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 of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.

Parts of this service are taken from Marking the Legacy of Slavery in Canada and the British Commonwealth.  Theme: All Are Made in the Image of God.  Written by the Rev. Paul Douglas Walfall, First United Church, Fort Saskatchewan, AB


“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.”

Mary McLeod Bethune, political activist and educator


When Jesus heals us, we are empowered to serve others. While at first glance it might seem that Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was self-serving, on further reflection we see the same result in nearly all of his signs and miracles. The object of Jesus’ compassion now has new responsibilities. In the very next chapter a paralytic lowered through the ceiling is raised, only to become the center of a religious controversy (Mark 2:3-12), as was the man who lay by the pool of Bethzatha for thirty-eight years (John 5:2-15). When Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:35-41) the disciples have to row the rest of the way! Any meaningful encounter with Jesus will result in our being changed, which in turn alters the way we see our relationship to the needs of others and the world.

Hard economic times, natural disasters, and divisive, party strife can make us feel helpless and hopeless, as if we have been abandoned by God. Even the church—local congregations as well as denominations—may feel fear and panic in the face of declining numbers and revenues, loss of loyalty from members, indifference or hostility from the surrounding culture, and internal sniping among factions. The exiled people of Israel in Babylon experienced all of this and more, so our condition is neither unique nor beyond the reach of our God. Isaiah 40:21-31 in the NRSV begins “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates this idea as “Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening?” There is some irony indeed that God’s church, entrusted with God’s salvation history and the gospel, still panics, still doubts and worries, still feels like it is up to us to save the church. We indeed are “clay jars” (2 Cor. 4:7)—carrying the message but not understanding, preaching salvation but not believing that God cares or will act to save. We live Isaiah 40 every day.


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.

Great God, we pause at the beginning of this gathering to praise and acknowledge You as our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. We are grateful for the earth you have created that nourishes us. We are grateful for the responsibility you have given us to tend and care for creation. We acknowledge we are related to the earth and all its many creatures with inseparable lines of connection.

We give thanks to You, God our Creator, for this land, and to those peoples who have stewarded this land for generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and worship here, as we witness the reconciling movement of the Spirit. We commit to engage in listening, learning and acting to live into right relations with Indigenous peoples and all of creation. Amen.

     Bibliography: ‘#878 Land Acknowledgement’. In Voices Together. Harrisonburg, Virginia: MennoMedia, 2020.


With what shall we come before our God?
God has already told us what is good.
Shall we come with gifts and offerings?
God wants us to do justice.
What does the Lord require of us?
God wants us to love kindness.
What does the Lord require of us?
God wants us to walk humbly with God.
Come then, let us worship God.

CHILDREN’S SONG:   VU 357  Tell Me The Stories of Jesus


Hear us Holy One:

You created all human beings in your image and likeness. You have stamped each human person with a unique specialness, and all persons bear your image.

Through that image you call on us to reflect your goodness, justice, and love to all the world. Remind us that when we speak out for justice, mercy, and compassion we are displaying the attributes we find in you.

As we come to offer to you what we believe you are worth, show us how to display you in everything we do. Show us how to respect your image in all human beings. Help us to defend your image that is found in all human beings.  Amen.


I have shrunk.  A whole 2 inches!  Sad, I know.  Not only that, I now have arthritis in my ankles, so I can’t stand on the balls of my feet to make myself taller to reach for something on the pantry shelf.  Very frustrating.  That is, until I bought my grabber thingy!

You have seen them, I am sure.  A moveable handle attached to a pole at the end of which is pincers to grab items when you squeeze the handle.  You know…a grabber thingy!

Now I can grab that can of green beans off the top shelf without having to get my step ladder.  My grabber thingy has made my life much easier and less painful.  I am grateful I found it.

Friends and family are great for making life easier and less painful.  Not just to get cans of green beans off the top shelf, but to get a hug when I am feeling sad, to loan me a car when mine is getting fixed, to visit me when I am lonely, to pray with me and for me when I need God’s help

No doubt about it, family and friends make life better and less painful.  I am grateful to have them.  Thank you God!

MISSION & SERVICE:  Lessons of Racism Learned When Young

The following is an excerpt from a blog written by Adele Halliday. Your Mission and Service gifts support anti-racism programs and initiatives like the ones Halliday develops as the United Church’s Anti-Racism and Equity Lead to help all of us be in deeper, more equitable relationships with one another.

The name calling started when she was about three years old. They were racial slurs, and names, and taunts. My child, my own flesh and blood, was being ostracized for having Black skin. The people slinging the insults? Other children on the playground….

