Sermon for 19 July 2020

Jacob’s Dream July 19
Have you ever met someone and thought “You’re so dishonest, you would steal from yourself if you didn’t think you’d get caught”
The story today is about Jacob and he fits the bill
Jacob was the grandson of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham had two sons by two women. The son’s names were Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael became the patriarch of the Moslem faith while the Jewish faith flows through Isaac. Jacob, was the son of Isaac and Rebekah.
He was not someone who you would admire or even like to be around. He really had no ethics at all when it came to his behaviour. However he does follow a pattern of people who God chose but most of us would not.
Consider Moses who led the people out of Egypt, he was a murderer before he had his burning bush experience. Think of Paul the largest contributor to the bible and one of the biggest influences on the Christian faith. He started out organizing lynch parties to kill off early Christians before he had his vision on the road to Damascus.
Jacob, had a twin brother named Esau who was born a few moments before him. The story is that Jacob was holding the heel of Esau. That meant that Esau would get the inheritance and the blessing. Jacob hated that. So one day when Esau was extremely hungry Jacob sold him some stew for his birthright. Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger.
But it didn’t end there.
By rites their father Isaac should have blessed Esau. Esau was rugged and hairy and Jacob was not. So Jacob, at the urging of his mother, dressed up in goat skin, and snuck in to get the blind father’s blessing while Esau was out hunting. Needless to say, Esau was upset and vowed he would kill Jacob. So Jacob took off.
This story takes place while he is on the run. He is headed back to his mother’s home town of Haran. It is nightfall and he needs a place to sleep. He takes a rock and puts it down as a pillow and then has a life-changing dream. ( I might have a life-changing dream if I used a rock as a pillow too)
He has a dream about a staircase where messengers of God are moving back and forth between heaven and earth doing God’s work. In our bible it is portrayed as a staircase but the original word is ziggurator mud-brick mountain uniting heaven and earth prominent in Mesopotamian cities such as Babylon. The name of the city means “gate of the gods.”
Jacob takes this dream to heart. First he takes the stone and pours oil on it and calls it Bethel or “house of God” . Suddenly something so ordinary as a stone becomes a sacred place.
Many of us have places that are sacred. They may be in a church but they may not be. They are places where we return hopefully, time and again to remember and remake ourselves. They are places where we can go to renew our lives and rededicate our futures.
It took Jacob many years before he returned to that spot but he carried it with him. He carried with him the knowledge that he was not alone.
There is a great comfort knowing that we don’t walk alone.
Some will remember the song “You’ll never Walk Alone” covered by many artists. Part of the lyrics are
Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
Loneliness is a huge crippler of motivation and of a full life. Jacob was feeling very lonely when he had this dream. He had just left his family and was travelling alone to see relatives that he likely didn’t even know; passing through areas that were totally unfamiliar. Like driving through remote areas of the Rocky Mountains.
Counsellors deal with loneliness all the time. There are many so called solutions including things like learn small talk. get active, volunteer, seek spirituality, find a pet.
Jacob gained courage knowing that he was not alone.
Another aspect of this story is the challenge to our understanding of the type of person God needs. We often think that God is seeking “good” people There is a fallacy that only a certain kind of person is acceptable to God. There is an image that only certain styles are able to do God’s work. I was asked if we would allow people with tattoos into the church. I showed them my tattoos.
I remember one preacher used to say -“if the members of my congregation put as much effort into getting new members as a bank robber puts into robbing a bank – we would be jammed every Sunday.
Jacob was a wheeler-dealer, he always looked out for himself and that didn’t change. In his dream God says I will go with you and make your family great. Jacob bargains. He says Ok God if you do all that and give me food and clothing and straighten out the situation with my brother then I will work for you.
Each of us has different personalities and different gifts. Each trait has value. At that point in history, the Jewish faith needed a wheeler-dealer. At different times and in different places the needs change. There is no gift that is unusable. People will sometimes say – “Well God can’t use my gifts” That is just not true. Don’t sell yourself short. Every person has worth.
Jacob does go on. Remember he lives in a culture that is different from ours. He marries two women who are his first cousins and he also acquires two concubines. (All at the same time) Those four women give him at least twelve sons and one daughter Dinah. Possibly there are more. The twelve sons become the twelve tribes of Israel. Dinah has her own story (Apparently someone was in the kitchen with her and only some of you will get that joke)
His family situation does get resolved sort-of. According to the Babylonian Talmud, Esau gets murdered by Jacob’s grandson over a grave dispute.
So what do we learn from Jacob’s story?
First we are all worthy. No one is outside God’s usefulness.
Second we are acceptable as we are even if you are differnt.
Third God may meet you in some strange pales. Be Aware
And finally, know that you are never alone.
Prayer
God, within each of us is a divine spark. Sometimes we have a hard time finding it. Sometime we believe that we are not worth very much. Sometime we believe that everyone is better than we are. You have the wisdom and the insight to see our greatness. You have the knowledge to make us whole. Help us to dream the dreams. Help us to believe not just in you but in ourselves as well. Thankyou for your gifts, that make our world abundant. Help us to find the abundance in ourselves.
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
SERVICE July 19
Announcements
1) Normally during mid August our Gilford church would be appreciative of
the support the community shows as we host our annual Steak BBQ. This
year however, we’ve had to cancel and in its place we are fundraising by
organizing “Ready to Cook” Take Out meal kits for $20.00. Each kit will
include a steak, 2 cobs of corn, baked potato, coleslaw, butter tart and 1
bottle of water, and will be ready for you to take home to cook.
If you are unable to enjoy one of our dinner take out kits donations are always welcome (e-tansfer – panddcoborn@gmail.com )
Thank you and we look forward to your continued support, The Gilford United Church
2) Etransfer info at bottom of page
3) Thanks Cathy and Chelsea
Opening Prayer
Hymn -412 This is the Day
Scripture Genesis 28: 10-19
Reflection
Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 649 Walk with Me
Benediction
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 wayis 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 Coborne 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
The security question is – Where is the Church located?
Answer -Gilford
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks

Sermon 12 July 2020

Sermon – Levels of Openness
Today we celebrate communion. Aside from all the faith benefits, some people like it because the sermon is shorter.
If you ask anyone if they have a sense of humour they will tell you yes. If you ask people around them the answer may not be in the affirmative. Everyone thinks they have a sense of humour, whether others do or not.
It’s the same with listening. If you ask people if they are good listeners they will reply “of course”. Or they may respond by saying “Pardon”?
We also think that we are basically good people.
So we are good people with a sense of humour and great listening skills. So we really have nowhere to improve.
That is why we tell stories with morals – to others. We don’t need them. Others do.
Therefore the scripture today about the 4 soils really doesn’t apply to us. We all know that we are number 4. It’s the same with so many of the stories Jesus told. We all think that we are the Good Samaritan, but if you pay close attention you find out – you’re not.
The story of the 4 soils is easy to understand, partly because Jesus explains it.
The first seed is sown along the path, where the birds eat it.
The second is sown in rocky thin ground so it grows fast but withers because
there is no depth.
The third seed grows fast but gets choked out by weeds.
The fourth seed grows in good soil and produces well. Jesus’ point to the
disciples was, that these are the type of people you will meet as you try to
spread his story.
Jesus then gave the interpretation of the parable.
The first soil is the person who believes anything and everything. They believe the words of Jesus but next day believe someone else’s story and so on.
The second is people who have no inner strength. They have no will power and
as soon as there is any question or difficulty they back down.
The third is people who get distracted by materialism or addictions
But the fourth is the people who have it together. They hear the word of God
and they hold on to it in spite of other distractions. They have depth to their character
We often enjoy identifying people of the various categories. We know who the light thinker in the group is, or the materialist. We know which one of our friends has no will power and we sometimes share stories about their failures.
Then we discover that we are not to judge anyone other than ourselves and realistically that is the only judgement that counts.
So let’s focus on putting ourselves in this story. What if all these numbers apply to us? What number are you?
(Some would say they are a 10 but that’s a different story)
Most would say they are number 4, but are you always? I would suggest that we are all different numbers at different times. These are the stages we go through. We move from one stage to the other as we grow.
Sometimes we are a number one. We are just so confused that we can’t make up our minds about what to believe and so we stop trying to figure anything out. There are times when we are a number 2. Somebody ridicules our beliefs or opinions and immediately we abandon our convictions.
Sometimes we belong to category 3. We have discovered some wisdom in the word of God. We may have even made up our mind to practice or faith but then the materialism of our lifestyle takes over and we decide that we don’t have the time, money or effort to look into the spiritual side of life.
I believe it is a process to become a 4. It takes practice and courage to be a person who listens and grows; a person who is open to the seeds that God throws down in front.
Too many people have already made up their minds about too many things. They are not fertile ground anymore.
You know the saying, My mind is made up don’t confuse me with the facts.
We are constantly being showered with new seeds; new ideas; new ways of comprehending.
We have a lot of politically correct groups and special interest groups. Just because a group objects to something doesn’t mean they are right but it does mean we should listen. Not all the seeds that fall on the ground are useful. A forester told me just a few days ago, if you are looking for acorns to grow a tree, don’t pick up the ones that the squirrels have discarded.
We have all kinds of ethnic and racial support groups as well as Black Lives Matter, Gay, Anti-gay, Native, Environmental, Animal Rights, Women Lib, Men’s Lib, addiction and mental health groups etc. We still have a flat earth society. We have conspiracy groups. We have lots of religious groups. We would have a procrastinators groups but they can’t choose a date.
They are not all right but they all believe they have a reason for existence. Sort it out and discover the good seeds for yourself. You only grow by looking at new ideas.
When you think about it – there was a time when the conspirators claimed that there were other continents. It wasn’t until they brought home the sand of a foreign beach that they were believed.
You can never learn less than you know now
We do have an advantage over the soil. We can reject the seeds that poison the ground, but don’t reject them until you know they are poison.
There was a time when Jesus was seen as a bad guy.
Fortunately some were open minded enough to believe him.
Search for ways that God is trying to reach you. Seeds are being planted all the time – will you let them grow?
PRAYER
God, open our eyes, that we may see your vast creativeness. Open our minds that we may comprehend the interaction of all your creation. Open our hearts that we may see the value in every person and open our understanding that we might grow through the differences.
Jesus brought new ideas and new understandings of you. Help us reflect that new concept of unconditional love so others may see him in us.
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
Communion Service
Let us Pray. God we ask that you would bless this meal that we are to take part in. May your Spirit be present with each person who is gathered in so many ways. Amen
As we come together for this meal we are reminded of the physical distance between us. For months we have not been able to see people who we count as friends and as family. When Jesus celebrated this meal with his disciples he knew that many of them would be taking a journey and for some they would never see the others again. For some their world would be completely changed. The normal world that they knew would become new. So Jesus instituted this meal as a way of being together in spite of the distances between us. Ass we celebrate let us remember that we are not alone.
Hold the bread
After Jesus had given thanks he took the bread and said” This bread is symbolic of my body. It will be broken, but so you understand the depth of commitment I have for you. Take and eat this.
Eat the Bread
Hold the Juice
This juice is the fruit of the vine. It is symbolic of the new covenant. From now on all people are welcome. We are all together in this journey of life. Take and drink this juice
Drink the Juice
Let us Pray. God as we depart from here, help us to always feel you with us. No matter where we go or the barriers we need to overcome, may we always be mindful of your presence.
SERVICE July 12
Announce re Communion prep
Opening Prayer
Hymn – 376 Spirit of the Living God
Scripture Matthew 13: 1-9 + 18-23
Reflection
Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 471
Communion
Benediction
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

Sermon 05 July 2020

Sermon 899

July 5, 2020 service

I read recently a story similar to the one I about to tell and it reminded me of this one, so I start with this story.

