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 On Eagle’s Wings:  A Service for Black History Month.

Charmain Bailey Foutner is a student diaconal minister serving in solo ministry at Bedford United Church, Windsor, ON.


Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

~Arthur Conan Doyle


The glory of God is often revealed when and where it is least expected. God uses our lips to declare that glory, inexperienced and hesitant though they may be. God uses our love to demonstrate that glory and so urges us to exercise it. God uses Jesus of Nazareth, water and the word, bread and wine, to reveal God’s glory where and when God chooses. Take heed, lest the glory of God slip through our midst unnoticed.


Do you really not know…

that he is God of all in the heavens and on the earth?

Have you really not heard…
how she has brought princes to naught and oppressors to their knees?

Haven’t you already been told…
that you’re counted among the stars, and that you matter?

Do you not know, have you not heard?

We come to learn, we come for our strength to be renewed, we come in hope.


CHILDREN’S SONG:  Our God Is So Great 


Creator God, you who have called forth each star by name, we are in your presence this hour. We come before you acknowledging and celebrating the journeys of our Black siblings and cousins far and wide. We come knowing that these journeys have been met with much strife and pain, and although there have been triumphs along the way, the pain and brokenness of oppression lingers yet. But we come celebrating a people whom you have infused with a boundless faith, and whose hope in you has manifested into renewable strength and fortitude. And so we come, Creator God. Guide our worship this hour. May we not grow weary but soar on eagle’s wings as one people, bound 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.


     I drive a 2008 Crown Victoria that was a police interceptor – a cop car!  I love my car!  It is big and comfortable and goes from 0 – 100 kms an hour in under 7 seconds!  How do I know this?  I looked it up on the internet!  Fooled you!   

     My car also brakes very well.  It is a big car, so it needs room to stop, and it does so rather quickly  – for a big car.

     Some people are like cars.  They are happy and having fun, and then, bam, all of a sudden, they are angry!  It’s like they went from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye!

     Jesus was speaking to the people in his home town.  Ok, perhaps he could have phrased things differently, told them the truth more gently, but he didn’t.  At first, the people were happy to see him and eager to hear what he said.  Then, Jesus began to insult them – or so they thought.  Jesus was calling them to account for their behaviour.  They didn’t like that at all.  So they went from 0 to 100 in seconds and became an angry mob that tried to throw Jesus off a cliff!

     The truth can be a difficult thing to hear, especially when it is about ourselves.  We might feel angry that someone is telling us that our behaviour needs to change.  We might place the blame for our problems and behaviour on other people.  The truth is, we are responsible for our behaviour.  Sometimes, Jesus sends people into our lives to tell us that we are not living as Jesus wants us to live – with kindness, love and forgiveness.  Tough words to hear.  Necessary words, if we are to heal our relationship with God, and others, so that our lives are better.  That is what God’s love does.  It is brave enough to say what needs to be said, even if the other person gets angry.  God’s love is strong enough to overcome anger.  God’s love is powerful enough to love EVERYBODY!  God’s love is amazing, and will help us to love EVERYBODY too!



Dreams Are Realized Through Education

     Tamilarasi is a very bright 15-year-old from a small village in Tamil Nadu, South India. She is lucky to be able to go to school. In her village, girls her age are often pulled out of school to be married.

     Life isn’t easy. Tamilarasi’s father recently died in an accident and she is living with her mother and two other siblings. As a widow with no inheritance rights, Tamilarasi’s mother may lose their family home when her brother marries. The teenager worries about where she and her family will live in the future.

     “Our life has become a question mark now,” she writes in a thank-you letter to the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation (HRF), our Mission & Service partner. “Questions haunt me and sometimes I’m unable to sleep,” she says.

     When a representative from HRF visited Tamilarasi’s school, she gave a presentation on children’s rights to the students at a school assembly. At the assembly, Tamilarasi and other students were encouraged to stay in school and they received a backpack. “The schoolbag was of good quality and spacious enough to carry all my books and notebooks,” she wrote. “I felt very happy.”

     Offering school supplies to students makes it possible for our Mission & Service partners to help young people like Tamilarasi complete their education and stay in school.

