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Sermon and Liturgy (2) For The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year B
I John 5:1-6; Psalm 98; John 15:9-17
"Not Burdensome"


READING:  I John 5:1-6; Psalm 98, and John 15:9-17
SERMON :  "Not Burdensome"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-ea06sesx 3691026

   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: Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's
   story for Easter 6, Year B, 2003.  Reproduced (and slightly
   adapted) by permission.
   

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP:
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
L    We have come to worship God and praise God for his goodness.
P    Let us listen together and meditate on his greatness.
L    We are assembled from the four corners of our community.
P    Let us join our hearts and minds together 
     and remember our brothers and sisters in all corners of the earth.


* PRAYER OF APPROACH


* HYMN: "Come, Let Us Sing"                                        - VU 222


CHILDREN'S TIME  "As I Have Loved"
Theme:    We are to love others as Jesus loves us.
Object:   Some suckers or candy that comes in a variety of flavours.
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's story for
          Easter 6, Year B, 2003.  Reproduced (and slightly adapted) by
          permission.

               "My command is this: Love each other as I
               have loved you."  (John 15:12 NIV)

This morning I have a bag of candies.  As you can see, they came in many
different flavours. There are lemon, cherry, grape, watermelon, orange, and
butterscotch.

Sometimes I give one to my students at school when they have done something
special.  One thing I have noticed is that when I allow the students to
choose the flavour they want, some children are very picky about what
flavor they choose. I almost always end up with butterscotch suckers left
over when all of the other flavours are gone.

I don't know why my students won't choose the butterscotch suckers.  Maybe
it is because their flavour is different from the other suckers.  Maybe it
is because they don't like the color of the wrapping paper on the suckers. 
Whatever the reason may be, I always end up with butterscotch leftovers. 
Do you know what I do with the leftover suckers?  I eat them myself!  You
see, I love them all!

Sometimes we treat people the same way my students treat these suckers. 
When children play games, some children are always the last to be chosen. 
Maybe it is because they are just a little bit different.  Perhaps they
have a physical handicap or maybe their skin is a different colour. 
Whatever the reason might be, the other children just won't choose them.

Have you ever been the one that wasn't chosen?  It isn't a very good
feeling, is it?  We all need to remember that Jesus loves ALL the children
and He said, "Love each other as I have loved you."  If you are ever the
one that is left out, don't worry, Jesus loves you just as much as He loves
the other children. He loves us all!


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
     Dear Jesus - help us to remember - that you want us - to love one
     another - as you have loved us. - And help us - to love one
     another - each and every day. - Amen. 

     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


* HYMN: "All Creatures of Our God and King"                        - VU 217


TIME FOR SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS
- 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 thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!


A READING FROM 1 JOHN 5:1-6

    (NIV)  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, 
    and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  This is 
    how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying 
    out his commands.  This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And his 
    commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.
    This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is
    it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son 
    of God.  This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ.  He 
    did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit 
    who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
	
L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks Be To God.



RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 98 (Voices United 818) and 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 ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM JOHN 15:9-17
    (NIV) "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in 
    my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as 
    I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told
    you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  

    My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love 
    has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You 
    are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants,
    because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have 
    called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have 
    made known to you. 

   You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear 
   fruit - fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you 
   ask in my name. 

   This is my command: Love each other.

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


* HYMN: "O Love, How Deep"                                         - VU 348


SERMON: "Not Burdensome"

     Let us Pray - Lord God, Creator and Maker of us all, speak in the
     calming of our minds and in the longings of our hearts, by the
     words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord,
     for your servants listen.  Amen.


     Jesus said: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. 
     Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain
     in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain
     in his love."

Special appeal Sunday's tend to bother me -
and issue centred Sunday's are even worse.

As a worshipper, I, probably like many of you, don't want to be disturbed
in the sanctuary by the problems of the world - and I certainly don't want
to be told  
     that I am not doing enough,
     or that I don't care enough
     or that I don't give enough.

I don't want to come and be loaded up with guilt,
     or weighed down by a bunch of shoulds,
          as in "you should do this,"
          or "you should not do that"   

I don't want to be "should upon".... 
and I don't think you want to be should upon either.

I have come here to hear about the love of God and about he shows that love
to us in Jesus Christ; I have come to hear how Jesus helps those who
believe in him.

What I want is something that lifts me,
     something that encourages me,
     something that gives me strength for the rest of the week
     something that tells me that there is hope for me, and for my family
and for the world.

In short I want to hear good news, I want to hear gospel,
     and I want to give gospel back,
and I find that being asked for money,
     or being reminded of all the needs that exist around me
often has the opposite effect that good news has:
     it makes me angry,
     it makes me depressed,
     and it weighs me down.

               Jesus said: "I have told you this so that my
               joy may be in you and your joy may be
               complete.  My command is this: love each
               other as I have loved you."

I have a confession to make,
perhaps it is one that you can relate to,
maybe it is something that you do yourself.

My confession is this: I am a person who turns off the TV or changes the
channel whenever I bump into a telethon.  I would rather watch The Simpsons
than Jerry Lewis - and I don't like The Simpsons all that much.

In fact, I find telethons so incredibly boring
     that despite the fact that they are for a good cause,
          and despite the fact that I am a great lover of TV
I would rather watch nothing than watch them.

