Trinity United Church
December 13, 2020
“Connection not Perfection”
Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work bon the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship:
Lighting of the Advent Wreath: CLICK HERE for video.
“What does it Look Like?”*
It is the second Sunday of Advent…
…Peace is the theme of this day.
What does peace look like?
Peace looks like…
…walking their paths…
What does peace feel like?
That’s not easy …
…justice rolling down from God’s holy mountain.
What is it like to live in peace?
*Written by John Moses.
Found in Gathering A/C/E 2020/21 (Year B), p68-70.
Used with permission
Mary and Joseph, where are you going? Can we go, too?
We are walking to Bethlehem.
We have been asked to be earthly parents to God’s child.
This will be the hardest thing we have ever done.
It is scary. It has been heard to believe.
Some of our family and friends still don’t believe us.
But that’s okay.
What an amazing, joyful opportunity we have.
We get to be the first to welcome God’s son to the world.
We get to love him and care for him.
Yes, please come with us and help us welcome our son.
Thank you, Mary and Joseph, for your faith and your gift of joy. We will join you on this Advent adventure.*
*Written by Susan Lukey.
Found in Gathering A/C/E 2017/18 (Year B) p68.
Used with permission
Hymn “There Was a Child in Galilee” MV 134
CLICK HERE for video.
Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Holy One, you call us to bring good new to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive and release to the prisoners;
You call us to provide for those who mourn.
Yet we are complicit in economic systems that oppress;
We cause injury that breaks the heart of others;
We live captured in our own constructed social systems, imprisoned by tabloid news;
We refuse to grieve the past and to let your new creation come.
Come this season Graceful One, give us cause to rejoice.
Help us to worship fully, to give more of ourselves, to spend less on consumer goods, and to love all as you have loved us.
Help us to truly enter into the story of your presence here on earth. Amen.
God loves justice and makes an everlasting promise to us.
We will have cause to greatly rejoice in the Lord.
Know God’s Joy. We are forgiven, reconciled and made new.
Thanks be to God.
WE HEAR THE WORD
Telling our Ancient Story: CLICK HERE for video.
Over the hills and down the street;
our shoulders ache, likewise our feet.
Mary will be labouring soon;
At all the inns there is no room.
So once again we humbly pray that some kind soul will let us stay.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
Hello? Make it quick, I've got pigs in a blanket in the oven and little quiches ready to follow them. I'm still waiting for my husband/wife to get back with the last of the stocking stuffers so we can wrap them and get to church for the early service. I've been cleaning and cooking all day because the family decided that it was our turn to host Christmas Dinner. I've changed all the beds, scrubbed the floors, cleaned the bathrooms and shopped, shopped and shopped. I'm near ready to collapse but I still have to get up early tomorrow to put on the Turkey. Good Lord! I haven't cooked a turkey in years. I just hope it isn't as dry as sand. Betty's turkey was like leather three years ago and the family is still talking about it. Oh, sorry, I hear the phone ringing. I'm afraid I just haven't time for you right now...
Hello. What's that? You need a place to stay? Well I'm afraid we aren't set up for company just now. I've been working double shifts lately and haven't had an opportunity to clean house for ages. All the beds need changing, the dust is an inch deep and I'm sticking to my kitchen floor. We haven't been shopping in weeks and the fridge and cupboards are really low. We simply couldn't offer you very good hospitality tonight. And I know that even when the place is cleaned up and ready for company, we couldn't possibly accommodate all of you. We've only got one pull out sofa in the living room. No, you'll have to move along. This is no suitable place for a group of unexpected guests tonight.
[Listening to an MP3 player very loud and playing a handheld computer game, rocking with eyes shut. Pays absolutely no attention to the people at the door and returns]
Hello? Oh, you look like you've travelled a long ways. I'm afraid all the rooms and beds are full in our house. But you know. I always like to say that there is room for one more. It's pretty cold out, isn't it? We have the garage at the side. It's out of the wind, though it isn't heated, but we could plug in an electric heater and find some blankets for you. If you don't mind the power tools you should be able to at least get a little comfortable.
Hymn “Song of Mary” VU 899
CLICK HERE for video.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 8For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
Message CLICK HERE for video.
As we reflect on the Holy Word of Scripture
May we be filled with the joy of this holy Advent season,
May we each become a source of joy to others.
In the name of the one for whom we wait, we pray.
Last week we heard from 2nd Isaiah, this week we hear from 3rd Isaiah.
First Isaiah wrote while the Assyrians were threatening to destroy Jerusalem and before Babylon took the Israelites into exile. First Isaiah's message is one of condemnation to the Rich who abandoned the covenant with God.
Second Isaiah's message is one of reconciliation. The people have paid the price of the sin of their forbearers and God calls them back to the Promised land.
Third Isaiah: the Israelites have returned to Jerusalem, but Jerusalem isn't the land of milk and honey they'd expected: the city and Temple had not been rebuilt and there were enemies threatening to attack from all sides. Third Isaiah's message is a reminder of the greatness of the past and of hope and promise of the joy:
“10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
Luke's Gospel begins with the story of Jesus birth, but Jesus first message in the synagogue, his first sermon, is to quote this passage from Isaiah.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
Many scholars will argue that this passage fully illustrates Luke's Jesus. Everything we read in the Gospel of Luke, we should read through this passage because this passage motivates everything Jesus does, says, and is in the Gospel of Luke.
We hear it resonating with the song Mary sings, also from Luke’s Gospel, that we sang this morning:
"My soul gives glory to my God,
my heart pours out its praise;
God lifted up my lowliness
in many marvelous ways…
…Love casts the mighty from their thrones,
promotes the insecure,
leaves hungry spirits satisfied,
the rich seem suddenly poor."
