July 17, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Rex Hunt
Textweek.com
Left Behind and Loving it
Working Preacher – July 17 2016
Dear Working Preacher
At the Edge of the Enclosure
Progressive Involvement
Modern Metanoia
Taming the Elephant

Worship Outline:
Hymn     Be Thou My Vision                                               VU 642
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn     My Love Colours Outside the Lines                  MV 138

 Call to Worship
One: We come together to celebrate God’s presence among us.
All: We come together to share our abundance.
One:  We come together to offer love.
All: We come together to worship.

Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt)
Abiding God of the morning, the afternoon, the evening,
grant us the joy of feeling ourselves
a part of your vast magnificence,
your all-encompassing love.
May it be so.

Hymn     Take My Life                                             VU 506

Mary & Martha
Readings: Luke 10: 38-42
Behold the Face of Christ                                                   MV 114
Martha’s Anxiety

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The creative surrounds us.  Let’s take some time to give from our abundance.

Offering

Offertory               What Can I Do?                                    MV 191

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR be sparks of creativity in the work towards the good of the whole. Amen.

Prayer Music:       Come To My Heart                              VU 661

Prayers of the People & 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 921-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing  May God’s Sheltering Wings             MV 214

Reflection:

There is a force within
that gives you life-
Seek that.
In your body there lies
a priceless jewel –
Seek that.
Oh, wandering Sufi.
If you are in search
of the greatest treasure,
don’t look outside,
Look within, and seek That.

-Rumi 1207-1273
Trans. Jonathan Star

The story of Mary and Martha or Martha and Mary isn’t a story of service verses education. It’s a story about letting social anxiety get the best of us. Let me explain. Martha was doing what was expected of her. She was hustling and bustling about, being the gracious hostess. Normally Mary, her sister would be there to help her. Anyone who has a relationship with their sisters, similar to the relationship I have with mine, can tell you, pulling off a party is much easier with your sisters. But Martha is finding herself overwhelmed and when she goes off to find Mary, she finds her sister has flaked on her and is sitting, listening to Jesus. Mary is doing the opposite of what is expected of her.
As a woman, Mary wouldn’t have been included in the teaching time. As a sister, she was needed to help with preparations. But Mary didn’t seem to have any qualms about not doing what was expected of her. My hunch is that Martha wanted to sit and listen too, but because she was so focused on doing what was expected of her, that she couldn’t get out of the kitchen. Pulling off being the perfect hostess isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, you rarely get to enjoy the party yourself, you are so busy. If Martha hadn’t been so wrapped up in the perceived success of the gathering, she might have been able to enjoy it a bit more. But that’s what social anxiety is: worrying so much about what others think of you that it keeps you from enjoying life. It’s the worrying about things that don’t matter that Jesus was warning her about.
I was surprised to learn that many medieval paintings of Martha portrayed her as captor over a dragon. Martha wields control over the dragon with her girdle. That’s quite the symbolism for taming the anxious mind! I find this idea of a dragon representing the mind interesting. In the yogic and Tibetan tradition, learning to meditate is referred to as ‘taming the elephant’. There is a traditional drawing that accompanies this description. It starts with a monk chasing an elephant, which is being led by a monkey up the mountain. As the journey progresses, the monk eventually closes the gap and becomes the one leading the elephant, near the end they rest together and by the end the monk is riding the elephant. The monkey goes from leading the elephant, to following the elephant, to following the monk, to leaving the picture all together. The elephant and the monkey go from being cloudy and dark to being clear. The stormy, rocking surroundings at the bottom of the mountain have cleared by the top of the mountain. It’s a beautiful picture that demonstrates that with practice and dedication, the unimaginable is possible, but first we must tame the elephant.
In our scripture today, Jesus is telling Martha to tame her elephant. He’s telling her to not let her perceptions of what anyone “should” be doing keep her from doing what she enjoys. This is a message that every church needs to be reminded of. In the last 10 years, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone refer to the congregation as the people who are here every Sunday, sun, snow or shine, not only would my student loans be paid off, but we’d be making major headway on our mortgage too. Somewhere along the way we’ve gotten stuck and forgotten that church is more than just Sunday mornings. While for some people, sitting and listening is what feeds them, for others it is going out and doing the work. Each person needs to choose for themselves which is more important for them, how they will live out their understanding of church. Perhaps you are a Mary, faithfully attending each worship, listening and understanding. Perhaps you are a Martha, working for the good of the whole, offering your talents and skills. Perhaps you are a Mary, counter-cultural and shaking things up with your privilege. Perhaps you are a Martha, doing what’s expected of you, pulling your share and maybe more. If you are a Mary, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? If you are a Martha, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? What is it that you are seeking? Is there a tricky monkey that is leading your elephant? What can we as a community do to ensure that all of the Martha’s and Mary’s feel valued and appreciated?

June 19 – Father’s Day and Conference Sunday

No reflection today, it was a report back from all of the people who went to Maritime Conference Annual Meeting from St. Luke’s.  We used our favorite music from Conference (plus a few other pieces), and showed the video of Rev. Matthew Fillier’s spoken word from Conference.

Links of interest:

Facebook Live Stream of Saturday night worship
Spoken Word
Intermediates and Youth Forum Highlights

Worship Outline:

Hymn: Faith of Our Fathers VU 580
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Rainbow Candle

Hymn: Who Is My Mother MV 178

Call to Worship
One: When the world is filled with sadness
All: hope can be found in a loving community
One: When the world is filled with anger
All: the voice of reason will be strengthened by a loving community
One: When a culture needs to shift
All: shifting begins when a loving community changes takes action
One: When we are unsure about what to do next
All: we pray as a loving community.

