Dunsford United Church Worship Service August 30, 2020

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice.

Welcome and thank-you for joining us on this thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost August 30, 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 share 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, reflect on these words: 

She Comes Sailing On the Wind” Voices United 380

Refrain:

She comes sailing on the wind, her wings flashing in the sun; on a journey just begun, she flies on.

And in the passage of her flight, her song rings out through the night, full of laughter, full of light, she flies on.

Silent waters rocking on the morning of our birth, like an empty cradle waiting to be filled.

And from the heart of God the Spirit moved upon the earth, like a mother breathing life into her child.

Many were the dreamers whose eyes were given sight when the Spirit filled their dreams with life and form.

Deserts turned to gardens, broken hearts found new delight, and then down the ages still she flew on.  (refrain)

To a gentle girl in Galilee, a gentle breeze she came, a whisper softly calling in the dark,

the promise of a child of peace whose reign would never end, Mary sang the Spirit song within her heart.  

Flying to the river, she waited circling high above the child now grown so full of grace.

As he rose up from the water, she swept down from the sky, and she carried him away in her embrace.  (refrain)

Long after the deep darkness that fell upon the world, after dawn returned in flame of rising sun,

the Spirit touched the earth again, again her wings unfurled, bringing life in wind and fire as she flew on.  (refrain)

As we gather wherever we are, we ponder, how will we be our authentic selves? How are we being called? How will we live our life and reflect our understanding of our purpose? We bring our holy and humble curiosity, openness and hearts of prayer.

Call to Worship

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and Moses did not think God could want him.

God surprised Moses.  God surprises us, inviting us to new opportunities. We will try not to be afraid.  We will trust God.  We will pray.  We will listen. We are  thankful.

Sing pray and reflect on this hymn refrain:

Come and find the quiet centre in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter,

find the frame where we are freed: clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes,

that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.

Let love guide your path, for love is the holiest path of all.  You are beloved and blessed by God to be a blessing to others. Rejoice!

Prayer:

Loving God, the great I Am, you call us by name, you invite us to listen and receive you. Open our hearts, bodies and minds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Exodus 3:1-15

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.

May these words speak to our hearts today.

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

Worship the Lord, worship the Lord,praise the Creator, the Spirit, the Son,

raising our hands, raising our hands in devotion to God who is one!

Meditation:

God is calling? Are we listening? How does this familiar story resonate?…  Can you imagine Moses noticing this burning bush, compelled, caught in fear and wonder?  What fears or questioning are you experiencing? Have you been asking God why me? Pick someone else! I am afraid! I am not worthy! I don’t want to … These are real feelings and especially compounded by the pandemic. Yet we don’t go it alone!  What wonder and joy are you experiencing? Keep sharing! God keeps calling and using us, broken and beautiful.

God takes an inarticulate, excuse-riddled murderer and turns him into one of the greatest leaders of the Hebrew people.

God promised to be with Moses. We are witness to the fulfillment of that promise. From generation to generation, the God of Israel is with us. The God of the burning bush is waiting even now to encounter us, again and again,  call us, challenge us, and change us.

As Moses encounters God, God tells Moses to take off his shoes. Elsewhere, in the Book of Joshua (5:15), the mysterious commander of the army of God tells Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” In the Book of Ruth (4:7), there is a scene in which a shoe is taken off to seal a marriage deal between Boaz and Ruth’s next-of-kin.

“Moses finds himself in a presence that is unfathomably sacred, a presence that invites him to be at home at the same time that it claims his profound respect.” Moses, who “has felt himself ‘an alien residing in a foreign land’ (2:22) now finds himself a guest of God.” Scholar J. Gerald Janzen indicates to remove shoes in that time,  is a sign of hospitality. Janzen observes, “Footwear protects us from the ground, and it renders us insensitive to what our soles (and our souls!) might feel there.” Perhaps God wanted to make Moses comfortable enough that he would listen and take the message to heart.

I never thought very much about shoe etiquette of times to have shoes on and off until living in Japan.

Every time we entered our room, many buildings, a museum, a shrine or temple, we took our shoes off. In homes, different slippers get changed depending on the room you enter. Cleanliness yes, but also better able to relax and be yourself. In many spiritual traditions, footwear is removed to enter sacred space.

