November 12, 2023

Good afternoon. Welcome to our worship service from Faith Memorial United Church.

Many thanks to all who contributed to the 363 pounds of food in October for the Food Bank! Keep up the good work!

Congratulations to Elaine White and Barb O’Donnell on their Citizens of the Year awards! Well done!

Reminder: Official Board meets next week after worship. Your minutes have been emailed to you by Sonja along with information needed as we vote on the remit. Please review. Also, committees please submit budget items to Stewards for Budget 2024.

Ongoing reminder re hospital visits- If you or a family member are hospitalized, please let me know. The Pre-Covid process of clergy entering their personalized code in a computer room at the hospital and finding congregational names is no longer available.

Have a blessed week!


This land on which we gather is traditional land of the Wabanaki peoples, predominantly, the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Wolastoqiyik and Passmaquoddy. We worship the Creator on this land and acknowledge with respect the thousands of years of ceremony and relationship that are etched in footprint, fire and faithfulness on the soil and rock that surrounds us.


May the warm glow from this Christ candle remind us of Christ’s blessings in our lives, and the call to kindle the flame of his love through our words and actions.

Call to Worship: (written by Bruce Prewer, based on Joshua 24 and Psalm 78)

Put aside the distractions of this world’s many gods,

stand in awe before God’s love,

prepare to worship in sincerity and faithfulness.

            The Lord Jesus and his God, we will serve,

            and his voice we will trust and obey,

            that generations to come may know their God.

Stand up and celebrate the good news this day

so that others may set their hope in the living God.

            We will not hide our thanks and praise,

            but tell of the glorious deeds of the Lord

            and all the wonders God has done for us.

Opening Prayer:

Gracious God, on this day of rest and prayer, we gather as your people.

We are ready for the spark of your light and love to renew us.

Fill the lamps of our lives with oil and light the fire of your Spirit within each of us.

Disturb our complacency.

In a world that offers many choices, teach us to choose you and to serve you.

Call us for your purpose, both within this community of faith and into the world.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: 28MV   Fresh as the Morning 

Prayer of Confession:

Holy God, we confess that we sometimes have trouble in our decision-making.

Life confronts us with so many choices.

We know that often we are tempted to put something other than you as first in our lives.

Often, we struggle too with how to live as your faithful people and how to share the gifts you have given us.

Forgive us when the choices we make reflect not your glory but our own selfishness.
Forgive us when the choices we make revolve around judging or condemning others without first listening to their stories.

Forgive us when the choices we make contribute to our own prosperity and wellbeing while ignoring the needs of others. 

Forgive us when the choices we make diminish our awareness of you, O God, in the midst of those who suffer.

Gracious and loving God, strengthen us where we are weak with the renewing power of your Spirit so that the choices we make clearly reveal our identity as your faithful people, and as sincere and devoted followers of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord – in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Words of Affirmation:

Our God is generous in wisdom, sincerity, hope and faithfulness.

God does not delay in responding to us.

God is present to us:

in every word of forgiveness,

in every move toward greater compassion

in every act of justice.

When we choose to live in the way of love and service,

our world shines with the presence of God.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Readings and Reflection:
Choose This Day and Every Day

Choices. Each day we are bombarded with them. It is estimated that on a typical day humans make around 35,000 choices! Now if that seems unbelievable to you, think for a moment of some of those choices, many of which we make without much thought- we wake up. Do I roll over and get another few minutes of sleep? We go to the cupboard or the fridge and we decide what to have for breakfast. Then, do I have time for that second cup of coffee? We go to the grocery store. All kinds of choices of what to buy. On and on it goes. Granted, many of these choices are not all that far reaching. Others, however, may have more lasting impact to our health or our sense of well-being and contentment in life. I think of things like career choices or choices about where to live, or whether or not to have children. Our choices in the words we say and the things we do have impact on our relationships with others, on the environment or the future of the earth. Each choice we make, whether we really stop to think about it or not, has some role in shaping who we are and who we will be.

Our readings today challenge us to think about the choices we are making when it comes to serving God and tending to the flame of faith. Both of them speak of the importance of not simply drifting through life but of making conscious decisions about the values and standards by which to live.

In Joshua, we find the people of Israel now in the Promised Land. Joshua, Moses’ successor, now calls on them to reaffirm the initial covenant the God had made with the ancestors from the time of God’s first promise to Abraham and Sarah. Joshua reminds them of all that God had done for them throughout the long journey in the wilderness. Now, he says, comes the moment to decide their future as a people. Now is the time for them to recommit. Will they worship and serve God with faithfulness in this new land or will they serve the false gods of their ancestors? Let’s listen to the choice placed before them:

Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

24 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many.

14 “Now, therefore, revere the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went and among all the peoples through whom we passed, 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore, we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.

It is no small choice and commitment that Joshua is advocating here. Saying yes to serving God and God alone is not like being in the grocery store and choosing Corn Flakes instead of Rice Crispies! It is not something that is to be undertaken lightly or impulsively with no thought about what it might imply. It must be a thought through decision because it has long term consequences, much like the commitments we make at baptism, confirmation or even marriage. It is something that must be renewed daily. No wonder Joshua gets them to reiterate their commitment because he knows how easy it is to get distracted. He doesn’t accept their initial response. He puts it to them again. It is like Joshua is saying to them, So, what is it going to be? There’s an urgency to his asking because he knows how quickly saying an impulsive yes might just land them in over their heads. As someone once said, “Choosing to follow and serve God should come with a warning: ‘Uncharted paths ahead.’

Much like a story I came across about a minister who noticed a young couple pull into the church parking lot one weekday morning. It turns out that their broken-down car had become their home. Rather than sending them away, the minister chose to help them. Their infant child had been placed in foster care when they lost their apartment and began living in their car. Because of their low wage jobs, they could not afford housing. The minister and the congregation worked with them and chose to allow them to stay at the church. They arranged for places for them to shower and do laundry. They accompanied them to visit the foster family and signed them up for food aid, housing and parenting classes. All because they made a choice to help by serving them not simply through hand outs but by working with them to navigate a new way. And that choice required follow though.

I think this is what Joshua was trying to get across to the people. A simple vow to choose God is not just a once in a life time decision. It has implications for each and every day. It means tending to the light continuously, keeping the fires burning through acts of love and mercy.

That’s also the message of Matthew to his community of faith that had witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and who experienced persecution for their faith. They were waiting for the imminent return of Jesus. Yet, as time went on and Jesus didn’t return, many were feeling disappointed and let down. No doubt, some were even feeling silly. Kind of like maybe how it was, if you remember, back in 1999 and everyone was preparing for the calendar to roll over into 2000. Y2K. Everyone expected some big cataclysmic event with computers all going wacky and then, as it turned out nothing much happened and all the hoopla felt more than a little silly. The sense of hyper preparedness soon left us.

That’s how I imagine it was for the early church when Jesus didn’t return immediately. The people lost their sense of urgency and preparedness. We might say they started to drift rather than to make choices to continue to keep the fires of faith fanned. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and working for hope, peace and justice, they got lulled into complacency- to the point where they stopped making daily choices to live out their lives in faithful readiness.

Perhaps with this background, we can make more sense of what might initially seem to us to be a rather difficult parable:

Matthew 25: 1-13

  25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Now five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t bring oil for them. But the wise ones took their lamps and also brought containers of oil.

“When the groom was late in coming, they all became drowsy and went to sleep. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’

“Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’

“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding. Then the door was shut.

11 “Later the other bridesmaids came and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’

12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore, keep alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour.

As I was thinking about these bridesmaids, I noticed that all of them had their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed, all of them fell asleep. However, when the bridegroom finally did arrive, the one thing that distinguished the wise ones from the foolish ones was their choice to carry with them extra oil for their lamps. That’s all. It seems then that the issue here is not alertness so much as it is about preparedness- preparing and equipping ourselves for the long haul. In terms of our faith, that preparedness might mean exactly what Joshua was trying to glean from the people of Israel- making choices today and every day to serve God and God alone.

What does that look like for our community of faith as we find ourselves these days waiting for things to “go back” as we say? I wonder if perhaps what we might be hearing in both of these texts this morning is a call for a recovered sense of urgency in our commitment to God. What does faithful living look like after we say with our lips, as the people of Israel did, that we will serve God? What does it mean to keep the oil of faith burning as we live in the meantime? How might we blow on one another’s flickering embers? What daily choices are we making to live with preparation, to pray, to pause, to continue in community and study, and in doing deeds of mercy, offering forgiveness and sharing justice, while keeping up hope that one day this world will be transformed and reconciled to God? How are we supporting one another in the delays?

In both our stories this morning there is that sense of urgency, that idea that choosing to serve God and others is not just any choice. It is a choice that each and every day has consequences. It is a choice that will determine so many other choices- the way we speak about and treat one another, the way we reach out to the needs of this world, the way we welcome newcomers, the products we buy, the values we uphold and the priority we put on our faith and on our community of faith. No wonder Joshua asks it a few times just so that the people realize exactly what it is that they are saying. It is more than just nodding our heads. It involves more than simply riding on the coattails of those who have gone before us. The answer we give is life-altering. We can’t avoid the question nor can the way we respond be wishy washy. There is no middle ground. So, as Joshua says, what will it be – today, and every day? Amen  

Your Generosity Matters!

Mission and Service partners provide real-time relief around the world on a daily basis.

Credit: Lindsay Vautour 

There is one thing that will never fail us: compassion.

Acts of compassion, both big and small, give rise to peace. We can’t wave a magic wand and bring about world peace, but with every act of compassion we harness the power of love, the same love Jesus lived and died for and that he promised would move mountains.

At a time when it feels like there’s a new crisis confronting us each and every day, it’s reassuring to know that Mission and Service partners provide real-time relief around the world on a daily basis.

That’s why your generosity matters so much.

The food security initiatives, refugee support work, educational programs, and emergency and advocacy efforts your gifts through Mission and Service support aren’t just about food, safety, education, and human rights. They are ultimately about compassion, peace, and hope. And in a world where division tears the fabric that binds us together, that’s everything.

Jesus put compassion into action every day he lived. He brought hope into every room he walked into. He was literally the calm in the storm. He stretched out his arms in the ultimate sacrifice of love, and the world was never the same.

Every act of compassion contributes to a more peaceful world. Thank you for your generosity through Mission and Service. Your gifts truly do help move mountains.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

God of light and love, thank you for filling our lives with blessing and hope. In response to your commitment and grace to us, we long to keep the faith by living and serving as your people. Teach us to pay attention to the things that matter, to value each and every moment of our lives and to live as prepared people. Guide us to put first things first and to choose wisely. Give us the courage to be people who commit our lives wholly to you, following the example of Christ, reaching out to the needs of this world, and seeking to shine your light through our lives.

Give us the oil we need to persist in the struggles and hurdles of life, in times of disappointment and uncertainty, when we are tired or anxious and when we are unsure of which way to turn. As we listen to the news in our world, of countries in conflict, of people seeking safety and shelter as they flee for their lives, of violence and crime, of heartache and despair and abuse, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed. We need your help God. May we turn to your wisdom and to the support of one another in this faith community. We pray for all those who are working ever so courageously to bring help to the many who are in need. Remind us that our efforts and gifts, through agencies like our food bank and resource centres, our Mission and Service and our individual, quiet offerings are making a difference, even when sometimes it feels only like a drop in a bucket. Help us to persevere over the long haul and to not give up.

We pray for all among us for whom this week has brought unsettling news, about their health or the health of a loved one, for the many among us who are adjusting to changes in their living arrangements, perhaps needing more care in their homes or contemplating a move to assisted living. We pray for students and teachers in our schools as they cope with so many stresses, for the many in our province who are without adequate food or housing, whose minimum wage cheques simply cannot compete with rising prices and unaffordable rents.

We bring these needs and so many more, before you God, asking that you might show us ways to give of ourselves to you and to others, bringing peace, hope and healing to this hurting world. In the name of Jesus, we pray with boldness and confidence saying… Our Father…   

Hymn: 424 VU May the God of Hope Go with Us 


Prepare yourself to share the love of Christ.

Ensure that there is oil in your lamp and fire in your belly.

Choose to serve God this day and every day.


And as you go into this new week, may the strength and power of the Holy Spirit go with you. Amen.  


November 5, 2023

 Welcome to our worship service at Faith Memorial United Church.


Opportunities to be a mentor and make a difference in the lives of students in our local schools, 1-2 hours a week.  Please let Valerie Carmichael know of your interest! 

Next Sunday, Nov. 12, after worship- knitting circle will meet so bring along your knitting projects. A chance to share with others in onversation!                                                    

Also, an opportunity to strum along with beginning ukulele players in the hall after worship. Newcomers always welcome! 

This Saturday is Remembrance Day. Make plans now to be present at one of the local cenotaph services in our area, if you are able.

As this morning’s first hymn speaks to us: “Let us recall how hate and war diminish humankind… lest we forget the future of this earth”

May God’s presence be known to you through whatever your week holds for you.


