Dunsford United Church Worship Service Sept. 13, 2020

Our first in-person worship gathering since March 15 2020 with welcome and appreciation for everyone in whatever way you are worshipping with us. Be safe and be well.

Welcome to our community of faith family. Come share open hearts, open doors and open minds. Experience spiritual living built on belonging, believing, blessing. Not confined to our building, we are people who are everywhere, every day. We are free to be ourselves, included, accepted, welcomed and people who help each other.

Mission Statement: We are a diverse, intentional, inclusive, compassionate, hope-filled Christian family of faith, seeking to respect everyone’s individuality and dignity as Jesus modelled, creating safe space, to demonstrate the spirit of God’s love through worship, work, growth, and respect for all creation. We celebrate and value people of every age, health, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family configuration, background, ability, interest, culture, economic circumstance and faith journey. All are encouraged to be in full participation in the life and work of all ministries. We endeavor to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs in our community and beyond.       

We warmly welcome everyone and extend a special welcome to all guests today.

This morning thank-you to:

Greeters: Carolle Boyce and Mary Lou Lummiss

Candle Lighter: Cliff Ballantyne

Scripture Reader: Aryanna Haber

Media Technologists: Abigail Campbell, Teddy Haber and John Lummiss

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is no junior church. All children should remain in their family bubble at their seats. Please ensure your family has picked up their JAM pack (Jesus and Me backpack) JAM packs should remain at the church.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is no fellowship or refreshments times following worship. Please proceed outside immediately following worship as directed.

Bold print – Congregational response              

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are not currently permitted to have congregational speaking or singing. Thank-you for your understanding and patience.

* – rise in body or spirit (stand or remain sitting according to your comfort.)

To Ponder: How are you feeling today? Please provide feedback as we learn these new ways of being together and a part.

Creation comes from the Latin creare and creatio meaning “to create.”

The root of Creation Time is in the liturgical Ember Days. Ember is thought to come from the Old English ymbren, possibly an alteration for ymbryne “period,” from ymb “about” + ryne “course.” Another possibility is that the name is derived from the Latin quatuor tempora, meaning “four periods or times.” Ember may also come from the German Quatember, translated as “quarter day,” a day of asking God’s blessing on the new season.

Liturgical Colour: Orange

Orange is a warm colour, associated with enthusiasm, creativity, fruitfulness, endurance, and strength as well as with sunrise and sunset, fall and harvest, and the changing seasons, nature’s last burst of colour before winter. It is the red of passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom.

(Gathering Magazine, Lectionary Worship Creation Time, United Church of Canada)

* GATHERING MUSIC (Instrumental music by Brenda Shield)

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice.

Welcome and thank-you for joining us on this fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Creation Time 1, September 13, 2020. We are so excited to have some of us joining in-person gathering for worship. Our children are with us in the sanctuary throughout worship as we share this intergenerational service. 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.

MUSICAL PRELUDE and LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES

I invite Cliff to light our candles as Brenda plays for us. As we light this Christ candle, We invite Christ right where we are. May we experience Christ’s love and light filling every part of our being.

Come and see . . . hope alive, right here, right now.

God reminds us that we are all the same, and that forgiveness and grace are for everyone. As we light this candle for our community, We invite Christ’s love and light to be poured out on our neighbourhood and wider community,  filling all with new hope, healing and peace.

Come and see . .  as we give God thanks and praise.
We come to worship the God of life and love.

God invites all to the table of welcoming hospitality, nourishment, forgiveness and acceptance. As we light this candle for our world, all of creation,  We invite Christ’s love and light to be felt everywhere, may the power of peace bring healing in all the hurt of our world

For those at home, 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.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS:

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.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

We praise God to be able to gather in joy.  We are transformed by God’s grace. Now is a time of celebration, God is with us! Come experience God’s mighty presence!

OPENING PRAYER/ASSURANCE/WORDS OF HOPE

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. Breathe it in and release your breath into silence. Pause for a few minutes of silence.

Receive this Ministry of Music, in a time of quiet meditation and gratitude. Creation Calls by Brian Doerksen https://youtu.be/poEsLPsLCHQ

We continue in prayer…

In the beauty of this place, we come to pray, to worship, and to receive healing and hope. We come in the struggles and triumphs of this time, with all of the continuing confusion and fears of covid-19. We need to feel the soothing presence of God.

