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Join the Rev. Andrew Johnston and Kingston School of Art teacher Debbie Ottman-Smith for an exciting new series for children. Young artists aged 8-10 are invited to St. Andrew’s Church beginning October 22nd to listen to timeless stories from the Bible and learn how to draw and paint. Visit www.a-r-t-s.weebly.com for more details!

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So we continue our journey with the first Christians through the Acts of the Apostles. Persecution drives them from Jerusalem, but God uses their scattering to share the gospel known in Jesus to other peoples (Acts 8:1-20). Philip preaches amongst the Samaritans, and great joy is known. Peter and John are sent to confirm this new development, and the Holy Spirit descends upon this ‘other’ people and they are included into the Church, the Community of Christ, the beginning of the renewal of the Human Community.

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I thought of this work of God, of this divine dynamic of inclusion and community, as I reflected upon a shard of news this week. The campaign of an American presidential candidate sought to attract support with a tweet that used the image of a bowl of differently-coloured candies named Skittles – ‘If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you eat them? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.’ The illustration troubled me greatly. Then a friend shared a response that helped greatly: ‘Are the other skittles human lives? … Is there a good chance I would be saving someone from a war zone and probably their life if I ate a Skittle? … I would eat the Skittles … I would GORGE myself on Skittles … And when I found the poison Skittle and died I would make sure to leave behind a legacy of children and of friends who also ate Skittle after Skittle until there were no more to be eaten. And each person who found the poison Skittle we would weep for. We would weep for their loss, for their sacrifice, and for the fact that they did not let themselves succumb to fear but made the world a better place by eating Skittles …. The real question … is ‘Is my life more important than thousands upon thousands of men, women and terrified children?’ and what kind of monster would think the answer to that question is yes?’ https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10105359509007789&id=838277

Reading this, I am reminded of our Lord laying down his life for the lives of all humanity; I am reminded about the many Christians who have witnessed to life in Christ with sacrifice, even unto death. But today I am also strongly reminded that community has been God’s will since the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a community that reaches out further and further beyond itself to include all peoples. In the Church Christians learn a lesson about community for life in all its fullness. So may it be.

This Sunday morning, join us in the worship of God if you are in the area … and in the practice of community. There is free parking in the civic lot just behind St. Andrew’s off Queen Street. There is a nursery for infants and children up to and including three years of age. There is a program for all other children during the service if they wish. There is a warm welcome in the name of Christ for all.

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A fresco from the third century in the catacomb of Callixtus, Rome.

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We continue our journey through the part of the New Testament known as the Acts of the Apostles. This morning we hear how Peter and John receive a message from beyond, ‘Go … and speak to the people the words of life’ (Acts 5:20).

Where have we found life? What do we experience as life-giving and life-sharing? And what would we ‘speak’ if this message were to come to us? It would be fascinating to hear the different dimensions and perspectives that would be shared, based on our life stories thus far.

For Christians, the one common thread in our words about life would surely be Jesus, God with Us.  It was certainly Jesus of whom Peter spoke back in the day. And those first Christians did not speak of Jesus as doctrine or truth or liturgy or life-style, but as a living, life-giving presence. I love how the earliest images drawn by Christians on the walls of the catacombs or Rome were not crosses or even crowns, but of Jesus as a Caring Shepherd, a Fisher of Humanity, a Passionate Bridegroom.

Jesus is the word of life spoken to us, but also spoken through us. And our ‘speaking’ involves our ‘living’. I remember the new Christian from China who understood this immediately – ‘The only Bible most of my neighbours will ever read is my life’. Christ will be known through Christians. Life through the enlivened ones. I conclude with a prayer from Christians of Nicaragua …

We are the children of the sun are we,
who write in the shadows of evening, who walk in the dark of the night,
who arise in the light of the dawn,
who walk lightly upon the face of the earth,
who sow the field and grow the daily bread,
who know the language of the wind,
who plough the furrows of the old and bring bones to bloom,
who consecrate bread in our own flesh,
who break chains and discover the way … of life.

