“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 … Read more »
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
“We Will Testify to Love”
Today we celebrate Pentecost as a festival of the Christian church. The roots of Pentecost however, predate the events of Acts chapter 2, as Pentecost was one of three major pilgrimage festivals in Judaism. In today’s reading from the Book of Acts, there were “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” gathered in Jerusalem because they had all come for the great pilgrimage festival of Pentecost.
The name “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek prefix pente – meaning “five” or “fifty.” According to Deuteronomy 16, this festival (which was sometimes called the “Festival of Weeks”) took place fifty days after Passover. It marked the completion of the grain harvest that came in late spring. In later Judaism, Pentecost also became a time when the people celebrated God’s giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, thus creating a new covenant community.
But on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, something spectacular happened that transformed the meaning of that festival for followers of Jesus and established an important Christian celebration for centuries to come:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, [Jesus’ disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly from … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
1 Chronicles 16:23-31
Why do we worship? Hopefully when I asked that question of the children this morning, you began to reflect on it as well. Because we can’t even begin to consider whether our worship is what bishop and author, Robert Schnase, would call “Passionate Worship” without first thinking about the nature and purpose of the worship that we offer to God Sunday-by-Sunday.
Psalm 63 is not an argument for why we should worship God, and the author is not trying to convince us that regular attendance at worship is important. Instead, the psalmist is simply sharing his own experience. In fact, his words aren’t even addressed to us. They are actually a prayer directed to God – a prayer that beautifully expresses how critically important it is for this man to spend time in worship:
“O God, you are my God,” he addresses the Holy One, “I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” He describes what it is like for him to spend time in the sanctuary praising God and meditating on God’s glory. … Read more »
John 14:8-17, 25-27
“The Gift of Remembering”
How are you at remembering? Are you good at remembering faces and names? Do you retain the details of what you read in the newspaper or hear on the news? Can you remember what’s in your schedule for later today or next week on a specific day? Do you usually remember things like birthdays and anniversaries, or do you need someone to remind you?
More and more, these days… (Perhaps it’s something that goes along with aging or hanging around with older people…) I hear people complaining that they can’t remember the things they want to remember. The names of friends or relations just won’t come to mind. Someone’s in the middle of a story, goes off on a tangent, and can’t remember what the point of the narrative was supposed to be. And one of the most annoying things for busy people… you get up from what you’re doing, rush to another room in your house or workplace, and stop in your tracks. You can’t remember what you were going to do.
It seems to me that when we have trouble remembering, there are a few possible reactions. We can beat ourselves up about … Read more »
This morning we are pleased to be receiving new members into our congregation. Some will be publicly professing their faith in God and their desire to follow Jesus with their lives for the first time today. Others will be re-affirming their faith and making a commitment to worship and serve with us here at St. Andrew’s as members of this local congregation of God’s people.
As I think about their professions of faith, I can’t help but wonder about the Christians who may have been a part of their journey to this day. I know that others witnessed to them about the love of God in Jesus Christ – maybe their parents or grandparents, maybe good friends, maybe preachers and teachers in their congregations of the past and in this congregation as well. Certainly, the witness about Jesus was present in the Scriptures which they read and considered in a variety of ways over the years. And for all those witnesses of centuries past and times present, I give thanks to God.
Perhaps we might all pause this morning to think about who shared the good news with us. Whether it was many years ago or quite recently, whether it … Read more »
John 14:8-17, 25-27
“A Spirit of Adoption”
Pentecost is sometimes called “the birthday of the church.” We gather to remember and celebrate what happened on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection – how the Holy Spirit was poured out in power on the gathered disciples… making them one, sending them out in mission, empowering them to proclaim the gospel to all the people of the world.
It seems fitting on this day, to begin by remembering what Pentecost is all about. And it seems fitting to share part of a reflection that was published online for Pentecost this week. It’s a message from the Presidents of the World Council of Churches. They write:
“We have celebrated with joy the feast of Easter. We have remembered Jesus’ departure from his disciples, those he loved and those who loved him at his Ascension into heaven. Now, today, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the day of God’s priceless gift to the world, the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are called in the power of that Spirit to turn again to God, to give ourselves to Jesus Christ joyfully and to serve our brothers and sisters who do … Read more »
On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the wonderful event that took place on the first Pentecost following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples were all together in one place, and the Spirit of God was poured out on them in power. It filled the room where they were meeting, and sent them rushing out into the streets to tell the good news about Jesus to visiting pilgrims from all over the world. Though the listeners came from many places and spoke many different languages, they heard the disciples proclaiming the mighty acts of God in their own native tongues.
Often Pentecost is referred to as the birthday of the church. Although the followers of Jesus always had a mission, and John’s Gospel tells about Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit onto his disciples even before he died, for the author of Luke and Acts, this is the moment when the Christians first received the gift of the Holy Spirit empowering them to go out and tell the good news to all the world.
As we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, many of us may wonder what the Spirit is doing today. It’s one thing to read about what the … Read more »
“FIRE is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.” I looked that up on Wikipedia, where it also says this about FIRE: “Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning.” That is, unless we’re talking about Moses’ burning bush where the bush was miraculously burning and burning, but not being consumed.
As you may have guessed by now, FIRE is the topic of my sermon this morning, just as FIRE was the theme of our Saskatchewan Presbyterian Youth event here this weekend. When we titled the weekend “Fire’s Burning, Draw Nearer,” we hoped that youth from across the province would come together this weekend – drawing near to one another (making new friends and renewing old friendships) and that they would draw near to God as well through worship, study, discussion, prayer, and music. With participants from Regina, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon, I think I can speak for the group when I say that we’ve had a wonderful time together.
Now, when I say that we’ve had a wonderful time together, I don’t mean to … Read more »
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
The wind was blowing yesterday. It was slamming the screen door and rattling the blinds of my house. It was pushing my little red car as I drove along the freeway so that I had to hang on tight to the steering wheel. It was rustling through the branches of the trees and sending out showers of seeds through the air. And up above, it was streaking its way across the sky, playing with the clouds and creating an ever-changing display of God’s glory.
It makes a lot of sense to me that the Spirit of God should be compared to a rushing wind… an invisible force that seems to come out of nowhere, but that makes its presence and power seen and heard by its effect on whatever it blows upon.
I remember a friend in my church membership class years ago trying to describe what the Holy Spirit was. She said the Spirit is the “umph” I need to do and be what God is calling me to do and be. The Spirit is like the “divine shove” that disturbs us out of our resting places and moves us to start doing God’s work in the world.
That … Read more »
The book of the “Acts of the Apostles” is a unique book within the new Testament. There are four accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. And there are many letters written by Paul and other church leaders to fledgling Christian communities all around the known world. But the Book of Acts is different. Its topic is the early church at its beginning.
Jesus ascends into heaven in the first chapter, and then we have the stories of the birth and growth of the church. Like the Gospels, its form is historical narrative, and its author is likely the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke. And though the stories in Acts are about “what happened” among the first Christians, their purpose is greater than simply to record a historical moment. In fact, like in the Gospels, historical accuracy may often be discarded in order to relate to the readers (the next generations of the church) what was the purpose and mission and character of being the church together at the beginning.
Today’s few verses, from the end of the second chapter, are some of my favourite verses in Acts. They are a … Read more »