Sunday May 29, 2022
Acknowledging the Territory ~ Written by Jane McDonald
Let us today remember that the land on which we walk, live, and gather comes from our Creator and the Mi’Kmaq peoples that have lived here much longer than we as settlers. The Mi’Kmaq signed treaties with the British in 1726 known as the Peace and Friendship Treaty and again in 1760/61 to reaffirm peace amongst the settlers and the Mi’kmaq peoples and to ensure the rights of the Mi’kmaq to hunt, fish and gather their needs and to forge further agreements in trade with the British. We respect that this agreement was done in good faith and in 1763 a Royal Proclamation was made that would limit the power of British colonies to encroach upon native land. We are constantly grateful for the Mi’kmaq in sharing their unceded territory with us. We are all Treaty people.
Lighting the Christ Candle
One: The light of the Risen Christ shines in our world.
All: We light this Christ Candle to remind us to let that light shine.
Call to Worship ~ Written by Alydia Smith and Teresa Burnett-Cole
One: God, we’ve come thirsty―thirsty for your Spirit.
All: Living water, bubble up from inside us and lead us toward deep spirituality.
One: God, we’ve come hungry―hungry for community.
All: Bread of life, feed our spirits, and lead us toward bold discipleship in community.
One: God, we’ve come searching―searching for wholeness.
All: Source of Life, guide us, and lead us toward daring justice.
One. God, feed, nourish, and prepare us to be your church in the world.
Hymn MV 154 – Deep In Our Hearts
Act of Covenant
Today, as we gather here in worship, we gather collectively with all of the communities of faith within Region 15. As our leaders gather to plan and to take care of the business of this region, we are reminded that we are all part of this larger body of The United Church of Canada. Therefore, as we gather here today we reaffirm the covenantal relationship that we have with each other. Just as those gathered for our Annual General Meeting this weekend reaffirmed their covenant with us, we now reaffirm our covenant with them.
Christ’s body is composed of many parts. Christ has many ministries. Some are easy, others are difficult. Some bring honour, others bring reproach. Some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are contrary to both. Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Let us share this Covenant together:
We the people of Beacon Pastoral Charge renew our covenant of mutual responsibility with Region 15 of the United Church of Canada
We will seek after God in all we say and think and do and live in communion with God and each other.
We will search for what God wants through Prayer, in Scripture and by fellowshipping with each other as we listen to God through many media.
We will celebrate God’s Presence in worship, music, life passages, and Sacraments.
We will invite others to join us in our journey with God.
We will do all things for the glory of God and the good of God’s World.
We give ourselves to God and rededicate ourselves to live in covenant as the people of God and the Living Body of Christ.
To God be all glory, praise, honour and thanksgiving, now and forever, Amen.
Opening Prayer ~ written by Sandra Tomsons
Steadfastly loving God, we are here. We are a church family in Region 15 of the United Church of Canada gathered to worship you. As we gather to worship separately this morning we also gather collectively. We come to celebrate and to better understand and respond to Your call to follow You. Like the King in today’s gospel story, Region 15 issued invitations to a celebration. Unlike the King’s invited guests, we aren’t no-shows. We happily accepted an invitation to celebrate our year’s work as an individual church, and the work of Region 15 in supporting all our communities of faith. The spirit-of-god-in-us knows the King represented God, when he invites the people in the street to the party. God surely wants everyone to come to the party. In words spoken and sung, in the feelings we experience, instruct, and inspire us, O God. Discovering what is required of us individually, and as a church family, may we be motivated by our steadfast love for You to do what You requires of us. Amen
Hymn MV 88 – Over My Head
Theme conversation – We Are Still Here – Yannets Levi
The parable of the dandelion. It is possible that you have lots of friends, or maybe you have only a friend or two. Your friends could be children, or they could be adults, or maybe your friends are dogs or cats or any other kind of animal. Yes, all of this could certainly be true. But have you ever had a plant as a friend? Have you ever been friends with a flower or a tree? Either way, this is a story about a grandfather who had a very special friend.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who lived alone in a small shack. The old man didn’t have children or grandchildren. He didn’t have a wife, nor did he have friends. He lived all by himself.
