- Rev. Daniel Benson
It's Not About When, But How.
Sunday, November 15th, 2020
What happens when the bad news seems to overtake the good news, and it seems like the end of the world (as we knew it, anyway) is nigh? Pick up your shield, put on your armour, and don your helmet. But be prepared -- the challenges ahead may not be what you expect.
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.
Music for centering:
We often sing this in both Spanish and English. This video is only in Spanish, so here are the words: "Holy, Holy, Holy; my heart, my heart adores you. My heart is glad to say the words, you alone are God."
God of all, we come today with our longings and concerns, our praise and our prayers, our gratitude and our celebrations. We come to worship you as your people.
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 beautiful song celebrates the hidden gifts that God offers when we least expect it, the flower that emerges miraculously from what appears to be a lifeless bulb.
Lighting of the candle.
Scripture reading: Gord reads Scripture for us.
Sermon, "Encourage one another." by Rev. Dan.
Music: Simon and Garfunkel wrote this classic folk song about the cost of wearing our armor in the wrong way.
The sun shines down on us from an angle a little bit closer to the horizon each day -- signaling 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!
Prayer. The prayer of concern and gratitude follows in video or text format. You can follow the video version, read the text aloud yourself, or do both, as you wish.
Holy, infinite, and gracious Father - God beyond all descriptions and words and God of all possibilities: embrace 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 fills 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: It is often in the darkest moments when seem to have so little left to give, that God asks just a bit more. "Whom shall I send?" and we, like Isaiah, answer, "Here I am, Lord."
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. This version of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili has been performed and reinterpreted many times since Christopher Tin composed it some 15 years ago. This version, with the scenic "Ode to Earth" visual accompaniment, keeps us mindful of God revealed in both prayer and Creation.
Don’t forget to extinguish your candle
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 reader this week: God Farrow.
Next week we celebrate the end of the Liturgical year with Reign of Christ Sunday, a pageant of hymns and other musical gifts as we look ahead to Advent.