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.


To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

~Thomas Aquinas


     When clay becomes a pot, it must first have a center. As a potter spins, pushes, and pulls the clay into its final form, it can easily lose its center and become misshapen. Having lost its center, it fails to fully be what it is being created to be—a pot, a pitcher, a plate, a thing of beauty, a vessel for others.

     Faith and religious practice have lost their center in today’s readings. Quoting Isaiah, Jesus calls into question “This people” that “honors me with their lips” but whose “hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). Some in the religious community have begun focusing on surface matters (the washing of hands, what one eats, the traditions of the elders) and have forgotten the core. What really matters is how one’s faith is expressed in mercy, in words and actions that build up rather than tear down the neighbor.

     At the heart of the Christian assembly is Jesus—in word, in song, in prayer, in the neighbor, in water, bread, and wine. Jesus, who embodies forgiveness and mercy, is the heart. Again and again, life becomes misshapen. Again and again, the potter reshapes the clay. The splash of a watery cross, the taste of bread and wine: these things center life in Christ. God’s mercy washes over us. God’s mercy is implanted in us. God creates life anew; deformed hearts are reformed for works of mercy and love.


We are here because God’s Spirit calls us to worship.
We are here to offer our praise and thanksgiving for God’s presence in our lives.
We are here to acknowledge God’s love all around us.
We are here to claim the promise that wherever we are, God is with us.
God is among us as we praise, pray, love and serve
God is here! Let us worship God!

CHILDREN’S SONG  One Tin Soldier


God of desert days and wilderness nights, we rest in the comfort of your presence and trust in the sustaining power of your love.  We come to you today seeking the help and hope that comes only from you.  We long to be fed and nourished by your Word.  We want to be filled with your Spirit of peace and joy.  We ask only that you will provide us with all that we need to live abundantly and to serve with abandon.  We pray through Christ our Lord. 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 am going to hold up an item and I want you to guess what it is.  I will give you a hint:  you have seen a lot of them, everywhere you go, this past year!  Yep, you guessed it – hand sanitizer!!  We are told to used hand sanitizer, a lot, to kill any Covid germs, and any other germs that are on our hands.  Why do we do this?  We do this because we care about ourselves and our neighbours.  We want to kill the germs on our hands so that we do not make ourselves, and our neighbours, sick.  Jesus says that our neighbour is anyone who isn’t us, so that’s EVERYBODY!

What about our hearts?  Psalm 51 states, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”  What does THAT mean?  We can’t open ourselves up and smear hand sanitizer on our hearts!  Yuck!  So what does it mean to have clean hearts?  It means that we talk to Jesus every day and ask Jesus to give us the strength to be kind, generous, patient and loving people.  I realize I say this a lot.  I am certain your parents say these words to you a lot as well.  I am sensing an “eye roll”.  Think about this, though.  If we were always kind, generous, patient and loving, would we need reminders?  Just sayin’.

I have two sisters.  Even as adults it can easily happen that we get angry at each other.  When I visit with my sisters, I need to remind myself that Jesus wants me to love them.  I don’t need to get upset over every little thing.  I can focus on the happy parts and overlook the grumpy parts of my visit.  It isn’t always easy.  It can be done!  This is what it means to have a clean heart.  Make a sincere effort!

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, you had family and friends, you were challenged by the Pharisees, scribes and Temple priests.  Sometimes you got frustrated, yet you kept loving these people no matter what.  Help us to do the same.  Amen.


535 New Ministries Embrace the Spirit

There is no doubt that the church is in the midst of a radical transition. What does the future hold?

Honestly, no one knows for certain. But one thing is sure: The best way to fail is to try nothing, and the only way to succeed is to experiment by doing something new.

That’s where you come in. Your gifts through Mission & Service support innovation through our church’s Embracing the Spirit grants. Embracing the Spirit is a grant program supported by Mission & Service. Any church called by God to pursue a great ministry idea can apply to Embracing the Spirit for funding support.

In the bottom right corner of the interactive Embracing the Spirit online map, the number 535 is highlighted in bold red. The number, which refers to new ministry projects awarded grants, is steadily rising―535 is the tip of the iceberg. Since 2016, Embracing the Spirit has awarded over $3,600,000 to help communities of faith develop new ministries.

Want to be inspired? Simply click one of the map pins and read the description. You will be amazed at the new ways congregations across the United Church are joining God’s mission. Take it a step further and connect with one that piques your interest. Learn about ways your community of faith can grow its vision and practice of ministry.

