June 29, 2009

Looking Aheadto July 5, 2009 -- 5th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
  • Psalm 123 (VU p.847)
  • Mark 6:1-13
The Hymns this week are:
  • #409 Morning Has Broken
  • #509 I, the Lord of Sea and Sky
  • #512 Lord, You Give the Great Commission (vss 1, 2, 5)
  • #646 We Are Marching in the Light of God
The Sermon title is Knowing When to Quit…

Early Thoughts: When is it time to try something else? When do you stop pounding on the wall and look for a door somewhere else?

The way he has been doing wasn't working. And now the people of his hometown are becoming openly hostile. What is Jesus to do?

If Jesus operated the same way that the church tends to operate he would establish a study group to investigate what needs to be done. And he would have focus groups. And he would get all sorts of ideas about how to keep doing the same thing "better". But in the end he would keep doing the same thing and lamenting the lack of a different result.

But Jesus knows that it is time to quit. It is time to do a different thing, to reach out in a new way, to build the community in new directions. And even as he sends out the disciples he tells them that they need to know when it is time to quit. The secret to ministry is remaining aware of what is happening around you. In fact, Jesus learns that trying to minister among those who are hostile is totally ineffective.

There is a lesson here for the church. It has been suggested that to keep doing the same thing and expect different results is a sign of insanity. It is known that the only thing that is nice about hitting your head against a brick wall is the feeling of relief one gets when you stop. Does the church know when to quit, when to try a new way, when to say enough? It is hard because who wants to walk away from a beloved ministry? It is hard because we don't want to fall prey to every trendy little "new thing" that comes floating by.

But sometimes we need to know when to quit.

June 16, 2009

Looking Ahead to June 21, 2009 -- 3rd Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
  • Psalm 107:23-32 (VU p. 832 Part 3)
  • From the Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
The Hymns for this week are:
  • 245 Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet
  • 580 Faith of Our Fathers
  • 660 How Firm a Foundation
  • 232 Joyful Joyful We Adore You
For Children's Time we will share the story of David and Goliath.

The Sermon title is Trust in the Midst of Chaos

Early Thoughts: When the storms of life are raging what do we do? When the waves threaten to toss us into the depths and overwhelm us what is our response?

Water can be devious. Many bodies of water can change from being calm and placid to wild and dangerous in a blink of an eye. That is why boaters are discouraged from crossing through the middle of a large lake, instead the prudent one goes along the coast. The Sea of Galilee (which really is more like a large lake) is one of those bodies of water -- indeed it is known for sudden squalls that turn it into a churning hazard at a moment's notice.

ANd yet in this story we find the disciples (who surely knew better since there were fishermen among them) out in the middle of the lake and a storm does indeed spring up. Not surprisingly they are afraid. And then they are amazed. In the midst of life-threatening peril Jesus is curled up having a nap! Does he not know or care what is happening?

When our lives are threatened by storms what do we expect from our faith? Is Jesus curled up having a nap while we battle the winds of economic turmoil and the waves of a changing worldview? We can count many many things that buffet our lifeboats these days. What reaction does faith call out?

In the Mark story the disciples wake up Jesus who then calms the storm. He also chastises the disciples for their lack of faith. How might Jesus speak to us? THe storm doesn't show much sign of calming out there. Do we have the faith to ride out the storm? Will God give us the strength and trust to conquesr our giants?

June 08, 2009

Looking Ahead to June 14, 2009 -- 2nd Sunday After Pentecost, Camp Sunday

This week we will have a "paperless" service -- all on projection.

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Luke 2:41-47
  • Matthew 19:13-16
The Hymns this week are:
  • MV #8 And On this Path
  • 356 Seek Ye First
  • Jesus Loves Me (Remix Version)
  • I’ve Got Peace Like a River
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go With Us
The service this week was prepared by Rev. Frances Flook from Emo-Devlin.

The Reflection is called The "F" Factors of Camp and will be accomanied by slids from Sunnycove Camp.

June 02, 2009

Dry Bones

Our SPecial Music this week, in conjunction with Children's Time:

June 01, 2009

Looking Ahead to June 7, 2009 -- Trinity Sunday, 1st After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 29 (VU p.756)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: Romans 8:12-17
  • From the Gospel: John 3:1-17
The Hymns this week are:
  • 315 Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
  • 624 Give to Us Laughter
  • 675 Will Your Anchor Hold
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go With Us
The Sermon title is: Searching for Re-Birth

Early Thoughts: What does it mean to be re-born? Is birth happening here and now? What is the Spirit up to?

Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and asks a fairly obvious question. HOw is it possible to be born again? From a literal point of view it makes no sense. But of course it isn't meant literally, it is a metaphorical birth. And if we are going to be honest, we spend a lot of time looking for a re-birth, a new start, a new hope.

Last week we heard about Ezekiel and the dry bones. Told by GOd to prophesy to the bones Ezekiel was unsure why. But the SPirit of GOd moved in the valley and the bones were reconnected and given flesh. What are the bones in the valleys of our lives that are waiting to be reconnected and given life?

Because we really need that SPrit-Breath these days. In our communities wracked by mill closures, in our congregation wrestling with rising costs and aging memberships, in our denomination struggling with a declining income. We need the re-birth that we are told to look for. WE need to let the SPirit blow through us and reshape the bones of our communities and congregations into new beings. Bone-by-bone, breath-by-breath something new can emerge.

In the documetn "Called to be Church" the United Church of Canada is called to re-discover our passion. THis is a call to embrace re-birth. When we find what it means to be "Called to Be Church" then we will find new energy and vitality. YEs, some things may have to be let go of in that process. Yes, the new body that emerges may be very different from what what we have known.

But life after birth is never the same as before hand is it?