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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 27 - Year C
(World Wide Communion Sunday)
II Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
"A Litle Is A Lot"



READING:  II Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
SERMON :  "A Little Is A Lot"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
C-or27sesn 445801
                    
     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".  

     Note that the premise of my World Wide Communion liturgy is to use
     traditional and ancient prayer texts for the Eucharist, to use the
     Apostles' Creed as that creed which is subscribed to by almost all
     churches, and to be somewhat more formal and "liturgical" in style.
     The Sermon is on the Text of the Day, rather than on the World Wide
     Communion theme.
	 
     Sources:  Some sermon thoughts from Jerry Fuller (padre@TRI-
     LAKES.NET), "Homily 10/04 Faith and Duty", as sent to the PRCL List
     on October 3 1998.

     
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP  (based on Ephesians 3:12-20)
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  At one time we were without Christ 
   - aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.
P  We were strangers to the covenants of promise, 
   having no hope and without God in the world.
L  But now in Christ Jesus we who once were far off 
   have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ.
P  He is our peace; 
   in his flesh he has broken down the walls that divide us.
L  He came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off 
   and peace to those who were near.
P  Through him we have access in one Spirit to the Father.
L  We are members of the household of God 
   - built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, 
   with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  
P  He is our peace, our hope and our salvation. 


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


MUSIC AND SILENT PREPARATION


PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Let us pray -- Loving God, your steadfast love never ceases and your
mercies never come to an end.  Your touch turns deserts into pools of
living water.  As you embrace the land, its yield abounds.  With wisdom you
implant goodness and justice.  We proclaim your virtue.  We thank you for
breaking down the walls that divide us one from the other and the barriers
that separate us from you.  Be with us in this time of worship as we and
our brothers and sisters around the world lift up your most holy name; we
ask it through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  AMEN.


* HYMN:  "Praise To The Lord"                                      - VU 835


A READING FROM II TIMOTHY 1:1-14
   (NRSV)  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the
   sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, {2} To Timothy, my
   beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ
   Jesus our Lord. {3} I am grateful to God--whom I worship with a clear
   conscience, as my ancestors did--when I remember you constantly in my
   prayers night and day. {4} Recalling your tears, I long to see you so
   that I may be filled with joy. {5} I am reminded of your sincere faith,
   a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother
   Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. {6} For this reason I remind
   you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying
   on of my hands; {7} for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but
   rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. {8} Do not
   be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his
   prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the
   power of God, {9} who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not
   according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This
   grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, {10} but
   it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ
   Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light
   through the gospel. {11} For this gospel I was appointed a herald and
   an apostle and a teacher, {12} and for this reason I suffer as I do.
   But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust,
   and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have
   entrusted to him. {13} Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you
   have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
   {14} Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the
   Holy Spirit living in us.

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


PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L  Let us make our confession before the Lord our God.
P  Most merciful God,
   we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed;
   by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  
   We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
   we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.  
   We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
   ............... (silent prayer) ..............
L  For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us,
   that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory
   of your name.  Amen.
       
-- Sung Response (VU 948):  
   O Lord, hear my prayer.  O Lord, hear my prayer; when I call answer
   me.  O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer; come and listen
   to me.
          
-- Assurance of God's Love & Mercy
   Hear the Good News: Saint Paul writes to Timothy:  
   "Do not be ashamed of testifying to God, who saved us and called us
   with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of God's
   own purpose and the grace God gave us in Christ Jesus years ago"  

   By that grace we are saved.  Let us believe the good news of the
   gospel!  In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.  If you would have the
   fullness of joy that God has stored up for you, be you likewise
   gracious and forgiving.  Amen.


CHOIR ANTHEM: "Bringing in The Sheaves"


A READING FROM LUKE 17:5-10
   (NRSV)  The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" {6} The
   Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could
   say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it
   would obey you. {7} "Who among you would say to your slave who has just
   come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once
   and take your place at the table'? {8} Would you not rather say to him,
   'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and
   drink; later you may eat and drink'? {9} Do you thank the slave for
   doing what was commanded? {10} So you also, when you have done all that
   you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done
   only what we ought to have done!'"

