Luke 14:13 “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Jesus, be my guest. Be with me today and tonight. When I sit down, when I rise up; when I travel and when I stay – Your Spirit be with my soul, I pray. And as I eat – be it alone or with others – may I consider You a guest. You were known close by many times while people sat together to feast. Whether I pause to ‘say grace’ or not at a meal, may I remember that I am not alone. May I consider every bit of food a gift to me. May I see opportunities to help someone else, to feed them, to show hospitality, to bless.
O God of the banquet, may there be a rich feast for those who hunger for good things. May the lonely find friends, the hungry find food, the ill find healing and comfort, the persecuted find justice, the refugee find refuge, the mourner find understanding, the dying find deep peace. As You taught, may those who hunger and thirst for righteousness be filled. Amen.
1 Timothy 3:1 The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop [overseer] desires a noble task.
Christ, our Leader, I bow before You today, my spirit submissive to Your will and way. But as soon as I arise and go my way, I may do just that – do things my way, not Your way. Inspire me anew to be a follower, a good follower. And when it is time for me to lead someone else, somehow, may I do that well too.
I pray again today for churches that are seeking a new leader – a pastor to guide and shepherd them, a youth pastor, a minister of music – all such work. And may churches be blessed when they find a new minister to come to them. Bless Bear River Baptist as they call upon Mark Elley to serve them, Rossway Baptist with Lester Simpson serving there again. Bless the many other congregations nearby who are searching. And bless the people of churches like Tiverton Baptist, whose pastor Tim just finished, and they do no know what they can to do find a new person. The offices of bishop, overseer, pastor, elder, deacon… they all must be inspired and empowered by You. For this I pray; in Your name, Jesus. Amen.
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
God, my Refuge and Strength, my very present Help in trouble: thank You for casting out my fear. And yet I do still fear. I fear for the world. I fear for the people in trouble and the causes of their trouble. I fear for the people of Ukraine and beyond who are fleeing and fighting and suffering right now. O Love that will not let me go: hold on to them all right now!
How fitting, O God, that March is Red Cross Month. I pray for the work of the Red Cross in Europe, right now. I’m grateful that it can be supported from right here at home, and reach the people there. There is such violence there, such pain, such destruction, such terror, such injustice, such uncertainty, such grief. In the face of war I keep praying – I cast all these cares upon You, because You care so much for them. Amen.
2 Cornthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Spirit of the new, in these early spring days I sing Your praise. With each joyful new bit of life outdoors I see within and beyond it, to You. The repeat of the seasons is always the same, and yet never quite the same. And so, each new day I take as it comes, I receive as a gift, and I use with You.
Creative Spirit, let this new season out there be a new season inside people. Let it be a time of hopes that will be fulfilled, plans that will be wise, and cooperation that will be beautiful. Like the sap that’s run through the tree trunks, I pray that there be new spirit flowing in me and others who need some greater energy and hope! In Jesus, amen.
WELCOME to this little website post for Digby Baptist Worship. Here, Sunday afternoon, video clips from the 11 am service are posted, added to the sermon text that is here. (Oops, we missed out on recording the children’s bowling tournament today!) More worship plans can be read in the Bulletin, here on this website. Our Holy Week Newsletter is now out – read it also here on the Website.
SERMON: Truth King. Today I want to ‘preach’ with you, so this will be what gets called a dialogue sermon. We will have some conversation. Let us pray.
May the words of our mouths, and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
When I was still a teenager I went off to college, and learned a whole lot of new hymns at the University Chapel. One Welsh tune I grew to love had hymn words that included this bit of verse:
New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth; They must upward still and onward, Who would keep abreast of truth.
Another regular worshipper in those pews was my philosophy professor, Dr. Forsman, who was a good singer as well as a good thinker. God rest his soul, He took exception to the words of this hymn. Time makes ancient good uncouth? Keep abreast of truth? Truth, Rodger Forsman taught, was a sure thing, unchanging. What’s true is true, it does not shift or get updated.