This land on which we gather is traditional land of the Wabanaki peoples, predominantly, the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Wolastoqiyik and Passmaquoddy. We worship the Creator on this land and acknowledge with respect the thousands of years of ceremony and relationship that are etched in footprint, fire and faithfulness on the soil and rock that surrounds us.                                       

Act of Remembrance

Laying of the Memorial Wreath (Robert Green)

The Last Post/Silent Tribute/Reveille

They shall grow not 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.

We will remember them.

O Canada

The Christ candle reminds us that the light of Christ shines on the road to peace and illuminates our most difficult hours.

Call to Worship (from Rev. Richard Bott)

Peace be with you.
And also with you.

In a world of war…
we search for peace.

In a world of confusion…
we search for calm.

In a world of pain…
we search for healing.

In a world of isolation…
we search for communion.

Communion with each other…
and communion with God.

Let us search together…
and let us worship our God.

Opening Prayer:

O God, you sent us the Prince of Peace to teach us your way.

Help us to remember that small acts, joined together, shape society.

In our worship and in our everyday lives, open us to your word calling us to

lead lives worthy of you.

May we be bold to speak that word and bolder yet to witness with our lives and actions.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Hymn: 527 VU God as with Silent Hearts 

Prayer of Confession:

God of boundless grace,

we confess how hard it is to live lives of integrity.

For the times when pride, prestige and power have distracted us from matching our words with our actions;

For the times when our selfish ambitions have got in the way of compassion and service to others;

For the times when we have let the appearance of faithfulness stand in for truly faithful efforts;

For the times when we have created burdens of injustice and unfairness for others to bear;

God have mercy on us.   (silence)

Words of Affirmation:

Jesus’ life of love and service knows no bounds.

In him, we find a model of one whose words echo and are embodied in his actions.

Through him, we are assured of forgiveness and new life.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Readings and Reflection:

Living a Life Worthy of God

This week, fans of the TV sitcom Friends were saddened to learn of the death of Matthew Perry who played Chandler. I can’t really say I watched every episode of Friends but I did tune in to it every once and a while. Since Perry’s death, however, I have been interested to learn of his background growing up in Ottawa and struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol from a very young age. I was intrigued enough to listen to an interview he did just last year on the CBC program Queue. In that interview, he spoke of his then newly released memoir entitled Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. One part of the interview that really caught my attention was when he said, “I used to pray, please God, make me famous.” However, even after his success on Friends, he realized that his fame and fortune wouldn’t fix his biggest problem of addiction. Somehow his priorities for his life shifted. In that same interview, he said, “When I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that is mentioned. Instead, I want to be known as a helper so that when people come to me and say, ‘I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?’ I say yes, and follow up and do it. And I am going to live the rest of my life proving that.” He also mentioned that with the release of that book, he was proud to learn in its first few weeks in circulation, 5 people had been in touch with him who had read the book and checked into treatment.

What Perry spoke about in that interview highlights something that I think most of us wrestle with from time to time in our lives. We want to make our lives matter. We want to make a difference. To have impact. To feel useful. In our first reading this morning, Paul is reflecting on his time spent among the people of Thessalonica. He encourages them with a phrase that leapt out to me this week, “live a life worthy of God.” I invite you to reflect on what that might mean for you, for us a faith community as we listen to his reflections on his time with them:

1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13

You remember, brothers and sisters, our efforts and hard work. We preached God’s good news to you, while we worked night and day so we wouldn’t be a burden on any of you. 10 You and God are witnesses of how holy, just, and blameless we were toward you believers. 11 Likewise, you know how we treated each of you like a father treats his own children. 12 We appealed to you, encouraged you, and pleaded with you to live lives worthy of the God who is calling you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 We also thank God constantly for this: when you accepted God’s word that you heard from us, you welcomed it for what it truly is. Instead of accepting it as a human message, you accepted it as God’s message, and it continues to work in you who are believers.


As Paul reflects on the nature of his ministry among them, he is adamant that he did not want to be a burden to them. In sharing the gospel with them, his desire was to work among them, without dominating them. We can read between the lines- he did not desire fame or privilege. Instead, he attempted to come among them sharing his own vulnerability, guiding them with attention to his own integrity and humility as a servant of Jesus.

In many ways, this is just the opposite picture that Jesus paints of the scribes and the Pharisees. Where Paul tried tirelessly to not be a burden to the people Jesus is pointing to how the religious authorities heaped tremendous burdens on the people, weighing them down with all kinds of laws that they, themselves, were unwilling to practice.

Matthew 23: 1-12

 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’

“But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.

In other words, these authorities talk a good line, but they don’t live it. We might say they were all spit and polish veneer. There are lots other expressions that describe the same idea- they wrote cheques with their mouths that their bank accounts couldn’t cash. They were cowboys that were all hat and no cattle. We know what Jesus was getting at here. It was not that he was condemning their teachings. It was their motives and practice with which Jesus took issue- the living of their lives was incongruent with the words from their mouths. They wanted their lives to matter which, as I mentioned earlier, is not a bad thing in itself. However, rather than by doing this in a way that served and helped others, they were behaving in ways that sought the praise and approval of others. They wanted nothing more than to be noticed and to be admired while at the same time, they were unwilling to lift a finger to help others.

It is the same lesson that Matthew Perry grasped over time, isn’t it? That living a life worthy of God is not found in fame, power and fortune, but in humble love and service to others. It is about letting our lives speak.  Kind of like what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant, I suspect, when he wrote, “Who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.”

Matthew Perry isn’t the only actor who got that memo. Actress Meryl Streep once said much the same thing, “It’s sort of exhausting, this self-congratulatory atmosphere in which the movie community lives. It’s unbearable. We’re not that important in the world, but we certainly all think we are…I shouldn’t talk about it, I mean I’m really grateful that my work is recognized…but boy, we’ve gotten a little bloated. It’s so grand and the outfits are so incredible and the critique of how everybody looks and the desperation of people to make an impact—it really gets to me.”

The life of Jesus, as I see it, was all about modelling and encouraging us toward a different way of living, counter cultural we might say. This week I was reading about a department chair at a university who was telling about the Hispanic women who clean the buildings on campus every night. His students never see these women because they work night shifts. For very low wages, they vacuum floors and clean toilets, take out the trash long after the students and faculty leave the building. In the morning the students return to a shiny and clean building. In his classes, he speaks to his students about this invisible hierarchy in which they live. However, before he can get them to address this justice issue, he realizes that they have to care. So, at Christmas time, he contacts the supervisor of these night workers to find out the name of the woman cleaning their particular building. He shares the name with the students and they work together to contribute to a Christmas present for her to say thanks. His hope is that after they graduate, wherever these students find themselves, they will lift the servants and exalt the humble because these folks are often invisible and hard to spot. It is one way of bridging the gap and encouraging others through our actions.

I think it was St. Francis who said, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” We simply never know what a difference one gesture to eliminate another’s burden can make. Rabbi Harold Kushner, in his book, Living a Life that Matters, begins by saying we all like to matter, to feel as if our life counts. I think, from time to time, it is indeed good to step back and ask ourselves, much like Matthew Perry did, what kind of person do I want to be? As we think about our community of faith, we might ask the same thing- What kind of people do we want to be known as? Sometimes, we may wonder if we are making a difference.

Kind of like a man named George whom Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen speaks about in her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings. Dr. Remen’s work deals with not only the physical problems of those with cancer but with their spiritual and emotional needs as well. She tells of George who was diagnosed with colon cancer and had only a few months to live. He sat in her office crying because he felt like he had wasted his life and it was too late to change. George was a scientist and an inventor who had made a lot of money inventing and marketing medical devices. In his work, however, he had neglected his family. He was estranged from two wives and his grown children and now facing the prospects of dying alone and unmourned. “What a fool I have been. All I cared about was making money, and now I will leave it to a bunch of people who don’t even like me.” One of the devices he had invented, his most profitable invention, helped people with a chronic illness to live an almost normal life. Dr. Remen just happened to have a patient who benefited from that device that changed her life. So, she arranged for George to meet her. She thought it would be a half hour coffee meeting but it turned into a grand dinner party where all this woman’s relatives who had helped nurse her back to a normal life shared their stories of what a difference George’s invention had made. Now, George, who had cried in Dr. Remen’s office a few days earlier, was crying for a whole different reason.

I can’t help but conclude from this little story that living a life worthy of God and making our lives matter is not about strutting our stuff as some of the Pharisees were known to do or seeking fame and fortune as Matthew Perry once thought was so important, but simply finding someone who needs our help, who needs the gifts or abilities we have to share and reaching out to them. A quick glance around our communities will reveal many such voices calling out for that help- food bank, the schools in need of mentors as Valerie has presented to us, the hospital in need of volunteers, a newcomer to our community in need of some gesture to say you are welcome here, a neighbour in need of a phone call of support or encouragement… the list is endless. As Harold Kushner expresses it- “we can be the supporting actor or actress who gives someone else’s life a happy ending.”  We can all be somebody’s somebody. We can do it quietly, without drawing attention to ourselves, without seeking status or claiming some sort of special relationship with God. Jesus modelled this for us over and over again, shocking people by times as he walked among the marginalized to hang out with outcasts and outsiders, as he washed the disciples’ feet, listening with respect, and as he poured out everything he had for others, even at great cost to himself.

We can do the same as we listen to the Spirit in our own lives. We can bridge those gaps as we reach out and serve others, even when we may feel frightened or unsure. By embodying the values Jesus has shown us, we can live lives that matter, that make a difference in even the smallest of ways as we work to lift burdens.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best,

“To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived- that is to have succeeded.”

Or as Jesus would say, that is what I mean when I encourage you to walk the talk. That is what it means to be one of my followers. Amen.

Your Generosity Matters!

Becoming anti-racist is an ongoing journey.

Credit: Rick Short|Lightstock.com

From October 10 to December 1, 2023, the 40 Days of Engagement on Anti-Racism program offers daily and weekly opportunities for learning, reflection, and action.

The program, designed to move people through a journey towards becoming anti-racist, offers an opportunity for participants within the United Church and beyond to engage in learning and develop their faith.

The learnings encourage deep, thought-provoking discussion for both individuals and communities of faith. Written reflections, video workshops, and readings explore internalized racism, systemic racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and more.

The United Church of Canada has committed to becoming an anti-racist denomination, and this work is an ongoing journey for everyone. Your Mission and Service gifts support expanding this crucial initiative each year.

40 Days of Engagement on Anti-Racism materials are available at any time on the United Church website. Live sessions are and shared on YouTube.


Let us pray:

Loving God, in the stillness of these moments, we pause to give you thanks for your abiding presence and guidance in our lives. As the cooler days of November are now upon us, we give thanks for the warmth of our homes, for food in our cupboards, for the companionship of friends and loved ones.

We thank you for peace and freedom in our country, for the privilege we have of gathering to worship you in this community of faith each Sunday, and for being able to come and go as we please without threat. We know that this is not the way for many places of our world. We lift before you the many who this morning are living in fear- fear of missiles and bombs exploding in their streets, fear of abuse, fear for their future, fear for their lives. We pray for all who are caught in the midst of hatred between peoples, violence between nations, breakdowns in civility, tensions between family members and neighbours, divisions between religions and within religions.

God, we live in a time of much uncertainty- where many question the purpose and meaning of life, the future of our planet, the value of faith in the midst of so much injustice that surrounds us. Instruct us in the ways of humility and love modelled to us in Jesus’ example. Give us hearts to serve and to reach out to others with generosity. Release us from the power struggles and competition in which we so easily become entangled.

As we gather at cenotaphs across our nation this week, to remember the sacrifice of the many who fought in world wars, in the Korean conflict, in Afghanistan, the many who continue to suffer the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional wounds of war, may we also commit ourselves to the way of peace, in our relationships, through the words we speak and the actions we take. Strengthen the resolve of all those in leadership in our governments, in schools, and in all our community organizations to place justice, dignity and compassion for all people among their highest priorities

We name before you in the silence of our hearts concerns we have for people we know who are in need of the strength of your presence as they undergo medical treatments, as they walk through times of grief or uncertainty, as they struggle to cope with winding roads on their journeys… Show us ways that we might accompany them along the way offering them encouragement, or simply being a listening ear.

We offer these prayers, O God, in and through the name of Jesus, whose life and ministry continues to inspire us to live in a new way, the way of unconditional love and grace. Uniting in that love, we pray as he taught us saying… Our Father…

Hymn: 575 VU I’m Gonna Live So 


In the Spirit of the Christ, we are sent out as partners in service with others in our community and the world.

We are called to witness to the love of God with integrity,

to challenge one another to walk the talk

and to live our lives worthy of our God who walks with us.


Together, we can make a difference! Amen


 October 29, 2023

Welcome to worship on this day when yesterday’s summer weather has quickly turned and reminded us that indeed, it is fall!


