Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sermon for Sunday January 20th: Psalm 36


The Brightness of God and the Darkness of Sin

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to have a book published; it’s called ‘Starting at the Beginning’, and it’s a book about the basics of Christian faith. Of course, when we were getting close to the end of the process we had to start making decisions about things like ‘What typeface shall we use?’ or ‘Do we want a cover photo?’ or ‘What colour should the cover be?’ The designers chose a very nice cover photo showing a very diverse group of people sitting in church – at least, I think that’s where they were sitting – and then, in a stroke of genius, they chose to use a black cover. Somehow the black cover really served to emphasise the colours in the photograph. Also, the red letters of the title really stood out well against the black background. I’m told that artists will often do this – paint something in bright colours against a dark background, so that the colours stand out.

In Psalm 36, the author, who might have been King David, is painting with bright colours against a dark background. David thinks that the life of following the Lord is the most wonderful life he can possibly imagine. He praises God for his steadfast love and faithfulness, and for his righteousness and justice. He describes God’s steadfast love as ‘precious’, and he celebrates how God has protected him, nourished him, and been a bright light to his life. He calls on the world of nature to help him celebrate the wonder of God: God’s steadfast love stretches to the heavens, his faithfulness to the clouds, his righteousness is as strong as the mountains, and his justice is as deep as the ocean. What a wonderful God, and what a wonderful life that God gives to us! These are the bright colours David is using to paint his picture.

And yet, the bright colours are painted against a dark background: the fact that there are some people who just don’t seem to see it! They are ‘the wicked’, and they are convinced there’s no God looking down on them to judge their actions, so they do whatever they like to get their own selfish way, not caring how many other people get hurt along the way. This is the dark reality of the world that David lives in, and he sees the joy and wonder of God against the background of that dark reality.

This is the world that we Christians live in too, isn’t it? We’ve read the story of Jesus and seen the brightness of God there. We’ve put our faith in Jesus and committed ourselves to living as his followers. We’re learning that following Jesus may be hard, yes, but it’s also wonderful, a journey of discovering and experiencing God’s steadfast love for us, of learning to see life as Jesus sees it and to live life as he taught it. And yet, we know that many people around us don’t see what we see. And there are times when we don’t see it either; there are times when we experience unanswered prayer, or we go through suffering that seems unfair to us, and the darkness looms large and the bright colours of God’s love seem to dim. That’s the joy and the struggle we face. Psalm 36 helps us recognize that joy and struggle, and it helps us choose to continue to follow God’s way.

So let’s start by looking at the bright colours. David has chosen to live a life focused on God, the God who made the world and everything in it. What has he found out about that God? Look with me at verses 5 and 6 (I’m using the New Revised Standard Version, not the version in the BAS, because it’s closer to the original Hebrew):
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgements are like the great deep;
You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

First, he reminds us of God’s ‘steadfast love’. The words ‘steadfast love’ translate the Hebrew word ‘chesed’. The ‘ch’ sound is guttural, so it’s a soft word with a hard sound at the beginning of it! And ‘chesed’ is a soft concept with a toughness behind it; it’s love, but not just a sweet, sentimental love.  It’s steadfast love, love that you can rely on, love that will always be there, because the lover has committed himself to the one he loves. It’s very close to the idea of ‘faithfulness’, which is why David combines the two in verse 5: ’Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds’.

So the words ‘steadfast love’ reminds us that God has made a promise to love his people through thick and thin. This promise is utterly reliable, because God is utterly reliable. I often say to couples preparing for marriage that in soap opera land they might say “I do”, but in the church we’re a little wiser: the promise they will make is “I will”. “I do” is a promise about feelings; it answers the question ‘Do you love her?’ But really, why do we have to ask that question at a wedding? We know they’re in love with each other, in the emotional sense, but emotion isn’t enough to sustain a lifetime together. “I will”, by contrast, is about decisions and actions: I promise to be there for you, to care for you, to serve you in big ways and little ways, even when I don’t feel like it. And that’s what God’s steadfast love is like: God has bound himself to us by a promise, and he will not let us down.

