Sunday, July 25, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Let there be praise and honour for the Father of all goodness – Johann Krebs

Opening Video: Miracles Intro

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

John 6:1-21 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Solo: He Is There

Words by Robert Liddell
Music by Ralph Cruickshank Arr. by Eric Wild
Sung by Simone McParland

Message:

Walking on Water

Matthew 14:22-33

I find it funny that sceptics of the bible often say that one of the things that convinces them that the stories – can’t – be true – is that miracles just don’t happen. Moses initiating the seven plagues on Egypt – a burning bush that speaks – parting the Red Sea – the sun standing still for a day – those things just couldn’t have happened – they’ll say – and that’s just a few miracles from the – OLD Testament.

But just stop and think about it for a minute – the word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is in no way confined to the bible – or even just to Biblical times.

The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is very much part of our modern world and our everyday lives. In spite of all the technological advances – and scientific sophistication – that is part of our modern lives – the word – miracle – is still very much part of our contemporary vocabulary – and the experience of the miraculous – seems to occur almost daily.

Think about it – You open the refrigerator door and you pull out a jar of Miracle Whip – a mayonnaise that spreads so nicely across your bread – and seems to stay fresh forever. Or you unwrap a small – flat bag and put it into something called the microwave – and voila – it puffs up and you have the perfect bag of popcorn – and you say – What a miracle!

In the garden – you pour Miracle Grow onto your plants – and they flourish so splendidly – it has to be a Miracle.

It wasn’t that many years ago that penicillin was discovered – and everyone called it a miracle drug. Soon after that – it was a vaccine to cure polio – and all of our parents said it was a miracle – the children don’t have to fear polio any more. And then – the smallpox vaccine was given to children throughout the whole earth – and there is not one case of smallpox anywhere on the globe and everybody says that it’s a miracle.

And now – there are vaccines against the deadliest threat we’ve faced in our generation – and I call it a miracle. And when a vaccination – or the equivalent – is discovered for cancer – the headlines will shout for joy – Miracle drug found for cancer!

How many times have you seen a report about a car accident – and the body of the car is totally destroyed – and you read about the person who was rescued from the wreck and proclaim – It’s a miracle that anyone came out of that car alive.

My dad lay dying on an operating table – in desperation – they were hooking him up to a heart bypass machine. He’d been in a coma for months – and we had been praying for a Heart transplant – but it looked like the end.

Just as the team was thinking of turning off the machines – we got news that a heart had become available. A team flew across the country and back with the heart in an igloo cooler packed with ice – and his new heart started beating.

People in the hospital said he was the sickest person they had ever known who had lived. Everyone – even the headlines in the newspaper – proclaimed it was a miracle. And my dad became known – at least in some circles – as the miracle man.

The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – didn’t stop when the writing of the bible stopped – miracles are interwoven throughout our modern lives.

What is a miracle? Miracles aren’t just some type of Biblical magic which confound the mind – such as the body levitating or floating in air – or the magic of a shorter leg miraculously stretching out three or four inches – raising the dead.

The focus of miracles isn’t on some magical voodoo or natural laws that have been violated. Rather – a God given miracle – is a series of events – and the timing of events in such a way – that convince us that God has intervened in our lives. The result of such miraculous intervention is the experience of awe and adoration. We go – wow! – and then we worship God in thanksgiving for the miracle.

For example – one man is scheduled to have heart bypass surgery because of a blockage in his arteries – after proper consultation and planning – he receives a double bypass – and rightfully – he is grateful to God and the doctors.

But another man – goes into the hospital for a simple testing procedure – just as they get started – he begins to have a heart attack on the table. Fear takes over – he feels sharp pain in his heart like he has never felt before – and he overhears the doctor’s intense conversation as they go to work to calm his heart down.

He thinks life is over. A surgeon is immediately found – and an emergency bypass is done. and when he wakes up several hours later – in a strange room – connected to monitors and pumps – and he starts to comprehend what has happened – that man – and likely those around him – will say – That was a miracle. That he is alive is a miracle. He was a walking time bomb – and to have a heart attack on the operating table – the timing couldn’t have been better.

It was the sequence of events – and the timing of events – in the hospital for simple tests – a heart attack on the table – a surgeon immediately available – and now we have someone who is convinced that God intervened in his life. How could someone’s response be anything other than awe and adoration, wow and worship to God.

I want to suggest that we all try to adjust our definition of the miraculous. Change what we think of as a miracle from something like – magic happened – or natural laws were violated – into something broader – more like – the sequence of events – and timing of events has convinced us that – God – has intervened and saved us or helped us. And they are not uncommon or rare events – miracles are very much part of our lives.

Our reading for today is really two stories – but the common thread that links them together is that they are both considered miracle stories. For today – I’m going to focus on the second story – Jesus walking on water.

Lets set the setting. It was religious time in Israel – Passover – that meant a holiday from school – a holiday from work – packing up the donkey and heading to Jerusalem for a religious trip.

It was also tragedy time in Israel – John the Baptist – one of their great prophets and moral visionary – had been assassinated by King Herod – as a nation – they were grieving – and so was Jesus.

And it was popularity time for Jesus – His miracles and teachings had created notoriety – and large crowds were following him like masses of young people following a pop star.

In recent days – we’ve seen Jesus do several miracles in a row. Jesus stilled the storm on Lake Galilee – Jesus then raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead – Jesus cured the sick – He cast out demons – and He just fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish.

The miracle of the walking on the water occurs immediately after all these other miracle stories in the timeline of the Gospels. John isn’t the only one to record this miracle – you might be more familiar with the version that includes Peter stepping out of the boat and joining Jesus. For the sake of this discussion – I’m going to treat them all as one story.

After feeding the five thousand – Jesus sent the crowds home and the disciples out in a boat in Lake Galilee – a large lake – eight miles wide by thirteen miles long. Jesus himself went up into the hills to pray. Meanwhile – the wind on the lake really picked up – and the disciples were having a lot of trouble rowing into that headwind.

The disciples were frustrated by the wind. And then – seemingly out of nowhere – Jesus appeared to the disciples – walking on the water. The Bible says that the disciples were frightened – terrified – crying out – utterly astounded by what they saw – as if they were seeing a ghost.

Their reaction wasn’t – great – here comes Jesus – just like we expected – walking on the water. He must be God. No – they were frightened – shocked – and terrified by what they saw.

And so are you and I – at least when we are in one of those particular moments in life when we experience something that convinces us that there is a God – a God that is real – a God that is truly God – and sees every movement of our lives.

There are times when we finally – and really believe – in the existence of a personal God – and can become frightened about the possibility that He sees us for who we truly are.

When faced with the reality that God has seen everything we have done and thought – our reaction is to be frightened – saying to ourselves – O my God – I’m in big trouble now.

And Jesus – seeing their fears – said to them – Do not be afraid – it is I. And today – God seeing our fears and insecurities – says to us – Don’t be afraid of me. Do not be afraid.

And when Jesus got into the boat with them – the wind died down – and the disciples were in awe – in fearful reverence of Jesus – and they worshipped him as the Son of God – they praised him in thanksgiving for saving them.

Not being able to explain what happened – or how it happened – those disciples believed that they had experienced a miracle – the sequence of events – and the timing of events convinced them that God – that Christ – had intervened and saved their lives.

And what was their reaction? The experience of awe and holiness. And then of worship and thanksgiving. They concluded – truly – Jesus is the Son of God.

When we experience a miracle in the Bible or in real life – we often want to explain what is unexplainable. And so – we rationalize and intellectualize – trying to figure out what happened. For example – we try to explain the walking on the water.

Maybe you’ve heard this joke – it’s not new. A rabbi – a priest – and a united church minister – were fishing in a boat together – not too far from shore. The rabbi used up all his bait – noticed a bait store a short way away – got out of the boat – walked on the water to the bait shop – bought some bait – and returned the same way

Then – the priest ran out of bait – walked on water over to the bait shop and back again and started fishing. Then – the united church minister ran out of bait. Now – he had a look of doubt on his face – but stepped out of the boat – and sank like a stone.

The rabbi looked at him – and said – laughing – Hey – don’t you know where the sand bar is?

It’s just a joke – and not a very good one – but it’s also an attempt to explain how Jesus walked on water. Maybe He walked on a reef. Maybe Jesus knew where the reef was – but Peter didn’t – that’s why Peter sank.

Some scholars will suggest that the Greek language implied that Jesus walked – beside the water – and because of the conditions and the angles – the disciples only thought he was walking on water. These are attempts to rationalize – to explain – to think like a Greek – and ask – how did this happen.

But what I am suggesting – is that something happened that night that we – and they – don’t quite understand – in the sequence of events – and in the timing of those events – they experienced the miraculous saving power of God in their lives.

That’s the miracle – the experience of God’s intervening and saving presence in their lives. It’s not the magic – it’s not the proving how it happened. That’s the wrong focus.

The disciples were in a boat – unable to move in the middle of the lake – they were in trouble – scared – and then Jesus came to them – walking on the water – and saved them. They were awestruck by what they experienced – encountering the holiness of God – and they worshipped Christ as the Son of God in appreciation for what he had done for them. They couldn’t explain it – they didn’t even try to explain it – they just accepted it as a miracle demonstrating the saving power of God.

When my dad finally came out of his coma – this was still a few weeks after the transplant – and he was able to communicate with us again – he asked what happened.

I could have explained how his initial heart surgery had gone wrong – all the heroic efforts that people had gone through to keep him alive.

I could have told him about what was almost his last day – his heart finally giving up and being put on bypass.

I could have explained that a heart was found in BC and the amazing efforts of the doctors who arranged a plane to fly out and bring it back. I could have talked about and detailed every bit of science – skill – and technology involved in the seven-hour transplant operation.

But I didn’t – what I said to my dad – and what I knew to be – was this. Dad – God gave us a miracle.

My dad lived another 30 years after that operation – and one of the ways that he gave back was by talking on behalf of the transplant donor program. Although dad always talked about the importance of being a donor – and of the dedicated people and all the science and resources involved – he always ended with thanking God for bringing the miracle of it all together.

In our story – the focus shouldn’t be on the miracle of walking on water – it should be on the saving of Peter and the disciples in the midst of disaster. The miracle wasn’t the surgeries and the Transplant – the miracle is that my dad was miraculously given another 30 years. Praise God!!!

When it was all said and done – these series of miracles convinced the disciples – and the early church – that Jesus was the Son of God. They experienced several miracles in a row – the stilling of the storm – the raising of Jairus’ daughter – the healing of the lepers – the casting out of demons – the feeding of the five thousand – then the walking on water.

And finally – the disciples slowly came to the conclusion and realization – Truly – this is the Son of God – And they worshipped Christ as Lord.

And through various events in our lives – incomprehensible to us – God works on us – and in us – in such a way that we too – are stopped in our tracks – and slowly we come to the realization – Jesus – you are the Son of God – We worship you.

Amen.

