Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fear and Change Today -- A Christmas Reflection

Tonight is about birth. Tonight we celebrate the birth of a child in a manger, tonight we celebrate the birth of light in the darkness, tonight we celebrate the birth of hope that counters our fears.

And certainly there are plenty of fears out there. Fears about employment, fears about violence, fears for our children. Just open up any newspaper and you will see a litany of possible reasons to be afraid. If we let it, fear will fill our lives.

There is fear in our story too. The fear of a young woman, a teenager really, pregnant too soon. The fear of shepherds surprised by a bright light. The fear of peasants living under the thumb of the rich and powerful. And (hidden in the shadows of the story) the fear of the powerful that they will be replaced.

Underlying all these fears, the ones in the old story and the ones in our papers today, is change. Ask any parent and they will tell you that any birth means that life is changed, changed irreversibly. And change can be exciting and frightening at the same time. So on this night when we celebrate birth we also celebrate change and the possibility of change. And so the angel song and carols are coloured with uncertainty and fear.

What changes are happening in our lives today? As the economy sputters and struggles are we on the verge of birthing a new and different understanding of what makes for economic health? As people move around to find work what changes happen within families and communities? As our children grow up in a Canada where traditional industries are being replaced with knowledge industries do we wonder what their future will hold? US President-elect Obama ran his whole campaign on a promise of “Change we can believe in”. As we feel the labour pains of that changed world being born we squirm in fear and discomfort.

Christmas is all about birth. It isn't about the birth of a baby in a tiny town long ago and far away. Or at least not only about that birth. Christmas is about the birth of a changed world. It is about the Holy One being born in our midst here and now. Since every birth brings change, what changes does the Christmas birth bring?

The Christmas birth is the birth of light in the darkness. For many of us darkness is a symbol of fearfulness. The shadows hide the unknown. The shadows are where danger lurks. At Christmas light is born, light that overcomes all the darknesses of our lives. The Christmas birth is of a light which will help us find our way in a world of uncertainty.

The Christmas birth is God becoming, again, over and over, part of our world. Christmas is the promise that we are not alone, that God has not forsaken us. As the Holy One becomes incarnated in our lives we see new possibilities for how we can share this tiny blue ball called Earth. Christmas gives birth to the reality that the Reign of God is present among us – even if only in an infancy and needing to grow strong and large.

The Christmas birth is the birth of hope. It is said that the birth of any child is God saying that there is hope for the future. Christmas marks the birth of hope in a world that can, and will, and must, be a better place for all. The baby in the manger reminds us to care for the least and weakest among us. The Christmas birth reminds us of the incredible potential of childhood. This night hope is born again. Tonight hope is born that can face down the worst despair of a world in chaos and change.

And so in the midst of a world that is changing, as we face the reality of change which we can rarely control, in the fear of the unknown, what is the Good News of Christmas here in 2008? The Good News is the same as the angel message to Mary and to the Shepherds. Be Not Afraid! Fear Not! Great things are happening. For unto us, all of us, is born tonight hope, and love, and peace, and light. Christmas means birth. Birth means possibility and promise and potential. The angels don't tell us not to be afraid because there is nothing to fear. The angel message tells us not to be afraid because there is Good News that can bring light to the darkness, hope to those who despair, life where there is death, and love that overpowers fear.

Be not afraid. God is born among us again tonight. And may the light, promise and hope of Christmas carry you forward into this crazy world throughout the year that is to come. Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mary's Fear -- a reading for Christmas Eve

Don't be afraid the angel said. What a laugh. Here I am minding my own business when an angel shows up and tells me I am pregnant! How else would I feel?

I mean there were so many reasons to be afraid. Once I got over the shock of an angel appearing there was the whole being pregnant before being married thing. Who was going to believe this story? I had a friend once who got pregnant at the wrong time. The best I could hope for was to be sent away quietly, and maybe find a husband who would accept me and my child. Or I could be cast out of my house and family altogether. OR even put to death. Darn right I was afraid.

But then Joseph believed me. My parents believed me. Yeah sure there are people around town who still point and whisper when I walk by. Do they think I don't see them or know what they say? But the people who needed to believe me believed me. That is all that matters.

The other thing that helped me not be afraid was visiting my cousin Elizabeth. She was so welcoming. And while I was with her I had a sense of what wonderful things could happen. God will do wonderful things through our children! And so I sang about God's justice, I sang a song of hope for all people who find themselves poor and desolate, I sang about God turning the world upside down.

But you know what? I am still afraid. Having a baby changes everything. Am I ready to be a mother? What does it mean to raise a child in this world? There are so many things that can happen. It wasn't that long ago that a town nearby was destroyed by the Romans. Will that happen here? It is so hard to live these days, not enough food, no money, always the threat of violence. I am afraid for how Jesus will cope with that. I worry about what it will do to him. And like any parent I worry what kind of a man he will be.

My world is about to change. I am about to become a mother. And I am excited, but a little afraid too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Shepherd's Fear -- a reading for Christmas Eve

Was I afraid? You bet I was. Who wouldn't be? After all it isn't every day that the night sky is filled with angels singing!

I think we were all afraid but most of them refuse to admit it. But when that brightness filled the sky that night I know I was terrified. At first I thought there was a fire coming over the hillside but then I realized the light was up in the sky. I just fell to the ground and wouldn't look up. Who knows what might happen if I looked at that light?

Well the light didn't go away so eventually I peeked. Everyone else was huddled on the ground just like me. Even big strong Josiah, who claims that he isn't afraid of anything. Even he was cowering and whimpering in fear. And then The light spoke. “Don't be afraid”

Something about the voice gave me strength and I stood up to look more carefully at the light. As I looked closely I could see a face in the center of the light. The angel seemed to look right at me. I was still afraid but somehow it was alright now. It was a calm sort of fear, if that makes any sense.

You all know the rest of the story. How the angel told us about a baby that had been born, a baby who would be the promised Saviour, how we ran down the hill to see this baby. But it didn't stop there for me.

You see I am still afraid. All my life I have been told that we have to be careful, we have to avoid getting the Romans angry. Otherwise there will be big trouble, and people getting killed and houses burned. We struggle to survive as it is, we don't need any more trouble. But when I looked into the face of that baby I saw real power. I saw that this was a child who could bring real changes in the world. And one thing I have learned is that the people in power don't really like change – unless they control it of course.

The old stories tell us that the Promised One would change how the world works. They tell us that we will get our land back. I hope that happens. I hope things change. But I am afraid. When this little baby grows up and does what I hope he will do, what will happen? I have hope. I have hope in a new way of life where I don't have to go hungry half the time. But I am afraid of the reaction to those changes. Still it is odd, this fear and hope mixture is strangely calming. Certainly it is better than the fear and hopelessness I see all around me...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Call to Worship for January 11, 2009 -- Baptism of Jesus Sunday, Year B

The people flocked out to hear John by the river,
they must have found something there that fed them, that gave them life.
So too we continue to gather in God’s presence,
seeking to be fed, seeking new life.
The people chose to be baptised by John,
they embraced the life they had found.
We choose to grow as a baptised and baptising community,
trusting that then we will be enlivened and empowered.
Come all who hunger and thirst, now is the time to worship,
we come into God’s presence with praise and hope.
Let us pray…

For December 21, 2008 -- Be Not Afraid, Justice Shall be Done -- 4th of Advent

Just a few days now, the time is coming near.
The child will be born, and what changes he will bring!
We come in anticipation of the celebration,
we come to prepare for the new world to be born.
The birth of justice, the birth of hope, all in a baby in a manger.
We worship the God who sends him, the God of justice and peace.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God of Christmas hope, peace, joy and love, we come into your presence with praise and anxiety.
We wonder about the world this Christmas. We worry about the unfairness and hardship we see around us.
In this Christmas season speak to our anxiety and our fear,
remind us not to be afraid. Remind us of your vision for a world of peace and justice. Awaken in us an awareness that the Spirit of the Lord is at work to bring sight to the blind and liberty to the captives.
We pray this in the name of the one who proclaimed that he would bring these things to pass, Jesus of Nazareth, who taught us to pray the words we now sing together…

Offering Prayer
God who gives us so much, our hearts are filled through your grace. At Christmas, and throughout the year, we offer of ourselves that your justice and love would be spread through the world. May we always be blessed with the knowledge that we have gifts to offer, and challenged to offer what we have. Amen.

