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Sermon Outline and Liturgy for Ordinary 10 - Proper 5 - Year A
Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 33; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13,18-26
"Insiders, Outsiders, and Blessings"

READING:  Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 33; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13,18-2
SERMON :  "Insiders, Outsiders, and Blessings"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or10su 984000
   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.

   Sources:  The children's Story is based on one by Charles
   Kirkpatrick, ( "What's Cooking", presented
   by Charles for James 1:2-3 on 26 Jan 2001 and is used with

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

* WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP   (Based on I Peter 2:9-11)
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  You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, 
   a people belonging to God, 
   that you may declare the praise of the one 
   who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
P  We praise God for his great love and mercy 
   - shown to us through Christ Jesus our Lord.
L  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.
P  We praise God for his great love and mercy 
   - shown to us through Christ Jesus our Lord.
L  In Christ the barriers that divide us one from another are torn down.  
   We are made the children of Abraham 
   and joint heirs with Israel to all God's promises.
P  We praise God for his great love and mercy 
   - shown to us through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let us Pray - O most gracious and loving God we thank you and praise you
for reaching out to us in Christ  Jesus and making us your own.   We praise
and thank you for how you have blessed us and watched over and given to us
new life - a life full of hope - a life that is abundant in love.   Bless,
we pray, our time of gathering as your people, strengthen us and uphold us
and give us your peace so that we may be your servants - one family - in
this world and in the next and so bring ever more praise and glory to your
name.  Amen.

* HYMN:   "Though Ancient Walls"                                   - VU 691

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Hearing and Doing The Word"
Object:   Various Cookbooks
Theme:    Hearing and Doing the Word
Source:   Adapted with permission from Charles Kirkpatrick 
          ( "What's  Cooking", a story for James 
          1:2-3, 2001 

I have quite a few cookbooks at my house.  I have brought just a few of
them to show you this morning.  We have cookbooks on how to make just about
anything you can imagine.  I like to look through these cookbooks and read
the recipes and think about all of the delicious foods that I could
prepare.  The recipes in these books tell me step by step exactly what I
need to do to prepare these wonderful foods.  Some of them even have a
picture of what it will look like.  It makes me hungry just to look at the
pictures.  How about you???

You might think that with all of these cookbooks that I must be a great
cook, but I'm not.  You see, I don't cook at all!  I just read the

I can read all of the cookbooks in the world, but that won't make me a
cook.  To be a cook, I not only have to read the recipe, I have to actually
do what it says.

The Bible is like a cookbook.  The Bible has God's recipe for becoming a
Christian and living a life that is pleasing to Him.  A lot of people read
the Bible every day.  Many of them even go to Sunday School and study the
Bible.   But it isn't enough just to read and study the Bible.   Reading
the Bible won't make you a Christian any more than reading a cookbook will
make you a cook.   We must follow the recipe in our daily life.  

How about you?  What's cooking in your life?   The challenge for us is to
try to follow Jesus each day as the bible tells us to - and when we do -
the Spirit of God will help us - and produce great meals - wonderful fruit
- in our lives - that fruit you are learning about in Sunday School these
past few weeks.

   Lord - help us to not only read your Word - but to follow its
   teaching - and so produce fruit - that is pleasing to you - and to
   our whole world.   Amen

And in the word's Jesus taught us, let us pray:

   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 trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

* LEARNING HYMN:  "Lord, Listen To Your Children Praying"          - VU 400

       Lord, listen to your children praying.
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

- Welcome and Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Special Matters 
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

       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
       Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God they will to see.
      Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

   (NIV)  The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people
   and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.  I
   will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make
   your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who
   bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on
   earth will be blessed through you." 

   So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. 
   Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.  He
   took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had
   accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set
   out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 

   Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great
   tree of Moreh at Shechem.  At that time the Canaanites were in the
   land.  The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I
   will give this land." 

