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Sermon and Liturgy for The Third Sunday of Easter - Year C
Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; John 21:1-19
"Waiting in Galilee"


READING:  Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; John 21:1-19
SERMON :  "Waiting in Galilee"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea03sn 779000

   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.
   
   Note:  St. Andrew's in Golden had in the church yard at one time
   a small corral and open stable with an angel for our "Live 
   Nativity" each Christmas.  It also had three full size crosses 
   raised near the stable for our Easter Sunrise service.  The 
   sermon is based on a series of incidents that occurred following
   Easter one year.  While the particulars are unique to us, with 
   some rewriting once can make the message work within your 
   context.

   
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME & 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    Give thanks to God for new life and new hope.  
P    Wonderful things He has done for us!
L    New life comes to us through the power of the Resurrection!  
     New hope comes because of God's love for us!
P    Wonderful things He has done for us! 
L    Wonderful things God has done - and wonderful things He will yet do!
P    We give thanks to God for new life and hope this day.


* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day" (verse 1)                            - VU 412
     

PRAYER OF INVOCATION 
Gracious God, girded with gladness, we come rejoicing before you.  You are
the God of salvation.  We give you praise.  When we cry for help you hear
us; from out of the pit you rescue us.  You have turned our mourning into
dancing, you have loosed our sackcloths and adorned us with favour.  
Today, O Lord, we raise our voices in faithful thanksgiving, in prayer,
and in song.  We ask that you  would continue to grace us and that al we
say and do in this place, and beyond it, give glory and honour to Your
wondrous name.  AMEN.          


* HYMN:  ""Morning Has Broken"                                     - VU 409


CHILDREN'S TIME: "An Elastic Faith"
Object:   Pens and Elastic Band
Theme     Learning New Ideas and Trying Things Beyond Us Normally Defines
          Christians
Source    Base concept from Wendy Pratt (wendy.pratt@ecunet.org) 1998.

For the children's sermon, I will take in a rubber band, and probably 
some pencils or other items that I can secure with it.  Loose the band
cannot do what it supposed to do, the rubber band is only able to do its
job when it is stretched.  The challenge for each of us is be willing to
stretch-- in understanding of the gospel, in  inclusion in the church, in
reaching out in love, in service to Christ. 


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
     Wonderful God - stretch our understanding of your love - expand
     the size of our hearts - help us embrace your purpose for us -
     grant that we may grow beyond ourselves - and enter the fullness
     of your grace.  We ask it in Jesus' name. - 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: "Simon, Simon, A Fisherman"                                - VU 597


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


ANTHEM


A READING FROM ACTS 9:1-6 (7-20)
     (NIV) Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats
     against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest {2} and
     asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he
     found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he
     might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. {3} As he neared Damascus
     on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. {4}
     He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why
     do you persecute me?" {5} "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am
     Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. {6} "Now get up and go
     into the city, and you will be told what you must do." {7} The men
     travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but
     did not see anyone. {8} Saul got up from the ground, but when he
     opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand
     into Damascus. {9} For three days he was blind, and did not eat or
     drink anything. {10} In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.
     The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he
     answered. {11} The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on
     Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is
     praying. {12} In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and
     place his hands on him to restore his sight." {13} "Lord," Ananias
     answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm
     he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. {14} And he has come here
     with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your
     name." {15} But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen
     instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and
     before the people of Israel. {16} I will show him how much he must
     suffer for my name." {17} Then Ananias went to the house and entered
     it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the
     Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming
     here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the
     Holy Spirit." {18} Immediately, something like scales fell from
     Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, {19}
     and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent
     several days with the disciples in Damascus. {20} At once he began to
     preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 30 (VU page 757 with Sung Refrain)


A READING FROM JOHN 21:1-19
     (NIV)  Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of
     Tiberias. It happened this way: {2} Simon Peter, Thomas (called
     Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and
     two other disciples were together. {3} "I'm going out to fish," Simon
     Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out
     and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. {4} Early
     in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not
     realize that it was Jesus. {5} He called out to them, "Friends,
     haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. {6} He said, "Throw your
     net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they
     did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number
     of fish. {7} Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is
     the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he
     wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and
     jumped into the water. {8} The other disciples followed in the boat,
     towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about
     a hundred yards. {9} When they landed, they saw a fire of burning
     coals there with fish on it, and some bread. {10} Jesus said to them,
     "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." {11} Simon Peter
     climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish,
     153, but even with so many the net was not torn. {12} Jesus said to
     them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him,
     "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. {13} Jesus came, took the
     bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. {14} This
     was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was
     raised from the dead. {15} When they had finished eating, Jesus said
     to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than
     these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said,
     "Feed my lambs." {16} Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you
     truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
     Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." {17} The third time he said to
     him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because
     Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you
     know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my
     sheep. {18} I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed
     yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will
     stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you
     where you do not want to go." {19} Jesus said this to indicate the
     kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,
     "Follow me!"

