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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 02 - Year A
Isaiah 49:1-7 and John 1:29-42
"They Shared What They Knew"


READING:  Isaiah 49:1-7 and John 1:29-42
SERMON :  "They Shared What They  Knew"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or02sm 648000
                    
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.


* GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE


* CALL TO WORSHIP: (based on Isaiah 44:1-3)
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Give praise and thanksgiving to God, for he made all things, 
     he alone stretched out the heavens.
P    He formed us in the womb and called us to be his servants
     before we were born.
L    Rejoice and be glad, for God remembers his purpose and does
     not forget his people.
P    God pours out water on the thirsty land 
     and his Spirit upon his chosen ones.
L    He blesses the dry ground with streams of living water 
     and his servants with all they need.


* INTROIT: "This Is The Day" (VU 412, verse 1) 


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Most Gracious God - we thank you for your eternal word, Jesus
Christ, and for your Holy Spirit which brings the light of his
gospel into our lives.  We praise you for all your acts of
goodness and  pray that as we worship you this day we might be
grow in righteousness and in love.  Grant that we  might be a
people who bless your name by all that we do - both in this
sanctuary and in the world beyond it.  We ask it in Jesus' name. 
Amen.


* HYMN: "Praise To The Lord"                            - SFGP 17


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS


INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated):
  Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!  (VU 371 v.2 & refrain)


A READING FROM ISAIAH 49:1-7
     (NRSV)  Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you
     peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born,
     while I was in my mother's womb he named me. {2} He made my
     mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid
     me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me
     away. {3} And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in
     whom I will be glorified." {4} But I said, "I have labored
     in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
     yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my
     God." {5} And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb
     to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that
     Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the
     sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength-- {6}
     he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my
     servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the
     survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the
     nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the
     earth." {7} Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and
     his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the
     nations, the slave of rulers, "Kings shall see and stand up,
     princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the
     LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has
     chosen you."

L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks be to God.


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Being A Light To The Nations"
Object:   Kerosene Lamp
Source:   self
Theme:    Telling Others About Jesus

Good morning... I brought a lamp today   to remind us of the
purpose that God gives to his people - to this church - and to
you and me.  He says "I give you as a light to the nations, that
my salvation may reach to the end of the world".

All the scriptures talk about how God has chosen us to be a light
to the world - to be a people who by how we live and by what we
say, attract people to God. That we are folks meant to share the
good news about Jesus with others - as did John and Andrew in the
bible reading you will look at in Sunday School later.

What are some of the ways we can share news with others???  What
devices or machines or objects help us do that?  Radio, TV,
Magazines, Newspapers, Internet and so forth...  But all these
are run by people.  In the days of the bible there weren't things
like magazines and television or the internet, but there were
people like you and me -- and God says that we, as people are
like this lamp.   That we can shine or not shine.  

What does a lamp like this need to shine?  Oil!

God gives us the oil of his love.  The oil of his word.  The oil
of our breath.  (Add Oil To The Lamp) He wants us to shine   but
to get us shining one more thing is needed - a flame.  That flame
is our faith in him and our obedience to him.  When we believe -
really believe - and do what he asks of us - then the fuel that
he has given us - can light up - and draw people to him.

     Let us Pray:  "Loving God -- help us to believe in you
     -- more and more each day -- and to do all you ask of
     us -- so that we may shine -- with the light you give
     us   Fill us Lord   and set us glowing   we ask it in
     Jesus' name. 


* HYMN: "Give Me Oil In My Lamp"                       - SFGP 130


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 40 (VU 764) with Refrain

     A Psalm which praises God for what he has done and
     asserts that the writer will continue to thank God and
     testify to his goodness at all times."


