High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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Sermons in this series
  Date: Sunday, February 16, 2020       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 14 mins 50 secs    
  Description: 10,000 miles. That’s the estimated distance that Paul travelled during his ministry. 10,000 miles… that’s not quite half-way around the planet. It’s remarkable given Paul’s era, and even more significant given how fast and how far the good news of God’s love in the resurrected Jesus was spreading throughout the world. The Acts of the Apostles and their ministry to the Jewish and Gentile world is dramatic. There is all manner of amazing and wondrous stories of God’s Spirit at work. Pivotal of course, is the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, into the Christian community. The significance of that event has quite the ripple affect across the region. But, so do transactions like the one we read about today, where Paul confronts a magician who has been trying to sway the proconsul into the realm of sorcery. To be fair, it was not uncommon for sophisticated Romans to employ astrologers and sorcerers in order to help them make wise decisions. It was part of the cultural practice and commonly accepted. Paul was not amused by the sorcerer’s intent to draw Sergius Paulus away from God. In this transaction there’s an echo back to the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel to see whose god has the most power. By God’s Spirit at work in Paul, the sorcerer Bar-Jesus is proven to be a fake. It does not go well for him as he is reduced to a stumbling and bumbling fool groping for a hand to lead him. The imagery is quite intentional. The proconsul Sergius Paulus is converted—curiously not so much by the event, but by the teaching about the Lord. (William Willimon, Acts: Interpretation, pp. 122-123) Paul’s journey continues at a breathtaking pace.
  Date: Sunday, February 09, 2020       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 13 mins 18 secs    
  Description: I hate it! I just absolutely hate it when I catch myself judging someone because of their looks, their way of speaking, or their approach. It happened this week --probably more than once, but the once that stood out was when I was listening to the radio. I was appreciating what the person was saying but I found myself thinking – what he has to say would be better received if he didn’t have that accent. Oh, I hate it when I do that. Judge someone for just being who they are. But we human beings are judgemental by nature. Partly it is a survival skill. We judge others in order to determine if they are the enemy that we need to be aware of. And there are people, abusive, violent, deceptive people, that we should be very wary of. But this judgement thing has got out of hand. Jesus knew that when he told people, “Do not judge so that you are not judged.” Jesus modeled a spiritual practice of accepting each person in front of him for who they were, welcoming them, seeing beyond outer appearances and stereotypes, rejecting societal norms & connecting compassionately & unconditionally with the person. In today’s reading from the book of Acts, Peter is challenged to drop his judgments, even the judgments made on the basis of the Jewish law code by which he had lived his whole life.
  Date: Sunday, February 02, 2020       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 14 mins 39 secs    
  Description: Abraham, Abraham! Jacob, Jacob! Moses, Moses! This is the way God calls and interrupts. The double name calling is a pretty good indication that God is going to do something, not tomorrow or some time later, but immediately, right now. Saul, Saul! Calls the voice. “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9: 4) There is blinding light. Saul falls to the ground. And life for Saul is turned upside down. Like Abraham, Jacob and Moses… Saul is called into action right here and right now, by God speaking through the Jewish Jesus. And that’s important. All that is being proclaimed is held by the unconditional love of God showing up in blinding light, the voice of Jesus and the acts of the apostles. Saul doesn’t stand a chance. Let’s use a wide-angle lens for a moment to see the story of Saul’s conversion in context. By the time we reach today’s reading from Acts chapter 9, there have already been two significant stories of conversion: Acts 8:14 the conversion of the Samaritans, Acts 8:34, the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Notice that each conversion leading up to Saul’s is an ever-increasing reach into the gentile world—the non-Jewish world. Notice that in the gospel according to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, God’s unconditional love is moving out into the wider world and touching the lives of both Jews and gentiles. It is a remarkable story of transformation and life-giving faith that serves to love and heal the human soul. Already, the book of Acts is speaking to these wonders. And then…
  Date: Sunday, January 26, 2020       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 9 mins 38 secs    
  Description: Rev. Susan & Rev. David have a conversation about sharing the good news. Deacons were appointed to take care of those in need in the new Christian community. In the United Church, we are quite good at taking care of each other and helping out in the community. Apostles were to share the good news and speak the message of God's love as known through Jesus. In the United Church, we are quieter and more reserved. Here are some ideas for being able to speak our faith.
  Date: Sunday, January 19, 2020       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 20 mins 9 secs    
  Description: Today I am introducing the Apostle Peter to you. You might know him as Simon, Simon Peter and also Cephas and Petros both which mean Rock, depending on Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek. Jesus may have called him Rocky. Peter was a regular guy. He could not read or write, was not likely conversant with the Law of Moses and couldn’t speak Greek. He was a husband. He fished. He lived in Capernaum on the northwest shore of the sea of Galilee—an idyllic spot. To this day you can still visit the foundation of Peter’s house which is across the street from the synagogue where Jesus preached and a stone’s throw from the lakeshore. As one writer says, “He could also be resolute (Acts of the Apostles 4:10; 5:1–10). Occasionally he is depicted as rash and hasty (Luke 22:33, etc.) or irritable and capable of great anger (John 18:10). Often he is pictured as gentle but firm and, as in his professions of love to Jesus, capable of great loyalty and love (John 21:15–17).” Tradition points to Peter as the first Apostle leading a movement of followers who believed that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead, healing for the sick, and salvation for all—many believed, and they numbered about 5000. He was quite an impassioned speaker and “when filled with the Holy Spirit” move the hearts of many. The message? Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Acts tells of Peter and John arrested because the Jesus movement was threatening the stability of religious life in Palestine. Despite being a regular guy with all manner of capacities both and abundant and lacking, Peter was able to speak boldly before those who arrested him, and refused to be silenced. The authorities could not pin him down. They had to let him go. And so… Peter’s work in Jerusalem continued, a movement following the crucifixion, resurrection and teachings of Jesus was begun and set to spread around the Mediterranean basin.
  Date: Sunday, January 12, 2020       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 19 secs    
  Description: We are familiar with the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John – and we understand that there are many letters, mostly from the apostle Paul, in the New Testament, but tucked between the gospels and letters is a book that we only occasionally refer to and which often, I believe, is forgotten – The Book of Acts. At the Worship Team meeting this fall, it was suggested that we learn more of about the early church – what really was going on and what can we learn from it. And that leads us to the Book of Acts. So today we begin an adventure together, an adventure in faith, following the early church as described in the book of Acts. Between now and Easter we are going to journey through the whole book. In your announcements and in the booklet I’ve put together, you’ll see that I’ve outlined chapters to read each week, and I invite you to do just that. Read the two to three chapters indicated for each week. In the service, we’ll highlight some portions of those two to three chapters. And then, every other week, on Tuesday mornings, we’ll have a Bible Study (a Scripture in the Sandbox session) that will give you a chance to ask questions about what you are reading and discuss what you are noticing in the passages. This journey through the Book of Acts is an opportunity for all of us to grow in our faith life and to deepen our relationship with Living, Loving God. I think there is so much that the Book of Acts has to offer us right now in the year 2020. You may ask: How could a book written in the 1st century have something to say to those of us living 2,000 years later in a very different context? What can we, who live in a technological world, learn from those who lived in the Classical Greek era? What do those living under the rule of the Roman Empire, who relied on runners and travellers to deliver messages have to teach us who live in a democracy and have instant access to messages from around the world? Well, I think there is more that we have in common that we might imagine.

 

 


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SUNDAY MORNINGS @ 10AM

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

(403) 652-3168

office@highriverunitedchurch.org

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