Palm Sunday Worship: March 28, 2021

Let us pray together: We praise you, O God, for redeeming the world through our Savior Jesus Christ. Today he entered the holy city in triumph and was proclaimed messiah and king by those who spread garments and branches along his way. Bless these branches and those who carry them. Grant us grace to follow our Lord in the way of the cross, so that, joined to his death and resurrection, we enter into life with you; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

PROCESSIONAL Hymn: Ride On, Ride On In Majesty

V1: Ride on ride on in majesty! Hear all the tribes hosanna cry: O Saviour meek, your road pursue, With palms and scattered garments strewed.

V2: Ride on, ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die. O Christ, your triumphs now begin O’er captive death and conquered sin.

V3: Ride on, ride on in majesty! The hosts of angels in the sky Look down with sad and wond’ring eyes To see the-approaching sacrificed.

V4: Ride on, ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die, Bow your meek head to mortal pain, Then take, O Christ, your pow’r and reign!

Pastor: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Psalm 31: 9-16

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
10 
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.

11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances;    those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
13 
For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!— as they scheme together against me,    as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15 
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

Hymn of the day: Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus I long to take my stand; The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land, A home within a wilderness, a rest upon the way From the burning of the noontide hear and burdens of the day.

Upon the cross of Jesus my eye at times can see The very dying form of one who suffered there for me And from my contrite heart, with tears, two wonders I confess: The wonder of his glorious love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face; Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss, My sinful self my only shame, my glory all, the cross

Presentation of gifts:

Offertory prayer: O Lord our God, maker of all things. Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts. With them we offer ourselves to your service and dedicate our lives to the care and redemption of all that you have made for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Hymn:

Jesus I will ponder now, On your holy passion. Let your Spirit now endow me for meditation Grant that I in love and faith May the image cherish Of your suff’ring, pain, and death, That I may not perish

Make me see your great distress, anguish and affliction Bonds and stripes and wretchedness and your crucifixion Make me see how scourge and rod, spear and nails did wound you, How you died for those, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.

Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see your passion But its cause to me make known and its termination For I also and my sin Wrought your deep affliction; This the shameful cause has been of your crucifixion.

Let me view your pain and loss With repentant grieving, Nor prepare again your cross By unholy living. May I give you love for love! Hear me, O my Saviour, That I may in heaven above Sing your praise for ever.

Thankyou for participating in worship this day. May your Holy Week Journey be blessed. Serving today: Presiding Pastor – Rev. Pam McNeil; Musician – Linda Yenssen; Hymn leader – David Dietz; Usher – John Polfuss; Greeter- Shirley and William Luedke;

Augsburg Fortress Hymns and liturgy used with permission OneLicense #A736624 all rights reserved.

Worship service for March 14, 2021, Lent 4

Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another:

Most Merciful God: We confess That we are captive to sin And cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, By what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole hearts; We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, So that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, To the glory of your holy name. AMEN

Gathering Hymn: LBW 479

My Faith looks up to thee, Thou lamb of Calvary, Saviour Divine! Now hear me while I pray, Take all my guilt away, Oh let me from this day be wholly thine!

May thy rich grace impart Strength to my fainting heart, My zeal inspire; As thou hast died for me, Oh may my love to thee Pure, warm and changless be, A living fire!

Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

God loved the world so that he gave His only son the lost to save, That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

Hymn of the Day: (hymn tune: when I survey)

All glory to the father, Son, And Holy Spirit, three in one! To you, O blessed trinity, Be praise now and eternally!

Offertory:

Create in me a clean heart O lord and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free spirit.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit And born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven. And is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy catholic Church, The communion of saints, The forgiveness of sins The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen

Sending hymn: LBW 97Christ the life of all the living, Christ the death of death, our foe, Christ yourself for me once giving To the darkest depths of woe; Through your suffering, death and merit, Life eternal I inherit Thousand, thousand thanks are due Dearest Jesus unto you.

Then for all that bought me pardon, For the sorrows deep and sore, For the anguish in the garden, I will thank you ever more; Thank you for the groaning, sighing, For the bleeding and the dying, For that last triumphant cry, Praise you ever more on high.

Go in peace; Share the good news R/ Thanks be to God

Sunday Worship for March 7, 2021: The Third Sunday of Lent.

Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another:

Most Merciful God:

We confess: That we are captive to sin And cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, By what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole hearts; We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, So that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, To the glory of your holy name. AMEN

Lord Take my hand and lead me upon life’s way. Direct, protect and feed me from day to day; Without your grace and favour I go astray; So take my hand O Saviour, and lead the way.

Lord, when the shadows lengthen and night has come I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home; And nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend! So take my hand and lead me unto the end.

Psalm 19: The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

HYMN OF THE DAY: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer’s ear! It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds And drives away all fears.

O Jesus, shepherd, guardian, friend, My Prophet, Priest and King. My Lord, my life, my way, my end, Accept the praise I bring.

How weak the effort of my heart How cold my warmest though; But when I see thee as thou art, I’ll praise thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclaim With every fleeting breath; And may the music of thy name Refresh my soul in death!

Sending hymn: WOV 773 – Send me Jesus

Send me Jesus, Send me Jesus. Send me Jesus, Send me Lord

Lead me Jesus, lead me Jesus, Lead me Jesus, lead me Lord.

Fill me Jesus, fill me Jesus, Fill me Jesus Fill me Lord

Thank you for being part of worship today. This worship service was recorded during in person worship at St Paul Lutheran Church Neustadt.

For those who have the means please continue to support the ministries and expenses of the South Grey Bruce Lutheran Parish: St Paul Neustadt; St Matthew Mildmay and St Paul’s Normanby.

Serving today: Presiding pastor – Rev. Pam McNeil; Worship Assistant – Rob Rekopf; Musician – Marlene Dietz, Hymn leader – Dave Dietz; Caretaker – Eriz Zimmerman

Worship for Sunday February 28, 2021: First Sunday of Lent

SOUTH GREY BRUCE LUTHERANPARISH OF MILDMAY, NEUSTADT and MORMANBY

Order for Confession and Forgiveness provided by the ELCIC Synod for Lent.

We are unfinished. Our universe is unfinished. We confess the ways in which we attempt to limit God’s creative power working in and through us. <Silence>

Creating God, shape us into fruitful co-creators and faithful stewards of your design, liberated by your covenant to bless and be a blessing.

In Jesus we have met the one who, with his very life, showed us the power of love to transform the lives of all who are vulnerable. We confess the ways in which we steadfastly cling to our rights and entitlements, refusing to be changed, or even touched, by the world’s pain. <Silence>

Transforming Christ, move us from comfort to courage, from empathy to engagement, from prayer to policy change.

All things belong together; we are many, and we are one. We confess the ways in which we have allowed separation-from God-within-me, from God-within-you, from God-within-creation- to define us. <Silence>

Enlivening Spirit, breathe into us the breath of your grace that we may release our hold on the fear and arrogance that keeps us from knowing wholeness. <Silence>

Beloved, God’s forgiveness is fulfilled in Christ. Because we are unfinished, we are ever being recreated. Because we have met Jesus, we are ever being transformed. Because we are both many and one, we are ever being enlivened with the Spirit’s power – the grace of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Forgiveness, grace, and love are yours to have ☩ and yours to share, now and always. Amen

announdements; order for Confession and Forgiveness; gathering Hymn
Kyrie; Readings; responsive Psalm and Gospel

Psalm 22:23-31

23You who fear the Lord, praise him!  All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
    stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
28 
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.
30 
Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
    saying that he has done it.

Sermon
Apostle’s Creed and prayers

This prayer chant written by Mark Miller was referred to during the sermon. Here it is sung by the Inshallah community from Waterloo.

This song by Mark Miller is referred to in the sermon. Here it is sung by Inshallah from Waterloo.,

Thankyou for being part of worship. Serving today: Rev Pam McNeil, presiding pastor; Marlene Dietz, musician; Dave Dietz, hymn leader; Liturgy contributions were prepared by Rev. Jennifer Hoover, Rev. John Polacok, Rev Martin Malina. The Inshallah video was edited by Rev Ronnie Smith.

Worship service for February 21: Lent 1

GATHERING

Invite you to join in the order for confession & Forgiveness  (Rev. Brooklynn Lane)

Three in one God, Creator, Child, and Holy Spirit, ☩ We give thanks for your mercy and ask for forgiveness. Amen.

