Worship from Home October 11th 2020
Scugog Island United Church October 4th, 2020
Welcome, Announcements, and Opening Prayer:
First Hymn: Would you Bless Our Homes and Families
Pastoral Prayer and Lord's Prayer:
Third Hymn: In the Bulb there is a Flower
Offering and Blessing:
Closing Song: Go Now in Peace
Text of Today's Serivce:
Scugog Island United Church
October 11th, 2020
Hello. On behalf of Scugog Island United Church I would like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for taking time to worship with us.
We will be holding a Bible Study focused on Spiritual Gifts. The Apostle Paul wrote to early Christian communities and spoke about the gifts that the Holy Spirit had given to them. Throughout the scriptures we hear about God’s call to different people and the many ways that God has equipped them to do their work. For this bible study we be reading about the different gifts of the spirit and then spending time talking about where we see these gifts in others. We’ll be making use of technology to connect us, but the meeting time hasn’t been set yet to give anyone interested time to connect with me. We’ll try to find a time that accommodates everyone.
I’m excited to share that on 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.
o So we are asking for donations of gift cards to local businesses, cash or cheques made out to Operation Scugog Foodbank
o Toiletries and non perishable food items are also needed at the foodbank
o 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.
For thanksgiving I thought I would use some table graces for our prayers. This one is by Charles Wesley:
Blessings to God, for ever blest,
to God the Master of the feast,
who hath for us a table spread,
and with his daily bounties fed;
may he with all his gifts impart
the crown of all – a thankful heart.
Isaiah 25: 1-9
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
One of funerals I did early in my ministry stands out in my mind. It was my first year as a student minister. It was a small service. Just family, the funeral director, the musician and me. The family struggled to get through the eulogies. The family members that spoke did well, but it was clear how difficult it was for them. Each song that was played brought new tears to everyone’s eyes. After the service was complete several family members lingered for a long time at the cemetery to say another goodbye. It was a tough one. The family invited me to join them for a lunch at a nearby restaurant. I wanted to support them. I was also quite hungry. I gladly accepted their invitation. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but at that restaurant as we sat at the table and enjoyed the food there was a complete transformation. Suddenly there was smiles and laughter. Beautiful memories, stories and jokes were shared. It was amazing to me how the same people who had such a difficult time speaking just a few hours before now had no trouble speaking about their loved one when they were gathered around the table.
There is something special about sitting to enjoy a meal. It can unite people. It can transform situations. We mark special occasions with meals. Weddings. Funerals. Special times of the year like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. And it is always a great time of connection when people gather at the church for meals.
Throughout the scriptures the table is used as a metaphor for God’s action:
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long."
We might think of Jesus who shared many meals with others and in his parables compared the kingdom of God to a banquet.
Or maybe the image of the Last supper and the times you have celebrated communion in the church comes to mind.
The story of The Road to Emmaus and how Jesus was made known to his followers in the breaking of bread
In the book of Revelation 19: 9 it says,
"And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”"
And we see that image of a table prepared with a great feast in today’s passage from Isaiah.
The passage from Isaiah offers hope to a people who were not free to gather, or celebrate and move about as they wanted to. These were a people taken from their homes into exile. They were not throwing any feasts or grand banquets. They didn’t have the money to buy well aged wines. For the most part they were just trying to survive.
But something happens in this passage. A transformation for these desperate people. It starts when God is named and praised. “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” This statement of faith leads to gratitude for what God had done for them in the past. Then it moves to thanksgiving for more resent events. They remember how God has been “a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heart.” They notice that their enemies have been diminishing and no longer hold the same power over them. The scripture proclaims, “the song of the ruthless was stilled.” It seems like this passage is a song of praise celebrating victory over some enemy. We hear that God has made a fortified city a ruin so that cities of ruthless nations would think twice before harming God’s people. But just when this passage sounds like it is a victory song over other nations the passage looks to the future to imagine where God might be leading them and it is revealed that God’s action is for all people.
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines.”
The vision they see of God’s future is one of comfort and hope for all people. The abundance of God’s love is on display in the form of a table is set with enough food to feed everyone. God’s action has been to bring everyone to the same table. There is no kiddie table. No one is raised up to a higher level above others. Kings and servants, rich and poor, the powerful and meek, friend, stranger, enemy, and family all eat at the same table as equals. We can look at this table and see in it an act of reconciliation. Because different peoples and whose nations whose relationships had been broken are now being restored. We also see that God’s act of salvation is for everyone. “And [God] will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”
This year thanksgiving looks very different than we would have liked. We are all missing the connection with others. What a joy it will be when we can break bread together and enjoy good foods and good company like we normally would, but in the meantime we can take comfort knowing that whatever situation we might be in, we know where God is ultimately directing us. It is to that open table where all are welcomed.
The people of Isaiah’s day started in a place of despair, but this passage tracks their transformation. First they named God as their God. They begin to give thanks for God’s past action. Which leads to thanksgiving for what God is doing in the present. As they look to the future they realize that just as God is at work in their lives, God is at work in the lives of all people, even those they might consider enemies.
May our thanksgiving this day help us to see God at work in ourselves and in others, in our past, in our present, and in our future. May our outlook be shaped by gratitude. For we live in God’s world. And we are not alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.
We begin our prayer by lifting up those on our prayer list and all the people we are holding in our hearts:
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
O God, presider over the affairs of persons and nations, move us to thanksgiving,
not because of what we have,
but because of whose we are;
not because of present blessing,
but because of your continuing providence;
not because of the moment,
but because of the eternity of salvation.
Let our thanksgiving be expressed
not only in feasting,
but in sharing;
not only in passive enjoyment,
but in active service;
not only in annual observance,
but in daily attitude.
And because your concern for wholesome living embraces every person upon the earth, we pray for ourselves and for others. 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.
A Celtic grace:
Thank you, God, for
blue skies above,
green grass below,
good food beside,
fine food in front,
wherever it is found.
Photo "Thanksgiving Dinner" Media from Wix.
Pastoral Prayer and 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.