Here is a video of “Half and Hour of Hymns” from Sunday, July 5, 2020. We are singing songs about following and learning from Jesus – Discipleship songs.
On Sunday, July 5, 2020, First Presbyterian Church is joining with Presbyterians across the Synod of Saskatchewan for a livestreamed worship service at 11:00 am with the leadership of our Synod Summer Ministry Students, Samuel Andri and Jacqueline Cleland. Watch here, or go to the Synod of Saskatchewan – Summer Ministry Facebook Page to join in the community by greeting one another in the comment section:
Here is the video of “Half an Hour of Hymns” from June 28, 2020. We are singing hymns of faith and trust.
Genesis 22:1-14 Matthew 10:40-42 “Wavering Faith” In the email I sent out to the congregation in preparation for this Sunday, I noted that I would be attempting to preach on Genesis 22 this morning, the story sometimes called “The Binding of Isaac” or “The Command to Sacrifice Isaac.” I mentioned that one commentary describes the passage as “one of the most famous, infamous, vexing, compelling, repugnant, fascinating, horrifying, suspenseful stories in the Bible.” The same author suggests that “It’s a dangerous story, so we have to tread carefully. And it’s a story full of treasure, which is why it’s been prized in both Jewish and Christian traditions for thousands of years.” This familiar passage comes up in the lectionary once every three years, and many Christians hear it every year at Easter, as it’s one of the key texts in the Easter Vigil liturgy. And yet, it has engendered heated debate over the centuries. Is it a story of an abusive God, a misguided Abraham, religious violence at its worst? Or is it a story of faith and obedience? I remember one summer when it came up in the readings, another preacher was filling in for me while I was away on holidays. She preached a non-traditional interpretation of the story, and people were still talking about it three weeks later when I returned! There is a Yiddish folk tale that goes something like this: Why did God not send an angel to tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Because God … Read more »
This is the video from our “Singing for Justice” hymn sing on Sunday June 21st as we marked National Indigenous Peoples Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Regina.
The following video is the worship service at First Presbyterian Church in Regina for National Indigenous Peoples Sunday on Sunday, June 21, 2020. We were honoured to welcome the Rev. Mary Fontaine, founding Director of Hummingbird Ministries in BC as our guest preacher. Read Mary’s biography here on the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s webpage.
Genesis 18:1-5; 21:1-7 “The Gift of Laughter” A humorous comment from George Burns: “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” This week’s story from Genesis is a turning point in the story of Abraham and Sarah. God has promised to make them ancestors “of a multitude of nations,” even though Sarah is childless and ninety years old. Abraham initially finds this unimaginable, even laughable – and in this week’s story, so does Sarah. The couple show hospitality to three strangers who stop by. The strangers are either angels with an important message for them, or perhaps even God in disguise, and Abraham seems to recognize this right away, and receives them warmly and takes very good care of them. After showing the strangers some extravagant hospitality, Abraham and Sarah stand by – and from inside the tent, Sarah overhears the visitors tell Abraham that she “shall have a son.” Sarah laughs to herself in disbelief – she’s ninety, after all! But not only does she eventually have a son, (she calls him, “Isaac” which actually means “laughter”) and she declares, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” The SALT Lectionary Commentary expresses what has happened here nicely: “By God’s graceful, astonishing gift, Sarah’s private laughter of disbelief is transformed into shared laughter of astonishment, joy, and delight.” Did you notice that there were two different … Read more »
