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Sermon and Liturgy (2) For Ordinary 26 - Proper 21 - Year B
Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 124; Mark 9:38-50
"A Communion Beyond Our Walls"

READING:  Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 124; Mark 9:38-50
SERMON :  "A Communion Beyond Our Walls"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or26su.y-b 897

   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.

   Elements of the Call To Worship, Prayer of Approach and the
   Departing Prayer from John Maynard (
   "Prayers and Litanies For Ordinary 26" as sent to the PRCL-List
   on September 23, 2000.

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Sing to the Lord a new song.
P    Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
L    Bless the name of God from day to day.
P    Worship the Lord in holy splendour.
L    Let all the nations tremble before him. 
P    Come Holy Spirit 
     and bring the knowledge of God's glory.
L    Burn within us with the love of Christ Jesus 
     that we may worship you in Spirit and Truth:
P    Feed us with the bread of heaven 
     and the wine of your love.
L    Move us to praise your name 
     and to live as you have commanded.

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things - graft
into our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion,
nourish us in all goodness, and keep us in Your great mercy.  Meet us here,
amid our concerns and our questions, our joys and our certainties, and so
lead us as we call upon you that we may know your most gracious will and
with our brothers and sisters around the world this day lift up your holy
name in the unity of Christ's love - that love shown to us in his life, his
death, and his resurrection.  Amen.

* HYMN:  "In The Bulb There Is A Flower"                           - VU 703

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "The Rainbow"
Theme     God's Promise To The World
Object    String Around Finger
Source    Self

Good morning...  How many of you have ever made a promise to someone?   
What kind of promises have you made?   To who?

When adults make promises they sometimes write it all down and have people
sign the piece of paper that it is written on.   For example if someone
lends someone some money the person they lend it to often signs what is
called a "promissary note" saying that they will pay the money back at a
certain time and in a certain way.  Sometimes when people make promises
they say special things -- can you think of something that children
sometimes say when they make a promise (cross my heart and hope to die).  
Sometimes, to remind  ourselves of a promise we have made to do something
or be somewhere, people tie string around a finger - or at least that is
what I have been told   that is why I have this string around my finger
right now.  It is to remind me that I promised one of your teachers to talk
about promises today.

Today when you go downstairs you are going to hear about a promise God made
back at the time of Noah and the Ark.  When the story that you will hear
ends - God makes a promise to Noah - and to all the people of the world.  
It is a very special promise - and God did something very special to remind
himself - and us of that promise.   Do any of you know what it is?     

Yes - it was to never cause a flood that destroys all living things again. 
And the sign of the promise is the rainbow.   It is hung in the sky, like a
bow that is used for hunting, is sometimes hung over a fireplace when it
will no longer be used.   The rainbow was created to remind us that God has
decided to shine on the whole world - and to try to save it from it's
troubles rather than to punish it.

There are many other things about the story of Noah that you will learn -
but that is the part about God and the rainbow.

     Let us Pray;   Loving God - we thank you for the rainbow - and
     for the promise it points to - the promise you will help us  
     rather than punish us - when we forget you.  -  Help us God to
     obey you - each and every day - and so make you happy - and
     our world a better place. - We ask it in the name of Jesus.  

     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

ANTHEM OR FAVOURITE HYMN: "All Things Bright and Beautiful"        - VU 291

- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries   
- Special Matters     
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

     (NIV)  So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said.
     He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around
     the Tent.  Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him,
     and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the
     seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but
     they did not do so again.

     However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained
     in the camp.  They were listed among the elders, but did not go
     out to the Tent.  Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they
     prophesied in the camp. 

     A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying
     in the camp." 

     Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up
     and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!"  But Moses replied, "Are
     you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lord's people were
     prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!"

     Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 124 (VU page 848) and Gloria Patri Sung

     Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. 
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen

     (NIV)  "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in
     your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 

     "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my
     name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for
     whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth,
     anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong
     to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. 

     "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me
     to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with
     a large millstone tied around his neck.  If your hand causes you
     to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life maimed
     than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes
     out.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is
     better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and
     be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it
     out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one
     eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "'their
     worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'  Everyone will
     be salted with fire. 

     "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it
     salty again?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each

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

* HYMN:  "We Gather Here"                                          - VU 469

SERMON: "A Communion Beyond Our Walls"

     Bless O God, the words of my lips and the meditations of our
     hearts that they be of profit to us and acceptable to thee, our
     Rock and our Redeemer.  Speak O Lord, for your servants listen.

I gave the sermon I am about to preach today the title "A Communion Beyond
Our Walls" for two reasons.

