High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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  Date: Sunday, April 30, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 22 mins 37 secs    
  Description: Guess who’s coming to dinner? That’s going to be our theme for worship this spring and, yes, I borrowed it from the 1967 movie. When Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released on December 11, 1967 it caused shock waves. A white woman brings home her fiancé to introduce to her parents. As open and accepting as they thought they were, the parents struggle when the fiancé walks through the door. He is African-American (played by Sidney Poitier) – and in the 60’s (even 70’s) it was still hard for people to get their minds around the idea of marriage between blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, Jewish and Christian. While we, in 2017, might chuckle at how that was possible, at how that was shocking, the reality is that we have our own versions of the same dividing lines that we find hard to cross. And, it seems that that is an age-old struggle because Jesus told one of his parables just about this kind of situation, the parable of the good Samaritan. We’ve used this parable several times this year, because I think it really speaks to what we need to be about as followers of Jesus in our time and context. This was a hard-hitting parable for those who first heard it from Jesus. They would have been as shocked by his words as were people in 1967 when the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was released showing a successful inter-racial marriage and the first inter-racial kiss on screen (even though it was seen only through a rear-view mirror image). Why was the parable of the Good Samaritan shocking? We’ve lost the cultural sense of this parable. It’s been made into a nice parable about a good neighbour and used to remind us that we should not be like those bad, bad people who crossed the road and ignored the injured fellow. We have “Good Samaritan” legislation in most provinces of Canada that protects passers-by who stop to help. It is all very nice and good when we talk about the Good Samaritan. But, those listening to Jesus tell this parable would have been very uncomfortable by the time he finished, squirming in their seats, not totally sure about how to take his words. The young lawyer (a student of Jewish law) got more than he bargained for in the answer Jesus gave. He and Jesus had agreed that the greatest commandment was “Love God, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.” Then, in good Jewish scholarly debate fashion, the young lawyer asked Jesus the question that would bring nuance and understanding. “Who is my neighbour?” Good question. If I am to love my neighbour, then I need to know who my neighbour is. If I have the definition clear in my mind, then I can judge which people I have to love and which ones I can disregard. But Jesus turns the tables on the young lawyer by telling this parable, and concluding with the words, “Go be the neighbour.” Be the neighbour.
  Date: Sunday, April 23, 2017       Teacher: Bob Gibennus     Duration: 21 mins 41 secs    
  Description: Guest preacher: Bob Gibennus
  Date: Sunday, April 16, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 22 mins 14 secs    
  Description: Jesus the master says, “Go yonder angel and fetch a long white robe, a pair of shoes and a golden waistband. Place the shoes on my servant’s feet and place the golden waist band upon my servant’s waist”. Then to the servant, Jesus says “sit down”. But I can’t sit down. My soul’s so happy that I can’t sit down! After years of hard labour, Jesus meets the slave and commands the them to sit down, put their feet up, enjoy new shoes, enjoy a golden waistband (which were unattainable luxuries), sit down and rest. But the labourer can’t. My soul’s so happy that I can’t sit down!” This seems so apt for Easter Sunday. Because the promise of resurrection is that God is with us no matter how hard the labour. We can rest in that promise. We don’t have to work for this promise. All we need to do is accept it, trust it, and rest in God’s unconditional love. But this truth is so exciting that it’s hard to sit down. The joy of resurrection, the joy of new shoes on the aching feet of a poor labourer is beyond imagination. Understood in the context of oppression and slavery, we can see why the kingdom of God is so rich with promise, and freedom and rest. There’s no way the servant can sit down in the presence of the soul’s utter joy. As I look around our community, I see us all working so hard. I see tired mom’s and dad’s managing so many needs. I see people stressed by unemployment. I see loving partners working hard to take care of their spouse through failing health. I see children and youth being over scheduled without enough time to play—adults too. I still see busyness as a mark of self-purpose. I see us slowly finding our selves after having been lost in the disaster. I wonder what our equivalent to new shoes and a golden waist band might be? What does the good news of Easter mean to us and how might that mean physical, mental and spiritual rest to us in such a way that our soul is so happy that we can’t, we just can’t sit down? Easter joy is soul joy
  Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 23 mins 12 secs    
  Description: This is the first part of the recording of most of the service in which the children dramatized the story of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. (Look for Part 2 below) Palm Sunday conversations were the way we imagined street corner conversations in Jerusalem. The African American spiritual, "Were you there?" formed the inspiration for these conversations and was played on flute by Rev. David after every conversation.
  Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 23 mins 12 secs    
  Description: This is the second part of the recording of most of the service in which the children dramatized the story of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. (Look for Part 1 above) Palm Sunday conversations were the way we imagined street corner conversations in Jerusalem. The African American spiritual, "Were you there?" formed the inspiration for these conversations and was played on flute by Rev. David after every conversation.
  Date: Sunday, April 02, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 17 mins 39 secs    