Every day at dusk, when the birds were chirping from their perch in the treetops, the sun set, and the sky grew dark, the old man would sit outside his shack and talk to the dandelion that grew in his garden. What did he say to the dandelion? The old man used to tell the dandelion old tales, so old that no one could remember if they really happened, and the dandelion would listen silently to the old man’s stories.
One day, a group of children walked past the shack. They heard the old man talking and telling his stories, but they did not see anyone listening. The children stopped and stared at the old man.
“What is wrong with this old man?” they wondered. “Who is he telling stories to?” They listened closely to the old man’s tales. They did not know if the stories were true or not, but they found them to be fascinating. The children remained standing there listening to the stories until the sky turned black and the old man went back into his shack.
The next day, the children returned for more stories. They remained at a distance but paid close attention. After the old man finished telling another old tale, one of the girls called out, “Granddad! Who are you telling your stories to?” “Granddad? Me?” the old man wondered. Up until then he had not noticed the children who stood there listening to his stories, and so their presence came to him as a surprise. “No, I’m not a grandfather. I am just an old man,” he said. “I have no children or grandchildren. I have no wife and no friends.” “So who are you telling your stories to?” asked one of the children. “I tell them to this dandelion growing down here, right next to me,” the old man replied. The children looked, and for the first time noticed the small dandelion growing in the old man’s garden. How strange, they thought – telling stories to a dandelion. Why?
“He knows how to listen,” answered the old man, responding to the children’s bewildered gaze.
The next day, when the children came back to the shack, the old man invited them to sit next to him. They sat down, and along with the dandelion, listened to the old tales. And so, day after day, the children returned and listened to Granddad’s stories. That is what they called him: Granddad.
One morning, while the children were at school, Granddad went out into his yard and noticed that the dandelion had changed. Its small yellow petals disappeared and in their place were fuzzy white hairs.
“You’ve aged,” said Granddad to the dandelion. “I’ve aged too.”
A gust of wind dispersed the fuzzy white hairs off the dandelion and scattered its seeds in every direction. Granddad looked at the white hairs flying in the air and took a big, deep breath.
The next day, when the children arrived at the shack to hear Granddad’s stories, they found neither Granddad nor the dandelion, and so they never went back to the shack again. Little did they know that one day, dozens of new dandelions would blossom from the seeds that the wind scattered.
The children grew up into adults. They left their homes and built new homes here or there. The dandelion was forgotten, the granddad was forgotten too. Nevertheless, his stories, just like the dandelion’s seeds, were scattered along with the children who grew up.
Even today, there are surely children listening to the old tales; so old, no one knows if they ever really happened.
You may wonder what this story has to do with us. Perhaps we are something like the dandelion. We grow and bloom and as we age, we share our faith with others, something like the seeds of the dandelion. May that faith take root and grow.
All of our scripture reading today deal with people living in community. We begin with our Hebrew Scripture reading which takes place while the community of Israel which has escaped from Egypt, is following Moses through the wilderness.
Hebrew Scripture: Numbers 11:10-17
Epistle Reading: 1st Corinthians 12:4-11
Gospel Reading: Luke 14:16-23
The Great Potluck
The image offered in the parable of the great banquet is one of wonderful abundance provided by the master of the feast. The master prepares and provides all that is needed for all those invited to the banquet to enjoy more than they could ever hope to provide for themselves. When the invitations are sent out, many of those invited refuse the offer. And so, the master extends the invitation beyond those that we might think should be invited to such a lavish feast. The thing is that, in the end, everyone is invited.
If we think about this banquet as our community of faith, the ones invited first are like those who were born into and raised within the church. They are the ones we would expect to be invited. They are the ones who know what is expected of them at such a feast, how to dress, how to behave, what to say, and how to greet the host. They are the ones who are on the inside. But we know that not all of them accept the invitation.
Those who are invited later on, are like the ones who come to our faith community later on, as adults, often from other denominations or faith traditions and sometimes from no faith background at all. They don’t always know what is expected when they walk in the door. They may dress differently than those of us who have been coming for years. They may not know the words to the hymns or prayers. They may even feel awkward and out of place.
