Prayers

No one is ever really ready for Christmas.

If we were really all prepared:

if every gift we had contemplated had been obtained;

if every present was beautifully beribboned;

if all the goodies our friends deserve were baked and cooled, and stored just so;

if each and every person we love was gathered for our celebration;

if we never snapped at someone we care about, nor stopped short of being all that we could be…

They truly would be ready – and truly we would not need Christmas quite so much.

So come, Christmas, most needed of seasons.

All  Come Christmas!

Come, Love,

Come, Hope.

Be born in our unready hearts on this silent and holy night.  MMKilloran/edited

 
 

From <http://www.rexaehuntprogressive.com/liturgy_collection/year_a_liturgy_collection/year_a_christmasepiphany/christmasevea24122016.html>

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

We come to acknowledge the many colours of Christmas:

Colours of red in the shining ornaments and rosy glow of merriment;

-a time for meeting our memories and honouring favourite traditions.

Colours of green in the trees and boughs of holly;

-a time for seeing signs of new life in the depths of winter.

Colours of white in the snow blanketed fields and the icy breath of cold;

a time for warmth and care of each other and dreams of longer days.

Colours of blue in the deep winter starlight;

-a time when the shadows of loss threaten to overwhelm us.

We gather in this time to find hope;

We come to open our spirits to the courage of living amid all the colours of this season.

(Dr Nancy L Steeves)

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Blue Christmas

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Sacraparental: A Blue Christmas Service if you are Hurting at Christmas
Fat Pastor – Longest Night: For Those Who Mourn at Christmas
From Celebrate God’s Presence, Searching for Shalom by Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems

Ornaments handed out during the reflective time at the Blue Christmas

God is near to all who call; their cries are heard. Psalm 145:18-19

 

Call to Worship

All around us we see the lights of Christmas, we hear the sounds of joyful celebration. We come to this service recognizing that this season is often difficult for many and may not be as joyful for us as it seems to be for many others.

As the nights have grown longer, sadness and emptiness, loneliness and pain wrap around the hearts of many. In this season of longest nights, some struggle to put into words that which causes them to feel blue rather than joyful.

For some, a loved one has died.

For others, a friend has moved away. Still others have lost a job, a cherished dream, or a sense of hope.

We might be feeling worried, trapped, insecure, adrift or alone. We may be grieving what might have been but will not be, or grieving over what used to be, but cannot be anymore.

We may simply be in need of a place of quiet and calm in an otherwise busy season.

Whatever may have brought us here we offer to the One born in Bethlehem’s stable, knowing that there is no pain that does not echo in God’s heart, no joy that does not come from God’s hand.

I See Your Pain by Ann Weems

Hymn  Sisters Let Us Walk Together MV 179

Opening Prayer

God of comfort and compassion, hear us as we pray for ourselves and for all who live with loss and loneliness, pain and grief, hurt and isolation. We ask for strength for today, courage for tomorrow, and peace for the past.

We ask these things in the name of Christ who shares our life in joy and sorrow, in death and new birth, despair and promise.  Amen.

Scripture

Psalm 121

Matthew 1:18-23

 

Hymn Stay With Us Through The Night VU 182

 

Star-Giving by Ann Weems

Blessing the Prayer Shawls

Reflective Music

 

Pastoral Prayer, ending with the Prayer of Jesus

 

Hymn Will You Come And See The Light VU 96

 

Blessing and Sending Forth Into This Silent Night Ann Weems

December 11, 2016 – Advent 3

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Liturgists Podcast: Suffering (Part 1)
Working Preacher
Rex Hunt

Rob Bell – “The Robcast” with Rabbi Sharon Brous
Gifts With Vision “Build a Well
Charity Water (referred to in The Liturgist Podcast)

Kirtan Soul Revival (official website)(itunes)

St. Luke’s United Church
December 11th, 2016
Joy
Hymn Still, Still, Still VU 47

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter

Call to Worship:
One: Three candles burning brightly offering hope, inspiring peace and sharing joy. Sharing in other’s joy is the gift that keeps on giving.
All: One candle offers hope. Two candles inspire peace. Three candles share joy.

Opening Prayer:
Source of deep joy, we pray that this time together be filled with giving and receiving joy. May we see your presence in the joy of others and experience you in our own moments of joy. May it be so.

