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  • Writer's pictureScugog Island United Church

Under God's Wing




Lighting The Christ Candle


Call to Worship


One: If God is a hen, All: we are under God’s wing.


One: If God is a table, All: we each have a seat.


One: If God is a house, All: we are safe from the storm.


One: If God is a party, All: we’re invited to dance.


One: If God is a melody, All: our names are the lyrics.


One: If this is God’s house,


All: then all are welcomed. All are loved. All belong.


One: Let us worship Holy god.


Hymn: VU 395 “Come in Come in and Sit Down”


Announcements


Fellowship Time: Food and refreshments will be served after the service. We ask that everyone continues to practice social distancing. Please continue wearing masks during the fellowship time when not consuming food or drink.

Guest Worship Leader: We are very happy to welcome Robert Bennett back to lead worship on March 20th and 27th while Rev. Ned takes some study leave time.

Good Friday walk: Plans have started being made by the Scugog Ministerial Association to resume the tradition of leading a walk through downtown Port Perry on Good Friday morning, April 15th.

Lenten Devotionals: Available at the entrance for anyone who would like one.

Farewell Service: Rev. Ned’s final service with Scugog Island United Church will be on June 5th.

Copyright: Prayers by Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org. Bulletin Cover art by Hannah Garrity.


Prayer List


Jean Law, Elsie Nicholson, Terry Petroff, John and Diane Findlay, Nancy and Don Scarrow, Debbie McIntyre, Anne Chillingworth, John Black, Lynne and Ian McLeod, Nellie Van Dyke, Tim Pelyk, Bob Currie, Derrick Linton, Sharen Bobbie, Ed and Jane Williams, Bill Statton, Cheryl Helm, Tracy Harper, and Robert Bennett’s cousin Joanne.


Children’s Story


Hymn- VU 117 “Jesus Christ is Waiting”

Prayer of Confession


When the Pharisees tried to stop Jesus, Jesus said,


“I will keep on.” I will keep on healing.

I will keep on teaching. I will keep on preaching.

I will keep on flipping the tables of injustice.

I will keep on treating every person

like a child of God.

I will keep on believing that this world can change.

I will keep on and keep on

and keep on until God’s promised day.

Forgive us, God, for the times when we stop.

Amen.


Words of Forgiveness


Family of faith, because Jesus’ love just keeps going,

we can trust that that love and grace exists for us.

So rest in this good news:


No matter what we do wrong or what we leave undone, we are under God’s wing.

We are loved, held, and forgiven. Thanks be to God for a love like that! Amen.


Prayer of Illumination


Holy God,

this life of ours is full to the brim.

Our days are overflowing with emails and to-do lists, schedules and notifications, assignments and deadlines.

We wake up feeling behind,

we go to sleep worrying about tomorrow,

and we know—there has to be more than this.

So we pray:

bend down and show us the way.

Leave breadcrumbs in the street.

Point us toward awe and wonder.

Guide us to intimacy and trust.

Gift us with laughter that will make us cry and hope that will make us feel alive.

We want a new kind of full to the brim.

Show us the way.

We are listening for your cues.

Gratefully we pray, amen.


Scripture: Luke 13: 31-35

31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.



Sermon


“Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” These are chilling words. And it is not an idle threat. Herod had the power and authority to follow through on this. He had already imprisoned John the Baptist who the people regarded as one of God’s prophets. Herod held immense power and he abused it. He had no qualms about using violence to achieve his aims. I can only imagine how alarmed and afraid Jesus’ followers were when the Pharisees said that Herod wanted to kill Jesus.


My mind goes to the movie Jesus Christ Superstar, which I try to make sure I watch every year sometime in Lent or during Holy Week. So many of Judas’ actions come out of his fears. He fears Jesus has lost sight of the movement they’ve been building, he fears the crowd’s enthusiasm will make them a target to the Romans, he fears that the crowd will turn on Jesus if he doesn’t meet their expectations, he fears that all the good Jesus has said and done will be washed away. In the gospels we hear about others being motivated by their fears. Such as Herod committing atrocities because he is afraid of a baby who was born king. Or Jesus’ opponents who challenge Jesus, who were afraid of the crowds that followed Jesus. And I think in this case the Pharisees who bring this message want to help Jesus and are afraid to see him killed by Herod. The Pharisees and Jesus are often seen as bitter rivals, but there were also several positive encounters between them. They may have disagreed with Jesus, but that doesn’t mean they all wanted to see him killed.


Jesus doesn’t show any outward sign of being afraid, but I think he felt fear. He was human and so would have felt the same emotions we feel. And fear is a perfectly natural emotion that we all experience. When we are in situations that are outside of our comfort zone, fear is that natural response that alerts us to the fact that we may encounter danger. Our fear is there to help us keep safe. Sometimes it can prevent us from doing things we want to do. Like the child who wants to play a team sport, but is so afraid of letting others down they don’t even try out. Or the person who has something important they want to share with a large group, but are too nervous to speak in public. These aren’t situations of danger, but they are outside of comfort zones so the fear response can be just as strong.


The last few years I’ve had many conversations with people who have had to make the decision to limit the amount of time they spend watching the news. Everyday we hear and see so much happening in the world that is terrifying. But when we feel fear all the time it is like an alarm ringing constantly and the harder we try to suppress the feelings the more serious the effects of chronic anxiety can become. It can get to the point where everything seems threatening.