Opening Prayer
Today we pray for people who feel alone. We pray that they will reach out to someone, or that someone will reach out to them. We pray that our worship may be filled with moments of connection, moments of grace, and moments of courage. May this worship be transformative and filled with love. Amen.

Hymn: Don’t Be Afraid MV 90

Intermediates At Conference

Hymn: Common Thread All God’s Children Sing 81

Youth Forum

Music Ministry: I Will Sing unto the Lord

Others at Conference

Spoken Word by Matthew Fillier (Past President of Maritime Conference)

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The work of the conference is funded by our offerings. We have all contributed to the experience you heard about. Each gift that you give has importance and meaning to someone else.

Offering

Offertory: Your Work, O God VU 537

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be used to help build a community of caring and compassionate people. Amen.

Prayer Music: Sisters Let Us Walk Together MV 179

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing: Ameni MV 219

June 12 – Sunday School Closing

Sunday School Closing – no reflection, but there was a really great story!

Worship Outline:

Hymn: I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy          Joyful Noise #89
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Opening Prayer
Hymn: Give Me Oil in My Lamp         Joyful Noise #14
Story: Jesus’ Day Off by Nicholas Allan
Hymn: I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me         VU #575
Bursary Presentations
Hymn: This Little Light of Mine         Joyful Noise #132
Sunday School Thank -you
Prayer Music: Every Time I Feel The Spirit    Joyful Noise #96
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Offering
Offertory: For Health & Strength              Joyful Noise #8
Musical Blessing Do Lord, O Do Lord       Joyful Noise #5

June 5

It’s been a while since I told a story in a midrash type of way.

Worship Outline:

Hymn     All Things Bright and Beautiful                             VU 291
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Candle
Hymn     Come, O Fount of Every Blessing                              VU 559
 Call to Worship
One: We gather today, to tell a story.
All: A story of overcoming scarcity.
One: A story of abundance.
All: A story of hospitality
One: We gather today, to share the history of the followers of The Way that Jesus taught.
All: We gather today to celebrate the future for those who choose to follow The Way.

Opening Prayer
Spirit of Abundance,
Be present with us as we grow in understanding and courage.
Amen.
 
Hymn  Praise Our Maker                       VU 316
Surprise!
The Word:  1 Kings 17:8-16
Abundance
 
Hymn  For the Healing of the Nations        VU 678
Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
Sometimes it can be challenging to change a culture.  So let’s turn this time of offering into a time of covenanting with ourselves and each other: it is time to change the Maritime church culture’s attitude about money.  May your offering be a symbol of a commitment to living out St. Luke’s abundance.
Offering
Offertory  Your Work, O God                                             VU 537
Offering Prayer
We offer these gifts and those given through PAR in recognition of our abundance.  May we understand what it truly means to have enough.  Amen.

A Litany to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Ordination of Lydia Gruchy: “Come Celebrate…” (Su Yon Pak)
One: Come and celebrate God who calls women to tend the flame.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the courage of women who heard their call and,
with a fire in their bones, stepped out of the shadow.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the lives of women who,
even in their mountaintop experiences, never forgot their valleys.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the work of women who
recognised the risen Lord in the breaking of bread
and in the opening of scripture.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate the perseverance of women
who are still struggling to have their gifts recognised by their churches.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
One: Come and celebrate women who paved the road to ordination for others and encourage us to work for those who will follow.
All:  Did not our hearts burn within us?
 
Prayer Music: Walk with Me                                       VU 649 (chorus only)
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing    Let All Things Now Living                   VU 242

Reflection:

