Bulletin and Announcements for Jan. 29, 2023

Dunsford United Church

January 29, 2023

Pulpit Supply: Nancy Payne, LLWL

Slideshow/Soundboard: Carolle

Scripture Reader and Ministry of Music: Sylvia

†= stand as you are able

† GATHERING HYMN: VU #289 “It Only Takes a Spark”

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishinaabe / 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 are different people. We’ve had different weeks, different ups and downs, different celebrations and disappointments.

But in this time and this place, we come together.

From our differences, we join as one.

As followers of Jesus, we seek the path together.

Open to the Spirit, and in gratitude for God’s love, we join together now.

OPENING PRAYER (said together; based on Psalm 15)

Loving One, we do our best to live as you call us to.

To choose with integrity, to speak the truth.

We try not to speak unkindly of others or wrong our neighbours.

We know we are supposed to keep our promises, even when it hurts.

To be generous and compassionate.

But so often, our actions don’t match our good intentions.

You know how we fall short.

We don’t deserve never-ending grace and love, and yet you provide it.

We have done nothing to earn it, and we can do nothing to lose it.

With humble hearts, we thank you, O God.  Amen

WORDS OF HOPE

How far is God from anything we can imagine! How much wiser and greater and more compassionate! The psalm also tells us we are safe in God’s hands. “You show me the path to Life,” it says; “your presence fills me with joy, and by your side I find enduring pleasure.” May we live with joy, knowing how blessed we are.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: Sylvia

OFFERING

We acknowledge and thank you all for your contributions to the church whether via PAR or other means.  Offering envelopes may be left on the plate as you leave the Sanctuary.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

God of abundance, we thank you for all we have. Of all the good things that flow from you, we return a small portion to you now. Guide us to use our time, money and skills to serve you by serving each other, our community and our world.

Amen

STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: “Start With One”

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS from The Inclusive Bible

Micah 6: 1-4, 6-8

Hear now what Yahweh says: “Come, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice! Listen to God’s indictment, you mountains and you enduring foundations of the earth, for God has a dispute with the people, and is putting Israel on trial.

O my people, what have I done to you! How have I wearied you? Give me an answer!  For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent Moses to lead you, and Aaron, and Miriam!

“What shall I bring when I come before Yahweh and bow down before God on high?” you ask. “Am I to come before God with burnt offerings? With year-old calves? Will Yahweh be placated by thousands of rams or ten thousand rivers of oil? Should I offer my firstborn for my wrongdoings—the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Listen here, mortal:

God has already made abundantly clear what “good” is, and what Yahweh needs from you:

simply do justice,

love kindness,

and humbly walk with your God.

1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

The message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation, it is the power of God. Scripture says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and thwart the learning of the learned.” Where are the wise? Where are the scholars? Where are the philosophers of this age? Has not God turned the wisdom of this world into folly? If it was God’s wisdom that the world in its wisdom would not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message we preach.

For while the Jews call for miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here we are preaching a Messiah nailed to a cross. To the Jews this is an obstacle they cannot get over, and to the Greeks it is madness—but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your calling, sisters and brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, and surely not many were well-born. God chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise, and singled out the weak of this world to shame the strong. The world’s lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing, were chosen by God to reduce to nothing those who were something. In this way no one should boast before God. God has given you life in Christ Jesus and has made Jesus our wisdom, our justice, our sanctification and our redemption. This is just as it is written, “Let the one who would boast, boast in our God.”

† HYMN: VU #642 “Be Thou My Vision”

MESSAGE: Foolish Faith

Open our hearts and minds to you, O God. Amen

-when we think about the letters to the early church in the Bible, the ones believed to have been written by the apostle Paul, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on

-after all, you don’t write letters of instructions and advice to places where everything is going smoothly, do you?

