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Trinity United Church
November 8, 2020
Remembrance and Communion
Proper 27  


Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.    

Prelude: Welcome Home (by request) CLICK HERE for video. 

Call to Worship and Prayer of Approach
Our help is in God, who made heaven and earth.
Even those things that are hidden from memory,
or are too deep for words,
are not beyond God’s compassion.
God knows us completely, and bestows peace.
Come, let us worship.  

Holy One,
At this time of year when we remember,
our thoughts turn to the trauma, violence, fear and pain of war. Come gently into our worship this day
that we may know your peace –
not the peace of violence ignored, and fear repressed, but the true peace of evil confronted,
injustice exposed, and reconciliation achieved.
We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.  

Hymn “Though Ancient Walls”     VU 691  
CLICK HERE for video.

Lest We Forget  

“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,     
    That mark our place; and in the sky     
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.  

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,     
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,         
      In Flanders fields.  

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw     
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.     
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow         
    In Flanders fields.  

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

Last Post/Silence/Reveille - CLICK HERE to listen.

Grant eternal rest unto them, O God.
    May their souls through your mercy rest in peace.  


Telling our Ancient Story

"We Will Serve; We Will Obey!"  CLICK HERE for video.   

Our story today is based on Joshua 24.  

After conquering the Promised Lands, Joshua gathered the people together and reminded them of their story, the covenant with God, and the consequences of breaking their side of the Covenant:  

Their most ancient ancestors had lived beyond the Euphrates, God brought Abraham and Sarah to the land of the Canaanites and made their descendants many. God lead them to Egypt during a great famine where they were enslaved. God sent them Moses and Miriam who brought them out of slavery into the wilderness. God gave them a law and commandments which they were quick to break. So the people wandered with Moses for 40 years in the wilderness. Moses and Miriam died and Joshua lead the people into the Promised Land, conquering as they went. Now, the conquest was over and the People of Israel were able to settle in peace.  

Joshua reminded them that this peace, and their new found comfort were part of God's Covenant.  

And the people said, We will serve; we will obey!  

Joshua reminded the people that there would be consequences if they did not keep their part of God's Covenant with them.  

And the people said, We will serve; we will obey!  

Joshua told the people that if they wanted to serve and obey foreign gods, now was the time to turn away and live with foreign peoples and their Gods.  

And the people said, We will serve; we will obey!  

Joshua said to the people, "Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve God in sincerity and faithfulness. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then God will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good."  

And the people said, We will serve; we will obey!  

We are also reminded that to "revere the Lord and serve God" means to care for our neighbour as ourselves, especially our neighbours who are most vulnerable.  

And the people said, We will serve; we will obey!  

Hymn “God of the Bible” MV 28   
for video.

Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-181

3 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.  

Message       CLICK HERE for video
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.  

Joshua (and Judges) were written by the folk who wrote Deuteronomy, hundreds of years after the events they record. As we heard two weeks ago, the people who wrote Deuteronomy were trying to explain why the Exile happened. If God had made a promise that the people would live in the Promised Land forever and ever, and if God had promised that David's family would reign in the Promised Land forever and ever, why was Jerusalem sacked, why was the temple razed to the ground, why were the people scattered to the corners of the earth?  

Today, we hear Joshua, in the book of Joshua being REALLY clear: if you break the covenant,  God "will turn and do you harm and consume you after having done you good."  

Emphasized by the prophets, who also inform the authors of Deuteronomy, is that our side of the covenant is to serve God by serving the most vulnerable among us, usually expressed as widows, orphans, lepers, aliens, refugees, and migrants.  

The point of Deuteronomy is NOT that God punishes wrong doers, or those who break the covenant.  

The point of Deuteronomy is that God continues to keep the covenant even when we don't, and that means there needs to be reconciliation, and restitution.  

When we fail to serve the most vulnerable among us, there are consequences. God isn't punishing us, it simply isn't possible to live in peace, harmony and justice when we fail to serve our neighbour. 

Exile is the consequence of a failure to care for our most vulnerable neighbours.  

Fortunately, God is always working toward reconciliation and restitution. Unfortunately, we tend to work in the opposite direction.  

For the Israelites to return from exile some things need to take place: A generation that lived the old way needs to die, so that a new way can be lived. The Israelites must come to terms with what it means to serve and obey God. They rewrite their core narrative; the scriptures themselves are rewritten with new meaning.  

I would position us, the Church in 2020, in the very midst of a 21st Century Exile. In fact, I would put Western Culture in the midst of exile.  

