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Sermon and Liturgy For Ordinary 26 - Year B
Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 124; Mark 9:38-50
"Working Together"


READING:  Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 124; and Mark 9:38-50
SERMON :  "Working Together"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or26smsn 571745

   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:
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.


* INTROIT:  "What Does The Lord Require Of You"                    - VU 701


* PRAYER OF APPROACH 
Let us Pray -- Gracious God - we thank you for the love you have bestowed
upon us all through this past week - for the love that has brought us to
this time of worship.  We pray that you would bless us with your most Holy
Presence this day and build in us an ever stronger faith.  Meet us here,
amid our doubts and questions, that we may know we are heard and
understood.  Grant that as we pray and  sing your praises that we may be
built up in Christ Jesus and made more able to serve you and please you in
all that we think, say, and do.  We ask it in his name.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "O Worship The King"                                      - VU 235
                                                       

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Joys and Concerns


ST ANDREW'S THIS WEEK


CHILDREN'S HYMN: "This Little Light of Mine" (GATHER CHILDREN)
Today, we begin our year in a new way - with the singing of a song.  For
the next few weeks we will start this time of the service with the same
hymn - "This Little Light of Mine"

     This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. (3x)     
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

     Hide it under a bushel, No!   I'm gonna let it shine.(3x)
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

     Don't let anyone whff (blow) it out, I'm gonna let shine. (3x)
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

     Let it shine in my hometown.  I'm gonna let it shine (3x)
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
     
     See the light spreading round the world.  See all the faces shine.(3x)
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

- Note verse 1 Hold right forefinger up to represent light
- Note verse 2 Hold let hand, palm down, as cover over right forefinger,
               when you shout "No!" extend both hands and shake head
               vigorously.
- Note verse 3 For "whff" blow at the top of right forefinger, but say
               words "it out"
- Note verse 4 As verse one
- Note verse 5 Both left and right forefingers up, arms spread wide and
               upward.  Smile!


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Who Belongs"
Theme     Belonging and Doing
Object    Various membership pins and badges
Source    Based on Harold J. Uhl - The Gospel For Children - Object
          Messages From Mark, Augsburg Press, 1975

Good morning.... Who here belongs to a Club or a Special Team???  What kind
of Club or Team is it???

I belong to several teams as well - as does my wife Charlene.  Do you see
these pins???  They tell you the kind of clubs or teams I am involved with. 
Lets see... this is the one that says I am an Oddfellow - this one says I
attend the United Church - this one over here comes from Avon and indicates
that my wife supports Cancer Research -- this one says she belongs to the
UCW - and this one over here says that she is a graduate nurse and able to
help sick people.  (CHECK OUT OTHER PINS PEOPLE ARE WEARING)

Some boys and girls form their own special clubs that require secret knocks
and passwords to get into.  IT is fun to belong to something - to know that
you are in with others - and that you can do good things with them.  Do you
have any secret signs or special things that you do in your clubs or
teams???? 

Once a long time ago the disciples belonged to what they thought was a very
special club.  And they did.  It was a very special group that followed
Jesus.  They felt very good about being part of Jesus's team.  In Jesus'
name they healed sick people and taught them about the Kingdom of God.  One
day the disciples got upset because some other people who weren't part of
their team, their special group, were going around doing good things in
Jesus's name as well.  They told Jesus about it because they didn't think
it was right that people who weren't on their team should use Jesus' name.

How would you feel if someone you didn't know did some nice things in your
name??  Would you be angry??

The disciples thought Jesus would be angry - but he wasn't.  Instead he
said - "it doesn't matter to me if  those people are a part of your group
or not.  All that matter is that they are doing the things that God wants. 
They are a part of God's family - just like you.   God's team, God's
family, doesn't have any secret knocks or passwords.  God's special club
includes everyone who does what God wants - whether they are a nurse, or an
Oddfellow or a member of the United Church, or someone else entirely.  All
those who do God's will are a part of God's family - and that means they
are a part of our family - even if we don't know them.

