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Sermon and Liturgy for The Seventh Sunday of Easter - Year C
Revelation 22:12-21; Psalm 97; John 17:20-26
"So That The World May Believe"


READING:  Revelation 22:12-21; Psalm 97; John 17:20-26
SERMON :  "So That The World May Believe"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ea07sn 784

   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 Children's Story is based on one in "Children's 
   Sermon Service Plus" Vol 22. no. 2, 1992).  llustrations from
   Charles Armistead (skiparmistead@worldnet.att.net) in "John 17
   and Disunity", PRCL-List, 1998.  Material on glory and general
   inspiritation thanks to Lewis Ford, (ford@phys.tamu.edu) "Father 
   Make Us One", Gospeltalk List, 1998; and Bass Mitchell, That 
   They May Be One", PRCL List, 1998


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 47) 
L  The grace and the peace of the risen Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  The Lord calls us to be one 
   and the Lord makes us one
P  Clap your hands, all you peoples.  
   Cry out to God with shouts of joy.
L  The Lord God is an awesome God.  
   The Lord rules the earth.
P  Clap your hands, all you peoples.  
   Cry out to God with shouts of joy.
L  God has chosen for us a heritage, 
   the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
P  Clap your hands, all you peoples.  
   Cry out to God with shouts of joy.
L  Sing praise to God, sing praises.  
   For God is king of all the earth.
P  Clap your hands, all you peoples.  
   Cry out to God with shouts of joy.


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND ST. ANDREW'S THIS WEEK
- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- St. Andrew's This Week


SHARING JOY AND CONCERNS
- Material for Prayer Time


MUSIC AND SILENT PREPARATION


PRAYER OF APPROACH:  
Gracious God, we praise you with our shouts of joy this day.  We thank you
for the heritage you have chosen us for, for the promises you have made to
us, for the many gifts that you grant us for the living of our days.  Lord,
we remember this day how, before your death and resurrection you said you
would be present with us to the close of the age.  We remember how you
prayed that we might one - with you - and with one another.   Help us to
realise Your presence with us now, O God, in this time of worship.  May we
in this time of prayer and praise, listening and speaking, interceding &
serving, come alive in You - and You in us - through the power and love of
Christ's Spirit.  AMEN.


* HYMN:     "O Love, How Deep"                                     - VU 348


CHILDREN'S STORY: "The Bright Morning Star"
Object:   Colour Picture of the Planet Venus (source - NASA satellite
          images).
Theme     Rev 22:16 "I am the bright morning star"
Source    Based on Children's Sermon Service Plus Vol 22. no. 2 (1992)

Good morning.....   Today I want to talk to you about two bright morning
stars.  The first one I want to talk to you about is a planet.....  (Show
picture).... This planet is usually the first star you see at night and the
last star you see early in the morning when then rest of the stars have
disappeared in the sun's light.  Does anyone know which planet is called
the evening star and the bright morning star???

It's Venus, the next planet closest to Earth towards the Sun.  We really
didn't know a whole lot about Venus until the last 20 years or so.  Do you
know how we find out things about a planet without going there?....  (We
find out from telescopes, and satellites, and space probes, with special
cameras and instruments that measure heat and light and radio waves, and
all manner of electro-magnetic emissions.)  We also learn some things about
other planets from history, because many people wrote about other planets
many hundred's of years ago - even before telescopes were invented, but
especially since.   

Venus has so many clouds above it, that we weren't really sure what was
under the clouds till recently.  Venus is so close to the sun and all the
clouds hold in all the heat, that it makes it so hot the rocks get red at
night.  There are rolling plains and some mountains and volcanoes.  But the
air cannot be breathed by humans, there are too many chemicals in it that
are bad for us.

Our lesson today is about another "bright morning star".  It is a person
who got this name.  Would you like to guess???  This bright morning
star is Jesus.  Instead of shining in the sky early in the morning, Jesus
shines in our lives.  We find out about Jesus through history, just like we
do the planets.  We also find out about Jesus by the special instruments
that God has given us for learning about him   the Bible - and our prayers
and the love, the joy, the peace, and the hope we feel in our hearts and
coming from other people.  One day, perhaps human beings will be able to
live on Venus   but it will take some very special things to make that
happen.   Right now, the bible tells us, we can live in Jesus , and Jesus
can live in us - all we need to do is pray for it to be so.  Then his light
will shine through us too.


