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Sermon and Liturgy (2) For Ordinary 33 - Proper 28 - Year B
Hebrews 10:11-25; Psalm 16; Mark 13:1-8
"Not One Stone Upon Another"

READING:  Hebrews 10:11-25; Psalm 16; Mark 13:1-8
SERMON :  "Not One Stone Upon Another"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or33sn.y-b 753000 
   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.

   I am indebted to Earl Janssen's Sermon for Pentecost 26B 
   [Proper 28B] November 16, 1997 and Robbie Robertson's
   "Music for The Native Americans" for the finishing touch of
   conceptualization (and some wording)

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 16:5-11)
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    The Lord is my chosen portion. He has given me all I have.
P    I bless the Lord.  He guides and encourages me.  
     In the darkest night he calls my name and speaks to me.
L    I keep the Lord before me.  I am always aware of his presence. 
     Because he is at my right hand I cannot be moved.
P    My heart is glad.  My soul rejoices.  I am completely secure.  
     God protects me from the power of death.
L    God shows me the path of life.  
     In his presence there is fullness of joy. 

* INTROIT:  "Spirit of The Living God" (verse 1)                   - VU 376

Let us Pray -- Gracious God - our Lord, our Almighty one - sovereign of
earth, sea, and sky - we invoke your presence today in our midst.  Stir up
from the quiet places - blow down from the mountains - crystalize in the
air that we breath coming and going from the warm of this sanctuary - make
yourself known to us in song and word and in sight and touch.  Remind us
anew of you are and of your plan for us and our world - and transform us
in this knowing from one degree of your glory to another so that we might
truly bring praise and honour to your most holy name.  Lord hear our
prayer....  Amen

* HYMN:  "Praise To The Lord, The Almighty"                        - VU 220

- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

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

Theme     Safety in the Light of God - in God's Presence"
Object    Night Light
Source    Self

Today I want to talk to you about being frightened.  I am sometimes get
frightened -- worried about what is going to happen next -- afraid that it
might be bad --- do any of you ever get frightened???   What kind of
things scare you???

I brought this NIGHT LIGHT today to remind me that when you are little and
you get scared -- or when you  are big and you get scared it is nice to go
to a place where you don't feel so afraid.....  What kinds of things do
you do when you are afraid???

Most of us go to the light --- most of us go to Mom and Dad - to someone
and something in which we have trust.  A shining light keeps back the
dangers -- and Mom and Dad and our Heavenly Parent too -- make us feel
warm and safe.

When you are afraid -- whether you are little - or you are big -- go to
the light -- go to Mom and Dad -- go to your heavenly Father and Mother --
speak with them -- pray to them -- bathe yourself in the light and the
warmth and the knowledge that it will be OK.

     Let us pray -- Dear Father and Mother of us all  -- maker of the
     light -- keeper of our souls -- we thank you for your warm
     presence -- for keeping us safe -- and taking away our fears ---
     Help us remain close by your side -- where there is an eternity
     of blessings -- we ask it in our brother Jesus' name. -- Amen

THE LORD'S PRAYER   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: "Spirit of God" 

     (NIV)  Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious
     duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can
     never take away sins. {12} But when this priest had offered for all
     time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
     {13} Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his
     footstool, {14} because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever
     those who are being made holy. {15} The Holy Spirit also testifies to
     us about this. First he says: {16} "This is the covenant I will make
     with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their
     hearts, and I will write them on their minds." {17} Then he adds:
     "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." {18} And where
     these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
     {19} Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most
     Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, {20} by a new and living way opened
     for us through the curtain, that is, his body, {21} and since we have
     a great priest over the house of God, {22} let us draw near to God
     with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts
     sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our
     bodies washed with pure water. {23} Let us hold unswervingly to the
     hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. {24} And let us
     consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
     {25} Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
     doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see
     the Day approaching.

