November 26, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Holy Tales – Exile to Babylon* Kid friendly one

Old Testament in 8 minutes

Working Preacher

Katy and the Word

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 How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place MV 29

Call to Worship One: Today we celebrate the Reign of Christ All: We celebreate the possibilities of what that might look like. One: We celebrate the dreams and understandings of the past. All: We recognize that domination is not our goal. One: We celebrate the Present. All: We understand there is still work to be done. One: We look forward to the future All: We realize that what we dream, will not be our children’s dream, but we respect their journey.

Opening Prayer “God accept our prayers,
Send us tears in return.
Give freedom to this exchange.
Let us pray inwardly.
Let us weep outwardly.
This is the breathing of the soul.
This is the vitality of the Spirit.
For this we give thanks.

Amen!” M Leunig

Hymn Christ Within Us Hidden MV 162

Theme Conversation

Readings Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon

I was going to skip this passage. I didn’t like it. It seemed too heady and I didn’t want to spend the extra time to wrap my head around, nor did I really have the extra time. But I thought, I’ll give it one last shot, and I read a commentary, that’s another theologians published thoughts, purely on the scripture reading. Suddenly – enlightenment! And the more reading I did, the more I realized that understanding this particular passage is crucial to understanding the next four. Yep, all of the advent passages.
This is a letter that Jeremiah wrote to his fellow Hebrew people who after tasting a bit of freedom, were once again being held captive or exiled in Babylon. They were feeling like they couldn’t go on. So Jeremiah wrote them the letter of encouragement. Many of the Hebrew people had been living in Judah, but under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were being held captive in Babylon the territory, which he ruled that defeated Judah and took in much of what we call the Middle East. Many of the Hebrew people had been separated and taken to other cities. Jeremiah was telling them that they needed to make the most of a bad situation. They needed to settle into their new cities, build houses, marry and have families. They needed to live the best lives they could regardless of their location. Working for The Good of the Whole is not dependent on a location. Let me say it again: The Word of God, loyalty to God, the building of the kindom, the Good of the Whole, heaven, or whatever you want to call it, is not dependent on your physical location. It is not dependent on where you live, where you worship or where you spend your leisure time.
So just to give you a little more context: picture being told you’ve got 5 mins to pack, you don’t know where you are going, but you know you are no longer allowed to live where you’ve always lived. You don’t even know if you will ever see your friends or family again. All because you aren’t in power, you aren’t part of the majority. It wasn’t the first time this exiling, this expulsion had happened in the history of humanity – we’ve been hearing about it all fall. And it wasn’t the last. In fact, in some places it’s still happening. We just happen to be lucky enough to be in Canada. In many ways, these words from Jeremiah aren’t for us. They are for the people being persecuted, and really many in Canada don’t experience huge amounts of life threatening persecution. But there’s still a lot of wisdom here even for those of us in the comfortable majority. I mean, if you can survive captivity and exile, you can survive anything. And how do you survive anything? By being resilient.
Canadian writer, Deborah Ellis, tells a story of resilience that brought me to tears multiple times. Deborah tells the story of preteen girl in Afghanistan. Deborah researched her story (that turned into a trilogy) by talking to preteens and young teens in Afghanistan, hearing their stories and understanding them. The stories inspired The Breadwinner Trilogy. Parvana is a young girl in Afghanistan. Her mother is an educated woman, trained to be a teacher, and her father is a teacher and leader is the resistance movement against the Taliban rule. Under the Taliban rules, Parvana’s mother and older sister must wear burqas and be accompanied by a male when they leave the house. When Parvana’s father is taken away to be questioned by the Taliban and doesn’t return for days, it is up to 11 year old Parvana to keep the family from starving to death or dying from dehydration. Since her mother and her sister aren’t allowed outside without a male relative, Parvana cuts her hair and dresses in her deceased brother’s clothes to go to the well and to the market. Not only is Parvana responsible for buying the family’s food, but also earning the money to buy the food. Parvana enjoys this small bit of freedom she has that her mother, sister and so many others do not. Parvana makes a few friends at the market: another young girl doing the same thing for her family and a woman she can seeing peering through a small scratch in the painted window of her home. None of the homes in Kabul had unpainted windows it was simply too dangerous after dark. After some time, Parvana’s mother comes to the conclusion that Parvana’s father is never coming back. So she makes the decision that they need to leave now for a refugee camp before it becomes obvious that Parvana is not a boy. Parvana must leave the “freedom” of the market place. Let me read to you an excerpt from The Breadwinner.
Parvana wanted to jump up and down and dance. She wanted to yell and wave at the painted window. Instead she sat quietly and tried to think of a way to say goodbye.
She was almost home that afternoon when she thought of a way.
Heading back to the market after lunch, she carefully dug up some wildflowers that were growing among the bombed-out ruins. She had seen them growing there in other years, and hoped she was right in thinking they were the kind that grew year after year. If she planted the flowers in the spot where she usually put her blanket, the Window Woman would know she wasn’t coming back. The flowers would be something pretty to look at. She hoped they would make a good present.
In her spot in the market, Parvana dug up the hard soil first by pounding into it with her ankle. She used her hands, too, as well as a rock she found nearby.
The men and boys in the market gathered around to watch her. Anything different was entertainment.
“Those flowers won’t grow in that soil,” someone said. “There are no nutrients in it.”
“Even if they grow, they will be trampled.”
“The marketplace is no spot for flowers. Why are you planting them there?”
Through the voices of derision came another voice. “Do none of you appreciate nature? This boy has undertaken to bring a bit of beauty into our gray marketplace, and do you thank him? Do you help him?” An old man pushed his way to the front of the little gathering. With difficulty, he knelt down to help Parvana plant the flowers. “Afghans love beautiful things,” he said, “but we have seen so much ugliness, we sometimes forget how wonderful a thing like a flower is.”
He asked one of the tea boys hovering nearby for some water from the tea shop. It was fetched, and he poured it around the flowers, soaking the earth around them.
The plants had wilted. They didn’t stand up properly.
“Are they dead?” Parvana asked.
“No, no, not dead. They may look scraggly and dying now,” he said, “but the roots are good. When the time is right, these roots will support plants that are healthy and strong.” He gave the earth a final pat, and Parvana and one of the others helped him up. He smiled once more at Parvana, then walked away.
This is just one of many acts of resilience that Parvana carries out. Just one at the beginning of the first book in a trilogy.
Have you ever had to be resilient? Maybe you haven’t had to leave your home like the Hebrew people or Parvana, but have you ever had to make the most of a not so great situation? How are we as a St. Luke’s family being called to be resilient?
Confession time here. It really bothers me when people give up on something that is important to them just because they’ve come to a road block. No path in life worth travelling is easy. What happens when you get up in the dark to go to the washroom? On the way back, if you don’t have gentle light, you run into a wall. Do you keep trying to move forward without changing direction? Do you sit down on the floor because you can’t go in the direction you thought was right? Do you turn around and go back to spend the rest of the night in the bathroom? Do you feel around, and alter your course slightly? Do you continue to move slowly in a more or less forward direction occasionally stubbing your toe? Will you make it back to bed?
That’s resilience in a minimal way. We are built to be resilient people. We just need to keep the resilience running with a little hope. That was the intention of Jeremiah’s letter. He was giving them permission to enjoy the journey. Sometimes, the permission to enjoy yourself along the way is all the hope you need.
Next week we begin advent. We’ll hear from more of the exiled and captive prophets throughout our advent journey. Advent, although it can be somewhat hectic, overscheduled and way too commercialized, it’s still a great time to refill our hope stores. This year, instead of complaining my way through, I’m going to enjoy the journey. I’m going to take the time to look for hope in humanity and the environment around me. This year I’m giving myself permission to enjoy advent and not just get through until 11pm on Dec 24. I’m inviting you to do the same. Let’s refill our hope stores and start Jan 01 2018 together filled with hope and resilience.