   So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.  
   From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched
   his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east.  There he
   built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.  Then
   Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

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

RESPONSIVE READING:   Psalm 33 (VU 760) & Gloria Patri Sung
   Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
   As it was in the beginning, is now, and evermore shall be.  
   World without end.  Amen

   (NIV)  It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring
   received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through
   the righteousness that comes by faith.  For if those who live by law
   are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because
   law brings wrath.  And where there is no law there is no
   transgression.  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it
   may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring -
   not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of
   the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.  As it is
   written: "I have made you a father of many nations." 

   He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed - the God
   who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though
   they were.  Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became
   the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So
   shall your offspring be."  Without weakening in his faith, he faced
   the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a
   hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead.  Yet he did
   not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was
   strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully
   persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is
   why "it was credited to him as righteousness."  The words "it was
   credited to him" were written not for him alone,  but also for us,
   to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him
   who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He was delivered over to
   death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

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

* HYMN:  "To Abraham and Sarah"                                    - VU 634

   (NIV)  As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew
   sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and
   Matthew got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at
   Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with
   him and his disciples.  

   When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does
   your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 

   On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a
   doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: 'I desire
   mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous,
   but sinners."

   While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and
   said, "My daughter has just died.  But come and put your hand on
   her, and she will live."  Jesus got up and went with him, and so did
   his disciples. 

   Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years
   came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to
   herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."  

   Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your
   faith has healed you."  And the woman was healed from that moment.  

   When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and
   the noisy crowd, he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but
   asleep."  But they laughed at him.  After the crowd had been put
   outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 
   News of this spread through all that region.

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

SERMON:   "Inside Out and Outside In" 

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in 
   the thoughts that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 

It is said by many a preacher that they have but one sermon - which they
repeat under a variety of guises.

In a sense that statement is true not only of the message that preachers
like I deliver, but it is true as well of the message that God delivers to
us through the scriptures, through the person of Christ Jesus our Lord, and
through the Holy Spirit that is round about us.

It is the message of God's love and God's will for our lives.

To the lost - the message is - come to me - come in - and be blessed. 

   Come in out of the cold and the wet and dry off and warm yourself
   beside and in the fire of my love

   Come in to the sacred spaces and be amongst the people I have chosen
   listen to my word and allow my Spirit to heal you 

   Come and allow my forgiveness to wash you

   Come open your hearts and receive new life.

   Come, let me break every barrier down and give you peace.

And to those who have answered the call,
to those who have accepted God's invitation to receive new life -  the
message is - "go out" 
- go where I will send you 
- go where I will lead you 
- go to the wilderness 
- go to the market places 
- go to the busy streets of the city and to the back lanes of the
- go to where strangers dwell and go to the homes of your friends

Go and share my love - share my fire - share my word
   and show all the world the new life that God has for them,
       show them love that is in the heart of God for them 
          the love we have received 
              without having sought it,
              and in seeking it - haven't earned.

That message traces itself back to the time before Moses, back to the time
just after Noah's descendants tried to build a tower into heaven, and for
their pride   - the same pride that led to the flood before them - were
scattered over the face of the earth and rendered unable to understand one

Sin has it's consequences.  

Indeed  sin leads to alienation - and to confusion - and to enmity - and
ultimately to death.

But God's will for us - God's will for the whole world - 
is not that we perish - but that we have life and that abundantly
it is that we have a pure and joyful and eternal fellowship with God 
- and with one another.

And so, after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, 
   after the Great Flood, and after the Tower of Babel,
God tried once again - in a new way - to call us all 
to himself 
and to the blessings that flow from Him. 

God called to Abraham
who at that time was know as Abram,
God called and said - 

   "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go
   to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation
   and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a
   blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you
   I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 

God called Abraham to bless him 
and through him and his descendants - to bless the world 
- should the world decide to accept that blessing.

That is the beginning of the gospel, the Gospel that Paul preaches in our
reading from his letter to the Romans today when he talks about how through
Abraham's faith God raised up a people, a people of the flesh and a people
of the Spirit, to inherit all of God's promises 
- to inherit the promises, the blessings, of the God who gives life to the
dead and call things that are not - as though they were.