The first reason is, I hope, rather obvious.  We are celebrating communion
today and I want you to think about our communion and the communion we
celebrate next week, the celebration we call World Wide Communion Sunday.  
The second reason is less obvious - because as I want you to think about
the communion that we have that extends beyond our walls, I also want you
to think about the walls that we have built and how they might affect what
God has planned for us.

As we gather here today inside this sanctuary, inside these four walls
     and pray and sing and lift up the chalice and the paten and take and
     eat and drink in remembrance of Christ Jesus and how he showed us
     God's love,
tens of thousands, indeed tens of millions of our brothers and sisters
around the world are doing the very same thing.

Some of these people will be in churches like our own in nations like our
own, but most of them will be places like Africa, South America, and The
Philippines, and they will be celebrating the sacrifice made by God, the
offering that Christ made freely on our behalf, in single room schools made
out of sheet metal, wood scraps and cardboard, or in village squares in
which the sound of chickens and the smell of goats will mingle with the
sound of hymns and the sweet aroma of candles and incense.

Some even now are in magnificent cathedrals with vast pipe organs and huge
choirs and paid musicians,
     others, throughout this day, will be gathering together in straw huts,
     where a simple wooden cross tells those who come what the place is,
     and where the music is supplied by oil barrel drum or a tambourine,
     and all the songs are sung without benefit of hymn books or music

The immensity and the diversity of the family that we have beyond these
walls is truly mind boggling.  We should take note of it and we should
remember it and we should celebrate it as often as possible.

We have a communion, we have a family, beyond these walls.
And it is good and it is beautiful 
and it is a gift of God to us - and to our world.
It is indeed something to celebrate, 
this week, next week, and every week.

The second reason for the title of today's sermon however, 
as I said at the beginning, 
is not as easy to explain..

It is not as easy to explain, 
because it asks each one of you to consider the walls around you today,
and to think about what they might represent,
to think about how they may be barriers to our communion with others,
how they might even be a barrier to our communion with God.

Each one of us has a way of shutting things out, a way of shutting other
people out.

We see that in both our scriptures readings today - we see Joshua asking
Moses asking him to stop two men, Eldad and Medad, from prophesying in the
camp because that is not where they should be.

And we see John and the disciples of Jesus telling Jesus how they have come
across a man driving out demons in his name and how they told him to stop,
because he was not one of them..

The answer of both Moses and of Jesus should be instructive for us today.

Moses replies to Joshua  "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the
                         Lord's people were prophets and that the LORD
                         would put his Spirit on them!

And Jesus says to John   "Do not stop him.  No one who does a miracle in my
                         name can in the next moment say anything bad about
                         me, for whoever is not against us is for us.  I
                         tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of
                         water in my name because you belong to Christ will
                         certainly not lose his reward.

We're so small and we're so frightened,
and often we are so damaged,
that we retreat into a place of safety,
a place where we cannot be hurt.

We go to a place of comfort,
a place where we will not be judged,
a place where, if we don't have the answers, no one will mind,
a place where things are predictable,
a place without too many surprises, without unexpected danger.

And this is understandable, at times it is even necessary.

All of us need a place of healing, a place of peace,
a place where we do not have to struggle every moment
a place where we can rest secure in the knowledge that we are safe
a place where we can gather strength.

I pray that this church with its warmly embracing walls may be such a place
for you
That is what the church is for.  It is meant to be a place of refuge - a
place of strengthening -
a place where we are fed and prepared to serve God in the larger world.

But is meant to be an open place - open for others to come in - and for us
to go out.
     a place where the little children are welcomed instead of being told
     to mind their place and not to bother you or me,
          a place where those whose lives have been shattered by the agony
          of divorce, may feel that there is hope for a new life, instead
          of being told they are offensive to God,
     a place where those who have experienced the ripping and tearing that
     life can put us through might experience the mending power of God,
          a place where strangers who seek to do good in the name of Christ
          might be affirmed rather than told that they are not known to us
          and do not belong.
A place where we learn that God is not only with us
but with others as well 

The church, my friends, is more than a building,
it is more than a denomination,
it is more than one particular way of doing things.

We have a communion beyond our walls and if we don't get in touch with it, 
if we don't understand that it is there and open our hearts to it, 
then all that we do and experience inside these walls is futile.

In short - the places of safety that we enter into should not limit our
vision of where God is and how God is working.

What we celebrate today when we lift up the chalice and the patten and eat
and drink the body and blood of Christ Jesus is the fact that God reached
out past the walls that surround heaven and entered into communion with us.

We celebrate in the Lord's Supper the fact that Christ Jesus loved us so
much that he was prepared to give up his safety, his peace, his strength,
his joy, indeed his very life so that we might become whole and be able to
enter fully into God's kingdom.

Our walls - our definitions - our understandings have a purpose,
they serve a function, they are necessary to us.

