God looks at the heart

 Samuel Anointing David, Dura-Europos Synagogue, 3c, National Museum of Damascus, Syria.

Samuel Anointing David, Dura-Europos Synagogue, 3c, National Museum of Damascus, Syria.

I have been thinking a lot lately about contemplative prayer, and the waiting for and finding God within ourselves in silence and stillness.  I especially liked what Karen said this morning about David having the ability to hear God, to compose music, and to write psalms because he lived in the quiet and solitude of the fields as he tended his sheep.  I am reading a book called Christian Meditation: Contemplative Prayer for a New Generation by Paul Harris who used to be director at the Christian Meditation Centre in London, England.  In his book he states "Anthropologists tell us we are cramming twice as much noise and activity into our lives as our ancestors.  Our society is geared to activity, productivity, speed, material success and noise."  And this was written in 1996, long before the advent of the smartphone! I don't know about you, but among all this noise and activity I sometimes have a hard time hearing myself think never mind hearing God.  

As Karen said in her sermon today,  God doesn't look at appearances.  God doesn't judge us by our material wealth or by how many things we can get done in a day.  God looks at the heart.  And the heart needs moments of silence and stillness to know itself and to know God.  Today, listening to the sermon, I found myself wondering if David found it harder to hear God as he gained power and left his quiet fields and his solitude?  Once he'd become king, did he sometimes struggle to find moments of quiet to pray and to speak to God?

We are all vessels for God's grace.  Sometimes in the frenzied hurry of everyday life it's easy to forget that and to lose touch with ourselves and with God.  But in the quiet and the stillness of our hearts we find Him again.

Melanie A.     

We want a King

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This was an interesting title for a sermon based on recent political events.  Samuel was called to be God's prophet at a time when people did what they wanted.  They wanted a King.  The scripture reading uses 'take' more frequently than 'serve' in describing the role of a king. Sometimes what we need is not what we want.  We live in perilous and polarizing times.  Some wish to be like others...like other nations...but integrity is to be a follower of God.  Silence is complicity.

Jeanie H.

The Power of Love

The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Change a hawk to a little white dove
More than a feeling that's the power of love
Tougher than diamonds, rich like cream
Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream
Make a bad one good make a wrong one right
Power of love that keeps you home at night

Today we spoke in our lessons about the power of love. The power that emendates not just through thought and prayer but by action

James 1:19-27

19 [a]This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Love cannot and does not grow from the angry lounge it grows from the loving thought and application of the hands to work and help/

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his [d]natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, [e]he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but [f]an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in [g]what he does.

Our next reading was and will always be my very favorite.

For the Samaritan was no friend of the Jew and sought no thanks in the here and now nor the hereafter but did what was right because it was right. He was no friend but he was a neighbor.

Luke 10:25-37

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Rev. MacLellan,  then reminded us of some half truths and old tropes offen associated as bible passages.

“God helps those who help themselves”. Ft heard but not truly understood. It is easy to see that we are supportive of those who show a desire to help themselves and it is true that we should always seek to improve our lot and that of others. Yet not all have that ability. Love comes from God and Jesus without qualification nor price. It comes without string nor chit. It comes a the gift from God to save us all.

To oft forgotten is our encouragement to help all that we may.

Mathew 25:34-40

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It don't take money and it don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
Tougher than diamonds and stronger than steel
You won't feel nothin' till you feel
You feel the power, just feel the power of love

Be the Samaritan of Jesus' Love

Noral R.

GOD IN ALL BEGINNINGS - TRINITY SUNDAY

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Trinity Sunday is dedicated to the Christian belief in the Trinity and celebrates this Christian doctrine, the three Persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As Rev. Dimock stated the concept of the Holy Trinity can never be completely understood. That is the mystery.  To understand the Trinity is to understand God more fully.  It would appear that I am still on that path.  It would also seem that this is the oldest journey for us in the church.

Who is God to us?  God is integral to who we are.  We do not need to barter for the love of God.  The one who made us loves us - even when we act or think otherwise.

Where is God when we are surrounded by chaos, disaster, sadness or loneliness?  He is still there.  I liked this quote: 'We never face chaotic situations alone. Chaos may reek havoc in our life situations, but it can never out maneuver God.'

Jeanie H.

... on all flesh did pour your Spirit...

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I like the connection Karen made today between the scripture readings and our everyday lives. What does "Can these bones live?" mean for us today? Karen spoke of some of the darkness in our world today - shootings in schools, wars between peoples, dehumanizing God's children by thinking of them as labels instead of as people like us - and suggested that maybe we should think of God's spirit pouring out over all of God's children, putting flesh and blood back on generalizations that are hurtful and harmful.

I immediately thought of something I read recently on Facebook as our teaching and ruling elders prepare to gather in Waterloo for General Assembly in June. Whether or not the Presbyterian Church in Canada decides to include fully people who are homosexual will be discussed when the assembly gathers. Rev. Mark Chiang, who serves on the church's doctrine committee, asks us not to think of this as "the issue" but to remember that there are people - children of God - at the centre of this conversation. (You can read the whole post here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2346973826/permalink/10156360176683827/. This 'Presbyterian Church in Canada' group is 'closed', but I would encourage you to join to be part of this gathering place for Presbyterians from across the country.)

Laura S.

Ascension

 Ascension of Christ, from the Drogo Sacramentary, Folio 71v, ca. 845-855, Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Ascension of Christ, from the Drogo Sacramentary, Folio 71v, ca. 845-855, Bibliothèque Nationale de France

There have been many special moments that I have experienced at St. Andrew’s since I joined a few years ago. One of those special moments is the pastoral care special communion service that is held twice a year for our St. Andrean family who have difficulty making it out on Sundays.

The pastoral care team organizes so many aspects of this day to make it special for all. Many of those that attend share stories of St. Andrew’s past, and feel home when seeing old familiar faces and sitting in the pews listening to God’s words.

During the service, Karen spoke about the Ascension and how we look up in wonder though noting that Jesus is always walking beside us. When we think about life there are many times were we look in wonder and ask God why? though Jesus is always walking with us. Whether good or bad times of life, we may seek the why from God. Through all of life's joys and challenges, Jesus is with us and we see His face and love in the powerful ministry of our Pastoral Care team.

Colleen G.

Psalm 98

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O sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvellous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
    have gained him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
    he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
    let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.