Worship Service for Sunday, February 7, 2021
I am happy to offer a Lenten study based on Jesus, Friend of My Soul, which offers short readings for each day of Lent. Sr. Joyce Rupp is a popular author, and speaker, whose work has nurtured the spiritual lives of thousands.
Her writing conveys ideas about faith that are easy for ordinary people to understand and work toward in our own lives.
The book is available through Kobo, Indigo/Chapters, as well as Amazon/Kindle, for about $15.00
We will meet for online discussion each Wednesday, starting with Ash Wednesday, February 17.
If we get enough folks registered, we will meet at from 10-11:30 am, and/or 7-8:30 pm.
The dates are: Feb 17, 24, Mar 3,10,17,24,31
Let me know if a day time or evening session is best for you.
Our team is working on our next set of Sunday School videos, based on some Dr. Seuss stories: Horton Hears a Who; Yertle the Turtle, and possibly The Lorax.
Lari Sabbe and her crew are hard at work getting the videos made.
We also want to make up “book bags” that will contain the craft materials your kids would need, to take part.
Like last time, we will post the lessons on YouTube, so that your kids can watch them at a time that works for you. We know that some kids watched them again and again, which is great!
Please let me know if you want your kids to be part of this new set of lessons. We need to know how many bags to deliver, and the first lesson will be posted for February 14.
Our worship video today takes the place of our Annual Meeting. We will hear reports about the work of our congregation, all the ways we live out or mission. We will also celebrate a virtual communion, so you may want to stop the video for a moment, and get your own bread and juice ready for later.
Here is the link to the worship video:
The mission of Harrow United Church is to offer nurturing experiences of God’s live through worship, learning and sharing. In thankful response, we will reach out as disciples and stewards of Jesus Christ in God’s world.
Sharing Virtual Communion
I have been reflecting on the idea of virtual communion. On one level, it’s the best we can do right now. On another level, it goes against our United Church sense of community- it is something we are meant to do together. That is generally true, but ministers have also been known to offer private communion, in hospital rooms and in homes, when there is a pastoral necessity.
Watching communion on a worship video may be a bit like watching a cooking show, and trying to make the dish yourself at home. That can be very rewarding, but it can also be a little underwhelming. For most of us, what we cook at home does not look as good as what the chefs on the Food Channel can do, with their team of assistants.
It seems to me that watching other people cook, and other people eat is always something less than doing it ourselves, and in the case of what is meant to be a shared experience, less than being part of a community.
It may be that virtual communion will ultimately be less than satisfying- and leave us hungry for the real thing. I’d like to think that hunger is a sign that we still long for community, and for God’s presence with us.
Jesus spent a lot of his time at tables, at gatherings at which sharing food was a focus.
Last week I made a quick reference to his desert retreat. One of the temptations he faced was a moment when the tempter challenged him to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded that humans do not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God. I don’t know whether Jesus could actually have turned stones into bread- the idea that he could may have been part of the tempters’s lie. The fact remains that he didn’t do it.
Actually, in all the stories when Jesus is involved in sharing food, he never actually makes it appear magically. The meal always begins with sharing. People are asked to make their contribution. In the stories where crowds are fed, before food was blessed, divided, and shared, it was first gathered. In the very last feeding story, when the Risen Christ appears to some of the disciples who were fishing, they are asked to contribute some of what they caught, to the food that was already cooking on the fire.
I think that’s important to notice, that Jesus’ follwers are not just passive receivers of gifts, they are active contributors- they, and what they can offer, are absolutely necessary.
So maybe it’s okay, as we do this virtual communion thing, that you have to provide your own bread, and your own cup of juice. I think its also okay that you have to hold up your own hands, and say your own prayers, and ask God, in your own way, for a blessing.
Let us give thanks to God! Let us pray!
We thank you for sending us Jesus,
Who came as a baby, and grew to show
Your love with all kinds of people.
We thank you that his light shines in our world.
Jesus came to live with us,
to bring hope in times of fear,
to bring peace in times of danger,
to bring joy in times of darkness,
to bring love – your love – in every time.
Though poor, Jesus was rich in you,
and taught us to share our wealth.
Though often without a home,
Jesus always lived in you, and taught us
to welcome everyone to every table.
Though living in a time when many people
felt lost and confused,
Jesus showed us all the way to your realm.
Even when people did not understand
Jesus words of life and light,
Jesus loved us.
When people in ignorance put Jesus to death
on the cross, you in your love
broke open the tomb
and gave new life to everyone.
On the night before he died,
Jesus had supper with friends,
and took bread, saying,
“Blessed are you, Holy God,
Maker of all,
for you bring forth bread from the earth.”
Jesus broke the bread and gave it to all saying,
“This is my body which I give for you.”
Jesus took the cup, saying,
“Blessed are you, Holy God, Maker of all,
for you give us wine to gladden our hearts.”
Jesus gave it to them saying,
“This is my blood, which I give for you.
Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,
do it in memory of me.”
With this bread and this cup,
we remember the life, and death, and resurrection of Jesus,
and we offer ourselves to you in him.
Send your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts,
and make them holy, so that we, your people,
being fed by holy things,
may share hope and peace, joy and love with the world;
May the light of the world live in and through us.
We pray together, with the words of 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,
for ever and ever. Amen
Commissioning and Blessing:
Jesus responded to God’s call, to live a life of witness and service.
We are invited to follow his path.
We are called to offer love, and hope, caring and light.
We know there are many who need God’s love.
God blesses us, and desires we be a blessing to others.
Jesus shows us the Way.
The Spirit guides us and inspires us to move forward.
We are blessed, and we bless. Amen