Blessed is the One… – Sermon – Rev. Alex Moir – 5 September 2021

communion cup and broken bread

Communion Worship Service

Reminder: If you are planning to take part in the Lord’s Table at the end of the service, have your bread and juice ready.

WELCOME

Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)

Call to Worship

“His purpose in dying for all was that men and women, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves and should live for him, who for their sake died and was raised to life.” 

— 1 Corinthians 5:15

Prayer

We come into Your presence today, gracious Father, grateful for the dynamic purpose You’ve left us … to orient our lives around “the way”, started by Your Son.  May our gathering this day strengthen and inspire us anew, to embrace the blessed release from our old way and give our lives to You anew.  It is in the strong name of Jesus we pray … amen.

Song

Today's Message: Blessed is the One…

Call to Worship: Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

That is the way the centuries-old Jewish book of worship begins, and it gets our attention right away.  All of us want to be “blessed” or “fortunate” as it might be translated, because we sense that such is a most desirable state of life.  And the writer of this Psalm clearly identifies how we come upon this state of blessedness … by the places we frequent and the people we may meet:

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.”

Our “hangouts” are important to us, as we have seen during this health problem that has held so much of the world in its grip for the last year and a half … and the reason these places are so valuable is because of the people who meet us there.  Coffee is only part of the reason we find ourselves at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop … we’re rarely there alone but usually with associates and/or friends with whom we are sharing a portion of our day.  The Psalmist counsels us that we need to be aware of the various people and attitudes that might be a part of such encounters.  Certainly, the list here is not a definitive one … but we are wise to admit that we may rub shoulders with those who do not share our “world view” if we can understand our faith in such a way.  We will encounter evil on any given day, no matter where we “hang out”; and we will surely be in the presence of “sinners” … we ourselves are still in this category!  Perhaps the most difficult ones on the list are the “mockers” or “scoffers”, since adopting an attitude of cynicism can have a cancerous effect on life.  Of course, we cannot (and probably should not) limit our contacts to those in our faith community … after all, Jesus encourages us to “let our light shine.”  But we need to be careful not to let these very powerful attitudes affect our hope in Christ.  The Psalmist suggests “a more excellent way”:

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”

When the Psalmist speaks of “law” here, he is referring to “truth” in the broadest sense … the truth about how to live life and the true realities of existence.  As we read scripture, we receive such encouragement that life is worth living because there is a purpose and a loving designer behind it.  We see in both Testaments that the Creator God takes the initiative in providing for humankind.  He creates the earth for our benefit … and when sin enters the picture He devises “a way” for us to be reunited with Him.  That is why it is so vitally important that we spend our time “meditating” on the right things in life.  The apostle Paul gives us some good advice as to how we may attain the “blessedness” that is the focus of our message today:

“Finally brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honourable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is an excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.”

— Philippians 4:8

It helps a great deal, in trying to meditate on things that bring strength and encouragement, to have a copy of scripture handy.  In it we truly find the “wonderful words of life.”

In the last part of our Psalm, we find the results of a life spent in thinking on the right things … the life of the blessed one:

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.” 

— v. 3

On this Labour Day weekend, it seems appropriate to talk about true prosperity because it has so much to do with productivity, which we are all after in our work-a-day world.  In Genesis 39:2 Joseph is described as a prosperous person because the Lord was with him … but this prosperity did not last long.  His world was rocked by a false charge that soon saw him land in prison where he languished for many years.  As Joseph clung to his beliefs in Yahweh and continued to live faithfully his remarkable way of life was rewarded even in his incarceration … and then came his miraculous release due to his ability to interpret dreams.  Years later, serving under the Pharaoh of Egypt and recalling the first great disappointment in his life when his older brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph uttered those life-giving words:

“You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good
to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.” 

— Genesis 50:20

Is this not what our Father God wills for us … that our meditation on the “wonderful words of life” bring the saving of the many we come into contact with across the years of our lives?  That this can happen even in circumstances less than ideal is truly encouraging to us.  Even scholarly research from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament affirms this word of truth, in consideration of the life of Joseph:

“Joseph is called a prosperous man,
for Yahweh turned all of his misfortunes into benefit
for Jacob’s sons.” 

— p. 766, Vol. II

May we truly prosper in our service for the King … as we bring benefit for many sons and daughters in His kingdom.

PRAYER

We begin our prayer this day with thanksgiving, gracious Father, over the new life You have given us.  Truly Your word creates delight, as we discover each day its invigorating power.  Day and night it is a source of encouragement and growth.  May it continue to affect our lives in such a way that we become sources of refreshment to those around us.

As we note that Your word also contains the power of conviction, we must admit that its light has revealed times when we wish we would have been more aware, occasions when our words have been ill-chosen and episodes when we have thought on the wrong things.  We are comforted by the truth that Your restorative purpose in Your role as saving Father.  We confess to You our shortcomings, confident that You will forgive and set us on the right path.

Finally, our providing Father, we come to You as always as a needy community.  Our ranks have once again been invaded by grief … that of the loss of a loved one, a terrible accident in one of our nearby communities and the impact of a war fought for many years thousands of miles away.  We are also aware that we are within a day or so of beginning a new school year.  We pray for Your empowering spirit in the lives of those in the education community, students, families and all school staffs, who must bravely serve in spite of continuing health concerns.  We pray for a very generous measure of Your Spirit in all these things … because Your Son said we should.  Amen.    

COMMUNION

Invitation to the Lord’s Supper

Christ our paschal lamb has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival.

Sharing of the Bread

Hear the very words of scripture, from Mark’s gospel:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Prayer for the Bread

We take this bread now, our Father, as Jesus intended it … to be the representation of His real flesh given on our behalf.  We do so with sincere thanks … amen.

Sharing of the Cup

Again, the account of the last supper from Mark’s gospel:

“Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them … and they all drank from it.”

Prayer for the Cup

As we take this cup, we do so in acknowledgement that, as this drink has flowed in its making, so our lives began as his blood did flow.  In deep gratitude we pray … amen.

Song

Benediction

“In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer … I have overcome the world.”

— John 16:33