Hymn Rejoice, the Lord Is King VU 213

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation As we work towards the Reign of Christ, let us remember that every gift counts.

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.

Communion Hymn Eat This Bread and Never Hunger VU 471

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.
(Liturgy adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence)
“As we come to this table,
we are reminded that this is not the table of this congregation; nor is it the table of The United Church of Canada, or any particular denomination. It is the table of Jesus Christ, the family feast of the whole people of God. All who seek to be nourished and sustained in the journey of faith
and long to live justly and in peace with their neighbour, are welcome here. Let us eat and drink together for our strengthening in the faith, and for the sake of the world.

“May God be with us.
God is here among us.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We open them to God and to one another.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is good to give thanks and praise.

“Eternal God, Maker of heaven and earth, we join with all your people to give you thanks and praise. You formed the universe in your wisdom and created all things by your grace. We praise you for all your good gifts: the witness of saints and prophets; the work of faithful women and men; this earth in all its blessing and promise; and this bread, once scattered, now brought together and made one. In the hope that your people may be brought together from the ends of the earth into your reign of justice and compassion, we gather with those of every time and every place
to give you praise and glory:

“Holy, holy, holy God,
Power of life and love!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna through the ages!
Blest is the One who comes to bring your justice to earth!

“We do what Jesus did the night before he died. He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat; remember me.”
Then he took the cup, and said,
“Take, drink; remember.”

“We remember Jesus’ integrity unto death.
We remember the hope of resurrection.
We remember the promise of compassion and justice.

“Praise be to God, the Source of love!
Praise be to Christ, Love incarnate!
Praise be to the Spirit, Love’s power!
Praise be to God!
Amen.

Let’s pray together 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.

The bread of tomorrow. The cup of new life.

“Gracious God,
may your gifts of love transform and enliven us that we may live lives of thanksgiving. May your presence among us provoke such longing for your realm, that we will never be satisfied until the whole earth knows your justice, your peace, and your love.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Commissioning & Benediction

November 19, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

http://www.cbc.ca/books/the-3-things-that-inspired-margaret-atwood-to-write-the-handmaid-s-tale-1.4203159

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/friday-may-5-2017-margaret-atwood-diana-krall-and-more-1.4097017/these-are-old-human-themes-margaret-atwood-on-the-enduring-power-of-the-handmaid-s-tale-1.4097042

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/q/segment/12507344

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/tapestry/episode/12823489

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/religion-utopia-or-dystopia-1.4143654

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zilpah

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 I am the light of the world SFGP 24 v2-4

Call to Worship One: This is the call to the people who walk in darkness All: This is the call to the people who walk in sadness, fear and loneliness. One: This is the call to the people who walk in darkness. All: This is the call to the people who walk in oppression, in anxiety, in depression. One: This is the call to all who wish to walk. All: You are welcome here.

Opening Prayer Today, O God, we pray that anyone who feels they are in darkness will feel your love today. May our words, images and music be the spark of light that someone needs to truly see the Great Light. Amen.

Hymn Jesus Bids Us Shine Joyful Noise 108

Theme Conversation Great Light

Readings from Rob Bell “What is the Bible?” pg 156-157
Isaiah 9:1-7
John 8:12
Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon What’s in a Name?
There is a common misconception out there that today’s passage is referring to Jesus. But that’s not the case. Isaiah is simply offering words of hope. I can see why it’s confusing though. Isaiah writes very cryptically about his visions and dreams. This particular vision is very hope filled. Isaiah is naming a bunch of towns and people who really aren’t having an easy time of things, and he’s telling them not to worry. They won’t always feel so beaten down. Eventually, if they just keep working at Love and Peace, those things that were once used to hurt them, will no longer be able to hurt them. If they just keep working toward the good of the whole, they will eventually see light in the darkest of places. If they just keep God’s love right in front of them, they’ll build a world where a baby will be born, and that baby will grow up in so much love, that the baby will lead with love. That Love will make all of those old tools of war shatter. This person will offer great wisdom that can only be learned by being loved through mistakes. This person will offer strength through knowing and being comfortable with their vulnerabilities. And we’ll offer our vulnerabilities because of the strength, wisdom and love. And because we feel loved, we’ll be protected in our vulnerabilities. This person will truly know what it means to be at peace with one’s self because of all of this and that will only encourage us more. Because more and more people are growing up in the realm of God, the community of God will continue to grow. And all this is possible because of the love of God is all powerful.
Last week in the Rob Bell book study, we talked about how Jesus read the Bible. This passage from Isaiah would have been among his sacred scriptures. Rob suggests that when Jesus read scripture, it was his intention to figure out how live that out. Rob suggests that everyone in the Hebrew faith tradition read scripture that way. So everyone would have been trying to understand how they could be this light to the world. Understanding how he, himself could live out each of the prophecies was the point of Jesus’ ministry. He conveyed that to people in a way they understood. In a way that they could see it happening in their own lives. Jesus understood that too. But he didn’t tell to do or be anything that he couldn’t or wouldn’t be. Jesus attracted people because they liked the peaceful way he lived. People wanted that wisdom, they wanted that strength, they felt protected and encouraged when they listened to him. To the people around him Jesus was a wonderful counselor, strength of God, eternal protector and champion of peace.
What are some of the names or labels you go by? What do these names or labels say about you? Are they names and labels you’ve chosen for yourself, or were they given to you by someone else? I think that it’s interesting that many of the labels in the Isaiah passage are labels often attributed to Jesus, but which of all of those labels does Jesus choose for himself? Not the wisest, not the most powerful, not the protector, nor the winner of peace. Jesus chooses to call himself simply “the light”.
When it comes to names, both given and chosen, I can think of no better example than Bob. Bob was born into a very Catholic family in the 70s. So not only does he have a saint name but he is also named after not only his uncle Robert, but the doctor as well. Bob’s full name is John Robert Bruce Pace. I don’t remember exactly how long we had been dating – it couldn’t have been very long, but the conversation was had via email – I’d received an email from his email address from John. I knew John was his first name, but he went by Bob. So why would he sign his email John? He explained that he’d sent the email on his lunch break and without even thinking about it signed it John. That still didn’t help me understand, so he told me that his family had always called him Bobby or Bob and when he went to university it was such a hassle to get the professors to call him Bobby that he just started responding to John. John stuck as his professional name. He said I could choose which ever name I wanted, he would respond to either. Well, I kind of liked him so I opted for the family and friends name. A few years later when we needed to make a decision about our family name, it was much harder. By this time we were each known professionally with our own names. Neither of us wanted to give up our last name, but adding the other’s name to our own didn’t feel right either. Bob was already dealing with a double identity without even adding my name and I have such a long name as it is that I wasn’t sure I wanted to add even four letters to it. In the end, we each decided to keep our own names and we’re happily the awkwardly named family. My point is you can only be who you are, you can’t living into a name or a label that doesn’t belong to you. I could try my best to call myself Dr. Sangster and refer to myself as a surgeon, but the truth is I can hardly get through the description of a simple procedure, let alone even see or be part of one without fainting. I will never be a surgeon.
This past summer, everyone was talking about “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Originally the novel was written by Margaret Atwood in 1985, was brought to television in a series of 1 hour long drama each week this summer. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, I’ve never read much Margaret Atwood other than some of her poetry, so I was intrigued. I didn’t really give it much consideration until I heard Margaret Atwood’s keynote address at the Restorying Canada Conference as rebroadcast with an additional interview on Tapestry. So I watched the series. I could probably rant about this story, current politics and Biblical overtones and parallels for longer than I care to admit, but what I want to talk about today are the labels and names. Spoiler alert: I hope I don’t ruin too much of the story for you. Offred is a handmaid in a totalitarianist United States. Offred wasn’t always her name and she wasn’t always a handmaid. Previous to the take over, Offred, whose name was June lived in New York where she worked for a publishing company and was lucky enough to be married to someone she loved deeply and was a mother. She was June, she was a mother, a wife, a best friend, a publisher’s assistant, a New Yorker and an American. Then almost overnight, June finds herself in a totally different situation. The United States is called the Republic of Gilead, June is no longer allowed to work or have a bank account – none of the women are. Once June and her husband fully understand what is going on they take their daughter in an attempt to flee to the safety of Canada, but they are caught. June’s daughter is given to an upper class family who can’t have children and June and her two good ovaries is sent to be a handmaid, that is to follow the tradition of Jacob, Leah, Racheal and their handmaids, if you catch my drift. June is sent to be the handmaid of a commanding officer, and so she becomes Offred. Of Fred. She is denied contact with anyone from her former life. In this story, labels and names signify so much. They signify dignity, respect, safety, value…humanity.
I was terrified when Dana told me “The Handmaid’s Tale” had been written in 1985. How can we be 32 years away from this and still be facing so many similar issues? The scariest part is Margaret Atwood pointed out, this is not the first time we heard this story. We’ve been hearing about it since the days of Zilpah and Bilhah (those are the names of Leah and Rachel’s handmaids) or if you want to go back even further to the days of Hagar and Abraham. Handmaids, being “given” to bear children. I’m not ok with this. In my opinion, a label should only be given to uplift someone. They should give a person something to aspire to. If you can’t say something that is helpful or encouraging, that is inspired wisdom, that makes a person stronger, that calms their heart, then what’s the point? Are you saying it, label or otherwise, to help the person or yourself?
Jesus tried his best to live his life in a way that benefitted not just himself, but the community around him. He tried to be a light in dark times to people who were feel hopeless. He did this to fulfill the ancient prophecies, the good ones, about living mutually and respectfully with each other. These are also dark times. This is not a new story. But there is always hope. Be it Isaiah, be it Jesus, or be it you. The sun sets every night to darkness, but it always rises again the next morning. Even on the ends of the earth, this is true.
So I invite you to join me on this journey. We will get up and leave from this place ready to work at Love and Peace. We will get hurt from time to time, but because we gather here each week to remind each other that we are working together at this, those things that were once used to hurt, will no longer hurt quite so much. If we just keep working toward the good of the whole, eventually we’ll see light in the darkest of places. Maybe if we keep God’s love right in front of us, we’ll build a world where a baby will be born, and that baby will grow up in so much love, that the baby will lead with love. That Love will make all of those old tools of war that currently hold us back, totally shatter.

