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:  Fishing So Others Can Have a Meal, by Charmain BaileyCharmain is a diaconal student minister serving at Bedford and Central United Churches in Windsor, Ontario.


“Everything in Scripture is either preparation for the Gospel, presentation of the Gospel, or participation in the Gospel.”

― Dave Harvey


The fifth Sunday after Epiphany continues to highlight unlikely instruments and circumstances appointed to reveal God’s glory. “Who will go for us?” God asks. A person of unclean lips, a former persecutor of the church of God, and three fishermen who couldn’t catch a thing. More surprising still, perhaps, is that we are also called.


We come to worship today determined to follow the Christ

who calls us to a new understanding of fishing.

We come to worship with open hearts and minds

and a soul ablaze for justice and equality.

We come to meet God and each other.

Let us worship in love and understanding.

CHILDREN’S SONG:   MV 113  Jesus Saw Them Fishing


God of love, we come today celebrating Black History Month. As we gather, we ask you to come to us now as your Son came to those first disciples on the lakeshore, calling them into a Beloved Community of love and justice. We pray for your Spirit’s presence calling us to the same. Speak your peace and understanding to our hearts. Reveal yourself to us as we seek ways to sincerely worship together. May our celebration bring a new sense of unity, binding us together in your love.  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.


     In the Bible story from Luke today, Jesus ends up in Simon Peter’s boat, a little way off the shore, so that his voice carries over the water to the people who have come to listen.  Afterwards, Jesus tells Simon to drop his fishing net in deep water.  Simon says he already did, and didn’t catch anything.  However, just to please Jesus, Simon drops the net, and…WOW, there are so many fish, the net is starting to tear!  Simon calls for help from his friends, and both boats end up so full of fish, they are sitting low in the water!

     Simon realizes that Jesus is a holy person.  He feels unworthy of being in Jesus’ presence.  Jesus tells Simon that from now on, we will be catching people instead of fish.  That is how Simon became Jesus’ disciple.

     There were 12 disciples.  This is good, because the amount of work they had to do, the people they needed to talk to, heal, give hope to, was so great that they needed to help each other.  When we work together, we can accomplish amazing things…

     Take this picture, for example.  Here are men moving a barn.  Yes, you are seeing correctly.  If you want to know what amazing things can happen when you work together with others, just remember this picture, and remember that with God, all things are possible!

     The disciples were not perfect people.  They had a lot of struggles.  Yet Jesus saw the goodness in them, saw how much they loved people, how devoted they were to God, and because of Jesus’ love, they became the ones who started the Christian Church – which is bigger than a barn and was begun with a lot less people!

     So that is why it is important to worship together.  Together we look to see where people are in need and with help from our faith family, we can help others!    And, we are never alone, because the Holy Spirit will be with us to guide us and give us spiritual strength.  Thank you, Jesus!


Choosing the Lesser Evil

Your gifts through Mission & Service support the creation of important faith resources.

Have you ever had to make a decision knowing that all of the choices in front of you felt wrong somehow? As if you were caught between a rock and a hard place? Regardless of how righteous we might feel about our decisions, we choose evils every day, hoping that we are choosing the lesser ones.

The United Church’s Lenten book and study guide Lesser Evils, published by United Church Publishing House, explores everyday dilemmas of seeking the good while choosing the lesser evil from a Christian perspective. This collection of devotions challenges all followers of Jesus to faithfully attempt to do and seek good in our actions and choices.

“We confront dilemmas every day: Do I wear this mask? Do we close in-person gatherings? Do I take this parking space? People are trying to work for good. There are a lot of holier than thou judgements going on these days. We wanted to write about making tough decisions. What’s hopeful about this book is the faithfulness of the struggle,” says editor Alydia Smith.

Your generosity through Mission & Service helps deepen faith by lowering the cost of important faith resources such as Lesser Evils and the accompanying book study webinar. Hosted online through United In Learning, the study runs every Tuesday at 1 pm ET from March 8 to April 12, 2022.

“What does it mean to be Christian in this time when we don’t always feel good about the many choices before us?” says Smith. “When systems are broken and we are in those systems, how do we deal with it? Lesser Evils is really for all of us coping with uncertainty. This book is about being faithful while wrestling with what’s best.”


