Dunsford United Church Bulletin – August 1, 2021
Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman
CALL TO WORSHIP:
Hymn: MV #18 “Lord, Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary”
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true;
with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.
Here we are God, apart yet together in spirit.
We ask that you free our minds from worries
and plant in us a courageous heart
to follow where you lead us.
Open our eyes, soften our hearts and expand our minds
As we journey on the road that leads to you.
HYMN: MV #12 “Come Touch Our Hearts” (Words: Gordon Light)
Come touch our hearts that we may know compassion,
from failing embers build a blazing fire;
Love strong enough to overturn injustice, to seek a world more gracious,
come touch and bless our hearts.
Come touch our souls that we may know and love you,
your quiet presence all our fears dispel;
create a space for Spirit to grow in us, let life and beauty fill us,
come touch and bless our souls.
Come touch our minds and teach us how to reason,
set free our thoughts to wonder and to dream;
help us to open doors of understanding to welcome truth and wisdom,
come touch and bless our minds.
Come touch us in the moments we are fragile,
and in our weakness your great strength reveal;
that we may rise to follow and to serve, steady now our nerve,
come touch and bless our wills.
Come touch us now, this people who are gathered,
to break the bread and share the cup of peace;
that we may love you with our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength, our all,
come touch us with your grace.
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION
Holy God, Word made flesh, let us come to this word open to being surprised. Silence our agendas; banish our assumptions; cast out our casual detachment. Confound our expectations; clear the cobwebs from our ears; penetrate the corners of our hearts with this word. We know that you can, we pray that you will, and we wait with great anticipation. Amen.
Our Old Testament Reading and Psalm 51 are connected by King David’s affair with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah which results in a pregnancy and the murder of Uriah.
Old Testament Reading
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a (NIV)
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”
HYMN: VU #651 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” (Words: William Williams)
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but thou art mighty, hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current, land me safe on Canaan’s side:
songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.
Ephesians 4:1-16 (The Message) (Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus)
To Be Mature
4 1-3 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
4-6 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
7-13 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the plunder,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14-16 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
As a retired teacher, September was always the other New Year’s Day for me. I am sure many of us can relate to this feeling. At some point we were all students, and felt the excitement of a new school year surrounding us, even if it wasn’t that exciting for you personally. August has traditionally been a time of reflection and preparation. Not only for school teachers, but in many aspects of life. The harvest starts in August and farmers’ markets are full of local produce. Anyone who cans and jams has been putting food away for the winter. The animals have also been enjoying nature’s bounty in preparation for the leaner months of winter. We may even be enjoying a slower pace of life, a rest before the busyness of autumn is upon us. Please lean into this season of life with me as we journey together through a few scriptures from the bible. I hear God calling us. Do you?
Let’s look at the Epistle lesson for this week. Ephesians is a letter of encouragement, designed to help Christians connect their theology and their everyday lives, to make sure that what they believe actually shapes how they live. I have a sticky note in my office that looks at this concept another way. It says, “I watch what I am doing to see what I believe.”
I invite you to ponder this sticky note and to try living it during this next week. It does not allow for self-deception. The truth is set free.
In his letter, Paul tells the people of Ephesia to get out there… “on the road God called you to travel.” I think this is a beautiful image. Can’t you just see God, however you envision our Creator, with you on a long and windy road calling your name?
We often use the term “faith journey” to describe the new learnings and perspectives we encounter as we dig deeper into scriptures and open our hearts and minds in prayer. Let’s try imagining our life as Christians, as a long, never ending road we walk everyday with God calling our name as we travel, and not just a series of stops along our way. We are often wonderful Christians on a Sunday morning but by Monday we can become a little wishy washy.
How do we get on this road and take this journey? Paul tells us. We must travel the road God calls us to travel, with humility and discipline, pouring ourselves out for others in acts of love, and using the unique gifts God has given each one of us.
Well that doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? But when I read those words again, I found a few terms that made me squirm in my seat.
Let’s look at humility. This is not my strong suit. The very idea of following the road God calls me to and not the road I map out for myself, is a little unsettling. We live in a society that worships self-reliance and independent thinking. To heed a call can be frightening. It makes us feel vulnerable.
And to really follow where God calls requires discipline to follow through, not just doing something in fits and starts. According to my parents, “fits and starts” would have been an appropriate middle name for me. We live in a time of information overload and distraction is only a phone app or a tv show away. At this point, I realized that the road God calls me on is not just going to be a pleasant day trip.
What about the next requirement, pouring ourselves out for others in acts of love. The sugar-rush high of helping someone or doing a good deed is something we all seek, but what about the “pouring ourselves out” part. That implies giving something up. It is easy to give, but to give of ourselves? To sacrifice our own wants? Hmm. I think this road just took a steep incline, perhaps mountain sized!
Now for the gift part. Surely I can do that. What gifts have been bestowed upon me by God? I think I have a few, but what if I am wrong. What if I am not good enough? If I stay to the side of the road maybe I can hide in the shrubbery and not be noticed. But is that God is asking of us? To hide?
Verse 15 tells us that God wants us “to grow up to know the whole truth and tell it in love, like Christ in everything”. And part of that truth is looking at our lives truthfully. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Are we ready to get out there and do what Paul’s letter tells us to do? Will we “walk-better yet, run! -on the road God has called each and everyone of us to travel?” Under examination, does what we do, match what we believe or what we want to believe?
We will make mistakes; but then so did King David who was called by God. By his own admission, David sinned against God. But he repented. He asked forgiveness. He asked for a clean heart and a right and new spirit. And God took away his sin just as God is always taking away our sins. God has the power to create in us a clean heart and to sustain us with a willing spirit.
God’s grace is amazing! We are not alone on the road. God is right there with us, always and forever. Blessings on your journey.
HYMN: VU #509 “I, The Lord of Sea and Sky (Here I am Lord)” (Words: Daniel L. Schutte)
I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in deepest sin my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.
I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain,
I have wept for love of them; they turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them. Whom shall I send?
I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame,
I will set a feast for them; my hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send?
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God who calls us and journeys with us
We thank you for your presence in our lives.
Each of us has walked our own path to you.
Grant us grace that we may walk the way of love with you ever calling our name.
In a world broken by lies,
Let us bring Truth
In a world broken by hunger,
Let us bring Bread
In a world broken by hate,
Let us bring Peace
We now bring our own prayers before you, O Gracious God.
(Pray from your heart.)
Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we pray to you, our Holy Creator.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy spirit be with you all as we journey on the road God has called us to.
DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH
Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5
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