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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 19 - Proper 14 - Year C
Isaiah 1:1,10-20; Psalm 50; Luke 2:32-40
"Purses That Do Not Wear Out"

READING:  Isaiah 1:1,10-20; Psalm 50; Luke 2:32-40 
SERMON :  "Purses That Do Not Wear Out"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or19sn 793000

   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: Sermon ideas from Ralph Milton in 'Rumors", 1998 for this
   lectionary date, and from, "Luke 12.32-34" as sent
   to the PRCL List in 1998 for this date.

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    Let us worship the bountiful Creator of all that is.
P    We come in faith to the One who calls us to journey together.
L    Come with hope and expectation, honouring the past, 
     being grounded in the present, 
     and looking forward to the future.
P    We come with thanksgiving and praise 
     knowing that God is good and can be trusted with all our days.

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


Almighty and everlasting God, truly you can be trusted with all our days. 
You are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and to give more
than we either desire or deserve.  Your love is so much greater than ours. 
Pour upon us, we pray,  the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those
things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things
for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merit of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  We ask this blessing that we may be a blessing. 
Come and make us in heart, thought, and in action more like unto him.  Amen

* HYMN:      "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"                         - VU 2

CHILDREN'S TIME: "Treasures In Heaven"
Theme:    Treasures in Heaven 
Object:   Piggy Bank with coins and paper hearts with "good deeds and good
          thoughts" written on them for insertion into the piggy bank..
Source:   Self

Good morning......   Have brought today a piggy bank.  Do any of you have
one of these???  What do you put in yours???  Why???

Charlene and I use this for spare change   after a while   when it gets
full   we discover we have saved a lot of money for something special -
just like yours can be when you use it.

Many people have piggy banks and regular banks to save money in for a
special project or day.  It is a good thing to do - it helps build up a
treasure for us.  In the time of Jesus people did the very same thing as we
do with our piggy banks and with our big banks.  Jesus was talking about
this one day and he said that we would all be better off if we saved
treasure in heaven   that the treasures  we save here will all one day be
no good anyway.   

And that got me to thinking?   How do we save treasure in heaven???   Can
any of you help me think about that???

God watching us   knows what we think and say and do?   God seems to think
that some things are  really good to do   and others aren't.  So maybe
treasures are the things that we think say and do that  God really likes
for us to do.....   Things that we give away   are the things we save in
heaven    forgive someone, help someone, cheer up someone, pray for other 
people, visit the sick, have good thoughts about people, take care of the
earth, feed hungry people,  show people how to be loving....

All these things are treasures here on earth that last into heaven   they
help to change the world and  make other people and God very happy.  
Happiness is the best treasure of all....

     We thank you God   for how you feed us each day   and show us
     your love in many ways   help us to save treasure in heaven  
     help us to care for and love    our neighbours and ourselves  
     and do all that you like us to do   both today and forevermore  

     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:  "Many Are The Lightbeams"                                 - VU 588

A READING FROM ISAIAH 1:1,10-20                                            
     (NRSV)  The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning
     Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,
     kings of Judah.  Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! 
     Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! {11} What
     to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had
     enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts;  I do not
     delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. {12} When you
     come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand?  Trample my
     courts no more; {13} bringing offerings is futile; incense is an
     abomination to me.  New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation--
     I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. {14} Your new moons
     and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden
     to me, I am weary of bearing them. {15} When you stretch out your
     hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many
     prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. {16} Wash
     yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from
     before my eyes; cease to do evil, {17} learn to do good; seek justice,
     rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. {18}
     Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are
     like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like
     crimson, they shall become like wool. {19} If you are willing and
     obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; {20} but if you refuse
     and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the
     LORD has spoken.

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

RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 50  (Voices United page 775 with Refrain) 

     (NRSV)  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good
     pleasure to give you the kingdom. {33} Sell your possessions, and give
     alms.  Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing
     treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
     {34} For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {35}
     "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; {36} be like those who
     are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so
     that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.
     {37} Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he
     comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit
     down to eat, and he will come and serve them. {38} If he comes during
     the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are
     those slaves. {39} "But know this: if the owner of the house had known
     at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be
     broken into. {40} You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming
     at an unexpected hour."

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

* HYMN:     "Be Thou My Vision"                                    - VU 642

SERMON:  "Purses That Do Not Wear Out." 

