Trinity United Church
Sunday, July 18, 2021
“Connection not Perfection”
CLICK HERE for the video of the livestream worship.
To see specific parts of the service, scroll down under the YouTube video and click the "show more" link, then click on the part of the service you'd like to watch!
Welcome 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.
This morning, David Rogers is at the piano, Joy Galea is in the choir loft and leading the singing and we have a number of members of our Zoom Host team sitting in the sanctuary at a distance with their devices following the service and observing what’s happening at the front.
Acknowledgement of Territory
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.
Again this week, another community, the Penelakut Tribe has reported 160 unmarked graves on the site of the former residential school on Kuper Island, that is on one of the Southern Gulf Islands here in BC. We acknowledge the grief of the communities and families continuing to experience the trauma of the announcements. And continue to commit to our own work toward reconciliation.
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.
Prelude/ Lighting of the Christ Candle. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO.
Call to Worship
Let us sing of God’s steadfast love.
Let us proclaim God’s faithfulness to all generations.
God has mad a covenant with us.
Let the heavens praise God’s wonder!
Prayer of Approach
The heavens and earth are yours, O God, and all that is in them.
Steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Happy are those who walk in the light of your promise.
In this time of worship assure us of your ability and willingness
to build up among us your just and holy reign.
Hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” VU 326
Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
God of Covenant Promise,
God of Dreams and Aspirations,
God of Wisdom and Healing,
hear our prayers for reconciliation.
You created a diverse creation
replete with wonders,
abundant in resources,
yet good in its oneness.
You created us and made us part of that goodness.
But we do not choose to participate
in the goodness of your creation.
We build walls that divide one people from another.
We hoard wealth and resources
so that some have super abundance
while others have nothing.
We busy ourselves with distractions
and neglect to be grateful
for the wonder and mystery
in which you have immersed us.
Break down our walls.
Open our hearts and hands.
Still our trembling souls.
And teach us to be your people
of compassion, generosity,
connection, and gratitude. Amen.
Through Christ, we are no longer strangers.
On the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
God builds us into a holy temple in God.
Through Christ, God builds us together spiritually
into a dwelling place for God.
Through Christ, we are forgiven and made new.
Thanks be to God.
WE HEAR THE WORD
Our Story "Camp Spirit"
Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
This is the witness of the early church. Thanks be to God!
Hymn: “Let Us Build a House” MV 1
Dwell in us.
Place the peace of Christ in our hearts
and make in us a sacred place
where your steadfast love and faithfulness can meet.
In the name of the one you send, we pray. Amen.
Paul's original audience consisted of two distinct groups of people between which there had traditionally been a great deal of hostility: Jewish followers of Jesus, the people to whom Jesus first preached and proclaimed; and Gentile followers of Jesus non-Jews.
The Gentile followers of Jesus largely came from a community known as "God Fearers." They were not themselves of Jewish heritage. But they hung out in the synagogues and really appreciated the Jewish teachings of the prophets. They didn't just become Jews because there were certain laws that would have severed them from their families and communities, particularly the dietary laws and circumcision. So they took on many of the Jewish practices and shared in the Jewish story, but didn't actually become Jews.
Paul frequently waxes eloquent on the topic of reconciliation between these two groups. Today's passage is a sermon on reconciliation. Paul writes: "God has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it."
Just last week I observed that reconciliation often means different things to different people. How reconciliation might be achieved will look different for one party than another.
What does reconciliation mean? If I open up a dictionary I get something like this: "Reconciliation 1) the restoration of friendly relations; 2) the action of making one view or belief compatible with another."
As Paul develops his vision of reconciliation we can see that there are aspects of both these definitions. Relations will be restored between Jewish followers of Jesus and Gentile followers of Jesus. And the laws, followed by the Jews and the abolishment of the laws for Gentiles will be compatible. In the community of the followers of Jesus there is room for both those who follow the laws, and those who do not follow the laws.
Paul is so very, very clear. Again and again he will assert that if you are from the Jewish tradition and you follow the laws, ordinances and commandments, you will continue to follow the laws, ordinances and commandments. However, if you are a Gentile and don't follow the laws ordinances and commandments, that's good, they have been abolished for you.
