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Sermon and Liturgy (2) for Ordinary 17 - Proper 12 - Year C
Hosea 1:2-10; Colossians 2:6-15; Psalm 85; Luke 11:1-13
"When It Comes To Prayer"

READING:  Hosea 1:2-10; Colossians 2:6-15; Psalm 85; Luke 11:1-13 
SERMON :  "When It Comes To Prayer"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or17sm 622000

   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:  The Children's story is that of Charles Kirkpatrick,
   "Just Do It" ( July 25 2004 and is used with
   permission.  Thanks to Lawrence Dewolfe "Notes on Luke 11:1-13"
   July 26 1995 for his stimulating reflections and also to Ross
   Bartlett and all the folk in the Telos Conference, July 1995.

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    I will give the Lord thanks with my whole heart.
P    Before all the gods of this world I will sing God's praise.
L    I will bow down towards God's holy temple 
     and give thanks to his name 
     for his steadfast love and faithfulness.
P    When I call upon the Lord, he answers me.  
     He answers my call and strengthens my soul.
L    Though I walk in the midst of trouble 
     God preserves me against the anger of my enemies.
P    God stretches out his hand and delivers me.  
L    His purpose for me he will fulfil; 
     his steadfast love endures forever.
P    Let all of God's people call upon his name 
     and rejoice and be glad in him.

Loving and caring God, in you we find all that we need.  In you we are fed. 
In you we are heard.  In you we are truly alive. Let your Spirit flow over
and through us as we worship you.  Draw us closer to you - we pray in
Jesus' name.  Amen.

* HYMN: "All People That On Earth Do Dwell"                        - VU 822

Object    Anything with the Nike logo on it. If you don't have anything,
          you can easily create your own
Theme     Don't talk about prayer -- just do it!
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick, "Just Do It!" ( July 25
          2004 and is used with permission.

     "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you
     will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone
     who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the
     door will be opened.  (Luke 11:9-10)

What do you think of when you see this symbol?  Right!  You think of Nike.
As you know,  Nike is one of the world's leading manufacturers of sport's
equipment.  At one time, they were just known as a running shoe company,
but now they make sports equipment for just about every sport you can
imagine.  Probably just about everyone in the world would recognize this
Nike symbol.

Whenever we think of Nike, we also think of their slogan, "Just Do It!" 
What does that mean?  Well, since Nike is in the business of making sports
equipment, it means that when it comes to sports, don't talk about it --
just do it!  Don't just talk about running, go out and run.  Don't just
talk about basketball, go out and play the game.  Don't just talk
about...well, I think you get the idea.

One day Jesus was with his disciples and they asked him to teach them how
to pray.  Jesus didn't say, "Well, first you get down on your knees, like
this; then you fold your hands like this; then you close your eyes; and
then you start to pray.  After giving them an sample prayer, he said to
them, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and
the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who
seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."  In other
words, Jesus told his disciples that the most important rule of prayer is -
- "Just Do It!"

When we come to church, we talk a lot about prayer, don't we?  When someone
is sick, we say, "We need to pray for the sick."  When someone is having
financial problems, we say, "We need to pray for the poor."  When there is
war in the world, we say, "We need to pray for peace."  We talk a lot about
prayer, but what we really need is to "Just Do It!"  In fact, I think we
should stop talking about it right now - and "Just Do It!"

     Dear Father - we ask you to heal those who are sick, - to provide
     food for those who are hungry, - and to bring peace where there
     is war. - We ask these things - because you are the one - who
     gives us every good gift - and you have told us - that everyone
     who asks receives. -  Amen.

And in the words Jesus taught us,  let us pray together as one family...

     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 

* HYMN:  (Favourite Request)

- 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)  When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said
     to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of
     unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery
     in departing from the LORD."  So he married Gomer daughter of
     Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.  Then the LORD
     said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the
     house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end
     to the kingdom of Israel.  In that day I will break Israel's bow
     in the Valley of Jezreel." 

     Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter.  Then the
     LORD said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer
     show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive
     them.  Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will
     save them - not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and
     horsemen, but by the LORD their God." 

     After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son.  Then the
     LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am
     not your God.  "Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the
     seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where
     it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called
     'sons of the living God.'

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 85 and the Gloria Patri sung:

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

     (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
     continue to live in him,  rooted and built up in him,
     strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing
     with thankfulness.  

     See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and
     deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the
     basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  

     For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
     and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over
     every power and authority.  In him you were also circumcised, in
     the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision
     done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by
     Christ,  having been buried with him in baptism and raised with
     him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from
     the dead.  

     When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your
     sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all
     our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its
     regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he
     took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the
     powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them,
     triumphing over them by the cross.