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 16 (VU page 738 and Sung Response)

     (NIV)  As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to
     him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent
     buildings!" {2} "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied
     Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be
     thrown down." {3} As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives
     opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him
     privately, {4} "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will
     be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?" {5} Jesus said
     to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. {6} Many will come in
     my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. {7} When you
     hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must
     happen, but the end is still to come. {8} Nation will rise against
     nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in
     various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

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

* HYMN:  "Unto The Hills Around"                                   - VU 842

SERMON:  "Not One Stone Upon Another"

     Supreme One - All Encompassing One - Eternally Present One --
     inhabit at this time the words of my lips and the meditations of
     our hearts as we speak of you and think of you, as we eat the
     food you have prepared for us -- and digest that which already
     is within us. Continue to shine upon us - we ask it in the name
     of our eternal friend - your perfect offering - Christ Jesus our
     Lord.  Amen

I thought that I would start off today by reading to you a prescription,
a prescription that will also have the effect of explaining what is
happening to Charlene today - and indeed - in the week to come.

It is written and signed by Dancing Wolf Cub -- the lady some of you have
seen here - Crisanna McLeod, who is a friend of Charlene's and a healer of
souls - as many of us are called to be.

          AM. FOR ONE WEEK.

What a wonderful kind of prescription that is -- one that is well suited
for my darling wife as she suffers from some kind of bronchitis.

Warm and safe and snuggled up in bed -- and excused from having to labour
- before fully awake - with any kind of object, physical or spiritual.

Come unto me - all you who are heavy laden
and I will give you rest.

As we look in a spiritual manner at today's gospel reading,
     as we consider the signs and the seasons of the end and how the
     temple of which Jesus spoke was, and still is, being torn down so
     that not one stone is left standing upon another,
I want you to think about where lies true safety,
about where there is a true light that leads you to true warmth
and to the embrace of the one who has true glory.

I want you to think about a prescription for those who have fear:
a prescription that you would write 
     - perhaps for a friend or a loved one 
     - or perhaps for yourself,
as you consider your own mortality
and the changes that sweep the world each day
blowing away landmarks from eons past
and reducing to dust even the foundations of treasured and monuments.

     "As he came out of the temple of his disciples said to him,
     'Look Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!"  

Look Teacher at this incredible place -- the place of promise -- the
temple of Solomon - rebuilt in glory -- the place of the Holy of Holies --
the place where we know God is present -- the place where sacrifice is
made for sin - the place where the dream of Abraham and the vision of
Moses are made to come true -- the place where even the greatest in our
land bow down -- and where the wisest in our land come to teach -- Teacher
- look how big it is -- how solid -- how wonderful.

     And Jesus answered him "Do you see these great buildings?  Not
     one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown

     And when he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the
     temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
     'Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all
     these things are about to be accomplished."

Not your usual kind of passage in scripture...  

It is a part of a particular kind of scripture that we call Apocalyptical
Scripture, scripture concerned with the end of all things as we know them
and the coming of a new age - a new time - 
     the coming of the Son of Man-
     the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

And these passages - passages about the destruction of the temple 
     and about wars and rumours of war
     and earthquakes in various places  and famines
     and - if we had read on - desolating sacrilege and false messiahs...
these passages are upsetting to some what with their fanciful and dreadful
images of things we do right to fear - of things horrible that we can't
understand - 

Upsetting to some and irrelevant to others - who reject that which they
can't understand and who really do not want to consider that words written
in a dusty old book might really refer to something more real and more
awesome than the words it contains about loving one another and doing good
to people.

And to still others - these peculiar passages about the end of the old age
and the coming of the new - about the dashing down of the very foundations
and the raising up of a new order, a new way, 
     - to them it seems that theses passages are nothing more than an
     occasion to dispute about the particulars of the times and the
     seasons - to argue as what day the day of the end is - even though
     Jesus himself said that not even he - the son - knew, but the Father

Wasn't it this year when all our computers were supposed to come crashing
down because some rocket scientists and business people thought that
eliminating the first two numbers of a year was a good thing to do?

We have earthquakes.
We have wars and rumours of wars.
We have famine.

Is this but the beginning of the birth-pangs?
Or is it near to the end?

Read your bible when you go home - read Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark.
Try to answer.

But meanwhile try to consider this - try to consider the reality of the
temple and of what it meant to the disciples and to the whole people of
Israel    - the people whom scripture and history record as a people who
          "struggle with God" and overcome. 
          - the people through whom God has planned a blessing for the
          whole world
          - the people through whom indeed comes to us the Christ and the
spiritual answer for that spiritual problem which has plagued us since
Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden.

