January 8, 2017

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Working Preacher

Working Preacher – Jesus’ Baptism

Wikipedia:

St. Luke’s United Church
January 8th, 2017
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Hymn Sing Till Sundown VU 78

Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Call to Worship:
One: We come today to grow light: To nourish our light, to ignite our light, to prepare to pass the light on to others.
All: In our worship we celebrate our abundance and we acknowledge our losses. Together, we work for justice, strive for equality and dream about peace on earth.
One: Together we sing our faith, speak of our experiences, and share our hearts.

Opening Prayer:
Spirit of Gentleness, be with us as we worship and pray, sing and share, celebrating your love present in us. Amen.

Hymn Song of Thankfulness and Praise VU 101

Epiphany Moments

Readings Luke 3:1-22

Hymn Hail to God’s Own Anointed VU 30

Dear John….
It’s been an interesting week of pondering John the Baptist. The feast days for the Epiphany otherwise known as the visit from the magi and the Baptism of Jesus both fall on January 6th. Different faith traditions and even different popes had different priorities about what should be celebrated during Christmastide. The lectionary which is a joint effort of numerous traditions chooses to alternate the years. This year, it’s the Baptism of Jesus of the Sunday after Epiphany. If we were part of a faith tradition that celebrated all feast days, we likely would have celebrated Epiphany on Friday and the Baptism of Jesus today. Because we in the United Church tend to be a little more relaxed about feast days, we’re left to fill Sunday with both topics. Most of us choose to alternate. So this year we’re looking at the Baptism of Jesus, more specifically, looking at John the Baptist’s role in that event.
I have to admit; I love John the Baptist. He spent many of his young adult years in the wilderness, wearing clothes made of camel hair and eating locusts with honey. He didn’t drink, nor did he cut his hair. When he wasn’t in the wilderness, he was protesting the actions of society, challenging people to live better lives. He was humble enough to recognize that Jesus was the stronger leader, but still worked with him to fulfill a common goal. He did his own thing, but had no problem sharing his ways. In my mind John is the picture of resilience. I can’t imagine that he would have been terribly popular. He was constantly pushing people to be better, to do more, to love harder. He looked different. He refused to drink. He ate bugs for Pete’s sake. I’m sure he was ridiculed. But still he got up every day, bushed the dirt off, and made his way into the crowd to try and convince people to think of others instead of themselves.
We’re not so different in the United Church. We seem to specialize in being different, in challenging people to be better, to do more, to love harder. Sometimes we look different and do odd things: our worship is less formal, we’re quite open about who we love, we celebrate everything, and we practice something called essential agreement – meaning we’re ok that we have a variety of words to describe our understanding of God and what we are called to do, as long as they are in the same spirit which is a spirit of loving kindness and the good of the whole. Oh and we’re like John the Baptist in our preference of Welches over wine.
We too, are resilient people. We face ridicule from other churches from time to time. We deal with declining population and how that impacts church. We face changes in church trends. We face challenges from people inside and outside of the church. We rise, and sometimes we meet the challenge, and sometimes we don’t. But we continue to accept the challenges put before us. Similarly, as the United Church, we challenge government and society. Sometimes they pay attention and sometimes they don’t, but we still keep challenging power and privilege hoping that we can narrow the gap.
On Christmas Eve, we heard the call – Jeff sang it as John the Baptist did. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” then John baptized the people, giving them a new beginning and a chance to make a better path for everyone. I’m going to ask you now again, just to reinforce it. In a time when people no longer understand what it is they are called by God to do, what will you do to make a path so that others have easier access to God and to the good of the whole? How will you help others to prepare for the presence of Divine Love, when they don’t even understand what that is? How will you give people fresh beginnings? What new beginnings are you making yourself? Prepare ye the way of the Lord otherwise known as what can we do to make the world a better place? What challenge are you looking at this week? Will you practice resilience? May it be so.

Hymn When Christ for Us You Were Baptized VU 99

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Today we remember our abundance: people, places, things. We give thanks for all that we have, and give what we can.

Offertory Though I May Speak VU 372 v. 2

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be a sign of our compassion for others and our desire reach out. Amen.

