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.

This year, for the season of Lent, we will follow the United Church liturgy focusing on Lenten practices, Called to Be the Church. The service today and for the next four Sundays were prepared by United Church Moderator, the Rt. Rev. Richard Bott. The reflection for each Sunday was written by the Rev. Dave Jagger.[1]


Vote for the man who promises least; he’ll be the least disappointing.

~Bernard Baruch


     This week’s gospel text from Luke presents another temptation for Jesus. The Pharisees approach Jesus with a warning about his safety, telling him to “get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you” (Luke 13:31). Not only do the Pharisees want Jesus to leave, but one can assume they also want Jesus to stop doing what he was doing: speaking against the Pharisees, teaching about God, and healing on the sabbath. We know the Pharisees are “very hostile” (Luke 11:53) toward Jesus, so we can conclude that their warning is not a genuine expression of concern but rather an attempt to stop his mission and ministry.

     However, Jesus will not be distracted or turned away from his purpose, even if that includes moving toward his own death in Jerusalem. In Jesus’ ability to fulfill his purpose, even in the midst of opposition, we find inspiration as we seek to live our lives in concert with God’s purposes. As Christians, Jesus’ purpose is our purpose. The church, the body of Christ, doesn’t exist for itself. Rather, the church exists to be a partner with God in God’s mission to love, bless, and reconcile the world.



In Jesus’ name, welcome! First-time participant or one who’s been here many days; child or elder or somewhere in-between; stewards, caretakers, disciples, children of God— neighbours all, loved and loving. Welcome. Welcome in Christ’s name!


For thousands of years, First Nations people have walked on this land; their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives and spirituality. We acknowledge that we live, work and worship on Treaty 1 Land, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, OjiCree, Dene and Dakota Peoples, and the homeland of the Metis Nation.  We acknowledge their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.  We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.


Blessed and blessing, loving and loved, God’s people, from the Morris-Rosenfeld Ecumenical shared ministry, come to this place!

We’re ready!

From times of work, from times of play, from times of busy-ness, from times away, God’s people of the ESM, come!

We’re set!

To speak and to receive, to sing and to pray.  God’s people of the ESM, come!

We’re here!  We’re here!  We’re here to worship God!

CHILDREN’S SONG:  VU 365   Jesus Loves Me


God of the smooth road, God of the rough places, God of the wilderness paths, thank you. Thank you for calling us out when we want to wrap ourselves up and hide. Thank you for giving us safe space when everything is just too much. Thank you for blessing all creation with your presence, and with your love. Open our hearts, we pray—open our minds—open our souls and, by your grace, fill them with your abundant love; not only so that we would be changed, not only so that we would be blessed, but so that we can be blessing and people of transformation, in your world. In Jesus’ name we ask it. 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.


Have you ever made a promise to someone?  Did you keep it?  Have you ever made a promise to someone and broke your promise?  What was the other person’s reaction?  Promises are important.  People take them very seriously.  I know I do.

In my teens I babysat regularly for one family.  Janet, the oldest child and only girl, was 7 years old when I promised her that if I ever got married, she would be a flower girl at my wedding.  I was 17 at the time and didn’t even have a boyfriend, so I don’t know why I promised her that – but I did.

I didn’t get married until I was 31!  Janet was 21.  I called her and said, “Remember I promised you that you would be a flower girl at my wedding?  Well, you are a little old to be a flower girl, so how about being a bridesmaid?”  She had totally forgotten that I made that promise to her.  I didn’t.  It was important to me to keep that promise.

God makes promises to us as well.  God promises to bless us, be with us, look after us, give us strength, and through Jesus, forgives us and gives us eternal life.  Promises are extremely important to God.  When God promises you something, God keeps the promise.  And that, my friends, brings peace into your life and your very being.


Get Public.  Intentional.  Explicit.


March 14 is PIE Day, and in church circles it has nothing to do with math. PIE is short for public, intentional, and explicit―the standards we hold ourselves to when we seek to live into being affirming, welcoming, and inclusive people and communities.

PIE Day was co-founded by Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble and Affirming Connections. Every year, Affirm United invites the church to celebrate the full inclusion of LGBTQ2SIA+ people in faith communities and beyond. The day also reminds and challenges us to continue widening our welcome to embody love and celebrate gender and sexual diversity in all its forms. It’s critical that we do.

Gender identity and sexual orientation continue to be used to justify serious human rights violations around the world. Same-sex sexual activity is a crime in 71 countries; in 11 of these the death penalty is at least a possibility or imposed. While Canada is now home to 1 million people who identify as Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA+ in 2019, police reported 263 hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation, a 41 percent increase over the previous year and the highest total since 2009.

