Bulletin and Announcements for Jan. 8, 2023

Dunsford United Church

Sunday January 8, 2023 ~ Baptism of Jesus

Rev. Anne Hepburn

†= stand as you are able

† GATHERING MUSIC: VU #644 “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry”

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS (Unison):

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishinaabe /

Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was signed, 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

Come, people of God!

We come, called by God to be witnesses to the light.

With John the Baptizer,

With all the disciples,

With our sisters, brothers and siblings throughout the ages,

We gather to sing, to pray, to worship our God!

Allelulia,

Allelulia Amen!

Written by Richard Bott Gatherings 2022, p.41.  Used with permission.

OPENING PRAYER

Holy God, on this day when we share the story of the baptism of Jesus,

You once again call us to gather on the banks of the river Jordan.

May we, like John the Baptizer, be willing to follow Jesus into the living waters.

May we like John the Baptizer, humbly answer your call to serve.

May we like Jesus, receive your declaration of love.

May we delight in the renewing waters as we recall Jesus’ baptism.

Written by Dora White, Gatherings 2022, p. 41. Used with permission.

OFFERING

While we can’t take up the offering as we used to, we very much appreciate your generosity. Let us pray

OFFERTORY PRAYER

O God, in baptism, you claim us as your own.

We are a visible symbol of your ever-present love, a love we remember and give thanks for this day.

We now give you gifts to represent our love.

May the money and time we offer show our devotion and thanks to You.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: What does it mean to be a beloved child of God?

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Old Testament Isaiah 42:1-9 God’s servant brings justice (reader TBA)

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry out or lift up his voice
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth,
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,[a]
a light to the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

New Testament Matthew 3:13-17 Jesus is baptized (Read by Anne)

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved,[a] with whom I am well pleased.”

† HYMN: MV #161 “I Have Called You by Your Name”

SERMON: Being Baptized and Beloved

Someone asked me recently if I was going to baptize my little grandsons.

My answer was- I don’t know.

Because as you may have noticed, few of the current generation of parents seem interested in church; let alone baptism.

If I were to baptize them it might be in the water at the cottage- as a symbol of commitment to ecology and the environment, it might be more fitting.  And if possible it would be when their extended family could be there.

Baptism is a conundrum in my role as minister.

I believe that God counts us all as precious and worthy of love just because we are, we exist and we are a gift to the world and our families.

All of my children were baptized and it was a very important event for me and my husband.

The minister who baptized them had gone to school with my father who died just months before the twins now 42 were born. It was comforting to have someone who knew my father be involved.

Indeed I also recall my younger brothers baptism- I was 6 and sitting on the balcony of the church with my siblings and grandparents.  My parents were below processing up with David and a group of other parents and babies.

Back in the 60’s baptisms were big because of the postwar baby boom. David was the youngest of 6 children. 

And there was a time when I considered having 6 myself. But after my 4th was born I rethought that- I was pretty busy with the ones I had and as much as I enjoyed it I was aware of my limits. I never wanted to be so busy that I was yelling at my kids to hurry up etc. at least not regularly!

So I gave that idea up-and I have never regretted it… and I think my kids are grateful and able to at least tolerate me as a result.

Baptism is the ceremony or liturgy where we pour water over the head of a baby symbolizing the river Jordan and speak of the covenant between God and parents and community.

It is associated with naming the new admission to the Christian Faith and also with purification of the one being admitted.

I get the idea of naming and admission to the church community. I also understand the symbolic water as a reminder of Jesus in the Jordan.

But purifying an infant?

What kind of garbage is that?

We all know that babies are pure! Hungry and poopy and screaming- yes!!

But there is truly nothing evil about a new baby and it bugs me a lot that original sin it is considered part of the new born baptism candidate. It may be emphasized more in some denominations than others but it is nevertheless part of our understanding.

Adult and teen baptisms – sure- we have all been exposed to the world and tempted and made mistakes by then.  But babies???  Nope not a chance!!

But the added layer I find is that even though we are imperfect and we grow to be adults there is always a suggestion that we are less beloved than a pure baby.

Or that we have to earn Gods love.

Do we need to be worthy?

To be a special person- gifted or otherwise above the crowd…?

