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 our liturgy today are taken from Honouring Our Identities Service for Black History Month, by Rev. Thérèse Samuel


“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad


Water is an integral part of the created order. Water sustains and fosters life; too little or too much water can end it. A glance at the news headlines points out the destructive power of water’s presence or absence: Yet we need water as much or more than we need food, shelter, or the other “staples” of human life. Since ancient times we have established our communities near sources of water. We cannot survive long without it.

The tension between the saving and destructive powers of water fills today’s lectionary readings. The waters of the flood overwhelmed the world in the days of Noah, yet 1 Peter reminds us that God delivered Noah and his family from death. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus only after his baptism by John, yet the Spirit immediately drives Jesus into the desert—a place defined by its lack of water. Through water and the word, in baptism our old, sinful self is put to death, and we are reborn as children of God. But the current that flows through these paradoxes is this: in death and life, in flood and drought, God remains faithful. As the psalmist reminds us, God’s mercy and steadfast love “are from everlasting.” 


CALL TO WORSHIP – (traditional African-American)

God is good,

all the time.

All the time,

God is good.

CHILDREN’S SONG   All God’s Critters


God of creation and covenant, of rainbows and resurrection, You love all of creation, and you have promised to love us.  Not even the clouds of our carelessness or the floods of our fears can get in the way of your radiant, radical redemption.  Be with us now, as we gather to praise you, source of the love and beauty that is in us, and others.  Send your Spirit that we might be drawn together as one, even as we honour our differences.  Give us wisdom that as the Body of Christ, we may bring healing and peace

in the world that you love so much.  Thanks be to you, Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter.  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.


How many times in a day do your parents say, “I love you!”  Do they say it just enough times, or would you prefer to hear the words more often?  Would you like the words to be accompanied by a hug, or are you ok with just the words?  Of course, you trust your parents mean it when they say, “I love you!”

        Carma is my bestest friend in the whole wide world.  We have been through much together!  When we converse, we always end the conversation with the words, “I love you!”

        I have two sisters.  We always end our conversations with the words, “I love you!”

        I will turn 58 years of age this year.  My dad will turn 90.  At the end of every conversation we say, “I love you.” 

        At your baptism, God said, “You are my child.  I love you!”  Every day you are alive God finds ways to say to you, “I love you.”  Three small words that are probably the most powerful words of all.

        Listen to the words you say.  Underneath, are you saying, “I love you”?  Pay attention to your actions.  Do your actions say, “I love you”? 

        You have heard me ask about your words and actions before.  Perhaps you are getting tired of me asking.  So I will ask you, “Do you ever get tired of hearing that someone loves you”?

        Share your love.



Collecting stories to help us understand Black experiences in our churches

It isn’t hard to rhyme off statistics that show racism is alive and well. For example, third-generation Black Canadians make about $32,000 a year compared with the $48,000 earned by those who aren’t a visible minority. While 94 percent of young Black Canadians want to complete a university degree, just 60 percent think it is possible. And Black Canadians are more likely than any other racial group in Canada to be the victims of hate crime, perhaps not surprising considering the last segregated school in Canada didn’t shut its doors until 1983.

February is Black History Month. Since 1996, Canadians have set aside this time to recognize the realities faced by people of African descent and honour their contributions.

It’s the perfect month to make this announcement:

Thanks to support through Mission & Service and the United Church Foundation, six young Black adults will begin to collect stories from Black church members about their experiences in the church as well as their knowledge of Black church history. This fall, they will facilitate online gatherings to share learnings. The project runs through December 2021.

“Hopefully, the young adults will gather prophetic stories that help us understand Black experiences in our churches. The aim isn’t so much to identify what we do wrong. It’s not about blame. It’s about hearing the experiences and asking ourselves ‘Where do we go from here?’” says Emo Yango, who works in the United Church’s Communities in Mission unit. Yango adds that one of the aspects of the project he finds exciting is building leaders. “We lack resources from Black voices, especially younger ones. We are building leaders. These leaders will help us live into our commitment to become an anti-racist church.”

Church members who would like to share their experiences or learn more about the project can contact Emo Yango.

Becoming anti-racist is an ongoing journey of transformation. Your gifts through Mission & Service help us take vital steps forward. Thank you for helping to build stronger Christian communities and a better world.


O Holy Spirit, shine your brilliance on these words of ancient scripture and on us now.  May your message for us this day, this month, this season, this year be made known in our minds and grown in our hearts and shown in our lives.  In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17

Today’s reading is the conclusion to the flood story. Because of human sin, God destroys the earth by flood, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Yet divine destruction gives way to divine commitment. As in the first creation, God blesses humanity and establishes a covenant with all creatures.

8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

  • Psalm 25:1-10

Your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Ps. 25:10)

1To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame,
  nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame;
  rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. R
5Lead me in your truth and teach me,
  for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
  remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and upright, O Lord; therefore you teach sinners in your way. R
9You lead the lowly in justice and teach the lowly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness
  to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies. R

  • Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22

As God acted through Christ’s suffering and death to bring us to God, so God acts through baptism to save us from a sinful existence. This spiritual cleansing marks our new life in Christ.

18Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

  • Gospel: Mark 1:9-15

The Spirit that comes upon Jesus at his baptism sustains him when he is tested by Satan so that he might proclaim the good news of God’s reign.

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”


When I was a child, I was the self-appointed body-guard for the underdogs of the school yard.  I was taller than the others, and feisty, so no one messed with me or anyone under my protection.

In university, I attended the trial of a friend’s step-father.  He had molested her for years.  I sat where she could see me and see my nods of encouragement.  I stood beside her in the courthouse hallway in case her step-father decided to try to get to her.  No longer the tallest, I was still feisty and physically strong.

In my first parish, I was told by my chairperson, whose opinions I had crossed on occasion, that I intimidated people just by walking into a room.  Now, if Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement is correct, that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, and all I did was walk into a room, then I ask the question of that chairperson – “Whose issue is it?” 

I may have mellowed somewhat over the years, yet when the Holy Spirit desires me to get involved in a situation – and in some cases, like Jesus, gives me a mighty SHOVE – that scrappy 7-year-old comes to the fore!  I stand before the vulnerable and do not give up.  Think Keanu Reeves in The Matrix and his “bring it on!” hand gesture!

My point in sharing these situations is to impress upon you that even as a child, I did not shy away from confrontation.  I didn’t like confrontation, yet I knew that facing things head on was better than turning my back.  From today’s reading from the gospel of Mark, so did the Spirit, and so did Jesus.

In Mark, everything happens “immediately” at a furious speed.  The instant he is baptized, Jesus is shoved, driven into the desert by the Spirit.  Apparently, the Spirit does not need to say “please”.  Jesus’ ministry begins with confrontation, and lots of it!

And what’s up with the wild animals?  Odd, one does not get the sense of confrontation with the animals.  From Mark’s brief description, it sounds as if they are a comfort to Jesus.  A means to “come down” after being tempted by Satan for who knows how long.

How draining is it, really, to be tempted by Satan for forty days?  My guess is that if the wild animals are offering companionship and the angels are waiting on him, one could conclude that for Jesus, confronting Satan is exhausting work!

So why does the Spirit punt Jesus into the wilderness when he is barely dry from exiting the Jordan river after his baptism, if he even got that far?

Like Jesus, it is through our baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit.  Like Jesus, life confronts us, without our permission, with challenges, some that leave us wondering if God has left the building!  Like Jesus, we discover unexpected allies in the world that remind us that God is definitely present – not only present, nurturing us through the loving acts of others.

The biggest take away from this two-sentence summary of Jesus being tempted by Satan, is that we know Jesus will understand us completely because he gets it.  He’s been there! Jesus has street cred.  He also knows that God never leaves, and that is something we can hold on to.

It is with confidence that Jesus begins his public ministry.  After forty days in the wilderness overcoming temptation, taking comfort from the wild side of God’s creatures and experiencing the nurturing presence of God, Jesus knows what repentance means – turning around to face God and absorbing the love, compassion and Spirit that emanates from the Almighty!  Who wouldn’t want that!

It began with his baptism; Water, Word, Spirit.

It was communicated by a voice; Son, Beloved, Well Pleased.

It was experienced through God’s creatures and messengers.

It continued until death, and then beyond into new life.

It is Lent.  We share the journey.  God is here.


HYMN OF THE MONTH     Lord, I Lift Your Name On High (sung twice)


Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.

In Jesus your realm has come near to us in every place and time. Give your church throughout the world a spirit of humility and repentance; teach us to trust always in the good news of your salvation. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You have made a covenant of mercy with every living creature. Protect all the earth’s creatures from destruction. Empower the work of biologists, conservationists, and science educators. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

All your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness. Direct the words and actions of leaders in our community and throughout the world, that they may maintain justice for the lowly. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Even in the wilderness you are with us. Walk alongside migrants and refugees crossing dangerous lands. Tend to those whose lives feel desolate. Give healing and strength to all who suffer especially Glenda Funk and family; David Anderson; Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn, Douglas, Debbie, Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange, Matthew Grossman, Gordon Fulford, Jennifer & family; Lorraine & Walter Pokrant; Evelyn Watt; for all those infected with the corona virus, or whose loved ones have died because of it; that God console all who suffer and support caregivers who attend to all in need.   Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

In the covenant of baptism you claim us as beloved children. Nurture us in our baptismal identity and teach us to live within it for the sake of others. Strengthen this congregation’s ministries of care and concern. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

In baptism you join us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We praise you for all those who have died trusting in your faithfulness. Bring us with them to the fullness of your reign. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.





Go from this time of worship with the old songs in your minds, and a new song in your hearts.

Go from this time knowing that every song you need is within you and around you.

Go into the world to bring the song that the world longs to sing.

Go, and may the everlasting song go with you, now and always.

(Sending by Thérèse Samuel, 2020, written for Grace United Church, Thornbury, Ontario)


SENDING SONG  VU 560  O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee

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