P33 Celtic Cross at sunrise

The season of summer can be a time of reflection and renewal.
As each of these weeks begin, I invite you to be opened more fully to the mystery and opportunity of life by considering the experiences and prayers of others before us.

This Sunday I will explore a prayer by Alistair Maclean, a minister of the Church of Scotland and Gaelic scholar, who captured a new way of thinking about and speaking to God in the tradition of the people of the Hebridean islands. The phrases are evocative in their beauty, the assurance is strong in the gospel of God’s care …

Though the dawn breaks cheerless on this isle today,
my spirit walks upon a path of light.
For I know my greatness,
Thou hast built me a throne within thy heart.
I dwell safely within the circle of thy care.
I cannot for a moment fall out of the everlasting arms.
I am on my way to glory.

The Order of Service is attached below. If you are in town, join us!

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Coliseum in Rome, Italy where thousands of Christians were tortured and killed as entertainment for Roman citizens.

We welcome back The Rev. Dr. Karen Bach this morning to our pulpit!!

According to theologian Sally A. Brown, Ephesians 2:11-22 represents the ‘heart of the theology of Ephesians’ and ‘is meant to shake empires.  What seems like a gentle prod to Gentile and Jewish Christians to ‘get along’ with each other, is actually a highly charged and potentially treasonous claim that negates the power and privilege of the Emperors and privileged of the Roman Empire.   Similarly, this word from Paul challenges Christians of today to radical acceptance of and engagement with all people regardless of their status, their origin, their faith, or any other ways in which they are different.


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The Feast of Esther, painted by Lievens c. 1625

(North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh)

A step back in time 2500 years. A story about a king whose impulsiveness cost him little but cost many others dearly. And two women of dignity and integrity, acting on the courage of their convictions for the good of others.

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Hollyhock beside the limestone of the St. Andrew's Manse

Hollyhock beside the limestone of the St. Andrew’s Manse

The Sundays of Summer

Remembering …
Sunday, July 5, 10:30 a.m. As we begin the first full month of summer, we share bread and wine and remember God’s promises in Jesus Christ … for life (I Corinthians 11:17-­‐26). We thank Helen Lowe for playing the organ this morning.

The Rev. Ralph Kendall
Sunday, July 12, 10:30 a.m. We welcome Ralph to the pulpit, as he explores ‘Is that really in the Bible?’ (Esther 1:1-­‐ 22; Matthew 5:38-­‐48; 2 Timothy 3:14-­‐17). Elders Donna Delacretaz and Ada Mallory will lead in prayer, Andrew Fraser will lead in music.

The Rev. Dr. Karen Bach
Sunday, July 19, 10:30 a.m. Karen is well-­‐known and much appreciated by St. Andrew’s, and we are grateful to have her leadership in our worship once again.

Allison Dyach
Sunday, July 25, 10:30 a.m. Allison came from Knox Church Waterloo to worship with us while at Queen’s Faculty of Education. In June Allison attended the Truth and Reconciliation events in Ottawa as a representative of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. We will welcome Allison back to St. Andrew’s to share her reflections and our calling as Canadians and Christians. Elders Alberta Saunders and Larry Moore will lead us prayer.

Our minister returns from vacation with a series of sermons that invite us to enter into the prayers of others.

‘Though the dawn breaks cheerless on this isle today,
my spirit walks upon a path of light.
For I know my greatness,
Thou hast built me a throne within thy heart.
I dwell safely within the circle of thy care …’
Sunday, August 2, 10:30 a.m.
The first prayer to be explored is by Alistair Maclean, steeped in the spirituality of the Hebridean isles. And all ‘who love the Lord a little and wish to love him more’ are invited to gather for Holy Communion.

‘O sweet and loving God,
when I stay asleep too long,
oblivious to all your many blessings,
then, please wake me up,
and sing to me your joyful song …’

Sunday, August 9, 10:30 a.m.
This morning we will be guided in worship by a prayer offered by Mechthild of Madgeburg (1207-­‐ 1282). We will also with joy gather to baptise Isla, daughter of Jonathan, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

‘Bring us, O Lord God,
at our last awakening
into the house and gate of heaven … ‘

Sunday, August 16, 10:30 a.m.
Our summer prayers continue with a contribution by the great English poet and cleric John Donne (1572-1631), reminding us of the larger frameworks of life.

‘i thank You God for this most amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes’

Sunday, August 23, 10:30 a.m.
A 20th century prayer is provided by the American poet e.e. cummings, an invitation into the spiritual discipline and delight of gratitude.

‘God of wholeness,
you have created us bodily
that our work and faith may be one …’

Sunday, August 30, 10:30 a.m.
And as our contemporary, in the English Wesleyan tradition, Janet Morley contributes our final summer prayer, helping us give voice to our need for ‘wholeness’ from the ‘God of wholeness’.