Hymn Joy to the World VU 59

More Stories from Our Family Tree
Spin Me A Story

Readings Isaiah 61:1-11
Luke 4:16-21

Hymn Joy Is Now in Every Place VU 45

Joy in Suffering.
I’ve listened to two very impactful podcasts lately that just won’t leave me. The first I referenced in my Advent letter. The Liturgist Podcast introduced the idea that suffering runs on a large spectrum. That something that we take for granted can be the root of so much suffering. And the biggest kicker of all is that this particular suffering is needless. The suffering I’m talking about is lack of access to clean, safe water. Now, I’m sure everyone understands that we need water to live. If you were part of the United Church a few years ago, you probably heard about our campaign against bottled water, and if you’ve been to a larger United Church event, you’ll likely notice many folks are toting reusable mugs and water bottles and asking where the fountains are located. Simply put, water is a gift from God and should not be sold for profit.
People suffer from lack of water. They suffer physically. They get sick. People can die from lack of water or from diseases that come from drinking water that is unsafe. People suffer emotionally from lack of water. People walk for kilometers to access water that is safe to drink. Young women will stay home from school because they don’t have enough water for proper hygiene. One person explained to the hosts of the program I was listening to about how lack of water leads to a lack of dignity. In some communities there is only a certain amount of water for each family, and not always enough for each person to drink, let alone wash themselves.
Then I remembered my own experience meeting families in Guatemala, who gave their children pop to drink because it was cheaper than buying water and supposedly safer than drinking the water that was available in their village. The smiles of the children were somewhat unforgettable. After hearing how people all over the world are suffering from a lack of water, I saw a video this week that kind of kicked me in the gut. These people, who have no easy water in their lives, still smile. They still have joy.
This idea that it’s all a state of mind is what Jesus was getting at in this passage. To make the point hit home even harder, he quoted a sacred text, which we also heard this morning. Jesus was telling them they didn’t need to idly wait for a savior to rid them of their oppression. The solution to the problem already existed. They had the power amongst themselves to ensure that they were treated with dignity and respect. There was hope! There would be peace! There will be joy! They just needed some help seeing how.
Jesus read the passage about justice and liberation to people who were feeling misused, maltreated and trapped. They desperately wanted a change. So Jesus read the prophets words about a time of rising up, liberation and freedom in general, then he told them it was all possible not in the future but today. TODAY. All that was required was a change of thinking.
The second impact podcast I listened to was an interview by Rob Bell of a Rabbi Sharon Brous in Los Angeles who is leading in the Emergent Jewish Network, and speaking openly about the need for us to stop worshiping the structures of our varied religions and change the worship container so that we are truly able to focus on the source that challenges us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. You don’t eat the bowl, you eat the soup that’s in the bowl. We can’t seem to eat the soup because we are constantly distracted by the bowl. Not so different from Jesus’ constant sermon: All that’s required is a change of thinking.
You might be wondering where the “joy” is in all this. I’m telling you that the joy exists when you stop worrying about everything else and focus on simply loving other people. Sometimes, you do get burned, but other times, amazing things happen. Getting burned isn’t so horrible when you are focused on simply offering others love. It’s their choice how they use it. I didn’t understand this until this past annual meeting of the Maritime Conference. I had just finished dealing with someone who was quite upset and someone asked me how I could deal with everyone and still keep smiling. I did it because I kept singing one of my favorite songs – a Kirtan hymn actually the words are “I release and I let go, I let the Spirit run my life. My heart is open wide and I’m only here to love.” I’m just here to offer loving kindness, it’s someone else’s choice if they choose to use it well, take advantage of it and me or even ignore what I have to offer. The opposite is true too. When others offer me loving kindness it’s my choice to use it well, take advantage of it or ignore it.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to let go of some of the things that keep you from experiencing joy by focusing simply on loving? Are you going to accept the gifts of loving kindness offered to you even though you wanted something else? Are you going to shift your thinking so that you are focused on what really matters?

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Abundance over flows all around us. Because we are abundant people, we choose to give.

Offertory Laughter Lit The Stars of Morning MV 190 v1

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR offer justice and joy to those in need. Amen.

Prayer Music Never Ending Joy MV 40 refrain, v3, refrain

Prayers of the People
Ending with the traditional Prayer of Jesus, found in Voices United, pg 921 or on the screen.
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 Hope Is A Candle Linnea Good v3 with story bit, v2, v1

December 4, 2016 – Advent 2

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Text Week
Working Preacher
Stewardship of Life: Return, Rend & Receive

Hymn It Came Upon A Midnight Clear VU 44

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant (on the screen) Phil Porter

Call to Worship:
One: Two small flames flicker and grow. Reminding us to keep seeking hope, and that hope can grow into personal peace. When each of us nurtures our peace, it can’t help but grow.
All: A single candle offers us hope. Two candles inspire peace.

