Trinity United Church
May 23, 2021
“Connection not Perfection”
View the livestream on the service recorded on Sunday, May 23, CLICK HERE.
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.
Acknowledgement of Territory
For tens of thousands of years, the lands on which we live, work and worship, have been occupied by indigenous peoples.
Much of what we know as the North West Coast of North America was occupied by the Coast Salish Peoples. 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. The work of reconciliation is daunting. The work of reconciliation will not be ours to complete, but neither is it ours to abandon.
We remember these words from the Apostle Paul, “[The gift of a New Creation] is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting [our] trespasses against [us], and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.
Prelude/ Lighting of the Christ Candle: “Welcome Home Pentecost” video. CLICK HERE for video.
Call to Worship and Opening Prayer [a separate slide for each invocation]
We fill our being with your presence, O God.
[Pause. Take a deep breath and let it go]
We feel your spirit in us.
[Pause. Take a deep breath and let it go]
We live in your life-giving companionship.
[Pause. Take a deep breath and let it go]
We know your aliveness through us.
[Pause. Take a deep breath and let it go]
We welcome your being here. Amen.
Hymn: “She Comes Sailing on the Wind” VU 380
Prayer of Reconciliation and Affirmation of Faith
Holy and Merciful God,
we wait impatiently for your spirit.
We do not know how to pray
or reveal your word to the world.
While we wait, we sow division,
nurture injustice, harbor resentment,
and worship independence.
We value nationalism, racism, and classism.
Teach us justice, kindness and humility.
Help us to trust that your Spirit of truth
will show us all things
and grant us courage and peace.
In the name of the one who sends the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.
People of God,
The spirit of truth has come upon us.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit,
we are forgiven, reconciled and made new.
Thanks be to God!
WE HEAR THE WORD
Retelling Our Ancient Story: “Filled with the Spirit”
Every time I say a conjugation of the verb “to wait” we will take a deep breath and let it go.
Jesus’ friends were waiting.
They were praying and waiting.
Jesus had promised them that a special gift would come. They just had to wait.
When would this happen?
They wondered. They prayed. They waited.
Soon it was time for the joyful spring festival. Many people from far away came to Jerusalem to celebrate. This was a time to say “Thank you, God, for the new wheat that had grown in the fields. Now we can make more delicious bread to eat.”
Jesus’ friends celebrated too. They gathered together in a house in Jerusalem. And there they waited.
They sang songs. They told stories of Jesus. They prayed. And they waited.
They waited…and waited…and waited…
Suddenly everyone stopped. They felt something happening, from the top of their heads to the tip of their toes. (Pick up the red material and sweep it over the children as you speak.) It was like the sound of wind rushing through the room. It was as if the wind was whirling and whistling around them. It was as if the wind was roaring and bellowing. Everywhere, everything, everybody was touched by the wind. It was all around them. And the room was filled with bright flashing colours!
Everyone started talking at once. (Option: hand out streamers to each child and invite them to wave them after each statement.)
“God is with us,” they shouted.
“We can feel God’s love.”
“We are not alone.”
“We can feel God’s Spirit.”
Everyone became very excited. They rushed out into the streets of Jerusalem. “Listen! Listen, everyone! God is with us.”
When I say the word “Spirit” you shake your spirit shakers!
The people they ran into on the street heard them speaking. And you know what? They were speaking in all the different languages in the world! People on the streets were from everywhere and each of them could hear Jesus’ friends speaking in their own language!
Some people said they were all drunk.
But Peter said, “No, we aren’t drunk. This is the Holy Spirit. It is the same spirit that was there in the beginning of creation. It is the same spirit that was with Moses in the wilderness. It is the same spirit that the Prophets spoke of in Exile. It is the same spirit that baptized Jesus. It is the Spirit of God!”
It was an exciting wonderful time! And this became a very special day. It is now the day that many churches celebrate the birthday of the church. Happy birthday to the church! (Wave streamers again.)
Hymn: “There’s a Spirit in the Air” VU 582
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
This is the witness of the early church. Thanks be to God!
Holy, sacred, Spirit,
Come to us again.
As you came long ago,
inspiring, equipping, confusing, astonishing…
…come to us now.
As we reflect on the holy word:
fill our ears,
fill our hearts,
fill our lives with your transforming presence.
The first time I passed a kidney stone some 20 plus year ago, a woman from my congregation came to me the following Sunday and said she’d passed 5 kidney stones, and given birth 3 times and she wished to God it had been the other way around.
While I have never given birth myself, “groaning with labour pains” is an evocative image to me. Especially after this last year.
When I hear Paul talk about “groaning with labour pains,” and “we ourselves... groan inwardly while we wait," I have a visceral response. I can feel that groaning in my own body, as I'm sure, many of you might. Either because you have given birth, or because you've experienced that kind of extreme physical pain.
The pain Paul is describing is in escapable. It doesn't matter what position you sit or lie in. it doesn't matter if you stand or walk about. The pain is persistent. Only the best drugs curb the edge, and sometimes even the drugs can't cut the ache.
And there are times when the pain feels like it will never end. Or that the end of the pain will only come with your end, or the end of the world itself. It can feel like there will never be a future without the ache. At least, we can't see it. Paul says, a hope that is seen isn't really hope. That future is closed to us.
