archive-ca.com » CA » S » STJOHNSMEDICINEHAT.CA

Total: 543

Choose link from "Titles, links and description words view":

Or switch to "Titles and links view".
  • Heavenly Minded
    old Abraham had to camp along the way living tents we re told not reserving rooms at the Ramada Inns of the ancient world His faith sustained him in such precarious places trusting God as the architect builder of his future Against all odds God opened up that future even though Abraham was old as good as dead says the text and Sarah barren This odd old couple produced descendants as many as the stars of heaven as innumerable as the grains of sand at the seashore We are part of their amazing legacy Without the invisible power of their faith we wouldn t be here continuing the eternal journey they began So what do you think about heaven Are you attracted to the moment the instant encounter when God knocks on your door Or does it make sense to imagine yourself on a journey sustained by the invisible force of your faith moving towards a destination you can t quite picture yet one that calls you to act with assurance on your convictions In our bridge conversation I d say the image of the heavenward journey had more appeal We imagined God walking with us through time as we know it now then staying with us beyond time as we move through the door into eternity continuing with us toward that destination of hope and renewal Because few of us have everything all wrapped up the instant the Maker knocks on our door we wanted to trust that God will take all the time God needs to walk with us in the time beyond time to heal our hurts point out our failings and say Good on you for our better moments as we move deeper and deeper into heaven s mystery together On heaven s journey God will show mehow all the pieces fit of life together reshaped by God s grace Of course this is all speculation on my part but my faith in Jesus Christ assures me that I can live in this hope trusting God to sort out my life as my journey continues in this world and the next Now lots of people don t spend much time wondering or worrying about heaven any more But certainly people used to those like St Augustine who delayed baptism until they were on their deathbed so they could be assured of having every sin forgiven and a key to heaven in their hands when they died Others of his era were convinced women turned into men at death in order to be fit for heaven Go figure But we ve also heard the saying She s so heavenly minded she s no earthly good the ultimate dismissal of impractical pietymore concerned with the hereafter than here and now realities Is there any point in being heavenly minded Well Hebrews offers a thought provoking line to mull over Verse 16 says God is not ashamed to be called their God The writer has Abraham Sarah their family

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/258-heavenly-minded (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive


  • The Milkshake Queen
    the overflowing love and mercy and grace Jesus pictured for us there A thick creamy milkshake overflowing its glass came to mind Must be the hot weather God s generosity refreshes and restores us day by day God s generosity flavours our lives with abundance It calls us to worship week by week to celebratethat refreshing abundance poured out for us in Jesus living dying and rising Jesus words in Luke invite us to live lives overflowing with similar generosity So do you think of yourself as a generous person Does your life overflow with kindness to refresh and restore the people you meet Perhaps most Presbyterians are raised to be too modest to make that claim for ourselves But a few years ago the Presbyterian Church in Canada studied what makes people generous Folk were invited to nominate individuals from their churches who embodied the spirit of generosity in remarkable ways Those nominated were invited for interviews The conversations were revealing Mostly the interviewees were very surprised someone had named them as particularly generous They were very humble about their own generous deeds because they all remembered someone else in their own lives who had touched them generously years before And that original generous act had made them so grateful they were inspired to pay it forward as the saying goes being generous to others whenever they could knowing how a little generosity can change your life Now I ve told this story before in sermons over the last few years Once a woman approached me during coffee hour She was quite disturbed by the thought that generosity could be a measure of your spiritual life She explained she d grown up watching her parents who felt they d been cheated out of an inheritance They were bitter and resentful and hung on to every penny fearful there would never be enough They criticized others who seemed to have more than they needed those who could be generous The woman felt afraid ever to risk giving any more than she knew she could easily afford My sermon on generosity left her quite uneasy But there s no avoiding this theme in the Gospels Jesus teaching is filled with examples of generosity not only in what we have to share with others in kind but also in our attitudes how we measure each other as surely we do Jesus said You can get by just loving those people who love you but what difference does that make Anybody can love somebody who loves them back Sure you can do good things to those who have treated you well but any civilized person will do that Go ahead lend money to someone who can pay you back next pay day but that s no big deal Banks and loan sharks can do that much No said Jesus if we want to think of ourselves as children of God we have to be generous He dared us with these words Love your

