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        Sunday Guided Tour -  Trinity Sunday / Beaverdams Church  - June 7, 20120


Here is the link to the worship service 

Read the text below at your leisure or follow along with Rev. Jim McKnight and and Rick Young, Music Director.

You can also access this at Facebook : Friends of TrinityUnitedChurchThorold.

                                             Friends of Beaverdams Church - Siding Replacement Project : 






A Sunday Guided Tour  for June 7, 2020


Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our weekly Guided Tour for this Sunday.  According to our church calendar, this day is variously recognized as Trinity Sunday, Union Sunday, Pride Sunday, and (for Trinity) the yearly Sunday when we celebrate at Beaverdams.  So here we are, at Beaverdams Church  -  a place of Christian faith and promise and encouragement since 1832.  It’s undergone some changes and some renovations through the years, and our good friend Dave Cowan is going to bring us up-to-date in just a little while.  But for now, as we begin, I ask that you please share with me in prayer.


Let us pray:

Gracious God, who knows better than any of us the challenges and fears we face in this, our generation  -  the same way as have generations gone before  -  we come as faithful people in our prayers.  We know you know the hurts and fears we face today; and we know that you are with us:  giving strength  -  in heart and soul  -  and guiding us to claim what’s right and live what’s right for Jesus’ sake, and with the light of Christ within us and beside us and before us.  Loving Saviour, help us know you with us now, guiding us in newness, and in the ways of life for all, as you have done in every generation.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.  Hymn #326

1.       O for a thousand tongues to sing

          my great Redeemer's praise,

          the glories of my God and King,

          the triumphs of God's grace.


2.      Jesus! The name that charms our fears,

          that bids our sorrows cease;

          'tis music in the sinner's ears,

          'tis life and health and peace.


3.       He speaks, and listening to his voice,

          new life the dead receive,

         the mournful broken-hearts rejoice,

         the humble poor believe.


4.      Hear him, you deaf; you voiceless ones,

          your tongues again employ;

         you blind, behold your Saviour comes,

         and leap, you lame, for joy!


5.       My gracious Master and my God,

         assist me to proclaim,

         to spread through all the earth abroad

         the honours of your name.


And so, my friends, we’re here again this year at Beaverdams, to celebrate the heritage and history of the faith, and avow the promise of the faith for these our present days, and for all the days to come.


The Friends of Beaverdams are an important part of this living heritage we share, and I would like to invite Dave Cowan to speak to us a bit about their work, about their hopes and their successes, and their plans for the next steps.


Dave Cowan speaks to us.


I first heard of Beaverdams through George Addison, my predecessor at Trinity.  George was an historian, of course.  Me, not so much.  (I don’t have any saddlebags or costume.)  But I’ve had the opportunity to research a bit, and today, I want to connect with the person and the place of Egerton Ryerson  -  father of public education in Ontario, and one of the first preachers here at Beaverdams.


Ryerson was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist tradition in Canada.  Methodism was a breakaway from the mainstream Anglican Church, and from John Strachan and the Family Compact which held sway in Upper Canada.  Ryerson protested their elitism, and advocated successfully and tirelessly for public education.   He based his efforts on his enlightened and successive faith.  His faith is part of the Reformed tradition of The United Church of Canada, of which Trinity is a part.  We are part of a tradition of a living faith, and a progressive expression of that faith.  A Living God wouldn’t have it any other way.  And if we try too hard to hold onto a fixed tradition of a living faith, time and tide will pass us by.  Our lives will be diminished.  God will grieve, but still will love us.  So let’s perceive (from Egerton Ryerson’s own words) the ways that have been changed, and the roads that we have travelled, from his days up to ours.

In my researches, I came across a discourse (by any other name, a sermon) given by Ryerson as a funeral oration.  He had been asked to speak at the funeral of a Mrs. Sanderson (no first name revealed; status only as the spouse of her husband), wife of the Rev. George R. Sanderson, editor of the Christian Guardian (instrument of the Methodist Church in Canada).  Apparently, Ryerson spoke extemporaneously, and was subsequently asked to put his words in writing and for publication.  So Egerton Ryerson, in 1848, as an adherent to his Wesleyan Methodist faith, offered to George Sanderson, the following:


Excerpts from the discourse and the “introductory note”:


My Dear Friend,

I hereby present you with the substance of my discourse on the occasion of the decease of your dear departed wife; not that I suppose it contains anything worthy of publication, beyond the brief personal references, but in compliance with your wishes, and as a tribute of respect to one beloved by all that had the happiness of knowing her.


