Trinity United Church
January 16, 2022
Second After Epiphany
“Connection not Perfection”
May the peace of Christ be with you.
Welcome to Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam, BC.
We are so grateful that you have chosen to spend some time with us, we are glad you are here.
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Acknowledgement of Territory
For tens of thousands of years, the lands on which we live, work and worship, have been occupied by indigenous peoples.
Much of what we know as the Northwest Coast of North America was occupied by the Coast Salish Peoples. The territory where Trinity United Church of Port Coquitlam resides is the unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nations.
Our acknowledgement of unceded traditional territory is a first step in reconciliation between settler cultures and indigenous peoples and the decolonization of western systems that continue to oppress and exploit indigenous peoples and land. The work of reconciliation is daunting. The work of reconciliation will not be ours to complete, but neither is it ours to abandon.
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.
Prelude/ Lighting of the Christ Candle
Call to Worship
We come seeking the Spirit that makes us One.
Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me!
We come feeling like we can become more.
Spirit of the Living God, Melt Me!
We come listening for your words of truth.
Spirit of the Living God, Mold Me!
We come hungering for a spirit filled life.
Spirit of the Living God, Fill Me!
We come knowing we have more to give.
Spirit of the Living God, Use Me!
Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me!
Prayer of Approach
God, we come into your Holy presence once again.
We seek your Spirit that lives within us.
Remind us of the many gifts we have been given.
These gifts are not our own but belong to the Spirit
From whom they have been given.
Holy Spirit of love, guide this your community of faith in worship.
Let our praise be worthy of your great name.
Let us sing to you, as our friend and mother,
As the comforter promised by Jesus who has come
To enable us to love God, to love others and to serve all.
In the name of She who give us life and love, Amen.
Hymn: "Spirit Open My Heart" MV 79 CLICK HERE
WE HEAR THE WORD
Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11
Hymn: "We Have This Ministry" VU 510 CLICK HERE
Message: Craig Perry
Today’s sermon focuses on the question “Are we Charismatic?”
This might seem a strange question to ask. Contemporary English’s definition of charismatic has ended up far from its original Greek origins in the New Testament. Some may have assumed that the term Charismatic when referring to Christianity refers to the exuberant worship style of many church congregations that identify as charismatic.
Charismatic worship often includes dancing, waving of banners and raising of hands during upbeat contemporary worship music. However the word charismatic derives from Paul in the New Testament and the root charism means gift, more particularly a spiritual gift.
Charismatic Christianity is actually defined by the belief that the spiritual gifts listed by Paul in his letters are real and available to all believers in the church today.
This contrasts to the belief of cessasionalism that was once the prevalent point of view in Protestantism that believes that the supernatural gifts of Paul were intended for the early church only and then the practice of these gifts stopped at the establishment of Christendom.
Charismatic Christianity has its roots in the 19th century but a defining moment happened at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1904 which was the beginning of the modern Pentecostal church. Believers participated in an ecstatic spiritual prayer form that many believed was the same speaking in other tongues that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians.
Since Azusa Street the Pentecostal/Charismatic branch of Christianity has become one of the largest and fastest growing branches of Christianity worldwide birthing new denominations as well as Charismatic movements within existing denominations including even the Roman Catholic Church. Some estimate that there may be up to 500 million Charismatic Christian believers in the world today.
The United Church of Canada does not usually identify as a Charismatic Church. However, I feel that United Church people can learn some valuable insights from understanding more about Paul’s spiritual gifts and how to live out Paul’s vision of one body with many parts.
I feel that now in the midst of a pandemic which often separates people in communities of faith that a deeper understanding of how separate members can be united in one body is especially relevant.
One approach I have witnessed in the United Church is a spiritual gifts inventory. It is a questionnaire that congregation members fill out to discover how their interests and skills line up to the biblical spiritual gifts.
This approach can help members discover how they can join existing ministries based around where their past experience would allow them to be most effective. However, for me personally, this application of the biblical spiritual gifts too much focuses on the individual and not enough on how the members of the body function together.
I believe Paul’s use of the term charism to describe a spiritual gift indicates that he had something specific in mind and wasn’t intending to discus all of an individuals natural God given talents and abilities. I have seen the negative consequences of an individualistic approach to spiritual gifts in other churches in the past.
This can happen when one pastor or church leader decides they have a special gift of prophecy or healing and set themselves up as a prophet over the church with little to no oversight. A leader like this almost always ends up creating a problematic situation where they have recruited large numbers of devoted followers who believe in them and then realize they are not able to deliver on the promises they convince others to believe in.
For me, the key to understanding spiritual gifts is the context of community.
I believe that the spiritual gifts do not only represent individual abilities but that spiritual gifts are intended to form complementary roles in a community of faith. Paul’s analogy of the one body with many members is key to understanding Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts or charisms are given to the one body, the community of faith, and are distributed to the members of the one body to be used to benefit the entire body.
One gift alone outside of the context of the community is no longer a spiritual gift but can still function as an individuals God given talents and abilities. In the context of the one leader using their gift to claim authority over the rest of the community we can see how Paul would not have supported this interpretation. Each gift in a community of faith, while not always the same, is equally significant and each is intended to function along side the others. One gift given to one member is never meant to be used to claim authority over other members of the body.
Each member of the body has a gift and each is intended to contribute to the community in their own way.
If we are to continue with this definition of spiritual gifts then in a technical sense the United Church is a charismatic church in that we believe that each member is given significant gifts by God for ministry in the context of communities of faith. Given this, is there anything that we can learn from other church’s that define themselves as charismatic? Certainly we share a common belief in the centrality of worship in the life of the community of faith.
Worship styles are diverse across the many congregations of the United Church in Canada but every congregation I have encountered greatly values corporate worship. In addition to this, a majority of members also practice a wide variety of spiritual practices alongside Sunday worship.
I have noticed a deep hunger amongst many United Church folks for a deeper more experiential form of worship and I feel that we have the potential to grow in this area together.
Today, as we live out our faith in the midst of this pandemic, we are often struggling because the usual modes of corporate worship are being denied to us. We are no longer able to gather together to sing and experience God’s presence together as a community. I feel that even though we are worshipping apart physically that we have an opportunity to focus even more on our spiritual gifts as they have the potential to deepen our worship and our ministry while we remain physically separated.
The spiritual gifts that God gives to our communities of faith often do not need physical presence to manifest themselves to the community. Gifts like teaching, healing and apostleship (being sent out) are all possible without being together in person. Paul himself was often distant from those whom he considered part of his faith family and he was able to offer them his gifts of being an apostle and teacher through his many letters.
The spiritual gifts that are given to our communities of faith are a precious God given resource for congregations to live this faith together in community. They are not meant to divert attention to one individual or one gift over others but are meant to be used complementary with each other to build up the body of Christ.
One body with many members, all different but all equal and all significant to God’s call to live out the Gospel.
Thanks be to God, Amen.
Special Music: David Rogers
Your offering: your financial gifts, your gifts of time and skill are what make our ministry possible. If you are not already on Pre-Authorized Remittance, we invite you to participate in our ministry by making a financial gift, either by sending a cheque to the church office, or by going to our website and clicking on the donate now button.
We have been blessed, not only by the generosity of our membership and adherents, but also by the courage of our leadership to learn and navigate in a very different world than the one we knew a year ago. Let us give thanks.
We dedicate these offerings to your work O Holy Spirit.
Transform these gifts, the fruit of our labour
into spiritual gifts that show love and create justice
in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
We begin yet another calendar year in the life of this congregation of Trinity United Church. We confess that we still have a lot of fears and uncertainties about the future. We are still wondering if this pandemic will ever end and what our lives are to mean in the “new normal” that is to come?
We pray for all those who are sick right now and needing healing. We know that you are a God who heals, and we pray for healing for all in physical, emotional and spiritual struggles. We pray that all who are sick will know your healing and peace.
We recognize that there is much injustice and pain in our world and that we have a call to respond to those in need. As we begin a new year, please God show us those in this community that need the help that this congregation can provide. Show us ways to create justice in this community of Port Coquitlam and beyond and help us to live the call of the gospel in our lives.
We pray for all those among us who are looking for a deeper understanding of faith at this time we are worshipping apart from each other physically. We seek an understanding of all of the spiritual gifts you give to your church and we desire to use our gifts to build up this faith community and to reach out to others.
We know that you already know the many concerns and burdens in our hearts and we surrender all that we carry with us into this worship service to your love and grace. We know that you will hold all our thoughts and prayers in your loving embrace today and forever, in Jesus name, Amen.
The Disciples’ Prayer “Our Father” VU 960 CLICK HERE
WE GO FORTH
Hymn: "In Loving Partnership We Come" VU 603 CLICK HERE
Commissioning and Benediction
Trinty United Church, as a community of faith filled with the Spirit,
Go from this gathering seeking spiritual gifts, so that we
May become good stewards of the Spirit of the Living God
Who lives in us and who is giving good gifts to those who love Her name, Amen.