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Sermon and Liturgy For Ordinary 32 - Year B
I Kings 17:8-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
"The Sacrifice That Was Made"


READING:  I Kings 17:8-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44  
SERMON :  "The Sacrifice That Was Made"
 
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or32sm.y-b 578000

   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.
 
   The following service and sermon come from a previous cycle of 
   the Lectionary.  The sermon is focussed on Remembrance Day
   - with a particular emphasis on Scouting.  In some churches in
   Canada on the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day the Boy Scouts have 
   a "church parade".  This is the context of the sermon - Remembrance 
   Day - Boy Scout Church Parade.  Nonetheless many of the comments on 
   the texts are applicable at any time those texts are proclaimed.
   
   Thanks most especially to Dave Jagger, of TELOS, 3 Nov 94, #175 
   (Group: SERMON SWAP (27)) "All For One" for his ideas and words, and 
   to Ann Bemrose Fetter, of ECUNET (UCHUG) Nov 1, 1988 "Who Are These
   Widows" for her seminal ideas about our widowhood and our poverty.


* ENTRANCE & WORDS OF WELCOME


* COLOUR PARTY AND SCOUTING PROCESSIONAL


* CALL TO WORSHIP:  (based on Psalm 33:12-21)
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.
L    Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
P    Blessed are the people whom God has chosen for his own
     inheritance.
L    The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
P    God watches all the inhabitants of the earth.
L    Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,  on
     those who hope in his steadfast love.  
     He will deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in
     times of tribulation.
P    Our soul waits for the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.
L    Rejoice in God and be glad in him.  Trust in his holy name.


* INTROIT: Spirit of The Living God (verse 1)


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Let us Pray -- O Giver of live, breathe into our souls the life
and peace of your Spirit, that we might see our true place in the
universe; as your blessed children.  Give us faith and trust to
respond to you as true disciples of your Son.  Empower us that we
might live as you have called us to live and do as you have
called us to do.  . In Jesus' name we ask it.  Amen.


* HYMN: Arise, Your Light Has Come


FIRST READING: I Kings 17:8-16 
   (NIV)  Then the word of the LORD came to him: {9} "Go at once to Zarephath
   of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply
   you with food." {10} So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town
   gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, 
   "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" {11} 
   As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of
   bread." {12} "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't
   have any bread--only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.
   I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my
   son, that we may eat it--and die." {13} Elijah said to her, "Don't be
   afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of
   bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something
   for yourself and your son. {14} For this is what the LORD, the God of
   Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will
   not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'" {15} She went
   away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah
   and for the woman and her family. {16} For the jar of flour was not used up
   and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD
   spoken by Elijah.

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


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Lest We Forget"
THEME	Remembrance
SOURCE: Self
OBJECT: Remembrance Day Wreath Made by Beavers (with slogan LWF)

Good morning....   Can anyone tell me what is special about
this Sunday and about this coming Friday???  (The Scouts are with
us...  it is Remembrance Day).  Do you know what it is that we
remember on Remembrance Day???  (We remember all those young men
and women who fought for our country in the great world wars)
     
Today I have a story written by a young girl called Jenny
Jones.  Jenny is an elementary school girl in Ontario.  In
it she tells the story of her Grandfather who fought in Europe
during the Second World War....  READ STORY ---

That's the story -  why do you think that Jenny's
grandfather told it to her???   He wanted her to remember the
"price of freedom" because if we forget that price, then we'll
lose it.  When we forget what things cost, we sometimes get
careless.  Many many people died in the last world war so that we
could live in freedom here in Canada, and in  France and in
Holland where Jenny's grandfather's friend Fred is buried.   If
we remember this - then maybe we will not have to fight again -
because we will make sure that evil people are stopped long
before they ever begin to lie and steal and kill others.  

Today and November 11th are special days for remembering. 
That is why the Scouts and Cubs and Beavers are here in uniform. 
That is why the veterans come to church this coming Friday and
then march over to the Cenotaph and lay wreathes

To help us remember the Beavers who are with us made up this
WREATH for us to use here and on November 11th over at the
Cenotaph next door.

What kinds of things do you notice about the wreath???  What is
on it...

     -- Poppies     - to remind us of a place called Flanders
                    Fields where many soldiers from the first
                    World War are buried.  The poppies grow wild
                    there between all the crosses that mark their
                    place. 
     - Evergreen    - Can anyone tell me what is special about
                    evergreen?? (it stays green even in the
                    winter) .  This reminds us that with God -
                    life goes on forever.  Those who have died
                    believing in God go to be with God in heaven. 
     - Circle       - To remind us of God - a circle goes on
                    eternally.  A circle is a perfect shape -
                    like God is perfect.  When we place all our
                    trust in God - as the evergreen and the
                    poppies are placed on this wreath, God will
                    look after us.

