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.

Portions of this worship service are taken from a Season of Creation Theme Service:  Awe before Creation by Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke.


He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.

~Napoleon Bonaparte


     Today we hear from three teachers. The prophet Isaiah calls himself a teacher, one whose words sustain weary people. James warns about foolish and hurtful use of our tongues, which should be used to “bless the Lord and Father,” but often are used to “curse those who are made in the likeness of God.” The final voice in the trio is Jesus, the teacher, who keeps the disciples quiet about any Messiah identity but speaks openly about his own suffering, death, and resurrection. Peter tries to counsel Jesus that no one willingly chooses to go along with that kind of plan. Nobody likes a loser. But Jesus responds that Peter has lost sight of what is most important in life. Jesus teaches the disciples that they will lose their life for the sake of the gospel.

     Isaiah said that because God was his helper, he had set his “face like flint” (50:7). Flint has historically been broken into shards for use as sharp tools. It can ignite fire. For potters, it is used to grind and make glazes. With these images in mind, what does it mean to be a prophetic teacher in the face of opposition? In Isaiah’s vision, God intends to shape us and ignite a fire within us.

CALL TO WORSHIP (by Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke)

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims handiwork.

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly feeds them.

Day to day pours forth speech, and night declares knowledge.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But strive first for the kingdom of God, and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

CHILDREN’S SONG   VU 365  Jesus Loves Me 

CENTERING PRAYER (by Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke)

O Spirit, you swept through the ages:  be among us now to fill us with radical amazement at the wonder of creation and creativity.  Call to us that we may hear your voice in beauty, in witness, in song, and in prayer, and respond with all that we have to offer:  body, mind, soul, and spirit.  Whisper to us when we doubt your goodness and despair of hope in a world fraught with signs of destruction, that we may yet hear your still small voice. 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.


    Today the writer of James’ letter warns us about our choice of words and how we use them. Words have power to build up or tear down others.  

     In the movie Matilda, both the school headmistress and Matilda’s father tell Matilda, “I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it!”  These are horrible words to say to a child – to anyone!  These words hurt Matilda and cause her to lose hope and feel worthless. 

     Then Matilda goes to school and meets her teacher, Miss Honey, whose words to Matilda, and the children in her class, are kind, full of love and respect.  Matilda looks forward to school so that she can hear those wonderful words from her teacher and her friends.  All those positive words help Matilda to feel loved.

     When we are angry or scared, we sometimes say words that are hurtful and which we later regret.  Even if we apologize, the damage is done because we can’t take back the words.

     As people who follow Jesus, we are called by Jesus to choose our words carefully.  Words have power to build up or tear down.  Jesus wants us to use words that give life, love and healing.

     You are never too young to start learning positive words.  Learn them.  Memorize them.  Use them.  Then, see what a difference those positive words make, not just in someone else’s life, in yours too!


No Longer Asking “Where Will I Eat?” An Update from Our Place Society

     When the pandemic began to ramp up last year, Grant McKenzie, the Communications Director at Our Place Society―a Mission & Service partner―told us one of the questions street-involved guests often asked is “Where will I eat?”

     No one asks that question at Our Place anymore.

     “The reason for that is simple. We have never stopped providing three meals a day. And as this pandemic continues, we endeavour to make more food options available. Due to social distancing, our kitchen staff need to think more creatively as they plan one-bowl meals that can be safely handed out at our front gates. We are also busy providing water, tea, coffee, and milk,” says McKenzie

     That doesn’t mean there is no stress. The fentanyl crisis, overdoses, magnified social isolation, and mounting stress and anxiety as the pandemic continues take a heavy toll. Still, guests have reassurance that Our Place will continue to offer three square meals a day, whether indoors or out. 

     “In this strange and difficult time, my heart breaks with sorrow at the vulnerable people struggling to survive with yet another obstacle in their path, but my heart also swells with pride at the people who are stepping up to help,” he says.