Hymn Ring a Bell for Peace VU 65

Opening Prayer:
We pray that this hour might be filled with peace and compassion. May your spirit’s presence surround us today and travel with us this week as we remember this time. Amen.

Theme Conversation The Jesse Tree: Another Seven Days
Spin Me A Story AGCS #17 v.1

Readings Joel 2:12-13, 28-29 (3:1-2)

Hymn Spirit, Spirit Gentleness VU 375

Reflection Visions & Dreams
Prophesy, visions and dreams.  Today’s gift from the lectionary reeks of peace.  Dreams come from ideals.  They are lofty and wishful.  Dreams still can be achievable, even if they are lofty. World Peace is lofty and wishful, but it’s probably more achievable than me becoming a millionaire.   Visions are dreams that come with some wisdom.  Having a vision about World Peace probably includes the knowledge that before you can have peace with others, you must have peace with yourself.  If you have your own internal conflict, how can you possibly be peaceful with others?  Prophecy is the public or vocal reminder that our dreams and visions need to be for the greater good.   We hear lots of prophetic voices on a regular basis:  advocates against child poverty and homelessness, mental health advocates, literacy advocates, lgbtq+ issues, and human rights issues.  We hear lots of “you’re doing it wrong” too, but let’s be clear: simply telling someone they are doing it wrong isn’t prophecy – that’s just getting in the way.

Bob and I have been watching a show all fall called “The Great Indoors”.  The main character in the show is a new supervisor to a group of people he simply doesn’t understand.  Sometimes he feels they are speaking another language.  He tells them they are wrong and often insinuates, if not outright says, they are stupid.  And he wonders why they have no faith in his leadership.  And it’s true.  They have great respect for him, but no faith that he has any idea about the world and what makes it tick.  In his mind, his underlings are so clueless about life in general, it is offensive to him.  I just want to sit him down and somehow find the words to explain to him that he’s never going to get anywhere using that kind of strategy.

Dreams, visions and prophecy, neither one of the three can be successful without the other two.  Dreams aren’t successful unless there’s a path to get there.  Visions and prophecy together supply that path.  Visions aren’t successful unless they are accompanied by the energy that dreams and prophecy supply.  And prophecy can’t be successful without the hope that comes from dreams and visions together.

A church is a community of people who work together on common dreams, visions and prophecies.  What are our dreams as a community of faith?  Do we have any visions?  Who are our prophets?  What are they saying? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to share our wisdom? Are we ready to dream?

Hymn Spirit, Spirit Gentleness VU 375

Minute for Mission Brunswick St Executive Director Sandra Nicholas

Offering Invitation Peace is ours to share, it is up to us to find the best way to share it.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offering Prayer May these gifts and those given through PAR inspire peace, in our congregation, in our community, and beyond. Amen

Prayer Music Make Me A Channel of Your Peace Music Ministry

Prayers of the People Heather Starr-Williams

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle Linnea Good

November 28, 2016 – Advent 1

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Printable Advent Calendars:
Cute Donkey
Advent Unwrapped
Advent Thoughts
Praying in Color

Advent in General:
Advent Unwrapped
Patheos: What is Advent?
Proost
Rachel Held Evans: 26 Ideas for Advent
The Liturgists: Oh Light!

Narrative Lectionary:
The Working Preacher

On Advent 1:
Kathy And the World
RevGalsBlogPals: Lions and Tigers and Prayers, oh my!
Steve Thomason: Feeling Trapped?
Awesome Daniel Video
Seasons of the Nativity by Sybil MacBeth
Rex Hunt

St. Luke’s United Church
November 27th, 2016
Hope
Hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel VU v1, 4 & 7

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter (from Seasons of the Nativity)

Call to Worship:
One: We start the new year with a small light. It flickers and glows, struggling against the odds. These are days where we need all the hope we can find.
All: A single candle offers us hope.

Opening Prayer:
Spirit of Hope
May we see your presence in unexpected places and faces. We pray that we fill each other with hope and renewing our spirits. Encourage us to take the hope we receive today and share it with others. Amen.

