Our Home Street faith community is not physically gathering for worship during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we continue to worship together across the distance. For all who want to join us in our dispersed worship, here is our worship service for this Third Sunday in Lent.
It is with gratefulness that we acknowledge our gathering on Treaty 1 land, and remind ourselves that we are all treaty people. And it is with humility that we who have come to this land more recently confess the harm we have done to those whose families have been here for hundreds and thousands of years.
As we join our voices and offer praise to our Creator, we trust that reconciliation and friendship and a peaceable future will grow out of this time of worship.
Call to worship
Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the Rock of our Salvation!
Come, you who are thirst and can find no water in the desert.
We bring our questions, our complaints, to the Rock of our Salvation.
Come and see the One who speaks to us of living water.
Show us who you are and whowe are, O Jesus.
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the Rock of our Salvation!
It is our pleasure and privilege to be gathered as Your people, in Your presence.
God, we are here with eyes wide open, so that we might see what You want us to see.
We are here with ears tuned, so that we might hear Your voice.
And we are here with soft and tender souls, ready to be touched and shaped by Your gentle hand.
Come, Holy Spirit, do Your work among us as we faithfully offer our worship. Amen.
Follow this link to hear students from Rosthern Junior College sing “I will stand in the congregation. “ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2wAumQF7sI
Prayer of Confession
God of living waters, we confess that we have often turned from You and wandered in our own wilderness of fear and doubt. Our thirst mounts daily, and we turn to many things we believe will satisfy us.
Most acutely, God, we see the news and recognize how many among us have allowed fear to turn our focus inward, to our own personal security and the hoarding of goods. We confess the reflex to place our physical well-being ahead of the needs of others.
God, we also confess the moments during this past week when we have heard the news and recognized the changes that need to happen in our lives, and then selfishly considered the comforts and the luxuries we will need to give up. Where others don’t have bare necessities, and others are trying to heal from illness, our minds still turn to missed vacations, and shrinking retirement funds, and small inconveniences.
God, as we confess moments of self-centeredness, hear our silent prayers.
God, in this time of confession, we also lay before You the anxieties we have a hard time shaking. God, we confess that we need Your assurance and calming presence to dwell deeply within us. We confess that we long for an inner sense of Your peace during a time of uncertainty. We confess that we want to continue sharing Your love for neighbors, and strangers, and the vulnerable. And we confess that we will need Your strength to help us do this.
God, as we confess these things, hear our silent prayers.
Words of Assurance
Know that God has accepted your confessions, and met them by freely offering wells of salvation. Drink deeply and find healing, hope, and joy. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
May knowing this, and believing this, help you live with a deep sense of peace. Amen.
Scripture Exodus 17: 1-7 and John 4:5-42
What a Friday afternoon!! I received emails from everywhere: St. Matthew’s- Maryland Community Ministry to Naturalizer Shoes, The United Church of Canada to Boston Pizza, Rexall Pharmacy to Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Mom and Dad’s retirement residence to Westgate Collegiate, Winnipeg Boys Choir to Home Street Mennonite Church ... and they are still coming!!
Tours are cancelled ... Curling is on but now it is off ... Keep shopping but keep our
employees and our shoppers safe ... Emergency procedures ... Prayer and ...
Church services are happening in a new way
Lots of procedures
Quite a bit of marketing
Some authentic care and concern
The occasional suggestion that together we will get through this pandemic
We are not unique. We are God’s people and like God’s people for millenia, we are living in a difficult time. But God has given us a sign of hope, just as God gave the Israelites a sign!
In the “Show Us ...” Lenten series we are following, today’s texts are about getting water from a rock and a well. They are about people living in difficult times experiencing God’s grace through God’s spokespeople, Moses and Jesus. Who will be the ones to speak and act God’s grace to God’s people today?
Those Israelites, emaciated, beaten and beaten down, were trekking through the desert because Moses told them that God had told him to take them out of slavery. Imagine that ... someone you don’t even know, a single person, saving the world as you knew it. Would you take that leap of faith? Would you follow a complete stranger’s instructions? Could they be worse than the life you were living? Surely, anything would be better.
