Monday, July 29, 2013

Order of Service for Pentecost 11 (4 August 2013)

For the month of August we shall be using some new liturgical elements within our BAS structure.

The eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
4 august 2013

The Gathering of the Community

Gathering Music


Processional Hymn

‘Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here’  Common Praise #442 vv. 1, 2, 5


The Presider greets the Community.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
And also with you.

The Deacon or an Assisting Minister then says

O God, be gracious to us and bless us,
and make your face shine upon us:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May your ways be known on the earth,
your saving power among the nations:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

You have made known your salvation
and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. [i]

Then the Presider says

God of love,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to your truth,
strengthen us to do your will
and give us life in Christ
and joy in the Spirit,
now and for ever.  Amen. [ii]

Let us now praise the God
who gives us new life
through the reconciling love of Christ
and the work of the Spirit.

Hymn of Praise

‘Glory to God’  Common Praise #702

Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

Generous Giver,
you pour forth your extravagant bounty without measure
upon your whole creation.
Teach us such generosity,
so that the fruits of our spirits
and the works of our hands may be used
for the building of your commonwealth of blessing.  Amen. [iii]

The Proclamation of the Word of God

First Reading

A Reading from Ecclesiastes (1.2, 12-14; 2.18-23)

            Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

            I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with.  I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

            I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me — and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish?  Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.  This also is vanity.  So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labours under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it.  This also is vanity and a great evil.  What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun?  For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest.  This also is vanity.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm

Psalm 138 with the Refrain from Songs for the Holy One

Refrain (sung twice)

Hear this, all you peoples; *
hearken, all you who dwell in the world,
you of high degree and low, *
            rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak of wisdom, *
            and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb *
            and set forth my riddle upon the harp.


Why should I be afraid in evil days, *
            when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
the wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, *
            and boast of their great riches?
We can never ransom ourselves, *
            or deliver to God the price of our life;
for the ransom of our life is so great, *
            that we should never have enough to pay it,
in order to live for ever and ever, *
            and never see the grave.


For we see that the wise die also;
like the dull and stupid they perish *
            and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation, *
            though they call the lands after their own names.
Even though honoured, they cannot live for ever; *
            they are like the beasts that perish.


The Second Reading

A Reading from the Letter to the Colossians (3.1-11)

            So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

            Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly:  fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.  But now you must get rid of all such things — anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.  In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Gradual Hymn

‘People Draw Near to God in Their Distress’  Common Praise #201

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (12.13-21)
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take care!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”  Then he told them a parable:  “The land of a rich man produced abundantly.  And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘I will do this:  I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life is being demanded of you.  And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Sermon

An Affirmation of Faith

The Deacon or another Assisting Minister says to the People

Let us affirm our faith.

We believe and trust in God,
the Source of all being and life,
in whom and for whom we exist.

We believe and trust in God,
the Word of God incarnate,
who took our human nature,
who died for us and was raised
so that we might be children of God.

We believe and trust in God,
the Advocate and Guide,
who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in all the world.

This is the God in whom we believe and trust. [iv]

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Thanksgivings and Petitions

The Deacon or other Assisting Minister bids the People prepare for the Prayers.

The Exchange of the Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

The Offertory Hymn

‘Let All Creation Bless the Lord’  Common Praise #419

The Prayer over the Gifts

Let us pray.

God of all creation,
all you have made is good,
and your love endures forever.
You bring forth bread from the earth
and fruit from the vine.
Nourish us with these gifts,
so that we might be for the world
signs of your gracious presence
in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [v]

The Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, gracious God,
creator of heaven and earth;
you are the source of light and life for all your creation,
you made us in your own image,
and call us to new life in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices to proclaim the glory of your name. [vi]

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. [vii]

Holy God, you alone are holy, you alone are God.
The universe declares your praise:
beyond the stars; beneath the sea;
within each cell; with every breath.
We praise you, O God.

Generations bless your faithfulness: 
through the water; by night and day;
across the wilderness; out of exile; into the future.
We bless you, O God.

We give you thanks for your dear Son:
at the heart of human life; near to those who suffer;
beside the sinner; among the poor; with us now.
We thank you, O God.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take and eat; this is my body given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup,
gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this in remembrance of me. 

Remembering his love for us on the way,
at the table and to the end,
we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

We pray for the gift of your Spirit:
in our gathering; within this meal;
among your people; throughout the world.

Blessing, praise and thanks to you, holy God,
through Christ Jesus, by your Spirit, in your church,
without end.  Amen. [viii]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [ix]

The Breaking of the Bread

All your creatures look to you, O Lord,
to give them their food in due season.
You give it to them; they gather it;
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
We will sing to you as love as we live;
we will praise you while we have our being. [x]

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

The Communion of the Community

The Communion Hymn

‘My Faith Looks up to Thee’  Common Praise #551

The Sending Forth of the Community

Prayer after Communion

Let us pray.

O God,
we give you thanks
hat you have set before us this feast,
the body and blood of your Son.
By your Spirit strengthen us to serve all in need
and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [xi]

Glory to God,
whose power working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Recessional Hymn

‘O Jesus, I Have Promised’  Common Praise #438

The Dismissal

The Deacon or other Assisting Minister sends the Community forth.  To these words the Community responds,

Thanks be to God.

Concluding Music

[i] ‘Kyrie Confession:  Word’ in Common Worship (2000), 134 alt.

[ii] ‘Absolution 11’ in Common Worship (2000), 136 alt.

[iii] ‘Scripture Prayer for Proper 18C (Series 2)’ in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002), 170.

