The freedom of grace

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Karen made the point this morning that there is freedom in not conforming to the ways of the world. This really resonated with me.

I don't know if it's just where I am in my life right now, but I often measure myself - my position at work, my accomplishments, whatever - against others who are around the same age. My new year's resolution, for several years running now, has been to stop comparing myself to other people. (Ha! It's really working...) It is a constant challenge - we are always being shown images of "success" in our society - what we are supposed to be striving for. And as Karen said, it can be very draining when we don't meet those expectations.

So when we are told that we are not to conform to the ways of the world and that there is nothing we can do to earn that love of God - that our jigsaw puzzle picture maybe looks different than we thought it did - that is totally liberating. And because of God's grace, we are free to pursue the other things mentioned in Romans 12 - to let love be genuine, to live in harmony with one another, to persevere in prayer, to overcome evil with good. We are transformed and can live the life God has called us to live.

Laura S.

Signs of Remembrance

Last Sunday we celebrated those who form our congregation who fought and some who died in the two world wars. Today however was the day after the Remembrance day services at the Cenotaph. As we struggle to find reason for war, and the loss of life and limb we sometimes look at those events as far and away from who and what we are. Fortunately here in Canada save the few military families who have had to deal with the direct result of the recent conflicts we have been involved in we have been immune to the worst of those pains.  While recent events like the shootings at the Mosque in Montreal and the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Cenotaph three short years ago have touched us more closely , this country has been blessed with relative security. Earned oft by the men and woman who wear the uniforms of our country.

Huda’s sermon brought it one step closer again as she and her family have witnessed and suffer the losses that strife and war bring. Broken families, wounded and dead friends and family, destroyed hoes and places of worship and shattered lives. It is difficult not to be moved by the pain and suffering she and her family have seen and suffered. The pictures she showed of the roof blown open at her home church some time ago put in stark contrast the life we live here and that of those abroad in zones of conflict and war. What many live with and endure is not only a testament to human spirit but to faith. Huda made it clear that there was a path to peace not only for the here and now but into the hereafter. Jesus is that path. As she read passages from Romans she showed us how Jesus made to build a bridge to reach across and to find that peace. Her words spoke of our need to find amongst the wreckage and despair the means to look beyond and find that peace.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 

Noral R.

A Service to Remember on Remembrance Sunday!

Emotional! Gut -wrenching! So much feeling! That Last Call!!! The trumpet music! The bag -pipe!!! These would all have been responses felt by those present at our Remembrance Service today . Indeed it was a service to remember --one that was special, emotive and purposeful from the beginning to the end . Emotional indeed, but emotion stirred lest we forget; emotion stirred to bring us in touch with the past; emotion stirred to give us cleared vision of the day when the lion and the lamb will lie together and war will be no more.

In addition to being just our Remembrance Day Service, this service specially commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War 1,where over 11,000 Canadian soldiers died. A very poignant moment was when L Col (Ret'd)Rev Bill MacLellan gave an Acknowledgement of Veterans and read an excerpt from the journal of the Chaplain during this battle. Then the list of St Andrew's  who gave their lives at both wars, was read .

Then came the Call to Remembrance with the Last Post by trumpeter Christy Lowry, A moment of Silence and the Lament by piper Jamie Letoumeau. The Scripture reading by the Dutch Ambassador was prefaced by a short history of the relationship that exist between Holland and Canada and particularly St Andrew's and the Ottawa Tulip Festival.

The sermon taken from Joshua 4 :1-7 and Romans 8:31-39 took us from the building of a memorial by Joshua, so that the Israelites would never forget the forty years they spent wondering in the wilderness to Paul reminding us of the Covenant of faithfulness from our God who gave us the promise in Romans 8:31-38.

Yes, with confidence in the Word of our God, we can tell our children the remembering the past gives us a common hope in the future that someday someone will find ways to resolve differences with Love.

Beulah P.

Reformation Sunday

Today was Reformation Sunday commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  The order of service used some 16th century reformation practices.  The sermon took the form of a Reformation Drama written, translated and directed by Huda Kandalaft.  St. Andreans with many hidden talents brought the characters to life.

The Reformation, also referred to as the Protestant Reformation, was a schism from the Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe. It is usually considered to have started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses by Luther in 1517.

Through the drama we travelled from the time of the Apostle Peter, Augustine of Hippo, Constantine the Great, Jean d’Arc, Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi, an Orthodox Patriarch, a Gladiator, Queen Elizabeth 1, Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway, captain of the Starfleet and then on to meet X, a fictional character representing the leader of the church in the future.  Scary and informative.  What a voyage!  

The reading from Romans 12: 4-8 tied in so well.  The body of the church has many members with different functions and different gifts.  The Reformation drama revealed the power of Christian Development in action - St. Andreans of different ages with different talents yet each with such faith.

