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Bulletin

Sunday Worship

Trinity United Church

Thorold, Ontario

Labour Day Sunday

September 6, 2020

  PRELUDE

  WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS 

 CALL TO WORSHIP:    

One:    We gather here as people poised in promise and embraced in faith.

All:    We come as neighbours and as friends, sharing in community our joys and hopes,

One:    our anxieties and fears, 

All:    our distresses and our weaknesses and strengths.

One:    We acknowledge here the Living Spirit in our hearts and in our midst,

All:    knowing that the longing of our souls will be transformed to life, and ways of life for all.

One:    Together here we bring our thanks and praise and promise for the days and years to come.

All:    Together, in this place, we worship God.

 

HYMN #315 Holy, holy, holy

OPENING PRAYER and THE LORD’S PRAYER:

(Jean Leckie, Heart Lake United Church, Brampton, Ont.)

O God, you have been with us in the past and you will guide us into the future.  We give you thanks for the lives we have been given, with all of their blessings and challenges.  We give you thanks for the life of this community of your people.  We pray that we will be attentive to your call in the days and weeks and years to come, the sunny times and the stormy times.  Help us to learn your ways and grow more faithful to you in all times.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, who taught us, when we pray, to say:

  

THE LORD’S PRAYER:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done on earth,

as it is in heaven;

give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil,

for thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory

forever and ever.  Amen.

MINUTE FOR MISSION

 

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Prayer for Illumination:

Gracious Holy Spirit, guide us in your purpose and your love, that the words we hear can make a difference for the better, in our lives, in the lives we touch, in the life of the world.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

First Reading:  Romans 13:8-14 (NIV).  (scroll down to read Bible Readings)

Love fulfills the law

 

Congregational Reading:  Psalm 149 (Voices United)

Sing to God a new song!

One:    Sing to God a new song;

All:      give praise in the assembly of the faithful.

One:    Let Israel rejoice in its Maker;

All:      let the children of Zion exult in their Sovereign!

One:    Let them praise God’s name with dancing;

All:      let them sing God’s praise with tambourine and harp!

One:    For you, O God, take delight in your people;

All:      you crown the humble with victory.

One:    Let the faithful exult in their glory;

All:      let them sing for joy as they feast.

One:    Let God’s praise be on their lips,

All:     the two-edged sword in their hands,

One:    to bring the nations to justice

All:      and call to account the peoples,

One:    to bind their rulers with fetters,

All:      their great ones with bonds of iron,

One:    to execute on them the sentence decreed.

All:      This is the glory of all God’s saints!

 

Sung Response:

Sing praise to God, who has shaped and sustains all Creation!  (Tune: VU#220)    

 

     Sing praise, my soul, in your life

     and your health and salvation!

     Gladsome rejoice - organ and trumpet and voice -

      joining God's great congregation!

 

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 18:15-20 (RSV)

Engaging with wayward disciples

MINISTRY OF MUSIC  -  Great Is Thy Faithfulness

 

MESSAGE     

    ‘For the love of life’    Rev. Jim McKnight  

                  

HYMN:  #120 O Jesus, I Have Promised

 

PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION

 

HYMN:   The Hymnary #390  Work, for the Night is Coming!

 

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION

CHORAL AMEN     #967

POSTLUDE

Bible Readings

The Bible readings today declare the promise of faith: that in Christ, God is with us  -  loving, and healing, giving vision and strength, and setting a course that is life for the world.

 

Please pause with me in our prayer for illumination.

Let us pray:

Gracious Holy Spirit, guide us in your purpose and your love, that the words we hear can make a difference for the better, in our lives, in the lives we touch, in the life of the world.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Romans 13:8-14  (Revised Standard Version)

Love fulfills the law

8   Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one

     another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

9   The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,”

     “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command:

     “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

10  Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11   And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber,                 because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

12  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the

      armour of light.

13  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in behavioural immorality and                debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

14  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify selfish desires.