-and things were anything but smooth in Corinth

-the letter we heard an excerpt from was probably written 15 or 20 years after Jesus’ death

-his followers had come to accept that Jesus was not returning in a blaze of glory to show them what to do—they were going to have to figure it out for themselves

-the Way of Jesus was becoming a church. Not a church like this—not a separate building with a governance structure. But a group with assumptions and rules. People working through how to live out this new meaning they’d found…and making a lot of mistakes, as people do.

-if you read on in Corinthians, you’ll see the list of those mistakes is quite long and quite varied

-they cover sexual relationships, marriage, divorce and remarriage; chaos during worship, with people competing to be the loudest; unfairness at the meals members shared; arrogance among the leaders and lots more

-so you’d think Paul would be writing to explain the rules—to make an intellectual case for what the Way is and how to be a good follower

-and he certainly does some of that, later

-but in the passage we heard this morning, did you notice something that came up over and over?

-it’s right there from the opening verse: “The message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation, it is the power of God.”

-you heard right: “The message of the cross is complete absurdity”

-the whole passage is littered with words like foolish and folly…and not in an accusatory way. In a way that praises such things.

-now that feels a bit strange, doesn’t it? Aren’t those of us who consider ourselves people of faith, you know, enlightened? How is foolishness a good thing when it comes to being a Christian?

-let’s take a few steps back. We’ve spent our whole lives thinking of the cross as a triumph—a victory over sin and death, a symbol of love’s ultimate overcoming of oppression and fear

-so it’s important to be aware that at the time, the cross was anything but triumphant

-this charismatic man preaching revolutionary compassion and justice and grace for all…the Romans killed him. His ministry was over. He had, in the eyes of so much of the world, failed.

-he’d turned out not to be the Messiah the Jews had hoped for—the warrior who would lead them in a military campaign against Rome

-he hadn’t been the kind of remote, intellectual leader who persuaded with elaborate reasoning and eluded death with a clever argument

-as the writer says, “while the Jews call for miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here we are preaching a Messiah nailed to a cross.”

-that’s pure foolishness right there! “To the Jews this is an obstacle they cannot get over, and to the Greeks it is madness” Paul writes.

-a Messiah doesn’t die in agony between common thieves. How absurd! The wisdom of the world makes it clear that’s an embarrassing folly, best forgotten.

-a Messiah doesn’t die in agony between common thieves…but ours did

-the writer continues: “but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

-did you catch that? “God’s foolishness”

-I think the point is not so much to make us think of God as foolish, but rather to recognize that even the greatest heights of human knowledge are nothing compared to the infinite wisdom of God—they don’t even reach to the level of foolishness.

-the Holy Spirit is often referred to as Wisdom—and female, by the way—the third part of the Trinity with God and Jesus

-so, to be clear, it’s not that to be a follower of the Way means to be stupid or not to care about ideas or to ignore smart people

-it’s that we need to be both…to recognize how puny our human wisdom is even as we work to be wiser. To embrace things that might seem foolish, like the fact that everyone deserves love, and is loved by God no matter what they’ve done

-indeed, I ran across one writer this week who pointed out how many of the problems the Corinthians were having could have been solved by something so simple as to seem, well, foolish: kindness—by giving everyone at meals the same portion, by not doing things that hurt others, by healing cracks in the group with love before they widened into unbridgeable gaps

-in the eyes of a world that says that people are more valuable if they have more money or beauty or followers on Instagram, of course a faith that preaches justice and compassion is complete foolishness

-especially in the world as it has felt lately, where if we disagree with someone, we’re supposed to see them not simply as having a different opinion, but as somehow evil and stupid

-in that context, it seems the Way of Jesus, which encourages us to see each other as part of a family of love, is, once again, complete foolishness

-and yet, that’s exactly what we are called to have—foolish faith

-that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to turn off our brains

-it means we’re supposed to embrace the folly of the cross—to reject consumption and status and power and live out the absurd idea that love matters most of all

-to accept that God, the source of all wisdom, “chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise, and singled out the weak of this world to shame the strong.”

-to accept that Jesus, who died an embarrassing, cruel death has never been forgotten, and that the Christ light that shines in our midst still today has never been extinguished

-and once we do that, we are changed forever. We cannot be as we were, chasing after the wisdom of the world.

