High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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Sermons in this series
  Date: Sunday, December 30, 2018       Teacher: Guest Worship Leaders     Duration: 7 mins 8 secs    
  Description: Celia Penman was our guest worship leader and preacher.
  Date: Monday, December 24, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 12 mins 45 secs    
  Description: Already last week, I began imagining all of us here together, guided to this place by the light and love of the Gospel’s Christmas story about God born in the Christ Child—named Emmanuel which means, God with us. And then once here, I imagined us all leaning into the wisdom of this story and finding rest as we ponder its meaning and mystery. Before you even arrived, you have been in my thoughts and prayers and held by the loving intentions of this congregation. You see, this matters to me a lot. Because at the very heart of the Christmas narrative is the divine invitation to rest in the all-encompassing wisdom that God IS with us. For me that means that we find our rest in God—that we can lean into the compassion and love of God which serves to comfort us and heal us from everything that causes us distress and alarm. The Christmas narrative as recorded in Matthew and Luke’s gospels is beautifully inclusive and spiritually spacious as it comes to rest alongside the very vulnerabilities of human nature. It is such a desperate human story… full of alarm and vulnerability as it walks alongside a humble, young couple pregnant with God’s child. At one point, Joseph wants to divorce and run while in another corner of the story, Mary ponders the Divine promise in her heart. God’s presence comes alongside both of them in a way that comforts, assures, and invites trust. In their own way, Mary and Joseph choose to lean into God, trusting that God will be with them no matter how desperate. And, that God will be rest for them, a guide for them and the ground for their being. God comes to them. God is born to them. God is with them. They are not alone no matter how overwhelming their life circumstances. I know there are times in each of our lives when we just want to run away—when the situation is too much. I know there are times when all we can do is quietly treasure in our hearts the mystery of God. Each of us brings our own life into the Christmas story and it meets us where we are. That is what shapes the mystery of this night.
  Date: Sunday, December 23, 2018       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 11 mins 14 secs    
  Description: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is the night when we celebrate the coming of Jesus, God’s beloved child. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that incredible? More than 2,000 years after the birth of this child, Jesus, we still pause every year to celebrate the gift of his birth. There are many babies who have been born this year, whose births and lives will be celebrated by family and friends, but 2,000 years later – just imagine that. What kind of person does it take to be remembered so significantly for so long? What kind of person does it take to continue to shape lives and mend hearts, 2,000 years after he lived? Well, it takes Jesus. I am constantly in awe that a tiny baby, whose family was from the peasant class, has had such an impact on the world. Jesus defied all odds. Nothing in his life set him up to be such a well-known person. He wasn’t born in a palace. There was no social media to immediately send the news of his birth around the world. He lived quietly in Nazareth as a carpenter for 30 years, attended no special schools or training camps. His ministry lasted only 3 years before his untimely death at the hands of the Romans. None of this points to a person who would have such a lasting impact. But this was Jesus! There was something more about this person, something that those around him named as divine.
  Date: Sunday, December 16, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 10 mins 41 secs    
  Description: Susan and I travelled one afternoon this week to offer support and love to a situation rife with violence, injustice and loss. On the way, we found ourselves talking about hope. These difficult and fully human instances of hardship and challenge necessarily call out of all us an urgency to consider hope. No fluffy definition will do. Hope is not a form of faint optimism. Instead, we consider the depths of hope as that which we receive from our spiritual roots and then embody as something lived and shared. I think that is the point made by the writer of 1 Peter. By God’s great mercy we have been given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I appreciate these words: “given a new birth into a living hope”. The letter of 1 Peter was sent to new gentile Christians spread across what today would be most of Turkey known otherwise as Asia Minor. Their life was hard for economic, political and religious reasons. But perhaps what is most significant about those receiving this letter is the fact that they were welcomed openly into the household of faith arising from the grace and unconditional love of the resurrected Christ. In the household of Christians dispersed across Asia Minor, people of all cultures, and especially those of exiled social status like slaves for example, were welcomed and loved into the body of Christ. For slaves, the crucified and resurrected Christ paid for their freedom with unconditional love, and acceptance. Literally, born into a living hope were these castaways—Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:10). Our conversation in the van on the way to our visit continued… We began to define hope as that which arrives as a merciful gift from God. This gift takes up residence in us and we become localized expressions of God’s hope for one another and the world around us. And because we sometimes fail at this since we are human after all, we have one another for support. When my hope fails, I know I can lean into my faith community who also embodies the power of this living hope given freely by the resurrected Christ. Each of us here and those who join us along our journey together are born into this living hope—this Christ inspired, loving, powerful hope that transforms our lives, heals our broken hurting souls and provides a welcoming unconditional love to all. To all.
