“Christ and the Woman of Canaan” by Annibale Carracci 1595

This Sunday it is International Women’s Day. How wonderful that on this day we come to this passage in the Gospel according to Mark of the Syrophoenician woman’s encounter with Jesus (Mark 7:24-30). Of all the scenes of the life of Jesus recorded in the gospels, this must be among the most controversial, but also one of the most meaningful.

I admit that I have infused the sermon title – ‘the challenge to change’ – with an intentional ambiguity. It would be natural to presume that I will  highlight the need for us to be open to being changed. This is important, and I will explore it with particular reference to Jesus in this scene, who was willing to revise his perspective on the boundaries of God’s mercy and his calling. As hard as we find his words to the woman, his example of being willing to be changed is surely equally challenging for us.

But even more I will focus upon the challenge to change … not ourselves, but others. It is the strength of this woman – who is desperate but does not despair, who holds out for an alternate reality and persists with that vision – that changes Jesus. Two characters in this story, and both are examples for us in our stories.

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us this Sunday morning. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher. 

Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 548KB)

Next Sunday we will gather to continue in worship of God … and to enjoy a congregational lunch after the service!

Priscilla Williams, Lancaster PA www.glorygazing.com

This Sunday we begin our journey towards Easter, under the banner ‘Mending the Heart’. It is not easy for us to admit, but many of us are living with broken hearts … as we see others suffer, as we struggle in our own relationships, as we acknowledge our failures and yearn for a sense of purpose, as we witness creation itself being compromised. How good it is to be reminded that healing and renewal are possible, by the grace of God.

This morning we locate ‘mending the heart’ first and foremost in God. Our lives are renewed as we place our broken hearts within God’s great love known in Jesus. Healing and renewal is not found in being ‘holy’ (as in doing or believing certain things) but rather in being willing to be embraced within the great beating heart of the ‘Holy One’ (Mark 7:1-23).

I thought this painting by Priscilla Williams accompanies this gospel text perfectly. This artist of Lancaster PA has explained of her painting ‘Safe Place’ that the broken heart at the centre is shown to be held within God’s greater heart, and even while broken it bears some of the orange ‘glow’ of God’s life. God’s heart itself is located within three circles representing the triune community of love that God is, Father Son and Holy Spirit. And the strong diagonal lines behind speak of the strong, sovereign character of God, and God’s love. https://glorygazing.com/inspired-paintings/inspired-paintings-group-2/safe-place/ 

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us this Sunday morning. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher. 

Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 521KB)

Next Sunday we will continue with ‘Mending the Heart: Accepting the Challenge to Change (Mark 7:24-30)

Kume Bryant, Jesus Walking On The Water, 2016

Kume Bryant, Jesus Walking On The Water, 2016 – Used with artist’s permission

This morning we arrive in the Gospel according to Mark at another scene of the disciples struggling upon the water (Mark 6: 45-52). As I searched for a painting that would help me delve the various dimensions of this scene, I came across this wonderful work by Kume Bryant. Kume describes herself as a Korean American artist living and working in Tucson Arizona. She writes ‘I want my art to cheer the hearts’ and ‘When painting biblical stories, that time is spent in God’s presence. Feeling closer to Him.’ (http://www.kumebryant.com) With all its colour and movement, this painting certainly cheers my heart, and has helped me to acknowledge God’s presence  … feeling Jesus closer, just as he came to the disciples of old in their time of distress.

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us this Sunday morning. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher. 

Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 750KB)

Next Sunday we will continue our journey through Mark and gather to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Vincent Van Gogh, 1890 – ‘The Fields’, said to be his last painting. ‘It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow’ (1 Cor 3:7)

This morning we pause our journey through the Gospel according to Mark to welcome the Rev. Prudence Neba of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon. Prudence has served nine years as Minister of Word and Sacrament, most recently as Associate Pastor to a congregation in Douala, responsible for up to 4000 people on a given Sunday. Prudence is completing her doctorate at Presbyterian College Montreal and McGill, and has travelled to share with us something of her perspectives on Christian faith and ministry.  And after the service, a lunch together in the church hall!

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. After the service a time of fellowship over tea or coffee, so please linger if you can and allow us to introduce ourselves more fully. 

There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher. 

Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 636KB)

Next Sunday, we will look at Mark 6:45-52 (and hold our AGM!)

Jesus Mafa Art – Northern Cameroons, West Africa

We arrive at two revealing scenes this Sunday in our journey through the Gospel according to Mark.

In the first, Jesus is rejected by the people of his hometown (Mark 6:4). Might familiarity be an enemy of faith? For many of us raised in the Church, this possibility comes as a challenge.

In the second, Jesus sends his disciples as partners in his mission of extending the healing and embrace of the Holy One. And he declares that they need to travel light (Mark 6:8). For many of us in the Church, accustomed to frameworks of support from creeds to physical sanctuaries, this exhortation comes also as a challenge.

As I consider these scenes, I find this painting by the Jesus Mafa community in northern Cameroon helpful. It is just one of dozens that date back over 50 years and an initiative to make the gospel real in a particular region of this West African nation. A team of a church leader, a theologian and an artist would read a particular gospel passage and invite people of various villages to enact what they heard. Photographs were taken of the skits and tableaux, and the artist would eventually paint a canvas. It was a tremendous project, one that prompts the question … what might the gospel look like in my community? What does it mean for me/us to go in the power of the Risen Lord ‘lightly’?

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. After the service a time of fellowship over tea or coffee, so please linger if you can and allow us to introduce ourselves more fully. 

There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheelchair lift inside the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall from the church parking lot mid way along Clergy Street, and hearing assist devices are available upon request from an usher. 

Have a look at the Order of Service and bulletin below, and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 547KB)

Next Sunday, we welcome the Rev. Prudence Neba of the Presbyterian Church in the Cameroon to St. Andrew’s.