High River United Church of High River, Alberta
     

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  Date: Sunday, April 21, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 11 mins 44 secs    
Passage: Luke 24:1-12    
  Description: For the rest of the world, I suspect the first day of the week after the crucifixion of Jesus unfolded normally. The sun came up. The Roman government continued to rule, perhaps relieved that any remaining followers of Jesus were dispersed and the movement fractured. There was after all a certain price for pax romana so that the status quo could remain intact. Life carried on… Except… according to the gospel of Luke, a mystery was unfolding, dismissed at first as an idle tale until, the facts were confirmed by more than one observation that the tomb where they laid Jesus was empty. These reports were confirmed. The body of Jesus was not there and instead two men in dazzling white clothes stood by the tomb and rather flatly asked why Mary, Johanna and Mary Magdalene were looking for Jesus among the dead. He is not here, said the ones in dazzling white. He is risen. “Remember how he told you that, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words. (Lk.24: 6-8)
  Date: Sunday, April 07, 2019       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 19 mins 53 secs    
  Description: One of the greatest misconceptions that we human beings face, is the illusion that we are in control of everything. We can be pretty good at sustaining that illusion especially if we have money, power and privilege because those things buffer us against the otherwise harsh reality that we are subject to forces greater than us, like weather and mortality, random acts of violence, tragedy of any form, or the uninvited presence of malintent or evil. When any one of these things strike our illusory sense that we can control anything, we are thrown into crisis. We are fraught with trying to make sense out of why bad things happen to good people. Why did disaster hit my house, when I’m a good person and I pray everyday? Why didn’t God protect me from chaos and ruin? Suddenly all the buffers that we have installed to keep us and our existence safe, fail. And we are at a loss.
  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 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, 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: 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 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 11, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 18 mins 13 secs    
  Description: A reflection on the meaning of the communion meal, and of remembrance.
  Date: Sunday, October 28, 2018       Teacher: Rev. David L.S. Robertson     Duration: 15 mins 31 secs    
  Description: Let’s hear that passage again as it appears in The Message as a way of sharpening our ears helping us reframe how we might approach the words of the writer of II Timothy. There is so much in today’s reading for us—especially as we consider our relationship with the Bible. Sitting with these words of II Timothy, I was struck by the word inspire (which you heard in the NRS Version read by Sarah). Literally it means to breathe into. I very much like the way The Message says that “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed…” (The Message, II Timothy 3:16, P. 1647). Scripture is inspired with God’s breath which makes the words live and further inspire the reader. And in all of that, says the writer of II Timothy, scripture is deemed useful for teaching, showing us truth, correcting our mistakes so that we may be proficient and equipped for every good work—training us to live in God’s way. No where does it say take the words literally. In fact, to do that diminishes the spirit and the power of God-breathed words. We receive inspiration from the Bible’s scriptures as a way of knowing truth and wisdom and expanding our awareness of the Divine. When we approach the Scriptures, we are approaching God-breathed words that serve to express the compassion and wisdom of God toward us. Beautiful. And then, according to our Methodist heritage we lay alongside scripture the gifts of tradition, reason and experience. Those three additional practices help us temper our relationship with scriptures so as to keep our discernment spacious, wise and grounded. This helps us see through unscrupulous con men who exploit the faith. Consider for example, May 30, 2018 - A US televangelist has asked his followers to help fund his fourth private jet - because Jesus "wouldn't be riding a donkey". Jesse Duplantis said God had told him to buy a Falcoln 7X for $54m ($72m CDN) That way, he could fly non-stop and avoid exorbitant landing fees... You may have other examples in your mind. As the words of II Timothy are so bold to say, [Unscrupulous con men are] as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse. But, says the writer of Timothy, don’t let it faze you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another… (NRSV/The Message).

 

 


Spiritual Meditation
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Spiritual Meditation Group Sunday, July 21st (3rd Sunday) 12:15 - 1:15 pm, in the High River...
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Kung Fu - an opportunity for you!
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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

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