High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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  Date: Sunday, May 28, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 21 mins 53 secs    
Passage: Luke 7:24-35    
  Description: So what is Jesus offering when he speaks of complete joy….Relationship is at the heart of what Jesus is offering – that is why he was accused of being a drunkard and glutton. He was spending so much time sitting down at the table with everyone and anyone that it was held against him. But it really wasn’t about drinking too much and eating too much – though I’m sure Jesus enjoyed the meal. Eating at someone’s table was (and still is) the key way of forming relationship in Middle Eastern Jewish culture. Jesus wasn’t there to eat and drink. He was there to form a relationship, a deep connection, with the people with whom he sat at table. He was there to let God’s love and compassion flow through him – to the tax-collectors & sinners – that’s everyone! When Jesus invites us into his complete joy, he is inviting us into relationship – a deepening relationship with God, a deepening relationship with the Way that Jesus taught us to live, a deepening relationship within this church community, a deepening relationship with family and friends, with strangers and enemies. It is in our relationships with God, with Jesus, with each other, and with unexpected people along the way that we will find the joy of which Jesus spoke. Now every relationship doesn’t bring happiness, and eating and drinking too much and other addictions get in the way of good and healthy relationships with ourselves and with others. That’s why Jesus invites us into something that is more than pursuing happiness. He invites us into a relationship with God and with each other in which we share in each others joys and sorrows, in which we dance together in celebration, and weep together in grief. Such relationships take time – we need time together with God in daily prayer and reading scripture and worshipping together. We need time with each other. The ironic thing is that our culture’s focus on the pursuit of happiness & success takes us away from each other. The pursuit of happiness breaks down relationship. We have less time than ever for having meals together, just sitting at table together in conversation & getting to know each other’s joys & sorrows. We are an exhausted culture, a weary culture – always pursuing, never finding that elusive “happiness.”
  Date: Sunday, May 21, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 16 mins 1 sec    
Passage: Luke 19:1-10    
  Description: Common wisdom says that the loftier one’s position in a corrupt system, the greater one’s complicity in that system. Our dear friend Zacchaeus was high up in the Roman government’s corrupt taxation system. Luke’s gospel makes a point of that. He was a chief tax collector and, he was rich. Zacchaeus was caught between his private religious practice and his public profiting and participation in a tax system that dealt crushing blows to other people… many of whom I assume would be members of his synagogue. But he too, says Jesus, is a child of Abraham. Zacchaeus hears that Jesus is passing through Jericho. Wanting to see who Jesus was, Zacchaeus leaves his office, runs ahead of the crowd, and climbs up a sycamore tree. Turns out, he was short in stature. I have a soft spot for Zacchaeus even though most of his neighbours did not. You see, he had somehow heard of Jesus and in the middle of that, something was evoked in him which moved him to take the actions he took. We’ll never really know. What we can assume though, is that Zacchaeus was in pursuit of something that compelled him to climb the tree. So Jesus passes by and sees Zacchaeus up the tree. Perhaps Jesus has been tipped off by his network and knows who this guy is. Perhaps not. Perhaps his intuition is giving him a vibe that this guy needs salvation… which means healing, made well or, made whole. Jesus eyeballs Zacchaeus and tells him to get down from the tree because he’s coming to stay at his house today. Imagine that. Jesus bridges right over Zacchaeus’ public situation and goes straight to the matter of creating room for salvation. Standing there, in the presence of God’s truth and wisdom, Zacchaeus makes amends right away—half his possessions he will give to the poor, and a four times payment will be made to anyone that he has defrauded. In the process of being made whole or, made well, God’s salvation brings restitution for those harmed by corruption, establishes health and well-being in the community, and restores Zacchaeus’ relationship with the synagogue through the making of appropriate amends as outlined by the Torah.
  Date: Sunday, May 14, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 16 mins 48 secs    
Passage: Luke 14:1-24    
  Description: There are no Hollywood stars or Disney princesses or NHL all-stars at the head of Jesus’ table. There are no place cards making sure that those with the most money, the most talent or the most influence are sitting in the choice spots. There is no head table for the guests of honour. As the apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, there is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for we are all one in Christ. That’s the point that Jesus made in the story he told at the home of Pharisee, where he had been invited to eat the Sabbath meal. Jesus had just healed a man with dropsy (or swelling of the soft tissues of the body). Great, we might think. Jesus healed the man and the man could now go and enjoy life more. But technically healing would be work, and one didn’t work on the sabbath – so as Jesus enters the Pharisee’s home there is already a debate going on around him about whether he has broken the law. But that doesn’t stop Jesus. He wasn’t one to refrain from causing chaos and dispute. So when he sees that people are jockeying to get the best seats at the table – the seats where they will be most noticed, be closest to the host, and get served first, Jesus dives right in with another challenge to conventional thinking. As people are trying to inch their way toward the good seats, he loudly pronounces, “When you are invited to a banquet, do not sit down in the place of honour or try to distinguish yourself. Take the lowest place – and let the host move you to the best place if the host so chooses.”
