November 12, 2017 – After Pentecost

Guest Preacher this week!

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Take Time to Be Holy VU 672

Call to Worship “One: This is a time to be Holy.
All: We have gathered to celebrate God’s presence.
One: As we worship, we recognize where God has been in our lives this past week,
All: and we prepare ourselves to be God’s presence to others in the week to come.
One: Let us join our hearts in worship.

Opening Prayer “One: O God, who called all life into being,
All: the earth, sea and sky are yours.

One: Your presence is all around us,
All: every atom is full of your energy.

One: Your Spirit enlivens all who walk the earth,
All: with her we yearn for justice to be done,

One: For creation to be freed from bondage,
All: For the hungry to be fed,

One: For captives to be released,
All: For your kingdom of peace to come on earth.
Amen.          ( The Iona Community )

Hymn Dance with the Spirit MV 156

Theme Conversation

Readings Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon Guest Preacher – Ken MacIntosh

Hymn Today We are Called VU 507

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation Because of your generosity, we were able to secure 60 brand new chapter books through First Books Canada for teenagers to be given out in the Christmas Program at the St. Margaret’s Bay Foodbank. With your continued generosity, we can accomplish so much.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the sung Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

November 5, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Sound of Silence NASA

Last Post

Disturbed

Puddles Pity Party

 

Chant Listen for the Spirit The Good Book

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Call to Worship Today as we worship, hold the silence tenderly as listen for the still small voice of God.

Placing the Wreath
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.
Last Post
O Canada

Opening Prayer Spirit of gentleness, we gather today remembering the past and looking towards the future with hope. During the stormy times, may we remember the stillness and your gentle yet strong voice. Amen.

Music Ministry

Theme Conversation Elijah

Readings The Sound of Silence
1 Kings 19:1-13

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon The Still, Small Voice

We’ve jumped from Solomon’s Temple right into Elijah. After King Solomon’s death, there were a number of other Kings and Prophets, but by the time we get to Elijah, he’s the only prophet of God left. It is a time of famine for the Hebrew people. There’s not much food left to go around and many people, including Elijah, are depressed. Elijah goes down by the river, and while he is sleeping, ravens bring him food. This is fine for a while, but eventually the river dries up and the ravens stop bringing food. So Elijah moves along and finds a widow and her son. They have enough food left for one small loaf of bread. The Woman is preparing to make it the next day for her son and then they will die. Elijah manages to convince her to make it for him instead. The widow is skeptical, but figures death coming sooner would likely be better. They go to sleep and when they wake up, the jars are full again. Elijah stays with them for a short time, but leaves after saving the child’s life. Elijah believes that the people are experiencing this horrible famine because so many of them have been worshipping the God Baal. So Elijah builds an alter, digs a trench around it, fills the trench with seeds, the alter with a sacrifice and covers the whole thing with water. Fire rushes in and burns everything up. At this point, Elijah is public enemy number one, and runs to a cave and hides until he is called to feel the presence of God outside of the cave. After stepping out, Elijah experiences devastating wind, earthquake, and fire. Once the fire passed, all was silent. It was in the silence that Elijah heard the still, small voice of God.
We don’t know much about Elijah from the passage. A little earlier on we learned that Elijah was a Tishbite from Tishbe in Gilead. We know he worshipped Yahweh – his name means “The one who worships Yahweh”. From 1 Kings, we know Elijah was a fierce opponent of Baal, and often felt unloved and often asks God to take his life. We know the Elijah was a party to some unexplainable things: the ravens GIVING food, the meal and the oil refilling themselves, raising the boy from death, the craziness of the alter, and the major storm. Eventually Elijah isn’t the only prophet of Yahweh anymore, and he completes two more amazing things: he parts the waters and rides a chariot of fire up into the sky leaving behind his sacred mantle for his follower Elisha. As Christians we hear Elijah referred to a few more times, most notably during Jesus’ transfiguration, where Elijah and Moses appear together.
The Sound of Silence has always been intriguing to me. I firmly believe that we communicate in many ways. Some of us communicate more often without out words than with words. I remember arguing with my sister once and accusing her of not listening to my silence. I can put a lot of emotion into a two-second gap of silence, and I often leave silence intentionally in conversation if I’m trying to understand the feelings of someone else. Silence is something I often look forward to, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
When I lived on Quinpool Rd, I often went to Taize Prayer Services at St. John’s United Church. If you’ve never been to a Taize worship before, it’s really an experience. Taize originated in a monastery in Taize, France. All prayers and scripture are sung, mostly by the congregation, although sometimes there is a cantor or soloist and the congregation responds. Often there are only one or two pieces plus the scripture in English. St. John’s went all out to create the atmosphere as well using candles in all the windows and directing everyone to sit together. Instead of a sermon, there’s silence. At St. John’s 15 mins of silence to be exact. You go in and are handed a song book, and a list of the ones that will be sung. At the top of the sheet was the reminder to keep as silent as you can as you enter and leave worship. Really the only thing that was missing were the monks robes! I loved it. I often went and one night one of my sisters and a friend asked to go with me. Of course I said yes. I was nervous though. I figured my sister would be ok, but our bubbly, chatty friend worried me. I didn’t think she’d make it. When we got out on the street after worship had finished, I asked how they found it. I was surprised by their reactions. My sister absolutely hated it and our friend loved it! For both of them it was the silence. I find the same thing true for yoga. Some folks would prefer to leave before savassanah, the silent closing posture and others wear t-shirts that say “I’m only here for Shavassana”
My hunch is that while some people find God’s presence in silence and others can only hear an absence of God. The hard part seems to be finding a balance or compassion for the other, so that in worship or in meetings there’s enough silence for those who needs it, but not too much for those who would prefer anything to silence.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes people give up when there is silence? For example, when there’s no clear answer to a problem, people give up? They expect an immediate answer, but when nothing seems apparent, they give up and say there’s no solution. Maybe the silence is really saying, this isn’t going to be easy or not quite yet. Or maybe the introverted person in the room was waiting for a moment of stillness to speak.
It was pretty hard to reflect on this particular scripture without including The Sound of Silence. Paul Simon didn’t hear the voice of God in the silence though. All he could hear were people not listening to each other and talking just to talk or one up each other. Conversations with no real meaning, so he is left to talk to the darkness. Who are these people that talk without saying anything and pretend to listen? Who speak what they think everyone else is saying, without backing it up with research? Who can’t see the messages so clearly laid out by those who live in public housing and travel by public transit? Who can’t see the people sitting in lineups outside the walk-in clinics for hours just to get an appointment with a doctor that has never spent more than 15mins with them? Who are these people who have never used a foodbank or been on EI, yet make the rules that guard them? Who are these people that can’t see the bruises on faces, can’t read the words #metoo on every woman’s facebook feed, and can’t see the faces of missing and murdered indigenous women? Who are these people who can’t hear the cries of a hungry and scared Muslim child being snuck across the border, but insist that all refugees should “go back to where they come from” even when that place doesn’t even exist anymore? Who are these people? I’m sure you know a few of them. Challenge them. It is our privilege and responsibility to do so.
Downstairs our Sunday School is learning to listen to stillness, to quiet their minds, to self-sooth as needed. It’s a great step on the journey of learning how to deal with life’s disappointments. Once we’re able to deal with our disappointments in appropriate ways, they don’t seem quite so bad. Once we stop feeling like the disappointments always happen to us, it’s a little easier to feel gratitude for what we have. It’s a little easier to advocate for someone else. It’s a little easier to see how everyone benefits when we compromise.
The Sunday School is offering an invitation to anyone who wants to join them in the FRC after worship, to make Prayer Settling Jars. Join us in this simple, meditative and prayer-filled practice. Share it with someone else in your life who needs a little bit of silence to listen for real conversation or for the still, small voice of God.

