Wolfe Island United Church
Welcome to Worship
May 31, 2020
Artwork created by Maggie Crothers
Student Minister: Elizabeth Amirault M. Div.
Musician: Robert Douglas
Wolfe Island United Church
May 31, 2020
Welcome faithful ones. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers every day. Today is the birthday of the church. Happy Birthday! Again, all though we are separated, this season of the church year reminds us of our union with one another and with God. It is always wonderful to be God’s people, wherever we are, united by our love for one another. Welcome to our time of worship.
Lighting of the Christ Candle – If you have a candle available, please light it before you begin to read the service. Take a moment to centre yourself and feel the presence of all of us with you today. This Sunday of Pentecost recognize the light of your candle as the uniting flame that brings the scattered together to understand the love of God for all people.
I wish the peace of Christ to be with all of you
And also with you.
Hymn: “This is God’s Wondrous World” VU 296
Call to Worship:
On rushing winds that sweep away all barriers, with tongues of fire that set our hearts aflame, with speech that unites the babel of our tongues, with love that overleaps the boundaries of race and nation, with power from above making our weakness strong,
We come led by the Spirit to worship you.
Prayer of Approach:
Come Holy Spirit, come.
Come into the places where we worship today. Come into each heart, each prayer, each song, each life here today so that we may live and love with purpose, courage, and enthusiasm serving our world. Amen.
Hymn: “She Comes Sailing on the Wind” VU 380
First Testament: Numbers 11:24–30
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
So, Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
First Testament: Psalm 104:24–34, 35b
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!
Epistle: Acts 2:1–21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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 nation 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, “Men of Judea 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.’
Hymn: “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” VU 382
Sermon: “Related in Spirit”
Let us pray. Living God, eternal Spirit, let your bright intoxicating energy which fired those first disciples fall on us to turn the world again. Amen.
My pandemic project has been to renew my Ancestry.ca account and to invite my family members to take a look at the work I have done and for them to fill in information to update the family tree. Paul and I tracked my maternal grandfather’s British World War 1 service records, and I was able to fill out the Amirault/Amero side of my family up to 1786. My ancestors have been in the Digby – Yarmouth, Nova Scotia area for a long time. Census records denote that my dad’s family have been farmers, tradesmen, and loggers through the generations.
My maternal grandmother’s family have lived in the Hamilton, Scotland environs since before 1680, the latest date I have been able to find. Generations of colliers, including my grandfather and uncle. It struck me that few of my relatives moved far from their home until my parent’s time. Imagine how connected to their community they were? They were likely not very diverse, but they may have had influenced by those who had begun travelling the globe, my feeble attempt at a claim to fame, by Dr. David Livingston, who came from Blantyre, Lanarkshire Scotland, a short distance across the River Clyde from my ancestors in Ferniegair.
It has been an interesting look at my family history, and it has helped me to connect and ground myself by the roots of an ever-evolving family tree. I have a renewed sense of excitement for my next visit to Nova Scotia and I am hoping I can trace the footsteps of my family and revisit the graveyard where the generations lay buried. But no matter how connected I feel, the reality of my adoption removes me from a direct connection. It does, however, remind me that I was invited into this family as an infant. I guess you could say that I am related through spirit. I don’t share their blood, but my spirit has and does live in Canada’s ocean playground.
Today marks a major festival in the church, that of Pentecost. It reflects the range of activities that we associate with the Spirit of God. The Spirit is active in creation, in forming community among culturally diverse people, and in the multi-faceted task of building a community that involves everyone with their different gifts and abilities.
Today’s Epistle reading from Acts account of the sending of the Spirit is many-layered. It connects with the Hebrew scriptures and links the events of Pentecost with the Hebrew “Feast of Weeks,” 50 days after the Passover that commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses. It is now celebrated by the Christian church for the giving of the Spirit. Pentecost also came to be linked with the completion of harvest, a time of picking the fruit from the trees; now the Christian church celebrates the gifts and fruit of the Spirit.
There is a connection with the start of the gospel of Luke and remember that the book of Acts is attributed to the writer of the book of Luke. We can find many connections throughout the book, like where we read of the overshadowing of Mary by the power of the Spirit and bringing about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:35). Here in Acts, the Spirit is instrumental in the birth of the church, the continuing Body of Christ on Earth. As well as connecting with the Law and Hebrew practice, Peter quotes from Joel, validating this Pentecost experience by relating it to an event foretold by the prophet, when God’s activity in the world would be vindicated (Joel 2:28–32a).
Pentecost can also be seen as a reversal of the Tower of Babel where people were divided by language differences and their inability to understand each other (Genesis 11:1–9). But how do we interpret the details of this account of the Spirit’s coming? For any new experience, words elude us. How can we describe something that is new and unexpected, yet totally real and life-changing?
For those who were present, the coming of the Spirit was as powerful and overwhelming as a strong wind, as purifying and all-encompassing as tongues of fire. The effects were far-reaching, bringing understanding and astonishment, reaching across barriers of culture, gender, and social standing. A Passover crowd in Jerusalem had earlier united against Jesus (Luke 23:13–25), Peter had denied him (Luke 22:54–62), and the disciples had fled (Luke 23:49). Now a crowd listens attentively as, supported by the 11 apostles, Peter stands up to explain and witness to the power of God. Commentators continue to discuss what might have happened at Pentecost: did people really hear their own language in a society where the languages of Aramaic or Greek were understood by nearly everyone? Was it the phenomena of glossolalia, or as we may know it, speaking in tongues? Or was it that people came together and understood the good news in a vital and Spirit-inspired way? Well, commentators and theologians have been unable to agree on the meaning and purpose of the event, so maybe we should leave it to them.
