A Joint Worship Service between St. Paul’s Anglican and Fort Garry UC
Prelude: Peter and Silas Jo
Call to Worship
The Spirit of God moves among us,
binding us in covenant with faithful people
of every time and place.
The Spirit stirs within us,
moving us to proclaim the gospel to all people.
The Spirit moves through us, making us channels of God’s love.
As we gather to worship,
we open ourselves to the spirit of the living God
made known to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hymn: We Are Pilgrims VU 595
Affirmation of Ministry (An Act of Covenanting for Lay Leaders)
Affirmation of ministry is the act
Whereby a local church of the United Church of Canada
recognizes the diverse gifts of its members
and celebrates the particular ministry
of each person in the life of the church
or in various settings in the life of the world.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts,
but the same Spirit gives them.
There are different ways of serving,
but the same God is served.
There are different abilities to perform service,
but the same God gives ability to each of us
for our particular service.
The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way
in each person for the good of all.
Christ is like a single body,
which has many parts.
It is still one body
even though it is made up of different parts.
If one part of the body suffers,
all the other parts suffer with it;
if one part is praised,
all the other parts share its happiness.
All of us are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it.
Miriam Stobbe Reimer has been called by God
to serve God’s people in the healthcare field,
in the area of Spiritual Care.
She has accepted her call
and she desires to witness to that call
in the presence of this congregation.
Sister in Christ,
it is an honour to be entrusted
with responsibility for particular service
in the ministry of the church
whether gathered or scattered.
Having prayerfully considered
the duties and responsibilities of your ministry,
are you prepared to serve with the help of God
in Christ’s name and for the glory of God?
Do you promise
to exercise your ministry diligently and faithfully,
showing forth the love of Christ?
I do, relying on God’s grace.
Members of this household of faith,
You have heard the promise of our sister in Christ
who has answered God’s call to service.
Let us affirm our intention to live in covenant with her.
Will those who are able
rise and witness to the commitment we now make?
(All who are able stand.)
We gather in celebration of the joy
that is ours to be partners with you
in the service of Jesus Christ.
We promise to love you,
honour your leadership,
and assist you
that together we may be a faithful church of Jesus Christ.
(The congregation may be seated.)
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is the symbolic act
whereby the church in every age
recognizes God’s call to ministry
in the lives of people and asks the Holy Spirit
to confer upon them the gifts of ministry.
May the Holy Spirit strengthen you, Miriam,
for the ministry of Spiritual Care
and equip you with everything good to do God’s will.
Receive authority to carry out
the office of Spiritual Health Practitioner
and Clinical Service Lead at Misericordia Health Centre
in the name of Christ. Amen.
you have called these people
to serve you in this household of faith and in the world,
which you have entrusted to our care and keeping.
Send your Holy Spirit on Miriam
that she may serve among us
with honour and faithfulness.
Help her to be diligent in her duties
that your church may prosper
in the mission you place before it.
May her example prove worthy for all of us to follow,
as we are united in Christ’s ministry,
to the glory of your name. Amen.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
and on behalf of the people of Fort Garry United Church
of the United Church of Canada,
I rejoice to announce:
You are recognized and affirmed in your ministry
as Spiritual Health Practitioner
and Clinical Service Lead at Misericordia Health Centre.
Greeting of Christian Love
In accordance with the faith and order of this church,
I extend to you the hand of Christian love.
Thanks be to God.
(The congregation may show approval and support by applause)
The Choir Anthem: Sweet, Sweet, Spirit
Acts 2:1-8 – Chris Trott (St. Paul’s)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Reflection: The language of the Soul
Language is power. That’s what we say, and that’s what we believe. We use language to communicate - to listen and to express. Language provides the foundation of belonging. The word, ‘mother tongue’ indicates how language helps shape the innermost of our beings. Language is also a great tool to make a difference in the world. When we are concerned about any issues like climate change or social isolation, the first thing we do is to talk to people about it. In our everyday life, a clear and effective communication style can help us achieve our goals much faster than the lack of communication or miscommunication. It’s like we can get to our destination much faster by taking a car than by walking.
The distance between my home and the church is 10 km. It takes 15 minutes by driving. It takes a half an hour by biking. But it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes by walking. So, chances are that I would choose to drive or bike over walking because it would save me a lot of time. Moreover, because I know how to get here, I don’t have to worry about getting lost. I don’t need a map or navigation or asking a stranger to help me out with a direction. That’s what clear communication looks like. It gives us confidence and power to control so much so that we sometimes take it for granted. We may even feel impatient or frustrated by those who choose to walk or have to walk because they don’t have a choice.