     Reassurance can be hard to come by in uncertain times. Your gifts through Mission & Service continue to provide steady support during the long COVID-19 crisis. Thank you.


God, whom we know through the scriptures and creation, speak to us in this hour. Show us the wisdom and joy of your ways that we may know what is good and do what is right, through Jesus Christ your Word.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a

The image of the servant of the Lord is one of the notable motifs in the book of Isaiah. Today’s reading describes the mission of the servant, whom early Christians associated with Jesus. Like Jesus, the servant does not strike back at his detractors but trusts in God’s steadfast love.

4The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.  Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

5The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
6I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

7The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8he who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries?  Let them confront me.

9aIt is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

  • Psalm 116:1-9

R:  I will walk in the presence of the Lord. (Ps. 116:9)

1I love the Lord, who has heard my voice, and listened to my supplication,
2for the Lord has given ear to me whenever I called.
3The cords of death entangled me; the anguish of the grave came upon me; I came to grief and sorrow.
4Then I called upon the name of the Lord:  “O Lord, I pray you, save my life.” R
5Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
6The Lord watches over the innocent; I was brought low, and God saved me.
7Turn again to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt well with you.
     8For you have rescued my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling;
9I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living. R

  • Second Reading: James 3:1-12

This text uses various images to illustrate how damaging and hurtful the way we speak to and about others can be. Not only are we to control our speech, but what we say and how we say it are to reflect our faith.

1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

  How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

  • Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

This story provides the turning point in Mark’s gospel. Peter is the first human being in the narrative to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, but he cannot accept that as the Messiah Jesus will have to suffer. Moreover, Jesus issues a strong challenge to all by connecting discipleship and the cross.

27Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

  31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

  34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”





The Jewish website,  Judaism 101, states the following:

The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word “messiah” that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept.

It has been said that in every generation, a person is born with the potential to be the mashiach. If the time is right for the messianic age within that person’s lifetime, then that person will be the mashiach. But if that person dies before he completes the mission of the mashiach, then that person is not the mashiach.

The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.[1]

Cesarea Philippi.  What about it?  Jesus took his disciples there and Peter had a God-inspired moment.  What of it?

Biblical scholar, Zach Rosing, writes the following:

For the casual reader with no geographical context, this sounds no different than “Jesus took the disciples down the road to the neighboring village”. However, having just come from Bethsaida, this means that Jesus decided to take his disciples on a 32+ mile round trip to Caesarea Philippi, the only recorded trip Jesus took to that region or anywhere remotely like it.

This city, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, butts up against a large cliff, referred to as the ‘Rock of the Gods’, in reference to the many shrines built against it. Shrines to Caesar, Pan and another god were all built up against this cliff. In the center of the Rock of the Gods is a huge cave, from which a stream flowed This cave was called the “Gates of Hades”, because it was believed that Baal would enter and leave the underworld through places where water came out of it.

In first century Israel, Caesarea Philippi would be an equivalent of Las Vegas – Sin City – but much worse than the modern city in the American West. In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large niche, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood. Surrounding him in the wall were many smaller niches, in which were statues of his attending nymphs. On the shrine in front of these niches, worshippers of Pan would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites.[2]

Ok, let’s back up a bit.

The disciples, while not formally educated, were raised in the Jewish faith and culture.  They would know of the mashiach and his mission.  They would also know of Caesarea Phillipi and no doubt warned from birth of its sins and the need for all self-respecting Jews to avoid it at all costs.  So then why, in the name of all that is holy, is their righteous Rabbi heading straight for this paramount of corruption like a compass drawn to true north?  Not only that, Jesus wants to know what others say about him.  More importantly, Jesus wants to know what his disciples believe about him.

