September 18, 2016

A note: I switched around the lectionary Psalm for Oct. 2 to today because I felt it fit my theme better.

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

A couple of different renditions of “By The Rivers of Babylon”

Working Preacher:

A Plain Account
Blooming Cactus
Old Testament Lectionary (from from the Uniting Church in Australia)
Mental Health Care & The Church (from the North Carolina Council of Churches)


The Babylonian Shitstem (by the good folks at The Hardest Question)
Who’s Who in the Bible?
Feasting on the Word
Jerome Bible Commentary (my version is A LOT older! lol it was a gift from a special minister, who happened to have inherited it from his mentor)

Worship Outline (which we rearranged mid-worship, we had two baptisms!)

St. Luke’s United Church

September 18th, 2016

Hymn                     All Things Bright and Beautiful                          VU 291     Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle
Hymn                     Like a Healing Stream                                         MV 144
Call to Worship
One: Worship is often a time to celebrate all that is good and right in the world. Worship is also a time to ignite our Holy Anger.  Sometimes worship is a time of lament or confession.
All: In worship, we acknowledge our feelings and seek grace and compassion from each other when needed or joy and inspirational passion to energize us.
One: Worship is a time of personal transformation and community building.
All:  By willingly listening to each other and sharing honestly, the Holy Spirit fills this space.
One: And so we worship.
All: Let us worship.

Opening Prayer
May this time of worship be filled with both joy and lament.  May we be filled with tender moments of the Sacred and renewed with the excitement of what can be when we trust in the Spirit. Amen.             

(Adapted from A Song of Faith and Celebrate God’s Presence)
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 persons
for initiation into the body of Christ through baptism:
Oliver Samuel Houghton
Evan Conrad

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 Oliver/Evan
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.

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.

Oliver Samuel Houghton/Evan Conrad, 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

May the blessing of Love
be with you today and always.

Oliver/Evan, I mark you with the cross,
a sign of Love Incarnate.

Laying On of Hands
Oliver/Evan, may the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
guide you, inspire you, and work within you,
all the days of your life.

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

Biblical Polysporin

Readings: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
Music Ministry: By the Rivers of Babylon (Psalm 137)

Band-Aid Solutions

Intro Paragraph: Why I like Jeremiah

I can’t help myself.  I like Jeremiah.  Some of his words, not all of them, but some of them, speak to me. The story itself, in the grand scheme of things is a story of resilience.  And I do love a good underdog story.

Jeremiah backstory


So who was this “Jeremiah”?  Jeremiah was a young prophet between 627 to 597 before common era.  As a prophet Jeremiah was compelled to speak God’s truth to the people around him.  Unfortunately for Jeremiah, this meant telling the people – his friends – his family – that they were misbehaving.  Obviously, this did not make him very popular.  To make matters worse, Jeremiah was a visual person.  He loved to use metaphors or visual aids to drive home his point.  Sometimes when people come to sudden realizations, they become angry as a way to save face.  They were angry at Jeremiah a lot.

History up until this point in the book

Speeches for the people

Jeremiah has reluctantly understood his.  He is to go out and explain to the people that they have been going about worshipping God all wrong.  Some of this first section of the book is Jeremiah’s internal dialogue, or at least where he’s raging to himself or maybe it’s a frustrated conversational prayer and some of it is the words he says to the people, the message he delivers for God.

Jeremiah started out walking around town, shouting his message.  But people ignored him, made fun of him or reported him to the authorities.  His message just wasn’t making the impact he wanted.  So he moves to the temple gate, to shout from there.  And that’s where we find him: standing on the front steps of “the church” saying “you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong!!” and then crying to himself because the people still won’t listen.

The message he was implying

In what seems to be a manic state, Jeremiah who is filled with internal torment over if he should or if he shouldn’t deliver the unpopular message that if they don’t change their ways, the Temple itself will fall down around them.

Relying on the institution of worship Instead of the action of God

The people felt that because the Temple was in their town, and because they went to it, they would be safe.  Jeremiah was telling them that they needed to pay more attention to the laws which Moses had given them: Love God and Love People.  Jeremiah went to far as to point out which laws specifically they were ignoring – they weren’t being fair or honest with each other, they were taking advantage of the Come From Aways, they were killing innocent people, and placing importance over things rather than the acts of God.

