March 29, 2010

Looking Forward to April 4, 2010 -- Easter Sunday

This week we celebrate the Banquet of Hope and New Life as we share the Sacrament of Communion.

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 65:17-25
  • Psalm 118 (VU p.837 Parts 1-3)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 24:1-12
The Hymns this week are:
  • 157 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • 186 Now the Green Blade Rises
  • 173 Thine is the Glory
  • 481 Sent Forth By God’s Blessing
The Sermon Title is Can't Stop the Kingdom

Early Thoughts: The powers have done their worst. But whose is the final victory? What is God's answer to the cross?

It seems that the Kingdom has been stopped. Last Sunday we sang and cheered and were filled with hope. But then the bottom fell out. We were sure it was a done deal. Instead we watched a trial and execution. We've waited all this time to be delivered but I guess this isn't the time.

But that isn't the end of the story. We always need to stay until the last reel has been played. Even if it is we are 7 points down, on our own 35 yard line, 5 seconds left on the clock, the game isn't over. As they say in about the opera, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. (Any other cliches you want to fit in here?)

The big surprise is that the Kingdom simply can't be stopped. Just when all seems lost God has another card to play. GOd raises the Chosen One. God does an amazing new thing. This is the glory that is Easter.

The world as we know it lives day to day on Friday, at least if we believe the picture drawn by the evening news. On a good day we might make it to Saturday, with a reprieve in the Kingdom-stalling violence. But the life of faith draws us right through into Sunday's dawn. God's Reign of Love and Justice and Peace will be triumphant in the end. The new heaven and earth will come to pass.

Last Sunday we asked Can You Stop the Kingdom? On Friday it looked like the answer was yes. But now we know the truth. No. The REign of God can NOT be stopped, only delayed a little.

March 28, 2010

Looking Forward to April 2, 2010 -- Good Friday

The Scripture Passages are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
  • From the Gospel: Luke 22:7-23:56
  • Psalm 22 (VU p.744 Part One)
The Hymns are:
  • 144 Were You There
  • 182 Stay With Us Through the Night
The Meditation Stopping the Kingdom will continue on from the question asked on Palm Sunday. What is it in the world that seems so good at stopping the coming of GOd's Reign? Why do those forces seem to win so regularly? Are we complicit in their victories?

March 23, 2010

Looking Forward to March 28, 2010 -- Palm Sunday

The Scripture REadings this week are:
  • Luke 19:28-48
  • Psalm 118 (VU p.837)

THe Hymns this week are:
  • 122 All Glory Laud and Honour
  • 123 Hosanna Loud Hosanna
  • 357 Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
  • 127 Ride On Ride On in Majesty (tune 20)

THe Sermon Title is Can You Stop the Kingdom?

Early Thoughts: We wave the palms and sing the songs. The world is filled with hope. Do we see the wall that we are about to hit?

It is a celebration, a coronation even. But there is a shadow lurking around the corner. Palm Sunday is a study in contrasts.

Even as Jesus enters the city to shouts of great praise the leadership is skulking at the edge of the picture, waiting to do something to restore the "peace". And so the sermon title is a very real question.

Can the Kingdom be stopped? If the people are silent the very stones will start to sing Jesus says. THe leaders are afraid to step in and arrest him in public, worried about the reaction of the crowds who follow him.

On the surface the answer seems to be no. But really, what will happen? HOw strong is the storm that is about to break? WE will follow the question through this Sunday to Friday and Sunday....

March 21, 2010

Congregational Meeting

As a result of Gord's letter (see previous post) we need to form a Joint Needs Assessment Committee.  This is the first step in working towards who the next minister will be.  We need 5-7 people from the congregation and Presbytery will appoint 2 representatives.

Here is a handbook describing what the committee is and what they do.

