Monday, January 28, 2008

FOr Feb 3/08 -- 4th After Epiphany, Year A Annual Meeting Sunday

These resources are based on Jim Strathdee's hymn We Have This Ministry (#510 in Voices United).

CALL TO WORSHIP
We have this ministry, and we are not discouraged
We have a ministry of food, of fellowship, of faith.
Here in this place we come to be refreshed so that the ministry can continue.
Here we come to meet the God and Christ who calls us to serve and empowers us to share our living.
Brothers and sisters, let us worship together. Let us pray…

OPENING PRAYER
O Christ the tree of life, our end and our beginning,
Help us to grow to full flower, help us to be what we are created to be.
In this time together, as we worship, pray, sing, and celebrate, may you be part of our gathering.
Holy Spirit, made known in bread, wine, and water. Spirit present in our laughter and our tears. Fill us with hope and promise in this hour together.
Threefold God, empower us so that when we leave we are better able to live out the ministry we share. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Brothers, sisters, clergy, lay, God you have called us all to serve.
We join in the ministry of sharing your love and life in abundance.
Young and old, new-comer and long timer,
Each of us offers what we have that the world would be filled with your Grace, O God.
We have this ministry,
O God, receive our giving. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
We have this ministry. May we not be discouraged.
The yoke of Christ is ours, we go as people called to serve.
Openly we share God’s word of love, speaking truth as we believe
Praying that this troubled world would healing light receive.
We have this ministry
God, will use our living, our giving, our loving
And we go out knowing that the God who calls us also helps us grow to full flower, rooted in the love of Christ.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 27, 2007 -- 3rd After Epiphany Year A

CALL TO WORSHIP
Like grains in a farmer’s field,
the church is scattered across the globe.
Like four friends cleaning their nets,
we have heard a strangely compelling voice saying “Come! Follow me!”
We join with our Christian brothers and sisters of many denominations,
worshipping God, answering the summons as best we can.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

OFFERING PRAYER
God, here we give of our treasures and our selves. In response to your call to come and follow we offer that which we have. May these gifts become a conduit for your love, your hope, and your justice. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
We have been to the lakeshore, we have heard the invitation.
Now do we leave our nets and lives behind to follow or do we remain in the comfortable and the known?
There is something that draws us to leave, to step out into a whole new life.
And so we too drop our nets and labours, we join the trek to the light.
And as we walk away we go knowing that we have met God in this man from Nazareth. We go knowing that we do not, and will not, walk alone. Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Passion Sunday Stories

This is a series of stories (7) for worship on Palm/Passion Sunday a few years ago. Each story was preceded by a verse of Were You There?. The Scripture Passages listed were not read as part of the service but are what the story was based on.

Sing “Were You There when they waved the palms and sang?”

Story #1 – The Parade
Matthew 21:1-11 (Jewish Merchant, has traveled the Empire.)

I was there. I was born here in Jerusalem but it is many years since I have been back for Passover. I am a merchant by trade and my business takes me all around the Eastern part of the Empire. But this year my journeys have brought me back. As I was coming home from Syria I heard stories of this man, this carpenter’s son, who was doing wonderful things and teaching about God’s Word. As I got close to Jerusalem I could hear people shouting and singing. At first I thought this was just excitement about the coming feast but then I saw that there was a man at the center of all this uproar. He was riding on a donkey with cloaks as a saddle. People had spread their cloaks on the ground and pulled branches off the trees to lay on the road as well, making a carpet of sorts.

As I got closer I could hear that people were crying “Hosanna, to the Son of David!” and “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”. I grabbed the arm of one of the men and asked what was going on. He told me that this was Jesus from Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, who was the promised Messiah. This was the one who would save our people from the Romans.A chill went through me when I heard this. As a boy I had learned the ancient prophecies of a king like David who would come again. And I shared the hope of every Jew for a new Kingdom of Judah. But as a man I had seen what the Romans did to people who threatened the peace. My heart tells me that this man, Jesus, has not long to live. Rome does not like a challenge.


Sing “Were you there when they all shared bread and wine?”

Story #2 – The Upper Room
Matthew 26:14-30 (Woman who had been at the supper)

I was there. I read that story that Matthew wrote. To hear him talk you would have thought that there were only the 13 of them up there for supper. Far from it. There were many more of us but I guess that Matthew didn’t think we were worth mentioning. But the other women and I had walked with Jesus for many days. HE thought we were important. HE showed us that we were beloved Daughters of Abraham. So we wanted to stay with him as long as we could, to feel the love.

That was a strange, almost frightening, meal. Many times I had eaten with Jesus but those meals had always been joyful occasions. Jesus had taught me, taught all of us, how important it was to eat together, how a shared meal showed us that we were all children of God. But that night there was something different about him. Many people in my life have died and often it seems that they know when death is near. That is how Jesus looked that night. His face was drawn, almost painful. Then, out of nowhere he announced that someone in the group would betray him. Someone who had shared food with him would turn him over? None of us could believe it. All of the men denied that they would do such a thing. Jesus just sat there and listened.

Then at the end of the meal he did something I will never forget. He took some of the bread and broke it and gave it to us. He said “Take, eat; this is my body”. Then he took some of the wine and passed it to us and told us to drink it because it was his blood of the new covenant. He went on to talk about the forgiveness of sins and we all shared in the bread and wine. Then he said that he would not eat or drink again until he was in the Father’s kingdom.I tell you my own blood ran cold then. I was sure that he was about to die right then and there. But he didn’t. Instead we sang a hymn (one of the Psalms I believe) and went out to the Mount of Olives. I was going to stay and clean up but something told me I needed to stay with Jesus.


Sing “Were you there when he knelt and prayed to God”

Story #3 – The Garden
Matthew 26:31-56 (Bystander who happened to have gone to the Garden for some time alone)

I was there. I am not Jewish so I don’t celebrate Passover. But in the middle of the festival there was little else to do so I went out to the Garden by the Mount of Olives to sit and look at the stars. This is something I like to do and think of my home far away, usually I can do it without being disturbed. Imagine my surprise when Jesus and his band came along. I had heard about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and stories about the amazing things he had done so I have to admit I was curious. I hid in the bushes to watch what would happen.For a man who just days before had been called “King of the Jews” Jesus looked very un-kingly. He said something to his friends about how they would all desert him, he even predicted that one of them – he seemed to be the chief – would deny knowing him 3 times before the cock crew. Jesus looked tired and like he had given up.

While I was thinking about this, Jesus and three of his friends moved some distance away. Still curious, I quietly moved over to where they were. There Jesus started to pray, after asking the other 3 to stay awake and watch with him. I listened carefully to his prayer, wanting to gain some understanding of the Jewish God. It was a prayer of anguish, asking the Father to change something that was about to happen. At the end though, Jesus agreed to let God’s will be done. Then he saw that his friends were sleeping. Jesus woke them and chastised them for their weakness. This happened three times and then I heard the sounds of people approaching.

A large crowd showed up, people from the Jewish priests and elders. Well not the priests and elders themselves but some of their followers. One from the crowd came forward and greeted Jesus with a kiss. This must have been a sign for immediately the crowd seized Jesus. One of his friends drew a sword and was ready to fight but Jesus stopped him, saying that if God had not wanted this to happen angels would come to fight. Jesus asked why they arrested him here instead of in the open light of day but there was no answer.

As the crowd hustled Jesus away I stayed behind. I work with the governor’s court; I had heard what the priests and elders were planning. Having seen Jesus, and heard his anguish, I did not want to see what would happen next. For all intents and purposes he was already dead. And yet I couldn’t help but think that this was someone special. I wish I had met him before now.


Sing “Were you there when his friends all turned and fled?”

Story #4 – Peter’s Denial
Matthew 26:56-58,69-75 (One of the people at the fire with Peter)

I was there. The word had spread like wildfire that Jesus had been arrested. A group of us had gathered in the courtyard to watch what was going to happen. Then, after the crowd passed by, a single man came up alone. For a moment I though he would follow them but he stopped and turned towards us. Some from our group recognized him and asked if he had been with Jesus. Abruptly and with a little bit of fear in his voice the man swore that he did not know Jesus. It was almost as if he was afraid that he would be arrested next. This happened three times and then the cock crowed to welcome the dawn. The stranger looked towards the sound and gave an anguished wail before running out weeping. As he went I heard him say “my Lord how did you know?”


Sing “Were you there when they sentenced him to death??”

