July 26, 2020

Story telling (click here)

Passage: Psalm 105:1–8; Romans 8:26–39; Matthew 13:31–35, 44–52
Service Type:


JULY 26,  2020




  • We thank Rev. Shirley Cochrane for leading us in worship today. This is Rev. Ena's Sunday off; Rev. Ena will begin 4 weeks of Holiday and 1 week of sick leave in August. Services for the next 5 weeks will be shared by Rev. Shirley Cochrane, Janet Hanna and John Hanna. We pray that God will be with Rev. Ena and bring refreshment and renewal to her mind body and soul.
  • Thank you to all who have risen to the challenge of John Love. To see more about this check the "Recent Posts" to the right side of your screen.


Give thanks to the Lord and call on God’s name!

We will praise our God and tell of all God’s wonderful works.

Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

We will give glory to God’s holy name!

Seek the Lord, God’s strength and presence continually.

We will remember God’s mercy and justice in worship and praise.


HYMN     290 – Immortal, invisible, God only wise (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)


  1. Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
    in light inaccessible hid from our eyes;
    most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
    almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.2. Unresting, unhasting and silent as light,
    nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
    thy justice like mountains high soaring above
    thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.3. To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
    in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
    we blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree,
    and wither, and perish; but naught changeth thee.4. Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
    thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
    all laud we would render: oh help us to see
    'tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

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God of the past, present and future, we marvel at the wonder of your creation.

We praise you for the blessings of this season, for gardens growing, birds singing,

shouts of joy in times of play and restful evening sunsets. Such good gifts all around us remind us of your faithfulness to us. You promise us a life beyond anything we can hope or imagine, a kingdom marked by grace, love and justice for all. In Jesus’ name, by the power of the Spirit breathing within us, We praise you for your loving kindness and the hope it brings to us day by day. As we consider your faithfulness to us, we cannot but help think about the ways we have not lived faithfully. So we confess together:



Merciful God: We confess that we feel more comfortable with the way things are, rather than live out the challenges we meet in Jesus. Tempted by the promises of our culture, we rely on the status quo to protect and prosper some but not all. Turning away from the cries of the hurting, we fail to stand up for the justice they seek. Afraid to speak of our faith and hope in you, we remain silent and complacent. Forgive us all the ways we let you down. We come in Christ’s name  AMEN



Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn us? Only Christ—

And Christ died for us; Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free by God’s generous grace. Thanks be to God!




HYMN       500 – Open my eyes


  1. Open my eyes, that I may see
    Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
    Place in my hands the wonderful key
    That shall unclasp and set me free.

    • Refrain:
      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my eyes, illumine me,
      Spirit divine!
  2. 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.

    • Refrain:
      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my ears, illumine me,
      Spirit divine!
  3. Open my mind, that I may read
    More of Thy love in word and deed;
    What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
    Only for light from Thee I plead.

    • Refrain 3:
      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my mind, illumine me,
      Spirit divine!
  4. 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.

    • Refrain 4:
      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my heart, illumine me,
      Spirit divine!

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Psalm 105:1–8    Read Responsively


1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;  tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;  seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;   his judgments are in all the earth.

He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations


Romans 8:26–39

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long;   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[c] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 13:31–35, 44–52

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”[c]

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”



God of wisdom, you teach us with your love, you touch us with your mercy, and you challenge us with your truth. Send us your Holy Spirit to help us understand the depths of your Word speaking to us through the scriptures this day. Amen.


A long time ago, my small grand daughter Ashley would bounce into the house and within a short time would say  “ Nawnee – talk me a story !”  In reality, I read to her from books - but she loved stories. Story telling  has been a major part of civilization – probably since humanity  could talk. It’s the manner in which history and culture has been handed down over the milleniums. I suspect in the last couple of thousand years, writing, reading and speaking stories has preoccupied a good portion of the world’s population.


