Beacon United Church – June 18, 2023
Welcome, Announcements and Celebrations
Passing the Peace:
And now, let us greet one another with the peace of Christ.
Introit: VU#316 Praise Our Maker
Acknowledgement of Territory
We are gathered for worship on the traditional unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. We give thanks to the Mi’kmaq people who have walked on this land for many years. Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives and spirituality. We acknowledge their stewardship and care of this land from generation to generation.
Acknowledging the territory where we gather and the people who have traditionally called it home for thousands of years is only one way to continue to live out the United Church’s Apologies to the First Peoples of North America. May we, as a local congregation and a national church, seek other ways to work toward right relations, and move towards becoming the community that God calls us to be together.
Lighting the Christ Candle –
We light this candle to remind us that the light of Jesus the Christ shines in our world and that this light has been passed down to us from generation to generation. Help us reflect this light and this love to all we meet.
Call to Worship
One: God’s message has been passed down to us
All: From generation to generation to generation.
One: We gather this morning to continue the practice of praise and adoration.
All: We gather to learn together and to share together.
One: Let us sing, pray, listen and reflect.
All: Let us worship the God of yesterday, today and the future.
O God, we give thanks for the beauty of this June day and for all that is green and growing. We are grateful for friends, family and fathers, for reunions and weddings, for graduations and anniversaries. We give thanks for our church where we can share the ups and downs of our lives with one another and with you. As we gather together today, open us to your presence and help us discover what it is that you are calling us to do.
O God, we long for you, especially when we feel discouraged by our own efforts. We are afraid of what the future may bring. We separate ourselves from our siblings in Christ because they are different from us. When we pray, we sometimes feel that we are not heard. Be present with us. Heal the places of doubt, despair, and alienation. Cure us from all hatred and discrimination. Get rid of all that keeps us from you and from one another. Give us strength and courage to follow. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
Hymn: VU#395 Come In, Come In and Sit Down
Report from Regional Council – Sharon Lohnes
Our meeting did not start until Friday afternoon this year and so the agenda was packed full with little or no breaks. Most of the day was focused around opening motions, introductions and a service of remembrance for those we have lost over the past year. The business portion of Friday consisted of 5 proposals all of which passed. The first asked for a review of the parameters of Congregational Designated Ministers that was changed by General Council 44. The second approved the hiring of a “Cluster and Network Animator” who will help develop and support this work in our region. The third was to make our region officially affirming. Although Maritime Conference was affirming, the work had to be redone for our regional council. The fourth proposal dealt with how our region would meet over the next 5 years, with the decision to be made to meet in person every year. The last amendment dealt with our name. We are now officially Bermuda – Nova Scotia region rather than Region 15.
Saturday morning, we heard reports and elected our new President-Elect who will be President for 2024. In the afternoon we took part in workshops and then dealt with the Remit to enable the formation of an Autonomous National Indigenous Organization as part of The United Church of Canada. This is the same Remit that our Church Council will be voting on this fall. After hearing more reports, we celebrated our new relationship with Bermuda and then celebrated with our retirees and jubilarians. The youth led our evening worship followed by a “Kitchen Party”.
For more information on the workshops that Janet and I attended or on anything else mentioned in this report, you can speak to Janet or myself at any time.
Sunday morning, we celebrated the Ordination of one new Minister and the recognition of one Designated Lay Minister. We celebrated communion together and installed our new Regional President, Shauna MacDonald.
Our Guest Speaker for the weekend was Reverend Michael Blair, the General Secretary of The United Church of Canada, and Janet will tell you about that.
Janet Sollows –
The Rev. Dr. Michael Blair is the General Secretary of the United Church of Canada and we were fortunate to have him as our theme speaker at the Bermuda-Nova Scotia Regional Council Annual Meeting last week. Rev. Dr. Blair spoke on the theme “The Story of our Discipleship”. Discipleship is one of the three pillars of our region’s Strategic Plan. The other two are Mission and Leadership. The new purpose statement of the United Church of Canada is Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship and Daring Justice. He spoke on Friday evening and Saturday morning as well as giving the sermon during the Celebration of Ministry Service on Sunday morning.
Friday night, Michael Blair said that the question is not “Does the church have a future?” but rather “Does the future have a church and what kind of church will it be? We have nothing to offer that is unique. We need to claim ourselves as Christian. This doesn’t mean intolerance of other faiths. We have let the right-wing United States define us and we’ve tried to distance ourselves from that kind of Christianity and say “we are not like them.” We need to put Christianity in the context of Canada. The future of the United Church of Canada will be that the people of the United Church of Canada will claim or re-claim that they are unapologetically followers of Jesus Christ. Transformation is part of being part of a faith community. What do we have to offer the world? We can offer a God who loves them and will not abandon them. Discipleship is about rediscovering who we are and telling the stories of our discipleship and our relationship with Jesus. There can be no discipleship without relationship. Our discipleship is communal. Churches need to emphasize discipleship and not so much membership. The woman at well listened and talked to Jesus and went and told her community to “come and see.” We need to be transformed to the point where we can’t keep silent. We are being invited to sing a song of our faith.
Saturday morning, Michael Blair spoke about the five Communal Practices of Discipleship based on the Arusha Call to Discipleship. In order to change a person’s behaviour, you must first change their imagination. We need to change our imagination and imagine new possibilities.
Five Communal Practices of Discipleship:
He challenged our ideas of inclusivity and for us to look and see if our church truly reflects the diversity in our communities. We need to go beyond providing people with things they may need such as meals and lodging and challenge the economic systems that cause people to live in poverty. He said that the church is not about you. It’s about God’s desire to be in a world of despair and God’s desire to change the world through you.
Sunday morning – Go!
Michael Blair’s sermon on Sunday morning reminded us of the United Church of Canada’s new purpose statement of Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship and Daring Justice. To show us how to live out these words, Blair focused on the last verses of the Gospel of Matthew often referred to as “The Great Commission”. Following Jesus’ resurrection Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb and said, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” The invitation to Deep Spirituality is to go and meet Jesus. Go to where you need to meet him. Go to where Jesus invites you to meet him. We can do this by carving out time for prayer in our daily lives. Jesus was out and about. Our ministry needs to be out where the people are. We need to engage in the cycle of Go, Meet and Invite. It’s not about people coming to us. We are called to go to the places where God’s children need to know they are loved. This is how we become unapologetically Christian.
Introduction to the Scriptures
The 3 Scripture readings this morning have been chosen to show how the theme of telling new generations of the Biblical stories and core values is critical to continuing the legacy of God’s love passed down to us. It is our responsibility to share the stories and the love with each other and especially with our younger generations.
Prayer of Illumination
God of all ages, we listen to your word as our ancestors have in the past. Help us to discern what the message is to us in this time and in this space. We pray in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Celebrating the Word:
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Responsive Reading: Psalm 78 (VU# 792 Part One)
Refrain: We will tell new generations of the wonders God has done.
Give heed to my teaching, O my people,
turn your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will reveal the hidden meaning of things in the past.
What we have heard and known,
what our parents have told us,
we will not hide from their grandchildren,
but declare to the next generation
the testimony that you gave to Jacob
and the law you appointed in Israel,
which you commanded them to teach their children,
that the next generation might know them, children yet unborn,
and these in turn should arise, and tell their children
that they should put their trust in you,
and not forget your great deeds,
but keep all your commandments. R
New Testament Reading: Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Favorite Hymn Selection: MV #145 Draw the Circle Wide
Reflection: Telling New Generations
When I was teaching elementary school, Father’s Day was often a tricky occasion. There were many in the class who would be celebrating with their fathers or step-fathers but there were always a few who did not know their father, were estranged from or had a strained relationship with their father or their father had died. Occasionally we encountered this with Mother’s Day and mothers but more so with fathers and Father’s Day. It was often suggested that the child make a gift or card for a grandfather, a father-like figure in their lives or even for their mother. But the reality was that the child felt different and accommodated. In the church, many of us grew up thinking of God as a father-figure. Pronouns used were he and him. As worship leaders, now, we are being encouraged to be more inclusive, allowing people to expand their concept of the Divine and not limiting an image to one particular gender that we typically assign to human beings. It also gives room for those who did not have the experience of a loving father to identify with some other image. Whatever your concept or image of God is, we know that the stories of God at work in the lives of people have been passed down from generation to generation. We thank our ancestors for this.
I have been fortunate in my life to be surrounded with positive male role-models. My husband, my son, my brother and my late father have all helped in shaping my life and my faith. Today I would like to tell you the story of one of my ancestors who has had a profound effect of the lives of his subsequent generations. Some of you may have heard me tell this story before. I often use it as part of a Remembrance Day service. If you’ve heard this story before, think about it today as a story of a father instead of the story of someone going off to war.
