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  • Losing Weight
    say this to reassure ourselves that God won t let our current burdens overwhelm us But I confess this phrase always makes me worry that some people think God put the burdens there in the first place as if God has some cosmic scales for burdens and moves the weights across the scale until we each carry just enough but not too much The instinct about God I see in our story today is different Whenever our lives are filled with a ton of tragedy whenever one thing or many things are weighing us down Jesus lifts the weight up takes it away Jesus takes the burden off our shoulders to carry it for us and give us relief so we can find our way forward For a moment just think about the kinds of things that weigh us down from time to time There is the weight of responsibility figuring out what to do about something where to start Did we make the right judgment call Did we cause things to go wrong Responsibilities can become so heavy so onerous that we lose the energy to act Singing Behold the Lamb of God behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin the sin of the world It s not that we shirk responsibility by handing a crisis over to God but taking the moment to ask God to lift up the weight allows us to take a deep breath and then re engage our responsibilities What else weighs us down Well worry and fear can surely become burdens even though they will not move the needle on our bathroom scale We may worry about our health about a diagnosis or the lack of diagnosis We may worry about our children and what they might get into We may worry about finances if our pensions will stretch We often believe Murphy s Law which tells us If anything can go wrong it will go wrong And then we worry about everything So worry paralyzes us by freezing our trust in God suggesting there is nothing we can do to make a difference Singing Behold the Lamb of God behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin the sin of the world Perhaps we don t think about worry as sin but it is if it separates us from the loving presence of God and turns us away from the gifts God is offering in every worrisome situation If we can only remember to put our worries into Jesus hands prayerfully day by day even moment by moment that loving Lamb of God will set us free and give us peace Sorrow is another burden which can weigh us down When someone beloved has died when accident or tragedy has struck there is often no way to change what has happened And so sorrow can seem like an immovable object sitting on our hearts pressing the life out of us We have to keep handing our sorrow

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/281-losing-weight (2016-02-13)
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  • Gone Fishin'
    don t sit idly waiting for fish to come to them they have to go to where fish are Jesus is saying to them let s go and be where the people are be fishers of people Jesus was present with people through active relationship not waiting for people to come to him but going to be among people Through this he did amazing things that we still talk about And that s why its so important to take the initiative to be a fisher of people as Jesus said to be with people because you never know how one simple thing can do something extraordinary you never know what you may mean to someone or how you being present for someone can be the presence of Jesus in the world This past fall my Grandfather died and I grew up on a farm with he and my Grandmother next door to my house so throughout my life he was always there helping me explaining things or doing things for me even if it meant doing them the slow way or the more methodical way that honestly as much as I loved him sometimes drove me a bit crazy Like the numerous times I had a extremely detailed genealogy lesson with pictures and maps Or the times I d be out in the barn doing something to help my dad and all of a sudden my grandfather would be behind me telling me how whatever I was doing could or should be done differently Or the one that I think taught me the most patience But also should how much he cared was when I might be sitting at the table sharpening a pencil and he would quietly get his famous jack knife out and sharpen the pencil for me that way That jack knife was used for a lot of things opening letters opening a lot of things actually pointing something out to us it was always in his pocket and Grampy was always there to help us with it Anyway before my Grandfather died both my Sister and Brother had these lovely dreams about him where they got to say goodbye or something along those lines and not going to lie I was a little jealous So a few weeks after being home for my grandfathers funeral I had had a couple nights of bad dreams Nothing crazy just your typical bad dream and I was also still missing my Grandfather so one night when I was going to sleep I was praying please God just let me have good dream about my Grampy like my siblings got too you know just one But I never had the dream A week later or so I was at the advent family party we were having at church and I was running this advent star craft table and we were making these big stars with this really thick cardboard that we were covering in tinfoil I had had time earlier

