- Rev. Daniel Benson
Love your Neighbour as Yourself -- Even on Hallowe'en
Sunday, October 25th, 2020.
Preamble / info.
"Love your neighbour as yourself." A lot more difficult than it sounds, right? Our neighbours, for better or worse, are our community, we don't get to choose them, but we do have to love them -- even in Covid, even with a pandemic. There are so many questions about what to do to keep our neighbours and ourselves safe. WWJD?
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 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!
Our music today consists of some well-loved old hymns, sung by Ella. If you have to ask "Ella who?" then we have to talk...
Lighting of the candle.
Scripture reading: Patsy reads the Gospel of Matthew for us.
Sermon, by Rev. Dan.
Music: This is one of the Choir's favourites at our semi-annual get-togethers where we share a great pot-luck and sing around the piano.
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!
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: Hilda told me about this one last week, as a song she remembers from her childhood and Sunday School.
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. For the Choir, and especially for Ian.
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 Thursday at 1:00 p.m. and the next meeting of the Book Club!
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: Patsy.
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 25th, 2020 11:30 AM America/Toronto
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Meeting ID: 829 432 3094
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Meeting ID: 829 432 3094