We will be adding new worship material on this page and on our Facebook page https://facebook.com/firstunitedwetaskiwin/  and YouTube channel (First United Wetaskiwin) each week
You can read over the print version of worship below, posted each Thursday for the coming Sunday. You can join us on our Facebook page each Sunday, at 10:30 am for live-stream, or anytime.
We will post the video on our YouTube channel and links to both sites on this page by 1 pm most Sundays.
 
Thank you for worshiping with us. If you’d like to know more about First United, you can call our office at 780-352-2157; check us out on Facebook at First United, Wetaskiwin or on this web page.

First United Church is a  registered charitable organization. This ministry is made possible by the generous donations of people like you! Tax receipts are issued for all contributions to this ministry. Find out more on “Contact Us – Donate”
First United Church, Wetaskiwin – March 7th, 2021 3rd Sunday in Lent
 
WELCOME & NEWS OF INTEREST
This service will be live-streamed to our Facebook page on Sunday, March 7 at 10:30 am. It is a communion service, so you may want to have your elements ready.
It will be posted to our You-Tube channel later on Sunday and links to both Facebook and You-tube will be available here.
 
The music is copyright and used with permission under our One License Agreement.
 
WELCOMING THE LIGHT “You’re invited to take a deep breath and make space for the Spirit.
 
GATHERING #174 More Voices “Soil of God, You and I”
Soil of God, you and I, stand ready to bear seeds of faith nourished by God’s tender care.
Growing in everyone for here God is found. All stand together, we are… Holy ground.
 
Soil of God, you and I, no ready to be part of God’s promise, for others to see.
Open to everyone for here God is found. All stand together, we are … Holy ground.
 
Soil of God, you and I, no called to re-birth, joining as partners with all of the earth.
Living in harmony for here God is found. All stand together, this is… Holy ground.
 
CALL TO WORSHIP
Come – to worship, to wonder, to follow.
This Lenten season, we choose to deepen our relationship with the Holy.
On this third Sunday in Lent we look for allies on love’s way.
There is much in our world that encourages isolation and fear of the other.
It is easy to lose hope, to believe that love changes nothing.
We are tempted to withdraw or treat others with suspicion.
Still God seeds us with hope.
Jesus invites us to be part of God’s kin-dom come.
To practice radical hospitality; to trust there is enough for all.
Even as we give thanks for the great diversity of ethnicity, culture and sexualities,
We remember there are many places where people are afraid to be themselves.
Holy One expand our capacity to love.
[3rd Purple candle is extinguished]
 
OPENING PRAYER [Together]
Ever faithful God, crack open our fears. When we would withdraw, open our arms to embrace Your way of reconciliation. When we are tempted to limit the possibilities of Your love, seed us with Your hope. Weed out our doubts. Cultivate our courage. Help us to grow love, and to welcome others who seek sanctuary in the name of the One who loves us. Amen.
 
SCRIPTURE READINGS Isaiah 25:6 – 9 Mark 4:30 – 32
 
GOOD NEWS “Seedlings”
 
WELCOME TO THE TABLE
… the Peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
 
HYMN #30 Klusmeier Vol. 2 “For Everyone Born a Place at the Table” verses 1, 3 & 5
For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born, clean water and bread.
A shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, for everyone born a star overhead.
 
Refrain And God will delight when we are creators,
of justice and joy, compassion and peace;
Yes God will delight when we are creators, of justice, justice and joy.
 
For young and for old, a place at the table, a voice to be heard, a part in the song
The hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled, for young and for old the right to belong. Refrain
 
For everyone born a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be,
To work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free. Refrain
 