Hymn Spirit God, Be Our Breath MV 150

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation

Music Ministry

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the sung Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 29, 2017 After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

https://youtu.be/lYcrY71G6KY
https://youtu.be/tox2TflUH90
https://youtu.be/_zvqdqrXuj0
Explainity Explains Reformation
Phyllis Tickle
Patheos – Nadia Bolz Webber
4 Laws
Shane Hipps 4 Questions
Proven Models
Sears article 1
Sears article 2
Martin Luther History Channel
Martin Luther King I Have A Dream
Working Preacher Podcast
Working Preacher
Patheos – Dangerous King

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Come and Find the Quiet Centre VU 374

Call to Worship One: Today we celebrate the basics of our faith: All: We celebrate the Scriptures and the wisdom they offer. One: We celebrate our Faith and the connection it offers. All: We celebrate Grace and all that unconditional love encourages us to be. One: We celebrate Christ, our human connection to divine wisdom and love. All:We celebrate the freedom that we have to understand God on our own terms and through our own experiences. One: These are the five principals that gather us together in this time and in this space to worship.

Opening Prayer Sacred Spirit, your presence was felt 500 years ago just as strongly as it is today. We pray that this time is filled with enlightenment and hope. Amen.

Hymn We are the Church Rainbow Song Book #59

Theme Conversation What do you need to build a church?

Readings Explanity Explains Reformation Video
Phyllis Tickle Video
1 Kings 5:1-5; 8:1-13
Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon The Giant Rummage Sale

Normally, in the United Church, we don’t do much to celebrate the reformation.  We recognize that many leaders have helped to shape us over the course of time.  This year though, as we sit on the edge of another major revolution of both the religious world and the society we live in, it has been 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his thoughts to the door of the church. Was tried for heresy and spent the rest of his life, using a penname, to help the average person understand Christianity.

Many of the resources this week start off by saying that the lectionary gives us an odd piece for Reformation Sunday.  Apparently, the choices are usually sin oriented, suitable to inspire someone to change or reform their own life.  I think that Solomon’s Temple is a perfect pairing for talking about religion though.

Solomon was the oldest living son of David near the time of his death.  Becoming King wasn’t exactly a given for Solomon as another brother had attempted to lay claim to the throne before Solomon was ordered installed by his father.  Solomon was known for his wisdom and for following out his father’s dream of a place to worship God – a lavish place because God had been so good to them.

So he did.  Solomon teamed up with one of his father’s allies, imposed heavy taxes and employed hundreds of thousands of people to build the temple complete with a special room for offerings, another even holier room for incense and plenty of storage rooms to store all of the things his father had collected to honour God.

The building of Solomon’s Temple was the symbol for the religious revolution of the time.   Previous to this, the Hebrew people had been worshipping in tents as they been doing since at least the Exodus, if not before that.  It was simply the way of the nomadic people.  But the Hebrew people were no longer wandering, and King Solomon’s Father, King David felt that a tent was not an appropriate place to offer sacrifice.  He felt that God was too important to him to be relegated to a tent when the King himself no longer lived in a tent.  It makes sense.  The story goes on to explain that David would never build the Temple, because he was known as the King of War, it would need to be Solomon, the King of Wisdom.  The Temple became the sign of the religious movement of the Davidic era.

Phyllis Tickle laid out the map or timeline of religious revolution for us.  So it should come as no surprise to learn almost 500 years after the Temple was built, it was destroyed in an act of war.  I’m sure the Hebrew people at the time thought that the world was coming to an end.  After all, the Temple had always been there.  But the Hebrew faith did not end when the Temple fell.  Similarly, the Catholic Church did not die when Martin Luther nailed his these to the door.  The whole point of faith is that it stays with you even when all of the structures that you thought held it up come crumbling down.

I’m sure many of you remember the Canadian History Vignette where Marshall McLuhan declares “The medium IS the message!”  What you may not know, is that McLuhan also believed that every medium also answered four laws or as he preferred to call them, questions.  This has been an enlightened moment for me this week, and I’m going to attempt to walk you through it.  Perhaps some of you are not new to this theory, and if you have studied it or have experience in it, I’d love to chat with you.

Here goes.

There are 4 quadrants/laws/questions for any medium. Always four and only four.  There are no right answers, only evolving answers.

Let me walk you through with video cameras.

(bottom right) A. “What recurrence or RETRIEVAL of earlier actions and services is brought into play simultaneously by the new form? What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?”

Neighbourhood watch, Mid-evil city walls (made them safe at first, but then made them vunerable)

Salvation

(bottom left) B. “When pushed to the limits of its potential, the new form will tend to reverse what had been its original characteristics. What is the REVERSAL potential of the new form?”

Invasion of privacy

Freedom

(upper right) C. “If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition or un-enhanced situation is displaced thereby. What is pushed aside or OBSOLESCED by the new ‘organ’?”

Security guards, eye witness testimony

Rituals & Superstitions

(upper left) D. “What does the artefact ENHANCE or intensify or make possible or accelerate? This can be asked concerning a wastebasket, a painting, a steamroller, or a zipper, as well as about a proposition in Euclid or a law of physics. It can be asked about any word or phrase in any language.”

Our eyes

Mental Health/Spiritual Health    Power & Politics

Now let’s attempt to do this together with church.

I find it hopeful that although the medium may change, the original intention does not.  So while we may outgrow some aspects of church, we’ll never outgrow the original intention.  Just the way we achieve it.

Back in the 1950s, there was a Canadian company called Simpson’s Mail Order.  It specialized in sending useful items ordered by mail to the orderer, wherever they were located – town or city.  A department store in the US noticed how well Simpson’s was doing in the mail order market and decided that it would be the ultimate department store if you could get items in the department store without ever having to set foot in the store.  Cutting edge technology and fashion, right at your fingertips!  It wasn’t long before Simpson’s-Sears Catalogues became essential in Canadian homes.  Sears brought some of it’s own mail order wisdom to the Simpson’s-Sears relationship with the launch of the Wishbook, the joy of every Canadian child’s heart!  Eventually though, Sears bought out Simpson’s dropping the name but keeping the quality.  Sears was quickly onboard the online ordering phenom, but it wasn’t enough to keep the giant company valid.  They could not reinvent themselves this time.  So we see the end of Sears Canada.  We’ll never see the end of the need for mail order items. We’ll never see the end for store fronts.  The need will always be there, but the demands on how it’s lived out will change.

Our Future Directions Team is working on analyzing this kind of stuff.  The Team consists of Charlie O’Handley, Betty Bailey, Tara Pitts, and Debbie MacIntyre.  We have recruited a fifth person, Wouter Roos, with hopes that he’ll be able join us at the end of the month.  After some pretty intense research on our finances and trends, the Future Directions Team has come to the conclusion that we can continue on for two years as is.  The Future Directions Team is asking for your assistance in helping us to discern our next step. If you check your email right now, you should have an email in your account, and if you don’t do email, Charlie/Betty will have a hard copy for you at the door.  The outlines the results of our work so far, and includes a small survey so that we can gauge the amount of energy and commitment there is to changing our forecasted two years.  This is our last chance, our one shot, to get this right.  The Future Directions Team believes that there’s still lots of Welcoming, Discerning and Doing to be done around the St. Margaret’s Bay area, and we hope that you are willing to join us.  Amen.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God VU262

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation What do I love about St. Luke’s?