Jeanie H.

Bible Sunday and Reformation 500

Today, two aspects of the service really stood out for me.  First, it was a special day for our grade four students in the Sunday school, whom I teach, and one of whom is my son, because it was the day on which they were given Bibles.  This is an event I particularly enjoy each year, as I still have my own grade four Bible, and it is something I treasure.  I was heartened by Aisling's story to the kids about how she has worn the cover off her Bible from reading it so often over the years.  I can't really say the same, but her devotion is inspiring and has led me to commit to reading my Bible more diligently. Today's event was of particular significance for our family because it was the last Bible Sunday on which one of our children was to receive a Bible.  This means that at least one portion of the promises we made as parents at our children's baptism is being fulfilled: we are teaching them about the gospel by bringing them to Sunday school and I feel good about being faithful to that commitment.

This Sunday was also of great significance in that we commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which means that it has been for 500 years that our Protestant traditions have been enduring - somewhat ironically, a continuity in change: reformed and always reforming, and enduring for centuries in that state.  I was thinking quite a bit about how many generations of my own family have consecutively received grade four Bibles, and lived and shared in the same stories.  It is inspiring to think of all of that history, and to think of the imperative on us from Luther and Calvin to always be contemplating positive change.

Rebecca B.

Foretastes of the Kingdom: Are You the One?

Luke 7: 18-24

This was an intriguing topic for a sermon on Anniversary Sunday at St. Andrew’s.  John the Baptist was a fiery preacher imprisoned by Herod.  He sent disciples to ask Jesus:  ‘Are you the Messiah?’  They didn’t know - would the Messiah be a warrior, a leader...?  How would they know?How would we know?  If Jesus is the Messiah then we see God at work.  Is this the Good News or should we continue to look elsewhere? Rev. Dimock invited us to think of good news as an event and ask ourselves what do we see?  There has been so much Good News, and so many amazing events and things to see this year.  We celebrated Canada Day, Canada’s 150 Birthday, Reformation 500 and St. Andrew’s Church Ottawa’ s Anniversary Sunday.  I read a quote that we should live each day as a life.  What events would I see today in this life?  Anniversary Sunday, Open Table, welcoming new members to St. Andrew’s.    If we look, we see God at work each day.

Jeanie H.

Can a Little Child Like Me?

Thanksgiving. The very word brings to mind turkey, family, friends and celebration. Could it mean any less in our church family?  We had the opportunity today to celebrate the very concept of thanksgiving in our service today.

First we had the chance to thank the very good people of Ottawa2107 for all that they had brought his city. Then we were able to say thank you to these new friends who helped us refit after a crowd at an event managed to badly damage to our gardens and statue. Not only did the take care of the cost of repairs but actually gave us the choice of replacement plants and far more importantly gave of their personal time as volunteers came to help us replant.  Mr. Laflamme , the Executive Director took the time from his ridiculously busy schedule on a day dedicated to family to spend time with us. We thank these special people.

Then came our children’s hymn Can a Little Child Like Me. One of my personal favorites. This hymn always reminds me of the little things in a busy life as an adult we tend to take for granted and not remember to give thanks for every day.

For our comrades and our plays,
And our happy holidays,
For the joyful work and true
That a little child might do,
For our lives but just begun,
For the great gift of Thy Son,
The pure joy of living so wonderfully thanked for all the glory given us.

Even the little things of our service like the prayers included are oft forgotten but when regarded lead us to the thanks we need to give.

A Morning Prayer

With the morning light my hope is renewed,
and all my trust is in you, O God.
Lead me where you would have me go,
and show me what you would have me do,
to display your vision for the world to be
and, as far as I am able,
to live in accordance with your coming reign.
In the name of Jesus.
Amen.

So on this day of Thanksgiving we offer to our church family thanks.

To our custodians who make our church clean and neat James and Shaun
To our office staff who keep us organized and aware Elizabeth and Lorraine
To our Music Director and choir who give us heavenly music, Tom and the Choir
To our Christian education director and her supporting committee and teachers for teaching and nurturing. Huda and the church school teachers.
To our Minister for the Word and its presentation. Karen
To our committees and Session for the oft unseen and unloved work of setting us on our path and keeping it all going
To the Women’ Guild who toil to make this place a true representation of Christiancharity
To our prayer and social groups who make this Church a destination for many people

Lastly and never least our volunteers whose names are simply too many to even try to list for their unquestioned and often unremarked hard effort every day to make this church a home.  We take this time as we gather at the table to hold hands and say a prayer of thanks for all we have, we take a moment to uphold you for all you do for us.

Thank you and thank God that he has given you to us.

Amen

Noral R.