Sunday October 1, 2023
World Wide Communion
How sacred is this place! Its open door of grace behold, my soul and enter!
May all who worship here, believing God is near, find God is at the center.
Words Copyright © Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
Acknowledging the Territory
We acknowledge that, here in Yarmouth, we live work and worship in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” first signed with in 1725. By acknowledging this, we commit ourselves to live in Peace, Friendship and Respect.
Lighting the Christ Candle
In the flame of the Christ Candle, we see reflected the light of Christ and we commit ourselves to live in that light, sharing it with all those we meet, wherever we go.
Call to Worship
We cannot find hoped for unity in doctrine that divide and separate us.
We cannot find much needed justice in human selfishness, fear, or apathy.
We cannot find longed for fulfillment in our jam-packed schedules or overflowing planners.
We cannot find lasting hope unless we open ourselves to the possibilities.
But we can find wholeness in the brokenness of Bread which can heal the brokenness of our lives.
We can find renewed strength and courage in the draining of the Cup which can refill the emptiness of our hearts.
On this World-Wide Communion Sunday, as we share Bread and Cup, we come seeking unity, justice, fulfillment and hope in our worship and in our lives.
We come to worship God.
Divine One, in the story of Moses we see reflected our own story. You spoke to Moses and called him in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. You call us in ways we do not always recognize. When you directed Moses in what he was being called to do, Moses questioned. We too often question what we are called to do. You revealed yourself to Moses in an intimate and personal way. We long to connect with you and to know you as Moses did. In this time of worship and in this time of communion, touch us anew that we may know your call for us and follow. Amen.
Opening Hymn God of Freedom, God of Justice VU#700
Today we hear the story of Moses. We skip from the birth of Isaac, all the way to Moses. Isaac had a son Jacob and Jacob has a son Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, but eventually rose to power there and brough his father Jacob and his twelve brothers to live in Egypt with him. Generations past and the Israelite people thrived in Egypt. This is where we begin our reading today.
Exodus 1:8-14, 22 3:1-14 Good News Translation
Then, a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his people, “These Israelites are so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. In case of war they might join our enemies in order to fight against us, and might escape from the country. We must find some way to keep them from becoming even more numerous.” So the Egyptians put slave drivers over them to crush their spirits with hard labor. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses to serve as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they increased in number and the farther they spread through the land. The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites and made their lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery. They made them work on their building projects and in their fields, and they had no pity on them. Finally the king issued a command to all his people: “Take every newborn Hebrew boy and throw him into the Nile, but let all the girls live.”
During this time a man from the tribe of Levi married a woman of his own tribe, and she bore him a son. When she saw what a fine baby he was, she hid him for three months. But when she could not hide him any longer, she took a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar to make it watertight. She put the baby in it and then placed it in the tall grass at the edge of the river. The baby’s sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.
The king’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her servants walked along the bank. Suddenly she noticed the basket in the tall grass and sent a slave woman to get it. The princess opened it and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked her, “Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”
“Please do,” she answered. So the girl went and brought the baby’s own mother. The princess told the woman, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So she took the baby and nursed him. Later, when the child was old enough, she took him to the king’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She said to herself, “I pulled him out of the water, and so I name him Moses.”
One day while Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led the flock across the desert and came to Sinai, the holy mountain. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him as a flame coming from the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire but that it was not burning up. “This is strange,” he thought. “Why isn’t the bush burning up? I will go closer and see.”
When the Lord saw that Moses was coming closer, he called to him from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Yes, here I am.”
God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So Moses covered his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt; I have heard them cry out to be rescued from their slave drivers. I know all about their sufferings, and so I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of Egypt to a spacious land, one which is rich and fertile and in which the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites now live. I have indeed heard the cry of my people, and I see how the Egyptians are oppressing them. Now I am sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.”
But Moses said to God, “I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God answered, “I will be with you, and when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will worship me on this mountain. That will be the proof that I have sent you.”
But Moses replied, “When I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ So what can I tell them?”
God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I Am has sent me to you.’
The Importance of Naming
The story of Moses is the longest continuous story in the entire Hebrew Scriptures. It starts at the very beginning of the book of Exodus and continues on to the end of Deuteronomy with the death of Moses and the appointing of Joshua to succeed him.
But to understand the context of the story of Moses we have to go back to the story of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, but due to his ability to interpret dreams, he eventually rose to a position of great authority and save Egypt from a famine that lasted 7 years. Without Joseph Egypt would likely not have survived the famine and remained a powerful empire.
