Acknowledging the Territory
As always, we begin our worship by taking a moment to recognize land upon which we gather is, by law, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. We offer our gratitude for this land and for those who have cared for it and tended it before our ancestors arrived. We ask the Creator to help us use and share this land wisely.
Lighting the Christ Candle
As we light our Christ candle this morning, we open our hearts and our lives to the light of Christ. And we commit ourselves to allow that light shine through us in all that we do.
Call to Worship
Our world is full of light and darkness.
We choose to stand in the light.
The world is full of those who help and those who hurt.
We choose to help.
The world is full of opportunities to be generous or to be selfish.
We choose to be generous.
The world is full of all kinds of people, but we are here today because we are a people who have chosen to stand in the light.
We are a people who have chosen to gather in worship.
So come, let us worship together.
Opening Prayer (in unison)
Divine Light, you shine all around us and call us out of the darkness that often overwhelms our world. But sometimes the light is too bright and we would rather hide in the dark. Sometimes the light illuminates a path we would rather not take. Sometimes we are afraid to look at the light for fear it will blind us. But regardless of how we react, you continue to shine your light on us. And so, as we gather here today in the light of your presence, we ask you for the courage to stand tall, allowing your light to touch and change us and allowing it to shine through us to touch others. Amen
Gift of Music Jesus Bids Us Shine #585
Sirach 47:8, 12-17
Like our first reading from last week, our first reading today is taken from the book of Sirach, found in the Apocrypha. It reminds us of the great influence that both King David and King Solomon had, not only in their own time but throughout history.
Our second reading is one that you may never remember hearing. It does not show up anywhere in the Revised Common Lectionary. It tells of a time after the resurrection when Peter and the other apostles became known as healers. It was said that’s a person could be healed simply by having Peter’s shadow fall upon them as he passed by.
Shadows of Influence
The beloved character of Peter Pan was created by Scottish novelist and play write James Matthew Barrie. Pan first appeared in Barrie’s The Little White Bird, a 1902 adult novel. In the novel Peter was a seven-day-old baby and was flown from his nursery to Kensington Gardens in London, where the fairies and birds taught him to fly. Two year later, Barrie returned to the character of Peter Pan and created a stage play titled Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. It premiered in London on December 27th 1904. Barrie later adapted and expanded the play’s storyline as a novel, published in 1911 as Peter and Wendy.
Although Walt Disney acquired the rights to produce an animated film based on Barrie’s story in 1939 it was not until 1953 that the Disney movie Peter Pan was released. Pre-production on the film had started in 1940 but with the bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941 work on both Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, which was also in pre-production, were temporarily shelved.
During the war years, the United States military actually took control of Disney studios and commissioned Walt Disney Productions to produce training and war propaganda films. Financially it was a very difficult time for Disney and it was not until 1947, that Walt Disney Productions’ financial situation started to improve again. In order to restore the studio to full financial health, Disney decided to return to his true passion, producing full-length animated films for children and families.
By this time, there were three animated projects —Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella— all in various stages of development. It was decided that Cinderella, being most similar to Disney’s greatest success, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, would be the best option, so once again Peter Pan was put on hold. Cinderella was released in 1950 and was a great success. Work resumed on the other two films and in 1951 Disney released Alice in Wonderland and in 1953 Peter Pan was finally released.
The movie itself begins in the London home of the Darling family, where Mr. Darling is nervously preparing for an important social engagement. But when he discovers that his two sons, John and Michael, have ‘borrowed’ his cuff links and his shirt in order to re-enact one of the bedtime stories their sister Wendy had been telling them, Mr. Darling is furious. He declares that it is time for Wendy to grow up, and announces that the following day she will be moved out of the nursery and into a room of her own.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling leave for the evening, and as they disappear down the street, we see Peter Pan for the first time. He is sitting on the roof with his pixie side kick, Tinker Bell. They have come in search of Peter’s shadow which has escaped him. They have followed it to the Darling house and once Mr. and Mrs. Darling leave, they enter the nursery through an open window. When they finally find Peter’s shadow, it makes another play for freedom and Peter is unable to control it. The noise of the chase wakes Wendy and she suggests that she might fix the problem by sewing Peter’s shadow to the soles of his shoes.
