Sunday, October 4

Welcome and Announcements


Thank you for joining us on the Worldwide Communion Sunday. As we gather, we ask you to think of Christians everywhere sitting together at the Lord’s Table rejoicing and full of excitement.

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, we are not singing during the service of worship. We are also not serving communion today. We are aware of other churches that are doing communion in person. We have chosen not to do it. However, we are asking you to reflect deeply on the meaning of communion today and celebrate with all Christians everywhere this very important feast of Christ today.

Remember that we are sharing with our neighbours God’s love by providing Saturday Lunch Take-outs and collecting various materials for YWCA shelter in our neighbourhood.

For Saturday Lunch Take-outs, if you would like to help, pick up extra single packaged items like puddings, fruit cups, candy bars and so on. You can drop them off any time. Simply call the church to make sure someone is present or bring them on Sunday.

For YWCA Shelter, sheets for single beds, pajamas, socks, underwear for women and children and other personal care items would be appreciated. Remember that each of these items have to be new and are in original packaging.

Starting next Sunday, Thanksgiving Sunday, we will be worshipping in the sanctuary for 10:30 am service. Again, all precautions will be in place. Make sure to go through and check the possible symptom list before you head to the church. If you forget to bring masks, do not worry. We have disposable masks available.

Meditative Hymn: Near To The Heart Of God



Call to Worship:


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Opening: Praise my Soul



Opening Prayer:


Dearest Lord, We come into your presence filled with gratitude this day. Through good and bad, joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, you have steadfastly abided with us.

We come in faith to set our hearts on you, to put our trust in you, and to give our love to you.

Create in us hearts that devote all our efforts on glorifying you. Create in us minds that settle our thoughts on matters that usher your reign in this world. Create in us spirits that attest your Spirit in this worship to rejoice in and praise your Name. Amen.

Offering (Anthem: Great is Thy Faithfulness)



Offering Prayer


O God, our creator and redeemer, we bring all that we are in these symbols and offer them to you as tokens of our love for you and for the world. May you give us joy in serving you and your people. May you fill us with strength to be the bearers of your truth in this part of your vineyard. Guide and protect us in all that we do to glorify you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 103


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Sermon: When we see, experience and come to know God's goodness


It appears that we are in the beginning of a long and difficult journey of fear and uncertainty. Before March of 2020, Canada was already filled with people who were impatient. Everything had to be instantaneous and immediate. We were very unhappy if we were made to wait. We were easily irritated for tardy responses and slow progressions. We were always looking to the future. We did not want to bother with the past. We felt that our society was moving too fast. Yet, at the same time we fretted over the world that was not fast enough in responding to our needs. No wonder, then, we are so exasperated with the glacial pace of pandemic measures. Everyone is already getting fatigued, we are told. Everyone wants to get on with their lives and get back to life they enjoyed before. No one wants to be part of this sluggish pace of life isolated and self-distanced.

Yet, this idle speed is not all bad. We have lost the art of slow living. With the ratcheting up of productivity, we have become stuck in the ever faster spinning wheel of producing more and more in lesser and lesser amount of time. As the demand for increased productivity is made a goal for workers, more people are getting stressed and sick. With the internet, everything is now or whatever that makes you wait is in your past already. Since the early 2000, we have been discussing a lot about the benefits of slowing down and enjoying what we do, finding work and rest balance. Our desire was often to work hard in order to enjoy leisure time without worries.

Last Thursday was the harvest moon festivals in East Asia. China, Japan and Korea were involved in this Autumn ritual. Everyone took time off to celebrate it. It is one of the biggest holidays each year. It is their Thanksgiving, of course. Ours is next Sunday. I point this out only to show that this is the time of year when people take time off from everything to slow down, remembering the blessings of this past year and being grateful for our lives. It is a time of deep reflection and enjoyment. That is, it is time for everyone on earth to stop worrying about making life work briefly in order to enjoy life as it was intended. It is time to be, rather than time to do. After all, harvest festivals around the world are there for everyone to relax and enjoy what we and nature have produced together for our own well being. To emphasize this point, in not so ancient times, feasts were enjoyed by all including the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the cast-out, the rich and the powerful. Every culture had a tradition of the rich and well to do putting on the feasts for everyone in their villages and counties for everyone to enjoy the bountiful harvest.

As Christians, we have been part of this busy world trying to do everything we can. We have been busy doing more with less in everything. It is hard to know. We have been very busy to a point that we have lost the joys of slowing down and enjoying a flower on a side of the road. So occupied with the business of living in this world, we get through Sunday worship as another chore among many, forgetting that Sunday was set aside to rest from all works to contemplate on Godly things. This lock down should have been an opportunity for us to rethink about the Sabbath as the rest in God after working busily for 6 days. Yet, many churches are busy trying to do communion so that they can check off another worldwide communion Sunday as a success for having done the ritual of communion in spite of rules that prohibit us from getting together. Thus, communion is not experienced as God’s rest for us, but something we have done to make us proud..