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
God, You are with us – In sorrow and in joy, in worship and in service.
We open our hearts to You, Holy One.
In thanksgiving and praise, we open them to You and to one another.
God of all our endings and beginnings, we give thanks for the transforming power of Your love.
Great provider of Life, we meet you in the small things of life:
the kind smile of a stranger, the hidden seeds of spring,
Yeast that rises into bread, water that refreshes and renews,
The satisfaction of a meal, made remarkable in its simplicity and because it is shared with all who hunger.
In these small things, Your great love is made known.
A small seed of faith has enabled Your people to do great things throughout history:
Empowered us to live in times of exile, to move mountains, and transform a hurting world, one smile, one gesture, one moment at a time. Thank You!
Into our ordinary world You come to dwell. And in the small things Jesus Christ lived righteously:
Healing, teaching, preaching, gathering a community, challenging injustice by welcoming and affirming difference.
We give thanks for Your gift of diversity and purpose, seeds that grow to plant or tree, people of different colours, sexualities and orientations.
All of creation carries the imprint of Your love.
We give thanks for the witness of prophets and poets today, who let Your Spirit of justice and freedom loose in our lives.
By Your grace, we work and pray for the time when no one will be in need and all humanity may be united as Children of God.
We gather at this table in remembrance and thanksgiving.
With bread and cup, prayer and thanksgiving, we celebrate the amazing covenant You make with Your disciples.
We rejoice with all who have answered the call to live Your love and redeeming power.
Let Your spirit of hospitality branch out through us to caress the world with hope.
We gather at this table where the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Familiar things like bread and cup, become exceptional things because of Your love.
So may our everyday living be transformed by Your exceptional love.
So may peace rest upon the earth within and throughout all creation.
Holy Spirit, touch these gifts and our lives with your grace. Empower our celebration. Feed us with your life. Fire us with your love. Confront us with your justice, and make us one with all who share your gifts in the richness of Christ’’s body.
With all who come before You in heaven and on earth, we worship You Creating God.
Taste and see that God is good! Happy are we who trust in God. Amen.
 
SHARING AT TABLE
… These are the gifts of God, for the people of God.
Thanks be to God!
Come and eat, lest the journey be too much for you.
PRAYER FOR THE JOURNEY & THE LORD’S PRAYER
For the bread we have eaten, for the cup we have shared, for the life we have received, we thank You Life-giver. May this community of faith affirm the worth, value and beauty of all our neighbours, all our relations, the whole of creation. May we leave this place strong in spirit, compassionate in heart, courageous in action, and generous in love. We will follow Jesus’ way, who taught his friends to pray together saying, Our Father… Amen.
 
HYMN #343 Voices United “I Love to Tell the Story”
I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ‘tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
 
Refrain I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.
 
I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word. Refrain
 
I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
‘twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long. Refrain
 
CHANGING THE LIGHT Now wherever you go the light goes with you.
 
ON THE WAY
God sends us into the world, tender shoots of kindness,
Branches of hospitality to caress creation.
From seed to sower,
Christ calls us to follow and love and learn the mystery.
Spirit, be the eyes of our soul, the compassion of our heart;
Be the opening of our mind, the shepherd of our way.
We go into this world God loves, knowing each night, each day, each hill, each valley,
Is held in God’s keeping. Amen.
 
Sending Forth #172 More Voices “God Says” verses 1 & 4
God says, “Be still so you may hear the words I whisper in your ear.
If you will listen, you will know I’m with you always where you go.
 
God says, “Reach out! The world’s in need and wants a word, a song, a deed.
I send you forth to speak, to sing, to act for Christ in everything.
 
 
First United Church, Wetaskiwin – February 28th, 2021 2nd Sunday in Lent
 
WELCOME & NEWS OF INTEREST
February is Black History Month; 2015 – 2025 is also the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. I wonder what you know about the history of Black people in Canada?
 
This service will be live-streamed on Sunday morning to our Facebook page. Video links will be made available on this page to both You-Tube and Facebook by 1 pm on Sunday.
 
 
 
All music is copyright and used with permission under our agreement with One License.
 
WELCOMING THE LIGHT You’re invited to take a deep breath and make space for the Spirit
 
GATHERING #371 Voices United  “Open My Eyes”
Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou has for me;
Place in my heads the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine.
 
Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth, thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for the, ready my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!
 
Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for the, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!
 
CALL TO WORSHIP
Come – to worship, to wonder, to follow. We come to deepen our relationship with the Holy.
This second Sunday in Lent invites us to open our eyes and ears to those around us.
Whose cries for help do we ignore?
Whom do we keep from coming close to Jesus, by our actions or words?
Still Jesus comes to us.
Looks deeply into our eyes and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
When Jesus comes close to us, we see things differently. We open up to insight and wonder.
We extinguish these candles, remembering people and places where despair blots out hope.
We are called to let our light shine, even at great cost. [2nd purple candle is extinguished.]
 
