DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH – Bulletin Sunday, October 17, 2021

World Food Day Service Highlighting Mission & Service

Worship service provided by United Church of Canada

Worship Leader: Christena-Lynn Erglis

* GATHERING MUSIC: VU #299 “Teach Me, God, to Wonder”

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.

CALL TO WORSHIP

We gather on sacred ground 

on the rich earth that nourishes us

under the great awning of sky that replenishes us 

to once again listen to the voice

that warms our hearts say, 

“Come, follow me.”

HYMN:  VU #592 “Come, Now, You Blessed” (Words: Ruth Duck)

‘Come, now, you blessed, eat at my table,’ said the great judge to the righteous above.

‘When I was hungry, thirsty and homeless, sick and in prison you showed me your love.’

‘When did we see you hungry or thirsty? When were you homeless, a stranger alone?

When did we see you sick or in prison? What have we done that you call us your own?’

‘When you gave bread to earth’s hungry children, when you gave welcome to war’s refugees,

when you remembered those most forgotten, you cared for me in the smallest of these.’

Christ, when we meet you out on life’s roadways, looking to us in the faces of need,

then may we know you, welcome, and show you love that is faithful in word and in deed.

OPENING PRAYER

God,

the stories of our faith remind us that you are manna from heaven and water from rock.
You are the miracle of the loaves and fish.
You are our Bread of Life.
In this hour, fill us up with your Holy Word. Energize us with your songs.
Make us thankful, aware, and inspired:
thankful for the universe that feeds us,
aware that food is a sacred gift given to all and yet still withheld from many,
and inspired enough to make a difference.

Amen.

CHILDREN’S TIME (adapted by C.L. Erglis):

Do you have a favourite grace?  Is there one you and your family say at every meal?  I think everyone knows the first verse of Johnny Appleseed.  Here are the three verses:

Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need;
The sun and the rain and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me, Johnny Appleseed!

Oh, and every seed I sow, Will grow into a tree.  And someday there’ll be apples there,
for everyone in the world to share. Oh, the Lord is good to me, Johnny Appleseed!

Oh, the earth is good to me, and so I thank the earth, for giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed. The earth is good to me, Johnny Appleseed!

When we pause to say grace, we are reminded how fortunate we are to eat. Not everyone in the world has enough to eat. As a church, we try to help those among us who don’t have enough to eat. Generous people from across the whole church give money to Mission & Service, and thanks to that money, we help feed people among us who are hungry, teach people how to grow their own food, give people skills to get jobs so they can pay for food, and support things like community gardens all across Canada and around the world.

The United Church of Canada developed Gifts with Vision in response to member requests to be able to give gifts to relatives, friends, and loved ones that are in direct support of the church’s Mission & Service partners.

Each of the organizations in the catalogue is a Mission & Service partner.

Operation Backpack gives children food every Friday so they get enough to eat over the weekend and are ready to learn on Monday.

Food for the North makes sure families living in northern Manitoba, where groceries are very expensive, eat healthy food.

Saying grace reminds us that food is a sacred gift from God, and everyone has a right to eat well. Through our Mission & Service, we try to make sure everyone can eat the wonderful food that comes from our Creator God.

If you have given to Mission & Service or to a Mission & Service project, thank you!

HYMN: VU #552 “For Food in a World” (Words: Manfred Wester)

For food in a world where many walk in hunger, for friends in a world where many walk alone, for faith in a world where many walk in fear, we give you thanks, O God.

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Isaiah 58:9b11: If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Psalm: Psalm 136 (VU p. 857):  Introduction: Jewish friends refer to Psalm 136 as “the Great Hallel,” and it is traditionally recited during the Passover meal. It speaks of God as the creative power that redeems and sustains us, not only delivering us in difficult times but also blessing us with food and life. For centuries, it has been adapted into forms of grace spoken before meals. Let us speak with gratitude. 

We give thanks unto you, O God of might: for your love is never ending.

We give thanks unto you, the God of gods: for your love is never ending.

In your wisdom and love you shaped the skies: for your love is never ending.

You spread out the earth upon the sea: for your love is never ending.

You have filled all the skies with glory and light: for your love is never ending.

The sun for the day and moon for night: for your love is never ending.

From of old you have led your people in faith: for your love is never ending.

You have shown your compassion, strength and love. For your love is never ending.

You delivered the ones who called unto you: for your love is never ending.

From bondage to freedom, you brought them forth. For your love is never ending.

Matthew 13:19:  That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Sermon: Live Your Mission

Do you know what it’s like to put every ounce of ability and energy into something and have it flop miserably? Do you know what it’s like to do your best and find that your best just isn’t good enough? Do you know what it’s like to wait for something good in your life to grow and then wait…and wait…and wait?

