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Sermon and Liturgy For New Year's (2000)
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and Luke 4:14-21
"The Year of God's Favour"

READING:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and Luke 4:14-21
SERMON :  "The Year of God's Favour"

by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-newysu 863000

   The call to worship is adapted from a litany titled "God's Time"
   which  was part of a packet of material from National Benevolent
   Assocation, a general unit of the Disciples in the US and Canada, as
   sent e PRCL-List by Darrel Manson (  The
   Prayer of Approach is that for January 1st from "Standing At The Door 
   (an United Methodist resource for the Millenium).  The Prayers
   of the People are adapted from the confession for January 2nd in
   "Standing at the Door".  The Benediction is adapted from that of
   Nathan Nettleton ( as taken from his January
   2nd 2000 "Eucharistic Preface" as sent to the PRCL-List. 
   Some of the questions and responses in the homily are taken from the
   prayer litany for January 4th in "Standing at the Door".  Some of
   the observations on Isaiah 61:1-4 are taken from a note by Frank Glenn
   ( to the PRCL-List on Sun, 5 Dec 1999.

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.
L  O Lord, what a morning!
P  It's a new millennium morning!
L  We greet you, God of the next 1000 years!
P  We greet you, God of all time and all eternity!
L  Truly, you are the God of "chronos", of chronological time.
P  You are God of centuries, years, months, weeks, days, hours, 
   minutes... indeed God of every second.
L  Truly, you are the God of "kairos", of the "right time."
P  You are God of special moments and special meetings.  
   You come to us at this "right time."
L  We give you honour and glory for the "chronos" of this day, 
   a whole new millennium.
P  We give you honour and glory for the "kairos" of this day.
L  May we meet you here -- here and now, in this incredible moment in
   history.  Let this be a special time with you, spirit-filled and
P  O Lord, what a morning!  Your morning ...our morning ...together!

* INTROIT: "This Is The Day"  (VU 412, verses 1 & 3)

Holy God, we come into your presence with thanksgiving and praise.  We have
come to give thanks for your abiding presence through the ages and to
praise you in the powerful and holy name of Jesus.  Be with us in this
hour.  Sanctify our thoughts and words that being made holy we would come
to know more fully you will for us in this new age of faith.  Grant us your
Holy Spirit as guide.  Cause us to see Christ more clearly, love him more
dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.  Amen.

- Announcements     

- Birthdays and Anniversaries

- Gathering in of Prayer Joys and Concerns

* HYMN "As With Gladness Men of Old"                                - VU 81

Object:   None
Theme:    Dreams For the New Year
Source:   Self

Good morning....  Yesterday was a very special day.  Can anyone tell me why
it was so special.  (First day of new year, first day of new century, first
day of a new millennium).

What are some of the things you dream and hope for this year.  How about
for this century?  Or for the next thousand years?  What should the world
dream for?

This year is a special year in our church - and our world.  It is  what we
call a Jubilee Year - a year that comes every fifty years.  A year of
specially making things right before God - of setting prisoners free, of
bringing site to the blind, of preaching good news to the poor.  A year in
which God's children expect a blessing  from God and work to bring that
blessing about.  This year I hope you will watch especially hard and pray
especially hard, and work especially hard for God's blessings to come upon
our land and our  whole world.

   Let us Pray   Dear Lord God, we thank you -- for the year that has
   passed -- and for the new year that has come.   We look forward to
   many things this year -- and pray that you will watch over us -- and
   help us to do - all the things you ask us to do.   -- May this year
   of Jubilee -- be not only for us -- but for the whole world.  Amen

* HYMN:  "One More Step Along The World I Go"                      - VU 639

   (NIV)  There is a time for everything, and a season for every
   activity under heaven: {2} a time to be born and a time to die, a
   time to plant and a time to uproot, {3} a time to kill and a time to
   heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, {4} a time to weep
   and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, {5} a time
   to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a
   time to refrain, {6} a time to search and a time to give up, a time
   to keep and a time to throw away, {7} a time to tear and a time to
   mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, {8} a time to love
   and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. {9} What
   does the worker gain from his toil? {10} I have seen the burden God
   has laid on men. {11} He has made everything beautiful in its time.
   He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot
   fathom what God has done from beginning to end. {12} I know that
   there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while
   they live. {13} That everyone may eat and drink, and find
   satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God.

