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  • The Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth
    it s hard to know why Studying the Ten Commandments again this week made me reflect on my uneasy feelings The Commandments used to offer a foundation for ethical behaviour in our society But I wonder what norms shape our relationships with each other now The Commandments have fallen out of favour Do we only care about what works for us personally advances our own agendas Of course this moment in social history is not the first when private interest has trumped accountability to God and neighbour When we see Jesus enraged in the temple court tossing over the tables chasing out the sacrificial animals challenging the scruples of the money changers we see a prophet distressed by values which placed personal gain above holiness and put trade before traditions of prayer and humility Jesus is as angry as we ll ever see him because he sees a new priority emerging among God s people a priority that values commerce before commitment And he will not stand for it Jesus anger made a deep impression on St John for John placed this story much earlier in his gospel than did Matthew Mark and Luke They all tell this story in the week before Jesus crucifixion But in John here it is in chapter two right at the beginning of Jesus ministry This story has such a priority in John s understanding of Jesus that he wants us to pay attention Jesus is angry and we d better see why If we think about Jesus was upholding the priorities expressed in the Ten Commandments The Commandments begin by insisting that our relationship with God take priority in our lives For when our relationship with God takes priority our relationships with everyone else everything else fall into place The first four commandments all focus on our response to God s holiness God s holiness cannot be manipulated to suit our preferences We can t use of God s name to bless our noble intentions while ignoring our less honourable ones God s people must have an integrity which honours God s integrity And when such integrity takes priority for us we will treat our neighbours honourably too No killing no cheating no stealing no lying no coveting our neighbours property The Commandments are stark And that s probably why they ve fallen out of favour We don t like to be told what we should and should not do So we become our own defense attorneys arguing our way around The Commandments excusing ourselves from misdemeanors here and there using The Commandments to measure the behaviour of others more than our own But truly the Commandments were not intended to be interpreted selectively dodging the ones that seem outdated or a little too stringent for our personal lifestyle The Commandments intend to shape us in right relationship with God and with every part of God s creation right down to the very beasts themselves who are included in the Sabbath commandment because

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  • "The Hair of the Dog"
    a hangover can increase our dependence on its effects So be sure to put your trust in the right place Why then would Jesus lift up this old image in his argument about eternal life For Jesus is recalling that scene in Numbers when he says Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whosoever believes in him may have eternal life Our gospel storyteller is playing with those words lifted up John wants us to remember that Jesus has been lifted up on a different pole on the Cross to renew God s healing mercy for those who wander in the wilderness of sin That commentator I read this week even extended the hair of the dog argument to this text explaining the paradox in Jesus words God will use the death of the Son of Man to defeat the power of death for us all One death defeats Death for all time But then we hear those more famous words in John 3 16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life Now this is a powerful image more powerful than a bronze snake curving down a pole God gives a beloved life to save the life of the beloved world And perhaps that s why we see those signs waving in the stands at many televised sports events in football stadiums and hockey arenas Believers hold up their hand crafted posters declaring John 3 16 Usually however that s the whole message John 3 16 as if that phrase alone will bring healing belief It s a little like holding up the bronze snake on a pole If people don t know what happened in the wilderness they won t realize that healing comes from God not the snake So for sports fans who can t make the connection between John 3 16 and Jesus life poured out for the sake of the world what s the point of waving those signs There s no power in a sign just like there s no healing in a snake We have to read all the way to verse 21 to claim the whole truth in this passage To believe in the wonder of God s love is to do what is true We come into the light of God when our lives proclaim the love of God that we have witnessed in Jesus Christ Waving a sign in a stadium just won t do Our belief has to become love in action to express our identity as God s covenant people shining the light of God s love into the darkened corners of the world You see Jesus life giving death isn t really a hair of the dog remedy His willingness to die is God s promise rooted in the depths of human sin and suffering that God

