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Sermon and Liturgy (2) for The Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C
Mother's Day / Christian Family Sunday
Revelation 21:1-6; Psalm 148; John 13:31-35
"What I Want For You"


READING:  Revelation 21:1-6; Psalm 148; John 13:31-35
SERMON :  "What I Want For You"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea05sn.y-c 782

   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 - John Sayers (REVBST@aol.com) of the Sermonshop List
   (1998) helped provide ideas for both the children's story and the
   sermon.  A portion of the Prayers of the People is taken from a
   prayer by John Killinger (source document unknown).  Other sources
   as indicated within the text.

   
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace and the peace of the risen Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  I was glad when they said to me: Let us go into the House of the Lord!
P  And so here we are!  Families together!  Young and old alike!
L  Here we are celebrating that God is our true Parent
   and Jesus our true brother!
P  Let us worship the Lord today in gladness and in song!


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

* PRAYER OF APPROACH  
Gracious Lord, you have promised to meet those who seek Your face.  Come
now, as we worship you with prayer and song, be present as we read and
hear you Scriptures, attend us as we celebrate your love and ask your
blessings to be upon all people.  Bless us to be a blessing unto the
family and the world you have given, this both now, and forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN:   "Come In, Come In and Sit Down"                          - VU 395
   
          
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
As we gather in praise and worship, our focus will be on loving in the way
that Christ, before leaving us, asked us to love one another.  The image
of the last wish, or the most important thing he desired for us, who are
his brothers and sisters, will be central today as we celebrate Mother's
Day (Christian Family Sunday) in prayer and song.  As you prepare to
worship this morning, remember to pray for those taking part in leadership
roles and for a blessing to be upon those who sit next to you; ask God to
help you to worship in "spirit and in truth" and to speak a special word
to you  or touch you in some way.  What  we ask for and expect in faith
almost always will be what happens!   We pray that you are richly blessed
by this time of Worship and that you will return to the world more able to
be a blessing to it. 

- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


CHILDREN'S SONG WITH CHOIR: "This Little Light of Mine"           


CHILDREN'S TIME
Object    Flower in Bud - not open
Theme     God's love opens us from the inside.
Source    Self and John Sayers - Sermonshop 1998

       Note that flowers have been purchased for distribution to
       all the women of the congregation.

Today is a special day   it is Mother's Day - a day in which we celebrate
the love of God and show our thanksgiving to God for our mothers - no
matter what they are like - and where they may be.  Today, the United
Church woman brought these flowers for you to give out to all the women in
the church.  Looking at them reminds me of a story about a little girl who
once asked her mommy, "How come when ever I open up a flower  it falls
apart, but when God opens it up it stays together?" 

Can you think of an answer.

The mother didn't know how to respond, but then the little girl said, 

"Oh, I know, when I open it up I open it up from the outside, but when God 
opens it up it is from the inside." 

The love our perfect Father and Mother shares, is a love that opens us up
from the inside.  May that love shine through us to the world around us -
just as you sang when you sang "This little light of mine.  Now come -
let's give these flowers to all the women who here with us and say to them
as you do so "May God bless you richly in all that you do".

      
-- PRESENTATION OF FLOWERS "May God bless you richly in all that you do"


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   Loving God - maker of the flower - giver of all love - we thank you
   for mums - who have shared your love and live with us. - We thank
   you for grandmothers too - and for dads and grand-dads - we are
   grateful also.   Be for our families and for us - guide, strength,
   saviour, and Lord - do this we pray - all the days of our lives -
   through Christ Jesus.  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: "Now Thank We All Our God"                                 - VU 236


A READING FROM REVELATION 21:1-6
   (NIV)  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven
   and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
   {2} I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
   from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. {3}
   And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of
   God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people,
   and God himself will be with them and be their God. {4} He will wipe
   every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or
   crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." {5} He
   who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then
   he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
   {6} He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
   Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink
   without cost from the spring of the water of life.

