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Trinity United Church
November 15, 2020
Proper 28  

“Connection not Perfection”  


Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally,
we gather and live and work on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People,
Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.   

Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship  

Prelude: CLICK HERE to watch "Welcome Home" video

Call to Worship: (based on Psalm 123)
We lift our eyes to God      
    Who is enthroned in the heavens! As
the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master,      
    So our eyes look to the Lord our God.
God has mercy on us      
    Endless mercy and comfort
Our souls have had more than their fill of the contempt of the proud      
    We look to God for justice!  

Prayer of Approach

God of righteousness,
you overcome those who abuse their power
and lift up those who suffer.
Even now, when evil seems to hold sway,
we know that you will have the last word.
Keep us faithful as we wait and watch for your coming realm,
when you will welcome all your children
into your kingdom of justice, peace, and love.   Amen.*

*Feasting on the Word liturgies for Year A vol 2, p249    

Hymn: “Here I Am Lord” VU 509  
CLICK HERE for video.

Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Holy One,
the seasons have grown dark
and the times troubling
and though your servant Paul reminds us
that we belong to the day, and not the night,
to the light, not the dark,
yet we are intimidated by the darkness
and fear the night.  

We let our fear and intimidation motivate our actions. 
We betray your trust;
we abandon Holy Manners;
we neglect the call to justice;
we fail to serve with our whole selves;
we horde our wealth.  

Call us back to sobriety.
Call us back to your promise.
Call us back to put on the breastplate of faith and love
    and the helmet of the hope of salvation.
Remind us that we are your children
    and that you are our God  

Friends, hear these words from Paul
to the church in Thessalonica:
“God has destined us not for wrath, but for obtaining salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.”
Rest assured,
in Christ we are forgiven,
    reconciled and renewed. 
Thanks be to God!  


Telling our Ancient Story: CLICK HERE for video.
After the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, and after Joshua had died, the people, the Israelites, forgot their promise with God. And they started doing what was evil in God's sight. They did not care for their neighbours. They abandoned widows and orphans. They neglected strangers to their land. They abused their servants and slaves. So God left them to their misdeeds.  

And The King of Canaan, King Jabin, who ruled in Hazor and his general Sisera treated the Israelites like slaves. Just like back in Egypt. The Israelites were oppressed cruelly for 20 years.  

Eventually, the Israelites cried out to God.  

Deborah, a prophet, was a Judge in Israel. A Judge was like a hero. She Knew what to do. She called for the warrior Barak and said to him, "The Lord, God of the Israelites, commands you to take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from your tribes. The Lord your God will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, and God will deliver him into your hands."  

However, Barak objected. He said to Deborah, "Have you seen Sisera's chariots of iron, we can't defeat him."  

Deborah asserted, "God will be with you."  

And Barak replied, "I'll go, but you must come with us to inspire the men."  

Deborah agreed and said, "But when you succeed, the credit will not go to you, but to a woman."   Barak did defeat Sisera's army. And Sisera fled the battle field on foot.   [Sisera took refuge with a woman named Jael. Sisera didn't know that Jael was a friend of the Israelites. Jael gave Sisera some milk that put him fast to sleep, then she hammered a tent peg through his temple.]  

Deborah and Barak sang a long song about Israel overthrowing Jabin's army and praising Jael. The people of Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years, until they forgot the promise and turned away from God again.  

Hymn    “When a Poor One” VU 702
CLICK HERE for video.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 5
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.  

Message + Special Music: CLICK HERE for video.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.  

So we've been talking about how Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges were written by the same group of people. And all three are trying to explain why the Exile happened. If God made an eternal promise to the Israelites and David, why was Jerusalem conquered?  

We've come to understand that Exile was a consequence of failing to take care of their vulnerable neighbours. God isn't punishing the Israelites, but it simply isn't possible to live in peace and harmony when we fail to care for our neighbours. God is still working reconciliation. But that takes time, because the people need to learn that obeying and serving God means caring for one another.  

We come to the book of Judges. There are 12 Judges, of which Deborah is the only woman.  

Judges establishes a narrative theme. The same story cycle, even the same words occur over and over again:  

The people do what is evil in God's sight.
God hands the people over to their enemies and the people suffer.
The people cry to God for help.
God raises up a hero, a judge.
The judge delivers the people to freedom, usually conquering their enemies.
The people live in peace for a number of years until they forget the covenant and do what is evil in God's sight… again.  