Shadows are tricky things. None of us can control them. None of us can decide where or when we will cast a shadow. But we all cast shadows, and those shadows have an influence on those around us. Like the ripples on a pond, that continues to spread outward until they touch the farthest shore, the shadows of the things we do in our own lives spread out in ways that we could never imagine.
In our gospel lesson, the shadow that is cast by the apostle Peter was believed to heal those that it touched. As a result, people came from all over, to place the ill and crippled along the roadways hoping that Peter’s shadow would fall on them as he passed by.
In the story of Peter Pan, it is actually because of Peter’s shadow that the entire Neverland adventure of Wendy, John and Michael begins. As Wendy reattaches Peter’s shadow, she tells him that this will be her last night in the nursery. Peter is horrified and offers to take her to Neverland where she will never have to grow up. By this time, John and Michael are also awake and want to go with them. With the help of a bit of pixie dust, Peter teaches the trio to fly and they all head off to Neverland.
The moment they arrive, however, they are attached by Captain Hook and his band of pirates. Peter tells Tinker Bell to take Wendy, John and Michael to his hideout while he distracts the pirates. But Tinker Bell has become jealous of Peter’s attention to Wendy and instead of asking the Lost Boys to protect Wendy, Tinker Bell tells them to attack her. Peter arrives just in time to save Wendy, scolding Tinker Bell for her behaviour and banishing her.
When Hook finds out that Tinker Bell has been banished, he kidnaps her and, playing on her jealousy, he convinces her that he intends on leaving Neverland forever. He offers to take Wendy with him if Tinker Bell will only tell him where she is hiding. Tinker Bell falls for the deception and reveals the location of Peter’s hideout. But as soon as Hook has the information he wanted, he locks Tinker Bell in a lantern and attacks Peter’s hideout. He captures everyone except Peter. Hoping to destroy Peter another way, he leaves behind a bomb disguised as a gift for Peter from Wendy.
Peter finds the gift and is about to open it when Tinker Bell, who has escaped from the lantern, throws herself between Peter and the bomb, putting herself in danger in order to save Peter. Peter is uninjured and is able to revive Tinker Bell. He assures her that she doesn’t need to be jealous because she is means more to him than anything in the world.
Although Tinker Bell immediately regretted having told Hook where to find Peter’s hideout, once she had told him, she could not undo what she had done. Like a shadow that has been cast, it could not be taken back.
The same is true of other shadows that had been cast throughout the movie. Mr. Darlings decision to move Wendy out of the nursery cast a shadow that caused Wendy to worry about being forced to grow up. Wendy’s decision to help Peter by reattaching his shadow, caused Peter’s to offer to take her to Neverland. And Peter’s decision to take Wendy to Neverland cast a shadow that sparked Tinker Bell’s jealousy in the first place. Each decision made, and each shadow cast influenced what would happen next.
The same is true for us. We all cast shadows, and once they are cast, we cannot take them back. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever said or done something that I immediately regretted. But no matter how much I might have regretted it or how sincerely I might have apologized, once said or done, like a shadow that has been cast, it could not be undone.
After an epic battle in which Peter and the Lost Boys, with the help of the Darling children, defeat Captain Hook and the Pirates, John, Michael and Wendy decide it is time to go home. Tinker Bell sprinkles pixie dust on the pirate ship and they all sail back to London. The movie ends with Mr. Darling looking up at the night sky from the window in the nursery at a cloud that looks suspiciously like a pirate ship.
But before we leave Disney’s Peter Pan behind, there is one more truth about shadows that we need to consider. The kind of shadow that we cast has to do with the kind of light in which we stand.
