High River United Church of High River, Alberta

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  Date: Sunday, May 15, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 35 secs    
Passage: Acts 2:1-17 & John 3:1-21    
  Description: For God so loved the world- what an amazing thing! That would have been a radical concept in the first century. The Greek, Roman and other gods weren’t worried about human beings. In the stories told of these gods, they had their own lives, their own power, and weren’t particularly interested in the goings on among human beings, unless it was to toy with humans, punish them or unintentionally cause havoc in human lives as they went about their godly business. The main relationship between humans and these gods was for humans to appease the gods, in order to protect themselves or to win favour and blessing. For God so loved the world – that is actually a radical concept today. While we have been told as Christians for 2,000 years that God loves us, that God is love, we still tend toward the idea that we have to appease God, earn God’s love, measure up in some way, or work hard to prove ourselves. It is so hard for us to believe that God just loves us. An often quoted Bible verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that God gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” So often this is read as judgement, in spite of the fact that the verse begins with “For God so loved the world.” The world – for God so loved the world – that’s everything and everyone. God is on our side, working for us, cheering for us, loving us. We don’t have to do anything to earn that love – God loves us! Unconditionally! Eternally!
  Date: Sunday, May 08, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 19 mins 45 secs    
Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31 & Acts 9:1-25    
  Description: “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 Some sixty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when the disciples were remembering Jesus’ life and ministry, that is what they remembered seeing in him and hearing from him. “I have come that you might have abundant life.” In the days since Easter, we have been encouraged to be part of an uprising of hope, an uprising of fellowship and discipleship, of worship and stewardship, an uprising filled with joy and possibility, when we work and worship together as a community of followers of the Way of Jesus. On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples fled to the upper room where they had gathered just the night before to share a meal with Jesus. They locked the door and thought they might never leave again, overwhelmed with sadness, in fear for their own lives. But then something happened. We can try all sorts of logical, scientific explanations for what happened in the resurrection. We can search for those same logical, scientific explanations for the wind and fire and speaking in many languages of Pentecost, which we celebrate next week. But we don’t need those explanations. We don’t need to know exactly what happened. All we need is to look at the lives of those disciples, who had been huddled in fear and grief behind locked doors.
  Date: Sunday, April 24, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 40 secs    
Passage: Acts 16:11-15    
  Description: Humans need community. Christians need community. We are social creatures, as much as wolves are, elephants are and dolphins are. We need each other. The first thing that Jesus did, after his baptism and forty days in the wilderness, was to draw a group of people around him, a community of people who would learn from him, work with him, and support one another. The first thing that the followers of Jesus did after witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus was to gather together in the upper room, to hold each other in their fear, their sorrow and their devastation. The first thing that the followers of Jesus did after they discovered the resurrection of Jesus was to gather together, to hold each other in their joy, their wonder and, yes, their disbelief. That is where the Spirit found them, fifty days later, gathered together in the upper room, sharing bread, sharing community. The wind blew, the flames of the Spirit’s energy danced among them, and they became something more than they had been before. They went out preaching, teaching, sharing and living the good news, with no regard for the danger to their lives because of what they preached. The first thing the followers of the Way of Jesus did as they arrived in any city or town was to look for community, an already established ecclesia or group of followers of Jesus, or to gather new followers of Jesus together to create a new ecclesia or community of Jesus. Christians, by our very nature, are part of a community. To be a Christian is to belong to a community. Now, it is possible to be spiritual alone. It is possible to reflect on the teachings of Jesus alone. But to be a Christian, to commit one’s life as a follower of the Way of Jesus, means to be committed to community. If you consider carefully the teachings of Jesus, they are really all about how we live together as community, and then how as a community we relate to the rest of the world. The Way of Jesus from its roots up to the present day is a Way of community, of partnership, of human beings being called together in faith.
  Date: Sunday, April 17, 2016     Duration: 15 mins 11 secs    
  Description: Oh Misun, a candidate for ordination from the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, has served with us since mid-January and will be returning to Korea next week. This is Misun's farewell address to the congregation, sharing things she learned and observed while she was here.
  Date: Sunday, April 10, 2016       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 20 mins 4 secs    
Passage: John 21:1-19    
  Description: I have no experience as a fisherman. A sad reality for those of you who enjoy the sport, I’m sure. I did fish off a bridge once or twice, but the results were, well… small. I caught a mullet once… a bottom feeder, boney, not something we could take home for supper. My experience couldn’t hold a light to that of Simon Peter’s. While I would have welcomed the advice of the guy on the shore shouting drop your net on the other side of the boat, or cast your line in the other direction, or try a different lure, I think Simon Peter would have not have been so charitable, especially after an exhausting night of catching nothing. Yet having nothing to lose, he drops his net on the other side. I love this story. As a community of faith who chooses to take the Bible seriously, not literally, we begin to see the gospel’s intent with this story. There are parallels that harken back to the night before Jesus’ arrest. There are allusions to what it means to live the Christian life. And there are blindingly beautiful indications of God’s abundance and sustaining love.
