You who have given so much to me,
Give me one thing more,
a grateful heart, for Christ’s sake. (George Herbert 1593-1633)
Thanksgiving in Canada is a Christian holiday. It was the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada that petitioned the government of the Dominion of Canada to establish a national holiday for Thanksgiving, a petition granted in 1879, when the Governor General announced ‘And whereas it is our duty to acknowledge publicly to Almighty God our thankfulness for the bountiful harvest with which he has blessed us during the present year … we have thought fit … to appoint this day … as a day of Public Thanksgiving to Almighty God’.
On this holy-day, you are invited to join us and give thanks to God. Not one of us chose to be born, and yet we have breath and blood. We live in a land of beauty and bounty, of diversity and security. We live in a city we did not build, with hospitals and schools and so many at work for the common good. When we were so far from good and God that we could not find our way back again, the Holy One came among us in Jesus to offer a new beginning to us. We know that so much of life is grace, so much of life is gift. And we know that a gift is never truly a gift until the giver is thanked … and so we will gather to lift up our thanksgivings to God.
The sermon continues a series that explores how the architecture of the sanctuary is meant to support our Christian faith. The focus this morning is upon the pews, the history of pews in general but particularly the shape of these pews that remind us we are gathered to be a community, a community of thanksgiving to God!
Have a look at the order of service – wonderful hymns of thanksgiving! – and the announcements and invitations to grow in Christian faith, community and service. There is ample free parking along the streets and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery offered for infants and a programme for children.
A joyous thanksgiving!
Looking at the way it is lifted off the ground, it is clear that we are to think of this as a table, not an altar. This is not a place for sacrifice but it is a place of presence. At this table we gather, and as we eat and drink, we are gathered into the very real presence of the Holy One. How is this accomplished? Many have pondered and debated, but I appreciate most the humility of Jean Calvin before the mystery – ‘Now if anyone should ask me how this takes place, I shall not be ashamed to confess that it is a secret too lofty for either my mind to comprehend or my words to declare. And, to speak more plainly, I rather experience it than understand it.’
The table stands at the centre of our sanctuary to remind us of the central promise of the Risen Lord to be with his people, through life and even death, into life.
I remember vividly a service I attended in St. Andrew’s Church Chennai (Madras) India – now part of the Church of South India http://www.thekirk.in . I was visiting India as part of a monitoring team for Presbyterian World Service and Development. Guy Smagghe and I arrived just in time for a communion service. The Holy Table was decked in white linen. But the amazing thing was that each row of seats had linen over their backs also. It was as if waves of white went forth from the table at the centre, a symbolic way of extending the table to every seat of the large sanctuary, the presence and promises of the Living Lord to each member. (I later learned that this is a custom of the Scottish Presbyterian tradition, whose members first erected the church in 1821, and the Indian congregation maintains it to this day.)
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are invited to join us this Sunday for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper … at the Lord’s Table. Have a look at the order of service. There is a nursery for infants, and a programme for children, during the service. And there are many opportunities to grow in Christian faith, community and service.
Have a look at our monthly newsletter. Its format is a bit strange, due to the fact that it is meant to be distributed as a three-fold paper document. But we pray you will consider each announcement a personal invitation.
Notice the Turpin’s Trail concert, the special Sunday morning speakers (the Rev. Dr. William Morrow on Queen’s Homecoming weekend, and the Rev. Deb Rapport of Arise Ministry), the autumn Tuesday evening study series … and so much more!
At the very front of the St. Andrew’s sanctuary, in a forest of wonderfully-curved and warmly-polished wood, stands an angular, starkly-white stone structure. It stands out, in colour and in material, and it is meant to. It is the baptismal font.
The word ‘baptism’ has its roots in the Greek verb ‘baptizein’, to wash. The font stands before us to remind us how in Christ we are cleansed by God, given a new beginning with our God, in this life and into the next. But I love also how the word ‘font’ comes from the Latin ‘fons’, fountain – the font stands there to remind us that the Holy Spirit continues to flow into and through our lives all our days, as surely as fountains of water gurgle up from the ground.
