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Sermon and Liturgy For Ordinary 12 - Proper 7 - Year B
I Samuel 17:32-49; Psalm 9; Mark 4:35-41
"Overwhelming Odds"

READING:  I Samuel 17:32-49; Psalm 9; Mark 4:35-41
SERMON :  "Overwhelming Odds"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or12smsu.y-b 556888

   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.
   Sources, if any, are as indicated in the text.

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  God does not let us be put to shame, 
   nor does he let our enemies triumph over us. 
P  The Lord our God listens to the cries of his people. 
   He is swift to answer those who call upon his name.
L  The Lord our God is strong 
   and sure to save us when we are in distress.  
P  God's steadfast love endures forever.  
   His faithfulness extends to our children's children.

Most Loving and Compassionate God - Spirit of Truth and of Love - we come
before you in humble adoration knowing our need for your grace, your mercy,
and your strength.  Grant us these things by the power of your Holy Spirit. 
Illuminate our hearts and minds and souls that we might better follow in
the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Saviour and more worthily magnify your
most holy name.  Help us celebrate what you have done for us and what you
have promised to us - both now - and forevermore.  Amen.

* HYMN:  "Jesus Calls Us"                                          - VU 562

- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


* HYMN:  "Open My Eyes"                                            - VU 371

   (NIV)  David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this
   Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." {33} Saul replied,
   "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you
   are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." {34}
   But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's
   sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the
   flock, {35} I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its
   mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and
   killed it. {36} Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear;
   this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has
   defied the armies of the living God. {37} The LORD who delivered me
   from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from
   the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be
   with you." {38} Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat
   of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. {39} David fastened
   on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was
   not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I
   am not used to them." So he took them off. {40} Then he took his staff
   in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the
   pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached
   the Philistine. {41} Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer
   in front of him, kept coming closer to David. {42} He looked David over
   and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised
   him. {43} He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with
   sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. {44} "Come here,"
   he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the
   beasts of the field!" {45} David said to the Philistine, "You come
   against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in
   the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom
   you have defied. {46} This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and
   I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the
   carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts
   of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in
   Israel. {47} All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword
   or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will
   give all of you into our hands." {48} As the Philistine moved closer to
   attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. {49}
   Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck
   the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and
   he fell face down on the ground.

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 9 (Voices United 732 - to break, without refrain) 

   (NIV)  That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go
   over to the other side." {36} Leaving the crowd behind, they took him
   along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with
   him. {37} A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat,
   so that it was nearly swamped. {38} Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on
   a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you
   care if we drown?" {39} He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the
   waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely
   calm. {40} He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you
   still have no faith?" {41} They were terrified and asked each other,
   "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

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

* HYMN:  "Will Your Anchor Hold"                                   - VU 675

SERMON: "Overwhelming Odds"

   Let us Pray - O God, light of the minds that know you, life of the
   souls that love you, and strength of the thoughts that seek you -
   bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. 
   Breath your life into us that we may live in the manner you have
   appointed unto us and better love and serve you and one another. 

One of my favourite movies is The Karate Kid.  It is about a teenager who
feels alone and unprotected in the hostile environment of his school and
community.  He is scared - unable to defend himself against the hoodlums of
his neighbourhood.  He is afraid.

It happens that the lad - whose name is Daniel - meets an old man, Mr. Me-
ogi, who has a black belt in Karate - and the old man agrees that he will
teach him what he knows so that he can protect himself.

On the first day of his lessons the old man asks Daniel to wax and polish
several old cars that he owns - wax on - wax off.  All day the lad labours
to follow these instructions - Wax on - Wax off.

On the second day the old man asks the boy to paint his fence -- paint up -
paint down.  Again it takes all day.

On the third day the old man asks him to sand the wooden floor of his
verandah - in a circular fashion - and again it takes all day.

At the end of the third day the boy is very angry - I've done all this work
for you, he says, and you still haven't taught me anything.

At this point the master tells Daniel to stand in front of him and do the
motion for wax on - wax off - and lo - as he does this - the master makes
to hit him - and his blows are deflected by the boys arms.