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the sung Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 22, 2017 After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Ministry Matters

Anglican Church of Ireland

Book of Samuel

Renley Baratheon

Anointing

Patheos

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Come Touch Our Hearts MV 12

Call to Worship One: The Spirit reaches out to offer us grace. All: The Spirit reaches out to those in need and to those who can offer of themselves. One: The Spirit reaches out to open our minds. All: The Spirit reaches out to offer deep Love. One: The Spirit reaches out with compassion. All: The Spirit reaches out in worship.

Opening Prayer God your presence wraps around us, offering nurture, care and support. We pray that this be a time filled with love, grace and compassion. Amen.

Hymn Teach Me God to Wonder VU 299

Theme Conversation Anointing

Anointing and Laying on of Hands May God’s love, and the peace of Jesus Christ which passes all understanding, be with you all. And also with you. Adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence
God of peace,you teach us that in returning and rest we find life, and that in quietness and confidence is our strength. By the gift of your Spirit, help us to come into your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God.
“God knows us completely and loves us with an everlasting love; God grants us pardon and peace.
In Christ we are offered grace.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

“God forgives,
and calls all of us to confess our fears and failings
with honesty and humility.
God reconciles,
and calls us to repent the part we have played
in damaging our world, ourselves, and each other.
God transforms,
and calls us to protect the vulnerable,
to pray for deliverance from evil,
to work with God for the healing of the world,
that all might have abundant life.
We sing of grace.
” From A Song of Faith
Prayers of the People
Blessing the Oil “Loving God, you prepare a table before us and anoint us with oil. We thank you for this oil, a sign of your grace and Love.
Send your Holy Spirit on us and on what we do now, that through this anointing, we may know the strength that comes from you. Amen.

Anointing “In the name of the Creator, the Teacher, and the Power of Love I anoint you.

May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God look upon you with kindness and give you peace. Amen.

The Prayer of Jesus The Sung Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Readings 1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 7:14-24

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon You’re the Minister?

Last week we heard about the call of Samuel. This week we’re hearing about the call of David. So here are the bits of the story that we’ve missed up to this point. Hannah, a childless woman during a time when a woman’s worth was based on how many male children she was able to give birth to, prayed for a son and offered to dedicate that child to God, should she be so blessed. She was, and she followed through on her promise, taking Samuel as a young boy to the temple to learn how to be a priest. In those days, the Hebrew people were ruled by Judges who were appointed by the Priests. Judges acted in the same way that our Judges do, making rulings and settling disputes. Samuel’s mentor Eli had two sons who were Judges, but they were corrupt. Samuel’s first hard job was to break this news to Eli.
Over the years, Samuel was a good and well respected Priest, but the people were unhappy with the Judge system. They really wanted a King and the symbol of power that came with that. Samuel’s own sons weren’t doing a good job at being Judges, so after a lot of searching, Samuel appoints Saul to be the King for the Hebrew people. Saul was able to rally the people and improve their situation, but after a number of years, the temptation of power was a bit too much and Saul did many regretful things. Samuel could see the direction that things were headed and after a lot of consulting with God set out in search of who would be the next king. That’s where we find ourselves in today’s reading. After David is anointed, he is sent to live with King Saul & Family to learn the ropes of being King. Now King Saul’s should really be one of the nine royal families on Game of Thrones as the deceit and lust is only comparable to the Lannisters, and King Saul’s son Johnathan and the King in waiting David, a relationship that I think fueled the creative juices of the GOT writers for the Renly and Loros sceens. The parallels are fascinating! But that, is getting a head of myself. Today we are talking about the anointing of David.
So here’s what you need to know about anointing. As you heard in the theme conversation, anointing is still used in more orthodox Christian traditions, especially the Roman Catholic Church, as a sacrament. Since the United Church of Canada is a protestant church, we have never considered anointing to be a sacrament, but much like marriage, it has still held a special place in our ceremonies. This is where things get a little confusing. Protestantism is any church that isn’t Roman Catholic. We’re going to learn more about this next week as October 31st is the 500th anniversary of Protestantism or the Reformation of Christianity. So even though Protestantism only recognizes two sacraments as ways of receiving grace from God, other church that have since split from the Roman Catholic church or have further evolved their understanding of grace have kept anointing as a sacrament. This means that many churches have different places and uses for anointing. In the United Church, we use it at Baptism, Confirmation, Installation of Leaders, and in services specifically designed to offer comfort, strength, and peace to those who need it most. In our faith tradition, anointing is a symbolic action that is meant to encourage you in your journey, which can feel like a change, even though its symbolism of our love and support.
Before I had my first pastoral charge, I had a student placement. I was a much more timid person then, and leading worship was something I was very uncomfortable with. The minister I was working with at the time, is a highly liturgical person. He loves all of the various parts of worship and their history, and every Sunday, he would put on a black preaching gown. He identifies very strongly with the ordained description of “word, sacrament, and pastoral care”. When I told him about my fears, his big piece of advice to me was to go out and get a gown, put it on and “fake it til I make it”. While he was the complete opposite of my staff person at school that year, that was one thing they agreed on. I would have the confidence once I could see myself as a minister. My staff person’s solution wasn’t an alb though, it was student supply. In other words my own pastoral charge. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without both. Just putting on an alb doesn’t make me a minister.
Action – taking off the alb.
It still took a few years before I could get up and lead without my alb. Now I prefer to be without it as I feel like it holds me back with the same thing it helped me with in the first place – the perception of being the “minister”. Our story from John today follows a similar theme. Jesus is out teaching when the people in the crowd begin to question him. As a young – and I use that term loosely – person in ministry, you do get questioned all the time. It’s inevitable. I didn’t realize this myself, until I started to question – is that kid old enough to…do whatever job I had done when I was their age? The older I get the more I question. But just because I keep doing it doesn’t make it right. It didn’t when it happened to Jesus either, so he pushed back with his reply: Don’t judge by appearances, judge by what is right. In other words, don’t follow my teachings just because I preformed a miracle, follow my teachings because you believe that this is the right way to live. Have you ever been judged for your appearance before?
I routinely get mistaken for someone who is not the minister. Most often I get mistaken for the office administrator, but I also get mistaken for a long lost cousin or grandchild at funerals and visitations and I’ve come to realize that I also get mistaken for a home care worker. Yup. Just wish I figured that one out sooner, because I bet when it happened before and I didn’t realize it, I was probably “the most useless homecare worker who only talks about church.” At least I can laugh about it now.
The times I’ve been misjudged have had a relatively small impact on my life though. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for good, kind, loving and generous people who find themselves misjudged due to their appearance. Women who choose to wear hijabs or niqhbs. People with piercing or tattoos that celebrate a significant life journey or culture, Transgender people who feel one way inside, but look the opposite on the outside. People who’s life stories would bring you to tears, but they seem so pulled together. Some of the people who have had the courage to post #metoo. I try not to assume anything on people, but it’s hard, and sometimes almost unavoidable.
A few months ago I listened to a podcast where the speaker was talking about implicit bias. I found it fascinating. The idea is that everyone has implicit biases no matter how hard they try and avoid them. An implicit bias is an attitude or stereotype that affects our understanding, actions, or decisions in an unconscious way. It happens to everyone based on life experience and social experience. So in North America in particular, even what we watch on tv on see online plays into implicit bias. I took an online test that was mentioned in the podcast. The test showed a series of faces and words in rapid order and you had to press specific buttons for specific answers. Most people show some implicit bias, while some people show a lot of implicit bias. Very few people showed little to no implicit bias. My first test was a bit of a learning curve, and turned up some implicit bias, so I did a few others with varying results and went back to my first one again, not because I was unhappy with my score, but because I want to “beat the machine” now that I knew the routine and the method of the test. Even though I anticipated every answer, and got none wrong, I still came out with some implicit bias. It was the only test I didn’t get an answer wrong! Even on the one test that scored little to no bias, I still got some wrong.
The fact the I couldn’t fool the computer in the implicit bias test, means that I do judge books by their covers, even though I really don’t want to. It means that I need to move slowly to ensure my privilege or life experience isn’t clouding my vision. For example, when Bob and I were house hunting, there was one thing we were both assuming differently. Bob was assuming that if we ever have kids we would need to be within walking distance of their schools, as he grew up less than 1km away from each of his schools. I, on the other hand, was assuming that some bus ride was totally normal and to be expected, after all I spent close to two hours on the bus each day. I was surprised that was even on Bob’s priority list! It was my implicit bias that everyone rode a bus to school at some point in their life. Bob and I had been together for about 13 years at that point!
Avoiding judging someone or not placing a bias on them is hard work. It obviously isn’t instantaneous in all circumstances either. Just because David was anointed didn’t make him king he had to earn it. Just because Jesus did big things didn’t make him the leader either. And putting on a cross doesn’t make me a Christian. It’s all about being who you really are, and loving people for who they really are. Some of you received an anointing and blessing today. That’s an outside thing. The real goal is to let that outside symbol, sink in so that we know we are loved on the inside too. The past is the past, it doesn’t make us who we are. It’s our intentions that matter. And if your intention is to be loving, kind and compassionate to everyone, including yourself, then we’re all headed in the same direction. Amen.