Join us this Sunday morning if you are in the area. You would be welcome. And there is a free congregational lunch afterwards! Have a look at the Order of Worship below. During the service there is a nursery for infants and a programme for children. Clergy Street is closed temporarily due to construction but there is ample parking along neighbouring streets and in the city lot off Queen Street just behind the church.

Be sure to see

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sunday-perspectives

This Sunday evening, join us and our church community in watching a film, followed by a discussion that invites connections between contemporary culture and the realm of the Spirit. At the Screening Room, 120 Princess Street. See below for more details!

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The main street running through Queen’s was closed to traffic on Friday, and thousands of students beginning their university journey walked its length, exploring what various campus clubs and community groups were offering – St. Andrew’s was there, with an invitation to enter a draw to climb the tower and ring the bells of the church, and of course also to begin the week in the strength and beauty of the worship of the Living God.

And we are beginning a new congregational year. As we explore further the path named ‘Christian’, over these weeks of autumn we shall read a series of selections of the part of the New Testament known as ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. As many have noted over the millennia, it might be better named ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles’. Or, I humbly suggest, even better still ‘The Acts of the Risen Lord by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles’!

This Sunday we read a passage that concludes with the description that ‘the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul … There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and distribution was made to each as any had need.’ (Acts 4:34-35). Quite radical, their religious reality.

Is it instructive that prior to this, the apostles had begun a long prayer … ‘Sovereign Lord’ (Acts 4:24)? As had been illustrated by the healing of the lame man by the gate of the Jerusalem temple known as Beautiful, the sovereignty of this God (known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) was not just powerful, but powerfully on the side of life, and life for all. Was it in this assurance that the Christians were able to calm their fears and become generous in the sharing of life? As we explore the shape and dynamics of the Church anew, might we begin our prayers … ‘Sovereign Lord’?

Join us if you are in the area. Have a glance at the Order of Worship below. During the service there is offered a nursery for infants and children to age 3, also a church school for children 4 and older (though of course they are welcome to remain in the sanctuary also). If you are driving, you are reminded that Clergy Street is closed for a couple more weeks, but there is free parking along the adjacent streets and in the city lot off Queen just behind the church. It would be a pleasure to welcome you, and together begin a new academic year, a new congregational year, in praise of God, the Sovereign Lord.

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The change of seasons is often an invigorating time for me, with hope of new opportunities to come breathing life into the day-to-day. This year I feel blessed to be part of a new congregation, which was an unexpected gift that came with settling in to my position in the St. Andrew’s office. As the lines between summer and autumn blur, so the people around me begin to feel more like a family than I ever could have guessed.

You are invited to take a look at the monthly newsletter below. I invite everyone to come experience the community in this church as we live life in Christ together, worshiping God in joyful unity.

April

Executive Assistant

 

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We conclude a summer series that explores the biblical origins of phrases that are evocative to this day in our English language and literature – I think my favourites were ‘eat, drink and be merry’ (for obvious reasons) and ‘the writing’s on the wall’.

This morning we turn beyond John Steinbeck to the phrase ‘east of eden’. According to Genesis 3:24, this is the area that into which Adam and Eve were sent. The phrase was applied most directly in the next-generation story of Cain, who ‘went out from the Lord’s presence, and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden’ (Genesis 4:16).  The interesting dimension for us this weekend is the role of labour within and without Eden. (Here is a scene from the York Psalter c. 1170 of Eve spinning and Adam delving/digging, from the collections of Cambridge University.

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Our reflections on labour will lead into Holy Communion, as we celebrate the great work of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we shall leave singing ‘Sent forth by your blessing, our true faith confessing, your people, O God, from your table take leave … Your grace shall incite us, your love shall unite us to work for your kingdom, your purpose to find.’

If you are in the area, please join us in the worship of God. If you are driving, Clergy Street to the east of St. Andrews ‘s closed, so parking can be found on either side of the church, and particularly in the public lot just behind the church off Queen (free on Sundays). A nursery is available for infants and children up to the age of three during the service – our Church School resumes next Sunday. A joyous long weekend to one and all!

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