Sunday Guided Tour - Fifth Sunday of Easter, Christian Family Sunday  (Mother's Day) - May 10, 2020.

 

Here is the link to the You-Tube worship service 

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

 

 https://youtu.be/e_DaeSeog5E

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

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Mother’s Day!  As a sign for this day, and one of hope for the days to come, you can see we have fresh flowers on the Communion Table.   As Carol Dueck said in a recent email, we can’t give them out to all the moms, but we can send hugs.  So in all the blossoms you might savour around you, we hope you can feel a loving and life-giving hug in each one.

 

Please join with me as we begin today’s service with prayer:

Loving God, this is a day of celebration  -  celebration of family and life; 

of friendships through the years and ones just recently discovered; 

celebration of mothers  -  some well-versed and wise and understanding,

and others gaining wisdom day-by-day and on-the-go; 

and all of us together now in Spirit, with you among us and within us, soul and joy of hope.  Dear God, give us strength in compassion and in promise, and guide your world to serve the cause that holds life dear.  This we pray as children of your love, as sisters and brothers of the Living Christ.  Amen.

 

God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness    (Walter Farquharson Hymn #260)

God who gives to life its goodness,

God creator of all joy,

God who gives to us our freedom,

God who blesses tool  and toy:

teach us now to laugh and praise you,

deep within  your praises sing,

till the whole Creation dances

for the goodness of its King.

 

God who fills the earth with beauty,

God who binds each friend to friend,

God who names us co-creators

God who wills that chaos end:

grant us now creative spirits,

minds responsive to your mind,

hearts and wills your rule extending

all our acts by Love refined.

 

For those of us in the western tradition, today, of course, is Mother’s Day.  In the United Church, we have come also to call it Christian Family Sunday.  I’m sure there are all kinds of reasons for deciding on this particular designation, but it’s not by accident that we conflate Mother’s Day with Christian Family.  To a very real extent, each is an ideal.  “Mother” means a whole lot of different things to different people.  So does the ideal of “family” and “Christian Family”.  But for everyone, there is an ideal and a reality for each.  

 

A few years ago, I ignored what the lectionary had assigned as the readings for Mother’s Day Sunday.  I chose my own.   I chose the readings which I thought better fit the theme of Mother’s Day and Christian Family Sunday.   One was from the Book of Romans, where Paul assures us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The gospel reading I chose back then was the one about Jesus in the Temple, when his parents left Jerusalem without him and then were worried sick; the one where his mother, Mary, said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so?  Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously”; the one where the gospel writer tells us, “and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”  What better Mother’s Day reading could there be?   

 

The other reading that I chose back then was one provided by a woman named Jo Ann Merrill, herself a mother, entitled Family Sunday Thoughts.  We will hear that one again today a little later.

 

For this Mother’s Day and Christian Family Sunday, I have decided we will hear the readings for today just as the lectionary gives them.  Doing so will allow us to consider how they might speak to us of Mother’s Day and Family.  We’ll have a chance to just be silent, and reflect on how what we might call the Word of God can make a difference in our lives.  And we can know that justification for at least trying to do this comes from the Book of 2nd Timothy 3:16 that says:  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction ..  

    

Please join with me in our prayer for illumination.  Let us pray:

Gracious Holy Spirit, create new soul and vision through the words we hear, that our ways might be transformed in answer to your prayer.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

The first reading that is ours to hear today comes from the Book of Acts 

(Acts 7:51-60).  It records the martyrdom of Stephen.  I am not going to read the passage as it is.  It’s posted on the website.  I invite you, though, to read it on your own, and appreciate how deeply Stephen speaks his truth to power, on pain of death.  The likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., and all who risk and give their lives for the sake of others, take their place along with Stephen.  We might even think today of our front-line health-care workers and essential servants, and give our thanks.  We might even go so far as to think of those mothers, who gladly would change places, or would have, with their suffering children.    

 

After the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we have a reading from the Book of Psalms.  It seems to me the reading reveals a common interest and a promise of the faith; a hope and prayer and longing that seem so real today.  Hear what the psalmist has to say:

 

[Rick]

Reading from the Book of Psalms:  Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16.  (New Revised Standard Version)

 

My times are in your hand

1    In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
      do not let me ever be put to shame;
      in your righteousness deliver me.
2    Incline your ear to me;
      rescue me speedily.
     Be a rock of refuge for me,
      a strong fortress to save me.

3    You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
      for your name’s sake, lead me and guide me,
4    take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
      for you are my refuge.
5    Into your hand I commit my spirit;
      you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

15   My times are in your hand;
      deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16  Let your face shine upon your servant;
     save me in your steadfast love.

 

Sung Response:       MV#92

     Like a rock, like a rock, God is under our feet.

      Like the starry night sky God is over our head.

     Like the sun on the horizon God is ever before.

     Like the river runs to ocean,

      our home is in God evermore.