As a reward, Joseph’s father and brothers were allowed to settle on the best farm land in the region of Goshen. They were known as the Israelites because Joseph’s father Jacob had been given the name Israel. The family flourished and grew to the point where they had become a nation rather than just a family. And this is where the story of Moses begins.
A new king who did not know the story of Joseph came to power. He saw the Israelites as outsiders and as a treat, and so he made them slaves. But their numbers continued to grow until the king eventually issued a decree that every newborn male child born to the Israelites was to be taken out and drowned in the river Nile. Moses was saved from this fate when his mother hid him in a basket and set him afloat in the Nile where he was found by the Pharoh’s daughter.
Now we skip over the part of the story that tells about Moses killing an Egyptian overseer, escaping to Midian and marrying Ziporah, the daughter of the
Priest of Midian. We pick up the story when Moses, who is now a shepherd of Midian, encounters the Burning Bush.
From within the Bush the voice of God calls Moses to go back to Egypt to free the Israelite people. Moses tries to get out of it making up several excuses as to why he is not a good choice. He eventually asks for a name by which he can identify God to the people.
This is actually a trick question. Tradition of the time said that no one could speak the name of God. The answer that Moses receives is “I Am” which can also be translated as “I Will Be”. Being given a name by which to call the Divine offers a new level of intimacy that had not previously been possible. The Divine was simply a power beyond the ability of the people to touch. But being given a name, makes that Divine Power accessible in a new way.
Names are important. When we call someone by name, we can talk to them and we can develop a relationship with them. When we call something by name, we can identify it, define it and try to understand it. And when we name a situation, an incident or a story, it becomes part of our story, part of our history. It is interesting to note that at the beginning of the story of Moses we are told that a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. This ‘new king’ is never named. We are simply told that he did not know the story of Joseph. He did not know that, without Joseph Egypt, if it still existed at all, would be a very different place. He did not know his own history.
Yesterday, September 30th was the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Yet how many of us took the time to give this day serious thought? How many honestly didn’t even know? And even those of us who are aware of this day, often don’t have a very clear picture of what it’s all about.
According to the government website, “The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Some of you may be more familiar with this commemoration as Orange Shirt Day. It honours the story of a young girl who was sent to residential school at the age of 6. She was excited about the opportunity to go to school and despite living in poverty, her grandmother saved enough money to buy her a brand-new shirt to wear for her first day. She picking out a shiny orange shirt, that had string laced up the front. The moment she arrived at the school however, she was stripped down and all her cloths, including her precious orange shirt was taken away. She never saw it again.
This story is about more than an orange shirt. It is about all the things that were arbitrarily taken away from indigenous people in Canada, not just objects, but things like family, culture, language, dignity and so much more. It’s all the stories – all the losses. This is not just the history of the indigenous population – this is the history of Canada. This is our history yet, for the most part, we do not know these stories.
Moses knew his stories. He knew the story of Joseph. He knew the story of the enslavement of the Israelite people. He knew both the accomplishments and the failings that were part of his own history. But most important of all, Moses knew God. He knew the stories of how God had helped his people in the past. He knew God’s promise to Abraham that the chosen people would become a great nation. If Moses had not known the stories of his people, if he had not known where he came from, would he have even recognized God’s voice coming from that burning bush?
Knowing our history, being able to name, not only where we come from but what we believe, being able to name the stories of our faith, are the foundation on which that faith is build. And knowing our past is essential if we wish to move forward into the future.
Without the story of Joseph, there would be no Moses. And without the story of Moses there would be no journey to the promised land. Without the promised land there would be no King Saul and no King David. Without King David there would be no royal line leading to the birth of Jesus. And without Jesus there would be no Christian Church.
We need to know our stories. We need to know our history. But we also need to be ready to move into new stories when God calls us to do so. God may not call to us from a burning bush. But God does call. And it is when we know who we are and when we know where we come from – when we know our faith story and our faith history, we can recognize the one we call the great “I Am” and it is only then that we can answer. Amen.
Hymn A Voice Was Heard in Ramah MV#111
We Offer Our Gifts
There is much work to be done and we all have our ways of contributing. One of those ways is through our financial support of this church. If you chose to support the work of this church you can place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or you can make arrangement to give through PAR or through online donations. And so as we sing our offertory response, we bring forward some of those gifts.
Offertory Response #538
For the gift of creation, the gift of your love and the gift of the Spirit
by which we live, we thank you and give you the fruit of our hands.
May your grace be proclaimed by the gifts that we give.