You will, perhaps, be surprised that I have condensed within so narrow limits a discourse which occupied an hour and a half in its rapid delivery ..


Substance of a Discourse

“The spirits of just men made perfect”  Heb. xii 23


Two things, my brethren, are fearfully certain, and one thing is awfully uncertain, in respect to our future destiny.  It is certain that we shall all die.  The sentence of death is stamped upon our physical constitution; it is written in the decrees of Providence; and it will soon be executed upon every individual in this assembly.  It is also certain that we shall all be judged for our conduct in this life.  It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment.  As certain as there is a moral government  -  as there is a Supreme Being of moral perfection  -  as man has intellectual and moral faculties and a power of volition; so certain is it that he will be hereafter judged according to the deeds done in the body.  Our individual history is written in the book of God’s remembrance; that history records thoughts as well as words, motives as well as actions; and God has appointed a day in which he will judge us out of those things written in his book.  The darkness is as the light to Him; and every secret thing, however perpetrated in the loneliness of retirement or under the mantle of midnight, will be brought into judgment.  But while death and judgment are certain to us all, the time of our death and judgment is awfully uncertain. 


It becomes each of us then to live in a state of daily preparation either for life or for death.  And let it be impressed upon our minds, that the best preparation for death, is the best fitness for life; that the best meetness for entering into the society of heaven, is the best qualification for performing our duties to the society of earth; that when we possess the mind that was in Christ, when “our conversion is in heaven,” and “our life hid with Christ in God,” then we are best adapted to perform every part of our appointed work here and do the will of God on earth as angels do it in heaven.  The spirit of true religion is the spirit of heaven  -  is the reflection of its purity and benevolence; and this life is the apprenticeship of heavenly knowledge and employment.


Ryerson’s discourse reflects the faith tradition of his time.  He speaks from a tradition that would have been embraced here at Beaverdams in 1848, to be sure.  And in the strong tradition of his faith  -  a living faith, a faith evolving  -  their doctrines and their understanding would grow and change in years to come.  It has turned out that that has exactly been the case  -  in the United Church, at least.  And we can be so thankful!


Jim, refer to the first section of Ryerson’s “discourse”  and elaborate on the following notions, to show the evolution of the faith we have come to know:

  • judgment  -  for Wesleyan Methodists, judgment would have been perceptive of God’s wrath; for us in the United Church today, we know the judgment that is God’s in Christ is LOVE

  • moral perfections  -  not faultlessness but rather wholeness

  • this life and the hereafter  -  Jesus comes to us and meets us in this life  -  eternal means our life with one another

  • judged according your deeds done in the body (esp. as diminishment of body versus spirit)  -  Psalm 8 (one of the readings for today) offers a completely different valuation of being human


Please pray with me as we prepare to hear the Bible readings for today.

Let us pray:

Gracious Holy Spirit, surround us and enfold us in your love, and take us with you in our understanding of the word we hear  -  words of insight, recognition and of love embraced by all the faithful through the years.  This we pray in Jesus’; name.  Amen.


Psalm 8 (edit):

          O Lord our Lord,

          how excellent is your name in all the world!

          Out of the mouths of infants and children 

          your majesty is praised above the heavens.

          When I consider your heavens,

          the work of your fingers,

          the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

          who are we who are human

          that you should be mindful of us?

          Mortals, that you should seek us out?

          And yet, you have made us a little lower than the angels;

          you adorn us with glory and honour.

          You have given us dominion over the works of your hands;

          you have put all things into our trust: 

         all sheep and oxen,

         and also the beasts of the field,

         the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,

         whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

         O Lord our Lord,

         how excellent is your name in all the world!


The judgment that is God’s is LOVE.  The life in body is as valued as the life in spirit.  The living Christ lived with us, as sacred friend and fellow being, and taught that our perfection is in wholeness.


