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  • Liquid Mountaineering
    him is selling the story short If all we take from this story is that we should have strong faith when we hop out of the boat then we aren t taking away anything about what Jesus actually does Because what Jesus actually did in this story was reach down and take Peter s hand when he began to drown I keep trying to put myself in Peter s place I ve never been in a situation where someone has literally had to grab onto my hand and pull me up to save me I guess there was one time when I almost fainted and a nice man who I didn t know noticed I was going to topple over soon and he took my hand and helped me sit down Maybe you have a similar story But I m not sure if what I felt in that moment were the same feelings Peter would have had I would imagine that before Jesus got him up into the boat and before he felt maybe relief and safety he felt ashamed ashamed that he took that big step and almost drowned and ashamed that Jesus had commanded him to do something and he literally floundered I think shame is something we can all definitely identify with I think the worries and problems in life that make us feel ashamed are the ones that can make us feel like we re drowning the most and are the ones that can make us feel the most like Peter in this story This is the kind of worry where we feel like the pressure is all on us We feel like its something we can t talk about with anyone else it feels like we are in it on our own and that nobody has ever felt the way we re feeling It can be insanely difficult and isolating and we ve all been there We ve all been there whether the problem was big or small and whether it had to do with ourselves with our family with our money with our relationships or with anything else affecting our day to day lives As much as Jesus can t take away problems we face he can lift us up from them a bit or a lot and help us to get back in the boat so at least it doesn t feel like we re swirling around with the waves drowning When we re back in the boat we re looking at the waves from a much healthier perspective Our problems and worries may not be gone but it doesn t feel like we re drowning in them anymore We hear Jesus call to Peter to trust him and his call to the disciples to not be afraid but fear comes in many forms and trust is sometimes hard to give In the fake video I told you about no matter how hard those guy tried and in our own lives no mater

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  • Practicing what we preach
    for dog in this story is kunarios which actually means little dogs or puppies So perhaps Jesus was actually saying It s not fair to take away children s bread and feed it to the puppies Does this take the sting out of Jesus response to the woman that at all It doesn t really make me feel better about it Neither of these attempts really clean up this story for us or do enough to explain away Jesus strange behavior Matthew is showing us a very human Jesus He s in a foreign land with his disciples and is focused on his mission to the lost sheep of Israel his people Matthew is also not subtle in his description of this woman who comes to Jesus and his disciples while they are on this mission He calls her Canaanite which is odd because at this point in time the term Canaanite wouldn t have been used But by using that term he portrays this woman not only as an other but also as an enemy She s someone who you would not expect to approach Jesus She is an outsider Not one of Jesus or the disciple s people So after reading some of these things I then came across a question posed by a minister about what might be going on here in this story He asked Is it possible for Jesus to learn For me that opened everything up Perhaps this feisty faithful woman a complete stranger and an outsider pushed Jesus to reconsider something to learn and to grow I don t think when we ask this we re questioning Jesus as the Son of God but we re now wondering about how God s own purposes might have gradually unfolded throughout Jesus life and ministry We see that unfolding taking place in this story If Jesus can learn he learned through this outsider woman that God s kingdom and mission are much much bigger than he may have initially imagined or dreamed and that he was not there just for the lost sheep of Israel but for everybody Something else I learned this week that was awesome is this This story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman is placed in between two feeding stories in Matthew The first feeding story is where 5000 were fed After this there were 12 baskets of bread left over The number 12 in the bible was often used to represent the 12 tribes of Israel the traditional divisions of the ancient Jewish people But then the second feeding story that comes after is the feeding of the four thousand but after this feeding there are seven baskets left over Seven is a number that means wholeness completeness encompassing all nations Jesus fed the Five thousand but then the Canaanite woman taught him that even as an outsider she deserved more than crumbs After this he went on to feed those who had not yet been fed Usually when we

