This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!

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As I was driving to church today knowing that I was signed up for the blog, I wondered what would inspire me...what would speak to me in such a way that I would feel compelled to comment. Would it be the note from Karen sent this week? Would it be the sermon? Would it be a hymn?

And then it struck me that we are all on the cusp of new beginnings. We are enjoying the sunny crisp days of fall, a new season and one that marks a turning point in the year. As we munch on apples which are surely best picked during this season, we know that the long hot hazy days of summer are behind us and we have much to look forward to with colours and hot chocolate and cozy evenings.

And then we had the joy of a baptism today, surely the best of all new beginnings. As the proud parents presented their child as a member of Christ’s community, we must all feel the thrill of ordinary water being changed to something greater in order to welcome her into her new life. The course of her life has changed forever as she is cherished and guided by all her sisters and brothers in the church and by our Lord.

And lastly we had the immense pleasure of receiving the message from a student of Presbyterian College, Clara Maranzano who is looking forward to her next new beginning. Clara shared that Jesus’ message wasn’t always easy to process and flew in the face of conventional wisdom. We accumulate so that our lives will be eased and comfortable but Jesus tells us that in order to find this new beginning, we must sell all our worldly possessions and give the money to the poor. Certainly a tough message in today’s world where quid pro quo is the norm. But in God all things are possible and our challenges are to examine the order of our priorities in order to find our new life, our new beginning. As Clara said, Jesus’ challenges were issued through love rather than any other motivation.

As we look forward to our new week, we must greet each new day as a new beginning. This is
the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!

Laura M.

Breaking Bread

Thanksgiving and Communion. Breaking bread.

Today we celebrate both Thanksgiving and World Communion Day. The parallels are obvious. We celebrate with joy the gifts that we have been given to us in our life both spiritual and temporal. We get together to share a meal and celebrate our fellowship. Kith and kin gather, as in the last days with Jesus to celebrate life, friendship, our treasures and tribulations and hopes for the future.

Jesus made us the promise of a brighter tomorrow in fellowship with him as he took the sins of the world upon himself.

1 Corinthians 11:23 – 25, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

When we gather for communion or Thanksgiving it is an opportunity to show the unity of spirit and bonds of fellowship. Our hearth and home are our place of strength and solace as Jesus is for our salvation.

Ephesians 4:3-5: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in all.”

The idea of breaking bread has always been a sign of open friendship. To break bread is to open ones home and meal to those we show a trust and faith in. Jesus did us that same honour. To feast with someone is to get to know then to open up to trust and friendship.

 Originally Thanksgiving was a liturgical celebration marking the end of harvest in Europe. The origins of North American Thanksgiving are under some debate BUT……. It was celebrated in Canada long before the pilgrims came to the US.

According to some historians, the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England, in search of the Northwest Passage.

So no poor American cousin even if Mr. Trump thinks else wise.

Our wish to all, is that the basis of breaking bread where we open our doors to friends and family to share in a celebration of life, faith and hope imbues your celebration.

In loving remembrance of Jesus and his promise to us.

Noral R.


The courage to show up

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Today's scripture reading told the story of Jesus' healing of the sick woman who had bled for twelve years and the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead.  In her sermon, Rev. Dimock spoke of the courage it took the sick woman to show up among a crowd that viewed her as 'unclean' in order to reach Jesus and to receive healing.  She also spoke of the courage Jairus, a religious leader, a member of an organization which felt threatened by Jesus.  Both of these individuals had to be willing to be vulnerable to receive healing.  They had to have faith, courage and humility.  The woman had to endure people shrinking away from her as she approached them.  Jairus had to be willing to humble himself before Jesus, to rise above any lingering mistrust he may have had as one of the synagogue leaders who were at loggerheads with Jesus.  Both had to face the risk of rejection.  Listening to the sermon this morning I felt I had a lot to learn from these two individuals.

Rev. Dimock quoted research professor Dr. Brené Brown who said "The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness."  I can certainly relate to that!  For many years I took pride in being self-contained, stoic and pragmatic.  I didn't find a lot of joy in living like that and certainly not a lot of courage.  And in the end I found this type of shell doesn't protect you from the upheavals in life that sooner or later come to us all. 

