May 15th, 2022

An Unexpected Menu

Acts 11: 15-17 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning…If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”

Most cultures and countries have foods and specialty dishes that are unique to them. In Canada, we can count poutine, maple syrup, and a Tim Hortons’ double double as special. There are also traditional meals eaten at holidays like a turkey dinner with all the trimmings at Christmas or an outdoor BBQ on July 1st. Food has a way of making us feel like we belong, and a shared meal has a way of bringing people together, even people who are very different from each other.

In the early church, one of the differences between people was what they ate. So, God called the disciples to re-think what they believed they could or could not eat. By being open to an unexpected menu, followers of Jesus from different backgrounds and cultural beliefs found common ground in their faith and worship of God. They came to understand that all people were welcome at God’s Table, just as we are today.

May 8th, 2022

An Astonishing Imitation

Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

Little children love to imitate what they see parents, siblings, or other children do. They learn by following the example of others and we have to demonstrate to them good and healthy ways of living. The answer to “Where did they learn that?” can usually been found by looking at ourselves. It has been said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and it’s true that we act like those we admire and respect.

Christians believe we are created in the image of God and can therefore act in the ways of God, sharing grace and love and mercy. In the early church, the first followers of Jesus lived by the example he had set for them. Jesus’ disciples followed in his footsteps to heal, pray, teach, and care for others. We too are called to be Christ-like, to show the same compassion, share the same good news, and imitate the same love as Jesus.

May 1st, 2022

Surprising Acts of God: An Unlikely Friendship

Acts 9: 17 “He laid his hands-on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Sometimes we might say that nothing surprises us anymore. There are many strange and unbelievable things that happen in politics, entertainment, and on social media that we might become immune to surprises. Yet, there is always room for acts of kindness, changes of heart, and new opportunities to surprise and amaze us.

In the Bible, there was a man named Saul, who was persecuting the early Christian church and who really seemed beyond redemption, until God surprised him. God spoke to Saul and caused him to lose his sight until he went to a follower of Jesus who prayed over him and healed him. In a dramatic change of heart, the man became Paul, a believer in the gospel of Jesus, a faithful disciple, and the author of several books in the Bible. Over next few weeks, we’ll be exploring the surprising Acts of God.

April 24th, 2022

Come to Life

John 20: 31 “But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

The study of history is really the study of the stories of our past. We can approach those stories with the five classic ‘W’ questions: who, what, where, when, and why. For Christians, the Bible is like a library of books that attempt to answer those questions in relation to God and faith. We become eyewitnesses to the events of God’s people that have been remembered and recorded, including the resurrection of Jesus.

The Bible tells us that the accounts of the Easter story are important because they lead to belief which leads to life. And not just any life, but life in Jesus’ name. So, what does that kind of life look like? We can read some of the verbs or action words in the stories of Jesus found in the Bible to determine what life in Jesus Christ is all about. Seeing, healing, forgiving, eating, following, praying, believing. These may seem like ordinary, everyday actions, but when done with belief in Jesus, we come to life in his name.

Easter Sunday 2022

Easter Sunday: A Good Enough Faith

“Blessed are you who are growing, you who burst with new life. You who are learning to abide in the vine, and who taste the sweetness of God’s loving-kindness. The God who was there all along—planting, waiting, watering, pruning, delighting.” (From Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie)

Spring is a season of faith. Every year, we have faith that the dormant earth will bring forth new life. Every year, we have faith that the seemingly dead seeds we plant, will grow. Every year, Christians around the world celebrate with faith, the story of Easter. After his death on the cross, the faith of Jesus’ followers was tested, and it seemed all hope was gone. It may have felt like they had just begun a long dark winter, but then, the impossible and unbelievable happened, Jesus lived. Just like a seed that sprouts from the cold earth, Jesus rose from death to life.

On the first Easter morning, God created a new reality by overthrowing death and sin. When Jesus was resurrected, God declared, once and for all, that life is more powerful and love more enduring than death. To believe in God’s new reality, we need faith enough to turn our certainties upside down, embrace new possibilities, and say with conviction “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed”.

Palm Sunday 2022

Good Enough: We are a group project.

“Blessed are we, opening our hands in readiness to risk intimacy, to receive the gift of friendship and give it in return.” (From Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie)

We’ve heard it said that no one is an island, meaning human beings are interconnected and dependent on each other. We are meant to be in families, in friendships, and in communities. We are meant to rely on and support one another. We are meant to come together in the joys and challenges of life.

In the week before his death, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of ‘Hosanna’. The people lined the road, waving palm branches and praising God for what they had seen Jesus do. The stories of Jesus are always about people, people looking for justice, hope, connection, and love. Jesus modeled a life that brought people together and showed them that individual and community life was so much better when they supported and cared for each other.

April 3rd, 2022

Good Enough: We are Fragile

“Blessed are you who are attempting to love what is here, what is now.” (From Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie)

Sometimes it is easier to look fondly at the past and look eagerly towards the future, instead of appreciating, accepting, and loving what is right in front of us now. It takes a certain vulnerability to face the reality of life in the moment, the beauty and the pain. We have been reminded during the pandemic how fragile life can be and how important it is for us to connect with each other.

In the Bible, a woman broke a jar of expensive oil meant for Jesus’ burial over his feet. It was a bit of a shocking thing to do. When one of his followers became upset, Jesus told them all that he would not always be with them. It was a reminder of what was to come for him, but also a reminder of how important it is to appreciate life in the present. In this season of Lent, let us live in the moment and embrace all of life, the good and bad.

March 27th, 2022

Good Enough: Being Less than Perfect is Not Fatal

“Blessed are you who do not despise your realness. It may hurt. But this is what we hoped for, right? To live and love. To be loved.” (From Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie)

The idea of being good enough, or just doing our best, is not necessarily an invitation for under-achieving or giving up. Instead, being good enough means letting ourselves off the hook when we make mistakes and giving ourselves a chance to start over or even try something new.

The story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible is well-known. After, making some unwise choices and mistakes, a young man decided to go home again. Believing that what he had done was unforgivable, he never expected the joyful welcome he received from his father. Often, we are our own worst critics and have a hard time forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. The reality is that we are not perfect, and trying to be, is exhausting. Even when we can’t seem to be kind and forgiving to ourselves, God is there, offering a welcome with mercy and grace.

 

March 20th, 2022

 

Good Enough: Lots of things can be medicine

“Blessed are you who live with courage, fixing what it is in your reach, praying about what is not, and loving, still.” (From Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie)

Who doesn’t want a quick fix for something that is broken? A magic pill to cure an illness, heal a strained relationship, repair a flawed system, or end a tragic war. Often, we like to offer our simple solutions to complicated problems, but of course, there is almost never an easy or quick fix.

On the third Sunday of Lent, we will explore a story Jesus told about a fig tree that was not producing any fruit and needed careful tending to be healthy again. It was not so much a story about agriculture but about the time and care it takes to fix what is broken. It is about God being a God of second chances and Jesus as a gardener who sees the beauty of a tree that appears to be all but dead. It is a story that teaches us to be open to new ways of thinking about what we need to be healthy and how we can help each other and our world to solve complicated problems.