Dunsford United Church Bulletin – Sunday June 6, 2021

2nd after Pentecost – Rev. Anne Hepburn

Welcome and Celebrations: Hello friends! 

Call to Worship

As we gather here today may the peace of Christ be upon this congregation.

As we come together may God’s peace rest on us as we listen to the message, sing songs of praise and give thanks.

May our time together ignite in us a desire to go out and share the peace and love of Christ with others.

Let us worship God singing and praising God’s wonderful love for all.

Written by Stephanie Richmond Gatherings 2021 p. 38, used with permission.

Lighting of the Candles: Let the Light of Christ remind us of our connection to the holy.

Acknowledgement of the Lands: We acknowledge honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga people 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 the people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshipping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect, reconciliation and right relations.

Prayer of Approach (unison): 

Holy one.

Life is complicated and challenging.

You call us to be our fullest and best selves and yet we often settle for less.

Time and time again you invite us back into your heart.

Time and time again you welcome us with open arms.

Gather us in today as we meet in Jesus’ name. Amen

Written by Bob Root Gatherings 2021 p. 46, used with permission.

HYMN: VU #595 “We are Pilgrims (The Servant Song)” (Words: Richard Gillard)

We are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travellers on the road;

we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

Sister, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;

I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony,

born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

Offering: While we can‘t take up the offering as we used to do in the sanctuary, it is still an important part of our ministry. We acknowledge and thank you all for your contributions to the church whether via PAR or other means.

“For the love of the world Jesus offered everything he had, even life itself. In response to his generosity we offer our gifts and our lives to God. Amen”

Written by Frances Flook Gatherings 2021 p.37, used with permission.

We Hear God’s Word

Old Testament 1 Samuel 8: 4-11,16-20 Appoint a king for Israel.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me,[a] from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle[b] and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

New Testament Mark 3:20-35 Who gives Jesus his power?

Then he went home; 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The True Kindred of Jesus

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[c] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Reflection/Sermon: “Economy & Oppression”

There’s an interesting meme perhaps going around Facebook these days.  It reads something like this:

“Why are you angry at working folks who come to a food bank?  Maybe you should be angry at the corporations that fail to pay them a living wage?”

It has really resonated with me. 

There are corporations all over the world who do not adequately reimburse their employees.  And there are corporations that do not pay enough or at all for the natural resources that they take and use up and sell.

Looking at North American and especially Canadian companies there are quite a few whether national or multinational companies. Nestle comes to mind.  So does Walmart also retailers, Sears and Target.  National restaurant chains such as McDonalds, Burger King & Starbucks.

Here in Canada, we have grocery chains such as Loblaws, Foodland, Metro and others who do not pay well nor do they offer fulltime employment. This affects employees who can’t get benefits and have to juggle part time work. Yet the CEO’s remuneration jumped significantly as did the year over year profits.

The US companies threatened to cut hours and benefits when the affordable Care Act (or Obama Care) was passed. 

Here in Canada some Tim Hortons franchises threatened to cut hours when the minimum wage was increased.  There has always been corporate greed and there likely will still be into the future.  But the fact that the public thinks that those who have to use food banks and live in inadequate circumstances are the failures is problematic.

We are blaming the victims! 

I promised to speak about the economy last time we were together and so today I will, but the reality of life is that economy is not an isolated aspect of our world.  It is integrated with much of our public life that it is hard to untangle completely.  But way back in the times when our biblical texts were written, the economy was based on the household.  What was grown or fabricated and what was sold to make the family’s economic situation.

Back then families used to live in multi generational settings with many people in a house with a stable and garden.  Families who did well had servants and animals and capacities to weave wool and create clothing of all types. So those families had the ability to generate decent stability 

Life was good for people as long as the husband and sons of a family were healthy and able to support the household.  But as you can easily imagine only a very wealthy widow could manage after her husband and sons passed away. There were far more who could not manage and were left in poverty when the men were gone because there was little that a woman could do in trade or agriculture.

It was not safe.  The book of Ruth is written about such a situation. We may visit that sometime later.  If a widow was lucky she might be welcomed into a brothers or sisters household or made part of another household as help.  In those households whether as a relative or a servant she would be blessed with some security.  To the family patriarch she would become part of the house economy. An expense but also a contributing member to or of the family.

The concept of economy has become a wider general accounting of the larger community is fact I suppose but I find that it is a source of confusion. In fact the financial issues in an economy are in many parallel to a household but the scale in a country or province is so much greater and includes many factors that would never have been included in a household.

Think of COVID and the costs that have been borne to buy vaccines PPE and provide basic income via CERB.  Or think of a country’s security systems and naval/army/air force needs.

Or the vast retail operations across our country that sell items the folks from Jesus’ time never could have, imagined.  Drug stores, Dishwashers, cars, computers, Bitcoin!

The system of an economy now reflects all of that and so much more.

There are some massive valuable parts of a thriving economy with international sales and cross border trade, and online sales there are also some pretty serious downsides.

Capitalism is the fundamental underpinning of the economy here and around the world. And capitalism depends on some basic principles.

Capitalism – according to the Merriam Webster dictionary;

“An economic system in which capital goods are privately or corporately owned. Also by Investments made as private decisions and by pricing, production and distribution of goods that are mainly determined by competition in a free market.”