We had some Wifi issues during the recording of worship on Sunday, June 7th. The audio of the sermon is perfect, however the video of the whole service has some skips, unfortunately. We have now figured out what went wrong, so we can make a better recording next Sunday!!! Genesis 1:1-2:4a Psalm 8 Matthew 28:16-20 “Entrusted to Us” A few years ago, I was back in school working on another degree in ministry. I’ve put that work on hold for the moment, given some other things going on in my life that needed to take priority. But the courses I took, and the reading and theological reflection they involved were very helpful, even if I never actually complete the degree. For example, I remember taking a course called, “Theology of Ministry.” Its overall purpose was to assist each of us as students to develop our own theology of ministry as we understand it in our particular contexts and roles within the church. I titled my major paper for the course, “Partners in the Ministry of Christ: A Presbyterian and Ecumenical Theology of Ministry.” You see, I was discovering that my theology of ministry is rooted in a conviction that all Christian ministry is the ministry of Christ. The members of the church – the Body of Christ – all receive different gifts from the Holy Spirit, and are called and equipped to serve God in a variety of ways. Some are called to the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, to … Read more »
Acts 2:1-21 John 7:37-39 “Channels of Living Water” On Thursday evenings when First Church folk gather on Zoom for “Tea and a Chat,” I usually offer some kind of brief devotional or reflection, along with a question for discussion. This week, I highlighted the story of that first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and noted the way that God surprised the first Apostles with the powerful experience of God’s presence in wind and fire, and the challenging mission of proclaiming God’s deeds of power to the world. It’s not unusual for God to show up in people’s lives with an element of surprise. It happened many times throughout the stories of Scripture, and our little group on Zoom shared stories of our own experiences of being surprised by God, often in a positive way. I could have honestly said that I was surprised to be moving to Regina three years ago, and that I was surprised to be saying “yes” to a nomination to be Moderator of our church. But looking back, many of those surprises came with both challenges and also blessings. Another topic of conversation in our First Church fellowship gatherings online this week has been “the wind.” On Tuesday evening, our theological discussion during “Did you ever wonder?” was interspersed with comparing notes about the wind, and rain, and lightning of the storm going on outside. And many other conversations have included discussion of the weather, the sunshine, and the strength of the wind experienced by … Read more »
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 John 17:1-11 “Holy God, Protect Them” “Holy God, protect them.” That was part of the prayer that Jesus prayed in the days leading up to his death and resurrection. It was part of the prayer that he prayed for his disciples and for those who would come after them. The fact that Jesus prayed for us so intently in those days, rather than simply praying for himself and his own needs, and the idea that Jesus continues to pray for us even now have often been an encouragement to Christians. When we’re feeling worried or afraid, when we’re tempted to give up or give in, when we are doubting God’s presence or love, or suffering from various trials, we are reminded that Jesus prays for us. The prayer assures us that we belong to Jesus as his followers, and therefore we also belong to God and are under God’s care. Jesus acknowledges that he will no longer be in the world (at least in a physical sense) but that we will be here and we will need God’s protection. Jesus talks about giving us the gift of eternal life. But as I suggested a couple of weeks ago, that doesn’t just mean a promise of life after death. It’s a promise of life that begins now and never ends. Jesus defines it, saying: “And this is eternal life, that they may know [God], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [God] has sent.” Jesus’ prayer … Read more »
Acts 17:22-31; John 14:15-21 “The Best is Yet to Come!” When the Apostle Paul addressed the people of first century Athens, he commented that he had noticed an altar in their city with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ I suppose he must have found it sad that these people were searching for God, and seeking to worship God, and maybe even wanting to offer their lives in service to God, but God remained a mystery to them. But Paul came with good news for the Athenians, the same good news that has given our lives meaning, purpose, and hope as well. He said: “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things… In him we live and move and have our being… We are his offspring.” How did Paul know this? And how could he proclaim with such confidence that the God of all Creation was present and active and giving life and breath to all people as God’s beloved children? Because God had revealed God-self to us in Jesus Christ. “Living Faith,” a statement of Christian belief of our Presbyterian Church in Canada makes a similar declaration in these words: There is one true God whom to know is life eternal, whom to serve … Read more »
