Dunsford United Church Bulletin – August 29, 2021

Guest Worship Leader – Darlene Hallett

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

The first thing I’d like to do this morning is to thank you for the invitation to be with you.  What a wild trip we’ve had through the last year and a half.  Meeting together in the comfort of your homes is not what we’re used to, but it’s better that not meeting together at all. One of the positives is that you can relax in your easy chair and sip on a coffee or tea.  And I’d like to thank each and every one of you for joining me in this time of worship.  May our time together be a time of fellowship and caring for each other.  And may the peace of Christ be with you, and your reply is and also with you.

CALL TO WORSHIP

I suggest that you take in a couple of deep breaths …. let your mind set the cares of the morning aside.  Fold up the grocery list that you were mentally preparing.  Let the agenda for what you are planning on doing after lunch remain empty for a while.  And as you set these cares aside, may you open up to the presence of the Lord this morning.  May you feel that you are in God’s presence as you listen to the words of scripture, as you sing this morning’s hymns, and may God speak to you through my words.  And may God’s words be passed through me to you.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE

This morning we see God all around us.  In the trees.  In the bird life.  In the sunshine.  In the grasses under our feet. (light candle)  This Christ Candle is also a focus point for seeing God in our midst.  The flame; the truth of God.  The warmth; the love of God.  The light that it radiates reminds us of the caring and strength that God spreads out for each and every one of us.  God is indeed, the light of our life.  The light of our hearts.  The light of our soul.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE LANDS

This is a difficult time for our First Nations brothers and sisters.  They have endured many hardships and injustices for such a long time.  As part of our concern for their well-being, we recognize that the very land that we are meeting on this morning has been their homeland for thousands of years.  A land that they cared for.  A land that they nurtured.  A land that they cherished.  A land that they depended on for their livelihood.  That is, until the settle peoples arrived.  It is our responsibility to continue to honour Mother Earth and her people, and care for her as the Anishinabek peoples of the Curve Lake and Lake Scugog areas did before us.  Let us willingly take up the challenge.  Miigwech.  Thank you.

PRAYER OF APPROACH (Responsively)

We come before you this morning Lord                                                                  .

            Because we are God’s children.

We come to hear your word through the reading of Scripture because

            We are God’s children.

We come to sing to your glory through our hymns of praise because

            We are God’s children.

I have come to share my thoughts with you.

May you find something in this message that will help you in your daily lives.  Amen.

HYMN: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” VU # 232 (Words: Henry Van Dyke, public domain)            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD4B9Q6nTo0

Joyful, joyful we adore you, God of glory, life and love;

hearts unfold like flowers before you, opening to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the gloom of doubt away;

giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

All your works with joy surround you, earth and heaven reflect your rays,

stars and angels sing around you, centre of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,

chanting bird and flowing fountain, sound their praise eternally.

You are giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,

wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!

Source of grace and fount of blessing, let your light upon us shine;

teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began;

God’s own love is reigning o’er us, joining people hand in hand.

Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife;

joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life.

DEDICATION OF OFFERING

Your gifts have been given in many ways.  And now we are dedicating them to the work of this church.  Let us pray.  Heavenly One.  Generous One.  Our offerings have been received.  Some by cheque or cash or electronic means.  Some by PAR.    Yes, all that we have is a trust from you.  And we share it back to those who are less fortunate than we are.  We share it back to this church, Dunsford United.  We share it back so that we can carry on your work.  Bless the givers.  Whether their gifts are monetary.  Or of their time.  Or of their talents.  Bless this church family.  Guide us in the best use of our resources so that the most people and projects can benefit from our sharing.  Amen.    

SCRIPTURE:  New Testament: 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 8a 

            This is a reading that you have probably become familiar with because you have heard it many times at weddings.  These are the Apostle Paul’s words to the people in the Greek town of Corinth.

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

2 John 3-6

            This letter is generally thought to be another written by John, the apostle, but there is no confirmation of that.  Scholars date it to sometime between 85 and 95 years A.D.  The whole book or letter is only 13 verses long and the first verse tells us it was written to a lady and her children.  Perhaps this was a lady of high social standing, or, it may be a code referring to the local church and it’s congregation.  In those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded salutations were often used.

