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.


Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.

            ~Anthony de Mello


Jesus often used parables in his teaching to shock his listeners into new ways of thinking. Parables begin with ordinary, everyday elements but then suddenly take a turn into a reality, an outcome, or a plot twist that no one expected. Perhaps that is why parables were such a good teaching vehicle for explaining the dominion of heaven—a reality that requires us to open our minds to things we thought were impossible. 

Jesus reminds us that faith is a gift which comes to us from God. We cannot control it in ourselves, and we cannot control it in others. We can plant, we can water, and then we can sleep and wake until the plant grows. In the end it is God who brings the growth and the Holy Spirit who gives us faith. As people of God, we are called to be good soil. As people of God, we are called to trust that God will do what we cannot. Faith will grow, and the church will flourish, not because of our grand schemes and plans, but because God will have it no other way.


Come, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Holiness present in the silent pulse of the earth beneath us.
Holiness present in the beating of the sun and stars.

Holiness present in the chorus of life, breathing together.
God of creation,
open us to the beauty in and around us in this time of worship.

CHILDREN’S SONG  The Mustard Seed Song


O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to all the world. Graft us into yourself and nurture our growth, that we may bear your truth and love to those in need, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  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.


     Look what I have here.  It is a lovely apple.  I don’t know about you, but I like my apples to be hard and crunchy when I eat them.  I know someone who only eats apples when they are older and softer and easier to bite into them.  To each their own! 

     Jesus tells the people that the dominion of God – all that belongs to God and all that God loves, grows because of the love that God gives.  Jesus says it is like someone who plants tiny seeds.  They grow into large plants that feed not just people but birds too!

     I am going to cut this apple in half.  Now I will count the seeds.  Did you know that one apple tree can produce between 150 and 300 apples?!  Not only that, but apple trees can produce apples for up to 50 years!  So, let’s say that an apple has five seeds.  That is five trees each producing, oh, let’s say 200 apples, every year, for 50 years.  How many apples is that?!  Good thing I have a calculator on my cell phone.  I could do the math on paper; it is just faster on my phone.  So, 5 x 200 x 50 = 50,000 apples!!  Wow!  That is a lot of apples!!

     What Jesus is saying is that a little bit of love can help a LOT of people!  A little bit of God’s love can do amazing things!  So, share your love, not just with family and friends, with everyone.  You never know when that little bit of love will change someone’s life for the better.

     Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, sometimes we forget that even strangers need love.  Help us to be willing to share our love, so that the world is a better place.  Amen.



     “Languishing.” That’s the latest popular word to describe how many of us feel as the pandemic rolls on. Some organizations, like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), are flagging the potential for a mental health “echo pandemic,” explaining that even after the virus is brought under control it could be followed by a pandemic of mental health issues.

     “Concerns about the mental health impacts of COVID-19 align with recent research on the mental health consequences of large-scale traumatic, natural, and environmental disasters. Disasters are frequently accompanied by increases in mental health problems…all of which can persist for prolonged periods,” says CMHA in a policy brief.

     COVID-19 has amplified grief, which for some can contribute to mental health issues.

     None of us is a stranger to grief these days. Losses are piling up: income and security, physical contact with loved ones, future plans, rituals like funerals and weddings, going to school in person, losing loved ones to the virus. To quote grief expert David Kessler, “This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

     Blessedly, numerous organizations that your Mission & Service gifts support provide crucial mental health services. From chaplaincies, to shelters, to addiction treatment, to counselling services, your support is there.

     ORA Loss & Living Program, a non-profit community outreach initiative developed by Ste-Geneviève United Church in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, is one organization your gifts support. ORA, named after a Maori word meaning “life,” helps people move through grief and loss in order to lead full and fulfilling lives. So far, peer-support groups hosted by skilled facilitators have been held for family caregivers, refugees, seniors, widows, and churches in transition.

     “We have offered online conversation during the pandemic. Many social workers and students participated to get a handle on coping mechanisms for grief in general and COVID grief in particular,” says Judy Coffin, ORA’s former program coordinator and ongoing volunteer. ORA is currently running an online widow support group, cooking program, and yoga/meditation group.

     “Everyone in the world gets hit with loss and grief at some point in life, but most of us are totally unprepared to deal with it. Learning how to acknowledge, recognize—and even embrace—our grief allows us to start rebuilding our lives around our loss,” says Coffin.

Your gifts through Mission & Service help transform lives during life’s most stressful times. Thank you.


God of mercy, you promised never to break your covenant with us. In the midst of the multitude of words in our daily lives, speak your eternal Word to us, that we may respond to your gracious promises with faithfulness, service and love. Amen.


Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Ezekiel 17:22-24

Tree imagery is used in a messianic prophecy to tell how the Lord will choose someone from Judah’s royal family (the cedar tree) to reign over all creation. This tree will be planted on Mount Zion, the location of the holy temple.

22Thus says the LORD God:
I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
23On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
     in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;

     in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.
24All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
I the LORD have spoken; I will accomplish it.

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

The righteous shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon. (Ps. 92:12)

1It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praise to your name, O Most High;
2to herald your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night;
3on the psaltery, and on the lyre, and to the melody of the harp.
4For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD;
  and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands. R
12The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
13Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God;
14they shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be green and succulent;
15that they may show how upright the LORD is, my rock, in whom there is no injustice. R

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

Paul encourages believers to live by faith and not by sight. We do not consider Jesus from a human perspective but through the eyes of faith, believing he died for all and was raised. All who are in Christ are now in God’s new creation.

     6So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the LORD—7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the LORD. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please the LORD. 10For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

    11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  14For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

  16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

  • Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

Jesus frequently uses parables to teach ordinary people as they are able to hear and understand. Images of sowing and growing show the vitality of God’s dominion.

     26 said, “The dominion of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, they do not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once they go in with the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

  30He also said, “With what can we compare the dominion of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

  33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.


   One of the highlights of science class in high school, for me anyway, was placing a bean seed in a clear glass, securing it with a piece of blotter paper, adding water, and then watching the seed sprout, day by day.  For me, as a Christian, I was fascinated how the small seed eventually sprouted into a productive bean plant.  I thought, “How can a person not believe in God when watching something like this?”  I felt the same way when I took biology and examined in detail the creation and development of a human being.  From a tiny, fertilized egg, or seed, through the continuing multiplication of cells, there grew a child.  Fascinating!

   Jesus compares the dominion of God with the planting and growing of seeds.  In particular, the mustard seed.  Often, we use the phrase “planting seeds” when referring to teaching Sunday School or Catechism class.  We teach the basics of the faith, “plant our seeds” of knowledge and the Gospel, and then, like the farmer in the parable, leave the growing of that seed to God.  Some days it feels like the seeds are the size of a mustard seed.   We question our abilities to teach the faith, and the ability of the young to receive it.  You see, weeds also begin as seeds, but their growth creates chaos.  Yet through prayer, many is the time we have seen the seed sprout roots and grow.  Many days and nights may pass, years even, but often there is evidence that a root has taken hold in the faith.

   What I would like us to focus on is the immense transformation that occurs in these parables.  In particular, the mustard seed.  For those of you who have never seen one, they truly are very tiny.  Yet mustard plants may grow to be 8-10 feet tall.  When you hold up a mustard seed next to a mustard plant it would become apparent to anyone that a miracle of growth has occurred.  Look at a giant Redwood – it too started as a small seed!  Such is the wonder of God.  Yet this growth also occurs in people, and it is the experience of this growth that strengthens my faith in the power and dominion of God here on this earth.

   There was a young man at seminary who was rather mysterious.  He deliberately kept to himself, had only a few male friends, with whom he hardly ever spent time, and who avoided women like the plague.  He seemed to have a particular intolerance for me as he would sometimes hug the opposite wall of the hallway to avoid me.  He rarely smiled, and being of a fundamentalist background, found what he learned at seminary to be quite heretical and often referred to it as ‘false-teaching’.  Yet for all his “uniqueness”, I found him to be a hurting, scared, confused young man. 


   You can imagine my surprise when he came into the student lounge one evening–I was the only one in there, in fact, I think I was the only person in the seminary – and began to talk to me.  It started out casual enough, discussing the text for my sermon that Sunday, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in his mind.  It was during the course of discussion about scripture that we got onto the broader topic of God, then we moved to the subject of women in the Church, and then we moved on to discuss ME! 

   Ah ha!  I knew something was up!!

   As the conversation continued, I discovered why he despised me in particular, and women in general.     His mother had been a very domineering and emotionally smothering woman.  In order to escape from her overbearing presence, this man turned to drugs and alcohol.  This only made the situation with his mother worse.  She began to haunt him like a shadow, always looking for the hidden drugs and booze.  As a result, as far as this young man was concerned, women could not be trusted and they only ruined a man’s life.  Apparently, he found me to be quite domineering in personality.  Hence, the dislike.

   Weeds also begin as seeds, but their growth creates chaos.