     Let us pray:   Lord God - we thank you for making us - a part of
     your family - help us open our hearts - to all the other parts -
     of your wonderful family - to those we don't know - to those who
     do things differently - to those who live in far off places -
     help us all to work together - and by ourselves - to do what
     Jesus asks us - we ask it in his name   Amen


THE LORD'S PRAYER   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


FAVOURITE HYMN:   "We Are Pilgrims"                                - VU 595


A READING FROM NUMBERS 11:24-30 
     (NIV)  So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said.
     He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around
     the Tent. {25} Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with
     him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on
     the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied,
     but they did not do so again. {26} However, two men, whose names were
     Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the
     elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on
     them, and they prophesied in the camp. {27} A young man ran and told
     Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." {28} Joshua son
     of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said,
     "Moses, my lord, stop them!" {29} But Moses replied, "Are you jealous
     for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that
     the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" {30} Then Moses and the elders
     of Israel returned to the camp.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 124 (VU page 848 & Sung Response 


A READING FROM MARK 9:38-50
     (NIV)  "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your
     name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." {39} "Do
     not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can
     in the next moment say anything bad about me, {40} for whoever is not
     against us is for us. {41} I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you
     a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly
     not lose his reward. {42} "And if anyone causes one of these little
     ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown
     into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. {43} If your
     hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life
     maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes
     out. {44}  {45} And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is
     better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be
     thrown into hell. {46}  {47} And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck
     it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye
     than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, {48} where "'their worm
     does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' {49} Everyone will be
     salted with fire. {50} "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness,
     how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at
     peace with each other."

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


* HYMN:  "Open My Eyes That I May See"                             - VU 371


SERMON:  "Working Together"

     Let us Pray - O God, light of the minds that know you, life of
     the souls that love you, and strength of the hearts that seek you
     - bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. 
     We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen

It might be good to have your bulletin stuck in your bible at one of
today's readings and have the bible open to the other because I am going to
refer directly to some of the verses we found there - and do a lit
adlibbing as it were on those verses.

But let me start by asking you here today - how many of you like things to
be orderly?  To have everything well defined?  To have all the loose ends
wrapped up???   Come on - fess up, and put up your hands - who likes things
to be under control, to be well organized? to be predictable?

There is nothing out of the ordinary in this, it is a part of human nature.
You can see it very clearly wherever people go.

People, for example almost always take the same seat at school or at
church, or they start dinner by always eating what they like first and
leaving the rest for later or perhaps vice-versa.

If someone changes things on us - 
     if they take our seat for example, 
     or tell us that we should eat our peas first and our meat second, 
we become upset.

Most of us really believe in the saying -  
"there is a place for everything and everything in its place".

We believe in it because we know that if things get out of order - if we
can't predict where the bedroom chair is, or where someone has left their
shoes, or where the cups and saucers are, then we are likely to stub our
toes in the dark of night, or spend endless minutes searching for what we
need while the kettle boils dry.

It is a helpful trait - this trait of orderliness, of habit, of custom, of
predictability, so helpful in fact that none us really likes being taken by
surprise  - except of course on  birthdays and other special occasions -
and even then we kind of expect, or hope, that a particular kind of
surprise is coming: some gift, or party, or thing that will please us and
show us that we are loved.

The human desire for orderliness and predictability is a good thing,
     because of it our science and technology, our agriculture and our
     medicine is made possible.
Yet sometimes this trait, this part of human nature, gets in our way.

It is this fact that lies behind today's Old Testament Reading and today's
gospel reading.

As we heard, in verse 24 Moses gathered 70 leaders of the Israelite
community together one day so that they might assist him in bearing
responsibility for watching over and caring for the people of God.  He
calls them to go out with him to the Tent of the Ark of the Covenant which
was placed outside of the rest of the camp, and to receive there from God
the same gift of the Holy Spirit that he had.

And so they do.  Just as planned.  While there each one of them is filled
with the Spirit of God and each one prophecies, each one speaks for God the
words of God, words meant for the health and well being of the Israelite
family.

But there is a catch.

It turns out that two of the seventy leaders did not go out to the Tent of
the Ark of The Covenant.

Instead, for some unknown reason, 
they stayed in the camp with the rest of the people 
and it is there that the Spirit descends upon them, 
and it is there that they prophecy, 
and it is there that they are caught by a young man.  

They are caught by him breaking the rules and regulations set down by
Moses, they are caught doing things out of turn, improperly, and without
due authorization, and the young man runs out to the tent of the Ark of the
Covenant and he reports all that he has seen to Moses.

Joshua, who is with Moses, 
Joshua, who is the chosen successor to Moses,
hears the young man's report at the same time Moses does,
and like John the Apostle in today's gospel reading,
he attempts to put an end to the irregularity.

