Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Christ’s love is extended and shared with both families of Andy Paterson and Carole Paterson.
Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays began on Tuesday, May 10 at 10 am. Every Tuesday until the end of May we are inviting only the church members and their close friends as a trial run. Then, we will decide when we will open this fellowship to everyone. We still need to try various things to make sure things will move smoothly once we are open to everyone in the community.
The next exciting project we are opening up only to our own members and close friends (again as a trial to see if it is something everyone can enjoy) is the Tea Tasting. This is a monthly event. Once a month on the fourth Thursday of each month at 1:30 pm, you are invited to come and taste teas from all over the world. We are very excited to try this event. Please mark your calendars. Come and join us on Thursday, May 26th at 1:30 pm.
Hot and Spicy
Our next new thing is to have ways of connecting with younger families. We are still planning and requiring your help. Please pray that God will prepare the hearts and minds of many younger people in Niagara Falls to be ready to join this new phase of God’s mission here.
Please pray for those who are in care homes and those who are at home with illnesses. Also pray for elders as they continue to seek God’s will for this congregation.
Preparation: Bind us together
Call to Worship (Psalm 30:1-4)
O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
Hymn: This is the day
Out of the world of wars, poverty, indifference, and hate we come into your presence. Though the suffering of this world overburdens us, we are able to come to you, knowing you love us without fail at all times. Your steadfast love, experienced through all by whom you created, gives us strength to offer you thanksgiving and to be sustained in all of life. In gratitude, we come to offer this worship today. May you bless all those by whom we experience your steadfast love and by whom we have come to know that your love never fails us in all of life. Give us courage to worship you this day.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 24:13-27
Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain-offering and a drink-offering
for the Lord, your God?
Sermon: Steadfast Love
At the crucifixion of Jesus, we find Mary, mother of Jesus. She stood and watched. She was there to bear witness to the horrible torture her son was facing. Her presence there makes us think deeply in her own pain, anguish, and helplessness. No one can understand the pain of Mary, watching her own child facing death in this cruel way. The reality for Mary is that she was not the first one and the last one. Before Jesus and long after Jesus, mothers everywhere stood to witness unbelievable cruelties inflicted on their children.
Among all Marys who were listed by John’s Gospel, Mary the mother of Jesus was confronted with pain and suffering unique only to her because she alone was Jesus’ mother. Like an untold number of mothers in history who had to witness cruel and painful deaths of their children, forced upon by human beings–children of other women, Mary stood there and with her presence faced the most difficult experience in life.
Today we are celebrating Mother’s Day. It ought to be a joyful day for all mothers. Why should we begin with Mary, the mother of Jesus at the cross? As the world abandoned Jesus, Mary, his mother, stood there silently witnessing her son’s pain and suffering as she loved him without fail. Today in Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Ukraine and everywhere on this earth, mothers stand in ruins witnessing the killing of their children. That is why we begin with Mary, the mother of Jesus, because today, like her, as wars rage in many parts of the world, mothers are watching their children die at the hands of others. They all share the deep grief of losing the very lives they brought into the world. There is no other sadness that can compare in our world.
Mothers are not just at the places of death, being silent witnesses, full of love. In Africa, mothers are constantly helping one another to do anything and everything to give life to their children. As so many mothers die of diseases like COVID and AID, mothers of these dying or dead mothers have poured their love on their children’s children so that these grandchildren would have life. In many parts of Africa, mothers in poverty and diseases continue to search for ways to support their daughters so that their entire families could survive another day.
In Central and South Americas, mothers in small villages and in cities have been rising up, fighting against North American companies which have been polluting with toxic chemicals to extract oil and minerals. They have been bearing witness to their children dying of cancers and suffering painful deaths by toxins. Full of love for their children they organize as they are constantly attacked and suppressed by powerful forces.
During this COVID lockdown of the past two years, in Canada, we have seen so many elderly mothers and fathers locked away and severed from their children. We separated them for safety. In isolation and loneliness, yet full of love for their children, many perished. Also in Canada, we have many mothers who are tending to their ill and dying children. These mothers have pains as great as Mary, the mother of Jesus. Do not think of the pain and suffering of these mothers any less because our medical system is far superior than the one in the time of Jesus.
Our world is full of stories of steadfast love of mothers, who are slow to anger and are full of compassion.
In the past half century, we have been told by experts in psychology and psychiatry that mothers’ love can be toxic. Our airwaves have been filled with horrifying damages children suffered due to their mothers smothering and unhealthy love. We have been told about possessive and over controlling mothers who inflict psychological traumas on their children. It is true that these are painful experiences for many children. We pray that mothers with these toxic loves would be treated and helped.
