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.

Parts of this service are taken from Black History Month Worship 2022:  Stories of Black Experiences in Canadian Churches.


The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.

~Maya Angelou


In Luke’s version of the beatitudes, Jesus “came down with them and stood on a level place” (Luke 6:17). This scene contrasts with Matthew’s version of these events, in which Jesus goes up on a mountain to speak to his disciples. The scene in Luke is likely chaotic, but it is a scene of hospitality, equality, and healing for all people. God-in-flesh encounters the people on a level field. How do our worship spaces reflect where we believe God is present in our gatherings? What does the location of the pulpit, the pews, the altar convey about where and how we believe God is present? Might there be an opportunity to foster a space that looks more like the scene on the plain in Luke?


Come into the place where God listens!  Where God waits.
Come as you are!
Broken, whole, sick, well, satisfied or with deep longings.
Come to sing
Come to cry
Come to hear
Come to see
Come and be ready, or
Come to be made ready
We are here
As God is here too.

CHILDREN’S SONG:   WOV 660   I Want Jesus To Walk With Me


Living God, in Christ you make all things new. Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and 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 have here a tool.  It is called a level.  Its job is to make certain that any straight line is a straight line.  There are no bumps or angles that could interfere with building something that is supposed to be straight, or level.  The word level can also mean to speak the truth.

Jesus can be said to have been “level” with people.  He spoke plainly.  He didn’t use big words or long explanations.

Jesus told people that God loved them.  God would look after them.  They did not need to worry.  Jesus also told people that one of the ways to help do God’s work was to share what they had so that no one would be hungry, cold, alone.  We are a community as the children of God.  We look after each other.

Sometimes, it’s hard to share when we don’t have much.  In those times Jesus levels with us and says, “Share anyway.  God will look after you.”  And in my experience, God certainly does!



Love The Way God Loves

Love the way God loves. That’s arguably what Jesus’ whole ministry was about, and it’s summarized in his most travelled quote: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37–39)

We want to thank you—our amazing Mission & Service supporters—for showing love for neighbours at home and around the world. Thank you for turning compassion into action.

Since the pandemic struck, you have helped raise over $500,000 in emergency gifts to support Mission & Service partners. Your generosity helps deliver personal protective equipment, distribute food, install sanitation stations, and support education programs to help prevent and control the spread of the virus.

What’s more, through our Gifts with Vision catalogue, we have provided over 8,360 full vaccinations to those who need them most across the globe.

Altogether, that’s over $750,000 in COVID relief. Amazing!

Once again this year, your local region will receive $240,000 to support Mission & Service partners near you. From coast to coast, our partners are helping record numbers of families in need. Your generosity through Mission & Service is providing shelter to Canadians without a home, serving nutritious meals to families struggling to make ends meet, offering critical pastoral care in hospitals and schools, and extending life-changing education and job training opportunities.

Thank you for joining with members across our United Church to show and share love. Thank you for loving your neighbour. Your generosity is a blessing.


Dear God, through your Holy Spirit, we are drawn to the flame of your empowering love. Through your Holy Spirit we offer ourselves in discipleship, and through your Holy Spirit we seek to follow the loving ways of our brother Jesus.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10

These verses compose a poem that is part of a larger collection of wisdom sayings that contrast two ways of life. Life with God brings blessing; the power and vitality of God is active in our life. Life without God brings a curse, the power of death.

5Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength,

whose hearts turn away from the Lord.

6They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

7Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

8They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not

anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
9The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?

10I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the

fruit of their doings.

Psalm: 1

R:  They are like trees planted by streams of water. (Ps. 1:3)

1Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
2Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on God’s teaching day and night. R
3They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season,

with leaves that do not wither; everything they do shall prosper.
4It is not so with the wicked; they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
5Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
6For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall be destroyed. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

For Paul, the resurrection of Christ is the basis for Christian hope. Because Christ has been raised, those who are in Christ know that they too will be raised to a new life beyond death.

12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

Gospel: Luke 6:17-26

After choosing his twelve apostles, Jesus teaches a crowd of followers about the nature and demands of discipleship. He begins his great sermon with surprising statements about who is truly blessed in the eyes of God.

17 came down with  and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.18They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
20Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”


HYMN OF THE DAY:  VU 672  Take Time To Be Holy 


On the level.  A level playing field.  Level with me.  One word with so many connotations!

On the level:  To be legitimate and open.  If a business is “on the level”, it means its operation is transparent, no illegal action behind closed doors.

A level playing field:  Everyone is equal.  No one has status above anyone else.  No one has the advantage.  Everything is out in the open with nothing and nowhere to hide.

Level with me:  Give me the truth, even if it hurts, even if the news is devastating, even if I don’t want to hear it.

It is significant that Jesus, who has been “up the mountain” praying and choosing his close group of disciples, comes down to “a level place” to heal and teach.  It is significant that those whom Jesus heals come from places that represent those who oppose Jesus and those who are gentiles.  From north to south, from orthodox Jew to unclean gentile, Jesus heals them all and gives them words of hope – and warning.