David says that God is also a God of ‘righteousness’. The Hebrew word for ‘righteousness’ is a hard one to translate into English, because it holds together many different ideas. It includes the ideas of straightness, staying on the path, of justice, of doing what it right. It’s often tied with the idea of judgement, so God is a just judge who gives righteous judgements to rescue his people and punish the wicked. So if you’re one of the godly poor who are always being trampled on, God’s ‘righteousness’ is a comforting thought to you; it means that even though the wicked may be getting it all their own way right now, it’s not always going to be like that.

What’s it like to live in fellowship with a God like that? Look again at verses 7-9:
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

So living in fellowship with this God is like having a place of protection you can go to when times get tough, just like the little baby chicks will run and take shelter under the wings of their mother when they’re afraid. That’s what God is like, David says; when times are tough, we can go to him and experience a sense of safety, of protection from the storm. We may not literally be delivered from our troubles – David certainly wasn’t – but we will know that God is with us through them.
Again, David says, it’s like being nourished by the best food and drink, with a feast that never ends and a river of cool, fresh water to drink from. Jesus talks about the same reality when he says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Jesus is our soul food, and it’s not just chicken soup for the soul, either: it’s a three-course meal of the most delicious food imaginable.

Again, David says, it’s like shining a bright light into a dark place and seeing things as they really are. When we don’t have God in our lives, we can get really confused about what’s important and what’s not important, about what’s good and what’s bad. But when we turn to God and his way, his presence is like a bright light, and suddenly we can look at our life and see things as they really are. As David puts it, ‘In your light we see light’ (v.9).

These are the bright colours of the love of God that David paints for us in the foreground of his picture. I wonder if you’ve experienced these bright colours in your life? I wonder if you’ve begun to discover the wonder of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, and I wonder if you’ve tasted of the goodness of God and thought, “This is the best thing life has to offer! Nothing else matches up to this!”

But as we said at the beginning, the bright colours aren’t the whole story. They are set against a dark background – the fact that not everyone sees what David sees. Verse 1 says,
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts;
there is no fear of God before their eyes.

The word ‘transgression’ is one way of describing ‘sin’; to transgress a law is to break it, so sin is seen here as breaking God’s law. ‘Sin speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts’ – and not just to the wicked, of course, but to all of us! David is describing an experience I have every day, when a voice inside me points out how attractive it would be if I would just cut loose and do what I want to do, instead of what God wants me to do! We call this ‘temptation’: the voice of evil calling us, singing a siren song to lure us away from the way of God.

The wicked listen to the voice of sin in their hearts; ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’, says David, and so they really do believe that there is no one watching what they do. Verse 2 says that ‘they flatter themselves in their own eyes that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated’. And this has consequences for the way they live, as verses 3-4 point out to us. Here they are in the New Living Translation, which is especially vivid:
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.

So – we have these two strongly contrasted ways of seeing reality, the bright colours of God’s steadfast love and goodness, and the darkness of those who don’t seem to see it, but hear only the voice of sin calling them in their hearts. What makes the difference? Simply this, says David: for the wicked, ‘there is no fear of God before their eyes’ (v.1). It seems strange, after we’ve been celebrating the love and faithfulness of God, to find that it’s the fear of God that makes the difference! What on earth does that mean?

Well, it means that we remember this: even if no one else is watching us, God is always watching us, and God is always pleased when he sees people turning away from evil and doing what is right and good. God is not just pleased by this: God is thrilled all the way down to his socks, just as we are when we’re bringing up our kids and we see them finally getting the hang of the things we’re trying to teach them. Those of you who are parents, do you know how that feels? Don’t you cheer and shout and say “Good job, buddy!” when your child learns that lesson? And that’s how God feels when he sees us, his children, learning to turn from evil and do good, even when no one else is looking.

And of course there’s another side of that too: the disappointment of God when we choose not to follow his ways. We don’t want to disappoint God, because he’s our wise and loving Father. And so we learn to walk in the fear of the Lord – that is to say, we’ve made the decision that losing the sense of his pleasure in us is the worst possible experience we can have, and we’re determined to avoid it. So we intentionally remind ourselves every day that we are walking in the sight of a just and holy and compassionate God who wants us to walk with justice and compassion, even when no one else is looking.

