Bulletin – November 21, 2021
Reign of Christ
Rev. Anne Hepburn
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
We light this candle to remind ourselves that we are in sacred space and Christ is with us.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT 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: VU #651 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
CALL TO WORSHIP
Friends, people of God, we gather on this glorious day to worship.
It is the last Sunday before we begin to celebrate Advent.
We call this day Reign of Christ Sunday.
It’s a little like New Year’s Eve.
We take time to reflect on who Christ was, is and will always be.
So, let’s settle in and pray.
God our leader, we give you thanks for guiding with compassion and sensitivity.
For the sake of this confusing mixed-up world,
we turn to you as monarch, wise and concerned for your people.
May all your beloved ones experience the wonder of blessed wholeness.
Let your light shine into obscured places.
Let hope echo into empty valleys.
Let possibility unfold into new life.
In the name of the reigning Christ we pray. Amen
Written by Laura Turnbull Gatherings 2021, p.47, used with permission.
HYMN: VU #330 “Jesus Shall Reign”
You are the source of all things
You are the beginning and end.
You are the great “I am”
And we are blessed in knowing you.
God of all things, we ask for your help.
We ask for your wisdom
We ask for your compassion
so that we might be compassionate and wise as we help in your world.
May it be this way by your Grace, loving God. Amen
Written by Richard Bott Gatherings 2021 p.47, used with permission.
While we can’t take up the offering as we used to, we very much appreciate your generosity.
Let us pray.
Gracious God we bring forward our gifts to serve your church in the world.
Bless them we ask that they might further the kingdom of Christ in the wider community. Amen
FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: How would we know if the world was better because of (the reign of) Christ?
Old Testament 2 Samuel 23:1-7 David’s last words glorify God.
23 Now these are the last words of David:
The oracle of David, son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man whom God exalted,[a]
the anointed of the God of Jacob,
the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:
2 The spirit of the Lord speaks through me,
his word is upon my tongue.
3 The God of Israel has spoken,
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God,
4 is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
5 Is not my house like this with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
Will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?
6 But the godless are[b] all like thorns that are thrown away;
for they cannot be picked up with the hand;
7 to touch them one uses an iron bar
or the shaft of a spear.
And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.[c]
New Testament Revelation 1:4b-8 I am the Alpha and the Omega
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
7 Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
HYMN: MV #135 “Called By Earth and Sky”
MESSAGE: “What is ROC?”
A little story to start with…
Little child sees a manger and a doll who is supposed to be Baby Jesus.
Says to his mom- “that’s sweet little bad word”
Puzzled, she says “what do you mean?”
Well Aunty said his name was a bad word when she stubbed her toe and I heard her say it.
It’s context driven isn’t it? Jesus Christ as a swear word is on the rude scale. Profoundly so to some and barely a blip to others! I should say that while it isn’t one of MY usual curses I hear it a lot and even from other clergy…
Which leads me to say that there is a lot of religion these days on the streets and in the world from all the mention of God and Jesus- wink wink!
When my kids were little one of my brothers taught them a variety of swear words and encouraged them to practise!
I didn’t want them to get in trouble because an adult taught them naughty language so I explained that there were places where those words were ok and places where they were not. They were very astute about which grandma they could say them to and which they couldn’t and lots of other situations!
Spoiler alert-My mother was totally ok with it- my husband’s step mother-not so much
Context was and is everything…
You know how companies have different year ends?
Schools also have different new years and year ends.
And Chinese new year’s was in Feb .
What is ROC?
Here we are at the end of the church year…
So as we look at the meaning of today we take into consideration the difference between today and Christmas. We all know that we celebrate Christmas as the birth of the holy child Jesus.
But today is the reign of Christ which is different.
And it doesn’t fall at the end of Dec- it ends when we get ready to celebrate the beginning of Advent.
Today is Reign of Christ- the day when we consider what the world should be like when Christ returns and we are all acting like faithful people. To a certain extent this is about the return of Christ- the second coming.
But more than that- much more is the kind of world that Jesus would have us in- a world where the injustices he railed against were gone and all people were valued and treated fairly.
It is the world where marginalized people would be accorded the same treatment as the people in power.
Where indigenous people would be treated as equally as colonizers.
Where LGBTQ folks would never fear for their lives and retain the freedom to be in authentic relationships.
Where the seas and land would be cared for much as they were created to provide for us.
Where over-fishing, clear cutting lumber, over-mining, over-hunting would stop and the natural world would be safer and more able to generate what is needed rather than wanted for profit.
