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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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.

Today's theme was mainly about temptation but the subtext for me was "for what do you hunger?" The Bible tells us man cannot live by bread alone and that led me to reflect on those things for which I yearn.  

I love the stories I hear in church, not only biblical but illustrative as well.  I love to hear how these stories reflect on stories from the Bible.

I love to hear the music, most especially the magnificent rendition of "For the Beauty of the Earth" the combined choirs gave us as a gift this morning.

And I love to hear the Word, even when it is challenging text as noted in our reading today (Matthew 4: 1-17).  It leads me to understand that temptation or "the ends justify the means" is around me at all times.  With the help of God, I can try to remember Jesus' words in reaction to these temptations and work towards emulating his choices.

Laura M.

God's outstretched hands

I like the imagery Karen used today to help us picture God's outstretched hand during times when we are tested. Like toddlers learning to walk, children learning to ride bikes - God trusts that we will be okay, even when we step out of the boat into different or unknown or scary circumstances, and God will be there to reach out God's hand when we need it most.

I think Karen's point about our church family is important too. Sometimes (often!) God's outstretched hand looks like those with whom we worship every week. When I am feeling doubt, or feeling alone, my church family is there to hold me up. When I am unable to sing, those around me sing louder. And when I am feeling strong and confident, I am called to be God's hand to others. To support them. To sing louder when they cannot.

We saw a beautiful example of this around the world yesterday. While the hundreds of Women's Marches weren't necessarily faith-based events, they were, for me, an example of communities standing together, supporting those who may be feeling afraid and vulnerable. Of some of us being God's outstretched hand to those of us who need it most right now.

I know that God's hand will be there when I need it, and I will do my best to be that hand to other people when they need it.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road;
We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

- from "Brother, sister, let me serve you" by R. Gillard

Laura S.