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.


When we come to the table, we shouldn’t negotiate right away. We should spend time walking together, eating together, making acquaintance, telling each other about our own suffering, without blame or condemnation. It takes maybe one, two, three weeks to do that. And if communication and understanding are possible, negotiation will be easier. So, if I am to organize a peace negotiation, I will organize it in that way.

          ~Nhat Hanh


As we near the end of the church year, we turn to the end times. The ecological crisis we face makes the end of all things all too plausible within our collective imagination. Theologically speaking, God comes as judge. It may be surprising to hear creation cheering God’s coming judgment in Psalm 98: the seas roar, the floods clap their hands, and the hills sing. Why is “all the earth” so excited at God’s judgment? On the one hand, we can imagine nature calling us to reorient our lives toward harmony and sustainability. At the same time, perhaps nature’s jubilation at God’s coming judgment breaks forth because our distorted and destructive relationship to nature will be ended once and for all. For our relationship to creation to be changed, our lives will be redirected. Today we pray that God’s judgment comes as transforming mercy, opening a new future for us all.


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.

We look to you, Great Spirit, to help us heal our relationships. We call on you, Holy Mystery, to inspire us, guide us, wake us up if needed, so that we may see Christ in each other.


A voice speaks to us in our dreams, beckoning, warning;
Are we talking with ourselves, or is God speaking to us?
In the night our minds wrestle with worries and hopes;
Could there be something holy in that?
In the brightness of the morning, we seek a word from God;
Let us be attentive to the voice of God this day. And let us worship God.[1]

CHILDREN’S SONG:  Swing Low Sweet Chariot    


O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Embrace us with your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide, we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal, 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.


     When I was a little girl, I used to have two stuffed dogs.  One was brown and one was blue.  When I went to bed, I put the blue one on my right side, and the brown one on my left.  They protected me during the night from bad dreams and scary things – or so I believed at the time.

As I grew older, I realized that the stuffed animals really didn’t protect me.  God protected me.  It wasn’t magical protection – I could still get hurt, or others could hurt me.  What I mean when I say God protected me, is that I knew that no matter what happened, God was with me and gave me strength to get through whatever was going on in my life.  I felt less scared because I knew God was with me.  I also knew I had people in my life praying for me.  That, too, helped me feel less scared.

When I am feeling scared, and yes, grown ups do get scared, I find it helps to talk to God about it, as well as with a close friend.  Just saying the words takes away some of the fear.

I hope that when you feel scared, you share your feelings with someone you trust.  God can help us the most when we help each other.

MINUTE FOR MISSION:  Artist in Residence Gives Back

     We recently received a wonderful thank-you letter from Bissell Centre, a Mission & Service partner located in Edmonton. We’d like to share it with you with thanks for your generosity.

Thank you to the wonderful people of The United Church of Canada. It’s with gifts like yours that we’re able to meet people facing poverty and houselessness where they’re at. We look forward to collecting and sharing more stories with you, like this one about Jon:

Jon is one of the community members at Bissell Centre, and has a passion (and talent) for art. In fact, he’s been named Bissell’s artist in residence. His work has been commissioned by Bissell to provide an authentic, community-made element to our event advertising, our annual impact reports, and several donor thank-you gifts.

His pieces often feature powerful imagery drawn from his Indigenous heritage and always in a spirit of celebration. His art was the focal point of the event poster for Bissell’s celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day this year. Inspired by the love and support he has received; Jon wanted a way to give back.

He designed, organized, and now facilitates a weekly art program called “Good Art.” In the workshops he guides people to express themselves in a healthy way through art that means something to them. Folks are encouraged to share about the art they make at the end of each workshop as way to build and strengthen community.

Your support provided a space for this to happen, and your gifts are having a palpable impact in the lives of Edmontonians facing poverty and houselessness.

Thank you very much United Church of Canada.

Shared with gratitude for your gifts through Mission & Service. Thank you for your generosity.


Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.


First Reading: Malachi 4:1-2a

Malachi, whose name means “my messenger,” warns that “the day is coming.” On that day, the evil will be destroyed like stubble in a fire, but the “sun of righteousness” will shine on those who honor God.

1See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2aBut for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.

Psalm 98

R:  In righteousness will the Lord judge the world. (Ps. 98:9)

1Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done marvelous things,
whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory.
2O Lord, you have made known your victory,
you have revealed your righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3You remember your steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing. R
5Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the voice of song.
6With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy before the king, the Lord.
7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the world and those who dwell therein.
8Let the rivers clap their hands,
and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord, who comes to | judge the earth.
9The Lord will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. R

Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Some members of the Thessalonian community, because of their belief in the nearness of Christ’s return, had ceased to work, living off the generosity of other members of the community. The writer of this letter warns them bluntly that if they want to eat, they need to work.

6Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Gospel: Luke 21:5-19

As history moves toward God’s fulfillment there will be frightening signs and events. Before the end, believers will draw strength from their relationship to God and will be given the words they need to testify and to endure without fear.

5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God,  said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

HYMN:  VU 286  If You Will Trust In God To Guide You

SERMON:  Gilberto Ruiz/Leslie Poulin

Whenever a disaster strikes, it doesn’t take long for some prominent Christians to blame it on the secularization or moral permissiveness of society.

On a September 13, 2001, appearance on The 700 Club, Rev. Jerry Falwell blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on certain groups and organizations he characterized as promoting “an alternative lifestyle” and trying to “secularize America.”1 Austrian priest Rev. Gerhard Wagner wrote in a 2005 parish newsletter that Hurricane Katrina resulted from the indescribable amoral conditions of New Orleans.2 Recently, the Westboro Baptist Church has attained notoriety for this line of thinking.

