Communion Worship Service
We are glad that you have chosen to worship with Kingsville Baptist today. We pray that all that we do and all that we say points you toward God’s great love for you revealed in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will be observing the Lord’s Table at the end of the service. If you are participating, be sure to have bread and juice ready. Even though we know that we will not be taking part at the exact same time, we ask you to use your imagination and place yourself in the sanctuary among us. We look so forward to the day we will no longer have to use our imaginations!
Call to Worship
“You shall know his power today, if you will listen to his voice.”
Of course, we all need power this day, Our gracious Father … power to be faithful friends and family members, to rise above the pettiness of everyday life … even the power to complete the tasks of daily living. We need to listen but sometimes other sounds attempt to drown out Your voice … but we know it can always be heard. Strengthen us in the hearing and the doing, in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.
Today's Message: In The Most Unlikely Of Places
Scripture: Ezekial 11
God’s Sure Judgment on Jerusalem
1 Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east. There at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. 2 The Lord said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. 3 They say, ‘Haven’t our houses been recently rebuilt? This city is a pot, and we are the meat in it.’ 4 Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.”
5 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind. 6 You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead.
7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it. 8 You fear the sword, and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 I will drive you out of the city and deliver you into the hands of foreigners and inflict punishment on you. 10 You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 11 This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be the meat in it; I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. 12 And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”
13 Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell facedown and cried out in a loud voice, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?”
The Promise of Israel’s Return
14 The word of the Lord came to me: 15 “Son of man, the people of Jerusalem have said of your fellow exiles and all the other Israelites, ‘They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession.’
16 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’
17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’
18 “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
22 Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23 The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. 24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God.
Then the vision I had seen went up from me, 25 and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.
As we catch up to our hero Ezekiel in chapter 11, we realize that he is about to embark on a very interesting journey of sorts. “Then the Spirit lifted me up …” he writes (v. 1) … and there are two things he experiences on this occasion. First, what he saw … a meeting, at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem, of the remnant leadership of the Hebrews, left behind after the first Babylonian invasion (v. 1b). Then, what he heard … at least what the Lord (Yahweh) tells him they were saying … “Will it not soon be time to build houses?” (v. 3). After all, the marauding Babylonian army seems long gone … time to get back to “business as usual”, at least in the city of Jerusalem. Those of us who know a little history might caution them at this point. They couldn’t have known this, but there is one more invasion coming, even worst than the first. If they decide to rebuild the city now, they risk the wasting of their efforts … and they will be shocked at this unexpected development.
But there is one more thing said here that should get our attention. Further down in the passage we read these words, again from Yahweh;
Son of Man, your brothers,
your brothers who are your blood relatives,
and the whole house of Israel,
are those of whom the people of Jerusalem have said,
“They are far away from the Lord;
this land was given to us as our possession.” (v. 15)
Of course, we’ve all seen and heard this kind of inferior theology before … that, when someone is going through a bad patch, they must have done something to deserve it. See the book of Job, Jesus’ ministry (especially John 9:2) and even our own lives. It’s an easy way to explain life and identify the reason for problems … but it’s not a sufficient explanation.
These men in Ezekiel’s vision were suggesting that the first wave of exiles were “far away” from Jerusalem and, therefore, must have done something wrong. But, in reality, this little group meeting at the gate of the Temple was no different than the folks taken away as captives, so suggests Yahweh. “You have killed many people in this city …” the Lord says in v. 6, followed by “for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws (v. 12).” This group and their families may have been spared the horror of exile … but they shared the same sin as those who had departed. “Prophesy, prophesy against them,” (v. 4) so Yahweh instructs his prophet. Yes, this is a new leadership group … but the same problem remains. They have all suffered from the same tendency to ignore the God of their Fathers in the context of their personal and corporate lives.
We could proceed at this point to share in another lesson about the tendency of humans to sin, make some contemporary applications and close our service. But something happens in this passage that is unusual and unexpected. It happens in v. 16 … and it reminds us of the true role of the prophet, that of giving meaning to the developments of life. Yahweh instructs Ezekiel to prophesy, saying “Although I sent them far away … yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.”
