Many of you know that I spent much of this week in Ontario. In my role as Moderator of the last General Assembly of our church, I get to travel quite a bit – often preaching in different churches or speaking about ecumenism and interchurch families, since I chose that as my focus for the year.
But this week was a bit different. I attended two retreats. First, a gathering of Presbyterian women clergy at Crieff Hills Community, our church’s retreat centre near Guelph Ontario. And then, a gathering of national level church leaders from various churches, organized by the Canadian Council of Churches at the Guest House of the Sisters of St. John the Divine, an Anglican convent in Toronto.
Although the two retreats were designed to meet the needs of a different group of people, they had in common the fact that their purposes were to give ministry leaders time away to connect, to share, to pray, to rest, and to support one another as colleagues in ministry. If it wasn’t for the late nights and the travel, I might well have returned home well-rested and renewed for the busy weeks ahead!
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 … Read more »
The following sermon was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie at an ecumenical service held at Resurrection Roman Catholic Parish in Regina. The service was organized by the Regina Council of Churches as the closing worship for the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme and key Scripture texts were chosen by the Churches of Indonesia who prepared the WPCU resources for 2019.
The theme chosen by the Christian Churches of Indonesia for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” But the first thing I noticed about the theme text from Deuteronomy is that it doesn’t ONLY focus on justice, but also includes a long section about worship.
The whole passage is a section of the Deuteronomic Law Code, an expansion of the ten commandments given to Moses and the Hebrew People at Sinai – a detailed plan for how the people will live as God’s People in the land that God is giving them.
Summarized down to its fundamental principles, the Law Code calls them to love and worship God, and to love and seek justice for their neighbours. This is the vision of God for the people, and … Read more »
The overarching theme in most of this morning’s scripture readings is the scriptures themselves. In particular, it is the question of how we use and interpret the scriptures.
The psalmist begins by making it clear that the scriptures are of utmost importance for God’s people. Of course, from the psalmist’s perspective, at least 500 to maybe 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, the scriptures consisted of the Law of Moses, perhaps as gathered together into the Torah — the rough equivalent of the first five books of our Bibles today.
The psalmist declares that the Law of the Lord is perfect. God’s decrees and precepts and ordinances are sure, and right, and true altogether. He thinks very highly of these texts and speaks of them with utmost respect and admiration and praise. And it’s not only that God’s commandments are true and right from the perspective of a wise and powerful God. The psalmist is arguing that they are actually useful for those who might read and pay attention to them.
God’s laws revive the soul, the psalmist claims. God’s decrees make the reader wise. Paying attention to God’s precepts and commandments brings … Read more »
This sermon was preached at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina on the occasion of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Audio recording available here.
Thank you for the invitation to worship with you here at St. Paul’s, and to reflect on God’s word to us today. I have been the minister at First Presbyterian Church for the last 6 months, and I have appreciated the welcome and connection with other downtown clergy, including Mike, since arriving in Regina. I am honoured to be with your community as you celebrate the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
As an ecumenist, I love the fact that this is also the day when you welcome the delegation from Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Cathedral for your Week of Prayer for Christian Unity exchange. And I hope that they won’t be disappointed to be hearing from a Presbyterian rather than an Anglican.
Given the special theme of this day, and the first reading from the Book of Acts, I would like to reflect on “conversion” today. Perhaps only a small number of us have a dramatic story of conversion like the Apostle Paul. He started off persecuting … Read more »
“I thank God that I baptized none of you…” Can you imagine our church receiving a letter like that from one of our past leaders? Can you imagine Dr. Davidson (if he was still alive) or Jim McKay or Annabelle Wallace writing to us at St. Andrew’s with that kind of message? “I’ve heard that the church is full of conflict and cliques these days. The rumours about this trouble have made it all the way back to me, and I’m really disappointed. I hear that some of you are even associating yourselves with different leaders, both present ones and past. And I was absolutely shocked to hear that some of you are suggesting that I come back to St. Andrew’s because you like my way of doing things best.
“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not going to happen! And I thank God that I baptized none of you… Well, I did baptize a few of you and your children, but I can hardly remember which ones. And it really doesn’t matter who I baptized, or who I prepared for membership, or who I worked with on Session … Read more »
This reflection was shared by the Rev. Amanda Currie at an ecumenical worship service at Calvin-Goforth Presbyterian Church in Saskatoon.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2014
Reflection for Day One: “Together, we are called to be saints.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is the eleventh one that I’ve celebrated here in Saskatoon with all the 7am services. And I don’t know how it happens, but I believe this is the third time that I’ve been stuck with leading worship at 7am on the Monday. Three times! And Monday is supposed to be my day to sleep in!
But I didn’t realize until just the other day that Monday morning this year is the perfect day for me to get a few words in as we begin the pilgrimage of 7am services (and other services at more reasonable hours). You see, I had the privilege of being involved in the development of the prayer resources this year, and in particular, I worked on the eight days of material that we will be using for our prayer times all through the week.