Having spoken English as my second language over the last 15 years in Canada I understand well the pain of a language barrier. It’s like taking a long walk in an unfamiliar territory. Countless times I didn’t have a clue what people were talking about. I couldn’t stop them because there were too fast. How can a walker stop drivers unless they slow down first to pay attention? This language barrier makes me feel vulnerable. I remember taking a SkyTrain in Vancouver at night after visiting a friend of ours. A guy a few seats away from us was looking at us while my family fell asleep. I didn’t like the way he was looking. He started murmuring some words I could not understand. I remember being so nervous because if anything happened to us, I couldn’t even explain the situation properly in my new language. My broken English has been a source of laughter for those around me.
Somewhere along the way in my struggle with the language I began to see what’s really going on around the issue, the so called “language barrier.” Whose barrier is it really? Even the word, ‘barrier’ indicates it is a problem to fix or a challenge to overcome. The assumption here is that there is such thing as a standard English; you need to fit in in order to belong. If language is power, who or what gives that power? I have come to realize that the language barrier is a product of the language hierarchy, the system in which we put higher value on a certain type of communication. Why is it that we accept certain accents as normal while othering other accents? This imbalance of power is the real problem not the language barrier.
I remember a couple who used to come to our church. They both came with a walker. The husband was experiencing a memory loss. He used to speak both English and Hungarian, but now he spoke only Hungarian. In fact, he lost the ability to speak English. His wife was one of the few people he could recognize so he always wanted to be close to her. Whenever I tried to interact with him in English, he looked at his wife for translation. I often wondered what Hungarian meant for him. His mother tongue was one of the last resources available for him to engage the world around him. It was a lifeline for him. The mother tongue made him feel seen, heard, and understood.
Today’s Bible story is about communication, which itself is a miracle. Even if we speak the same language in the same room, each of us understands differently. How many times have you said something only to find out your communication partner heard something else? I’m convinced that it takes more than what’s been said, more than just the words, to truly understand each other. We must allow the Spirit to enter our conversations. The Spirit enabled those gathered in the upper room to speak. They were waiting for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had instructed. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a wind, and it filled the entire house where they were waiting. The miracle is not complete until the people outside from various nations were able to hear, each in their own native language. Is it a miracle of speaking? Or is it a miracle of hearing? Or both? The story highlights how surprised the crowd was to hear the most familiar words in the least expected place. Their mother tongues made each of them feel seen, heard, and understood. That’s the work of the Spirit. It connects us, unites us, and helps us communicates beyond the language we use. For, spirit speaks to spirit, deep speaks to deep, and heart speaks to heart.
Last week I walked home all the way from the church. This was something I always wanted to do but hadn’t had the chance for some reason. And finally, I seized the opportunity. I took the same roads I’d always taken while driving. But walking allowed me to see the same things differently. I could see more details with a change of perspective; the distance between myself and what’s around me became shortened. I saw lots of Blue Bombers fans walking or riding a bike on their way to the stadium. I found a sculpture created for a place to pause along the Bishop Grandin Greenway. The walk took 6 times longer than by driving. But the slow pace allowed me to communicate with my surroundings in a way that I could never feel while driving.
We live in a world that puts higher value on what’s faster, what’s more efficient, and what’s more productive. I wonder how much we have been missing out in our interactions with one another while preoccupied by those values. If we can communicate using only words, tell me why I feel that the birds in the air or the gentle breeze knows my soul. If the language barrier is a thing, tell me why I felt most understood by people who spoke different languages than mine? Is it only me who longs for a deeper connection every time we gather on Sunday morning beyond the language we speak? I pray that we all receive the gift of tongues for deeper speaking and the gift of ears for deeper listening. May we be fluent in the stillness and silence of the soul’s native tongue until everyone feels heard.
Invitation to Generosity (Offering)
Offering Response: Peter and Silas Jo
bring to the bones of these gifts
the flesh of our actions,
and the breath of our caring,
that our church and our service to others
may come to life in your name. Amen.
Prayers of the People – Miriam Stobbe Reimer
Hymn: Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow VU 196
Blessing & Sending Forth
As people of faith we have gathered for worship.
As people of faith we now return to the world.
Go out to share the story of faith,
the story of life, with the world around you.
We share the faith in word and in deed,
in speech and in action.
As you go out to give a living witness,
as you go out to testify to God's love active in the world,
go knowing that God goes with you,
sharing the laughter and the hope, the fears and the tears.
Thanks be to God! Amen.