Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“There is a reason Mary is everywhere. I’ve seen her image all over the world, in cafés in Istanbul, on students’ backpacks in Scotland, in a market stall in Jakarta, but I don’t think her image is everywhere because she is a reminder to be obedient, and I don’t think it has to do with social revolution. Images of Mary remind us of God’s favor. Mary is what it looks like to believe that we already are who God says we are.”

~Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People


     This is a day to choose words carefully, for even the most affluent congregations have members with extremely limited resources and even the most impoverished communities have members of relative comfort and affluence. Mary’s words call all people to account, to look honestly at the world’s injustices and bring hope in the name of Jesus.

     Yet even as followers of Jesus are called to work to end hunger and poverty, the reality of sin in the world means this will never be fully realized on this side of the resurrection. Still, we serve, not to fix all the problems of the world but because each time a hungry person is fed, clothed, or sheltered, Jesus is cared for. We serve others so that we can serve Jesus. We serve our whole life long because it is good, right, and faithful, even if success eludes us.

CALL TO WORSHIP ~Beth Merryll Neel

When I think of God’s presence in the world, I am grateful:
Grateful for the presence of hope; grateful for the gift of life.
And when I think of God’s presence in my life, I am humbled:
Humbled by the gift of grace; humbled by the invitation to begin again.
And when I think of God’s presence in this community, I am glad:
Glad to be surrounded by holy people worshipping our Holy God.
Thank you all; thank you, God.

CHILDREN’S SONG    Every Move I Make


Almighty God, in choosing Mary to be the mother of your Son, you made known your gracious regard for the poor, the lowly, and the despised. Grant us grace to receive your word in humility, and so to be made one with your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.



I went to Ottawa, Ontario for my holiday.  I grew up in Ottawa.  My dad and sisters live there, along with all of my relatives.  The first time I drove back to Ottawa from Saskatchewan, many years ago, I followed a map.  A paper map.  Sometimes, I would have to pull off the road to find other ways to get to Ottawa because of construction.  Not any more!

Now, I have a cell phone with a GPS!  Not only that, I don’t have to pull off the road due to construction because my GPS TALKS to me!!  She tells me ahead of time that I will have to make a detour, and how to get there!  I haven’t looked at a paper map in years!

Growing up, I learned and memorized the 10 Commandments.  These were rules from God to follow so that my relationship with God, family and friends were healthy and my life would have joy in it.  The commandments were given to the Israelite people out of love.  The rules respected God and others.  Following them made relationships stronger.

Imagine playing your favourite game with people who refused to follow the rules?!  Very quickly I think you would feel angry because everyone was doing their own thing and fighting among themselves.

When we choose not to follow God’s rules for living, life can get confusing, sometimes scary, and often lonely.

I do not worry when I have my GPS and follow the instructions.  I know that it will get me to where I need to go by the safest and fastest route.

I do not worry when I follow God’s rules.  Out of love for me, God lets me know, through the Holy Spirit, when I am walking off God’s path so that I can change my attitude, how I live, even the people with whom I spend my time, so that I once again get right with God.  When I do that, I know peace and joy.

Let us pray:  Dear God, help us to listen to your voice as you speak to us through those we love.  Help us to stay on your path of love so that we know joy and peace in our lives.  Amen.




George Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after a police officer based in Minneapolis pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. The footage of the brutal murder went viral, igniting racial tensions and deeply held grief.

In response, Michael Blair, Executive Minister for Church in Mission in the General Council Office, wrote from his heart about his experience as a black man on his personal Facebook page. This is an excerpt:

I need you to know that George Floyd’s cry, “I can’t breathe,” is a daily reality for many of us black folks. It is important, yes, to be angry at the physical violence of a knee to the neck. And know that your silence at the systemic and unending racism that black folks experience daily is in itself an act of the knee to the neck…

I can’t breathe, when you leave it to me to name the racism that is in your face yet you keep silent…

When you take the system as a given, and don’t question assumptions or the way things are, and are silent…you leave me gasping and fighting for air…

I can’t breathe when you want me to represent and you do not ask why there are so few people like me around…and you keep silent…

At the end of his post, Blair challenges readers: “If you are serious about taking steps to name anti-black racism and racial violence (not just the physical) then your starting point is a commitment to stay silent no more…”

Speaking up hinges on awareness.

In 2000, after the United Church formally adopted its anti-racism policy statement, That All May Be One, the denomination began to offer racial justice training; since 2006 the training has been mandatory for all United Church ministry personnel.

For over a decade, your gifts to Mission & Service have supported these racial justice workshops and training sessions. But the racial justice training now hosted by United In Learning isn’t just for ministry personnel.

