Amidst a colourful harvest display and with wonderful hymns of praise, we gather to lift up gratitude to God for life and God’s providing hand through all its seasons – ‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand’. We pause to consider the providence of God.
We continue our journey through some of the great stories of scripture, assisted by a current exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre of Queen’s University. This morning we hear the moving scene of Joseph, who through ill-treatment by his own family and injustice afflicted by others has found himself in Egypt, responsible for distributing grain in a time of famine, revealing not only himself to his brothers but also God who has been at work, unacknowledged but undeniably, for good – ‘God sent me before you to preserve life’ (Genesis 45:5).
Claes Cornelisz Moeyaert, Joseph Selling Grain in Egypt, around 1650, oil on canvas.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Bader, 1980 (23-038)
Be sure to scroll through the Order of Service (below) to find the announcements, and consider each a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service. Join us!
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Moyses van Wtenbrouck, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1623, oil on panel. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University.
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013 (56-003.33)
‘The Stories Behind the Paintings’.
This Sunday we begin a series that begins with a current exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and looks at the biblical stories interpreted by these amazing paintings.
First in this series is the story of Jacob wrestling all night till daybreak with a stranger, later declaring ‘I have seen God face to face’ (Genesis 32:24-31).
There are many layers to this painting and to this story: the fact that the Holy One chooses to come to Jacob the swindler and deceiver; the dimension of the human encounter with the Holy One as a struggle; the stranger providing Jacob with a new name and a new beginning. With Jacob lunging forward and grasping the stranger, perhaps most developed in this painting by van Wtenbrouck is the determination of Jacob not to let the stranger go until the stranger blesses him.
And be sure to scroll through the announcements on the inside of the Order of Service for opportunities to grow in Christian faith, community and service …
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The Descent of the Holy Spirit – Giotto, Florence Italy: 1304-6
You are God’s Temple
I love this painting by Giotto. Jesus has returned to glory; he and the Father together now send the Holy Spirit, who brings the disciples of Jesus together to become the Church. The walls of the room are practically invisible, the temple is the people amongst whom God now dwells and through whom God now works.
Our scripture lessons will be from the Old and New Testaments (see the order of service below, and the passages printed out on the second page), taking us on a journey from a temple of stone, to the Church, to the Holy City when there is no temple at all because God fills all. We are in the ‘in-between’ time, a time of great responsibility and of great joy.
We have been asking ‘What does it mean to be Christian?’. After ‘abba’ worshipers and ‘disciples of Jesus’, now explore being ‘the temple of God’. And we will be reminded that when Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16 ‘You are God’s temple’, the ‘you’ is plural! We are Christian, we are God’s temple, together …
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What does it mean to be Christian?
We continue to explore the answers … and as God is known as three-in-one, our exploration includes an initial three dimensions. After ‘abba people’, we continue this Sunday with ‘disciples of Jesus’. Join us! It is of course Jesus who teaches us to reach out to God intimately and trustingly as ‘abba’.
But what is a ‘disciple’? The original Greek word means ‘follower’ or ‘learner’. And what does that mean for us? Often being a Christian has been reduced to an imitation of Jesus’ earthly life or an obedience to particular rules or rituals of the Church, and leaves most mortals with a sense of frustration and even failure rather than fulfillment.
We will take a look at Mark 3:13′ Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve … to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim’ the gospel in word and deed. Might being ‘disciples’ be more about a dynamic of being called by Jesus and coming to Jesus and being with Jesus and being sent by Jesus? More of a relationship than anything else?
It is a profound question, and, Jean Vanier suggests, pressing …
‘Either we will receive into our hearts the Spirit of Jesus and become, as never before, men and women of prayer, mercy and peace, real followers of Jesus: or else, everything will disappear in chaos. Today is the moment of Jesus’.
Included in the bulletin this Sunday will be a prayer by Brian Louis Pearce …
you pour out your life for us,
you pour out your life in us,
you pour out your life through us.
Help us to pass it on.
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What does it mean to be a Christian?
We begin a new congregational year with a three-fold exploration …
This morning, ‘Abba Worshippers’.
Many might have the feeling that there is ‘more’. Some might acknowledge the Holy, or a Creator.
The history brought forward in the Bible tells of the almighty, eternal, transcendent God choosing to enter into a closer and closer relationship with humanity. Due to this divine grace known most fully in Jesus Christ, Christians are a people who turn to God as intimately and spontaneously as a child turns to a loving parent.
Though the New Testament was written originally in Greek, it refers to God three times retaining the Aramaic word ‘abba’ – this was the language spoken by Jesus himself, and the word is best translated as ‘dad’. A Christian is one who knows and trusts God as ‘abba’.
Consider studying the sermon texts in advance of the service – Mark 14:32-36, Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 4:4-7.
Come early (10:10 a.m.) for a by-request hymn sing – ‘Come, let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true’!
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The Wild Goose.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is seen as a dove, descending upon Jesus at his baptism – ‘You are my Son, my beloved’ (Mark 1:9-11). Amongst the ancient Celts of Scotland another image for the Holy Spirit seems to be found in their art, that of the Wild Goose.
It is a wonderful image, speaking both to the ways of the Holy Spirit and the dynamics of Christian community. Come and explore the Wild Goose with us this morning!
We will also be celebrating the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. All who ‘love the Lord a little and yearn to love him more’ are invited to join us in this time of assurance.
Here I stand, looking out to sea,
Where a thousand souls have prayed
And a thousand lives were laid on the sand.
Years have passed since they have died
And the Word shall last,
And the Wild Goose shall fly.
Here I stand, looking out to sea,
And I say a prayer,
That the Wild Goose will come to me. (George McLeod of Iona)
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