May 20, 2007

Acts 1:1-11 Psalm 47 Ephesians 1:15-23 Luke 24:44-53 Tucked away in a corner of most “stained glass” churches is an “Ascension window,” which usually depicts Jesus floating upward in flowing robes while distraught disciples look upward or cover their eyes in fear and anguish. Although we do have the Ascension windows in our churches, most Presbyterians don’t think about or talk about the Ascension very much. It’s an option in the lectionary to read the Ascension texts on the Sunday before Pentecost, and so quite often we miss it altogether, having no special service on Ascension Day, and choosing the 7th Sunday of Easter readings on the Sunday before Pentecost. References to the Ascension are found in many places throughout the New Testament, but the primary texts that describe the Ascension are the two stories that we read today from Luke and Acts. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus appears to the disciples and speaks to them about the Kingdom of God. He instructs them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit who will make them into witnesses “to the end of the earth.” After this “Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” But as much as the Ascension may seem like a strange, magical — even bizarre story, it’s interesting to note that our forebears in the faith deemed it to be extremely important. In Scripture itself, the story appears in Luke and Acts, and in the … Read more »

April 6, 2008

Luke 24:13-35 It’s probably not too difficult for most of us to relate to Cleopas and his friend, trudging along the road to Emmaus after what was probably the greatest disappointment of their lives. Like them, many of us have experienced the loss of dear loved ones — sometimes suddenly, and other times at the end of long and painful illness. Some of us have survived losing jobs or relationships that have come to an end. Others live through each day with the extra challenges of physical or mental illness. Some suffer from discrimination, abuse, or debilitating poverty. And all of us, no matter how care-free our lives may seem, are daily confronted by the realities of violence, and war, and hatred in our world that we feel powerless to overcome. Over the past two weeks, many people in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon, in some of our community agencies, and in the supporting churches, have felt a deep sense of disappointment at the provincial government’s withdrawal of funding for the “Station 20 West” project. As you likely already know, “Station 20 West,” at the corner of 20th Street and Avenue “L,” was to include affordable housing, a co-op grocery store, a public library, a medical and dental clinic, and space for a variety of other community agencies. And “Station 20 West” was a beacon of light — a sign of hope — in innercity neighbourhoods that are marked by poverty, ill-health, and hopelessness. We have a real reason to … Read more »

October 5, 2008 – Parkview Presbyterian Church

The following sermon, based on Luke 24:13-35 and Ezekiel 37:1-14, was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie for the closing worship service of Parkview Presbyterian Church, Saskatoon. The service was conducted by the Presbytery of Northern Saskatchewan on Sunday, October 5th at 4:00 p.m. “Jesus came near and went with us” This is not the first time I have attended a final worship service for a Presbyterian church that was closing. I remember being at the closing service for a little church in Hull, Quebec — Cushman Memorial Presbyterian Church — when they decided to close and their few remaining members joined with my home congregation in Ottawa. Many of us attended that service to sing in the choir and to welcome the folk from Cushman into the fellowship, service, and mission of our church. But this is the first time that I have had the task of preaching at the dissolution of a congregation. It was up to me to choose the scripture texts for today (none being prescribed or even suggested for an occasion such as this). But surprisingly, as I reflected on this point in Parkview’s journey, the texts I would select quickly became apparent. As your interim moderator from October 2006 to June 2008, I was with you as you made the difficult decision to close your doors. When I thought about the disappointment and disillusionment that many of you experienced at that time, my mind quickly went to Cleopas and his friend on the road … Read more »

May 8, 2011

Luke 24:13-35 I have always appreciated Luke’s story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It’s a story of disappointment turning into possibility, of sadness turning into hope, of loneliness turning into friendship, of confusion turning into understanding. It’s a story about an ending becoming a new beginning, of disciples who were wandering away returning with great hope and purpose. An interesting point that has been noted in the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is that only one of them is named. The author of Luke’s Gospel tells us about two disciples “who were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.” One of them, we are told, was named Cleopas. The other is not named. Now, it’s not that unusual in the Gospels to encounter characters that are not named. Yes, we meet many of Jesus’ disciples by name: Simon, Andrew, Matthew, John, and Mary Magdalene, just to name a few. But then we hear about others identified as “a blind man,” “a sinful woman,” or “the woman at the well.” Some have pointed out that the women in the Gospels are disproportionately left unnamed. The classic example is the woman in Mark’s Gospel who anoints Jesus at Bethany. Some of those who were there scolded the unnamed woman for wasting such precious ointment. But Jesus thanked her and praised her for what she did. And he said, “Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole … Read more »