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

* HYMN:   "Will You Come and Follow Me"                            - VU 567


SERMON: "Waiting in Galilee"

     Loving God, as you opened the tomb and raised Jesus to new life,
     so open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit
     that as your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you
     say to us today, and in confidence go forth to live what you
     show us.  We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

I had something all planned in my mind for today back on Friday,
and then something happened to change that - actually a series of things,
and those things have to do with certain things that have gone on outside, 
     in our stall
     around our crosses
     and in our parking spaces.

Our angel disappeared after Easter Sunday.
A car disappeared from our parking lot last Monday
And on early Friday morning the crosses were vandalized.  
One was removed.  Another was turned upside down.

My immediate reaction was oh no  
what so many feared would happen did happen,
and there was a brief flare up of anger -
- anger about the senselessness of it all
- anger about how our society really is a dismal place at times
- and anger too because the gloom sayers were once again proved right;
and this latter anger probably was the greatest one, because it is hard to
hold onto faith - hard to hold onto a vision of what can be - when there
are folk who constantly predicting failure - and being proved right.

But after a few moments of thinking about the crosses and what had been
done to them, and thinking too about the texts for this Sunday
my reaction completely altered.

And I gave thanks for the timing of this thing that has happened.  For the
coincidence of outer events, by folks who do not love God, and the inner
events that are here to feed the people of God - to stretch their faith,
to wake them up, and to lead them forth.

What we see going on about us is precisely what we are called to address
as an Easter People.

How many of you saw the upside down cross sometime over the last week?

Do you know the message of the upside down cross?
The message behind the words' of Jesus to Peter 
     about how he would stretch out his arms
     and they would be bond,
     and he would die?

Peter - whom we hear about today
Peter - who denied the Lord
Peter - who went back to fishing while waiting in Galilee - for what he
was not sure
Peter  - who was forgiven by Jesus and commissioned in a three fold set of
questions and orders to match his three fold denial - 

Peter went forth as the leader of the new church to the whole world and
finally he died - in Rome - and the story goes when Nero ordered his
crucifixion he protested that he was not good enough to die like the Lord,
so Nero obliged him and turned the cross upside down and hung Peter on it
upside down.

Our teenagers - or older - we do not know   removed the Good Friday cross
of the thief and left the empty Cross of Jesus as a testimony and
unknowingly, on this Sunday, when we come to look at Peter - to look at
the church erected the symbol of how Peter died.  

Isn't that something?

To me it is a reminder of Peter's ultimate faithfulness
the faithfulness we are called to.

It is hard to deal with attacks
To deal with disrespect
To deal with theft and destruction and uncaring
To deal with violence and murder

But that is what we are called to deal with as Christ' followers,
     not by wishing those who do evil might perish in an evil manner
          but by praying that the holy things that they touch to do harm
          to them - might instead touch them and do good for them.

We are not called to destroy or fight with the workers of evil, but
instead to love them - and thereby - with God's help   perhaps convert
them.

Paul was one who was enemy of all that we value.

Annanius as we heard was reluctant to obey the Lord's command to baptise
him.  He knew of Paul and how dangerous he was.  But when he obeyed - well
look what happened: The enemy of Christ's church became her greatest
friend.

Peter and the Other disciples were told by Jesus to go to Galilee and to
wait for Jesus.

Galilee was home
Galilee was the familiar place
Galilee was where Jesus had done 90% of his ministry
Galilee was comfortable

But that was only for a while  
     that was the last place that they encountered Jesus before his
     ascension into heaven.

The call came to Peter - and to the others - to then return to fray; 
to go out and minister to the whole world out of their love for Christ,
trusting in his power to make things work

They were called to do things that exceeded their natural abilities,
to stretch and expand

And so are we.
This Sanctuary is our Galilee
And we wait upon God within it.

But we are called to a mission out there in the world
Amongst the vandals and the thieves,
the tax collectors and sinners
the lost and the lonely

And nothing we do in here has any value at all,
unless we take those steps to go out to our enemies,
to go out to those who do not care
and show them what love is
to show them what care is.
They are the lost sheep 
  and we should be praying for them - seeking them out to love them
not seeking their destruction.

That is the guts of what Easter is all about  
the defeat of death by life
the conquering of hatred with love
the vanquishing of sin by the practice of virtue.

Yes we have been attacked -
but does that mean we attack back
does that mean we curse and condemn
does that mean we run and hide
and do nothing for the fear that what we do will be done in vain?

NO!
It means that we turn in trust to God 
     and ask God to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat
          ask him to show us how to reach out so that we can touch one
          more life for good - and thereby deny the devil one more life
          for ill.