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: Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]

Through a vision in the temple, the eighth-century prophet Isaiah is called by God to announce judgment against Israel. Aware of his sinfulness and shortcomings, Isaiah is initially hesitant. But when God calls, Isaiah responds, “Here am I; send me!”

1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said:

 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

 the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

  6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” 9And he said, “Go and say to this people:

 ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’

10Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes,

 so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears,

 and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.”

11Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:  “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant,

 and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate;

12until the Lord sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.

13Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again,

 like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled.”

 The holy seed is its stump.

Psalm 138

R:  I will bow down toward your holy temple. (Ps. 138:2)

1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness; for you have glorified your name and your word above all things. R

3When I called, you | answered me; you increased my strength within me.

4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord, when they have heard the words of your mouth.
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord.

6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly, perceiving the haughty from afar. R

7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.

8You will make good your purpose for me; O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul delivers in a nutshell the story of the gospel that was given to him. In the lineage of the Christian faith, we have received the good news of God’s love from generations of believers before us, and we continue to tell this story to the world.

1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

  3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Gospel: Luke 5:1-11

Jesus’ teaching of God’s word has begun to draw great crowds. For Simon, James, and John, Jesus’ teaching inspires hospitality, then obedience, and then risk. After Jesus’ creative power is revealed, fear and amazement leads these three fishermen to leave everything behind to become apostles.

1Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.


SONG:  WOV 784   You Have Come Down To The Lakeshore


I read to you Charmain’s sermon in her service for Black History Month, Fishing So Others Can Have A Meal.  I have changed her scripture quotations to the New Revised Standard Version translation.

At the King Center in Atlanta, across the pool in which the crypts of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King are pedestaled, sits a stand that showcases the splendour of the Eternal Flame. The Eternal Flame, which dances 24/7, symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King’s dream of the “Beloved Community,” a vision for a world of justice, peace, and equality for everyone everywhere. And if you visit the King Center at night, the Eternal Flame would draw your eye in a magical way, summoning you to it, perhaps as way to call you to prayer, to kindle hope within you, that our world could indeed unite into one Beloved Community of love, kindness, respect, fairness, and justice.

All people of the world, and especially people of African descent, yearn for this world that Dr. King imagined and ultimately sacrificed his life for. What would it be like to live in one Beloved Community?

There’s an eighties song, “Eternal Flame,” by the band The Bangles that shares its title with Dr. King’s alluring fire monument. The writer invites a partner to explore a world with her, a world that is passionate and filled with love and excitement and mutual understanding. A world for lovers.

This is perhaps a little romanticized to what Black people are seeking and what Dr. King was envisioning in his longing for a Beloved Community. But still, many parts of this one verse ring true. People of African descent distressingly wonder quite often “Do you see us?”, “Do you feel us?”, “Do you understand the suffering we endure that oftentimes feel like it’s never ending?” “Are you able to imagine my pain, will you stand with me, are you willing to be partners in a Beloved Community?”

In our scripture today we read of Jesus’ first encounter with and introduction to Peter. Jesus was being pressed upon by a large crowd that gathered to hear him preach, and at the water’s edge he decided that it may be best to borrow one of the boats to speak from, to possibly gain a better vantage point to speak to the people, and also as a place to sit as he preached.

The borrowed boat belonged to Simon Peter, and perhaps out of gratitude, Jesus wanted to gift the weary fisherman. He suggested that Peter put the boat back out into deep water, but Peter thought it was pretty pointless, considering he had fished all night long and yielded nothing, yet Peter decided to humour Jesus. He took the boat out and lowered his nets, and whoa! Verse 6 of our texts says that so many fish were caught that the nets were unable to hold the multitude of them and the nets began to break. What a wonderful problem for a fisherman to have.

But it’s the next verse that is extremely applicable to our theme today of creating a Beloved Community. Verse 7: “7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.”

A Beloved Community cannot be created without partnerships. In the coastal villages of Gambia, West Africa, many fishers need to form alliances when fish is scarce. They often combine their nets to cover a larger area to secure as many fish as possible, then they split the catch at the end of the trip. It’s a successful fishing strategy that enables each fisher to make a little money or at least feed their family.

Partnerships are necessary for survival. Partnerships between people of other races, backgrounds, and cultures are necessary for the survival of each other, and for the progress of our world, to combat things that would destroy us all. This world pandemic that we’re just wading out of comes to mind. World scientists have had to work together and share data to properly understand the virus and to come up with ways and measures to control it.

