Introducing Our Worship Leader: Good morning, Trinity Friends!
My name is Rev. Liz Bowyer and it is my personal delight to be your worship presider this morning. Some months ago when I was approached about this date, the plan was that our service would include the sacrament of communion. Indeed, with the blessing of the leaders of the Pacific Mountain Region as well as the leaders in your church family here at Trinity United, clergy throughout the region have been encouraged to provide communion online. This morning will be my third experience of offering communion for a dispersed community but I think your first, yes?
Where I was serving last in a transitional ministry appointment in Kamloops, the feedback was this: Providing access to the sacrament of communion helped folks to feel a sense of normality in the midst of adhering to COVID-19 restrictions in place. My fondest prayer is that it may also be the case for you this morning.
In anticipation of a virtual blessing of whatever food and drink you have prepared for your own spiritual nourishment this morning, please know that coffee, tea, grape juice, croissants, waffles, bacon and eggs are all acceptable symbols of the bread of life and the cup of blessing.
We Gather: Come, then, let us enter into this set apart time and place as a worshipping community.
Acknowledging the Territory: In keeping with our denominational forebears dream for God’s vision of Shalom and standing in solidarity with our first nations brothers and sisters here in Port Coquitlam and across the nation, we acknowledge that we gather on the Traditional Territory of the Kwayquitlum Coast Salish people. Knowing the movement towards truth and reconciliation is a complex and multi-faceted journey, we bring all that we are and all that we hope to become to this ever changing dynamic. May we know the accompaniment of God’s Spirit ever at work in our midst in these regards. Amen.
Opening Hymn: MV 92 Like A Rock
Opening Prayer: God who dwells within, between, and among us, ground us in the stillness of this present moment as we enter into this set apart sacred time and place. Amen.
Anthem: Trinity Choir: In the Stillness of This Moment
Scripture Texts: Sometimes these texts are read on Trinity Sunday which is usually celebrated around the end of May each year. This morning’s texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of Scripture.
Proverbs 8: 1-4; 22-31 and 32-36
The Gifts of Wisdom: “Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates at the front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.
”Wisdom’s Part in Creation: “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago, I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth-when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
VU 260 God Who Gives to Life It’s Goodness
Instructions for Wisdom’s children:
“And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death.”
The accompanying Gospel is found at John 16: 12-15 The Spirit of Truth
The conclusion of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse offers promise, hope, and companionship for the disciples.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Reflection: Growing in Wisdom
Please will you pray with me: God of the sunshine, God of the rain, God of the good green earth, God of the bright blue sky of a new day, may we know your imminent and transcendent presence as we reflect together on your Word for us this day, amen.
This morning though we have two texts on offer, I will focus more on the instructions offered by Lady Wisdom in the Proverbs text and leave the John passage to you for your own ongoing reflection.
This morning’s text from the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs provides some of the most beautiful imagery of the divine connection between God and God’s feminine counterpart, Lady Wisdom.
Relying on grand sweeping poetic imagery, the author of the ancient text describes how God and Lady Wisdom have been about the creative work of developing and creating life in the universe over vast expanses of time.
In the middle of all of that, the text also reminds us that Wisdom does call and does instruct, even in the mundane and the ordinariness of everyday living.
As God’s beloved creatures-beloved in the same way as children and students are, what is our task?
Our task is to take heed and respond to Wisdom’s life-giving call and instructions.
Since we entered into lockdown almost 4 months ago now, a new routine I looked forward to almost daily was to tune in the broadcasts on radio and TV with Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health, Adrian Dix.
Not only did the information update bring me comfort and hope, the very practice of establishing this routine of focused and intentional listening helped keep me feeling grounded and safe as well as informed!
For me, tuning in to the daily updates from CBC radio became a spiritual practice of a sort, nurturing my soul even.
Another routine that has nurtured my soul on a daily basis has been gathering with my neighbours each night at 7pm to show appreciation and support for our front line workers.
