July 3, 2016 Celebrating Canada

This morning is a celebration. We’re celebrating the eternal love, grace and mercy of God.

We’re celebrating the beginning of summer.

We’re celebrating the 149th Birthday of this great country of ours – Canada.

With so much to celebrate, we wanted to do something a little different. You will notice in your bulletin that there is a lot of singing this morning. Each of the songs included in this morning’s service has a Canadian connection, and as we move through the service, you will hear what that connection is.

So let us begin – let us worship and celebrate in song

A Light Is Gleaming               VU 82

* O Canada

“We Are One”. The music for this hymn was composed by Jeeva Sam, a United Church minister currently serving in the Niagara region. The arrangement is by another United Church minister David Kai of Gloucester Ontario. Written especially for the music, the hymn text comes to us from a third United Church minister, Doreen Lankshear-Smith of Thunder Bay.

We Are One               VU 402

Walter Farquharson penned the text of this morning’s Call to Worship Hymn. Born near Rosetown, Saskatchewan in 1936, he was ordained in 1960, served as the Moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1990 to 1992, and was the minister of Saltcoats United Church in Saskatchewan for many years.

A summer holiday inspired the two-verse hymn of celebration, God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness, written while the Farquharson family camped at Kenosee Lake in Moose Mountain Provincial Park in Saskatchewan.

God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness          VU 260

Our opening prayer is a hymn that was written by Edwin Hatch in 1878. Hatch grew up in a non-conformist home, was educated at Oxford, and ordained in the Church of England at the age of 24. A teacher of classics and church history, he taught at Trinity College in Toronto Ontario from 1859 to 1862, and at a high school in Quebec City from 1862 to 1867.

The text of the hymn “Breath on Me, Breath of God” is a prayer for renewal by God’s Spirit. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for “spirit” is the same as “wind or breath”; thus in this text the Spirit of God is referred to as “Breath of God”

Breath on Me, Breath of God                 VU 382

Both the words and the music to our Prayer of Illumination were written by Gordon Light, an Anglican Priest and later Bishop. He was educated at Carleton University and Trinity College in Toronto and following his ordination in 1969, served the Anglican church in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. Bishop Light has four children and currently lives with his wife in Meaford, Ontario.

Come Touch Our Hearts        MV 12

Psalm 121 opens with these words of promise: “I look to the hills! Where will I find my help? It will come from the Lord, who created the heavens and the earth.” The psalm was musically paraphrased by John Douglas Sutherland Campbell. Born in London, England, the British nobleman married Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, and was the 4th Governor General of Canada, holding that position from 1878 to 1883. He became close friends with Sir John A MacDonald and even after returning to England, continued to take great interest in Canadian affairs, particularly in relation to immigration.

Psalm 121                  VU 842

Born in Boston, raised in New Brunswick, and now living in British Columbia, singer-songwriter and Biblical storyteller Linnea Good has been called “the contemporary musical voice of the emerging church in Canada”. She is one of Canada’s best loved faith singer-songwriters for all-ages. As we lit the Christ Candle this morning, we sang the refrain of one of Linnea’s songs, “A Light is Gleaming”. We’ll continue singing the scriptures with her musical interpretation of Psalm 100.

Psalm 100                     VU 820

The text of our next great hymn is a composite by two different authors, both of whom were inspired by Revelation Chapter 19 verse 12, “…and on His head were many crowns.”

The original verses of “Crown Him with Many Crowns” were penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges, an English poet who spent the latter years of his life in Canada. Bridges once wrote a book condemning Roman Catholic theology. Later in life, he left the Church of England and converted to Catholicism.

Godfrey Thring was a devout Anglican clergyman who was concerned that this popular hymn was allowing Catholic theology to be sung by protestant congregations. And so he wrote six new verses.

The 12 verses have been mixed and matched through the years. The hymn as found in most hymnals today includes verses by both Bridges and Thring.

Crown Him with Many Crowns                          vs 1     VU 211

Our offertory response is another piece written by Linnea Good. While working with the children of Ryerson United Church in downtown Vancouver, Linnea asked the children to remember stories of Jesus that they especially appreciated. She took their stories and put them to music.

Hey Now! Singing Hallelujah!               vs 1, 5  MV 121

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven was 25 years old, in love and about to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

Although one can only imagine his pain, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Some 30 years later, the poem was put to music, and remains a favourite hymn for many to this day.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus     VU 664

The words and music for our response during our closing prayers were written by Bruce Harding in 1997. Bruce and his wife Cheryl are recording artists and worship leaders from the Vancouver area in British Columbia.

Spirit God, Be Our Breath                          MV 150

(Verses are sung, one at time, as a response to the spoken prayer; Alison will indicate when to sing each verse by playing the introductory notes)

Please join with us in prayer.

God of Love, Life and Music … we give you thanks for all that inspires creation to sing praises and glorify your name. We give thanks for those whose faith and talent brings us hymns for all reasons and seasons. We give thanks for those who write and play the music, for those who sing the songs, and for the joy and pleasure it brings each one of us to be part of the harmony of creation.

MV 150  verse 1

God of the seasons, we thank you for summer.  You surround us with evidence of revival, eternal life, abundance, resurrection in every field, every garden, every flower bed, every forest, every vacation spot and swimming hole.

Ever-present-One, we sing to you and give thanks for this great country of ours. We give thanks for all who have sacrificed so much so that we might live in freedom in our beloved Canada.

We celebrate and give thanks for the diversity that strengthens and enriches our community and our country.

We give thanks for the abundance that surrounds us. Help us to always be mindful that there is enough for all, and that our calling is to love our neighbour as ourselves.

MV 150 verse 2

We pray this morning for all whose lives have been affected by recent acts of violence, remembering especially the people of Turkey in the recent attack on Istanbul’s airport; the people of Kabul, following a Taliban attack on a police convoy; the people of Bangladesh after 9 gunmen attacked a restaurant on Friday night. As we share in the shock and horror of such violence, we pray for healing and peace.

We give thanks this for all who give to help the hungry, the homeless, the refugees; for all who band together to help one another in times of trial. We especially give thanks for the compassion and life-changing works of Order of Canada recipients Stephanie & Joe Mancini of the Working Centre right here in our region. May theirs be an example we continue to support and follow.

God of Healing and Grace, we bring you prayers this morning for those in our midst who need your healing touch:

We pray this morning for those who are grieving; for those who are ill; for those who are in hospice and hospitals; for those facing food insecurity; for those who feel isolated and alone.

And we take time now to offer the names of others who are on our hearts – hear our silent prayers, loving God, as we lift up those who need to feel your presence, your grace, and your healing touch ….

MV 150 verse 3

God of Creation, as we enjoy this summer season, may our spirits be fertile ground for Your seeds to take root, so that we can grow in compassion, commitment, and deeds worthy of Your name. May we continue to sing your praises in our lives and in our works.

MV 150 verse 4

Our closing hymn this morning is another piece that comes to us from Bishop Gordon Light.

Draw the Circle Wide                    MV 145

Our Choral Benediction, which started as a prayer with flowing movements that elegantly spoke of God of All Things. Linnea Good musically transformed the prayer into.

Like a Rock                MV 92



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