Story #5 – The Trial
Matthew 26:59-68; 27:11-31 (A member of the Council)

I was there. For several weeks we had taken time at meetings of the council to talk about the stories we heard about this man Jesus, the one said to be the Messiah. We were troubled by what we heard. Several religious leaders who had met the man said that while he was a powerful speaker he did not seem to feel bound by instructions from the current leadership. Not only that, but he was teaching that the current system was wrong, that it prevented people from being who God wanted them to be. This was an obvious challenge to our authority.

Then there was that dreadful exhibition on the road in from Bethphage. Did those fools forget about the Roman legions? Did they really think that Rome would stand by peacefully and watch a rebellion begin? All this talk about the “King of the Jews”, and “the one who comes in the name of the Lord”. Absolute rubbish I tell you. Certainly we would know when the Messiah had come. We would be the first to welcome him. Then this so-called Messiah disrupts proper commerce in the Temple! Obviously we had to do something so when one of his followers offered to help us arrest him we jumped at the chance.

I don’t know what Judas thought was going to happen but let me tell you, we were determined that this troublemaker needed to die. If people followed his example the Romans might think we had lost control and then where would we be? Dead is my guess. Surely it was better that this nobody from Galilee die instead. So we had a trial and were able, finally, to convict him of blasphemy. This way the crowd was back on our side – or at least the crowd that was there that night.

Unfortunately, we needed the help of Rome so we took Jesus before Pilate. We made many charges against him so that Pilate would agree to an execution but Jesus just stood there and said nothing. Odd that, I expected that he would at least TRY to defend himself. This seemed to impress Pilate somehow.

Pilate offered to release someone from prison because it was Passover. He suggested it be Jesus but we did not want him around to make more trouble. So we worked the crowd. We got them stirred up and had them demand that Pilate release some man named Barrabbas and execute Jesus. Pilate asked several times but we got the crowd to yell louder and louder. Finally Pilate was convinced and made an attempt to put all the blame back on the crowd and us. But believe me, it was to Pilate’s advantage to get rid of Jesus too.

The Roman soldiers had no problem with the decision – in fact they had a great time mocking the “King of the Jews”, beating him and mocking him before taking him away.


Sing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Story #6 – The Crucifixion
Matthew 27:32-56 (Roman Legionary)

I was there. In my years in the legions I have attended more crucifixions then I can count. They are never pleasant things but they do help keep the peace. It is amazing what the sight of a few troublemakers hanging on a cross will do to make other people think twice. But there was something different about this man. When we got to the place of execution it was our custom to offer the condemned a drink formulated to numb their inevitable pain. This was done partly out of mercy but mainly for our own benefit. A drugged man does not fight nearly as much nor scream as much. Those screams always haunted me after a crucifixion. But this man, the one they called Jesus, he refused to take the drink. Well we put him on the cross and raised him up then we sat down to divide his possessions and wait for him to die. As a warning to others who would dare challenge Roman might we put a sign above his head. The centurion read it to us: This is Jesus, King of the Jews”.

While he was hanging there a large crowd gathered. They taunted the man, challenging him to show the power of God since he was supposedly God’s Son. The man ignored them. Then around midday the sky grew very dark and stayed that way for a long time. And still this “King” had not screamed in pain. I was amazed at his composure and courage. Finally, after three hours of darkness he screamed something in his own language. Later one of my Jewish friends said that Jesus had asked why God had abandoned him. So I guess he did feel the pain after all. With another cry his body went limp. He was dead.

That death was an eerie event, and I have seen many men die. The sky, the very earth seemed to shake and roar. We were all very afraid. My centurion muttered something about this really being the Son of God and then I was really afraid. What would this God of the Jews do to US if we had truly killed his Son?

As I fled from that hilltop I saw a small group of women standing off to one side. They just stood there crying and staring at everything that had happened. Even when the hill was bare they still kept a vigil. What great love they must have had for him – to stay when everyone else had fled.


Sing “Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?”

Story #7 – The Tomb
Matthew 27:57-66 (One of the women, watching)

I was there, watching. We had never stopped watching. All day the group of us stood there and watched our beloved Jesus die. Watched and wept. Then after he was dead the soldiers took his body off of the cross and gave it to a man named Joseph. HE wrapped the body up and had his servants help him carry Jesus to a tomb in the rock. They laid our friend and teacher to rest and put a large rock in front of the grave. And still we watched. We didn’t talk to each other. Who had any idea what to say? We just sat there. Then, while we watched and wept, one of the priests came with a group of soldiers. We heard the instructions: “Stand here and make sure no-one steals his body!” We were stunned, why would someone steal a body? Then the soldiers make the tomb as tightly sealed as they could. And still we watched and wept.

Eventually the day grew late and we had to leave to celebrate the Sabbath. (As if we wanted to celebrate anything. But Sabbath comes no matter what else happens, life keeps going.) Mary promised all of us that she would come back after Sabbath. She would bring spices and ensure that Jesus, who we loved, was properly taken care of. And so we left.

For Jan 13/08 -- Baptism of Jesus

CALL TO WORSHIP
Servants of God, come and listen!
We come to be charged with our duties.
Servants of God, change is in the air!
We come to have the vision redrawn in our hearts and minds.
Servants of God, it is time to be prepared for the task!
We come to worship and to be refreshed.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
God, in our baptism we are called to be one with Christ, claimed as Your children, and commissioned to a ministry of love, peace and justice.
But in the day to day of life there are times when we struggle to live out those realities.
In our baptism we embrace the task of bringing your hope to reality.
But in the daily grind of life there are times when we fall into despair.
For the times when we could have done more to be people of hope and love, we ask strength
For the times we have slipped in living out our Baptismal reality, we ask forgiveness.
…time of silent prayer…
The God who is present at our Baptism is present in every aspect of our lives: there to forgive, to challenge, and to encourage. We are a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Servants of God, you have been given a task!
We go out to fight for truth, justice, and peace.
Servants of God, the task calls all of us to change!
We go to turn hearts and minds and realities towards the hope of God.
Servants of God, you go out surrounded and supported by the love of the One who sends you, the One who you serve. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Advent 4/07

CALL TO WORSHIP
It’s getting closer, the day is almost here!
In just a few hours the calm night will be shattered by a newborn’s cries.
We come to worship in anticipation of the birth.
We come to worship the God who becomes one of us.
As we prepare for Christmas we come to give thanks to God as we sing and pray together…

OPENING PRAYER
God of Christmas, in this time of anticipation and preparation we give thanks for all that Christmas is…
the excitement of childhood,
the music of carols,
the promise of a better world to come,
the hope and joy of waiting,
the fellowship of the busy-ness,
the moments of calm and peace.
And in the midst of our Christmas celebrations we find you God.
Sharing in our joy and our anxiousness.
As we experience the wonder of the season,
May we remember the child who taught us to pray together singing…
LORD’S PRAYER (sung #959 VU)

Offering Prayer
The Christmas season is all about gifts.
Gifts of a mother pregnant too soon and a father willing to take a chance, gifts of life itself.
Here we offer our own gifts, trusting that they too would be gifts of life, and that in abundance.
We offer them to the baby in the manger, God made flesh. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Closer and closer the birth gets. Soon the first labour pains will be felt.
We go to finish preparing for Christmas.
Soon the chaos of the preparations will give way to the chaos of Christmas night.
And even amongst the chaos and excitement we will look for peace and calm.
The peace of a sleeping baby, the calm hearts that know they are held in the loving arms of God.
We know that blessing, and we share that blessing with others at Christmas and all year round. Amen.

For Jan 6/08 -- Epiphany

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
In the light of the star…
we are forced to look at our lives more closely.
Watching the magi arrive,
we are challenged to offer our own gifts to the child.
As we look at our lives and respond to the challenge,
we confess that our lives are not what they could be, that we sometimes fail to live up to the challenge of being your people.
For the times we do not go far enough, when we abandon the search for Your way and presence,
forgive us we pray.
…time of silent confession…
Many times in our life’s journey we, like the Magi, come into the presence of God-made-Manifest. Because of that we know that we are accepted and forgiven and sent out again to continue the journey.
Thanks be to the God who travels with us. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The Magi saw a sign of God’s presence and brought rich gifts.
We go out looking for God’s presence in our world.
What gifts do we take with us?
We take all that we have to offer, we offer ourselves.
In our quest for the star, for God-made-manifest, we walk with God who is present in our world and in our lives, wherever we go.
We give thanks for God’s blessing and presence. Amen.

For Dec 30/07 -- CHristmas 1

CALL TO WORSHIP
The presents are opened, the wrapping paper tossed out, the leftover turkey is being eaten,
and the story we told on Christmas Eve continues…
We prepare to turn the pages of a New Year,
knowing that each year brings joy and pain.
We come to acknowledge the good and the bad of life.
We come to worship the God who is there in the light and the shadow…

OPENING PRAYER
God, although the angel song is stilled and the chaos of Christmas is dying down we continue to seek the babe in the manger. We come to hear about the joy and the pain of the world into which he was born. We come to experience the promise and hope his birth brings to the world. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Just as we give gifts to family and friends at Christmas,
as a way of showing our love and concern.
So each week we give gifts to you, O God,
trusting that they will help spread your love in our community and around the globe. Amen.

