Category Archives: First thoughts

This Morning’s Service Cancelled

Hi everyone,

Due to the increasingly icy weather this morning, we are cancelling today’s service.  Stay safe on the roads if you have to drive, and we hope to see all of you next week!

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To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

I first discovered the musical of Les Miserables back in 1990.  That year I was in high school, and I was just discovering the world of musicals.  I had discovered The Phantom of the Opera, which at that time starred Colm Wilkinson at the Pantages Theatre in Toronto.  And so when I heard that Colm Wilkinson was also in Les Miserables, I decided to check it out for myself; and I was blown away by its powerful music and its powerful story of redemption, love, grace, sacrifice, and transformation. It somehow immediately spoke to my heart, and I think it touched on something that would facilitate my own journey into starting to go to church only a few years later.

Join us this Sunday as we begin a new series looking into the story of Les Miserables and how each of its characters experience and embody the transformative love of Jesus.

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The Crucifixion as The Big Reveal

For Mark, there is something central, historic, and cosmic about Jesus’ crucifixion.

We have spent this season of Lent going over Mark’s account of the passion and resurrection of Jesus, and contemplating how might Mark’s first century audience hear and remember this story in the context of the First Jewish-Roman War. Now, we approach the end of the story. And throughout his Gospel, Mark has alluded that there is some kind of secret about the identity of Jesus that we, as the audience, slowly discover throughout the story.

Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Anointed One that all of the prophets and all of the story in the Hebrew Bible said would one day come and save all of Israel.

God describes Jesus as his Son at his baptism. A number of demons throughout the story call Jesus the Messiah. And eventually Peter confesses and understands that Jesus is the Messiah. But the entire story is a process of describing and discovering what it means that Jesus is the Messiah. How is Jesus the Messiah?

In Mark’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion, we see the confirmation of everything that Jesus said he would be as the Messiah of Peace.  Join us on Sunday to find out more!

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Identity on Trial: How This Changes Everything

This upcoming Sunday, in our series The Messiah of Peace, we look at Mark’s account of Jesus’ trial before the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.  Up until now, Jesus has kept his identity secret and advised many of his followers not to tell people who he is.  But here, his identity is precisely what is on trial.

What do we have to say about Jesus’ identity?  Who do we think that he is?  Jesus is arguably one of the most well-known personalities across the world; but what do each and everyone of us say about him?

Do we stand with the religious authorities of his time and say that he is a blasphemer?  Just a man who dares to challenge our religious traditions, and laws and claims to have a unique relationship with God?  Or do we say that he truly is the Messiah of Peace?

Because if that is true, can you imagine how much that would change everything about our lives?

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Pride by U2

One of the things we’ll look at in Mark’s Gospel this Sunday is how Judas tells the crowd armed with swords and clubs that they will know who to arrest because he will be the man that Judas kisses.  Although many bibles translate the word phileo as “kiss” in this context, it actually means “love.”  So really, Judas tells the crowd to arrest the man whom he loves.  In their now famous song “Pride,” U2 quotes this action of Judas in a song about doing things in the name of love.  While the song is intended to talk about Martin Luther King Jr., they are drawing on the theme of serving and saving others through love that was modelled by Christ and impacted Dr. King’s ministry.  Here’s something fun to hear as we reflect upon these themes this Lent!

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Christ’s Prayer in Gethsemane

This week, in our series The Messiah of Peace, we’re looking at Mark’s account of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane and his subsequent arrest.  As we talk about storytelling and imagining how an audience would receive this story, check out this clip from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and how he portrays the agonized prayer of Jesus and the falling asleep of the disciples in this story.

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Singleness and the Church

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast; and so this Sunday, we’re going to celebrate by talking about…singleness!

Over the next few days, stores and different organizations are going to find ways to make us feel incomplete for being alone and convince us that if we can just purchase the right things then we can find a partner and we will be complete.

And the church has a very funny and interesting history when it comes to dealing with marriage versus singleness.

Many Christians in the first few centuries of the church embraced the idea that sex is bad, and celibacy was the way to go. Some philosophical movements that influenced many Christians in the 1st century, like the Stoics and the Cynics, taught that abstinence leads to wisdom. The Essenes, a sort of uber-spiritual Jewish movement, encouraged abstinence.

Early church leaders like Tertullian, Jerome, and Augustine pursued celibacy; sometimes to the tune of some very misogynistic language.

Since the 4th century, Roman Catholic clergy have been required to take vows of celibacy.

On the other side of the spectrum, Michael and Margaretha Sattler, two early leaders in the Anabaptist movement, left their respective religious orders and vows of celibacy to become married to one another.

In much of Evangelical Christianity, there has been a large focus on “family values” that, in practice, seem to esteem marriage and denounce singleness.

In our North American culture, sexual activity is assumed to be a human right and essential to well-being. If you are celibate or not having sex, our culture looks on this with a lot of scorn and pity.

And although there has been a lot of going back and forth on marriage and singleness throughout the history of the church, I do think we have to ask ourselves today, are we equipping people in our churches who are single? And are we honouring and respecting their status as single people?

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