A daughter came home and fearfully announced to her mother that she had dented the car. She was expecting a tirade about being out too late and her carelessness and how the family was not rich enough to pay for her negligence. To the daughters shock her mother told her that she needed to go to a body shop and get the damages assessed and then figure out a way to pay for it. Her calmness unnerved the daughter.

A little while later the woman’s husband walked in and in a steady voice said he had decided that he was going to go golfing with his friends on the weekend. He realised that not all the chores had been done but  he had wanted to go for quite a while. His wife responded that she thought it would be wonderful for him to spend some time with his friends. He was shocked.

That same afternoon the son came in and simply laid his report card on the table. The marks were quite por. He waited for the explosion. His mother said that it was not good and he really needed to work harder.

All three were amazed at her reaction but also a little concerned. They had never known her to be so calm in the face of difficulties. The wondered aloud if she had been drinking of perhaps got into something to smoke. They decided to do an intervention before she got out of hand,

They sat her down and demanded to know why she, the woman who always loud and demanding, suddenly had this huge change of reaction.

She sat there and said that she knew she had been aggressive in the past, It was because she felt that she always had to be in control and fix everything. She went on to say that she had been searching for ways to limit the anger she felt. She had tried yoga and relaxation. She had tried psychology and counselling and all of them had told her pretty much the same thing. It reminded her of a wall hanging that had been on her grandmothers wall. Let Go and Let God. If you can’t sleep give your worries to God, God is up all night anyway. I decided that I would try that advice. It seems corny but I think it made a difference to me. The family was amazed

 

 

The scripture today holds the same advice. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy”. It was likely a pun. Jesus was a carpenterand in those days part of his job would have been making yolks. A yolk can be a piece of harness for animal but it also can be for humans to help them lift loads. They were often fitted to the individual because each of us is built differently. Ask any mirror about how different people are. We all have bumps and angles particular to us.

 

It is the same in our lives. We all have problems, particular to us, but because we are different, they affect us in unique ways. All you have to do is watch a local Facebook community like Alcona Chats to see how some people get wound up about something that someone else thinks is funny. Or be aware of how some people seem to let things roll off while others lose sleep over it.

 

Years ago I worked in the theatre. In one particular show about Billy the Kid at the St Lawrence Theatre, I was considered part of the cast. I thought that was great until I learned that we all had to do the preshow physical exercises. It was called the Cat and it was a way of releasing yourself from whatever was preoccupying your mind. You were to hand your worries off to the universe so you could concentrate on your character.

Virtually every self-help or enrichment program will tell you the same thing. You have to get outside yourself in order to have peace.

Remember Ann Landers? “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”

There are two aspects to the Christian faith. One is political. It is absolutely mandatory that if you are a Christian your goal is to make this world better and peaceful. To bring fulfillment to others, whatever that takes. Many Christians have died for that

But the golden rule says to love God and others as ourselves. We often forget to love ourselves. So the second aspect of the Christian faith is personal. Some would say it is to have a relationship with Jesus. I would broaden it to say – We need to have a relationship with God – whatever you consider to be God. A spirit, a power, a creative force, a caring entity. The point is that God is larger than you. You need to tap into that. When you do, you become a different person. You become more grounded. You become more able to deal with the troubles that life throws at you.

 

When you are on a plane the flight attendant will tell you that in case of a loss of air pressure, the masks will come down. Put your mask on first and then help others. Otherwise you will pass out and be of no use to anyone. Our natural reaction is to help others first but unless we are healthy we become a liability to others

Again this is true in life. If you don’t care for yourself then you can’t help others. In fact you become a liability to them.

There are ways of accomplishing this. It is different for everyone but one suggestion is to take time each morning to get grounded. Personally I go to the mirror and say “Ha Ha I’m back”

Some of you may want something more substantial. So when you wake up, take some time to welcome the day. Stop first and give thanks that you have one more day. Then spend some time meditating; praying; reading the bible or some other meaningful text. Something that is encouraging with positive energy. The first thing most people do is check their phones or email etc. That jams you right into someone else’s world. You need to make your world whole before you can help others.

Take those moments in the morning or any time of day and realise that you are a part of something that is much greater than you.

When Jesus spoke of a yoke he wasn’t saying he was going to do the work for you,

He was just saying he had ways of making it easier.

This is not to say that we should not take our responsibilities seriously, it just helps to know that you are not alone

How often have you found that a tedious job goes faster with the presence of a helpful person. (I understand that some people can make the job seem tougher but God is not one of those people)

Another part of this is to give up your need for control.  When you look around you understand that you are really an insignificant part of the world, and more so, the galaxy. The world was here long before you, and will be long after you. One of my sayings is: “In a hundred years will it matter?”  Actually will it matter in 2 days?

Author Steve Maraboli says “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”

Again this is not to say we shouldn’t try to make things better. I have a sermon I stole from my dad called Worry and Concern. Worry is useless but concern is vital. (Now you don’t need to listen if I preach it again). If something needs fixing it does matter, but don’t just worry about it, be concerned enough to Do something.

Finally one of the most powerful parts is to know that this connection you have, shows that you are loved. Love is the spirit that binds us together, Love is the connection. We may be insignificant as far as controlling the world but we are a part of the overall collective spirit of love. No one is greater and no one is less. Like an ocean is made of drops of water, they are all equal. When they come together they can float a ship.

When a ship passes over the sea, a single drop can’t support a ship but many drops can. And the amazing part is that no matter how many times the ship passes it never wears the water out. Together the water can continually support the ship.

Try letting go and not attempting to carry the whole load by yourself

You are not alone

Jesus says my yoke is easy. When you welcome in help from a source larger than you, things get easier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRAYER

Give Us This Day Our Daily Gratitude

That I have been given one more day, I give thanks.

That the birds still sing each morning, impossibly early outside my window, I give thanks.

For the sun rising once again in the East, I give thanks.

That for this day I have bread, I give thanks.

For drinkable water, for breathable air, and Dairy Queen dipped cones I give thanks.

For one more day of mobility I give thanks.

