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  • That Wonderful World
    but it offered mostly vaudeville acts There were no talkies until well into the 1920s This list makes us stop and wonder at all the changes Hilda s life so far has embraced Then again in 1915 this wonderful world was also worrisome World War One was well underway and that year Canadian forces inhaled chemical weapons at the second battle of Ypres In 1915 Presbyterian John McCrae wrote his famous poem In Flanders Fields In worrisome times how important it is to say with the psalmist even the darkness is not dark to you O Lord We cannot flee from God s presence no matter what our century holds I chose Jesus parable of the baker woman for today partly because Hilda has been an amazing baker in her time strudel kugel cinnamon buns among her favorite treats But the parable imagines the power of God s kingdom rising like dough from the baker woman s kitchen so much dough from one pinch of yeast that the dough expands pushing out the windows maybe lifting off the roof by its quiet determined power That s how the power of God s love works in this wonderful world growing in one little life like Hilda s to nourish many others Just think how her family has grown first as a sister alongside 9 brothers sisters Hilda being the second eldest Then she welcomed her own children and grandchildren now great grandchildren God s love gently expanding her heart with the yeast of the kingdom to embrace each one as uniquely precious Hilda s world grew to include other important Canadians like Mackenzie King and Tommy Douglas his children But Hilda reminded me they re just people too no more important guests in her family s kitchen than anyone else Hilda s heart was also stretched to include God s creatures great and small Many times I visited her home on Braemar Street and watched deer munching on apples she set out for them She told me her father shared this tender heart for animals She remembers going to the circus with him when she was a little girl on the third day it was in town The grownups went by themselves on days one and two Yet she remembers the year her dad stopped going to the circus because he didn t like the way the animals were treated an important life lesson for her about putting our values into action in God s world No wonder Hilda always had a bag of apples for those deer They ll be wondering where she is this fall now it s apple season again What a wonderful world for deer when someone like Hilda makes sure their diet is interesting What a wonderful world for all God s creatures when we think not just about the pleasure we find in them but also about what s good for their wellbeing And that s the force of Jesus parable of the baker woman

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive/422-that-wonderful-world (2016-02-13)
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  • What would Jesus see?
    devotion Instead Jesus saw his need which he could not see for himself I think Jesus looked on him with love because Jesus could see his emptiness though his pockets were full Then the story takes an interesting turn Jesus disciples are simply shocked by Jesus words How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God Undoubtedly they d been raised with Jewish teaching that God rewards obedience with prosperity Riches were supposed to be a sign of righteousness according to some parts of Deuteronomy Proverbs We know this view Ever heard the saying God helps those who help themselves We like to think this is something God says but it certainly does not come from Scripture For let s remember many of the prophets were critical of the rich who flashed their wealth around while neglecting their social responsibilities Like the prophets Jesus had seen how riches turned people inward made them more intent on preserving and increasing wealth for themselves rather than sharing it with others So Jesus surprised his followers with his cartoon image of a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle Now this ridiculous impossibility means to make us stop and think The hapless camel reminds us that to enter God s kingdom we must stop worrying about our place in the economy and put our trust fully in God For when we trust in God rather than our own cleverness or prosperity God can surprise us in ways we never dreamed possible But what does Jesus see when he looks at us Often in our generation I think he will see the attitude of that young pharmaceutical executive He will see more and more people who trust only in what they accumulate for themselves and feel quite justified in keeping all their profits to themselves Like that rich young man who confronted Jesus too many people these day lack any sense of responsibility to help our neighbours who are not so fortunate or successful But what does Thanksgiving mean if we are mostly grateful for our own investment decisions and our ability to ride out the current recession I do worry that more and more we are thankful for what we accumulate for what fills our tables closets savings accounts rather than for the strength God gives us to be faithful to each other and generous with each other when times are tough What does Jesus see when he looks at us these days So think about that question for a moment What does Jesus see when he looks at your life your priorities your anxieties your plans and longings Jesus will look to see what defines your life what or whom you depend upon to give your life meaning I m sure we expect Jesus to notice the importance of our family our friends neighbours how much they mean to us and our best efforts to support them But he might also notice

