February 6, 2011

Isaiah 58:1-12 Matthew 5:13-10 Last May our church had the opportunity to send a team of four people to a conference in Niagara Falls called “Stewards by Design.” Patti Polowick, Blair Lukan, Dorothy de Bruijn, and I took part in this three day conference, organized by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, to assist congregations in growing their ministries as good stewards of the many gifts that God has blessed us with. The keynote speaker for “Stewards by Design” was Kennon Callahan – a minister, author, and conference leader for many years. We learned about Callahan’s concept of the “Twelve Keys to an Effective Church,” and we began to work together to analyze St. Andrew’s ministry – thinking about our strengths, our resources, and our limitations as a congregation of Christ’s Church in Saskatoon. The core idea of Callahan’s books and conferences is that healthy and effective congregations develop strengths in at least 8 or 9 of the twelve key areas. And we do it by first identifying our current strengths and working to strengthen those areas even more. The four of us who attended the conference could probably tell you what WE think are St. Andrew’s greatest strengths… But the process of congregational development works best if we can identify our strengths together, and decide together what areas we should work on. One of the great things about Callahan’s model is that we don’t have to be great at everything, and we don’t have to do everything. We can choose … Read more »

February 13, 2011

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Matthew 5:21-37 Can you think of a sermon that changed your life? Can you remember a speech that transformed the way you think or feel about life, about faith, about God? Maybe you can think of a sermon preached from this very pulpit by one of our previous ministers. Maybe you are remembering a speech by a political figure, by a leader in human rights and justice, or by a major religious leader. I remember a lecture given by one of my favourite preachers, Barbara Brown Taylor. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I remember the way I felt as I listened to her. I remember the way her words made sense to me, and how I suddenly understood my own calling to be a preacher in a new and deeper way. When rightly used and directed, a skilfully prepared and delivered speech can take on a life-transforming importance. And even if we can’t recall the exact words that affected us so deeply, few people can claim that they have never been so deeply moved by a powerful speech or sermon that they have changed the direction of their lives. Although it is encouraging and inspiring to think that my own Sunday sermons might carry that kind of power, it is good to know that we have access to many other sermons, reflections, and writings which can both supplement and inform what any given minister might preach on Sunday morning. In fact, in today’s readings from … Read more »

February 2, 2014

Matthew 5:1-12 “Receive God’s Blessing” When someone says that you’re getting “preachy” they usually don’t mean it as a compliment. They probably mean that you’re telling them what to do or what to think. They might mean that you’re moralizing or laying on a guilt trip to get them to do what you believe is right. Preaching is not generally thought of as particularly positive, and sermons are assumed to be long and boring at best, and guilt-inducing lists of things you should be doing at worst. But out of habit, or determination, or perhaps an alternate vision of what preaching can be, here you are again this Sunday morning to listen to yet another sermon. And today you don’t just get a sermon from me, but you get at least a portion of a sermon from Jesus himself. Traditionally known as the Sermon on the Mount, today’s Gospel passage from Matthew is the first twelve verses of something Jesus preached to a crowd of followers in the early part of his ministry. Now, there’s an interesting thing that happens in the Gospel of Matthew, a version of the story of Jesus that was written primarily for a Jewish Christian community. To put it simply, Jesus is portrayed as the “new Moses.” You might notice that the sequence of events in the first in the first chapters of Matthew mirrors the sequence in Exodus: both narratives tell the stories of slaughter of infants, the return of the hero, the passing … Read more »

February 9, 2014

Matthew 5:13-20 Isaiah 58:1-12 “Living in the World as Salt and Light” Over the last few days I have been pondering what Jesus might have meant when he told his disciples and others who came to hear his teaching, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.” I’ve been thinking about the metaphors themselves, and how God’s people might be like salt or like light for the world. As light, perhaps our role is to bring new wisdom or understanding, to assist others to see what is real and true, or to expose problems or injustices that need to be corrected. As salt, maybe our job is to make things better, like salt enhances the flavour of food without drawing attention to itself. Salt may also be used to cleanse, or to preserve, or even to kill. What insights might these functions give for what it means for us to be salt, as Jesus tells us we are? But rather than get stuck naming all the possible meanings and trying to figure out what Jesus might have meant, Edwin Van Driel, in a reflection on this Gospel text, invites us to begin by considering what Jesus’ words might have meant to those who first heard them. Jesus’ original audience consisted of the Jewish disciples and crowds who gathered in Palestine to listen to his wise teaching. Of course, we must remember their immediate context – they were the people of Israel living under … Read more »