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/260-the-milkshake-queen (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • A Place at the Table
    watched for opportunities to move up the ladder treading carefully yet always desiring a better place at the table But Jesus had a different vision for God s people We are to bestow honour on each other because true honour is rooted in God s love and mercy It s something we can t earn and don t deserve yet it s a gift and privilege to cherish when God honours us with a place at God s table I tasted what it means to have such honour bestowed in an unforgettable moment several years ago In Vancouver I worked with the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church as their interim moderator advisor What was supposed to be a six month post turned into more than six years working together In return my Taiwanese friends were very generous to me inviting me to many community occasions as well as church dinners So I received a free ticket to a fund raising dinner they planned to honour the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize that year Jose Ramos Horta Now in case you don t know his name Horta has just completed his term as President of East Timor But at that time he was an opposition leader in exile The Nobel Committee honoured him for his peaceful advocacy on behalf of East Timorese independence and justice I was very interested to hear him speak When I arrived that evening I chatted with my Taiwanese friends who showed me to my table beside their pastor The tables were large and round seating 10 or 12 people As other guests joined our table I recognized a Vancouver MP MLA and someone from City Hall I smiled one of those You have no idea who I am smiles When the time for dinner arrived someone else was ushered to the empty chair on my right Jose Ramos Horta himself I had the privilege of speaking with him throughout the meal as all those other dignitaries looked on I realized my Taiwanese hosts had placed him beside me their minister on purpose It was their way of honouring their Church leaders knowing we understood Mr Horta s human rights concerns perhaps even better than the politicians at our table But I felt completely humbled by the privilege honoured to be in his presence and hear his stories first hand Remembering that evening reminds me of how it feels to receive an honour we haven t earned don t deserve an honour offered as a gift and privilege by those who see us with different eyes That s the way we should appreciate the gift privilege of God s love and acceptance of forgiveness and mercy Our place at God s table is just such an occasion to be raised up in the presence of someone beyond our league yet who turns to us with interest and attention engaging us in a moment that changes our lives In that moment we know our true humility and yet find

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/261-a-place-at-the-table (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive



  • The Wonder of it All
    proper relation Only the mystery of God can hold such complexities together and still allow me that deep breath of wonder Of course a child looking at the night sky wonders something else Nancy can astronauts see God or angels flying around God will have to wear an air mask you know because there s no air in space A child sometimes struggles with the human terms we often use to describe God taking them literally rather than as hints from human experience to help us appreciate how God is connected to us For God is not limited by the physical forces that shape our lives the gravity that keeps our feet on the ground or the mix of gases we breathe for the oxygen our bodies need Yet literal minded children can sense God s mystery too in ways that make smile and give us pause for thought Listen to Natalie who was only 4 years old as we walked up the road toward the beach Suddenly she stopped and gestured at the sky God isn t just up there you know He s down here with us He s in my heart And your heart She paused and looked into the field beside us He s in the sheep s heart As she looked at the ground she nodded And he s in the stone s heart too I suppose Natalie might have heard Psalm 139 at church but whether or not she knew it her words convey in a delightful way its sense of God s vast presence and also the intimacy we enjoy with God when we trust God loves each precious piece of this wondrous creation The third stanza of the psalm invites us to marvel this intimacy Let s read it together Leader O God it was you who formed my inward parts you knit me together in my mother s womb People I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made Leader Wonderful are your works that I know very well People My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret intricately woven in the depths of the earth Leader Your eyes beheld my unformed substance People In your book were written all the days that were formed for me when none of them as yet existed Leader How weighty to me are your thoughts O God How vast is the sum of them People I try to count them they are more than the sand I come to the end I am still with you Here is Natalie s confidence that she knows God from the inside out because God has been with her from the womb That phrase you knit me together uses a Hebrew verb which pictures embroidery So imagine God with needle and fine thread stitching the details of our character talent into our bones Fearfully and wonderfully made Here is the kind of attentiveness to detail we marvel at in the perfection