Rejoice the Lord is King   Hymn 213

1.       Rejoice the Lord is King!

          Your risen Lord adore!

          Rejoice, give thanks and sing

          and triumph evermore.



          Lift up your heart, lift up your voice:

          rejoice; again I say, rejoice!


2.      Jesus the Saviour reigns,

          the God of truth and love;

          when he had purged our sins,

          he took his seat above.  R


3.       God's kingdom cannot fail;

          Christ rules o'er earth and heaven;

          the keys of death and hell

          are to our Jesus given.  R


4.       Rejoice in glorious hope,

          for Christ, the judge, shall come

          to glorify the saints

          for their eternal home.



          We soon shall hear the archangel's voice;

          the trump of God shall sound, rejoice



In the psalm, we hear about Dominion:  not domination (in the sense that we have heard it advocated so recently), but rather in the sense of stewardship  -  responsibility for nurturing and caring:


          You have given us dominion over the works of your hands;

          you have put all things into our trust ..


That’s what the psalmist says .. to have dominion is to be entrusted with the works of God’s hands .. all the works of God’s hands .. to be entrusted with the lives of all God’s people ..


Mr. Trump, in his words of domination; in his photo with a Bible, has it sorrowfully and offensively wrong!


He has completely missed the point  -  or has no point; he dragged us down; he has perverted the promise and the message of the Gospel and the life-giving commitment of visionaries, the likes of Egerton Ryerson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. ..


We need to hear again the promise of the Gospel!


The first story of Creation and the tenets of the faith embraced by Egerton Ryerson tell us much.



Genesis 1:1-2:4   (King James Version)

The first Story of Creation

1.       In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2        And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God                     moved upon the face of the waters.

3        And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4        And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5        And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were

          the first day.

6        And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7        And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which                   were above the firmament: and it was so.

8       And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9       And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear:                and it was so.

10     And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that

          it was good.

11       And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind,           whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12       And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed                 was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13       And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14       And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be            for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15      And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16      And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the             stars also.

17       And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18      And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that

          it was good.

19      And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20     And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above           the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21      And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly,               after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22     And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply

         in the earth.

23     And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24     And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the          earth after his kind: and it was so.

25      And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon             the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26      And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the                 sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that                     creepeth upon the earth.

27      So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28      And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:              and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth                  upon the earth.

29      And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every               tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30      And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth,                       wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31      And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were               the sixth day.


2        Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2       And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work          which he had made.

3        And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God                created and made.

4       These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created ..


Ministry of Music  -  Church In the Wildwood


Science has undone the biblical story of a Seven-Day Creation as historicity.  It has undone the notion of the earth as centre of the universe.  The sun, as it turns out, is centre.  It has undone the tenet of the Methodist tradition that asserts “the Old and New Testaments are the inspired and infallible Word of God, inerrant in their original manuscripts, superior to any human authority.”  We should keep in mind that Ryerson wrote his discourse for the late Mrs. Sanderson in 1848.  It wasn’t until1859 that the discourse of Charles Darwin, “On the Origin of Species”, was published, and turned the Christian world of Bible upside-down.


But science has not undone the basic truth of faith:

  • that God created

  • that God created out of LOVE, and saw that it was good

The Old and New Testaments are the faithful, knowing, empathetic derivations of believers in their times, and provide a basis for the writings of the faithful yet to come. 


Through the lens of science, we could dismiss the whole first chapter of the Book of Genesis.  We could dismiss the Methodist assessment of the Bible included in the statement of their values .. except for the closing words of that same statement, which concludes by saying:  superior to any human authority and sufficient for all things necessary to salvation.  


Regardless of its value as historicity or science, the witness of the Bible is sufficient for salvation  -  the process to be whole  -  within ourselves, and with each other and our world.  And that’s exactly what the authors of the Bible had in mind, I’m sure.  But the problem that they never could have thought of is the one about a witness FIXED IN TIME, as opposed to a witness OF THE TIME, whose interpretation must evolve and be reformed throughout the ages.  