February 23, 2014

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 Matthew 5:38-48 “We Will Be Holy” God says “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And as I read, and re-read, and reflected on these words this week, I became very aware of how unholy and imperfect I am. I was having one of those days… the kind of day when nothing seems to be going well, when work is a struggle, and everyone is getting on my nerves. My biggest problem, I was sure, was not my problem. It was everyone else around me who was at fault… from the bad drivers on the road in the morning, to the Olympic commentators with their poor grammar in the evening. And during the daytime, none of the people with whom I had to meet and interact were living up to my expectations at all, and I was frustrated beyond belief. Some of the worst religious people, I think, are the ones who live a certain way because of their faith… maybe they don’t drink, or they don’t swear, or they don’t live together before they’re married, or maybe they don’t drive a gas-guzzling truck that harms the environment, or they don’t buy anything except fair trade and organic products, or whatever… But rather than simply living according to their understanding of God’s laws, and leaving it at that, they spend a lot of time and energy judging and scolding other people … Read more »

October 30, 2016 – “Being the Church: Creating Safe Space”

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Matthew 5:13-14, 21-22, 43-47; 7:1-5 John 14:25-27 “Being the Church: Creating Safe Space” Listen to this Sermon On Friday evening, I attended one of the Interchurch Health Ministries education sessions. That’s the program that provides training and support for parish nurses, as well as for congregation members and clergy who are working with parish nurses, like ours, Laura Van Loon. The particular session was on the topic of family violence – helping us to identify its various forms, realize its prevalence, and become aware of how we can assist those who are victims of physical, emotional, psychological, or economic abuse perpetrated by their own family members. As the session neared its conclusion, we were invited to consider a question: “What is the faith community’s responsibility with regard to family violence?” What is our responsibility as parish nurses, clergy, and congregations when women, children, or men are suffering violence at the hands of their own loved ones? I immediately thought of the responsibility to report suspected abuse. There is both a moral and a legal imperative to speak up when we think that a vulnerable person like a child, youth, or elder is being abused. But then others in the class pointed out that our responsibility is deeper and more significant than just “blowing a whistle” at something happening outside of the church community. They said that, as churches, we are called to be safe places for those who are vulnerable… places where violence, in … Read more »

February 5, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Isaiah 58:1-9a Matthew 5:13-20 Listen to this Sermon “I’m not THAT kind of Christian!” “I’m not THAT kind of Christian.” Have you found yourself saying that lately, in this climate of extremism, suspicion, and hatred? You know what I mean, right? When people assume that Christians are judgmental, bigoted, and exclusionary… When people presume that being a Christian means sharing the perspectives of the Religious Right, being sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and a whole host of other negative views. I’ve heard people say, “I’m not THAT kind of Christian” a lot lately, and when I looked up the phrase online, I found that there was a Facebook group called “I’m Not That Kind of Christian” and that one person had even written a book with the same name. The author, Christian Piatt, points out that “there are lots of perceptions about who Christians are, and most of them aren’t good.” In a survey he conducted some years ago for a book, the words most often associated with Christians were “narrow-minded,” “judgmental,” and “hypocritical.” Of course, we’ve earned a lot of those labels, Christian admits, but some of it has come from the tendency of media to jump on stories of scandal and corruption that are hardly the status quo. And so, we find ourselves trying to explain that we’re not “that kind of Christian” – the one you heard preaching on TV about women being subservient to their husbands as the heads of the household; … Read more »

February 19, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 Matthew 5:38-48 Listne to this Sermon “We will be holy” God says “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And as I read, and re-read, and reflected on these words this week, I became very aware of how unholy and imperfect I am. I was having one of those days… the kind of day when nothing seems to be going well, when work is a struggle, and everyone is getting on my nerves. My biggest problem, I was sure, was not my problem. It was everyone else around me who was at fault… from the bad drivers on the road in the morning, to the news reporters with their poor grammar in the evening. And during the daytime, none of the people with whom I had to meet and interact were living up to my expectations at all, and I was frustrated beyond belief. Some of the worst religious people, I think, are the ones who live a certain way because of their faith… maybe they don’t drink, or they don’t swear, or they don’t live together before they’re married, or maybe they don’t drive a gas-guzzling truck that harms the environment, or they don’t buy anything except fair trade and organic products, or whatever… But rather than simply living according to their understanding of God’s laws, and leaving it at that, they spend a … Read more »