I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. (Philippians 1:3-7)
The congregational meeting is called for Sunday, June 26 to discuss the suggestion from the Session to downsize. The motion is “that the congregation of Drummond Hill approve the decision to downsize in order to ensure the future of the congregation.” As we have shared with you, once this motion is passed, we have a plan of setting up a task group to find out a cost to severing the sanctuary building from the rest of the facilities, figuring out a way to finance the severance, and plan a way to continue the ministry seamlessly while this project is ongoing. If you are not available to be present, then, please, vote online, via email, or a phone call.
Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays continue this Tuesday at 10 am. Please mark the time. Join us.
Hot and Spicy will be meeting on Friday, June 24th at 5:30 pm. This is to add a new faith community with younger people to Drummond Hill. Please pray that we will be faithful in God’s mission.
The session will be meeting on Tuesday, June 21 at 6:30 pm. One of the items for discussion will be the time of our summer worship in July and August.
Preparation: He has made me glad
Call to Worship
The church lives to praise God. We have no higher calling than to offer the worship that belongs to God day by day, Sunday by Sunday. Let us come and worship God!
Hymn: Here I am Lord
O Lord, on this day, we remember you. We remember you as our Creator who through fatherly love cares for us always in the same way we remembered you as the Creator who loved us with motherly love on Mother’s Day. Never cease to love us as we praise and worship you without ceasing.
We bring to you our joys and sadness as our gift to you. We present ourselves as your people in Christ Jesus our Lord who reconciled us to you in ways that we may truly worship and serve you in all of life. Be kind, O God. Receive our presence, not because we are worthy to be present before you, but because we are called to be in your presence as ones who are recreated in your Son’s death and resurrection. May this worship glorify you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 9:10-17
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.
The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’ But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
Along with Jews and Muslims, Christians call ourselves people of the book. Our understanding of faith comes from the way we read from the Bible about God’s faithfulness to us. This is how we understand faith as Christians. The Bible is the record of how from the very beginning of human history God has been faithful to God’s people. In reading we also find out the unfaithfulness of God’s people to God. This unwavering faithfulness of God is what defines and continually reshapes our faith in ways that our faith becomes more like God’s faithfulness to us. God has not and will not abandon God’s people no matter how far they betrayed and ran away from God. On this Father’s Day, we remember this faithfulness of God and equate it as father’s faithfulness to his children when true loving relationships exist between a parent and children.
From the very start of human history, it appears that the people of the book, Jews, Christians and Muslims, were clearly expressing God’s love for people by linking God in this very intimate familial relationship. For a long while and in many cases still, when Christians pray, we often address God as Father. The Lord’s Prayer begins “Our Father.” In the Gospels Jesus is described as referring to God as the Father. The Church’s fight over inclusive language is based very much on how to express this close and intimate relationship between God and us. Part of the underlying understanding that God is our Father is to indicate God’s faithful relationship to us. This imagery of God as the Father helps us to describe this very complicated relationship between God and human beings.
The relationship of father and a child or children is not without difficulties. Studying the father-child relationship in societies of different times and contexts is very complex. What a good father is in a particular time in a particular society can no longer apply once we change a historical time frame or cultural context. A good father in early Medieval England may not be considered to be good in 21st century Canada.This is only to indicate that how God is understood to be good in ancient times may not be understood in the same terms in our age. Yet, as much as things change, certain things remain more or less the same especially in the case of a father-child relationship. This is why so many Christians simply assume that they know what relationship Jesus had with God when they read Jesus addressing God “Father.”
One aspect of being a father that is commonly shared between the Biblical times and today is our expectation of what a good father does for his family. A good father is the one who provides for his family sufficiently so that his children may flourish in life. Of course in today’s Canada, what it means for children to flourish has a lot to do with fathers being involved in many experiences of children growing up. For example, a good father today is expected to work hard to provide for his family monetarily, attend teacher-parent conferences, support his children to thrive in sports and other activities, and so on. Contrast this to the Biblical times when fathers were usually absent in children’s lives. Most good fathers were busy involved in making sure enough food would be available for their children. Much of child rearing was left to mothers.
In the past 100 years, many of our ideas about God have been contested. The imagery of God as a good father type has been carefully examined not only by Christians, but also by non-Christians. In a way, it is accurate to say in general the very God we presented to the world as being faithful to humankind has faced many push backs from those within and without the Christianity. The arguments often centred on the premise that the faithful God would have cared for, participated in, and provided for people so that they may live in safety and trouble free life. After all, God as a faithful father would have done everything to ensure God’s people would be protected from evil and ills of life.
Sadly the twentieth century historic event shattered the image of God as all powerful and benevolent Father as so many innocent people lost their lives to human evil acts such as bombs and gas attacks during WWI, holocaust brought on by the Nazis, dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and many other inhumane events in WWII. On top of these grotesquely evil events we saw natural disasters like Ethiopian famine in which God’s faithfulness for people could not be experienced. So many innocent people died. God’s love that Christians spoke of was nowhere to be found as millions including children perished.
These examples show how describing our relationship to God as a father-children relationship has its problems. Yet, as we have seen in the arguments over the use of inclusive language that took place in the closing of the 20th century, this intimate relationship between God and people is incredibly important to many Christians. In most cases, every time we listen to those who pray, we will hear them calling on “Father” and invoking this intimate relationship. There is something sacred and important in this relationship that goes far beyond logical arguments on whether God ought to be addressed in this way.
