Tag Archives: baptism

Picturing the road to Emmaus

It`s not very long until myself and Kailey and Michaela will be visiting the land where Jesus walked, (we head out on May 7th). Part of the interest will be seeing the places where Jesus walked.  Scholars are divided about where exactly Emmaus was, even though the text tells us how far it was away from Jerusalem.

One of the possibilities is a little town called Imwas.  The little town was totally destroyed in the Six-day War in 1967, when Jewish forces advanced with tanks and weapons.  The unarmed Palestinian villagers fled; they didn’t know that the army had orders to totally obliterate their village.  Those who were left behind, who could not run, were buried alive by the bulldozers.  Even after the war the townspeople  were never allowed to return to rebuild.  In fact, Canadian citizens gave $15 million dollars to the Israeli government to establish a park there, which is called Canada Park.    Just this little story tells a lot about the history and the modern-day reality that we will be meeting.

Picturing the road to Emmaus is hard to do physically, since we don’t know exactly where the road was.  But what did the disciples look like as they walked along?  For some reason this story has captured the imagination of artists through the ages, and this is one of the most popularly depicted scenes from the New Testament.  This Sunday we’ll be seeing some of those pictures.  How do we relate to those first two disciples?  This Sunday is baptism, and I’ll be connecting these disciples with the two disciples we are baptizing!  Hope to see you there!

This week’s prayer:  Jesus stand among us, in your risen power, let this time of worship, be a hallowed hour.

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Wild card!

I watched a cooking show recently where various ingredients were named on different cards.   Some of the ingredients were pretty standard; salmon, soybeans, sweet potatoes.  But some of the ingredients were wild cards; kumquats, lemongrass, fiddleheads. The cards were placed face down on the table, and the contestant chefs had to randomly choose three cards; they then had to make up an entrée using those three ingredients.  The dishes were interesting and unusual; the ingredients were used in surprising and creative ways to make something tasty.

I feel that’s a bit like what’s happening in church this Sunday!  It’s Thanksgiving and we are celebrating the baptism of two of our young people and we are celebrating communion.  In the planning stages for baptism, we tried a bunch of different dates for the two families involved, and it turned out this one suited everyone best.  It reminds me of the cooking show; put two things together that you don’t usually put together, and something different and surprising happens.

We often celebrate Thanksgiving around Pentecost; I am used to preaching about the Holy Spirit and baptism.  We can still talk about the Holy Spirit of course, but when we add baptism to Thanksgiving, it puts a different spin on the event.  It can change the way you think about Thanksgiving and it changes the way you think about baptism.  At least that’s what I’ve been finding!

Please be in prayer for our baptismal candidates, and come to church with thankful hearts, ready to celebrate and come to the Lord’s table.

This week’s prayer:   Thank you Lord for the way you cook up a feast of worship for us each Sunday! Bless this week’s service, that it may be a celebration of love for you.

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Maps to steer by

A couple of years ago I had a very vivid dream. I had been reading a lot of stories about the Mennonites and their difficult time in the Ukraine, and I think they made a very big impression on me. I dreamed that there was a war here in Canada, and that suddenly it became very unsafe for young men. It was so unsafe, in fact, that my son had to flee. This was a sudden and quick decision we made and it happened in the middle of the night. Time was very short, he had to leave the house immediately. We told him that he had to go to British Columbia because that is where he would be safe. We stuck some things in a backpack for him and sent him out the back door of our house; we said good-bye, and we saw him jump over the back fence and disappear into the darkness. It was only when we got inside and a few minutes had passed that I suddenly realized that we had not given him a map. He was gone, there was no way we could give him a map now…and the thing that was so vivid about the dream was the terrible sense that we had forgotten to give him something essential for his journey. How would he know where to go, or what to expect along the way?

Maps are what ground us…maps prepare us for the journey ahead, and help explain where we’ve been. This Sunday we’ll be talking about maps for the Christian life. In a few weeks we will be baptizing one of our young people, what can she expect on the road ahead?

This week’s prayer: The road goes ever on and on…help us Lord to discern the right roads to take. And give us strength for the journey, and companions along the way.

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Communion

What are your earliest memories of communion services? In the church where I was raised, communion was not something I ever witnessed. The regular service would come to a close, the children (and adherents I guess) would all leave, and the members would share communion. I don’t remember giving communion much thought as a kid, I was just glad to be able to go to the gymnasium and fool around with my friends. I don’t think I had a clue what was happening.

Going through a catechism class, and getting baptized changed all that…after the baptism service I saw and participated in communion for the first time. It seemed very mysterious to me. While I took communion, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel or what it was supposed to mean to me.

I’m still working on the mystery part of that. I have a better understanding theologically of what we are doing, but symbols have power precisely because there is some mystery involved. God is working in us in ways we can hardly understand or imagine.

This week we are going to be sharing communion, and in my sermon I am going to be talking about mystery. “This is my body broken for you.” How does taking communion change us?

This week’s prayer: Jesus, as I prepare to participate in communion this Sunday,
open my heart to your mysterious presence in my life, in our community.

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Lost for words

What would it be like to not be able to talk? I’ve been thinking about this a lot since our church member Rhea had a stroke several weeks ago. As we visit with her, she can nod and shake her head, or shrug her shoulders, but words escape her. I don’t know whether she has words inside her head and can’t get them out, or if her thoughts are mostly images and emotions.

Now her family and friends and community of faith gather around her hospital bed. We find words for her that she can no longer speak. She reaps the harvest of many words she’s sown in the lives of her family…they visit and tell her constantly that they love her and care for her. As a community of faith we share scripture, hymns and prayers, familiar words that have always provided meaning for her. We remember Rhea in our prayers, praying to a God who has no problem at all communicating with her.

There are other people in our church who may feel speechless. A person who is so depressed, they cannot face meeting people. A person who has just heard terrible news, and cannot bear to say it out loud. A person who has such big doubts, they are afraid they will be rejected if they articulate them. I know there are times in my life that I’ve felt speechless, maybe you have felt that way too.

This Sunday we will be celebrating the baptism of four new church members, as they dedicate their lives to Christ. They are joining us in our journey of faith. It’s a journey that may take us many places, maybe even places that leave us speechless. God goes with us everywhere.

A scripture for a week like this:

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,  and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

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