3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

REFLECTION: “Life – Love = Zero”

            Love!  There are so many different kinds of love.  It’s a challenge to come up with a complete definition.  There’s the love you have for your life partner and your children.  For your best friend, your bff, your best buddy.  That love for each of them is a little different in each relationship.  Then there’s my love of pralines and cream ice cream.  My love of sewing.  My love for wandering around junk shops.  And there’s a love of a pet.  Of travelling.  And on and on and on.  We all know the apostle John’s thoughts on love found in his gospel, chapter 3, verse 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.

            Now that’s a top quality definition of love.  Love to the nth degree.  One couldn’t love any one more than that.  To give up one of your children.  One that most of us would find hugely challenging to fulfill.  One that we hope we will never be asked to fulfill.  If push came to shove, I believe most of us would rather it be us than our children.

We know that as Christians we are definitely asked to love.  Actually we are required, even commanded, to love.

            You know the first, indeed, the greatest commandment that we find in the gospels of Matthew and Mark.  One of Jesus’ teachings to the Pharisees, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  And then he followed that doozy up with a second one.  One that perhaps might be even more challenging than the first one, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.

            Boy oh boy!  And that even included the neighbours that let their dogs do their business in your yard.  Do we have our work cut out for us!

            I found this story about how a group of workers put this ‘love thing’ into action.  It was written by Paul Andrew.  And these are his words: ‘A story came across my desk recently about a man who worked for the Post Office.  This man’s job was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses that their computer scanning system could not decipher.

            One day a letter came to his desk addressed in shaky handwriting to God.  He thought he should open it to see what it was about.  He opened it and read these words: Dear God, I am a 91 year old widow, living on a very small pension.  Yesterday someone stole my purse.  It had $100 in it which was all the money I had left until my next pension cheque.  Next Sunday is Christmas and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner.  Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with.  I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope.  Can you please help me?   Sincerely, Edna.

            The postal worker was touched.  He showed the letter to his fellow workers.   Each of them dug into their pockets and came up with a few dollars.  By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96 which was put into an envelope and sent to the woman.  The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow for the kindness that they had done.

            Christmas came and went.  A few days later, another letter came from the old lady addressed to God.  All of the workers gathered around while the letter was opened.  It read: Dear God.  How can I ever thank your enough for what you did for me?  Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends.  We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift.  By the way, there was $4 missing.  I think it must have been those crooks at the Post Office.  Sincerely, Edna.

            We just heard Edna’s story.  Now let me introduce you to Pandy.  At one time she had been perfect.  She had been a Christmas gift to a little girl.  A rag doll that was loved by her owner.  Over the years Pandy grew a little worse for wear.  So much so, that if she was offered to someone, they probably wouldn’t have taken her.  But the little girl still loved her.  Loved her as much in her raggedness as she did on the day Pandy was brand new and perfect.

            And now we meet Janus.  I am a household slave in Simon’s home.  This was a busy day for everyone.  My master had invited a man home to have lunch with him and his family so we all had to be very attentive. 

            I should tell you that my master thought a lot of himself.  In his opinion, he was a good man.  Maybe even perfect.  Above others.  In his opinion he was a God fearing man.

            Everything was going smoothly.  The group was reclining around the meal.  I was standing at my station ready to jump if beckoned.  And then the unthinkable happened.  I just stood there staring.  A woman had entered the eating area.  A woman that we all knew.  Knew her as Pandy.  A woman with a bad reputation.  She was, shall I say, very friendly with lonely men.

            Of course, she was uninvited.  Her arrival sent everyone into a tizzy.  Everyone, except the guest of honour.  I think I heard them call him Jesus.  He seemed unperturbed, even accepting of the woman.

            I know that Pandy had had a tough life.  She had lost her reputation years ago.  A large part of her virtue had disappeared.  Yes, she had had the stuffing knocked out of her.  We all knew her history.  At one time she had been a good looking girl.  Years ago she had been someone’s innocent little girl.  She had had great dreams for her future.  But those days were long gone.  It had been a very long time since we’d seen her in public with respectable company.  People were always staring at her and whispering about her behind her back.

            I guess that knowing about Pandy and her history made it even more shocking to see her standing there at Jesus’ feet.  She even dared to look into Jesus’ eyes.  Do you know what she saw there?  Love!  Love for her!  Jesus loves her!

