Monday, September 29, 2014

A Celebration of the Feast of Saint Faith (5 October 2014)

On Sunday Saint Faith's Celebrates our Matronal festival.

Feast of Saint Faith
5 October 2014

The Gathering of the Community

Entrance Hymn

‘Wind upon the Waters’  Common Praise #408 vv. 1, 2, 3


We praise you, O God;
you are the Lord:  we acclaim you;
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Come then, Lord, and help your people
and bring us with all your saints to glory everlasting.


‘Glory to God’  Common Praise #702

Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

Almighty God,
who gave your servant Faith courage
to confess Jesus Christ
and to die for this faith,
may we always be ready
to give a reason for the hope that is in us,
and to suffer gladly for his sake;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

The Proclamation of the Word of God

The First Reading

A Reading from Isaiah (44.1-8).

         But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!  Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you:  Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.  They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams.  This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,” another will be called by the name of Jacob, yet another will write on the hand, “The Lord’s,” and adopt the name of Israel. 

         Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:  I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.  Who is like me?  Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me.  Who has announced from of old the things to come?  Let them tell us what is yet to be.  Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?  You are my witnesses!  Is there any god besides me?  There is no other rock; I know not one.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm of the Day

Psalm 87 with the refrain from Songs for the Holy One

Refrain (sung twice):  Glorious things are sung for you, O Holy One!

1 On the holy mountain *
         stands the city God has founded;
2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion
         more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Refrain:  Glorious things are sung for you, O Holy One!

3 Glorious things are spoken of you, *
         O city of our God.
4 I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me; *
         behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia:  in Zion were they born.
5 Of Zion it shall be said, ”Everyone was born in there, *
         and the Most High shall sustain it.”

Refrain:  Glorious things are sung for you, O Holy One!

6 The Lord will record as the peoples are enrolled, *
         “These also were born there.”
7 The singers and the dancers will say, *
         “All my fresh springs are in you.”

Refrain:  Glorious things are sung for you, O Holy One!

The Second Reading

A Reading from the First Letter of Peter (2.4-10).

         Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

         For it stands in scripture:  “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”  To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

         But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

         Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn before the Gospel

‘You Have Passed By’  Common Praise #510

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (17.6-19).
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

         [Jesus continued to pray to God, saying,] “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.  They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.  I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.  All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.  And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.  While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me.  I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Sermon

The Apostles’ Creed

Joining with blessed Faith and all those who, by their lives, have given witness to Christ, let us proclaim the faith of our baptism:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.  Amen. [1]

The Prayers of the Community

The Prayers of the People

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

Offertory Hymn

‘Accept, O Lord, the Gifts We Bring’ Evangelical Lutheran Worship #691

The Prayer over the Gifts

Let us pray.

God of faithfulness,
your servant Faith praised you in her death.
Receive all we offer you this day,
and give us the strength of will
to proclaim your righteousness and love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We give you thanks and praise, almighty God,
through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ,
our Saviour and Redeemer.
He is your living Word
through whom you have created all things.

By the power of the Holy Spirit
he took flesh of the Virgin Mary
and shared our human nature.
He lived and died as one of us,
to reconcile us to you,
the God and Father of all.

In fulfillment of your will
he stretched out his hands in suffering,
to bring release to those who place their hope in you,
and so he won for you a holy people.

He chose to bear our griefs and sorrows,
and to give us his life on the cross,
so that he might shatter the chains of evil and death,
and banish the darkness of sin and despair.
By his resurrection
he brings us into the light of your presence.

Now with all creation we raise our voices
to proclaim the glory of your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. [i]

Holy and gracious God,
accept our praise,
through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who on the night he was handed over
to suffering and death,
took bread and gave you thanks,
saying, “Take, and eat:
this is my body which is broken for you.”
In the same way he took the cup,
saying, “This is my blood which is shed for you.
When you do this, you do it in memory of me.”

Remembering, therefore, his death and resurrection,
we offer you this bread and this cup,
giving thanks that you have made us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.

We ask you to send your Holy Spirit
upon the offering of your holy Church.
Gather into one
all who share in these sacred mysteries,
filling them with the Holy Spirit
and confirming their faith in the truth,
that together we may praise you
and give you glory
through your Servant, Jesus Christ.

All glory and honour are yours,
Father and Son,
with the Holy Spirit
in the holy Church,
now and for ever.  Amen. [ii]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [iii]

The Breaking of the Bread

“I am the bread which has come down from heaven,”
says the Lord.
Give us this bread for ever.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”
May we dwell in Christ, as he dwells in us. [iv]

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.


Hymn after Communion

‘Let There Be Light’  Common Praise #572

The Sending Forth of the Community

Stewardship Reflection

The Prayer after Communion

Let us pray.

God of courage,
we give thanks for this holy food,
and we praise you for your martyr Faith,
who ran with perseverance
the race that you set before her
and won the victor’s wreath that does not fade;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine. 
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘Wind upon the Waters’  Common Praise #726 vv. 4, 5

The Dismissal

The Deacon sends the People forth with a Dismissal for the occasion.