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/282-gone-fishin (2016-02-13)
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  • Seriously?
    the vulnerable yourselves then you ll see the light Then your aching bones will grow strong again and your gardens will bloom with plenty of rain Isaiah declares that this is how God s people show we take our faith in God seriously Anything less is playing church when we ought to be making a difference in the world Isaiah s argument with God s people is that they were praying for their own needs fasting so God paid attention to their requests for themselves But they were disregarding those around them who were hungry homeless and afflicted Notice that Isaiah was no shrinking violet He d have shrugged off any accusation he was making religion too political For indeed in our day all his examples have political implications about where God s people should stand and how we ll act when the needs of the vulnerable are in the news The question Isaiah puts to us is whether we take the word of God seriously seriously enough to make God s priorities our priorities He argues that only when we pour ourselves out to care for those who are truly vulnerable will we discover that God is making us stronger supporting our growth and well being Here is the paradox of faith Spend your resources for the sake of those in need and you will find yourself replenished by God s mysterious grace Now such readings from the prophets often make us uncomfortable because they touch themes which divide us politically in our society how the poor and the homeless are cared for whether workers are paid a living wage if the oppressed can find refuge in a safe place But rather than wrestle with contemporary examples drawn from Isaiah s preaching we may prefer to jump quickly to the stories of Jesus After all the prophets were just speaking to Israel right Their words don t matter to us do they But listen to what Jesus said Do not think that I have come to abolish the law the prophets I have come to fulfill them From the very beginning of his Gospel Matthew takes pains to frame Jesus in images from Isaiah And so if we enjoy his words about the child called Emmanuel God with us read every Christmas Eve then we have to take the connection between Isaiah Jesus here seriously too When Jesus proclaims that we are to be salt for the earth and light for the world his teachings include a sharp prophetic edge warning that if salt has lost its taste it s no good any more If light is hidden under a bushel basket it fails to shine into the world and draw attention to the good work of God that needs doing Still if we stay focused on Jesus words as our entry point to Isaiah s passionate vision perhaps salt and light can help us think how we show God that we take God s compassionate priorities seriously Think

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/283-seriously (2016-02-13)
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  • What God won't do
    just go and get some sort of take out On the threshold of a heated argument do we say that thing that will just antagonize the other person and keep the fire going Or do we say something that will diffuse everyone s anger Or in the case where we might be the one in the wrong do we admit it or say sorry But the two choices that Moses was presenting to the Israelites while they were on the threshold of their own decision weren t just a matter of whether they would be or not be as it was for Hamlet it wasn t about their actual literal existence it was about a choice to live in God s way However even though Moses isn t talking literally about life and death we can t help to feel maybe a little bit jaded about the promises he is giving for those that choose life Anyone who has lived in this world knows that good behavior doesn t always mean a constant reward and the very best riches of life and even bad behavior is sometimes unjustly rewarded but as easy as it is to interpret this reading from Deuteronomy as promising prosperity to good people I think Moses is speaking of other matters It s a richness of life that he s speaking of choosing life by living in God s way means a richness in relationships a richness in life in a community and a richness in hope that transitions you from your past through your present and into your future But Moses is also telling them that living in God s way cannot be just following the legal requirements of the law nor can it be something lived out abstractly in our minds Following God s way must be lived out in real time in a real place For the Israelites and for us the choice to live isn t about a written statement or some sort of inner mental understanding that God is God or just about following rules or law word for word It s a choice to accept the call to walk in Gods way and accept how we are to love in the world It is primarily about the heart Choosing life isn t a question of existence it s a question of our heart Choosing life means to live and walk in God s way and as we heard in Micah just a few weeks ago in God s Family first was that God requires us to do justice love kindness and walk humbly with him Love justice kindness and mercy lead to life and when we are standing on the threshold of a decision as the Israelites were when Moses was imploring them to chose life these are the qualifiers we can use to determine if what we are doing is choosing life or not If I say this about someone is it really loving kindness Or if I hold

