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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 25 - Proper 20 - Year C
I Timothy 2:1-7; Psalm 79; Luke 16:1-13
"Peaceful and Quiet Lives"



READING:  I Timothy 2:1-7; Psalm 79; Luke 16:1-13 
SERMON :  "Peaceful and Quiet Lives"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or25su 101948

    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: Some words on praying for terrorists from Paul Kabo via a
    note to the PRCL List by Chris Lockley, lockley1@BIGPOND.COM, on
    Sept 21 2001.   Much of the Prayers of The People are quoted from a
    prayer by Max Lucado in the week following the September 11th 2001
    Terrorist Attack on the US.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

     
* WORDS OF WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP   (based on Psalm 113:1-4)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Praise the Lord!  Give praise, oh servants of the Lord
P  Praise the name of the Lord.  
   Blessed be the name of the Lord 
   from this time on and forevermore.
L  From the rising of the sun to its setting 
   the name of the Lord is to be praised.
P  Praise the Lord who is high above all nations 
   whose glory above the heavens.


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Loving and Gracious God, bless us with new strength and wisdom so that we
might live up to the calling to which you have called us.  We know, O
Lord, that there are forces in this world committed to hell and
destruction - but we know too that there is an even greater force in this
universe committed to love and eternal life.  Help us turn to you and to
abide in you.  Grant that power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead may
also be in us and that we may be a people like him in every way.   We
thank you Father for  giving a living hope to us and to our world.  Praise
and glory be to you, both now and forever.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Give Thanks"                     - VU 179


CHILDREN'S TIME
Theme     Praying for Everyone
Object    flip chart - pen
Source    Self

All over the world in the past few days, men and women, boys and girls
have gathered together to  to pray for peace and to pray for those who
died - and all those who have been touched - by the events in New York and
Washington on September 11th.   And every day - alone - or in groups,
people pray to God as part of their walk of faith.  And today, we here in
this congregation, are going to pray for you - and for your Sunday School
teachers and helpers as we covenant together to learn more about Jesus,
and to help one another in his name, and to worship God week by week.  And
that got me to thinking, that stuff about how everyone is going to pray,
it got me to thinking about the things we should pray for.  So I am going
to ask your help today to make a list of the kinds of things we can pray
about - and the kinds of things we should pray about.  So - give me a hand
- and I will write down what you say....  What and who should we pray
about......      Make List!

The Apostle Paul said that all of us ought to pray for everyone - and that
we should especially remember to pray for our rulers and leaders and
everyone who has authority over us - be they teachers - or parents - or
policemen, or politicians, or judges.   And that we should give thanks
when we pray for them - and when we pray for things like peace - and food
for everyone - and for a world that is fair and good for  all people
everywhere.   And so we shall.....


COVENANTING PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER (not responsive)
   Let us pray    We ask your blessing upon our congregation and,
   within it, upon our Church School - its leaders and teachers, its
   helpers and its students.   Bless too the parents and guardians of
   our children that they may draw closer to you and to one another.  
   Hear too, O Lord, our prayers for all those people and all the
   situations which have been  lifted up here before you this morning,
   those things written on this board,  and make us ever more faithful
   disciples and apostles.  We ask it the name of Jesus, saying
   together the prayer he taught us....

   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:  "Tell Me The Stories of Jesus"                            - VU 357



THIS WEEK AT ST. ANDREW'S
- Welcome and Announcements  
- Birthdays and Anniversaries   
- Special Matters   
- Sharing Joys and Concerns
   

A READING FROM II TIMOTHY 2:1-7
   (NRSV)  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers,
   intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, {2} for kings
   and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and
   peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. {3} This is right and is
   acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, {4} who desires everyone to
   be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. {5} For there is
   one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ
   Jesus, himself human, {6} who gave himself a ransom for all --this was
   attested at the right time. {7} For this I was appointed a herald and
   an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the
   Gentiles in faith and truth.