 

“Let your face shine upon your servant,” says the psalmist, “save me in your steadfast love.”  The promise and assurance of the psalmist is the steadfast love of God: a promise that is ours  -  a Saviour and a Son, and the Light of Life among us raised from death.

 

The next reading for this Sunday is, again, a reading from 1st Peter.  (We have talked about 1st Peter a little bit before.)  In today’s passage, 1st Peter argues the identity and place of Jesus as the Christ of God.  The letter argues the identity and place of the community of faith we know as Christian, the followers of Christ.  1st Peter argues in the way of the philosophers and Gentiles of the day.  The reading is 1st Peter 2:2-10.  It’s posted on the website with all the other readings for today.  I have included verse 1 in what you will read because it sets the context.   I invite you to read the passage, and keep an eye on the footnotes that are recorded.  1st Peter incorporates quotations from Isaiah, chapter 8, Isaiah, chapter 28 and Psalm 118.  In much the same way that every Christian tradition today chooses so-called proof texts from the Bible to support their argument, so does 1st Peter.   So I invite you to read the passage with an eye to how 1st Peter puts the case together, and to appreciate how his proof texts are marshalled to convince us.  Please don’t be shy.  I hope you have some fun.

 

And finally, today, we have the reading from the gospel-writer John.  Once again, as last week, John enlists the device of an “I AM” statement to convey his experience of the one who has saved him  -  the Holy One of God .. his Saviour and Messiah and best friend.  “Lord, we do not know where you are going,” says Christ’s disciple, Thomas, “How can we know the way?”

And Jesus answers him, “I AM .. I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  It is another of the I AM statements recorded in John’s gospel, and by John alone. 

 

Hear what the gospel writer has to tell us:

 

John 14:1-14  (New King James Version)

I am the way, the truth, and the life

   “Let not your heart be troubled [says Jesus]; you believe in God, believe also in me.

2    In my Father’s house are           many [a]mansions; if it were not so, [b]I would have told you. I go to prepare a         place for you.  

3    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you       may be also.

4    And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”

6    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

7    “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; and from now on you know him and have seen       him.”

8.  Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9    Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip?  Those who have               seen me have seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the       Father, and the Father in me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the                 Father who dwells in me does the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else             believe me for the sake of the works themselves.

12  “Most assuredly, I say to you, those who believe in me, the works that I do they will do also; and greater works       than these they will do, because I go to my Father. 13 And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the       Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you [c]ask anything in my name, I will do it.

 

Ministry of Music  -  Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

There are those who would say to us that what Jesus (what John in Jesus) is telling us is that no one is accepted and received by God unless they first profess the Risen Christ as Lord and Saviour.  Theirs is an interpretation of exclusion.  “No one comes to the Father except through me,” says Jesus.  But what Jesus is saying is an act, not of exclusion, but of love.  What he tells us is an affirmation of his life and of his sacrifice.  Christ gives his life that we might live.  The message of the Christian faith is Emmanuel, God with us.  God in Christ has come to us, not to die for us, but to love us; to dare proclaim the strength of truth to power; and assure us of the certain power love and life have absolutely over hate and death.  “No one comes to the Father except though me,” says Jesus.  And by this he means that it is through him, and him alone, we know a God who loves us and who heals us, who cares for us and claims us, who would die for us to save us.  It is through Christ, and Christ alone, that we can know such a God as this.  I mean, what other faith tradition dares proclaim a God who loves us so much as to die for us?!  No one can see that God except through Jesus.  “No one comes to that God, to the Father, except through me,” says Jesus.  “We preach Christ crucified,” says Paul, “a folly to the Gentiles.”  It’s the heartache and the promise of the faith.  

 

And the truth, the promise of the Gospel, always is for life and love, and never death or hatred or exclusion. 

 

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.  Hymn #344

This Mother’s Day, we hear a composition that’s been written by a mother, Jo Ann Merrill.  We have heard it read at Trinity before.  It maybe speaks a stereotype of “mother” that, for some, is more ideal than real, or even unappealing.  But in the end, it speaks of love.  In the end, it speaks the promise and assurance of the God of love; the God of love who loves us fully and completely and without condition.  The God of love who gives his life so we could be freed to live!  It’s a daunting realization; but it’s transforming when we can.

 

Here’s what Jo Ann Merrill writes:

 

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper . not a home maker. 

If I have time for waxing, polishing and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn of cleanliness, not godliness. 

Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh. 

Love smiles at the fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.

Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk. 

Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys. 

Love is present through the trials.

Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive. 

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood. 

Love is the key that opens salvation’s message to a child’s heart. 

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.  Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child.  As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

 

The message that is Mother’s Day is Gospel.  The message that is Mother’s Day is love.  And in the hope and promise of our faith, we say, “Thanks be to God!”

 

Commissioning and Benediction:

     Oh Lord, open the windows of our mind

     and fill us full of light.

     Open wide the door of our heart

     that you may come in and abide with us forever.

     Oh Lord, shine upon our minds as the sun shines upon the trees;

     and as they lift up their branches to your light

     so may we lift up our hearts to your love.