Prayer Music Pure Love MV 31

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

Commissioning and Benediction

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

January 1, 2017

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Story Path

Text Week

Working Preacher

Rex Hunt

Onbeing – Parker Palmer’s 5 Revolutions

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

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering

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

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

Hymn I Have Called You by Your Name MV 161

Anna & Simeon

Readings Luke 2:21-38

Hymn All Poor Ones and Humble VU 68

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

Minute for Mission

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

Offertory Though I May Speak VU 372 v. 2

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

Prayer Music Pure Love MV 31

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

Commissioning and Benediction

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

 

December 24, 2016

Children’s Worship @ 4:30pm

Away in a Manger

Bethlehem Town

Mary’s Boy Child

Family Worship @ 6:30pm

Links of Interest:

Working Preacher

Rex Hunt Progressive Liturgies

Unitarian Universalist Association:

Soujourners – Resistance in the Manger

Presbyterian Church of Canada Christmas Eve Resources 2016 Year A, Eucharist 1

St. Luke’s Slide Show 6:30pm

St. Luke’s Slide Show 10:30pm

December 18th, 2016

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

TextWeek

On Being – Annunciation

St. Luke’s United Church
December 18th, 2016
Love
Hymn People, Look East VU 9

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter

Call to Worship:
One: Four candles burn with love. They burn stronger together offering hope, inspiring peace, sharing joy and creating love. Love calls us to do things and be people we never thought possible.
All: One candle offers us hope. Two candles inspire peace. Three candles share joy. Four candles create love.
One: An advent wreath in a circle reminds us that hope, peace, joy and love are a never ending cycle. One can’t happen without the others.

Opening Prayer:
Loving God, we celebrate all that you are and all that you bring to our lives. May this hour be filled with celebration of the Spirit. May we be filled with Love.

Hymn O Come All Ye Faithful VU 60

Jesse Tree Stories

Readings Luke 1:26-49
Annunciation Marie Howe

Hymn Mary, She Sang Love Song

Love
A few years ago I ministered in a community where deteriorating mental health was a huge problem. The pastoral charge’s visioning committee and I sat down to try and strategize ways for the congregations to engage in mental health issues. We had no budget to work with. But we had determination and focus. We knew that our identity statement would guide us, and we trusted the movement of the Spirit.
A year or two into our mission, we thought we would try something different for the Longest Night or Blue Christmas as it’s sometimes called. We’d had little attendance the year before, and I thought maybe the problem is that we were expecting the community to come to us. So what would happen if we did something for the community instead? What would happen if we put our faith on display for the whole community? What would happen if we attempted to maintain a small light for 24 of the darkest hours of the year? What would it be like to publicly acknowledge the grief that people had? People who never darkened the doors of the church, especially on a Sunday, and to say we love you anyway, and we’re right here – if you need us.
Let’s flip to the lectionary reading for a moment. Mary was in a bit of a bind. Pregnant and engaged in a time when it was socially unacceptable to be pregnant while you are engaged. It was something people didn’t even really talk about behind closed doors. It’s only been the last couple of decades that becoming pregnant while you are engaged is a socially acceptable thing. But Mary was called to do this. Not only was she called, but she felt called to be the mother of this child. During what was probably the darkest and loneliest time of Mary’s life, what was the light that brought her hope?
Almost a month ago, I talked about hope and how we need more signs of hope in our society. Some people need more hope than others. And some people only need a minuscule amount. Others still are capable of generating their own hope. Those people seem to be few and far between. Most people need at least a little love in their lives to have hope.
Mary obviously had hope once she and Joseph were able to sort things out. But how did she even have the courage to sort things out? To even utter the words? “I’m pregnant.” Of course some off it was her tenacity, some of it was her relationship with Joseph, but a good portion of her courage surely came from her conversation with Gabriel. We don’t hear about it as often, but Joseph also had a conversation with Gabriel, which I’m sure also helped him with his courage to go against the societal norms of the time and continue his relationship with Mary. Gabriel was the spark of light that they both needed to get through their version of the longest night.
Now I could go to my default at this point and ask you what sparks of light are in your longest night? How do you get through the tough stuff? But let’s be honest here. You’re part of this community and hopefully, if you find yourself in a particularly dark moment, there is someone here in this community that you can talk to, that you gain courage from people in this community. What I want to ask you today, is how are offering hope to the wider community as we head into this literal longest night? How are you giving courage to those who really need to have hard conversations? How are you showing people in general that you care? How are we as a community of faith, filled with strong, courageous people, whose lives have hope and love in them reaching out beyond ourselves to offer hope and love to others? If you don’t know how or what to do, please stop by on Wednesday and join in a 24 hour long candle vigil to bring a small spark of light to the larger community. Tending a small spark might just be the thing you need to do this Christmas.

