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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 26 - Year C
I Timothy 6:6-19; Psalm 91; Luke 16:16-31
"A Good Foundation For The Future"



READING:  I Timothy 6:6-19; Psalm 91; Luke 16:16-31 
SERMON :  "A Good Foundation For The Future"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
C-or26sesn 443800
                    
    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.
 

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP   (based on Psalm 146)
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  I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
P  I will sing praises to my God while I have being.
L  Blessed are those who have the God of Jacob and of Rachael 
   for their help.
P  Happy are those whose hope is in the Lord their God.
L  Our God sets the prisoners free; he opens the eyes of the blind 
   and he lifts up those who are bowed down.
P  The Lord cares for the stranger in the land 
   and sustains the widow and the orphan.
L  Our God loves the righteous, 
   but the ways of the wicked he brings to nothing.
             

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
- Welcome and Announcements  
- Birthdays and Anniversaries   
- Special Matters   
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


MUSIC AND SILENT PREPARATION


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Lord God -grace this time in which we gather as your Church - knit us 
closer together and help us to worship you in Spirit and in truth.  With 
our brothers and sisters around the world this day, fill us with the 
bread and the wine that truly satisfy and grant that we might become 
one in Christ Jesus our Lord - we ask it in his name.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You"                             - VU 232


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "The Bible Tells Us So"
Theme:    Helpful instructions
Object:   A Bible with a note  - and a Poster "Glad You Are Home"
Source:   Self and "The Gospel For Kids - Series C", Eldon Weisheit, 1979

Two mothers were shopping one afternoon.  Each had a child in school.  One
mother put this sign on the door for her child when he came home.  The
other mother put this little note for her child.

When the kids came home each found the message.  The one who saw the
poster thought "That's great.  Mom really thought about me.  I'm glad she
didn't leave just a little piece of paper for me."  The other child opened
the note.  It said "I have gone shopping and will be back by 4:00 o'clock. 
There is a snack for you in the refrigerator.   I love you -- Mom."  The
child who got the note knew where his mother was and when she would return. 
He also had something to eat.

Which was more helpful -- The flashy poster - or the little note????

Let us apply that idea to to the message we get from God...  Do you want a
flashy message?  Or a plain message that gives the information you need?

The bible reading you will look at today comes from a story that Jesus told
about a man who died and went to hell.  The man remembered his brothers
back on earth and asked Abraham to send Lazerus back to earth to warn them. 
But Abraham told him that his brothers could read what Moses and the
prophets had written.  But the man said that his brothers, like him, would
not read the bible - but if someone rose from the dead to warn them that
they would believe.  But Abraham said the flashy sign wouldn't work -
people who won't believe the Bible won't believe those who rise from the
dead either.

Jesus told this story so we would listen to him now.  We have his message
here in the Bible.  We use it each time we are here together.  It tells us
all that we need to know to enter heaven and to have a good live here as
well.  Some people don't like the simple message.  They think that the
Bible is a dull book.  They would rather have a miracle to prove God is
real.  But God does not have to prove he is real.  Instead he wants to tell
us that He loves us.  He wants to give us the information we need.  He
wants us to know him and believe him.  That's in the note He left for you.


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   Dear Lord God...

   And in the words Jesus 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:  "Jesus Loves Me" (or Youth Choir)                         - VU 365
  

A READING FROM I TIMOTHY 6:6-19   
     (NRSV)  Of course, there is great gain in godliness
     combined with contentment; {7} for we brought nothing into the world,
     so that we can take nothing out of it; {8} but if we have food and
     clothing, we will be content with these. {9} But those who want to be
     rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and
     harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. {10} For
     the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their
     eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and
     pierced themselves with many pains. {11} But as for you, man of God,
     shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
     endurance, gentleness. {12} Fight the good fight of the faith; take
     hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you
     made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. {13} In
     the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ
     Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good
     confession, I charge you {14} to keep the commandment without spot or
     blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, {15} which he
     will bring about at the right time--he who is the blessed and only
     Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. {16} It is he alone
     who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one
     has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
     {17} As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to
     be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but
     rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our
     enjoyment. {18} They are to do good, to be rich in good works,
     generous, and ready to share, {19} thus storing up for themselves the
     treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take
     hold of the life that really is life.

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


CHOIR ANTHEM: "Bringing In The Sheaves"


RESPONSIVE PSALM READING:  Psalm 91 (Voices United 807) & sung refrain


A READING FROM LUKE 16:19-31
     (NRSV)  "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple
     and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. {20} And at his
     gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, {21} who longed
     to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even
     the dogs would come and lick his sores. {22} The poor man died and was
     carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died
     and was buried. {23} In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked
     up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. {24} He called
     out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the
     tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in
     these flames.' {25} But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during
     your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like
     manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in
     agony. {26} Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has
     been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you
     cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' {27} He said,
     'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- {28} for I
     have five brothers--that he may warn them, so that they will not also
     come into this place of torment.' {29} Abraham replied, 'They have
     Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' {30} He said,
     'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they
     will repent.' {31} He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and
     the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises
     from the dead.'"