I did get my only A+ in eight years of university in his Symbolic Logic course, but I disagreed a bit with him about our use of the word ‘truth’. We have more than one use. And now, thirty years later, truth seems to mean all sorts of things!
What is truth? When Jesus spoke of it, privately, with Pilate, the Roman Governor asked Him, ‘What is truth?’ We don’t get to read the rest of that conversation – if there was any. They did speak together later, after Pilate had Him flogged.
What would you say is truth?
And is there more than one thing we mean when we speak of truth?
Today, I am calling the Jesus I know our Truth King. He gets into truth talk when asked about being a king. “So you are a king?” asked Pilate. And Christ replies, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
You know I have pondered this before: how much truth, knowledge and wisdom does Jesus have, and give out to us? Often, I think our Master is relegated to being an expert on the spiritual realm, and an expert on what we should each do with our lives. We go to Him (1) for the salvation of our souls and (2) to know “the will of God for my life.”
If truth is facts, real things about the world, then we should be able to rely upon God Incarnate to show us what is true in every category. Yes, Jesus is our expert on human spirituality. Yet we can tell the world there is more to get from Him. He – our route to know God – is a source of wisdom about philosophy, and science, and history, and human culture, and economics, and the future. The God who is behind it all is available to us in Jesus, one of us.
We can turn this around and realize how things in nature show us God. Meeting and knowing other people shows us good things about the Spirit. Deep thoughts, beautiful things, big problems, and our relationships – these all can be doorways to the Divine. Our ancient holy scriptures says these things:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. (Job 12:7-8)
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you. (Psalm 139:17-18)
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
What different sorts of true things has God shown you?
Another thing I am thinking about in this preaching is the problem with truth today. It’s gotten all mixed up. Now, if we say we need to keep up with the truth (keep abreast of truth) we mean what we know about what is true. If what we thought was real changes, we have gotten closer to the truth. What we thought was true was not quite right before. Before people understood the earth goes around the sun, it was not true that the sun went around the earth.
But ‘truth’ gets truly misused today. On the world political stage we’ve had a US president who seemed to claim many of his obvious lies were true, and now a Russian leader seems to do the same.
Now on the local level we often hear people ‘speaking their truth.’ I think this means: tell your real experience. But there seems to be, sometimes, this feeling that ‘I have my story, my truth, and you have yours.’ We have to respect one another, & not push our views on each other.
I suppose the best way I have always thought about how to point people to the God I know is to tell my story, my true experience, and let them respond. The days of being pushy about religion are over – and that’s a good thing.
And then we hear these words of Jesus, translated for us as: For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
How do you speak your true experience of God?
How do you sense someone else’s story is real?
Let me end our sermon with words of Frederick Buechner, and of Jesus.
Jesus did not say that religion was the truth or that his own teachings were the truth or that what people taught about him was the truth or that the Bible was the truth or the Church or any system of ethics or theological doctrine.
X said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)
THE truth is what Pilate is after: the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about truth itself. That is the truth we are all of us after.
Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
PRAYERS of the People: O Guide of our souls and provider of our footsteps: we pray with gratitude for all the ways we find the Way, the Truth and the Life. This first day of the week we offer our gifts at the altar, in the name of Jesus. This start of spring we offer our fellowship for Your activity to be done. This year of hope we offer our prayer for so many we care about, nearby and far away…
We admit the ways we feel helpless and hopeless, God. We admit the actions that have been unchanged and selfish in us. We admit the lack of cooperation we have offered to others…
We pray, in the power of Jesus: Over the people for Ukraine, one month into the horrors of war. For those still in the country and those now as refugees. May they feel the Light of your comfort, your peace, your constant presence within agony. Over the NATO leaders meeting to discuss support for Ukraine, we pray for wisdom. Over Russians who ache to see what their government is doing and who are directly feeling the effects on their lives as they are silenced and economically stretched. Over Validiar Putin, may his heart be transformed. Over those across Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the world who are saying NO to hate and violence through incredible creative acts of courage and love.