That day when Jesus was sitting in the boat in the middle of the sea, he was speaking to a worn-out crowd that felt just like that. His followers had been working hard―really hard―to share the good news, but the message wasn’t sinking in. Here they were, going from town to town, sharing Jesus’ life-saving message that justice is attainable, that there are key values like kindness and generosity that, if lived out collectively, could save the world. Yet despite their important message, everywhere they went, they brushed up against people who were too preoccupied, too bored, too self-centred, or too stressed to listen. Each time a door slammed in their face, their discouragement ramped up. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Even though Jesus was sitting in the middle of the sea, it’s like he could see into the very hearts of those gathered that day. And in that calm, reassuring voice of his, he told them stories to help them understand themselves and make sense of their life. One of them was the parable of the sower:

Some seeds will fall on the path and the birds will eat them. Some will fall on rock and the sun will scorch them. Some will fall on thorns and be choked out. But some will fall on good soil and bear an unbelievable crop.

The Parable of the Sower was a pep talk of sorts. It wasn’t the kind you would hear in a locker room, though. It wasn’t about how great Jesus’ followers were or how they would succeed at every turn. It was realistic: Some of the work you do is going to feel like a waste of time. Some of it will even be sabotaged. But keep going. Because there will be success. Trust me. Live your mission.

This, friends, is a millennia-old message we still need to hear. Especially on World food Sunday.

690,000,000 people will go to bed hungry tonight. Think about that. 690,000,000 people aren’t asking, “What will we eat for dinner?” No. 690,000,000 people are asking, “Will we eat dinner?” And they ask that question night after night.

Hunger is so pervasive you’d think that the whole earth was made of dust. That no crops could grow anywhere. But we know there’s nothing wrong with Mother Nature; the problem lies in the choices we make for her.

Poverty, land grabbing, climate change, the commodification of food and water, conflict and political instability…. The causes of hunger are so complex, so intertwined, so systemic, it’s natural to wonder how you and I are really ever going to make a difference.

It’s like we are standing on that shore right along with Jesus’ disciples and there are problems as big as the sea itself in front of us.

And even Jesus is sitting there admitting that addressing hunger isn’t easy. He doesn’t sugar-coat the outcome of our work: some seeds just aren’t going to land where we need them to or create the results we want.

But, he says, some seeds will fall on good soil and the result will be phenomenal.

So live your mission.

Jesus got in the boat that day and rowed into the sea so he could look at the whole crowd at once, so his voice would carry across the water to each and every one of them, so they would take his parable to heart and hear him say: Live your mission.

Friends, one of the ways we live our mission as a United Church is by sharing what we have through our collective Mission & Service.

As a United Church we endorse the principles of food sovereignty: the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. We believe food is a sacred gift from God. Manna from heaven. No one should go hungry.

That’s why from coast to coast in Canada, our generosity supports community kitchens and meal programs, food cupboards, shelters, job training programs, community gardens, and healthy food programs. Internationally, we send food in times of crisis, distribute seeds, fund agricultural training programs and micro-lending programs, and support projects that help small-scale farmers access equipment they need and, in some instances, build infrastructure so they can transport their food to market. We work with partners like ACT Alliance and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to move beyond the charity model by helping to work toward long-term systemic change through respectful partnerships.

It’s true that we aren’t going to solve all the problems in the world, but for some people our support means the world.

You might remember a story the United Church’s Philanthropy Unit shared not long ago about a young Canadian named Jesse. When he was 12 years old, Jesse had a traumatic brain injury. His life instantly changed because his brain didn’t function the way it once did. By the time he was 17, Jesse had been hospitalized 32 times. Through the ups and downs, his mother took care of him. She was his rock. And then, sadly, three years ago she died of cancer. Without his mother, Jesse’s life spiralled out of control. Two years ago, he survived the painfully cold winter sleeping in a storage unit. Then he went to Stella’s Circle, a Mission & Service partner, where he was fed, received help to find a home, and is now completing a greenhouse technician college program. Today, Jesse is leading a new social enterprise that grows food for sale.

This, friends, is what happens when seeds of generosity fall on good soil.

Another story, this one stretching from Canada to Japan and then on to Kenya: In Kenya, more than 850,000 children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Some estimates are even higher. Emmanuel Baya, a farmer living in Magarini, Kenya, lost his parents when he was a child. So when he saw children looking for food under the cashew trees on his property, he felt a tug on his heart strings. To make a long story short, he opened a children’s centre and school for orphans. But he didn’t want to just nourish their bodies and minds, he also wanted them to be able to one day sustain themselves. And he knew he needed more skills to help. So he flew to the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, ARI for short. ARI is an agricultural training institute that teaches organic farming techniques and leadership skills and it is supported through your Mission & Service gifts. When he graduated from the program there, Emmanuel returned home and started an organic demonstration farm next to his school. Today, not only are the 287 children in his care learning how to grow food, but the farm is also serving seven neighbouring communities. Volunteers at the farm are also receiving agricultural training at ARI thanks to your support.