Your gifts through Mission & Service sustain life-transforming advocacy and education work, including supporting refugees fleeing for their lives because they identify as Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA+, safe shelters, community awareness education, human rights programs, and safe spaces.

This work is vitally important. For some, it means the difference between life and death.

Thank you for giving through Mission & Service. God’s compassionate love knows no boundaries. Your generosity shows ours doesn’t either.


Holy God, reveal your presence to us this day as we journey this path with your Son.  Through all of life’s trials and tribulations your Word sustains us for the journey ahead.  Send your Spirit upon us that we might listen, discern, and take heart.  Be near us this day and may your Word with us stay and dwell with us forevermore.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

God promises a childless and doubting Abram that he will have a child, that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars, and that the land of Canaan will be their inheritance. Abram’s trust in God is sealed with a covenant-making ceremony, a sign of God’s promise.

1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”

Psalm 27

R:  In the day of trouble, God will give me shelter. (Ps. 27:5)

1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2When evildoers close in against me to devour my flesh,
they, my foes and my enemies, will stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear.
Though war rise up against me, my trust will not be shaken.
4One thing I ask of the Lord; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the

days of my life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek God in the temple. R
5For in the day of trouble God will give me shelter,
hide me in the hidden places of the sanctuary, and raise me high upon a rock.
6Even now my head is lifted up above my enemies who surround me.
Therefore I will offer sacrifice in the sanctuary, sacrifices of rejoicing; I will sing and make  
music to the Lord.

7Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
8My heart speaks your message—“Seek my face.”  Your face, O Lord, I will seek. R

9Hide not your face from me, turn not away from your servant in anger.
Cast me not away—you have been my helper; forsake me not, O God of my salvation.
10Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in.
11Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of my oppressors.
12Subject me not to the will of my foes, for they rise up against me,

false witnesses breathing violence.
13This I believe—that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
14Wait for the Lord and be strong.  Take heart and wait for the Lord! R

Second Reading: Philippians 3:17–4:1

Although Paul’s devotion to Christ has caused him to be persecuted, he does not regret the course he has taken. Writing from prison, he expresses confidence in a glorious future and encourages other Christians to follow in his footsteps.

17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Gospel: Luke 13:31-35

Neither Herod’s plotting nor Jerusalem’s resistance to maternal love will deter Jesus from his sacrificial mission.

31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to  “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

HYMN OF THE DAY:  VU 508   Just As I Am

Reflection: Bless You!

Last week we explored the Lenten practice of saying “No!” It is easier to say “No” to something when you have already said “Yes” to something else. As those who follow Jesus, each of us, constantly, gets to choose “No” or “Yes.” Will I do this or will I do that? How will I use the time and resources I have be given? That’s a stewardship and discipleship question.

Actually, that is THE stewardship and discipleship question. As people of faith, we believe that all we have, from mismatched socks to our very lives, comes from God.  God generously shares and gives to us, because God loves us. And not just us, but everyone. Every living being on the planet and beyond the planet. Okay, and even the planet. That’s how expansive God’s love is.  It’s up to each of us, then, to decide how we are going to use whatever God has given us. Not a bad deal, right? Right.

However, God knows us pretty well. So, God has given us some guidelines, assistance, and yes, even some rules, to help us make good decisions about how we are going to use all this that God gave us. It’s not that God doesn’t trust us, but let’s just say our track record for using what God has given us hasn’t been exactly stellar. There’s an example of this in the Bible reading we heard today:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Gen. 15:4-6)  7Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.”

Not a bad deal for Abram. Go where God takes you and you will get it all. You will become a great nation, blessed by God. Money? Yup. Power? Yup. Possessions? Yup.  Descendants? Yup. He gets it all! There’s only one little caveat: “…so that you will be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:2c)

It’s not so much a hitch or a condition, but God gives Abram a guideline as to how to use all this blessing that God is going to give to Abram: “Use it to bless others.”

As spiritual descendants of Abram, whose name God later changes to Abraham, we, too, have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others. Which brings us to this week’s Lenten practice, the practice of blessing; and because we are also talking stewardship and discipleship, the practice of using what we have been given to be a blessing to someone else. Blessed, to be a blessing.  Now blessing is one of those words that often gets used, but doesn’t often get defined. So, let’s check with Google…. Blessing: a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; a person’s sanction or support.

No surprises there, I hope. Being blessed is a good thing. A blessing can be both physical and non-physical. Bring to mind some time when someone blessed you, either physically or in some other way. How did it feel to be blessed? What did being blessed make you want to do in return?

Now let’s flip it around. I’m going to give you another moment to recall a time when you were a blessing to someone else. Maybe you gave them something. Maybe you did something for them. Maybe you said something—something for which they were grateful, even if they didn’t come out and say it. When were you a blessing for someone else? How did that feel, to be a blessing to someone? What did being a blessing make you want to do?

