August 30, 2020 Service



Due to copywrite 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.



“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” 


     What is it like to seek a committed, covenant relationship with another human being? What does it mean to seek a committed covenant relationship with God? In today’s lectionary passages Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus, wrestle with this second question.

     The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the incurable wound of his suffering yet finds in God’s words the delight of his heart. When Peter doesn’t grasp Jesus’ words about suffering, Jesus tells the disciples they will find their lives in losing them. Such sacrificial love is described by Paul when he urges us to associate with the lowly and not repay evil with evil. In worship we gather as a community that we might offer ourselves for the sake of our suffering world.

Call to Worship

“If you want to be my followers,” Jesus said, “you must take up your cross and follow me.”

We want to follow Jesus.

The way is not always easy; it can be scary and risky.

We want to follow Jesus.

We do not always know where the path will lead us.

We want to follow Jesus.

Then let us take up our cross, and follow Jesus,

trusting Jesus to lead us in the ways of God.

CHILDREN’S SONG:    Voices United #509  I, The Lord of Sea And Sky


Holy One, this day is made bright with your light and your love. May we recognize your presence, hear your voice and walk in your ways this day and always. 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.


Have you ever participated in a race?  It could be a running race, a cycling race, a three-legged race, wheelbarrow race…you get the idea.  Now, what is the whole point of participating in a race?  TO WIN!!!  Third and second place are OK, but if we are honest, we all want to be in FIRST PLACE!!  First place means that you are the best of the best!  You beat all the competition!  WOW!  WAY TO GO!

Sadly, there are people in the world who think life is a race.  They can’t be satisfied with average, even better than average.  They can only be, own, or create the BEST.  Some of these people have a hard time having friends because, viewing life as a race, they are always competing with their friends – even when there is no race!

Let me be clear:  competition can be a good thing.  It motivates us to do our best, maybe even pushes a little more than our best out of our bodies and our brains.  Yet we can’t live that way all the time because we would wear out very quickly.  So, then, how ARE we to live?

To read about Jesus’ life in the Bible, he sounds rather boring.  Jesus did a lot of walking, sitting and talking.  He ate a lot of meals with friends and strangers, healed people, and then it was back to walking, sitting and talking.  Not a whole lot of action going on!  Or is there?  Don’t you love it when someone gives you their attention?!  Don’t you love your parents/grandparents pampering you when you feel sick?  Don’t you love to have great conversations while you eat good food?  Doesn’t life seem so much better when you know yourself to be loved, paid attention to, looked after, listened to, included in a conversation?  Maybe Jesus wasn’t so boring after all!  Maybe, his greatest gift was that he taught people there was more to life than winning all the time; that God, family and friends can bring joy and excitement into one’s life; that caring for each other gives us a reason for being; that connecting with people inspires us to do more for others and the planet!

So, go ahead and run the race!  Strive to be number one and be satisfied that you did your best if you end up second or third.  AND don’t forget to give your attention to others, listen to them, include them in a conversation, eat good food together, and enjoy just being alive and being together.    



Hundreds of young people + three days together = fun!

What could be more energizing than a room full of 600 young people? How about a room full of 600 United Church of Canada young people! Rendez-vous brings them together for worship, service, prayer, community, and learning. Thanks to your gifts for Mission & Service, Rendez-vous is able to happen every three years in a different part of the country.

In a non-Covid19 world, buses, planes, trains, and automobiles filled with youth converge for three jam-packed days. Some participants arrive excited to renew relationships made at previous youth events. Some arrive anxious, not knowing what to expect. Some arrive struggling and in need of a safe place to find acceptance. All leave knowing that they are not alone, that The United Church of Canada has a place for them, and that they are beloved children of God.

When they return home, they are exhausted and full of stories. Listen to their stories and encourage them in both difficult and joyous times. Tell them that you invested in them through your gifts to Mission & Service.

This year, Rendez-vous was held virtually with Speaker’s Pages and live streaming.  Youth were excited to participate and lives were touched, even if physical touch could not take place.  Amen for the power of the Holy Spirit!

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.


Holy God, Word made flesh, let us come to this word open to being surprised. Silence our agendas; banish our assumptions; cast out our casual detachment. Confound our expectations; clear the cobwebs from our ears; penetrate the corners of our hearts with this word. We know that you can, we pray that you will, and we wait with great anticipation. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 15:15-21

Jeremiah’s delight in the word of the Lord is contradicted by the heaviness of God’s hand upon him and God’s seeming unfaithfulness. God’s tough love to Jeremiah says that if he repents, he will be allowed to continue in his strenuous ministry. Jeremiah is strengthened by the simple words, “I am with you.”