     May the love of the Lord Jesus

     draw you closer to himself and to one another.

     May the power of the Lord Jesus

     make you better able to serve him day by day.

     May the joy of the Lord Jesus

     ever fill your heart.

     And may the blessing of God  -  the Father, Son and Holy Spirit  -

     abide with you forever.  Amen.

 

Would You Bless Our Homes and Families. Hymn #556

Bible Readings for May 10th:

 

Acts 7:51-60.  International Version)

The martyrdom of Stephen

51   “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears have still not been transformed. You are just like your                       ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

52  Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming       of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered him

53    - you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

54  When the religious leaders heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

55   But Stephen, full of      the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the       right hand of God.

56  “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57   At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out       of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named       Saul.

59  While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and       cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  When he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

 

Reading from the Book of Psalms:  Psalm 31: 1-5, 15-16.  (New Revised Standard Version)

My times are in your hand

1       In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
         do not let me ever be put to shame;
         in your righteousness deliver me.
2       Incline your ear to me;
         rescue me speedily.
         Be a rock of refuge for me,
         a strong fortress to save me.

3       You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
         for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4       take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
         for you are my refuge.
5       Into your hand I commit my spirit;
         you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

15      My times are in your hand;
         deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16      Let your face shine upon your servant;
         save me in your steadfast love.

 

Sung Response:    MV#92

 

      Like a rock, like a rock, God is under our feet.

      Like the starry night sky God is over our head.

      Like the sun on the horizon God is ever before.

      Like the river runs to ocean,

      our home is in God evermore.

 

1 Peter 2:2-10   (New International Version)

Peter’s view of the Christian community

2.   Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.] 2 Like                     newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

3    now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4    As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—

5    you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual           sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6    For in Scripture it says:

      “See, I lay a stone in Zion,
      a chosen and precious cornerstone,
      and the one who trusts in him
      will never be put to shame.”[b]

7    Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe,

      “The stone the builders rejected
      has become the cornerstone,”[c]

8    and, "A stone that causes people to stumble
      and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]

      They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare         the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people,                but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

Footnotes

  1. [a] 1 Peter 2:5 Or into a temple of the Spirit

  2. [b] 1 Peter 2:6 Isaiah 28:16

  3. [c] 1 Peter 2:7 Psalm 118:22

  4. [d] 1 Peter 2:8 Isaiah 8:14

 

John 14:1-14   (New King James Version)

I am the way, the truth, and the life

      “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.

2    In my Father’s house are many [a]mansions; if it were not so, [b]I would have told you. I go to prepare a place         for you.  

3    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you       may be also.

4    And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”

6    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

7    “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; and from now on you know him and have seen         him.”

8    Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9    Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me       has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak       on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does the works.

11   Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the sake of the works                         themselves.

12   “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works             than these he will do, because I go to my Father.

13   And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14   If you [c] ask anything in my name, I will do it.

 

Footnotes

  1. [a] John 14:2 Lit.* dwellings

  2. [b] John 14:2 NU** would I have told you that I go or I would have told

       you; for I go

  1. [c] John 14:14 NU** ask me

 

*Lit.:  “literally”

**NU:  scholarly variations from the traditional text

Morning Prayers  for  May 10, 2020

Loving God, we thank you for the wonder of your love: a love that strengthens us and holds us; a love who walks with us the valley of the shadow and never leaves us or forsakes us; a love who is a Saviour and a Son, a friend and dear companion, raised to life within our own so we can live.  We pray today we all feel part of you and so a part of one another  -  close in soul and heart and, in our homes, at home in you, together.  We pray in Jesus’ name.

 

We pray today for families broken up or under stress imposed by plague and regulation, and demands of work.  We pray for those who have no family to speak of, that we can see them as your children and, so, as kin to us.  We pray for those whose lives have been upended by loss of work and loss of hope and loss of ones so dearly loved and missed.  Help us all to take our time and get a grip, and commit to every way we can to restoration and the desperate need for understanding and for healing and compassion in the weeks and months ahead.  Help us to be our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s, and to keep the sacred trust of caring for our fellow human beings and your world. 

 

We pray today for mothers whose lives we know or hardly know at all; for good ones and for ones who would be if they could but don’t know how, or can’t; for ones who laugh and ones who cry; for ones whose children are a precious memory in their secret heart and ones who are a precious memory to their children.  Gracious Saviour, help us know and understand the best way that we can, and live the Spirit that is life and love made whole .. in Jesus’ name.

 

And we pray today, in this unprecedented crisis, for leadership and leaders, that wisdom and a common cause might guide them; that the recognition that we all depend on one another might dawn on them; that they might know the way things are, or were, is not the way things have to be, and that they can make decisions for the better, and a better world.

 

Gracious Saviour, hear our prayers; and hear our prayers for others.  Gracious Saviour, hear our prayers for peace; and all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Trinity United Church Thorold 

905-227-4644  /  tuc@vaxxine.ca