The temple - the home of God - the place where lies the Holy of Holies -
the place where the ark of the Covenant once rested down - where the alter
for the mercy and the praise of God was erected - was a most important and
a most imposing place.  

It was the physical representation of a dream - the dream of Abraham and
Isaac and Jacob, the dream of Moses and Miriam - and of Eli and Samuel -
of  David and of Solomon - of Rachael, Rebecca, Deborah and Hannah, and of
Mary and Martha.

What is important to you?
What is your most treasured belief?
Your deepest hope?

And where do you find that represented?  That thing that gives meaning to
your life?  Or to the life of our nation?  Of our world.

Name with me the most important things to you -- 
name too those things that seem to you be most important to others:

     RUBRIC:  Let it Happen.... IMAGINE -- WHAT IS IMPORTANT.....and
     speak it to me that I may speak it to others here today....
A stone of wealth 
A stone of influence
A stone of possessions
A stone of accomplishment
A stone of being loved
A stone of what you consider most important

Imagine them as stones in the building Jesus and the disciples were
looking at, a building containing thousands of stones, 
     the stones which represent those things that we seek out, 
     those things we turn to for a sense of permanence, for comfort, 
     for peace of mind,
all built into a building that, when there is trouble in our lives we make
our place of refuge, and when there is joy we make the place for our thank

"Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." 

A hard image to get hold of is it not?
For some - the question is - how could this happen?
these stones are so massive - this place so big?

For others the image is a challenge 
- something to resist the very idea of - something to fear 
for our lives so often rest within the temples we have constructed,
instead of within the temple of heaven made by God.

One of the pulp newspapers at Grocery Stores this past week had a headline
that read something like this:  Twelve Top Bible Scholars All Agree - World
Will End Soon.

Perhaps you saw it?  

I didn't recognize a single one of the scholars names that were listed,
but be that as it may be - this is frightening stuff - this stuff about
there not being one stone left upon another.  That's why these kinds of
headlines get our attention

We have so carefully constructed our lives with these things - these
stones - that protect and hallow - and suddenly we discover that they
offer no protection at all. 

Maybe if we know the details of the end of the world, we can put up
another wall that will protect us? 

But for those who cannot believe in the end of all things as something God
has planned;
     for those who are blind to the signs of the times;
          and those who do not know one season from another and who really
          couldn't care less;
there are other images.

For those who have forgotten that the temple in Jerusalem is no more -
there are other reminders of that of which I speak today.

We know that we will someday die.  As we get older, we are faced more and
more with this reality.  The people we care about will die.  Our own
bodies will wear out and we will feel the strain of age tugging at us. 

The things that were once most important in our lives will begin to
change. Nothing lasts forever.  Nothing has the permanence we long for. 
About the time we get used to something, it changes. 

Sometimes that change is good. More often, the change creates additional
difficulties in our lives as we adjust once again. 

     "Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be
     thrown down." 

There is fear is there not in  "Not one stone will be left here upon
another"?  Fear not only for some of the old who become afraid of their
own mortality. but also for some of the young who look upon the world as a
terrifying place of isolation, greed, and confusion - as place that has no
safe place in it for them personally.

     "Not one stone will be left here upon another."

And yet Jesus says today to all the possible fears we have as he speaks
about the destruction of the temple and about the dashing down of all the
stones which we so much treasure and admire and hope in.

He speaks and he says  -- "Be not alarmed"

Indeed all that he counsels for us - is be aware - to be watchful
and to understand what is going on.

     "Be Not Alarmed.  Do Not Worry.  Beware.  Keep Awake. 
     Understand The Signs.  Not One Stone Will Be Left Here Upon

I take you on this journey into the end of things as we know them this
morning for the same reason I took you and the children to the place of
our fears earlier in the service.

I take you there so that you might also know about the light that is this
darkness, that you might remember the warm arms that are ready to embrace
us as the arms of our mothers and fathers once did, or perhaps still do.

Fear is a terrible thing 
- it causes some people to freeze up and to be unable to move, unable to
complete their pilgrimage upon this earth as God would have them do it.

It causes others to do things that we can only describe as being evil -
lying and cheating so that they might "get ahead" or of placing their
trust in things which, in the end, really do let them down - again
preventing them from completing their pilgrimage upon this earth as God
would have them do it....

