Stradivarius, with his two sons, made wonderful violins, violas and cellos in their Italian workshop in Cremona 300 years ago, instruments much appreciated to this day. I once read a probably apocryphal story that when Stradivarius went out to select wood for his instruments, he chose the part of the tree that had faced north. That was the the side which had known the buffeting of wind and weather, and had been brought through it. Stradivarius believed that that side of the tree produced the most sincere and beautiful music. Alternatively but similarly Wikipedia notes that recent studies suggest that the wonderful sound of his violins is due to an extreme density was the result of slow growth during the harsh conditions of the Little Ice Age in Europe between 1645-1750.
Either way, might it also be somewhat similar with our lives? Do we not often find that people whose lives have been touched by hardship and sadness, who have been most aware of the reality of the human condition, seem also to be the ones who live with great sensitivity and strength?
This morning we gather to begin another week of grace in the worship God, and will focus upon the great 103rd Psalm. The song acknowledges the hard dimensions of life … the brokenness and the fragility of humanity, ‘sins’, ‘inquiries’, ‘transgressions’ and ultimately ‘as for mortals, their days are like grass’ … but does so in the larger context of God’s promises and power, beginning and ending with the song ‘Bless the Lord’.
We will be join in singing ‘Praise my soul the king of heaven’ based on Psalm 103 with its wonderful words ‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore his praises sing’, and the sermon will conclude with the Scottish metrical version of 1650 ‘O thou my soul, bless God the Lord, and all that is within me be stirred up his holy name to magnify and bless’.
Look to the Rock …
(A heart-shaped rock placed along the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha where it is said the risen Jesus asked Peter ‘Do you love me?’)
This morning begins with Kirsten and Gordon Stewart piping on the corner of Princess and Clergy, a call to worship with favourite hymn tunes.
We continue with an hour of prayer and praise led by Michael Putnam – the sermon is entitled ‘Look to the rock …’ based on Isaiah 51:1-11 and Matthew 16:13-20. And we will lift up our souls with the words and music of some wonderful hymns … A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Your Hand, O God, Has Guided; O God our Help in Ages Past; Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation.
Michael is a Candidate for ministry in the United Church of Canada, who has obtained his Master of Divinity Degree from Queen’s University and will now complete a two year internship in a pastoral charge before ordination. Michael is the grandson of the Rev. Dr. Max Putnam, a long time (1958-1976) and beloved minister of St. Andrew’s.
We will conclude with a responsive commissioning ….
Let us go into the world in strength and vulnerability that we may reflect the light of God’s love.
We will model light and love.
The Lord bless and keep us strong and of good courage as we continue on our life’s journey.
May we be both blest and a blessing this week. Amen
As the weeks of summer unfold with joy and beauty, the psalms continue to reveal God’s promises and encourage our praise. The Rev. Stephen Kendall focuses our thoughts this morning on Psalm 121 with a sermon entitled ‘Far Away Places’. Join us!
The metrical version of Psalm 121 found in our Book of Praise was written by John Duke of Argyll, who served as the fourth Governor General of our nation. The line etching above shows Crowfoot addressing the Duke of Argyle on September 1881 at Blackfoot Crossing on the Bow river.
Unto the hills around to I lift up my longing eyes:
oh whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord who heaven and earth hath made.
He will not suffer that thy foot be moved: safe shalt thou be.
No careless slumber shall his eyelids close, who keepeth thee.
Behold, he sleepeth not, he slumbereth ne’er,
who keepeth Israel in his holy care.
‘Take heart … do not be afraid’
As he spoke to the disciples of old in the storm (Matthew 14:22-23), our Lord continues to call out today with words of assurance. Join us as we gather to have our faith renewed and our lives strengthened. We welcome the Rev. Garry Morton to the pulpit this morning – Mr. Morton has lived in Gananoque for the past 15 years and in retirement has been active in the Presbytery of Kingston, returning to St. Andrew’s as a welcome friend in Christ.
Prayers taken from the hymns we shall be singing …
Word of God, across the ages
comes your message to our life,
source of hope, forever present
in our toil and fears and strife,
constant witness to God’s mercy,
still our grace, whate’er be fall,
guide unfailing, strength eternal,
offered freely to us all.
Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
for we have no help but thee;
yet possessing every blessing,
if our God our Father be.
Mid-summer, and with the help of the psalms we continue to explore God’s promises and sing God’s praise. This morning we arrive at Psalm 46. At the conclusion of the sermon we will hear the Scottish metrical version ‘God is our refuge and our strength’ and we shall conclude the service with Luther’s great hymn ‘A mighty fortress is our God’. Join us! As we read Psalm 46 together, what dimension will be used by the Spirit to speak most deeply to you? ‘Therefore we will not fear’ or ‘God is in the midst of the city’ or ‘He breaks the bow and shatters the spear’ or ‘Be still and know that I am God!’ This is the first of the songs of Zion, and one thing is certain – the focus is not upon a place but rather a presence …
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams
make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city;
it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar,
the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
We begin every week gathering together before God, seeking guidance and healing, celebrating grace and beauty. And these weeks of summer we are exploring the psalms, the words God has given us to voice to our innermost thoughts and emotions and speak our souls to God.
This morning we join in a celebration of freedom – Psalm 124.
How have you experienced freedom? How do you express your gratitude for freedom?
What might be the particular Christian dimensions of freedom promised and freedom lived?
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive
when their anger was kindled against us;
the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us,
then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Join us in the worship of God!
During these days preceding Sunday, join also in …
Sounds at St. Andrew’s: Thursday July 24, 7 p.m. Avi Jacobs (on the lawn, organised by the City of Kingston)
An Evening at the Films: Friday July 25, 6:55 p.m. at the Screening Room to see the Australian film ‘Tracks’ and then a time of discussion at the Minister’s home nearby on Ordnance Street. (http://www.moviesinkingston.com/films/tracks.html)