This is a busy week! This is the end of the season of Epiphany and on Wednesday we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Are you planning pancakes for Shrove Tuesday? On giving up or making changes for Lent? Maybe starting a study series or reading program? We are expecting to get services started in all of our churches this month, so we hope to see you there!
Hymn When Morning Gilds the Skies #339VU
Scripture Lessons: Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99 p.819VU
Hymn O Christ the Word Incarnate #499VU
Another excerpt from the Song of Faith, the United Church’s most recent statement of faith:
…We place our hope in God.
We sing of a life beyond life
and a future good beyond imagining:
a new heaven and a new earth,
the end of sorrow, pain, and tears,
Christ’s return and life with God,
the making new of all things.
We yearn for the coming of that future,
even while participating in eternal life now.
Divine creation does not cease
until all things have found wholeness, union, and integration
with the common ground of all being.
As children of the Timeless One,
our time-bound lives will find completion
In the all-embracing Creator.
In the meantime, we embrace the present,
embodying hope, loving our enemies, caring for the earth,
Grateful for God’s loving action,
we cannot keep from singing.
Creating and seeking relationship,
in awe and trust,
we witness to Holy Mystery who is Wholly Love. Amen.
Prayer: Transforming God, we give thanks for your loving presence in our lives, for the opportunity to answer your call to us, and for the transformation you bring about in us when we truly answer that call. Help us to know that change, that growth, and that improvement in us as clearly as the disciples saw the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop. Make us yours in this hour of worship, O God, and throughout our lives, we pray. Amen.
Most of this was planned before the invasion of Ukraine began, so here is a prayer from our Moderator on that as well:
The world sits below a precipice, waiting, after the first stone has been pushed to the edge and started to roll.
And we wonder, where will it stop.
We wonder, what lives will be lost— who will die on *this* war’s altars?
I pray for the decision-makers of the world,
Including Mr. Putin,
that they would find a way to
bring this to an end now;
that they would find a way out—
for the people of Ukraine,
the people of Russia,
for the world.
Tonight, I pray for all those who are protesting
this decision for war by the Russian government,
especially those Russian citizens
who are standing in the face of their government,
who are risking arrest and harsh punishment,
by telling their leaders this invasion must stop.
I pray for the people of Ukraine.
For the the ones who are picking up arms
to defend themselves and those they love.
For the ones who are trying to get themselves,
their families, and their neighbours,
to safe haven, away from the fighting.
For the ones who are sleeping
in the subway, or in the basement, or in a cellar, for fear of the bombings.
I pray for the most vulnerable,
the ones who don’t understand what is happening,
and rely on others for their safety;
and for those who carry the burden
of protection and care.
I pray for them all, God.
But, most of all,
I pray that your peace would pour down
like a God-aweful waterfall,
that those who, for whatever reason,
are choosing to make this happen,
would find all of their reasons and rationalizations
washed away by your overwhelming peace,
and your infinite love.
Help us, God.
As individuals, as communities,
help us to be peace-bearers.
Overwhelm all that would kill and destroy,
with your forever love,
and your amazing grace.
In Christ’s name,
I ask these things.
Amen. ( prayer shared on Facebook by our Moderator, Richard Bott, as the invasion began, some changes in format were made.)
Hymn. Be Thou My Vision
I hope members of the Howick congregation have received their copies of the annual report. If you have not yet received one, please let us know and we will try to ensure you have received one in time to review it before the annual meeting which will be held March 6th combined with the worship service, beginning at 11am.
The annual reports for Ormstown and Franklin are available in the churches or you can give me a call and pick one up at the manse as well. Franklin is planning to hold its annual meetings for 2020 and 2021 on March 13th, starting at 9am, combined with the worship service.
We will be returning to our regular schedule of services, starting March 6th, 9:30 at Ormstown and 11:00 at Howick (which is also the annual meeting).
Best wishes to Margo McKinnon, who is moving into a new apartment in Vaudreuil after her husband Tom’s death earlier this year. Margo, we hope you will be able to come out and visit us again, once the weather is warmer and better!
