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  • Making the best of it
    who claimed them Joseph had already shown remarkable compassion in his thought simply to send Mary away rather than turn her in for punishment We don t give Joseph enough credit for making the best of an awkward even shameful situation before that angel appeared to him Indeed both Mary and Joseph showed incredible courage to take up their parts in the drama God was unfolding We can only imagine what gossip they faced how they were shunned by family and friends when their unusual situation and their daring choices became plain to those around them They had to make the best of it Joseph as much as Mary all on the word of angels I wonder if they ever had a moment s pause to question their decisions to commit to God s dramatic plan They must have believed very deeply that God was truly with them in the midst of unimaginable circumstances But when we look back with centuries of interpretation to guide us and placid faces of figurines in our nativity scenes beaming at us we can underestimate the challenge in that moment Matthew could only make sense of Joseph s kindness by recalling the words of the prophet Isaiah to king Ahaz You see Isaiah wasn t predicting the circumstances that our man Joseph faced 700 years later No Isaiah was challenging King Ahaz to maintain his faithfulness to God s covenant in the face of ferocious enemies who were trying to terrorize his kingdom and capitalize on political panic Isaiah tried to reassure Ahaz that God was with him and his people in the midst of turmoil The sign to reassure Ahaz of God s favour was the birth of a child Isaiah pointed to a young woman of that day who was already with child whose moment of birth was obviously near Isaiah promised Ahaz that just as surely as that baby would be born so God would also see the people through their time of terror and bring those threatening kings to their knees By the time that child Immanuel had become a toddler knowing how to refuse evil and choose the good Israel s enemies would be defeated Isaiah invited Ahaz to make the best of the time through faithfulness to God by refusing evil and choosing good not giving in to the terror or panic his enemies unleashed Seven hundred years later Matthew draws on this famous promise to help make sense of the courage and compassion we see in Joseph At the invitation of his prophetic angel Joseph refuses the evil possibility of pushing Mary and her child out of his life He chooses the good by foregoing the birth of his own son and heir to foster God s possibilities of hope and healing born in the one to be named Jesus That name Jesus Yeshua Joshua rings with the promise that God will heal save God s people once again And so Joseph makes the best of a

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/69-making-the-best-of-it (2016-02-13)
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  • Six Simple Words
    to deliver God s promise of joy to them But that joy would rearrange the claims of Caesar intending to replace peace enforced by Roman swords the so called Pax Romana with peace that would put an end to fear the peace of Christ I found these historical quotations about Caesar Augustus in my research for a Bible study session that we did last June in our current study on the Gospel of Luke When I read the citations aloud to our group I would say a few jaws dropped just as mine had How could the beautiful poetry of the angel s message drifting over the hills outside Bethlehem echo the self serving praise of an emperor who decided to call himself divine How could that be Well it s a good reminder for us all that Jesus was born into a moment similar to ours with posturing politicians precarious loyalties tensions among God s people about how the future will unfold The angel s message wasn t written on a greeting card It rang into a world where God s people had to make a choice Would they take their peace as Caesar served it up keeping within the structures he had established mostly to ensure his own power and prominence Or would God s people embrace this newborn and receive a Saviour who would call them to respond to create great joy with and for all people in ways they hadn t yet imagined To you is born this day These six simple words contain a profound challenge for us as they ring out amid the structures of a world in which ruling powers too often serve the interest of far too few These six simple words ask us to receive God s promise of hope as it comes to us in the newborn Christ and then do something about it The Christ child is born to us so that we can raise up the hope he brings in our own generation while we raise up our own children So I think we need to hear the challenge in the angel s message this year not just the joy When I look around at Canadian society these days I sense that too many people in Canada have surrendered our responsibility as citizens good neighbours to act in hope in and for our communities People don t vote People don t volunteer the way they used to We expect good things to be delivered to us by those in power though we grumble about the taxes paying for those good things will require We also seem unable to recognize the self serving interests in those leaders who say one thing and do another Which is not unlike Caesar Augustus I must say Raising up hope in our generation means we have to pay attention to what s happening around us just like parents do raising up their own children If we don t pay attention to what s

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/71-six-simple-words (2016-02-13)
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  • Sherman the Hound Dog
    Choir Quilters Women of the Church Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts Sherman the Hound Dog Sherman is one of those dogs who loves to watch TV He likes to dig in the garden and eat well almost anything His adventures with Mark Lucy take us all around our neighbourhoods where Sherman can always dig up a little trouble too Sherman The Big Move Home on the Range Part

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/sherman-the-hound-dog (2016-02-13)
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  • Jackie Rabbit
    Stories Music New Occasions What s Happening Newsletter Upcoming Events Youth Events New This Season Get Involved Bible Study Food Choir Quilters Women of the Church Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts Jackie Rabbit Jackie Rabbit began life as a circus rabbit getting pulled out of hats only to disappear magically On her own Jackie is always looking for a new job and a new friend Then poof Something

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/jackie-rabbit (2016-02-13)
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  • Fergie the Frog
    This Season Get Involved Bible Study Food Choir Quilters Women of the Church Men s Prayer Group Youth Children Contacts Fergie the Frog Follow the adventures of Fergie the Frog from the side of the swamp where his family lives through the forest and even to school Meet his big brother Freddie his best friend Roger even Ms Nimbleknees his teacher and Scoutmaster Leatherlips They are all part of the