Hymn When You See a Rainbow

The Jesse Tree: the First Seven Days

Readings Daniel 6:6-27
Luke 23:1-5

Daniel
Routinely, I sweat choosing hymns. There’s a whole process you see. If it’s a regular Sunday, there are three hymns and three choruses. Everything has to match the theme, which usually comes from the readings, but on days like today you also have to include seasonal themes. So I’m working with Daniel and Hope. But these aren’t the only guidelines that I have to work with. I do try to be respectful of the wide variety of preference that exists amongst you all. I pick one hymn from Voices United, one from More Voices, one of which needs to be upbeat and one slower. Then I make sure that there is one that was written before 1950. Do you know how many hymns exist in all of the books that Dana and I looked at that deal with Hope? How about Daniel? I’ll give you a hint – there were none that dealt with both. Two lines of a hymn, in the recesses of my memory about Daniel, one Linnea Good piece about Daniel’s friends, and very few that met the other criteria. It’s a shame really. We need more hymns about hope. There are plenty of secular songs, but not many hymns. At this time, in our particular society we need to be constantly singing songs and hymns of hope. None of this – and by this I mean any bit of Christianity, is possible without hope. Hope that we can create a world where people can live and love as their best selves without worrying. We’ve got a whole book, it’s called the Bible, of these stories…so why do we have more secular songs about hope than hymns?
We’ve heard a decent number of stories about hope this morning: the creation story, Noah, Sarah and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and even Joseph’s brothers were all hoping for something. So now we’re up to Daniel, our lectionary gift today. The Book of Daniel is an apocalyptic book, that means it’s a book with visions – kind of like a Biblical Sci-Fi.
The point of the book of Daniel is to offer hope to those who feel hopeless. When we feel ourselves being sucked in, tricked and trapped by empire, to avoid the power struggle. To realize that one person cannot control everything. It’s even true in our families. I suspect that everyone knows someone, who needs to have everything their particular version of perfect. They are upset when the children are noisy or messy, they are upset if the potatoes are a bit burned, they are upset if the big gift they ordered online has not come in, they are upset if they can’t find their favorite Christmas carol with the “right” words in the hymn book, they are upset if the light bulbs that you’ve put on the Christmas Tree for the last ten years suddenly don’t work and you can no longer purchase multi-coloured Christmas lights that don’t have blue. Christmas is bigger than all that. God is bigger than Christmas. It’s not just about who hosts the annual dinner, it’s about God’s presence in your Christmas celebrations. It’s not even about the words you use to describe God, I mean really, if there were a correct and one true way to describe God, do you really think the Bible would be as long as it is with as many books as it has? God is evident when we recognize the patterns and realize that we need to commit ourselves to breaking those patterns as we see them. I see God in so many places…in the truth and reconciliation process and in those who recognize that re-victimization that can happen when people testify. I see God in the people who have decided to stay in the US and speak up for the persecuted. I see God in the people who keep challenging us to have a dialogue about what we, as a United Church mean when we use the word “God”. I see God in our struggle as a congregation to balance tradition with the desire to model diversity and welcome all.
The passage from Daniel today reminds us that it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to step out in faith, because if you truly step out in faith, acting for the greater good, much like Daniel in coming out of the night in the den, you’ll find there’s someone else who is rooting for you and your success and will likely join you next time, if not sooner. Amen.

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Hope comes to us in many forms. I invite you to consider how you might offer hope to others.

Offertory Grant Us, God, the Grace VU 540

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become signs of hope for others. Amen.

Communion Hymn As We Gather at Your Table VU 457
Communion this morning will be served in small groups. When the time comes, you are invited to gather your chairs in 8 circles. Communion elements will be distributed to each circle where you will be invited to serve each other. (Communion Liturgy created by Rex Hunt, adapted)
Welcome
One: May Love be with you.
All: And also with you!
One: May our hearts be opened.
All: We open ourselves to life.
One: Creator of light, Bearer of life, Source of love,
All: your ancient love 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
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.
In this season, we listen for the voices crying in the wilderness.
We sing the song of angels who quiet our fears.
We find ourselves in the company of shepherds and magi
who search for what is coming to birth
in unlikely places among unlikely people.
In the company of courageous parents,
we dare to birth the holy among us.
In the divine, we live and move and have our being.
For all that is born of a sacred love,
we give our thanks and praise.
The advent of the holy is among us in every moment.
All: In Jesus of Nazareth, we see new possibilities,
new ways of being in the world.
He was moved by the plight of the poor.
He made his home with the homeless
and shared his table with those
who could not command a seat at any table.
He dreamed of a world where enemies learned to love one another,
where the abundance of creation was shared fairly,
and where love was the law of every land.
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
Come from loneliness into the welcome of this table.
All: Come from anxiety into the peace of this table.
Come from tensions into the joy of this table.
All: Come from conflict into the love of this table.
Come and share the bread which leavens our hope.
All: Come and share the cup which strengthens our compassion.
Come to enliven our capacity to work for transformation.
All: Come, let us lay aside those things that shield our hearts.
Let us be open to the holy we meet
in the manger, and in the mirror.
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
The Bread and the Cup are shared with the blessing:
Bread of Hope
Cup of Compassion
After the Sharing (Adapted.Nancy L.Steeves, 2008)
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 and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle The Good Book #18

November 20, 2016

The last of the missing bibliography weeks.  Sorry about that.  Good thing I’ve been working on a new way of tracking that sort of stuff.  No sermon, larger than usual theme conversation about learning the stories of our faith.

