Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sermon for June 27th: Introducing Back to Church Sunday

(NOTE: FIRST SECTION, IN ITALICS, MAY BE REPLACED BY INTERVIEWS WITH MEMBERS OF CONGREGATION).

During my ministry I’ve had the pleasure of doing a number of adult baptisms, and they have usually been very special occasions; there’s something really moving about an adult coming to the point in his or her life where they want to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ, and doing it in the ancient Christian way, by being baptized. I once had the privilege of baptizing a seventeen-year-old girl in the Edmonton Young Offender Centre; she had come to faith in Christ through the ministry of the chaplain, and was now bravely stepping out and identifying herself as a Christian in a place where I knew she would definitely suffer for it. It was an honour and a joy to be a part of that very special day.

I baptized my friend Terry when he was in his late forties. He’d definitely had a Christian element in his upbringing, but had not been baptized and had not been a churchgoer for many years. However, he had a good friend who was a Christian and went to our church, and from time to time they had conversations about the Christian faith. Then Terry went through a very difficult patch in his life, including the loss of a very well-paying job and the breakup of his marriage. He thought of the conversations he’d had with his friend, and one day, out of the blue, he showed up at the door of our church on a Sunday morning. The sermon that day just happened to be on the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and as Terry said to me later, he felt just like the lost sheep returning home. Thus began a chain of events that eventually led to the day when he committed his life to Christ in baptism.

Of course, I had a part in that chain – Terry and I had many conversations about the Christian faith and what it was all about – but none of it would have happened if it had not been for the fact that he had a friend who went to our church. Churches can be scary places for people who aren’t used to them; the general population is less and less familiar with what we do from Sunday to Sunday, and it’s amazing how difficult it can be to step across the threshold of a church if you haven’t been for years, or maybe have never been a tall. But if you’ve got a friend there, a friend who has invited you to come along with them, that can make all the difference.

Many of us are familiar with the stories of Peter, the fisherman who became a great apostle and leader of the early church. But we often forget that Peter would never have become a follower of Jesus if it had not been for his brother Andrew. Andrew met Jesus before Peter did; he had been a disciple of John the Baptist, and John was the one who told him to go and become a follower of Jesus. So Andrew spent a day with Jesus and was obviously very impressed with what he saw and heard. John’s Gospel tells us that after he left Jesus, the first thing he did was to go and find his brother Simon Peter; he took him to meet Jesus, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The same chapter of John’s Gospel tells the story of Philip, who became a follower of Jesus and then went and told his friend Nathanael about him.

‘He said, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth”. Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see”’. (John 1:45-46).

So Nathanael went along with Philip, and ended up staying and becoming a disciple of Jesus too.

This story has been repeated over and over again in the history of Christianity. There have been many famous evangelists who have travelled thousands of mile and preached impressive sermons to enormous crowds, but the most successful method by far of bringing new people to faith in Christ is person to person: the invitation of a friend who says, ‘Come and see’. Some of you in this church today are churchgoers because someone invited you. Some of you have become followers of Jesus as a result of a process that began when someone said to you, ‘Would you like to come to church with me?’ And, like Peter, some people who have responded to this simple invitation have gone on to become influential Christian leaders. Archbishop Michael Peers, who was the leader of our Canadian Anglican Church until a few years ago, often told the story of how his Christian life began when he was a student in Ottawa, when a fellow-student invited him to go to church with him.

And that’s what ‘Back to Church Sunday’ is all about. ‘Back to Church Sunday’ is an initiative that began in one corner of the Church of England less than ten years ago. It is based on a very simple concept: one Christian inviting a friend who is not a churchgoer to come to church with them. There’s no big media campaign and no bells and whistles. None of the advertising is aimed at bringing strangers into church; it’s all aimed at convincing nervous Christians to be brave, step out in faith and make the invitation. In just a few years Back to Church Sunday, on the last Sunday of September each year, has become a regular part of the life of the Church of England, and now it has come to Canada. Last year the Diocese of Toronto did it; reports say that the number of guests who came to participating congregations varied from one to one hundred. In one parish, Christ Church Campbellford, thirty guests came, and fifteen of them are still attending regularly. This year we’re going to try it in the Diocese of Edmonton, and our vestry has agreed that St. Margaret’s will participate; on Sunday September 26th, we will join with many other churches in our diocese in celebrating ‘Back to Church Sunday’.

