154 Years of Ministry
Scugog Island United Church
October 25th, 2020
Welcome and Opening Prayer:
First Hymn: "We Praise You, O God"
By Julia Cory 1902 Music: Netherlands melody 1626
Scripture: Galatians 6: 1-10
Reflection on Galatians:
Anthem: "As a Fire is Meant for Burning" performed by Marilyn and Gloria
Words by Ruth Duck 1983 and Music by Marty Haugen
Prayers of the People:
The Lord's Prayer:
Offering and Blessing:
Closing: "Go Now in Peace"
Scugog Island United Church
October 25th, 2020
Good morning. Thank you for worshiping with Scugog Island United Church today as we celebrate 154 years of ministry.
This Saturday, October 31st from 9am to 12pm at the church we will be holding our first ever Drive in Food Drive for Operation Scugog Foodbank.
Every year our church has supported a family or families through Operation Scugog’s Christmas program. This year Operation Scugog has made a few changes for everyone’s safety. This year families will be given gift cards to do their own shopping.
So we are asking for donations of gift cards to local businesses, cash or cheques made out to Operation Scugog Foodbank
Toiletries and non perishable food items are also needed at the foodbank
So if you would like to make a donation and are able to drop by on October 31st between 9 and 12 we will be very excited to see you. If you are unable to come to the church, but would like to make a donation please contact me.
Loving God, during this time of harvest we give thanks for those who planted the seeds of faith in us. We give thanks for those who have nurtured our growth. As we enjoy the fruits of the Spirit we are grateful for all that we receive. Help us O God to use what we have wisely so that the benefits we enjoy may be shared with others. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Galatians 6: 1-10
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.
Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
What a year this has been so far! They say hindsight is 20/20, and generally it makes sense that things are a whole lot easier to understand after they’ve happened, but as I look back at this year I don’t feel like I have 20/20 vision. A lot of the events of this year are just as confusing and sometimes just as troubling looking back as they were when we were living through them. I heard a joke that suggested the phrase “hindsight is 2020” was actually a message sent to us from a time traveler in the future that we have all just misunderstood.
This time of self-isolation reminds me of a story a group of monks who chose to live in a secluded monastery so that they would have more time to focus on God without the regular distractions of the world. One monk found that even this had too many distractions. He was bothered by the way one of the other monks was always chatty and interrupted his thoughts. Two of the other monks were constantly bickering with one another. He started to wonder if maybe he should look at moving somewhere more remote by himself as a hermit. He decided to talk with the abbot, the head of the monastery. The abbot listened to him and the concerns he had. He told the abbot that he thought it might be best if he left. The abbot considered this then took out some paper and drew a circle. The abbot explained, “Imagine that God is at the center of this circle and all of us are at the edge. As you direct yourself toward God and move closer to God, notice how there is less distance between you and the others who are also making their way toward God. By seeking God you will come closer to others who are also seeking God.” The monk decided to stay in the monastery and his outlook was changed. Now rather than seeing the others as a distraction away from God, he saw their presence as a reminder of how community is a natural result of seeking God.
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul lifted up the importance of community and personal responsibility. Paul conveys how every person is responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions. What a person plants is what they harvest. A person can’t take the responsibility for someone else and the decisions they make because everyone has to live their own life. We are accountable for doing the best we can with what we have. At the same time though, we are not self-sufficient. We need community because no one is truly able to provide for all of their needs completely on their own. Paul reminds us that we have only been able to grow in faith because of others. Each of us benefit from the wisdom and experience of those who teach us and plant the seeds of faith in us. In the church there are many people who have helped us in our journey: those who help us understand the scriptures, those who inspire us with their music, the people who help us through challenging times by listening and sharing personal stories, we are blessed by those who feed us with good food and good company. Take a moment to think about the people in the church that have been mentor or supportive companion for you.
Our modern day context is very different from the Christian community in Galatia. But they were facing pressures internal and external just like we are. Sometimes members of their community fell short of their potential and needed the forgiveness of others in a spirit of gentleness to restore them. The same is true for us. Their will be times when we need the help of others to overcome our sins and times where others will need our help to overcome their sins. It isn’t a competition and we don’t benefit from comparing ourselves with others. Instead we are called to focus on the good we can do for others. In every moment there is opportunity to work for the good of all.
