Sermon for 04 October 2020

Sermon Together the Flame burns Brighter
Today is World Wide Communion Sunday. It was started in 1933 by Hugh Thomson Kerr who ministered in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in the USA. The idea was to bring Christians together in unity despite their different denominations
It has grown into an international event. It brings together people of different nationalities, different languages, cultures and worship styles, liturgies and theologies. There are a lot of differences in the way we worship.
For example, Christian Arabs of today have no other word for “God” than “Allah”. So if you were a Christian in an Arabian church you would be praying to Jesus and Allah. Similarly, the Aramaicword for “God” in the language of Assyrian Christians is ʼĔlāhā, or Alaha
There are many different styles of communion /eucharist / mass. There is Intinction, where people dip their bread in the cup, There is common cup where everyone drinks from the same cup. There is single serving, where everyone gets a small glass and now there is pre-packaged disposable single serving. You have your choice of juice or wine.
Last year in May while we were facing the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an outbreak in the Congo of Ebola virus. It is much more deadly that the Covid-19. They felt it was important to keep communion going so some of the churches used the disposable cup. Basically it was walk-through. So it can have a use.
When it comes to the bread, there is leavened or unleavened, wafers or cubes. On occasion I have used potato chips.
One of the advantages of the on-line services, is that no one knows what you are celebrating with.
The point is: people are joining together as one; brought together by the Spirit.
I was reminded of the Pentecost event that was read in the scripture. The disciples were empowered to speak different languages so they could be understood universally. And that worked. The Christian faith has spread to 2.2 billion people, but again, many different understandings.
The one common element is the Spirit.
The Spirit is usually represented by wind or fire
Today I ask you to consider the idea of the Spirit as fire or flame.
No matter where you light a fire in the world, it looks the same. It may vary due to what is being consumed. You can always tell from a distance when someone has used a tire to light their bonfire;the smoke is different but the flame is universal.
No one can say that is a North American flame or an Asian flame. The location of the flame may be different but it still brings warmth and light.
When you place two candles together so that the flame joins, it doesn’t matter what colour the candle is, the flame gets bigger.
I realize that fire can be destructive. A house fire, an apartment fire or a forest fire can have devastating effects, but what it demonstrates is the immense power of the flame when enough fuel is added,
Each one of us has in us the flame of the Spirit
Each one of us has that divine spark,
As the children’s song went
“Jesus bids us shine, with a pure clear light.
Like a little candle burning in the night”
When that much flame comes together it has the power to change the world.
Everyone has that divine spark. They may have been raised where their faith has been channelled through a different religion or philosophy, but they are still divine creatures. God is not limited to one religion or denomination. Today we celebrate World Wide Communion among Christians but what a wonderful advancement if we could celebrate a worldwide day of faith. We should welcome all spiritual seekers.
As the organized church struggles with survival, especially in North America and Europe, there are pockets where the flame of the spirit is breaking out.
In the Pentecost story it happens in an upper room away from the organized church. It is happening again in our world. People are searching for the presence of the spirit. It may be a small group with no affiliation but they are seekers. They are people who are spiritual but not religious. (Comically the organized church needed to contain this group so they gave them the initials SBNR) We should welcome them also.
Everyone who is seeking is with us. As Jesus says “Those who are not against us are with us”.
Blowing out someone else’s candle may make yours look brighter – until you realize that you have made the entire room darker.
We are in a world that desperately needs spiritual awareness. We are in a world that chases materialism and consumerism. Jesus says “You can’t serve money and God”
Let us seek out the places where the flame of spirit is appearing. And let us join together to bring about the Kindom of God on Earth.
Litany for the Whole World: A prayer for World Communion Sunday from the Presbyterian Church USA
Creator God, we give you thanks for calling us as stewards. Open our eyes to the intricacies of creation. Help us feel the textures of the world. Unstop our ears that we may hear your Word. Breathe into us the sweet aromas of life;
Even now, O God, in Africa.
Africa. Where your church grows rapidly. Where faith is exuberant. Where a bright mosaic of culture shows the world the vibrancy of your love.
But where there is also pain, and famine, and thirst. Where violent unrest and ethnic strife fill so many lives and resist the unity.
Help us to stand with those who suffer, respond when we are called, give in appropriate ways so that wells will not run dry, and the chains of despair may be removed.
Even now, O God, even in Asia.
Asia. So vast, so deeply rooted in tradition. Where your church is small but where religion is great. Gentle Asia, beautiful Asia, troubled Asia.
God of wisdom, teach us respect. Help us to learn from those who express their faith in different ways. Deepen our understanding of tradition, serenity, and prayer.
Awaken us to systemic issues that increase despair and prolong poverty. Guide us in responsible stewardship, that your reign may extend throughout the world, even now;
Even now, O God, even in the Middle East.
The Middle East. The cradle of the church; the birthplace of our Lord; the land we call holy. Where the pain of the cross is so vivid; where the dry earth is watered by the tears of its children.
Show us again that we cannot feed the hungry with threats. We cannot quench thirst with religious intolerance. We cannot build for the future on sands of hate.
Lift us above strife. Infuse us with mutual respect, that the captives might be freed, that the frightened might be comforted. Lift us, loving God, as you lifted the stone from your Son’s tomb. Make us joyous witnesses of his victory over death. Show us your grace, even now;
Even now, O God, in Europe.
Europe and its magnificent Christian heritage. Where art, music, and architecture inspire generation upon generation with the beauty and the majesty of your gospel message.
Where the dramatic change in recent days has brought poverty and violence, displacing whole communities into a desperate present and an uncertain future. Where entire peoples have fallen away from faith in you.
God of grace, help us to believe and tmst in your eternal promise. Point us toward the pathway of peace. Answer Jesus’ prayer that all may be one in him, even now;
Even now, O God, in Latin America.
Latin America. Where your church struggles valiantly for the weak and the poor. Where martyrs are made. In Latin America, so rich in the bounties of creation, so misused by outsiders. In Latin America, where we have made mistakes in your name and brought a gospel soiled with our greed.
Your servants in Latin America have taught us by example. Kindle within our hearts our own integrity of faith. Inspire within us a new sense of your church.
Make us aware that through such commitment, your peace and justice will be revealed, not in some distant time and place, but also right now, right here;
Here, O God, in North America, even here.
North America. Where so much affluence hides so much poverty and disease. North America, the sometimes hollow land, with so much to give. Make us bold in your Spirit, but humble in our work. Help us share your grace in Word and deed. Help us assume the servant’s role as Jesus did. Help us share our blessings as the Samaritan did. Help us to put ourselves in others’ shoes, sandals, mountain boots, and to walk in the footsteps of bare and calloused feet.
Here, O God, and throughout all the earth, we trust in your abiding care. We pledge ourselves to a deepened commitment in your name. Amen.
Adapted from One Great Hour of Sharing, Congregational Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40402-1326. Used by permission.
We pray now for people who are close to us, we pray for others who especially need pray at this time.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in 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
lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers
Opening Prayer Today, God, we confess fumblings and failures in accomplishing unity, as we set aside yet another day to remind ourselves of the task. On this World Communion Sunday, give us eyes to recognize your reflection in the eyes of Christians everywhere. Give us a mind to accept and celebrate our differences. Give us a heart big enough to love your children everywhere. We thank you for setting a table with space enough for us all! Amen. – The Africana Worship Book, Year B
Hymn – 457 As We Gather
Scripture Acts 2: 2-8
Intro Communion
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 661 Come to my Heart
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks
Scripture Acts 2: 2-8
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?