The way were used to be church, failed to care for some of our neighbours, the way we are called to care for them. That's the "Age that Was;" The "good old days" of Christian Empire, what we used to call "Christendom." When all our neighbours were Christian, and if they weren't they were quiet about it. We had 1,000 children in Sunday School. The Church was the cultural center. Stores closed on Sunday and there were certainly no Sunday sports.  

It was an age of displacing Indigenous peoples.
It was an age of religious intolerance of other faiths.
It was an age of residential schools.
It was an age of misogyny and racism, homophobia and trans phobia.  

We no longer live in that age.  

Our numbers, both demographic and financial have been on the decline for decades. Our people are scattered. We are literally losing our temples and land - how many camps and churches have been sold in the last 20 years?  

We are in the middle of exile and just starting to get a glimpse of what the promise beyond exile might look like.  

Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it."  

In exile, our consciousness has to change.  

To get to post exile, we need to face what brought us into exile: We need to rewrite our Christian story without Colonialism. We need to rewrite our Christian story without white supremacy and misogyny. We need to rewrite our Christian story without exploiting people, land and resources. We need to rewrite our Christian story so that it is welcoming and affirming of diversity, instead of suspicious and condemning of it.  

We need to rewrite our Christian story so as to make meaning without demeaning others.  

Our return from exile requires love of neighbour on a different scale than we have ever known before.  

Both, the story about wilderness, and the story about exile inform us that It might be necessary for a generation to die before the church can truly return from exile.  

The good news according to those who wrote Deuteronomy, and Joshua, is that God is already at work.
God has been at work all along.
God is already shaping return from exile in us and we can trust God's work.  

That part of the story, never changes.
God is with us, we are not alone. We can trust in God.  

May we trust.
May we have hope.
May we encourage one another.


Special Music


The Great Thanksgiving

Communion Hymn “As We Gather at Your Table” VU 457     
for video.

 The difference between “agape” and “communion” is one of intention. If you intend this meal to be communion, and you follow along with my instructions and prayers, it is communion.  

We are members of a vast and wondrous creation:
13.8 billion years of cosmic creation from the first majestic flaring forth to the next humble heartbeat.
It is an inconceivably diverse creation:
from great hot stars to tiny interdependent cells,
from galaxies millions of light years across to a tree filled with insects, birds, and rodents,
from water that washes and cleanses to storms that rend and destroy,
from flame that warms and cooks to raging conflagrations that consume and lay waste,
from the fearful dark of loneliness to the overwhelming joy of companionship on the journey,
from the simplicity of a child’s smile to the mystery of new beginning.
God is with us.
We live in promise and abundance.
We may seek just and right relationship.
For all this and with all of that creation, we sing praise:  

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory,
Hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, hosanna in the highest.  

I invite you to hold up whatever you are consuming for bread.  

We remember how on a road in the midst of grief, fear and guilt two friends met a stranger. Sharing with the stranger warmed their hearts. And in the breaking of the bread, they recognized the living Christ. May we too recognize the living Christ among friends and strangers.  

I invite you to hold up whatever you are consuming for wine.  

We remember how the disciples gathered doubting, estranged and suspicious, only to have the Holy Spirit, promised by God, poured out on them like so much wine. May we too receive the Holy Spirit, be filled with it, to receive what we need to spread the good news to all we meet.  

We remember that we are not separate from creation; we are not separate from you story, O God. We are one in you, in Christ and in creation. We offer our whole selves up to you and your story as we remember the mystery of our faith:  

Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again!  

I invite you to hold your hands over your elements.  

Let us pray together:
God of 13 point 8 billion years of creation,
God of slow evolving change,
God of billions of planets and billions of stars and billions of systems, galaxies and clusters of galaxies,
remind us of your presence in us and in these gifts,
that we might receive the strength, hope, courage and faith
to proclaim justice and right relationship for all your great and wondrous creation.  

From the very beginning to the very end
God is Good!
All the time!
And the people said:

The Disciples’ Prayer

The bread of new life.The cup of promise.   

Prayer after Communion

Holy One, we thank you that you have called your people from east and west, north and south to feast at the table of Jesus Christ.
Assure in us that our faith is sufficient.
And may the faith be revealed to all the world through our words and actions.
May we prove to be worthy followers of Christ, in whose name we pray.


Hymn “I Feel the Winds of God” VU 625
CLICK HERE for video.

Commissioning and Benediction

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Go forth, for the love of God is yours to share, the peace of Christ is yours to extend, and the power of the Holy Spirit is yours to offer.



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