My great-grandfather, James Howard Tupper was born in Round Hill near Bridgetown. He wanted to become a minister, but when his father became ill, James had to take over the family farm. After marrying and starting a family, he moved to Bridgetown to a smaller property. He thought that there would be a war and that he would be going, so he didn’t want to leave his wife with the responsibility of a farm. James was a very community-minded person, active in such organizations as the Masonic Lodge, Sons of Temperance, and the Fruit Growers Association. He even served a term on the town council. James was also involved with the militia. He was a sergeant in the 69th Regiment out of Annapolis. When the first contingent sailed to support Britain after the first World War broke out, James was granted compassionate leave because he had a newborn daughter at home- his fourth child. Later, a second Division was mobilized that included the 25th Battalion of Nova Scotia. James was stationed in Halifax where he helped to train the 25th Battalion. On May 20, 1915, the battalion sailed to England. On the night before he sailed, my great-grandfather wrote letters to his two oldest sons, to be read on their twelfth birthdays. This is the letter he wrote to my grandfather, his oldest son. I often think about how hard it must have been to write this when the future seemed so uncertain and dangerous. I read it this morning as a sample of fatherly or parenting advice that has been passed down throughout my family for several generations. He wrote:
My dear Son;
How dear you are to me you will never know or how hard it is for me to leave you, perhaps never to return, you can never understand unless you go through the same ordeal yourself some day and I hope you may never have to but if you do face it boy, face it bravely. Do not back down.
I love you with all the power of love within me and, now on the eve of my departure for war I am writing you and if I do not come back this will help you to understand why I went, why I took such a risk, why it was necessary.
I count my life cheap in the scale compared with the empire. I am a man and being a man, I could not stand by and see our country in danger and not do my best to save it. It does not appeal to all alike. As you grow older you will realize more fully what I mean. Perhaps when you read this the war will be over and peace in the world once more.
It may be my lot to fall and not return with the troops and if so I would like you to always remember that I loved you better than life itself. I have looked forward to the time when you would be a little older and I would be helping you shape your future and give you a father’s council and you would have the benefit of the years of experience I have had. We would be good friends, you and I, the best of friends. You are my oldest son and I hope you will grow up to be as good a man as you promise to at present.
My boy, always be good to your mother. If my actions deprive you of a father, you will still have one of the best of mothers. You cannot afford to neglect her. Honour her and love her above all else and you can safely rely on her councils and judgment. Be kind and true to Grandma. She is Daddy’s mother and has a great store of wisdom for boys and girls.
I must think of you as a boy of twelve, a big boy, a true boy, a boy who will make a man. True men are not plenty and all boys are not true boys. Be a true boy. There are things to be true to. First, be true to your “God”. Second, be true to yourself. Third, be true to your country.
You can be true to your God by obeying His commands, carrying out His will and being kind to all His creatures.
You can be true to yourself by treating yourself fair. God has given you a body to go through this life. Use your body in the way He would wish you to. Keep your body clean, that will keep it healthy. Keep your mind clean by reading good books, thinking good thoughts and doing kind acts. Choose clean friends and always be friendly. Never go back on a friend. One good friend is worth a great many poor ones.
In your play and daily contact with your friends and school fellows be clean in your conduct to them, particularly with the girls. Remember you are a gentleman and treat them as ladies. No matter what they are like it will not excuse you. Avoid the bad ones. You cannot afford to spend time with them. That would not be treating yourself fairly.
To get an education God has given you a time of youth to prepare your mind, knowledge gained every day but only one day at a time. You will get tired of school and you will see boys who do not do very much and you will think they get along just as well but they will not and they will perhaps find it out in time.
Study your lessons each day, one day at a time and you will find the better you know your lessons the better you will like to go to school. You will not be true to yourself unless you learn your lessons each day as they come along. You are storing up knowledge that will be most useful bye and bye. Get your storehouse “your mind” well stored with the useful knowledge you get at school and as you go through life you will always find use for it and no man can take it from you and you cannot lose it. You will always have it.
Be true to yourself in your play. Play fair or not at all. A boy who will not play fair is likely to make a man who will cheat in his business. They are both on the same road. The business comes a little further along.
You can be true to your country by being a good citizen, one ever ready to defend what is right and oppose what is wrong. As you grow to manhood you will have to decide on many questions, “public questions” and take one side or the other. It is your duty to do that. Decide honestly and then act accordingly.
If filling any office of any society, or in any public capacity, do your best. This is all included in “citizenship” of the right kind. It is not always necessary to die for your country to serve her. You can live for her, only do your duty as you see it and you will be fulfilling your obligations.
