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Sermon (2) and Liturgy for Ordinary 13 - Proper 8 - Year A
Romans 6:12-23 and Matthew 10:40-42
"Welcome In Christ's Name"

READING: Romans 6:12-23 and Matthew 10:40-42 SERMON : "Welcome In Christ's Name" Rev. Richard J. Fairchild a-or13sm 677000 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. The story within the sermon about the missionary came off the Net some years back and has no attribution attached to it. GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand) * WORDS OF WELCOME 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. SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SPECIAL MATTERS - Welcome and Announcements - Birthdays and Anniversaries - Special Matters - Sharing Joys and Concerns The Service today features a great deal of special music by a music team and is therefore arranged a bit differently than usual. After the announcements we will ask God's blessings on our worship time and continue on as indicated in the bulletin. The hymns will be projected on the large screen set up for today so you will not need your hymn books and should be able to join in on many of the songs with hands raised - or clapping - or whatever the Spirit moves you to. * HYMN: "Great is Thy Faithfulness" MUSIC TEAM * OPENING PRAYER Let us pray - Great indeed, O God, is your faithfulness. From generation to generation you keep your promises. You invite us to the table of your presence and feed us with the bread of heaven and the wine of eternal joy. You welcome all who turn to you and seek out those who are lost. We praise you and thank you for your gracious love and care. Bless, O God, this time of worship and anoint us with your Holy Spirit so that we may be as you are - so that we may be made like Jesus - and so bring eternal glory to your most Holy Name. Amen CONGREGATIONAL CHORUSES MUSIC TEAM -- I Will Enter His Gates -- I'm So Happy A READING FROM ROMANS 6:12-23 (NIV) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. L This is the Word of the Lord P Thanks be to God. CHILDREN'S TIME: "Welcome" Object: A "Welcome Mat" or Sign of the kind commonly found Theme: Opening our hearts and homes to others Source: Self The story is meant to have the children come up with answers to the questions.... Good morning.... Have you ever seen one of these? Where have you seen something like this? Usually we'd see a mat like this outside our homes and businesses. They have two purposes. Can you tell me what their purpose is? Well, if it's a mat, it's used to wipe the shoes off AND they are a sign to let people know that they are welcome. - What does "welcome" mean? - Are people always welcome in our homes? - Are they always welcome at businesses? - Do you think that people are always welcome at our church home? - How should we make people welcome? Let us try to do that always. PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER Dear Lord God - thank you for welcoming us - for making us a part of your family. - Help us to do those things that welcome others - and to show your love to your world. Amen. And in the words that Jesus taught us, let us pray: 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 SPECIAL MUSIC MUSIC TEAM CONGREGATIONAL CHORUS: "Everyday With Jesus" A READING FROM MATTHEW 10:40-42 (NIV) "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." L This is the Gospel of our Lord P Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ. SERMON: "Welcome In Christ's Name" Five years ago you welcomed Richard and I into your midst. In the five years that have passed you have welcomed us into your hearts, into your homes, and at your weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms and funerals. You have gathered us in at Christmas and Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving and a host of other times. You have shared yourselves; shared the fellowship of your table with us, offered us the fruits of your gardens, delighted us with the camaraderie of a good game of cards. But more than this - much more - you have ministered to us, offered the cup of cold water, and blessed and strengthened us when we had need. Today's gospel speaks eloquently of welcome: Jesus tells the disciples as he sends them out to announce the coming of the kingdom with acts and deeds and speech. He tells them and he tells us today: Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me also welcomes the one who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet, just because that person is a prophet, will be given the same reward as a prophet. Anyone who welcomes a good person, just because that person is good, will be given the same reward as a good person. And anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded. So - what does it mean to welcome? How do we do that here in this place? How do we make this House of God a home? How do we make these congregations a community of love, a family? These questions are questions that our faith community must wrestle with in the coming months. Through the stirring of God's Spirit we have been led to this time. It is an exciting time - a scary time - a time pregnant with opportunity, a time pregnant with suspense. It is God's time. It is our time. We are called to give. Called to give welcome. Called to give to God. And called to give as God gives. In abundance, using God's economy, God's accounting in faith, surrendering our wills to God's purpose. And we know that already. A poll conducted by Angus Reid for Southam News some time back now reported that 87% of Canadians feel a personal responsibility to make the world a better place. 87%! 