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


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

A READING FROM JOHN 13:31-35
   (NIV)  When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified
   and God is glorified in him. {32} If God is glorified in him, God will
   glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. {33} "My
   children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for
   me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going,
   you cannot come. {34} "A new command I give you: Love one another. As
   I have loved you, so you must love one another. {35} By this all men
   will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

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

                    
* HYMN:  "For The Beauty Of The Earth"                             - VU 226
          

SERMON: "What I Want For You"
           
   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.

Pastor Krister Ulmanis tells a story about an event which happened some
200 years ago to the Reverend Samuel Rutherford. 

   Rutherford was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. 
   One evening a stranger came to the parsonage door and asked if he
   could stay for the night.  The stranger was welcomed into the
   house. It was the custom for the minister and his family to have
   devotions at the end of the day and the stranger was asked to join
   in this family service, which he did.

   After the pastor read the scripture for the day, each person was
   asked questions about the Bible.  When the time came for the
   stranger's question, he was asked an easy one, "How many
   commandments are there?............"

   The stranger quickly answered, "Eleven". 

   The minister was surprised at the man's ignorance and immediately
   corrected him corrected him by saying, "There are only Ten
   Commandments."  

   The stranger then replied, "Have you never then read,  "A new
   commandment I give to you, that you love one another"?"

I give you a new commandment, 
that you love one another. 
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 

It's an incredible thing isn't it?
This kind of love that Jesus asks us all to show?

It's an incredible thing isn't it
the kind of love that Jesus showed -
- the love that is represented and remembered today at this table......
- the love that gives life
- the love that is prepared to sacrifice everything for the one that is
loved?

I think that the popularity of Mother's day in our society is linked to
this kind of love.

All kinds of things can be said about the commercialism of mother's day
but when push comes to shove - I think that for many people, this day is a
celebration of the fact that the love we see in our Saviour is often found
in the love of our mothers.

There is, of course, many sad stories that can be told about mothers, just
as there are many sad stories told about fathers:
- how love was lacking,
- how pain was not soothed with a loving kiss
- how sadness was not brushed away with a tight hug 
- how needs were not met with a word of guidance and a tender helping
hand;
but still, all in all, the failures of mothers and fathers, grievous as
they may be, should not be allowed to overshadow the simple reality that
it is possible - in human form - to love as God as loves - to love as our
brother Jesus loved us 
- and that we see this love so very often in our parents,
sometimes a little,
sometimes a lot.

I titled the sermon today "What I Want For You" because, as I was
preparing this week and thinking about Mother's day and how to speak on
it, it dawned on me that as Jesus gave his disciples the 11th Commandment
he was doing it as a kind of last wish - the last words of advice - the
final blessing as it were, for his disciples before his death.

At times such as these, times of last goodbyes, some people are gifted
with the ability and the desire to summarize just what it is that they
feel for  those that they leaving, and just what it that they hope for
them.  

There was a tradition amongst the Hebrew people - as amongst many nations
- that a person, when they felt death approaching, would gather their
families together and make known to them their final wishes and give to
them their blessing - as did Isaac, and Jacob, in the book of Genesis.

Of course, we do this kind of thing at other times as well.
In less formal ways than that of the Last of Supper of Jesus,
or the death bed blessings of Isaac and Jacob.

We do it often one on one in our family relationships
father to son,
mother to daughter
sister to brother.

There is a special moment of sharing -
or simply some sage words of advice given
advice that is meant to be really heard
and to be taken to heart as a guide for all of living.

I am sure each of you here has been on the receiving end of such advice
giving - and many of you have given it.

I always associate such moments, as a receiver of life abiding wisdom,
with my mother - though for some of you it may be your father, or a step
parent.

My mother gave me, on several occasions, two key words of counsel,
two major teachings by which she hoped I would live my life.

She would say:   
   "My hope for you is that you will be happy all your days"
And           
   "In all that you do, try not to hurt other people"

She would say this in different ways.