     What’s more, with support from Gifts with Vision, the United Church’s gift catalogue, HRF provided backpacks stocked with school supplies to almost 500 Tamil Nadu children who live in poverty. Without those supplies, the children would not be able to attend or participate in classes.

     Your generosity helps students around the world pursue their dreams.

     One day, Tamilarasi wants to become a doctor. “I want to protect children like myself from diseases,” she explained. “I know I can’t afford to while away my time!”

     Thank you for making a difference by providing life-transforming advocacy and school supplies. Your support truly does help change lives.



Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10

God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet and consecrates him in the womb. Jeremiah’s task is to preach God’s word amid the difficult political realities of his time, before the Babylonian exile. He is to make God known not only to Judah, but also to the nations.

4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
 and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7But the Lord said to me,
 “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
 and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
 “Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,
 to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Psalm 71:1-6

R:  From my mother’s womb you have been my strength. (Ps. 71:6)

1In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.
2In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me.
3Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; you are my crag and my stronghold.
4Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
  from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor. R
5For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence since I was young.
6I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been      

       my strength; my praise shall be always of you. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Christians in Corinth prided themselves on their spiritual gifts. Paul reminds them that God gives us many gifts through the Holy Spirit, but the purpose behind all of them is love, the kind of love that God showed us in Jesus Christ.

1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

  8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

People in Jesus’ hometown are initially pleased when he says that God will free the oppressed. Their pleasure turns to rage when he reminds them that God’s prophetic mission typically pushes beyond human boundaries so that mercy and healing are extended to those regarded as outsiders.

21Then  began to say to  “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


SONG:  VU 506  Take My Life 


In his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus would like to count on the support of his family and neighbours.  All the assembly halls of Galilee where Jesus had taught were loud in his praise.  When he returns to his home place the favourable reception continues.  Expectations run high.   And then this young prophet-teacher–called like Jeremiah from his mother’s womb–dashes all hopes to the ground.  He first raises the people up by stating that the Isaiah passage is fulfilled in the people’s hearing.  What?  An anointed one in their midst in their lifetimes?  The days of Messiah upon them?  But isn’t this Joseph’s son?  Then, he shatters the dream.

Jesus goes out of his way, it seems, to ensure that as a prophet he will not be accepted in his home town.  He reminds his townsfolk of two stories from the scriptures in rapid succession, in which God performs wonders through two of the prophets of old.  One is the case of a woman of Sidon on the Mediterranean coast who was saved from famine by God.  The other told of a Syrian military commander, representing Israel’s oppressor, who was cured of leprosy.  Both were non-Jews.  Jesus told his people loudly and clearly that they have lost the luxury of despising their neighbours.  God is the God of all, not of Jews only.

Ask any clergy and they will tell you; the most difficult ministry is being pastor to your family.  “Familiarity breeds contempt”.   A degree means nothing.  Life experience means nothing.  Your family knows you, knows your annoying habits, knows all the skeletons in your closet, “And don’t even think for one second that you are better than the rest of us!”  The hometown crowd loves Jesus, welcomes his presence and his message.  Nothing in their initial response reveals rejection or suspicion, probably because they do not recognize him as a prophet.  He is greeted as if he were a star athlete returning to his high school.  The real problem is quite different.

Attaining a university education creates its own problems.  Horizons are broadened, prejudices, beliefs, values–all are challenged.  New and profound experiences may instruct the student that just the opposite of what they were taught is true.  Then, they return home to visit, or move back to their home cities after they graduate, with all their hard-learned knowledge and greater understanding of how the world, and God in the world, really works.  The question is, will that person have the courage to speak out boldly like Jesus about the truths they have learned, the old beliefs they re-evaluated or threw out, or will they let the old prejudices engulf them?  Will they take what God has shown them and become the prophetic voice in their place among their own people?

The prophet’s vocation calls that person to symbolize the “otherness of God” to a community, to bring God “out there, one of them” to God “right here, one of us.”  For this reason, a stranger can fill the role more successfully.  When the prophet is “one of us,” she or he brings with them contradictory expectations.  A prophet cannot easily represent both “one of us” and the otherness of God at the same time.  Jeremiah knew this.  He was an Israelite who had to speak to his own people, but speak on behalf of Yahweh.  As a result, he was displaced, hunted, and lived a life filled with danger from his own kin.