1 Peter 2:2-10 Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 John 14:1-14 “Domestic Church” You may know the Second Sunday in May as “Mothers’ Day” and you may be doing something special for your mother if she is near, reaching out to her by phone or video call if she is far away, or remembering her with thanksgiving if she has died. Usually at First Church, we share carnations with all the women on Mothers’ Day. Along with the various things I emailed out to everyone on Friday, there was a carnation colouring sheet. You might consider colouring that flower and sharing it along with a note of thanks and encouragement for someone in your life who nurtures and cares for you with a mother’s love. But in the church, this Sunday is called “Christian Family Sunday” or I like the title “Festival of the Christian Home” because it sounds like a wonderful celebration of families, relationships, and the households to which we belong. During the pandemic, we don’t get to see our church family in person, but we are spending a lot more time with our nuclear families within our homes. Thinking about this reality reminded me of the concept of “domestic churches” that I came across when I was studying theologies of marriage in connection with my doctoral work on interchurch families. Also sometimes called the “church of the home,” the idea will be most familiar in contemporary Roman Catholic circles because of its recovery by the Second Vatican Council. However, it … Read more »
Psalm 23 John 10:1-10 “Abundant Life” I’m sure you’ve already noticed that this morning’s worship is all about sheep and shepherds. When we were planning ahead for the music for this service several weeks ago, I pointed out that the lectionary was giving us Psalm 23 again. It came up just about a month ago during the Season of Lent, and we’re getting it again on this Fourth Sunday in the Season of Easter. As I noted the sheep theme, someone started to sing that wonderful chorus from Handel’s Messiah about the sheep: All we like sheep… have gone astray, have gone astray, have gone astray…. I said, “Yes, that’s an excellent song about sheep. But not for this week.” You see, the readings on this Easter Season Sunday are less about the sheep going astray, getting lost, or messing up. And they’re more about what the shepherds are up to. Today is all about the shepherds, actually. And in particular, the idea that Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who cares for us (the sheep) and leads us to abundant life. Many early followers of Jesus would have been familiar with describing the promised Messiah as a caring a skillful “shepherd”: The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel each use such language. And likewise, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah contrast the good shepherd with “worthless shepherds” who neglect, exploit, and scatter the flock. The prophets used the familiar concept of a shepherd caring for the sheep to describe what they were … Read more »
Psalm 116 Luke 24:13-35 “In the Breaking” I continue to be amazed, day-by-day and week-by-week, as we continue through this strange and difficult time of a world-wide pandemic, that Jesus keeps showing up beside us on our journey. I can personally say that each and every week of this lockdown, I have received the lectionary readings as a gift that have helped me through and given me encouragement and strength to keep going. I have not found it a struggle to preach during this time, because every week we have been blessed with another word of love, compassion, and hope for the future. And this week was no exception. The story of the two disciples walking sadly away from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus, is a favourite for many Christians. In the midst of our own grief, loss, and confusion, we are reminded that Jesus comes to us, and walks with us, and reveals himself to us in love. Although one of the disciples is named Cleopas, we don’t know the name of the other. And so we may imagine ourselves in his place, walking with Jesus, learning from him, beginning to recognize his presence, and being sent to share the good news with others. Their situation was not unlike ours in Canada this week. They had just been through the most traumatic weekend of their lives. The leader of their movement and their good friend, Jesus, had been unjustly arrested, unfairly tried, sentenced to death, cruelly tortured, … Read more »
In September of 2019, the Rev. Amanda Currie travelled to Hungary and Romania to visit the Reformed Churches as part of her role as Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, she shared pictures and stories about the trip with the Freedom 55ers group of First Presbyterian Church in Regina. You’re welcome to watch the video of that presentation.
