Sunday, March 26, 2006

Better Late then never ...

MINNEDOSA UNITED CHURCH
CLERGY: REV. SHAWN ANKENMANN
MINISTER EMERITUS: ELGIN HALL
ORGANIST/CHOIR DIRECTOR: ELEANOR TAYLOR
MINISTRY: THE PEOPLE OF GOD GATHERED HERE
March 26th, 2006

GREETINGS ANNOUNCEMENTS MINUTE FOR MISSION

HYMN
#166 Joy Comes with the Dawn
CALL TO WORSHIP
One: Lent is a time of preparation.
Lent is a time to renew our life.
ALL: A TIME TO FACE ALL THAT HEMS US IN,
A TIME TO FACE ALL THAT HOLDS US BACK.
One: Lent is a time to acknowledge our need for repentance.
Lent is a time to take responsibility for our actions.
ALL: A TIME FOR SELF EXAMINATION
A TIME FOR PRAYER AND FASTING
A TIME FOR CLAIMING GOD’S LIBERATING LOVE. AMEN.

PRAYER OF APPROACH:
One: Loving God, you lead us from the turmoil in our lives
to the dawn of a new day…
ALL: YOUR LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
One: From the dry and dusty desert, to the cold and barren north,
ALL: YOUR LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
One: To the thirsty you come as a refreshing spring,
To the hurting you come as caring compassion,
ALL: YOUR LOVE BRINGS SALVATION AND LIFE
One: To the struggling you bring strength,
To the lost you bring guidance and community.
ALL: YOUR LOVE BRINGS SALVATIONS AND LIFE,
YOUR LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. AMEN.


HYMN #333 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Numbers 21:4-9
Introduction to Numbers Reading:
This is a reading that has an inherent tension. The text tells us that God sent the fiery, or venomous serpents, and instead of simply getting rid of them, God commands Moses to make a Bronze serpent for the Israelites to gaze at …
This is the same God who in the 10 Commandments told Moses and the people to hold no other god before Him. Yet, here God is commanding Moses to MAKE and use and idol … Problem??
Why would God send the serpents?? Why would God not merely cause them to disappear?? Why did God require the showmanship of the bronze serpent??
The other interesting part of this text is the comment at the end that doesn’t say the people were suddenly cured of their ailment when they gazed at the serpent. But it says that those who gazed at the Bronze serpent – LIVED, or survived.
Snake bites a painful. The venom destroys tissue and even those who survive with modern medical intervention suffer grievously … Is our reading telling us that those who look to God will not have the sudden healing we yearn for, but rather they will in time, after some struggle and some pain – find themselves alive …
Is this reading challenging us to look past the quick fix, and instead remember that things of value require work and sometimes involve some pain before we live and survive and claim wholeness???

Psalm 107 (parts 1 & 2 – pg. 831 V.U.)

SPECIAL MUSIC: “Sleep, Little One”
THE STORY STOOL:
HYMN
#585 Jesus Bids Us Shine

SERVICE OF BAPTISM:
One: As we come to this font of living water,
let us recall the meaning of baptism.
For just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body, though many, are one body,
so it is with Christ.
For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body—
Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Now you are the body of Christ,
and individually members of it.

PRESENTATION OF THOSE TO BE BAPTIZED:
One: On behalf of the congregation of Minnedosa United Church,
I present the following person
for initiation into the body of Christ through baptism:
Sarah Frances Christa Gaiser

QUESTIONS OF FAITH:
One: Do you believe in God, Source of love;
in Jesus Christ, love incarnate;
and in the Holy Spirit, love’s power.
I do, by the Grace of God.

One: Will you follow in the way of Jesus Christ,
resisting oppression and evil, seeking justice,
and witnessing to God’s love for all creation,
following the way of Jesus Christ?
I will, God being my helper.

One: Will you share your faith with Sarah,
growing with her in faith, hope, and love?
I will, God being my helper.

CONGREGATIONAL COMMITMENT:
One: We have heard the will of this family,
We receive Sarah in Christ’s name,
as we ourselves have been received.
We all belong to the one household of faith in Jesus Christ.
Will you support Sarah
with constant love, wholesome example,
Christian teaching, and faithful prayer?
ALL: WE WILL, GOD BEING OUR HELPER.

ACT OF BAPTISM:
One: God be with you.
ALL: AND ALSO WITH YOU.
One: Lift up your hearts.
WE LIFT THEM TO GOD.
One: Let us give our thanks to God.
ALL: IT IS GOOD TO GIVE GOD THANKS AND PRAISE.
One: Gracious and Holy God,
we bless you for the gift of life,
and, within it, the gift of water.
Over its unshaped promise your Spirit hovered at creation.
By water, comes the growth of the earth.
Through water, you led the children of Israel to freedom.
In the waters of the Jordan your Child Jesus was baptized.
Now may your Spirit be upon us and what we do,
that this water may be a sign for all of new life in Christ,
in whose name we pray.
ALL: AMEN.
One: Sarah,
I baptize you,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
ALL: AMEN.
One: Child of God,
blessed in the Spirit,
Welcome to the family of Christ.
We sign you with the cross,
the sign of Christ.
Walk in the faith of Christ.
Shine with the light of Christ.
ALL: AMEN.
One: May the blessing of God, Source of Love,
Jesus Christ, Love incarnate,
and the Holy Spirit, Love’s power,
be with you today and always.
ALL: AMEN.

PRESENTATION OF CANDLE AND CERTIFICATE:
One: Sarah, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good works,
and give glory to God.
ALL: AMEN.

WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY:
One: Into the household of faith,
we welcome you with joy and thanksgiving.
ALL: WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.
WE ARE INHERITORS OF GOD’S PROMISE.
IN THE NAME OF CHRIST, WE WELCOME YOU.
One: May God bless you with wisdom and love,
May this child find in you,
Your home and family,
Christ’s love and understanding
ALL: AMEN

HYMN #444 Child of Blessing, Child of Promise
SCRIPTURE READING: John 3:14-21

CHOIR ANTHEM: “All I Have”
SERMON: “Our Fear…..God’s Reality!”
Today is a special day – every baptism is special, but today’s is special because on the morning of February 12th we were to celebrate Sarah’s Baptism in the sanctuary of our Church … a baptism that couldn’t happen because of the thoughtless, callous and vicious actions of three people who robbed us and our community of something special …
But for Sarah and her family, they had gathered family, they had planned and waited, and they were ready to celebrate the truth that she, like every child is a beloved and cherished child of God … but then we awoke to the loss of our building (the church is intact – it’s just our building that is gone).
This week there were two news stories that over and over challenged us (us – on a countrywide scale) to think about what is important and what we hold before us much like the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent for inspiration and courage when their camp was overrun with venemous serpents …

The first story was the unfolding of the sinking of the Queen of the North on BC’s Central Coast … though I’ve never been on the Queen, many of our family have been – Mag’s sister in Terrace uses it regularly to travel to Port Hardy … What struck me in the story was the courageous actions of the folks from Hartley Bay a small First Nations village south of Prince Rupert and north of Bella Coola. Hartley Bay has a resident population of about 200 people – all of their supplies come in by float plane, barge and fishing boat. The costs of food and supplies and fuel are very, very high …
So on Wednesday morning, when the SOS call came out and the fisher folk rushed down to their boats and headed out into the teeth of a gale, they were risking their lives. The Central Coast, as the best of times is a dangerous place – in the winter time – people die. I’ve presided at memorials for people who have perished on the waters of the Inside Passage. Every community on the coast knows the risk – but in that moment when the call came – that risk was trumped by the selfless action that comes when one is in distress, not too mention 101 people in distress.
One of the news outlets called the actions of the Hartley Bay people “reckless heroics”. There is nothing reckless about what they did. It IS heroic. Hartley Bay is a strong United Church community. They have proudly maintained a Church that is peopled and staffed by residents of the community. I was in BC in the late 1990’s when Ernie Hill, was at the age of 80, ordained to a ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care when the powers that be in the Chruch recognized what for 60 years, everyone else on the coast and in every native community already knew – that he WAS a Minister. Now, the care and nurture of the Church in Hartley Bay rests with his son Clare, who next weekend when the Presbytery gathers in Hartley Bay is holding a traditional Tshimshian Naming ceremony, and recognzing his lay ministry to his people. (The last time I saw Clare, we skipped out of the Conference Meeting in Qualicum and went golfing …)
It was the faith and care of a community that lives on the sea, that came through this week. The people of Hartley Bay did what they had to do – they rushed out into the dark of night because they knew somewhere out there a ship was sinking and people were in peril … Like the words of our Psalm, they trusted in God and went …
And thank God they did – otherwise this could have, and would have been a lot worse …
But the sacrifice of Hartley Bay didn’t end there. They opened their community and their homes and their food supplies to the survivors. In finests coastal fashion, the tables at the Community centre were groaning under the sandwiches and coffee and food they put out to feed their guests. Communities of Hartley Bay are not awash in surplus cash, and the costs of food are very very high – yet they didn’t count the cost – they lived the generousity that lies within … they gave freely …
So, what is important … what is our lesson that we should and could draw from this?
I found a quote from the Vancouver Sun by a ten year old boy talking to his mother after the sinking. She told a reporter: "He's going, 'Mom, it's all gone, the boat's gone, my Nintendo's gone, the Game Boy's gone, Timber [Josh's teddy bear] is gone, all my clothes are gone.' And we just kept telling him it's OK, you're here, nothing else matters. We can replace everything else."

He and 98 others were safe – nothing else matters. We can replace the stuff – but we can’t replace the gift of life … The coast of BC WILL struggle to replace the ferry, but at the end of the day, with the tragic exception of the two missing passengers, only stuff was lost – a boat, some cars and trucks and some stuff … All of it is replacable.
Then on Thursday, the news of the Christian Peacemaker hostages being freed in Bagdad pushed the Queen of the North to the back of the media stage … Yet, even in this story, we have a lesson in what’s important.
The two Canadians boldly went into the teeth of a storm in the name of Peace and Shalom. They knew the risk. Their families knew the risk. They all knew that something could happen. But it was more important that they put their lives on the line in service and defense of others, then NOT risking themselves in the name of PEACE.
So, four long months ago, the four men were snatched and held captive, and we waited …
On Thursday, the stuff of life – the fancy cars, the computers and electronics, the holidays in warm places – all the stuff became secondary to the families of the three surviving Peace Makers … it was the person that became vital. The stuff paled in comparison. Yet, across the media the families still talked about WHY it was important for James, Hameet, Ronald and Tom to do what they did – knowing the risks …
Both stories challenge our world view that sees 15 BILLION dollars spent on advertising aimed at the under 6 crowd. It is not the stuff of life that is important it’s the people.
In both cases, for the Peacemakers and for the people of Hartley Bay it was not that they failed to count the costs of their action. Rather, they counted the cost and realized what is really important – it’s the PEOPLE, it’s the relationships, it’s the living out of LOVE that is foremost. The cost was counted and the values of our society were found wanting …
So, into the teeth of a storm they plunged – figuratively and literally … the intent and goal in both cases was to offer the care and compassion and LOVE that goes with faith.
For God so loved the world that he sent his son … and in that moment of Incarnation, we have the model we are called to follow. The Christ event – the core of our faith is like the Bronze serpent held before the Israelites in their distress. The question we have to ask ourselves not just today, but everyday is simply this: “What’s important in our lives?” What do we look to for support and strength and inspiration when our lives get turned upside down??
Will our ipods and computers offer that?
Will our cars and trucks and rvs??
Will the stuff of life offer us support and strength and inspiration in times of distress and turmoil?
We of course know the answer … it is our faith … our relationship with God … our family … our friends … our our faith lived out through the relationships with others that will offer us support and strength and inspiration when everything is in upheavel …
That’s the essence of our readings today – God is with us – always, no exceptions. The challenge is to hold to that when in the dark of night the storms hits us and our lives get turned around …
They’re easy words to say – they’re easy words to think. They’re a bit harder to live. But today, guided by the waters of Baptism, and the promises we’ve shared over the font, we are reminded that we are all cherished and beloved children of God and when all is said and done – that’s all we have and all we need. The stuff of life doesn’t matter – life does, and life is lived in relationship …
When we welcome Sarah to the family of God in this place, we are also reaffirming our relationships with one another. When we gather at the font, we are saying BOLDLY and COURAGEOUSLY that our faith won’t let the loss of our building to fire, be the end of our story as a Church. In our distress we have lift our eyes and like the Israelites, we gaze at the bronze serpent and endure and survive.
We know that life won’t suddenly get easy because of our faith – but our faith will help us face whatever comes at us, and it will inspire us to rise to the occasion and like the Peacemakers and the people of Hartley Bay live out our faith by valuing what’s really important: the lives of one another.
May we have the courage to live out our faith today, tomorrow and always, even in the teeth of a winter storm … may we have the courage to hold to our faith no matter what …
May it be so … thanks be to God …
Let us pray …

OFFERING:
OFFERTORY:
PRAYER OF DEDICATION:
HYMN:
#236 Now, Thank We all our God
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE THE LORD’S PRAYER
COMMISSIONING/BENEDICTION:
HYMN:
#649 Walk with Me
SUNG RESPONSE: HYMN #884 You Shall Go Out with Joy

The worship has ended…
…the work of God’s people has just begun
Go in peace

ANNOUNCEMENTS

THANKS TO THE AOTS MEN’S CLUB for their Pancake Supper on Friday evening.

No lunch after worship today……..
REMINDER OF TONIGHT’S SPRING SMORG starting at 4:30 at the MCCC (food and supplies can be dropped off at the west door – the door by the arena. Mnay thanks in advance to all those who have corrdinated, organized and prepared the supper.

CONFIRMATION CLASSES will be held at Minnedosa bowl on Saturdays at 12:30 – come out and join the fun and learn more about being a member of the United Church. For more info talk to Shawn.

Reminder of a SPECIAL BOARD MEETING following worship TODAY…

BIBLE STUDY – Fridays at 10 am in the Meeting Room of the Library.

CHOIR PRACTICE – Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Covenant Church. New members always welcome.

THE MINNEDOSA GRAIN GROWING PROJECT is hosting a fundraising banquet and auction on Sunday April 2nd at 5pm (2 Farmers Feed Cities Tees will be up for auction … one signed by Tom Jackson, and one signed by the Holiday train participants). Proceeds in support of the work and ministry of the Canadian Food Grains Bank.

HOLY WEEK: Easter Services:
Maundy Thursday – April 13th – 7:30 p.m. @ Minnedosa Funeral Services (by the arena). Service of Communion
Good Friday – April 14th – We will be joining the Community Good Friday Service at MCCC
Easter Sunday – April 16th – 9 a.m. service at Tanner’s Crossing School Pit
- Brunch provided by AOTS Mens Club
- 11 a.m. service – Tanner’s Crossing School Pit
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR LOCAL KATIMAVIK PARTICIPANTS AND THE MCI CHANCELLORS for the basketball “game” on Wednesday night. A good time was had by all, and 621 dollars was raised for our rebuilding efforts.

Anyone requiring or willing to offer a ride to Church on Sundays, please call the office. 867-2674

1 comment:

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