She may not have necessarily always understood the particular terms that they used, but she knew that they were related to her Blackness and her racial identity. And this deeply wounded her tender heart….

Despite all of our intentional modelling, teaching, and proactive actions, our child is still already developing internalized racism and inferior notions of herself.

The children who were taunting her were offering explicit and overt notions of racism, but they were children! They had not even started primary school! And yet, the children had already learned behaviour (at home, or elsewhere in society) that Whiteness is superior. And, they had the audacity to vocalize that to an innocent little child….

This is in part why I am so deeply committed to dismantling racism in all its forms—racism is damaging and destructive for all people in society. It reinforces negative notions for people of colour. I live it in a particular way because of my own racial identity, as a Black person who has lived with racial injustice my entire life.

The systemic nature of racism is something that cannot be ignored…. This effort to overcome racism is a continuous effort. And I am committed to this work for the long haul.

I hope that you will be too.

HYMN:  VU 578  As A Fire Is Meant For Burning


Draw us close, Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures are read and the Word is proclaimed. Let the word of faith be on our lips and in our hearts, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice we hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.


First Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31

The Judeans in exile have a good reason to be hopeful: the one who will bring them to freedom is the God who created the world, the God who subdues the rulers of the earth and gives strength to those who are weary.

21Have you not known? Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not

understood from the foundations of the earth?

22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches

out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; 23who brings princes to naught,

and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows

upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One.  26Lift up your eyes on high

and see:  Who created these?  He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by

name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is

disregarded by my God”?  28Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting

God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is

unsearchable.  29He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.  30Even youths will faint

and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their

strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk

and not faint.

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

The Lord heals the broken-hearted. (Ps. 147:3)

1Hallelujah!  How good it is to sing praises to our God!  How pleasant it is to honor God with praise!

2The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, and gathers the exiles of Israel. 

3The Lord heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

4The Lord counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. R 

5Great is our Lord and mighty in power; there is no limit to God’s wisdom.

6The Lord lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground. 

7Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music upon the harp to our God,

8who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth, making grass to grow

     upon the mountains. R 

9God provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they cry.

10God is not impressed by the might of a horse, and has no pleasure in the speed of a runner,

11but finds pleasure in those who fear the Lord, in those who await God’s steadfast love. 20c| Hallelujah! R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23

God entrusted Paul with the responsibility of bringing the gospel to diverse people. Hence the focus of Paul’s ministry is not his own rights or privileges as an apostle but the privilege of serving God by freely sharing the good news of Christ with others.

16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Everywhere Jesus goes, many people expect him to set them free from oppression. Everywhere he goes, he heals people and sets them free. Disease, devils, and death are running for their lives. The forces that diminish human life are rendered powerless by Jesus.

29As soon as  left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

HYMN:  VU 578  As A Fire Is Meant For Burning


Marty and I met when we both worked as table servers at the same restaurant in Calgary.  Marty loved people, and she lived to serve her customers!  Always full of energy, always wearing a beautiful smile, Marty conversed, cajoled, empathized and laughed with her customers.  She didn’t just serve food, she served up a listening ear, compassion, and a good joke, if one was needed.  Marty had a caring relationship with her regulars and stayed in tune with their lives and families as they shared their stories with her.

Marty told me that before working at the restaurant, she had managed a coffee shop.  She didn’t like being the manager because that meant spending most of her time in the office doing paperwork, when what she really wanted to do was be out on the floor serving customers!  Serving people was Marty’s calling.

This story from Mark’s gospel is not just about being freed from something, it is also about being freed for something.  That is the beauty of Jesus’ power and healing.

In a Jewish household in Jesus’ day, it was the woman of the house who had the authority in the house. It was by divine instruction that she create a Jewish Character for her family.  The hearth was the wife and mother’s domain.  It was where she educated her children in the ways of the world, cooked the kosher food that nourished her family and her guests, where she lit the candles at the evening meal on the eve of the sabbath and said the prayers.

Rabbi Nisson Dovid Dubov, writing for, states the following regarding the traditional role of the woman in the home:

It should be noted that the very Jewishness of a person is dependent on the mother. In Jewish law, if a person’s mother is Jewish, then the person is Jewish. If only the father is Jewish, but the mother is a non-Jew, then the child is not Jewish. This very fact indicates the woman’s primary role in preserving Jewish identity and values.[1]

With this knowledge and understanding, the situation with Simon’s mother-in-law takes on far deeper tones and ramifications than just her health.

