Sunday, March 19

Rev. Karen said the Parables are gifts and Matthew 20:1-16 delivers. As an educator, I often heard that the problem is that they got the same as us and they don't deserve it. They didn't work as hard, they got an extension or someone helped them. They don't deserve the same as we get, do they?

The workers in the vineyard felt this way. In recent months, I have heard this same sentiment when it comes to refugees arriving in Canada. I read somewhere that 'what counts in the kingdom of God is not seniority or years of service but diligence of heart...'

We are all equally precious to God and whether we were first or last God's grace is there for all of us. "It is not merely the time that we put in. It is the heart that we put into the time we have."

Jeanie H.

Sunday, March 12

Today, in the midst of lingering winter chill, I attended church in the midst of lent.  I did not have an opportunity to hear the sermon, but I did have an opportunity to teach Sunday School. For me today, the overall theme was one of how winter is a time of hidden growth, not of stagnance, not of death but of restorative dormancy.  I was pleased to hear our youngest child, our son, read Psalm 32 in church, and also pleased also to teach kids I have known since they were toddlers in Sunday school.  It has been a few weeks since I taught and I was particularly struck today but the growth and maturation of the kids, not just mine, but of all of them, how well they can now read, and how well they can understand what they read. Many of them independently described the meaning of lent to me with compelling lucidity. The kids are, with Tracey, preparing a song for Easter, and it is as invigorating as it is tiring to spend time with them.  I am very grateful to Christine for all of her work with the children this past year, and look forward to welcoming Huda back as well.

Rebecca B.

Online Study - The Screwtape Letters

Join us through the Lenten Season as we explore C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. We will look at this book both as a daily Lenten devotional, accompanied by relevant Scripture passages, for each of us to read, reflect and pray over as part of your journey to Easter and as a group discussion where we can share reflections, thoughts, and ideas about the themes and issues raised in the book. In this way we get the best of both personal and community reflection to feed us through Lent. The book is available free on the www.gutenberg.ca website; search for the title.

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“Holy, Holy, Holy, hear the hymn ascending, angles, saints their voices blending” was the refrain we sang yesterday as we read together Psalm 99 which beautifully extols the greatness of God and His Kingship over the earth. “The Lord is king; letthe people tremble! He sits enthroned on cherubim; let the earth quake! (Psalm 99:1).

This theme, of God sitting enthroned over the heavens and the earth as King, is one which is central to the biblical storyline and because of that is a central doctrine of the Presbyterian-Reformed theology. The Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, as I understand it, explains that God, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth is also the just ruler over them. In the Church, particularly in our hymnary we revisit this theme again and again to the point that I often wonder if it’s taken for granted. I often wonder if we forget that as Christians we believe that God the Blessed Trinity is still Sovereign over all Creation, even though it seems, because of the rule of sinful men that God’s rule is absent.

I wonder if the Sovereignty of God still relevant? I would say that it is, and that it is more relevant than ever to recognise that there is an everlasting King who sits enthroned over the world. A King, whose rule is not like the rule of men, but is one where peace, justice, mercy, and forgiveness abound. A rule that is free from malice, injustice, and power-hungry men lusting after more power. I think sometimes we are afraid of God’s Sovereign Rule, in part because we are afraid of God’s justice, but more so because we are afraid that God’s rule will be a reflection of the rule of  men on earth. However, the rule of men, is a fallen and sinful reflection of the just rule of God. We can trust in God’s Sovereignty because we know that God is good, moreover, God fully revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, and in His death and resurrection showed us what the Kingdom of God is like, and showed us what God’s Sovereignty looks like. God’s rule is a saving rule, a freeing rule, and a just rule. It is no wonder that many of those great teachers who have gone before us have focused so much on the Sovereignty of God.

One final note about the Sovereignty of God. As the Church we are called to be a counter-culture, within the culture. We are called to be the visible signs of what God is doing to redeem the world and exercise is Sovereignty. The Sovereignty of God lets us do that because we are not ultimately bound to the political structures, and our ultimate allegiance is not to whoever sits in political office but to God, to whom we must give account of our lives. Sure we are bound to the law to live as citizens under it, but it will never be our final master. The Sovereignty of God gives us hope in a broken world, and gives us a taste of what the world should be like and what the world will be like in the New Heavens and New Earth. When we believe, live and act as if God is King, and serve as His subjects the world is being transformed. Saints living and working under God’s Sovereignty are a light even in the darkest political turmoil.