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   Lord God   wonderful creator  - we thank you for the light - of the
   bright morning star - that shines from the sky above - and for the
   light of Jesus - which shines in our hearts. - Help us to learn more
   about Jesus - and to keep him in our hearts - so that we might shine
   with his love - and glow with his healing power. - We ask it his 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:  "Jesus Bids Us Shine"                                     - VU 585

 
A READING FROM REVELATION 22:12-21
   (NIV)  "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give
   to everyone according to what he has done. {13} I am the Alpha and the
   Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. {14} "Blessed
   are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the
   tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. {15} Outside
   are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the
   murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices
   falsehood. {16} "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this
   testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
   and the bright Morning Star." {17} The Spirit and the bride say,
   "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him
   come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of
   life. {18} I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this
   book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues
   described in this book. {19} And if anyone takes words away from this
   book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of
   life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. {20} He
   who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen.
   Come, Lord Jesus. {21} The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's
   people. Amen.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 97 (Voices United 817 and sung refrain)
           

A READING FROM JOHN 17:20-26
   (NIV)  "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will
   believe in me through their message, {21} that all of them may be one,
   Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us
   so that the world may believe that you have sent me. {22} I have given
   them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
   {23} I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to
   let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you
   have loved me. {24} "Father, I want those you have given me to be with
   me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because
   you loved me before the creation of the world. {25} "Righteous Father,
   though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you
   have sent me. {26} I have made you known to them, and will continue to
   make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them
   and that I myself may be in them."

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

                    
* HYMN:  "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee"                         - VU 560


SERMON:  "So That The World May Believe" (John 17:22)
           
   Loving God, quicken our hearts again, that we may receive Your Word
   afresh and anew.  May your Spirit's voice be heard, and in hearing
   may we respond in service and in witness to Your Name; through
   Christ our Lord.  Amen.

A true story....

   During the Depression, a man living in the Appalachian area went to
   Knoxville for the first time to transact some business.  While there
   he saw a refrigerator that made ice.  Since it was summertime, he
   thought it was a miracle of God.

   When he returned to his home town in the mountains, his church was
   in the midst of a revival worship service.  He arrived to the
   service during the time when people were giving testimonies.  He
   told of the miracle of seeing ice made in the midst of the summer.

   Well, a dispute broke out.  Many claimed that there was not such
   thing.  Others wanted to believe him.  It resulted in a schism
   within the church.  Many left the church to form a new church.  It's
   name, to this very day, is "No Ice in The Summer Southern Baptist
   Church."

In our gospel reading today, as for the last three weeks, we see Jesus is
in the Upper Room with his disciples.  He's about to go out and be
arrested, tried, and crucified.  It's the last night of his earthly life. 
And what's on his mind, on his heart?  

It is that you and I, and all who follow him, "May be one."
  
That his disciples then, and his disciples today, be as close to one
another as he was to the Father.

   "As you, Father", Jesus prayed, "As you are in me and I am in you,
   may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have
   sent me."

That the world may believe.

   One of my old seminary professors told me of how he ministered in a
   church that had a major fight over wood piles.  This church had a
   wood stove in the centre of the sanctuary that heated the building. 
   Two groups that didn't get along with each other took turns stoking
   the fire and keeping it lit.

   However, one group claimed that they were working harder than the
   other group to provide the wood.  As a result, both groups provided
   the wood but in separate piles.

   One child while reading the scripture one Sunday used his own
   version of the well know text from Ephesians, chapter four, verse
   five: :"One faith, one Lord, one baptism, and two wood piles."

And it seems appropriate, because it seems that their one God and Father of
all   was their own view of themselves - as made manifest in the wood piles
that they created.

Whose glory do we serve?
What witness do we make?

   As you, Father, are in me", Jesus prayed, "and I am in you, may they
   also be in us, so that world may believe you have sent me."

You know, it seems that God has been leading us this past few weeks to a
lot of talk about "letting go and letting God" and of how this relates
ultimately to the witness we make, and the glory that we both serve and
experience.  