February is Black History Month.  While it happens year-round, as it should, it is a month where Black folks intentionally level with the White folks, and, quite frankly, there are White folks who are not happy about it.  Jesus understands that, because as he stands on “a level place” healing and teaching, he is aware that there are those who are not happy with what he has to say and whom he has chosen to heal.  Jesus is deliberate in choosing to say and do what he does.  He invites conflict, because, if he doesn’t, nothing will change.  If he doesn’t “level” with everyone the fact that God cares about people in the now and people in the hereafter, their salvation, as a result of their choices and behaviour, could be in question.  Jesus is dealing with serious issues that go well beyond people’s comfort zone.

I read to you two experiences found in the worship service Black History Month Worship 2022:  Stories of Black Experiences in Canadian Churches.[1]  I ask you to listen to the emotions underneath the words.  I quote:

Experience 1:  An Historical Beginning in Nova Scotia: Africville, Nova Scotia

by Amelia Brohman

An important Black experience and history has had a strong impact on our Black members located on the east coast of Canada in Halifax. Africville was and is a community just north of Halifax. The village was founded in the mid-19th century by roughly 400 people of African descent, many of whom may have been formerly enslaved Americans and Jamaicans.

From the beginning of its identity as a Black neighbourhood, the structures around Africville were markedly racist. For instance, although the City of Halifax taxed the inhabitants of Africville, the people in the neighbourhood did not receive basic services such as paved roads, running water, or sewers. Furthermore, in what can certainly be considered environmental racism, a railway was built through the centre of the village, a dump was created at the edge of the neighbourhood, and a prison was also located on the boundaries of Africville. By the first half of the 20th century, Africville had toxic water supplies and no community policing, recreation facilities, or garbage collection.

In the 1960s, the City of Halifax began a more overt campaign to destroy Africville. Without consent or consideration, Africville residents were threatened, evicted, and removed as their homes and stores were razed to the ground. Seaview African United Baptist Church was built in 1894 and was a community hub. It held weddings, funerals, events, and baptisms and was considered the beating heart of Africville. Seaview United Baptist Church was destroyed in the middle of the night in the spring of 1967. The Black Haligonians found themselves displaced and disconnected. Although they were promised $500 and a new home if they left Africville, no one received a dime.

Now, looking back on the oppression and systemic racism visited on this community, we can recognize anti-Black racism at its worst. The church, however, has been rebuilt and is a museum, a chance to learn what we can do when we marginalize those who are different from us. All the events are part of a larger history of Eurocentric colonialism and its racist agenda.

Experience 2:

The image is of a young Black woman who has the hand of a White woman softly covering her cheeks and mouth with her hand. The Black woman is staring directly into the camera and has tears streaming down her face.

This picture is evocative of recurring themes that came up in my discussions with people of African descent. The image of the White woman’s hand is refined because of red nail polish; it is not aggressively placed on her face and yet it probably does not realize how threatening it seems. This is the soft-handed touch of a White person silencing the voices of Black people. Not aggressively, though, but almost soft and polite like. As one may say, polite racism.

From the people I spoke to within The United Church of Canada, there was no overt racism but there were some questions and assumptions by White folks, or not having Black people be included in things, or being asked as an afterthought, or even White people checking boxes off instead to say that something was done rather than asking Black people.

The face of the Black woman is silenced and frozen. There is pain but it is a confusing pain.

Based on my conversations with Black members of the church, there is nothing overtly unpleasant that they faced. They felt, though, that they were expected to give up certain things and be grateful that they were welcome in a Eurocentric environment. For example, for people who moved here from another country who were of African descent, it was assumed they should fit into the norm of a European White culture, and it was assumed they should have a voice only when dictated by White people and that what was being done to make them feel welcome was enough. There were no conversations being had on why they felt left out, why they felt uncomfortable, and what was missing.

It’s a confusing kind of sadness because it is not as always easy to identify, but it almost feels like a loss or grief to Black people.  End quote.

And now I offer my reflection…

I had travelled to the Bahamas to visit my pen pal, Barb.  Barb, her husband, Barry, and their daughter, Bianca, lived on a small island which housed about 500 people.  Barry’s grandfather actually owned the island.

Barb was Lutheran, but as there was no Lutheran church on the island, she and her family attended the Pentecostal church.  While there, I participated in a week-long revival!  On the Sunday, the congregation was celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Pastor’s ministry to their parish.  The deacon of the congregation approached the lectern and welcomed everyone, with special mention of the Pastor, his family and their relatives, who had made the 2-hour boat ride from Freeport that morning.  Then he said, “And I see we have one White woman in the congregation this morning!”  Immediately, I found myself sitting up and looking around for the White woman!  As people started to laugh, I realized, I was the White woman!

I share this story, not to be funny, but to point out how blind I was to my Whiteness.  And that, dear people of God, is the problem.

