First Presbyterian Church
27 N. Main Street, P.O. Box 568, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
Order of Divine Worship
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost • Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time • Proper 21
Sunday, October 1, 2017 – 10:30 a.m.
You are the light of the world. You are the body of Christ.
Greeting: Assisting Elder: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Announcements Assisting Elder:
Preparing for the Word
Musical Call to Worship
Introit “To God Be the Glory” Hymnal 634, Verse 1
Call to Worship: I Cor. 10:16-17
The cup of blessing, which we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.
Time with Children
*Hymn 264 “At the Name of Jesus”
Prayers of Confession (Rom 5:8, Heb 4:16)
The proof of God’s amazing love is this: while we were sinners Christ died for us. Because we have faith in him, we dare to approach God with confidence. Let us ask God to forgive us.
Almighty God: from the ends of the earth you have gathered us around Christ’s holy table. Forgive our separate ways. Forgive everything that keeps us apart; the prides that prevent our proper reunion. O God, have mercy on your church, troubled and divided. Renew in us a true unity of purpose; that we may break bread together, and, with one voice, praise Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Grace John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that God gave the only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.
*Response of Praise, No. 581
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, World without end, Amen, Amen!
Hearing the Word
Anthem “How Beautiful” Paris
Old Testament Readings: Exodus 17:1-7
1From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
Epistle Reading: Philippians 2:1-13
1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 21:23-32
23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Sermon “Around the Lord’s Table” Rev. David Ashby
This is “World Communion Sunday” in many churches around the globe in many denominations, a day when we try to remember that the holy sacrament Jesus established with his twelve disciples in the upper room during his last Passover extends his love and welcome to all of us across all time and all places. Of course, that is always true, but today is a helpful symbolic way to remind ourselves. Sure, it might be a bit of a churchy gimmick, tracking through worship around the globe sort of like we follow midnight of New Year’s Day across the time zones. Sure, we might use a variety of breads from a variety of cultures as a symbol of diversity within Christ’s oneness in all lands, and we receive the Peacemaking and Global Witness offering as a tangible support of worldwide Christianity. But all that unity and witness are actually reflections of how Christ Jesus himself has given of himself to us in spirit and in truth. The first Sunday in October just a reminder of Christ’s everlasting love in loaf and cup shared.
It’s interesting how many names the church uses for this sacrament. The oldest references are simply to a community meal which added the reenactment of Jesus’ words to the disciples, sometimes referred to as an agape meal (agape meaning love). Also ancient is calling it the Eucharist, after the Greek word for thanksgiving, the first prayer of the liturgy. Roman Catholics call it the Mass. Us calling it communion highlights the sharing of the meal among the community of faith. And, while we usually call Jesus’ meal with his disciples “The Last Supper,” we might also consider it the first “Lord’s Supper.” Communion and the Lord’s Supper are probably the most common names among Protestants.
On World Communion Sunday, I like to use a version prepared by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy. It draws from the ecumenical worship renewal of the 70s and 80s, when many major traditions kinda discovered that our various histories and practices had much more overlap than we thought, and there could be surprising levels of consensus on communion. Sure, this was an era of great ecumenical cooperation, so finding texts and theologies that we could share was a good thing. As liturgical renewal at was happening in parallel across the board, churches began talking to each other about what was alike more than different, and that the major movements within the communion service were consistent across denominational lines. A key part of this was that many groups had gone back to liturgies in the 3rd and 4th centuries, before the separation of Western Roman Catholicism from Eastern Orthodox and the later Protestant Reformation and the Anabaptist Reformation and found inspiration. It really turned out to be “inspiration,” because a spiritual consensus developed. One of those inspired deals was among countries using English, and this service was put together as one everyone could work with. It is important to realize that the consensus is around the words and structure, although not necessarily on the theology. In fact, different traditions emphasize different parts as central. Roman and Anglican leaning traditions elevate the host or bread for veneration and stress that “This is my body,” whereas I slightly lift the loaf and put the accent on “Take, eat, all of you.” We may understand the underlying theology according to our theology, yet if a Lutheran or Baptist or Episcopalian or Disciples of Christ or Congregational or Reformed or Presbyterian visitor walked into any of our communion services we would all find it familiar.
So, I’ll walk through it so you can pick up on the different parts as we go along. We begin with an invitation to this reenactment of Jesus’s meal with his disciples, often with those words from scripture about coming from east and west, north and south, often with the reminder of Jesus being recognized by the disciples on the Emmaeus road in the breaking of bread. Next comes the ancient “Sursum Corda,” “Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord,” which goes back to the earliest church. The next block is the Great Thanksgiving, which can have some variations based on the season of the church year, but always begins by thanking God for God’s saving acts culminating in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, our Christ. The Greek word for “thanksgiving” is the root for “Eucharist,” which is what many call communion. Then comes the “holy, holy, holy,” or the Sanctus in Latin, extolling God’s majesty and refraining “Hosanna” and “Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” which was said during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that Passover. We continue our prayer, focusing on Jesus himself.
