December 20, 2019
I was trying to figure out a way to explain our Christmas service to some very young children. I realized that what we do in church to celebrate our Faith in Jesus is the same as what we do at a child’s birthday party. We invite their friends and family to gather for a meal and celebrate the child’s birth. Christ’s Mass – the first Mass or Holy Communion service of Christmas has all the same elements:
1. We invite friends and family to gather
2. We talk about the person
3. We renew relationships, sing, pray have special food
4. We go home with a special gift
1. We invite our friends and family to gather
December 17, 2019
Opening Prayer, Introduction
Christmas, Easter and Pentecost are the most important festivals in the Christian year of teachings. At Christmas we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus as the coming of God into the world. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as a sign of our own resurrection. On Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit of Jesus being poured out on all believers.
Christmas is preceded by the four Sundays of Advent during which Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus. Our first reading from Isaiah is a prophecy – words given to Isaiah directly from God over 500 years before the birth of Jesus. The part we read is the good news in a book that is mostly a warning to the people of Israel to turn from their rebellious and sinful ways. They ignored this warning and were overrun by other nations including Babylon and many were taken into captivity for 40 years. This prophecy gave those in exile – and us, hope of a better future.
November 14, 2019
In the Gospel Reading (Luke 21.5-19) Jesus is asked about the End Times. He gives a warning about false teachers and persecution. The Good News is that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen believers so they can overcome both false teachers and persecution. This helps us grow spiritually.
1. Our lives on Earth are a time of spiritual testing and growth
November 12, 2019
A normally very quiet and spiritual woman at our prayer group suddenly blurted our "He's an A..hole" We all laughed and nodded in agreement. Then the Holy Spirit managed to get a word in. Our leader said "I think we should pray for Don Cherry." There was a bit of confusion as we all pried our minds off judgmental ism and onto spiritual things. The result was the realization that judgment and negative thinking is always spiritually destructive to everyone. We also realized that all of us are racist to a lesser or greater degree. We all need to repent, ask Jesus to bear our sin and give us forgiveness to free us from this bondage. On deeper reflection I saw the good news that always comes out of the bad news. Don Cherry is like Archie Bunker who helped a whole generation see how ridiculous, foolish and hilarious racism and bigotry looks to others. He used the power of love and humour to overcome the hidden fear and insecurity that drives racism. I don't know Don Cherry, but Jesus does and whether he did it accidentally or deliberately, Jesus still loves him and will thank him for showing us how unforgiving we are and how foolish and ridiculous bigotry and racism is in Canada. We love you, we thank you and we pray for you Don.
October 17, 2019
The Readings call us to repent our collective failure as a church to proclaim the historic Gospel and to persist like the widow and Timothy in teaching the Faith that was handed down to us. We need to recognize our place as a Church that has been marginalized and in effect exiled as irrelevant to the culture. Like the Hebrews in exile we need to call on our leadership to repent and be more persistent in proclaiming and sharing our historical Faith.
1. The widow refused to give up in her quest for justice
September 27, 2019
General Outline of Sessions:
· Opening Prayer
· Readings and questions for discussion
· Closing Prayer and Prayer requests (daily bread)
· Time for personal conversation and private prayer
(Mt. 6.9-13 NIV 2013)
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your Kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
And for give us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one
1. Teach Us To Pray
Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. They were all devout Jews and the Jews were a praying people. Everyone believed in God and believed God heard each individual prayer.
September 20, 2019
For What I Received I Passed On To You (1 Cor. 15.3)
(Men’s Cursillo Verse Oct. 2019)
Our mission on this Cursillo is to pass on to others what we have received. This includes both head knowledge and personal experience. The most important take-away from Cursillo is a life-changing experience of Christian community and witness. The experience itself verifies the teaching. This is the pattern of the Bible:
· Jesus performed a miraculous healing – then he gave a teaching
· We are all sceptics – need to see it or experience it ourselves
· Weekend is a series of experiences and teachings
· Experiences and teachings go deeper and deeper as the weekend progresses
1. What was it Paul experienced?
September 14, 2019
We are like the lost sheep that has been found. Someone has reached out to us at various times in our lives to re-connect us to the church and inclusion in God’s Kingdom on Earth. We have found meaning, purpose and a new spiritual life of joy in Jesus. The Readings challenge us to get up, go out, find and bring others home to Jesus. They teach us how to do this by:
· Being Discerning but not judgemental
· Being Loving, patient and forgiving
· Being Courageous in outreach
· Remembering apathy is a failure to love our neighbour
1. Being Discerning but not Judgemental
Jesus is giving a stinging rebuke to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in the parable of the lost Sheep:
August 24, 2019
The Luke reading (13.10-17) reminds us that Jesus mission to proclaim the good news, open the eyes of the blind and free the prisoners includes freeing those “crippled by a spirit” (v 11). Sadly many in our time do not believe in spiritual warfare and would interpret this as a psychological problem or victory over superstition. One has to be blind spiritually, another form of bondage, to miss the clear meaning of “whom Satan has kept bound for 18 years” (v 16). Other forms of bondage mentioned in the readings are:
- Fear that almost prevented Jeremiah (1.6) from accepting his call to be a prophet
- Legalism that criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabath
- Religious spirit that prevented the Pharisees and teachers from seeing the love of God
July 20, 2019
The desire of Gods’ heart is a personal love relationship with each individual. To achieve this God had to give us free will. Love is a choice, so we had to have the ability to choose not to love Him. The readings remind us of the importance of making the right choices and the Good News that God created a new way back into right relationship through the new Covenant of Jesus.