OPENING PRAYER [Together]
Healing and holy Christ, we long for your touch. Grant us courage to ask for your help. Open our eyes to know you in those we meet. Silence our fears. Open our ears to hear the voice of those who seek justice and peace. Guide our actions that we might be a channel for Your love, rather than a barrier. Together may we seek the healing of creation. Amen.
 
DISCOVERY CIRCLE “Amazing Grace”
 
SCRIPTURE READINGS Psalm 13 p. 734 VU with Refrain Mark 10:46 – 52
 
HYMN #642 Voices United “Be Thou My Vision” verses 1, 2 & 4
Be thou my vision, O joy of my heart; naught be all else to me save that thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, my calm in all strife; I ever with thee and thou in my life;
Thou loving parent, thy child may I be, thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.
 
Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise, thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only, the first in my heart, great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.
 
GOOD NEWS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
You’re invited to some time of silent prayer or journaling. You may choose to use the questions provided for reflection, or offer the prayers on your heart. The chime will call us together to share the prayer of Jesus. We begin with a sung verse to centre ourselves.
Sung Invitation to Prayer #374 VU “Come and Find the Quiet Centre” vs. 1
Come and find the quiet centre, in the crowded life we lead.
Find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed.
Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see,
All the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
 
I wonder how faith has changed your life?
I wonder what you need to ask of God? What keeps you from asking for help?
 
Chime … Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow. Give us peace beyond our fears, and hope for all our sorrows. We join our voices together in the prayer Jesus taught his friends saying, Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by your names. …. For yours is the kin-dom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
MINUTE FOR MISSION “Turning Hard Work into Hope Every Day – Margaret’s Story”
 
HYMN #136 More Voices “When Hands Reach Out and Fingers Trace”
When hands reach out and fingers trace the beauty of a loved one’s face,
We thank you, God, that love relies on gifts of grace not seen with eyes.
 
When fingers spell and signs express our prayer and praise and thankfulness,
We thank you, God, that hands can sing; you bless the silent songs we bring.
 
When broken bodies will not mend, we thank you, God for Christ our friend.
In him, our healing can begin; he welcomes all the wounded in.
 
And when the ways we learn and grow are not the ways that others know,
We thank you, God, that we have learned your love’s a gift and never earned.
 
Your Spirit gives us differing ways to serve you well and offer praise.
When all are joined as one, we’ll be your able, strong community.
 
CHANGING THE LIGHT Now wherever you go the light goes with you.
ON THE WAY
From burden to blessing, God touches our lives with hope.
From forgotten to forgiven, Christ calls us to follow and be well.
Spirit, be the eyes of our soul, the compassion of our heart;
Be the opening of our mind, the shepherd of our way.
We go into this world God loves, knowing, each night, each day, each hill, each valley,
Is held in God’s keeping. Amen.
 
Sending Forth #172 More Voices “God Says” verses 1 & 4
God says, “Be still so you may hear the words I whisper in your ear.
If you will listen, you will know I’m with you always where you go.
 
God says, “Reach out! The world’s in need and wants a word, a song, a deed.
I send you forth to speak, to sing, to act for Christ in everything.
First United Church, Wetaskiwin – February 21st, 2021
WELCOME & NEWS OF INTEREST
This worship service will be live-streamed to our Facebook page on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 10:30 am.
 
 
 
Today’s music is copyright protected and used with permission under our agreement with One License. The liturgy is shared with the author’s permission.
 
WELCOMING THE LIGHT You’re invited to take a deep breath and make space for the Spirit.
February is Black History Month; 2015 – 2025 is also the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. I wonder what you know about the history of Black people in Canada?
 
GATHERING #144 More Voices – “Like a Healing Stream” verses 1 – 3
Like a healing stream in a barren desert, Spirit water bringing life to dusty earth,
God is trickling through lives as in a dream unfolding,
Promising revival and rebirth … Like a healing stream.
Like a gentle rain on a thirsty garden, Spirit water come to nourish tiny seed.
God is bubbling through the soil to coax a new creation,
Yearning for an end to want and need… like a gentle rain.
Like a river strong with a restless current, Spirit water rushing on to distant shore,
God is carving out a channel in a new direction, calling for end to hate and war,
Like a river strong.
 
