October 30, 2007

Looking Ahead to November 4, 2007 -- 23rd Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
  • Psalm 119:137-144 (VU p.841 Part 6)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

The Hymns for this Sunday are:

  • 371 Open My Eyes, That I May See
  • 583 Jesus Came, A Child Like Me
  • 578 As a Fire is Meant for Burning (Tune #374)
  • 593 Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love

The sermon title is The Price of Sight

Early Thoughts: What happens when we are caught up in the presence of Christ? WHat happens when we let our hearts and minds be changed? Is there a price to be paid?

The story of Zaccheus is one many of us remember from SUnday School. Poor Zacchesu was caught up in the excitement of Jesus' approach but was too short to see over the crowd. SO he climbs a tree, only to have Jesus come over and say "Come down, I am going to eat with you today"

The kicker comes in what happens over dinner. Zaccheus pledges to give away his income. Tax collecting in many emireswas a brutal business. It was expected that the tax collector could make money by extorting more tax money from his clients. Zaccheus pledges to give that amount away, four fold. There is a price in meeting Jesus.

Now some scholars debate the story we all know. The Greek text is unclear about whether Zaccheus was too short to see over the crowd or Jesus was the short one. The text is unclear if Zaccheus is making a pledge or describing his current practice (although the last couple of sentences clearly suggest that this was a new behaviour). But the point remains. If Zaccheus was not already doing this he has been moved to do so. If he was, he is pledging to continue. THe cost of meeting Jesus was willingly taken on.

The other point worth mentioning is that Jesus invited himself to dinner. Doubtless there were many in the crowd who would have willingly said "come to my place" but Jesus chose Zaccheus (to the horror of those who were watching). When the Christ invites himself to our homes and hearts what do we do? WHat happens if we are as moved as Zaccheus?

October 23, 2007

Pie Making Time

Every year the UCW and helpers make some 500 pies (mainly apple, some raisin) as a fundraiser and a fun-raiser. Expand the post for some pictures of the process.

Peeling and slicing

Rolling and Filling

October 22, 2007

Looking Ahead to October 28 -- 22nd Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Joel 2:18-27
  • Psalm 65 (see back of bulletin)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

The Hymns this week are:

  • 222 Come, Let Us Sing
  • 227 For the Fruit of All Creation
  • 299 Teach Me, God, to Wonder
  • 312 Praise with Joy the World’s Creator

The sermon title is A World of Abundance

Early Thoughts: How do you see the world? When you look around do you notice the things you lack or the things you have in abundance? How does what you see affect how you act?

Each of us has a choice. We can look at the world through a lens set to see abundance or through a lens set to see scarcity. And those lenses really do change what we see. It is sort of like the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The optimist sees a pile of manure and gets excited--there just must be a horse around. A pessimist looks at the same pile and only sees a lot of messy, smelly, tiring work.

Some days it is very hard to see the abundance. Sometimes our lives seem to be nothing but scarcity. Certainly the advertising industry would like us to believe that. "If you only have ______ you will be happy" they say. The ads we see every day continually tell us that we are lacking something.

And of course sometimes life throws us a curve that makes it really easy to become convinced not only of scarcity now but ongoing times of scarcity. Say, for example, the closing of a major employer.

The people Joel was speaking to understood this. They were dealing with a famine. WHen you have no food life is hard. But all of a sudden Joel promises that they will know a time of great abundance. I wonder how easy it was for them to believe it?

Our faith story promises us life, and that in abundance. The challenge is to see what we have in abundance each and every day. The Global Rich List tells us that we are all recipients of more abundance than we know ($28 000 annual income puts one in the top 10%). We can, if we choose,look at the world and see great abundance. We can, look past the scarcity messages (and realities). And we benfeit when we do that.

How we view the world affects how we interact with the world. When we look around and see that things are scarce our common reaction is to hold tightly to what we have and to fight strongly to get more. But when we look around and see great abundance we atuomatically feel more inclined to share the wealth. WE end up being happier, more at ease, more relaxed. Living life in a scarcity mode is tense and worrisome. Living in an abundance mode makes it easier to deal with what life throws at us.

We will nto always have everything we want. Sometimes we won't always have what we need. But we still can choose to focus on what we lack or on what we have in abundance. What choice will you make?

October 16, 2007

Looking Ahead to October 21, 2007 -- 21st Sunday After Pentecost

This week we will be visited on behalf of Presbytery. There will be a meeting with the visitors following the service. All are encouraged to share your views on how Riverview is doing.

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Jeremiah 31:27-34
  • Psalm 119:97-104 (VU p. 840 Part 4)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

The hymns for the week are:

  • 260 God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness
  • 684 Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
  • 688 O Day of God Draw Nigh
  • 506 Take My Life and Let It Be

The Sermon title is Persistent, Hearty Justice

Early thoughts: Who is asking so persistently? What response is needed? How is this a stewardship story?

Traditionally people have said that this parable is about prayer. It sees that Jesus is essentially saying "if even this lout of a judge will eventually grant justice then how much more so will God, who actually loves people and cares about justice, do the same?". But there is another way to look at it. Is it possible to see God in the role of the widow? It is a bit of a skewing of the text but what if God is the one who knocks and knocks and knocks?

If God is doing the knocking then it is God's people who must respond. And at that point it becomes a story about stewardship.