Where the economy (capitalism) would not lead to poverty for some and extreme wealth for others.
Where children would be cared for and never abused.
Where health care and food were equally available and fairly distributed.
Where politics would not lead to famines and bloodshed.
If I could stress one thing-
Reign of Christ is not about being perfect people-
We are fallible and as human beings we are prone to making mistakes and being upset or angry about things, issues, relationships etc
The real difference for us in thinking about ROC is that we would be more able to own and repent of our mistakes and ill deeds.
And being honourable about making things right again.
Apologizing, making restitution as needed.
That is the kind of world that ROC signifies.
But I think we should not wait for Christ to return.
We have a lot to do to make this world a more Christlike world and smaller community.
This month I did something I needed to do for a while.
True story – uncomfortable but important:
My husband’s mom died in 1981 at the age of 60. It was a premature death and very distressing because to my way of thinking it shouldn’t have happened. She had a heart attack and was gone.
My Father in law was devastated. He was not quite 60 himself though so life goes on.
He met a widow and started courting her about 9 months later. We were happy for him because he was too young to be alone and lonely.
I was never her biggest fan but I was not about to say anything.
They got married in 1982 and life continued on.
They had about 8 good years before my FIL got sick. He died in 1990 leaving her a widow again.
The details are not important but as time went on a rift started to develop between her and my husband’s family. The relationship got ruptured completely about 10 years ago and there has been little contact since. My husband does stay connected with her son which has been quite amicable.
His siblings really have no interest in staying connected and in some ways I really don’t blame them. Lots happened that shouldn’t have and it has caused a lot of hard feelings on both sides I am sure.
BUT last week she turned 100.
We got in touch with her son and asked if any celebrations were planned.
Apparently she is pretty frail and confused so he said there would be a very small gathering of him, his wife and his sister who was flying in from Colorado. He said they would not expect us to show up but we would be welcome if we decided to.
My daughter went in last Wed with her partner and baby; thrilling the sister and possibly confusing her mom even more. They had a good and relaxed visit and were really appreciated.
I went the next day on the actual birthday and got a hero’s welcome. It was kind of embarrassing to be honest but felt pretty happy that I made the effort. I had been feeling really uncomfortable since we had not had a visit in so long and wondering if I was wrong to not visit for so long.
My thinking on this has evolved over the past years and week.
Both families made mistakes.
Both families were wrong in some ways and stubborn in others.
But my birth family has never been one to cut people off and I think that is where my husbands’ siblings might have gotten into a way of thinking that was both rigid and reactive.
To be fair to them, despite the silence, they have gone to serious efforts to honour their fathers wishes and I very much admire that.
Nothing has really changed but now the step MIL is frail and confused. She is lonely and alone.
She can hardly be enjoying a good quality of life. Confined to a wheelchair she can barely look up.
She who loved pretty things and generous space, is limited to a small bedroom suite with a tight footprint.
So now my thinking is that she may have alienated people but at 100, perhaps we should let that go. She is in no position to reverse her earlier mistakes now. I have noticed that she is vulnerable and needy and my role now is to be a kind visitor.
I don’t have to- I know that. But I feel strongly that to make her world a better place, to move towards the kingdom of God, it is what I should do.
My challenge to you is to find a small corner of your lives where you can do something similar.
We are all in this imperfect world together and I think we all can do something to reflect the quality of kingdom of God. May it be so.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We swore an oath to you O Lord, but with our actions we do not follow through.
We close our eyes each night but our minds do not sleep; they wander with thoughts of temptation.
We judge each other but Jesus tells us to judge no one.
We move through shadows but with Jesus in our lives we could live in the light.
We confess to you almighty God that we as humans are not perfect in how we treat our neighbours, how we treat ourselves and how we treat creation.
We turn now to your patience, understanding and forgiveness and open our minds and hearts to you in silent prayers of confession.
Written by Scott Martin Gatherings 2021 p. 47, used with permission.
2 minutes silence
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Our Gracious God sent us his only child, who is the light in the world, who turns shadows into bright rays of sunshine, putting smiles on our faces. Let our spirits receive your word and our hearts listen to Jesus’ wisdom. Let us praise the God of grace and God of glory and remain faithful always.
COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING
Go out to the world as Christ would have you to serve others with renewed appreciation for his wisdom and example. And as you go may the love of God be with you always.
CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfJkBE0Gw70