CHOIR ANTHEM:


A READING FROM JOHN 1:29-42
     (NRSV)  The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming
     toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes
     away the sin of the world! {30} This is he of whom I said,
     'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was
     before me.' {31} I myself did not know him; but I came
     baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be
     revealed to Israel." {32} And John testified, "I saw the
     Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained
     on him. {33} I myself did not know him, but the one who sent
     me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the
     Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the
     Holy Spirit.' {34} And I myself have seen and have testified
     that this is the Son of God." {35} The next day John again
     was standing with two of his disciples, {36} and as he
     watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb
     of God!" {37} The two disciples heard him say this, and they
     followed Jesus. {38} When Jesus turned and saw them
     following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They
     said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher),
     "where are you staying?" {39} He said to them, "Come and
     see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they
     remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the
     afternoon. {40} One of the two who heard John speak and
     followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. {41} He
     first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have
     found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). {42} He
     brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are
     Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is
     translated Peter).

L    This is the gospel of our Risen Lord
P    Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN: "Great is Thy Faithfulness"                     - SFGP 95


SERMON: "They Shared What They Knew"

     Most gracious God, bless the thoughts of our hearts and
     the words my lips.  Help us to grow in faith and in
     love - that our every thought and action may be
     pleasing to you and a blessing to ourselves and to
     others - we ask it in the name of Jesus Christ our
     Lord.  Amen

They shared what they knew - each from their own perspective -
each as God gave to them.

John - the prophet - with his own following, his own disciples -
     he pointed to Jesus and told them, "behold the Lamb of God -
     who takes away the sin of the world."

Andrew - the fisherman - who at John's bidding, turned to Jesus
     and listened to him, he understood immediately that Jesus
     was a teacher, someone with much good to share, and went and
     told his brother about him, saying to him - "We have found
     the Messiah."

They shared what they knew - what they believed - what they
hoped.  And we should thank God today for them, and for those
like them today.

We should thank God today for John - a man not afraid to decrease
     so that Jesus might increase.  We should thank God for his
     witness and for how it spoke to his friend Andrew.
And we should thank God for how Andrew, though he was untutored
     in the faith and had just met Jesus briefly - was eager to
     speak to his own brother about him and how he was the
     promised one - the Messiah.

Without them and their willingness to proclaim, and to point out,
and to teach and to share Jesus with others, we would not be here
today - we would not know the blessing of faith - we would not
know what was to be a member of the family of God - we would not
know our ultimate destiny - we would not be able to hope for the
world to come.

John the Baptist and Andrew, and later Simon Peter, Philip,
Nathaniel, John, Luke, Paul, and all the rest, found something,
discovered something, knew something, something important to
them, and they told others about it.

They told the people around them - and some of them - they
travelled so that they could tell people they had never met
before - so that they could tell them about Jesus.

Who brought you into the faith?

Who shared with you the fact that Jesus takes away the sin of the
world?

Who, by words and actions, encouraged you to first pray?

Who, by example, and by teaching, brought you to the point of
giving your life to Christ?

Thank God for them.

I thank God for the Campus Crusade staff who taught me that there
is a man called Jesus and that he came to this world so that we
may have forgiveness of sin and a rich and abundant life.

I thank God for a logger by the name of Ike - whose conversation
was filled with references to God, who believed that it made more
sense to talk about what a Spiritual life is - and how it can be
led - than it did to talk about who was the best faller - or who
was running around on his wife - or any other kind of "godless
talk".

I thank God for a pastor by the name of Les - who urged me to ask
God what He wanted me to do with my life - and who spoke
unceasingly of God's love and power and how it exists - either
tapped  or untapped, all around us.

I thank God for a woman by the name of Sheila who reminded me
that Jesus still is and that with him all adversity is but a
passing thing - that his love is forever - and that it overcomes
and makes worthwhile all the tribulation we may encounter.
 
I thank God for them and for many others who shared with me what
they knew and understood and believed to be true about Jesus and
about his special role in God's kingdom and his special power
here - in the lives of those who believe I him.  

I thank God for them because they have helped me to discover what
I needed to discover.  They helped me to form my relationship
with Christ - and thereby they have given me a life which I would
not trade for some other.

Who do you thank God for?

Who has ministered to you in the name of Christ - who boldly told
you that there is one who can help you live your life day by day
with joy and with peace and with assurance deep in your mind and
your heart?

Who sent you to him - who gave you a bible to read - who showed
you how to pray - who told you  that there is someone important
that you should meet and talk to and follow - and that his name
is  Jesus?

You should thank God for them.