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


RESPONSIVE PSALM READING:  Psalm 112 (Voices United 834)


A READING FROM LUKE 16:1-13
   (NRSV)  Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who
   had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was
   squandering his property. {2} So he summoned him and said to him,
   'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your
   management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' {3} Then the
   manager said to himself, 'What will I do, now that my master is taking
   the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am
   ashamed to beg. {4} I have decided what to do so that, when I am
   dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' {5} So,
   summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How
   much do you owe my master?' {6} He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive
   oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it
   fifty.' {7} Then he asked another, 'And how much do you owe?' He
   replied, 'A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your
   bill and make it eighty.' {8} And his master commended the dishonest
   manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age
   are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the
   children of light. {9} And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by
   means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome
   you into the eternal homes. {10} "Whoever is faithful in a very little
   is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is
   dishonest also in much. {11} If then you have not been faithful with
   the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? {12}
   And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who
   will give you what is your own? {13} No slave can serve two masters;
   for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted
   to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

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


* HYMN:  "Teach Me God, To Wonder"                                 - VU 299


SERMON: "Peaceful and Quiet Lives"

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and in 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.

Paul tells us today - in the reading from his first letter to Timothy that
peaceful and quiet living - in all godliness and holiness - is good and
pleasing to God - who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge
of the truth.

I think that I can safely say all persons of good sense want peaceful and
quiet lives.
- Even if not all do not want their lives to be distinguished by Godliness
and holiness.
- Even if not all do not believe that there is one God 
- Even if not all believe that there is one mediator between God and
humankind,
- Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

But how do we achieve that state of peacefulness and quietness?

How do we - as believers in Christ - help bring about the necessary
conditions for peace?

How do we help bring about quietness - not just within ourselves 
- but within the political and social environment in which we live?

In the wake of the Terrorist Attack on the US on September 11th and given
the resulting preparations for some form of war on the ground and in the
air to combat terrorism - peaceful and quiet living seems increasingly
unlikely - both in the short term and in the long term.

There is a lot of noise out there right now -
- the noise of sabres being rattled and jet engines winding up - 
- the noise of airport security wands beeping over things as innocent as
nail files
- the noise of the media calling for more and better security 
- the noise of people in the streets calling both for justice and for
revenge
- the noise of crowds deploring both the attack on the US and vowing to
fight with - or against - America, - the noise of spin doctors and special
interest groups wondering what it all will mean to us and to others around
the world in terms of lives yet to be lost and in terms of disruption to
our economies, our jobs, and our prosperity, ours - and that of the less
privileged nations and peoples of our world.

How do we - help bring about the conditions in which we may live peaceful
and quiet lives?  We - and the rest of the world about us?

Well there is no easy set of things that we can do that will guarantee
peaceful and quiet living throughout the world - there are far too many
people in every generation and in every place in the world who fear 
neither God nor man - but there are still things we can do - things that
will bring peace and quiet to our own hearts - and increase the amount of
peace and quiet within the world.

Let us return to that passage from which I have been quoting the words
regarding quiet and peaceable  living and see them in context.   Paul
writes:

   First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers,
   intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings
   and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and
   peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.  This is right and is
   acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to
   be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth

First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high
positions....

How is your prayer life?  
Who have you included in your prayers lately?

Perhaps you, like many throughout the world, over the last 12 days have
prayed for the victims of the terrorist attacks.  Perhaps - as we did
together last Sunday - and then again Monday night at the Community Prayer
Service - you have prayed for peace.   Perhaps you have even prayed for
justice.   

But have you specifically prayed for our nation's leaders - for our Prime
Minister and his cabinet - for our government?  And have you prayed for
President George Bush and the American government whose every action
affects the world?

Perhaps you have.  I know many of who have done so.

But what about prayers for folk like Saddam Hussein, 
and the leaders of the IRA and Hamas - or even Osama bin Laden?

It is so easy to pray only for our families - to pray only for those we
love - or for those we feel sympathy for  - those we wish to help.   But
it is a much harder thing to pray for those we regard as our enemies - or
the enemies of our people.

Yet this is a gospel imperative.  

First and foremost, the second chapter of  First Timothy begins with a
stress that the church, that Christians pray for everyone. 

If you want to say this beginning from the negative side of things, you
would say that NOBODY is exempt or outside the sphere of prayer.  There is
not a person for whom you cannot pray - and should not pray!  