“The training is open to anyone. It helps us work through racial differences and have conversation about racial justice. It’s $45 per session, $40 if you pay online,” says Emo Yango, one of the United Church’s program coordinators. Yango says that the death of George Floyd has provoked him to speak up. “I’m not of African descent but I feel I need to amplify the voice of African descent peoples. The pain that I hear is so much about the silence of their allies,” says Yango.

In the days following Floyd’s death, Yango helped draft a joint ecumenical letter signed by leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, and The United Church of Canada in response to anti-Black racism. The letter acknowledges the reality of institutional racism, including within the church, and calls for its eradication. Practically, it advises readers to prayerfully consider joining public expressions of solidarity, and to read books and other materials on Black history and the reality of White privilege, among other things.

Moderator Richard Bott encourages United Church members to delve into the topic of racism both individually and through church structures. “If we don’t look at this issue and realize we are part of the problem, we can’t be part of the solution. This is the work of White members of the church, and the time has come to commit ourselves to this work, for everyone’s sake,” says Bott.

     Your gifts through Mission & Service raise awareness by supporting crucial racial justice training. Consider taking the training and make a gift to transform lives through Mission & Service.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION ~ Sheryl McLeod, Admaston P.C., Admaston, ON

living God, as we listen to these old, old texts, inspired by you, may we listen with inquisitive minds and compassionate hearts.  May your words of wisdom speak to us in unexpected ways and unexpected places in our lives in today’s world.  May your wisdom move, illuminate, deepen, inspire and motivate us to act in your world, of which we are a part.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 61:7-11

The prophet proclaims a hopeful message: God loves justice and will make an everlasting covenant with Israel and her descendants. In response, the prophet sings a joyful song, like Mary many generations later, about God’s mercy and salvation.

7Because  shame  was double,
and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot,
therefore they shall possess a double portion;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

  • Psalm 34:1-9

Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord. (Ps. 34:3)

1I will bless the Lord at all times; the praise of God shall ever be in my mouth.
2I will glory in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.
3Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; let us exalt God’s name together.
4I sought the Lord, who answered me and delivered me from all my terrors. R
5Look upon the Lord and be radiant, and let not your faces be ashamed.
6I called in my affliction, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear the Lord and delivers them.
8Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who take refuge in God!
9Fear the Lord, you saints of the Lord, for those who fear the Lord lack nothing. R

Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

In the promise of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ embodies God’s mother-father heart, in love claiming people as adopted children.

4When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

  • Gospel: Luke 1:46-55

Mary’s song, the Magnificat, serves as a thematic anthem for God’s work in the world and therefore for the ministry of her son, Jesus. In Mary’s praise we hear of a saving God who remembers the humble, scatters the proud, lifts up the lowly, and fulfills all things.

46Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”


She is probably the most renowned woman in the world.  People look to her for guidance, mercy, compassion and strength.  She has been depicted in virtually every art form.  She is a focus for prayer, an intercessor for the sinner.   She gave birth to a boy who became, arguably for some, the most famous human being in history.  Yet, do we really know who she was, where she came from, what kind of life she had?  Does any of this even matter?

It is impossible to write an historical sketch of Mary’s life, so inadequate are the data in the gospels and so unreliable are the traditions of the church.  Such data we have are contained in stories whose purpose is not historical narration but theological affirmation:  they declare that God has come to humanity in a child born of a virgin, that this child may redeem them from sin and death and lead them into God’s blessed realm.  Mary is depicted as the instrument of God’s gracious purpose, the “handmaid of the Lord.”

We know very little concerning Mary’s background.  She was a devout Jew, apparently living in Nazareth at the time when she conceived.  Since the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are Joseph’s, we do not know whether she belonged to the house and lineage of King David, although the angel’s words in Luke would at least imply that the early church believed that she was so descended.  A second-century writing identifies her parents as Anna and Joachim.

How early belief in the Virgin Birth arose in the church is impossible to say.  Peter, in the sermons of Acts, and Paul in his letters never mention it, if they knew of it.  In fact, in Galatians 4:4 Paul writes that Jesus was born of a “woman”, when he might easily have used the more particular word “virgin”.  Mark and John do not refer to the Virgin Birth.  Outside Matthew and Luke, it appears nowhere in the New Testament.  Welcome to another mystery of God.

I recall having a discussion with someone who had difficulty regarding Mary’s easy acceptance and compliance to the news that she would bear God’s child.  “How could God do something so horrible to a young girl–put her through such humiliation and disgrace!  You can’t tell me she had any other choice!  She probably accepted it because she knew that if God had decided upon this, she didn’t have the option of saying no!”  I replied that my understanding of God was that God is all-knowing, that God knows what choices I will make before I even make them.  Therefore, would it not make sense that God would know Mary’s heart and know that she had the strength to say yes and that her faith would sustain her?  Funny, I don’t recall the end of the conversation.