For novelists who create worlds and characters and stories for our minds and not for our TVs, I give thanks.

For the puppy I got at the beginning of quarantine who is currently destroying my life, I give thanks.

For cell phone reception, and I-guess-its-better-than-nothing ZOOM calls and reliable internet service, I give thanks.

That I am loved, I give thanks

That I am forgiven, I give thanks.

That I am alive, I give thanks.

That you, O God are known by many names, I give thanks.

That you, O God are present when I feel only your absence I give thanks.

That you are God and I am not, I give the most thanks. Forgive me when I forget that one.

And for every other gift I am too self-obsessed to see, but that totally comes from you -Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Amen.

 

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

 

 

 

SERVICE June 28

Opening Prayer

Hymn – 374

Scripture  Matthew 11: 25-30

Reflection

Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn  625 I feel the winds of God

Benediction

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

“Sent from my Elderberry”

Sermon  28 June 2020

Sermon  Different Ways of Faith

June 28, 2020 service

 
 
 

 

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone had a suggestion for a sermon topic One of the responses was “Why are there so many different denominations in the Christian faith? Shouldn’t they all be one”. So that is the topic for today.

There was a time when the differences were much more pronounced. There was a much greater rivalry. Things have changed but here is a joke from a few years ago which highlights what I am saying.

There was a small town where there were just two churches. Let’s say an Anglican and a Methodist. There was a lot of rivalry between the two. One day the Anglican minister died and the Methodist preacher was the only other minister for many kilometers. The Anglicans asked the Methodist if he would perform the Anglican funeral. The Methodist preacher was unsure of protocol so he phoned his Bishop. The Bishop responded by saying “Well yes of course. Bury as many Anglican priests as you can”

Ministers do get along. We have a ministerial in town where we meet for lunch every so often. We don’t talk about theology because each of us knows that all the other ones are wrong. So we talk about lunch and some of the odd people we work with.  Just kidding.

Suggesting that everyone should believe the same thing is not realistic.  It is why we have so many different religions and so many different denominations

A religion is a belief system. The major religions in the world are Christianity with  2.1 billion, Islam with  1.3 billion, Hinduism with 900 million. Buddhism with  376 million, Sikhism with  23 million and Judaism with 14 million. Within each religion there are many denominations.

I worked at a hospital with a Hindu priest and he told me that there was a new Temple being built in Mississauga where he lived. I said it was great that he would have anew temple and he replied “Oh no that is a completely different denomination from us”. Suddenly I realised that every religion has smaller divisions within it. There are thousands and thousands of Christian denominations.

The church is one of the only places in the world where people think everyone should be the same. The common line is “Well you all worship the same God why can’t you all be together?” Whether it is the same God or not, is debatable but even if it is, we express our beliefs in different ways.

In other areas of life differences are accepted and expected. We all have different likes and dislikes. Can you imagine if we all had to drive the identical vehicle? After all we are just trying to get transportation. (we would never get out of a parking lot because we would never find which one was ours)  Or if you went to a ice-cream parlour and they only served one flavour because everyone should just like ice-cream.

In every aspect of life we have variety which gives us choices. It’s OK if we are not the same as others. Winston Churchill says “A kite rises against the wind, not with it”

Where would the fashion industry be if everyone wore the same outfit? Not everyone likes the same colour. Not everyone likes the same food or drink. Not everyone likes the same style of house and so on. When I do weddings I realise that not everyone likes the same type of person to live with. (Fortunately for most of us!)

There are reasons for our different likes. Both inside and outside the church.

One big reason is culture.

What is normal in one church is considered strange I another. I remember a woman who explained that her Christian baptism was done in a Coptic Church using cow’s urine. Some people apparently find that odd. For some, walking into a church with statues of saints and candles at their feet is peculiar. Still others find the apparel of the congregants, whether it’s bonnets or suits is extraordinary. I helped out in a Native congregation and it was very important to have space for a drumming circle at the front. Culture  contributes to differences. So we have a assortment of rituals particular to that culture

Some of the differences are based on traditions and dogma. Some people like organization and structure while some people like spontaneous and unsystematic. Some people like pomp and regalia while some people like simple. The difference of the inside of a high Roman Catholic Church to a Primitive Methodist church is staggering. When it comes to theology, some people like to be told what to think others like to think for themselves. Some like to follow a very conservative interpretation while others prefer a liberal bent. Each one of these differences usually leads to a new congregation or denominations.

Another  contributing factor is history. Over the years there have been many many splits and often those splits don’t heal so you are left with two or more groups. One of the largest splits, as I mentioned last week was the reformation. People left the Roman Catholic church and followed a leader, like Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Luther and many more. Each leader developed their own following, creating many  different denominations. In 1925 some of those separate denominations came together and became the United Church.

The history of the world is significant but also your own personal history. If you were raised by a restrictive faith you may have revolted and will never go back. On the other hand you may be entrenched in the church of your youth. Much depends on your own personality. If you are a risk-taker you respond to that style of denomination and vise-versa.

Finally your personal experiences factor in. Were you judged or rejected; accepted or loved by a particular group of Christians.

Everyone believes their faith is the right denomination and everyone is right. It’s like everyone believes their dog is the best – and they are all right. If you didn’t believe that then you would change.

The problem arises when someone thinks that their faith is the right one for everyone else. There has been a lot of coercion and judgement. There has been a lot of torture and fear. There has been a lot of indoctrination and guilt. Criss Jami says “When you’re the only sane person, you look like the only insane person. Some churches try to make you feel insane if you disagree with them

Some people have difficulty understanding that others can believe differently than they can. We see that in the political world to a certain extent. We see it in the sports world, especially when it comes to soccer, to the point of destruction and chaos.

In the last 50 years there has been a tremendous effort to close the gap between denominations. It’s called Ecumenism Many groups are working together especially in the area of Social justice, the work is more important than the differences.

The Scripture today is about giving a cup of cold water to someone in need.  There is nothing about dogma or traditions or any other divisive issue. There is nothing about what the cup looks like or where it was made. It is the action of caring that is the crucial point.

