Trinity United Church
Sunday, September 12, 2021
“Connection not Perfection”
Please visit our YouTube channel to view this worship service, CLICK HERE for video.
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.
There will be communion today.
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
Call to Worship
Lady Wisdom cries out to us.
She cries out in the streets,
in the gateways and the crossroads.
Lady Wisdom raises her voice
She calls to scoffers,
she calls to the faithful,
She calls to the ignorant and the enlightened.
She calls to us.
Lady Wisdoms speaks to our hearts
and rebukes us to hear
Lady Wisdom stretches out her hand
to us and offers us counsel
May we receive her with open hearts and minds.
Prayer of Approach
Holy Mystery, Wisdom was there with you in the beginning as you created each thing.
She danced and delighted in your presence and in the creation you lovingly made.
Open our ears to hear her with us now in this time of worship.
May we recognize her authority, hear her reproof, and celebrate her counsel. Amen.
Hymn: “Bring Many Names” VU 268
We Rest in a Reconciling Love: a guided meditation
I invite you to take a deep breath and relax, maybe close your eyes. We are going to take a minute to rest in God’s reconciling love.
There may have been a moment in the last day or week when you were short with someone, angry, unkind, or maybe selfish. Maybe you have a bundle of less than charitable moments. Set that bundle aside, give that burden to God, let it go. God’s love is unconditional, steadfast, and eternal. And for now, relax as much as you can, letting the pew hold your weight, let yourself feel heavy where you sit. Breathing slowly, and calmly.
As you breathe and relax, imagine God’s unconditional, steadfast, and eternal love. Some may imagine it as a light; others might imagine it as warmth, or maybe tingling. For some it might feel like sitting with a close loved one. Whatever the image, hold that feeling of sitting in God’s presence; sitting in God’s unconditional, steadfast, and eternal love.
I am going to read a few words from scripture, and then we are going to sit silently in God’s love for several minutes. If you feel your thoughts are getting distracted, simply remember and repeat to yourself the words from scripture I’m about to read, and return to God’s unconditional, steadfast, and eternal love.
The scripture words are from Psalm 19, “Joy to the Heart.”
[3 minutes of silence]
Joy to the heart.
Joy to the heart.
Joy to the heart.
Thanks be to God.
WE HEAR THE WORD
Retelling Our Ancient Story “Lady Wisdom Cries Out” CLICK HERE.
I wonder if you have ever had something important to tell people, but no one would listen to you. I wonder how it made you feel that no one would listen to the important thing you had to say.
This is a story about a woman who has something important for everyone to hear.
Her name is Lady Wisdom. In Greek, her name is Sophia and in Hebrew, her name is Hohkma.
Listen! Lady Wisdom is in the street, in the marketplace and on the busiest street corners. She is at the entrance to the city gates.
Wherever there were lots of people, there was Lady wisdom calling out.
"Fools!" she says, "How long will you be foolish? How long will you make fun of important news? I want to tell you about God. But you won't listen. I want to share wise things with you, but you walk away! Listen to me. When you are afraid, God is with you. When your world is troubled, God will keep you safe."
But no one listened to her. Some people laughed. Others walked away.
"You laugh at me and you don't listen. When something bad happens, you won't know how to talk to God. If you keep ignoring me, when you need help, you won't know that God is there. When trouble comes like a whirlwind and you are distressed and anguished, you won't be able to find God."
Nobody listened to Lady Wisdom. They all just kept going in their busy lives.
So Lady Wisdom kept calling out, hoping someone would hear her.
I wonder why people don’t listen to Lady Wisdom.
I wonder why Lady Wisdom keeps talking if no one is listening.
I wonder what part of that story you liked most.
I wonder what the most important part of that story is.
I wonder what part of that story you are experiencing right now.
I wonder what part of that story could be left out.
Psalm 19 refrain 2 VU 740
3Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
This is the witness of the early church. Thanks be to God!
Hymn: “God of Grace and God of Glory” VU 686
In the market place,
in the city square
in the busy crowded places,
Wisdom calls out to us.
She calls us to attend
to God’s steadfast love and presence.
In this time of reflection,
may we make room for wisdom in our hearts.
"When panic strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently, but will not find me." Proverbs 1:27-28
I've always been fond of the verse, "When calamity comes like a whirlwind." The expression is terribly evocative. It evokes for me the beginning of the Wizard of Oz when the tornado picks up Dorothy, Toto and the house and drops them down on the other side of the rainbow, a whole new and strange world full of both terror and delight.
Calamity, distress, anguish... turning us and our world inside out and upside down.
Isn't that just how we feel when we lose someone we love, or our expectations are shattered, or our hopes disappointed...