The Spirit of the Lord is among us!
Bringing justice, chasing away our fear.
God looks favourably upon God’s people.
redeeming them, lifting the lowly, feeding the hungry.
We go out as people of God,
sharing the Good News that God is active in the world, telling all we meet that there is cause for celebration, singing songs of joy for Christ is born in our midst!
As you go to prepare for Christmas celebrations carry with you the sure knowledge that God is there to celebrate with you, to strengthen and bless you always.
Thanks be to the God of Christmas! Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For December 24, 2008 -- Christmas Eve

The time has come! The promised one is nigh!
Even now the labour pains can be felt, birth is at hand!
Tonight new hope is born. Tonight the world will be changed.
Tonight we come together to sing with angels and wonder with shepherds. Tonight we celebrate the promise of new life.
We have been called to this place in hope.
We worship the one who is born in our lives this day.

Offering Prayer
God of gifts, tomorrow morning many of us will gather around brightly decorated trees,
there we will pause to open gifts lovingly shared between family and friends.
Tonight we give these gifts to the child in the manger.
Tonight we offer our treasures and ourselves to the Prince of Peace.
May the gifts we offer here be our Christmas gift to the world.
May the gifts we offer tonight and tomorrow be signs of love and hope. May they make the light of the world shine brighter. We pray in the name of the child who is born tonight. Amen.

The child is born, the labour pains start to fade.
The shepherds and the angels have sung their songs.
We go out into the night of a world being changed.
We go out to be midwives in the birth of a new world.
Birth is a scary and exciting time,
a time of wonder and hope about what will come next.
As we go out into the world that is being born we carry with us the hope we find in the child who lies in the manger. We carry with us the songs of peace, goodwill towards all. We carry with us the promise of God to be active in the world.
May we share the hope, promise, and joy of Christmas with all we meet! Christ is born! Alleluia!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For December 28, 2008 -- Sunday After Christmas

The child has been born, the angels have sung!
And the rest of the world returns to life as normal.
But the story continues,
And so we gather to hear more about the child, more about the hope he brings.
Here and now we come to sing praises to God who is active in our world.
Together we worship the God of Christmas.
Let us pray…

Offering Prayer
God, the wrapping paper has been torn and tossed; the gifts have all been opened and examined.
No, not all of them. We continue to offer our gifts all year round.
Ah yes, the gift of Christmas fills our hearts with hope.
And out of that hope we offer our time, our talent, and our treasure. May the gifts we offer spread the hope, peace, joy and love of Christmas around our community and around the world. Amen.

Comissioning/Benediction for January 4, 2008 -- Epiphany Sunday

We who have been given much go out into the world,
we go to share our gifts with the world around us.
As we go to share our gifts we go knowing that that Gift-Giver-God, has blessed, is blessing, and will continue to bless us. God be with you as you follow your stars.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For December 7, 2008 -- Be Not Afraid, Prophetic Peace be with You -- 2nd of Advent

Into the wildernesses of the world,
God speaks through wild men and prophets.
Into the chaos of the world,
God promises peace that shall be.
Into the noise of the world,
God calls to God’s people, calling them together for comfort and challenge.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God, the world is filled with troubles,
we pray for peace to fill the world.
God, sometimes we have trouble finding the path,
we pray for voices to remind us what is possible, to remind us which way to go.
God, in this time of worship,
move among us, fill us with hope, remind us that new life is being born in our world. We pray in the name of Jesus, whose birth we await. Amen.

Offering Prayer
God, with every heartbeat we come closer to the time when we celebrate the birth of a child. As we prepare to celebrate that birth open our hearts to give. May the gifts we give this Christmas season be gifts that enrich the lives of all your children. Amen.

Into the wildernesses of our world,
We are sent out, to share God’s word of hope.
Into the chaos and noise of the world,
God wants us to bring peace, prophetic peace, for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
As we go out into the world we go confident in the knowledge that God: Parent Child, and Spirit goes with us always.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

For November 30, 2008 -- Be Not Afraid, a New World is Coming -- 1st of Advent

A new year begins! New hope and promise fills the air!
We come to worship the One who makes all things new.
In the midst of the world’s trials and tribulations,
we come to be with the One who brings a new heaven and earth into being.
The Creating One, the One who births hope, calls us together.
Let us worship in song and story, food and fellowship.

God, the world around us is so troubled,
and sometimes we find ourselves afraid of what may happen.
As we gather here together move among us,
remind us of the promise of a new world where peace and justice will reign.
And in this time together,
help us to let go of our fear. Help us look forward to the time that is to come. We pray in the name of Jesus, whose birth we await. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Creating and re-creating God, with bated breath we await the birth that has been promised. As we wait we share the gifts we have been given, trusting that they will be tools for the re-building of the world. Amen.

We go from this place into a world preparing for a great celebration.
We go to prepare not just for the party but for God to break into our lives anew.
As we prepare for the birth of hope, as we prepare for a new world,
and we carry the promise to the troubled world around us.
As you go out to share God’s promise, go out knowing that God who Created and re-creates, Christ who redeems, and the Spirit which sustains goes with you always. Amen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For November 23, 2008 -- Reign of Christ Sunday

Make a joyful noise all the earth!
We come to worship with praise and thanksgiving.
Come into God’s presence in song!
We sing the songs of the faith and life.
Come to hear the word spoken, prayed, and sung!
We come to worship and be prepared for service.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God, once again we have gathered together in worship. In this time together move among us, stirring our hearts and our souls to action. Awaken in us a new awareness of how we should live and walk in your Way. May our time here equip us with the strength and wisdom to serve you and our neighbours with love. We pray in the name and Spirit of Jesus, who taught us to pray together saying…

Offering Prayer
God who has given us so much, we bring with us our gifts to share. May the sharing of what we have and are be a way that your love is made active and known in the world. Amen.

Make a joyful noise all the Earth!
We go out into the world in praise and thanksgiving.
Go out to serve God and neighbour.
We go out to feed those whose bodies and souls are hungry, to comfort the lonely and frightened, to make the love of God active in the world.
Go out knowing that the God who calls us to serve blesses and accompanies us always.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For December 14, 2008 -- Be Not Afraid, Sing For Joy -- Pageant Sunday -- 3rd of Advent

God, the world can be a truly frightening place.
And in the midst of this fear we look for Good News.
In this hour of story and song,
remind us that there is hope coming into the world. Remind us that we too can sing for joy.
This we pray in the name of the one whose birth we await, the one who taught us to pray saying…

Offering Prayer
God of new hope and birth, as we prepare again to celebrate Christmas we bring our gifts to share. May the gifts we share this season be signs of love and hope in a world of fear and despair. Amen

The world can be a terrifying place.
But there is always good news to share.
Go, tell it in the streets and alleys, tell it everywhere.
Jesus Christ is born. And so we sing for joy in the face of the world’s terror.
As you go to sing the song of joy remember that God, the source of the song, is with you always.
Joy to the World! The Lord is come. Amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Day Prayer of Invocation

God of peace, 90 years ago today the guns of war fell silent. For 90 years people have gathered on this day to give thanks for the willing sacrifice of those young men who agreed to wear the uniform of their country. We remember the battlefields of Ypres, Passchendaele, Sicily, Normandy, Korea – places far away in distance and time. We remember peacekeeping missions in many troubled places across the globe. We remember a new war with new battles in Afghanistan. And as we remember we utter the words “never again”.