If your faith is causing harm to yourself or others, then you should change it. But just because it is different than someone else’s should not be a point of shame or guilt.

We shouldn’t care what car others drive or what they wear or what their favourite colour is or how they express their faith. Or even if they wear socks in their sandals. We are unique. We are in this together but we are not identical, and that is OK.

Kahlil Gibran

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

There are different denominations because people are different and  that’s OK.

Prayer

God you have created each flower with its own distinct characteristics and they all give a beauty to the garden they are in. The different trees grow together in the same forest. We are all in this world. No two identical, each one different yet we are all together. You have given us  our own creative ideas and gifts; our own skills and talents. We bring our own understandings and interpretations which brings depth and beauty to this world. Help us to see the full fabric of life. Help us to experience the differences and adventures and opportunities.

Open our hearts and minds to see the beauty of Christ in everyone and everything.

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

SERVICE June 28

O Canada

Opening Prayer

Hymn –  580 Faith of our Fathers

Scripture  Matthew 10: 40-42

Reflection

Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn  579 The Church is Wherever God’s People

Benediction

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

Postlude Tribute to the Class of 2020

Sermon 897 21 June 2020

Sermon 897 Why Christians Should Protest
Today I am talking about why Christians should protest and also it is Father’s day so I share this; about a picture I saw recently about a dad during a protest rally. He was holding up a large hollow tube. His sign read “This is the last straw” Truly a dad joke to start a sermon on protesting on Father’s day.
Several times this week people have asked me my opinion on the protests. Personally I think they are great. Now I should probably explain.
The Christian faith has a long history of protesting, starting with Jesus himself. His attack on the corrupt financial system connected to the synagogue occurred when he went in and overturned the money exchange tables. This would be considered by some to be a violent attack on a church but by others it would be seen to be a breaking point.
I was digging in my basement and I found two newspaper articles from the year 32ad. (For those of you not following closely – there were no newspapers or printing press in 32ad.)
No matter how you look at this story, Jesus was frustrated and angry by the corruption of the ruling bodies to the point that he took action.
This was the beginning point in a long history of Christian protesting. Eleven of the twelve disciples were executed for their actions. Many of their charges were based on “challenging the laws” and “unlawful assembly”. However protests did not stop with the disciples. There are too many martyrs to mention. If you google Christian Martyrs” you will find a great long list. In the last 100 years there have been 80 well known people or entire groups, executed for their Christian faith. In some cases their families were killed with them.
Those are just the martyrs, which does not take into account the number of Christian protests and demonstrations.
One of the largest protests in history was during the reformation. People were unhappy with the Roman Catholic Church. They felt strongly that the theology and practices were misguided and corrupt. So they revolted. The church retaliated with horrible vengeance and we have the history of the torture chambers. The group that dissented were called Protest-ants from the word protest. The protestants then went on to become the United Church, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Mennonites and almost every other church that is not Roman Catholic.
Protesting is a basic part of the Christian faith.
Protesting is a basic part of human existence.
Demonstrations are a way for people to get together and feel supported.
Unfortunately we have a very tainted view of demonstrations. Media and the powers that be like to smear the demonstrators and so they highlight the looting and violence.
I don’t agree with the looting but I do understand it.
Often when there is an extreme level of frustration we take it out physically. How many can say they have never slammed a door or thrown an item across the room.
In the USA right now the average minimum wage is $11. Unemployment is at 13% The average cost of just going to the hospital and having a baby is $10,000 – $30,000. People see the stores as symbols of oppression and they attack them. Having said that, I know there are people who just like to have the opportunity to steal but that has nothing to do with the protest.
The vast majority of demonstrations are not violent. Sometimes the violence is staged by people who are opposed to whatever the issue is. They just want to make it look bad.
There are protests all over the world. Last week there was a demonstration in France because they want better protection for health care workers. The reason I noticed it was because the crowd was being hit with a water canon
We have lots of protests here in Canada. Last week there was a Black Lives Matter demonstration here in Innisfil.
There was a demonstration at Extendicare in Toronto by the families of residents. 50 of the 159 residents died from Covid. The families want change.
During normal times there are protests at Queens Park all the time. They are peaceful. I have been involved in anti-war and anti-poverty demonstrations many times. There are demonstrations by many groups. I even went to a demonstration put on by farmers over land issues.
Sometimes there are humorous elements. I was once leading an anti-war demonstration in a good size town in Alberta. At the last minute the police told us we had to have a parade permit and the office wasn’t open until Monday. One of the higher ranking and sympathetic police came to me and told me that if we had a prayer it would be classed as an outdoor worship and we didn’t need a permit. Four hundred people bowed their heads for a word of prayer.
Do protests and demonstrations do any good? Yes they do.
If there is a large crowd protesting something, then the company or the government or whoever does actually notice. They may down play it but they notice. Ask Ghandi, So does the public. It raises awareness Change happens when people unite.
Secondly it profoundly affects you. The action of standing up for something you believe in empowers you.
Jesus understood that when he said “I have come to set people against each other” He realised that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself even if others around are opposed. (It may seem odd to have this on father’s day but it is reality)
Suzy Kassem – an Egyptian poet living in the USA supports Christ’s view when she says” “Stand up for what is right even if you stand alone. Stand up for truth, regardless of who steps on it.”
Jesus continues on with “ If you are trying to save your life you will lose it but if you are willing to lose your life, you will save it” By losing your life he meant losing some of your privilege, lifestyle, and addictions. He meant losing some of the obsessions we have with consumerism and competition. I believe he also meant that if you are actually willing to lose your life for something you will gain the freedom to pursue it. You save your life by losing what isn’t important and striving after what is crucial.
If you think there is something wrong in your own life – fix it.
If you think there is something wrong in this world then get some friends together or by yourself – express it and fix it.
Jesus did!
Prayer
God, we each seek for perfection in all areas of life. We want to succeed. You have shown us the ways to make ourselves and the world flawless, yet we get distracted by greed; we get preoccupied by comfort, we get pressured by opinions. Help us to have the courage to stand up for what is right regardless of the cost. Help us to carry through with our decisions in spite of ridicule. Help us to have faith in ourselves, in others and in you.
Open our hearts and minds to see the beauty of Christ in everyone and everything.
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
SERVICE June 21
Opening Prayer
Hymn – 427 To Show by Touch and Word
Scripture Matthew 10: 34-39
Reflection
Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 289 It only takes a Spark
Benediction
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
Not Peace, but a Sword Matthew 10: 34-39
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Church Givings

