Welcome and Announcements
Thank you for being part of the Drummond Hill community of faith. We are very excited to share this worship with you as we continue to read Gospel Luke together.
Drummond Hill Cafe presents Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays
We are opening our Drummond Hill Cafe. Every week, we are inviting you to come and join us for coffee, tea, cinnamon buns and wonderful fellowship at 10 am. The cafe will run from 10 am until noon. You are welcome to bring friends. The cafe will be open initially for our members and their friends, then, it will be open for everyone else as we go forward.
Drummond Hill Cafe presents Tea Tastings
We will start another program in May for all those tea lovers as well as anyone else who wants to learn more about teas. This will be a monthly event. We will let everyone know the time and date.
Spicy and Fragrant Drummond Hill
This group will start as an invitation only one where the focus will be on gathering younger generations with children. This will be a monthly gathering. Details will follow.
The above three activities are the start of our back to the regular programming plan. We will let you know what else we will be doing.
Easter Hat Decoration Contest
As we get ready for Easter, we are asking you to think about taking on a decoration challenge for Easter hats (bonnets). If you need a hat, we will have some available for you on Palm Sunday. We will have three categories: pretty, wacky, and fun. Bring out your old hats and decorate them for any of these three categories. Who knows what you will win! We will judge them on Easter Sunday.
Lent Mission Project
Please remember that our Lent project for this year is to add to the Healing and Reconciliation Fund of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to empower and assist in the work of our indigenous brothers and sisters. All mission funds gathered during this Lent will go to this fund.
Please do not forget to pray for all those in our congregation, especially Andy, Lily, Phyllis, Doris and Virginia who are in the care homes. Do not forget all those who are living alone at home as well as those who are dealing with medical issues.
Remember that next Sunday is Palm Sunday. During this year’s Holy Week, we will have Breakfast and Good Friday Worship on Friday, April 15. We will not hold our regular Maundy Thursday worship this year. Unlike other years, we were unable to hold our Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday. We will add, therefore, pancake breakfast on Good Friday prior to worship. The pancake breakfast will take place at 10 am, followed by Good Friday service.
Preparation: Open our eyes, Lord
Call to Worship (Psalm 126:1-3)
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Our Lord has never failed us. Let us put our faith in our God, who reconciles us through Jesus. With the Holy Spirit, let us worship God.
Hymn: Rejoice the Lord is King
You are our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. In gratitude and joy we return as the season of spring returns. In observing the bursting of new lives all around us, in awe of your creative power, we come with praise.
Come, O God, and receive this worship.
As surely as the season of spring comes, you come to us bestowing mercy and grace so that all life be abundant in spite of what we do in destroying your creation through wars, polluting activities, and poisoning this world. Against all the destruction humanity has unleashed upon this world, you sent Christ in order to redeem, restore, and reconcile the broken world to yourself. As humanity brings darkness you shine your light through your Son our Lord. In him we find hope.
By your Spirit, O God, hold us close to you. May we not despair and let death have power over us. Though evil surrounds us, in you, by the Spirit, fill us with your love so that our lives would flourish in your love. Help us to return to your creation so that together with all creation we praise and rejoice in you.
Receive this worship, O Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life, and be glad that these unworthy servants offer you all glory and honour, this day and every day, now and evermore.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Luke 19:11-27
As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, “Do business with these until I come back.” But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to rule over us.” When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, “Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.” He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.” Then the second came, saying, “Lord, your pound has made five pounds.” He said to him, “And you, rule over five cities.” Then the other came, saying, “Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” He said to him, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.” He said to the bystanders, “Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.” (And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten pounds!”) “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.” ’
Sermon: What do we do now?
Today is the last day we will look at Chapters 12 through 18 and the beginning part of Chapter 19. In them we saw Jesus confronting Pharisees and leaders, teaching his disciples the consequences of following him, preparing his disciples for God’s coming kingdom, and lamenting over Jerusalem. Today we will look quickly at Jesus’ teaching on what God’s kingdom is like and talk about what today’s passage helps us to do.
Much of the focus in these chapters is on how God welcomes sinners into God’s kingdom. Jesus speaks of the welcome of the prodigal son, and how the relentless requests by a widow can force the mind of an unjust judge. Of course, there are many other parables and teachings we can look at to figure out what Jesus is telling his disciples about God’s kingdom. In reading these parables and teachings we need to take great care. These are not simply clear descriptions of what God’s kingdom is like. Jesus gives glimpses of how sinners will be welcomed, but does not offer any specific descriptions of what life in God’s kingdom will be like. Trying too hard to draw what life in God’s kingdom is like with certainty and clarity from these snippets of what Jesus says about God will be at best a fool’s errand.
