Author Archives: Andrew Johnston

One summer we enjoyed camping along the Saguenay Fjord and ended up in Tadoussac along the St. Lawrence River. One winter we spent some time in Québec City. Why would I think of these as places that strengthen my understanding of what it means to be a Christian in Canada? 

As Canada Day approaches, a sermon on the role of the Huguenots on these shores, including references to John Ralston Saul’s book ‘Reflections of a Siamese Twin’ and the very particular cross still worn by many members of L’église Réformé de France.

We warmly invite you to join us this Sunday morning and begin this week of grace in the worship of God with Video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzEy41z3sqfRm8X_lLfKGUA
and with Podcast at
https://anchor.fm/st-andrews-presbyterian-church-kingston

This is Father’s Day. And National Indigenous People’s Day. And the Lord’s Day. We invite you to join us and gather in the praise of God.

We may still be constrained in our travels, but these days I have been journeying in mind and heart back to some of the places that I have visited and have shaped my understanding and experience of Christian faith. This Sunday morning I invite you to travel with me to the shores of North Africa, to Cyrene, then onward to Hippo and witness of Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

We will hear Psalm 103 and Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. We will sing the metrical psalm ‘O Lord, thou art my God and King’ (the Scottish Psalter of 1650), and hymns ‘O matchless beauty of our God’ (Augustine) and ‘Christ is made the sure foundation’ (7-8th centuries, anonymous’). We will lift up prayers of thanksgiving and of intercession.

We warmly invite you to join us Sunday morning with Video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzEy41z3sqfRm8X_lLfKGUA
and with Podcast at
https://anchor.fm/st-andrews-presbyterian-church-kingston

 

International travel restrictions remain in effect, but it is important to remember the larger frameworks of our world and of our lives. These days I have been journeying in mind and heart back to some of the places that have shaped my understanding and experience of Christian faith.

This Sunday morning I invite you to travel with me to the Elisabethkirche of Marburg Germany, 

named after a young woman and her particular witness to her Lord. Here I am challenged with the question, who are the saints of our day?

Join us Sunday morning with Video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzEy41z3sqfRm8X_lLfKGUA
and with Podcast at
https://anchor.fm/st-andrews-presbyterian-church-kingston

Extract of a congregational letter from the Session of St. Andrew’s, distributed Thursday June 11:

            On Monday evening, the Elders of St. Andrew’s gathered (thanks to Zoom) for their stated monthly meeting. One of the major topics was to be a study of the Guidelines for Re-Opening Church Buildings published recently by the Presbyterian Church in Canada
https://presbyterian.ca/2020/05/29/session-resource-on-re-opening-church-buildings/.
It just so happened that it was also the day that the Ontario government announced the possibility for places of worship in certain regions to open, subject to certain restrictions of attendance and physical distancing at all times (though promised guidelines for spiritual leaders have not been received at time of writing).

            After prayerful discussion and discernment, the Elders agreed a) that St. Andrew’s continue to offer online worship opportunities at least well into the foreseeable future, and b) that church leadership work through the quieter weeks of summer and the Minister’s vacation to prepare for a return to worship in the sanctuary in September.

            Behind these decisions were two considerations. One consideration is that it will be some time before a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, and until that time there will be members who will not and perhaps should not physically gather for worship … hence the continuation of online worship opportunities. The other considerations revolve around the fact that public health guidelines are still evolving … and even now these all point to the fact that though our sanctuary may be unchanged, the way we are present in it will be very changed, and will need significant preparation. From what we understand at this point, it is not just a matter of roping off ‘buffer’ pews, but also designating directions for use of doors and aisles, no fellowship times before or after worship, sanitizing washrooms and furniture, and even perhaps restrictions on singing.

            While some of us may feel this planning and these precautions are excessive, we are asked to consider that they are undertaken out of care for the more vulnerable among us. In this spirit, the Elders felt it best to plan for the beginning of a new congregational year in September with the assurance that we have taken full advantage of evolving guidelines and competence.

