Sunday, November 15, 2020

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Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for joining us for worship. We give God thanks for your presence with us in this worship service. We continually pray that God’s protection is with you and your family as we wade through this difficult time of pandemic fears.

We are continuing with mission projects of Mitten Tree, YWCA Shelter Needs and Saturday Lunch Takeouts. We are very grateful for all your contributions. We will be continuing these projects through the month of November. The last Sunday of collecting for Mitten Tree and YWCA Shelter Needs is Sunday, December 6.

We are also asking you to prayerfully consider donating to the Love Your Church Campaign. As you know, due to the pandemic we have ceased all our fundraising activities. Sadly there will not be our traditional Christmas Turkey Dinner.

Depending on the way that we and our neighbours are struggling, we will make decisions on whether to hold our Christmas Eve worship services or not. We will do our best to keep everyone safe throughout the Christmas season.

Starting in December, on every Tuesday evening, our church will share the church hall with Narcotics Anonymous for their weekly sessions. As we have been hearing in the news, due to the difficulties rising out of pandemic lockdown and distancing measures, there have been a significant increase in those who were already suffering with addiction issues. The session has decided to welcome this group and help those who are in need of getting better.

Today we give God thanks for the lives of God’s servants who shared their lives and services with us in Christ’s ministry and are no longer with us. This is our memorial Sunday.

Meditative Hymn: My Jesus I Love Thee

Call to Worship:

O God, in you is life. You have called us into yourself ang given us life eternal. In thanksgiving for life that never ends but continues in the resurrection life, we come to worship you. Be gracious. Embrace those who have already returned to you and await the day of the resurrection. Continue to be glorified by all of us who are serving you and neigbhours with all our hearts. Send your spirit and fill us to come and worship.

Hymn: Praise my soul


O Lord, our God,
We bring ourselves out of life of joy and sadness to remember your love for us. In this desperate and troubled world, filled with dying and threats of death, we come to you for life. You are the creator who breathed into each person the breath of life. Hear our prayer.

Though you are the source of life, we fear for our lives because this virus is threatening each and every one of us with sickness unto death, lives without jobs, days without means to sustain us. Instead of trusting you, of sharing your abundance with each other and of finding ways to help everyone glorify and enjoy you, we have become people who try to save our own small circles by retreating into our lives spiritually. We worry how to survive each day rather than focusing on how to love everyone within the means and ways available to us. We fret over little freedoms and joys we cannot have rather than building each other up with hope. In our anxiety and fear we are less able to trust and allow others to rely on us.

We confess to you that we are in shambles not remembering that your love is sufficient for us to share in life that is meaningful and purposeful, that your providence is more than adequate if we become courageous enough to share fully with all and that your presence in everyone is plentiful for bringing joy and peace.

Forgive us. Change our hearts to see and know that our lives are already overflowing with your love, that our courage, if garnered in faith, can lead us to share in the new life as given in Jesus your Son our Lord, and that you have given us strength of will to care for each other fully in times of need.

All these things we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: Abide with Me

Offering Prayer:

As part of our thanksgiving offering we offer the lives of those whom we witnessed as they returned to the Lord in the past twelve months:

Jannette Graham, Jody Henderson-MacDonald , Ruth Henderson, William Muir, Maria Sherar,
Marie Whitelock

Dear God our Lord and Saviour,
On this day we come offering you thanksgiving. Hear our prayers for the saints who have gone before us. In the past year we witnessed your grace as the lives of Jannette Graham, Jody Henderson, Ruth Henderson, William Muir, Maria Sherar, and Marie Whitelock are returned to you. In your mercy you have taken them back and are keeping them in rest until they will be raised with us in the resurrection life of Christ. Receive our thanksgiving for being able to share and partake in their lives as your gift to us.

We also thank you for being able to enjoy your love through them as they demonstrated their love for you and their neighbours as you have intended them to do. As we thank you, we are reminded of your promise that you grant forgiveness and life eternal to all your people. In gratitude we share our gladness that they are resting in you.

Along with our thanks, we offer our commitment to serve and love you and our neighbours through these symbols. Keep us in your care. By the Holy Spirit may we be encouraged in loving you and your creation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Precious Lord Take my Hand

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:10-13

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who was wronged, but in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God. In this we find comfort.