I spoke of a prescription earlier, 
that I wanted you to imagine a prescription for overcoming fear;
- the fear that consumes so many lives, the fear that leads to so much
greed - so much hate - so much anger - so much depression.

For me and for all the saints 
it is the same prescription that Jesus wrote
     keep awake,
     be aware,
     come to the light,
     give up your burden and take my yoke upon you 
     enfold yourself into my embrace
     trust in me
     obey my commandments,
     do not be anxious
     meditate on the Word -
     seek first the kingdom of God
     understand what is happening
     number your days that you might get a heart of wisdom,
     if anything is good, anything excellent, anything worthy of praise 
     - think on these things.

A prescription not quite the same as the one which Dancing Wolf Cub gave
Charlene, but not unlike the one that Louise Haskins gave to others, and
which I found framed upon Dancing Wolf Cub's wall yesterday while in
Invermere to bring Charlene one back home.

It says:

     I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
     Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.

     And he replied: Go out into the darkness
     and put thine hand into the hand of God.
     That shall be to thee better than light
     and safer than a known way.

My friends - you who consider the destruction of the temple
and who know that the this world is coming to an end,
recall the dream of Abraham and Moses is still alive
though the temple of the faith built around it is gone - but for a single
piece of a single wall.

For those of you who are anxious about earthquakes and famines
     and who dread the sight of stones being removed one from the other so
     that nothing is left
remember that the people who wrestle with God are still with us
     and that a child of these chosen ones has been raised up as a
     spiritual temple -  and serves as high priest for us before God -
and a wonderful temple and a wonderful God it is.

And from heaven - to earth - it will come down 
when all is accomplished that needs to be accomplished.

The dream of David and of Solomon, of Miriam and of Hannah and of Mary and
of Martha lives on --  God is still their God and walks with them and
protects them, them and their seed according to both the flesh and spirit
- blesses the world.

Not one stone will be left upon another.
Do not be alarmed.

     When you have come to the edge of all that you know
         and are about to step off into the darkness
     Know one of two things will happen --
     There will be something solid to stand on, or
     You will be taught to fly.                                            
                         (Modified from a poem called FAITH by ANON)

Blessed be the name of God, day by day.  Amen.

THE NEW CREED                                                 - VU page 918

There is fear O God --
and there is uncertainty --
in many human hearts - even in our hearts -
today - and for some - everyday.

There is aimlessness in the hearts of others -
senseless excitements about the details of the end of time -
about the signs that are around us - for us to read and to understand,
and yet they have no peace in this knowing
and often argue about the meaning of things with others
instead of breathing in the strength of earth and sky
and breathing out love and compassion upon their own selves
and the self of the world around them - the world you have made.

O Great One - you know about Fear, Aimlessness, Senseless excitements, and
deep depressions of the soul.  You understand the afflictions of the
lonely - of those who have no one to draw close to.  We pray especially
today for these O God - that they may know your presence and see your
power - and be consumed b y your glory - and so find that which we all
need....  Shine your light, we pray, upon those we name before you in our
hearts now - be it ourselves, or the person next to us - or one we left at
home - perhaps one we heard about on TV or the one who is our neighbour. 
Peace O God to them as we lift them up before you now... BIDDING PRAYER...
Lord, hear our prayer...

In all our prayers, O God, we approach your mercy seat - and we climb up
upon your lap and cuddle in the arms of your Spirit - in the name of the
living Christ - the one who taught us to pray to you as our dearest
Parent.  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

     Giving God - we give what you have given us  - we give now the
     tithe as you have commanded us, for we are obediently yours  - and
     also we give, and we pray that you will bless us in the giving,
     our very selves.  We ask that we might indeed be wholly yours - in
     the way that Christ was - is - and evermore shall be yours - a
     perfect offering of love.  Amen.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "How Firm A Foundation"                         - VU 660

* 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 God's warm light fill you and guide you on God's path, 
- may the Spirit give you the gift of a deep and abiding faith and sustain
you in all your labour and make it fruitful, 
- and may the love of Christ Jesus not only fill you - but spill out of
you as a flood and so grace all whom you meet 
-both now and forevermore.  Amen

SUNG 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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