So the psalm sets before us this contrast between the bright colours of God’s love for us, and the deep darkness of the life of wickedness, where we listen to sin speaking to us in our hearts and we choose to turn away from God. It’s not always easy to make the right choice, but we pray for strength to make it anyway. And we hold the fear of God before our eyes: we remember the sense of joy we get from the presence of God, and that dull, painful sense of guilt when we realise that we’ve turned away from his path, and the sunshine of his love seems to have gone dim.

So let me invite you again, as I finish this morning, to remember and celebrate the wonder of God’s steadfast love for you. Come and take refuge in the safe place under his wings! Experience the nourishment that Jesus, the Bread of life, wants to bring into your life every day. And let the light of God shine in the darkness to help you see reality as it really is. In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Light of the World Has Come (a sermon on Isaiah 60:1-6)


The desire to be included is a natural part of our makeup as human beings. You sometimes see it in family gatherings when a new member has been added by marriage; the new person hovers around the edge of the conversation, trying to make sense of the ‘in’ jokes and understand the family customs. Some families are very good at including newcomers; they have their unofficial ‘gatekeepers’ who explain the customs and traditions, and they reach out and welcome the new member. Other families aren’t so good at this. Most of them aren’t being malicious, they just never think of what it feels like to be on the edge of the family circle. Some churches are like this too – people find it hard to get into them because they don’t find a welcome and a way of learning what the congregation’s customs and traditions are all about. Other congregations have given careful thought to this and have developed effective ways of welcoming and including newcomers.

The Feast of Epiphany, which we are celebrating today, is all about outsiders being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. The Wise Men, or Magi, were astrologers from the east. They were not Jewish and were unfamiliar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Matthew is the most Jewish of the four Gospels, but he is the one who tells the story of how these Gentiles were summoned by God to greet the birth of the one born to be King of the Jews. Apparently the God of Israel wants to reach out to outsiders. He doesn’t only welcome them when they happen to stumble in – he sends an invitation to them, in language that astrologers can understand – a star in the heavens.

By the time Matthew wrote this story, Christian missionaries were carrying the Gospel all over the Mediterranean world, and Gentiles were flooding into the Church of Jesus Christ. For Matthew, the wise men are a symbol of this later Christian mission beyond the borders of God’s chosen people. Jesus is not just the light of his own people; the light of the world has come among us.

But to anyone who was familiar with the Scriptures this would not be a surprise. It’s a common theme in the prophets: when God restores the fortunes of his people in the Messianic age, foreign nations will come to be included in the blessing. This is very clear in our Old Testament reading for today, Isaiah 60:1-6:
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Let’s look at this passage under two headings: first, the light has come, and second, the light draws people in.

First, the light has come. In human communities, two powerful symbols of anger are, first, walking out, and second, banishment. When people are angry at what is happening in a meeting, when they want to completely disassociate themselves from what is going on there, they sometimes walk out in protest. Banishment, when a community sends offenders away in penalty for their crimes, is also a powerful symbol of the community’s displeasure. It is especially powerful in cultures with a strong sense of community identity, such as First Nations communities..

Both of these illustrations are used in the Bible to explain the disaster that happened to Jerusalem in 597 BC when the Babylonian armies sacked the city and took the leaders and literate folk off into exile. The prophets explained that God had in fact ‘walked out’ on his people because of their persistent refusal to obey him; it was this departure of God from among them, said the prophets, that led to their defeat and exile. And then the people were banished from their own land, just like Adam and Eve being ejected from the garden because of their sin.

Given these ideas, how would the people know that God had forgiven their sins? The answer was obvious – if God returned to Jerusalem, and brought his people back there, they would know he had forgiven them. We can see promises of both these things in today’s passage.

First, in today’s passage God is seen as returning to his people like the sun rising after a dark night. Jerusalem is a city built on a hill, with other hills around it. As you may know, in the Mediterranean world sunrise and sunset are very quick; it can be very dark one moment, and then light the next. In Old Testament times the white buildings of the Temple were high up in the city; the sun would shine first on them, and then later on the lower parts of the city. So for a time it would still be pitch dark in the lower quarters, but bright up in the Temple and the buildings around it. It’s possible that Isaiah has this picture in his mind when he talks about the contrast between darkness and light in verses 1-2:
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.

