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Trinity United Church
May 15, 2022
5th Sunday of Easter

Worship Leader: Rev David Cathcart (on leave)
Guest Worship Leader: The Reverend Dr. Dorothy A. Jeffery
Music Leader: David Rogers
Scripture Reader: Judi Carroll
Zoom Hosts: Ross Dunning, Syd Sawyer
Soundroom: Ross Shearer
Ushers: Maureen Adams

May the Peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
Welcome to Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam. 
We are grateful you have joined us for worship this morning. 
Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam resides on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish People 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.

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I invite you to take a deep breath, and let it go. I invite you to take another breath, and let it go. And one more time, take a deep breath and let it go. 
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.

Prelude: David Rogers  
Words for continuous scrolling during Prelude(not for singing): Refrain, v. 3 and refrain “The Holy City”
Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And once again the scene was changed,
New earth there seemed to be.
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea.
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away,
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o'er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna forevermore!

Lighting the Christ Candle: Rev Dorothy

We light this candle knowing that Christ is a light in the world.
As this light grows and we focus upon it
May the light and love that Christ shows
Grow in us and may we share it with the world.

Sung Introit: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” VU 315 

Call to Worship:  Rev Dorothy  

We come into Your presence, O God, 
Though we find it difficult to leave our pressing concerns behind. 
We come into Your presence, 
remembering how much we have to thank You for. 
We look up at the star-filled heavens, 
we experience laughing children at play, 
and our thanksgiving is wholehearted. 
We come into Your presence, 
rejoicing in this worship-willing faith community. 
As prayers are offered, praise sung, and the Word read, 
we know we are faithfully at home. 
We come into Your presence knowing 
that You call us to listen and to act. 
The need to encourage the troubled is before us, 
the opportunity to support those lacking self-confidence is clear to us. 
Let us worship, listen and follow Your promises You fulfill in Jesus the Christ.

Adapted Sparks Prayers to Share Year C 7th Sunday of Easter p. 108.

Opening prayer and Prayer for insight:
We gather here to worship You, loving God,
Alpha and Omega: beginning and ending of all that is.
We come to You with thirsty souls, longing for the water of life
that You offer to all people.
Help us to experience Your refreshing and renewing presence
not only in this time of worship but in all times and places. 

Prayer for insight

When a friend says, “Nothing is wrong, I’ll be all right,” 
Give us the patience to stay with them, 
give us the courage to hear their deepest anxieties. 
When the pressure is on to make a difficult decision, 
Give us the wisdom to take our time, 
and the strength to weigh our alternatives carefully. 
When we cannot forget a hurt, or forgive a telling slight, 
enable us to see the other person’s point of view, 
and put the past in the past. 
When the call to justice is heard, 
and the demand to act comes loud and clear, 
Give us the willingness to listen, and the faith in a Gospel response, 
which may not be comfortable. 
(Time for silent reflection)

Words of Assurance: 
God will enable us to see new truth and to set a fresh path. 
We will take the time to consider our failings; 
we will work to change things for good. 
God’s peace will be ours. 
Thanks be to God! Amen

Adapted Sparks Prayers to Share Year C 7th Sunday of Easter p. 109

Hymn:  “I  See a New heaven” VU 713

Psalm 148 Sung Refrain with responsive reading     VU 871

Praise God from the heavens; 
give praise in the heights!
Give praise, all you angels; 
praise God, all you hosts!
    Praise God, sun and moon; give praise, stars and lights!
    Praise God, farthest heavens,
        and all waters beyond heaven!  
Let the whole creation cry.
Glory be to God on high.

Let all things praise the Holy One at whose command they were created,
who established them for all time,
    setting bounds, which cannot be passed.
    Praise God from the earth,
    great sea creatures and ocean depths,
    lightning and hail, snow and frost,
    gales that obey God's decree,
all mountains and hills, all fruit trees and cedars,
wild animals and cattle, creatures winged and earth-bound,
    sovereigns who rule earth and its people,
    all who govern and judge this world,
    young men and women alike,
    old people and children together!  R

Let all things praise the name of God,
the name above every other,
whose splendour covers heaven and earth.
    You give strength to your people, 
    songs of praise to your faithful,
    to Israel, the people dear to your heart.  R

Reading: Revelation 21:1 - 22:21 

Rev 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 
Rev 21:2  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
Rev 21:3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 
"See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; 
they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 
Rev 21:4  he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." 
Rev 21:5  And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, 
"Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
Rev 21:6  Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, 
the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 
Rev 21:7  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 
Rev 21:8  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." 
Rev 21:9  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me,
 "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 
Rev 21:10  And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 
Rev 21:11  It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 
Rev 21:12  It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; Rev 21:13  on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 
Rev 21:14  And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 
Rev 21:15  The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 
Rev 21:16  The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 
Rev 21:17  He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. 
Rev 21:18  The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. 
Rev 21:19  The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 
Rev 21:20  the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 
Rev 21:21  And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass. 
Rev 21:22  I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 
Rev 21:23  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 
Rev 21:24  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 
Rev 21:25  Its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. 
Rev 21:26  People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 
Rev 21:27  But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. 

