6th SUNDAY OF EASTER/Asian Heritage Month 2/Christian Family/Rural Life Sunday

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 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:   Kin to One Another Worship Resources for Christian Family Sunday, written by Jackie Harper, a recently retired United Church minister.


If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

~Steven Curtis Chapman


Paul proclaims that “the God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth” lives not in church buildings—not “in shrines made by human hands” (Acts 17:24)—but everywhere: in the vastness of the great outdoors and in the intimacy of each heartbeat. “God is not far from each one of us. For ‘In we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27-28). This mystical vision of God’s presence in the whole creation restores our reverence for the natural world and for ourselves and each other as God’s “offspring.”


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.

O God, Great Spirit and Creator, we praise you for your gifts that surround us – For the gift of the land that gives us food, shelter and water; For the gift of the sun that gives warmth and light to all that grows; For the gifts of the moon and stars which you have arranged for your glory; For the gifts of language and culture, through which your peoples praise you, and share the most deeply held values you have engraved on their hearts.

Jesus, gentle Saviour, forgiving and humble of heart, Good Shepherd, Divine Healer, Great Lover of all peoples: We offer you our sorrow for the wrongs committed against our First Nations’ children in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. We offer you our desire to walk with our First Nations brothers and sisters; to journey with them on the path of truth, healing and reconciliation. As we share this earthly pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland, where every tear will be wiped away and every sorrow will be turned to joy, we pray for all our relations.  Amen.


Creator, parent of the human family,

we gather to worship you.

In baptism, we are called beloved children of God, as such,

we gather to worship you.

Friends, neighbours, siblings in faith,

we gather to worship in song, in prayer, in readings from your story/our story, in thoughts and reflections.

Let us worship God.

CHILDREN’S SONG:  MV 145  Draw The Circle Wide


O God, you know how hard it is to live in relationships, and yet you call us to do so. At times it is hard to be fully present to our siblings and others in our nuclear family and within this Christian family. Our patience may be short, we sometimes don’t really listen, we may be tired, or angry, or hungry, or lonely, or … whatever it is that keeps us from loving and caring for one another, help us to know that you are always with us, loving us so that we may love others.  Amen.

MINUTE FOR MISSION:  Moving Forward Together: United against Hate

On February 15, 2023, Mission & Service partners United in Learning, Affirming Connections, and Affirm United/S’Affirmer Ensemble collaborated to host a webinar called United against Hate.

There is an alarming increase in violence and misinformation targeted against transgender folks and drag artists. The United against Hate webinar provided context to allies who may not have known the depth of the challenges faced by the Two Spirit or LGBTQIA+ community and shared ideas on how best to support community events that regularly face protests and barriers. Panelists also offered insight into building a safe and educational social media presence, including managing challenging discussion topics.

The webinar was an overwhelming success, with the live limit of 100 participants reached. Those who could not attend were encouraged to watch the recording. Participants shared positive feedback and made action plans on how to move forward together.

Your gifts to Mission & Service help support future events that will enable Affirming communities of faith to truly live into that identity in practical and safe ways.


     My friend, Jeremy, died when he was 20.  He had cerebral palsy, which meant that while his brain worked just fine, the muscles in his body didn’t work well.  Jeremy could not talk; he could communicate.

Since Jeremy was unable to speak, his mom and dad would speak for him, since they knew what he needed.  Pam and Scott were advocates for their son.  An advocate is someone who supports another person, speaks for them when they can’t speak for themselves.

Jesus tells the disciples that when he goes away to be with God, he will send the Holy Spirit to be the Advocate for the disciples.  When the disciples do not know how to answer a question, Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will give them the words.  When the disciples do not know what they should do in a situation, the Holy Spirit will guide them.  When the disciples are afraid, the Holy Spirit will give them courage.

The Holy Spirit helps us to advocate for others.  There are many people who have no one to stand up for them, support them, speak for them to get them the help they need.  Jesus wants us to advocate for each other.  Jesus wants us to help and support others.  The Holy Spirit continues to give us the words and courage to do the work God wants us to do.  Thank you, Holy Spirit!


