The ‘Entreaty’ Mosaic – Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

These days of journey to Easter I have been appreciating a time of reflection provided by West End Presbyterian Church of Richmond Virginia. Each daily devotion offers a work of art, a quote of poetry or prose, a passage of scripture and a portion of music. The mix is quite eclectic, on the days and between the days, and I find it very inspiring.

One day this past week the track was from ‘Sleeping At Last’ entitled ‘101010’ (hear it using the link below). The song opens with the words …

Hold your breath and count to 28.
Change is slow but i feel it taking shape.
Folding over us like waves
On origami ocean tides, we sway

Like blueprints constantly being rearranged.
Over microscopes we plan and strain.

The finest print in the whitest ink,
Before it dries, there’s no time to think.
It feels like everything we’ve known is sink or swim

But grey is not a compromise –
It is the bridge between two sides.
I would even argue that it is the color
That most represents God’s eyes.

Tuesday March 14 :: Workmanship

http://www.sleepingatlast.com/blog/101010-how-it-was-made

In an age when fear and anxiety seem infectious, encouraging isolation and intolerance, I am moved by this reminder of God’s mediating, reconciling ‘eyes’ and activity in Jesus Christ … and our call in Christ to build and walk the bridges that create community. It is a theme before me as I prepare the sermon for this Sunday, a continuation through the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, arriving at the the great image of Jesus our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) – he who brings the Holy One before humanity, and humanity before the Holy One. ‘Grey’ eyes, indeed!

Join us Sunday morning if you are in the area. A nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service are offered during the service. There is free parking on the streets around and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the many announcements and invitations that follow. We look forward to welcoming you!

Download (PDF, 400KB)

Tulips hide far beneath mountains of snow

waiting for spring to invite them to grow.

Tucked away in warm bulbs, they say “Ready Set Go”

on the very same day. How do they know? – anonymous

And so we too must be like the tulip and endure these (hopefully) last few mountains of snow falling on us from the heavens, snowflake by snowflake. In this season’s Burning Bush, we bring to you inspiring personal stories, church family photos, an individual’s journey into Presbyterianism, Presbyterianism in Nicaragua and of course, the year 2016’s drawing to a close.

Download (PDF, 5.54MB)

 

 

Life is often referred to as a journey. The life of faith particularly so. Along the way, I am finding our exploration of the Letter to the Hebrews helpful. And certain thoughts became clearer as I came upon this work by Mark Rothko, ‘No. 8’.

The people of God have been freed from slavery. They have been freed for new life in a new land. But between the enslavement and the abundance they wander. As recorded in the passages of this Sunday morning, the wandering is difficult. And at every turn they complain to Moses and to God. They long for the security of place and position, even if of slavery, over the fragilities of freedom.

The people of God have spoken of their experience as ‘wandering in the wilderness’, as if it was a time of emptiness, a location and season of being lost. But might this not have been the fullest time of all, when there was nothing ‘but’ the presence, provision and promises of God?

They found it impossible to move beyond the human experience of ‘wandering’ to acknowledge the certainty of divine ‘accompanying’. They were so exhausted physically and spiritually that they held out for one particular definition of ‘rest’ and neglected the offer of the more profound rest at hand.

In Rothko’s painting, the red reminds me of the sands of the human journey, but my eyes are drawn to the light that covers the whole expanse. Like God’s people of old, I think that I too need to move out of a perspective of insecurity and an experience of ‘lack’, into an acknowledgement of the presence, provision and promise of the Holy One over all. That will be the ‘rest’ of my heart’s desire, not of geography or economy but of relationship.

If you are in the area, join us in the worship of God along life’s journey. (But remember that we spring forward an hour!)

Download (PDF, 329KB)

There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service. There is free parking along the neighbouring streets and in the public lot just behind the church off Queen Street. We look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

Worship in Lent

Have a look at our congregational newsletter for the month. (It is meant to be folded into three, so you need a bit of imagination to understand its layout!) Please consider each announcement a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service.

