PRELUDE:  Unconditional Love (from the cantata “Unconditional Love”) by Howard Goodall; Maria Schafer, soprano, and Covenant Quartet

A second Eden it was not, their chosen, salt-swept far-away, nor was it theirs, in fact, to seize that tribal homeland on the bay.  But persevere they did, with help, thanks to that first, crude crop of corn, a feat beyond their naïve reach, without the People of the Dawn.  Survival’s price was high and hard but they remembered what they’d fled:  rejection, prejudice, and scorn, wounds that would frame their path ahead.  Sustained by faith, undimmed by fear, their courage raised by pilgrim songs, full of such innocent ideals as sharing common wealth, or righting wrongs.  We who’ve been set less grandiose goals might hear their visionary plans and smile, yes, they were flawed, imperfect souls but none can fault their earnest intent.  It wasn’t always God’s command that drove so many to that coast, some sought release, some wealth, some fell for versions of a gold rush boast.  Four hundred thousand came in chains sailed west into the gates of hell, enslaved, reviled, some turned to Christ whose grief, whose scars, they knew full well.  Sustained by this redemptive thought:  that there was yet a further, kinder shore, a God who’d see and judge the crime a God who pledged to share the pain they bore.  We who’ve been dealt fortuitous hands do well to learn how tyranny thrives, and play our part when life demands our hearts, our unconditional love.  Frail, huddled masses followed on a gesture moving and humane, escaping famine, pogroms, hate their psalms of gratitude shared one refrain:  “We sing of hope’s first promise kept:  that our descendants would have better lives, all we endured, all led to this for love is love, that simple truth survives” sustained by love’s abiding power its many truths, transcending time and place, the proof of love’s fierce, healing balm shines bright in every reunited face.  We who’ve been blessed by comfort and care not had to beg a stranger’s aid, no matter what, we’ve this to spare:  our hearts, our unconditional love so honor love’s unflagging pledge to be our lantern, conscience, carer, friend.  In times of strife, or doubt, or joy love holds us close until our journey’s end.




HYMN:  My Song Forever Shall Record [Puer Nobis Nascitur]


SCRIPTURE LESSON: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

HYMN: A Sower Came from Ancient Hills [Seachrist]

SERMON: “Keep Sowing”

ANTHEM:  Great Our Joy as Now We Gather by Alex Fedak

Great our joy as now we gather where the Master makes us one:  where we worship God the Father through the Spirit of his Son, all who search for his Church find it where his will is done.  Precious is the tie that binds us to our God when faith grows cold; precious all that now reminds us He is still our safe stronghold.  Faithful love serves to prove here the shepherd has his fold.  May we learn from Christ’s example how to use this House of Prayer:  he who loved and cleansed his temple wants us all to worship there.  God the Son shuts out none: in his Kingdom all may share.  Lord, inspire us with your vision of a world which must be won!  Glorious is the Church’s mission, long endeavored, scarce begun!  ‘Faithful now’ – this is how God’s eternal will is done! [Fred Pratt Green]


HYMN: Fill My Cup [Fill My Cup]


BENEDICTION RESPONSE:  Father, Give Thy Benediction by Clayton Lloyd Moore

Father, give thy benediction, give thy peace before we part; still our minds with truth’s conviction, calm with trust each anxious heart.  Amen. [Samuel Longfellow]

POSTLUDE:  Tuba Tune by Paul Fey

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