The last Embracing the Spirit granting round of 2021 is open now, and applications are due on October 15. Even if you don’t have a new ministry idea you want to pursue right now, by simply making a Mission & Service gift you are helping our United Church network with and support others striving to live out God’s mission in new ways.

Thank you for giving good ideas a chance to fly.


O God of lights, from whose word of truth we have been born as first fruits of your creatures:  make us quick to listen and slow to speak, that the word implanted in us may take root to nourish all our living, and that we may be blessed in our doing and fruitful in action. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

The Israelites believed the law was a divine gift that provided guidelines for living out the covenant. Moses commands the people to obey the law and to neither add to nor subtract from it. The Israelites are also to teach the law to their children and their children’s children.

     1So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.

6You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” 7For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to God? 8And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

9But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.

Psalm 15

Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? (Ps. 15:1)

1Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?  Who may abide upon your holy hill?
2Those who lead a blameless life and do what is right, who speak the truth from their heart;
3they do not slander with the tongue, they do no evil to their friends;
they do not cast discredit upon a neighbor.
4In their sight the wicked are rejected, but they honor those who fear the Lord.
They have sworn upon their health and do not take back their word.
5They do not give their money in hope of gain, nor do they take bribes against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be overthrown. R

Second Reading: James 1:17-27

The letter of James was intended to provide first-century Christians with instruction in godly behavior. Here Christians are encouraged to listen carefully and to act on what they hear, especially by caring for those least able to care for themselves.

17Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18In fulfillment of God’s own purpose the LORD gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of God’s creatures.

19You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

22But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

26If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Mark’s gospel depicts Jesus as challenging traditional ways in which religious people determine what is pure or impure. For Jesus, the observance of religious practices cannot become a substitute for godly words or deeds that spring from a faithful heart.

1Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around , 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

7in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

14Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”


The practice of washing one’s hands before eating doesn’t strike us as odd or overly conscientious today. Your parents taught you to do it, your teachers told you to do it, nearly every public bathroom has a sign reminding at least the employees to do it. It’s a matter of good hygiene to get rid of the germs.  And that was before Covid!

The first thing we need to understand is that this text has nothing whatsoever to do with germs and good hygiene. It is about religious hygiene. It is a symbolic, religious practice. The Law of Moses devoted a great deal of attention to the matter of ritual purity. Lots of things – normal bodily fluids, touching a dead body, mixing milk and meat – could make one ritually unclean and therefore barred from temple worship.  To be barred from temple worship had serious religious and social consequences.

A distinction must be made, however, that in matters of public worship it was only in the Temple, not the synagogue, that considerations of cleanness applied.  No one would refrain from attending or participating in synagogue worship by reason of having become ritually unclean.

It is important to note that the state of uncleanness was not the same as sinfulness. One could be ritually unclean just in the normal course of life.  The required action for being unclean was not repentance but ritual cleansing. This confrontation of Jesus with the Pharisees from Jerusalem is not really about the whole issue of ritual purity, it’s about how the Pharisees used these laws to build a system of ritual piety.

Mark points out that this was the “tradition of the elders,” and was not actually specified in the Law of Moses. The Mosaic law had nothing to say about ordinary people washing their hands before eating bread. The law did state that priests needed to wash before performing sacrifices at the altar. The laws of ritual purity had to do with teaching the people about the holiness of God.

For the scribes and Pharisees this was not enough. There was a whole long tradition among Jewish Rabbis that expanded the washing commandment to include everyone.  If it’s good for priests, why wouldn’t it be good for ordinary people. Isn’t every piece of bread a holy offering to God? Isn’t it a good thing to bring priestly practice into everyday life? This is why they ask, “Why don’t your disciples wash their hands before eating their bread?”

Jesus’ quotation from Isaiah in reply goes right the heart of the matter. People’s words, even their actions, may appear to honor God, but their hearts may be focused totally on themselves. “It’s all about me!”  That is the essence of hypocrisy. And, Isaiah adds, appropriate to Jesus’ situation, the laws Pharisees promote in order to demonstrate their holiness aren’t even from God. Jesus concludes, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

The word corban means the declaration that something is dedicated as an offering to God. Through some creative pairing of this law with others, the scribes — the experts in Mosaic law who made rulings on religious practice — had figured out a way to get around other obligations of God’s law, such as honoring your parents.