This cycle happens over and over again. Sometimes with very few details, occasionally we get very memorable characters. We are probably most familiar with Deborah, Gideon, Jephtha, and Samson. Things get worse and worse and worse for the Israelites, in the book of Judges, until the establishment of the Kingdom under Saul.  

In this repeated narrative, of God raising up a chosen one to save the people, we have the beginning of the messianic tradition.  

Who is the Messiah? For us it is Jesus. But "messiah" simply means "anointed" or "chosen one."  

By the time of the new testament period, multiple world Empires had conquered and reconquered Judah: There was the Exile, the Babylonians… But then there was Alexander the Great, the Greeks, The Egyptians again, and eventually the Romans. Over a few hundred years Judah, Jerusalem becomes little more than pawn between other empires.  

The "messianic tradition" develops.  

The story cycle from Judges: the people do what is evil in God's sight, a foreign kingdom conquers them, the people return to God, God raises up a hero who delivers the people. Some Jewish people are now waiting for the penultimate "chosen one" to deliver true believers. The Chosen One takes on many titles in the tradition: the Messiah, the Son of God, the Expected One, Emmanuel, the Suffering Servant to name a few.  

And the Messiah, will not only reconcile the people of God, this messiah will reconcile all creation to God. The tradition starts to take on cosmic characteristics: all creation, all the heavens, all peoples will be reconciled to God under this new Messiah.  

Third Isaiah will really run with this Messianic tradition which is why we hear so much from Third Isaiah in Advent.  

Of course, Jesus followers will say that the Messiah is Jesus. Jesus is the anointed one, the fulfilment of scriptures.  

Of course, there is a problem. Jesus is crucified on the cross.  

Paul will accept Jesus as the expected one. Jesus is the chosen one, the one who fulfills God's covenant, the one who reconciles the people to  God, and remakes all creation.  

Paul will explain Jesus as a different kind of Messiah than we expected. Rather than killing those who oppress and use violence, like the judges of old, Jesus himself is killed. Jesus takes the evil into himself and offers back only love.  

And we are expected to follow Jesus, to do as Jesus did.  

There is a second problem. And that is that Jesus was expected to return and transform the world immanently, like right away. And in the letter we hear from Paul today, Paul's community is concerned because people in the community are dying and Jesus hasn't returned yet.  

Paul's response is that we need to do as we are told by Jesus now, and not wait for his return.  

Jesus returns when we feed our hungry neighbours.
Jesus reigns when we show compassion to strangers.
Jesus is Lord when the oppressed receive justice.
And no sooner.  

So don't wait for Jesus to come back to start living as he instructed us to live. Be sober now. Be faithful and loving now. Hope in salvation now. Encourage one another, and build each other up, now.  

"We belong to the day…"  says Paul, "put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up."  

May we be faithful.
May we be loving.
May we live in the hope of salvation.



Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession 
Let us pray for the needs of the world, saying,
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

Holy God you welcome us into your joy and entrust us with your gospel. In hope for the world to come and with love for the world you made, we offer our prayers for your church, your earth, and your people.  

For your church, in this community and around the world, that your good news may be proclaimed to all.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For oppressors, that they might know justice, and those oppressed, that they might know peace.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For your creation, that we may be the caretakers you intend.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For the young, that they might be nurtured in love.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For the old, that they might be secure in your care.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For those who fight the demons of addiction, that they might find relief.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For those who face an early death and those they leave behind, that they might be comforted.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For all those who care for the suffering and those in their charge, that they would be freed from pain and fear.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

For all those about whom we worry and those whose troubles are known only to you.
God of grace, hear our prayer.  

All this we pray with gratitude for your eternal love and extravagant grace; in the name of Jesus Christ.*

*Feasting on the Word Liturgies for Year A vol 2, p249 ff  

The Disciples’ Prayer


Hymn  “Jesus Christ Is Waiting” VU 117
CLICK HERE for video. 

Commissioning and Benediction
Put on the breastplate of faith and love,
and for a helmet the hope of salvation
For God has destined us not for wrath,
but for obtaining for salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, encourage one another
and build each other up.
In the name of the one who comes,
giving all for all,
we pray. Amen.



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