You Are Worthy
"You are Worthy" by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman
Lighting The Christ Candle
Hymn VU 343 “I Love to Tell the Story”
Call to Worship
One: Come, all who are thirsty.
All: Come, all who are seeking.
One: Come, all who are waiting.
All: Come, all who labor.
One: Come, all who need rest.
All: Come, all who dream dreams.
One: Come— whether you’re young or old,
confident or curious, lonely or hopeful.
All: This is God’s house. All are welcome here.
Let us worship holy God.
Sharing the Joys, Concerns and Announcements
Thank you to Robert Bennett: Thank you for leadership and ministry with us this morning.
Good Friday walk: Planned to go forward on April 15th.
Farewell Service: Rev. Ned’s final service with Scugog Island United Church will be on June 5th.
Annual Meeting on April 24th
Jean Law, Elsie Nicholson, Terry Petroff, John and Diane Findlay, Nancy and Don Scarrow, Debbie McIntyre, John Black, Lynne and Ian McLeod, Nellie Van Dyke, Tim Pelyk, Bob Currie, Derrek Linton, Sharen Bobbie, Ed and Jane Williams, Bill Statton, Cheryl Helm, Tracy Harper, and Joanne.
Copyright: Prayers by Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org. Bulletin Cover art by Hannah Garrity.
Artist Statement for Cover “You are Worthy”
In this image, I wanted the fig tree to look unremarkable, surrounded by the hands of the Gardener reaching down to lovingly massage the soil. The sleeves contain patterning of simplified visual references to everything a plant needs to not only survive, but to thrive. Starting close to the roots and moving upward, the patterns include water, air, sunlight, nutrients, and space. The emphasis in this image is on what is happening below the surface, in the depths of the dirt. The roots stretch toward the hands of the Gardener as the specks of dirt seem to also image the stars of the vast universe. Within us, despite what we produce, despite what can be seen at the surface, we contain multitudes. We bear the image of God, and our mere existence makes us worthy of Sabbath and the loving arms of the Gardener reaching out to provide us with everything we need.
A Time for Children and the Young at Heart
Hymn VU 664 “What a Friend we have in Jesus”
Call to Confession
There is something so healing, so life-giving, about telling our stories.
In the prayer of confession, that is what we get to do.
We let down our guard. Any pretense of perfection is removed.
We let the pressure to perform slip away and we sit here, face to face with God, sharing honestly who we long to be.
Friends, there is healing here.
There is life to be gained here.
So join me in this moment of honesty. Join me in the prayer of confession.
Prayer of Confession
we treat our self-worth like something that can be bought at a store; but you know this even better than we do. Instead of trusting that we are made good, instead of trusting that we are loved exactly as we are, we stockpile our value in earthly things— in trophies and awards, in likes and follows, in wealth and power. Forgive us for creating our own measuring stick. Heal our open wounds and tell our hearts that we won’t be forgotten if we slow down. We won’t be forgotten if we rest. Gratefully we pray, amen.
Words of Forgiveness
Friends, take a deep breath. Release the tension in your jaw. There is good news here. For even when we stumble, even when we take the easy way out, even when we forget our own self-worth, even when we lose our way—we belong to God. Say it with me—
We are loved. We are claimed. We are under God’s wing. We are worthy of grace. We belong to God. Amen
Listening to God's Word
Prayer for Illumination
God of fig trees and foxes,
of today and tomorrow,
we would like to ask that you scoop us up.
Pick us up like a great gust of wind.
Startle us awake like a first love.
Light a fire in us like tomorrow depends on today.
Do all of this to get our attention and then turn us toward you.
We are a scattered people, God.
The world is moving faster than we can keep up.
So we pray—scoop us up.
Catch our eye.
Open our ears.
Capture our attention.
We are here. We long to be close to you.
Scripture Reading: Luke 13: 1-9
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Anthem “Be Not Afraid”
Sermon “You are Worthy”
Message for Lent 3: “ You Are Worthy “ (Scripture: Luke 13:1-9)
Sunday March 20th 2022 Robert Bennett
At 11:33 a.m. today Spring officially arrives. It was at this time of the
year, I recall a Teacher at the Senior Public School I attended in the mid 1970s humorously quoting whoever originally said this: “ Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the Boidees (birdies) is ? “ Haha.
Seriously…in my opinion…The Season of Spring is a very special time of the calendar year because ‘ Nature comes back to life! ‘ New growth happens. I have mentioned that a ‘ green thumb ‘ is a shared trait in my family of origin: my late grandmother, my late mother, and my sister. …and this applies to my late father. His one true hobby in life was working in his vegetable garden. In getting ready for another growing season…..first, someone would come and rototill (sp?) the soil so it would be ready for planting. When it was time, Dad would carefully plant all of the seeds
in designated rows…and, then, Nature would do its work!
In addition to the garden, Dad had backyard fruit trees to tend to, to trim/prune and spray: 3 cherry trees and 1 peach and 1 pear.
And, with time, growth… happened!
A British-made TV series from almost 20 years ago features gardening and growth-- and always with a murder mystery to solve. One of my favourite episodes of Rosemary & Thyme has “Rosemary Boxer” offer to tend to a not-so-healthy plant: a plant very meaningful to its owner as it was her late father’s last Christmas present to her. And so “Rosemary” uses her skills and expertise to do what is necessary to get the plant in good shape, and be able to hopefully thrive once again! It is not part of the story, but perhaps other persons had told the plant owner to simply discard the thing: no point in keeping it around-- even if it did have sentimental value.
Concerning a barren fig tree in the midst of their vineyard, the owner of the vineyard said to his vine-dresser, "Cut it down; why should it use up ground?" And the vine-dresser answered: "Give it another year, sir. Let me put fertilizer around it and if it bears fruit, well and good; but, if not, you can cut it down."