For Jesus to say the words, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” sounds like arrogance to those who grew up with the one known as the carpenter’s son.  Who is he, one of us, to claim to be the chosen one of God–one of them?!  Jesus identifies thoroughly with his role as prophet.  He has been inspired by the Spirit to proclaim an old message in a new way.  In this role, to be considered as “one of us” becomes a stumbling block:  it prevents the full otherness of God from being brought to fullness in the prophet’s message and person.  Is the prophet “one of them”, someone whom God’s presence has filled and whose spirit is to be shared with the world, or is the prophet “one of us,” a human who is a member of a particular family, community and nation?

The church has answered this question by saying that Jesus is both.  Jesus is so closely and completely a participant in the divine “otherness” of God that he is “of one being with” God.  On the other hand, Jesus is also definitely not a “foreigner” to the human race, a divinity without ancestry in the world.  Even at the very start of his public words and acts, Jesus lives out that unique “otherness” of God –God out there, one of them, forcing us to broaden our perspective of God.  Jesus lives out this “otherness” in the midst of his own people, and must bear both the awareness of that identity and its dangerous, as well as life-giving, consequences.  Such is the life, and role, of the prophet.

The tent of Abraham and Sarah was constantly open to strangers for they both knew that hospitality was a gift that came directly from God.

One day Abraham invited an old man to join him for a meal.  When they finished eating the old man thanked his host for their fine gift.  “You need not thank me,” Abraham assured him.  “Whatever I have given you comes from the God of creation.  Thank God.”

“Why would I bother to thank your God when I have my own?” the old man said reaching into his pack.  He drew out a wooden idol and set it on the floor.  “This is the god who I intend to thank for taking care of me.”

Abraham was furious.  “How dare you worship a god made with hands,” he shouted.  He seized the man and threw him out of the tent.  “I am sorry that I ever wasted my hospitality on you,” he concluded.

Before the old man was out of sight Abraham heard a voice calling his name.

“Yes, Lord?” the patriarch answered.

“For 80 years I have protected and cared for the old man you just threw out of your tent.  All this time, though he has given credit to his wooden idol, I have continued to claim him as my own.  Although he knows no better, Abraham, you do.  Now go, find the old man, and bring him back.  Make him welcome.  You are to serve even those who do not understand that there is but one God.”

And Abraham once again obeyed God.


HYMN OF THE MONTH: MV 172   God Says


God of Our Lives, we come as a broken and confused people before your throne. We come as a people who have all, somewhere along the line, been victims of wicked and greedy earthly powers. We have been fooled to think that we are superior to one another, and we have acted upon that belief in one way or another. Grant us wisdom and clarity as we find ways to enter into or maintain relationships with our Black siblings and cousins this month. Give us the opportunity to get to know each other through service and dialogue. Soothe us from the awkward conversations that we will pursue in the name of togetherness and understanding.

God of grace,

Guide our lives.     

God of the World, be with all peoples throughout the nations as they struggle with concepts that are both familiar and unfamiliar to us. We raise to you our migrant siblings and cousins in Libya who have been exploited and sold into slavery. We raise to you their loved ones—spouses, parents, and children—who wait for them to return, but who may wait in vain. We raise those who are weary from war, starving from famine, broken from sexual exploitation and violence. May they know you as the One who will renew their strength. God of the World, whisper our love to them, and grant us ways to aid them in their difficult time.

God of grace,

Guide our lives.

God of the Universe, we bring ourselves to your feet. We are facing different hardships at the moment, but just as you know the makeup of each starry host, so too are you aware of who we are, and what we are facing. We hold up to you Grant Klassen and his family as they grieve the death of their mother, Douglas Pearson, Tracy Skoglund, Mike Fraese, Dwayne, Brooke Alexiuk, Kathryn Janke Schmidt.   Activate your hope within us so that we may rely on the strength and comfort you offer. We ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


SENDING SONG:  VU 372  Though I May Speak  


May your hope grow in the Lord, may you walk and not be weary, may you be raised up on eagle’s wings, now and forevermore. Amen.


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.