Ever since the Sunday after Easter when Ivan preached about "letting go and
letting God" as this pertains to change in our midst; to last Sunday, when
I spoke about how we need to let go and let God as it pertains to the peace
that we seek, it seems that the Lectionary texts and the events around us
have led us to some consideration of the theme of letting go and letting
God:
   - letting go and letting God as this applies to how we treat one
   another,
   - letting go and letting God as this applies to how we understand
   ourselves,
   - letting go and letting God as this applies to how we understand
   others, even those, and especially those, who do things to try to
   confound us - like turning crosses upside down - or predicting failure
   for our community of faith and for the things we are trying to do in
   obedience to our vision of what God is asking.

It is in letting go and letting God - you see - where love is given space
to grow - where the unity that Christ speaks of arises within us   where
our witness becomes one of power - one of light - for it is no longer
simply us - as individuals - or as a group - that makes witness - but it is
God himself working through us.

God is moving and doing things.
I want you all to get hold of that today - and to delight in it
and to think about just what it is that he is doing
and how it is that he is shining in and through us this these last few
months, these last few years.

I don't want you folk here today to take the topic of today's sermon amiss,
   the topic of unity and of witness,
and to end up thinking that things are going badly here,
   that God's glory is not been served,
   that no unity exists among us,
   that we have two woodpiles being assembled around our wood stove,
Because that is far from true.

One of the things that struck me from the beginning about this church, is
the very real warmth, the very real love, that is in it   love for even the
most crotchety of our brothers and sisters    and love too for the
strangers who come to the door.

But more there is a willingness here to look beyond denominational
barriers, a willingness that extends beyond our traditional "openness" as a
part of the United Church of Canada, which is an openness of heart and
mind, to an openness of Spirit   a Spirit that sees a vision of all our
brothers and sisters working together, in prayer and in activities, in
worship and in service, to shed light upon this community.

In other words I am suggesting to you today, as I unfold this word of God
to you, and speak of our unity and witness - a unity that the world may
believe - that we are embarked on the right course, on a Godly course   and
that what God wants us to grab hold of this day   is the encouragement of
the word that Jesus speaks in prayer for us in today's scripture.  

Now I know that you all can think of hurts and of pains that have been done
in our midst, of efforts not appreciated, and persons not remembered when
perhaps they ought to have been,
   but I want to think past that stuff to what else has been going on, to
   what has been growing ever larger in our midst, which is the good stuff
   - the fruit of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in Galatians 5, verse 22

       love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,  
       faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

There is stuff happening my friends  
      from a vision of us playing together as a congregation 
to visions of us singing and worshipping God together as a united
community,
      from plans to reach out and provide a place and a time for coming
   together in joy and in fun
to the experience of embracing folk who are just now finding the way of
God, and finding it through our witness to be a good way, a healing way, a
way of life.

Think on the lives that are being touched
being touched for good
and not for ill.

   "The glory that you have given me", Jesus prayed, "I have given
   them, so that they may be one, as we are one.  I in them and you in
   me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know
   that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved
   me."

Think of the verb tenses in this pray.
The glory that you given me, I HAVE GIVEN them.
So that the world may know that you HAVE sent me and HAVE LOVED them.

These verb tenses describe a reality that is already with us.
A reality that Jesus prays may become even more real, when he asks the
Father that we may be one.

What is this glory that Jesus has given us that the father first gave him?

The great biblical scholar, William Barclay lists three ways Jesus has
glory: 
1) his cross 
- suffered in love for the sake of others
2) his perfect obedience to the will of God 
- out of love for the Father, and 
3) his special relationship with God 
- that people could see God when they saw him, 
and hear God when they heard him.

Jesus gives those who believe in him this glory - his glory - the glory of
the Father.

As we turn to him and live in him, he lives in us
his obedience becomes our obedience
his cross - his burden - becomes our burden,
and his ability to reflect and show God to others, becomes ours as well.

As we turn to him and live in him, 
   as we allow his glory to settle upon us
   as we take up our crosses and follow him
   as we exercise his holy obedience to the Father,
we become one.

It is a mystical thing this union we have with one another
It is grounded in what God has in mind for us
and our acceptance of that mind
our letting go of ourselves and our worries and our agenda, 
and of letting God set our agenda
of letting God inhabit our thoughts and actions,
letting God shine through our words and deeds.

