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Sermon (2) and Liturgy for Ordinary 32 - Proper 27 - Year A
Joshua 24:1-3a,14-25; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
(Remembrance Day Sunday)
"A Time of Remembrance, A Time of Decision"

READING:  Joshua 24:1-3a,14-25; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
SERMON :  "A Time of Remembrance, A Time of Decision"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-or32sn 697000
   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)


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.

- please remain standing for the flag of our nation and for the
national anthem

- post flags

L  Happy are the people who serve the God of Jacob.
P  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord 
L  Let us pray.
P  Loving God,
   we gather to praise and worship you
   and to pledge to you our loyalty and our service.
   Bless our gathering and our remembering
   our hearing and our speaking
   that all honour and glory may be yours.
   Bless us that we may be a blessing - 
   a blessing to you, to our community, 
   to our nation, and to our world.
   We ask it in the name of Christ our Lord.  Amen



   Gathering in of Prayer Joys and Concerns

HYMN: "Open My Eyes That I May See"                      - VU 371

CHILDREN'S TIME: "The Reason, The Hope and The Dream"
Theme:    Why We Do What We Do Today
Object:   Poppies
Source:   Self

-- Why the poppies today??  
-- emblem of remembrance
-- does anyone know where they come from?
-- from 1st World War - site of battle - site of graves - site of
millions of wild poppies
-- John MacRae wrote a poem about this place out of his
experience of the great war.  Read it!

   In Flanders Field, the poppies blow
   between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place: and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
   Scarce heard amid the guns below.

   We are the dead.  Short days ago
   We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
   In Flanders fields.

   Take up Our Quarrel with the foe:
   To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch: be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
   We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
   In Flanders fields.

- the foe we face - as did those long ago - is not just tyranny -
not just war - but all those things that lead to war -- can you
name some????

- The faith of those who died is that all men and women, boys and
girls - will struggle to build a better world - that like those
who gave themselves to stop evil in the past - we will give
ourselves to spread good today.

- And that is what the next thing that we do today is all about -
- about building a better world - about peace and about justice -
beginning with us the people of God.  We ask you to pray and
think with us at this time.

- by Charlene and Me.

* HYMN: "Make Me A Channel of Your Peace"                - VU 684

   (NRSV) Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to
   Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and
   the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before
   God. {2} And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the
   LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors--Terah and
   his sons Abraham and Nahor--lived beyond the Euphrates and
   served other gods. {3} Then I took your father Abraham from
   beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan
   and made his offspring many.

   Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and
   in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served
   beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. {15} Now
   if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom
   you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the
   region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose
   land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will
   serve the LORD." {16} Then the people answered, "Far be it
   from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;
   {17} for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our
   ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of
   slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He
   protected us along all the way that we went, and among all
   the peoples through whom we passed; {18} and the LORD drove
   out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the
   land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our
   God." {19} But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve
   the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will
   not forgive your transgressions or your sins. {20} If you
   forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn
   and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you
   good." {21} And the people said to Joshua, "No, we will serve
   the LORD!" {22} Then Joshua said to the people, "You are
   witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD,
   to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." {23} He
   said, "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and
   incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." {24} The
   people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and
   him we will obey." {25} So Joshua made a covenant with the
   people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at

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


   (NRSV)  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and
   sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not
   grieve as others do who have no hope. {14} For since we
   believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through
   Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. {15} For
   this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who
   are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by
   no means precede those who have died. {16} For the Lord
   himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and
   with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven,
   and the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} Then we who are
   alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together
   with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with
   the Lord forever. {18} Therefore encourage one another with
   these words.

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

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

   (Mat 25:1-13 NRSV)  "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like
   this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the
   bridegroom. {2} Five of them were foolish, and five were
   wise. {3} When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil
   with them; {4} but the wise took flasks of oil with their
   lamps. {5} As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became
   drowsy and slept. {6} But at midnight there was a shout,
   'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' {7}
   Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.
   {8} The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil,
   for our lamps are going out.' {9} But the wise replied, 'No!
   there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better
   go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' {10} And
   while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who
   were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the
   door was shut. {11} Later the other bridesmaids came also,
   saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' {12} But he replied, 'Truly
   I tell you, I do not know you.' {13} Keep awake therefore,
   for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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

SERMON:  "A Time of Remembrance, A Time of Decision"
   Let us Pray:  Bless I pray, the words of my lips and the
   meditations of our hearts - in Jesus name.  Amen.