But we need to remember that how we received our invitation doesn’t matter. All invitations are equally valid and no one has any more right to be included than anyone else. The host has invited them all and wants them all to be welcomed and included.
But this is The United Church of Canada so let’s face it, most of our banquets are pot luck. So, what would it mean if we were to consider our church as a great pot luck?
Everyone is invited to join in. And if someone arrives who has forgotten to bring anything with them, it doesn’t matter. There is always more than enough for everyone. And sometimes the greatest part of the entire banquet has nothing to do with the actual food that is consumed. Sometimes the greatest thing shared is the fellowship, the conversation and the feeling of inclusion.
When we have a pot luck, some people will bring a hearty main course that will fill us up and provide the nurturing that our bodies need. Some people will bring side dishes that accent and add to the overall meal by providing variety. Some people with offer us something brand new that we’ve never tried before, challenging us to be adventurous and open to something different. And some people will bring dessert, something sweet and appealing that just makes us feel good.
But it is when we combine all the things that have been offered that we end up with an amazing banquet. It is a feast that is always different. We never know what we will end up finding when we arrive at a pot luck. There may be nothing but desserts, or there may be no desserts at all. But somehow it always works out. Somehow, we all end up being fed and not only physically. The fellowship, the conversation, the sharing and the simple act of breaking bread together feds our spirits.
Like a great pot luck, each of us brings into our community of faith something that we can offer and share. So, let’s think about some of the gifts and talents that are part of our faith community because of those who have accepted the host’s invitation to be here.
So what do you bring to the great pot luck?
Maybe you bring a Casserole Dish . This symbolizes not only the foods offered at a pot luck but also the casseroles delivered to members of our community during times of grief, illness or mourning. It represents the gift of food and the talents of those who express their love in the food they prepare.
Bible – I/we bring a Bible. This symbolizes the gift of leadership provided in worship/in reading scripture/Bible Study/or other option. I/they share this ability as their offering to all of us.
Calculator – I/we bring a calculator. This symbolizes the talent for understanding finances and the financial needs of our community. I/they we have been gifted with this talent and so it is the offering that I/they share with all of you.
Musical Score – I/we bring the gift of music. I/he/she/they have been blessed with the ability to play the piano/organ/other musical instrument and I/he/she/they share the gift with all of you.
Hymn book – I/we bring a Hymn book. This represents the gift of song offered by those of us in the choir/ the choir that add to our worship. I/they share this gift with all of you.
Hammer – I/we bring a hammer. This represents the ability to help with repairs and upkeep on our church building, that is a gift I/we/they bring as my/their offering to share with all of you.
Someone might bring a plant or a gardening tool, symbolic of the work done in the community garden that reaches the wider community.
Someone might bring a bucket and cleaning supplies, symbolizing the ongoing cleaning that takes place int he church.
We would have to have the colourful Mission and Service hat to remind us of our mission far from the place we call home.
We should probably have a bunch of balloons to represent those among us who bring the gift of laughter.
Once all items are placed on the communion table
All of these symbols represent the gifts and talents that are offered by individual members of our faith community. Paul reminds us that we all have gifts and talents to offer but that all those gifts come from our Divine Host and that all are to be used, not for personal glory of recognition, but for the good of all.
These are only some of the gifts that this community has to offer. You may find yourself represented in these gifts or you may not. But we all have gifts and talents to offer.
Remember how I said that everyone was invited to the pot luck even if you didn’t bring anything with you? Well, you did bring something. You brought yourself and of the gifts we offer, offering ourselves is the greatest gift we can give and it is the one gift that our host asks for. Our host just asks us to come, as we are, with whatever gifts or talents we may have. And who knows, when we are willing to show up, we may just discover we have gifts and talents to offer that we never imagined. Thanks be to God for the many gifts we have among us to share.
