I read a column by George Monbiot recently in The Guardian Weekly, commenting on the way digital technology and contemporary urban culture are moving us further and further from actual tangible experience … with significant consequences. ‘It is no longer rare to meet adults who have never swum except in a swimming pool, never slept except in a building, never run a mile or climbed a mountain, never been stung by a bee or a wasp, never broken a bone or needed stitches. Without a visceral knowledge of what it is to be hurt and healed, exhausted and resolute, freezing and ecstatic, we lose our reference points. Climate change, distant wars, the erosion of democracy, resurgent fascism – in our temperature-controlled enclosures, all can be reduced to abstractions’. These insights caused me to pause and reflect deeply.

They also caused me to be all the more grateful. The reason is called ‘The Mess’, and it has a home at St. Andrew’s. Three days a week individuals break out of virtual reality and social isolation to seek human community and enjoy the experience of tangible creativity. It is a wonderfully healing and hope-filled place/people. This Sunday Sandi Dodds shares with us some of the biblical imperatives and personal joys of ‘The Mess’.

Join us if you are in the area. There is parking along the streets and in a public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. A nursery for infants and a programme for children is offered during the service. Have an advance peak at the Order of Service, and please consider each of the announcements that follow a personal invitation to join in Christian faith, community and service.

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Fritz von Uhde. Der Gang nach Emmaus (1891)

Last Sunday I mentioned reading about an uproar in England, over the National Trust rebranding the Easter weekend event on its over 300 historic properties from ‘Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt’ to ‘Cadbury Egg Hunt’. Many Christians expressed dismay and even anger about dropping ‘Easter’.

Beyond wondering how Christian is the symbol of the ‘Easter egg’ itself, I was amused to read also that John Cadbury, the founder of Cadbury in 1824, was a Quaker. As a committed Quaker, John would probably have had little interest in the current uproar – he did not believe in ‘Easter’ himself, or any special Christian day for that matter, because he believed that every day is one on which to encounter and celebrate the Risen Lord!

At St. Andrew’s, we certainly not limit Easter to one Sunday. With many other Christian traditions, we will celebrate Easter as a season, lingering before the mystery and the joy of the Resurrection, continuing the celebration for 50 days all the way to Pentecost.

This Sunday we begin with the wonderful story of the two despairing disciples walking away from Calvary whose hearts and lives are renewed by a stranger who accompanies them (Luke 24: 13-35). The sermon title is taken T.S.Elliot, The Waste Land (lines 359-365)

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman –
But who is that on the other side of you?

If you are in the area, have a look at the Order of Service, and join us. There is even a congregational pot luck afterwards, with always lots to share with visitors. There is ample parking on the streets around and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. And during the service there is a nursery offered for children and a programme for children five and over.

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Though the office may be closed, our hearts have never been more open. 

Good Friday Service Friday April 14, 10:30 a.m. we join with congregations Lutheran and United, this year we will be gathering at Sydenham Street United Church.

Easter Morning Service Sunday April 16, 10:30 a.m. it is with joy we hear again the gospel of life known in the resurrection of Jesus. With joy we celebrate all that this ‘rising’ means for us. With joy we sing our souls ‘in praise of love that doth abound’. After the service, we are planning to take a congregational photo outside, thanks to Bill and his drone!

 

 

‘Calmly plotting the resurrection’ is the title of a book of Lenten devotions by Donna E. Schaper. It is a great title. The ‘plotting’ refers not to active arrangement (as in ‘they were plotting a coup’) but to charting the movements of another (as in ‘they are plotting the orbit of the comet’). Schaper challenges me to be open to identifying and joining the movements of God for life, in my life.

This Sunday we ‘plot’ the path of Jesus towards Resurrection.  In the cantata ‘No Greater Love’, the Choir of St. Andrew’s will point to this path of Jesus with scripture and song. It begins with the praise of others, but proceeds through betrayal, abandonment and death.

In plotting the path of Jesus, to light through darkness, we are reminded of the great power and promises of God for Christ and Christian. We are reminded that when we face darkness, even death, God is not absent, God is at work for us there, perhaps especially there. In plotting the path of Jesus, we who follow grow in trust and calmness, allowing our lives to show the same generosity towards others and strength in truth that was lived by Jesus.

Join us in the worship of God this Sunday. There is a programme for children and a nursery for infants during the service – before the service they are invited to gather with the Minister in St. Andrew’s Hall and with palms in hand process into the sanctuary behind the choir! Free parking can be found along the neighbouring streets and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street.

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Photo Credit: Ashley Fraser, Ottawa Citizen, 2015

I was amused by an article in the Globe and Mail recently in which a novice runner enrolled in a 5K run, missed the exit, and continued to eventually complete the half marathon – the surprise, the exhaustion, the exhilaration! http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/i-took-the-wrong-marathon-route-but-learned-something-about-myself-on-theway/article34400787/

For Christians, there is a similar exhaustion and exhilaration, but little surprise – we know we are in for a full marathon from the start line. ‘Follow me’ our Lord says, without boundaries of time or distance. The theological doctrine of justification (that by the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus we were wondrously put right before God) is counter-balanced by the doctrine of sanctification (that the journey of becoming God’s people by the work of the Holy Spirit is long and challenging).

What keeps Christians persevering in the way of Christ? Two answers are highlighted in this Sunday’s readings from the Letter to the Hebrews (Chapter 12). One points to the cheering of the crowds who line the way –  ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’ who by their faith and life in Christ now provide us with example and encouragement along the way. The other points to the fact that the course has an end – a finish line that is none other than ‘the city of the living God’, reminding us that we are of origin and of destiny. Exhilarating indeed!

Join us in the worship of God this Sunday if you are in the area. You would be welcome. There is available during the service a nursery for infants and a programme for children. There is free parking along the streets around the church, and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. Be sure to have a look at the announcements found within the Order of Service, and consider each a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service … with us!

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