Hymn: “For The Crowd Of Thousands”

Video: Miraculous

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Just As I Am”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Eternal Father, Strong to Save – John Dykes, arr. Larry Shackley

Sunday, July 18, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 18, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Two Chorale Preludes by Friedrich Marpurg:
Lord, as You will, be with me – Gaestorius;
What God ordains is always good – Bach

Opening Video: Worlds Collide

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 New International Version(NIV)

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Solo: Of the Loving Kindness of the Lord – text from Psalm 89,

which is one of the lectionary readings for today; music by Robert Powell
Sung by Sue Brushey

Message:

Let’s go somewhere quiet.

In the gospel of Mark – chapter 6 verse 31 – Jesus said – Come away to a place where there are no cell phones – where the internet is always down – your iPad won’t work – a place where you can rest and be recharged.

Well – not his exact words – but close enough. Now admit it – isn’t that an attractive sounding invitation in the midst of our fast-paced – over-scheduled – information-filled days.

On the surface – I’d say that we seem to enjoy – even live for – the hectic pace of our lives. It’s not very often that you run into someone who’s excited to tell you that they spent the weekend doing nothing in particular – but instead – they’ll talk your ear off telling you about all the things they – did – do.

Our culture supposes that activity and accomplishment are better than rest. We identify ourselves to one another most often by what we do rather than who we are.

Think about the last time you introduced yourself to someone new – if it was anything like my normal introductions – after your name – and maybe where you are from – the first thing you tell someone about yourself is what you do for a living.

It’s so easy to find ourselves slipping into a rhythm of activity that allows little time for refreshment of body and soul. Our busyness seems to preclude time for family meals – in-depth conversation with friends – times to just sit still for a few minutes in the silence.

Last week – I talked about some things God wants us to do when our lives are going good. The second point that I made – was that God would want us to rest and restore ourselves. This week – I’m going to look at what that means a little more closely.

Rest and restoration is closely tied to the biblical concept of Sabbath – which literally means – to cease. And Sabbath is a gift that invites us to step away from our – over scheduled – busy lives – and experience a rest that can only come from God. An invitation to escape to a place apart where one can find Sabbath is enticing.

Mark’s telling of the Jesus story – has a – frantic pace about it. In the sixth chapter of Mark – Jesus sends out his disciples in pairs to go among the villages and teach. He gives them power over unclean spirits. He instructs his disciples not to take food – a bag – or money with them – but to accept with gratitude the hospitality extended to them.

Jesus says to his disciples – If you are not welcomed – not listened to – don’t make a big deal about it – As you leave simply – shake the dust off your feet and keep going. So they went out among the villages proclaiming repentance – casting out demons – and healing many who were sick.

I imagine that when they returned – they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus stories about their accomplishments.

Now – by this time – Jesus and his disciples have been creating quite a stir among the people – so they find it difficult to stop and rest – much less eat a meal in peace. Even as Jesus listens to his disciples’ stories – people are coming and going.

So – Jesus says to his disciples – Let’s go off by ourselves so we can rest – talk about the good you have accomplished and share a quiet meal together. And they all get in a boat and set sail for that deserted place with no cell phone reception – no wi-fi – no interruptions – just Jesus and his friends.

Finally – they get a little time to leave the work at the office – and forget about any schedules – and just rest.

As it turns out – Jesus is on to something. The rhythm of work – along with rest – seems to help human beings function better – and feel better about ourselves.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology by a joint team of Canadian and American researchers – confirms what most of us already know. People – regardless of income – working hours – profession – or age – feel better mentally and physically – when they take time off from their labors.

The report states – Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being. Unrestricted time provides critical opportunities for bonding – exploring other interests – and relaxation.

We know from our reading of Scripture that Jesus observes the Sabbath. We have stories of Jesus being in the synagogue on the Sabbath. We also have stories of Jesus’ struggles with religious leaders over how the Sabbath is to be observed.

He seems to focus more on what is appropriate behavior – and on what Sabbath stands for – rather than on the significance of a particular day for Sabbath observance.

Earlier in Mark’s Gospel – Jesus teaches that Sabbath is a gift. It’s a day to be freed from our labors to enjoy the creation and the Creator. He says – The Sabbath was made for us – not us for the Sabbath. The invitation of Jesus to his disciples to retire to a place where they can rest – take a deep breath – bond with one another – and share in telling their stories – is important for their well-being.

Who among us doesn’t know that things do not always go as planned? As Jesus and the disciples cross the lake in a boat – word spreads that they are on the move. People set out on foot and reached the place Jesus has in mind as a place of rest.

When Jesus and his disciples arrive on the shore – they find a crowd waiting for them. The crowd wants to hear what Jesus has to say. It’s part of the human experience – to seek out what we think is lacking in our lives. The crowd is hungry for an assuring word. They want desperately to be made well – and the word is out that Jesus offers what they most need.

Mark tells us that – Jesus had compassion for them – because they were like sheep without a shepherd – and he began to teach them many things. Although Jesus is most likely tired and hungry himself – He gives the crowd what they most need.

He stops and focuses on people in need. He sees people whose lives are chaotic as they try to provide for their families. He sees people who are confused by the changes in the world about them. He sees people fearful of others who are not just like them. He sees people whose lives are too busy to find answers for themselves. He sees people who simply have lost their way. He sees people who are hungry for reassurance – and long for words of hope. He sees people who need some Sabbath time to spend with God. He sees all the people of the world – he sees them – and He has compassion on them and teaches them.

Today – we are a lot like those people who flocked to Jesus. Those who dwell in the world are terrified of being alone. We live in a world that isn’t just full of noise – but one into which people intentionally introduce and multiply noise.

According to Nielsen – the authority on such matters – the average North American now watches 4-1/2 hours of television – movies – and Internet video each day – that’s 32 hours per week!

I’ll admit – I contribute to those numbers – and I’ve seen enough of those videos to know that there mostly just noise. Why is the world so afraid to go to the quiet place?

Well – what may be found in the quiet place is so unlike what the world knows – it’s the undoing of the media dreamworld – and the discovery of reality – a reality that has meaning and purpose – a definite beginning and an approaching end.

The quiet place is a vulnerable place – the quiet place is a place for self-assessment – what haven’t I done that I should do – and what have I done that was wrong? The quiet place is a holy place – a place where someone might meet God.

God has given us the Sabbath so that we can step aside from the pressures and demands of all our business – and reconnect with Him.

God’s desire is to be in an intimate relationship with you. God gives you the time for both work – and rest – to enable you to be the person He has created you to be. A Sabbath gives you the opportunity to rest physically – but more importantly – it gives you the opportunity to rest and draw near to God.

But – maybe you’re like me. You see – I can understand the importance of rest. The problem is I often can’t work out how to find the time to rest myself. There always seems to be something I need to do.

My mind is always active with things I need to do – today – tomorrow – next week – I feel like I always have a full to-do list:

Write next Sunday’s sermon. Call Paul. Speak to Cathy. Call Diane. Visit Keith. Prepare a funeral. Edit the video. Find some music.

So much to do – yet sometimes – I can’t escape the feeling I’m still not doing enough for Jesus. A good day for me is often defined by getting things done on my list. Not by the people I’ve interacted with – not the time I’ve spent with God – not the things I’ve learned – not if I have rested. Just what I’ve done. What am I really accomplishing by being busy all the time?

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Do you need to learn how to rest and relax?

Jesus says He will show you how to take a real rest – watch how He does it – learn from Him. Jesus offers us rest and He shows us how to do it. Rest is a necessity – not an optional extra – rest is an act of worship – not a sign of laziness.

Jesus made time for spiritual rest – physical rest – and emotional rest. For His spiritual rest – Jesus made time to be alone with God. Early in the morning – during the day – or late at night – draw aside and come into the presence of God. Refreshment and renewal comes from spending time with God. You need to be still so you can hear His voice.

Physical rest – the Bible tells us that even Jesus – the Son of God – slept. I never seem to get enough sleep – it’s that whole – mind working even when the body isn’t thing. But Jesus – Jesus fell asleep in a boat in the midst of a raging storm. When others were counting on His help – Jesus took a nap.

He knew when His body needed physical rest and was unapologetic about taking it. Jesus showed His disciples – and He shows us – the importance of physical rest.

And Jesus knew it was important to withdraw from the crowds for emotional rest. Jesus would move away and leave the crowds of people – even when they desperately wanted Him. In the midst of chaos – when people were demanding His attention – Jesus was clear about what God was calling Him to do and Jesus got into a boat with His disciples and went to the other side – to be away from the multitudes.

Yeah – easier said than done – you might say. Where do we get the time – I’m too busy to stop being busy. But – Jesus calls us away to a quiet place to be with Him. We must go – away from the noise.

Remember that number I gave you earlier – that the average person wastes around 4.5 hours on mindless video each day? Simple – tithe your video time. We generally think of tithing our finances for God – giving 10% of your income back to God.

I’m going to suggest that we give 10% of our video time back to God. Personally – I think the 4 and a half hours that is supposed to be the average – might be a bit high – for the sake of easier math – let’s say it’s between two and a half and three and a half hours.

One tenth of that would between 15 and 20 minutes a day – that’s your tithe – it’s what you give back to God. Are you spending 15-20 minutes alone and quiet with the Lord – just the two of you – apart from all other distractions?

And notice I keep saying – give back – to God. Because that’s what a tithe is – you’re not giving up anything that’s yours to begin with. Whether it’s money or time – it’s all a gift from God in the first place.

And if spending 10% of your video time seems too hard – start smaller – work up to it. If you can truly rest spiritually – physically – and emotionally for 15 to 20 minutes a day with God – it won’t be long before you are thinking that 10% isn’t giving enough back.

When Jesus offers to take your burdens – He means it. Jesus provides the way for you to rest securely in Him.

May I encourage each of us to follow Christ – draw on His strength to live and work – and to take the time to rest – spiritually – physically and emotionally in God.

Remember to observe your time of Sabbath – because hope is found there – when you choose to rest and relax in God.

Amen.

Hymn: “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

Video: Psalm 23

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Our God, How Great – Colin Curtis

Sunday, July 11, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July 11, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: He Whispered, “Peace, Be Still” – Helen Griggs, arr. Tedd Smith

Opening Video: A Psalm of Worship

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Song: “Holy Is The Lord God Almighty”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6:12 So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes..

Solo: Love the Lord – words by Richard Row; music by George Handel

Message:

What to do when life is good.

I remember one day – from way back in my school years – that I woke up feeling great after a good night’s sleep. I was refreshed – full of anticipation – just raring to go. For the first time in my life – I was putting on clothes that were less than a year out of fashion – and they were clean and crisp – I was feeling – and looking GOOOOD.

When I got to school – I discovered that – up to that time in the semester – I had straight A’s. at lunch time – there were three different groups of kids wanting me to sit with them.

One of the yearbook photographers was there – and they took a picture of me leaning in close and talking to the best-looking girl in the whole school. I remember sitting there thinking – man these are some good times! Of course – it was only the first day of kindergarten – but still – – –

Everyone has bad days – I know I’ve had my fair share. And over the past year and a half or so – I’d say that we’ve all had more bad days than we deserve. Life is full of confusing times – and it’s filled with times when things go wrong – but it’s also filled with times when things go right. There are times when things are just going goooood!!!

Right now – things are looking up – things are opening up. More and more people are being fully vaccinated. Shopping is easier – it’s easier to get services – everyone’s hair is looking better. Relatively speaking – times are good.

