DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH – Bulletin – Sunday Oct 3rd 2021 Worldwide Communion Day
Rev. Anne Hepburn
* GATHERING MUSIC: VU #220 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Instrumental)
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS
MUSICAL PRELUDE and LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS
We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was signed, on the lands where I am, and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect and reconciliation with all our relations.
HYMN: “MV #154 “Deep in our Hearts” (Words: John Oldham)
CALL TO WORSHIP
We are Canadian, Indigenous, Dutch, People of Colour, Scottish and so much more.
We may be proud of our heritage yet we are also brothers and sisters and siblings of Christ.
We join with all of Jesus’ followers so that we might share in this world communion Feast.
We eat and we are nourished. We drink and we are drawn into the great community of faith.
Written by Laura Turnbull, Gatherings 2021 p.40. Used with permission.
OPENING PRAYER/ASSURANCE/WORDS OF HOPE
God of every good gift, our table is laden with everything we might need.
There is nourishment for body and soul, and resources that will be used to nurture bodies, minds and souls, here and outside this community. May all of our offerings today be blessed for future service. Bless you God of abundance. Amen
Written by Laura Turnbull Gatherings 2021 p. 40. Used with permission.
Holy One, we delight in giving back and paying forward through our gifts and donations here today. Bless these gifts already given . Bless them abundantly for the benefit of whomever they serve, wherever they serve. Amen.
(Adapted) Jani Francis, St. Andrew’s U.C., Indian Head, Sask. Used with permission.
FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: Lunch box story
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
Job 1:1, 2:1-10 Jobs first affliction; faith intact.
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
2 On another day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 God gave the world to humans, not angels.
God’s Final Word: His Son
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Jesus Made Fully Human
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
7 You made them a little[a] lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
8 and put everything under their feet.”[b][c]
In putting everything under them,[d] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[e] Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.[f] 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.[g] 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”[h]
* HYMN: “For the Fruit of All Creation” VU #227 (Words: Fred Pratt Green)
MESSAGE: “Considering Job’s Afflictions“
Some of you may have heard about the book “When Bad things happen to Good People.” Written by a Rabbi in the USA, Harold Kushner, the book is dedicated to the memory of his son who died at the age of 14 of the rare genetic disease called Progeria.
His son’s death plunged Rabbi Kushner into deep turmoil about God’s role in preventing evil events in the world.
In many ways he identified with Job who we heard about in the reading today.
To start with Rabbi Kushner was a happy person with a wife and 2 children. A Rabbi with a solid congregation and excellent reputation.
That was before Aaron’s diagnosis of the disease which causes people to age rapidly & prematurely. While his son was alive and declining the issue of the unfairness of the disease probably did cause Kushner to query his expectations of life. And he was well placed to wrestle with the notion of good and evil, God and Satan, random bad luck and intentional wrong doing.
But 4 years after Aaron died, at the age of 14, (probably physically aged to the equivalent of 90 years old) he wrote this book reflecting upon and sharing the deep questions he had asked of himself.
I read it a long time ago and watched a video of him being interviewed as well. It was inspiring!
Turning to the story we read about Job, we encounter another character who is known for his faithfulness.
He is generous and wise, extremely wealthy and caring. A proud family man with many sons and daughters to whom he is close. Then as the story goes, Satan enters a meeting with God and the angels and dares God to let him (Satan that is) test Job.
Satan is sure that Job’s faithfulness with disappear once enough bad luck comes his way.
Supposedly God gives his blessing to this bizarre test and off Satan goes.
He inflicts all sorts of terrible events on Job.
But Job does not give up on his trust in God.
This includes parts of the 1st and second chapter only and I don’t want to jump the gun too much on the rest of the text.
Because it is a lot to unpack anyway.
Do you hear any parallels from my last sermon?
When I spoke about the extraordinary wife.
The competent woman who was so idealized that she could not be real?
The wife of a wealthy and powerful man.
She had servants and all sorts of resources with which to work.
Doesn’t Job sound like that?
The top 1%
The image of the socially powerful, perfect person?
That’s what I am hearing.
The person whose life looks so perfect
Who has it all
Does it all,
Until everything falls apart and they are left, sitting in misery, revealing who they truly are.
Faithful or unfaithful in their intimate relationships
Violent or caring to those same partners
Loving or neglectful to their children, coworkers, extended family..
A lot comes out when the barriers are down.
Who are they, really?
Truth be told there is a lot of cloudiness about the book of Job. No one really knows who wrote it, when or why. Why do they want someone’s misfortunes to appear to come from God? Why do they need to suggest that God and Satan are in a duel of sorts to resolve God’s power over people?
Because I find it strange that a writer has such a need to present this as The Word of God…sounds like a politician saying “I know what God would want!”
There might be a hidden agenda!
And yet it was placed in the OT as one of the wisdom texts,
alongside the wisdom of Solomon and the psalms of David.
We know that both Solomon and David were flawed human beings despite their noted leadership, musical and intellectual gifts.
