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.

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Many of us will gather this Sunday with grief and anger and deep questions about our lives, our nation, our world. I appreciated the prayer of the Rev. Katherine Burgess of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Québec City that was shared through www.presbyterian.ca …

Prayer at a Time of Hateful Violence in Canada

God of loving-kindness,
creator and sustainer of all,
you hold all life and souls in your hands.
You sent Christ into the world
as the Prince of Peace
to a world that is too often violent and tragic.
We come to you in prayer in
the face of the shootings
and hate against our Muslim sisters and brothers in Quebec;
we come to you in grief
for those whose lives are cut short or forever changed;
we come to you in anger
because of the violence and hate in the world;
and we come to you in confession
for our complicity in a culture of violence
and for times when we have been silent
in the presence of hateful words
or inactive in the presence of violence.
Give us understanding to comfort those in loss;
give us wisdom to be voices of peace in moments of chaos, tension and fear;
give us courage to be a force for change in our communities;
and give us strength to help build your kingdom of
reconciliation, love and peace in this world.
And in your grace, let us see the day when guns and all weapons that destroy life are transformed into instruments of peace and healing.
We gather in prayer to ask these things in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

And, in an unexpected way, I came to appreciate anew the Gospel lesson selected for this Epiphany season Sunday many weeks ago – Jesus transforming the water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). Join with me in prayer and reflection and Holy Communion, a time to be renewed in spirit, and the way of Christ for life in this world.

Have a look at the Order of Service below. There is ample free parking on the streets around and in the public lot off Queen Street behind the church. There is available a nursery for infants a programme for children during the service. We look forward to greeting you, and ‘may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13:14).

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Each year, Christians around the world join in January prayers for unity. This year the theme has been selected by the Churches of Germany, 500 years after the Reformation which brought both renewal and division to the Church of Christ. The focus is not on our churches, but upon the Christ. We can read some reflections of their own experience at https://www.councilofchurches.ca/our-faith/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity/ecumenism-in-germany/ Other  resources are available, including daily studies for ten days of personal reflection https://www.councilofchurches.ca/our-faith/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity/eight-days-biblical-reflections/

Here at St. Andrew’s, we are continuing a recent tradition of inviting a member of another branch of the Church of Christ to join us and lead us in worship this last Sunday of January. This year we welcome Sister Pauline Lally of the Sisters of Providence. Sister Lally will develop the theme of the Apostle Paul, Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-20), with special reference to reconciliation with creation.

Have a look at the Order of Service below. During the service there is a nursery offered for infants and a programme for children. Parking is free on the streets around the church, and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. If you are in the area, you would be very welcome!

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As the new year continues to unfold, we examine a scene foundational to the life of Christ … and Christians.

John has been preaching the need to ‘re-turn’ to God, in faith and in life, a new beginning marked by baptism. Though he is God-with-us, Jesus presents himself for baptism – it is a way to show how he identifies with wandering humanity.

In this composition by Nicholas Poussin from the 1650’s, we see John baptizing Jesus. But the interesting thing is that in his narration of the scene, Luke does not write of the moment of Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3;1-22), saying only ‘Now when Jesus also had been baptized …’ John preached the importance not of baptism itself but of bearing ‘fruits worthy of repentance’ after baptism – is Luke suggesting that our focus should be upon not the baptism but the life of Jesus? Is Jesus’ identification with humanity at his baptism seen most clearly in his embracing, teaching, healing and at the cross? Is my baptism but the beginning of growing into a life dedicated to the glory of God and the good of neighbour? As regimes and societies change, Christians need to be all the clearer about our particular calling as God’s people.

If you are in the area, join us as worship God and grow in Christian faith and life. There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service. After the service you are invited to a congregational lunch – it is pot luck, but there is always lots for everyone. There is parking on the streets around the church, and in the public lot just behind the church along Queen Street. Have a look at the order of service below, and the announcements – you would be welcomed, in Christ!

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When I hear the word ‘Egypt’ in worship, my first and sometimes only thought tends to be of the enslavement of the ancient Hebrews. How much I neglect, or forget! Remember how prior Jacob and his sons were rescued by Joseph from famine, and offered refuge by a Pharaoh? Egypt proved to be the land of refuge several times, before and after the Exodus. This morning as Christians we remember with particular gratitude that it was in Egypt where the holy family found refuge – the Jewish king Herod intended evil, but Egypt welcomed the Christ Child and God used this welcome to extend salvation to all humanity. This morning we remember this story, the history of the Christian faith in Egypt, and the Christians of Egypt today.

Have a look at the Order of Service below, and join us! There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service. There is free parking on the streets about and in the public lot behind the church just off Queen Street. For those with mobility challenges, there is a dedicated entrance (and washroom) through the far west door along Princess Street.

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Have a look at the Minister’s newsletter, and join us as you are able and inclined for Christian worship, community and service!

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When it is dark enough …

Wherever you look, it is easy to acknowledge the darkness. Whether you look at the injustices inflicted upon innocents in the midst of wars around the world, or the suffering of many in the midst of our nation of prosperity, or within the recesses of our own hearts, it is certainly dark enough.

But when it is dark enough … you can see the stars.

This morning we remember the star that set the magi out upon their journey, the star that hung over Bethlehem. Now it is Christ who is our star. In the darkness, the light of Christ shines all the more brightly. It is Christ who sets us out upon a journey in the darkness and through the darkness to God’s promised realm of peace and justice.

Join us as we begin this week in the worship of God known in Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. Great songs of praise. Holy Communion. A nursery for infants with a certified caregiver and a programme for children is offered by during the service. Have a look at the Order of Service …

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