If you like what some people disparagingly call ‘the numbers game’, this concept should appeal to you. I’m not one to disparage the numbers game myself; the author of the Book of Acts often tells us how many people responded to the Christian message, starting on the Day of Pentecost when he tells us about the three thousand people who heard Peter’s sermon and decided to become followers of Jesus. A friend of mine used to say, ‘We count people because people count!’ And just imagine this concept: if every one of us invited a friend to come to church with us on Back to Church Sunday, and every friend accepted the invitation and came, we’d double the size of our congregation on that day! You think it’s impossible? Well, if you think it’s impossible, it probably is, because if you think it’s impossible you probably won’t try it. But if you step out in faith and try it, God might just surprise you.

But maybe the numbers game doesn’t appeal to you. If not, think about these two questions my friend Harold Percy used to ask people: ‘Do you have a faith worth sharing?’ and ‘Do you have a friend worth sharing it with?’ Many of us have dear friends who we love very much but who do not share our Christian faith. Perhaps we’ve seen them going through crises in their lives, and wondered how on earth they manage to get through them without having God as their rock. Perhaps from time to time we’ve had conversations with them about Christian faith. Well, here’s an opportunity for those conversations to move to the next step: invitation. As Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see!”

But we might get a little nervous about inviting people to ‘come and see’; maybe we’re not altogether sure they’ll like what they see! And so as we prepare for ‘Back to Church Sunday’, we’ll need to think together about whether our church is really as welcoming and accessible as we think it is. This involves us thinking about stuff that we often don’t notice. For instance, my friend Harold Percy used to talk about church signs written in insider code. He had once seen a sign outside an Anglican Church that said, ‘Services at 10.30 a.m. 1 & 3: HC, 2 & 4:MP’. Do you know what that means? It means that on the first and third Sundays of the month the service was Holy Communion, and on the second and fourth it was Morning Prayer. But it didn’t exactly communicate a message of welcome to people who didn’t know the code, did it?

So as we go through the summer I’ll be putting little ‘welcome notes’ in the bulletin; things for us to think about so that we can improve the quality of our welcome. They all involve a change in mindset for some of us. We’re used to thinking of ourselves as the guests in this church, but Back to Church Sunday challenges us to think of ourselves as the hosts instead, and to do our best to welcome the guests that Jesus will bring our way on that day.

But how should we go about this? What’s the process by which we decide who we should invite, and then go on to actually make the invitation? Let me suggest this simple process, which you’ll find on the insert in your bulletin today:

First, ask yourself the question, “What do I value about my church that would motivate me to want to invite others to join it?” After all, people are enormously talented about creating new and excruciating forms of misery for themselves; they don’t need our help, and if church is a miserable experience for you, you really shouldn’t try to inflict it on anyone else! So what is it that keeps you coming? How does it enrich your life? How does it help you connect with God and other people? How does it motivate you to live a different sort of life? If you can identify what it is that you value about St. Margaret’s, you’ll be more confident in inviting someone else to join you.

Second, ask yourself another question: Who in my life might God have been preparing for me to invite to Back to Church Sunday? Reflect on this – pray about it and ask God to guide you. As names come to mind over a few weeks, consider which of them might be the one you invite. You see, there’s an assumption here that God is already at work in people’s lives. It’s not our business to do all the work ourselves. It’s our business to try to be obedient to God and to follow his leading. So who might be the one we might invite? Ask God to guide you about this.