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Because of your generosity, we are able to offer care and compassion in the form of prayer shawls, meals, company, and books. With your continued support, we can continue to offer these small comforts to even more people.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 15, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Remit 6 Background Info
Remit 6 Study Guide
Touchstone Canada Remit 6 Discussion Papers

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Here I am Lord VU 509

Call to Worship One: Are you listening? All: Here we are. One: Are you ready? All: Here we are. One: Are you willing? All: Here we are.

Opening Prayer Here we are ready to worship. Ready to learn. Ready to celebrate. Ready for the movement of the Holy Spirit. May it be so. Amen.

Theme Conversation What do you want to be when you grow up?

Readings 1 Samuel 3
1 Corinthians 12:4–11
From A Song of Faith

I’ll do the slides for this section One Order Discussion 50 mins
What is a category 3 remit? 5 mins
Current Ministry Categories 5 mins
Proposed Ministry Categories 5 mins
Key issues to consider
Education (Discussion) 8 mins
Identity (Discussion) 8 mins
Equity (Discussion) 8 mins
Other issues 5 mins
Voting 6 mins

Hymn We Have This Ministry VU 510

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, we are able to discern our individual calling, explore the possibilities and make decisions together. With your continued generosity, we can continue to be a grass roots church.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music Body, Mind, and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the sung Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 8, 2017 Thanksgiving

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Wonder Bread
St. Luke’s Pinterest Board
Cornucopia
Martha Stewart Cornucopia
Haiku Poetry
The Manna Principle

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet VU 245

Call to Worship “One: Every day is a day of Thanksgiving.
All: Each day I open my eyes to the blessings around me.
One: Even on days when it feels like there might be nothing to be grateful for,
All: I know that I can be the grateful part of someone else’s day.

Opening Prayer “The Spirit of Creation is all around us.
We are grateful for the possibility of being
ever more aware, human and alive.
May it be so.” R Hunt, Adapted

Hymn Eve’ry Day is a Day of Thanksgiving MV 185

Readings Exodus 16:1-18
John 6:51

Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Gratitude Stations

Hymn Grateful MV 182

Minute for Mission

Minute from the FRC

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, time spent in the FRC is possible. Through food, rides, and an abundance of compassion, healing can begin.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the spoken Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

October 1, 2017 World Communion Sunday

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

https://youtu.be/8kNTUX0mWP8

https://youtu.be/AAvfquqboZY

Come for the Meal is Ready

Mennonite Church of Canada World Communion Resources

Worshiping With Children

Jordan Rimmer

Working Preacher

Rex Hunt

Sohum

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful VU 291

Call to Worship “One: The season of creation surrounds us
All: We look for God’s presence in the changing leaves, the fall mums, and crisp apples
One: God is in creation and in our relationship with creation
All: We celebrate God’s presence as we gather to worship in this season of creation

Opening Prayer Source of Life and Love, we pray that we will be encouraged by your Love and strengthened by your peace. Amen.

Hymn Take Your Shoes Off Moses Arr. Courtney Patton

Theme Conversation I am who I am

Readings Exodus 2:23-25, 3:1-17
John 8:58
From “What is the Bible?”
Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon Standing at the Threshold