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Creation

When God first walked among the trees in the first garden, God called to the people from amongst the trees. “Where are you?” For they hid from God and so we pray:          O God who called to the people from the trees, call to us now. O God when we have forgotten to breathe deep and our hands are clenched, may your trees remind us to breathe. For those whose breathing is hard loosen lungs and chest and grant them ease in breathing.

Jesus Christ, you sat under the trees prayed under the trees, gathered with friends on hillsides and rested in the leafy shade. May you offer rest to those who need to rest and restore those who need strength and health. Holy Spirit, Holy Wisdom, Holy dove who perches on the branch of the tree of life, be our inspiration. Perch outside parliaments and governments outside the homes of leaders and offices of the powerful and whisper wisdom to them at this time. In the name of God the Creator, Christ the wanderer and Wisdom who plays in creation. Amen.

For the Young and Young At Heart:

We enjoy this video together: Amen. Praise the Lord. https://youtu.be/YEPMR0-T_5c

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.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

Today’s reading comes from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, verses 21 and 22. Aryanna is reading from the NRSV translation.

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

I am reading the same passage from the New International Version (NIV)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven 

Listen again this time from the New Living Translation.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Ministry of Music: Morning Has Broken (Cat Stevens)

Voice:
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Reader 1:
You’ve got to be kidding! Seventy-seven times? You’re nuts!

Voice:
That’s what He said.

Reader 1:
Listen! I’m no push-over. I’m willing to let bygones be bygones and all that other stuff, but I won’t be forgiving anyone seventy-seven times, I can tell you that!

Voice:
Then you aren’t really forgiving them, are you?

Reader 1:
Well, sure I am. But I won’t be a doormat. What difference will it make if I do forgive seventy-seven times or even more?

Voice:
Maybe then you will truly let go of the hurt and step out of the pain. That’s what forgiveness is all about, not just speaking the words, but actually letting go of the situation. It doesn’t mean that you will have to let the hurt happen to you over and over again; it means that you will lay it down. You will have learned something about yourself as well as the one who hurt you.

Reader 1:
You mean, I’m supposed to learn something from all of this?

Voice:
Absolutely. Do you think God retains God’s disappointment over you when you fail and fall short? God forgives, wipes the slate clean, gives another chance, time and time again. That’s what God wants us to do: to live lives of forgiving love.

Reader 1:
But it’s not that easy, you know.

Voice:
God is with you. You will always have help with this.

Reader 1:
You’re sure of that? Really sure?

Voice:
Without a doubt!

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts and meditations of all of our hearts be open and acceptable to you O God. May we offer forgiveness and share kindness and compassion, always seeking to be our best selves and to live in your way of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How can we be our best selves, especially if we are hurt, angry or mad because of the way we have been treated? Think of someone you are feeling a bit mad at, or a whole lot mad at? Think of ways you have been hurt by others. It is not nice. Think of times when you have ideas that you think it would be good to pay them back for hurting you. Sometimes we know when we have been hurt that we are right and the other person is wrong. Sometimes we feel we are entitled to stay mad because the hurt feels so big.  Perhaps someone has used   mean words, a harsh tone, or express cruel words of bullying in some way, or they maybe hurtful in other ways .

Jesus’ disciple Peter must have been wondering about this when he asked Jesus about how many times he should forgive someone who hurt him. In the time Jesus was living on earth, The common thinking in Jesus’ day was that you only had to forgive three times. Peter obviously thinks he is being very generous by saying he will forgive seven times when someone has hurt him. This is double the teaching plus one and seven is a special number in Hebrew teaching. We might think of seven days in a week, seven seas of creation, seven colours in the rainbow and in  a story in Matthew’s gospel seven loaves shared among the crowds with seven baskets of leftovers. (Matthew 15:32-37)

In thinking about how many times to forgive someone, you could remember one time a person hurt you, even two or three but after that well, you might think you don’t have to forgive any more. You gave them lots of chances. Can you imagine Peter thinking  how about seven times Jesus?  Maybe Peter had a pretty good memory and thought he could keep track and remember seven unkind things someone did.  Peter must have been very surprised when Jesus said a whole lot more. In some Bible translations it says Jesus said 77 times and in another 70 X 7. Did you notice the difference in the different translations we shared this morning.

