Read-along Service for Sunday, June 19, 2022 – Communion Sunday

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
Second Sunday after Pentecost June 19, 2022
Communion Sunday

Prelude
Words of welcome, announcements         

Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a symbol of the light of Christ, which shines in each one of us, and the darkness cannot overcome it. May the spirit of resurrection fill our lives with hope.

Call To worship
We gather this day to share in God’s dream of abundant life for all. We gather to share the gift of deep wisdom,passed down across many generations. We gather to share the deep love of our creator which seeks make us all one family. With gratitude we gather as a community to praise God our creator, to seek the Way of Jesus and to celebrate the power of the Spirit who gives us breath.

Prayer of Approach
Holy One, you are our rock, a foundation upon which we stand.  Fill our hearts now with joy at your deep, abiding presence. Encourage us by the teachings of Christ to live with compassion for our selves, our friends and neighbours.

Gracious God, we confess that we have not always treated our neighbours with respect. Forgive us for our sins that are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Set us free from a past that we cannot change. Open to us a future in which we can be changed. Grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

Hymn        In Christ There is No East or West                             VU 606

  1. In Christ there is no east or west,
    in him no south or north,
    but one great family of love
    throughout the whole wide earth.
  1. In him shall true hearts everywhere
    their high communion find;
    his service is the golden cord
    close binding humankind.
  1. Join hands, then, people of the faith,
    whate’er your race may be;
    all children of the living God
    are surely kin to me.
  1. In Christ now meet both east and west,
    in him meet south and north;
    all Christ-like souls are one in him
    throughout the whole wide earth.

Scripture Reader:       Joy Curry

Galatians 3:23-29                   Luke 8:26-39

Musical Reflection

Special Music              “Freedom Reigns”

Homily                          “Our Kind”

Musical Reflection

The offering
Holy and Gracious God, pour out your Spirit upon us and the gifts we bring. Open our hands and our hearts so we might do deeds of love, in your name, and be a blessing to this world you love so much. Amen.

Hymn           One Bread, One Body                                        VU 467

One bread, one body, one Lord of all,
           one cup of blessing which we bless;
and we, though many, throughout the earth,
           we are one body in this one Lord.

  1. Gentile or Jew, servant or free,
    woman or man, no more.              Refrain
  1. Many the gifts, many the works,
    one in the Lord of all.                     Refrain
  1. Grain for the fields, scattered and grown,
    gathered to one, for all.                           Refrain

Service of Holy Communion

Invitation To The Table
So, come to this table, you who have much faith and you who would like to have more. You who have been to this sacrament often, and you who have not been for a long time. You who have tried to follow Jesus, and you who have failed. Come. It is Christ who invites us to meet him here. These are the gifts of God for the people of God.

God the Creator is here.
God’s Spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts
We open ourselves to God our Creator
Let us give thanks to God
It is good to offer our thanks and praise for all that has been given.

God the Creator, our Great Spirit, from the depths of our hearts we give you thanks. We say thank you, now and forever. From the place of the rising sun in the East, to the South where the warm winds blow, from the West where the soft rain comes, to the coldness of the North. We unite with all creation from the four directions to join in the everlasting thanksgiving and praise for the gift of Jesus Christ.

With hearts lifted, we join with the angels, the guardian spirits, the saints, and all our ancestors as we say
Holy, holy holy Lord, God of power and might,
          heaven and earth are full of your glory.
          Hosanna in the highest.

O Great Spirit, our Creator from whom all holiness comes, we come before you on this first day of a new week. Just as in generations past, like our grandmothers and grandfathers, we come to worship you and acknowledge your greatness. We marvel at your creation. You sent Jesus into creation because people had turned away from you and no longer loved each other, which brought death and destruction to us all. Sharing our living and our dying, Jesus opened our eyes and our hearts to understand that we are all relatives and that you are our Great Spirit the Creator. Stretching out his arms upon the cross, he became a perfect offering for all, uniting in beauty all that is, with all that has been, and with all that ever will be.