Download (PDF, 202KB)

I was walking Mungo (our Cairn Terrier) last night, and crossed paths with several other dog walkers. I met each with a greeting, but only one replied – in fact only one heard my words, as the others were listening to music or podcast with earbuds firmly in place. It made me think …

As we begin our journey to Easter anew, the first century sermon known in the New Testament as Hebrews will be before us at St. Andrew’s Kingston. It is filled to overflowing with assurance for Christians dealing with struggle, exhaustion and doubt. The assurance begins with the declaration that ‘God speaks’. God has taken the initiative to be in communication with humanity, to speak words of life and mark the ways of life. It is a divine initiative of love taken first through prophets, priests and kings, and now directly and fully through a Son, Jesus the Christ.

God speaks words of life. But are we listening?

With music and news and digital images and messages streaming constantly into our lives, I have a renewed appreciation for the traditional emphasis of Lent being a season of quiet reflection, of carving out the silence and space that God can fill.

Join us in the worship of God if you find yourself in the area this Sunday. Ample free parking is available along the streets and in the public lot just behind the church off Queen Street. A nursery is available for infants and a programme for children. Have a look at the Order of Service, and the invitations that follow. In particular, note the Tuesday evening lenten DVD series ‘Gospel in the City’, and the daily lenten devotional available at https://www.presbyteriancollege.ca/2017/01/lent-devotional-2/

Download (PDF, 352KB)

 

The Transfiguration of Christ by Duccio di Buoninsegna, d. 1319

I love this medieval icon – Jesus with Elijah on one side, Moses on the other, and the awed disciples below. Most of all I love how the gold communicates the glory in which Jesus is transfigured, the glory of being God-with-us, and as will be seen most clearly at the cross, God-for-us.

As I write this in Kingston, the funeral service for one of my formative theological professors at Presbyterian College is about to begin in Montreal. The Rev. Dr. Joseph McLelland was I believe the youngest professor ever appointed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Though a generation apart, I felt a bond to him as a fellow Hamiltonian, and it was a great joy later to count ‘Joe’ and Audrey as members of the congregation I served. His area of exploration was Theology and Philosophy of Religion, and explore he did, with creativity and courage. But beyond the college classes, what I remember best was the first sermon I heard him preach – it was on the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17), and how the moment of deep mysticism and joyful clarity upon the mountaintop was followed immediately and intentionally by Jesus going down to heal and embrace suffering humanity. It was at that moment that I began to understand the way of  Christ, and of the Christian.

If you are in the Kingston area, join us for worship this Sunday morning. There is free parking along the streets, and in a public lot off Queen Street just behind the church. During the service there is a nursery for infants and a programme for children. Have a look at the inside of the Order of Service, and consider each announcement as a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service. In particular, note the Tuesday pancake supper, the beginning of a winter DVD study series, and an ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service, 7 p.m.

Download (PDF, 490KB)

 

The Synagogue Church, Nazareth

On my return to Kingston earlier this week, I picked up a copy of the New York Times International newspaper and one article in particular caught my eye. It was entitled ‘What Jesus Can Teach The Muslims’. At first I cringed, presuming this was yet one more example of Christian triumphalism that has wrecked so much damage upon humanity. Then I noticed the author, Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist and devout Muslim.

As his fellow Muslims struggle to choose between violent extremism against the powers of this world or secular accommodation to them, Akyol wonders if there is another option available, one he suggests was highlighted by Jesus. ‘Unlike other Messiah claimants of his time, he did not unleash an armed rebellion against Rome. He did not bow dow to Rome either. He put his attention to something else: reviving the faith and reforming the religion of his people. In particular, he called on his fellow Jews to focus on their religion’s moral principles ..’

With this in mind, I read Jesus’ first act of public ministry in Luke’s narrative, Jesus’ first sermon, with new eyes (Luke 4:14-30) and ears. He certainly stands upon a great religious tradition and the air is heavy with doctrine and ritual, but what Jesus actually speaks and goes forth to live is a revival of faith and reformation of religion by focusing his people upon the moral priorities of their God – he declares his determination to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, and let the oppressed go free. Might a better title for the sermon this Sunday at St. Andrew’s might be ‘What Jesus can teach Christians’?!

Join us if you are in the area. Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the many invitations to participate. There is free parking available on the streets around the church and in the public parking lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery available for infants, and a programme for children.

Download (PDF, 393KB)