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  • The Pet in the Pit
    than the human heart can muster So if we ve ever been inside that circle of jealous brothers resenting someone who received more favour than we have it is worth remembering God has good intentions for us too as well as the pet in the pit However consider the fact that this old story has been reminding us for nearly three thousand years how playing favourites can bring so much bitterness pain into human relationships Still after all this time we seem not to have learned its lesson Think about it Our society is plagued by favouritism and the resentment it provokes We have only to think about the uproar which ensues when a politician hires a friend in a juicy role or bureaucrats use their position to benefit at public expense or CEOs receive bonuses worth more than most of us will see in a lifetime Virtually every week such events remind us how much people still resent favoritism and how often we vote against it at the next opportunity You d think our leaders would know better after 3000 years But the same dynamic can even emerge in religious life When I served a two point charge in Ontario I had people in each church say to me that they were convinced their previous minister liked the other church better but they were sure I liked their church best Really I was just glad we all seemed to get along But at an even deeper level churches and religious traditions are often engaged in a tug of war over God s approval God loves our church my church best God loves Christians Jews Muslims my group best We don t like favouritism in our families or society and yet we all want to be someone s favourite God s favourite But if today s story from Genesis shows us the cost of playing favourites then Matthew s story reveals God s response to the pain and division favoritism can create One interpreter I read calls Matthew s story the feeding of the 20 000 reckoning that most of those 5000 men would have had a wife and a few children in tow all those women and children Matthew didn t bother to count Faced by this huge crowd of fans and hangers on at first Jesus disciples could only see the problem too many hungry people and nothing to share They pleaded with Jesus Send them away to find something to eat They have no claim on us Let them look after themselves But Jesus was emphatic You he says You give them something to eat You is repeated twice in the Greek text Jesus wants his disciples to know he means it You give them something to eat No excuses Then as the miracle of sharing unfolds Matthew uses the four verbs from the story of the Last Supper Jesus took blessed broke and gave the food on hand to the whole crowd These four verbs come

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  • The Right Place and the Right Time
    someone so powerful Remember Joseph knows already what it costs to fall out of favour with powerful people Will his head be on the block again It s not easy to tell hard truth to people in power but that s what Joseph does He finds the courage to say what he knows to be true trusting the unwelcome truth is nevertheless God s truth Seven years of plenty will be followed by 7 gruelling gruesome years of drought famine and hunger Having delivered this bad news Joseph then has the spunk to propose agricultural policy to Pharaoh He must now insist that 20 of production in every year of plenty be held in reserve It s the kind of enforced savings plan no elected politician would want to propose Who wants to save for coming disaster when everything seems to be coming up roses Save 20 every year You re kidding Pharaoh We d rather stick our heads in the sand But Pharaoh takes Joseph at his word He perceives the wisdom in Joseph s hard truth Perhaps Pharaoh even admires the courage it takes to tell an absolute monarch what he doesn t want to hear So Joseph is invited to head up Egypt s first national wheat pool banking all that grain before anyone but Joseph is totally sure it will be needed Joseph finds himself in the right place at the right time to implement the wisdom of God not just for his own welfare but for the welfare of all Egyptians and it turns out for the welfare of the whole civilized world including Joseph s own family We can see God s greater plan unfolding in this story maneuvering Joseph into the place he needs to be But I think it is also worth seeing the human dynamics at work how much courage it took for Joseph to deliver bad news to forecast famine and hunger to a ruler who would prefer to hear his kingdom was under control What strikes me in the unfolding of Joseph s story is how the boy who was once a favorite has learned not to play favorites Joseph has become a man of integrity not someone who curries the favour of powerful people but someone who sticks to his principles and delivers the hard truth he knows to be God s truth This is the calling of people of faith to say what we know to be true no matter what the cost While I reflected on this story and its message I remembered two professors who lost their posts at a leading Canadian university a few years ago because they dared to publish results of drug trials unfavorable to drug companies who donated to that University Now I m a graduate of that University and I was deeply disappointed that my university would censor results which might be crucial to all our health well except the healthy bank balance of certain drug companies It seems to

