Some of us began our journey to Easter this past Wednesday with ashes on our flesh in the shape of a cross. All of us in Christ are marked by blessing.

I remember how moved I was by one item during a display of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Ottawa some years ago. This was a priest’s amulet or bracelet, and on it were recorded words of scripture. This was identified as the oldest recorded quotation of scripture, older than any scroll fragment. I presume this was due to the fact that the bracelet was made of silver and therefore was more durable than any piece of parchment. The point for me was, however, that these oldest words of recorded scripture were not words of law or commandment, of ritual or obligation, but … of blessing – ‘The Lord bless you and keep you … ‘ (Numbers 6:22-26).

Now it strikes me as equally awesome that the first words of Jesus, in that great compilation of his teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel according to Matthew, begins also with … blessing. These weeks of Lent we will dwell upon these words and this promise, beginning with ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3).

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join in the worship of God. There is a nursery and a programme for young children offered during the service. There is even a monthly congregational lunch after the service this Sunday! Parking can be found in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street and on the streets around (the time of day restrictions north of Queen Street do not apply on Sunday). Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the invitations to join us in community and service … you would be welcome!

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Have a look at the Minister’s newsletter for the month of February. (It is produced as a tri-fold print resource, but I hope you can make sense of it.) And join us as you are able!

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It is an amazing print. It dates to 1504 and is the work of famed Albrecht Durer (currently at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre on loan from the National Gallery of Canada). It is amazing in its technical mastery, and in the boldness of what it conveys. Adam and Eve are portrayed with such strength and beauty, and equality – as a member of St. Andrew’s who visited recently remarked, they are almost mirror images of each other.

In this story of ‘beginnings’, we know what follows. The peace and perfection that is portrayed in the garden of this world does not last for long.

As Christians we also know, however, that the story continues still further. God has offered humanity a new beginning in Jesus Christ. And this new beginning is not a ‘second edition’ but the ultimate completion. Paul declares that Christ is ‘the last Adam’ (I Corinthians 15:45) – I understand Paul to mean that in Christ we have seen, we know, and we celebrate the fulfillment and destiny of humanity.

Looking at this print, I look back but also forward – back over history and forward in Christ – and I celebrate anew the promise of new beginnings by the grace of God.

Join us if you are in the area – you will be warmly welcomed. There is a nursery during the service for infants, and a programme for young children. There is free parking in the city surface lot just behind the church on Queen, and along neighbouring streets (note that the time of day restrictions on the streets north of Queen are not applicable on Sundays). Have a preview of the Order of Service below, and join us in the opportunities for Christian worship, growth and service as you are able.

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This is not a photo of St. Andrew’s Church Kingston, nor of its minister. Curious? Read on …

These last days of January, we remember the larger Church of Christ to which we belong with all other Christians. In recent years we have welcomed representatives from sister branches within the Church – from Lutheran to Roman Catholic. This Sunday we will celebrate the World Communion of Reformed Churches of which we are a part – over 80 Christians in over 225 denominations around the world.

This morning we welcome to the pulpit the Rev. Stephen Kendall, Principal Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada who serves on the Executive of the WCRC and has attended three General Councils (in Accra Ghana, Grand Rapids USA and Leipzig Germany).

The photo above is not of Stephen, but of the Rev. Najla Kassab, an ordained minister in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the new President of the WCRC, preaching in the same Wittenberg Germany church in which Martin Luther also preached! The sanctuary of St. Andrew’s is also beautiful and historic, however, and Stephen also is a fine preacher!

If you are in the area, we would welcome you to join us. There is a nursery offered for infants and a programme for children during the service, if desired. There is free parking in a city surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street, and on the neighbouring streets (please note that the time of day restrictions on the streets north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays).

Have a look at the Order of Service, and join us in Christian worship, study and service.

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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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