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 72 (VU 790, parts 1-3) and Sung Refrain

   (NIV) Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to
   Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding
   country. {15} He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by
   everyone. {16} When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up,
   he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He
   stood up to read, {17} and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given
   to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was
   written: {18} "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has
   anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim
   release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the
   oppressed go free, {19} to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
   {20} And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and
   sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. {21} Then
   he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in
   your hearing."

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

* HYMN:  "The Race That Long in Darkness Pined"                    - VU 879

SERMON: "The Year of The Lord's Favour"

   Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the words of my
   lips and the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show us
   your ways and inspire us to live by your truth.  Amen

I see by your presence here today that you have all survived the Y2K bug
I see by your smiles that the world did not end yesterday.
And I gather from what has been happening here today, 
and from what has been said,  that nothing terribly unusual transpired
between the 1159 PM and 1201 AM two nights ago.

Praise God for that.

Praise God too for the fact that today we celebrate something that is
significant - we celebrate the fact that we stand at the beginning of a new
year, a new century, and indeed a new millennium.

Some there are who quibble about the last two beginnings - 
   some state, with some justification, that the new century does not
   properly begin until next year;
       and there are others who point out that we do not really know when
       the new millennium begins since there were or five or six years lost
       to us Pope Gregory altered almost 1600 years ago.

Be that as it for most of us the New Century, indeed the new Millennium -
the third such since the birth of Christ, began yesterday.

And for us, for the church, and for the world through the church, 
this new year which we have just began is not just a Millennial Year, 
it is a Jubilee Year 
    - a year that is meant to be marked by God's favour - by healing, by
   building, by proclaiming, by setting at liberty all who oppressed, all
   who are blind, all who are in need.

This year has been designated by God as a time of restoration - a time of
celebration - a time of giving praise to God and of reaffirming his rule
over us and over all creation.

We mark time through the calendar that we have received through the church,
and the time this day, the time this year, is a meant to be a significant
time - an important time - a healing time - a holy time- a Godly time.

In the Book of Leviticus, the first mention of this time, of this year is
given, in the twenty-fifth chapter.  There it is written:

   You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years,
   so that the period of seven weeks of years gives 49 years.  Then you
   shall have the trumpet sounded loud.... throughout all your land. 
   And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim
   liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a
   jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your
   property and every one of you to your family.

Moses goes on in that chapter to outline the various actions that the
people are to take in the year of Jubilee - spelling out how slaves are to
be freed, land left fallow, property restored to it's rightful owners, and
debts forgiven.

Most of you are already familiar with the theme of forgiveness of debts and
how it relates to the Year of Jubilee from the petitions that our Church,
along with most of the Churches around the world initiated last fall - the
petition for our governments and our banks to forgive the massive and
crippling debts that have been incurred by the Third World over the last
few decades.

This year - this first year of the new Millennium is a Jubilee year,
a year in which we as the people of God are called to a special blessing
called to experience a blessing, and to give a blessing....

Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Jubilee Year - the Year
of God's favour - words addressed to the people of Israel while they were
in bondage in Babylon.  They are found in the sixty-first chapter of his
book.  There he writes:

      "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
       because the LORD has anointed me;
       he has sent me
              to announce good news to the poor,
              to bind up the brokenhearted,
              to proclaim liberty to the captives,
                    and release from darkness to the prisoners;
              to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour,
                    and the day of vengeance of our God;
              to comfort all who mourn;
              to provide for those who grieve in Zion--
              to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
              the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
              and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

    They will be called oaks of righteousness,
        a planting of the LORD for the display his glory.
    They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    And restore the places long devastated;
    They shall repair the ruined cities, 
          the devastations of many generations."

And it was so.  The year of God's favour came.
The ruins were rebuilt.
Those who mourned were comforted.
The prisoners were released.
The land of Israel was restored.
God's glory was once again displayed.