Anyone who wants to justify their belief that God uses wars and natural disasters to punish people for “attacking” Christianity can find material in Luke 21:5-19 to support this view. This passage presents Jesus predicting the Jerusalem temple’s destruction as well as more general catastrophes that are preceded by an intense persecution of Christians.

The Gospel according to St. Luke is considered to have apocalyptic overtones.  The purpose of apocalyptic literature is to provide hope and encouragement to the reader during times of persecution.  It is a style of writing that takes what has already happened and presents it as an event in the future.

By the time Luke puts the finishing touches on these verses, the temple’s destruction has already happened. Luke’s Gospel is dated to about year 85 ce, 15 years or so after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in year 70 ce, which means that for Luke’s readers what Jesus says is more a reflection on the temple’s destruction than a prediction of it. Luke uses the destruction of this magnificent temple to make a statement on the frailty of human achievement.

Those listening to Jesus teach in the temple, however, remain concerned with what will happen to the building.  In response, Jesus moves from discussing a specific catastrophic event to more general statements about the coming of false prophets, wars, and other calamities.

As readers we now have to decide how we are going to interpret this passage from Luke.  Are we going to read these as literal predictions of Jesus, or are we going to read this section in light of the aims of apocalyptic literature? If a story begins “Once upon a time,” do we take literally the story’s events, or do we adjust our expectations because we recognize it as a fairy tale that is trying to entertain even as it conveys a moral or lesson? The decision we have to make in reading this passage from Luke is similar. A specific style of writing is introduced, meaning we should adopt the interpretive lenses that help us understand this style on its own terms.

Apocalyptic literature uses unsettling language and imagery as a means to assure the faithful that they should keep their trust in God even when facing the most challenging of circumstances. Sure enough, while describing the terrible events, Jesus tells his listeners not to be afraid.  There is nothing particularly original or specific about Jesus’ “predictions” here. Every age has its own false prophets, wars, natural catastrophes, and the list goes on. We misread Luke if we think Jesus is describing a specific set of calamities. The point is that when bad things happen — and they will — we should “not be terrified” or follow anyone proclaiming these are signs of God’s judgment and the end. Instead, we should trust that God remains present in our lives.

I share a story that my Revelation class professor, Dr. Erwin Buck, shared with our class, and every Revelation class he taught.  He wanted us to understand the comfort that the message of apocalyptic writing can give to those in difficult times.  He wanted us to grasp the fear and hope that faced the first century Christians as Rome wrought destruction on the area.

Dr. Buck is German.  His family, and many where they lived, were against Hitler.  The Nazis had come through the city previously and left the dead, which included his parents and neighbours, where they fell in their wake.  Now they were coming through again.  As Irwin and his brother fled in terror, the sound of the army pushing them on to their physical and mental limits, they happened to pass a church, the doors of which were open.  As they ran by, Irwin glanced inside to the sanctuary and stopped running.  Someone had taken the time to light the candles on the altar and open the doors as an invitation for prayer and sanctuary.  At that moment, Irwin stopped being afraid – afraid of the Nazis, of pain, of torture, even death.  He said he just suddenly stopped being afraid and realized that no matter what, God would be with him.  He walked the rest of the way out of the city.

That assurance of God’s faithfulness to us in the face of difficult times is the real concern of this passage. Jesus details the persecution that his followers can expect to face: arrests; persecution; trials before government authorities; betrayal by family and friends; hatred on account of Jesus’ name; and even execution. Throughout his Gospel, Luke depicts Jesus as a prophetic figure who risks rejection and death as a result of his prophetic message.  Anyone who follows Jesus can expect the same hostility that Jesus and Israel’s great prophets endured.

But does Jesus tell his audience they should lay blame on a particular person or group of people, on their society, or even on their enemies, for such treatment? No. He says that persecution is “an opportunity to testify”.  Just as God gave Moses and other prophets the capacity to speak to and confront their doubters and opponents, Jesus himself will provide strength and wisdom for such testimony. Underscoring all of these statements is the importance of trusting in God even in the midst of hardship and persecution.

Jesus tells his friends, “Don’t anchor your faith in the beauty of the temple, but in your ability to endure evil, without flinching, and without looking away.  For the love of God is not about perfection, not about beautiful temples, but about your eye seeing beauty everywhere, even in the midst of hell.  One beloved world, full of grace.”  Amen.






HYMN OF THE MONTH:  WOV 628  Each Winter As The Year Grows Older


United with your saints across time and place, we pray for our shared world.

Reviving God, keep your church active in its mission and ministry. Encourage bishops, deacons, pastors, and lay leaders to risk boldly in their proclamation and fill them with wisdom and endurance for challenging times. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Renewing God, as the northern hemisphere prepares for winter, make us mindful of the ordered beauty of your creation. Teach us to treasure cycles of rest and new life. Help us care for what you have made. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Loving God, accompany all who make sacrifices for the sake of others. Safeguard first responders and active duty military personnel. Grant peace to veterans and heal any wounds in body, mind, or spirit. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Healing God, your people cry out to you. Sustain doctors, nurses, and hospital personnel in their tireless work. Uphold mental health professionals and those in their care. May the sun of righteousness rise on all who are sick. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Uniting God, unite this assembly in its shared mission and ministry for the sake of the gospel. Highlight ways we can better work together and give us patience to work through disagreement. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Consoling God, abide with all who grieve for loved ones who have died. Comfort us with the promise of resurrection and new life with you. Lord, in your mercy,

receive our prayer.

Accept these prayers, gracious God, and those known only to you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.



SENDING SONG:  MV 139  True Faith Needs No Defence


The God of peace, who creates all things and calls them good, who makes us alive in Jesus, and who breathes on us the Spirit of hope, bless you now and forever.  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.
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