Reminder that next week is Food Bank Sunday and, as we have been hearing on the news, needs are greater than ever. Along with food, remember too that the food bank also takes personal items, things like toothbrush and paste, soap and shampoo, deodorant, etc.

Session meets after worship next week.

Many thanks to all for the clergy appreciation gifts toward books and for the subscription to the Carleton Victoria Arts Council which I get to enjoy throughout the year!

Don’t forget to book your flu and Covid shots if you haven’t already done so.

Have a good week.

This land on which we gather is traditional land of the Wabanaki peoples, predominantly, the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy. We worship the Creator on this land and acknowledge with respect the thousands of years of ceremony and relationship that are etched in footprint, fire and faithfulness on the soil and rock that surrounds us.

The light of this candle reminds us of the light of Christ that shines in our lives, pointing us toward love, healing and wholeness.

All Saints Moment

St.Symeon (949-1022), a mystical poet and theologian of the early church wrote:

“The saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before and filled them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith and works and love. So, in the one God they form a single chain which cannot be quickly broken.”

As is our tradition at Faith Memorial United Church on All Saints Day or the Sunday nearest, we remember and celebrate the memory of those individuals known and loved by us, who lived among us, who shared their faith with us in personal ways, who have finished the race and who now live eternally in God’s presence. We name before God and our community of the faith the following persons:

Larry Derrah – Mary Derrah

Nancy Kinney – Betty Patterson

John Shannon – Steve & Betty Patterson

Jessie Smalley – Betty Patterson/Karen Hargrove

R. Franklyn Green – Marlene Sipprell

Valerie St Peter – Marjorie Rector

Bob Veniott – Marjorie Rector

Dave Oakes – Marjorie Rector

Ruth Herbert – Barbara Dingee

Dianne Herbert –Barbara Dingee

Harry Robert (Bob) Saunders – Alta Saunders

Fern Rideout – Alta Saunders

J. Donald MacNair – Anne Brooker

Vinal MacDougall – Anne Brooker

Baby M – Anne Brooker

Ronald Brown – Betty Davenport

Dwayne Belyea – Betty Davenport

Bill McCormick – Betty Davenport

Anna Bell Kilfoil – Betty Davenport

Steven Whited – Anne Prosser

Donnie Greene– Chris McAulay

Marilyn Crawford– Blanche Miller

For Those Who Walked with Us   by Jan Richardson

For those who walked with us, this is a prayer.
For those who have gone ahead, this is a blessing.
For those who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us while they lived,
this is a thanksgiving.
For those who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.

Call to Worship: (Inspired by Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17)
The Holy One has been our hope and our home.
God has been with us from generation to generation.
We flourish and fade, bloom and renew in God’s time.
Like fresh grass in the morning and as lively as leaves dancing across autumn’s lawns, our lives are temporal and precious and glorious.
May the compassion and favor of the Holy One be with us.
May we be glad and prosperous in our work for our God!

Opening Prayer:

God our help in ages past and our hope for years to come,

with our lips we praise you,

with our minds we seek to understand the depth of your compassion,

with our hearts we long to feel your generosity

revealed to us in your beloved one, Jesus,

in whose love we gather to be transformed, renewed and revived. Amen.

Hymn: 705 VU For All the Saints 

Prayer of Confession:

Holy One, you know us so well, just as you have known our parents, grandparents and all those who have come before us.

Our story with you continues to unfold.

Sometimes we have been courageous and compassionate.

Sometimes we try to follow you. Sometimes we fail miserably.

Sometimes we have loved as you have loved us.

Sometimes we find it downright hard to love others.

When we scan our lives, we can see that we are all saints and sinners, both.

We need your continued guidance and forgiveness.

Show us your way, we pray. Amen.


Words of Affirmation (adapted from Mary Parsons, Munn UC, in the Gathering)

Receive this good news: God’s promise is here for each one of us,

the promise of a new heaven and a new earth filled with blessing and peace.

This promise is as sure as the sun that rises and sets.

God accompanies us all the way and encourages us.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God,

Nothing we have done or left undone.

God is with us- yesterday, today and every tomorrow.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Readings and Reflection


                                            Scanning a Future We Will Not Inhabit

During my reading week last week, I picked up one of the several half-read books kicking about around the house. Actually, it is one that feels rather timely for this day. The title is I Want to be in that Number: Cool Saints I Have Known. It is written by the first female moderator of the United Church of Canada, Rev. Dr. Lois Wilson who is now well along in her nineties. In this book, she tells deeply personal stories about saints she has known in her life. Some of them are colleagues she met through her work with the World Council of Churches. Others are people she encountered in various churches where she served. Others are close friends or family members. She anchors her stories using the scripture passages that were chosen for each of their funerals.

Reading these stories has caused me to reflect a bit on my own life and to think about how one day, we will all be someone’s ancestor. What is it that we want to pass on to those who follow us? How are the decisions we are making today influencing the lives of those who come after us? As I was thinking of these things, I remembered how the Indigenous Peoples teach about a principle known as the Seven Generations. When they consider a decision, often about how to use the creation around them like the land, the water, the forests, they are encouraged to think ahead 7 generations and consider the impact of that decision for those generations whom they will never meet. I think this principle can also be applied to our relationships with one another as well. How are we working together to build the kind of world that will result in sustainability for the long haul? How are the choices we make today paving the way for those who will come after us?

I can’t help but wonder if some of these kinds of questions might have been what Moses might have been pondering as God leads him to a threshold moment at the end of his journey. Let’s listen as God gives him a glimpse of the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo.

Deuteronomy 34: 1-12

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired, and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him, and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.

10 Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11 He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12 and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Our gospel reading finds Jesus, once again, being challenged by the religious leaders. They have been threatened by the inclusive love that Jesus was demonstrating as he associated and sat at table with many whom the authorities had rejected and judged to be sinners. The question they ask him is one that they had long debated amongst themselves- of the 613 laws, which one should get the top priority? Let’s listen as Jesus, without blinking an eye, quickly gets to the heart of the matter as he cites two laws revealed in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

Matthew 22: 34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, an expert in the law, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

When Jesus answers this question, he is, like Moses, nearing the end of his life. A threshold moment. A time when they were both called to look beyond what they could not see to a future not yet revealed. One last chance to get his point across, to summarize the principle that had governed his life and ministry- love for God, love for others. From this moment on, it would rest on the shoulders of those who had accompanied him on his journey and those of us who follow him as his disciples today to continue to demonstrate and share that love.

Thinking of both Jesus and Moses in these moments of transition reminded me of a little quote from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a single lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope.”

Imagine for a minute as Moses is given that glimpse of the Promised Land. I wonder what he might have been feeling after leading the Israelite people to the verge and then being told by God that he would not enter it with them. Think of all that he had been through with them on that journey- the terror of the night when they escaped slavery in Egypt, when they ran for their lives with Pharoah’s army in pursuit, the crossing of the Red Sea, those 40 years in the wilderness when the people complained over lack of food and water and when they rebelled by bowing down to the golden calf. This had been far from an easy journey. Moreover, the people Moses had been called to lead were not always a loveable people. More than once he was ready to throw in the towel. Yet, he continued to remain in relationship with God through it all. I wonder if all these moments on the journey flashed through his mind as he scanned that view from Mount Nebo? Did knowing that this was the end of his journey with the people disappoint him? Did he question in his mind why, after all he had done for this people, he was not rewarded for his effort by entering the new land with them?  Was he exasperated after all the effort he had put in and the headaches he experienced along the way? Was he frustrated or sad in having carried the football so to speak but not being able to score the touchdown? Was this God saying you can look, but you don’t get to touch? If Moses did think these things, there is no indication that he expressed anything to God.

Or, do you suppose maybe Moses simply felt relief and gratitude that his part in the journey was now over, that he could let go of control and entrust Joshua with the next steps in the journey? I wonder if he was able to recognize this opportunity for a panoramic view of the Promised Land as God saying to him something like, “Rest now, Moses. You have lived a long life of loving me and loving this people I have called you to lead from that moment when I first spoke to you from the burning bush. You loved them even when they were not particularly loveable and you continued in relationship with me through it all. Now it is time to let go and to let Joshua, with my help, finish what you began.”

As I was wondering what this experience might have been like for Moses- to be that close, almost on tiptoe, on the verge of an arrival but denied the opportunity to take that one last step, it reminded me of our own lives.  As we remembered the names and life stories of those who have passed on before us this year and as we mark their place in the great line that we call the communion of saints and pick up from their witness, we are reminded that none of us ever reach a moment of arrival. We simply keep passing on the torch, living lives of love in the here and now, doing our best to encourage one another and those who will follow us by the actions we take today.

Think of it sort of like holding a child or grandchild in your hands. We might wonder what their life will be like in the midst of things like the climate crisis, conflict in the Middle East, and so many challenges ahead. Like Moses, we catch glimpses of that future. We will accompany that child for a period and as we do so, we will do our best to plant seeds, to share our values, our hopes and our dreams. Then there will be that part we cannot see or will not inhabit. Yet, that does not stop us from spending time with them now. That’s because, as Moses certainly must have realized, it is not just our personal future we are working toward. It is a bigger communal future, part of God’s continual, unfolding story.

Always, though so much is left unfinished. Like Moses, we may never reach the Promised Land. We may catch only momentary glimpses along the way. Some of these are what we call our God moments when we do get a glimpse of that promised world- like when we see acts of compassion happening, when the hungry are fed, when change happens, when a prisoner of war is released, when supplies reach vulnerable people in the Gaza strip, when, as the prophets proclaim, justice rolls down like mighty rivers. As one rabbi put it, “you are not obliged to finish the task but neither are you permitted to neglect it.” The needs of this world will continue to overwhelm us. God is simply asking for our involvement, using us, even now. As I mentioned before, someday, we will be someone’s ancestor.

The same principle applies to us as a church. So often we find ourselves wondering what the future of our United Church of Canada will look like or what our local United Church here in Carleton County will look like. In her book, Lois Wilson suggests that “it will be different from the familiar. There will be a transformation of the landscape that may come from unrecognizable sources. It will not be the same as we have known in the past. So many congregations are weakened because of the loss of members. Yet, that weakness may also be our strength. It might lead members to pay more attention to the mystery of God in their lives (think God moments!) Might that weakness signal to us a profound need to experience, share and speak with others of the depth and wonder of the grace of God/ Might that newly discovered strength also lead us to entertain with hope new and imaginative shapes of the church we had never imagined possible?”

In other words, we, on our own, will never complete the task of the church. Much like Moses, we will not get to be the final hero of the story and to cross the finish line. Our call is to be less focussed on leading the church to victory and more focussed on encouraging those on the benches, on doing what needs to be done now to shape the new church that is to be, even when for us, the shape it will take will not be clear in our own lifetimes. Sort of like what Martin Luther once said, “Even if I knew it would all end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today.” Planting that tree means thinking about the kind of world we want to pass on to those who come after us- a world of:

-human dignity and respect

-safety, security, fair living wages, food, shelter and healthcare for all

-justice for all, not just for those who can afford it or who have the right color of skin, or gender identity, or sexuality

– a world where different religions are valued,

-where diversity is celebrated

-where nations are at peace with themselves and with one another

-where we learn from past mistakes and do better

This is the Promised Land that we seek. No, we may not fully cross over and see it through to completion in our life times. We can’t fix all the wrongs or heal everything or solve everything. But thankfully, like Moses, we can hold the vision before us from the mountaintop, imagine the possibilities and allow our lives to be transformed by the love made known to us in Jesus Christ. In scanning over that long view, like the many saints who have come before us, we join in their number, building on their foundations that have impacted and influenced us. Then, as we learn to trust that vision laid before us, we work to follow in the ways of love for God and for neighbour. Finally, like Moses, we encourage others to pick up and to build from where we leave off, trusting that we have done our part in planting the seeds and that the promised harvest will be revealed in God’s good timing.  Amen

Your Generosity Matters

When Silpa started her first degree, she spent two years as the only woman in a class of 16.

Portrait of Rev. B. Silpa Rani

Credit: Rev. B. Silpa Rani

In India, various social and cultural factors have resulted in limited access to theological education for women in comparison to men. The Rev. B. Silpa Rani is actively encouraging women to pursue theological education and engage in leadership roles.

When Silpa started her first degree in Theology, she spent two years as the only woman in a class of 16. Now, years later, as she works on her doctoral dissertation, she has seen a gradual increase in the enrolment of women in theological programs. While this is encouraging, Silpa recognizes that there is still a long journey forward. While she seeks to empower modern women, she is also working to shed light on the experiences of women and minorities of the past.

Silpa is the recipient of a theological education scholarship, which has paved her way forward to eventually join the faculty at Bishop’s College, Kolkata. Currently, she is exploring the unique identity of the Qumran community within the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls. She is actively researching to identify the women, children, and minority groups of the society, drawing parallels between the Qumran context and contemporary Indian context.

