April 15, 2012

Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 133 1 John 1:1-2:2 The fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles provides us with an idyllic picture of the church at the beginning: “The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.” Now that’s unity! They were “of one heart and soul.” Of course, maybe that’s because there weren’t very many of them yet. They were just a small group of disciples who had a lot in common with each other and managed to keep the same perspective on most things. Well, no. They weren’t that small a group. Even before the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out on the gathered disciples, there were about a hundred of them waiting together in Jerusalem. And after that, the church grew in leaps and bounds! And no, they weren’t all fishermen from Galilee. Remember the Jews from all the nations of the world who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost? And remember how they heard the disciples speaking in their own various languages? After Peter’s first sermon to the crowd, apparently 3000 believers were added to their number, and more and more every day after that! By the fourth chapter of Acts, the church must have numbered around 5000 people, and it would have included people from various countries, cultures, languages, and backgrounds. They were probably mostly Jewish Christians – but still, it’s pretty amazing that they were getting along well and unified in heart and soul. … Read more »

June 16, 2013

Genesis 13:1-18 Psalm 133 1 Timothy 5:1-4 Mark 3:31-35 “A Blessing to Others” In Presbyterian and United and perhaps some other Churches as well, it is common to celebrate “Christian Family Sunday” on Mothers’ Day. This year, I thought we could do it on Fathers’ Day instead – equally appropriate, and the same day as our Family Worship service and church picnic. As I thought about “Christian Family Sunday” I started thinking about what makes a Christian family distinct from any other family. Is it just the fact that Christian families come to church on Sundays? Or is it religious activities that take place in the home? Reading bible stories, saying grace before dinner, or perhaps having a practice of bedtime prayers? Is it the determination of Christian families to care for one another and to forgive one another when we find ourselves in conflict and hurting each other? Don’t other families find ways to forgive and mend their relationships too? I came across a resource of “Christian Family Sunday” that encouraged looking at biblical families. Some of these families, like Ruth and Naomi for example, might give us some good examples of what it means to be faithful to one another as families, to sacrifice our own needs for the sake of the most vulnerable, and to stick together through challenges. Other biblical families, of course, might give us some good examples of how NOT to deal with our families. Jacob’s constant trickery and lies for example, don’t make … Read more »

August 17, 2014

Genesis 45:1-15 Psalm 133 “God Turned it Around for Good” How very good and pleasant it is when families live together in unity! This morning’s readings got me thinking about families… about families like the Drovers, bringing their youngest child for baptism this morning, about my own family, about traditional families, and blended families, and broken families, and reconciled families, and people seemingly without families, and our church families. How very good and pleasant it is when families live together in unity! One of the things that is great about the Bible, and especially the Old Testament, is that it doesn’t tell stories about perfect families, and challenge us to live up to their examples. Instead, the Bible is full of stories about real people and real families with all their conflicts, struggles, blessings, and possibilities. On the plane, on my way to Ontario this summer, I watched the recent movie version of the story of Noah and his family. Whoever wrote the screenplay got a bit creative with the story that we know so well from the Bible and filled in some blanks where we don’t have any details. But what struck me about it most was how human the characters were. Even though Noah’s family was supposed to be the only good one left on the earth, the family God would use to begin again after the flood, the movie showed that they were no angels. They were regular people, struggling to live together in unity in the … Read more »

April 12, 2015

Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 133 1 John 1:1 – 2:2 John 20:19-31 “Unity: How Good It Is!” Oh look and wonder, how good it is! Oh look and wonder, how good it is! How good it is when kindred live in harmony together, joyous and sweet as life God gives on Zion evermore. (Sung: Book of Praise, #93) How good it is, indeed, when families get along with each other and enjoy spending time together in work, in leisure, and in rest. If you spent time with your family last weekend over Easter, you may be reflecting either on how wonderful it was to get together, or on how difficult it was because of conflicts, or tensions, or misunderstandings between family members. How good it is, indeed, when church families enjoy coming together to worship, serve, and share fellowship together! Last Sunday after our Easter service, I couldn’t help but notice and celebrate the fact that many people hung around for quite a long time over coffee and conversation in the lower hall. Children were playing, adults were talking, almost everyone was smiling and laughing, and there were even pictures being taken to remember the day. How good it would be if all Christians could come together in this way – not only in social life, but in shared faith and common worship of God in Jesus Christ. Although we are taking steps towards greater cooperation and sharing, the Body of Christ continues to be divided because of differences in doctrine, … Read more »