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  • Are we afraid of Jesus?
    afraid that Jesus knows us better than we want to be known by anyone else If there is some part of our faith or his teaching we really don t understand we may be fearful Jesus will find us out He just knows too much As I kept reflecting on people who ve intimidated me a bit over the years I also recognized a collection of dear friends and colleagues who have been such shining examples of goodness and generosity of wisdom and kindness that they ve sometimes left me feeling utterly inadequate fearful I could never measure up to their example I think of a colleague in Vancouver who kept her pocket full of change to give to anyone on the street who begged her for help She regularly volunteered in the Downtown Eastside the poorest neighbourhood in Canada and she d seen such poverty there she decided she d give whatever she could to whomever asked Who am I to judge she d say I could always hear Jesus words echoing in hers even as I averted my gaze from outstretched hands in my own trendy Vancouver neighbourhood My dear old friend Elizabeth simply intimidated me with her goodness I also recall my mentor in education a man so wise he could size up students or professors in a single conversation and ask you the very question you needed to answer but you d been avoiding A little like Jesus asking the lame man Do you want to be healed Now Jim would be the last person to think himself intimidating yet the depth of his wisdom made me recognize how much I still had to learn about the human heart Perhaps Jesus can be intimidating too when we contemplate his goodness his mercy his unfailing kindness to people who made others frown in disgust the sick the desperate those judged unclean And if we find ourselves judged by Jesus goodness we may be a little afraid he ll find us lacking when we can t muster some generosity for the needy or spare a moment for an anxious friend If we ve ever avoided thinking through our resistance to the Gospel call to show mercy and loving kindness we may fear we lack the faith required to keep following Jesus And then this close to the events of Easter surely we find ourselves still contemplating Jesus cross all the betrayal the humiliation the pain he faced The example of Jesus suffering and his bravery to remain steadfast may also make us fearful Is this what will be required of us Surely not Yet I remember the brave examples of Christian friends like my student from Vancouver who went to Hebron in Israel with a Christian Peacemaker team to accompany Palestinians in their everyday lives and confront the daily threats they face from Israeli soldiers She stared down the barrel of more than one gun in the six months she lived there I am much too afraid of

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive/386-are-we-afraid-of-jesus (2016-02-13)
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  • Psalm 23: Act II
    still This time of year they bounced uphill and down They d jump into the little stream that ran through our land and get stuck Occasionally they had to be pulled out of the water because they couldn t free themselves We re a bit like that too so caught up in whatever attracts us that before we know it we re stuck unable to free ourselves from commitments unless someone steps in Sheep don t join committees and take on responsibilities here there and everywhere but we do and then the restorative goodness of those still waters is lost We need the Shepherd to pull us out of our busy lives to get us back on track And it s those tracks of righteousness which complete Act I of this Psalm courtesy of the Good Shepherd In John s Gospel we hear about the wolf stalking the flock and the hired hand who runs away in the face of danger Only the Good Shepherd keeps us safe Thus the psalm pictures the shepherd leading us through dark threatening valleys along what one commentator translates as righteous ruts tracks of faithfulness we can follow to get us through any danger On Iona when we led the weekly pilgrimage over the island we followed well worn sheep tracks through the heather and bracken paths which kept us from falling in the bogs and got us from pasture to pasture without losing our way As I recalled that experience I realized how important it is for people of the Good Shepherd to learn from generation to generation how to identify the righteous ruts those practiced paths of faithfulness others made before us so we aren t attracted off course by every new amusement that pops up in the landscape of our generation Green pastures still waters practiced paths the Good shepherd s flock still needs these today as much as we did three thousand years ago And so the 23 rd psalm maintains its deep appeal We still want the protection of the Shepherd s rod and staff when we navigate untried paths We still rely on the wisdom of the Shepherd to bring us through the dark valleys of life We still want to declare I fear no evil for Thou art with me and mean it But now the psalm moves on to Act II A few years ago a colleague pointed out to me that in the final verses of Psalm 23 the characters change The Shepherd is gone In Act II God is now our host or hostess as the case may be Hospitality was more fully the responsibility of women in the ancient culture of shepherds and kings In Act II God our host ess prepares a table for us inviting us in from those rugged righteous paths we ve been following across the desert or the heather or the prairie Come in Sit down Let me soothe your brow with oil A servant anoints the guest