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


* HYMN:  "Now The Green Blade Rises"                               - VU 186


SERMON:  "A Little Is A Lot"
      
   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

There is a legend from the Orient about a traveller making his way to a
large city.  One night he meets two other travellers along the road --Fear
and Plague.  

   Plague explains to the traveller that, once they arrived, they are
   expected to kill 10,000 people in the city.

   The traveller asks Plague if Plague would do all the killing.

   Oh, no.  I shall kill only a few hundred.  My friend Fear will kill
   the others.

Fear, whether real or imagined, can discourage us, overwhelm us, strangle
   us.  And fear is widespread in our society,
from the personal - fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear not being
   loved,
to the social - fear that war and disasters will gone on forever, fear that
   society will collapse, fear that the pollution will kill us, and so on
   and on.

And in the church too there is fear.  
The personal fears.  The social fears.  And the spiritual fears.  

There a lot of people who feel 
- that they are not able to do anything important 
- that they can not and do not make a difference to anyone,
- that they are unable even to do even a part of what it is that God asks
them to do,
- and that the great work that obviously needs to be done will never be
done, and that they will let God down, and that God will let them down.

Many Christian folk are in a mess,
   they have forgotten what their faith is  about
   they have forgotten what it is that God can accomplish.

Do these feelings describe your life - fear, despair, a sense of futility,
a sense of hopelessness?

Do you feel unexcited by your worship of the Lord?   Unsure of just what
the good news of the gospel is?  Burdened by life and by what is that God
asks of you?  And yet wanting to believe - wanting to do what is right -
wanting to have the life that God has promised us even in the here and now?

Wanting, and yet...

How can I feed the hungry?
How can I clothe the naked?
How can I bring peace to those around me?
How can I spread the gospel of Jesus Christ?
How can I forgive the people who have hurt me so badly?
How can I even experience the joy that is supposed to be part of life with
God, let alone help bring it to others?

The disciples experienced these feelings.  In our gospel reading today we
heard them cry out to Jesus a cry that perhaps you have made at one time or
another.

They felt that what they faced in life, let alone what they faced as ones
who wanted to follow Jesus, was too much for them, too much for their small
faith to handle and so they cry out to the Lord- "Lord - increase our
faith"

   "Lord, help us believe enough so that we can do what it is that you
   have commanded us to do - help us trust enough so that we can live
   as you say we should be living.  Lord, take away our fear."

And what does Jesus do - how does he answer their prayer?  

Does he lay his hands upon them and pray and give them more faith as they
asked?

Does he snap his fingers and grant them a double dose of his Spirit and his
Faith?

No my friends - he does not - instead he says to them 

   "if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this
   mulberry tree, 'be uprooted up and planted in the sea", and it would
   obey you".

A strange answer - but really the best answer that could be made 
because you see the issue for us all is not: "how much faith do we have?" 
but rather: "do we have any faith at all?"  

Let me tell you a story -.

   Many years ago shoe company sent one of its sales people to a far
   away country to start a business.  After a few months he sent back
   the message: "Coming home, nobody wears shoes here."  

   The same company sent another sales person to the same backward
   company in his place.  After a few months she wrote the home office
   this note: "Send more order forms - nobody wears shoes here."

The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation - not the
difficulty - and more - she believed in her product - and because of that
she succeeded where the first salesperson failed.

Faith is somewhat like pregnancy.  You simply can't make a valid
distinction between having a little faith and a lot of faith anymore than
you can claim that someone is a little bit pregnant but not really a lot
pregnant.

If we believe - even a little - even the smallest amount -
then my friends we are on the right track.

And I believe all of you here today are on the right track,
all of you asking - like the disciples asked - "increase our faith" -

Having said that and having understood the distinction between having faith
and not having faith - the question becomes for us not one of how much
faith we have, but what we have faith in.

Too many of us look at our selves instead of God.

We look at ourselves and we say - I can't do it.  I am not strong enough,
wise enough, loving enough, giving enough, I do not have the money, the
power, or the faith to succeed at what I am doing.