[1] ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ (CCT version) as printed in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 105.

[i] Common Praise #726.

[ii] ‘Eucharistic Prayer 2’ in The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 196-197.

[iii] ‘Our Father in Heaven’, Common Praise #744.

[iv] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 212 alt.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Making Room for Others

RCL Proper 26A
28 September 2014

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

         Shortly after Owen’s birth in 1990 Paula and I realized that our Subaru station wagon had reached the end of its usefulness to our family.  Three children, all under the age of four, meant three children’s car seats.  No matter how I tried to arrange the space, there was simply not enough room.  Paula and I drove to the Chrysler dealership and we left the proud owners of our first of two mini-vans.

         One of the advantages of the mini-van was that we were able to put two car seats in the very back with a space between them and one seat in middle bench leaving a space just behind the front passenger seat.  Not only did this mean that the seats could remain in the car permanently with room for storage such as groceries and other shopping, but there was an even more important gift.

         How many of you have travelled with young children for any long distance?  How many of you have had to intervene at the sound of outraged voices saying things like ‘He’s crowding me!’ or ‘I don’t have enough room!’ or ‘She touched me!’?

         With the mini-van each child had space!  Even as they graduated from the car seat to a booster seat then to sitting without any additional apparatus, each one had room around them.  Many a long road trip was saved by this generosity of space.  I even felt that I was a better father when, upon arriving at some event or location, my children left the van in good spirits.

         There is much to be said in favour of making room for others.  Although I cannot remember where I heard or read this, I can remember God’s act of creating the kosmos being described as a divine act of making room for all that is.  Think about this for a moment.  One of the hallmarks of traditional theology is the concept of God’s self-sufficiency; in other words, God does not need anything. While it may be true that God is self-sufficient, God chooses not to be.  God chooses to create, an act of love in which God makes space for all things, visible and invisible, to come into being.  God chooses to set aside self-sufficiency in favour of being in relationship with us.

         For Christians we celebrate God’s choice of relationship rather than self-sufficiency in our belief that in Jesus of Nazareth we meet this God.  In today’s reading from Philippians Paul quotes an early Christian hymn that proclaims that Jesus, whom we proclaim the Christ, ‘did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.’ (Philippians 2.6-7, NRSV)  Jesus sets aside the prerogatives of being God’s Anointed One and chooses to make room for compassion, for suffering, for pain and for death.  All this Jesus does to create a space for you and for me and for all humanity to discover our true identity as beloved of God and to reclaim our right minds.

         The history of the Christian movement is a series of choices made by various communities over the centuries to follow the exhortation of Paul to do nothing ‘from selfish ambition or conceit, but humility to regard others as better than yourselves’, looking ‘not to [our] own interests, but to the interests of others’. (Philippians 2.3-4, NRSV).  Each of these choices was the choice to make room and to create a space in which the ‘other’, whoever the ‘other’ might be, could work out their salvation, their discovery of wholeness, with awe for the love of God and with uncertainty as to where such love might lead them.

         You and I have experienced some of these choices to make room.  I was still a boy when the Anglican churches in North America made room for divorced people to remarry in the church.  I was a teenager when the bishops on both sides of the 49th parallel opened communion to all baptized persons regardless of age or denominational affiliation.  I was just out of university when North American Anglicans realized that the ordained ministries of bishop, presbyter and deacon were incomplete without the gifts of women.  I was a young professor when I discovered that the gift of marriage could not be restricted only to heterosexual couples.

         Each of these choices were not without controversy and some of these choices continue to disrupt our participation in God’s mission of re-creation, reconciliation and renewal.  Sometimes these disagreements remind me of children arguing in the back of the car about how much space they have.  My belief is that the only way forward to give every one room, room to welcome the choices we have made and room to express concern and even dissent.  But with each choice to create space for the ‘other’, we discovered one more dimension of who we are as beings created in the image of God and striving to live in God’s likeness.

         But sharing in God’s work of creating space for others is rooted in the day to day choices of communities such as ours at Saint Faith’s.  Our commitment to the Community Pastoral Resource Centre is a generous expression of our willingness to create an environment of compassion in which those whose human dignity has not been honoured will know that they are precious in God’s sight and in ours.  Even so, we still have work to do.  We know, for example, that we are surrounded by neighbours who have no religious affiliation or identity.  How do we create a space in which they can explore the possibility of faith?  How do we create space for young families for whom the weekend is filled with activities other than worship with a Christian community?  How do we create space for teenagers and young adults whose worlds do not always include space for the Christian way?

         I have no immediate answers for these questions and others like them.  What I do know is that making room for those who are not with us is a gospel imperative.  As the old hymn puts it, “There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea; there's a kindness in his justice, which is more than liberty. . . . For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.  If our love were but more faithful, we should take him at his word; and our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.”

         May God give us all the grace to make room and create spaces in which we and all God’s children may discover our true identities and reclaim our rightful minds.  Amen.