CALL TO WORSHIP
Come – to worship, to wonder, to follow.
This Lenten season, we choose to deepen our relationship with the Holy.
We are getting ready to enter into the mystery of Easter.
It takes time to enter into or to even come close to a mystery like Easter.
Jesus goes into the desert to come close to God;
To find out more about who he is and what his work will be.
We dare to follow and love and learn the mystery. Purple candle is extinguished
The time of Lent is the colour purple, the colour of royalty and sacrifice.
We remember the cost of following Jesus.
 
OPENING PRAYER [Together]
Creator God, we come before You as a people who have wandered from Your way. We have been tempted and have yielded. We have ignored the truth of love. We have settled for apathy. We have bought into the empty promises of more is better. Remind us whose name we bear. Seek us out, and we will be found. Amen.
 
SCRIPTURE READING Psalm 91 p. 807 VU with Refrain
 
DISCOVERY CIRCLE    The Mystery of Easter
 
SCRIPTURE READINGS Joel 2:1, 12 – 16 Mark 1:12 – 15
 
HYMN #17 More Voices “God in the Darkness”
God in the darkness, God beyond our knowing, patient creator, seed in secret growing,
Rock of the living, water ever flowing, come and renew us.
 
God in the darkness, God in all our grieving, friend of our tears, companion never leaving,
Drawing us past the limits of believing, come and renew us.

 

God in the darkness, God of holy dreaming, giver of hope, and pledge of our redeeming,
Spirit of truth, our memory and meaning, come and renew us.

GOOD NEWS “Spirit Driven”

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
You’re invited to some time of silent prayer or journaling. You may choose to use the questions provided for reflection, or offer the prayers on your heart. The chime will call us together to share the prayer of Jesus. We begin with a sung verse to centre us.
 
Sung Invitation to Prayer #374 VU “Come and Find the Quiet Centre” vs. 1
Come and find the quiet centre, in the crowded life we lead.
Find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed.
Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see,
All the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
 
I wonder what you are looking for in this Lenten season?
I wonder what you need to leave behind in order to follow more readily?
 
Chime …In the Spirit, let us travel, open to each other’s pain. Let our loves and fears unravel, celebrate the space we gain. We join our voices together in the prayer Jesus taught his friends saying, Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by your names. Your kin-dom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kin-dom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
MINUTE FOR MISSION “The Incredible Difference Your Gifts Make – Bill’s Story”
 
HYMN #113 Voices United “To the Desert Jesus Came”
To the desert Jesus came, to wrestle and to seek God’s way.
Sun and moon rose high above to watch him as he’d fast and pray.
Together through the valley, the tempter led him around.
Together through the valley, so Jesus answer found.
 
Like the Hebrews long ago, who ventured through the desert sand,
Did he find a rock of faith, where streams of living water ran?
Together through the valley, so shall we make our way.
Together through the valley, we’ll walk for forty days.
 
In the desert we may find the mystery of who we are,
Following a faithful God so very close and yet so far.
Together through the valley, we’ll gather out dreams in prayer.
Together through the valley, and find God’s presence there.
 
From the ashes to the hill, we’ll travel on our Lenten road.
Hand in hand we’ll cross this sand, and share each other’s heavy load.
Together through the valley, we’ll watch the changing sky.
Together through the valley, as Easter’s dawn draws nigh.
 
CHANGING THE LIGHT Now wherever you go the light goes with you.
 
ON THE WAY
When our path is unclear, Jesus is with us to show us the way.
When the demands we face are greater than our response,
God offers us courage and strength.
When we feel alone, or the future looks bleak, The Spirit sings hope into our hearts.
Go into this world God loves knowing each night, each day, each hill, each valley,
Is held in God’s keeping. Amen.
 
Sending Forth #172 More Voices “God Says” Verses 1 & 4
God says, “Be still so you may hear the words I whisper in your ear.
If you will listen, you will know I’m with you always where you go.
 
God says, “Reach out! The world’s in need and wants a word, a song, a deed.
I send you forth to speak, to sing, to act for Christ in everything.
 
 First United Church, Wetaskiwin  – February 14, 2021
 
WELCOME & NEWS OF INTEREST
A link  to Facebook and YouTube video’s of this service will be available on Sunday,  February 14.
We hopefully livestream to Facebook at 10:30 am and upload to YouTube by 1 pm.
 