Sermon: Godly Grief

A number of years ago, I was involved in a funeral service that was vastly different than many funeral services I have ever done. The deceased was a marginal Christian. I did not know her very well. She was not a church attending Christian. I was doing the service because her daughter was a devout member of the church where I was the minister. This lady lived a colorful life. This mother enjoyed cigarettes (a chain smoker) and foul languages. One of her daily routines was to call her daughter up and complain incessantly about everything. She had many children who were not much different than her. It was a miracle that the daughter who was a member of the church still cared and loved her mother.

Some of her children, I was told, did not care much, but would attend the service. I was warned that some may even come drunk. In fact, two of them did attend inebriated after having enjoyed a bit too much. They showed no sense as they spoke loudly without regard to whatever was going on. The colours in their words were as bad as their mother’s speeches. These grown up children’s way of grieving was to get stoned and try not to think about anything. Death to them was something they did not want to face. Drinking helped them not to worry because they did not have to love and give thanks. They were all for forgetting anything bad happening in life. They were resentful that they had to be there. They were angry at their sister who made them come to the service.

Initially the daughter for whom I was doing worship was embarrassed about her family and told me so during the visit. She was concerned but not too worried about her siblings and their misbehaviours once I assured her that I would not pay any attention to them. Like many of you now know, she knew that I could outspeak anyone in any worship service ignoring every unpleasant thing that was taking place during worship. More importantly, she was sad and hurt over the life that her mother lived until the end. On some level, she felt sorrowful for not being able to help her mother to change. She felt responsible over her inability to love her more. She was also carrying the guilt on not being a better example to her mother and to her siblings. Yet, in grieving she was able to see that there were things she could do and could not do. The death of her mother reminded her that she was freed from the burden of always trying to make things right for her mother. In prayer she found strength in her own faith by realizing that she could repent for things she did wrong in relationship with her mother and her siblings. She was relieved of her responsibility to make things right always for the whole family. In grief she began to see how in God’s grace she could forgive and move on with her own life.

In my ministry I meet with families to prepare for services when their loved ones die, I hear from those who are grieving about things they have done wrong against the deceased or how they were feeling so bad for not having done enough. Lots of people were in distress over things they could have done to make relationships with the deceased better. Often these confessions are given in hope that I would comfort them and give them dispensation of forgiveness. Sad thing is that these feelings are often fleeting and soon forgotten after the burials. These are the folks who never notice that as Christians we no longer call these services “funerals”. We call them, “The Witness to the Resurrection Service.”

Today we thank God for those who served God and our neighbours all their lives and are no longer with us. We have already read out their names. These were very humble members of this congregation throughout their stay with us. I can confidently vouch for them all that none of them tried to draw attention to themselves. They lived their lives as best as they could and in death they slipped away without many of us being part of their services. Due to pandemic we were unable to share griefs with their loved ones. Sadly as their church we were unable to grieve with the family due to the rules.

Often the passages cited regarding grief and compassion are Luke 7 where Jesus seeing a mother weeping over her only dead son in a funeral procession or John 11:33 where Jesus was deeply moved by a sister and others crying over dead Lazarus. In these two events, we experience Jesus’ compassion for those who are in grief due to the losses of their loved ones. Our hearts overflow with gladness for God’s love in Jesus being displayed here in these two passages. If Jesus was moved for them, we would conjecture that Jesus would be moved in our griefs. God’s love shown in Christ this way indeed comforts us when we are grieving over deaths of our loved ones.

Paul talks about a different aspect of grief. In 2 Corinthians Paul is addressing those who felt hurt and were sorrowful of what Paul said about them. In this Corinthian church, there was a person who was acting in immoral ways. He rebuked the whole church severely in a letter. They felt hurt and they were sorry over what took place. They were also sad over the fact that they disappointed Paul in their actions as much as Paul was sorry that he had to write a letter which would hurt them. Paul was very concerned about their grief. After saying how he found joy in hearing what happened to those Corinthian Christians through Titus, he explains about the nature of grief.

There are two kinds of grief, he says. One is godly. The other is worldly. By godly grief, he means that when a person (or persons) feels deep distress when rebuked for doing something wrong, that individual repents the wrongs and is led to salvation. That is, the rebuke was the catalyst that gives the person opportunity to come before God taking full responsibility for the wrong. Even though the censure may hurt deeply this humiliation helps him/her to seek forgiveness by repentance. One does not dwell in the hurt in this case. The wounded spirit does not shrivel into despair. Rather, a new life is given because of the repentance. In this way, godly grief is not debilitating, but life restoring.

