Call to Worship
Come all who are weary:
of wealth, of poverty, of power, of struggle, of division
Come all who are heavy-laden:
with too much, with too little, with anxiety, with fear, with anger
Come all who have hope:
for liberation, for peace, for freedom, for the kingdom
Hear these words: “See, I am making all things new.”
God of mercy, we come celebrating our unity, but we confess the many ways that we are divided. Our nationality, ethnic origin, economic status, gender, age, and musical preferences all too often obscure the common calling we share in Christ’s name.
May our common identity as your children and our communal witness to Christ bind us together in your name.
Forgive our tendency toward separation and division, and remind us that we are all your people.
Reassurance of Pardon
When we walk in the light of Christ, we have fellowship with one another.
When we confess our sins, the One who is faithful and just forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. For in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has showered mercy upon the entire world. Amen.
Please read Acts 10 Reflection
At the very beginning of the Church, the new believers faced a huge question -– should the Jesus movement be for Jews only, or were Gentiles to be included as well? While there were plenty of Gentiles around in Palestine, observant Jews kept themselves separate and did not visit or eat with them. At the same time, many Gentiles were attracted to the religion of the Jews, with its strict morality and spiritual depth.
Peter’s vision of a sheet let down from heaven containing clean and unclean animals was sign to him that in God’s kingdom those old barriers were breaking down.
Cornelius, the ‘God-fearing’ Roman centurion, could be a brother in Christ, and Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit.
Christians are still prone to worry about associating with the ‘wrong’ people or going to the ‘wrong’ places. There can be a sense that to be really holy, we have to avoid getting our hands dirty by avoiding people who don’t share our faith or our opinions. This is the opposite of what Jesus did, or what Peter was taught. If we mingle with people who aren’t like us, we should be less concerned about them infecting us with sin, and more concerned about infecting them with grace.
It would be much easier, Jesus, to ignore the hard truths around us:
- the widening gap between rich and poor,
- the consistency with which the powerful get their way,
- the bending of rules and the self-enrichment of the connected and influential,
- the lack of adequate care, protection and resources for the most vulnerable among us;
we would rather not see these signs.
It would be much easier:
- if we could just pretend everything was alright,
- if we could prophesy goodness and light and ignore the darkness and evil;
- if we didn’t have to offend the status quo or challenge the comfortable;
- if we could convince ourselves that the cross was just a one-time thing – your calling, not ours.
But, we can’t do this, Jesus, because we know too much; your Gospel has captured us and opened our eyes and we have become slaves to love:
- the love that must speak for the voiceless,
- the love that must challenge injustice,
- the love that draws lines of division between truth and denial, between compassion and expediency.
Give us the courage to acknowledge what we see,
- to name the signs of the times
- to disrupt the ‘way things are’ in the name of what should be
- to divide in order to heal and restore to be crucified for the sake of love.
Go into the week rejoicing in God’s generous provision.
Go into the week building bridges with the forgotten
Go into the week to love and serve your neighbour and your God
Rev. Jim Williams