The light in which Peter Pan and the Darling children stood, the light that shone around them, was the light of wonder and awe. It was the light that is inspired by the magic of childhood imagination, by a dedication to justice and fair play, by an ethical commitment to loyalty and love, and by the simple joy and wonder in life itself. Like the light that shines on a bright sunny day, this light radiates with the kind of brilliance and clarity that produces shadows that are always clearly visible and sharply defined.
On the other hand, the light in which Captain Hook and the Pirates stood, was based on a quest for revenge, a practice of treachery and deceit, and the kind of ruthlessness that totally disregards any expectation of fair play or justice. They never thought about how their actions might affect others. They worried only about getting what they want. Such a dim and distorted light casts shadows that are often warped and even frightening.
We can choose the kind of shadows that we cast, because we can choose the kind of light in which we stand. We can choose to ruthlessly pursue our own self-interest or we can choose to pursue, not what is best for us alone, but what is best for everyone. We can choose to stand in the light of justice, kindness, loyalty and love or we can choose to turn our back on these things and give in to cynicism that so often seems to permeate our world.
Before he died in 1937, J. M. Barrie bequeath all rights and royalties from Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London. His shadow, and that of Peter Pan, continue to bring light and hope to thousands of children and parents every year.
My deepest prayer is that the shadows that each of us cast in our own lives will ultimately become an influence for good. And, to that end, may we all learn to stand firmly in the light of God’s ever shinning love. Amen.
Gift of Music You Call Us Out #569
We Offer Our Gifts
At this time in our worship, we are reminded that our commitment to God also includes the gifts we offer. We may offer our gifts by placing them on our offering plates, by giving through PAR or through other ways of making donations. But, as always, we need to remember that our financial contributions are only one of the many things that we have to offer. We offer our time, our talents, our abilities, our commitments and our prayers. And so, whatever it is we offer today, let us ask God’s blessing upon it.
Let us pray;
Loving God, as your spirit has continued to touch and bless people throughout history, bless the gifts that we offer you today that through your spirit they may become a blessing to others. Amen.
We Offer Our Prayers
And now, let us take a moment to remember all those named in our prayer jar, in our hearts and our thoughts this day … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Prayers of the People
We know that there is darkness in our world, Divine One, the darkness of poverty, disease, and exploitation – the darkness of fear, anger, and despair – the darkness of selfishness and blind ambition that ignore the needs and rights of others. We know that such darkness lurks in the shadows of all of our lives. We know that those shadows which are often murky and distorted, can appear to be what they are not, and we can sometimes get lost in them.
But you challenge us to stand in the light. You challenge us to allow that light of your presence, the light of love, generosity, justice, honesty, faithfulness and trust to surround us, warming our hearts and illuminating the choices we should make. As we stand in your light, may the shadows we cast bring hope and healing…
Where there is anger, antagonism, and resentment may we bring a shadow of peaceful dialogue and a willingness to seek understanding and compromise…
Where there is inequality, discrimination and the abuse of power, may we bring a shadow of fairness, equality and a willingness to share more equitably the resources of our world…
Where there is unemployment, poverty and lack of resources, may we be willing to stand up and speak out for justice, casting a shadow of solidarity…
Where there is illness, disease and physical pain and suffering, may we bring a shadow of compassion and support…
Where there is loneliness, isolation, depression and addiction, may we learn to truly listen, bringing shadows of hope and understanding…
In our own times of struggle, both as individuals and as a community, remind us that when we look for the light and when we commit ourselves to stand in that light, we will find the love and support we need, through the light that shines for all of us in the one we call the light of the world. Amen.
Closing Hymn I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me #575
So as you go out from here into the bright sunlight of this beautiful summer day, take a look at the shadows you are casting, and think about the other shadows that your life casts. Go out from here committed to walk in the light, knowing that when you do so, you are not walking alone. God is with you, Christ’s light shines all around you and the Spirit walks with you through all the light and shadows of life. Go with God.