We can all relate to this – sometimes there are times when you look out at the sea of life – and it’s nothing but smooth sailing ahead. Many of us may be thinking – hey life is good – there’s nothing to worry about.

Well – I hate to be the one to break this to you – but we should always be aware that there are some dangerous things that can happen during good times.

I know – I know – stop raining on our parade – what do you mean? How can there be dangerous things to look out for when things seam to be going so good?

Well – one word – Titanic! I think we all know the story about how the maiden voyage of this magnificent boat was supposed to be a triumph of man’s ability to build a boat that could not sink. This boat was bigger and grander than any boat in the world – and the party – for those special guests who got to sail on the maiden voyage – was going to be incredible.

But right as the people were just getting the night going in full swing – and everything was going good – boom – they hit an iceberg. The rest – as we say – is history.

While the people on board were partying without a care in the world – the crew was still controlling the vessel – but even for them – the voyage was going good – until they encountered one of the most dangerous things in the ocean – an iceberg.

The thing that’s so dangerous about an iceberg – isn’t what you can see of them – but what you can’t. Only a small percent of the ice is above the surface of the water – you may see what you think is just a little piece of floating ice – and it turns out to be a deadly underwater mountain of ice.

Here’s my point in all of this – when life is going good – and things are going right – there can still be a very real danger for the Christian lying just beneath the surface.

The danger is that we can become so focused in – and on – ourselves – that we forget about God. We often find it easy to focus on God when things aren’t going well. We ask – Why God? – or God help me – us. When things are bad – we turn to prayer – or to the scriptures for answers. But when things are going good – how often do we think of God.

So – how do we keep focus on God when things are going right? Well – we’ve been looking at David’s life on and off for the past little while – like most of us – his life is made up of both good times and bad – the reading we had today is about one of the better times.

So using the life of this second king of Israel – along with a few other scriptures – lets see if we can figure out what to do when things go right.

The three things that I want to talk about are – Rejoice – Rest – and Reach Out.

Before we look into rejoicing – lets look at David’s story for just a moment. As I mentioned – David was the second king of Israel – but that’s only part of his story.

To begin he was a shepherd boy – who under the first king of Israel – killed the giant Philistine warrior Goliath – with just a sling shot and a stone.

Later on – he is anointed to be the next king – but the first king – Saul – is still in power and getting more and more jealous of David every day. In fact – he tries to kill David – obviously – without success – and finally – David is made the king of Israel.

His first task was to bring back the Ark of the Lord to Israel – and this was a very big deal – because this ark – or box – was the centerpiece for the tabernacle back in the desert during Moses’s time. This is where we pick up our story of things going right.

2 Samuel 6:12-15 – So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets

This is an example of our first point of what to do when things go right – Rejoice – Rejoice in the fact that God has given you a blessing

James 5:13 says – Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.

Now I’m sure we all know that we should praise God during our prayer times. And we are asked to rejoice in the Lord during worship – and those activities – at those times – are important – but it’s just as important to offer praise and rejoice in the midst of our circumstances!!!

It’s so easy for us to get focused on me – me – me – that we totally forget that we are called to depend on God – and keep our eyes on Him – even in the good times.

Like I hinted at before – when I was using the illustration of the Titanic – when things are going right – it can be very easy to forget about the dangers that lie just beneath the surface.

That’s a lack of focus – if we don’t keep our focus – we lose sight of things that may be important. And one of the things that’s important – is remembering where the good times have come from.

In James 1:17 – it says that every good gift is from above – so how do we get this focus off ourselves and back onto God? We do what David did in our scripture – David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Now – this is more than just your basic – happy dance. It’s not some slick rehearsed move that you see after a player has run across the goal line. Those moves don’t proclaim God is good – they shout – look at me – not where we want to put our focus.

David did was simply praising God the best way he could – He was the of king Israel – a dignified statesman – but he said that he would become even more undignified than that – in his praising of God.

David realized that his good times were a blessing from God – and therefore God deserved to be praised – and thanked – and celebrated with all his might. Just imagine how our lives might be different if every time we got a good grade on a test – or a promotion – or something good happened in our lives – we praised and worshiped God with all our might!!!

I think we’d begin to see some fairly radical changes – if we would take the focus off of ourselves – and give God the glory.

Next – when things are going good – Rest – and be restored by God.

Just after our reading from today at the beginning of the 7th chapter of 2nd Samuel it says this – After the king was settled in his palace – and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him – he said to Nathan – and the story goes on from there.

It says that – the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies – so – another thing we should do when things go right – is rest and be restored by God.

When you get sick – what do the doctors tell you to get lots of? They tell you to get lots of rest – because your body needs a chance to restore itself back to full health. The same can be said when we have times when things go right.

We have seen all the things that can go wrong in life – and all the things that will confuse us – and leave us tired and stressed out – So God gives us seasons of good times – when all is well – to find the rest we need – and to be restored by His mercy and grace.

In 1st Peter 5:10 – it says – And after you have suffered for a little while – the God of all grace – who called you to His eternal glory in Christ – will himself restore – support – strengthen – and establish you.

When Peter wrote this verse – he was writing to 1st century Israelites – who had converted to Christianity – and as a result were being persecuted.

He tells them that a time when things will go right is coming – and during these times – God will – restore you – support you – strengthen you – and establish you.

So – how do we rest and become restored? When things are going right – you could start by praising God like we talked about in our first point. There is something powerful about worship that leaves us refreshed and renewed – like the smell after the rain has come and washed away all the pollution.

Another way we can rest and become restored is to rediscover God. You can do this by opening up your Bible – and reading and praying and spending some time with God.

When I think back to the good times in my life – I have always looked for people to share that time with – there is just something about human nature that wants to share the joy of good times. God loves to spend time with us – just like a best friend – and a great way to find rest and restoration is to share your good times with God.

Spending time with God is the key to finding rest and being restored. Anyone who has ever tried to restore an old piece of furniture – knows that things never restore themselves. The same is true for you and me – we need to spend time with God if we are going to be restored.

So – when things are going good – the first thing we should do is – Rejoice in the fact that God has given us a blessing – then we should Rest – and let God restore us – and finally we should –

Reach Out – to others who are going through hard times

1st John 3:16-17 says – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

When things go right – it’s a blessing from God – but there’s more to this blessing than just sitting and soaking up the good times. When God gives us times of things going right – we should use these as an opportunity to reach out to other people who may be going through some not so good times.

In that verse from 1st John – we see several key points to take note of. The first is that Jesus loved us enough to die for us – and He is asking us to do the same for others. Now – I’m not saying that we should all go out and find a little old lady crossing the street and jump in the path of on coming traffic so that we can say we lay down our lives for others.

What I am saying is that laying down our lives for others might be giving up some of our wants and desires – and putting others first. When we get to enjoy some good times in life – we should share these with others by reaching out our hand to help those who are not doing quite as well as we are.

Very practically – it could be stopping to pass some time with that person who always seems to be alone – or sending a thank you card to someone who might not have even known they helped you in some way.

Simple acts of kindness that require us to lay down our lives for others – and reach out and share some of our good fortune.

The other key point from the 1st John verse eludes to the fact that – if someone who has – see’s someone who has not – but doesn’t help them out – how can they say that they have the love of God in them.

Someone who has – that’s someone experiencing good times – and someone who has not – is someone experiencing tough times. If things are going good – help those who you can.

After David had rejoiced and danced for the blessing of good times – and after he found rest and restoration in God – he looked around and saw that the ark we had talked about before had no permanent home for other people to come and worship God. So – David wanted to help them out by building a beautiful temple that would be a worthy home for God and his people to come together. God had other plans – but David – when things were going well for him – wanted to be able to pass some of that goodness on – he reached out in his time of things going right.

When life is good – remember God – through rejoicing – resting – and reaching out – and don’t let the seemingly little icebergs tear a hole in your good times.

Amen.

Hymn: “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

Video: Journey

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Werde munter, mein Gemüte – Johann Walther “Be alert, my soul, and direct your thoughts to the good things that God has done for me.”

Sunday, July 4, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


July, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Speak, Lord, in the Stillness – Harold Green, arr. for piano/organ duet by Larry Shackley Played with Eddy Zheng

Opening Video: Amazing King

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 6:1-13 New International Version (NIV)

6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Solo: Prayer for Peace – lyrics by Gertrude Tingley, music by Jean-Baptiste Lully Sung by Sheikh Ali

Message:

Are You Amazed?

He really is amazing – isn’t He? Whether you have just stumbled upon this virtual service – or if you’ve been a part of the Cooksville United family for years – my prayer is that you would be amazed by Jesus every time you hear His name.

The scribes and the skeptics were amazed at his teaching. The hungry and hurting were amazed by his miracles. An adulterer and her accusers were amazed by his love.

But have you ever wondered what amazes Jesus? What might astonish the most astonishing person who ever lived? What could boggle the infinite mind of the God-Man? What could leave the greatest teacher – speechless?

Well – in our reading for today – we heard one time when Jesus was amazed. Jesus had just completed a whirlwind tour across much of northern Israel.

He amazed his disciples by calming the wind and waves on Lake Galilee. He amazed the people by casting a legion of demons into a herd of swine. He amazed a sick woman who was healed the instant she touched his cloak. And His last stop was the home of Jairus – whose daughter had died earlier that day. But death wouldn’t stop Jesus – He took the little girl’s hand and whispered in her ear – Little girl – get up – and she did – she got up and walked – and the Bible says – They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.

Jesus was amazing everyone he encountered. But then we hear that – Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth – his hometown.

Maybe – He was tired from all His travels and just wanted to sit in His favourite spot by the family hearth. Maybe His mom had been nagging Him to come home and visit for a while. Whatever his reasons were – there’s always something special about going home – the comfort – the familiarity of it all.

But a lot’s changed since Jesus left Nazareth. He left alone and a carpenter – He returned a famous rabbi with a whole entourage of disciples. And – His reputation has preceded him because the local rabbi invites Jesus to speak.

So – Jesus now has the opportunity to preach in the church he grew up in. The Bible says – when He began teaching in the synagogue – many who heard him were amazed. They asked – Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?

Here Jesus was – back in his hometown – preaching to the same people who watched him play in the dirt as a child – who saw him struggle through puberty – who witnessed the grief in his eyes when his earthly father died – and they were amazed. Some of them were amazed at His words – His wisdom and the wonders He could perform. It was obvious that there was something special about this home-town hero.

Two thousand years later – and Jesus is no less amazing. The most amazing event in human history was the coming of Jesus into this world. The most amazing words ever spoken were His words. The most amazing deeds ever done were accomplished by His hands. The most amazing gift ever offered was His life on the cross.

More songs have been sung of Him – artwork created of Him – and books written about Him – than anyone who has ever lived. Jesus looms so large over human history that we actually measure time by him – we date our letters – our birth certificates – our checks – everything – from the year of his birth. Jesus stands alone in all of history—the single most amazing person who ever lived

Extraordinary – Astonishing – Amazing – Jesus is all that and more. But no matter how amazing something or someone is – there will always be critics and complainers.

There’s a story that Charles Swindoll tells in his book – Three Steps Forward – Two Steps Back – about a farmer wanted to impress his hunting buddies. So – he bought the smartest – most expensive hunting dog he could find.