Loving God, Forgive us. We have neglected to see the face of Christ in our neighbour. We have walked past our neighbour and failed to recognize their humanity. We have forgotten that the web of life connects us all. Forgive us.

We are quick to anger, and to cast judgement. Our words pierce like swords when we speak from these places. We let fear, doubt, and lack of understanding guide our actions. Forgive us.

We confess our self-centeredness, and consumer driven thinking has turned us from you and your call for justice and love and care for creation. Forgive us.

God who meets us in the face of each person we meet, Who paints the sky with colours that calm the soul, Who creates a soundscape of rushing rivers, Who gives grace to the world through the winds of the Holy Spirit, Open our hearts to be transformed and changed.

You are forgiven. Through the love of God, in the name of God, ☩ your sins are forgiven. Baptism remains forever. God’s love is here!

Inspiring God, guide us to be agents of change, knowing that our decisions, our actions and inactions affect all people. Help us to have the courage and strength to move forward, to let our hearts and minds be overflowing with love, grace, and a deep awareness that you are with us, guiding us on the journey. Compassionate God, Three in one. – ☩ Amen

The WORD

HYMN OF THE DAY; PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
HOLY COMMUNION

thank you for joining in worship. Serving today: presiding pastor Rev.Pam McNeil; Musician Linda Yenssen; custodian Eric Zimmerman.
Liturgy was provided by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and contributed by Rev Brooklynn Lane, Rev Dr Allen Jorgenson, Rev Martin Malina, and Rev. John Polacok.



Worship for February 14, 2021: Transfiguration of Our Lord

Click on the link below for the sermon from Bishop Pryse:

https://elcic.box.com/s/9gk14vs1gwbwyfnkzmvuh3egk1jkszru

We believe in one God,

        The Father, the Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,

        Of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

        The only Son of God,

        Eternally begotten of the Father

        God from God, Light from Light,

        True God from true God,

        Begotten, not made,

        Of one Being with the Father;

        Through him all things were made.

        For us and for our salvation

  He came down from heaven

  Was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary

  And became truly human.

  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

  He suffered death and was buried.

  On the third day he rose again

  In accordance with the scriptures;

  He ascended into heaven

  And is seated at the right hand of the Father.

  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, 

          And his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

        Who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

        Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,

        Who has spoken through the prophets.

        We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

        We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

        We look for the resurrection of the dead,

          And the life of the world to come. Amen

Worship leaders today: Rev. Pamela McNeil; Musician- Marlene Dietz; Hymn Leader – Dave Dietz; Custodian – Dave Dietz

Worship Ordo for thanksgiving for Baptism is from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Book; Prayers were inspired by the Revised Common Lectionary resource and Sundays and Seasons resource.

The work of God is carried out by the people of God.

written sermon for February 7, 2021

Rev. Pamela McNeil                                                                                                                                                             Date: Feb 7, 2020

Text: Isaiah 40: 21-31; Mark 1: 29-39             Mission: Serve in community

Perhaps like me, you have spent many evenings outdoors under the blanket of stars as described in the reading from Isaiah. – maybe you remember playing well into the evening as a kid, or you sat with a group of friends outside on a summer night, hearing the sounds, smelling the campfire, and feeling small under the great expanse of stars. This image of a starry night is especially appealing and I am inclined to think that this is probably as close to creation and the creator as one can come.

This passage was particularly resonant with people of Bible times. The picture painted by Isaiah is of God who ‘sits above the circle of the earth’ stretching the dome of the stars across the cosmos – a God above and greater than anything. These words kind of gave criticism to the Israelites who were in exile because of their lack of loyalty to God the creator.

You see, the people of God had slipped into habits of honouring stars and worshipping sun and moon gods. But the image presented by Isaiah reveals there is nothing greater than God – not stars, or any other cosmic being. The universe unfolds perfectly in God’s plan.

This image of God’s greatness – God’s omnipotence – is important to keep in mind as we explore the work Jesus does when he leaves the synagogue and enters the home of Simon Peter.

Peter’s mother in law, whose joy and pleasure is to greet people in her home – her domain – is unable to welcome and attend to Jesus and his companions. She is ill with fever.