In verse 28 we hear him say to Moses:

     "My Lord Moses, Stop Them!  --- Stop them from disobeying you. 
     Stop them from doing things in the way they are not supposed to
     do them.  Stop them from defiling the Spirit of God."

My Lord, Stop Them...

How many people have we tried to stop?

How many people have we stifled because they are not doing things the way
we think they should be done?  Because they are not precisely following the
plan that we expect them to follow?

It is a serious question.

It is a serious question because I would guess the most damaging thing that
anyone of us does in the course of an average week, whether it be at lodge
or in a church committee, at work, or in our homes, is our attempt to
ensure that everyone works at their job in the way that we believe they
should.

Just as we want the shoes left at the door,
and the bedroom chairs set carefully in the corners,
and the cups and saucers put in the left-hand cupboard,
so  we want - and expect - that those who are doing the same kind of work
we are doing to be known to us, and to do it in the same way as us, in the
way that we sincerely believe that God wants us - and everyone else - to do
it.

And that can be a major problem.
Our good and natural desire for order and predictability,
our sense of what is proper and right,
can lead us into all manner of serious problems.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I was in a small rural church one time that had a major dispute about where
the pies should be placed in the kitchen prior to serving them for the
annual turkey supper - which by the way was truly an excellent Maritime
Meal.

One woman actually left the church community because several new comers to
the church had convinced the rest of the women working in the kitchen that
it would be more efficient to put the pies on the counter beside the sink
instead of the counter next to the refrigerator.

     "It's not the right way to do it", she said.  "We've never done
     it that way before, and I am not going to be part of doing it
     that way now.  I won't have any part of that kind of thing. 
     Those new people are going to ruin this church.  They don't know
     anything.  They aren't even from around here."

Sound familiar to anyone?  
Ever wonder what that kind of attitude does to a community?  
Or to a church? 
Or even to our own sons and daughters 
- who somehow can't quite do things just like the old man does.... 

The apostle John came up to Jesus one day.  In verse 38 of today's gospel
reading we hear  him say:

     Jesus, I was walking down the road with the rest of the disciples, 
     and we saw someone casting out demons in your name,
     and we tried to stop him,
     we tried to stop him because we don't know who he is,
     we tried to stop him because he doesn't follow us.

It's like an echo isn't it - these two passages we are looking at today.

     Jesus  - We tried to stop him!...
     My Lord Moses, stop them!

What was John missing?
What was Joshua missing?
What was my lady in the kitchen serving pies missing?
What are we missing?

What are we missing when new people come into our church or our lodge or
club or our small group- and then leave it just as quickly as they came?
          
What are we missing when members of our own family tell us that we are
driving them away?  And when strangers tell us that they do not feel
welcome in our midst?

Is the sound of grumbling heard too often in our tents?  Are the
expectations we place upon others to do things just so - just a little bit
too much?

     But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Do you
     think I really care if Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the
     camp instead of here?  Would that all the Lord's people were
     prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit in them.  Would
     that they would prophesy in the camp, and speak God's word in the
     tabernacle, and communicate the will of the Lord to one another
     while walking through the desert and when they are eating and
     when they are playing.

It is good to have order.
It is good to do things in certain ways.
Having customs and traditions and rules and regulations makes sense to me.

They make sense that is until they get in the way of embracing other people
- until they become instruments of judgement instead of instruments of
grace, until they become things that blind us to what God is doing in our
midst instead of helping us to see.  And then they have to prioritized -
according to the simple law of the Spirit - the law of love - the law that
embraces all our relations - the law that the Apostle Paul tells us in the
Letter to Romans gives life.. 

     But Jesus said to John, "Do not stop him!  Do not prevent him
     from doing good in my name simply because he is not following you
     and the other disciples.  He is on my side.  For no-one who does
     a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak
     evil of me.  Whoever is not against us is for us.  Truly, I tell
     you, whoever give you a cup of water to drink because you bear my
     name will by no means lose the reward."

Whoever is not against us is for us.

Sometimes my friends when we try to work together, we end up working apart.
We rip and we tear at each other because others aren't serving God in the
way we want them to, because they aren't doing those things we are doing
those things we think need doing and doing in a particular way. 

To paraphrase Moses, We are jealous for our Lord, 
instead of allowing our Lord to be jealous for himself.

And sometimes when we work apart, 
whether this be by accident or by design, 
we are really working together. 