And then Paul specifies that we should pray for kings and all who are in
high positions - those in positions of authority - stating two things
about it - 
   - the first is that we should pray for them so that we may lead quiet
   and peaceable lives in all godliness and dignity. 
   - And the second that this is right and is acceptable in the sight of
   God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and come to a
   knowledge of the truth.

Our prayers are important.
Our prayers make a difference.

So how do we pray for the leaders of terrorism today? 
Do we pray only that they be brought to justice? 
Is that what Jesus himself had in mind when he said to his disciples, love
your enemies,
   bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use
you?

I think not.

Remember when Jesus uttered those words the dominant power in the world at
that time was not adverse to lining the road into Jerusalem with thousands
of crosses, thousands of tortured bodies.

Nor let us that at the time Paul wrote that we should pray for kings and
all those in authority that the king and those in authority were already
busy killing the followers of Jesus.  Paul himself was put to death by the
Roman authorities - and Peter - and later most of the other disciples - 
were tortured and executed.

I believe that just as Jesus said on the cross  "Father, forgive them,
they know not what they do"
- and Paul urged pray for the very rulers that ordered his death
so we are to pray for those folk who seek to destroy us 

I do believe that terrorists need to be brought to justice,
that criminals need to face the consequences of their actions.

And in the word's of President Bush on Thursday night I too believe that 

   Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, 
   and... that God is not neutral between them. 

But that does not exclude praying that those who live and rule by fear 
may instead rule with wisdom and gentleness,
or that those who are cruel and full of hatred may turn and become men and
woman of justice and love.

As I said on Monday night at Sacred Heart 
- the real battle we face is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, 
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  

And that battle is fought in our own hearts.

An old adage says that prayer doesn't change things - it changes people -
and people change things.

We are called to pray for everybody - for kings and all those in authority
-
so that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives
for that is pleasing to God, who desires that all people be saved and come
to the knowledge of the truth.

So what does this mean about how we should respond to the call to arms
that has been issued by President Bush and the American Government - a
call that many Canadians believe should be taken up by our country?

I find in myself two equally powerful urges.

The first is to eagerly welcome and support any and all means to end
terrorism.
Just as would I welcome the force that the police use to stop a madman
from killing people on our streets
so I welcome the use of force to prevent a group - or a nation - from
terrorizing my neighbours.

And the second urge is to turn to the radical pacifism that seems to be a
part of the way of Jesus,
   the Jesus who resisted the urging of his disciples to be a Messiah
like David 
   to be one who by force of arms would cast the Romans into the sea.
And to use every spiritual means - every physical means - to show love and
kindness to those who would destroy me - to use every means to make
friends with them.

A wild and surely silly suggestion was made this past week by an American
preacher that indeed the  USA should mobilize and bomb Afghanistan 
   - but that they should bomb it with food, and money and medical
   supplies all wrapped in US flags to show every citizen there that the
   USA is their friend  
   - and that then the USA should invade that country with armies of men
   and woman armed only with shovels, irrigation pipes, seeds, building
   supplies, and their personal bibles and prayers - and then let the
   folk in that country do to that army whatever they want to do.

Which urge is the right one?  
- To support what surely will be a violent police-like action of a nation
or group of nations to bring the terrorists to justice - or justice to the
terrorists (as President Bush stated this week)?
- Or the urge to pour out our wealth, our time, and perhaps our lives -
upon those people and those nations who seem to hate us - and in
particular to hate our neighbours to the south?

I suspect - indeed I believe - it is both that are right.

In the gospel reading today Jesus urges us to make friends with all
persons by using all the worldly means that we have at our disposal - so
that when they are gone - so when our riches - our homes - our very lives
- are over - we might be welcomed by God into heaven.

It is a strange story - a strange parable - that ends with words that are
not so strange,
words about our loyalties - words about who we serve.

   No servant can serve two masters.   Either they will hate the one
   and love the other, or they will be devoted to the one and despise
   the other.   You cannot serve both God and Money.

All that we have is God's.   We are called to use it to make friends,
friends for ourselves - and friends for God.

In these times President Bush is calling upon his nation, his people, to
make sacrifices,
perhaps even the ultimate sacrifice - for the sake of peace - for the sake
of justice.