Third, pray for the person you invite – long before you invite them! And not just that: pray also for everyone else in our church as they invite their friends too. Pray for the services on that day, that they will be really helpful for people who are new to churchgoing and new to Christian faith. Pray for those who will lead the services, and for everyone else in the congregation who joins in welcoming our guests. This is God’s work, and it won’t go anywhere unless we pray.

Fourth – and this is the simple, crucial step: make the invitation to your friend. You can practice it if you like: it’s only about thirteen words long. It goes like this: ‘Would you like to come to church with me on September 26th?’ I know that some of you here have asked much more threatening questions than that – “Will you vote for me in the upcoming civic election?’ for instance, or even “Will you marry me?” So why not break the sound barrier and give this simple question a try?

Fifth, if your friend says yes, offer to pick them up and drive them to church on September 26th. That way there’s none of that anxious waiting at the door, wondering if they’ve forgotten or if they’ve backed out at the last minute. Also, that way you can introduce them to the greeters on the way in, and they’ll already have made one or two new acquaintances before the service has even started. And you can sit with them during the service, help them find their way around the bulletin, and help them with any other books they might need for the service.

Sixth, after the service, introduce them to your friends over coffee and include them in the conversation. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen new people come down to coffee hour after church and watched about three quarters of the regular churchgoers totally ignoring them! It’s true that there are a few people in our church who are very good at welcoming newcomers, but many of us could stand to learn a little more hospitality toward the guests of Jesus! But once again, it will be so much easier for your friend if you bring them down to coffee hour yourself and introduce them to a few people.

Lastly, assume they’ll be coming back. Ask them afterwards, “Shall I pick you up again next week? Would you like to go to lunch together afterwards?” Don’t assume that they hated the whole experience! Over the past few years I’ve invited friends to come to church with me for ‘Bring a Friend’ services on a number of occasions, and they’ve always told me afterwards that they enjoyed the experience.

So – this is our simple plan of outreach for September 26th. We’ll be joining with millions of Christians in different parts of the world in this effort to share the gospel with people. I myself plan to invite a friend to join me on that day, and I’m already thinking and praying about who that friend might be. Mind you, it might be a little more difficult for me to sit with my friend during the service and help them find their way – I might have to ask for your help in that!

What about you? Does this excite you? Scare you? Challenge you? Sounds like many of the positive experiences we have in our lives! Why not step out in faith and participate in this outreach project? Do you have a faith worth sharing? Do you have a friend worth sharing it with? Well, here’s a simple way to share your faith with your friend. Why not give it a try?

June 28 - July 4

C A L E N D A R

Monday, June 28th

Tim’s Day Off

Office Closed

Thursday, July 1st – Canada Day

Office Closed

Friday, July 2nd

Erin on Holidays until July 13th

Sunday, July 4th – Pentecost 6

9:00 am Holy Communion

9:45 am Combined Coffee

10:30 am Holy Communion

Growing Prayer at St.Margaret’s

Each week we offer special prayers for two families in our congregation.

Church Families:

Dave and Janet Fost

Corey, Lisa, Abbey and Jonas Froese

Weekly Prayer Cycle: Counters

CAMTA Outreach Totals: $5465

Once again, we have surpassed our goal with a special thank you to an anonomys donor. Vestry has decided to take the surplus and carry it into our next outreach project, which is the Salvation Army

Back to Church Sunday ‘Welcome Notes’

Do we see ourselves primarily as guests or as hosts in this church? What difference would it make for us to see ourselves not only as guests but also as hosts? What would each of us do differently as a result?