As we move further and further into Phase 3 of our response to COVID-19 in our communities and as restrictions on our everyday living seem to be easing, I am noticing that these two routines are beginning to fall to the wayside. This is not necessarily a bad thing just a noticing on my behalf.
The key thing for me during this time has been to discover a daily routine or a practice during this time of physical distance and social isolation that has not only informed my attitudes in positive ways but also reinforced my awareness of the holy in everyday living. We might even say it has helped me to grow in my relationship with Wisdom. Go figure!
Once again I hear Madame Insight’s words ringing in my ears:
“Happy are those who ‘keep’ Wisdom’s ways. Happy are those who listen for ‘Wisdom’, who watch for it daily.”
This idea of listening and watching for wisdom daily can be a bit tricky for us to wrap our heads around though.
With that in mind, I like how Eugene Peterson describes it in his Introduction to the text, in his book The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language. NAVPRESS, Bringing Truth to Life, 2004. For Peterson, “Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves.” (p. 813)
The actual conditions in which we find ourselves as communities of faith during the pandemic is worthy of mention here.
Just last Sunday, I clicked on the link to the online Zoom service with 15 other folk from the Naramata Community Church.
Much to my surprise, I felt I had come home to a part of myself that I hadn’t even known was missing!
Prior to that, I spent the last 3 months of my transitional appointment to Mt Paul United Church in Kamloops relying on Zoom as our online worship platform.
Each and every week 35 faithful followers in the Way from that small church community clicked on the link to be present to me and to each other as followers in the Way of Jesus.
Now I know full well that one of the key attractions to the Zoom call was their opportunity to actually ‘see’ one another’s faces!
However, it is worth noting that for a small congregation, this weekly response on Zoom was a better turn out than was the case were we to actually worship in the building!
Then came my research and preparation for this morning’s service with you the people at Trinity United.
My research has been ongoing for some months as I subscribed to your weekly newsletter a while back and have been receiving your worship service documents each week.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been only too happy to join your Wednesday coffee group and get a bit more acquainted with your congregation that way as well.
Who knew technology could be such a useful tool for churches?
In the coming months, I am certain we will continue to see a diversity of folks testing out all sorts of new ways of being the church and for that, I am exceedingly grateful.
Meantime, in the midst of it all, I encourage you to continue to be about the discovery of the holy in the midst of the ordinary and the mundane.
Lady Wisdom would be most pleased, don’t you think?
For the opportunity to be the Church in this time and in this place, I say “Hallelujah and thanks be to God, Amen!
Invitation to Communion:
Whether we come feeling isolated and despairing or whether we come feeling elated and hope-filled, here, at this table, we are welcomed by a living, loving God. Ready to welcome us into abundant life, our God sees and celebrates our capacity for belovedness. Come then, let us bring all that we are and all that we hope to become to this table.
MV 4 All Who are Thirsty
Prayers of the People: Ground and Source of all that is, Holy Spirit, anchor of all our roots, deepest home and final truth, we live and move in you. Gracious and amazing God, your presence is so much larger than our words can describe. May we know ourselves tenderly embraced by your love. Open our hearts to that which we find strange or overwhelming. Word of life that calls us from darkness to light, may Christ’s character be formed in us. Spirit of Wholeness, move gently through our lives, our homes, our churches, and our workplaces. Raise up that which has collapsed, heal that which is broken, re-enthuse and renew that which has become tired and listless in our beings and in our communities.
May the sacred unity which you enjoy through all eternity be our blessing here in the stillness of this present moment.
This day, we offer our prayers for those whose lives are shaped by poverty, violence, fear, and sickness. We also pray for our political, medical, and religious leaders serving our communities and our region as Phase 3 of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. May they and we know the soothing balm of God’s healing love in these uncertain times.
In the Ecumenical Prayer cycle established by the World Council of Churches, we are invited to remember and pray for the peoples of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda where issues of poverty, hunger, access to health services, as well as ongoing political unrest and economic instability continue to predominate.