Links to the history on Jesse Trees:

Wikipedia

Loyola Press

Catholicculture.org

Myjessetree.com

St. Luke’s United Church
November 20th, 2016
Hymn My Lighthouse Rend Collective

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing a special nametag.
Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Call to Worship:
One: Are you ready to worship?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to listen attentively?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to share openly and honestly?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to celebrate God and the movement of the Spirit?
Children: We are ready
Adults: We are ready.
All: Let us worship!

Opening Prayer: (Rex Hunt,
Adapted)
We have come to this quiet space
to think about our lives,
to pray for ourselves and others, and
to begin to understand each other.

May we enjoy this time together.
May it be so.
Hymn Jesus Love Me VU 365
The History of Our Faith

Readings Ruth 4:13-17

Hymn Forever Young Rod Stewart

Shoots from Roots

Our Own Outreach- St. Luke’s Community Players

Offering Invitation
Gifts can be more than money. Whatever you have to offer, your gift is special, and we appreciate it.

Offertory Ev’ry day Is a Day of Thannksgiving MV 185

Offering Prayer
For these gifts and those given through PAR we give thanks. May those who gave the gifts know that we appreciate them. Amen.

Prayer Music Lord Listen to Your Children Praying VU 400

Prayers of the People
Ending with the traditional Prayer of Jesus, found in Voices United, pg 921 or on the screen.
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 Go Make a Difference MV 209

November 13, 2016

Still in the land of the lost bibliography.  🙁  The Baptism liturgy was adapted from Rex Hunt’s website.

St. Luke’s United Church
November 13th, 2016
Hymn How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place MV 29

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Call to Worship: StAndrew’s, Auckland, adapted.
One: We gather here as the human ones of creation.
All: We name ourselves threads in the web of life.
One: We give thanks for connection,
that we are all part of one another
and that we are part of the sacred.
All: So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Opening Prayer: The Buddha, adapted.
The thought becomes the word.
The word becomes the deed.
The deed develops into habit.
And habit harden into character.

So watch the thought and its ways with care.
And let it spring from love
born out of concern for all beings.
Hymn I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry VU 644
Baptism & Transfer
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:
Barrett Michael Kelly

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 Barrett
growing with him in faith, hope, and love?
I will, God being my helper.

Commitment of Godparents
Recognizing that many persons nurture and influence the life of a child, will you support Barrett and his parents as they grow in faith?
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)

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.

Barrett Michael Kelly, 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.
Barrett, I mark you with the cross, a sign of the Power of Love.
Amen.

Laying On of Hands
Barrett, 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

Transferring Membership
Mindy, 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 Mindy our support and care.
All: 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.
We will together live out
the mission and ministry of the Church.

Symbol of Welcome

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 celebration of all that has happened today, let’s join together in an Affirmation of Faith:
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.

Blessing: May God’s Sheltering Wings MV 214

Readings Isaiah 65:17-25

Hymn I See A New Heaven VU 713

A Vision of Peace
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. Courage to change the things we can, And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
This particular passage from Isaiah reminds me that it is possible, it is within our reach to create heaven – right here on earth. All we need to do is change the way we think about things. You see, the realm of God as described in this passage is made of common things, things that exist here on earth. People wanting what they have and having what they want – because it’s not extravagant.
This passage along with the understanding that even in situations of extreme poverty, people can still find happiness, has shaped my understanding of the realm of God: that supposedly far off place that we as Christians are constantly working for. You can be a lamb and live happily with a lion – if you are willing to trust the lion and offer the lion respect. Similarly, you can be a lion and live with a lamb – if you value the lamb as a being and offer the lamb respect. You don’t have to stop being a lion, you just need to have more respect for other beings than usual.
I don’t know about you, but often I look in the mirror and see a lamb, when really I should be seeing a lion. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself, but I have to remember that even though I might not have the largest bank account or the most powerful position, I am still capable of a lot.
There’s a cartoon online that has gone viral in the last couple of days. It gives a step by step account of how to help someone being harassed or bullied in a non-confrontational way, in a very lion laying down with a lamb kind of way. The cartoon itself is specific to Islamophobia, but could easily be adapted to any phobia. In four simple steps, the helper doesn’t engage the perpetrator at all. Instead the helper treats the victim as they would a friend. This seems to be a particularly relevant cartoon this week as things to the South of us seem to be escalating. While I might be a lion, I’m certainly not the bravest lion. But this non-confrontational method might actually be do-able. In the follow up, post US election mindlessness, it has also been suggested that if you are unable to engage in a conversation, to at least record the incident and report it.
A lot happened this past week. Some good, some not so good. As Christians, as followers of The Way, we’re called to work towards the kindom, the realm of God, in everything we do. Lamb or Lion, there is always something that you can do. This is my own personal trick: figure out the least I can do, and go from there. Sometimes it turns out to be a lot, and often it turns out to be the least but even something small is better than nothing. So what small steps can you take towards the realm of God? What is the least you can do to help Lions and Lambs get along? When are you a Lion, offering dignity and respect? When are you a Lamb, offering trust and respect? Can you see the new heaven yet? May it be so.