Your Mission and Service(opens in a new tab) gifts provide support to leaders like Silpa, who are actively working to empower women and change the world.


Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

God, you have been and continue to be our guide, our love and our strength throughout all generations. You are at work in the world in so many ways- in creation, in our relationships, in moments of inspiration, in times of struggle and challenge. Help us to notice how you are still speaking in our lives. Thank you for the witness of the saints who have gone before us, who have helped us to hear and experience the story of your people; for prophets who have disturbed us and helped us to examine our living, for people who have lived out faith through trials and tribulation and for the inspiration they continue to bring to us. We thank you for courageous disciples who have stood up for their beliefs in your love and justice in this world.

May we, inspired by their words and actions, take our place in their number as we witness to your unfolding call to be the church and to be your people in our time. Like Moses, call us up to the mountaintops where we can get that long range view of the world as you envision it and desire it to be. Teach us to share our resources, to treat others justly, to work for peace and security for all peoples. Help us to widen the road for others to pass down.

As we pray all these things, God, we recognize that there is no shortage of work ahead for us. We recognize a world around us deeply in need of love and care. The news this week has left us shocked and grieving for the people of Lewiston, Maine in the wake of a mass shooting, and for the families and neighbours of the 5 people in Sault Ste Marie, including 3 children killed in a domestic violence. The continued missile firing and violence in the Middle East, the many fleeing for their lives, injured and killed. And we know this is only the tip of the unrest, hurt and pain that is all around us, including in our own community. God, we ask what is this world coming to? We cry out to you for help and strength in the face of so much anguish. Show us ways to live toward the new heaven and the new earth to which you have called us by bringing hope and encouragement to the many who grieve, the many who are ill, the many who are feeling lost or alone, the many who are struggling to find food, clothing or adequate shelter for themselves or their loved ones, the many who long for peace.

We offer these prayers, O God, confident that you hear them as we pray together in the strong name of Jesus, your Son, uniting in one voice as we say Our Father…  


Hymn: 713 VU I See a New Heaven 


Today, we began by remembering the lives of those who have gone before us.

We offered to God our memories, our hopes and our dreams.

As we go from this place, we know that just as God has done for generations past,

God continues to bless us with love.


Go to follow Christ’s example in loving God, self, and neighbour.
God’s love goes with us!
Go with the Holy Spirit to change the world with love.
God’s love goes with us! Alleluia! Amen.


October 22, 2023

 World Food Day Service


This land on which we gather is traditional land of the Wabanaki peoples, predominantly, the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Wolastoqiyik and Passmaquoddy. We worship the Creator on this land and acknowledge with respect the thousands of years of ceremony and relationship that are etched in footprint, fire and faithfulness on the soil and rock that surrounds us.


Lighting the Christ Candle

As we light this candle today we ask that you come to cultivate our resilience and expand our imaginations, so that we might continually find new ways to answer the call to end hunger—until all may flourish.


Call to Worship

Come, let’s praise God together!

For God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s tell stories of the things God has done—

mighty acts of power and love throughout history: for God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s remember how much he loves us, and celebrate the care he continues

to show to all of creation:

for God is great, and worthy of our praise!

Let’s worship God together!


Opening Prayer  (Adapted from WFD prayer on presbyterianmission.org)

Good and gracious God, You are gathering this community from across the earth,

Asking us to pour out our lives on behalf of those who hunger.

For hope, For justice, for daily bread.

You are asking us to see the earth as you do, So very, very good.

Trees with fruit, bursting with seed. Green plants for food, for humans and for every living creature.

As a holy place for everything that breathes and to whom you have given life.

Yet we see the realities before us and it takes our breath away:

Those whose bellies growl every day.

Those who consume more than their fair share. Breathe new life into us…

As a global community, as local congregations Gather us together so that we may remind each other of your intent for this earth.

Gather us so that we may pour out our lives in Christ’s name, as Christ does on behalf of those who hunger.


Hymn:  MV 171 Christ Has no Body now but Yours 


Prayer of Confession  (Written by Joe Sereman, South Africa.)


You asked for my hands

that you might use them for your purposes.

I gave them for a moment

then withdrew them for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth

to speak out against injustice.

I gave you a whisper

that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes

to see the pain of poverty.

I closed them

for I did not want to see.

You asked for my life

that you might work through me. I gave you a small part

that I might not get “too involved.”

Lord, forgive me for calculated efforts to serve you only when it is convenient for me to do so,

and only in those places where it is safe to do so, and only with those who make it easy to do so. Lord, forgive me,

renew me,

send me out as a usable instrument, that I may take seriously

the meaning of your cross.


Words of Assurance


Our God is close to all who call. God receives us as we are,

lifts us up, and calls us again

to be people of love and mercy—

salt and light in a hungry, hurting world. Receive God’s pardon and peace;

your sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.


Video from Valley Food Bank

Message from Valley Food Bank

During the month of September

742 people –  555 adults and 187 children,  28,183 lbs of food served. 

We had 68 new families which equals 120 people, 98% of our community members used us twice – which means they came 14 days in between boxes.


Readings and Reflection


Isaiah 55 – An Invitation to Abundant Life

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”


Litany  BASED ON PSALM 145

Governments come, and governments go; nations come, and nations go.

Only God goes on forever.

Only God is completely dependable, never corrupted by power.

God strengthens those crushed by life,

and lifts the burdens of those bent over by cares.

God does not favor the fortunate;

the seasons roll around for the poor as for the rich. With open-handed generosity,

God causes the earth to bring forth food for all. Only humans hoard, creating shortages for others. But God holds nothing back;

God plays fair with everyone.

God never puts the phone on hold

or hides behind secretaries or schedules. God is always available.

God turns no one away—

except those who deny the existence of God.

When their time comes, they will vanish into silence; their story will be heard no more.

But the stories of those who know God will be told down the generations;

by their stories, many not yet born will come to know God.

(Litany of Praise from Everyday Psalms by James Taylor. Copyright © 1994, 2010 James Taylor, Wood Lake Publishing Inc. www.woodlakebooks.com. Used by permission.)


Today we are reading and reflecting on the account of the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6 and Jesus’ following teaching on being the bread of life. There’s something about everything that Jesus said and did that needs to be seen as part of a greater whole. The disciples were constantly being stretched to see beyond the obvious (Jesus providing lunch), to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Let’s take a look at three different ‘scenes’ from John 6, considering various questions:

Scene 1

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”  John 6:9

In a world where might is right, Jesus reminds us that the values of the kingdom are the exact opposite. God’s way is for David to defeat Goliath, for faith the size of a mustard seed being enough, of his kingdom acting like yeast in the dough, of the least of this world having God’s favour.

What situations overwhelm or paralyze you because the issue seems so big and your input so small? When has a small act of kindness or generosity made a difference to you? What have you done for others lately? What could you do this week?

Catherine of Sienna wrote, “Become the person you were created to be and set the world on fire.” We don’t have to be like anyone else, not powerful, not well-known—we just have to be authentically who we were intended to be. How can you fulfill this calling and make a difference to others?

Scene 2

“‘Now gather the leftovers,’ Jesus told his disciples, ‘so that nothing is wasted.’” —John 6:12

God is a generous God. He doesn’t keep a tally of what we deserve, he wants to do so much more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3) and just as his word never returns to him empty (Isaiah 55), nothing goes to waste in our lives.

But just like in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), God asks us to make good use of what we have been given. Whether it is opportunities, abilities, or wealth, God calls us to live with faithful generosity, looking beyond our own needs to the needs of others.

What opportunities, abilities or resources have you been given? How are you using what you have been given to further the kingdom of God?

Scene 3

“The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” —John 6:33

Bread broken and given to others is so much more than a matter of lunch! Jesus makes the link at last with sacrifice—his own—for the sake of the world. Jesus fed a crowd and was nailed to a cross. It’s all about giving. In him alone can we find true fulfillment and in following him we also must take up the cross and deny self—we become the bread broken and shared for others.

Rob Bell, former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, said, “We need to ask, ‘What is God doing and how can I be part of it?’”

When we pray for those who are needy or struggling, we have to believe that God wants to be at work in their lives, to bring something good out of it—to offer bread….

What might it mean for you to break bread for others?

Canadian Food Grains Video

Your Generosity Matters


Women for Change strives to improve conditions in rural communities by empowering women and girls.

Two Zambian women walk along a road carrying large metal tubs on their heads.

Credit: Women for Change, Zambia

In areas where historically there has been little rain, now there are floods, and where there were floods, now there are droughts. That’s how Shadrick Chembe, the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Women for Change—an organization in Zambia that strives to improve conditions in rural communities by empowering women and girls—describes the changing climate in Zambia. Women bear the brunt.


“In Zambia, women are still responsible for collecting firewood and charcoal and making food. Now, because of climate change, they have to walk a longer distance to gather firewood. Charcoal is harder to get. That means it’s harder to make food. At the same time, women aren’t involved in the decision-making processes that impact this work,” explains Chembe.

Women for Change was established in 1992, and its long-standing partnership with the United Church stretches back to1995. From the beginning, mobilizing communities to share ideas and best practices has been key to the work. Since its inception, 1,500 community groups have been established, with 25‒40 people in each group and representatives from each forming associations. The groups discuss a variety of justice-related topics. Building climate resiliency by preparing for, recovering from, and adapting to drastically changing weather patterns is a priority.

Weather extremes due to climate change coupled with companies promoting seeds that only produce a single crop increasingly put people at risk.


“The majority of farmers are poor. They can’t buy seeds, but companies have created seeds that force farmers to have to purchase them each year,” says Chembe. “Groups discuss how they can save and share seeds, what they can plant with longer or shorter rains, and if there are traditional methods that can increase food production,” he says, adding, “We are grateful for the United Church’s support. The church has really been there for many years, helping us build awareness and resiliency. It’s been a real partnership.”


Your gifts through Mission and Service support long-term, life-changing work through committed partners like Women for Change. Thank you.


Prayer of Intercession

Let us bring our prayers before the Lord.

We thank you, God, for the abundance of food we receive from your hand.

We thank you for the progress that has been made against hunger in recent years,

and we remember today those people at risk of falling back into hunger and extreme poverty.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all those directly affected by hunger, across the world.

For farmers whose livelihoods depend on natural, economic, and political conditions beyond their control. For parents who struggle to put food on the table,

and for children who go to bed hungry.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We ask your blessing on those working to save lives and end hunger in the world,

especially now at a time when the high cost of food makes meeting those needs an even greater challenge.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the leaders of the nations,

especially our own leaders, that they will act

with wisdom, generosity, and compassion, bring relief to those who are hungry now,

and help move us all toward a world without hunger.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Finally, we pray for ourselves,

that you will show us the ways your church

can be an instrument of grace to hungry people, and give us the courage to act in your name,

sharing generously what you have so freely given to us.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus blessed the five loaves and the two small fish,

and it was multiplied,

and everyone had enough and more. God, please accept our prayers.

We know you will multiply this small offering beyond our imaginings,

and that one day soon,

everyone will eat and be satisfied.

We offer these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray Our Father…


(Adapted from Prayer of Intercession from Bread for the World website. www.bread.org)


HYMN209 MV  Go Make a Difference

Benediction  (Written by Kim Winchell, in Living Earth: Creation Waits with Eager Longing.)

May the blessing of God, Creator of heaven and Earth, rest upon you and upon all that God has made;

May the Risen Christ Jesus transform your life and your vision,

so that you may live in reconciliation with all things; and

May the power of God’s Holy Spirit move over this whole Earth,

like the breath of Spring,

to renew the Earth and all its people, so that all creation may join together in praise to God’s holy name!

Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen




October 8, 2023

Let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.


With thankful hearts, we gather this day as children of the light of Christ.

Call to Worship: (inspired by Psalm 65)

Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good;

God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

God crowns the year with bounty;

Pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy.

Valleys deck themselves with grain, and sing together for joy.    

So let us all praise God for all God’s goodness to us.


Opening Prayer:


For the gift of good land with springs of flowing water,

we give thanks to you, God, source of all goodness.

For crops coming in, colours changing, the land getting ready for rest,

we give thanks to you, God, source of all goodness.

For bread enough for all, and the gift of sharing,

we give thanks to you, God, source of all goodness.

In this season of plenty, give us hunger, we pray:

hunger for right relations,

hunger for a community of love,

hunger for a world of justice.

May our worship today give glory and honour to you, O God. Amen.


Hymn: 291 VU All Things Bright and Beautiful 


Prayer of Confession:

Gracious and loving God,

we know there are times when we forget your generous nature

and your generous love for us.

We insert ourselves in moments when we should lift you up.

Help us to be more grateful, less boastful;

more caring, less conceited.

In the moments when we forget you,

help us to be humble and grateful and happy.

Help us to remember the transforming power of your love. Amen.


Words of Affirmation

The same love that God poured out on our faith ancestors, carrying them through the wilderness, washes over us today.

Through this love our spirits are renewed and we are given grace to model that love for others.