I have many friends upon whom you can rely for council and help … (and he names his friends and even a couple of men not to rely on for counsel!)
And now my own dear boy may God keep you, protect you and watch over you and make you worthy of the love bestowed upon you.
Be kind to your sisters. You have two sisters now and I hope you will have them for many years. You and Douglas love each other which is right. I know you both love your sisters and they love you. How happy you will all be.
My own dear boy I must close. I cannot express my love for you. May God keep you and watch over you.
Your loving Father,
While in England, James was promoted to Major and given command of “A” Company. The 25th battalion took part in several battles and on July 16, 1916, they started their march to Albert, France, arriving on September 10. The Battle of Courcelette began early in the day on the 15th of September. On September 16, Major Tupper was hit by a German sniper. Major Tupper insisted that the stretcher-bearers carry out his injured men first. He was then evacuated back to Albert and died several hours later. James was 42 when he was killed. Unlike many of the younger soldiers who had enlisted, he left behind a wife and four young children ranging in age from 2-10. The letter to his son, Douglas, is similar in its advice and instruction. Both of his sons, Borden and Douglas went on to become ministers in the United Church of Canada. In November, 2020, when I was President of Region 15, I had the privilege, as President and Borden’s granddaughter to ordain Douglas’ granddaughter, Shannon MacLean as a minister of the United Church of Canada.
The Bible reminds us over and over to tell new generations of the love of God and it urges the present generation to seek the counsel of past generations. I didn’t use the lectionary readings this morning, but rather chose Scriptures that talked about telling the Good News and instructing the young. Job 8, verses 8 – 10 says, “For inquire now of bygone generations, and consider what their ancestors have found; for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?” There are also many Proverbs that speak to the role of instructing the young.
The picture on the screen is of my brother’s family in the graveyard in Albert, France, where my great-grandfather is buried. His three young children are gathered around him and he is reading my great-grandfather’s letter to them. On September 17, 2016, the descendants of James Howard Tupper reflected on the messages contained in the two letters to his sons and how his words have had an effect on how we have chosen to live our lives. We were marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Major James Howard Tupper. His children had all died at this point so no one present had ever met this man. Yet, we all felt connected and affected by his life. During Covid, we started the tradition of a Zoom call on November 11 of any descendants of James Howard Tupper to come together and reflect on his legacy.
Last fall, my uncle was going through this filing cabinet and found a scribbler where my grandfather had handwritten reflections on his life. I offered to type up the notes and we ended up publishing a little booklet with pictures for family members. He reflected on his early life with his father, his father’s death and then growing up without a father. He talked about the men who became male influences in his life. He discussed his call to ministry even though he was shy and reluctant to answer the call. He talked about his university days, meeting my grandmother, the four pastoral charges he served and his retirement. As I was typing his notes, I read, “I just wanted my grandchildren to know…” and I knew that this scribbler was for us. This epistle was written in 1977 and was 23 hand-written scribbler pages long. To find it 45 years later was truly a gift. He says, “Through the many joys and happiness that is ours, one of the greatest is to revel in the kindness and thoughtfulness of our children and their spouses. It is a source of great joy to see our grandchildren so often and get to know them. I trust and hope that they will carry through their lives happy memories of their grandparents who love them so dearly and pray that in some way we may be a help and inspiration to them.”
Telling new generations is essential for carrying values forward. As Christians, we need to tell new generations of God’s love through Jesus. As citizens of this world, we need to tell new generations of the lessons we’ve learned from our own experiences and the experiences that we have heard of from our ancestors and leaders. On Father’s Day, let us reflect on the legacy of love and the examples of faith that have been passed on to us, not only from fathers but from all of our ancestors. May we all be inspired to pass along the stories of our discipleship to all of God’s children so that future generations can move closer to building the world God envisions. Go. Tell. Invite. Amen.
Hymn: VU#343 I Love to Tell the Story
We Offer Our Gifts
We give thanks for the heritage that is so richly ours. We present our gifts this morning in response to our gratitude and our wish that generations to come will know of our love and continue your work.
Offertory Response – MV#191 What Can I Do?
What can I do? What can I bring?
What can I say? What can I sing?
I’ll sing with joy. I’ll say a prayer.
I’ll bring my love. I’ll do my share.
©Paul Rumbolt and Michele McCarthy used by permission OneLicense #A723756
Timeless God, you have revealed yourself through ancestors of faith and continue to speak to us through modern-day sojourners. We gather as people of faith have gathered over the eons, in humility and commitment. May the gifts offered continue to tell the story of faithfulness, gifts that we offer in the name of Christ. Amen.