Music Ministry

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
We are each called to give according to our gifts. Each person’s gifts are different, and for that we give thanks.

Offertory Ev’ry day Is a Day of Thannksgiving MV 185

Offering Prayer
For these gifts and those given through PAR, we give thanks. May they help us to continue the journey of peace we pray. Amen.

Prayer Music And When You Call for Me MV 96

Prayers of the People
Ending with ‘A Paraphrase’, found in Voices United, pg 916 or on the screen.
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.
Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be.
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen.
Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing You Shall Go Out With Joy VU 884

November 6, 2016

I can’t believe I lost at least 4 weeks worth of Bibliography. I’ll try to add what I can reconstruct…

St. Luke’s United Church
November 6th, 2016

Hymn And On This Path MV 8

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the A Candle for Peace & placing a Remembrance Wreath

Hymn Down By the Riverside Joyful Noise 123

Call to Worship:
One: God calls us to worship.
All: God calls us to live our lives with compassion.
One: God calls us to worship.
All: God calls us to walk the Path of Peace together.
One: God calls us to worship, as we pray…

Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt, adapted)
Spirit of life and love, we have gathered in this place, again.
May we create here a circle of love, ever expanding, ever growing.
A place of wisdom.
A place of connection.
A place of peace.
A place of hope.
May it be so!

What does the Path to Peace look like?

Music Ministry

Readings: Micah 4:1-6
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The Path to Peace

Swords to ploughshares and a time for everything. The classic passages for peace. So often repeated that I bet many of you have them, or at least parts of them, memorized. So for those of you who may not have heard these before, a quick background:
Ecclesiastes is a book that we, as Christians, share with of Hebrew predecessors. It is a book of wisdom, that is a book that describes wisdom as something bigger than we are, but something that is a part of our lives. This particular passage, is a study of life as wisdom…or maybe it’s a study of wisdom as life. It’s most likely a little of both. This particular passage reminds us of the cycle of life that balances us in the constant evolution that is life. They might sound familiar to you as if they are lyrics to a song. The Byrd’s took this particular passage and made it famous with the song “Turn, Turn, Turn”.
Micah is also a book that we share with our Hebrew predecessors. It is a prophetic book calling us to act for the sake of a beautiful future for everyone. This particular section happens to be about how the future will be rebuilt on a desire to live in peace. The idea of taking weapons and turning them into tools to end hunger is powerful, as is the idea that nations will gather and sort out their differences peacefully and live by the rules.
Neither of these passages suggest that peace is accomplished by the flip of a switch. I think most, if not many people would agree that we have been through and might still be in a time of war. We can choose to remain in this time of war, this time of hierarchy, empire, bullying and fascism, or we can choose to take steps towards the time of peace. That’s what the Micah passage is about: Consciously choosing to make choices that move us in the direction of peace.
Creating a culture of peace takes generations and hope that is strong enough to pass from one generation to the next. Similar to the hope that would keep fans in the stands for 107 years, buying tickets to games that never seem to be in their favor, wearing the jersey of a losing team. There is no one alive that remembers the last time the Cubs won the World Series, but they still had fans, who still wore the jerseys and still bought the seats. The fans kept buying the tickets and wearing the jerseys because they still had hope. Each trade, each pick the managers made, the fans saw as a step in the right direction. Each time at bat, every strike, one step closer.
I don’t live with a Cubs fan, but I do live with 3 Red Sox fans. So I do know something about that unwavering hope. In our house, there’s never a bad day to wear a Red Sox jersey, t-shirt or hat. The Green Monster, the iconic wall in the Red Sox’s home, is just as exciting to visit as the Westminster Abbey. The hope is so strong that the game isn’t over until the last possible strike. I suspect that someone or something in our family, at some point, will be named “Ortiz” in Big Papi’s (pronounced Poppy) honour. It was a sleepless night in our house the last time the Red Sox won the World Series. I suspect the same kind of hope and celebration exists in loyal Cubs fan’s homes too.
It took 107 years of hoping for the Cubs to win. All the fans could do is be loyal and keep offering hope. How long will it take for peace to win when we are all hoping, all remaining loyal to the dream of peace and all taking whatever small steps we can? Amen.

Hymn We Are Pilgrims VU 595

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Small steps can lead to great things. Similarly, all gifts can lead to great things. We are thankful for whatever you can offer.

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

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become steps along the path to Peace. Amen.

Communion Hymn Bread for the Journey MV 202

A word about the Importance of Consent
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.
Communion will be served to you, with the liturgy provided on the screen. Please indicate to your server if you need gluten free bread. Please hold on to your bread and juice for communal consumption. Liturgy by David Galston, adapted.

Welcome to this banqueting table.
This is a table of hospitality,
of sharing, and of celebration.
We break bread and fill the cup
because these are the gifts that strengthen
our journey together.
Let’s begin this journey by passing the Peace of Christ.

Remembering our Common Humanity…
We remember and honour the justice imperative
that is the biblical heritage:
justice is not belief but action,
not silence but voice,
not tolerance but compassion.
A banquet reminds us of our common humanity
and our common need for just relationships.
All: Jesus said, “If you love those who love you,
what merit is there in that?
An outlaw can do the same thing.
And if you give only to those who give back to you,
do you really expect congratulations?
Rather, love your enemies, do good,
and lend without expecting anything in return.”
Bread and Wine
The call to follow justice is easy to issue,
but the resolve to follow justice is difficult to muster.
Together, let us be a community
that not only issues the word
but follows the dictate.
May our community be one that holds
the strength of compassion and the resolve to act.
May we be a people who unites
our words with our deeds.
All: For the dignity of life and the hope of humanity,
may it be so.
Remembering the night that Jesus gathered his friends together, giving thanks for each of them and all they had accomplished together,
We break bread as an act of solidarity.
We fill the cup as an act of sharing.
Welcome to this banquet celebration.

Bread of solidarity.
Cup of sharing.

Music Ministry – Lauren Parks

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing I am Walking a Path of Peace MV

 

October 30th, 2016

Once again, my bibliography is gone.  🙁  I thought I had posted a months worth of Sundays that I didn’t.  I’ll post what I can remember.

Lost Sheep – Zac the Taxman
Textweek.com – Proper 26
Working Preacher – Zaccheaus and the Reformation
Wikipedia – Zaccheaus

St. Luke’s United Church
October 30 th, 2016

Hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus VU 664

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Hymn When Hands Reach Out and Finger Trace MV 136
Call to Worship:
One: We come each with our own fears and insecurities.
All: We come looking to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
One: We come searching for meaning in the everyday.
All: We come to celebrate our diversity.
One: We gather as individuals, working toward community.
All: We gather in worship.

Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt)
Loving God, we gather in this place,
coming from our varied concerns and competing views,
yet seeking our common humanity.

May our eyes be opened,
May our hearts be touched,
May our wills be empowered… now.
May it be so. Amen.