Advent 2/07

That is the theme for this Sunday. Here are some liturgy pieces:

OPENING PRAYER
God, we live in a world of change.
And we admit that change is often terrifying.
Here we come and hear how the story of faith changes the world,
We remember Mary and the angel’s words that changed her world,
We seek to hear what changes the life of faith has in store for us,
In this time together help us to embrace the possibility that change can bring growth as well as loss.
We pray in the name of the child whose birth we await, who taught his friends to pray by singing together…

DISCUSSION (In lieu of a sermon we are trying a small group discussion time)
1. Think of a special pregnancy announcement in your life. What were your thoughts when you heard about it?
2. What are some of the life-changing events in your life?
3. Change can be a terrifying thing. What helps you respond to changes big or small? Is change a chance to grow? A time of loss? Both?

Offering Prayer
Mary responded “let it be with me according to your word”
And gave of her body and life to further your plan.
God here we too give of ourselves and our lives,
Trusting that our gifts big and small will spread your peace, love, hope, and life in the world. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Birth, new life, promise, Christmas is about all of these.
And so Christmas is about the world being changed.
Go now ready to embrace the changes of Christmas
We go ready to support others in a changing world.
Remember always that the God who changes the world and calls us into the birth-pangs of a new world is always there as our coach and supporter and guide.
So be it! Thanks be to God! Amen.

Christmas Eve 2007

Offering Prayer
It is the season for gift-giving.
And now we bring our gifts to share with the world.
It is the season when light breaks into the long dark nights.
And we share that piece of Divine Light that burns within us with the world.
It is the season of hope, of peace, of joy, of love, found in a baby in a manger.
Remembering these things we give our gifts to the God in the manger, and through that manger to the people of the world. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
We who walk through the darkness of the world have seen a great light.
We have met the Light of the beginning in a manger filled with straw.
We who have seen the light take hope in the promise that no darkness can overcome it.
And, filled with hope, we carry that light to the world around us.
Go as light-bearers and hope-bearers, secure in the knowledge that God: the Creator, the Babe in the manger, the Spirit of Christmas is with you always
Thanks be to the Gift-Giving God of Christ-mass!

Advent 1/07

OPENING PRAYER
We come with hearts that are anxious, uncertain of the future;
God, relieve our anxiety, help us to embrace the possibilities.
We come as those who wait with hope for the better times to come;
God, help us counter the despair we see around us.
We come as those who look to the promise of birth and new life,
God, be born in us and our world again and again. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Gift-giving God, as we get closer and closer to Christmas we hear more and more voices crying out “Please Give”
And we respond as best we can. We share of our lives to help all around us live in abundance. Here we offer a portion of our gifts, trusting that they would be used to spread Your love in our community and around the world. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The Advent journey has begun. Each day brings us closer to the wonder of Christmas.
As we get closer the excitement grows and the waiting gets harder.
We wait with hope for God to once again break into our world in surprising ways.
And we share our hope in the promise of the future with those we meet.
We go to live in hope, hope based on the knowledge that God is with us wherever we go.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Service Music for Advent/Christmas/07

Doxology (tune Jingle Bells –sung twice)
Giving gifts, giving gifts
Sharing what we’ve got
In the Christmas spirit we
Offer them to God

CHORAL RESPONSE: (tune God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
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 is coming once again, once again
O Christmas is come once again.

For Nov 25/07

This Sunday is the end of the Liturgical year, the Reign of Christ Sunday. It also means that we are about to start another Advent and teh new year. This COmmissioning attempts to provide a bridge...

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The circle goes round and round again
As one year ends we prepare for another to begin.
We celebrate the now of God’s Reign
Remembering that God promises to provide leadership that will guide and protect God’s people.
We also recognize that God’s Reign is not yet complete
And so we go out to help it reach its completion, we go out praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”
We close the year sharing the ancient prayer “Maranatha – come Lord Jesus.”
And begin the new awaiting with hope the birth of a baby who will change the world.
As we go out with hope and promise we go held in the love of the Shepherd God: our Guide, our Protector, our Leader.
Reign of God, break into our lives! Amen.

For Nov 11/07

Recently the United Church of Canada launched a new fundraising program called United For Peace. This Sunday evening the focus of our worship (morning worship was potponed yill evening to allow for the Legion Remembrance Day service) will be on peace.

OPENING PRAYER
God, you call us to be people of peace,
but too often the world around us seems to call us into conflict with our neighbours.
You call us to love our friends and our enemies
but the world tells us to fend for ourselves, to compete with our neighbours.
During this hour together, awaken in us the desire for a changed world.
May this time together strengthen our resolve to bring more peace to our lives.
During our worship fill our hearts with hope that peace is possible.
Help us to live out the truth of the words “All we are saying, is give peace a chance”
This we pray in the name of the one who was called the Prince of Peace, Jesus, who taught his friends to pray by saying…

For Nov 4/07

CALL TO WORSHIP
The crowd gathers, excitement buzzes in the air.
There, over that way! God’s Chosen One is here!
We stand on shoulders, we climb trees, anything to be part of the action.
Hey! Look! See me!
In our excitement we come to meet God, to feel God’s presence, to be changed people.
Hey! Look! Over here! Wait, what was that about being changed?
Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough. Now let us pray…

OPENING PRAYER
God, like Zaccheus, we come seeking to join the crowds around you.
We go out of our way to make time to be here.
Like Zaccheus we find ourselves changed by our experience of your love.
You fill us with the impulse to help improve the world around us.
May our next hour be a time of re-energizing, of opening to your Way of love and life.
May this time together continue to re-orient our lives and our priorities. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The crowd still gathers, the buzz still rings.
We have met, we have visited, we have been invited to change.
The encounter leaves us different than we were before.
Experiencing the presence and love of God leads us to pay a price.
The cost of our meeting is small compared to the blessing we receive.
And so we go out to share and to spend our love and our life.
As you go, remember that the God who changes us is always with us, that the Christ who challenges us also supports us, that the Spirit who emboldens us also lifts us up.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

For Oct 28/07

This is week 2 of our (my?) 3 week Stewardship series. THis week the topic is living in a world of ABUNDANCE.

CALL TO WORSHIP
Amidst the busy-ness of our lives,
we gather to share quiet time with God and neighbour.
In our worry and anxiety,
we gather to share God’s words of promise and hope.
In our concern about having enough,
we gather to be reminded that God fills our lives with abundance.
We gather to worship the God of abundant life and overflowing love. Let us pray…

OPENING PRAYER
On a first day the work of Creation was begun.
On a first day the promise of new life was reborn.
On this first day we come here with God to celebrate life old and new.
On this first day may we be refreshed and energized.
In our worship and in our work, you are with us God, and so we offer our thanks and praise. Amen.

OFFERING:
Invitation

We have been given so many things.
We celebrate the abundances in our lives
We have heard the call of God to share that which we have.
We offer a portion of our abundance that all may benefit.
Let us present our offering…
Dedication
God, our Source, all that we have and do and are flows from you,
here we make an offering out of the abundance with which you have blessed us.
May these gifts of paper, coin, time, and love be empowered to do your work and spread your hope.
May the sharing of these gifts empower us, the givers, to be active agents of your love. Amen.

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
As our worship ends, we go back out to our work in the world.
We go out remembering to counter the world’s claims of scarcity with a message of hopeful abundance.
As our worship ends, we go back out to our work in the world.
We go out as proclaimers of the Love of God, who gives us great bounty, who gives us Life.
As our worship ends, we go back out to our work in the world.
We go out knowing that God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is with us every step of life’s journey. Thanks be to God! Amen.

For Oct 21/07

CALL TO WORSHIP
All is silent and yet we hear a sound that never stops,
a voice crying out for justice, a plea that the people of the world would live together in peace.
All is silent and yet the call keeps coming.
Calling us to respond, calling us to be part of the solution.
We who have heard the voice come together to listen more closely.
We who hear the pleas come together in response to the invitation.
Let us worship the God who calls us to be workers for justice. Let us pray…

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Persistent God, we hear you knocking, knocking, knocking.
And we wonder whether to open the door.
We hear you crying out for justice.
And we alternate between wholehearted response and selective deafness.
For the times we choose to ignore the door, to be deaf to the pleas,
we ask forgiveness and pledge to try again
…time of silent prayer…
Because God is persistent in the call for justice, we know that we are given a second chance. God’s forgiveness is just as persistent as God’s cry for justice.
We are forgiven. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Offering Prayer
God, over and over you call us to action,
here we come to respond to your pleas for justice.
You have given us the tools and the will,
help us use them to spread your love in the world.
We offer these gifts in Jesus name,
may they continue the ongoing work of love and justice in the world. Amen.

