Sunday, September 13

If you wish to hear the entire service without going through each part, simply click here.

Welcome and Announcements: Sunday, September 13


Thank you for worshipping with us. Your presence glorifies God. May you enjoy God today and many days yet to come.

We will continue our worship in this format in the hall until Thanksgiving. As you know the current rules from governments indicate that we are not to sing, keep social distancing, wear masks in confined areas where full social distancing is not possible, limit the number of people to 30% capacity for worship, not partake in communion,not share in refreshments, not congregate in order to limit the spread of COVID 19.

Please pray for members of the church. This week, we ask you to pray for Ruth Henderson, Bob and Virginia Ward, Doris Race, Dorothy Wilson, Isobel and Robert Norminton.

Wally has begun pastoral visits again following COVID 19 rules. If you are in need of visits, please contact the office.

We have changed our Saturday Breakfast take-outs to Saturday Lunch take-outs. If you would like to help, when you are shopping look out for individually wrapped cookies, granola bars, fruits, puddings, yogurts. Whatever you can help with is appreciated.

Sharing with neigbhours
We need your help to brighten Christmas for those in need at the YWCA shelter. Urgently needed items are: Single bed sheets, towels, all sizes of pajamas, socks and underwear for women and children, personal care items. The items must be new and in original packaging.

Meditative Hymn: Open Our Eyes Lord



Call to Worship:


The church lives to praise God.
We have no higher calling than to offer the worship that belongs to God day by day, Sunday by Sunday.

Hymn: Glory be to God



Opening Prayer:


In the beginning, you created heaven and earth and all therein. With your Word, you created. In your Word you called us into being. We, as your people, now come and worship you, O God. With praise that rises from the bottom of our hearts to your ears, we give glory so that your everlasting glory may always shine forth in and around this place.
On this day as we worship, we remember your infinite grace that was shown through Jesus your Son our Lord who came to be among us, died and was raised to save us and has ascended. We also remember your unending mercy by which you sent the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us through our days.

As we come, we ask your Spirit to open our eyes to witness your work of grace and mercy, ears to hear your will spoken and shared, hands and feet to carry out your ministry in and around this place as our worship to you. May you be glorified through all that we do as your people in your name. May this worship be acceptable in your eyes. Amen.

Offering: (Anthem: Abide with Me)



Offering Prayer:


O God, you are our God who provides for all our needs as we serve you individually and through your church. In response to your abundant provisions, we bring a small portion as our gift to you. May you receive them not as a very small amount in this world of riches, but as our expressions of desire and commitment to your work here in this place. Receive them as our expression of love to you. Through them, may you do wonders beyond its size for with you nothing is impossible. We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:4 (remember that second part of sermon in audio is in the middle)


Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.

Sermon: Knowing how we are comforted

It has been very difficult to hear about countless deaths in North American cities in the past few months. We are now numb to reports of deaths. Our minds avoid handling these tidings of deaths. We now process the enormity of these numbers by hearing them without meaning. Yet, we do know that with each death there are uncountable numbers of people who suffer and mourn. It is impossible for most of us to deal with so many deaths so personally.

Few decades ago, all mournings were private. We did not bring out tears in public. People held their tears and did not exhibit their grieving hearts. Even the most famous funeral of John F. Kennedy was an affair without displays of tears. Things were very different way back until the 1990s. The event that brought us the major change was the death of Princess Diana, mourning rituals became very public especially for public figures or deaths of many individuals through senseless acts of human evil or natural disasters. Vigils were organized, public memorials were held and everyone shared tears. Public mourning rituals were often quiet gatherings with or without candlelight. Outpouring of emotions and tears became naturalized in them.

Since the start of COVID 19 infections, however, things have changed even more. As hospitals took precautions keeping even the immediate family members of dying patients out, funeral directors were limited from providing services to bear essentials only and governments were prohibiting and later limiting numbers of people gatherings for funerals, mourning/grieving became invisible again as everyone else went on with life trying to keep away from any gatherings of people. Suffering the pain of life lost of loved one is tough at the best of times. To describe how each person had to suffer invisibly in the world where everyone is trying to fend for oneself is far more difficult.

Since March, our world has been under the death’s grip. We are reminded of its threat every time we inhale and exhale. We are constantly told of its power when newscasters report how many are infected and how many are dead because of it. At the same time, we are still under the strict rule of keeping away in attempts to protect each other. Though we can now do more in terms of loving and caring for each other, we are still limited in what we should and should not do. In the meantime, at least in Canada, we are relieved that people are not dying in a large number each day as it used to in earlier months. We are now busy with finding the safest way to reopen closed businesses, schools and churches. Everyone wants to resume life.

In the context of the world that attempts to resume everyday life, for those who have lost their loved ones what does it mean to live especially since they were not allowed to be with their dying mothers, fathers, children, friends and neighbours? What does it mean to continue on in life for those who were not allowed to be near their loved ones because of the prohibition? Not only were they barred to be with dying ones, but also were not allowed to mourn like all others who lost their loved ones before COVID 19 hit. Some of them were not told of the deaths of their loved ones until after many days were gone by. How about families of all those who died at the hands of others? How about families and friends of all those who died because even without being infected by COIVD 19, the bombs from powerful countries fell on the innocent people, or because criminals were shooting bullets into houses? What is not shared is how many people are there in the world to mourn so many people who die each day. Many communities of the world that used to mourn together the deaths of their heroes, victims of senseless violence and victims of natural disasters have gone quiet. In social distancing and no travel era, almost everyone who lost someone through death is left on their own to mourn silently.


Does the Church have anything to say? Do we Christians know what we need to say to these mourners in silence? Is there good news for these ones in tears and deep sadness?

In Gospel Matthew, after gathering his disciples, Jesus blesses all those who are before him, “Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Unlike many of us who want to tell the crying ones to stop crying because everything will be okay, Jesus blesses them. Unlike many of us who do not know what to do with those who are in deep grief, Jesus blesses them. Unlike many of us who want to avoid pained hearts broken and shattered by awkward and uncomfortable silence, Jesus blesses them.

For a long time, as a minister who was preaching many sermons at funeral services, I could not grasp the meaning of this blessing. Of course, I was able to say that God showed God’s love by comforting the mourners. It sounded good, but what did Jesus mean when he gave this blessing? God will be there to accept your tears? God will make sure things will be okay with those who lost their loved ones? God will protect them? Jesus did not say that God will do these and more. Jesus made it so vague that we do not know the identity of the one or ones who will give comfort to those who are saddened for losing their loved ones. How can this be a blessing?

In death we seek meaning. We want to be assured that life lived means more than a dead body. There, however, is a big difference in understanding what death is in the secular world and in the Christian world.

In the secular world, life ceases at death. Death brings an end to life. Those who die leave the ones who are living. Life ends. Mourning as a ritual has a particular meaning in the secular world. Mourning is about facing death as an end to all life while moving into new life without the loved ones who died. It is a time for closure--coming to terms with the end of relationship, love, sharing life, and moving on in life. It helps us to realize that a new chapter of life begins without the participation of those who left through death. In this ritual of mourning, we put the past behind and enter into the future taking with us memories of joys, tears, happiness, sadness, blessings, curses, pleasures and pains forged in life together with the dead. We take into the future both goods and bads knowing that we are free from the past since we have power to choose what memories, lessons and growths we will take with us. The dead may be celebrated and remembered through teachings, gifts and life stories. The living, after mourning, moves on. Ultimately, In death life is betrayed. In death life is abandoned. In death, life ceases. In death, all meanings come to end as the ultimate equalizer where, having lived, all die eventually.

In Christian world, death is only a stage in life, an enemy, a time of rest until we are resurrected into eternal life in Christ Jesus. Mourning in Christian faith means something totally different. Mourning is a defiance against death declaring that in love we continue to love refusing to forget the dead. Mourning is an occasion for eternal hope in Christ as we recollect and reclaim the promise of the resurrection life in Christ Jesus God’s Son our Lord. Mourning is the commitment to remember and live in communion with all those who have gone before us, who are with us now and who will be with us in Christ Jesus. Mourning is more than a ritual of remembering the life of those who died. Rather it is commitment to uphold life.