Abraham went out from his home
and from his people - and from all that he knew
and travelled to the place that God said he would show him 
and waited, though not always patiently, 
for God to fulfil his promises to him,
   the promise of a son - though Sarah and he were old
   the promise of many descendants - though Sarah's womb was infertile
   the promise of blessings upon blessings in a land he would call his own
   - though the lands he wandered in was occupied by people hostile to him
   and to God.

Going out in faith is not always an easy thing to do.  Going out to bless
others and to give them the chance to bless themselves by coming in
is not always an easy thing to do.

Our tendency is to want to stay inside - inside our comfort zone - inside
that which we know to be safe, and to enjoy the blessings that being inside
provides us with - the familiar - the warm - the holy.

In today's Gospel we see Jesus 
   - the one who moved from the comfort and security and power of being at
God's side 
   to being among us as one of us and suffering and dying as one of us
living out the message of the gospel...

We see him going out and inviting a notorious sinner to follow him, and to
come into God's embrace.
We see him call Matthew, a tax collector, to be his disciple and then, 
   as Matthew responds to this unexpected love ,to this grace of God 
we see Jesus - the holy one of Israel - sit and eat with Matthew's friends
   friends who, like Matthew, are tax collectors and sinners.

And we see Jesus criticized for it.

"Why" some Pharisees ask his disciples when they see Jesus doing this, 
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

And Jesus, answers this often levelled criticism of who he was and what was
about, by saying

       "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

And then he adds 

       "Go and learn what this means - "I desire mercy, not
       sacrifice' For I have not come to call the righteous, but

It is not that Jesus had no regard for the righteous -- in fact he loved
them.  The next part of today's gospel reading shows Jesus answering the
request of a ruler of a synagogue to come and bring his daughter back to
life - a not inconsiderable mercy, even for the righteous, I am sure you
will agree.

But the core of the gospel reading for today is found in the reply of Jesus
to his critics: 
   in his saying that he has come to bring healing to the sick
   in his saying that he has come to call sinners to come home to God.

Those who are studying Paul's Letter to the Philippians with me right now
will tell you that I can go on about the message of the gospel as we see it
proclaimed in the call of Abraham and embodied in Christ Jesus - and then
spoken of once again by Peter, as it is in today's "Call to Worship".

But going on about the word of God's grace and applying that word to our
lives are two different things.

And today - I want to focus for just a few minutes on the application.

So I want you to think about Abraham 
   - who was called way out of his comfort zone to be blessed and be a
and about Jesus 
   - whose mission is stated so clearly by him in today's reading, 
          - a mission to bring healing to the sick because the well, after
          all, have no need of a doctor!
          - and to call sinners - those who break God's laws - to come and
          dwell with the righteous, because, after all, the righteous -
          those who are already in - have no need to be invited in!

And I want you to think about the hassles - the difficulties - the
criticism - that Jesus encountered because that was his  mission...

For the last few months Charlene and I - and many of you - have been in
prayer for an outsider, for a lost soul, for a sinner, for someone who is
sick and who needs the great doctor to heal him.

We here in the church of Jesus Christ often pray that God will touch those
outside of our church family and we often ask that God will heal those who
have turned away from him -- to heal them and bring them to wholeness and
to a new and better life with us.

And that is good.  Very good.  That is what every Child of God is called to

But to directly bring and offer the love of God to such a person... 
well, that can be very hard 
   - especially when that person has repeatedly hurt and offended those we
   - especially when that person has repeatedly hurt and offended both God
   and man - and themselves.

A few days ago - God answered our prayers for that lost soul, 
   for one that is so sick that he hovers on the edge not only of
   spiritual death - but physical death as well.
God answered those prayers by asking us to open our home to him,
   by asking us to give him one more chance to live,
   by letting him come and live with us and start afresh.