I want us all now to take some time to remember all those who
have died to help bring freedom and all those people who have
worked hard and sacrificed their time and their effort to help
make the world a better place to live in.  Maybe you will think
about your own grandfather - or maybe about someone else -
someone like Fred or Jennies grandfather.  I want everyone to be
really quiet - to close their eyes and to think about these
things - for a whole minute -- and then I will lead us all in
prayer.  Close your eyes - and remember....

PRAYER: (beginning with silence, and then repeating after the leader)

     O GOD, WE REMEMBER BEFORE YOU // ALL THOSE WHO LAID
     DOWN THEIR LIVES // FOR FREEDOM AND TRUTH. //  HELP US
     TO BE FAITHFUL AND TRUE // TO THOSE IDEALS FOR WHICH
     THEY FOUGHT AND DIED.  //   MAY WE HONOUR THEIR MEMORY
     // AND SHOW RESPECT TO OUR GOD //  BY OUR SERVICE TO
     OUR COUNTRY //  OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR CHURCH // AND OUR
     FRIENDS AND OUR FAMILY.  // AMEN


* OUR FAMILY HYMN: Let There Be Peace On Earth


SECOND READING: Hebrews 9:24-28
   (NIV)  For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of
   the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's
   presence. {25} Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the
   way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is
   not his own. {26} Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the
   creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of
   the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. {27} Just as man
   is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, {28} so Christ was
   sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a
   second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are
   waiting for him.

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


RESPONSIVE PSALM READING:  Psalm 127


GOSPEL READING: Mark 12:38-44
   (NIV)  As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law.
   They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the
   marketplaces, {39} and have the most important seats in the synagogues and
   the places of honor at banquets. {40} They devour widows' houses and for a
   show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." {41}
   Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched
   the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people
   threw in large amounts. {42} But a poor widow came and put in two very small
   copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. {43} Calling his disciples
   to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into
   the treasury than all the others. {44} They all gave out of their wealth;
   but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

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


FAVOURITE HYMN OR ANTHEM: "WE THANK YOU FATHER"


SERMON: "THE SACRIFICE THAT WAS MADE"

     O Lord,  we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of
     our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of
     my lips and in the meditations of our hearts.  Speak, O
     Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

At first reading, today's gospel passage from Mark seems to have
a lot to do with money.  

Given that the widow puts in money, 
Jesus is sitting watching people put their offerings into the money box,
and then Jesus talks about money, this is obvious.  

There are some good messages about money here.  It is good to give.  
Jesus doesn't condemn the rich who give lots.
And his comments and approval are given toward the poor widow who
gave what she had.

Giving money is good. 
And if we take what Jesus says about the widow seriously,
giving till it hurts is good -- in fact giving till its has gone
way past hurting may even be better.

However, there's more to today's gospel than just money and giving.
You see, I believe that for us to give something, and let's stick
to money here, is not hard.  

Any of us can throw a few coins into a UNICEF box, 
a loony or two towards the RED SHIELD APPEAL,
or a few dollars on the offering plate as it goes around each week, 
and not suffer too badly for it.

Twenty-five cents here; a loony there.  Ten or twenty dollars
another place.  In the bigger picture, it doesn't matter.  It's
not going to kill us.  It may mean one less coffee at break time,
or one less lunch at MacDonald's or even one less supper at New
Sarum or at Manchurian Gardens -  but not much more.  We can each
give.

In fact, I believe that we all like to give. 
That we are good at it.  
     
If someone in the community came forward with a problem;
financial or otherwise; we would respond.  Chores would be done
for them. Donations of goods, clothes, food, shelter, would be found.
 
We did this four years ago in when four families were burned out of 
their apartments, and we have done it recently when offering cash 
and comfort to:  well, you fill in the blank here...
     - perhaps it was a neighbour who was widowed, 
     - a family member who became unemployed, 
     - or a woman who had to leave her home after being battered
     and beaten for a number of years.

We are reasonably good givers. 
In fact most of us are very good givers.

We know that God wants us to give and love and help where we can. 

We know that Jesus calls us to look after our church and the people 
around us.  We know that there are always people who are worse off 
than we  are.   We know all that.  And that places us firmly into 
the story we read today from Mark.

If Jesus was sitting down there watching as we put our envelopes
or our cash onto the offering plate he would see a lot of giving. 
And I don't believe that he would get up and storm out in a huff
because we weren't givers.  However, the question must be asked,
would we be credited in the same class as that widow?  Would we
be worthy of special notice?  As an example of real sacrificial
giving?

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be put in that class.

Even though I give a fixed percentage of my next income, when I
ask myself the question, "Do I give out of my surplus?" the
answer is pretty well, "Yes."  When I look at the "stuff" I own,
and the stuff I keep thinking I need to buy yet, I have to say, 
"Yes, I do tend to give from my surplus."