This is not a simple cold. I’m told that the original Greek word describing her illness indicates that it was very severe – a condition that usually resulted in death. The account of Jesus’ ministry to her is touching. Jesus ‘raises her up’ – this woman who is un-named in scripture is physically and spiritually lifted up by Jesus – Her fever immediately leaves her and she is able to get up and resume her role of greeting her guests, serving them and welcoming them to the table

Now some may protest the subordination of placing this un-named woman in the role of a meek servant, doing the bidding of others. And here is where a true point of this account comes to light:

Women are frequently the ones in scripture who take on the role of Christ-like living, but this is not about the woman –

In fact, this un-named woman is far from being a meek, unliberated person. She is the first person in the gospel of Mark to embody true discipleship.

This is about being a servant. It is about Jesus’ role as a servant. It is about how the things that Jesus does show us personally the greatness of God who stretches the heavens out like a tent over creation.

The healing of the woman is living proof of a gracious God who, even in greatness, is not above caring for us.

This account is also about community. The woman’s encounter with Jesus ‘lifted’ her – removed her burdens, and filled her with strength. The woman is returned to her guests and her community where she is able to contribute and has a position of worth.

The woman’s healing is followed by many healings that evening. All in the community who were ill and possessed by demons were brought to Jesus. The people are nameless, and their being healed is evidence of God’s power and loving care. The community was enriched by the restoration of its population.

Jesus comes to restore humanity’s relationship with God and with each other.

I thought about community when I received the family Christmas photo from our son. The photographer placed the parents behind a waist high limb of a tree. It is a hefty limb, so all 4 children are sitting on it. The 1 year old sister is sitting at the highest point – the branch is on an angle so she is hanging on to her eldest brother’s shoulder for dear life. The eldest brother, to keep from being knocked off balance by his sister is holding on to the middle brother’s arm with a death grip. The middle brother is body slammed against the youngest brother for stability, and the youngest brother is at the lowest point in the slippery sloping branch and he ‘white knuckles’ his mother’s hand tightly as she holds him from sliding off.  The entire group of course, is held safely by the parents. I love how they are all connected, physically and spiritually to each other. That is community.

As part of a community, when things go off balance, others are there for support; when a neighbour begins to slide, they can rely on the community for support; when someone is sad, they have a community to grieve with them. We live in a wonky uncertain time, and being part of a community is strengthening and more important than ever.

 The young people who were confirmed this past summer commented on how weird it felt to be the only young person in the congregation on random Sunday mornings. In other words, they missed that part of the community that is like them. How do we need to be lifted up to see they are part of the community in a different way?

A church community that works together is able to accomplish great things. Lone single believers can speak of God’s greatness, but as evidenced by our parish and congregational projects, together we are much more effective.

So, this account of Jesus healing the woman is also about the value of community where each person has a role and has value.

At the end of the passage, Jesus leads his disciples to the next community to teach about service, to restore community, and this is done as a witness to God’s greatness.

We are the people in the next community. We are blessed by Jesus’ presence in our lives every day. How does this blessing stir us to serve, to be community and to witness and marvel at the mystery of God’s greatness?

Worship service for February 7, Epiphany 5

V1. Longing for light, we wait in darkness; Longing for truth, we turn to you. Make us your own, your Holy people. Light for the world to see:

Chorus: Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts, Shine through the darkness. Christ be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

V2. Longing for peace, our world is troubled. Longing for hope, many despair. Your word alone Has power to save us. Make us your living voice: Chorus

V5. Many the gifts, many the people. Many the hearts that yearn to belong. Let us be servants to one another, Signs of your kingdom come: Chorus Text: and music: Bernadette Farrell b. 1957, c.Published by OCP Publications Used with permission.

hymn 237 LBW; hymn 379 LBW

Serving today: presiding pastor – Rev Pam McNeil; musician -Linda Yenssen, caretaker- Eric Zimmerman

Thank you for joing in worship today. Apologies again for not having space to upload the hymns today.

Removing the unclean spirit: sermon for January 31, 2021

Astounded is a rare word in the NRSV Bible- it is used 14 times in the New Testament to be precise and except in one case it always refers to the actions or words of Jesus. Actions and words that authoritatively shake up traditional ways.

