Dunsford United Church Bulletin – Transcript – March 14, 2021

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Kevin Fitzpatrick -Liturgy


WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

In the name of a message of love and compassion in the world we know as Jesus Christ, we are guided by the Holy Spirit. God leads us here.

Wherever you are, God is with you, God is with me and God is in creation in all forms, everything good. God is where God needs to be.

We come and celebrate together, our milestones, our successes, anniversaries, birthdays, and God celebrates with us!

LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES

If you have a candle, I invite you to light it, or hold the light of God in your heart, knowing, that the light of God, burns brightly inside of you and glows and shines on those around you, when you are the hands and feet of God in the world.

We come today, knowing our Light has come, we light the Christ Candle, representing Christ in our lives, and that light that shines in our community. We take that light into our community and carry that light and do Gods work here as the light and the hands of God. And we carry our light out into the world, looking for other messages of love and light in the world, our neighbours, and the light shines brighter, to mend the world.

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.

OPENING PRAYER

Everlasting love,

Infinite compassion,

Full of grace and mercy,

You loved the world into being

Your love was word made flesh

And in love

You birthed yourself among us

Love begotten

The Beloved!

Open to your love

We live eternal beyond our earthly lives

Joined to the everlasting wholeness in You

In Love we are united in your presence

Love does not separate, but connects

Love does not divide, it embraces

Love does not condemn, it saves!

In trust, in hope, in grace, in mercy,

We know we are loved, never abandoned.

Through your love, we live, as You created all,

Your love, is the source of life.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

Psalm 107:1-3; 17-22 – Living Bible Translation

107 Say thank you to the Lord for being so good, for always being so loving and kind. 2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.

3 He brought the exiles back from the farthest corners of the earth.it. 

17 Others, the fools, were ill because of their sinful ways. 18 Their appetites were gone, and death was near. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he helped them and delivered them. 20 He spoke, and they were healed—snatched from the door of death. 21 Oh, that these men would praise the Lord for his loving-kindness and for all of his wonderful deeds! 22 Let them tell him thank you as their sacrifice and sing about his glorious deeds.

John 3:14-21 – Living Bible Translation

14 And as Moses in the wilderness lifted up the bronze image of a serpent on a pole, even so I must be lifted up upon a pole, 15 so that anyone who believes in me will have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son[a] so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

18 “There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God. 19 Their sentence is based on this fact: that the Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 They hated the heavenly Light because they wanted to sin in the darkness. They stayed away from that Light for fear their sins would be exposed and they would be punished. 21 But those doing right come gladly to the Light to let everyone see that they are doing what God wants them to.”

PRAYER OF APPROACH:

Gracious and Compassionate God,

As we journey through our time of Lent

Our time in deserts and low places

Our time on the mountains and high places

We continue to seek you.

We need you more than ever

in our busyness

our loneliness

our sadness

our depression

our anger

our happiness

our joy

our excitement

We need

your presence

your compassion

your grace

your comfort

your renewal

your healing

your peace

your joy

your love

your salvation

Lord we are

reminded that

all this is embodied

in your son Jesus

in his life

his death

and his resurrection

and that all

this was freely given

that we may have

abundant life

eternal life

fullness of life

freed lives

loved lives

loving lives

grace giving lives

Come Lord

pour your mercy and grace and love and salvation over us

And for these gifts from you we are grateful. Amen.

— written by Rev. Abi and posted on Rev. Abi’s Long and Winding Road blog.

Questions for Reflection

How do we see healing in our lives devoted to Christ?

What ways do you see God’s Love as healing in your daily life, or your faith journey?

Reflection:  Called to Love what God Loves and to Heal

This week, I have heard too many times that this world is broken.

I have heard that the world is a hateful, evil place.

I have been asked “If God is such a loving God, why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?”

In my Chaplaincy position, I see suffering and pain, I see brokenness, fear and anxiety, uncertainty can be disparaging, and damaging.

My role, is to try and provide hope, to promote coping, and sometimes to heal the Spirit.

It doesn’t mean that I can end the suffering, or end the pain, and healing, unfortunately, that is beyond my capabilities.

At least physical healing.

And sometimes, medical professionals cannot always promote physical healing, coping is maybe the best that can be accomplished.

