Sunday Morning We invite you to join us for any of the following worship services:

10:30 a.m. (September through June)
10:00 a.m. (July and August)
Please see Calendar for communion Sundays.

All attendees at our worship services must be fully vaccinated.

Face masks are required. We will have some congregational singing in the service, with our masks on. We are not yet ready to have our coffee and fellowship time in Luther Hall after the service as we used to do in the days before COVID.

Registration It is helpful (though not essential) : It is nice to know how many are coming and who is coming. This will help us with setting up for Communion and it is also important for contact tracing if that should ever become necessary. If you would like to come to the service on a Sunday,
please let us know by email during the previous week, and not later than Friday morning. The address is and we will send you a reply to confirm your reservation.

Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and other locations in the church for
your use.

Washrooms will be available for use, but there may be only one person, or members of only one family, in a washroom at any given time.

In the service: The service will be shown on the screen and we will sing some of the hymns. The offering will not be gathered and presented, but there will be an offering plate at the back of the sanctuary where you can put your offering as you enter or leave. We are now using continuous communion in the sanctuary, with careful attention to hand sanitizing. Pastor David distributes the communion wafers and an Assisting Minister distributes wine or grape juice in individual glasses. As worshippers come
forward to receive the elements, we try to maintain physical distancing and to manage the traffic patterns to minimize interactions among people.

We have coffee and fellowship time available again in Luther Hall after
the service, with suitable COVID precautions in place.

We will continue to evaluate our worship service procedures on a monthly basis and we will make other adjustments when local COVID data and advice from the Health Unit indicate it is safer to do so.


St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, Outline for Worship (with Sermon)
Sunday, February 5, 2023 – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
ELW Holy Communion Setting 4


P: Blessed be the holy Trinity, + one God,
who makes all things new, whose mercy endures forever.
C: Amen.
P: Trusting in God's mercy, let us confess our sin.
P: Holy One, source of our renewal,
C: we confess that we are wrapped up in sin, and cannot free ourselves.
We have not practiced your righteousness.
Our hearts have turned away from you.
For the sake of the world you so love, forgive us,
that we may be reconciled to one another for the glory of your holy name.
P: Thus says our God: "The former things have come to pass and new things
I now declare." God's mercy makes us new. We are forgiven in the name of
+Christ our Saviour.
C: Amen.

ENTRANCE HYMN – God, Whose Almighty Word (ELW #673)

P: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you

A: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God,
and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise,
let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord.
C: Amen.

P: Let us pray.
P: Lord God, with endless mercy you receive the prayers of all who call upon
you. By your Spirit show us the things we ought to do, and give us the grace
and power to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.
C: Amen.


FIRST READING: Isaiah 58:1-12
1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my
people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet day after day they
seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced
righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me
righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. 3 "Why do we fast, but
you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you
serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. 4 Look, you
fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you
do today will not make your voice heard on high. 5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in
sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the
thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into
your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself
from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your
healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of
the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will
answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the
yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you
offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your
light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11 The LORD
will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make
your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail. 12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up
the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the
breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
A: The word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

PSALM 112: 1-10
1 Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord
and have great delight in God’s commandments!
2 Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches will be in their house,
and their righteousness will last forever.
4 Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.
5 It is good for them to be generous in lending
and to manage their affairs with justice.
6 For they will never be shaken;
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
7 They will not be afraid of any evil rumours;
their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their heart is established and will not shrink,
until they see their desire upon their enemies.
9 They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast forever;
they will hold up their head with honour.
10 The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away;
the desires of the wicked will perish.

SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the
mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing
among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in
weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation
were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit
and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the
power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not
a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish.
7 But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before
the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if
they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what
God has prepared for those who love him" 10 these things God has revealed
to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of
God. 11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human
spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except
the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the
Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by
God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom
but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.
14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are
foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are
spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are
themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. 16 "For who has known the mind
of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
A: The word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

C: Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.

P: The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 5:13-20
C: Glory to you, O Lord.
13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its
saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and
trampled under foot. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill
cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way,
let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and
give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish
the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell
you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter,
will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks
one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same,
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and
teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you,
unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will
never enter the kingdom of heaven."
P: The Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise to you, O Christ.