Hymn Spirit God, Be Our Breath MV 150

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation There are a lot of big things happening this week. Today is Children’s Sunday, a Sunday often focused on remembering and understanding the spiritualit of children. It’s restorative justice week. Restorative Justice week is an opportunity to learn about the process of restorative justice and how beneficial it is for both parties. And tomorrow is Transgender Day of Rememberance, a day set aside to recognize and remember all of the transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been killed or targeted due to ignorance and hatred. Without the work we do together to educate, accept and love, many people would be without a spiritual home. With your continued help we can welcome even more people home.

Music Ministry

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 Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
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 & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

November 12, 2017 – After Pentecost

Guest Preacher this week!

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Take Time to Be Holy VU 672

Call to Worship “One: This is a time to be Holy.
All: We have gathered to celebrate God’s presence.
One: As we worship, we recognize where God has been in our lives this past week,
All: and we prepare ourselves to be God’s presence to others in the week to come.
One: Let us join our hearts in worship.

Opening Prayer “One: O God, who called all life into being,
All: the earth, sea and sky are yours.

One: Your presence is all around us,
All: every atom is full of your energy.

One: Your Spirit enlivens all who walk the earth,
All: with her we yearn for justice to be done,

One: For creation to be freed from bondage,
All: For the hungry to be fed,

One: For captives to be released,
All: For your kingdom of peace to come on earth.
Amen.          ( The Iona Community )

Hymn Dance with the Spirit MV 156

Theme Conversation

Readings Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon Guest Preacher – Ken MacIntosh

Hymn Today We are Called VU 507

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation Because of your generosity, we were able to secure 60 brand new chapter books through First Books Canada for teenagers to be given out in the Christmas Program at the St. Margaret’s Bay Foodbank. With your continued generosity, we can accomplish so much.

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 Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
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 & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

November 5, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Sound of Silence NASA

Last Post

Disturbed

Puddles Pity Party

 

Chant Listen for the Spirit The Good Book

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Call to Worship Today as we worship, hold the silence tenderly as listen for the still small voice of God.

Placing the Wreath
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.
Last Post
O Canada

Opening Prayer Spirit of gentleness, we gather today remembering the past and looking towards the future with hope. During the stormy times, may we remember the stillness and your gentle yet strong voice. Amen.