  Date: Sunday, November 25, 2018       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 17 mins 25 secs    
  Description: requirements for proper form and right belief that have become associated with the Christian church. Whether we want it or not, we are seen as judgemental, and as hypocrites who can’t live up to what we expect of others. It is time for us to reclaim the faith of Jesus even as we live the Way of Jesus. It is time to focus on Spirit rather than form— to value curiosity more than instruction, intentions more than the form in which those intentions are carried out, aspiration more than expectation of right behaviour, expression and imagination more than right belief, compassion more than conventions, generousity more than reward or recognition. The Christian church still has Good News to share with the world, Good News that is needed in our world, but that Good News has been lost, I believe, in messages of punishment and hell, and judgement of people of other faiths or of anyone who doesn’t fit within our comfort levels. The Good News has been lost in demands for right belief, proper form, and hard work to earn God’s love. But that is not good news, and definitely not the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Good News of Jesus Christ is about love, compassion & generousity. It is a message of welcoming & hospitality. It is a message that calls each of us to be part of the healing of the world. We don’t have to earn God’s love. We are already loved. We don’t have to fear eternal punishment. We are already forgiven and accepted. As followers of the Way of Jesus, we just need to offer our hearts to Jesus, open ourselves to the faith of Jesus, and live the Way of Jesus, loving God, neighbours, strangers, enemies, and yes, even loving ourselves. As a Christian church in the 21st century, we must be excited about Living the Way of Jesus and sharing the faith of Jesus. We must show with our faces and express with our lives the wonder, joy and hope we feel as we are embraced by the compassion of Christ and share that compassion with others. We follow The Way–a way like none other. Thanks be to God!
  Date: Sunday, November 18, 2018     Duration: 8 mins 26 secs    
  Description: David and Susan have a conversation about joy. Joining in the conversation is one of our Grade 9 students, Maya. How do we know joy?
  Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 18 mins 13 secs    
  Description: A reflection on the meaning of the communion meal, and of remembrance.
  Date: Sunday, November 04, 2018       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 17 mins 47 secs    
  Description: The Bible is this amazing, wonderful, & fascinatingly diverse collection of sayings, stories, genealogies, poems, proverbs, historical writings, parables, and more. It’s not a book – it’s a library. It contains the most comforting words: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And the most poetically beautiful words: “They shall rise up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint.” And the wisest words: “Love your enemies; do not repay evil for evil.” And the strangest stories.... When we choose to follow the Way of Jesus, then we choose this book as our guide and our wisdom, and that includes all the strange and weird parts, as well as all the beautiful, wise and wonderful parts. It includes all the imperfect, stumbling, bumbling characters, as well as the compassionate, wise ones. Then, there are the many Christians who declare that the Bible must be seen as inerrant, infallible, and it must be taken literally. They resist asking any questions about why things might be contradictory in scripture or why the Bible says things that science and life experience might tell us are no longer accurate. In a way, they are trying to protect the Bible, to build a fence around it so it doesn’t get trampled down. Perhaps, underneath, they are afraid that the Bible will be dismissed as irrelevant, and so they protect it with words such as literal, inerrant & infallible. But the Bible doesn’t need protecting. In fact, the more it is protected from questions, debates, and wrestling, the less relevant it does become. So, what is the Bible? How would I describe it and my relationship to it? I believe the Bible is a collection of writings from dozens, if not hundreds of people. I believe, as David preached from 2nd Timothy last week, that the Bible is inspired by God. Yet, that inspiration was given to fallible people, people who can misunderstand and make errors, people who were shaped by their own cultural understandings, even as they tried to express their experience of God.
  Date: Sunday, October 28, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 15 mins 31 secs    
  Description: Let’s hear that passage again as it appears in The Message as a way of sharpening our ears helping us reframe how we might approach the words of the writer of II Timothy. There is so much in today’s reading for us—especially as we consider our relationship with the Bible. Sitting with these words of II Timothy, I was struck by the word inspire (which you heard in the NRS Version read by Sarah). Literally it means to breathe into. I very much like the way The Message says that “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed…” (The Message, II Timothy 3:16, P. 1647). Scripture is inspired with God’s breath which makes the words live and further inspire the reader. And in all of that, says the writer of II Timothy, scripture is deemed useful for teaching, showing us truth, correcting our mistakes so that we may be proficient and equipped for every good work—training us to live in God’s way. No where does it say take the words literally. In fact, to do that diminishes the spirit