Transfiguration – Do Not Lose Heart                   Feb 14, 2021

Welcome & Announcements

  • Continuing our celebration of milestones in this congregation: Kathy McPhail also went back to work after retiring. She has been hired by Shared Health as Provincial PCH Lead on a contract that has just been renewed. She is a liaison between the Executive Directors/CEO’s of PCHs and their regions to assist their state of readiness for infection control. She also helped the PCH CEO’s/ED’s prepare for vaccininating residents in PCHs. Kathy told me that she was most impressed with the PCHs in the north. They put their elders first, were in control, and staff were willing to sleep in the PCHs if required. Kathy also said that PCHs in Winnipeg all planned ahead getting their Pandemic Plans in place throughout the summer, with some even building separately-ventilated COVID units. Some management even purchased extra mattresses for themselves to sleep on as they foresaw staffing shortages due to staff sickness. Management teams have worked very long hours not being able to see their families for days Although our PCHs have suffered undeniable heartache with this virus, Kathy said that the level of preparedness was remarkable. Kathy put in some very long hours, especially at the beginning of her contract. She isn’t on the front line, but she is still working very hard. A huge thanks to Kathy for her commitment to helping us manage this pandemic and giving us additional insight into what has happened with the PCHs in Manitoba.
  • Annual meeting Feb. 28—worship at 10:30-11:00 on YouTube, followed by AGM at 11:15 by Zoom invitation—please let office know if you would like to join so that we can email you an invitation. We’ll also have the link in the congregational email.
  • Trustee: vote on receiving Larry Strachan’s resignation and appointing Anne Love as a new Trustee
  • Ash Wednesday service this Wed. See Congregational email for Zoom link.

Candle Lighting

As we light the Christ Candle, we will take its light for the peace candle. We pray that the light of the risen Christ will shine forth peace through us, the body of Christ.

Jayme Giesbrecht and Jonathan Alexiuk guest musicians—giving Dorcas Windsor, our pianist and organist a break. Today, as we celebrate love, we will be having more music and fewer words.

Candle Lighting Music (piano and voice)

“Bathe Me in Your Light” (VU 82)                   John Oldham and Ron Klusmeier

Treaty Acknowledgemen (picture of Star blanket)

We acknowledge with gratitude and respect the Indigenous peoples of this land. We share the responsibilities and privileges of this land as we live, work and worship on Treaty 1 territory and receive water from Shoal Lake on Treaty 3 territory. We are all Treaty People.

Prayer of Approach

Open our eyes, Gracious God, to the beauty of human love.

Open our ears, to the words of kindness.

Open our mouths, that we may offer words that build up, not tear down.

Open our hearts, to everyone we meet.

Open our hearts to you.

 Hymn VU 371 “Open My Eyes”

Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for thee

Ready, my god, thy will to see.

Open my eyes, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear

Voices of truth thou sendest clear;

And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,

Everything false will disappear.

Silently now I wait for thee

Ready, my god, thy will to see.

Open my ears, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear

Gladly the warm truth everywhere;

Open my heart and let me prepare

Love with thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for thee

Ready, my god, thy will to see.

Open my heart, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

 Prayer of Confession

God of love, we confess that which closes our hearts.

We confess intolerance and dismissal of those

whose words and actions are contrary to our values.

Teach us how to keep our hearts open to everyone.

Teach us how to be ambassadors of love in the midst of hate,

Bearers of light in the midst of darkness,

Doers of good in the midst of harm.

Words of Assurance

Drink from the ever flowing fountain of God’s love, that you may not lose heart.

Passing the Peace   

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Let us now offer Christ’s peace to one another at home and around the world.

Passing of the Peace Music (piano and voice)

“Though I May Speak” (VU 372)                     arr. Hal Hopson

Scripture Reading

Introduction

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians was written amidst his pain and concern about dissent that existed in the Corinth Church. His description of difficulties reflected some of the troubles Christians met with their community, but it also described troubles that existed within the Christian community. He pleads with them to set their sight on Jesus, so that Christ’s light might shine in the darkness.

II Corinthians 4:6-10b, 16a

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies…16 So we do not lose heart.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Thanks be to God.

Transfiguration – Do Not Lose Heart                                          Feb 14, 2021

II Corinthians 4:6-10, 16   

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, our God.

Valentine’s Day places our hearts front and central. It is a day to celebrate love in its many forms. It is a day to say that, no matter how challenging these times, no matter how physically distanced our loved ones are, love will bring us through. Love shines through the despair and the loneliness, through the pain and the loss. Love is the light that reflects rainbows in the storm clouds.  Love helps us not lose heart.

Love is more than an emotion. It connects the head with the heart. It is watered and fed by will and discipline. It is powerful force that refuses to cast anyone outside its circle. Lama Tsomo, a Buddhist teacher, says, “As soon as I eliminate one person from my heart I make my own heart smaller, so never throw anyone out of your heart.” This is the type of love that Christ taught. It is a persistent, tenacious effort to understand with compassion those with whom you disagree.