We have heard before that Jesus will bring a new way, and this morning we have a chance to examine what that means.

Jesus taught in the temple and on the hillside in ways that brought people to examine their actions and their understanding of the law.

The tradition was to teach the law and never stray from it so to avoid the wrath of God. If you did the right things, God would love you….? But Jesus taught that loving God and each other was the point and not just keeping the law- God loves us anyway.

Jesus taught that the law only worked if it is led by the gospel of love. He asked people to examine the spirit of the law. In other words, when we love God and love one another, loved them even more than our-self, the law falls in place naturally – obedience to the law comes from a loving heart.

In Deuteronomy we read that God created humans to be in relationship with God. This perfect relationship of God’s desire is called “The Kingdom of God”.

When the people were freed from slavery in Egypt and had travelled through the wilderness, God gave them the 10 commandments. We read that the people were so terrified of the sound of God’s voice that it almost destroyed them. Perhaps it was more like the things God was asking that they didn’t want to hear – things which put an end to their new found self-centred life. They really did not want to listen to God – not listening was more tempting.

This stone that I hold can represent the temptations and sinfulness that fills people. (put the stone in the small burlap bag) The people found themselves holding on to this ‘unclean spirit’, thinking it would build them up, put them in control. ~ In fact it only weighed them down and kept them in the wilderness for a longer time.

God said, ok, if you can’t listen to me, I will send prophets, but the message from the prophets was not appreciated either – and the people killed and abused the prophets. You will read about this if you are entering in to the February Bible Study of Jeremiah.

The message from the prophets simply encouraged people to love God, but the people would rather love themselves, feed themselves, worship themselves, cultivate prestige for themselves (Put more stones in the bag.) They filled their lives with unclean spirits, with temptation and man made false gods. ~

 In our lives we probably carry a few stones of sinfulness around with us too. We want to be in control of how we love, who we give money to, who we invite to the table. That’s trouble because we usually are too selective. There is a temptation to decide who is worthy of our love. This is much like the man with an unclean spirit who spoke to Jesus in the temple – “what have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?” These are the words of someone who would prefer to hoard their love and kindness, ~ someone who would rather tick the boxes of doing the right thing rather than opening their heart to self-sacrifice in love.~

Sometimes we put ourselves first, look after our own interests with some to spare, sometimes we hurt others, – (add a few more stones to the bag) ~

We all have the stones or an unclean spirit that we carry around, most of them are small stones, but there probably are one or two bigger ones, and maybe even a burden that is huge – regrets or bad choices. (the bag is pretty full by now) and we wonder if we will ever walk free.

Jesus says be quiet evil one and come out. (Begin to place the stones around the baptism font) Jesus says this with the voice of love, not a voice of terror. Jesus’ authority comes from the knowledge that the kingdom of God is as near as it has ever been. Jesus speaks with authority because Jesus is filled with a different spirit.

That same spirit fills us at our baptism when we are marked as a child of God and filled with the Holy Spirit.

All these burdens that we could carry around have been drowned in the waters of our baptism. (Push the stones into the water) Our heavy burdens are drowned – they die at the moment of our baptism and the space created is filled with the Holy Spirit to strengthen us.

That is the action of a God of love.

Believe this and go forward in a path of love and caring for others, founded gratitude for God’s love.

Today I invite you to find a stone and place it where you can feel or see it regularly, to remind you that unclean spirits and tempting desires have been given to Jesus and we are set free. ~ J  Perhaps when we are able to gather again in the church, you can select a stone from the font. We will leave them here for a while, reminding us that sin in us has died, drowned in the waters of Jesus’ love and sacrifice. We need carry it no more.

Our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit to astound us!  We are free to find ways to lovingly feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, stand up for those who are persecuted, and to love God with total abandon.

Without the burdens of sin we have the opportunity to see the kingdom of God at hand, – a kingdom where all have what they need, living in loving relationship.

This is God’s deepest desire, this is God’s plan. Let those stones go (dump the rest into the font ) – they have already been dumped into the waters of God’s love and banished forever.

As we approach Lent in the church calendar, our journey to God through baptism and covenant will take us on a meaningful and joyful path. I pray the words from scripture and our meditation will touch every one of us as we journey together on Sunday. May we be astounded!  Amen.