Worship Service of Churchill Gilford United Churches
June 6, 2021
Sermon: Wisdom from Thessalonians
A strange thing happened the other day; I was reading the bible. Well if the truth was told – I was reading it because we were having bible study. I found a passage that I thought should be the sermon for this week
It is not the first time I have seen this passage but it is similar to when you pull out your summer clothes and find that money in the pocket from last fall; You remember it being there when you discovered it, but you had forgotten about it.
I remember this passage ( I am saying that so everyone will think I have read the bible before) but I have not thought about it. It is worth repeating.
Paul is the apparent writer. He was in prison at this point. If you don’t know his story, I will give you the brief synopsis.
Originally he was named Saul. He was a Pharisee in the Jewish faith. He was very intense and adamant that Judaism was the only way. For a while he persecuted Christians until he had a momentous experience on the road to Damascus. He saw a light which blinded him for 3 days and heard a voice saying “Why are you persecuting me?” That completely changed him and he became as adamant for the new Christian sect as he had been for the Jews. He traveled around the middle east on at least three different journeys preaching the gospel and starting new churches.
The Gospel was very offensive to the powers of the day. It was provocative for the religious sphere because he was starting a new faith and they were threatened. The civil was alarmed because they thought he was starting a revolution against them.
Paul had great concern for the churches he had started. He knew at this point that his life was limited. He was in prison and was fully aware that he would soon be executed. He wanted to leave his people with instructions on how to be a Christian in the future.
Unfortunately Paul was a product of his age and some of his writings are quite offensive to people today but some of his works are very meaningful. Many of you have heard his writing “Love is patient and kind…” at weddings over the years.
If you were about to die, what would you want to pass on to friends and family? I have thought that I would say, with my last breath “The money is in the…….”and die before the sentence was finished.
But Paul was a better man than me.
As you hear this, remember that this was what a man in prison on death row, thought was the important information to pass on to people.
I start part way through simply for the sake of time.
As you hear these, repeat them to yourself. Later on today or tomorrow repeat them again and think deeply about each one.
The first statement is “Don’t repay evil for evil”
We would often call that a knee-jerk reaction. Someone hits you or your car and immediately you respond with an equal or increased violent reaction. If someone shoves you, you want to shove back. We do the same thing in a non-physical way. If someone hurts you or causes some damage we seek an opportunity to repay it. People have been known to plot for years how to repay someone for something they did.
One of the most misinterpreted biblical passages says “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” It is used to justify repaying evil for evil, yet that is not what it means. Paul was a biblical scholar and he would have known that an “Eye for an eye” meant that if you take away another person’s vison, you must be their sight. You must replace the damage you caused.
If we don’t repay evil for evil we slow down the cycle of destruction.
The next sentence “Do good to one another”, seems to be a straight forward extension of the last but it goes beyond simply not repaying evil with evil. This sentence contains a proactive action. When we deal with others we can either treat them in a bad way, a good way or just ignore them. The challenge here is to seek ways to make life more positive for others.
We are being encouraged to go out of our way to make life better for others.
Imagine if you lay in bed each morning and picked one person and decided to make their life better that day. You would have 365 happier people every year.
In turn you yourself would become a much more positive human being.
The next phrase “Rejoice always” is much easier if you are a positive person. We live in a society that thrives on negativity. If you watch TV or listen to the radio for even a few minutes you will hear an ad about the availability of lawsuits. How often are you told that you are saying or thinking or doing, something wrong?
I recently talked to a poet who said he was afraid to be happy because he would lose his creativity. That is sad. It is possible to be happy and creative.
If you really want to drive people crazy – be happy, especially in bad times. Making people feel sad is a form of power but if you are happy they have no power over you.
The best part about “rejoice always” is that life is better.
The fourth piece of advice is; “Pray without ceasing”. It means to stay in touch with a higher power. In order to live the previous three challenges, you need the energy and support of something greater than yourself.
A theologian once said “If I closed my eyes every time I prayed I could not cross the street without getting run over”.
There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. Everything including people need to be recharged and renewed from time to time.
Finally the last sentence “Give thanks in all circumstances” is a humbling statement. We realize that we are privileged to even be here. We are privileged to have life and all that we have been given. We are privileged to know and to love.
It is possible to be thankful in all circumstances no matter how bleak things may seem. It helps us to focus on the positive and overcome the negative.
I have to admit that at this point I can hear Blake Constable sing out the Bing Crosby song “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive – and that is what being thankful does.
Anita Krizzan: You don’t have to move mountains simply fall in love with life. Be a tornado of happiness, gratitude and acceptance. You will change the world just by being a warm, kind hearted human being
Take a look at those five sentences.
Don’t repay evil for evil.
Do good to one another
Pray without ceasing
Give thanks in all circumstances
Take a few moments this week and read them over slowly. Think about what they mean and it will become clear why Paul’s dying wish was to share this wisdom.
God, our lives are full of opportunities and routes. We are sometimes drawn to the path of least resistance when we know the true path is often the most difficult one. Help us to know you walk with us.
When we meet people and situations along our journey, help us to empathize with them. When we hear the story of children who died in residential schools, or people starving, or our fellow humans living in fear or violence; help us to walk with them. When we meet people who are celebrating new life or new moments; help us to be part of their joy. When we encounter rough times personally; help us to turn to you and allow you to walk beside us.
God this is the world and the life you have given to each of us; help us to live fully I it. Amen
Now we pray in silence for those who are suffering or need special prayers;
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE June 6, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Hugh Marion
God, In the midst of confusion you are there. In the midst of silence, you are there. In the midst of our lives, you are present. May we feel your presence, now in the midst of our worship. Amen
Hymn – I’m gonna live
Scripture 1 Thessalonians 15-28
Hymn Deep in our hearts
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
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