Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of 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.

Parts of today’s liturgy are taken from Revival out of helplessness A worship service on the theme of anti-racism, by Rolanda Taylor and Yvonne Terry.


Before you heal someone, ask them if they’re willing to give up the things that made them sick.

    ~ Hippocrates


This Sunday’s reading from Deuteronomy describes what is at stake in following the commandments: whether life on the land is experienced as blessing or curse. And yet, four times in the gospel reading Jesus articulates an evolving understanding of the law: “You have heard it said . . . but I say to you . . .” Hearing Deuteronomy and Matthew in dialogue may remind us that the “law” for living on the land is sometimes something close to timeless, and sometimes changes with new information and evolving understandings. Liturgical theologian Gordon Lathrop has sometimes defined culture as a conversation between generations about how best to live on the land. Today younger generations around the globe are challenging older generations, especially on issues of climate justice. After a century of fossil-fueled carbon emissions, younger generations are speaking truth to power, for the sake of God’s good earth: “You have heard it said . . . but we say to you . . . .”


We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Holy One, Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, of story and of song, of heartbeat and of tears of bodies, souls, voices and all relations: you are the God of all truth and the way of all reconciliation. Uphold with your love and compassion all who open their lives in the sacred sharing of their stories breathe in us the grace to trust in your loving forgiveness, that we may face our histories with courage; touch us through the holy gift of story that those who speak and those who listen may behold your own redeeming presence; guide us with holy wisdom to enter through the gates of remorse that our feet may walk gently and firmly on the way of justice and healing. Amen.

~From the Anglican Church of Canada


You there!

Who, me?

Yes! You. Why are you here?

I am here to worship God with you!

But you are different from me!

Why? Because I look different? The same God who made you made me, and God loves us all regardless of background, gender, culture, or ethnicity!

Okay! Then come! Let us worship the one true God who embraces all equally.

Amen!  Come, let us worship God!

CHILDREN’S SONG:  Two Little Eyes To Look To God


Eternal One, we hear the cries of our neighbours near and far, and our hearts reach out to them. We are thankful for your promise of hope, and we are thankful for Jesus’ love for you, which he demonstrated on the cross. Through this love we get not only a glimpse of you, but we also receive the good news. Strengthen our faith; help us to see each other through your eyes, so that we will be able to experience you in more ways than one. As we worship you this day, may we be open and sensitive to each other’s needs and presence, recognizing that we are all your children. This is our prayer. 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.


As people who follow Jesus, God expects us to respect each other and, when we do have disagreements, to talk them out, rather than keeping our feelings inside and having them build up until, finally, we get so angry that it feels like we explode and then we suddenly yell at somebody!

This is not helpful.

Often, it is not the person with whom we are angry, rather, it is their words or behaviour.

When our children were small I used to say to them, when I was upset with their behaviour, for an example, “I am feeling angry right now because you slammed the door after I told you to close it quietly.”  Notice, I did not say, “I am angry at YOU”, because I wasn’t.  I was angry at the behaviour.  Notice that I stated how I felt, and the reason why I felt that way.  My children did not have to guess why I was upset.  I told them exactly why.  Then we could have a conversation about my feelings toward their behaviour, and discuss what they would be willing to do to fix the behaviour.

Did it always work out?  No.  Mostly it did.  Sometimes we each needed to be alone in a quiet space for a while.  My point is that it is important to tell each other when something is upsetting us, and do it in such a way that there is conversation instead of yelling and hurt feelings.

That is why praying to God is so important!  God wants us to say how we are feeling.  The problem is ours to fix, yet God gives us the courage and strength to work through the problem.  We are never alone.

MINUTE FOR MISSION:  Your Generosity Accompanies Grandmothers

     We would like to introduce Glenn Waterman, our new Annual Giving Lead. Glenn felt drawn to this story of discrimination changing through education and compassion because it mirrored the work he was involved in at two of his prior organizations, The Leprosy Mission and International Justice Mission. In both cases, one through stigma surrounding leprosy and the other dealing with slavery, the people he interacted with needed understanding, compassion, and justice.

In the Rift Valley of Kenya, 7 percent of the people who live there are HIV positive—nearly 900,000—and many will not survive. Grandmothers whose children have died of AIDS are often left alone to care for their grandchildren, and to add insult to injury, their church community condemns them, leaving them without support as they raise their grandchildren.

Some pastors in the Rift Valley, as in many other places, believe and teach that faithful Christians cannot contract the disease and that it is a judgment from God—a disease for sexual sinners.