And that my friends is completely true - we are not able! We do not have
what it takes when it comes to dealing with what is truly important.

But my brothers and sisters in Christ - God has it - God is able,
And when we take hold of Him and believe in him,
even a very little,
his power is able to flow through us 
- and he will work through us what is his will to do.

We have all met people who have lived through very difficult times, and no
doubt many of us have thought about them that they must have had great
faith to come out of their tribulations as well as they have.

We may even have said to them - with respect and admiration: "I don't think
I could have faced what you have faced.  Your faith must be very great."

I have heard this said to people, and I have heard the answer that they
normally make.  They reply almost always with words like these:

   "My faith is no greater than anyone else's.  I just didn't know what
   I had until I needed it.  God helped me, if it wasn't for him I
   wouldn't have made it."

Haven't you heard this kind of thing yourselves?
Isn't it one of those occasions when we may have said to ourselves:
"I wish I had a faith like theirs"?

You know those people of faith that we admire are so right in what they
say.  We so often do not realize just what we have.  We let it lie dormant
in us - asleep in us  - and we go out looking for something else.  While
all the while - God is there - and our faith in God is there - doing very
little.

The good news of Jesus Christ covers all areas of human life,
    it speaks of forgiveness and peace and eternal life,
    it addresses the problems of poverty and of war
    it provides solutions to despair and answers to human distress.

But most of all my friends it tells us 
     that alone we can do nothing,
     that we are, as many of us think, incapable, inadequate,
         sinners lost in a dark world,
and then it tells us that we are not alone, that God cares
   that God works in the lives of those who believe in him
   that God's good purposes can't be thwarted, 
   that his word does not return to him empty,
   that he desires to transform not just the human heart 
   - but the world in which we live
   and that all we need to do is reach down to that little kernel, that
little seed within us and begin to do what it is that we have been called
to do and God will do the rest..

God will do the rest - that is his promise - 
God will work in us and through us and bring his word to pass.
He will pluck up the mountains and fill in the valleys.
He will bring about the kingdom that we pray for.

What I am saying to you today is not - "have more faith" - but rather - 
"work with the faith that you already have".

My friends, when we start acting in faith the very first thing we discover
is that a little is a lot.

The Chinese proverb tells us that the journey of a thousand miles begins
with one step.

I am saying - take the step; follow the commands of God 
- heed his advice found throughout the scriptures 
and believe - that what God has promised will come about.

Remember - no matter how small the step the step you take you are get
closer to your destination when take it.  But you have to take the step,
you have to start claiming God's word as your own if you are to receive
what God has promised and do what God has called you to do.  

When you practice the faith,
   when you pray, when you believe and when you do,
      then, in the language of the story that I began with,
you will overcome - God will overcome - plague and his far more dangerous
companion - fear, and the blessings of life will be more completely yours,
yours and the world's.

Praise be to God, day by day - AMEN


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Let us pray    Welcoming God, we pray for the Church, that it might be a
house of welcome for all people.  Move in us so that we might indeed stand
upon the promises you have made to us and help us to use the faith we
already have to do that which you will for us.  Help us to pray, to listen
to your word, to believe in your power, and to do what you would have us
do... Lord hear our prayer....

Lord, as we consider today your church around the world and commune with
them and with you at your table and in your spirit, we thank you for all
the people we meet in this church and in your church beyond these doors. 
We thank you for those who pray and those who laugh; for those who teach
and those who sing; for those who look like us and those who are different;
for those who are young and those who are old.  We praise for the diversity
we have - the uniqueness that each member of your body brings to the whole,
and we ask that you might help us always to be understanding and loving
towards all who call upon your name - and also to those who do not - those
who are in greater need than us...  Lord hear our prayer...

God of justice and peace, we pray for the world you have given us as our
home...  We pray too for our leaders that they may have wisdom and govern
with care for all....   Lord, we pray as well for those who are sick,
anxious or sorrowing; for those who have no homes or no jobs; for those who
lack food; for those who are plagued by addictions; for those who feel
unwelcome, for those caught in the tragedy of war or natural disaster... 
Lord hear our prayer...