When I visited Israel and Palestine with a United Church delegation some years ago, we met Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian Christian, whose family has owned a farm near Bethlehem since 1916. For more than two decades, they have faced threats and harassment. Their access road was bulldozed shut. One night 250 of their olive trees were cut down. In 2012, they were told that they could not build, nor have access to water or electricity. Dauod and his family have every reason to hate and close their hearts to their harassers. But they refuse. Dauod explains that they are committed to following the Jesus Way that overcomes hatred with love, evil with good, darkness with light. They have a sign on the edge of their property written in Hebrew, Arabic, English and German that reads, “We refuse to be enemies.” (If possible, can we show this photo of the stone at this place in the sermon?)

Instead, they established what they call the Tent of Nations, where people come from all over the world to visit and have educational workshops and worship in caves on their land. They have joined head with heart and pray daily to ask God to transform their pain into love. Instead of seeing themselves as victims, they see themselves as ambassadors for peace.

Even though it takes 10-15 years for an olive tree to begin to produce fruit, Daoud and his family have replanted their trees as a sign of hope and faith in the future. With the words from II Corinthians 4, they have been afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. They have not lost heart.

There is an old Jewish commentary on the story in Exodus of the Hebrew slaves escaping from their captives. When the sea closed in and the Egyptian soldiers drowned, God was not happy that the Hebrews were rejoicing in their death. Why? The Jewish commentary explains that they, too, were God’s children.

There is a verse in the Muslim Qur’an which reads, “O humankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you might come to know each other.” When we are determined to know each other as humans, all deserving of respect, it is hard to demonize people into the enemy.

Jewish, Muslim and Christian scriptures over the centuries have been used to promote hatred, to justify wars, to build walls. But this is an abusive distortion of the heart of each of these faiths, for they tell us that we are all children of God and that God’s heart is big enough for everyone. The word “religion” is connected to the Latin ligare, which means to bind. The overall purpose of the world’s religions is to bind us together as one people united amidst our diversity. Spirituality gives us the tools of prayer and discipline to live out this unifying vision of our religions. The closer we draw to the heart of each religion, the closer we draw to each other.

As we negotiate the difficulties and challenges of life, may we keep our hearts open to all who cross our path. In so doing, we will be keeping our hearts open to God, for God is love. In turn, God will pour into us an inexhaustive love to keep us from losing heart. Amen.

Hymn MV 89 “Love is the Touch”

Love is the touch of intangible joy;

Love is the force that no fear can destroy;

Love is the goodness we gladly applaud;

God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the lilt in a lingering voice;

Love is the hope that can make us rejoice;

Love is the cure for the frightened and flawed;

God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the light in the tunnel of pain;

Love is the will to be whole once again;

Love is the trust of a friend on the road;

God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the Maker and Spirit and Son;

Love is the kingdom their will has begun;

Love is the path which the saints all have trod;

God is where love is, for love is of God.

 Offering

We are grateful for your support of the ministry of Westworth United Church with donations through our website, e-transfers or cheques mailed to the office.

Offertory Prayer

For the many ways in which we can be vessels of your love for others, God we give thanks. Use our gifts to bring kindness and compassion to others. Amen.

Prayers of the People

  • Kathy McPhail
  • Kathleen Delgetty—has gone through cancer treatment and is now declared free of cancer; dealing with painful neuropathy from the treatment, but more hopeful than ever.
  • Orest Fedak, Judy Finlayson in hospital
  • Sharon Fawkes & family on passing Jeff Fawkes
  • Bary & Leslie Finch on passing of Bary’s aunt Anita Savage

We now continue with the words of Jesus, who taught us to pray to God,

our Mother and 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.

 Closing Solo MV 142 “Oh A Song Must Rise”       Paul B. Svenson

 Benediction

May the Christ who walks with wounded feet,
walk with us on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands,
stretch out our hands to serve.
May the Christ who loves with wounded heart,
open our hearts to love.

Postlude (piano and voice)

“This Little Light of Mine”

 Rolling Credits

Due to the Red Alert for Winnipeg, the building for Westworth United Church is closed to the public. Our online worship begins with live-streaming at 10:45 am on Sunday mornings and is available at any time for viewing from our website. Zoom Sunday School is at 10:15 am on Sundays. Please contact the church office to receive a Zoom invitation for your children.

If you would like to receive weekly updates about what is happening in our congregation, please make sure that our office has your email address. Check the congregational email tab.

Permission to podcast the music in this service has been obtained from One License—License # A-732847 and also from composer Paul B. Svenson at www.dadsong.com

Thank you to those who have helped to put this service together:

Service leaders:

Jayme Giesbrecht, soloist

Jonathan Alexiuk, pianist

Debbie McLeod, music researcher

Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd, minister

Peter Sim and Kevin Sim production & camera