Bulletin and Announcements for July 16, 2023

Dunsford United Church

July 16th 2023

Presider:  Mr. Robert Bennett –LLWL

†= stand as you are able

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS: Birthdays/Anniversaries, etc.

(Announcements are after the Choral Response)

† GATHERING HYMN: “We Plough the Fields” VU #520

LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE AND THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CANDLE (Lit by Lois)

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 – Responsive (Based on Daniel 3:62-67)

The Sun and Moon call out,

we bless the Lord!

The Stars of Heaven call out,

we bless the Lord!

The clouds and the Wind call out,

we bless the Lord!

Let all of Creation bless the Lord God our Majestic Creator.

In Love the Lord our God has made all good things well!

Come, let us worship.

† HYMN: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” VU #291

(Words: Cecil Frances Alexander)

OPENING PRAYER (Unison)

Great and most holy God, you have given to us the Gospel of the Living Christ to sow and spread, but with our commission comes also a warning– it might fall upon deaf ears! We pray that you will grant to us patience whenever our proclamations seemingly appear to not take root and grow and flourish.  Renew within us a sense of confidence that good can always happen whenever the seeds of your Word are sown.  Amen

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Hidden Heroes” Sylvia

INVITATION TO GIVE:  Let us bring forward the offering.

† HYMN OF DEDICATION:  VU #541 (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 (Unison):

In addition to these our gifts, we also offer ourselves that we may sow your seeds of righteousness and peace.  Nourish us with the gift of your Spirit that we may grow to be more pleasing in your sight.  We pray that the fruit of faith shall lead others to you.  Amen

STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART

” HOPE MEETS HAPPINESS “

(@ 2022 Distributed by The Clever Factory Inc. Nashville TN  USA)

(When HAPPINESS shows up one morning, Hope learns to cherish the beauty all around.)

CHILDREN LEAVE FOR JUNIOR CHURCH

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 55:10-13 (Read by Lois)

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (Read by Robert)

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

“Listen then to what the parable of the Sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.  But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

† HYMN: “Joy to the World” VU #59 (Words: Isaac Watts)

MESSAGE: “Nature Sings”

Earlier this month while doing Online Research, a certain article caught my eye: Earth’s average temperature has been climbing leading to it becoming, on one day, the hottest on record; and, then, a few days ago, I came upon another article:  Northern communities in Canada are smashing heat records this July creating concerns about the health of people and wildlife living there not used to such warm weather. Given all of this, I can imagine a few Editorial Cartoonists coming up with an Illustration of the sweltering Earth bearing an exasperated, frightened look….crying out a solitary word: “HELP!“  Creation…cries out!

Speaking of hot temperatures…I have a timely Dennis the Menace cartoon to share with you: one extremely hot summer day, Dennis Mitchell and his parents are visibly sweltering while seated outdoors in their backyard. When Mom or Dad are complaining about how intense the heat is…Dennis comes up with an idea and disappears inside.  The final panel has grumpy next door neighbour Mr. Wilson calling out to his wife, “ Martha, it looks like that kid has finally driven his parents crazy!”  What he observes is the family listening to what is playing on Dennis’ kiddie record player: “Jingle Bells”.  Dennis and his parents look relaxed, seemingly totally oblivious now to the heat wave!  All due to the happy sound… of Christmas music!

For today Sunday July 16th  I selected a traditional Christmas Carol/Hymn—because these lyrics of JOY TO THE WORLD are comparable to our first Scripture Reading:

” And Heaven and Nature sing, and Heaven and Nature sing, and Heaven, and Heaven and Nature sing.“  

Nature…sings!  Mountains and hills… burst out in song—we are told in today’s reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Mountains and hills….bursting into song. 

This makes me think back to where I was at this time in 1985. 

The Study Year Program in Freiburg now completed, I had embarked on what I named my Farewell to Germany Tour—with a few days in neighbouring Salzburg Austria. While definitely picturesque and historic—its the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – most significantly this was where my late mother’s favourite movie was filmed:  The Sound of Music.  Naturally, I went on a Sound of Music Tour.  A bit kitschy/tacky, for sure…but to see most of the locations where the movie was filmed, and to see the wondrous Austrian countryside, the Alps, the lakes….was simply magical.  If, like me, you have seen the 1965 Oscar winning movie, you can probably picture in your minds that moment in the opening scene when Julie Andrews is in the meadow…and as the music is building, the camera closes in on her, and she begins to sing…..

“The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears
My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
that rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
from a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls

Over stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I’ll sing once more

That song presents Nature as being ALIVE and ANIMATED.  The Hills are alive…with the Sound of Music.  They have been singing for a Millenium (though certainly much longer)…and the human heart can hear it!  Nature sings!  The Prophet Isaiah tells us of a time when,

“…. the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.“  

God’s Creation….bursting into song… and trees clapping their hands.  

