I Give Thanks for the Lord, My Shepherd.
Updated: Oct 10
Sunday, October 11th, 2020.
Preamble / info.
In these times that can be so challenging and difficult, it is absolutely essential that we pause and give thanks for all the blessings that surround us each and every day. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the news, the isolation, and the daily routines that used to be so easy and are now so tiresome. Amid all that, gratitude is the one attitude and antidote that is the sure rock that brings us closer to God. And it's so obviously important, we even get a day off for it! So, spend your day wisely, giving thanks, even though it may not look like previous Thanksgiving Days. There is indeed much to be thankful for, and there will be time enough for sorrows tomorrow.
Remember always, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor masks nor viruses, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (with apologies to Paul and the Romans for this paraphrase).
In preparation for the following service, you may want to have a candle handy (either a real candle or one of those little battery-operated ones). We always light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God.
God of all, we have set aside this day of thanksgiving, because we sometimes have difficulty remembering to be thanks-giving. So, we thank you for everything!
Open our hearts to realize where gratitude needs to be shown.
Open our spirits to share the words.
Open our lives to be your love.
As disciples of Jesus, open us to one another. Amen.
God be with you!
This setting of the 23rd Psalm is entitled Crimond, named after the town in Scotland in which the composer lived. Written by Jessie S. Irvine in 1872, this is the tune that we most often associate with this beloved Psalm. If you're a long-time fan of Coronation Street, you might remember the flinty Ena Sharples commenting about the 'new hymns' at a friend's funeral: "Them new-fangled songs might be alright for some. But for me, I'm going out to Crimond!" Traditions do indeed endure.
This is the season of creation, a time when we see the abundance of the harvest, celebrate the generosity of life, and pause and give thanks, in wonder, for the many blessings God, through this marvel of creation, offers us. Because it is good.
God created the heavens and the earth, blessed it, and said it was good.
God gave us the dark sacred night and the bright blessed day and said it was good.
God gave life to the plants and animals, birds and humans, water, land, and sky, and said it was good.
And so, with God, with all of creation, we echo God’s own words in our prayers, in our songs, in our praise, and in our very lives, and say, IT IS GOOD. Amen.
Lighting of the candle.
We light this candle to remind us of God’s abiding presence. Like the glow of this candle, God’s love shines through the darkest hours, into the deepest shadows, through the thickest gloom, bringing us to the light of Christ. Amen.
Scripture reading: Today's reading is one of the cornerstones of our faith: the 23rd Psalm. Listen to these ancient words of wisdom, presented in two versions side-by-side -- one familiar and one less so -- by Esther and Alex.
Sermon, by Rev. Dan.
Music: Lift your sail, catch the winds of God!
The sun shines down on us from an angle a little bit closer to the horizon each day -- signalling that Fall is upon us and Winter is not far behind. The streets and lawns are strewn with dabs of yellow, red, orange, and crimson as the trees shed their glory. The isolation and cautions of COVID linger like clouds that seem to block the sun, yet give no comforting shade.
In all this, we continue to be the church, to be Jesus' hands and feet in the world, to do what God will have us do to bring about God's kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.
Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continue:
Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;
Mail your cheque to the church;
Go on PAR (call Rosie for details);
Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).
May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered, be instruments of change and instrumental in God's mission in the world!
Just as the words of the Psalm have been revised and updated through the ages with new translations of the original Hebrew, so too are new musical settings. This one, by Howard Goodall, was actually composed in 1998 as the theme song for the English television comedy, "The Vicar of Dibley" That less-than-a-minute theme song proved so popular that Goodall completed the setting for full choir.
Holy, infinite, and gracious Father - God beyond all descriptions and words and God of all possibilities: embace us and lead us as you continue to transform in us the message of what it is to follow in the way of divine love. God, be our Anchor.
Abiding Spirit, comforter, companion: blow fresh breezes to clear away the cobwebs and clouds that would dim our eyes and hearts to the reality of all the blessings that surround us, the beauty that is around every corner, the companionship that is in every heart that beats. Spirit, be our wind.
Redeeming, loving, saving, Jesus: take us by the hand and help us lift our sails to steer a course from our safe harbours to explore the stormy seas of life. Jesus; be our pilot.
And as we lift our sails, we lift our hearts and prayers in concern:
For all those and us, who live in fear, oppression, anxiety, subjugation, or isolation;
For all those and us, who long for freedom, love, understanding, or acceptance;
For all those and us, who struggle with illness, grief, despair, or anger.
For a world torn apart by hatred, bigotry, racism partisanship, and war;
For a creation that is groaning under abuse, exploitation, and pollution;
And, for all the many places in the world and in our hearts that need to feel your healing presence, O God, hear our prayers and in your love, answer.
As the wind fill our sails, we fill our hearts with gratitude:
For all those and us, who have a table and food to share;
For all those and us, who extend a helping hand in friendship;
For all those and us, who take a stand for freedom, justice, and grace;
For all those and us, who give of themselves to heal and care for others;
For all those and us, who can pause, listen, and tell the sacred story and give Good News where it is needed most;
And, for all the blessings that, like the stars in heaven, are beyond counting, O God, hear our prayers and in your love, answer.
And, of all the prayers silent and spoken, we pray the one prayer that unites us in your presence:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Music: Brother James' Air is a setting of the 23rd Psalm that, though not as old as Crimond, is held in equal regard for its beautiful and lilting melody.
We are the light of God; we are the love of Christ; we are the breath of the Spirit. Let us leave this place, taking the light, love, and breath that we have been given, sharing it with one another and the world. To this, you have been called by the One who creates us, sustains us, and comforts us. Amen.
One Last Thought.
Our words, our songs, and our understanding of God change as we grow and learn in faith. We saw this in the two versions of the 23rd Psalm and the three beautiful musical settings. Which one of those settings did you like? Go back and listen to them again, if you wish, and then take our SPUC poll. No gimmicks, no surprises (or prizes), and no one will call you about having your ducts cleaned!
Don’t forget to extinguish your candle!
Watch your e-newsletters for the return of: Muffins with the Minister on Tuesday morning, Meditation & Prayer on Wednesday at noon, and the next meeting of the Book Club!
Please call the church and let us know if you're coming to in-person worship next week so we can plan appropriately.
Note that portions of this service are drawn and adapted from 'Gathering,' a worship resource published by The United Church of Canada.
Thanks to our readers this week: Alex and Esther.
Join us for coffee after church on Zoom:
Daniel Benson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: SPUC Coffee after Church
Time: Oct 11th, 2020 11:30 AM America/Toronto
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Meeting ID: 829 432 3094
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Meeting ID: 829 432 3094