Yet in today's gospel story, as in today's old testament reading,
we are faced with this widow who gave everything she had.

Widows were right down at the bottom of the social order in Jesus' 
time.  They had no male to defend them, or work to support them.
They were like unclaimed baggage. 

People weren't sure how they fit in, or what to do with them, but
they were sure that widows were not theirs to take care of.  So
widows and poverty went pretty well hand in hand.  Especially in
the rural areas.  To expect a widow to have money to give away,
was totally unrealistic.  It is no surprise that this particular
widow only gave two small copper coins.  Yet, those two coins
were noteworthy to Jesus.

Imagine if you will, that the next time this offering plate comes 
around, you would place on it say $5000.  Or maybe you're feeling 
really extravagant, so you put $10000 on instead.

Where would the money come from?  
What would you not have once the money was gone?  
How would you feed the family this week, this month? 
Would you lose your house or your farm?  

OK maybe that example is pushing it a bit, but what I'm talking
about here isn't just generosity. 
It isn't just giving, or tithing, or donating. 
It's not even about money.  
What I'm talking about here is faith.

The faith to really risk - to really sacrifice - to really give
all that one has to God.
To really give all that one has for what is right and good and
true in the trust that God
somehow, someway, will use that sacrifice and honour it.

Honour it not for the sake of me - the giver,
rather honour it for the sake of the work of God in this world.
     honour it for the sake of the Kingdom.
     for the sake of others in need,
     for the sake of the peace that God promises to the world.

Today, as I speak - I look out upon a number of you who are (or
were)  involved in Scouting,
a number of you who are Beavers, or Cubs, or Scouts,
and who believe in the principles outlined by Lord and Lady Baden
Powell almost 100 years ago.

Aside from the hardness of the pews you look pretty comfortable -
-- And you live pretty comfortably, even as you give your time
and effort and your money in the cause of Scouting.

Some years ago - in Goma - near the border of Rwanda -
three Scouts who were working in Katale Refugee Camp,  were
injured and put in hospital after bandits attacked the camp.

At first it was thought 30 Scouts had been killed while working
there.  Thankfully it was not that bad.

But the story is instructive for us as we near Remembrance Day.

     From the start of the dramatic events in Rwanda, the
     Scout Associations of Burundi, Zaire, Rwanda, and
     Tanzania mobilized their forces to help the
     hundreds of thousands of refugees that fled the
     massacres being carried out there.

     The first action undertaken by the Scouts in the camps
     was to carry out a census of displaced persons.  This
     enormous task, carried out with very few means and with
     no official recognition, enabled many families to find
     relatives, even though they were sometimes in camps
     more than one hundred kilometres apart.

     Then hundreds of Scout volunteers collected and buried
     the bodies of the victims of starvation, exhaustion,
     and cholera.  In twelve days, in appalling conditions,
     conditions that resemble the worst scenes from
     Hiroshima after the Atom Bomb was dropped, the Scouts
     collected and disposed of twenty-six thousand, six
     hundred and thirty-four bodies.

     This in addition to caring for orphaned children,
     distributing food to as many needy persons as they could,
     and attempting, with other volunteers, to dig sanitation
     ditches and provide clean water to the thousands of people
     moving into the region each day.

How do we give in comparison to this?  How much do we sacrifice 
for the work of bringing health and hope to the world? What kind 
of faith do we have?

We read in the Old Testament this morning about another widow,
a widow like the one Jesus saw put her two small coins in the
temple treasury.

Like the widow in the temple,
the widow of Zarephath gave everything she had for God's work,
she gave her son's, and her own, last meal to a foreigner,
to the prophet Elijah - whose God she did not even worship.

She gave everything
As the Scouts working in Zaire and Rwanda are giving everything,
as the veterans of World War II and our nations current peace
keepers gave and are giving everything,
because it was the right thing to do, the loving thing to do.

Think of it for a minute:
     Neither of the two widows in today's scripture readings knew
     for sure what the outcome of their giving would be for
     themselves - they did not know if they would live or die
     because of it.  In fact the widow of Zarephath expected to
     die - one meal earlier than she had planned.

     The same can likely be said about the widow Jesus saw in the
     temple making her free-will offering to God.  Her two small
     copper coins were all that she had.

As for the Scouts in Zaire and Rwanda - well they expected to eat,
but they also expected, as do all the volunteers working in places
like Rwanda, and all the soldiers peace-keeping in Yugoslavia,
and all those who served in Holland and France during the last
war, to be beaten, attacked, shot at, and endure hardships beyond
our wildest nightmares -- and all for the sake of others - all
for the sake of freedom - all for the sake of dignity - all for
the sake of their love for their fellow human beings.

What is our faith like?