A Time of Remembering - A Time of Decision
- this is the focus of today's reading from the Book of Joshua 

As Joshua - as an old man - about to die - called the people of
Israel together - to remember and to decide - so we are called
together here today - to remember - and to decide

We remember today - what for some  
       -- the sacrifice, the pain, the loss
       -- the comradeship - the closeness - the hopes and fears
       -- the evil that threatened - the victory that came

We remember too - as we did in the Litany of Reconciliation and
   Justice - the deeper things of God and of this world - of the
   things in this world that divide families, groups, peoples,
   and nations one from the other - and of the need not only for
   peace - but for the justice that upon which true peace is
   built - the justice and the love that shows mercy to those
   seek it - and even those who do not..

Value of remembering 
- for some - is strictly in telling the story 
   - in sharing what is important to them - in working out the
   good and the bad - the happy and the sad - one has
   encountered --
- for others it is the issues 
   - the lessons - involved in any telling of the past - the
   education it can provide 
- for others it is a matter of honouring - of respecting 
   - of evoking the emotions and feelings that are best in a
   - laughter, joy, tears, peace, outrage, forgiveness,
   humility, determination.

Remembering is good - but primarily today, remembering is a call
   for decision on our part -
and without the decision - without the deciding that we are
called to do remembering has little power or purpose.

In our scripture reading this morning Joshua told the story of
how God had treated the children of Israel 
   - how he had chosen Abraham - and Isaac - and Jacob and
   promised them a land
   - how he had remembered Joseph in Egypt and raised up Moses
   to deliver the people
   - how he had led his people safely from the clutches of
   Pharaoh and watched over them in the Wilderness of Sinai
   - and how finally he had brought the 12 tribes across the
   Jordan and into the promised land, driving out their enemies
   before them, and giving them a land that they had not
   laboured for, grapes and olives that they didn't plant.

He tells the story - he remembers 
   and he then calls the people to understand what has been
   remembered and to make a decision
the decision to choose to follow and be true to the God who gave
them life -- or to choose to follow in the path of the nations
around them and to worship their gods.

The people respond to this challenge by reciting back to Joshua
the story as they remember it
   - of how God worked miracles to set them free
   and all though other nations were all around them
   the Lord protected them where-ever they went
and they then say to Joshua that like him 
   - they will serve the God of Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob
   the God of Moses - the God that has been good to them.

And so we are called today to remember
   - to remember not only all those who suffered and died - who
   sweat and sacrificed so much
   - but to remember the reason for which all honourable men and
   women have fought through the centuries - namely the good of
   not only their nation - but of the whole world
   - AND - most importantly - 
We are called to choose.

When Joshua reminds the people of their history - of their
experience - and then demands that the people choose what God
they will serve - 
   he tells them that this is no easy decision
   that there is a cost involved
the cost of total commitment
   - and that should they falter - should they put their hand to
   the plow and look back;
   - should they attempt to live with one foot in the kingdom of
   God - the God who gives life - and the other in the world of
that God himself will turn against them and make terrible things
to happen to them - and then he will finally wipe them out - even
though he has been good to them in the past.

Today we remember -
and we are called to choose

We are called to choose this day much the same thing Joshua
called the people of Israel to choose.

We are called to choose life or death
to choose God and the things of God 
   - or ourselves alone - and the things of this world

And the message for us is the same as the message to the children
of Israel, the same message that every veteran of every battle
with this world's evil can tell you - namely they who forgot -
they who choose to ignore the call of God and to instead be like
everyone else - to be a people who look after only themselves - a
people who seek wealth instead of justice - who pursue happiness
rather the way of truth - who elevate peace as a value over that
of the truth of God - are lost.

Should we follow other gods
   - should we value our own prosperity while ignoring the
   poverty of others
   - should we desire our own comfort more than we desire to
   help others
   - should we value the peace of endless compromise  to the
   hard work of speaking truth to those who lie, and in doing
   justice even though it may cost us our own lives
then not only will the sacrifice made by so many others on our
behalf be in vain,
and their memory dishonoured even as speak their names
but we ourselves and our descendants after us - will perish.

The kingdom of God
   the kingdom that is distinguished by joyful peace
   by freedom from pain and death
   by love that knows no hate
   by plenty that knows no limit
demands our all.

