“The Source of our Joy”
I’ve noticed that as the Covid-19 Pandemic has dragged on and on, the usual greetings we exchange when we meet each other have changed somewhat. Of course, they’ve changed in that they don’t include handshakes or hugs. We stand at a distance as we say hello. We wave or we nod, or we try to smile with our eyes.
But many of our greetings are shared online these days as well. Our little Zoom boxes appear on our screens, we smile and say, “How are you?” And most of the time, the answer is not, “Fine, thank you” or “I’m great! How are you?” It’s most often something like, “Ummm… I’m okay, I guess.”
There’s a lot of talk these days about the idea that many people are languishing, and some are really struggling with depression. If that sounds like you right now, please do reach out for help so that you can get the support and mental health care that you need.
In a way, it feels odd to be preaching about joy in this context. I mean, I remember what joy feels like, and I’m hopeful that there will be some more joy in the future. … Read more »
1 John 4:7-21
“Love In, Love Out”
When we gathered on Zoom earlier this week to read and discuss today’s Gospel text, the very first thing that was noted was how many times Jesus tells his disciples to “abide.” Some of our Bible translations said, “remain.” They could also have said, “stay put,” and that would have sounded so familiar in these pandemic times of “staying put” at home as much as possible.
But in this case, the instruction to “abide” from Jesus is not intended to keep us separate and safe from a virus, but its goal is to keep Jesus’ followers close and connected to one another and to him so that they will be spiritually nourished and equipped to minister to others in Jesus’ name.
And hasn’t that been one of the big challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic for the church? We’ve had to figure out how to stay physically distant, but spiritually close – remaining apart from one another to guard our physical health and well-being, while finding ways to keep on abiding in Jesus and the Christian community for our spiritual health and our ongoing mission in the world.
This is the second week in a row that our … Read more »
Oh, my goodness! This is a difficult time in which to live. Perhaps every generation says that, as we experience the challenges of life and the troubles of the world around us. But right now, it just seems that we are faced with one tragedy after another, so much senseless violence, and no end in sight!
The Rev. Matthew Sams, who serves at Willowdale Presbyterian Church, just around the corner from the van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people last week, wrote and shared this prayer last Monday:
Knees bent in service to comfort the wounded
Knees bent in prayer to summon peace
Sitting on my couch,
the news is on,
a curtain torn in the temple of my heart
admitting the world’s pain.
Death has its own schedule
A withered hand reaching in to steal away life
you are the giver of life
Therefore, we lift up to you those who have died on this day when violence erupted.
There is no making sense of their death, there is no justice available in this moment.
Yet may those who love them be comforted.
There will be no raising today as for the sons of the widows of Zarephath and of Nain. Yet we are … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
1 Samuel 18:1-5
“Wisdom for Friendship”
In this mini-series on the Book of Proverbs, it has been interesting to take a look at one of the wisdom books of the Hebrew Scriptures to which we don’t often pay a lot of attention.
Two weeks ago, we reflected on the book in a general sense, exploring its purpose and potential usefulness for us today. Rather than trying to read whole chapters of the book in a single sitting, I suggested taking individual proverbs (just a verse or two in length) and reflecting first on how we may have experienced the proverb to be true, followed by asking ourselves what the proverb may be calling us to do, change, or focus on in our daily lives in response to its wisdom.
Last week, I chose a particular theme that comes up frequently in Proverbs – “the fear of the Lord” that is described as the beginning of wisdom. We remembered God’s holiness and Jesus’ call to us to be perfect as God is perfect. Although we can be realistic and admit that we won’t reach perfection in this life, we were challenged by the reminder that God … 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 »
1 John 5:1-6
“Radical New Inclusion?”
When I began to plan for this morning’s worship a few weeks ago, I thought I would preach about the impact of Christian camping. My own experience at a Presbyterian camp as a teenager and young adult had a significant effect on my journey of faith and contributed to the discernment of my call to ministry.
A couple of lines in the Gospel passage stood out to me in my reflection… the part where Jesus instructs his disciples to abide in his love by keeping his commandments, and then he tells them, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
I thought especially about how my experience of camping ministry had grounded me in the faith, providing me with patterns of prayer, Bible study, and worship which I have treasured ever since. And I thought about how discovering my vocation as a Christian minister has not made my life simple or easy, but it has filled me with joy and peace many times throughout my life.
I thought I might encourage everyone today, not only to send your children and grandchildren to … Read more »
We’ve been talking about friendship this weekend with the Saskatchewan Presbyterian Youth. We looked at the story of David and Jonathan to see what we could learn about friendship from them. We studied the passage from John’s Gospel where Jesus calls his disciples friends, and thought about what it means to be a friend of Jesus. And we watched and discussed the play, “The Shape of a Girl” – a play about friendship, and bullying, and things getting out of control, and having the courage to speak out.
More than any of us, the youth are probably most used to thinking about and talking about friendship. At their stage of life, making and keeping friends is a big part of life. When we are young, we learn about being friends… maybe from our parents, and maybe from our peers… we learn how to play together with others, how to share, how to care, how to listen to someone else and share our feelings with others too.
I want to invite you now… no matter how old you are… to think about the friends you have had over the years. Remember your friends at school or in the neighbourhood when you were a … Read more »
Do you remember the story of Peter and Cornelius? It comes just before the section from the Book of Acts that William read for us this morning.
Cornelius was a Roman Centurion. He was a devout man who feared God. He prayed diligently and gave generously to the poor, but he was a Gentile. And one day, Cornelius has a vision. An angel appears to him and tells him to send a couple of servants to a place called Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. And so he did.
Meanwhile, the Apostle Peter goes up on his roof to pray, and he sees a vision too. He sees the sky open up, and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it are all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he hears a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”
Peter is obviously shocked because these are animals that Jews like him don’t normally eat. He says, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” But the voice is insistent. It repeats the instruction again and … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
I’ve been thinking about LOVE all weekend. A young couple in our congregation, Greg Mergen and Kim Lund, got married yesterday so I got to preach on the classic wedding text of 1 Corinthians 13 — the “love chapter”. You know the one. In the middle of it, the apostle Paul describes what love is:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
And whether it’s the Corinthian Christians trying to love each other despite their differences and conflicts, whether it’s married couples trying to love each other through all the ups and downs of life together, or whether it’s any of us Christians trying to put love into practice in our lives, it seems like an impossibly high standard to live up to.
We do try though, don’t we? We try to get along with our co-workers. We try not to snap at our kids. … Read more »