A New Creed
As we remember that we are not alone, let us join in reaffirming our faith in the words of our creed
We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God:
who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God. We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn MV 79 – Spirit Open My Heart
We Offer Our Gifts
Gracious God, we thank you for the abundance you have blessed us with, for the talents and gifts of the spirit that we have received. Bless these our offerings that they may help to spread your goodness and your love throughout our community and our world. Amen.
And as we offer our gifts, we also offer our prayers. Let us take a moment of silent prayer for those mentioned in our prayer jar and all those named in our hearts. (Silence) Amen
Minute for Mission Learning about Racism at an Early Age
The following is an excerpt from a blog written by Adele Halliday. Your Mission & Service gifts support anti-racism programs and initiatives like the ones Halliday develops as the United Church’s Anti-Racism and Equity Lead to help all of us be in deeper, more equitable relationships with one another.
The name calling started when she was about three years old. They were racial slurs, and names, and taunts. My child, my own flesh and blood, was being ostracized for having Black skin. The people slinging the insults? Other children on the playground….
She may not have necessarily always understood the particular terms that they used, but she knew that it was related to her Blackness and her racial identity. And this deeply wounded her tender heart….
Despite all of our intentional modelling, teaching, and proactive actions, our child is still already developing internalized racism and inferior notions of herself.
The children who were taunting her were offering explicit and overt notions of racism, but they were children! They had not even started primary school! And yet, the children had already learned behaviour (at home, or elsewhere in society) that Whiteness is superior. And, they had the audacity to vocalize that to an innocent little child….
This is in part why I am so deeply committed to dismantling racism in all its forms—racism is damaging and destructive for all people in society. It reinforces negative notions for people of colour. I live it in a particular way because of my own racial identity, as a Black person who has lived with racial injustice my entire life.
The systemic nature of racism is something that cannot be ignored…. This effort to overcome racism is a continuous effort. And I am committed to this work for the long haul.
I hope that you will be too.
Thank you for your generosity to the Mission and Service Fund
Prayers of the People ~ Written by Faith March-MacCuish
Sung Prayer Response:
Come to my heart, Lord Jesus; Teach me to walk in your way.
Come to my heart, Lord Jesus; Come to my heart today.
Spirit God, you are the very breath we breathe, from our first gulp of air, to our final sigh, you are with us. We give you thanks for the love that surrounds us, that gives us strength for life’s journey. It is through you that we are moved to be in community, it is through you that we are nudged to love and serve others. As we re-imagine our communities help us to create places of peace and joy, where all are welcomed and none are afraid. Spirit God, Come to our hearts.
Spirit God, as we begin to experience longer days, the greening of the grass, the singing of the birds, the bursting of the bulbs, we are reminded of the beauty that surrounds us. May we renew our commitment to care for all of creation. May we take off our shoes and be reminded that we are standing on holy ground and that as the human part of the great cosmos, we have the ability to be part of its healing, may it be so. Spirit God, Come to our hearts.
Spirit God, we pray for the places in this world that are broken, places of war, violence, hunger, racism, hatred and harm. We pray for the people who feel broken by this world. May we individually name our own brokenness and the part we have played in the harm caused to others. We pray for those who are experiencing physical and mental health illnesses, their medical teams and all those who provide care. May our communities be communities of love, compassion and healing. May we hear the call of Jesus, to open ourselves to love one another and to remember, love is stronger than hate, and through love this world can be mended. Spirit God, come to our hearts.
Spirit God, may you be the music in the lyrics of our faith story. May you be our courage and strength when we are needed, for the work of justice, for the care of friend or stranger, for the feeding of the hungry, and for the ministry to which we are called. May you be our breath and our song as we dance the celebration of life in all its fullness. Spirit God, come to our hearts.
God, Father and Mother of us all, be with us as we pray:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed by 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 who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory , forever and ever, Amen.
Hymn MV 120 – My Soul Cries Out
As a community of faith, we go out from here ready to share the gifts we have been so freely, ready to spend them lavishly for the good of all God’s creation, ready to reimagine all that we can do and be together, with the Love of God surrounding us, the example of Christ leading us and the challenging presence of the Spirit walking with us now and always. Amen
Sending Forth – I am walking a path of peace MV #1