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Sermon and Liturgy For Ordinary 33 - Year B
I Samuel 1:4-20; I Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:11-14,19-25; Mark 13:1-8
"A Day Without Fear"


READING:  I Samuel 1:4-20; I Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:11-14,19-25; Mark 13:1-8
SERMON :  "A Day Without Fear"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or33sm.y-b 580
 
   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.


* CALL TO WORSHIP:  (based on Psalm 16:5-11)
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:   The Lord is my chosen portion. He has given me all I have.
P:   I bless the Lord.  He guides and encourages me.  
     In the darkest night he calls my name and speaks to me.
L:   I keep the Lord before me.  I am always aware of his
     presence. 
     Because he is at my right hand I cannot be moved.
P:   My heart is glad.  My soul rejoices.  I am completely
     secure.  
     God protects me from the power of death.
L:   God shows me the path of life.  In his presence there is
     fullness of joy. 


* INTROIT: Spirit of The Living God (verse 1)                    - SFGP 91


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Let us Pray -- God of wind and fire, of darkness and of light -
speak to us in this hour of worship.  Calm our fears and grant us
the assurance of things hoped for.  Overcome our anxieties and
calm the troubled waters in our lives.  Grant to us a heart of
peace and a tongue of praise and holy hands to raise in prayer to
you.  Grant that we may gain new confidence in your mercy and new
strength to do your will and to shine with your light before
others.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen.


* HYMN: Let Us With A Gladsome Mind                              - Red 28


FIRST READING: I Samuel 1:4-20                                   
   L:This is the word of the Lord.
   P:Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING:  The Song of Hannah (I Samuel 2:1-10)

          Three years after Samuel was born, Hannah
          kept her vow and took him to the House of The
          Lord at Shiloh and there she dedicated him to
          God as a Nazerite.  Hannah then prayed the
          following prayer of joy and vindication.

L:   My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my
     God.  
P:   I laugh at my enemies.  I am full of joy because God has
     helped me.
L:   There is no Holy One like the Lord, there is none like him.
P:   There is no Rock like our God, no one who protects me like
     him.
L:   Stop your loud boasting, silence your proud words.
P:   The Lord is a God of knowledge.  He judges all that people
     do.
L:   The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on
     strength.
P:   Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but
     those who were hungry are now made fat with good food.
L:   The barren one has borne seven children, but she who had
     many children is now without any.
P:   The Lord kills and the Lord brings to life.  He sends people
     to the world of the dead and brings them back again..
L:   The Lord makes some poor and others rich; he humbles some
     and makes others great.
P:   He raises up the poor from the dust.  He lifts the needy
     from the ash heap.
L:   He makes them companions of princes and puts them in places
     of honour. 
P:   The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord; on them he
     has set the world.
L:   He guards the lives of his faithful people, but the wicked
     shall be cut off in darkness.  A person does not triumph
     because of his own strength.
P:   The Lord's enemies will be destroyed; the Most High will
     thunder against them from heaven.
L:   The Lord will judge the whole world.
P:   God will give strength to his king; he will make his chosen
     one victorious.

-- The Gloria Patri Sung --


SECOND READING: Hebrews 10:11-14,19-25
L:   This is the word of the Lord.
P:   Thanks be to God.


FAVOURITE HYMN OR ANTHEM: "SOMETHING THAT IS KNOWN"


GOSPEL READING: Mark 13:1-8
L:   This is the gospel of the Lord.
P:   Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


SERMON: A DAY WITHOUT FEAR

     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.
                                                                 
I don't know about you - but I get scared at times.
At times I feel afraid.

The fear I am talking about is the kind of fear that arises when
a person walks into a crowded room and suddenly it goes silent, 
     - the fear that can overwhelm you when you see two people
     look at you and then begin to whisper to each other, 
          - the fear that arises when someone you love and need
          is angry at you, 
               - the fear that happens when your father
               criticizes you
                    - the fear that clutches at you when you have
                    been told for weeks how your company has to
                    cut staff and suddenly your boss calls you
                    and says he wants to talk to you about your
                    annual performance evaluation.

I don't feel this fear as often as I used to,
but every now and then it reaches out and tries to grab me,
every now and then I am overwhelmed by self-doubt,
every now and then - I wonder if I am good enough,
and fear that I am not.

