Bulletin and Announcements for May 7, 2023

Dunsford United Church

May 7, 2023 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Rev. Anne Hepburn

†= stand as you are able

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS (Birthdays/Anniversaries)

† GATHERING HYMN: VU #670 “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE AND THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CANDLE

O sacred fire, be our light and our way.

Illumine the path of hope and wholeness that we might venture forth with courage and confidence.

Point us toward the One whom the faithful call the light of the world.

It is in His name that we light these candles. Amen

Written by Laura J. Turnbull Gatherings, p. 43. Used with permission.

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 we are.  We acknowledge 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 to this place with open minds and open hearts.

We leave our prejudices at the door and open ourselves to God’s spirit.

This is a place where we look deep within ourselves,

prepared to let the spirit shape us into the people God calls us to be.

Come and prepare to be changed.

With every whisper of God we are transformed.

Let us worship God as we come together.

Written by Eric Hebert Daly Gatherings p. 44. Used with permission.

† HYMN: VU #664 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

OPENING PRAYER (unison)

As we gather today on this Fifth Sunday of the Easter season, we remember that every Sunday in the year is a mini Easter.

We rejoice in the spirit of Jesus teaching us how to be good disciples.

We grieve for those who, like Stephen and many others, were persecuted for their beliefs.

We pray for all who desire a comforting Saviour to lead them in the way of

Christ from now on. Amen.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” 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

Loving Shepherd, You are the one who calls us into life and hope through Jesus Christ.

In response we offer these gifts, that others might come to know the voice of the shepherd and follow where You lead.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Written by Frances Flook, Gatherings, p. 50. Used with permission.

STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART

MINUTE FOR MISSION: Sylvia

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Acts 7:55-60 Stephen is stoned (Read by Sylvia)

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

John 14 :1-14  I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (Read by Anne)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe[a] in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”[c] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know[d] my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe[e] because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me[f] for anything, I will do it.

† HYMN: VU #238 “O Lord, My God (How Great Thou Art)”

MESSAGE: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” JOHN 14:1-14

Some years ago I was assigned to read the text from John in a service.

As I read the words, I was uncomfortable. It seemed so wrong to read words aloud that suggested that my personal Saviour Guide/Counselor was the only one worth following.  And that the only way to God was through our Christian faith.

I mentioned it to my mom and she agreed with me- she was a long time church attendee and was the only one in the family I could discuss it with.  She said she often felt the same way and cringed when people used to declare Christian superiority. 

There is a term or phrase called toxic texts- you can probably understand what kind they are- weaponized to make people conform to a particular belief system. To follow a denominational lean on any topic. 

And to Believe that they are wrong if they are gay or have an abortion or this text unfortunately tends to be loaded therefore toxic because it has been used to hammer at people that their form of Christianity or a subset of Christianity-is the only way to believe.

Some time later I came upon a theological paper about it and was intrigued to find a writer who said she took the text as a bedtime story.

A story we tell to comfort our children at night.

A story we might tell children during a thunderstorm to settle their

fears.

A story we might tell if it were safe to make noise, to children in an active shooting.  

Or to those mourning the loss of a parent in a hospice.

Her point was that this text is about comfort, safety, reassurance, family

support.

That certainly did resonate with me. I have done many funeral services where some of this text was used for the introduction to the service.

I think it does indeed illustrate the homecoming safety net that we all hope for- that when we die, we will be raised up to sit near God, along with all of our family and friends.

And for those of you facing an impending loss, it is very comforting to think of these words.

But this passage also raises some other points.

This passage comes at a time when the ground is shifting under the disciples’ feet.

Jesus has foretold his betrayal and death at the Last Supper.

When Thomas and then Philip ask their questions, looking for specific instructions and a road map to where God is, they demonstrate a lack of confidence in Jesus as a role model. Jesus says, “you know me, therefore you know God”.

They are confused and feeling unstable- grasping for details they question him.

But on a broader level I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that any denominational Messiah would say these words and be equally truthful and comforting to their followers.

Do what I have taught you – all will be well.

You know everything that I have shown you- keep it up.

You may have seen a poster – we might even have it in the back room- that illustrates the golden rule of the dominant religions of the world.

The Golden Rule across the World’s Religions

Thirteen Sacred Texts

Bahá’í Faith

Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings

Buddhism

Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18

Christianity

In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Confucianism

One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct….loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.

Confucius, Analects 15.23

Hinduism

This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.

Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.

The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith

Jainism

One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.

Mahavira, Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

Judaism

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.

Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a

Native Spirituality

We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.

Chief Dan George

Sikhism

I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me.

Indeed, I am a friend to all.

Guru Granth Sahib, p.1299

Taoism

Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.

Lao Tzu, T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien, 213-218

Unitarianism

We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian principle

Zoroastrianism

Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.

Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29

Acknowledgements: This original English version was prepared by Paul McKenna. Published by Scarboro Missions (Toronto, Canada) Copyright © Scarboro Missions 2000

If those words and values are similar I believe that each one will have a similar text that says- trust in me and you will be safe, well and spiritually at home.

The final point of this passage I think is the nod that Jesus gives towards role modelling.

He says do what I have shown you and you will do right. You may even do better than I.  Heal the sick, free the prisoners, feed the hungry- you know all the basics!

But when he is known to have cured the blind and raised the dead, it’s understandable that they might have questions.

How in heaven (or on earth) can they exceed what he has already done?

Fair question I’d say.

I think he is speaking to the expansion of disciples. They will teach and cure and free and feed. Then the ones they have helped will help others and so on.

It’s the best pyramid scheme I have ever heard of.

So take it with you and do what you can-spreads it out and see what happens.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Continued prayers for Mary Lou; Emma; Linda, who broke her elbow; and Donna, who broke her knee and is in hospital.

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

WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

YARD + BAKE + PLANT SALE Saturday, May 6th from 8 AM to 1 PM

RAIN OR SHINE! Dunsford United Church, 1981 Sturgeon Rd., Dunsford

STEWARDSHIP SECOND: Amid the struggles of our lives, we can give thanks for God’s abundant love.

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

FROM THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

E-ssentials: Church Leaders Urge Stronger Advocacy in Palestine and Israel, GC Seeks Youth Climate Motivators, and more. (mailchi.mp)

United Action for Justice: Participate in the Moose Hide Campaign on May 11! (mailchi.mp)


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