Then we move into reciting the Words of Institution, the central part of the liturgy which describes what Jesus did that last evening, when he went beyond the Passover ritual with bread and cup, reinterpreting the covenant of salvation being in his body and blood, foreshadowing his sacrifice. First Corinthians 10 actually provides most of the words for what we now call the Lord’s Supper, with Paul recounting how “on the night of his arrest, Jesus took bread…” Many theologies identify this as an atoning sacrifice. “This is my Body.” Roman Catholic theology takes this very literally with transubstantiation, that the substance of the bread becomes the substance of Jesus’ body. Anglican and Lutheran consubstantiation says it is both bread and Jesus’ body. Reformed (Presbyterian) theology sees the presence of Jesus more as in spirit and in the gathered congregation. Anabaptist theology emphasizes the “in remembrance of me.” But, as I said, we are comfortable using the same words to represent varying doctrine. Consensus. “Christ is the Bread of Life,” which is another ancient, ancient formula we repeat next, that whenever we partake we proclaim Christ’s death and salvation. The next prayer, asking that Christ’s Spirit be with us as we commune, really fits our Presbyterian belief that the real presence of Christ is in the worshiping congregation. I really like it myself, although, ironically, it’s not in the version we use most months! We round out with another ancient formulation, “Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.”
How we actually get the bread and cup varies by tradition, sometimes very local, very congregational tradition and, of course, the architecture of the sanctuary. The oldest serving would have been going forward for the priest to give you the unleavened bread and a sip of wine, but in the medieval church parishioners only got bread. Later the wafer would be dipped in the cup, but there was actually a controversy about intinction (dipping) instead of drinking several times over history. The latest one was in the 20th century with concerns about germs, when many churches went to dipping only, much to the consternation of some priests! Some churches have rails along which members line up as the priest moves by them; some have the officiant and assistant stand while participants walk up the aisle like we do here. The cubes of bread and small cups are kind of an 18th and 19th century American thing, partly with the auditorium style pews lined up, partly a Victorian squeamishness about sharing a common loaf and cup. The most recent cultural phenomenon is around gluten-free elements, which has a basis in fact but can get a bit carried away. Interestingly the Pope just reaffirmed that communion wafers cannot be completely gluten-free but must have a trace of wheat to make it “bread.” (I’m too Presbyterian to get that, I suppose!) I hope this dash through the liturgy helps you as we go through that part of the service.
Leonardo DaVinci’s mural, “The Last Supper,” in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, has probably done more to shape our understanding of communion than it should! It is kind of formalized, a bit mannered, sorta stylized, and, like the table, obviously one-sided. DaVinci followed the convention of putting everyone on one side of the table, with Jesus in the center and the disciples arrayed along the far side of the long table in groups of three, all reacting to Jesus saying that one of them will betray him later. Judas is shadowed and clutches his bag of coins while the others react in disbelief. For the artists among us, Jesus sits at the convergence of all the lines of perspective, right at the central vanishing point, everything drawing our eyes to him. In reality it would have been messier and the men would be sitting on all sides of the room on cushions probably, maybe with a few tables, but not that expansive holy banquet-style table. And yet we often end up with long communion tables with white tablecloths with a officiating pastor in the center and all the rest of us looking at it from the empty side. Every so often you will find a Maunday Thursday service that has participants actually sit around the communion table or in a fellowship hall where we can all look at each other’s faces and pass each other the bread and cup. That would be more like Jesus real “last supper,” but at least we get a sense of three-dimensional interaction when we pass the elements along the pews or come forward for intinction.
But no matter the details, this is the joyful feast of the people of God, offered by Christ Jesus, to which we are all invited. In a posting this past week, Diana Butler Bass had a great connection between our Philippians 2 passage about Jesus not wanting to be exalted but emptying himself into the form of a servant and Communion. Setting aside divine perogative to be with humanity, she said, “God moves from the throne to the family table.” And as we gather in a few moments, Jesus invites us to his family table. Come with rejoicing to God’s love here in this place…
*Hymn 401 “Here in this Place”
Responding to the Word
Prayers for Others and for Ourselves
O God our help in ages past, your almighty grace has, in fact, carried us through thus far, carried us through to this place and moment, to this place of faith and this moment of prayer. Our hearts are filled to overflowing with gratitude for all the goodness with which you surround us, grace upon grace. From the expanding marvels of your universe to the love you showed us in Christ Jesus, who lived among us bringing your redemption and reconciliation, to the personal blessings of family, friends, opportunities, and possibilities, we thank you.
O God of earthquake, fire, and flood: it seems we have seen all of that recently, as calamity after calamity, catastrophe upon catastrophe assail your people, from volcanos, earthquakes to typhoons and tornados and hurricanes, wildfires and wild rivers, floods and droughts, to accidents and other tragedies; they all seem to have piled up. Our ability to comprehend, much less cope, much less know how to respond is numb, and we are far away from the worst. When we see images of countrysides underwater, we have a hard time even figuring out what to do beyond our urgent prayers for the victims; grant that ways to minister to those in dire need will appear, and that our eyes will be open to see… and our hearts open to care. In particular we think of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands awash from Hurricane Maria, yet Florida and the Keys and the areas around Houston are still facing long recovery. Raise up brave responders and generous donors and caring rebuilders for the long haul which our neighbors far away will face.