So the inclusion of Job’s story throws shade, as they say these days on whole wisdom literature.
I think perhaps Job represents a metaphorical type of person. He is easily a compilation of all the people in the OT and humanity who ever lost their trust in God.
Who wondered if the chips were down because God forgot about them and let Satan into the playroom or school yard or business meeting.
I spoke a lot last time about the violence done to women and girls and the cultural and biblical influences. Today we need to look not just at the men and boys of the bible but also at those who have had reason to doubt God’s role in their lives.
And have we all not had our moments?
A broken relationship, a spell of deep loneliness, a bad accident, a terrible loss – anything can jar our confidence in the rightness of the world and by extension, in Gods’ role preventing evil to befall us.
Why should we be so complacent?
Bad luck exists…
As Kushner says in his book.
Gas explodes when ignited. It’s a chemical reaction.
Lightening strikes don’t know to avoid people.
Earthquakes are part of the natural world. So are tsunamis. They don’t have a conscience – they just happen – for relatively predictable reasons. And unfortunately humans are sometimes caught in the middle.
And we humans are mortal and while we do have consciences, we are prone to making mistakes.
Sometimes we just don’t know better
Sometimes we are lazy
Sometimes we actually don’t WANT to have to care and do all the right things.
Mostly we are fallible.
Because we are human. Not angels and definitely not God.
But as we also heard today that God gave the world to humans – not angels.
Angels by definition are considered to be pretty perfect. They don’t have to struggle to do the right thing.
They are not conflicted by right and wrong nor do they have to deal with choices. They simply are.
Us, not so much.
And so when Satan pours bad luck and disasters and thefts and deaths
upon on the Jobs of the OT their reaction is either to curse God or cry out in pain.
BUT… no one talks yet …about what he did to deserve it.
Or whether it was unfair-
Later they will.
And those who do are also part of the Job story.
How many time’s have you heard someone say something like
Well you must have done SOMETHING to deserve that –
Job loss or illness or accident….
Or, in the event that you have been deprived of something precious like a relationship or a meaningful career or children, been told that others who have it are blessed (by God) leaving you to feel unblessed or unloveable by God.
In such cases we see the other side of the JOB story.
All his friends lay the blame on him.
This is part of that toxic masculinity that the bible and our world seem full of.
When I was growing up my parents used to say “don’t kick someone who’s already down”.
I think back to that and how kind and wise they were (and their families too because that’s a life lesson that probably got taught to THEM too.)
Part of the JOB story is that. When someone’s had a terrible tragedy don’t pile on. Reach out a hand or supportive tweet.
Don’t tell them they deserve what they got.
Don’t add to the burden.
As we embark upon World Wide Communion, let us consider food scarcity and generalized hunger around the world. Whether because of climate change, political unrest or personal hardship, many people will be in need this season.
Let’s reach out towards our wider community with food and help for those who need help to feed their families.
No blame, no shame, just a helping hand to those who are asking.
SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
INVITATION TO COMMUNION
Come all who hunger and eat at this table.
Even though we can’t share a table together in the usual way we can still be strengthened by this holy meal.
We can find power in the breaking of bread and sharing the cup of blessing.
Let’s gather and join the feast of the ages.
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift them up to God
Let us give thanks to the lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed good and right to give you thanks and praise, O God of many names.
You made a covenant with Noah and caused nations, in their amazing diversity,
to spread over the face of the earth. As of old you led your people out of a land of enslavement to a land of promise, so, too, you led our ancestors, and some among us,
into new lands of possibility – there to find you anew.
In the fullness of time, you sent Jesus, in every aspect human as we are.
He grew up in a small town in Galilee, far from the seat of religious and civil power.
He spoke with a distinct accent.
He learned of the breadth of your grace from a Gentile mother.
Beside Jacob’s well, He was moved by an encounter with a minority woman and disclosed his messianic identity.
Therefore, with these and our other ancestors in the faith, both named and unnamed,
Who through the ages and all over the world have borne courageous witness to the hope within them, we praise you, singing:
Holy, holy, holy God,
Power of life and love!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna through the ages!
Blest is the One who comes to bring your justice to earth!
On the last night he spent with his friends, Jesus took an age-old tradition of his people
and transformed it into something new.
He took bread, staple food of his land, blessed and broke it, and gave it to those around him saying,
“Take, eat, this is my body, broken for you. Whenever you do this, remember me.”
After supper he took a cup of wine, common drink of his people, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink this, all of you, this is the new covenant in my blood.
Each time you do this, remember me.”
By remembering Jesus in this way now, we claim our common heritage as we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Send, O covenant God, your Holy Spirit upon us and what we do here,
that we and these gifts, empowered by your Spirit, may become signs of shalom
to one another and to all peoples of the earth.
Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours everywhere, now and forever.
(From Celebrate God’s Presence, p. 262-263. 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, the power, and the glory forever! Amen.
WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE
HYMN: “All Who Hunger” VU #460
COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING
CHORAL RESPONSE: MV #218 “May the Love of the Lord” Instrumental