Bill sighed as he closed the lid of his laptop. He had just received another email from the church treasurer. This month’s budget sheet was attached and it ended with red. It had been a long time since First United had balanced at the end of the month. A very long time. Bill couldn’t understand why First was having such financial trouble. The church was located on Main St in a small commuter town. The congregation was equally filled with people who had been coming to First their whole lives and people who came to First because it was part of the community they lived in and stayed because they liked the atmosphere. But the last couple of years, they had been different.
When Bill had been called to First, the sanctuary had been full every Sunday. But that was nearly ten years ago. The sanctuary was still reasonably full, but everyone was ten years older, and many of the people who had been teens and early 20s ten years ago had settled elsewhere. Between rising housing costs and the lure of the oil patch, there were legitimately fewer people in their 30s and 40s attending First, but when Bill considered Canadian statistical trends in general, they really weren’t that far off base. It just felt that way. Bill knew the folks on the council were tired. He knew they were ready to tap out when they were given the opportunity. He knew they were having trouble building enthusiasm for the growing number of fundraisers.
The phone beside Bill was suddenly ringing. Bill looked at the call display. It was Alana. Alana was the member at large on council. She was a “lifer” at First, looking after her ailing and very senior father, Alana had left her spouse and their university aged child in Ontario to look after her father. She was an only child, and while her parents had planned for retirement, they hadn’t planned for a 20 year retirement. That left Alana and her spouse looking after three households with one income: The home Alana grew up in that had been somewhat converted to a hospice, their family home which was paid off, but needed some expensive updates in order to net its true value and their son’s in-law suite. When he had gone to university, Alana and her spouse had made the wise decision to purchase a house with an in law-suite near the school. The deal was he would live in the in law suite rent free, but was responsible for his own utilities, groceries, and tuition. In return, he would act as building supervisor to the upstairs tenants. Alana’s son though, was well into a second degree and saving up to pay his 1/3 of his wedding the next summer. Bill knew that if there was anyone who understood tight budgets, it was Alana.
“I’ve had an unsolicited offer on Dad’s house.” Alana said. “It’s a little under value, but it would be a huge headache to prepare the house for sale. I’m thinking of accepting.”
Bill’s stomach dropped. Alana and her father were among First’s most consistent, not to mention generous givers. Between the two deaths this year, the handful of couples who were seriously considering moving West with their children’s families, and the three others on waiting lists to go into nursing homes, this could be really problematic.
Bill’s fears were confirmed in his next conversation with the treasurer.
“Unless we dip into the reserves, we don’t have quite enough for the bills this month…including your pay cheque.”
Bill quickly went through the due dates for his bills in his mind and made a mental note to cancel the cable – just in case.
“Don’t panic yet. I’m glad we have the reserves to draw on until we figure this out. Let me think about it for a couple of days.” said Bill.
Bill thought about it for two weeks. He knew what needed to happen, but it was going to be hard. Bill broached the topic at the next council meeting.
“I’d like us to establish a visioning committee. There’s real possibility in this neighborhood, but we won’t know what the potential is until we know the community better, I mean until we look beyond ourselves, beyond Sunday morning.”
The response was as Bill predicted:
“We don’t have any extra money.”
“We don’t have any extra time.”
“Once my mother is buried from here, I’ll happily help you transform this place or sell it.”
Bill asked them “Do you trust that I have the best interests of this community at heart?”
The council knew that he did.
“We set up a future directions committee to do the background research and come up with a sustainable, long-term plan and then we use some of the reserve money to launch the plan.”
The protests started, “But the reserve fund isn’t that big…”
“The money is in trust, it must only be used for specific things…”
“It’s for a rainy day…”
The protesting stopped when Bill said, “All I’m asking is that we spend a little time doing the research. Wouldn’t it be better to go out knowing we did our best, then to have the church die with money left over and nothing accomplished?”
Let’s pray.
God, whose spirit gives us courage when we seem to have nothing else, we are thankful for our abundance. We are thankful for the Love that we share. We pray that we are always able to remember that these relationships are the source of all that we have. May it be so.

May 15 2016 Confirmation & Pentecost

No sermon today…we had a crazy number of confirmations and re-affirmations.  For the Theme Time, I told the story of Pentecost in my own words and debuted this awesome headband.

Pentacost head-gear (Small)

The Confirmation and Re-affirmation class chose the hymns, readings and vows based on the ones offered by the service book Celebrate God’s Presence.

Hymn   Shall We Gather At The River                              VU 710
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Lighting the Christ Candle and Centering
Hymn  Spirit God?                                                                MV
Call to Worship
One:  As the Spirit moves about this room
All:  May we deepen our understanding
One:  As the Spirit moves about our lives
All:  May we deepen our passion

Prayer of Approach
As our lives spin with commitments and responsibilities, we’ve gathered today to find the Holy Spirit amid the crazy. May we find what we need today as we celebrate the community we have created. Amen.
 
Hymn  As A Fire is Meant for Burning                              VU 578
Pentecost
Ministry of Music
Baptism*
Renewal of Baptismal Vows
Ministry Music
Transfer of Membership

Hymn  I Have Called You By Your Name                          MV 161 
Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
You have come today because you have heard a call.  Perhaps it was a call of social justice, perhaps it was a call to community, perhaps it was a call to live out your love.  How will you answer this call?
Offering
Offertory  And When You Call for Me                              MV 96
Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become a way to answer the collective call we hear as followers of The Way.  Amen.

Prayer Music  O God Here My Prayer                              VU 948
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing                  Dance With The Spirit                         MV 156

*In grateful response to God’s abundant love,
we bear in mind our integral connection
to the earth and one another;
we participate in God’s work of healing and mending creation.
To point to the presence of the holy in the world,
the church receives, consecrates, and shares
visible signs of the grace of God.
In company with the churches
of the Reformed and Methodist traditions,
we celebrate two sacraments as gifts of Christ:
baptism and holy communion.
In these sacraments the ordinary things of life
—water, bread, wine—
point beyond themselves to God and God’s love,
teaching us to be alert
to the sacred in the midst of life.

Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are born into the brokenness of this world.
Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are surrounded by God’s redeeming love.
Baptism by water in the name of the Holy Trinity
is the means by which we are received, at any age,
into the covenanted community of the church.
It is the ritual that signifies our rebirth in faith
and cleansing by the power of God.
Baptism signifies the nurturing, sustaining,
and transforming power of God’s love
and our grateful response to that grace.

At various moments on the journey of our life in Christ,
we have opportunity to reaffirm and renew
the faith proclaimed in baptism.
As those who have been baptized
together with those who today will be baptized
profess for themselves the faith of the Christian community
in which they have been nurtured,
we gather to reaffirm the power of the Holy Spirit
and to celebrate the place of Phillip, Leanne, Lauren, Jim & Marilyn
in the people of God.
We give thanks for their gifts
as witnessed in this community of faith,
and promise to continue to walk with them.
With joy and thanksgiving we celebrate the faith we all share,
and rededicate ourselves
to the life and work of the body of Christ.