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Gifts from the heart are the gifts that matter the most.

Offertory

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR be signs of our Love for others. Amen.

Prayer Music

Prayers of the People
Ending with an alternative Prayer of Jesus, found in Voices United, pg 921 or on the screen.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope is a Candle Linnea Good

Prayers

No one is ever really ready for Christmas.

If we were really all prepared:

if every gift we had contemplated had been obtained;

if every present was beautifully beribboned;

if all the goodies our friends deserve were baked and cooled, and stored just so;

if each and every person we love was gathered for our celebration;

if we never snapped at someone we care about, nor stopped short of being all that we could be…

They truly would be ready – and truly we would not need Christmas quite so much.

So come, Christmas, most needed of seasons.

All  Come Christmas!

Come, Love,

Come, Hope.

Be born in our unready hearts on this silent and holy night.  MMKilloran/edited

 
 

From <http://www.rexaehuntprogressive.com/liturgy_collection/year_a_liturgy_collection/year_a_christmasepiphany/christmasevea24122016.html>

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

We come to acknowledge the many colours of Christmas:

Colours of red in the shining ornaments and rosy glow of merriment;

-a time for meeting our memories and honouring favourite traditions.

Colours of green in the trees and boughs of holly;

-a time for seeing signs of new life in the depths of winter.

Colours of white in the snow blanketed fields and the icy breath of cold;

a time for warmth and care of each other and dreams of longer days.

Colours of blue in the deep winter starlight;

-a time when the shadows of loss threaten to overwhelm us.

We gather in this time to find hope;

We come to open our spirits to the courage of living amid all the colours of this season.

(Dr Nancy L Steeves)

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Blue Christmas

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Sacraparental: A Blue Christmas Service if you are Hurting at Christmas
Fat Pastor – Longest Night: For Those Who Mourn at Christmas
From Celebrate God’s Presence, Searching for Shalom by Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems

Ornaments handed out during the reflective time at the Blue Christmas

God is near to all who call; their cries are heard. Psalm 145:18-19

 

Call to Worship

All around us we see the lights of Christmas, we hear the sounds of joyful celebration. We come to this service recognizing that this season is often difficult for many and may not be as joyful for us as it seems to be for many others.

As the nights have grown longer, sadness and emptiness, loneliness and pain wrap around the hearts of many. In this season of longest nights, some struggle to put into words that which causes them to feel blue rather than joyful.

For some, a loved one has died.

For others, a friend has moved away. Still others have lost a job, a cherished dream, or a sense of hope.

We might be feeling worried, trapped, insecure, adrift or alone. We may be grieving what might have been but will not be, or grieving over what used to be, but cannot be anymore.

We may simply be in need of a place of quiet and calm in an otherwise busy season.

Whatever may have brought us here we offer to the One born in Bethlehem’s stable, knowing that there is no pain that does not echo in God’s heart, no joy that does not come from God’s hand.

I See Your Pain by Ann Weems

Hymn  Sisters Let Us Walk Together MV 179

Opening Prayer

God of comfort and compassion, hear us as we pray for ourselves and for all who live with loss and loneliness, pain and grief, hurt and isolation. We ask for strength for today, courage for tomorrow, and peace for the past.

We ask these things in the name of Christ who shares our life in joy and sorrow, in death and new birth, despair and promise.  Amen.

Scripture

Psalm 121

Matthew 1:18-23

 

Hymn Stay With Us Through The Night VU 182

 

Star-Giving by Ann Weems

Blessing the Prayer Shawls

Reflective Music

 

Pastoral Prayer, ending with the Prayer of Jesus

 

Hymn Will You Come And See The Light VU 96

 

Blessing and Sending Forth Into This Silent Night Ann Weems

December 11, 2016 – Advent 3

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

The Liturgists Podcast: Suffering (Part 1)
Working Preacher
Rex Hunt

Rob Bell – “The Robcast” with Rabbi Sharon Brous
Gifts With Vision “Build a Well
Charity Water (referred to in The Liturgist Podcast)

Kirtan Soul Revival (official website)(itunes)

St. Luke’s United Church
December 11th, 2016
Joy
Hymn Still, Still, Still VU 47

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter

Call to Worship:
One: Three candles burning brightly offering hope, inspiring peace and sharing joy. Sharing in other’s joy is the gift that keeps on giving.
All: One candle offers hope. Two candles inspire peace. Three candles share joy.