O God of story, in the beginning you created humankind.  The Bible contains your story of love and encouragement and challenge, to your creation, to your children, and to us.  Today, may our hearts and minds be open to hear what your Spirit is saying to us.  We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


First Reading: Acts 17:22-31

In Athens, Paul faces the challenge of proclaiming the gospel to Greeks who know nothing of either Jewish or Christian tradition. He proclaims that the “unknown god” whom they worship is the true Lord of heaven and earth who will judge the world with justice through Jesus, whom God has raised from the dead.

22Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Psalm 66:8-20

8Bless our God, you peoples; let the sound of praise be heard.

9Our God has kept us among the living and has not allowed our feet to slip. 

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us just as silver is tried.

11You brought us into the net; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

12You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us out into a

place of refreshment.

13I will enter your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows—

14those that I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.

15I will offer you burnt offerings of fatlings with the smoke of rams; I will give you oxen and goats. 

16Come and listen, all you who believe, and I will tell you what God has done for me.

17I called out to God with my mouth, and praised the Lord with my tongue.

18If I had cherished evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me;

19but in truth God has heard me and has attended to the sound of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld unfailing love from me. 

Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:13-22

The author of 1 Peter encourages Christians to remain faithful even in the face of defamation and persecution. In baptism we are made clean to act in accordance with what is right.

13Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. 18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Gospel: John 14:15-21

In final words to his disciples on the night of his arrest, Jesus encourages obedience to his commandments and speaks of the Spirit, who will be with them forever.

 15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

HYMN:  VU 165  Come, You Faithful, Raise The Strain


Athens is the only place where Paul’s preaching did not provoke persecution, and, significantly perhaps, the only place where he met with almost complete failure.  Athens at the time was of no political importance, nor was it a commercial center comparable with Corinth.  But it was still the seat of a famous university and was the world’s intellectual mecca.  Above all it was famed for the number of religious cults to which it gave hospitality.

The congregation was unlike any congregation Paul had ever addressed.  These people lived on lectures.  They were kept alive by a diet of speculation, argument, and discussion.  They dealt in ideas like we deal with computers.  We would call these Athenians ‘intellectuals’.  Paul was at a distinct disadvantage among them because they listened to him as if he were another professional peddler of ideas.  He was on the defensive from the beginning.  They had the intellectual curiosity which makes for a good audience, but it was the curiosity that is content to remain in the abstractions of the mind.

So long as one is satisfied with the discussion of religion, and finds neither the need nor the incentive to practice it, one will listen to people like Paul with the critical ears of an impartial investigator.

This sermon was Paul’s sincere effort to reach an unfamiliar congregation of intellectuals.  He began by telling them how religious they already were.  The city was filled with objects of worship; one might almost say that it was cluttered with altars.  These altars indicated that there was in the people some deep-seated desire to worship something.  They were not blind to the mystery of life, nor were they totally deaf to the music of the heavens.  The impulse to adore was still strong in them, and could not be successfully hidden by their intellectual desires.

Not all who say, “I am not a religious person”, are intellectuals.  By claiming not to be religious they think they can separate themselves from people of faith.  Religion, in their minds, translates to rules for living, having to have some incredible experience of Christ affect their lives, or going to church.  The World Wide Web defines religion as follows:

~the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

~a particular system of faith and worship.

~a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.

Sometimes, being a pastor can be frustrating.  People can react in unique ways to my vocation.  If I am going out for the evening, there have been situations where, in response to the question of what I do for a living, stating, “I am a pastor”, leads to people finding another seat across the room, or the diatribe of how believing in a supreme being is stupid, or, and perhaps the most draining, I end up listening to some person’s life story and desire for absolution.  This usually happens when I most want to relax, have a glass of wine and chill with my friends.

What I find interesting is that the more a person tries to prove to me they are not “religious”, the more they convince me they are desiring a relationship with Christ.  We are made of body, mind and spirit and no matter how much we want to deny it, the spirit part of us fights to be heard.  So, to these people I would like to say, “Perhaps you are not religious in the formal sense of the word; perhaps you belong to no church and profess no creed.  Yet, have you ever come home late at night and suddenly caught your breath as you looked up at the stars, or the Northern Lights, and felt awe at the beauty and expanse of it all?  Have you ever planted a garden and been deeply moved by the mystery of growth?  Have you ever listened to music and been drawn closer to the human condition as the melody took over your emotions?  Have you ever stood beside a baby’s crib and wondered at the mystery of life, where it comes from and where it goes?