According to Paul, In Christ, Gentiles do not need to become Jews to follow Christ. In Christ, Jews do not need to abandon the customs and traditions of Judaism to follow Christ. In Christ, we can maintain our distinctiveness and still be one household among the saints, no longer aliens and strangers. We are one new humanity in place of the two... making peace.
Historically speaking Paul's vision of reconciliation is abandoned.
As time moves on, the Jewishness of Jesus is assimilated and erased. In time, Jesus becomes a white, northern European, with blond hair, blue eyes and all. We all grew up with that painting on the wall of our Sunday School rooms, and in our illustrated bibles. As comforting as those images may be for some of us, it is antithetical to Paul's Gospel.
When white Christians insist that people of colour worship a white Jesus, we have completely abandoned and betrayed Paul's message of reconciliation.
This is exactly what we did with Residential Schools. To be a Canadian, Indigenous children had to speak English or French, they had to learn Christian practices, they had to worship a white European Jesus.
To be clear: Reconciliation can never be assimilation.
Paul knew this. Do we?
The church has a long history of confusing reconciliation and assimilation. For many generations, assimilation has plagued the church. To be saved someone has to be the right kind of Catholic, or the right kind of Anglican, or the right kind of protestant, or the right kind of Methodist, or the right kind of evangelical as we fracture off into more and more denominational identities.
This is antithetical to Paul's vision of reconciliation. There is diversity in the Household of God, a new humanity.
When we are not reconciled with one another, we aren't reconciled with the vision God has for us.
In this particular passage Paul reminds the readers that there was a time before reconciliation that was very different from what is now available to the community of faith. Before we were distant from God, aliens and strangers, living in sin, a wall of hostility between us. But reconciliation brings peace, nearness, citizenship with the saints, membership in the household of God.
We really are better reconciled than apart.
As Christians, as Canadians, we need to take reconciliation seriously. We need to internalize that reconciliation is not assimilation, but an affirmation of distinctiveness, of personhood and even nationhood.
The Promise of Paul's vision of reconciliation is that we grow into a Holy Temple, built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God. God will live among us when we are reconciled. It is hard work. It is work we might not ourselves complete. But it is work that is well worth the effort.
May we no longer be strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
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.
We have been blessed, not only by the generosity of our membership and adherents, but also by the courage of our leadership to learn and navigate in a very different world than the one we knew a year ago. Let us give thanks.
Ground of All Being,
We present these offerings, and those made through Pre Authorized Remittance, that they may be used to extend your liberating presence.
With them, we offer our varied ministries, that each of us may be part of your answer to the cries of the world. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
Holy One, have mercy on us and grant us peace.
We pray for those who know no peace.
For Children, women and men
whose homes have been destroyed by war or climate disasters,
whose minds have been damaged by violence and want,
whose relationships have been ravaged by addiction and greed.
We pray for all who hunger and thirst
for real food and water;
for justice and equity;
for meaning and comfort;
for connection and joy.
We pray for all who work for justice:
Leaders of government and business,
Leaders of the churches and scholars,
Scientists and educators,
Community organizers and citizens,
all who serve to build up the body of one human race.
Give strength and courage to those who serve:
Volunteers, doctors, nurses,
teachers, firefighters, first responders,
police officers, soldiers,
may we do so with humility and compassion.
We pray for Camp Spirit,
the leaders, participants,
organizers, staff and volunteers.
We pray that the children experience connection, joy and wonder
as they learn, play and create together.
We pray for survivors of residential schools,
we pray for children who died at the residential schools
and for their families and communities.
We pray for reconciliation
between indigenous and non-indigenous
peoples around the world.
We pray for the families and communities who lost loved ones when a construction crane collapsed in Kelowna this past week.
In all things for which we pray,
we ask your will be done
and that we have the trust,
courage and wisdom to accept your will.
Now, as a child turns to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort, we turn to you saying a paraphrase of the words Jesus taught us…
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 peoples
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: “We Are Pilgrims” VU 595
Commissioning and Benediction:
I invite you to turn on you videos, go to gallery view if you are able, and hold your hands out in a sign of blessing…