For Oct 7/07

October 7 is Worldwide Communion Sunday. In Canada it also happens to be Thanksgiving Sunday. Wanting to be ahead of the game (since Monday may be spent recovering from Presbytery) I did up the Order of Service early. Here are some Liturgy bits should you want them. We will be using the Deuteronomy and John passages for Thanksgiving Day with Psalm 137.

CALL TO WORSHIP
From street to street, town to town, nation to nation,
God’s people gather together in praise and worship.In familiar surroundings and in foreign surroundings,
God’s people gather to sing and pray.In a changing world,
We gather to give thanks to God who is constantly there.
OPENING PRAYER
God of harvest, God of life, we gather here to say thank-you for many things.
God of presence in times of change and times of stability, we gather here to seek the comfort of knowing you are with us.God of bread, product of seeds scattered over the fields, fill us with hope in this hour.
God of the cup, fill our souls with the Spirit of Life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
God, you challenge us to give thanks throughout our lives.
But sometimes we find it hard to remember what we have to be thankful for.As the world changes we find ourselves strangers in a strange land, more ready to lament than to sing songs of praise and thankfulness
Forgive our short-sightedness, our tendency to focus on what we have lost, our blindness to our abundance.…time of reflection…God has gifted us with many things. One of them is great, free-flowing forgiveness. We are reminded always of God’s ever-present and all-forgiving Love.
Thanks and praise to God! Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Here we have eaten and drunk, here we have been reminded that God is present.
Now we go out refreshed and energized to share God’s love with all we meet.
As you move from worship back into the world remember that the Triune God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, is with you always and all ways.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

For Sept 23/07

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Jesus said: no slave can serve two masters.
And we remember the times our loyalties have been divided between not just two, but many places.
Jesus said: You cannot serve God and wealth.
Ooh, that one hits close to home. We admit that sometimes we have a hard time choosing between those options.
There are so many things that call for our money.
So many times we think of the things we need, so many times we confuse what we need with what we want.
For the times our actions show that our loyalties have been misplaced,
For the times that we choose to honour our wallets and wants over Your cry for justice, forgive us God.
…time of silent confession…
While God asks for our loyalty, perfect performance is never demanded. Even when our thoughts are swayed by worldly concerns God is still there. God is the Master that always welcomes us back with open arms.
We are a forgiven people. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Offering Prayer
God of great abundance, here we celebrate all that we have been given.
And as we give thanks we share our abundant life with those around us.
May these gifts we have to offer make a difference.
May our sharing of these gifts change them and us into agents of your hope for the world. Amen

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Whoever is faithful with little will be faithful with much.
We go now, striving to be faithful with what the abundance God has given us.
Go out to be honest stewards, go out to be wise with your gifts.
We go now, striving to put our priorities where our mouths are, seeking to serve but one Master.
Go out knowing that the Creator God, the Redeemer Christ, and the Sustaining Spirit are there to lead and guide you always.
Thanks be to God, the One who we serve. Amen.

Responsive Psalm 113

Psalm 113
Paraphrased by Rev. Gord Waldie (2007)

Sing praises to God! People of God, sing praises to God’s holy name!
Blessed be God today and always
From the first glimmer of dawn’s light to the last spark as the sun sinks below the horizon.
God is wonderful, a glory to the whole world, God’s glory rises through the cosmos
Who else is like God, who sees all the earth?
God, the one who raises the poor from the dust.
God, the one who puts the needy among the wealthy.
God, the one who makes all people like royalty.
Sing praises to God!
May the Holy One be praised!

For Sept 16/07

OPENING PRAYER
God, are you there?
Really? You are here, with us, in this place?
Well here we are, trusting that our faith is not a delusion.
Here we sing and pray and listen for your voice.
God, you are there…right?
During this time fill our hearts with love, our spirits with hope. Please? In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

OFFERING PRAYER
Gracious God, we meet you in many places, we hear you in many voices. What we have heard and experienced leads us to share these, our gifts, for Your work. May our giving spread Your love everywhere. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Faith leads us to the place where God is. God leads us to where the world is.
As people of faith we go out to share the love of God.
Faith tells us of the depths of life. God reminds us to work for justice in all we do.
As people of faith we go out to seek justice and resist evil.
Faith reminds us that we do not go alone. May God be with you every step of life’s journey; bringing life, bringing hope, bringing joy.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

For Sept 9/07

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Search me O God, and know my heart
You have searched me
Try me and know my thoughts
You have known me. My downsitting, my uprising.
And see if there be any wicked way in me.
You understand my thoughts from afar. You know all my ways.
Lead me in the way.
Lead me in the way everlasting.
God who does know all our ways, who knows us so well, does lead us in the way. When we stray from the way God calls us back with words of love and forgiveness.
Lead me in the way everlasting. Thanks be to God. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The potter shapes and moulds the clay,
trusting that the final product will serve a purpose.
God has helped our shaping and formation,
and now we go out to serve our purpose
As we go remember that the Potter is always with us to guide and protect. The Potter is always there as we are fired in life’s kiln.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

FOr Sept 2/07

CALL TO WORSHIP
In the midst of our labours…
we come to worship and be refreshed.
In our search for fulfillment…
we come looking for the “more” of life
With our cracked cisterns and empty hearts…
we come to find the living water and to be filled.
Let us join the Creator in the labour of re-creation…

OFFERING PRAYER
God here we offer the fruits of our labour and our labour itself. May all that we have to give work for the time when we will all be filled with living water, and when we can all go out with joy.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Our worship is ended, our service continues.
You mean there is still work to do?
Yes, we continue to labour with God for the coming Kingdom
So we go out and keep working?
Yes, but we trust that this work will not exhaust us but will refresh us
Oh, we work to build cisterns that will hold the living water, we work for those things that bring fulfillment.
That’s it! And remember always that the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Spirit are with you in your work.
Thanks be to the Threefold God! Amen.

For June 24/07

OFFERING PRAYER
God of lakes and trees, rocks and sky, God who has given us life and that in abundance. Here and now we return part of what we have and all of what we are to You. May our many gifts be used such that Your love is spread around the world and Your hope lifts every sagging heart. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
As our worship ends we go out into a noisy world
In our busy-ness help us to listen for the sound of silence.
We carry with us the memory of the voice we hear when no-one else is speaking.
We remember that the words of the prophets are whispered in the sound of silence
May the God of rushing wind, roaring water, and calm stillness go with us each and every day.
Amen.

For June 17/07

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Empowering God, you call us to embrace life in all its fullness,
but often we only see a small part of that fullness.
You call us to take risks, to try out new things,
and we hold back out of fear of failing, of being a disappointment.
You challenge us to do things that seem inappropriate or abnormal,
and we remain convinced that we need to do what others say is decent and orderly.
You challenge us to accept those who are willing to take risks, to be different.
but we automatically assume that those who deviate from the norm are somehow not acceptable.
For our reticence and our condemnation forgive us.
…time of silent reflection…
God takes the biggest risk of all. God forgives us unconditionally, God encourages us in our risks, our successes, and our failures.
Thanks and praise to God. Amen.

For April 30/07

OPENING PRAYER
God, there are many paths, many people calling “Follow Me”, many claim to know the way to fulfillment.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
It is difficult to know which way to turn.
All we like sheep have gone astray.
But when we are quiet we hear a familiar, comforting voice.
…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
God who calls us to be part of God’s flocks and herds…
...lead us in the paths of righteousness.
In our time of worship remind us to listen for the Good Shepherd, in whose path we find that…
…goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life.
And may we dwell under the protection of the Shepherd, who taught us to pray singing…
LORD’S PRAYER (sung #959 VU)

For April 8/07

WE GATHER AS GOD’S PEOPLE
Organ Prelude
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE STORY SO FAR

CALL TO WORSHIP
Two women go out to honour a dead friend,
The tomb is empty! What’s happened?
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed!
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us Rejoice and be glad in it!

*HYMN #157 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
LIGHTING THE CANDLES

OPENING PRAYER
God, in the beginning you said, “let there be light.”
And there was light but there was also darkness.
On this first day again we hear, “let there be light.”
Light that conquers the deepest darkness, life that conquers death.
Christ who once was dead lives again.
And in that life lies our promise of life everlasting.
Alleluia! Alleluia! We join in the song of angels.
May this indeed be the day of rebirth and new life for us, for our world, for all of creation. Amen.