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

* HYMN: "I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say"                           - VU 626

     (NIV)  One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he
     finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to
     pray, just as John taught his disciples."  He said to them, "When
     you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom
     come.  Give us each day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins,
     for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.  And lead us
     not into temptation.'" 

     Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to
     him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
     because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have
     nothing to set before him.'

     "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me.  The door is already
     locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give
     you anything.'  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the
     bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he
     will get up and give him as much as he needs.

     "So I say to you:  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will
     find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks
     receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be
     opened.  Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give
     him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a
     scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good
     gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give
     the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

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

SERMON: "When It Comes To Prayer"

     O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
     and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
     meditations of our hearts.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants
     listen.  Amen.

I am struck by fact disciples asked Jesus "teach us how to pray"
- surely they knew how to pray?
- they had been there and done that - with John - with the
village rabbis - in the synagogues and temples - yet they after
watching Jesus for a while - after seeing what he could do -
after being impressed by his wisdom - his power - his love - they
ask him to teach them how to pray...

And this makes me think about us -
     - have we asked Jesus to teach us to pray?  Or have we
     assumed that we know how?

The Christian life - the Godly life - is fuelled by prayer - it
is made strong by our contact with God each day - just as the
relationship between husband and wife is sustained by
communication - intimate - regular - joyful - sincere - needy -
honest talk...
Yet very few people ever show the hunger of the disciples and ask
"teach us how to pray"

When it comes to prayer - I think many folk assume they already
know all they really need to know - for they know the Lord's
Prayer - the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they
asked him "Lord, teach us how to pray."

But the Lord's Prayer which they have heard, and which we know,
is not THE answer of Jesus to his disciple's question - it is
only A answer - a model as it were - of what our prayer might be
like - of what it might include - and of what attitude our prayer
might be uttered with.

The Lord's Prayer, my brothers and sisters, is only a model, an
example of what prayer is like - yet - I am afraid that Folk -
have turned it into AN ICON - AN IDOL OF PRAYER - and so have
missed the point of what Jesus said to his disciples on that hot
and hazy day in Palestine so long ago.

     Many Church folk lament the loss of the days when
     recitation of the Lord's Prayer was compulsory at
     school.  They regard it as something for kids to hold
     onto." "It'll come back to them when they're in
     trouble." "At least it's a foundation." And so on.  

     The Lord's Prayer itself is precious - and for many of
     us learning it, and saying it together, is a precious
     childhood memory.  Taking it out of the daily school
     routine is one more example of the erosion of so much
     that was once held dear, and essential to the shared
     "Christian" culture. The absence of prayer in the
     schools compounds the frustration, grief, guilt
     churchgoers of a certain age feel over the fact that
     their children and grandchildren don't go to church.

     But the Lord's Prayer can also be a perversion of
     prayer, something you do for a bit of religion; a
     retreat into magic; a set of words that might help in a
     fix; and as such it misses the point of what prayer is
     all about.

When a person learns the Lord's Prayer by rote, they did not know
all they need to know about prayer.  And teaching the Lord's
prayer to others as a form of evangelism, as something that
non-church-going kids need to hear, is a deep denial of the
reason why Jesus taught his disciples this prayer in the first
The Lord's Prayer is a model of what prayer is for us as
disciples - it is not meant for strangers - for people who do not
know the Lord or believe in the God of Abraham and of Sarah and
of Mary and of Joseph.

The Lord's Prayer is a form of prayer for disciples - for
followers of Jesus - for the family of God.

A form of prayer mind you, not THE PRAYER or the ONLY PRAYER -
nor even all prayers rolled into one.  IT IS A MODEL - an example
of how we - as followers of Jesus - might pray to God above.


God is not "Father" - a formal and stiff parent whom me must
address with great respect, fear, and awe -  -- God is "Daddy" -
"Poppa" - the one into whose lap we as toddlers crawl up into and
whose  beard we play with as we chatter to him - the one whose
arms hold us safe as we laugh and giggle and ask him what we want
and tell him about our day.

God, as Jesus explained,  is like the neighbour who is close
enough to pester at the worst time, or a parent who wants only
what's best for the children - the One you know you can count on
because you *know* "him". 

That's the One to whom this sample-prayer which we call the
Lord's Prayer is addressed, and that is how Jesus suggests we can
address Him! 

God is the one we spend time with - as a child spends time with
his friends and his parents - simple time - time of thanksgiving
- of praise - of need of asking for forgiveness - of expressing

Lord, Teach us how to pray...

