Scugog Island United Church
Our Third Service in the Garden
Another lovely day to gather together. It was warm, but with a cool breeze. We gathered in the shade of the trees once again. The sounds of bird calls, cicadas, and the wind filled the air. Rev. Ned commented that even if those gathered weren't able to hear his voice, God would speak to each person through the sounds of nature.
As people arrive they line up to be screened by a volunteer.
Our worship table set up under the trees.
Service of Worship
August 30th 2020
Lighting the Christ Candle
As we light the Christ Candle we pray that our lives
may reflect the light of Christ into the world.
We gather in the midst of uncertain times to hear your word O God. We seek wisdom for our daily lives. We seek comfort from the troubles we are facing. We seek your presence in our church, our communities, and our hearts. Help us to follow the path of Jesus. May our discipleship be a service to others and this world that you so love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Music- Oh a Song Must Rise performed by Andrea LeBlanc
Prayer for Understanding
Eternal God, in the reading of the scripture, may your Word be heard; in the meditations of our hearts, may your Word be known; and in the faithfulness of our lives, may your Word be shown. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13: 33-35, 44-53
Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.
Music- Talk About Peace- Sharon, Lois and Bram
At the start of COVID-19, when we had begun self-isolating, Michelle and I had a hope that we might be able to clean the whole house. We got to learn what it is like to try to clean the whole house while a two year old wants to be in the same room as you, playing with whatever toy you just put away. We wanted to get everything in its proper place in time for the baby’s arrival. We were able to get the home office set up when Michelle began working from home and set up the nursery. It seemed like our cleaning was on track. Once our baby arrived though we didn’t make as much progress, for the most part we were lucky if we could just keep up with the mess.
Have you ever been going through your house and found things you didn’t even realize were missing? Some item with a lot of sentimental value to you. Items that bring back memories or bring wonderful stories to mind. It might be something that reminds us of loved ones. Our homes are full of such treasurers. Have you ever been cleaning your home and found the exact tool that you needed a week ago? You find it in the strangest of places, but when you had originally put it there you thought this will be the perfect place to keep it safe.
With all the extra time we’ve been spending at home, Michelle and I have found many things in our home that we had hidden away. We’ve been bringing out the baby clothes and toys that for baby. We’ve made more play spaces for our two year old to do art and play with toys. In making an home office, Michelle and I brought out the things that we’d need to make a comfortable work space. I’ve been appreciating how our home is full of treasures.
Jesus said “every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” He said this after telling many parables. He asks his disciples if they understood what he was saying, then adds this one extra parable. The beauty of Jesus’ parables is that they are so relatable, but carry the deeper meaning.
We know what it is like to bring treasures out of our house. When I have been out on visits to people’s homes I see treasures new and old. The antique china. The artwork done by a family member. The pictures of family members around the house. When I’m offered hospitality in the form of tea and cookies. Or when I’m talking with someone and they share a piece of wisdom, a story, or memory that is particularly meaningful. These are all different kinds of treasures that we keep in our homes.
The master of a household is often used in parables to refer to God. And many times the household is a reference for the Kingdom of Heaven. Scribes are often seen as negative in the gospels because many opposed Jesus. But here Jesus compares a scribe to God. A scribe trained in the Kingdom of heaven is a disciple. Someone who follows Jesus and has learned from him. So a scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven, will be similar to God in they way they bring out treasures from the Kingdom.
It could be someone who is able to open the scriptures to others. Someone who takes a bible passage and is able to take those words and draw out treasures: such as an old familiar truth that brings comfort, or a new perspective that helps us to look at the world differently.
The theologian Douglas John Hall spoke at my seminary many years ago. He spoke about how our churches are sitting on great stores of treasure. He wasn’t talking about the investments and property value of the churches. He said that churches sit on a great treasure which is their heritage. Our heritage includes the struggles that Christians have had to face in every age and the wisdom of what they learned. Christians have experienced plague, persecution, doubt, hopelessness, and just about any problem that we are dealing with in our modern day. Members of the church have passed on from one generation to the next the spiritual practices that have helped them to encounter God.
Our church sits on a gold mine of spiritual treasures. Inside we have the baptismal font which speaks to us of the grace of God; that while we are born into a world of brokenness and sin we are welcomed into God’s embrace and are able to find a place in the family of God. In our church is the communion table which tells the story of how God gathers all followers of Jesus to the table so that they may be fed. In the breaking of bread and pouring of the cup we find ourselves in the presence of the risen Jesus Christ. In the table and font we have two powerful treasures that remind us that we are loved unconditionally.
This is a time where the world needs the good news of the gospel. The world needs scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven; the world needs followers of Jesus who bring out the treasures that people need. Jesus was able to point out the ordinary things of life as symbols that directed people toward God. When we bring out the treasures of our homes, we do something similar. Our treasures might be ordinary things, but they point beyond themselves to share memories and stories. When you look at the treasures in the church or in your life consider how they might also point toward God. To end I’d like to share a quote I came across that I think does a good job of looking at the ordinary things in the world to help us learn about living in God’s world.
“Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult is… Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.” -Pope Francis
Music- I Love to Tell the Story Sung by the Joslin Choir
God, giver of all good, you continually pour your benefits upon us. Age after age the living wait upon you and find that your faithfulness has no end, that your care is unfailing. We praise you that the mystery of life is a mystery of infinite goodness. We praise you for the order and constancy of nature; for the beauty and bounty of the earth; for day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest; for the varied gifts of loveliness which every season brings. We give you thanks for all the comfort and joy of life, for our homes, for our friends, and for all the love, sympathy, and goodwill of all people.
We pray for our church family and all those on our prayer list:
Doris Lynn and Bob Homji, John and Diane Findlay, Todd Green, Susie Baird and family, Gilford Pfrimmer, Brenda Stowell-Smith, Nancy and Don Scarrow, Debbie McIntyre, Anne Chillingworth, Linda Brunton, John Black
We lift all our prayers to you O God. 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.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Music- Go Now in Peace sung by the York Region Community Choir
Copyright Notice: The Pastoral Prayer and Prayer for Understanding are taken from Celebrate God's Presence: A Book of Services for the United Church of Canada