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Trinity United Church
May 29, 2022
7th Sunday of Easter

Worship Leader: Rev David Cathcart (on leave)
Guest Worship Leader: Robert Nicolson
Music Leader: David Rogers
Scripture Reader: Linda Lund 
Lead Singer: Choir
Zoom Host/Slides:  Megan Rankin
Balcony Zoom Host: Sheri Bohorquez 
Sound Room:  David Squires
Usher: Elaine Stead


Welcome to Trinity United Church this morning. 
We continue to experiment with our services on line and your presence with us here is always a blessing regardless of what might happen.
I should also mention that the following Musical Introduction is a piano solo and no words are provided. This will happen again at the end of the service.

Prelude: VU 659 Eternal Father, Strong to Save (Instrumental only)

(Lighting of candle and bringing forth the offering.)

“O hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea.”
I asked for this particular hymn as we are living through liminal times. We see that change is happening, but we don’t know where we’re headed. We are “at sea”. However, we can be assured that God will see us through the perils of this era.

Story: I would like to begin by reading a story from the “Older Testament”. This term is sometimes now being used to describe the stories, songs, ceremonies, and so forth that make up a cultural library of our indigenous peoples which is far older than our “Old Testament” or Hebrew Scriptures.

Seagull Saves the Day
by Robert James Challenger

Grandfather pulled his hat down tight on his head to keep it from blowing away in the strong winter wind. He held tightly to the tiller of his boat as it was thrown before the storm’s waves. It had been hours since he had last seen land, and in the swirling rain and cloud, he had lost all sense of direction.

He looked at Grandson, who was huddled under a blanket in the bow of the boat, and in a tense voice said, “Looks like I’ve got us into a lot of trouble. I’ve lost my way. I don’t know if I’m sailing towards land or farther out to sea.”

Grandson replied, “I’m sure we’ll find a way if we try, Grandfather.”

Grandfather sighed and said, “It’s no use trying. There’s no way we’ll ever find our way back.”

“Well,” Grandson said, “I remember one time when I was fishing out off the point and the fog rolled in. I knew that I wasn’t far from land, but in the fog I couldn’t see which way to paddle. As I sat worrying about which way to go I heard Seagull calling to me from the beach. I just followed the sound of her call until I could see the shore again.”

“That was a good idea, but with this wind howling around our ears it is impossible to hear Seagull’s call today,” Grandfather said.

Grandson watched the whitecaps’ foam on top of the waves. He saw the wind pick up the foam and blow it high into the sky. It gave him an idea.

He said to Grandfather, “Well, if we can’t hear Seagull, maybe we can see her and follow her back to land.”
They began to look around for any sign of Seagull flying by.

Suddenly, a white cap on a nearby wave blew into the air and became a white bird. It was Seagull.She circled their boat and flew off in the opposite direction. Grandfather quickly turned the boat around and followed her. Within a couple of hours they could see the coastline again and were able to sail into the safety of the bay.

As they tied up their boat to the wharf, Grandfather said to Grandson, “Thank you. Today it was you and Seagull who taught me a lesson. I was ready to give up, but you two showed me that for every problem there’s always a solution, if I just don’t give up trying.

Acknowledgement of Territory:
We acknowledge that our church exists on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem First Nation). We thank the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm who continue to live on these lands and care for them, along with the waters and all that is above and below.

Call to Worship:
As a new day was dawning, Jesus said to his disciples, 
“Have you not caught any fish?”
“No, we have not,” came the discouraged answer.
“Then try something new, put your nets down on the 
other side of the boat,” he said.
Without questioning why, they did as he suggested and 
could not haul in the bounty of fish they caught.

The same Jesus encourages us to take a risk, try 
something new even if we have doubts or think it is 
We have come here today to explore and follow this 
new and different way, this Jesus way of doing things.

Catherine Tovell, Kilworth U.C., London, Ont.

Opening Prayer:
God of all love, thank you for calling us into relationship 
with one another and with you.
Thank you for the joys and the responsibilities that grow 
out of who we are.
In the name of the Shepherd, we ask it.
May it be so.

Richard Bott, Vancouver, B.C.

Hymn: MV 79, “Spirit, Open My Heart”

What is meant by Discernment?
As many of you are probably aware, this year several members of our Governing Team are taking a course called “From Decision Making to Discernment”. I was quite happy to take the course as I knew very little about Discernment and was anxious to learn more.

In church context it is usually defined as listening for the voice of God, but having grown up with a home address of Box 33, Essondale, B.C., I have always been a bit sceptical about people who claim to hear such a voice.

