Your participation with us today is truly a blessing.
Call to Worship:
We’ve all, I’m sure, had the experience of remembering a song from our past and having it stick in our minds for days. For me this often occurs with hymns that we sang regularly in the ‘50s and ‘60s but not so often any more—possibly because we have replaced them with more up-to-date hymns delivering a similar message. For the past couple of weeks my thoughts have been invaded by “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult”, and I’ve come to the decision that it would make a suitable Call to Worship this morning—either sung or read.
"Jesus Calls Us" VU 562
1 Jesus calls us o'er the tumult
of our life's wild, restless sea,
by day his clear voice sounding,
saying "Christian, follow me."
2 Long ago apostles heard it
by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and toil and kindred,
leaving all for Jesus’ sake.
3 Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world's golden store,
from each idol that would keep us,
saying "Christian, love me more."
4 In our joys and in our sorrows,
days of toil and hours of ease,
still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
"Christian, love me more than these."
5 Jesus calls us; by thy mercies,
Savior, may we hear thy call,
give our hearts to your obedience,
serve and love you best of all.
Cecil Frances Humphries Alexander (b. Redcross, County Wicklow, Ireland, 1818; d. Londonderry, Ireland, 1895)
Acknowledgement of Territory
We are now seeing first-hand the danger that can be caused by a pathogen spreading in a population that has had no previous exposure and therefore no chance to build immunity. This has happened before, with devastating consequences to the people of Canada’s First Nations.
West Coast Smallpox Mask The smallpox virus, which came not so much as waves but as tsunamis, decimated the coastal First Nation population not once, but at least twice.
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.
The world rushes on, but for a few minutes we can take the time to linger by still waters, to pause beneath an empty cross, to remember the gift of life you, holy God, place in our hands. Help us be present in this time as we celebrate the love we know through you and through each other. Amen
Nora Vedress, Calvary U.C., Prince Albert, Sask. (Adapted)
The Lectionary for today provides four readings. I will follow each with some short comments and a reference to one of the suggested hymns for those of us who miss that important part of our regular services. The four readings are all fairly theological in content and I invite you to seek their application in today’s diverse society.
First Reading: Acts 17:22-31 (NRSV)
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said,
“Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’
What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For
‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we too are his offspring.’
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Comments: Paul grew up in Tarsus which was a Greco-Roman “university town” and he was well versed in Greek philosophy. Athens, of course, was the home of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, so Paul was in his element. Here he talks of an imminent God “in whom we live and move and have our being”. He teaches that the Christian God is same God that is the inspiration behind all religious traditions and that we are all God’s children.
Suggested Hymn: VU 264 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
Second Reading: Psalm 66:8-20 (NRSV)
Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.
Comments: At the time the Psalms were written, the common belief was that God was the overall Judge putting each of us to the test. This psalm implies that the evils that happen to us and our families are all are own fault. The good news is that if we live according to God’s presence in our lives, then we will earn God’s steadfast love.
Suggested Hymn: VU 343 “I Love to Tell the Story”
Click here to listen with words.
Third Reading: 1 Peter 3:13-22 (NRSV)
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Comments: In the same way that Paul was able to adapt his teaching to the people of Athens, we need to learn to control our religious enthusiasm and remain calm and respectful. I am reminded of Dr. Henry and her daily admonition to be kind and calm with each other—even when we perceive someone is not following her orders. The epistle leaves us with a quandary: how could our suffering be God’s will when Jesus teaches that it is God’s will that we live abundantly?
Suggested Hymn: VU 286 “If You Will Trust in God to Guide You”
Fourth Reading: John 14:15-21 (NRSV)
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Comments: Love is central to all of Jesus’ teaching. The gift of the Holy Spirit is with us always. This is particularly good news for all of us as we work to remain faithful in our secular world.
Suggested Hymn: VU 333 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
Click here to listen with words.
Minute for Mission: May 17
Wampum-Neechi Program 2019
Our gifts for Mission & Service make the Wampum-Neechi program at Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario, possible. This week-long program brings together 10 Indigenous and 10 nonIndigenous youth (ages 12–14) for six days in the summer. They forge new friendships across cultures, enjoy summer days together, and learn about Indigenous (Haudenosaunee and Cree) history and cultural values. The project’s vision is for these young people to be continually engaged in activities, workshops, and play—all in a creative, learning-enriched, fun, and safe environment. Wampum-Neechi creates a positive space for friendships to grow, which in turn fosters healthy dialogue, reconciliation, and relationship-building between Indigenous and nonIndigenous people. The adventure includes these activities:
a trip to Kana:ta Village, a cultural centre‚ spending the day in Six Nations of the Grand River‚ learning Haudenosaunee and Cree songs‚ learning about the church’s role in residential schools and ongoing work toward reparations, healing, and reconciliation‚ rafting on the Grand River, swimming in the pool at Five Oaks, and learning traditional arts, crafts, and games.
If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.
Prayers of the People:
In the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle of the World Council of Churches this week we pray for the peoples of the Indian Ocean Islands: Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
In our own Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada we pray for the The Longhouse Council of Native Ministry in Vancouver, Trinity Memorial UC in Abbotsford, Trinity UC in Creston, Trinity UC in Merritt and Trinity UC in Nanaimo.
We are aware of the fear and anxiety of those who live in COVID-19 stricken areas of our world.
We express our shock at the number of deaths and our sympathy to bereaved family members.
We feel the horror of vulnerable and defenseless seniors.
We know the anger and despair that comes from our sense of helplessness.
Jesus calls us o’er the tumult . . .
We stand beside those who have lost their job.
We empathize with those whose dreams have crumbled to dust. We encourage people to follow the orders of our Public Health Care experts.
We express our concern for the lack of key medical supplies.
We express our love and compassion for those who are sick.
We speak out for the homeless who too often get overlooked in a crisis.
We comfort the bereaved and stay in community with them.
We bring those we know, those we love, before God.
Pastoral Prayers to Share (Adapted)
(time of silent reflection)
We continue in pray with words Jesus gave to all of his disciples, knowing that you are our Mother, and you are
Now let us answer the call:
wherever God sends us,
wherever people need us,
wherever God cries.