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Sermon (2) and Liturgy for Ordinary 16 - Proper 11 - Year A
Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43a
"And I Did Not Know It"

READING: Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43a SERMON : "And I Did Not Know It" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or16smsx 990497 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 (* = please stand) * WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (Based on Psalm 139) L The Lord be with you. P And also with you. L God's love is steadfast and sure. It extends beyond the farthest star. P God created every part of me. He put me together in my mother's womb. L God's grace is able to reach every creature. Nothing is hid from him. P The days allotted to me have all been recorded in his book, even before they began, God knew them all. L The Lord does not judge as we judge. Nor does he see as we see. P His mercy and his truth go hand in hand. He is able to save even those who are like me. L Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. P May his presence continue with us and all glory be ascribed unto him both now, and forevermore. * PRAYER OF INVOCATION Most Glorious God, Lord of Hosts - still quiet voice within - visit us this day with your salvation - inspire in us a new righteousness, move among us as wind and fire - as gentle breeze and overwhelming clouds - in the light about us and in the darkness that surrounds us. Help us to see the works of your hands and to wonder - to wonder and to feel the Spirit's prompting, and to surrender to you and to hear your word and to give you the praise of our obedience and our hope. In the name of Jesus, we ask it. Amen * HYMN: "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" - VU 264 CHILDREN'S TIME Object Weed Killer. Theme: You never know what you will destroy... use natural methods Source: Self Talk about weeds in the garden. Some of them are rather nasty and will choke out good plants. What can you do. Well I brought a bottle of weed killer - let's read this out to see what you do with it.... Read out all the warnings.... Weed killer destroys weeds - but you have to be very careful with it. So it is with the church. Sometimes we think that there are folk who don't belong. They do things that aren't very loving. They don't seem to believe in what we believe. They may talk down on their brothers and sisters. They seem like weeds amongst the good plants. We have to be very careful about how we remove them. Jesus tells us that we shouldn't worry about plucking up the weeds that grow around us. That while they may belong to his enemy and ours - that pulling them out can damage the good plants. He suggests that we leave the judgement for God to make - and concentrate on doing what he asks us to do - which is producing fruit for God. And I think that is good advice. There are professionals who know how to apply this stuff - without damaging the environment, without harming themselves and innocent bystanders with the chemical. Also, they know the difference between the weeds and the plants - not something we always know... PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER Let us pray... Dear Lord Jesus - help us to grow as you want us to grow - help us to trust in you day by day - even when the weeds seem to threaten us - You, O Lord, - have promised a good crop - help us to among it. - 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 SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SPECIAL MATTERS - Welcome and Announcements - Birthdays and Anniversaries - Special Matters - Sharing Joys and Concerns TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD (verse 2 - VU 371) 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 they will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine! A READING FROM GENESIS 28:10-19a (NIV) Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel. L This is the word of the Lord. P Thanks be to God. RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 139 (VU 861) and The Gloria Patri (Sung) A READING FROM MATTHEW 13:24-30,36-43 (NIV) Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." L This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord. p Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ PRAYER OF CONFESSION L Father, we confess that often we are impatient. P O God, we do not always understand or appreciate your ways, We want prompt results for all our efforts, we demand immediate perfection from ourselves and from others, we pray for instant judgements and quick fixes, we look for gratification now and fail to see how we will be filled in the time that is yet to come. L Forgive us, O Lord, for how we ignore the testimony of the seasons you have made and try to rush the events you have planned since the beginning. P Forgive us Father for how we forget the way of your mercy and love. Teach us anew how to wait upon you. Show us the path of patience and tenderness. Help us to see your plan for us and for those around us. .............. (silent prayer) .............. L Remind us, O God, of how you have given time and space to us that we may come closer to you, and forgive us for how we have judged others with a standard different than that by which we have judged ourselves. P Help us, Father, to live by the Spirit rather than by the flesh trusting in you to fulfil all your promises, and to bring to pass the fullness of all your words to us. We ask it in Jesus' name - Amen. Assurance of God's Love and Mercy * HYMN: "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" - VU 382 SERMON: "And I Did Not Know It" Bless, O God, the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts, that they be of profit to us and acceptable to thee, our rock and our redeemer. Amen Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said "Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!" Over