So Jesus is quoting Moses today, and unfortunately Jesus chooses a particular story that doesn’t translate to English overly well, but the parts that do make for a very impressive story. So when the people of power ask Jesus who he is, he responds with the same line as God gave Moses, when Moses asked who God was. Of course the people who were questioning Jesus were upset. They were so upset that they chased him out of the temple in an attempt to throw stones at him. The part of the Moses story he quotes, is so confusing because the climax of the story is somewhat untranslatable, and it’s the climax Jesus quoted. But allow me to back up a bit. For those of you unfamiliar with the Moses story, Moses was Hebrew in a time that was particularly horrible for Hebrew people. The Pharoah during the time of Moses’ birth had ordered that all the Hebrew babies be killed. Fortunately for Moses, his mother hid him in the reeds by the river where the Pharoh’s daughter found him and raised him as her own. During his formative years Moses often noticed the way the Hebrew people were treated and felt it was unfair. Moses identified as Hebrew, and when he sees someone mistreating another Hebrew person, he kills the attacker and needs to flee. After running from Egypt to Midian, Moses marries and becomes a shepherd. And this is where we find him in today’s reading. Out, tending the sheep, when he sees a sight beyond all sights. A bush that is burning, yet the fire doesn’t kill it. Moses knows he’s standing in a sacred place, so he takes off his shoes, and receives his call from God. Moses feels a little inadequate to do the job, and in his back and forth with God he asks the question “Who am I to say that you are?” and the reply was “Yahweh” a word so sacred that it’s often spelt without vowels. Untranslatable, “I am” is sometimes considered the meaning of the word Yahweh, but that doesn’t really do it either. There just isn’t a word to sum up “I have been since before time began and I will be beyond the end of time. I am everything and everything is me.”
So Hum is a Sanskrit phrase that is used in the yogic tradition as a mantra. It’s meaning is very similar. Again, it’s untranslatable in English, but is traditionally thought of as “I am THAT”, that being in all capital letters and unique to each person. It’s often used when a person needs to reconnect to the Spirit. Inhaling on So, exhaling on Hum, syncing the mind and the breath. It is found in many of the sacred texts of yoga.
I learned about So Hum during my yoga teacher training a few years ago. I took my training with Breathing Space Yoga because the certifying person is the daughter of a colleague and I wanted to take the training with someone who understood Christianity and would understand why I couldn’t be there on Sunday mornings. When I mentioned the parallel between “I am” in the Bible and “I am” in the meditation practice that had been given to us that day, I was surprised at how many people, even people who considered themselves Christian, couldn’t see similar themes, concepts, stories, untranslatable words, etc between the sacred text assigned to our class and the Bible. Tracking the similarities between the Bhagavadh Gita and the Bible ended up being my final project. It was a huge paper, which I summed up with a Godly Play story that I felt explained the word “Namaste” for me.
Crossing the threshold from a theologically trained person into the yoga world deepened both of those experiences for me. Much like Moses and stepping over the threshold, close enough to see the bush and need to remove his shoes, removing my shoes and stepping onto my yoga mat is like stepping onto the same ground that Moses did. It’s threshold theology at it’s finest.
I learned about Threshold Theology when I studied Godly Play. In a traditional Godly Play classroom, a Doorperson greets each child and helps them to “get ready” to enter the holy place. Usually with a handshake and the question “are you ready?” if the child answers no, then the doorperson and the child and sometimes the parent work together to help the child figure out what they need to do to be attentive, engaged, and most importantly feeling calm. The idea behind this is that when the child enters the space, they are supposed to experience God. Feeling calm and valued, children step over the threshold and into a place where questions with many answers, creativity, sacred stories and self-acceptance are encouraged and community is built through a simple communal meal and a blessing. Then they go out into the world, ready, because they have encountered God in that space, specifically designed for them.
Have you ever noticed a threshold before? Have you ever hesitated before entering a place? Maybe someone carried you over a threshold, or perhaps it was a hip-check? Thresholds mark the beginning of one place and the ending of another. There is a distinct difference between one place and the other: inside or outside, my room or the common area of the house, employees only or the rest of the store, private or public.
What is the threshold for a scared place? Moses obviously didn’t know or he would have taken off his sandals. When we go into someone’s home, we take off our shoes as a sign of respect for their home. There’s also a difference between entering through the front door verses the kitchen door. Are you a guest or are you family? Is there a difference? What does your home say about you? What does our spiritual home say about us? How do we know that this place is Holy? And what does it say about our understanding of God? I have to admit, this is by far the widest range of theological belief I’ve encountered in a congregation. How are we saying that about ourselves? How are we saying that in here is different from out there? How are we saying that we are different from the Lion’s Club, the Freemasons, or any other group that does charitable work? How are we different from other churches?
If we aren’t able to say how we’re different from all of the other groups, organizations and churches, then how will anyone ever know they might want to step over our threshold and into this life we call sacred? How will people know that our understanding of God includes unconditional Love, celebration of diversity, creation, creativity, justice, community and so much more?
I dream of a day when people will come into view of St. Luke’s and know instantly that these are the things that we value, and by the time they step over the threshold, they’ll know they are home. I dream that people will meet you good folks going about their daily lives and they’ll be interested to come to this place that is so life-giving for themselves, and when they cross the threshold into the physical building, they will feel so warmly welcomed that they will know instantly that they are home, that this place is Holy and holy can look like home.
I’ve been asked a few times since I’ve been here to describe my ministry, and I think most folks by now could easily answer, my ministry is Love. But it shouldn’t be my ministry that draws people to come here, it should be yours. As much as my ministry is about Love, it’s also about empowering congregations to find their own ministry, so it’s authentic and real and grows as the people change and grow. It’s sort of like a mime trapped in a box. The mime only thinks they are trapped in the box. Once someone opens that invisible door, the mime is free to step out. Or in. Church is the same, let’s open those invisible doors, so people on the inside feel free to go out and talk about their sacred experience here, and so that people on the inside don’t necessarily have to see the door in order to come in. Amen.
Hymn Soil of God, You and I MV 174

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, crossing the threshold into the sacred that is St. Luke’s is a friendly and welcome experience for many. With your continued generosity, we can make this a sacred and safe place for everyone who crosses the threshold.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Communion Hymn All Who Hunger VU 460

Passing the Peace During the Passing of the Peace, consent is a must.  You should not feel guilty if you are unable to receive someone’s gift of peace, nor should you feel guilty if your gift of peace is not received.  Please be aware of body language and the variety of needs in regards to personal space.
(Liturgy adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence)
“As we come to this table,
we are reminded that this is not the table of this congregation [or pastoral charge]; nor is it the table of The United Church of Canada, or any particular denomination. It is the table of Jesus Christ, the family feast of the whole people of God. All who seek to be nourished and sustained in the journey of faith
and long to live justly and in peace with their neighbour, are welcome here. Let us eat and drink together for our strengthening in the faith, and for the sake of the world.

“May God be with us.
God is here among us.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We open them to God and to one another.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is good to give thanks and praise.

“Eternal God, Maker of heaven and earth, we join with all your people to give you thanks and praise. You formed the universe in your wisdom and created all things by your grace. We praise you for all your good gifts: the witness of saints and prophets; the work of faithful women and men; this earth in all its blessing and promise; and this bread, once scattered, now brought together and made one. In the hope that your people may be brought together from the ends of the earth into your reign of justice and compassion, we gather with those of every time and every place
to give you praise and glory:

“Holy, holy, holy God,
Power of life and love!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna through the ages!
Blest is the One who comes to bring your justice to earth!

“We do what Jesus did the night before he died. He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat; remember me.”
Then he took the cup, and said,
“Take, drink; remember.”

“We remember Jesus’ integrity unto death.
We remember the hope of resurrection.
We remember the promise of compassion and justice.

“Praise be to God, the Source of love!
Praise be to Christ, Love incarnate!
Praise be to the Spirit, Love’s power!
Praise be to God!
Amen.

Let’s pray together the prayer of Jesus.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

The bread of tomorrow. The cup of new life.

“Gracious God,
may your gifts of love transform and enliven us that we may live lives of thanksgiving. May your presence among us provoke such longing for your realm, that we will never be satisfied until the whole earth knows your justice, your peace, and your love.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

September 24, 2017 Creation 3

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Faith Element
Midrash

Child Poverty Links

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/child-and-family-poverty-report-nova-scotia-1.3865628
https://nsadvocate.org/2016/11/03/poverty-rates-in-nova-scotia-exceed-national-average-are-highest-in-maritimes/
http://novascotia.ca/coms/department/backgrounders/poverty/index.html
https://nsadvocate.org/2017/09/18/where-the-poor-people-live-stats-canada-puts-nova-scotia-poverty-on-the-map/

 

Mental Health Links

http://www.mentalhealthns.ca/about-mental-illness/

 

Domestic Violence Links

https://nsdomesticviolence.ca/vawresearch/statistics
https://nsdomesticviolence.ca/sites/default/files/documents/sexualAssaultRpt09.pdf
https://women.gov.ns.ca/sites/default/files/documents/factsheets/Dec%202011%20FS3%20Domestic%20Violence%20-%20online.pdf

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn This is the Day MV 122

Call to Worship “One: From the deep waters of the Atlantic, to the warm waters of the St. Margaret’s Bay,
All: From Hammond’s Plains, to Hubbards, to Hubley, One: From the places we came from this morning,
All: To the places of our hearts,
One: We celebrate your presence.
All: We celebrate your Spirit in our midst. ”

Opening Prayer R Hunt, Adapted
“Creating God, whose rugged beauty fills our planet,
may we discern your vibrant presence among us,
especially in the wonders of our Bay.

May our spirits be lifted to rejoice with the sand
and the wind and even the fog.
May it be so with us.”