Lament for the people who are relying on the temple instead of God

The particular section of Jeremiah that we just heard is one of lament.  Jeremiah is heart-broken that the people have not heard his message.  They are continuously being held captive and they have been so focused on God “rescuing” them from this awful war and asking God to do that, that they haven’t even seen the evidence of God around them.  They are so focused on what they think God looks like, that they cannot even fathom this simple solution that Jeremiah offers them. I guess they were expecting a man with a cape and an eye mask rather than a manic man shouting instructions and warnings from the temple gate.  Luckily Jeremiah did learn a different way to communicate his wisdom to the people, but they never really did understand him until much later.

The context for the people

This was quite an uncertain time for the Hebrew people.  They were caught between two waring kings, and many found themselves scooped up and exiled to Babylon as a way of enforcing loyalty.  Jeremiah couldn’t understand why they thought that simply going to the temple or have particular idols or offerings would save them from being exiled.  As an aside, I’d like to point out that there is absolutely nothing new about Middle Eastern conflict surrounding the occupation of Israel.

Balm of Gilead

All of this brings us to Jeremiah’s rhetorical question. “If medicine and doctors may be found in Gilead, why aren’t my people healed?”  No balm – polysporin or that of Gilead can heal an emotional wound.  Jeremiah feels like he might never stop crying.

Psalm 137 connection

The time frame connection: Babylonian Exile

Psalm 137, which we will hear an interpretation of later, is attributed to Jeremiah.  Despite what the popular Boney M would have you think, it’s not an uplifting song.  It’s a song of struggle.  It’s a song by the bullied.  It’s a song of revenge.  The last few verses censored in many churches.  I’ll let you look it up on your own. I chose to include it today because it is also about lament.  With both passages I can picture Jeremiah, with tears streaming down his face, filled with compassion for his sisters and brothers.

Healing tears

Feeling sorry for yourself

I’ll admit, I’m a crier.  I cry when I’m sad, angry, frustrated or happy and always when I’m feeling compassionate.  Basically, whenever words can’t express what I’m feeling.  Sometimes nothing feels better than a good cry.

Will tears fix anything?

Crying though doesn’t fix anything, other than to let the person I happen to be with that I’m at a loss for words.  In most of those situations though, words can’t fix anything either.  But if the tears can get me to a place where I can take a next step, then they are a necessary part of the process.  The same is true about lamentation in general.  It is a necessary part of the grief process, but dwelling there too long is not going to change anything.

Idols & band aid solutions

What was the real problem here?

Crying or lamenting is what’s called a “Band-Aid solution”. A solution that stops the bleeding but does not heal the wound, a quick fix, a superficial action, or something that draws attention away from the real problem.

What are idols?

The idols that Jeremiah was complaining about were a band-aid solution, as was the temple itself.  When the Hebrew people were looking for protection from being exiled, they convinced themselves that going to Temple would keep them safe, when they hadn’t done any of the work of building relationships with other – new – people.  When it became obvious that the temple wasn’t keeping them safe, they stuck idols in there.  I’m not sure what they were, but they were probably pleasing to the eye.  They offered sacrifices to the idols to make them happy.  Now surely they’d be safe!  Even Jeremiah fell victim to the Band-Aid solution with the Psalm.  Revenge wasn’t going to change what happened.  Making the captors feel what he felt wouldn’t change the fact that the Hebrew people had been exiled.  It didn’t even keep people from being exiled in the future.

The real solution

What is resilience?

The real solution for the Hebrew people and so it would seem in many situations is resilience.  The ability to get up, and start again, no matter how many times you get knocked down.  Not necessarily starting again on the exact same path – that would be insanity, but with the ultimate goal in sight.

Hope’s Role

There are many theories on how to grow resilience.  I don’t know how many of them are valid.  What I do know, is that hope plays a large role.  If I can still see that goal, if it seems even the tiniest bit closer, even if I can see that there might be another path that could potentially lead to the goal, I’ll get up and give it another try.

Where are you in this story?

Where are you in this whole story?  What are you lamenting? Are you being held captive, unable to see the God opportunities in front of you?  Are you waiting for any super heros? Can you see even the faintest glimmer of hope?

Hymn                     There Is a Balm in Gilead                                    VU 612

Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
We give from a place deep within our hearts.  A gift from the heart is always a most welcome gift.
Offertory  Called by Earth and Sky                   MV 135 (refrain, v2, refrain)
Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR inspire movement of the Spirit or become a balm for someone in need.  Amen.

