Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the seventeenth century and became, and has remained, a classic work of Christian faith. It is an allegory, describing ‘Christian’ along his journey to the ‘Celestial City’: every character and every experience is symbolic of our faith journey.

One scene came to mind this week as I was pondering my sermon. Christian is travelling with a companion named Hopeful. Their journey has been filled with trials and exhaustion, both physical and spiritual. At one point they had veered off the King’s Highway because this alternate way looked easier, and slept that night on the grounds of a castle. It turned out to be on the grounds of Doubting Castle, and its owner Giant Despair found them and locked them in his dark and nasty dungeon, where they were beaten and suffered terribly. The ordeal continued for three days and nights, and despite their wounds, they lifted up prayers of praise to God (like Paul and Silas in prison Acts 16:25). Just before dawn on the third day, Christian jumps up and exclaims ‘What a fool am I, to lie in this stinking dungeon, when I could just have easily been walking in liberty. I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that can, I am sure, open any lock in Doubting Castle’. The two got to their feet, unlocked the cell irons, and set out again along the King’s Highway.

What might we receive from this scene? When doubt and despair come upon us, I am reminded that they need not overwhelm us. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and by our baptism into him, we have seen our destiny, we carry with us the key that opens the way to life, free and full. That key is a symbol of the promise God has made to us in Jesus. Using that key allows us to continue along the way of life.

‘Living into the Promise’ is what we will consider as we begin this week of grace.

If you are in the area, we warmly welcome you to join us. There is ample free parking along the streets around the church and in a public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery for infants, and a programme for children.

What could be more appropriate than to begin the week of St. Andrew’s Day (November 30) in God’s praise at St. Andrew’s!

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Jean-Francois Millet – The Angelus (1857-59)

It became one of the most reproduced paintings of the nineteenth century. It shows two individuals pausing during their harvesting of potatoes for prayer. After completing it, Jean-Francois Millet wrote ‘The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed’.

The painting had been commissioned, but when the purchase fell through, it was sold for 1000 francs. Less than thirty years later, it exchanged collections for 750,000 francs.

I found it interesting that between being completed for the commission and the actual sale, Millet added the steeple in the background. It certainly adds aesthetically to the work of art. But it is also a reminder of the connection between personal faith and the witness of the Church. This Sunday we will consider the steeple, and how the architecture of our church building is a reflection of, but also speaks to, our Christian faith.

Samuel Taylor-Coleridge once noted ‘An instinctive taste teaches (us) to build (our) churches with steeples which point as with a silent finger to the sky and stars’. The pointed steeple of St. Andrew’s is a reminder of the Holy One and of Eternity, built upon the four-square base of a stone tower, a reminder of the worship of the people, calling for us to participate.

A church steeple certainly points us ‘up’, but there is another dynamic to be considered also … just as a lightning rod reminds us not only of flashes in the sky but also a power that descends. I will hold this part mainly for the sermon itself, but warmly welcome you to join us!

Have a look at the Order of Service below (we will be receiving new members with great joy) and also the invitations to grow in Christian study and community during the week. Sunday mornings a nursery is offered for infants and a programme for children during the service. And free parking is available on the streets around the church and in the public surface lot off Queen Street just behind the church.

The bells they sound on Bredon, And still the steeples hum.
‘Come all to church, good people’ – Oh noisey bells, be dumb;
I heard you, I will come.                                     (Richard Milnes)

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I hope this title does not disappoint too many too much. The preacher is not intimating that he is taking a break – in fact, the congregation will be doubly sermoned this Sunday. The sermon from the pulpit will highlight that other sermon given whenever we enter the sanctuary, alone or in company, for corporate worship or personal reflection … the silent sermon given by the stained glass windows of St. Andrew’s.

This Sunday continue our autumn series on the Architecture of Our Faith. A church is both a building and a people. The building echoes our experiences of revelation and leads us into greater understanding of the Holy. The sanctuary tries to speak for the speak but also to the people. We have considered the doors, the font, the table, the pews, the pulpit, and now the windows. How do they help us to articulate and understand the presence and promises of God?

If you are in the area, we warmly welcome you to join us in worship. There is a nursery for infants during the service, and a programme for children. And there is ample free parking along the street and in the public surface lot just off Queen Street behind the church.

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

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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 St. Andrew’s Day Social, the morning bible study, the autumn Tuesday evening study series … and so much more!

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Join a great chorus of praise this Reformation Sunday afternoon! With participation from congregations that include First Christian Reformed, St. Mark’s Lutheran, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Sand Hill/St. John’s Presbyterian, Strathcona Park Presbyterian, Sydenham Street United and Westside Christian Reformed … we will be celebrating eight of the great hymns of the Reformation, and of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, accompanied by the 3,000 pipes of the St. Andrew’s organ, interspersed with reflections on the five ‘solas’. A warm welcome to all.

 

Free parking on the streets around the church (at the corner of Princess and Clergy Streets) and in the surface lots along Queen Street (one just behind the church, and another between Sydenham and Montreal Streets).

A might fortress (Luther); I greet thee who my sure Redeemer art (Calvin); All people that on earth do dwell (Kethe, d. 1594, Genevan Psalter 1551); How brightly beams the morning star (Philipp Nicolai 1556-1608); We praise you O God (anon, Netherlands 1626); Now thank we all our God (Martin Rinckart (1586-1649); Jesus shall reign (Isaac Watts 1674-1748); Will you come and follow me (Iona Community).

 

What a surprise. Our tour of the sanctuary this Reformation Sunday leads us this morning to … the pulpit!

The Word of God, not only read in Holy Scriptures but particularly as communicated by the Holy Spirit, as heard in the sermon preached from the pulpit, has been a foundational element of Reformed worship to this time and place.

In his Geneva Catechism of 1565, Jean Calvin would write God has left us his holy word; for spiritual doctrine is a kind of door by which we enter his heavenly kingdom (Q300). When the question is raised Where are we to seek for this word?, the answer is not only In the Holy Scriptures, in which it is contained (Q301), but also Every one ought to exercise himself in the daily reading of it, and all should be especially careful to attend the sermons when the doctrine of salvation is expounded in the assembly of the faithful (Q304). The Reformed understanding insists upon allowing the work of the Holy Spirit through informed interpretation and application, and the discernment of the corporate experience …

This dynamic of the Word of God gathering, shaping and sending a people is seen in the prominence of the pulpit in a sanctuary of St. Andrew’s.

Have a look at the order of service, and join us in the worship of God. There is a nursery for infants during the service, and a programme for children also. If you are new to the area, there is ample free parking on the streets around, and in the surface public parking lot off Queen Street just behind the church. A warm welcome awaits you, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Living Word.

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