Acts 17:22-31; John 14:15-21
“The Best is Yet to Come!”
When the Apostle Paul addressed the people of first century Athens, he commented that he had noticed an altar in their city with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ I suppose he must have found it sad that these people were searching for God, and seeking to worship God, and maybe even wanting to offer their lives in service to God, but God remained a mystery to them.
But Paul came with good news for the Athenians, the same good news that has given our lives meaning, purpose, and hope as well. He said: “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things… In him we live and move and have our being… We are his offspring.”
How did Paul know this? And how could he proclaim with such confidence that the God of all Creation was present and active and giving life and breath to all people as God’s … Read more »
1 Peter 2:2-10
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
You may know the Second Sunday in May as “Mothers’ Day” and you may be doing something special for your mother if she is near, reaching out to her by phone or video call if she is far away, or remembering her with thanksgiving if she has died.
Usually at First Church, we share carnations with all the women on Mothers’ Day. Along with the various things I emailed out to everyone on Friday, there was a carnation colouring sheet. You might consider colouring that flower and sharing it along with a note of thanks and encouragement for someone in your life who nurtures and cares for you with a mother’s love.
But in the church, this Sunday is called “Christian Family Sunday” or I like the title “Festival of the Christian Home” because it sounds like a wonderful celebration of families, relationships, and the households to which we belong. During the pandemic, we don’t get to see our church family in person, but we are spending a lot more time with our nuclear families within our homes.
Thinking about this reality reminded me of the concept of “domestic churches” that I came across when I was … Read more »
John 14:15-18, 25-27
“As far as it depends on you…”
This sermon was prepared by the Rev. Amanda Currie with input from the Saskatchewan Presbyterian Youth who were reflecting on the theme of peace during their weekend retreat at First Presbyterian Church November 3-5, 2017.
This weekend First Church was pleased to host the Saskatchewan Presbyterian Youth event which was all about PEACE. And we are pleased this morning to have the SPY youth participating in worship leadership on this Remembrance Sunday.
When we began to discuss PEACE this weekend, we came up with the following definitions of PEACE…
What is Peace?
- A state in which there is no war or fighting
- A quiet and calm state
- A state in which a person is not bothered by thoughts or feelings of doubt, guilt, or worry.
- A feeling of being safe, protected, and relaxed
- A sense of purpose and direction in life
- Being alone, but not lonely
- An end to violence and conflict
- Understanding and respect between people
- Very difficult to achieve
Unfortunately, peace is not something that we notice happening in our world very much. If we watch the news, we are much more aware of war and conflict and violence, and rarely … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
Matthew 5:13-14, 21-22, 43-47; 7:1-5
“Being the Church: Creating Safe Space”
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 … 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 »
“Not Ruled by Anxiety”
I think the most anxious days in my life were the ones I spent waiting to see my doctor after discovering a small lump in my breast. That was more than ten years ago, and it turned out to be benign, but I’ll always remember how it felt when I had to wait… wondering, worrying, imagining the worst.
These days I don’t have any major worries like that… but I do get a bit anxious about getting my school work done on time and well. A week from now I’ll be on my way to Toronto again for my next intensive course, and I’m worrying about getting all the reading done before then. I’m worrying about the bibliography that I’ve put together, but have not yet annotated (adding my summaries of the various articles and books on the list).
Of course, I also worry about the church… about our congregation and whether our ministry here is going to survive and thrive… about the other congregations in our presbytery, especially the ones I’m responsible for as interim moderator… and about the Presbyterian Church in general and what our future might hold.
A basic definition of anxiety is this: a feeling … Read more »
“The Gift of Martyrdom?”
Earlier this year, when the churches of Saskatoon gathered to participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we held a Saturday afternoon workshop to think about and discuss the different gifts that the various church traditions bring to the Christian Church as a whole. We talked about the distinctive qualities of each branch of the Christian Church, and considered what gifts we could offer to one another, and which gifts we would be blessed to receive from others.
The United Church offered their willingness to risk and try things differently, and the Mennonites brought their commitment to peace and social justice. The evangelicals contributed their boldness in sharing their faith with others, and we Presbyterians shared our distinctive form of leadership in the church – with lay people and clergy working together in sessions and presbyteries.
The workshop was going really well, and I was amazed at how easily most of those present were able to name and to welcome the gifts of the other churches. It was a wonderful celebration of the Apostle Paul’s teaching – that there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
But then I wandered over to the table where … 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 »
1 Peter 2:2-10
It was an amazing week… filled with beautiful worship, inspiring preaching, informative lectures, and so many interesting conversations with ministers from across North America. I spent Monday to Friday last week in Minneapolis at the Festival of Homiletics (that’s a fancy word for preaching) and I got to listen to some of the best preachers and teachers of preaching of our time.
We heard Barbara Brown Taylor, Thomas Long, Walter Brueggeman, Anna Carter Florence, Otis Moss III, and many more, as well as lectures by Diana Butler Bass and Brian McLaren. I don’t know if these names mean anything to you or not. But trust me, these are the big names in preaching today… and we were absolutely inundated with fantastic sermons and lectures on preaching all week.
The conference ended on Friday at noon, after an absolutely wonderful worship service at the huge Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis where the largest events were being held. They told us there were 1700 pastors at the conference, and when we all got together, we filled the church almost to capacity. When we sang together, it was a huge swell of sound such that we didn’t really need the help of … Read more »
Until I started to explore this morning’s text from the Book of Acts, I had no idea how much wonderful stuff about God was packed into such a short little speech by Paul at the Areopagus. Your typical modern-day preacher takes at least ten minutes, if not fifteen or twenty minutes to preach the Gospel in most of our churches. And rarely do we manage to do it as eloquently as Paul’s little sermon to the philosophers in Athens.
The element of Paul’s speech that really spoke to me this week was the idea that God does not need us, but that we need God. It’s humbling for us — even the brightest and most gifted and most accomplished and independent — to listen to Paul’s words: “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.”
It’s humbling to remember that everything that we have and everything that we … Read more »
A sermon by Dineke Kraay on Mission Awareness
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ! On this Mission Awareness Sunday, the members of the Hildur Hermanson group intend to emphasize the mission work of our national church and the work of the Women’s Missionary Society. My first idea was to give you a lot of Mission information. It would have gone on like this: according to the latest statistics, in 2006 Canada Ministries created Fourteen New Ministries. It supported Twenty-six Specialized Ministries. In addition it gave funds to Eight Renewing and Eighteen Sustaining Ministries.
These are awfully dry statistics. But they come to life when the people involved tell their stories as they do in Stories of Mission. And I could probably have provided you with similar statistics about International Ministries. But again, it is the stories that count. So, I urge you to pick up your free copy of this booklet after the service. They are on the table in the Narthex. And do read the additional mission information in the bulletin.
I would like to highlight, however, the mission work in Eastern Europe. The Presbyterian Church in Canada supports: The Reformed Church in Hungary, The … Read more »