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Sermon and Liturgy for The Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C
Mother's Day / Christian Family Sunday
Ephesians 5:25-33; Psalm 148; John 13:31-35
"By This They Will Know"


READING:  Ephesians 5:25-33; Psalm 148; John 13:31-35
SERMON :  "By This They Will Know"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea05sm.y-c 612

  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: Thanks to King Duncan, "How Can You Tell A Christian"
   in Dynamic Preaching, May 15 1995; for some of the illustrations
   and wording in the following sermon.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* CALL TO WORSHIP:  (based on Psalm 148)
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    Praise the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights! 
     Praise him all his angels; praise him all his host!
P    Praise him sun and moon; praise him all you shining stars! 
     Praise him you highest heavens, and you waters above the
     heavens!
L    Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and
     they were created.  By his word they came into being.
P    He established them forever and ever.  He fixed their bounds,
     which cannot be passed.
L    Let everything and everyone praise the name of the Lord, for
     his name alone is exalted; his glory alone is above earth and
     heaven.


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

* PRAYER OF INVOCATION


* HYMN:  "Come In, Come In And Sit Down"                     - VU 395


CHILDREN'S TIME: "A Mother's Love"     
Object   Page of Rules Poster
Theme    Favourite Story - Shows the Love of Mother
Source   Self and Poster (taken from "Everything I Always
          Wanted To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert F.)

Good morning -- I brought along something that really reminds me
of my mother -- it is a list of rules.   In my house when I was
growing up my mother made up most of the rules -- how about in
your house...???  What kind of rules did you mother have...???

These rules are the kind of rules my Mother made: 

1.   If you open it -- close it
2.   If you turn it on -- turn it off.
3.   If you unlock it -- lock it.
4.   If you move it -- put it back.
5.   If it belongs to someone else and you want it -- get
     permission.
6.   If you borrow it -- return it.
7.   If you don't know how to operate it -- leave it alone.
8.   If you use it -- take care of it.
9.   If you break it -- repair it.
10.  If you can't fix it -- call someone who can.
11.  If you mess it up -- clean it up.
12.  If it will brighten someone's day -- say it.

Does anyone know why mother's and father's make rules for us
anyway -- why do you think...???

So we will grow up to be the best kind of people we can be -- so
we will be safe and loving.  God is like our mother too - God
loves us - and wants the best for us.  That is why God has given
us rules   so that we might be the best people we might be.


PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
     Lord God - Father and Mother of us all - We thank you 
     for all you do - for how you guide us each day - and 
     show us what to do. - We ask that you would bless our
     mothers - and all who care for us in your name. -  Give
     them joy each day - and wisdom to help us - that 
     together we might walk - in the path of Christ.  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

	 
CHILDREN'S HYMN:  "Now Thank We All Our God"                 - VU 236


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


ST. ANDREW'S THIS WEEK


ANTHEM


A READING FROM EPHESIANS 5:25-33
L:   This is the word of the Lord.
P:   Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 148 (Voices United 870 and Sung Refrain)
   

GOSPEL READING: John 13:31-35
L:   This is the gospel of the Lord.
P:   Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


HYMN: "For The Beauty of The Earth"                          - VU 226


SERMON:  "By This They Will Know..."

"Johnny," said a teacher to one of her young pupils, "do you
think you could explain to the class the difference between
'like' and 'love'?  "Well," said Johnny, "I like my parents . . .
but I love Milk Duds." 

Today is Mother's Day.  
It is a day when we show our mothers that they are at least as
important to us as Milk Duds. 
     
I must tell you, though, that one Mom had a most revealing
experience one Mother's Day.  

     Her two children ordered her to stay in bed.  She lay
     there looking forward to being brought her breakfast,
     as the inviting smell of bacon floated up from the
     kitchen.  At last the children called her downstairs. 
     She found them sitting at the table, each with a large
     plate of bacon and eggs.  "As a Mother's Day surprise,"
     one explained, "We've cooked our own breakfast."

That says bundles, doesn't it?  Who in this world does more for
us than our Mom?  And who is taken for granted more than our Mom? 
It is only right that we devote a day each year in honour of
those women who have devoted their lives to their family, to
their church and most importantly to their children. 

Would that it was more than a day...

