March 22, 2020 Service

For a printable version click here

LIFE AND WORK OF THE CHURCH

Morris United Church  —  (204) 746-2422

Website:  www.morrisunitedchurch.ca

  Email: morrisuc@mymts.net

Secretary & Church Reservations:  

Debbie Swift:  (204) 712-6669

debbieswift27@gmail.com

Envelope Secretary:

Sharon Eadie      (204) 746-2100

Cards:

Marlene Buhler     (204) 746-2706

Custodian:

Grant Klassen       (204) 758-3210

Property:

Brian Pettapiece (204) 955-6583

Lutheran Church of the Cross

Box 90, Morris, MB   R0G 1K0

Phone:  204-746-2422

Email:  morriscrosslutheran@gmail.com

Chairperson:

  Larry Skoglund     (204) 746-8780

Envelope Secretary:

  Virginia Janzen      (204) 746-8495

 

Pastor Leslie Poulin

204-799-5629 [cell]

204-746-7474 [home]

Email: lestoil@mymts.net

CENTERING PRAYER: 

When we are tempted to see physical blindness as a weakness, open us, O God, to realize that we can all see with our hearts. When we are tempted to see darkness as evil, remind us that you are equally present in light and dark. When we are tempted to ignore those who are different from us, help us to remember that your love has no boundaries – that we are all your people. Open us, in this time of worship, to see and feel and experience you in news ways. Amen.

Minute for Mission:

Our gifts for Mission & Service support the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children’s Rights.

Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo was 13 years old when he came across the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children’s Rights (KAACR) through his school’s Child’s Rights Club. KAACR is a long-standing Mission & Service global partner. When his parents were transferred to another district and he had to change schools, Emmanuel wrote to KAACR to get help in launching a new club.

Kenya has dire statistics on violence against children. Rape, abuse, and child labour occur widely in both rural and urban areas. For many young people, the situation is made worse by their inability to speak out at school or within their communities.

KAACR, a network organization established nearly two decades ago, serves as a platform for like-minded youth to engage in communications and advocacy on ending violence against children in Kenya. Using channels such as WhatsApp and social media, KAACR has reached at least 200 young men and women, many of whom have amazing stories to tell about their transformation. They share ideas and propel change at regional, national, and international levels. Their primary mandate is to champion children’s rights everywhere; they believe every child should be protected.

Emmanuel was so inspired by his experiences with KAACR that he launched the Child’s Rights Defenders Movement with other peers in 1999, which was hosted by KAACR. He later worked for KAACR as an advocate protecting girls from female genital mutilation and early marriage, and in general youth development work, where he coordinated Youth Employment Summit sessions in Kenya and throughout Africa.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

O You who are the Light of the minds that know you, the Life of the hearts that love you, the Strength of the spirits that seek you; help us so to know you that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may fully serve you, in whose service is perfect freedom.  Amen.

1st scripture reading:   1 Samuel 16:1-13

PSALM  23

2nd scripture reading:  Ephesians 5:8-14

Gospel reading:  John 9:1-41

Sermon:

When the man can for the first time “see” there are those who want to tell him what and whom he sees.  They are especially concerned about the way he may see Jesus.  The one healed comes to his own conclusions by stages through a gradual clearing of his own understanding, forced on him in part by the attempts of others to make him question his own perception of the situation.

This story is about identity.  The man knows who he is–a blind beggar.  Then Jesus comes along and gives him his sight.  He still knows who he is–the blind beggar who has been healed by Jesus and has been given his sight.  No problem.   The religious leaders, however, try to convince him that indeed, he does have a problem.  They try to give him an identity crisis.  The religious leaders have their suspicions about Jesus and do not desire that this beggar be drawn into discipleship.  Therefore, if they can confuse him enough, if they can turn him away from his healer, that is one less convert for Jesus.  But, as usual, when human beings try to interfere with a divine experience, it fails miserably.  The healed beggar recognizes his connectedness with Jesus and desires to follow him.  No identity crisis here!  He knows that he has been delivered from blindness by Jesus, and by the mercy of God, he cannot be dissuaded from his experience and his understanding of who Jesus is.

So, if plan A doesn’t work, go to plan B.  Ok, since we cannot discredit Jesus, let’s discredit the beggar.  Are we sure this man is the blind beggar?  Maybe he just looks like the blind beggar.  Let’s ask the parents. Was your son blind from birth?  If so, then how come he can see?  One of you must be lying!  Some people have a hard time accepting the truth.  Those who follow Jesus do not have an identity crisis!

How well WE see depends on WHAT we see or, being human, on WHOM we see.  Who most fills our vision; to whom do we turn to understand others?  By being Christians, we come to know that to be truly persons, truly mature, our vision must be filled with Christ.  As Christ is our Light so, in a sense, Christ becomes our eyes.  The beggar’s parents were content to let their son’s vision take in what he experienced.  By allowing him to see, not only with his eyes, but with his heart, he becomes fully mature.   He has been freed from dependence, and ultimately is freed from those who would dictate his religious experience.  Even after interrogation the beggar does not give the religious leaders the answers they want, and so he is classified a sinner along with Jesus and is declared an outcast of the synagogue.  After all, the religious leaders know far more that someone who has just experienced a miraculous healing.

As Christians we do not have an identity crisis.  The essence of being a Christian is identity with Christ.

After hearing of his expulsion, Jesus seeks out the beggar and asks of him a confession.  The one healed can only express his willingness and in response Jesus discloses himself no longer as simply the one who does, but as the one who IS.  The man now confesses his faith, and it turns to worship.  This is the experience of the church and of Christians.  There is always a need to return to Jesus, whenever and however that relationship gets broken.  There is always the power of Christ to attract, to re-attract, to attract again, until we recognize his claim on us, his seeking US out, and admit that he is the source of our light. 

 

As Christians, we do not have an identity crisis.  Christ is our identity.  Amen.

 

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

Loving God, the world is in crisis and we need your help.  We need your help so that we may remain strong in faith; that we remain calm and focused as we deal with the co-vid 19 virus; that we remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and others; that we remain compassionate and remember to stay in touch with our neighbours.

We are afraid, God, and we bring our fear to you.  Help us to leave our fear at the foot of the cross, trusting that your love not only surrounds us, it holds us.  Remind us that, indeed, though we may be mortal and finite, whether we live or whether we die, we are your creation, your children, and you love us unconditionally, here and hereafter. 

We ask for your healing hand to be upon those who are infected with co-vid 19 and their families.  We ask your protection for all health-care workers, care home staff, medical staff and their families.

Fill our leaders with courage, wisdom and strength so that they may lead by example, serving your people. 

We entrust to your care those in our congregations and communities for whom we have been praying.  Bring them your peace.

There is nothing that can separate us from your love through Jesus Christ our saviour.  May we continue to walk in faith fearless, trusting, sharing your love with the world.

Amen.

IN OUR PRAYERS THIS WEEK:

Rita Covernton; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Don; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Pam & Scott Brown; Diane Dreger; Bryon Clubb; Elizabeth & David; Annie Grossman; Sandy & Ron Lange; the Schoenfeld family.