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/262-the-wonder-of-it-all (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Point of View
    and its food looks good to an empty stomach In that far country there s no charity for a guy down on his luck He has hit rock bottom never imagining he d lose it all including his dignity The final lines in this scene stir up controversy though Some people imagine the young man being quite cagey thinking Dad s place is better than this I ll go see if he ll put me on staff These people don t see anything genuine in his decision to go back home But others focus on that line He came to himself Even though he d run as far away as he could from everything he d known growing up he still was himself deep inside And so he goes home hat in hand not sure how he ll be received willing to sleep in the barn in return for a square meal What s your point of view on this young man as he heads home Is he full of remorse or playing his old man one more time Scene two But while the younger son was still far off his father saw him and was filled with compassion he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him Then the son said to him Father I have sinned against heaven and before you I am no longer worthy to be called your son But the father said to his slaves Quickly bring out a robe the best one and put it on him put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet And get the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate for this son of mine was dead and is alive again he was lost and is found And they began to celebrate Now the father takes centre stage His actions would have surprised his neighbours He runs out for a public reunion with the son who shamed him made him the talk even the pity of his neighbours Those neighbours are thinking Have a little self respect Moshe Let the boy apologize But no the father is filled with compassion a word used of God over and over again in the psalms He produces all the symbols of belonging robe ring feast to declare to his neighbours that his wayward son is still part of the family The welcome home party would be remembered for years in the village Everyone would come A fatted calf was food for a crowd So do you share the father s point of view Can you share his joy at his boy s return Could you offer such generous compassion for a lad who learned his lesson the hard way Jesus is beginning to test us here Do we appreciate this father s spontaneous generous welcome Or do we want to talk a little sense to him Don t go too far too fast He ll just take advantage of you all over again

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/264-point-of-view (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Shrewd Saints?
    we find in Luke s gospel are full of odd characters The good Samaritan was not a typical hero The priests Levites who passed by the wounded man were the guys usually wearing the white Stetsons Last week it was the wasteful wandering son who received his father s embrace while the obedient proper brother stood outside scowling Luke delights in Jesus unusual characters the woman who wears God s face as she searched for the lost coin Zaccheus the tax collector turned charitable benefactor Mary Martha those hospitable sisters who couldn t get along Almost every character Jesus celebrates is upsetting somebody s apple cart And this week I guess it was mine But it is when Scripture makes us feel uncomfortable when we sense we are resisting the point of a story that we have to look more carefully at that story and why we re resisting it Our point of resistance is exactly the point where God is speaking directly to us So let s think a little more about Jesus conclusion When he speaks about the children of this world he uses a word that could be translated secular In essence he s saying Okay people of faith my children you have something to learn from the secular people around you who know how to speak to this generation The scholars I read this week argued that Jesus isn t recommending we cook the books or cheat our bosses out of something It s not dishonesty Jesus commends What Jesus and the boss in the story admire is the manager s daring to secure his future at the tables in the homes of people he normally wouldn t bother with This shrewd calculating manager seeks friends in unlikely places It s as if a cunning loan officer rewrote mortgages during the 2008 crisis so people hanging on by a thread could actually keep their homes no matter what bank policy said Imagine how popular such a loan officer would have been back then The people whose houses he d saved would ve consider him a saint a shrewd saint They d welcome him for dinner for sure So Jesus is really asking us as people of faith children of light how daring we can be to secure the future of God s kingdom With whom could we make common cause in order to promote the future God is creating At least a couple of books I read this week propose that we followers of Jesus need to be a little more shrewd a little un orthodox in our allegiances and collaborations in order to open up a new future for God s people While I was mulling over this suggestion the government of Quebec was all over the news with its proposed charter of Quebec values appealing blatantly I think to those who fear the visible minorities they see on the streets and in the news So does the parable suggest we d join Pauline Marois