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/297-what-god-wont-do (2016-02-13)
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  • Checking the Foundations
    the builders had poured a perimeter foundation for the major supports but then simply paved the underground parking level in tarmac After a year of cars pulling in and out of their narrow slots day after day after day ruts began to develop in the soft base Cars were steadily wearing down their parking spots with no solid foundation underneath So it s no wonder St Paul asks us to consider our foundation and just what kind of building we re constructing on it He knew that a good foundation mattered to whatever took shape above it But he also knew that builders have choices and so it matters how we choose to construct our buildings If we want something to last both the foundation and the construction material have to be good quality We know the truth of his analogy from property around us Today let s extend the analogy to what we re building together in Christ s name St Paul wants members of Christ s church to recognize that we are always building our life of faith on a foundation laid by someone else He reminded the Christians in Corinth that their foundation was laid by Christ He urged them to build on this foundation with quality that suited the precious gift they d received in Christ They were not to argue about which apostle had offered the best leadership in their building project In a sense he was saying Apollos or Paul both work for the same architectural firm It doesn t matter who baptized you Rally your efforts to build up the body of Christ because you all belong to Christ and therefore you belong together standing as one building Human wisdom may credit architects developers contractors as the movers and shakers of any building project But God s wisdom looks only to the quality of the construction to see that it will stand faithfully on the rock of its foundation Christ himself On the day of our Annual Meeting it s good to be reminded that we re building on foundations laid by those who have gone before us We have only to glimpse the stained glass windows anywhere in this building to recall generations of families whose commitment to Christ is part of our foundation When you re down in Morrow Hall look at the sturdy exposed cornerstone remember the saints who chose that stone over a century ago When you greet Maren this morning remember she stands on the foundation of the Riverside Legacy for her learning and outreach among us Today we ll look at guidelines for our Living Legacy Fund resources gathered by members past and present to help sustain the ministry mission here for years to come It s not our place to spend all this inheritance in our lifetime because it s a foundation that was laid by others before us intended to last beyond us as well We want to use it wisely and also maintain it

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/298-checking-the-foundations (2016-02-13)
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  • Taking Something On
    the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert and of Adam and Eve being tempted in the Garden of Eden In Genesis we have this infamous serpent a character in the story of Adam and Eve who causes them to question God s trustworthiness sort of goading them on saying that nothing bad will happen you ll just know as God does how could that not be amazing God is keeping you from something awesome He knows nothing bad will happen just try it And so Adam and Eve tempted by self sufficiency wisdom and tempted to establish an identity separate from God take the fruit and eat it What happens in this story is that they separate themselves from God in trying to be independent of God Then in Matthew Christian read about the tempter in the desert trying to get Jesus to question God by saying you know If you are the son of God then do this In other words how do you know you are God s son Don t you want to know this for sure If you do turn these stones into bread you can be completely sure Do all these things and you will be fine on your own sufficient without God worship me and you ll be find on your own While the specific temptation here is different the tempter is doing the same thing the Serpent did to Adam and Eve causing someone to distance themselves from the relationship they have with God Adam and Eve give in to this too curious and too human not to be tempted to test this out but Jesus responds differently refusing to prove something He doesn t try to establish his own identity as Adam and Eve did but remains dependent on God He remembers who he is by knowing whose he is and knows he doesn t need to prove anything because he knows in his heart that he is God s I think something about being human is learning how to deal with the awareness that we are not complete in and of ourselves We are aware of this hole we carry inside an emptiness that we are always restless to fill Pascal a 17 th century Christian philosopher described this emptiness as a God shaped hole in humans Adam and Eve felt the emptiness they had was perhaps in the shape of the fruit they ate but even after eating the emptiness remained Maybe today we attempt to fill the space with shopping or clothes or cars a different partner or just things in general things that claim to make us feel complete in and of ourselves but can just end up making us even more aware of that emptiness inside us The things with both the stories we read today is that Adam and Eve and Jesus weren t being tempted to indulge in something they were being tempted to put themselves in the place of God or to