Scholars, the people who study the Bible teach us that this is not an example of someone making a mistake in their writing but instead about the original language being that was in use in Jesus time. From the Hebrew the translation is 77 and from the Septuagint the Greek translation, it is 70X7 times. Now 77 and 490 are very different numbers, and scholars say it is not the math we should focus on but what Jesus is trying to teach Peter and us about forgiveness. We can’t keep track of 77 wrongs or 490. Jesus is saying we should not try to calculate. We shouldn’t be keeping track. That is not a healthy thing for our brains to focus on.

Another connection Bible teachers offer us comes from a story in Genesis 4. Lamech, a descendent of Caine, remember the brothers Caine and Abel, well generations later, there is still anger and resentment. Instead of trying to forgive, to show love, kindness and compassion, all the generations are still angry, still trying to take revenge and be mean on purpose. In fact Lamech is showing off and boasting, proud of his bullying and meanness. in Genesis 4:24 “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold. Lamech says that he is avenged more than Cain. It was like there was a family feud that just kept on going and they were acting like it was a contest to see who could keep being mean and hurtful.

Jesus turns the statement of revenge around and says that is the number of times we must forgive. Jesus is saying to His disciples and to us, we  should forgive as many times as it takes.

Richard Rohr writes: Our best self wants to restore relationships, and not just blame or punish. This is the “economy of grace”… Restorative justice is a justice that seeks not to punish, but to heal. Fania E. Davis  and an operative idea of restorative justice.” (quoted by Richard Rohr. Sept. 12, 2020) Daily Meditation: Restorative Justice. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Center for Christian Studies)

We need to figure out how to be our best selves. In the next part of this story in the Bible, that follows, that we did not read, Jesus tries to help the disciples understand by sharing about a man who owed the king a lot of money. The king gave the man another chance after the man pleaded with the king. The king showed him compassion and forgiveness, and let him go. When the man was leaving, really glad to be free and having this second chance, he came across another person who actually owed him a little bit of money. This is where the guy blew it big time. He got angry at the man who could not pay him back the small amount of money. It is like the guy completely forgot how nice the king had been. Instead of showing compassion he threw the man who owed him a little money in jail. When the king found out how mean the man had been and did not show forgiveness, he was very angry.

Whether the problem is big or little, we should try to forgive and God will help us when it is hard. In a resource called Boundaries, the author uses an image about people taking responsibility for their actions and when we sometimes need help. He said to imagine that we all have a load to carry, things we are responsible for doing. Sometimes though our troubles are really big. He said to imagine it like a backpack, our regular responsibilities, attitudes, behaviours, we are supposed to carry reasonable load, but if we are dealing with  boulders, we cannot carry these big burdens on our own. That’s when we turn to others for help and keep seeking God’s grace and mercy. Sometimes things are difficult. We do not want to feel alone.

We want to try to walk the journey of being kind to be our best self. Diana Butler Bass wrote on Friday:

There is a growing scientific consensus that kindness toward others is an important part of well-being and life satisfaction. Kindness lends stability to marriages. It increases our sense of generosity. Acting kindly makes one happier. Kindness improves heart health and positive emotions. Being nice to other people  makes you nicer! The empathy and compassion that spark kindness are necessary to imagining justice and developing courage. (Diana Butler Bass (Sept. 11, 2020). The Cottage: Try a Little Kindness email.)

We are all trying to live in a good way but we hurt people we love sometimes and they also hurt us sometimes. Jesus says don’t keep being mad, don’t keep count, but try to figure out how you can forgive and show love.  Love, mercy compassion all comes down to loving one another the way God loves us and treating others the way we want to be treated.

