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Sermon and Liturgy for The Second Sunday after Epiphany - Year C
Exodus 35:20-29; Psalm 36; I Corinthians 12:1-11
"To Each - Different Gifts - For the Common Good"


READING:  Exodus 35:20-29; Psalm 36; I Corinthians 12:1-11
SERMON :  "To Each - Different Gifts - For the Common Good"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or02sn.y-c 763000

   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 time is based in large part upon a story by
   Bass Mitchell (bassm@vba.tds.net) for Jan18 or 25, 1998.

         
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  As many parts, we gather together.
P  We are here not only as individuals who believe, 
   we are here as members of the community of faith.
L  We are one body, 
   called together by Christ, 
   to worship and serve our one God.
P  The Spirit has graced each one of us with gifts for the common good.  
   Apart from God and from each other we are weak.  
   Together we are strong.
L  Rejoice and be glad, lift up your hearts before God, 
   for God has wonderfully arranged all things.


INTROIT: "What Does The Lord Require of You"                       - VU 701


PRAYER OF APPROACH
Gracious and Generous God, your Living Word gives us Light for our Path,
your Spirit provides us Strength for our Journey, and your Love binds us
together and makes us whole.  We praise and we thank you this day for your
many mercies.  Help us we come before you at this  time to open our hearts
and minds to you, and to claim for ourselves - and for all your people  -
those things you have stored up for us.  Cleanse us from those things
which hinder us from knowing and doing your will and grace us with your
presence so that we be able to render you the worship you so richly
deserve.  We ask it in the name Jesus.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Holy Spirit, Hear Us"                                    - VU 377


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Spiritual Gifts"
Theme     God loves us as his special children.
Source    Bass Mitchell (bassm@vba.tds.net) for Jan 18 or 25, 1998
Object    Brightly Wrapped Gift with large TO/FROM tag

Greeting --- show gift -- "what is this????"  (Christmas gift, birthday
gift etc)....   "What do you think is inside it????"......    "Who do you
think it's given to????"  "By Who?"

Do you know something   you folks are like this gift here too.   Wrapped
up inside you are some very special gifts God gives...  Can you think of
what they are?  (Talk about what these are - spiritual gifts -- of caring,
of loving, of prayer, of happiness, of energy, of ability).  Can you think
of why you might have been given them?  (to make your family strong  
family of blood, and of God). 

God gives different gifts to everyone - we all have one or more in us -
what gifts do you think you have? (what have you been told you do
well....).  Maybe when you go downstairs to Sunday School, or when you go
home, your teacher and your mother or father can help you figure out what
gifts from God you have... because you all have them....


* HYMN: "We Praise You O God"                                      - VU 218


* PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
   Dear Father in heaven   we thank you for your gifts -- for making
   us special -- for giving us abilities and talents -- that make us
   strong -- and make your church strong.  Help us to discover the
   gifts -- that you have given us -- and to use them each day -- 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


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


ST ANDREW'S THIS WEEK


ANTHEM


A READING FROM I CORINTHIANS 12:1-11
   (NIV)  Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be
   ignorant. {2} You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you
   were influenced and led astray to mute idols. {3} Therefore I tell you
   that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be
   cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy
   Spirit. {4} There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
   {5} There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. {6} There
   are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in
   all men. {7} Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given
   for the common good. {8} To one there is given through the Spirit the
   message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the
   same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts
   of healing by that one Spirit, {10} to another miraculous powers, to
   another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to
   another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another
   the interpretation of tongues. {11} All these are the work of one and
   the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

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


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 36 (VU 762 and Sung Response)


A READING FROM EXODUS 35:20-29
   (NIV)  Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses'
   presence, {21} and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him
   came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of
   Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. {22} All
   who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewellery
   of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments.  They all
   presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. {23} Everyone who
   had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram
   skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. {24} Those
   presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering
   to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work
   brought it. {25} Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought
   what she had spun - blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. {26}
   And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat
   hair. {27} The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be
   mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. {28} They also brought spices
   and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the
   fragrant incense. {29} All the Israelite men and women who were
   willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the
   LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

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


* HYMN:  "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"                      - VU 264


SERMON:  "To Each - Different Gifts - For the Common Good"

   Lord, speak in this time and place - in the calming of our minds
   and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
   thoughts that we form.   Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 
   Amen.