For April 1/07

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
We have heard about crowds shouting praises
And also about crowds shouting condemnation.
Having heard, we go out into the world where the power of the mob can do great good, or great wrong.
Having heard, we go out remembering that we too can be part of the mob of praise or the mob of condemnation.
We go out remembering a story of trial and injustice
We go out into a world where injustice still holds many in chains.
But we go secure in the knowledge that we do not face the mob or the injustice alone.
We go out secure in the knowledge that the God of justice goes with us every step of the path.
Thanks be to the God of palm branches, loaf and cup, and a cross on a hill. Amen.

For Mar 25/07

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
A woman breaks a jar, a friend asks why waste money that could help the poor?
And we are reminded of our duty to help the least among us.
Jesus responds that the poor will always be with us.
And we are reminded that changing the world is terribly hard.
Go now into the world to live and serve.
We go to help those who need help and to work for a new way of being.
Go out into the world assured that you are not alone.
We go secure in the knowledge that God is with us.
May the blessing of God: Parent, Child, and Spirit go with you all your days.
Amen.

Lent 2007

To go with the Lenten Sermon Series. (or here to see the scripture passages being used)

March 4:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to see new things happening in the world.
May our worship times together remind us of the value of both the old and the new.
Let us worship the God who is indeed doing a new thing in our midst…

March 11:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to share what we have with the world.
Here we come to be energized, to be reminded of the great gift we have to share.
God calls us to be living testimonies to God’s wonderful love.
May our worship translate into witness in the world.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

March 18:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to be different from the world.
Here we come to be strengthened for the world is seductive sometimes.
As we gather, we carry with us the concerns of our everyday lives
As we worship, may we be reminded to think seriously about what our priorities and loyalties ought to be.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

March 25:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to care about those who struggle in life.
Here we raise in prayer those whose lives are difficult.
God recognizes that there are always those who have not got enough for abundant life
May our time of worship prepare us to go out and seek abundant life for all of God’s children.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

For Feb 18/06

ALL TO WORSHIP
The organ plays a Prelude, the choir sings an Introit,
And we come together to worship.
The first hymn is announced and we stand to sing,
And the Spirit of God moves in our hearts and voices.
Here in this place we raise our voices in song together,
Here in this place we worship God in story and song.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Singing God, you invite us to join in the song
But we are afraid that our voices are too thin.
You challenge us to sing of justice and truth
And we prefer to listen to the lovely music.
You fill our hearts with hopeful lyrics and uplifting tunes
But still we are afraid that our singing will not be good enough.
Help us, O God, to sing the Lord’s song no matter what strange land we find ourselves in,
Help us to loose our tongues in joyful praise and sorrowful lament. Help us to sing with vigour, to sing lustily.
…time of silent prayer…
God calls even the most reluctant singers to join the choir. God refreshes us and inspires us to join with many who have gone before and sing:
We shall overcome, we shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe.
We shall overcome someday

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The Amens are sung, the organ plays a postlude,
And the people go out from worship into the world.
We go with the Music of God in our hearts, the Rhythm of God in our steps,
We go to sing God’s song in many keys, in many styles, and in many places.
As we take the next steps in the Dance of Life,
We do so knowing that God: the Dancer, the Singer, the Song itself, is with us in each and every note. Amen.

For Jan 28/07

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Long ago the Voice of God spoke to young Jeremiah,
and he was afraid to heed the call.
Long ago the Call of God pushed a man from Nazareth to upset the known and the comfortable,
and people got upset
Here today God continues to call us to speak words of truth and challenge,
and we are often afraid that people will get upset.
May we go out into the world as those who have heard God’s call,
may we go out into the world to free captives, end oppression, and bring hope to the despairing.
We do this knowing that the God who calls us walks with us every step of the way.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

For Jan 21/07

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Ezra read out the Law to the people,
and they wept at hearing it.
We too gather to hear the Scriptures read and discussed,
not that we should weep but to help us plot our path through life.
Go now as those who have heard, as those who have learned.
We go to apply the Word to our lives from day to day.
And go knowing that God: the Speaker, the Spoken, and the Spirit goes with you, always offering words of guidance and hope.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sound System Dedication

DEDICATION OF NEW SOUND SYSTEM EQUIPMENT
INTRODUCTION
PRAYER
Here in this place of worship we gather in the name of God the Creator, the Redeemer and Sustainer.
Here we dedicate this sound system equipment to the service of God.
Let us pray:
Creating and Re-Creating God, we give thanks for the gifts of all who have gone before us. We give thanks for all who are here now. We give thanks for the promise of gifts that have yet to be shared. Today we pause to remember all those who have given gifts in memory of loved ones now gone. Today we give thanks that because of those memorials we can enrich the life of this faith community. May this equipment help to offer all who are a part of this faith community a fuller worship experience. And may we be encouraged to raise voices in praise in response to hearing God’s promise, God’s hope, and God’s love. Amen.

For Dec 24/06 (morning and evening)

CALL TO WORSHIP
The tree is trimmed, the presents are wrapped, the day is here!
It’s Christmas at last!
Here we gather to talk about the old story.
Here we hope to hear a bit of angel song, the music which brings peace and goodwill to the earth.
We come with hearts open to the wonder of God coming into our lives.
We come to worship the God who gives us new hope, new promises, new life.
Let us worship together…

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The story we tell is one that we pass on to our children.
As it has been passed on to us from generations before.
We go out as people who know the reality of God choosing to be a part of our lives.
Either as a baby boy long ago or in many different ways here and now.
And we go as people determined to share that reality with others, not only at Christmas but all the year round.
God bless us, every one! Amen.

And here is a prayer frrom the service we will have that eveining:
OPENING PRAYER
Creator God, yet again this year we have gathered beside the manger.
We have heard a rumour that new life can be found here.
We come, seeking to hear again the angels singing about Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all.
We come, looking for peace in our lives, looking for the promised Saviour.
And as we gather to hear the old story and sing the old songs we pray that we would be filled again with hope.
May our time of worship this night re-awaken in us the Spirit of love and giving that makes Christmas truly special.
And when we leave here, let it be with uplifted heart, singing praises with the shepherds for all we have seen and heard.
This we pray in the name of the Babe in the manger, Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Amen

FOr Nov 19/06

(Using images from Our Time by Stephen Sondheim)

OPENING PRAYER
Something is stirring, shifting ground. It’s just begun.
God, we sense the beginning of something new.
Edges are blurring all around. And yesterday is done.
The world we know is fading, but what will take its place?
Feel the flow, hear what's happening: what is happening?
In the midst of turmoil we hear a voice of hope sharing words of promise.
It’s Your time, breathe it in. Worlds will change and all will win.
As a new world is born and new life arises we will celebrate both old and new. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Feel how it quivers, on the brink. Everything.
As we go out from our worship we go to be agents of change in a changing world.
Gives you the shivers, makes you think, there's so much stuff to sing!
We face the change by singing the old song of faith in a new key.
It’s our time, breathe it in. Worlds will change and all will win.
And we go secure in the knowledge that God who was, and is, and yet will be, goes with us always.
So be it! Amen.

For Oct 15/06

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
God who spoke at the beginning, your Word continues to live and inspire.
But sometimes we crowd it out with words of our own.
And yet you continue to speak a Word that calls us to New Life.
But we pretend not to hear, we are comfortable in the old.
And so sometimes you offer a Word that cuts us to the core with challenge or rebuke.
Leaving us to choose whether to respond or to walk away.
Gracious God, Living Word, open our ears to hear you again.
Living Word, forgive our deafness or inattention.
...time of reflection…
The Word of God does live with and among us. God is still speaking and will continue to speak. The Word brings not only challenge but blessing, not only rebuke but forgiveness.
We are a forgiven people. Thanks be to God! Amen

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The Word lives in you as you go out from worship.
We go to share the Word of hope and promise with the world.
And may the Speaker, the Word, and the Spirit go with you in all your ways.
Amen.

For Feb 19/06

PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Gracious God, you call us to see the new thing you are doing,
but often we choose to remain where we are comfortable.
You offer us healing for ourselves and our neighbours,
but the crowds are too big, we don't want to make a fuss.
You challenge us to share the Good News we have heard with all we meet,
but we are reluctant to share it, preferring to stay in the background.
You continually offer us the promise of YES,
but our minds drown it out with the sense that we are not ready for or worthy of anything but no.
(time of silent confession)
Listen, for this is Good News. God's "YES" can overwhelm all our "no"s. God's healing flows to and through us. God tells us that we are forgiven and restored to life.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Election Prayer

Monday January 23 is election day in Canada. This is a (modified) segment from the Prayers of the People this morning:
God who calls us to live together, to share our joys and sorrows, we pray this day for all who will be going to polling stations tomorrow. We pray that we all will have wisdom and discernment to choose what we believe to be right for our country. Grant that we may have the strength to make choices based on a vision of what we could be, rather than out of fear of what may be.

