January 31, 2021

Daniel 12:1-3
Psalm 16
Matthew 5:13-16

“Shine Like A Star”

Adapted from the 2018 “Legacy Sunday” sermon by Lori Guenther Reesor and Karen Plater, with inspiration from the Rev. Herb Gale.

Take a moment and picture a star. Imagine it, see it shining in the sky. Now imagine a dark sky filled with stars – in the middle of a field, in the middle of the countryside, the dark sky illuminated with a multitude of stars so often blotted out by city lights. You see many stars – but there are so many that your eyes can’t even take them all in.   Keep this image in your mind.

Stars are a common metaphor in the Bible. The most famous star, of course, was the star that led the Magi to Jesus. But years and years before that, a man named Abram was praying in his tent. Unable to go back to sleep after waking from a vivid dream, he complained to God that he and his beloved wife Sarai were childless even though God had promised them an heir.

In response, God took Abram outside into the dark night and said, “Look up towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” … Read more »

November 1, 2020

Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed Are You”

What are sermons for? That’s a good question for preachers to ask ourselves once in a while, and a good question for those who listen as well. One good answer is that sermons aim to open up, explain, and interpret the Scriptures for our community today – helping Christians to be attentive to what God might say to us. But very often, both preachers and listeners default to looking in the Bible just for what God wants us to do or how Jesus teaches us to live.

In recent weeks, the topic of commandments has come up a few times. And whether it’s the Big Ten from the laws of Moses or the greatest commandments that Jesus identifies, we get focussed (especially when teaching our children or grandchildren) on what we must do. What must we do to have a good life? What must we do to be saved? What must we do to gain God’s blessing?

One commentary explains that “In the biggest picture, theistic religion – both in the ancient world and in our own – is often centrally concerned with blessing: how to get it, how to keep it, what to do in order to inherit … Read more »

February 9, 2020

Isaiah 58:1-12
Matthew 5:13-20

“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 »

February 19, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Matthew 5:38-48

“We will be holy”

God says “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And as I read, and re-read, and reflected on these words this week, I became very aware of how unholy and imperfect I am.

I was having one of those days… the kind of day when nothing seems to be going well, when work is a struggle, and everyone is getting on my nerves. My biggest problem, I was sure, was not my problem. It was everyone else around me who was at fault… from the bad drivers on the road in the morning, to the news reporters with their poor grammar in the evening. And during the daytime, none of the people with whom I had to meet and interact were living up to my expectations at all, and I was frustrated beyond belief.

Some of the worst religious people, I think, are the ones who live a certain way because of their faith… maybe they don’t drink, or they don’t swear, or they don’t live together before they’re married, or maybe they don’t … Read more »

February 5, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie

Isaiah 58:1-9a
Matthew 5:13-20

“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 »

October 30, 2016 – “Being the Church: Creating Safe Space”

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie

Matthew 5:13-14, 21-22, 43-47; 7:1-5
John 14:25-27

“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 »

February 23, 2014

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Matthew 5:38-48

“We Will Be Holy”

God says “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And as I read, and re-read, and reflected on these words this week, I became very aware of how unholy and imperfect I am.

I was having one of those days… the kind of day when nothing seems to be going well, when work is a struggle, and everyone is getting on my nerves. My biggest problem, I was sure, was not my problem. It was everyone else around me who was at fault… from the bad drivers on the road in the morning, to the Olympic commentators with their poor grammar in the evening. And during the daytime, none of the people with whom I had to meet and interact were living up to my expectations at all, and I was frustrated beyond belief.

Some of the worst religious people, I think, are the ones who live a certain way because of their faith… maybe they don’t drink, or they don’t swear, or they don’t live together before they’re married, or maybe they don’t drive … Read more »

February 9, 2014

Matthew 5:13-20
Isaiah 58:1-12

“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 »

February 2, 2014

Matthew 5:1-12

“Receive God’s Blessing”

When someone says that you’re getting “preachy” they usually don’t mean it as a compliment. They probably mean that you’re telling them what to do or what to think. They might mean that you’re moralizing or laying on a guilt trip to get them to do what you believe is right. Preaching is not generally thought of as particularly positive, and sermons are assumed to be long and boring at best, and guilt-inducing lists of things you should be doing at worst.

But out of habit, or determination, or perhaps an alternate vision of what preaching can be, here you are again this Sunday morning to listen to yet another sermon. And today you don’t just get a sermon from me, but you get at least a portion of a sermon from Jesus himself. Traditionally known as the Sermon on the Mount, today’s Gospel passage from Matthew is the first twelve verses of something Jesus preached to a crowd of followers in the early part of his ministry.

Now, there’s an interesting thing that happens in the Gospel of Matthew, a version of the story of Jesus that was written primarily for … Read more »

February 13, 2011

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Matthew 5:21-37

Can you think of a sermon that changed your life? Can you remember a speech that transformed the way you think or feel about life, about faith, about God? Maybe you can think of a sermon preached from this very pulpit by one of our previous ministers. Maybe you are remembering a speech by a political figure, by a leader in human rights and justice, or by a major religious leader.

I remember a lecture given by one of my favourite preachers, Barbara Brown Taylor. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I remember the way I felt as I listened to her. I remember the way her words made sense to me, and how I suddenly understood my own calling to be a preacher in a new and deeper way.

When rightly used and directed, a skilfully prepared and delivered speech can take on a life-transforming importance. And even if we can’t recall the exact words that affected us so deeply, few people can claim that they have never been so deeply moved by a powerful speech or sermon that they have changed the direction of their lives.

Although it is encouraging and inspiring to think that my own … Read more »

February 6, 2011

Isaiah 58:1-12
Matthew 5:13-10

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 »