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Sermon Outline and Liturgy for Ordinary 13 - Year A
Genesis 22:1-14 and John 3:13-17
"God Has Provided"

READING: Genesis 22:1-14 and John 3:13-17 SERMON : "God Has Provided" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or13snsu 841000 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. The Eucharistic Prayer and the Benediction are taken and modified from Nathan Nettleton (nathan@webtime.com.au) "Eucharistic Preface For Proper 8" as sent to the PRCL- List, June 99. The Prayer of Invocation, Dedication and the Departing Prayer, are taken and modified from John Maynard (maynard@SYMPAC.COM.AU) "Prayers and Litanies for Ordinary 13" as sent to the PRCL-List, June 1999). It is on account of the power of the Genesis passage I have abandoned the RCL gospel reading and used John 3:13-17. GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand) * WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 13) 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 How long, O Lord? How long will you hide your face from me? P How long must we wrestle with our thoughts and have sorrow in our hearts? L Look on us and answer us. P Give light to our eyes or we will sleep in death. Our enemies will say "We have overcome them", they will rejoice when we fall. L We cry out to you because we trust in your steadfast love P We sing to you, O Lord, because you have dealt bountifully with me. L Hear our prayer, O God, and in your love answer. P We give you our thanks and praise. * INTROIT: "What Does The Lord Require of You" (VU-701) * PRAYER OF INVOCATION: O God, you have prepared for those who love you - for those who have faith in you - joys beyond understanding. Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire. Be present to us as we are present to you in this time of worship - and throughout this blessed day - we ask it in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen * HYMN: "Come, Let Us Sing Of A Wonderful Love" - VU 574 ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS Gathering in of prayer joys and concerns. PRAYER OF THE PEOPLE CHILDREN'S TIME Simply bring children up to front and explain the process of the rest of the service - most especially the story of Abraham and Isaac. Then go on to talk about God's love for us - and how we will celebrate the Lord's Supper - a symbol of how God gives himself for us.... Let us say a prayer together now as we ready ourselves to hear the Word of God. Dear Lord God --- Be Present With Us -- Help us to hear your word -- and touch us with your love --- so that might love too -- in an ever more perfect way -- Amen 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 GENESIS 22:1-14 (NRSV) After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." {2} He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." {3} So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. {4} On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. {5} Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." {6} Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. {7} Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" {8} Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. {9} When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. {10} Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. {11} But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." {12} He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." {13} And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. {14} So Abraham called that place "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." L This is the Word of the Lord P Thanks be to God. HYMN: "Take My Life And Let It Be" (Verses 1 & 5) - VU 506 A READING FROM JOHN 3:13-17 (NRSV) Jesus said: "No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. {14} And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, {15} that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. {16} For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. {17} Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." L This is the gospel of our Risen Lord. P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ. * HYMN: "How Great Thou Art" -VU 238 SERMON: "God Has Provided" "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. Breath your Spirit into us and grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way you want us to go. Amen. This past week, one of the preaching lists I belong to on the Internet went crazy. Instead of the usual 30 or so notes a day, there was up to 60 or 70 notes per day. On the other lists it was the same. All of it was occasioned by the Old Testament reading Ivan read this morning - the story of God testing Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. It is a shocking story. And people today, as in centuries gone by, have problems with it, problems with understanding it, problems with accepting it, problems with interpreting it. Scholars have debated and marvelled over this story throughout the centuries, just as have ordinary people like you and I. Indeed the tale - told as a story about God and about Abraham and about God and you and I evokes for us all some very deep feelings. Did God really ask Abraham to sacrifice his son upon an alter? How could God ask that? What kind of God would ask that? The feelings that we have - they fuel our questions - our debate: - Our sense of horror as Abraham sets on his trek - Isaac beside him. - The awful suspense when, near to the end of that trek, we hear Isaac address his father, saying: "Father, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And we hear Abraham respond with what seems to be an awful lie, saying, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." - Our sense of relief when as the knife is about to descend - God speaks and stays Abraham's hands and indeed provides the sacrifice for the alter which Abraham has built. A lot of feelings and a lot of thoughts are evoked by this story: thoughts and feelings about God and thoughts and feelings about Abraham. What kind of Father was Abraham? What kind of man could offer up his own son? Should he really be held up as a model of faith for us all? Powerful, potent, questions. Powerful, potent, feelings. And yet consider. Consider in the midst of your thoughts and feelings the story for what is - for what it purports to be with it's opening line: "After these things God tested Abraham." We may not understand why God tested Abraham, but do we not understand that fact that tests come to us? Do we not pray each day as Jesus taught us "and lead us not into temptation" - lead us not into the time of trial, but deliver us from evil? What faith had this man - this man whose son came from God by a promise? What faith had this man - who, as he leads that son towards what seems to be his certain death, says to him when asked about the lamb for the sacrifice - "God will provide"? Would that we would never have this trial, this test. Would that no one would ever ask of us - in the name of God - to give up our children. But would that we would be like Abraham, able to trust God that far, that much; would that we would be like Abraham and be able to say: "God will provide." But the story is not for me just about Abraham's faith It is about God and what God does. In Abraham's giving up of his son, something marvellous happens. His son