Opening Prayer:
Source of deep joy, we pray that this time together be filled with giving and receiving joy. May we see your presence in the joy of others and experience you in our own moments of joy. May it be so.

Hymn Joy to the World VU 59

More Stories from Our Family Tree
Spin Me A Story

Readings Isaiah 61:1-11
Luke 4:16-21

Hymn Joy Is Now in Every Place VU 45

Joy in Suffering.
I’ve listened to two very impactful podcasts lately that just won’t leave me. The first I referenced in my Advent letter. The Liturgist Podcast introduced the idea that suffering runs on a large spectrum. That something that we take for granted can be the root of so much suffering. And the biggest kicker of all is that this particular suffering is needless. The suffering I’m talking about is lack of access to clean, safe water. Now, I’m sure everyone understands that we need water to live. If you were part of the United Church a few years ago, you probably heard about our campaign against bottled water, and if you’ve been to a larger United Church event, you’ll likely notice many folks are toting reusable mugs and water bottles and asking where the fountains are located. Simply put, water is a gift from God and should not be sold for profit.
People suffer from lack of water. They suffer physically. They get sick. People can die from lack of water or from diseases that come from drinking water that is unsafe. People suffer emotionally from lack of water. People walk for kilometers to access water that is safe to drink. Young women will stay home from school because they don’t have enough water for proper hygiene. One person explained to the hosts of the program I was listening to about how lack of water leads to a lack of dignity. In some communities there is only a certain amount of water for each family, and not always enough for each person to drink, let alone wash themselves.
Then I remembered my own experience meeting families in Guatemala, who gave their children pop to drink because it was cheaper than buying water and supposedly safer than drinking the water that was available in their village. The smiles of the children were somewhat unforgettable. After hearing how people all over the world are suffering from a lack of water, I saw a video this week that kind of kicked me in the gut. These people, who have no easy water in their lives, still smile. They still have joy.
This idea that it’s all a state of mind is what Jesus was getting at in this passage. To make the point hit home even harder, he quoted a sacred text, which we also heard this morning. Jesus was telling them they didn’t need to idly wait for a savior to rid them of their oppression. The solution to the problem already existed. They had the power amongst themselves to ensure that they were treated with dignity and respect. There was hope! There would be peace! There will be joy! They just needed some help seeing how.
Jesus read the passage about justice and liberation to people who were feeling misused, maltreated and trapped. They desperately wanted a change. So Jesus read the prophets words about a time of rising up, liberation and freedom in general, then he told them it was all possible not in the future but today. TODAY. All that was required was a change of thinking.
The second impact podcast I listened to was an interview by Rob Bell of a Rabbi Sharon Brous in Los Angeles who is leading in the Emergent Jewish Network, and speaking openly about the need for us to stop worshiping the structures of our varied religions and change the worship container so that we are truly able to focus on the source that challenges us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. You don’t eat the bowl, you eat the soup that’s in the bowl. We can’t seem to eat the soup because we are constantly distracted by the bowl. Not so different from Jesus’ constant sermon: All that’s required is a change of thinking.
You might be wondering where the “joy” is in all this. I’m telling you that the joy exists when you stop worrying about everything else and focus on simply loving other people. Sometimes, you do get burned, but other times, amazing things happen. Getting burned isn’t so horrible when you are focused on simply offering others love. It’s their choice how they use it. I didn’t understand this until this past annual meeting of the Maritime Conference. I had just finished dealing with someone who was quite upset and someone asked me how I could deal with everyone and still keep smiling. I did it because I kept singing one of my favorite songs – a Kirtan hymn actually the words are “I release and I let go, I let the Spirit run my life. My heart is open wide and I’m only here to love.” I’m just here to offer loving kindness, it’s someone else’s choice if they choose to use it well, take advantage of it and me or even ignore what I have to offer. The opposite is true too. When others offer me loving kindness it’s my choice to use it well, take advantage of it or ignore it.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to let go of some of the things that keep you from experiencing joy by focusing simply on loving? Are you going to accept the gifts of loving kindness offered to you even though you wanted something else? Are you going to shift your thinking so that you are focused on what really matters?