  Date: Sunday, May 07, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 14 mins 33 secs    
  Description: I have the fondest memories of eating with friends at their place. I notice how I relax into their presence knowing that all I have to do is enjoy the food, the conversation, and the relationship. Food is glorious and seems to taste even better when cooked by someone else. It gives rise to so many occasions that tend to the well-being of our body, mind and spirit. It's no wonder then, that food plays such a central role in the Bible. Food is mentioned all over the place—from the feast on God’s holy mountain, to references of dates and pomegranates, to eating with tax collectors and sinners, to simple suppers of bread and fish which as it turns out, feeds the masses. The Bible is full of stories that connect food with healing and compassion, love and intimacy, neighbours and friends. In today’s readings from Luke and 1 John there are two imperatives that surface for me. In Luke’s story about bread and fish, the imperative is to provide. In the letter of 1 John the imperative is to love. Both imperatives are rooted in the heart of God. There is a common wisdom that says food tastes extra special when it is prepared in love. The words from each of the readings today are embraced by love that is expressed through compassionate acts of provision and kindness. As I sit with today’s readings, I realize again that the best expression of the Christian faith is when we share our resources, when we make sacrificial gestures of generosity in order to ensure the well-being of one another and the community around us.
  Date: Sunday, April 30, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 22 mins 37 secs    
  Description: Guess who’s coming to dinner? That’s going to be our theme for worship this spring and, yes, I borrowed it from the 1967 movie. When Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released on December 11, 1967 it caused shock waves. A white woman brings home her fiancé to introduce to her parents. As open and accepting as they thought they were, the parents struggle when the fiancé walks through the door. He is African-American (played by Sidney Poitier) – and in the 60’s (even 70’s) it was still hard for people to get their minds around the idea of marriage between blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, Jewish and Christian. While we, in 2017, might chuckle at how that was possible, at how that was shocking, the reality is that we have our own versions of the same dividing lines that we find hard to cross. And, it seems that that is an age-old struggle because Jesus told one of his parables just about this kind of situation, the parable of the good Samaritan. We’ve used this parable several times this year, because I think it really speaks to what we need to be about as followers of Jesus in our time and context. This was a hard-hitting parable for those who first heard it from Jesus. They would have been as shocked by his words as were people in 1967 when the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was released showing a successful inter-racial marriage and the first inter-racial kiss on screen (even though it was seen only through a rear-view mirror image). Why was the parable of the Good Samaritan shocking? We’ve lost the cultural sense of this parable. It’s been made into a nice parable about a good neighbour and used to remind us that we should not be like those bad, bad people who crossed the road and ignored the injured fellow. We have “Good Samaritan” legislation in most provinces of Canada that protects passers-by who stop to help. It is all very nice and good when we talk about the Good Samaritan. But, those listening to Jesus tell this parable would have been very uncomfortable by the time he finished, squirming in their seats, not totally sure about how to take his words. The young lawyer (a student of Jewish law) got more than he bargained for in the answer Jesus gave. He and Jesus had agreed that the greatest commandment was “Love God, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.” Then, in good Jewish scholarly debate fashion, the young lawyer asked Jesus the question that would bring nuance and understanding. “Who is my neighbour?” Good question. If I am to love my neighbour, then I need to know who my neighbour is. If I have the definition clear in my mind, then I can judge which people I have to love and which ones I can disregard. But Jesus turns the tables on the young lawyer by telling this parable, and concluding with the words, “Go be the neighbour.” Be the neighbour.
  Date: Sunday, April 23, 2017       Teacher: Bob Gibennus     Duration: 21 mins 41 secs    
  Description: Guest preacher: Bob Gibennus
  Date: Sunday, April 16, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 22 mins 14 secs    