But the communion God calls us to so very often extends beyond our walls
and our definitions.  It takes in those prophets who speak in the places
where our rules say they should not be; and those disciples who heal others
in Christ's name even though they don't belong to our group.

Today - as you receive the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,
remember why it is given to you -  savour the moment.

Take strength from the time that God gives you to build up your strength,
and enter into the fullness of the communion God has called you to.

See and feel as you meditate the wideness and the breadth of the family
that God has created.

Understand that diversity need not lead us to division,
that those who are not against us are for us,
and that God would have us all full of zeal to do his work.

Thanks be to God for the fact that the power of God is in his name and not
in us.  And thanks be to God that he has chosen - and he calls us - to
break every barrier down and to unite our hearts with his - and with all
who call upon him.

Blessed be God, day by day.  Amen

THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  (Singing #400 at the start of the prayer time. 
Our response to "Lord, hear our Prayer" is "And in Your Love Answer")
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          send us love, send us power, send us grace!

O God, our rock and our redeemer, we rejoice in your mercy and compassion. 
You have given us clear commandments that enlighten our hearts.  You
entrust to us decrees that grant us wisdom.  You revive our souls with your
perfect law.  When we live in communion with you, your truth becomes a part
of us.  How we long to fulfill your expectations of us!  Give us, we pray,
a faith that has some size to it.  Keep pushing us beyond the boundaries
that we build and the walls that we erect.   Continue to surprise us with
the width, breadth and depth of your grace.  Peak our curiosity for the
many ways you are moving in the world, ways which are not limited to the
confines of what we normally deem acceptable, permissible, or even
possible...  Lord hear our prayer....
Lord God - Father and Mother, Maker and Sustainer of us all - we pray today
for all those who work in your name, those far off and those who are near
at hand.  We ask you to bless those who work for your glory in ways that
are different than our ways of working for you - and we ask you to bless
those things that we do.  Increase your church, O God, not for it's own
sake - but for the sake of those in need of our ministry -- the ministry
that you do through those who truly believe in you and listen to you and
trust in you.  Make us - make this congregation - and every person in it -
a beacon of your saving light....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord, we lift up before you today those who were named at the beginning of
our time together, we hold before those who are suffering in body, mind, or
spirit... We pray for our sisters and brothers who are broken, alienated,
or distressed in any way -and we rejoice with those who are celebrating
good news this day, we rejoice and give thanks to you.  WE remember now
especially (BIDDING PRAYER)....  Lord, hear our prayer....

We ask all these things, O God, in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord.  AMEN


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  The Offering Is Received and as it is presented
all stand for The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU
#541) and the Prayer of Dedication

     All that we give is first a gift from you, O God.  It is a joy to
     invest in the mission of the church, both as a gathered community
     in this place and as a scattered people who day by day offer a
     cup of cold water in Christ's name to people who are thirsty. May
     our offering of this treasure, and of our time and our talent
     bring you the glory and honour that you so richly deserve from
     us.  Amen 

* PASSING THE PEACE    We greet those around us with a sign of peace 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:   "Let Us Break Bread Together"                    - VU 480

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.

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 us and redeem us, and 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

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.

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 (as even now we give you thanks O God), saying: "Take and
     eat: this is my body which will be broken for you."  We recall as well
     how, in the same manner, 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 and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  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.

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.   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.  Amen 

THE NEW CREED  (inside cover of VU or 918)
L    Let us with our brothers and sisters around the world today proclaim
     our faith.
P    We are not alone, we live in God's world.
     We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
          who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, 
          to reconcile and make new, 
          who works in us and others by the Spirit. 
     We trust in God.
     We are called to be the Church,
           to celebrate God's presence, 
          to live with respect in creation,
          to love and serve others, 
          to seek justice and resist evil, 
          to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, 
          our Judge and our Hope.
     In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. 
     We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT   Coming forward in two lines up the centre aisle
     to receive the elements, and then return to your seats by the side

L    Gracious God, by grace you have called us to be your witnesses to your
     love to all people throughout the world.  
P    We thank you for the church, which is the fellowship of Your Spirit,
     nourished by the body and blood of Christ Jesus, your only Son.
L    Give us courage as your church to go forth despite all who might
     oppose us and to share your love with everyone - regardless of race,
     culture, or status.
P    Make us one as you are one - through the living faith that has been
     revealed to us, this both now and forevermore.  Amen.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Blest Be The Tie That Binds"                   - VU 602

* 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                                       VU 971
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name,
And may God richly bless each and everyone of you.  
- May the love of our Creator fill your hearts with compassion and truth, 
- May the Spirit make all your labours fruitful,
- and may Christ Jesus our brother and our redeemer shine in you and
through you 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                                  - VU 964

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

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