If you are looking for a church home, or visiting the area, we invite you warmly to join us this Sunday morning. Have a look at the Order of Service below (and notice how the music picks up the theme of music!). We will be welcoming members of Queen’s InterVarsity Fellowship, for whom the historic St. Andrew’s manse is home.
There is free parking on the streets around, and in a public surface lot just behind the church on Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery offered for infants, and a programme for children.
King’s Town had become Kingston, Upper Canada. In the summer of 1817, a group of residents met in the newly-opened Moore’s Coffee House on Store Street (now Princess Street and again filled with coffee houses) and, with pledges of over £500, covenanted to begin a Christian community in the Presbyterian tradition. Before their first minister arrived in 1821, they had not only been gathering regularly for prayers but had also constructed a large church prominently placed on a limestone ridge overlooking the port. At the time, the town’s population was only about 2,500, but they were building upon strong foundations of faith, for future generations of witness.
This weekend we gather to give God thanks for our heritage in the Christian faith, for the witness of those before us in this corner of God’s creation who have shown us the way by ‘prayer, precept and example’, and for the opportunities we have in this time and place to witness to Jesus Christ and the promises of God.
If you are in the area, please join us for a wonderful service of celebration and commitment. The Mayor of Kingston, Bryan Paterson, will join a member of St. Andrew’s and student of Queen’s, Jamie Summers, in reading the Scriptures. The Moderator of the 143rd General Assembly, the Reverend Peter Bush of Winnipeg, will be preaching. The St. Andrew’s Choir will be presenting a special composition by John Hall based on Psalm 84, ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord … Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young at your altars, O Lord. Happy are those who live in your house, singing your praise.’
There is free parking on the streets around and in the public surface lot off Queen Street just behind the church. During the service there will be offered a nursery for infants and young children, and also a programme for older children and youth. Have a look at the announcements, and join us not only on Sunday morning, but for a film night, Bible study, choir … in Christ!
It’s the beginning of a new academic year. It is also the beginning of a new congregational year!
If you are looking for a church home, away from home, you would be welcome at St. Andrew’s. This year, St. Andrew’s is celebrating 200 years of witness at the centre of the city that became Kingston. Two ‘Fathers of Confederation’, John A. Macdonald and Oliver Mowatt, were raised in and were active as members of this congregation. It was this church that began Queen’s University. On one of the back pews you can still see where cadets from RMC engraved their signatures, including that of World War One ace, Billy Bishop.
Our worship is what could be described as simple and ‘classic’. The hour begins with the Bible being brought in and placed before us. The focus of our worship is listening for God’s Word in scripture, sermon and, on the first Sunday of each month, Holy Communion. We sing our souls from a hymn book that brings forward 2000 years of Christian praise, and we are accompanied by an organ of over 3000 pipes. We are part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, a branch of the Church of Christ that traces its heritage back to the ‘reformation’ of the Church in the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly under Jean Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland.
We are excited to be in partnership with Queen’s InterVarsity Fellowship, with eight students living in the historic residence next to the sanctuary, forming an intentional Christian community on the downtown block. With IV you will find lots of study and prayer opportunities with fellow students! http://queenschristianfellowship.weebly.com
And there are lots of opportunities to serve with the love of Christ through initiatives that have their home within St. Andrew’s. The Kingston Street Mission offers a safe place 8 p.m. to midnight for all struggling with accommodation issues and loneliness https://www.facebook.com/Kingston-Street-Mission-218081651859148/. The Mess builds community amongst individuals from across the social spectrum through the creative arts (Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) https://www.facebook.com/themesskingston/ And Special Meals offers a free home-cooked meal to all every Sunday evening, 5 p.m.
You are invited to join us on Sunday mornings. And if you have any questions, please contact our Minister, Andrew Johnston, at email@example.com
At the corner of Princess and Clergy Streets – our doors are now blue!
The sanctuary, with the great ‘St. Andrew’ window on the Princess Street side.
The manse, and now home of the Queen’s InterVarsity Fellowship community.