 
 
This service is adapted, with thanks, from liturgy created by Rev. Paul Douglas Walfall and the United Church of Canada Anti-Racism resources. It is shared with their permission under the United Church of Canada’s Creative Commons.
February is Black History Month; 2015 – 2025 is also the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. I wonder what you know about the history of Black people in Canada?

On August 28, 1833, the Act for the Abolition of Slavery received royal assent and became law throughout the British Empire. The Act came into force on August 1, 1834. Prior to this in Upper Canada, now Ontario, in 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe passed the Anti-slavery Act. This law freed enslaved people aged 25 and over and made it illegal to bring enslaved people into Upper Canada.
Curiously, slavery is one of the few injustices which Jesus does not condemn. He implicitly condones it in his stories of slaves and masters. However as a Christian people, the commandment to love one another supercedes any current use of scripture to justify slavery.
The year 2021 will mark the 187th anniversary of abolition of slavery in Canada. We pause to acknowledge this moment in history. We remember as we worship and commit ourselves to continue to work for a world where righteousness and justice will be found everywhere.

WELCOMING THE LIGHT You’re invited to take a deep breath and make space for the Spirit.

 
GATHERING #88 More Voices “Over My Head”
Refrain Over my head, I hear music in the air. (X 3) There must be a God somewhere.
When the storms of life are ragin’ – I hear music in the air (x 3)
There must be a God somewhere Refrain
When the tide of hate is risin’ – I hear music in the air (x3) There must be a God somewhere Refrain
When the church is livin’ justice – I hear music in the air (x3) There must be a God somewhere R
 
CALL TO WORSHIP
With what shall we come before our God? God has already told us what is good.
Shall we come with gifts and offerings? God wants us to do justice.
What does the Lord require of us? God wants us to love kindness.
How then shall we live?
God wants us to live humbly with one another, And with respect in creation.
Let us worship God, who calls us and equips us.
 

OPENING PRAYER [Together]
Creator God, You have shaped us in Your image. Your likeness is imprinted on each of us, and throughout this good earth. Strengthen us to reflect Your goodness, justice, and love to all the world. Embolden us to speak out for equity; to speak against that which diminishes Your image in one another. May our words and actions reflect Your wisdom and mercy. In the name of the one who lived Your love, we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING Psalm 46 p. 770 VU with Refrain #1

“Listening with the Silence”
The Psalmist turns to God in the midst of tumultuous times, trusting that God is a refuge in the midst of upheaval. We too, have known upheaval on a global scale and in our personal lives. Climate change, Me Too, Black Lives Matter and even public health measures have changed how we look at the world and at one another, not to mention the other losses we encounter. It’s not my intention to cause further distress, but to invite us to dig deeper into our faith; a faith that reminds us of God’s presence in the midst of unsettling times. Not to cocoon ourselves, which is so tempting in this February chill, but to find the grounding and the strength needed to be agents of God’s transformation. It is also an invitation to see the work of creating a more equitable world as a gain, something worth working towards, rather than a loss or personal threat.
Why are we talking about this issue? Because as a community of faith we are committed to expanding the God-space in our lives, communities and wherever we might have influence. As a denomination, one of the ways we expand God’s space around us is through our commitment to becoming an Anti-racist denomination. Racism exists in many forms in both church and society. It exists in our personal attitudes and in our policies and practices. To deny it’s presence is to give it continued permission to exist. For decades the United Church has worked to condemn all forms of racism. Yet in spite of this steadfast work by committed people, people like you and I, the reality of racism persists. At the United Church’s General Council meeting in 2018, as the proceedings were set to wrap up, the agenda was cracked open as many of the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour participants lined up at microphones to share their painful stories of racial exclusion within the church. It takes longer for personnel who are Black, Indigenous or People of colour to find a call or appointment; they are often sharply critiqued for their accents. Our past Conference President, Rev. Dr. Walfall named occasions of people not wanting to touch or use the same doorway he had just entered. These are only a few examples of the personal pain of racism. They are sometimes hard to hear but even harder to experience.
Too often these stories have prompted us to deny the pain, or trivialize the incident or minimize its significance. To do so, simply sweeps the issue under the rug. But keeping things quiet isn’t always peaceful. The psalmist calls us to a different kind of peace and calm. One that is grounded in God’s vision for all peoples to find refuge and safety and abundant life. So our anti-racist work begins with listening to the stories of people who have too long been silenced or dismissed, and letting them crack open our denial and excuses and apathy a little further till we glimpse God’s possibilities, flowing like a river into hope.
 