Pastor John Orteg writes in his book Soul Keeping, "Sooner or later, your world will fall apart.  What will matter then is the soul you have constructed." I believe that those who are willing to tread the more difficult paths in life with open hearts, embracing their vulnerability, and reaching out to others in a fullness of faith, not only come out stronger but find, even in those difficult times, that "peace that surpasses all understanding" - Philippians 4:7.  The woman who showed up in today's scripture reading would not have been healed if she hadn't had the courage to be vulnerable and approach Jesus.  By having the courage to tell her story about the orange shirt her grandmother made her and open up about the pain of her experiences in the residential school system, Phyllis Webstad also opened the door to healing.  I left today's service with a lot to think about.

Melanie A.

Fearfully and wonderfully

When listening to Karen today about what happens when we are fearful, one of the recurring thoughts in my head is the fears that many of our local neighbours have been experiencing since Friday.  Some were directly in the tornados/storm with little protection, some have lost their homes and/or businesses, some are currently needing hospital care as a result of the tornados/storm, and some are still without power. 

This is the time we see a community come together and demonstrate the wonderful ways that God has created us to be loving and faithful neighbours - from those that have opened up their doors, to helping out at the local shelters etc..  While this how He wonderfully made us, we pray for all those living in fear of not sure what is next after this devastation and that we as His wonderful and faithful servants seek out ways that we can help our neighbours in need.

Colleen G.

Rally Sunday

Today was Rally Sunday. It was a fun surprise to see the balloons in the sanctuary and great to be back into the Sunday school year.  As a Sunday school teacher and mom, I very much enjoy Rally Sunday each year, and was particularly struck this year by how all of the children have grown. Kids I have known since they are babies are now as tall as me! My own children, who started attending St. Andrew's when we moved to Ottawa and they were preschoolers, toddlers, and babies, are now in the older ages of Sunday school, and the youth group. It has been comforting and important for us to become part of this church community over the past decade.  After having spent much of the summer travelling, it was also lovely to see so many familiar faces - and some new ones - and to enjoy delicious homemade soups and corn on the cob, not to mention desserts, with everyone.  It was also a pleasure to meet Sydney, our new Christian Education co-ordinator, today.

I am grateful and pleased to begin another church year with our St. Andrew's family.

Rebecca B.

What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works?

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One part of today’s rich and complex message involved the Epistle of James, one of my favourite books of the Bible for its stirring call to action:  “What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him? … So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.”

I have wondered how this Epistle stood in the context of being “saved by grace alone”, the often repeated standard of salvation in other parts of the New Testament, and so was most interested in Alex’s discussion of the contention that surrounded its inclusion in the Bible, with Luther opposed to it.  I’m glad it is there.  Indeed it is difficult to imagine faith that is not paired with action, and Christ commended the practice of showing good works to glorify God.

Much of Alex’s message dealt with the passage: And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger.  What an instructive phrase for all of us.  One tires of the polluting culture of opinion so prevalent in the media and in our daily lives, proceeding from ideological biases and the need to fill time and space on the cheap, without reference to all the facts and the development of a fair view of events.  There is room for anger, for Christ himself became angry, but it is a slow anger bred from study and discernment rather than a quick and ill-considered anger that simply conforms to pre-existing prejudices.  

Let us have more of the Epistle of James in our lives, a book that speaks through the ages, encouraging social justice, intellectual balance, and respect for what others have to say.

Rob R.

Christian Discipleship

 “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer” by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1883.

“The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer” by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1883.

This morning Alex stirred us with a sermon that really asked us what it means to be a disciple and to stand united.  It made me think about a time earlier this week.  As I was walking home from work, I over heard two gentlemen having a friendly debate outside one of their homes.  When I passed them one of them said: "Talk is talk, and action is action".  This random statement has stuck with me all week.  When listening to Alex, I couldn't help but think talk is talk, and action and action.   

As disciples we are called to talk, yet more importantly to act.  I recognize that even with the best of intentions there are often times where other actions would have allowed me to be a better disciple of the Lord.  It is sermons like this morning's that challenge us to continue to be better Christians in all that we do -- talk and action -- while holding firmly to Jesus Christ, our Lord.

There have been many that have gone before us that are strong examples, who lived wholeheartedly with the whole amour of our God like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  While we can learn so much from them, we must realize what is important is that we are never alone in all the talk and actions that we do -- Jesus Christ is with us.  With him we are stronger, like a bunch of pencils all stacked together that cannot be broken.

Colleen G.