“Half an Hour of Hymns” at First Presbyterian Church in Regina on Sunday, August 30th. The theme this week was inspired by Jesus’ question to his disciples in Matthew 16: “Who do you say that I am?”
Romans 12:9-21 Matthew 16:21-28 “Overcome Evil with Good” Thank you, Marianne and Gabe, for sharing that beautiful ministry of music, “Ancient Words.” Sometimes, when I am reading Scripture, I almost forget how ancient the words actually are. I open the Bible expecting the words to say something to me and to our community today, and I lose sight of the reality that they were written so long ago, in another language, to ancient communities of faith in a land far away. And yet, the ancient words do still speak to us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God teaches and guides us through the Scriptures as we seek to follow the Way of Jesus even today. We need to do the work of reading and thinking about them, considering the setting and historical circumstances that they first addressed, and applying them to our time and place, but they are indeed relevant for us. The lectionary passage that really struck me this week was the section from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the first century Roman Church. In the first part of chapter twelve, Paul instructs them about how to get along as a Christian community – valuing each member, sharing the variety of gifts they have received, and honouring each other in love. Christians today know how hard it is to live together in community – whether as Christian families, congregations, presbyteries, or whole denominations. We have to make decisions together. We have to respect differences. We have to … Read more »
Worship for Sunday, August 23rd with the Synod of Saskatchewan: Summer Student Minister, Samuel Andri leading and preaching, with participation from across the province.
Exodus 3:1-15 Romans 12:9-21 Matthew 16:21-28 “Holy Ground” It is September – a wonderful time for new beginnings! I wonder if it is a good time for you, right now, as September begins, to make a new start in your life of faith. And I wonder what that would look like for you. Today’s story from the Book of Exodus is all about a new beginning for Moses that leads to a new beginning for God’s People, Israel, in a new land and with a new freedom. And it starts with God speaking. Moses was going about his work, looking after his father-in-law’s sheep, not looking for a change, not searching for adventure, not trying to figure out what his next big mission should be. But God speaks to him, and everything changes. God gets his attention with a burning bush, calls him by name, and then explains that God has a task for him to do… to go to the Pharaoh, and bring God’s People out of slavery in Egypt. God speaks to others too. The Apostle Paul comes to mind, back before his name was changed, and he was Saul. He was travelling along the road to Damascus when it happened. God got Saul’s attention by blinding him with a bright light. And then he heard Jesus’ voice asking him, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Or how about those fishermen that Jesus met by the Sea of Galilee? Simon & Andrew, James & John. In some tellings … Read more »
Exodus 3:1-15 Romans 12:9-21 Matthew 16:21-28 “Here I am, Lord” The Hebrews were a group of marginal, oppressed people, living in the land of Egypt long ago, and in an attempt to keep their population under control, the king of Egypt ordered that any male babies born to the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile river to drown. And that’s when Moses was born. After hiding the little boy for three months, Moses’ mother placed him in a basket and released him to float down the river, from which he was rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him in and raised him as her own son. We don’t know anything about Moses’ life as he grew up in Egypt, just as we don’t know much about Jesus’ early life. But the book of Exodus indicates that although Moses had the privileges of royalty, he did know that he was born a Hebrew, and he had a certain amount of identification with their plight as an oppressed People. The first story about Moses’ adult life is about him trying to stand up for a Hebrew who was being beaten by an Egyptian. But rather than just order the Egyptian to stop, Moses’ anger takes over and he kills the Egyptian oppressor. No one in the story is impressed by his action. The Hebrews are horrified and a little scared of him, and the Pharaoh is angry too and wants Moses killed. So Moses runs away. He goes to a place … Read more »
Exodus 1:8 – 2:10 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 16:13-20 “Living Sacrifices” Can you imagine being Shiprah or Puah when Pharaoh ordered them to start killing all the baby boys? How scary it must have been for them to disobey the king’s orders and lie right to his face about it! Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples when he asked, “Who do YOU say that I am?” How difficult it must have been for Peter to say out loud what he really believed about Jesus when everyone else seemed to think he was just some kind of prophet! In some ways, this morning’s readings are very different from each other. But on another level, they are connected because they’re all about people of faith finding the courage to speak and to act on their faith in spite of great opposition. On Friday evening, I went to a short play with my friend, Martha. It’s a play that we’re considering including in the program for the Saskatchewan Presbyterian Youth conference at the end of September. And it’s a pretty heavy play because it’s all about girls bullying girls. It’s one of those one-actor plays that always impresses me so much because the actor performs for an hour straight, remembering all the lines without any cues from other actors to follow. But the other thing that impressed me about the play was the actor’s portrayal of a typical girl called Braidie. Braidie isn’t the victim in the story, and Braidie isn’t the … Read more »
Romans 12:9-21 Matthew 16:21-28 As I told the children this morning, today’s text from the Gospel of Matthew reminded me of the difficult reality that our faith in God and in Jesus Christ our Lord calls us not only to good things, but to hard things. When Christian churches are reaching out, inviting new people into the family of God, that isn’t normally a big part of the message. We’ve all seen the messages that churches try to put out there in the community at large – on our church signs, on our websites, on the flyers that are dropped in mail boxes. They say, “Everyone is welcome!” They say, “Come and experience new life in Christ!” They say, “Come and worship with friendly Presbyterians.” I’ve absolutely never seen any church advertising that said: “You’re most welcome to come and suffer with us!” I’m sure that I would have remembered a message like that. And I might have wondered if they were talking about suffering through the Sunday sermons! No, when we tell others about our church, when we tell others about our faith, we tend to focus on the positives – on the good things that we have experienced in the community of faith and on the journey with Jesus. We talk about the encouragement and hope that we gain from the scriptures and from the spiritual songs and hymns that we sing. We talk about the support that we experience from our sisters and brothers in the church … Read more »
Exodus 3:1-15Romans 12:9-21Matthew 16:21-28 The concept of being called by God or called by God in Jesus Christ is one that runs all the way through the Hebrew and Greek scriptures — our bible. God called Abram to leave his family and his country, and to go to a new land where God would make him and his descendants into a blessing to the world. God called the boy Samuel to be a prophet to the people. God called him to speak words of judgement against those who were not living in God’s ways so that they would turn and follow God. Another prophet, Isaiah, explained that God called him even before he was born. He believed that his whole identity and nature was to be one who gathered Israel back to their God. That was his call. Jeremiah too was a prophet appointed by God to speak God’s words. When God called him, Jeremiah said, “O God, I don’t know how to speak! I’m only a boy!” But God said, “Do not be afraid, because I am with you.” In the Greek scriptures, God’s call was heard in the voice of Jesus.Peter and Andrew heard, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” People in a crowd heard, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” And folks in the marketplace heard, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.” Some heard the call to go on a mission. They … Read more »