When Jesus preached for the first time in Nazareth,
he read this passage from Isaiah we have just heard,
and proclaimed to the people there - and to us here today,
"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 

This year is a Jubilee Year.

A time in which we as followers of the Christ
are told that God's promises shall come true in our midst 
and that God will favour us with his blessings.

Think of the promise and what it means to us not just as individuals
but as congregation of God's people.

The proclamation of Jesus is that in him - and in this time, there not only
will there be healing, comfort, and liberation in our midst, not only will
there be good news proclaimed to the poor and light given to those in
darkness - that their will be in our midst building up, restoring,
repairing, and renewal - and the through this the glory of God will be

That is certainly a different vision of the new year than that which is
given to us by our secular media - a different kind of future than that
which is predicted by those of little faith.

We as the people of God at St. Andrew's need this year.
And this year has come.
Now - as in the past - as when Jesus first preached in Nazareth 
the challenge is for us is to grab hold of what has been promised
and to live our faith so that our faith might cause us to live.

Standing at the door of this new millennium, what do you long for?
What will you strive to achieve? 
Where will you turn for direction and answers?

Will your open the Bible and study God's Word, learning God's teaching as
the stories of people of faith unfold in the scriptures.  Will you listen
to the accounts of how ordinary people claimed by God and called to special
tasks in God's name did what seemed impossible?

Will you strive to build a faith like that of Abraham and Sarah, of Moses,
Rahab and Joshua; who, though at first, were unlikely and unwilling 
agents, accepted God's call in faith and so built a nation and a people who
to this day are used of God?

Will you proclaim good news 
will you forgive those indebted to you
will you seek to bring light to those in darkness.
will you take part in the building and restoring that God calls us to?

As we here today enter the new century, as we enter the new millennium,
we enter the year of God's favour,
we enter into the time acceptable to God - the right time, 
the time of jubilee.

May each one of you - and may all our brothers and sisters
hear this word and do it,
may we live our faith so that our faith may cause us to live
and to display the glory of God.

Gracious God, Precious Saviour, Sustaining Spirit, all time is in your
hands.  We confess the trivial ways in which we misuse precious moments,
days, and years.  Help us hear anew your call to holy living and use the
time we have been given to be productive builders of your Kingdom here... 
Lord hear our prayer....

Loving God, maker of heaven and earth and all that is in them, we give you
thanks for the newness of life each day, each year; and for your holy
presence with us in all times of work and play, joy and difficulty.  Help
us in this hour, at the doorway to a new era, to be good stewards of time;
to be always engaged in doing your will; and to be ever watchful for the
new thing you are doing; so that we might be partners in your mission of
reconciling the world through Jesus your Son, he who lights our way and who
has proclaimed this the year of your favour...  Lord hear our prayer...

Father - as we recall this day your purpose to have all people live an
abundant and wholesome life, your desire that the blind might see, the lame
walk, the poor have good news proclaimed to them, and the prisoners set
free, we remember before you those in special need this day.   We hold up
before you O God......  Lord hear our prayer....

We recall too O God, those who are especially upon our hearts this morning,
those named before you in our sharing time - and those whom we name
silently before you now....  Lord hear our prayer...
Bless O God all people of this world - and most particularly smile upon
your Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - that world wide congregation
called into being by your Son, Christ Jesus, the one who first taught us to
pray to you 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

   Gracious God, as we enter this new year - this year of Jubilee - we
   offer to you our grateful hearts, our humble obedience, our time and
   our treasure.  Accept we pray these things along with the tithes and
   offerings upon these plates and use us in the work of your holy and
   eternal kingdom - we ask it the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN: "The First Noel"                                  - VU 91

* 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

Go in peace; 
recognize Christ in friend and stranger,
and as Christ has been gracious to you, so be gracious to those in need.
- and may God dwell with you and be your fortress and your shield
- may Christ come unto you and be your food and drink, your light and your
- and may the Spirit be your beginning and your end and hold all your times
in her loving embrace.

* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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