And having thanked God for those who drew you to the faith - the
next question is who thanks God for your witness?

To whom do you go?  Who do you see?  And what do you speak of
when you are with them?  Who do you show to the people you meet
each day?  What do you witness to while working at the office or
the mill or when you gather with your friends for a game of cards
or a simple cup of coffee?

Jesus is warm and inviting my friends.  
He invites us, as he invited Andrew and the other disciples, to
come and see where he is staying.  He invites us into his home,
into his presence, into his life and then he shares his life with
us.

But first we must hear about him - first we must be introduced.

Do you know someone who is crushed by a load of guilt -
Jesus takes it away!

Do you know someone who is full of darkness?  Someone who
constantly worries about the state of the world or the state of
their own life?
Jesus can shine in that darkness.

Do you know someone who is bitter and angry?
Jesus can overcome it!  
His word brings new life to old dry bones.

But first these people who are in need have to hear about Jesus.
They have to be introduced to him.

My friends, we do not need any special qualifications to be a
witness to Christ.  We don't need anything except our conviction
that everyone needs God and that God has come for everyone in
Christ Jesus.

That conviction, that hope, is the key to it all however.

Perhaps you have noticed that a severe malady has afflicted
certain members of our society?  Quiet, humble, non-assuming
people, are suddenly turned overnight into loud, boastful, some
might even say obnoxious, individuals. They go about talking
incessantly about something that they think we ought to be
interested in.  They are excited and can't seem to contain
themselves - they got to talk about what has happened to them.

Got any idea of who I am talking about?

These suddenly transformed individuals are known as new
grandparents.  Would you like to see a picture....

What I am trying to say here is that when we have something we
want to say - we almost always find a way to say it.  

In the same way a new grandparent, or a new father or mother has
no problem in speaking about their special child, so we as
believers in the Christ should have no problem in speaking of the
wonder that he brings into our lives.

We don't need a course in how to testify about God's love and how
to give our witness to Christ.  We don't need a Bible Degree or a
certificate in theology to share the good news.

We just got to want to... 
we just got to want to share what we know - what we value -
- and if we want to share 
     - and even if we don't want to - but decide to do it anyway
     as an act of obedience and of faith, 
the scripture says that the Holy Spirit will give us utterance;
that God will give us the words we need.

John the Baptist - he was in a place and in a situation where he
could simply point to Jesus and say to his disciples - behold the
Lamb of God.  And he did.  No bones about it.  But then John was
used to standing out in a crowd - he was used to speaking out in
front of people.

Andrew, on the other hand, -well Andrew is most instructive for
us - because Andrew began where he was - he began at home - with
his brother.  He told Simon quite simply that he had found the
Messiah - and then - then to avoid confusion - to avoid needless
complication - Andrew does something both simple and profound -
instead of trying to say more - he takes Simon to meet Jesus - he
takes Simon to where Jesus is to be found.

And that's what it is all about - getting folk to the place where
they will meet Jesus with us.  All of us can do that - we can get
people to the place where Jesus is to be found, where Jesus can
issue his own personal invitation to come and see.  We can get
them to that place if we but start opening our mouths and talking
about what we have found for ourselves and what it means to us
personally - just as a grandparent speaks of his or her
grandchild.

As I talk here today about how John and Andrew shared what they
knew and about how we, like them, can be about sharing Christ, I
want to be clear that I am not talking about counting coup.  I am
not talking about us going out and getting results, about us
putting a notch into a shiny new evangelical belt, or about
filling this church or about getting some form of gold star on
our report card.

None of that is important - none of that is what it means to be a
follower of Christ.

We can't earn our way into heaven by doing good deeds
nor by growing our own franchise of dedicated Christians.

Rather what I am talking about is that something that should be
burning away down in your gut somewhere - that urge to jump and
say - I don't care what the question is - the answer is Jesus!