Our ancestors did not have the road map we have today, with social media and departments of health, international communication and travel, the global village of which we are a part. They just put one foot in front of the other and trusted God. Some of us are better at that than others. We need to journey together!
Saturday morning found me having coffee with my friend Moses! No joke! Moses is a wise lay person living in Regina. (note: there is no toilet paper in stores there; this seems also to be the case for the Winkler Canadian Tire store).
My friend Moses expressed his deep hope that there would be a way for the people of our times to answer God’s call for us to love our neighbours, to reach out in compassion to each other, to have hope in the face of fear and despair. Why should God be asking anything different of us now than God has always asked? I also believe God is giving us an opportunity now to choose not to blame any particular person or group of people for our difficult times; to act differently than our Israelite forbears.
We look to our faith ancestors and their stories for their wisdom ... and what do we find, but a bunch of tired, cranky travellers who take out their frustration on the one person who has steadfastly responded to God’s call to free them from their oppression. I do understand that they would not be feeling their perkiest in the circumstances. I also understand that exhaustion can cause anyone to be stretched to unnatural points of endurance, often involving some mental health imbalance. But really, taking it out on Moses? After all he has done for them?
If you were Moses, what would you do? Would you double-down with your efforts, put up with the derision, and keep going? Would you stop in your tracks and rail at God? Would you say farewell and go your own way?
Moses talked with God (prayer), God responded with a plan (answer to prayer), Moses struck the rock (follow God’s call), and water gushed out (the people were satisfied). But we don’t hear that they were grateful or thankful to either Moses or God. That is truly an unfortunate, missing part of the story, but isn’t it also often part of our story? We can be unaware of God acting in our lives and just take things for granted; or so overwhelmed we just get on with our living without first offering thanksgiving; often our attention is diverted from the many times God’s living water is shown to us and we miss an opportunity to give thanks.
How we see God ... as saviour, punisher, provider, prayer-answerer or something else; whether we know God through our neighbours or complete strangers or whether we understand God to be beyond us; how we name God’s actions in our lives will define how we understand our Christ, Jesus.
When the woman went to the well, she did not use God-language, she did not profess the Hebrew faith, and she certainly did not expect to be having a conversation with a male foreigner about living water. And yet, in the time that she spent with Jesus, she came to know God, to understand love, to find worth and value in herself, and to be transformed enough to become a messenger to others in her town. This is a miracle that is not beyond us in these times.
When the Israelites went to the slave pens that day, they did not expect to be freed; when we woke up on Wednesday morning, we did not expect there to be a declaration of a pandemic that afternoon. And yet, complete strangers have stepped in to offer solutions, to share prayer, to build confidence, to act as God’s messengers in a difficult time.
We might think at first that arguing with and testing God will be our best course of action, but as we take these first tentative steps on this journey, may we remember that God has shown us that water flows from rock and that living water is constantly available to us. May we breathe deeply, trust in God’s moments of salvation, hope abundantly and reach out generously in the name of our Christ. And may God’s will be done here on earth, as in heaven. Amen.
Follow this link to listen to a lovely version of “I heard the voice of Jesus say” recorded by Audrey Assad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mXMQqiLW9c
Prayers of the people
A thoughtful and challenging prayer posted on Facebook this past week. Original author unknown.
Holy and faithful God,
In light of the week we have experienced, and the challenges that still lie ahead,
may we who follow Your Son remain humble.
May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors, remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home,
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close,
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips,
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market,
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home,
remember those who have no home.
As fear, uncertainty and disruption become more evident, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Now God, hear us declare Your sovereignty, and remind ourselves of the world You long for, as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us . . .
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day 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 forever, AMEN.
We have seen the Rock of our Salvation, and we have quenched our thirst
for the living water that gives our lives purpose and meaning.
Let us go now to meet those who thirst for God.
Let us go to listen, just as Jesus does with us.
And let us bring the Spirit’s wholeness to others. Amen.
We are grateful to Leader magazine for worship materials, to Phil Campbell-Enns for writing and assembling the service, to Patricia Baker for the meditation, to Bryn Friesen Epp for the photo, to Matthew Fransen for choosing the hymns, and to Pearl Toews Neil for sharing the prayer on Facebook.