The boy's work for Mr. Me-ogi - his obedience - has made him ready for his
first lesson in how to face danger, it has prepared him for the lessons,
and the dangers, to follow.

In the course of our lives there are many things that arise that cause us
to fear. There are giants who are hostile to us and all that we hold dear.
There are storms that threaten to overwhelm us.

For each of us the dangers are different,
the things we fear - vary from person to person,
and the intensity of our fear likewise varies.

I know people who are afraid to drive in city traffic,
others who dread speaking in public,
and still others who are terrified by the thought that they might get

Some people fear being alone -
others worry and fret about becoming unemployed,
or having to face an abusive spouse,
still others must fight against the giants of addiction or face the huge
machines of governmental indifference and corporate cruelty.

There are many dangers out in the world - and we do right to fear these
dangers.  Fear is a natural reaction - a God given reaction - to those
things that threaten us.

But fear - while natural - can - if it is listened to too much - if it is
indulged - lead to paralysis -

Fear can prevent us from dealing with what threatens us; and it can - in
the end - permit the thing we fear to destroy us; not just our bodies,
which will pass away in any case - but our hearts, and our minds, and even
our very souls.

That is what was happening at the time when the Philistines came to make
war on Israel during the reign of King Saul.  

The Philistines came with a champion - Goliath of Gath - and he was huge -
over nine feet tall, and he was well armed and well armoured - and he
challenged the Israelites to send a man against him - and whoever won the
battle - his side would win the war.  Each day, for forty days he issued
this challenge - and each day - the Israelites fled at the sight of him.

All were afraid - none would go forth to do battle - except for David - the
youngest child of his family - the one who had been relegated to tending
his father's sheep while his older and bigger brothers conducted business
and served in the army of King Saul.

On the 40th day David - while carrying provisions to his brothers where
they are camped with the army of King Saul - sees Goliath, hears his
challenge - and is shocked by the fact that no one will oppose him - and
volunteers to go forth to vanquish him.

As we heard - David has a hard time convincing Saul to allow him to do this
- Saul is sure that the boy is too small - too inexperienced - but David
tells him that he can prevail - that he has killed Lions and Bears who have
threatened his father's sheep - and that he can, with God's help, defeat

And David does - he defeats Goliath - and he does so not with the weapons
of war that Saul sought to equip him with - a sword, a helmet, and a coat
of mail - but with the instrument that he used as a shepherd - a sling -
and with the name of God.

When we practice the ways of God - when we obey his commands and trust in
his name we can overcome our enemies; we can overcome our natural fear and
do what must be done.

The trick - if it can be called that
is to gain a perspective on the danger we are in; 
to understand that God is able to help us - and that he will help us,
that he has power over the wind and the waves.
that he can still the storm and calm the troubled waters,
that he can triumph in the face of overwhelming odds
because he is the Lord of Hosts - the God who is over all.

When I was a lot younger I used to go swimming in Kamloops lake.  I used to
swim behind the buoys that marked out the zone covered by the lifeguards 
and watch the other kids, the stronger kids, swim from there to a dock that
was anchored offshore - and then jump and dive off it over and over again.

One day I decided to swim out to that dock.  I had never swam that far
before, and I struck out and got about half-way there and then began to
feel tired.  I went slower and slower - and finally I began to flounder - I
went under the water a couple of times, and I was petrified - and I called
out for help - but there was none, there was too much noise around.

I realized that I was on my own - and that I had to make it on my own - or
drown. So - what I did - was focus on the dock - on my salvation - and take
a single stroke - then another.  I refused to think about the depth of the
water - or how tired I was - instead I kept looking at the dock - and how
it was coming closer - stroke by stroke - and, lets see here   yes - I made

After resting a while - and then jumping and diving off the dock - I swam
back to shore - with no problem at all.  I felt wonderful.

It is that way with all our fears - with all the dangers we encounter.

We have to look to the solution instead of only looking at the problem if
we are to overcome the odds that are so much against us, 
if we are to overcome the fears that prevent us from acting.