We pray for all who have chosen to put their name forward. May they be gracious both in victory and defeat. May they all feel able, after the votes are counted, to continue working towards a better Canada, whether inside the Parliament or outside.

We pray for those who will be elected, the ones who will sit on the government benches and the ones who will sit on the opposition benches. Grant them, we pray, wisdom, courage, strength and discernment. Allow that they will use more energy dealing with the truly important issues and not get distracted by the flashy issues that make for good headlines and sound bites.

God who calls us to live together in joy and sorrow, these things we pray in the name of Jesus, the one who calls us all to work for a world where we can all live together in your shalom. Amen

A PRayer for General COuncil 39

First written for the beginning of the Council Meeting in THunder Bay

Creator God, who calls us to live, and work, and be together in community,
we confess that sometimes we find it hard to do that.
Sometimes we find it hard to admit that other members of the community
might have a different vision of who we are.
Sometimes we find it hard to listen and so we attack.
Sometimes we find it hard to hear and so we stop trying.
----
Creator God, who calls us to grow and mature as people of faith,
we pray that we would be able to listen and hear and hope.
At this time we pray particularly for the Commissioners to the 39th General Council.
As they gather together from the depth and breadth of this thing we call the United Church of Canada,
which is in turn merely a part of your much larger body,
may they come with hearts, minds, and souls ready to listen.
May they be ready to listen to those with whom they agree and to those with whom they disagree.
And may they be ready to listen for your voice.
----
God who calls us to be the church,
grant that these men and women, young and old alike,
will hear your voice and hear what and who you are calling the United Church to be.
Help them to translate that vision into action with wisdom, compassion, and excitement.
These things we pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the one we call Christ,
the one in whom we are all united despite our differences,
our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Friend.
Amen

THanksgiving Communion

InvitingAs the seed which was scattered to all corners of the field comes together to make bread on our table,
So God’s people gather from all corners of the world to share the great Banquet of thankfulness and hope.At God’s table there are no divisions. At God’s table all are welcome to share in the bounty of abundant life.
Here at God’s table we join with all who seek to follow The Way. Here we taste the grace eternal. Here we know that God is Good.
Great ThanksgivingThe Spirit of the Living God be with you all
And also with you.In this harvest season we pause to give thanks to God.
It is a good thing to give thanks for all God has given us.God of growth, God of harvest, God of gifts, here we pause to give thanks for the abundance of our lives.
For the fruit of the earth, for the food on our tables, for the love of our brothers and sisters in faith around the world.For the promise of hope in a world given to despair, for the possibility of peace in a world torn apart by violence,
For these, and many other, things we offer our thanks and praise.We remember the stories of our forefathers and mothers in the faith,
People like Sarah and Abraham, Miriam and Moses, Peter and Mary,Prophets and leaders and all who have proclaimed your hope over the centuries.
We lift up the countless saints who have gone before us to teach about the possibilities of being your people.

And so we lift our voices in song, singing together the praises of ages (MV #203 tune: Kingsfold)
O holy holy holy God,
O God of time and space.
All earth and sea and sky above
bear witness to your Grace.
Hosanna in the highest heav’n,
creation sings your praise.
And blessed is the One who comes
and bears Your name always
RememberingIn the middle of our thankfulness we give special thanks for a man from Nazareth, Jesus, the one we call Christ.
Child of Mary, child of grace, he came to teach about the wonders of Your love. He came to break down the walls of division among Your people.As he ate with the despised and the least of his world he showed us what the Glorious Banquet of life could be like.
We give thanks for his witness and commitment to The Way. We give thanks for his healing of broken spirits and broken bodies.We give thanks for his life, his death, and his resurrection.
Here, now, as we gather at the table to which Jesus calls us, we remember another table long ago and far away.
At that table Jesus gathered with friends to tell again the ancient story of liberation from bondage.And then at the end of the meal he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and passed it among them saying:
This is my body, broken for all. Take, eat. And whenever you eat it remember what I have taught.Then he took a cup of good wine, blessed it and passed it to them saying:
This is the seal of the new covenant. Take and drink and remember.
And so, God of Cross, Empty Tomb, and Banquet, we eat and drink and remember.
Giving thanks for the Love Jesus poured out on all he met: Jew and Gentile, sinner and saint, healthy and broken.
And in our remembering we sing the mystery of faith (MV #204 tune: Kingsfold)
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!
TransformingGod, you call us to sing the songs of faith in places both familiar and strange. You call us to share the Banquet of faith with long time friends and new acquaintances.
Pour out your Spirit on this table and these people. AS we eat and drink may we feel the wind of the Spirit in our hair, the fire of the Spirit in our bellies, and the love of the Spirit in our hearts.May the presence of the Spirit make this meal an occasion of transformation for we who gather to eat it together. Amen.God of the Banquet that is and is to come, on this day we gather with people all around the world to share this meal.
Creator, our Source of Love; Christ, Love Incarnate; Spirit, Love’s flowing power be praised, now and forever.
And the people all sang: (MV #205 tune: Kingsfold)
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!
And now, as beloved children of a loving Parent, we pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

Breaking, Pouring, ServingThe Bread we break is the Bread of Life.
The Cup we Share is the Cup of Love.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.Come and eat, the banquet awaits.

ClosingWe have eaten, we have drunk, we have tasted your goodness. May this meal we have shared here today fill our souls with Love. May the meal we share with all the world fill the world with Hope. May we leave this table refreshed and replenished, ready to be recipients and agents of Grace. Amen.

The Banquet of Hopeful Expectation -- Advent Communion

Invitation
God’s Banquet is coming. The time we await when all will gather from North, East, West and South.
A banquet where the rich and powerful will sit with the weak and poverty-stricken. A table where young and old will learn from each other. A time when all will sit together in peace, “and the wolf will lie down with the lamb”.
Here at this table we get a foretaste of God’s banquet. This is indeed God’s table, not the church’s, and so all who seek to follow The Way are welcome to eat and drink from it.
Come and taste the grace eternal, come and see that God is good.

The Great Thanksgiving
God is with us
We are not alone
Christ is present here
The Spirit moves within us
Let us give thanks to God
In memory and in hope
Blessings be to you, Creator God,
Who in the beginning brought light and life to the world and who continues to bring it love and light everlasting.
Your song of wisdom echoes through the ages, your ancient promise still brings us hope.
Over the ages you have called people to embrace your hope and share your love.
But even when they have closed their ears to the song you did not stop singing.
You sent prophets and messengers to your people, reminding them of the promised time of peace and justice that would surround the world.
They came in the midst of our despair and filled us with hope.
And then you came to a young woman named Mary and laid out the promise in a new way
Promising her a son, who would be called Jesus
Promising her that in her son the world would be changed
And now as we prepare for that child to be born, we echo the ancient cry:
O come, O come Emmanuel

And also we lift our voices in song, singing together the praises of ages (MV #203 tune: Kingsfold)
O holy holy holy God,
O God of time and space.
All earth and sea and sky above
bear witness to your Grace.
Hosanna in the highest heav’n,
creation sings your praise.
And blessed is the One who comes
and bears Your name always
The Story Remembered
Yet even now, as we prepare to celebrate his birth, we remember the life that this baby will live.
We remember how he broke the bonds of human tradition to show all what the Banquet of Hope could be as he ate openly with the despised and the outcast of his world.
And we remember one special meal, foretaste of the banquet that is to come, that he ate with his closest friends.
Gathering them together in an upper room to share the story of liberation, he prepared them for liberation.
And at the end of the meal he took bread, blessed and broke it, then passed it to them saying:
Take and eat. This bread is the body of Life, broken by the world. Eat it in remembrance and in hope.
After that he took the cup, blessed it, and passed it to them saying:
This cup is the sign of the New Covenant. Whenever you drink it remember me, for I shall not eat or drink again until the time of the heavenly banquet.
Remembering the birth of the child in the stable, we remember also his life, his death and his resurrection.
We remember how he poured his love out all he met and look forward to his return and the coming reign of peace, love, and justice.

And in our remembering we sing the mystery of faith (MV #204 tune: Kingsfold)
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!

