South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge

South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge...We Are Linked In LOVE!!

Whether you attend the Courtland United Church or Cultus United Church, you will be met with warmth and sincerity. We are a 2 point charge known as the South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge. We welcome ALL to join us on Sunday mornings, or anytime...for worship and friendship! Under the loving and brilliant guidance of our Minister  Ted Smith, you will be enlightened and moved.

CULTUS UNITED CHURCH: Located at  748-6th Concession Road ENR, Cultus, Ontario          WORSHIPS on Sundays at  9:00am  

COURTLAND UNITED CHURCH: Located at 133 Talbot Street, Courtland, Ontario                   WORSHIPS on Sundays at 10:30am        

Our Mission Statement:   The South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge is called to be a Christian community empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

CONTACT US:   EMAIL: swnpc@yahoo.ca                  Office Phone: 519-688-4050

OUR MAILING ADDRESS: South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge, P.O.Box 129, 119 Talbot Road, Courtland, On., N0J1E0

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CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-West-Norfolk-Pastoral-Charge/1607350796216192?sk=timeline

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                CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER:    https://twitter.com/SWNPC _________________________________________________________________

        OUR LENTEN JOURNEY

     Lent is the time in which Christians prepare for the great celebration of Easter. The season of Lent consists of the forty days (and six Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday. During Lent, Christians focus on renewing our faith and commitment to Jesus the Christ so that, when we come to the great day of Easter, we do so with renewed joy. For early Christians, the celebration of the resurrection was the central focus of their community life. It was the first celebration Christians kept. To do so, they moved their day of worship from Saturday Sabbath, the last day of the week, to the first day, the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Similarly, Easter was the first festival to emerge as a season of the Christian year. For at least the first two centuries, the focus remained on Easter. Christians met for worship on Saturday at 6 p.m. and continued in prayer and meditation until about 3 a.m. on Easter Sunday, when they celebrated Communion. They prepared for this event by fasting on Saturday. Later the fasting was extended to include Friday, a period of 40 hours, to commemorate the time Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. Later still, the period of fasting was extended to include Monday to Saturday or “Holy Week” as we know it. By the year 600 CE the period had extended to 40 days prior to Easter (not including Sundays) as a time of final preparation for catechumens, those seeking membership in the church by profession of faith. The season we now call Lent developed from this time of preparing. Although this 40 day period of preparation was originally intended for catechumens, in time many church members voluntarily undertook, for their own self-discipline, this 40 day period of penitence and fasting and reflecting on their baptismal vows. Then, at Easter, they would join with the catechumens in renewing their baptismal promises. Today, Lent offers us the same opportunity for reflection and renewal. The colour used during Lent and Holy Week is purple, indicating a penitential period. Some churches use a deep red on Passion/Palm Sunday and throughout Holy Week. The cross may be veiled in black on Good Friday. “Alleluias” are traditionally omitted from songs and prayers during Lent in order to make the joyful alleluias of Easter more meaningful. Lent is also a time to change the mood of the sanctuary through its decorations. Flowers are generally not used. Candlesticks and crosses may be made of simple wood rather than gold or brass, and banners and vestments are simple in design and material. Of all the seasons of the church year, Lent has probably been the most abused. It has sometimes been a period of excessive introspection, empty abstinence from tidbits of affluence, and the enjoyment of the gloom of self-denial. Correction does not lie in the non-observance of Lent, but rather in the recovery of its rich tradition. The richness of Lent lies in its simplicity. In our over-consuming, driven society, we need a time to pull back and take stock of our lives. Lent is at its best when it encourages us to do so, and provides us with the images, the silence, and the simplicity that move us to new depths.

So let us go down this Lenten road together….

Long before any signs of spring can be seen, long before the harvest can be gathered, the earth prepares itself for growth. The water of melting snow or rain breaks up the clumps of earth. The seeds blown about the previous season soak in the moisture needed to germinate. Growth begins before we can see it. This week’s Lenten readings offer us ways to prepare to grow.

The harvest ritual is used at the end of the growing season and it offers God the “first fruits” of the harvest. The book of Deuteronomy, written several hundred years after entering the Promised Land, reflects what the Israelite people had learned about living in a new environment and remaining faithful to God. One of the ways they did that was by reminding themselves of their salvation history. In the harvest ritual, the one making the offering recites the history of God’s people as personal history – “My ancestor was a wandering Aramean who took his family to Egypt to live” (vs. 5). By remembering the time of oppression in Egypt and God’s deliverance, the worshiper gives thanks, not just for the harvest, but for the experience of living freely. That experience of God’s saving action is then extended to others. The bounty of the land is shared with the “alien” and “sojourner.” The harvest is a sign of all that God has done and it prepares the people to live with one another as God intends.

And further, the words “My ancestor was a wandering Aramean” are central to the Passover Haggadah and, when recited, immediately involve the speaker in the unfolding narrative. In Hebrew, the word for wandering implies more than a nomadic movement; it carries the sense of being lost or about to perish.