He trained this dog to do things no other dog on earth could do – impossible feats that would surely amaze anyone. Then he invited his buddies to go duck hunting with him. After a long patient wait in the boat a group of ducks flew over and the hunters were able to make a few hits.

Several ducks fell in the water. Go get ’em! – shouted the proud owner. The dog leaped out of the boat – but it didn’t splash into the water – it calmly walked on the water – it went directly to each bird – somehow picked them all up – and proudly walked back to the boat.

Beaming with pride, the man turned to his fellow hunters and said – So what do you think? One of them looked at him with a wrinkled brow and said – Boy you sure got ripped off. You spent all that money on a dog that doesn’t even know how to swim!

Some of Jesus’s neighbors were just as unimpressed with Him. Our story says – Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us. They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family’

Nazareth wasn’t known for much. It was a small – insignificant – town on the outskirts of a Roman garrison. Estimates put the population during Jesus’ day at around 80 – Nazareth wasn’t the brightest star in the ancient Near East.

There was even a saying – that was once repeated by Philip – Can anything good come from Nazareth? It seems like this opinion was repeated often enough that the people of Nazareth themselves became convinced the answer was no.

Jesus can’t be anything special – they thought – He’s one of us – He grew up right here – He’s no messiah – He’s just a carpenter.

Some of you may have heard of Leonard Bernstein – he was a brilliant composer – conductor – author – and pianist. Growing up – however – Leonard’s father had not given his son very much encouragement in his musical career. Later in life – a reporter asked his father why he had been so unwilling to encourage his son’s musical talents. The father replied – How was I to know he would grow up to become Leonard Bernstein?

Likewise – how could the people of Nazareth have known that this son of a carpenter would grow up to become Jesus of Nazareth? They thought they knew everything there was to know about this kid – and their familiarity bred contempt.

I wonder sometimes – if we aren’t a little too familiar with Jesus ourselves.

I know we didn’t grow up on the same street. We’ve never shared a meal with Mary and Joseph. You and I never hired Jesus to build a fence or repair our stable. But we’ve grown up with

And I wonder if our culture hasn’t become so saturated with Jesus that we’ve grown desensitized to him. We’ve all heard the story of Jesus. We’ve heard it in Sunday School – in sermons – in songs. We think we know everything there is to know about Jesus. Maybe to the point where none of it amazes us anymore.

We’ve grown up with Jesus as though He lived right here – in our hometown – among us. Unfortunately – like Jesus said – A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown. We are the hometown.

But you know – as much as we fail to be amazed by Jesus – Jesus is amazed by us. The next couple of verses in Mark tell us the rest of the story – And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief”

What amazes the most amazing person to walk the earth? I do – You do – We all do when we don’t believe. Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. He still is – I think.

We are living in an age of increasing unbelief. With each census and poll – we see the number of people who claim – no religious belief – to be rising – I’m amazed at how quickly unbelief has taken root in so many hearts. And if I’m amazed – imagine how amazed Jesus must be. But forget about the atheists and agnostics for a minute – what about you and me – what about people who do claim Christianity to be among their beliefs?

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see more miracles in your life? Let’s read that verse again – because of their unbelief – He couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

Because of their unbelief – Jesus didn’t do any miracles. Do you think He doesn’t do miracles in my life because of my unbelief? Do you think He doesn’t do any miracles in your life because of your unbelief?

That’s not to say that Jesus didn’t have the power to do miracles while he was in Nazareth. He did heal some sick people – but only a few.

Why? I think it’s because only a few believed that he would. If you’ve ever fallen to your knees to ask Jesus to perform a miracle in your life – did you really believe He would do it? Do you really believe in miracles enough to even ask Jesus in the first place?

Personally – I think that I’m a lot like the father who Jesus meets in Mark chapter 9.

Jesus had been on the mountain with Peter – James – and John – that’s when they witness his radiant glory – the event we call the transfiguration.

But when Jesus reaches the bottom of the hills – He hears arguing. A father came to his disciples asking them to heal his son – but they couldn’t do it. After explaining the situation to Jesus – the man pleads – Have mercy on us – and help us – if you can.

What do you mean – If I can? – Jesus asked. Anything is possible if a person believes. The father instantly cried out – I do believe – but help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:22-24)

That’s the first miracle that we need to ask Jesus for – that’s the first prayer that should always come from our lips in times of need – Lord Jesus – I believe – help me overcome my unbelief.

I think that’s the kind of prayer Jesus responds to. I think that’s the kind of prayer that brings about a miracle. It did for that desperate father. The Bible says Jesus restored his son’s hearing and speech – and then Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him to his feet. He can do the same for each one of us – if we believe.

We have been talking about belief – and the lack of it for a few weeks now. We’ve seen how Jesus scolds His disciples because they don’t have enough faith. Jesus saves them from the storm on the Galilean Sea – but they could have saved themselves if they had believed they could.

Miracles happen – for the woman who was bleeding and for Jairus’s dead daughter – simply because they believe that Jesus can help them.

And today – we have heard that Jesus is amazed at people’s lack of faith. He was able to heal some people in His hometown – imagine what He would have been able to do if more people had believed.

We read the stories – and maybe we are amazed by the things Jesus did long ago – but imagine the miracles we could see today – by us – through Jesus – if we would only believe that the amazing is still possible.

Amen.

Hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Video: These Three Remain

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “One More Step Along The World I Go”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Air from French Suite no. 4 – J.S. Bach

Sunday, June 27, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


June 27, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Fairest Lord Jesus – Silesian folk tune, arr. Wendy Stevens

Opening Video: Faithfull God

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Praise To The Lord The Almighty”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Scripture: Mark 5:21-43 New International Version (NIV

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” His disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Solo: The Shepherd – text from Isaiah 40:11; music by Mary Caldwell

Message:

When Your World Crashes

In last week’s gospel story – we saw Jesus quiet a furious storm on the Sea of Galilee. In that story – he accuses the disciples of not having enough faith – I summarized that the faith they lacked – was actually faith in themselves. If they had just had enough faith in themselves – they wouldn’t have had to wake Jesus up and ask Him for a miracle.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes we are faced with things that – we can never be expected to deal with. Sometimes – through no fault of our own – our world comes crashing down on us.

Take this past year and a half for example. People have lost their jobs – their livelihood – their homes – some even their lives. All because of a virus that they – personally – had absolutely no control over.

Faith in yourself is important – but sometimes – it’s not enough. Whether or not they had the power to do anything about the storm themselves – the disciples had Faith that Jesus – did – have the power. So – Jesus utters a few simple words – peace – be still.

Regardless of how much faith they had in Jesus – still – the Disciples were amazed – What kind of man is this that even the wind and waves obey His voice – they asked.

When Mark wrote his gospel about the life of Jesus – he had one purpose in mind – to authenticate the claims of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.

Each of the miracle stories in Mark – proves Jesus to be not only the Messiah – but Lord of all. As Lord of creation – He quiets the storm.

Eugene Petersen wrote – Jesus spoke – and the wind ran out of breath – and the sea became smooth as glass. And in today’s reading – Jesus is Lord over sickness and even death. A woman simply touches His garment – healed – and Jairus’s Daughter – raised from the dead.

It might be helpful to point out – that in these miracle stories – the individuals involved – were completely helpless and hopeless.

There was no coast guard to help with rescue – no specialized hospitals like U of T or Mount Sinai – the knowledge of Physicians in the 1st century was incapable of helping them – and there was no OHIP to help with the cost of medical care.

The storm on the lake terrified experienced sailors. The woman had been seeing doctors for twelve years with only a worsening condition. The young girl was no longer sick – she was dead. The worlds of these people were crashing down around them. But – in the most hopeless cases – when Jesus is present – there is healing – deliverance – and salvation.

The miracles don’t just demonstrate the power of Jesus – they also tell us about the kind of person Jesus is. What we see in these passages – is not just that God is a God of infinite power – but that He is a God of infinite compassion and tenderness when your world crashes in on you. He is deeply touched by human needs. He is sensitive to our sufferings and trials in life.

Jairus was an official of the synagogue. He was a man of influence and prestige – but when he came to Jesus – he did so as a desperate father seeking to spare the life of his critically ill child.

Jesus was not in the neighbourhood when the child became sick – remember – He had just recently crossed over the Sea of Galilee. Imagine what it must have been like for Jairus – knowing that Jesus could have healed his daughter earlier – he must have been wringing his hands and heart in worry.

But now that Jesus is back in Capernaum – Jairus is there – probably waiting on the dock. But there is another very large crowd – he must quickly find Jesus and ask for His healing touch – time is critical – an unnamed illness has struck down the apple of his eye.

His daughter’s fever was high – her breathing shallow – the symptoms would not disappear. With each passing hour her health deteriorated – Doctors were called – but nothing could be done.

Most of us have been through something like this – we know life doesn’t always follow our road map. We long for level highways – life offers hairpin turns and detours for road construction. We desire happiness – but sorrow comes our way. Jairus was no different.

He finds Jesus in the crowd – My little daughter is dying – Please come and place your hand on her so she will be healed. So – according to Mark – Jesus went with Him. But on the way – they were interrupted. Jesus meets up with someone else who needs His help. Every minute was critical – and the only one who could help was interrupted.

Who was this woman? The nature of this woman’s illness meant that she fell under the stipulations outlined in Leviticus chapter 15. She would have to be pronounced unclean. Bleeding for 12 years – that meant that she had been an outcast for 12 years.

She couldn’t take part in any religious observances – in fact – she couldn’t have any public contact without defiling those whom she touched. If she was married – she’d be forced to be separated from her husband. Last of all – this poor woman has lost all her financial resources trying to heal herself. Mark tells us that she had spent all her money on doctor bills – with no relief – in fact – she got worse – and in those days – there was no such thing as a malpractice suit.

This unnamed woman – like Jairus – had heard that Jesus was back in Capernaum – and she set out to find relief through His power. Jairus – was a prominent citizen – wealthy – respected – while the woman lived in poverty – a virtual exile from her own family.

The man came publicly with concern for his daughter – the woman slid secretly – cautiously through the crowd. Conditioned – no doubt – by her long-term rejection and isolation – she dared not approach Jesus to ask for a miracle. Her physical contact would defile all that she touched. The best she could hope for was a secret healing – But I only need to touch the hem of His garment – she said.

The disciples were there to keep the crowds from crushing Jesus – like body guards. Almost imperceptibly – a hand reached out and touched the robe of Jesus.

There is something about this woman’s faith that catches the eye. She just knew that all she had to do was touch Jesus – she didn’t need his attention – she didn’t his time. just touch him – and that would be enough.

She new that Jesus was the real deal. He was God’s man – and she knew – she just knew – that God could heal her – and God did.

The Savior stopped – took a look around and asked – Who touched Me? His question seemed foolish to the disciples. How could they possibly identify someone in this crowd?

Jesus wasn’t put off – He wanted to know – He waited – He watched. Finally – a lady came forward and confessed she had been the one. Jesus had been her last hope – her only hope.

To be healed is why she touched Him – and now she was. Jesus gave His blessing – Daughter – your faith has made you well – Go in peace and be healed of your disease.