Central to Luke's gospel is the reversal of fortunes and God's preference for the poor and downtrodden.
But I have to observe that both, the passage from Isaiah, and Luke's Gospel, do not speak of an abstract joy somewhere in the future. Both these passages speak in the present, completed tense:
Casts… not will cast
Promotes… not will promote
Leaves… not will leave
There is a present-ness to the Joy God promises, it isn't just in some far off indefinable future.
The present is so miserable. How can Isaiah, Luke, and Mary, proclaim this joy as present?
We tend to confuses joy and happiness.
Joy is not "happiness"
Happiness is impacted by our circumstances. If things are going well for us, we will be happy, if not, we will be unhappy.
But Joy is different. Joy is determined by our sense of God being among us.Joy is determined by our sense of meaning, purpose and connection to what matters.
And God is among us when things are going well, and when things are going poorly. Even when life is most difficult, we can still experience meaning, purpose and connection to what matters.
This past week, I had a colonoscopy. And I can tell you I was not happy about that. However, I find tremendous joy in the people who took care of me: a friend who drove me about, medical professionals who cared for me; my mom who supervised me for 24 hours; the friends checking in with me online; the prayers of a community of faith.
So I was not happy, but I was filled with joy for the care I received, because in that care, I witness Emmanuel, God with us. I was not happy, but there was still meaning, purpose, and connection to what matters. And that is the source of joy.
Do not diminish joy by calling it a "silver lining." A silver lining is a superficial veneer on the surface of things, but joy is something we experience at the core… or we don’t. Joy isn't a garment we put on. As Christians, joy is part of our identity. God is with us, we are not alone.
Once again, Joy is not being happy. Joy is knowing that we are not alone and we have nothing to fear. Joy is finding meaning, purpose and connection to what matters in all our circumstances.
Isaiah, Luke, and Mary are able to proclaim a real and present joy, even while injustice, and hardship persist, because they know, God is with them.
As the Advent season continues,
As we continue to cope with Covid restrictions
and enter a holiday season like we've never known before,
May we experience God's present joy.
And may we be a source of joy to others.
In the name of the one for whom we wait,
Advent Reflections from Downtown Eastside: CLICK HERE for video.
The Great Thanksgiving
Communion Hymn: “Herald! Sound the Note of Gladness” VU 28
CLICK HERE for video.
The difference between “agape” and “communion” is one of intention. If you intend this meal to be communion, and you follow along with my instructions and prayers, it is communion.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift our hearts in prayer.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.
Holy God of Advent waiting, you are the beginning and the end;
You are the Alpha and Omega, the East and the West the Heavens and the Earth;
You are the air we breathe, the breath of life, the winds of change;
You are our all in all, from everlasting to everlasting.
From the dawn of our being you have been with us, intricately weaving us into creation,
forming our inward parts;
You have placed dreams in our hearts, words on our lips and promises in our hands.
You gave us life through Adam and Eve, a promise through Abraham and Sarah, a law through Moses and Miriam, and a calling through the prophets.
You gave us an example and teacher through Jesus Christ: born in a stable, raised in exile, persecuted with injustice, killed on a cross, raised from the tomb;
Jesus calls us to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with you. For all this we give you thanks. And so with all of creation, the Angels and saints we sing these words of praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory,
Hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
I invite you to hold up your bread.
We remember how on a hillside, the disciples were filled with doubt. Thousands of people following Jesus sat hungry and longing for food, healing, comfort and good news. Jesus said, “Feed them,” and the disciples challenged him, insisting that there was no food available and even if there were, many years’ wages could not feed such a multitude. A small boy offered all he had, a few fish and a few loaves of bread. While the disciples argued and asserted their doubts, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and fed the multitude. The multitude was satisfied and there was abundant bread left over.
I invite you to hold up your wine/juice.
We remember how Jesus, his mother Mary and his friends went to a wedding. The wine ran out. Again, amidst great doubt and shame, Jesus ordered the water jars filled, he gave thanks for them and wine of the best quality and in outrageous abundance poured forth, more than could possibly be required.
I invite you to hold your hands over your elements.
Let us pray: God of all hope, peace, joy and love, we rejoice in the gift of your abundance in the midst of our scarcity, hope in the midst of our despair, faithfulness in the midst of our doubt. As darkness looms, creation grows big with your promise for a new beginning.
Confident your everlasting promise, may our lives proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died
Christ is Risen
Christ will come again
Make us mindful, God of Holy Preparation, of your presence in these gifts of juice and bread and upon us and what we do here. May we be prophets of hope, peace joy and love in the world this Advent season, through our actions and gift giving.
Praise be to the Source, Praise be to the Spirit, Praise be to the Living Christ, Three in One.
And the people said: “Amen…”
The Disciples’ Prayer “Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother: The Lord’s Prayer”
CLICK HERE for video.
* Music by Chellan Hoffman and Stephen J. Miller
Words by Parker J. Plamer
Found in Gathering Pentecost 2 2020 (year A), p 60-1
Used with permission
The bread of new life. [eat the bread]
The cup of promise. [drink from the cup]
Prayer after Communion:
Holy One, we thank you that you have called your people from east and west, north and south to feast at the table of Jesus Christ.
Assure in us that our faith is sufficient.
And may the faith be revealed to all the world through our words and actions.
May we prove to be worthy followers of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
WE GO FORTH
Hymn: “Tomorrow Christ Is Coming” VU 27
CLICK HERE for video.
Commissioning and Benediction
We will pray without ceasing.
Witness to the light of Christ
That all may believe through him.
May the God of peace sanctify you entirely;
may our spirits and souls and bodies be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord
The one who calls you is faithful and will keep his promises.