We began by looking at a number of other definitions given by various authors on the subject but I really couldn’t get a good feeling for what they were saying.

After much thought, however, I remembered a process I went through many years ago that might help.

I graduated from Port Coquitlam Secondary School back in 1965, and at that time, Schools in this District were mainly either Elementary (Grades 1 to 7) or Secondary (Grades 8 to 12).
I spent 8 of the next 9 years as a full time university student and returned as a secondary teacher in 1974. Things had changed. The post-war baby boom had hit the scene. We had a number of new “cookie cutter” elementary schools around the district and Secondary was now split in to Junior Secondary (Grades 8 to 10) and Senior Secondary (Grades 11 & 12) and there were portables all over the place.

The Junior Secondary schools used the Elementary “Cookie Cutter” and just added a second floor. By the mid 1980’s the Board identified two problems with this system.
The Elementary schools had added Kindergarten and felt that Grade 7s were really too old to be role models for Grades 3 & 4 let alone Kindergarteners, and when the board looked at the secondary dropout situation there was a significant loss happening between Grade 10 Junior Secondary and Grade 11 Senior Secondary.

There was talk of Middle Schools being a better idea but the logistics of changing the entire District organization were overwhelming.

However, two developments contributed to making the change possible. First, we continued to grow at a rate requiring new schools to be built. Second, funds became available to do seismic upgrading of older schools and engineers took one look at the cookie cutter schools and reported that it would be just as economical to replace them as to upgrade them.

The board set up a committee to look at changing to the middle school model and I was asked to sit on the committee as a Junior Secondary representative. We would meet over the next four months.
I imagined that we would look at the literature supporting Middle Schools, maybe visit some, talk to the teachers, parents and students, and then come to a consensus and make a recommendation.
You can image my surprise when at our first meeting with the Resource Person provided she said the first question we were all to consider was “What is the purpose of Public Education in Coquitlam in 1985.” We were given several handouts and asked to discuss them and report back at the next meeting.
We did this, and heading into the second month we were given a package on pedagogy including left/right brain theory, multiple intelligences, learning styles, etc. With the same instructions to discuss and report back.

Here we were halfway through the allotted time and Middle School had never even been mentioned.

As we entered our third month, I realized how important the time spent so far really was. The committee had developed a common “jargon” so we knew what each other were talking about, and we now had a common background for evaluating the Middle School system.

Basically when we looked at the research we were already at consensus that this was the way to go. The only real decision to make was whether Middle School should be 6-7-8 or 7-8-9.

That was decided by research that demonstrated many 15-year-olds go through a period of some months where they could almost be considered “certifiably insane” because of the huge changes their bodies are going through-sometimes referred to as “raging hormones”.

We recommended it would be better to place them as the younger kids with Grade 12’s acting as role models rather than having them act as role models for grades 6 and 7.

Riverside Secondary School here in Port Coquitlam was the first purpose built 9 - 12 Secondary in the District. We now have several.

Hymn: VU 567, “Will You Come and Follow Me”

Reading: The Gospel of John
This picture is from the Book of Kells.
Before I ask Ruth to read today’s scripture, I want to talk a little about the Gospel of John. I’ll admit I find this Gospel very intense. Most biblical scholars agree that John was written sometime around the year 100 CE – two generations away from the crucifixion.
In John we move a long way from the first three gospels. We shift from recounting Jesus’ daily life to abstract concepts of Light, Life and Truth. Memorable sayings are replaced with long, circuitous discussions. A large collection of short antidotes gives way to a few elaborately detailed speeches.

For example:
Mathew and Luke both open with the wonderful Christmas story of Joseph and Mary and shepherds and angels and the Magi.

Compare that with:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

In this opening verse, we are basically called to worship. These first lines may well have been a hymn, recited Sunday after Sunday in Ephesus, where many believe John lived after Jesus’ death.

John 17:20-26 (NRSV)
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. 
“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

“Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

The entire seventeenth chapter of John consists of a prayer prayed by Jesus just before his death. It is often called his High Priestly Prayer because he intercedes with God on behalf of disciples, both present and future.

We could imagine the Jesus would be very frustrated. He has tried to explain to the disciples that he is going to die and be resurrected, but they refuse to understand. They still believe that the Messiah will be a powerful military leader like King David, and do not get Jesus’ ministry at all. Moreover, the disciples are disorganized and few in numbers. You probably wouldn’t turn over any kind of project to such a group, but Jesus is leaving the future of God’s work to them—and to God. Jesus is leaving the disciples, but he is not leaving them alone. The Holy Spirit will accompany them—will strengthen them—guide them.

