Dunsford United Church Bulletin – June 13, 2021

June 13, 2021

Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman

WELCOME

CALL TO WORSHIP (Response is in Bold)

Lord, grant me the patience and grace to listen, the courage and wisdom to question and speak, and the bravery to create safe space for tough topics.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy tried and true;

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TERRITORIAL LANDS (in unison)

We acknowledge that the Creator Entrusted the land on which we gather this day to First Nations Peoples of the Anishnabeg/Mississauga. May we strive to open our hearts, minds and spaces; to make right with all our relations. May it be so.

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.

OPENING PRAYER (in unison)

We are not alone,

    we live in God’s world.

 We believe in God:

    who has created and is creating,

    who has come in Jesus,

       the Word made flesh,

       to reconcile and make new,

    who works in us and others

       by the Spirit.

We trust in God. 

We are called to be the Church:

    to celebrate God’s presence,

    to live with respect in Creation,

    to love and serve others,

    to seek justice and resist evil,

    to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,

       our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death,

    God is with us.

We are not alone.

    Thanks be to God.

Amen

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE

We light this candle to signify that Jesus is the light of Truth. We welcome truth into our lives and worship this morning.

OLD TESTAMENT READING

1 Samuel 15:34-16:113

34-35 Samuel left immediately for Ramah and Saul went home to Gibeah. Samuel had nothing to do with Saul from then on, though he grieved long and deeply over him. But God was sorry he had ever made Saul king in the first place.

God Looks into the Heart

16 God addressed Samuel: “So, how long are you going to mope over Saul? You know I’ve rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I’ve spotted the very king I want among his sons.”

2-3 “I can’t do that,” said Samuel. “Saul will hear about it and kill me.”

God said, “Take a heifer with you and announce, ‘I’ve come to lead you in worship of God, with this heifer as a sacrifice.’ Make sure Jesse gets invited. I’ll let you know what to do next. I’ll point out the one you are to anoint.”

4 Samuel did what God told him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the town fathers greeted him, but apprehensively. “Is there something wrong?”

5 “Nothing’s wrong. I’ve come to sacrifice this heifer and lead you in the worship of God. Prepare yourselves, be consecrated, and join me in worship.” He made sure Jesse and his sons were also consecrated and called to worship.

6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”

7 But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

8 Jesse then called up Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. Samuel said, “This man isn’t God’s choice either.”

9 Next Jesse presented Shammah. Samuel said, “No, this man isn’t either.”

10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”

11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”

12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

13 Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.

Samuel left and went home to Ramah.

HYMN #703 VU “In the Bulb There is a Flower”

GOSPEL SCRIPTURE: Mark 4: 26-34

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

The Use of Parables

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

SERMON

Today’s scriptures are full of surprises and learning to look at things in a new way. 

First, we encounter the anointing of David. Saul had been given the Kingdom of Israel and even though he appeared to have good leadership skills and he had all the opportunity in the world to be a good king, he grew fearful, rash and jealous. He disobeyed God and bent the rules. For this, he lost his kingship. 

God then sent Samuel to anoint a new king. All assume it will be a first-born, strong, handsome, capable lad like Eliab.  When Eliab stands before Samuel, Samuel thinks, “Here he is Lord. The one you want me to anoint.”

But God teaches Samuel and us all a lesson by saying, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

As the scripture progresses, we learn that God chooses to give the kingdom of Israel to David, the youngest son of Jesse. David’s job is to look after the sheep. It was David, the last boy, that God told Samuel to anoint with oil and then God blessed him with the Spirit of the Lord. 

From smallness comes greatness.

Our next scripture reading is a reading of two parables. Parables are comparisons, meant to cast two things alongside one another to provide analogy, contrast, or reflection — usually a reflection similar to the distortions that appear in a funhouse mirror. Jesus’ parables have a way of reordering conventional assumptions and values. They don’t explain how one is supposed to recognize the reign of God, but they make it clear that we will need to adopt or receive new ways of perceiving.

The parable of the Growing Seed is only documented in Mark. Perhaps because it is a bit boring. A seed is planted and it grows just as it should without any awareness or help from human kind. But perhaps that is the point. We don’t try to control its growth. We don’t add synthetic fertilizer, we don’t cull weeds to protect its precarious blooming, and we don’t prune it into an unnatural shape. Then, when the grain is ready, it is harvested.

In other words, the seeds of God’s kingdom will take root — whether in the world, or in someone’s heart, Jesus does not specify. It will grow gradually and automatically. It will grow perhaps so subtly that you won’t even notice, until at last it produces its intended fruit; a pure form of the fruit.

Next, we have the parable of the mustard seed. Mustard seeds are tiny and proliferate wildly. Once this seed hits the fertile soil, it grows and branches out and, in the scripture, we hear that it provides shade for the birds. Perhaps many of you are doing the “garlic mustard pull” in and around your yards. It has certainly become part of my weekly exercise routine this season.

In all of the scripture passages, it all starts in smallness. It begins with something unrecognizable as becoming the end result. There is mystery in the growth of seeds beyond our ability to see; once planted, we trust that the seeds of God are growing stronger.  The vision of the smallest of seeds growing into great things is the latter part of Jesus’ parable. Sometimes we envision that great, sweeping actions are needed to make changes and grow justice, but it is important to plant good seeds first. Mark’s community was small, sandwiched between the power of Rome and the Zealot revolutionaries, yet the vision for the future of the faith was in the hands of this small group of Christians. Let’s pay attention to the seeds our congregations, denomination, province, and country is planting and the difference these seeds can make. 