 

Paul’s life has been saved and restored through his experience of the Living Christ; and he proclaims the same promise of healing to the whole world.  It is the promise of the faith for today.

 

Psalm 149  (Voices United). Sing to God a new song!

 

     Sing to God a new song;

     give praise in the assembly of the faithful.

     Let Israel rejoice in its Maker;

     let the children of Zion exult in their Sovereign!

     Let them praise God’s name with dancing;

     let them sing God’s praise with tambourine and harp!

     For you, O God, take delight in your people;

     you crown the humble with victory.

     Let the faithful exult in their glory;

     let them sing for joy as they feast.

     Let God’s praise be on their lips,

     the two-edged sword in their hands,

     to bring the nations to justice

     and call to account the peoples,

     to bind their rulers with fetters,

     their great ones with bonds of iron,

     to execute on them the sentence decreed.

     This is the glory of all God’s saints!

 

Sung Response:

Sing praise to God, who has shaped and sustains all Creation!  (Tune: VU#220)

  

     Sing praise, my soul, in your life

     and your health and salvation!

     Gladsome rejoice - organ and trumpet and voice -

      joining God's great congregation!

 

Matthew 18:15-20  (Revised Standard Version)

Engaging with wayward disciples

 

15   “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you,

      you have gained your brother.

16  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the

      evidence of two or three witnesses.

17   If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be

      to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

18  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on

     earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my  

      Father in heaven.

20  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

 

This is a message of the faithful to the hopeful.  We pray that we might hear it both with grace and understanding.

Sermon:  For the Love of Life                       

 

1.    15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector .. ” 

 

“Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector ..” .... in other words .. let him be rejected!

 

2.   I have to tell you:

I sure wouldn’t want to be the accused or the respondent in the system described by Matthew here this morning ..

It sure seems stacked against the alleged offender ..

It sure seems self-righteous and judgmental and one-sided  -

Who decides the sin?  /  Who’s on the side of the accused?  

The process seems completely out-of-character with the ministry of Jesus ..

 this Jesus who confronted human judgment time and time again ..

 this Jesus who once challenged us by saying: 

    Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone ..

 

3.   Some of us would want to say the words assigned to Jesus by the gospel-writer Matthew could not be Jesus’ words!

      And we’d be right!

     Because the words contain a reference to the church:

     “Tell it to the church,” we hear this morning ..

 

4.  But the church did not exist in Jesus’ lifetime!  Any reference to “the church” in Jesus’ lifetime  would have made no            sense at all to Jesus’ listeners; such reference would only have made sense to Matthew’s community of faith 

     after Jesus’ death and resurrection! It would only have made sense to a Christian community who were developing            procedures designed to deal with unchristian-like behaviour .. 

 

5.   And I believe the witness and the character of Jesus sometimes gets lost completely in the institution of the Church!

 

6.   I once shared in team ministry with a colleague whose outlook was seriously divergent from my own.  

      (To put it that way is a kind of obtuse way of saying we were completely different from each other.)

      The two of us could not have been more different. Team ministry for him meant each working on our own; 

      for me, it meant working together, cooperatively, collaboratively ..

 

7.   I saw the two of us as equal partners; he saw himself as senior minister.  The UCW of the congregation offered

      him a gift  - a couch for his office.  I told him the money could be better used to buy a laptop for our youth minister           who needed one.  He said he never would refuse a gift offered by the UCW.  The couch was purchased.

 

8.   My email address was Jim McKnight;  his was “preacherman” ..and his sermons always left me feeling as though 

      he was telling us we might be Christian, but we had not quite attained the level of being Christian that he had ..

      Like the novel “1984”:  We all were Christian;  but some were more Christian than others ..

 

9.  Over time, there developed a rumour of dissatisfaction with him among the congregation and, in response, 

     he preached a sermon on the evils of gossip.  He preached a sermon that was judgment on our congregation.