This is an astounding statement … to suggest that the Hebrew nation, a nation so dependent on Temple and synagogue could find “sanctuary” beyond these traditional meeting places, and in a land far from Israel. The concept of “sanctuary” was such an important one to the chosen people … yet Yahweh appears to be leading them into a new understanding. In spite of their rebellious past, they would still possess this blessing … and even beyond the familiar confines of home, in a far away place.
The world needs a little bit of sanctuary, I think. The word means a place of protection, but it also has something to do with a real sense of God’s presence … and everybody needs that. But if this lesson has meaning for the Hebrew nation then it does for us too. Our loving Father intends sanctuary for us all … but it can happen in surprising places.
For Linda and me it happened when we conducted services in a rattling double trailer on an as of yet undeveloped parcel of land at the edge of one of our major cities. For my friend Junior Sorzano and his Nazarene congregation, it happened after a fire in their church building rendered it unusable for a time. Their experience in accepting the hospitality of a neighbouring congregation expanded their ideas of true sanctuary.
And it’s happening to us right now. We are a bit scattered in our “sanctuary” experiences with First Baptist these days … some of you are reading this message and following the order of service in your homes; others will join us via the miracle of technology on the live-stream from the sanctuary on Sunday morning; and still others, unable to join the live-stream, will “tune in” to the service through the archives on the website. As difficult as it has been to lose your beloved pastoral team and cope with COVID, we have discovered, to our surprise, a new kind of “sanctuary”. Of course, we look forward to the day we can meet in person for worship again … but we are beginning to discover an unusual experience of community during these challenging times.
There is one more piece of good news Ezekiel has been instructed to share with the exiles. In v. 17 and 18 Yahweh suggests the unexpected … that the exiles will be “gathered” from the faraway nations, brought back home and given back “the land of Israel again.” Amazingly, this did happen … through the edict of King Cyrus of Persia, upon defeating the Babylonians and leading his nation as the next world power. But there is something that draws our attention even more in this pronouncement … something that sounds very “New Testament” to us;
I will give them an undivided heart
and put a new song in them;
I will remove from them their heart of stone
and give them a heart of flesh. (v. 19)
As we read these thrilling words, we are reminded of the “work” of Jesus and how the giving of his life has given new life to the whole world … even to those of us living these days. Ezekiel was not just ministering to a forlorn group of exiles 2600 years ago … this prophecy is for us as well. No matter what “far country” you may be in at this time, whether literally or, more importantly, emotionally or even relationally … the promise of “sanctuary” in a distant “land” is available for you.
We read at the end of this chapter that Ezekiel faithfully took the message back with him. “I told the exiles everything” he writes. And how grateful all of us are for that …
How grateful we are, our loving Father, to hear again the truth of the words Jesus would utter centuries later, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I …”. We praise you for providing “sanctuary” … no matter what “place” we may be in our lives.
We must confess on this day of worship that we have acted like the ad hoc committee, meeting that day at the gate of Jerusalem. We have made assumptions about those we believed are “far away” from you. Cleanse our hearts and minds from this type of “us vs. them” thinking … and instill in us a genuine hope for the salvation of all those in our network of contacts and relationships.
Finally, our God, we rarely approach you in prayer without sharing our deepest needs. If asked what was most vital at this time, we would refer to an effective vaccine and a return to normal life … but you know our needs extend beyond this current challenge. Give depth to our prayers by bringing to mind the one taught by our Lord;
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 trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord's Table
Introduction to the Lord's Supper
You who truly and earnestly repent of your sins, who have love and concern for your neighbors, who intend to lead a new life, following the commandment of God by walking in holy ways: draw near with reverence, faith and thanksgiving and take the Supper of the Lord to your comfort.
The Sharing of the Bread
Hear Paul’s words …
The Lord Jesus, on the same night He was betrayed took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat … this is My body, given for you.”
Prayer for the Bread
As we need everyday sustenance for life, so we willingly take this bread, provided for us by Christ’s sacrifice. We do so in His triumphant name … amen.
Eat this bread … and be thankful!
Sharing of the Cup
“In the same manner also, He took the cup saying; this cup is the new agreement in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of Me.”
Prayer for the Cup
How appropriate that the contents of that cup, often used to treat painful wounds, would represent the effective treatment, activated by the cross, to treat our deep wounds of the spirit. As those cured, we give thanks … in the name of the wounded healer. Amen.
Drink from the cup … and be thankful!
“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
— Psalm 121:2