Mission & Service video featuring Emmanuel Baya

690,000,000 people may be going hungry tonight. But Jesse and Emmanuel and all the people in their communities that they support and the thousands of people that Mission & Service partners help aren’t among them.

That’s because they are amazing people, and they are supported by amazing people like you.

This is what happens when we live our mission.

Living God’s mission is like planting seeds―each seed contains the basic material needed to pull off a miracle. And like Jesus says, when they hit good dirt, miracles grow.

Thank you for your mission and service. Thank you for taking Jesus’ stories into your heart and letting them transform your lives. Thank you for standing on the shoreline like disciples have for millennia listening to the Parable of the Sower.

Now, let’s get to work planting seeds. Let’s live our mission.

Amen.

* HYMN: “Bringing in the Sheaves” (Words: David Rose, Public Domain)

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:  Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; by and by the harvest, and the labor ended, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.  Refrain

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master, though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves; when our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.  Refrain

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.

Our generosity matters. With God’s help, our offering makes a difference in peoples’ lives every day. Let us give generously as we worship God through sharing our gifts, tithes, and offerings.

* OFFERTORY HYMN: MV #191 “What Can I Do?”

What Can I do?  What Can I bring?  What can I say?  What can I sing? 

I’ll sing with joy. I’ll say a prayer.  I’ll bring my love.  I’ll do my share.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Generous God, we offer our gifts in response to your call to care. We offer them with gratitude and love, trusting that you will use them to feed bodies, minds, and hearts. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER

Creator God,
Bless farmers, fishers, gatherers, hunters, migrant workers…all agricultural workers here in Canada and around the world.
Bless those who transport, distribute, and prepare our food.
Bless those pouring their heart and soul into fostering and protecting clean water, healthy soil, and biodiversity.
Bless those advocating for safe, healthy, culturally appropriate food.
Bless those challenging systems that treat food as a commodity rather than a sacred right.
Bless those working hard to understand where their food comes from and to have a healthy relationship with it.
Bless those who share what they can so no one goes hungry.
Bless the breakfast programs, community kitchens, shared gardens, food banks, and agricultural training programs we support through Mission & Service.
Bless the Dunsford Community Food Bank, operating out of our church, and the volunteers;

Bless our home kitchens, our tables, and all who gather around them.
Bless us as we bow our heads in thanksgiving for your abundant grace.
Bless us now as we pray in the way of Jesus, saying, “Our father…”

* HYMN: VU #507 “Today We Are Called to Be Disciples” (Words: H. Ken Carmichael)

Today we all are called to be disciples of the Lord, to help to set the captive free,

make ploughshare out of sword, to feed the hungry, quench their thirst,

make love and peace our fast, to serve the poor and homeless first, our ease and comfort last.

God made the world and at its birth ordained our human race to live as stewards of the earth,             responding to God’s grace. But we are vain and sadly proud, we sow not peace but strife, our discord spreads a deadly cloud that threatens all of life.

Pray justice may come rolling down as in a mighty stream, with righteousness in field and town to cleanse us and redeem.  For God is longing to restore an earth where conflicts cease, a world that was created for a harmony of peace.

May we in service to our God act out the living Word, and walk the road the saints have trod till all have seen and heard.  As stewards of the earth may we give thanks in one accord to God who calls us all to be disciples of the Lord.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION

These words of commissioning come from 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Do it all for the glory of God.  And may God, who is our Creator, and Jesus Christ who is our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit who is our Sustainer inspire us to live our mission this day and forevermore. Amen.

POSTLUDE: MV #209 “Go, Make a Difference” (Words: Steve Angrisano)

Go make a dff’rence, we can make a diff’rence.  Go make a diff’rence in the world.

Go make a diff’rence we can make a diff’rence.  Go make a diff’rence in the world.

We are the salt in the earth, called to let the people see the love of God in you and me.
We are the light of the world, not to be hidden, but be seen.  Go make a diff’rence in the world.

Go make a dff’rence…

We are the hands of Christ, reaching out to those in need.  The face of God for all to see.  We are the spirit of hope; we are the voice of peace. Go make a diff’rence in the world.

Go make a dff’rence…

So let your love shine on, let it shine for all to see.  Go make a diff’rence in the world.
And the spirit of Christ will be with us as we go. Go make a diff’rence in the world.

Go make a dff’rence…

© 2021 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ca. Any copy must include this notice.

All biblical quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hymns were chosen by CL Erglis

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

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Tel: 705-793-2511   dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

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