We don’t want to take revenge, even when it feels like a good idea in our mind.We do not want to create any divides of us and them. To tear people down will not help. We want to accept people where they are. Sometimes it means taking a deep breath, counting to ten, taking a time out, a cool down time, going, taking time to pray and get calmer. Is there a way to respond in love? Too often we judge others and we might feel judged. When in an disagreement, we might want to say mean things, do mean things but it never helps if we try to make ourselves bigger by making someone else smaller. It is  not about being entitled or being right. It is about love and space for understanding, kindness and compassion. Be aware this week of attitudes, tone, words you use and others use with you. If we can step back from judging it and bring curiosity, a wondering, observation to what is happening, we can begin to discover some new possibilities of how to approach forgiving in love. We create space to be our best selves, living God’s way of love 70X7, incalculable love, forgiving and loving whatever it takes! Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Loving God, help us walk the way of love, to be our best selves, to show forgiveness, kindness and compassion.

We thank-you God for all who have come here today, for those at home and in other places, reminding us that our family of faith is everywhere. Keep all safe and well. Help us all make good choices in our words, our actions, our behaviours.

When it is not easy, help us share our burdens with people we trust and help us to try to understand and not judge others.

We pray for all those dealing with physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual difficulties, their care providers, those at home, in nursing homes and in hospital who are facing illness, bereavement and other life challenges.

Lord, we pray for all who are lonely, afraid, living in difficult situations. We lift these cares and concerns to you.

We lift our joys, gratitude and thanks to you. We offer thanks and gratitude.

Gracious God, Father and Mother of us all, you are our water of life, sustaining and filling us with renewal and hope. You are our sanctuary that gives us strength in all the times and seasons of our lives.

We give ourselves and these our gifts that we have to share, offered here, through PAR and in all the ways you use us, bless us and them, so that others may share in the presence of your love and light, here and throughout the world.

We pray  together:

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! Amen.

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

Enjoy this hymn as we go forth: This Little Light of Mine

Performed live in Dublin, by Bruce Springsteen and the Sessions Band

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

May our feet tread the road of peace. May our arms share the hand of peace. May our voice bring a word of peace. May this life breathe God’s peace. Shalom, wherever we may go.

Adapted from a prayer by John Birch, faithandworship.com)

CHORAL RESPONSE  Instrumental gift of music  by Brenda

Go Now In Peace

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.

Please remember in your prayers those dealing with physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual difficulties, their care providers, those at home, in nursing homes and in hospital who are facing illness, bereavement and other life challenges.

Please let us know if someone is ill, in hospital or going through a challenging time.

PAR is a direct debit program through an automatic monthly withdrawal from your bank account. It is a convenient way to provide consistent, year-round financial support to our church. Completed forms may be sealed in an envelope, attention: Kathy Prentice, and placed on the offering plate.

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!

Sabbath Blessings,

Sharon

POSTLUDE

Resources:

Prayer for Creation 1

by Maggie Watts Hammond, Prayer for First Sunday in Creation. BAM: UCCAN on Facebook.

Audrey West. Sept. 13, 2020) Commentary 2020 for Matthew 18:21-35. Working Preacher. Retrieved from https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4570

Matthew Skinner, Rolf Jacobsen, Karoline Lewis. (Sept. 13 2020) Pentecost 15 Year A 2020 Podcast.

Biblical Hermeneutics. Retrieved from https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2443/why-is-there-numerical-ambiguity-in-matthew-1821-22

Stanley Saunders. (Sept. 17, 2017). Commentary for Matthew 18:21-35. Working Preacher. Retrieved from https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4570

John Townsend, Henry Cloud.(2017 (original 1992). Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life. Zondervan. Page 62.

Note: in Greek burdens mean excess burdens, so heavy that are weighed down; crises, tragedy overwhelm not supposed to carry on own; in Greek, load means cargo, burden of daily toll, that which we are supposed to manage ourselves and take responsibility for. 

Robert Root (Sept. 13, 2020) Bridgenorth Covenanting VIMEO. UCCAN.

Diana Butler Bass. Sept. 11, 2020). The Cottage: Try A Little Kindness email.

Reading based on Gospel (Reader 1/Voice)

By Nancy C Townley, Worship Connection Pentecost 15 Year A from September 17, 2017.

(Sharon is reader 1 and Cliff is Voice)

Commissioning and Blessing adapted from a prayer by John Birch, faithandworship.com


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