Yet sometimes it is not the natural destruction which most hurts but the human destruction of terrorism, civil unrest, warfare, sectarian violence, and just plain ugly hatred. We pray for the victims of strife wherever death stalks the land; grant them peace and a chance for normal life. Lord of all, we pray, send peace to this world, beginning with us.
Of course, O Holy Spirit, most of our prayers are smaller, of less global consequence, yet important to us. We stop to pray for people and needs closer to home yet important to us, prayers for the ill and injured, the grieving and the worried, the lonely and the depressed, the impoverished and hard-pressed, for families where the distance is not geographical, for families for whom it seems too late, and for people and problems we pray about now in the silence ………………………… We pray for ourselves, asking for that which we need and asking that the weights which burden us may be lifted…. We pray for ourselves as your church, as our wider denomination, as this congregation, as the leaders and officers of this congregation. Give wisdom, discernment, and more than a little endurance and patience to our sisters and brothers on the Pastor Nominating Committee. Be present in this time, helping to refocus the vision and reinvigorate the ministry shared in community. Bless and extend every good work undertaken in the name of Christ.
O Christ, you emptied yourself for our sake… we hope, for your sake, to be worthy followers. When we are empty and numb, refill us with joy and zeal. When we are too full of ourselves, empty us of our pretensions so that you may fill us with your love and grace. Fill our hearts with the vision of what will fill this corner to the glory of your name and the aid and comfort of our neighbors and the spread of your gospel of love and hope, for we pray …
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
Presentation of Our Gifts and Offerings
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
*Prayer of Dedication
Gracious God, we thank you for being ever present with us. We know that we are never alone. Your mercies have been faithful and rich. Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we might do the work of your will. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sharing Holy Communion
(prepared by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy)
Invitation to the Lord’s Table
One: This is the joyful feast of the people of God.
Our savior invites all who trust in him to share in the meal which he has prepared.
They will come from north and south and east and west to sit at table in the kingdom of God!
Prayer of Thanksgiving
One: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
One: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them to the Lord.
One: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
One: Blessed are you, strong and faithful God….
All your works, the height and the depth, echo the silent music of your praise.
In the beginning your Word summoned light, night withdrew, and creation dawned.
As ages passed unseen, waters gathered on the face of the earth and life appeared.
When the times at last had ripened and the earth grown full in abundance,
you created in your image man and woman, the stewards of all creation.
You gave us breath and speech, that all the living might find a voice to sing your praise,
and to celebrate the creation you call good.
So now, with all the powers of heaven and earth,
One: we sing the ageless hymn of your glory:
All: 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.
One: All holy God, how wonderful is the work of your hands!
When sin had scarred the world, you entered into covenant to renew the whole creation.
As a mother tenderly gathers her children, as a father joyfully welcomes his own,
you embraced a people as your own and filled them with longing
for a peace that would last and for a justice that would never fail.
Through countless generations your people hungered for the bread of freedom.
From them you raised up Jesus, your Son,
the living bread, in whom ancient hungers are satisfied.
He healed the sick, though he himself would suffer;
he offered life to sinners, though death would hunt him down.
But with a love stronger than death, he opened wide his arms and surrendered his spirit.
Words of Institution
On the night before he met with death, Jesus came to the table with those he loved.
He took bread and praised you, God of all creation.
He broke the bread among his disciples and said:
“Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body, given for you.”
When the supper was ended, he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to you,
God of all creation. He passed the cup among his disciples and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is the cup of the new covenant sealed in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this in remembrance of me.
Gracious God, as we offer you our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,
we commemorate Jesus, your Son.
Death could not bind him,
for you raised him up in the Spirit of holiness
and exalted him as Lord of creation.
One: Christ is the bread of life:
All: When we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus,
until you come in glory.
Eternal God, let your Holy Spirit move in power over us
and over these earthly gifts of bread and wine,
that they may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ,
and that we may become one in him.
May his coming in glory find us ever watchful in prayer,
strong in truth and love, and faithful in the breaking of the bread.
Then, at last, all peoples will be free, all divisions healed ,
and with your whole creation, we will sing your praise, through your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen.
Sharing the Bread and Cup
Jesus said: “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
“This is my body, broken for you. Take, eat, all of you.”
Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches.
Cut off from me, you can do nothing. Abide in me and so bear fruit.”
“This is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me.”
The gifts of God for the people of God.
Prayer after Communion
God of love, as in Jesus Christ you gave yourself to us, so may we give ourselves to you, living according to your holy will. Keep our feet firmly in the way where Christ leads us; make our mouths speak the truth that Christ teaches us; fill our bodies with the life that is Christ within us. In his holy name we pray. Amen.
*Hymn 295 “Go to the World!”
*Charge and Benediction Philippians 4:8-9 (ed.)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in Christ, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
The grace of our Savior Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
*Choral Response “To God Be the Glory” Hymnal 634, Verse 2