“Be Who You Are”
There was a discussion on Facebook earlier this week among some Presbyterian clergy and other church folk about what people wear to church. Most of them reported that people in their congregations regularly came to worship in a whole variety of dress, from very formal to very casual, depending on their age, culture, experience, and ability. And everyone is welcome, no matter what they are wearing.
This was experienced as a positive change from a few decades ago when putting on your “Sunday best” for church was absolutely expected, and it wasn’t unusual for some folks to frown on others who didn’t manage to dress appropriately. Interestingly, the conversation actually started with someone relating a story about a friend who visited a church where he received negative comments on his attire – not because he was too casual, but because he was too well-dressed.
And then the ministers lamented the fact that sometimes, in our churches, we still pay too much attention to what people are wearing. We develop cultural traditions and expect everyone to dress and look pretty much the same, and fail to make space for the differences and diversities that could enrich our … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
“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 … Read more »
“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 … Read more »
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Tomorrow – October 17th – has been designated as the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.” And here in our city, the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition is hosting its 8th Annual “Poverty Awareness Week,” with special events being planned throughout the week to raise consciousness about poverty in our community, as well as to encourage those who live in poverty as they continue their daily struggle.
Last year was the first time (in my almost 8 years of living in Saskatoon) that I participated in the “Hands Across the Water” event during “Poverty Awareness Week.” “Hands Across the Water” is a kind of symbolic act. People gather at the bottom of the Broadway Bridge. Then we line up, and join hands as we walk up the bridge, with the goal of being able to reach to the other side.
We come together as people of all socio-economic levels, and we join hands to combat poverty, to reach across the troubled waters that so many people experience because of poverty. We recognize that poverty is an issue that affects us all – both the West side and East side of Saskatoon – and that together we can overcome … Read more »
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 … Read more »