Music Ministry

Theme Conversation Elijah

Readings The Sound of Silence
1 Kings 19:1-13

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon The Still, Small Voice

We’ve jumped from Solomon’s Temple right into Elijah. After King Solomon’s death, there were a number of other Kings and Prophets, but by the time we get to Elijah, he’s the only prophet of God left. It is a time of famine for the Hebrew people. There’s not much food left to go around and many people, including Elijah, are depressed. Elijah goes down by the river, and while he is sleeping, ravens bring him food. This is fine for a while, but eventually the river dries up and the ravens stop bringing food. So Elijah moves along and finds a widow and her son. They have enough food left for one small loaf of bread. The Woman is preparing to make it the next day for her son and then they will die. Elijah manages to convince her to make it for him instead. The widow is skeptical, but figures death coming sooner would likely be better. They go to sleep and when they wake up, the jars are full again. Elijah stays with them for a short time, but leaves after saving the child’s life. Elijah believes that the people are experiencing this horrible famine because so many of them have been worshipping the God Baal. So Elijah builds an alter, digs a trench around it, fills the trench with seeds, the alter with a sacrifice and covers the whole thing with water. Fire rushes in and burns everything up. At this point, Elijah is public enemy number one, and runs to a cave and hides until he is called to feel the presence of God outside of the cave. After stepping out, Elijah experiences devastating wind, earthquake, and fire. Once the fire passed, all was silent. It was in the silence that Elijah heard the still, small voice of God.
We don’t know much about Elijah from the passage. A little earlier on we learned that Elijah was a Tishbite from Tishbe in Gilead. We know he worshipped Yahweh – his name means “The one who worships Yahweh”. From 1 Kings, we know Elijah was a fierce opponent of Baal, and often felt unloved and often asks God to take his life. We know the Elijah was a party to some unexplainable things: the ravens GIVING food, the meal and the oil refilling themselves, raising the boy from death, the craziness of the alter, and the major storm. Eventually Elijah isn’t the only prophet of Yahweh anymore, and he completes two more amazing things: he parts the waters and rides a chariot of fire up into the sky leaving behind his sacred mantle for his follower Elisha. As Christians we hear Elijah referred to a few more times, most notably during Jesus’ transfiguration, where Elijah and Moses appear together.
The Sound of Silence has always been intriguing to me. I firmly believe that we communicate in many ways. Some of us communicate more often without out words than with words. I remember arguing with my sister once and accusing her of not listening to my silence. I can put a lot of emotion into a two-second gap of silence, and I often leave silence intentionally in conversation if I’m trying to understand the feelings of someone else. Silence is something I often look forward to, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
When I lived on Quinpool Rd, I often went to Taize Prayer Services at St. John’s United Church. If you’ve never been to a Taize worship before, it’s really an experience. Taize originated in a monastery in Taize, France. All prayers and scripture are sung, mostly by the congregation, although sometimes there is a cantor or soloist and the congregation responds. Often there are only one or two pieces plus the scripture in English. St. John’s went all out to create the atmosphere as well using candles in all the windows and directing everyone to sit together. Instead of a sermon, there’s silence. At St. John’s 15 mins of silence to be exact. You go in and are handed a song book, and a list of the ones that will be sung. At the top of the sheet was the reminder to keep as silent as you can as you enter and leave worship. Really the only thing that was missing were the monks robes! I loved it. I often went and one night one of my sisters and a friend asked to go with me. Of course I said yes. I was nervous though. I figured my sister would be ok, but our bubbly, chatty friend worried me. I didn’t think she’d make it. When we got out on the street after worship had finished, I asked how they found it. I was surprised by their reactions. My sister absolutely hated it and our friend loved it! For both of them it was the silence. I find the same thing true for yoga. Some folks would prefer to leave before savassanah, the silent closing posture and others wear t-shirts that say “I’m only here for Shavassana”
My hunch is that while some people find God’s presence in silence and others can only hear an absence of God. The hard part seems to be finding a balance or compassion for the other, so that in worship or in meetings there’s enough silence for those who needs it, but not too much for those who would prefer anything to silence.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes people give up when there is silence? For example, when there’s no clear answer to a problem, people give up? They expect an immediate answer, but when nothing seems apparent, they give up and say there’s no solution. Maybe the silence is really saying, this isn’t going to be easy or not quite yet. Or maybe the introverted person in the room was waiting for a moment of stillness to speak.
It was pretty hard to reflect on this particular scripture without including The Sound of Silence. Paul Simon didn’t hear the voice of God in the silence though. All he could hear were people not listening to each other and talking just to talk or one up each other. Conversations with no real meaning, so he is left to talk to the darkness. Who are these people that talk without saying anything and pretend to listen? Who speak what they think everyone else is saying, without backing it up with research? Who can’t see the messages so clearly laid out by those who live in public housing and travel by public transit? Who can’t see the people sitting in lineups outside the walk-in clinics for hours just to get an appointment with a doctor that has never spent more than 15mins with them? Who are these people who have never used a foodbank or been on EI, yet make the rules that guard them? Who are these people that can’t see the bruises on faces, can’t read the words #metoo on every woman’s facebook feed, and can’t see the faces of missing and murdered indigenous women? Who are these people who can’t hear the cries of a hungry and scared Muslim child being snuck across the border, but insist that all refugees should “go back to where they come from” even when that place doesn’t even exist anymore? Who are these people? I’m sure you know a few of them. Challenge them. It is our privilege and responsibility to do so.
Downstairs our Sunday School is learning to listen to stillness, to quiet their minds, to self-sooth as needed. It’s a great step on the journey of learning how to deal with life’s disappointments. Once we’re able to deal with our disappointments in appropriate ways, they don’t seem quite so bad. Once we stop feeling like the disappointments always happen to us, it’s a little easier to feel gratitude for what we have. It’s a little easier to advocate for someone else. It’s a little easier to see how everyone benefits when we compromise.
The Sunday School is offering an invitation to anyone who wants to join them in the FRC after worship, to make Prayer Settling Jars. Join us in this simple, meditative and prayer-filled practice. Share it with someone else in your life who needs a little bit of silence to listen for real conversation or for the still, small voice of God.

Hymn Spirit God, Be Our Breath MV 150

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation

Music Ministry

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 Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
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 & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 29, 2017 After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

https://youtu.be/lYcrY71G6KY
https://youtu.be/tox2TflUH90
https://youtu.be/_zvqdqrXuj0
Explainity Explains Reformation
Phyllis Tickle
Patheos – Nadia Bolz Webber
4 Laws
Shane Hipps 4 Questions
Proven Models
Sears article 1
Sears article 2
Martin Luther History Channel
Martin Luther King I Have A Dream
Working Preacher Podcast
Working Preacher
Patheos – Dangerous King

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Come and Find the Quiet Centre VU 374

Call to Worship One: Today we celebrate the basics of our faith: All: We celebrate the Scriptures and the wisdom they offer. One: We celebrate our Faith and the connection it offers. All: We celebrate Grace and all that unconditional love encourages us to be. One: We celebrate Christ, our human connection to divine wisdom and love. All:We celebrate the freedom that we have to understand God on our own terms and through our own experiences. One: These are the five principals that gather us together in this time and in this space to worship.

Opening Prayer Sacred Spirit, your presence was felt 500 years ago just as strongly as it is today. We pray that this time is filled with enlightenment and hope. Amen.

Hymn We are the Church Rainbow Song Book #59

Theme Conversation What do you need to build a church?

Readings Explanity Explains Reformation Video
Phyllis Tickle Video
1 Kings 5:1-5; 8:1-13
Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon The Giant Rummage Sale

Normally, in the United Church, we don’t do much to celebrate the reformation.  We recognize that many leaders have helped to shape us over the course of time.  This year though, as we sit on the edge of another major revolution of both the religious world and the society we live in, it has been 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his thoughts to the door of the church. Was tried for heresy and spent the rest of his life, using a penname, to help the average person understand Christianity.

Many of the resources this week start off by saying that the lectionary gives us an odd piece for Reformation Sunday.  Apparently, the choices are usually sin oriented, suitable to inspire someone to change or reform their own life.  I think that Solomon’s Temple is a perfect pairing for talking about religion though.

Solomon was the oldest living son of David near the time of his death.  Becoming King wasn’t exactly a given for Solomon as another brother had attempted to lay claim to the throne before Solomon was ordered installed by his father.  Solomon was known for his wisdom and for following out his father’s dream of a place to worship God – a lavish place because God had been so good to them.

So he did.  Solomon teamed up with one of his father’s allies, imposed heavy taxes and employed hundreds of thousands of people to build the temple complete with a special room for offerings, another even holier room for incense and plenty of storage rooms to store all of the things his father had collected to honour God.

The building of Solomon’s Temple was the symbol for the religious revolution of the time.   Previous to this, the Hebrew people had been worshipping in tents as they been doing since at least the Exodus, if not before that.  It was simply the way of the nomadic people.  But the Hebrew people were no longer wandering, and King Solomon’s Father, King David felt that a tent was not an appropriate place to offer sacrifice.  He felt that God was too important to him to be relegated to a tent when the King himself no longer lived in a tent.  It makes sense.  The story goes on to explain that David would never build the Temple, because he was known as the King of War, it would need to be Solomon, the King of Wisdom.  The Temple became the sign of the religious movement of the Davidic era.

Phyllis Tickle laid out the map or timeline of religious revolution for us.  So it should come as no surprise to learn almost 500 years after the Temple was built, it was destroyed in an act of war.  I’m sure the Hebrew people at the time thought that the world was coming to an end.  After all, the Temple had always been there.  But the Hebrew faith did not end when the Temple fell.  Similarly, the Catholic Church did not die when Martin Luther nailed his these to the door.  The whole point of faith is that it stays with you even when all of the structures that you thought held it up come crumbling down.

I’m sure many of you remember the Canadian History Vignette where Marshall McLuhan declares “The medium IS the message!”  What you may not know, is that McLuhan also believed that every medium also answered four laws or as he preferred to call them, questions.  This has been an enlightened moment for me this week, and I’m going to attempt to walk you through it.  Perhaps some of you are not new to this theory, and if you have studied it or have experience in it, I’d love to chat with you.

Here goes.

There are 4 quadrants/laws/questions for any medium. Always four and only four.  There are no right answers, only evolving answers.

Let me walk you through with video cameras.

(bottom right) A. “What recurrence or RETRIEVAL of earlier actions and services is brought into play simultaneously by the new form? What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?”

Neighbourhood watch, Mid-evil city walls (made them safe at first, but then made them vunerable)

Salvation

(bottom left) B. “When pushed to the limits of its potential, the new form will tend to reverse what had been its original characteristics. What is the REVERSAL potential of the new form?”