In AA - Alcoholics Anonymous, and in all the dependency groups based on the
AA Model, there is a slogan -- which says "Let Go - and Let God"

It is a marvellously liberating thing to let go 
   - and to let God,
to trust God to make things come out right 
   instead of worrying about how we are going to make it happen,
To decide to act in His will 
   instead of worrying about how to do what we want to do,
   instead of trying to fix everything on our own.

I think what most of us really fear is being out of control -
of meeting forces that are greater than we are 
and not being able to do anything about them.

That was the situation in Israel at the time of David and Goliath, and it
was certainly the case in the boat in the middle of the storm in the Sea of
Galilee.  The Israelites when they saw Goliath and the disciples when they
saw the wind and the waves felt powerless - they felt overwhelmed and
unable to help themselves - unable to overcome the danger around them.

We fear what we do not know.
We fear what we cannot control.

And that is - when you really think about it - passing strange - for the
truth of life is this - we cannot control what will happen from one minute
to the next.  Indeed all is grace - or its opposite.

I find that to be a liberating truth - a truth that is worth embracing -
because that truth leads me back to God - to the source of my life - and
because of his love - the source of my hope - the source of my strength and
what courage I possess.

David knew from where his strength came - he knew who was in charge - who
could help him:

   Yea - thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall
   fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they
   comfort me.

And again     

   The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?.  The Lord
   is the stronghold of my life.  Of whom shall I be afraid?

When you grow afraid, when you doubt that you will be able to take another
step, when you feel you will surely perish, remember God is fully able to
help you 
   - that as he helped David slay Goliath, despite the overwhelming odds,
   and as he calmed the storm that threatened to overcome the small boat
   in which the disciples sought to cross the Sea of Galilee,
so he is present with you to overcome that which would overcome you.

Remember our overwhelming God can overcome overwhelming odds,
and practice what God seeks to teach you through Jesus Christ,
and through his Spirit as you obey his will day by day.

Wax on - wax off -- Paint up - paint down
Pray - Read -- Meditate and worship, 
for these things help prepare us for the day of trial,
they centre us in the living heart of our living God
providing for us an anchor which keeps the soul steadfast and sure
and a rock which cannot move.

   "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name,
   you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you."

Blessed be our God, day by day.  Amen.

* HYMN: "Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me"                                - Red 637

- Words of Introduction
- Presentation and Promises of Parents
- Profession of Faith and Congregational Promise 
- The New Creed (VU 918 or inside cover)
- Blessing of Water and Act of Baptism
- Presentations and Prayer

Our faith in your power and your providence, O God, is strengthened today
in our reflection upon the experience of David in his encounter with the
giant Goliath.  You remind us that there is nothing in all creation that is
more powerful than your word in all its two-edged glory.  By it Jesus
calmed the storm, by it he healed and made people whole - and by it we too
are sustained from day to day and from minute to minute.  Help us, O God,
to cling to your living word - and to root ourselves in it - that we may be
a people who overcome all the trials and tribulations that come upon us. 
Lord hear our prayer....

We are reminded today, O God, of how the strong can be defeated by the
weak, of how the exalted and the mighty can be overcome by those who are
humble and lowly -  and we thank you for this.  We pray O God for all those
today who are oppressed, as Israel was oppressed in Egypt, we pray for
those who must contend with forces greater than they - grant them faith and
in faith, grant them courage; act for them, and in them, to bring about
their liberation.  Lord hear our prayer....

We pray today, O God for all those who live in fear and insecurity - for
those who need encouragement, for those who need our help and the help of
their neighbours and their communities if they are to know life in its
fullness.  Lord, hear our prayer...

We ask it through Jesus Christ our Lord -- saying together the prayer he
taught us -- 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

   Compassionate and tender God, Father and Mother of us all, we thank
   you for all the blessings that you pour out upon your family - for
   all that we receive as your sons and your daughters.  Bless these
   offerings that we now give to you - use them in your work of
   building up your church and doing the work of your kingdom in our
   world.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Eternal Father, Strong To Save"                - VU 659

* 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, love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
- and may the love of God the Father rest upon you 
- may the grace and the mercy of Christ Jesus the Son dwell within you 
- and may God the Holy Spirit strengthen, comfort, and sustain you 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

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

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000, 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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