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Sermon and Liturgy For The Seventh Sunday After Epiphany - Year B
Isaiah 43:18-25; Psalm 41; II Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12
"Some Came, Bringing to Him A Paralytic"


READING:  Isaiah 43:18-25; Psalm 41; II Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12
SERMON :  "Some Came, Bringing to Him A Paralytic"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or07sx 102700

   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.

   Source:  Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's
   story for Ordinary 7, Year B, 2003.  Reproduced and slightly
   adapted, especially the prayer, 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.
P    And also with you.
L    We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
P    We have Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living God, 
     joy of heaven to earth come down;
     crucified, dead and buried, he rose on the third day,
     and even now lives and reigns with the Father.
L    Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace
     that we may receive mercy 
     and find grace to help in time of need.
P    Let us gather together and praise his holy name
     for it is his will to heal our afflictions 
     to and cure our disease.
L    Let us gather together in faithfulness
     and do all that he commanded us
     for he is Lord of both the living and of the dead.
P    Praise be to God, now and forevermore.  Amen


* PRAYER OF APPROACH
All praise and thanksgiving be to you O God in the name of Christ Jesus
your Son.  He came among us to reveal your love and care for all the world
and he returned to your side where he lives to intercede before you for all
who call upon his name.  Help us to call upon his name, help us to call
upon your name, this day and to render you the love and obedience of our
hearts and minds and souls.  With all who gather may we hallow this time
and celebrate your good and gracious will.  Open to us the way and help us
as one to enter into your presence.  Amen and Amen.


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


CHILDREN'S TIME  "Grab A Corner of The Blanket"
Theme:    Doing our part to bring others to Jesus
Object:   A blanket (If a full-sized blanket is used, you might need to
          fold it in half to make a 'pallet')
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's story for
          Ordinary 7, Year B, 2003.  Reproduced (and slightly adapted) by
          permission.

     "Some men  came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of
     them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd,
     they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging
     through it, lowered the mat the paralysed man was lying on.  When
     Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins
     are forgiven."  (Mark 2:3-5)

This morning I have a blanket. I am going to spread the blanket out on the
floor and ask "Johnny" to lie down on the blanket.  Next I will ask a child
to stand at each of the four corners of the blanket. (Choose children to
take their positions as described.)

Our friend "Johnny" has broken his leg and we need to get him to the
doctor. If I were to ask the children who are standing at the corners of
the blanket to grab a corner of the blanket and carry "Johnny" out the
door, down the street and into the doctor's office, that would be pretty
difficult, wouldn't it? Do you think you could do it?  Would you be willing
to try?

Well, let us suppose that you can do it, but when you get to the doctor's
office, there are so many people waiting to get in to see the doctor, that
you can't even get up to the door, much less get into the office.  Then you
notice that the doctor's office has some stairs that lead up to the roof.
If you could carry "Johnny" up to the roof, perhaps you could make a hole
in the roof and lower him down into the doctor's office.  Do you think you
could do it?  Would you be willing to try?

Did you know that this is almost exactly what happened when a group of men
wanted to take a friend to Jesus?  The Bible tells us that four men were
carrying a paralysed man to Jesus.  They knew that if they could just get
him to Jesus that Jesus could heal him, but they couldn't get to where
Jesus was because of the large crowd.  The four men carried their friend up
to the roof and made an opening in the roof. 

Then they lowered the man down through the roof to where Jesus was. When
Jesus saw how much faith these four men had, he not only healed the
paralysed man, he even forgave him of all his sins.

You and I have friends who need to come to Jesus. It may not be easy, but
if each of us will do our part, together we can succeed.  We may meet
obstacles, but we must never give up.  We must hold on to our corner of the
blanket and carry on until we bring them to Jesus.

Let us Pray (Suggestion: It would be very effective to have the children
     gather around the blanket and hold on to the edge of the blanket
     during the closing prayer)


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
     Dear Jesus - Loving God - we have friends who need you - those
     who need your healing touch - and your forgiving word.    Help us
     we pray - to do our part - to take hold of them with others - and
     to bring them to you. - Help us to work together - despite every
     barrier - so that our joy may be complete.  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: "Come, Children, Join To Sing"                             - VU 345


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 ISAIAH 43:18-25
     (NIV)  "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See,
     I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive
     it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the
     wasteland.  The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls,
     because I provide water in the desert and streams in the
     wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I
     formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

     "Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob, you have not wearied
     yourselves for me, O Israel. You have not brought me sheep for
     burnt offerings, nor honoured me with your sacrifices. I have not
     burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands
     for incense. You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or
     lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.  But you have burdened
     me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.

