Trinity United Church
August 15, 2021
“Connection not Perfection”
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Rev David: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Welcome to Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam, BC.
We are so grateful that you have chosen to spend some time with us, we are glad you are here.
A gentle reminder that we are experimenting on a weekly basis with our social media and the technology, and some things will work better than others. So we ask for your patience and generosity of spirit as we forge a new way forward together. We do ask that if something technical goes wrong please let the leader and the hosts work it out. It is not helpful for people to turn on their own mics and start talking, it really only adds to the confusion.
Acknowledgement of Territory
For tens of thousands of years, the lands on which we live, work and worship, have been occupied by indigenous peoples.Much of what we know as the North West Coast of North America was occupied by the Coast Salish Peoples. The territory where Trinity United Church of Port Coquitlam resides is the unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nations. Our acknowledgement of unceded traditional territory is a first step in reconciliation between settler cultures and indigenous peoples and the decolonization of western systems that continue to oppress and exploit indigenous peoples and land. The work of reconciliation is daunting. The work of reconciliation will not be ours to complete, but neither is it ours to abandon.
We remember these words from the Apostle Paul, “[The gift of a New Creation] is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting [our] trespasses against [us] and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.
Prelude/ Lighting of the Christ Candle
Call to Worship
Give thanks to the Lord with your whole heart!
Great are the works of the Lord!
Full of honour and majesty is God’s work;
God’s righteousness endures forever!
God gains renown with wonderful deeds;
God is gracious and merciful!
God provides and has shown his people the power of his works;
God’s works are faithful and just!
God’s precepts are trustworthy!
God sends redemption to the people
Holy and awesome is God’s name!
Come, let us praise God’s name!
Prayer of Approach
We gather to give thanks.
The path of wisdom begins in wonder and awe.
In this time of worship,
instill in us a sense
of your presence among us. Amen.
Hymn “Spirit of the Living God” VU 271
Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Steadfast and loving God,
you keep your promises
one generation to the next.
We are foolish
and fail to understand your will.
We turn away from your wisdom.
We live carelessly,
squandering the abundance you bequeath to us.
We break your covenant,
longing for what is not meant for us.
We choose our own ways:
nurturing alienation rather than compassion,
favouring acquisitiveness over empathy,
encouraging estrangement instead of companionship.
Purge our hearts
and fill us with your Spirit.
Clear the clutter from our minds
that we might discern what is right.
Steady our feet
that we may walk in your ways.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray. Amen.
God is gracious and merciful.
God’s love is steadfast and constant.
By the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We are forgiven, reconciled, and made new.
Thanks be to God!
WE HEAR THE WORD
Retelling Our Ancient Story
King David died. Bathsheba’s second son, Solomon became the new King. King Solomon prayed and worshiped God at Gibeon. And God appeared to Solomon.
“Ask for what you want,” God said to the young King Solomon.
And King Solomon answered:
“You showed so much steadfast love to my Father King David because he walked before you in faithfulness and uprightness in heart. You kept him for his great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And you have made me king in his place, even though I am just a little child! I don’t know what I’m doing! And here I am before all your people, so many they cannot be counted all around me! Give me an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern what is good and what is evil.”
God was very happy to hear King Solomon’s request. God replied,
“Because you have asked this, and not for long life, or riches, or for the death of your enemies, But because you have asked for wisdom, I will do as you have asked. I give you a wise and discerning mind. And I will also give you riches and long life, even though you haven’t asked for those. Walk in my ways. Keep my commandments as your father walked in my ways, and I will lengthen your life.”
That is the story of how Solomon, David’s son, became King of Israel.
Psalm 111 VU 833
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
I will thank you, God, with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in their assembly.
Great are your works, O God,
studied by all who delight in them.
Honour and majesty are your work;
your righteousness endures forever.
You have won renown for your wonders;
you are gracious and full of compassion.
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
You give food to those who fear you;
you keep your covenant always in mind.
You have shown your power in action,
giving your people the heritage of nations.
The works of your hands are faithful and just;
all your precepts trustworthy.
They stand fast forever and ever;
grounded in justice and truth.
You sent redemption to your people;
you decreed your covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is your name.
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom;
those who practise it have good understanding.
May your praise endure forever.
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
Reading Ephesians 5:15-20 15
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the witness of the early church. Thanks be to God!
Hymn: “Long before My Journey Starts” MV 63
Holy One, teach us how to live.
Teach us to seek wisdom,
that our hearts may sing,
giving thanks at all times
for everything in the name of your Son.
With the story of Solomon asking for the gift of being able to discern what is right and what is wrong for the people of Israel, we enter into a season of what biblical scholars call Wisdom Literature, or the Wisdom Tradition. We will be hearing a lot in the next several weeks from Solomon, Proverbs, and the book of Job. It is my educated opinion that most of Paul’s letter are best understood in the light of the Wisdom literature.