  Description: Jesus the master says, “Go yonder angel and fetch a long white robe, a pair of shoes and a golden waistband. Place the shoes on my servant’s feet and place the golden waist band upon my servant’s waist”. Then to the servant, Jesus says “sit down”. But I can’t sit down. My soul’s so happy that I can’t sit down! After years of hard labour, Jesus meets the slave and commands the them to sit down, put their feet up, enjoy new shoes, enjoy a golden waistband (which were unattainable luxuries), sit down and rest. But the labourer can’t. My soul’s so happy that I can’t sit down!” This seems so apt for Easter Sunday. Because the promise of resurrection is that God is with us no matter how hard the labour. We can rest in that promise. We don’t have to work for this promise. All we need to do is accept it, trust it, and rest in God’s unconditional love. But this truth is so exciting that it’s hard to sit down. The joy of resurrection, the joy of new shoes on the aching feet of a poor labourer is beyond imagination. Understood in the context of oppression and slavery, we can see why the kingdom of God is so rich with promise, and freedom and rest. There’s no way the servant can sit down in the presence of the soul’s utter joy. As I look around our community, I see us all working so hard. I see tired mom’s and dad’s managing so many needs. I see people stressed by unemployment. I see loving partners working hard to take care of their spouse through failing health. I see children and youth being over scheduled without enough time to play—adults too. I still see busyness as a mark of self-purpose. I see us slowly finding our selves after having been lost in the disaster. I wonder what our equivalent to new shoes and a golden waist band might be? What does the good news of Easter mean to us and how might that mean physical, mental and spiritual rest to us in such a way that our soul is so happy that we can’t, we just can’t sit down? Easter joy is soul joy
  Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 23 mins 12 secs    
  Description: This is the first part of the recording of most of the service in which the children dramatized the story of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. (Look for Part 2 below) Palm Sunday conversations were the way we imagined street corner conversations in Jerusalem. The African American spiritual, "Were you there?" formed the inspiration for these conversations and was played on flute by Rev. David after every conversation.
  Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 23 mins 12 secs    
  Description: This is the second part of the recording of most of the service in which the children dramatized the story of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. (Look for Part 1 above) Palm Sunday conversations were the way we imagined street corner conversations in Jerusalem. The African American spiritual, "Were you there?" formed the inspiration for these conversations and was played on flute by Rev. David after every conversation.
  Date: Sunday, April 02, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 17 mins 39 secs    
  Description: Jesus always found a way to twist and turn a phrase in order to help his followers learn. This is what parables do best and why I think Jesus used them a lot. The parable of the good Samaritan is a great example of Jesus’ teaching tactics. Honestly, the lawyer answers well. He knows the law and he knows that the heart of the law is to, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.” The whole transaction would have sufficed right there if the lawyer hadn’t fallen into his need to be clever. But Jesus entertains the lawyer’s coy approach and digs in. He goes after the definition of neighbour and advances it. I’m not sure it was the answer that the lawyer expected. He would have expected: love the neighbours that you know, that bring casseroles when you’re sick, that look like you, that make the same amount of money, that are members of the firm. I think the parable about the Samaritan would have surprised the lawyer quite a bit, because the most respected ones in this parable are the least effective and least helpful. The one who showed mercy is the one least trusted and the furthest away from being liked. Strangers and neighbours, respected ones and disrespected ones are all mixed up in this story. I imagine the lawyer having to reconfigure his thinking as he walks away from this exchange with Jesus. It is a very human thing to distrust differences and fear what we don’t know or understand. In the early stages of our development as humans, these traits served human survival. Embedded in our human DNA like all creatures, is a cautionary gene that serves up distrust and fear in the presence of danger or the unknown. This gene is normal and is designed to move us to caution so that we stay safe. Makes sense. This gene helps us navigate the dangers of life whether that be cross walks, grizzly bears, dark alleys, and lightning storms. It helps us be cautionary and reduce the risk of danger. It’s a good thing. It helps us survive and evolve. The shadow side of this cautionary gene is that it spawns fear between humans. The worst expression of this fear leads to genocide and war. It still does. However, now we are globalized and never before have humans had so much capacity to move around the planet bringing with them culinary, dietary, cultural, social and spiritual practices. This also creates numerous fears around immigration and economics that give rise to racism and populist politics. It seems we can’t help ourselves. The cautionary gene is powerful.

 

 


Healing Hands
Created On Thursday, 11 May 2017
Would you like to receive Healing Hands energy & prayer to help with healing and well-being? Our...
Guess Who's Coming for Dinner!
Created On Monday, 01 May 2017
That is going to be our theme for worship this spring – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner! We’ll...
Would you like to help us create an Inspiration Garden?
Created On Thursday, 06 April 2017
We would like to create a special place in the corner of our back lot (across the alley). We...
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The United Church has space available for rent. One time rentals! On-going rentals! Please ask....

 

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