Sunday September 26th is Back to Church Sunday. Who might God be asking you to invite to church that day?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

July Roster

July 4 - Pentecost 6 – Holy Communion – Combined coffee

Greeter/Sidespeople: T. Willacy & B. Cavey

Counter: B. Cavey/ B. Rice

Reader: R. Goss

Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, Galatians 6:1-16

Lay Administrants: E. Gerber & M. Rys

Intercessor: L. Thompson

Lay Reader: E. Gerber Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Altar Guild (Green): 9:00 M. Lobreau/10:30 P. Major

Prayer Team during Communion: K. Hughes/K. Hughes

Nursery Supervisor: None

Sunday School: None

Kitchen: B. & M. Woytkiw

Music: Wayne Pyra


July 11 - Pentecost 7 – Holy Communion

Greeter/Sidespeople: C & M Aasen

Counter: C. Aasen/ D. Sanderson

Reader: S. Watson

Readings: Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82, Colossians 1:1-14

Lay Administrants: L. Thompson/ V. Haase

Intercessor: M. Rys

Lay Reader: L. Thompson Luke 10:25-37

Altar Guild (Green): 9:00 M. Woytkiw/10:30 T. Wittkopf

Prayer Team during Communion: L. Sanderson/M. Rys

Nursery Supervisor: None

Sunday School: None

Kitchen: A. Shutt/V. Haase

Music: Eva Thompson


July 18 - Pentecost 8 – Holy Communion and Baptism

Greeter/Sidespeople: D. & E. Mitty

Counter: D. Mitty/ V. Haase

Reader: S. Doyle

Readings: Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52, Colossians 1:15-28

Lay Administrants: D. MacNeill/C. Aasen

Intercessor: L. Thompson

Lay Reader: D. MacNeill Luke 10:38-42

Altar Guild (Green): 9:00 J. Mill/10:30 P. Major

Prayer Team during Communion: E. Gerber/S. Jayakaran

Nursery: None

Sunday School: None

Kitchen: J. Holmes/B. Cavey

Music: Marci Chesterton


July 25 - 9:00 am and 10:30 am Morning Worship Pentecost 9

Greeter/Sidespeople: K & A Shutt

Counter: A. Shutt/ B. Rice

Reader: R. Betty

Readings: Hosea 1:2-20, Psalm 85, Colossians 2:6-19

Intercessor: D. MacNeill

Lay Reader: E. Gerber Luke 11:1-13

Altar Guild (Green): Morning Worship

Nursery Supervisor: None

Sunday School: None

Kitchen: K. Weir

Music: Eva Thompson

July Calendar

St. Margaret’s Anglican Church

Calendar – July 2010


Office Hours: Wednesday and Friday 9:00 am - Noon


Sunday, July 4 - Pentecost 6

9:00 am - Holy Communion

9:45 am - COMBINED COFFEE

10:30 am - Holy Communion


Monday, July 5

Tim’s day off

Office Closed


Wednesday, July 7

3:30 Corporation Meeting


Thursday, July 8

7:00 am Men’s and Women’s Bible Study at Bogani’s


Sunday, July 11 - Pentecost 7

9:00 am - Holy Communion

10:30 am - Holy Communion


Monday, July 12

Tim’s day off

Office Closed


Tuesday, July 13

11:45 am St. Joseph's Eucharist


Sunday, July 18 - Pentecost 8

9:00 am - Holy Communion

10:30 am - Holy Communion


Monday, July 19

Tim’s Study Leave (July 19 - 25)

Office Closed


Sunday, July 25 - Pentecost 9

9:00 am - Morning Worship led by Elaine Gerber and Lloyd Thompson

10:30 am - Morning Worship led by Elaine Gerber and Lloyd Thompson


Monday, July 26

Tim's Holiday (July 26 - August 15)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 21-27

C A L E N D A R

Monday, June 21st

Tim’s Day Off

Office Closed

Tuesday, June 22nd

Tim at Clergy Conference until June 25

Office Closed

Thursday, June 24th

7:00 am Men’s and Women’s Bible Study at Bogani Café

Office Closed

Saturday, June 26th

3:00 pm BBQ at Rices’

Sunday, June 27th – Pentecost 5

9:00 am Holy Communion

10:30 am Morning Worship and Sunday School

Growing Prayer at St.Margaret’s

Each week we offer special prayers for two families in our congregation.

