Second Sunday of Creation Time: 2010

Second Sunday of Creation Time

Service of Worship for September 19, 2010

by Rev. Karen Boivin

Jeremiah 8:18—9:1

The prophet laments that time is running out.

Psalm 79:1–9, Voices United p. 793

People have damaged God’s temple.

1 Timothy 2:1–7

Pray for all in authority.

Luke 16:1–13

A steward uses his creativity for a better future.

Call to Worship (based on Jeremiah 8:18—9:1)

(Present the Jeremiah reading as the Call to Worship. A person dressed as Jeremiah can read his words, an unseen person can speak the words of God (v. 19c), and the congregation can respond as the Israelites (vv. 19b, 20). Being sensitive to children who may be present, you could choose images to project that illustrate the connection between this text and the current environmental crisis with its effects on our planet and God’s people.)

Opening Prayer

Through your mercy, generous God, you answered the cry of Jeremiah for his people.
They had become so lost that it was difficult to find their way back to you.
You dressed their wounds and helped restore their lands.
Through your grace, they had a future that allows us to be here today.

Now we ourselves turn back to you and cry out for your creation,
aware that the harm we have done to her will not easily be reversed.
Great Physician, show us how to soothe the earth’s scars and nurse her back to health.
Give us the strength to ensure that generations will enjoy her bounty. Amen.

Hymn of Praise

“There Is a Balm in Gilead” (Voices United 612)
“Called by Earth and Sky” (More Voices 135)

Children’s Moments

(Today’s gospel lesson encourages us to be creative when faced with a crisis. In our throwaway society, too many things are constructed not to be repairable, such as electronics. This leads to incredible amounts of waste that threaten our planet.

Ask the children what happens when they have a hole in their sock. Today most people throw the sock away. Darning socks is becoming a lost art. Throughout your conversation, either darn or have someone else darn a sock in front of the children. Share that Jesus encourages and helps us when faced with any problem, like too much garbage, to find creative solutions. Ask the children what else the sock could be used for if the hole in it was too big to be darned. If you have repurposed items on display, introduce them to the children with thanksgiving for the thought that went into them.

You could also share information about the federally funded Computers for Schools program, which refurbishes old computers for use in schools and other learning centres across Canada, www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cfs-ope.nsf/eng/home, or other repurposing or recycling programs in your area.)

Prayer of Confession

Your ways require time,
and we have none to spare.
Your solutions need effort,
but we’re often too tired to care.
You expect us to be generous,
yet we often feel shortchanged.
You call us to work together,
but from so many we are estranged.

For you, your earth, and all your children,
make us cherish time well spent.
For the future quickly approaching,
help us serve like the Son you sent.
For equal portions of your gifts,
may we embrace the ways of sharing
For the spreading of your love,
encourage us in the arts of caring. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Paul wrote to Timothy
that God desires everyone be saved,
and that it is in following Jesus
that the road to new life is paved.

Sermon Suggestions

From the perspective of the ecology of our planet, Psalm 79 is correct, we have entered God’s temple that is our earth and ruined it in many ways. In the face of that realization, like Jeremiah, many of us are heartsick and aware that time is running out to make amends. What can be done in the face of our uncertain future?

In the same way that humanity has misused the gifts of creation, the manager in our gospel parable squandered his master’s property. Having been caught, the manager faced unemployment and an uncertain future because he was unsuited to any other kind of work. He came up with the creative solution of reducing the debts owed to his master in order to win friends among the debtors, who would look after him and his family in the future. The nature of the amount discounted is not revealed, and his methods should most likely not be condoned in the business (capitalist) world. The focus in this reading can be placed instead on tying the innovation of the manager’s approach to the creativity that will be required to reinstate the health of our planet for the sake of future generations.

Humanity is called to serve God on earth. However, like the manager’s, our work here is in jeopardy because we have not served our Creator well. Not only have we squandered nature’s gifts, we have also been unfaithful with the less honourable things we have made from them. The time has come to find creative solutions for the environment that take the future seriously and promote living in harmony with nature and all people. These ideas will require that many of us, like the manager, take less and give more to others. We will need to better share with people in need and with the hurting natural world.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul reminds us that one of our most important sources of creative solutions is prayer. He assures us that God wishes for us to be saved. The Spirit will stimulate (and is already stimulating) our thinking and give (is already giving) us courage to carry out innovative new ideas to help the planet. Paul also reminds us of the importance of praying for our world leaders and those in authority. It is hoped that they will work together, as we do with our neighbours and colleagues, to find promising solutions and to use their power to promote sweeping changes for the good of our planet. These solutions will certainly require, as Paul suggests, that we lead a quieter and more dignified life, which will in turn also be a more peaceful and godly one.

Hymn of Faith

“Give Thanks, My Soul, for Harvest” (VU 522)
“We Cannot Own the Sunlit Sky” (MV 143)

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Supplication

In the beginning, Creator God,
you took building blocks of mud and water
and brought forth a myriad of life.
You blessed all your children
with a divine creative spark,
and they lit up the world with great achievements.
Using the bounty of your earth,
communities were built that sheltered and provided,
and humanity explored the intricacies of your world.

However, both our spark and nature were also misused
in the pursuit of wealth, success, and power,
and now the earth threatens
to return to mud and water.
We desperately need your Holy Spirit
to kindle a renewed fire within us
that burns with a passion
to clean your air, purify your waters,
and restore your land
so it is able to provide for all your creatures.

Through Christ Jesus, bring us together in this cause.
Keep our commitment strong and our focus on the future
so that our children’s children’s children
will share equally in the glories of your creation.
(Insert congregational intercessions here.)
Amen.

Hymn of Departure

“Touch the Earth Lightly” (VU 307)
“God Who Spread the Boundless Prairie” (MV 53)

Commissioning for Mission

One idea is interesting.
Two ideas can blossom.
Invite the Spirit into all our thoughts,
and it can be world-changing.
Let’s think, pray, and act together
for the sake of Mother Earth.

Benediction

May God, our Creator, who desires our salvation;
Christ, our Redeemer, who invites us into a new way of life;
and the Holy Spirit, who sustains us with a creative spark
be with us forever as we dwell on this beautiful earth
and then take our rest in God’s heavenly garden.

Visual Display

A month before the service, invite congregation members to use their creativity to repurpose items that would otherwise be disposed of. Display these items and, if possible, the original item that has been recycled.

The Rev. Karen Boivin serves Maxville-Moose Creek United Church in Maxville and Zion United Church in Apple Hill, Ontario. She enjoys attending conferences like Calvin Theological College’s Worship Symposium and the Festival of Homiletics in search of new ideas for worship and preaching.

 

 

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