            And then she took out a bottle of perfume that she had brought with her.  Now, I’ve seen perfume poured on people’s heads, but once again Pandy surprised me.  As she knelt there, tears came to her eyes.  Was she thinking of the little girl that she used to be?  Was she thinking of how she’d made the money to buy the perfume?  Was she thinking of who she had become instead of who she had dreamed of becoming?

            She poured her expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.  That’s right – on his feet.   Not on his head.  And as the tears rolled down her cheeks, they dropped onto the man’s feet and mixed in with the perfume.

            And then she did something that even gave me more of a surprise.  SHE LET DOWN HER HAIR!  That’s right – she let down her hair.  No respectable woman would ever dare to do that in public!  Only in the privacy of her home.  Never had I seen a sight like this!  But I guess she had done it many times in her working life.

            But this felt different.  It felt like she was humbling herself before this man.  Showing her love for this man by using her long hair to dry his feet.  His feet, which she had bathed and anointed.

            I thought my master would lose his cool, but he was speechless, perhaps waiting for Jesus to rebuke her for all the sins of her life.  But, to everyone’s surprise, that didn’t happen.  Instead, he gently took a round out of my master.  Now that was a jaw dropper!  Simon hadn’t provided water for the washing of Jesus’ feet.  Serious social faux-pas!  Did Simon think he was too good to do that for a wandering teacher?  Pandy had done it with her tears no less.  My master had not welcomed him with a kiss.  Another faux-pas!  Pandy could not stop kissing Jesus’ feet.  My master had not offered even an inexpensive olive oil for his refreshment.  Pandy had brought an expensive perfume.

            Now over the years, I had watched my master develop a sense of moral and spiritual superiority.  He felt he didn’t need forgiveness.  That he could do no wrong.  He had lost the sense that he, too, was ragged in many ways.  His heart had become more unloving and unlovely than the hearts of the ragged people, the sinners that he despised.

            But Pandy knew her true self.  And she knew that Jesus knew this too.  And she knew that he still loved her.  And, even more importantly, that even with all of her fault, all of her raggedness, Jesus was willing and eager to forgive her.

            The last thing I heard Jesus say before I had to clear away the meal was ‘She may be a rag doll, but she’s my rag doll.  Love me; love my rag dolls.’

            We’re all rag dolls.  A little the worse for wear.  Some of us more so than others.  It is our duty to love all of the other rag dolls as we want to be loved.  I believe that’s called the Golden Rule.

            Learning to love unselfishly is not easy.  It sometimes seems the opposite to what we’d like to do.  But we keep trying.  We have a lifetime to get it right.  When we see an opportunity to help, we know we should act.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Sometimes we help.  Sometimes we don’t.  We are raggedy!

            Loving others should be our top priority.  It’s not just a good part of our life.  It’s the most important part.  The apostle Paul considered himself bankrupt if he did not have love.  It didn’t matter what he said, what he believed, or what he did.  If he didn’t have love he had nothing.  His life was worthless.

            Healthy relationships depend on love.  They are not something to be squeezed into a busy life.  Like ‘finding time’ for family.  Choosing to work overtime instead of cheering a child on at a soccer game.  Or ‘making time’ for people in our lives.   

            Relationships are what life is all about.  God gave us 10 rules to build relationships.  Four of them deal with God.  The other 6 are how to live in right relationship with people.  And over and above these 10 commandments, Jesus gave us 2 more.  Two that more than trump the first 10.  They are our life’s purpose – to love God and to love others.

            It’s relationships based on love, not achievements or the acquisition of things, that are what matter the most in life.

            Busyness is a great enemy of relationships.  We become preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying the bills, accomplishing our goals.  These things appear to be the point of our life.  But they’re not.  The real point is learning to love.  Loving both God and people.  Rick Warren says ‘life minus love equals zero’.  I think he’s just paraphrasing what Paul was saying.

            I have a little story also from Rick Warren.  These are Mr. Warren’s words: ‘I have been at the bedside of many people in their final moments, when they stand on the edge of eternity.  I have never heard anyone say ‘Bring me my diplomas!  I want to look at them one more time.  Show me my awards, my medals, that gold watch I was given’.  When life on earth is ending, people don’t surround themselves with objects.  What we want around us is people – people we love and have relationships with.  In our final moments we all realize that relationships are what life is all about.  Wisdom is learning that truth sooner rather than later.  Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to figure out that nothing matters more.’