And the deep ache, that is centered around our core, radiates out and affects our entire body. Our limbs go limp, we lose control of our hands and feet. And our mouths... the things that can come out of our mouths when we are in that kind of inescapable pain.
We might lose continence... all control of our bowls and bladders.
And I know, that I no longer cared that a thousand doctors, nurses, orderlies, students and their cousins were examining my nether parts. All shame, all dignity was gone. I just wanted the pain to end. The pain is so great that it eclipses everything else.
I don't know about labour pain, but I do know about waiting in agony for something to pass. And I trust that you do, too. We have all waited in agony for something to pass.
Paul is identifying labour pains with gross injustices his fledgling community of faith is experiencing. He calls them "saints." All followers of Jesus are "saints" for Paul. And as Paul is addressing the Romans, he himself is imprisoned, and waiting for his own execution. He is taking strength in remember the persecution of Christ. But he also witnesses the persecution of the poor and the marginalized people of the Roman Empire.
And witnessing all this injustice contributes to these labour pains: pain that is inescapable, unending, and pervasive, rendering those who feel the pain helpless.
It is a good thing the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
There is so much happening in our world today that makes me groan internally while we wait for the coming of God's Reign.
Palestine and Israel.
A retired judge, arrested and handcuffed for the crime of "walking while black" here in Vancouver.
This is the pain of mothers in the Black Lives Matters movement.
Anti-vaxers/Anti-maskers reveling in ignorance.
The GOP, Conservatives in Canada, who are so deeply self-interested, they spin truth to serve themselves.
When we treat poverty, homelessness, mental illness and addiction like crimes rather than societal illnesses. Statistically we know this and yet we continue to treat them like crimes.
The intergenerational pain of residential schools.
When humans are as self-serving and ignorant as we tend to be... Alberta keeps voting conservatives in... I don't see the hope. When we continue to make the same decisions we have always made. I don't see the hope.
But Paul would tell us... Hope that is seen, isn't hope.
and then he calls us to wait with patience.
He doesn't leave us there. "There there, be patient." He doesn't leave us there. His next line is, "...The Spirit helps us in our weakness."
Thanks be to God.
It isn't in me to continue to bear this pain on my own. It certainly isn't in us to bear this pain on our own. And it isn't in us to make the changes that need to be made.
We will cling to our racism.
We will cling to our homophobia.
We will cling to our classism and sense of privilege and entitlement.
We will cling to our misogyny.
We will cling to our self-righteousness.
"We do not even know how to pray as we ought." says Paul, "We do not even know how to pray as we ought."
We wont' let go of our pain, because it is the only thing we have ever known. We've always done it this way.
Thank God, the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
Thank God, the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Not our will. The will of God. Thank God.
The Spirit intercedes for us according to what is right.
As we wait, groaning inwardly, for the injustices,
as we wait, groaning inwardly for our complicit-ness in injustice,
as we wait, in our not knowing how to pray as we ought,
may the Holy Spirit intercede for us
with sighs too deep for words.
May the Spirit intercede for the saints according to the will of God,
And transform our hearts.
That the unseen hope might be born.
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.
God of all Bounty,
we thank you for the abundance you have created.
Bless the gifts we bring,
through pre-authorized remittance
and our weekly offerings.
Make these gifts great,
and bless those who will be shown
your deeds of power through them.
In the name of the one you send, we pray. Amen
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
We continue in prayer for our community and the world.
In gratitude, Holy One, we pray:
For diverse peoples in every land.
We are grateful for different cultures,
different culinary practices,
ways of loving, and being,
all ways of expressing your vastness and greatness.
For diversity, we thank you.
We thank you for those who witness to your presence in the world:
Those who reveal your word
through acts of justice, and words of kindness,
who walk with compassionate humility.
We pray for those who are estranged from the church,
because the church has been less that it is called to be.
We pray for a world, for communities, for families torn by violence,
for leaders and protesters,
dissidents and visionaries.
For dictators and peacemakers.
We pray for the earth and our relationship to it.
For all creatures great and small.
For waters, and glaciers, desserts and old growth forests.
We pray for victims of injustice,
for those who are underemployed or under paid;
for those living on the streets of our cities;
for everyone living with addiction and mental illness.
We pray for our community of faith:
For those who worship every week,
and those who are feeling isolated,
For the young and the old;
for newcomers and long-familiar faces;
for those who are seeking to know you better.
We pray for the friends and family of Marlene Larter, for Joyce, Bart, Ria, Fay, Bob, Dawn, Brian, Rick, Rita, Vivian, Donna, Diana, Olga, Gladys, Peggy, and so many more.
We pray for India, Mayanmar, China, Ethiopia.
We pray for Palestinians and Israelis
We pray for all refugees and migrants.
We pray for indigenous peoples around the world
and for a spirit of reconciliation
that moves our hearts
towards healthier relationship.
Grateful for the Spirit that moves among us, we pray.
And now we will join together to say a paraphrase of the words Jesus taught us:
A Paraphrase of the Disciples’ Prayer VU 916
WE GO FORTH
Hymn: “Spirit God, Be Our Breath” MV 150
Commissioning and Benediction
David will play our postlude. After the postlude I will send us out into breakout rooms.