The church is a community of people with varied gifts,
united by the Holy Spirit.
We gather to celebrate God’s presence,
to discern God’s truth,
and to follow the way of Jesus.
By our baptism we are made members of Christ’s church.
We exercise this membership
in the denomination to which we belong,
which for us is The United Church of Canada,
and within the context of a local community of faith.
Today, we welcome into this congregation
those who are already members
of the church of Jesus Christ: Joanne, Jennifer, Jenn, & Amanda
 
Presentation of Candidates
On behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s United Church,
I present the following person
for initiation into the body of Christ through profession of faith and baptism:
Phillip Bentley

On behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s United Church,
I present the following person
who seeks to renew the faith proclaimed
in her baptism:
Lauren Parks

On behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s United Church,
I present the following persons
who seek to reaffirm publicly the faith proclaimed
in their baptism and confirmation:
Leanne Bentley
Jim Mac Donald
Marilyn MacDonald
 
On behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s United Church,
I present the following persons
whom we welcome into the membership
of this community of faith: Joanne Ellis, Jennifer Dean-Levy, Jennifer MacLaughlin, Amanda Walker, Dawn Fredrick, & Karen Muxlow

The United Church of Canada gives us a number of questions in five categories to answer as our profession of faith.  As a group we’ve talked about these categories and questions, and each of the five people have decided on a set of questions that best describe their faith and a commitment they can live out.

I ask these questions that you may publicly profess the faith
proclaimed in baptism.
 

  1. Profession of Faith in the Triune God

Phillip, Leanne & Lauren
Do you believe in God, who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
and who works in us and others by the Spirit?
I do, by the grace of God.

Jim & Marilyn
Do you believe in God, Source of love;
in Jesus Christ, love incarnate;
and in the Holy Spirit, love’s power.
I do, by the grace of God.
 

  1. Commitment to Seek Justice and Resist Evil

Lauren
Desiring the freedom of new life in Christ,
do you seek to resist evil, and to live in love and justice?
I will, God being my helper.

Phillip, Leanne, Jim & Marilyn
Will you follow in the way of Jesus Christ,
resisting oppression and evil, seeking justice,
and witnessing to God’s love for all creation?
I will, God being my helper.
 

  1. Commitment to Follow the Way of Jesus Christ

Phillip, Leanne, Lauren, Jim & Marilyn
Will you follow the way of Jesus Christ?
I will, God being my helper.
 

  1. Commitment to the Mission and Ministry of the Church

Phillip, Leanne, Lauren, Jim & Marilyn
Will you join
with your brothers and sisters in this community of faith
to celebrate God’s presence, live with respect in creation,
and love and serve others?
I will, God being my helper.
 

  1. Commitment of Candidates

As mentors and sponsors to each other,
will you continue to support and encourage each other
in your Christian life and discipleship?
I will, God being my helper.
 

Let us pledge to these persons
our continued support and care.
We will continue to support you,
walk with you, and grow with you.
With God’s help, we will live out our baptism
as a loving community in Jesus Christ:
nurturing one another in faith,
upholding one another in prayer,
encouraging one another in God’s work.
 
 
 
Pouring & Blessing the Water
Gracious and Holy God,
we bless you for the gift of life,
and, within it, the gift of water.
Over its unshaped promise your Spirit hovered at creation.
By water, comes the growth of the earth.
Through water, you led the children of Israel to freedom.
In the waters of the Jordan your Child Jesus was baptized.
Now may your Spirit be upon us and what we do,
that this water may be a sign for all of new life in Christ,
in whose name we pray.
Amen.
 
Phillip, I baptize you
in the name of the Father, Mother, the Source of Love
and of the Son, the Christ, the Beloved One
and of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, the Power of Love
Amen.
May the blessing of Love
be with you today and always.
Amen.
Phillip, I mark you with the cross,
a sign of Love Incarnate.
Amen.
 
Laying On of Hands
Phillip, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.
Amen.
 
Presentation of Candle and Bible
 
Laying On of Hands
Lauren, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.
Amen.
 
Presentation of Bible
 
Laying On of Hands
Leanne, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.
Amen.
 
Presentation of Bible
 
Laying On of Hands
Jim, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.
Amen.
 
Presentation of Bible
 
Transferring Membership
Joanne, Jennifer, Jenn, Amanda, Dawn & Karen
will you join with us
as together we celebrate God’s presence,
live with respect in creation,
love and serve others,
seek justice and resist evil?
I will, with God’s help.
 
Let us pledge to these persons our support and care.
As your brothers and sisters in Christ,
we rejoice in the gifts you bring to us.
We pledge to you our love and our support.
With God’s help, we will together live out
the mission and ministry of Christ’s church.
 
Symbol of Welcome
 
It’s not very often that I get to welcome 10 people to a congregation and celebrate a renewal of baptismal vows.  In celebration of all the commitment demonstrated today, let’s rise as we’re able and join in an Affirmation of Faith: A New Creed
We are not alone,
we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.

Thanks be to God.
 
Congregational Welcome
All: By one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body.
We are children of the one God,
Mother and Father of us all.
We welcome you into the community of faith.

In the name of Jesus Christ,
we welcome you to the privileges and responsibilities
of membership in this congregation.
We give thanks to God for your witness among us.

Blessing:   May God’s Sheltering Wings                           MV 214
special day (Small)

May 8 2016 – Mother’s Day and Baptisim

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Celebrate God’s Presence
A Song of Faith
Rex Hunt 1
Rex Hunt 2
Rex Hunt 3

Worship Outline:

Hymn   River                                                                                         MV 3
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Candle

Hymn     The Care The Eagle Gives Her Young   VU269 (Tune: 625, I Feel the Winds..)

 Call to Worship
One: We are called to gather:
All:  To celebrate love
One:  To celebrate diversity
All:  To offer vulnerability
One:  To offer gratitude
All:  To share joy
One:  To share sorrow
All:  To experience respect
One:  To experience compassion
All:  We are called to gather as family,
And as family, we worship.
 
