Scugog Island United Church
Where the Spirit Leads
Sunday June 5th 2022
Lighting The Christ Candle
Since time immemorial this land has been the meeting point of different languages, faiths and cultures. From the original peoples and first stewards of this land: the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Ojibway, Mississaugas, and Anishinabek, to those who journeyed to this land from Europe, Asia and Africa. May our church be a meeting point among different peoples where we build relationships of mutual respect and love.
This church, like any community, changes. Babies are born. Children grow up. Loved ones and friends grow old. People move into our communities and churches. Others leave us, moving on to new places, new experiences, and new opportunities.
When I came into these churches we formed a covenant with one another. A promise to walk together as God’s People, deepening our commitment to Jesus Christ and growing closer to God. God’s covenant with us never changes, but our covenants with one another do change.
As we gather today, we mark the end of the covenant between us and we begin the next stage of the journey to which God now calls us.
Let us begin this time by singing together “God of the Sparrow”
Hymn- VU 229 “God of the Sparrow”
The risen Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray:
Spirit of the living God, visit us again this day of Pentecost.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
On rushing winds that sweep away all barriers,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
With tongues of fire that set our hearts aflame,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
With speech that unites the babel of our tongues,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
With love that overleaps the boundaries
of race and nation,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
With power from above to make our weakness strong,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
In the name of God, the Holy One,
And of Jesus Christ our Saviour,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
Children of God, come and worship!
We are led by the Spirit of God.
Our Redeemer accepts us and invites us
to gather as people of faith.
We come, as we are,
ready to receive the Good News.
Thanks be to God!
Jean Law, John and Diane Findlay, Debbie McIntyre, Nellie Van Dyke, Tim Pelyk, Bob Currie, Derrek Linton, Sharen Bobbie, Ed and Jane Williams, the family of Madi Chard, and the family of Connor Elliot.
Prayer For the Holy Spirit
There are a varieties of gifts: but the same Spirit. There are varieties of service: but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working: but the same God is at work in all.
Send your Spirit upon us God. May we, like the disciples on the day of Pentecost, be touched by your Spirit. May the Spirit enter our hearts and inspire us so that we might worship you with our whole hearts. Help us to proclaim by our words and actions that you are Holy God.
Sung Response “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Holy God, your love for all is everlasting. Help each of us to trust in the future which rests in your care. The time that Rev. Ned Wells and the congregation of Scugog Island United Church were brought together in your name provided laughter and tears, hopes and disappointments, and many opportunities to learn together. Guide us as we hold on to the cherished memories and move forward in new directions. Keep us one in your love forever, through Jesus Christ.
Sung Response “Santo, Santo, Santo”
We give you thanks God for the ministry we have shared in recent years. We thank you for your gifts of forgiveness and love in the face of human failures. We thank you for your presence, for the deeper knowledge we have gained of you and of one another because we have journeyed together. Be with all of us in this time of transition. May this new stage of the life of our church be richly blessed and guided by you. All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, your Song, and our Lord. Amen.
Sung Response “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Prayer of Illumination
O God, who in smoke and fire upon Mount Sinai gave the law to Moses, and who this day revealed the new covenant in the fire of the Spirit: grant, we pray, that kindled by that same Spirit which you wondrously poured forth upon your apostles, we may receive with joy your commandment of love.
Scripture: Acts 2: 1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every people under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Sermon “Where the Spirit Leads”
The day of Pentecost begins with the followers of Jesus all gathered in one place. They were waiting in Jerusalem just as Jesus had told them to. After appearing to the several times after that Easter when the women found the tomb was empty, Jesus ascended to heaven. He had regathered the community of his followers that had fractured when he had been crucified and told them to wait for the Holy Spirit. Just as John Baptised with Water, Jesus told them, you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
I can imagine his followers would have wondered what it would be like to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. They wouldn’t have known what to expect. This wasn’t really something that they would be able to prepare themselves for. It was a life changing moment. When the spirit entered their lives everything began to change. The old divisions between different peoples immediately begin to be broken down. The disciples speak and people from across the known world all understand their words in their own languages.