As the event of Pentecost is linked through Hebrew scriptures, we hear in Numbers that there is no room for exclusivist attitudes or jealousy, but a call to embrace an all-inclusive outlook towards others whose circumstances may be different, but whose call to be Spirit-filled is universal. We also heart in our Psalm selection a reflection on the dependence of creation on the Spirit, also connected with Sophia-Wisdom, who brings life and renewal. So, life must be lived with acceptance and thanksgiving for the magnitude of diverse yet connected creation.
Let’s journey back to right after Easter Sunday and the disciples who are in the locked room. As Jesus come to them, he blows on them, The short lections from John’s gospel (John 20:19–23) remind us that John reflects from a different pneumatology or understanding of the Spirit. For the author of the gospel of John, the Spirit was given after Jesus was risen and glorified, but still to that group of fearful disciples hiding behind closed doors. The giving of the Spirit was associated with the forgiveness of sins and the commission to go and continue the work of God; here there is also a link with peace and joy that make up some of the fruits of the Spirit.
As you can see, a strong theme is emerging through these readings and that is the uniting and life-giving work of the Spirit of God in the diversity and variety of creation. What does this say to us about living with difference?
I am always amazed at how the lectionary readings seem to pick up on current events. I am thinking this week of another horrible example of a Black man being brutally treated which led to his death. Was it his skin colour that caused this horrible outcome? Many would say yes. What does that say about the inclusive message we have heard today? How can we, as Christian’s, accept the message of the diverse and wonder-filled work of God in light of the continued exclusion of God’s children for things over which they have no control? We find these things disturbing because we see those with whom we are related in spirit suffering.
Our humanness gets in the way of the work of God. That is the only explanation I can give. The fruit of the spirit known as, love, joy, peace, truth, life, hope, and wisdom, can work within us if we let the Spirit of God in to do that work. My friends, we have work to do. We must work to create a world where none are excluded. This experience of COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to acknowledge how in our differences we can see strength. It has caused us to turn upside down our cultural definition of those we consider “essential” in our lives. We have come to find that those most vulnerable in our society are being let down by the system that was created to protect them, because it is expensive to care for them and that affects the bottom line. Our humanness gets in the way of the work of God.
Just as I am related to the Amirault and King families through my adoption, so am I related to family of God, through Jesus who I proclaim to be my Saviour and my guide along the path of life. Not by my blood, but by the Spirit of God. So are you, faithful ones, related to all of Creation by the Spirit of God.
Let’s be reminded of the Spirit’s activity in creation and the work of bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth, where all can share equally in the creation and love, joy, and peace, being first three fruit of the Spirit. Until then, be open to the Spirit.
Happy Birthday, today, and many more!
May those who have ears, hear the word of God. Amen.
Sharing God’s Blessings: VU 543
Please consider providing your offering by dropping a cheque in the mailbox of Doreen Joslin, leaving a cheque at Fargo’s store with “Wolfe Island United Church are of Doreen Joslin” on the envelope or sending an e-transfer to email@example.com. Thank you.
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
Sung Prayer: “Lord, Listen to Your Children” VU 400
The Prayers of The People and the Lord’s Prayer:
The following prayer is based on the seven Gifts of the Spirit. Please take a moment of silence after each response that is highlighted below and pray any special prayer you have in that time.
Let us pray.
Spirit of Joy – come like the wind, swirling among us, fill us with enthusiasm and energize us to do your work and your will. Remind us to look for the joy of everyday life in the world you created.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Joy.
Spirit of Truth – come as the flame of Christ’s light among us, illumine our hearts, our minds, our lives. Remind us that our truth may be different from others, and that we must keep ourselves open to how your work in our lives.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Truth.
Spirit of Life – come as the breath of life, pouring energy and power into our fry bones, rekindling all who are weary, that they may have life and know God. Remind us that you are all that lives, and we are one with this life through you.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Life.
Spirit of Hope – come from the four, O breath, O restless searcher; breathe upon your people, that creation may be renewed with hope. Remind us that it is through our faith in you that we may find hope for a bright future.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Hope.
Spirit of Love – come as our comforter and consoler, that all who are broken, or wounded may be healed, that all who grieve may be consoled by the power of your love and grace. Remind us that your love knows no boundaries and is available to us always.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Love.
Spirit of Wisdom – come as the light of understanding, that diversity in all its forms may be respected and may be understood as gifts to cherish. Remind us that the whole children of God deserve to experience the goodness of your creation.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Wisdom.
Spirit of Peace – come as the winds of truth, that our hearts may be kindled by the passion for justice and peace. Remind us that peace cannot be manifest if we do not enact just laws for all.
Thank you, God, for the Spirit of Peace.
As we celebrate the birthday of the church on this day of Pentecost, may we – followers of Jesus in this time and place – use these gifts and the gifts of the Spirit, to work for and serve the church and each other.
Let us now remember our connection to you, God, through the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, saying…Our Father…
Hymn: “I Feel the Winds of God” VU 625
Commissioning & Benediction.
We are the church!
We follow where the Spirit leads, daring to be risk takers wherever we go, filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit.
May the blessing of God, Creator and giver of life, the Son, life of God incarnate, and the Holy Spirit, bearer and power of new life among all people be with us now and forever.
* Choral Blessing: (inside front cover of Voices United)
Scripture Selections Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2020
Sermon: “God in Three Parts”
If you need to contact Elizabeth Amirault you can call her cell phone at (343) 363-0754. Her email address is Minister.WIUC@cogeco.ca.
Due to concerns around the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the instruction from Public Health Officials with reference to “flattening the curve”, Wolfe Island United Church has chosen to cancel worship services indefinitely. We will keep you updated as to when we will be meeting again in person.
Worship will be posted on the Wolfe Island United Church website after 9:30 each Sunday morning.
Join us at: https://wiuc.ca/