On the night Jesus was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take eat, this is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper Jesus took the cup of wine; gave thanks, gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

In response to his gift, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

In this ceremony which Jesus gave us, we celebrate our salvation. In our offering of praise and thanks, we stand in the memory, strength, and love of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Remembering, we make our offering. By your Holy Spirit, make our gifts holy, so that they may be spiritual food and drink. Make us holy, so that we may respectfully receive this feast and serve you in each other.

May we live together in a spirit of unity and live as relatives to all.

All this we ask as we say the words Jesus taught us to pray together saying…
The Lord’s Prayer

Distribution of the Elements

Words Of Institution
Please raise your bread with me, and repeat after me.
This is the body of Christ, broken for us all.
This is the bread of life.
May God bless this food,
to feed and strengthen us all.

Take and eat, the gifts of God, given for you.
May God bless you and feed you always.

Now please raise your cup, and repeat after me:
This is the blood of Christ, shed for us all.
This is the cup of blessing, to heal me in body, mind and spirit.
May God bless us all as we share in this feast together.

Take and drink, for God’s Spirit is given to you.

Prayer After Communion

Hymn        Praise to the Lord, the Almighty                        VU 220

  1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, who rules all creation;
    O my soul, praise him, at all time your health and salvation.
    Come, all who hear;
    brothers and sisters draw near,
    joining in glad adoration.
  1. Praise to the Lord, above all things so mightily reigning,
    keeping us safe at his side, and so gently sustaining.
    Have you not seen
    how all you needed has been
    met by God’s gracious ordaining?
  1. Praise to the Lord who will prosper our work and defend us;
    surely his goodness and mercy will daily attend us:
    ponder anew
    what the Almighty can do,
    who out of love will befriend us.
  1. Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
    All that has life and breath come now with praises before him!
    Let the Amen
    sound from God’s people again:
    gladly with praise we adore him.

Benediction
May the blessing of God; the Creator, who made and knows us walk with you. May the blessing of God the Savior, who redeems and befriends us; guide you to live in harmony with all your relations, And may the blessings of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens and sustains us, be with you this day and always. Go now in peace, harmony and love. Amen

Choral Amen 974 “Amen, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen!”

Postlude 

“Our Kind” Galatians 3:23-29
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew. June 19 2022.

When the day of Pentecost came, it was a day full of miracles. Each of the disciples was filled with the Holy Spirit. They were on fire for God. The scriptures record that people from many different countries heard the disciples speaking in their own language. For God’s message to be heard in so many different languages truly is a miraculous feat. What most of us overlook with this miracle is the significance of which languages were spoken that day. Those languages the disciples were speaking all belonged to Israel’s enemies. They were speaking the languages of the armies they had fought against over the centuries. They were the languages of the different empires who had conquered Israel. They were the languages spoken in the wild places. This means the God of love is now speaking in the language of everyone we have ever hated or feared.

The Pentecost experience invites us into a new way of engaging with our differences. We often hate or fear people for being different from us. We fear and hate others because of the differences based on our mother tongue, our ethnicity, our economic class, our politics, our gender and our sexual identity. There are so many ways we are marked as being different from one another. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit speaks through our many differences, without converting them into sameness. The miracle that happened on the day of Pentecost does not ask people to give up their languages, their cultures, and convert to the same way of speaking and thinking.  Instead we are being invited to experience a new way of relating to everyone we once viewed as different.

Whenever we try to imagine a new way of being, we often have to find new words to capture what this might look like. One person who has helped me to find new ways of describing what these new ways of being is the American writer Diana Butler Bass. This past spring we used Diana Butler Bass’ most recent book as our Lenten Study. Her book ‘Freeing Jesus’  is one of the most moving and beautiful books I have read in a long time, so it is one I highly recommend for your summer reading. Freeing Jesus examines the different ways we can experience Jesus and how that can help us to have a deeper experience of God.