When these seeds develop strong roots, stalks and branches then the fruit can serve others. 

Since the announcement of the discovery of the undocumented and unmarked remains of 215 children on the grounds of Kamloops Residential School, the United Church of Canada has received many messages of sorrow, concern, and outrage from members of the church. Residential schools run by the United Church of Canada accounted for approximately 10 % of the total schools. But this accountability can not be math based. It needs to be heart based.

Former Senator Murray Sinclair who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released a heartfelt statement declaring: 

We know there are lots of sites similar to Kamloops that are going to come to light in the future. We need to begin to prepare ourselves for that.

Those that are survivors and intergenerational survivors need to understand that this information is important for all of Canada to understand the magnitude of the truth of this experience.

Since the revelation of what has happened at Kamloops has come to light, I have been inundated with calls from Survivors. Hundreds of calls, often just to cry. I can hear not only the pain and the anguish, but also the anger that no one believed the stories they had told. I can also hear their sense that they have lost some hope that maybe those children that hadn’t returned might still be found. They now know that may not happen.

The Residential School system is part of our Canadian and United Church history. A long time ago seeds were scattered in poisoned soil and were pruned into a deadly plant. We need to rip open that garden and shine the light of truth on it. 

As Senator Sinclair says, “… we must persevere in our investigation… we must know what happened at these schools. We need to ensure that we put in place healing programs and foundations that will help survivors to gather and share their memories and stories.”

During these hard days of discovery, I have clung to hope for the future. For the past few years, many teachers have diligently begun incorporating indigenous history and culture into the classroom so that our children do not grow up as ignorant as I did.  As a student, I had never heard of the Residential Schools until I went to Trent University and a professor in the Native Studies department shared her story with our class. Rarely has something changed my whole perspective so immediately or so thoroughly. 

What we now know; we cannot unknow. Nor should we even try. I am thinking back to a few weeks ago during Pentecost Sunday when I made the analogy of the Holy Spirit being a strong wind that can blow you about. The Holy Spirit is no longer giving us a gentle breeze. She has blown us into an unfamiliar backyard, and we need to plant good seeds that will produce fruit that serves others. For some of us, those seeds may be planted in our hearts and minds and will grow into new understandings and perceptions of our past and what God calls us to do. Some of us may have suffered from the ongoing trauma of the Residential Schools or witnessed the hurt in friends and family.  For you, we pray for seeds of healing.

Let us all pray for strength and wisdom as we continue on our journey. It will not be easy, sometimes it may be feelings of anger, shame, helplessness, and frustration. There will also be times of joy, understanding, and forgiveness. But remember our New Creed. We are not alone. We live in God’s world. 

We are called to seek justice and resist evil. 

To really live our Christian faith, we must do this. 

Blessings on your journey. 

HYMN: VU #686 “God of Grace and God of Glory”

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Great and Heavenly Spirit,

God of compassion, healing and comfort,

We lift up in prayer the sacred lives of the children, some now known to us, all known to you, who died in residential schools.

We lift up in prayer the sacred lives of the children who went missing from these schools and whose fates are unknown to those who held them most dear.

We grieve the loss of so many thousands of these little ones, and we grieve especially their loss so far away from home.

We grieve the loss of youth with so much potential. These were children of this place, children of our land. The loss of their giftedness is our collective loss.

We lament how long their families have had to live with unanswered questions.

Hear our prayers:

for those who were not informed of their children’s deaths at all, or on a timely basis;

for those who were not told of where their daughters and sons had been buried;

for those who have long hoped that a child who went missing somehow survived and had a good life—even as they may have also feared the worst.

We lament our complicity in the loss of these children. As members of a church which ran residential schools, we seek your help as we look to redress the many ways in which our church failed these Indigenous children, their families, and their communities. We pray that your reconciling love will teach us how to create true bonds of community and understanding as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples today.

We lift up with gratitude the efforts of all those who are seeking to honour the lives of the children who died, as well as the children whose fates are unknown, through ongoing research and acts of remembrance.

We ask for your continued guidance of them as they work to uncover the stories of the lost. We understand how precious this information is, and how vital it is to the healing of so many families and communities.

Bless those who are preparing to honour the children with sacred ceremonies and those who work to protect burial sites, in keeping with the traditions of Indigenous peoples across this land.

We pray for the families of these children and for all who loved them. Envelop them in the warmth of your infinite care and give them peace.

Inspire all of us with energy, wisdom, and commitment to the loving pursuit of the truth which will heal all of us in our brokenness and lead to reconciliation with our neighbours across this land.

We now bring our own prayers before you, O Gracious God. (silence)

Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we pray to you, our Holy Creator.

Amen.

—A prayer offered by Indigenous Ministries

for the memorial register honouring children who died at residential schools (TRC Call to Action 72), launched on September 30, 2019

BENEDICTION

Go now in peace. Go now in faith. Go now in love. Live as Jesus commands us. Amen.

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5 Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

Visit our new website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

CCLI License #11197107


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