Hymn Spirit God, Be Our Breath Be Our Song MV 150

Theme Conversation It’s the Climb

Readings Genesis 27: 1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17
John 1:50-51
From “What is the Bible?”
Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon Dreaming
The Narrative Lectionary has served up to us a continuation of the story of Abraham and Isaac. At this point in the story though, Abraham has died and Isaac is on his death bed. By this time, Isaac has married and now has twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau are opposites in many senses, and their relationship at this point in their lives is still very much a rivalry. By this time, Jacob has tricked his brother out of his inheritance and in this story also tricked his father into giving him the blessing originally intended to bestow head of the family status on Esau, shortly afterwards, Jacob is encouraged to run away under the guise of going off to find a proper wife. During the journey, after sleeping on a rock, Jacob has a weird dream that frightens him. A tall ladder with angels going up and down. God appeared in the dream to Jacob, promising him land and prosperity. Keep in mind our lesson from last week. People in these times felt they had no choice other than to let the things that had happened to their ancestors also happen to them. For people who had been displaced for generations, this promise of land and prosperity would have been huge. In the end, Jacob pledges his loyalty to God in worship and then goes off to find a wife.
In our passage from John, Jesus is quoting scripture. The thing that I like about the Narrative Lectionary is that when Jesus quotes scripture, they include that story as part of the lectionary readings for that day. So yes, Jesus is referencing Jacob’s dream about the ladder. It’s like a dream coming true. Jesus is in the process of recruiting Phillip and Nathanael. He’s pretty much got Phillip onboard and Phillip brings Nathanael over. Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows who he is. Jesus tells him he shouldn’t be surprised, and that if he’s surprised that Jesus recognized someone sitting on the edge of the crowd gathered to listen, then wait until he’s sees what’s next, it’ll be just like THE dream…
Jacob’s dream was certainly epic, but the dreaming didn’t stop with him. We hear of dreams and sometimes nightmares throughout the Bible. All the same general theme – the world would be a better place if …dot, dot, dot or if we don’t stop ____________ things will get worse. Throughout history, there have been many famous dreamers. Martin Luther and his 95 theses for the church. Beethoven and his symphonies. Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity. Martin Luther King Junior and the most memorable speech in history. Dr Fredrick Banting and insulin. Woodsworth and Douglas and universal health care. John Lennon and a song that continues to move people. And these are just a few. The dreams have continued. The 100 delegates from the United Church who travelled to the Greenbelt festival to experience a different kind of church. All of the women who marched in Washington for equal rights. Theologians such as Rob Bell, Mary Daly, John Shelby Spong, Rosemary Radford Ruther, John Dominic Crossan, Ian Lawton, Don Murray, Bruce Saguin and so, so many more who dream of a broader understanding God, the role of the church and the Bible.
In addition to the Jacob’s ladder story, the kids are getting a little bit of Midrash in Sunday School. Midrash is a Hebrew tradition of Rabbis filling in the gaps in the stories of the Torah, which is the sacred Hebrew scripture. The details are added to help the listener understand the concepts of the story in a contemporary way. In their story, Jacob climbs up the ladder and has a fun day experiencing what heaven was like. While Jacob likes heaven, after all, everyone loves, everyone is equal, and everything is easy, he realizes that there are somethings about home he misses too, like the satisfaction of climbing to the top of the mountain, or the joy of playing a game even if you lose and the feeling of accomplishment as you try harder and learn from the times you lost. So he climbs back down the ladder at the end of the day. While this is a noble attitude, what would it be like if the gap between winning and losing was a little closer? What is the mountain was the size of one in Nova Scotia rather than one in the Rockies? Maybe it would have taken Jacob so long to leave Laban and go home to apologize to his brother.
One of my favourite things in ministry is dreaming with churches. I love to dream about how our organization can make the larger community a safer, healthier, and happier all by showing the loving kindness of God to others. After being here a full two years next Sunday, I’m wondering how we here at St. Luke’s are going to connect to the larger St. Margaret’s Bay Community? What can we do to make the world a little safer, a little healthier, and a little happier for those who need it most?
Did you know that one in 3 people in some areas of Nova Scotia live below the poverty line? St. Luke’s happens to be located in an area where 10% or 1 in 10 people live in poverty. 1 in 5 Nova Scotians suffers from mental illness. 1 in 25 Nova Scotians has experienced sexual violence and reported it to police. A little bit safer, healthier and happier couldn’t hurt.
As an almost 38 year old minister I have a minimum of 27 years left before I’m 65. That’s a long time. Especially considering the national church has needed to restructure for financial reasons and I’m not sure when the national church will finally produce a balanced budget. I’m not opposed to challenging myself. I’m not sure what the church will look like in 7 years, let alone 27 years. But I’m pretty sure that without the United Church of Canada challenging society to be a little happier, a little healthier and a little safer, in particular for vulnerable people won’t happen as often. And if our stats are any indication, it’s not happening enough now.
Declaration (here is where we are headed, here is what God is doing)
So Jacob had a conversation with God. From this we can assume a few things:
1. Broken and damaged relationships does nothing for God. In fact, broken and damaged relationships harm God. Since Jacob proclaimed his loyalty to God when he woke up, he probably knew then that he would eventually return to his brother.
2. He had a profound and life changing experience during that conversation that affected not only him, but the people that would follow him, otherwise it never would have been included in the Torah or Bible.
3. Although there was a ladder going up into the sky with angels coming up and down, we aren’t actually told that Jacob goes up the ladder – only that God is standing beside him. If Jacob got a glimpse of heaven, it was the possibility of heaven here on earth or as I like to call it “The Good of the Whole”. Jacob’s trickery wasn’t for the Good of the Whole, but his apology was.
A dream of love can change the whole way we look at things, to desire to live a life of love can change the way we live. Living our lives with love can change a community. A community living lives of love can change the world.
The task before us, is not an easy one. We live in a time where success is measured by how much power and control a person has rather than how much love a person has. Jacob learned this lesson. The power and wealth he tricked his brother out of didn’t give him the success he longed for. After his dream and his pledge, Jacob’s life started to turn. It didn’t happen overnight, it took decades. But like Jacob’s, a life lived in love is never miss-spent.
Music Ministry

Offering Invitation
With your generosity, we can work towards dreams of justice, equality, and love here in our community and around the world.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music God of the Sparrow VU 229 (v1,3, & 6)

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the spoken Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

September 17, 2017 Creation 2

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Rex Hunt

About Rob Bell “What is the Bible?”

Pulpit Fiction

The Liturgists

The Deconstructionists

The Bible For Normal People

 

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgment of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn It’s A Song of Praise to the Maker MV 30

Call to Worship
One: Listen: the song of creation rises around us.
All: Wind in the trees, rain on the roof, children laughing and crying. Even when we are inside, we still hear creation sing.
One: Creation calls to come and give thanks.
All: We gather today to join our voices in the song of creation.
One: Together we sing.
All: Together we pray.

Opening Prayer
Creating Spirit, we pray that our worship today be filled with moments of community, and moments of hope. May it be so.

