High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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  Date: Sunday, January 07, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 13 mins 19 secs    
Passage: Isaiah 60:1-6 & Mark 1:9-12    
  Description: Arise shine, YOUR light has come. On this Epiphany Sunday, it’s like the words of Isaiah are saying to us Christians: “OK, you have passed through Advent and lit the candles of hope, peace, joy and love in anticipation of the celebrated birth of Jesus. You have gathered on Christmas Eve and lit more candles and proclaimed the light of God that even the darkness cannot put out. you have gathered around the manger and pondered the mystery of God’s incarnation—of being born—in the baby Jesus and how amazing that is remembering of course that it’s the tradition’s way of inviting you to be aware that you are also the embodiment of God’s presence—the hands and feet of Christ. Then, if your household is like mine, we collapsed into the week between Christmas and New Years—perhaps still frantically working the kitchen, cleaning, travelling, eating and drinking, enjoying family time. And then we land on Epiphany with Isaiah’s words. It’s as if the prophet is wondering, “OK you have done all that. Now what are you going to do about it? Arise, shine, YOUR light has come. The glory of the LORD has risen upon you…. Lift up your eyes, look around..... While this is an awesome text post Christmas. I think it would be even more fun to read on Groundhog Day imagining the returning spring light as we drift out of winter’s hibernation. But let’s not get too far from the point. I believe that Isaiah’s words are intended to help us bask in God’s light of hope and promise and vision. Our light has come. The Prophet’s invitation is to lift up our eyes and look around. This is especially significant for our congregation. We have weathered the past 5 years of our own version of exile and return post disaster. We have suffered emotional losses, material losses, human losses and physical losses to be sure. We are finding our way home to a new kind of normalcy how ever we understand that and now, in this season of Epiphany—the season when the tradition remembers and points to God’s revelation in the newborn Christ—we enter God’s light arising and shining upon us. It’s the time when we move more deeply and intentionally into our spiritual identity as God’s people living our faith and compassion in community as a congregation. It’s the time when we own what we say and do, proclaim it, and reconstitute ourselves for a life in mission and ministry together.
  Date: Sunday, December 31, 2017       Teacher: Guest Worship Leaders     Duration: 12 mins 24 secs    
Passage: Psalms 126 & Proverbs 15:13-30    
  Description: Guest preacher: Celia Penman talks about a new year's resolution of smiling!
  Date: Sunday, December 24, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 12 mins 5 secs    
Passage: Matthew 1:18-25 & Luke 2:1-20    
  Series Advent 2017
  Description: Rev. David speaks of the need for quiet space on Christmas Eve to reflect on our faith.
  Date: Sunday, December 24, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 9 mins 17 secs    
Passage: Matthew 1:18-25 & Luke 2:1-20    
  Series Advent 2017
  Description: So why do we bother? Why do we come to church on Christmas Eve, or any other day of the year? When we could be snuggled up at home, or feasting with family, or reading a good book, or enjoying a favourite Christmas movie? Yet, here we are – gathered on this sacred night to worship. We are unique in some ways. Many in our society have abandoned the Christ in Christmas, and still celebrate with gift-giving and parties, and big meals with family and friends. The sparkling lights of many colours decorating homes, streets and businesses are a delight in this season. News comes from friends and family far away in Christmas cards. A shopping frenzy marks the last weeks before Christmas. But, more and more, there is no sign of Jesus in any of these – not on the Christmas cards available for purchase or in the stories told around the season. Some of this is good, in that it recognizes that there are many faiths and many festivals of light celebrated in our country. Hanukkah, the Jewish festival was celebrated from December 12 to 20 this year. Diwali, the Hindu and Sikh festival of lights, was celebrated in October. Kwanzaa is celebrated by African-Americans for eight days, starting December 26. At the beginning of this month, our Muslim neighbours celebrated Eid-e-Milad, the birthday of the prophet Mohammed. So, some of the reason that we don’t see Jesus in all of the celebrations is simply that other faiths are celebrating their reasons for the season. And that diversity adds to the richness of spirituality in this country. But more and more, Christmas is becoming a secular holiday, devoid of faith and the story of Jesus’ birth. People happily put up trees, count down with Advent calendars, and buy gifts at this time of year, as something quite separate from what we do here this evening. So why do we bother? We bother because there is something profound, something mystical, something for which our spirits yearn, found in the story of Jesus. In a barn, some 2,000 years ago, a child was born, who was named, “God with us.” And in this child we find something that the world can not offer us. We find hope that transcends tragedy, peace that transcends chaos, joy that transcends grief, and love that transcends the judgement of the world.