15O Lord, you know;
  remember me and visit me,
  and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
 In your forbearance do not take me away;
  know that on your account I suffer insult.
16Your words were found, and I ate them,
  and your words became to me a joy
  and the delight of my heart;
 for I am called by your name,
  O Lord, God of hosts.
17I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
  nor did I rejoice;
 under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
  for you had filled me with indignation.
18Why is my pain unceasing,
  my wound incurable,
  refusing to be healed?
 Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
  like waters that fail.

19Therefore thus says the Lord:
 If you turn back, I will take you back,
  and you shall stand before me.
 If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
  you shall serve as my mouth.
 It is they who will turn to you,
  not you who will turn to them.
20And I will make you to this people
  a fortified wall of bronze;
 they will fight against you,
  but they shall not prevail over you,
 for I am with you
  to save you and deliver you,
 says the Lord.
21I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
  and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Psalm 26:1-8

R:  Your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you. (Ps. 26:3)

1Give judgment for me, O Lord, for I have lived with integrity;
  I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
2Test me, O Lord, and try me;
  examine my heart and my mind.
3For your steadfast love is before my eyes;
  I have walked faithfully with you.
4I have not sat with the worthless,
  nor do I consort with the deceitful. R
5I have hated the company of evildoers;
  I will not sit down with the wicked.
6I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord,
  that I may go in procession round your altar,
7singing aloud a song of thanksgiving
  and recounting all your wonderful deeds.
8Lord, I love the house in which you dwell
  and the place where your glory abides. R

Second Reading: Romans 12:9-21

Paul presents benchmarks for faithful relationships with Christians and non-Christians. Love is the unflagging standard of our behavior. When we encounter evil, we do not resort to its tactics but seek to overcome it with good. While Christians cannot control the actions and attitudes of others, we seek to live at peace with all people.

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

  14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

After Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16), Jesus reveals the ultimate purpose of his ministry. These words prove hard to accept, even for a disciple whom Jesus has called a “rock.”

21From that time on,  Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

  24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

  27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”


Jeremiah 15:51-21


When the pandemic started, someone put the following meme on my Facebook page.  It quickly became my new profile photo and words of wisdom for the next long while:

People we know will get sick and maybe die from this virus, so let us ground ourselves in good theology straight away, shall we:

  • Heaven doesn’t need another angel
  • Illness and fear are not God’s will
  • God will not abandon us.
  • This illness is not God punishing us.
  • “I don’t know” is a faithful response to the question “Why?”


It is easy, in the midst of a pandemic, with all the fear, despair, grief, death and hopelessness that it brings, to blame the whole of Covid-19 on God.  Indeed, the world is sinful, arrogant, has turned its back on God, and therefore, God is punishing the world!  Well, I hate to say it, but in Jeremiah’s day, that was the message the people of Israel received from Jeremiah – God’s mouthpiece.  They had broken their covenant with Yahweh.  They worshiped idols and other gods, and once they had broken that first commandment, the rest, as they say, was history. 


I hasten to point out that the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Israelites was not a random act of vengeance on the part of Yahweh.  This was a LONG history of disobedience on the part of God’s people.  This was YEARS of ignoring the prophets, scorning the covenant, testing the patience of Yahweh until finally, Yahweh’s patience ran out.  The calamity that befell the Israelites was not so much God punishing the people, rather, it was more the logical result of the promised consequences that would occur due to Israel’s idolatrous behaviour.  They chose not to repent after all…


In the middle of this mess is Jeremiah.  The destruction has yet to occur, yet Jeremiah is feeling the effects of being an outcast, God’s unpopular mouthpiece who prophecies doom and gloom instead of focusing on how great Israel is because they are the chosen ones of God.  God has told Jeremiah he cannot marry and have children.  He must not celebrate and mingle with people at community events.  God’s prophet must remain alone and childless, signifying the future of Israel.  After years of being harassed, scorned and ostracized, Jeremiah, too, loses patience. 