We do rejoice, O God, in the courage and compassion we see, in Europe, and around the world. Bless the amazing gifts from our community for the Red Cross and other emergency relief agencies. Bless our Baptist partners in Europe, working, in the Jesus’ name.
O Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of Truth, You are Reality with a Personality. As You have been real to us in worship, be real to us every morning, noon and night of this week. AMEN.
Acts15:3 So they were sent on theirway by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers.
God of love and fellowship, thank You that I am not alone! I am in Your world, I am among the believers of the world, and we are united in the Spirit of Christ. From early days, Master, I see how Your followers fellowshipped together, learned from one another, served together and helped each other. Make me a servant – a servant of Your serving Church in the world.
I pray this day for our local Annapolis-Digby Baptist Association. May this fellowship of forty Baptist Churches be a good way for the people to cooperate, support one another, and truly be on the same team. As the Association Council meets today, may there be nominees found to serve as the next Moderator, Vice Moderator, Webmaster, and Clerk/Treasurer. Bring out people who have a vision for our churches to associate together, and not be isolated or alone. In Your name, Jesus! Amen.
Luke 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, how I praise You for Jesus, the greatest promise fulfilled. When I celebrate His birth on December 25th, March 25th becomes the time to remember ‘the annunciation’ by the angel Gabriel to Mary. Creator, so often the Church tells the story of this angelic visit in December, but remembering it today makes the pregnancy real – it took the usual time, a lot of time; and there was a lot to ponder.
O Spirit of life, I pray today for parents who announce their pregnancy – with all the hopes and fears of such a time. Sometimes there is so much celebration and tradition and fun in the announcement. Then, couples have a ‘gender reveal’ event. Then traditional baby showers, and so forth. Bless, guide, protect, I pray. And whenever there is the threat of illness or of loss, may there be strong healing, help, courage and comfort. In the name of Jesus, who came out from the womb, not to mention the tomb. Amen.
Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
God of earth and sea and sky, Creator of beauty, Provider of purpose: spring has begun; I bow in gratitude. People are starting seeds already for the growing season. Young animals are being cared for daily. The network of transportation and food stores carry on in their work. Each step a blessing, each a part of the whole that brings food to my table.
God, who became incarnate in Christ, I pray in this Nutrition Month to give thanks for all that sustains my body. I can eat nutritious food each day; so many others can also. But I pray for those whose diet is not good: they don’t get enough food, or their eating is out of bad habits, or an illness limits what they can have. I ask for mercy across the globe, for there are millions who do not have the food they need for today, or ever. Let there be food on earth… and let it begin with me, sharing. Amen.
Psalm 42:9 I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
I’m praying now, God. I’m thinking in a way that points to You. I am putting out there some divine communication, some spiritual contact. Are You there? Are You close? Are You ‘the Hearer of prayer?’
With the words of many Psalms I could ask if You are still real, or if I have been abandoned. As I pray, I realize there are many atheists in the world today. To some the reality of a deity just does not make sense. To others You seem to have failed, when they see the world and all the troubles and pain and suffering in it. And for others there is simply no personal reason, no experience of You that shows Your presence. May I bless all these people, without judgment, and without fear for them. I leave them in Your hands, O Loving Truth. Amen.
Isaiah 30:14 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
Mighty God of calm and peace, I make and take this quiet moment now for You, for prayer, for me. As Your Son, our Saviour, took His companions away from the crowds, in His name I get away for a moment of solitude. I reflect upon yesterday… I think about the rest of today, and tomorrow… And now I rest in the now, this moment, the present…
Thank You, Spirit, for being quietly with me in a spot like this. On this Introverts Day I pray for all those who like to get away and who truly need time alone. May those (we) who get energized by solitude be refreshed in the quiet moments, and may those (we) who are empowered by being with others have plenty of social time this week. In Creator, Christ, and Charisma. Amen.