June 21, 2020

Third Sunday after Pentecost – A Father’s Trust

Preacher:
Passage: Matthew 4:18-22 and John 20:19-23

Bible Text: Matthew 4:18-22 and John 20:19-23 | Preacher: Rev. Bruce W. Kemp | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIOS-lk5j-c

The rights to music under licence: CCLI: 1963748

Call to Worship
One: Gladden the souls of your servants, O God!

All: To you, O Lord, we lift up our hearts.

One: The Lord is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love.

All: Listen to our cries, O God, and answer.

One: God is great and does wondrous things,

All: So, we come to worship and bow down before you, O Lord.

One: Let us glorify God’s name together.

Hymn #328: This is my Father’s World

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas God’s hands the wonders wrought.

This is my Maker’s world, the birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Maker’s world; God shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass, God’s footsteps pass; God speaks to me everywhere

This is my Saviour’s world, oh let me not forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Saviour’s world; the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.

CCLI: 1963748

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Assurance of Pardon

Responsive Psalm – Psalm 67

O God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us
So will your ways be known upon the earth and all nations learn your saving help
Let the peoples praise you, O God
Let all the peoples praise you
Let the nations be glad and exult, for you rule the world with justice
With fairness you rule the peoples, you guide the nations on earth
Let all the peoples praise you, O God
Let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its fruit, for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.

Family Hymn #441: Can a little child like me

Can a little child like me thank the Father fittingly?
Yes, oh yes! Be good and true, patient, kind in all we do.
Love the Lord and do our part. Learn to say with all our heart:
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

For our playing, for our rest, for the earth in beauty dressed
For the moon and sun so bright, for the day and for the night.
For your patient, loving care, for your bounty everywhere
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

For the laughter, for the tear, for the love that meets us here
For the lessons of our youth – honour, gratitude, and truth
For the great gift of your Son, for your work in us begun
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

CCLI license: 1963748

Time with our Children

Prayer for Understanding

Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22

18 As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers who were fishermen, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, catching fish in the lake with a net.
19 Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.”
20 At once they left their nets and went with him.
21 He went on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat with their father Zebedee, getting their nets ready. Jesus called them,
22 and at once they left the boat and their father and went with him.

Scripture: John 20:19-23

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

HYMN #300: Father, we love you

Father, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Jesus, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Spirit, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

CCLI license: 1963748

The Message: A Father’s Trust

Over the past years I have often made reference to what is termed the Johannine tradition as being the Celtic tradition, which is different from the Petrine tradition, the so-called rock of the church represented in large part by the Roman Catholic tradition following in the footsteps of Peter. The Johannine tradition stressed personal relationship with God of love and the Petrine tradition stressed salvation through the fulfillment of rules and regulations. For the followers of John, there was an equality among believers that was not present in the Petrine tradition.

The reason I mention this is because the Celts, who were the ancestors of many of us within the Presbyterian Church, were a people who were deeply spiritual. They had an intimate connection with the land and a deep reverence for creation. The first missionaries who came to the people had been deeply influenced by the Johannine tradition. Its emphasis on the personal relationship of God with people and its emphasis on the oneness of God resonated with the Celts who believed that the presence of God permeated the whole of creation. Their worship was less about form and more about substance. Their liturgy was simple, and the structure of their churches was less hierarchical. Each person was encouraged to experience the fullness of their relationship with God for themselves and it was expected that each of them would come to feel the hand and spirit of God moving in their lives. For them there was no place to go from God’s presence for God was present in every moment of their lives. To be a Christian for these people was not a matter of set prayers or rituals or dependence on a priest to intercede for them to God; each of them were able to and expected to pray to God and to be responsible for their faith and life to God.

The Johannine tradition was less about rules and more about spirit. But as with so many things in history, there is always one group that wants to prevail over another. The Johannine tradition was suppressed, viewed as a false pattern for church life and the Petrine tradition prevailed; but it continued to be practiced by the common people and even by some royal figures such as Queen Margaret of Scotland whose chapel graces the castle at Edinburgh.

For many church leaders, a strong set of rules and regulations was believed to be the path needed to secure the faith and salvation of the people with God. Each succeeding generation in the church maintained this pattern probably under the assumption that if such rules and regulations were absent that people would simply stop believing. While I concede that rules are important, I believe that people stop believing in God or – at the very least – stop believing in the church when they do not find a connection or relevance between their life and the church. We are a value-added creature and if we do not find value in something, we drop it. Our time on this earth is valuable to us and we will spend it in ways that we find beneficial to us.

In the past, church membership and attendance was viewed as crucial. People who attended church were viewed as pillars of the society and people felt a real obligation or duty to attend. Over the past 30-40 years much has changed. Many people do not feel the need to belong to a church nor do they feel an obligation or duty to God to attend church.

Our denomination has often been more concerned with rules than with relationship – all decently and in good order. But while we do have direction from God in the commandments, many of the rules we live by are of our own creation.

What I have learned about the Celtic approach to faith and life and how they responded to the presence of God in their lives has led me to question some of the rules and wonder whether we have truly grasped the vision of God.