I know that as you watch the video, the one thing you really miss is the collection of the offering – I think the treasurers miss it too. So here is your chance to get involved. Thanks

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 Coborne 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

             churchillchurch2020@gmail.com

 The security question is – What is the name of your church -answer – Churchill

or        panddcoborn@gmail.com

The security question is – Where is the Church located? Answer  -Gilford

Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks

Sermon 896 14 June 2020

Sermon 896

June 14, 2020 service

 

Some of you will remember the Blackout in August 2003. It was huge. It covered most of Northeastern United States and Canada. It lasted up to 4 days and caught people by surprise as there was no storm or seeming reason. Turns out it was a bug in the software system. I was taking my kids to the airport and we were of course low on gas. None of the gas stations had power. As you can imagine there was and sense of emergency and panic. Word got out that a gas station in Whitby had somehow managed to power up their pumps. However they were charging an exorbitant rate. They were taking advantage of people in need and it was not received well. As a foot note -after the blackout the local residents boycotted the gas station and it went bankrupt.

Recently in the Covid crisis we saw the same action. I do know that some of the price gouging was not the fault of the local store as they were getting gouged by the suppliers. Some supplies were very scarce. At some point someone will write a documentary on the emotional trauma of toilet paper hoarding.

But some saw a chance to take advantage of people in need and make money off them. When you see a bottle of hand sanitizer selling for $35, you know they are just “cleaning up” on us.

The point is, that money should not be the motive for helping others. You should not try to get rich off your ability to help others.

There is a powerful statement about Jesus when it says he was going about the area healing and preaching and “when he saw the crowds he had compassion on them”

One of the temptations that Jesus faced was to make money off his talents.

Can you imagine how popular he would have been then or now if he could cure every disease? He could easily have become the most wealthy person in the world.

But his motivation was not money. And that was and is a difficult idea for our world to understand.

There is lots of discussion about the finances of the pharmaceutical companies. Are they extorting us or do they need that kind of money for research and development? There are lots of questions about private health care. Who is making money and how much. More recently there are huge questions about the for-profit senior care homes. Is the interest in helping people, or the financial bottom line for the individuals involved, the biggest motivation. We have had the same issue with charities. Every year a report comes out, usually around Christmas about what charities do with their money and which one is the most honest.

However, during this pandemic we have seen glimpses, in fact pages of stories of generosity. Many reports have come to me about people who suddenly found a neighbour or friend who desperately needed help and instead of charging for their time, they did it for free. I have heard of restaurants donating their food, people delivering supplies, people phoning each other, many other examples and the powerful part is, they are not asking for returns. I recently asked a man how much he had spent on helping his neighbours. His response was “I have no idea”. That is powerful.

Jesus was always aware of motivations when it came to doing good. In one place he says “Don’t stand in the public square and pray. Don’t be religious if you are doing it to get fame

Another place he says “Don’t let anyone know the good you have done”. That is a tricky one, especially if someone else gets credit for something you have done.

I will insert here an oddity – simply because it is in the story and people will ask about it. Jesus says “Go nowhere among the Gentiles”. He wasn’t prejudice but rather he wanted his disciples to do the hard work It was a lot easier to introduce Christian faith to the non-jews than it was to the established church. The synagogue had more baggage then those who had nothing to lose. So he was leaving the tougher job for those better trained.

Then he goes back and talks about motivation in a roundabout way. He sends his disciples out and tells them to basically take nothing. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.

 This is the passage that gives ministers trouble. This is the passage that some churches use to negotiate the salary. Just kidding. People will periodically refer to it and say “Why does it cost to have church. Faith is free”. My response is “Why does it cost to have a concert – music is free” To operate anything in our society people need to be paid, because they have bills. The point is – it is not about the money – it is about the motivation.

 

A popular discussion especially in the early church was “which is better: faith or works?” I believe if you have faith then that becomes the motivation for works. One ties into the other.

 

A child said to their parent, “If we are here to help others – what are the others here for”? The fact is – sometimes we are the others – sometimes we are the ones who need help and it’s nice to know that the person who is helping us is doing it because they want to.

This story comes out of the United States and is apropos at this time. The police were called to evict a 19 yr old who put up a tent on the campus of a college in Georgia. When they talked to him they found out that he had ridden his little brother’s bike for 6 hour in the heat to enrol in the college. He didn’t have enough money to get a motel. The police put him up in a motel at their own expense and when they told some others, they started a GoFundMe and the young man got his tuition paid. Neither the police nor the neighbours got anything out of that except the sheer joy of seeing someone helped.

If you do good deeds for money – you will never have enough money.

If you do good deeds for fame you will never be famous enough.

If you do good deeds for joy, for compassion, for love, – you will succeed. You will find them.

Isn’t it wonderful when your footprint brings joy to the heart of someone.

PRAYER

God, we sometimes get consumed by our own needs. Our need to succeed; Our need to be important; Our need to number one. But help us God to listen humbly to the voice of our brothers and sisters around us, regardless of their race or their lifestyle, or their fears, or their level of success. We all have needs; we all have hopes and dreams. Help us all to have compassion and love.

Open our hearts and minds to see Christ in everyone and everything.

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

 

SERVICE June 14

Opening Prayer

Hymn – 602  Blest Be the Tie that Binds

Scripture  Matthew 9: 35-38 and 10:5 -14

Reflection

Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn  595 We are Pilgrims

Benediction

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

“Sent from my Elderberry”

Sermon for 07 June 2020

A young boy asked his father about where people came from. His dad told him that we were formed by God and he could read the story of creation in the bible. The boy said that his mom had told him we were part of evolution and we came from monkeys. The father replied – “O that was your mother’s side of the family that came from monkeys.
There has always been a lot of discussion about the creation story. Today I chose to talk about it partly because it came up as part of the lectionary but also because I think it has merit in today’s world.
First I am only addressing the first story of creation found in the bible. There are two stories and they are not the same as some would tell you. The first one starts at Genesis chapter 1 and goes to Chapter 2 verse 4.
The second story starts after that. The main area of difference between them is in the manner in which humans were created. In the first order the people are created both male and female at the exact same time, after the animals.
The second order is different. A male is created first and then the animals. God then asks Adam if he found a suitable companion in the animal world and Adam responds no (there are a lot of jokes I could make about that). However God then takes a rib from Adam and makes a woman. This is very different from the first story. It was written in a different time by a different group for a different purpose. One of the reasons why so many people know the second story is that Paul used it as a basis in his diatribe against women. The second story puts women in a subservient position. The first story does not
The first order which was the original, follows the pattern of evolution very closely. First we have a void then we have light and darkness, after that is a dome (sky) (or Skydome) followed by earth and water, vegetation, land animals and then humans.
There are many problems with a literal interpretation of either story
First how does anyone know what happened before people existed. There was 5 days when there were no humans, so the reporter must have been very clever. It is a story
The point is that we were all created in one place which makes us all relatives.
Whether you believe this story a native one, or evolution or some of the other creation stories – it really doesn’t matter. They are all just ways of the human race trying to explain where we come from.
The Ojibwe Legend is similar to the Jewish story. Both man and woman are created at the same time – after the earth and animals have been formed. The reason for human existence was that the creator was lonesome. Another variation includes the development of the earth on the back of a turtle, hence we have the term Turtle Island. Toronto Zoo has Turtle Island conservation program.
Other stories portray Sky-Woman falling slowly to earth, being protected by the animals and then giving birth to two beings. A good one that went to live in the sky and provided good things for humans and a bad one that dwells among us.
The Japanese myth of creation is part of the Shinto Story. It is about a beginning in chaos and silence.. Then there was some sound and particles began to move. As light travels faster than matter, the light rose to the sky and the matter stayed and formed earth. Then 5 gods appeared and hid. They had no gender or partners. Then another 3 and finally 5 pairs of gods showed up and created all the other gods.
The Chinese have many creation stories, although there is not creator. Basically and simplistically everything spontaneously formed in 15 days and the common element instead of being water was air.
If you start to follow the various cultures you will find some similarities but also some differences.
The basic similarity is that there was some form of chaos and out of that came life. Sometimes I wonder if we are re-entering the chaos era.
The Mayans have a story about a group of deities forming the world. Then the sky collapses, they kill a crocodile and prop the sky back up on 5 big trees. Then the creation continued with the order being animals, clay, wood and people made from maize dough. This may sound odd but for them, that was their belief.
The bottom line is, no one knows how we got here and it only makes sense that we came from a chaos of some kind.
But no one knows how we got here. There was no one around. I personally prefer the evolution theory which is very similar to many of the creation stories including the first biblical one. I believe there was a creative force that started it all, but however it happened – it was a gift. None of us engineered or instigated it. Even if you think we came from aliens, you had nothing to do with it. When you really think about it, you didn’t even have anything to do with your own birth.
Secondly I believe we all came into being by the same means. There was no separation of gender or race. I have a friend who believes that we were all born asexual. In other words there was no gender distinction we simply reproduced. The separation of male and female developed over time. You may have trouble with that, but certainly skin colour, culture, physical features, beliefs even wealth are all things that developed. Those things should have given a richness to our world.
The situation in the USA right now is horrible, but it is not the only one. All over the world people are living less than beautiful lives due to an inequality that should not exist.
I remember a few years ago when a child sued his parents for giving birth to him. He said he had no control and that life was forced on him so his parents should look after him and give him their money. I believe that the father said “You’re right we had no control. If we did – we wouldn’t have chosen you” That child didn’t realise the gift he had been given
Sometimes I wonder if the creative force, feels that way about us right now and what we are doing. Do we realise the gift we have been given? Do we realise that is IS a gift. None of us own it. Some people try to own the story by saying theirs is the only version. Not only do we not own the story – we don’t own the earth or anything in it.
There should be no prejudice, no poverty, no war. Life should be an adventure – not a sentence. We are all sisters and brothers. Every person has hopes and dreams. Every person wants to feel love.
Prayer
Thanks be to you, God, Creator Spirit. You were here before us. You have wisdom beyond us and your Spirit will be here long after any of us. We find you already in the trees and in nature, We find you in the weather. We find you in the concrete of the cities. We find you in other people. We find you in the stars. We find you in so many things that we don’t even understand. You have created and are still creating. We give you thanks.
Help us to realise that we are living in a gift. Help us to share that gift equally.
Open our hearts and minds to see Christ in everyone and everything.
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
SERVICE June 7
Opening Prayer
Hymn – Come in Come In 395 VU
Scripture Genesis 1: 1-2 and 24-27
Reflection
Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn Draw the Circle Wide 5MV
Benediction
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

Sermon for 31 May 2020

Here is the service for May 31
If anyone has any topics they would like me to preach on please send them along

SERMON Interruption of Pentecost

Acts 2: 1-8

May 31, 2020 service

Uniformity brings stability and comfort. Interruptions bring awareness and change.

At some of the weddings I perform, there is an undercurrent of unhappiness between members of the family. (I thought I said that rather nicely.) At one particular wedding I knew that the bride’s mother and step mother were not the best of friends. There seemed to be a desire for one to outdo the other. This came to fruition at the rehearsal. Somehow the one mother found out what dress the other was wearing to the wedding and chose to wear that same dress to the rehearsal. It meant that one woman would have to show up to the wedding in the dress that the other had worn to the rehearsal.

