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With the sun strong and the breeze gentle, the days have been just too wonderful. With so much to enjoy outside, I am late to my computer, and yet I can delay no longer – I withdraw inside only for a moment, and only to extend an invitation to gather tomorrow morning … outside again. Sunday is our annual St. Andrew’s service on the lawn!

Bring your favourite lawn chair or blanket if you wish. Or claim one of the chairs already set up and waiting. The Guild of St. Andrew’s Ringers will be playing before the service, the new St. Andrew’s Handbell Choir will be accompanying our hymns, John Hall will be playing a piano wheeled out from the chapel, and the Choir will be presenting their anthem from the steps at the corner of Princess and Clergy.

There is great joy to worshipping God at the beginning of each week, and there is an additional delight in praising God with feet planted on the earth, under the shade of the trees, beneath a great over-arching sky. In preparation I thought of the poetry of Dorothy Frances Gurney – The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth,– One is nearer God’s heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth – and selected scripture lessons that focus upon ‘garden’ – the first garden (Eden), the garden of struggle (Gethsemene), the garden of new beginnings (resurrection), the watered garden (God’s providential, covenantal care).

Have a look at the Order of Service below. Join us if you are in the area, and stay for a congregational BBQ afterwards. The intersection of Princess and Clergy is still closed, but there remains free street parking on either side, and particularly in the public lot behind the church off Queen Street.

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hand holding Sacred Eagle Feather

I was visiting in the hospital yesterday, and as is often the case, I ended up being the one strengthened. A member of St. Andrew’s introduced me to a fellow patient, who shared with me a poem she had just written: the verses were moving in their simplicity and sincerity, and each concluded with the refrain ‘I am crying tonight, I am crying tonight, I am crying tonight … Are you listening?’ Those words gave voice to what had been growing all week long within me.

It has been a long week, with much crying.

Amongst neighbours … the massacre at the Pulse club in Florida. As a prayer posted on the website of the Presbyterian Church in Canada offers, in tears …
In the face of violence in Orlando and against people in the LGBTQ community,
we come to you in sorrow
for those whose lives are cut short or forever changed;
we come to you in frustration and anger
because of the violence in this world;
we come to you in confession
for we have been too often silent
when we should have spoken up against hatred and bigotry
and too often we have tolerated violence that breaks your heart
http://presbyterian.ca/2016/06/13/prayer-for-orlando-florida/

Across the continents … I heard the news that ISIS burned 19 Yazidi young women to death in iron cages in Mosel Iraq, for refusing to co-operate and offer themselves for the sexual pleasure of the terror group’s soldiers. The tears are all the heavier as I hear religion used to justify such inhumanity.

And much closer to home … I have been preparing to begin a new week with National Aboriginal Sunday, and reflections on the relationship between indigenous peoples and others (like me) on this land. There are tears, many, and of many, but in their midst I am also provided with a way through the them. I am reminded about the indigenous tradition of the talking circle, and how the one holding the eagle feather speaks and all others listen. As our indigenous neighbours hold the eagle feather, and speak about their experience of treaties and residential schools and so much more, we called to listen. (Have a look at the recently released excellent resource A Time For Hope produced by the P.C.C., available at http://presbyterian.ca/healing/ ) And also, when we gather before God, it is as if we hold the eagle feather, with the assurance in Christ that our God listens … even and especially through our tears … and even now is responding for good, for all, with a realm of justice and peace in which we can place ourselves with commitment.

Join us in the worship of God! The intersection of Princess at Clergy may be closed, but there is free parking on the streets around and in the public lot off Queen Street just behind the church. A nursery for infants 3 and under is offered during the service, as is a programme for children. Have a look at the announcements in the Sunday bulletin, and join us as you are able!

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As I now sit at my desk, extracts of a prayer by John Baillie comes to mind and heart …

O you in whose boundless being are laid up all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness, 
grant that through constant fellowship with you
the true graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within my soul:
the grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart:
the grace to await your leisure patiently and to answer your call promptly;
the grace of courage, whether in suffering or in danger;
the grace of boldness in standing for what is right;
the grace to treat others as I would have others treat me;
the grace of charity, that I may refrain from hasty judgement;
the grace of silence, that I may refrain from hasty speech;
the grace of forgiveness towards all who have wronged me;
the grace of tenderness towards all who are weaker than myself;
the grace of steadfast in continuing to desire that you will do as now I pray.

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This Sunday the focus is upon the extravagant grace of God known in Jesus Christ, the foundation for ‘grace-filled’ lives. All welcome! The intersection of Princess and Clergy is closed, but the accessible door along Princess remains open, and there remains free parking in the public lot just behind the church off Queen Street and along neighbouring streets. A supervised nursery is offered for infants during the service if desired, and the children are being treated to a treasure hunt during the service. The Rev. Cheryl Horne will be leading us in worship – our Minister will be preaching at the Anniversary Sunday service of Sand Hill Presbyterian Church. Your presence would be our blessing! Have a look at the Order of Service and the announcements …

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All welcome this Sunday morning. The intersection of Princess and Clergy is closed, but the accessible door along Princess remains open, and there remains free parking in the public lot just behind the church off Queen Street and along neighbouring streets. A supervised nursery is offered for infants during the service if desired, and a programme for young children. Your presence would be our blessing! Have a look at the Order of Service and the announcements …

Download (PDF, 302KB)

Last weekend we carefully sowed some climbing nasturtium seeds for a sunny spot at the front of our house. It has become something of a family tradition. While waiting (im)patiently for them to sprout, this week I thought of the parable of Jesus, told in Matthew 13:3 – ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow …’ And then I thought of the wonderful painting by Vincent van Gogh (1888) …

the-sower-sower-with-setting-sun-1888

Following the parable, there is an exhortation to examine what sort of soil we might be for the growth of the gospel (Matthew 18-23). But the emphasis of the parable itself  (Matthew 13:4-9) is upon the sower – the generous broadcasting of the seed, and the abundance of the ultimate harvest (Matthew 13:4-9).

This is a wonderful season in which to rejoice in the generosity of God and the extent of God’s grace in our lives and world, and to be reminded that God is at work to bring all things together for good. Join us in the worship of God this Sunday! A nursery for infants and a programme for children is offering during the service. The intersection of Princess and Clergy is now closed to traffic, but there remains ample parking along Queen and in the public lot behind the church off Queen. Have a look at the Order of Service and announcements below, and particularly the notes by our Director of Music, John Hall.

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