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Abundance over flows all around us. Because we are abundant people, we choose to give.

Offertory Laughter Lit The Stars of Morning MV 190 v1

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR offer justice and joy to those in need. Amen.

Prayer Music Never Ending Joy MV 40 refrain, v3, refrain

Prayers of the People
Ending with the traditional Prayer of Jesus, found in Voices United, pg 921 or on the screen.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle Linnea Good v3 with story bit, v2, v1

December 4, 2016 – Advent 2

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Text Week
Working Preacher
Stewardship of Life: Return, Rend & Receive

Hymn It Came Upon A Midnight Clear VU 44

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant (on the screen) Phil Porter

Call to Worship:
One: Two small flames flicker and grow. Reminding us to keep seeking hope, and that hope can grow into personal peace. When each of us nurtures our peace, it can’t help but grow.
All: A single candle offers us hope. Two candles inspire peace.

Hymn Ring a Bell for Peace VU 65

Opening Prayer:
We pray that this hour might be filled with peace and compassion. May your spirit’s presence surround us today and travel with us this week as we remember this time. Amen.

Theme Conversation The Jesse Tree: Another Seven Days
Spin Me A Story AGCS #17 v.1

Readings Joel 2:12-13, 28-29 (3:1-2)

Hymn Spirit, Spirit Gentleness VU 375

Reflection Visions & Dreams
Prophesy, visions and dreams.  Today’s gift from the lectionary reeks of peace.  Dreams come from ideals.  They are lofty and wishful.  Dreams still can be achievable, even if they are lofty. World Peace is lofty and wishful, but it’s probably more achievable than me becoming a millionaire.   Visions are dreams that come with some wisdom.  Having a vision about World Peace probably includes the knowledge that before you can have peace with others, you must have peace with yourself.  If you have your own internal conflict, how can you possibly be peaceful with others?  Prophecy is the public or vocal reminder that our dreams and visions need to be for the greater good.   We hear lots of prophetic voices on a regular basis:  advocates against child poverty and homelessness, mental health advocates, literacy advocates, lgbtq+ issues, and human rights issues.  We hear lots of “you’re doing it wrong” too, but let’s be clear: simply telling someone they are doing it wrong isn’t prophecy – that’s just getting in the way.

Bob and I have been watching a show all fall called “The Great Indoors”.  The main character in the show is a new supervisor to a group of people he simply doesn’t understand.  Sometimes he feels they are speaking another language.  He tells them they are wrong and often insinuates, if not outright says, they are stupid.  And he wonders why they have no faith in his leadership.  And it’s true.  They have great respect for him, but no faith that he has any idea about the world and what makes it tick.  In his mind, his underlings are so clueless about life in general, it is offensive to him.  I just want to sit him down and somehow find the words to explain to him that he’s never going to get anywhere using that kind of strategy.

Dreams, visions and prophecy, neither one of the three can be successful without the other two.  Dreams aren’t successful unless there’s a path to get there.  Visions and prophecy together supply that path.  Visions aren’t successful unless they are accompanied by the energy that dreams and prophecy supply.  And prophecy can’t be successful without the hope that comes from dreams and visions together.

A church is a community of people who work together on common dreams, visions and prophecies.  What are our dreams as a community of faith?  Do we have any visions?  Who are our prophets?  What are they saying? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to share our wisdom? Are we ready to dream?

Hymn Spirit, Spirit Gentleness VU 375

Minute for Mission Brunswick St Executive Director Sandra Nicholas

Offering Invitation Peace is ours to share, it is up to us to find the best way to share it.

Offertory What Can I Do? MV 191

Offering Prayer May these gifts and those given through PAR inspire peace, in our congregation, in our community, and beyond. Amen

Prayer Music Make Me A Channel of Your Peace Music Ministry

Prayers of the People Heather Starr-Williams

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle Linnea Good

November 28, 2016 – Advent 1

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Printable Advent Calendars:
Cute Donkey
Advent Unwrapped
Advent Thoughts
Praying in Color

Advent in General:
Advent Unwrapped
Patheos: What is Advent?
Proost
Rachel Held Evans: 26 Ideas for Advent
The Liturgists: Oh Light!