The Spirit Transforms
God, you poured your Spirit on Mary and she sang words of defiance and hope.
Pour out your Spirit upon us gathered here. As we eat and drink may we know your presence.
As we eat and drink may we be opened to the possibilities of your hope and power
And may we be strengthened in our time of waiting for peace and justice so that we will have the courage to make the Christmas promise a reality.

And the people all sang: (MV #205 tune: Kingsfold)
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!
And now, as beloved children of a loving Parent, we pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

The Pouring and Breaking and Serving
The Bread we break is the Bread of Life
The Cup we Share is the Cup of Promise
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
Come and eat, the banquet awaits.

Prayer Following Communion
God of pregnant expectations, God of Christmas promise, God of child-like hope, we have eaten and drunk from your table. May the eating and the drinking fill us with hope in a world of despair. May we be beacons of hope as we wait for the day when the world will be changed. Grant that this taste of your banquet which is to come would give us the hunger for peace and justice in our community and around the world. Amen

Worldwide Communion #1

Invitation
God’s Banquet is coming. A time when all will gather from North, East, West and South.
A banquet where the rich and powerful will sit with the weak and poverty-stricken. A table where young and old will learn from each other. A time when all will sit together in peace, “and the wolf will lie down with the lamb”.
Here at this table we get a foretaste of God’s banquet. This is indeed God’s table, not the church’s, and so all who seek to follow The Way are welcome to eat and drink from it.
Come and taste the grace eternal, come and see that God is good.

The Great Thanksgiving
The Spirit of God be with you. And also with you.
It is time to give thanks to God. Let us pray.
God of the table, as we gather to taste your banquet we offer prayers of thanksgiving,
In this season of harvest we give thanks for the fruit of the earth, for the food on our tables.
In this global village we give thanks for our brothers, sisters, and neighbours both near and far.
In this world of strife and broken relationships we give thanks for your Hope, for the ways your draw us together.
God of the banquet, we give thanks for your witness and work in the world across the ages.
We remember Moses and Miriam and the people they led to freedom.
We remember the prophets who arise over and over again to call your people back to the narrow path.
We remember the countless saints who have gone before us, preparing the path, and we join our voices to theirs in hymns of thankfulness and praise. Holy Holy Holy is your name indeed. Amen.

We Remember the Story
And in the midst of our thankfulness we remember the one in whose name we gather, Jesus, child of Mary.
We thank you for his witness, for his commitment to your Way, for the way he brought healing to broken spirits and broken bodies.
Thankfully we remember his death, his resurrection, and his promised return for the Banquet of Grace.
And now, as we gather at the table, we remember the last meal he shared with his friends. How they gathered in an upper room to celebrate the story of liberation and freedom. How he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and passed it among them saying,
“Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. When you eat this remember me and look for the hope in your world.”
Then later he took the cup. He blessed it and passed it saying,
“This cup is the cup of the new covenant, made in my death. Whenever you drink from it, remember.”
And so, God of Cross, Empty Tomb, and Banquet, we remember the life and death of Jesus and we give thanks for the love he poured out on all he met: sinner and saint, leper and clean, Jew and Gentile. We remember and we share that great and terrible mystery:
Christ has died,
Christ has Risen,
Christ will come again. Amen.

The Spirit of Transformation
God, you call us to eat and drink together. You call us to let the Spirit wash through our lives. As we eat and drink may we feel the fire of the Spirit in our bellies, the wind of the Spirit in our hair, and the love of the Spirit in our hearts. May the Spirit's presence make this meal one that changes us and, through us, the world. Amen.
God of the Banquet that is and is to come, we gather with your people all around the world to remember and share this meal. Creator, Source of Love, Christ, Love incarnate, Spirit, Love’s flowing power be praised. Now and forever. So Be It.

And the people all cried Amen. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer
And now, like children racing into their mother’s arms we say together: Our Father, who art in heaven…

Fraction and Distribution
The Bread we break is the Bread of Life.
The Cup we Share is the Cup of Love.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
Come and eat, the banquet awaits.

Prayer Following Communion
We have eaten, we have drunk, we have tasted your goodness. May this meal we have shared here today fill our souls with Love. May the meal we share with all the world fill the world with Hope. May we leave this table refreshed and replenished, ready to be recipients and agents of Grace. Amen.

WAITING ANXIOUSLY – A PRAYER FOR MANY VOICES

#1: God, every time I turn on the news I get depressed. There are so many places where people live such violent lives. Using war as a way of settling disputes doesn’t seem to be going away. How much longer do we need to put up with this? The prophets of old promised there would be a time when war would be no more and people would live in peace. Isn’t it time for that to happen?
O God how long?
We wait with hope, we trust in the promise.

#2: Why are children hungry? That’s what I want to know God. Over and over again I read that You want us to ensure everybody has their basic needs met. But still there are people without homes, without clothes, without enough to eat. Why are we still waiting for justice?
O God how long?
We wait with hope, we trust in the promise.

#3: Another mill closing. One a week it seems. The news seems so bleak for this part of the world. The economy just keeps sounding worse. There have to be better days out there somewhere. Mining or forestry or something else has to happen. How many young people will we lose before then? How do we continue to live abundant lives while we wait? We need some good news, even just a little bit to keep us going.
O God how long?
We wait with hope, we trust in the promise.

#4: God, I worry about the church. Across the country, at many levels, in many denominations, there is a mood of crisis. There is anxiety about money; there is anxiety about shrinking numbers and aging members; there is anxiety about how long things can continue as they are. I know there is a place for the church in the world and in the lives of the people around me but we could really use a sign that it will be there for our children. I look for a road that will take us into the future, I await a sign that the church can continue to be a place that gives life to God’s people.
O God how long?
We wait with hope, we trust in the promise.

#5: God, long ago you sent a liberator into Egypt to free your people suffering under Empire. Then you promised a Messiah as they struggled under other Empires over the years. Then a man named Jesus came and brought words of liberation in a new way and a new understanding. Now we who in the midst of a new Empire continue to cry for liberation. We need a new liberator, another coming of an Anointed One to give us life in abundance. We wait for you to once again break into our world in new and surprising ways.
O God how long?
We wait with hope, we trust in the promise.
And the people all said Amen. Amen