These acts -
     - small children taking angels from a display
     - teenagers stealing automobiles and joy riding
     - and folk who laboured - and friends, it is kind of funny when you
     think about it, they really had to work at   these folk who thought
     to profane our church yard by digging away and pulling at the
     crosses,
each of these acts is a challenge to us to really practice what we say we
believe; a challenge to us to reach out and care   even though we are not
feeling cared for.

Pray for those who touched the holy to profane it -
that the holy might touch them

Pray not simply that we might be safe from vandalism
     and that our property, our dreams, our lives, may not be shattered or
     destroyed by the enemy,
but pray for the enemy,

Pray as I am sure some folk were praying for Saul of Tarsus 
     that God might do something to change him,
Pray that the holy witnesses of our love 
     - of our unwillingness to erect walls and barriers
     - of our desire to reach out to those who would mock God and mock us
may change those young children 
     - so that the angel they have   speaks to them of God's love
     - so that something - a church bulletin - a bible -  in the car might
     catch their eye for Christ
     - so that the cross upon which these vandals laboured might remind
     them of how and why Christ died, of how and why Peter died.

We are called to feed the sheep
to feed the lambs
to care for the flock.

To love our enemies,
and bless those who curse us.

We are not to give up  
- to refuse to decorate our yard - our church - our homes - because
someone might abuse those things
- to refuse to open the doors because someone might get the carpet dirty
- to refuse to spread the table of God - because some might eat unworthily
- to refuse to embrace someone - because they might spit upon us  
- to refuse to care for someone - because not enough other people are
willing to care
- to refuse to help someone - because that person might not really
appreciate it

Rather we called to show our love Jesus 
     by feeding his sheep
to show our love for Christ
     by tending his lambs
to show that we care for our brother and our Lord
     by caring for his flock.

You know that coincidences are such a marvellous part of our faith. 

Yesterday as I was preparing the message this reading for the day, from the AA
Book called 24 Hours A Day presented itself - Charlene shared it with me
and was excited by its message.  A few minutes later it also came to me as
the chosen meditation for the day from a Roman Catholic E-Mail devotional
list that I subscribe to on the Internet.  It goes like this ---

     We can try saying: "God bless her (or him)" of anyone who is in
     disharmony with us.  We can also say it of those who are in
     trouble through their own fault.  We can say it, willing that
     showers of blessings may fall upon them.  We can let God do the
     blessing.  We can leave to God any necessary correction.  We
     need only desire blessing for them.  We can leave God's work to
     God.  We can occupy ourselves with the task that God gives us to
     do.  God's blessing will also break down all our own
     difficulties and build up all our successes.

My friends   do not despair or grow angry, or give up because of what you
see in the world around you, or because of how the world treats you or
your church or your loved ones.  Rather try saying 

     "God bless her or him - bring showers of blessings upon them --
     Do your work O God   and help us to be a part of it   a loving
     part   an undefeated part   a part that loves you and loves your
     people."


PASTORAL PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Lord Jesus - you come to us you confront us about how we are living our
lives -- you come and you challenge us, as you challenged Peter, to answer
the question, "Do you love me?"  Help us dear Lord to answer the question
as did Peter  -- help us to answer it not only with words - but  by how we
care for one another - for how we feed one another -- by how we tend one
another.    Make us disciples who are worthy of that title  - make us a
people who actually follow you -- a people who actually learn from you --
and most of all -- a people who actually do what you want us to do - a
people who feed and tend your sheep - both those within the fold - and
those who are lost beyond its gates...  Lord hear our prayer...

Loving Father - hear our prayers for those who would be enemies to you and
to your church and to the love that we owe our brothers and sisters in
this world.  Bring them, as you brought Paul, to a deep love for your Son
and our Redeemer....  Lord, hear our prayer...

Tender and Merciful Saviour - hear too our prayers at this time for all
who need your healing and redeeming love to touch their lives in a special
way, those we name in our hearts before you and with the words of our
lips... (BIDDING PRAYER)... Lord, hear our prayer...

We praise you, O Lord, for hearing us and calling us to come unto you. 
And we give you thanks for the challenge and for the assurance of our
faith -  the challenge to follow Jesus wherever he may lead, and the
assurance we see in his life and death and resurrection.   We thank you
and we pray to you in his most glorious name.  Amen


* 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
         
     O God - you have poured out upon your people in this place the
     riches of your grace.  Help us to share these riches - bless
     what we offer here today on these plates and within our hearts -
     may it all be worthy of us and of what you have done for us.  We
     ask it in the name of Christ Jesus our brother and our Lord.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "We Have This Ministry"                         - VU 510


* 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 love and care for one another in the name of Christ Jesus
- and may the blessing of God Almighty, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer,
- be with you now and abide in you forevermore.  Amen
  

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


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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