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  • Remembering and Celebration
    In Korean culture an aged single man or woman wouldn t look forward to it because people will keep on reminding to hurry up and marry If I were to serve meals in Korean traditional style throughout the holiday by myself I wouldn t like it very much because I would be too tired from the preparation And if I were in a bad relationship with someone in my family like Jacob in today s passage I definitely would afraid meeting the person Here in Genesis Chapter 33 Jacob meets his twin brother Esau 20 years later since he fled from his hometown At the beginning of the chapter Jacob is greatly afraid that his brother is going to kill him and his family At the end of the chapter however Jacob finds peace and makes an altar for God This Jacob is not the one that we knew 20 years ago Jacob seems to have changed a lot As far as we remember Jacob was ever clever enough to take his brother s birthright and blessings from his father Isaac He took Esau s birthright in return for some bread and lentil stew and he even boldly lied to his father to get blessings from him Let s read verses 18 to 24 in Chapter 27 to remember what was happening twenty years before Verse 18 starts like this So Jacob went in to his father and said My father and Isaac said Here I am who are you my son Jacob said to him I am Esau your firstborn I have done as you told me now sit up and eat of my game so that you may bless me But Isaac said to Jacob How is it that you have found it so quickly my son Jacob answered Because the Lord your God granted me success Then Isaac said to Jacob Come near that I may feel you my son to know whether you are really my son Esau or not So Jacob went up to his father Isaac who felt him and said The voice is Jacob s voice but the hands are the hands of Esau He did not recognize him because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau s hands so he blessed Jacob Isaac asked Are you really my son Esau Jacob answered I am So certainly Jacob s story is a story of conflict conflict recurring from human desire jealousy and greed So his personality makes us wonder We think his deceitfulness deserves to be punished What can we learn from Jacob s story then What is underlying in this story To answer this question I want to talk about Jacob s internal changes over those 20 years He suffered and struggled while he thought about Esau s upcoming revenge to kill him He suffered because he knew he had wronged his brother But in fact there was no need for reconciliation for him despite the guilty feeling No one was

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  • Be Brave!
    less perfect than those educated in Greek philosophy That view shaped Christian mission work well into the 20 th century colouring how our grandparents looked at Canada s First Nations So too people with physical ailments or cognitive problems were judged less than human and treated as such And our views of sexual orientation are still being shaped by judgments which flow from ancient views of what is perfect making heterosexuality the measure judging anything else perverse Even though we likely grew up not knowing his name Timaeus has influenced how we see the world and decide who is closest to perfection and who falls short Still in our story Bartimaeus this son of philosophy wants to meet Jesus He cries out and some try to hush him up After all he s blind He s not worth their time or attention But Jesus invites him closer Jesus friends call out Be brave Get up He s calling you So Bartimaeus summons his courage throws off his cloak and moves toward the sound of Jesus voice Again the story is rich with symbolism The blind man throws off his beggar s cloak his old life stands virtually naked before Jesus Jesus asks What do you want me to do for you Rabbouni let me see again The philosopher s son wants to throw off the ways of the world and see with new eyes When Jesus hears his desire he opens the blind man s eyes so he can see the face of God He becomes a disciple following Jesus on the way But he must still be brave for it does take bravery to see the world in a fresh way without old familiar categories judgments Mark provoked his listeners by using the name Bartimaeus for his character He was daring those cloaked in the assumptions of their generation and their culture to throw off old ways of looking at the world and see the world as Jesus does Mark now asks us Are we as brave as Bartimaeus Can we throw off the way the world looks at things and go a new way Jesus way Or will we remain blind Today is Reformation Sunday a time to remember our roots in the Protestant tradition At some points in our history Presbyterians did catch a new vision when we were brave enough to look at the world through Jesus eyes Nearly 500 years ago John Calvin bravely declared that women were not misbegotten males but created in the image of God together with men Calvin understood that men and women are called together to play our parts serving God in the world That s why as a church we have a history of educating girls all over the world wanting everyone to develop their God given gifts and do their part in loving and serving our neighbours Of course it did take us another 450 years to decide women could also be leaders in our churches We weren