Opening Prayer
Nurturing God,
May this be a time of transformative Love.  May we commit to building a compassionate community, that challenges and encourages each other to be the best we can possibly best.  May it be so.
 
Hymn  Water Flowing from the Mountains                                    MV 87
Baptism **

Special Music – Roots & Wings
The Word:  Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
Brené Brown’s Parenting Manifesto
Our Manifesto

Hymn  River Running in You and Me                                               MV 163
Minute for Stewardship

Offering Invitation
The fires in Alberta have once again reminded us of all of our abundance.  Our M&S dollars will help Fort McMurray and many other places experiencing disaster.

Offering

Offertory  Ev’ry Day Is A Day of Thanksgiving                    MV 185

Offering Prayer
For these gifts and those given through PAR, we give thanks.  May they be a source of hope to those who need it most.  Amen.

Special Music   St. Luke’s Players – Sabbath Prayer

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing                  Amen                                                     MV 431
**Baptism Liturgy is from Celebrate God’s Presence unless otherwise stated.
In grateful response to God’s abundant love,
we bear in mind our integral connection
to the earth and one another;
we participate in God’s work of healing and mending creation.
To point to the presence of the holy in the world,
the church receives, consecrates, and shares
visible signs of the grace of God.
In company with the churches
of the Reformed and Methodist traditions,
we celebrate two sacraments as gifts of Christ:
baptism and holy communion.
In these sacraments the ordinary things of life
—water, bread, wine—
point beyond themselves to God and God’s love,
teaching us to be alert
to the sacred in the midst of life.

Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are born into the brokenness of this world.
Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are surrounded by God’s redeeming love.
Baptism by water in the name of the Holy Trinity
is the means by which we are received, at any age,
into the covenanted community of the church.
It is the ritual that signifies our rebirth in faith
and cleansing by the power of God.
Baptism signifies the nurturing, sustaining,
and transforming power of God’s love
and our grateful response to that grace.

Presentation of Candidates
On behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s United Church,
I present the following person
for initiation into the body of Christ through baptism:
Branson Eli Roos, son of Jennifer & Wouter Roos, brother of Makenna Roos

Do you believe in God, Source of love;
in Jesus Christ, love incarnate;
and in the Holy Spirit, love’s power.
I do, by the grace of God.
 
Will you follow in the way of Jesus Christ,
resisting oppression and evil, seeking justice,
and witnessing to God’s love for all creation?
I will, God being my helper.
 
Will you join
with your brothers and sisters in this community of faith
to celebrate God’s presence, live with respect in creation,
and love and serve others?
I will, God being my helper.
 
Will you share your faith with Branson
growing with him in faith, hope, and love?
I will, God being my helper.

Each of us knows the need for support and care
as we share in a journey of faith.
As this family gathers around this font and this water,
symbols of belonging and community,
let us pledge our care for them.
All: We stand as witnesses to the commitment this family has made this day.
And we pledge ourselves to their support and care
as they discover the ways that the Spirit
unfolds for them
. (G Vosper)
 
Affirmation of Faith (taken from A Song of Faith)
Divine creation does not cease
   until all things have found wholeness, union, and integration
   with the common ground of all being.
As children of the Timeless One,
   our time-bound lives will find completion
   in the all-embracing Creator.
In the meantime, we embrace the present,
   embodying hope, loving our enemies,
   caring for the earth,
choosing life.
 
Grateful for God’s loving action,
   we cannot keep from singing.
Creating and seeking relationship,
   in awe and trust,
we witness to Holy Mystery who is Wholly Love.
 
Amen.
 
Pouring & Blessing the Water
Gracious and Holy God,
we bless you for the gift of life,
and, within it, the gift of water.
Over its unshaped promise your Spirit hovered at creation.
By water, comes the growth of the earth.
Through water, you led the children of Israel to freedom.
In the waters of the Jordan your Child Jesus was baptized.
Now may your Spirit be upon us and what we do,
that this water may be a sign for all of new life in Christ,
in whose name we pray.
Amen.
 
Branson, I baptize you
in the name of the Father, Mother, the Source of Love
and of the Son, the Christ, the Beloved One
and of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, the Power of Love
Amen.
May the blessing of Love
be with you today and always.
Amen.
Branson, I mark you with the cross,
a sign of Love Incarnate.
Amen.
 
Laying On of Hands
Branson, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.
Amen.
 
Presentation of Candle and Scarf
 
Congregational Welcome
All: By one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body.
We are children of the one God,
Mother and Father of us all.
We welcome you into the community of faith.

Blessing:   May God’s Sheltering Wings                           MV 214

Ephesians 2:19-22

May 1 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Who’s Who in the Bible
Lydia
Word-Sunday.com
Feasting on the Word

Worship Outline:

Hymn   Come and Find the Quiet Centre                                  VU 374
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering and Candle Lighting
Hymn  We Are One                                                                             VU 402
 Call to Worship
Welcome to this sacred space.  May this be a time of recognizing The Holy resting in each other and ourselves. We have gathered to celebrate all that is Holy, to celebrate all that we have accomplished together, and to generate excitement for all that is to come.
Prayer of Approach
Sacred Spirit,
Enliven this gathering.  Open our minds and our hearts to passionate justice, grace-filled action and endless love. Amen.