Prayer Music:       Take, O Take Me as I Am                                    MV 85
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  Spirit God, Be Our Breath                                  MV 150  v2

September 11, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:

The Liturgical Colour Orange and Ember Days
The Text This Week
Rex Hunt Liturgies
“The Hippy-Dippy” video also known as “Welcome Home”

St. Luke’s United Church
September 11th, 2016
Hymn     I Have Called You by Your Name                                       MV 161

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle
Hymn  A Woman and a Coin – The Coin is Lost                             VU 360

 Call to Worship
One: Draw the circle wide.
All: Draw it wider still.
One: Make more room to include everyone –
All:  and everything.
One: In this season of Creation, we gather to celebrate diversity!
All: May we grow as a community in this time of worship together.

Creative Sparks: Prodigal Daughter

Opening Prayer
We pray that this may be a time of recognition:
Of the Holy that surrounds us,
Of the Sacred that rests within us,
Of the Covenant between us,
Of the Spirit-filled home we build together.

Music Ministry: “Home” (Phillip Phillips) Sung by David Murray

The Hunt

Readings: Luke 15:1-32
The Wombat (All Is One)

Welcome back.
Welcome back from a summer of revolving doors, of car doors and of outdoors.
Welcome back from a summer of humidity, of homogeny, and for many of us, of majority.
Welcome back from a summer of rest or busyness, loud concerts or stillness,

From camp sites and bug bites, late nights and patio lights.
From sunshine and construction signs, campfires and all-season tires.
From fire bans and sun tans, flip flops and tank tops.

Welcome back.
Welcome back from a summer of farm stands, of hand stands and of beach sands.
Welcome back from a summer of ice creams, of sweet dreams and of “Finding Dorey” memes.
Welcome back from a summer of pokemon or free play, rat races or relay.

From the MacDonald Bridge’s “Big Lift” and gender fluidity with Jaden Smith.
From the “Tragically Hip” epic final and the mail strike threats that became quite banal.
From the Fort MacMurray Evacuation, Sohpie Trudeau’s need for a vacation and fundraisers that crossed this nation.

Welcome back.
Welcome back from a summer of Trump fascism of trying to understand heterosexism.
Welcome back from a summer of intense Pride and of trying to deny each other a free ride.
Welcome back from a summer of the blacklivesmatter protest, of civil unrest, to France dictating how certain women dress!

From undeserved corporate raises, from unwanted and leering gazes,
From social crisis, from rising prices,
From so much change that we can’t keep up, so we drink up instead of speaking up.

Welcome back.
Welcome back.
Welcome back.

All you who are weary welcome back.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Welcome Back
So are the “Sweat Hogs”, Julie Chen, and the rest of us who are happy to see each other again.
Welcome back.

Back to church, back to work, back to school.
Back to keeping your nose clean and playing by the rules.
Back to the news, back to the mall, back to protests.
Back to standing up for what you believe in, but I digress.
Welcome back.

Welcome back to the prodigal daughters and sons.
Welcome back to understanding that means anyone.
Welcome back to change and to lack there of.
Welcome back.

To compromise, to challenge, to making a difference.
To trying my best to be a good witness.
To working to understand each other.
To confusion, to clarity, to new topics that we might cover.

Welcome back.
Welcome back.

To working for the good of the whole.
To understanding that each person plays a role.
To realizing you can’t do it alone,
It takes a lot of people to build a spiritual home.
Welcome back.

I don’t care why you came.
I just hope you won’t leave the same.
Parent or child, shepherd or sheep, coin or the seeker
The message can’t get much clearer:
Welcome back home.

Hymn MV 174

Minute for  Freedom Renwal Centre

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Sometimes, like the Prodigal Family, we get so wrapped up in power and money, that we forget that our relationships are the most important thing.  Whatever you choose to offer today, and every day, offer it with Love, remembering that the relationships are the most important part.


Offertory  Called by Earth and Sky                   MV 135 (refrain, v1, refrain)

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be symbolic of the Love that rests within the community of St. Luke’s.  Amen.

