The beginning of a new church year!

With Advent we look back at the coming of God in Christ, but also forward to God’s completion of all that God commenced among us in Christ.

On the cover of the Order of Service this Sunday I have placed a photo of one of the large mosaics on high in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a image of Christ as ‘Pantocrator’, ‘Ruler of All’ – with the shimmering light, we are reminded of the beauty and authority of the one who has defeated death and is at work to bring human history together for good.

I thought this life of expectation might be explored through some of the great hymns of Advent, beginning this Sunday with one by Phillip Doddridge ‘Hark the glad sound, the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long’.

Doddridge wrote this poem in 1735 after reflecting upon Jesus’ first sermon, in his hometown of Nazareth, when he quoted the words of the prophet Isaiah ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor’, and then declared ‘Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'(Luke 4:16-22).

What I appreciate most about the hymn is the present tense … ‘the Saviour comes’ … ‘you come the prisoners to release’ … ‘you come the broken heart to bind’.

With Jesus ‘coming’, the only real question is how I will receive him, how I am shaping my life to welcome him and the realm of peace and justice he is bringing for all. If you are in the area, I invite you to join us for a service of Advent worship and reflection. There is a nursery for infants and a children’s programme offered during the service, if desired. If you are driving there is free parking available in a civic surface lot off Queen just behind the church and on the streets around (the time of day restrictions on Clergy north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays).

Have a look at the Order of Service below, and please consider each of the announcements as a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service.

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This is the last Sunday of what we call the ‘church year’, the journey that begins with Advent (next Sunday – yikes!) and moves through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. Even though I was raised in a tradition that made a point of celebrating every Sunday as an Easter Sunday, to the exclusion of any other emphasis (even a mid-week Christmas Eve or Day service) I have come to enjoy this emphasis upon ‘seasons’ of the Christian faith. (By the way, I came across a wonderful Canadian church year calendar recently – you can check it out at http://christiancalendar.squarespace.com/

Matthias Gerung (1500 A.D. – 1570 A.D.)

This is Christ the King or The Reign of Christ Sunday. If the year begins remembering the incarnation of God among us in Jesus of Bethlehem, we conclude the year by remembering that the same Jesus whom we knew among us is also the one who reigns with all human history in his hands.

There are so many possibilities for reflection and celebration – the ‘power’ that Jesus exercises is that of the one who loved us even unto the death, the ‘reign’ of Jesus is an assurance that what God commences God will bring to completion, the ‘coming’ of Jesus is a current reality and call for lives preparing for God’s reign of peace and justice now. This year I have selected as my emphasis the vision of Jesus granted by John on Patmos (Revelation 1: 9-20). It is all rather fantastic, as imagined by Matthius Gerung above, but with a very practical message of assurance for us today.

If you are in the area, we invite you to join us in Christian worship. Some great hymns of heritage, some time for reflection and prayer. Lots of free parking on the streets around (time-of-day restrictions on Clergy north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot off Queen just behind the church. During the service, for those who wish, there is offered a nursery for infants and a programme for young children.

Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the announcements – please consider each a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

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Kingston enjoyed its first true snowfall this week.

As I was thinking of gathering for worship this Sunday, I remembered something written by Francois Rabelais in a book based on the narratives of Jacques Cartier (1552): Antiphanes said that Plato’s philosophy was like words which, being spoken in some country during a hard winter, are immediately congealed, frozen and not heard … Now, he continued, we should philosophize and search whether this be not the place where those words are thawed …

With much imagination and hope, the new settlement of New France was described as an island in the St. Lawrence where ‘frozen words’ might be thawed and heard. Wouldn’t it be good to prepare to gather for Sabbath worship with a similar expectation? … thinking of worship as a place were the Word of God is ‘thawed’, lifted off the pages of scripture and held up real and alive.

This Sunday we welcome the Rev. Jennifer Cameron of St. Columba Presbyterian Church in Belleville ON to bring alive the enduring Word of God for us. Jennifer and our minister are participating in a presbytery exchange.

All welcome! There is free on street parking around the church (the time of day restrictions on the streets north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) as well as a free public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street, as well as a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service for those who wish. And afterwards, a congregational potluck lunch!

Have a look at the Order of Service and announcements below, and join us.

And if you have a moment, you might appreciate a six minute PBS interview conducted in 2011 with Eugene Peterson. Peterson died this past week, after many years of service as a Presbyterian minister in the United States and professor at the Vancouver School of Theology, known to millions through his 30+ books on the Bible and the popular paraphrase The Message.
https://www.pbs.org/video/religion-ethics-newsweekly-eugene-peterson/

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Remembrance Day this year is special. Not only does it mark the 100th anniversary of the formal conclusion of World War One, but it falls on a Sunday.

Whatever the weather, the social ‘climate’ on November 11th is always sombre. I appreciate how Remembrance Day is experienced in Canada. We have refused to allow this time be used to glorify war. We still our lives to remember the many lives lost and maimed, in body and in spirit.

And as Christians? We enter into the pain and suffering and tragedy, of our families and of humanity. We hear how our God weeps, and how we are to weep, with those who weep. But we also hear that we weep with them, as we enter into the suffering of others, we called to live so they are embraced with peace and justice. As with Christ, so with Christians.

Join us if you are in the area. There is ample free parking on the streets around, and in the civic surface lot just behind the church on Queen Street. A nursery for infants and a programme for children is offered during the service for those interested. Have a look at the Order of Service. And also the announcements – we invite you to consider each a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service.

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This Sunday we remember the saints who have gone before us. I always appreciate this liturgical opportunity to pause and acknowledge those upon whose shoulders I stand. Even more, I give thanks for knowing that we remain connected, by a lively spiritual bond in Christ.

I love this photo of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Fransisco California. It is an image of what I often feel, as one of the saints here on earth, surrounded by the example and encouragement of the saints the other side of the grave, with the light of the Risen Lord and the Heavenly City providing guidance and strength for all of us along this journey.

Another beautiful evocation of the ‘skyworld’ is offered at the bottom of this post, with words and dance from an Akwesasne perspective (gleaned from a recent post at Artful Devotion by Victoria Emily-Jones.

If you are in the area, we invite you to join us this All Saints Sunday. We would warmly welcome you. During the service there is offered for those interested a nursery for infants and a programme for children. Have a look at the Order of Service – you will notice we will celebrate not only the ‘communion of saints’ but also Holy Communion.

And please consider each of the announcements to join us in Christian faith, community and service.

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“Sky World” was written in Mohawk and English by Theresa Bear Fox of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation as a song of remembrance for those who have passed on. An abridged version was recently recorded by Teio Swathe and released as a music video with Apsáalooke hip-hop artist Supaman fancy-dancing in White Sands, New Mexico. On October 12 the video won a Nammy Awared.

Ha io ho we iaa
Ha na io ho we ia he
Io ha io ha io ho we ia
Ha na io ho we ia he
Ha io ha io ho we ia
Ha na io haioho we ia
Iooho we ia
We ha na io ho we ia he

Let’s put our minds together as one
And remember those who have passed on to the sky world
Their life duties are complete, they are living peacefully
In the sky world, in the sky world

Supaman lives on the Crow Nation reservation in south-central Montana. His own music fuses rapping with traditional Native American sounds and aims to inspire hope; he is best known for his “Prayer Loop Song,” which has over 2.3 million views on YouTube. In 2011 Supaman was interviewed interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, where he shared the story of his conversion to Christianity as an adult and the influence it has had on his life and work.

 

Artist: eyafarev

This is Reformation Sunday. There are great hymns, including Martin Luther’s ‘A mighty fortress is our God’, Jean Calvin’s prayer ‘I greet thee whom my sure Redeemer art’, and the 17th century Scottish paraphrase of Psalm 46, ‘God is our refuge and our strength’. This is Reformation Sunday, when we hear and sing again the call to focus first and foremost upon the presence and promises of the Holy One, and to reform the Church so it is better shaped by the gospel known in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures.

I have chosen to deal this morning with what is considered by many to be the most reformed, most Presbyterian, of emphases … the doctrine of predestination. But not wanting to scare away any visitors or frighten a very forbearing congregation, you will notice in the Order of Service below that I selected the sermon title ‘persevering’. I do believe the two are intricately connected, however, and I pray you will join us in the journey from predestination to perseverance!

There is nursery offered for infants and a programme for children during the service. Ample free parking is found on the streets around (the time of day restrictions north of Queen are not in effect on Sunday) and in the civic surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street.

If you are in the area, we would warmly welcome you to join us, in Christ!

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