Rev 22:1  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 
Rev 22:2  through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 
Rev 22:3  Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 
Rev 22:4  they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 
Rev 22:5  And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 
Rev 22:6  And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." 
Rev 22:7  "See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." 
Rev 22:8  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; Rev 22:9  but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" 
Rev 22:10  And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 
Rev 22:11  Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." 
Rev 22:12  "See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone's work. 
Rev 22:13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 
Rev 22:14  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 
Rev 22:15  Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 
Rev 22:16  "It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." 
Rev 22:17  The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. 
Rev 22:18  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 
Rev 22:19  if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person's share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 
Rev 22:20  The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. 
Come, Lord Jesus! 
Rev 22:21  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. 

Hymn: Live, “Oh a Song Must Rise ” MV 142

Message (Sermon): Rev Dorothy

Between the words that I speak,
And words that you hear
May the Holy Spirit move and bring you new visions

A picture says a thousand words. 

That is a well-known saying “A picture is worth a thousand words."  When applied to the biblical Book of Revelation there may be a thousand pictures or images.  Do the math – that would make a very long book.  According to Google “The King James Authorized Bible” has 783,137 words. 

The book of Revelation is a difficult read and even more difficult to understand.  That is why the book at its beginning recommends that it be read aloud (Revelation 1:3) to hear the vision.  Almost every reference in Revelation relates to a statement, story, or image somewhere in the bible. There are images of violence, of battle defeats and battle victories. What did they mean or what did they mean in the visions of John of Patmos?  Revelation is a highly symbolic text, meaning not literally true. 
The book of Revelation is a book that scares many people - partially because its symbolic language is difficult to understand, partially because it has been taken literally by many fundamentalists as predicting a dire end to the world.  Their approach has often been to equate passages in Revelation with particular historical events; therefore, trying to predict the end of the world.  Jesus, of course, warned against this kind of prediction (citation Luke 21:7-9). 
Today’s reading begins at Chap. 21 the climax of Revelation.  This is a strange place to start.  You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that the book of Revelation is a pattern of repeating judgments and eschatological (last things or end time) revelations.
It takes a lot of study and knowledge of the whole bible to get some insight into the Book of Revelation  (Revelation of John).

In the Revised Common Lectionary,  Revelation only turns up a few times  with several repetitions of the same passage. Your minister David preached on Revelation about 2 years ago on November 1, 2020, All Saints. For him it was a departure from his typical All Saints sermon.  
Not having it as the sermon focus very often you may not be overly familiar with this book. Some brands of churches dwell on Revelation a lot as a prediction of the future. In my studied opinion, this is not the meaning or intent of its author John of Patmos. 

Bible study, biblical courses and skepticism of popular interpretations have been part of my experience of the Book.   Given all this, I approached preaching on the book with fear and trepidation: do I know enough, will my interpretation be faithful?

One of the approaches that can be taken when  preaching on a difficult biblical text is to tell stories instead of engaging the text directly. But the author of Revelation has set rather ominous boundaries around the text near the end of the book.  

Rev 22:18  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 
Rev 22:19  if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person's share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 

So, no stories today.

The Revised Common Lectionary for this and the next two weeks gives us three opportunities to hear Revelation – the hopeful and glorious part, the part of promise we desire.

The message is less to comfort  than to challenge  and warn.  Things right now are profoundly unwell, and repentance and change of life is required.  So now is a time to listen to Revelation.   In Revelation we have the second coming of Christ, a post-Jesus dream by the writer of a world descending into chaos and turmoil. 
The final three chapters, from 19 on, can be seen as seven pictures of final victory of God. 

Today we look at Picture 7: The New Jerusalem.  

This picture has three fundamental features.

 1. Continuity: the new heavens and the new earth do not simply replace the old one.  God does NOT  “start all over”.  This world, God’s good creation, is not replaced but REDEEMED.  God does not make “all new things” but “all things new” (Rev. 21.5). 