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  • The Way to Peace
    to join the army Haircut done Went through multiple drills Then he changed into a military uniform taking off his school uniform Now everybody tells me that the winter weather in Medicine Hat is severe But winter in Korea is harsh too sometimes going down below minus 10 degrees It must have been a bitterly cold day in a fierce battle ground A bullet from the North Korea army went through my dad s right arm just below the wrist Immediately blood sprang and spread out all over It must have been one of a shower of bullets Showers of bullets How strong you should be mentally and physically I wondered what he was thinking at that critical moment Was he thinking about his hometown and his mom and dad Was he thinking about his close friends Or he might have been thinking about God and praying to God He was taken to a field hospital and they took the bullet from his arm He was fortunate that his life was saved But he must have been bitter when he saw his comrades were collapsing beside him It was indeed a blessing for our family that he was alive If not he wouldn t have married and had 4 children If not there s no way that I d be here As soon as a cease fire agreement was made in 1953 he got married through a match maker At the wedding my mom was able to peek at my father s face for the first time Then she saw the strange mark the dark bullet wound in my father s lower arm It obviously was not well hidden under the wide sleeves of the Korean traditional costume that he was wearing at the wedding ceremony So you see wars not only affect men but also women For while my father had been spared on the battle field my mom also had a shocking moment in her hometown which she never forgot There were times when the North Korean Army got stronger and stronger In those times North Korean soldiers would come down to the villages searching for men young women and food They were often hungry so they would demand for food If they found men they made them prisoners of war My mom was a teenager in her small village When the village people heard that North Korean soldiers had attacked the village my mom s family hid her the youngest daughter in the family inside a big empty Kimchi jar in the back yard They brought a lot of linens and filled the jar with layers and layers of linen towels Hidden inside the jar my mom was scared to death whenever someone approached the jar But when a North Korean soldier actually opened the jar he did not dig inside it Maybe he simply could not imagine that there was a girl underneath If she d been caught that day she would have been taken to

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  • God of the Living
    brother dies having a wife and he is childless his brother should take the wife and raise up offspring to his brother This is called levirate marriage and it is from the Book of Deuteronomy 25 which reads When brothers live together one of them dies and has no son the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man This law helped the Israelites protect and preserve the nation and their identity The Sadducees continued to ask Jesus There were seven brothers and the first took a wife and died childless And the second and the third took her and in the same way all seven died no children And finally the woman died too In the resurrection therefore which one s wife will she be because all seven had her as wife In response to the Sadducees Jesus points out their misunderstanding about resurrection Resurrection is not a mere extension of life in this world Life in this age is totally different from the age to come In this age people all die so marriage is important to perpetuate lineage but in the age to come there is no death so there is no need to marry and people are like angels becoming children of God Jesus also points out that God is not of the dead but of the living In fact God said to Moses in the burning bush I am the God of the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob God did not say I was the God of them Indeed God is living and present in our lives and our world Everyone is alive from God s perspective When we humble ourselves admitting our sin and death we soon realize an infinite God exists outside of our time space and thoughts and then see God s utmost love and promise for us sending us Jesus for salvation Resurrection from the dead eternal life with God Victor Frankl a Jewish Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist also found that love from God is the hope in our lives Frankl studied hard but before he made himself known the World War II began He was arrested by the Nazi and thrown into a Nazi concentration camp for four years After the war was over Frankl was released from the concentration camp and resumed his career He reflected on his time as a prisoner He noticed something quite strange The people who survived were not always the ones you would expect Many who were physically strong wasted away and died while others who were much weaker physically grew strong and survived He asked himself Why What was it that made them to hang on through a living hell Finally Victor Frankl came up with his own theory The difference between those who survived and those who perished was hope Those who survived never gave up their belief that their lives had meaning Meaning to live Drive for