Simon’s mother-in-law’s identity is intimately connected with her ability to embody the character of God in her home.  Through her attitude, the attention paid to following the Torah, honoring her guests, preparing kosher food, by her very existence, this woman proclaims her faith and inspires others to worship Yahweh.    She can’t do that if she is ill in bed.  My hunch is that in her mind she sees herself as failing in her duties, lying there, especially since Simon has brought guests through her front door! By restoring her to health, Jesus restores this woman’s dignity through her ability to serve.

Again, I quote Dubov:

What makes a Jewish household different from a non-Jewish household is that it is conducted in all its details according to the directives of the Torah. Hence the home becomes an abode for G–d’s Presence, a home for G–dliness, one of which G–d says, “Make Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:5).

     It is a home where G–d’s Presence is felt on every day of the week; and not only when engaged in prayer and learning Torah but also when engaged in very ordinary activities such as eating and drinking etc., in accordance with the directive, “Know Him in all your ways.”[2]

Jesus restores Simon’s mother-in-law from a fever and frees her for service to care for her guests and live out the Character of God.

As followers of Christ, who himself was Jewish and in turn was influenced by his mother’s living out the Character of God in their home, we, too, can claim that we strive to have our own homes and families be places and people where the Character of Christ is lived out, right down to the washing of our hands, the serving of food, and the prayers we pray.  When it comes to our faith, when it comes to service, Christian is a verb, not a noun.

Serving others can be tiring as much as it is invigorating.  Jesus models for us the need for solitude and prayer – even a nap!  It takes energy to actively listen, physically serve, engage in mutual silence.  We cannot serve others to the best of our ability if we ourselves are running on empty.

I appreciate that Mark has included this story in his gospel.  It shows us that Jesus was truly human, it also shows how God renews us for the task of serving others.  What we learn in the home often translates to life itself.

In my first parish, I took my confirmation class to the care home for an hour.  Their instruction was to pick one person and engage with them for the hour.

One of the students chose a woman who had dementia.  She was able to share some thoughts, but for the most part, this student held her hand and listened to gibberish the entire time.  Still, he smiled at her, looked at her, engaged her for the full hour.  It was not an easy hour or an easy interaction.  I commended him for making the effort to respond to her and make eye contact.

This student was raised by parents who were loving, caring, respectful, compassionate and generous –   they lived out the Character of Christ.

Years later, this same student would marry one of my other confirmation students, and celebrate the birth of their first child – a daughter with severe cerebral palsy who, sadly, would live to be only eight years of age.  These young parents lived out the Character of Christ.  They loved their child unconditionally, held her, smiled at her, talked to her, looked her in the eye and said, “I love you”.

Simon’s mother-in-law was taught by her mother the importance of living the Character of God.  She, in turn, taught her daughter the importance of living the Character of God.  Jesus, having also received the same instruction from his mother, did not hesitate to heal Simon’s mother-in-law and restore her to her rightful place in her household.  He freed her from the bondage of illness in order to free her to serve.

Christ has done the same for us.  Christ frees us from anything that holds us down, impedes us from connecting with God, and free us to serve others.  When we serve others, we, too, are freeing them to serve.

Thanks be to Christ!  Amen.

HOM:  MV 71  When The Wind of Winter Blows


As we celebrate Christ embodied in human form, we pray for God’s blessing on the church, the world, and all of creation.

Everlasting God, you bring your healing power to the church. Give your church a spirit of unity and prayer, that we discern your way for us in the world. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Creator of the ends of the earth, you make the grass grow and send rain for the soil. Bring your creation into harmony and balance. Give animals their food and provide healthy shelter for your people. Inspire us to honor the miraculous beauty of all you have made. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

God without equal, your steadfast love endures forever. Bring the leaders, elected officials, and peacekeepers of our towns and countries into understanding and unity. Guide them to serve with compassion and understanding. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

God who strengthens, you lift up with your hand any who are suffering. Heal those who are broken-hearted and strengthen the weak and all in need. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

God who gives power to the faint, challenge us to share the faith stories of what God has done in our lives. Open us to receive the unique ways God is at work in your people, especially those whose perspectives challenge our own. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

God who calls each star by name, we remember all who have died. Shelter all who mourn with your mercy and care, and give us hope in your promised salvation. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Knowing the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, we offer these prayers and the silent prayers of our hearts in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.



SENDING SONG:   VU 644  Borning Cry


In a world where we have, in the past, enslaved and dehumanized others,

we go to treat each person with dignity and respect.

In a world where profit is valued more than human life,

we go to proclaim the priceless worth of each person.

In a world where the ugliness of racism and White supremacy is found,

we go to show that love conquers all social ills.

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; repay no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour everyone; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.




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[2] Ibid.