READING: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; I John 1:1 - 2:2; John 20:19-31
SERMON : "Acts of Kindness, Acts of Forgiveness, Acts of Love"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
Sources, if any, are as indicated in the text.
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand)
CALL TO WORSHIP: (based on Psalm 148)
L: The Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens.
Praise him in the heights above.
P: Praise him, all his angels. Praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon. Praise him, all you shining stars.
L: Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
P: Praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted.
His splendour is above the earth and the heavens.
INTROIT: This Is The Day (verse 1) - SFGP 40
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
We thank you O God for your compassion that meets us according to our need,
for your gracious gift of faith that endures in times of trial and testing,
for the urging of your Spirit within that causes us to want to do good, and
for the living presence of Christ which sustains our hope and guides us to
the truth of eternal life. We bless your name this day and pray that you
will attend this time of worship and accept all our praise, guide all our
thoughts, and answer all our prayer. In Jesus' name we ask it. Amen.
HYMN: "I Danced In The Morning" - VU 352
FIRST READING: Acts 4:32-35
L: This is the word of the Lord.
P: Thanks be to God.
RESPONSIVE PSALM READING: Psalm 133 and Gloria Patri Sung
SECOND READING: I John 1:1 - 2:2
L: This is the word of the Lord.
P: Thanks be to God.
FAVOURITE HYMN OR ANTHEM
GOSPEL READING: John 20:19-31
L: This is the gospel of the Risen One.
P: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Object: Easter Lily
Theme: Acts of Beauty
Good morning - last Sunday was Easter - and we remembered the very first
Easter Sunday so long ago - we remembered how Jesus was raised from the
dead a- and given a new life - a life in which - as we heard today - he
walked and he talked - and he visited with his disciples and ate with them
Last Sunday there was in church some very special plants - I brought one
with me today - does anyone know what they are called... they are known as
Easter Lilies - and they have become a part of our Easter celebrations.
Does anyone know the old legend about Easter Lilies??? Well there is an
old old story that on the day that Jesus rose from the dead and came out of
the tomb - that where ever he walked in the garden where he was buried -
that in his footprints beautiful white lilies grew - just like these ones.
I think that story must be true - because I know that wherever Jesus went
before he died and was buried beautiful things happened - can anyone think
of some the beautiful things that happened before he died????
- he cleansed lepers - made their skin healthy and whole
- he forgave people their sins
- he raised Lazarus from the dead
- he got a man who was paralyzed to walk
- he made people who were rejected by others part of his family
- he blessed children and played with them
- he treated tax-collectors well.
Jesus caused beautiful things to happen before he died - and this Easter
Lily reminds me - and it can remind all of us here today - that he caused
beautiful things to happen after he was raised - beautiful things in the
garden where he lay - and beautiful things still today where people believe
LET US PRAY -- WE THANK YOU GOD FOR LILIES -- AND FOR ALL THE
BEAUTIFUL THINGS -- THAT JESUS DID FOR US AND OTHERS -- HELP US
TO REJOICE -- AND BE GLAD IN HIM -- NOW AND FOREVER, AMEN
HYMN: "Jesus, Stand Among Us" - VU 396
SERMON: "Acts of Kindness, Acts of Forgiveness, Acts of Love"
Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the words of my
lips and the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show
us your ways and inspire us to live by your truth. Amen
A few years ago a woman by the name of Anne Herbert - a writer who lives in
California accidentally started a movement called 'practising random acts
of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."
She came up with the phrase while doodling on a restaurant placemat in
Sausalito one day. A man sitting nearby thought it was wonderful and
copied it on his own placemat.
And suddenly people all over were copying the phrase down and doing what it
The objective of those who subscribe to this movement is quite simply to do
kind things for other people for absolutely no reason at all other than the
fact that they want to make the world a better place.
Those who commit random acts of kindness do things like
- pay the toll for their own car at a toll gate - and the toll for the
next six cars behind them.
- or take a beautiful plant into the a police station to brighten the
- or let the person in the grocery line behind you go before you.
- or smile at a harried clerk in an office,
- or complement a stranger on a bus on how good they look.
According to Anne Herbert some of the things that have been down by those
who have caught the spirit of practicing random acts of kinds and senseless
acts of beauty include:
- shovelling the snow from a neighbours walk when no one is looking
- leaving a generous tip for a waiter who has provided poor service
- planting daffodils along a highway
- writing an old school teacher to let her know what a difference she
made to her students
- and going out and scrubbing graffiti off park benches.
"Here's the idea", Herbert says, "Anything you think there should be more
of, do it randomly. Kindness can build on itself as much as violence can."
I like it - I like it a lot - and if I find one of the bumper stickers that
are available - I'm going to buy it and past it on my bumper.
I figure it will encourage others
and help hold my car together at the same time.
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.
In a sense that is what our Christian faith is about -
its about doing acts of kindness,
and committing acts of beauty,
and doing so without regard to the merits of those for whom we do
without regard to question of whether or not anyone has deserved
or earned our affection, time, or our care.
When the disciples were gathered in the upper room after the death and
resurrection of Jesus he appeared among them - and said to them: "Peace be
with you - As the Father has sent me, so I send you" - and then he breathed
on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of
any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of
any, they are retained."
As followers of Christ and heirs of the apostles, we have been given a
we have been given a power,
and we have been given an authority :
the commission to go out as Jesus went out, to do good to others without
judgement or criticism:
the power to act with confidence and strength knowing that God stands
and the authority and the privilege to actually make a difference
in the lives of others, a difference that counts - now - and forever.
When you look at the first Christian Community - as our reading from the
book of Acts looked at that community - you quickly see the results of that
commission, that power, and that authority being taken seriously. You see
the results of the resurrection being taken seriously.