1. Amos (8.1-12) reminds us we can loose our relationship with God
at 4:01 PM
July 18, 2019
It is sad that after 30 years of divisive debate and political pressuring our new Anglican Primate (senior Archbishop) Linda Nichols’ first comment on the defeat of the proposed change to the Marriage Cannon (church law) at General Synod was that the voting rules should be changed. It is not leadership to change the rules when you do not get your way. We have had a long and destructive debate between those who thought we could go against the clear teaching of the Bible and offer the sacramentof Holy Matrimonyto same-sex couples and those who did not. It has sidetracked the church from proclaiming the biblical Good News of forgiveness, healing and spiritual life in Jesus Christ to a whole generation, particularly to children and young people.
Real leaders have the courage to change course when the direction is not working.
June 17, 2019
The Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one of the great mysteries – but then do we really think we can understand God? The Trinity is the best explanation available as it describes three ways of thinking of God as a person – God the father / creator, Jesus the redeemer / human sign of God’s love and Holy Spirit as life-giver / sanctifier. The Bible and the church year in liturgical churches generally begins with God as father and the Holy Spirit as witness and helper in the Old Testament and moves to the birth and teaching / healing work of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus promises to sent the Holy Spirit after His sacrificial death and resurrection have created a new way for people to be forgiven and come into a right relationship with God. The church season of Pentecost which begins 40 days after the Ascension celebrates the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Christian believers. This season is the longest, and possibly most important time in the church year as it continues from June to the end of the church year in October. The Holy Spirit plays a central part in the growth and expansion of the church in Acts and the letters of Paul as teacher, life - giver / sanctifier, guide in decision making and helper / healer. We will examine what the Bible says about:
· Who is the Holy Spirit?
· What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
· How can I experience the Holy Spirit?
at 9:06 AM
May 18, 2019
1. “When he (Judas) was gone” (John 13.31)
So easily we slip over apparently unimportant words. Big mistake. Every word in the Bible is there for a reason.
at 5:07 PM
April 17, 2019
There are three huge questions:
- Can we really believe the Good News of Reconciliation?
- What does the Good News of Reconciliation mean?
- How do we apply the Good News in this Church?
1. Can we really believe the Good News of Easter?
The Good News of Easter is that God raised Jesus from physical death to authenticate all Jesus teachings and to create a new way for individuals to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Forgiveness removes the sin guilt that separates us from God, creates a holy place in us for the Holy Spirit and enables our soul to live on with God after our body dies. Many people have trouble with the miraculous and tend to dismiss the Resurrection – and its’ implications for salvation as myth. How do we know this is not a myth?
April 6, 2019
(Workshop at Better Books & Bibles 636-16 Ave. NW, April 6, 2019)
We all hunger for forgiveness and a right relationship with God and our neighbour that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. The good news of Christianity is that Jesus sacrificial death on the Cross created a new way to forgiveness and freedom from the guilt and shame that burdens our lives and separates us from right relationship with God and others. Anglican worship includes a general confession which we can use to ask for forgiveness - but sometimes it is hard to quickly identify our sins.
I discovered my own approach at a retreat. I was alone in my room with three hours assigned to conduct a self-examination before my personal confession with a priest.. I prayed that wonderful prayer - HELP and received a word of knowledge that I should use the 10 Commandments as a guide. I developed 10 questions that would help me discover not if but in what specific ways I had broken each Commandment. I committed to three hours of prayer asking the Holy Spirit for guidance as I reviewed my life and filled at least one page with a written answer to each question
March 23, 2019
The Readings begin with Isaiah’s prophecy (55.1-9) calling people to repent, turn from their evil ways and seek the Lord. God is reaching out to them with the offer of forgiveness and free spiritual food that will satisfy their deepest needs. We all hunger for forgiveness and a right relationship with God and our neighbour that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. The 10 Commandments define our special covenant relationship with God:
- Covenant is like a marriage relationship
- Breaking any one condition ends the relationship
- God promises us love, spiritual protection, and eternal spiritual life - and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (after Jesus)
- We promise love and loyalty to God and our neighbour
- We begin our self-examination by spending at least a half hour asking 10 questions that requires deep thought to find an example, however minor of our in-effect worshiping other gods - i.e. hockey, money, power, sex, popularity (self)
February 16, 2019
Our sixth Epiphany moment is discovering that Jesus was promising life after death to those who trust in him. This is a new idea - especially for Christians who think they can earn their way into heaven by good behaviour, going to the right church or knowing the right doctrine. Isaiah describes those who trust in man as “cursed” as opposed to those who trust in God as “Blessed” (17.7). The Luke reading is Jesus’ deeper teaching on how things are different in the spiritual Kingdom of God where the poor are blessed and the rich may be condemned and excluded. The question is the priorities of our heart or soul.
1. Jeremiah says “the heart is deceitful above all things” (17.9).
Many people deceive themselves into thinking that because they live a good life that is enough.