Another discussion I had regarding Mary was with a person who belonged to the Roman Catholic church.  Naively, I assumed that the term Virgin Birth referred to the fact that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.  This conversation took place a years ago, so I may have some of the facts mixed up.  This person told me that I was incorrect in my assumption.  I was informed that Mary never consummated her relationship with Joseph and that she had no other children.  Now I was really confused.  It wasn’t until I did some research that things started to fall into place.  Here is what I discovered:

The Roman Catholic Church has made much of Mary’s response to the angelic announcement, as recorded in Luke, “How can this be, since I have no husband?”  They point out that the present tense expresses an ongoing action and therefore means that Mary was then under a vow of perpetual virginity.  The marriage of Mary and Joseph was therefore never consummated and the so-called brothers and sisters of Jesus were really his cousins.  In response to the objection that the ideal of perpetual virginity was unknown in Judaism, the Roman Catholic Church points to the Essenes, a group of Jews who shunned marriage.  In addition, they cite Paul’s advocacy of celibacy.

Now, if this is the case, then why did Mary become betrothed to Joseph at all, if she already had vowed perpetual virginity?  Lacking solid evidence to the contrary, one can only assume that the betrothal was the customary first stage in a relationship meant to be consummated.  In Luke, Jesus is called Mary’s “first-born son”.  In Matthew it states that Joseph “took his wife, but did not know her until she had borne a son.”  These passages would hardly have been written in this way by persons who believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity.

The more I read the scriptures, the more I become aware of how few references to Mary there are.  Furthermore, she is trying to be a mother to a child that is wiser and more adult than his young years could possibly be.  Jesus seems to be aware of who he is and his calling by the age of twelve.  It would appear that Mary probably did not fully realize this until the resurrection.  As well, if one looks closely at the texts, it becomes evident that Jesus seemed to distance himself from his blood relations.  “Anyone who does the will of God is my mother, sister and brother.”

There is no veneration of Mary in the New Testament.  In fact, Jesus expressly warned against it in Luke.  Mary takes her place in the New Testament as one of the servants of God through whom God’s redemptive purposes towards humanity were fulfilled.

The Mary of the New Testament represents all that was finest in Jewish womanhood and motherhood.  Her deep spiritual sensitivity; her purity, faith, and obedience to the divine will; her scrupulous attention to the training of her son in the religious traditions of his people; her loyalty to him, as evidenced by her presence at the Cross, even when she did not fully understand him–all mark her as a person of remarkable qualities.  Who she really was, what really happened, ultimately, does not matter.  What matters are the stories that speak to these qualities and to the realization that God honored her as a person of strength, integrity and faith.  It is fitting, then, that we too honor her, not just as the mother of our Lord, but as a model for servanthood.

May the Spirit of Christ fill us so that we too may live our lives in obedience to the will of God.  Amen.

SONG OF THE DAY   MV 134  There Was A Child In Galilee


Rooted in Christ and sustained by the Spirit, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all of creation.

You have revealed your love for people overlooked and cast aside, sending your son to be born among the humble and poor. Send your church to proclaim good news to those who feel abandoned, despised, or rejected and make our congregations places of genuine welcome and hospitality.

God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

All creation longs for healing and restoration. Thwart the destruction of plant and animal habitats and amplify the voices of those who advocate for wise stewardship of the earth’s resources.

God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We remember your promise to our ancestors and look to you for justice. Expose pride, greed, and exploitation wherever it is found and raise up humble leaders who act on behalf of those who are poor, oppressed, or in other need.

God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Your Spirit lives in our hearts and makes us heirs of salvation. Rescue us from shame and dishonor. Lift up the lowly, fill the hungry with good things, and have mercy on those who turn to you for help. We pray for our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your healing touch:  for the grieving families and friends of Andrea Grozli and Roxanne Fillion; for the renewed health of Mike Froese; for the healing of Sandy Belisle, Brooke Alexiuk, Dwayne, Tracy Skoglund, Matthew Grossman;  for strength of spirit for Lorraine & Walter Pokrant.

God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give thanks for the saints who have found refuge in you, O God, especially Mary, mother of Jesus. As you have delivered them from all their afflictions, so save us from all our earthly troubles until that day when we sing your praise together in heaven.

God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We lift these and all our prayers to you, O God, confident in the promise of your saving love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.




SENDING SONG  MV 120  Canticle Of The Turning


Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

God, the creator, ☩ Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, bless you and keep you in eternal love.




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