  Date: Sunday, December 17, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 10 mins 45 secs    
Passage: Isaiah 55:1-13 & Matthew 1:1-12    
  Series Advent 2017
  Description: Overwhelmed with joy! That’s how the gospel describes the feeling of the wisemen, when the star guides them right to the house in Bethlehem where they find the child named Jesus. Overwhelmed with joy! Can you think of a moment in your life when you have felt overwhelmed with joy? It is not an every day thing. It is something extraordinary, something more than could be imagined. It is a moment when there is a smile on your face and tears running down your cheeks; a moment when all seems right with the world, even if chaos is all around you. It comes unexpectedly; it is never anticipated or planned or managed. It is a moment that takes your breath away. That’s what it is to be overwhelmed with joy. Our society speaks freely of happiness. Happiness can be an every day thing. I feel happy when I’ve accomplished some work or found an item (on sale!) that I had been searching for in the store. But joy is something so much more. Joy comes even in the midst of sorrow. Joy is not confined to times when life has gone perfectly or easily. In fact, joy often follows a time of challenge or struggle. That’s what it was for these wiseones.
  Date: Sunday, December 03, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 19 mins 22 secs    
Passage: 1 Timothy 6:7-19 & Luke 1:39-56    
  Series Advent 2017
  Description: Perhaps you have noticed that the light in the front entry way to our church is left on 24 hours. Early in the building phase of this facility a decision was made to keep the light on as a beacon of hope for our town and the world. The light shines because we are people of light and hope following in the way and wisdom of Jesus Christ. Our mission clearly states that our church a community of help, home, and hope. The letter of 1 Timothy helps us think about what that means even more. But first, lest we be distracted by one thing, let’s get that out of the way. The writer of 1 Timothy makes it clear that money is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil. It is the love of money and riches that leads to the entrapment of senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction and causes them to be pierced by many pains. Wow. So, let’s be sure we’ve got that. The second thing that we need to clarify is that 1 Timothy wants us to understand that because we are rich (and let’s just assume that by the world’s standards we are all rich) we are commanded not to be haughty or to set our hope on the uncertainty of riches but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. We are to be rich in our good works, generous and ready to share… So where does this wisdom invite us to place our hope? On our riches? Or in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment, our good works, and our practice of generosity? There is only one correct answer here. Our hope is God, the one who provides richly for us—the one who is the source of wisdom, the one who inspires hope. When we share generously, we rest our hope in God.
  Date: Sunday, November 26, 2017       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 24 mins 23 secs    
Passage: Psalms 104:1-24    
  Description: A conversation between Rev. David & Rev. Susan about honouring God as the higher power in our lives, why we believe in God, and how science points us in that direction. We bless you today, o God, for you are great beyond imagining. You are clothed with honour and majesty, wrapped in light as a garment, draped in the beautiful deep darkness of space. Your love wraps the earth, underlying all that is. You do not intervene and interrupt the free will you gave us; yet you are always offering the influence & wisdom of your love. You, who are divine, invite us, who are human, to be partners in the mending and tending and repair of this earth. We bless you today, o God, for you are great beyond imagining, and yet, you love and know us, comfort and care for us, calling us to the Way of Jesus, for the healing of lives and planet. You, o God, are our higher power, the greatest gift of all. Amen.
