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.


Created as a response to the killing of 69 protesters at a peaceful anti-apartheid demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been observed around the world every year on March 21 since 1966. 


“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.”

― Desmond Tutu


     Two themes vie for attention in the readings: divine forgiveness and the cross’s mysterious power.

     Jeremiah prophesies of God’s desire and ability to wipe the slate clean and to come even closer than before, in the form of a “new covenant” with God’s people. But how is this possible? God and God’s people were already as close as husband and wife—one flesh! Even so, God promises to forgive the divorce and forge an even more profound unity and intimacy with God’s people.

     The connection point for the two themes is deep (even intimate) service to the other. Jeremiah tells us that God will come closer to us than a husband to a wife—directly into our hearts! Deep in this mystery we will be known—truly known even beyond our fear of being known—and forgiven and loved. Jesus then promises that through his life in us, we will be drawn into a similar emptying of selves as we enter richly into the lives of others so that they too will know the joy and relief of being known and loved. In this way, confession leads finally to mission.



Each day is a gift from God,
each moment is that opportunity to reach out in service to all creation.
Each day is a reminder of the new covenant:

not written on stone tablets easily broken,

but inscribed on our hearts filled with joy and hope.

Each day we draw closer to God:
who has forgotten more than we ever learn;
who has forgiven us more than we ever acknowledge.


~ written by Thom Shuman, and posted on his Lectionary Liturgies blog.  Visit there for many other excellent lectionary-based resources. 


CHILDREN’S SONG  VU 289  It Only Takes A Spark


Eternal One, we hear the cries of our neighbours near and far, and our hearts reach out to them. We are thankful for your promise of hope, and we are thankful for Jesus’ love for you, which he demonstrated on the cross. Through this love we get not only a glimpse of you, but we also receive the good news. Strengthen our faith; help us to see each other through your eyes, so that we will be able to experience you in more ways than one. As we worship you this day, may we be open and sensitive to each other’s needs and presence, recognizing that we are all your children. This is our prayer. 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.


     Way back when, my sisters and I had an Etch-A-Sketch.  There were knobs that you turned and they would draw lines on the screen.  If we practiced enough, we could draw pictures!  Then, when we wanted to draw a new picture, we just shook the Etch-A-Sketch up and down and the picture would disappear!  Totally gone, as if it was never there!

     God tells the prophet Jeremiah to let the Israelite people know that God loves them so much that God is willing to forgive them everything, and start over with an empty screen.  That is good news for us!  Through Jesus, God forgives us everything.  Out of love for God, we forgive others.  Sometimes that can be hard, and God is willing to help us.  Life is better when we choose to be people of love. 

     Jesus, you have forgiven us, you have wiped the screen clean.  Help us to forgive others, so that this world will be a more loving place in which to live.  Amen.


Through your gifts, Mission & Service helps support those who struggle in rural areas, where poverty can be hard to spot.

     Gary* is a senior citizen living in Ingleside, Ontario, a village of 1,300 people. He lives alone, and is in poor health. He tries to keep warm by heating his house with wood. That’s fine – until he runs out. Gary doesn’t have a driver’s license so can’t access social services in the city. Thankfully, a few months ago, his doctor referred him to the House of Lazarus, a Mission & Service supported community outreach that offers food, clothing, and household goods to those in need.  

     “Gary would have starved or frozen to death without House of Lazarus intervening and getting him food and wood. But long-term solutions for people without cars are challenging because they have no way to access services in larger centres,” says Rev. Dan Hayward, the minister at Ingleside-Newington United Church where the House of Lazarus just opened a satellite location last August. “There’s a rural homelessness issue here that few people would think exists,” says Hayward.  

     In rural communities, poverty can be hard to spot. There, people rarely ask for money on the street. There are no downtown cores to gather in and few, if any shelters, to turn to. Lack of public transit and nearby resources means that, too often, people suffer alone.  

     “We first saw the problem when we began delivering firewood. One person put a wood stove into an old camper to stay warm. It was definitely not safe,” says Cathy Ashby, the House of Lazarus Executive Director. Women are particularly impacted. “We know they stay in abusive situations because there is no affordable housing or emergency shelters in the area. We found a single mother and her two teenage daughters sleeping in a tent well into November. It’s challenging. Politicians are not going to put money into an issue that they don’t see.” 

     Increasingly, the House of Lazarus is reaching out into the community rather than waiting for people to come to them. Mission & Service support helps provide community meals and breakfast programs off-site. Through Operation Backpack, highlighted in this year’s Gifts with Vision catalogue, 170 students receive food in their backpack every Friday to help them through the weekend. 

     “The United Church is definitely a strong supporter. We have had Seeds of Hope grant funding, been highlighted in Gifts with Vision, and receive regular Mission & Service support. We are grateful,” says Ashby. 

     Your gifts through Mission & Service help transform lives in rural and urban centers across our country. Thank you.  

     *Gary’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.


Almighty God, in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Open our eyes that we may see the wonders of your Word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of your wisdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Judeans in Babylon blamed their exile on their ancestors, who had broken the covenant established at Sinai. Here the prophet looks to a day when God will make a new covenant with the people. There will be no need to teach the law, because God will write it on their hearts.

31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

  • Psalm 51:1-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God. (Ps. 51:10)

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
  in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
2Wash me through and through from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my offenses, and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
  so you are justified when you speak and right in your judgment. R
5Indeed, I was born steeped in wickedness,
  a sinner from my mother’s womb.
6Indeed, you delight in truth deep within me,
  and would have me know wisdom deep within.
7Remove my sins with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
  wash me, and I shall be purer than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
  that the body you have broken may rejoice. R
9Hide your face from my sins,
  and blot out all my wickedness.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
  and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence,
  and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
  and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit. R

  • Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10

Using priestly imagery and references to the Old Testament, the author explains how Christ lived in trusting obedience to God, and so God has made Christ the source of our eternal salvation.

5Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
 “You are my Son,
  today I have begotten you”;
6as he says also in another place,
 “You are a priest forever,
  according to the order of Melchizedek.”
  7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

  • Gospel: John 12:20-33

Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to celebrate the Passover festival. Here Jesus’ words about seeds planted in the ground turn the disaster of his death into the promise of a harvest in which everyone will be gathered.

       20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
  27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.



I went to visit Victor Poersch at Boyne Lodge in Carman.  When I found him, he was sitting in a circle with around 10 others who had just finished music therapy.  A young man was leading the group with his guitar.  I introduced myself, turned to Victor and asked,

“Have you played your accordion lately, Victor?”

“Oh no”, said Victor, “it has been a long time since I played that.”

“Not so”, said the therapy leader, “You played for us just a couple of weeks ago.”

“I did?”, asked Victor.

“Yes, you definitely did.”

“Was I any good?”

It is one thing to lose one’s memory to dementia, it is quite another to choose to forget.  Yet that is exactly what God is telling Jeremiah to say to the stubborn and exiled people of Israel.  God is determined to get through to God’s chosen people and take control of the situation.  Out of love and frustration, God says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. …for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”  God is choosing to forget what has been and is looking ahead to what can be. 

Our Lenten journey is almost over.  One more week and we will be in Jerusalem.  Jesus will walk the path to the cross where, once again, God will take control and death will be no more.  But I am getting ahead of myself…

The Babylonians have come and destroyed Jerusalem, taking back with them the Israelite people into exile.  The people of God were warned, yet they chose to ignore their relationship with Yahweh and put their trust in foreign gods and military might.  The consequences of their choice have them weeping and lamenting in the land of their conqueror.  The Israelites would like to blame their ancestors.  Deep down, they know better.

Exile.  We usually think of exile as being removed from our homes from an invading force and dragged against our will to another place.  I believe this pandemic has redefined the word exile.  To be cut off from family and friends, to be unable to touch anything unless our hands or the item is sanitized, to be unable to touch those we love and speak only through a mask can feel like exile.  Our homes can feel like prisons, worry and fear can have us blaming the innocent for spreading the virus, anger rises because not only have we felt helpless, we have been helpless before Covid and been restricted on so many levels as to create madness.  It can seem like God caused all this, could care less about us and has left us at the mercy of a microscopic illness.  Anger can turn to indifference, rules are defied, the cycle continues.

Our reading from Jeremiah comes from a section titled “The Book of Comfort”.  The comfort comes from a God who chooses to forget, a God who understands, a God who yearns to be the focus of our lives, who desires an intimate relationship that goes deep into our hearts.  The promise of God taking charge and, out of love, not only forgiving our iniquity, but obliterating it, creates hope and a new relationship for the future.

God did not create this pandemic.  God has been with us every step of the way.  Through each other we have experienced the love and grace of God.  We are God’s people. 

The journey out of exile was no picnic.  The Jerusalem the Israelites knew was gone.  The Temple was gone, people they left behind had long since died.  This was it.  Turning away from God had not worked.  Now was the time to put their trust to the fore.  God was with them; they would get through this and rebuild.

We are not out of the woods yet with this pandemic.  Vaccinations aside, care must still be taken to look after ourselves and our neighbour.  We are on our journey to Jerusalem. There will be yet another new covenant, this time in Christ’s body, blood, death and resurrection.  That is coming.  Right now, in this moment, is the time to examine our relationship with God.  Perhaps we have some forgiving, letting go and forgetting of our own to do.  As the Israelites discovered, the journey is hard work, and it is worth every step. 

Our journey is almost done.

God is here.


HYMN OF THE MONTH     MV 84  In You There Is A Refuge  


Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.

You wash us through and through and remember our sin no more. Make your church a community of forgiveness throughout the world. Give your people courage to forgive; through them show the world new possibilities. Bless ministries of repentance and reconciliation. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You fill the earth—from tiny grains of wheat to the mighty thunder—with your presence, and you call us to attend to your will for all creation. Grant weather that prepares the soil for seeds; protect all from violent storms, flooding, and wildfires. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You promise to write your law on our hearts. Guide citizens throughout the world to shape communities that reflect your mercy, justice, and peace, and give them creativity to work for the welfare of all. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You sustain us with your bountiful Spirit. Restore the joy of all who need to know your presence: those who are lonely or feel unforgivable, those who need healing of mind or body, those who are dying, and all who grieve. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Jesus calls us to follow him in life and death. Empower this congregation in discipleship. Equip children and teachers in Sunday school, confirmation, and learning ministries. Give us your truth and wisdom and teach us to follow Jesus. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We remember especially… Eileen and Bob Clow, Lil Schieman, the family of David Anderson, Mike Froese, the family of Brian Pettapiece, the family of Kanyon Redsky, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn, Douglas, Debbie, Dwayne; Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant; for all those infected with the corona virus, or whose loved ones have died because of it.  We pray for healing and wholeness, and we ask that we would be a part of the solution, loving God, turning our prayer from words to actions.  Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

In the cross of Christ, your name is glorified. We praise you for those who have given us words to worship you. With all those who have died in Christ, bring us into life everlasting. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.





You are what God made you to be:  created in Christ Jesus for good works, chosen as holy and beloved, freed to serve your neighbor.

God bless you ☩ that you may be a blessing, in the name of the holy and life-giving Trinity.



SENDING SONG  MV 12  Come Touch Our Hearts   


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