Hymn  Spirit, Open My Heart                                                            MV 79

What does ‘Sacred’ mean?
The Word:  Acts 16:9–15
Anthem  – there is one and I forget the name.
Creating the Sacred

Hymn  Shall We Gather at the River?                                              VU 720
Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
We have abundance.  We are called to share what we can so that we can continue to work towards the kin-dom.
Offering                 Christ Has No Body Now But Yours                  MV 171
Offertory               What Does The Lord Require of You?              VU 701
Offering Prayer
Bless these gifts and those given through PAR.  May they inspire honest conversation, open minds, and actions filled with peace and justice.

Prayer Music         Jesus, You Fill Our Hearts                                   MV 101
Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing  Amen MV 225

Creating a Sacred Space

Background for this particular community

The setting for Paul

Paul and his followers on the road

Paul and his followers have left their community.  They are actively recruiting for their new way of life.  Because the Christian community is so new, they don’t always have a hosting community.  They don’t always have a place to worship when Sunday comes around.

Somewhat hostile environment

Paul and his companions are in a somewhat hostile environment.  They lived in a time where being different was potentially a life or death situation.  They lived it a time where there were so many threats to existence that people needed community to survive.

The setting for Lydia

Rich woman

Lydia was a rich woman, a rarity it the patriarchal society.  She was a dealer in purple cloth, a career that would have likely had rocky beginnings, as making purple cloth was not exactly an ideal career.  Making purple cloth at the time involved soaking the material in urine, something that would have made the person “unclean”.  Lydia though, was the dealer and not in the purple cloth production.  That meant she was the person who dealt with the wealthy people who purchased the purple cloth.

Head of her household

We know that Lydia was the head of her household.  I suspect that she was somewhat charismatic, as this would not have been a title that some servants and many of her neighbours would have made difficult.  But faithful servants and family members who respected her would have given Lydia a special influence.

On the fringes of the Hebrew community

Lydia wasn’t exactly Hebrew when she met Paul.  She had been spending time with a particular Hebrew community, but it was not a community that she had been born into.

The setting for the contemporary house church

People looking for something different

A house church is a small group of people who gather regularly for spiritual purposes.  Lydia’s group of friends and family was a house church.  House churches have always existed, but seem to be making a comeback these past few years.  People are attracted to the unique opportunities that house churches provide.  People looking to create a house church are looking for an intimate connection with a group of people.  The relationships are the sacred in a house church, along with an opportunity to share openly and acceptance for the person as a whole.  People seeking a house church are looking for to embrace diversity.

People looking to leave behind red tape

Many people who seek out a house church are looking for something a little less formal, where red tape and rules don’t overshadow the needs of the members.  People who belong to a house church aren’t looking for a cookie-cutter experience, they’re looking for meaningful relationships.

People looking to create the sacred

Rather than having traditions once considered sacred dictate the parameters of their relationships, people seeking a house church are looking for meaningful actions, ancient and new, to outline how they celebrate the sacred.  People are looking identify what is sacred to them, rather than being told what is sacred.

Lydia’s Role in Creating the Sacred

As a business owner

The purple cloth

Being a wealthy business woman gave Lydia the privilege to be a trend setter.  Not only did Lydia have an inside track to the minds of the servants and family in her household, but she also would have had some sway with the community…like Devil wears Prada, but the boss is nicer.

Being able to afford her own home

Lydia’s home also helped her influence.  Without having a place to host such a gathering, they would have needed to convert someone else before being able to host a potential gathering.  Being the owner of her home, Lydia did not need to seek permission from anyone or any group in order to worship.

As a hostess

Making people feel comfortable

As a hostess, Lydia’s hospitality was crucial to the success of the newly formed community.  Lydia would have needed to have made each person feel like they were coming home, like they were important, like they belonged to the community.  She would have needed to have some small boundaries in place to establish respect for her home.

Diversity in the community

Lydia would have needed to welcome diversity, yet nurture a common goal or longing.  And if Lydia was really following The Way, she would have welcomed people into her home that normally, according to the social standards of the time, wouldn’t have been allowed to enter.

The importance of the sacred to Lydia’s community

Creating ritual creates community

Ritual as framework

The sacred rituals provided Lydia and the community framework to hold themselves accountable to each other and to living out the radical hospitality and abundant love that Jesus taught.  The open communion table, grace-filled baptism, and sacred prayers to celebrate love provided the parameters or lack of parameters for this community.  No matter how broken you were, you were still welcomed with love and acceptance.

Common experience builds bonds

This common experience of vulnerability and grace received helped the community to build strong bonds.  Did they stumble?  Of course they did.  It’s quite likely that at least one of the letters Paul wrote was addressed to this community.  But a few reminders from Paul about the common experience of all the followers of love and grace and their commitment to extend that same life changing experience to anyone who seeks it.

Allowing room to grow

When people feel welcomed and at home

The framework of acceptance practiced by the Christian community has continued to allow the communities to grow.  Over the years communities have slipped from time to time, but I have hope that eventually they will remember the call to unconditional love and acceptance.  When people feel welcomed and at home, they reciprocate creating a cycle of love and acceptance, hospitality and belonging.

When what they do feels meaningful

People stay in community when they feel not only welcomed and accepted, but when what they are doing feels meaningful, including what is held as sacred.

What is sacred in our community?

What does the United Church of Canada hold as sacred?

What can we let go of? What is no longer meaningful?

What do we need to look at with new eyes?

April 24 – Camping Sunday

No Sermon/Reflection today.  Here’s the outline for our “Camping Worship” (complete with s’mores!)