Matthew 5:13-20
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth, and the prayers of our hearts,
always be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Strength, and our Redeemer.
I once saw a sign that asked the question, “How much can I sin and still go to
heaven?” This question seems amusing until we stop and think about it. This
question contains the bold confession that there is no interest at all in pursuing
a life shaped entirely by the spirit of God, but at the same time we do not want
to be so recklessly sinful that we forfeit completely the rewards of eternal life.
The late humourist Lewis Grizzard said he once received a questionnaire
in the mail entitled Heaven: Are You Eligible? He said he took the test and
scored “too close to call.” “How much can I sin and still go to heaven?” If we fail
to recognize the question in that form, perhaps these questions will sound more
familiar. “How often can I miss Sunday worship and still remain in God’s
favour?” “How much prayer time can I abandon and still count on God to hear
my prayers when they are most urgent?” “Am I taking advantage of God’s love?”
We try to walk a tightrope between doing a lot of things that we want for
ourselves, but we are careful not to get so carried away that we fail to attend to
the things of God. It is a balancing act we also attempt in other areas of our lives.
Shortly after people learn to drive, they discover an interesting twist to the law,
and I speak from experience. While studying for the written part of the test
required for a driver’s license, we find that the rule book makes it clear that the
speed limit is precisely set. For example, on the 402 it is posted 110 kilometers
per hour once you are outside of Sarnia. Yet, we soon learn that the OPP allow
drivers five to ten kilometers over the posted speed limit. Of course, there are
exceptions in certain areas that require following the posted speed limit, and we
quickly learn where those are. While I am sure none of us would participate in
such cunning calculations while driving, there are others who do. The question
becomes, “How much can I get away with and not have to pay any
consequences or lose any privileges?”
We should not speed. It is dangerous in most cases to speed. Speeding may even
cost us some serious money in fines, but fudging on the speed limit will not lock us
out of God’s heavenly kingdom. However, this attitude which puts our speedometers
over the legal limits of what is safe and acceptable, but less than what will get us
ticketed, has a way of finding its way into a lot of our thinking. It has the ring of our
original question: “How much can I sin and still go to heaven?”
This question is an attempt to justify sin in our lives instead of trying to eliminate it.
This is an effort to bargain with God, to renegotiate terms. Jesus said, “You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” We are simply asking that
the requirements be softened a bit. Is it not enough that we make as much room
for God in our hearts as we do for the other things we love in our lives?
Is it not enough that we pray occasionally, or must we love God with the kind
of depth that would require our whole souls? Is it not enough that we know
a few favourite verses of scripture, or must we continue to open our minds
to the things we either have not heard or are not interested in hearing?
The temptation is to call sin something else, to rationalize that whatever we
did or said did not hurt anyone. Maybe it didn’t hurt anyone else, but it hurt us.
Our actions construct a barrier between God and us, regardless if anyone else
is affected by them. As for the temptation to call sin anything else, it is a way
to make sin sound okay.
The same inclination to call speeding legal, is the same temptation to make
some sin acceptable. This is nothing new. When Joseph’s brothers expressed
their dislike for their younger brother, the temptation was to kill him. They even
planned to do so, but then they realized it would not profit them. Instead, they
sold Joseph into slavery. The older brothers did not want to kill Joseph, but they
wanted him out of their lives. It would have been a sin to kill Joseph, but it was
also a sin to treat Joseph the way they did when they sold him into slavery.
However, they could live with the lesser sin. The question remains. “How much
can I sin and still go to heaven?”
This is not a situation confined to scripture. We ask ourselves similar questions.
“How much can I talk about somebody before it is gossip?” “How much time
can I spend away from church and still feel connected to the church’s life,
to worship, to service?” “How long can I treat my body this way and still expect
a long, healthy life?”
Some people ask, “How many of the Ten Commandments can I break and still
be okay?” Jesus said, “Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments,
and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus includes the lesser commandments as well. When we ask Jesus,
“How much is too much?” Jesus’ answer is always, “Any sin is too much.” Not
only that, but from Jesus’ other teachings we get the impression that we are
asking the wrong question.
“How much sin is too much?” Any sin is too much, especially sin that is
calculated and intentional. Sin weighs us down. Sin restricts our freedom.
Sin creates problems in our lives. Sin makes us live in fear and causes us to
worry about things that are beyond our control. Any sin is too much, and yet
we all make and commit errors and engage in sinful thoughts and deeds.
We are never going to live perfect lives. We are never going to be free from sin,
but to ask, “How much is too much?” is to straddle the fence. Even asking the
question indicates we are interested in the rewards of following Jesus but are
equally interested in the lifestyle of the secular world without Jesus’ teachings.
Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he was taken to the Auschwitz concentration
camp. He asked one man why he prayed, and the man replied, “I pray to the
God within me that I will be given strength to ask God the right questions.”
God gives us the strength and courage to ask the right questions. No more are
we asking questions which serve to delay whole-hearted commitment. Now, led
in every movement by the spirit of God, we ask different questions. Instead of
questions that look for a way out, we ask questions which grow out of loving
God with all our hearts, souls, and minds.
As God’s spirit shapes our lives, from each thought to each action, questions
like, “How much can I sin and still go to heaven?” vanish. We are no longer
interested in seeing how much we can get away with. Instead, we have a
faithfulness that explores how we can live each day more fully aware of God’s
guiding presence. We learn to ask new questions such as: “How can I make
choices for God in my workplace?” “How can my personal habits better reflect
a sense of God’s presence in my life?” “How can I treat my neighbours in such
a way that they feel the love of God through me?” “How can I free my life of
trappings and clutter in order to live more focused on the ways of God?”
“What new things, O God, are you calling me to learn and do?”
Thomas Merton recognized that sometimes we are called not to receive the
right answers, but to live the right questions. He wrote in Thoughts of Solitude,
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going... the fact that I think I am
following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that
the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire
in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.”
What questions are you asking?