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


* HYMN:  "When Pain of The World"                                  - VU 598


SERMON:   "A Good Foundation"

     Lord of light - shine upon us.  God of love   fill our hearts
     with your wisdom.  Holy Spirit, bring yourself closer to us in my
     words and how we hear them, in our thoughts and how we think
     them.  Use this time - and use us to accomplish your good will. 
     Amen

The life we have here is not all that there is -  there is more to come,
and that more is based on - to a great extent - what we do here and now -
it is based on the kind of foundation that we build for ourselves with the
help of God.

The two scripture readings we heard today speak of the future life
     of what lies beyond this mortal coil,
and they do so most solemnly  -
     one with the story of Lazarus and the rich man - 
the other with a reminder of what it is we should be about, 
what we should be doing.

Reading from Timothy -

     As for you - pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
     endurance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith -
     take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called.... 

And again -

     As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to
     be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches,
     but rather on God who richly provides us with everyone for our
     enjoyment.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works,
     generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the
     treasure of a good foundation for the future, -- so that they may
     take hold of the life that really is life.

Pursue righteousness - godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness
set your hopes on God rather than riches
Do good, share with each other

Simple instructions - ones in fact contained in the Law and the Prophets
     yet how often do we go about building the foundation of our future
          using these instructions?

Think of the  story of Lazarus and the Rich man for a moment -
     
Lazarus, a poor beggar - ends up in heaven  
while the Rich man - ends up in hell.

And you know - what it all seems to come down to is that the rich man
failed to share even the crumbs that fell from his table with the beggar
who lay at his gate - he failed to have compassion for his neighbour.

The Law and The Prophets tell us - feed the hungry
     look after the widow and the orphan,
          do justice for the alien and the stranger in your land -
               take care of those who are suffering,
                    love God - and love your neighbour as yourself.

And is this heard by the rich man?  He probably thought so   but for some
reason or other the beggar at his gates did not seem to him worthy of his
attention - worthy even of the leftovers of his feast.
And how about us?

Do we even notice the poor people who are in community
let alone those who lie outside the gates of our nation?

As we consume fast food dinners and go out to nice restaurants and watch TV
shows like "Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous" and spend great sums on
Lotteries tickets so that we might become even richer - do we spare a
thought - let alone a few crumbs - a few dollars - to help those whose
sores  are fill of puss - whose bellies know little but dirty water and the
odd bit of bread that others have provided for them?

     There is a story told about a Texan who, after a lifetime of
     frustrated striving finally struck it rich in oil.  The first
     thing he did was go to Dallas and buy himself his dream outfit -
     boots, spurs, a 10 gallon hat, and all the trimmings - including
     a massive Cadillac with a set of Texas Longhorn horns mounted on
     the front end.  No sooner had he arrived home, however, than he
     had a heart attack and died.  His wife, conscious of his new
     found pride and joy, decided that the only appropriate things to
     do was to bury him with his new finery.  Accordingly a huge
     concrete vault was prepared  and a large crane put into place. 
     With his hat, his boots, and new togs on the body was placed
     behind the wheel of the Cadillac.  As the crane lifted the car
     and began lowering it into the vault one of the man's buddies
     nudged another standing close by and said "Man, that's living."

I am afraid that many people think that way -
     They think that life is all about living affluently,
          about having a VCR and TV, and a 4 wheel drive, and a cottage,
               and a nice funeral when you go.

But that isn't living my friends - that's dying.

Andrew Carnegie, who amassed a fortune of over 400 million dollars ended up
giving 99.5% of it away.  He said this about it - "the man who dies rich,
dies disgraced."

The bible seems to indicate to us - that not only does the rich man die
disgraced, he also ends up in hell, while the very people that the rich man
most likely despised, the poor beggars of our society, the welfare cases
that we so often talk down upon rather than help, the millions of children
in other nations who die each year for lack of basic sanitation and a bite
to eat, end up in heaven.

What are riches worth in the end?  Riches that have not been shared?
     
Some of you sitting here today are probably thinking - "this teaching of
Jesus doesn't apply to me.  I'm not rich - I don't have sumptuous feasts or
live in a mansion." And that may be.   But wealth is a relative thing - and
I dare say that most of us are rich beyond measure compared to 90% of the
world's population   and not doing too badly compared to about 40% of our
own society.

And what good will it do us in the end?  Unless we are first rich, as Paul
puts it in verses 18 and 19 of today's epistle lesson, unless we are rich
in good works, generous, and ready to share, and  thus have stored up for
ourselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future.

Some may say that is a hard teaching.  And it is.  
But, again using the words of Paul,  it is the way to take hold of the life
that really is life.

Jesus - in another place - tells us that a rich man is as likely to get
into heaven as a camel is to get through the eye of a needle.