I would like to conduct a little poll here today   consisting of two
questions.   You have to wave your hands in the air to vote.   You can
wave one hand, or both, to indicate your favour.  Let's practice.  
Question one -- Who would like to hear me really sing out today --- to
really let go and put all of myself into a hymn, or better yet, into a
solo....   Come on -  put up your hands if you would like that....

Now - put up your hands if you would rather  -- BOB OR BRUCE -- BARBARA
or NOLA - or just about anyone else sing.

The reason I conducted this straw poll is to make a point.
A point about gifts and about how we regard them and how we regard
ourselves.

That point is this - some gifts we have - and some we don't.
Wisdom consists of knowing what gifts we have - and exercising them,
and equally wisdom consists of knowing what gifts we don't have - and
encouraging others who do have them to use them.

I sometimes wish - as I am sure some of you wish - that I had the gift of
music - that I could sing and play and lift up the hearts of all those
around me with song - but  I do not.  I also wish I had the gift of a
photographic memory and gift of being handy with machines and wood and
tools - but I do not.

By times these wishes have caused me problems.
They have focussed my mind and my heart on what  I do not have.
They have led me to feel inferior - incapacitated - unable -

But at other times these wishes have led me in the opposite direction,
they have led me to wonder what gifts  I do have,
they have led me to wonder how God has gifted me
and what it is that God has prepared for me to do.

In the twelfth chapter of the First Letter to The Corinthians, the Apostle
Paul speaks at length about gifts and about how we should regard them.  He
also discusses how we should regard our own giftedness and the giftedness
of others.

It is an important chapter - and I want to deal with the first part of it
this morning - the part that asserts that there are a variety of gifts and
of services and of activities - and that each person is gifted with some
assortment of these gifts - and that these gifts are a manifestation of
the Holy Spirit that is in us - a manifestation that is given for one
purpose - and that is for the common good.

   Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want
   you to be uniformed....  To each is given the manifestation of the
   Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit the
   utterance of wisdom, and to another the utter of knowledge
   according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit,
   to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the
   working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the
   discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to
   another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are activated by
   one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just
   as the Spirit chooses.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
The spirit allots to each one individually, just as the Spirit chooses.

What gifts do you have?
What gifts do you rejoice in - in yourself - and in others?
Is it the gift of praying for others?  
The gift are caring?  
The gift of service?  
The gift of praise?

Some gifts, my friends, are glorious in appearance and dramatic in their
effect.  They are easy to identify and easy to praise.

Other gifts are more subtle, more ordinary in appearance, and have their
impact over the long term rather than in the instant and often they fail
to receive the recognition they deserve.

My home church on the West Coast - Trinity United in Nanaimo - was a bit
like the church in Corinth that Paul wrote to in Corinth.

In it we had people with the highly visible gifts of prayer and prophecy, 
   and others had the gifts of tongues 
       and still others the gift of proclamation and of wisdom,
while still others had the gift of inspired music and of singing,
   and they could set a meeting room on fire fairly quickly
       and inspire those around them to new heights of commitment to God
and make them feel new levels of enthusiasm for doing the mission of
Christ in the world.

And in that church too we had many quieter people,
less visible people,
who had different gifts.

Some wrote cards to those who were having birthdays,
   others made visits to the elderly and to those who were shut-in.
Some turned on the lights and welcomed those entered the church,
   others fixed the copy machine and ploughed out the lane when it
   snowed.
Some touched the hands of the feeble and helped them to go up the stairs,
   others baked and cooked for those who were bereaved.
Some typed and filed and drove kids to hockey games,
   others built and painted and furnished. 
Some looked after the babies in the nursery and played with the children
in the back yard
   and others wrote skits for people to perform on White Gift Sunday.
Some prepared minutes and agenda and newsletters to help the congregation,
   and others prayed quietly every day for the minister and the elders
   and all the folk of the church.

As I think about it all, I know which  gifts seemed more glorious to me at
the time I was there, when I was younger and more foolish than I am hope I
am now.

But I also know that without all the gifts that were offered our church
would never have grown and that the ministry of Christ in our community
would never have touched as many lives as it did.

The tabernacle of God today, as in the days of Moses, 
requires both fine linen, and leather, 
gold - and bronze
gemstones - and goat's hair.
Each has it's place.   
Each is needed for the worship of God - and for serving God.

   Over the Christmas holidays a friend of mine in Quebec got himself
   and his family a dog.  The dog is 7 months old - she is a puppy
   actually, but being a Great Pyranese, she is a good size - she is
   already 22 kilograms, and will end up being about 50 kilograms when
   she is full grown.

