Trinity United Church
Sept 19, 2021
“Connection not Perfection”
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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
CLICK HERE for “Welcome Home Fall 2021” video
Call to Worship
Responding to God’s call,
we gather to worship.
Responding to God’s call,
we gather to work.
Responding to God’s call,
we gather to pray.
Responding to God’s call,
we celebrate our history,
toil for God’s purpose
and look toward the future.
Responding to God’s call,
we follow Christ’s vision.
Prayer of Approach
Holy One, in this time of worship,
send us a spirit of understanding and wisdom.
May our hearts be filled with gratitude and wonder
for all we have received,
and may we respond graciously.
In the name of the one who lives and dies and comes again,
we pray. Amen.
Hymn: “Come and Seek the Ways of Wisdom” MV 10
Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
I invite you to make yourself comfortable as we prepare to sit in God’s reconciling love for a few minutes.
Draw your attention to your breath. There is no need to manipulate or control your breath, just be aware of it. And let your body be heavy on the pew. Trust the pew to hold your weight. You may need to consciously set aside any burdens that you are carrying, any worries, any feelings of guilt, any resentments. Simply hand those burdens over to God for the next few minutes. Trust God to hold them for you. And relax as much as you can.
Try to imagine God’s unconditional, steadfast, eternal love. However you imagine God’s love is just fine. Some sense a bright light, some sense warmth or tingling, or simply feeling like you are in the presence of someone you love. However you experience God’s unconditional, steadfast, eternal love is just fine.
I am going to read a few words from scripture and we will sit in a few minutes of silence in God’s reconciling love. If you feel you are getting distracted, or you have busy thoughts going through your head, simply repeat silently to yourself the words from scripture and return to God’s unconditional, steadfast, eternal love.
Psalm 1:3, “like trees planted by streams of water.”
[3 minutes of silence]
Thanks be to God.
WE HEAR THE WORD
Retelling Our Ancient Story: “Jesus Teaches the Disciples”
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I wonder if you have ever tried to teach something that was hard to understand
I wonder if you have ever tried to explain something to someone and they didn't understand what you were saying.
In today's story, Jesus tries to teach his disciples some things but his disciples don't get it.
Jesus and his disciples were passing though Galilee. Jesus didn't want anyone to know because he was teaching his disciples, saying, "I will be betrayed and handed over to the soldiers. They will kill me, and three days after I've been killed, I will rise again. But the disciples didn't understand what Jesus was saying and were afraid to ask him what he meant.
They came to Capernaum. When they were alone, Jesus asked the disciples, "What were you arguing about along the way?" The disciples were silent because along the way, they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.
Jesus sat down, called the disciples to him and said, "Whoever wants to be first, must be last of all and servant of all."
Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking the child into his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me, but God who sent me."
I wonder what the most important part of that story was.
I wonder what part you liked the most
I wonder what part could have been left out
I wonder which part of the story you are experiencing right now
Psalm 1 VU 724
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
4Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded
This is the witness of the early church. Thanks be to God!
Hymn: “Like a Child” VU 366
Holy One, in our conceit,
we associate wisdom with age,
and yet today Jesus turns the tables on us.
The first are last and the last first.
Open our hearts
to the wisdom of the child.
Open our ears
to hear what we don't want to hear.
Open our lips
to proclaim a difficult message.
In the name of the one you sent,
we pray. Amen.
We are coming into the end of Year B of the lectionary. We have been listening to the Gospel of Mark and a number of Wisdom texts, which, is wonderful, because we all know something about the disciples as described by Mark. The disciples according to Mark are ANYTHING but wise.
Mark's disciples don't get it. They always give Jesus the wrong answer. They never understand the teachings. Jesus will say something that is clear to the rest of us and in the very next scene, the disciples will behave in a way that contradicts what Jesus just taught. If we end reading the Gospel where the original author of the Gospel of Mark stopped writing, the disciples will witness the empty tomb and run away in fear, telling no one. There is no redemption for Peter after he denied Jesus three times.
Mark did not like the disciples, and his description of them makes them seem dumb as posts.
Today's lection from Mark is so typical of Mark's disciples. Not only do they not understand Jesus' teaching, they are afraid to ask what he meant. Jesus has just taught them about up and coming humiliating death, and next thing we know, they are arguing about which one of them is the greatest.