For example if I was being hounded by my father about what I intended to
do when I grew up   if I was going to go to university - and get a real
job   and all those kinds of things that we so often lay upon other
people, especially our children, when they do not seem to be living "up to
snuff", my mother would find opportunity some time later to say:

   Son, it doesn't matter what it is you do - as long as you happy in
   it and it isn't harming someone else.

Good words.   Shared in love.  Often shared at a time when I really needed
some words of grace and encouragement

I imagine that each of you can recall some such encouraging words,
   - thoughts shared for your sake rather than for the sake of those
   uttering it.
   - thoughts that got at the essence of your life - your at spiritual
   well being
rather than at the superficial things of career or education or athletic
success or money making ability
   - things which often are the reflection of the hopes of the speaker,
   rather the hopes of those listening....

That is where my mind moved this week as I considered the Gospel text that
Jenny read, and the fact that we would honour mother's in midst today.

Now there are many fine things that could be said about mother's here
today and fine examples drawn from the bible of what a good mother is,
but I am not going to preach at you like that today.

Nor am I going to lift up before you some wonderful stories or poems or
definitions of  motherhood.

Rather, I am going to leave each of you to consider what kind of spiritual
advice did your mother or your father or a step parent  give you for the
living of your lives?  

And whatever that is   if it was anything at all   I want you to give
thanks to God for the care that  for you that was revealed in the fact
that this counsel was given - whether the counsel was good - or not so
good - it shows loving intention - indeed loving reality.

And then, thanks having been given for the counsel that you have received, 
I want you to do one more thing and think of the advice that you would
give to a young person today   
be it to your most precious son or daughter
to your dearest nephew or niece
or to the teenager that you have taken under your wing
or the kids that you coach, or teach,
or perhaps - if this is how God has arranged your life - simply to another
adult, a friend, someone  whom you believe your words may help.

What single - most important - thing would you say to them to help them
live their lives?  What single - most important thing have you in fact
said - perhaps over and over again?

   It doesn't matter what it is you do - as long as you happy in it
   and it isn't harming someone else.

   Live and let live.

   Look on the bright side of things.

   Chase your dreams.

   Be good.

   Work hard and play hard.

   Don't lie, cheat, or steal.

What is it that we tell people - that we tell those we love - is the most
important thing we wish for them?  That we hope that they will do and be?  

As you are thinking about this I want to share with you a couple of
quotations from a book entitled, "Dear God: Children's Letters To God" by
David Heller that I picked up off the Internet this week.

   Dear God,   Thank you for my parents, my sister Anita, and for my
   grandma and grandpa. They are real warm and special.  I forgive you
   for my brother Phil.  I guess you didn't finish working on him. ---
   -    Sean

   Dear God,  You light up my life.  So do mom and dad.  I hope you
   like this.  I am not sure what it means. ---- Luv, Toni

   Dear God,   Girls are weird.  Except for my mom.     Love you,
   Timmy

   Dear God,  My mom and my father are divorced.  For 3 years. 
   Nobody's perfect.   But why did you pick us?  I wish we were all
   with each other.  Maybe you could have them get along on weekends. 
   --- Please, Stephen

   Dear God,  Do you think there's enough love today?  I feel there's
   a shortage. -- Love, Ken......

I give you a new commandment, 
that you love one another. 
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 

My hope for you folks today - my hope for me
is that you and I may indeed love as Christ loved - and still loves - us.
For in him - and in God above is found all that makes life worthwhile.
In him is the hope of the world
And through him comes that which gives life
both now and eternally.


THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Loving God, we have gathered this day to worship you and thank you for
your love.
We have also gathered to to receive your strength and guidance
so that we might love as Jesus loved us
so that we might live as you meant us to live.

Today as we worship you, O God, we also recall the family you granted us,
and our prayer is for them as well as for us this day.

We thank you God for those who birthed us and for those who took care of us  
and we ask you blessing to be upon them - whether they be in the flesh or
in the Spirit this day. 