Her world is restored – but in that moment – what was left of Jairus’ world came crashing down. He saw his servants coming with tears in their eyes – He knew. Your daughter has died – they said – don’t bother the teacher anymore.

A teacher? Is that all Jesus is? Last night He hushed the raging storm. He has just healed a woman who was sick for years – he cast out demons in Jairus’s own synagogue.

No – He is more than just a teacher – but is He God? Can He bring the dead back to life? Jesus ignored the words of the servants, and spoke encouragingly to Jairus – Don’t be afraid – just believe

What ties these two stories together is that – in both accounts – people are called to believe the impossible. Just as the woman with chronic bleeding believed in an impossible cure – Jesus now challenges Jairus to that same level of belief – Don’t be afraid – just believe

Taking Peter – James – and John with Him Jesus left the crowd with the rest of His disciples and continued to the home of the deceased daughter. Outside the home the commotion of a typical near-eastern funeral had already begun.

All of this carrying-on was unnecessary – Jesus told them – for the girl was not dead – but asleep. Jesus knows that death is not a permanent state – but a temporary one. Death couldn’t claim this girl – for the Prince of Life was present.

Thinking our Lord to be either naive or completely self-deceived the professional mourners mocked and ridiculed Him by their laughter. They knew death when they saw it.

But Jesus dismisses them – they don’t believe – so they don’t get to see the miracle. Talitha koum – little girl – get up. Another world restored.

So that brings it back to us. What are willing to believe when it seems that our worlds are crashing down around us? Will you believe the impossible? I’m not talking about – blind faith. That’s a faith where we put God to the test – restricting him to a healing or else. Make me well – or I won’t believe in you anymore.

I’m talking about holding onto God when you have nothing else to hold onto. About believing that God can do what doesn’t otherwise seem humanly possible. God the healer. God the interceder – Faith has power.

There’s a story I’ve heard a couple of times about a teacher that was working in a children’s hospital – helping patients stay on top of their schoolwork.

She received a call to visit a boy who was in the burn unit. His regular teacher had called her with a request – We’re studying nouns and adverbs in class – they won’t tell us how he’s doing – but I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall too far behind his classmates.

Not knowing what to expect – the teacher went – it was her job. She wasn’t prepared for what she found. The boy was in a clean room – almost entirely covered in bandages – suspended from straps so that there was little pressure on his skin. He was obviously in severe pain and being kept alive by medication and intense care.

She approached hesitantly and softly said – I’m the hospital teacher – Mrs. Barnes your teacher at school asked me to help you with your nouns and adverbs. She then proceeded to stumble through a lesson.

The next day a nurse asked the substitute teacher – What did you do to that boy? Before the teacher could offer her apologies for being uncomfortable and unprepared – the nurse continued – We were worried about him. But ever since you saw him yesterday – his entire outlook has changed. For the first time since he came here – he’s actually fighting – he’s responding – he’s got a new lease on life.

What happened? The boy eventually shared that he had given up. He felt hopeless and helpless – he figured this was the end – he was never going to leave the hospital alive.

But when he thought about the teacher who had come to see him – he thought – the school wouldn’t waste its money – time and concern sending a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy – would they?

You and I – like Jairus – like the unnamed woman – like the little boy with burns – sometimes we can’t get out from under the weight of things crashing down. But what if we knew that someone believed we were worth the effort – that someone else would sacrifice something because we were worth saving.

At just the right time – saint Paul writes – when we were powerless to save ourselves – from the storms of life – Jesus came.

He came to offer His unstained – sinless life as a perfect sacrifice – for you and me. As John says – God demonstrated His love for us in that while were still sinners – Jesus died for us.

Jesus said to Jairus – Don’t be afraid – just believe. With those words – Jairus had hope – Little girl – get up. – And she did!

Whatever bad situation you find yourself today – do not doubt – believe. There are no helpless situations for Jesus – who has power even over death.

That’s the last we hear of the nameless woman or of Jairus’s daughter – but if you’re like me – you’d like to know the rest of the story – the little girl – did her parents become Jewish Christians – did it change the way Jairus ran the synagogue – did she get married – have children of her own – did her family become followers of the Way? And what about the nameless woman – did she live happily ever after.

Mark never tells us – but that’s not the point of recording these miracles. Mark isn’t trying to tell us that believing means living happily ever after. But we are being shown the power of belief.

What we see in these passages is not just that God is a God of infinite power – but that He is a God of infinite compassion and tenderness when your world crashes in on you. God is deeply touched by human needs – He is sensitive to our sufferings and trials in life.

Jesus said – do not let your heart be troubled – you believe in God – believe also in me.

When our world crashes down upon us – we do need – like the disciples in the boat – to believe in ourselves. But even more – like – Jairus – like the unknown woman – we have to believe in the one who will sacrifice everything for us. For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son. Little girl – get up.

Amen.

Video: Drenched

Hymn: “In Christ Alone”

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Lord Of The Dance”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Fugue BWV 868 – J.S. Bach Played by Katie Sun

Sunday, June 20, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


June 13, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: Andante K 311, movement 2 – Mozart

Opening Video: Father’s Love Letter

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Scripture: Mark 4:35-41 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Calms the Storm

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

Solo: Our Father – Matthew 6; music by Michael Head

Message:

Little Faith

Jesus can always calm the storm. With just one – simple phrase – Peace, be still – Jesus will put to rest whatever it is that’s raging around us and causing us to worry.

When the oceans of trouble rise – and the thunder of doubt roars – we can trust the captain of the boat to not only see us through the squall – but to also ensure smooth sailing.

That’s the point of the story – right? That’s why there are songs – and paintings – and sermons – all built around those three simple words – Peace, be still – Right?

Except the captain is at the back of the boat asleep. Except he accuses the disciples of having too little faith after they wake him up.

They obviously trust in his power – they have faith in Him enough – they go to Him when the sea is too much for them. When the storms of life are raging – we like the disciples – stand by Jesus. Isn’t that faith?

So why does Jesus ask – do you still have no faith?

In our story today – Jesus says it’s time to go to the other side. The other side is almost always a scary or undesirable place – or at least we think it is. Think about the phrase – The other side of the tracks – it conjures up the image that there’s a dividing line – this side is good – the other side is bad.

In politics – if a colleague has crossed to the other side of the aisle – that means they’ve joined the opposition the people you are there to fight.

When going to camp as a kid – they always told us that it was dangerous and scary on the other side of the lake – they wanted to make sure we all stayed on our side. Now of course – as I got older I realized the reason they wanted to keep us on the one side of the lake was that the girls camp was on the other side – not exactly scary – but dangerous none the less.

It seems that there’s always a boundary we’re taught not to cross. We’re taught the boundary is there for a reason – for our protection – for our privilege – for our purity. It’s a wall – a fence – a law – an attitude – or maybe – a demon filled sea.

In the gospel of Mark – it’s been said that the sea is a metaphor for demonic and chaotic forces – forces that stand against the Kingdom of God – and it’s a boundary – literal and metaphorical – between the Jew and the Gentile.

And it’s through this sea – filled with powers that want to undo them – Jesus wants to cross over to the other side – because the Good News of the Gospel is never for those on just one side of any border.

In their attempt to cross to the other side – to bring hope and healing and good news – the evil forces within the sea – lying in wait under the boundary like a troll under a bridge – stir the waters into a horrible whirlwind of a storm. It’s enough to terrify even the most veteran sailors and fishermen – it’s never easy to take the Good News of the Kingdom to the other side.

Evil takes notice when God is on the move. Jesus knows this – but he chooses to leave everything in the hands of the disciples – and curl up for some needed sleep in the back of the boat. He’s not too worried – because as he taught in the parable before they set off in their boat – God’s power in the Kingdom is at work even while we sleep.

Jesus trusts the disciples to lead him to the other side – through the sea. A chapter earlier – when he commissions the disciples – he gives them the power to cast out demons. They have the power to rebuke the demons that stir up the wind and waves. They just don’t have the faith.

Years ago – back at the fringe of my memories – my mother taught me how to do laundry. She made me help when she was doing the families clothes – and she showed me how to sort my clothes – and how to use the machine. I’d seen her do it several times before – but she made sure to walk me through the steps – so I could do it myself.

A while after that – my laundry was piling up.

“Mom – I need my clothes washed.”

“Okay – go wash them.”

I did the smell test on a few shirts and I thought I could last a bit longer – at least until Saturday when my mom would normally be doing the family washing.

“Mom – I don’t have anything clean to where when we go to Aunt Joan’s tomorrow.”

That’ll get her to do my laundry – throw the whole – can’t go to dinner with the family in dirty clothes – reasoning at her.

“Okay, well the laundry machine is free.”

I didn’t want to do my laundry. I wanted Mom to do my laundry. Maybe I was scared I’d ruin my clothes. Maybe I didn’t trust I really knew what I was doing and would ruin the machine. Maybe I just didn’t want to have to do it myself when there was someone else perfectly capable of doing a good job of it.

“But you’re my mother. You’re supposed to do my laundry for me.”

“No, I’m your mother. I’m supposed to teach you how to do your laundry because I won’t always be here to do it for you.”

The disciples – commissioned by the Son of God to cast out demons – cannot – or will not – rebuke the wind and the waves of the demonic sea.

Did you notice they don’t even try? They’re too busy calming themselves to calm the storm. They’re too busy casting out the water in their own boat to cast out the demons around it.

Jesus is in the back of the boat. He’ll save us.

It’s not the last time they fail in this way. When Jesus descends from the Mount of Transfiguration – he meets a distraught father whose son is possessed. The commissioned disciples cannot cast out the demon – so Jesus again – laments their lack of faith and rebukes the demon.

The disciples know Jesus can cast out demons. They have faith in him. They’ve seen it time and time again. They just don’t know they can – or they aren’t willing to try.

Do you still have no faith – the disciples believe in Jesus enough to leave everything behind and follow him. They trust Jesus with their lives – they trust in His words – and they trust in His power – but they don’t trust in his power – in them.

Jesus calls the disciples to follow him – which means He believes they have what it takes to be like Him. He gives them power to proclaim the good news – to cast out demons – and to heal every kind of disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1). He even tells them that the gates of hell cannot overcome them – but they are still afraid.

In Matthew – chapter 14 – when Jesus comes to the disciples walking over the water – striding across the demonic boundary – He tells them do not be afraid.

Peter – bless his heart – tries to trust in the power and promises of Christ to him – and he walks out onto the water. He trusts that if Jesus says he can do it – then he can do it. He trusts the power and the promise that the evil of the deeps will not overcome him – but the demons of the sea begin to stir again.

He begins to fear. Fear causes doubts – and he doubts that the power in him is strong enough to stand above the draw of the deep forces of evil. So – he begins to sink. Ye of little faith – says Jesus – Why did you doubt?

I think that too often – we miss-understand this lack of faith. Peter doesn’t doubt Jesus’ power to stand on the swirling sea – and he doesn’t doubt Jesus’ Power to sustain him. No – Peter doubts his ability to do it on his own – He doubts his OWN power. Ye of little faith.

We of little faith. Why do we doubt? We believe in Jesus enough to worship Him. We trust Him with our lives – we trust in His words – and His power to give life – and to cast out sin and death – but we don’t trust in His power in us.