The world is a scary place right now. I’ve heard a few interviewers asking citizens in Ukraine if they are in a safe place and they respond that there isn’t a safe place in Ukraine. The events of this week show that even the places that should never be targeted are not safe. The kind of destruction and disregard for human life that Putin has shown by launching this invasion evokes fear even half the world away. And despite the dangers, we’ve been seeing incredible acts of bravery. Ukrainian citizens banding together to resist the invasion. Farmers towing Russian tanks away. Russian people protesting the invasion knowing that they could face over 10 years in prison and devastating fines. Even a Russian priest was arrested after denouncing the invasion of Ukraine during his sermon. One of the stories that has stood out for me is the captured Russian soldiers who were given food by Ukrainian citizens who also helped to call that soldier’s family in Russia to tell them he was alive. This is an incredible act of bravery and compassion.


When Jesus is told Herod wants to kill him, he responded with bravery and compassion. He tells the Pharisees to tell Herod about the ministry of healing he is performing. Then Jesus shared his desire to show compassion to the people of Jerusalem despite the city’s history of treating prophets. Even in the face of terrible news, Jesus’ desire is to gather the children of Jerusalem together for safety just as the mother hen gathers her young under her wings. He will not let Herod’s threats turn him from his mission.

How does Jesus manage his fear? How can we follow his example to respond with bravery and compassion? One thing I have been taught for dealing with fear is to think of your fear as being a child that is asking for your attention. If you ignore it, it just gets louder. But when you listen to your fear you can learn what it is trying to warn you about. We can gently take our fear by the hand, sit down and listen to it. And once we have heard what our fear has to say to us we can make a plan. When we develop the practice of listening to our fear, it becomes easier to put things in perspective. Jesus kept his attention on his ministry of healing and his desire to gather God’s children under his wing. We naturally will want to return to our comfort zone, but when we venture out, being aware of our fears can become like a compass that helps us to navigate uncertain waters.


As I thought about this I wondered what was Jesus’ comfort zone. I wondered if perhaps it was the time of prayer alone or with close friends. Returning to that familiar and comfortable practice of prayer was like pulling into the harbor after a difficult journey. The practice renewed him so that he could go out to cast out demons, heal the sick, stand up to tyrants, proclaim God through his words and actions, and bring people into relationship with God and one another.

The cover image on our bulletins spoke to me in a powerful way this week. The artist Lisle Gwynn Garrity depicts a child peering out from behind a wing that shelters him. But just as significant as what is depicted is what is not present in the picture. At first she drew a canvas tent in a refugee camp with rugged stones lining the bottom hem of the tent. But she felt compelled to turn the tent flap into the wing. And when she made this change she felt all the other details of the boy’s setting no longer mattered. She reflected on the words of Psalm 27 which start with, “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Now she saw the promise of the psalm that we are under God’s wing.


Whatever else that might be going on around us God is still near to us and we can rest in that presence. You are under God’s wing. From the shelter of God’s wing we can listen to our fears without being overwhelmed and then move toward the peace God desires for us. We held in God’s great and faithful care. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Hymn: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”


Communion


Let us open our hearts in thankful prayer.


God who knows us, we are amazed by you.

Your love never runs out, your hope never runs dry, your joy never gives up.

We wish that we could be more like you in that way.

In a world that loves scarcity, your abundance is shocking.

In a world that knows fear, your joy is compelling.

In a world that knows anxiety, your peace is captivating.

We long for these things.

So today we ask you—be with us

Be with us when compassion fatigue rears her head.

Be with us when stress makes it hard to breathe.

Be with us when self-doubt pushes in close.

Be with us when exhaustion becomes constant or when loneliness becomes our primary language.

Be with us, and show us the way to the life you long for us.

Show us a life of expansive faith.

Show us a life of overflowing joy.

Show us a life of absorbing beauty.

Show us a life of engrossing purpose.

Show us a life that is as honest, and rich, and meaningful as the one Jesus led.

And until that expansive and holy day, we will continue to gather at this Table.

Until that day we will continue to look for you in our midst.

So pour out a double portion of yourself onto this bread and cup so that we might catch a glimpse of your goodness.

God, we are amazed by you.

Your love never runs out, so bring that never-ending love here.

And so we proclaim:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.


On the night before he died, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to those who sat with him, saying: “Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup, saying “This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.”


Remembering your boundless love for us in Jesus Christ, we offer you our praise, as we proclaim the mystery of faith:


Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.


Send, O God, your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts, that all who share in this bread and cup may be the body of Christ: light, life, and love in the world.


Through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, God most holy, now and forever.


Let the people say Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is 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, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.



Invitation to the Table


Jesus has always been one to invite.

He said, “Drop your nets and follow me.”

He said, “Let the little children come.”

He said, “Stand up from your mat, you are healed.”

Jesus has always been one to invite, and that has not changed.

So friends, you are invited to this Table. Each and every one of us—with our doubts, our fears, our scars, our joy, our dreams, our hopes, our questions—we are invited to God’s table.

And here we will be met. Here we will be fed. Here we are given a taste of an expansive life that is full to the brim with love, overflowing with joy.

So come.

Not because you must, but because you can. Come. You are invited. This Table is for you.


Prayer after Communion


We give thanks that bread broken brings wholeness; that wine poured out replenishes; that time spent with the Risen Christ and one another is gift and grace. Amen.


Offering Prayer


Gracious God, bless and transform all that we offer: our faltering steps, our brokenness, our hope, our risking, our hearts, that your covenant may be written on our hearts and we may be a blessed and transformed covenant people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Blessing


As you leave this place, may you be awestruck by the beauty of this world. May you laugh, and may it be contagious. May you overflow with love for those around you. May you be effusive with hope and quick to point out joy. And in all of your living, and breathing, and being, may you find yourself full to the brim with God’s Holy Spirit, and may it change your life. In the name of the Lover, the Beloved, and Love itself— go in peace, full to the brim. Amen.


Go Now in Peace

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