DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH November 15, 2020 – Worship Service

Welcome to our community of faith family.

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.         

* GATHERING MUSIC: Solo by Brenda “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You” VU #232 verse

Joyful, joyful we adore you, God of glory, life and love; hearts unfold like flowers before you, opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the gloom of doubt away; giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice. My name is Sharon Ballantyne and I am the minister at Dunsford United Church. We are an affirming ministry of the United Church of Canada. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there is room for all. We warmly welcome everyone and thank-you for joining us wherever you are on this twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, known as Children’s Sunday in our church calendar. Let us come to worship filled with the awe and wonder of a child, as we are all children of God. 

The United Church of Canada identifies children’s Sunday as an opportunity to lift up the needs and celebrate the gifts of young people in their own communities and around the world. It is celebrated annually across the church on the Sunday closest to November 20.

If you have a candle, I invite you to light it now or just hold the light of Christ in your heart.

I invite Brenda to play as Cliff lights our candles.

MUSICAL PRELUDE and LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES

We light the Christ candle inviting us to come like a child, with awe and wonder, as God’s peace and joy fills our hearts

We light the candle for our community, for all of our neighbours, inviting us to take risks in trusting God and extend ourselves to help others, to build up and encourage one another, offering kindness, generosity  and compassion in all we do. We light the candle for our world, for all of creation, compelling us with urgency to make a difference, to advocate for justice, peace and hope everywhere.

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 we are 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, reconciliation and right relations.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

We are called to gather in worship, during this pandemic, virtually, from the safety of wherever we are viewing. Inside our homes, outside in creation, may we experience sacredness and sanctuary.

We come, all children of God, to celebrate children – being a child, remembering being a child, and thinking about children all over the world! Children of God, let us prayerfully and playfully worship together.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: Solo by Brenda “My Love Colours Outside the Lines” MV #138

I invite Brenda to keep playing quietly.

OPENING PRAYER/ASSURANCE/WORDS OF HOPE

I invite you to pray in whatever way you find meaningful to open yourself to the Creator’s presence, to experience a sense of Oneness, receiving God’s message to you with the awe and wonder of a child. As we open ourselves, mind, body and spirit, we breathe together, breathing in God’s love, peace and calm and as we exhale our breath, we release stress, tension and anxiety.

We breathe it in together and let it out into silence.

A few moments of silence.

God you are our friend, our comfort, and our strength. Even when we make poor choices, your Spirit invites us to remember that you love us always, you forgive us and give us new hope. Give us courage! Help us not to be afraid but to take risks and to be transformed in love.

Awaken us to live in ways that we love ourselves and each other and open our hearts to wonder, surprise and joy! Help us to trust in you and feel you with us today as we worship. Let your love help us colour outside the lines! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART:

Remember Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham:

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.

Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.”

Today in our Bible story, Jesus is inviting the children to come to him. The disciples get upset about this and Jesus gets indignant, meaning he is pretty mad. Let’s hold in our hearts a time when someone did not treat us as a friend, did not welcome us, or show compassion when we were trying our best. We try to offer forgiveness. We all need to remember God loves us, accepts, and welcomes us all the time. For times when we have not been a good friend, we ask for forgiveness.

Let’s remember a time when we did experience someone believing in us, giving us a chance, letting us try new things, being a friend and give thanks for people who are kind. Let’s give thanks for all the ways we can try to be a good friend.

I am going to ask Brenda to sing and play the first verse of Jesus Loves Me.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: Solo by Brenda “Jesus Loves Me” VU #365 verse 1

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to him belong, in his love we shall be strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

Today’s scripture reading comes from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verses 13-16, reading from the New International Version.

The Little Children and Jesus

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.(B) 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”(C) 16 And he took the children in his arms,(D) placed his hands on them and blessed them.

MESSAGE:  Rev. Dr. Sharon Ballantyne

Come as Little Children: Dare the Holy Risk of Friendship!

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts and meditations of all of our hearts bring you praise and help us receive as little children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

It is so easy with so much happening to focus on fear. We are called to joy.