The Celts through the Johannine tradition believed in the unconditional love of God to be the true foundation of their relationship to God. They believed sincerely that the unconditional love of God was open to all and there was an expectation that a believer would be willing to follow the will and direction of the God who so loved them.

As a father, I have had my struggles. My boys would tell you that there were times they didn’t like me and I admit I placed conditions on them at times in order to receive my love but I did my best to be conscious of those times and strove hard to overcome them. It is not easy remaining supportive of them while still seeking to guide them. Through my imperfection I found strength to be able to love more unconditionally and through that came to appreciate how God must feel when dealing with me and my foibles.

Perhaps it was my time away from pastoral ministry that changed my outlook on faith and the practice of my faith both inside and outside the church. I have found myself reflecting more on the nature of God and his desire to guide us through this life and bring us to a place where we can experience the full vision of life first imagined for us. I have discovered that it is not up to others to give me rules to ensure my relationship with God. It is up to me to listen for the voice and heart of God for myself and through that be available to others of the faith to help them develop that listening and responding relationship for themselves.

Our second reading today speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit – a simple and quiet gift working its way through the lives of those who are willing to receive it. Jesus passes the Spirit of God to the disciples. It will now be their responsibility to carry on the work that He began. He began that work by the Spirit of God and they would carry it on with that same Spirit. That is the gift of God to each of us who have the faith to believe in the unconditional love of God and who are willing to live our lives in response to that love with one another.

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”, said Jesus. God the Father shows his trust in us by the gift of the Spirit. God trusts us to act with firmness yet with compassion; God trusts us to exercise the gift of forgiveness to help each other not lose our relationship with God. Jesus’ hope and prayer was that the disciples would act with the heart of the God whom Jesus had revealed through His life; the God who rejected no one and who was willing to die for the sake of the people. If we take seriously this trust that God placed in those first disciples and that He places in us who are here in this generation, then we will consider very carefully how we deal with one another, of how we judge one another. Think if you will of the number of times that Jesus retained the sin of a person. I count none. Therefore, it is for us to focus our efforts on forgiving each other and learning what it is to love unconditionally. In this way we will not only deepen our own relationship with the God who loves us unconditionally, but we will also encourage others to discover once again the God who loves them not only now but for all time.AMEN

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

The Lord’s Prayer
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 and the power and the glory. Forever and ever. AMEN

Invitation to the Offering

Prayer of Dedication

HYMN #324: Great is thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in eloquent witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

CCLI license: 1963748

Benediction

May God lead us to places of rest and renewal
May Christ accompany us on the journey
May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with joy and generosity
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Christ, and Spirit, descend upon us and dwell in our hearts this day and always. AMEN

The rights to music under licence: CCLI: 1963748

Call to Worship
One: Gladden the souls of your servants, O God!

All: To you, O Lord, we lift up our hearts.

One: The Lord is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love.

All: Listen to our cries, O God, and answer.

One: God is great and does wondrous things,

All: So, we come to worship and bow down before you, O Lord.

One: Let us glorify God’s name together.

Hymn #328: This is my Father’s World

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas God’s hands the wonders wrought.

This is my Maker’s world, the birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Maker’s world; God shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass, God’s footsteps pass; God speaks to me everywhere

This is my Saviour’s world, oh let me not forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Saviour’s world; the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.

CCLI: 1963748

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Assurance of Pardon

Responsive Psalm – Psalm 67

O God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us
So will your ways be known upon the earth and all nations learn your saving help
Let the peoples praise you, O God
Let all the peoples praise you
Let the nations be glad and exult, for you rule the world with justice
With fairness you rule the peoples, you guide the nations on earth
Let all the peoples praise you, O God
Let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its fruit, for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.

Family Hymn #441: Can a little child like me

Can a little child like me thank the Father fittingly?
Yes, oh yes! Be good and true, patient, kind in all we do.
Love the Lord and do our part. Learn to say with all our heart:
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

For our playing, for our rest, for the earth in beauty dressed
For the moon and sun so bright, for the day and for the night.
For your patient, loving care, for your bounty everywhere
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

For the laughter, for the tear, for the love that meets us here
For the lessons of our youth – honour, gratitude, and truth
For the great gift of your Son, for your work in us begun
Saviour, we thank you, Spirit, we thank you,
Great God our Maker, we thank you.

CCLI license: 1963748

Time with our Children

Prayer for Understanding

Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22

18 As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers who were fishermen, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, catching fish in the lake with a net.
19 Jesus said to them, "Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people."
20 At once they left their nets and went with him.
21 He went on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat with their father Zebedee, getting their nets ready. Jesus called them,
22 and at once they left the boat and their father and went with him.

Scripture: John 20:19-23

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

HYMN #300: Father, we love you

Father, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Jesus, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

Spirit, we love you, we worship, we adore you
Glorify your name in all the earth
Glorify your name, glorify your name
Glorify your name in all the earth.

CCLI license: 1963748

The Message: A Father’s Trust

Over the past years I have often made reference to what is termed the Johannine tradition as being the Celtic tradition, which is different from the Petrine tradition, the so-called rock of the church represented in large part by the Roman Catholic tradition following in the footsteps of Peter. The Johannine tradition stressed personal relationship with God of love and the Petrine tradition stressed salvation through the fulfillment of rules and regulations. For the followers of John, there was an equality among believers that was not present in the Petrine tradition.