“The pastors had little information about HIV and AIDS; to them, and others in the community, it was a strange disease…. HIV was a result of sexual sin and was a judgement from God for the sexually immoral,” writes Esther Mombo of the World Council of Churches.

In partnership with the United Church, Mombo and Pauline Wanjuru of St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya, led a series of workshops in one Rift Valley community that has been hit especially hard by HIV/AIDS. They invited grandmothers and pastors to connect and learn from each other.

One grandmother who attended the workshops was 70 years old. She had lost both her daughter and her son and was left to raise three grandchildren on her own. Instead of stepping up to help, her neighbours refused to visit her because they said her daughter and son had been sexually immoral. Her pastor wouldn’t even attend her children’s funerals because he didn’t want to be seen associating with her family. When she went to church, the pastor preached about the punishment for sexual immorality.

At the workshops, this woman bravely told her story to the pastors who attended. She also shared with them how it felt to be shamed for loving her children and grandchildren. Another grandmother explained that her grandchildren were born with the virus and couldn’t have been involved in any sexual immorality. Yet another spoke of God’s love for everyone. Pastors listened and learned, and ended by making a commitment to extend compassion and offer pastoral care to the grandmothers.

All of us know from our own life experience that when we know better, we do better. Your Mission & Service gifts gave these grandmothers the opportunity to help their pastors learn to do better by connecting their love for their grandchildren to God’s love for all. Thank you.


Divine Gardener, you give growth to our seeds and to the towering forest trees; you raise to abundant life that which seems dead.  Teach us to choose blessing and life rather than death, so that we may walk blamelessly, seeking you through reconciliation with all of your children. Amen.


First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

The Lord sets before the people of God a clear choice. Life and prosperity will come to the faithful; loss of the land will be the consequence of disobedience. Choosing life entails loving and holding fast to the Lord. Life in God’s presence presupposes the promise made to the ancestors.

 15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Psalm 119:1-8

R:  Happy are they who follow the teaching of the Lord. (Ps. 119:1)

1Happy are they whose way is blameless, who follow the teaching of the Lord!
2Happy are they who observe your decrees and seek you with all their hearts,
3who never do any wrong, but always walk in your ways.
4You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them. R
5Oh, that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes!
6Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments.
7I will thank you with a true heart, when I have learned your righteous judgments.
8I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Human leaders in the church are not the ones who control ministry. Rather they are coworkers who belong to God, the one who truly controls and continuously empowers the ministry of the church.

1Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Gospel: Matthew 5:21-37

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorts his followers to embrace standards of righteousness that exceed legal requirements and traditional expectations.

 21“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

HYMN:  VU 560  O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee


Our God is a God of circles.  Circles imply wholeness, never-endingness, such is the love and grace of God.  God desires that we have relationships, healthy ones, whole ones, including the one that we ourselves have with God.  To have a healthy relationship with God is to have life.  To have the circle broken throws our lives into chaos.  That is why God tells us that we should chose life by keeping the commandments and ordinances that have been set up to help us live a life of righteousness, which means having a healthy relationship with God.

But as Adam and Eve found out, we are very much human.  And when the relationship with God became broken, a life of harmony suddenly became a life of discord.  Yet even in the discord the grace of God was there.  Acknowledgment of sin and repentance brought about a change in the heart of God, and rather than receiving the punishment of death, Adam and Eve were banished.  Some of us may consider this a death, since the beauty of the Garden would no longer be theirs; but these two humans went forth in the knowledge that God would protect them.  And so, for a time, the circle of love was once again complete, whole, undistorted.

But the damage was done.  The people of God wanted to explore more of the world’s mysteries and religions rather than relying on their relationship with God, who was their provider.  The desire for more had been awakened, and once again God had to take firm control.

Moses came down from the mountain with the ten rules for living in a relationship with God.  They were not meant to restrict, but to guide and create the wholeness needed for living together as God’s people.  As a result, the rest of the world would see that wholeness and a right relationship with God were two very healthy goals in life.  It worked for a time, until the desire to explore other forms of living overcame the people.  They thought, “Perhaps this god will offer more than God”, and suddenly the harmony broke down into ear-shattering discord.

But our God is a God of circles, and God’s love is never-ending.  Once again God attempted to mend the broken circle of relationship, only this time, rather than two tablets of cold stone, God sent one warm, compassionate human being.