When it comes to prayer - all of us need some instruction -- some
understanding - but more than that - we need time -- time and

Time for shooting or spot prayers -
     - the kind of prayer that is seen when your child runs into
     the room and says - wow it sure is hot outside - or - gee
     whiz - it sure would be nice to go to the beach later -
And time for special times of prayer - special occasions -- as
     when your child as hurt herself and comes to you for a
     bandage and for a hug -- or when your son comes and asks you
     to tell him about why he has the name he has - or what your
     family do about the kids down the street whose mother died
     and whose father is out  of work...
And time for regular prayer - as when you plan the day at the
     breakfast table - or review it at the supper table

Prayer is a matter of time and of desire 
     - the desire to communicate -
     - the desire to know - to listen - to think - to enjoy - to
     understand - to help - to be with...

     I know people, within and without the church, who are offended by
     talk of intimacy/familiarity with God. They are the people
     who want only the prayer-book words at weddings, only the
     "old favourite" hymns on Sundays, and only the King James
     Version at their funerals. 

     - In a sense they keep God away from their inner selves with
     language.  They like the sound of the words, and the
     atmosphere they create, but they don't really want to know
     what they mean, or the God they are addressed to. 

Don't keep God away - keep coming to God - coming and asking -
coming and sharing - coming and learning - for God answers prayer
-- he hears us - he communicates with us.

Three years ago, while living in Ontario  - Charlene and I had a
most unpleasant shock.  Just before leaving for the airport in
Toronto to fetch her son Mark back from Halifax from a visit with
his father she phoned down to him to see if everything was OK and
to wish him a good flight.  

     Mark wasn't on the flight - nor was he going to be on
     it.  It was suddenly announced that he had decided to 
     live with his Daddy - and that legal papers should have
     been already served on us by the Sheriff or Bailiff of
     the Court.

     It was out of the blue and, momentarily, we didn't know
     what to do.  The talk of courts and such struck us as
     absolutely abhorrent - costly and foolish - and
     destructive of the good relationship that exists
     between Mark and us - and increasingly between the
     other children and us.

     Mark's father wouldn't listen to Charlene as she
     explained that she wasn't entirely surprised by Mark's
     decision - and that yes - although a year earlier than
     expected by us - perhaps it was time that he lived
     there with his Dad and his two sisters.  Nor would he
     listen as she said - "Send Mark home to pack - and to
     say goodbye to his friends and his family here - to
     Grandma Pressey, and Uncle Melvin Empey, and Lyle and
     Deb and Ken and Cindy - and George and Sally - and
     Julie and Mark and all the rest."   He wouldn't listen
     - he wouldn't trust.  Court, he said, would be August
     28th in Halifax.

We took it God in prayer -- we shared with God our surprise - we
asked God - and we asked others to ask God - to make the process
right - to have Mark - and maybe his sister Shannon - come and
say good bye - to make it easy for Mark, and for everyone, to
grow closer together because of his decision rather to have them
grow further apart.

     Two hours later Mark's sister Shannon called - she
     called and she listened - and she agreed that it would
     be  a very good thing for Mark to come up here sometime
     in the next five weeks or so to pack and to say good
     bye.  She said she would come with him - and that she
     believed things between her and her Mother could at
     last begin to be straightened out.  She said that now
     the time of reconciliation had begun.  WOW!!!

That is an answered prayer - answered not with a mother's fondest
desire - which is to have the children clustered around - under
her watchful eye - but with a parents best understanding of what
is good for her child - even when  it is hurtful - even when it
means that the one asking may be lonely at times. 

God answers prayer  - not always as we want - with magical
solutions to our problems  - but God answers -

Sometimes he answers simply by listening when we share - as a
father listens to his daughter tell him about her day - as a
mother listens when her son speaks of his sense of frustration
and of anger about how things are going at school, or at work, or
with that special friend that he thought he could trust.

God is my friend - my Daddy - my Poppa - the one who understands
me - the one who holds me - the one who reassures me.

The Lord's Prayer, my friends, is not magic - it's not the sum
total of what we should say to God 
     - it is a model for those people who are  interested in
     knowing their heavenly father 
     - a form of what prayer can be like for those who really
     want to be like Jesus
It is an example of the freedom that we can have with God - the
freedom that God himself bestows.

Hear the Prayer Jesus said we can pray... hear it as an example -
audacious and bold and so intimate it is almost beyond words...

                     you are so wonderful -
       I wish that everybody could have a Daddy like you,
  and that everyone would do the things you tell them to do -
                because what you say is so good.
             Daddy - will you make supper tonight?
Will you put good food on the table like you did last night and
                       the night before?
          Oh - and Daddy - I hope you won't be mad...
 I did something I shouldn't have today - will you forgive me??
                      Yes Daddy - I know -
You want me to forgive my little brother for the nasty thing he
                          did to me -
         and I will - I love him - even if he is weird.
              Thank you Daddy for not being angry.
           You'll protect me always, won't you Daddy?
You'll keep me safe from those things that go bump in the night?
              From those things that frighten me?
I knew you would Daddy - for you are the best Daddy anyone could
                           ever have.
                       I love you Daddy.
                     You are the greatest.
                     I got to go now Daddy
                         See you later.