Our gospel text today could easily be about being a good mother,
but actually it is aimed at the whole Christian family.  Jesus is
looking to the cross.  There he will glorify God by his perfect
obedience to God's plan. Now he is calling his disciples to
perfect obedience as well.  What is this perfect obedience to
which he calls them? 

     "A new commandment I give to you," says Jesus, "that
     you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you
     also should love one another.  By this all people will
     know that you are my disciples, if you have love for
     one another." 

I would like to make three points about this passage today --

FIRST OF ALL I would have like you to notice that love is not an
option for followers of Jesus.  Jesus says, "A new commandment I
give to you ..."  Not a suggestion, not a recommendation.  A
commandment!

Why is it a commandment?  It is a commandment because there is a
part of every one of us that rebels against the idea of pure,
unconditional love.   

Despite the example that almost everyone of us received in the
form of our Mother's love for us - there is a part of us that
says such love is out of place in the world in which WE live. 
There is a part of us that says -  sure, love is great - up to a
point....

A man this last week described his father to me this way -- he
told me that his father was a kind man - a generous man - a man
who would do anything for his friends - but who could be exactly
the opposite way if he didn't like you...

I thought that this description of this man was very sad - and
after hearing it, I was upset.  I was upset for the son's sake -
because I could tell that he knew that something wasn't quite
right with his father - and I was upset for the father's sake -
because he was already into his 70's and he hadn't yet learned
what love is - I was upset for him - and lastly  I was upset for
all the people whose lives he had failed to touch for God - for
all the people who learned from him that they didn't matter -
that they were unimportant.

I tell you about this man today because he is a perfect example
of why Jesus commanded us to love one another - because without
the command - and the particular nature of the command - that we
love one another just as Jesus has loved us - many of us might
end up thinking that it is enough - that it is good enough - to
love your friends and your family and to hate, or despise, or
simply ignore, everyone else.

It is not.

We are called to love others in the way the Christ loves us -
We are called to love our brothers and sisters in the way that
     mothers love their children -
We are called to love without condition - to care for - and to
pray for others 
     - regardless of their attitude towards us
     - regardless of what they may or may not deserve
     - regardless of whether or not they are related to us by
     blood, or by ties of affection and common interest.

If I was asked today to explain the difference between liking and
loving -  I would say it lies in attitude.

Attitude is what makes liking and loving different from one
another.

The attitude of obedience - and the attitude of gratitude -
     - obedience to Christ's commandment to love like he loves,
     to love even the sinners,  
     - and gratitude that we have the opportunity to love others
     in the same way that Christ loves us - that he has given us
     the opportunity to love others without condition or
     qualification.

Jesus commands us - he orders us - to love one another - just as
he loves us.

THE SECOND THING I want lift up from today's gospel text is this: 
Our ability to love is derived from our relationship with Christ. 
"We love because he first loved us", says the Apostle John.   We
are able to love because he loves us.

Understanding this is critical to our ability to live out the
Christian life of love.   It is critical to our ability to keep
the only commandment that Jesus in fact gave to us.

My friends, love does not happen in a vacuum.  
Love is something that is passed from one person to another. 
This is one reason Christian parents and particularly Christian
     mothers are so important. 
A child who does not receive love, psychologists tell us, will
     not be able to give love. 
There will always be a void there--a terrible void that can never
     be filled. 
On the other hand, a child who has received the proper amount of
     nurturing as an infant and as a toddler will have a sense of
	 security and trust that will last them all their lives.  

This is also true with regard to Christ's commandment to love. 

If you try to keep Christ's commandment without first nurturing
your relationship with him you are doomed to fail. 

We draw our ability to love others in the way that Christ loves
us from our connection to God.  We get it from the love that
Christ is able to pour out upon us when we are in relationship
with him.  Without that connection - without that love - our
faith is simply an exercise in noble living.   It has no real
power to draw us out of ourselves and to centre us in others.

     "A new commandment I give to you," said Jesus, "that
     you love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also
     should love one another.  By this will all people will
     know that you are my disciples, if you love one
     another."

We can keep the commandment to love one another as Christ loves
us - only insofar as we open ourselves to Christ and allow his
love to enter our lives -- and to empower our lives.  

We open our lives to Christ when we pray to him - when we immerse
ourselves in his word - and when we gather together with others
who believe to worship him and to fellowship and to work together
for him in the world.