At times we get so confused by the wiles of the worldly - by
those who are opposed to anyone who may be in danger of
developing a strong and effective faith

     We are made to feel that when we know Jesus we really don't know
     anything of practical use.  
     We are made to feel that Prayer is OK - but only if you do
     counselling or go to the doctor as well.
     We are made to feel that bible study is acceptable - but only if
     you treat the book as ancient history.
     And, most of all in our society, we are made to feel that telling
     others about God is wrong, unless they first ask us about
     him.  We made to feel that we what we know, what we believe,
     is unwelcome news and that no-one wants to hear about it
     uninvited.

Don't listen to the world my friends.  Listen to your heart.
Listen to the hope that is in you -the hope you have in Christ.
Listen to his voice and start to share what you believe 
- what you hope - what you know - where you are at.

Share with your brother - or your sister - or you wife - or your
husband - or your coffee buddy - or your work mate -
that Christ makes a difference to you.

     I have found the Messiah - I have found the one makes
     my life worthwhile.  He has promised me eternal life
     and he has promised to make the world new and to bring
     everlasting justice and goodness to the earth...

     I have met the one who takes away the sin of the world.
     - I have met the one who lifted from me the burdens and
     the anxieties and the guilt I used to feel.  I am not
     going as bald or as grey as quickly as I used to.

     God speaks to me through the Bible - and in my prayer
     time - and he reminded me recently that I need to tell
     you how much he loves you and how much he wants you to
     have a full and deep relationship with you.

     I notice that you are feeling down.  Let's talk about
     it.  Afterwards- do you mind if I pray with you about
     it - it makes a difference to me and I believe it will
     for you as well.

If you share for the joy of sharing - and not for some kind of
     legal reason.
If you share because you want to share - because you think it is
     a good thing to do,
then you will know what to say - and how to say it,
it will come out from inside you - and as you share - most others
will share with you.

I still remember the first time I shared my new faith with
someone - how I told them that I believed in Jesus Christ, and
even better yet, that Jesus believed in me, that God believed in
me and that God was helping me to get my life together.

It made it even more real than it had been.
like my showing a picture of my new son to people
like my saying to Charlene, "I love you"
like our telling someone that we care.

As we share Christ with others - Christ becomes even more real to
us.  For God honours his word and lifts up those who lift him up.

My prayer for you all is that your faith might become ever more
real.  

The lesson of Christ concerning this is - the more you give it
away  the more you share it - the more you have.

It's pretty neat stuff - and it is found in the gospel of Jesus
Christ from the very first moment that Christ began his ministry
- from the moment that John pointed to Jesus and said: "Behold
the Lamb  of God, who takes away the sin of the world" and Andrew
went to his brother and said, "Simon, I have found the Messiah."
and then took him to meet him.

Blessed Be God, Day by Day, Amen


* HYMN: "Spirit of The Living God"                      - SFGP 91


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Let us pray... let us pray for those who are in need this day -
let us thank God for what he does and for who he is - let us
centre ourselves in the One who is the centre of all things and
our only hope and our truest and most enduring joy....

I thank you God for all those people who have shared the hope
that is within them.  I thank you for those who first told me
about Jesus and the healing that comes through him.  I thank you
for those who shared his love with me and who showed me the way
to the fuller and richer life he offers to all people, I thank
you for those who taught me that he is the Lamb of God - the one
who takes away the sin of the world and brings new life to all
who turn to him.  I ask your blessing to be upon those who
witnessed to me and for you to encourage and bring peace and joy
to all those who this day share their faith with others.   Lord
hear our prayer...

Grant, Oh God, the prayers of those who sit near me in this
church today - help me to be a good neighbour to them - to be a
brother, a sister, a friend to them in your name....  Grant O God
that I may be your faithful and obedient servant - we ask it
Jesus' name, and praying as he taught us - Our  Father...


MINUTE FOR MISSION


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication

     Lord God - we offer ourselves to you with these gifts -
     we offer ourselves to you and the work you have called
     us to.  May our efforts be blessed by your Spirit and
     may all that we do bring the light of your presence to
     those around us.  Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN: "To Show By Touch and Word"          - SFGP 134


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now
     go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people
     of God, the body of Christ.

                      
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, 
and may God, the God who believes in you and in Christ laid down
his life for you
bless you with a gentle heart, 
a discerning mind, 
and a spirit eager to share his love 
- this both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                    - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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