THe Dreams -- Nov 11 Story

“Stop IT! Stop IT! For God’s Sake STOP!” screamed Marilyn as she sat bolt upright out of a sound sleep. Instinctively she reached out, searching for her helmet. Instead she found her husband, rolling over to comfort her.
“It was just a dream, just a dream. You’re home now” he said, stroking her hair softly.
“Mama, mama, what’s wrong?” came a small voice as young Joel ran into the room.
“Mommy had another bad dream” Marilyn said, breathing deeply. “Time to get ready to go to the service anyway, why don’t you and daddy go down and start breakfast.” she suggested. “And make sure great-grandpa is awake too”. After they had left Marilyn sat still for a moment. When would the dreams stop? It had been a year since she had returned from her Peacekeeping mission but still she kept hearing gunfire and seeing angry people in her head. Even worse were the visions of blood and mangled bodies from a bombing, or a mine explosion. When would it all stop?
When Marilyn got down to the kitchen everybody else was already eating. She looked over at her grandfather, resplendent in his Legion blazer and bar of medals on his chest. She knew how important this day was for him every year. “Did the dreams come again dear?” he asked gently.
“Yes” Marilyn said sadly. “Grandpa, when do they stop? When do I get to sleep again”
“I don’t know”, he said thoughtfully. “I still get them once in a while. I wake up convinced I am back in Italy with the guns blazing. But they don’t come as often, a little less often each year.”
Young Joel couldn’t contain himself. “Why do you cry so much mommy? Aren’t you happy to be back?” Marilyn tried to answer but the words just weren’t there. Instead she reached out and wrapped Joel in her arms, tears streaming down her face.
It was Great-Grandpa Joel who answered. “Your mommy is very happy to be home Joel. But sometimes there are things that happen that we can’t leave behind us very easily.”
“You mean like when you were in the war” asked Joel, fighting to free himself from his mother’s arms.
“Yes,” said the older Joel. “Even though I came home 60 years ago I still cry when I think about those days and remember the friends I made, and the friends who never came back.”
“Is that why we are going to the cenotaph today?” asked the child. “My teacher says that today is a special day when we remember everyone who fought in the wars.”
“That’s right”, said the older man. “Each year I stand there and remember all those things. It hurts, it hurts a lot sometimes.”
“But if it hurts why do you do it?” young Joel asked.
“Because I have to. Because if we don’t remember then we don’t learn.” came the reply.
Young Joel thought about that for a moment. “Learn what?” he asked.
“That war is a terrible thing.” his great-grandpa replied.
“Did you kill people in the war” the young boy asked.
JOEL!” his father said, trying to shush him.
“No, it’s okay,” the veteran replied. “Yes Joel, I am sure that I did. But I don’t like to think about that. I saw a lot of people get killed and hurt too.”
“Is that what you see when your have the dreams?”
“Yes, that is a part of it.”
“But my mom didn’t go to war. She promised she wasn’t going to war. Why does she have such bad dreams?” This time Joel’s eyes were filling with tears. “I don’t like it when she cries, or screams at night.
Marilyn tried to answer but couldn’t, her voice suddenly disappeared, so the old veteran spoke again. “Your mom did something very hard Joel. She went to a place where people were fighting and stood in between them. WE call that being a peacemaker. Canadians have done a lot of it over the years, in fact it was a Canadian that came up with the idea.”
Young Joel tried to understand, “so they go to make people stop fighting?” he asked.
“Well, sort of.” Great-grandpa replied. “But sometimes the people are so mad that they still try to hurt each other. Then people like your mom and her friends get caught in the middle.”
“Oh” said Joel, “that was very brave mama.”
Marilyn smiled. “Thank you sweetheart. But I was just doing my job.”
Suddenly young Joel looked very confused, “Last Sunday my Sunday School teacher told me that war is a bad thing. Why did so many people do a bad thing?” he asked. For a moment nobody said anything as all the adults tried to come up with an answer. Then Old Joel sighed heavily.
“Your teacher was right Joel. War is a very very very bad thing. But sometimes we have to do bad things because to not do them would be worse.”
Now Joel was really confused. “That doesn’t make sense”, he said. “Either you do the right thing or the wrong thing.”
“Well,” his great grandfather said, “that is usually right. But sometimes we have to choose what is less wrong. People call that choosing between two evils. Have you ever heard a story about wolves lying down with lambs?” The boy nodded. “Well that comes from the Bible, it is talking about how God would like us to live, how God wants even old enemies to learn how to be together without fighting. Until we learn how to do that there will still be times when people like your mom and I have to go and see terrible things.”
Young Joel thought about this for a moment. Then he looked deep into the old man’s eyes and asked, “Great-grandpa, are you sorry you went to war?”
The old man’s face paled for a moment. “No, I don’t think I am sorry I went.” he said slowly. “I am just sorry that I had to go.”
Joel looked at his mom. “And are you sorry you went away mama?”
“I think I would say the same as grandpa dear. I went because I had to; I just wish nobody ever had to.”
Joel looked at his mom, and then at his great-grandfather, then back at his mom. “I think you are both really brave” he said, “and I think it is good you did what you had to do. And I really hope we can get a pet wolf and a pet lamb to live together sometime really soon. I hope people will stop killing each other and maybe then mama’s dreams will go away.”
“I hope so too honey,” said Marilyn, “I hope so too.” “Come on, it’s almost time to leave for the service.”

Nov 11 Sermon

Why Celebrate War?
A Dialogue Sermon for Remembrance Day
Royal Canadian Legion Branch #145
Atikokan ON

Gord: Greg! Greg! Time to go to the Remembrance Day service! Why aren’t you ready yet?
Greg: Because I’m not going.
Gord: Not going? But you always said you liked the Remembrance Day service?
Greg: Well I just don’t get it. Why do we make such a fuss?
Gord: I don’t understand. You know what Remembrance Day is right?
Greg: Yeah, we get together at the same time on the same day that World War 1 ended to remember the war and the people who fought in it.
Gord: That’s right.
Greg: But most of those people are dead now. I mean they aren’t there anymore, why can’t we just all sleep in?
Gord: Well do we only gather for their benefit? Or do we do it for us too?
Greg: I don’t get it.
Gord: IF we only had ceremonies on Remembrance Day to say thanks to those people who went to war, or to let them remember their friends then yeah, we would stop doing them soon. But I think we celebrate Remembrance Day for other reasons too. What do you think those might be?
Greg: I don’t know, to celebrate heroes?
Gord: That is one thing. But more than that, we celebrate Remembrance Day to remind us of the reality and the possibility of war.
Greg: What do you mean?
Gord: Well a long time ago a man named George Santayana said that people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. We pause to remember war in the hopes that we can avoid it happening again.
Greg: Doesn’t look like that is working very well. You sure that Santayana guy wasn’t a teacher reminding kids to study?
Gord: Well your right, we do seem to have trouble avoiding wars. You know, they called World War 1 the “war to end all wars”, that’s how disturbing they found it. But unfortunately the name didn’t come true. Still we pray that one of the wars will be the last one. You ready to go to the service yet?
Greg: Not quite, I still have a few questions. Like why do we talk about celebrating this day? I mean you hear all sorts of stories about heroes and great things people did during the wars, doesn’t it make it seem like we are celebrating the war? I thought we were supposed to work for peace?
Gord: That is a good question, or set of questions. Firstly, talking about celebrating the day means more that we find some way to make it special. IT doesn’t mean a celebration like a birthday or Christmas.
Greg: If you say so. But I know there are usually donuts.
Gord: Your question about celebrating the war is harder. I have heard a lot of people ask that over the years. And you are right, we are supposed to pray for peace. In fact in church we often talk about how God’s plan is for all people to live together peacefully.
Greg: Oh, like that story about the wolf and the lamb and the little baby with the snake den.
Gord: Well really it is a prophecy not a story but yes that’s right. So one of the things I always do on Remembrance Day is pray for peace. Sometimes I use a lot of words but sometimes just two simple words the Legion has used in some of the videos they have produced over the years – Never Again.
Greg: OH, so we remember the people who went to war, we say thank-you to them, but we also remember that war is a terrible thing and promise to work for peace?
Gord: You got it! Ready to go?
Greg: Not quite. There are just 2 more things I don’t understand.
Gord: OK, what?
Greg: Well I had always thought that only the “other guys” did really bad things during the war but last year I heard people talking about Canadians doing some not so good things. How do we remember those sorts of things?
Gord: Well that is part of being honest with ourselves about what war means. Have you ever heard the saying “the winners write history”? (Greg nods) Well if we are serious about working for peace we need to write that history carefully. The fact is that by many standards all countries do things they wish they hadn’t or at least wish they hadn’t had to do during a war. Along the same line, I have always believed that Remembrance Day was for remembering all the people who died in a war, not just our own soldiers. We have to remember soldiers on both sides and also those people who just got caught living in the wrong place, and those people who were left at home. WE have to remember the whole story, and that might help us remember how important it is to avoid war again.
Greg: That makes sense. But I still don’t think I want to go to the service.
Gord: Why now?
Greg: Well I keep thinking about what is happening now in Afghanistan. Doesn’t it seem strange to worry about people fighting almost 100 years ago while Canadians are fighting right now?
Gord: Well sort of. But of course we remember them too, and the ones who have been killed in Afghanistan. And even though some of us question whether they should even be there we still need to find ways to remember them, to thank them for being willing, and to pray that they get home safely. All of those things can be part of Remembrance Day too. You see, over the years we focus on different things as the world changes. In the first few years it was a time for people to remember friends and relatives who had died in the war. Then it was a little bit farther away. And now for a lot of us it is a chance to remember our history and to remember the troubles of the present and to hope for the future.
Greg: I think I understand now. And I guess I can go to the service.
Gord: Good to hear. We need young people to keep remembering when the older folks are gone. We should never forget the pledge to be people of peace. Remembering what happens when we go to war is an important part of that.

Prologue for Christmas Eve (Based on John 1:1-5, Genesis 1:1-4)

(begin with all lights off except for cross & windows & rope lights & Tree & icicles – read from front of platform)

In the Beginning was the WORD. And the word was? The word was God. And the word was with God. But the word was what?

The WORD was the catalyst of creation, all things were created through the word. But still the word was what?

Try again. In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and darkness covered the face of the deep. Then God spoke into the darkness saying “Let there be light!” and there was light. (crack/activate light stick – light sticks scattered throughout congregation will also be activated now)

There! There it is! The WORD was LIGHT! In the light was life for all and in the life was light for all. The Word was Light!!!!!

But the darkness remained. For God separated the Light from the darkness and said that it was good. But the darkness remains…

As the years fly by God’s people strive to be people of the word, people of the light. But just beyond the glow is the darkness. Always it seems like the darkness is trying to overtake the light. Empires rise and fall. Prophets and wise women speak out and are silenced. Still the WORD, the LIGHT, is there, shining.

At various times the light is hidden, the word seems silent (drape cloth over the light stick) but the light never goes away. For behold, the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not, will not, and can not overcome it (uncover the light stick).

And so, all those who walk in times of great darkness still gather to have light shined upon them. And so we gather in search of the light, which shall be for all people, Glory to God in the highest! And on Earth Peace. (lights go on)