Prayer Music:       Take, O Take Me as I Am                                    MV 85

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  Spirit God, Be Our Breath                                  MV 150  v1

July 10 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:




The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Gospel Parallels

The Good Samaritan

Lectionary Studies


Worship Outline:

Hymn: Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love VU 593
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn: We Are Pilgrims VU 595
Call to Worship
One: Welcome! Welcome to a place where each of us are different.
All: In the United Church of Canada, we value diversity.
One: Welcome to a place where diversity of thought is respected and encouraged.
All: In the United Church of Canada, we challenge each other and ourselves to examine empire and the hierarchy it upholds.
One: It’s a work in progress, but we are committed.
All: We are committed to welcoming all, in our worship and in our faith community.

Opening Prayer
May this be a time of self-reflection and discernment. May the Holy Spirit fill this place. May we be moved by the Holy Spirit and our own reflections to act with Love. Amen.

Hymn: This Is My Commandment Joyful Noise 131

Who is your neighbour?
Readings: Luke 10:25-37
Hymn: Christ Has No Body Now but Yours MV 171

People in Your Neighbourhood

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
We give because we can. We know that our abundance can affect the lives of others.


Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR, as well as our gifts of time and talent become agents of change in the lives of others. May they be used for the good of the whole. Amen.

Prayer Music: Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands MV 173 v 5

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing: Like A Rock MV 92


The Good Samaritan
In two week’s time, we’re hosting a Vacation Bible School. Our theme “Who is My Neighbour?” is based on the story of The Good Samaritan and getting to know the different people around us. I’m looking forward to this, and have been prepping some art work to tell the story to the kids. So when it was time to work on worship this week, I was pleased to discover the story was The Good Samaritan. So let’s dig in and do a little reflecting on this story that inspires so many people.
Who are the characters?
We’re going to start with the people involved.

The Lawyer
The first part of this passage isn’t part of the actual Good Samaritan story. It’s more of an introduction. The funny part is that this introduction bit is in both Matthew and Mark as well, but the story that follows it is only in Luke. But this introduction is almost as much of a lesson as the story that follows it. The Lawyer is obviously an educated person. Even with all this education though, the Lawyer is still having difficulty understanding what to do. The Lawyer even quotes the teaching from the ancient scriptures back to Jesus word for word, but still doesn’t understand how to use them. The Lawyer questions Jesus further and Jesus replies with the Good Samaritan. In the Matthew and Mark versions of the story, Jesus responds back with questions which go unanswered. While the interpretation of the story is left up to us, in this version from Luke, the questions are answered and a commissioning is given: “Go and do likewise.”

The Person
We don’t know much about the person who is injured in the story of the Good Samaritan other than the person is travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. It wouldn’t have been an easy trek, and obviously the person had more wealth than the robbers – or so the robbers thought. The Person was travelling alone, so it was most likely a man, as very few women would have made that kind of journey alone. From what I’ve read about it many women in this day and age wouldn’t make the journey alone, but more about the road a little later. We can assume the person in this story is a Hebrew person, as Jesus was telling this story to a group of Hebrew people. When you are in a larger group of people, it is assumed that all people in the story are in the majority of the listening audience unless explicitly stated.

The Robbers
The robbers are also somewhat anonymous in this story. We know there was more than one of them. We know that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was and still is a haven for robbers looking to pounce on a trapped target, so we know the robbers were looking for an easy target.

The Priest
The Priest in the Hebrew community was someone from the tribe of Aaron. He would have had specific duties in the temple and would have been wearing specific type of garment. The Priestly people would have placed a heavy influence on the rites of worship. At that time, the priest would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way.

The Levite
Similarly the Levite would have been someone from the tribe of Levi. People from the tribe of Levi also dressed a particular way, and firmly believed in a lack of material possessions. As with the Priestly tradition, the Levite traditional would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way.

The Samaritan
A Samaritan is another branch of Hebrew faith. It means “Keepers of the Law”. The Samaritan would have dressed according the traditions of the Samaritan faith, and would have believed that their ways of practicing the Hebrew faith were the right way. We know the Samaritan was wealthy enough to have an animal accompany him, enough money to stay in an inn, and enough money to leave some with the Inn Keeper to look after the person.
All three people while Hebrew, would have had issues with each other’s faith practices, in a similar way to Unitarians, Catholics and Pentecosts. Just three very different ways of practicing. Fortunately for us, as religions and faith traditions have evolved, we’ve increased our understanding and respect for the different ways people choose to practice their faith.