Church Families:

Sally Floden

Sandy, Victoria and Andrew Ford

Weekly Prayer Cycle: Greeters and Side People

CAMTA Outreach Totals: $5360

Once again, we have surpassed our goal with a special thank you to an anonomys donor. Vestry has decided to take the surplus and carry it into our next outreach project, which is the Salvation Army

Sunday September 26th is Back to Church Sunday. Who might God be asking you to invite to church that day?


ITEMS TO NOTE

Annual Fellowship Barbeque - June 26th: Held at the Rice’s acreage. You are invited at arrive anytime after 3pm. This is a potluck supper.

Additional Sunday school Class: There will be a Sunday School Class for Pre-school children commencing in the fall. Anyone interested in having their name on the volunteer roster for that class please speak with Erin McDougall. There will be more information available soon for Parents wishing to enrol their pre-school children in the Sunday school class.

St. Margaret’s 30th Anniversary: On September 12, 2010 St. Margaret’s will celebrate 30 years. We will have one service at 10am and a BBQ will follow. Bishop Jane Alexander will preside at the service.

St. Margaret’s Summer Bulletin Campaign

This summer we would like to see what churches were visited over the summer months. When you are on holidays we ask that you bring the bulletins from the churches attended back to St. Margaret’s and post them on the board in the foyer.

St. Margaret’s would like to participate in the Pac Sack Appeal project led by the ICPM. ICPM is seeking churches and interested persons who would be willing to donate packsacks containing needed personal items. In the past, donors have searched yard sales to obtain the packsacks and low cost store items for packsack contents. If you are willing to assist us in this appeal, please begin gathering used or inexpensive pack sacks and fill them with, Comb or brush, Cotton Socks, Lip balm, Note pad and pen, Sun screen, Fun item (crossword, cards), Hand lotion, Chocolate or energy bar, Toothbrush, Small Kleenex, Toothpaste, Wash cloth, Dental floss, $10 grocery food voucher or McDonald’s voucher, Deodorant and a Nail file. If you have a packsack you would like to fill and donate please bring it to the church and we will have a deposit box set up. Any further questions can be directed to Pastor Rick Chapman at (780) 424-7652 or e-mail rick@icpmedmonton.ca

Sermon for June 20th: 1 Kings 19:!-15a

God’s Care for Burnt-Out Disciples

Let me tell you the story of Jack. Jack committed his life to Christ when he was a teenager. He wasn’t brought up in a Christian family and he didn’t get any encouragement from them when he started attending a church and going to midweek youth group meetings. But he loved Jesus passionately and was very enthusiastic about his new faith, so he barely noticed the opposition. He got involved in a small church that had to struggle to survive, and it was only natural that as he got older he became one of the leaders of the youth work.

Jack went to university and then went out into the business world. He found very few Christians in the company he worked for, and the values assumed by the people in his office were very different from his own. Money was the bottom line. Everyone was aiming for a comfortable lifestyle and lots of them were willing to cut quite a few ethical corners to get it. Jack wasn’t backward about his faith, and gradually he got used to being an object of jokes around the office. He continued to attend church and was now the leader of the youth work. He really wanted to make a difference for Christ and lead others to know and love him, but he was getting more and more discouraged. Not much seemed to be happening; so little was changing.

At a certain point in Jack’s mid-twenties, the pressure just got to be too much for him. So many family gatherings began on Sunday mornings, and he got tired of always being the one who had to be late. He got tired of being the one who was always different at the office, the one everyone else made jokes about. He got tired of all the responsibility of the youth work at church; everyone wanted to see it happen, but no one else was willing to lend a hand. He just lost his enthusiasm for it. He didn’t complain about it; he just gradually discovered that it was a lot easier to sleep in on Sunday mornings, and to blend in at the office. It’s ten years now since Jack went to church, and although he misses it and feels guilty about it, in some ways life is a lot easier for him now.