 

10. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I went to him afterward. I told him my concerns.

      And he said to me:  He felt convicted ....He felt convicted to preach the sermon that he had ...

      It was God telling him to preach it!

 

11. And despite his pretensions to being “preacherman” and a kind of “super Christian”,  he had certainly paid no                    attention to this morning’s gospel: “If you feel wronged,” Matthew says to us, “speak to the one whom you feel                    wronged you.  If nothing changes, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the            evidence of two or three witnesses.  And if nothing changes still, tell it to the church; and if nothing changes after              that, reject him!”

 

12. My colleague skipped the process set by Matthew and went straight to judgment.  And it’s that sense of judgment               that I felt joined my colleague to this passage.  But the Gospel isn’t judgment!  The ministry of Jesus isn’t judgment.

      The ministry of Christ is grace!  And because it is, I believe we have to reinterpret Matthew’s passage.

      By the grace of Christ, Matthew’s directives can have nothing to do with judgment!   

      What he’s telling us is stop, and get your bearings!

 

13. Stop, and gain perspective;  see yourself as part of something more; stop and realize your place in relationship, 

     in common, in community; see yourself as part of one another and each other, all together.

 

14. Slow down, and stop, and find your place in that community of all of us as children of the Living God; 

      as children of the Living God in all the world. The message that is Matthew is more than just his own community

      and time;  it’s the world, and it’s eternal!

 

15.  “Where two or three or ten or thousands or millions are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them!”

      It’s Christ’s eternal promise. It’s ours today, and it’s ours for all the world!  If you are hurt; if you are at odds

      with one another; if there is discord and division  - Stop, and meet together;  Meet with others  /  with the church  /

     work for healing; gather in my name and in my presence and be restored!

 

16. So many of our conventions as a civilized society, as a progressive, social democracy, are under siege these days.

     We could despair.

     We could surrender.

     We could feel overwhelmed, and helpless.

     But our faith says we are not!

 

17.  Christ is in our midst, the Gospel tells us, and Christ is heart and strength and life for all the world!

     Some, in ignorance, in entitlement, in untested inhumanity, declare the cries of  "Black Lives Matter"

     are a sign of terror.

     But Christ declares that they are cries for life and health and healing!

 

18. Some would say that masks and distancing and sanitizing hands are encroachments on the human claim for freedom         But Christ would say that every effort to protect each other, and care for one another is a sacred trust; 

      and commitment to the truth is a value that transcends all others!

 

19. Some would say that personal freedom is the highest of ideals;  but Christ would say: 

      unless there’s freedom for all of us together-freedom for the global human family together - here is no freedom at all.

20. Some would make a case for law and order as the first ideal of being one in union and community and country ..

      But Christ, in empathy, would weep, and stand, and bring all strength and sacred whole commitment to the claim

      for love as bond for all of us and all the world, and all the possibilities for life, and life for all!

 

21. We hear Christ’s claim for love in what the apostle Paul says to us this morning:

      All the commandments, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 

      Love does no harm to a neighbour.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  And do this, understanding the                   present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now         than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of                       darkness and put on the armour of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime .. love your neighbour as yourself!

 

22. It’s true that we despair sometimes, and wonder what it is that we can do.  Love tells us.

      The love that is of Christ  -  it is our guide. The love of Christ just doesn’t end in who we are;

      it leads us into life for one another!

 

23. It gives us purpose, and inspires; it gives us hope that is reality, and living  -

      a hope that finds a place in the commitment and the thoughts of one who writes:

 

24.  Only One (by B. Hoff)

     My Child ..

     I’ve often heard your question ..

     and this is my answer .. 

     hear Me well:

 

     You’re concerned about the hungry world,

     the millions who are starving ..

     and you ask, “What can only one do?”

     Feed one ..

 

     You grieve for all the children, murdered every day ..

      and you ask, “What can only one do?”

     Save one ..

