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Sermon and Liturgy (2) for The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year C
Revelation 21:10,22 - 22:5; Psalm 67; John 14:23-29
"Peace I Give You"


READING:  Revelation 21:10,22 - 22:5; Psalm 67; John 14:23-29
SERMON :  "Peace I Give You"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea06sn.y-c 783

   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 - The Prayer Litany (Prayers of the People) is based on
   Revelation 21:1-6a and the song "Imagine" by John Lennon.  The
   original source of the litany, now modified, is unknown.  The 
   children's story is loosely based on one found in CSS Plus  Vol 
   25. no.2  (CSS Publishing). 


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


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

* 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  Come before God and rejoice in his presence.  
P  Worship God and pay him his due. 
L  The Lord calls to us and asks us to gather in his name. 
P  He calls to us and asks us to love him and keep his word.
L  He calls to us that so he may pour out his Spirit upon us.
P  He calls to us so that he might grant us his peace.
L  He calls to us so that he might make his home within us.
P  We bless the name of The Lord and rejoice in his calling.


* PRAYER OF APPROACH:  
Gracious God - we thank you for gathering us together in the name of the
risen Christ and for the many blessings that bless us with through him and
the Holy Spirit.  We praise your most holy name for the life that you pour
out upon us - for the love that you embrace us with - for the strength and
the hope that you grant us.  We receive your many gifts with a sese of awe
and humility.  Be present with us dear Lord, and guide us in our time of
prayer and meditation - that we might hear what you have to say to us this
day - and hearing might do as you ask.  May our lives reflect your
goodness - and bring to you the praise of others - both now and
forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Alleluiah, Alleluiah, Give Thanks..."                   - SFGP 34


CHILDREN'S STORY
Object    List of instructions for A Babysitter
Theme     Jesus has a plan for us  
Source    - based loosely upon Children's Sermon Service Plus 
          Vol 25. no.2 for The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Good morning...  Sometimes our parents go away for a while too - just
overnight - does that ever happen to you???  How do you feel when they are
gone???  A bit scared???  Glad???  Do you miss them???  Why or Why nor??? 
(we stay at grandma's - or we have a Babysitter).

How many of you have had a babysitter stay with you???   What do your
parents tell you about the babysitter???  About themselves  (don't worry -
we'll be OK -- don't worry - the sitter will look after you). 

You know the babysitter will look after you very well too -- do you know
why??? -- Because your parents tell them what to do -- they normally write
out a list of instructions to make sure everything goes right -- Have a
bath at 7:30 pm --- watch the Video we left for the kids -- put them to
bed at 9:30 - let them have ice cream and cookies before -- don't forget
their hug from us and to say prayers -- you can get hold of us at 344-2929
-- if you get into trouble take the kids next door right away -- we'll be
home before midnight.

All through Easter we have heard about Jesus rose from the dead and
visited with his disciples and talked with them and ate with them.  He did
this for 40 days -- but then Jesus left Earth and he went to heaven - to
that place we just heard about - to get things ready for us there.  Before
he left - he gave us a special gift - the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT - which
does everything that God tells it to do - it looks after us - and he also
gave us a set of instructions about what we should do -- And the Holy
Spirit reminds us of what is on the list.   We don't have to worry while
Jesus is heaven - because through the Spirit we hear his words and
experience his love each day -- and we know what to do until he returns
for us.


PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
   Dear Lord God - we thank you for Jesus - and for all the things he
   said. - We thank you too for the Holy Spirit - and how it looks
   after us.  - Help us not be afraid - and to do all that you ask us
   to do -- 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:  "Give Me Oil In My Lamp"                                - SFGP 130

   
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Announcements
- Birthdays This Week
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

 
A READING FROM REVELATION 21:10,22 - 22:5
   (NIV)  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and
   high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of
   heaven from God.

   I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and
   the Lamb are its temple. {23} The city does not need the sun or the
   moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb
   is its lamp. {24} The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of
   the earth will bring their splendour into it. {25} On no day will its
   gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. {26} The glory
   and honour of the nations will be brought into it. {27} Nothing impure
   will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or
   deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book
   of life.

   Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as
   crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb {2} down the
   middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river
   stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its
   fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of
   the nations. {3} No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God
   and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
   {4} They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
   {5} There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a
   lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.
   And they will reign for ever and ever.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 67  (Voices United page 786 and Refrain)
           

A READING FROM JOHN 14:23-29
   (NIV)  Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
   My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home
   with him. {24} He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. 
   These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who
   sent me. {25} "All this I have spoken while still with you. {26} But
   the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
   will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have
   said to you. {27} Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do
   not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled
   and do not be afraid. {28} "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I
   am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am
   going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. {29} I have
   told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will
   believe.

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

                    
* HYMN:  "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go"                          - VU 658
          

SERMON: "Peace I Give 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.

Today's gospel reading is set at the time of the Last Supper - the night
before Jesus gives himself over to death for our sakes.

In it Jesus tells his disciples that they should not grieve or sorrow over
his going from them, that at his going - he would not only bestow the Holy
Spirit upon them to teach and comfort them, but he would leave them his
peace.

Hear his words again:   My peace I leave with you
                        my peace I give to you. 
                        I do not give to you as
                        the world gives.

What a wonderful set of words - a wonderful promise - this promise of
peace.  Yet there is a strangeness to them as well - a strangeness found
in the last phrase -- the phrase that says: "I do not give to you as the
world gives."

What do they mean for us?  for us who greet one another in the liturgy -
the worship - with the words - the Peace of Christ be with you?

What is this peace that Christ gives and that we pray upon one another?
the peace that he gives, which is not like that which the world gives?

There is a story told about peace that may help answer that question.
 
   "It seems that one day an artist was commissioned by a wealthy man
   to paint something that would  depict peace.  After a great deal of
   thought, the artist painted a beautiful  country scene. There were
   green fields with cows standing in them, birds were flying in the
   blue sky and a lovely little village lay in a distant valley.  The 
   artist gave the picture to the man, but there was a look of
   disappointment on the patron's face.  The man said to the artist, "
   This isn't a picture of true peace.  It isn't right. Go back and
   try again.

   The artist went back to his studio, thought for several hours about
   peace, then  went to his canvas and began to paint.  When he was
   finished, there on the canvas  was a beautiful picture of a mother,
   holding a sleeping baby in her arms, smiling lovingly at the child. 
   He thought, surely, this is true peace, and hurried to give the
   picture to the wealthy man. But again, the wealthy man  refused the
   painting and asked the painter to try again.

   The artist returned again to his studio.  He was discouraged, he
   was tired and he was disappointed.  Anger swelled inside him, he
   felt the rejection of this wealthy man.  Again, he thought; he even
   prayed for inspiration to paint a picture of true peace.  Then, all
   of a sudden an idea came, he rushed to the canvas and began to
   paint as he had never painted before. When he finished, he hurried
   to the wealthy man.

   He gave the painting to the man.  He studied it carefully for
   several minutes.  The artist held his breath.  Then the wealthy man
   said, "Now this is a picture of true peace." He accepted the
   painting, paid the artist and everyone was happy.

   And what was this picture of true peace??  The picture showed a
   stormy sea pounding against a cliff.  The artist had captured the
   furry of the wind as it  whipped black rain clouds which were laced
   with streaks of lightening.  The sea was roaring in turmoil, waves
   churning, the dark sky filled with the power of the furious
   thunderstorm.  And in the middle of the picture, under a cliff, the
   artist had painted a small bird, safe and dry in her nest snuggled
   safely in the rocks.  The bird was at peace midst the storm that
   raged about her."

This seems to be portion of the picture of peace that Jesus gives  
not a worldly kind of peace
   - the peace of a spot in nature - beautiful and serene
   - the peace of a mother and child - tender and gentle
   - the peace of an absence of conflict  - where there are no storms or
violent waves
but rather a peace of knowing that in the midst of turmoil
   there is a rock which can shelter us
   a place where we can nurture and raise a new generation without fear
   a power that can spread it's wings over us and keep us safe .

As one of my favourite hymns puts it 
as it contemplates the storms of life 

   we have a anchor that will not move; 
   grounded firm and deep in the saviour's love

So many of us look for peace in this world.
We look for the safe places where there is nothing that can disturb us.
We look for the quieting of our hearts - disturbed so often by fear.
We look for assurance - for hope - for joy.
And this is a good thing to do - for God does not want us to suffer
needlessly.

