Follow me and I will make you fishers of people!

Follow me and I will make you fishers of people!

This is probably a familiar passage and it has been a rallying cry to ‘right’ those who are wrong.

To build on the words of poet laureate Amanda Corman, ( i couldn’t resist) this often means that rather than leaving what “just is”, the call to be ‘fishers of people’ has been distorted to appear to be “justice” – the right thing to do. It usually misses the mark by a long shot. 

Christians have their own history of damage and annihilation in fishing for people – the crusades, and residential schools at the top of the list followed closely by modern day exclusion and shunning of people who didn’t fit into a less than righteous view of small ‘h’ holiness.

We feel the urgency of this mission, but don’t always get it right, but don’t worry, we are not alone in getting it wrong.

The disciples themselves felt the urgency to drop everything and follow Jesus- urgency as described by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, Urgency where spouse and responsibility and grief and joy pale in comparison – great and unstoppable urgency.

They felt that but even so, the disciples soon became distracted from their following and were tempted by their vision of what Jesus would make of them – fishers of people – maybe the most important fishers of people – maybe even, the most important people- and so it goes. It is humorous to look ahead and see these same two brothers, James and John- sons of Zebadee – as they argue over who will sit in the important place beside Jesus. When the focus is on the “I will make you” part of Jesus’ words at the seashore that day, imaginations run wild with visions of importance.

The disciples’ enthusiasm to follow Jesus was overshadowed by their personal desire for greatness.

But if we stop and truly hear Jesus call, the only invitation he issues is to say “Follow me”! That is all we are called to do. Simply.  Follow.  Jesus.

The rest is the work of Jesus. The “I will make you fishers of people” is what Jesus promises that HE will do!

God through Jesus will accomplish God’s will, and we see this all too clearly in the story of Jonah – part of which we heard this morning. God wants Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people to repent and return to God.

Jonah is so smart that he knows better than God – Jonah himself judges the people of the city  and declares them to be so disobedient that they will NEVER change – Jonah judges them as hopeless and he runs in the opposite direction, But that didn’t work out too well for him and Jonah ends up where God wants him to be- Down Town Nineveh! We might make note that willingness to follow is not always necessary for God to accomplish God’s purpose – as this account shows.

However, Jonah is still pretty sure that God is wrong (why is it so difficult to learn) But in a manner of humoring God, Jonah walks through the streets – maybe even mocking the people – Hear ye! Hear ye! 40 days more and you’re all going to be done for!

But Jonah finally completed the work God called him to do. Jonah finally spoke to the people.

So when we hear the call to follow Jesus, what does that sound like and what does that mean for us?

Understanding how that call will play our in our life requires a close relationship with Jesus. When we follow a sports celebrity or an artist we learn as much as we can about them. Then we have a sense of their goals and plans and celebrate with them in successes. It is the same in following Jesus. Learn as much as we can about Jesus, loving what he loves.

Right now it is a privilege to work with the young people in the congregation to explore and build on a relationship with Jesus – to question our understanding and to build strong faith foundations. Hold these young people, Presley, Travis, Lesley, Nathan, Dylan, Marie and Ben and ourselves in your prayers as they and we explore stories of Jesus’ love for us and truly hear Jesus’ commandment to love God and love one another.

Pray for ways to follow Jesus in love.

Loving as Jesus loves means that our heart aches when we hear news stories of children being held in cages, when we hear accounts of young people deprived of hope who complete suicide, accounts of injustices that we are not able to fix. Sometimes only our understanding is broken.

Quite often, following Jesus means making an effort to understand.

At one point in my life, I had an opportunity to work with children whose parents were residential school survivors. Many of the young people had been in trouble with the law and had a high chance of continuing on that path. They spoke of loss of their language and traditions that marked milestones in their life – of the knowledge that something was missing leaving them with an emptyness. Of course, their parents did not know the traditions, so the children floundered and trouble found them. I met them when they were in a week long enrichment setting, learning about their heritage. I may have mentioned this before, but I was astounded with the attention of these young people – these restless, trouble makers. They sat for hours listening and learning as a wise elder shared what had been taken away from these people.