Peter gets it.  Inspired by Yahweh, Peter looks at Jesus and sees, actually sees, the mashiach.  In that moment Peter has hope!  In the instant it takes for a thought to occur in the mind, Peter has been ticking off the list: 

Descended from King David – check

Well-versed in Jewish law – check

Observes the commandments – check

Charismatic leader – check

Inspires others – check

Jesus has shown wisdom in dealing with the religious authorities.  He exudes power – even demons obey him!  Oh yes, Jesus is definitely the anointed one of God.  All he has to do now is gain political and military power and then Israel is free from the oppressive presence of Rome!

Wait!, What?!  Suffering, rejection and death?!  No.  We are so close to freedom, how dare you kill the hope!

Surrounded by the corruption of Caesarea Philippi, idols, immorality and altars to other gods, Peter is further overcome with a verbal rebuke from Jesus and an accusation of being Satan personified!

At the top of his voice, Jesus then calls the people in the area to him.  Were these folks along for the long walk with the disciples, or worse, are they the crowds that flood the streets in sin-city?  The text does not make it clear, yet the character of Jesus in this moment suggests that he is calling to those lost souls on the streets of Caesarea Philippi.

Pick up your cross and follow; lose your life to save it; what is my life worth?  Look around you, Peter.  Look closely and then look Jesus in the face.  Again.  Jesus brought you here to teach you that the God you want is not the God you need.  Look at the citizens around you.  How many of them long for better lives, long for someone to love them just the way they are, long for joy rather than merely existing from day to day.  How many see God as some divine judge ready to condemn them at every turn.  How many of these people walking in the street desire, in their heart of hearts, a God who loves them?  If you want to be my disciple, Peter, you need to open your eyes and see God in the people around you – yes, even in sin-city.  You want joy?  Give it to others.  You want unconditional love?  Give it to others.  You want a purpose for your life?  Serve others.  Do not be afraid to walk the dark streets of life.  That is where the neediest souls reside.

There are many who need to feel the love of Jesus through the presence and compassion of Jesus’ disciples.  This is serious business.  We are to look in the mirror and see where we have turned away from God.  We are to look in the mirror and confess the God we want, and ask God to take that God away and give us the God we need.  Crosses are heavy.  That’s why Jesus wants us to share the burden.  It makes us better people.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH  MV 45  You Are Holy

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION  (by Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke)

In a time of creation awareness, we pause to give thanks for the wonders that surround us. We celebrate the blessings of Earth, nestled like a speck of dust in the great universe and at the same time home to life and beauty: from the amoeba to the antelope, from plankton to great whale, from newborn infant to wizened elder.

Creator of all,

Hear our prayer.

We lament the desecration of the sacred gifts: the impact we and our habits have on Earth and environment. We mourn the species now extinct from over hunting or loss of habitat. Move us to repent of our ways and live in harmony with Earth, our mother, and sun and moon, our sister and brother.

Creator of all,

Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for the breath of life, and pray that we may use our breath, our voices, and our lives to stand in solidarity with those places and peoples under threat or siege due to climate change or any other violence.  We pray for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan, for all medical staff struggling to help those with Covid, for all those whose lives have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, for all victims of the many isms that devalue your people… Strengthen us to keep solidarity.

Creator of all,

Hear our prayer.

Finally, we turn back to our own circles and community, rejoicing at the love of friends, family, and congregation and, at the same time, calling to mind all who cannot be in this circle today and those who are in any particular need, whom we name at this time:  Carolyn & Douglas, Sandy Belisle, Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Dwayne, Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant.  Keep us in communion with the sick, the dying, and the bereaved.

Creator of all,

Hear our prayer.

Bless, O Holy One, our prayers and our intentions that they may be added to the mending of the world. Amen.


SENDING SONG  VU 218  We Praise You, O God

BENEDICTION  (by Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke)

May the blessing of Jesus, who announced God’s righteousness, of the Creator, who fills Earth with beauty, and of the Spirit, who nurtures awe, bless, inspire, and empower you. Amen.




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[1] https://www.jewfaq.org/search.shtml?Keywords=Who+is+the+messiah&Ask.x=0&Ask.y=0
[2] http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark8.htm