Finally Lord we pray for ourselves and for those who were named before you
this day by their brothers and sisters in this place... BIDDING PRAYER
... Lord, hear our prayer...

All our praise and petitions - our adoration and our asking - we offer to
you, O Most Gracious God, through Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forevermore.  Amen!


MINUTE FOR MISSION
World Wide Communion Greetings from around the world.


* 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

   Gracious God, you offer life to us in one who came to serve.  With
   our brothers and sisters around the world, grant us such faith that
   we will seek good and maintain justice.  As we dedicate these
   offerings to you, so bind us together at our Lord's table and stir
   the gifts You have placed in us that we might truly serve you and
   magnify Your Holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  AMEN.


* SHARING THE PEACE  We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word.
    
     
* HYMN:  "Walls That Divide"                                       - VU 691
          

COMMUNION LITANY
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to  the Lord.   
L  Let us give thanks to our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

         
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (based on the Prayer of Hippolytus)
L  We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Servant, Jesus Christ, 
   he whom you sent to save and redeem us and to be the messenger of your
   will.  
P  He is your Word, inseparable from you, 
   through whom you made all things and in whom you take delight.
L  We praise you, O Lord, for how you sent him from heaven into the
   Virgin's womb, where he was conceived, and took flesh.  
P  Born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin, 
   he was revealed to us as your Son.
L  We thank you for how, in fulfilment of your will, he stretched out his
   hands in suffering to release from suffering those who place their hope
   in you. 
P  In doing so he won for you a holy people .
L  We recall O God, how of his own free choice Jesus was handed over to
   his passion in order to make an end of death and to shatter the chains
   of the evil one and to trample underfoot the powers of hell.
P  We thank you for how he gave himself to lead us into your light, 
   to establish the boundaries of death and to manifest the resurrection.

         
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
L  So it is as we gather in praise and thanksgiving at this time, we
   remember how on the night before his passion he took bread and gave you
   thanks, saying: "Take and eat: this is my body which will be broken for
   you."  We recall as well how, in the same way, when the meal was over,
   he took the cup, and gave it to his disciples, saying: "This is my
   blood, which will be shed for you.  When you do this, you do it in
   memory of me."
P  Lord, as we have been commanded, 
   and remembering the death and the resurrection of your Son, 
   we offer you this bread and this cup, 
   thankful that you have counted us worthy to serve you.
 
        
PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
L  We entreat you to send your Holy Spirit upon the offering of your holy
   Church making it for us, communion in the body and the blood of Jesus
   Christ our Saviour.  
P  Father, gather into one all who share in these sacred mysteries, 
   filling them with the Holy Spirit 
   and confirming their faith in the truth, 
   that together we may always praise you and give you glory 
   through your Servant, Jesus Christ, 
   he who taught us to pray together as one family singing...
  
THE LORD'S PRAYER (SUNG)


THE SHARING OF THE ELEMENTS:   The congregation is invited to come forward up
                               the centre aisle, then return to their seats by
                               the side aisles
   * INVITATION *
   Friends, this is the Table of our Lord.  
   Come, not because you are strong, but because you are weak. 
   Come, not because of any goodness of your own, 
      but because you need God's mercy and help. 
   Come, because you love the Lord a little 
       and would like to love Him more. 
   Come, because Christ loves you and gave Himself for you.  
   May God bless you as we celebrate our love of Christ 
       and our fellowship with Christians throughout the world and down
       through the ages this day.


WORLD WIDE CONFESSION OF FAITH: THE APOSTLES CREED (after communion)
L  With the church of Jesus Christ around the world today, let us confess
   our common faith:
         
P  I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; 
   and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, 
   who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, 
   suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
         
   He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead;
   he ascended into heaven, 
   and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; 
   from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
          
   I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the
   communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of
   the body: and the life everlasting.
 
    
* HYMN:  "Faith of Our Fathers"                                    - VU 580
               

* 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's arms surround you and embrace you, 
may the Spirit fill your hearts with truth, beauty, and love, 
and may Christ Jesus our Lord walk with you and guide your every step
both now and for evermore.  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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