This Friday is World Day of Prayer. I am not aware of any local services taking place this year (again) but a virtual service is available on the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada website, Wicc.org. This year’s service is from England, Wales, and Ireland.
Another excerpt from the United Church’s latest statement of faith, the Song of Faith:
…God is creative and self-giving,
in all the near and distant corners of the universe.
Nothing exists that does not find its source in God.
Our first response to God’s providence is gratitude.
We sing thanksgiving.
Finding ourselves in a world of beauty and mystery,
of living things, diverse and interdependent,
of complex patterns of growth and evolution,
Of subatomic particles and cosmic swirls,
we sing of God the Creator,
the Maker and Source of all that is.
Each part of creation reveals unique aspects of God the Creator,
who is both in creation and beyond it.
All parts of creation, animate and inanimate, are related.
All creation is good.
We sing of the Creator,
who made humans to live and move
and have their being in God.
In and with God,
we can direct our lives toward right relationship
with each other and with God.
We can discover our place as one strand in the web of life.
We can grow in wisdom and compassion.
We can recognize all people as kin.
We can accept our mortality and finite de, not as a curse,
but as a challenge to make our lives and choices matter. …
Prayer: Loving God, you know our weakness and the extent of our failure to love you and to be another. You see the sincerity of our efforts as well. Look upon us who have been offended and lift up our hearts. Look upon us who have given offence and help us heal the hurt we have caused. As we willingly, with your help, forgive one another. We ask you to forgive us and fill us with your healing power and grace. Amen. ( a prayer from More than Words by Janet Schaffran and Pat Kozak.)
Hymn Amazing Grace #266 VU
The annual reports for our churches have now been printed. The Howick reports will be delivered where possible to your mailbox this weekend, so keep an eye out! This is so you have time to review them before the annual meeting which is planned for Sunday, March 6th (combined with the morning service.) You could also pick up a copy from the church or from Alan and Wilene directly, at their home.
The Membership Roll for Howick United Church has been misplaced. If anyone knows where it might be, that information would be very welcome. Otherwise we are going to have to try to reconstruct it. Please let Barbara or Alan or Wilene know if you have any ideas.
The annual reports for Ormstown and Franklin have now been printed and are available in the churches or from Barbara at the manse.
I have heard from Linda Macmillan Upton that the lunch program from the Legion on Monday and Wednesday is looking for more volunteers to fill in for some who will not be available in the coming weeks and months. If you could help out consistently, or even occasionally, she would be glad to hear from you.
FYI: the United Church is inviting its members to support families for Family Day (marked by many provinces, though not Quebec) by giving to a ministry that supports families, such as those supported by the Mission and Service Fund, through your church givings, through Gifts with Vision, or perhaps a local organization such as La Bouffe Additionelle. If you have something to share, you could give this some consideration.
Did you catch the beginning of the General Council meeting taking place online over the next several months? You can see it on the United Church’s YouTube channel and you can follow the discussions and decisions on the website: generalcouncil44.ca.
Happy St Valentine’s Day! Remember that St Valentine is a saint, believed to be a priest or bishop martyred for his faith whose example was of love, caring and faithfulness. So, no matter what kind of love we have to share and to show, let us celebrate it! 💞💕
Hymn. Christ the Lord is Risen Today #157VU
Scripture Lessons: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1 p.724VU
I Corinthians 15:12-20
Hymn. This Joyful Eastertide #177VU
Another excerpt from the United Church’s Song of Faith, the church’s most recent statement of faith:
We sing of a church
seeking to continue the story of Jesus
by embodying Christ’s presence in the world.
We are called together by Christ
as a community of broken but hopeful believers,
loving what he loved,
living what he taught,
striving to be faithful servants of God
in our time and place,
Our ancestors in faith
bequeath to us experiences of their faithful living;
upon their lives our lives are built.
Our living of the gospel makes us a part of this communion of saints,
experiencing the fulfillment of God’s reign
even as we actively anticipate a new heaven and a new earth.
The church has not always lived up to its vision.
It requires the Spirit to reorient it,
helping it to live by grace rather than entitlement,
for we are called to be a blessing to the earth.