Some interpreters of the bible say that what Jesus was referring to in this
passage was an ancient gate that went through the walls of Jerusalem and
into the city.  This gate they say was so small - that anyone who wanted to
pass  through it with his camel first had to get off the camel, then he had
to unload it, and then he had to have the camel kneel down and basically go
through the gate by repeated crouching down and rising up movements.

Others dismiss the idea of such a gate existing.  
But the message is clear 
- whether or not this gate actually existed or not - you cannot be attached
to your possessions, to your wealth and your pride and your position, and
hope to enter the Kingdom of God,
rather you have put these aside,
     you have to give them away,
     and get down from your high place
     and in an attitude of humility, 
then walk through the gate.

There are many who long to satisfy their hunger with what falls from our
tables.

And there is a time that comes to all
when we will be reduced to equality with those people
a time of dying 
a time of judgement -
and while the mercy of Christ is there for all who seek it,
it will not avail us much if we have not prepared ourselves,
if we have not laid a good foundation for the future,
a foundation based on the love of God and the love of our neighbours  
- all our neighbours, not just the ones we think worthy of our love.

     The story is told about a good deacon of a church who went out
     one day to paint his house.  He had obtained five gallons of
     white paint and began the job.   As he got to the third side of
     the house he noticed that he was running out of paint - so he
     added some turpentine to the remainder and kept on going.  On the
     final side of the house he noticed that he was running out again
     - so he added a bit more turpentine and succeeded in finishing
     off the house.  After the paint dried he noticed that  the last
     two sides of the house were streaky - the whole thing looked
     awful in fact.

     Being a religious man he bowed his head in prayer and asked God
     what he should do.  A voice came from heaven and said to him -
     REPAINT AND THIN NO MORE.

This too is the message of Christ for us.
He calls us to repent and sin no more.
We are called to repent of our unthought selfishness,
     - of our lack of even the most basic care for those who don't fit our
     concept of who is deserving,
     - of our tendency to judge things in such a way that we can ignore
     those are outside our gates.

Where is the grace of God in all this that I have said today?

It is in the fact that we can indeed enter the kingdom of God - that it is
God's good will for us.

As Paul wrote:

     As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to
     be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches,
     but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our
     enjoyment.

Set your hope in God,
and build a good foundation for the future,
by using what God has given for our enjoyment
to increase the enjoyment of others.

Visit the those who are sick.
Cloth those who are naked.
Feed those who are hungry.
Give a cup of cold water to those who thirst.
And bless God's name for the fact that God has made it possible for you to
show his love
and his grace to those who are in such deep need for it.

     The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was
     being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with
     Lazarus by his side.  He called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy
     on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and
     cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames."  But Abraham
     said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received
     your many good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things;
     but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  Besides all
     this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that
     those who might want to pass from her to you cannot do so, and no
     one can cross from there to us.  The rich man then said, "Then,
     father, I beg you to send him to my father's house - for I have
     five brothers - that he may warn them, so that they will not also
     come into this place of torment."   Abraham replied - "They have
     Moses and the prophets, they should listen to them."   The rich
     man said "No father Abraham, but if someone should rise from the
     dead, they will repent."  Abraham said to him  - "if they do not
     listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convince
     even if someone rises from the dead."

Listen my friends to Moses and the Prophets
Their message is the same as that of the one who rose from dead.
Listen - do what they have told us to do
and thereby build a good foundation for the future.

Blessed be God - day by day.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love"                      - VU 593


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Let us pray in silence and meditate on the grace and the goodness of our
God and upon our need to wake up to the message that he has delivered to
us....

Lord - your word tells us that there is great good in godliness combined
with contentment - that as we brought nothing into this world, so we can
take nothing out of it.  Help us dear Lord to be content with what we have
- to seek heavenly treasures rather than those things of this world which
rust corrodes and moths consume.  Grant that we might be people who share
the wealth that you have provided - that we might be ones who share both
the bread and wine of earth and the bread and wine of heaven...  Lord hear
our prayer...

Father - we especially pray today for those who like Lazarus are ignored or
neglected and left to suffer in our world - those who live in poverty
within our town and province - and those who lie in great suffering at the
gates of our nation.....   O God, bind your people together and make us
bright and shining witnesses to your compassion and your grace as they are
revealed in the law and the prophets and in Christ Jesus, the one you
raised from the dead....   Lord hear our prayer... 

Hear too, we pray, the petitions and the intercessions of our hearts for
those who govern and are in authority -- for those who lost in sin and
despair -- for those who need healing - and for those who seek to serve as
Jesus served.........  We especially hold before you today:

Lord hear our prayer....

We ask these things and we give you our thanks and praise - and our minutes
and our days - through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray as one
family, saying OUR FATHER....


* 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

     Lord God - Bless O God these tithes and offerings, a portion of
     the  riches you have given us for our pleasure and your work in
     this world, to your everlasting glory and praise.  Amen.


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


* 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 the blessing of the God of justice, 
	the Christ of compassion, 
	and the Spirit of wisdom and of power 
rest upon you all 
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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