87% of Canadians know that it is their responsibility to make the world a better place, to give abundantly, to surrender of themselves. So, we who worship and serve here, already know that the Lord calls us, calls us to self-giving love, calls us to welcome as a sign of that love. However, that same Angus Reid poll found that only 53% of Canadians do volunteer work on a regular basis, and more alarming, found that 42% of Canadians believe that nice guys finish last. Nice guys finish last! Jesus said, And whoever ... gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. I once read about a woman whose church group bought Christmas gifts for a missionary family. After meticulously selecting the presents based on the family's needs, sizes and ages, the group gathered to pack them. That's when another member whisked in and plopped an almost new man's coat on the table. Her husband didn't like the style. As she turned to go, she suggested that maybe one of the missionaries could use it. Several people were offended. The coat wouldn't fit anyone in the missionary family. Obviously, the woman hadn't given much thought or time to the project. But the other presents didn't completely fill the barrel they were packing. So someone folded the coat and stuck it in. It made perfect packing material After Christmas, a thank you letter arrived from the missionary family. They thanked the church for their many gifts - and especially for the "miracle" gift. It seems that, during a storm, a destitute man knocked on their door. He was so ill-dressed for the cold, they invited him to stay until the storm had passed. Even though their visitor would have no gifts in the barrel, they decided to open it. That's when they discovered the coat. It fit the man perfectly. Do such things really happen in this world? You betcha - all the time! You never know when you give that cup of cold water - that unneeded coat - how that gift may be used by God. NO GIFT GIVEN - NO WELCOME - IS EVER GIVEN IN VAIN. Jesus said, And whoever ... gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. Some people are afraid to give their money, their time, their talent, their life to God because they think they will lose what they give. Unfortunately they do not understand God's economy! They do not understand that God works differently, that God's ways are not our ways. Are you afraid to give? Do you think nice guys finish last? If you are and if you do perhaps God is working on your heart this morning, perhaps God is telling you to make room in your heart and mind for God's vision for you. Pray that it is so. Go ahead and answer God's call. Are we as a Christian community afraid to give? Do we think that there's no use - people aren't interested in what we have to give? Are we hiding in the shadows of a mean, inhospitable post-Christian world, huddled fearfully together with our little candles afraid to hold them high? Have we chosen to avoid the risks of discipleship, the risks of welcoming? These are good questions to ask ourselves. The practice of self-examination is an ancient and honourable one. The willingness to do an examination like this is a sign of spiritual maturity and bodes well for the future of our faith community. So - back to my original three questions. What does it mean to welcome? How do we do that here in this place? How do we make this House of God a home? How do we make these congregations a community of love, a family? If you're really swift this morning you will notice that there are really four questions. I ask you to remember them and take them home with you to reflect on. But I have a few suggestions before you do. FIRST, start thinking of the House of God in this place as HOME, as FAMILY. In the wedding services I'm privileged to attend, it is emphasized that a new family has been formed in the sight of God. This new family is called in covenant to a commitment of the will to love, honour, cherish and serve with faithfulness. "I WILL." say the bride and groom. Similarly in our baptisms and confirmations we are called in covenant to a commitment of the will. By our vows we have been formed into family. "I WILL." we say as we profess our faith. "WE WILL." we say as a family of faith at each new covenanting. We are a covenant people. It is time to live that covenant. SECOND, practice on each other the welcome and the hospitality that you offer from your own homes and families. Be genuinely concerned about each other's welfare. Soon you will find yourselves welcoming Christ in newcomers and strangers as well. For the word will spread that - in this place - a home, a family, God's people are to be found. THIRD, remember that you are needy too. Remember the need of God's grace, the need of forgiveness, the need of compassion, the need of loneliness that you have experienced. Remember how God, through this community, through this family, has met those needs. Receive these gifts, this hospitality, this welcome. They are signs of God's favour and bring healing and wholeness. Let yourself occasionally be the cherished guest, for Christ's sake and in his name. FOURTH and last, make a conscious effort to invite Jesus into your life and put him first. Make a conscious decision to reach out to those in want, to get involved. Yes, it costs. Our lives will be interrupted. Our privacy occasionally invaded. Our nerves frayed. Our patience tried. Yet, what we give up - our self-interested agendas - we will discover to have been really heavy burdens that we have been dragging around. The world is sore in need of smiles, is crying out for small acts of kindness, desperately longs for cups of cold water. WILL YOU? Will you, as Saint Paul said in our Romans reading this morning, give yourselves to God, as people who have been raised from death to life ... making every part of your body serve God, so that you will belong completely to him. Will you make God's House a Home? Will you give yourself to God in Christ's name? God longs to hear our answer. LET US PRAY (free form) (Rx - And in your Love Answer) Self Giving Love Welcoming others hospitable church reaching out church Blessings on those being married next week Prayers of the People Prayers for Canada * 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 O God - unto you we offer these gifts - bless them and use them and us in your service that this church might be a light leading the way to you and the salvation you offer freely to all. We ask it in Jesus' name. * HYMNS: "How Great Thou Art" and "He Is Lord" MUSIC TEAM * 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 AND THREEFOLD AMEN Go in peace - love and care for one another in the name of Jesus, - and may the holy God provide for you in mercy, - may Christ Jesus greet you as you welcome the stranger, - and may the Holy Spirit lead you in the ways of eternal life this now and for ever and ever. Amen * CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" - VU 964 copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2002 - 2005 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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