Hymn We Praise You for the Sun VU 225

Theme Conversation The Courage to be a Lamb

Readings
Genesis 21:1-3; 22:1-14
John 1:29
From “What is the Bible?”
After Scripture I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon Taylor vs Abraham: Look What You Made Me Do

We’ve skipped a lot. We went from creation to Abraham and Isaac. We missed Cain and Abel, we missed the flood. We missed Moses and the Exodus, we even missed Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. In “What is the Bible?” Rob even spends a whole chapter connecting Moses story to Abraham’s story. We’ve got all that history, and we’re focusing in on one point today. Abraham, Isaac, the will of God and the gift of freewill.
To set up the barebones of the story, you have to know a bit of the history. Creation happened, each day was a different project within creation and it took seven days including a rest day. For folks who enjoy playing the numbers game in the Bible, seven is a complete number. Next came the temptation of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel which is a story of great violence and Rob Bell points out. Then we deal with Noah, and a new creation. After Noah comes the people of Babylon and their desire of the tower. After that is when Moses’ story begins, the people are exiled and in search of a new promised land, in other words a new beginning. Do you see a pattern yet? A beginning, a temptation, violence, and the cycle repeats itself. In fact, the people believed that history would continue to repeat itself, the you would do exactly what your parents did, and their parents did, that nothing ever changed. This is Rob’s big point leading up to this story, it’s only the stories of the people who make these big changes that we hear about in the Bible. At some point they got written down, but these change makers were memorable in the oral tradition of the Bible. So by the time we make our way through history to Abraham, it’s not much wonder he thought he had to kill his son. If it had happened a generation before, it was going to happen again.
My grandmother lives in an original homestead on an original land grant in New Harbour. The house was built in the 1800’s and has a hand dug cellar, an over the kitchen, and a proper attic. This spring, Grammie got some sort of grant for seniors to get some updated insulation. This means cleaning out 150 years worth of storage in the over the kitchen and attic in particular. It’s been a process for sure. Do you know what it’s like to try and figure out what something is that was put in an attic 100 years ago, let alone why it was put there? That’s to say nothing of the secret hidey holes that keep popping up, and we’re all trying to find the Bobby Orr Rookie card that was put “in a safe place” in the 60s and a few other family treasures misplaced over the years. The whole situation reminds me of the innovation becomes tradition, becomes problem. I doubt that when my great, great grandparents put something in the attic that they would have even imagined that my mom would have to pull it out, or that I’d be posting ads on kijijji and researching bulk flea market buyers and the value of objects that may or may not be considered antique or vintage. The same was true for Abraham. Something that had started long before he came along – for what ever reason – was no longer working for him. The bigger problem, because he BELIEVED he couldn’t do anything about changing his fate, he would lose something very special to him.
Have you ever had a belief that you felt was holding you back? Something that you felt you couldn’t change, even if you wanted to? What was stopping you from changing? Slightly different approach, have you ever needed to make a decision about something, but worried that you’d be letting down your ancestors? For example, when the church I grew up in decided to close, I knew it was the right decision in my heart, but until I really thought about it, I did have a little bit of guilt about giving up on something that so many people worked so hard to build. But I knew it was the right decision for that particular congregation, the people who were currently there and there were no foreseeable people to come to even consider. When I thought about my ancestors who had built the church and worked hard to maintain the congregation, it became clear to me and to others I spoke with, that my ancestors came to this country and that particular community to start a new life for themselves, a better life. Let me tell you I come from some resilient stock, and while a building might have been a small bump in the road, it’s certainly not the end of the spiritual lives of the 6 and now 5 people who remained.
For those of you who don’t pay much attention to pop culture, Taylor Swift who started out as an idealistic, romantic, teen country music singer came out with another single recently. It’s called “Look What You Made Me Do” and while some critics are calling it bitter and revenge music, I see it more as a parody. Yes, Taylor probably did write a few revenge songs after some break ups in her younger years, but the last few years have been filled with songs that are more about being stronger than people think she is and not taking anything haters say personally. “Look What You Made Me Do” is no different, she repeatedly says or uses an image that pushes the point the old Taylor is dead. If you watch the video all the way to the end, all of the characters from her past hit videos reprise, and the newer characters tell them to get over themselves and stop being so whiny. Taylor’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is re-create herself into a fierce powerhouse. Abraham’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is leaving behind his belief that he held true for a new future for his whole family. I’ll let you judge who did it better, but I think they both broke the mold for what was expected of them.
So what are we doing hear if we aren’t celebrating where we’ve been and where we are called to go? Somehow, I don’t think the lovesick Taylor Swift knew she was going to grow up to be a feminist who continues to show dignity and class with every bump and barb along the way. Nor do I think Abraham felt anything good – other than his son of course, would come from refusing to sacrifice his son just for the sake of sacrifice. But good things did happen. Good things can happen. We can break cycles that seem inevitable.
We are resilient people ourselves. Christians, the people following the way of Jesus, have always faced bumps in the road. And we’ll continue to face bumps in the road, but we don’t have to just let things happen to us. We can and will continue to make decisions that promote love, kindness and the Good of the Whole. It’s a good life, if we choose to live it. Amen.

Hymn Never Ending Joy MV 40

Minute for Mission

Offertory Invitation
Because of your generosity, we are able to provide unique and progressive Sunday School lesson each Sunday. By leaving the generic lesson plans behind, our teachers are able to choose activites and accompanying stories to suit the unique needs of the kids who come to St. Luke’s. We are also able to build our intergenerational community through common themes and complimentary activities. Your generosity ensures appropriate training for teachers, engaging activities for kids, and the next generation of people ready to show Love to the world by following Jesus’ example. With your continued generosity we are able to do this, and even more.

Music Ministry Spirit Blowing Through Creation Words by Marty Haugen (Seasons of the Spirit vol 8)

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Communion Hymn There Is Room for All MV 62
Communion this morning will be served in small groups. When the time comes, you are invited to gather your chairs in groups of 8. Communion elements will be distributed to each circle where you will be given directions on how to serve each other. (Communion Liturgy created by Rex Hunt, adapted)
Welcome
One: May the Creator be with you.
All: And also with you!
One: May our hearts be opened.
All: We open ourselves to life.
One: Creator of light, Teacher of community, Source of love,
All: your call to community stirs within us.

Passing the Peace
During the Passing of the Peace, consent is a must.  You should not feel guilty if you are unable to receive someone’s gift of peace, nor should you feel guilty if your gift of peace is not received.  Please be aware of body language and the variety of needs in regards to personal space.

Thanksgiving
One: The sacred emerges for us everywhere:
in the rhythm of the oceans
in the magnificence of the stars,
in the beauty of all beings.
All:  We are grateful for the gifts of our story.
One: In the fall, we gather back together, we harvest our abundance, we celebrate the beauty and wonder of creation.
All: This hand of mine began to take shape millions of years ago as the first leaves stretched out for nourishment and light.
One: Eons ago the earth itself was glowing with heat as it separated itself from the sun.
All:  The ground we stand on carries in it the remnants of volcanos and oceans which once dominated the landscape.
One: As the earth rotated around the sun, plants and animals grew and gathered.
All: Fields filled with wheat and grapes warmed in the sun.
One: This morning we gather around the bread and the cup, gifts of the earth.
All: This morning we celebrate our oneness with the plants and the animals, which precede and surround us.
One:  This morning we remember we are earth people, united with each other and to all on this globe by the ground under us.
All: One body, one history, one home for us all.

The Story
Near the end of his life, Jesus shared a sacred tradition of his people and shaped it into something new.
Around a simple table, he celebrated the liberating story of Passover.
He dreamed of another revolution: a world without a Pharaoh or a Caesar; a world governed by the love which brought it into being.
Together with his friends, Jesus offered the bread of hope and the cup of compassion.

Breaking the Bread of Hope
In silence
Pouring the Cup of Compassion
In silence

The Invitation
One: Come from loneliness into the welcome of this table.
All: Come from anxiety into the peace of this table.
One: Come from tensions into the joy of this table.
All: Come from conflict into the love of this table.
One: Come and share the bread which leavens our hope.
All: Come and share the cup which strengthens our compassion.
One: Come to enliven our capacity to work for transformation.
All: Come, let us lay aside those things that shield our hearts.
One: Let us be open to the holy we meet in creation, and in the mirror.

