Dunsford United Church Bulletin – Aug 8, 2021
Rev. Anne Hepburn
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS
CALL TO WORSHIP
Welcome dear friends and members of Dunsford United Church.
We each connect from our own homes, but we gather as one in the Spirit.
And in that spirit, we worship.
Written by Juanita Austin Gatherings 2021 p. 39, 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)
Creating Loving God,
In Christ you show us a way to heal and to shape a new day,
And you entrust us with the gifts of faith,
Forgiveness, compassion, trust and love.
In the changing seasons in the changing world
Your love is constant.
May our witness and prayer sustain and support goodness, justice and peace
In our worship and work
and for all the generations that follow us. Amen
Written by Wendy MacLean Gatherings 2021 p.44, used with permission.
HYMN: VU #670 “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” (Words: Thomas A. Dorsey)
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light:
take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near,
when my life is almost gone, hear my cry, hear my call,
hold my hand lest I fall: take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
When the darkness appears, and the night draws near,
and the day is past and gone, at the river I stand,
guide my feet, hold my hand: take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
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”
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
Old Testament 2 Samuel 8:5-9, 15, 31-33
David’s son Absalom dies
5 Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.
6 So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim. 7 The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David, and a great slaughter of twenty thousand took place there that day. 8 For the battle there was scattered over the face of the whole countryside, and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9 Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.
15 And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.
31 Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “There is good news, my lord the king! For the Lord has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you.”
32 And the king said to the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
So the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!”
David’s Mourning for Absalom
33 Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Do not let the sun go down on your anger
Rules for the New Life
25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up,[a] as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.[b] 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us[c] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
SERMON: “Grief and Anger”
When I was a teenager, I was out shopping for Christmas gifts for my aunts and uncles.
I rummaged around a bookstore for quite a while unsure of what to get them…
Finally I came across a book about grief and death.
I proudly brought several copies home and was laughed out of my sense of pride by my entire family…
I later found out that my family had some “issues around death”.
But nevertheless I did not give them the books!!
The text from 2 Samuel tells of the death in battle of King David’s son Absalom.
Now to recap from where we left off 2 weeks ago you will recall that King David arranged for Uriah his servant and warrior to be killed to cover up his indiscretion and resulting pregnancy with Bathsheba.
She mourned his death and then married David.
But God was displeased and punished them both by making the new baby boy die some short weeks into life.
Then Nathan the court prophet took David to task and described his errors to him in a way that David could hear and understand. He told the story in such a way that David was furious and wanted the villain
punished severely. When Nathan pointed out that he was the villain
David owned up to his errors and was remorseful.
Later on Bathsheba conceived 3 more children, all boys.
But David had many wives as was his prerogative as king.
Among them was Maacah, a non-Jewish woman whom he saw and desired.
Maacah is an eshet yefat to’ar, a non-Jewish woman captured during wartime for the purpose of becoming a wife to her Israelite captor. Deuteronomy lists specific conditions the women must follow to wed an Israelite, such as shaving her head, that are intended to discourage the union by making the woman seem undesirable. This does not stop King David from taking Maacah for a wife, and she bears him a son, Absalom, who grows up to turn on his father and even attempts to kill him. The Rabbis criticize David for his actions and the way his son acted and believe the fate of Absalom was caused by David taking an eshet yefat to’ar for a wife.
It is stunning to hear that his own son tried to kill King David.
Absalom was no angel-
He was known to indulge in meat and alcohol to extremes.
He was very handsome and attracted a lot of interest. But he was also disloyal to King David his father.
The picture of Absalom that is presented in 2 Samuel 13–19 suggests that he was the Alcibiades of the Old Testament, alike in his personal attractiveness, his lawless insolence, and his tragic fate. He is first mentioned as murdering his half brother Amnon, David’s eldest son, in revenge for the rape of his full sister Tamar. For this he was driven into banishment, but he was eventually restored to favour through the good offices of his cousin Joab. Later, when some uncertainty seems to have arisen as to the succession, Absalom organized a revolt. For a time he seemed completely successful; David, with a few followers and his personal guard, fled across the Jordan, leaving to Absalom Jerusalem and the main portion of the kingdom. The usurper pursued the fugitives with his forces but was completely defeated in “the forest of Ephraim” (apparently west of Jordan) and killed by Joab, who found him caught by the hair in an oak tree. To the affectionate, chivalrous heart of David, the loss of his son, worthless and treacherous as he was, brought grief that more than outweighed his own safety and restoration.
It is probably not uncommon back then for a parent to lose more than one child over the course of their lifetime. According to what we know from this so far David has lost 3 sons.
A friend of mine who had 4 children subsequently lost 2 – one to cancer and a 2nd to suicide. Her grief was clouded over by the fact that her marriage was falling apart, and she had to stay collected for her remaining 2 children. Later after she was a single mom for many years, she started to allow her feelings to surface.
As she talked about the boys’ deaths, I noticed that she had anticipated one but not the other. Not surprising – the cancer diagnosis was the real shock there and for years she worried about what might unfold. Later on the suicide was the unanticipated loss. She grieved so differently for each boy – for the little one who got brain cancer & never had a chance to grow up healthy. And for the older son whose despair at his brother’s illness took his own spirit.
As that little book on grief pointed out, we often go through stages in grief, but they are not necessarily linear or even in order. Of the stages of grief there are many – and as with other ideas there are different opinions but according to many the following are typical.
Shock and denial
Pain and guilt
Anger and bargaining
Acceptance and hope.
Some people might skip steps or go through some so fast and never finish another.
Grief and anger are not as far apart as one might think.
Sometimes the sadness of grief can be replaced by anger at the circumstances of a loss.
Anger at malpractice or negligence are certainly understandable. But I think that anger is also a survivor’s reaction on occasion. Anger is an energizing emotion where as sadness seems to drag our energy down.
Of course the shock of her marriage breaking up was another source of grief for my friend but in that situation she was grieving the marriage she had hoped for rather than what she got.
Her husband was an abusive alcoholic and obviously she did not expect that when she married him and started a family.
King David’s grief was different. He was grieving a child who died after trying to get him killed!
His affection was not totally destroyed by the actions of his wayward son. Indeed I wonder if he was not also grieving the circumstances that led Absalom to be the way he was?
And maybe he was also grieving the life that his wee baby lost at such a young age.
We are all going to experience grief and anger in our lives. Many of us have already. My wish for you is that you are able to use our anger productively to make the world a better place. And as for your grief I hope you emerge from it to find new life and hope. Amen
How can you use us to share the good news if we are so focused on what we should be getting?
How can you count on us when we are paralyzed by fear or anger?
We confess that in our hearts and minds we are often dwelling back in Nazareth and not with you as you share the good news in other villages and throughout the countryside.
Forgive us we pray
Time of silent prayer…
When we find ourselves up on our symbolic high horse God helps us get back down to earth again.
When we are afraid or angry God speaks peace and calmness into us.
This is the good news: we are a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God.
Written by Norah Laverty Gatherings 2021 p.46, used with permission.
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 #333 “Love Divine, all Loves Excelling” (Words: Charles Wesley)
Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.
Come, almighty to deliver; let us all thy grace receive;
suddenly return, and never, nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee, without ceasing, glory in thy perfect love.
Finish, then, thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee,
changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH
Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5
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