God of life, in this time of prayer and song and remembering may we feel your presence among us. May our worship here re-awaken in our hearts and souls a new hope for the possibility of peace. May you fill our very beings with a vision of your justice that brings true peace to the world. Move among us here in this time together and then send us back out into the world committed to be active in the cause of peace. This we pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus of Nazareth, the one we call Christ. Amen.

For November 16, 2008 -- Proper 28, 27th After Pentecost

On the horizon a light starts to glow.
Day is at hand!
We come to face the dawn of a new day.
We come to welcome the day that God has made.
We come to worship with song and prayer.
We come with praises and hopes.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

Giver-of-all, as we wait for your day to dawn we gather in worship. In this time together may we be gifted with hope and promise for that day to come. May the sharing of Your word and presence give us the courage to find hope in the midst of chaos, dawn in the falling night. Amen.

On the horizon a light starts to glow.
Day is at hand!
Go now from this place of worship and out into the world.
We go to greet the new day. We go to tell of the dawn that is breaking.
As you go take heart. No matter how chaotic the world may seem God walks with you always. God, our help in ages past, will comfort and support you.
Our hope for years to come! Thanks be to God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

For November 9, 2008 -- Proper 27, 26th After Pentecost

God, you call us together again this day,
we come seeking to hear your wisdom, hoping to feel your presence.
God, you call us to learn about your way,
we come seeking to be renewed in our choice to follow you, to have no other gods in our life.
God, in this time together,
move among us, strengthen our hearts, send us out refreshed.
This we pray in the name of the one who taught us to pray together saying…

Offering Prayer
Gift-giving God, choosing to follow you means choosing to share your gifts. Here we offer our gifts of treasure and of our selves, praying that they would be able to spread your peace, your hope, and your love in the world. Amen.

God, we try to be people of peace,
but the world works against us and we are often unsure what peace might mean.
We try to follow you alone, putting all idols and gods aside,
but they are deceptive and innocuous and challenge our loyalties.
For those times we step off the path of wisdom,
forgive us we pray.
...time of silent prayer…
God is merciful and loving. God does not condemn but offers us forgiveness and second chances. We are a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Service Music for Advent/Christmas 2008

Offering for Advent (tune= Away in a Manger):
O Christmas is coming, the season is here.
Of folks buying presents for friends far and near.
To you God incarnate our gifts now we bring.
We lay them before you while praises we sing.

Offering for Christmas (tune= Away in a Manger):
O Christmas has come now the baby is here.
He lies in the manger the Saviour most dear.
To you child of Mary our gifts now we bring.
We lay them before you while praises we sing.

Closing for Advent:(tune=Good King Wenceslas)
Have no fear be full of hope, the Christ-child is coming.
Hope he brings to all our hearts, praises we are humming.
As we prepare for the birth, let our hearts learn to trust.
We will never have to fear, God is walking with us.

Closing for Christmas:(tune=God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) (first written 2007)
God bless you all as you go out
To share the Christmas joy
To tell of peace and love and hope
Born with a baby boy
And may we pass God’s love along
As if in God’s employ
O Christmas has come to us again, come again
O Christmas has come to us again

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Be Not Afraid -- Advent Candle Liturgy

THe sung piece while the candles are lit is #90 in More VOices "Don't Be Afraid"

Advent 1 – November 30, 2008 – Be Not Afraid a new world is coming
(one person reading paper, tosses it down in disgust)
Reader 1: What's the matter?
Reader 2: Oh I just find the news so depressing these days. It seems that there is nothing but bad news out there.
Reader 1: I know what you mean. Between mill closings and stock market news and street shootings in Toronto it sounds really bad doesn't it.
Reader 2: You said it. Sometimes I wonder if it is really worth trying to improve things any more.
Reader 1: Oh it is always worth trying to make the world better. And things will get better. I am sure of it.
Reader 2: How can you be so sure?
Reader 1: I guess I just have faith. Remember that the Bible keeps telling us that there is a new time coming, a new world? Well I just believe that is true and that the new world will be better.
Reader 2: You really think so? I am not sure. I wish I could be as sure as you are but I am afraid for us right now.
Reader 1: Don't be afraid. God is with us even when the world seems to be falling apart. And all will be well some day.
Reader 2: I hope so. As we light a candle as a sign for our hope in that new world let's sing the song on our insert “Don't Be Afraid”. In fact, let's sing it twice.
(they light 1 purple candle and then return to their seats while the song is sung)

Advent 2 – December 7, 2008 – Be Not Afraid Prophetic Peace be with you
Reader 1: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Reader 2: And also with you. But what do you mean?
Reader 1: Pardon? I don't know what I mean. I was just following the minister's instructions to pass the peace.
Reader 2: But what does “the peace of Christ” mean?
Reader 1: Well, uh, uh, I guess it means everybody getting along and being nice to each other and...well(trails off) Why are you asking?
Reader 2: Well I was reading about the prophets the other day, and they don't always sound peaceful. Sometimes they sound really angry. Sometimes they talk about people getting punished. John the Baptist talks about axes and fires attacking people...
Reader 1: Really, well is that all?
Reader 2: No, they talk about these things happening to bring peace to the world, to make the world a better place.
Reader 1: Maybe that is what we mean by the peace of Christ. That time after the struggle and change.
Reader 2: Maybe. Anyway, it's time to get on with the rest of the service. What say we light some candles for peace while we sing the song on the insert a couple of times.
(they light 2 purple candles and then sit down while the song is sung)

Advent 3 – December 14, 2008 – Be Not Afraid sing for joy
Reader 1: (sings 1st verse of Joy to the World)
Reader 2: How can you sound so happy?
Reader 1: What do you mean?
Reader 2: Well with everything that is happening around us. With all the bustle of trying to get ready for Christmas. How can you be so happy and relaxed?
Reader 1: It's Christmas! How can anyone be anything but happy? All I need to do is look at the excitement of the kids and the bright lights and listen to the cheery music. Then it is easy to be happy.
Reader 2: But aren't you worried?
Reader 1: Sometimes I am. None of knows for sure what next year will bring.
Reader 2: But you're happy anyway?
Reader 1: Yep. I made a choice to not let the worry take over. God is coming to live among us as a baby. That's more than enough reason to sing!
Reader 2: You made a choice?
Reader 1: That's right. I chose joy and hope over fear and worry. It's Christmas! Don't be afraid, sing instead. In fact let's light candles while we sing the song in the bulletin about not being afraid. We will sing it twice.
(they light 2 purple candles and the pink candle and then sit down while the song is sung)

Advent 4 – December 21, 2008 – Be Not Afraid Justice shall be done
Reader 1: You know, sometimes I think that life really isn't fair.
Reader 2: Why do you say that?
Reader 1: Well the news keeps telling us that the rich get richer while the poor fall farther behind. It sometimes seems that nobody really works for the people who have the least. It just isn't fair.
Reader 2: Well you know, nobody ever promise life should be fair. But you are right. It just doesn't seem right that so many people have so little to live on.
Reader 1: No it doesn't. Where is the justice in all of it? Aren't things like food and shelter basic to life? Why don't we find a way for everyone to get them? When the revolution comes...
Reader 2: (interrupting) Ok ok, down off the soapbox. Take a breath. I agree with you. Well maybe not the revolution part, but I do agree with you. And you know what?
Reader 1: What?
Reader 2: God agrees with you too. God wants us to live in a time of justice when everybody has what they need to live.
Reader 1: Really?
Reader 2: Yep. The Bible talks about it all the time. It is a big part of what people of faith pray and work for. And I really believe it will happen some day.
Reader 1: I hope it happens soon. I am afraid of what might happen if things don't change.
Reader 2: Oh try not to be afraid. Fear gets in the way a lot. While we light candles to remind us of God's light and justice why don't we sing “Don't Be Afraid” which is on the insert in the bulletin. We'll sing it twice.
(they light all 4 of the candles in the wreath and then sit down while the song is sung)