HYMN “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (African-American spiritual):
Refrain Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home; (x 2)
 
I looked over Jordan, and what did I see, coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home. Refrain
 
If you get there before I do, coming for to carry me home;
Tell my friends I’ll be coming long too, coming for to carry me home. Refrain
 
I’m sometimes up, I’m sometimes down, coming for to carry me home;
But still my soul feels heavenly bound, coming for to carry me home. Refrain
 
SCRIPTURE READING 1 Kings 19:11 – 13
“Called out of Silence”
Elijah, what are you doing here? Prophet to the rulers of his day, Elijah has offended those same powers on God’s behalf and is running for his life. With God’s help he has found food and strength to cross the desert and take refuge in a cave. Surely Elijah has done enough!
But God isn’t finished with Elijah. Elijah what are you doing here?
God asks, not because God doesn’t know, but because God wants Elijah to understand, to name and to be honest about why he is hiding, or from whom he is running.
In my own journey to tackle my prejudice or to speak justice on God’s behalf, there have been times when like Elijah, I would rather run away. If not literally, at least figuratively. Hide myself in the endless administrative or pastoral care demands of ministry. And while God may not always have spoken to me directly, I have been fortunate enough to have Indigenous, Black and People of Colour courageous and gracious enough to call me out and invite me into the presence of God.
If I learned very little about Indigenous peoples during my years in the Canadian education system, I learned even less about the history of black people or slavery in Canada. To me that was a problem that existed south of the border. Out of the centuries of deafening silence, the United Church is committed to listening for the diverse voices that make up the country in which we live. We are being called out, by God, to become an anti-racist denomination. Another way of saying this is that we are committed to developing healthy relationships with individuals and communities, especially those experiencing marginalization, because this was a focus of Jesus’ redemptive work.
Black people have been present in the land we call Canada since long before confederation. Multilinguist Mathieu da Costa, of partial African ancestry, is the first known Black person to arrive on this land. Da Costa is understood to have spoken Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, Mi’kmaq, and pidgin Basque. Because of his ability to learn new languages, he travelled with João Fernandes Lavrador, exploring Greenland and the north Atlantic coast of Canada as early as 1499. Additionally da Costa would voyage with Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain.
Over a century later, slavery connected to European colonialism took up residence in Canada with the arrival of Olivier Le Jeune, an African boy from Madagascar, about 7 years old, in New France (modern-day Quebec). There is little known about Le Jeune, but he was educated by a Jesuit priest, Father Le Jeune, and upon baptism took the name Olivier after the colony’s head clerk Olivier Letardif. He would later take the priest’s surname. By the time Le Jeune died in May 1654, it is thought that his status had changed from slave to free domestic servant. Slavery would continue to exist in Canada for about 205 years.
Slavery continues to exist today. In varied forms of children and women trafficked into the sex trade or as soldiers. As a church, we have a role in speaking to the world, in being prophetic, perhaps not as dramatically as Elijah, but as persistently. Racial justice is not a simple action that we can check off our “to do” list. Racism is deeply embedded, often intangible and illusive. And we are beginning to understand that even when we may not have been explicitly racist, by our inaction we have helped sustain a social climate where racism can occur. So we listen attentively, not only to the stories of others, but also for the voice of God who asks us, What are you doing here?
And we trust God is calling us out, to action, to witness and into the presence of the Holy.
 
HYMN #575 Voices United “I’m Gonna Live so God can Use Me” (2 verses)
I’m gonna pray so God can use me, anywhere Lord, anytime. (X 2)
 
I’m gonna live so God can use me, anywhere Lord, anytime. (X 2)
 