We'd like to imagine we are the widow 
 giving all we have 
 even our whole living 
 remembering God to the final hours of our lives. 

But are we like her?

As scouts are we like those who are giving of themselves in
Rwanda and Zaire?
As citizens are we like those who have served our country and
other nations for the sake of freedom?
As people of faith - do we care so much for those around us -
that we actually give up our comfort?
Not to mention our pride,
our ability to be hurt by the thoughtless words of others,
and our desire to be recognized and approved by those around us?

Brothers and sisters - 
We're often uncertain of our calling,  what it means. 
We don't know if or how our experiences can be put to use in "The Church".
We don't know if we are really able to serve God.
We often feel inadequate when we look at ourselves in comparison to others,
especially if those others are characters from the bible...

Aside from our ready cash, and our desire to care for others,
many of us we come with nothing evident to offer. 
 
We bring    fear        vulnerability 
            ignorance   neediness 
            confusion   embarrassment 
            loneliness  and a profound lack of time and energy
  
We bring our poverty.
And that is OK!

In times when we feel this way,
In times when we don't know what to do,
or we know what to do,
but feel that there is no way we can do it,
remember,
remember and trust in God by offering what you have:

Remember the Scouts who, at the risk of their very lives, do a
good turn each day in places like Rwanda
and recall that you have neighbours who need comfort and support,
that there desperate needs to be fulfilled in our own backyard,
needs which your real sacrifice of money and of time, and of love
can go along way to meeting.

Remember those who served in the last war to win our freedom and
those who still serve, and become involved it the fate our country 
by doing suc simple things as voting and helping others to obtain 
justice from their village councils and provincial commissions by
making phone calls and writing letters..

Remember the widow of Zarephath who gave her last meal and the
Widow who gave her last coins, and trust - as did they 
- and as did Jesus - when he gave us life for us on the cross.  AMEN. 
  

* HYMN: Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace                   - SFGP 2 


SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS       
Loving God, because we believe you work through ordinary lives,
we re-dedicate ourselves to you with this offering, that we like
it, may be used according to your good purposes.  In the serving
of our sisters and brothers may we be living expressions of the
Good News you offer to the world.  We ask it in the name of
Jesus.  Amen


SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING TIME


PRAYERS AND THE LORD'S PRAYER.     (each petition will end with 
                                   the word's "Lord God of Hosts,
                                   be with us yet."  The response
                                   will be "Lest we forget, lest
                                   we forget.")

Loving and Forgiving God - Lord of Hosts, Giver of Peace - we
thank you today for watching over us and being so mindful of our
needs that you gave your only Son, Jesus, that we might be made
whole.  We thank you for the sacrifice that he made on our behalf
and for what was accomplished by it.  We pray that we might never
take the cross upon which he died for granted, nor make light in
our thoughts the crushing burden he bore.  LORD GOD OF HOSTS, BE
WITH US YET --- LEST WE FORGET, LEST WE FORGET.

Loving and Caring God, we thank you today not only for Jesus, for
all those who have given their lives for us, those who have paid
the price for the freedom we enjoy.  Help us not forget the pain
and the anguish that they experienced on our behalf as they
struggled to make a better world for all humankind... LORD GOD OF
HOSTS, BE WITH US YET --- LEST WE FORGET, LEST WE FORGET.

Grant to us O God, a generous spirit like that of the Scouts who
are serving in Rwanda and Zaire.  Bring to our minds and hearts
their example and the example of Jesus - who though he was rich,
yet became poor for our sakes and humbled himself, acting as our
servant, even to washing our feet.  Make us like the widow of
Zarephath and the widow at the temple and remind us how we, like
they, can give from our poverty as well as from our surplus. 
Remind us of how we, like they, can do your will and honour your
name...  LORD GOD OF HOSTS, BE WITH US YET.... LEST WE FORGET,
LEST WE FORGET.

Lord God - hear all the cries of our hearts this day -- 
     we hold before our country - that it may prosper and that
its rulers may govern justly...
     we remember all those who suffer today for the cause of
freedom and truth...
     we claim your strength and your mercy for all who are
victims of oppression and injustice...
     we ask your healing for those afflicted in body, mind or
spirit....
     especially we remember before you ---

Help us this day, O God, to give, even from our poverty, so that
our world may see your light.  We ask it in Jesus' name, saying
together the prayer he taught us -- OUR FATHER...


* HYMN: For The Healing of The Nations                    - SFGP 23


* 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 & THREE-FOLD AMEN
Go in peace, and may the grace and love of Christ attend you, the
love and the strength of God surround you, and the wisdom and the
gentleness of the Spirit fill you and equip you for every good
work, both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"                      - SFGP 67


* COLOUR PARTY AND SCOUTING RECESSIONAL


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1997 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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