   What I found so sad was the emotional pain that was evident in this man as he told me his story.  You see, his struggle came from the fact that he loved his mother.  Even though he said he hated her, I could tell from the anguish in his voice that he did love her and was feeling horrible that he held so much anger against someone he loved.  He did not like it when I told him I could see that he was hurting.  God forbid that a woman should be able to see his pain!  I asked him if he was happy.  No.  Did he like living with all this anger and hurt?  No.  Would he like to be happy?  Yes.  But how was one to go about becoming happy? 

   I crouched down on the floor next to his chair. 

   “It might help if you let the love of God in.”

   “Don’t do this to me!”  The idea was obviously a frightening one for him.

   “I’m not doing anything.  I’m just sitting right here.  The decision is yours.”

   A long pause, and then “OK.”

   He allowed me to give him a hug.  This was the seed.

   First, he cried, then he smiled, then he beamed, then he laughed!!!  Suddenly he was a totally different person!  He said he felt as if a great weight had been taken off his shoulders!   The next thing I knew we were doing cartwheels in the back yard of the seminary at 2:00 in the morning yelling “I’m free!!  I’m free!!

   That incident has taught me never to underestimate the power of the seeds of faith in God’s love.  That night was God saying to me, “See, Leslie, I am here.  You are not alone.  I have a purpose for you and have given you gifts for that purpose.  Trust me.  Look at what my love can do!!”   And as I watched my friend cartwheeling across the grass I replied, “I hear you God.  Thanks.”  You see, at that time I, too, was struggling with the weeds that were growing amongst my seeds of faith.  I truly felt as worthless as a piddly little mustard seed.  What God showed me was that there is nothing that God cannot do; the incredible transformations that can take place, even with the smallest of seeds.

   This parable fills me with hope.  It helps to reduce the amount of worrying that I do.  You see, I cannot take care of all the people with whom I come into contact, much as I would like to, and often try to do.  Yet I can plant the seeds of faith in these people, trusting that God will nurture those seeds as I continue to pray for those with whom I have connected, and believe me, I have seen some incredible transformations! 

   One of my seminary professors once told our class, “Never apologize for a bad sermon. This is not to say that you should be lazy and not do your homework.  But rather, if you put time and effort into a sermon, and for whatever reason it just does not come off the way you want it to, and the people do not seem to respond, don’t apologize.  The Holy Spirit will use it anyway.”  Planting seeds.

   While the parable talks about the dominion of God that will be ours when we see our Creator face to face, I believe that it is through the planting of seeds that we can catch glimpses of the beauty of that dominion while we are on this earth.  Like my friend who went from pain to joy, the transformation left me in awe of God.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be the means for another’s faith growth.  As far as I was concerned, I was the least likely person for that young man to talk to.  I represented what he despised and feared the most.  But then, maybe that is what he had to overcome.

   Planting seeds.  There are a lot of weeds out there, but the power of God’s love can overcome them all.  Of this I have no doubt.  But we must trust in the abilities God has given us to spread the Gospel and love of Christ.  This is an act of faith.  We may see ourselves as dried up little seeds, wondering what on earth we are doing here, what God expects of us.  We may feel inadequate to the task.  But bear in mind the mustard plant.  With God, all things are possible.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH     MV 190  Laughter Lit The Stars Of Morning 


Let us come before the triune God in prayer.

Holy God, you plant the seeds of faith in every nation. Enliven your church, so that the good news of your grace may root and grow throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Creator, even the trees, shrubs, and flowers delight in your goodness. From the depths of the soil to the highest mountain, bring forth new plants. Restore growth to places suffering drought. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Judge of nations, we pray for our leaders and those in power. Grant them the ability to regard those under their charge with humility, dedicating their lives in service to others. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Divine comforter, you show compassion to those in need and provide relief to those who call on you. Bless all who suffer, especially people trapped in cycles of poverty and homelessness. We pray especially for all of Canada’s indigenous peoples.  We grieve the deaths of 215 children who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School.  God, as your people, we have failed to recognize our family in Christ.  Help us to move forward, working together to educate, to listen and to live together with mutual respect.  Confront us, challenge us, purge us, so that hatred ceases and love reigns.  LORD God, we raise up our family, friends and community members who are in need of your presence; Lil Schieman, Larry McCrady, Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Dwayne, Tracy Skoglund, Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Eternal God, we give thanks for our ancestors in the faith who are now at home with you. We look forward to that day when we are reunited in your new creation. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We lift our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your abiding grace.



SENDING SONG  VU 660  How Firm A Foundation

BENEDICTION ~ Copyright ©  Jeff Shrowder 2000.

Go into the world with assurance, hope and promise:

the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest upon you – and even unsettle you;

the love of God, creator and giver of life, embrace you – and even confront you;

and the presence of the Holy Spirit encourage you – and surprise you,

this day and all your days.   Amen




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