Hold fast the vision that Jesus gives of the path of glory
hold fast the prayer that Jesus utters for you and for me
   and delight you in the fact that as you push the stones as you have
   been asked to do,
the Lord will smile upon us   and make us strong   and in the end, 
push the rock aside himself.

Think of the prayer that Jesus uttered, my friends,
read it over when you go home,
mediate on it this week.

Think not only of what it promises to us,
but think as well of it's ultimate focus,
the focus on the world.

   Make them one, that the world may believe 
   that you have sent me.

   I have given them my glory, that they may be one, 
   that the world may know you have sent me.

What we do here at St. Andrew's 
our gathering together,
our caring
our loving,
our worship,
our planning
our play,
our teaching,
as we do these things together, 
   each as God has called,
   each in the way that Christ has showed us,
they make a difference.

The more together we are, the more united in Christ we are,
the more who will believe in him,
the more who will be healed by him,
the more who will become one with him,
and he with them.

We are the testimony to the truth of what we proclaim.

Continue to strive to be true to that truth that our witness may shine
forth as a welcoming beacon to those who so need light in their lives.

God will use us   if we but let him.  
Christ has prayed that it might be so.
And his word is not an empty word for those who take it into their hearts
and then share it by word and deed with the hearts of others.

Blessed be God, day by day.  Amen


* HYMN: "They Will Know We Are Christians"
   We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord
   We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord
   And we pray that unity may one day be restored, (to refrain)
               
   Refrain
       And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, 
       Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.
              
   We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,
   We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand,
   And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land, (to refrain)
           
   We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
   We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
   And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each ones pride, (refrain)
              
   All praise to the Father, From whom all things come,
   And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son,
   And all praise to the Spirit, Who makes us one, (to refrain)


PASTORAL PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  
Your Church was founded, Lord, on unity and love.  Yet we confess to you
Lord that  we can't love other people all the time.  Sometimes we don't
love ourselves.  There are some people we don't even want to love, or like,
or help, or understand, or go through the agony of forgiving.  We wonder
how can we give of ourselves to them.  Yet you, most Gracious Father, gave
Christ for us in love.  And in turn he poured out love upon us and prayed
for our unity with one another and with you.  Oh loving God, help us to
love.  Bring us closer to you and to one another.  As we turn unto you,
pour your Spirit out upon us and lead us in the way we should go that your
light might shine in us and through us.   Lord hear our prayer.....

God of power and of might, God of tenderness and of truth, we thank you for
the prayer that your Son Jesus prayed for us   and for the way that he
revealed to us, the way in which all things are held together in your
eternal plan, the way in which your reconciling love brings together those
things that would otherwise be apart, the way in which your unity joins
together the forces that would otherwise diverge.  Help us be one in you, O
Lord, help us travel the way of Jesus, that the world may indeed
believe.....  Lord, hear our prayer...

Father, we pray too for those particular people that are upon our hearts
today, those named by our brothers and sisters here today and during this
past week.  We hold up before you (BIDDING PRAYER).... Lord hear our prayer..
   
We recall others who are in distress or turmoil this day, those who are not
at one with themselves, let alone with you and their brothers and sisters.  
Bless we pray these lost ones and grant strength and wisdom and hope to
those whose prayer everyday is for them...  Lord, hear our prayer....

We remember as well those joyful occasions that you have sent to us - and
we thank you for them...  Lord, hear our prayer...
   
These things oh God, we bring before as a family, as your family, as people
who would be one with you and with each other though Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Amen


MINUTE FOR MISSION


* 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
            
   We give this offering to you, O Lord.  We give ourselves as well. 
   Bless us as we give.  Move us to help others and to love them too. 
   Use us, O Lord, to bring others to faith in you, and to hasten the
   new world you have promised, the world where all are one in praise
   and thanksgiving, in love and in joy.  We ask it in Jesus' name, he
   who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, both now
   and forevermore.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Breathe on Me, Breath of God"                  - VU 382
               

* 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,
- and may you be held in the centre of God's will today and every day,
- may you know the joy, freedom, and power of walking by faith and in
faithfulness,
- and may all the blessings of that walk be yours
and being yours, may it spill forth from you upon the whole world
to God's glory and praise, 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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