My ancestors came from Germany on my mother’s side, and from France and Germany on my father’s side.  White Europeans.  I live in a Country that has been built by White power and culture.  I was raised in that White culture.  I didn’t even think about it.  My life rolled along.  My teachings about the Indigenous peoples of Canada that I learned in elementary school were positive.  I can’t recall when I learned of the atrocities committed against the Indigenous peoples.  I think I was in my 20’s.  I was born in 1963.  Segregation and apartheid were subjects in history class.  In short, I was blind to my Whiteness.

When I served as intern in the inner city of Toledo, Ohio, it was in a congregation whose members were Black, White and Hispanic.  That February, I received an education about being Black in a White culture.  I am grateful to the Black folks of Peace Lutheran for sharing their life stories with me, and waking me up!

Am I racist?  How can I not be?  Thankfully, I have met numerous people of colour who have shared their life stories with me, their pain, the abuse they have suffered, and their hope for “a level place” of belonging.  A hope that the realm of God on earth can be what Jesus envisioned it to be.  I am grateful to them for being level with me, even if I was uncomfortable with hearing the truth.  I would like to believe that as I listen, learn, and strive to be aware of my Whiteness, I am becoming less racist and more inclusive.

I recall attending a workshop on Native Ministry, many years ago.  The presenter, who was Indigenous, began by saying, “I am the first person in my family in four generations who has chosen not to drink.”  He spoke about what that meant to him and his family.  Then, he leveled the playing field.  He said, “You, personally, did not kill my ancestors.  I, personally, did not kill yours.  So, let us agree that this whole situation is a mess, and work together from this point on to fix it.”

I have, from time to time, thought about what it would have been like to know Jesus when he walked the earth.  Then I read about his ministry and I wonder if would have liked him.  What if he spoke as strongly to me as he did to Peter, the Pharisees, the Scribes?  What if he called me out on all the ways that I was not living the way God wanted me to live?  Ouch!  Harsh?  Oh yes!  Necessary, absolutely!

I close with words from Brianna Lane and Sifa Zahinda as they ask, “What now?”  I quote:

What Now 1

By Brianna Lane

As Christians, we must recognize how cruel we can be in the effort to maintain a norm, culture, ideology, or theology that is comfortable and familiar to those associated with the dominant power of our churches and society. We are capable of cruelty. This background information is important to understand and be made aware of because Canada has a longstanding issue with racism, slavery, and the mistreatment of its people. Before anyone can understand anything further with the stories told today, we first must understand that Canada is racist.

What Now 2

By Sifa Zahinda and Brianna Lane

Many of the people with whom I spoke had simple, concrete suggestions about how our church can be less racist (and yes, let’s use the word “racist”) even if these behaviours and norms are not intentional. The starting place is simply to recognize what our culture looks like now, and although our traditions can be beautiful and meaningful, they are most predominantly European. This means that they exclude other traditions. After we have worked on recognizing this, we need to talk with people of colour; we need to create a safe space for them to be heard. We must recognize their realities, and this does not necessarily mean asking people of African descent to take on leadership roles for which they might not have time or interest. But being available as consultants for literally everything that happens in the church. Change happens when everyone feels heard, when everyone feels respected, and when we share our stories in an accepting environment.  End quote.

The future of God’s realm, the Church and this very planet, all start with Jesus teaching us that the love of God begins – on level ground.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH: MV 172   God Says


The Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us in abundance; so we are bold to pray for the church, the world, and all that God has made.

Blessed are those whose trust is in you. Strengthen the faith of those who profess your name and bring reassurance to those who doubt or fear. Through your church speak continued blessing into the world. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Those who trust in you are like trees planted by streams of water. Bless fruit trees with an abundant harvest. Protect rainforests from destruction. Restore land that has eroded after deforestation. Resurrect woodlands after forest fires.

God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Search the hearts of those who govern, that they lead with humility. Inspire leaders to collaborate on policies that protect people and the planet. Sustain truth-tellers and social movements that challenge society to become more honest and just.

God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Send your blessings of mercy upon those who long for consolation. Tend to those struggling with poverty, unemployment, or uncertainty. Provide for all who are hungry. Console those who face persecution. Grant peace to all who suffer.  We bring before you our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your healing touch: Douglas Pearson, Tracy Skoglund, Mike Fraese, Dwayne, Phyllis, Alice Pomrenke, Brooke Alexiuk, Kathryn Janke Schmidt, Angèle Harmonic and family.

God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Renew this congregation in our shared mission. As we plan and dream for the future you are preparing, inspire us by the reformers. Bless new projects and new ministry partnerships.

God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Christ is raised from the dead, and so we cling to the hope of the resurrection. We praise you for the lives of the saints who lived and died in the hope of eternal life with you.

God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Since we have such great hope in your promises, O God, we lift these and all of our prayers to you in confidence and faith; through Jesus Christ our Savior.



SENDING SONG:  VU 635  All The Way My Saviour Leads Me


We give you thanks, gracious God, for we have feasted on the abundance of your house.  Send us to bring good news and to proclaim your favor to all, strengthened with the richness of your grace in your Son, Jesus Christ.




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
[1] https://united-church.ca/worship-special-days/black-history-month-2