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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is Exodus 2:11-25 === "Are we there yet?" "When are we leaving?" "Dad, can we go?" "What time is it?" "I'm hungry!" Waiting can be hard. Those are only just a few things that my kids have said when they have had to wait for a little while. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I remember waiting in my grandparents driveway for my cousins from Nova Scotia to arrive. I'd watch the road, hoping to see them turn toward my grandparents house. I'd watch ... and I'd watch ... and I'd...
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Our Scripture reading for tomorrow is Exodus 2:1-10, however it's good to read Exodus 1 as well to get the full context for Exodus 2. === I wonder if anyone kept track. How many babies were thrown into the Nile? Did the parents even protest anymore, as they once did, or had they given up hope -- protesting but soon reassuring themselves with words like, "that's the way it goes..."? Did someone record each baby boy that was thrown into the Nile, honouring their life at least with the recording of a number, so that they might be remembered? I...
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We will gather together for worship on Thursday evening for a Lessons and Carols and Candlelight service, and again on Sunday to celebrate Christmas. === Advent is almost over. Our "waiting" is almost over. Although the truth is that our waiting isn't over when December 25 comes. Our celebration of Christmas reminds us that we are waiting for something more ... we are waiting for Jesus' second Advent, we are waiting for things to be made right, we are waiting for justice, and peace, and real happiness, and freedom from fear, ... we are waiting for the final and complete...
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This Advent season we are "entering the songs" of Luke's gospel. Last Sunday we looked at Mary's song (Luke 1:39-56). This Sunday we will look at the first part of Zechariah's song (Luke 1:67-75). Next we will look at the second part of Zechariah's song (Luke 1:76-80) and Simeon's song (Luke 2:25-33). By "entering" these songs, we enter into the waiting and the anticipation of God's people as they await the birth of Jesus just as we await Jesus' return. We learn from their waiting. We identify with their longing. We observe God acting to fulfill His promises for His...
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The Scripture reading for tomorrow is 1 Kings 18:16-39. === It was the perfect place for a showdown. That's what our tour guide told the group that Cheryl and I were a part of in 2008 when I took this picture from the top of Mount Carmel. If those trees and shrubs weren't there, you can see almost across the whole country of Israel from this point. The mountain is surrounded by plains so that this place was the perfect viewing theatre for the showdown between God and Baal.  It was at this point (or somewhere near it) that Elijah,...
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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5. I encourage you, however, to read from 2 Timothy 3:10-4:22 === In her memoir, "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography," Kathleen Norris writes about her move to Lemon, North Dakota from New York City and her return to church. She writes, "I was drawn to the strong old women in the congregation. Their well-worn Bibles said to me, 'There is more here than you know,' and made me take more seriously the religion that caused my grandmother Totten's Bible to be so well used its spine broke." Something about the well-used (and...
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Our Scripture reading for tomorrow is Psalm 30. We will also celebrate together the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. To prepare for tomorrow I invite you to read through Psalm 30 and also 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1. === Sometimes when things are going well we fall into the trap of believing that we are the reason why things are going well. We think it's all because of our efforts, because of all our hard work, because of our determination. Even if we just think that way about little things, it can expand into how we think about everything. It's the sin...
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=== All week as I've been studying Psalm 27 this one song has been in my head: "Oh my God" by Jars of Clay. Here's a link to a video on YouTube. This is what Dan Haseltine (the lead singer of Jars of Clay) says about the song: "With 'Oh My God,' we wanted to communicate that everybody at some point intersects with God, whether they choose to believe or not. People have all their reasons for crying out to God, and some of those are really deep, deep doubts. There are times when I wrestle with that now, but...
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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is Psalm 19 (especially focusing on the first six verses). === One night this week I encourage you to read Psalm 19 after it is already dark and then go outside and stare up at the night sky. If you live where there is a lot of light so it's hard to see the stars, I encourage you to go out into the county, away from street lights, and stare up at the stars (it's a new moon this week so there won't be much to see as far as the moon).  As you...
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Our Scripture reading for tomorrow is Luke 14:1-24. === Last Saturday night over 11 million people around the world (likely mostly from Canada) tuned in to watch the Tragically Hip concert on CBC. It was a big enough deal that organizations like the Toronto Police tweeted: "Dear World, please be advised that Canada will be closed tonight at 8:30 PM ET. Have a #TragicallyHip day." With Gord Downie, the lead singer, being recently diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor this tour is likely the last for the band. And so all eyes have turned to "the Hip" as Canadians have...