[iv] ‘Authorized Affirmation of Faith 1’ in Common Worship (2000), 144 alt.

[v] ‘Offering Prayer 2’ in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 107.

[vi] ‘Preface for the Lord’s Day 1’ in The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 218.

[vii] Proulx ‘Sanctus’, Common Praise #732

[viii] ‘Thanksgiving at the Table IX’ in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 68.

[ix] Songs for a Gospel People #12 sung by the whole community without repeats.

[x] Psalm 104.28-29 as adapted by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett.

[xi] ‘Prayer after Communion 2’ in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 114.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hidden Oaks of Righteousness

RCL Proper 17C
28 July 2013

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC
            During the last fifteen years our church has been racked with conflict over the place of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the church.  This conflict has divided friends, families and congregations.  It has led to scriptural duels in which opponents fling Scripture at each other much in the same way that the warring wizards and witches of Harry Potter’s world fling curses and hexes at each other.  Most of the casualties have not been among the warring wizards and witches but among those who have been on the sidelines.

            One of the scriptural passages that has been frequently invoked in this conflict begins with are chapters 18 and 19 of Genesis where the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is both debated and accomplished.  The great debate is over what the ‘sin’ of the cities is.  For some this sin is sexual immorality with an implication that this immorality is a homosexual one.  But what is a more compelling explanation is found in the word God uses to describe the reason for divine intervention:  ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!’ (Genesis 18.20).  The word ‘outcry’ is a term used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible to the cry of victims of injustice and oppression (see Exodus 3.7 and Isaiah 5.7). [1]  It suggests that the sin of the twin cities is one of social and economic injustice, a very different kettle of fish, and one which permeates our own societies. [2]

            But our debates about sexuality may have clouded our eyes to what is an even more important teaching embedded in today’s reading from Genesis 18.  This teaching emerges out of Abraham’s bargaining with God over the fate of the two cities. 

Notice that Abraham’s demand is not that the guilty be punished and the innocent spared, but rather that the Lord forgive [the entire city] for the sake of the innocent . . . who are in it. [3]

What Abraham is pleading for God to consider is that those who are righteous, who are faithful to God, even if they are a tiny minority, shield the unrighteous, the violent, the unjust from God’s justified anger and destructive power. [4]

            Later Jewish theological and spiritual reflection will develop this idea into the notion that the world as we know it is shielded from destruction by the existence of thirty-six righteous persons.  So long as there are these Tzadikim Nistarim, the ‘hidden righteous’, God preserves this world, even if we were to fall into total barbarism.  While this may seem at first to be a strange teaching, it has at its core the belief in God’s compassion for all that God has made and the unconquerable hope that God’s purposes for this creation will be accomplished.

            So, what has this to do with us, Anglican Christians living in the second decade of the twenty-first century?  It is a reminder that prayer matters.  Prayer shapes the one who prays in ways that we cannot imagine and forges us into tools that God uses to renew the world in which we live.  To be righteous is to seek to be faithful to God at all times and in all places; to be righteous is to be a living sign of God’s compassion and a source of hope for others. 

            It is this kind of righteousness that Jesus seeks to establish among his disciples when he teaches them how to pray.

            ‘Father, hallowed be your name’:  I once read a foolish essay that suggested that God’s name is ‘Father’.  When Jesus calls God ‘Father’, he is inviting us to share in an intimate relationship with the one who created us.  Even though the universe we inhabit is immense, we dare to claim that the One who created all that is can be known and experienced as personally as we know any other friend or family member.

            ‘Your kingdom come’:  In one brief phrase we express our belief that God is sovereign and that God’s purposes will be achieved.  We are surrounded by real and imagined authorities who sometimes act as if they are sovereign.  While they have power over us, they cannot claim our ultimate allegiance.  This is a radical political statement that we often make without contemplating the full implication of it.

            ‘Give us each day our daily bread’:  With another brief phrase we undermine all our illusions of self-sufficiency.  All that we have is first and foremost a gift.  Our every breathing moment is gift; every morsel of food we eat is gift; every possession we have is ultimately gift.

            ‘Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us’:  There is no more difficult petition in Christian worship.  If there is one thing that I know about myself, it is how hard it is for me to forgive.  Yet, when I recite this prayer, I hold myself hostage to bitterness and narrowness, so long as I am unable to forgive others.  I tell you truly; I know too many people who are burdened with wrongs that they cannot set aside and with wounds they keep open.

            ‘Do not bring us to the time of trial’:  This is a difficult petition and much ink has been used in trying to explain it.  I have found some guidance in a form of the Lord’s Prayer that reads, ‘save us in the time of trial’.  We have faced, are facing and will face temptations to turn away from following the way of Christ.  What we need is God’s wisdom when we come to these moments and courage to act as Christians even when it is not convenient to do so.

            To seek to live as one of God’s righteous ones is not about arrogance or pride or religious tribalism.  Righteousness is found in doing justice, fostering reconciliation, loving steadfastly and serving all of humanity and all of creation with humility.  Each time the Lord’s Prayer is recited, we hear anew petitions that help us understand the shape of genuine righteousness.  We are reminded that the world is upheld not by many but by a few 'oaks of righteousness' who are known to God and on whose behalf God continues to work for the renewal of this fragile earth, our island home.

            May the number of God’s ‘hidden ones’ increase and may we be found among them.  Amen.

[1] The New Interpreter’s Study Bible 2003, 37.

[2] The New Interpreter’s Study Bible 2003, 37.

[3] The Jewish Study Bible 2004, 40.

[4] The Jewish Study Bible 2004, 40.