At such times I stop for a minute and remember that God thinks
that I am good enough.
And that if God thinks I am good enough - it matters not what I
think of myself,
or what my fear is trying to make me think of myself.

And the moment passes.

The reason I mention this today - is because both the Gospel
reading and the Reading from Paul's Letter to the Hebrews speak
about having confidence - about not being alarmed by the signs of
the end of our world - nor being fearful when it appears that we
are about to meet God.

As I thought about these texts during this past week - 
     - as I thought about how Jesus encourages his disciples in
     the gospel to not be alarmed when the temple is destroyed
     and nations rise against nations, and earthquakes and
     famines overwhelm various parts of the world,
          - and about how Paul tells us that because of Christ's
          sacrifice we can enter the Holy of Holies with
          confidence and hope and there meet the living God - the
          God that, at one time, no mortal could look upon and
          live,
I wondered why it was so important for Jesus and for Paul to say
these things.

I wondered why so much stress is laid upon holding fast to our
hope without wavering
and upon encouraging one another when we see the Day of the Lord
approaching.

You see, to a large extent I have lost track of my fear

When I was younger I lived in a house of fear,
     a house of physical and emotional violence
     I knew what it was to cower and cringe
     and what it was to hide my fear so that I would
not be picked on again.
But I moved from that house and I discovered the healing love of
God in people around me.

I knew too one time the fear of failure,
     the fear of criticism,
     the fear of not being good enough.
That fear was a constant companion for many years,
but - except for the occasional time it reaches out to grab me,
     those times I mentioned at the very beginning the sermon,
I have left that fear behind,
I know that God loves me - I have experienced his acceptance from
the hands of others,
and in the depths of my prayer and my meditations.

Nor do I worry about the end of the world,
nor about earthquake, famine or flood or war.
I pray for the coming of a better world 
- for the coming of the kingdom,
and on the simplest level of total and undeserved grace
I know that the trailer is on solid ground,
that forest grows abundantly not a 1000 yards from my door,
that the creek has not flooded over its banks for many years,
and that wars are something that happen when people fail to obey
God.
My duty is to share and to work for peace.
My only fear is that I will forget to do all that I can do
and forget to love as well as I can love.

As for meeting God face to face - while I have a certain desire
to avoid the moment coming soon,
I also have an eagerness for it - a longing for it - that is
based on a long standing assurance that God will treat me
mercifully and justly and a long standing set of experiences that
tell me that God has not yet once judged me as harshly as I judge
myself  or as others judge me.

I have lost track of almost all that I once feared.  
And so I suspect have most of you.

So when Jesus tells his disciples to not be alarmed when they see
the temple thrown down so that not one stone is left standing
upon another - and Paul speaks about how we can enter the inner
sanctuary of God with confidence and hope - the full impact of
those words can easily be lost.

While they are good words, encouraging words,
they are not words that normally startle us or strike us with any
sense of urgency.
     especially those of us who have been in the faith for a long
     time,
          - those of us who have tested and trusted in the claims
          of Jesus for many years,
               - and those of us who have, like me, achieved a
               certain number of years upon the face of this
               earth and have in those years been touched by
               genuine love - by Christ-like love.

But - my friends - if not for ourselves, then for the sake of
others we need to relate strongly to the words of today's
readings from the New Testament.

Fear for the most part may have passed us by,
     we may have outgrown it,
          or we may have become so familiar and so comfortable
          with the good news of God's love and care that fear
          rarely reaches out to grab us,
but for many people fear is a all- pervasive presence:
     - it shapes their behaviour during the daytime and moulds
     the dreams that they have at night.
     - It leads ever greater numbers of teenagers to commit
     suicide,
     - and it cripples the emotional and social lives of millions
     upon millions of adults.