What seems to connect all Jesus’ teachings is how God will welcome those whom God calls through Jesus. Faith in God, in this sense, is a response to God’s grace, and something that helps us experience God’s grace. This is crucial in Luke. In other Gospels, when Jesus speaks of sinners, we know Jesus is referring to those sinners in Israel, so called the lost sheep of Israel. He makes this very clear to a Syrophoenician woman. However, in Luke, as we discussed last week, the movement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is from the Jews to the gentiles as Paul speaks of in his letters. When Jesus speaks of sinners and God’s kingdom, we can imagine we as gentiles are part of whom Jesus is concerned about and God will welcome.
That we are able to see ourselves being called through Jesus and experiencing God’s generous grace through Jesus leads us to our desires to know more about God’s kingdom. We hear clearly how welcoming God is towards the sinners. God’s kingdom appears to be a place of bliss, certainly. However, we cannot add any picture of comfort and joy as part of God’s kingdom by referring to Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’ teachings are not about describing what style of life one will live in God’s kingdom. Jesus’ teachings are all about God’s grace in which those who believe in Jesus will enjoy life now and always in God’s presence. Indeed, if anything, Jesus does not get engaged in talking about how wonderful lives will be for those who enter God’s kingdom. Jesus addresses mostly on how sinners are welcomed back.
Now we have seen Jesus’ confrontations and warnings against Pharisees and rulers, his teachings about consequences of following him and about preparing for the coming kingdom, and his lament over Israel. What, then, do we do with all these things we know? Are we to treat them the same way we treat any other nice stories? Are we to see what lessons we can take away and apply to our lives? After all, as Christ’s followers, we have been trained well to learn from everything Jesus said and did. This way of reading the Bible can make us feel that our efforts of reading Gospel Luke have been worthwhile. Yes, learning is always something we do in life.
Today’s parable passage does, indeed, make us think about the lessons. Parsing every sentence and meditating on every passage, we can gain numerous new insights we have never had before. This is the beauty of reading the Bible. Each time we read, we find new learning. Then, we can say to ourselves that we ought to be like the servants in today’s parable who worked hard with what they were given and produced something more to bring back to the nobleman. We imagine we are more like the first two who brought much in return. We dread being the one who simply kept what we were given without doing anything.
This parable has been used by many Christian leaders to reinforce the idea that we are only worth God’s grace when we are able to produce more than what we have been given. Especially in Church Growth circles, measuring success has all been about whether our membership has grown or not. Many ministers who measure their successes in numbers have used this parable to teach themselves as to why they must grow church membership. This is one of the reasons why many declining churches close their doors rather than figure out ways to witness and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we see churches declining in number, we consciously or subconsciously equate the membership decline as our failures to be more like the “wicked” slave.
In reality, the one who was called the wicked slave began with a very different attitude. He was afraid of a possible future. He was the one who found a reason, excuse, or pretext to simply let what he received kept hidden. In his own words, he was afraid that he would be punished. He judged his ruler as one who took what he did not deposit and reaped from where he did not sow. He did not care for the one who had power over him. He showed his disdain and contempt by indicating that his owner was wicked and evil. Through his defence he also indicated that he was not interested in doing anything for the flourishing of his owner for a possibility that he might fail and that failure might lead to punishment.
This slave’s wickedness appears to be twofold. He judged his owner as being wicked. Unlike other slaves who went about doing their tasks, this particular slave chose to do nothing because he saw his owner as wicked judge. The fact that the owner was seen as the one taking without depositing and reaping without sowing demonstrates that this slave cares only for his own safety and well being. Whether the owner is possibly wicked is not the issue. As a slave he became the judge over his owner by assuming that his owner was wicked in his ways. Secondly, he rationalised that his actions were nothing more than the reflection of his own, and therefore, his way of doing nothing with what was given was justified.
One curious point to note in this passage is that there were ten slaves to whom the money was distributed to work in trade. We have seen three so far. We do not know what happened to the rest as to whether they were as successful as the first two or these seven might be ones who did something with what they received, but were not able to bring anything back. What would happen to those who did not make more, but lost some or all of what was given? Would the nobleman who returned as a king be as upset with those who tried, but failed? This, we do not know. What we know is that those who tried and were successful in making more were given proportional tasks by being made to manage a number of cities according to their abilities on behalf of the king. We may speculate that those who tried and lost were not given any responsibility for ruling over cities on behalf of the king.