Narrative Lectionary:
The Working Preacher

On Advent 1:
Kathy And the World
RevGalsBlogPals: Lions and Tigers and Prayers, oh my!
Steve Thomason: Feeling Trapped?
Awesome Daniel Video
Seasons of the Nativity by Sybil MacBeth
Rex Hunt

St. Luke’s United Church
November 27th, 2016
Hope
Hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel VU v1, 4 & 7

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter (from Seasons of the Nativity)

Call to Worship:
One: We start the new year with a small light. It flickers and glows, struggling against the odds. These are days where we need all the hope we can find.
All: A single candle offers us hope.

Opening Prayer:
Spirit of Hope
May we see your presence in unexpected places and faces. We pray that we fill each other with hope and renewing our spirits. Encourage us to take the hope we receive today and share it with others. Amen.

Hymn When You See a Rainbow

The Jesse Tree: the First Seven Days

Readings Daniel 6:6-27
Luke 23:1-5

Daniel
Routinely, I sweat choosing hymns. There’s a whole process you see. If it’s a regular Sunday, there are three hymns and three choruses. Everything has to match the theme, which usually comes from the readings, but on days like today you also have to include seasonal themes. So I’m working with Daniel and Hope. But these aren’t the only guidelines that I have to work with. I do try to be respectful of the wide variety of preference that exists amongst you all. I pick one hymn from Voices United, one from More Voices, one of which needs to be upbeat and one slower. Then I make sure that there is one that was written before 1950. Do you know how many hymns exist in all of the books that Dana and I looked at that deal with Hope? How about Daniel? I’ll give you a hint – there were none that dealt with both. Two lines of a hymn, in the recesses of my memory about Daniel, one Linnea Good piece about Daniel’s friends, and very few that met the other criteria. It’s a shame really. We need more hymns about hope. There are plenty of secular songs, but not many hymns. At this time, in our particular society we need to be constantly singing songs and hymns of hope. None of this – and by this I mean any bit of Christianity, is possible without hope. Hope that we can create a world where people can live and love as their best selves without worrying. We’ve got a whole book, it’s called the Bible, of these stories…so why do we have more secular songs about hope than hymns?
We’ve heard a decent number of stories about hope this morning: the creation story, Noah, Sarah and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and even Joseph’s brothers were all hoping for something. So now we’re up to Daniel, our lectionary gift today. The Book of Daniel is an apocalyptic book, that means it’s a book with visions – kind of like a Biblical Sci-Fi.
The point of the book of Daniel is to offer hope to those who feel hopeless. When we feel ourselves being sucked in, tricked and trapped by empire, to avoid the power struggle. To realize that one person cannot control everything. It’s even true in our families. I suspect that everyone knows someone, who needs to have everything their particular version of perfect. They are upset when the children are noisy or messy, they are upset if the potatoes are a bit burned, they are upset if the big gift they ordered online has not come in, they are upset if they can’t find their favorite Christmas carol with the “right” words in the hymn book, they are upset if the light bulbs that you’ve put on the Christmas Tree for the last ten years suddenly don’t work and you can no longer purchase multi-coloured Christmas lights that don’t have blue. Christmas is bigger than all that. God is bigger than Christmas. It’s not just about who hosts the annual dinner, it’s about God’s presence in your Christmas celebrations. It’s not even about the words you use to describe God, I mean really, if there were a correct and one true way to describe God, do you really think the Bible would be as long as it is with as many books as it has? God is evident when we recognize the patterns and realize that we need to commit ourselves to breaking those patterns as we see them. I see God in so many places…in the truth and reconciliation process and in those who recognize that re-victimization that can happen when people testify. I see God in the people who have decided to stay in the US and speak up for the persecuted. I see God in the people who keep challenging us to have a dialogue about what we, as a United Church mean when we use the word “God”. I see God in our struggle as a congregation to balance tradition with the desire to model diversity and welcome all.
The passage from Daniel today reminds us that it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to step out in faith, because if you truly step out in faith, acting for the greater good, much like Daniel in coming out of the night in the den, you’ll find there’s someone else who is rooting for you and your success and will likely join you next time, if not sooner. Amen.

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Hope comes to us in many forms. I invite you to consider how you might offer hope to others.

Offertory Grant Us, God, the Grace VU 540

Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become signs of hope for others. Amen.

