Bulletin and Announcements for March 12, 2023

Dunsford United Church
March 12, 2023 – Lent 3
Pulpit Supply: Mark Sturman, LLWL

†= stand as you are able

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,
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 (responsive)

Along the Lenten way, may our loving God give us calm reflection.
Along the Lenten way, may our loving God give us faithful friends.
Along the Lenten way, may our loving God give us purpose and direction.
Along the Lenten way, may our loving God bring us to Jesus Christ and his
cross-bound way.
Along the Lenten way, we worship God.
*Written by David Sparks, Summerland, B.C. p. 32. Used with permission.

† HYMN: VU #222 “Come, Let Us Sing”

OPENING PRAYER and LORD’S PRAYER (Responsive)

Life-Giving God, another week is done, and we have arrived here again as weary travellers.
We are thirsty, O God.  Please give us something to drink.
Still-Speaking God, our lips are parched and our bellies ache; we have not had enough to satisfy us.
We are thirsty, O God.  Please give us something to drink.
We come with no buckets or jars, but with open, cupped hands, dreaming of your soothing gift.
We are thirsty, O God. Please give us something to drink.
You have promised us something new, something that will feed our bodies and souls, something to satisfy.
We are thirsty, O God.  
Please give us something to drink.
And may we continue praying the words that Jesus taught his disciples, Our Father, who Art in Heaven… Amen.
*Written by Tori Mullin, St. John’s U.C., Marathon, Ont. P. 38.  Used with permission.
MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb” Sylvia

INVITATION TO GIVE:  Let us bring forward the offering.

† HYMN OF DEDICATION:  VU #541 “Praise God …” (Words: Thomas Ken)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise God, all creatures high and low; give thanks to God in love made known: Creator, Word and Spirit, One.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART: “The Woman at the Well” p. 84, Milton’s Story Bible.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Exodus 17:1- 7 NSRV (Read by Sylvia)

Water from the Rock
17 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed
by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was
no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses and said,
“Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me?
Why do you test the LORD?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the
people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt,
to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the
LORD, “What shall I do for this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the
elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the
Nile and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike
the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did
so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah[a] and
Meribah,[b] because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is
the LORD among us or not?”

John 4:5-30, 39-42 – NRSV
5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that
Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired
out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan
woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His
disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do
not share things in common with Samaritans.)[a] 10 Jesus answered her, “If you
knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you
would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The
woman said to him, “Sir,[b] you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do
you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave
us the well and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her,
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink
of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give
will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman
said to him, “Sir,[c] give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to
keep coming here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman
answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying,
‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have
now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to
him, “Sir,[d] I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this
mountain, but you[e] say that the place where people must worship is in
Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming
when you[f] will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You[g] worship what you[h] do not know; we worship what we know, for
salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming and is now here when the
true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks
such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must
worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is
coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things
to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he,[i] the one who is speaking to you.”
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking
with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking
with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She
said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever
done! He cannot be the Messiah,[j] can he?” 30 They left the city and were on
their way to him. 39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of
the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when
the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed
there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said
to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we
have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

† HYMN: VU #345 “Come, Children, Join to Sing”

MESSAGE: Who Gives Us Water?