Lady Wisdom wants us to know that if we listen to her, when - not if - when calamity comes like a whirlwind, we will not be alone; we will know God is with us; we will understand God shielding and protecting us.
I'm not sure if this last year and a half feels more like one calamity after another; or one long endless calamity to which we really cannot yet see an end; or if it is a long endless calamity with lots of little calamities thrown in one after the other.
But one way or another, calamity has been upon us for a while now.
I confess, that as hard as I try, and I do try... I cannot always hear Lady Wisdom. In fact, there are some days I think a house has landed on her.
To hear Lady Wisdom, we need to set aside our business and attend. We need to notice that she is crying out for our attention.
The passage from Proverbs, Lady Wisdom chastises fools for not choosing the "fear of the Lord." I hope by now, we know that "fear" in this usage means "awe," "wonder," "astonishment," and "profound humility," not really terror. "Fear of the Lord," is shorthand for experiencing God's presence in creation, in relationship, in scripture, and in worship.
Lady Wisdom wants us to stop what we are doing once in a while and give our full attention to knowing God's presence. She wants us to let our selves feel awe, wonder, astonishment, and humility as we go about our lives. Those moments of "fear of the Lord" will nourish us in ways we cannot even imagine.
Thomas Merton was a Christian Spiritual teacher in the US, and taught countless Christians how to meditate and pray. Thomas Merton once wrote, "In Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, in the middle of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I was theirs..."
Merton was going about his business but suddenly he notices something he hadn’t noticed before. His heart is full of love and he feels deeply, deeply connected to the people around him.
I love how similar Merton's experience is to the scene described in Proverbs: Lady Wisdom is heard in the marketplace, in the squares, at the city gates, on the busiest corner...
It isn't necessary for the world to fall silent so we can hear Lady Wisdom. Lady Wisdom is always crying out. It's about us learning to notice.
Merton's "4th and Walnut" moment is common, but we fail to notice and Lady Wisdom would cry out that our failure to notice makes us fools.
20 years ago, I was on my way from East Vancouver to North Delta to attend church one morning as a student. On the bus, there was a group of half a dozen people who ranged in age from much younger to much older than me. They were very familiar with each other. They were obviously on their way to church. And they were playing like children making a ruckus on the back of the bus. As I was getting off the bus on the corner of Scott and 92nd, I was overwhelmed with joy by their playfulness. Now, I could have just as easily been annoyed by the noise they were making and the risk of their roughhousing, but I wasn't, I was overjoyed as I got off the bus and just for a second it occurred to me that that just might be what Merton's 4th and Walnut experience was about. My heart was full of joy and gratitude. I felt deeply connected.
The difference between that moment on the corner of Scott and 92nd and any other day, was noticing.
Twenty years later, I know that sometimes I notice, and sometimes I don’t. Life is generally better when I’m noticing.
So, at the risk of being tuned out the way Lady Wisdom is ignored, I beseech you, take notice. Notice when you heart is full of joy, or love, or feeling deeply connected. Notice when wonder, awe, astonishment and deep humility shake you to your core. Notice when God is saying, I'm here, right here, right now.
In the midst of the noise.
In the midst of the busy-ness.
In the midst of calamity.
May we notice that God is with us. Amen.
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.
The Great Thanksgiving
We are members of a vast and wondrous creation:
13.7 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 waist
from the fearful dark of loneliness to the overwhelming joy of companionship on the journey
from the simplicity of 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 with all of creation we sing praise:
Sanctus: “Holy, Holy, Holy…” VU 932
Holy, Holy, Holy are you,
God of power and might;
heaven and earth are filled with your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the one who comes in your name.
Hosanna in the highest,
hosanna in the highest!
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.
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 your 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:
Memorial Acclamation: VU 933
Christ has Died;
Christ is Risen;
Christ will come, come again! (x2)
Let us pray:
God of 13.7 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 theses 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!
Great Amen: VU 933
As a child turns to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort, so we turn to you now praying the words Jesus taught us…
The Disciples’ Prayer “Our Father” VU 960
WE GO FORTH
Prayer after Communion:
Giver of Blessings, Healer of Wounds, Provider of Bread, we have received this bread and this juice in remembrance of Jesus.
May these signs of your abundant blessing teach us to trust your abiding presence in our lives, in our community and in the world.
May they nourish our bodies and our souls to seek justice, resist evil and proclaim your reign.
May they strengthen us to boldly follow the way Jesus leads us. In his name we pray. Amen.
Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision” VU 642
Commissioning and Benediction
I invite you to turn on you videos and hold your hands out in a sign of blessing…