May 13, 2007

Acts 16:9-15 Psalm 67 Revelation 21:10, 22 — 22:5 John 5:1-9 As we move through the season of Easter and towards Pentecost, the readings continue to prepare us to function as community without the physical leadership of Jesus. We are invited to participate in our own salvation and to continue to struggle towards a more just and faithful expression of community in Christ. In the Book of Acts, Luke writes about the progress of the early Christian church, and in today’s story he describes the conversion of Lydia, a “faithful woman.” It is the second reading in Acts that features and names a woman. Two weeks ago, we heard about Dorcas, a beloved follower of Jesus who provided clothing for the widows in her community. Luke is noted for his inclusion of women in his writings, and here he portrays Lydia with remarkable agency as she chooses to convert and then actively supports the fledgling Christian community. Agency is a lesson that John reaffirms in his portrayal of a man who is cured on the Sabbath. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be well?” The man accepts Jesus’ invitation and immediately is freed from physical and spiritual paralysis. Finally, John’s vision in Revelation of a new heaven is one that is without a temple — without any religious structure or institution, for “its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” His vision cautions us that our churches never become ends in themselves — that we never get … Read more »

May 12, 2013

Acts 16:9-34 John 17:20-26 “Jesus is Praying for Us” There’s a continuing theme that begins in the Gospels, continues and grows through the Acts of the Apostles, and is picked up again and again in the letters of Paul and others in the time of the earliest Churches. It’s the idea that the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ is for all the people of the world. Jesus was born to a Jewish family and lived as a faithful Jew. His ministry began among the Jews and for the Jews, and then it began to spread. Jesus went beyond the boundaries of religion, race, gender, and social standing… engaging in conversation with those beyond his immediate community, reaching out in love to those on the margins of society, and by the end of the Gospels, encouraging his disciples to go and preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to all the people of the world. This morning I decided to include two readings from the Book of Acts. The first one about Paul and his friends going to Macedonia, meeting Lydia, and Lydia and her household being baptized, was the reading assigned for last Sunday. We did Camp Sunday instead, so we didn’t get to hear it last week. The second one Dorothy read for us this morning about Paul and Silas exorcising an evil spirit from a slave-girl, and then getting flogged and thrown in jail. While in jail, they keep their spirits … Read more »

May 1, 2016

Acts 16:9-15 Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5 “Making Plans” This is the time of year at St. Andrew’s when we are busy making plans. It may not seem that obvious just from attending worship here on Sundays, but behind the scenes, in the committees and groups, and among the staff of the church, plans are being hatched. As many of you likely know, our congregation makes plans on a yearly basis. The committees of Session (like Worship, Christian Education, and Outreach), set goals in the Spring, and bring them to Session for approval at the beginning of May. They write up reports of their activities over the past year for the Program Report, and highlight their new plans in the form of goals that are presented at the Annual Program Meeting at the end of May. Things usually get a little quieter over the summer, and then we all get to work again in September to put our plans into action throughout the year. Once in a while, we also get the congregation together to do some deeper reflection and longer-term planning for our mission and ministry. At one such gathering quite a few years ago, St. Andrew’s wrote and embraced a mission statement: “St. Andrew’s exists to proclaim the gospel and share the love of God in our church and in our community.” And at other such gatherings, new ideas for pastoral care, outreach, and stewardship of gifts have been formulated and put into practice in the years following. … Read more »

May 8, 2016

Acts 16:16-34 Psalm 97 John 17:20-26 “God’s Fire” When I read this morning’s Psalm earlier this week, I kind of shuddered. It was the imagery of fire, and lightning, and mountains melting like wax that caused that reaction. As I thought about the terrible fire burning in Fort McMurray, the power of the flames struck me as immense. I heard a fire chief on CBC radio describing the fires that continued to rage in Fort Mac. He explained that there were some sections and neighbourhoods of the city that were untouched by the fires, but that might not last. The fire is powerful and determined, and it will find those areas, he explained. It wants to find those areas. I don’t know what experience the psalmist had with fire, whether he had seen a blaze grow out of control, or lost his home to a terrible fire, but I think he understood the power, determination, and danger of a fire. But instead of describing tyrants or evil powers as being like fires that seek to destroy our lives and livelihoods, the psalmist instead describes the Lord our God as being like fire. He writes: “Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.” As we think about the challenges we … Read more »