Anyone tired of the season of winter yet? Anyone tired of shovelling snow, yet? After the storm we had last weekend, I heard a few people with sore muscles from clearing driveways, and ready to be done with this season of shovelling and heavy clothes. I am reminded of the expression about rain being preferable to snow, as with rain, ‘at least you don’t have to shovel it!’.
Whether its in the form of snow or rain, water is an important substance to our lives. It sustains the crops and livestock that forms most of our diet. It makes up most of the content of our body matter. It sustains us; indeed, we cannot survive without it. Its both essential to life and often taken for granted. It is the symbol at the center of many of our Christian images, stories and rituals. Baptism, foot washing, water into wine, walking on water. It also is the symbol for the scriptures from our lectionary passages today.
It is both the source of conflict  and revelation in the Exodus passage. It is the source of learning and revelation in the John Passage. Let’s look at these stories in a little more detail.
If your worship leader preached on the Gospel lesson where you worshipped last week, you might have heard about the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus, with a verbal exchange that Nicodemus, an educated man as he was, just couldn’t wrap his head around. Nicodemus, a seemingly powerful, educated man. Today’s character, the Samaritan woman would be the opposite, probably an uneducated woman of little status, as evidenced by her having to come to the well and draw water herself for her family. At first, she is puzzled by the exchange.
In those days, Samaritans and Jews did not mix. Decades, if not centuries of strife between the two neighbouring peoples left them divided by racial bigotry. Throw in gender norms of the day and it makes for a situation that seems unlikely to be occurring. Jesus and his disciples where travelling through Samaria on there way to other Jewish towns to continue Jesus mission and teaching. At the moment of this story, the disciples are off on an errand that was food related. Jesus was left behind and goes to a local well, and being thirsty, or so the scripture tells us, he approaches a well-know well to try and get a drink to quench that thirst. He asks the woman to help him by giving him water. She brings up the issues of the negative connection between the two communities and introduces the hostilities to the story, and essentially says ‘Why are you even talking to me?’ This shouldn’t be happening! But it is.
Jesus then makes some of what must have been quizzical statements for the woman. Jesus talks about water that will leave her never feeling thirsty again. The woman reacts about the same sentiment as Nicodemus last week when he questions being ‘born again’. She questions how one can never be thirsty again and asks for this water. The story probably does not give us the full dialogue. It does tell us that she eventually believes Jesus and accepts who he is. It says she becomes a witness for Jesus and converts many of her community to believe in the message of Christ. The story tells us that he knew much about her life, including her past and present marital status.
Now I think we need to resist the temptation to be judgemental of the women’s life, other than to say it probably wasn’t the typical story for a typical woman that Jesus might have encountered at the well. She had a different story, (one we dare missing a lot of context concerning), a story that Jesus knew. Jesus describing her life seems to be enough to convince her that he is for real, that he carries, for her, the message of the love of God. Is that what Jesus is symbolizing with image of water that never again leaves one thirsty? The Love of God that may have been a new concept for the women that left her initially confused. The Love of God that allowed Jesus to overcome racial and gender bigotry lines and instill in her the joy of Christ, such that she was able to share that wisdom and joy with her community.
Who is this Samaritan woman who the author does not even share the name of. She listens and understands Jesus’ message when the learned, powerful Nicodemus from last week’ story could not ‘get it’. This woman gets it and becomes an effective witness for Jesus Ministry. Even though she was from a tradition and nationality from Jesus that involved racial and gender intolerance.
We can only guess that Jesus got his drink from her bucket out of the well and had his thirst quenched. We are told that he gave her so much more that allowed her to be sustained and raised up in influence in her community.
Who gives us this ‘water’ in our lives? The ‘water’ that sustains us spiritually and emotionally and intellectually. Who gives us that which we need to overcome life’s challenges, the conflicts that we need to overcome, the prejudices and biases, the oppression? Who helps maintains our strengths in those challenging times in life. Who gives us water like God empowered Moses to give the Israelites when wandering in the desert?  Who or what sustained Jesus who languished in the wilderness for forty days that mark with the season of Lent?
Are those people who sustain us in those challenging times, people that love us and support us the person spoken about in the Bette Midler song, ‘The Wind Beneath my Wings”. Or is it our relationship with God that sustains us when things are tough? Most likely it is a combination of both, or God working through those people and the Holy Spirit.
As I was writing this reflection, I heard a podcast of an interview with well-know Canadian figure-skater, Elizabeth Manley, once nick-named as ‘Canada’s Sweetheart’ in winning a silver medal for Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Manley speaks of the mental health challenges that she dealt with before and after her podium achievement, and how people close to her, particularly her mother, sustained her and loved her through those challenging times. I encourage you list listen to Manley’s story if you get a chance. It is a compelling story, that has led to pursue a career as a job and life coach that helps her give back by building people up to get them through difficult times in life.
We all know about the difficult times we as a society that we have been through in the last two to three years. We know about the isolation experienced by many during the lockdown and the rise in mental heath challenges in people as a result. Who provides that living water that sustains us through these times? Who do we provide that living water for? What and who brings us joy when we most need it and who do we do this for in return? What role does our faith and our relationship with our loving God play in sustaining us? These are things to ponder and to celebrate as we go through these days of waiting in Lent… and in winter as we await spring, and the promise of seeds and plants breaking for the from the cold ground with new life.
We hear these words that are from the 2006 UCC doctrinal document, A Song of Faith:
We find God made known in Jesus of Nazareth, and so we sing of God
the Christ, the Holy One embodied.
We sing of Jesus, a Jew, born to a woman in poverty in a time of social
upheaval and political oppression. He knew human joy and sorrow. So
filled with the Holy Spirit was he that in him people experienced the
presence of God among them. We sing praise to God incarnate.
Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign— a commonwealth not of
domination but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He forgave sins and freed those held captive by all manner of demonic powers.
He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender. He preached
and practised unconditional love—love of God, love of neighbour, love
of friend, love of enemy— and he commanded his followers to love one
another  as he had loved them. (2006 UCC Song of Faith)
The good news is that God walks with each of us on this journey of discovery.
Through our relationship through prayer, God walks with each one of us,
always. God walks with us in risky and challenging times, and times in life when
we are or feel defeated. God walks with us in our successes and celebrations
and jubilant times. God walks with all of us, know matter what gifts, skills and
talents we possess and choose to share, what we have done
previously in life, what our background is, who we love or how much money we
have in the bank. God loves us all, always. Thanks be to God!  Amen!