Many of us pray too about peace,
about peace not only for us - inside our hearts - and inside our families
-
we pray for peace in the world
for an end to armed conflicts, and end to war and terrorism
an end for the violence that nations and individuals do to one another
and this too is a good thing to do
this praying for peace.

But often I think we look for peace in a way that is not helpful,
and even perhaps pray for peace in a way that is not helpful.

We look for peace
we seek peace
thinking of it as an end to those things that disturb us,
as an absence of fear
as an absence of conflict
as an absence of turmoil
and forget, I believe, that the lack of peace in our hearts and in our world
is a consequence of other factors - rather than the actual problem we are
facing.

In Hebrew - peace - Shalom - is much more than the absence of things that
disturb us.
Peace is rather linked to the concept of wholeness,
of being "at one" with God and with our neighbours - and ourselves,
of having not only an absence of war
   but of having the causes of war - greed, hate, fear, and their
   children - injustice, intolerance, and prejudices - eliminated, 
of having not only an absence of pain and distress - like that Morphine or
Demerol might provide
   but of having the disease that causes the pain and distress cured.

And that is what Jesus was about when he walked among us
   and what he is about through his Spirit, from his place next to the Father
   above, as we await the new heaven and the new earth - that heaven and
   that earth to be inherited by those who keep faith with him to be
   inherited by those who claim the vision and walk by the light it
   sheds.

   My peace I leave with you   my peace I give to you.  I do not give
   to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and
   do not let them be afraid.

Jesus was - and Jesus is - one who heals the disease 
rather than one who simply masks the symptoms.

Jesus was - and Jesus is - one who builds a new world, 
   a new heaven and a new earth
rather than simply trying to fix the old one.

That's what the book says.
That's what the spirit says
and that's what the heart says -
the heart of faith.

We have, my friends, a vision
a vision to guide our walking
and to provide assurance to us as we walk -
we have a destination and a goal,
a purpose and a plan.

But more - we have one who is able to bring about what he has promised,
one who is able to bring to pass a new world -
we know this - for two reasons  
   - the first being what was promised in the past has been performed by
   him, the prophecies made have come true.
   - and the second reason being we are witnesses to how he brings to
   pass new people, transformed people, people who have moved from
   blindness to sight, from despair to hope, from sickness to health,
   from hatred of self to love of all, from death - to life.

But more than a destination that provides us direction
   more than a vision that provides us hope
      more than a goal that keeps us busy
we have a presence here and now 
   a presence that comforts us and helps us to known peace - and to share
   peace, this day,
       a presence that reminds us that the Word of God is effective and
       that it accomplishes what it sets out to do, 
and that what it does is work towards wholeness.

That presence is the presence of Christ himself
the presence of the Spirit
the presence of God.

That is part of what Jesus means when he says  

       My peace I leave with you   my peace I give to you.  
       I do not give to you as the world gives. 

He does not give as the world gives -
because what he gives is effective
what he gives is eternal
what he gives cannot and will not fail.

He gives us peace with God through his love
   through his life and his death, and his resurrection,
and he gives us a new world 
   through his sharing with us the eternal plan of God.

And this, my friends, goes beyond even the picture of the artist that I
started with, the picture of the bird sitting safely on its nest in the
midst of a violent storm.

The Thursday Evening Growth and Spirituality Group was talking about this
kind of thing this past week as we looked at the great promises made by
God through the prophet Isaiah, how God spoke to Israel when the nation
was in captivity - and called the people to "remember no more the things
of the past, for behold I do a new thing"

As we talked about the how God in fact set his people free from slavery in
Babylon a few years later,  and about how God brought the former things he
prophecied  to pass; it was noted that we are in fact in the same position
today as the people of Israel were then.

We are in captivity - a spiritual captivity - a spiritual captivity that
tempts us to cling to the past  and to complain about the present, rather
than to move into the future with confidence.

What would it be like one person asked - if instead of complaining about
things are not perfect here in the church - or at home - or at work - we
instead claimed the promises of God and praised God for all the good
things that he is working on in our midst even now?

What would it be like if we, instead of moaning about how 1 out of 3
marriages fail, we thanked God for how 2 out of 3 work?

Or instead of getting agitated about how few people helped out when asked
to help out, we got excited about how many people help out all the time -
often without being asked?

Or Instead of complaining about all the bad news that we can so easily
complain about, we spoke of the good things that God is doing in lives all
around us - all the time.