Then in verse 4 we read about the return of God’s people from exile:
Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

Now the interesting thing to me is that many modern biblical scholars think Isaiah chapter 60 was written after many of the Jewish people returned from their Babylonian exile. Why would our author prophesy these things as still in the future? I think it was because the return had not fulfilled all their hopes. Life in Jerusalem was very hard, and many people had in fact elected not to return at all. So the prophet looked forward to a further visitation from God, which would bring about a true return from the community’s spiritual exile in sin.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is described as ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God is with us’. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God came to his people as never before; he was present as a human being and lived among them. Through his life, death and resurrection, God was acting powerfully to forgive our sins and bring us home from our spiritual exile into the life of God’s family. It is no accident that Matthew records that the wise men were drawn to Jesus by the light of a star – or that Jesus calls himself ‘the light of the world’. In Jesus Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled – God comes to live among his people like a great light. Even today, when we no longer see him physically, the prophecy is still fulfilled, because he promised us that he would be with us always, to the end of the age.

Think back for a moment to the picture of sunrise in Jerusalem, with the lower city still in darkness but the upper city in the light. It would of course be possible to move into the light, by simply climbing a little higher!

We can make this move from darkness to light in a spiritual sense as well. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). If we follow Jesus there is no need for us to stay in darkness; we can have the light of life. This is God’s invitation to us this morning – to follow Jesus, to trust him, to build our lives around his teaching, to look to him for help each day. This is what it means to ‘walk in the light’.

So we’ve seen that in Jesus, the light of the world has come. The second thing this passage tells us is that the light draws people in. In Dennis Bennett’s book Nine O’clock in the Morning he tells of his wife Elberta’s comment when she first met some Christians who had experienced God’s Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way. She said, “I don’t know what these people have, but I want it!” True Christianity has always had this compelling attractiveness too it. People are drawn by the sense of the presence of God.

The Old Testament scriptures tell us that when God returns to his people and restores their fortunes, it will not just be for their benefit but for others as well. In Isaiah chapter 2 we read these words:
In the days to come
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths’.
We can see the same theme in our passage for today, in verses 2 and 3: ‘but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawning’. Instead of the nations coming as conquerors over Israel, they will come humbly, to honour Israel and to learn from Israel’s God. It will not just be Israel attracting them, but her God.

This prophecy was never fulfilled in a literal way in the history of Israel. However, the New Testament writers see the Church of Jesus as a major fulfilment of this prophecy. The wise men who came to Jesus were the first of millions of Gentiles who have come streaming to Israel’s God as he has been revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus. Thomas Cahill has written a fascinating book called The Gifts of the Jews, in which he documents all the Jewish ideas which have been adopted into mainstream culture and are now widely accepted. Many of them have been accepted through Christianity, and so it can be said that in a true sense Judaism has been a blessing to the world through Christianity. The idea of one Creator God rather than many gods – the gift of the Ten Commandments – the idea that time moves in a line rather than being circular – in these and many ways Christianity has taken Jewish ideas and presented them to the whole world. In Jesus, Judaism has been fulfilled, and his light has drawn the Gentiles to faith in Israel’s God.

That movement has not ended today. Today, still, we need to remember that the light of Christ was not given to us just for ourselves, but to share with others. As we truly follow him and pattern our lives after his teaching, others will see his light in us. It’s up to us to tell them where that light comes from and to love them into his kingdom.

Let me close by reminding you of the two ways that Jesus uses the symbolism of light in his teaching.

First, as we’ve seen today, he says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy; in him, God comes to live among us as a light. As we follow him, we do not walk in darkness, but we have the light of life.

But there’s a second way Jesus uses this symbolism as well. In Matthew 5:14 he says to us his followers, “You are the light of the world”. You and me – flawed, imperfect disciples as we are – we have taken over the job of the star of Bethlehem! Like the wise men, there are many people today who are on a journey to find Jesus, whether they know it or not. They are looking for spiritual reality. They are hungry for God. It’s your job, and mine, to draw them to the place where Christ can be found. So, as Jesus says, ‘let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).