   Anyhow, this rather large pup was walking along one day recently
   and decided that she had an itch that needed scratching, and that
   itch was only accessible to her back leg.  So, while walking, she
   picked up her leg to scratch.  And fell over. 

So, what has that got to do with the gifts that we have, 
the gifts that God has given us? 

A great deal actually.

The tabernacle of God's presence - the church - you and I together
needs all it's legs 
   - and more - we need those legs to be coordinated, to be in agreement,
   to work together freely - gladly - and without argument about which is
   more important or which is less important.

We need the leg of prophetic utterance and the leg of biblical teaching
and the leg of inspired prayer and the leg of administration.

We need the leg of letter writing and the leg of mechanical ability and
the leg of visitation and the leg of "eat, its good for you" and the leg
of quiet companionship.

We need all the legs 
- all the parts that God has made, 
- all the gifts that God has distributed among his people.  

We need the contribution that each person has been gifted with by God 
- and we need that contribution to be offered willingly 
- and we need those charged with receiving that contribution in God's
name, and that's you and I again, to receive it without questioning it's
worthiness - without questioning the giver - without questioning the
motives..... 

Each gift is important - and we want our brothers and sisters to give
willingly - we need our brothers and sisters to give willingly - for
without them - we will fall down!

My friends - when each one of us knows what gift God has granted to us
and uses that gift as God wants us to use it 
   - in the task of walking together - of working together - to do the
   ministry Christ has called us to - 
we will be healthy and whole as both a community and as individuals,
and this church will shine with the joy of God's presence
you will shine with the joy of God's presence.

But if we allow ourselves to become distracted 
   - if we stop doing what we are supposed to being and begin to scratch
   the itches that crop up here and there in our life together, 
   - if  we forget what we are about and whose we are in the first place 
we will all suffer - as a community - and as individuals - and it will be
dark and cold in this place.

We need to claim and celebrate what God has given to us individually, and
exercise that manifestation of God's Spirit within us for the good of all.
without worrying or fretting about what others are or are not doing, and
about what others may or may not think about our relative importance.

I know that each one of you today has something very special in your
hearts - something that has been placed there by God, something that is
beautiful and good and precious in his eyes, something that is of vital
importance to our church, our community, and our world.

You all have gifts.  Claim the gifts - open them up - celebrate them.
And then use them - offer them freely - without worrying whether or not
your gift is greater than or less than someone else's.

You are worthy - and your gift is worthy - for God has made, and God is
the one who gave you, the very thing you have to offer to his praise and
his service in this, his tabernacle - in this, his world.

Blessed be his name, now and always.  Amen


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God we thank you - we thank you for what you given unto us.  We thank you
for the abilities and talents that we know we have, and for those that we
do not believe we have - but which those who love us tell us we have. 
Help us, Dear God, to accept the manifestation of you Spirit in our lives,
help us to use, in faith and in trust, the gifts you have given us,
and by them, and by the different gifts that we see in our brothers and
sisters, build up our church and minister to our community....   Lord,
hear our prayer..

Father we thank you for calling us together as a one body - one church -
and giving to us severally the gifts we need to care for each other, and
for our world - and for you.  We pray today, O God, for  our church - for
its members - and for their family members - and for the community we live
in - the world we live in - and to which we are called to show your
healing love and saving power....  BIDDING PRAYER ... 
Lord Hear Our Prayer

We pray to you, most loving one, in the name of your most beloved Son
Christ Jesus our Lord, he who is our Saviour, our Brother , and our
Friend, both now and forevermore.  Amen


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) & Prayer of
Dedication

   Loving Father -- we thank you for your many gifts to us.  We know,
   O Lord, that you have given them to us for a reason.  We know that
   you have given them to us because you love us.  As a sign of our
   thankfulness and our love, we - like the people of Israel of old,
   now bring before you in these tithes and offerings and pray that
   you will use them - and us - in your service.  May your light may
   shine forth from this tabernacle of your presence into all the
   world.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "It Only Takes A Spark To Get A Fire Going"     - VU 289


* 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 the fullness of Gods blessings be upon you,
- may God fill your hearts with joyful hope 
   and your minds with caring wisdom, 
- may God make you cheerful and loving givers 
   of that which he has given you
- may God strengthen your hands for works of compassion, 
- may God grace your mouth with healing words, 
- and may God bring alive the riches of his grace in you 
and through you to all people - both now and forevermore.  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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