Bulletin and Announcements for Sept 3, 2023
Dunsford United Church
September 3, 2023
Presider: Nancy Payne, LLWL
†= stand as you are able
WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS: Birthdays/Anniversaries
† GATHERING HYMN: VU #333 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE AND THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CANDLE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS (Unison)
We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishinaabe / Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was made, 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.
-it’s important to note that Treaty 20, made in 1818, saw the Anishinaabe surrender nearly two million acres of land. Despite a royal proclamation designating it as Anishinaabe territory and stipulating a process for any possible sale or transfer of the land, settlers just kept encroaching, clearing farms and building homes with no regard for the law or those who had lived there from time immemorial.
-the Williams Treaties were made in 1923, for pretty much the same reason. They didn’t protect the Michi Saagig’s rights to hunt and fish on their traditional territories, and in fact the law actively prosecuted people from Curve Lake, Alderville, Hiawatha and other communities.
-just because we have Treaties doesn’t mean we have honoured them
CALL TO WORSHIP (responsive, based on Psalm 105, 1-4))
Sing to God! Sing praises! Tell of God’s marvels!
We glory in God’s holy name.
Let the hearts that seek God rejoice!
We turn to God’s strength and seek God’s presence, today and always.
† HYMN: VU #227 “For the Fruit of All Creation”
OPENING PRAYER (together)
Creator God, we come to you not because we have to, but because we want to.
We join together in this time and place we have set apart. May we feel your Spirit dancing among us as we open ourselves to your gentle, persistent love. Amen
INVITATION TO GIVE: Let us bring forward the offering.
† HYMN OF DEDICATION: VU #541 “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”
(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 (together)
God of abundance, we are so richly blessed. We return a small portion of our blessings to you now. Help us to use them to serve you by serving each other, our community and our world. Amen
STORY AND PRAYERS FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART
CHILDREN LEAVE FOR JUNIOR CHURCH
MINUTE FOR MISSION: Sylvia
WE HEAR GOD’S WORD
Exodus 3: 1-15
Moses and the Burning Bush
3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
Romans 12: 9-21
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
† HYMN: VU #595 “We Are Pilgrims”
MESSAGE: The Power of Welcome
Open our hearts and minds to you, O God. Amen
-I loved the Anne of Green Gables books when I was younger
-I’ve read every single one, right through to Anne’s House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside
-Anne uses an expression a few times that I didn’t really understand—she talked about “heaping coals of fire” on someone’s head
-in one instance, it was Marilla, her guardian, doing it to her—this is bit when they’re having a rather stylish couple for a meal and Anne shrieks in front of everyone that Marilla can’t use that jug of sauce for the pudding because a mouse drowned in it
-another happens after she’s been banned from seeing her dear friend Diana—she inadvertently got her tipsy on raspberry cordial. Diana falls very ill, Anne knows how to treat her and saves her—Diana’s mother apologizes and Anne receives the apology with such dignity and grace that, she says, “I felt that I was heaping coals of fire on Mrs. Barry’s head.”
-I figured it out from context—that by not scolding or saying, “I told you so,” the characters are showing great restraint, resulting in the person feeling much worse than if they’d been yelled at
-it’s a very dramatic expression, isn’t it? If you take it literally, it’s quite a horrifying image, but it had probably come to means something like causing someone mortification by refusing to take them to task for something they’d said or done
-despite being a regular at church and Sunday school, I wasn’t familiar with the expression, but L.M. Montgomery and her generation certainly would have been
-but it’s an interesting one, because to me, although there’s a lot of wonderfully WASP-y self-control implied in that expression, “heaping coals of fire” on someone’s head, there’s a real air of superiority, too
-I’d go so far as to call it smug—in fact, I think what’s being conveyed is something like, “Look at me, and how good a person I am for not yelling at you and telling you all the things you’ve done wrong.”
-which is an important thing to keep in mind as we think about the passage from Romans I just read
-toward the end, it reminds us to live in peace with everyone as much as we possibly can
-when people do wrong, it says—very clearly—that’s not up to us to avenge. It’s up to God what to do about that.
-then the second-last verse says:
“If your enemy is hungry, provide food; if thirsty, provide something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on your enemy’s head.”
