Sermon for 26 Sept 2021

Just Do It Mark 9: 43-50

So I start today by relating a story by a Mr Trudeau. It’s a story about stress. However the man I am quoting is not the prime minister of Canada but rather the man who created the Doonsbury Comic. His great great grandfather was governor of New Orleans but that is about as close as we get to politics.

Garry Trudeau told a story about a man who came in to see the doctor because he had an ulcer. The doctor asked if the man had any emotional stress. The man confessed that yes he did. He had a wife and a girlfriend who he would drive to see about twice a week. He explained that it could be quite tense as his truck often broke down and he had to create many excuses as to where he had been. The doctor suggested that it was time the man made a decision before he got really sick. About six months later the doctor saw the man. The man looked much better. The doctor said “I can see by your improvement that you have made the decision”. “Yes” the man said “I decided after much thought – to buy a new truck”
It’s an old story but it raises the idea that you have to make decisions in life.

Recently I saw and expression that said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. If you don’t move forward you lose your balance”

John in the Book of Revelations is a little more drastic when he says : So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out.

Jesus is frustrated by the excuses people make. How often did he run into people who supported him in words only. He tells the story of the wedding banquet, where everyone has excuses.
In the scripture passage today he is even more drastic than John in Revelations when according to Mark. he says: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; or if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; or if your eye causes sin pluck it out.

I have wondered if a minister cut off their arm to avoid sin, could he or she collect Workers Compensation?
Jesus goes on to say that it is better to be maimed then to go to Gehenna. Gehenna is usually translated as hell in English bibles but as I have explained before it was the city dump where you would be forced to live when you were cast out of the city.
However there is a certain reality to the term hell as people who don’t make decisions live in their own hell.

The passage isn’t just about making decisions but more about making good decisions. How often have we discovered that making a good decision to change our lives in a positive direction is extremely difficult. We are willing to make lots of excuses and even rationalize our behavior rather than change.

Lines like “Well every cigarette is three minutes less in the nursing home” Or “one more drink isn’t going to matter”. It is tough to change ourselves.

Marshall McLuhan is the author of the illustration about the person in a bathtub and the temperature is increased one degree every 10 minutes. At what point does the bather realize it is hot enough to scream?

As tough as it is the change ourselves, it is just as hard to change the world. Christianity is seen as the religion of tolerance and love and that is sometimes used as a reason not to try to change the world.
It is used as a lever to maintain the status quo.
In actual fact Christians are very often in the forefront of trying to bring in equality and justice. Many rallies and demonstrations are led by Christians, but there is an attitude that a good Christian should just stay at home and be satisfied.
Nikita Khrushchev was a Communist politician who had operated under Stalin. At a news conference someone sent him an anonymous letter asking where he was during the crimes of Stalin. He looked at the crowd and asked the person who wrote the note to stand up. No one did. He replied “That is what I was doing. Sitting quietly, trying not to be noticed”.

Jesus did not stay at home. Jesus did not stay quiet. He succeeded in changing the world but there is lots of work left.

Sometimes we feel that our one voice won’t make any difference. It does. Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the United States by one vote. Nearly 40% of Canadians didn’t vote in the last election. I wonder how different the result may have been if they had?

Sometimes it just takes one person to start a movement.
Sometimes it just takes one person to object and draw attention to a problem.

Years ago I read a book by James Mitchener called “The Source”. In it there is a story of a town in the middle east, many years ago, where the Jews are being forced to denounce their God and consequently being forced to become slaves to the emperor. The punishment for noncompliance is to be tied to a post and whipped to death. Everyone is afraid so they do what they are told. Except one old man. He says “no”. He is tied to the post and whipped but as he dies, his courage inspires others and an uprising takes place and the town is saved.

We do live in a world where there are over-powering forces that seem to be in control. We put up with homelessness, poverty, hunger, low standard of living, war and so many other injustices because we feel helpless to change them. But we are not.

People like Greta Thunberg, Malala or Sophia Cruz are names you know because they are trying to make a change.

Faith Dickinson from Ontario was worried about her aunt getting cold from her cancer treatments and so she started a group called Cuddles for Cancer and so far has given 4500 blankets to cancer patients around the world. She is 15.

Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of England at one time had an expression for people who procrastinated. He said “It is difficult to jump canyon in 2 jumps”. In other words, if you are going to do something then do it full blast.

When Jesus states that you should cut off your arm he is simply stating that sometimes you need to take drastic measures to change your own life or the life of the world.

We live in a pretty comfortable world. What changes can we make to make the world more comfortable for others.

God, we know we are very blessed. Thank you for our lives, They are such an incredible gift. Help us not to become comfortably numb. Help us not to become afraid to better the world. Give us the courage it takes to change our own shortcomings. We try but we need your help. Strengthen us with your spirit.
In silence now we pray for people who we know who are going through difficult times. We pray for world situations that need your strength…..

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 Sept 26, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Communion next Sunday
Opening Prayer God, today each of us woke up from our physical sleep. Help
us to feel your presence, coaxing us to wake up from our spiritual sleep as
we worship you..
Hymn – G – 516 Come you Thankful People
C – 625 I feel the winds of God
Scripture Mark 9: 43-50
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn G – 651Guide me O Thou
C – 382 Breathe on Me

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
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill

No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks