Worship for June 14, 2020
You can join this week’s worship service by clicking here. Thank you to Nino Michaud for sharing the gift of music with us this week.
Because this is our traditional Sunday School Closing Sunday, the Time with Children video is included in this week’s worship video on YouTube. Thank you to Natalie Leslie, our Sunday School Coordinator, for preparing a slideshow of the past year with our children.
Below, you’ll find Steve’s reflection and Andy’s prayers for this week. Our weekly e-newsletter will continue to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening at St. Paul’s. If you don’t currently receive that, and would like to, please contact us and we’ll happily add you to our mailing list.
In these exceptional times, please do stay in touch, with us and with each other. The peace of Christ be with you all.
Sunday School and Graduate Celebration
Scripture: Romans 5: 1-5
Music: There Is Room for All; Passacalle; May God’s Sheltering Wings
Musician: Nino Michaud
Prayer for Teachers, Students and Volunteers
God of the Great Family of Faith, you bless us in every stage of our life.
When we are young, you give us teachers and guides along the way, people who open worlds of possibility with love and patience.
When we are older, you give us mentors, people who can share the wisdom of their experience, and who listen to us and the what your Spirit is calling us to, helping us to discern the same.
When we are old enough to be teachers and mentors, you bring us into relationships and communities where we can practice the gifts you have given us so that we might help others as we have been helped.
And all the while, you surround us with people who work to keep us anchored and safe, who volunteer their time and energy to enrich our experience of worship and life together in this place.
God of the Great Family of Faith, we thank you for every stage of life, for every person who has shaped us in spirit and in truth, and we ask that your blessing be upon us all: students, teacher, mentors and volunteers. Amen.
95 years ago the world was remarkably different. June 10th marked the 95th anniversary of the United Church. I really don’t know what the people who gathered in the Mutual Street Arena in Toronto would think the world would be like almost a century later?
95 years ago television was just being invented. Could they imagine that most of us would carry around the sum of human knowledge in our pockets? I suspect they would be shocked to find out that we would actually use the magical device to watch videos of kittens.
95 years ago, the first in-flight movie was shown on a plane between London and somewhere on the continent. Would they have believed that we would watch live a space ship docking with a space station that has been circling the earth for over 20 years?
95 years ago, dark clouds were looming on the horizon in those days. Hitler published the first volume of Mein Kampf. Mussolini had just been elected in Italy. The KKK held a march with over 30,000 participants. But, could they imagine that thousands would take to the streets to protest the reality of systemic racism?
Would they have believed that their church would welcome all into our midst no matter what? I hope they might have. But, I suspect they would have no idea of what that actually means. It has been a struggle to get to where we are and there are still miles to go before we can rest. Would they have believed we would be in the middle of a global pandemic? Yes, they had just lived through the last one.
Friends, none of us want to be going through this. Many are afraid. Some are isolated and cut off. There have been millions who have been infected and hundreds of thousands who have died. Fear is a powerful emotion. Many others think we need to get back to the way we were as soon as possible. I am profoundly aware that there are millions who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and who are suffering as a result of the economic collapse.
In the midst of this, and especially this morning and this coming week, most of us feel badly for the grads that are missing out on the excitement that their accomplishment brings. Many are suffering – some in small ways and some feel as if the world has collapsed around them.
Going back to that group that gathered 95 years ago, I can’t be sure what advice they would offer but I wouldn’t be surprised if they told us to turn to that passage we heard from Romans today. Paul writes this, “Even when we feel hemmed in by our sufferings, we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”
Paul knew the reality of life. He had been persecuted, imprisoned and tortured because of his faith. The people he was writing to in Rome understood that reality and they felt hemmed in. The Roman authorities didn’t like this new religion, and the public was against them. Beyond that, life was brutal in those days.
Paul knew there will always be suffering. He also knew the reality that sometimes the troubles that we face in our lives can help us in the long term if we are resilient. But to have resilience there are certain things we must possess: a willingness to recognize that what is past is past; and, a willingness to learn from the past and work for a better tomorrow.
The Indian author Arundhati Roy talks about a pandemic as being a portal: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
I like that she invites us to walk through the portal lightly. Over the past 12 weeks many of us have learned that we don’t really need much. That we can let go of what has stifled us and kept us from following the way of the Risen Christ.
I know this has been a challenging time and maybe especially for young people starting out who thought they knew the path they were on but suddenly everything seems to have changed. It is like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. Paul reminds us that our suffering can help build our character and give us the strength to look to the future. We may not know exactly what it will hold – but that it is a time to choose what is important enough to hold onto.
As we look to the future. Most of us have felt hemmed in, we have endured and our endurance can help build the strength and courage we need to work for a different reality, in our personal lives, in our church and community, in our nation and around the globe.
May we dare to dream, the dream that Christ offers us; a world where no one is left behind, a world where peace with justice prevails, a world where hope is rooted in compassion. Let us remember – we are not alone. We live in God’s world. Thanks be to God.
Creating God, you give us this wonderful family of faith, with people of every age and stage,
of different abilities and gifts. We thank you for this prism through which we experience your world and your people.
Help us hear the hopes of the young, the joys and cares of children, teens and young adults finding their way in the world. Especially, today, we pray for strength and courage for Adam, Drew, Julia, Kyle, Maggie, Mark, and Natalie, as they graduate from high school to navigate a very different year ahead than the one they anticipated only months ago.
We pray for all our families, and give thanks for this our family of faith. We pray for today for those who are sick or ill at ease; who are worried or afraid; alone or anxious; for those who aren’t sure how to make ends meet this summer or what the year will bring for employment; for those who are trying to provide care for a loved one or walking with them in their last days, we pray. Give your people strength, O God; give us courage, patience, love and hope that you are with us through it all.
And as this most unusual Sunday School yeas comes to a close, may we continue to connect with you, O God, and with each other, wherever we are. And when our summer adventures are through, bring us safely home. We ask it in Jesus’ name, who taught us to pray saying, Our Father…