Sovereign God, let us all live as subjects of Your Kingdom. Serving under your Sovereign Will. Help us to  live for You and under Your Kingship and let that be a light to the world. May the World see that You are King, May they tremble at your Rule of Justice and Mercy and bow before Your throne in Adoration. All Glory be to God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who sits enthroned as King over the heavens and earth from everlasting to everlasting.

Deus Rex,
A.S. Fels

CCJC's The Empathy Project on 100 Huntley Street

Since 2014 CCJC has been working collaboratively with providers in a variety of institutional locations across Canada’s prison system to deliver a victim-impact program to inmates. This Empathy Project has been implemented in 7 institutions and there is a waiting list for the program.

Rebecca B. was recently interviewed on 100 Huntley Street to talk about the CCJC and the Empathy Project. Rebecca says, "While the CCJC is an ecumenical organization that brings together 11 denominations, but these are mainline, traditional Christian denominations - we are really breaking new ground in reaching out to the evangelical audience of this particular show."

Sunday Feb 12

Photo: Alec T.

Photo: Alec T.

While it was typical in many respects, this morning's service had an extra spark, as St. Andrew's kicked off its Canada 150 activities with the attendance of Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston. 

As I was helping a bit with preparations for the kids' Canada birthday cake event, I was struck once again by how much we as a community enjoy doing this. From ushers to musicians to the refreshment prep team, I met no one who wasn't smiling and a tiny bit excited. (Well okay, the various gentlemen in dark suits with microphones in their ears looked pretty serious!) We love our community and our church and we genuinely enjoy getting things in place so that events run smoothly. 

On a much more profound and spiritual level, this notion of service was an underlying theme this morning, as both the Governor General and Reverend Dimock delved into parts of The Sermon on the Mount. 

To the delight of the kids, on the pews when they arrived were red paper hearts with words from various Beatitudes on them (mine was "Comfort those who mourn") and these sayings would be their focus at Sunday school. 

Reverend Dimock's sermon was entitled "Bearing the Light of God!" and she began with the context around The Sermon on the Mount, of how Jesus's talk to his early Disciples had been watched by a curious crowd.  Karen pointed out that those Disciples had given up everything conventional in their lives, leaving their families, their jobs and their status in their communities in order to serve with Jesus. In front of the crowd, Jesus was honouring them and offering nothing less than a new world view. He rewrote Old Testament ideas of restriction and prohibition ("Thou shalt not ...") to instead honour their humility, faith and compassion ("Blessed are ..."). 

Jesus told his followers that they were the light, and they needed to use that light to illuminate places of hardship and suffering.  

Karen's sermon enlarged upon the scripture readings of Matthew 5:1-16, which had been read by the Governor General. He had singled out Matthew 5:9 in particular: "Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they will be called the children of God." 

He recounted to us his most recent trip to Israel, noting that he had visited the spot at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where, 3200 years ago, King Solomon had stood calling all tribes to come and find peace.

Sadly, peace is not a steady presence in that part of the world, but we as Canadians have an opportunity to become peacekeepers in our country. The Governor General explained that he saw Canada as being a 150-year experiment in diversity and at this milestone anniversary, it is up to us to reflect upon our past and gird ourselves for the future. As peacekeepers, we too can be the light and work to make sure that our Canadian experiment succeeds. 

On that note, it was wonderful after the service to see the flags representing all of our congregation's countries of origin flanking the Canada birthday cake in Grant Hall. Their Excellencies met many of the kids, and as he was heading downstairs to meet the congregation, the Governor General was heard to say to one little boy that he had to go play with the adults now, and he hoped they would be as much fun!

Joan R.

 

Sharing the light we've been given

I loved the familiarity of the opening of worship this morning -  Karen's words from Micah to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God, the comforting and poetic words of Psalm 90, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night, (I learned it in the King James Version) and it's corresponding refrain, O God our help in ages past.

It was a heavy week, as Karen said, and my heart was sore. I was glad to be in the familiar and the safe. But the sermon was a bit of a jolt and it was abrupt to have the world and all the darkness and difficulties brought up from the pulpit. It felt like being prodded on a bruise.

But during the sermon you could hear a pin drop in the sanctuary, and I don't think I was the only one that needed that discomfort of acknowledgement. Karen mentioned about the "collective trauma" of people going through difficult times, and the importance of recognizing what we're feeling together.

But what I took from the sermon is that even in these dark and difficult times, we are not powerless. We have been given a the light of love from God and we can share that light with those around us. We can intrude in the lives of others, just as Jesus intruded in the lives of James and Andrew, the first disciples, and we can shine a light in the darkness.

Maureen R.