becoming missional

Had a good retreat with the elders of KCKF this past Saturday – reflecting on who we are and who we are called to be. A part of that discussion was around the attractional/missional debate and we had a good, open discussion about what it all means for us.  I personally like the logic behind And: The Gathered and Scattered Church. We also watched this (from one Jeff MacGuire – don’t know him) which doesn’ t totally hit the mark but does a good job setting us up for discussion:

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Palm Sunday Reflections

I am among you as one who serves. 

In abstract – in general, we can get our heads around this idea. Sure, Jesus is one who serves. Jesus washes feet. Jesus touches the leper. Jesus heals a sick child. Jesus provides food for the hungry crowd. In the abstract – in general we can get our heads around this idea.

Many of you will be familiar with Mark Twain’s novel, The Prince and the Pauper – and if not familiar with the novel itself, you will be familiar with one of the many television programs or movies or stage plays that have retold that classic tale. Two young men, through a chance encounter, discover that they look almost impossibly alike – yet they come from dramatically different worlds. The one is a prince, heir to the throne and to great power and wealth. The other lives in poverty, among the poorest of the poor.  The look-alikes as you will recall, decide to exchange places for a time – and as that wonderful little phrase goes, hijinks ensue. Each is more than a little lost in the other’s world. Each takes more than a few days to find his bearing in a world that functions according to a different set of rules. The pauper doesn’t know which fork to use at a royal dinner. The prince doesn’t know how to respond to the violence or injustice to which he is treated.

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worship space

As I’ve mentioned previously, in the congregation I serve we will soon face the challenging and exciting prospect of developing a new worship space within our building. With the possible sale of our main sanctuary, we will shift our worship either into a church hall or into a older church sanctuary (that doesn’t look much like a sanctuary any more) that is part of our building complex.

My dad grew up worshiping in a Reformed congregation in the town of Neede, Holland. He referred me some time ago to their website, where there are pictures of their transformed sanctuary. The traditional worship space of that sanctuary has been shifted to a very modern look. It may not be everything we would like to have (it retains a very free church simplicity) but it helps to get the imagination moving…

for real

At our Jazz Vespers this weekend, the theme will be (in advance of February 14th) Love. Yes, in a playful way at first, and then reaching toward more substance, too. We will read a few poems by Micheal O’Siadhail’s Love Life during the vespers. One that we won’t read, but which is wonderfully simple, is ‘For Real’. In this poem, as in others of the collection, echoes of The Song of Solomon.

 

A first gazing at you unawares.
Wonder by wonder my body savours.

The conch-like detail of an ear,
An amethyst ring on your finger.

Could I ever have enough of you?
Juiced cantaloupe, ripe honeydew,

Slack desire so I desire you more.
Laugh as no one laughed before.

Vivid more vivid, real more real.
I stare toward heavens you reveal.

Yellower yellow. Bluer blue.
Can you see me as I see you?

Sweeter than being loved to love.
Sweetest our beings’ hand in glove.

Milk and honey, spice and wine.
I’m your lover. You are mine.

Reuse, Recycle

Was reading in the Telegraph today and came across this piece about the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new medieval and resnaissance galleries. What really drew my attention was the first phograph attached to the story, which is of stained glass from Sainte-Chapelle, France (1243-8). As you can see from the picture, the windows have been mounted (it’s hard to tell how, exactly) in such a way that they appear not as windows but almost as sulptures mounted together – against a white backdrop.

In the congregation I serve, we are in the midst of an attempt to sell a portion of our property. While we are not talking about demolition of the church sanctuary, the question has sometimes arisen as to how aspects of the traditional structure might be preserved in a new context. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s presentation of these medieval windows offers a striking example, it seems to me, of how traditional pieces could be incorporated into a more modern worship space and structure. If not in the case of the congregation I serve, perhaps in other contexts where similar questions arise.

He Ascended

A sermon in my continuing series on the Apostles’ Creed.