It must have been about twenty-five years ago that I first heard the phrase ‘burnout’ used to describe the experience we go through when the gap between our ideals on the one hand and reality on the other just becomes too great for us, and our inner flame dies out. As soon as I heard the phrase explained, I recognised that I’d already been close to it several times. I’d been working as a minister in small rural churches with few members, always struggling with financial problems and wondering if the church would survive, and because I was the minister it was always my fault when things went badly. In this context it was easy to lose one’s enthusiasm for Christ, for following him and for leading others to him.

Our Old Testament reading today is obviously a burnout story. It’s the story of a burnt-out prophet, the prophet Elijah. Let’s think about his story together.

Elijah lived in the time of Ahab and Jezebel, who we met in last week’s readings. Ahab was king of the northern kingdom of Israel, with his capital in Samaria. He needed allies, so he made a political marriage to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon and an enthusiastic worshipper of the Canaanite gods Ba’al and Asherah. Jezebel was determined to introduce the worship of these false gods into Israel, and Ahab went along with her, building temples to them in his cities in contradiction to the command of Yahweh (God’s Old Testament name) that people should worship him alone. Those who refused to go along with the worship of Ba’al and Asherah were persecuted, and Jezebel tried to wipe out all the prophets of Yahweh.

Enter Elijah the Tishbite. He was a prophet of Yahweh who stood against Ahab and Jezebel. He proclaimed that God was going to send a drought on the land in punishment for the people’s idolatry, and then he disappeared into the desert. For three years there was no rain, and the people became desperate. Ahab looked all over the kingdom for Elijah and could find him nowhere.

After three years, Elijah emerged and summoned the prophets of Ba’al to a public contest on Mount Carmel. He challenged them to build an altar to Ba’al, while he built an altar to Yahweh. They would call on their god, he on Yahweh, and the god who sent fire to burn up the sacrifice on the altar would be the nation’s god. So the prophets of Ba’al built an altar and prayed, danced and sang around it all day long, but nothing happened. At evening time they fell exhausted. Then Elijah went to his altar, dug a trench around it, drenched it with water to make it difficult for Yahweh, and prayed for him to send fire. God sent fire from heaven and burnt up the sacrifice. The people all cried out ‘Yahweh is God’, the prophets of Ba’al were all executed, and shortly afterward the Lord sent the rain that the land so sorely needed.

But then came the events of our reading today. Jezebel was understandably furious when she heard that the same treatment she’d been giving Yahweh’s prophets had been meted out on the prophets of Ba’al. So she sent a message to Elijah warning him that the same thing was about to happen to him.

We can imagine the pressure Elijah was under. He was part of a persecuted minority in the land, and he had emerged as the leader of Yahweh’s faithful people. He had been hiding in fear for his life for three years. He had finally emerged to a stunning victory on Mount Carmel, and he probably assumed that from now on the allegiance of the people would be returned to Yahweh. But immediately the message from Jezebel told him that nothing had changed; she was still in charge, and his life was still in danger. Elijah had had enough. He got out of Ahab and Jezebel’s territory as fast as he could and went south to the kingdom of Judah, where he prayed “It is enough; now, Yahweh, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4). In other words, “Lord, I don’t want to do this any more!”

Can you sympathise with Elijah? I know I can. We Christians are in a minority in our society today, and it wears you down to have to continually buck the trends. “Why do I have to be the different one all the time, Lord? It would be so much easier just to blend in with everyone else!” And of course, that’s what some Christians do. They keep their faith secret, and outwardly go along with the behaviour and beliefs of the society around them - worshipping both Yahweh and Ba’al, as it were. But for those who remember God’s command to worship him alone, it can be hard. We never get away from conflict, and this can so easily wear us down.

Also, to be quite frank, the church isn’t always much help. Church can be such hard work! There’s never enough money so we’re always being asked for more, and quite frankly, if I hadn’t tithed for the past thirty years, I’d be a lot richer today than I actually am! There are never enough volunteers to do everything that needs to be done. There’s an old saying, ‘There are two kinds of people in the church; pillars and caterpillars. The pillars hold the church up, and the caterpillars crawl in and out!’ Well, after a while it gets really tiring to be a pillar! It would be so much easier to be a caterpillar! Or, even better, to stop coming at all, which is the route that many Christians take when burnout gets to them.