In a purely capitalistic context government intervention is minimal.  The production of goods and services is based on supply and demand.  To bring this out of the classroom and into our lives lets think about the cost of lumber- It is usually a fairly predictable cost in building a house but supply chain management over the past 15 months left lumber in a tight spot. Demand is soaring as people have built additions to accommodate home offices or extra living space to help with online schoolwork from home and the need for extra space in a lockdown.

There are advantages and disadvantages to capitalism:

-There are incentives to be rich, encouraging innovation.

-incentives to be efficient

-consumers are free to choose products

-Prevents large and bureaucratic government.

-Better than the alternatives.

Disadvantages

-firms can gain monopoly in marketplace

-firms with monopoly power can pay low wages

-externalities can harm the environment

-tends to lead to large inequalities

-prone to “boom and bust” economic cycles which lead to painful recessions and mass unemployment.

Winston Churchill was quoted as saying “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”

A similar statement could be said of capitalism.

Conversely John Maynard Keynes said “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wicked of men will do the most wicked things for the greatest good of everyone.”   

Of the downsides not mentioned above are the disregard for social welfare such as public transit, education and healthcare and the care of those who do not have private wealth and security.

Externalities are those ongoing issues which result from the capital production of products.

For this, consider pollution, excessive drain on natural resources and failure to protect those natural resources.

To understand how these parts of capitalism impact us it is easiest to look at the USA under Reagan (and Trump) or the UK under Margaret Thatcher. Both Thatcher and Reagan believed in trickle down economics- the idea that if the wealthy get taxed less to stimulate their capitalistic endeavours, the economy and the poor will benefit. Unfortunately trickle down theory does not work: cutting taxes for the wealthy does not result in higher employment, consumer spending or government revenues. All it does is put more money in the pockets of the wealthy.

There was a story a few years ago about the secretary to Warren Buffet telling him what she paid in taxes and his shock as an exceptionally wealthy man, discovering that he paid less than her!

I think he was provoked to come out and speak against the extraordinary gap between the 1%and the average citizen.

In Great Britain during Thatcher’s reign the criticism of her policies was similar- that free markets and individual wealth creation undermined the fabric of society.   

And of course in the USA there is ample evidence that Republican economic policies are highly capitalistic and have done damage to the health, ecology and education systems of the country.

During Trumps presidency many of Obama’s initiatives to protect the environment and provide health care and workers rights were rolled back within days of his start in the White House.    

Canada is generally a capitalistic country but is fortunately blessed with social welfare policies that protect health care, education & workers rights.  We have seen and heard of our failures, most recently in the indigenous populations.  They have been scapegoated, mistreated and victims of a genocide which is still revealing itself.   

It is probably most evident within the treatment of our indigenous brothers and sisters that we see the colonialist attitudes unpacked. Our ancestors rolled in and took control of the land, occupying it, exploiting the resources for their own economic benefit. On top of that they displayed contempt for the indigenous folks whom they regarded as culturally and racially inferior, trying to convert the so-called heathens to Christianity. An arrogant attitude to say the least.

Regrettably our colonialist and economic policies have not been fair to everyone. We have peoples who are struggling and resources that have been depleted. We have a mixture of very conservative (Capitalistic) and equally socialist politicians and values. It is a delicate balancing act but because we have health care, education and a national conscience, I hope that we can continue to care for everyone.

I have been grappling with the news out of Kamloops this week.

Aware of my complicit part in being a settlor, aware of my privilege as a beneficiary of capitalistic policies, aware of my general disregard for the well being of the indigenous populations until relatively recently, aware of the role that many clergy have played in the relentless cruelty to vulnerable children and infants.

My disgust at their behaviour is so enormous yet I wonder what I might have felt and thought had I been involved so long ago.

My sense is that many social issues are coming to a head-

#Black LIVES MATTER   #MeToo     And now #Truth and reconciliation.

It is a deeply humbling time for all of us. Let us take stock and be open.

Prayers of the People

Holy and mysterious God,

We come to you with many questions and seeking answers for our world right now.

Why me?

Why now?

How long?

What next?

How could this happen?

We are worried afraid and distressed- for ourselves,

For our families friends and this hurting divided world.

Help to truly feel your presence and your promise of hope.

It may be a flash of colour as we go for a walk and see a brightly painted stone on the sidewalk or at the base of a tree with children’s handwriting that says:

“Be Safe”

“Stay Strong”

“Give Peace a chance”

“You are not alone” let us reflect privately for a moment…

Time of silent prayer

We ask for a simple reminder of your grace loving God for this day and ever after.

Amen

Written by Mary Parsons, Gatherings 2021 p.43, used with permission.

Lord’s Prayer

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 and the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

HYMN: VU #268 “Bring Many Names” (Words: Brian Wren)

Bring many names, beautiful and good, celebrate, in parable and story, holiness in glory, living, loving God. Hail and hosanna! Bring many names!

Strong mother God, working night and day, planning all the wonders of creation, setting each equation, genius at play: Hail and hosanna, strong mother God!

Warm father God, hugging every child, feeling all the strains of human living, caring and forgiving till we’re reconciled: Hail and hosanna, warm father God!

Old, aching God, grey with endless care, calmly piercing evil’s new disguises, glad of good surprises, wiser than despair: Hail and hosanna, old, aching God!

Young, growing God, eager, on the move, saying no to falsehood and unkindness, crying out for justice, giving all you have: Hail and hosanna, young, growing God!

Great, living God, never fully known, joyful darkness far beyond our seeing, closer yet than breathing, everlasting home: Hail and hosanna, great, living God!

Blessing/Commendation: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  


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