So, if a Jewish person was afraid of losing too much wealth by having to care for their aging parents, they could declare some assets as Corban, dedicated to God, even though they had no intention of offering the assets to God.

In today’s world, a person might declare that their entire life savings is dedicated to some mission endeavor in order to avoid having to pay for a parent’s nursing care, then afterward use it for themselves. Jesus says that the scribes and Pharisees are actually invalidating the law rather than honoring it. And, he adds, “you do many things like that.”

Jesus is attacking forms of outward piety and good works that are actually self-serving and have nothing to do with honoring God. Generous public gifts may also serve as timely and money-saving tax write-offs. Politicians who make a point of their love for Jesus may also find that it helps them in the polls.

Jesus now speaks to the crowd that has gathered. “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” It’s important to note that even though Jesus says that nothing outside can defile, he is talking about food. There are lots of things from “outside” us that can defile us.

In the biblical worldview, the heart is the control center of the mind and will. From the heart comes that which honors God, or turns away from God, not outward things like food and drink. Jesus is making a strong distinction between the religion of the heart and a purely outward religion of the legal code. It is not that Jesus was rejecting the law, rather, he was noting its limits. The law cannot change the motivation of the heart.  One cannot legislate morality.

What, exactly, is Jesus driving at, and how can we know the state of our heart – clean or unclean.  I take my cue from the life and ministry of Jesus.

First and foremost, love must be our motivation, a healthy love that allows the other person to be who they are.  Use words that are kind.  Yes, we are to hold one another accountable, and, we can do that with words that do not damage the other.  Look to God for direction.  If you are not sure what God is saying, talk to several people – I am hoping that I would be one of them.  Trust your guts.  If you have a feeling that a certain action will not be helpful, pray some more and look for another way to approach the situation.  Remember that everyone has a story.  It is often helpful to listen to that story to better understand the person and the best way to reach someone.  That is the way of love.

It is always helpful to follow the disciplines of one’s faith to promote a deeper relationship with God.  Read, pray, give thanks, meditate, fast, worship…stay connected to the source of your life and faith. Above all, trust that God hears you and will guide you.

We are sent out to serve.  Amen.

SONG OF THE DAY  WOV 712  Listen, God Is Calling    


Made children and heirs of God’s promise, we pray for the church, the world, and all in need.

We pray for the church, that it is a safe haven for all who seek your presence. Fill it with pastors, deacons, and leaders who echo your expansive and generous welcome.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for people who are homeless, for refugees and for those who are struggling to meet their basic needs and care for their families.  We pray for people whose homes are not safe places to shelter, either because they are poorly equipped or because of domestic abuse or violence.  We pray for the people of Haiti, struggling after a major earthquake.  Help nations to send aid and supplies quickly to ease their suffering.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer

We pray for Indigenous peoples and others whose circumstances have made this pandemic particularly difficult.  We remember the Indigenous ministries of our churches across Canada and pray for their leaders and members, especially in light of the severe impact of the pandemic on many communities.  We pray that the healing and reconciliation work of our churches will help build good relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for those among us and beyond our community who have lost income, whose businesses are struggling, whose meagre savings are in jeopardy.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are sick and for the loved ones of those who have tragically died.  We pray for people in long-term care facilities who are so isolated and at greater risk of illness and death. We pray for our family, friends and community members who are in need of your healing touch; Sandy Belisle, Margaret, Gail, Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Alice, Tracy Skoglund, Dwayne, Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Source of all love, we give you thanks for the wonder of this divine emotion.  We celebrate with Allison Dea and Conor Dea the love that united them in marriage on August 21st.  Holy One, guide Conor and Allison as they begin their marriage journey.  Bless the friendship that undergirds their love.  May they know much joy in the years to come.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Give us faith, O God, not only to endure through difficult times, but to respond to your call to work in your vineyard even now, sharing from our resources of time, talent, and treasure as we participate in Christ’s mission in the world. May your Spirit give us everything we need so that together we can be people of love, care, generosity, and hospitality for those who so desperately need to experience your presence and catch a glimpse of your hope in their lives.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Receive these prayers, O God, and those in our hearts known only to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.



SENDING SONG  MV 209  Go, Make A Difference


Beloved, let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus. Love the Lord and serve others for the glory of God.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all now and forever. Amen.

Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617.
© 2011 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/byncsa/2.5/ca.