Where Two or Three are Gathered
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Sunday, September 6th, 2020.
Preamble / info.
Welcome, Church! In these times we are reminded more than ever, that the church is not a building but the people who come together in Jesus’ name. Therefore, I’m not saying, “Welcome to church,” but, “Welcome Church!”
In the light of the good advice from health authorities that we practice ‘physical distancing’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not worshiping in-person at the church building.
However, Jesus promises that where two or three are gathered, He will be there. So, we can gather in spirit, sharing the Word, hymns, and prayers that bind us together as followers of Jesus and people of God.
We may not be in the same room, and we may not even be doing this at the same moment in time; but, along with millions of people around the world in any number of languages, we are worshiping God and caring for one another.
In preparation, 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 of the presence and beauty of God.
God be with you!
All God's children are welcome and wanted here, no matter your need.
God will give you rest from your weariness,
comfort for your pain, ease for your burdens,
balm for your soul, food for your mind,
and hope for your tomorrow.
God's ability to tend and nurture, calm and inspire, knows no boundaries or borders;
it is endless and unending. God's love leads us out of fear and beyond the dangers. God's faithfulness abides.
In the summer of these extraordinary times, let us open our hearts and minds to God's presence.
Music: This week we're reflecting on fellowship, isolation, and the challenges of gathering together as the body of Christ -- whether online or in-person. Regardless of how we gather, we are part of the family. So, come in and sit down!
Lighting of the candle.
In the darkest of times, in the deepest shadows, the light of Christ shines brightly. The darkness cannot overcome it. So, we light a candle today, reminding us of the ever-present love of God that illuminates the world. May we be courageous in carrying this light within us, before us, and beyond us. Amen.
Scripture reading: This week's reading is very short -- a single verse. This song, which we've often sung at St. Paul's captures Matthew 18:20 beautifully. The words are few, but the meaning is deep. Sit back and listen with your eyes closed.
Sermon. "We are Not Alone," by Rev. Dan.
(I probably should've worn a differently-coloured shirt when I recorded the sermon...)
Music: As we listen to God's promise, we also seek to walk a little closer with God. A classic hymn with a country twist from Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson.
Even though the days are getting shorter and some glimpses of red can be seen amid the green, the summer suns shines brightly, perhaps relentlessly. 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!
Lord Jesus, we follow you where you lead, even to a cross on a cruel hill. As we carry our crosses this week, we are reminded of all those whose burdens and crosses are heavier than ours. We pray for the power of your resurrection spirit to be with us and them, carrying us through these days.
We especially lift in prayer all those affected by this pandemic: the sick, the grieving, the isolated, and the unsettled. Give us strength to meet these adversities with faith.
We especially lift in prayer all those working to alleviate the suffering of this pandemic: the healthcare professionals, spiritual and physical caregivers, the front-line workers, and all those behind the scenes that keep our world ticking over. Give us courage to continue to give our best.
We especially lift in prayer all those who, despite these challenging times, are living moments of joy: friends and family, health . Give us gratitude to recognize each and every blessing.
We especially lift in prayer all those who are struggling with difficulties quite apart from the pandemic: the ill, the lonely, the victims of violence of any and every kind. Give us peace to revive our souls.
In these words and the words that dwell silently in our hearts, we offer our prayers to you, O God, knowing that through Christ and in the Spirit, you listen.
Music: A reprise of a favourite from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, featuring some 300 singers and musicians from around the world.
Let us go into the world with a daring and tender heart;
let us go in peace, the world is waiting.
And whatever we do, may we do it as a Resurrection People: followers of Jesus, bearers of God’s Light, and living signs of the Spirit’s fellowship.
One Last Thought. Just because this is such a fun tune to end with. Dedicated on this Labour Day to all those who toiled away on their Underwoods, Remingtons, and Olivettis. (both videos are the same, but I've put up the second one because the first one, although much better, has occasionally frozen).
Don’t forget to extinguish your candle!
Ok -- be honest! Have you called up someone from your church family lately? Have you taken the leap to call both a friend AND a stranger from the church directory? Remember, everyone, just like you, is getting the willies from being so isolated during this Covid thing, and would love to hear from you. Yes, even you! So, do it, dammit!
No coffee time this Sunday.
Please call the church and let us know if you're coming to in-person worship on the 13th, so we can plan appropriately.