The scriptures talk about ‘healing’ and God’s love for the world, and being raised from the dead by Christ’s sacrifice for us.

It was God’s love for the world, that God became part of the creation in Christ, that love was for us to believe and to be part of that love.

In the lectionary magazine The Gathering, is published by the United Church of Canada, leaders of worship who subscribe to this resource, look for scripture readings, interpretation of the scripture and sparks to sermon writing, hymn suggestions can be found as well. All written and inspired by other leaders of worship, through their  exegesis (interpretation) of scripture, and God’s revelation to them in their life experiences.

The Gathering is like a map, to point us in the Spiritual direction of the service preparation. It gives us a picture of what the theme may look like, but we have to make that journey on our own, spending much time in reflection and interpreting the scripture as it pertains to our lives.

We look for God to speak to us through that scripture and to see how God spoke to the individual who prepared the resources in The Gathering, and how God is speaking to us in our lives for all those pieces to come together, for God to speak to others through us to be the messengers to God’s people.

It is in this convoluted process of creating worship to God, and crafting a sermon that is one part experience, one part discernment of scripture and five parts Holy Spirit, and many hours of preparation, and that those who feel the calling to be God’s messengers, hope is conveyed.

This hope will promote some healing in the best scenarios, and coping in the rest of life’s hardships – in everything –  joys, hardships, struggles, triumphs, pain and suffering…. God is there.

This week, we have the most used piece of scripture ever used to promote God’s purpose, at least for Christians.

How many of us have seen people holding signs with just the word and numbers ‘John 3:16’ as a beacon of hope  for all who understand or seek to find out what that means.

And so this week should be easy to write a sermon on, just quoting the words should be the sermon itself.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

In The Gathering this week came a small disclaimer below all the thought provoking sparks, all the sermon ideas, all the hymn suggestions.

And this is what it said:

The Gospel of John has been used through the centuries to stir up antisemitism, especially with its declaration about “the Jews” in relation to Jesus’ death. While hostile references may reflect the historical context of the gospel, they are contrary to the actual gospel message of loving neighbours and enemies. Remember, Jesus and all of the disciples were Jewish. In our current context, these hostile references are unnecessarily divisive.

 The author is correct, John speaks harshly against the Jewish authorities who persecuted Jesus and were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, but we must remember Jesus was Jewish, his disciples were Jewish and Jesus forgave those who had him nailed to cross, Jesus forgave them as he hung from the cross.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbours, so how are we to interpret this passage?

How do we promote healing from this passage?

How do we include all in God’s love?

We must understand the actions of God’s love, God loved the world to create everything in it. God came to the world in Jesus to understand us and the creation, to be part of that creation, to experience what it meant to live in that creation, to love it more!

We who follow Christ understand the words written in all the scriptures and not just the words that are found in one passage ‘John 3:16’

We have Jesus’ words of the greatest commandment that remind us of our duty as followers.

Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ 38-39 This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ 40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”

Matthew 22: 37-40

So how does this lead to healing?

I can tell you that no piece of scripture has ever helped in promoting healing by itself. At least in my experience.

John points to the bronze serpent on a staff, that Moses held up as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness to heal them when they were bitten by poisonous snakes, and they just had to look at the bronze snake and be healed.

There is no coincidence that the medical symbol to represent doctors and their healing abilities is a staff with wings and two snakes wrapped around it called the caduceus.

There are times when physical healing is just not a possibility, that medical knowledge will not promote recovery.

Healing comes in the form of love, understanding, coping with all life’s joys and tragedies and looking beyond life for hope and in this we find healing.

 John Dominic Crossan, an Irish American New Testament Scholar, was interviewed by Broadview Magazine (March 2020) and Crossan looks at Jesus and how he expresses himself as a healer not as simply curing the diseases of the people he heals, it is not about curing the disease, what Jesus actually does is bring them into a new community, one of love and support.

Jesus takes in people who may see themselves as a burden or an embarrassment, and takes them in, not as a liability or a shame, they actually feel they belong, with Jesus it is all about belonging, and in that belonging, Jesus helps them cope and they are healed in a spiritual sense, and in that they are cured.

When we are loved and supported when we belong in a community, we are healed, our Spirit is healed, let me get that correct. And even though our physical condition may not change, we may be at ease and at peace to face the struggles, knowing we put our hope in God’s love to carry us through any adversity.