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/265-shrewd-saints (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • God's Family First
    Father Frog smiled and said Just try your best You re a good hopper For the race they had to hop down the path through the mud at the edge of the pond then swim across the pond and hop up a hill to the finish line When Scout Master Leatherlips blew his starting whistle Fergie took a good leap hopping down hill But the mud slowed him down And in the pond Roger swam right past him Fergie nearly caught up to Roger on the hill but Roger crossed the finish line a nose ahead Webster came third puffing hard as he finished I came second this time complained Fergie with a big sigh I ll never win Did you try your best asked his father Fergie nodded Well that s what counts Winning isn t everything you know But winning feels so much better Fergie said Thinking about the story When we try our best to do something we often try hard and get tired And even when we try our best things may not work out just the way we wanted Still it s good to know we tried our best We know we ve done all we can Do you ever think about trying hard trying your very best to do something for God When God asks us to do important things in the world like loving our neighbours or helping someone in trouble it s important to try our best to see how we can make a difference But even if it doesn t work out quite the way we planned I think God is glad to know that we tried our best and put heart mind strength and soul into what we do for God s sake Chant Love the Lord your God with all your heart Love the Lord your God with all your soul Love the Lord your God with all your mind Love the Lord your God with all that you are Scene Three The next contest was for arts and crafts The frogs could make whatever they liked Paint or draw or write a story Make something or sing a song Whatever comes from your soul said Scout Master Leatherlips Where s my soul Fergie asked his Mum Mother Frog thought for a minute Your soul is what makes you special It is what makes you different from every other frog in the world It s where your dreams live And where your tears and your laughter come from Fergie tried making different things that week He made a mud sculpture of a dragonfly but then he jumped on it when Freddie asked him what it was If you can t tell what it is I won t win Fergie didn t feel good about any of the things he made The night of the judging he left the house with a piece of paper in his pocket No one knew what he d done Roger was called on first

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/266-gods-family-first (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • The Best Gift Ever
    watched a news reportafter the horrific attack on that shopping mall in Kenya CBC interviewed a Canadian who survived the attack a young woman who d been shopping with her sister that day She was uninjured though her sister sustained quite serious bullet wounds You can imagine the kind of questions the journalist asked what she saw how she escaped how she was feeling But then she was asked how surviving this terrifying ordeal would affect her going forward I was rather annoyed at the interviewer thinking How can someone answer that question just two days after such an overwhelming experience But the young woman rose to occasion She said I used to think life was my right that I was entitled to everything I enjoyed Now I know that every moment is a gift Her clarity caught me by surprise She recognized on camera she had just received the best gift ever her life and the opportunity never to take it for granted again Her words came back to me this week when I read the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus on his way to Jerusalem on his way toward the cross Though leprosy was not a fatal condition it was the kind of visible disability which made lepers outcasts They had to warn anyone approaching to keep away So we re told those lepers kept their distance from Jesus even while they cried out for his mercy They needed a gift not just to cure their skin disease but also to heal their place in society They needed the gift of an opportunity to rejoin their families and belong once again And that s the gift Jesus gave them when he sent them to the priests to have their healing confirmed their new social status blessed Undoubtedly this was the best gift anyone could have given them the best gift ever But only one of them recognized the gift and returned to Jesus to say thanks Now it seems Jesus was either puzzled or annoyed that just one leper took the time to show his thanks And that one leper turned out to be a Samaritan someone despised in those days for belonging to the wrong religion Jesus couldn t fathom that this foreigner was the only one to recognize his healing as God s gift Of course we don t know anything about those other lepers but I wonder if they simply viewed healing as their right restoring them to their rightful place in society and settling the injustice of being outcasts Were they just determined to go back to business as usual at long last But the woman who survived the mall attack and the Samaritan leper remind us that life is God s gift vulnerable and precious And when that gift has been put at risk through violence or disease or social discrimination we come to value it even more deeply when life is restored to us No more business as usual

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2013-archive/268-the-best-gift-ever (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive



  •