You see a community in which there is no want or need that is not met
- a community in which people are full of joy and hope
- a community in which people share with one another and give praise
to God for his love and his goodness.
- a community in which people are able to testify to God with great
power and to bring others into the blessedness which they know
- a community in which the people are of one mind and of one heart.
You see a community -a fellowship - that is full of God's blessings,
because it is full of God' Spirit - because it is full of faith in Christ
Jesus and in his resurrection.
As the Apostle John puts it many years later "If we walk in the light, as
God himself is in the light,
we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of
Jesus his son cleanses us
from all sin."
Practising kindness, forgiveness, and love is what walking in the light is
And it has a wonderful effect. It brings us into fellowship with each
other and makes us whole.
Ralph Waldo Emerson - the famous American philosopher and poet wrote:
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no
one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
Anne Herbert says kindness can build on itself as much as violence can.
Eric Hellman, an environmental and communications consultant in Toronto who
seeks to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of love says,
"It's what all the world religions are about. We need to help each other
if we want to make our society work. It's important to raise each other up
instead of putting each other down."
All these things are true - yet there is even more to our acts of kindness,
our acts of forgiveness, our acts of love than John, or Ralph, or Anne, or
Eric have so far suggested.
As I said earlier - we have been commissioned to these acts,
we have been given power to do them,
and the authority to make them stick - or not stick
- if that is what we will.
Mother Teresa once said this about her work in the streets of Calcutta:
Non-Christians and Christians both do social work, but non-
Christians do it for something, while we do it for someone. This
accounts for the respect, the love and devotion - because we do
it for God. That is why we try to do it as beautifully as
We are in continual contact with Christ in his work, just as we
are in contact with him at mass and in the blessed sacrament.
There, Jesus has the appearance of bread. But in the world of
misery, in the torn bodies, in the children, it is the same
Christ that we see, that we touch."
The first Christian Community was so dynamic - so loving - so sharing - so
united - because it lived wholeheartedly for the Risen Christ.
The first believers knew with every fibre of their being that God's love
conquered all - even death itself - and they were eager to share that love
with others - that they might know the blessedness of life as God meant it
They practised random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty - as an
act of devotion, and as a natural response to what God had already done for
And thus in a sense - the acts of kindness and beauty that they committed
were no longer random or senseless - they had a purpose - a holy purpose -
the purpose of not only bringing people closer to each other and making a
better society - but the purpose of bringing people into a healing and
cleansing relationship with God - a relationship in which both our joy -
and theirs are complete:
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have
heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at
and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- this
life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and
declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was
revealed to us -- we declare to you what we have seen and heard
so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our
fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We
are writing these things so that your joy may be complete."
My friends - the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a victory over sin and
death that is meant for all people.
And we give people a taste of what that victory is like when we take up the
power and the authority that Christ has given us and go forth - as Christ
went forth - to do good, to teach and to heal, to forgive and to raise up,
to bless and to play; to feed and to liberate, and to bring the beauty of
God and his trustworthiness to the minds of others.
And our acts of kindness and forgiveness should be random and our acts of
love and beauty should be senseless -- in the sense that they should be
dispensed generously and without regard to whether or not those around us
deserve them - that is after all how God dispenses his love and forgiveness
But I tell you this - our acts of kindness, and forgiveness, and love, and
beauty should never be random or senseless in their motivation.
They should all be done because we love God,
and because God loves us.
And I tell you this too -
when they are done out of love for God,
and in the power of God and of our commitment to him,
the results of our acts of kindness and beauty are far from random and
they produce fruit for the kingdom of God,
converts to his ways,
and the blessing of forgiveness, fellowship, and eternal life for all.
LET US PRAY
Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, and in the confidence
of Christ's resurrection, help us go forth to practice acts of
kindness and beauty, to help one another in your name, and to
gather before you a fellowship of love. Amen.
HYMN: Jesus, United By Thy Grace - VU 591
SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:
Gracious and giving God - you call us to acts of goodness and we want to do
good - we want to thank you and to bring praise and glory to your name - we
want to help others and show them the wonders of your love. Bless we pray
these offerings and our very selves that these wants may be fulfilled. We
ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION AND PETITION
Let us pray -- Today O God we are reminded by your Holy Word of what people
of faith are like - we are reminded of their joy and trust in you - we are
reminded of how they care for one another and reach out to help their
brothers and sisters - we are reminded of how your presence in their lives
conquers their doubts and fears. Lord - work strongly in us and conform
our lives to the example of Jesus and of all those with a living faith --
help us walk in your glorious light and rejoice in your saving truth...
Lord hear our prayer...
Gracious God - we recall how the sadness of the disciples was turned to joy
and of how their fear was turned to courage by your risen presence. Help
us show your present reality to all those around us who dwell in fear and
sadness. Help us, and the people of Christ everywhere, to bring comfort to
those who grieve, strength to those who are ill, and blessings to all those
in need... Lord hear our prayer...
Lord, hear our prayer too for those in special need of your presence this
day - we ask that your Spirit may touch those we name before you in the
silence of our hearts -- that your Son might visit them and speak a word of
healing, that your nameless servants in this world might bring unto them
your comfort and your grace... we especially remember before you....
BIDDING PRAYER.... Lord hear our prayer...
We thank you O God, for your power and presence in our lives. Make us
known as a people who share that power and presence, so that the glory we
intend to give unto you may be given by all, and so that our joy may be
compete in Christ Jesus our Lord - who taught us to pray as one saying,
HYMN: Take My Life and Let It Be - VU 506
COMMISSIONING In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into the
world - to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the
Body of Christ.
Go in Peace - and may the blessing of God, the anointing of Christ, and the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit be yours and through you be upon others -
both now and forevermore. Amen
THREE-FOLD AMEN AND CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.