For Christians, after all, life is about love and hope in faithfulness. Each of us live to love and hope among people with whom we share strong bonds. Faithfulness assures us of being together. There is no betrayal in death. God does not abandon us. We do not forsake one another. Death does not end our relationship. Death is not the final act in life. Rather, death is the time to experience the steadfast love of God or eternal presence with us and steadfast love of each other in Christ because in Christ we are made one. Faith--unending and undying presence by God, who is Other, with us and by each other--is revealed and realized as true love of God, true love for God as well as true love for one another in God’s presence. This love makes the life of good and bad that we lived meaningfully. In this love we find hope not only as that which prolongs, but reveals our lives in the eternal. That is, for Christians faithfulness of God to us, our faithfulness to God and to each other makes life worth loving and hoping. Death does not bring end to the understanding of faithfulness. In death life is not betrayed. In death life is not abandoned. In death, life does not cease. In death, all meanings do not come to end. For us Christians, death is our enemy, but the enemy without power to stop life. We as Christians say that in his death, Christ put an end to death for us by the resurrection life. Mourning is our way of witnessing the life that began in our baptism--the life of Christ in each and everyone. In mourning, then, our tears are placed in God with confidence, our broken and shattered hearts are entrusted with certainty, our fears are cast out by love. In mourning, we are comforted by knowledge and wisdom, understanding and realization, experience and intimacy of God’s love given through Christ and shared at the hands of those who belong to Christ.

For Christians who are mourning, their despairs lifted, darkness vanished, sadness turned into joy, tears wiped away as their faith, hope and love are found in Christ. Through the mourning, the resurrection life in Christ is revealed. Life eternal with God is reassured. So says Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.” That is, in the experience of death in all human sorrows and griefs, the comfort of life eternal--life in which the fullness or the purpose of each person’s life in God’s reign--is revealed for all to witness and enjoy. Blessed are those who mourn the death of their loved ones to COVID 19, to other diseases, to natural disasters, at the hands of the police, foreign armed forces, gangs, and evildoers, to neglect and abuses. In Christ, they are comforted. To them that mourn, God’s promise for those who died is revealed. In that revelation, God’s reign has come to those who mourn. Their cries are heard. Their sorrows are honoured. Their griefs are received. Their tears are wiped away. God embraces all these mourners with deep sadness turning their pains into joy in God’s presence, restoring their broken hearts, renewing their shattered spirits, recreating them in the promise of the resurrection life as part of God’s eternal reign along with all those who have gone before them and all those who are yet to come.

Prayer:


In humility we approach you with our needs and concerns. We have sojourned in your grace and mercy in this troubled world for seven days since we worshipped in your presence last. We bring our hurt and broken bodies to you, our stained and strained spirits to you. May you hear our prayer as our Lord and creator who always restores and renews us with abundant love.

This past week, with much confusion, anger and worries, parents sent their children to school, many people began returning to work, many businesses took another stop in reopening more fully. Everyone’s nerves are frail from what we can see. Everyone’s stress is pushing frustrations to flow over already thin patience. Help this world of anxiety and fear. May you fill us with love so that all the worries are met with calm and kindness.

Many of our members are still struggling with failing health. For some pain of bodies has become too severe to put up with. For others death is knocking at the door. There are many who suffer in silence alone. There are some who accept the inevitable no longer fighting. Others lift their words up to you desperately hoping that you will hear their cries. O God who creates and renews, be with each of your children who have nowhere else to turn.

Dear Lord, the world has stopped talking about essential workers. Their exhaustions, frustrations and sacrifices are being forgotten as more and more people return to their own work. Those doctors, nurses, hospital support staff, social workers, office workers, grocery store clerks, truck drives, fast food workers, cleaners, sanitation workers, bus drivers, police and unnamed many are trying their best to keep things going. Keep them in your care. May we remember their efforts and contributions as your life giving hands. O God, continue to pour your love in all who are serving others. Do not withhold any blessings from them. May you open our eyes and minds to see and appreciate what others are doing to keep this world vibrant even in this time of peril.

Now we lift up your people who gather in this place to worship, who are serving and sharing your love with the world. Continue to keep us in communion as your people. Steadfastly hold us up so that we may love you and our neighbours. If we falter, may you hold us up. If we become weary and tired, restore us. If we forget to be your witnesses, fill us with courage of faith to share your good news. By the Holy Spirit guide us to do what is right, to say what is true in you, and witness your will in this world.

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

Closing Hymn: It is Well With My Soul



Benediction:


May the God, who fills us fully with unconditional love, abide with us always!
May the Christ, who empties himself to fill us with his unending grace, stay with us always!
May the Holy Spirit, who reshapes us to experience and witness Christ among us, guide us always! Amen.