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  • Face to Face
    sermons Speaking as someone who tends not to enjoy singing in public I looked forward to the songs in the service every night and by the end of the week had picked out a number as personal favourites As for the sermons they did an excellent job of expressing the love that God has for everyone Discussions ranged from breaking down the walls between us and God to feelings of inadequacy when faced with His grace and every discussion found a way of making me feel at ease and confident that God was in control making sure that everything would work out in the end It s so easy to think of God as being so much greater than us and so much more powerful than us And while this is true being at CY taught me that God does not use this to distance himself from us but rather to be closer to us all the time To close I have a quote from one of the sermons Jeff the minister mentioned a book that came out a number of years ago entitled I m Okay You re Okay some of you may have heard of it To paraphrase he stated I don t agree with that title I think a much better title would have been I m Not Okay You re Not Okay And That s Okay And when we see God face to face it always is okay Head Heart and Hands Trevor s CY Workshop Prior to the Canada Youth 2014 conference each attendee was asked to select three workshops to take part in during the week One of the ones that I participated in was titled Head Heart and Hands Taken from the discussion guide the purposes of the workshop were as follows 1 Explore the roles of the minister of word and sacrament ruling elder and other 2 Seek to discover how you are called to serve the church in your own way great or small Personally of the two the latter spoke to me more as my current course of study and interests are not exactly directing me towards a position as a minister or clergyman However it was nonetheless interesting learning about the attire of a minister their responsibilities and lifestyle and an assortment of other things required if one is to pursue that path During the workshop it was also discussed that learning about the expectations for a minister could help us with deciding if a minister was competent and trustworthy enough to be giving sermons and leading a congregation As such I joked with Nancy upon returning that I would be reviewing her services to see if she was going about everything properly don t worry she is The meat of the workshop for me however discussed the role that an individual has in the church As someone who does not see themselves seeking a career in the church I sometimes wonder if whatever I end up doing with my life will be good enough for God However this workshop raised an interesting point stating that we all give glory to God simply by doing hard work and or doing our best in whatever career path we have chosen In return God will take care of the harvest making sure that we are able to provide for ourselves and for others in our life A welder gives glory to God by taking care to make sure every weld is sturdy and accurate A computer programmer glorifies God by diligently seeking out every last bug in the code God uses everything in your life to prepare you for the point you are at now so feeling a calling for something other than missionary work counseling or ministry is simply God s way of saying I know what you are good at so do that to glorify me Money Matters Madison s CY Workshop One of the classes I chose on my trip to CY was called Money Matters I chose this because I am a young adult soon to be out on my own and money is an important part of living successfully on earth The course talked about making money spending money saving money and giving money I am thankful to God every day that I have a great job where I get to pursue my interests spend time with my friends and make a good income so I m not too worried about making money Another thing I am thankful for is how my parents raised me to be responsible and at peace with what I have I spend money on things I need like food and electricity and only a little bit of money on things that I like like books and clothes So spending money wisely is something I have a pretty good understanding about Saving money is the other side of the spending money coin Since I don t spend very much I save a lot But the one thing I wanted to learn about above all the rest was giving money In the Old Testament of the Bible it says that Christians should tithe which means to give one tenth or 10 of their earnings to the Church That is a very specific order but it can also be a bit confusing I wanted to know if the Church has to be specifically the place that you go to church or if other things can be included under that name If I wanted to give money for example to our church but I also wanted to donate to Charity Water a company that builds wells in poor countries so they can have safe water to drink do I have to give 10 to the church and then other money I have to Charity Water or can that donation be a part of my 10 that I am giving What I learned at Money Matters is that giving is a personal decision God calls every

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  • Risking Mercy
    I say to you Do not resist an evildoer If anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn the other also You have heard it said You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy But I say to you Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you for God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous Here Jesus is saying that God risks mercy on us all every day He invites us to take the same risk not only with our children whom we love but also with our enemies whom we do not Matthew concludes the passage Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect Luke puts the same teaching this way Be merciful just as your Father is merciful From Genesis to Jesus Scripture upholds mercy as God s preference From Genesis to Jesus God s people are urged to risk mercy and so act in God s own way But mercy is a rare commodity on the world s exchange From schoolyard opportunities to strike back to the religious conflicts of our time marred by mortars beheadings and invasions even people of faith do not trust the power of mercy We think it s naïve We think it s foolish and too risky But such views of mercy fail to consider how the costs of vengeance mount up return to haunt us Recently I ve been reading about what drives some young adults to become religious radicals Studies show that those who are tempted to radicalization already hold a deep personal sense of grievance Often such young people did not receive mercy at some key moments in their lives At some level they perceive themselves as victims of arbitrary power and so they are easily tempted to join with forces attacking the power brokers they resent They don t feel any mercy for their victims because they have come to see themselves as the real victims This mindset makes young people vulnerable to religious radicalization or invitations from street gangs enticed by leaders who generally aren t victims at all but clever powerbrokers who know how to manipulate aggrieved hearts So where does mercy fit in Mercy has to come early in our lives so that we do not grow up feeling like victims treated unfairly by those with power in our lives When I worked in Scotland on Iona I saw mercy transform young lives The centre I managed often hosted young people from difficult situations neighbourhoods where violence and drugs were prevalent These kids were tough often on the edge of joining gangs They often broke our rules pushed the envelope to show their own power defiance One night an electric buggy belonging to an islander was stolen About the size of a golf cart with roof glass doors to hold off Scottish weather the buggy belonged to Jane a widowed senior who used it to cart