Stewardship is a word we in the church often use as code for "now it is time to talk about money". And it is. If we are to respond to God's unceasing cries for justice then money HAS to be a part of the discussion. There are of course other parts of that discussion. Stewardship is about all our choices, about how we live our lives and use our resources. The challenge is to do so in ways that further the call to justice.

We have the option to ignore the knocking at the doors and windows of our lives. We also have the option of opening the door in resignation and defeat. OR we can throw the door wide open and welcome the knocker with open-armed enthusiasm. Which choice we make will drastically affect how we respond to the questions and pleas we get. It changes how we see our role as stewards. It is all about stewardship, all about our role in God's world.

October 15, 2007

PResbytery Oversight Visit

Next Sunday we will have our triennial (every 3 years) visit from Presbytery representatives. This is part of how Presbytery keeps aware of what is happening in the various churches.

The visitors will be meeting with congregation members following the worship service. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

October 09, 2007

Looking Forward to October 14, 2007 -- 20th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this Sunday are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Exodus 3: 1-7;10-12
  • Psalm 28 (see insert)
  • From the Gospel: (see insert)

The Hymns the Sunday are:

  • 374 Come and Find the Quiet Centre
  • Kum Ba Yah (insert)
  • 664 What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go With Us

This Sunday we are doing something different. Instead of a Sermon there will be some Silent Reflection.

One of the things that has happened within Western culture is a loss of silence. This has happened in our worship as well. And yet, if we are never silent and still how can we ever listen? How can we quiet the anxiety that comes from always "doing"?

In this service, designed by Peter Fergus-Moore in ThunderBay, we will take time to be silent, interspersed with the lines of the Lord's Prayer. It will be a new thing. It may push our limits given that in many worship services any silence feels too long. But we will give it a try. Come and share the experience with us.

October 05, 2007

Board Meeting Notes

Last night we had a Board Meeting. Expand the post to see what happened.

  • We discussed finding volunteers to attend a visioning meeting in Fort Frances later this month
  • We planned for the Congregational Supper on October 28th. An invitation letter will be mailed out next week.
  • We completed the Pre-Visit Questionaire for our upcomming Oversight visit by representatives of Presbytery.
  • We decided that since November 11 is a Sunday this year we will have our weekly worship at 7:00pm to allow everyone to attend the Legion service at 10:30.
  • We decided that Riverview will sponsor the Harding concert in November to increase the earnings for the artists.
  • We discussed some upcoming events (see post at top of the blog)

The next Board Meeting will be on October 25.

October 02, 2007

Looking Forward to October 7, 2007--19th Sunday After Pentecost, Worldwide Communion and Thanksgiving Sunday

This Sunday we join with our brothers and sisters around the globe in celebrating the sacrament of communion.

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
  • Psalm 137
  • From the Gospel: John 6:25-35

The Hymns are:

  • 820 Make a Joyful Noise
  • 227 For the Fruit of All Creation
  • MV #162 Christ Within Us Hidden (insert)
  • 481 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing

The Sermon title is Singing & Feasting in a Strange Land

Early Thoughts: We are commanded to be thankful for and share from our abundance. But in a world that is changing so fast, in a world that doesn't always feel like a familiar home, how do we sing songs of thankfulness and praise?

Of course we are not the first people to face this question. The Psalm reading for this week comes from the time of the Babylonian exile. It asks the question "How can we sing the songs of God in a strange land?" -- if you remember the Boney M hit By the Rivers of Babylon or Don McLEan's Babylon (this is also found on page 858 in Voices United as a suggested accompaniment to the Psalm) then you have heard this Psalm of lament turned into pop music.

How indeed? How is it that after the world has been shaken on its foundations, after the unimaginable has happened, people could find the heart and voice to sing the old songs? The fall of Jerusalem was not just another defeat in battle, it was the ultimate defeat. And yet, even in exile, away from Zion, the supposed dwelling of God, the people eventually found their voice. Yes that voice was tempered by songs of lament, richened by the hoarseness of tears, but still they found that God was with them and that was reason for hope.

The Deuteronomy reading for Thanksgiving has the wonderful line "a wandering Aramean was my ancestor" followed by a brief recap of the move into and exodus from Egypt. Here we find the beginning of that hope. Even in slavery the people found cause for hope--which then led to freedom. As people in exile they re-found that hope.

Of course hope doesn't take away sorrow. The story of faith reminds us that lament is a part of life. We lament many things over the course of life's journey. But the lament never takes away the need to give thanks. There is a story about a group of Jewish men in Auschwitz putting God on trial. God was found guilty of mistreating God's people. Then, as the trial closed the rabbi looked up and said "now it is time to worship God".

In our world today we find many signs that life is (to be somewhat euphemistic) not what we wish it would be. This very week (leading up to Canadian Thanksgiving) may see the closure (final or short term yet to be determined) of one of our town's main employers. Across Northwestern Ontario mills are closing, people are unemployed, people are leaving for greener pastures. Surely this is a time for lament. What does it mean to celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of this time of trouble?

It means we look deeper. It means we ask ourselves truly how are we blessed? It means we push ourselves to look beyond the scarcity and find abundance. Yes we lament. Yes life is not what we wish it was. But still we find the song to sing, we find that GOd is with us and that we are blessed.

A Blessed Thanksgiving to all!