            Love: a very positive 4 letter word.  Maybe it should always be written in capital letters and underlined.  No wonder poetry is written around it.  Songs are sung about it.  Chick flicks are based on it.  Love is all around us.  Let it be in our hearts.  And let our actions reflect the love that God has for us and the love that we have for all of God’s children.  Let us be a mirror of our Saviour.

            And all God’s raggedy children said…Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE and LORD’S PRAYER:  

Let us pray.  

Precious Lord, when we pray to you it is usually because we want something.  We want something to happen or something to stop happening.

This morning I want to begin this prayer by giving you thanks.  You have given us so many things to be thankful for.  And so many of them we take for granted.

Thank you for our Canada, a wonderful place to live.  Yes, sometimes we moan and groan about our country, but most of us wouldn’t change it for any other country.  We are free from war, from tyranny, from fear.  We have a great health care system.  We have a democratic society.  We are free to hold elections and have the freedom to vote our conscience.  Canada is great.  You, Lord, are great.

Thank you for this area of Ontario.  An area where farmers are reaping the bounty of their planting.  The wheat is harvested.  The second cut of hay is in the process of being gathered.  Huge round bales of straw are awaiting transport to the shelters.  The corn and soy beans are developing.  We thank the farmers for their dedication to feeding Ontario and further abroad.  We thank you, Great One, for making this possible.

We thank you for this church family.  The connections we have.  The relationships that have grown.  The feelings of working together for a cause.  Of being able to share your word and your teachings by our words and actions.  Thank you God for being with us as we follow your will.

Amid all of the wonderful things that you have given to us, there are problems in this world.  Areas that are far from perfect.  And, these too, we bring to you.

I ask you to be with the citizens of Afghanistan.  As we all know, the last of the American troops are leaving the country, and the Taliban is moving in to take over the country.  Thousands of people are trying to leave to be able to live in a safe society.  The Afghan translators and anyone associated with the NATO forces fear for their lives and the lives of their families.  I ask that you guide them safely out of the dangerous situation that they are in.  Keep the women and children safe.

I ask that you be with the people of Haiti.  Nature has run rampant again in their nation.  An earthquake followed by two tropical depressions verging on hurricanes.  Be with the families of the over 2,000 people that have lost their lives due to these natural disasters.  Be with those that have lost everything they own.  Be with the 1,000’s that are injured.  Be with those that are doing their best to give support during this crisis.

Here in Canada, be with those people that have willingly put their names forward to run in our federal election.  Help us keep an open mind and listen to their platforms.

It is up to us, the voters, to make informed and unbiased decisions at the polling stations.

And here in our church family, we ask you to hold (names)

in your strong arms so that they can feel your love working in their life.  

At this time we bring our own concerns to you.  Concerns that are too personal to even share with those around us.  In this silence we life up our pains and hurts to you…

Wonderful One, we thank you for all that we have.  And, we boldly ask you to hear the problems of our heart.

All this we pray in the name of your Precious Son, Jesus, the Christ.  Amen

HYMN: “Jesus Loves Me” VU # 365 (Words: v. 1 Anna Bartlett Warner, v 2 & 3 David Rutherford McGuire)        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD1_CPqJusg

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so;

little ones to him belong, in his love we shall be strong.

Refrain:          Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!

                        Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me, this I know, as he loved so long ago,

taking children on his knee, saying, ‘Let them come to me.’  Refrain

Jesus loves me still today, walking with me on my way,

wanting as a friend to give light and love to all who live.  Refrain

SMILE: I have a smile to share with you that I feel follows our theme of love.  I hope you will agree with me.

            A four year old girl was at the pediatrician’s office for a check-up.  As the doctor looked into her ears with an otoscope, he asked, ‘Do you think I’ll find Big Bird in here?’

            The little girl stayed silent.

            Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat.  He asked, ‘Do you think I’ll find the Cookie Monster down there?’

            Again the little girl was silent.

            Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest.  As he listened to her heart beat, he asked ‘Do you think I’ll hear Barney in here?’

            ‘Oh, no!’ the little girl replied.  

‘Jesus is in my heart.  Barney’s on my underpants.’

BLESSING: Mother Theresa spoke these words of commissioning:

‘It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters’

And, as you leave here this morning, may you take the love of God with you and share it with all that you meet.  May they see God’s love in you and your words and your actions.  Amen.

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

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

dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

Visit our new website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com 


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