Sometimes following Jesus means to lovingly desire and seek to understand others. Jesus is calling each of us to follow him. How we hear the call is as unique as each of God’s children. We are called to follow Jesus in love and to be loving. And make no mistake, there is an urgency to this call. We cannot be distracted by thinking we need to tell God what to do. We need not be the judge of who is worthy. We are called to follow Jesus’ commandment to trust and love God, and love one another. God will do the rest.

Worship for January 17, 2021 The Second Sunday after Epiphany


Serving today: presiding pastor Rev Pam McNeil; Musician Marlene Dietz; Hymn leader Dave Dietz; Epiphany Liturgy written by Rev. Rick Pryce, Lunenburg Lutheran Parish, Nova Scotia.

Worship Service with Communion, and Social time for CHRISTMAS 2020, Carols, Candles, and a visit to the stable.

Welcome and Gathering
The Word in scripture and song
Meal
Sending
Social time and visit to the stable

Presiding Pastor: Rev. Pamela McNeil; Greeter: Laurie Zimmerman Hopf; Readers: Mike Bender, Harry Bender, Glenn Jacques; Hymn Leaders: Madison Bender, Harry Bender, Dave Dietz, Darlene Divers, Eileen Rehkopf, Darrell Rehkopf; Pianist: Marlene Dietz; Organist: Pam McNeil; Communion Assistants: The Tuesday Afternoon Bible Study Group; Social Time Entertainment: Ruth Mae and Rob Rehkopf; The Rehkopf Singers – Darlene, Eileen and Darrell; Tour Guide at the Stable: Mark Diebel.

May you be filled with the presence of The Christ Child.

Worship service for the Longest night Dec 21 2020

Thankyou for joining in worship this evening.
Pastor Leanne and Pastor Pam are available for conversation and the following help services are available 24 hours/7 days: Ontario Community services: dial 211; Canadian suicide Prevention hotline- dial 833-456-4566. Mental health and physical health require professional care.

Hymn and image credits in order of appearance:

Comfort, Comfort Now my People: text: Johann G. Olearius, 1635-1711; tr. Catherine Winkworth 1829-1878

Of the Fathers Love Begotten: Text: Marcus aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413; images from @CanadianPaintings: in order – “Chopping Wood” by Allen Sapp 1972; “woman with Doves in a Canadian Landscape” by Sarah Robertson n.d.; “Cardinal” by James Fenwick Lansdowne 2002; “Deer in the Morning” by Eddy Cobiness 1976; “November off Elsmere Island” by Doris McCarthy n.d.; “The Excitement of First Heavy Snow” by William Kurelek 1974; “rising Mist” A.J. Casson 1965; “Comox Valley” E.J. Hughes 1953

T’was in the Moon of Wintertime: text John de Brebeuf, 1593-1649; c1927 The Frederick Harris Music Company

I Want To Walk As A Child Of The Light: Text and Music Kathleen Thomerson, b.1934 c1970, 1975 Celebration. Image credits: first image – “Quiet Moment of Gratitude” by Christi Belcourt. Image 2, 5 and 6 clergy stoles images used with permission Jenny Gallo | c 2020 Carrot Top Studio | carrottop studio.com  – image 4 – Halifax Lutheran Church of the Resurrection; image 7- Mary and Jesus by Parker Fitzgerald and Brittany Richardson.

The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns Text: Georg Weissel, 1590 – 1635; tr Gracia Grindal b. 1943; Music J.A. freylinghausen 1704. Text and arr c 1978, 2006 Augsburg Fortress

As The Dark Awaits The Dawn Text: Taize community, Music: Jacques Berthier, 1923-1994 c 1984 Les Presses de Taize, GIA Publications Inc.

The sending prayer is used with permission: Jan Richardson, “Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night” in The Advent Door, Entering A Contemplative Christmas, accessed December 20, 2018, http://adventdoor.com/2011/12/19/winter-solstice-blessing-for-the-longest-night/.

