Read-along Service for Sunday, April 21, 2024 – Earth Sunday

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
April 21, 2024 – 4th Sunday of Easter
Earth Sunday


Words of welcome, announcements

Land Acknowledgement
We acknowledge our church and the town of Renfrew are located on traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation. For thousands of years they have been stewards of this land. We seek a new relationship with the original Peoples of this land, one rooted in deep respect that honours their sacred connection to the land.  We are grateful for the opportunity to call this place our home, so we commit ourselves to the work of reconciliation with all Indigenous Peoples. It is our prayer that we too will live with respect on this land so it may continue to be a blessing to future generations.

Lighting the Christ Candle
In this season of resurrection, we light this candle as testimony to God’s enduring faithfulness.  May the light of the risen Christ scatter the darkness of our hearts and minds. For God’s undying love and kindness shines for all to see. 

Choral Introit

Call To worship
God cares for us the way a shepherd cares for their flock. We are invited to see ourselves as belonging to one flock, so we might be in community with all living things. Jesus shows us how to love each other, so we may be at peace with all our siblings and all our relations. We join our hearts and voices together as one flock to worship our God, the maker of heaven and earth. Come, for the good shepherd is calling us home. Amen.

Hymn                            O Beautiful Gaia                                       MV 41


          O beautiful Gaia, O Gaia, calling us home,
          O beautiful Gaia, calling us on.

  1. Soil yielding its harvest,
    O Gaia, calling us home.
    Soil yielding its harvest,
    calling us on.                Refrain
  1. Waves crashing on granite,
    O Gaia, calling us home.
    Waves crashing on granite,
    calling us on.                Refrain
  1. Pine bending in windstorm,
    O Gaia, calling us home.
    Pine bending in windstorm,
    calling us on.                Refrain
  1. Loon nesting in marshland,
    O Gaia, calling us home.
    Loon nesting in marshland,
    calling us on.                Refrain

Prayer of Approach
Loving God, as we gather together, we are thankful for your Creation. We give thanks for sun and moon; for the sky, for the fertile earth and the sea. In this season of spring we give thanks for seeds, new growth and fresh blossoms.  We give thanks for every living creature. We are thankful for the gift of life and chance to share this gift with others. In our actions, meditations, and prayers, may we honour and celebrate your very good Creation, as we seek wisdom on how to share our gratitude and love in good and healing ways. Amen.

Scripture Reader:       Margo Aubert
First Scripture:  Acts 4:5-12
Gospel Lesson:   John 10:11-18 

Hymn                            The Lord’s My Shepherd                                    VU 747

  1. The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
    he makes me down to lie
    in pastures green; he leadeth me,
    the quiet waters by.
  1. My soul he doth restore again;
    and me to walk doth make
    within the paths of righteousness,
    even for his own name’s sake.
  1. Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
    yet will I fear no ill;
    for thou art with me; and thy rod
    and staff me comfort still.
  1. My table thou has furnishèd
    In presence of my foes;
    My head thou dost with oil anoint,
    and my cup overflows.
  1. Goodness and mercy all my life
    shall surely follow me,
    and in God’s house for evermore
    my dwelling-place shall be.

Homily “How to Live the Resurrection”

Special Music
The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA and our many ministries. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us.  You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. 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.

Offering Song             Your Work, O God, Needs Many Hands           VU 537

  1. Your work, O God, needs many hands
    to help you everywhere,
    and some there are who cannot serve
    unless our gifts we share.
  1. Because we love you and your work,
    our offering now we make:
    be pleased to use it as your own,
    we ask for Jesus’ sake.

Offering Prayer
God of Creation, we are thankful your gift of live is always evolving to create something new. You have woven all of life together into a great chain of being where we are all connected and dependent on each other. We are grateful for all that protects and cares for your good works. We ask your blessings on the gifts we share that we might help to heal and bless this world that you love so much. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who is our good shepherd. Amen.

Hymn                            Ah, Holy Jesus                                          VU 138

  1. Ah, holy Jesus, how have you offended,
    that we to judge you have in hate pretended?
    By foes derided, by your own rejected,
    O most afflicted.
  1. Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon you?
    Alas, my treason, Jesus, has undone you;
    Yes, I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied you,
    I crucified you.
  1. Lo, the good shepherd for the sheep is offered;
    the slave is guilty, yet the Son has suffered;
    for our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
    God interceded.
  1. For me, kind Jesus, was your incarnation,
    your mortal sorrow, and your life’s oblation;
    your death of anguish and your bitter passion,
    for my salvation.
  1. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay you,
    I do adore you, and will ever pray you,
    think on your pity and your love unswerving,
    not my deserving.

Pastoral Prayer, Lord’s Prayer 

Hymn                            All Things Bright and Beautiful                          VU 291

All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful:
in love, God made them all.

  1. Each little flower that opens,
    each little bird that sings,
    God made their glowing colours,
    God made their tiny wings.             Refrain
  1. The purpleheaded mountains,
    the river running by,
    the sunset and the morning
    that brightens up the sky;               Refrain
  1. The cold wind in the winter,
    the pleasant summer sun,
    the ripe fruits in the garden:
    God made them every one.            Refrain
  1. The rocky mountain splendour,
    the lone wolf’s haunting call,
    the great lakes and the prairies,
    the forest in the fall;                         Refrain
  1. God gave us eyes to see them,
    and lips that we might tell
    how great is God our maker,
    who has made all things well.         Refrain

When you look upon every plant and every animal may you see Gods creative love in action.  When you look upon every person that you meet may you see the image of Christ in your brother and your sister. As we head out into another new week, may the Holy Spirit give you the strength you need to live well and be in harmony with all of creation. Go now in peace my friends. Amen 

Choral Amen                Amen, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen                         VU 974


How to live the Resurrection. Text:  John 13:31-35
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, April 21, 2024

Tomorrow is the celebration of Earth Day. It is a day for us to consider the impact we are having on the planet, and what the consequences of our actions will be on the generations who follow after us. There are events planned in Renfrew and around the world as people gather to help clean up our community. Sadly, Earth Day has never been warmly embraced by the Christian Church for a number of reasons. For years environmentalism has been associated with various political parties, personalities and agendas. Many Christians still fear these associations and want to avoid being labelled as “liberal tree-huggers.” While we don’t want to be known as a group with a political agenda, Christians do have a God given mandate to be good stewards of this world. This creates a fine line for me as it would be easy for me to tell you what you should do. My job isn’t to tell you what to do, but to help you learn how to do it for yourselves.

