High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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  Date: Sunday, January 20, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 13 mins 40 secs    
  Description: It is all about relationship. That’s what this mornings two scripture readings tell us. It is all about relationship – our faith is rooted and grounded in relationship. In fact, faith is grounded in a multitude of relationships. There is our relationship with God, of course, and our relationship with Jesus, who represented God to us and mediates God for us. But there is also our relationship with the Bible, with the words of scripture. And there are our relationships with each other within the congregation. All of these relationships are essential to our faith. I love the passage from Isaiah which we’ve just heard, though I think I say that about many scriptures – I just love the words of the Bible, I love the relationship I can have with scripture. So, in Isaiah, an amazing book, is this passage in which we hear God speaking to the people. God says, “I’m giving you a new name. No longer will you be called Forsaken or Desolate, now you shall be called My Delight and your land shall be called Married. You shall be my crown of beauty, my royal diadem.” Aren’t those amazing words? Doesn’t that spark something in our spirits? We all have those moments, those times, sometimes too long in duration, where we feel forsaken and desolate, forgotten and alone. At those times, don’t we long for someone to name us My Delight, My Joy, My Friend, My Beloved.
  Date: Sunday, January 13, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 14 mins 25 secs    
  Description: As I thought about the passage from Luke referring to the peoples’ and Jesus’ baptism, my mind went to the threshing machine that was such a part of harvest time during my growing up years. The threshing machine was the precursor to the combine and for a young boy it seemed to have a life of its own as the many serpentine belts moved pulleys and sheave cutters. The coolest thing was the fan that blew the chaff away from the grain. It created quite a whirring sound and sure enough the grain came down the spout clean as a whistle as the straw blew out the stack at the back. It was dirty dusty work. Don’t get me going on the insufferable itch caused by barely dust. The threshing machine is really a mechanized version of the ancient threshing floor. The idea is the same… you need wind to separate the grain from the chaff. That’s what I appreciate about this passage in Luke—it is quintessentially rural. It notices the natural elements of wind, and yes fire, as actions and aspects of threshing. And we all know how grain dust and chaff are highly flammable. The fire is unstoppable. Luke uses powerful and natural images around the practice of baptism. So, let’s back up a little bit and begin with the idea that it’s the grain that matters to Luke. Threshing is about saving the precious grain by letting the wind blow away the chaff—the material that is no longer needed. Luke speaks of baptising with the Holy Spirit and fire. Do you recall that in the Greek, the word for wind and Spirit is the same word along with breath? We could say that Jesus will baptise with wind or breath and fire. The Spirit, Wind or Breath of God blows away the chaff and saves the grain. This is a refining process, I’d say. The unnecessary, the frivolous, the chaff is blown away and burned leaving the grain. If we think of baptism in that way… it’s a clarifying process, a refining moment, an action of alignment where by water, wind and fire the baptism names the people with Jesus among them as ones fully in relationship with and embraced by the loving intentions of God. This is unique to Luke. Unlike the other gospels, Luke does not name who does the baptism. He situates Jesus as one among the people being baptised. There is very little drama. What Luke does say is that after the baptism, Jesus was praying. And while he was praying the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended upon him in bodily form LIKE a dove. And a voice from heaven names him as the Son, the Beloved, and the one who is pleasing to God. Luke recalls the baptism this way—after which during prayer, Jesus has a mystical experience of the divine.
  Date: Sunday, January 06, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 16 mins 18 secs    
  Description: Magi. Wisemen. Mages from the East. Kings, perhaps. I’ve been thinking about these people who chose to make the journey to find a little baby in another country. They are really quite remarkable, these magi – but not because they were rich or wise. They are remarkable because they made the choice to set out on a journey of faith, not knowing exactly where that journey would take them, but committed to the journey none-the-less. To understand their journey of faith, let’s take a step back and review a few details about this story. First of all, remember that the best question to ask of any Biblical story is ‘Why did people choose to tell this story and to record this story for future generations?’ Asking, ‘Did it really happen this way?’ doesn’t serve us. Asking, ‘Why was this story told?” leads us deeper into our own faith journey. So “why was this story told?” Let’s consider that. The Greek word translated “wisemen” is magoi, or magi, or mages – from which we get our word magician. But these wise-ones were the scientists of their day, seeking to understand the world around them and the skies above them, rather than people who did magic tricks.
  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, December 02, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 11 mins 57 secs    
Passage: Isaiah 55:1-13    
  Description: On the one hand, I think that Isaiah is compelling us think about how we spend our loonies and toonies. I would hope we make wise choices that nourish our lives—that we eat well and stay away from junk food and other less nourishing distractions. That’s one way of thinking about this. But on the other hand, I think we need to understand that this passage is about working with God’s currency and living in God’s economy. That’s where we take a turn away from the sale on flannel shirts and delve into the actual transactions that serve to nourish our soul and the heart of the community. In other words, there is a strong case here to spend our money on that which fosters God’s love, sustains an intentional community and, provides resources for right relationships and wellness throughout our neighbourhoods. Our money invested in God’s economy ensures that all those who hunger and thirst are satisfied regardless of their status, lack of status or whatever. Ho! proclaims Isaiah—pay attention to this. This is food and drink for the soul. Giving to this congregation is a statement about investing in mission and ministry as defined by God’s economy—it is a decision we make because Isaiah is quite adamant that investing in God’s economy is money well spent. Why? Because it means life to a people. Spending money is a waste if it somehow doesn’t return to God. You end up with just a shirt. God’s economy becomes stuck. And honestly, there’s no real lasting joy in that. Right? What is the ancillary product line of God’s economy? I believe it is joy. Isaiah proclaims you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song…” And pay attention, friends—instead of thorns, the soil will produce the cypress—a glorious tree whose wood is known by musicians for its sonority and its Biblical symbolism associated with death and healing, life and resurrection. And instead of the brier, the soil will produce myrtle—a shrub that symbolizes life, fertility and love especially in the context of marriage. And together that should be enough to convince us all that this is the legacy, a memorial, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. That is, God will never allow our relationship, our covenant with God to be severed. God will always be with us. And that’s the essence of Advent and its message leading to Christmas where the tradition remembers the birth of God in the child called Emmanuel… which means God with us. Deep, deep joy.
  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?

 

 


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

(403) 652-3168

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