January 29, 2017 – Stewardship

We deviated from the lectionary with the stewardship campaign.

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Working Preacher – Commentary, Dear Working Preacher 1, Dear Working Preacher 2

Word & World

The Freedom of Obedience

Delete repeated word

Composition of the human body

 

St. Luke’s United Church
January 29th, 2017
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.

Hymn Call By Earth and Sky MV 135

Call to Worship:
One: What brings you here today?
Any who identify: A sense of duty.
One: What brings you here today?
Any who identify: The commitment to community.
One: What brings you here today?
Any who identify: The opportunity to celebrate and give thanks.
One: What brings you here today?
Any who identify: A need to experience the Holy.
One: What brings you here today?
Any other reasons: …(Please share other reasons)…
One: Whatever brings you here, I’m glad that you came. Thank you for joining me as we worship.

Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Opening Prayer:
Source of Abundance,
As we gather this hour, may it be filled with learning, and reflecting. May we be filled with Grace and Spirit. May it be so.

Hymn Jesus Bids Us Shine VU 585

What is Stewardship?

Readings Matthew 5:13-16

Hymn All Praise to You VU 297

Salt & Light
Sometimes it’s a little too easy to focus on the negative. We finished the year with a deficit. There are so many fewer people here on Sunday mornings than there used to be. And I’m going to stop right there. No one needs to be reminded of the ways they wish they were different. It’s something though that many people do constantly. Not only do people do it to each other, but the media does it. Society has adopted a culture of “telling it like it is”. But there’s a difference in “telling it like it is” and being rude. Unfortunately, so many times it’s rude.
I’m going to suggest that we use this stewardship campaign to start a culture shift. I’m going to start with our scripture for this campaign:
Together, we are salt of the earth and light during shining out into the night.
Let me tell you how we are salt of the earth. Salt is a natural product of the earth. In fact the elements that make up table salt as we know it also makes up around 15% of the human body. Too much salt though can be bad for the body. Salt is natural balance. And so are we. We work hard to achieve natural balance. A balance of theology, a balance of age, a balance of lifestyles and backgrounds. We work hard to ensure we have a balance of rentals and church events, income and expense, old and new, familiar and challenging. We work hard to be balanced, and for the most part, we’re doing ok. So we’ll keep on working at the balance thing.
When I think of light and being light to the world, I think of lighthouses. Lighthouses show the safest route to take to reach the destination. Lighthouses are a sign that someone is out there, caring about people they don’t even know. We are lighthouses in our relationship with the Marguerite Centre, in our donations to the foodbank, in our desire to offer affordable meeting space to numerous community groups, and in our efforts to welcome refugee families. We work hard to be a lighthouse, and we’re doing well.
We’re doing well at being salt and light, but that doesn’t always mean we’re successful with all of our pursuits. Sometimes we need to look at what doesn’t feel successful and figure out what we learned from it. For example, we had a bit of a deficit this year, not huge, but still a deficit. During council’s pre-AGM meeting we discussed why we didn’t have the income we anticipated, and where we spent more than expected. We decided to be a bit more open about our costs, and more open about how we fund our expenses. Stewardship already had our stewardship campaign prepared, so we have woven in educational elements to hopefully clarify what our financial situation really is. Now in this two weeks, we are hoping to discover what you love about St. Luke’s and the United Church as a whole. Learning what’s is important to each other will not only spark us to be saltier and shine our light further, but hopefully it will help us to fall in love a little more with St. Luke’s and the United Church as a whole.
So here’s my story of why I give.
I have always been a United Church person. As many people do in their late teens and early twenties, I drifted away from the church. Not far mind you, but I was ready to leave. All it would have taken was one negative encounter. Luckily, that didn’t happen before I began to understand my role in church world and why I loved the United Church so much. I love how the United Church welcomes people who are different. I love how we are more about living our lives authentically than we are about keeping up appearances. The United Church is ok with my insecurities and my questions, accepting me for who I am and not asking me to change. I love how we speak up for those who are not in the majority, not only in our own communities, but across the country and across the world. As for, the reasons I love St. Luke’s, I love our dedication to each other, I love our openness to trying new things and our desire to grown into who we are as people of faith and as a community of faith. What do you love about St. Luke’s? What compels you to give your time and talent to St. Luke’s? What compels you to give?

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The Offering is a perfect time to practice being a steward. It is a time to examine what you are able to give and where it can be best used for the good of the whole.

Offertory Though I May Speak VU 372 v. 2

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become a commitment to living as salt and light to the world. Amen.

Prayer Music Pure Love MV 31

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

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Go Make a Diff’rence MV 209

January 22, 2017

No reflection this week from me, I was away for a family emergency and a parishioner offered to take over that part of worship.

St. Luke’s United Church
January 22nd, 2017
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.

Hymn Jesus Saw Them Fishing MV 113

Call to Worship:
One: The theme today is all about the call: the call to live your life the way Jesus modeled for us. For some of the disciples, the call rang out in the form of Jesus voice across the water.
All: Sometimes, the call is hard to hear.
One: As we prepare ourselves for worship, let’s listen for God’s call.
All: We will listen with our ears and with our hearts.

Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Opening Prayer:
May this worship be filled with the joy of hearing and understanding the call to be followers of the way that Jesus taught. May it be so.

Hymn Dear Lord, Lead Me Day by Day VU 568

Fishing for People

Readings Luke 5:1-11

Hymn He Leadth Me VU 657

Gordon Earle

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The call can be answered in many ways, including with your offering.

Offertory Though I May Speak VU 372 v. 2

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become a commitment to living the way that Jesus taught. Amen.

Prayer Music Pure Love MV 31

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

Commissioning and Benediction

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

January 15, 2017

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Textweek.com
Patheos, Patheos 2, Patheos 3
Working Preacher – Commentary 1, Commentary 2, Commentary 3
The Labyrinth Way
Moving Beyond Mending Our Walls
Left Behind and Loving it
The Listening Hermit
Elijah
Robin Mark on the Days of Elijah

St. Luke’s United Church
January 15th, 2017
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.

Hymn       Let Us Build a House      MV 1
Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering
Call to Worship:
One:  These are the days.
All:  These are the days of justice.
One:  These are the days of the kin-dom.
All:  These are the days we celebrate.
One: These are the days we worship.
All: These are the days.

Opening Prayer:
God of prophets and pilgrims,
We pray that this hour might be a time of homecoming.  For those of us who find it comforting, we give thanks.  For those of us who find it an awkward homecoming, we pray that they become stronger because of it.  May it be so.

Hymn         A Light is Gleaming           VU 82
Catching Up.
Readings      Luke 14:1-30
Hymn      We Meet You O Christ    VU 183
These Are The Days
Here’s a surprise: Jesus’s first sermon was unpopular. Anyone who has preached enough to know the box you are supposed to stay “in” knows that anytime you step outside the norm and challenge people, suddenly you find yourself on the receiving end of harsh criticism. It was a Meryl Streep/Donald Trump kind of moment. Jesus called the authorities out and they reacted poorly.
The reason for their upset: Jesus told them that no one was going to save them but themselves, and what they were working towards wasn’t necessarily for them. What they were called to do was for those less fortunate and for future generations.
The year of the Lord’s Favor had been happening every 50 years since at least the time of the book of Leviticus. It’s sometimes called “The Year of Jubilee”. The Year of Jubilee was an opportunity for the poor and oppressed to change their position. Instead of owning slaves, the wealthy Hebrew people were encouraged to treat people as employees paying them a minimum sort of wage, but in the Jubliee year, they were encouraged to relieve all debt of their employees. This wasn’t an action that was in the best interests of the employer – they would be losing money. I’m sure a number of the employers likely looked for loopholes and ways to get around freeing the debt-load. However, it was good for the employees, and simply put, it was the right thing to do.
Jesus was preaching about the Jubilee year and the time of Elijah, a time when miracles happened for those who need them the most. Jesus had no fear when it came to saying things people didn’t want to hear. He had no time for useless practices that were set-up just to make people feel better about themselves for a time being. His point in this particular case was why wait 50 years to relieve debt, when you have the ability to relieve the debt now. Why should one person sit in comfort, making all the money, when others don’t get to sit at all and still end up in debt? Popular message if you are talking to poor people. Absolutely not popular if you are talking to people who are only interested in accumulating wealth. Depending on how it’s phrased, it could be popular when talking to the middle class. In this particular instance, it wasn’t a popular message, so either the crowd was upper class and Jesus, someone from a lower class, was challenging their power or more likely, Jesus is talking to his middle class counter-parts. I suspect some of his particular phrasing is lost in the translation, but my hunch is that Jesus was talking to overworked people. People who had decent jobs, but they certainly weren’t living a life of luxury. Maybe in their minds, they were just getting by and barely hanging on themselves. Maybe they were exhausted emotionally and financially and felt they could stand some rescuing themselves. A familiar kind of setting for many of us. An insult almost, when you feel like you are giving it your best shot, but no one else is joining in. They probably were pretty mad. Here’s this young person full of himself, coming into their community after leaving it and telling them what to do. What business did he have? He hadn’t earned his dues. They were the ones who had spent so many years looking after things and now they were going to have to save themselves? Who was this disrespectful person? It’s a familiar song and dance of the generations, and I’m sure ten years later the same people who chased him out of town were somewhat embarrassed about the whole situation. If they were alive now, I imagine they would shake their heads in disbelief at their own actions. But still they chased him out because he wasn’t dreaming their dream. Something they had worked their whole lives toward…and here was the next generation saying they were changing the dream. There are two ways they could have responded to this situation: one is with anger that their dream is not being carried out the exact same way they had imagined it (this is the response they chose) or they could have been proud that the next generation saw enough value in their dream to add to it and to try accomplishing it another way. What dreams are you picking up? What dreams are you letting go of? Will you let go in anger or with pride in what you’ve been able to accomplish and where it will go with new leadership?

Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
This is the year of Jubilee.  If we work together, all can join in the Jubilee and experience peace.
Offertory     Though I May Speak     VU 372 v. 2
Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become the trumpet blasts that sound the year of Jubilee. Amen.

Prayer Music     Pure Love     MV 31
Prayers of the People
Ending with a sung Prayer of Jesus.

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

Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing     Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New     MV 115