     "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own
     sake, and remembers your sins no more.

L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks Be To God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 41 (Voices United 765) 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 II CORINTHIANS 1:18-22
     (NIV)  But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is
     not "Yes" and "No."  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was
     preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and
     "No," but in him it has always been "Yes."  For no matter how
     many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.  And so
     through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.  Now
     it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He
     anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit
     in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks Be To God.


SONG: by Pam Morrell


A READING FROM MARK 2:1-12
     (NIV)  A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the
     people heard that he had come home.  So many gathered that there
     was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the
     word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic,
     carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus
     because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above
     Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the
     paralysed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said
     to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 

     Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to
     themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's
     blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 

     Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were
     thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you
     thinking these things?  Which is easier: to say to the paralytic,
     'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and
     walk'?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority
     on earth to forgive sins..."  He said to the paralytic, "I tell
     you, get up, take your mat and go home."   

     He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. 
     This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never
     seen anything like this!"

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


* HYMN:  "When I Needed A Neighbour"                               - VU 600


SERMON:  "Some Came, Bringing to Him A Paralytic"

     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.

The gospel reading today has long been one of my favourite passages with
its tale of how some men came to Jesus bearing with them a man who is
paralysed - and upon seeing that so many people had gathered in the home
where Jesus was - and how even outside the doorway there was a crowd
blocking their passage, they climbed up unto the roof of the place - and
dug a hole through the roofing material - a hole large enough for the man
on his mat to be lowered down to where Jesus sat teaching and conversing
with the crowd.

It is an awesome picture with an awesome message.

The story has several threads to it each of which could be a sermon on it's
own.  But today I want you to think about the man who is paralysed.  And
about the role his friends played in bringing him to the place where he
could be healed, the role they played in bringing him to the one who has
the power to heal.

I dare say that today none of you would be here if you did not believe 
- or at the very least hope - that something special occurs in this place,
that there is in fact good news, news of great joy, to be found here.

You wouldn't be here if you didn't think that somehow God is here in Christ
and that Christ is among us - to proclaim and enact the gospel.

You wouldn't be here if you didn't believe it, 
- or think it 
- or at the very least hope it.
  
And neither would I.

It is so. Forgiveness and Healing comes from God.  And God is here.  
Christ is here.  

God is here, Christ is here because they have promised to be here.
And because we together have asked it be so.

But sometimes it is not always possible for one who is sick
     for one who needs forgiveness
          for one who needs the Word of God's love and the touch of God's
          hand 
to come before God 
- to come before Christ 
- to come into the Holy Place where he is to be found.

Like the man carried by his friends - people need a community - a church -
brothers and sisters - to carry them to where they need to go - and more -
to believe for them when they don't - or simply can't - believe for
themselves.

And that is where all of you here today fit in.

Whether spiritual or physical, mental or emotional - healing and
forgiveness, wholeness, the working of justice, restoration 
needs a community in which to occur.

It needs a set of relationships in which we are able to not only hear of
the miracle working one, but to actually be able to encounter him;  a
community, a group, a fellowship, who in love and faith will carry those
who can't carry themselves to the one who can heal, to the one who can
forgive, to the one who speaks the truth, to the one who can bring justice
and restore that which has been lost.

Healing  - forgiveness - justice - restoration - needs friends, a family,
brothers and sisters, people who will not give up, just as the four who
brought the paralytic to Jesus did not give up but instead removed the roof
of the house so that one in need might meet the healer.

The thing that has always struck me about the story I tell from the Gospel
according to Mark today is how the faith of the man who is forgiven and
healed is not mentioned at all by Jesus.

Nor is it mentioned in Matthew or Luke's telling of the same tale.

Rather is the faith of the friends that is mentioned 
     the faith revealed by their willingness to carry the paralytic past
     all obstacles
and to lay him at the feet of Jesus.

As one who has been carried more than once during my life I want to tell
you what a relief that is.

Perhaps the fullest meaning of that word we so often use is revealed here 
- that word  "grace".

The paralytic did nothing,  
     nothing but allow himself to be carried to Jesus, 
and he was healed.
 
He no more qualified or earned what happened to him by mental or physical
or spiritual feat  than you or I earned our first meal at our mother's
breast.

Indeed we have all been carried in our lives - have we not?
- carried by the love and labour of others to the place we needed to be
- to the one who could help us when we could not help ourselves.

