Bulletin and Announcements for May 14, 2023
Dunsford United Church
May 14, 2023 – Mother’s Day
Pulpit Supply: Barbara Warden, LLWL student
†= stand as you are able
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS
† GATHERING HYMN: VU #316 “Praise Our Maker”
LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE AND THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CANDLE
We light the Christ candle to remind us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. There is no darkness in any who believe in the resurrected God.
We light the candle of truth and reconciliation so that truth may be brought into the light of Christ’s love, and we may reconcile the injustice of the past and present through that unending love for all people.
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 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 (from Psalm 66 responsively):
Praise our God, O peoples,
Let the sound of His praise be heard.
Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Make God’s praise glorious.
God has preserved our lives,
and kept our feet from slipping.
Praise be to God!
† HYMN: VU #556 “Would You Bless Our Homes and Families”
We come to praise the Godhead of our family. The Godhead always gives guidance and strength to the children of this family and so we fulfill our vows to You, bringing prayers and songs of praise to Your mighty name. Amen.
INVITATION TO GIVE: Let us bring forward the offering.
† HYMN OF DEDICATION: VU #541 “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”
O God, you have tested us and brought us to a place of abundance. We offer these gifts as we are able, to further your kingdom in this world to the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Amen.
STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART
My number 2 son made this lovely little box for me when he was young. How many of you, even the adults, have crafted or prepared something special for your parent? Did you craft or prepare something special for today? How many of you thought about doing or making something special for God today? God is our parent, caregiver, teacher, comforter, friend, and biggest fan. God loves us without keeping track of the number of times we mess up. What could you do or make today that would be special to God? You could forgive someone who hurt you. You could make a special place just for talking with God. It could be in your room or outside. You could write a poem, a letter or even a prayer to God. God thinks it is very special when we start a conversation. Let’s start one now, if you’ll repeat after me:
Thank you for the people who love me…
Thank you for looking after all of us…
Thank you for sending Jesus as a child like me…
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
John 14: 15-21 Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (Read by Lois)
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Acts 17: 22-31 Paul in Athens (Read by Barbara)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
† HYMN: MV #161 “I Have Called You By Your Name”
MESSAGE: Who Are You?
You approach the door and knock. The voice from the other side asks, “Who is it?” How do you answer? It depends on the situation.
There is a bright light in your eyes at night and a voice commands, “Stop! Identify yourself.” Is your answer the same or different? Once again, it depends on the situation.
In my life it seems that I have rarely been just Barbara. “Oh, you’re Marjory’s daughter or Essie’s granddaughter.” “You’re JD’s or Ken’s mom.” My identity is by association as a parent or as a child of parents. All these associations help to identify me when I am talking with someone who does not know me well. To those who do know me, I can be just Barbara.
Jesus said, “the sheep follow me because they know my voice.” When your caregivers call you to come in from outside or on the phone, you know their voice. When your caregiver calls you by all your names (Ronald William McMillan) you also recognize a tone and know there is some urgency to your response. “Sorry guys, I have to go.” You may be in for some punishment but only because your family loves you and wants you to do and be your best.
Let’s look deeper into the scriptures to learn more about who we are and who cares for us.
The scripture read this morning from Acts chapter 17, has Paul speaking in Athens during his third missionary journey. He travelled from 53-57 in the Christian era. Paul had previously been to Thessalonica and then to Berea before his time in Athens and was scheduled to travel next to Corinth. It was in Corinth that Paul received some comfort and support from the risen Jesus in the form of a vision, telling Paul basically that he was doing the right thing and to keep on doing it. Have you ever had that kind of encouragement from the people who care for you? “You’re doing great! Keep going!” Have your caregivers ever given you a job like Paul was given that took a long time and was also difficult?
Paul was given this long and difficult, even dangerous, mission by Jesus. To go beyond the borders of Israel and God’s chosen people and tell the others the Good news of Jesus – crucified and risen. Paul is attending a meeting in Greece among the Gentiles. He stands to speak and notices a sign on the altar, “To an unknown God.” Unknown God? How is that possible? According to the commentary in this version of the Bible, the Greeks had many gods. They were afraid to offend any god and suffer the repercussions, so they put up the sign for an unknown god to cover all possibilities. They didn’t name one god for fear of offending the others. These people have no loving God to guide them as a parent would. They do not respect and love their gods. They can only fear them.
Paul also mentions all the images made in gold, silver, and stone. God despises idolatry and Paul chastises them. This is not worship and these are not representing the one true God. The Greeks have built grand temples to worship and sacrifice to their many gods, but they have no divine guidance outside the buildings. They have no loving God as a parent in their lives, in their work, in their leisure.
Do you always listen to your caregivers and do what you are told? So many young people today grew up alone. They don’t know that God loves them. My favourite thought from Paul Young’s book, “The Shack” is that “God is especially fond of you,” no matter who you are or what you have done.
I am going to take on another role. Allow me to prepare and imagine with me. Hello. My name is Thunder Child. My father gave me that name because of the great storm when I was born. The rain was lashing, and the thunder rolled long and slow. But there were also thundering drums when I was born. I must be very important. My father also says that the name comes from all the trouble I caused my mother, even before I was born. I am not always stormy or loud. I love my name. I hear God in my name.