I must confess I was at first against it!   But even as I was resisting
this absolutely crazy idea that was being proposed to us over the phone
from Kelowna - even as I was saying no to the Police Officer who called us, 
even as I was saying, 

   "absolutely not!  First this man, this desperately sick man must
   prove himself to us first", 

an alarming and prophetic word was delivered to me - the word that Satan
would have me say "no", but that God would have me say "yes".

And that was not easy to hear 
- but it rang absolutely true in my ears.

How will God answer our prayers for the lost in this world, how will people
come to be blessed on account of us if we do not leave behind our righteous
judgements - our true judgement of a situation, and venture out to where it
is most uncomfortable - and show mercy.

The apostle Matthew - the one who wrote the Gospel from which we read today
was not a good person my friends.

In fact - in the role of being a tax collector for the Roman authorities
   he was regarded as a traitor to his people and as a robber -
       a robber because the wages of all Roman tax collectors came from
       squeezing from the people more than they actually owed to the

The judgement that was owed to Matthew, and indeed the judgement owed to
all the other tax collectors and sinners that Jesus ate with, was the
judgement given by the Pharisees and teachers of the people,
   - the judgement that they should be avoided and kept from touching holy
   - the judgement that they should be treated like those with a
   infectious disease,
   - the judgement that they should be shunned and left out in the cold
   with all workers of evil.

Yet Jesus - as he walked past the tax collector's booth called out to
Matthew to follow him and then Jesus ate at his table with scores of those
who were as a bad as Matthew was.

He rubbed shoulders with them - he listened to them,
- he put his hand in the same dishes they put theirs in,
       these men - and women - who were prostitutes and traitors and
       adulterers and thieves,
- he sat with them and loved them and offered them the infinite love and
mercy of God. 

And Matthew did follow him after that meal.  

Matthew did leave behind his sin - and enter into a deep and intimate
relationship with Jesus - a relationship that not only changed his life
forever, but through him - - through his coming in from the outside - and
then through his going out to bring others in - literally millions upon
millions of people have been blessed.

It has been and is my prayer that God will heal the brother we have been
praying for as God healed Matthew and gave him a new life.  

It is God's answer to that prayer that I embody his mercy by showing mercy 
and welcome my brother into my home  - and at my table.

It is now my prayer that our brother will continue in the path to wholeness
that God has extended to him one more time by using Charlene and I.   

And we intend to do our part even though it means 
   our cozy new home - the home God just gave us a short time ago, 
   and our cozy little routines 
       -those routines that make us feel comfortable 
       - the ones that make us feel good 
       - the ones that make us feel safe
   are disrupted.

But how can we thank God for the life that God gives us, 
   how can we offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God, 
       how can we tithe and sing God's praise and worship God in this
   if we do not at the same time love like God loves?
   if we do not show mercy to sinners? 
   If we do not strive to bring blessing to those who have cursed us and
cursed God?

We are a chosen people.

You and I have been chosen by God to be his own - and to receive the
blessings promised to Abraham and his children after him.

Through Christ we have been called into the household of God
and the blessings that rest on Israel - the children of Abraham in the
flesh rest also on us.

We are called to be blessed (as we most surely are...)

And we are called to be a blessing 
- to be a holy nation, a nation of priests, to declare the praises of God
to all the world.

We can't be that if all we do is offer God our word of thanks in this
temple of his presence.

We need, each of us, most certainly, to come in 
- to leave our sin behind - and be healed.

But we need as well, to go out - to go to our sinful brothers and sisters,
   and to those who are hostile to what we love and respect
and to care for them in the same way that God cares for us.

Not an easy thing.  
We want to judge rather than to show mercy.

But it is what we are to do 
- even if seems to us to be the dumbest thing in the world to do,
- even if it seems terribly wrong - as it seems to be wrong to so many in
our world.

A quick story   

   During the Napoleonic Wars, a young battle-weary French soldier fell
   asleep while on guard duty. He was court-martialled, found guilty
   and sentenced to death. His widowed mother appealed her son's case
   to every level of command, but to no avail.  Finally, in her
   persistence, she managed to obtain an audience with the Emperor

   Falling at his feet, the woman begged him to spare her son's life,
   explaining he was her only child and sole means of support.