God is no longer far off, but immediate and manifest (revealed) - very much part of the world.  New creation is not merely something to look forward to. The New Jerusalem is “made ready like a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2).  The bride is the “New Jerusalem”, the “holy city” where all things are made new. 

The ultimate city bears the name and recognizable features of the earthly city.  

2. The location of the image is of THIS World. After the 1000-years of untroubled rule on this earth by Christ, John does not transfer the scene to the heavenly world, but has the heavenly city DESCEND to this renewed earth. 

This world, the object of the Creator’s love, is ultimately important to God (Genesis 1; John 3:16).  
A central tenet of Judeo-Christian beliefs is that the universe was created by God for a purpose; therefore, history has meaning and purpose. Accordingly, history is not an endless cycle where events are destined to repeat themselves, but rather a path with a destination. The Bible begins with creation in Genesis and ends with re-creation in Revelation. 

The kingdom of God in this world is not; however, finally a matter of human achievement but rather the ultimate act of God.  

The New Jerusalem is not built, like the tower of Babel, toward heaven (Genesis 11), but comes from God’s side of the cosmos as the fulfillment of the divine promise and demonstration of God’s faithfulness.

3. So the fulfillment of God’s purpose is a city.  
In the biblical story, human history starts in a garden, and the first city is built by a murderer (Cain Genesis 4:8) as a result of human sin (Genesis 3:1-4:17).  The conclusion of this story in Revelation does not nullify human history and return to the Garden of Eden.   Instead, it brings the garden into the city (22:1-2).  

A city represents human community, life together.  Existence is not individualistic but communal.  The church, the community of faith, the people of God are the anticipation of the new city.  Heaven and earth come together in an embrace.

God’s dream for the city is Peace. The city in this vision is so wonderfully safe and secure that it shines like a jewel, clear as a crystal (Rev.21:11). 

The final picture remains true to John’s paradoxically dual emphasis throughout the book.  There are pictures of exclusion: no sinners and nothing sinful  will entry the city (Rev. 21:8, 27; 22:3, 14-15).  But there are words of a regenerated, undeserved grace from God as “all things are made new”.    
There are also pictures of transformation and ultimate inclusion: The city is not for the “faithful few” (the chosen) but is inconceivably large (21:16). 
Kings and nations of earth will be there (21:24-26).  The nations are not only destroyed (19:15; 20:7-9) but also finally are healed by the leaves of the “tree of life”  (Rev. 2:22) and walk by God’s light.  The city is so radiant with God’s presence that it is as if God is the city’s sun, its light and heat for all growth and life. 

The city has walls and gates that function as the boundary markers to separate insiders from outsiders, but the gates are never closed (21:12-14, 21,25).

We hear Jesus claim for himself the title ascribed to God at the beginning of the vision: alpha and omega, the origin and destiny of everything. Jesus is revealed as the source and origin of the destiny God has planned for creation since the beginning of time.

God says "I am the Alpha and the Omega.  The beginning and the end."  
Not beginning then the end, but and, simultaneously.  This wording supports renewal, rather than replacement.
Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The appearance of these terms for God and Jesus in the first (Rev.1:8) and last chapters of the book of Revelation (22:13) emphasizes the completeness of God as origin and destiny of all creation.  
Among all these images that John provides and that we add ourselves to help our understanding,  Revelation concludes with one more invitation to all to enter into the blessings of God. Life is a gift. All that is required to share and live in the gift is to recognize our need and respond to what we hear.

In Revelation the contrast between heaven and earth disappears.  God is no longer far off, but immediate and manifest - very much part of the world of perfection.  Yet though we are not living in a state of perfection, new creation is not merely something to look forward to.  In Christ there is already possibility, to bring about the new creation in our lives, though with the clear recognition of the struggle the whole creation must undergo before paradise can be revealed.  (Rom 8:18ff).
The book of Revelation is an apocalypse. Apocalypse (unveiling) happens. In preaching, apocalypse happens.  In proclamation re-creation happens, but transformation is the end promise rather than death.   

When we find ourselves in the shadows of everyday life experience we often cannot see when we are accommodating our culture to the point of being faithless.