The worldly grief, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. It makes one resentful, debilitated and overwhelmed. It leads him into despair or death. This grief does not lead to new life where one is restored and recreated. There is no forgiveness here leading to eternal life. Hope is nowhere to be found. Sadness, guilt, anger and despair abound.

In godly grief, the distressed one turns her life to God totally. She begins to walk toward God away from the world. In facing the death of her loved ones, she goes through a myriad of feelings including hurt, betrayal, sorrow, and guilt. She wonders to herself what she could have done better and why she did not mend her relationship with the dead person prior to death. She recalls all things she had done wrong. As a Christian one thing she can do is to repent of all her wrongs or all things for which she feels guilty about. In repentance, she can turn to God rather than dwell in the sadness of the past sins. As Paul mentions, there is no more guilt after repentance. Instead of the continuation in dreary life, those who repent walk in the new life given through Christ. Anger, guilt, sadness, inadequacy, regret, anxiety, fear… they all disappear as they begin their new life in Christ, liberated from the shackles of this world. Sadness, tears, regrets, and everything that lead to death are no longer the burden of ones who carry godly grief. They are guided by the Holy Spirit and follow Christ. The granting of this new life by God is a manifestation of God’s love shown in Christ. That is, this grief leads to a new life. It does not stay and crush one’s spirit sucking the life out of one who is already in deep distress. It frees the sufferer.

The daughter I introduced you at the beginning was able to move on and continue to love God, her family and her neighbours. The other siblings simply continued in the life of addiction and misery. At best they had momentary happinesses and relief here and there from their difficult lives.

Paul’s point is that all those who were experiencing heartbreaks from the rebukes or the death of their loved ones are able to turn toward God and entrust their future in God’s hand. Doing so would help them to enter into the life of eternity under God’s reign where unconditional love would be the very foundation of their new lives. This is why in every grief from rebukes, disappointments, hurts, sadness, harsh judgments or even death we are called to turn to God and find new life in Christ. Repentance is not simply reciting sins we have committed. Repentance is turning back toward God or heading toward God in reconciliation. This is godly grief helping us to face God and move toward our creator. It propels us to entrust God with our future. This is why in place of “funeral service” we insert “Giving thanks for the witness to the resurrection life service.” In life and in death, proclaiming the promise of the resurrection life is to entrust God with our future.


We thank you, O God, for giving us opportunities to call on you for our needs. As our world suffers the fear of this deadly virus, we bring to you all our concerns and put them before you. As the world wonders about the future, we come to entrust our future in your hand.

Doctors’ warnings, politicians’ appeals, and peoples’ fear are filling our air. Day after day, as numbers of infections increase all around the world, even the brave among us are feeling anxious and sensing oncoming despair. Dispel these fears from us and help us to focus on sharing love in ways to keep others safe and strong.

Once again we pray for the frontline workers, workers whose jobs are being stopped yet again, and those who have lost jobs. As their health and livelihoods are threatened, they feel powerless. Doctors, nurses, and caregivers are struggling to keep up. In the meantime, part time workers are being laid off again. Those who have been laid off already see that there are no jobs for them. Be with them. Grant them your presence to protect them and assure them safe life.

We bring the concerns of the homeless, the hungry, the sick and the lost. So many are without enough when your abundance is all around. We pray that your spirit will move hearts of those with much to share freely in ways that all may be blessed. Guard and protect each and every one as they navigate through this very difficult life.

In your mercy with much hesitation we bring our own troubles. Though you have blessed us much we still come in need. Be gracious, O God, and hear our prayer. As we carry out your ministry, we are beginning to see the difficulties around us. So many are in need. We do not know how to serve them more meaningfully. Our desire is to serve you and our neighbours. Help us to find the way.

In our effort to reach out, we sometimes fail to let you lead us. We do all things our way. Make us to see that we are here to follow you as we love and serve.

There are many among us who are ill. We feel powerless as we watch our loved ones suffer. We try so hard but simply praying for them only makes us feel worse about our inability to love and care for them. As our loved ones endure their pain, help us to know that you hear our prayers and are tending to and walking with them. May we never be discouraged because of what we see. May we be strengthened through what we do not see, but believe in your will for all your creation.

Sometimes, words that we offer in prayers are never enough. So hear and receive our unsaid prayers when we lift up our hearts in words of your Son our Lord saying, “Our Father…”

Hymn: Love Divine