The realisation was not well received. I am sure there was a flurry of activity at some dress store the next day

Usually there is comfort in similarity, but not in this case.

In our world there often is a desire to be alike. Big stores like Walmart and Costco are constructed almost identically – although the Costco in Barrie is the mirror image of the one in Newmarket. That really messes you up. Fast food outlets are usually quite alike. Partly this is due to savings in the architectural design but partly it brings a comfort to you if you are travelling and lonely. You walk into familiar surroundings.   Apparently the McDonalds in China is identical to ones here – except for the writing.

However when everything is the same, we soon get bored. Shorelines are interesting because they are different. Stain glass attracts your attention because it is not uniform. Songs are worth listening to because they have more than one note.

Chevy owners will tell you that Ford lost the upper hand in 1930’s because Henry Ford said his cars could be any colour so long as it was black. (Apparently that was just a joke)

Today is Pentecost Sunday The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were in the Upper Room where they gathered when suddenly there were flames dancing around the room, a sound like a rushing wind and new energy.

Pentecost was an interruption.

As a child growing up we rarely talked about Pentecost. I was in a church where Religion was important. Rules were to be obeyed and mostly not questioned. Part of that structure was the era. The world had just gone through the tremendous upheaval of World War 2. The war that killed nearly 85 Million people was recently over. The effects were still upon us. There was a desire for stability and sameness. But it wasn’t long after the wars when stability moved over for change. After the first world war, it was the Flappers in the 20’s after the second it was the hippies in the 60’s.  So the desire for something new forced a change.

The church has often been the fortress of tradition

That was no different in the time of Jesus

The Jewish religion had a giant hierarchy and more rules than books. Christ fought against it almost to the point of exclusion, but after he departed the disciples were left with the task of surviving. They were trying to decide how to go about maintaining the new ideas that Jesus had shared. Basically they had to organize a new church or at least a new group.

Often when we are left in disarray we return to what we know. I am sure that in that Upper Room they were discussing tasks. They elected a new disciple (Matthias) to replace Judas and they were trying to establish who was going to be the new leaders.

SUDDENLY the Holy Spirit interrupted and not in a small way. (On a personal note, there have been many times in meetings, not just church meetings that I wished the Holy Spirit would interrupt.) As I just mentioned the disruption was huge.

Interruptions come to all of us. They can be a nuisance or they can be a gift

Sometimes we see them as a nuisance. Our life is carefully planned around our needs and desires. We have a tight focus on what we want to accomplish and then an interruption happens. It may be a financial gain or loss. It may be an emotional upheaval. It might be a person coming into or leaving our lives. It might be a tragedy. It might even be a gift. It is something that we didn’t expect.

There is a saying that “We plan and God laughs”

The nuisance part of the interruptions is that they can cause panic. If you are at home and you haven’t got the house clean and the doorbell rings, that upsets some people. (not me)

If the phone rings in the middle of the night, there is always panic.

Another nuisance aspect of an interruption is that you lose control. When you lose control it can affect your confidence. You thought you had everything planned but suddenly you realise you are not totally in charge.

We are struggling with that right now, with this pandemic

They are certainly struggling with that in Minneapolis

So interruptions can be more than just a minor nuisance.

However there is a GIFT aspect to interruptions. It forces us to see the world in a new way.

How often have we heard a story of someone who was having a terrible life and then was shipwrecked, and then began a new life on some tropical island where there was plenty of everything and no Covid 19. (Probably never – but it’s a good thought)

Seriously it forces us to re-evaluate our selves. It forces us to search other opportunities. It forces us to see things from aa new perspective. When the apple-cart is upset, you get a chance to see all the apples.

It is at that point that there is an opening for the Holy Spirit

It is at that point that there is an opening for creativity, growth and change

The disciples were at the point of searching. When the Holy Spirit enveloped them and new things started to happen. Peter went out on the balcony and started to preach, something that he had likely never imagined himself doing before. If they hadn’t had the interruption they likely would have remained a small group of 12, meeting in an upper room with a secret password and we never would have heard of them, but the world changed because of this gift.

What started as a nuisance became the beginning of the church.

The fact that you are reading this or watching it on video talks about the interruption we are presently going through.

When someone says – what is going to happen? That comes from our desire for stability. For many there is a hope to return to the old ways because they are comfortable. But just like the mothers with the wedding day dresses, you soon realise that something needs to change. Our desire for sameness may not be what we really want.

If a song only had one note, not only would it be boring, but we would soon run out of wind. Maybe the song that we as the church, and we as society have been singing has run out of wind.

Interestingly the word for Spirit comes from the Greek word for wind.

Maybe we have run out of spirit

What we are going through is a tremendous interruption. It’s not the only one. There are many personal and international upheavals happening as well. We don’t hear about them but they are happening. There may be one happening in your life right now.

Are we ready to sing a new song?

Are we ready to create new shorelines in the community and in our lives?

Every interruption is an opportunity for the Spirit to enter. Like the story of the sphere – nothing can get in or out until there is a crack.

I think it is apropos that Pentecost fell in this time of confusion.

Let’s see how we can move forward with the Spirit into new ventures – with new energy and new hope

SERVICE

Prayer

God we try so hard to control everything. We try so hard to have neat lives with no surprises. Then the day comes when we find out that we aren’t in control of everything. Events happen. Life happens and I am sure that you smile with a kind smile, knowing that the picture is bigger than our personal camera lens. Like a parent with far more wisdom than the child, you send help in our most difficult moments. Help us God: to accept the Spirit in our lives. To be at one with the Spirit in our decisions and in our futures. Help us work with your Spirit in this coming world. Thank you for your faith in us

We pray now for people who are close to us, We pray for others who especially need prayer at this time……..

Now we pray 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

SERVICE May 31

Opening Prayer

Hymn –  376  Spirit of the Living God

Scripture  Acts 2: 1-8

Reflection

Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Hymn  375 Spirit of Gentleness

Benediction

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

“Sent from my Elderberry”