Not so bad you say??  Well there is more yet to come.

I have to tell you that I always change the channel when I come across one
of those shows that are full of pictures of starving children and bloated
livestock and land so dry that even weeds do not grow.

These shows are not boring - they are deeply disturbing.

I turn off the TV or change the channel when they come on because I don't
want to deal with their images. I want to shut out the pain and avoid the
suffering that they reveal.
          
I find that they suck the hope and the joy out of me,
     they leave me feeling fat and guilty and incredibly spoiled all
because I had the good luck to be born in a land that has food, water, and
for the most part, peace and good order.

Perhaps you are like me.

I can go for weeks without reading the newspaper and survive quite well
without tuning the radio in and listening to the news of the latest
atrocities in Iraq or Ireland, or the latest horrors in Saudi Arabia or
Israel.

And do you know something -  I don't feel guilty about it,
     I don't feel guilty because I refuse to wallow in the blood
          and the gore and the want and the hunger of the world,
               and I don't think anyone else should either.

I think it is obscene how the media profits from portraying the pain of the
world,
     and how organizations spend millions of dollars showing us pictures of
     the latest evil in the world, and asking us to contribute to
     overcoming that evil, by sending money to them,
the majority of which will be spent on taking still more pictures.

We have a deadly fascination when it comes to the pain and suffering of
others and a peculiar way of doing nothing significant about it, a peculiar
way of complaining about it, of blaming God for it, while ignoring the
simple actions that we can take to remedy it.

The gospel my friends is not found in watching suffering,
nor it is found in complaining about how it is with us,
rather it is found in doing what we can to alleviate it.

Perhaps you have heard the story about the rabbi and the soap maker who
went for a walk together one day.

          As they walked along the soap maker said to the Rabbi,
          "What good is religion?  Look at all the trouble and
          misery of the world after thousands of years of
          teaching about goodness, truth and peace - and this
          after all the prayers, sermons, and teachings.  If
          religion is good and true, why should this be?"

What an excellent question this is, the question that so many of us have
asked when we encounter suffering.

What good is God 
- what good is religion, 
if all this misery and suffering exist?

          Well, anyway, the rabbi said nothing.  They continued
          walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter.
          Then the rabbi said: "Look at that child.  You say that
          soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on that
          youngster. Of what good is soap?  With all the soap in
          the world, the child is still filthy.  I wonder how
          effective soap is after all."

          The soap maker protested, "But, Rabbi, soap can't do
          any good unless it is used."

          "Exactly", replied the Rabbi.  "And so it is with
          religion.  It is ineffective unless it is applied."

               Jesus said: "Greater love has no one than
               this, that he lay down his life for his
               friends.  You are my friends if you do what I
               command."

We have been asked today in our "minute for mission" to apply some of the
soap we have available to a problem that has existed for quite a while.

I am not going to tell you all about the pain and death that exists in the
area of Africa which we are focussing on today, nor am I going to attempt
to explain to you why it exists or what the long term solution to it is.

All I am going to say is that each of us can do something to help.

And I would like to remind you today as well that the Mission and Service
     Fund of our church, that fund that some of us never give too because
     it funds things we do not like,
is a fund that nevertheless can, and most often does, translate our concern
     for the pain of the world into actions that make a difference.

That is in the long run what is important --- making a difference,
     a difference because we have had enough moxie and enough compassion to
     do what love commands us to do, to care for our brothers and sisters
     despite our doubts and hesitations, despite our worries about whether
     or not what we do will be accepted, or whether or not our money will
     be used wisely, or whether or not any one will really appreciate it.

          "This is how we know that we love the children of God:
          by loving god and carrying out his commands."

God commands us, he begs us, he implores us, to love one another.

It is not a difficult command to obey -- as the epistle lesson said, 

                    "God's commands are not burdensome,
                    they are not too hard for us".

God hasn't just commanded us to love each other,
he has shown us how to love each other,
     and he has given us what we need to do it with,
     and he promised us joy and victory over the world when we love with
the faith that God is with us to help us as we obey him.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that God did not sit by the wayside and
let us perish, He sent his own son to save us.

And now my friends that son has sent us,
and in sending us he has promised to be with us,
giving us the strength we need.

Love that counts, love that is real, is acted out.

Love, does not sit by the wayside, looking at those who suffer
or complaining about how bad things are,
and making judgements about who or what is to blame.

No - it leads to involvement,
to the attempt to heal and help, and wipe away the tears,
to the attempt to be like Jesus, 
     who upon seeing the suffering of the world, descended from his throne
     in heaven and walked among us, as a servant, a teacher, and a healer,
     that we might know what it is that we should do and know that he is
     with us to help us to do it.  

AMEN


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE    Singing #400 at the start of the prayer time.  Our
                         response to "Lord, hear our Prayer" is "And in
                         Your Love Answer")
            
          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!

.... Lord hear our prayer
Rx:  And in your love answer.


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


* DEPARTING HYMN: "In Christ There is No East or West"             - VU 606


* COMMISSIONING:   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 love of God uphold you
- the mercy of God sustain you
- and the Word of God direct you
The Lord bless you all - both now and forevermore. Amen


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


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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