Worship Service August 23, 2020

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice.

Welcome and thank-you for joining us on this twelfth Sunday after Pentecost August 23, 2020. This service is being distributed by email. Services on YouTube are still on summer hiatus, as we await direction and decision from our board on use of technology. May this worship format speak to you. All feedback is welcome.

We are an affirming ministry of the United Church of Canada.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, there is room for all.

I invite you to light a candle or turn on a light source or just hold your awareness of Christ’s presence within you. As the light shines, may we be reminded we are Christ’s, that Christ’s light and love shines in us, through us and around and beyond us, to our neighbourhoods and communities and to all creation.

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty,  was signed, on the lands where I am, and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect and reconciliation with all our relations.

As we shared this sacred time in whatever space you find yourself, feel the presence of God. As you welcome God, God welcomes you. I invite you to pray in whatever way is comfortable for you, opening yourself to receive God. As we ground and centre ourselves, we still ourselves to experience awareness of our own breath, filling ourselves with the fullness of life’s breath, of God in us. As we exhale, we release all that pulls us away from God.

Breathe it in and release your breath into silence.

Sing, Pray and reflect on this hymn:

Will You Come and Follow Me VU #567

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,  Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?  Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,      and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?              Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Christ, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.  Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

As we gather wherever we are, we reflect on who Jesus is to us, reminding ourselves of who and whose we are in our faith expression.

Call to Worship

When hatred and division separate us,

God’s love binds us together.

When quarrels estrange us from one another,

Christ’s light shows us the way to reconciliation.

When we feel excluded and left out,

The Spirit’s peace eases our pain.

When all hope of fellowship seems lost,

God’s grace restores our hope.

Come, Let us worship God, who makes us one.

B.J.Beu. From The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020 © 2019 by Abingdon Press. 

Sing pray and reflect on this hymn refrain:

Spirit God: be our breath, be our song.

Blow through us, bringing strength to move on.

through change, through challenge, we’ll greet the new dawn…       

Spirit God, be our song.

PRAYER:

Eternal God, part the veil that blinds us to our unity as your beloved children. When those we love hurt and betray us,

help us to let go of our pain and find the balm of forgiveness.

When we feel abandoned by those we trust, help us seek your peace and reconciliation. When our hearts are pierced with anguish, help us find those who will bring us solace through your loving Spirit.  Amen. 

I invite you to read through this scripture to see what words, phrases and messages speak to you.

Matthew 13-20
16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

16:17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.

16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

May these words speak to our hearts today.

Sing, pray and reflect on the words of this hymn refrain:

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy tried and true; with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

Meditation:

“What is your favourite thing to do? something you feel good about? That makes you feel happiness and joy when you do it?” Ask, “What are the things that you are really good at?” Everyone has abilities and talents that make them special and unique. God gave each of us gifts and asks us to use those gifts to help each other and make the world a better place. There is a book called Tadeo Turtle by Janis Cox (Word Alive Press, 2012). In this picture book, Tadeo has a dream that he could come out of his shell and run and play. He finds himself in danger and longs for his shell. His dream helps him realize that his shell makes him unique and special, and that his shell is a gift from God. Sometimes, like Tadeo, we don’t like who we are or what we can do. We wish we were someone else. But God has made us who we are for a reason. We each share our unique gifts. We are trying to figure out when we need to be in our shell, when coming out of our shell is important, how to do that and just how far out of our shell we can safely move

In scripture, we have met Peter throughout Jesus’ ministry, often confused, unsure, not knowing what is going on yet Can you imagine him saying “I can’t understand! I don’t get it!” How often do we relate to those feelings? Peter responds to the Holy Spirit and indicates with certainty  his knowing of who Jesus is. Jesus indicates the church will be built on this rock.

The reading from Matthew can be seen as an invitation to examine our personal relationship with Jesus. It is easy to answer who Jesus is with all the typical names that we hear in church. Jesus is King of Kings, Teacher, Forgiver of Sins, the Chosen One, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Lord of Lords, the Giver of Everlasting Life, Great Healer, and so on. What do our answers mean for us in our personal faith experience, knowledge, commitment and in our personal sense of mission as a follower of Jesus? What does it mean for us in the life and work of our community of faith? What does it mean for our ministries in our neighbourhoods and the wider world as we follow the Jesus way?

Carl GJung, the Swiss founder of analytical psychology,  is quoted as saying, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. “It is hard to know what to do sometimes, but even in these times of creativity and doing things differently, we each have to discern what it is we are doing and will do! All of our well-being depends on our interrelationship of people doing, in our livelihoods, meeting needs, among family, friends, work, in our community of faith and all the groups and organizations we are part of. Showing our support, contributing and taking part is our healthy response to not becoming too fearful or getting stuck.

Through this time of pandemic we continue to feel turned upside down, and we have more questions than answers when it comes to figuring out what we should do… is it safe to go here or there? See  people? Return to school, to work, to appointments, our routines,  our places of worship? What precautions are enough and what is the risk assessment? What are the harm factors we need to consider? These can overwhelm us. Constantly we are gathering knowledge and assessing the current situation and projecting for the near and distant future.