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  • Neither Half Full nor Half Empty
    books But wouldn t downsizing be a breeze if that stuff we don t really need any more just crumbled to dust In one sense this old story from Exodus offers a commentary on our society and its landfills overflowing with rotting stuff Why is it we can t be satisfied with enough but not too much Could we ever get over the desire to squirrel away all those things we fancy but don t really need don t really use or wear or refer to anymore Could we ever follow Preet Banerjee s advice and live in smaller houses with a lot less stuff Or do we measure our value in the world by having more than enough What are we saying about ourselves in relation to God and the world if we keep packing our cupboards and basements beyond full Jesus parable widens our perspective a little further The story of the labourers in the vineyard sounds so contemporary workers grumbling about wages comparing one pay packet with another It pictures the kind of grievance from which unions were born But this story isn t about 8 hour days or workers seniority The marketplaces of the ancient world ran without any guarantees In a way slaves probably had more security than day labourers who never knew when they d find another few hours of work Into this uncertain and often harsh economic climate comes an employer who seems incredibly generous to some workers but completely unfair to others At the end of a day when he kept scrambling to find enough workers he pays them all a denarius a living wage in that era We can understand why the workers who signed on early that day grumble They worked longer so shouldn t they receive more Although they received exactly what they were offered they want more Yet the landowner pushes back Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage He is an employer who practices fair standards Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me Or is your eye evil because I am generous The literal Greek translation will surely make us smile The eye that keeps measuring keeps comparing what I have with what you just got that s the evil eye the eye that s never satisfied But the landowner can t be intimidated he has paid the wage which justice demanded He s also been generous in giving not only what was earned but also what was needed Still his mindset will drive most of us crazy accustomed as we are to equal pay for equal work But then the landowner s mindset is the mindset of God the mindset of generosity and mercy not the mindset of calculating the bottom line and trolling for more than enough I was mulling over this parable the day after I saw Preet Bannerjee on the news when I heard another wise Canadian who made me chuckle Terry

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  • Conversation and all that Jazz
    Jacob s well was there and Jesus tired out by his journey was sitting by the well It was about noon A Samaritan woman came to draw water Now we might think talking with Jesus would be a breeze Yet some conversations with a stranger have their uneasy moments Listen 7 Jesus Would you give me a drink 8 9 Woman How is it that you a Jew ask a drink of me a woman of Samaria 10 Jesus If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you Give me a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water In honest conversation differences emerge And that s a good thing If we re going to learn from each other we have to put our own ideas forward Yet when we re puzzled by someone s comment it can take courage to ask a question in conversation A question admits we may not understand everything all at once Yet when we wonder out loud to each other the conversation can go deeper New things are possible when we risk what we think Woman 11 Sir you have no bucket and the well is deep Where do you get that living water 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us the well 13 Jesus Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life 15 Woman Sir give me this water so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water Jesus and the woman have engaged in a little banter The woman is curious about the stranger maybe a little defensive about the difference between Jews and Samaritans But she s also open to grasp something new Give me this water she says She s heard something intriguing She wants a taste Here s a moment of excitement in their conversation a new possibility is opening up But then comes the moment of truth 16Jesus Go call your husband and come back At this moment perhaps the woman at the well feels the way I do when the passenger beside me on an airplane asks what I do for a living Do you know how many times responding I m a Presbyterian minister has shut down conversation for the rest of the flight And yet conversation gives us the moment to put our lives into context for each other if we re open to hearing truth beyond our own assumptions Conversation is so important not just to work through puzzles and clarify new ideas for ourselves Conversation opens up the terrain of someone else s world to explore their truth as we ve never seen it before Woman 17 I have no husband

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2014-archive/347-conversation-and-all-that-jazz?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
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