The words of Yahweh that once tasted sweet on the tongue and brought him joy now make Jeremiah want to choke.  God’s initial promise to be with Jeremiah, support him and give him strength seems to have dried up and Jeremiah feels utterly abandoned.  The reason for Jeremiah feeling like this is his faithfulness to the prophetic ministry to which God called him!  Well, isn’t that hurting a guy when he’s already down?!  In no uncertain terms, Jeremiah cries out his lament – all filters off, walking a most certainly fated path to blasphemy!


Bo Lim, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Seattle Pacific University sums up Jeremiah’s agonizing lament beautifully:

“The prophetic response to suffering — raw, honest, intimate lament — is deemed acceptable worship unto God. The prophetic response to evil and injustice is to worship, even if all God’s people can muster are tears and complaints.”1


However, as Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, points out:

“The hazard of such honest prayer, as we shall see, is that Yahweh can be equally honest and therefore abrasive in response to prayer.”2 


Yes, Jeremiah has crossed a line.  As I say to my children, “You may state your feelings, just state them respectfully.”  Yahweh has every right to reject Jeremiah or strike him dead.  Instead, God honours the covenant that has been made, hears Jeremiah’s pain and, giving Jeremiah the opportunity to repent of his doubting Yahweh’s support, states again the words of the promise of the covenant. 

Fast forward to Jesus and Peter…

Whereas Jeremiah longed to be included, Jesus knows that as the Son of God, he stands outside the circle.  He is the prophetic voice and the source of that voice rolled into one.  He is a teacher, healer, prophet and Saviour.  While he includes his disciples on his journey to the cross, he must endure the disbelief, scoffing and temptations that his own place before him.  Like Jeremiah, Jesus remains faithful to his calling.  Like Jeremiah, Jesus proclaims a word that is unpopular, challenges the status quo and leads to his rejection.  Like Jeremiah, faithful as Jesus is, he, too, will express his feeling of being abandoned.  Unlike Jeremiah, Jesus does not give up trusting God’s promise.

So, where does that leave us?

I close with the words of Mark D. Williamson, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Dodgeville, Wisconsin:

Telling God to remember, to wake up, to provide for us, or to be with us as promised is not at all outside the bounds of biblical faith. Faith is not like some mere chain of command where you don’t talk back to your commanding officer. Rather, in our covenant relationship with God, God’s people may speak freely and call on God to God-up.


Over his long, forty-year career, Jeremiah seldom heard those reassuring words from God, “I am with you.” He had to cling to God’s promise given early on, when he was first called, in the face of year after year of contrary evidence and humiliating rejections—and hold God to that promise. Once in a while, like an oasis in the desert, his complaints provoked a fresh utterance of just what he needed to hear from the Lord: “I’m still here. I will save. I will deliver. I will redeem. I will make you strong like bronze.”3


The pandemic is real.  The risks are real.  The fear is real.  AND, God will not abandon us.  Amen.


1Bo Lim, Commentary on Jeremiah 15:15-21:  Working Preacher, (August 31, 2014).

Walter Brueggemann, A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 114.

3Mark D. Williamson, God Pause (Luther Seminary, August 24, 2020).



HYMN OF THE MONTH:  More Voices #98  River Of Tears


Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of faithfulness, you bid your people to follow Jesus. Set the mind of your church on divine things. Grant us trust in you, that we lose our lives for the sake of Christ and thereby discover joy in life through him.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of wonder, the earth is yours and all that is in it. Heal your creation and give us eyes to see the world as you do. As the seasons change, pattern the rhythm of our lives in harmony with all creation.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of all nations, you call us to live peaceably with all. Give us ears to hear one another, even those we name as enemies. Fill all leaders with mercy and understanding, that they advocate and genuinely care for those who are poor and most vulnerable in their communities.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of salvation, you promise to deliver us. Give those who suffer a strong sense of your presence and love. Accompany those who are uncertain, raise the spirits of those who are despairing, and heal the sick.  We bring before you the Dreger family, Art Ganske; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Nicole and family; Gordon Dreger; Diane Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne.  Grant them solace and healing.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of community, you call us to rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, and persevere in prayer. Make our congregation a workshop of your love. When we quarrel, bring reconciliation. Help us overcome evil with good.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of all grace, you give us everlasting life. In love we recall your holy ones who now live in your undying light. In our remembering, give us a foretaste of the feast to come.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.




May the strength of God pilot us;

May the wisdom of God instruct us,
May the hand of God protect us,
May the word of God direct us.
Be always ours this day and for evermore.


SENDING SONG:  Voices United 561  Take Up Your Cross



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