That’s what Jesus did !  Talked stories. In fact the gospels tell us sometimes folks gathered by the hundreds and hundreds when he began to tell them. Jesus must have had a very compelling voice along with his mastery of story telling. But his stories were not always straight forward.  He called  them parables.  Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.  So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”


Parables are “word pictures” which employ a less than obvious way of putting across a point.  Although usually the story speaks of everyday events, they are often indirect and puzzling, masking the hidden depth of truth, yet capturing attention of those who are listening. Jesus clearly understands that a direct frontal theological assault simply goes over peoples heads - or worse yet, turns them away. Nor are his parables simply about making people feel guilty; often it’s about bringing people face-to-face with how their sin and brokenness concretely impacts the people around them.


Remember the context of the first century. So much could be said by describing the Roman culture and its immoral classism and sexism. Judeans lived under the oppression of a foreign government. Normal everyday life included physical and social distancing from the diseased; the systemic inequity by status - be it language, religion, or gender; sickness and sadness because of hunger, thirst, and displacement. This is the world to which Jesus is speaking to, saying that God is at work in him. Sounds a lot like this century, doesn’t it ?


I dare to say we are not unfamiliar with Jesus parables. They show up in the lectionary with regularity. But perhaps, like those who first heard the stories wherever Jesus showed up - we don’t always “get the point”!


What does it mean?  The listeners asked each other   What does it mean?  the disciples asked Jesus himself. As a teacher, he had a tendency to raise more questions than answers ... make us do some soul searching! Make us transcend that illusion of Normal!


Here is an illustration I found;

A young anthropologist named Connie works among aboriginal people in Australia. The community where she lives has a rich tradition of storytelling. Everyone gathers at night, a story is told, and then another, and another. Connie feels extraordinarily privileged when she is asked to join in this activity.

The first story told that evening is about the animal ancestor of this community and its adventures at the beginning of time. The story overflows with detail, action, imagery. At the end of the story, Connie is delighted. "May I ask a question?" she says. "What does it mean?"

All eyes are upon her. The elder looks at her gravely and says, "That is the one question you cannot ask." A long time passes before she is invited again. She has asked the wrong question.

"What does it mean?” may also be the wrong question for us to ask about any of the stories told by Jesus. "What does it mean?" is the wrong question if we think that by having an answer, we can somehow get a handle on this story, domesticate it, make it safe. The stories Jesus tells are not subject to our control. He tells these stories so that we can be transformed. He tells these stories, not so that we can ask questions about them, but so that the stories can ask questions of us.  (Charles Hoffacker,  Internet)


Jesus’ parables, sayings, and stories from Matthew are filled with ethical and environmental reflection, providing wonderful starting points: Jesus is always talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. Rarely, if ever, is it a “something-after-you-die” reality. Descriptions suggest activities we can engagein now so we can live a more just, more life-giving, more peace-filled way of being.


Today’s reading from Matthew relates the parable of the mustard seed, whose tree offers shelter for the birds, and the parables of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price. The parables draw attention to remarkable growth arising from insignificant beginnings. Similarly, they point to discovering something of such great value that we are willing to sell all we have to possess it. The pairs of parables are linked through the word “hide” in the parable of the yeast the woman hides yeast in the flour, while in the parable that follows, the treasure is hidden in a field.


Matthew 13 concludes with Jesus asking the disciples if they have understood what they have heard. The disciples respond “yes”. Perhaps we are intended to take their answer at face value. I confess to being a bit suspicious, having learned that hard ,hat understanding often emerges over time and in new ways, proving my first level of understanding has been short-sighted – or - I’m still wallowing in “hmmmmm ?”


We need to hear that the work of setting the world right is the work of God Incarnate. Can you see where God is at work in the world? Does this seem an

insane question in the midst of our current reality?  If So, breathe….. God IS doing something. Look for it. You might just be surprised at what you see.