Such my friends is the Lord's prayer for those who belong to the
Family of God   - and it is a surprise for many.

As David Buttrick expresses it, The Lord's Prayer with it's 

     "Abba!,  turns all our formal, strained praying into glad
     amusement, for right in the middle of our stained-glass phrases
     is that impudent word "Daddy!"

Lord - teach us how to pray...

To pray the Lord's Prayer, and to pattern prayer after this
example is to be impudent and sassy, to be bold  and to be

It is to be a child.  A child whose father is the God who made
heaven and earth and everything in it.

To pray as Jesus taught us to pray is, above all to be connected.
     - connected when we are afraid and when we are full of
     - connected when we are weeping - and when we are laughing,
     - connected when we are in need - and when we have much to

Lord, teach us how to pray....

When it comes to prayer - nothing else will quite do except that
our hearts and our minds be turned to God as a child turns to its
parents in trust and in confidence; in the trust and the
confidence that they will be heard and helped and encouraged and


THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  (Singing #400 at the start of the prayer time)
     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!

Lord Jesus - brother - Holy One of Israel - we have seen your goodness,
your power, your love.  We have noted how many times you left us to go
apart for a while to pray - and we have seen you pray beside us and reach
out and touch and heal others with a word to God who is above.   Teach us
Jesus to pray as you prayed  - to speak to your Father - your Father and
ours.   Teach us to reach out as you reached out - to touch as you touched
- to talk as you talked,

Father - we need your embrace - we need to sit on your lap and to feel your
arms around us - we need to cuddle up to you and to tell you about the day
we have had - and about the things we are afraid of - and about all the
hopes and all the dreams that we have.   We need to talk to you - to hear
your words of assurance - to get your advice - to see you reach out and fix
the broken things we bring to you - the broken things - the broken people. 
Help us to come to you.  Help us to talk with you.  Help us not be
afraid...  Lord hear our prayer...

We ask these things - we ask all things - through Christ Jesus - who lives
and reigns with you.  Keep us regular Lord - keep us in touch - move our
hearts to an ever deeper love of you, both now and forevermore.  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

L    Lord God, we commit these gifts into your hands 
     and our ourselves into your loving care.
P    Lord God, we dedicate our work to your service 
     and our homes to your praise.
L    Lord God, we promise to you 
     that we will do our best in all that we say and do.
P    Bless us that we may be a blessing to others.  
     We ask it through Jesus Christ. Amen

*  PASSING THE PEACE     (while still standing greet each other with signs
     of love and reconciliation saying words like: "The peace of Christ be
     with you"/ "and also with you")

* COMMUNION HYMN: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"                 - VU 664

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 him thanks and praise.

L   Lord God - in the silence of our hearts we think about all
    that we have received from you and we offer to you our
    praise and our humble gratitude.  Lord hear our prayer.
P   And in your love answer.............(silent prayer)

L   From the very beginning, O God, you have asked us to call
    you upon, to obey your gracious law and to turn to you in
    times of trouble.  We have failed often in this - yet you O
    God have not failed us.  We thank you God for continuing to
    reach out to us - for sending to us, in the fullness of
    time, Jesus Christ, your only Son, to intercede for us, and
    by his death and resurrection, to show forth your
    forgiveness and open to us the way to eternal life.  Help
    us, Father, to remember the price that he paid.
P   Lord - hear our prayer and receive our thanksgiving
     ...(silent prayer)...

L   Father, all your works are gracious and loving, your
    intentions caring and just.  Help us to live as your
    children ought to live, and to walk in the light of the new
    day that Christ Jesus has brought to us.
P   It is by Christ, and in Christ, and through Christ that we
    approach you - thanking you for your mercy and your love, a
    love shown to us in the depth of his suffering and fully
    revealed to all people in the triumph of his resurrection.

-- Words of Institution
-- Consecration of The Elements
-- Sharing The Elements

L    For all that you have given to us - we thank you..
P    For all that you have revealed to us - we praise you.
L    For all that you have commanded - we pledge our obedience.
P    For all that you have called us to - we commit ourselves anew. 

* DEPARTING HYMN: "Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me"                       - vu 637

* 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 AND THREE FOLD AMEN                                  - VU 971
Go in peace, 
- and may the faith and love that comes from the hope that is laid up for
you in heaven pour down richly upon you 
- and may you bear fruit pleasing to God 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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