Thanks be to God!


Readings and Reflection:


Giving Expression to our Blessings

As I was pondering this week what new insight I might bring to the theme of Thanksgiving this weekend, a couple of quotes leapt out to me:

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” Henri Frederic Amiel

Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone. Gertrude Stein

Both of these were reminders to me that thanksgiving is more of a verb than a noun. It is an action word. It is about giving voice to God’s grace in our lives by acknowledging that grace and telling others about it through both our spoken words and our generous actions. In this sense then, thankfulness is more than a feeling. It is about noticing the “God moments” in both the joyful and challenging times of our lives and expressing them out loud. And that is not always easy for us to do. For several months now at the beginning of our Sunday worship we’ve been practicing, exercising those gratitude muscles, so to speak, as we share our God moments with one another in our community of faith. Giving voice to our blessings in this way helps make us whole.

Certainly, our world could use a lot more of this kind of expression. If you think about some of the headlines in our news, you won’t be long in coming to the conclusion that expressions of thankfulness are not all that common. Protests, anger, venting, complaints and resentment seem to get a lot more air time. So often it is to the point where it seems almost countercultural to give expression to our blessings and to recognize their source in God.

Each of our readings this Sunday invite us to give to demonstrate our gratitude. In Deuteronomy, we find the Israelites on the cusp of the Promised Land. After years of wandering through the wilderness and bringing their complaints over lack of food and water before Moses, they are now about to enter a land rich with food, water and minerals, a land of abundance, where they will have everything they need.  Now, as they are about to enter this land, they are cautioned against being silent or arrogant about it all. In their comfort, away from the harshness of the wilderness, they are warned against thinking that they are self-sufficient or that their own efforts have brought them to this place. Just as they were quick to offer their laments and complaints to God in times of hardship, so now, in their prosperity, they are encouraged to be equally vocal in expressing their gratitude and acknowledging God as the source of their blessings.

Deuteronomy 8: 7-18:

 The Lord your God is bringing you to a wonderful land, a land with streams of water, springs, and wells that gush up in the valleys and on the hills; a land of wheat and barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without any shortage—you won’t lack a thing there—a land where stone is hard as iron and where you will mine copper from the hills. 10 You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless the Lord your God in the wonderful land that he’s given you.

11 But watch yourself! Don’t forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commands or his case laws or his regulations that I am commanding you right now. 12 When you eat, get full, build nice houses, and settle down, 13 and when your herds and your flocks are growing large, your silver and gold are multiplying, and everything you have is thriving, 14 don’t become arrogant, forgetting the Lord your God:

the one who rescued you from Egypt, from the house of slavery;

15 the one who led you through this vast and terrifying desert of poisonous snakes and scorpions, of cracked ground with no water;

the one who made water flow for you out of a hard rock;

16 the one who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your ancestors had never experienced, in order to humble and test you, but in order to do good to you in the end.

17 Don’t think to yourself, my own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me. 18 Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now.


In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, giving expression to their blessings meant active sharing of their gifts. In this passage Paul reminds them how he had asked them to set aside some money on the first day of each week, something that they had failed to do, to help the church in Jerusalem who were having a hard time. He reminds them that even the Macedonians, who were poorer than the Corinthian church, had been freer in their giving to the Jerusalem community.  What we hear from Paul in this text is a call to give generously, not out of compulsion or obligation, but out of a desire to respond to God’s blessings in their own lives, as a witness to their faith and as a means of giving glory to God.

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15

What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.

Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever.

10 The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 Your ministry of this service to God’s people isn’t only fully meeting their needs but it is also multiplying in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. 13 They will give honor to God for your obedience to your confession of Christ’s gospel. They will do this because this service provides evidence of your obedience, and because of your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. 14 They will also pray for you, and they will care deeply for you because of the outstanding grace that God has given to you. 15 Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe!

Our gospel reading is a very familiar story that needs no introduction, the story of the 10 men with skin diseases who were healed:

Luke 17: 11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”


It is not hard for us to figure out why that story is a classic one for Thanksgiving Sunday! Even a young child could figure out its meaning- the importance of giving thanks. Certainly, the people of Jesus’ audience would have perked up their ears when they found out that it was a Samaritan, the least likely one in most of their thinking, a foreigner, who returned to express his thanks to Jesus. Each time I hear this story it makes me ask what about the other nine? Why did they not return? Were they ungrateful? Were they simply overjoyed and out celebrating with friends and family? Were they forgetful or somehow distracted by their new-found health? Really, when you think about it, they did nothing wrong. They did exactly as they were told. They went and showed themselves to the priest and were shown to be healed. Surely, like the 10th man who returned to Jesus, they would have felt happy and experienced a new found freedom from their disease.

Yet, the difference was that only this one man actually returned to give expression to his blessing. He said it out loud. He acknowledged his “God moment” if you like. And that, to me, is the crux of this story- he gave voice to his gratitude. He put it into words. He stopped in the midst of his celebrating and in so doing, he received a second blessing. He was made whole by acknowledging the source of his blessing. He shared it by speaking it. Kind of like the quote we looked at earlier, he realized: “Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone.” It was so much fuller when it was spoken and shared.

Noticing has often been described as the first step in gratitude. It seems like all 10 men noticed their newly healed skin. How could they not? It was only that one Samaritan man, however, who managed to find his way to step number two of gratitude- expressing and sharing what he noticed.

Think for a minute of some place or moment when you have encountered God’s blessings in your life- a beautiful meal shared around a table with family and friends perhaps, a spectacular sight in creation- the beautiful fall colours, a whale breeching in the Bay of Fundy, a bird at your feeder, a deer in the woods, the roar of a waterfall, the depth of the Grand Canyon, the height of the Rockies Mountains, the crash of the ocean’s waves, the laughter of a child at play, the sound of a symphony, the coolness of a glass of water on a hot day, the warmth and shelter of your home on a cold winter’s night. Remember that noticing and recognizing these blessings is step one in gratitude. Then think of a time when you gave expression to these blessings- when you voiced them and shared them with another. It is that second step of responding out loud with our voices, with our offerings of prayer or generosity that creates a kind of second blessing in our lives.

David Lose uses the example of receiving an invitation to a meal with friends. You are enjoying each other’s company. There is such great conversation around the table. And, suddenly in the midst of it all you stop to appreciate it. You say something like this to your companions, “This is great. This meal. This time together. Thank you.” In seeing and expressing thanks, the original blessing of the invitation is multiplied. Or you are driving along somewhere with a friend looking at the leaves or the river flowing or an eagle soaring overhead and you say, “This is beautiful. I am glad you are with me enjoying this day.” Again, the blessing is multiplied.

Or maybe we are at worship and something speaks to us- a line of a prayer, a phrase in scripture, the chorus of a hymn. It touches us with blessing. And, on the way out of worship, we share that with another. The blessing is multiplied.

Or you might think of someone who has had a positive impact in your life- a friend, a teacher, a caregiver, a family member. You write a little note of thanks. And maybe if this person is still living, you decide to read it to them in person, The blessing is multiplied.

You get the picture. Without the expression of gratitude, we miss out on the wholeness that the gift brings to us. Giving thanks out loud, moving it from something internal to something expressed multiplies the blessing and strengthens our gratitude muscles over time.

As each of our scriptures have described it for us this morning, thanksgiving is more than a single day on our calendars filled with turkey and pumpkin pie. It is a way of living – of paying attention to even the most unexpected thanksgivings in our lives, acknowledging God as the source of these blessings and responding with our words, our generosity and ultimately our lives as we strive to mirror God’s love and hope in our hurting and broken world. To God be the glory. Amen.

 Your Generosity Matters!  

Your generous support of Mission and Service provides life-saving advocacy.

Seven Indian women dressed in red stand at a podium with their right arms raised.

Credit: Astha Sansthan’s Association of Strong Women Alone

When Geeta’s husband died, she not only lost her life partner but also her home. Because she was no longer married her in-laws wouldn’t allow her to stay in their multi-generational residence.

Geeta is just one of an estimated 72 million women in India who are not married—nearly double the entire population of Canada. In India, most women are expected to marry and live with their husband and his family. Unmarried women, even those who are widowed, are often seen as dishonourable. Like Geeta, they may suffer abuse.

Fortunately, Geeta was able to flee to her parents’ home with her two younger children, but many parents will not allow their newly single daughters to return.

While Geeta and her younger children stayed with her parents, her in-laws stole her jewellery, changed the locks, and kept her two older children from her. That’s when she turned to Mission and Service partner Astha Sansthan’s Association of Strong Women Alone (ASWA) for help.

ASWA supports thousands of single women from low-income backgrounds in Rajasthan to defend their rights. The organization has also shared their advocacy methods and experiences with other groups across India.

Thanks to ASWA’s help, Geeta’s in-laws ultimately had to give back her jewellery, unlock her home, and return her older children to her care.

Today, Geeta is living peacefully with her children in her part of the house.

Your generous support of Mission and Service provides life-saving advocacy. It is one way your gifts address crushing inequality and help build a better world for all. Thank you!

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession; (from the Presbyterian Church inCanada)

 We give you thanks, O God, for all things that make life good,

and pray that all people will share in the blessings we know.

For the world,

               for the wonders of earth, sea and sky;

               for beauty in nature and wildlife;

               and for the rhythm of the days and seasons;

  we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.


   For waters that refresh and sustain life;

               for soil that is fertile and rich;

               for those who tend crops and care for harvests;

               for those who produce, deliver and market our food;

               and for those who make sure the hungry are fed;

 we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.

               For days to work and strength to do it;

               for the many different gifts and talents you have given us;

               for those whose work is dangerous and demanding,

               for those whose positions are necessary for communities to flourish;

               and for moments of leisure and rest when you restore us;

 we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.


 For human life;

               for talking and thinking together, working on problems and plans;

               for burdens and joys shared;

             for relationships that give life meaning;

             and for the wisdom exchanged between old and young in mutual support:

  we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.


 For our circle of family and friends;

               for children and their curiosity and joy;

               for the insight that comes with patience and experience;

               and for events shared and memories cherished;

  we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.

  For your grace in times of anxiety, doubt and grief;

              for healing in times of illness, confusion, and distress;

              for rejuvenating strength and renewed purpose;

              for scientific knowledge and discovery to confront disease and improve     health;

  we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.

  For the trust that you hear each prayer and know every need;

              that you love and care for each soul and body;

                and that you walk with us through all our days and seasons;

  we give you thanks, O God, and ask that all may share such blessings.

  We offer our prayers, spoken and unspoken, in Jesus’ name,

   saying together the words he taught us… Our Father…


Hymn: 242 Vu Let All Things Now Living 


In this season of harvests from field and garden,

walk with thanksgiving in your hearts, savouring the abundance God’s creation produces.

Find ways of expressing that thanksgiving with your words and with your generous actions of sharing with others.

And may the blessing of God, our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life,


be with you now and remain with you always. Amen.


October 1, 2023

World Communion Sunday

Welcome to our worship service at Faith Memorial United.

Thanks to those who stayed after worship to decorate for our Thanksgiving Worship next Sunday.

May you be aware of God’s presence surrounding you in the week ahead.


Let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.


We live in a time of much unrest and turmoil. It is hard to find peace. In lighting this candle, we turn to the light of Christ to ground us, to guide us and to comfort us.

Call to Worship:

In a world where there is much that divides us,

we come to celebrate Christ who unites us.

In a world where hatred seeps into every corner,

we come to celebrate God’s love that will always fill the room.

In a world where prejudices deny people their dignity,

we come to praise God who will always lift them up.

In a world where needs are ignored,

we come to learn of God’s care.

On this Worldwide Communion Sunday,

may God’s love give us the courage to

meet hate with love, erase our prejudices,

and care for our neighbors.

Let us worship this God in whom we trust!


Opening Prayer

God, as we gather with your children around the world this day, we offer you our praise.

Though we might not be in the same room,

we witness to the power of your amazing story passed down

from generation to generation and are reminded of your generous deeds.

May our time spent together in worship change us, move us and mold us for the better.

In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen


Hymn: 606 VU   In Christ there is no East or West 

Prayer of Confession and Words of Assurance.

So many promises made,

too many left unfulfilled.

So many words spoken,

too many remain empty.

Yet God still expects, and nurtures, and hopes that we will do God’s will

and help make God’s love real in our world.

We need your help God.

Take all that we are and all that we are not;

all that we have done and not done;

all that we have said and not said,

and love it into new possibility.

We know that it is never too late to trust in your power to work in us and through us.

Thanks be to you, O God! Amen.


Readings and Reflection:

It’s Never Too Late to Trust in God

You might recall that last week in our readings there was a lot of griping and complaining. First, it was the Israelite people out in the wilderness in need of food. Then, in the gospel, it was those hired early in the morning who were upset that they didn’t get paid more than those hired later in the day.