HYMN OF THE DAY – Gather Us In (ELW #532)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

A: Called together to follow Jesus, we pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
A: God of our church, send forth your Spirit as we pray for our Bishops Susan
and Michael. Empower them with your wisdom to lead the church. We also pray
for our neighbours in the Anglican Church of Canada, The Rev. Canon Kevin
George and the people of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church, London, and Bishop of
Huron, Todd Townshend. Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Call your people to seek your wisdom in difficult conversations and action.
Give the church everywhere courage to repent for the ways we have tolerated
and practiced injustice. Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Inspire our wonder at creation, from the light of dawn to the beauty of the
dark night. Sustain all creation, from the unseen depths of the ocean to the
plants and animals we know well. Bring healing to lands and communities
experiencing natural disasters. Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Instruct the powerful in your ways. Provide upright leadership in business and
industry, that workers are not oppressed. Throughout the world, inspire voters
and raise up politicians to heed your call for nations to practice righteousness.
Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Loosen the bonds of injustice in our midst. Grant peace to endless quarrels,
put an end to hunger, and break every yoke of oppression. Shelter all who flee
abuse in their homes or violence in their communities. Satisfy those afflicted in
any way. Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Shape our congregation to be salt for the earth. Give us delight in your
commandments, that we are generous with those in need. Make us steadfast in
our trust in you, ready with tangible mercy and compassion for our neighbours.
Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: Merciful God, we pray for peace as war continues to rage in Ukraine.
Shelter all living in fear; protect those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries;
sustain families separated by the horrors of war; tend to those who are injured;
comfort all who mourn their dead. Direct your people into the way of peace.
Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: The cross and resurrection bring redemption from sin and death. We praise
you for all whose unshaken faith in Christ shines forth in their witness. Keep
them in our remembrance and bring us with them into the kingdom of heaven.
Merciful God,
C: receive our prayer.
A: We bring to you our needs and hopes, O God, trusting your wisdom and
power revealed in Christ crucified.
C: Amen.

P: The peace of Christ be with you always.
C: And also with you.

A: Let us pray.
A: Liberating God, you break the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go
free. Receive these offerings in thanksgiving for all your works of merciful
power, and shape us as people of your justice and freedom.
You we magnify and adore, through Jesus our Saviour,
C: Amen.

P: Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.

P: The God who faithfully brings forth justice and breaks the oppressor's rod
+bless, strengthen, and uphold you, today and always.
C: Amen.

SENDING HYMN - Let Justice Flow like Streams (ELW #717)

A: Go in peace. Follow the way of Jesus.
C: Thanks be to God.

DISMISSAL HYMN – Go Now in Peace
Go now in peace, never be afraid.
God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.
Know He will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love, and show you believe.
Reach out to others, so all the world can see.
God will be there, watching from above.
Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

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