And this was just the beginning. The Spirit would move the followers of Jesus to share the good news to Gentiles, people who were not Jewish. The Spirit would move them to reconsider what foods were unclean and not permitted to be eaten. The Spirit would cause them to proclaim their message into the heart of the Roman Empire despite the great personal risk. In the early church you had people of Jewish heritage, pagan heritage, you had the original followers of Jesus as well as pharisees who joined after his death, there were poor people and wealthy, and there were even slaves and slave owners as part of the Christian community. All these people brought their unique histories, traditions, religious practices, and ideas of what it meant to be Christian. So of course there was tension and division in the early church. The Spirit had drawn all these very different people together and now they needed to learn how they would live together.
They needed to consider what parts of their past identity would they continue to hold onto in the future and what would they need to let go of. Should Gentiles adopt Jewish practices in order to become Christian? Was there anything in their various pagan traditions that could be held onto now that they were Christian? If you think about the big issues of our day and the passion that it can stir up in people and the tension it can create, then you can imagine just how challenging it was for the people of the early church. They weren’t united by common history, ethnicity, social status, or like minded values. They were brought together by the Holy Spirit to be the body of Christ in the world.
The story of the early church is not how they managed to continue without Jesus. It is the story of how Jesus was present in a new way. In his life and ministry Jesus had been a disruptive figure. He disturbed the powerful people and upended established customs to make room for God’s emerging Kingdom. He formed new communities from those who had been among the lowest and least in society. In the Spirit, Jesus continued to be present with the community working to prepare for God’s Kingdom. Jesus’ presence with the Christian community was a disruptive one in that it brought very different peoples together, but at the same time it made it so that people didn't have to face life's troubles alone.
During my first service I told the story stone soup and my message was that the ministry of this church was like preparing a meal that everyone would contribute to. Each person would be welcome to offer their unique gifts and from that sharing we would make a meal. In my first sermon here I said that together we would choose the recipe: it might be something new that we haven’t tried before, or it might be an old favourite recipe. My observation is that the meal that the members of this church want to make is something familiar and comforting, like an old family recipe perhaps that has been enjoyed for many years. I did point out in my first service that we might need to get creative if we found we didn’t have the same ingredients that the church had in the past. This is a church where traditions are cherished and held close to the heart so in my first few months here I worked to slowly add the ingredients together and with a bit of creativity stir everything together. Then the pandemic began and we no longer had the luxury of taking things slowly. We had to get creative quickly to keep everything moving. Perhaps this was a way God used the tragedy of the pandemic for some good. If it hadn’t been for this pandemic my eight month appointment to the church would have ended in June 2020. But because of the pandemic my appointment was extended to give the church time to do the work needed for preparing to offer a call for a permanent minister. And though I did not anticipate my ministry with you would be to walk with you through a pandemic, perhaps that is the very reason the Spirit called me here.
When I think of the times when the Spirit might have been at work in this church I think of the special music we had from Marilyn, Gloria, and also Emma. Historically the music ministry has been an important part of this church and it continues to touch the hearts of the people here in a special way. Another ministry I think of when wondering where the Spirit is moving in this church is the drive-in food drives in support of the foodbank. We saw people from the community were happy to come out to support the church when they heard about what we were doing, we even met a few people who supporting the food-drive was their first interaction with the church. The online Bible study group and the meaningful conversations that we shared certainly felt Spirit-filled to me. There were many other moments and times where I had a sense that the Spirit was at work, but these three areas of music, community outreach, and the study of scripture stood out in my mind as I thought back over the past few years. I did encounter barriers that prevented us from following where I felt the Spirit was calling the church. My observation is that the church family needs to really decide what you want for the ministry of this church. If you are able to decide what is important for you and what you are looking for the future of this church, it will go a long way toward determining where the Spirit is calling the church and help you make decisions about future ministry leadership.