More than ever, we need a time of reflection to rethink what our lives are for. If this COVID 19 pandemic taught us anything, it is that we are given an opportunity to figure out what is important in our lives. As we used to say, life is not about what we want, but who we are as people: Life is not about getting things done, but being who we are as God created us to be. We can see that life is more than work, chores, responsibilities, duties and obligations. We start with Communion. Our knowledge of, understanding of, and practice of communion will help us to reconnect us to the life that God intended us to live in God’s creation.

The first knowledge to begin with is, communion is the visible symbol of invisible grace of God. By this, we say that God with us is made real in communion. It is God who places the table in this broken world to allow us to come and sit at the table. We are called to be there sitting side by side along with Christ. We are not called to work, serve, help. We are called to be God’s guests--not because we earned to be there, but because God invited us. We are there to receive. We are present to enjoy God’s presence at the table in the form of our Lord. Our task there is to be part of God’s glory and enjoy God. This is true Sabbath, rest from all works in life. It is a joyful mystery.

In this way, we can reflect and rethink why we are joining with the worldwide Christians in communion. Imagine this table around which each of us is seated, having been invited, joyfully present for enjoying the feast. Think for a moment. Take all in. Rather than focusing on the ritual think of the whole event of communion as if we are there for the first time. Everyone is excited to be there for the feast. Everyone is joyful. No one is worried about yesterday’s sorrows, today’s hardship and tomorrow’s uncertainties. Yesterday’s hurts and tears are wiped away. Today’s fear and tribulations are met with God’s love for us and our love for one another. Tomorrow’s anxiety is put in God’s hand. Everyone is at the table sharing in the feast that transcends time being assured of fullness of life to enjoy. For this very brief moment, true Sabbath in God’s presence is experienced, our broken lives are mended, tired souls are refreshed, shattered spirits are recreated. That is, we gain new strength to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, to put behind the old life and start in the new life. Simply enjoying the eternal life in God’s presence at the Lord’s Table reveals to us the new creation in which we are a part.

The second is that communion is eucharist or thanksgiving. Being called to the table is indeed an occasion of thanks. We know who we are. We know how lacking we are in terms of moral and ethical uprightness. We know how we easily fail to love God and others. We are full of experiences where we hurt others deliberately, unintentionally, willingly and unwillingly. That is, we know we are sinners. We know that our list is long when it comes to doing things right, even longer for the things we have done wrong. Yet, in Christ we are forgiven and are given places at the table. Knowing this grace overwhelms us with thanksgiving.

At this Table of the Lord we are fed. We are satisfied. We are made full.

This bread, signifying the body of Christ, reminds us of the very ministry by which each and every one of us are called. The bread, as it fills our hunger, becomes part of who we are, giving us sustenance to be the embodiment of Christ’s love here and now. A piece of bread eaten as the body of Christ binds us to him so that we, too, become together as one in Christ, the body of Christ in this broken, shattered and torn apart world. It signifies what humanity was created to be, the union with God and all human beings.

This wine, signifying the blood of Christ, focuses our attention on what life in Christ ought to be for everyone. As wine quenches thirst, Life of Christ reveals life of justice, equity, fairness and peace. Participating in that Life, we work for justice, equity, fairness and peace so that all may enjoy the benefits of God’s reign regardless of gender, race and challenges due to lack of physical, mental and spiritual abilities. Everyone is able to see God’s purpose in each person as well as ways to live one’s potential in full under God’s reign.

As we behold the bread and cup on this table, we are to share in this vision of God’s reign of all peoples sitting around the Table of the Lord where fullness of life is enjoyed by all.

Because we have been too busy following the established ritual of communion, we never saw communion as what it truly was, the eternal breaking in our lives momentarily. Now, we are given this very special gift of time of reflection. As we ponder, our souls overflow with gratitude. So we say along with the poet we recite the whole Psalm 103 and become part of the world wide communion in which together with Christ all his followers are made one.

Prayer:


O God, once again, the world is in confusion and fear. The world you created has disappeared. The world of our making continually surrounds us with worries and anxieties. In this quiet moment, we bring our needs and concerns. O Lord, hear our prayer.

The hungry and thirsty are roaming the world in search of a better life. From bitter and terrifying daily struggles, they pick themselves up searching for something better. Others see them as threats. They are mistreated, abused and herded into camps away from the comfortable and well to do. Many of us have hearts full of compassion, but do not know what to do and how to help. Powers of this world make them invisible. Be with them. Guard and protect them.

The sad and broken are suffering alone in their own places. They hide their pain. They retreat away from the gazes of others. May your Spirit be their guide. Through the Holy Spirit, bring healing to them.

The sick are crying out with aching hearts. They want to be healed. They desire to live life without worries and anguish. They wish to be independent. Yet, unable, they suffer. Through your servants, O God, tend to them. Through doctors, nurses and care-givers bring speedy healing. For those who are mired in chronic illnesses, send your love through your servants.

We raise our voices in need. Tend to us as our rescuer, redeemer and friend. Do not neglect us. Do not put aside our cries as murmuring of the unworthy. Hear us. Tend to us.

We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Hymn: How Great Thou Art



Benediction:


Fill us with grace that was given and manifested in Christ, with love of the creator by which you sustain this world, and with ever present and steadfast faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to witness, share and serve the Triune God in this troubled world. Amen.