Nov 6 – Worship Service – Hope – Backward and Forward

Oct 30 – Worship Service – Choosing Wisdom
November 1, 2022
Nov 13 – Worship Service – Simple Grace
November 15, 2022

Nov 6 – Worship Service – Hope – Backward and Forward

Rev Lohnes

Sunday November 6, 2022

Remembrance Day

Life and Work of our Church

Introit                                                                                                             VU #579
The church is wherever God’s people are praising,
singing God’s goodness for joy on this day.
The church is wherever disciples of Jesus
remember his story and walk in his way.
Carol Rose Ikeler 1959 © 1963 W.L. Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. Used and adapted by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. LicenSingOnline#605486

Acknowledging the Territory    
As we begin our worship, we take a moment to acknowledge that the land upon which we live, work and worship is, by law, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.  We offer our deep gratitude for this land and we commit ourselves to use and share this land wisely.   

Lighting the Christ Candle
And as we light our Christ Candle this morning, we are reminded that regardless of what is happening in the world around us, God’s Light and God’s Spirit are still here, actively at work in the world today.  Once again, we commit ourselves to follow and to share that light. 

Call to Worship        ~ written by Gord Waldie

On this day of memory, we gather to sing and to pray, to remember the past and look to the future.
On this day when we remember the day that the guns once fell silent, we come before you God, seeking Your peace.

On this day of hope in the face of terror, we come before you God, praying with all our hearts:
Help us to find the path that leads to your Peace.

Open our eyes and the eyes of all nations to find a different path through the disagreements of life in this world.
In this time of story, song, and prayer, may we be re-committed to being people of Peace, true peace.  May we catch a vision of how the world could live together.

And so as we worship you today we echo the words of hope, make us channels of your peace. 

Opening Prayer                                      ~ written by Lisa Frenz
We come before you God, not to glorify war, but to honor and celebrate those who walked into the chaos and evil that is war: those who were civilians and those who were military; those who braved the censure of society and those who gave of themselves for that society; those who survived and those who did not; those who were friends and those who were enemies.  None who have waded through evil, death and sorrow are untouched in body, mind or spirit; yet they are your beloved.

We all were affected and changed by War and are all in need of reflection, renewal, comfort and healing.  As we gather here today, grant us these things we pray.  Amen

Gift of Music               For the Healing of the Nations                                  #678

Service of Remembrance
*Reading of Names

*last post
*One Minute Silence
*O Canada

Scripture Reading
Today we turn to the prophet Micah.  This is the only time during the entire 4-year narrative lectionary that we read from Micah.  The passage contains the most well know of all Micah’s writing.  It asks the question, what does the Lord require of us?  This is also one of the passages often read on Remembrance Day.

Scriptures – Micah 1:3-5; 5:2-5a; 6:6-8        Good News Translation The Lord is coming from his holy place; he will come down and walk on the tops of the mountains.  Then the mountains will melt under him like wax in a fire; they will pour down into the valleys like water pouring down a hill.  All this will happen because the people of Israel have sinned and rebelled against God. Who is to blame for Israel’s rebellion?

The Lord says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”

So the Lord will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. 

Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people.  When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength that comes from the Lord and with the majesty of the Lord God himself.  His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness, and he will bring peace.

What shall I bring to the Lord, the God of heaven, when I come to worship him? Shall I bring the best calves to burn as offerings to him?  Will the Lord be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or endless streams of olive oil?  Shall I offer him my first-born child to pay for my sins?  No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.

Hope – Backward and Forward
The prophet Micah is one of the lesser-known prophets.  He was a contemporary of Isaiah, but unlike Isaiah, who was probably from an influential prophetic family in Jerusalem, Micah came from a rural background and spoke for the rural people.  Both Micah and Isaiah lived and preached in the southern kingdom of Judah during the 8th century BCE at a time when the northern kingdom of Israel was under threat and would soon be destroyed.

It was a time of great national upheaval when everything was changing and people had no idea what was going to happen next.  Many people feared that God had deserted the chosen people.  But into this time of fear and uncertainty, Micah bring words of hope.

The promise that a great leader, someone who will shepherd his people, would come from Bethlehem is one that we often read during Advent and we tend to take very much for granted.  Bethlehem is David’s city so of course his heir would come from there.  But Bethlehem was actually David’s birthplace.  It was Jerusalem, the city that David had conquered and where he and his descendants had set up power and established the temple and the royal palace that was seen as the place where a leader should emerge.

Instead, it is Bethlehem, an insignificant small, rural town that Micah says will produce a great leader.  This is not what the people would expect, but it is a reminder that God does not always work in the ways humans expect.  God often works through what appears to be insignificant and unexpected.

Micah is speaking at a time when there is a great sense that nothing is guaranteed.  It’s a time when the future seems so uncertain that people are almost afraid to hope.  But Micah reclaims that hope by recentering it on the unexpected and unpredictable grace of God.  By reclaiming the place of David’s birth rather than the center of his power, Micah reminds us that God often works from outside of the centers of power, working instead through the ordinary, the everyday and the places and people that we often see as insignificant.  The people were reminded that their greatest king began as a simple shepherd.

As I thought about this, couldn’t help but wonder if any of us would have ever heard of an insignificant spit of land called Juno Beach if it were not for the D-Day invasion.  And when we gather this Friday at the cenotaph or at the Mariner’s Center, it will not be the great general and political leaders that we honor and remember.  It will be the unknown soldier, who represents all those ordinary everyday people who fought and died. 