      Loving God, breath into our hearts and minds at this time your
     loving and guiding word.  Inspire us by your Spirit, that we may
     hear, and later do, what you would have us hear and do.  Lift us
     up by your still small voice within and grant us the blessing we
     need and we seek.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen

We take up this week where we left off last week   with Jesus speaking to
the crowds concerning the love of God and the way to eternal life - a life
that is both lived and prepared for here and now - and which extends - with
greater blessings than we can imagine -- into the next life.

How often do we think about the next life?

Last week Jesus reminded the people of how close that life is to us with a
parable about a rich man who was intent on building new and bigger barns so
that he can store even more wealth and enjoy it in ease for years to come -
who suddenly died - his wealth unspent   and he himself totally unprepared
to meet God.

Jesus said at the conclusion of that story: "So it is for those who store
up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God:.

This week's reading begins with the words: 

     "Be not afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good
     pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give
     alms.  Make purses for yourselves  that do not wear out, an
     unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and not
     moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will
     be also."

Sell your possessions.
Give alms to the poor.
Make purses that do not wear out.
Be rich towards God....

Be not afraid, for it is God's good pleasure to give you the kingdom...

How many of you have made up a last will and testament?

It is a good thing to do   in terms of the ways of the world - it is a
smart thing to do; by it you go a long way towards seeing that your wishes
are carried out; and just as importantly - by it you normally help your
family members avoid the temptations that any unspecified inheritance
generally causes a family.  It helps the family both materially and

A last will and testament sees, of course, to the distribution of your
worldly possession - be they many or be they few.  It is a thing of
foresight and planning for the future.  It helps to shape what will happen
in your family - and perhaps even in your community for some time to come.

But what if your soul, like that of the rich fool, in last week's parable,
is suddenly required of you,
     or what, as Jesus speaks of latter in today's reading, the Master, the
     Lord, suddenly returns, if the Son of Man not only comes at an
     unexpected hour - but comes right now.

Do you have a last will and testament that applies towards God?
Do you have a plan for eternity.
Have you been rich towards God and saved a treasure in heaven?

The other day I overheard a group of people talking about lottery tickets. 
They agreed that if they ever won the big one they could afford to be
generous.   Lots of people think about the "Kingdom of God" that way.  Once
they have it, they can afford to spread good will and random acts of

But that is not how it works.
And it never has been.

The kingdom comes in the giving
The gates of at the entrance to the way of life open when you are prepared
to let your life go,
when you are prepared to trust the God who created life in the first place,
when, like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, you are
content to let God feed and cloth you.

Be not afraid, says Jesus, for it is God's good pleasure to give you the
kingdom...  Be not afraid, and  make for yourselves purses that do not wear
out, an unfailing treasure in heaven.

How many of you here carry purses?

Interesting things purses   as a man I always marvel at them   how so many
things can be crammed into them - how they can look so small and weigh so
much   how a person can laden themselves down with so much stuff that at
first glance seems useless - but often turns out to be needed the very next

In the mid-east at the time of Christ - just about everyone carried a purse
with various useful things in it   including of course money.  Jesus
tells us that it would be good for us to make for ourselves spiritual
purses - with spiritually useful things in them - and especially with
treasures that will not fail in heaven - but continue to provide for us the
things we need.

Unfailing treasure in heaven.

What is this unfailing treasure.
How do we make and accumulate a purse full of it.

It is in giving away God's blessings - here and now.
It is in living as Christ lived, here and now.

Last Sunday you heard me read a card of thanks from the three young people
who had been helped by some members of this congregation.  In it one young
man said that the kindness he had received had made him begin to think that
people really can and do care, that there is something more than  darkness
out there   something more than selfishness, something more than
indifference towards strangers.

Treasures in heaven are those things we give away here on earth.
The kingdom comes in the giving.

Which means you will never have treasure in heaven, and you will not be as
glad to see the coming of the kingdom as you might be, if you wait until
you have enough of whatever it is you think you don't have enough of
before you spread good will and engage in random acts of kindness.