Friday, January 4, 2013

January 2013


THE MONTH AT A GLANCE:
Fri. 4th: 3.00 p.m.: Corporation Meeting (Bogani Café).
Sun. 6th (Epiphany):
·      Holy Communion at 9.00 and 10.30 a.m. with coffee hour between the services.
·      ‘Sundays@4’ Worship Service at 4.00 p.m.
Thurs. 10th:
·      7 a.m. Men’s/Women’s Bible Study (Bogani).
·      2 p.m. Women’s Bible Study (Marg Rys’ home - 3404-114 St.)
Sat. 12th 10:30 a.m.: Making sandwiches for the Bissell Centre (church)
Sun. 13th (Baptism of the Lord):
·      Team serving lunch at Bissell Centre (a.m.)
·      Holy Communion at 9.00 and 10.30 a.m.
·      ‘Sundays@4’ Holy Communion 4.00 p.m.
Tue. 15th: 11:15 a.m. Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Wed. 16th: 7.15 p.m. Vestry Meeting (church).
Thurs. 17th:
·      7 a.m. Men’s/Women’s Bible Study (Bogani).
·      2 p.m. Women’s Bible Study (Marg Rys’ home - 3404-114 St.)
Sun. 20th (2nd Sunday after Epiphany):
·      Holy Communion at 9.00 and 10.30 a.m. with coffee hour between the services.
·      ‘Sundays@4’ Worship Service at 4.00 p.m.
Thurs. 24th:
·      7 a.m. Men’s/Women’s Bible Study (Bogani).
·      11.15 a.m. ‘The Lunch Bunch’ (formerly the Seniors’ Lunch) at the church (see below).
·      2 p.m. Women’s Bible Study (Marg Rys’ home - 3404-114 St.)
·      7 p.m. Planning & Building Cttee (church)
Sat. 26th: 3.30 – 5.30 p.m. ‘Spaghetti Church’
Sun. 27th (3rd Sunday after Epiphany:
·      9.00 a.m. Holy Communion
·      10.30 a.m. Morning Worship
·      4.00 p.m. ‘Sundays@4’ Holy Communion.
Thurs. 31st:
·      7 a.m. Men’s/Women’s Bible Study (Bogani).
·      Tim away at Clergy Day 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
·      2 p.m. Women’s Bible Study (Marg Rys’ home - 3404-114 St.)
Fri. Feb. 1st/Sat. Feb. 2nd: Christian Basics Course (7.30 – 9.30 Fri., 9.30 – 4.30 Sat.) (church)


Note:
·      Tim Chesterton’s days off are every Monday, and two Saturdays per month.
·      Jennifer ffolliott-Oujla works Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. – noon. Jen does not work Sundays, so please do not ask her to!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
We are very pleased that Bishop Jane has sent us the Rev. Susan Ormsbee to help out as Honorary Deacon Assistant at St. Margaret’s. Susan is en route to ordination as a priest and will be attached to our parish approximately half-time for a few months until she has a permanent parish appointment. She will be assisting mainly with pastoral care, along with some Sunday worship duties.

ST. MARGARET’S EVENTS
Starting this Month: Sundays@4! This is a new service at St. Margaret’s; it will be about 60 minutes long and will be followed by a light soup and sandwich supper. It will follow the basic outline of our Anglican liturgy but will be less formal and very family-oriented, and will experiment with creative ways of exploring Christian teaching for adults and for children.

Note: we’re currently looking for volunteers to help with this service, especially Sunday School teachers and musicians. We’re also looking or folks to be the ‘seed’ of this new service and to invite new people to come and try us out. Talk to Tim if you’d like to join the team! See our website at http://sundaysatfour.blogspot.ca.

Bissell Centre. Our parish will be assisting with the lunch at the Bissell Centre on Sunday January 13th. There are signup sheets on the table in the foyer for food and financial donations and also for assistance in both Saturday sandwich making (January 12th 10.30 a.m.) and Sunday lunch serving. For more information please contact Maggie Woytkiw at 780-434-0311.