Christmas Eve – December 24, 2008 – Be Not Afraid the Baby means Change
Reader 1: Christmas Eve is here at last. Soon we will hear about angels and shepherds.
Reader 2: And the angels will remind all of us not to be afraid.
Reader 1: The candles on our wreath remind us not to be afraid to. One reminds us to not be afraid of the bad news around us because a better world is coming (lights a purple candle)
Reader 2: And this one reminds us to not be afraid of the tough choices and changes that need to come before we have peace in the world. (lights second purple candle)
Reader 1: This pink candle reminds us that even when the world is going crazy we can choose to be less afraid, we can choose to sing for joy (lights pink candle)
Reader 2: And this last candle reminds us that when we work past the fear we can see God's hope for justice in the world. (lights last purple candle)
Reader 1: Now there is only one candle left. The one in the middle.
Reader 2: That's right. What does it remind us of?
Reader 1: Well Christmas is about a baby right? And a baby means change right? Well some people think that change is very scary.
Reader 2: SO let's light this candle to remind us of the Baby, and of the changes that might happen, and to not be afraid of those changes (lights center candle)


Time to plan for Advent. The theme I am working with this year is Be Not Afraid

Nov 30 -- Be Not Afraid, a new world is coming
  • Isaiah 65:17-23
  • Revelation 21:1-4 (Responsive Reading)
  • Mark 13:24-37
Dec 7 -- Be Not Afraid, Prophetic Peace be with you
  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Psalm 72 (VU p.790)
  • Luke 3:7-18
Dec 14 -- Be Not Afraid, sing for joy
  • Pageant Sunday
Dec 21 -- Be Not Afraid Justice shall be done
  • Luke 1:47-55 (VU p.898)
  • Luke 1:68-79 (VU p.900)
  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Dec 24 -- Be Not Afraid, the Baby means change
  • Isaiah 9:2-7
  • Luke 1:26-38
  • Luke 2:1-14
Candle liturgy (hopefully) coming soon...

Monday, October 27, 2008

For November 2, 2008 -- Proper 26, 25th After Pentecost

In the midst of the storms of life we hear it.
God calls us to faith.
As the waters rise we hear it again.
God calls us to fellowship.
When the flood threatens to overwhelm us we hear it again.
God calls us to gather in prayer and praise. Let us worship together…

God of floods and droughts, God of abundance and plenty, God of hope and promise, once again we gather for worship. In this time of prayer, and singing, and reflection move among us. Stir in our hearts the courage to move forward when the way is hard. Stir in our souls the ability to trust in your promise. We pray in Jesus’ name as we sing together the words he taught to his friends…

Offering Prayer
Gracious God, we have received so much. Here and now we offer some of what we have to help the world around us wade through the floods that assail us. May the gifts we give be tools that build bridges to new life. Amen.

God, often in life the road seems hopelessly blocked.
the river of hardship floods and we despair of being able to cross.
In those times when we stare at the raging waters and give up, give us courage.
Lead us to take those first steps into the deluge, help us wade into the waters of life.
In those times when no amount of coaxing will let us get our feet wet, when the fear of being washed away overwhelms our will to go forward,
forgive our reluctance, strengthen our courage, we pray.
…time of silent prayer…
No matter what torrents flood our paths God is there. God offers forgiveness and strength as we wade out into the flood.
Thanks be to God. Hallelujah!

The road lies before us; we just need to cross the river.
The river is broad but God will help us to cross.
And on the other side lies our hope and our promise.
When we cross the river we will share the gifts of God: love, life, and laughter with all we meet on the far side.
So go, Wade in the Water, trusting that God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer wades with you.
Thanks be to the wading God. Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

For October 26, 2008 -- Proper 25, 24th After Pentecost

God calls to our hearts,
the source of our feelings, the core of our being.
God calls to our souls,
the home of our spirit, the place where we sense that there is more than we can see.
God calls to our minds,
the place of reason, of intellect, where we think through the challenges of life.
God calls to our strength,
our ability to make things happen, to work and to serve.
God calls to our whole being,
calling us to be people of faith, hope, and love. Let us worship the God who calls us together…

God, you call us to be people of love. You call us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. During this time of worship fill our hearts with Your love. As we sing and pray and listen may we hear You voice reminding us we can and do live out your amazing love in our lives. We pray in the name of the one who came to teach us about the power of love and who taught his friends to pray together saying…

What must we do to live in God’s way?
Love God, love neighbour, love ourselves.
As people of faith we go out to make that love an action, not a feeling.
We go out to bring the love of God to a hurting world.
As you go, know that the threefold God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer is with you always.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope for an Anniversary Service

God of our past, we gather today to give thanks for the past.
We think back to those who first had a vision of a church in this place,
to those who put their names on a loan so it could come to happen,
to those who gave of their labour, their treasure, their time to make it happen.
And as we remember the efforts of the founders and builders we offer words of thanks and praise

God of growth, we remember too those who helped the new church to grow in wisdom and in faith.
And so we think of study group leaders, clergy, choir directors, Sunday School teachers, and many others who provided leadership.
We remember Elders, Stewards, Board and committee members, men and women who stepped forward to provide governance and leadership.
And for all these varied forms of leadership we are grateful.

God of community, we remember events that brought us together;
Ham Suppers, Fall Suppers, Bazaars, BBQs, potlucks, picnics and many more.
And for the gifts of friendship and fellowship we say thanks.
We think also of the many groups that have met in this space:
UCW, Scouts, CGIT, Guides, Mothers-Off-Duty, Hi-C, Mens Breakfast Club.
Groups that provided times of fellowship and times of growth in community.

And in this time of memory we take special note of Camp Freeman.
God of Creation, we give great thanks and praise for many weeks spent on the lakeshore as a community of faith.
For leaders young and old, for campers, for all who worked behind the scenes planning and preparing, for the wonder that is church camping we are wondrously grateful.

God of our present, on this day we remember all that led this congregation to this day.
For 55 years of ministry to and with this community, for 55 years of growing together in love, for all that has made us what we are now, we give you thanks, we give you praise.

*A STATEMENT OF FAITH ABOUT THE CHURCH (insert—taken from A Song of Faith)

God of our present and our future, as we gather here today we look for hope.
The future is uncertain, we wonder what it will bring.
Fill us with a vision for what we could be.
Give us hope for our congregation and our community.
Help us find the choices that lead to life in abundance.

God of hope, in a time of uncertainty we so often fall into fear and worry.
Show us the opportunities in our chaotic world,
remind us to consider seriously where our priorities and loyalties lie,
push us to see how our choices matter, and then fill us with hope in a new heaven and a new earth.
God of our future, may we walk boldly into what may come, as people, not only of faith, but of hope.
May we share your hope and promise with the world in which we live.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Election Prayer

God of community, you call us to live in peace with each other,
on this eve of an election we hold our brothers and sisters in prayer.
As we head into the voting booth may we all be blessed with wisdom.

Grant us the wisdom to consider carefully the future path of our country,
to choose the party and the candidate who we feel most clearly shares our vision of that future,
and, when the counting is done, to offer support to those who are elected -- even when we don't agree with their positions or their choices.

We pray for those who have let their name stand.
May they be gracious both in victory and in defeat.
May they move past the voting day committed to making this country a better place, a fairer place, a place where more people can live in abundance and justice.

Gracious God, on October 15 may we look back on the results in acceptance,
may we look forward to the future with hope,
may we share the knowledge that Your vision for the world lives not in any political philosophy but in the vision and hearts of the faithful.
Help us to always work towards that day when the words Your kin-dom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven are more than just lines we mumble in prayer.
May they become a reality in the world.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Sermon

Open singing the chorus:
Da-da-yeinu, da-da-yeinu
Da-da-yeinu, Dayeinu dayeinu
Da-da-yeinu, da-da-yeinu
Da-da-yeinu, Dayeinu dayeinu

That is the chorus of a traditional Jewish Passover song. Dayeinu means “it would have been enough”. Each of the 15 verses lists one of the great gifts God gives during the Exodus story and then says “Dayeinu”.