The Inn Keeper
The Inn Keeper gets a relatively small role, which I think is somewhat of a disservice. The Inn Keeper was the one who offered a safe place for at least two of our travelers to stay. The Inn Keeper went above and beyond, at least in today’s day and age, to offer this safe haven to those who needed it most.

The Neighbour
While the lawyer gave Jesus a somewhat ambiguous answer: “the one who showed compassion.” It’s often assumed that the one who showed compassion was the Samaritan, I think the Inn Keeper deserves a nod of recognition too.
The title of neighbor goes both ways. One can be helped and one can do the helping. It’s in this cyclical action of helping and being helped that we begin working towards The Good of The Whole.
What is the setting?

The People
It’s a somewhat homogeneous setting, all of the people seem to be from the same geographic area and although they are from different faith traditions, all the faith traditions stem from the same root. The traveler, the Priest, the Levitite and the Samaritan all seem to be headed to Jericho from Jerusalem.

The Place
The Road From Jerusalem to Jericho is well known to all of those involved, except for perhaps the traveler. When I looked up information about this road, I found out that it was rocky and uneven, narrow and meandering along the edge of the mountain. It dangerous, not just because of the narrowness along the cliff, but because of the rocks and corners for robbers to hide in, making a person on the path quite vulnerable. Apparently it was even called the “Way of Blood” in reference to just how dangerous the journey would have been.

How does this relate to our current setting?
The beauty of the teachings of Jesus is the timelessness of his main message. If everyone treated each other the way they wished to be treated, it would be a very different world. Our current context seems to offer us very similar opportunities, only this time society becomes the robbers on the difficult and dangerous path that is life. Who do you see travelling on this dangerous path? How has our church become the compassionate one? Are there people we aren’t noticing? Are there people that we make a conscious decision to avoid or maybe make excuses to avoid? It’s so easy to do…oh I don’t have the time…I don’t have the money…I’m not whatever enough. There are more excuses than there are people to help. The trick is not taking the easy road. May we always look for ways to help on the hard road.

July 31st, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Peace Mala
Golden Rule Poster
Jane McGonigal TED Talk
Press Play TED Radio Hour
Charter for Compassion
The Work of the People – I’m Sorry
The Good Samaritan
A Song of Faith

Worship Outline:

Hymn               Love Devine, All Loves Excelling                VU 333                   Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle
Hymn     Spirit, open My Heart                                         MV 79

 Call to Worship
One: As we sing and as we pray,
All: Spirit, open our hearts.
One: As we speak and as we listen,
All:  Spirit, open our hearts.
One: As we reflect and as we transform,
All: Spirit, open our hearts.

Opening Prayer
We pray that love, grace and compassion fill us, as we work to listen, to feel, to understand what we might never have considered before.  May the truth be spoken with Love, may the words be heard with Compassion, may transformation come with Grace.  Holy Spirit, fill us, flood this place. Amen.

Hymn        Blessed Be the Tie That Binds                           VU 602

VBS Summary

Song: Love, Love, Love One Another

Compassion Video
Litany: Compassion: a litany evolving from Story & Faith
Words adapted from Luke 10:25-37 and A Song of Faith
One:  Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
All: 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.
One:  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. Made in the image of God,
we yearn for the fulfillment that is life in God.
All:  “If you do this, you will live.”  If we do this, we will live.
One: Becoming bound and complacent in a web of false desires and wrong choices, we bring harm to ourselves and others.
All: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.

All: This brokenness in human life and community is an outcome of sin. Sin is not only personal but accumulates to become habitual and systemic forms of injustice, violence, and hatred.
One: Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
All: So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
One: We are all touched by this brokenness:
the rise of selfish individualism that erodes human solidarity;
the concentration of wealth and power without regard for the needs of all;

One:  the toxins of religious and ethnic bigotry;
the degradation of the blessedness of human bodies and human passions through sexual exploitation;
All:  the delusion of unchecked progress and limitless growth that threatens our home, the earth;
One: the covert despair that lulls many into numb complicity with empires and systems of domination.
All:  We sing lament and repentance.
One: Because along came a Samaritan.
All: When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
One: Yet evil does not—cannot—
undermine or overcome the love of God.
All:  God transforms, and calls us to protect the vulnerable, to pray for deliverance from evil, to work with God for the healing of the world, that all might have abundant life.
We sing of grace.
One: The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
All:  The fullness of life includes moments of unexpected inspiration and courage lived out,
experiences of beauty, truth, and goodness, blessings of seeds and harvest, friendship and family,
One: intellect and sexuality, the reconciliation of persons through justice and communities living in righteousness, and the articulation of meaning.
All: Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
One: “The one who showed him mercy.”
All:  And so we sing of God the Spirit, who from the beginning has swept over the face of creation, animating all energy and matter and moving in the human heart.
One: “Go and do likewise.”

