Dunsford United Church Bulletin – September 5, 2021

Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman

CALL TO WORSHIP

Holy Spirit we thank you for being with us as we have worshipped virtually.

Holy Spirit we welcome you once more into our hearts and minds.

Holy Spirit we worship you today with hope filled hearts that we may once more praise you together in body as well as spirit.

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”

OPENING PRAYER

We pray to you, O God,

Who loves us

Forgives us

Sustains us

Walks with us.

Keep calling us even when we close our eyes and cover our ears.  

Keep dragging our reluctant feet and opening our closed fists. 

So that we may keep becoming.

CHRIST CANDLE

Light of Christ, bring your healing touch to the world, to our community, to our hearts.

THE 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,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever.

Amen

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.

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.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

Old Testament Reading Proverbs 22: 1-2, 8-9, 22-23

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

    and favor is better than silver or gold.

The rich and the poor have this in common:

    the Lord is the maker of them all.

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,

    and the rod of anger will fail.

Those who are generous are blessed,

    for they share their bread with the poor.

Do not rob the poor because they are poor,

    or crush the afflicted at the gate;

23 

for the Lord pleads their cause

    and despoils of life those who despoil them.

The Gospel Lesson Mark 7:24-37 (NRSV)

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith 

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir,[b] even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus Cures a Deaf Man

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus[c] ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

HYMN: MV #62 “There is Room For All” (Words: Bruce Harding)

There is room for all in the shadow in God’s wing;

There is room for all, sheltered in God’s love.

And I rejoice and sing, “My refuge and my rock, in whom I trust.”

There is room for all, there is room for all!

REFLECTION

The Gospel lesson this week led me to ponder mothering. We witness a conversation between a Syrophoenician woman and Jesus. This story is written in both the gospel of Mark which we read today and is also recorded in Matthew 15:21-28. The woman in this gospel story came from the area near Tyre and Sidon, north of Galilee. These were notoriously ungodly cities. The people who lived there were Gentiles. 

While Jesus was there a woman approached him crying out to him to heal her daughter, who was possessed by a demon.

Jesus ignored her.

When she kept crying after him, his disciples suggested that he do something about it since she was making a scene, and they knew he wanted some peace and quiet.

He replied that he was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and this woman was a Gentile.

But the woman persisted. She could not be quieted. She threw herself in a pitiful heap at his feet crying out, “Lord, help me!”.

Finally he acknowledged her and he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.“‘

But the mother responded to his rebuff saying, “True, Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”.

Impressed, and pleased at her faith and persistence, Jesus granted her wish – ‘Be it done for you as you desire’. And the woman’s child was cured of her dreadful affliction.

This is a great story of a mother’s love. The Syrophoenician woman was willing to do whatever it took, even if it meant rejection and humiliation, to save her child from suffering.

This story takes place shortly before the crucifixion and resurrection. A time when Jesus would suffer rejection and humiliation to save us, God’s children.

In this story there are things we know and things that remain a mystery. We know that this woman wasn’t part of the “in crowd”. She wasn’t supposed to talk to Jesus let alone ask favours of him. Not only was she a gentile, she was a woman. We know that she passionately loved her daughter and possessed courage, faith and persistence. Her love and courage conquered her fear and shame as she persistently asked Jesus for help. She threw herself before him begging for help for the child she so desperately loved. This woman had faith that Jesus would ultimately be there for her. We don’t know what the demon that possessed her daughter was. Was the girl in anguish physically or mentally? We also don’t know the age of the daughter. Was she a girl, a teenager, or a full-grown woman herself? A mother is always a mother regardless of the age of her child. 

While I think it is important to remember that the speaker was a woman in this story for contextual and historical reasons, I believe it also serves us to simply see her as a parent. Hopefully, we have all been either the giver or receiver of parental love at some point in our lives and can relate to this woman. Surely, seeing the recent video footage of Afghans handing their children over barriers to the Allied troops in an effort to save them, reminds us of how sacrificing and passionate parental love can be. 