At Thanksgiving it seems a good time to ask what would be enough? What would have us cry out “Dayeinu”? Do we have an awareness of what enough might be anymore? Is that what gets in the way of thankfulness? Partly perhaps. Hold on to that thought. We'll come back to “enough”. But first let's look at thanks giving and what might get in the way.

Last year at this time we were wondering if Fibratech would survive. Last year AFP was still running. This year both are closed. This year the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving have been filled with news stories about financial meltdown and possible, even probable recession. What does it mean to be thankful in such a time as this? What is there to be thankful for?

It has been said that there are only two basic prayers. One is “Help” and the other is “thank you”. And yet it always seems so much easier to remember the first and forget the second. In bad or troubling times it is far easier to wonder what will come next, to wonder if we are going to get out of this mess than to stop and count our blessings But it is only when we count our blessings that we remember to give thanks.

The Scriptures we have just heard speak to the difficulty in saying thanks in the good times. In Luke we hear the story of some lepers who are made clean. To be made clean means to be re-admitted to the community. In their excitement and joy they forget to come back to give thanks – the only one who does is an outsider already, a Samaritan who would be unable to follow the instructions Jesus gives anyway. The story reminds us to pause in the times of unexpected joy to remember our blessings.

Deuteronomy highlights a different, and likely a more common issue. Deuteronomy warns the people “do not forget!”. Amnesia is the great threat. When all the great things of the land have come true there is the temptation to forget that the land is a gift from God. When times are good it is too easy to take the blessings for granted. When times are good it is to easy to believe the age-old myth – so prevalent in North American social thought – of the “self-made person”. Foreseeing that temptation, Moses says to the Israelites “DO NOT FORGET”. Moses warns the people to always remember that God has done all these things for them , to always remember that they did not get where they are by themselves or by their own efforts. It is only when we remember our blessings that we can remember to give thanks.

In a way this brings us back to (and answers) the question of how do we give thanks in a world of chaos. When employment is scarce, when families wonder where the next month's rent will come from, when the news fills us with worry and anxiety about the future, how then can we fill our hearts with thankfulness, with praise, with gratitude? How do we give thanks when we see so many reasons to not give thanks?

How? Well the same wisdom that we find in Luke and in Deuteronomy still holds. We can only give thanks when we take time to remember what we have to give thanks for. In times of uncertainty and chaos we need to intentionally think about what blessings we do have. We need to clearly name our blessings so that we are able to give thanks. And so that brings us back to the question of “what would be enough?”. In this era of crisis, what is it enough for God to have done? What gifts make us sing dayeinu?

1) If our God had merely made us
Formed us, blew life's breath into us
Simply gave us our existence
As Fraulein Maria told the Von Trapp children: “Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”. Our story starts with creation and so we give thanks to Creator God for life itself. If God had only given us the gift of life and set us free to face whatever life threw at us by ourselves even that clockmaker God would be worthy of our thanks and praise. Even just life itself and nothing else would have been enough.

2) If our God had only fed us
Gave us food and drink to nourish
Fruits of earth for us to cherish
Later today, or perhaps tomorrow, many families will be sitting down at tables full of food. For many people the feast almost seems to be the main purpose for Thanksgiving – well that or the opening of moose season. But when you think about it, when people of faith gather together for a meal how does the meal start? With grace, with a prayer of thanks. Even before we know if the food is good or not we give thanks that there is food. God not only gave us life, God gives us that which we need to sustain life. Thanksgiving is seen as a harvest festival by many to celebrate the miracle of growth but also because we know that even if God had only provided us with food that would have been enough.

3) Or if God had brought us freedom
Freed us from sin and oppression
Merely made us free for service
Freedom. An old Star Trek episode called that a worship word. And indeed the faith story is one of freedom. God frees the people of Israel from slavery, reminding us that God's vision is of a world where none struggle with oppression. God commands that no member of the community is ever to be bound in servitude forever, reminding us of a different economy, one where our value is in our existence not our productivity. God redeems those who are exiles, reminding us that we can always come home again. And God frees us from guilt and shame and sin, reminding us that there is always a new start, a second chance to get it right. Freedom, that indeed would have been enough.

4) If our God gave us companions
Family and friends for comfort
So that we would not be lonely
The three “peoples of the Book” as Muhammed called us (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) share many things. We share a common God. We share a similar morality. We share a community focus. Our faith is not one that can be lived in isolation. Our faith calls us to live in community, caring for and with each other, being cared about by each other. In wedding sermons I often comment on the fact that humanity seems hardwired to seek out companionship and support. And God creates us so that this companionship and support is available. For community, for friends and family, we give thanks. And indeed that would have been enough.

5) Or if God gave us vocations
Tasks to do that give life meaning
Helped us feel that we had purpose
We all need to feel useful. We all need to know that our lives have meaning and purpose. Some of us find that in our career, but not always. But each of us has a vocation (that is with an o, not vacation with an a). There is something, or a set of somethings, each of us can do that make a difference in the world. When we discover what God is calling us to do and find a way to do that then we feel much better. For the knowledge that we have a purpose, for those things that make life meaningful rather than just existing, we give thanks. And most certainly all these things would be enough, dayeinu.

But of course the great cause for Thanksgiving is not that God does all these things. The greatest cause for thanksgiving is that God does them all over and over again and more. On Thanksgiving Day we pause again to think of all the ways that God gives us life in great abundance. God continues to bless us over and over and over. And in response to all these blessings we say thank-you not only once a year but regularly, daily, whenever we are made aware of our blessings. And for each of those blessings we say not only thanks but dayeinu, it would have been enough.

6) But our God provides more blessings
Gives us life in great abundance
And so daily we say thank-you

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Prayers for an Anniversary Service

God who calls us to be the church in this place and time, we come together to celebrate Your presence among us. In this hour, as we sing and pray and listen, may you awaken in us a hope for the future. May our time together remind us why the church is needed in the world. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Gift giving God, for 55 years we have gathered in this place to share what we are and have. Help us continue this sharing of our time, talent, and treasure. May the gifts we give be gifts of Love. May they increase the power of Love in the re-creation of the world. Amen.

We go back out into the world to love and serve the world around us,
just as we have done for 55 years, so we continue to do so.
We go out held in the loving arms of God who Creates, Redeems, Supports, and Sustains us.
We are not alone! Thanks be to God. Amen.

Offering Prayer for Thanksgiving

Offering Prayer
God who has given us so much, here and now we offer our gifts in thanksgiving for what we have been given. May our hearts rejoice in the opportunity to share your gifts with the world. Amen

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For October 5, 2008 -- Worldwide Communion Sunday, Proper 22

God calls us to live according to rules that build community.
But sometimes we find it hard to remember what they are.
God calls us to ensure everyone has what they need for life.
But greed and self-interest often make us forget to ask.
God, when we forget the way, when we care more for our own wants than the needs of all,
forgive us, lead us back to the Way of peace and justice.
…time of silent reflection…
God’s justice and mercy expand beyond our understanding. God’s abundant love brings forgiveness and a new start. We are loved, we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Hallelujah!

Offering Prayer
God who has given us life in abundance, we share here from what we have been given.
May these gifts of our time, our money, our very selves be ways to bring your peace and justice to the earth. Amen.

We have eaten and drunk at the table of plenty.
We have been fed, we have received our daily bread.
Now we go out to feed the hungry.
Now we go out to quench the thirst for justice and peace.
As you go out to serve, go secure in the knowledge that God who offers all we need for life in abundance, goes with you in all your labours.
We are not alone! We walk and work with the God of the feast! Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

For September 21, 2008 -- Proper 20, 19th After Pentecost

We have been called and we have come,
but where are we, where are we going?
We find ourselves in a wilderness time, and the future is uncertain,
will we have everything we need? Were we better off before?
We need hope, we need faith, we need trust.
God has brought us here, God will take us forward, let us worship the God of the journey.

God of the desert, the urban jungle, the wilderness places, we come together again in worship. During this time of prayer and singing and listening reawaken in us the hope of the unknown. May this time together empower us to go forward boldly even when we want to go back to the familiar. Amen.

