Category Archives: First thoughts

When the Good News becomes Bad News

Monkey and Fish got caught in a flood.  As the waters rose higher and higher,

Monkey found a tree and climbed to safety.  As he got above water level, he

looked down and saw his friend Fish still in the water.  So, out of concern for his

friend, he reached down, rescued Fish, and held him tight to his chest as he

climbed higher in the tree.  This, of course was the end of friend Fish, since he

cannot live outside of water.

This Indigenous story summarizes well the harm that the delivery of the good news or Gospel of Jesus did to Indigenous people when it came to Canada.  European Christians may have had good intentions to help the First Nations of Canada, but they actually brought both spiritual and physical death.  In the name of civilization, mission, evangelism and progress, the Gospel message of Jesus was confused with Western values and Indigenous people were forced to assimilate to Western culture in order to become followers of Jesus.  Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we’ve learned a lot about the harm that this did to Indigenous people in Canada.

Join us this Sunday as we take a look at the book of Galatians and ask the question, how did Christians ever get to the point where they believed that Indigenous people had to become European in order to be Christ-followers when Paul himself admonishes people who enforce cultural practices like circumcision upon Gentiles or non-Jews in order to become Christ-followers?  How might the book of Galatians speak to the colonization of the Gospel in Canada?

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What do we do with difficult Psalms?

Often when we read the Psalms on a Sunday morning, or on any other church occasion, we tend to monopolize the voice of the speaker in the Psalms to be our own.

We tend to assume that if I am speaking these words, then they represent my position. This is something that I would say.

But how does this now work when we read a Psalm that calls on God to destroy our enemies in vengeance?

Some of the Psalms include violent and inappropriate imagery that we ourselves would not like to say.

And often, our lectionaries will skip over these Psalms on purpose because we just don’t know what to do with them.

If I read this Psalm out loud, am I not condoning and agreeing with what it says? And so we tend to run away from these sorts of Psalms and we don’t engage with them.  But do we necessarily have to run away from these Psalms?  Or is there a different way for us to listen and engage with these ancient writings?  Join us this Sunday to find out more!

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Music for our Heart and Soul

Songs, music, and poetry all have a powerful effect on our memory.  We associate songs with moments, feelings, and experiences in our lives.  Sometimes we’ll hear a song and we’ll remember dancing with that special someone in our lives.  We’ll remember what they mean to us.  Sometimes, we’ll hear a song and we’ll remember someone who we’ve lost and what they meant to us.

Sometimes we will sing songs, recite poetry, or play songs for someone in order to communicate how we feel about them.

Music, poetry, and songs all connect to the deepest, most intimate, and most personal moments of our souls.

Small surprise then that one of the most important books in the Bible to Hebrews and Christians throughout the ages, has been the book of Psalms.

For the next couple of weeks here on Sunday mornings, we’re going to take a look at the book of Psalms.

It is important for us as a church to regularly remind ourselves of why we keep books such as this around in church.  It’s important to refuel our memories of what these books actually say and what they contain for our own personal spiritual growth.  It’s also important to refuel our memories so we can teach others; so we can pass on treasures like the book of Psalms to our children.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure is lost to the Christian church.  With its recovery will come unexpected power.”

Join us this Sunday to find out more!

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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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