May 24, 2020

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 John 17:1-11 “Holy God, Protect Them” “Holy God, protect them.” That was part of the prayer that Jesus prayed in the days leading up to his death and resurrection. It was part of the prayer that he prayed for his disciples and for those who would come after them. The fact that Jesus prayed for us so intently in those days, rather than simply praying for himself and his own needs, and the idea that Jesus continues to pray for us even now have often been an encouragement to Christians. When we’re feeling worried or afraid, when we’re tempted to give up or give in, when we are doubting God’s presence or love, or suffering from various trials, we are reminded that Jesus prays for us. The prayer assures us that we belong to Jesus as his followers, and therefore we also belong to God and are under God’s care. Jesus acknowledges that he will no longer be in the world (at least in a physical sense) but that we will be here and we will need God’s protection. Jesus talks about giving us the gift of eternal life. But as I suggested a couple of weeks ago, that doesn’t just mean a promise of life after death. It’s a promise of life that begins now and never ends. Jesus defines it, saying: “And this is eternal life, that they may know [God], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [God] has sent.” Jesus’ prayer … Read more »

October 20, 2019

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Psalm 133 John 17:20-23 “I Have Need of You” Back in my seminary days at Knox College, I took a preaching class with Stephen Farris that was specifically focussed on preaching 1st Corinthians for congregations in conflict. You may remember that the Church at Corinth was the epitome of a congregation in conflict. In the first chapter we hear that some say they belong to Paul, others to Apollos, and others to Peter. They have divided themselves into different groups with different allegiances, and they aren’t being very kind to one another. Some of them think that they are better than the others because they have special spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues. When they get together for the Lord’s supper, some are getting well fed while others go hungry. And when they share times of worship, there is chaos happening too – a kind of a power struggle over leadership and who gets to interpret God’s Word. They are even having arguments that lead to lawsuits. Things are not good. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians provides excellent material for challenging and encouraging congregations that are experiencing conflict today. In the class, we were given a particular situation of congregational conflict and instructed to preach a passage from 1 Corinthians that would speak to that situation. It wasn’t a difficult assignment, especially with imaginary circumstances. I never could have imagined seventeen years ago that I’d one day be Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly and challenged to … Read more »

September 26, 2019

Ephesians 4:1-7, 13-16 John 17:11-21 “Growing Up Together” A Sermon for the 75th Anniversary of the Canadian Council of Churches at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto I am deeply honoured to be here tonight and to preach in this church at this celebration. A week ago I was in Hungary and Romania on a Moderator’s visit to the Reformed Churches there that are partners in mission with our Presbyterian Church in Canada. While in Budapest, we met a Korean pastor who is serving the one Korean-language congregation in the Reformed Church of Hungary. After a few minutes of getting to know each other, he felt comfortable enough to express his surprise at meeting the Canadian Presbyterian Moderator and discovering that the Moderator looked like this! He said, “In Korea, our moderators are usually old men.” “Yes, I understand. In Canada that is often the case too.” And then the Hungarian Church’s ecumenical officer chimed in, noting that before our visit he had looked at the pictures of past moderators on our church’s website. He said, “It looks like the church went in a different direction this time.” Well, I’m still kind of shocked that I am the Moderator this year. But I would like to think that the main reason for my election was unrelated to my gender or my age. I think perhaps that I was chosen for this moment in our church’s history because people could see that I would bring a focus on the unity of the … Read more »

December 31, 2016

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie The following are reflections from our “Watch Night Service” held on New Year’s Eve, and finishing up in the early morning of New Year’s Day 2017. Reflection #1 – I want to begin with a reading from the Book of Lamentations. Yes, it is part of a book of laments – people crying out to God with their complaints and struggles. I think it makes sense because I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting about 2016: “It was such a terrible year! So many bad things happened! I just wish it could be over! Good riddance to 2016!” And I guess quite a few hard things happened in the world this year. People noticed that lots of celebrities died. But, of course, there were very serious things happening in Syria and other places too, and there was the terrible result in the American election too. And maybe some of us had some hard things happen in our personal lives too… deaths of loved ones, illness, injury, plans that didn’t work out, difficulties in our relationships, mistakes that we made and couldn’t correct… Well, the author of Lamentations can relate. In the section before our reading, he is lamenting and wailing and crying about all his troubles. And then he says this: Lamentations 3:19-26 I don’t think our troubles can be any worse than the problems of the author of Lamentations. So, we are invited to do what he did – call to mind the … Read more »

May 8, 2016

Acts 16:16-34 Psalm 97 John 17:20-26 “God’s Fire” When I read this morning’s Psalm earlier this week, I kind of shuddered. It was the imagery of fire, and lightning, and mountains melting like wax that caused that reaction. As I thought about the terrible fire burning in Fort McMurray, the power of the flames struck me as immense. I heard a fire chief on CBC radio describing the fires that continued to rage in Fort Mac. He explained that there were some sections and neighbourhoods of the city that were untouched by the fires, but that might not last. The fire is powerful and determined, and it will find those areas, he explained. It wants to find those areas. I don’t know what experience the psalmist had with fire, whether he had seen a blaze grow out of control, or lost his home to a terrible fire, but I think he understood the power, determination, and danger of a fire. But instead of describing tyrants or evil powers as being like fires that seek to destroy our lives and livelihoods, the psalmist instead describes the Lord our God as being like fire. He writes: “Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.” As we think about the challenges we … Read more »

June 1, 2014

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 John 17:1-11 “Jesus Prays for Us” He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the whole wide world in his hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands. The songs we sing in daily life, and especially in worship, have a lot of power to shape our thinking and believing about God, the world, and ourselves in relationship to both. I grew up in church and at camp singing songs that expressed the love, care, and concern of God for the whole world… and that perspective has been a part of my theology ever since. God has the whole world in God’s hands: the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain, the tiny little baby, and you and me and everyone else as well. If you share that kind of thinking about God’s interest in the world, you conclude that God loves your new Muslim neighbour, and God is concerned about what the agnostics and secular humanists discuss when they meet as the Saskatoon Centre for Inquiry. God cares about the First Nations children living in sub-standard housing on a northern reserve, about the young Indian woman who was stoned to death by her family, and about the rich family in a large North American city who live in a gated community and send their children to an expensive private school. God has the whole world in God’s hands. But when the author … Read more »

May 12, 2013

Acts 16:9-34 John 17:20-26 “Jesus is Praying for Us” There’s a continuing theme that begins in the Gospels, continues and grows through the Acts of the Apostles, and is picked up again and again in the letters of Paul and others in the time of the earliest Churches. It’s the idea that the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ is for all the people of the world. Jesus was born to a Jewish family and lived as a faithful Jew. His ministry began among the Jews and for the Jews, and then it began to spread. Jesus went beyond the boundaries of religion, race, gender, and social standing… engaging in conversation with those beyond his immediate community, reaching out in love to those on the margins of society, and by the end of the Gospels, encouraging his disciples to go and preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to all the people of the world. This morning I decided to include two readings from the Book of Acts. The first one about Paul and his friends going to Macedonia, meeting Lydia, and Lydia and her household being baptized, was the reading assigned for last Sunday. We did Camp Sunday instead, so we didn’t get to hear it last week. The second one Dorothy read for us this morning about Paul and Silas exorcising an evil spirit from a slave-girl, and then getting flogged and thrown in jail. While in jail, they keep their spirits … Read more »