If you didn’t already pick up a copy of the little booklets we produced for this week, … Read more »
The theme that stands out most strongly in this morning’s scripture readings is evangelism – the missionary call to tell others the good news of God in Jesus Christ. From the Gospel of John, we heard about John the Baptist spreading the news about Jesus, and different people hearing, turning to follow, and becoming disciples. “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” said John, pointing to Jesus. And they did. They looked. They listened. And they followed Jesus with their lives.
From Isaiah we heard an articulation of the mission of God’s People, Israel, a mission that Christians, as God’s people also share: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” In other words, our purpose is not to get focused on ourselves, on caring for, teaching, and directing those in our own group about following God. Certainly, that is important. But we can’t get stuck there. Isaiah says, “it’s too light … Read more »
If you looked at the back of your bulletin this morning, you may have noticed that today is “Reformation Sunday.” The Rev. Jeffrey Murray provides a reflection on justification by faith that seems appropriate both for an acknowledgement of “Reformation Sunday” and an insight into this morning’s Gospel text. Referencing the 16th century Reformer, Martin Luther, Murray concludes that while doing the works that our faith demands of us is important, justification is not attained by anything we say or do; it is a gift that moves us to respond humbly.
Just think of the two characters in Jesus’ parable – the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee really was an excellent religious person. He observed all the rules, fasted and prayed, and gave generously from his income. The story doesn’t indicate that he was lying about doing these things, or that he needed to do more. He was doing good things because he was a good person, and that was good.
The tax collector, on the other hand, had not been doing good things. He freely admits that he is a sinner, and we can imagine that he was greedy and dishonest and demanding, as was the … Read more »
On Friday evening I attended the Ecumenical Jazz Service at St. Francis Xavier Parish. It was one of the special services planned for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity here in Saskatoon. It was a lovely service, with musical leadership provided by an excellent jazz trio of piano, double bass, and drums. Under the leadership of Pastor David Hunter from Augustana Lutheran Church, the Churches of the Broadway-Nutana area worked together to lead the worship.
Before the Gospel reading, the congregation was invited to stand and sing a jazzy Alleluia in preparation for hearing the Gospel proclaimed. But when the song ended, the congregation waited, and no one stepped forward to do the reading. Something had fallen through the cracks in the planning, and there was no one ready to read. Realizing what had happened, David scrambled to solve the problem. And after glancing around, he asked the question of us all, “Does anyone have a Bible?”
The Catholic Parish in which we were worshipping only had hymn books and prayer books in the pews and David didn’t have one on hand either. As I was just realizing that I could access the … Read more »
I’ve been looking forward to this week with great anticipation. Some people count down the days until Christmas. Some people count down the days until their birthdays. But I’ve been counting down the days until the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and I am so pleased that it has finally arrived once again.
It’s a typical third week of January in Saskatchewan, bitterly cold outside. But inside the churches of Saskatoon there is a great warmth, not only because the furnaces and boilers are working overtime, but because Christians of all backgrounds and denominations are gathering to pray, to sing, to share food and fellowship, and to celebrate together as one family of God.
Some of you come from large families and know what it’s like to go to a big family reunion. Family reunions can be great celebrations, and they can be tricky to plan. As the family has grown, people have moved in different directions. They’ve spread out across the country or even the world. They’ve left behind some family traditions and created new ones. They’ve joined together with other families and blended cultures and ways of life.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
A sermon preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie and Nicholas Jesson at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Saskatoon and St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Humboldt on January 29, 2012.
In the introduction to the ecumenical service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year, the Polish authors of the material emphasize the theme of transformation. Using the main biblical text from 1 Corinthians 15, they speak boldly and hopefully about the transformation that awaits us when our lives in this world come to an end.
With the foundational conviction that Christ was raised from death to life forevermore with God, the Apostle Paul proclaims the good news that precisely because Christ is raised, those who love him and follow him will also be raised. We too will be transformed from death to life, not because of our own goodness or power, but because of the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery!” Paul explains it, “We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, … Read more »
The following sermon was preached at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Parish in Saskatoon. The occasion was an Ecumenical Sunday to mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Before I begin, I would like to say thank you to all of you for welcoming me this morning, and thank you to Father Tony for inviting me to share my reflections on the scriptures with you. As we begin this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it is good for us to worship, to pray, and to share across denominational lines, as we seek to grow together in unity and peace.
As Tony mentioned, I am the minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, just down 20th Street at Spadina Crescent. I am pleased to see that there are a few members of my congregation here at St. Mary’s this morning, and I would encourage the members of St. Mary’s Parish, that you are most welcome to worship with us at St. Andrew’s later this morning at 11 a.m. If you decide to join us, you will get to hear Father Tony preaching, as well as to experience worship in the Reformed Tradition, just as we are sharing … Read more »
The following sermon was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie at Nutana Park Mennonite Church on the fourth Wednesday in Lent, 2009. It was part of a series of ecumenical worship services in the Nutana neighbourhood. Each service focused on a daily theme from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2009. This day’s theme was from Day 4: “Christians face to face with ecological crisis”.
Genesis 1:31 – 2:3
I was at an ecumenical gathering on Monday evening, and we were talking about the renewal of the churches’ liturgy over the last 50 years or so. The question was asked, “What has changed in your church’s worship over the last 50 years?” Of course, there were lots of things that had changed. For some it was Latin to English. For others it was more frequent communion. For many it was the regular use of a common lectionary.