  Date: Sunday, April 03, 2016       Teacher: Rev.Henry Friesen     Duration: 22 mins 45 secs    
Passage: Psalms 15:1-5 & Mark 12:28-34    
  Description: Rev. Henry was guest preacher this Sunday, and focused on the unconditional and absolute love that God has for us.
  Date: Sunday, March 27, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 7 mins 6 secs    
Passage: Luke 24:1-35    
  Description: Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah! Those are powerful words. When we gather in this place together, we are part of something much bigger than anyone of us individually, something much more powerful, full of possibility and wonder and hope. For….. Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah! But on that Sunday morning, as the disciples rose on the third day after the horror of the crucifixion, all they could think of was that Jesus was dead. We know that feeling – you wake up-- in that first moment, all seems well and then the truth hits – your beloved is not there, will not be there today. Your job is gone. You are infertile. Your home has been flooded. And the waves of grief begin once again. We know what the disciples felt like as they faced another day without Jesus, another day without the rabbi who had shaped their days with love, compassion and challenging teachings. He was gone. The truth sank in a little bit more, as they tried to eat food that their stomachs didn’t want. Then suddenly there were voices – women’s voices – saying that Jesus had risen from the dead.
  Date: Sunday, March 13, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 18 mins 1 sec    
Passage: Matthew 7:12-29    
  Description: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The first recorded use of that saying was in a sermon preached in 1175. Here’s a version from 1602 (in the play Narcissus): “They can but bringe horse to the water brinke / But horse may choose whether that horse will drinke.” I think if that saying had been around in Jesus’ time, we would have found it in this section of the Sermon on the Mount. It really is what Jesus is saying: “I can bring you the good news of God’s love and show you how to live it, but I can’t make you do it.” Now I think that Jesus is getting a little impatient by this point in the day. He has been preaching for hours (we probably only have, in the gospel, the short summary of his teachings that day – the Coles note version or the twitter feed.) Jesus has been telling stories and sharing all that he knows, but deep down he is starting to wonder if the people will ever understand. He sees the few in the crowd who have that spark in their eye, that wonder on their face, that says they are understanding what he is sharing. But most of the crowd, he knows that they just don’t get it. They are so used to their old ways, following the rules precisely and thinking that’s what God wants, that they can’t hear his vision of the kingdom, of God’s justice and compassion. How can he say it in another way?
  Date: Sunday, March 06, 2016       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 16 mins 17 secs    
Passage: Matthew 6:19-7:12    
  Description: What do we really need to give up in order to be more alive in God and more aware of Christ’s transformation and aliveness in us? Following today’s reading from Matthew, I would much rather give up worry and anxiety for Lent than chocolate. For most certainly those things cause us suffering and great distraction. The interesting thing about anxiety is that is usually generated by our alarm system. And our alarm system is almost always activated by a felt, real or anticipated sense of separation. That’s really important to remember. My alarm system may be ringing because, I’ve just lost a loved one and I am feeling that separation. But it may be that my experience of loss is triggering alarm in the relationships I have with my loved ones, as if the sudden awareness of my mortality frightens me with the real or anticipated sense of what that means for all those around me that I love so much. Or maybe, there’s a move coming up with one of our children, or grandchildren. Human beings are designed to be together, in relationship. This trait is hardwired by nature into us and all mammals. It boils down to a matter of survival. We need each other to live. And so it can be argued that the greatest sense of aliveness exists in being together. Facing separation flies in the face of that deep human need of togetherness and cause us to feel anxious. When we pause long enough to capture some of the essence of what Jesus is teaching his people about anxiety, we begin to understand that this was a very alarming time.
  Date: Sunday, February 28, 2016       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 21 mins 45 secs    
Passage: Matthew 5:17-48    
  Description: Some scriptures are just difficult to read. We cringe when we hear words like those spoken by Jesus in today’s passage: “I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 5:32) The reality is that there are lots of divorced and re-married people in this congregation, and reading this scripture out loud in worship (two weeks in a row) is actually quite embarrassing. Neither I, not anyone else here, wants to wag a finger at anyone else in this congregation and say, “Naughty, naughty.” We are here to love and support one another. We all understand that there are very profound & usually painful reasons for divorce, as well as much delight & joy that can come in marrying again & having someone with whom to share life’s journey. So do we just ignore or skip over such scriptures in the name of lovingkindness? Do we say, “Jesus didn’t really know what he was talking about?” Yet, we have committed this year to taking the Bible seriously; not literally, but seriously. So we’re going to dive into the deep end, and consider what Jesus says about anger, adultery, retaliation and enemies and yes, even divorce. Seriously!! Consider that the first people, who listened to Jesus, would have felt just as uncomfortable with what Jesus was saying as we do.



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