Offering Prayer
God, these pieces of paper and metal only have the meaning we give them,
And so we choose to give them properties like hope, love and freedom. May these gifts, and we the givers, be active in your changes in the world. We give them in gratitude for what we have received. Amen.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON (adapted from Seasons of the Spirit)
God, we stand at the brink of what has been and what is yet to be.
We long to receive the gift of your liberation
and to taste the sweetness of your promises.
But the way forward is unknown and so we hesitate:
discouraged, frightened, insecure, complaining.
Yet we know we must move ahead on our journey.
When the uncertainty of change leads us to call for a return to what we used to know,
Forgive our grumbling and our fear.
When we choose our comfortable chains over the possibility of freedom,
Forgive our reluctance to try something new.
Help us move past our fears and inertia into the world of hope and promise.
...time of silent prayer...
God leads us into the wilderness of the unknown but God knows that we are afraid. God works with us, not giving up when we grumble but constantly calling us forward as forgiven people.
We are forgiven, we are freed, thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, September 8, 2008

For September 14, 2008 -- Proper 19, 18th After Pentecost

Through the years and miles of time,
God calls God’s people together.
Amidst the trials and struggles of life,
God’s people gather to share the promise of freedom.
The God of freedom and justice is with us,
come, let us worship together. Let us pray…

Gracious God, to people fleeing from Pharaoh’s oppression you brought hope and victory.
The cloud and the fire led them and let them know they were not alone.
In this time together remind us of the signs in our world that you are with us.
Remind us that we too can hope for freedom.
May the time we spend here push us to search for a new way, a way where all find freedom without causing others to weep.
This we pray remembering the one who leads us to such a time, Jesus of Nazareth, who taught his friends to pray by saying…

Offering Prayer
God of freedom, you have given so much,
and with grateful hearts we share our abundance with the world.
Through these gifts:
May others be set free from whatever enslaves them;
may justice spread in a troubled world;
may Your love and peace fill our lives and the lives of those we meet. Amen.

Standing by the shore, Moses told the people to walk forward into the water.
And in wonderment and fear and trust they did so.
We always stand on a shore of the unknown.
And God calls us to step forward boldly
So step out to share the news that we are given freedom, freedom for all without revenge against “the other”.
We go out to share God’s promise with all who are in chains.
And go out knowing that God; our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, is with us always and all ways.
Praise to God in whom we find our hope! Amen.

Monday, September 1, 2008

For September 7, 2008 -- Proper 18, 17th After Pentecost

From the late summer sun and the early harvest,
we come to give thanks to the Creator.
From the busy-ness of our daily lives,
we come for a time of centering and renewal.
From a culture that remains overly focused on the present,
we come to join in the memories and practices passed on to us from those who went before.
From a world that is often given to despair,
we come to be reminded that there is always hope.
We have gathered together in God’s presence, in God’s name.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God, another Sunday has come, and once again we meet with you and each other.
As people who bear your image and your name we seek to be renewed and fed in heart and soul.
Here, in this place we remember the old stories of the faith.
Here, in this place, we hear again how you have been present and active in the world.
During this time together, open our eyes, hearts, and minds to your presence and your possibilities,
and send us out as people of hope, ready to face the future.
Remind us that amongst the busy-ness of the present we need to be mindful of the past and the future as well.
Help us to be people of memory and of hope.
This we pray in Jesus’ name as we share together the words he taught his friends long ago…

We have heard once again the old stories.
We go out reminded that God is with all who struggle.
We have been reminded that we are people of hope.
And so we go out to share that hopefulness with others.
As you go to share the hope for freedom and redemption with the world remember that you do not walk alone. May God bless you and keep you every step of the way.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sermon Links

SOme story sermons have previously been posted on this blog. HEre are some links to other sermons of mine:

The God Delusion (preached September 16, 2007)
On Life, and Life After Death, and Mystery (preached November 2004)
Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything? (preached April 2, 2006)

A Wedding Meditation

A meditation written for an upcoming wedding. Thanks to LutheranChik for the story that opens it:

Along the fence line of a farmer’s field grew several "volunteer" apple trees -- whether they got there via passing birds or farmers tossing discarded apple cores along the fence, who knows. Anyway, one of the trees was actually two trees -- the apples on either side were different colors and shapes and flavours. But over the years the two tree trunks had grown together in such a way that they couldn't be separated; they were distinct, yet also one. Perhaps the metaphor for a good marriage -- grounded in the same "soil," growing in the same direction, yet maintaining the uniqueness and personal integrity of both parties.

Marriage is a blending of two individual lives to be shared each with the other. K and Q, today you stand up in front of all these people and pledge to share each other’s lives: the good and the bad, the fast growth and the slow, the warm and the cool. Today you plant a tree to symbolize your life together, trusting that as the tree grows so will your love.

What does it take for a tree to grow? It needs roots that seek out and absorb water and nutrients. It needs a trunk that is both strong and flexible – “strong enough to bend” as the song goes. It needs branches and leaves that reach for the sky, gathering the energy of the sun and transforming it into food. It needs the right environment: enough water (but not too much), the right type of soil, protection from the harshest weather and from insects. And it needs time, time to develop, time to get stronger.

What does it take for a marriage to grow? It needs to be rooted in love, with roots that seek out nourishment for both partners. It needs strength to withstand the storms of life but also flexibility so that it bends when needed. It need partners who reach out for the light in the world, pulling in what is healthy and good to feed the hearts of them both. It needs people who cultivate it, who keep the conditions good, who protect it from attack, and help each other heal from the scars that life throws at us. And it needs time, time for the relationship to grow deeper and stronger.

It is a fact of nature that not every acorn grows to be an oak, not every cone becomes a pine. Some never germinate, some start to grow but for on reason or another are stopped. Some grow for but a while and some become tall and mighty, providing shelter to many. Yet in every acorn, every cone there is the potential for a mighty tree.

Relationships are the same. Some never get started. Some are started but because the conditions aren’t quite right they end soon afterward. And some, the ones where the conditions are right, where the care is taken to ensure growth become strong and long-lasting, providing shelter and comfort not only to the partners but to others around. In marriage we work to create these relationships, well rooted, with a broad canopy of loving support.

Growing such a marriage is not always easy. In every life there are storms that toss us around. In every life there are bumps along the road. The challenge is not to avoid all of them. The challenge is to sway with the wind, to absorb the bumps, to work through the tough times. After all none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. But in marriage we promise to love and support each other flaws and all.

Q and K, today as you start the shared life that is and will be your marriage, may you grow strong together. May your marriage be rooted in the love that Paul describes saying it “bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. May you grow in love together over the years.
And as you grow together remember that there is a third strand to the cord of your lives together. If you try to make a braid from two strands you will find that it doesn’t hold, but if you add a third strand the braid is given strength and stability, less likely to break or to unravel. God is present in this covenant of marriage as that all-important third strand, the one that adds strength when the others are stretched to the breaking point.

K and Q, may you both be strong enough to bend. May you reach out together for the sky. And may you always be blessed because you are together: to pick each other up, to keep each other warm, to share the joys and sorrows of life. And may God be with you today and always, for God is love. Amen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For June 29, 2008 -- Proper 8, 7th After Pentecost

God who numbers the hairs on our head,
we come into your presence to sing and worship.
God of life, and that in abundance,
we come to hear again how you would have us live.
Gracious God, in this time together,
fill us with hope, awaken in us the possibilities of your Way, and send us out renewed in purpose for speaking your Truth and sharing your Love. Amen.

God, you call us to a daring and radical discipleship,
but often we would rather take a safe and popular road.
You call us to be ready to risk being unpopular, causing dissension among our family and friends,
and we confess that we prefer to tone down your Word for the sake of peacefulness.
You call us to share boldly the promise and possibility of faithful living
But we confess that we are afraid of what the consequences of such boldness might be.
…time of silent prayer…
Over and over again God tells us not to be afraid. Over and over again God reminds us that there is a path to New Life. God calls us back to that path no matter how often we turn aside. We are a forgiven people!
Thanks be to God! Amen.