But it is also true that steadfast love of mothers gives life to and assists in the flourishing of many children in our world. Such unending and constant love is not dramatic and remarkable, because it is present behind so many people, undergirding the well being of families and societies invisibly. Without it the world would be a much different and impossible place to be.
Often when we think of God’s love, we think in terms of God’s fatherly love for us. After all, our world has been functioning in a patriarchal culture. Father’s hands off and distant love were valued and set up as God’s love for us. God was seen more like a father than a mother to a point that it is hard to find in the Bible where God’s love is described in terms of motherly love. Yet, love is neither masculine nor femenine. To fully experience love, it is best for us to discard the notion of putting our conceptions of masculine love higher than feminine love. It is important for us to see love as encompassing both equally.
Today as we celebrate Mothers Day, we can embrace God’s steadfast love as expressed through all these loving mothers who stand to witness without fail their children’s life, including their suffering and death. Pain and suffering of mothers’ silent witnessing is the very important part of appreciating and coming to understand the nature of love as it should be. Living life fully as God’s creation is to embrace love expressed through mothers’ steadfast and unending love. Only through this love can we come to gain the depth of God’s love when God stood apart like Mary, watching God’s own Son die on the cross. When we sing and proclaim, “the steadfast love of God endures forever,” our knowledge of this steadfast love of God is made real when we receive and appreciate the steadfast love of our mothers, both historic and now, as they steadfastly stand by their children through life and death.
A group of mothers in the 1970s and onward in Argentina organized themselves to speak for their children who disappeared. By their effort they not only unearthed the bodies of their children unjustly killed, but also unearthed the corrupt government that cruelly murdered their children for greed and power. In the past decades, a large number of Central American mothers snuck into North America in hope of finding jobs to support their hungry children, risking their lives. A countless number of mothers of mothers who died of AIDs in Africa are looking after their grandchildren in their late years, refusing to let their grandchildren grow without homes. Many Canadian mothers from the indigenous communities are reminding us year after year how there are so many missing and murdered children in our country. They are continually exposing the sins of our past and present against our own brothers and sisters in this country. Every day, if we have eyes to see, we see steadfast love of mothers reminding us what it is to love. In their unwavering love, we experience the steadfast love of God everywhere, every moment.
Always loving God,
We bring our prayers. Hear our prayers as prayers from your loving children.
Months, weeks, and days pass by only to see us being led by war mongers deeper and deeper into wars. Without understanding fully why people are killing each other, many of us take sides self-righteously, condemning those whom they consider as their enemies. Your command to love one another and your encouragement to love even the enemies go unheard because all sides are busy justifying the killings and destruction of their enemies. Strengthen us, O Holy Spirit. Make us be the people who follow the Prince of Peace, bringing love in places of hate, hope in places of death, and faith in places of chaos.
We continue to decline, O God, in health and strength. The time is against us. We do our best, but we are fully mindful of the power of death. So we continue to put our life in your hands. You are our Lord who gives and takes life as well as resurrects those who belong to your Son. Be with us. Open our eyes to life that you have prepared for us. Fill us with courage to love in places of death, to hope in places of hatred, and to believe in places of doubts.
We pray that you will lead us into the future without fail. When we see ourselves decreasing in number and resources, we become like others, accepting death as an inevitable future. Remind us that you are the God of life, that through your Son our Lord you remind us constantly that death has no power over us, and that in you is life always. May we embrace this resurrection life and know that we are living in this life in the world filled with death as the signs and symbols of your reign where all may die, yet all shall live eternally.
We pray for doctors, nurses, hospital staff and all who are doing their best to heal and strengthen those who are sick. We also pray for so many who are trying to find ways to live fully in poverty. We pray for those who are fleeing from wars and other battles, both physical and spiritual. We pray for those who are anxious and fearful because they do not know where their next meal is coming from. There are so many who suffer in this world for whom we raise our voices in prayer. Be with them all. Give them life. Use us as your servants who bring to them all hope and faith.
All these we pray in the name of your Son. Amen.
Please do not forget to give generously so that we may continue to carry out Christ’s ministry here in this part of God’s vineyard.
Dear Lord, we bring our offering on this day as we give thanks for our mothers. As we offer these gifts, remind us of the deep and unwavering love of our mothers and your love for us. Send us into the world to share this steadfast love with our neighbours near and far. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn: Great is Thy faithfulness