Invasion of privacy

Freedom

(upper right) C. “If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition or un-enhanced situation is displaced thereby. What is pushed aside or OBSOLESCED by the new ‘organ’?”

Security guards, eye witness testimony

Rituals & Superstitions

(upper left) D. “What does the artefact ENHANCE or intensify or make possible or accelerate? This can be asked concerning a wastebasket, a painting, a steamroller, or a zipper, as well as about a proposition in Euclid or a law of physics. It can be asked about any word or phrase in any language.”

Our eyes

Mental Health/Spiritual Health    Power & Politics

Now let’s attempt to do this together with church.

I find it hopeful that although the medium may change, the original intention does not.  So while we may outgrow some aspects of church, we’ll never outgrow the original intention.  Just the way we achieve it.

Back in the 1950s, there was a Canadian company called Simpson’s Mail Order.  It specialized in sending useful items ordered by mail to the orderer, wherever they were located – town or city.  A department store in the US noticed how well Simpson’s was doing in the mail order market and decided that it would be the ultimate department store if you could get items in the department store without ever having to set foot in the store.  Cutting edge technology and fashion, right at your fingertips!  It wasn’t long before Simpson’s-Sears Catalogues became essential in Canadian homes.  Sears brought some of it’s own mail order wisdom to the Simpson’s-Sears relationship with the launch of the Wishbook, the joy of every Canadian child’s heart!  Eventually though, Sears bought out Simpson’s dropping the name but keeping the quality.  Sears was quickly onboard the online ordering phenom, but it wasn’t enough to keep the giant company valid.  They could not reinvent themselves this time.  So we see the end of Sears Canada.  We’ll never see the end of the need for mail order items. We’ll never see the end for store fronts.  The need will always be there, but the demands on how it’s lived out will change.

Our Future Directions Team is working on analyzing this kind of stuff.  The Team consists of Charlie O’Handley, Betty Bailey, Tara Pitts, and Debbie MacIntyre.  We have recruited a fifth person, Wouter Roos, with hopes that he’ll be able join us at the end of the month.  After some pretty intense research on our finances and trends, the Future Directions Team has come to the conclusion that we can continue on for two years as is.  The Future Directions Team is asking for your assistance in helping us to discern our next step. If you check your email right now, you should have an email in your account, and if you don’t do email, Charlie/Betty will have a hard copy for you at the door.  The outlines the results of our work so far, and includes a small survey so that we can gauge the amount of energy and commitment there is to changing our forecasted two years.  This is our last chance, our one shot, to get this right.  The Future Directions Team believes that there’s still lots of Welcoming, Discerning and Doing to be done around the St. Margaret’s Bay area, and we hope that you are willing to join us.  Amen.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God VU262

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation What do I love about St. Luke’s?

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 Body, Mind and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
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 & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 22, 2017 After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Ministry Matters

Anglican Church of Ireland

Book of Samuel

Renley Baratheon

Anointing

Patheos

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Come Touch Our Hearts MV 12

Call to Worship One: The Spirit reaches out to offer us grace. All: The Spirit reaches out to those in need and to those who can offer of themselves. One: The Spirit reaches out to open our minds. All: The Spirit reaches out to offer deep Love. One: The Spirit reaches out with compassion. All: The Spirit reaches out in worship.

Opening Prayer God your presence wraps around us, offering nurture, care and support. We pray that this be a time filled with love, grace and compassion. Amen.

Hymn Teach Me God to Wonder VU 299

Theme Conversation Anointing

Anointing and Laying on of Hands May God’s love, and the peace of Jesus Christ which passes all understanding, be with you all. And also with you. Adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence
God of peace,you teach us that in returning and rest we find life, and that in quietness and confidence is our strength. By the gift of your Spirit, help us to come into your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God.
“God knows us completely and loves us with an everlasting love; God grants us pardon and peace.
In Christ we are offered grace.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

“God forgives,
and calls all of us to confess our fears and failings
with honesty and humility.
God reconciles,
and calls us to repent the part we have played
in damaging our world, ourselves, and each other.
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.
” From A Song of Faith
Prayers of the People
Blessing the Oil “Loving God, you prepare a table before us and anoint us with oil. We thank you for this oil, a sign of your grace and Love.
Send your Holy Spirit on us and on what we do now, that through this anointing, we may know the strength that comes from you. Amen.

Anointing “In the name of the Creator, the Teacher, and the Power of Love I anoint you.

May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God look upon you with kindness and give you peace. Amen.

The Prayer of Jesus 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.

Readings 1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 7:14-24

Musical Response Day after Day MV 123

Sermon You’re the Minister?