From June 26, 2005 -- Proper 8, 6th AfterPentecost

This comes from the archives since we aren't dealing with the Genesis story this year. A Confession Prayer based on the sacrifice of Isaac:
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his Beloved Son Isaac,
And we give thanks that we no longer sacrifice human beings.
But then we think of those who are let fall through the cracks. We remember the ones who are left homeless so that our taxes stop going up. We remember the ones who are underpaid for their labour so we can have cheaper products. And somewhat chastened we say:
Well at least we don’t sacrifice our own children.
Or do we? For then we think of our reluctance to change how the world operates, a reluctance which degrades the natural world our children will inherit. And we think of those parents whose dreams for their children drives them to push so hard for academic, athletic, or artistic success that the desires of the child get lost. And thoroughly chastened we say:
Thank you God, that you do not require such sacrifice.
And in so saying we ignore the sacrifices that are asked, preferring the known to the unknown, the old to the new, the comfortable to the risky. And so we say:
God, help us to know what sacrifices to make, and not to make.
(time of silent prayer)
Here then is Good News. Rather than condemning us for the sacrifices that we do and don’t make God keeps calling us back. We are forgiven and restored. We have another chance to live in God’s Way.
Thanks be to God who is Love. Hallelujah! Amen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

For June 22, 2008 -- Proper 7, 6th After Pentecost

In the busy-ness of the city,
We strain our ears to hear God’s voice
In the wild-ness of the forest,
We pause to sense God’s presence.
In all the wilderness places and times of life,
We find that God is with us, to guide and to comfort.
Here, now, in this place and time,
We come to hear God’s voice, sense God’s presence, and seek God’s comfort.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God of the wild places in our world,
We come to this place to share your presence and hope with our friends and neighbours.
God of the wildness in our hearts,
We come to this place seeking peace.
God of Life, in whom we live and move and exist,
As we come together, may You be a part of our circle. As we sing and pray and listen may You remind us that there is always hope. Amen.

We have left the comfort of home to come to the lake,
And have found that God is here.
We go out to live in a world that has many types of wilderness
We go trusting that God is in all of them
And as we go into the wilderness places of life, we go carrying the hope and the promise of God.
With that luggage on our travels we can bring hope where there is despair and light into the darkness.
Go out secure in the knowledge that God is always with you, go out trusting that you are not alone.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

For June 15, 2008 -- Proper 6, 5th After Pentecost

God, you call us to be people of character,
but the struggles that are said to grow character are often hard to take.
Or sometimes the suffering doesn’t seem worth the reward.
and so we would rather avoid them altogether.
Help us to remember that growth comes with work and a price.
As we struggle with life’s lessons keep us filled with hope.
And when we are tempted to give up and give in,
give us the strength to endure and forgive us when we fall short of the task.
…time of silent prayer…
Listen, for here is Good News. God is constantly working to help us grow in faith. As we grow we meet with success and failure. But still God helps us grow. We are constantly forgiven and given a new start.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For June 8 2008 -- 4th Sunday After Pentecost

Disclaimer: These resources are not based on the lectionary readings for the day.

Begin by playing a few rounds of Uyai Mose (MV #2)
Uyai mose, tinamate mwari. Come all you people, come and praise your Maker.
We come to worship, we come to be refreshed, we come seeking hope.
Come, now is the time to give our heart
We come to recommit ourselves to the Divine purpose for life.
Uyai mose zvino, Come, let us worship our God
We come to worship with prayerful hearts. Let us pray…

God of the wild winds, God of the calm waters, God of the green trees and bright flowers,
we gather here in your presence to sing songs of praise.
In our time of worship move among us we pray,
filling our hearts with hope for the present and for the future, filling our beings with purpose, filling our souls with energy.
May this hour leave us better able to be your face in the world. So be it. Amen.

Creating God, our Source of Life in abundance, you have given us many gifts in life. Here and now, as part of our worship, we return them to you. May the gifts we share, time and talent and treasure, be ways that our faithful lives become vehicles for your faithful Love. Amen.

Our worship has ended, our work continues
We go from this place to share the hope of God with a world too often given to despair.
And when the going gets rough?
Yes what about when the going gets rough?
When the going gets rough may you be strengthened by the knowledge that the God we meet in worship is the God we meet in the world. May you walk with God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer every step of life’s journey. Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

For May 18, 2008 -- Trinity Sunday

In the darkness and the chaos of the beginning,
God spoke words of light and life.
And still the Creating Spirit flows through the world,
bringing us hope, bringing us promise.
Come, let us worship the Creator, the Source of all Being, the Fountain of Life. Let us pray…

Offering Prayer
Creator and Re-creating God, you have given us the earth, the air, the water, life itself. In gratitude and humility we give back from our abundance, that your life and love and hope would spread throughout your Creation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For May 4, 2008 -- Easter 7

In the wild places of the world, the voice sounds,
calling people to gather in God’s name.
In the wilderness times of our lives, the voice sounds,
calling us to an awareness of God’s presence.
In times of trial and suffering the voice still sounds,
reminding us that we are not alone.
The Voice has called us together, called us to worship. Let us pray…

Offering Prayer
Life-blessing and Sustaining God, even in the midst of hardship we are surrounded by blessings. Moved by your Spirit, we share of our abundance, praying that the gifts and the givers would be agents of your Love in the world. Amen.

In this place we have met the God who will never abandon us.
Now we go out into a world where it can be easy to feel alone.
As we go out, we carry with us the promise that God is with us always.
In the laughter and tears of life, in our triumphs and our struggles, God is there.
Indeed, when we walk through the storms of life we never walk alone. May God the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer be with you on all the paths of life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

For May 11, 2008 -- Pentecost Sunday

The Spirit is here among us
Within us, around us, between us.
The Spirit is here to strengthen us
Bringing courage, bringing conviction
The Spirit is here to move us
Making us sing and praise.
The Spirit is here.
May we feel the Spirit as we gather.
May we be fed by her fiery strength.
May we be emboldened by her powerful wind
We gather in the Spirit's arms to be nurtured as we worship.
And may our worship fill us with the Spirit as we go back out into our daily lives.

Spirit God, we come into your presence with awe and wonder, praying that we would be touched with your power.
In this time of worship remind us of your constant presence, your gentle guidance, your hope for the world.
As we remember those of old who were moved into speech by the Spirit, so too may we find our voice to be prophetic witnesses in the world today.
Remind us that we can all speak Spirit-language, that we too can burn with the fire of hope. Amen.

Offering Prayer
God, as the Spirit moves within and around us we are moved in response. Part of that response is to offer these gifts of time, talent, and treasure. May the gifts and the givers be ways your love and hope is spread. Amen.

God, we aren’t sure what to do with the prophetic voices in our world.
We laugh them off, deciding they are drunk or deranged.
The power of the Spirit is unfamiliar and unnerving,
which is why we often prefer to avoid the wind and fire of Spirit-change.
…time of silent prayer…
The Spirit blows into our lives as either a gentle breeze or a roaring wind. With the wind comes forgiveness and empowerment, igniting the fire of hope and possibility in our lives.
We are forgiven. Hallelujah! Amen.

Here we have gathered,
Here we have been fed.
Here we have invited the wind and fire into our lives
Now we go out to be windy firebrands in the world
Blowing with the energy of change, hot with the fire of hope.
We go out Spirit-led and Spirit-touched, to be people of the Spirit.
And as you go take courage and confidence in the knowledge that the Spirit of God moves in, around, and with us always. Spirit God is your strength and your sustenance.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, April 7, 2008

For April 13, 2008 -- Easter 4

We come as the people of God,
sharing a hope for the future, sharing the commandment to love all creation.
We come as a community of friends,
caring for and with each other.
We come as a community of faith,
praying and worshipping together.
We come to worship, let us pray…

Offering Prayer
Giver of life, you call us to live and serve that all people may have life in abundance. May the gifts we offer today and every day enrich the lives of people near and far. Amen.