Does God tell Moses to take his shoes off because he wants Moses to be himself? To remove all pretense? To be vulnerable and open to what God has to say?

In Exodus 3, Moses doesn’t sound or act like a reverential or awestruck man, even when he takes his shoes off. God lays out a plan for Moses: “Moses, I’ve seen my people and how miserable they are down in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry at the hands of their taskmasters. I know how much they are suffering, and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to do something about it. I want to get them out of Egypt and bring them into a much better land, a land that I promised their ancestors. So here’s the deal, I’m going to send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Instead of bowing in awe and humility, as a shoeless man before the deity ought to do, and saying, “Yes, with your help, I will,” Moses says, “Hey, wait a minute. I’m not ready to sign on.” He then goes on to provide a list of reasons why he is not the right man for the job. Moses sounds more like a regular person, a real person, a little too much like me, and maybe you too.

Are there any situations where you find it hard to be vulnerable, to go with your shoes off, to allow yourself to be the real deal, trusting you are enough, that God is using you with all your flaws and foibles.

God lays out the single largest rescue operation in the entire Bible. God could have done it alone or God could have chosen anyone on earth for the job. But God specifically selected Moses, expecting Moses to be Moses, to be himself, rather than pretending to be someone else?

Maybe we can also hear God’s voice, to Moses and to each of us, more like this: “Moses, take your shoes off! I need you, not Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, not someone with an MBA or medal of honor. Let’s talk, you and me, honestly, about this plan.”

And so Moses, being truly himself, said, “But God…are you sure this is a good idea?” God responded, inviting Moses, and us, to keep listening and trusting God, exploring how God is calling us.

Proverbs 3:5 (The Message) reminds us: Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

The birds boldly singing their song early in the morning. The laughter of children playing in the street. Music in the background as you work away. The cicadas whining in the heat. The voice of someone who cares and calls. The tears of a friend going through a tough time. The silence in your house. The beating of your heart…

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do. God’s voice is in the moments when you  move beyond what may be simple, ordinary, regular everyday, for the sake of another person, a cause or situation, you find yourself speaking up, speaking out, quietly doing more than your share, advocating for another, doing something extra, the random acts of kindness and all those moments when you push beyond tiredness, other commitments and just do what is in your heart, the right thing to do; what God calls you to do; shoes off, being real! Being you!

I have my shoes off! Amen!

Prayer:

In the power of the burning bush, in the quiet stillness, in the everyday noises of living, precious God, you call to each one of us, telling us to trust in the gifts you  have given us. We are just like Moses. We tell you that you have made a mistake; to pick someone else but you invite each of us to do more than we think we can. You invite us to be ourselves. You are a God of surprises. Remind us that you are the great I am, and your love energizes us to try new things. Fill us with the passion, the conviction, the strength to help others, to make a difference as we continue to find our way through this pandemic. Help us find people to talk with and share. help us feel your love and trust your call.

We lift up all those in need, in fear, in illness, in grief, in places of waiting and uncertainty. Receive the concerns of our hearts …

We lift up our praises of deep gratitude, blessings as we pray for hope, renewal, resilience. Receive the joys of our hearts …

In whatever direction we turn, you are there, be our healing wisdom that confronts us, challenges us, calls us and gives us purpose. Love us into being the people you have created us to be as Jesus taught us, we pray:

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.

In peace, we love, we serve, we are called and we listen. May God use us and may we be true to ourselves and extend the gift of love, as God uses us to make a difference. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Sing, Pray and Reflect on this hymn as we go forth:

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 He 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 deep within your heart*. Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

*( deep within your heart replaces original text “watching from above” as a more inclusive adaptation, not having God watching or at a distance)

A Few Announcements …

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.”

Your submissions of material for the spiritual care messages are always welcome.

The re-opening team has submitted a plan to the East Central Ontario Regional Council following the meeting by Zoom with our Dunsford Executive Board August 27, 2020.

Please continue to hold Ruth Gray in prayer on her cancer journey. We lift up Archdeacon Bill Gray, their family and all the people of St. John’s Anglican Church Dunsford and their sister churches, as all provide prayers, support and care for the Grays through this challenging time.

If you are already on PAR (pre-authorized remittance), THANK YOU! We encourage you to continue to make your financial offerings to the church. 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. 

Stay safe and stay well!

Love and Blessings,

Sharon


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