We are given the power to cast out demons – but we stand trembling in their midst instead of rebuking them. We stand on the shore – fearing the storm that’s sure to brew if we try to cross to the other side with the love of God because – those – people – on – that – side – are not worthy – or not deserving of the love of Christ – or they just plain scare us – at least that’s what we’ve been told.

Will we weather the storm if we try to cross that boundary? Maybe it’s just best to stay on dry land.

We of little faith – why are we so afraid?

Every day – I see another panic-filled article about the decline of our society – the social system – the justice system – the economic system. And people of faith cry out with the disciples in the boat – teacher – don’t you care if we drown.

And not just the secular systems – how about the perceived decline in our churches – we’re terrified the church isn’t going to survive the storm. We look around for Jesus and wonder if the church is going to die while He’s napping in the back of the boat.

Doesn’t He know that membership is down? Doesn’t He know the budget is broken? Doesn’t He know we’re taking on water – teacher – don’t you care if we drown.

He knows our prisons are too full – and children’s stomachs are too empty. He knows we craft laws that protect our right to discriminate while there aren’t enough laws to protect abused women and children. He knows exactly the toll of the storm.

But I’m not sure we do. We’re too busy trying to calm ourselves – we don’t seem to have much left to calm the wind and the waves that batter other people’s lives.

We don’t believe we have the power to stand above the forces of prejudice – hatred – bigotry – violence – abuse – and terror.

So – we do not stand – we do not rebuke. Instead – we huddle down in the bottom of our boats – and watch the squall be stilled by someone we had to wake up.

We’re just disciples in a boat – we say. We follow – we worship – and we sing and pray – that’s all. He chose us for this – to be His church – His singing – praying – and preaching church. If a storm comes up that keeps us from going to the other side – well – then it’s up to Jesus to calm that storm if that’s where he wants us to go. That’s the way we’ve come to think.

Is that faith? Jesus doesn’t call his disciples to merely follow. He calls them to lead – to heal – to proclaim – and to cast out. He asks them to have faith in the power he promises – and the work He commissions them to do for the Kingdom of God.

Whether that is spreading some seed and letting the power of God go to work while they sleep – or rebuking demons and watching the power of God go to work while Jesus sleeps. Faith is trusting the power of God is always at work – in Christ – in the church – and in you.

Christ calls and commissions all the people of the church to be the exorcists of the demons – and healers of the sicknesses – that plague our communities.

Is there discrimination – Cast it out. Is there division – Heal it. Are there painful words – rebuke them. Are there broken hearts – Bind them. Are there storms that would keep us from proclaiming that nothing can separate us from the love of God – Silence them.

But isn’t that Jesus’ job? If He wants us to go to the other side – He ought to make sure we can get there – right! Is He still asleep in the back of the boat? Jesus should rebuke the demons – He should calm things down – Why is He silent in the midst of this storm? Why won’t He do anything?

I hate to admit it – but my mother’s wisdom might be the most profound in this message – I’m supposed to teach you how to do your laundry because I won’t always be here to do it for you.

There used to be a comic strip called B.C. – it was about the exploits of prehistoric people – I haven’t seen it in years – but I remember one quite vividly – two cavemen are sitting together under the night sky – when one says – Sometimes – I want to ask God why He lets so many bad things happen in the world.

The other asks – so why don’t you ask Him?

The first one looks sadly serious – and says – Because I’m afraid God would ask me the same question.

When the disciples told Jesus the crowd who had been following him was hungry and had nothing to eat Jesus said – You feed them.

They took what little there was available – five loaves and two fish – and began to pass baskets around to the crowd until everyone had had their fill.

Did the disciples feed that crowd or did Jesus?

The answer – of course – is yes.

Please join me in prayer.

Almighty God, you are powerful, and you never sleep nor do you slumber. You are here with us, and you give us power to do great things. Help us to use the power that you give to work with you to bring hope and peace and joy and love to this broken world where demons still run amok. Help us to cast them out and proclaim the kingdom of God that is even now at hand. We pray in Christ’s name.

Amen.

Hymn: “Come And Find The Quiet Center”

Video: Resilient

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Will You Come And Follow Me”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Great Is the Lord – Michael and Deborah Smith, arr. Jack Schrader

Sunday, June 13, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca



Prelude: Close to Thee – Silas Vail, arr. for duet by Larry Shackley. Played with Esther Ke

Opening Video: Change The World

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Revive Us”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Scripture: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 New International Version (NIV)

15:34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Solo: Hark to the Still, Small Voice – George Handel

Message:

A Heart For God, A Heart Like God

Our emotions have had a tough few weeks. It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs. On the plus side – it looks like things are starting to open up again. Patio dining – some stores re-opening for in store shopping – more services restarting. And second doses of the vaccine are becoming available sooner.

But the downside – 215 children found buried near a residential school. It wasn’t a recent crime – and it wasn’t an unexpected find – but it has re-opened old wounds – no that’s wrong – it’s re-exposed wounds that that have still needed more healing.

And a family was cut down – murdered – while out for a walk. They were chosen at random – for no reason – other than that someone disagreed with their religion.

How do these things happen – whether it’s events that seem diluted by history – or something that happened just last week – the motivation is often the same – people are judged by appearance – by where they come from – the way they look – talk – dress.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be!

No one – no one – should ever feel threatened because they are different. And of course – I guess you could even raise the question of – different from who – what’s the standard.

In our scripture story today – Samuel – one of the bible greats – could be accused of this same pigeonholing. But then God sets Samuel straight. God says – Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

The heart – that’s where the Lord looks – not the colour of your skin – or where you are from – or how you worship. God looks at your heart – and so should we.

But what kind of a heart is God looking for – what is it that would make God look at someone and say – I choose him – or her.

Most people know the familiar story of David and Goliath. We know David as the young shepherd boy who slew a giant with one stone and a simple slingshot. We know that this brave shepherd boy grew up to be a great king of Israel. But there’s much more to David’s life than just slaying giants.

More has been written about David than any other person in the Bible – other than Jesus himself. In the Old Testament there are sixty-six chapters written about David – and in the New Testament – there are fifty-nine references to this great man.

And we can also gain insight into what he thought and felt by reading the Psalms he wrote – seventy-three Psalms are attributed to David.

Shepherd boy – king – mighty warrior – musician – poet – sinner – saint. These words all describe David – but perhaps the most important words about David were spoken by God himself.

In the book of Acts is found these words of God – I have found David – son of Jesse – a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.

David’s life was a portrait of success and failure – he was far from perfect – yet God calls him a man after my own heart. So – what was there about David’s heart that distinguished him from those around him – setting him apart as God’s man – someone God chose to confide in?

What did God see when He looked at David’s heart? How do we become a man or woman after God’s own heart? Let’s take some time looking at those questions – getting to know the heart of David – and maybe – in the process we’ll get to know the heart of God as well.

David’s story begins – not on the battlefield with Goliath – but on the ancient hillsides of Israel. Before we get to the story – let me provide a little background.

King Saul – Israel’s first King – isn’t the king he used to be. He’s grown ever more prideful and arrogant. He’s openly defied and disobeyed God. Saul’s downward spiral from saint to sinner has left Samuel – prophet and priest – heartbroken.

So – God decides it’s time for a change. The Lord says to Samuel – You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.

So Samuel walks the trail to Bethlehem. His arrival turns the heads of the townsfolk. There were problems in the palace – genuine fear stretched across the land at that time. You can see it reflected in the immediate reaction of Bethlehem’s inhabitants – What’s Samuel doing here? – What’s wrong? They don’t know why Samuel is there – so they ask – Do you come in peace?

Samuel replies – Yes, in peace – I have come to sacrifice to the Lord – then he invites these locals – including a man named Jesse and his sons – to join him.

Jesse brings seven sons with him to participate in the sacrifice and the following feast. Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought – Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!

He didn’t say it out loud – but that’s what he was thinking – Why? Because Eliab looked like the type you’d normally choose for a king. No doubt he was tall and impressive – a real warrior. Samuel is impressed – but God isn’t.

Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But now Samuel had caught on and said – nope – not this one – or this one either – or the next – till all seven of Jesse’s present sons were rejected.

Seven sons strut their stuff – but all seven fall short. Keep in mind – none of these guys even know what the prize is that they’re competing for.

In the midst of this parade of possibilities – God whispers a reminder to Samuel – Do not consider his appearance or his height…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Aren’t you glad God says this?

Aren’t you weary of society’s surface-level system – of being graded according to the inches of our waist – the square footage of our house – the color of our skin – the make of our car – the cut of our clothes – the presence of diplomas – where your grandparents were born – Aren’t you tired of being judged by our outward appearance?

Hard work ignored. Devotion unrewarded. The boss chooses background over character. The teacher picks pet students instead of prepared ones. Parents show off their favorite sons and leave the runts out in the field. At least – that’s what happened to David.

Samuel takes a quick headcount and asks Jesse – Are these all the sons you have? The question likely caused Jesse to squirm a bit – but then he responds – I still have the youngest son. He is out taking care of the sheep

That’s where we find David – in the pasture with the flock. Eventually – David will go on to slay giants and conquer kingdoms. The Son of God will be called the Son of David. The greatest psalms – many of which we sing and love today – will flow from his pen.

But on this day – he wasn’t even invited to dinner with the family – he’s just a forgotten – inconsequential kid – performing a menial task in a small town.

Maybe you can relate. Lucky for us – God doesn’t see what we see – God doesn’t judge by outward appearances – God looks at the heart.

When Jesse sent for David – Samuel saw a gangly teenager enter the house – smelling like sheep – and looking like he needed a bath. But God saw something more. And so – the Lord whispered to Samuel – This is the one – anoint him!

David didn’t understand it at the time – but his life was forever changed in that moment. And it’s because God saw what no one else saw. So – what did God see? Scripture doesn’t say for sure – but it hints.

As I look at this story I see three qualities of David’s heart that God certainly saw as well. First – David had a hardworking heart.

Although Jesse had seven other sons – David was the only one out in the fields that day. Being low man on the totem pole meant that David was expected to do the jobs the rest of the family didn’t want to do. That’s just what David did – and without complaint.

The Bible is full of commands to work. God views work worthy of its own engraved commandment – Six days you shall labor – but on the seventh day you shall rest.

We’re more inclined to pay attention to the second half of that commandment. Most people would love to work less and rest more. But emphasis on the one day of rest may cause us to miss the command to work – Six days you shall labor – God said. Whether you work at home or in the marketplace – your work matters to God.

And it matters to society. One reason I think God commands us to work is that we need each other. Sheep need a shepherd. Cities need plumbers. Nations need soldiers. Stoplights break. Bones break. We need people to repair the first and set the second.

Another reason I think God wants us to work is because He is a worker! Jesus once said – My Father is always at his work to this very day – and I too am working. (John 5:17).

God is always working. So – however you work – you imitate God when you do. God saw that David had a heart for hard work.