Paul, the one we know as Apostle and as Saint, wrote his letters to the early Church, to different congregations of the time, and in response to specific and particular problems they were having.   He wrote his letters at a moment in time, with specific purpose and specific hope.  In every letter that he wrote, he was working out his understanding of the Risen Christ and the place of Christ in life.  His letters were a work in progress, and never meant to be the final word.  But the early church embraced them and entrenched them and assigned to them a status of definitive permanency that Paul, himself the author, never had intended.  And he never had the opportunity to revise or update anything he said.  


And so we’re stuck.  We’re stuck with what he said; except for our ability to revise and update our understanding based on the context of our time and on the warrant provided by the Bible text itself.  In our reading of the gospels, we can discern a clear progression of the understanding of the person and the work of Jesus as we read, in order, Mark and Matthew, Luke and John.  Mark was written first; Matthew next; then Luke and Acts, and finally John.  John is the most poetic and complete in its interpretation of Christ Jesus, and leaves us fully with the message and the promise of God’s love.  



When He Cometh  The Hymnary #614

When He cometh, when He cometh

To make up His jewels,

All His jewels, precious jewels,

His loved and His own.



Like the stars of the morning,

His brightness adorning,

They shall shine in their beauty,

Bright gems for His crown.


He will gather, He will gather

The gems for His kingdom;

All the pure ones, all the bright ones,

His loved and His own.    R


Little children, little children,

Who love their Redeemer,

Are the jewels, precious jewels,

His loved and His own.    R


In the Methodist tradition, the sacrament of Baptism frees us from the burden and the death that is the consequence of sin.  In his lifetime, Egerton Ryerson would have heard the minister pray these words in the context of a service of infant baptism:  


Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel, thy people, through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy holy baptism, and has set apart water for this Holy Sacrament; and who has condescended to enter into gracious covenant with man, wherein thou hast included children as partakers of its benefits, declaring that, “of such is the kingdom of heaven”; we beseech thee for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt look upon this child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost; that he, having been delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church, and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in love, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life; there to reign with thee, world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

O merciful God, grant that the old Adam in this child may so be buried, that the new man may be raised up in him.  Amen.

Grant that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him.  Amen.

Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh.  Amen.

Grant that whosoever is dedicated to thee by our office and Ministry, may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded through thy mercy, O blessed Lord God, who dost live and govern all things, world without end.  Amen.


That’s what Egerton Ryerson would have heard in his lifetime.

The words reflect the tenets of his faith that informed his generation.

But that’s not what we as faithful people hear today.  

We don’t hear about the onslaughts of the devil.

We don’t diminish the value of the body, of the flesh, of human being.

Today we recognize the unwavering and unending love of God.  Today we take the same texts of the “Infallible Word of God” and interpret them to say:


Baptism celebrates the loving relationship between God and our children (and ourselves) which has existed from the very beginning;


Baptism constitutes a radical welcome into the family and household of faith  -  a household with commitments to our neighbours everywhere;


Baptism is the sole rite of initiation into the Church  -  the hands and heart of Christ for the healing of the world.


The Gospel reading for today speaks to us of Baptism.  It comes from the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew, and it follows the appearance of the resurrected Christ.  This is what we hear:


Matthew 28:16-20  (King James Version)

Baptizing the nations

16     Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17      And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18      And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19      Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of  

           the Holy Ghost:

20     Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto               the end of the world. Amen.


“Baptizing them”:  it’s a corollary; a holy prayer and holy hope; having nothing at all to do with sinfulness or loss, or the condemnation of God’s judgment.  How could it have?   God’s judgment is love.  God’s judgment comes to us a Saviour and a Son, who takes the burden of our sins and losses and misgivings on himself and takes them with him to the Cross, that they might die.  


Go ye therefore [Jesus says], and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, that they may love the Lord their God, and love each other as themselves, and change this world of hate and hurt and injury into one that cares for one another and respects, and brings new life to every creature and your world.


This is the admonition of the Christ of God, and gospel.


Lord, You Give the Great Commission#512

1        Lord, you give the great commission:

          'Heal the sick and preach the word.'

          Lest the church neglect its mission,

          and the gospel go unheard,

          help us witness to your purpose

          with renewed integrity;

          with the Spirit's gifts empow'r us

          for the work of ministry.


2        Lord, you call us to your service:

         'In my name baptize and teach.'

          That the world may trust your promise,

          life abundant meant for each,

          give us all new fervour, draw us

          closer in community;

          with the Spirit's gifts empow'r us

          for the work of ministry.