© Words and Music copyright 1991 Abingdon Press. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
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 too may become a blessing. 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.
Communion Hymn: All Who Hunger VU#460
Celebration of Communion
Le Seigneur soit avec vous. (French: The Lord be with you.)
And also with you.
Ma-um-ul d’nop-i. (Korean: Lift up your hearts.)
We lift them to the Lord.
Kaatoototaylay Laysaa waysoo oowaamoomooloo.
(Bemba [Zambia]: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.)
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Eternal God, creator of all thing, we join with people everywhere to give you our thanks and our praise. We thank you for your many rich blessing and good gifts: for the example you offer us through the stories of faithful women and men around the world, people of all lands, all races and all times, who show us how to live the way you would want us to; for this earth with all its riches and beauty and for the privilege’s and honour of sharing it with all the wonders of your creation; for the bread and the cup we share today to remind us that in Christ, you came to share in our struggles, our pain and our joy, and that through the Spirit you continue to share all things with us today.
In the hope that some day all people may be brought together from the ends of the earth into your justice and compassion, we gather with those of every time and every place to praise you saying:
Santo, Santo, Santo, Holy is our God, God of earth and God of heaven, God of now and God of history. Holy is the one who comes in God’s name. Holy, holy, holy is our God.
As we gather at this table let us remember that we have seen an example of God’s purpose for us in the life of Jesus. At the table he shared food with followers and friends, with saints and sinners, with crowds of thousands on the hillside, and a few intimate friends in an upper room. We remember that on the night before he died, he share a meal with those closest to him. He took a loaf of bread, and he offered you thanks as he always did. Then he broke it, and gave it to all of those gathered with him, and said: “Take this bread, eat it. This bread is broken just as my body will be broken. Every time you share bread remember me.”
Then, he took a cup, again he gave thanks, and passed it to them, saying: “Every time you drink this remember that through my blood you have seen the salvation of God”
Through this bread and cup, Christ lives within us. So, as we gather here today we remember Christ’s suffering and death, and we celebrate again his resurrection and life among us and we recommit ourselves to the vision of God’s eternal plan.
Holy God, we ask that you send your Spirit to bless this bread and this cup, these symbols of your love and promise. By sharing in these gifts of your creation, may we also be blessed and may we in return be a blessing to others. Amen
At this time we also remember that Jesus message of love was for all people. We pray for those around the world who share this feast with us today. We pray for those who are not able to share this bread and wine with us. We pray who are ill or in hospital. We pray also for those who are lonely and isolated, those who are sad or in pain, those who find it hard to find hope in this world or to believe in you. We pray for those who are hungry and will not even have a tiny piece of bread to eat today. We pray for those who are oppressed, those who would be putting their lives at risk to publicly celebrate this meal. We pray for those who are homeless, those who are abused, those who have no safe place to call home. We pray for the political leaders of the world. Teach them to lead their people justly and compassionately and use them to bring about a better future for all people. We pray for worldwide peace and justice and that all people may learn to live in harmony. We pray for the world that you have given us. Help us to care for your creation lovingly and wisely and show respect for all living creatures. Teach us to share its plentiful resources in such a way that there is enough for all. Loving God, so often we see only our immediate surroundings and our own needs and resources. Widen our view, that we may be better citizens of our global community, and better brothers and sisters to our worldwide family. Amen
The Bread of Life God’s gift to us. The Cup of Blessing God’s promise fulfilled.
In Christ, God breaks down the walls that make us strangers to one another and unites us as family. This is a family celebration, and all are welcomed, young and old, rich and poor, familiar faces and new arrivals. In order to insure that all may participate, our bread is gluten free and our juice is preservative and dye free. This feast is for all. So come, share the feast of God’s love.
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
Prayer after Communion
Eternal and gracious One, though we live in a world of need, here we have tasted your goodness and hungered for a world more just. Though afflicted by brokenness and division, here we have heard your call to be a people of healing community. Though daily we touch our limits, here we have received the fullness of your grace. Send us forth, O God, in faith, in hope, and in love.
Closing Hymn Though Ancient Walls VU#691
We go out from here knowing our past, but looking to the future. We go out from here renewed and refreshed by our time together with each other and with God. We go out from here, knowing that, wherever we go in whatever we do, we are not alone. God is with us, Christ leads by example, and the Spirt is with and within us now and always. Go with God.
Choral Blessing MV#222
May the peace of God be your peace.
May the love of God be the love you show.
May the joy of God be the joy you know,
And may the world that God would see be found in you.
Words © November 2001 Neil MacLaren. email@example.com. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756