-but I think we need to be clear that this isn’t permission to be all smug when we do something kind—we don’t do it in order to be seen as the bigger person, which I suspect might have been Anne’s motivation
-because two words earlier on in this passage should guide us instead
-in this list of do’s and don’ts that Paul fires off so quickly, this little sentence jumps out at me every time: “Practice hospitality.”
-that sounds pretty easy, right? Something we can all do?
-after all, we’re good cooks and we know how to feed people and make them feel welcome in our homes, whether those homes are humble or fancy
-but as I learned while studying to prepare for this service, it’s a mistake to assume our modern definition of hospitality is the same as what was meant in Biblical times
-I won’t recite all the details, but it’s kind of fascinating
-first, we have to start by picturing a society where there’s no mass communication and no phones, even the kind on the wall in the kitchen
-where people were members of tight family and community groups, and to travel to another place meant uncertainty as well as a lot of hot, dusty walking
-and while there were inns, of course, newcomers often ended up looking for shelter in someone’s home
-and when they did that, there were some fairly rigid rules that governed hospitality
-first, there was a sort of test, because nobody knew the stranger—maybe they represented a threat. The host might ask them some testing questions, or the traveller might present a letter of introduction. This first phase passes when the host washes the guest’s feet—the stranger is now a guest.
-they now enter new roles—the host is responsible for the guest, acting as protector in a new and unfamiliar, potentially dangerous, community. In turn, the guest doesn’t usurp the host’s role or interfere with the way the household runs.
-if the host fails to offer the best, or if the guest is hostile to the host or other guests, the relationship breaks down and the guest leaves as an enemy
-but when hospitality works, things are better for everyone—the guest is safe and cared for in a new place, and the host has not only done a good thing, but now has someone to stay with and be protected by when visiting the guest’s community
-so yes—when Paul so succinctly says, “Practice hospitality,” he’s talking about a lot more than having friends over for dinner, although that’s a wonderful thing too, by the way
-practicing hospitality in fact means creating a transformation—extending compassion and welcome to someone you don’t know and may not even like, to the benefit of you both
-and wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could do that even a little bit more often
-not that we all suddenly start opening our homes to random travellers, but that we set suspicion and judgement aside, and start seeing others the way Jesus did—as worthy of respect and support and dignity and care
-the formalized hospitality of the Bible contains lessons for us now
-we no longer need to rely on a stranger to take us in when we travel, but the idea of forming powerful bonds with a new person—that’s something we can learn from
-whether we have a letter of introduction or not, we can simply accept a new person as a beloved child of God, to whom we leave the judgment
-we remember that, in the words of the Irish band U2, “There is no them. There’s only us.”
-“There is no them. There’s only us.”
-that’s hard to remember. And it’s really hard to act on.
-but when we do, when we open ourselves even to those we disagree with and dislike, we are doing the work of the Holy Spirit—the work God calls us to and the work Jesus showed us how to do.
-and by the way, I think this is what differentiates this passage from being just a list of things any good person should do, and makes it something we need to listen to and heed specifically because we call ourselves Christian.
-because, let’s face it—there are an awful lot of folks who call themselves Christians who seem to only be interested in deciding who is “them” and who is “us”
-that’s not our job at all. Our job is to make everyone “us.”
-the mother of a friend of mine died recently. When I saw my friend next, we got talking about how you share all these memories and you learn things you never knew.
-in fact, she said she was stunned when someone shared the impact her mother had had
-the woman who shared her experience used to live across the street from my friend. For those of us who grew up in the country, the idea of just wandering over to a neighbour or friend’s house to play and maybe stay for a meal is pretty foreign.
-but that’s what used to happen with this woman—I don’t actually know her name, so let’s call her…Diane.
-when she was a girl, Diane would often go by my friend’s house and my friend’s mother would invite her to stay for dinner
-my friend says it was just a normal family household—nothing special, at least to her
-but to Diane, those normally family moments were a lifeline. Seeing my friend’s mum treat her kids kindly and for my friends parents to be reasonable with each other and the kids was a revelation.
-in the simple hospitality my friend’s mother showed, Diane saw that parents didn’t necessarily beat their children if they spilled something, and a mother didn’t have to either cower or yell
-and apparently that made all the difference in the world. Diane left home as soon as she could—she got away, and she built a stable life and a loving family.
-my friend said her family had no idea what was going on in Diane’s home. As amazed as she was at that, she was equally amazed that something as simple as her mum showing Diane kindness could help her escape not just violence but the cycle of perpetuating the violence she’d experienced on the next generation.