Sharing the Bread and the Cup
You are invited to form circles of 8.
Once everyone is seated, the Bread and the Cup are shared around the circle. Each person holds the bread and the cup for the person before them and offers the following blessing:
Bread of Hope
Cup of Compassion

After the Sharing (N Steeves, adapted)
One: Spirit of life, though we live in a world of need: Here we have tasted hope and hunger for a world more just. Here we have glimpsed the dream of creation renewed.
All: May we have the courage to be bread and wine for one another.

Commissioning & Benediction
Sung Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

Back in Action! September 10, 2017

Links of Interest/Biblography:

One Sky
The Big History Project
Godly Play Creation Story

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgment of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Called By Earth And Sky MV 135

Call to Worship
One: In the beginning there was God, and there was nothing.
All: In the beginning, God was Love.
One: Out of Love the universe grew, from two tiny molecules into galexies and stars, solar systems and planets.
All: Out of Love grew ecosystems, with plants and animals, humans and relationships.
One: Over the millenia, we have grown evolving and strengthening.
All: Over the millenia, we have not stayed the same, so we celebrate creation as the gentle and natural movement of life.

Opening Prayer
Creating God, as we gather to worship the Spirit that flows around us, we are reminded that in the grand scheme of things, we are only a small part. May we always remain grounded in the Love that created it all. Amen.

Hymn Ka manama’o ‘I ‘O MV 103

Theme Conversation The Creation Story

Readings
John 1:1-5
From Rob Bell

Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon This is the Beginning

A quick review of our readings for today.  First up was Genesis and it was told in the Godly Play.  According to Judeo-Christian tradition, the earth was created over a metaphorical seven days.  Each day has it’s own place and purpose in the grand scheme of things, and God declares each and every one of them “Good”. First there was nothing.  Then came the Light and the Dark, please note that both of them were declared good.  After that came the firmament, the division of the waters above and the waters below.  I like to compare this to the separation of gases and liquids in the swirling mass that happened after the Big Bang.  The third day was the Sun and Moon, giving us day and night, again both of which are declared good.  The fourth day saw the separation of the land and the water.  The fifth day birds and fish and the sixth day those with two legs and those with many legs, all of which are also declared good.  On the seventh day, God gives us the gift of rest, which is once more declared good.

The second reading comes to us from the book of John, it is another of the many creation stories accounted for in the Bible.  This one has a bit more of a poetic and metaphorical feel to it though and is ever so slightly different from the Genesis creation story.  In John, the Word, which may or may not or maybe some combination of both be God, was the only thing that existed at first.  God and the Word were together, then God created everything, while the Word gave everything life and light.  It was a joint effort, and ever since then nothing can put out the light, or in some translations understand the light.  The darkness isn’t necessarily declared bad, but the light is declared the best, as nothing can put it out.

Our reading from “What is the Bible?” our book for the congregational book study, uses the Genesis creation story as an example of why we don’t always understand the reasons for some of the details in the Bible stories.  In a nut shell, the Bible is a collection of stories written by different, but like-minded people who had at least a similar-ish understanding of God or at least validated each other’s understanding of God.  But not all stories by all people.   There are many stories that didn’t make it into our Bible, and Rob offers a Babylonian creation story as an example.

If you haven’t heard of the Big History Project, I highly recommend it.  It’s a course that is recommended for high school students, but is quite engaging for a wider age range.  It digs into the history of the earth from scientific, historical, and even a variety of religious and cultural viewpoints.  Why is it important to view something as basic as the earths’ creation from a variety of view points? Because even people who are looking at the exact same thing, can be seeing it in a different way.

This is from Artists Wendy MacNaughton and Julia Rothman.

“On August 13, 2017, at precisely 12:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, 88 artists all over the world stopped what they were doing, looked up, and drew the sky. What each artist saw was unique to the time, the weather, and the place. The locations ranged from Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, Buenos Aires to rural Georgia. Some saw different hues of blue. Some saw black, pink, or gray. Some saw stars or clouds or fog or rain. Here it was summer. There it was night. In one place a fire left a heavy brown haze. Whatever sky the artist saw, they captured it on paper in their own unique style. They were, at that exact moment, separate skies. But when we view these drawings together, they become one far-stretching, simultaneous world view. They become a portrait of one shared sky.”

Every single one of these pictures is different.  There are some similarities, but each is expressed very differently.  One sky, 88 different ways.  While one may not be your particular truth, it is the truth of the person who created it.

Have you ever been caught in the middle?  Like when two different children are arguing and they are telling you the same story about the beloved toy getting broken, and you can see the truth – really both are at fault, but both kids are terribly hurt and wanting you to say they were right, the other was wrong, and they both keep saying “but I’m telling the truth!”  I’m sure even some of you have been in this situation with adults instead of children.  The truth is both people are terribly hurt.  To hear only one side is to hear only a small piece of the story.

So my question at this point is this.  If this is one small part of our larger faith story, if this is the beginning of the larger story, what role does creation play in our current faith story?  It teaches us to begin again.

It’s hard to see it now, but understanding the role of creation in our own faith sets us up for the rest of the stories we will hear and process this fall.  God always was and always will be.  Creation does not belong to humans.  Humans belong to creation.  We are part of a network so much larger than we can possibly understand.  Unless we recognize and celebrate this larger network of creation regularly, it’s possible to forget that we are only a small part of it all.  Our connection with God is no more important than any other part of creation, there’s no one understanding of God that is more important or right than another.  God existed before any of those understandings, and before any of those understandings became faith traditions. What we thought was the right way, might not have been.  What we thought was the right language then, might not be now. We might need to begin creating again.

So here’s what we need to do.  We need to take a step back and assess what it is that keeps us grounded in the idea that each new day is an opportunity to begin creating again.  God didn’t sit still until day seven, and what happens after Sunday? Monday.  A whole new week.  We need to keep building and working at our understanding of what role it is that we play is this great big creation story and focus on seeing where it takes us.  If we are going to survive some of the craziness that is currently going on in our world, we need to be firmly grounded in our faith, so that we can begin again if we need to.

Have you ever noticed that when Osprey make their minds up about their nests, it’s very hard to change them?  On my way home to New Harbour, there’s a spot on a power line where an osprey nest used to be.  Each time the osprey would begin to build, stick by stick, the power company would come along and take it down.  Eventually they put up orange pylons and built a stand for the osprey beside the power pole they were trying to build on. So the osprey began again to build stick by stick.

We might be feeling discouraged, but the beauty of creation is that it cycles and begins again.  There is no one piece so crucial to creation that is stops never to start again just because something gets in its way.  Creation adapts and so will we.  The osprey have a great nest built.  It took a few tries, but it’s there.

So here we are, at the beginning of another year.  This is my third fall with you, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one.  But here’s the thing, We’ve had our fall of rest, now it’s time to get back into the season of creation.  A season of new beginnings and building on to what was already in place.

It’s time.  It’s time for us get on with the work of living into the new creation.  Of looking towards the future and keeping on working towards the Good of the Whole.  This is a new beginning, a new creation and its up to us to see it through, preparing for the next beginning and the next creation to come.

Hymn For the Beauty of the Earth VU 226

Minute for Mission

Offertory Invitation
A few years ago, you all worked really hard to raise enough money to buy this beautiful piano. Because of your generosity at that time and over the years since, each week we get to hear beautiful music that celebrates God’s presence amongst us. Because we maintain the piano, we are able to provide a quality instrument at a reasonable cost to community choirs and small music studios. This helps not only ourselves, but others to build community through music, mantain mental health through creative expression in music, celebrate our lives lived in abundance through song. Please help me to celebrate this gift and the many others we recieve because of your generosity.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music God of the Sparrow VU 229

Prayers of the People
Ending with the Prayer of Jesus.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962