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how something so small that it is invisible to the eye can grow rapidly into a destructive force that consumes all our attention and resources, as individuals, communities, nations, and a world. This chaos and disruption, is beyond what our normal practices can fix. We want to weed the garden and the gardener is saying, “Wait. Watch.”  This text offers a counter-image to this destructive force. The parables describe how the kingdom of heaven emerges from something almost invisible to the eye and grows , offering us a treasure worthy of all our attention and resources. So, in this field of fear and confusion, God’s kingdom is present, and awaiting joyful discovery. (Matt 13:44). Christ’s word of reconciliation, forgiveness, and liberation arrives in the midst of hardship — offering stability and peace.


This is the message found in Romans 8, posed in the form of two questions: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37). Nearly every sentence is a new way of stating the promise that God has not abandoned "us," and is in fact working—across the past, present, and future—on our behalf.  No force, no circumstance, or no event can severe this attachment. Christ joins us in the rubble.


The kingdom of God, while at first invisible and hidden, grows into a sheltering and life-giving place for God’s creatures. It spreads throughout the dough, transforming everything it touches The kingdom of God electrifies people with abandon, courage, and joy.  The kingdom of God doesn’t close us off to the world—it opens us to it.


We tend to think that theologians as folks who have spent long years at seminary and in study of scripture. To wit – their understanding digs deep. Yet that is not necessarily the prescriptive to being a theologian.  I’ve said it before - theology is simply “God talk” When any of us share the good news of the gospel - or the stories of the Bible,  we are theologians.


Nor are parables a thing of ancient days. Remember! Jesus saw what was happening in the world around him – he comments on real daily life. Likewise there are many folks sharing stories and insights of the kingdom in todays world .


One of my favourite theologians shares theological thoughts and experiences through published writing. Two of Patsy Clairmont’s books are - God uses Cracked Pots   and Normal is just a setting on the Dryer.  Over the years she has been invited to share her faith as the key speaker at numerous and varied conferences.  Her book which I read not long ago – again - has 32 chapters of modern-day parables. Insights into stuff which happened in her life but which has relevance for a lot of us,  delightfully putting  the situation in light of God’s perspective.


Another favourite theologian of mine is Charles Schultz, creator of “Peanuts” - those famous little kids - Charlie Brown, Lucy and her little brother Linus, Schroeder – the musical nerd who loves Beethoven, Snoopy the” best friend “dog and many more little people.


Schultz’s comic strips had immense popularity – well drawn, simple, entertaining, fun, but also with something to say. He had a deep love and insight into the Scriptures.  Like Jesus, Schultz addresses his theology to non-believers.  Sometimes, but not always, the message comes through loud and clear with direct quotes from the Bible.  Other times the point is subtle and clothed in humour -speaking to both Christians and non-believers alike. As Snoopy said “There’s no sense in doing a lot of barking if you don’t really have anything to say” (The Parables of Peanuts p. 9) Shultz himself said “We are all members of the priesthood so why can’t a cartoonist preach in the same manner as a minister?” (The Parables of Peanuts p. 14) Life with all it’s ups, downs, and foibles is mirrored  through the actions and expressions of  this particular community of children. Normal everyday joy, love and conundrums are wonderfully illustrated in Schultz’s 4 to 6 little boxes  even though  we  can’t put life into a box.


Normal?  NO! Our world and our lives are working through what we thought was normal  and is now perplexing and scary when pondering what the “New Normal” will be like. In Charlie Brown’s words, we echo “Good Grief!”


Patsy Clairmont’s last paragraph in “ Normal is just a setting …  goes thus ;

Life often come at us with TNT force, leaving us emotionally sensitive and spiritually bewildered. Our circumstances often don’t seem fair and don’t appear to be normal. My quest for normalcy had brought me to the understanding that our commonality is our abnormality. The good news is that that’s OK. We are amazingly unique which beats normal any day. In fact we are so amazingly designed that God supervised the placement of our inner workings and registered our existence even before we were held for the first time.  Then He who formed us, takes His involvement a step further and uses our circumstances for our best interests. That leaves us free to embrace the fact that normal … is just a setting on your dryer ! (page 140) AMEN


HYMN                 496 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet


  1. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
    and a light unto my path.
    When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way,
    still you're there right beside me,
    and nothing will I fear as long as you are near.
    Please be near me to the end.Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
    and a light unto my path.2. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
    and a light unto my path.
    I will not forget your love for me,
    and yet my heart forever is wandering.
    Jesus, be my guide and hold me to your side,
    and I will love you to the end.Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
    and a light unto my path.

