READING: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12; Psalm 8; Mark 10:2-16
SERMON : "One With Us: A World Wide Communion Sunday Meditation"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
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: The source of The Superman illustration and the
Waterford Crystal illustration are lost to me. The Eucharistic
Prayer is a modification of the traditional Prayer of Hippolytus,
a variation of which I often use on World Wide Communion Sunday..
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 God calls us to come and dine this day with our brothers and sisters
around the world.
P God's food is good for the body, the mind, and the soul.
It heals and mends, it strengthens and delights,
it warms and caresses and makes what is broken whole.
L God's food brings joy, wisdom, love and peace to all who eat it.
P God calls us to turn aside from our busy ways
and to sit at his table and eat.
L Come then, come and dine
and let God's Spirit minister unto you.
* PRAYER OF APPROACH:
Let us Pray -- Gracious God - we thank you for calling us together today to
worship you as a family. We thank you that we are not alone - that you
have provided for us fellow pilgrims on the way you have set before us.
Fill us with your heavenly food this day, visit us and prepare us by our
worship and in our fellowship for that which lies before us. Help us to
praise you with joy and to pray with conviction and to serve you with all
our hearts. We ask it in Jesus's name. Amen.
* PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L: As we draw near to God this morning and prepare to receive from his
table the bread of heaven and the wine of eternal joy, let us make our
prayer of confession before our Lord.
P Loving God, you are our creator and our maker. You watch over us.
Forgive us God those times we have failed to acknowledge you;
those times we have ignored you or thought that we were alone, the
times when we have acted as if we could do all things by ourselves.
............... (silent prayer) ...............
L: Loving God, you grant to us a family of flesh and blood
and unite us through Christ with a family of the Spirit.
P: Forgive us God for when we have failed to love our family
for when we have rejected those who have greeted us,
or have shut our eyes and ears to their troubles.
Forgive us when we closed ourselves to their songs
and turned away from their celebrations.
............... (silent prayer) ...............
L Loving God, you call us love one another as you love us
and to let your Spirit guide and your word lead us each day.
P: We confess that we do not always open our lives to you and through
you, to one another. We so often act as if we are alone. As if there
was no where to turn. Forgive us God. Heal our broken hearts, unite
our broken families, and mend our broken world.
............... (silent prayer) ...............
L Lord, hear our prayer. Touch us and make us whole. Amen.
* Sung Response (VU 948): O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my
prayer; when I call answer me. O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my
prayer; come and listen to me.
* Assurance of God's Love & Mercy
The scriptures say that "Righteousness from God comes through
faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference
in this among people, for all have sinned and fall short of the
glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the
redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
-- Romans 3:23-24
Having this Assurance, I tell you in the name of Jesus - as you
have confessed and believe, so you have been forgiven. Thanks be
to God for his grace and his mercy. Amen.
* HYMN: "My Faith Looks Up To Thee - VU 664
CHILDREN'S TIME: "The Presence of God"
Theme: God is With Us - Now
Object: Sign - GODISNOWHERE
Good morning.... Today I brought a special sign --- can you tell me what
it says??? Are you sure???
Some people look at this sign - and they say GOD IS NOWHERE
Others look at it and they say GOD IS NOW HERE.
It depends on how you look at things.
Where do you think God is???? (Here, in the church, outside in nature, in
the love that people show - in the places where people are hurting -- and
in the places where people are celebrating.
As Christians - as followers of Jesus - we believe that God is everywhere.
We believe that while God is everywhere - God can also be in special places
- that we can understand God and experience God here in Church on Sunday -
and in our times of prayer -- and - most especially in the breaking of
bread. Today - with Christians all around the world we are going to take
a loaf of bread and a cup of wine -- and as Jesus taught us to do - we are
going to pray over it - and we are going to eat and a drink a portion of it
-- and there we believe, as Jesus said it would be -- we will encounter the
presence of God - and as the food that we eat is good for our bodies - so -
this special eating and drinking that we will do in memory of Jesus - will
nourish our souls.
PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Let us pray - Lord God we thank you for being here - for living
in our hearts - and for being in this church - and for dwelling
with our families. Most specially today we thank you for
being in the bread that we eat - and in the drink that we drink
from this holy table. - Help us to see that you are here. Make
us strong by your love. Amen
And in the words that Jesus taught us, let us sing
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: "Give Me Oil in My Lamp" - SFGP 130
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 HEBREWS 1:1-4, 2:5-12
(NIV) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the
prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last
days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of
all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is
the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his
being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had
provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of
the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the
angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come,
about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone
has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son
of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than
the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put
everything under his feet."
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not
subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject
to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the
angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered
death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for
everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that
God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the
author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the
one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the
same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He
says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence
of the congregation I will sing your praises."
L: This is the word of the Lord.
P: Thanks be to God.
RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 8 (Voices United 732) 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 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK 10:2-16
(NIV) Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it
lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of
divorce and send her away."
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this
law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made
them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his
father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will
become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore
what God has joined together, let man not separate."
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus
about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and
marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she
divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch
them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he
was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to
me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to
such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive
the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and
L This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
* HYMN "He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought" - VU 657
SERMON: "One With Us: A World Wide Communion Sunday Meditation"
Let us Pray - Lord, bless thou the words of my lips and the
meditations of our hearts that they be of profit to us and
acceptable to thee, oh our rock and our redeemer. Speak O Lord
for your Servants listen. Amen
If after listening to the Gospel Reading this morning you are expecting a
sermon about divorce and remarriage today - it is my duty to inform you
that I am not preaching on the Gospel text today - but rather am offering
to you a reflection - a short sermon - or what is often called a homily -
based upon the epistle reading.
Each Year, On this Sunday of the Year,
with many of the rest of the world's Christians
we celebrate Jesus and what he did for us, for all of us
- in every corner of the world.
We celebrate what Jesus did
-and what by the power of Holy Spirit he still does,
we celebrate the Jesus who considered family unity to be important,
we celebrate the Jesus that welcomed little children into his arms,
we celebrate the Jesus that took time to bless everyone,
- no matter who they were and no matter what others thought of them.
Jesus - our saviour and our Lord,
Jesus - the promised one of God,
Jesus, the son of God - and yet a man:
a man like us....
a man who struggled to be faithful to God,
a man who was called to love his neighbours as himself,
a man who was tempted like we are tempted,
a man who suffered as we suffer.
The letter to the Hebrews, which our first reading came from today, speaks
of Jesus in exalted terms - calling him "the radiance of God's glory" and
"the exact representation of God's being", "superior to the angels";
And this is true - our whole faith speaks of it,
But the letter to the Hebrews also reminds us of something else that our
whole faith speaks of - it reminds us that here, on this earth, Jesus was
made like us - that he was made like us a little lower than the angels,
that Jesus was one with us, born of a woman,
born as our brother
to walk as we walk through this life.
Jesus was one with us,
able to sympathize with us,
able to identify with us,
able to rejoice with us,
able to suffer with us,
and, because of what he suffered and suffered in faithfulness,
he is able to intercede for us before God his Father, God our Father.
Jesus, one with us, Jesus our Saviour. Jesus our Brother.
The signs before us today -- the bread and the wine,
they remind us of how he came to be our Saviour,
they remind us of what his love and his faithfulness cost him.
On the night of his betrayal Jesus took bread and broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying,
This is my body, given for you;
and he took the cup and gave it to his disciples, saying,
This is my blood, which is poured out for you.
The next day, out of love for the world, Jesus died.
The scriptures tell us that when Jesus died he assumed the burden of our
sin - that he took upon himself the penalty for sin - doing so that we
might live and be one with him and one another before God our Maker,
before God - our higher power.
Perhaps you recall how in one of the superman movies,
The evil Lex Luther launches a missile which explodes near one of
the California fault zones. The resulting earthquakes create
turmoil over a wide expanse of territory. As Superman flies over
the area, making a visual inspection of the damage, he sees an
accident about to happen. The earthquakes have caused a five
foot section of a railroad track to be twisted out of shape and a
packed passenger train is roaring down towards the destroyed
section of track. Their is no time for the train to stop - even
if the driver sees the ruined track.
