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.


Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.

~Frederick Buechner


Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship? When a teenager spends $200 on the world’s coolest sunglasses is it the time to comment on the foolishness of the purchase or to simply smile and nod? May the people of Corinth eat meat sacrificed to idols? Paul seems to suggest that it does not really matter where the meat comes from. What matters is how the people you care about feel about that meat. Will it challenge their faith? Will it become a stumbling block to the weak? Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship?

This theme continues in the gospel. The laws prohibiting work on the sabbath carry deep meaning for many people of faith, and yet on this sabbath Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit and frees a man. Jesus chooses to care for the man and to free him, rather than worry over the details of the law. In this instance Jesus is not condemned for his choice, as he will be later. But his fame begins to spread throughout the region. That too will later prove dangerous, yet it is also a sign of the evangelical nature of the faith. This is not a private faith, held closely and kept hidden. Rather it is an outgoing faith spread from person to person throughout the world.

To this day people continue to place barriers and restrictions on the faith. Congregations do this in intentional ways, for example, by setting a minimum age for receiving holy communion. The benefits of these restrictions can be debated, but at least they are chosen intentionally. Churches also create unintentional barriers. Consider the clothes people wear to church each Sunday. Are many people wearing suits and ties? Do you see blue jeans? Do people wear shorts in the summer? What are some of the ways people might be kept from a relationship with Jesus by the barriers we create?


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.

God of all creation, as we journey together, we pray for healing, forgiveness and unity, creating a path of good will, with justice and compassion.

Jesus, through the power of your love, you have given us the courage, wisdom and strength to share our gifts and talents in humility. In peace and understanding we reconcile with each other.

Creator Spirit, we come together in prayer and thanksgiving for the many blessings we have received. Allow your Spirit to wash over us and give us strength to walk together as one. Amen.

This Reconciliation Church prayer was written by a small group of Aboriginal Elder women and Reconciliation Church staff members in 2014.

CALL TO WORSHIP – By Nancy C. Townley

Come to worship this day. Bring with you all your joys and sorrows.
Jesus will offer hope.

Come to worship this day believing in the power of God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus will bring us healing.

Come to worship this day feeling the presence of God.

Jesus will teach us new ways to live. AMEN!

CHILDREN’S SONG:   VU 570  Jesus Hands Were Kind Hands


Compassionate God, you gather the whole universe into your radiant presence and continually reveal your Son as our Savior. Bring wholeness to all that is broken and speak truth to us in our confusion, that all creation will see and know your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.


How do we share good news?  Well, we phone people, all excited, and tell them what is happening!  Or we Face Time, or tell them in person, or send an email or text.

How did people in Jesus’ day share good news?  People attended the Synagogue and would share their news in person, or they would travel to the community where their relatives lived – and tell them in person.  Or, they would write a letter and someone else, travelling to the same place, would be paid to deliver the letter.

What matters is not the way the good news is shared, rather, that the good news is shared!!  The love Jesus has for each of us is too good not to share!  So, if someone is having a bad day and you give them a hug and say, “I love you”, you are also telling them that Jesus loves them.  In fact, it is helpful to actually say, “Jesus loves you” because some people have been mistreated in life to the point that they believe they are so bad that Jesus couldn’t possibly love them!

Bottom line, the best way to tell people the good news that Jesus loves them, is to love people with your own heart.  Be kind, be respectful, be helpful, be loving, and people will see Jesus in you and know that they are loved.

CANADIAN LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF:  Uganda | Working toward a brighter future

Joyce Angeyo’s family of twelve was forced to flee when war came to their community in South Sudan. Her parents were small-scale farmers who grew crops to help their ten children pay school fees. The conflict made it impossible for them to transport their crops, and soldiers regularly disrupted Joyce’s studies when they showed up at her school. The family fled to neighbouring Uganda and took refuge in the Palabek settlement when Joyce was in fifth grade. One of her brothers was killed on the way.

