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.

Five Loaves and Two Fish – John Larson, UK 2011

“A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand”
(Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace). Or rather, in the scene we arrive at this Sunday in the Gospel according to Mark … a miracle is when 2 + 5 = 5000 (Mark 6:30-44). 

As I reflected upon the passage, I explored a myriad of paintings that have emerged from the contemplation of his scene through the ages. Many highlight Jesus, at the centre of the miracle. Many emphasize the crowd in number and hunger. In the end, I selected the contemporary painting above because it narrows the focus to the five loaves and two fish – completely inadequate and yet transformed into abundance, with the human dedication multiplied by the divine intention to work good.

So much to explore in this scene, in the dynamics of human life, and in the challenges and surprises of faith! It is a particularly appropriate passage to consider as this is the Sunday we are asked to pray for the work of relief and development we support through PWS&D http://www.werespond.ca. What are our modest contributions in the face of global hunger and injustice? As with the loaves and fish, they are declarations that we believe in the impossible, by the grace of God, that we believe hunger can be met, that all can be gathered in life of body and soul.

Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” As Christians we are a people who are ‘other’!

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. During this service we will celebrate Holy Communion, and all are welcome ‘who love the Lord a little, and yearn to love him more’.

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, 621KB)

Next Sunday we will consider a challenging passage in which we are told Jesus could not perform a miracle! (Mark 6:1-6)

The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter Gabriel Max, 1878
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

I remember the first time I saw this painting in Montréal, and how moved I was. As I stood before the canvas and took in the scene, two things in particular struck me … the fly on the arm of the lifeless girl, and the gentleness of Jesus taking her hand in his. Is this the moment just before the words ‘Talitha cumi’ are spoken? This morning we arrive at two interwoven stories (Mark 5: 21-43), one of a girl and one of a woman. Both involve a healing touch. Both demonstrate how the power of the Holy One flowed through Jesus to individuals vulnerable and on the periphery. The first generation of Christians who treasured these stories did so to communicate their own experience of the Risen Lord in their midst, their own experience of the struggles and joys of faith. And so this Sunday we continue to explore what it means to be a Christian today through this journey of the Gospel according to Mark. 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, 561KB)

Next Sunday, Mark 6: 30-44!

Releasing the Demons ~ A contemporary tapestry by Андрей Мадекин (Andrei Madekin), of Moscow Russia

This morning we return to our journey through the Gospel according to Mark, and we begin with an oft-neglected passage. It is the scene in which a man possessed by evil spirits is freed by Jesus, with the spirits leaping from the man into a herd of pigs that then jump into the sea and to their death (Mark 5:1-20). It is ‘neglected’ perhaps because we do not feel as comfortable speaking about ‘evil spirits’ as did the first Christians, or indeed Christ. But perhaps this is all the more reason for us to ponder the scene. And besides, the scene concludes with a call that is extended to all of us – to return to our daily lives freed for life in praise of God and service of others.

When I looked for a piece of art with which to focus my meditations, I found this work by Andrei Madekin. Though most references to the artist were in Russian, I learned that Madekin comes from a family of textile artists, and after graduation from the Moscow Institute of Applied Technology he has created over 40 large tapestries (over three square meters each) since 1990, many on biblical themes and scenes. Quite wonderful!  

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us on this Sunday. Certified child care is offered during the service and a programme for young children also. After the service this Sunday a monthly congregational lunch is offered, 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.

Next Sunday we will continue our journey through Mark with two scenes focusing upon Jesus’ interaction with two women (5:21-43), and conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with our own prayers for the Church of Christ, Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Luc Olivier Merson (1879)

I remember hearing a story about a philosophy professor who set an end-of-term examination with only one question, and in fact with only one word: students were given blank paper and two hours to answer the question ‘Why?’.

Part of what makes us human is the ability to ask ‘why?’ and to struggle with possible answers. This week our humanity has been stretched as we have asked why … in the wake of an international assassination, why is violence claimed to be more effective than diplomacy? in the midst of burning wildfires and melting icecaps, why must creation suffer so terribly? as we grieve for the many who died in the plane crash, why do the innocents suffer? 

It is human to ask ‘why?’. For me, an even greater question is ‘how?’ How is God involved in the violence and the suffering of this world? How am I to live as a Christian in which the evil prosper and the good suffer?

It is in light of the ‘how?’ question that I have been exploring our gospel reading for this Sunday (Matthew 2: 13-23), of Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus in flight to Egypt.

I only recently came across this painting by Merson, and I have been very moved by it as this week has unfolded. Joseph is lying exhausted on the hard ground. The donkey desperately searches for a blade of grass or two in its hunger. The infant Jesus is held in the arms of Mary, fleeing for their lives to a foreign land. How does God relate to human suffering? God chooses to be in the midst of it. 

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us on this Sunday. 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. Linger for a time after the service and enjoy a congregational potluck.

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.

Next Sunday we will resume our journey through the gospel according to Mark.

The cover of a plaster sarcophagus in the catacombs of Rome circa 200’s A.D., with the inscription “Severa—may you live in God”

As I prepared to continue this series on the ‘journeys of grace’, I thought first of course of the journey of the magi, those ‘gentiles’ and ‘foreigners’ being led by a star to the Christ of God in that manger of Bethlehem. It is a story that speaks so movingly of the great embrace and sovereignty of the Holy One.

But then I saw this image of an early Christian tomb, and was struck by the presence of the man behind Mary and the Child. It is Balaam, the gentile and foreign diviner whom God raised up to speak to the King Balak of the Moabites. In one of his oracles, Balaam says ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near – a star shall come out of Jacob’ (Numbers 24:17). On this sarcophagus lid, Balaam has been brought forward several centuries to stand by the Child of Bethlehem, and there he points to the star. Balaam now declares that this child is the Anointed One of God promised long.

What if we were to think of this scene anew, imagining that the star now represents Christ? If the star of old led the magi to the Christ Child, where might the Living Lord be leading us today? Where is Christ to be found in our lives, in this world?

If you are in the area, we warmly invite you to join us on this Epiphany Sunday. 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 (just click the link to download), and consider each hymn and prayer and announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

And next week join us as we continue our journey as we ponder the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.