August 16, 2020 SUNDAY GATHERING..presented by Robert Nicolson
In 2015, Robert graduated from St. Stephens College in Edmonton as a licensed lay worship leader and Trinity has been blessed with his worship leadership ever since. The last step in this process is a final interview in September, and then Robert's temporary license becomes permanent. Adding to his studies, every year Robert participates in summer courses, usually ones offered through the Vancouver School of Theology.
Your participation with us today is truly a blessing.
Call to Worship
The life of Christians and the Christian community is about renewal and transformation of our hearts, our lives, and our world, through the presence and guidance of Jesus Christ. Let us then turn to Jesus and continue that journey as we join together in worship and in prayer.
Frances Flook, Emo/Devlin P.C., Emo, Ont.
Acknowledgement of Territory
We have come a long way in the work of reconciliation, but there is still a long road ahead.
As we prepare for worship, we acknowledge that the land on which our church and community is built is the unceded land of the Kwayquitlum Coast Salish people. May we work to build and deepen right relationship of thanksgiving and hope for the future. May God bless all with love. Amen
Holy God, here we are, ready to celebrate this day!
Open our minds to possibility.
Open our hearts to love freely.
Open our hands to each other.
Work through us, we pray. Amen
Jamie Miller, 1st U.C., Dryden, Ont.
The Lectionary for today provides four readings. Following each I have added a brief comment and referenced one of the suggested hymns.
First Reading: Genesis 45:1-15(NRSV)
Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
The heart of this reading lies in Joseph’s acknowledging that it was God who made sure that Joseph was in Egypt and in position to make ready for the coming famine. Although the brothers had evil intentions selling him into slavery, with God’s help things got turned around. They all played a part in the eventual realization of the promise to Abraham for a “land of milk and honey” for the Israelites in the future.
Suggested Hymn: VU 606 “In Christ There Is No East of West”
Second Reading: Psalm 133 (NRSV)
The Blessedness of Unity
A Song of Ascents.
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
When a community comes together like a family, or clan, it is worth celebrating—especially when they meet for communal worship. At its best, the church is a diverse community bound together in Christ. As such, it too can experience such a sense of harmonious unity. (The Jewish-Gentile division has been more or less settled, but there are many other sources of division today.)
Suggested Hymn: VU 380 “She Comes Sailing on the Wind”
Third Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 (NRSV)
Israel’s Rejection Is Not Final
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
. . . for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
Salvation is not limited to any particular group. Jews have sinned under the law and Gentiles have sinned apart from the law, but it is through faithfulness rather than obedience that we obtain righteousness before God.
Suggested Hymn: VU 679 “Let There Be Light”
1 Let there be light,
let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather,
let them be face to face;
2 open our lips
open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord
opening into grace;
3 perish the sword,
perish the angry judgement,
perish the bombs and hunger,
perish the fight for gain;
4 hallow our love,
hallow the deaths of martyrs,
hallow their holy freedom,
hallowed be your name;
5 your kingdom come,
your spirit turn to language,
your people speak together,
your spirit never fade;
6 let there be light;
open our hearts to wonder,
perish the way of terror,
hallow the world God made.
Fourth Reading: Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28 (NRSV)
Things That Defile
Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
In Matthew’s gospel he makes clear that Jesus’s initial mission was to the people of Israel—people who obey all the rules about food laid down in the law. But here we see there may be exceptions. This opens the door for later expansion of the mission to the rest of the population.
Suggested Hymn: MV 79 “Spirit, Open My Heart”
Minute for Mission: August 16
In Jamaica, the Larry Chang Centre provides housing, health supports, access to education and skills training, and help with obtaining documentation and ID to LGBTQIA and Two-Spirit young adults who would otherwise be homeless.
Prayers of the People:
In the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle of the World Council of Churches this week we pray for the peoples of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In our own Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada we are praying for those in our General Council Office, our Moderator, General Secretary, and Executive.
And in our own Trinity family, we pray for Rev. David at home recovering from emergency appendectomy surger.
Let us pray:
You challenge us, Living God.
You challenge us to understand the world around us, to make sense of this global pandemic.
You challenge us to understand the significance of local events, to find the values at the core of this new form of worship.
You challenge us to understand our neighbourhood, to understand the needs of those who lack food and a support system.
You challenge us, Living God.
You challenge us to understand the needs of the suffering.
As we think of family members, church family members, and friends who are in hospital, and those who are under the dark cloud of depression, we feel your challenge and search for a response. In silence, we bring them to mind.
(time of silent reflection).
And you challenge us to remember those who have been bereaved: those for whom loss is new and raw, and those for whom the nagging emptiness of bereavement continues to be felt. In silence, we bring those we know to mind and we bring to mind those who stand with them.
(time of silent reflection).
You challenge us, Living God.
You challenge us to consider the essential strength of our Christian values and beliefs.
You challenge us to consider the meaning of our church membership.
We pray for Reverend Cathcart and those who share the leadership of this church as they search for Christian relevance and appropriate mission in an essentially non-Christian society.
And we are aware of the challenges faced by the Mission and Service fund in its work caring for those whose names and backgrounds we will never know.
And you challenge each one of us, Living God.
You challenge us to express the joy that bubbles up from within us.
You challenge us to express the anger we keep below the surface.
You challenge us to face the doubts we have about our self-worth.
You challenge us to be open to new friendships.
You challenge us to use the talents that we know are hidden deep within us.
You challenge us to deal with guilt that disturbs us and holds us back.
You challenge us to be upfront about the reluctance to change that dulls our relationships.
Loving, personal God, you challenge us,
and we ask, “How will I respond to the challenge?”
Pastoral Prayers to Share (adapted)
We continue in pray with words Jesus gave to all of his disciples, knowing that you are our Mother, and you are
Our Father . . . VU 921
And may God who brought us into being
to care for creation and one another
bless us as we leave:
May we be blessed in the air we breathe,
the relationships we nurture,
and the acts through which love is shared,
that God’s blessing, light and love
will be known by all.
Go in joy,
blessed to be a blessing.
Bob Rootan, Peterborough, Ont.