March 27, 2006

Looking Ahead to April 2 -- 5th Sunday of Lent

The Scripture readings for this Sunday will be:

The hymns will be:

  • #603 In Loving Partnership We Come
  • Dare To Be (see insert)
  • #580 Faith of Our Fathers
  • #424 May the God of Hope Go with Us

The Sermon title is: Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything?

The sermon title is a two-edged question. On the one hand, United Church people have been accused of having no set beliefs. On the other, we are sometimes accused of being the church where anything is acceptable. And neither is true.

A story. I was working one of my first shifts at a new job. My relief comes in and learns that I am a candidate for ministry. "What church?" she asks. "United." "Oh, the social club."

"The Social Club". Not really a church, in her estimation. Certainly not a proper one anyway. My hunch, after working with her a while, is that we didn't believe the "right" things.

It is difficult to condense what the United Church believes. We are such a diverse group that there is almost always someone who will disagree. But we have a belief system. We have a way of expressing ourselves. For more on that take a look at the national website (see the link in the sidebar), particularly this section and this page.

This SUnday come and share as I, who was born and raised in this church, who learned what it means to be church in this denomination, try to explain what the United Church belief system is and a bit about how it developed/is always developing. And maybe, just maybe, we will then have an answer to the question Do you folks believe anything?


Board Meeting Highlights

We had a Board Meeting on March 26th. Here are some of the highlights:
  • We heard about the work of the Congregational Life Committee. Since starting they have sent out over 30 cards.
  • We discussed the possibility of having a Suggestion Box at the church. This will be done on a trial period.
  • We affirmed Gord's request for Study leave, vacation and Birth Time over the next few months.
  • We talked about setting up a list of volunteers to help keep the church (especially the washrooms) cleaned on a regular basis.
  • We re-affirmed that anyone wanting to borrow items from the church (tables, chairs, coffee pots etc) needs to clear this with the office beforehand.
  • The men of the congregation will be putting on a Mother's Day brunch on May 14.
  • The Pennies from Heaven monies from 2005 will be used to purchase colouring books for the Crisis Centre.
  • There will be plants which need a home available at the church. It is suggested that a small donation could be made to the church when taking plants.

Our next Board meeting will be April 23rd following the Sunday service. As always, members of the congregation are welcome to attend.

March 22, 2006

Dates to Note

  • March 31, 2006 -- Craft Night from 7-10 pm. Come and join in the group project or bring your own.
  • April 3, 2006 -- UCW meeting 7 pm in Boyle Lounge
  • April 8, 2006 -- Visioning Session in Fort Frances (details here)
  • April 9, 2006 -- Palm Sunday Celebration at 10:30 am. UCW Ham Supper at 5:30 pm.
  • April 14, 2006 -- Ecumenical Good Friday Walk starts at the Church of the Good Shepherd at 11 am, finishes at St. Patrick's. Good Friday Service at 7 pm.
  • April 16, 2006 -- Easter Celebration Service
  • April 27, 2006 -- Extended Care Worship at 10:45 am.

Also the Waters of Life Faith Study continues Thursday afternoons at 2 pm until April 6.

March 20, 2006


On Saturday April 8th between 9:30 and 2:30 representatives from all the United Churches in the Rainy River District will be gathering at Knox United Church in Fort Frances to discuss a vision for the United Church in this area. Topics will include what our strengths are, how we can work together and what resources we have to share.

If you are interested in attending please talk to Gord. We would like as many people as possible to attend this session. We will try to arrange car-pooling for the day.

Looking Ahead to March 26 -- 4th Sunday of Lent

The Scripture Readings for this week are:

The Hymns will be:
  • 822 All People Who on Earth Do Dwell
  • 245 Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet
  • 372 Though I may Speak
  • 820 Make a Joyful Noise

The Sermon Title is Worship, What is it Good for?

Why do we worship? What is the point? How should we worship? Why are the various parts of a worship service there? Questions like these are frequently asked in churches all over the place. And they are questions that have many different answers.
There is no way to fully explain why we worship the way we do in one sermon. But we will explore the questions above and maybe some others. In the exploration we may well find that the answer to one will shape the answer to another.
We worship for many different reasons. We come to worship looking for different things. And what we seek to find will shape what we think is the “right” way to worship. How we find we can best meet God will determine what we think is appropriate and what is inappropriate.
There is a term used in the church -- "worship wars”. This refers to the fact that differing expectations about worship content and style can often cause great conflict within a congregation. This conflict often comes out in discussions about music but it can also touch on prayers, how Scripture is presented, what a good sermon is, on any part of the service. The problem is that both sides in these conflicts think they are right and the other is wrong.
But of course they are both right. And neither is wrong. It all depends on our own needs and tastes. This Sunday we will look at some of what shapes our worship services. And to show some of the differences that are possible, our opening and closing hymns are both settings of Psalm 100. Same base text, but very different interpretations.
Come and join in our discussion about worship. Just be prepared, the congregation will be invited to take part in the sermon!


March 13, 2006

Looking Ahead to March 19 -- 3rd Sunday of Lent

Once again this Sunday we will celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism and welcome another of God's children into our family.

The Scripture Readings will be (read them here):
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Exodus 20:1-17
  • Responsive Reading: Psalm 19 (VU p.740)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
  • From the Gospel: John 2:13-22
The Hymns will be:
  • 399 God, Whose Love is Reigning o'er Us
  • 442 Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters
  • 646 We Are Marching (sung 3 times)
  • 605 Jesus Teacher Brave and Bold
The Sermon title is: Membership has its Privileges (and Responsibilities)
Membership, what is it? Why do it? What are its privileges and responsibilities?Every year at the Annual Meeting we make a motion that grants voting right to adherents. Why do we do that?
That motion is made each year because, by the by-laws of the United Church of Canada, only full members have the right to vote at congregational meetings. In fact, even that motion we make each year is limited to what the church calls temporal matters. Adherents can not vote on items of worship policy (same-gender mariage for example) or on issues around Pastoral Relations (calling a new minister) or on major property issues (a building campaign, selling a building, etc.). Thus one of the major privileges of membership in the United Church is the ability to have a say in what goes on. Membership also allows one to explore becoming a candidate for ministry,to be an Elder/Board member, to serve as a Presbytery Representative (or as a delegate to Conference, or as a General Council Commissioner). Membership has its privileges.
A Full Member of the church is a person who has either been baptized as an adult or has been baptized and confirmed. They may become a member of a different congregation or denomination by having their membership transferred (a certificate of transfer given by their previous congregation is needed for this). All the members of the church throughout its history are listed, in chronological order, on the Historic Roll. The date they became a member and how (profession of faith, transfer etc) as well as, when applicable, the date they ceased to be a member and how (death, transfer, action of the Board) are noted. These are the people who have the privileges of membership.
But of course membership has responsibilities as well--all privileges come with responsibilities. Members have the responsibility to support, in whatever way they can, the work of the church. They have a responsibility to maintain a connection to the church. They have a responsibility to live out their faith as best they can.
The irony in many United Churches is that adherents, those who are not full members, often outnumber the active members. Adherents are often major supporters of the church both financially and in gifts of time. As a church body we encourage adherents to explore making a profession of faith and becoming members. In the end the privileges of membership are not always what we call important about why we come to church. Anyone is welcome to partake of communion. Anyone is welcome to mark the death of a loved one in our walls. Anyone is welcome to join us for regular worship and fellowship. But membership is a way of making a statement about importance. It is a way to ensure you have a voice in the running of the church (although we always strive to listen to the voices of those who are there).

March 12, 2006


What should the United Church be doing in the Rainy River District?

Presbytery is working on a visioning process. The goal is to strengthen the United Church presence in our area. On Saturday April 8, representatives from all the United Churches in this District (Rainy River, Stratton, Emo, Devlin, Sioux Narrows, Nestor Falls, Fort Frances and Atikokan) will gather at Knox United in Fort Frances from 9:30-2:30 CDT to discuss the opportunities and challenges we all have. We want as many people as possible from each congregation to attend. Please talk to Gord for more information.

March 09, 2006

Upcoming Events

  • March 16, 10:45 -- Worship at the Extended Care Wing of the Hospital. All welcome to join in a time of visiting, singing and worship with the residents.
  • Thursday afternoons until April 6 at 2pm -- Water of Life study group meets in the Lounge
  • March 26 -- Board Meeting following Sunday worship
  • March 31, 7-10pm -- Craft Night sponsored by the Congregational Life Committee. All ages welcome!
  • April 9, 5:30 -- UCW Ham Supper. Tickets on sale now!

March 06, 2006

Bible Study

A Study group will be meeting on Thursdays at 2pm in Boyle Lounge (5 weeks starting March 9) to look at issues around Water. For more about this study look at this blog entry or this page on the United Church Website. All are welcome to come and join us.

Looking Ahead to March 12 -- 2nd Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we will celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism and welcome another of GOd's children into our family.

The Scripture Readings will be: The Hymns will be:
  • 410 This Day God Gives Me
  • 644 I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry
  • 443 God, We Pray at this Beginning
  • 420 Go to the World
The Sermon title is: That Baptism Thing
What does it mean to get baptised? For the Early Church this was a no-brainer. Baptism was the rite through which one entered the church. Prior to your baptism you studied what it meant to be a part of the faith and then on the day of baptism you made a confession of faith. And for Adult (or Believer's) Baptism that is still the case.
But what about those of us who baptise infants and small children? Many times we baptise people who are incapable of making a confession of faith. Instead their parents make the confession and promise to share their faith with their children as they grow. In return, the congregation pledges to be there for support and help in that task. Then, the theory is, when the children are old enough they will be" confirmed", they will study and then make a public confession of faith. What does baptism mean then?
There is no one right answer to that. Within the United Church there are a wide range of understandings of baptism. Part of its meaning lies in the naming and recognition that this is a beloved child of God. Part lies in the act of welcoming the child (and the parents) into the arms of the faith community. Part lies in the desire to name and recognize the fact that the miracle of birth reveals something to us about God.
But for me the most important part of the baptism service is the two promises. One is the promise by the parents to share the faith. The other is the promise by the congregation to be there to help/support/guide in that sharing of the faith. Many congregations I have been in are very quick to complain about parents failing to live up to their promise, to talk about how we see them at baptism but rarely (or never) again. But I have to ask, how good are our congregations at living up to their promise? Is it enough to say, "we are here" and "we have a SUnday School program"? SOme congregations name a sponsor to be there for the family, a contact point as it were. But does that make much difference? How do we all live out the promises we make at baptism to raise our children with a knowledge of God made known in Jesus of Nazareth? Could we find ways to do it better?
Baptism is a covenant. It is a covenant between the congregation, the baptised (or, in the case of infant baptism, the parents) and God. As with all covenants, we all have a part to play in ensuring that it is lived out. Let's all go forth and live out the promises we make this day.

March 01, 2006

Lent-Easter Worship

Here we are on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, that leads us to Easter Sunday. As mentioned earlier, we at Riverview are having a Sermon Series in Lent to look at the church. Here is the planned list of topics and other worship information for the season:
  • March 5, 1st Sunday of Lent -- Communion, how should it be served and why?
  • March 12, 2nd Sunday of Lent -- Baptism, what do we mean and why do we do it?
  • March 19, 3rd Sunday of Lent -- Membership Has it's Privileges (and Responsibilities)
  • March 26, 4th Sunday of Lent -- The Point of Weekly Worship
  • April 2, 5th Sunday of Lent -- Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything?
  • April 9, Palm Sunday -- Palm Parade as part of worship
  • April 14, Good Friday -- Ecumenical walk in the morning (to be confirmed), evening worship at Riverview at 7:00
  • April 16, Easter Sunday -- Resurrection Celebration at 10:30. Either Baptism or Communion will be celebrated.