As I reflected upon the readings for this Sunday, it felt like more of the same. Both of them involve tension and confrontation. Both of them focus on people who are threatened by change and a disruption in their normal ways of life. Both of them centre on questions of authority. And, above all else, both of them call people to put their trust in something other than themselves.

Our first reading finds the Israelites a little further along in their wilderness journey. Now they are in need of water. In all fairness to them, being in a desert without water would be a life-threatening predicament. So, as they did before, they bring their complaints before their leader Moses:

Exodus 17: 1-7

 From the wilderness of Sin, the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do for this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”


So it was that the rest of their wilderness experience, all 40 years of it, was a time of constantly learning and being reminded that God would provide for them despite the many changes they were undergoing from their previous life back in Egypt. It was a time when, over and over again, they would be strengthened by God’s presence and called to depend on God even in the midst of many challenges and much uncertainty along the way. And, as we will see, this was not going to be their last show down with Moses. For a while, things would simmer down along the journey until, once again, the same question kept popping up- Is God with us or not? How can we be sure?

Our gospel lesson is situated in the context of Holy Week. Jesus has entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds are stirred up by his arrival. Then he enters the temple and overturns the tables of the moneychangers. As we might well imagine, the chief priests and the elders are threatened by both his words and his actions. Who does he think he is? Scared of losing their control as people follow him, the leaders demand to know by what authority he is speaking and acting. It is a fair question because it was their job to keep the peace and to maintain the status quo. Seeing Jesus upsetting the applecart and disrupting the usual way of doing things demanded an explanation. Nonetheless, they had to be very careful in handling Jesus because he had so many supporters. They didn’t want to agitate the crowds. Jesus, too, is equally astute in how he responds to their interrogations. Let’s listen in to the debate that gets underway:

Matthew 21:23-32

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same, and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you; the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him, and even after you saw it you did not change your minds and believe him.

The question these religious authorities wanted Jesus to answer was by what authority is he speaking and acting. Yet, in that question, Jesus recognized a trap. And he wasn’t going to fall for it. He knew that if he said he was acting with the authority of God, they would haul him away and charge him with blasphemy. Instead, he does what he often did. He answers their question with a question for them. In this question, he gives them opportunity to figure him out for themselves. It is a question about John the Baptist whom they had refused to listen to. Was John’s baptism of human or divine origin?

This question sends the chief priests and elders into a tizzy. If they say John’s message was from God, Jesus will ask why then did you not believe him. If they say from human origin, the crowds will be outraged because they saw John as a prophet. The religious authorities see a trap so instead of door number 1 or number 2, they opt for door number 3 – they refuse to answer. Jesus says well, then, neither will I tell you by whose authority I speak.

Then he gives them another chance to think about it and to figure it out for themselves as he shares with them a simple story. A father asks one son to do some yard work. This son says no way. Maybe the son has other plans with his friends for the day. But later the son reconsiders and goes to do the work. The father asks his other son to do the same thing. This son says yes, but then gets sidetracked maybe, or he falls back asleep and he doesn’t go. Jesus asks the religious authorities, ok, who did what the father wanted?  To them, it is kind of a no brainer- the first son, they say. It is then that they are caught. It is like a mirror is being held up in front of them. Jesus has caught them in their own game.

Why? Because they are the folks who project themselves as being “those in the know”, the righteous ones, the faithful ones, the protectors of the status quo when it comes to telling others what God wants and doesn’t want. Yet, they had no follow through. When both John the Baptist and Jesus are standing right before them, they turn away. They are more concerned with maintaining their own power and privilege. They refuse to change their minds and to be open to this new message Jesus is proclaiming. So, Jesus tells them that even the tax collectors and prostitutes, who at first rejected his message, yet changed their priorities and minds will enter the kingdom ahead of these religious elites.

At this point, I imagine the chief priests and elders with their heads spinning. What just happened here, they must be asking. They are speechless. They are left squirming.

Yet, and this is very important, Jesus does not write them off. Yes, they may be blinded to God’s activity in the world revealed by both John the Baptist and Jesus, but there is still opportunity to change, still opportunity to say yes and to follow through with their yes. “No” doesn’t need to be their final answer. They can still change their ways and their priorities. It is never too late.

And really, if you think about the story Jesus told, neither of the sons went immediately into the vineyard as they were told. The difference, however, is that one changed his mind and went. He was remorseful. He shifted his priorities.

I suspect we can see ourselves as a mixture of both of these sons. Sometimes we say yes and fail to follow through. Sometimes we say no and then reconsider God’s call in our lives. As Mark Whittall puts it, sometimes our old way of seeing things is changed by some new thing that makes us rethink long held beliefs or positions. Something seems out of line for us based on new evidence. Psychologists give this a fancy name- cognitive dissonance.

And when it happens, it opens up new possibilities for our way of thinking and acting. Whittall cites a couple of examples of this, one being when we first saw reports of abuse in Indigenous residential schools and when, for us as United Church people, we learned that we had involvement in these schools.

 Another was when we saw the little boy Alan Kurdi wash up dead on a beach in Turkey as a refugee.

Another was when we saw the reports and heard the stories of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Another was when we see the video of the police officer with his knee on the neck of George Floyd.

Another for us might be the current hatred being spewed toward people of different races than our own, or different sexual orientations than our own. I am always amazed when I learn of people who had little understanding of or sensitivity to LGBTQ2S issues but then they encountered someone in their families or their circle of friends who came out to them. At that point, there were shifts in their thinking and attitudes.

Another might be the devastation of wildfires and floods that are becoming all to frequent on our planet. Suddenly the climate change discussion hits home.

All of these are opportunities to change our minds, to change our ways and to act in more loving ways and respectful ways by caring for one another and the earth that is God’s gift to us.

Whittall continues. When we are challenged with new ways of thinking, ways that upset our positions and attitudes, it can go two ways. Either we change our minds or we can double down on the way we already think. Like the religious authorities, sometimes, even after seeing things, even after experiencing Jesus, they still could not change their minds. It happens, doesn’t it? It happened to the Israelites in the wilderness. Even after being led across the Red Sea, even after receiving manna, they still doubted that God was with them when they thirsted. Despite this previous evidence, they still had difficulty in trusting in God’s ongoing presence.

It’s because it is hard to change our minds when everything we have known and grown accustomed to thinking, the way of life we knew back in Egypt, we might say, has shifted. For the religious authorities, it was their set way of doing things that shifted as Jesus marched into Jerusalem and upset those tables in the temple. Sometimes letting go of these ways means that there is a lot at stake. It is not always easy. None of us is perfect with our follow through. There will always be those tension points of debate and questioning when we too will feel threatened by what we are seeing or hearing, by new revelations that come our way.

As we say, the life of faith is all about a journey through many wildernesses. Yet, as we share around this table of Christ with our siblings around the world, we give thanks that he holds the door of opportunity for change open to us all. It is never too late for a reset by the Spirit who works in our lives and our world. May our sharing together in this feast nurture us as we encourage one another along the journey. Amen.

Your Generosity Matters


Providing children with the skillset they need to thrive after graduation.

A child, whose face is not shown, is crouched down and planting a seedling in the earth.

Credit: Pixabay/Canva

When we think of education, many of us envision a classroom with books and chalkboards. But education extends far beyond that: Through education, we can also learn how the world works and how we work in the world.

The Women and Family Services division at the Church of Christ in Congo provides children with the education and training they need to take charge of their own lives when they leave school. With a combination of traditional education and life skills, they provide each child with the skillset they need to thrive after graduation.

Through funding, livestock and seeds are purchased to teach children sustainable agriculture. Older children have the opportunity to assist with livestock after their classes. They learn to care for chickens and take part in odd jobs in the fields.

Your generosity through Mission and Service helps fund programs that inspire learning and skills for life. Thank you.

(In Person Service continues with World wide Communion)


Hymn: 481 VU Sent Forth by God’s Blessing


From this time of feasting and being nourished,

we go to resume our daily activities.

May the grace of God sustain us.

May the example of Jesus guide us.

May the breath of the Holy Spirit change us


today, tomorrow and forever. Amen.


September 24, 2023

Welcome to our worship service on this beautiful day! Thanks for joining in with us.

Reminder that Food Bank Sunday is next week so be sure as you are out doing your groceries this week to pick up a little extra to help others who are struggling. Thanks to each of you who contributed to the 100 lbs of food we dropped off last month! 

Next Sunday is World Wide Communion. Because of the pandemic, many of you have not been out to participate in this sacrament during these past few years so be sure to mark this on your calendar as we share at Christ’s table with our siblings around the world.

Next Sunday, after church, we will be Decorating for Thanksgiving if you would like to pitch in and help. 

With whatever this new week holds for you, be assured of God’s presence through it all!


Let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.


The light of Christ lights up our minds, hearts and spirits. Through his light we experience grace- a grace that is so amazing that like the candle’s light, it cannot be contained. It spreads and touches all who are open to it.

Call to Worship: (Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, April 2023)

Come! Now is the time to worship!

We come to worship God who provides!

When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God provided manna and quail.

God provides in unexpected ways.

Jesus tells a story of vineyard workers, some who work all day and some who work mere hours, yet the generous landowner paid all of them equally.

God provides in unexpected ways.

God does provide in unexpected ways, yet manna, quail, and grapes need gathering and harvesting.

We respond to God’s provision by gathering and harvesting all that God provides.

Come! Now is the time to worship!

We come to worship and partner with God who provides for the long haul!

Opening Prayer:

O God, your grace and generosity is offered to us each day.

As manna was for the Israelites, it is waiting for us to gather.

Through this grace, we are sustained.

There is enough for everyone.

May our worship of you this day open us once again to this amazing grace,

that as we are fed by it, we may learn to share it with one another. Amen.

Hymn: 227 VU For the Fruit of All Creation 

Prayer of Confession: (adapted from Worship Seeds, United Church of Christ)

God of abundant and overflowing grace, forgive us for embracing a worldview that capitalizes on scarcity.

Help us to know that you have given us enough for our journey.

You have created us wonderfully and uniquely.

Forgive us for comparing ourselves with our neighbor when we are called to love them.

Remind us that we are all your children, loved by you and called to bring our singular gifts to our common life.

Help us to remember that it is all grace. Amen.

Words of Affirmation:

Beloved, you are enough. God loves you as you are for who you are.

We, collectively, have enough and may share in a common life where all may flourish and live in harmony as our Creator intended and designed.

Know that you are forgiven and free to embrace the life that is uniquely yours.

Praise be to God! Amen.                                                     

Readings and Reflection:

Beyond Fairness to Grace

Our first reading this morning picks up the story of the journey of Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. A few weeks ago, we heard of God’s call to Moses from the burning bush, a call to plead with the Pharoah to set the people free. It was no easy escape for the Israelites. They had run for their lives with Pharoah’s army in hot pursuit. At the Red Sea, they crossed over on dry ground while the chariots and horses of Pharoah’s army drowned in the raging waters. In today’s passage, about a month had passed since that great celebration of the crossing, where, led by Moses’ sister Miriam on the tambourine, the people danced and sang of their escape, praising God for all they were worth. Today, however, we find that the mood of the people has changed. Now they find themselves in the wilderness of uncertainty. They are hungry. They are questioning their new reality. Where is God, now? Are we abandoned out here? They take their complaints to Moses. Through the daily gift of manna and quails, they learn to trust God- one day at a time. We’re going to read this story a little beyond our lectionary passage because I want us to pay attention to what happens when they fail to trust each day’s gift by trying to stockpile it, just in case. Let’s listen to how this unfolds for them:

Exodus 16: 2-31

  There in the desert they started complaining to Moses and Aaron, “We wish the Lord had killed us in Egypt. When we lived there, we could at least sit down and eat all the bread and meat we wanted. But you have brought us out here into this desert, where we are going to starve.”

The Lord said to Moses, “I will send bread down from heaven like rain. Tell the people to go out each day and gather only enough for that day. That’s how I will see if they obey me. But on the sixth day of each week they must gather and cook twice as much.”

Moses and Aaron told the people, “This evening you will know that the Lord was the one who rescued you from Egypt. And in the morning, you will see his glorious power, because he has heard your complaints against him. Why should you grumble to us? Who are we?”

Then Moses continued, “You will know it is the Lord when he gives you meat each evening and more than enough bread each morning. He is really the one you are complaining about, not us—we are nobodies—but the Lord has heard your complaints.”

Moses turned to Aaron and said, “Bring the people together, because the Lord has heard their complaints.”

10 Aaron was speaking to them, when everyone looked out toward the desert and saw the bright glory of the Lord in a cloud. 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard my people complain. Now tell them that each evening they will have meat and each morning they will have more than enough bread. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”

13 That evening a lot of quails came and landed everywhere in the camp, and the next morning dew covered the ground. 14 After the dew had gone, the desert was covered with thin flakes that looked like frost. 15 The people had never seen anything like this, and they started asking each other, “What is it?”

Moses answered, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 And he orders you to gather about two liters for each person in your family—that should be more than enough.”