In other words, this parable is not about what happened to those who failed. It is about those who tried and were able to produce more without losing the original amount as well as those who refused even to try on the account of saving their own skins. The silence regarding those who might have tried and at the end of the day broke even or lost does not mean that they were subject to punishment or were considered as being bad for their inabilities to gain anything out of what was given. It probably means that since they were not skilled in managing even a small responsibility they were given, they were no longer entrusted with any important responsibilities.
It is important to re-think the message of this parable carefully so that we do not judge each other as either good or wicked slaves. As we can see here, God’s grace, shown in this parable, is far more subtle and complicated. The wicked slave is not the one who tries and fails, who lost everything while trying, or who gave away all that was given. He is the one who cynically refuses to do his duty. He blames and points at his master for his refusal. As for those who remain absent for their failure to bring positive results, the entire Gospel Luke is about the salvation of God that is coming to sinners and those who are lost to God, even the gentiles. It speaks more about us and our lack of understanding of God’s grace when we lump those who try fail with those who refuse like the wicked slave.
Yet, in our success oriented world, only ones we use for our purpose of becoming better Christians are ones who succeed and bring back profits, enriching the king. In our world where the rich are glorified and revered, we automatically equate those who are successful numerically in terms of numbers of people and/or wealth are seen as God’s blessed ones. This parable says nothing about that. It simply indicates that those with proven abilities were given corresponding responsibilities while those who are wicked will be judged.
We need to mention quickly about how this nobleman was hated by the people and upon his return as their king demanded the death of all those who were rebelling against him. Gospel Luke is certainly making a point about Jews who reject Christ and how they will be judged. It also implies that if faithful his disciples will be given great responsibilities upon his return. We will talk about this at another time.
With all that we have learned in these 8 chapters and the first part of the 19th chapter, we should not focus ourselves on whether we are good or bad followers of Christ based on numerical successes, but on what tasks we are given and how we are to be faithful in carrying out those given tasks. We lose the goal of serving when we focus on success or failure and what it means to succeed or fail. As we learn from this parable, Christ will let us do what we are good at doing according to the gifts God bestowed upon each of us. As we rejoice in the Gospel that is now available to us, we serve God by doing all we can with what God has given us.
From this world, filled with violence, where hatred, greed, and gluttony overrides well being of humanity, we come to you with prayer. Wars are raging in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Gaza, and many other places. Wars big, small, seen, and unseen are destroying the very lives that are meant to build up the world in your image. Instead, the world is filled with human images, full of greed and violence. We are perplexed as your people and come to you for life. Be kind and merciful to us. Hear our prayer.
Among us are those whose lives are in suffering. Physically, mentally, and spiritually many of us are exhausted and broken. We think we can, but in truth, we can no longer sustain life with smiles, gentleness, kindness, and love. Our limits are reached, yet, we do not know where to find will and strength to rebuild this world so that all creation may flourish together. Our ways are revealed to be not your ways. Be kind. Through Christ point us in the right direction so that we may be able to muster enough courage to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses to follow you.
Many of us are seeking. We are seeking wisdom, truth, and life. In your presence, because we have become blind, we no longer see the very wisdom you have given to us through the Scripture. We became good at commodifying and monetising what is in the Bible for our own gain. We lost the ability to receive these wisdom as very thoughts that will lead us back to you. Because we are blinded by our own brilliance we no longer have the ability to see the truth you have given us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because we made our world with idols of pleasure and self-fulfilment, we no longer live the life that leads us to your kingdom. Admonish us, O God, and by the Spirit, lead us back to you.
Give us courage to stay on your path. As we continue to march in obedience to your call, we find temptations, discouragement, ridicule, and despair as the world turns away from us. Our future appears to us as bleak and hopeless. Make us see that you are with us and with you beside us, there is nothing to fear in taking this narrow path. Help us to continue in faith. Keep us focused in hope that is yet unseen. Love us in ways that your love is the basis of all that we do in building, sustaining, and continuing your presence here in this part of your vineyard.
All these we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.
Mission Moment: Anamiewigummig Fellowship Centre
Anamiewigummig Fellowship Centre is a place of safety encouraging relationships and promoting healing and wellness initiatives. We serve many individuals including residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors. We provide Transition housing, daily Drop In centre and offering understanding, nourishment and support to those displaced, impoverished and ravaged by addiction and often mental health issues. We are hopeful for brighter futures and people’s potential to blossom.
Hymn: God of grace and God of glory