-kind things, simple things—they can make all the difference
-maybe it’s not as ritualized as Biblical hospitality, but it can change lives. And that means it can change the world.
-as many of you know, my dad now lives at Victoria Manor. There are chalkboards and bulletin boards around the building that have different messages posted—they change from time to time, sometimes offering encouragement or something to think about. They’re frequently about kindness. Yes, sometimes they’re a bit cutesy but I often find they stay with me.
-one near my dad’s room these days just says, “The best way to have a friend is to be one.”
-hosts in Biblical times might have seen that as oversimplifying things, but it’s really the same thing they were doing—creating a friend by being one
-how might you do that?
-who might you be able to extend kindness and support to? And how might you do that even for someone you don’t necessarily like all that much?
-not, like Anne of Green Gables, to impress them with your superior moral nature, but simply because it is what we are called by God to do—to follow in the Way of Jesus?
-this choice comes up over and over, every day
-and I don’t know about you, but I fail this test a lot
-we say the wrong thing, or fail to say the right thing. We sputter in self-righteousness. We look the other way. We wait for someone else to do the right thing.
-but we keep trying. We keep reminding ourselves that there is no them, there’s only us.
-that every act of compassionate hospitality really does make the world a better place
-we make a friend by being one
-we create kindness by being kind
-in the powerful words of Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
-that doesn’t have to mean grandiose gestures—indeed, it’s far more likely to involve simple, everyday acts of care
-it involves reminding ourselves to leave the sweeping judgements to God, and to turn to our neighbour instead
-not to give in to despair or cynicism, but instead to shine our own little light, weak though it might be at times
-because we never know who might desperately need its light and warmth
-or how our hospitality might change the world
-our passage from Romans ended with this reminder: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
-and to that, we can only say, “Amen.”
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Loving God, we know you hear the cries of your people…here in our church community, within our families and among our friends, from our neighbours here locally, in our country and around our world. We know you hear the groans of Creation, straining to support life despite all we have done to harm it. We thank you for the knowledge that we can always do better—love all of your children and care for them in your name. We lift up to you now all those we have named in love and concern. We pray for those who are coping with health worries or loneliness or dementia. We pray for relationships that are strained or broken, remembering that healing is always from you. Guide our leaders to bring about dignity and justice for all—to create a world where no one fears abuse or goes hungry or without shelter, and where the peace of Christ reigns among us. Strengthen us to do what we must to protect the beautiful world you have given us—to stop climate change and the disasters it has spawned. Give us the courage to be kind…to listen and love in your name.
And now we join in the words Jesus taught his disciples:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
WE ARE SENT OUT IN FAITH TO SERVE
COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING
As you walk out of here this morning, remember that everywhere you step is holy ground, and that everyone you meet is — just like you — a beloved child of God.
† CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace” (Words: D Besig and N Price)
Go now in peace, never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true. Know He will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love and show you believe. Reach out to others so all the world can see God will be there watching from above. Go now in peace, in faith, and in love. Amen, Amen, Amen
Sun. Oct. 1st: We welcome Rev. Kevin Fitzpatrick, who will be providing the Message and sharing in the Sacrament of Holy Communion with Rev. Anne. Refreshments will follow the service as we celebrate Rev. Kevin’s Ordination.
MINISTRY OF MUSIC: Share your gift of music, whether it’s singing or instrumental. The sign-up sheet is on the table behind the last pew.
The UCW and Friends will meet at the home of Sandra on Wed. Sept. 13 at
12 noon for a potluck lunch with our speaker at 2 pm. This year the speaker will be
Jennifer from” A Place Called Home” in Lindsay. We look forward to her presentation. All are welcome.
Income $7,222.00 Expenses $5,140.27 Net Income $2,081.73
Kidney Walk: Doris will once again be walking to raise funds for The Kidney Foundation. The walk is on Sun. Sept. 10th in Lindsay at 10 AM. Donations can be given to Doris up until Sept. 24th. Anyone wishing to walk with her can meet at the RMH Dialysis Dept. Doris is the oldest walker and only one undergoing dialysis.
STEWARDSHIP SECOND: Let love be genuine! Show hospitality, rejoice and grieve with others, and share generously as part of your call to live in Christian community.
FROM THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA