Dunsford United Church Bulletin Transcript – March 21, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Kevin Fitzpatrick

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

God of Love, God of Peace, this fractured world cries out in pain, burns deep into my soul and challenges me to make a difference.

God of Love, God of Peace, God of this world scarred by grief and tears, ignorance and fear, soften hearts of stone and begin with mine.  God of Love, God of Peace, Create within me a heart for people, a desire for change for new beginnings to start this day.

~ written by John Birch and posted on his Faith and Worship website.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Living Bible

The day will come, says the Lord, when I will make a new contract with the people of Israel and Judah. It won’t be like the one I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a contract they broke, forcing me to reject them,[a] says the Lord. But this is the new contract I will make with them: I will inscribe my laws upon their hearts,[b] so that they shall want to honor me;* then they shall truly be my people and I will be their God. At that time it will no longer be necessary to admonish one another to know the Lord. For everyone, both great and small, shall really know me then, says the Lord, and I will forgive and forget their sins.

Psalm 51:1–12 (VU pp. 776–777)

Have mercy on me, O God, in your great kindness, in the fullness of your mercy blot out my offences.  Wash away all my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my faults,

and my sin is always before me.

Refrain: God, I call to you for help; in your mercy hear my prayer.

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence, and blameless in your judgement.

Guilty I have been from my birth, a sinner from the time of my conception.

But you desire truth in our inward being, therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness, let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.  (Refrain)

Put a new heart in me, O God, and give me again a constant spirit.  Do not cast me away from your presence, do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and strengthen me with a willing spirit.

John 12:20-33 Living Bible

Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to attend the Passover paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida, and said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.

Jesus replied that the time had come for him to return to his glory in heaven, and that “I must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. Unless I die I will be alone—a single seed. But my death will produce many new wheat kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. If you love your life down here—you will lose it. If you despise your life down here—you will exchange it for eternal glory.

“If these Greeks[b] want to be my disciples, tell them to come and follow me, for my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. Now my soul is deeply troubled. Shall I pray, ‘Father, save me from what lies ahead’? But that is the very reason why I came! Father, bring glory and honor to your name.”

Then a voice spoke from heaven saying, “I have already done this, and I will do it again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some of them thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.

Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine.  The time of judgment for the world has come—and the time when Satan, the prince of this world, shall be cast out. And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to me.” He said this to indicate how he was going to die.

PRAYER OF APPROACH:

Lord, grant us simplicity of faith and a generosity of service that gives without counting cost.

A life overflowing with Grace, poured out from the One who gave everything that we might show

the power of love to a broken world and share the truth.  From a living Word Lord, grant us simplicity of faith and a yearning to share it.

May we know the love of our Creator, Redeemer and Spirit deep in our hearts.

May we understand our significance in the centre of this Holy family,

and the bonds that hold us so close as children and siblings

May we understand the lengths that our Creator was prepared to go for all mankind,

and freely respond in the Today which God has given for us to cherish.

Let us Bless the Lord. Amen.

Questions for Reflection

What phrases or verses in the scripture stood out for you today?

What seeds of faith do you have to tend to in your life?

What life force is the seed that brings hope to our world?

REFLECTION:  Planting the seed of Hope

Covenant of Hope

There is a story of an anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe, and he found himself surrounded by children most days. So, he decided to play a little game with them.

He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket at the foot of a tree. Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself. So, the children all lined up waiting for the signal.  When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away. 

The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselvesThe children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”  Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation in 2008:

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation.

It speaks about our interconnectedness.

You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.

When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Jesus was thinking in these terms as he spoke the words in today’s reading.  Jesus tells us that the Son of man is to be glorified, Jesus will be glorified on the cross, so he tells us.  He is troubled by this, and the words he chooses tell us this, and those listening would have been troubled by this as well.  What an awful and gruesome way to be glorified, lifted up on a cross in crucifixion to slowly suffocate to death.  Jesus then gives us the metaphor of the seed, that unless the grain of wheat is buried in the ground, it is dead to the worldThat a grain of wheat has to die, to be buried under the soil to bring new life, that the harvest will produce many new kernels, new lives will be the produce.  Jesus tells us if those who hold onto their lives will lose it, he is telling us if we hold on to the definition of the life of isolated existence it will fail us.

Jesus’ ministry has been coming to this point of crisis, the crisis of the cross, and his self-sacrifice for the world.  Christ has his crisis for the world in crisis. The world has not changed much in 2000 years, well technologically it has, which we call progress. Socially it hasn’t changed, emotionally it hasn’t changed.  We still live in a world where there is an economic gap between rich and poor.

The seeds of greed, entitlement and privilege flourish, like the bad weed of the world choking the moderation of equality, if it ever had a chance to grow in the world.  Wars still rage in the world and tensions build because of ignorance and hate planted in the hearts of people through the kernels of fear and pride.  Troubles in our world such as racism, sexism, ableism, all the ‘isms’ that are designed to keep one group down by dominance, by the use of power and privilege by another group.  The seed stock of attitudes, opinions and positions, still grow wild in our society, and unfortunately spread and flourish in new places.

These bad seeds are still prominent as they were in Jesus’ time.  Jesus came to change all that, just like the grain of wheat that sacrifices itself for the benefit of the wheat stock to produce a harvest of wheat.

Jesus is the good seed, that dies, planted in the ground, and new life grows from that which has died.  Jesus accepts his glorification, affirmed by God that those around him said it was angels talking or thunder.  Jesus calls those who wish to serve, to follow, that those who serve that God will glorify them as well.  We want to know today, how to understand that message, and what it is Jesus asks of us.

We must plant the seeds of generosity, kindness, benevolence, equality, equity, that speaks to how we share what we have with others that have little, we know that God has blessed our lives by living where we do.

We have the ability to use wisdom and knowledge to extend a hand of peace to those who have been alienated by ignorance and dominance, being with those who are discriminated, persecuted and oppressed and standing with those as our fellow human beings, our siblings in the world.

If we are like that grain of wheat, we can bring new life to our world, new attitudes.

We are to be the seeds of hope in this world, extending our hands to all around us, living in community with all peoples and creation, transformed by God’s love, and that love is written on our hearts.

We are to be the new changes that look to bring an end to the bad weeds in our world that try to choke out what God had planned for the vision of an Eden on the first day of creation.  God affirms our glorification by the beauty of the earth that God has created. We hear God’s voice and see God’s love in all the wonders that our senses can take in displayed in creation.

We are glorified by using our lives to benefit others, to share what we have to bring those others who are left fortunate into a circle of equality.

Welcoming refugees into our communities or funding government agencies to help the refugees return to their countries and help them rebuild.  We can look to better the plight of all society’s wrongs, homelessness, war, greed, violence, consumerism, ignorance, just to name a few.

Christ shows us this good seed to plant in our lives, in his teachings and actions. Those seeds that will flourish if we plant it in others and let it grow by helping others.  The seed is planted in our own hearts, we know it is nurtured by those who touched our lives through God’s love and the love they have for usJeremiah tells us that the seed of God’s love would be planted on the hearts of the people in a new covenant.  A covenant of an exiled people, as they were captured by the Babylonians, it is a passage that gives hope in a world of suffering and chaos, that God would be with them in their hardships.  This new covenant provides God’s everlasting promise, that God will not forsake them, that covenant written on their hearts, they will be the people of God and know God because of the love God has for them.  Christians have used this passage to point to Christ as that new covenant, a covenant of Love, Grace and Mercy.

Love in the presence of God that comes in human form to teach us as followers of Christ that our hearts can be transformed through Love to serve others and provide the power to change the world.  Grace and Mercy, that God provides through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrected, we are reconciled by this sacrifice back to God, to establish a promise of eternal life living in pure Love with our God.

We have a chance to plant the seed of Love and compassion in those we meet in our lives.

To plant a seed that flourishes and builds community, in acceptance and understanding, as Jesus sat and ate with all who would welcome him to the table, we must hold this seed of love on our heart, ready to plant it and watch it flourish, tending it often.

“Africans have a thing called ubuntu. It is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being willing to go the extra mile for the sake of another. We believe that a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.” —

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

We can create our ubuntu in this society “I am because we are.”

This is the seed to plant to bring good life, to let humanity grow hope and not despair, to grow the hope in letting all know that every life matters, and we connect ourselves to each life and work for the common good.

Amen

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Let us implore Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer “Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.”

We pray for our leaders of church, community, local.  May they serve as examples of benevolent love, who Christ exemplifies may they place their hope on divine wisdom, that speaks of compassion, tolerance, and acceptance.

In Silence we pray for our communities and their leaders.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

We pray for the leaders of the nations.  May they show mercy and advocate for the rights of the people.  May they, like Moses, seek the greater good, rather than their own interests.

In Silence we pray for the world and its leaders.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

We thank you for all you created.  We thank you that your Son Jesus Christ rejoiced

in your creation—telling stories about sheep, praying in the wilderness, and walking on the sea. 

May we also appreciate the works of your hands.

In Silence we pray for the blessings of creation.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

We pray for the people in our lives. May we learn to love the stiff-necked, those who chose to bring wrongs and chaos and all those in great need of your mercy.  Make us instruments of your peace.

We come now and bring our own prayers for those who need your love, and light.

We remember their names and share them with you and include them in all prayers.

In the silence we hold them up to you. Your presence surrounding them, loving them.

In Silence we pray for all held in our hearts.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

We pray for the sick, the anxious and the sorrowful.  Make them hear of joy and gladness,

that broken bodies and broken spirits may rejoice. 

In Silence, we pray for those who are suffering.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

We trust to your mercy, O God, all who have died.  May they rest eternally in your peace. 

Eternal Life Giver, Pain bearer, Light bringer, Your beauty, and splendor forevermore.

In Silence, we remember those who have passed from this life to eternal life.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

As we do so, 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

Liturgy of the Palms

Isaiah 50:4–9a The servant, “I gave my back to those who struck me.”

Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29 (VU p. 837 Parts One, Three, and Four) The stone that the builders rejected.

Philippians 2:5–11 Let the same mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus.

Mark 11:1–11 or John 12:12–16 Jesus’ joyful entry into Jerusalem.

Resources:

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

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

Opening Prayer 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


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