5        Lord, you bless with words assuring:

          'I am with you to the end.'

          Faith and hope and love restoring,

          may we serve as you intend,

          and, amid the cares that claim us,

          hold in mind eternity;

         with the Spirit's gifts empow'r us

         for the work of ministry.


The gospel speaks to us of our Creation  -  as all God’s people; sons and daughters of the breath of life.


It speaks to us God’s healing, and a judgment that is love.  The generations who tell us of God’s fury and God’s wrath have been supplanted by the faithful who have known God’s love and lived God’s love and embraced God’s love in life with one another  -  each created just a little lower than the angels.


It speaks to us the wonder and the promise that is ours as we come together as family and friends  -  embracing life and love for one another, and for all Creation.


It is the life to which we’re called  -  the life that gives us life  -  the life that’s built upon the lives of all the faithful who have gone before; who have entrusted to this present generation their church and hopes and dreams.

It is the place and faith we celebrate today, and we say Thanks be to God!


Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. #333

1.       Love divine, all loves excelling, 

          joy of heaven to earth come down,

          fix in us thy humble dwelling,

          all thy faithful mercies crown.

          Jesus, thou art all compassion,

          pure, unbounded love thou art;

          visit us with thy salvation,

          enter every trembling heart.


2.       Come, almighty to deliver;

          let us all thy grace receive;

          suddenly return, and never,

          nevermore thy temples leave.

          Thee we would be always blessing,

          serve thee as thy hosts above,

          pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,

          glory in thy perfect love.


3.       Finish, then, thy new creation;

          pure and spotless let us be;

          let us see thy great salvation

          perfectly restored in thee,

          changed from glory into glory,

          till in heaven we take our place,

          till we cast our crowns before thee,

          lost in wonder, love, and praise.


Commissioning and Benediction:

(from a placard hanging just inside the front doors at Beaverdams Church)


Rules for Today:

Do nothing that you would not like to be doing when Jesus comes.

Go to no place where you would not like to be found when Jesus comes.

Say nothing that you would not like to be saying when Jesus comes.


And may the grace of Christ attend us,

and the love of God surround us, 

and the Holy Spirit keep us,

this day, and forevermore.



Postlude  -  Down to the River

Pastoral  Prayer  


God of life and love, of laughter and of heartache and of tears.  We come to you today as family  -  in heart at least, and Spirit, though not together as ourselves in all one place.  But we come as ones whose hopes and dreams are shared, and whose cares and protests have been shaped by the horrors that confront us and the prayers we pray in common to respond.


We thank you for the Christian faith that inspires and informs us; that teaches us what’s right and what is wrong; that gives guidance to our quest to do the right.  O God of healing and of concord and of peace, who shares with us our agonies and grief, we pray we can embrace the life and life commandments of the One we know as Saviour and as Friend, who lived that we might live, and live for all your promise that is life in its abundance.  We pray that we might live out well the message of the faithful gone before us; the faithful who once worshipped here at Beaverdams, who professed salvation in their witness and their love for Jesus, and who committed then to live their love in ways of justice and of healing.  Today, it seems, their lives and ours, and our witness as the faithful, are more important than ever.  For those who live with fear and with injustice, we must say, in Jesus’ name, “No more!”  For authority, and those authorities, whose weight presses on the necks of the innocent, and of the ones who have no voice or power of their own, we must say, in Jesus’ name, “No more!”  To the ignorance and arrogance that pervades the acts and rhetoric of those who treat others as timid and submissive and compliant, grant us righteous heart and strength to stand up in their face in Jesus’ name, and say, “No more!”; to say their day is done, and that care and understanding and compassion are the forces that deny them and that take hold of days that make a better way.  


“This is the day the Lord has made,” the Bible tells us.  Let it be the day we seize our role as co-creators, and join with those who risk to make a better world  -  a world that honours life; that is inclusive; that denies the way to forces that are ignorance and hatred and self-serving, and declares a world made new and made for all, in Jesus’ name.

Gracious God, we pray for forces that are loving and life-giving, for life made new, and peace, in Jesus’ name.

And together, and in Spirit, on this day of ageless faith, we say, “Amen!”

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