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive/387-psalm-23-act-ii (2016-02-13)
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  • Camping Out in God's World
    to hop around the pond Fergie I ll hop four times around the pond tomorrow Narrator But that next morning Fergie had a sore foot Fergie moaning I can t hop today Tomorrow I ll swim for sure I promise Narrator And then camp was almost over Race day had arrived Fergie joined Roger and Hoppy and Diver at the pond Roger Fergie shouting Let s go team Narrator Hoppy swam first He kept up with the other teams all the way across the pond He was a nose ahead of the next frog when he finished Then Diver made a beautiful dive and came up kicking Fergie shouting Look at him go Narrator But another frog had very strong legs He beat Diver to the shore Fergie yelling You can catch up Roger You re the best Narrator Roger took a big breath and jumped over Diver He swam under water as fast as he could Roger was a nose ahead when he up for air on the far side of the pond Fergie He s winning He s winning Narrator Roger was so fast that he came up at Fergie s feet before Fergie was ready to dive Fergie hopped in and started to paddle By the time he was across the pond his legs were tired He puffed and swallowed some water Fergie coughing Ugh Narrator But the moment Fergie coughed the frogs on the other teams caught up with him Roger yelling Paddle Fergie Paddle Narrator Fergie paddled as hard as he could but he couldn t keep up He tried hard but he came third Fergie sighing We lost Oh dear And it was my fault Narrator Fergie felt very bad He knew he had let his team down Roger wouldn t look at him Later Scoutmaster Leatherlips passed out all the badges each frog earned at camp All the frogs on Fergie s team got badges for team swimming Even Fergie Fergie was surprised Fergie But we didn t win the race Leatherlips Being a team isn t about winning It s about working together You learned something about working together didn t you Narrator Fergie nodded and looked at his toes Then he looked at Roger Fergie Next time I ll practice my frog paddle every morning and every night I promise Roger I guess there will always be a next time Camp helps us learn how to be good friends Being good friends can take some practice And camp is a great place to practice friendship because we re all together for a whole week We learn how to get along and make up when something goes wrong A prayer for becoming better friends together Jesus you call us all your friends You invite us to make friends with each other to work together and share your love with each other But we remember times we weren t the best of friends We ve argued We ve let each other down We haven t always kept our promises We re sorry Forgive us with your deep love And help us live by that love every day wherever we are whoever we re with We want to be friends who make you proud Amen A Song for God s friends Pass it on It only takes a spark to get a fire going And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing That s how it is with God s love once you ve experienced it You spread His love to ev ryone you want to pass it on Singing at camp is great We don t just sing songs about God We sing funny songs like Alice is a camel Though Cindy Anna Rae and I never went to the same camp we all learned this song at camp in different parts of Canada And it always gives us a laugh We sang Alice and then we sang If you re happy and you know it to get in the camp spirit Then the Women sang These Hands a song they learned at the retreat on Saturday Reminded us all we can use our hands to serve God at camp and at home Offering A Camp thank you The Johnny Appleseed Grace Oh the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord For giving me the things I need the sun and the rain and the apple seed The Lord is good to me Camping in tents and cabins We pitched a little tent in the chancel for this service A word about God s tent from John 1 When Moses lived God s people stayed in tents And they had a special tent for God to live in where they kept the Ten Commandments They d pack it up and take it with them whenever they moved along A tent gives us a different way to think about Jesus too In John s Gospel the grownups will remember that it says God s word became flesh and dwelt among us Now John was talking about Jesus when he wrote that In Jesus God s Word became a human being Became flesh But when John says God s word dwelt among us the actual Greek words in the Bible say God s word pitched its tent among us So whenever we see a tent we can remember Jesus came to live right beside us In Jesus God camps out in the middle of our lives That was true 2000 years when Jesus lived a life like yours mine And that s still true for us every day wherever we are So when we re sitting outside our tent at camp we ll know God is close by At night we might tell stories around the campfire which is how the Bible got started God s friends telling stories about God s mysteries as they sat around the fire together At camp sometimes we tell funny stories and

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive/388-camping-out-in-gods-world (2016-02-13)
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  • 2015 Sermon Archive
    10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 16 The Look of Love May 10 2015 Nancy Cocks 17 Chosen to Choose May 17 2015 Nancy Cocks 18 A Deep Breath of God May 24 2015 Nancy Cocks 19 God in Motion May 31 2015 Nancy Cocks 20 Bread in the wilderness June 7 2015 Nancy Cocks 21 The Extraordinary in the Ordinary June 14 2015 Nancy Cocks 22 A

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive?start=15 (2016-02-13)
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  • 2015 Sermon Archive
    Bible Study Food Choir Quilters Women of the Church Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts 2015 Sermon Archive Title Filter Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 31 The Fairest of them All September 20 2015 Nancy Cocks 32 That Wonderful World September 27 2015 Nancy Cocks 33 What would Jesus see October 11 2015 Nancy Cocks 34 Remembering and Celebration October 19 2015 Nancy Cocks

