The shrewd manager

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It’s been said that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. I’ve heard speakers decry this statement, arguing that it is too negative and too confrontational to be helpful to us in our faith, but that is why I like it. Everything about Jesus should make the world uncomfortable—nothing he was or did was expected or commonplace. He calls everything into question.

As Karen noted today, Jesus turns things upside-down. His words and deeds force us to look at things in new ways, to re-examine, re-evaluate, and then relearn everything we have previously known or thought we knew. Considering our faith and our discipleship as enrollment in the School of Jesus is a very compelling image, and one I enjoyed Rev. Dimock mentioning today. In our discipleship, we are called to be open to learning, always. But to see things in new ways requires a willingness to re-educate ourselves—Jesus delivers the lesson, but it is up to us to be open to receive it.

In the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, we find a lesson both confounding and disturbing. We are disrupted in the comfort of our surety of our own righteousness when Jesus equates us, the faithful, with a swindler. We don’t want to see ourselves this way; surely we are flawed, but we can’t be that bad. Jesus convicts us, while in His abounding love assuring us that it is never too late to make amends. We can always try to do better.

This past week, there has been a lot of focus in the news on misdeeds by politicians. Much of the conversation has centered on whether such deeds, and their privileged doers, can ever be redeemable. Too often, discussion has been waylaid by debate over whether past deeds can be examined through today’s lens, suggesting that the offensive, racist and homophobic actions of the past were, somehow, not offensive when they were committed. When the conversation takes such a turn, the voices of the privileged and comfortable ring loudly and defensively, rather than being silent in such moments and listening to those who are affected.

When the afflicted say, “This harms me,” it falls to the comfortable to listen. It falls to the comfortable to be disrupted. And it falls to the comfortable to be afflicted, and as God’s peacemakers to set aside our comfort for the benefit of the afflicted, to “bring release of the captive”.

As Karen said today, we are being “called to account for how wealth is used”. Our wealth is our money, yes, but it is also so much more. It is our voice, our hands and feet, our privilege, our power. We who have much, we have the most to lose, are called to account for our wealth, to justify how we are employing it. Are we comforting ourselves, or the afflicted? Are we willing to re-educate ourselves, examining our own thoughts and deeds, and to convict and afflict ourselves? School is, indeed, in session: what lesson are we willing to receive?

Darlene M.

I Thought You Had Stolen The Car

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Rev. Hill was our guest preacher. That booming Irish voice was in fine fettle today. He talked about a conversation he heard while in the barbershop about Quebec’s new religious symbols law. How he thought about how odd it was that we seek to find symbols to divide us when there is so much that binds us. The key to our faith is not the symbols that we wear or put on our walls, they are the internal symbols of the beliefs that Jesus taught us.

Psalm 28

3. Do not drag me away with the wicked,

with those who do evil,

who speak cordially with their neighbours

but harbour malice in their hearts.

This is not Christianity, the way we treat people with love is the true lesson. The true symbol is the one we wear in our hearts as we have been taught.

John 13

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Rev. Hill walked us in the way the Lord wanted us to treat all those, with love, not just other Christians but all of his people. For the world is broad and has many faiths and many have none yet all are God’s Children.

Matthew 25

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’

Rev. Hill told the story of the man who slowed up as he approached a yellow light and the lady behind him who was in a hurry blasted the horn and called him many names not normally in the paper. She cursed him out until a police officer came and told her she was under arrest. When she asked why he replied. I heard the honking and cursing and as I approached, I saw the bumper sticker that said "If You Love Jesus Honk Your Horn". After I heard you, I thought you had stolen the car. 😊

The true symbol of Jesus and Christianity is the internal and eternal love of all.

In Jesus name.

Amen

Noral R.

Luke 10: 25-37 "And who is my neighbour?"

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It was fitting for Sydney to introduce Mr. Rogers during Children's Time this morning. It brought back memories of his quiet voice, songs and cardigans.

As Alex pointed out in his sermon the Parable of the Good Samaritan is presented in a gold box when using the Young Children and Worship programme in church school. It is a gift to unwrap. Neighbour is as neighbor does, so to speak. “Neighbor” is not defined by location or group but by those who need concern and care. Our “neighbours” are those who need us.

We have unwrapped that golden box and heard the message - what do we do with it is now up to us.

Jeanie H.

Spiritual Fullness in Christ

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The scriptures were convincingly read by one of our elders, and included readings from Colossians 2:6-19 and Luke 11:1-13.