the years I have met and become friends with people whom others would consider but little better than the devil himself. I have known murderers, cheats, thieves, and adulterers, and I have come to one conclusion about all these people who have crossed my path, and that conclusion is that you cannot know what is going to come next, nor can you pin down just where God is and what he is about. I want you to hold onto that thought today - I want you to hold onto it when you meet people that strike you as evil, and I want you to hold onto it when you feel that you yourselves are out of reach of God. I want you to hold onto it when you watch the news at six and when you walk into in a court room to face a judge. I want you to hold onto it when you see the neighbourhood gossip doing her rounds, and I want to hold onto when you encounter an unscrupulous salesman doing his pitch. We do not know what is going to come next, nor can we pin down just where God is and what he is about. This is the message of Jacob's story - the Jacob who cheated his brother and stole his birthright - the Jacob who fled to do his father's bidding fled not because he was particularly obedient - but because he feared that he would be killed if he stayed at home. And as he fled he came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, he took a stone of the place and put it under his head and lay down, and he slept - and he dreamed - and in that dream God came to him - God came to him who was tired and fearful, to him who was alone and thought that he was loved by none except his mother - God came to him who was a cheat and a rascal and goodness knows what else, and God gave to him a vision of a staircase reaching into heaven, of a ladder upon which the angels ascended and descended to do God's bidding and as Jacob looked upon this scene God gave him a promise the promise made to his grandfather Abraham and to his father Isaac, saying "know that I am with you - and will keep you wherever you go, that I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." And Jacob awoke - and he said - and catch this line - he said "Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!" Does that fit your experience? Have you ever been in God's presence and hardly noticed it? Have you ever suddenly realized that God had been with you long before you knew he was there? Have you ever been in exile or in fear only to discover God coming to your aid? Have you ever had your picture of someone completely painted only to discover that the light has shifted - that the person you thought you saw - has completely changed? Changed for the better? Have you ever painted a picture of yourself - a picture in which the colours are all blue - all depressed - all unloveable - only to discover that someone loves you? That someone believes in you? That you are more than welcome in God's presence? The good news of Jacob's story is not simply that there are links to heaven. The good news is not that God sometimes comes to us. The good news is not that heaven and earth are somehow connected. The good news is not that Jacob was a special kind of guy despite his tricky ways. Nor is the good news simply that we see God keeping - and renewing - his promise to Abraham and to Isaac to raise up a people and to bless them to be blessing. No - the good news is all but hidden in that single sentence: "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.!" Do you understand? Do you get it? Do you have ears to hear? The gospel reading today - the reading about the parable of the wheat and the tares is instructive for us. It is instructive - not because it prophecies the ultimate destruction of evil doers, - nor because it teaches us that the blights on our lives and the weeds that suck up the nutrition of better plants are afflictions that come from Satan - No, it is instructive for us because it counsels patience - - patience in the face of situations that seem bad to us, - patience in the face of attacks by Satan, - patience in the midst of our urge to go out and fix things and make them right. - patience in the face of our desire to make judgements about others and to act on those judgements. We do not know what is going to come next, nor can we pin down just where God is and what he is about. In fact we can't even be sure that the weeds about us will remain weeds and that the wheat will remain wheat. Consider Moses - a murderer, Consider David - an adulterer, Consider the Apostle Paul - a religious vigilante, Consider the disciple Peter - a hypocrite and a coward. Who would think that God would work with them? that God would be present with them? that God would love them? that God would make them great? that God would grant unto them the blessings of his kingdom?. Consider yourselves.... What judgement do you make upon yourself? Master - say the servants in the parable of the wheat and the weeds - Master, do you want us to go out and gather the weeds for burning - do you want us to pluck out the evil sown by your enemy to try to separate out the roots - to destroy that which is doing harm? No - says the master - for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Wait till harvest time - wait till the reapers go forth. Wait. Let anyone with ears hear... Where is God? What is he doing? We do not know what is going to come next, nor can we pin down just where God is and what he is about. But we can be sure of one thing - we can know one truth we can rely on one verity - and that is - God will surprise us. God will surprise us by embracing us when we feel dirty and unclean, - God will surprise us by turning our greatest afflictions into sources of strength and healing - God will surprise us by taking the lost and lone and making them great lights - God will surprise us by changing the wicked into saints and by casting down those whose righteousness turned out to be only something they wore on their sleeves. - God will surprise us by making sour lemons into thirst quenching drinks - God will surprise us by converting moments of pain into stripes that heal. - he will surprise us by changing a time of death into an eternity of glorious life. Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it. This could be a cry of despair -coming as it does from Jacob's most unworthy lips, it could be the kind of cry we have all uttered when we have done one thing when we ought to have done another, it could be a cry of despair and a moment of longing for that which is past - But it is not! For Jacob that cry signals a moment of awakening, a time of opening his eyes and truly seeing, a time of opening his ears and truly listening. a time of coming from the night of uncertainty into the daylight of a holy hope. For Jacob that cry signals a moment of discovering that, yes, God is here: here even when we do not know it, here even when we think that God can not, should not, will not be here, here even when we are not looking for God to be here. And in discovering that God is here, it is for Jacob a moment in which he understands that God is here to bless and to heal; that God is here to comfort and to guide; that God is here to change to transform; that God is here to help and to reassure. And Jacob woke from his sleep, and he said "surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it" and yes - Jacob was afraid - afraid not because he had made some mistake, but afraid because he realized just how holy was the place he was in - and as he looked in that fear upon the sand and rock and the dry plants and soil of that place, he said "How awesome is this place - this is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven" And Jacob took the stone upon which he had laid his head while he slept and he made of it a kind of memorial - a kind of altar, and he poured oil upon that stone upon which he had his vision and he named the place in which he had slept - Bethel - "The House of God" How awesome indeed is the place of God - the place in which the weeds are allowed to grow up with the wheat - the place in which all we have for pillows are stones - the place in which we fear and long for comfort and think we have none - the place in which the lost are found and the blind given sight. We do not know what is going to come next, nor can we pin down just where God is and what he is about. But if we wait - if we let God do whatever it is God does - if we let God move in his mysterious ways - his wonders to perform we will find ourselves surprised in the most wonderful of ways - we will discover that where we are - wherever we are - is the House of God and that next to us is the gate of heaven. Lift up your heads, O Gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts - he is the King of Glory - Hallowed be his name, now and ever. Amen and Amen. * HYMN: "God is Here" - VU 389 PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (Rx - And In Your Love Answer) Singing #400 at the start and the end of the prayer time) 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! We thank you God for your wondrous infallible wisdom, for your infinite love, and for your forbearance that goes beyond our understanding. We thank you for how you surprise us with hope and with promise, with acceptance and with guidance, for how you come among us when we are not even looking for you - for how you reach out and touch us even we do not believe in you or seek you. We praise you, O God, and ask that we might be awake to your presence each and every day and in each and every way... Lord, hear our prayer.... Lord, we pray today for those who sit in judgement upon others and for those who judge themselves with a judgement that is not your own. Help us to trust in your judgements and to grow as you want us to grow.... Lord, hear our prayer... We pray, O God, for those who are disheartened by evil and for those who are oppressed by the wicked. We pray that the time of reckoning may come soon and that when it comes we may be found doing your work and growing the fruit that pleases you.... Lord, hear our prayer... Father, we pray for those who live in fear - for those who are struggling for life - for those who face trial and tribulation. We pray that you would work a healing in their lives and bring them with Christ Jesus to new life here and now - and in your kingdom to come.... Lord hear our prayer... We hold before you, compassionate One, the special concerns and needs that rest upon our hearts at this time. Hear our prayers as your church in this place for those we now name before you... (BIDDING PRAYER).... Lord, hear our prayer... Dearest Lord Jesus, we pray for your church and for all who are part of it. Bless each one here today with new commitment and zeal. Pour out upon us the gifts of faith and hope and love that with those who have gone before us - and those who are scattered throughout the world - we might be light and salt and the leaven of righteousness. Amen. 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 We bless you O God and remember your steadfast love and mercy. We you now as we offer these gifts in obedience and in thankfulness to help us to remember your presence and your promises and to dedicate ourselves to your service in the church and in the world that you gave your Son Jesus for. We ask it in his name. Amen * DEPARTING HYMN: "God of Grace and God of Glory" - VU 686 * 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, love and care for one another in the name of Christ Jesus - and may the Lord bless you and keep you - may He make his face shine upon and be gracious unto you, - may he lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. now and forevermore. Amen. * CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964 copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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