I want to tell you about the time when the people with white faces came and took me away from my family. They said we were going to school and wouldn’t be living with our families any more. They said we needed to learn a different way to speak to each other and to learn to read. What is read? My grandfather taught me to read animal tracks and to read the wind to know if a storm was coming. I already know how to read. They also said we were going to learn about God in the new building made of stones, but not stones. The stones were too flat and all very even. This does not look like a place where God is. It smells funny. A strong sharp smell that makes me crinkle my nose. I don’t see my God here. I miss my family. We are not allowed to talk to each other in our own language. We have to use the new words, or we will be punished. The Spirit does not punish my family. I can’t find that Spirit here. I have a new name – Maa-ry. I sound like a goat: Maaa-ry. I could say Marie. I have an Auntie Marie but, I got soap on my tongue if I said Marie. MA-ry. I don’t like these new words at all. It is so hard to learn. We also learn a-rith-ma-tic. This is also much harder than what I learned at home. I know how to cut hides and how many we need to cover the hunting shelter. I know about cutting a fish into pieces and throwing the yucky ones for the soup. The rest was cut in half. I know about halves and whole things. I know how many candles we need to make for all the shelters in our village. I know how many steps a long walk is. I don’t understand these numbers. Before sleeping, we take baths in cold metal tubs. When I used to have a bath in the river, I could feel God moving around me and taking away all the dirt and stink. I do not feel God here. When we go outside, we are not allowed to climb trees or even touch them. I could touch God in the soft white pine trees or the strong oak trees at home. I cannot touch God here. We are not allowed to be up at night so I can’t see God in the moon and stars. God is not here. The white faces tell us that God is in hea-ven. I don’t know where that is, but God is not in the air, or the water, or the land in this place. I don’t see God in the white faces. They never smile. They do not love me. God is not here. No one cares for us. We are sad and we are afraid.
But now, I have gone back to my village. Different people with white faces told us we could go home. We learn about God from a book in our own language. It is The Bible. The Bible says God created everything and everyone. We are all God’s children, and God loves us. I can hear God in the thunder and God in the birdsongs. I can see God in the sky, the moon and the stars. Now I feel God and I talk to God. I know that The Spirit is here with me. God is here in the trees. God is here in the river. I can see God in the faces of the new people who come to learn to make blankets and tan hides. The God in the book and the Spirit that I know are the same God. God smiles through the people and they say thankyou. Another girl with yellow hair is my friend. We like to do the same things, especially climbing trees. She said she likes my name. I love my name and have taken it back. God is in my name and God gave it to me. I am a child of God. I know God is here.
The good news from the scripture today and dozens of other scripture passages says, “we are God’s offspring.” We are children of God. Verse 25b from Acts says, “[God] gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Paul points out that it is God who made the world, even the universe. This God, who made all things, does not live in a temple made by human hands. God does not need one place, one building. God does not need anything. God is much bigger than any building. Instead, God gives all things abundantly and graciously. John 3 :16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God gives us Jesus Christ, born as a human in total humility. Jesus suffers and dies under human hands but is raised again from the dead by God to be fully God. The Scriptures say God clothes the lilies of the field with beauty. What more then would God not do for you. God does everything for the children of the earth and especially God’s own son. God raises Jesus Christ from the dead for you and me and ThunderChild. God gives new sight to Saul who is thereafter called Paul. Saul was a persecutor of the new Christians and quite good at his work. God raises the new man, Paul, out of the death of sin and hatred to new life in evangelism. Paul proclaims the good news to all the people wherever he is guided, by Jesus, to travel. Paul proclaims to these people in Athens that the divine being is not in idols made of precious metals or earthen materials. Verse 30 says, “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now God commands people everywhere to repent.” The final verse says that Jesus is the appointed judge of the world. This is why Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus as a man could not judge others. He was equally humble with all other humans. Only now can Jesus be the judge since he is now resurrected to be fully God. Jesus presents all our wrongdoings to God to plead the case. No punishment will ever again be given because Jesus took all the blame to the Cross and to death. But Jesus is alive, therefore the sins are gone. We are Easter people. Oh, we can still mess up and maybe get a time out to think about our actions. Long ago, God gave plenty of time outs but all of that is finished through the work of Jesus Christ.
John chapter 14 is the other scripture passage today. Jesus tells the disciples that he will not leave them as orphans. Jesus knew his job as caregiver and guide was coming to an end. He knew he would have to leave those friends behind. Jesus says, “I give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” That spirit of truth lives within each of us. If we ask Jesus to live within us, the Spirit lives there too. They are all God. I have heard that Spirit speaking to me any times. Most people say, “that strange feeling is your conscience talking to you. It tells you what is right and wrong.” That voice in your head or in your heart is God talking to you. Be sure to listen! When I told the story to the young at heart, I mentioned finding a quiet place to have a conversation with God. That quiet place is also a great spot just for listening to God. God guides us through the troubles of school bullies and the chaos of climate change. God hears us when we talk, when we confess a mistake, or when we are angry and ask, “Where are You?” You might be surprised at where God is. A poem that I read by Malcolm Guite suggests that God in Jesus Christ is in the hospital emptying bed pans. Jesus is on the frontlines of the war, comforting wounded soldiers. Jesus is handing out food and water in Syrian refugee camps. Jesus is in the secret classroom with the girls in Afghanistan. God makes all nations and all people. God is our parent, our grandparent, our adoptive parent, our caregiver. God gives you people to love you and care for you and God made YOU! Every person is our brother or sister because we are all children of God.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE: (Based on Psalm 66)
God of all Peoples, we pray for all brothers and sisters who are living in war zones.
So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
We pray for all brothers and sisters who survived residential schools.
God rules forever in power, God’s eyes watch the nations.
We pray for all children of God experiencing homelessness and food insufficiency.
God brings us to a place of abundance.
We lift up the prayers of our hearts.
(Moment of silence – Continued prayers for Mary Lou L; Emma J; Linda M, who broke her elbow; and Donna B, who broke her knee.)
Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld Love from me.
Let us pray together as Jesus taught us.
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
We are all children of God and heirs to the throne of heaven with Jesus Christ – crucified and risen. We are one family.
Go out and identify yourselves to all who will listen and share the Good News of the Resurrected Jesus.
† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace”