Come, share the gifts of God with us,

and serve the world together,

at

OUR SAVIOUR'S LUTHERAN CHURCH,

10 Farrand Street (at River),

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO, CANADA

Our congregation is located on the traditional territory of the Ojibway of the Fort William First Nation, a signatory to the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850.

Welcome!

We invite you to be part of our community of grace and faith, active in Thunder Bay for the past 114 years. We seek to continue to be a place where people can grow in their understanding of God's forgiving love revealed through Jesus. Gathered in to worship, God's Spirit calls us out to share in word and action what it means to be people of God.

OUR VISION:

"Come share the gifts of God - serve the world"

Province 'Stay at home' lockdown

The present provincial 'stay at home' State of Emergency began on Thurs. Jan. 14 and continues through at least Thurs. Feb. 11 During this time the church building will remain closed.

Pastor Matthew remains working and is available for pastoral care, although not in-person. He only will be going to his church office as necessary -- to check the building, pick up mail and your offerings (thank you!), answer phone messages, use resources, and do other tasks that need to be done on-site. These times will not be 'office hours' - i.e. the building will remain closed.

In-person worship is now suspended at least through Sun. Feb. 14.


The good news is that the government is encouraging virtual services. The limits set on persons present will enable us to continue doing this.


Our next worship service video on our YouTube channel (Our Saviour's Lutheran Church of Thunder Bay) will be posted for Sunday, January 17 - the Second Sunday after Epiphany. Pastor Matthew will be preaching on 'Being Called'.


The Worship folder and sermon for the current Sunday continue to be available on this website (click on 'Worship Outline and Sermon' at top of page), and also by email (subscribe by sending a note to osimm@tbaytel.net ).


We will continue to have vitual Fellowship Hours: AT A NEW TIME, 11 a.m. - noon. The Sat. email will have the Zoom invitation, as well as the worship and sermon files.

Our council continues to monitor the situation,

Christ's peace, and hope, be with us during these times. God's compassion and presence be with all those suffering. The Spirit's gift of love be shared through us.

January 18-24

Monday

1:30 p.m. 'Lutheran Women' (Zoom)

Tuesday

3:30 p.m. Confirmation class (online)

5:00 p.m. Congregational Council (Conference call)

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday, January 24 - Time after Epiphany

In-person worship suspended

Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; I Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Sermon - Pastor Matthew

11:00 a.m. - Virtual Fellowship Hour

Newsletter:

To receive a copy of the monthly 'Ambassador' by email, please send a request to osimm@tbaytel.net.

The text version of our January Newsletter is on the page ' Our Newsletter'.

Deadline for February 'Ambassador' articles: Feb. 1

Virtual Fellowship Hours

Join us until we gather again for in-person worship, 11:00 a.m. - Noon, Jan. 17 - Feb. 14.

Zoom invitations are sent out each Saturday, or contact Pastor Matthew. Bring your lunch!

Recorded Services:

-Services are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Thunder Bay’, or as otherwise indicated:

New: Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 17:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3NcO_iwIJg

Baptism of our Lord, January 10:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Yj5_VoSfs

In-Person Worship

The service looks and sounds different than it did 8 months ago, but the goals are the same: to give God thanks, to be refreshed in faith, to build up community, and to be renewed in service and witness.

-Please enter at the wooden doors off Farrand Street, answer the screening questions asked by the Greeter, wear a mask, and follow the posted guidelines on social distancing and seating.

-There is a limit of 30% of capacity inside the sanctuary, 50 in attendance.

- The worship folders are found on the pews. Spoken responses are permitted, provided masks are being worn and social distancing protocols are being observed. There is no congregational singing, but you may hum along to the hymns, or sing softly, as you would do while sharing a lullaby with a child in your arms.

-There are containers for offerings at the entrance to the sanctuary.

- There is no Fellowship hour. On the way out, please maintain physical distancing, exiting by the doors to the parking lot.

Holy Communion

We remain in our places, as we share the bread only. You receive an individually wrapped wafer as you enter. Gluten free wafers are available on request. If you feel more comfortable, you can bring bread for yourself or your social bubble.

Children’s Ministry

Due to Health Unit guidelines for places of worship, for the time being there will be no in-person Sunday School classes. Handouts are available at worship – they can be emailed to you, or picked up at the Martin Luther statue in the front hall.

“Where we are headed is not to be back to where we were, but we give thanks that who we are as a church has not changed.”

Your Congregational Council and Pastor Matthew

Epiphany Sermon Series

ELCIC National and Synod Bishops have committed to preparing sermons for congregational use through the season of Epiphany for the Sundays from January 10 to February 14.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

John 1: 43-51

Second Sunday after Epiphany

Bishop Larry Kochendorfer Synod of Alberta and the Territories

Welcome to this sermon series that our Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is providing for congregations throughout the Sundays after Epiphany. I am Larry Kochendorfer and I serve as the Bishop of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories. It is great to be with you this Sunday.

Let us pray:

Come, Holy Spirit, that we may see and taste the grace of God afresh. Come, Holy Spirit, that we might share the grace of God with others. Come, Holy Spirit, that we might bear witness with our whole lives to the grace of God made manifest and available to us in Jesus. Amen.

It was a Thursday. It was a moment so alive that it was almost unbearable. It was so simple really. I had brought our niece, Amanda, who was fifteen at the time, and our youngest son, Jordan, who was then four, over to the church on a Thursday afternoon and while I was in my office returning a couple of telephone calls they were in the sanctuary.

With the phone calls completed I threw on my coat and walked into the sanctuary where I stopped in a moment of epiphany, a moment of revealing, a moment filled with the glory of God – God’s presence – wonderful and mysterious.

Amanda was sitting at the piano playing while Jordan was distributing communion to his invisible congregants who were kneeling at the altar rail.

After a moment he saw me standing at the door to the sanctuary and he yelled out to me, “We’re playing communion, Dad!”

And I looked at this four-year-old dressed in grey sweats, with a face still partially covered with lunch, and his face glowing with an utterly new discovery. He was sharing communion.

And I saw a glimpse of God’s presence, a revelation of God’s work – the father, the pastor in me saw, in a fleeting moment, the emerging worshipper, communion sharer, worship leader in our son – something so touching, so incandescent, so alive that it was almost beyond bearing – and I was changed – transformed.

Is it simply too ordinary? Too unsuspecting? Too unexpected? Or is it too wonderful, this moment of clarity, of unveiling, of revealing, of God’s presence?

We have entered the season of Epiphany. A season of revealing. Of appearance. Of manifestation. Epiphany: an immediate and meaningful understanding of something. Surprising. Sudden. Profound. Epiphany: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. A revelation.

What is revealed in this season is what it means that God became human. That God entered our world, no longer satisfied just to be with us but now is one of us. When that happens, when the incarnation happens, we change too. Our humanity changes. Suddenly, who we see ourselves to be can no longer remain the same because we have seen God in who we are.

We tend to expect that Epiphany is only about the revelation of Jesus. About seeing Jesus, of witnessing Jesus in various revealing moments. It is not supposed to be about being found ourselves.

But John’s Gospel invites us to imagine that these can be one and the same. That is, seeing Jesus in those revelatory moments, those unexpected moments is also when you find yourself — who you are, who you are called to be. In those moments of seeing Jesus you realize your identity as a follower, a disciple; and you see a glimpse, perhaps a new glimpse of something you have not seen before when it comes to your own faith story, your own understanding of what it means to be a disciple, your answering of your baptismal call: “follow me.”

Maybe this epiphany season might take on a mirror effect. That is, when you hear these texts, when you look for Jesus, when you experience these revelatory moments of Jesus, you simultaneously see something about yourself, and ask what does this mean?

John’s Gospel is full of these moments of epiphany, and of what following Jesus will look like.

For this Gospel writer it will mean taking John 3:16 seriously. It will mean taking the witness of the woman at the well seriously. It will mean finding those who have been cast out of communities for their courage to confess their faith in Jesus…like the man born blind (John 9:34). It will mean believing that the Spirit is indeed your very breath as Jesus sends you out into the world (John 20:21-22). It will mean being thrown out yourself (16:2), rejected for insisting that God’s love for the world and everyone in it

– everyone – is actually true.

The incarnation of Jesus changes everything. The revealing of Jesus changes us. These epiphanies transform people.

Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr., who we will remember tomorrow, and his description of an epiphany and his response in his book, Stride Toward Freedom:

I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud.

The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. “I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”

At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.” Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.

(Martin Luther King Jr, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1st edition [©1958 Harper & Brothers], 124–125.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was transformed by this epiphany often referred to as his “vision in the kitchen.”

Nathaniel’s epiphany, in which he saw who Jesus was, changed Nathaniel, who, then, proclaimed Jesus as: Rabbi, Son of God, King of Israel.

It was a Thursday – it was a moment so alive that it was almost unbearable….“We’re playing communion Dad!”

I suspect that most of us glimpse these moments of epiphany, of aliveness, of revelation, of unveiling – of God’s presence – the Spirit’s work – in the regular, ordinary patterns of life: in a blinding moment of conversion; in a moment of deepened awareness of the presence of God; in a moment of realizing the truth and call of Christ; in the play ritual of a child; through parents, ever so lovingly, showing a child how to swing a bat; through our children singing “You Are Holy, You are Whole,” “Beautiful Savior,” “O Come All Ye Faithful”; in the hike up a mountain to pray; in a word of absolution; in an act of justice and peace; in a moment of sacramental meeting – when we hear the drops of water drowning and bringing with the Word new life – when the bread in our hands and the wine on our lips suddenly acquires a flavor and a vintage which takes us out of time and out of our human limitations and intoxicates us with God.

As we glimpse God at work, this unveiling, this revelation, this epiphany – we hold it in our heart and we return to life, different, transformed ourselves because for one shining, mysterious moment we have seen.

These glimpses do not evaporate our doubts or tell us what to do next, nothing will be visibly different but beloved people of God, siblings in Christ – it does make a difference to have seen, even for a moment, a taste, a glimpse, something so alive that it is almost beyond bearing, for we return to daily life, back to work, back to ministry, to family, to this time of COVID pandemic. Different, changed, transformed, back to where mission and ministry is engaged, where the love of God is shared, and where grace is gifted.

Where we are invited to live out our baptismal calling, to follow Jesus, in the midst of our daily lives:

to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,

to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,

to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,

and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

(Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Affirmation of Baptism. ©2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Augsburg Fortress, p. 236.)

Epiphany is a short season. Expect to discover many things about Jesus. And in the process, anticipate learning something about yourself. Sometimes the change is monumental. Sometimes incremental. Either way, something will happen. Something epiphanous!

Let us pray:

Into your hands, almighty God, we place ourselves: our minds to know you, our hearts to love you, our wills to serve you, for we are yours.

Into your hands, incarnate Savior, we place ourselves: receive us and draw us after you, that we may follow your steps; abide in us and enliven us by the power of your indwelling.

Into your hands, O hovering Spirit, we place ourselves: take us and fashion us after your image; let your comfort strengthen, your grace renew, and your fire cleanse us, soul and body, in life and in death, in this world of shadows and in your changeless world of light eternal, now and forever. Amen.

(Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Additional Prayers – Commitment. ©2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Augsburg Fortress, p. 86.)

Resources in the shaping of today’s sermon:

“An Epiphany Way of Life.” January 7, 2018 Karoline Lewis

https://paul17.luthersem.edu/craft.aspx?post=5040

“Come and See.” January 12, 2015 David Lose

https://www.davidlose.net/2015/01/epiphany-2-b/

Commentary on John 1:43-51. January 14, 2018 Jan Schnell Rippentrop

https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/second-sunday-after-epiphany-2/commentary-on-john-143-51-4

“Epiphany Expectations.” January 11, 2015 Karoline Lewis

https://www.workingpreacher.org/dear-working-preacher/epiphany-expectations

Evangelical Lutheran Worship. ©2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Augsburg Fortress.

Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B, Volume 1 Advent through Transfiguration. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors. ©2008 Westminster John Knox Press.

John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries. Karoline Lewis ©2014 Fortress Press.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. Martin Luther King Jr.

1st edition ©1958 Harper & Brothers.

LWF General Secretary sends New Year message to member churches

(LWI) - In a New Year greeting to all The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches, General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge looks ahead at the challenges that individuals and communities will face because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He urges church leaders to “be merciful” in ministering to their congregations, just as they have received “God’s abundant mercy.”

In his message to the church leaders, Junge draws inspiration from Jesus’ words in Luke 6:36: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ He notes the timely nature of these words in light of the suffering and loss of life that the pandemic has caused. Though scientists and researchers have developed vaccines to contain the spread of the virus, he adds that the consequences of the pandemic will continue to pose great challenges throughout the coming year.

Referring in particular to the suffering, stress and anxiety caused by the disease and the associated “spiritual, psychological and mental challenges [that] are on the rise,” Junge adds that many have described the impact as a “third wave” of the pandemic. He also speaks of the “significant economic and social challenges that individuals and communities are facing,” as well as the increase in sexual and gender-based violence that has been reported during lockdowns in different parts of the globe.

Call to compassion and service

Jesus’ words, the LWF leader continues, are a helpful reminder of “the pastoral task entrusted to churches ministering to congregations and communities.” Churches are invited “to hold fast to a vision of life in fullness of Christ,” Junge says, “resisting apathy or accepting the pain of communities as a ‘new normal’.” Instead, he adds, they are called to “be compassionate as they speak to their people, walk with them and serve them.”

Indeed the Bible verse, Junge notes, does not come simply with a call for “action from our side.” It also comes with “a powerful reminder about the deep source of mercy and compassion.” It serves as a foundation and a reminder that our call to witness is nurtured by word and sacrament, “rooted in prayer and embraced by a community of believers that goes beyond time,” he says.

‘Mercy’ shall be our watchword as we continue announcing God’s liberating grace in this new year that has just begun.

LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge

The General Secretary assures the church leaders that “as always, we will do this together as a global communion of churches: praying for each other, supporting and encouraging each other, learning together and serving together.” Mercy shall be our watchword, he concludes, “as we continue announcing God’s liberating grace in this new year that has just begun.”

World Council of Churches Prayer Cycle:

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

17 - 23 January 2021

We are thankful for:

  • the ancient cultures and religions that have been sustained in this area for millennia

  • those who continue to pursue peace in the midst of ethnic strife and terrorism

  • the faithfulness of Muslims in expressing their faith and working with others

  • Christians who practice their faith even when they are a small, often discriminated minority.

We pray for:

  • women and others in these countries who are deprived of basic freedoms and human dignity

  • those who misuse or exploit religious identity for extremist political ends

  • the wise use of the benefits of oil and other natural resources for the sake of all

  • the emergence of stable democratic societies based on the rule of law, social justice, and respect for religious and other freedoms.

Prayers

Prayers before scripture reading

Make us wise in your law and enlighten our thoughts with your knowledge. Sanctify our souls with your truth, and grant us to be obedient to your words so we fulfil your commandments at every hour, O Lord of all, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever.

O you, who enlighten the rational with the knowledge of your greatness, enlighten, O my Lord, my thoughts that I may meditate upon your holy and divine Scriptures at every hour, O Lord of all, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever.

(From “Prayers of The Hallowing of Addai and Mari Disciplers of the East,” English translation M. J. Birni, http://www.nestorian.org/nestorian_liturgy.html)

Bring us out of darkness into light

O my God,

bring us out of darkness into light.

Illumine our hearts with your wisdom.

Give us light to guide us to you.

O my God,

shine light into our hearts…

light into our ears,

light into our eyes,

light on our tongues,

light at our right hand,

light at our left hand,

light above us,

light beneath us,

light before us,

light behind us.

Shine light into our souls.

Flood us with light.

Lord, expand our hearts,

and prosper our work.

(A Prayer during the Mecca pilgrimage. In: Noticias del Arca, summer 2005)

Sufi Prayer for Peace

Send your peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,

that our souls may radiate peace.

Send your peace, O Lord,

that we may think, act, and speak harmoniously.

Send your peace, O Lord,

that we may be contented and thankful for your bountiful gifts.

Send your peace, O Lord,

that amidst our worldly strife we may enjoy your bliss.

Send your peace, O Lord,

that we may endure all, tolerate all in the thought of your grace and mercy.

Send your peace, O Lord,

that our lives may become a divine vision,

and in your light all darkness may vanish.

Send your peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother,

that we your children on earth may all unite in one family.

(from http://www.worldhealingprayers.com/6.html)


Mandatory Use of Mask or Face Covering within Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Under instructions issued by the Medical Officer of Health, all businesses and organizations, including places of worship, in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit area must adopt a policy that requires all members of the public and employees who enter or remain in an enclosed public space to wear a mask or face covering.:

1. Beginning 12:01 a.m., July 24, 2020, all members of the public, employees, and others who enter or remain in enclosed public areas of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Thunder Bay, Inc. are required to wear a mask or face covering. The mask or face covering must cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping.

a. The following persons are exempted from the requirement to wear a mask or face covering and will not be required to provide proof of such exemption:

i. Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who are unable or refuse to wear a mask or face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;

ii. Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask or face covering, including breathing difficulties, cognitive difficulties, hearing or communication difficulties;

iii. Individuals who cannot wear or are unable to apply/remove a mask or face covering without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H. 19 as amended;

iv. Employees who are within or behind a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglas).

b. Temporary removal of the mask or face covering is permitted where necessary when:

i. actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity, including water-based activities;

ii. consuming food or drink;

iii. receiving services in a personal service setting on an area of the face that would otherwise be covered by a mask or face covering; and

iv. for any emergency or medical purpose.

2. This policy will be implemented and enforced in “good faith” to primarily educate people on wearing masks or face coverings and promote their use in enclosed public spaces. Persons listed under 1a) are not required to show proof of exemption.

3. Signs about the requirement to wear masks or face coverings will be posted prominently at all public entrances. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also be made available at all entrances and exits for persons entering or exiting Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Thunder Bay, Inc.

4. Employees/staff will be trained on the policy, including:

a. How and when to provide verbal reminders of the policy’s masking requirement to persons entering or remaining without a mask or face covering, and those who remove their mask or face covering for an extended period of time.

b. where and how to properly wear a mask or face covering;

c. how to respond to customers who do not have a mask or face covering;

d. where people can get more information about the policy; and

e. how to handle a customer who becomes aggressive about the new requirement.

5. A copy of this policy will be made available on request to a public health inspector or other person authorized to enforce the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Dr. Janet DeMille, the MOH has included these words in her directive:

Emerging evidence supports that wearing a mask or face covering when in enclosed spaces is an important measure in reducing community transmission of COVID-19. Increasingly, recommendations and expectations around masking in enclosed spaces are being strengthened to reflect this...

Implementation of the policy should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask or face covering use in public spaces."