Read-along Service for Sunday, June 6, 2021

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
June 6, 2021 – Second Sunday after Pentecost

Prelude
Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a sign of God’s Spirit which is present in the world.
May its flame brighten our spirits. May it ignite our passion, our hope and our joy as we share in God’s mission to brighten the world.

Call To worship
We look to the rulers of this earth for leadership, wisdom, and strength. We look to these bodies of ours for stability, fulfillment, and joy. We look to families and friends for love, compassion, and hope. When rulers betray, when bodies fail, and when families disappoint, God offers a different source of hope. For God the creator will guide us. God’s Spirit will sustain us. Christ will welcome us home. Come, my sisters and brothers, let us gather for worship, for here in this place, we are all God’s family now. And in God’s love, there is room for us all. Amen.

Prayer of Approach
Faithful God, we come into Your presence with thanksgiving. We are deeply grateful for the unfailing love You have shown toward us.  When we call out to You, You answer. When we are exhausted, You give us the strength to go on. When we find ourselves in trouble, You are there, standing beside us.
And so we come before You in a spirit of gratitude. We offer You the worship of our hearts and lives. Open our eyes to see You here among us; open our ears to recognize Your voice. Lift us up we pray, so we might live and work in the world as Your faithful disciples. All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and friend. Amen.

Hymn        Holy Spirit, Source of Love                                          VU 515

1.      Holy Spirit, source of love,
          who, to us, came from above,
                   gifts of blessing to bestow
                   on your waiting church below:
          once again in love draw near
          to your servants gathered here.

2.      Give them light your truth to see,
          strength to serve you joyfully,
                   daily power to conquer sin,
                   patient faith the crown to win;
          shield them from temptation’s breath,
                   keep them faithful unto death.

3.      When the sacred vow is made,
          when the hands are on them laid,
                   come in this most solemn hour,
                   with your sevenfold gifts of power;
          come, O blessèd Spirit, come,
          make each eager heart your home.

Scriptures
Bible Story:  The problem with kings (1 Samuel 8-9)
Mark 3:20-35

Special Music
Homily
Musical Response

The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us. As so many of our traditional fundraisers have had to be put on hold, your donations are vitally important. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Hymn         O Holy Spirit, By Whose Breath                                  VU 200

1.      O Holy Spirit, by whose breath
          Life rises vibrant out of death:
          come to create, renew, inspire;
          come, kindle in our hearts your fire.

2.      You are the seeker’s sure resource,
          of burning love the living source,
          protector in the midst of strife,
          source and sustainer of all life.

3.      In you God’s energy is shown,
          to us your varied gifts made known.
          Teach us to speak; teach us to hear;
          yours is the tongue and yours the ear.

4.      Flood our dull senses with our light;
          in mutual love our hearts unite.
          Your power the whole creation fills;
          confirm our weak, uncertain wills.

5.      From inner strife grant us release;
          turn nations to the ways of peace.
          To fuller life your people bring
          That as one body we may sing:
          Coda:         Praise to God, to Christ the Word,
                             and to the Spirit:  all adored. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn         Spirit, Open My Heart                                                  MV 79

Refrain:    
Spirit, open my heart to the joy and pain of living.
As you love may I love, in receiving and in giving,
Spirit, open my heart.

1.      God, replace my stony heart
          with a heart that’s kind and tender.
          All my coldness and fear
          to our grace I now surrender. Refrain

2.      Write your love upon my heart
          as my law, my goal, my story.
          In each thought, word, and deed,
          may my living bring you glory.         Refrain

3.      May I weep with those who weep,
          share the joy of sister, brother.
          In the welcome of Christ,
          may we welcome one another.       Refrain

Benediction
We leave this time of worship renewed for the week that lies ahead. Go into the world with assurance, hope and promise. May the grace of our brother Jesus Christ rest upon you. May the love of God, who is creator and giver of life, shine upon you. And may the presence of the Holy Spirit encourage you – and surprise you, this day and all your days.   Amen.

Postlude

“Sorry” Sermon for Union Sunday, June 6, 2021
by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

It was on June 10th, 1925 that the United Church of Canada was born. So this Sunday is called Union Sunday, as we celebrate the coming together of the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists. A fourth denomination, the Evangelical United Brethren joined in 1968. This was a historic first as different churches came together to form a new church union that was designed to serve this new nation. Usually this Sunday is a time of celebration as we pay tribute to the founding of our denomination. And that certainly was our plan, until the events coming out of Kamloops hit everyone like a ton of bricks. As news came that the remains of 215 children had been found in unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School, our whole country has entered into a time of mourning for these children, for their families, and their communities.

