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  • Humble
    last week St Paul reads even more significance into the humble quality of Jesus life Paul recognizes the humility of God standing before us in the figure of Jesus the king who became a servant for our sake Jesus emptied himself of every vestige of divine majesty to show that the God who sent him does not Lord it over us God s Lordship is the Lordship of love grounded in service to the humble of the earth Our servant Jesus abandons any claim to social or political power to demonstrate that humble service is the only credible expression of God s power The words of the ancient hymn which Paul recites to us proclaim that the true power of God is demonstrated in the One who gave away all his power on the Cross the One who did not live to impress the power brokers of the world Jesus Christ is exalted that is raised up through his courage and compassion and his humble commitment to God s little ones So perhaps it is no wonder that our world responds to the figure of Pope Francis who seems to embody the same grounded connection with those little ones school children the poor of the barrios men women on the street Now recall that St Paul introduced his hymn to Jesus with these urgent words Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others Here is the Easter manifesto if I can call it that This week as we walk behind Jesus to his Cross watching him face fear betrayal pain and abandonment we see what it means not to look to our own interests If we would be raised up with Jesus we would first have to empty ourselves for love s sake in the interests of others For this is how we come to know the consoling love compassion of God by offering these gifts to others especially to those whom the world belittles For in humility we will regard the littlest ones in our world as God s most precious ones For them we will empty ourselves But if this Easter Manifesto is St Paul s vision for the lifestyle and ministry of Jesus followers we have to ask ourselves how it came to be that the Church took on the trappings of Empire From the 4 th Century on historians trace the relationship between Church State growing closer and closer And as the social power of Church leaders grew so the vestments they wore more more copied the robes of office for Crown and Council The leaders of one institution were deeply influenced by the leaders of the other each protected the other s interests We could point to the example of the Crusades as apparently religious battles which also advanced

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/236-humble (2016-02-13)
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  • We were there
    them The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground but the men said to them Why do you look for the living among the dead He is not here but has risen A woman speaks We were perplexed all right We had been there when they handed Jesus over to the soldiers He could barely walk by his own strength And we were there while he was hanging on that cross We saw him die we heard him die We watched as they took his body down We followed Joseph to the tomb We were there all of us women And after the Sabbath we were ready We had the spices we knew what to do But we weren t counting on angels I ask you do you expect an angel dazzling in your eyes on the saddest day of your life So bright we threw ourselves on the ground in front of them But those angels they sounded as if we should have known better Why do you seek the living among the dead Well Mr Angel were you there when they crucified my Lord Did you see him suffer Did you hear him breathe his last desperate breath I did I was there My heart was broken on Friday And you don t get over a broken heart in a couple of days But then hindsight is so much clearer isn t it When I look back now after all these years I can see how God was at work in Jesus In our very midst For all those years But face to face with those angels I didn t know what to say Still my heart started to beat a little faster Jesus definitely was not there But I was And he was not there Unison Prayer God of mystery we can understand why those women were perplexed We know the Easter story but we do not understand how things happened as that day dawned Yet your gift of hope is dazzling to us too We would like to believe that death is not the end And so we sing our song in hope 252 He is Lord he is Lord he is risen from the dead and he is Lord Every knee shall bow every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord Remember Luke 24 5 b 11 The men said He is not here but has risen Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified and on the third day rise again Then the women remembered Jesus words and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest Now it was Mary Magdalene Joanna Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles But these words seemed to the disciples an idle tale and they did not believe them A