Being a part of this congregation gives you many opportunities to be a blessing to others. We also have the opportunity to be a blessing to people we may never meet through the Mission & Service of the United Church. When you give to Mission & Service, you are a blessing to thousands, maybe millions, of people across Canada, a blessing that in some cases actually saves lives:

  • 63 community ministries serving God’s people in areas such as housing, food security, employment training, mental health treatment, advocacy, and pastoral care
  • 33 chaplaincies in universities, hospitals, and communities
  • grants for Embracing the Spirit, Healing Fund, Justice and Reconciliation, and Vision Fund projects
  • 20 ecumenical and social movement organizations
  • 7 theological schools and 3 education centres serving God’s people by providing theological education, continuing education, and training for vocation of ministry and for lay leaders
  • 83 pastoral charges, in 13 Conferences, serving God’s people through worship, pastoral care, education, and mission.

When you give to Mission & Service you are also a blessing to thousands (likely millions) of people around the world directly and through 92 global partners in 21 countries which change lives and save lives.

On the Lutheran side of the equation, we have CLWR – Canadian Lutheran World Relief.  CLWR has been a Canadian grassroots movement since 1946.  CLWR is a member of actalliance, Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Humanitarian Coalitian.  For 75 years CLWR has been helping food-insecure communities to develop the means and skills to produce their own food.  Meeting needs and emergencies in Canada and around the world, CLWR is committed to justice, peace and dignity for all people.  Currently, CLWR is joining leading Canadian aid agencies, through the Humanitarian Coalition, in appealing for funds to rush emergency assistance to people affected by the crisis in the Ukraine.

That’s what we’re going to work on this week for our Lenten practice: using what we have been given to be a blessing for someone else. We’re going to have some fun this week, so here’s what I want you to try.

Be creative. At least once a day, this week, use something you have been given, something you have been blessed with, to secretly bless someone else. Don’t let them know it was you. It could be a family member.  It could be a co-worker. It could be a total stranger. It doesn’t matter who. At least once a day, this week, use something you have been given, something you have been blessed with, to secretly bless someone else.

Then come back next week ready to share how this Lenten practice worked for you and how it helped (or didn’t) open you up to God, as you made space in your life to actively live out the Way of Jesus. Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH: ELW 327   Through The Night Of Doubt And Sorrow


Loving God, we pray for the people of Ukraine, for all those suffering or afraid, that you will be close to them and protect them.  We pray for world leaders, for compassion, strength and wisdom to guide their choices.  We pray for the world that in this moment of crisis, we may reach out in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in need.  May we walk in your ways so that peace and justice become a reality for the people of Ukraine and for all the world.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You gather the church into a community of mercy and grace. Unify Christians around the globe in efforts to proclaim good news even in the face of opposition and to protect those whose lives are imperiled by the gospel.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You create the entire universe and call it good. Hinder those who would cause further destruction to our planet’s fragile ecosystems, and increase the calls of those who advocate for thoughtful stewardship of the earth’s resources.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You raise up leaders committed to love and justice. Nurture in those who govern patience to receive criticism, openness to new ideas, and courage to change course when needed for the sake of the common good.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You hear us when we cry to you. Attend to those expecting a child, and console those who have experienced miscarriage. Comfort veterans enduring post-traumatic stress. Shield those endangered by domestic violence. Uphold those who are ill or grieving.  We raise up to you Marlene Buhler, Douglas Pearson, Wendy, Tracy Skoglund, Phyllis, Brooke Alexiuk, Joan, Angèle Harmonic and family.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You kindle faith that moves us into action. Guide children and adults preparing for baptism or confirmation. Empower Sunday school teachers, confirmation leaders, and parents who share their faith with younger generations. Give us all a renewed sense of vocation.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You welcome us into your heavenly realm. We give thanks for those whose labors on earth are ended and who now rest with you. On the final day, gather all of us, with them, in your loving arms.

Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Accept the prayers we bring, O God, on behalf of a world in need, for the sake of Jesus Christ.



SENDING SONG:  WOV 741   Thy Holy Wings


Blessed and blessing, loving and loved, God’s people, go from this place!

We’re ready!

To times of work, to times of play, to times of busy-ness, to times away, God’s people, go to the world!

We’re set!

To speak and to listen, to sing and to pray, to be a blessing, each and every day.  God’s people of the ESM, go and be stewards of the faith, Jesus’ people on the Way.

We go, knowing we are never alone!  Carried by the wings of the Holy Spirit, moving forward with Christ’s peace, enfolded in the Creator’s love, we go!  Amen. Amen! AMEN!





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[1] https://united-church.ca/worship-liturgical-season/first-sunday-lent