High River United Church of High River, Alberta

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  Date: Sunday, March 24, 2019       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 10 mins 8 secs    
Passage: Luke 11:1-9    
  Description: Rev. Susan & Rev David have an interactive conversation using the Lord's Prayer. This is a slight adaptation of a script that is found in various places on the internet, with many different authors taking credit for it.
  Date: Sunday, March 17, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 18 mins 41 secs    
  Description: You are what you pray. According to our HRUC prayer guide, half our plate should have equal portions of “help” and “thanks” while the other half is a full portion of “wow”. Help, Thanks, Wow! For a healthy prayer diet, these are the portions our prayer guide suggests. And this is how we invite you to imagine your prayer diet through our season of Lent and certainly, beyond. One of the best ways to explore what a healthy prayer diet would look like is to delve into the Psalms. The Psalms really are the prayer book of the Bible. The writers of the Psalms are always what they pray. And as a whole, the collection of Psalms demonstrates the prayer guide beautifully with the right portions of help, thanks and wow. Today we have two Psalms back to back that help us see our prayer guide at work. Psalm 28 has equal portions of help and thanks. Psalm 29 is all about wow. Psalm 28 begins with words of help and supplication. The words are so profoundly human as the Psalmists hands are outstretched and lifted up, open to the healing and comfort of God. The psalmist prays to be spared the pit of silence and separation from the voice of God and to be reunited with God’s assuring presence where God’s loving voice can be heard. We’ve all been in this place. We’ve all prayed our supplications for God’s help within the sound of God’s voice. We’ve all experienced the desperation, the silence, and the pain of suffering. We take all that is inside us and externalize it into prayers of help. This is where most of our prayers begin. We have perhaps, no where else to turn, except to voice a prayer-filled SOS.
  Date: Sunday, March 10, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 13 mins 5 secs    
  Description: I remember as a child kneeling by the side of my bed to pray. I don’t remember what I prayed, but I remember sometimes falling asleep as I knelt there, letting my head sink down into the comfort of both the bed and the prayers. What is prayer? What does it mean to pray? Why did Jesus go off by himself so often to pray? How do we pray? Those are the topics that we’ll be exploring through the season of Lent. And that’s what got me thinking about my childhood prayers. I remember them as comforting – prayer cradled me as a child, and it still does. Martin Luther, who began the Protestant reformation, was a person of prayer. I love the two quotes from him that are printed in the bulletin: To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. Martin Luther I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer. Martin Luther Now I can’t say that I spend the first three hours of my day in prayer, but I know what he means – to be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. Prayer is what shapes us as Christians. Prayer is what gives us our energy, our vision, and our hope as followers of Jesus. Prayer is what enables us to live the Way that Jesus taught. It is central to our daily life.
  Date: Sunday, March 03, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 13 mins 57 secs    
  Description: How does one hold Paul’s words of great boldness and hope on the one hand and deal with the way he disses Moses on the other hand? It’s challenging to come alongside such a difficult text. And what is Paul referring to when he mentions Moses’s veil? How could anyone use the name of Moses negatively when comparing examples of the mystery of God at work? Paul’s words in II Corinthians seem to contradict the Gospel of Luke where Elijah, Moses and Jesus appear together in order to convey that profound connection between the message of Jesus and the traditions of the Jewish faith—the story of the transfiguration links the lineage of tradition and faith between the teachings of Jesus and the history Judaism. Huge hope here, great boldness in the gospel message. But Paul seems to struggle as he tries to effectively convey the same hope in his second letter to the Corinthians. Something is stuck for Paul. Let’s clarify Paul’s reference to the veil over Moses’ face. This story originates in Exodus Chapter 34. It’s a curious story. After Moses comes away from his encounter with God, the skin on his face shone because he had been talking with God (Ex.34:29). The people were quite fearful of this. So, after Moses finished speaking with his people, he put a veil over his face until the next time he went to speak with God when he would remove the veil. The veil is as way of mitigating the powerful effects of being in the presence of God. It softens the glow in order to make Moses’ face tolerable in the presence of his people. More generally, the veil also serves a symbolic role as that which mediates and separates the divine realm from the earthly realm. Consider for example the veil that is torn in the temple at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul however does not speak kindly of the Moses’ veil or perhaps wisely. But I think I understand what he was trying to say.
  Date: Sunday, February 24, 2019       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 9 mins 30 secs    
  Description: Rev. Susan & Rev. David have a conversation about the spiritual practice of gratitude. Gratitude is a radical practice in our current North American society. Gratitude is a practice that can help us through times of stress and anxiety.
  Date: Sunday, February 17, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 16 mins 41 secs    
  Description: Christians. Disciples. Believers. Followers of the Way. Saints. These are all terms that were used by the followers of Jesus in the first century, terms that we still use to this day. But what does it mean to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, a follower of the Way or even one of the saints? When you think of your faith, how do you name yourself?... So whether we call ourselves Christians, believers, disciples, followers of the Way or saints, the attributes that people should most notice in us are these two: radical inclusiveness and radical generousity. The sad thing is that Christian has come to be associated with something other than inclusiveness. The term Christian has become linked with judgement, with exclusion of certain groups of people, with moral pronouncements that lack compassion and understanding. I am not sure that non-Christians would look at Christians, in general, today and immediately say, “Those are the people who are radically inclusive and radically generous. They welcome everyone and they are always ready to share what they have with anyone in need.” I’m not sure that that is how others would define those of us who call ourselves Christian today. I tend to hear words such as hypocrites, judgmental, old-fashioned, and irrelevant. Or perhaps worse is that we aren’t seen as any different than anyone else in our society – nothing makes us stand out as Christians. Yes, we are to be humble, and not make a show of being Christian. But how do we, with our words and actions, show radical inclusiveness and radical generousity?
  Date: Sunday, February 03, 2019       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 16 mins 2 secs    
  Description: It’s not about the goats. Yes, I entitled the sermon, “Why doesn’t Jesus like goats?” but it’s not about the goats, and it’s not about the sheep, though I will explain the sheep and goats later. But if it is not about the sheep and the goats, then what exactly is this parable about? Let’s consider the actors in this parable. We have the sheep and the goats, yes, and Jesus telling the story, but very quickly the scene morphs from pasture to throne room, and we have a king addressing the people on his right and the people on his left. Finally, we have one more group of people, referred to as “the least of these,” really meaning “a single one” Now typically the way this parable has been interpreted is to consider the people on the right as the followers of Jesus, the good Christians who care for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, and the prisoners. This makes the people on the left the bad people, who do nothing for others and who don’t recognize Jesus in any form. There is a lesson to be learned from that interpretation. The king, who is understood to be Jesus, the Son of Man, states, “When you helped one of the least of these, even a single one, who are members of my family, you have helped me.” It is both a challenging and an instructive statement. When we look into the eyes of another, we are seeing Jesus. When we help another, those who are in need in some way, then it is the same as helping Jesus. And that is an amazing thing – and a challenging thing! I’m not sure that I look at every person I meet as if they are Jesus. I’m not sure that I help every person I meet as if it was Jesus there before me. It is so easy to judge, make assumptions, and jump to conclusions.
  Date: Sunday, January 27, 2019       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 10 mins 20 secs    
  Description: Rev. David & Rev. Susan have a conversation about the core values of High River United Church - Compassion, Diversity, Respect and Courage, and how all four of those values are seen in the story of the Good Samaritan.
  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.



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

(403) 652-3168


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