Last week we heard about the call of Samuel. This week we’re hearing about the call of David. So here are the bits of the story that we’ve missed up to this point. Hannah, a childless woman during a time when a woman’s worth was based on how many male children she was able to give birth to, prayed for a son and offered to dedicate that child to God, should she be so blessed. She was, and she followed through on her promise, taking Samuel as a young boy to the temple to learn how to be a priest. In those days, the Hebrew people were ruled by Judges who were appointed by the Priests. Judges acted in the same way that our Judges do, making rulings and settling disputes. Samuel’s mentor Eli had two sons who were Judges, but they were corrupt. Samuel’s first hard job was to break this news to Eli.
Over the years, Samuel was a good and well respected Priest, but the people were unhappy with the Judge system. They really wanted a King and the symbol of power that came with that. Samuel’s own sons weren’t doing a good job at being Judges, so after a lot of searching, Samuel appoints Saul to be the King for the Hebrew people. Saul was able to rally the people and improve their situation, but after a number of years, the temptation of power was a bit too much and Saul did many regretful things. Samuel could see the direction that things were headed and after a lot of consulting with God set out in search of who would be the next king. That’s where we find ourselves in today’s reading. After David is anointed, he is sent to live with King Saul & Family to learn the ropes of being King. Now King Saul’s should really be one of the nine royal families on Game of Thrones as the deceit and lust is only comparable to the Lannisters, and King Saul’s son Johnathan and the King in waiting David, a relationship that I think fueled the creative juices of the GOT writers for the Renly and Loros sceens. The parallels are fascinating! But that, is getting a head of myself. Today we are talking about the anointing of David.
So here’s what you need to know about anointing. As you heard in the theme conversation, anointing is still used in more orthodox Christian traditions, especially the Roman Catholic Church, as a sacrament. Since the United Church of Canada is a protestant church, we have never considered anointing to be a sacrament, but much like marriage, it has still held a special place in our ceremonies. This is where things get a little confusing. Protestantism is any church that isn’t Roman Catholic. We’re going to learn more about this next week as October 31st is the 500th anniversary of Protestantism or the Reformation of Christianity. So even though Protestantism only recognizes two sacraments as ways of receiving grace from God, other church that have since split from the Roman Catholic church or have further evolved their understanding of grace have kept anointing as a sacrament. This means that many churches have different places and uses for anointing. In the United Church, we use it at Baptism, Confirmation, Installation of Leaders, and in services specifically designed to offer comfort, strength, and peace to those who need it most. In our faith tradition, anointing is a symbolic action that is meant to encourage you in your journey, which can feel like a change, even though its symbolism of our love and support.
Before I had my first pastoral charge, I had a student placement. I was a much more timid person then, and leading worship was something I was very uncomfortable with. The minister I was working with at the time, is a highly liturgical person. He loves all of the various parts of worship and their history, and every Sunday, he would put on a black preaching gown. He identifies very strongly with the ordained description of “word, sacrament, and pastoral care”. When I told him about my fears, his big piece of advice to me was to go out and get a gown, put it on and “fake it til I make it”. While he was the complete opposite of my staff person at school that year, that was one thing they agreed on. I would have the confidence once I could see myself as a minister. My staff person’s solution wasn’t an alb though, it was student supply. In other words my own pastoral charge. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without both. Just putting on an alb doesn’t make me a minister.
Action – taking off the alb.
It still took a few years before I could get up and lead without my alb. Now I prefer to be without it as I feel like it holds me back with the same thing it helped me with in the first place – the perception of being the “minister”. Our story from John today follows a similar theme. Jesus is out teaching when the people in the crowd begin to question him. As a young – and I use that term loosely – person in ministry, you do get questioned all the time. It’s inevitable. I didn’t realize this myself, until I started to question – is that kid old enough to…do whatever job I had done when I was their age? The older I get the more I question. But just because I keep doing it doesn’t make it right. It didn’t when it happened to Jesus either, so he pushed back with his reply: Don’t judge by appearances, judge by what is right. In other words, don’t follow my teachings just because I preformed a miracle, follow my teachings because you believe that this is the right way to live. Have you ever been judged for your appearance before?
I routinely get mistaken for someone who is not the minister. Most often I get mistaken for the office administrator, but I also get mistaken for a long lost cousin or grandchild at funerals and visitations and I’ve come to realize that I also get mistaken for a home care worker. Yup. Just wish I figured that one out sooner, because I bet when it happened before and I didn’t realize it, I was probably “the most useless homecare worker who only talks about church.” At least I can laugh about it now.
The times I’ve been misjudged have had a relatively small impact on my life though. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for good, kind, loving and generous people who find themselves misjudged due to their appearance. Women who choose to wear hijabs or niqhbs. People with piercing or tattoos that celebrate a significant life journey or culture, Transgender people who feel one way inside, but look the opposite on the outside. People who’s life stories would bring you to tears, but they seem so pulled together. Some of the people who have had the courage to post #metoo. I try not to assume anything on people, but it’s hard, and sometimes almost unavoidable.
A few months ago I listened to a podcast where the speaker was talking about implicit bias. I found it fascinating. The idea is that everyone has implicit biases no matter how hard they try and avoid them. An implicit bias is an attitude or stereotype that affects our understanding, actions, or decisions in an unconscious way. It happens to everyone based on life experience and social experience. So in North America in particular, even what we watch on tv on see online plays into implicit bias. I took an online test that was mentioned in the podcast. The test showed a series of faces and words in rapid order and you had to press specific buttons for specific answers. Most people show some implicit bias, while some people show a lot of implicit bias. Very few people showed little to no implicit bias. My first test was a bit of a learning curve, and turned up some implicit bias, so I did a few others with varying results and went back to my first one again, not because I was unhappy with my score, but because I want to “beat the machine” now that I knew the routine and the method of the test. Even though I anticipated every answer, and got none wrong, I still came out with some implicit bias. It was the only test I didn’t get an answer wrong! Even on the one test that scored little to no bias, I still got some wrong.
The fact the I couldn’t fool the computer in the implicit bias test, means that I do judge books by their covers, even though I really don’t want to. It means that I need to move slowly to ensure my privilege or life experience isn’t clouding my vision. For example, when Bob and I were house hunting, there was one thing we were both assuming differently. Bob was assuming that if we ever have kids we would need to be within walking distance of their schools, as he grew up less than 1km away from each of his schools. I, on the other hand, was assuming that some bus ride was totally normal and to be expected, after all I spent close to two hours on the bus each day. I was surprised that was even on Bob’s priority list! It was my implicit bias that everyone rode a bus to school at some point in their life. Bob and I had been together for about 13 years at that point!
Avoiding judging someone or not placing a bias on them is hard work. It obviously isn’t instantaneous in all circumstances either. Just because David was anointed didn’t make him king he had to earn it. Just because Jesus did big things didn’t make him the leader either. And putting on a cross doesn’t make me a Christian. It’s all about being who you really are, and loving people for who they really are. Some of you received an anointing and blessing today. That’s an outside thing. The real goal is to let that outside symbol, sink in so that we know we are loved on the inside too. The past is the past, it doesn’t make us who we are. It’s our intentions that matter. And if your intention is to be loving, kind and compassionate to everyone, including yourself, then we’re all headed in the same direction. Amen.

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Because of your generosity, we are able to offer care and compassion in the form of prayer shawls, meals, company, and books. With your continued support, we can continue to offer these small comforts to even more people.

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.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 15, 2017 – After Pentecost

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Remit 6 Background Info
Remit 6 Study Guide
Touchstone Canada Remit 6 Discussion Papers

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Here I am Lord VU 509

Call to Worship One: Are you listening? All: Here we are. One: Are you ready? All: Here we are. One: Are you willing? All: Here we are.

Opening Prayer Here we are ready to worship. Ready to learn. Ready to celebrate. Ready for the movement of the Holy Spirit. May it be so. Amen.

Theme Conversation What do you want to be when you grow up?

Readings 1 Samuel 3
1 Corinthians 12:4–11
From A Song of Faith

I’ll do the slides for this section One Order Discussion 50 mins
What is a category 3 remit? 5 mins
Current Ministry Categories 5 mins
Proposed Ministry Categories 5 mins
Key issues to consider
Education (Discussion) 8 mins
Identity (Discussion) 8 mins
Equity (Discussion) 8 mins
Other issues 5 mins
Voting 6 mins

Hymn We Have This Ministry VU 510

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, we are able to discern our individual calling, explore the possibilities and make decisions together. With your continued generosity, we can continue to be a grass roots church.

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 Body, Mind, and Spirit MV 153

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
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 & Benediction

Musical Blessing Glory to God in the Highest MV 124

October 8, 2017 Thanksgiving

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Wonder Bread
St. Luke’s Pinterest Board
Cornucopia
Martha Stewart Cornucopia
Haiku Poetry
The Manna Principle

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet VU 245

Call to Worship “One: Every day is a day of Thanksgiving.
All: Each day I open my eyes to the blessings around me.
One: Even on days when it feels like there might be nothing to be grateful for,
All: I know that I can be the grateful part of someone else’s day.

Opening Prayer “The Spirit of Creation is all around us.
We are grateful for the possibility of being
ever more aware, human and alive.
May it be so.” R Hunt, Adapted

Hymn Eve’ry Day is a Day of Thanksgiving MV 185

Readings Exodus 16:1-18
John 6:51

Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Gratitude Stations

Hymn Grateful MV 182

Minute for Mission

Minute from the FRC

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, time spent in the FRC is possible. Through food, rides, and an abundance of compassion, healing can begin.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

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

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

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

October 1, 2017 World Communion Sunday

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

https://youtu.be/8kNTUX0mWP8

https://youtu.be/AAvfquqboZY

Come for the Meal is Ready

Mennonite Church of Canada World Communion Resources

Worshiping With Children

Jordan Rimmer

Working Preacher

Rex Hunt

Sohum

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful VU 291

Call to Worship “One: The season of creation surrounds us
All: We look for God’s presence in the changing leaves, the fall mums, and crisp apples
One: God is in creation and in our relationship with creation
All: We celebrate God’s presence as we gather to worship in this season of creation

Opening Prayer Source of Life and Love, we pray that we will be encouraged by your Love and strengthened by your peace. Amen.