 

     You’re haunted by the homeless souls who wander city streets .. 

      and you ask, “What can only one do?”

     Shelter one ..

 

     You weep for those who suffer pain, disease and hopelessness,

     and you ask, “What can only one do?”

     Comfort one ..

 

     Your heart aches for the lonely, the imprisoned, the abused ..

     and you ask, “What can only one do?”

      Love one ..

 

      Remember this my Child ..two thousand years ago,

      the World was filled, just as it is today,

      with those in need ..

      and when the helpless and the hopeless cried out to Me for mercy,

     I sent a Saviour ..

     Hope began .. 

     With Only One.

 

25.  Today we celebrate the promise of the Gospel: that God is with us in the Living Christ; that Christ knows us fully  -           in our weaknesses and strengths; in our hopes and dreams and failures;

      that we’re not helpless  -  we have agency and influence as children of the Living God;

 

26. that the Living Christ is with us as we work to build a better world for all and all together 

      and reject the evils that would keep us down and keep us from each other.

     This is the Good News of the Gospel; this is the promise we embrace.

     Thanks be to God!

Morning Prayers  

                                        

Gracious God, we thank you for the life of Jesus  -  a Saviour and a Son,

a man of laughter and of tears, of humanity and courage and great heart.

We thank you for the ways he lived and loved and taught us;

the ways he showed how we best can be as being human:

understanding and respectful; living with humanity, humility, empathy and caring.

And we thank you that his life revealed to us the way you truly are:

a loving God  -  of strong compassion and of caring; steadfast, sure and certain  -  with us always;

embracing of our greatest strengths as human beings and of our weaknesses alike;

aching for what’s best for us but understanding every moment of our frailty as mortals.

Loving Saviour, call us once again to follow you; take us by the hand and guide us,

that we might live the constant values of your love and truth in an age of truth and worthy constants under siege.

We pray in Jesus’ name.

 

And Loving Saviour, hear the prayers we join with those of others.

We pray for people everywhere whose lives have been undone by deadly tragedy and war, by dread disaster,

by hatred and displacement and the shattering impact of the gun.

We pray for lives undone by earthquake, wind and fire, by flood and drought, by hurricane and cyclone;

and we pray for the groaning of Creation and all her creatures in these times of atmospheric earth’s upheaval.

May we work together as a human family to care for one another and our creaturely companions,

and renew in heart our creed to live with respect in your Creation.

We pray for people seeking justice, seeking to right systemic wrongs of ages past that are ingrained so deeply.

We pray for Black Lives Matter; for Indigenous peoples everywhere, especially here in this country we call home; for women underpaid and undervalued, and for front-line workers who give so much for so very little. 

Help us work to see, and understand, to learn their stories, and work together to find ways that offer remedy that lasts.

We pray for scientists and caregivers and families so directly affected by this pandemic that we’re in  -  that their voices will be heard, and that all response will  be honest and life-giving. 

And on this Labour Day Sunday, we pray for those who labour and who work, and who are heavy laden; men and women, young and old, who do their jobs honestly and fully to take care of the ones they love.  We pray a fair wage will be theirs, and proper care, and that the role of work and human worth and human labour would be valued more than technology’s fast track.  We pray for teachers and their students going back to school or just starting out, and for students being taught on-line, that their experiences will be worthwhile and safe, of value and enjoyed. We pray for the hungry and the homeless and the poor, the disenfranchised and the lost, the fearful and the lonely, the worried and forgotten.

 

We pray for those who bear the dark and heavy burden of depression and for the ones who love them.

May your light and strength enfold them, and bear them up. Comfort those who mourn, dear Lord, and be their rest.

Bring the healing only you can bring to those who suffer illness  -especially those in hospital or facing surgeries and procedures, and ones so loved recovering at home -and bring your encouragement and heart to those who love them and bring care.

 

Dear Lord, we pray for peace; and all in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Trinity United Church Thorold 

905-227-4644  /  tuc@vaxxine.ca