This service was inspired and adapted from Discipleship Ministries: The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu, HI, “Blue Christmas: A Service of Reflection for the Longest Night,” accessed December 20, 2018,  https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/blue-christmas-a-service-of-reflection-for-the-longest-night.

Sunday worship for July 19, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See, on the portals he’s waiting and watching
Watching for you and for me.
(chorus) Come home,(come home) Come home
You who are weary, come home
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling
Calling “O Sinner, come home”.

Prayer of the Day:

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 tempest rages, I need not fear;
For you, the Rock of Ages are always near.
Close by your side abiding, I fear no foe,
For when your hand is guiding, in peace I go.
 
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. 
 
Word of God, come down on earth, living rain from heav’n descending
Touch our hearts and bring to birth faith and hope and love unending.
Word almighty we revere you;
Word made flesh, we long to hear you.
 
Word eternal, throned on high, Word that brought to life creation,
Word that come from heav’n to die, crucified for our salvation.
Saving word, the world restoring,
Speak to us, your love outpouring.
 
Word that speaks God’s tender love, one with God beyond all telling
Word that sends us from above God the Spirit, with us dwelling,
Word of truth, to all truth lead us
Word of life, with one bread feed us.
Spirit of God, Descend upon my heart
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, strength to me impart,
And make me love you as I ought to love
 
I ask no dream, No prophet ecstasies
No sudden rending of the veil of clay;
No angel visitant, no op’ning skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away
 
Have you not bid me love you, God and King;
All, all your own, soul, heart, and strength, and mind?
I see your cross; there teach my heart to cling,
Oh, let me seek you and oh let me find!
 
Teach me to love you as your angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame:
The baptism of the heav’n-descended dove
My heart an altar, and your love the flame.
 
A mighty fortress is our God,
A sword and shield victorious
He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod
And wins salvation glorious.
The old satanic foe has sworn to work us woe
With craft and dreadful might
He arms himself to fight.
On earth he has no equal.
 
No strength of ours can match his might!
We would be lost, rejected.
But now a champion comes to fight
Whom God himself elected.
You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is he!
Christ Jesus, mighty Lord,
God’s only Son adored.
He holds the field victorious.
 
Though hordes of devils fill the land
All threat’ning to devour us.
We tremble not, unmoved we stand;
They cannot over-pow’r us.
Let this world’s tyrant rage; In battle we’ll engage!
His might is doomed to fail;
God’s judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.
 
God’s word forever shall abide,
No thanks to foes, who fear it;
For God himself fights by our side
With weapons of the spirit.
Were they to take our house, Goods, honour, child, or spouse.
Though life be wrenched away,
They cannot win the day.
The kingdom’s our forever!
O Master let me walk with you, In lowly paths of service true; 
Tell me your secret; help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care. 

Help me the slow of heart to move by some clear winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay, and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me your patience; share with me a closer, dearer company.
In work that keeps faith sweet an strong, in trust that triumphs over wrong. 

In hope that sends a shining ray far down the future's broad'ning way,
In peace that only you can give; with you, O master, let me live. 
Let us pray for the church and God’s people in every land: (Pause)
Beautiful Saviour, King of creation,
Son of God, and Son of Man
Truly I’d love thee, truly I’d serve thee,
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.
 
Let us pray for creation, for restoration of our planet, and the sustainment of living creatures: (Pause)
Fair are the meadows,
Fair is the woodlands,
Robed in flow’rs of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
He makes our sorrowing spirits sing.
 
Let us pray for all in need of Your loving care:
(Pause)
Fair is the sunshine; Fair is the moonlight
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines fairer
Than all the angels in the sky.
 
Let us pray for God’s kingdom coming, and here on earth: (Pause)
 
Beautiful saviour, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honour, Praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be thine.
AMEN
 
Go my children with my blessing, never alone;
Waking sleeping, I am with you, you are my own.
In my love’s baptismal river I have made you mine forever
Go my children, with my blessing, you are my own.
 
Go my children, sins forgiven, at peace and pure.
Here you learned how much I love you, what I can cure.
Here you hear my dear Son’s story, here you touched him, saw his glory
Go, my children, sins forgiven, at peace and pure.
 
Go, my children, fed and nourished, closer to me.
Grow in love, and love by serving, Joyful and free.
Here my Spirit’s power filled you, here my tender comfort stilled you.
Go, my children, fed and nourished, joyful and free. 

Thank you to Laurie Zimmerman and her backup singing birds for the opening recording of Softly and Tenderly.

Thank you for continuing to support your church with your gifts and tithes.

Pastor Pam will be away on a vacation break until August 10. Contact Greg Dixon if you have emergency pastoral needs. (519.369.5364)

The summer sermon series prepared by Canadian Bishops and their assistants will be published each week during my vacation. There are some very interesting sermons scheduled that you will not want to miss.

Covid is not over – we have just been successful at not spreading it. Continue to keep safe over the summer – wear a mask, sanitize your hands, and do not stray far from your bubble group. Summer blessings to all.

Sunday Worship for the Sixth Sunday in Pentecost: July 12, 2020

All may say: We rejoice with you in the life of baptism. Together we will give thanks and praise to God and proclaim the good news to all the world.

Thank you for being part of worship this morning. May you be moved and blessed in this time together.

We respond to God’s love with our gifts and our tithes. Please remember that the bills are not on lockdown. Offering may be sent to: St Paul Lutheran Church Neustadt – 379 Adam St, Neustadt, N0G 2M0; St Paul’s Lutheran Church Normanby – PO Box 66, Neustadt N0G 2M0; St Matthew Lutheran Church – PO Box 218, Mildmay N0G 2J0.

Lector this morning was Jenn Tersteege. The communion liturgy has been inspired by Third Space worship community and Rev Anne Anderson. Thank you to Debbie Lou Ludolph of the Kanata Centre, Martin Luther University College, and Rev Ronnie Smith from Peace Lutheran Church, Pickering for organizing the virtual choir (formed to celebrate the 2020 graduates of MLUC)

Pastor Pam will be on vacation from July 19 – August 10. Emergency pastoral care can be arranged by contacting Greg Dixon (519.369.5364), chairperson of the parish working committee.

Sunday Worship for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost: July 5 (is it July already?) 2020

Come gracious Spirit, heavenly dove
With light and comfort from above
Come, be our guardian and our guide
O'er ev'ry thought and step preside

The light of truth to us display 
and make us know and choose your way;
Plant holy fear in ev'ry heart
that we from God may ne'er depart

Lead us to Christ, the living way, 
Nor let us know and choose your way;
Lead us to holiness, the road
that we must take to dwell with God

Lead us to heav'n, that we may share
Fullness of joy for ever there;
Lead us to our eternal rest
To be with God, forever blest.

Hymn 242

Let the whole creation cry
"Glory be to the Lord on high"
Heav'n and earth, awake and sing,
"Praise him, our almighty King!"
Praise him, angel hosts above
ever bright and fair in love;
Sun and moon, lift up your voice;
Night and stars in God rejoice

Warriors fighting for the Lord, 
Prophets burning with His word, 
Those to whom the arts belong
Add their voices to the song. 
Kings of knowledge and of low
the the glorious circle draw;
All who work and al who wait
sing "the Lord is good and great!"

Men and women, young and old,
Raise the anthem loud and bod
And et children's happy hearts
In this worship take heir parts;
From the north to southern pole
Let the mighty chorus roll;
"Holy, Holy, Holy One;
Glory be to God alone!"

Thank you for your presence in worship this morning. May your life be changed today in Christ.

Please continue to support this parish with your offering.
St Paul Lutheran Church Neustadt – 379 Adam St, Neustadt, N0G 2M0; 
St Paul’s Lutheran Church Normanby – PO Box 66, Neustadt N0G 2M0; 
St Matthew Lutheran Church – PO Box 218, Mildmay N0G 2J0.

Pastor Pam McNeil can be reached at 226-751-6398
Thank you to worship participants, Dave and Marlene Dietz.