The meeting to appoint these people will take place April 11 following the worship service


This letter was shared in worship this morning:

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

To: Marlene Davidson, Board Chair, Riverview United Church
Janet Buckley, Secretary, Cambrian Presbytery
CC: Leigh Mills, Chair of M&P, Riverview United Church
Rev. Barb Miller, Chair of Cambrian Presbytery
Rev. Cheryl Kinney Matheson, Chair of MPE, Cambrian Presbytery

In the church we are called to follow the leading of the Spirit. We are called to trust in the Spirit and to live in God's time. In that living into God's time and the leading of the Spirit we remember the wisdom shared in the above line from Ecclesiastes. We also remember that the God who we follow is the one who proclaims through the prophet Isaiah “Behold, I am doing a new thing”.

Over the last year I have done some intentional listening to the voice of the Spirit. And out of that I have realized that the Spirit is calling me to a new place. And so I am writing to request a change in Pastoral Relations, effective July 1, 2010, to enable me to respond to a call to ministry with St. Paul's United Church in Grande Prairie Alberta.

At last month's Presbytery meeting Barb Miller included in her remarks this quote from the movie Hope Floats: Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will. That describes the feelings I have as I write these words. I look at the middle, the 9 years of living and working and “churching” together with all of you. As a family we have been truly blessed to live and work within the faith community of Riverview United Church, the wider community of Atikokan, and the wider faith community of Cambrian Presbytery. It is with sadness that we look to leaving. But with endings come new beginnings and the promise of growth and new experiences and so mixed in with the fear and sorrow is anticipation. And as always, we, who are people of hope and faith, wait for the hope to float up.

As we move into this time of endings and new beginnings may we do so secure in the knowledge that this part of our journey is taken in the presence of God. May God be with us as we all plan for the future. May God work with us as the new thing comes to fruition.

Peace and Love,

Rev Gord Waldie.

March 16, 2010

Looking Forward to March 21, 2010 -- Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 43:16-21
  • Psalm 126 (VU p.850)
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 55:1-5, 12-13

The Hymns this week are:
  • 574 Come, Let Us Sing of a Wonderful Love
  • 703 In the Bulb There Is a Flower
  • 642 Be Thou My Vision
  • 884 You Shall Go Out with Joy (sung twice)

The Sermon Title is What is the New Thing?

Early Thoughts: What is coming? Are we ready to let it happen? Can we see what new thing God is doing in our world?

It is easy to lose heart sometimes. IT is easy to look around and decide that there is nthing worth hoping for. But this just part of life. And it has pretty much always been a part of life. THere have always been reasons for people to give up.

And that is the world into which God speaks through Scripture. Both of these readings from Isaiah were written and spoken to people in exile, people who had seen their capital and temple destroyed and then been hauled off to a strange land. And to these exiles God sends words of hope, saying that God is doing a New Thing. God promises that the creation itself shall burst into song, that where thorns grew trees will grow. Despite the pessimism that would be so tempting they are called to be people of hope.

So are we. We need to be people of hope. We need to look for what new things God is doning in our midst and be open to embrace them. Yes, new beginnings may often (or almost always) mean the ending something else. ANd that can be hard to accept. Beginnings can be scary. Endings are often sad. But we live in hope. God IS doing a new thing. The mounitains and fields will sing and dance. And we shall go out with joy, for we are people of hope.

March 10, 2010

Looking Forward to March 14, 2010 -- 4th Sunday of Lent

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Psalm 32
  • Luke 15:1-32

The Hymns this week are:
  • 559 Come O Fount of Every Blessing
  • 227 For the Fruit of All Creation
  • 266 Amazing Grace
  • 410 This Day God Gives Me

The Sermon title is: Get Found! Join the Party!"

Early Thoughts: Have you ever been lost? Was it an accident or on purpose? WHat happened at the end of the story??

Robert Fulghum, in a story in one of his books, suggests that sometimes we get lost on purpose -- only we call it hiding. ANd then we sometimes hide so well that we get mad when people seem to stop looking for us. Fulghum also suggests that we try the same thing with GOd.

But of course the witness of Faith and of Scripture is that God doesn't stopp looking. Or GOd never stops waiting for us to "come to our selves" and decide to stop being lost/hiding. And then there is a party! There is always a party!

So maybe we who sometimes feel lost, adrift, wandering aimlessly, need to all our selves to get found? Maybe we who sometimes get really good at playing hide and seek need to "accidentally" let our arm poke out from behind the bush? ANd then we can join the party too!