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2012-archive/174-qthe-hair-of-the-dogq (2016-02-13)
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  • A Rock and a Hard Place
    mean gets away with it might do it again Or say a friend invites you to do something you know you re not supposed to do something kind of fun but maybe a little dangerous If you do it you ll get trouble with your parents If you don t do it your friend might say you re a chicken I m between a rock and a hard place Whatever I do won t work out very well for me The stories we read about Jesus this morning remind us that God s people sometimes find ourselves between a rock and a hard place Those disciples out in that boat had a hard choice Go out on the lake when it was too windy to be safe or stay on shore and haven t nothing to eat That blind man had to beg for help something we don t like to do When we beg someone for something we wonder what other think of us we feel embarrassed having to ask for help This fellow had to beg or stay blind unable to get around on his own And then the father of that sick little girl He had leave his daughter and force his way through a huge crowd to get the attention of Jesus the famous rabbi He had to act fast to get a few minutes of the rabbi s time or else his daughter might die And we know from the story she did die when her father wasn t there with her Imagine how he felt He was still trying to drag the famous rabbi through a crowd that kept getting in his way when he got the bad news As God s people as Jesus friends we will sometimes find ourselves in a hard place facing difficult situations making choices that aren t easy feeling sad or scared or disappointed when things go wrong in our lives When things do go wrong we often think we re all alone against the world like that poem called Footprints says I noticed during the hardest times of my life t here has only been one set of footprints in the sand Why when I needed you most have you not been there for me We may get angry at God when things go wrong wondering why life isn t always smooth sailing We want to cry out Where are you God How can this happen to me Whenever we find ourselves in trouble whenever we feel alone sad scared or disappointed when we re caught between a rock and a hard place it s important to remember that Jesus Spirit will come to us if we just ask him In all those stories we read today Jesus came to people in trouble to help them make it through their trouble Like that poem promises The times when you have seen only one set of footprints are the times I carried you When we find ourselves in

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2012-archive/175-a-rock-and-a-hard-place (2016-02-13)
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  • As if it were yesterday
    greeting Hosanna Hosanna You know that old word means Save us Save us now Still I wonder if a king on a donkey s colt can save us Can someone with the common touch put things right for us given what we re facing He wasn t riding a war horse It was just a new young colt You know I haven t heard what happened to him since that grand arrival I wonder if I ll see him again wearing a crown A step closer to the Cross While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper as he sat at the table a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment nard and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger Why was the ointment wasted in this way 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor And they scolded her 6 But Jesus said Let her alone why do you trouble her She has performed a good service for me 7 For you always have the poor with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish but you will not always have me 8 She has done what she could she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial 9 Truly I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world what she has done will be told in remembrance of her A disciple speaks I remember that evening as if it were yesterday After the parade into Jerusalem and the fracas at the temple we d all gone back to Bethany to visit Simon a leper Jesus had healed The food covered the table in front of us Simon was SO grateful to Jesus It was wonderful to see how that man had come back to life once his skin was clear But we could never eat in peace in those days Someone always wanted Jesus attention That woman I forget her name she just walked in as if she owned the place carrying this beautiful jar a stunning piece really I didn t know what she was going to do Suddenly she cracked that jar on the table broke it open and started to pour ointment on Jesus head What next I thought As the perfume spread through the air someone realized it was nard the most expensive oil in the market What a waste It broke my heart How many hungry mouths could we feed with what that cost Jesus What a guy Always telling us to care for others Yet he let that woman pour all that rich perfume down the drain Well down his neck When we objected he had the cheek to tell us You ll always have the poor with you You can always be kind to them But haven