In 1 Timothy 4:12 Contemporary English Version (CEV) we read “Don’t let anyone make fun of you, just because you are young. Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity.”

I would like to share from theologian, scholar and activist Diana Butler Bass, who shared a couple of weeks ago this sneak peak from her upcoming book, “Freeing Jesus”, which will release March 30, 2021. She called this “The Holy Risk of Friendship.” How does that term resonate for you? Do you have any friendships that you might describe as having taken a holy risk of friendship?

From Freeing Jesus, Chapter 1:

In August 2019, at the beginning of the school year in the United States, a photo showing two little boys holding hands went viral. Connor, an autistic boy entering the second grade, was going to school alone for the first time. Although the bus trip went well, when he arrived at the school, he froze with fear and started to cry; he hid in a corner, unable to walk into the building. Christian, another boy, saw Connor and went to comfort him. Then he took Connor by the hand and led him inside the building. “He found me and held my hand, and I got happy tears,” Connor later told a reporter when asked about Christian. “He was kind to me. I was in the first day of school, and I started crying. Then he helped me, and I was happy.” Connor’s mother said, “Christian is Conner’s first real friend.” And Christian’s mother explained, “They have an inseparable bond.”

Like millions of others who saw the photograph and read this story, I was unable to hold back small tears of joy. I also laughed—because who would believe it without a picture? A white boy named Connor huddled in a corner, a black boy named Christian—Christian! —reaching out to help him. It was an updated American parable, a rewrite of A Pilgrim’s Progress for an age of racial anxiety and political division. As I looked at the photograph, it seemed an icon for these days, a Jesus tenderly leading a frightened boy toward a new world. “This is my commandment,” said Jesus, “that you love one another as I have loved you.…You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12–14).

I am not sure if I ever knew what to make of those words of Jesus: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” It all sounded so conditional. What kind of friendship was that? The story of Connor and Christian clarified it, though. Friendship is contingent on love—real love: compassion, empathy, reaching out, going beyond what we imagine is possible. That is the command: love. And if we reach out in love, friendship is the result, even friendship with God. Friendship is mutual, a hand extended and another reaching back.

When I think of friendship with Jesus, I imagine that hand extended. It happens in different ways, of course. Sometimes, the hand is part of an ancient story, the hand of Jesus outstretched to embrace little children or to invite us to follow him. But more often it is the hand of another person. When I feel afraid, huddled in a corner, unable to move forward, it is the hand that reaches out to comfort me, remind me that I am not alone, or guide me toward the next step on my journey. St. Teresa of Ávila once said, “God has no hands but yours.…Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.” Sometimes, I am the one who needs the hand; at other times, mine is the hand that reaches. Friendship is an eternal circle, the ceaseless reaching toward one another that strengthens us and gives us joy.

Diana Butler Bass continues:

“I do not call you servants,” Jesus said, “but I have called you friends.” Astonishing. Imagine how Jesus’s close followers felt when they heard those words for the first time. Of course, he was their friend. They had been through so much together, years of wandering homeless in Israel, learning from, and teaching each other, sharing meals and prayers. They had come to suspect their companion was something more than a regular friend—a great rabbi, a spiritual healer, a mystical prophet, the Son of God. That last made no intellectual or doctrinal sense to them. They were Jews, and there was only one God. Yet this friend of theirs knew and loved God more intimately and more uniquely than they had ever imagined possible. 

Jesus brought them to the very heart of God and then revealed that God’s heart longed for friendship. They had heard this story before—Abraham, Moses, and Miriam were friends of God, as were the prophets and seers of ancient times and the great heroes of Israel like Ruth and Naomi, Esther, and David and Jonathan. They were more than servants to God. God was their friend; and they were friends of God. Servanthood, although admirable, is the lesser thing. Friendship, the knowing, loving, and free and joyful giving to another, is the passionate desire of God. 

And now Jesus is saying, “I have called you friends,” not just to special people of the past whose names were recorded in sacred memory, but to the ragged fishermen and curious women, sitting around him listening to his tales, trusting for the first time that the God of Israel had not forgotten them, souls broken under the weight of Roman oppression, suffering under imperial slavery. They were not slaves, not even servants. They were friends of Jesus, friends of God.