Communion Hymn As We Gather at Your Table VU 457
Communion this morning will be served in small groups. When the time comes, you are invited to gather your chairs in 8 circles. Communion elements will be distributed to each circle where you will be invited to serve each other. (Communion Liturgy created by Rex Hunt, adapted)
Welcome
One: May Love be with you.
All: And also with you!
One: May our hearts be opened.
All: We open ourselves to life.
One: Creator of light, Bearer of life, Source of love,
All: your ancient love stirs within us.
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.
Thanksgiving
The sacred emerges for us everywhere:
in the rhythm of the oceans
in the magnificence of the stars,
in the beauty of all beings.
All: We are grateful for the gifts of our story.
In this season, we listen for the voices crying in the wilderness.
We sing the song of angels who quiet our fears.
We find ourselves in the company of shepherds and magi
who search for what is coming to birth
in unlikely places among unlikely people.
In the company of courageous parents,
we dare to birth the holy among us.
In the divine, we live and move and have our being.
For all that is born of a sacred love,
we give our thanks and praise.
The advent of the holy is among us in every moment.
All: In Jesus of Nazareth, we see new possibilities,
new ways of being in the world.
He was moved by the plight of the poor.
He made his home with the homeless
and shared his table with those
who could not command a seat at any table.
He dreamed of a world where enemies learned to love one another,
where the abundance of creation was shared fairly,
and where love was the law of every land.
The Story
Near the end of his life,
Jesus shared a sacred tradition of his people
and shaped it into something new.
Around a simple table, he celebrated
the liberating story of Passover.
He dreamed of another revolution:
a world without a Pharaoh or a Caesar;
a world governed by the love which brought it into being.
Together with his friends,
Jesus offered the bread of hope
and the cup of compassion.
Breaking the Bread of Hope
In silence
Pouring the Cup of Compassion
In silence
The Invitation
Come from loneliness into the welcome of this table.
All: Come from anxiety into the peace of this table.
Come from tensions into the joy of this table.
All: Come from conflict into the love of this table.
Come and share the bread which leavens our hope.
All: Come and share the cup which strengthens our compassion.
Come to enliven our capacity to work for transformation.
All: Come, let us lay aside those things that shield our hearts.
Let us be open to the holy we meet
in the manger, and in the mirror.
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
The Bread and the Cup are shared with the blessing:
Bread of Hope
Cup of Compassion
After the Sharing (Adapted.Nancy L.Steeves, 2008)
Spirit of life, though we live in a world of need:
Here we have tasted hope and hunger for a world more just.
Here we have glimpsed the dream of creation renewed.
All: May we have the courage to be bread and wine for one another.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle The Good Book #18

November 20, 2016

The last of the missing bibliography weeks.  Sorry about that.  Good thing I’ve been working on a new way of tracking that sort of stuff.  No sermon, larger than usual theme conversation about learning the stories of our faith.

Links to the history on Jesse Trees:

Wikipedia

Loyola Press

Catholicculture.org

Myjessetree.com

St. Luke’s United Church
November 20th, 2016
Hymn My Lighthouse Rend Collective

Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing a special nametag.
Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering

Call to Worship:
One: Are you ready to worship?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to listen attentively?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to share openly and honestly?
Children: We are ready.
Adults: We are ready.
One: Are you ready to celebrate God and the movement of the Spirit?
Children: We are ready
Adults: We are ready.
All: Let us worship!

Opening Prayer: (Rex Hunt,
Adapted)
We have come to this quiet space
to think about our lives,
to pray for ourselves and others, and
to begin to understand each other.

May we enjoy this time together.
May it be so.
Hymn Jesus Love Me VU 365
The History of Our Faith

Readings Ruth 4:13-17

Hymn Forever Young Rod Stewart

Shoots from Roots

Our Own Outreach- St. Luke’s Community Players

Offering Invitation
Gifts can be more than money. Whatever you have to offer, your gift is special, and we appreciate it.

Offertory Ev’ry day Is a Day of Thannksgiving MV 185

Offering Prayer
For these gifts and those given through PAR we give thanks. May those who gave the gifts know that we appreciate them. Amen.

Prayer Music Lord Listen to Your Children Praying VU 400

Prayers of the People
Ending with the traditional Prayer of Jesus, found in Voices United, pg 921 or on the screen.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.
Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing Go Make a Difference MV 209