17 They did as they were told. Some gathered more and some gathered less. 18 Everyone had exactly what they needed, just the right amount.

19 Moses told them not to keep any overnight. 20 Some of them disobeyed, but the next morning what they kept was stinking and full of worms, and Moses was angry.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and in the heat of the day the rest melted. 22 However, on the sixth day of the week, everyone gathered enough to have four liters, instead of two. When the leaders reported this to Moses, he told them that the Lord had said, “Tomorrow is the Sabbath, a sacred day of rest in honor of me. So, gather all you want to bake or boil, and make sure you save enough for tomorrow.”

24 The people obeyed, and the next morning the food smelled fine and had no worms. 25 “You may eat the food,” Moses said. “Today is the Sabbath in honor of the Lord, and there won’t be any of this food on the ground today. 26 You will find it there for the first six days of the week, but not on the Sabbath.”

27 A few of the Israelites did go out to look for some, but there was none. 28 Then the Lord said, “Moses, how long will you people keep disobeying my laws and teachings? 29 Remember that I was the one who gave you the Sabbath. That’s why on the sixth day I provide enough bread for two days. Everyone is to stay home and rest on the Sabbath.” 30 And so they rested on the Sabbath.

31 The Israelites called the bread manna.

Our gospel reading is sandwiched between two incidents when the disciples are jockeying for position and rewards for being followers of Jesus. Into this context Jesus shares this parable, known as the labourers in the vineyard:

Matthew 20: 1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So, they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This parable usually does not rank as a favourite one for most people. So, this morning I want to have us explore together why that is. First, though, I want to begin with a little quote from a well-known Christian educator, John Westerhoff:

“If you are not feeling very upset or if you are feeling comfortable after you have read a parable in the Bible, just assume that you did not get it. Its function is to turn your life upside down and get you very upset and most people are not upset about parables. That means they did not get it.”

This parable, in particular, is one that should send us into a rage. That’s because it is so radical that it offends our common-sense way of looking at the world. It grates on us in much the same way as a fingernail grating on one of those old blackboards. Biblical commentator Barbara Brown Taylor likens this parable to cod liver oil. “You know Jesus is right, you know it must be good for you but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.” Why? Because in our human way of looking at things, the front of the line, the top of the heap, the hardest worker, the first at work in the morning and the last to leave at night – these are the things that generally get the most recognition and reward. Besides, most of us have been raised in what is called the Protestant work ethic that says things like if you work hard, you will earn a good wage. If you work twice as hard, you will be doubly rewarded. Along with that we also have those little sayings like ‘the early bird catches the worm.’ We speak about things like “working your way up in an organization.” We value equal pay for equal work. Even from the time we are young children we have this innate sense of fairness. We notice if our friend at a birthday party gets a bigger piece of cake than we do. We cry foul as adults when we are negotiating our phone and internet plans with one of the servers like Bell or Rogers and remark how new customers always seem to get all the discounted bundles while those of us who have been loyal customers for years have to pay more. No fair, we say.

William Willimon, a well-known Biblical scholar, shares a story about a time he preached this parable. On the way out of worship a young woman asked him, “Where do you get these stories? I found the one you told today offensive.”


“Yes. It is not right to pay everyone the same wage when some have worked harder than others. That’s unjust,” she said.

“Wait a minute here,” said Willimon, “that story is not original to me. It is from Matthew.” The woman looked blank.

“In the Bible.”

“Oh yeah, the Bible”, she responded. “I haven’t been to church much. My parents took us a couple of times when we were kids, but that is it.”

“Well,” said Willimon, “I almost envy you. I have heard that parable so often it has begun to make perfect sense and it has begun to sound reasonable. Here, today, everyone else has come out of worship telling me it was a nice sermon. You, on the other hand, are the only one who mentioned you were offended, outraged even. In a sense, you were the only person who understood the parable. Just for your information- the man who told this story originally was crucified for telling it.”

Why? Because Jesus was speaking about grace. In the parable, at the end of the work day for those labourers in the vineyard, that grace meant that everyone- those who were hired at the crack of dawn and worked through the midday sun, those who were hired later and still those who were hired when it was almost sundown all received an amount that would assure that they and their families would have enough to get by for another day. Everyone had what was needed to assure them dignity and security. The landowner did a loving thing for each worker in the field. The early hires got what was promised them. The late hires got what the owner deemed to be the right wage. So, what was the problem? Why is it that early hires grumbled? Because what the owner did contrasted with the way things were normally done. As these early hires said, “You have made ‘them” equal to us.” In other words, we liked it better when there was an “us” and a “them”. We like it better when it was a competition. In many ways, their response to the landowner sounds a lot like the response of the elder brother in the prodigal son story, the one who stayed home, who worked harder than his scoundrel brother. How dare his father reward him! That’s the complaint of those early hires too- whatever happened to an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work? Yet here, as in many of Jesus’ teachings and parables, that old tit for tat doesn’t work anymore.

Phillip Martin, in an online reflection of this passage, shares a story about his high school graduation. There were no valedictorians or salutatorians. There were no sashes for honour or extra tassels or identifying badges. There was no way to tell rank in class or athletic honours or who had been most active in extra curricular activities. Phillip said that when I was graduating, I thought this was all normal but it turns out the principal took a lot of flack for this. The principal, however, was adamant that everyone would wear identical gowns so that as far as the audience could figure out, all the graduates were equal achievers. Phillip said that it turns out the parents of the 2 top achievers were the persons who protested the loudest. To the principal though a diploma was a diploma. The achievement being celebrated by all was the graduation, no matter how each one of the students got there. For some the journey to that day would have been much harder than for others. Each student’s home environment would have varied. Some might have had supportive family structures. Others might have been shuffled from one foster family to another. Others might have endured unimaginable hardships like personal or family illnesses, or addiction, or even recent family deaths that made the path to graduation all the harder. No doubt, this sensitive principal would have been well aware of many of these circumstances and recognized the importance of giving each of those graduates the equal recognition they needed as they were sent forth into the world.

Sounds a lot like the lesson in our parable, doesn’t it? It is exactly what we see Jesus doing over and over again. He is trying to help us to see that in God’s realm things are not necessarily “fair” in our human way of looking at them. Simply because God is not interested in being fair as much as God is interested in sharing grace.  Receiving that grace has nothing to do with entering a competition or earning it by hard work. Nor is it based on merit points. These kinds of kingdom values call us to see things in an upside-down way- much like the kind of world Mary first sang about at the time of the visit from the angel Gabriel where she envisioned a world where the mighty would be brought down from their thrones and the weak lifted and so on. Yet, as Jesus found out, that kind of world is one that infuriated the people enough to have him crucified for proclaiming it.

Nonetheless, it is this kind of world, a world with a whole new order different from the human values of greed, inequality, and so on that God continues to call us to live and work toward. It’s a world where everyone gets a wage that is enough to live on, where all of us can rejoice that we are equal recipients of God’s grace- a grace that not one of us can ever say that we have earned or deserved. It’s a grace that as Rolf Jacobson describes is “so vast and incomprehensible that trying to understand it would be like a desert dweller standing on a beach and seeing the ocean for the first time and then trying to put it all into words.” No wonder we call it amazing grace. Because it is so upside down to our way of thinking, it simply doesn’t make sense or conform to our logic. All we can do is simply receive it and celebrate it as it is poured out, not only on us, but on everyone- early birds and latecomers alike, it makes no difference- fresh every morning, like manna for our hearts. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Your Generosity Matters!

You bring a gift that I don’t have; I bring a gift that you may not have.”

Cover of Alf Dumont's book The Other Side of the River: From Church Pew to Sweat Lodge, with these words and the author name against a photo of a river.

Alf Dumont’s memoir bridges First Nations and non‒First Nations understandings.  Credit: The United Church of Canada

When Alf Dumont’s Roman Catholic father and Anishinaabe mother asked the priest serving the Shawanaga reserve to marry them, the priest rejected their request, advising them to “marry someone of their own kind.” Nearby, a United Church minister had a different response. He told the couple he had just two rules: “If you have differences, talk them out and just try to get along.”

“Dad and Mom said ‘I think we can do that.’ They brought together First Nations understanding and non-First Nations understanding. That’s how I came to the church,” Dumont recounts in a United in Learning webinar.

Dumont spent his life as a spiritual leader, serving the United Church as a minister while staying connected with his traditional Indigenous spirituality. His memoir The Other Side of the River: From Church Pew to Sweat Lodge(opens in a new tab) shares stories of how Dumont walks between the two worlds of Indigenous and settler, traditional spirituality and Christianity.

“Part of the struggle with me in life was to find out who I was as Anishinaabe and who I was as French, Irish, and English mix,” Dumont shares. With a foot in both sides of the river, Dumont’s words eloquently draw together spiritual threads.

“There are seven truths in some of the Anishinaabe teaching: love, courage, respect, humility, truth, wisdom, and honesty. But you can’t have one of those teachings or truths without having the others. So, you can’t have respect without love. You can’t have truth without humility,” explains Dumont. “I took those underlying teachings and applied them to the four teachings on love: Love God. Love your neighbour. Love your enemy. Love yourself. You can’t have one teaching without the other. You can’t love God if you don’t truly love yourself. You cannot love your neighbour unless you truly love God.”

In an interview(opens in a new tab)Broadview magazine asked Dumont to weigh in on the future of reconciliation: “Part of the struggle has to do with learning to walk together again. It means being as open as we can,” he says. “You bring a gift that I don’t have; I bring a gift that you may not have. And as we share, we learn from the gifts that we have been given.”

Your gifts through Mission and Service help support the creation and publication of luminous, timely work like Dumont’s book as well as the webinar discussions and education events that follow. Through listening and learning, we take important steps forward on the journey toward reconciliation.

Let us pray:

Loving God, your generosity to us is extravagant. Each day as we look at the beauty of creation all around us, the bounty of the harvest of our gardens and fields, the river running through our communities, the forests and the landscape of this fall season, we are reminded of your call to live with respect and care for it all.

We give thanks for the ways you seek each one of us and call us to be your disciples. Thank you for the grace of your love shared with us in equal measure. May we never forget that all your blessings to us are meant to be shared. Help us as we work for a world where all people are free and loved unconditionally.

We pray for those in our world who are persecuted for their faith. May your love shine through the persecution and give them strength and courage to live their faith in you on whatever path they follow. May we find ways to challenge persecution and discrimination, wherever we see it. Show us ways to work toward a world where everyone’s needs for the basics of life, things like food, clothing, a fair wage, safety, education, acceptance, health care and shelter are met. Guide us, that we might be examples, not just of fairness, but of the just way of your kingdom, here and now on earth. We offer our prayers for ourselves, for those we know and those whose circumstances are known only by you… for the many who are anxious and in need of comfort and direction, for the many who are ill and longing for health, for the many who experiencing loss and in need of hope and reassurance, for the many who are lonely and in need of support and encouragement…

We offer these and all our prayers in the name of your love lived on earth, our friend Jesus, who taught us to pray saying together… Our Father…

 Hymn: 127 MV I Saw the Rich Ones 

Blessing: (based on Exodus 16:2-15, Matthew 20:1-16)

Go out from here

as workers in God’s upside-down kingdom,

where the last are first and the first are last,

where needs are met in miraculous ways,

and there is grace enough for all!

And may the blessing of God,

the love of Jesus Christ,

and the presence of the Holy Spirit


surround you and sustain you in the coming days. Amen


September 17, 2023

Good afternoon,

Welcome to worship on this bright day after the hurricane!

Hope you are finding a way to enjoy the sunshine.


Official Board next Sunday after worship.


Have a blessed week.


This land on which we gather is traditional land of the Wabanaki peoples, predominantly, the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy. We worship the Creator on this land and acknowledge with respect the thousands of years of ceremony and relationship that are etched in footprint, fire and faithfulness on the soil and rock that surrounds us.

As we light this candle this morning, we are reminded of the call to centre our lives on Jesus, who models for us a way of life centred on love for all God’s children.

Call to Worship:(inspired by Psalm 103)

Bless the Holy One with our whole selves. Praise the Maker of our being!
Remember the mighty deeds and the good works of our God.
The Sovereign One endows us with many gifts and equips us to do good work.
Remember the mighty deeds and the good works of our God.
Holy Love entered the world without condemnation but with grace and forgiveness, mercy and compassion, redemption and restoration.
Hallelujah! We give thanks for the mighty deeds and the good works of our God!

Opening Prayer: (adapted from Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Lindsay, Minister for Worship and Theology, United Church of Christ.)

Loving and forgiving God, it is you who gathers us together and forms us as a community.

It is you who makes us uniquely individual and who designs us for companionship.

Let us journey together this day in your presence reminded of our interdependence with one another.

May we see your glory and be inspired to demonstrate your goodness and care through our lives. Amen.

Hymn: 232 VU Joyful, Joyful We Adore You

Prayer of Confession:
God of grace, we need your strength in our weakness.