In the Pacific Mountain Regional Council prayer cycle, we pray for those continuing to offer church worship services and programs as is possible in these days. In particular this week, we are invited to remember and pray for United Church communities of faith including: Bowen Island UC, Brechin UC in Nanaimo, Brighouse UC in Richmond, and Cadboro Bay UC in Victoria.
Knowing that God hears all our prayers before they ever emerge as words on our lips, we share together in the Disciples Prayer found at VU 921:
Lord’s Prayer: VU 921
Great Thanksgiving Prayer: God be with you. And also with you.
Open your hearts. We open them to God.
Let us give thanks to God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Holy God, eternal Creator, all you have made is beautiful and good. We thank you for the wonder of the cosmos, beyond our understanding or comprehension. We thank you for darkness and light, for growth and change, for all that lies beyond our knowledge and our imagination. You alone are Wisdom’s source. From you, Wisdom was brought forth long before the oceans were formed or the mountains set on their rocky feet. Wisdom delighted in all that was made and in us, your children.
Wisdom continues to speak her truth. Crying out in the marketplace, Wisdom reveals that what we consider wise, is, in fact, mere folly.
Holy God, through Wisdom, you have reached out to us, in every generation, befriending your people, and giving back your sacred teachings, sending prophets to call us back to your ways.
In Jesus, the Word made flesh, Wisdom spoke out once more. In and through Jesus, we discovered the strength of your power, your forgiveness, and your abiding grace. But, even in the midst of rejection and violent brutality, Jesus embodied your wisdom and your love. In life and in death Jesus became Wisdom’s tree of life. And so it is, we lift our own voices in praise and thanksgiving as we say together: Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Eternal God, we praise you for our brother, Jesus, who before his suffering, shared a meal with his companions. Together, we recall how on the night before he died, Jesus took the bread, lifted it up, and gave thanks to you for it. Then, for all who had ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to feel, he broke the bread and said to his companions: “Take and eat. This is my body. Whenever you share bread together, do so in memory of me.”
At the end of the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine. Again, he lifted the cup, thanked You, dear God. Then he told his companions at table: “Drink this, all of you. This cup, symbol of the new covenant is offered out of love for you. Whenever you drink from this cup together, do so in memory of me.”
We delight in remembering Jesus-his faithfulness, his unquenchable passion for life in all its fullness, and all the many ways his abiding presence if felt whenever two or more are gathered in his name.
Together, as followers in the Way of Jesus, we proclaim the good news of our faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Prayer over the Communion Elements: God of Wisdom, send your life-giving Spirit on us and these gifts of food and symbolic wine. Brood over us that we might become one body in Christ’s name. Call us again into ministries of truth and reconciliation and of healing and of hope.
Fortify us in our commitment to healthy approaches to stewardship of your good Creation and as seekers of justice for all.
Through Christ, with Christ , and in the unity of the Holy Spirit may all of it be so! Amen, amen, and amen!
Communion is Shared
Communion Hymn: MV 85, Take, O Take Me as I am
Prayer After Communion: Gracious God, may your gifts of love transform and enliven us that we may live lives of thanksgiving. Keep us firm in the hope that you have set before us so that ultimately ‘all shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’, amen. (quote attributed to Julian of Norwich).
We Are Sent Out
VU 375 Spirit of Gentleness
Click here to listen
Commissioning and Benediction: Our worship is ending but our work in the world is about to begin. Go in peace, go in love, go in hope. Amen and amen!
Note: The format and prayers of this morning’s service have been adapted from a resource entitled “Growing In Wisdom Sunday” offered by Alberta North West Conference staff on the occasion of the final Truth and Reconciliation meeting in Edmonton, AB in the winter of 2014. The purpose of the resource was to make it possible for congregational leaders to offer a worship service at the same time as leaders were meeting representatives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Edmonton.