And God saw that David had a humble heart. After Samuel anointed David’s head with oil – the spirit descended on him – and his life changed. I’m fairly sure this meant that he knew he was the chosen – that he would be the next king

What do you do in a situation like that? What did David do? Well – I’m happy to report – he did not go down to the nearest department store and try on royal crowns. He didn’t order a new set of business cards – telling the printer to Change it from shepherd to king-elect. He didn’t shine up a chariot and race through the streets of Bethlehem yelling – I’m God’s choice . . . you’re looking at Saul’s replacement!

This is what David did after he was anointed to be king – and it tells us a lot about why God chose him. As the story continues, King Saul seeks out an assistant and someone recommends David. So – Saul sent a message to Jesse that said – Send me your son David – who is with the sheep

Don’t miss those last three words. David went right back to the sheep – even after being anointed king. Then in the next chapter – even after being going to work for the King – we find that – David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem – He’s still tending his father’s flock!?

Well, when you have a heart like David’s, that’s what you do. That was his job – and he was faithful to do it. It made no difference that Samuel had anointed him – or that Saul appointed him as his personal attendant. He didn’t expect special treatment from others. He didn’t demand respect or brag about his position.

No – he just went back humbly to his sheep.

I think that’s one of the reasons he was a man after God’s heart. He was always approachable – always faithful in the little things. David had a humble heart – and we should too. Finally – David had a hallelujah-filled heart.

Do you know what David was doing out in the fields all day – when he wasn’t tending to the sheep – he was making music. David spent his days gazing up into the clouds writing worship songs. That’s actually why Saul sent for David in the first place.

Saul wrestled with depression and anger. In fact – the Bible says he was being tormented by an evil spirit. But – as was written in Victorian times – Music has charms to soothe the savage breast. Saul wanted a musician to play soothing music for him whenever he felt troubled – so one of Saul’s attendants told him that – One of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player – and the Lord is with him”

David’s passion for praise and worship earned him a place in the palace. Of course – we’re not all harpist or psalm writers like David. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a heart for worship.

The longer I continue my walk with God – the more I appreciate the importance of music in ministry. I think Martin Luther was exactly right when he wrote – Next to the Word of God – music deserves the highest praise.

God seems to have cast His vote in favor of music too. In His Book – the Bible – the longest of all the sixty-six books is the one dedicated to the hymns of the Hebrews—the book of Psalms.

When was the last time you sang your heart out for God – was it the last time you sat in a church pew – or alone in your car – or maybe even the shower? Never mind how beautiful or how pitiful you may sound. Sing out – you’re making melody with your heart to the Lord! God loves a heart brimming with hallelujahs!

David, for all his foibles was a man after God’s own heart. Others may measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. When God looked at David’s heart that day – He saw what no one else saw – a hardworking – humble – hallelujah-filled heart – a God-seeking heart. What does he see when he looks at yours – and what do you see – when you look at others.

Amen.

Hymn: “I See A New Heaven”

Video: If Jesus Returned Today

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “10,000 Reasons”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Salvation Has Come to Us – anonymous

Sunday, June 6, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Below is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca


Prelude: Plenty Good Room – spiritual, arr. Lloyd Larson

Opening Video: Let Us Worship

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Here I Am To Worship”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

Mark 3:20-35 New International Version (NIV)

3:20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Solo: The Lord Is My Shepherd – text from Psalm 23; music by Samuel Liddle

Message:

Family Matters
Mark 3:31 – 35

There’s just my mom and I left now – and she’s deep into Alzheimer’s – so sometimes it feels like I’m really the only one left – but when I was growing up – we were a family of four. My mom and dad – my sister – and me.

Generally – I was happy with my family – at least considering the old saying – you can pick your friends – but you don’t get to pick your family. But there were times.

My mom was an accomplished sewer – dresses for her and my sister – shirts placemats – doilies – toilet paper covers that looked like mice in dresses – and at one point – the latest craze was t-shirts. So – when we would go out as a family group – we all had matching – patterned – t-shirts.

Well – I was at that age when that sort of thing just wasn’t cool – is there ever an age when it is? So – I’d spend as much effort as possible trying to convince people that those people over there were not my family.

“Your mother and your brothers are outside waiting on you, calling for you,” one of the disciples said to Jesus.

“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Jesus replied. “Anyone who does my will, anybody who gets on board with my movement, that’s my family,” said Jesus.

Jesus has some strange ideas about family too.

When you join some clubs – they give you a pin and a secret handshake. But when you join on with Jesus and join the church – you get thrown into the pool – washed – maybe dunked a few times – half drowned – and encouraged to see what it’s like to be born again. Now what does that tell you?

To those who took comfort in the old order – maybe boasting of their memberships in God’s chosen people by saying – My family founded this church – or – I’m not very religious but I’m really – really – spiritual – John the Baptist would have scolded you – saying – Don’t say to yourselves – I’m a dues-paying member! I’ve got Abraham and Sarah as my parents! – God can raise up a family from the stones in this river if God’s people won’t turn, return, be washed, and get with the revolution!

God is determined to have a family. But in order to join a new family – you first have to separate yourself from the old one. Membership in God’s kingdom – is – a joyful thing – but it also involves giving some things up.

Look – I love my family. I mean – why shouldn’t I? They all look just like me – especially when wearing matching t-shirts – but – I’m sorry to tell you that – family matters – was not really a Jesus’ thing.

We know next to nothing about the family of Jesus. Mark says that Jesus had a number of brothers and sisters – but what do we know about them? Jesus’ family plays a remarkably negligible role in His story.

And in His ministry – Jesus thought nothing of destroying a family business with a simple command of – Follow me – demanding that these fishermen abandon their aging father in the boat and join Jesus as He wandered about with His buddies.

Jesus’ invitation to hit the road broke the hearts of many first-century parents who were counting on the kids for help in their old age.

I have come to set a man against his father – and a daughter against her mother – Jesus threatened. He also said – Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother – and wife and children – and brothers and sisters – yes – and even life itself – can’t be my disciple. Now that’s a text that you wouldn’t hear preached on – Christian family Sunday.

Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you – someone said. Jesus replied – Who? Anyone who does my will is my family.

I’ll follow you – a man said to him – only first let me go give my recently deceased father a decent burial. Let the dead bury the dead – replied Jesus – Follow me and let somebody else do the funeral!

Wow! Talk about family issues! But – to be fair – Jesus seems no more hostile toward family than He is toward – money – or success – or government officials or religious authorities.

For Jesus – everything comes second to His mission – nothing is more important than doing God’s will. Still – isn’t it interesting that Jesus appears to devalue that which we consider so valuable?

I still remember when almost every Christmas greeting card had a picture of the baby Jesus in the manger and Joseph and Mary standing close by. Now – our Christmas cards are more likely to customized – featuring our own smiling families – dressed in tacky matching sweaters. The family has become the center of our celebrations – the most important of all human gatherings.

Why Jesus? Why were you so cold toward family – sexuality – romantic attachments – things which seem to preoccupy us?

The gospels tell us that one of Jesus’ chief missions was the reunion of the scattered lost sheep of Israel. Jesus left His biological family in order to form a new family – based not on genetic kinship – the way we make family – but rather upon the gracious – barrier-breaking call of God.

Jesus got into trouble for practicing a scandalously open-handed table fellowship – calling the lost and orphaned back home. This man eats and drinks with SINNERS! That’s one of the earliest and most persistent claims against Jesus.

Even as He was dying in agony on the cross – Jesus invited an outcast – a somewhat repentant thief – to join Him and His family in paradise.

In all these actions – and in His stories of seeking the Lost Sheep – and seeking the Lost Coin – and the Lost Boy – Jesus is forming a new family composed of those who had difficulty fitting in with their human families.

Your human family – regardless of all it’s virtues – is just too small – too closely defined – to handle all the problems you may face. In fact – family may actually add to those problems – how much of the time people spend in counselling is spent dealing with the damage done to them by family.

That’s why – when someone steps up and answers Jesus’ call to follow him – the church says – among other things – that the person has been reborn – started over – and has been adopted into a new God-formed family.

It’s as if the person gets a new name – Christian – that takes precedence over that person’s family name. It’s as if the person has already died to old attachments and former relationships – and has already been raised to new life.

And the church is that – fresh – new – family that is composed of those who have heard Jesus’ – Follow me – and have stepped forward and said – Yes.

The chief act of Christian worship – isn’t some mysterious – dark – obscure rite. It’s a family meal – with everyone around the table – the Sunday dinner that we call the Lord’s Supper – family as God intended family to be.

That’s why – when parents bring a child forward for baptism – the minister takes the child from them and says – in effect – You are two wonderful people – but you are not knowledgeable enough – not skilled enough on your own – to raise a Christian. So – we’ll adopt your child – we’ll take responsibility for this baby – we will help you raise a Christian.

In a world of grandparents without grandchildren close by – and single-parent families – and families that spread across the world – and aunts and uncles that you may never meet – you need a bigger family than the one you were born into.

You must be taken into a new – far flung family – a family as large as the love of God in Jesus Christ.

What do you have to do to be credibly called a Christian – a contemporary follower of Jesus? Well – you must be willing to be adopted by a new barrier-breaking family – the church.

You must be prepared to let go of your natural – secular inspired – individualism – and be included in a family that’s bigger and more demanding than the one into which you were born.

You’re invited to join us at the table – where you are asked to call some of the most sinful – often difficult-to-bear individuals – as – brother – or – sister – just because Jesus loves them – just as much as He loves you.

You can see why – when the Jesus movement got going as the church – baptism became the – radical – rite of Christian initiation. Baptism not only signified everything that water means – cleansing and birth – and refreshment and renewal – life – but baptism also meant adoption.

As John the Baptist said – God is going to have a family – even if God has to raise a people out of the rocks in this river.

To become a Christian – to have your life taken over by Jesus – is to be joined into a family – a people joined by – water and the Spirit – a family bigger and better than your biological family – a worldwide – barrier-breaking family that goes by the name – body of Christ.

I feel pleased whenever our church helps out in our neighbourhood – when our salvation army food bin is full to overflowing – or one of our groups donates money or blankets and mittens to our neighbours in need. But of course – we would do that – we see those people every day – most of them are just like us.

But I’ll tell you – I’m even more delighted that when the earth shakes – or the waters rise – when buildings fall – and people need food – somewhere on the other side of the planet – we rally even harder.

Why? Because Jesus has made them part of God’s family too – and because of His love – we have been changed from being strangers – into being – sisters and brothers.

On Good Friday – as Jesus hung on the cross – He performed an amazing last act of invitation and adoption. Having been deserted by most of His family – the crucified Jesus – in a last – wild – desperate act of inclusion – invited a thief to join him in paradise – a stunningly defiant criticism to the ways the world gathers people.

Only a Savior like Jesus would parade into Paradise arm-in-arm with a criminal. Well – today – every time the family of God gathers for Holy Communion – the Eucharist – the Lord’s Supper – a potluck fellowship meal – or serves up soup to the homeless on the street corner – the world looks at this odd family and says – Jesus is hanging out with the same troublemakers that got him crucified.

And we say – Thank God that He does.

Let’s pray – Jesus – by your grace – bring us into your big family. Help us to feel part of the family. Help us to see all people as brothers and sisters in your family. In the name of the one who was crucified for hanging out with people like us – we pray.

Amen.