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive?start=30 (2016-02-13)
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  • The Dreamer
    will seek me out for my clear eye my steady hands my craftsmanship to turn your neighbour green with envy And maybe one day I ll build a fine home too start a family with a beautiful wife who has curves like the cheek of the moon Raise a son who shares my clear eye and my steady hand He can become the most famous carpenter in the whole world That s my dream to be carpenter for kings and princes And raise up a son who can be more famous than I Yes I am a dreamer Monologue Two Joseph speaks from experience What a dream Or rather What a nightmare Mary is pregnant And I can promise you I am not the father I don t know what to do People will scoff and scold if they think it s my child The same people will laugh behind my back if they know it s not my child And you know what will happen to Mary if this news gets out She ll be humiliated shunned for sure maybe even punished But we can t go on with our wedding Well I can t go on with the wedding knowing what s happened At least I thought I couldn t go on I thought perhaps Mary could just go away quietly visit her cousin in the hill country but then never come back It would be so much simpler for me But then I saw that angel It had to be a dream right My mother always said I was a dreamer Still the angel s message cut me right to the heart Joseph son of David The angel called on our most famous ancestor David so I had to pay attention Joseph son of David do not be afraid Was I afraid Afraid of the gossip Maybe a little Afraid for Mary more like it Her life would never be the same to have a child on her own But that angel didn t stop Joseph son of David do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit Whoever heard of such a thing A child conceived of God In the womb of the one I love How can such a thing be Yet the angel has promised Mary a son You are to name him Jesus said the angel Jesus Yeshua The one who will save people from their sins What a dream Could this son save my family from disgrace If he can save Mary from our neighbours spite I would love him just for that Could this son become the most famous carpenter in the world I would love him for that too Maybe if love has its way with us this dream can come true And something beautiful will be born for us all in Jesus Now there s a dream Monologue 3 An older Joseph looks back It all seems

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/277-the-dreamer (2016-02-13)
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  • It depends how you look at it
    her baby As far as I could see ES Which is quite a few million light years MS As far as I could see his mother seemed a bit sad that morning As she washed the baby with salt and water I thought I saw a tear in her eye ES Perhaps it was a tear of joy To have her baby safe and sound after so much company It just depends how you look at that tear MS True But mothers weep when they think of the hard times babies will face growing up on that sorry planet earth ES That sorry planet earth My dear Morning Star Earth is one of the most beautiful gems in that galaxy Green and growing Seas of crystal blue Wisps of white cloud It all depends how you see that planet MS Oh elegant Evening Star you always see the beauty You remember Earth the way God spun it from the vapours of love and the dust of desire Billions of years ago But today we morning stars hear the earth groaning And even yesterday when that wee baby was born King Herod was angry and those wise travellers had to find a different way home A sad place this Earth ES My dear despairing Morning Star you have forgotten the days between yesterday and today the days when that wee baby Jesus touched the earth with love Remember how he loved the earth walking the hills by himself How he loved the sea even when the wind and the waves were wild Remember how he loved a good time with his friends and how he smiled at those little children who used to get under his feet MS Yes Evening Star I remember Stars are always watching Whether people can see

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/278-it-depends-how-you-look-at-it (2016-02-13)
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  • Going with the Flow
    ended up trained ordained and eager to pursue God s justice righteousness with a different collar around my neck Now all this connects to our theme of baptism in a curious way In 1978 just two weeks before I was ordained I visited the congregation then served by Dr Robert Taylor Dr Taylor was minister here from 1943 until 1967 He baptized me along with some of you or your children And when I visited his church that Sunday he introduced me as the only person he had baptized to that point who had followed a call into ministry He was very pleased that at least one among the 586 children of the baby boom he d baptized had a vocation to ministry His comment made me stop and think Until then I d understood my journey into ministry as a reversal as my decision to swim against the current in my life towards law But Bob Taylor could see I was going with the flow of my baptism fulfilling a purpose God intended for me before I ever saw that purpose for myself Today as we celebrate the variety of opportunities for service which flow from baptism it s important to realize that in those moments when we make an important decision about our faith and how we re going to live it out such decisions can seem like a reversal like a decision to go upstream against the tide of life around us But there is also an important sense in which God is always calling each one of us to go with the flow of our baptism and fulfill the righteousness of our covenant with God Now fulfilling righteousness may not sound like your cup of tea The word righteousness makes lots of people nervous It calls to mind self righteousness people judging others by their own criteria based on their assumption that they ve already achieved what righteousness requires But Scripture challenges us to understand righteousness from its roots and those roots grow in the soil called justice as the prophet Isaiah reminds us Isaiah s servant song frames the ministry of Jesus who brought light to the nations Jew and Gentile alike opening eyes that are blind to need of neighbours beside them and to the gifts of God hidden in the last and least The Gospel of Matthew uses Isaiah over and over againto put Jesus in proper perspective for us highlighting what he means to accomplish for us and with us And righteousness beats at the heart of Jesus call righteousness read as that open handed open hearted outreach to anyone and everyone who draws near To be baptized is to go with that flow wherever the streams of God s justice mercy carry us with water for the thirsty and cleansing for the tired and troubled I chose that phrase going with the flow as my title because we often use it in that relaxed sense of going along with whatever is

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/280-going-with-the-flow (2016-02-13)
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