Personal Prayers for Summer

Creator of all, thank You for summer! Thank You for the warmth of the sun and the increased daylight. Thank You for the beauty I see all around me and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation. Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family, and for the more casual pace of the summer season. Draw me closer to You this summer. Teach me how I can pray no matter where I am or what I am doing. Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence, and light my path with Your Word and Counsel. As I enjoy Your creation, create in me a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You. Amen.

That we can glimpse you within creation is a beautiful thought, but also tells us that you desire to be seen, to be found and known. Open our eyes, Lord, as we walk through this world, feel the wind and sunshine, see the majesty of creation unfolding before our eyes. Help us to see you. Amen.

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the Alex Colville exhibition at the National Gallery. The paintings are really quite remarkable, and all the more so once I better understood their context. The scenes are of the ‘ordinary’ of the east coast of Canada – a dog leaping to greet a child returning from school, a couple lounging on the deck of a ship with the woman looking straight at us through her binoculars, a horse running past a clapboard country church. Colville spent a lifetime documenting, even celebrating, the ‘ordinary’ as a result of his experiences as a young man. After graduating in 1942 from Fine Arts at Mount Allison University, he had enlisted to serve in the Canadian War Art Programme. The scenes of the terrible devastations of war, and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, remained with him upon his return to Canada and through all his years. It was as he remembered those scenes that he appreciated, and painted, and celebrated, the ‘ordinary’ scenes of daily life and relationships of loyalty and love … with deep gratitude for the security he dared not take for granted, and that he knew could so easily unravel.

The Holy Table of St. Andrew's 'Do this in remembrance of me'

The Holy Table of St. Andrew’s
‘Do this in remembrance of me’

This morning we continue our custom of sharing bread and wine around the Lord’s Table. With these ‘ordinary’ realities, we celebrate the extraordinary grace of these days – we did not choose to be born but we have life, before we were born our God came in Jesus to show us the love that will not let us go, whatever our season or circumstance our God assures us that evil will not triumph over good and that life is the enduring, ultimate reality. Around the Lord’s Table, we ‘do this’ (1 Corinthians 11:17-26) and we remember most of all that he lives, and that in him we live.

Have a look at the order of service, and join us if you are in the area, as we remember and rejoice!

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IMG_3760 two birds singing


I love waking to not only the light of a new day but also the songs of the birds in the maple and scotch pine trees around our downtown home. John Donne called the song birds of the earth ‘heavenly choristers’, and I agree. As we gather for our second annual outdoor service, we will consider ways the scriptures invite us to hear the birds call us to joy and trust, to God. To name just a few, think upon the insignificant sparrows cared for, the mother eagle sheltering her young, the birds nesting at the altar of the Lord. And we will sing with the birds, more hymns that usual, each of which refers to the birds and their praise. Have a look at the order of service below, and join us if you can, and linger for a congregational BBQ. (In the case of a rain cloud breaking, we will continue our songs but perhaps in the shelter of the sanctuary … as do the birds in the branches of the trees.)

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I am having a hard time keeping my fingernails presentable for meetings and pastoral visits. As spring gives way to summer, I continue to enjoy ‘working’ in the garden. It is a season of great joy but also of some frustration, as I am reminded that weeds flourish as well as anything I plant and tend. And I recall a parable of Jesus, about weeds growing in a field of wheat. The issue was that if the weeds were pulled, the sprouts of wheat would be pulled along with them. When the landowner was asked ‘Do you want us to gather the weeds?’, the answer came ‘No, let both of them grow together until the harvest’ (Matthew 13:24-30).

These words speak to me of life far beyond my small city garden plot. What are we to do about all the evil in this world? As I hear these words today, I believe Jesus is highlighting that there is a danger in focusing too greatly on what is wrong – we have a proven tendency to slip into self-righteousness and battle evil in ways that only increase evil in the world. Perhaps much more faithful to God and respectful of others might be a focus upon persevering to do good in the very face of evil. This is all the stronger an imperative when we acknowledge that we are ourselves  that field in which weeds and wheat are growing together – in his commentary Jean Calvin wrote ‘To my mind, the intention of the parable is simple. So long as the Church is on pilgrimage in this world, the good and sincere will be mixed in it with the bad and the hypocrites. So the children of God must arm themselves with patience and maintain an unbroken constancy of faith among all the offences which can trouble them.’

Have a look at the Order of Service below, and if you are able, join us. Come and consider the good, and be renewed in strength for life.

(There is a nursery for infants during the service. We will be introduced to our St. Andrew’s 2015 summer tour guides, Chloe Grande and Annie Dilworth. And our special appeal for the refugees of Syria continues with over $1500 already received …)

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