With your support, CLWR has been working in partnership with Lutheran World Federation – Uganda to provide emergency protection and livelihood assistance to refugees and their host communities in Uganda. The project also offers vocational training to refugee youth.

Joyce, now 18 years old, is an active participant in many of the trainings offered. “The trainers at the youth centre taught us how to make liquid soap and cake, and my family members benefit because I share with them the skills I get from here… my mother buys ingredients, and we make cakes at home. She learns, and even our neighbours come and learn from us,” she said, “…I used to beg my parents to buy educational materials like books, but with this project, I have the skills to make liquid soap to purchase scholastic materials and clothes.”

HYMN:  VU 315 Holy, Holy, Holy


Gracious God, give us humble, teachable, and obedient hearts, that we may receive what you have revealed, and do what you have commanded. Amen.


First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Today’s reading is part of a longer discourse in Deuteronomy, an updating of the law for the Israelite community as the people wait to enter the promised land. Here Moses assures the people that God will continue to guide them through prophets who will proclaim the divine word.

 15The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

Psalm 111

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Ps. 111:10)

1Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are your works, O Lord, pondered by all who delight in them.

3Majesty and splendor mark your deeds, and your righteousness endures forever.

4You cause your wonders to be remembered; you are gracious and full of compassion. R
5You give food to those who fear you, remembering forever your covenant.

6You have shown your people the power of your works in giving them the lands of the nations.
7The works of your hands are faithfulness and justice; all of your precepts are sure.

8They stand fast forever and ever, because they are done in truth and equity. R

9You sent redemption to your people and commanded your covenant forever; holy and awesome is your name.
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice this have a good understanding. God’s praise endures forever. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Paul is concerned about the way some Corinthian Christians use their freedom in Christ as license to engage in non-Christian behavior that sets a damaging example to other, impressionable believers. Christians have a responsibility to each other that their behavior does not cause another to sin.

1Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3but anyone who loves God is known by him.

4Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8“Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Forces that would bring death and disease have taken hold of a man, yet they recognize Jesus and know what his power means for them. Jesus commands these forces to leave and people are amazed at his authority.

21 went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

HYMN:  VU 364  Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive


Frederick Buechner writes the following:

Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.

And that, in a nutshell, is the summary of the situation Jesus deals with in the synagogue in our gospel text.  The love of Jesus has power over the unclean spirit and commands it to leave the stricken victim.  This love speaks to the individual who, once the barrier to being loved completely is gone, opens their heart to receive unconditional love.  Healing occurs.

Mark’s gospel is edgier than the others.  There is a sense of urgency, of power being barely reigned in as it strains to bring that power and love of God into the world.

Rev. Matt Skinner, Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, writes the following of Mark’s gospel:

Mark depicts Jesus as the one uniquely authorized, commissioned, or empowered to declare and institute the reign of God. Through Jesus, then, we glimpse characteristics of this reign. It is intrusive, breaking old boundaries that benefited another kind of rule. It is about liberating people from the powers that afflict them and keep all creation — including human bodies and human societies — from flourishing. It is about articulating God’s intentions for the world, defying or reconfiguring some traditions to do so, if need be.[1]

Apparently, telling unclean spirits to take a hike is one of those characteristics.  What a potent start to Jesus’ public ministry!

I find it an interesting comment on life that this person with the unclean spirit was a member of the congregation attending worship that sabbath morning.  Are we shocked that someone possessed would be free to stand in a holy place?  We shouldn’t be.  The reality as to why we attend worship in this space is not because we have to, not because we feel duty-bound, not because we will fry in hell if we don’t, not to please our relatives or get bonus points from God.  We attend worship for the simple fact that we need God, and we need each other.  We are not perfect.  We are broken in ways we may not realize.  We desire to be loved unconditionally.  We are made of body, mind and soul, much as society would like to deny the soul part, and our soul needs the connection.