The More We Get Together         (Spirit of Singing #1)
Hallelu…Praise Ye the Lord           (Spirit of Singing #44)
Morning has Broken       (Voices United #409)
Lighting the Fire
Fire’s Burning                     (Spirit of Singing #65)
John 13:31-35
This is My Commandment           (Joyful Noise #131)
Jesus Loves Me                          (VU #365)
Felt Hearts
They’ll Know We Are Christians    (Spirit of Singing #112)
Imagine by John Lennon
Minute For Mission
Pass it On                                   (VU #289)
Passing the Plate & Blessing
It’s a-me, O Lord                       (Joyful Noise #75)
Kum ba yah                                (Joyful Noise #12)
Prayers of the People
Go Now in Peace                       (Spirit of Singing #140)

April 17 – Generational “Hymn Sing”

This isn’t really a hymn sing, but people generally got what I meant by it.  I did this last year (look in my “Archives” post) with a congregation of about 30.  This year I was in a congregation of approximately 80 people.

In the entry way I placed six glasses and a large container of glass beads.  As people came in, the were invited to place a bead in the glass that matched their age category.  The breakdown ended up being:

1901-1932 – 1 bead
1925-1942 – 14 beads
1943-1960 – 31 beads
1961-1981 – 16 beads
1982-2002 – 3 beads
2002-present – 12 beads

I arranged to have one person from each generation answer 3 questions.  As each generation was presented their glass of beads were placed on the communion table.

The following is my outline of worship (which includes the “coming of age” hymns of each generation) and my mini breakdown or summary of each generation and the three interview questions.  Much gratitude and appreciation to Debbie Coss, who not only inspired this idea with a talk on Generational Theory, but also kindly gave me her thesis to read and that’s where my summaries come from. Warning: This took 1.5 hours, even with people prepped to be interviewed.

Hymn   Make a Joyful Noise                                                         VU 820
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Singing Bowl and Christ Candle
Call to Worship (an adaption of Psalm 98)
One: Sing to GOD a brand-new song.
All: For the world is full of wonders!
One: God’s love has travelled with us over the generations
All: Even in the times we have chosen not to acknowledge this love. One: Even in the times when we couldn’t acknowledge God’s love. Because of this unending love, we sing!
All: Shout your praises to GOD, everybody! Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!
One: Round up an orchestra to play for GOD, Add on a hundred-voice choir.
All: Feature trumpets and big trombones, Fill the air with praises to GOD.
One: Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause, with everything living on earth joining in.
All: Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!” And mountains harmonize the finale—
One: Let us sing a new song, for with God’s Love anything is possible. All: With God’s Love we will work to build the kin-dom for ourselves and for future generations.

Opening Prayer
God your love has lasted throughout the generations.  We pray that this be a time of remembering, of learning and of building community.  Amen.

Generations (The Bible, The Theory, The Person)

The Prophets (born 1943-1960)  Roger Cooke
Hymn:  I am the Light of the World                                          VU 87 (v 3&4)

The Nomads (born 1961-1981) Jennifer MacLaughlin
Hymn: Draw the Circle Wide                                                      MV 145 (v1)

The Hero (born 1901-1932) Naaman Bush
Hymn:  Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah                              VU 651 (v1&2)

The Hero (born 1982-2002ish) Emily Harrison
Hymn:  Called by Earth and Sky                                             MV 135 (v1&4)

The Artists (born 1925-1942) Norman Hutt
Hymn:  Make Me a Channel of Your Peace                           VU 684 (v1)

The Artists (born 2002ish-present day) Meredith MacLachlin
Hymn:  I Can Feel You Near Me God                                       MV 48

Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
There are as many gifts as there are people.  Let’s celebrate in our gifts.
Offering
Offertory  There’s A New Day                                           reVolve Song Book
Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be gifts to inspire throughout the ages.  Amen.

Prayer Music  Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying                   VU 400
Prayers of the People and the Prayer of Jesus

Hymn Oh A Song Must Rise      MV 142  (We ended up cutting out this one)
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing  Amen                                                               MV 225   

 William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of “The Fourth Turning” have set out generational theory in a way that I find very interesting.  They’ve paired up Bible stories with the 4 types of generations.  When comparing this to the current generations at work in the church, it’s easy to see why we sometimes feel like we’re having the same arguments over and over again.  While having the same arguments and problems over and over again can be frustrating, when I step back and look to see what the real problem is, I’m always relieved when I come to the conclusion that it is something as normal as a generational gap.

I’ve been wanting to talk generational theory here for a while.  Like many other personality indicator tests, it can help us to understand how we function as a large community of individuals.  Because we worship as a multi-generational community, studying generational theory is particularly helpful.

Before we begin, I should say that the lines between the generations are very fuzzy and blurry, with lots of people identifying with a generation outside of their birthday. Also each turn of the cycle produces different results.  While there are six different generations in our church, there are four different types.  Two of those types are similar sharing many characteristics, but they aren’t identical.  Each one plays out in it’s own way based on world and community events, as each generation has it’s own crisis or spiritual awakening during it’s formative years that shape the way the characteristics.  What was a positive characteristic in one generation can be a negative in another because of the particular crisis or awakening that influences it.   Also, in some ways, the older we get the more we begin to embody the different types of generations based on our engagement with life and world events.  Strauss & Howe are American and statistically speaking Canadian generations are just a few years behind, due to a late entrance into World War II.

 

The Prophets (Moses, Idealist, The Boom Generation (born 1943-1960) God is Truth

The Prophets are the generation of people who impose a moral conscience on those around them. Like Moses and the Ten Commandments.  Because of their sheer volume in number they have been imprinting our culture and spirituality since their birth. By 2040 one in four people in the Western world will be over the age of 65.  It is this generation that changed the role of women and sexuality in society.  No matter what side they take on an issue, Prophets speak with passion, commitment and they “know” they are right.  Because of their passion and conviction…and probably because they “know” they are right, many Prophets consider themselves moral care takers.  Because they are the moral care takers, they are constantly seeking the true – the right.  For Prophets, God is Truth.