Jesus walked and lived among God’s people and felt their desire for more.  He tried to explain to them that their hunger for more was a result of the already broken relationship between them and God.  But the people were smart.  They quoted back to Jesus the law of cold stone, which equaled the coldness of their hearts.  The people believed that as long as they followed, by their actions, the words of stone to the letter, then they were maintaining the circle of love with God.

In order to make things clear, Jesus took the people up onto the side of the mountain and attempted to explain to the cold-hearts the warmth of the embrace of God’s love.

So, Jesus started at the beginning and turned the rules and regulations that the people had memorized and lived out by the letter upside down.  It was no longer acceptable to perform God’s laws if there was no love in the heart.  For our God is a God of circles, and God’s love is never-ending.

“You have heard it was said to those of ancient times…”

“Oh yes!”, said the people, “We know that well.”

“Ah!”, said Jesus, “But I say to you that if even your motivation is not rooted in love, then you have broken the circle of your relationship with God.”

“Dear people, the law says not to murder, but if you are angry with another, what does that do to the relationship you have with that other?  So I say to you, that anger itself, if it festers in your heart, if it causes you to insult one another, does as much damage as if you committed murder.”

“Dear people, the law states that you should not commit adultery.  But I say to you that just looking at another and desiring that one, has already done the damage that committing the act of adultery would do.  For if one looks with lust at another, is not the love and respect for one’s partner immediately diminished?  Again, I tell you, if your motivation is not rooted in the love relationship you have with God, then you have broken the law and the relationship.”

“Dear people, you are in a love relationship with God which is reflected in your love relationships with each other.  If one is broken, then it follows that the other is broken, for God created everything, and to injure one of God’s creations is to injure the Creator.  Nothing you do goes without ramifications to those around you, for you are all people of God.  And if one member of the circle is hurt, or leaves the circle, the rest are not whole until wholeness to that one has been restored.”

“At all costs,” says Jesus, “maintain the circle of love that is your relationship with others and with God.  Repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are necessary to maintain the wholeness of a relationship.”

And so, as people of God we try to do this.  But as history and reality tell us, we are human, we are tempted, our flesh is weak, and we have, and do, and will fail at maintaining the circle of love.  Yet even if we should fail, God’s grace is still extended to us.  This is not an excuse to go out and “sin boldly”, by no means, for no matter what we do, we will be held accountable.  No, what Jesus is saying is that our God is a God of circles, and desires that the circle of love in relationship with God and with each other be our prime motivation in life, and from that motivation will flow the fruits of love.  Once we stray from the circle, we enter into discord and chaos, and the fruits of this life are despair and brokenness.

The people of Israel were very good at maintaining the law at the expense of their hearts.  Jesus desires us to maintain the motivation of our hearts in order that we maintain the circle of love that is ours because of Christ.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  ELW 715  Christ, Be Our Light


Recommitting to Justice, Equity, and Peace Alydia Smith

God of peace, give us the courage, strength and perseverance needed, to challenge the systems of racism, so that we can clear a path for your justice, peace, and equity.

We believe racism is present in our society and in our church, and throughout time has manifested itself in many forms and in varying degrees.

We know racism is alive in our language and in our structures, and through our systems it actively works to deconstruct your glorious design, blocking the path to justice, equity, and peace that Jesus brings.

Racism exists, and it challenges the gospel message that we cry.

We cry abundant life for all, knowing that we are slowly being suffocated by the pervasive evil of racism:  some of us are choking; some of us cannot breathe; some of us are dead.

We cry peace, knowing that we are the instruments of God’s peace and that such peace cannot exist without justice, equity, compassion, and God’s grace.

We cry Emmanuel, God with us, knowing that to God, every life matters—God is with all people—

even though as a community and as a society we have stated through our actions that some lives matter more than others.

Compassionate One, help us to understand how racism finds life in our hearts and in our cries.  In this time of tense anticipation, may we commit ourselves to be people of your way crying and creating a path for justice, equity, and peace for all people in this wilderness of hatred and racism. Amen.


SENDING SONG:   When We Walk With The Lord


O Living, Disturbing God, let us go in peace with you, to disrupt those who are comfortable, comfort those who mourn, and walk alongside those who suffer various forms of racial discrimination.  Now receive the blessing of God all-loving; our Mother-God who holds us in our pain, our Brother-God, Jesus the Christ, who gives us courage to resist, and Spirit-God who binds us together in all that is free and liberated.  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 Non-commercial Share Alike Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/byncsa/2.5/ca.