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/238-we-were-there (2016-02-13)
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  • On whose word?
    God His words ring with conviction beyond those of his friends For Thomas seeing has become believing His encounter washes away his uncertainty Thomas is now an Easter witness not a skeptic But Jesus sees the challenge for the rest of us Will we all these years later take Thomas at his word Are we in any better position to trust Thomas given the times in which we live Jesus anticipates our struggle Blessed are those who have not seen yet have come to believe Jesus understands the challenge for his followers On whose word will we stake our faith He knows we have to come to trust him for ourselves Reflecting on the story of Thomas and the stories swirling through the news this week brought to mind a woman I met when I was Inter Faith Secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches Part of my role back then was to share in dialogue opportunities between Christians and Muslims in Canada It was quite a learning experience Through these discussions about how Christians Muslims approached common themes like marriage family life a bit differently I came to know a woman named Aisha She had grown up in Eastern Europe raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church She immigrated to Canada and eventually married a Muslim man She was not required to convert when they married but as their family life developed she eventually did and took the name Aisha I was quite curious about her conversion finding it hard to imagine why someone would leave the Church and her faith in Christ for Islam I ll never forget her answer She said I have a more personal relationship with Allah than I ever had with Christ A more personal relationship This week I began to wonder if some personal relationship attracted those young Ontario men to radical Islam Did they seek what Thomas sought a personal encounter that took away their doubts Did they find what Aisha found a more personal relationship with God praying five times a day Friends we need to hear the challenge to our own life in Christ when people are drawn away from the faith we cherish and commit themselves to a different and in the case of these young men a dangerous allegiance When Jesus says Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe he lays that challenge before us all How will we encourage our children and grandchildren and anyone seeking a meaningful personal relationship with God to find that relationship in Christ and through Christ These young men who turned away from their churches challenge us to consider this question very seriously Of course what the story of Thomas shows us is that no one can establish a personal relationship for someone else Thomas had to encounter the Risen Christ himself But his friends told him about the possibility They had a story to tell about their own encounter We have seen the Lord they declared

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/240-on-whose-word (2016-02-13)
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  • Do you know that I love you?
    for the sake of the One who loves us remembering we may have to reac h out on the other side of the boat in as yet untried waters Verses 7b 13 When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord he put on some clothes for he was naked and jumped into the lake But the other disciples came in the boat dragging the net full of fish for they were not far from the land only about a hundred yards off When they had gone ashore they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it and bread Jesus said to them Bring some of the fish that you have just caught So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore full of large fish a hundred and fifty three of them and though there were so many the net was not torn Jesus said to them Come and have breakfast Now none of the disciples dared to ask him Who are you because they knew it was the Lord Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish Reflection It is the Lord These words from the disciple whom Jesus loved suddenly activate our characters And surely some of the details make us smile There s Peter naked standing in a boat on open water trying to get dressed while his friends struggle with that net now teeming with slippery fish Apparently it was common to fish naked in those days so your clothes didn t get soaked or caught up in the nets Still it s a good thing Peter didn t have to pull on blue jeans in that boat No I imagine him tugging his tunic over his head and plunging in for a quick hundred yard swim against the waves desperate to reach Jesus first Now we should note there is a little tension in this story among the disciples Did you catch that curious phrase the disciple whom Jesus loved Didn t Jesus love every disciple Well John s Gospel mentions this beloved disciple many times without saying his name It s almost as if John is raising his eyebrows about Peter the rock on whom Jesus was to build his church it s as if John is reminding posterity there was another leader even closer to Jesus heart Perhaps that s why Peter was so desperate to get to Jesus first He knows he has things to straighten out His last two encounters with Jesus were painful Jesus rebuked him for drawing his sword in the scuffle when Jesus arrested And then there was his denial those fearful moments when Peter distanced himself from Jesus to protect himself during Jesus trial Do you know how it feels when your final encounter with someone is filled with such unhappy memories Can you sense the regret and shame burning in Peter when he plunges into the sea Peter has to get to Jesus

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/242-do-you-know-that-i-love-you (2016-02-13)
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  • Beyond the Valley
    we have been reminded there are evils we cannot avoid because there are people determined to do harm to others we can fall prey to them just like a wandering lamb gets snatched by a circling hawk This psalm doesn t flinch from the hard truth that life is never all green pastures and still waters Our paths will take us into terrifying territory sometimes without warning But the psalm doesn t leave us there And that s one reason we love it so much God the shepherd comes to us to walk us through the valley to calm our fears and give us courage and comfort so we don t get stuck in the darkness or give up under the shadow of our sorrows The psalm takes us beyond the valley promising us refreshment nourishment and a future secured by God s love The third scene in this psalm introduces new characters a host and guests reminding us that in ancient shepherding cultures the commitment to hospitality was absolute You fed your enemies when they were on your territory they laid their weapons down to come to table with you So we watch God inviting unreconciled parties to gather for a meal pouring out oil to revive wounded spirits and soothe the tired and anxious This third scene is a feast of new possibility to mark the fact we can get beyond the valley Evil and enmity do not have the last word There is hope for us in this world and the next For this last scene of the psalm is often read as an invitation to the heavenly banquet where faithful souls will find rest in God s house forevermore That s certainly one faithful way to read these images But this week I learned something new about this beloved psalm as I studied different translations of the Hebrew We ve grown accustomed to the words Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life Yet this translation is too weak I learned Mere following is not what the poet had in mind A better translation is Goodness and Mercy shall pursue me my whole life long The verb has much more action determination than following implies God comes after us with goodness mercy day after day after day When we let goodness and mercy catch us claim us we can find the green pastures and enjoy the still waters all over again because we have truly travelled beyond the valley of deep shadows Think about the stories which have caught our attention this week If the people of Boston and West Texas are going to flourish again they have to get beyond the valley of death destruction Their hearts have to be claimed for goodness mercy once more Otherwise evil intent has crossed the finish line and won the day in Boston Despair will have devoured more than the homes in West Texas Of course I m not saying goodness and mercy

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/243-beyond-the-valley (2016-02-13)
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  • 2013 Sermon Archive
    Filter Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 16 Do you want to be healed May 5 2013 Nancy Cocks 17 A Commanding Presence May 12 2013 Nancy Cocks 18 People of the Wind May 19 2013 Nancy Cocks 19 Tis A Mystery May 30 2013 Administrator 20 Open Hands June 16 2013 Nancy Cocks 21 More than we can ask or imagine June 30 2013 Nancy

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive?start=15 (2016-02-13)
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  • 2013 Sermon Archive
    This Season Get Involved Bible Study Food Choir Quilters Women of the Church Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts 2013 Sermon Archive Title Filter Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 31 Point of View September 15 2013 Nancy Cocks 32 Shrewd Saints September 22 2013 Nancy Cocks 33 God s Family First October 6 2013 Nancy Cocks 34 The Best Gift Ever October 13 2013

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive?start=30 (2016-02-13)
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  • Christ the Compass
    something we re now facing become like a compass for us They point us in the direction where they found help and support when they struggled through the same kind of storm Such encouragement does happen all the time It s what good friends and neighbours offer each other Today we might turn to Simeon and Hanna as our good neighbours in Luke s story of Jesus birth to see what wisdom they provide as we face a new year uncertain as to exactly what lies ahead These two faithful seniors were attentive to God as seniors so often are They were people of prayer who came frequently to the temple So there they were in the temple on the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to dedicate him to God And on that day Simeon and Hanna saw something that happened all the time A new mother came to offer her sacrifice for purification after giving birth a pair of pigeons the offering of the poor as described in Levit 12 6 Every new mother had to make this sacrifice according to the law of Moses There was also a ritual to mark the birth of a first born son According to Exodus 13 the first born son was considered holy to the Lord So the family had to redeem him buy him back from God by making a sacrifice of thanksgiving Simeon and Hannah probably witnessed these two acts of devotion hundreds of times small rituals which honoured God at the beginning of a new life They did happen all the time Yet on that day it s as if the needle in their compass shifted In the tiny baby Jesus just over one month old these wise and faithful seniors sensed that God had begun something new Here was a new point of reference for God s people a light for the nations the source of salvation for all people This tiny baby redeemed by his parent s humble offering would offer himself to redeem the world In the midst of what happened all the time God s faithful servants perceived that God was acting to change things for all time The newborn Christ became the compass to point the world in a new direction In Christ God has established a new magnetic north to guide us in the ways of justice peace and compassion to show us the true source of our salvation our wholeness and integrity restored by Christ s mercy So our challenge in the year unfolding before us is not to prepare for the end of the world according to some ancient Mayan calendar It s the challenge Simeon and Hannah faced year after year Part of a faithful life is to attend to God s presence with us through those small acts of faithfulness which happen all the time daily prayer weekly worship acts of Christian service friendship And yet even while we are practicing such familiar devotion we must stay open

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2012-archive/153-christ-the-compass (2016-02-13)
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