partnership which allows people to hear and read the Bible in the language of their heart.

Dr. Nicholas Bauman is a surgeon working in a Mission Hospital in Nepal. Over the past two years he has taught Nepalian colleagues to provide much-needed medical care. It can be frustrating work considering the cultural differences, language barriers and working under challenging conditions but through Presbyterian Sharing we are supporting local leaders to confront and solve problems.

We recently received a letter from the Moderator of the PCC Rev Daniel Cho thanking our congregation for supporting Presbyterian Sharing. He starts out “For we are God’s Servants working together. He recently was in Malawi and he experienced first hand the impact our gifts have on relief and development. Our programs help hospitals, and clinics treat people under difficult circumstances, it helps farmers in remote areas grow food and it helps local churches with youth and women’s programs. He mentioned worshipping with a congregation singing and dancing as they overflowed with the love of Christ. These are just a few things our gifts support.
On my trip to Amsterdam in September, the lady sitting beside me talked about programs helping refugees and the poor. The projects she described seemed very familiar and finally I asked who she worked for. She told me a small private group. I asked who and she told me the PWSD Program of the PCC in Canada. My seat neighbour was Karen Winters and she was on her way to meet partners in Amsterdam then go the Ghana to review some of the partner projects PWSD is involved in. What a small world.
These ministries that extend the kingdom of God are possible because Presbyterians share in mission and ministry together. Gifts, small and large, offered by many, have the potential to accomplish wonders – because of partnership.

Through giving and receiving, we experience the joy, thankfulness and encouragement that Paul so aptly expressed – and most importantly, we share in God’s grace.

It is God who is working through our partnership in Presbyterians Sharing.
We are blessed to be able to share in it.

I wanted to close with some well know bible verses for you to think about the three words from todays message.

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine
By practicing gratitude you invite joy into your life. Take time each day to say what you are grateful for. Make a time each day to be grateful – share with each other at meal time or write down three things you are grateful for.

Psalm 118: 17 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.
Think of five things today that God has you . It should be easy as he is good to us and God’s love will never end. In the morning, I thank God for sunrise and that I am able to rise and enjoy another day.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage one another and build each other up.
Words are very powerful -- they build us up or they can tear us down. Every day strive to encourage each other – tell someone they are special, that they have done a good job or keep trying, you are going to make it.

Let us pray
God has made the world and called us to be partners in its continual re-creation.
By God’s grace we have been given resources and gifts to share in the building up of the kingdom.
God loves a cheerful giver. In God’s kingdom, the more you give away, the more joy you receive.
By grace, God gives us blessings to live each day with joy, thankfulness and encouragement
in the world God loves.
In happy moments praise God, in difficult moments seek God, in quiet moments worship God, in painful moments trust God and in every moment thank God. Amen

World Food Day is organized by United Nations to raise our awareness of hunger and malnutrition in the world. Some of our PWSD dollars go to partnering with the Canadian Food Grains Bank to support Zero Hunger.
Some of the statistics
821 million people in the world (that is 1 in 9) suffer from hunger even though the world produces enough food to feed everyone. 60% of the number are women.
45% of infant deaths are related to under nutrition
151 million children under the age of 5 because of malnutrition are affected by stunting
Yet at the same time childhood obesity is on the rise.
3.5 trillion US $ is the yearly cost of malnutrition to the global economy
70% of the world’s hungry are poor, live in rural areas and are small scale farmers.
By 2050 agriculture will have to produce 50% more food, feed and biofuel than it did in 2012.
Major international disasters are climate related. 83% of the impact of drought in developing countries affects agriculture and local food production.
1/3 of all food production in the world is lost or wasted.

What can we do?
Open Hands encourages us to work towards a Zero Hunger policy however Conflict and extreme weather events linked to climate change are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
$0.26 of every $100 of Canada’s gross national income goes toward ending global poverty and hunger, We as country can do more. A dollar invested in hunger prevention can return $15 to $139 in benefits

By investing in agriculture in vulnerable communities, we can help small-scale farmers adopt sustainable farming techniques, improve food security and nutrition, and help build the resilience of poor, rural communities.
Zero Hunger could save the lives of 3.1 million children each year
Well nourished mothers have healthier babies
Zero hunger can build a safer more prosperous world for everyone.

Our creed for World Hunger:
I believe that bread comes from grain that grows in the wind and the rain with the farmers’ help far from the eyes of city folk.
I believe that bread comes from love the love of God the love of the farmer the love of the baker’s hands the love of those who bring it to me.
I believe that bread can be and should be broken and shared and given to all persons until all have enough and then some.
I believe that Jesus loved bread and took it and broke it and blessed it and fed his disciples and asked them to feed us.
I believe enough in bread to want it from Jesus to want it to nurture me to want his life through it to want to give life through it.
I believe that his body as bread feeds me and as part of his body I want to be bread for others.
I believe the Spirit will help me as well as Jesus’ people.
I close with some sayings from my “Seize the Day” Calendar
Saying for October 14, 2018 Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth
Give what you can. To someone it may be better than you dare think.
Make yourself necessary to somebody
Life always offers you a second chance. We call it tomorrow.