For some there is no such thing as a day without fear,
     and I don't mean the physical fear that overwhelms us with
     Adrenalin when a car swerves towards us on the highway.
          nor do I mean the fear that rises in us when we hear
          that a loved one has cancer - the fear that we will be
          left alone - though that is getting closer to what I
          mean.
NO, 
I mean the fear that life is pointless,
     - the fear that no one will ever love us,
     - the fear that every hand is either set against us - or
totally ignorant of our existence.
     - the fear that our children, our friends, and our lovers
     will never reach the goals we dream of for them,
     - the fear that God does not exist and that if he exists -
we are going straight to hell,
     - the fear that when all is said and done - we will perish
     utterly from the face of this earth and that not one thing
     that we have done or will ever do will make a difference to
     anyone or anything.
and I mean the fear that the World really is ending,
     - that war and earthquake, and flood and famine will destroy
     everything and that in its place there will come nothing -
     nothing for the universe and nothing for me
     - that there will be no new heaven and no new earth for
     myself or my children
     - that all that is good now will cease to be and no good
     will arise in its place.

For the sake of those who feel these fears as a present reality -
as a daily reality, we need to get in touch with the fears we
have overcome and the confidence we have been given.

And we have to share that confidence,
that faith, 
with those around us.

We have to share our confidence and our faith with those
teenagers who believe that when Kurt Cobain died the light went
out of the world - and with the likes of the lonely old woman in
the nursing home who, despite her relatively good health, keeps
on saying that there is nothing to live for.

We have to bring out the treasure that we carry hidden in our
hearts and hold it up before our work-aholic brothers or sisters
- and tell them of the peace that comes from working less and
playing with and loving our neighbours more.

We have to reveal the light that has placed in our lives by God
to those whose whole world is the darkness of fear and inadequacy
- sharing with them the fact that God truly does love us as we
are - and that there are no conditions - no demands - no
qualifications put on that love.

We have to reveal and live out the vision we have received of a
new heaven and a new earth - of a kingdom of justice and truth,
of joy and love, and of peace and plenty to those who fear that
the end of this world is coming....

At one time my friends I could not imagine a day without fear.
Now, because of what God has given me, because of how I have
discovered God's love for me,
 I find it hard to imagine a day that has fear in it.

But for the sake of others -
both you and I are called to imagine the fear that dwells in the
hearts of so many around us,
and to meet together
and encourage one another with the encouragement that we have
received.

We have to speak forth our faith and live out our belief so that
all can hear and see.

Our help is in the name of The One who made heaven and earth,
and in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
He will not suffer your foot to be moved -
He is your keeper, your defence at your right hand,
from every evil he shall keep your soul,
goodness and mercy will follow you all your life,
and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen


HYMN: Unto The Hills Around                                     - Red 129


SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS       
Receive, O God, our gifts at this time, with the gifts of our
brothers and sisters around the world.  Use them for your work of
healing and bringing hope.  Grant that we might be able to serve
you with confidence and share your peace with the joy, the
wisdom, and the gentleness of your Holy Spirit.  We ask it in
Jesus' name.  Amen


PRAYERS AND THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Gracious and merciful Father - we thank you for your
unconditional and totally accepting love - a love that asks us to
do the best we can and embraces us with warmth and encouragement
when we stumble and fall.  Help us O God to announce that love to
those whom we love.  Help us to show that love to all our
brothers and sisters....  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord of Light, source of all that is eternal - be with us, in our
hearts and in our minds, upon our lips and in actions of our
hands, when we see the world around us falling apart.  Help us
remember that you are in charge of all things and that your hand
has brought us safe thus far and then help us to encourage others
for the facing of the hour of trial....  Lord hear our prayer....

Grant O God of mercy and compassion, of strength and of healing -
the tender touch of your inward spirit upon those who fear and
despair this day....  Bless with a vision of joy and peace all
those who experience loneliness and struggle....  Pour out your
energy upon those whose light is fading and shine upon all those
who sit in darkness....  Lord hear our prayer...

Bless we pray, too O God, those in authority over us in
throughout the nations of the earth with a vision of your kingdom
come to this world and show them how to make it real in their
conduct and their governance.  Help us all to build the temple
that is not made with human hands and to worship and obey you -
the giver of life....  Lord hear our prayer...

Hear O God these prayers and all the other prayers we offer to
you in our hearts at this time -- we ask it in the name of the
Lord, our brother and our savour, saying together.......OUR
FATHER...


HYMN: Will You Anchor Hold                                        - Red 191


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 the Lord bless you with his courage and his
faith, may he touch you with his strength and his tenderness, may
he wash you with his mercy and his love, and keep safe in his
presence - both now and forevermore.  Amen


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


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



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