Read-along Service for Sunday, February 4, 2023

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Sunday February 4, 2024 – 5th after Epiphany

Words of welcome, announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle
In this season of Light, we light this candle to remind us of God’s light that shines even in the darkness.  May this light of hope, peace, and justice shine for all the world to see. May this light bless our homes and our journey in the days that lie ahead.

Choral Introit “Care’s Chorus”

Call To worship
How beautiful are the places where God can be found. Even this house of prayer cannot contain God’s glory. The heavens are bursting with the goodness of God’s holy presence!  So happy are those who find their strength in God’s love. Blessed are those whose hearts trust in God, for even when they pass through the dark times in life, the presence of the Lord will be with you. So in this house of prayer we gather to celebrate God’s presence among us. God’s Holy Spirit is watching over us and seeks to guide us all of our our days. Come, join your hearts and voices together as we praise our God.

Hymn                  Oh a Song Must Rise (A Song Must Rise)                 MV 142

Refrain:     Oh a song must rise for the spirit to descend,
                   oh a song must rise once again.
                   Singing out God’s praises and glory,
                   the faithful voices blend,
                   oh a song must rise for the spirit to descend. 

  1. From the mountains to the valleys,
    from the desert to the sea,
    a song must rise once again.
    From the voices of our leaders,
    the voice of you and me,
    a song must rise for the spirit to descend.        Refrain
  1. From poverty and riches,
    from the voice of young and old,
    a song must rise once again.
    From the free and the imprisoned,
    the timid and the bold,
    a song must rise for the spirit to descend.        Refrain
  1. From ev’ry house of worship,
    in ev’ry faith and tongue,
    a song must rise once again.
    From the villages and cities
    a new song must be sung,
    a song must rise for the spirit to descend.        Refrain

Prayer of Approach
O Christ, our healer, hear us as we pray. Heal us in our sickness and comfort us in our sorrow. Strengthen us in our doubt. Help us to know and accept your healing grace, that we may rise up and minister to your people. Help us to show your love in all we do.  Speak through us that our lives and our words may proclaim your good news. Amen.

Scripture Reader:  Peter Raaphorst

First Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31 

Responsive Psalm               Psalm 84                                          VU 800

Refrain:     How lovely is your dwelling place,
                   O God, of hosts, to me!

How lovely is your dwelling place, God of hosts!
My soul longs, even faints for the courts of God;
my heart and my flesh cry for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a house,
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young.
at your altars, God of hosts, my sovereign, my God.       Refrain

Happy are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise.
Happy are those whose strength is in you,
          who have set their heart on pilgrimage.
Going through the valley of Baca
they find a spring from which also to drink;
the early rain also covers it with pools of water.
They go from strength to strength,
to appear before God in Zion.                                            Refrain

O God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob.
Behold, O God, our shield,
          look on the face of your anointed.
Truly a day in your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
          I would rather be a doorkeeper
          in the house of my God
          than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For you, God, are a sun and shield,
you will give grace and honour.
No good thing will you withhold
from those who live the upright life.
O God of hosts,
          happy are those who put their trust in you.                    Refrain  

Gospel Lesson:    Mark 1:29-39 

Hymn Jesus, You Have Come to the Lakeshore                VU 563

  1. Jesus, you have come to the lakeshore
    looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones;
    you only asked me to follow humbly.

Refrain:     O Jesus, with your eyes you have searched me,
                   and while smiling, have spoken my name;
                   now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me;
                   by your side I will seek other seas.

  1. You know so well my possessions;
    my boat carries no gold and no weapons;
    — you will find there my nets and labour.        Refrain
  1. You will need my hands, full of caring
    through my labours to give others rest,
    and constant love that keeps on loving.            Refrain
  1. You, who have fished other oceans,
    ever longed for by souls who are waiting,
    my loving friend, as thus you call me.               Refrain

Homily  “Becoming Open”

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    Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow                VU 541

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God, all creatures high and low;
give thanks to God in love made known;
Creator, Word, and Spirit, One.