As we celebrate one hundred and fifty four years of ministry at Scugog Island United Church we give thanks for the many ways God has been at work in this faith community throughout our history to the present day. God is on this journey with us and guides us toward the future that is planned for this church. In preparation for this service I had a look at some of the history of this church. I found a very helpful summary by Eliza Fralick that she wrote out in 1985. And I found a concise history of SIUC and the other Island Churches by Gloria Fralick that she put together in 2003.
Looking at the history of this faith community you can see a lot of changes from a single log schoolhouse that doubled as a place of worship, to several different churches being built as well as services taking place in people’s homes, to the union of the several church communities into Scugog Island United Church. We see people of different traditions within Methodism come together. One thing I see in the history is resurrection. When the different Methodist denominations joined together it marked the end of their particular tradition, as well as the birth of something new. Just as when the United Church of Canada formed in 1925 it was an ending for those denominations who joined and a new beginning. When Centre Church burned down on June 12 1941, the people of the church decided to rebuild. Gloria’s notes mention that bricks came from a church in Tyrone that was torn down as well as parts of neighbouring Indian and Foot Churches were used in the new building. To me this is a phoenix rising from the ashes kind of story. As I said, when I look at the history of this church I see resurrection. Where there is an ending, there is a new beginning. I’m sure there were times when our ancestors in faith felt hopeless, or that their actions wouldn’t make a difference. But looking back, in hindsight, we can see just how much we have benefited from the fruits of their labours. We are an easter people and believe in God’s power to bring new life from death. Perhaps years from now people will look back and see in this time of covid an ending and a new beginning for our church.
As Paul pointed out we harvest what we plant. He said, “if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” Let us continue to plant the seeds of faith. Let us plant the seeds of good done for the sake of others. There are opportunities all around us to do what is right. We can start with those in our family of faith and expand outward.
Loving God we trust that at the right time we will harvest a good crop. We live in your world. We are not alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.
There are many words, O God, that we could use to describe the times we are living in. One word we might use is revealing. During this time the gaps between the haves and the have nots has been revealed clearly for all to see. Inequalities and injustices in the world have been laid bare. We have seen that our institutions, our economies, and our societies are not as resilient as we might have thought. This time has also helped to reveal the things that matter most to us. The little things we take for granted. We have also seen the determination and kindness of people who have stepped up. We see leaders emerging everywhere we look.
Loving God, we see that this pandemic has touched everyone across the world. We are reminded how interconnected our lives are with others, even those who are distant from us. Globally we are all going through the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. For some this has been a difficult time with a lot of inconveniences, but for others each day has been a struggle. Those who were suffering before the pandemic have had their issues multiplied.
Help us when we experience compassion fatigue to continue to care for others. When we feel that this storm is too much for us, help us to see the one who walked across the water and joined his disciples in their boat. May our focus shift from the size of the storm to the one who joins us in our boat. And just as Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, help us to trust that we do not face this storm alone and that it too shall pass.
God who calls us and journey’s with us, we pray for our church. May Scugog Island United Church continue to carry out the mission you have called us to. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit that we might share your blessings with one another and the community. As we celebrate 154 years of ministry we offer our gratitude for the way you have guided us through history. Thank you God, for revealing to us your continued presence and guidance as we move forward together. Amen.
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory. For ever and ever. Amen.
We bring our gifts to you, God. Here is the work of our hands, and here is the work of our hearts. Accept them and use them, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
May God look upon you with kindness
and give you peace.
Go now in Peace. Amen.
Special Thanks for their contributions to the service:
Marilyn Dipaolo for sharing your gifts of music
Gloria Fralick for sharing your gifts of music and for writing the history of the church
Brenda Stowell-Smith for reading the scripture passage for us and sharing the commentary for further reflection
Michelle Wells and my associate pastor for offering the Pastoral Prayer
Offering Prayer from Celebrate God's Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada. (c) 2000 The United Church Publishing House. All Rights Reserved. All materials, except those otherwise marked, may be freely copied for use in public worship in The United Church of Canada.