May 4, 2014

Luke 24:13-35 “A Meeting Place on the Journey” There is a beautiful benediction that I learned several years ago. It was the favourite of a minister with whom I studied in Toronto. And it’s the perfect benediction to go with a reflection on today’s Gospel reading about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I’ll share the benediction with you now… but don’t take it to mean that we’re done after this and you can go home. I’ll still have a few more things to say. May the Christ who walks on wounded feetwalk with you on the road.May the Christ who serves with wounded handsstretch out your hands to serve.May the Christ who loves with a wounded heartopen your hearts to love.May you see the face of Christ in everyone you meetand may everyone you meet see the face of Christ in you. Today’s Gospel is about the risen Christ, who comes to walk with two of his disappointed and disillusioned disciples as they travel from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We don’t know much about Cleopas and his friend, except that they had been followers of Jesus, and now, I guess, they’re not. You see, it’s Sunday as they start the seven mile walk to Emmaus. Only hours earlier Mary Magdalene and Joanna and the other women had come to them and told them about a strange and wonderful occurrence at the tomb where Jesus had been buried two days before… Early that morning, on the first day of the … Read more »

May 17, 2014

Acts 1:1-11 Ephesians 1:15-23 Luke 24:44-53 “Ascended and Present” Tucked away in a corner of most “stained glass” churches is an “Ascension window,” which usually depicts Jesus floating upward in flowing robes while distraught disciples look upward or cover their eyes in fear and anguish. Although we do have the Ascension windows in our churches, most Presbyterians don’t think about or talk about the Ascension very much. It’s an option in the lectionary to read the Ascension texts on the Sunday before Pentecost, and so quite often we miss it altogether, having no special service on Ascension Day, and choosing the 7th Sunday of Easter readings on the Sunday before Pentecost. References to the Ascension are found in many places throughout the New Testament, but the primary texts that describe the Ascension are the two stories that we read today from Luke and Acts. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus appears to the disciples and speaks to them about the Kingdom of God. He instructs them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit who will make them into witnesses “to the end of the earth.” After this “Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” But as much as the Ascension may seem like a strange, magical — even bizarre story, it’s interesting to note that our forebears in the faith deemed it to be extremely important. In Scripture itself, the story appears in Luke and Acts, and in … Read more »

April 30, 2017

Luke 24:13-35 Listen to this Sermon “Jesus Walked With Us” Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the Saskatoon Prayer Breakfast. It included some fun music by Brad Johner and his sons, some really meaningful prayers for government leaders, teachers, emergency personnel, those who are poor and struggling, and for the community as a whole. I had some theological issues with the key note speaker, but I will remember the prayer breakfast because of a conversation I had at my table before we ate. I was sitting with a group of young Christian women in their mid to late twenties. One was studying to be a nurse, another was a new teacher, the third worked in a church doing Christian education, and the last worked a couple of jobs, including one at the Saskatoon Food Bank. As I asked them about their work, they started talking about the difference each of their vocations might make in the world. They all agreed that the nurse’s competent care or a possible mistake made could radically alter a patient’s life. What a responsibility to carry, knowing that in a single moment, you could drastically affect the course of someone’s life. But, of course, each one of them recognized that their impact on another person could make a huge difference for the good, or for the bad… and they were rather in awe of the power and responsibility in that realization. One of them reflected that looking back at her own life and decisions so … Read more »

April 15, 2018

Luke 24:36b-48 “Witnesses of God’s Peace” I’ve been in those ICU waiting rooms in the basement at the Royal University Hospital many times over the years. They’re the places where the families gather, and wait, and pray when their loved ones are in crisis due to very serious illness or injury. There’s a lot of pacing that goes on in those rooms, as well as tears being shed, food being shared, and hands being held as loved ones hover on the brink between life and death. Usually only one or two visitors are allowed into the ICU to visit the seriously-ill patients at times when their presence won’t get in the way of the work that is being done. And the rest of the time, family members, friends, and often clergy spend time in the waiting rooms or the hallways… waiting, worrying, hoping, and praying. I can only imagine what it has been like in those waiting rooms over the last week since the Humboldt Broncos’ bus accident. But I’m praying for all the people who are spending their time there in these days. Certainly, those families have experienced an outpouring of support from the people of Saskatchewan and from others further afield – people putting their sticks out, wearing hockey jerseys to indicate that we’re all on the same team, and financially supporting the families through the Go-Fund-Me campaign. But even all of that won’t change the stress, and strain, and worry of those who still wait in those … Read more »

May 13, 2018

Acts 1:1-11 Luke 24:44-53 Ephesians 1:15-23 “Stay with me, Mummy!” In the church today, we celebrate Ascension Sunday – remembering the day that the Risen Jesus was taken up into heaven. In the world today, we celebrate Mothers’ Day – giving thanks for the women who nurtured, loved, and protected us in our growing up, and perhaps still today. The two celebrations are not related, but they happen to land on the same day this year, inviting us to make connections between our faith and our family life. We may note that God is often described as being like a heavenly Father to us – providing for our needs, loving us unconditionally, guiding and directing us to become the faithful people he hopes we will be. But the Bible does not refer to God exclusively in masculine metaphors. There are, albeit few, feminine metaphors used to describe God in the Bible too. One of the common images is God as a mother bird sheltering her children under her wings. We see this in Ruth 2:12 – “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” The psalms also pick up this mother bird image, like in Psalm 57 where the psalmist prays, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” And then Jesus uses the same metaphor when he laments over Jerusalem. He says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets … Read more »