Offering Prayer
God you have given us the gift of life. The gift of love. The gift of hope. So this morning we give you praise, we give you glory, we give you thanks! With songs of hope humming in our hearts, our minds are tuned to your song of peace! We joyfully present these gifts to you, a chorus of thanksgiving, a harmony of hope for your kingdom come! Bless these gifts and the givers, that our acts of praise may be a blessing to the world. Amen.

Hymn                            Love Is the Touch                                                 MV 89
(tune Slane VU 642)

  1. Love is the touch of intangible joy;
    love is the force that no fear can destroy;
    love is the goodness we gladly applaud:
    God is where love is, for love is of God.
  1. Love is the lilt in a lingering voice;
    love is the hope that can make us rejoice;
    love is the cure for the frightened and flawed:
    God is where love is, for love is of God.
  1. Love is the light in the tunnel of pain;
    love is the will to be whole once again;
    love is the trust of a friend on the road:
    God is where love is, for love is of God.
  1. Love is the Maker an Spirit and Son;
    love is the kingdom their will has begun;
    love is the path which the saints all have trod:
    God is where love is, for love is of God.

Pastoral Prayer,
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn                  Just as I Am                                                        VU 508

  1. Just as I am, without one plea,
    but that thy blood was shed for me,
    and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  1. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
    Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
    yea, all I need, in thee to find,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  1. Just as I am, though tossed about
    with many a conflict, many a doubt,
    fightings and fears within, without,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  1. Just as I am, thy love unknown
    has broken every barrier down;
    now to be thine, yea, thine alone;
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

May you run and not be weary. May you rise up on the wings of eagles. May you know without doubt that the everlasting God goes with you! Go now in peace. Amen.

Choral Amen               Go Now in Peace                                               VU 964

Go now in peace, go now in peace.
May the love of God surround you everywhere,
everywhere you may go.


Open Wide  Text: Mark 1:29-39
Preached by Rev. James Murray at s United Church, Feb 4 2024

This morning we shared one of the more unusual healing stories of Jesus’ ministry. Most scholars overlook it since it doesn’t seem to be very important. But the healing of Peter’s mother is a shining example of the difference Jesus’ ministry makes. Because the gift of healing can open hearts. It can open minds. And it can open doors to new possibilities in a person’s life.

Healing can take many forms. Sometimes the simple act of noticing someone is hurt can make a huge difference. I first learned this lesson many years ago when a good friend of mine was date raped. It was a traumatic experience for her. A few days later, we had her over for dinner. At one point both my wife Christine and I went into the kitchen to check on dinner. When we returned to the living room, we discovered our friend fast asleep on our sofa. We looked at each other with surprise. Then we did the only thing we could think of. We put a blanket over her and let her sleep. When she awoke, she was very embarrassed. She told us it was the first time since her rape that she had actually fallen asleep. We just told her we took her nap as a compliment, that she felt safe in our home. We spent the rest of the evening listening and supporting her as she shared what had happened to her. When you invite people into your home, you never know what will happen. An open door can change lives.

It can be hard sometimes to take the time to notice what others are going through, since we all have so much on the go. A friend of mine had a curious table habit he learned from his mother. Whenever there was a dinner party, no one was allowed to clear away the dishes until the party was over. This used to drive his dinner guests crazy, until they learned the reason why the dishes were to be left till the end.  When he was growing up, he saw how his mother refused to clear the dishes until later, because she didn’t want to miss out on the conversation. His mother had a real ministry of listening and supporting people, and you can’t be doing two things at once.  Enjoying the company of her guests and caring for them was more important to her than the dirty dishes. An open heart can bless others in meaningful ways.

We don’t often speak of hospitality as a kind of ministry, but it is one of the major ways we live our faith. The offering of hospitality has the power to heal people. Hospitality has the power to change people. How you welcome people into your home and your life reveals the content of your faith. It is a shining testimony of the character of your God as you minister to those you meet.