We sing of God’s good news lived out,
a church with purpose:
faith nurtured and hearts comforted,
gifts shared for the good of all,
resistance to the forces that exploit and marginalize,
fierce love in the face of violence,
human dignity defended,
members of a community held and inspired by God,
corrected and comforted,
instrument of the loving Spirit of Christ,
We sing of God’s mission.
Prayer: O God, you call us to be an Easter people, even in the midst of winter, even in times of trouble and discouragement, you call us to draw on your resurrection power. You call us to draw on your resurrection power to raise us up from death to life; from despair to hope; and from sorrow to new joy. Sometimes, we confess, it is hard to believe, to understand, or to imagine how things might change or how good might come from trouble, and how our sins can be forgiven, but you call on us to persevere and to dare to hope, trusting that you will renew our tired spirits and flagging energy, that you will work to transform us, and through us our lives and our world. May the resurrection power you revealed in Christ’s rising up fill our hearts and minds and guide our living, our loving, and our serving, this day and always. Amen.
Hymn. The Day of Resurrection #164VU
The annual reports for 2021 for the Ormstown-Franklin Pastoral Charge have now been printed and are available. They can be found in our churches or can be picked up from Barbara directly.
Keep in mind, that the opening of the United Church’s General Council is today. This time the council will be held entirely online and will be taking place over a number of weeks and months, until August 7th and you can follow the issues and the course of the discussions and decisions on the website: generalcouncil44.ca.
Did you know that this past week has been international Development Week? It is a time to remember and celebrate the way our church works, not just for our own members, but also for our brothers and sisters across our communities and all around the world. Whether it is through gifts given through the church’s Mission and Service Fund, or through associated organizations such as the Canadian Food Grains Bank or ACT (Action of Churches Together.) there is something to celebrate! Bringing education and opportunities as well as help to people around the world.
Another excerpt from A Song of Faith, (the United Church’s most recent statement of faith)
By becoming flesh in Jesus,
God makes all things new.
In Jesus’ life, teaching, and self-offering,
God empowers us to live in love.
In Jesus’ crucifixion,
God bears the sin, grief, and suffering of the world.
In Jesus’ resurrection,
God overcomes death.
Nothing separates us from the love of God.
The Risen Christ lives today,
present to us and the source of our hope.
In response to who Jesus was
and to all he did and taught,
to his life, death, and resurrection,
and to his continuing presence with us through the Spirit,
we celebrate him as
the Word made flesh,
the one in whom God and humanity are perfectly joined,
the transformation of our lives,
the Christ. …
Prayer: We give you thanks, Spirit of wisdom, for you speak to us in ways that often surprise us. You uncover truths that we had kept hidden from ourselves and support us in tasks we fear to undertake alone.
We give thanks for your invitations to growth and intimacy and fullness of life, and for the comfort you extend in our often uphill struggle to be faithful.
Inspire us. Encourage us. Fill us with enthusiasm for the mission of your church. “Transforming Womb of God, Conceive in us. We ask you, create life anew:
Faith, the confidence to bear,
Hope, continuously expectant,
Love, the true beginning.” Amen. (a prayer from More Than Words by Janet Schraffran and Pat Kozak).
Hymn O Master Let Me Walk with Thee #560VU
As you have probably heard, churches are once again permitted to hold public worship after February 7th, effectively starting on Sunday, February 13th. Our Sessions have been discussing when, where, and how we will begin. Please note that masks and social distancing will continue to be required and that we will need to check vaccine passports as well. Both Howick and St Paul’s in Ormstown has chosen to wait until March, when things may have stabilized and (hopefully) the weather will be warmer for heating our churches. Franklin may begin its services on February 13th, at 9:30 am.
February is Black History Month. Any plans to explore this? You could read a book, check out an exhibit, or maybe listen to a blog or a podcast. The United Church has its own YouTube channel with a number of resources on it and there are other resources on the United Church website as well.
Did you know? The United Church’s national level, the General Council is meeting entirely online and the meetings begin next week, on February 13th. You can follow the decisions and discussions on the General Council website, generalcouncil44.ca to find out what is happening, who might be our new moderator, and other subjects.