In many ways there is a lot of the same restless uncertainty today that existed in the time of Micah.  There is a sense that the future is completely beyond our ability to predict and there is a great deal of fear as to what the future will hold.  Global warming, worldwide pandemics, expanding wars, skyrocketing prices and concerns of all kinds cause anxiety and fear.  And as in the time of Micah, there is also a great deal of cynicism today about the ability or even the desire within the centers of power, to make any meaningful change that might offer us some new hope for the future.

But Micah speaks hope into such upheaval.  And it is a hope that looks both forward but also backward.  It is a hope that looks back to reminded the people that their great King David came from a small, obscure, insignificant town called Bethlehem.  But at the same time, Micah also looks forward, giving the hope that another, even greater king would also come from such humble and insignificant roots.  It reminded the people and it reminds us, that, although we may not be able to imagine it, God can bring about amazing things from the most unexpected circumstances.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how good can possibly come out of some of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  Sometimes it is hard to even imagine the possibility of hope.  And sometimes we need to reclaim that hope despite the circumstances, turning hope into faith, faith that there is something greater than our own human fallibility and our own deeply flawed society. 

But how do we do that?  How do we hold on to faith in a world that seems to reject everything about a belief in something beyond ourselves?  How do we believe in something that we can never truly understand?  How do we find the hope and the promise that Micah spoke of, in the midst of constant change, fear and uncertainty?

Well perhaps that answer comes in the second, and more famous of Micah’s prophecies that we heard in our scripture reading this morning.  What [God] requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.

We don’t have to sort out all the problems of the world.  We don’t have to solve all the problems that exist.  What we have to do is to do the best we can to live our lives in such a way that we become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

And, according to Micah, this is a requirement.  This is not about doing amazing, impressive things that demonstrate our superior abilities or our dedication and devotion.  This is about living every single day just trying to do what we believe is right.  It may sound very simple, but it is definitely not easy.

To do what is just means that sometime, we have to follow our conscience even when what we do does not conform to what society dictates or expects.  Doing what is just means that sometimes, we have to stand up against injustice.  And sometimes, no matter what decision we make, no matter how hard we try justice can end up being very illusive.

When we think of all those who have fought in war, those who have died and those who have returned carrying terrible wound, both external and internal, it is very difficult to see any justice.  War, by its very nature, is unjust.  But sometimes, there are injustices so deep in our world that people of good conscience see not alternative but to stand and fight against them.

The second requirement, to show constant love, is one that is repeated many time in scripture.  Love your enemy.  Love your neighbour.  Love one another.  Love the Lord your God.  How we choose to demonstrate this love, is by treating others, all others, with respect and with kindness.

Lastly, we are told that we are required to live in humble fellowship with our God.  We need to do what we can in life to pursue justice and love.  We need to stand up against injustice and to stand beside those who are marginalized and vulnerable and to treat all people with respect and love. 

But we always need to remember that we do these things, not by our own power or ability, but because we live in relationship with our God.  We need to remember that whatever skills and abilities we may have, are not things we have accomplished on our own, things to be proud of or feel superior about.  Whatever success we may achieve, are only possible when we work together in relationship with God and with one another.

Micah offers us the hope that, no matter how difficult, unsettling or unpredictable the future may seem, we don’t need to give in to fear and cynicism.   Micah reminds us that God has always work in unexpected ways through ordinary people who often seem to us, to be insignificant. 

If God can choose to change the world through the peasant son of a teenage mother and a simple carpenter born in an obscure little village called Bethlehem, how can we doubt that God, working through ordinary people in ordinary towns and villages everywhere can continue to change the world.  And who knows, if can truly learn to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God we might just become part of those extraordinary, ordinary people who are making a difference and changing our world.

Gift of Music              What Does the Lord Require of You                VU #701

We Offer Our Gifts
We have been given so much an in response we give back.  Let us sing our offertory response as our offering plates and Mission and Service piggy bank are brought forward.

Offertory Response                                                                                Tune # 549

For all your goodness God, we give you thanks.                                        
And so we offer you, all that we have and do,
To serve and honour you and give you thanks.
© no Copyright

Offertory Prayer
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they may become a blessing to others.  Amen.

We Offer Our Prayers
God is always as near as our next breath.  God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts.  So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.

Minute for Mission

Prayers of the People
Our prayers of the people today, is adapted from the World Council of Churches prayer for International Day of Peace

On this day of remembrance, as we offer our thanks for all those who have suffered and died so that we might have the life we enjoy today, we pray for peace.

We pray for peace for those who weep in silence, peace for those who cannot speak, peace when all hope seems to disappear.

Time of Silence.

In the midst of rage, of violence and disappointment, in the midst of wars and destruction of the earth, Lord, show us your light in the darkness.

Time of Silence.

We pray for peace for those who raise their voices to demand it, peace when there are many who do not wish to hear of it, peace as we find the way to justice.

Time of Silence.

We pray for peace for those whose restlessness and despair has cause them to give up on the idea that true peace is ever even possible.

Time of Silence.

Loving Peace-maker, we pray that you will keep your church honest and faithful, that it may be the channel through which justice and peace, integrity and wholeness, harmony and goodwill may flow to the dispossessed and the desperate, that your kingdom may come in all its fulfillment of life and health and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gift of Music              O God of Every Nation                                       VU #677

Sending Out
Today, we go out from here into a world that longs for peace.  We go out from here reminded that we have been called to be peace-makers.  It is a daunting task.  But we do not have to do this alone.  God is with us, Christ’s example leads the way and the Spirit is with us and within us, each step of the way.  And so we go with God.

Choral Blessing                                                                                       #298When you walk from here, when you walk from here,
Walk with justice, walk with mercy, and with God’s humble care.
© Words and music; 1991 Borealis Music. Used with Permission. 

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