I’m Sorry Video

Minute for Mission
There are many ways to offer compassion to others.  I invite you to prayerfully consider how St. Luke’s can offer compassion to others.

Offering Invitation
There are many ways to offer compassion to others.  I invite you to prayerfully consider how St. Luke’s can offer compassion to others.


Offertory  When Hands Reach Out and Fingers Trace                  MV 136

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and all of our time and talents become compassionate acts of Love. Amen.

Prayer Music:       In Loving Partnership We Come                       VU 603

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  Wherever You May Go                                       MV 216

July 24th, 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Text This Week
Honest Prayer, Part 1
Spong on Prayer (
Did Jesus Teach Us to Pray the Lord’s Prayer? 
Rex Hunt Liturgies
Prayer of the Cosmic Christ (available on iTunes and Cd Baby)

Yeah, I was a little Spong heavy this week, but I like what the guy has to say.

I didn’t have a sermon this week, instead there was a three person panel interview.  I’ve included my responses (as best as I can remember them).

Worship Outline:
Hymn                     Open My Eyes                                      VU 371

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn                     Dance With The Spirit                         MV 156
 Call to Worship
One: Come, join me in prayer.
All: We’ve come to worship.
One: Our worship is prayer.
All:  Our singing is prayer.
One: Our reflection is prayer.
All: Our listening is prayer.
One: Our acceptance is prayer.
All:  Our action is prayer.
One: Our lives are prayers, both asked and answered.  Come, join the prayer.

Opening Prayer
Source of unending Love,
May this be a time where words and actions come together to form a prayer more beautiful and powerful than we can possibly imagine. Amen.

Hymn                       Seek Ye First                         VU  356
A Handful of Prayer
Readings: Luke 11: 1-13
Prayer of the Cosmic Christ                                               rEvolve
Prayer Stories

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
There are many ways to pray.  One way is how you choose to spend your money.  I invite you to prayerfully consider your offering to St. Luke’s and the prayers that your offering can answer.


Offertory               It’s A Song of Praise                                            MV 30

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and all of our time and talents become the answer to many prayers. Amen.

Prayer Music:                       And When You Call for Me                MV 96

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 We but Wait                                MV 175

Interview Questions with my responses:

1. What is your first memory of praying? (who taught you to pray?)
I don’t remember when I learned how to pray, but my baby book says that I had both “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Now I Lay Me” memorized at three years old.
2. How has your prayer life changed over the years?  (who has influenced your prayer life?)
Spong, the speaker in the video earlier, has probably influenced my prayer life most.  I was introduced to him in theology school.  The idea of prayer being a transformation and something concrete, felt better to me than simply paying lip-service and doing nothing to change the problem.  Yoga also changed my prayer life.  Facing my ego each time I step onto my mat is like a prayer of confession for me.
3. Who do you pray to and why? (Who is paying attention to your prayers?)
I don’t believe that God is like Santa, I don’t pray to God.  I pray to a deep sense of compassion in people.  I pray to myself, and I pray to you.  My ultimate goal when I pray isn’t necessarily that our prayers be answered, but that we become the answers to someone else’s prayer.
4.  If you could define “prayer” what would your definition be? (What is the difference between praying and hoping?)
Prayer is the opportunity for transformation.
Prayer is the opportunity to reflect on the self and discover a hidden call.
Prayer is the opportunity to hear the concerns of others and the opportunity to offer miracles.
5. What is your preferred way to pray? (how do you make time to pray?)
Since I don’t believe that God hears and answers each of my prayers, my preferred way to pray is through deep conversation, compassionate action and yoga.
6. Could you pray with us?
I led a few Sun Breaths.

July 17, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Rex Hunt
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.


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


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.


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
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.
Hymn  Praise Our Maker                       VU 316
The Word:  1 Kings 17:8-16
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.
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


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.