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Our Scripture reading for this coming Sunday is Luke 13:10-17. === On Sunday we will look at this passage, but in preparation it's good to look at this passage in its context. It comes immediately after this call to repentance (with a warning) and immediately before two short parables on the kingdom of God. In this context, the miracle of Jesus healing the woman who was bent over with a spirit of weakness from Satan, shows us something about Jesus, about the Kingdom of God, and about those in positions of religious authority who couldn't accept Jesus. I read this...
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Our Scripture reading for Sunday is Isaiah 5:1-7. === As you read this passage, you read about the expert care of the one who prepared, planted, and cared for his vineyard. Everything was done to prepare the land, to protect the crop, to allow it to bear fruit in season that would produce choice wine. But then there is a problem: the grapes stink. They are rotten, useless, wild grapes that are no good. All the care put in, all the effort, was all for naught. Was it the fault of the one who prepared, planted, and cared for his...
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The Scripture reading for this Sunday is Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 (but reading Isaiah 1:1-20 is a good idea for the context). We will also celebrate the Lord's Supper together. === James Limburg tells this story: I recall as a boy going pheasant hunting with my father and some of his friends. It was a crisp fall afternoon. The hunting for the day was finished. We sat eating lunch, and the men told stories. I remember that someone asked a question: "I need a new combine. Where is the best place to buy it?" 'Buy it from [John],' someone said, "He...
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Our Scripture for this Sunday is Luke 12:13-21 === "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions." That's about as counter-cultural as any statement that Jesus made. In North America, and through much of the world, life does consist in the abundance of our possessions, at least it seems to. Life seems to be about satisfying our wants. But it's interesting that Jesus says to watch out against all kinds of greed. It's not just the greed of those who have much and want more. It's the greed...
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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is Psalm 85. === I've been thinking, especially lately, about the good old days. And it's not because I was just on vacation -- talking with friends about the past, about adventures we had, about some experiences where we were blessed to still be alive and having made it through adolescence. A lot of that just happens when you go home for almost two weeks and you spend some time catching up. But, again, that's not why I've been thinking about the good old days. I've been thinking about the good old days because...
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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is Psalm 22:1-11. === Why do we suffer? Before we even begin to answer that question we have to acknowledge that people asking this question, ourselves included, ask this question often out of deep pain and suffering that can just feel so senseless. How could a good and loving God allow such suffering? My grandmother was such a lovely lady, such a strong believer in her Lord, Jesus Christ, ... why did she have to suffer for so many years until her death? She deserved better. How can a loving God watch as children...
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The Scripture reading for this Sunday is Isaiah 43:1-7. === What is the meaning of life?  That's the kind of question that can make us wonder, stop us in our tracks, and possibly throw us into despair. Sometimes things just seem so meaning-less. I like that comic, showing Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse wondering. We don't usually tackle the question of the meaning of life when we are in the midst of an activity, or when things are going great. It's when things go wrong that we start wondering about the meaning of life and all the things...
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Our Scripture reading for this Sunday is 2 Timothy 3:10-17. === In 1 Peter 3:15-16, the Apostle Peter writes: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." Over the next number of weeks we are going to be looking at some of the big questions that people may ask Christians (or that we may have of Christianity)....
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Our Scripture reading tomorrow morning -- as we celebrate Pentecost -- will be Romans 8:12-17. === However, in preparation for Pentecost, I invite you to read Acts 2:1-41 quickly as a reminder of the first Pentecost, and the amazing things that happened on that day as the Spirit was poured out and as the church spread throughout the world.  As you read it, I invite you to think about the work of the Spirit today. How do you see the Spirit working? Do you see the Spirit working? When you think of the Spirit's power, or what the Spirit does,...
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This Sunday is GEMS Sunday. All year the GEMS focused on the theme "Choose Truth" based on Psalm 119:105 -- "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." (NLT) That verse is found inside the front cover of many NIV Bibles, it's known by many Christians, and was sung often in many churches in the 1980's, 90's, and still today (Thy Word by Amy Grant with Michael W. Smith). It instructs us that God's Word is a light for us in a world that, increasingly, may seem more and more dark. But here's the...
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