Yesterday I got a phone call from a young man and his wife who were
stranded here in Golden.  They live in Calgary, and had taken a few days of
from their work in roofing and taken their old van and gone camping in the

Two weeks away from the hot sun on top of buildings,
     two weeks for the both of them to see if tar could actually we washed
     completely in that time  - it couldn't from what I saw -
and bang, just before it was over - their van was robbed - their purse and
wallet and stereo stolen.

They filed a report.
They attempted to call a brother and a mother in Calgary -
but they are on holidays.

Such was the story and I gave them alms so that they could get home
tonight, and asked that they might return it the sum if they could so that
those alms could be given to someone else, to someone who would never pay
back what was given - or at least not directly to me.  And they said that
they  would - and that they would give me a bit more - so that others less
fortunate than themselves could be helped without expectation of return.

And that got me to thinking,
how easy it is for us to give to those who can give back to us -- 
but how hard it is for us to give to those we think will not give back --
how hard it is sometimes to give from what we have today - and to trust God
to look after us tomorrow.

We find hard to forgive those who are seeking forgiveness,
never mind forgiving those who still seem intent on hurt us and others.

We find it hard to love well those who love us   
     so most wives tell their husbands and most husbands tell their wives
     at least once in a marriage,
never mind loving well those who just want to use us
     or those who actually hate us.

We keep waiting for more money before we do that nice thing we would like
to do.
We keep waiting for more time before we do that special something with
somebody that we have been planning to do some day,

We keep waiting until we feel more fit before we engage in getting fit.
We keep waiting till we have learned more before we begin our project.

We keep waiting for the right time, the right person, the right
circumstance, rather than risking with what we have, and with who we have
before us, right now.

Make for yourself purses that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in

With what we do,
with what we think,
with what we pray,
ultimately, even what we feel, 
makes our purse - and helps to establish the unfailing treasure we shall
enjoy in heaven and here on earth,
     for remember - the kingdom begins here - in our experience of what
     happens when we live as if it was coming to us soon, when we live as
     if it was already here.
Be not afraid little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give
you the kingdom.

Sell your possessions and give alms.  Make purses for yourselves that do
not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven where no thief comes near and
no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be

     I wonder if everyone is acquainted with the story  of how the
     Apostle Thomas took this story to heart  but rather overdid
     it....  The story is told in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas which
     tells how Thomas was sent by Christ to India.

     Thomas was employed by the local king Gundaphorus to build a new
     palace, and Thomas was given money to buy materials and hire
     workmen.  Thomas gave the money to the poor, but always assured
     the king that  his palace was rising steadily.  The king became
     suspicious when Thomas kept putting off his requests to see the
     work in progress and finally sent for Thomas.  "Have you built my
     Palace?", he asked.

     "Yes", Thomas replied.

     "Then we shall go and see it now" said the King.

     Thomas answered: "You can not see it now, but when you depart
     this life you shall see it.  I have built you a palace in heaven
     by giving your money to the poor and needy of your kingdom."

Somehow Thomas survived intact and eventually Gundaphorus became a
Christian, along with many others.  

For them light had come into the darkness.
For them a pearl of great price had been discovered.
For them the world was changed.

Treasures in heaven.
Enjoyed even while on earth.

Don't wait to forgive.
Don't wait to visit the sick.
Don't wait to give alms.
Don't wait to begin that special project that God is gifting you for
Don't wait to start thinking better about other people,
Don't wait before you adjust your attitude about life.

But believe Christ
trust God
and do what the Spirit urges you to do,
in the good book, and in the depths of your hearts.

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

* HYMN:  "What Does The Lord Require of You" (twice)             - VU 701

Prayer By The Vacation Bible School - 
... Lord, hear our prayer...

Prayers About the world
       Victims of terrorism 
       For the homeless and the oppressed
       For those who have lost homes and who are fighting fires or floods 
... Lord, hear our prayer...

Prayers at home - BIDDING PRAYER   
... Lord, hear our prayer...

We ask all these things through Christ Jesus our Lord.  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

     Gracious God, You have promised never to forsake us or leave us. 
     Accept these offerings, and our life and ministry as a living
     sacrifice to You.   Grant us strength to keep our promises as we
     dedicate ourselves to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "All The Way My Saviour Leads Me"               - VU 635

* 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 with the peace of God upon you,
and Go out in faith 
- sure of the things you hope for 
- certain of the things you cannot see 
- and blest with knowing that God goes with you 
both now and forevermore.

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

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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