Earth Day’s call to action is an important one for us as people of faith, since we don’t always appreciate the ability we have to make a significant difference in the world. The challenge is for us to learn once more how to put the common good first. To make decisions which will benefit the community, and not just me as an individual or our own little group.  Do this world really need to wait until the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, before we realize we cannot eat money?

As Christians, we are in a unique position to this situation. For almost fifteen hundred years, we were the dominant force in Western civilization. We ruled the empire. We determined what was right and what was wrong.  Everything which used to happen in this world happened for our benefit. With the coming of the Renaissance, the power shifted to the nation states. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, the power shifted to the corporations. Now that we are not pulling at the strings of power, we are in the process of rediscovering our original task of being stewards of the earth. Our job is to make things happen for the benefit of the world. The Christian Church exists to serve the world. We exist to bless and heal the world. The world does not exist to serve us.  This change in focus reminds us how God is seeking to redeem this world. Our God has always been on a mission to save the world. We as God’s people are invited to be a part of God’s redemptive mission. We are to be the hands of Jesus when we share in his resurrection life.

Today we heard Jesus sharing with his followers one of his core values of how we are to serve the world. Jesus sees himself as the good shepherd. This is his teaching us how to live a resurrection life. His life and his teachings show us how to live the best possible life. And it’s not the message most people were expecting of him. All through the life of Jesus, there is a tension between what he feels called by God to be, and what people think he should become. Even after his resurrection this conflict continues to simmer. Lots of people expected Jesus to be the Messiah who would reclaim the throne. They expected him to pull out a sword and raise an army. Even after his resurrection some of his disciples are wondering when the revolution is going to begin. (Acts 1: 6) Jesus keeps telling us that he is doing something different. Jesus is telling us he will be more like a shepherd than a king to us.

So here we have two different symbols. The shepherd’s staff and a sword. A king leads by the sword. The king sends people to fight and die for him. The king has the power of life and death over others. The king takes what he wants by force. The sword is a powerful tool. It takes a sword to build an empire. It takes a sword to defend borders. It takes a sword to get rich. The king relies upon the strength of sheer force to gain power over others.  The same kind of behaviour that kings used to gain power in days gone by is still used by those who seek their fortune in the world today.

As powerful as it is, a sword is not always the best tool to use. If all you use is a sword, then everyone you look at starts to look like an enemy. In the same way, if all you ever use is a hammer, then every problem starts to look like a nail. If you have a sword in your hand, you can prevent the other person from attacking you. But you can’t make peace if are still pointing your sword at your enemy. You can’t make friends with a sword in your hand. The act of waving your hand is a symbolic act which shows you are not carrying a sword.

The shepherd’s staff is a very different kind of tool. The shepherd uses the staff to guide the flock. The uses it to defend the sheep from attacking predators like wolves, lions and bears. You can use it to rescue a sheep which has gone astray.  A shepherd can only guide their flock. The sheep do have to choose to follow. The shepherd’s job is to guide the flock to the places where there is food and water, and to the safe places to rest. There is only so much a shepherd can do, since sheep do have a mind of their own. You cannot force a flock to anything. They can be very stubborn. The shepherd has to lead by persuasion. A shepherd leads by example. A shepherd leads by the strength of the relationship they have with the sheep. A shepherd needs to have the trust of the sheep if they are to follow. A fearful flock will easily scatter. Sheep do have the power to kick you when they don’t like what is happening to them. When the sheep do trust their shepherd, they do look for the shepherd to protect and provide. But they still keep their eyes open for danger. Their trust in the good shepherd does not blind the flock to the terrors which await them along the paths of righteousness, the paths which lead to justice in this world. These sheep are taking a risk here. This is not a case of simple blind obedience. Rather this is a daring act of placing a radical trust in God. The Christian gospel does not ask us to be a sheep who are dumb, docile, or dutiful. Rather we are asked to be like the sheep who trust their shepherd. We are being offered a faith which can carry us through our darkest hours. We are being shown what a radical trust in God can feel like, a trust which will provide, even when we know troubles are all around us.

This trust, like the ways of the sheep with its shepherd, empowers us to live this life with meaning, purpose and courage. It helps us to live fully in the face of all the dangers, toils and snares of this life. It also gives us the courage to respond to the environmental crisis we see unfolding in the world around us. The good shepherd encourages us to use our collective power to make a difference in the world.

The Good shepherd shows us how to live a resurrection life by sharing a spirit of compassionate mercy.

We live the resurrection when we follow the Good Shepherd’s example and seek justice for the oppressed. We live the resurrection when we seek the common good of all instead of just preserving our own power, privilege and prestige.  We live the resurrection when we care for this planet which God has given us, so this earth might be a blessing our children’s children’s great grandchildren will be able to enjoy.

So even though we often walk through valleys that are dark as death, we can rejoice today, for the love God shared in Jesus is available to us! Right here, right now. This love is here when we care for our family and friends.   It’s here when we care for the larger world around us.

It’s here, because God so loves the world. And when we share this love, we make a world of difference.  Amen.