Butler Bass notes how Jesus often speaks of the Kingdom of God as his new way of describing how we are all connected. Jesus understood the Kingdom of God as an alternative to the way the Kingdom of Rome runs the world. Of course Jesus is not telling us to set up our own Christian kingdom to rule the world. Instead he is trying to get us to treat everyone as family, as being part of our community. For us today, this image has lost some of its radical power because the language of kingdoms and empires don’t carry the same meaning in our culture the way they once did. For this reason some contemporary theologians have started using the term the ‘kin-dom of God’ to help us get a clearer picture of what Jesus is talking about.  I’ve heard the term ‘the kin-dom of God’ for many years and I’ve always felt it is an awkward turn of phrase.

In her book Butler Bass says the words kin and kind come from the same root.  To be kin is to be related, to be family. To be kind is to treat someone like family. To say ‘someone is our kind of people’ is to say they are like kin to me, that they are one of us. Our indigenous brothers and sisters here in North America use the phrase ‘all my relations’ to describe this sense of kinship.

We have a lot to learn about what it means to treat others as if they are part of ‘all my relations’. There are very minute biological differences between us and our fellow human beings. The majority of our differences are cultural. Our prejudices against those social differences are all learned behaviour. In order to heal those divisions, we need to learn to listen to the different stories our siblings share with us, so we might learn how God is present in their lives, just as God is at work in us here today.

The miracle of Pentecost is that God speaks through all languages. God does not speak Hebrew or Greek, any more than God speaks English or French. What God does is expressed equally in every language, if we can find the right words to describe this wondrous gift. Through the Spirit, such difference is made holy.  God promises us that “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” Not some people, but all people. The Spirit is given not to make everyone the same. The Holy Spirit affirms the goodness of all flesh. It affirms the goodness of where you come from. It announces that what makes you different is good and holy.

While we draw a lot of our strength from our sameness, God is quite comfortable with our differences. There are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world today. And God is present and at work in each of those 6,500 communities. God’s Holy Spirit is offering us a way to transcend our differences without erasing our uniqueness. It allows the many to become one while still valuing what each person is. We can see this coming together as one in the way that the day of Pentecost ended.

The day of Pentecost doesn’t end with more fireworks. Instead it ends with all these strangers eating together.  The scriptures tell us plainly the real miracle occurs when “those who welcomed Peter’s message were baptized, and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer” (Acts 2:41-42); It says “they broke bread from home to home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46).

The goal of experiencing the Holy Spirit is not so we can suddenly speak new languages. The goal is for us all to be able to experience communion. The goal is for us to come together as one family. This is why one of the hallmarks of a church community is that we take the time to eat together. We break bread together every time we share in Communion. We break bread together at pot-lucks, and at coffee time following the service ever week. When we break bread together, we are eating with Jesus, and we are being fed by the truth he teaches.

By eating together we are practising being a group who treats everyone like they are our kind of people. We are to treat everyone like they are our kin. When we look around, we are to say ‘these are all my relations’. This means we are to look after the stranger as well as we look after our own family.   We are to care for each other. We are to share our resources to help each other out. We are to work together for the healing of body, mind, and spirit of us both as individuals and as a society.

Here in Canada we have a lot of pressing work to do with healing and reconciling our troubled relationship with our indigenous brothers and sisters.  By learning about each other’s stories we can learn how to heal the hurts we have done to each other. And we know we need to keep learning so we might better understand this ever evolving world we live in. We need to share our wisdom with one another so we can all better understand what God is all about. Together we are changed when we realize what a difference this deeper experience of God can have for our lives.

Saint Paul grasped this new understanding of what it means to see everyone as being part of the kin-dom of God. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul offers us a vision of what it can mean when we see the world as being made up of ‘all our relations’.

Paul tells us plainly that

In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith:
So there is no longer Jew or Greek.
There is no longer slave or free.
There is no longer male and female.
There is no longer old or young.
There is no longer gay and straight.
There is no longer black and white.
There is no longer poor and rich.
There is no longer indigenous or settler.
There is no longer abled and disabled.
For we are all kin in Jesus.
Through God, you are all my relations.
So come, let us break bread together,
For all of us are one in Christ Jesus.

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