The answer to such questions is most often “yes”.  It is then I am able to tell that individual how religious they really are.

In the ordinary experiences of life, these individuals, like the Athenians, have come very close to the threshold of worship.  They have a secret altar somewhere in their life before which they unconsciously, yet longingly, worship.  It is the altar to an unknown God.

Paul went on to tell the Athenians that they were wasting their precious capacity for religion.  They were worshiping unworthy gods, small ones that could be contained in an idol or an image.  He told them about the God who was the maker and ruler of the universe, the source of all life, the Sovereign of all nations, the indwelling Spirit of every single individual.  It was as if he said to them:  “If you are going to be religious, be religious in a big way.  If you are going to adore something, adore something overwhelmingly good and great.  If you are going to have a god, as you all secretly have, have the real God.  If you have the capacity for religion, develop it, make the most of it.  Just as a person who has the ability to walk is never satisfied to creep or crawl, do not be satisfied with a religion that uses only about one tenth of your religious capacity.  Never be satisfied with a gold or silver shrine.  The God of the universe is too much alive to dwell in a thing like that.  God once dwelt in a person, and that living image of God is the only image that is worthy of your serious devotion.”  In other words, “Go big or go home”.

What, or who are our gods?   No, not even Christians are exempt from placing a god before God.   Fear is a prime motivator to place a god before God.  We are in the midst of a pandemic, after all!  There have been over 300,000 deaths in the world so far.  More will be coming.  While the economy may slowly be opening up, our trust is not.  Fear rules.  Our “normal” has changed dramatically, and so have we.  God, we are so very scared.  Help us to trust you.

Our spirits cry out to God for comfort.  God hears, God helps.  I have been reading the stories of people who have done acts of kindness for others during the pandemic.  From the sharing of meals to the sharing of jokes, many have put their faith first, along with face masks and gloves, and continue to love and share with others in order to bring smiles and joy and ease the fear.  Unknown God – nope.  The Source of all life and love – yep.  It is easy to get stuck on Good Friday.  I remind us all that we are resurrection people!  We are post-Easter people who live in the hope and promise of Christ and strength in the now!  Our God is BIG, and we are HOME. Right where we are.

Be conscious of your thirst for God.  The one who stands awe-struck beneath the stars grows into a person who worships the God in whom we live and move and have our being.  Take the time to admire the greatness of the Almighty, allow yourself to be drawn into the mystery of life, be embraced by it, and then praise your Creator.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  MV 106  I Am The Dream


Our faith blesses us with stories of others who have sought to live in life-giving relationships. As we remember these siblings in faith, remind us of your guidance and presence with us. Let us pray—

God of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam; God of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus; God of siblings who cared for one another, offered support and challenge, celebrated together, worked together, argued together, and grieved together. We are thankful for their witness. As they have done may we also seek to live in life-giving relationships with those we would name as siblings.

God of Eli, Hannah, and Samuel, cross-generational colleagues, mentors, and trusted leaders in faith, remind us of the opportunities we have to nurture and care, mentor and discern with one another in this faith community. May we embrace the trust that is offered and shared with respect, care, and humility.

God of Ruth and Naomi, who embraced each other despite differences of race and cultural traditions and chose to be family for one another. For all who choose to be family, may your love and hope be sustained day by day.

God of Simon and Andrew and James and John, who left the familiar to build new community with Jesus and his followers. Though faithful, they had moments of doubt, of fear, of denial. In our moments of doubt, fear, and denial, may we remember to trust and to take one step at a time.

God of Hagar, Abraham, and Ishmael; God of Sarah, Abraham, and Isaac; God of the complicated, and the jealous, and the broken, remind us that this too is real and that you walk with us through these troubling times.

God of Mary and John, called to relationships that stretch beyond blood, to care for one another. You invite us too to reach out in welcome, support, and care for one another.

God of the past, God of the present, God of tomorrow, help us to live in relationships that seek justice, love kindness, and ground ourselves in your love for us.  Amen.


SENDING SONG:  WOV 664  A New Commandment (twice)


In baptism you name us your beloved children, kin to one another.  As we go from this place, may we know your love that found expression in the most vulnerable of human form:  guide us, sustain us, and empower us to love.  Amen.


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