Grant to them fulness of life in this world and in the world to come,
help them to be living examples of those who keep the commandment of
Jesus; and Lord, knowing the imperfection of human families, we pray that 
where there is a need for forgiveness, that you would forgive and help us 
to forgive.  Where there is a need for patience - you would grant us grace 
to be lovingly patient; and where there is a need for endurance in the face 
of a burden of care - that you would grant us strength to go the distance.
Bless O God our mothers, and ourselves.   Lord, hear our prayer.....

We pray too, O God this day, for mothers who are  young and just beginning
the way of motherhood, that they may be imbued  with patience, love, and
wisdom; 

For mothers who are older and who have found the way hard, that they may
be given renewed strength and love and courage; 

For mothers whose children are encumbered with unusual  difficulties, that
they may bear the pain of being unable to make everything all right and
keep the faith for those young ones; 

For mothers whose children  do not have enough food to eat, or proper
medication for illness, that they may not lose hope for generations of
children still unborn; 

For  mothers whose children have died, that they may expect a joyous and 
fulfilling reunion beyond this life; 

For mothers whose children have been given for adoption, that they may
trust in your love and watchfulness over these extensions of themselves; 
for mothers-in-heart, who have been  unable to have children, that their
motherly instincts may be fulfilled by caring for significant others in
their lives.

Lord, we remember too in our prayer time those who were named especially
before you.  We ask you to be with those who are celebrating a new year of
life this week, remembering before you (BIDDING PRAYER)

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into a single will. Make us
love what you command and desire what you promise, that, amid all the
changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 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
            
   Loving God, in You we find life, health, and strength. Through Your
   gifts we are clothed and fed.  By you comes the love with which we
   can love.  Bless we pray what we offer to you now on these plates
   and those intentions which we place now on the alter of our hearts. 
   Bless them and use them that your love and goodness may be made
   known.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen


* SHARING THE PEACE (greeting one another with a sign of peace and words
like "the Peace of Christ be with you" - "And also with you"

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

COMMUNION LITANY
L  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 God our thanks and praise.
       
We thank you, our God, and praise you highly for you alone are good and
your love is forever.  We give thanks for your son, Jesus Christ, who gave
up all he had and, taking on our human flesh, walked the path of obedience
- all the way to insult, betrayal and death, trusting only in your
vindication.  For this reason you raised him to the highest place above
and gave him a name that is greater than any other name. And so with all
beings in heaven and on earth and in the world below, we greet his
appearing with shouts of joy, proclaiming that he is not only our brother,
but our Lord.

We recall the nature of his saving love at this time, remembering how on
the night he was betrayed, he took bread and blessed it (as even now we do
bless it, O Lord), and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
"Take, eat, this is body, broken for you".  We remember, too, how in the
same manner he took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying, "This cup
is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you.  As often
as you drink it, do so in remembrance of me".

Loving God as we look upon your table - the table you invite us to and at
which you feed us as a mother feeds her children - with words of love and
acts of tenderness, we give you thanks for all the life giving deeds that
you perform, not only within our hearts, but in the words and deeds of
others.  Loving God, send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that the
bread we break may be for us communion in the body of Christ, and the cup
of blessing which we bless may be for us communion in the blood of Christ;
that being built up in love we may be strengthened in the unity of the
faith and come to the fullness of the stature of Christ our Lord.  Amen
           

SHARING THE ELEMENTS     the body and the blood of our Lord will
   distributed to  you in the pews  - please take and pass them with
   words like  "the body/blood of our Lord, broken/poured out for you"

   
DEPARTING PRAYER
L  Let us pray.
P  We give thanks to you, O Lord, for the love you pour out upon us,
   the love that calls us to be the best people we can be
   the love that opens us from the inside
   the love that is seen in what we have done here today.
   We pray, O Lord, that we might love one another as you love us
   and share the goodness we have received with all people.  Amen.

   
* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Praise Our Maker"                              - VU 316
               

* 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 & THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ Jesus,
remember life is short and we do not have too much time to gladden the
hearts  of those who travel with us.  So be swift to love and make hast to
be kind. And the blessing of God - the creator, the redeemer and the
sustainer - be with you this day and always.   Amen


THREE FOLD AMEN & SUNG 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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