-“Consider your calling, sisters and brothers.”

-that’s a powerful sentence, isn’t it? “Consider your calling.” Let’s let that sink in

-what is your calling?

-if it feels too big, it shouldn’t. As we heard, God has chosen foolish people like us to change the world.

-and if that feels too big, remember always that we do have the ability to change our world through our actions—whether we choose we help or ignore others, whether we focus on our own comfort and convenience or share our time with those in any kind of need

-I truly believe that’s as simple as kindness—the kindness that would have prevented so much bitterness at the early church in Corinth can do the same thing here and now, every day

-did you follow the story about the Girl Guides’ decision to change the name of the younger group that used to be known as Brownies?

-that name came from folklore—a brownie was a kind of fairy

-but most people have no idea about the name’s origin, and the reality is that for an Indigenous or Black or South Asian girl or any girl whose skin is brown, the name hurt

-so the organization decided to change the name. Some adults didn’t want to break with tradition, and insisted the name was never intended to make anyone uncomfortable. But I loved the fact that the kids I heard quoted didn’t really care what their wise elders thought. In their youthful foolishness, they said that if the name was hurting anyone, it had to change.

-so now the group for seven- and eight-year-old girls is called Embers. The younger ones are Sparks; the older ones are Guides and Pathfinders.

-and, I was delighted to learn, the organization has welcomed trans girls since 2015

-and by the way, if you ever want some great examples of simple, foolish wisdom, I’d go straight to the motto of the Sparks, the younger sisters of Embers. You know what the Sparks motto is? “I promise to share and be a friend.” Those five- and six-year-olds have it all figured out, I’d say.

-“Consider your calling, sisters and brothers.”

-maybe that calling is to learn more about the true history of our area, the one that doesn’t start with the first settlers but that includes the stories of those who have lived here for thousands of years before we started damming rivers and fencing fields

-maybe that calling is to pick up the phone and chat with someone who’s lonely

-maybe that calling is to put down the phone and truly listen to the person talking to you

-maybe that calling is to donate more or volunteer your time to help provide food, shelter and safety to people who don’t share our good fortune

-maybe that calling is to forgive someone who’s caused you pain, once you accept that they are a beloved child of God

-maybe that calling is to go a bit easier on yourself, because you, too, are a beloved child of God

-by all means, let’s bring our questions and rational minds to bear on our faith—don’t worry; God can take it

-but as we follow the Christ light, let’s allow ourselves to be a little foolish

-to feel free to reject the world’s so-called wisdom

-to dance with the Spirit along the Way of Jesus

Amen            

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

THE LORD’S PRAYER

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

Our worship has ended, but our service is about to begin.

As you go into the week, consider your calling.

Seek justice.

Be kind.

Walk humbly.

And know that you are loved, and you are never alone.

Amen

† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Message from the Chair:

Hello everyone! As you have heard, we have had to delay our Annual General Meeting this year in order to have our Supervising Minister able to attend. It has been suggested that maybe we could consider having a potluck lunch after the service and then proceed to the meeting. This was something that we had been doing pre-covid and allowed us a little longer gathering/fellowship time than the usual coffee hour. Please let me hear your feedback on your thoughts. Andrew is able to join us by 1pm so we can start the meeting a little sooner.

Thank you and I hope to see you there!

Carol

Mission Board Meeting: Thurs. Feb. 9 at 7 pm by zoom.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: Sun. March 26, 2023

Annual Reports for 2022 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

CHEER MINISTRY:  Please call Linda when a church member/family needs to be remembered with a card: thinking of you; get well; special birthday/anniversary wishes, or sympathy.

Please keep in your prayers: Tracie; Kristen; Mary Lou; Beryl and Murray; Emma J; Margaret S; and Abigail, recovering from a fractured foot.

STEWARDSHIP SECOND: It’s not about how much you have—how much money, how much stuff—it is about how you use what you have to heal, feed, shelter, comfort, bless, and love.

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


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