Historically the church as the Social Gospel movement in North America was influenced by apocalyptic theology that the world would be transformed.  The dream was that as society got increasingly better, the reign of God would descend on North America.  In that period there was a view that we were building a new Jerusalem.  Those hopes were dashed in the civil war and have been dashed again in many more wars (World and regional).  Into our own time, most of us live in pretty good circumstances, veiled to the many difficulties of life.   But looking around still our hopes for the good life for all are dashed in other ways, such as: 
The veil of plenty surrounding us, is unveiled by more than 30 years of Food Bank Drives in Vancouver since their inception in 1982.
The veil of Canada as a place of safety and security, is unveiled by a youth beaten to death by others of another ethnic or social group.
The veil of a life of health and happiness is unveiled when a diagnosis of untreatable cancer is given.  
We are living in apocalypse, an unveiling of turmoil, but God’s transformation to hope is also present.  Life is good, but life is troubling.  Yet transformation is happening, the presence of God is unveiled:
When we give to the Food Bank,
When we pray for an end to violence and practice non-violence in our own lives,
When we comfort the dying through hospices.
What is unveiled may seem small in comparison to the world’s problems.  The new heaven, the new creation is not here yet, but it is unfolding.
Let us live into the promise of Christ “I am Coming”.  
The world will be transformed.

Anthem: Trinity Choir "Walk in the Light"  by Joseph Martin.  

Offering: (with Song) 
We are grateful for the many ways people choose to serve and give at Trinity United Church. Your ministry is possible thanks to your gifts of money, time and service. If you would like to make a financial contribution, please send a check to the church office, or click on the “Donate Now” button on our website.

Offering Song: “Grateful”         MV 182

Let us pray:
God of Mystery, Hope and Unsurpassable Awe, we give you thanks.  
In the name of Heaven and Earth we raise to you Glory, Gratitude and Praise.

Thank you, gracious God, for making Your home among us.
We dedicate ourselves and our gifts toward the new world You are creating among us – a world where peace emerges from mutual respect and honest encounters.
May Your love be reflected in our attitudes and action when we are together and when we are apart AMEN

/adapted from Bayler “Gathered by love” Yr C p.95 Easter 5

Prayers of the People/Disciples’ Prayer: 
Mighty God, as we rest in Your presence,
fill us with Your Spirit,
renew our vision,
restore our faith,
refresh your church.

Lord, we pray that the whole church may show the gifts of the Spirit.
We pray for the United Church of Canada and its many ministries in these transformative times.
We pray for the ministry of Trinity United Church, staff and volunteers and for those who receive your services

We pray especially for ministers and peoples who are losing vision, 
for all who have lost faith and are without hope.
Lord with Your Presence, change us and we shall be changed.

We pray for the leaders of the nations,
that they may serve with integrity and justice,
that they may be aware that their gifts and power come from You.

We pray for world unity and peace, 
for the time when the nations of the world will become the kingdom of Christ
our Lord.
We pray for Ukraine, Russia…
We pray for the refugees in many places around the world…
We pray for indigenous communities in Canada still waiting for drinkable water…

Lord with Your Presence, change us and we shall be changed.

Lord, grant that in our homes we may learn to wait upon You, 
make us sensitive to each other and our needs; 
as You give us gifts, may we freely share them with others. 
Lord, teach us to be gracious and generous. 
Lord with Your Presence, change us and we shall be changed.

Lord may the glory of Your presence transform lives that are dull and drab.
We pray that all dis-spirited people may discover Your Spirit in their lives.

We bring before you all who are down and distressed,
all who are weak and discouraged, for Your uplifting.
We pray for friends and loved ones who are struggling at this time, who are ill or weary.
We pray for individuals and families we love:
… and so many more known in their need to You

Lord with Your Presence, change us and we shall be changed.

We give thanks that when we face death, we have hope;
You renew us by Your spirit and restore us in Your love.
We pray for all who have passed through death and rejoice in
life eternal.
Lord with Your Presence, change us and we shall be changed.

/adapted David Adam “Glimpses of glory” p. 76-77

We offer to You the Prayer that Jesus taught us

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trail and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours,
Now and forever AMEN

Adapted slightly from VU 914a

Hymn: Live, “Shall We Gather at the River”                 VU 710

(Or if leading into communion
 “When at This Table” MV 199)


Return to home and work
With a new vision of what life is intended to be.
We have seen the Holy City of God 
where temples are unnecessary, and God is Light.
Our names are written in the book of life and the peace of God rules in our hearts.
Live with one accord as Jesus’ disciples willing to risk all in faithful obedience
Let all people praise You.
Let the ends of the earth serve you  AMEN

Adapted Bayler “Refreshing Rains of the Living Word” p. 87 

God’s grace go with us,
Christ’s goodness be about us,
The Spirit’s guidance lead us,
To walk in the way of peace,

And the blessing of God who gives us 
Love, Hope, and  Liberation
be with us all. 

/adapted from Adams “Traces …” p. 107 .

Postlude: David Rogers