The reason I mention this is because the Celts, who were the ancestors of many of us within the Presbyterian Church, were a people who were deeply spiritual. They had an intimate connection with the land and a deep reverence for creation. The first missionaries who came to the people had been deeply influenced by the Johannine tradition. Its emphasis on the personal relationship of God with people and its emphasis on the oneness of God resonated with the Celts who believed that the presence of God permeated the whole of creation. Their worship was less about form and more about substance. Their liturgy was simple, and the structure of their churches was less hierarchical. Each person was encouraged to experience the fullness of their relationship with God for themselves and it was expected that each of them would come to feel the hand and spirit of God moving in their lives. For them there was no place to go from God’s presence for God was present in every moment of their lives. To be a Christian for these people was not a matter of set prayers or rituals or dependence on a priest to intercede for them to God; each of them were able to and expected to pray to God and to be responsible for their faith and life to God.

The Johannine tradition was less about rules and more about spirit. But as with so many things in history, there is always one group that wants to prevail over another. The Johannine tradition was suppressed, viewed as a false pattern for church life and the Petrine tradition prevailed; but it continued to be practiced by the common people and even by some royal figures such as Queen Margaret of Scotland whose chapel graces the castle at Edinburgh.

For many church leaders, a strong set of rules and regulations was believed to be the path needed to secure the faith and salvation of the people with God. Each succeeding generation in the church maintained this pattern probably under the assumption that if such rules and regulations were absent that people would simply stop believing. While I concede that rules are important, I believe that people stop believing in God or – at the very least – stop believing in the church when they do not find a connection or relevance between their life and the church. We are a value-added creature and if we do not find value in something, we drop it. Our time on this earth is valuable to us and we will spend it in ways that we find beneficial to us.

In the past, church membership and attendance was viewed as crucial. People who attended church were viewed as pillars of the society and people felt a real obligation or duty to attend. Over the past 30-40 years much has changed. Many people do not feel the need to belong to a church nor do they feel an obligation or duty to God to attend church.

Our denomination has often been more concerned with rules than with relationship – all decently and in good order. But while we do have direction from God in the commandments, many of the rules we live by are of our own creation.

What I have learned about the Celtic approach to faith and life and how they responded to the presence of God in their lives has led me to question some of the rules and wonder whether we have truly grasped the vision of God.

The Celts through the Johannine tradition believed in the unconditional love of God to be the true foundation of their relationship to God. They believed sincerely that the unconditional love of God was open to all and there was an expectation that a believer would be willing to follow the will and direction of the God who so loved them.

As a father, I have had my struggles. My boys would tell you that there were times they didn’t like me and I admit I placed conditions on them at times in order to receive my love but I did my best to be conscious of those times and strove hard to overcome them. It is not easy remaining supportive of them while still seeking to guide them. Through my imperfection I found strength to be able to love more unconditionally and through that came to appreciate how God must feel when dealing with me and my foibles.

Perhaps it was my time away from pastoral ministry that changed my outlook on faith and the practice of my faith both inside and outside the church. I have found myself reflecting more on the nature of God and his desire to guide us through this life and bring us to a place where we can experience the full vision of life first imagined for us. I have discovered that it is not up to others to give me rules to ensure my relationship with God. It is up to me to listen for the voice and heart of God for myself and through that be available to others of the faith to help them develop that listening and responding relationship for themselves.

Our second reading today speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit - a simple and quiet gift working its way through the lives of those who are willing to receive it. Jesus passes the Spirit of God to the disciples. It will now be their responsibility to carry on the work that He began. He began that work by the Spirit of God and they would carry it on with that same Spirit. That is the gift of God to each of us who have the faith to believe in the unconditional love of God and who are willing to live our lives in response to that love with one another.

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”, said Jesus. God the Father shows his trust in us by the gift of the Spirit. God trusts us to act with firmness yet with compassion; God trusts us to exercise the gift of forgiveness to help each other not lose our relationship with God. Jesus’ hope and prayer was that the disciples would act with the heart of the God whom Jesus had revealed through His life; the God who rejected no one and who was willing to die for the sake of the people. If we take seriously this trust that God placed in those first disciples and that He places in us who are here in this generation, then we will consider very carefully how we deal with one another, of how we judge one another. Think if you will of the number of times that Jesus retained the sin of a person. I count none. Therefore, it is for us to focus our efforts on forgiving each other and learning what it is to love unconditionally. In this way we will not only deepen our own relationship with the God who loves us unconditionally, but we will also encourage others to discover once again the God who loves them not only now but for all time.AMEN

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

The Lord’s Prayer
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 and the power and the glory. Forever and ever. AMEN

Invitation to the Offering

Prayer of Dedication

HYMN #324: Great is thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in eloquent witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

CCLI license: 1963748

Benediction

May God lead us to places of rest and renewal
May Christ accompany us on the journey
May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with joy and generosity
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Christ, and Spirit, descend upon us and dwell in our hearts this day and always. AMEN