Jesus enters into humanity’s narrative of being in the wilderness and enduring temptation. When we are in the midst of spiritual crises, Christ (in myriad forms) is there with us

Each year the Lection offers the story of Jesus’ 40 day wilderness journey and the temptation experienced there to “kick off” Lent This year we explore through Luke’s Gospel.

This story reveals Jesus and his deep and abiding faith at the very beginning of his ministry. It becomes a human story when we consider our struggles and challenges with faith, and that Jesus himself was challenged with the implications of his own faith commitment in this reading.

It is “the Spirit,” which Jesus had just experienced so vividly in his baptism, that leads him out into the wilderness. Luke shows Jesus experiencing the testings that Israel had experienced with God in their 40 years in the wilderness. In the journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites often failed to remain faithful to God when confronted with hunger, the gods of other nations, or risky situations. In the 40 days that Jesus fasts, he is preparing to live his mission with faithfulness and integrity. It is because he is “full of the Holy Spirit” (vs. 1) and committed to leading others to God’s reign that he is met by the devil. The word “Devil” or “Satan” means God’s “adversary” – one who seeks to destroy the relationship between God and humankind, who seeks to thwart God’s plan. “Tempter” is another translation. The Satan tempts Jesus with what is good – to be fed when hungry, to have authority to bring about the changes he wanted, to be protected from danger. The subtlety of these temptations is that they built on what Jesus knew about God and the ministry he was about to undertake. The Tempter wanted him to distort the good he knew and the good he was about to do. Jesus is able to meet his Adversary from his deep grounding in the Hebrew faith and scriptures.

Luke shows Jesus as the One faithful in the wilderness trial in a way his ancestors were not. He is now prepared to live out God’s Reign in his life. Yet the passage ends with a hint of things to come. Evil is not yet defeated but waits for another time of trial. The time of preparation in the wilderness points to the cross. There Christ’s faithfulness will ultimately defeat the power of sin and death. The seed of this time in the wilderness will be seen in the harvest of the resurrection

All too often when we look at the wilderness we see the testing and not the faith. We, too, are tempted, tempted to see the testing in our lives as a sign of abandonment or failing. Testing can be a positive sign that God’s Spirit enables us to meet the power of evil when it wears away at the soul of our community and the world. When we prepare for new growth in our lives, as we traditionally do in Lent, we commit ourselves to face all that distorts the good in ourselves and the world. Facing the Tempter is possible because we do not do it alone. The Spirit of God within the community of Jesus’ followers helps us to move ahead in faith. The ground may seem hard but already it is alive with the stirrings of new growth.

May you be blessed again through your Lenten Journey as it unfolds. 

PT. 

South West Norfolk Pastoral Charge of The United Church of Canada
CULTUS  / COURTLAND UNITED CHURCHES

MINISTER: PASTOR TED (P.T.) SMITH

Music Leaders: Judy Dekorte /  Lynn Jennings 

Office Administrator: Leslie Pettinger        Office Phone: 519-688-4050            Email: swnpc@yahoo.ca 

  

Sunday March 17, 2019        Tending a Garden

       WE GATHER AS GOD’S BELOVED

 

GREETINGS AND WELCOME

CENTERING MOMENT AND COLLECT

                                

INTROIT: Through-out these Lenten days and nights we turn to walk the inward way, where, meeting Christ, our guide and light, we live in hope till Easter Day” (VU# 108 vs 1 used with permission)

 

CALL TO WORSHIP: (Responsive)

Let us worship God.

We worship God in this place and in all our living.

Be strong and let your hearts take courage.

We trust God in this place and in all our living.

God will shelter you in times of trouble.

We thank God in this place and in all our living.

Here you shall see the goodness of God.

We praise God in this place and in all our living.

 

HYMN: “O Holy Spirit, Root of Life”                             VU# 379*

 

PRAYER OF RENEWAL: (Unison) Generous God, we do not always act in ways that show how we are connected to all of creation. We do not always act as though we need each other. We do not always act as though we need you. We do not always share the love that we receive from you. Grant us the strength we need to live as a just and compassionate community.(Time of Contemplative Silence) 

WORDS OF ASSURANCE

We are loved. We are forgiven. God’s life-giving Word continually helps us to find new possibilities for the choices we make as we live in the world

Thanks be to God for this amazing gift!

 

MINUTE FOR MISSION

MISSION HYMN: “In the Bulb There Is a Flower     VU# 703

 

WE LISTEN

1st Testament Reading:     Genesis 15: 1 - 18        

Ministry of Music                                                                         

Gospel Reading:                  Luke 13: 31 - 35

 

HYMN: “To Abraham and Sarah”                              VU# 634*

                                                                         (Melody VU# 120)

MESSAGE: “Rooted in God’s Love”

 

WE RESPOND

PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION

THE LORD’S PRAYER                                 

 

PRESENTATION OF OUR GIFTS

OFFERTORY: “Grant Us God the Grace of Giving”    VU# 540*

 

HYMN: “Abide With Me”                                               VU# 436*

 

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION *

CHORAL CLOSING: “Let love from day to day be yardstick, rule, and norm, and let our lives portray your word in human form. Now come with us that we may have your wits about us where we live.   (VU# 427 vs. 3, used with permission)