For many years, I have wondered why the Gospel of Mark would include the healing of Peter’s mother in law. In between casting out demons and healing a leper, Jesus stops to cure Peter’s mother in law of a fever. A fever. And then she gets up and serves them supper. So what is the big deal, right?  The reason we don’t usually get the significance of this healing is because of how it has been translated from the original Greek. In the original Greek it is obvious that Peter’s Mother in law was seriously ill. Most bibles say Jesus lifts her up and she serves them. That makes us think she served them dinner. The original text says Jesus ‘raises her up’. That’s the same words the angels use to describe Jesus when he is raised from the dead. So this is a dramatic healing where this woman is raised up to new life. In the King James, it goes on to say she then ‘ministered unto them’.  She got up and she ministered unto them. Jesus didn’t heal her so she could make supper. Jesus raises her up to new life so she could be a minister. She is Jesus’ first female disciple. Women weren’t given the job of disciple or minister back then.  Her role in life was completely transformed by this act of healing. Our understanding of who can be a minister, who can be one who serves and cares for others, was completely transformed by this act of healing.  An open door can change minds.

One of the most dramatic portrayals of the healing power of hospitality can be found in the film Babette’s Feast. It’ one of my favourite movies of all time. If you enjoy good food or religion, it is a dramatic delight. Babette’s Feast is based on Isak Dinesen’s novel of the same name. Dinesen also wrote Out of Africa, which is also a popular novel and a great film. In Babette’s Feast, Babette is a French chef of the highest calibre. After the French revolution, Babette is forced to escape to the Scandinavian coast. She is taken in by two elderly spinster sisters. The two sisters are the leaders of a strict puritan religious group, which had been founded by their father. Their father has passed on, and the years have eroded the bonds of friendship between the followers who are left. Babette serves them for many years very faithfully. When Babette wins the lottery, everyone thinks she will leave for the big city. Instead, Babette decides to stay on. In appreciation for having taken her in all those years before, Babette asks if she could serve the religious group a special meal. They don’t realize it is to be a meal straight out of the finest French restaurant. The wonderful portrayal of Babette’s careful preparations for the feast, are equalled only by the guests’ delight in consuming the food itself. Over the course of the dinner, there is a wonderful transformation. Old hurts are healed. Reconciliations are established, peace at the last is found. This earthly banquet gives a glimpse of the salvation found in the heavenly banquet.  An open door changes lives.

In every one of these cases, a gift of hospitality results in a dramatic change in the life of the person who is welcomed in. It also results in a dramatic change in the lives of those who opened the door. Salvation is not merely an object which we give to other people. Salvation happens when we allow ourselves to be transformed by those around us. In each case, the host is transformed as much as the guests are. It takes a courageous host to allow themselves to be transformed by the unexpected gifts that their guests bring with them.

The early Christian Church embodied this spirit of being transformed as they grew. They quickly learned that they couldn’t let their preconceptions stand in the way of sharing Christ’s gift of salvation. They were facing a new situation which no one had ever experienced before. God was doing a new thing with him.  They couldn’t let their identity as Jews stand between them and a Gentile audience who were eager to embrace this new hope. They couldn’t let their traditional beliefs be a barrier to accomplishing this ultimate goal. The disciples were willing to lose themselves for the sake of the gospel. Opening the door changes lives. Disciples like Peter and Paul weren’t afraid to pay the price of being completely changed in order that others might enter in.

As a result, the early disciples took the Christian faith in new directions which no one expected. They took the Christian message to new places many had never dared to visit.  They expressed what it meant to love God in ways no one had ever imagined to be possible. They became an open door which changes lives.

This gift of open hearts, open minds and open doors is being offered to us all here today. Jesus is still at work healing and raising us up. His ministry opens hearts to new ways of loving. He opens minds to new ways of living.  And he opens the door which offers new possibilities to us all.

The door is open wide.