We also have seen governments of the developed world share vaccines with the developing world nations because it is evident that no country could declare 100 percent victory over the virus unless it is eradicated from every corner of the earth. A Beloved World Community requires partnerships.

Peter’s call for help from the other fishing boat was to ensure that his nets did not break all the way through from the weight of the big haul. People of African descent have been in Peter’s boat more times than can be counted. Bodies and minds have felt the pressure in nets that are too full of debilitating systemic racism. The rips and tears in the nets are the rips and tears in communities struggling to breathe and struggling for basic fairness and justice.

Members of a Beloved Community are called to help to secure the nets so they do not break all the way through and are totally destroyed. Beloved Community members are called to take some weight off the boat so it does not capsize. And when the load is eased and the boat is stabilized, the Beloved Community is summoned to participate in the mending of the broken nets.

Peter also wanted to share his bounty. What good was it to benefit from that amazing gift from Jesus and not share it with the others? What does sharing the bounty of Jesus look like?

In Windsor, Ontario, right on the Canadian/American border, from spring to fall, hundreds of people gather daily to fish from the beautiful Detroit River. The bounty of the Detroit River consists of a diversity of fish, which includes whitefish, sturgeon, silver bass, perch, northern pike, walleye, and countless others. But there is a phenomenal Beloved Community that is being fostered by fishing along the Detroit River.

Many of the people along the river fish for sport to try to capture the biggest and most elusive of the river fish, and they use a catch and release system. Then there came a growing realization that many others who fish the river do so out of necessity. Low-income and homeless members of the community stand along the river day after day, trying to catch as much as they can, in an attempt to address their food insecurity.

Over time, the focus of the folks who primarily fish for sport shifted from trying to catch the biggest fish to catching as many fish as possible to fill the coolers of the folks who fish for food security. It’s a beautiful example of how members of a Beloved Community work to care for each other in the securing and sharing of bounty.

It is also an interesting twist of how we could think of the phrase “catching people.” In this Beloved Community in Windsor, Ontario, along the Detroit River, “catching people” is simply about fishing so others can have a meal.

Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community was one for a world of justice, peace, and equality for everyone everywhere, and the Eternal Flame at the Center blazes to maintain hope in the hearts of everyone, that his vision could be realized. This is Epiphany’s light, guiding us into Black History Month. May we all celebrate as a united Beloved Community.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH: MV 172   God Says


God of all, we come in prayer today in this time of celebration to give you thanks. We thank you for the spirit of a people who bring the world to life in many ways, and whose spirit pushes through crippling oppression and adversities. We give thanks that we get to be in community with each other, where we celebrate together in your glory.

Help us be a Beloved Community,

our God of love and grace.

We pray for African refugees everywhere struggling to get to a place of safety and security. We pray for wrongly and unfairly sentenced imprisoned Black people who have fallen prey to an unjust system. We pray along with their families, seeking justice and resolution. We pray for your people, who are still struggling to breathe, and we ask you for courage and compassion to be allies, not just for one day or one month but ongoing, honouring our call to follow Jesus in a commitment to love.

Help us be a Beloved Community,

our God of love and grace.

Your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon those who look to you for hope and healing. Bless doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and all caregivers. Draw near to those who are scared, sick, or in pain.  We lift up before you Grant Klassen and his family as they grieve the death of their mother, Douglas Pearson, Tracy Skoglund, Mike Fraese, Dwayne, Phyllis, Alice Pomrenke, Brooke Alexiuk, Kathryn Janke Schmidt.

Help us be a Beloved Community,

our God of love and grace.

We thank you for all people everywhere who carry an eternal flame of hope and who urge us to believe and participate in a vision of a united Beloved Community. It’s a beautiful community, O God, and it is possible through the workings of your Spirit. We give thanks in the name of Jesus.  Amen.


SENDING SONG:  VU 509   I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky


Go now, to seek a place in a Beloved Community, where all people are known and acknowledged, where partners and allies can be found, where all people work toward love, fairness, and understanding.
Go with the hope of Jesus, and Martin Luther King, that this community is possible and all it needs is you.

Go with celebration in your hearts for Black peoples. 

Go now in peace.  Amen.




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