His words were good.  
Especially as he talked about how Islam is not our enemy - nor the Arab
peoples.  
And especially too as he spoke of "patient justice"
And as he spoke about how we are in a fight for our principles, 
   and how our first responsibility is to live by them. 

Our God also calls us to live by our principles,
the principles he has shown us in the person of Christ Jesus
and in the words of our holy book.
 
Our God also calls to make sacrifices for the sake of justice 
   - for the sake of living quiet and peaceable lives,
the sacrifice of sharing the wealth that this earth affords us in such
unequal measure,
the sacrifice of sharing the caring we do for ourselves and our families
with strangers 
- and even with our enemies.

And our God also calls us to prayer - for everybody 
- and especially for kings and those in authority.

May we indeed seek to make friends by use of all the means at our
disposal.
And may we pray that all people may be friends - and be blessed
abundantly.

Praise be to God and to Christ Jesus our Lord,
- who, while we were still enemies of God, gave himself for us.  
May his light dawn in every heart - both now - and forever.  Amen


* HYMN:  "God, Whose Almighty Word"                                - VU 313


THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (from Max Lucado)
Our prayer today is taken in part from a prayer written by Max Lucado last
week.  It speaks to my heart - and it speaks to the heart of God.   Let us
pray....   

Dear Lord, we're still hoping we'll wake up.  We're still hoping  we'll
open a sleepy eye and think, "What a horrible dream."   But we won't, will
we, Father? What we saw was not a dream.  Planes did gouge towers.  Flames
did consume a mighty fortress.  People did perish.  It was no dream and,
dear Father, we are sad.   We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are
buried, our innocence is buried as well.  We thought we were safe. Perhaps
we should have known better. But we didn't.  And so we come to you.  We
don't ask you for help; we beg  you for it. We don't request it; we
implore it.  We know what you can do.  We've read the accounts.  We've
pondered the stories and now we plead, "Do it again, Lord. Do it again."

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. 
Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel
of death.  We have children, too, Lord.  Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them.   Joshua? Remember his
fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb?  You resurrected their
hope.   The doubts of Thomas? You took them away.   Do it again, Lord. Do
it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king's counsellor.  You took
Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle.  Because of you, David
went from leading sheep to leading armies.  Do it again, Lord, for we need
counsellors today, Lord.  We need apostles. We need leaders.  Do it again,
dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary.  What we saw here on a
Tuesday, you saw there that Friday.  Innocence slaughtered.  Goodness
murdered.  Mothers weeping.  Evil dancing.  Just as the smoke eclipsed our
morning, so the darkness fell on your Son.  Just as our towers were
shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.  And by dusk, heaven's
sweetest song was silent,  buried behind a rock.  But you did not waver, O
Lord.  You did not waver.  After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the
rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the
brightest Sunday.  Doit again, Lord.  Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity.  Christians are
praying with Jews.  Sikhs with Hindus.  Republicans are standing with
Democrats.  Skin colours have been covered  by the ash of burning
buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer.  The Enemy  sought to bring us
to our knees and succeeded.  He had no idea, however, that we would kneel
before you. And he has no idea what you can do....

Let your mercy be upon the President and Vice President of the United
States and their families. 
Bless our parliament and our Prime Minister.
Hear our prayers for leaders and those in authority around the world,
both those who are friends to us - and those who are not - that they may
be so.
Grant to them wisdom beyond their years and experience. 
Help them to rule in peace and to do justice and love mercy and walk
humbly with you.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years  you've used her
to heal a hurting world. 
Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Lord, hear our prayer....

Today O Lord, we recall as well those individuals and those events that
our brothers and sisters have asked that we remember before you... 
BIDDING PRAYER...Lord, hear our prayer....

In the name of Christ Jesus we make all our prayers to you.   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

   Receive O God all that we offer to you at this time - these tithes
   and gifts - our hearts and our minds - our words and actions. 
   Sanctify them and use them in your service.  We ask it in Jesus'
   name.  Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "O Jesus, I Have Promised"                      - VU 120


* 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,
And may God watch over you and keep you safe,
may God watch over your going in and your coming out
and guide you and strengthen you,
day by day,
now and forevermore.  Amen


CHORAL 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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