Why would Mark be so down on the disciples?
Do we remember that there is conflict between Peter and Paul?
Peter is the "leader" of the "original disciples." Then there is Paul, Johnny come lately. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Paul starts out persecuting the followers of Jesus... namely Peter and his bunch, but then he has a vision and a change of heart.
Acts and Paul's letters record some conflict between Paul and the "Peter camp." Paul never knew Jesus in person, and yet proclaims the Risen Christ.
Peter was a Jewish Fisherman. While Paul, also Jewish, was a highly educated Roman Citizen, and Pharisee.
Many scholars suspect that Mark was a student of Paul's and so the "original disciples" get a hard wrap in Mark's Gospel. But there is more to it than that.
You might remember several weeks ago, I pointed out that we were coming to a part of the lectionary that is associated with Wisdom literature. I believe Paul's letters make the most sense if understood within the Wisdom Tradition.
The Wisdom tradition takes the experience of God very seriously. Paul refers many times to his own experience of the Resurrected Christ on the Road to Damascus, and also calls his communities to remember their experience of the Living Christ among them.
You may remember last week, Lady wisdom reminding us "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And that "fear" isn't terror, but rather "awe," "humility," "astonishment," and "wonder." "Awe and Wonder" are the beginning of the wisdom, Lady Wisdom is talking about. That is a wisdom that is an experience of God.
I think it is helpful to remember when we are reading Mark that as a student of Paul's some of Paul's wisdom tradition rubbed off on Mark's Gospel.
So, Jesus places a child before his arrogant disciples who have just been arguing over which of them is the greatest. And Jesus takes that child in his arms and says, "Whoever receives one such child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me, but God who sent me."
On the one hand, Children were frequently undervalued in the first century, often as marginalized as women or foreigners, so Jesus is demonstrating preference for "one of the least of these." This is a common theme in the gospels.
But I also have to wonder if there is also hint of wisdom tradition shining through here.
Children are favoured by Jesus, because they are more capable of experiencing wonder and awe. We welcome Christ when we welcome the wonder and awe to which children have so much access. Some of us experience wonder and awe, just by being in the presence of an infant! But there is also the young child's capacity to be amazed by everything.
That is a legitimate path of wisdom for which grown ups often don't have time.
Now, indeed, in typical Mark fashion, within the next 30 verse of his Gospel, the disciples will try turning away the little children and Jesus will bless them. And his message will change slightly: "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."
If we are not able to experience wonder and awe like a child, we will not be able to receive the Kingdom of God, Not because God is keeping us out, but because the Kingdom of God is no end of wonder and awe!
May we draw near to God, that God may draw near to us.
may we seek wisdom and understanding in all things.
And may we harvest the good fruits sown in peace.
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.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
Defender of the oppressed and the orphan, we pray for all children in our nation and our world who suffer from poverty, injustice and fear.
We pray for children who are runaways, homeless, in institutions or jails,
We pray for children who do not have enough to eat.
We pray for babies born at risk, for children who are sick and for those who lack proper health care, especially pregnant teenagers,
We pray for children who are victims of race or class discrimination, poor education, drug or alcohol abuse, and hopelessness.
We pray for children who daily experience the fear and pain of war and civil strife.
We pray for members of our own community:
Gwen, Morve, Catherine, Wayne, Brian, Bob, Joy, Debbie, Sheila, Joanna, Tyler, Morgan, Cindy, Amber…
We pray for the friends and family of Jessica Patrick and for all missing indigenous women in Canada and around the world.
We pray for victims of Hurricane Florence
We pray for People in Ontario and Quebec still waiting for power after tornados touching down in those provinces
We pray for the people of Puerto Rico still recovering from Hurricane Maria a year later
We pray for Golden Ears UC as they recover from the flooding in Maple Ridge last week
Holy One, help us to find wisdom and gratitude and to follow Jesus, through death and to resurrection.
And now we turn to you as a child turns to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort, singing the words Jesus taught us…
The Disciples’ Prayer “Our Father” VU 960
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WE GO FORTH
Hymn: “This Is God’s Wondrous World” VU 296
Commissioning and Benediction
I invite you to turn on you videos and hold your hands out in a sign of blessing…