  Description: Jesus always found a way to twist and turn a phrase in order to help his followers learn. This is what parables do best and why I think Jesus used them a lot. The parable of the good Samaritan is a great example of Jesus’ teaching tactics. Honestly, the lawyer answers well. He knows the law and he knows that the heart of the law is to, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.” The whole transaction would have sufficed right there if the lawyer hadn’t fallen into his need to be clever. But Jesus entertains the lawyer’s coy approach and digs in. He goes after the definition of neighbour and advances it. I’m not sure it was the answer that the lawyer expected. He would have expected: love the neighbours that you know, that bring casseroles when you’re sick, that look like you, that make the same amount of money, that are members of the firm. I think the parable about the Samaritan would have surprised the lawyer quite a bit, because the most respected ones in this parable are the least effective and least helpful. The one who showed mercy is the one least trusted and the furthest away from being liked. Strangers and neighbours, respected ones and disrespected ones are all mixed up in this story. I imagine the lawyer having to reconfigure his thinking as he walks away from this exchange with Jesus. It is a very human thing to distrust differences and fear what we don’t know or understand. In the early stages of our development as humans, these traits served human survival. Embedded in our human DNA like all creatures, is a cautionary gene that serves up distrust and fear in the presence of danger or the unknown. This gene is normal and is designed to move us to caution so that we stay safe. Makes sense. This gene helps us navigate the dangers of life whether that be cross walks, grizzly bears, dark alleys, and lightning storms. It helps us be cautionary and reduce the risk of danger. It’s a good thing. It helps us survive and evolve. The shadow side of this cautionary gene is that it spawns fear between humans. The worst expression of this fear leads to genocide and war. It still does. However, now we are globalized and never before have humans had so much capacity to move around the planet bringing with them culinary, dietary, cultural, social and spiritual practices. This also creates numerous fears around immigration and economics that give rise to racism and populist politics. It seems we can’t help ourselves. The cautionary gene is powerful.
  Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 27 mins 16 secs    
  Description: Rev. Susan answers questions about what the United Church believes, why we understand scripture the way we do, what our view on Medically Assistance in Dying is, and gives some history of the United Church of Canada.
  Date: Sunday, March 19, 2017       Teacher: Revs. Susan/David     Duration: 25 mins 15 secs    
  Description: Rev. Susan & Rev. David speak about what it means to follow the Way of Jesus, the challenges, the joys, and the compelling nature of Jesus' command to love neighbour, stranger and enemy. They explore what being born again means from a United Church point of view (it's not a one time event), and talk about salvation - which means healing and wholeness. Jesus says to the disciples, "I will make you fish for people." How are we reeled in by God's love and how do we go out to share God's love and reel others in?
  Date: Sunday, March 12, 2017       Teacher: Rev. Susan Lukey     Duration: 24 mins 7 secs    
  Description: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…. On Easter Sunday each year, there are an estimated 2 billion people who pray the Lord’s Prayer, rolling out across the time zones, through churches of every Christian denomination and in hundreds of languages. Every Sunday, time zone by time zone, the Lord’s Prayer is said over and over again, enfolding the whole earth in the words of hope and love expressed in this prayer. Through the course of Christian history, as Christianity has spread around the world, typically the first text to be translated into the language of the region has been be the Lord’s Prayer, long before the whole Bible was translated. When we pray together the Lord’s Prayer in this sanctuary each Sunday, I hear far more voices than can be accounted for by the people present. I believe that it is the communion of saints who join us, all the past generations who have gathered on this spot, their voices echoing with us the words taught by Jesus and repeated so many times in this place, as well as around the world. The Lord’s Prayer it is called, shared by Jesus in response to the disciples’ query, “Lord, teach us to pray….” It is very Jewish in many ways, reflecting the Jewishness of Jesus, his upbringing, his faith tradition. Various of the prayer’s lines are found scattered through Jewish prayers. An evening prayer said in some Jewish communities shares the familiar lines: “Our God in heaven, hallow thy name, and establish thy kingdom forever, and rule over us for ever and ever. Amen.” At the same time, it is very much the prayer of the Christian community. Prayed daily by many, by some countless times daily. Shared across denominations, continents & centuries. Meditated upon.Preached upon. Prayed by rote, day by day. Prayed by rote – by memory. And sometimes we say it so automatically that we don’t always think of the words. Is that bad? Not really. I think that the act of praying together, of letting ourselves be lost in the prayer, also serves a purpose of filling our souls and connecting us with God and with the Christian community. Yet there are times when we need to stop and think about what we’re praying. That’s what we’re going to do today.
  Date: Sunday, March 05, 2017       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 25 mins 32 secs    
  Description: Annie Dillard a well known American writer once said, “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? ….It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” I first encountered these words several years ago, and I’m still pondering them. Do we have the foggiest idea of the power we so blithely invoke? Or, that the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return? Crash helmets and life preservers, indeed. But it was exactly this quote that came to mind as I set before me the task of walking around the significance of the cross in the Christian faith. To consider the cross is an invitation to enter a hard-hat zone because it involves life and death. We might want to hold on tight. We might want to prepare for the very real possibility that we will not return to our life as we know it because where those two beams intersect is the epicenter of God’s transforming power. Let me be clear. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can sanitize and domesticate this power in order to feel good about ourselves and avoid the real wood and nails of its significance. The cross was one of the most brutal and public forms of Roman torture and execution. It was used to send powerful signals to anyone or any group that opposed Rome or was perceived as a threat. It was designed to quell any hint of revolution. Rome’s strategy was to take out the leaders of such groups. Jesus was believed to be a danger to Roman peace (pax romana).

 

 


Winter Solstice 2018 Labyrinth Walk
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For those who appreciate walking the labyrinth, as a way to focus your prayers, to calm your...
Experiencing Grief, Depression or Loneliness this Holiday Season
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Thanks to the High River Downtown Businesses!
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Don't Forget to join us for Games Night
Created On Thursday, 15 November 2018
Board games, card games, role-playing games and more. Bring your own or play one we have...

 

SUNDAY MORNINGS @ 10AM

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

(403) 652-3168

office@highriverunitedchurch.org

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