September can be a very poignant month for parents. I taught kindergarten for many years and nothing separates the JK parents from the SK parents quite like the first day of school. Most parents of senior kindergarten children are seasoned professionals by this time, dropping their kids off at the kindergarten playground with a quick kiss and a friendly wave to me. The parents of junior kindergarten children usually struggled to leave and were often quite persistent themselves in prolonging the good-byes and offering me suggestions and asking questions. And we go through this cycle many times in our lives. The first time your baby has a sleepover, the first day of school, the first day of summer camp, the first time your child takes the car out independently, their first day at a summer or part-time job, the day they move away for school or move in with a partner. These are all times when our child is separated from us and it is unsettling.

Recently my husband and I have felt untethered and unsettled. For the past two years, we have been parents to adult children living in our family home. Sure they had left before, but that had been for school and we always had in the back of our minds that they would probably be returning. Quite frankly we enjoyed their times away, less shoes in the entryway, less loads of laundry and showers to be scheduled, and the grocery bill would be cut in half! We left their bedrooms intact and their boxes in the basement and shed. For the past two weeks they have been preparing to really move out and then actually doing it. My husband calls it the season of “liquidating” as one more box goes into a car for moving or donation. Like the woman, I have thrown myself before Jesus, begging for help not just for myself but for my children during this time of transition. And just like in the story, we have felt his healing hand. The love of God has guided us through a potentially volatile time full of big feelings, by providing us with her calming grace and compassionate gaze.  It doesn’t matter if we are separated in time from Jesus. We can still know him. He is always here for us. 

How many other people right now need to feel the healing hand of Jesus? We need to know that God is our Creator and Parent who loves us persistently, courageously and rewards our faith. Whether our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or young people in general, are heading back to school or out into the world, at times we will feel like outsiders. They will present us with challenges and difficulties. There will always be transitions. Our roles will always be morphing into something new but equally important. It is important to know that we are not alone. We can always just ask Jesus, “Help me”. And we can show courage. Perhaps courage looks like recommending an affirming congregation to a young queer person moving away from home. Perhaps courage looks like having hard, truthful discussions in our homes around Orange Shirt Day and Pink Shirt Day. Perhaps courage looks like asking your teenager about antiracist happenings at their high school.  Perhaps courage looks like greeting a parent with a cup of coffee as they courageously drop their child off at school for the first time this year. Perhaps courage looks like bringing a cup of coffee to the door of a parent who has elected to homeschool during this time or who has a child for whom school is not a safe place to be right now. A dear friend showed courage yesterday when she and her husband looked on with love as their daughter joined her hands with the waiting hands of her groom. Transitions my friends!

There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. We are being called to be that village. We are called to be that global village, that Canadian village and that village in our own community.

Ultimately, the gospel lesson today is a lesson of love. A deep, sacrificing, courageous, love. The kind of love that is bestowed on all of us as the beloved children of God. 

HYMN: MV #141 “We Are All One People” (Words: Joseph Naytowhow and Cheryl L’Hirondelle)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeFRLiokO-k

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

As students return to school

Loving God, we ask your blessing on the parents and caregivers of these students

as they return to school.

Parenting and caregiving requires different time and effort in pandemic times.

We thank you for those who give pride of place to their children’s education.

Parenting and caregiving requires patience in pandemic times.

We thank you for those who persevere when concentration is hard to come by.

Parenting and caregiving is a struggle in pandemic times.

We thank you for teachers who go the extra mile for their students.

And as we approach a new school year, Loving God,

we thank you for parents and caregivers who support their children as they return to the classroom, virtually at home or in person.

We thank you for friendships renewed and new contacts made.

We thank you for teachers met and opportunities shared.

We thank you for the learning that will happen and the life skills

that will be tried and tested.

Loving God, in this new school year we ask your blessing on these parents and caregivers, in the name of Jesus who cared compassionately for children.

Amen

David Sparks

BENEDICTION

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

CHORAL CLOSING: “Go Now In Peace” (Words: Don Besig and Nancy Price)

Go Now in Peace – EMC Vesper Choir – YouTube

Go now in peace, never be afraid God will go with you each hour of every day.

Go now in faith steadfast, strong and true.  Know he will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love and show you believe. Reach out to others so all the world can see.

God will be there watching from above. Go now in peace, in faith and in love.

Amen, Amen, 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


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