What it be like, what would our church be like - and eventually our whole
community be like, if instead of sweating about all the little stuff that
goes wrong, we really got hold of the promises of God, and  looked to the
light instead of the darkness, and began delighting in all the little
stuff that goes right - as signs of God's faithfulness towards us and
towards the world he has made?

An intriguing set of questions isn't it?  A set of questions that reminds
us that there are more enduring things than the pains we experience - more
important things to do than simply moan about what is not good - things to
do that decrease pain and increase wholeness - to the glory of God..

As Jesus said at the beginning of his ministry
   behold - the kingdom of God is at hand
   see - the blind receive their sight
   the lame walk,
   the prisoners are set free.

Peace is found in living a life of faith 
Peace is found in walking according to the words of Christ
Peace is found in trusting in the living God and in his everlasting love.

We have a vision
we have a goal
and we have a God able to accomplish all that he purposes,
   a God who vanquishes death - and opens the way to eternal life to all,
   a God who serves where others would rule, and rules where no other
   force can rule.

The world is, my friends, in a turmoil,
there is a great storm raging round us.
But look to the good that is also all around us.
And do the good 
- as Jesus calls us to do in today's gospel
by keeping his word;
   do it knowing that this word will not return to us - nor to God -
   empty, but will accomplish all that it is meant to accomplish.

The peace of Christ is not simply a peace of huddling on the nest while
the storm rages - - it is a peace of knowing that when the storm is over,
it is over forever, and all of creation will be at peace.

As the scripture says, 
"grief may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."

The words of Jesus concerning his peace are not easy words
his peace is not always peace to receive
but it is a peace that lasts, a peace that triumphs, a peace that heals,
and that is not something that the world can give us
it can only come to us from God.

Let us Pray   Compassionate and loving Lord, you promised to leave us your
peace, a peace unlike that which the world offers to us.  Father, lead us
all to that peace.  Help us to trust in your living word and to do what
you ask of us.  Grant us a confident faith - one that looks to the light
rather than  at the darkness - one that dares to enter the turmoil of the
world - knowing that you are making the world new.  Help us, dear Father,
to die with Christ, so that we might also live with him.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "He Leadeth Me"                                           - VU 657


THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE 
L  "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."
P  Imagine there's no heaven.  It's easy if you try.  No hell below us. 
   Above us only sky.  Imagine all the people Living for today... 
   Imagine there's no countries.  It isn't hard to do.  Nothing to kill
   or die for.  And no religion too.  Imagine all the people Living life
   in peace...

L  "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
   from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 
   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.'"
P  You may say I'm a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.  I hope someday
   you'll join us.  And the world will be as one.  Imagine no
   possessions.  I wonder if you can.  No need for greed or hunger.  A
   brotherhood of man.  Imagine all the people Sharing all the world... 

L  "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.  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.'"
P  You may say I'm a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.  I hope someday
   you'll join us.  And the world will live as one 

L  "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.'"
P  Amen and Amen!

L  Gracious God, we give thanks to you for the peace you give unto us -
   and for the peace that you promise to us and to our whole world.  Help
   us, dear God, to be a people who continue to imagine this time and who
   trust in its coming.  Pour out your Spirit upon us in the time of
   waiting that we might live as  people who are already citizens of the
   new heaven and the new earth that you will bring to pass.  Help us to
   walk by the vision and the Spirit you grant to those who seek you
   through your living Word.  Lord hear our prayer.
P  And in your love answer.
              
L  Merciful God, hear our prayers for those we now hold before in our
   hearts and with the words of our lips:  
P  for....(BIDDING PRAYER)
L  Lord, hear our 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
            
   With these gifts we now offer for your work, O God, we strive to
   honour you and thank you as you deserve.  With the offering of our
   time and our effort - our words and our thoughts - we seek to obey
   you and so make your world a place of light and of love.  Bless us
   we pray and what we offer here - that it may bear fruit and bring
   glory unto your name.  Amen      Amen

   
* DEPARTING HYMN:  "God of Grace and God of Glory" (tune 651)      - VU 686
               

* 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,  and may the peace of God  - the peace that passes understanding -
keep your hearts and your minds in the knowledge and  the love of Christ
Jesus our Saviour - both now and forevermore.  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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