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/fergie-the-frog (2016-02-13)
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  • The Stones Cry Out
    attention to rocks and stones Micah grumbled As the sun rose and the day got hotter the rocks could feel a distant rumbling in the ground What s going on the stones and pebbles asked each other It feels like a parade is coming said Sandy Or a caravan of camels Micah shuddered The pebbles began to jiggle with excitement Here they come The rocks could see dust rising It is a parade said Sandy Look The people are waving palm branches Listen to them sing and cheer Micah said Not far off they could hear people singing and shouting Hosanna Hosanna Sandy called out I can see someone on a donkey People are cheering for him Watch out cried Micah Then he coughed as a palm branch landed right on top of him Join in Sandy urged the pebbles It must be the king Hosanna she sang And the pebbles replied Hosanna Hosanna Hosanna grumbled Micah who was still underneath a palm branch The parade walked right over top of him The little donkey carrying the king stepped carefully over the singing rocks Micah peeked out from under his branch Look at his face he said in wonder I think he looks very kind said Sandy I bet that he can hear the voices of the stones So the pebbles cried even louder Hosanna Hosanna As the stones and pebbles watched the parade go by they heard some angry men try to stop the singing Teacher the men shouted Silence your disciples The king said I tell you if these people were silent the very stones would cry out He did hear us cried Micah He heard our song The pebbles sang again Hosanna Hosanna When the parade was over and the next day arrived life returned to normal for the rocks on the road People coming to Jerusalem walked on top of them Children picked up stones and tossed them at walls or at soldiers who weren t watching It was a busy road and those rocks had a busy life keeping the dust down But on Friday things changed The earth began to rumble again A troop of Roman soldiers marched out early that morning their boots crunching hard on the rocks in the road Ouch Ouch cried the stones and the pebbles your boots hurt Along came another crowd Is this a parade too wondered Sandy Stone No Listen whispered Micah Their voices are angry Then the rocks felt tired footsteps dragging something heavy through the dust Look said Sandy softly It s the king But he s bleeding said Micah Stop Listen to us Micah cried louder You are hurting the king All the pebbles called Hosanna Hosanna No one is listening to us Sandy sighed Micah frowned They are going to kill the king The pebbles wept sadly Hosanna Hosanna All at once the sky turned black and the ground trembled The rocks were afraid and the pebbles were silent Then Sandy cried out

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/the-stones-cry-out (2016-02-13)
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  • Star Trek
    haul our load he said Before he could sneeze again Ishtar was led away by the big man two young camels following Where are we going they asked Ishtar How should I know I ve never even been to Nineveh That afternoon the camels were loaded for their journey A young one complained This is heavy enough to be gold I hope we will not journey far Ishtar breathed in a spicy aroma from his pack Our masters must be merchants who follow the spice road We will know their plans in the morning No sooner had he spoken than their riders appeared ready to go Will we ride at night a young camel asked How should I know I ve never even been to Nineveh said Ishtar Without the sun the camels were unsure of their way It will soon be too dark to see our footprints said Ishtar We should wait for morning light Then one of the riders cried There it is The star is rising again On the horizon as we have seen it these many months The men spurred their camels toward the rising star As the star rose in the sky a pathway of light appeared on the desert sand This way cried Ishtar to his friends The star has set our way before us I wonder if it will lead us to Nineveh For many weeks they journeyed three camels and their mysterious riders who seemed to know more about stars than spices Yet they entered no city as grand as Nineveh They sought shade by day and the star s pathway by night As his old hooves pushed against the sand Ishtar wondered Will I ever smell the spices of the market again Or is this star leading me to a new

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/star-trek (2016-02-13)
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  • Through the Looking Glass
    Chapel Do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus From Philippians 4 Tribute for the life of prayer Michael Stol Unison Prayer God we bless you for the faithfulness of Riverside Church in prayer and worship in mission fellowship Hallow this space with your Spirit O God Pray through each one who pauses here Fill each yearning heart with the same hope that guided all those who went before us Amen Morrow Hall Windows Tribute for hospitality and fellowship Jesus said The bread of God comes down from heaven and gives life to the world They said to him Sir give us this bread always Jesus answered I am the bread of life Whoever comes to me will never be hungry From John 6 We share bread as Christians on many occasions often around the meal table But the bread we eat is not our only nourishment The company we keep the hand we extend in friendship the welcome we offer in Christ s name these gifts touch as with the presence of Jesus as surely as Communion bread Blue Irises The Hargrave Murray Window Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone The Fenwick Window In Morrow Hall Unison Prayer God we bless you the lives remembered in the gift of these windows and for the fellowship shared through Riverside Church Feed our fellowship with the same warmth expressed through the friendship of all those who went before us Amen Chant Glory and gratitude and praise The Christian Education Wing Windows Classroom One Tribute for Worship through Word Sacraments They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers from Acts 2 The first set of three windows celebrates the heart of our life as Presbyterians worshipping God as a gathered people Jesus followers have been doing this since the very beginning of the church and so worship life continues to sustain everything else we do in Jesus name The Holy Bible The MacLean Window God s Word the apostles teaching which touches us with truth The Descending Dove The Hofer Window Baptism God s Spirit which gathers us in to Christ and fills us with new life The Chalice Grapes The Cooil Window Communion God s Grace broken open and poured out for us in Christ Windows in classroom one Unison Prayer God we bless you for the lives remembered in these windows and for the worship life of Riverside Church Continue to inspire us through the preaching of your Word Touch us with your grace in the Sacraments so we can share communion with all those who went before us Amen Classroom Two The Many Faces of Jesus our Christ Tribute for our faith in Christ Son of God and Son of Mary The next set of windows reminds us that

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/through-the-looking-glass (2016-02-13)
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