1 Peter 1:3-9 John 20:19-31 “Left Out, Longing Thomas” This is the Second Sunday of the Season of Easter. If you feel like you didn’t have a chance to fully celebrate Easter last weekend, given that we are in a pandemic lockdown, and gatherings for worship and extended-family meals are not allowed, don’t worry. Easter is not a single day or a weekend, but it is a whole season! There are seven weeks of Eastertide. Poetically, that’s one more week than the six weeks of Lent. So life, and joy, and celebration win! And even if we’re still living with staying home and physically distancing through this whole season, we will still have plenty of time to celebrate the resurrection creatively and fully during Eastertide as we watch new life bursting forth in this season of Spring. I love the way that the author of 1st Peter encourages the churches to whom he is writing to celebrate the grace and goodness of God, even in the midst of their struggles. He invites them to rejoice because God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has not swept away all our troubles, making our lives perfect and easy, but God has given us hope so that we can endure. 1st Peter says that “Even if now for a little while [we] have had to suffer various trials…” our faith, that is being tested, will result in praise and glory and honour … Read more »
Matthew 28:1-10 “To See the Tomb” I made a special point of sending a thank you note to Marianne Woods after we finished the Good Friday online worship service a couple of days ago. We had a bunch of people involved in leading the service from their own homes through a Zoom video conference that was live streamed on Facebook. But I especially wanted to thank Marianne for singing “He never said a mumblin’ word,” and leading us all in singing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord” as well as all the sung refrains between the stories of suffering and struggle. I was the one who wrote the stories of the many different people who are being especially impacted by this COVID-19 pandemic. They were based on the lives of real people that we’ve all been hearing about in these days, and I wanted to invite us to remember them and pray for them as we all continue through this strange and challenging time. I didn’t realize until I started to hear the stories read by our church members how emotional I would feel. I mean, I should have known, because it’s not unusual for me to get emotional! But as I listened and prayed, I felt my own heart breaking with their sorrow and grief, anxiety and fear. I was so grateful that Marianne was leading the singing, as I knew that I could not have managed it without my voice shaking with emotion. As difficult … Read more »
John 19:1-6; Luke 23:32-47 “Crucified with Christ” The following is not a sermon, but a series of stories and prayers. Read through them slowly as you remember and pray for those who are crucified in our world today. Introduction Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) Today, on Good Friday, we follow Jesus on the road to crucifixion. We accompany him to a hill called “Golgotha,” which means the “place of the skull.” It is there, on that hillside, that Jesus is raised up on the cross and left to die. On our journey, we discover that Jesus is not alone. Two criminals are being crucified on either side of him, but they aren’t the only ones. There are many people in our world who face crosses of suffering and pain. These are people, like Jesus, who are forced to endure torment and anguish. They, too, are being crucified. As we travel with Jesus, we call to mind some of those who are experiencing particular suffering during this COVID-19 pandemic. We will pray and remember those who must daily carry a cross. We will affirm that they are not alone in their struggle. The church is present with them through our caring, through our prayer, and through the practical help we are able to provide. And most importantly, God is with them. I have invited a variety of people to share brief statements from the perspective of people who are being crucified with Christ. Following each … Read more »
Exodus 12:1-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 “Plagues, Family Meals, & Remembering” I was out last Saturday, dropping off some faith formation resources and girl guide cookies at the homes of our church families with children. And while I was doing it, I enjoyed a few nice chats with some of the parents and kids from a safe physical distance, usually at the bottom of the front steps. But I’ll remember the greeting I received from one of the teenagers when she looked out the front door and saw me standing there: “I haven’t seen you since before the plague!” That’s quite the dramatic way of putting what’s going on with this viral pandemic, but I guess it’s not too far off. Now, I’ve been leading worship services on Maundy Thursday every year since I was ordained. But I realized as I began to prepare this year that although the services have varied a great deal in their format and liturgies, they have always included a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and they have almost always included a foot washing or a hand washing piece – either with a few people having their feet washed in a symbolic or dramatic presentation, or with everyone invited to participate in washing and being washed. With all that’s been going on over the last month, we’re all hand washing experts by now! Plus, our hands are already dry and cracked enough that adding liturgical hand washing just seems like something we don’t need to do. … Read more »
Isaiah 50:4-9a Philippians 2:5-11 “Choosing Servanthood” Today is the Sunday with two names. It is Palm Sunday, as we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. And it is Passion Sunday, as we anticipate what will happen to Jesus when he arrives in Jerusalem – his final meal with his disciples, his agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal and arrest, his trial and torture, and his terrible execution on a Roman cross. The lectionary provides us with two sets of scripture readings for today, inviting the preacher to choose how to focus the service, and I have chosen the Gospel reading from the liturgy of the Palms, and the other readings from the liturgy of the Passion. The Gospel reading that I’m skipping today is the long account of what happens to Jesus in Jerusalem. We’ll come back to that part of Jesus’ story, of course, as we continue our Holy Week worship on Maundy Thursday evening and Good Friday morning. But today, instead of simply recounting the story of Jesus’ passion, a story that most of us know quite well, I’d like to focus on the other readings that are set for Passion Sunday, and spend some time thinking theologically about Jesus’ suffering and death. From the first reading from 2nd Isaiah, the prophet tells us about his identity as a Suffering Servant. In these few short verses, Isaiah talks about the challenging vocation that he is called to. He says that … Read more »