   "I do not ask for justice," she said, "I plead for mercy."

   "Madam, your son does not deserve mercy. He deserves to die,"
   Napoleon said coldly.

   The mother immediately replied, "You are right, sire, of course.
   That is why I am asking you for mercy. If he were deserving, it
   would not be mercy."

   The emperor was so touched by the logic of her words that he
   pardoned the soldier

We are called from inside this place to go out and show the mercy of God to
all people by what we say and what we do.

We are called to have all nations bless themselves in Christ's name on
account of us.

How they react to our blessing 
how they react to our ministry 
- is up to them...
But what they react to 
- if indeed there is any hope, any love, any goodness offered to them 
is up to us.

Praise be to God for his mercy and his love  - day by day - day by day. 

* HYMN:  "Will You Come and Follow Me"                             - VU 567

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (Rx - Singing #400)

       Lord, listen to your children praying.
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

God of Abraham and Sarah - of Mary and of Joseph - God our God - you have
called us by name to follow you and to go where you lead us - and we thank
you.   We thank you for  making us your people - for showing us your mercy
- for inviting us to be blessed by you - and for giving us all that we need
through Christ Jesus to bless your world in his name.   Help us, O Lord, to
respond to your call - help us to accept your gifts and to do all that you
ask.    Lord, hear our prayer....

       Lord, listen to your children praying.
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

Precious Lord, dearest Saviour - you have spoken by the prophets - and by
the words of Christ Jesus and told us that you desire mercy, not sacrifice. 
 You know, O Lord, our hearts - and how as we struggle with sin and
temptation and strive to lead holy and righteous lives how we draw in upon
ourselves - and focus our best efforts on building up our relationship with
you and with those whose ways are already your ways.  You know too how easy
it is for us to judge those who are different from us - those whose sin is
obvious - those who have offended both against you and against those whom
we love.  Lord, we know that justice is important - and we crave it for our
hurting world - and for those who hurt in our midst.  Indeed we pray that
your justice might flow down upon our world like an everlasting stream! 
But help us too, O Lord,  to remember the mercy we have received, and with
Christ to show that mercy - that love - to those people who our not part of
our comfort zone.  May we and all your chosen ones be like Jesus - may we
have a reputation for caring for those who are outsiders - a reputation for
forgiving the  unforgivable - for touching the untouchable - and for
reaching out to the unreachable.   May we be accused of eating with tax
collectors and sinners  and may we, by Christ's power within us - bring
your healing to those who need it, those who are in the world that he died
to save....  Lord, hear our prayer....

       Lord, listen to your children praying.
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

God of healing - God of wholeness - God of eternal glory - God whose word
is made flesh among us - hear our prayers for the world you have set us in
- the world you love - and for the family you have given us both in the
flesh and in the Spirit.   We pray now, each as the Spirit moves us, for
the people and the situations, that you have placed upon our hearts this

* For peace of Jerusalem and for all peoples in conflict
* for the hungry and the homeless
* for those seeking direction for their lives
* for those needing work
* for the children who are in danger of being lost

Lord, hear our prayer...

       Lord, listen to your children praying.
       Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
       Lord, listen to your children praying,
       send us love, send us power, send us grace!

In all things we pray to you O God in the name of your Son Jesus - in
thanksgiving for all your mercies - and with the prayer that you would help
us to follow him.   Amen.


* 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

   Receive and bless what we offer here O Lord, that both it and we -
   may be a blessing to your world and multiply the praise that is due
   to your holy and everlasting name.   Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN:    "We Are Pilgrims" (The Servant Song)          - VU 595

* 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

Go in peace and love and care for another in the name of Christ Jesus
- and may the God who called Abraham forth to a land he knew not
   walk with you on your journey
- may the Lord who raised up Israel from an infertile womb 
   bless you with abundance
- and may the Spirit so touch you that the praise of God flows forth from
   your hearts and from the hearts of all who behold you. 
both now - and forevermore.  Amen

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

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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