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2015-archive/437-god-of-the-living (2016-02-13)
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  • Here or Hereafter?
    a vision for here and now not hereafter And so Daniel s vision challenging God s people to keep the faith fed the visions of another prophet nearly 300 years later A follower of Jesus named John sat in exile on the isle of Patmos watching fellow Christians face similar threats and hard choices In John s day about 60 years after Jesus death and resurrection the threats weren t Greek in origin Now they were Roman There was a different emperor on the throne but one just as convinced about his own divinity his right to be worshipped by all his subjects as that Greek conqueror in Daniel s day John knew his scriptures He was inspired by Daniel s courageous conviction But now with a passion for Jesus in his heart John can identify Daniel s anonymous Son of Man Jesus now sits on the throne and reigns in spite of all the threatening powers which challenge him For Jesus has defied death and encourages his followers to keep the faith to reject the demands and enticements of the emperor no matter what the cost remain loyal to the one true God You see the Book of Revelation is not a road map to heaven in some distant place and time The Book of Revelation is testimony to encourage God s saints here and now Its awe inspiring vision is a reminder that Christ is King Jesus is Lord And if we dare say these words in our time then our loyalty is on the line today here and now Whatever eternal destination God has in mind for us what matters is our decision to stay true to Christ each and every day We might consider these two visions of God s throne room as visual creeds ancient affirmations that God is still in charge despite evidence to the contrary or flickering doubts in the hearts of believers facing immense challenges These are visions for here and now not hereafter They intend to motivate Jesus followers day by day to remember the teaching and example of Jesus and find hope and courage in his name to face whatever each day holds In a sense these visions are like modern mission statements which sum up an organization s core commitment and energize actions to carry out its purpose Now you may not know St John s has a mission statement meant to state our core convictions energize our action in Jesus name It was worked out in 1995 But it s not exactly a visual wonder like Daniel s or John s It is a bit wordy It doesn t exactly leap off the page or get you up and at em every morning So the Session has been reconsidering our mission statement Should we rephrase it to reflect who we are now as part of Christ s body Do we have new priorities for our mission ministry given all the changes around us since 1995 But we re

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  • What are you waiting for?
    is standing right beside you and something new is afoot Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary 22 When he did come out he could not speak to them and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak When his time of service was ended he went home After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she remained in seclusion She said 25 This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth and she bore a son 58 Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her and they rejoiced with her 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father No he is to be called John 61 They said to her None of your relatives has this name 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give the child 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote His name is John And all of them were amazed Reflection What are you waiting for Elizabeth Elizabeth what are you waiting for going into seclusion for five months Do you think by disappearing that your neighbours won t talk Do you think they ll quit gossiping about you and Zechariah because you re staying inside Are you waiting to prove them wrong To show them once and for all it wasn t your fault there hadn t been a child before now Elizabeth my dear we all feel for you In one way or another we all know what it s like when everyone else has an opinion about what s happened to us We can sympathize if every member of your family had a little piece of advice for you and Zechariah advice on how to conceive how to get results advice that seemed like pressure advice that seemed like none of their business But then you go into hiding What are you waiting for Elizabeth For human nature to change and busy bodies to hold their tongues Elizabeth people will always want a say in what they don t understand So don t give those who judged you to be a failure the last word Don t give into your embarrassment Or your desire to avoid your critics Hiding is a kind of surrender Hiding surrenders our dignity our importance to God and confirms what the world thinks of us But Elizabeth your name means God is my abundance You are too important to God to hide yourself away because your neighbours made life uncomfortable Now you are bearing a child of promise God is your abundance So choose your

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