Sunday May 10, 10:30 a.m.

"Bach with His Family at Morning Devotion" by Toby Edward Rosenthal (1870)

“Bach with His Family at Morning Devotion”
by Toby Edward Rosenthal (1870)

Every Sunday our wonderful Director of Music John Hall provides notes on the music that he has selected to enrich our worship of God. He describes the context of the composers and their compositions, but also adds personal perspectives on the spiritual and social dimensions of the music. This Sunday John even provided a painting along with his notes!

This is Christian Family Sunday.

We read from the contemporary statement of faith of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Living Faith, that ‘All Christians are members both of a human family and of the church, the household of God.’ And the words of the final hymn will bring together the prayers and reflections of the hour –  ‘Now thank we all our God … who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way’.

In between, the sermon will explore how our homes can be a realm where human and divine love intersect. There is a poem that begins ‘Happy the home when God is there’ (Henry Ware the younger, 1794-1843) – I believe the issue is not whether God is present or absent from our homes, but rather whether we acknowledge the presence and promises of God in our homes, whatever our family constellation.

And so we come to the painting contributed for Sunday’s service by John Hall (be sure to read his notes in the Order of Service that follows – yes that is one family!). Amidst all the activity of the scene, a mother is helping a child read the Bible and hear a holy word for life … Helping another (whether spouse, child, grandchild, or even neighbour or friend) know some dimension of God’s love is what ‘home’ is all about.

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We live in an era and a land in which certain politicians will offer any promise or initiative as long as the party’s position is strengthened, with little apparent thought given to the long-term and common good. Before I cast another stone, I must admit that the state of the Church is little better – we are divided into congregations and denominations that vie for support often via negativa and often look only to our own good rather than the ministry of Christ that we hold in common.

‘Presbyteros’ is the Greek word for ‘elder’. The Presbyterian Church is a church ordered by elders elected by the people and ordained to spiritual leadership. I am thankful to be in a tradition that does not make any claim to being the ‘only’ or ‘true’ church, and acknowledges that it is but one way to follow Christ faithfully. But this church does have integrity and relevance – the Presbyterian way has scriptural warrant, is connectional and credal, and ecumenical.

National Gallery of Scotland

National Gallery of Scotland

This morning we will be ordaining and induction of four new elders to service in St. Andrew’s Church Kingston. I am particularly attached to the words of the prayer of dedication found in a former Book of Common Worship (printed below) and pray that the lives of all Christians ‘adorn the gospel and speak of your Kingdom before all’. Contrary to the painting by John Henry Lorimer from 19th century Scotland, these elders will include more women than men (thank God!). And their first act will be to serve us during the Lord’s Supper.

Have a look at the Order of Service attached below, and join us praise and prayer this morning. A nursery for infants and a programme for children is available during the service.

Prayer of Ordination of Elders
Almighty Lord, Prophet Priest and King, who by the power of your Word and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit does rule your Church and has appointed the ministry of faithful women and men to guide and guard your flock by the Gospel: accept these individuals to be Ruling Elders in your Sovereign name; set them apart by the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be shepherds in the Church. Grant them your truth and grace. Save them from pride, self-righteousness, apathy, uncertainty, discouragement and fear of others. Endue them with your holy wisdom and your steadfastness, that they may rule in fear of you for the salvation of your people and the good of the Church. May their lives and words adorn the Gospel and speak of your Kingdom before all. May they be faithful all their days, so when you come as our Great Shepherd and only Judge, each one may receive your recognition: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.     Amen.

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Heart-garden-small-300x190

Sunday April 26, 10:30 a.m.

As I write this, an invitation from the national offices of the Presbyterian Church in Canada has appeared on my desktop screen. It just popped up, but amazingly, providentially, seems directly connected to this coming Sunday’s service of worship …

The message during our worship will be offered by the church school, through readings and interpretative dance, focusing upon God’s great gift in Jesus Christ. It will conclude with lyrics by Matt Maher from his composition ‘Christ is Risen’, ‘Come awake, come awake, Come and rise up from the grave’.

The invitation of my inbox offers an opportunity to take up the life we know in the risen Lord, particularly his ministry of reconciliation. ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:18).

The invitation is to colour a paper flower – it sounds easy but will be hard. The national Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s closing event will be held June 1-3, 2015 in Ottawa. Church groups across Canada are being invited by KAIROS to make Hearts for Reconciliation, to be ‘planted’ by local school children on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General of Canada. We are being invited to embrace our native brothers and sisters who were residential school students and acknowledge that what we offered may have been with the best of intentions but has brought hurt and harm, personal and generational, cultural and indeed spiritual.

To take up the work of reconciliation is not easy for us as Christians, but then it was not for Christ either. And it is the way of life. ‘Come awake, come awake, Come and rise up from the grave’

Join us in the worship of God this Sunday (see the full list of announcements in the attachment below) – there will be papers with flower patterns waiting!

p.s. for more information, check http://presbyterian.ca/healing/
http://presbyterian.ca/wp-content/uploads/Heart-Garden-Instructions-KAIROS-Final.pdf

 

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Sunday April 19, 10:30 a.m.

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A couple of years have now passed, but the time is deeply etched on my heart. For almost two weeks I was privileged to be part of a group from the Presbyterian community in Canada who were invited to learn about the lives and witness of Palestinian Christians. We were welcomed by the ‘living stones’, the people who have kept the Christian faith alive and real ever since our Lord himself walked that land, and now find themselves a besieged minority, neither Muslim nor Jewish.

This is a photo of large stone, one of three by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. These stones lie where it is said the Risen Lord asked Peter ‘Do you love me’, not once, not twice but three times (John 21: 15-20) – graciously offering that all-so-human disciple the opportunity to reverse each of the times he had denied Jesus on the way to the cross.

This morning we will formally welcome a wonderful group of new members into our congregation. Together we will be reminded that Christian fellowship is based upon the repeated forgiveness and enduring embrace of our Lord. Ours is not a great and pure holy love, but a humble, sincere, growing love that is willing to learn from our failures and be open to new beginnings.

We are like that heart-rock with our Living Lord is still working upon us, by water and the Word, to be living testimonies of the grace of our Lord in this corner of humanity.

Join us! A nursery for infants, a programme for children during the service. And after the service this Sunday a pot-luck congregational lunch – bring something if you can, but your presence will be the gift.

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