Reading from some of the background material in the Resource being utilized by Rev Ned “Full to the Brim”:
“ The first thing I want to know is why a fig tree is in the midst of a vineyard. The tree would not be of primary focus in a field cultivating grapes, apparently planted only so that no inch of the ground is squandered. Many of us experience the world as a fig tree in the midst of grape vines. We are placed in fields not meant for us and yet expected to thrive. People discount and doubt us, threatening to cut us down if we don’t produce in the ways that have been defined on our behalf. We are afterthoughts demanded to bear fruit or be destroyed. The story of the fig tree reminds us that the world’s expectations do not need to be ours. The gardener puts their faith in that which they have no control. Digging a bigger hole and filling it with manure, they tend to the tree with everything it needs to grow into its purpose. Perhaps this means bearing figs. Or maybe it provides shade for the laborers during the harvest, an opportunity for the gardener to tend to the fields in a new way. …..Those of us living a fig tree existence are invited to be nourished and tended to so that, in time, we grow into our purpose. ….. “
Of the barren fig tree the owner of the vineyard said to his vine-dresser, "Cut it down; why should it use up ground?" And the vine-dresser answered: "Give it another year, sir. Let me put fertilizer around it and if it bears fruit, well and good; but, if not, you can cut it down."
“ Give it another year, sir “. Another year.
Quoting a portion of a Sermon for The Second Sunday in Lent by United Church minister Richard Fairchild:
“ There's still time. Wouldn't this be a good time and a good place to ask ourselves whether we are bearing the fruit that Christ means for us to bear - in our jobs, in our homes, in our communities, in serving him? We're not asked to be something we are not.
All Christ is asking of us is that we be the best that we can be.
All that he is asking is that we, with his help, bear the fruit that we
are meant to bear. He understands that we have barren years. And he pleas before the Father for us - he pleas for one more year.
May each of us use that time in the way that he intends for us to use it, to use it in growing in the way we should go and bearing the fruit we are meant to bear. “
Reading a Poem titled “ What I Forgot “:
Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree. / No fruit here, just soaking up the sun/ growing roots, turning green/ stretching out my branches until I can hug the horizon. / Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree, because she doesn’t produce / and she’s not exhausted / and she probably gets eight hours of sleep at night. / And her branches, unlike my shoulders, are not heavy with work—pulled toward the ground, threatening to break. / And her trunk, unlike my spine, is not fighting to stand tall while holding it all together. Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree because she knows what I forgotmany years ago. / You are still worthy even if you don’t produce.
In the church we are well into the season named Lent; and, we are about an hour away from the Official Start of Spring, but I have a Christmas-themed story to tie in to the theme of…worthiness.
If anyone has never watched that 1965-made animated Special for TV A Charlie Brown Christmas, please forgive me for being a Spoiler: searching through that Lot for a Christmas Tree for the School Christmas Pageant, what good ol Charlie Brown notices, what stands out for him, is a tiny ‘ real ‘ tree, which is more a sapling than a full-grown tree-- a rather sad looking gift of Nature, and probably reflects the soul of Charlie Brown, who feels that this little tree needs him…and so that is the tree he selects.
Then, after being ridiculed by the rest of ‘ The Peanuts Gang ‘ and all alone with his little tree, Charlie Brown’s innocent action of hanging a ball ornament causes, what he believes, irreparable harm. After he has momentarily walked away feeling probably the worst he has ever felt in his life, most of ‘ The Peanuts Gang ‘ enter the scene… and faithful Linus says, “ I never thought it was such a bad little tree. Maybe it just needs love? “ He applies his trusty blanket to the tree; and, after that, the other kids do something ‘ magical ‘ and transformative to Charlie Brown’s little tree. That little tree, which the others had dismissed as ‘pathetic‘ was, in Charlie Brown’s eyes, worthy of attention and care.
Worthy of attention and care.
Given the nature of news reporting in the present time, our attention is constantly focussing on the worsening situation in Ukraine…and, naturally, the stories of people of all ages either still living there, or, who have made their way to a neighbouring nation, impact us…touch us deeply…and
certainly makes us want to care. Perhaps you or someone you know has made a contribution through a Relief organization-- or would like to do so?
Its difficult to celebrate Spring with so much senseless destruction and death happening right now overseas, and yet Spring is a time for hope, for new growth. Those people of Ukraine, who are now in neighbouring nations, hope to one day return to their native land and rebuild Ukraine and their lives-- a future time for new growth.
I don’t know if it is possible, but perhaps each of us might consider making a certain new growth happen when it is time in the growing season by purchasing and then planting seeds for SUNFLOWERS: the native flower of Ukraine.
As we continue to journey through Lent, as we keep in mind the Parable of the Fig Tree, let us strive to be fruitful, to be thankful that we are worthy of God’s love, and lets continue to pray that the seeds of Peace may be planted in Creation for not only the people of Ukraine but for all peoples living in the midst of warfare.
May they believe these words from the Creed of The United Church of Canada: In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us, we are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Response to God’s Word
Affirmation of Faith (Unison)
We believe that the God of the cosmos is at work here. We believe that God is fertilizing the soil. We believe that God is planting roots. We believe that God is growing fruit that is yet to be tasted. But until that promised day when the fig tree stands tall and swords are beaten into plowshares, we believe: when our work does not bear fruit, God still loves us. When our soil grows dry and cracked, God still longs for us. When all seems hopeless here on earth, God holds hope for us. The God of the cosmos is at work here. We believe. Help our unbelief. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Lord’s Prayer (Unison)
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.
Hymn VU 337 “Blessed Assurance”
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.
Closing Hymn “Go Now in Peace”