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God has blessed us with gifts and resources, signs of God’s goodness and generosity. Let us share our abundance with others through our offerings, so they too may rejoice in God’s goodness.





Loving God, you are so faithful and generous to us. We offer these gifts to you in Jesus’ name, trusting that you will bless them and us, so that your goodness is multiplied to touch the lives of those in need, for Christ’s sake. Amen.



Good and generous God, In Jesus Christ you came to us, promising us life in abundance. We give you thanks today for the abundant gifts we receive in him: Assurance of your love day by day; Relief of mercy when we recognize our own failings; Hope renewed when things seem bleak; Peace that comes when we trust ourselves to your eternal keeping. These are the gifts that matter, O God, so for all the times we experience these gifts we thank you in these moments of silence:

(Keep silence)

Generous God, the world is going through incredibly difficult times these past months. In this time of so much uncertainty – in personal lives, in national and international political upheaval, and so much more , priorities appear to get skewed and so we pray  more fervently  for your  wisdom and guidance  to prevail


We pray for all whose lives seem empty of joy: Because plans have changed, and friends seem far away. Because hearts are filled with disappointment and loneliness. Because sorrow and grief rise up each day. Support each one we name in this silence with your abundant compassion:

(Keep silence)


Gracious God, so many things must be rearranged because of the pandemic and what it has revealed. We pray for those whose lives are empty of purpose and for those who do not know the respect of their neighbours: Because they are without work. Because they face discrimination and are devalued in our communities. Because they have made poor choices and cannot find a way forward. Support each one we name in this silence with your abundant mercy and show them signs of hope:  (Keep silence)


Almighty God, We remember before you in silence those who lives are empty of peace and hope: Because they struggle with illness or disability. Because they are powerless in the face of violence. Because old animosities rankle and opportunities for reconciliation are elusive. We pray for all victims and survivors of human trafficking. We give thanks for those who work diligently to end all forms of human trafficking.  (Keep silence)

Send your dove of peace and promise to create new possibilities for each one.


God of strength and encouragement  we remember  those  working on the front lines  and today  we lift to you those who work as paramedics  in the Ambulance Service . Like all first responders  they often  do not know the circumstances  they are  facing so we ask that you will keep them in safety and good health


Good and generous God, fill us with the energy and compassion of your Spirit to reach out to those facing difficult times. May we become the gift we have received in Jesus for it is in his name we pray, saying…



Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.


HYMN                 671  I heard the voice of Jesus say


  1. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    'Come un to me and rest;
    lay down, thou weary one, lay down
    thy head upon my breast!'
    I came to Jesus as I was,
    weary and worn and sad;
    I found in him a resting place,
    and he has made me glad.2. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    'Behold, I freely give
    the living water; thirsty one,
    stoop down, and drink and live!'
    I came to Jesus, and I drank
    of that lifegiving stream;
    my thirst was quenched, my soul revived
    and now I live in him.3. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    'I am this dark world's light;
    look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
    and all thy day be bright?'
    I looked to Jesus, and I found
    in him my star, my sun,
    and in that light of life I'll walk
    till traveling days are done.

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May the grace of Christ which daily renews us, and the love of God which enables us to love all, and the fellowship of the \Holy Spirit  which unites us into one body make us eager to do the will of God until we meet again  through Jesus Christ our Lord .

Go Now In Peace

Go now in peace. Never be afraid.

God will go with you each hour of ev’ry day.

Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.

Know He will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love, and show you believe.

Reach out to others so all the world can see.

God will be there, watching from above.

Go now in peace, in faith and in love.       

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