and the power of God-breathed words. We receive inspiration from the Bible’s scriptures as a way of knowing truth and wisdom and expanding our awareness of the Divine. When we approach the Scriptures, we are approaching God-breathed words that serve to express the compassion and wisdom of God toward us. Beautiful. And then, according to our Methodist heritage we lay alongside scripture the gifts of tradition, reason and experience. Those three additional practices help us temper our relationship with scriptures so as to keep our discernment spacious, wise and grounded. This helps us see through unscrupulous con men who exploit the faith. Consider for example, May 30, 2018 - A US televangelist has asked his followers to help fund his fourth private jet - because Jesus "wouldn't be riding a donkey". Jesse Duplantis said God had told him to buy a Falcoln 7X for $54m ($72m CDN) That way, he could fly non-stop and avoid exorbitant landing fees... You may have other examples in your mind. As the words of II Timothy are so bold to say, [Unscrupulous con men are] as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse. But, says the writer of Timothy, don’t let it faze you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another… (NRSV/The Message).
  Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 5 secs    
  Description: When you walked into the sanctuary this morning, what was your focus? Were you noticing the decorations or the people who were already present? Were you thinking about what you need to do in worship or later today or who you might need to talk to before you leave the building? I’m wondering if any of us, myself included, were thinking about presenting ourselves to God. I wonder if any of us were seeing ourselves as moving into the presence of God, onto holy ground. As the apostle Paul puts in in the letter to Romans, were we presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice, a holy offering, and a precious people? I’m not asking this to create guilt or point out failure. Rather, I’m inviting us to consider how we approach worship and our faith. In some faith traditions, you would take off your shoes as you enter the sacred space, an action that profoundly marks the transition into being in the holy presence. In some Christian traditions, you would pause, cross yourself, and bend the knee, showing honour and reminding yourself that you are on holy ground. In some churches, the organ or piano is playing as you enter (something we have found hard to do with the choir having a practice just before worship). The music signals the transition and acts as a reminder to settle into the presence of God. Now, we believe that God is with us everywhere, but this is a particular, special, holy place in which we intentionally come into God’s presence. I think that we all have a sense of the sacredness of this space, a sacredness created by the generations of those who have worshipped here. Each of us have our expectations and ideas about how this space should be treated and how we should act in this space. It jars us when someone does something we don’t see as fitting in this place, though we may have different ideas about just what is appropriate or not appropriate. For example, a few years ago, I came into the sanctuary for a wedding rehearsal, and found the bridal party sitting on the communion table. My gasp, I hope, was inaudible. But then I realized that no one in this group understood the meaning the table holds for those of us who gather around it to share in the gift of the Lord’s Supper. So I took a moment to ask them not to sit on the table and to explain that it was sacred and special to the congregation. Then, we went on with rehearsal. Sacred. Holy. Blessing. Sacrifice. Offering. Worship. Salvation. Confession. These are words connected with this space in which we gather. They are words which also hold special meaning for us, words that hold less meaning, different meaning, or perhaps no meaning in the broader secular culture. I read an article this week that talked about the decline in religious language. It wouldn’t surprise most of us that conversations that touch on faith and spiritual matters are becoming more rare. A recent survey, by the Barna Group in the United States, showed that 75% of people do not have or only rarely have what they consider spiritual conversations, and that includes all those who name themselves as committed to faith groups. Only 7% of people indicated that they talk about spiritual matters regularly. I imagine that most of us find ourselves within the 75% group, who rarely have spiritual conversations. I’ll come back to why that may be, but the other interesting piece offered in this article indicated that spiritual and religious words are fading from the vocabulary. Now, we might not be surprised that words like “salvation” or “blessing” are used less and less within our culture. However, the study also found that words connected with virtues, or what we as Christians call “the fruits of the Spirit” are declining. Words such love, patience, gentleness, faithfulness and humility are being used less and less, both in written and oral language. Words such as compassion and kindness and thankfulness have dropped in written and oral usage by 50% in the past century.

 

 


SUPER SATURDAY ART-DAY!
Created On Monday, 11 February 2019
The Highwood United Calligraphers next Super Saturday Art-Day! Saturday, March 16, 9:00 – 3:00...
Beginner Calligraphy class
Created On Monday, 11 February 2019
Highwood United Calligraphers Beginner Calligraphy with Melanie McCracken 4 Mondays, 6:30 – 8:00...
Meditation & Prayer at High River United
Created On Monday, 11 February 2019
Gentle exploration of your spiritual journey through guided meditation and creative art. No...
Drop-In Yoga
Created On Thursday, 17 January 2019
starting Thurs., Jan. 24th 7:00 – 8:30 pm High River United Church Drop In Fee: $2 Hosted by...

 

SUNDAY MORNINGS @ 10AM

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

(403) 652-3168

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