‘The Lunch Bunch’ Thursday Jan. 24th 11.30 a.m. After lunch Tim will show slides of the time he and Marci and the family spent in the Diocese of the Arctic 1984-91. Signup sheets coming soon!
Spaghetti Church Saturday Jan. 26th 3.30 – 5.30 p.m. This special time for families includes crafts, songs, Bible story, prayer and spaghetti! Signup sheets will be coming soon. For more information contact the Church Office.

Stewardship Pledge Forms. Have you returned your stewardship pledge forms for 2013? Please note that this is a vital year for us to know how much we can expect to receive from our members, as we have to make decisions about the viability of our building project. Whether you feel you can give a little or a lot, please let us know as soon as possible how much you hope to give in 2013, so that we can plan accordingly.

LOOKING AHEAD:
Christian Basics. This is a ground-level course in the essentials of Christian faith and life (‘Christianity 101’), and is recommended for parents who wish to have their children baptized, adult baptismal candidates, new members of our church, people looking into the Christian faith, and long-time churchgoers in need of a refresher course. It will run Fri. Feb. 1st (7.30 – 9.30 p.m.) and Sat. Feb. 2nd (9.30 – 4.30). Signup sheets will be out soon, or contact Tim Chesterton (stmrector@gmail.com or 780-437-7231) to register.

Annual General Meeting 2013. At present we are conducting a survey as to whether Sunday after church or a weeknight is better for our AGM. We will wrap this up in mid-January and will let you know the results as soon as possible!

Lent Course 2013: ‘The Story the Bible Tells’
Many Christians are familiar with individual stories of the Bible, but don’t quite know where to ‘hang’ them on the big ‘Story the Bible Tells’. This course is designed to give you an overview of the sweep of biblical history from Genesis to Revelation, and will also focus in on some individual stories within that big story.

The course will be held on the Thursdays of Lent; however it will not start on the first Thursday as this is Valentine’s Day! The dates and themes are as follows:
·      Thursday Feb. 21st: ‘From Abraham to Joshua’.
·      Thursday Feb. 28th: ‘From Joshua to the Exile’
·      Thursday Mar. 7th: ‘From the Exile to John the Baptist’
·      Thursday Mar. 14th: ‘The New Testament Story’
·      Thursday Mar. 21st: ‘Reading the Bible Today’.
Watch for signup sheets for this course in late January!

BEYOND OUR PARISH:
Vital Church Planting Conference 2013: ‘Being Disciples’ (Feb. 5th-7th at the Matrix Hotel, Edmonton).
Discipleship is what Jesus calls us to do: to be disciples, and to make new disciples. Vital Church Planting Conference 2013 is all about discipleship. Bishop Graham Cray (‘Being Culturally Relevant’) and other interesting speakers will offer talks and workshops on Being Disciples and Making Disciples.

Visit www.edmonton.anglican.org/vital-church for information and registration.

FINAL WORD:
This year we changed our Christmas Eve service pattern. We moved our 7.00 service to 4.00 and added an informal children’s play, plus birthday cake for Jesus and hot chocolate. We also moved our Candlelight Service from 11.00 to 9.30 p.m. We had an overall increase in attendance of 40% on Christmas Eve, so the moves were obviously successful! Thanks for all who helped out and for all who adjusted their Christmas Eve schedules to participate.

Also a big ‘well done!’ to everyone for a great year of fundraising for World Vision’s efforts to alleviate the famine in the Horn of Africa. As of December 31st the total stood at $18,983.35, and an anonymous donor from our parish has agreed to top it up to $20,000.

Let’s keep following our Lord Jesus Christ into 2013!

January 7th, 2013 -13th, 2013


Weekly Calendar

January 7th, 2013
Office is closed.
January 8th, 2013
12 – 2:30 Deanery Meeting
January 10th, 2013
7:00 am Men and Women’s Morning Bible Study at the
Bogani Café.
2:00 pm  Women’s Bible Study at M. Rys home
January 13th, 2013
9:00 am Holy Communion
10:30 am Holy Communion with Sunday School
4:00 pm  Sundays@ 4  Holy Communion with Sunday School   (New Service!!!!)