Hymn Take Your Shoes Off Moses Arr. Courtney Patton

Theme Conversation I am who I am

Readings Exodus 2:23-25, 3:1-17
John 8:58
From “What is the Bible?”
Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon Standing at the Threshold

So Jesus is quoting Moses today, and unfortunately Jesus chooses a particular story that doesn’t translate to English overly well, but the parts that do make for a very impressive story. So when the people of power ask Jesus who he is, he responds with the same line as God gave Moses, when Moses asked who God was. Of course the people who were questioning Jesus were upset. They were so upset that they chased him out of the temple in an attempt to throw stones at him. The part of the Moses story he quotes, is so confusing because the climax of the story is somewhat untranslatable, and it’s the climax Jesus quoted. But allow me to back up a bit. For those of you unfamiliar with the Moses story, Moses was Hebrew in a time that was particularly horrible for Hebrew people. The Pharoah during the time of Moses’ birth had ordered that all the Hebrew babies be killed. Fortunately for Moses, his mother hid him in the reeds by the river where the Pharoh’s daughter found him and raised him as her own. During his formative years Moses often noticed the way the Hebrew people were treated and felt it was unfair. Moses identified as Hebrew, and when he sees someone mistreating another Hebrew person, he kills the attacker and needs to flee. After running from Egypt to Midian, Moses marries and becomes a shepherd. And this is where we find him in today’s reading. Out, tending the sheep, when he sees a sight beyond all sights. A bush that is burning, yet the fire doesn’t kill it. Moses knows he’s standing in a sacred place, so he takes off his shoes, and receives his call from God. Moses feels a little inadequate to do the job, and in his back and forth with God he asks the question “Who am I to say that you are?” and the reply was “Yahweh” a word so sacred that it’s often spelt without vowels. Untranslatable, “I am” is sometimes considered the meaning of the word Yahweh, but that doesn’t really do it either. There just isn’t a word to sum up “I have been since before time began and I will be beyond the end of time. I am everything and everything is me.”
So Hum is a Sanskrit phrase that is used in the yogic tradition as a mantra. It’s meaning is very similar. Again, it’s untranslatable in English, but is traditionally thought of as “I am THAT”, that being in all capital letters and unique to each person. It’s often used when a person needs to reconnect to the Spirit. Inhaling on So, exhaling on Hum, syncing the mind and the breath. It is found in many of the sacred texts of yoga.
I learned about So Hum during my yoga teacher training a few years ago. I took my training with Breathing Space Yoga because the certifying person is the daughter of a colleague and I wanted to take the training with someone who understood Christianity and would understand why I couldn’t be there on Sunday mornings. When I mentioned the parallel between “I am” in the Bible and “I am” in the meditation practice that had been given to us that day, I was surprised at how many people, even people who considered themselves Christian, couldn’t see similar themes, concepts, stories, untranslatable words, etc between the sacred text assigned to our class and the Bible. Tracking the similarities between the Bhagavadh Gita and the Bible ended up being my final project. It was a huge paper, which I summed up with a Godly Play story that I felt explained the word “Namaste” for me.
Crossing the threshold from a theologically trained person into the yoga world deepened both of those experiences for me. Much like Moses and stepping over the threshold, close enough to see the bush and need to remove his shoes, removing my shoes and stepping onto my yoga mat is like stepping onto the same ground that Moses did. It’s threshold theology at it’s finest.
I learned about Threshold Theology when I studied Godly Play. In a traditional Godly Play classroom, a Doorperson greets each child and helps them to “get ready” to enter the holy place. Usually with a handshake and the question “are you ready?” if the child answers no, then the doorperson and the child and sometimes the parent work together to help the child figure out what they need to do to be attentive, engaged, and most importantly feeling calm. The idea behind this is that when the child enters the space, they are supposed to experience God. Feeling calm and valued, children step over the threshold and into a place where questions with many answers, creativity, sacred stories and self-acceptance are encouraged and community is built through a simple communal meal and a blessing. Then they go out into the world, ready, because they have encountered God in that space, specifically designed for them.
Have you ever noticed a threshold before? Have you ever hesitated before entering a place? Maybe someone carried you over a threshold, or perhaps it was a hip-check? Thresholds mark the beginning of one place and the ending of another. There is a distinct difference between one place and the other: inside or outside, my room or the common area of the house, employees only or the rest of the store, private or public.
What is the threshold for a scared place? Moses obviously didn’t know or he would have taken off his sandals. When we go into someone’s home, we take off our shoes as a sign of respect for their home. There’s also a difference between entering through the front door verses the kitchen door. Are you a guest or are you family? Is there a difference? What does your home say about you? What does our spiritual home say about us? How do we know that this place is Holy? And what does it say about our understanding of God? I have to admit, this is by far the widest range of theological belief I’ve encountered in a congregation. How are we saying that about ourselves? How are we saying that in here is different from out there? How are we saying that we are different from the Lion’s Club, the Freemasons, or any other group that does charitable work? How are we different from other churches?
If we aren’t able to say how we’re different from all of the other groups, organizations and churches, then how will anyone ever know they might want to step over our threshold and into this life we call sacred? How will people know that our understanding of God includes unconditional Love, celebration of diversity, creation, creativity, justice, community and so much more?
I dream of a day when people will come into view of St. Luke’s and know instantly that these are the things that we value, and by the time they step over the threshold, they’ll know they are home. I dream that people will meet you good folks going about their daily lives and they’ll be interested to come to this place that is so life-giving for themselves, and when they cross the threshold into the physical building, they will feel so warmly welcomed that they will know instantly that they are home, that this place is Holy and holy can look like home.
I’ve been asked a few times since I’ve been here to describe my ministry, and I think most folks by now could easily answer, my ministry is Love. But it shouldn’t be my ministry that draws people to come here, it should be yours. As much as my ministry is about Love, it’s also about empowering congregations to find their own ministry, so it’s authentic and real and grows as the people change and grow. It’s sort of like a mime trapped in a box. The mime only thinks they are trapped in the box. Once someone opens that invisible door, the mime is free to step out. Or in. Church is the same, let’s open those invisible doors, so people on the inside feel free to go out and talk about their sacred experience here, and so that people on the inside don’t necessarily have to see the door in order to come in. Amen.
Hymn Soil of God, You and I MV 174

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Because your generosity, crossing the threshold into the sacred that is St. Luke’s is a friendly and welcome experience for many. With your continued generosity, we can make this a sacred and safe place for everyone who crosses the threshold.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

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

Communion Hymn All Who Hunger VU 460

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.
(Liturgy adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence)
“As we come to this table,
we are reminded that this is not the table of this congregation [or pastoral charge]; nor is it the table of The United Church of Canada, or any particular denomination. It is the table of Jesus Christ, the family feast of the whole people of God. All who seek to be nourished and sustained in the journey of faith
and long to live justly and in peace with their neighbour, are welcome here. Let us eat and drink together for our strengthening in the faith, and for the sake of the world.

“May God be with us.
God is here among us.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We open them to God and to one another.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is good to give thanks and praise.

“Eternal God, Maker of heaven and earth, we join with all your people to give you thanks and praise. You formed the universe in your wisdom and created all things by your grace. We praise you for all your good gifts: the witness of saints and prophets; the work of faithful women and men; this earth in all its blessing and promise; and this bread, once scattered, now brought together and made one. In the hope that your people may be brought together from the ends of the earth into your reign of justice and compassion, we gather with those of every time and every place
to give you praise and glory:

“Holy, holy, holy God,
Power of life and love!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna through the ages!
Blest is the One who comes to bring your justice to earth!

“We do what Jesus did the night before he died. He took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat; remember me.”
Then he took the cup, and said,
“Take, drink; remember.”

“We remember Jesus’ integrity unto death.
We remember the hope of resurrection.
We remember the promise of compassion and justice.

“Praise be to God, the Source of love!
Praise be to Christ, Love incarnate!
Praise be to the Spirit, Love’s power!
Praise be to God!
Amen.

Let’s pray together 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.

The bread of tomorrow. The cup of new life.