It bugs me a lot- partly because I think it is not at all a God centred or theistic approach. I think it is the kind of competitive human thinking that has gotten the world in a bad place.

I think of the kinds of systematic racism that we humans are so prone to entertaining and encouraging-and none of them seem God centered.

Why would a baby or child from an immigrant family be less valued than a settled member of society?

Why are colonizers able to pat themselves on the back while they look down on the indigenous people whose land they have overtaken?

Why are LGBT folks less acceptable in many cultures than their fellow straight counterparts?

I often think of the passage from Matthew when such perplexing thoughts come-

Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven that they sow not; neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto [a]the measure of his life? 28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

To be fair to the text and my argument, it is a quote ostensibly from Matthew- who being human may have interpreted God’s intent- but I think he is capturing something genuine…

It’s not about what you do or what you wear or what you gather into the barn for the winter.

You are loved because you are simply you!

You don’t have to win a race or make a big promotion to be loved and treasured by God.

You don’t have to do anything to be God’s child; a precious and beloved child.

I wonder sometimes what God would say to us if able to comment on this whole issue.

Because having a bird’s eye view of us all struggling, succeeding or simply existing to the best of our knowledge, it seems that God might look down on us and smile with tenderness at us all-

Or cry with sorrow at our tribulations.

Or laugh at our silliness and antics.

Or wince at our cruelty and mean spirited behaviour.

God the ultimate parent surely would not hate us for being disappointments; rather help us to see new opportunities to grow and learn.

Patient, loving and kind is what the parent wants to be- so as you treat your own children and grandchildren, their friends and neighbours that is when you want to be like God.

May it be so!  

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Creator spirit, moving over the waters, You renew our baptism. God of the flood, You save us from destruction. Holy Spirit, Jordan dove, You came upon Jesus, descend now upon us. Voice from heaven, call us by name. We are your beloved. Amen

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

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

Go out into the world aware of the gift of God’s blessing and share it with others! And as you go may you feel renewed by the healing waters of your baptism.

† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

MESSAGE FROM THE MISSION BOARD CHAIR: Hello everyone! I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas holiday time. It was unfortunate that some bad weather came into our area right before Christmas and we had to cancel Christmas eve and day services. I hope we will have better luck with Sunday services for the remainder of the winter. We try not to ever cancel services but if it is a question of safety, we will keep the doors closed. Watch your email for last minute messages or check our website if the weather is questionable.

We have had John L offer himself for the position of Mission Board Chair. John has been on the board for several years as M&P chair. If there are no other nominees for the board chair, then John will be acclaimed at the Annual Congregational Meeting in March. Noting that there would be a gap on M&P, Helen has recruited Kathy Prentice to help her on that team but there is no chair person as of this writing. Brian G has stepped down from the Church Management team and Larry P has been covering that position temporarily. Carolle B has expressed an interest in that position. We hope to have some other updates for you on nominations in the next month or so.

I have been made aware that some of our congregants who reside in Lindsay have decided to move their memberships there. It will be sad to see them go. It will certainly leave some gaps in our pews and the talents that we will lose are numerous. All the best to those who are making a move. We will miss you.

Take care all.

Carol

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: Sun. March 5, 2023

Annual Reports are requested from the following: Minister (Anne), Chair of the Board, Management Team, Trustees, Ministry and Personnel, Worship Team, Junior Church, UCW with financial report, VIBE, Christmas Cookie Sale Fundraiser, Treasurer, Nominating Committee. 

They are due on or before Wed. February 1, 2023. 

Please send to dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

To view last year’s Annual Report, click on the link. 

https://dunsfordunitedchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/2021-Annual-Report.pdf

Sun. Jan. 8: Refreshments will be served after church this week, provided by Gloria and Ralph.

Wed. Jan. 11: UCW meeting at 1:30 in the Church Hall.  All are welcome!

Please keep in your prayers: Tracie; Kristen; Mary Lou; Beryl and Murray; Emma J; Margaret S.

STEWARDSHIP SECOND: No matter what our background, our culture, our race, our identity, when we do what is right we are all acceptable to God. May our gratitude overflow into generosity!

https://united-church.ca/sites/default/files/2022-12/stewardship-seconds_jan-june-2023.docx

POSTLUDE


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