What was it about that individual’s life that left open the opportunity for the unclean spirit to insert itself?  What need was being blocked so that possession, rather than healing, was the result?  Up until Jesus’ presence, there is no indication that anyone else in the congregation was wise to the fact that the person beside whom they were standing was possessed by an unclean spirit.  They could have been possessed for months, maybe even years!  If that isn’t a disturbing thought, I don’t know what is.

Again, we should not be surprised at this situation.  Our news headlines inform us every day of people who slide off the rails, who seem possessed by unclean spirits yet who are, at their core, hurting, broken people lashing out at the world from a place of pain, fighting having their shadow side exposed, self-destructing to save face rather than facing their demons and finding healing.  Some of them even attend worship…

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus isn’t your best friend.  Jesus knows everything about you, even down to the core of your character, as you sit, like Nathaniel, under a tree at the far corner of the school yard.  Worse yet, Jesus will inform you that he knows who you really are – the good, the bad and the “Please God, don’t let anyone find out about this” parts of you– and then, Jesus will want you to follow him and help him perform miracles.  Talk about an intense relationship!  In Mark’s gospel, there are no casual acquaintances with Jesus.  It is all or nothing, and once you experience the all, you don’t want the nothing because that is like death.  To be fully embraced and engaged in a relationship with Jesus is so amazing that life without Jesus is the disciples’ Good Friday experience.

Mark’s Jesus is every church council and board’s worst nightmare.  The power of Jesus is intrusive. It demands change.  Jesus’ power insists on liberation, inclusivity, justice, openness, unconditional love.  In short, Jesus wants the church to reform.  Change implies short term solutions.  Reformation is an ongoing action.  The church needs to reform as each generation comes into its own with its own foci, challenges, inspirations and struggles, all of which may show up in the sanctuary on Sunday morning!

Within the first six months of my ministry, I learned a deep, critical truth:  if I died that day, Christ’s Church would carry on tomorrow.  The Church isn’t about me.  It is about Christ and Christ’s unconditional love, power, intrusiveness and healing.  It is also about my invitation from Jesus to follow him, to confront the unclean spirits in whatever form or title they take, be they in the building, community, nation or world.  Rooted in my relationship with Jesus, I am given the power to call out that which oppresses and help work to liberate and heal.

No, we should not be surprised that this encounter took place in the synagogue.  Religious institutions have been places of oppression, division, shame, judgment, and exclusion for millennia.  Which is why Mark’s gospel is so needed.  We need to be reminded that Jesus’ power is real.  Unconditional love is real.  Healing is real.  Our call to follow is real.

Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.

May we all have the courage to say “yes” to the call of Christ every day and discover the relationship we never thought possible!  Amen.

HOM:  MV 33   Jesus Came Bringing Us Hope


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

Loving God, we pray that your example of teaching with confidence and authority builds up your church in love. May all church leaders and teachers honor your instruction and model your inclusive ways. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Renewing God, we pray for all of creation, that waterways flow clean and clear, natural spaces are protected, and our planet is healed. Let us commit to thoughtful care of the earth. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Justice-seeking God, we pray for those in government and community leadership, that they lead with honor and mindfulness. May they remember their covenants and be upright in their ways. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Compassionate God, we pray for all in need, especially those who have known rejection, any who struggle with long-term illness or chronic pain, those without access to safe housing or health care, and any who suffer. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Still-speaking God, we pray for our congregation, for its artists and musicians, for its educators and caregivers, that all gifts are used to care for those in need and to live out your example of accompaniment, gospel witness, and love. God of grace,

receive our prayer.

Eternal God, we remember all who have been teachers, mentors, and companions in the church and in our lives. We trust that all who have died rest in your loving care. 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:   MV 145  Draw The Circle Wide


As you go from this place, may God bless you with open hearts to recognize the gifts and graces in one another and in your neighbors, open minds ready to dream with the Spirit, and open doors ready to welcome the reign of God’s love right here and right now. Amen.

~ Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries,  August 2023.




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