Hymn: “Would You Bless Our Homes and Families”

Holy Communion

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Rejoice The Lord Is King”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Fugue in A major BWV 888 – Bach Played by Eddy Zheng

Sunday, May 30, 2021 Worship Service

Blessings Cooksville Family!

Here is the link to this week’s service:

As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.

And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.

And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian

Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – b_d_vickers@hotmail.ca

May 30, 2021 Sunday Worship Service

May 30, 2021
Sunday Worship Service

Prelude: God So Loved the World – John Stainer; arr. for organ and piano duet by Janet Gieck

Opening Video: Doxology

Welcome & Greeting:

Lighting the Christ Candle

Hymn: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:

The Lords Prayer

Scripture:

John 3:1-17 New International Version (NIV))

3:1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Solo: Witness! – spiritual based on John 3 and Judges 13-16

Message:

Born Anew
John 3:1-17 Holy Trinity, Series B

There are times when life seems to get a little – stale – maybe boring or empty – when you do the same things over and over and over and over again. You go through the motions – but that inner motivation is not there.

You’re probably feeling that now – with all our restrictions – you might not feel there are a lot of options to keep us motivated. But it doesn’t take a pandemic to make us feel that way.

It happens to us at so many different times and in so many different aspects of our lives.

Take our jobs for example. Sometimes – we go through the motions. We often go through parts of our jobs over and over and over again – for one year – two years – twenty years – forty years. In the beginning – the job was quite exciting – but time has gone by and the inner enthusiasm isn’t quite there. Jobs can become stale. We become washed out – worn out – burnt out. We all know that feeling.

Or it can happen with a marriage. Sometimes – the excitement seems to be missing. The marriage becomes a little stale – a little repetitious. Within two minutes of the start of a conversation – you know where it is going – you’ve been there before. Or you find yourself saying – not again – we’ve had this same argument hundreds of times before. So – you go through the motions – but the inner motivation is lacking.

And – the same thing can happen in your spiritual life – in your relationship with God. You worship on Sunday morning – and you experience the same old routines – and the same old prayers – and the same old hymns – and the same old sermons – said by the same old pastor – it’s the same old same old – Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. And so there comes a time in your spiritual life where you begin going through the motions – but the inner motivation is no longer there and the inner heart is not quite alive.

It’s with these images of so many aspects of our lives – job – marriage – spirit –becoming repetitious – stale and boring – with the same old thing over and over again – that we’re going to approach the story of Nicodemus.

Nicodemus himself – was a man who was going through the motions of religion without the inner motivation of God. Let’s briefly recall the story of Nicodemus.

Now, I imagine that Nicodemus was a man in his mid fifties or mid sixties – successful in his work – he was a teacher of the law – a professor of religion at the temple in Jerusalem.

According to scriptures – he is – older in life – an older man. Back then – that meant he probably had about twelve children – all gone from home. He probably had fifty grandchildren and a bunch of great grand children. More than likely – when hearing about the birth of another great grand child – he’d be thinking – another one – I can’t remember the names of all the ones running around now. Nicodemus was probably a man who had pretty much seen it all.

But – in his relationship with God – Nicodemus was a man who was going through the motions. He knew the law – he was a teacher of the law – but his inner enthusiasm for God wasn’t there anymore. He’d lost his motivation – and things weren’t quite right in his relationship with God..

So – Jesus of Nazareth showed up in town – and Nicodemus had gone to hear Jesus preach in the temple. Nicodemus sensed that Jesus had something inside of him that Nicodemus no longer had. Nicodemus was encouraged by Jesus’ preaching and decided to talk to Jesus.

So quietly – in the middle of the night – Nicodemus went over to the home of Jesus – not wanting his fellow religious professors to know. He knocks on Jesus’ door – and the conversation goes something like this.

I know it is late – but my name is Nicodemus. I’m a professor of religious law down at the temple – and I’d like to speak with you if you’ve got a minute.

OK – Jesus says – Shall we go out for a walk?

I’d rather not be seen with you – would you mind if I would come in?

Nicodemus went in – and Jesus – being always welcoming – invites him up to the roof of the house where it’s cooler – and maybe offered him a glass of wine. Jesus asks – How can I help you?

Nicodemus say – Things aren’t quite right with me. They aren’t quite right inside of me. I sense that you have something that I don’t have anymore. I’m tired – my lectures are stale. I’m getting old and slow. I’m wondering what advice you’d have for me.

Jesus – of course – had this uncanny ability to look right into a person’s heart – and he responds – I know the problem that you are having Nicodemus. It’s not that you’re old – it’s not that you’re tired – it’s not that you’re worn out. The problem is this – you are no longer close to God – you have drifted away from God – God is no longer living in the center of your heart. – – – Nicodemus – you need to be born again.”

Nicodemus replies – Born again – push me back into my mother’s womb – Come on now – I can’t be born again.

You don’t understand Nicodemus. You need to be born anew – to experience a rebirth in your relationship with God – Jesus says – You need to be born of the water – the cleansing waters of God. You need to be born of the Spirit – you need to be born from a above – you need to experience rebirth.

I’m fairly sure that this didn’t really clear things up for Nicodemus – and the rest of the conversation didn’t help much either – I’m not sure if I understand all this – I’ll have to think about it – It’s time for me to go – thanks for the wine – he says on the way out.

So how does this story end – did Nicodemus become born again – was Nicodemus born anew – did he experience a rebirth? How does the story end? We lose track of Nicodemus – we have to go seventeen chapters forward in the Gospel of John to hear the very end of the story – when we read about the events of Good Friday – after Jesus had been crucified.

It’s a story about a rich man by the name of Joseph of Arimathea – and another wealthy man by the name of Nicodemus – who came to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

These two older men asked to prepare Jesus for burial – so they got one hundred pounds of perfumes and spices – put Jesus’ body on a table – and wrapped his body in a linen shroud – folding the spices into the linen folds.

That’s our Nicodemus – he was there – for this most sacred ritual – our Nicodemus – who had asked Jesus how to get out of his spiritual rut – he was there attending the dead body of Jesus.

I believe that this Good Friday story about Nicodemus – reveals that he had truly become a disciple of Jesus Christ. That he had been born again – born anew – born from above. Nicodemus was reborn in his relationship with God.

So – what does it mean to be born again? What does it mean to be born anew? What is God’s lesson for us in the Gospel story for today?

Well – far too often in life – we drift away from God. In our relationship with God – we start going through the motions – without the inner motivation.

You can be a person who is fifteen – thirty-five – sixty-five – or eighty-five – and you have drifted away from God. Things aren’t quite right. You can go stale – like Nicodemus – at any age.

You start to have the habits of faith – without the heart of faith. You have structures – without the Spirit. You are going through the rituals – but you don’t have the real thing. You are going through the patterns of faith – but you no longer have the power of faith.

And if you have ever come to that time in your life – when things aren’t quite right – when your belief has become more of a ritual than a real thing – then you need to go to where Jesus is – rap on his door and say – Jesus, I need some help – I’ve got a problem – here – in my heart – it ‘s not quite right.”

And Jesus would say to any of us – You need to be born anew – born from above – to experience a rebirth of God’s love in your heart. You need to be born of the water and the Spirit.

Jesus said that there were two parts of being born anew. To be born anew – is to be born of the water and be born of the Spirit – two parts.

Just as no living thing can survive without water – you and I cannot live without the water of God inside of us – and around us – giving us life.

In order to be spiritually alive – you must be cleansed by the waters of God. During our baptism – we proclaim – or someone proclaims for us – that we will be loyal to God.

But we often forget that promise – instead – being loyal to the religion – and not to God – for whom we have the religion in the first place.

Jesus understood the dangers of hypocrisy in religion – he blasted the Pharisees and Sadducees repeatedly because they followed the letter of the law – but managed to do so without honouring God’s intention – without showing the LOVE of God.

So – I think part of being born anew – is to constantly be remembering and renewing our baptismal pledge to serve God – in love.

But there is a second part to being born anew. Jesus said there’s a need to be born of water – and – the spirit. What does that mean – to be born of the Spirit?

Some people think that being born in the Spirit is just having some type of religious high – kind of like having religious champagne – becoming all spiritually bubbly inside. But think about it – what does an open bottle of champagne taste like the next day – it’s flat. And yesterday’s spiritual highs – are often flat tomorrow.

Someone once told me – I went to church one day – and I was filled with unspeakable joy. It was an incredible experience. I know I was filled with the Holy Spirit – with the unspeakable joy of the Holy Spirit inside of me. He paused for a moment – then said – it was gone in a couple of days – You can’t build your life on it.

Today’s religious experiences – like bubbly champagne – will be flat tomorrow.

On a few occasions – as a chaperone – I’ve taken groups of youth to various Christian Festivals – or to concerts featuring Contemporary Christian bands.

They often tell me how intense and emotional those experiences are – they tell me they really could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit at work. As a result – they feel more connected to God – their prayer life deepens – they explore ways to serve and honour God.

Unfortunately – more often than not – after time has passed – and the memory of those experiences has faded – they have dropped out of a consistent worship life. The spiritual highs from their youth aren’t enough to sustain a spiritual connection.

So then – what does it mean to be born of the Spirit? If it doesn’t mean to experience religious highs at great festivals or concerts – experiences that undoubtably fade – what does it mean to be born of the Spirit?

To be born of the Spirit means to have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living inside of you. Not just for a short time – not just because of some special event – it means that God’s gracious love comes and lives inside of your heart.

And what is this gracious love of God that comes and lives in your heart? It’s the Holy Spirit – the spirit of Christ – or if you prefer – the essence of Christ – coming and living in your heart.

Christ’s Spirit in your heart – in your mind – in your hands – in your feet – in you. It’s a way of loving – a way of forgiving – a way of caring – a way of prayer – a way of worship – a way of thanksgiving and praise – a way of being in tune with the Spirit of Jesus.

It’s loving other people in their uniqueness – no longer trying to change anyone to meet your expectations – but to truly love them in their individuality.

And feeling that Spirit within you grow daily – constantly being renewed – that’s being born in the Spirit. That is grace – that is gracious love – that is the Spirit of Jesus.

Born of the water. Born of the Spirit. Two births. A birth of water. A birth of Spirit. That is what it means to be born anew.

If you come to that point in your life where you say – I’m going through the motions – but I don’t have that inner motivation any longer. I have the patterns of religion – but not the power of belief. I have the rituals of faith – but not the essence of Jesus. I have the structures – but not the Spirit.

If you have come to that point in your relationship with God – whether you are fifteen or fifty-five – and you sense that something is wrong with your life. One night – you may come up to the home of Jesus and knock on his door and say – Jesus – things aren’t right in here. Things aren’t right here in my heart.

Jesus will reply – I know. It happens to people all the time. You need to be born anew. You need to experience a rebirth. Maybe even experience that rebirth – again – for the second – or third – or tenth time. You need to be born of the water and born of the Spirit.

Thank heavens – it happened to Nicodemus. Thank heavens – it happens to you and me as well.

Amen.

Hymn: “Beautiful Things”

Video: Trinity

Pastoral Prayer

Hymn: “Amazing Grace”

Benediction and Commissioning

Postlude: Only Trust Him – Stockton, arr. Robert Hughes

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