So we’ve seen what the problem is. Now, what does God do to care for Elijah? How does God care for burnt-out Christians? Well, God knew that there were two things Elijah needed most: physical rest and refreshment, and a fresh meeting with the living God. In this passage God gives Elijah both these things.

First, physical rest and refreshment. I try to imagine myself as Elijah’s counsellor. He comes to me complaining of these symptoms of burnout, and what do I suggest to him? I probably say, “Well, Elijah, you obviously need a spiritual shot in the arm. I suggest that you go and stay at a monastery for a week and make a silent retreat. Get your prayer life sorted out, make sure you receive communion regularly, maybe go to cursillo, and meet regularly with other Christians for prayer and Bible Study”.

Well, none of these are bad things, but the problem is the poor guy’s already so tired out that I’m just adding to his burdens! But fortunately for Elijah, God is a lot smarter than I am. Yes, he was going to sort out Elijah’s prayer life, but not yet. First, he recognised a more fundamental need: a good night’s sleep, and something to eat! Look at 1 Kings 19:5-8:

Then Elijah lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Get up and eat’. He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of Yahweh came a second time, touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you’. He got up and ate and drank.

The body has a tremendous effect on the soul, and if we mistreat the body, we can’t expect to escape the consequences. I read somewhere that my generation sleeps on average two hours less per night than our grandparents did - that’s one of the gifts of electricity to our society! Consequently we are chronically sleep deprived. Thousands of car accidents can be traced to this every year, as well as accidents in the workplace. As a society we also don’t seem to be able to get our diet right. We either struggle with overweight, or we suffer from eating disorders.

God’s first priority was to attend to the needs of Elijah’s body. We can’t ignore this. We have to pay attention to the needs of our bodies. We need to make sure we get enough sleep on a regular basis, that we have a proper diet and regular exercise. If we need medical help to get started on this, we should ask for it. God cares about this stuff, and if we ignore it, it will only come back to take revenge on us later.

So the first thing God did to care for his burnt-out prophet was to give him a good night’s sleep and something to eat. Secondly, he arranged that Elijah would have a fresh encounter with God. One of the things that really impressed me about Bishop Victoria when she was interviewing me for St. Margaret’s was that the first thing she asked me about was my prayer life. She knew that it’s easy to get so busy doing things for God that you forget to make time just to enjoy God’s presence.

What Elijah needed was a fresh encounter with the living God. So our reading tells us of how he made a forty-day journey into the desert until he came to Mount Sinai, the mountain where God had given the Ten Commandments to Moses. There on the mountain he had a fresh meeting with Yahweh. There was a wind, an earthquake, a fire and finally ‘a sound of sheer silence’. In that silence Elijah recognised the presence of God, and out of that silence he heard God’s voice in a fresh way.

In Dennis Bennett’s book Nine O’Clock in the Morning he tells this story:

In the early days of my marriage, when I was working in the electronics business, I used to get up early and sit in the morning quiet to feel God’s nearness, and I would feel it! The assurance of love, warmth, and well-being that God’s presence brought, I found to be what life was all about. I realised that if I could somehow keep this continually with me, all questions would be answered.

Someone somewhere has used the phrase ‘creeping separateness’ to describe what happens to many couples as their marriages get older; slowly, without them noticing it, they grow less close. I think that often happens in our relationship with God too. There’s a story about a little village in Africa where people go into the forest to be alone with God and pray. Because they’ve been doing this for so many years, there are little paths worn through the trees. When one Christian feels that another Christian is neglecting his or her prayer life, they will go up to the person and say “I think I see some grass on your prayer-path, brother!”

If there is grass on your prayer-path, give yourself a treat and get back into a close relationship with God. There’s no substitute for it. No amount of information about God can replace the actual touch of God on our hearts.