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/300-taking-something-on (2016-02-13)
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  • Hope Again
    fruits of this vineyard if you know what I mean ends up lying naked in a tent and divides and destroys his family Then we have the tower of Babel with humans trying to build a tower in an attempt to reach God instead of fulfilling God s hope for creation The result of this is that God comes down and separates and scatters them It seems like every attempt God makes for relationship is somehow thwarted by the shortcomings of humans If there is one thing we learn in the first 11 chapters of Genesis as if we didn t know it already it s that humans are broken And so then even after all the mess ups all the mistakes and all the effort already put in God is looking for ways to claim us and be in relationship with us so he tries something completely new He calls one special individual Abraham to make the earth whole again and to live a life that will be a blessing to nations and will bring hope to others God gives Abraham the task of reconstituting the broken world that has flown out of the Garden of Eden out of Babel and Noah and out of Cain and Abel Somehow in the very life of this one man the world has hope again Abraham is called not to do anything else but go where God sends him This passage is an important turning point in the bible because the remainder of the Bible s story will be one attempt after the other to reconstitute a broken world God will be persistent and creative with divine ideas to be in relationship with us but it all begins with here with the call of Abraham These four verses we read are short but so important We talk about God s call a lot in the church and about what our true vocation is as individuals and as Christians At the school I go too we are often asked and sometimes evaluated on our ability to articulate our call as we experience it In our day to day lives we talk about feeling called to do something or we ll hear people say they just felt called to do it People search for their call and their vocation in life Vocation isn t the most commonly used word but I found this wonderful definition for it that I love that goes hand in hand with understanding God s call in our own life It says that Vocation is about being raised from the dead made alive to the reality that we do not merely exist but are called forth for a divine purpose In other words vocation is that which gives us hope It doesn t necessarily have to be our jobs or our employment but our vocation is to find those things in life that give us life that make us feel as though we are not mindlessly existing Vocation is to

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/301-hope-again- (2016-02-13)
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  • Unnecessary Weight
    this school things just weren t feeling right and there were things about the program that really bothered me that could not be outweighed by how much I loved my teacher It was an agonizing tearful decision but the right one when I left that school to go to another one to focus on a different instrument than the euphonium in a different musical community This teacher of course was someone who helped me with my decision and supported me fully through it We continued to be in communication after I left school but you know as things get busy and we weren t close in distance and I began studying the euphonium with a different person A year or so later I was at a weekend conference with just people who played euphonium and tuba and yes I know how exciting that sounds and in the beginning of the first day I see my former teacher who I worked with for so long and who had gotten be through so many things walk in the door I was nervous and excited but mostly just overjoyed to see this person because I had missed him So as soon as I was able I ran up to him with a huge hello arms sort of open for a hug and was greeted with very unenthusiastic oh hi and I asked some more questions but he just seemed to be looking over my shoulder looking for someone else I froze and tried to spit more words out but I felt like I was talking to a stranger who didn t want anything to do with me The rest of the weekend we never said a word to one another and it seemed like he was trying to ignore me and I was completely crushed I had no idea what I had done no idea if he was angry with me no idea about anything I could have asked him then and there before leaving but I didn t and I just carried that crushed feeling with me home Those feelings of hurt and anger at the way he acted towards me stuck with me and consumed me I thought about it more often than I care to admit and I turned from being hurt to being bitter A few times at the suggestion of others I tried to reach out but I couldn t find words and I just gave up and carried an unnecessary weight with me every day Four years or so later just this past summer I got an email from this teacher asking for my help with something acknowledging that we hadn t spoken in quite a while but didn t really say anything about the last time we saw each other I took this as a chance to just ask what had been eating away at me every day I described exactly my feelings and described how I felt that day that he barely spoke to me

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/302-unnecessary-weight (2016-02-13)
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