Superman, however, has just has enough time to fly down and
stretch his body out to form the missing section of rail, and he
thus saves the lives of the several hundred passengers on the
Jesus performed a similar act of salvation.
He too stretched out his body to save us,
He stretched it out on the cross.
The difference between Jesus and Superman is that Jesus is not some human-
like alien from another planet who performs heroic deeds,
NO -- Jesus is one of us, and one with us.
and he lived and breathed, and laughed and cried
in a real place and at a real time.
And When he was stretched out on the cross
and then raised up to hang beside two other men
he suffered - and he died - just as we suffer - and we die.
Today - do what Jesus did the night he was betrayed,
in his memory we break bread and share a cup,
the bread he called his body broken for us,
the cup he called his blood shed for us.
In the breaking of the bread and the lifting of the cup,
we recall how God loved us so much,
that he came among us and became one with us,
and then suffered and died for us,
so that sin and death might no longer reign over us.
As he shared in our death - so we share in his resurrection,
the resurrection granted to him because of his love and faithfulness.
So often we talk about how WE need to believe in this God of love;
but what we celebrate today reminds us of a different fact,
it reminds us that even when we don't believe in God,
God believes in us.
I am sure most of you have seen Waterford Crystal. It is
beautiful to look at. The only problem is when you drop it, it
shatters into a thousand pieces and no matter how hard you try to
glue the broken pieces back together it never looks as beautiful
as before it was dropped.
Sometimes we get the idea that as human beings we are like leaded
crystal. We are lovely until we make a mistake - and we all make
them. Then life shatters into a thousand pieces and can never be
put back together just right - never put back the way God meant
it to be.
But if we are to compare human life to any object around us, we
are better compared to the children's toy Silly Putty than to
leaded Crystal. Like Silly Putty, we can be pulled apart, rolled
into little balls, flung against the wall, or smashed flat. But
like Silly Putty we can always be scraped back together again,
forgiven, reworked, remoulded, and reshaped into someone that is
even more beautiful than before.
God believes in us,
God believes that we are not beyond help
God loves us,
and God, in Christ, has come, and still comes today,
to forgive us, to scrape us back together again,
and mould us into something even better
than that which we were before.
It is this coming unto us that we celebrate today,
and it is the fact that we can be what God wants us to be,
that we give thanks for.
God has made us his family,
a family that stretches around the world,
a family that is called to love as we have been love,
to forgive as we have been forgiven,
to give as we have been given too.
As we share today in our family meal;
GIVE THANKS to God that we are not alone,
THAT WE HAVE BOTH each other and the Spirit of Christ amongst us,
the Spirit of him who was, who is, and who shall ever be one with us, and
one over us, and one under us, one who truly loves us.
Blessed be God - day by day. Amen
CONFESSION OF FAITH: "THE NEW CREED" (VU 918 or inside front cover)
L Let us proclaim our Faith - following together with the words of the
P We are not alone, we live in God's world.
We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church,
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our Judge and our Hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God
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!
Gracious God, we come to you in prayer, aware that we are not alone - that
you are with us - and that your people, our family, are all around us. We
come before you thankful that even when we do not believe in you - you
believe in us - that you find us worthwhile - so worthwhile that you offer
yourself to us completely - O Lord - your love is a mystery - a mystery
that we are deeply thankful for. Lord, hear our prayer...
