High River United Church of High River, Alberta
        

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  Date: Sunday, December 15, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 16 mins 14 secs    
Passage: 2 Peter 1:12-19    
  Description: Who is Jesus for you? Who is Jesus in our faith? These may seem like obvious questions, but the answers, when we pause to reflect, take us deeper into our Christian faith and into the practice of that faith. In this Advent season of waiting once again to celebrate the arrival of God’s beloved son, we prepare our hearts by asking the question of ourselves and of each other – Who is Jesus? The image we are offered this week in scripture and through the Advent candle lighting ceremony is that of Jesus as the Morning Star. But what exactly does that mean? The image of Jesus as the morning star comes from the 2nd Letter of Peter. It is also used in the book of Revelation. Jesus is our morning star. In 2nd Peter, we are invited to anticipate the dawning of a new day when the morning star rises in our hearts. We know that moment, don’t we? As prairie people, with the wonderfully broad eastern sky, we have watched and waited for the sunrise, ready to welcome a new day. It is those moments just before the sunrise which are so magical and mystical. The sky has that special colour – more blue than black – as the light of the sun begins to warm the sky long before it breaks the horizon. The stars shimmer – and there is that one star, the morning star, that is especially bright. Actually, the morning star is the planet Venus – a mere 330 million kilometres from us, much closer than any of the nearest stars. It is Venus that announces the dawn and welcomes the sun, sparkling brightly as we watch and wait for the sun to return to us in its orbit, warming the earth and brightening our homes. It is such a powerful image - the morning star. We all have those times in our lives when we wait for the dawn, times when life is shadowed, depressing and filled with gloom. Grief, depression, tragedy, loss of a job, divorce, the economy, loss of good health or mobility – there are many circumstances that leave us unable to see what is good in life, what is joyful. It can feel as if a shadow has descended over us, and it is hard to believe that there will be hope and love and joy ever again in our lives.
  Date: Sunday, December 01, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 12 mins 33 secs    
  Description: Who do you say Jesus is? What names and words to describe Jesus come immediately to mind? Once, Jesus confronted his disciples with that question, “Who do you say that I am?” If he were to stand before you today, and ask that question, what would be your response? Many names have been used to describe and name Jesus through the last two thousand years since his birth. Some of these may have been the words that came into your mind when I asked the question. Lord, Saviour, Messiah, Christ, Healer, Teacher, Rabbi, Friend, Shepherd, Light of the World, Son of God, Word of God, Emmanuel. For some of us, Jesus may be very real as a spiritual presence, a loving presence we have felt near to us, encouraging, challenging and caring. For others of us, Jesus may be more of a historical figure, a wise rabbi who lived two thousand years ago, whose words and actions stirred people to live compassionate and courageous lives. Some of us have the gift of feeling Jesus’ presence; some of us have the gift of being Jesus’ presence for others. We all have different perspectives, understandings and experiences of the one called Jesus – Yeshua, in his own language. We each will have our own response to “Who do you say Jesus is?”
  Date: Sunday, November 24, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 14 mins 16 secs    
  Description: In the Christian Church Calendar, this is really like New Year’s Eve. It’s the last Sunday in the Church year, which means next Sunday is Advent and we begin the new year anticipating the Birth of Jesus. But that would mean getting ahead of ourselves. For today, let’s stay with the Christian Church’s equivalent of New Year’s Eve, called the Reign of Christ Sunday. I usually find New Year’s Eve a little bewildering. It seems to be a lot of out with the old and in with the new. Or, a listing of all the things we’re going to do differently with our best intentions attached. Or maybe some reflection and introspection on the year that has passed. And of course, there’s noise makers, confetti, food, libations, and most importantly the traditions of bringing in the new year with our loved ones and friends. It’s that last part about being with loved ones and friends that I think really connects with Paul’s reflections from today’s reading according to his letter to the Philippians. He had in mind, the Philippian church as a gathering of loved ones and friends—journeying together to the heart of God. Paul deeply loved his Christian communities. His letters were always encouraging and loving (except the Galatians who were nothing but a source of frustration for him—they were Celts, what can you do). But that being the distraction that it is, and hopefully a spark of humour, Paul always found ways to encourage, support, and love even in the face of other distractions, challenges or disruptions. Always. And yes, even the Galatians. Paul writes, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, and consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, and compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind…. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.2: 1-2, 4-5) It’s a great New Year’s Eve letter. It offers a reset as we move into the New Year and the coming weeks of Advent. What a beautiful intention that we set ourselves about the practices of encouragement, love, compassion, sympathy and joy—that we not hunker down into our own self-interests but look upon the interests of others—that we be of one mind, and have the mind of Christ in us—which really is about journeying together to the heart of God. We are on the cusp of the New Christian Year and Paul reminds us about the kind of headspace and heart-space we need to be in as we contemplate the reign of Christ. This takes practice… of course. But I am convinced that it is more relevant and necessary than ever.
  Date: Sunday, November 17, 2019       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 8 mins 45 secs    
  Description: Rev. David and Rev. Susan have a conversation about what it means to be church. When we choose to belong to a congregation, we find a place to make sense of our lives and grow meaning in our relationship with God, we find a sense of belonging and significance, and we deepen and share the values that are important to us, values that come from the teachings of Jesus.
  Date: Sunday, November 10, 2019       Teacher: Linnea Good     Duration: 26 mins 22 secs    
  Description: Linnea Good, musician and storyteller, shares a story about the healing of Bartimaeus and also talks about how God is in the story. A wonderful listen.
  Date: Sunday, November 03, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 7 secs    