For well over a decade now, Kingsview United Church, Oshawa,

where I am a member, has included in its Sunday Worship Service…Praise Singing!  It is common for all gathered….to clap their hands.  Again, let’s envision a Cartoon in which trees are…clapping their hands.  Perhaps, it did not literally happen, but trees may have in some unseen way clapped their hands when Jesus of Nazareth was preaching?

As Jesus welcomed little children to come unto him, so too would Jesus have welcomed the singing out and applauding of Nature. Lets recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  According to Luke, the crowds of people praised God in loud voice saying, “ Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest! “  Luke also wrote, “ And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to (Jesus), ‘ Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered,   ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out. ‘ “ (19:39-40)

The very stones would cry out.  Nature would sing out in praise of the One who has come in the name of the Lord.  Nature sings! Creation rejoices!

Speaking of Creation, here’s a bit of United Church History: in 1994, the Toronto Conference petitioned the 34th General Council to revise A New Creed in light of growing environmental concerns, citing ‘a need for our confessional language to reflect this awareness.’  In 1995, the Theology & Faith Committee proposed the phrase ‘to live with respect in creation’ and the General Council Executive approved.  Here is how it reads with the added new portion: “We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation.”

We are called by God to live with respect in Creation, for Creation is LIVING. Creation is alive, which is, I believe, what the Isaiah passage is all about!  Let’s also realize that, when happy and rejoicing… Creation sings out, claps its hands, but also will groan and weep when it is neglected, mistreated, abused.  Creation cries out!

Something else about the Isaiah passage featured this morning that sticks out for me: a comparison is made between elements of Nature and the Word of God. Reading again the first verses: 

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 

Like Nature, the Word of God is alive, animated, and comes down from heaven to sustain us in every way possible: feeding and nurturing and sustaining our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. That pretty much sums up earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth: coming down from heaven to sustain us.  In A New Creed we profess that God has come in Jesus… “ the Word made flesh “.   Come…to reconcile and make new!  

What is common to both our Scriptures read this morning: NATURE.  The Isaiah passage highlights Nature celebrating, while the Gospel passage features a certain Parable of Jesus in which  growth or lack thereof in Nature is highlighted.  GROWTH. 

I remember as a young boy being fascinated in watching what was happening in the vegetable garden of my late Dad.  I would watch him plant the seeds, cover them, water them regularly.  For awhile afterwards, nothing happened, but eventually, growth poked out of the garden soil…and, then after that, vegetables had formed and were ready to be picked. Seeds are planted…but will they grow?  What comes to mind is a logo probably still in use by the Canadian Bible Society: of a Sower with seed.  The Word of God –the Holy Bible — is the seed.

In Jesus’ Parable, the seed — the Word of God — is a part of Nature that may or may not lead to growth when it is sown.  While it is provided by God to accomplish God’s good purposes, we humans have the responsibility to plant and tend to the Seed provided by God in the Garden of our lives and within our Church and Community.  But we do so not entirely on our own!  In today’s first Hymn we are reminded that while we plant the seed on the land, it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.

When even one solitary seed yields growth, I believe it happens that all of Creation sings out.  Indeed as the words of that beloved Christmas hymn proclaim:  Heaven and Nature sing….and Heaven and Nature sing! 

Praise be to God!  

Amen

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE:

Please keep Kristen, Emma, Mary Lou, Linda, Donna B, Patrick and Abigail C and family, and CL’s Dad, Bill, in your prayers.

Let us, first, bring to God in either silent or spoken prayer our personal cares and concerns…

We pray for those who are hospitalized or confined to home…

We pray for those who are grieving following the death of a loved one…

We pray for people whose jobs bring them a great amount of stress or conflict…

We pray for all those who are in crisis or with some special need…

We pray that the power of the Holy Spirit may come upon us and touch us and grant us what we need…

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  (by Robert)

Let us go forth to be faithful Sowers of the Seed from God which is the Healing, Liberating, Inspiring Gospel of Jesus the Ascended Christ, to whom all praise be forever more.  Let us go in the blessing of God, three-in-one, and may the Lord watch between thee and me while we are absent, one from the other.  Amen


† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace” (Words: D Besig and N Price)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

June Financials:

Income $4,274.00

Expenses $4,064.33

Net Profit $209.67

STEWARDSHIP SECOND: What has your generosity yielded?

FROM THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

E-ssentials: Indigenous and Racialized Youth Retreat, In Case of Emergency Webinar, and more! (mailchi.mp)

FROM THE UNITED CHURCH BOOKSTORE

Looking for Summer Reading Recommendations? (mailchi.mp)


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