I was in that position two months ago - a position of suddenly realizing
that I needed help,
and yet feeling at the very same time that somehow I shouldn't need help 
     - that my faith - my efforts - should be enough
     - that my legs should be able to carry me onward
     - that I should be able to walk on my own and continue to care for
     others and do my work.

I felt guilty - I felt weak - I felt unworthy - because I felt I needed to
call out for help.  And because of those feelings I almost didn't call out
I almost turned away my helpers, my brothers and sisters.

Do you know that would almost be funny if it wasn't so tragically common.

There are so many among us who need a healing community, a group of faith
filled friends, to carry them for a while - to carry them to the one who
has the power to heal and forgive
     and yet they - even as their legs give out under them - find it
     difficult to ask for help - to allow themselves to let go - to stop
     fighting - to stop striving - to stop trying to run the world - to
     stop guilting themselves out for not being able to do what they have
     always been able to do,
and to be borne to the healer, to the one who speaks the live giving word
of God.

I thank God today - and have for some weeks now - that I have friends, that
I have brothers and sisters, that I have a faith filled community, who gave
me permission to stop trying to walk on my own - to stop trying to cure
myself with the efforts of my own faith, my own strength, my own mind and
soul, and to allow myself to be carried   to let go and to let God as it
were.

Two months later I am much improved.  Some of you have commented over the
last while that I look a lot better (which of course makes me wonder just
what I looked like before).  

But I still fight - and because of who I am I will likely always need to
fight - the tendency to think that I should not get sick - and getting sick
- that I should not have to have help getting better. 

I will need from time to time a word of permission, a reminder, that I am
human, and that humans are fashioned by God to live in community - in
relationship with one another.  In a relationship where they can help one
another bear the load.  In a relationship where they can take one another
to the healer when they can't go on their on.

I need the love of God and the power of God flowing through you
just as you need it too - flowing through me and the person next to you in
the pew today.

I thank God today that when I needed a neighbour you were there
I thank God today that we are pilgrims together on a journey.
I thank God that he has called me - and you - together in Christ
as a people - as a family - as friends who care for one another.

The grace and the healing of God comes from the place where Christ is - it
comes through him.

It is not dependant on the faith of the one needing the healing
nor even, dare I say, is it dependant on the faith of those who help them
to meet the healer (though that faith is so very often crucial to making
the encounter happen).

But rather it is dependant on the will of God - to whom we make our prayers
this day..

Let us make our prayers together before God at this time - and let us
praise God for calling us his own and giving us one another to be
instruments and channels of his peace to one another and to the whole
world.


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!

Oh Loving and Ever living God - we praise you for the power and the grace
that you pour out upon your people and through your people.  While your
Spirit knows no boundaries, your care no borders, you keep your promises
and attend to those who call upon you in faith and in truth.  We thank you
O God that when we are not able - you are.  We thank you God for sending us
helpers, for giving us brothers and sisters,  for making us a part of a
community of care  - a part of your church, your people - so that what we
lack others may make up - and what they lack we may provide according the
riches of your grace....  Praise be to your name....  Lord, hear our prayer
(and in your love answer)

Caring and merciful God, we thank you for the faith of others when our
faith is low, for the love of others when we cannot marshal the strength to
be loving, for the work of others when we cannot work ourselves.  May we be
likewise faithful, loving and diligent for our brothers and sisters and for
the least of those among us.  Help us to remember that we are not alone and
work your will among us and through us all....  Lord, hear our prayer (and
in your love answer)

I pray O God to you in thanksgiving for this people before me - this church
of yours that has been faithful to me - and for the doctors who have worked
with me and for all who have prayed for and carried me in the past few
weeks.   I join with all your people now in praying for others whom you
have placed upon our hearts - some of this congregation - and some from
places well beyond the doors of this sanctuary.  Lord hear our prayers for
one another and for our world.... BIDDING PRAYER....  Lord, hear our prayer
(and in your love answer)

Thank you Father, Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Spirit   Forever and ever. 
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

     Eternal and Holy One - we thank you that you are not a left over
     God - but that you offer the best of yourself to us - that you
     give us your first born - you give us your very self.   Receive
     and bless we pray our tithes and offerings - use them and us to
     do good work in your name and to bring you abundant praise and
     glory.  Amen..


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


* 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,
- serve and love the Lord your God
- and may all of God's blessings - love, peace, joy, strength, truth,
mercy, and kindness be upon you and shine forth from you; 
both now and forevermore.  Amen


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


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



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