The psalmist describes God rescuing those who have gone astray, and bringing them back from the brink of death. In some translations, it describes those who do not follow in God’s love are ‘sick’ or ‘foolish.’

Sometimes ‘sick’ can mean that we can feel shame, guilt, we harbour ill feelings toward others, we may feel fear, and these things can separate us from God’s love. These fears and shame or guilt may make us feel ‘foolish’ but even so, we are Loved by God, and sometimes we need the help of others to see this, and help us turn back towards God’s love.

We as healers, God’s people, know the Love that God has for us, and we know God’s kindness to us, and it is here we can support others, loving them, helping them cope by bringing them into community, all who we live among in this world that God created out of Love.

We are the healers as Jesus teaches us in the ‘love thy neighbour’ statement, to love our neighbours is to do so in acceptance of who they are, as they are, and in acceptance of all they are,  and we welcome them into our community.

As Jesus’ followers, when we include our neighbours, we include them in God’s love, our love surrounds them, we can share our stories with them and they share their stories with us, and we learn to love each other.

Jesus also teaches us to ‘love our enemies’ and this can be the hardest thing we ever have to do, but if we can forgive those who have harmed us, we let go of the bitterness, anger, judgement, and allow peace in our lives, we allow healing to happen.

Remember forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to develop or patch a relationship, it is about letting go of the hardness in our hearts, that causes pain and suffering, allowing peace and comfort in God’s love to take its place.

We may never speak again to those who caused that pain and suffering in our lives, but we can have healing in letting go of that pain and suffering through God’s love, to live in forgiveness.

Healing is inclusion of all in our community, a place to belong, to be part of God’s love, to be loved and to love, and inspire hope.

We may think our world is broken, but as messengers of hope in the world, we start to heal this world through love.

We are messengers of healing, to ease pain and suffering, helping others cope, supporting them in community so that they may live in hope, and live in love.

We are called as followers of Christ to Love what God Loves, and all that God Loves, includes what our senses can perceive as the universe in front of us.

If we believe our scriptures, God loved everything into being, and to be followers of Christ, we live in compassion and love, inclusion of all.

As Christ’s followers, we look for ways of healing, ways of coping and creating community, allowing forgiveness, allowing belonging, sponsoring and advocating hope, and being the goodness that all seek in this world as God intended.

AMEN!

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

We pray for the Christian community.

May the words of Jesus and His healing touch,

help us to live unselfishly and focus on serving others

in the wider community:

We pray for all social outcasts.

May the words of Jesus and His healing touch,

inspire us to regard everyone as a possible neighbour.

We pray for those suffering in mind and spirit.

May the words of Jesus and His healing touch,

help us to care for them with dedication and good humour.

For those excluded from society:

the poor, the refugees, the handicapped.

May the words of Jesus and His healing touch,

help us to love them and come to their aid,

just as Jesus.

Let us pray, in the silence of our hearts,

For those in our community and world that need prayer:

(pause in silent prayer….)

We hold all those written on our hearts, be their courage and strength this day.

May they know your presence, in comfort and peace, guidance and wisdom, in healing and hope.

God who saves, Your Son can restore the outcast,

have mercy on us.

Stretch out Your hand over us and touch us

and we will be saved.

written by the Rev. Fraser Macnaughton, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall.  Posted on the Church of Scotland’s excellent Starters for Sunday website..

Let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught saying:

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.

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

Scripture for Next Week

Jeremiah 31:31–34 “I will write my law on their hearts.”

Psalm 51:1–12 (VU pp. 776–777) Put a new heart in me, O God.

or Psalm 119:9–16 (VU pp. 838–839) Finding joy in God’s commandments.

Hebrews 5:5–10 Christ did not glorify himself; rather he suffered.

John 12:20–33 Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth.

Resources:

Bible passages : https://www.biblegateway.com/

Prayer of Approach:  https://re-worship.blogspot.com/

Pastoral Prayer:  https://re-worship.blogspot.com/

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5

Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca 

Visit our new website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

Worship Minister (Supply): Kevin Fitzpatrick 705-340-0973 / mk.fitzy@sympatico.ca

Envelope Steward: Kathy Prentice 705-324-4753


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *