January 1, 2017

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Story Path

Text Week

Working Preacher

Rex Hunt

Onbeing – Parker Palmer’s 5 Revolutions

St. Luke’s United Church
January 1st, 2017
Hymn Where Two or Three Are Gathered MV 14

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

Call to Worship: (L Van Leer, adapted)
One: We light this Candle on this, the first day of a new year, letting go of what has been,
All: Open and hopeful for what may come,
One: Renewed, restored, ready to live Life fully anew.
All: May we move forward with intention.

Opening Prayer: (M Rose, adapted)
God of surprises,
startle us with truth we do not see,
amaze us with your power and grace, beckon us, and lead us far above restricted hope and narrow faith. May it be so.

Hymn I Have Called You by Your Name MV 161

Anna & Simeon

Readings Luke 2:21-38

Hymn All Poor Ones and Humble VU 68

The future looks good.
The story of Anna and Simeon is often overlooked in our Christmas celebrations. Anna, a prophetess who worked in a temple with Simeon, an elderly priest. Anna and Simeon were both present at the temple when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus in for his dedication. This would have happened as soon as possible after Mary had healed from her delivery. Traditionally, the first child was dedicated to God, and a sacrifice was made. If you remember back to the Abraham and Isaac story, the traditions prior to Abraham and Isaac required the first born child, itself to be sacrificed. Since that time, Abraham’s descendants had offered a sacrifice, based on the family’s wealth. In Jesus’ case Mary and Joseph were only able to afford two pigeons, the option for poorer families.
Mary had come from the Priestly line, meaning that her family was destined to be priests simply due to their lineage. Kind of like my eyes were destined to be baby blue, because I am a Sangster. Similarly, Joseph was of Royal descent, being from the line of King David. Considering they were in Joseph’s hometown and Mary was from a long line of priests, I wonder if this presentation at the temple was one of those moments of coming home. Those of you who grew up in another church, in another community know what I’m talking about. Or perhaps you were here on Christmas Eve and saw the same thing: the once upon a time “children” in church coming back with kids of their own. I wonder if it was that sort of moment for Anna and Simeon? If they looked into those sweet baby eyes, and knowing the tenacity and leadership that his parents had, just knew he was going to be a real “firecracker”. I wonder if when they held his tiny little hand, they felt a change, if they knew this was the beginning of something bigger than someone who had a good upbringing, charisma, good leadership skills, and a support system to back him up? It’s always such a miracle to me, that someone with societal odds stacked so strongly against him could grow up to do such amazing things. Perhaps Anna and Simeon, when they looked into his still innocent eyes, they could see resilience. Maybe when Jesus was offered a finger to hold, he held on with such a strength that they knew he would be stronger mentally than they could imagine.
In many ways, this is a story of new beginnings. It’s Jesus’s dedication, the start of his religious upbringing. It’s the last thing that happens before Mary and Joseph head for home as a new family. It’s also the start of a social revolution, that comes to a major climatic point 33 years later. Despite many climatic points over the years, the revolution is still going – sort of.
2016 was a year that brought clarity to some people, coaxed others out of hiding and forced even more into hiding. It was the year of many celebrity deaths: Rob Ford, Leonard Cohen, George Michaels, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, to name a few. The Wildfires and subsequent evacuation of Fort MacMurray, a hate crime in Orlando, terrorism in France, Amber Alerts that don’t end well. Numerous local bomb threats, a very negative US election and the election of Donald Trump. More locally, we’ve lost friends and family, dealt with cancer and other health issues, job losses and lots dementia and alztimers moments.
As yucky as all this sounds, we’ve also had many great things happen in 2016: you decided to call me, which I think is great, we’ve welcomed babies and new families into our congregation and families, there have been engagements, awards, and academic and professional advancements. There have been family vacations, summer camps and retreats, new relationships that are life giving and challenges that we’ve overcome and achievements that seemed unachievable reached. 2016 may have had its ups and downs, but 2017 is filled with new opportunity.
Parker Palmer, ministry leader and founder of the Centre for Courage and Renewal published his 5 revolutions for 2017. It’s his way of protesting all of the negative of 2016 without adding to it. I like this idea of having your resolution be for the greater good, rather than just yourself. Parker is committing to:
1. The revolution against our fear of “otherness,” and against those who manipulate this fear for their self-serving ends. – in other words he’s committing to standing up when he sees or hears racism and telling others that even as a white, male, baby boomer – he’s offended and personally insulted by it.
2. The revolution against the state of denial in which most white Americans live. He’s not saying anyone has to give up their privilege, just be aware of it and use it to help others.
3. The revolution against the nonstop attacks on K-12 teachers and public schools. This might not be such a problem for us, but it’s not uncommon to hear of people complaining about our health care system, retail workers and public servants they feel aren’t doing their job when really it’s the expectations that are too high.
4. The revolution against gun-related policies driven by the delusional mentality of policy-makers and power brokers. Parker explains this one to be a mental health issue. That when people feel the need to protect themselves or potentially violate the rights of others to serve their own purposes, mental health issues are at play. Our gun control laws are much stricter than the US, but we still have the same mental health issues that perpetuate control issues and safety for everyone.
5. The revolution against the fantasy that a few of us can live secure private lives while ignoring our complicity in conditions that put many others at mortal risk. I think this one really sums up all his other revolutions. We are interconnected and like it or not the fact that we can live in our safe, secure communities, with clean water to drink and plenty of food to eat, is not the experience of the majority of the world.
These are Parker Palmer’s revolutions. The things he feels he can do to make the world a better place and not just his own life. You might not have the opportunity today to look into the eyes of a future leader who will change the world and make your commitments to change, but you do still have the opportunity to create or join a revolution at play in your own life. What are your revolutionary resolutions this year? How will you act for the greater good? How will you encourage others to act for the greater good? What can you do to change the world? Will you join in the revolution?

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The future is bright. We have so much to look forward to. This is our opportunity to share.

Offertory Though I May Speak VU 372 v. 2

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become paths to unbelievable futures. Amen.

Prayer Music Pure Love MV 31

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

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New MV 115

 

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