In that world, Caesar was a god. Everyone feared him. He had no friends. The Egyptians and Persians had gods. None were friends. They were to be satisfied; their wrath appeased. There were gods aplenty, all awaiting your servile sacrifices and terrified loyalty, cold and isolated and distant in their marble and gold temples. The gods demanded so much of you, craving blood to prove obedience, even your own if and when the whim suggested itself.

Jesus calls us friends. God reaches toward us, not as a fearsome master or judge, but a friend, beckoning us to reach back. Memories of Eden flood the heart, that ancient longing for friendship with God. The exile is ended, the embrace endures. Once, we were created by that hand that reached to dust and rib; now that same hand joins ours again and again, the clasp of the unfailing friend.”

In this time of COVID-19, we are challenged to find ways to hold hands that do not involve physical touch. For those in our bubble with whom we can “hold a hand, or paw” we are especially grateful. We ask ourselves what it means for us to be welcomed as little children and to extend that welcome to others. How will you demonstrate the holy risk of friendship in your faithful commitments? In joy and thanksgiving, Amen. 

(Diana Butler Bass. October 27, 2020. From the Cottage: The Holy Risk of Friendship. Book excerpt from “Freeing Jesus. Chapter 1. Due to release March 30, 2021).

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE: (Brenda quietly playing during these prayers)

Loving God we see many aspects of ourselves when we dare to take time to look. We discern the many complicated parts of our lives. Thank-you that you accept us as we are. Help us to really feel your love for us. Help us to feel the touch of your Spirit in us. Awaken us and open our eyes to receive others with care and compassion, daring to risk courage and risk our own vulnerability to serve you. Give us words to speak. May we speak and act in ways that honour you and reflect our thanks and gratitude. In our very breathing, help us experience you more deeply.

We think of all those who face alienation and rejection, who don’t have a voice, are challenged because of their identity, ability, gender, culture, race, socio-economic status or any form of barrier. Help us to live as your children to see each other with the love you have for each of us and to treat each other in kindness, and compassion. Stir us to do something and respond to needs!

Empower us to respond to challenges, choices, needs you place on our hearts and to be grateful.

We lift up joys and concerns, as we name them in our hearts….

Grant us laughter and joy, wisdom and wonder. We give thanks for this day, as we say 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

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: Solo by Brenda “Let Us Build A House (All Are Welcome)” MV #1

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:

All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING:

Go now in peace! We are empowered! We are strengthened! We are God’s precious children. Go out to serve!

Take courage, risk and be vulnerable in serving God.  May God keep transforming each of us. All are welcome!

Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be ours this day and forever more. Amen.

CHORAL RESPONSE: “You Shall Go Out with Joy” VU #884

You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth before you; there’ll be shouts of joy, and all the trees of the field will clap, will clap their hands! And all the trees of the field will clap their hands, (clap, clap)

the trees of the field will clap their hands, (clap, clap) the trees of the field will clap their hands (clap, clap) while you go out with joy.

POSTLUDE

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

A reminder to join us by Zoom Sunday morning November 15, 22 and 29 for more music ministry, prayer, reflection and discussion of each week’s scripture and reflections. Come join the fun! See the Zoom invite at the top of each Wednesday’s newsletter.

Don’t forget about the outreach for white gift Sunday December 6. Read more in the newsletter.

Christmas Eve will be an outdoor service. Join us at the manger as we gather at the stable beside the church building.

Please remember in your prayersthose 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

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, or on the new website 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

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5 and by appointment 705-793-2511 dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca   www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

Minister: Rev. Dr. Sharon Ballantyne 705-875-8837    

Email: Sharon.ballantyne@gmail.com

Music Director: Brenda Shield 1-705-748-9875 or bshield@cogeco.ca

Junior Choir Director and Church Bookings: CL Erglis (call/text) 705-879-0303

Envelope Steward: Kathy Prentice 705-324-4753

http://dunsfordunitedchurch.com   Visit our website. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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