*Lighting of the Christ Candle
Christ, born in human likeness.
Born into this world to bring us life.
May this candle which I light remind us
of the light that comes to us in Christ.
Call To Worship
One: To follow Christ is to seek to be like Christ.
All: We come, as followers of Jesus, seeking to be of the same mind.
One: It is not easy, yet still we are called.
All: We are called to love as Christ loved, to serve as Christ served.
One: So come, let us pray and learn together that we might hear Christ’s call for today.
You call us, O God,
to learn from your Son.
You call us to open up to the
ways in which he calls us to live
together in this world.
And so we pray,
for the strength to live life in Christ;
for the courage to begin again when we falter,
and for the ability to hold onto love through it all.
This we pray in the name of Jesus,
who invited us to pray together:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done one 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 thine is the kingdom
the power and the glory,
forever and ever, Amen.
Music “In the Garden”
Prayer of Confession
To follow Christ is not an easy task,
There are times when we forget
to show love to all;
there are times when we become
overwhelmed by the evils of this world,
and feel as though all is hopeless;
there are times when we turn away
from the path of Christ,
believing Christ doesn’t understand
how difficult it is.
But then we remember:
Christ was born in human likeness.
Christ lived, loved, laughed,
he also felt fear, despair and knew
suffering and death.
Forgive us O God,
and guide us back to following Christ. Amen.
Words of Assurance
In Christ we have been given the gift of forgiveness. In Christ is new life. Let us embrace these gifts and begin anew!
Thanks be to God.
Minute for Mission
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all night long with a fiery light.
He split rocks open in the wilderness, and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock, and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
Having a conversation about a concept like unity is tough to do these days. All around us it feels like there’s a lot of conflict. And as a society, we often focus more on our differences rather than the things that unites us. Or we go the route of avoidance, choosing not to talk about either topic. Especially since it can feel as though unity is an impossible concept. Yet unity is a common theme in our scriptures, especially in our letters from Paul. Yet we need to consider topics like this, because Christ calls us to push past our discomfort so that we can learn more about ourselves, our world and God. So what is so challenging about Paul’s message to the People of Phillipi? Our passage this morning begins with Paul imploring the people of Phillipi to “be of the same mind.” Or, as we would describe it, Paul is encouraging them to be in unity with one another. An invitation that can have quite a few implications. Because when we hear a phrase like this, or when talk about the idea of unity, we often think about the idea of agreeing with one another. Where everyone holds the same viewpoint, where conflict does not exist, where everyone is alike. But is this really what it means to “be of the same mind?” In their commentary on this passage, Ekaputra Tupamahu offers a different perspective. He views Paul’s words as an invitation to “unity in diversity.” Which is a beautiful phrase! Unity in diversity reminds us that we are in fact diverse. It isn’t possible for us to all be exactly the same. Which leads Tupamahu to wonder “. . .how do we live that [unity in diversity] out? What does this unity in diversity look like? Differences are the reality of life, and the rhetoric of unity can often become a way of silencing different voices, dissenting opinions, and of subjugating them into sameness masquerading as unity.” When we focus on the idea that to be united is to be the same, it means we’re no longer hearing the important voices around us. Instead, we can end up silencing the voice of others. All out of the mistaken belief that differences divide. Which they can, but differences can also bring us together. And so, I believe that Paul is inviting his readers then and now to remember that unity is not about our differences, but something more. Paul goes on to describe what “being of the same mind” looks like to him, saying “ make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” Here, what matters is not whether we agree or disagree on all things, but whether we have love. It’s about whether or not we are letting love be our guiding and uniting force. A love which is given to us in Christ. Because when we love one another, it is then that we are remembering who it is that unites us: Christ. Which Paul goes on to remind us of, saying we should also be “Of the same mind as Christ.” Which I believe is what unity is about. Unity in Christ. Unity with Christ, who has shown us how best to love and serve one another. Where who we are as individuals is welcomed. Where differences are celebrated, and where everyone’s story is valued and treasured. But unity is also about how we use our unique gifts for the ministry of Christ. Where we use our voices and gifts to fight for justice, care for the vulnerable, and welcome those who have been turned away by others. Because each of us are gifted in a different way, yet all can be used to for good. Which is why we should celebrate our diversity even as we seek unity. So that we can celebrate the beauty of diversity knowing that our purpose is what we hold in common, through Christ. For Christ calls us together as one Body, for the sake of ministry in this world. So my inivitation to you is this: Remember to go and live love. Go and live your life in the Way of Christ, trusting that together, we are all united in love. With all of our differences, with all that makes us our unique, beautiful selves. In the words of Tupamahu, go and be “united in diversity.”! For each of you is wonderfully and fearfully made by God our Creator. Amen.
*Affirmation of Faith
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.
Prayers of the People
As we gather together this day,
we come filled with grateful hearts.
Grateful for the change of seasons,
the cooler winds, the colorful trees.
Grateful for time with loved ones
and for the ways in which you continue
to call us into a life of service.
Out of this gratefulness, we know too,
O God, that there are many needs in
the world around us.
And so we pause now to join our
hearts in prayer, as we share all
that we carry with us.
We pray for all who live each day in fear,
not knowing what will happen;
we pray for all who experience violence
in their homes, relationships, communities;
we pray for all who filled with grief and despair
at the loss of a loved one, relationship, job;
we pray for all who are lonely and in
need of friendship and love.
Hear our prayers, O God,
and guide us as we seek to
share love, create peace, and
offer a place of comfort. Amen.
Take time to note the ongoing ministry of our charge.
-share about PAR, and ways to give.
Invite people to think about what they have to offer:
donations to church, time to a loved one, their hearts, their prayers, what do you offer to God today?
Music “Blessed Assurance”
Jesus calls us to follow him.
Jesus calls us to a life of love
and a life of serving one another.
So go from here and live into
this great calling.
Go, and follow Christ wherever he leads.
And as you do,
trust that you are not alone.
For God who is love,
Christ who showed us love,
and the Holy Spirit which
surrounds you and holds you
this day and always. Amen.
Worship Service and Reflection were written by Rev. Tara Ann Gourson, September 2020.
Affirmation of Faith is entitled “A New Creed”, and is the creed for the United Church of Canada, 1968.