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

† HYMN: VU #120 “O Jesus, I Have Promised”

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

In the world, we are seldom required to do heroic or extravagant things for God. Simply love and share with your neighbour the love God shares with you and reveal the presence of Christ for those around you.  
*Written by George Allan, Chatham, Ont. P. 39. Used with permission.

Go now into the world, with a daring and a tender heart –
go in peace, the world is waiting.
And whatever you do, do it for love,
remembering that you follow Jesus.
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit
be with us all, now and ever.
Amen.

*Prayers taken from Gathering LE 2022-23. Used With Permission

† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: Sun. March 26, 2023
There will be a potluck lunch following the worship service. We would invite each person attending to prepare a bit of “Holy Humor” to share with the group after the potluck. This could be a few (tasteful) jokes, a humorous story or poem, a fun song from your favourite musical or maybe a little skit! The more participation we have, the more successful we will be at providing an enjoyable fellowship time for all. Once we have all had a belly full and a belly laugh, the meeting will start at 1PM.  –  Carol

COLLECTABLES: For the next 2 Sundays, bring your old eyeglasses, stamps (leave ¼ inch around the edge) and pop tabs to the church.

MILK BAG MINISTRY: Would you like to help make milk bag mats?  Come to the church on Wednesdays at 10 AM.  Contact Shirley to let her know.

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: Mary Lou; Emma J; Abigail recovering from an accident.

STEWARDSHIP SECOND: Sharing what we have—our time, our energy, our money, our belongings—spreads water on a world thirsting for justice.
https://united-church.ca/sites/default/files/2022-12/stewardship-seconds_jan-june-2023.docx

FROM THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

E-ssentials: Moderator’s PIE Day Message, Give it up for the Earth! Lenten Campaign, Call for Nominations, and more! (mailchi.mp)

FROM UNITED CHURCH BOOKSTORE

International Women’s Day is this Wednesday (mailchi.mp)

POSTLUDE

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH
Office Hours: Wed. Office 9-5 † Tel: 705-793-2511
Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca † Website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com


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