Think about the uncertainty of the disciples and all who hear Jesus. This radical rabbi was turning everyone upside down in imagining a life of faith and relationship different than anything known before. The past rules and observations no longer apply. Those who had been on the margins, outsiders even excommunicated, kicked off the islands” should be welcomed with radical love and hospitality.

Reread this story, as “scripture into script.” We are part of the conversation, perhaps imagining ourselves as a speaker in one of the parts, or a by-stander who overhears this conversation.

Scripture into Script

Reader 1: I heard them talking. So many of them think that Jesus is actually Elijah – we’ve been waiting for him to come again to us.
Reader 2: I heard mention of Moses – after all he led the people out of slavery and gave them new hope and a new life.
Reader 3: I just caught snips of conversation but some of the people thought Jesus was one of the prophets reincarnated. I’m not sure about this.
Jesus: Don’t mean to interrupt but I heard this conversation. Let me ask you a question? Who do you say I am?
Readers 1, 2, &3: shouting Elijah, Moses, a prophet.
Jesus: Who do you say I am?
Simon Peter: You’re the Christ – the son of the living God.
Jesus: Simon Peter, you have figured this out for yourself. Good for you. You are strong and so I will call you Peter because you are like a rock – this rock won’t be destroyed.
Peter: I won’t let you down, Lord.
Jesus: You could never let me down. I believe in you and your strength. You will be a strong leader for the church and help many others to live lives of peace and hope.

In these pandemic times, as we are constantly considering, weighing out our sense of safety and risk factors, often the question that will be most helpful in any discernment is the one Jesus asks of the disciples in this passage. With our answer as our grounding, our foundation we can move forward and face this moment, today and all of our tomorrows.

Jesus asks me: Who do you say that I am?”

Amen.

Prayer: Lord, we hear the wonderful words from Matthew’s gospel in which Simon Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God. He is given the name Peter, the rock upon whom the church will be built. We would like to be the kind of “rock” that Jesus could count on – to be strong in the face of adversity; brave when danger is present; compassionate when sorrow and strife prevail. You have called us to be your church and we ask for your transforming love that we might be better witnesses for you. Today we name in our hearts before you people that we love who are dealing with sorrow and illnesses; people who feel abandoned and alone; people who are entering schools and colleges in person and virtually, job-seekers, all of us trying to find their way amid COVID-19 impacts, the workforce, the front-line workers, families all working in new ways, our church leaders and public health officials informing decisions, teams that are discerning risk and harm impacts for re-opening buildings to gather, the safety factors for our lives. We lift up all those dealing with grief and loss. We In our community of faith we lift up all the family of Noreen Prouse, holding Alexis, Larry, Greg, Samantha, Olivia, Huw and all the extended family as we will miss Noreen so much and are so grateful for her life and all the ways she has been a part of our lives. We thank-you for Kevin’s ministry and support in conducting Noreen’s celebration of life, for Christena-Lynn’s ministry of music, messages offered by Noreen’s brother Stuart and grandson Greg and for the opportunity for us to join virtually by Zoom. Even in times of such difficulty O God, thank-you for all the ways we can come together.  

We also name those people and situations filled with joy and hope; a new home, the birth of a child, celebrations of special occasions, and often just a beautiful day. Hear the cries of our hearts to you, O God. Heal and transform lives. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

May we embrace giving and receiving random acts of kindness.

We take the grace of Jesus Christ into our communities, embracing who Jesus is to us.

May we live and love among shared tears, shared laughter, shared hope and shared joy.

We take the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, experiencing God’s presence within us.

May we seek to listen to God speak to us as we share our offerings faithfully, using our gifts, our strengths, our skills to share time talent and treasure.

We take our growing faith and understanding of who Jesus is to us as we serve today, tomorrow and always.

Go now in peace. The world awaits the love and gifts we have to offer. Go forth in joy and peace to be God’s witnesses. We take the love of God into the world, knowing who’s we are.

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.

A few announcements …

The executive is tentatively meeting this Thursday to hear from the team that has been discerning plans to be able to re-open our building to safely gather. We will hear recommendations and the plan. The plan must be submitted to the East Central Ontario Regional Council two weeks prior to the planned re-opening. If you have thoughts please contact Brian Gowan and Carol Boyce who are heading up the re-opening team. Thank-you for your continued prayer.

Our tentative date to re-gather is Sept. 13. Watch for further information by email and Canada Post for those without email.

Olivia Phillips has ported our old website over to the new website. Christena-Lynn Erglis and Carol Embury have spent considerable time this summer developing the website on the Word Press platform. Greg Phillips will upload the final form to our new website coming very soon! We are so excited!

If you are already on PAR (pre-authorized remittance), THANK YOU! We encourage you to continue to make your financial offerings to the church. Bills and salaries still need to be paid. Offerings can be made by cheque, through PayPal or on the new website soon, by clicking the “Canada Helps” donation button on our website.  Please do what you can to continue to support our ongoing mission and ministry together. 

Sharon continues to work from home. Please let her know if you would like to connect – text, phone, email arrange a porch visit or come visit us in the gardens at our home.

Please continue to share the daily email messages “A Little Spiritual Care.”

Stay safe and stay well!

Love and Blessings,

Sharon


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