THE THIRD THING I would like to note about today's Gospel text is
that love is the Christian's primary witness to the world.   Our
husbands, our wives, our children, and our neighbours will know
we are Christ's followers if we have love for them and for
everyone we meet.

I speak now to the men who are here today, specifically to the
married men....

We are told by Christ - like all other disciples  - to love
others just as he has loved us - but we are also even more
specifically told by God that we are to love our wives in the way
that Christ loves us, in the way that he loves the Church and
gave himself up for her...

As you heard in the first reading from Ephesians chapter five you
are to take the same standard of love that Christ commanded his
disciples to apply to everyone and you are to apply it to your
own families - to your own wives.

I think back to my childhood and how my mother would say about my
father "he is so charming and so nice to everyone else when we go
out, but he is so different when we get home."

And I recognize in this - and in myself 
- and in how so many men are one way in public and another way 
in private 
- in how so many men treat their bosses and their fellow workers
and their clients or their customers  better than they treat they
treat the mother of their children -
I recognize in these things that many of us really need to hear
the special word God has given us about loving our wives as
Christ loves us.

Think of it as a Mother's Day challenge - think of it as a gift
you might make to your spouse -
as a gift you might make to the world.

We men need to really think about how Christ gave himself for us
- how he served us 
- how he bent down and washed the feet of his disciples 
- how he gave his time - his energy - his attention - to them 
- and how for them - and for everyone - he endured without
protest - without fighting back false accusations - slander - and
even injury unto death.

What do you do for your wife that other men don't do?  What makes
your love for her different from the love that non-Christian men
show?  How do you love her as Christ loves the church?

     I read an article not so long ago about an antenna that
     was on the market for cellular telephones. It costs
     nineteen dollars. This antenna gives the appearance of
     the real thing, but it is a fake.  It's for people who
     can't afford a cellular telephone, but don't want their
     friends to know it.  The amazing thing is that more
     than two hundred thousand people bought these fake
     antennas. 

When I read that I thought of a survey done by a psychology
professor.  The purpose of the survey was to find out what people
think of those who wear eyeglasses. 

     Shoppers in a mall were asked to look at pictures of
     men and women with and without glasses and rate them
     according to certain characteristics. The results were
     quite interesting.  Men wearing glasses were considered
     more intelligent and more trustworthy than those
     without.  In the rating of women for intelligence,
     however, glasses made no difference.  But glasses did
     add an air of financial success to both sexes.  Women
     with glasses were generally considered more competent
     than those without glasses.  After the survey was
     completed, the professor bought himself a pair of fake
     eyeglass frames to wear at counselling sessions!   He
     wanted to look competent, too, I suppose.

There are a lot of fakes in this world my friends -
but there are some things in life you cannot fake. 

Love is one of them -- it has defining characteristics - the
characteristics of Christ - and it produces a fruit that cannot
be mistaken - a fruit that keeps on growing and spreading - and
changing your family - changing your world - changing your
life...  
it produces love -
and joy
and peace
and patience
and faithfulness
and gentleness
and self-control.

How do people know that you are disciples of Jesus? 

By this they will know you are my disciples - says Jesus - if you
have love for one another.

LET US PRAY  -- Dear Lord God - bring us ever closer to Jesus -
help us to have a disciplined relationship with him - one that is
rich and deep and regular in its nature - and grant that in this
that we may pass on the love that we experience from his hands to
all who are around us.  Help us to begin with those of our own
home and family and to not end until we have a holy love for
everyone you send into our lives.  We ask all this in Jesus's
name.  Amen 


* HYMN:  "Would You Bless Our Homes and Families"            - VU 556


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER


* 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 both the world and of your grace.  Help us to share
     these riches - bless what we offer here today - may it be worthy
     of us and of what you have done for us.  We ask it in the name of
     Jesus Christ our risen Lord - Amen


* HYMN:  "One More Step"                                     - VU 639


* 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
Go in peace and love and care for one another in Christ's name;
- and may God's tender and life giving love go with you 
- may the Spirit embrace you and keep you safe
- and may Christ Jesus accompany you as walk thru each day,
this both now and forevermore.  Amen


THREE FOLD AMEN & SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1998 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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