Good morning church. This is God’s day so it’s a good day and let us rejoice. I have to admit that it seems more that a little odd to be making this video from my office when we should be preparing for worship. But these are strange times that we live in and all of us have had to adjust.
When we thought that these changes were only going to last a couple of weeks, we weren’t all that concerned about creating any presentations to share online but it has become increasingly clear that this situation is going to last much longer than two weeks. It may be four. It may be six. It may be more. We just don’t know and so we need to connect with each other. Just because the church isn’t worshipping together on Sunday morning, that does not mean that we have cancelled church or temporarily closed. That’s because the church isn’t a building. It is the people of God and we continue to be the church whether we are able to gather together or not.
I’d like to do to two things this morning. First, I want to bring you up to date on were we are with some of our projects and ministries and then I’d like to share a short message with you that I hope you will find helpful.
So, first, there is some news to share. Most of our projects are on hold right now. We had hoped to complete the Prayer Garden this spring and have a dedication at the end of May. That looks increasingly unlikely with the necessity of social distancing. Besides that, the quarry that was to produce the dedication rock is shut down. So that’s on hold as are any thoughts about building the outdoor stage.
But while many things have been postponed there is some exciting news. We have found our Family Minister. I can’t say too much right now because the official announcement will go out next week but we are very excited about who God brought to us and gifts and experience that she brings. We look forward to introducing her to our church and community in the very near future. So more on that is to come but I just wanted to give you a heads up on this good news.+
You also might be wondering what I’ve been doing. After all, I can’t do most of the things that I usually do. No worship. No Bible study. No home, hospital or nursing home visits. So what have I been doing?
Actually, I’ve been helping out the medical clinic where Ruth, my wife, works. That clinic is essential to people and cannot close. So I’m helping to screen patients before they come into the building. I do that during the day and, in the evenings, I’m usually in my office in the church catching up on the various administrative things that continue to come in every day via email. And I’m also making phone calls, lots of phone calls. I tried to connect with about half of the congregation this past week and I’m hoping to connect with the rest of you over the next week or so. So, there are some updates for you
BE THE CHURCH
We continue to be the church. And that has happened almost organically. I’ve been delighted over the past week as I have talking with people on the phone at how many of you have told me about how you are reaching out to others. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I was just talking with so and so on the phone because I know that they’re on their own and probably feeling isolated.” Some of you who have dropped off much needed supplies to friends and family who are now doing their fourteen day isolation because they were out of the country. Good on you church. Keep on being the church.
And then, of course, there are those who have been adversely affected by this pandemic. Some of you are working from home. But I’ve also spoken with some people who have lost their jobs or have been temporarily laid off. Fortunately, the governments seem to be responding with good measures but these will take time and I encourage you to look out for each other as much as you can. As we read in James 2:14, 18: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?… Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” Truer words were never spoken for these times than those.
I have to admit that working at the medical clinic this week has been an interesting experience – an eye opening experience really – because I’m spending most of the day outside screening people even before they can enter the building. The clinic is in Windsor at the corner of Ottawa and Moy. It’s an interesting part of town
Lots of people walk around and lots of them also want to talk with me because I’m new to the neighbourhood and somewhat of a novelty. I’ve come to know some of people by name. There’s Chuck who just lives a block down Moy Street. He comes by at least twice a day for a chat. Real nice man. And then there is Ishmael. He’s a laid off factory worker doing the same sort of thing as me only for the TD bank that shares the building with the clinic. And then there’s Clifford. Clifford is a German Shepherd Lab cross. His owner is a young woman – I don’t know her name – who wears roller blades and holds onto Clifford’s leash as he pulls her along the sidewalk to wherever they are going. I keep dog treats in my coat pocket and Clifford gets one when they come by. The same thing is true for two other dogs – little ones – who have come to expect their daily treats. I think they’re going to miss me when I no longer have to guard the door.