Gracious God, we give thanks for all those who have gone before us in
faith, those wise parents, teachers, pastors, and friends who lived the
faith in such a way as to make us want to follow you. Remembrance of them
reminds us that we are here not because of our own efforts, but because of
the grace and the love that you give to us and to others. Help us, we pray
to be as attractive to others and they were to us... Lord hear our
Lord, we thank you for the family we have in you. Today we especially pray
for that family - and for the family to which we were born and to which we
are now attached. We recall before you the challenges and difficulties
that our family faces in this world and ask you to guide and assist us. We
pray for all married couples - give them patience, forbearance, and love
for one another... We pray for all parents, for those who are by
themselves, and for those who are together - give them the insight,
courage, and time they need to love their children well - to delight their
hearts, to give them wisdom and a sense of security. And we pray, O God,
for our children. Help them to see and know how much we love them. May
they know that they are cherished by us and by you... Lord hear our
Finally, at this time, we pray to you O God, that you would bind up any
wounds that we have and ease any pain that we experience; we pray that
you would bring reconciliation between us and anyone in our lives that is
separated from us by a wall of our or their making; and we pray that you
would help us become a people who bear the peace of Christ to all whom we
meet and that you would help us minister your grace to the world.... Lord
hear our prayer...
These things we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
* 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
We thank you God for all your blessings, and most especially the
blessing of your caring presence. We offer to you now these
gifts and the intentions of our hearts. We pray that you will
use them and us in your work. Grant that all that we say and do
may serve to bring your healing and your love
to others. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. 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: "Now The Green Blade Rises" - VU 186
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 him thanks and praise.
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (based on the Prayer of Hippolytus)
L: We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Servant, Jesus Christ,
he whom you sent to save us and redeem us, and be the messenger of
P: He is your Word, inseparable from you,
through whom you made all things
and in whom you take delight.
L: We praise you, O Lord, for how you sent him from heaven into the
Virgin's womb, where he was conceived, and took flesh.
P: Born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin,
he was revealed to us as your Son.
L: We thank you for how, in fulfilment of your will, he stretched out his
hands in suffering to release from suffering those who place their
hope in you.
P: In doing so he won for you a holy people .
L: We recall O God, how of his own free choice Jesus was handed over to
his passion in order to make an end of death and to shatter the chains
of the evil one and to trample underfoot the powers of hell.
P: We thank you for how he gave himself
to lead us into your light,
to establish the boundaries of death
and to manifest the resurrection.
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
L So it is as we gather in praise and thanksgiving at this time, we
remember how on the night before his passion he took bread and gave
you thanks, 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, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
"This is my blood, which will be shed for you. When you do this, you
do it in memory of me."
P Merciful and Compassionate One,
as we have been commanded,
and remembering the death and the resurrection of your Son,
we offer you this bread and this cup,
thankful that you have counted us worthy to serve you.
PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
L Lord God, we entreat you to send your Holy Spirit upon the offering of
your holy Church making it for us, communion in the body and the blood
of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
P Father, gather into one
all who share in these sacred mysteries,
filling them with the Holy Spirit
and confirming their faith in the truth,
that together as one family
we may always praise you and give you glory
through your Servant and our brother,
Christ Jesus our Lord.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS Our table, the table of our Lord, Jesus
Christ, is an open table. All who desire to receive from it may
receive from it. Today we receive Communion by coming forward to one
of the two stations that will be here. We receive by intinction,
which means that you are asked to tear a piece of bread from the loaf
and then dip into the cup. As you take the bread the server will say
"the body of the Lord broken for you" and as you dip the bread into
the cup the server will say "the blood of Christ poured out for you".
A traditional response to these words is "Amen" or "And also for you".
Those who find it difficult to come forward & would like to be served,
please raise your hand so that you may be served.
- "The body of Christ broken for you..."
- "The blood of Christ, shed for you..."
DEPARTING PRAYER (Unison)
P: Gracious God,
we thank you for all that you have done for us
this day and in the days gone by.
Help us to walk into the future
in the confidence of a certain faith,
knowing that in you hearts that are broken are made whole
and those who have fallen asleep are raised from their graves
and that new life comes to all who turn to you day by day.
* DEPARTING HYMN: "Blest Be The Tie That Binds" - VU 602
* 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
* BENEDICTION & THREEFOLD AMEN - VU 971
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name;
- and may God's arms surround you and embrace you,
- may the Spirit bind you together in love
- and Christ our Lord dwell richly within you and hallow your days and your
both now and forevermore. Amen
SUNG BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2003
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.