  Description: The story of the Bible is a story of relationship. It is a story of God’s relationship with humanity and with all of creation. It is a love story. The Bible is filled with stories, chosen by faithful people, to share their understandings and experiences of God. It is offered in many different voices, in many different genres of literature. The stories each come out of a particular context, in a particular time in history, and the portrayal of God offered is shaped by that time and context. It is not something dictated by God for us, but rather it is a human document, made sacred by its use, that reveals to us how people have understood and experienced God through the ages. As we study scripture and explore the stories, as we discuss scripture together, we receive God’s voice, God’s message. What is at the core of scripture, throughout both testaments is this: God is love and God chooses to be in relationship with humankind. God chooses to be in relationship with us and we choose to be in relationship with each other in this congregation. Faith is rooted in relationship – and that has been our theme this fall.
  Date: Sunday, October 27, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 26 mins 3 secs    
  Description: God is Love… these words glowed in the dark from a little wooden plaque that hung on the wall next to my bed when I was about 9 years old. My church gave me this plaque as a gift from our Sunday School. Next to the words were two little blue birds framed by a heart. So simple. Since then, and all these years later, I’ve pondered that little plaque, it’s words and especially how they glowed after I turned out the light. God is Love, even through the night. Following our walk around the 6 roots of attachment as outlined by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, the fifth root of attachment is love. At or around 4 years old, our hearts become awakened to love. Four-year-old’s give their heart away to their caring adults. It’s why four-year-old’s want to marry their mom or dad. They want to marry their sister or brother. They want to marry their teacher. Four-year-old’s draw hearts and colour them and give them away. Four-year-old’s love valentines’ day! At the tender age of around 4 we learn about love for the first time and what it means to give our love to someone else. We take this first experience of love into the rest of our lives. A four-year-old’s love is innocent. It is unconditional. It is child-like of course. On the one hand it emerges on its own as part of our human development. On the other hand, it is evoked because the child is in the care of loving adults. It is a deep root and when the conditions are right, there is room for the child to learn about, feel, and express love. Hearts everywhere! That’s why my bedroom plaque was so comforting. God is love, glowing in the dark reminded me that I could exist in the presence of God and experience unconditional love. I knew that God loved me first. And in return, I gave my heart to God. As we reflect on the words about God’s love in 1 John today, we hear the mystery that, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1 Jn 4:16b) These words are written specifically for the Christian Community. John’s understanding of love is grounded in the mystery of God’s love at work in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
  Date: Sunday, October 20, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey    
  Description: This sermon was not recorded. Find the print edition under Worship & Music tab - Sermons in Print... I remember singing, “God sees the little sparrow fall,” as a child in church. It is quite an amazing concept – that the Creator of the universe knows and cares about each creature on earth, and each hair or feather or scale on each creature. Truly, it is something hard to fathom. With our limited human abilities, and our memories that seem to hold only so much, to imagine a God who intimately knows and cares about each and everyone of us is incredible, and almost impossible to imagine. Except that over and over again in scripture we are told that we are significant to God, that God notices us and cares for us. Two facts are repeated hundreds of times each in the Bible: 1. God is love and 2. Don’t be afraid because God loves and cares for you. Just let those two statements sink in: God is love, and we don’t need to be afraid in any circumstance because God loves us. That is life-transforming information – and I think it may be very hard for many of us to really, really, really believe it. Yet, the witness of scripture is that we are significant to God. And because we are significant to God, we don’t need to be afraid. Significance is one of the ways that we form relationship or attachment with one another.
  Date: Sunday, October 13, 2019       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 9 mins 25 secs    
  Description: Rev. Susan & Rev. David have a conversation about gratitude. As followers of Jesus, we are called to practice gratitude - which goes far beyond feeling thankful. It is a choice of a way of life that involves looking for what we have to be grateful for in all circumstances. In a society where there is so much hate-filled speech, so many death threats and sexual assault threats leveled at those in any sort of leadership position, it is more important than ever that we practice gratitude to counter this.
  Date: Sunday, October 06, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 11 mins 24 secs    
  Description: Now there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for we are one in Christ! I think it is hard for us, in the 21st century to understand just how radical those words would have been in the 1st century, when Paul was writing to the church at Galatia. These are transformative words also meant to challenge us as we follow the Way. Today we are coming to the communion table to share the bread and the cup. Imagine what this would have been like for the followers of Jesus, 2,000 years ago. First of all, they shared this meal every time they gathered. And they actually sat down together at a big table. Everyone brought some bread (flat bread) from home and some wine, and it was all put on the table –like a potluck. All the wine was poured into a large bowl-like container – good and bad wine mixed together. All the bread heaped on one platter. Once the words, “This is my body; this is my blood; do this in remembrance of me,” were declared by the presider, everyone ate their fill. It wasn’t the little sip of juice and little piece of bread that we share. It was much more like our Soup & Bun or Simple Suppers. Everyone ate their fill. No one went home hungry. Those who had more, brought more, but everyone brought something. The commitment that followers of Jesus made to each other was that they would share everything in common so that no one was in need. They took care of each other! They committed their resources to one another. Now I want you to picture who was at that table. Jew and Gentile, Roman citizens and their slaves, men and women – all sitting together. This is the absolutely radical thing about the church of Jesus at its beginnings. At other tables in the Roman Empire at the time, these people would not sit together. Men and women, especially at Roman banquet tables normally would not be seated together. Men would have their own tables, and women would be set apart or doing the serving. Within Jewish households, the family would eat together, but out in public, men did not speak to or associate with women who they were not married to or related to. Similarly, slaves had their place in society, and did not share a meal with their masters. Jewish people and Gentile people would not interact, except for limited required transactions, such as paying taxes. Paul is writing to a church in the middle of Roman territory – the church in Galatia, in what is present day Turkey. Paul is telling them that once they are committed to following the Way of Jesus, like us, then all of those traditional cultural and religious boundaries are wiped away. Everyone sits at the same table together.

 

 


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