(Written by Laura Turnbull. Gathering, Pentecost 1 2017, page 39. Used with permission.)
We Offer Our Prayers
Let us take a moment to remember those who are specifically named in our prayer jar as well as any other name that you hold in your hearts this morning.
Minute for Mission – The Path toward Healing: Murray Pruden’s Work
Healing begins with truth and reconciliation.
In late October 2022, the federal government recognized the residential school system as an act of genocide against Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
It was a reminder that we are still very much on the path to reconciliation and healing.
“We know that we have an impact as The United Church of Canada,” says the Rev. Murray Pruden. He is Nehiyaw, Cree First Nations, from the Goodfish Lake and Saddle Lake First Nations and is the current Executive Minister for Indigenous Ministries and Justice for The United Church of Canada.
Supported by Mission & Service, Pruden has made significant gains in building relationships of trust and healing between the church and Indigenous communities.
After unmarked graves were discovered in Kamloops, BC, in 2021, the United Church gave an additional $3 million to help Indigenous communities respond, mourn, heal, and potentially find other unmarked graves.
Because we believe every child matters!
The funds also supported the dedication of memorials to lost children, like one for a BC community that raised a totem pole funded in part by Mission & Service.
Other healing initiatives include the translation of the Mohawk Language Bible, the Food for the North program, healing circles, and programs for Indigenous youth to learn and reclaim their languages.
Pruden stresses the need for patience.
“Ever since Kamloops, we had many non-Indigenous church communities and people ask what they can do or how can they contribute in different ways,” he says. “And we at the time really kind of put our hands up and said, ‘Whoa, we need to pause for a minute because we need to mourn.’
“I think that we still have so much to give, to teach, and to be in relationship with. And as long as we have a greater understanding within the church and the supports, we can do it.”
Relationships, friendships, understanding, and trust―these are the foundations of the work Mission & Service is doing across Turtle Island thanks to your generosity.
Prayers of the People – A Prayer for Father’s Day
O living and loving God, who was so creative, loving, and protective that Jesus called you Father, we offer our prayer today for the fathers of the world. Help them not to be so busy that they miss their children’s childhoods. Teach them to love, and to care about feelings and little things, that the whole world may be richer. Let them be gentle and loving to their children and their co-parents, in order that families may be strong and joyous. Show them how to relax and to play, and not to be so worried and caught up in things that don’t matter. Grant that they may be faithful in their relationships to you, that they may be models of honesty, integrity, spirituality, and wholesomeness to their children. And give us all a tender respect for fatherhood so that we may live in peace with your creation.
Remind us today of the ancestors of our faith, who braved the seas, crossed mountains, fought with enemies, and died in prisons in order to keep alive the gospel of Jesus. Deepen our commitments to what they believed in, and increase our strength for meeting the demands of the gospel in a complex world.
Comfort the sad and lonely, give support to the discouraged, heal the sick, save the young, and reveal yourself to us in the word that is spoken through your disciples today.
O God, we are grateful for the many activities and ministries of our congregation and for the all who have answered your call. Fill us with your grace, lead us by your love and let our faith grow so that all who come in contact with us will experience your love and grace. We pray for the people who are sent our way for care, hope, and healing. May their lives and ours be transformed by your love as we encounter your love in and through each other. Fill us so full of your love and presence that all whom we serve will experience you in and through us. In all we say and do, help us experience your love in such a way that we will become all you have created us to be.
We pray in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord who taught us to pray saying,
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Hymn: VU#556 Would You Bless Our Homes and Families
Go from here as siblings in Christ; support and comfort one another; challenge and encourage one another; surprise one another with your concern; respond to one another’s need with compassion, and work together to build up this community of faith. May God’s love go with you; may Jesus walk with you; and may the Holy Spirit guide you in the week ahead. Amen.(Commissioning written by David Sparks. Gathering, Pentecost 1 2017, page 42. Used with permission.)
Choral Blessing – MV# 212 Sent Out in Jesus’ Name (2 times)
Sent out in Jesus’ name, our hands are ready now
to make the world the place in which the kingdom comes.
The angels cannot change a world of hurt and pain
into a world of love, of justice and of peace.
The task is ours to do, to set it really free.
O, help us to obey, and carry out your will.
Copyright 1988 Abington Press. All rights reserved. Used by permission. OneLicense #A723756