“Gracious God,
may your gifts of love transform and enliven us that we may live lives of thanksgiving. May your presence among us provoke such longing for your realm, that we will never be satisfied until the whole earth knows your justice, your peace, and your love.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

September 24, 2017 Creation 3

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Faith Element
Midrash

Child Poverty Links

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/child-and-family-poverty-report-nova-scotia-1.3865628
https://nsadvocate.org/2016/11/03/poverty-rates-in-nova-scotia-exceed-national-average-are-highest-in-maritimes/
http://novascotia.ca/coms/department/backgrounders/poverty/index.html
https://nsadvocate.org/2017/09/18/where-the-poor-people-live-stats-canada-puts-nova-scotia-poverty-on-the-map/

 

Mental Health Links

http://www.mentalhealthns.ca/about-mental-illness/

 

Domestic Violence Links

https://nsdomesticviolence.ca/vawresearch/statistics
https://nsdomesticviolence.ca/sites/default/files/documents/sexualAssaultRpt09.pdf
https://women.gov.ns.ca/sites/default/files/documents/factsheets/Dec%202011%20FS3%20Domestic%20Violence%20-%20online.pdf

 

Words of Welcome & Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgement of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn This is the Day MV 122

Call to Worship “One: From the deep waters of the Atlantic, to the warm waters of the St. Margaret’s Bay,
All: From Hammond’s Plains, to Hubbards, to Hubley, One: From the places we came from this morning,
All: To the places of our hearts,
One: We celebrate your presence.
All: We celebrate your Spirit in our midst. “

Opening Prayer R Hunt, Adapted
“Creating God, whose rugged beauty fills our planet,
may we discern your vibrant presence among us,
especially in the wonders of our Bay.

May our spirits be lifted to rejoice with the sand
and the wind and even the fog.
May it be so with us.”

Hymn Spirit God, Be Our Breath Be Our Song MV 150

Theme Conversation It’s the Climb

Readings Genesis 27: 1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17
John 1:50-51
From “What is the Bible?”
Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon Dreaming
The Narrative Lectionary has served up to us a continuation of the story of Abraham and Isaac. At this point in the story though, Abraham has died and Isaac is on his death bed. By this time, Isaac has married and now has twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau are opposites in many senses, and their relationship at this point in their lives is still very much a rivalry. By this time, Jacob has tricked his brother out of his inheritance and in this story also tricked his father into giving him the blessing originally intended to bestow head of the family status on Esau, shortly afterwards, Jacob is encouraged to run away under the guise of going off to find a proper wife. During the journey, after sleeping on a rock, Jacob has a weird dream that frightens him. A tall ladder with angels going up and down. God appeared in the dream to Jacob, promising him land and prosperity. Keep in mind our lesson from last week. People in these times felt they had no choice other than to let the things that had happened to their ancestors also happen to them. For people who had been displaced for generations, this promise of land and prosperity would have been huge. In the end, Jacob pledges his loyalty to God in worship and then goes off to find a wife.
In our passage from John, Jesus is quoting scripture. The thing that I like about the Narrative Lectionary is that when Jesus quotes scripture, they include that story as part of the lectionary readings for that day. So yes, Jesus is referencing Jacob’s dream about the ladder. It’s like a dream coming true. Jesus is in the process of recruiting Phillip and Nathanael. He’s pretty much got Phillip onboard and Phillip brings Nathanael over. Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows who he is. Jesus tells him he shouldn’t be surprised, and that if he’s surprised that Jesus recognized someone sitting on the edge of the crowd gathered to listen, then wait until he’s sees what’s next, it’ll be just like THE dream…
Jacob’s dream was certainly epic, but the dreaming didn’t stop with him. We hear of dreams and sometimes nightmares throughout the Bible. All the same general theme – the world would be a better place if …dot, dot, dot or if we don’t stop ____________ things will get worse. Throughout history, there have been many famous dreamers. Martin Luther and his 95 theses for the church. Beethoven and his symphonies. Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity. Martin Luther King Junior and the most memorable speech in history. Dr Fredrick Banting and insulin. Woodsworth and Douglas and universal health care. John Lennon and a song that continues to move people. And these are just a few. The dreams have continued. The 100 delegates from the United Church who travelled to the Greenbelt festival to experience a different kind of church. All of the women who marched in Washington for equal rights. Theologians such as Rob Bell, Mary Daly, John Shelby Spong, Rosemary Radford Ruther, John Dominic Crossan, Ian Lawton, Don Murray, Bruce Saguin and so, so many more who dream of a broader understanding God, the role of the church and the Bible.
In addition to the Jacob’s ladder story, the kids are getting a little bit of Midrash in Sunday School. Midrash is a Hebrew tradition of Rabbis filling in the gaps in the stories of the Torah, which is the sacred Hebrew scripture. The details are added to help the listener understand the concepts of the story in a contemporary way. In their story, Jacob climbs up the ladder and has a fun day experiencing what heaven was like. While Jacob likes heaven, after all, everyone loves, everyone is equal, and everything is easy, he realizes that there are somethings about home he misses too, like the satisfaction of climbing to the top of the mountain, or the joy of playing a game even if you lose and the feeling of accomplishment as you try harder and learn from the times you lost. So he climbs back down the ladder at the end of the day. While this is a noble attitude, what would it be like if the gap between winning and losing was a little closer? What is the mountain was the size of one in Nova Scotia rather than one in the Rockies? Maybe it would have taken Jacob so long to leave Laban and go home to apologize to his brother.
One of my favourite things in ministry is dreaming with churches. I love to dream about how our organization can make the larger community a safer, healthier, and happier all by showing the loving kindness of God to others. After being here a full two years next Sunday, I’m wondering how we here at St. Luke’s are going to connect to the larger St. Margaret’s Bay Community? What can we do to make the world a little safer, a little healthier, and a little happier for those who need it most?
Did you know that one in 3 people in some areas of Nova Scotia live below the poverty line? St. Luke’s happens to be located in an area where 10% or 1 in 10 people live in poverty. 1 in 5 Nova Scotians suffers from mental illness. 1 in 25 Nova Scotians has experienced sexual violence and reported it to police. A little bit safer, healthier and happier couldn’t hurt.
As an almost 38 year old minister I have a minimum of 27 years left before I’m 65. That’s a long time. Especially considering the national church has needed to restructure for financial reasons and I’m not sure when the national church will finally produce a balanced budget. I’m not opposed to challenging myself. I’m not sure what the church will look like in 7 years, let alone 27 years. But I’m pretty sure that without the United Church of Canada challenging society to be a little happier, a little healthier and a little safer, in particular for vulnerable people won’t happen as often. And if our stats are any indication, it’s not happening enough now.
Declaration (here is where we are headed, here is what God is doing)
So Jacob had a conversation with God. From this we can assume a few things:
1. Broken and damaged relationships does nothing for God. In fact, broken and damaged relationships harm God. Since Jacob proclaimed his loyalty to God when he woke up, he probably knew then that he would eventually return to his brother.
2. He had a profound and life changing experience during that conversation that affected not only him, but the people that would follow him, otherwise it never would have been included in the Torah or Bible.
3. Although there was a ladder going up into the sky with angels coming up and down, we aren’t actually told that Jacob goes up the ladder – only that God is standing beside him. If Jacob got a glimpse of heaven, it was the possibility of heaven here on earth or as I like to call it “The Good of the Whole”. Jacob’s trickery wasn’t for the Good of the Whole, but his apology was.
A dream of love can change the whole way we look at things, to desire to live a life of love can change the way we live. Living our lives with love can change a community. A community living lives of love can change the world.
The task before us, is not an easy one. We live in a time where success is measured by how much power and control a person has rather than how much love a person has. Jacob learned this lesson. The power and wealth he tricked his brother out of didn’t give him the success he longed for. After his dream and his pledge, Jacob’s life started to turn. It didn’t happen overnight, it took decades. But like Jacob’s, a life lived in love is never miss-spent.
Music Ministry

Offering Invitation
With your generosity, we can work towards dreams of justice, equality, and love here in our community and around the world.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

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 God of the Sparrow VU 229 (v1,3, & 6)

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

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962