In the part of the prayer we just heard, Jesus prays, “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me”

With the support of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, this little group of ordinary people will change the world.
This prayer could be compared with a dying mother pleading for the child for whom she can no longer care or a father saying goodbye to a son who is going off to war. It is the cry-of-the-heart of perfect love, and it is the prayer of perfect faith. 

The disciples are about to experience great trauma at Jesus’ death. This prayer gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ concern as he prepares to leave them. Jesus knows these disciples’ weaknesses, but he also knows that God will take care of them.

Hymn: VU 603, “In Loving Partnership We Come”


Dear God, scripture confirms that we further you kingdom when we show kindness and compassion to another person. We pray that Jesus’ life and teaching may always be our example for sharing intentionally our talents, prayers, time and offerings. We humbly give our offering as an expression of our faith. Amen.

Philip Aldis, Bethel-St. Andrew’s U.C., Fitzroy Harbour, Ont.

 Prayers of the People:

To the words:
    Together we pray
We respond:
As people working with a common purpose,
we can achieve beyond our wildest dreams.
Let us pray.

We will be of one purpose as we tackle the scarcity of comfortable, affordable housing in our cities.
We will be of one purpose as we recognize the poverty that makes breakfast programs essential in schools.
We will be of one purpose as we take action to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and Covid-19 throughout the world.

We will be of one purpose as we insist on job training and regular work for those who are mentally and physically challenged.
We will be of one purpose as we affirm that world peace can be a reality.

Together we pray:
As people working with a common purpose, we can achieve beyond our wildest dreams. 

We will be of one purpose as we support the refugees who come to our shores.
We will be of one purpose as we combat the indifference to hungry children and older adults trying to feed themselves.
We will be of one purpose as we speak out against violence and harassment in the home and workplace

We will be of one purpose as we provide support for those who are sick or housebound.
We will be of one purpose as we stay beside those who are afraid of dying and those for whom the grief process seems never-ending.

Together we pray:
As people working with a common purpose, we can achieve beyond our wildest dreams.

We will be of one purpose, as we speak of the joy we experience in worshipping with others.
We will be of one purpose, as we offer a space where community members may find peace and an opportunity to work out their beliefs.
We will be of one purpose, as we bring those less fortunate together to share food and support each Wednesday.

We will be of one purpose, as we worship, study, and take action with Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and those of other denominations.
We will be of one purpose, as we worship, study, and take action with Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, and those of other faiths. 

Together we pray:
As people working with a common purpose, we can achieve beyond our wildest dreams.

And we continue in prayer with the words that Jesus taught us.

Beginning... Our Mother, 
Our Father, who art in heaven,
        hallowed by thy name,
        thy kingdom come,
        thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
    And forgive us our trespasses,
        as we forgive those who trespass
against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil:
    For thine is the kingdom, the power, 
        and the glory
    for ever and ever. 

Hymn: VU 642: “Be Thou My Vision”

I would invite you to please turn on your cameras and select gallery view and please remain muted for the moment.

This is a new book by Brian Arthur Brown published in anticipation of the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the United Church in 2025.I would like to read a short selection from it before we close:

“Despite the appearances of many seniors on Sunday mornings, we need to remind ourselves that most of them are of a generation just older than the boomers, many of whom have not turned up yet, but who surely will. Some congregations report that his “return” has already begun, but in just a few short years a massive generation of boomers may be looking for new life in a second stage of retirement, and their beginning in our Christian education programs of the 1950s and 60s connects most of them directly to The United Church of Canada. Born between 1946 and 1966, retiring boomers need and will ultimately want involvement, commitment, and meaningful activities beyond visits to the retirement ghettos of Florida and Arizona. When they tire of endless golf and sitting in hot tubs down south, healthy people in their 80s are sometimes the most at home in church. Most Boomers were ready for Sunday school by the mid 1950’s and many began trickling back to church around 2020.Their numbers should rise steadily through 2025 and beyond. They were with us for ten or 15 years as juniors in their childhood and may return for a similar stint as seniors.
    “This positive development in mainline church life is now also foreseen by church sociologists in the U.S., Scandinavia (especially Finland), and elsewhere. Boomers who got their Christian education in churches like ours are reaching their 70s and early 80s and are slowly but surely coming back to church in those countries as well.”   Good news indeed.

Commissioning and Benediction:
We came this day to have our thirst satisfied. As we leave this extraordinary time to return to the world outside this oasis, we take with us God’s love, God’s support, and God’s encouragement. Let us share it with all we encounter, one cup at a time. Amen.

Sheryl McLeod, Admaston P.C., Ont.

Postlude: VU 675, "Will Your Anchor Hold" (Instrumental only)