comes back to him. God provides the sacrifice - as Abraham tells Isaac he will. We have no way of knowing just what Abraham meant by that comment he made to Isaac, what it is that Abraham expected to happen - or to not happen, but the fact is, that in this tale of Abraham, we see something new about God emerge. We see a God unlike the gods of Abraham's neighbours - those gods who not only demanded the sacrifice of the first born from time to time, but who took the sacrifice and gave nothing back for it. The God of Abraham provided the sacrifice. The God whom Jesus believed in did not let Abraham down. The God who was the father of Jesus showed that despite the awfulness of the test he set Abraham, he was a God who could be trusted utterly. The scripture says, "After all these things" - after all that Abraham and Sarah and Lot and his wife had experienced from the hand of God over many years, "God put Abraham to the test". We don't know why. We may not approve of the kind of test it was. But in the midst of it - God provided. The story of Abraham does not end with Isaac being restored however. For the God who asked Abraham to give up his son - and who then gave the son back to him, ends up giving up his own son, giving him up out of love for us - as Abraham was prepared to give up Isaac out of love for God. And in the process of God giving up his son Jesus for us - something marvellous happens. His son comes back to him - as did Abraham's. He comes back to him and in coming back to him, brings to God all of us - each one of you here today. God has provided. The story of Abraham is the story of God. And it is our story. The God of Jesus, who said "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" has provided - and will provide. The God of Jesus, who said, "Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me" has provided and will provide. Loving God more than we love ourselves - more than we love our family is not easy. Taking up a cross - it is not pleasant - it is work - indeed it is work unto death, but you have provided and will provide. And no other god does that. God - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jesus, provides. And more. We see God do what no other god has done, what no idol, no demon, no power, that hold the misguided in thrall has done. We see God give up his own son rather than demand the sons of those who worship Him. God provided the sacrifice for Abraham. And God provides the sacrifice for us as well. A sacrifice, made on our behalf - once and for all, forever. That is part of the meaning of the table spread before us this morning. We celebrate God having provided the perfect sacrifice. We celebrate God giving back to us not only our children and their children after them, but God giving back to us the very life that we owe to him. There is a mystery to God. A mystery to Christ. His suffering redeems our suffering and through him, our suffering also redeems the world. People can talk and debate and argue about what God might or might not expect of us - they can go on for hours about how a loving God would never ask Abraham to give us Isaac - they can even cast doubt upon the necessity of Jesus dying upon the cross so that our sins might be forgiven. They can and they will. And much of the debate is good. But good - or bad - the fundamental fact is that in the situation in which Abraham found himself - and in the situations in which we find ourselves- God has provided and will provide - now and forever. My God is a mystery. But my God is a mystery of love. A mystery of love that calls me to give up all that I treasure - even myself - and then provides to me something that is such much better. May your God be the same to you. May your God be the God of Abraham and Isaac - the God of Jacob and of Jesus - both now - and forevermore. 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 Dedication As we glory in the cross of Christ, O God, so we also seek to serve the cause for which He died. Accept the gifts placed before You as symbols of our commitment. May the light of Your sacred story shine forth for all to see. Amen. * SHARING THE PEACE: We greet those around us with a sign of peace (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with you". This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace that God gives to those who hear and do his word. * COMMUNION HYMN: "Just As I Am" - VU 508 COMMUNION LITANY: L The peace of the Lord be with you. P And also with you. L Lift up your hearts. P We lift them up to the Lord. L Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. P It is right to give God thanks and praise. EUCHARISTIC PRAYER We do indeed bring you our thanks and praise, O God, trusting and rejoicing in your love, for you save us. In ancient times, you called to your servant Abraham and asked him to offer you his beloved son. When he obeyed, you commended his love and gave him back his son. In Jesus Christ, you have offered to us your own beloved Son. Whoever welcomes him welcomes you, and in everyone we meet, you enable us to welcome him. Through his grace, you have freed us from slavery to sin and called us to be bound instead in the service of righteousness. To all who welcome Christ, following him in pathways of sanctification, you give the free gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Praised be your name - forever and ever.... THE INSTITUTION & THE ACT OF CONSECRATION O Lord, as we gather in praise and thanksgiving, we remember the cost and the victory it brought about. We remember how on the night before his passion Jesus took bread and gave you thanks - as even now we give thanks to you O God for this bread, saying: "Take and eat: this is my body which will be broken for you." We recall as well how, in the same way, when the meal was over, he took the cup, the cup of blessing, and gave it to his disciples, saying: "Take and drink: This is my blood, the blood of a new covenant for the forgiveness of sin.... When you do this, do it in memory of me." Father, send thy Holy Spirit upon us and what we do here that we, and these gifts, may be signs of hope to us and to all the world. Make them for us the body and blood of Christ Jesus, and make us through them the body of Christ in the world. We ask it in his name, praying together as he taught us, singing: Our Father... THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS: The congregation is invited to come forward up the centre aisle, then return to their seats by the side aisles DEPARTING PRAYER: L Let us pray: (silence, then when the Leader starts, say) P Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion. L Bless, O Lord, the nation in which we dwell; guide and protect her leaders, inspire her citizens, and make the land one that is hospitable and good for all people. P We ask it for the sake of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and for your eternal glory, both now and for ever. Amen * DEPARTING HYMN: "O God of All The Many Lands" - VU 523 * 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 the holy God provide for you in mercy, May Jesus Christ greet you as you welcome the stranger, and may the Holy Spirit lead you in the ways of eternal life this now and for ever and ever. Amen * THREEFOLD 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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