March 19, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Philippians 3:10-17 Psalm 1 Luke 2:42-52 “Intentional Faith Development” I had the privilege this weekend, of being able to sit in on a number of Camp Christopher interviews for counsellors for this summer. We interviewed quite a few young people from Saskatoon, a couple by Skype from Prince Albert, and there are still a few more interviews to do in Regina. And I found it most interesting to listen to them answer questions like, “Why do you want to work at a Christian camp like Camp Christopher?” and “What is the most important message about God that every camper should leave with?” and “What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the summer?” It was wonderful to hear about their love for children, their enthusiasm about spending the summer outdoors, and their excitement about the friendships they will develop at camp. But what struck me most was when they talked about “wanting to grow in faith” at camp. There was one young man who particularly impressed me in his interview. He talked about going to church was he was a kid. His grandparents used to take him every Sunday, and he loved it. But when he was eleven, his parents decided that they didn’t believe in God, and they put a stop to his church attendance. So, after that, attending Christian camps in the summer became his only opportunity to hear Bible stories, and experience worship, and learn to pray… until recently. And … Read more »

March 13, 2016

Philippians 3:4b-14 “Striving for Christ” How are you doing with your life? Would you say that you have achieved your goals? Would you say that you have been successful? Do you have the life you hoped for? The career you strived for? The status you reached for? The family you worked for? Have you made the contributions that you wanted to make to the church, the community, and the world? However you may answer those questions… whether you are feeling good about your accomplishments, or whether you are discouraged by challenges and setbacks, I want to invite you today to consider what is truly valuable in your life. What are you striving for? What are your goals? And do they match up with what God wants for your life? A little over a year ago, we had a visit from the Moderator of the 140th General Assembly of our Presbyterian Church in Canada, and at the evening service here at St. Andrew’s, Stephen Farris preached on today’s text from Philippians. Whenever I read this text again, I’ll likely remember Stephen dramatically walking back and forth at the front of the church, just a few steps in each direction, demonstrating the small space Paul would have been living in when he wrote his letter to the Church at Philippi. Paul was in prison. He’d lost everything, and his life was in danger. Just think, Paul used to be free. He used to be an important person – a person with status … Read more »

March 17, 2013

Philippians 3:4b-14 John 12:1-8 “Costly Love” You know, the choir has been practicing for weeks now for this special anthem for Easter Sunday. We’ve still got a couple more practices on it, and many of us are practicing our parts at home too. When Easter Sunday comes, it’ll take us about three minutes to sing it and then it will be over. What a waste! And what do you think about those grandmothers… the ones who spend all day shopping, and preparing, and cooking a fabulous meal for their kids and grandkids? Everyone shows up to the house at 5:30 on Sunday evening, and by 6:30 it’s all gone. Not a scrap left when the grandsons get up from the table. What a waste! Or think about all the planning and expense that goes towards sending a youth group on a mission trip… the fundraising, the organizing, the preparing, the packing. All that work, all that effort… and five days or ten days or two weeks later it’s all over and they’re back home again. What a waste! And then there’s Mary of Bethany… working, and saving, choosing the perfume and buying it with practically a year’s worth of wages. Yes, she could have used that money to help the poor instead. She could have bought an awful lot of bread with 300 denarii. But instead she “took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled … Read more »

February 24, 2013

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 “Take Courage!” What does it take to be a Christian? Some might say that Christians need to be loving and kind. Some might say that Christians need to be open and friendly. Some might say that Christians just need to have the faith to believe. But our scripture passages today suggest that the most important characteristic of a Christian is courage. When God is speaking to his people in the Bible, it’s not unusual for God’s introductory words to be “Be not afraid.” I suppose that standing face to face with God, or even just hearing God’s voice speaking to you directly was perhaps a rather scary experience. But I think that, more generally, God was often calling his people to do some rather risky and scary stuff. They had good reason to be feeling nervous or afraid. In the case of Abram, whom we read about this morning, God has led him away from his homeland and sent him on a journey towards a new place to found a new nation. God has promised him good land, and many descendants, and God’s own blessing. But at this point in the story, Abram is starting to get worried. He hasn’t even had a child yet, let alone a son to continue his family line. And why should Abram believe that the land that he had come to would be his? Others might come and try to take it from him. Without … Read more »

October 2, 2011

Philippians 3:4b-14 Matthew 21:33-46 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. I wonder if you have ever felt like that when you heard one of Jesus’ stories of parables. I wonder if you have ever read something in the scriptures and thought, “That was written for me!” Or if you have ever listened to a sermon, and wondered if the preacher was addressing you specifically. Well, when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, and when they realized that he was speaking about them, they weren’t very pleased. Though the crowds thought that Jesus was something special, the religious leaders had concluded that Jesus was a problem – telling stories that cast them in a negative role – and they wanted to arrest them. You see, when the religious leaders of Jesus’ time heard today’s parable, they must have quickly figured out that it was an allegory. It wasn’t a story about an actual historical landowner who leased out his land to some bad tenants and had to deal with the consequences. It was an allegory – a made-up story in which the characters and plot lines represent actual people and things that are happening in the world. Listen to the parable again, and consider… where might the religious leaders of Jesus’ day have seen themselves in Jesus’ parable? There was a landowner who planted vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, … Read more »

March 21, 2010

Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3:4b-14 John 12:2-8 The St. Andrew’s choir, under Gill’s direction, is practicing one of my favourite anthems to share during the Good Friday service in a couple of weeks. I’ve been carrying both the melody and the words of the song around in my head recently. It goes like this: Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down.Here I am to say that you’re my God. You’re altogether lovely,altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. Although Mary of Bethany didn’t sing a song to Jesus, and she didn’t express her feelings in words, I imagine that she would have been able to relate to that expression of praise. While Martha showed her devotion to Jesus by serving him a beautiful meal, and Lazarus expressed his commitment by sitting at the table and listening to Jesus, Mary decided to demonstrate her love with an extravagant act of giving, with the intimate act of anointing. “She took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” I guess I can understand Judas’ objection to what Mary did. Whether or not he had ulterior motives, he had a good point to make – that the perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor. A denarius was approximately the daily wage for an average worker in Jesus’ time. So we’re … Read more »

February 28, 2010

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 When I began to read and reflect on today’s scripture texts early in the week, the theme that sprang to mind for me was “heaven”. I read the line from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “our citizenship is in heaven” and I remembered that twice in the last year, members of the congregation have specifically asked me to preach about heaven. I remember thinking at the time that I don’t know anything about heaven. What could I possibly say about heaven that would not be a product of my own imagination or someone’s wishful thinking about what the afterlife will be like? As much as I believe in life after death, and that God has something special prepared for us after our lives in this world are over, I don’t feel like I know anything concrete about heaven. And when I was asked, I couldn’t really imagine what I would say in a sermon on heaven. Of course, many of you have heard me mention heaven from this pulpit before… but most often, the context for my mentioning it has been within a funeral sermon. Whenever I preach for a funeral, I check to see if the person who died had selected scripture texts for the service, and I preach on those texts. And if not, I invite the family to select their favourite passages or texts from the bible that they would like to include in the service. Many of … Read more »