We have gathered together to be enriched in spirit,
we have gathered to be sent back out to serve.
As our worship ends, our service continues,
so we go out, committed to supporting and caring for family, friend, and neighbour.
We go to serve, but we do not serve alone!
We serve with all people of faith, near or far.
Yes but we serve also with God. We serve with the power of God to sustain and support us always.
Thanks be to God! Amen!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

For April 27, 2008 -- Easter 6, Camping Sunday

We gather as the people of God
We gather to sing, to pray, to worship
Sometimes in a church, sometimes by the lakeshore, sometimes around a fire pit,
We gather in God’s presence, we gather to grow in faith, hope, and love.
Come, now is the time to worship.

God, as the morning sun breaks over the horizon,
we pause to give thanks for the gifts of life.
As the we come to the table for breakfast,
we give thanks for food and friends.
As we go through our days of work, and play, and learning,
we remember that you are with us always.
And as we watch the sun sink over the lake,
we pause to say thanks for a day well spent.
God, in this hour together, fill us with hope for life.
May this time together remind us that we are your people, that we are people of love. May this hour empower us to spread that love to all we meet.
At home, at camp, wherever we are,
there is your love. Amen.
LORD’S PRAYER (spoken VU p.916, bottom)

Offering Prayer
God who gives us so much, we offer back what we have and are. May these gifts be tools of love. Amen.

God, you call us to be people of love,
and we confess that at time we find this difficult.
You call us to be stewards of creation,
and we confess that we often feel distanced from the natural world.
You call us to pass on our hope and faith to our children,
and we confess that we run out of time and energy to do that.
…time of silent prayer…
God calls and equips us to do all these things. God gives us friends and mentors to help us in our efforts. God forgives our slips and gives us another chance.
We are forgiven people. Hallelujah! Amen.

We have been given a new commandment
We go out seeking to love one another as we are loved.
The commandment is a challenge and a blessing.
To love and to be loved, it is a part of how we are able to live together.
We go out knowing that we do not try this alone.
We are able to live out God’s love because God is with us on every step of life’s path.
Go with the love of God, go with the power of the Risen Christ, go with the support of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Monday, March 31, 2008

For April 6, 2008 -- Easter 3

God calls us to hope, saying: “Can these bones live?”
And we believe that they can
God calls us to look for the changed life of Resurrection
And we open our hearts and eyes to see.
God calls us to be people of faith
And we gather together to share our stories of faith.
Let us worship together, let us pray…
God of life, in this Easter season we come to celebrate new life and new hopes. In this time together may our hearts be opened to see the Resurrection around us.
May we, like the travellers on the Emmaus Road, become aware of how Christ is with us, even in new and unrecognizable forms.
As we sing and pray together, fill us with hope so that we too may be people full of the Easter promise.We pray this in the name of the Risen Christ, who taught us to pray together saying…
LORD’S PRAYER (spoken)

Gracious God, through Isaiah you tell us “Behold, I am doing a new thing”
And we admit that we often want it to look like the old.
In the Easter moment you bring resurrection and transformation to life.
But we admit that because it is different from how it was before, we don’t always recognize that which has been raised.
In our quest to be people of Life, help us to embrace the transforming power that is the Easter message.
In our search for hope amidst the powers of despair, help us be open to change and renewal.
…time of silent prayer…
The God of Easter invites all of us to new life and a transformed world. In the light of the empty tomb we are renewed and forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Amen

Monday, March 24, 2008

For March 30, 2008 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter

As the sun with longer journey warms the earth,
So God’s light warms our hearts.
As winter’s icy grasp is broken,
We see the signs of spring and life start to burst forth.
We come together to worship God, in whom is life.
We come together to hear about life that lies waiting in the cold places of our lives.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God of life, we come seeking to be life-filled people.
As we gather in Your presence, we trust that you will plant seeds of hope and promise in our lives.
God of growth, we come to be fed and watered.
We gather in Your presence so that we can grow.
God of new possibilities, we come to be reminded that life follows death.
May this time together remind us that there is always life, always promise, always hope. May this time together empower us to go out to plant seeds and encourage growth.
These things we pray in the name of the Risen Christ, who taught us the words we now sing together…

We are gardeners, we work to foster growth.
Even if the ground is seemingly frozen and lifeless, we see the promise of new life waiting to bloom.
We are gardeners, we plant seeds and trust.
Now we go into a world hungry for hope, ready to plant and tend the seeds of God’s new life.
As we go out to the garden of life we go out held in the hands of Life itself. God is our tender and care-giver, God will always help us to grow in faith, in hope, and in joy.
Hallelujah! Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This Week In Jeruslem -- AN intro to Easter Worship Service

AS we all know, many people move from Palms to empty tomb. But can we really experience resurrection without noting the death? So (hopefully) this helps the worshipper who may not have attended Good Friday worship get into that place...

GOOOOOOOOD Morning Jerusalem!, and welcome to KJER in the morning. If it's happening in Jerusalem we'll tell you about it.

IT has been a busy and exciting week here in Jerusalem. OF course the Passover festival always brings large crowds and a great deal of excitement but this has been even more pronounced this week.

The week began 7 days ago with a strange parade into town. An itinerant preacher and miracle worker from Nazareth came riding into town on a donkey while his supporters threw clothing on the road and waved branches. Upon reaching the city this Jesus went to the temple where he overturned the tables of the money changers, drove animals out of the temple precinct and generally caused a great ruckus. Sources say that this was the last straw for Temple leaders, who were already worried about the excitement caused by this man.

The next story about him came 4 days ago. Jesus and his friends held a Passover meal together – as did we all – but unconfirmed reports claim that at this meal Jesus invited his friends into some sort of ritual cannibalism, claiming that the bread and wine was his body and blood. I repeat, this is an unconfirmed report, we are not accusing anyone of such a horrible thing.

Later that night Temple authorities, aided by one of Jesus' friends, were able to have him arrested. Following a quick trial they were able to convince Pilate to have him executed. Accordingly, he was taken to the execution place and crucified. Following his death his body was laid in a tomb which was then placed under guard because of fears the body would be stolen so his followers could claim he had risen from the dead.

Elsewhere in the city... oh wait, I am told we have a breaking story. This must be a joke. NO? A mistake then. Just read the story you say? Alright then.

Early this morning Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

On that note it is time for a break. KJER will be back with more on this amazing story later today...

Monday, March 17, 2008

For March 21, 2008 -- Good Friday

“It is Finished”, the dreadful deed has been done.
Jesus of Nazareth has breathed his last.
We have watched his body laid in the tomb
and we have seen the tomb sealed with a stone and a guard of soldiers.
Now we go into the time of mourning and waiting.
Now we embrace the darkness of the world.
But take heart, in the deepest darkness there is light.
Shining always through the shadows.
On the horizon we see signs of a new dawn
Until it breaks we will wait with hope.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

For March 23, 2008 -- Easter Sunday Year A

This Week In Jerusalem
Breaking News (Matthew 28:1-10)

CALL TO WORSHIP (based on refrain to MV #121)
Christ is risen, death is defeated!
Hey Now! Singing Hallelujah!
The morning has come!
Hey now! Singing Hallelujah!
The Tomb was empty at the rising sun.
Christ is Risen indeed. Sing Hallelujah and praise!

Gracious God, we join the women standing at the tomb.
Our eyes filled with tears and wonder.
Can it be true? Is it possible?
The one we saw buried is not here. He has been raised!
Our hearts and voices turn to songs of praise!
Hallelujah! God's day has come!
As we worship together we embrace Your life and Your promise!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! This is the day the God has made!
We will rejoice and be glad. Amen.

Offering Prayer
God of New Life, on this Easter Sunday we remember the glory of the resurrection. In response to the life you have given we offer our treasures and our selves, that the whole world would know life in abundance. Amen.