In most child-like faith, God as our Father makes perfect sense. As Jesus calls God “Father” we come to call God “Father” with all things related in the relationship between a parent and child. It takes us directly to the centre of a relationship that is based on complete trust and love. This innocent and simple relationship is the core of faith that responds to God’s faithfulness to humanity in spite of continual and serial unfaithfulness of humanity to God. From this one sided, yet, fully life sustaining relationship, we come to learn what true faithfulness is all about.
Today’s scripture passage describes Jesus feeding five thousand men with two fish and five loaves. However we would like to term it, whether it is indeed true or made up, the intent of this paragraph is to show that in God’s presence, all things are possible. Everyone is seated. Everyone is served. All ate their fill. In this particular event God provides sufficiently for all. Again as simple as this story of God being a good father, there are many others who want to focus on the impossibility or implausibility of this feeding of five thousand with five loaves and two fish being true. They constantly argue over whether this event could have taken place. Since we were not present, it is hard to know for sure. However, arguing over whether Jesus did indeed feed five thousand or not only proves that we are not reading the passage with eyes of those for whom this account was recorded. The author of Gospel Luke was not interested in Jesus’ ability to do a miracle. The focus of the story is to share the awe he and his friends experienced when Jesus did something no one expected. By reporting the story the author focuses on God’s faithfulness to God’s people. In this case God provides sufficiently for all who are gathered before Jesus. As the event that demonstrates God’s faithfulness to God’s people, the challenge that is thrown to the readers is whether the one who reads can experience God’s faithfulness and responds with faith in God.
Yes, ultimately, the question is whether one will be faithful to God in all circumstances on the understanding that God’s faithfulness to us is unshakable and without fail. Many people in today’s world will call Christians who accept this reportage as demonstrating God’s faithfulness to those who came to Jesus naive or nothing more than simpletons. On the other hand, those Christians who accept this event as a historical demonstration of God’s faithfulness to those who come to God through Jesus are able to receive this passage in light of God’s grace for humanity. After all, essentially, the point of this mighty act is not that these five thousand men were rescued. Instead, the point is that God showed compassion through Christ. It is Christ’s compassion for these five thousand that caused Jesus to bring about this action of grace that sustains life in a fuller way as they experience God’s reign in and through Jesus.
We need to understand that those five thousand would neither have died of hunger nor have received Jesus as their saviour because of the food they were given. If anything, five loaves and two fish are not food of the well to do, but simple food of regular people. Yet, like the manna that people of Israel received in the wilderness, these foods of ordinary Israelites are shared as the very symbol of God’s love for them. Towards the end of the Gospels, in his last supper with his disciples, pieces of an ordinary bread were given as the visible symbol of God’s deliverance through Jesus. In communion, on Jesus’ behalf, we repeat, “This is my body broken for you. Take and eat.”
A father who is good, provides for his children so that their lives flourish in this trouble filled world. With this understanding we imagine God providing us sufficiently for us to flourish in this world filled with threats from death. The passage from Luke lays out a historic activity where Father responds to Son’s compassion for people. When the Son blesses and distributes five loaves and two fish through his disciples, by God’s grace, everyone experiences what it means to be under God’s reign. The kingdom of God is within them all because the compassion of Jesus for their fatigue and hunger became the opportunity where God’s people came to experience God as their Father in the same way God was Jesus’ Father. In this way God’s faithfulness reforms and reshapes our faithfulness to God in all circumstances.
O Lord God, have mercy on us.
In our weakness we remember you. In our confusion, we search for your Word. In our fear we shout out to you. In our sickness we turn to you.
Perhaps it is our frailties, O Lord, that we are more careful and less bold. We have become far more certain of what we cannot do than what is possible in you. We share with one another things that are wrong with us instead of sharing the good news you have instilled in us. Seeing challenges we count our weaknesses, preempting our responsibilities to overcome them. We pray that you will forgive us. We pray that through the Holy Spirit we gain faith to know that in you all things are possible.
Our world has been reeling in pain and anguish as wars continue, more people are put into the life of poverty, and animosities among peoples increase. Not knowing where to turn, we do our best to search for easy and quick solutions. We are misled more often than we can count. Instead of turning to your Word first, we do our best to avoid being confronted by your Word. Be gentle with us, O God. Forgive our inability to run to you, our eagerness to turn to ways of this world, and our stubbornness to consider your Word first.
With so many changes, our world has become more dangerous. We are fearful of the power of death this world represents to us. We see pain, anguish, despair, and death all around. In fear we call on you for deliverance. We try our best to escape the darkness around us by using artificial lights we have invented. In this dim life, we are no longer able to see our way clearly. In deep fear, having stuck in the middle of this darkness, surrounded by the hounds of death, we call on you. Be gracious. Reach out in your mercy and deliver us so that we may once again walk on the road back to you.
O Holy Spirit, pains from our muscles, bones, and tissues are too much for us. Some of us are at a stage where our minds do not control our body parts as they should. Instead of standing steady, we are prone to fall. Instead of having confidence in life, we are reminded how even the smallest of diseases make our lives impossible. Doctors and all medical professionals do their best to heal us. Yet, in most cases, we have no one to turn to, but you, O God. Grant us strengths so that in life we may continue to worship and serve you.
There are many concerns, troubles, and fears in our minds. So we bring them all to you, O Lord, in the words that your Son taught us. When we say them as our prayers, look deep into our hearts and listen to our prayers that are unsaid.
O Lord, in your grace, we found our lives fully cared for, provided for, and given in love. In gratitude, we bring to you these small offerings as our gift for all that you have done for us. Receive them. Bless us in ways that we may bring your grace to neighbours near and far. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
Hymn: I love you, Lord