The lodges and the service clubs, the cancer societies and the food bank
volunteers, are all in one way or another, about the work of God.  They
each do it differently - but they each do it because they want to make a
difference, because they want the human family to prosper and to be whole.

And even within the lodges, even within the church,
where people do things differently than we expect or hope,
- or do different things than those things we want them to
they still do it because they care and they believe,
     and they still hope that it will make a difference and that God's work
     will be done, 
as do in fact we.

No matter how different we may seem to be to one another, if we are really
using the name of God, the name of Jesus, in our work of helping and
healing, we are working together .

Blessed are we when we understand this.
And blessed is the world in which we work, and for whom we work.

The world needs us to work together - even if we work at different things
or work in different ways for the same goal.

It needs the hope we offer, the food we share, the relationship with God
that we have entered into.

The world needs the message we bear about our common brother and
sisterhood, the word we have about our unity in the family of God, and
about how God loves us and wants to help us be whole.

The world needs us.

It needs to see that we are - in fact - all related and that our
relationship is one of peace - of shalom - of God's righteousness and God's
love.

We are dedicated by our vows of faith and our pledges of loyalty
     to being loving and caring members of God's family.
We are set apart by our faith - we are made holy in other words -
     so that our presence in the larger world and in the intimacy of our
     families is a life giving presence.     

As Christians we have committed ourselves to doing the work God calls us to
do and to seeing others in the way that God sees us, and judging others in
the way that God judges us.

We can only really keep our vows and pledges,
we can only be true to our commitment,
we can only fill the world's need for us
if we embrace one another and celebrate our common bound in God,
the bound that was signed and sealed upon the cross of Christ.
upon the cross of the one who said before he died, for us:

     A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have
     loved you.

Greet your relations today -
those in the pews ahead of you and behind you.

And greet your neighbours in the same way - and with the same signs of
peace, the peace that truly only comes through the faith in the one who
said: 'They who are not against us are for us'.

Praise be to the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, 
now and forevermore.  Amen.


THE PASTORAL PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
O God, our rock and our redeemer, we rejoice in your mercy and compassion. 
You have given us clear commandments that enlighten our eyes.  You entrust
to us decrees that grant us wisdom.  You revive our souls with your perfect
law.  When we live in communion with you, your truth becomes a part of us. 
How we long to fulfill your expectations of us!  Give us, we pray, a faith
that has some size to it.  Keep pushing us beyond the boundaries that we
build and the walls that we erect.   Continue to surprise us with the width
of your grace.  Peak our curiosity for the many ways you are moving in the
world, ways which are not limited to the confines of what we deem
acceptable, permissible, or even possible...  Lord hear our prayer
 
Lord God - Father and Mother, Maker and Sustainer of us all - we pray today
for all those who work in your name, those far off and those who are near
at hand.  We ask you to bless those who work for your glory in ways that
are different than our ways of working for you - and we ask you to bless
those things that we do.  Increase your church, O God, not for it's own
sake - but for the sake of those in need of our ministry -- the ministry
that you do through those who truly believe in you and listen to you and
trust in you.  Make us - make this congregation - and every person in it -
a beacon of your saving light....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord, we lift up before you today those who were named at the beginning of
our time together, we hold before those who are suffering in body, mind, or
spirit... We pray for our sisters and brothers who are broken, alienated,
or distressed in any way -and we rejoice with those who are celebrating
good news this day, we rejoice and give thanks to you.  WE remember now
especially (BIDDING PRAYER)....  Lord, hear our prayer....

We ask all these things, O God, in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord.  AMEN


MINUTE FOR MISSION


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  The Offering Is Received and as it is presented
all stand for The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU
#541) and the Prayer of Dedication

     All that we give is first a gift from you, O God.  It is a joy to
     invest in the mission of the church, both as a gathered community
     in this place and as a scattered people who day by day offer a
     cup of cold water in Christ's name to people who are thirsty. May
     our offering of this treasure, and of our time and our talent
     bring you the glory and honour that you so richly deserve from
     us.  Amen 


* DEPARTING HYMN: "How Sweet The Name of Jesus Sounds"             - VU 344


* 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 & THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name,
And may God richly bless each and everyone of you.  
- May the love of our Creator fill all your hearts with compassion and with
truth, 
- May the Spirit make all your labours fruitful,
- and may Christ Jesus our brother and our redeemer shine his light upon
your path 
both now and forevermore.  Amen


SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                                  - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000, 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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