Danylo Movchan (Ukrainian, 1979–), “Baptism of Christ”
This week on CBC I heard Tom Powers interview Chloe Benjamin, author of the recently released novel The Immortalists. It is the story of four children who are told by a fortune-teller of the exact day, month and year that each will die, and how this knowledge affects their lives thereafter. At one point in the interview Tom Powers ‘turned’ to ‘us’ and asked ‘If you could find out the exact date your life would end, would you want to know? And if so, would you start doing things differently?’ Good questions!
It is not just thoughts of endings that should challenge us, however.
This Sunday we will hear again the story of the baptism of Jesus, and the voice that declared ‘You are my Beloved’ (Mark 1:11). We celebrate this scene because of all it tells us about Jesus, but also because of all it reminds us about ourselves. This Jesus is God among us, God come for us. In Jesus we have been embraced, we have been adopted, we have become the beloved of God.
As fascinating as it may be to inquire of our endings, might it be more formative to remember our beginnings? As we hear the story of the baptism of Jesus, we are reminded that we are sought out. We are loved with a love that will not let us go, even when we are unloveable. We are beloved, and that love yearns to shape our lives. Contemplating our beginnings, the question is asked of us … will we now start living differently?
If you are in the Kingston area, please join us in the worship of God this Sunday. Our service is classic and reflective, at the centre of this city. Have a look at the Order of Service, and the following invitations to grow in Christian faith, community and service. There is ample free parking in the area – a public surface lot off Queen Street just behind the church, and on street parking (any time-of-day restrictions on the streets north of Queen Street are not enforced on Sundays). During the service there is a nursery for infants available, and a programme for children. It would be a joy to welcome you!
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Have a look at the Minister’s monthly newsletter. It is formatted as a trifold double-sided paper brochure … but we hope you can make sense of it. And join us as you are able!
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As this new year began, I was introduced to this wood engraving entitled ‘Flammarion’ found in an 1888 volume, The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology. It shows a man passing his head through a gap in the sky. The caption that accompanies the engraving in Flammarion’s book reads: “A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where heaven and earth touch.”
I admit I would love to ‘see’ what lies on ‘the other side’, what lies ahead of this year and even this life. Having said that, I count it a blessing to begin this year of grace with Epiphany Sunday, with the great story of how God sought out and led those ‘outsiders’ to the side of the child of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12). I am reminded of the whole gospel story of how God has not only come to humanity but seeks out and embraces humanity in Christ, and how now in Christ we find ourselves where heaven and earth meet, and we ‘see’ beyond to understand what is true and beautiful, what is enduring and eternal.
Our new Advent-Christmas-Epiphany banners are still before us, and this Sunday I will be focusing upon the characters at the top right of this one banner, folks like you and me, who continue to be drawn to the side of Jesus the Christ.
Join us if you are in the area. You can peruse the Order of Service below. There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children available during the service. Parking is available free in a public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street, or on neighbouring streets (the time of day restrictions are not enforced on Sundays). You will be warmly welcomed!
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Join us for an hour of candlelight, carols, anthems and readings, celebrating God coming among us ‘in beauty and truth’, in Jesus. Supported by the 3,500 pipe organ and Choir of St. Andrew’s.
Ample parking on the streets around, and in the public lot off Queen Street just behind the church.
O come, let us adore him! O come, let us adore him! O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
The warm colours of this scene provide a hint of the artist’s provenance far from the snows swirling outside this morning … Rupert Charles Wulsten Bunny of Australia created this painting in 1896 to conjure the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the announcement that God wished to work a new beginning for humanity through her. All would hinge upon Mary’s response (Luke 1:26-38).
This fourth Sunday of Advent we acknowledge how God now approaches us. Not by angel but by Holy Spirit. Not to participate in the incarnation of the Christ, but rather the extension of his kingdom of peace and justice and joy. And so much now awaits on our response.
If you are in the area, you are warmly invited to join us in worship. From the Order of Service below, you will notice that we will not constrain our joy, and we will be singing some carols in advance of our evening candlelight service (7:30 p.m.) A nursery for infants is offered during the service. Children will be invited to remain in the sanctuary for the service. Ample parking can be found in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street, and along the streets around (please note it is possible to park on the streets north of Queen on Sundays, even during the designated daylight prohibited times).
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This morning we are led in reflection by the Choir of St. Andrew’s. Readings from the Prophets are developed by anthems and carols that look to the coming of Christ. Join us as we continue to journey towards Christmas …
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John the Baptist
Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen, 1967
John the Baptizer is calling the people to be open to a new beginning with God. That new beginning, we believe, they knew, and we know, in Jesus the Christ.
As I think of John pointing to the approaching Good/God, I think of the wonderful phrase ‘Faith is a bird that feels the light and sings while it is still dark’.
And this Advent, as I consider not just the coming of Christmas but the coming of the Kingdom of God, I wonder … Is faith a verb for me? Does my faith cause me to act in ways that visibly point to God’s promises for humanity and demonstrate God’s presence in this world? Upon what action could I place my name, as a mark that I have put my faith in the God who is before us? I shall think on this.
If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join this Sunday for corporate worship. The Advent soul will be lifted by some wonderful music that includes a sweep from the Genevan Psalter of 1551 through J.S. Bach and Charles Wesley to contemporary Joan Collier Fogg. There is ample free parking on the streets about and in the surface public lot just behind the church on Queen Street. There is a nursery and a programme for children during the service. Have a look at the Order of Service, and the announcements … and join us!
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