This all gives me a chance to talk with people about how they are coping. What I have discovered is that most people are taking this whole thing very seriously and that’s good because they need to. There are certainly exceptions but most people are keeping their social distancing – the recommended six feet or two meters. Many of them are wearing masks, either home made ones or store bought.
But I’ve notice, too, a change in the activity in the neighbourhood during the week. On Monday, even though most of the businesses on Ottawa St. were shut down, it seemed like business as usual in terms of street traffic. There were a lot of people walking around. But as we entered each new day, I noticed that there were fewer and fewer people on the streets. By Friday, there was hardly anyone walking around who didn’t absolutely need to be outside. I didn’t even see Clifford on Friday.
Suffice it to say that most people are being very reasonable about things. But then there are those – significant number – who are very fearful. They are afraid to go out. They are afraid of getting sick. They are afraid for their families or afraid of their neighbours and it shows it the way they behave.
My heart goes out to those people and I wish I could give them all a hug and tell them that everything is going to be okay – but of course I can’t do that. But what I can offer them – and what I can offer you – is word of hope from the Bible. In John 16:33 Jesus said this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
What a great message for us today. By those words Jesus didn’t mean that he was going to look after everything and that we don’t have to keep safe and do the right things especially now. But those words are a reminder that there is someone who has the full picture of this whole thing and continues to hold us in the palm of his hand. We live in trying times. But Jesus tells us to not fear, to take heart, for he has overcome the world.
behave and be safe. Let’s do what we can to stay connected with both our church
and our community. And trust in God in all things.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God of the heavens, you shine above us with your radiant love. God of the air, you move among us and draw us together as one in Christ. God of the earth, you live below us and hold us firmly on the rock solid ground of your foundations. Hear our prayers and the prayers or all those who seek you.
We give you thanks that, ever in the midst of anxiety and the unknown, you are with us. Calm our fears and help us to reach out to each other with words of hope and offers of care.
We lift up in prayer those who have been sick this week. Many people suffer from colds and coughs. Grant them your healing and you wholeness. We ask your special blessing upon, Jacqui and Mary, Mark and Gary. God, hear our prayers.
would ask, O God of Love, that as we journey through Lent toward Easter, you
would open our eyes to the reality of your gift of life for us. It is in Jesus
that we are able to come to you as forgiven and whole people. Thank you for
this greatest of all gifts given to us in grace and compassion. God, hear our
WORSHIP RESOURCE PAGE
March 29, 2020 / Lent 5
Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; John 11:1-45; Romans 8:6-11
CALL TO WORSHIP
Out of the depths we call to you;
Hear our prayer, O God.
We wait for you; in your word we find hope.
We worship you, O God of Life; for your love is everlasting.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Out of the depths we call to you, O God. We acknowledge our need of your hand in our lives. You greatness fills the heavens. Your strength upholds the earth. In your breath, there is life and hope. In your guidance there is wisdom. Speak to us on our Lenten journey. Remind us of your love and sacrifice which took Jesus to the cross of Calvary to give his life as a ransom and sacrifice for all people. We wait in hope for his coming again to bring peace and justice to the world. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Out of the depths, we call to you, O God. Our sins weigh us down and our deception brings us sorrow. The load which we carry may seem too heavy for us. The injustices of the world are our mistake. The conflicts are our doing. As much as we try, we cannot rise to your level of holiness apart from the gift of your Spirit. Forgive us, God of Mercy, when we stray from your ways. Lead us back with compassion that we may taste the Kingdom as it unfolds in our lives. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The weight of sin may burden us. The shackles of evil may slow us down. But Jesus lifts us above our wrongdoing and breaks the chains that bind us. When we confess our sins, we are freed to be the people who God has created us to be in Jesus Christ.
DEDICATION OF OFFERING
We offer you our gifts, Great God of Creation, for your work in your Holy Kingdom. May no temptation deter us from using them to your glory, no cause become more important than the calling of Jesus Christ. Grant us your blessing. Amen.
May God the Father show us love and compassion. May Jesus the Son enter our hearts in a new way, everyday. May the Spirit move amongst us, giving light to our way.