“Giving Thanks in Ordinary Times”
I did something a little unusual with the scripture readings this morning. As most of you know, we often follow the Revised Common Lectionary’s 3-year cycle of readings for Sundays. But today we had a choice of readings. Today I could have chosen the readings for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, or I could have chosen the special readings for Thanksgiving Sunday.
But instead of choosing one set or the other, I mixed them up a little. I chose Philippians 4 from the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, and matched it up with two of the readings for Thanksgiving – Deuteronomy 8 about being sure not to forget God when things are good, and Luke 17 about the ten lepers getting healed and the one who goes back to say thank you to Jesus.
The Deuteronomy reading makes a lot of sense for Thanksgiving Sunday. The message is: “When everything is wonderful in your life, when you’ve got everything you need, when you sit down to a wonderful meal of turkey and potatoes and vegetables and pie, surrounded by good friends and dear family, don’t forget about God…
“When the harvest is plentiful, when you move into … Read more »
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 … Read more »
“The Fruit of the Spirit is PEACE”
This week in St. Catharines Ontario, over 400 young Presbyterians gathered to learn, play, and worship together at the Canada Youth 2016 conference.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, about 300 people were killed when a large car bomb exploded in a busy market. In the U.S., two black men were shot and killed by police for no good reason, and five police officers were killed and others injured by snipers in retaliation. In Bangladesh there was yet another terrorist attack, with people throwing homemade bombs at police who were standing guard outside a prayer service marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And when I looked online at a listing of violent incidents and attacks this month alone, it went on and on and on.
You might assume that the Presbyterian youth would go on with their program, likely unaware or at least unaffected by such terrible incidents so far away. But in fact, part of the CY program included learning about and responding to the world refugee crisis – the crisis caused by unrelenting violence against civilian communities and families.
And when they gathered for worship, they prayed sincerely and intensely … Read more »
“Free to Take Hold of Life”
Thanksgiving weekend was more than a month ago, and we are beginning to think about and anticipate Advent and Christmas. But our American friends are just getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this week. It is an interesting recapitulation that today’s Gospel passage is the same one that we read and studied on our Thanksgiving Sunday, just as our neighbours are coming to their Thanksgiving.
Jesus invites us to set our worries aside, and to think about today instead of fretting about tomorrow. On Thanksgiving Sunday, I suggested that thankfulness might be the opposite of worry, and I encouraged us to let our hearts be filled to overflowing with gratitude so there could be no room for anxious worrying.
But just a couple of weeks after I preached that sermon, I found that some of our Board and Session members were indeed worrying. They were worrying about our church finances, and worrying that if we didn’t do something to change our course, we might end the year with another deficit that could cause us some significant problems for the future.
Now, you might assume that the reason for this month’s Stewardship-themed services is a desperate attempt … Read more »
“Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!”
This is the first sermon I’ve written in a long time without my cat, Samuel, snuggling up beside me on the couch or trying to crawl on top of the lap-top while I’m trying to type. Unfortunately, Sammy got suddenly very sick last weekend. He stopped eating and drinking, and by Monday afternoon we knew it was some form of cancer. On Monday evening, we made the very difficult decision to euthanize him rather than putting him through the discomfort of treatments that might have given him a few more months at most.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, it was really hard to start telling people what had happened, and I found myself in tears again and again when I attempted to share my sad news. But at some point on Wednesday, I was about to make my way back upstairs to my office, and I said, “I need to go start working on worship for Thanksgiving Sunday. I’m not feeling very thankful yet, but maybe by Sunday I’ll be more in a Thanksgiving mood.”
And Karen said, “Aren’t you thankful that all this didn’t happen on Saturday evening instead Monday?” I said, “Yes, that’s for … Read more »
Luke 17: 11-19
I did something a little unusual with the scripture readings this morning. As most of you know, we often follow the Revised Common Lectionary’s 3-year cycle of readings for Sundays. But today we had a choice of readings. (Look on the back of your bulletins… at the two sets of readings…) Today I could have chosen the readings for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, or I could have chosen the special readings for Thanksgiving Sunday.
But instead of choosing one set or the other, I mixed them up a little. I chose Philippians 4 from the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, and matched it up with two of the readings for Thanksgiving – Deuteronomy 8 about being sure not to forget God when things are good, and Luke 17 about the ten lepers getting healed and the one who goes back to say thank you to Jesus.
The Deuteronomy reading makes a lot of sense for Thanksgiving Sunday. The message is: “When everything is wonderful in your life, when you’ve got everything you need, when you sit down to a wonderful meal of turkey and potatoes and vegetables and pie, surrounded by good friends and dear family, don’t forget … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
The message of the prophets on this third Sunday in Advent is about the joy of salvation. Like Israel before us, we have a reason to rejoice, because God has decided not to hold us accountable for our sins and failings, but to demonstrate grace and offer us forgiveness. As the prophet Zephaniah wrote to the people of Israel, “The LORD has taken away the judgments against you.” We are called to rejoice and exult with all our hearts. We are invited to draw spiritual water from the wells of salvation, and to do so with joy and thanksgiving.
This is, of course, a message that is not reserved for Advent or Christmas. We are reminded of God’s grace and forgiveness over and over in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and Sunday after Sunday, we hear the assurance of God’s abiding love and grace for us, God’s own wandering children.
But the message of grace in today’s scriptures comes hand in hand with a challenge. The prophet John is preaching about the One coming into the world from God. He is calling the people to prepare the way … Read more »