Roger Cooke is a member of The Prophets.

What is a major world event from your teen years?

What was a major church event from your teen years?

I wanted to ask ‘Who or what is god for you?’, but when I ask that sort of question people don’t usually answer, so my third question is What is important about church to you?

Let’s sing the coming of age hymn for the Boomers: I am the Light of the World      VU 87 (v 3&4)

 

The Nomads (the Golden Calf, Reactive, Generation X (born 1961-1981) God is Community

The Nomads are the generation that felt there were things more important than God.  They were the people who roamed in the wilderness for a whole generation worshiping a golden calf.  These are the first latch key kids, both parents had to work.  These are the children of the first wave of divorces when the terms “single mother” and “dead beat dad” were coined as well as the idea of the television being the baby-sitter.  Families were smaller, and because so many children spent so much time along, friendships became very important and often took the place of family.  Gen Xers are looking for community, and not just any community.  They are looking for a community where they belong.    As newly divorced parents became alienated from some churches, The Nomads turned their backs on the church and the people who did not support them when they felt they needed it most.  For this generation, God is found in an accepting and supportive community.  The Nomads feel they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.  They’ve learned to depend on themselves for their successes and their failures. This generation is the generation that experienced major cut-backs. If they have a future, they will build it.  The Nomads may not seem to care, but it’s actually just a tough shell, if you can’t get in, you can’t hurt them.  So The Nomads stand on the edge of the promised land.  They can lead, but they cannot enter.

Jennifer MacLachlin is a gen xer.

What is a major world event from your teen years?

What was a major church event from your teen years?

What is important about church for you?

This hymn sums up typical spiritual desires of the Nomads.  Draw the Circle Wide     MV 145 (v1)

 

This is where things get complicated.  For the 34 years, we’re been dealing with a phenomenon that hadn’t existed in the Western church before.  Previously, there had been 1-3 generation types in congregations.  Now with life expectancy being what it is we have 4 generations, and then a 5th that starts the generational cycle repeating itself, but with different life events shaping it’s outcome.

The Hero (Joshua, Civic, The GI Generation, (born 1901-1932) God is Power

The Hero generation leads the people out of their crisis in the wilderness and into the Promised Land.  The story of Joshua leading the people represents this generation.  This is the generation that became commuters.  After the war, those that came home created a stable economy, bought cars and houses and because of the stable economy, were able to have one parent at home with the 2.4 children.  Because of their “can-do” attitude, they have worked to create many systems to look after themselves and those who come after them.  They will do anything they can do to maintain them.  For this generation, God is power.  The crisis that shaped this generation was the Depression and World War II.  It’s important to note that this is the most homogenous generation.

Namaan Bush is part of the GI or the Hero generation.

What is a major world event from your teen years?

What was a major church event from your teen years?

What is important about church for you?

Let’s sing about Naaman’s Generation   Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah          VU 651 (v1&2)

 

The Millennials (1982-2002ish)

The Millennials are still being studied, as a number of them are just reaching adulthood.  These are the children who grew up understanding the words ‘internet’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘global warming’.  These are the children who, I suspect, will save the earth.  They will be the ones to forge a new, diverse society, as their generation is the most diverse yet.   I suspect that this generation will put a slight twist on the understanding of God as power…I suspect that many of them will find God with justice.

Emily Harrison is a Millennial.

What is a major world event from your teen years?

What was a major church event from your teen years?

What is important about church for you?

Let’s sing a Hero song for the Millennials Called by Earth and Sky       MV 135 (v1&4)

The Artist (Judges, Adaptive, The Silent Generation, (born 1925-1942) God is Love

The Artist generation can see the bigger picture.  They are the ones who nurture what the heros were able to do into something even bigger.  This generation is represented in the Bible by the Judges.  The people who managed the conflict of the day.  They also tend to be the mediators between two vocal, and sometimes opposing, generations.  These are the children of the depression, whose parents wanted more for them than they could possibly provide.  They took the nuclear family situation seriously, and were the youngest generation to marry.  They became part of the helping professions and were responsible for the explosion of public interest advocacy groups during the 70s.  Because of their intimate knowledge of the outcomes of war, The Artists see God as Love or Peace.

Norman Hutt is of the Artists.

What is a major world event from your teen years?

What was a major church event from your teen years?

What is important about church for you?

This hymn is a hymn of Peace Make Me a Channel of Your Peace      VU 684 (v1)

 

The Unnamed Generation (born 2002ish-present)

This generation is still being formed – they are still being born.  Because of the generations cycle, we do know that they will be people who are creative mediators.  This is the generation that will solve conflict and act with love.

Meredith MacLaughlin is part of this yet to be named generation.

What is something that’s happened in the world?

What’s something that’s happened at church?

Why is church important to you?

Let’s sing for Meredith’s generation I Can Feel You Near Me God                         MV 48

            

April 10 – Stations of the Ressurection

Nothing new written by me.  It was an amazing Sunday though.  We will most definitely be using Si Smith’s “Raised in Leeds” and Ian Adams’ “Stations of the Resurrection” You can purchase them here.

Lots of other churches have enjoyed the images and reflections that Smith and Adams have created:

Stations of the Resurrection by Si Smith – at Pudsey Parish Church

Jonny Baker

The People’s Table

Grace Space

Stations of the Resurrection

Standing Still in a Moving Place