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  • Easter "at the improv"
    the stage the sun is rising God s light re emerging from the darkness of death The earthly obstacle has been dealt with that stone had been rolled away But there is a new narrator an unknown stranger in a heavenly white robe to prompt the characters as they arrive He is not here He is risen Go tell the disciples that Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee There you will see him It sounds so straightforward on the angel s lips as if it has been rehearsed But the women hesitate to enter the scene Instead they flee and say nothing to anyone for they are afraid So how will the story end Yet Mark is not really worried about those women Throughout his gospel Mark portrays Jesus disciples as missing the point failing to grasp Jesus vision of God s kingdom On Easter morning the faithful women fail too They say nothing just when they should shout the good news at full voice He is risen He is risen indeed Hallelujah But think of Mark as our screen writer He has heard the story of Jesus risen from the tomb Someone did say something for Mark knows Mark believes And now Mark wants us to enter the scene Mark wants us to respond to this moment of hope He wants us to play our part and improvise the next chapter of the Easter story For unless Jesus followers respond to this moment take the Good News into our part of the world the angel s message will just stay shimmering in the early morning light Now the Church Mark first addressed had reason to be afraid just like those women They lived during the reign of Emperor Nero a cruel and unpredictable man Nero blamed Christians and Jews for burning down Rome and provoked terrible persecution and immense suffering for believers throughout his Empire St Paul whose resurrection proclamation we read today died in this persecution Yes Mark s people knew fear and still he wanted them to enter the scene to play their part to proclaim the good news that Jesus was risen from the dead even though this was politically dangerous news Mark continues to present this challenge to every generation of believers Mark wants us to decide how we will respond when the curtain opens on Easter morning and we are invited to step on stage Of course our generation is not Mark s generation People in Canada are not dying for their Christian loyalty We didn t sneak into Church this morning relieved to get here safely and be greeted by friends in Christ who took a similar risk These days risk has been replaced by indifference when it comes to greeting our Risen Lord Sometimes we speak of this indifference with concern but we tend to point the finger out there at cultural factors contributing to the decline of the Church in this generation Sunday shopping people working weekends and all

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  • Get a move on!
    The brush had grown up around it Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross but there they stopped David Read minister of Madison Ave Presbyterian Church New York in the mid 20 th century says It is just because the story is left hanging that it draws us into the picture A rounded off completed story of Jesus might be something we could admire and hold at a distance but this open ended Gospel stretches out to this year of grace It suggests a meeting with Jesus that can take place now It is an invitation to you and me to write our own endings that is exactly what happens when one makes the discovery that Jesus is ALIVE Christ in his resurrection glory draws us forward into the future Easter must become for us more than an exercise in religious nostalgia to the accompaniment of grand music and the beauty of Spring flowers The Resurrection confirms for us that Jesus is let loose in the world and his love is always present and real for us By his Spirit he will be at our next crisis before we get there In the Easter story the angel gives the report Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead and behold he is going before you to Galilee there you will see him Going before That implies that we d better get a move on that Easter like Christmas is not only a gift of God but also an assignment Go and tell the women who came to the tomb early were told In today s Gospel the disciples are told not only Peace but If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them if you retain the sins of any they are retained Instructions in what is to be done and how to perpetuate the work and ministry and influence of Jesus At the conclusion of today s Gospel Jesus attempts to prove himself to Thomas a week after the other disciples first encountered him as risen Thomas you remember needed a little more convincing The Lord recognized that in Thomas as he does in some of us Some are more cautious or doubting or thicker than others Have you believed because you have seen me Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe Jn 20 29 That you may come to believe and that through believing you may have life in his name 20 31 God recognized that for Thomas and for all Thomases since following our resurrected Lord in a concrete real flesh and blood world in our human ness we require a flesh and blood Saviour One who has walked the valley before us The proper question today is NOT Do you believe that Jesus is raised from the dead but rather Will you dare to follow Jesus now that he is risen and does rule Are we prepared to walk the

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  • 2012 Sermon Archive
    5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 16 A Space that Grows April 29 2012 Nancy Cocks 17 Seizing the Moment May 6 2012 Nancy Cocks 18 Shaped by Choice May 20 2012 Nancy Cocks 19 Moving with the Spirit May 30 2012 Nancy Cocks 20 Are you feet wet yet June 17 2012 Nancy Cocks 21 Building Capacity June 24 2012 Nancy Cocks 22 Hardships and the

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  • 2012 Sermon Archive
    Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts 2012 Sermon Archive Title Filter Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 31 Do we get it September 23 2012 Nancy Cocks 32 For such a time as this September 30 2012 Nancy Cocks 33 Blessing Upside Down October 7 2012 Nancy Cocks 34 Joyful Noise October 21 2012 Nancy Cocks 35 On a Road Trip with Jesus November 1

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