SCRIPTURE READING Mark 8:27 – 30; 9:2 – 8
“Acting beyond the Silence”
In facing her own mortality following a cancer diagnosis, Audre Lourde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist explored her fears, silences and the risks of speaking out.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. … I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood… When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak… My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” She goes on to affirm that for all the risks she took in speaking out the rewards were far greater. She connected with woman and people across cultures and barriers, finding new words and ways to bridge differences.
Jesus asks his disciples then and now – who do you say that I am? And following their answers, he takes them up the mountain, where they have a dazzling vision of Jesus in conversation with Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets of Israel. For centuries, whatever else we have said or imagined about Jesus, we have too often portrayed him as blond and blue-eyed or clearly caucasion. To reclaim Jesus as a swarthy, middle eastern Jew is to take a step in our anti-racist journey. To believe that something good could come from Nazareth, is to move beyond seeing our difference as divisive, and to begin looking for what we can celebrate and learn from one another. We need to hear both the stories of pain, but also the voices of wisdom, and authority and creativity and inspiration from Indigenous, Black and People of Colour. In the words of Andrea Gorman, to celebrate a world where a skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one; a world where poetry and football connect. A world where we add our voices to those who remind us we are not broken, simply unfinished. That in those times when know defeat we will refuse to sow division. For there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it; if only we are brave enough to be it.
Into such a world God calls us and accompanies us. With God’s song in our hearts and on our lips, our diverse harmonies can and will create something beautiful and new together. We are part of this story. Hear what the Spirit is speaking to us. Amen.
 
HYMN #575 Voices United “I’m Gonna Live so God can Use Me” (2 verses)
I’m gonna work so God can use me, anywhere Lord, anytime. (X 2)
 
I’m gonna sing so God can use me, anywhere Lord, anytime. (X 2)
 
LITANY OF REMEMBERING & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Great Loving God, joyful darkness beyond our knowing, we pause to remember those who have been enslaved. We recall that for over 400 years, more than 15 million people were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade. During this time human beings made in the image of God were bought and sold, treated as property, and considered to be less than human.
Have mercy on us, O God. Help us to regard all persons as made in your image. Create in us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us.
Strong Mother God, we remember the families that were broken by enslavement. We recall the parents who never saw their children. We recall the family ties that were broken because of forced separation, the tears that were shed, the bitterness caused, and the hurts that continue.
Help us O God, to regard others with love and kindness. Create in us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us.
Warm Father God, we remember the ways we continue in our world to treat others based on the financial profit we can derive from them: the persons who work in poor conditions and who are underpaid, the children who are forced to work and receive less than minimum wage, the migrant workers who are exploited.
Help us, O God, to live in right relations with others. Create in us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us.
Old, aching God, weep with us. Slavery still exists today. We remember the women who have been sold into slavery for prostitution. We remember the children who are sold into slavery left vulnerable by poverty. We remember persons who are enslaved because of their addictions.
Forgive us, O God, when we forget that we are each other’s neighbours. Create in us a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within us.
We offer to God those prayers to deep for words … Time for silent prayer …
Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow. Give us peace beyond our fears, and hope for all our sorrows. We join our voices together in the prayer Jesus taught his friends saying, Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by your names. Your kin-dom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kin-dom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
MINUTE FOR MISSION “Thank you for believing: Arwa’s Story”
 
HYMN #691 Voices United “Though Ancient Walls” verses 1, 3 & 5
Though ancient walls may still stand proud, and racial strife be fact,
Though boundaries may be lines of hate, proclaim God’s saving act.
 
Refrain Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside; Christ is our liberty!
 
The truth we seek in varied scheme, the life that we pursue,
Unites us in a common quest for self and world made new. Refrain
 
This broken world seeks lasting health, and vital unity.
God’s people by God’s Word renewed, cast off all slavery! Refrain
 
CHANGING THE LIGHT Now wherever you go the light goes with you.
 
SENDING FORTH
In a world where people are still enslaved and dehumanized,
We go to treat each person with dignity and respect.
In a world where profit is valued more than human life,
We go to proclaim the priceless worth of each person.
In a world where the ugliness of racism and White supremacy is found,
We go to show that love transforms all social ills.
Go into this world God loves. We go in peace and take peace.
Be of good courage; Hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil;
Strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour everyone.
We go to love and serve in Christ’ name, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hallelujah and amen!
 
Sending Forth #87 Voices United “I am the Light of the World” verse 4
Refrain ‘I am the light of the world! You people come and follow me!’
If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery of what you were meant to do and be.
 
To bring hope to every task you do, to dance at a baby’s new birth;
To make music in an old person’s heart, and sing to the colours of the earth! Refrain
 
Thank you for worshiping with us! God bless, be well and look after each other.