The Residential School system was designed by the Government of Canada, and run by Canadian Churches. When the United Church of Canada came together our founding denominations brought with them their eleven residential schools. The Residential School system was designed to assimilate indigenous children into Canadian society by cutting them off from their language and culture. The hope was that they would have a better life being a productive member of Canadian society. The Residential School system did a lot of cultural harm that emotionally damaged the children who were forced to attend the schools. The Residential Schools were a breeding ground for communicable diseases which killed many students. And to make matters worse, there were far too many cases of physical and sexual abuse committed against these children by the religious leaders who were supposed to be caring for them.

The problems with the Residential School system have been well known for decades. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2008 after a landmark lawsuit against the federal government for the suffering caused by the schools. Last week’s news that there were an additional 215 undocumented graves at the Kamloops school has sent shock waves across our country. What shocks me the most about the discovery of the 215 unmarked graves is the fact these children were buried in unmarked graves. This was a church run school. Those children should have been buried in the consecrated church yard. It goes against church tradition. To be buried outside of a consecrated grave yard is a fate normally reserved for unrepentant sinners and people who commit suicide. I don’t know why those church leaders chose to show such disrespect to the innocent children who were entrusted into their care. It is the ultimate act of disrespect that says “You are not my people and you are not worthy of going to heaven.” I am so sorry they were treated so badly that they were not even given a proper burial.

We as the United Church have had to come to grips with our role  in the shameful treatment of our indigenous brothers and sisters. It is never easy to say we are sorry for what has happened. But we know that only a heart felt confession and honest repentance can open the door to forgiveness and reconciliation. Learning to say ‘sorry’ is the first step.

Our church has been ministering to the indigenous people of this land for two hundred years. Over time we slowly learned we should be ministering with them instead of to them. This change in thinking was expressed back in 1986 when a formal apology was offered to the first peoples of this land.

Long before my people journeyed to this land
your people were here, and you received from your Elders
an understanding of creation
and of the Mystery that surrounds us all
that was deep, and rich, and to be treasured.

 We did not hear you when you shared your vision.
In our zeal to tell you of the good news of Jesus Christ
we were closed to the value of your spirituality.
We confused Western ways and culture
with the depth and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ.
We imposed our civilization as a condition of accepting the gospel.
We tried to make you be like us
and in so doing we helped to destroy
the vision that made you what you were.
As a result, you, and we, are poorer
and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred,
and we are not what we are meant by God to be.
We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the Spirit of Christ
so that our peoples may be blessed and God’s creation healed.

The goal of such an apology is for us to seek reconciliation and healing. This means we need to be willing to tell the truth of the harm we have done to others, even if it was done with the best on intentions. By repenting of that harm, we can begin to heal each other. Together we created the Healing Fund in 1994 to support programs that address the ongoing impacts of the residential school system. Out of this ongoing work of reconciliation a second apology was offered in 1999 that specifically addressed the pain and suffering caused by the United Church’s running of those residential schools. We specifically acknowledged and apologized for the physical, sexual and emotional abuse that students endured. In that document we stated

We are in the midst of a long and painful journey as we reflect on the cries that we did
not or would not hear, and how we have behaved as a church. As we travel this difficult
road of repentance, reconciliation, and healing, we commit ourselves to work toward
ensuring that we will never again use our power as a church to hurt others with attitudes
of racial and spiritual superiority.

The road that leads to reconciliation is a long one. The discovery of the unmarked graves in Kamloops  means that all Canadians have now heard those cries. The knowledge that there are many more lost children in other unmarked graves who need to be brought home shows there is still much work to be done by us all. This is a watershed moment as the ugly truth of what has been done in our name as Christians and as Canadians has been laid bare for all to see. This is a historic moment, for as a nation we are taking this tragedy seriously and we are truly sorry for the terrible harm that has been done. I believe significant change will come out of this painful discovery.

I think the founders of the United Church of Canada wanted us to come together so we could better face a difficult moment such as this. The inaugural service of the United Church was held on June 10th 1925 in a hockey rink in Toronto. The sermon that was preached that day did not promise a great and glorious future for this bold experiment. Instead the preacher took as his text John 12. He focused on one verse. “Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

At the birth of a new church, they were challenged to embrace a willingness to die in order to “enter into a larger life.” They were reminded that the grain of wheat which does not die will perish. This is the paradox that has brought us together. We were formed to be a life-giving presence in communities across Canada in the future. In order to do this we had to be willing to let our separate denominational identities die to make it happen.  The treasures of the past are seeds that will give life for the times ahead. We harvest those seed for the ever changing present needs we encounter every day. And then we let them go, falling to the ground as new seed. In order for us to go forward, we must be willing to die to what was, so we can bring forth a great harvest that will give life in abundance.

The challenges we face going forward are great. The road that leads to reconciliation is a long one. It will lead us to a new understanding of what it means to be Canadian. It will lead us to a richer understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Thankfully we do not face these challenges alone. Our indigenous brothers and sisters want to walk the way of healing with us.

As the United Church’s New Creed says,

“In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”

You can view the full text of both apologies at

https://united-church.ca/sites/default/files/apologies-response-crest.pdf

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