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  • What God won't do
    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 this grudge a little bit longer is that showing mercy or forgiveness Since choosing life is choosing those thing that show love justice and kindness then as a community we are called to choose life so that each of us can know trust and grace and all of

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/297-what-god-wont-do?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • Checking the Foundations
    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 as a solid foundation for future generations Today s meeting is all about building on the foundation in Christ laid by those who ve gone before us But it s also worth pondering for a moment how each one of us builds up our own life of faith

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/298-checking-the-foundations?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • Taking Something On
    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 move away from God completely to turn away from that relationship Often we feel or know this same temptation to make our identity about only us But the fact is that is impossible we are who we are only because of others because of God only because of

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/300-taking-something-on?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • Hope Again
    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 find those things in life that we can hear or feel the call from God in and vocation is finding those things in life that give us hope And when I think about it those times when we feel furthest from God and those times when it doesn

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/301-hope-again-?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • Unnecessary Weight
    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 and asked every question that had been running through my mind Anyway to make this long story a little shorter there was a long exchange of emails back and forth between the two of us with each one lifting a little more weight off for both of us

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/302-unnecessary-weight?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • A piece of the action
    with great difficulty Our church kept a pastoral eye on them and took them gift cards or hampers to help them along When I opened their envelope I found a cheque for 25 I knew they needed every penny so I looked at them puzzled The husband spoke up We sold a family heirloom that chest of drawers near the front door We made 250 This is our tithe I was truly humbled Yes our little church could use that money but so could that little family I learned about fearless generosity that day what it means to give with complete trust in God not worrying about what might happen So who is your model of such trusting generosity And now I have one more question I ve been pondering this week a question related to our theme for the pledge campaign Abundant Joy Can you think of a time when you felt joyful not just happy or content but truly joyful In John s Gospel Jesus uses the example of a woman giving birth After all the painful hours of labour the panting and the pushing and maybe even the cursing once the baby is born and pronounced safe healthy there is joy As Jesus says When her child is born a mother no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world How else could there be a second or third child in any family Fathers and grandparents will have felt that joy too when you saw your cherished little one for the first time A successful birth in the family is an occasion for joy But not having given birth I had to ask myself when I had felt a moment of joy transforming my life And I remembered the day my first book arrived from the publisher a different kind of baby to hold I was jumping up and down I wanted to wave it in the face of all my colleagues And then there was the day we heard Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa We started to dance around the office where I worked The dancing spilled out into the streets of Toronto and soon thousands of people were celebrating joyfully As I reflected on all these rather different occasions for joy I realized that we can t actually make ourselves joyful We don t get up in the morning and flip a switch saying Today I am going to be joyful No I think joy erupts in our lives when we share in a piece of something amazing a piece of God s action bringing goodness into the world Giving birth is not only the labour of a mother Her bundle of joy embodies the hopes dreams of a whole family and even the community which will help raise it Publishing a book is not just the accomplishment of an author There is a team of editors reviewers readers who have to

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/303-a-piece-of-the-action?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • As precious as a drop of water
    we use water to drink to bath wash clothes or cars swim ski Today let s remember how precious every drop of water we use is In baptism we use just a few drops of water to touch us with God s love but every drop is precious and important just like you are So now remembering that drop of water on your finger let s listen to a story about Jesus and water found in the Gospel of John 13 1 20 We celebrate Baptism in Jesus name When someone is baptized God tells us how much God loves us God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to live a life like ours to show us what loves looks like in a life like ours When someone is baptized the water on their heads tells us God will wash away anything that goes wrong in our lives if we keep trying to follow Jesus The water seals God s love for us like a kiss when we re hurt to promise us things will get better because God s love will never let us go When someone is baptized we remember how important it is to be God s servants like Jesus was just like Jesus said in the story we heard When we re baptized we promise to live as God s servants and put God s love into our lives every day like Jesus did You can be baptized at any age young or old whenever you want to receive God s love to help you grow in love First there are some questions for us to answer so we can make our promises to God out loud where the world can hear us To those who are to be baptized Do you love our Lord Jesus as your friend and saviour A I do Do you want to be his friend and follower showing his love in your life and serving him day by day A I do Will you be a faithful member of our Church sharing in worship and work as best you can growing in faith wherever God s Spirit leads you A I will Amen To the family of those to be baptized Will you help your family keep their promises and grow in faith together blessed by God s Spirit A We will Amen To the members of St John s We are a family of God s people called to care for each other and serve with each other in Jesus name Will you walk with the Stewart family day by day and year by year so we all grow in faith together blessed by God s Spirit A We will Amen Prayer over the water God of love you water the earth to help it grow Your Son Jesus washed his friends feet to help them grow in faith Your love pours down on us like rain to help us grow day by day So now pour

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/306-as-precious-as-a-drop-of-water?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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  • Red Carpet Treatment
    crowd is still intrigued by Jesus wonders but on Palm Sunday there comes a moment when the Wow factor begins to fade Of course the Wow factor on every red carpet doesn t last forever I missed the telecast of the Oscars this year and when I checked the Monday news for the winners the knives were already out There were scathing reviews of some stars gowns and lots of commentary on who said what and how could they say that If we get swept up by celebrity in our red carpet moments it seems we can t wait to sweep a few celebrities under that carpet the very next day Like all the hype around Justin Bieber this year s Junos Did this troubled young star deserve an award Would he show up Would we want him if he did Star power can fade These days red carpet treatment includes the right to criticize sarcastic comments and day after reviews which deny we were ever excited by the parade of stars passing our way We shouldn t be surprised then when those Palm Sunday hosannas for Jesus die out before the week is done Indeed it is what Jesus expects In fact it s what Jesus wants us to realize His glory is not a factor of star power and rave reviews in the popular press His glory overturns what the world considers glory Glory is not your name up in lights or a glittering statue in your hand Glory is found in giving yourself away to serve God s purposes in the world no matter the cost Jesus chooses the image of a seed to make his point A seed is full of potential of new life nourishment and beauty Yet to produce that new life the seed has to die The seed gives its all to let the plant break through ground sending roots deep so fruit can blossom The seed has completely disappeared when its gift is ready to be savoured But in a generation attracted to the selfie those pictures of ourselves we snap for Facebook tweets giving yourself away is not our image of celebrity or glory We recall stars from many generations who gave themselves away to early tragic death Marilyn Munroe Elvis Presley Kurt Kobain Cory Monteith Their glory will always be haunted by their tragic end The world does not deal well with fallen stars And yet Jesus is willing to become a fallen star in order to show us that God s way is not the way of the red carpet God s way is the path of service serving each other not ourselves serving those others who sometimes get in our way troubling us serving even our enemies in order that God s ways of peace and mercy will prevail The king who comes on the donkey will have it no other way He does not care if the world has gone after him For he knows that the

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/307-red-carpet-treatment?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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