January 7, 2018

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Garden Hill – CBC
Garden Hill – Feed the Children
Garden Hill – Wikipedia
Sean Loney – Army of Problemsolvers – excellent interviews!

Words of Welcome
“We begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. This territory is covered by the peace and friendship treaties which Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples first signed with the British crown in 1725. These treatiesdid not deal with surrender of lands or resources, but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq title and established rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.” May we honour the friendship, support and spirit of peace which was offered to our settler ancestors.

Lighting the Candle & Ringing the Singing Bowl

Hymn Dance With the Spirit MV 156

Call to Worship

One: Each of us have come from different places and spaces.
All: Each of us have come seeking something to comfort and calm or energize and uplift.
One: Each of us will hear the same words and sing the same songs with a unique perspective.
All: Each of us has a different needs, and we recognize that no one person’s needs are greater than another’s.
One: With this understanding and intent, our hearts unite in worship.

Opening Prayer

Ever-moving Spirit, we pray that with your guidance during this hour, we’ll dance, sing and pray our way to deeper meaning and richer relationships with each other and with you. Amen.

Hymn Will You Come and See the Light VU 96

Theme Conversation Come & See

Readings John 1:35-51

Musical Response Hear My Prayer O God VU 865 refrain

Sermon Who do you follow?
Come and See…the anointed one…can anything good come from Nazareth?…Come and See…
We are now in a brief section of the church year where Jesus begins his ministry and today’s reading is about the recruiting of Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip & Nathanael. The men keep getting tempted by this “Come and See” phrase. Come and See the anointed one, the one we’ve specifically chosen to lead us out of this mess. Come and See what the bottom of the bucket Nazareth has created! You have to see it to believe it. The men do go and see and they then decide to follow Jesus and his teachings. I love the book of John, it’s metaphorical and symbolic and I love the mental puzzle of what it all can mean. I love looking for the repeated messages hidden in the stories and parables.
I spent a fair bit of time this week learning about a “solutions economy”. Author and Canadian Activist, Sean Loney, believes that focusing our attention on a solutions based economy can fix our current economic situation. What he means is that some of our social problems can be the solution to our economic problem with a little bit of resilience, a little bit of compassion from the empire and a little bit of luck. He proposes we take the problem and turn it into a solution to the larger economic problem. He uses an example of a reserve that required food to be flown in all but 6 weeks of the year. The government subsidies went towards the transportation of food. The few small stores that were there were the only ones benefitting from the subsidies as the people relied on these few stores for the crappy over-processed food they could access. Because of this, the diabetes and obesity rates on the reserve were astounding. Ironically, the name of the reserve is Garden Hill. Someone had an idea though. They applied for a Canadian Feed the Children grant and were able to establish a farm associated with their school. Each class was responsible for specific garden plots and had gardening and farming added to their curriculum. What they were able to produce, they opened a farm market for and were able to sell at a much more reasonable price – more fresh fruits and vegetables at a cheaper price! The farm project continued to grow and encompass other parts of their community, such as the canteen at the local arena! The changes didn’t happen overnight. It takes time to grow food from seeds. It takes time for gardens to produce enough to sell. It takes time to change our eating habits and reverse the affects of diabetes on our bodies.
I feel like this is the sort of thing happening in our passage this morning, “Come and See”.
We did this without government support. Come and See.
Come and See. We accomplished what other people thought impossible or unachievable. Come and See.
Have you ever felt like the system that is supposed to support you is actually holding you back? Like the support you need isn’t offered by the place that is supposed to offer it? Or what they are able to offer just isn’t realistic?
Now I’m not really a rule breaker. I like rules and standards and guidelines, until someone is left out. Here’s a great example. I was 26 when I was diagnosed with a learning disability. How does one get to be 26 and working on their second degree before they find out they have a learning disability? It’s easy. You fall through the cracks. You grow up in a rural area that is understaffed by psychologists and has a large population with low literacy skills. You have a genetic learning disability in a school environment where you are related to most of the other students with severe learning issues, but you develop coping mechanisms to deal with the educational system so you still do well in school. You grow up in a time when females are conditioned to be “good girls” who have to work hard to succeed. So you think it’s just a fact of life that you seem to have to work harder than everyone else. So you settle for being average in your first degree, and manage to talk your way into your second. You finally get a job that has a medical plan that covers the psycho-educational assessment report that the universities have been asking you for and that everyone requires before they can help you. You max out your credit card to get the report and work for months to clear it off because the health plan only covers $500 and the report cost $1500. But you finally get this paperwork. Now you have access to government grants and funding, but nothing pays for that initial $1500 once you graduate high school. My high school teachers were shocked. I hadn’t even been considered for the possibility of having a learning disability. I’m sure many of you can tell the same sort of story about trying to access a doctor or psychologist. Systems designed by people who don’t have to exist in them rarely work. Did you know that most government forms are a level 4 reading level? That means that your reading ability and comprehension has to be at a university level. And when I say government forms, I mean all government forms including forms for disability and learning grants, public assistance grants such as the heating rebate. The heating rebate people. This money and these services are only able to be accessed by people who could easily be working on a university degree. Income Assistance forms are a level 4. Income Assistance!!!
But here’s the beautiful thing. Our reading today, is just one more example of how the church is called to step up and fill in the gap. “Can anything good come from Nazareth? Come and See what he has done.” The question is a derogatory question. We hear it all the time. What does the Maritimes have to offer? Well, we have a lot if you can see past what we are lacking. Jesus could see past what was lacking in Nathanael and Phillip, even when they couldn’t see past the fact that he came from Nazareth. As individuals we can see lots of things that we’d fix in society. As the church, we can work together to rectify some of those situations. Foodbanks, homeless shelters, universal health care, the education system…so many social gaps have been originally filled by the church, to be passed on once they are become successful. What is the larger church currently doing to fill the gap? What is our church doing to fill the gap?
We can sit around and wait for someone to come and fix our problems and society’s problems, or we can find a way to fix them ourselves. We can say to our friends and family, Come & See what we are doing. Good things can come from church. Come & See.
This is our first Sunday in 2018. As a congregation, let’s make a new year’s resolution. Let’s commit to being solutions focused this year. Let’s commit to looking past the road blocks and into the bright future. Let’s commit to solving the road blocks or finding a way around them when we come across them. Let’s commit to looking forward to being able to say “Come & See”. Amen.

Hymn A Light Is Gleaming VU 82

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation

Every day is a day for thanksgiving, there are so many wonderful things we are able to do because we choose to worship together. Your offerings today are a sign of gratitude for these people gathered and for the community we create together.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

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

Prayer Music Lord, Listen to Children Praying VU 400

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

Commissioning & Benediction

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