Zacchaeus

Readings: Luke 19:1-10
Hymn I Saw the Rich Ones MV 127

Reflection

What’s the point of this story? As a child, it always seemed that the story about Zacchaeus was about a short man, who was a bit of a push-over as the crowd kept getting in front of him. Then Jesus yells at him and invites himself to Zacchaeus’s house. Zacchaeus then admits to do bad things a Jesus forgives him. But every three years when this reading comes around, I find yet another new spin on it.
The last time around I came across the story of Zac the Tax Man. The idea of Zacchaeus being bullied certainly hit home. It’s not just the suggestion that perhaps Zacchaeus was bullied as a child, it’s also the fact that adults bully each other. It only takes a few moments of election coverage, especially South of the border. But it’s not just in the election. Adults can be overly competitive or shame each other into submission. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who constantly one-upped you? Or, as many new moms can attest to – mommy shaming – especially over things such as breast feeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations and even post-partum. Believe it or not, some women can be so “right” that they can’t even hear another woman’s experience. Our words and actions affect other people. Period. Intended or not, what we say and do can have an impact. So while the crowd around Jesus and Zacchaeus might not have intended to hurt his feelings, how else could Zacchaeus felt when he heard them ask “Why is Jesus going to the Sinner’s house?” How can someone so beautiful be with such a geek? Why is someone so smart with someone so stupid? Why is someone so nice going to have supper with someone so horrible? I’m going to put a disclaimer in here: there’s a fine line between minding your own business and helping someone trapped in an abusive or dangerous relationship. Do what you need to do, but don’t just stand there, pointing fingers and gossip or “tsk, tsk” about it. Bullying and shame was my lesson the last time around.
This time around, the point that hit home for me was that Zacchaeus defended himself. I was surprised when it was noted in a commentary the Zacchaeus told Jesus “I give half of my earnings to the poor. If I cheated anyone, I’ll pay them back 4 times.” There was no “will” give. It was simply give. I checked another commentary. Same thing. I read a few translations, and my most trusted one made no promise of giving earnings to the poor. Instead, it was made clear Zacchaeus was already doing it. Zacchaeus wasn’t falling for the shame act. Unexpectedly, Zacchaeus was standing up for himself with an enviable amount of courage.
I’ll admit, I bristle a bit when I get a “sin” passage turns up in the lectionary readings. It’s these passages that are often used to shame people into submission. Sin is a breakdown in a relationship. Using a Bible passage to shame people is itself a breakdown in a relationship and the whole point of Christianity is to build relationships to make the world a better place. Zacchaeus stood up for himself. He made it clear that he had no guilt. He did not cross any personal boundary about taxes. He also made it clear that he would not be consciously crossing any societal boundaries, there would be no shame on his watch. Jesus helped him to achieve his shame free goal simply by spending time with him. Jesus didn’t do what was expected of him by society. Jesus did the unexpected. Considering our society’s fascination with competition, fascism and shame this whole Zacchaeus story is unexpected. Unexpected interest. Unexpected criticism. Unexpected courage. Unexpected compassion. Unexpected grace. It’s time people. It’s time for us to see the unexpected in our midst. Amen.

Litany (from A Song of Faith and Luke 19:1-10)

God is Holy Mystery,
beyond complete knowledge,
above perfect description.

Yet,
in love,
the one eternal God seeks relationship.

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town
when a wealthy person whose name was Zacchaeus appeared.
Zacchaeus was one of the senior tax collectors.
Zacchaeus was anxious to see what Jesus was like,
but was too short and could not see Jesus for the crowd.

So God creates the universe
and with it the possibility of being and relating.
God tends the universe,
mending the broken and reconciling the estranged.
God enlivens the universe,
guiding all things toward harmony with their Source.

Grateful for God’s loving action,
We cannot keep from singing.

Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree
to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke:
‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’
And Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Jesus joyfully.
They all complained when they saw what was happening.
‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house,’ they said.
We sing of the Creator,
who made humans to live and move
and have their being in God.
In and with God,
we can direct our lives toward right relationship
with each other and with God.
We can discover our place as one strand in the web of life.
We can grow in wisdom and compassion.
We can recognize all people as kin.
We can accept our mortality and finitude, not as a curse,
but as a challenge to make our lives and choices matter.

Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to Jesus, “Here and now I give half my belongings to poor people. If I’ve defrauded anyone in the least, I’ll pay them back fourfold.”
Scripture is our song for the journey, the living word
passed on from generation to generation
to guide and inspire,
that we might wrestle a holy revelation for our time and place
from the human experiences
and cultural assumptions of another era.
God calls us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

Jesus said to the Tax Collector, “Today salvation has come to this house, for this is what it means to be a descendant of Sarah and Abraham. The Promised One has come to search out and save what was lost.”
We sing of Jesus,
a Jew,
born to a woman in poverty
in a time of social upheaval
and political oppression.
He knew human joy and sorrow.
So filled with the Holy Spirit was he
that in him people experienced the presence of God among them.
We sing praise to God incarnate.
Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign—
a commonwealth not of domination
but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
He forgave sins and freed those held captive
by all manner of demonic powers.
He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender.
He preached and practised unconditional love—
love of God, love of neighbour,
love of friend, love of enemy—
and he commanded his followers to love one another
as he had loved them.

All: We sing of God’s good news lived out,
a church with purpose:
faith nurtured and hearts comforted,
gifts shared for the good of all,
resistance to the forces that exploit and marginalize,
fierce love in the face of violence,
human dignity defended,
members of a community held and inspired by God,
corrected and comforted,
instrument of the loving Spirit of Christ,
creation’s mending.
We sing of God’s mission.
Hymn Jesus Calls Us VU 562

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
We each have different abilities and gifts. Regardless of what we have to offer, we are called to offer from the heart.

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

Offering Prayer
May the gifts and those given though PAR, empower each of us to offer from a place of deep compassion. Amen.

Prayer Music Gather Us In MV 7
Prayers of the People, ending by singing the Prayer of Jesus VU Dana’s choice
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 We Will Take What You Offer MV 196