 

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Departure scenes almost always feel heavy and sad, don’t they? You can easily picture it in your mind. A man and woman embrace at the airport, one obviously flying to some far-flung place. There are tears. There is sorrow on each face. There is one long last look over the shoulder as the departing person passes through the security gate. Departure terminals aren’t the most joyful places to spend time. The one who is left behind often goes with hunched shoulders out the door and into – well, it almost has to be rain, doesn’t it.

 

As we continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed today, another departure scene is set before our eyes. It is the departure of Jesus from his disciples and, indeed, from our world. The New Testament tells us that Jesus stayed with his disciples forty days after his resurrection – and then came his ascension to glory. In a sense, of course, we are getting ahead of ourselves since the church year sets aside May 21st of 2009 for the celebration of the Ascension. But since we are making our way through the Apostles’ Creed, we arrive at the Ascension a little earlier than usual.

 

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended to the dead. On the third rose again, he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

 

He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

 

He ascended.

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He Suffered

A sermon preached today in a continuing series on the Apostles’  Creed.

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I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary, and who suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered.

 

The narrative of Mark’s gospel recounts how Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowds, set Barrabas free, but had Jesus flogged – after which he handed Jesus over to be crucified.

 

He was flogged – whips dug into the flesh on his back.

He was shamed – hung on a cross, the ultimate symbol of dishonour in the Roman Empire.

He was abandoned by his followers – in his last days he was in many ways alone.

He was violently abused – nails pierced his hands and feet, a spear his side.

He thirsted – he was dehydrated as he hung there, before the eyes of the crowd.

 

Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered.

 

 

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JESUS, CHRIST, LORD

A sermon preached this past Sunday, February 22nd – in a continuing series on the Apostles’ Creed. In the writing of this sermon I have made use of an essay by Richard Burridge in the book Exploring and Proclaiming the Apostles’ Creed.

 

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We come this morning to the second section of the Apostle’s Creed and to the heart of our Christian confession.

 

We confess: I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.

 

As we consider the heart of the Apostles’ Creed this morning; as we consider this statement of our fundamental trust in God; I’d like us to focus on the particularity that lies at heart of our confession. I’d like us to look at the particularity that defines us as Christians.

           

But first, what do I mean by this notion, this idea of particularity?

 

Well to explain the notion of particularity, we could begin by acknowledging that in Canadian society today there is tremendous interest in spirituality. There is a growing search for the deeper meaning of life. Men and women want to go beyond the mundane, beyond the everyday – which often seems meaningless. They want to reach beyond the superficiality of so much of human life in order to get hold of some deeper level of substance and significance. And the language that our culture applies to this search, to this desire for deeper meaning and significance, is the language of spirituality.

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Letter to Jesus

A sermon preached at the induction of the Rev. Greg Davidson into pastoral ministry in the congregation of Briarwood Presbyterian Church. References to Kierkegaard are from his Practice in Christianity.

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An open letter to Jesus.

 

February 8th, 2009

 

Dear Jesus,

 

It’s me again – no doubt you’re more than familiar with my handwriting by now. I only hope that it hasn’t gotten to the point that you groan in discovering yet another missive from yours truly as you thumb through the morning mail. And yes Jesus, I know, I don’t have to write to you – my ancestors in the faith did well to teach me that I can speak with you directly (the temple curtain is torn in two – gone are the priestly vestments). But somehow it’s easier for me to put things in writing, to put pen to paper in sorting through my thoughts, in sorting out questions of faith. No doubt this predilection for the pen and paper also comes from my ancestors in faith. I beg your patience, then, Jesus, as I once again spill out my thoughts and frustrations and questions to you.

 

This week I was thinking about those early days of ministry – of your ministry – when John the baptizer was still in prison. I sometimes wonder whether it frustrated you that the holy man clothed in camel-hair didn’t know that you were the one for whom he prepared the way – he’d heard about what you were doing, but still wasn’t sure you were the chosen one. But that’s a question for another day.

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