            And to provide a different perspective completely, Lori-Kim has shared some humour about the Post-Pandemic Church from Ireland … https://youtu.be/fIfItkvCVfA?fbclid=IwAR3brDAlQ2aInuucMjnpPqYfihvYI0whUpTp-AGeu5719PNnbMtlCSHEKCo

It has been a hard week for mind and heart and soul. Our eyes have seen a black man murdered by a white police officer. Our ears have heard the cries of brothers and sisters continuing to suffer systemic injustice and racism. ‘How long, O Lord?’ they protest. ‘What are we to do?’ we ask, on our knees.

Strange as it may seem, I was led towards an opening as I turned my thoughts to this Trinity Sunday. It all began with a painting by an Indian Christian artist A.J. Thamburaj shared in a recent post by Victoria Emily Jones at http://www.artandtheology.com

I look forward to sharing my findings with you. But here is a hint. On the left I see a representation of God the Creator. In the centre I see the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy One with us. But the power that the Holy Spirit bestows is that of the Son, the power for us to take up the life of Jesus in this world. It is a way we know from scripture (we will read Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:1-11) and symbolized in this painting by the wounds he carries, the wounds he suffered while with us and the wounds he is suffering this day with all who suffer.

As this is the first Sunday of the month, we shall celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Be sure to have some bread and a cup ready. You might even light a candle. Let us all create a sacred space in which to know the presence and promises of the Holy One for this humanity of God’s love.  God knows, we need it. 

Join us Sunday morning with Video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzEy41z3sqfRm8X_lLfKGUA
and with Podcast at
https://anchor.fm/st-andrews-presbyterian-church-kingston

The Church and Anti-Racism

The horrific death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of police in the United States, and the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Regis Korchinski-Paquet (currently being investigated) in Toronto, are calls for racial justice.

Anger, rage and helplessness have been expressed along with calls of lament and for action and for justice. Together, in Living Faith, we affirm that

God’s justice is seen
when we deal fairly with each other
and strive to change customs and practices
that oppress and enslave others.
Justice involves protecting the rights of others.
It protests against everything that destroys human dignity. (LF 8.4)

It is our collective task and responsibility as followers of Jesus to witness to the truth of the Gospel, to speak clearly against evil in this and all of the forms and to continue Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in the world. Black lives matter, and to say anything other rejects the biblical affirmation that all are lovingly made in the image of God.


In 2019, the General Assembly said that,

“The Presbyterian Church in Canada affirms that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating for superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust” (A&P 2019, p. 35).

This underscores the kinds of just relationships we are called to build, in both the great commandment to love God and each other, and as ambassadors for reconciliation.

For those seeking resources in responding to the call for racial justice, consider:

Additional resources will be coming in the weeks ahead at
www.presbyterian.ca

Pentecost! 
When John and I, as Director of Music and Minister, began our preparations early in the week for this Sunday’s worship time, John mentioned to me ‘Pentecost is a great celebration. Whereas Christmas and Easter have become very much wider-community events, Pentecost remains something precious within the Church’. Precious indeed, for the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit! (Acts 2)

And at almost the same time The Visual Commentary on Scripture http://TheVCS.org  introduced me to an 11th century mosaic (above) that fills the dome of the Hoses Loukas monastery chapel in Phokis Greece. I have enjoyed exploring it as I prepared for Sunday’s online worship.

And now I look forward to joining with you in prayer and praise, in reading and reflecting upon scripture … and through it all, celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit in binding us together into the Living Body of the Living Lord.
In a time like this, when we are constrained at every turn and know our frailty in every dimension, it is a joy to be reminded that the Church is the the work of the Holy One, whose sovereign will is to embrace us in Jesus Christ and lead us into a new community and humanity of peace and justice.

Join us Sunday morning with Video at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzEy41z3sqfRm8X_lLfKGUA
and with Podcast at
https://anchor.fm/st-andrews-presbyterian-church-kingston

During the service we will be reading the chapter from our contemporary Canadian Presbyterian statement of faith, Living Faith, about the Holy Spirit in our lives as individuals, in the Church, and in the world.