My suggestion is that you start by considering where you see gifts of the spirit in yourselves and in the people around you. Maybe you don’t feel you have any gifts that would be useful for the church? You’d be wrong, but might not be alone in feeling that way. So when you see something in someone else, tell them. It’s possible that you have seen something in them that they have not seen in themselves. You have people in this church blessed with gifts for pastoral care. You have people in this church who have a gift for making meaningful relationships with others both in the church and outside it. You have people in this church who have gifts for good stewardship. You have leaders in this church with strong wills. There are a multitude of gifts of the Spirit in this community already. The Spirit of the risen Lord has brought you together to be the church and it is up to you to discern why the Spirit has brought you together and how you might use the gifts you have.
You might not have the gifts that others have, but if God wanted us all to be the same that’s how God would have created us. God has blessed you to be a community of unique individuals who use the different talents you have for the work of the kingdom in a way that no one else can. The story of Pentecost is not how the disciples got by without their leader and friend; the story of Pentecost is how through the Spirit Jesus continues to be with us to this very day. May the Spirit guide you forward into this new chapter of the Scugog Island United Church’s life.
Hymn VU 375 “Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness”
Holy God of wind and fire, your Spirit renews the face of the earth and warms the hearts of your people. We give you thanks for your gifts of Pentecostal power: tongues that utter prophetic words of truth and justice; flames that kindle new visions of compassion and peace; fresh breezes the blow down the walls which separate us from you and one another. And so it is that we join with every voice and tongue on earth and in the heavens to give you praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
As we gather at this table, we remember that on the night before he died, Jesus had supper with his friends. He took a loaf of bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat/ This is my body, given for you. Each time you do this, remember me.” Then, he took a cup, and after giving thanks, passed it to his friends, saying: “Drink. This cup is the promise of God, made in my blood. Each time you drink from this cup, remember 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.
We pray you, God of Love, send your Holy Spirit upon us and what we do here, that we, and these gifts, touched by your Spirit, may be signs of life and love to each other, and to all 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.
The gifts of God for the people of God. Come, for all things are now ready.
The body of Christ broken for you.
The blood of Christ shed for you.
Prayer After Communion
Life-giving God, may we, who share Christ’s body, live his risen life; we, who drink his cup, bring new life to others; we, whom the Spirit lights, give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so that we and all your children shall be free, and all creation will live to praise your name.
Life-giving Spirit, bring to the bones of these gifts the flesh of our actions, and the breath of our caring, that our church and our service to others may come to life in your name. Amen.
Hymn: VU 374 “Come and Find the Quiet Center”
A Prayer for Marking the End of the Covenanted Ministry
Ned: I thank you, friends and members of Scugog Island United Church for the love and support you have shown me while I ministered among and with you. Let us not forget that the ministry in this place is Christ’s ministry entrusted to us as part of his body. Our ministry together always belongs to Jesus and is always on going. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.
All: We receive your thankfulness,
offer our forgiveness,
and accept that you are now leaving us
to minister elsewhere.
We are grateful for your time among us.
We ask your forgiveness for our mistakes.
Your influence on our faith and faithfulness
will not leave us with your departure.
We release you from your duties of ministry here
in our midst, no longer turning to you
as we have when you were in ministry among us.
Ned: I accept your thanksgiving and your forgiveness of me.
I forgive you. May our time together and our parting now be pleasing and acceptable to God.
Further, I now release you from turning to me and depending on me. I encourage your continuing ministry here and will pray for you.
Blessing and Sending Forth
Ned: May you go forth, surrounded by love,
led by the promises of the living God,
the presence of Jesus Christ,
and the guidance of the Spirit.
All: May God bless you and keep you;
May the light of God’s presence shine upon you.
May God’s grace go with you in your departing,
and give you peace. Amen.
Go Now in Peace