There are two wisdom traditions in Scripture and they are interwoven. One "wisdom tradition" features pithy short sayings, proverbs, and give us instructions on how to live a holy life. If you do as I say, you will be called wise and live a good life. It presumes that good things happen to people who do the right thing. In the later Christian tradition we will often observe that this is a form of "works righteousness," if we do the right thing we will "earn" God's blessing.
The problem that the first wisdom tradition runs in to, is that sometimes, bad things happen to good people. We can do all the right things, and chaos can still ensue. The whole book of Job, which we will explore this fall, is about a righteous man upon whom all misery falls.
The second wisdom tradition is more difficult to follow and discern. The Second wisdom tradition is the one that begins in a sense of wonder and awe in the works of God. The second wisdom tradition wants us to foster the ability to feel God's presence. When we really feel God's presence it makes it easier to make the right decisions, and harder to make the wrong ones.
One of the obstacles of this second tradition is that God's presence is always a gift. We can do everything we can to feel God's presence, but God will only show up on God's time and in God's way. C.S. Lewis would articulate that God is not a tamed lion.
So the purpose of the second wisdom tradition is really to teach us to be receptive when God is present. God may be present, but if we aren't paying attention, we'll miss it. Hopefully, our response to God's presence is gratitude. Another name for this second wisdom tradition, and I don't use it too often because some of you start to twitch and throw fits because you think its a dirty word... but the other name for this second wisdom tradition is mysticism. Mysticism is the belief and practice that we can experience the presence of God and that experience of God grows our capacities, making the impossible, possible.
I wonder what it might mean to "sing and make melody to the Lord in your hearts"?
Ephesians 5:15 "Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise," Paul writes, "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts..."
Paul articulates that there is a relationship between singing and making melody to the Lord in our hearts, and being wise...
This singing of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts..." Paul is reminding the Ephesians of their experience of the Living Resurrected Christ among them... God's presence among them.
I firmly believe that Paul is deeply dependent on the second wisdom tradition. Paul is constantly motivated by his experience of the Living Christ on the Road to Damascus. He is constantly reminding his followers of their experience of the Living Christ among themselves.
It is that experience that equips Paul and his followers to do whatever it is they need to do, no matter how impossible it seems.
When we live from that experience of God among us, it makes all kinds of impossible things possible.
If we keep the celebration of God's presence in our hearts, it will make even reconciliation, if not easy, at least easier.
God is with us in confession.
God is with us in contrition.
God is with us in apologizing.
God is with us in making amends and helping one another to heal.
I believe every step of reconciliation becomes easier if we hold the celebration of God's presence in our hearts.... "singing and making melody to the Lord in our hearts."
So what makes your heart sing?
Where have you experienced the Living Christ?
How has God made God's presence known to you?
Hold this or these experiences close as we continue to hear about and do the ongoing work of reconciliation.
May our hearts sing;
May we be filled with the Spirit;
May we learn wisdom;
And may we give thanks. Amen.
Offering Your offering: your financial gifts, your gifts of time and skill are what make our ministry possible. If you are not already on Pre-Authorized Remittance, we invite you to participate in our ministry by making a financial gift, either by sending a cheque to the church office, or by going to our website and clicking on the donate now button.
Faithful, Loving God.
Receive these gifts
and make of them more than we can ask or image.
May they reveal you at work in the world.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
Faithful and loving God,
you are always and forever mindful
of the promises you have made your children;
you invite us to ask for what we want of you.
You also expect us to ask with wisdom
and to walk in your ways.
And so we pray for your world.
We give thanks for the goodness of the world you created
and in which you have placed us.
We are grateful for the abundance and diversity
of your good creation.
We give thanks for family, and community,
people who give to us a sense
of connection and meaning.
We thank you for technology
that allows us to remain connected while at a distance,
and for the many people
who learn, work on and maintain that technology.
We thank you for this community of faith, for music, story, scripture
and prayer shared among friends.
We pray for your world.
We pray for those fighting climate fires across North America.
We pray for all who have lost homes, community, and livelihood to
climate disasters this season.
We pray for indigenous communities
without water, grieving profound loss,
oppressed by ongoing colonial practices.
We pray for Missing and Murdered
indigenous women and girls.
We pray for the survivors of residential schools.
We pray that our leaders be moved
by a spirit for true reconciliation,
people to people, nation to nation.
We pray for our own membership
who are lonely, grieving, awaiting medical procedures…
In all things for which we pray,
we ask your will be done.
And now we turn to you as a child turns to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort as we pray a paraphrase of the disciples’ prayer…
A Paraphrase of The Disciples’ Prayer VU 916
Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
the hallowing of your name
echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by people of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power
that is love, now and for ever. Amen.
WE GO FORTH
Hymn “All Praise to Thee” VU 327
Commissioning and Benediction I invite you to turn on your videos and hold your hands out in a sign of blessing…