Colossians 2:6-7 on the Spiritual Fullness in Christ read: ... “6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Part of the scripture readings today as quoted above, was the source of the children's story. Ways to help us grow spiritually include praying and reading the bible. Similarly a plant needs to be cultivated with water and sunlight to help it to grow. If not fed and cared for there would be no growth and no life.

Our sermon by Rev. Fred Demaray, also reflected on Jesus as our source of life, through whom all things were made. The body of Christ is strengthened when we come together by caring and sharing the bounty that we have received from Him with our neighbours. This reflects our thankfulness for all that we have been blessed with by our Gracious God.

Verse 1 of our final Hymn # 451 touched to me:

1. Dear Father, Lord of humankind,

forgive our foolish ways;

reclothe us in our rightful mind;

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper reverence, praise.

Barbara S.

By the Oaks of Mamre

Abraham's Oak Holy Trinity Monastery at the site of the ancient Oak of Mamre. By Copper Kettle - originally posted to Flickr as Monastery in Hebron, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5767963

Abraham's Oak Holy Trinity Monastery at the site of the ancient Oak of Mamre. By Copper Kettle - originally posted to Flickr as Monastery in Hebron, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5767963

My favourite bible stories for children involve Abraham and Sarah. It was always fun to prepare using the Young Children and Worship materials and the children always enjoyed them…almost as much as I did.
From the scripture reading the following words immediately came to mind, following on Sydney’s time with the children: look, wait, reach. Abraham offered hospitality with no strings attached. He doesn’t know who is coming toward their tent but he serves and blesses them.I think of the hospitality offered by St. Andreans - Wednesday Communion, Open Doors, Theology on Tap. Perhaps we will be like the oaks of Mamre - known for their longevity and strength.

Jeanie H.

# 3 Healing and Reconciliation - Kenora

Kenora is treaty 3 land and the traditional territory of the Ojibway and Chippewa.

As I think about our time there I want to frame my reflections with one of the devotionals that Reverend

Linda Paton Cowie, our chaplain led while we were there. Based on John 4 and Jesus meeting the

Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well, Linda introduced her comments on this Scripture with the words “

and once again Jesus was going through a land that wasn’t his”. And then as he met and spoke with the

woman there, his promise that someday we will worship in Spirit and Truth. A promise that I look to in a

new way now.

Our journey to Kenora, began with the road trip from Winnipeg to the (second) site of the Cecelia

Jeffrey Indian Residential School. This is one of the schools that was run by the Presbyterian Church in

Canada, and it was made famous recently by Gordon Downie’s re-awakening in the press, the story of

Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who ran away from there and died of exposure in doing so in 1966.

I was sitting with our chaplain for the trip, Reverend Linda as we got closer to the memorial and looking

out the window it was all rocks and trees, rough and rugged Northern Ontario. Beautiful in its own way

but just imagine Linda said, imagine the children who tried to run away through this. You cannot see

very far and the ground is so uneven…

Arriving at the site we were greeted by elders and residential school survivors and a ceremony around

the memorial. Tobacco was offered, smudging and survivors of the school shared their reflections. Time

passed slowly and quickly all at once as people took the time they needed to speak and suddenly we had

been there almost two hours. Lunch was an opportunity to mingle and share. To be shown around.

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This is the memorial. Beneath it are buried toys that children played with at the school.

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Little is left of the school, just a small piece of foundation, some steps. It was torn down but this is the

view from where it was located.

It was a good day and a hard day. When we left the site of the school it was to travel into Kenora and

settled down for the night.

Dr. Rev Karen Dimock

Waiting patiently for the Lord

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“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit” - Psalm 40:1-2

In today’s sermon Rev. Dimock continued our journey through the psalms. Something she said which really struck a cord with me is that the psalms give us the ability to speak to God authentically about who we are. In particular, she discussed Psalm 40. In this psalm, the psalmist is in the midst of a difficult time and is remembering a time past when God heard his cry and lifted him up out of his difficulties.

To wait patiently for God in difficult times, when the world seems to be falling apart, or when we feel we’ve lost our way, can be the hardest thing. It is easy for us to lose faith during these times, to feel we have no words to express how we are feeling, or to have words but be afraid to utter them. During these times the psalms can give us comfort and give us words to express our pain, sorrow, doubt and anger. God never loses faith in us. If we wait and are patient, he will always find a way to reach out a hand and lift us up out of the pit.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV - “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Melanie A.