I would make a guess that some of us here this morning are feeling a real sense of identification with Elijah. The Christian life is wearing us down; we’re tired of being a minority in society, tired of always having to be different, tired of having to be the ones that keep the church going all the time. Perhaps, like Elijah, we find ourselves saying to God “Lord, I don’t want to do this any more!”

If you are in this place in your life, let me suggest that you seek God’s help in the same way he did. First, pay attention to the needs of your body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Make sure you’re eating properly and getting enough exercise. God doesn’t just care for souls, he cares for bodies too; a large percentage of Jesus’ ministry consisted of the healing of people’s bodies. So make sure you give the same attention to the care of your body as Jesus does.

Secondly, seek a fresh touch of God on your life. There’s a lovely phrase that often appears in the Bible: ‘Waiting on the Lord’. Biblical people aren’t in a hurry about their relationship with God; they know that it takes time to develop a living experience of God, and they are prepared to wait until it becomes real for them. Today we’re in such a rush, and it’s no wonder that we have so little sense of the presence of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. But if we are experiencing burnout, we need to seek the Lord just as Dennis Bennett did when he sat in silence each morning and sensed God’s presence. Without this, we will burn out for sure, but with the touch of God on our lives we’ll find that we’re able to deal with the things life sends our way, because we’re no longer alone.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Confirmation at St. Margaret's, June 13th 2010

Confirmation of Mark and Brent Watson and Joe Semeniuk, with Bishop Jane Alexander officiating, assisted by the Rev. Tim Chesterton.

Confirmation party.



Semeniuk family.



Watson family.


June 14 - 20

C A L E N D A R

Monday, June 14th

Tim’s Day Off

Office Closed

Wednesday, June 16th

7:15 pm Vestry

Thursday, June 17th

7:00 am Men’s and Women’s Bible Study at Bogani Café

2:00 pm Women’s Bible study at Marg Rys’s house

Saturday, June 19th

10:00 am Moms’ Group

Sunday, June 20th – Pentecost 4

9:00 am Holy Communion

10:30 am Holy Communion and Sunday School

Growing Prayer at St.Margaret’s

Each week we offer special prayers for two families in our congregation.

Church Families:

Lawrence, Rosalina, Peter, Daniel and Maria Fernandes

Joan Finlay

Weekly Prayer Cycle: Altar Guild

St. Margaret’s Summer Bulletin Campaign

This summer we would like to see what churches were visited over the summer months. When you are on holidays we ask that you bring the bulletins from the churches attended back to St. Margaret’s and post them on the board in the foyer.

ITEMS TO NOTE

Outreach Help Needed! Our deadline to raise $5000 for CAMTA is June 30th, and we still need to raise $2995 to reach our goal. Information about CAMTA is available on the table in the foyer

Annual Fellowship Barbeque - June 26th: Held at the Rice’s acreage. You are invited at arrive anytime after 3pm. This is a potluck supper. If anyone has a set of horse shoes (the game) or a volley ball net, or any other appropriate BBQ games would you please let the church office know or Beryl Rice.

Letters to Nipa and Partel – I have extended the deadline for letter writing. If anyone is interested in writing a letter, brief or long, please drop it off or e-mail it to the church office By Friday June 18. World Vision suggests you tell him or her about your family, activities, and where you live. Please do not write your address inside the letter. Children are encouraged to participate as well, they can send a letter or colour a picture. To learn about our sponsor children see their profiles on the Outreach Bulletin board downstairs.

Additional Sunday school Class!: There will be a Sunday School Class for Pre-school children commencing in the fall. Anyone interested in having their name on the volunteer roster for that class please speak with Erin McDougall. There will be more information available soon for Parents wishing to enrol their pre-school children in the Sunday school class.

St. Margaret’s 30th Anniversary: On September 12, 2010 St. Margaret’s will celebrate 30 years. We will have one service at 10am and a BBQ will follow. Bishop Jane Alexander will preside at the service.

Sunday September 26th is Back to Church Sunday. Who might God be asking you to invite to church that day?

CAMTA Outreach Totals: $2005