As Jesus gave himself wholly for us on the cross 
- and in doing so rose to new life on the third day
so we are called to give ourselves completely for the sake of
what is right.

Lord God, we remember today how you have treated us and our
nation in the past, and how - in good faith - so many gave
themselves to resist the evil of their day  and so help make the
world a better place.

We remember the faith of our ancestors in your goodness,
and how - in fear and trembling - and in hope and confidence -
they committed themselves completely and gave themselves wholly
to that which they believed to be just, and good, and true.

We remember - O God - we remember our ancestors - and those today
who give themselves in your name...  Lord hear our prayer....

Help us Lord, to not be ones who shirk back from the path of
commitment when things become difficult.  Make us, as we have
prayed already this day - peacemakers and workers of that which
tends to bring justice in the face of injustice; of plenty in the
face of need; of harmony in the place of discord.

Make us like Christ Jesus - who once he set his hand to the plow
did not look back, make us ones not afraid to give ourselves
completely for the sake of your kingdom
   for the sake of that which brings life out of death
      for the sake of that which brings joy both here and in heaven.
Make us ones who are true disciples of your good news - in deeds
as well as in word.  Lord hear our prayer...

Finally, Father - we pray today for your peace to be not only in
us - but in the whole world.  Lord hear our prayer.....

All these things we ask in and through the Spirit of the one who
entered death so that we might live - and who rose so that we
might never die.  Amen

* 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 - we offer these gilts to you now for your
   work, a work in which love triumphs over hate, justice
   over evil,  and life over death.   Help us to not only
   offer to you these gifts - but our very selves so that
   your work - begun in Christ Jesus our Lord, may be
   complete in us.  We ask it in his name.  Amen

   Gracious God - we offer to you this Patton and this
   Chalice, offered to you in memory of ________________ and
   ask that you bless it in our remembrance of your saving
   and eternal love through Christ Jesus our Lord.  We
   dedicate to the celebration of the sacrament of
   forgiveness and eternal life and give thanks for those in
   whose name it is offered.  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.

* COMMUNION HYMN:  "As We Gather At Your Table"          - VU 457

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 the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

L  We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Servant, 
   Jesus Christ. It is he whom you have sent in these last times
   to save us and redeem us, and be the messenger of your will. 
   He is your Word, inseparable from you, through whom you made
   all things and in whom you take delight.

   You sent him from heaven into the Virgin's womb, where he was
   conceived, and took flesh.  Born of the Holy Spirit and the
   Virgin, he was revealed as your Son.

   In fulfilment of your will he stretched out his hands in
   suffering to release from suffering those who place their
   hope in you, and so he won for you a holy people.

   Of his own free choice he was handed over to his passion in
   order to make an end of death and to shatter the chains of
   the evil one, to trample underfoot the powers of hell and to
   lead the righteous into light, to establish the boundaries of
   death and to manifest the resurrection.

   And so 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."  In the same way he took the cup, saying:
   "This is my blood, which will be shed for you.  When you do
   this, you do it in memory of me."

   Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer
   you this bread and this cup, thankful that you have counted
   us worthy to serve you.  We entreat you to send you Holy
   Spirit upon the offering of the holy Church (sign of the
   cross over the elements) .  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
   praise you and give you glory through your Servant, Jesus

   All glory and honour is yours, Lord God Almighty, Creator,
   Redeemer and Sustainer, both in heaven and on earth, now
   and for ever - through Christ Jesus who taught us to pray
   to as one, singing.


THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS  (Please come forward by the
centre aisle to one of the Communion Stations - receive the bread
and dip it in the cup as the words "the body of Christ broken for
you / the blood of Christ shed for you" are said - and then
return to your seats by the side aisles)

L  Let us pray    .....(silence)..... 
L  Grant O God that we might always remember what you have done
   for us through Christ Jesus.  Put in our hearts and our minds
   a holy remembrance of your grace and mercy and of what it
P  Make us a people who are resolved to live by your truth
   A nation which loves mercy
   and does justice
   and walks humbly with you, our God.  Amen

* 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.

Go in peace; love and care for one another in Christ's name,
- and may our Christ Jesus our Saviour ,God our Creator, and the
Holy Spirit our teacher and guide, grant you grace, unfailing
courage, a firm hope, devotion to truth, and the strength to walk
in his path 
both now and forevermore.  Amen



copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1999 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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