But one person answered by saying that we don’t hear so much preaching about SIN anymore. You know, the kind of “Watch out! You’re going to hell if you don’t change your ways” kind of preaching that was heard from many Presbyterian and other pulpits not so many years ago.
The following sermon was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie at St. Andrew’s for the World Day of Prayer worship service on Friday, March 6th, 2009. The service for the downtown churches of Saskatoon was hosted by St. Andrew’s and organized by Adela MacDonald and Helen Foss, in cooperation with women from seven neighbourhood churches. The liturgy was prepared and adapted by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada.
The earliest Christian church, described in the book of Acts, sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? “Those who believed were of one heart and soul…” Doesn’t that sound lovely when you think about the disagreements and conflicts in our churches today? “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Doesn’t that kind of preaching sound inspiring? “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned land or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.” Wow! Not a needy person among them — no one left out — because they all committed … Read more »
The following sermon was preached on Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. at McClure United Church in Saskatoon. The occasion was the concluding service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Organized by the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Christians from many churches throughout the city of Saskatoon gathered to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the calling of the Second Vatican Council and 50 years of ecumenical ministry by Father Bernard de Margerie. The service also included a covenant signing by the sponsoring churches of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism. Audio recordings of the sermon and other parts of the service are available.
The theme and scriptures and reflections for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were prepared for Christians throughout the world by the churches of Korea. And it’s interesting that Saskatoon has ended up with a Presbyterian minister preaching at the concluding worship because Korea has lots and lots of Presbyterians.
Christianity is strong and growing in South Korea, and there are more Protestants than Catholics there, and more Presbyterians than any other Protestant denomination. That’s a … Read more »
A sermon on the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, given on the concluding Sunday of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 I Corinthians 7: 29-31 Mark 1: 14-20
I am not a preacher! I think that I am more comfortable when Amanda stands up here. And by the time I’m finished, maybe you will be too. Preaching is not my natural gift. I teach. I lead my students through their studies, and help them with their questions. But I don’t normally stand at the front of a worshipping congregation to preach the Word of God. I’m much more comfortable with my own words.
But today, I’m preaching because it is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is a special Week in the Christian year for me and for Amanda, because we are what has come to be called an “interchurch couple.” We share together in each other’s churches. Perhaps some of you do not know this already. I am Roman Catholic. Amanda and I met when she was at seminary, and I was beginning my graduate work in ecumenical theology. We share together in an ecumenical vocation.
The following sermon was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Saskatoon, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January 2008. St. Andrew’s hosted an ecumenical worship service on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 7 a.m. The Prairie Centre for Ecumenism coordinates a wonderful schedule of ecumenical prayer and worship in Saskatoon each year, and we were pleased to take part by hosting one of the services. Our worship reflected on the readings for Day 4 of the Week of Prayer, and on the theme “Pray always for justice.”
This morning’s reading from Exodus is one of the scripture texts assigned for day four of the Week of Prayer. It is the familiar story of Moses speaking with God at the burning bush. When I’ve preached on this text in the past, my focus has been on the experience of God’s call. God speaks to us in a variety of ways — not usually as dramatically as through a burning bush that’s not being burned up! — but God does speak to us in scripture, through people in our lives, by the Holy Spirit, and as we carefully listen to God in prayer.
A sermon preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service hosted by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Tuesday morning, January 27, 2005 at 7 a.m.
One of the things that happens during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and other times when we gather together as Christian churches to pray and worship God together, is that we learn about one another. And it very often means that we’re learning what is different about other churches than our own. The different hymns we sing, or the praise choruses. The kind of prayers we say. What our worship spaces look like, crosses displayed, pews or chairs, straight rows or circles, stained glass, high pulpits, liturgical colours, powerpoint projectors, prominent altars or communion tables. Do we stand to pray, sit to sing, kneel or raise our hands? Add to all of these differences and more, the theological distinctions that you may notice as you visit churches from traditions different from your own.
Those of you who have been attending these services for many years in Saskatoon have probably already encountered the range of differences that once surprised, shocked, or confused you. You may not be completely comfortable in … Read more »
The following reflection was shared by the Rev. Amanda Currie at an ecumenical noon hour service hosted by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Saskatoon during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2004.
Hospitality is one of the things that many Christian churches pride themselves on. Presbyterians, at least, joke all the time that we can’t get together without having something to eat. Here at St. Andrew’s, the kitchen is one of the busiest places because whenever we get together we share food…. Tea, coffee, cookies or squares, little sandwiches, pots of soup, or pizza. Whatever the occasion, there’s some appropriate food or drink to go along with it.
And there are some among us in our congregation, (and in yours, I’m sure) for whom the ministry of hospitality is their greatest gift to the community. They welcome the visitors and the newcomers. They pour the tea, and make sure there are enough cookies. And they take care of the endless, behind the scenes, tasks that keep the church kitchen clean, stocked, and ready for company.
Today’s reading from Luke is sometimes difficult for those of us whose gift is hospitality… Those of us who slide out … Read more »