We confess that we can be judgemental and hyper-critical of our neighbours, family, and friends. (silence)

We confess the times when we have held on to our grudges, rather than letting them go. (silence)

We confess how we have projected our own shortcomings on others in order to deflect attention from our own mistakes. (silence)

We withhold and condition forgiveness, mercy, and grace from those who wrong us at the same time we seek it for the wrongs we have done. (silence)

Even still, we struggle to forgive ourselves.

You have shown us the better way.

Help us to follow your path–receiving and extending forgiveness in a world in need of an infusion of grace for transformation.

In your mercy, O God, hear our prayer, and let us forgive as you forgive. Amen.


Words of Affirmation
Beloved, grace has always been part of God’s relationship with humanity. God does not want us condemned or held captive by unresolved anger leading to bitterness. Rather, Creator desires for all of us to be released as both forgiven and forgiver so that all may live a life that is whole, free, and flourishing.

To forgive and to be for forgiven from the heart as God forgives us, that is our call.

May it be so among us. Amen.

Readings and Reflection:

Forgiveness as a Way of Life

During the summer in our worship services, we followed through the story of Abraham and Sarah, then Isaac and Rebekkah and their sons, Jacob and Esau. Then we came to the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph, who was despised by his brothers and sold off to travelling merchants. We heard how, after a series of twists and turns, he became a “big wig” in the Egyptian government. Then, came a great famine back and his brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph was in charge of food distribution but the brothers did not recognize him, thinking he was long gone. After toying with them for a bit, Joseph eventually revealed his identity to them and there was this great reunion and reconciliation. However, even after their father Jacob’s death, the brothers were still uncertain of their relationship with Joseph, still having a hard time feeling forgiven and still wondering if Joseph might seek revenge. I know that a couple of weeks ago we moved on to the story of Moses with the burning bush. However, today, I am going to backtrack a bit to a reading from the end of Genesis to the scene at the time of Jacob’s death and the brothers hear, once again, Joseph’s words of forgiveness.

Genesis 50: 15-21

15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Our gospel reading is part of a larger section in Matthew where Jesus is talking about relationships in the Christian community- the kind of things Elizabeth was encouraging us with last week- doing everything in our power to nourish and to strengthen the bonds of love. In this passage bold Peter, once again, is asking a question. He wants to know the limits he needs to place on forgiveness. When is enough, enough? When can I draw a line in the sand and say that is as far as I need to go? Let’s listen to how Jesus answers him, and the story he tells.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?”

22 Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times. 23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle accounts, they brought to him a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. 25 Because the servant didn’t have enough to pay it back, the master ordered that he should be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he had, and that the proceeds should be used as payment. 26 But the servant fell down, kneeled before him, and said, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 27 The master had compassion on that servant, released him, and forgave the loan.

28 “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’

29 “Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt.

31 “When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. 32 His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt.

35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

It is not hard to see how these two passages are related through the common theme of forgiveness. In my opinion, probably one of the hardest things about living in community as faithful followers of Christ. Whether it is in granting another forgiveness or receiving the forgiveness of another it is something that, if we are at all honest with ourselves, we wrestle with a lot.

Take a few moments with me and think about someone whose name you dread seeing on your caller id on your phone or whose name in your email box places you on guard. Or maybe you are thinking of a neighbour who often gives you trouble. Or a co-worker or even a family member, or dare I say it a fellow worshipper who has hurt you and you just can’t forgive. Maybe you dread being in their presence. Who among us has never found ourselves involved in a situation where someone has wronged us and we have found it hard to forgive.

Just recently I was hurt by something a long-time friend said to me. And, for months, I seethed. I rehearsed the conversation over and over again in my mind. I told other close friends what was said. Eventually, after a while of not being in conversation with each other, this friend called me and asked if there was a problem. Finally, I spoke of my hurt and long story short, we reconciled. Yet, prior to that point, I could relate to that greatly forgiven slave in the parable Jesus tells who refused to forgive another slave a small debt. It was far easier to nurse my grudge and to tell others how I had been wronged rather than to name it and discuss it with my friend. As it turned out, my friend was not even aware how her words had been interpreted by me!

Then there are other times in our lives when we have hurt others and find ourselves in need of their forgiveness. We know how the guilt and shame of our actions or maybe our words can eat away at us.  To be human is to face these kinds of situations in our relationships at home, in the community, at work and even in the church. We all make mistakes and find ourselves needing forgiveness from time to time.  And the interesting thing is that even when we think such brokenness is only between ourselves and another person, it has an effect on the whole community. Think back to the parable again. When the much-forgiven slave refused to forgive his fellow slave and grabbed him by the throat, all the others slaves witnessed this and were greatly distressed.  It disturbed their sense of community. It caused unrest within the body.

Forgiveness sounds easy. It sounds basic to our lives as people of faith. That is, until, as Cameron Trimble once put it, we have someone to forgive or something to forgive. Then it becomes a bit more complicated. Somewhere. Sometime. We have all found ourselves in the role of being either wounded or having wounded another.

Land only knows because of our common humanity, there have been countless stories told of people’s phenomenal ability to forgive horrible and tragic experiences in their lives. The story of Corrie Ten Boom that I sent out to you earlier in the week is one such example. The same with how to books giving us instruction about how to forgive. Yet, let’s be honest with ourselves. Forgiveness is hard. It is much easier for us to get fed up with another who has hurt us and to just stay that way. As with the forgiven slave in our parable, vengeance becomes our more natural response when we are offended by another. We snarl. We dig out our claws. Often, we grow bitter. We allow things to fester. Then, we pull out the ledger and add even more offenses to the list of what another has done to us. Yet, isn’t this the point of Jesus’ parable- if we start keeping ledgers on forgiveness, we will always end up in the red! Because no amount of tallying our forgiveness of others can ever compare to how God has forgiven us. Because God does not keep track!

I don’t pretend to have any magic formula about forgiveness. Commentator Karoline Lewis however offers us this piece of advice which I found rather helpful, “often our resistance to forgive is rooted in our resistance to believe that we ourselves can be forgiven. Knowing ourselves as forgiven children of God is a gift that confers upon us the capacity to forgive as a response” That was what happened to the much-forgiven servant in our story- he missed the significance of being forgiven. Only when we perceive God’s remarkable love and grace given to us will we be filled with the desire to love and forgive others. Still, though, I maintain that this is often easier said than done.

Maybe, though, it has something to do with how we attempt to define forgiveness. And maybe in doing that we need to first outline what forgiveness is not:

-it is not “forgive and forget”. It still means addressing the wrongs. I think of something like the abuse at aboriginal residential schools. Many years ago, our United Church of Canada offered an apology for our involvement in those schools. Yet, we continue to work with aboriginal people in living out that apology, in setting things right again, by the actions we take and by the words we speak. Only then will the healing take place.

– forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone or overlook another’s bad behaviour. It doesn’t mean we deny or minimize the hurt it caused us or others. It is not simply letting bygones be bygones, pretending that what happened to us didn’t matter. It simply means not letting the wrong have power over us. Rabbi Harold Kushner once told the story of a woman in his congregation who came to see him. She was a single mother, divorced and working to support herself and raise her 3 children. She tells him, “Since my husband walked out on us, every month is a struggle to pay the bills. I have to tell my kids there is no money to go to the movies while he is living it up with his new wife. How can you tell me to forgive him?”

Kushner responds to her, “I’m not asking you to forgive him because what he did to you was acceptable. It wasn’t. It was mean and selfish. I’m asking you to forgive because he doesn’t deserve the power to live in your head and turn you into a bitter and angry woman. I’d like to see him out of your life emotionally as completely as he is out of it physically but you keep holding on to him. You’re not hurting him by holding on to that resentment, but you are hurting yourself.”

That is similar to a question one prisoner of war asked another-

Have you forgiven your captors yet?

No, I will never do that, said the other.

Then, they still hold you in prison, don’t they?

Nelson Mandela put it this way, “when we hold a grudge, it like drinking poison, hoping it will kill our enemies.”

-Forgiveness doesn’t mean giving another the license to continue with the injustice, the abuse or the oppression. It doesn’t mean acting like things don’t need to change.

-Forgiveness is has nothing to do with allowing people to continue walking over us like a doormat or placing ourselves in the position of being a perpetual victim. It does not mean staying in a toxic relationship or pretending that the hurt didn’t happen.

So, what is forgiveness then? There is no shortage of attempts to define it. Let me give you a couple:

Frederick Buechner writes: “To forgive someone is to say one way or another, ‘you have done something unspeakable and by all rights I should call it quits between us. Both my pride and my principles demand no less. However, although I have no guarantee that I will be able to forgive what you’ve done, and though we many both carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. I still want you for my friend.’

Marjorie Thompson, a Presbyterian minister, writes in an article “Moving Toward Forgiveness”:

“To forgive is to make a conscious choice to release the person who has wounded us from the sentence of our judgment, however justified that judgment may be. It represents a choice to leave behind our resentment and desire for retribution, however fair such punishment may seem…. Forgiveness involves excusing persons from the punitive consequences they deserve because of their behavior. The behavior remains condemned, but the offender is released from its effects as far as the forgiver is concerned. Forgiveness means the power of the original wound’s power to hold us trapped is broken.”

It is little wonder that Jesus refuses to quantify the number of times we need to forgive. That’s because forgiveness is vast. It is not quantifiable. It is an ongoing quality of our hearts and minds that we need to keep working at as individuals and as a community of faith. It is a skill set for living, a way of walking in the ways of Jesus and a huge part of who we are as children of God, living in response to God’s amazing grace poured out on us. And I do believe that it is not something that comes easy to most of us, nor is it a natural way of responding to the wounds that we have received and the hurts that we have caused to others. It is more like a muscle that needs our work. Something that we need to keep practicing over and over again if, as Father Richard Rohr writes, “humanity is to have a sustainable future. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, both individually and corporately.” Forgiveness is our way of paying forward the healing grace and forgiveness of God, a gift we give both to another and to ourselves. A lifestyle. An ongoing and never-ending practice, a way of life that sets us all free. Amen.

Your Generosity Matters!

 Every child has the right to learn.

Image: Head shot of a young Black man against a background in Africa

Credit: The United Church of Canada

Where would you be if you had no education? School fees, violence, child labour, and discrimination mean that too many children can’t go to or stay in school in parts of the world.

Every child has the right to learn.

Mission and Service partner Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR) brings together child rights organizations to share information about child protection and safeguarding and helps to support children in schools.

Thanks to your support, KAACR has established over 300 child rights clubs in schools. One of these clubs helped Meshack through primary school. A bursary program has helped him pay high school fees, and the child rights club at his school is teaching him how to be a positive role model.

“To start [going to] school was a problem. KAACR has helped me. They encouraged me a lot. They enabled me to start my primary school. Now I’m in high school,” Meshack says. “The club is helping us a lot, too. They give us role models to teach us what is bad and help us be confident in whatever we are doing. I’m very happy.”

Thank you for helping to break down barriers so every child can go to school, regardless of who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. Your generous support through Mission and Service means that children around the world have the opportunity to go to school thanks to partnerships with organizations like KAACR.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

O God, as our lives take on new rhythms after the summer months, we are mindful of your gifts and patterns revealed in creation- the rising and setting of the sun, planting and harvest, the changing seasons and for your bounty in supplying all our needs. We praise you for times of joy and celebration like we experienced last week in our amalgamation worship service. We praise you also for life’s challenges when we search for your presence and direction. We thank you for times of wonder as we listen to the migration of the geese honking overhead, as we feel the autumn winds blowing through trees that are losing their leaves and as we watch all of nature preparing for a time of rest and renewal over the coming winter months. As we bask in the beauty of it all, help us as we seek to live in a caring and respectful relationship with creation.

We thank you for our community of faith and for the relationships that we are striving to build together. Help us to encourage one another to share our gifts and to serve in your ways of love and justice. Teach us to forgive one another as you forgive us. Where there is resentment from old offenses, may we be the first to reach out and to set things right. Teach us patience with others and with ourselves. May our communication with one another model your ways of respect for diversity and differences and inclusion of all.

We pray this day for all among us who carry painful baggage of hurts received and who struggle for a way to move forward, for all who have been abused and struggle with flashbacks, for all who have felt betrayed by another and find it difficult to let go. Help each person to find healing and hope.

We pray for all who this day are feeling unsettled about their health or the health of a loved one. For all who journey through grief, for all who are living through the tumult of natural disasters- hurricanes, fires, floods and earthquakes. We pray especially for the people of Libia and Morocco. Give them the courage and resilience they need as they rebuild their lives. Grant strength to all who are working day and night to relieve their needs.

Hear these our prayers, loving God, together with the unspoken prayers of our hearts, as we offer them in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray as one, saying… Our Father…

Hymn: 684 VU Make Me a Channel of Your Peace 


Let us go from this place with a posture of forgiveness,

leading and being led by the grace that calls us into right relationships


with God, neighbour, self and creation. Amen.