  Date: Sunday, November 19, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 21 mins 4 secs    
Passage: Deuteronomy 5:12-15    
  Description: At the time when God was giving the Torah to Israel, He said to them: My children! if you accept the Torah and observe my mitzvot [commandments], I will give you for all eternity a thing most precious that I have in my possession. --And what, asked Israel, is that precious thing which Thou wilt give us if we obey Thy Torah? --The world to come. --Show us in this world an example of the world to come --The Sabbath is an example of the world to come (A. Heschel, The Sabbath, p. 73). Upon hearing this Jewish legend, I imagine all of Israel voicing, “Ah… I see”. But I wonder, is it the same with us? Do we imagine Sabbath as an example of the world to come—the most precious possession that God is willing to give to us for all of eternity? Over the last several weeks we’ve been exploring the various expressions and examples of Sabbath. This week the rubber hits the road. We come face to face with the tradition and the significance of Sabbath as the fourth of the 10 commandments, which is interesting in and of it’s self because, the Sabbath rests right in the middle; at the heart of the 10 commandments. It’s not the fourth most important, it is located literally next to center. Sabbath is a defining practice situated in the very heart of the Torah. We should take notice of that, I think.
  Date: Sunday, November 12, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 12 mins 32 secs    
  Description: I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am passionate about living the Way that Jesus taught, finding ways to love neighbours and those perceived as enemies, welcoming strangers and deepening my love for God. I am committed to following the Way of Jesus day by day, and letting that sink deeper and deeper into who I am, transforming me, and hopefully transforming the world. I am passionate and committed to the Good News of Jesus Christ ---and that can be exhausting. For you, for me – all of us committed in our love for Jesus and his Way. Therefore, I hereby give you permission to delight, to play, to enjoy life! Think about it – how often do we promise ourselves that we will do something we really enjoy, once we have our work done. And then, the list is usually so long, that we never get to that part. We just keep working and working. We create a wonderful meal, a beautiful event, put our whole hearts in, and then we go on to the next thing on the list, never delighting in what has been. Now, I’m not against hard work. I know that it is necessary. But the truth is that we need a balance of work and play. That is the wisdom of the book of Ecclesiastes with which we started our fall season. What I see in our society is that we are working harder and longer hours. I see this happening with our children as well. Lunch time and recesses are getting shorter in some schools. After school is filled with homework and activities. Weekends have their schedules. And all of this is work, not play. It might be enjoyable for some, but it is not play. Let me explain. We need play for our emotional and spiritual well-being. We need play to process what we have learned and experienced. We need to play in times of joy and times of sorrow. What do I mean by play, you’re wondering? Play is not outcome based. It does not have purpose or goals set for it. It is not structured, though it does happen in a way that no one will get hurt (emotionally or physically). Play is not for real. It is engaging and spontaneous. It can not be taught. It does not have consequences. It is a time to explore and wonder and try out possibilities.
  Date: Sunday, November 05, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 16 mins 32 secs    
Passage: Isaiah 43:16-21 & John 14:15-27    
  Description: Susan and I sat in silence as the sun set over the Okavango Delta, in northern Botswana. We watched as giraffes, elephants, zebra, jackals and ostriches came to the water’s edge having migrated through the hot and arid Kalahari to the place where the water flows like rivers in the desert—quenching thirst, soothing parched lips, easing the anxiety of survival. Fed by the hills of northern Angola, the Okavango flood waters reach the desert sands of the Kalahari in dry season, providing the exhausted creatures the spa-like qualities of an inland delta. Here the wild animals honour their creator, and we mere mortals can scarcely take it in. The dangerous toll of the migration is past. The long trek to water is over. The young frolic, the old ones rest, those on watch close one eye in the presence of refreshing newness. There is no consideration of what is past. Newness springs forth. There is quite simply, the full presence and blessing of the moment—a natural sense of gratitude. And we humans, privy to the miracle of what we witness, having dipped our cup in the pure waters of the delta, declare praise for our maker. If there ever was a place on earth that captures the imagination of the prophet Isaiah, I would cast my vote for the Okavango. In the context of such natural wonder, one cannot help but seize the essence of God’s new thing and the spaciousness to perceive it.

 

 


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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

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