Friday, June 23, 2017

Upcoming events June 26th to July 2nd, 2017

Upcoming events - week of June 26th to July 2nd  
June 26th, 2017
Office is closed
June 27th, 2017 
11:00am  Holy Communion @ Rutherford Retirement Residence
June 28th, 2017 
7:15pm  Vestry meeting (brief) & Ministry Planning discussion @ church
July 2nd, 2017 (Pentecost 4)
9:00am  Holy Communion
9:45am  Combined coffee hour
10:30am  Holy Communion 

 Tim is back from vacation on Tuesday June 27th.

Please join us on Wednesday June 28th at 7:15pm for our next Ministry Planning discussion. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer and we hope that many of you can come to help plan for the future ministry of our parish. If you have any questions, please contact Melanie at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com

We are collecting small (new) items/toys to fill the treasure chest that we donated to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Each time the children have to have a needle they get to pick a ‘prize’ from the treasure chest. There is a box at the front of the church to collect any items you may bring.

June 25th is the last Sunday School class until September. We wish the kids and their families a wonderful summer vacation.

During your travels this spring/summer, if you visit another church, please bring back the bulletin with you and post it on our “Summer Travels” bulletin board in the front foyer of the church. It’s always fun to see where people have been!

Please check out our monthly announcement sheet for more upcoming events. If you have not received a copy or have changed your email address, please update your email with Tim or Melanie. Extra copies are available on the table at the back of the church.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Roster for July 2017

Coffee between services
Greeter/Sidespeople: B. Cavey / T. Wittkopf
Counter: B. Cavey / E. McFall
Reader: M. Rys
(Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23)
Lay Administrants: M. Rys / D. MacNeill
Intercessor: S. Jayakaran
Lay Reader: D. MacNeill (Matthew 10:40-42)
Altar Guild (Green): P. Major / A. Shutt
Kitchen (9:45): J. Johnson
Music: M. Chesterton

July 9th (Pentecost 5)
Greeter/Sidespeople: Aasens
Counter: M. Cromarty / C. Aasen
Reader: N. Gutteridge
(Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67, Psalm 45:11-18, Romans 7:15-25a)
Lay Administrants: M. Rys
Intercessor: M. Rys
Lay Reader: S. Jayakaran (Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Woytkiw / L. Pyra  
Kitchen: M. Rys
Music: M. Eriksen

July 16th (Pentecost 6)
Greeter/Sidespeople: T. Cromarty / M. Cromarty
Counter: M. Cromarty / E. McFall
Reader: T. Cromarty
(Genesis 25:19-34, Psalm 119:105-112, Romans 8:1-11)
Lay Administrants: T. Wittkopf
Intercessor: S. Jayakaran
Lay Reader: S. Jayakaran (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Lobreau / T. Wittkopf
Kitchen: Goodwins
Music: M. Chesterton

July 23rd (Pentecost 7)
Greeter/Sidespeople: Aasens
Counter: C. Aasen / M. Cromarty
Reader: D. Sanderson
(Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139;1-11, 22-23, Romans 8:12-25)
Lay Administrants: T. Wittkopf / D. MacNeill
Intercessor: T. Chesterton
Lay Reader: D. MacNeill  (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Altar Guild (Green): P. Major / T. Wittkopf
Kitchen: F. Chester
Music: M. Eriksen

July 30th (Pentecost 8)
Greeter/Sidespeople: L. Popp / T. Eriksen
Counter: B. Popp / S. Doyle
Reader: M. Rys
(Genesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, Romans 8:26-39)
Lay Administrants: M. Rys
Intercessor: D. Sanderson
Lay Reader: B. Popp (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Woytkiw / A. Shutt
Kitchen: E. McFall
Music: M. Eriksen














Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Dropping our Props" - a sermon by Sylvia Jayakaran June 18/17

Dropping our props: The faith journey
( Bible reading: Genesis 18:1-15, Genesis 21:1-7 )
Opening prayer: Dear heavenly father, as we join corporately in prayer lifting our eyes towards you, we ask that the Holy Spirit would please help us listen and discern your message, internalize them for everyday living and honor you by doing so. In Jesus name we pray – Amen.
Today’s bible reading from Genesis is from a story we all know too well. Usually sermons for this Genesis passage would center on the faith of Abraham and how he got Isaac as his blessing. Following God’s leading on what He wanted to be preached today, I have decided to preach about things that happened between Genesis chapter 18 and chapter 21 of today’s Bible reading. Hence my sermon is titled “Dropping our props: The faith journey”
After God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be blessed, there was a time period where both Abraham and his wife Sarah wondered how things could happen and how this promise can come to pass. Sarah, the problem solver of the family offered Hagar to Abraham. So while entering chapter 18 of our reading today, Abraham is 99 years old and already has a son called Ishmael through Hagar. It is at this juncture that the LORD decides to intervene and come visit him. Abraham is prudent enough to offer the visitors some fine dining after which one of the three visitors, who is later referenced as the LORD reiterates that Sarah will bear a child within the next year and that He would visit them again. Sarah laughs off such a prospect and doubts the feasibility of its occurrence.
Between the 18th and 21st chapters before the promise comes to pass, we see the discussion about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord helping Lot’s family escape from that carnage. We also see that there was a physical dislocation of Abraham’s family since he moved into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while Abraham & his family stayed in Gerar, which was ruled by King Abimelek. Fearing for his safety since there is no fear of God in that place, Abraham tries to present Sarah as his sister and God had to intervene and stop anything untoward from happening to her since it is through Sarah’s offspring that God’s plan would come to pass. Once Isaac was born, there was laughter in the household of Abraham. Sarah exclaims in chapter 21 “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
So how does this story relate to our modern day Christian walk of faith?  Well stay tuned - we are about to embark on some invigorating reminders that we all need in our journey of faith and hope.  We will examine the props that God had removed from Abraham and how it relates to modern day context.
1. God’s promises are extraordinary in nature and sometimes can be baffling to human intellect and reason. (Prop: Intellectual insight)
- When God promised Sarah that she will give birth to a son at her ripe old age, it baffles human understanding. But Genesis 21:1 says “the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised”.  As Christians in the current era, do we try to analyze, interpret and reason out whatever God places in our heart to do? Are we willing to step out in faith and do things when we clearly have no rational understanding of it in terms of next steps?
2. When God promises us something, it is important to remember that it will come to pass in God’s timing, not ours. (Prop: Instant gratification)
- Both Abraham and Sarah did not wait on God’s timing. While Abraham started his journey in faith, we can clearly see through these chapters how he faltered in faith since he had a hard time believing that the impossible was possible. Unlike us, Abraham knew God intimately and yet he had a hard time believing things during his faith journey. When you come across similar circumstances, know that it is OK to fail sometimes, but it important to recalibrate and look unto God for solutions that don’t exist in the natural.
3. When you walk in faith in the journey of hope, don’t try and help God by making your own solutions to the end-point. Our ways are not God’s ways. (Prop:  Need for control)
- I don’t know about you, but I am a terrific problem solver. It is my innate nature to do so and hence I can relate to Sarah’s thinking. Please understand Genesis in the middle- eastern context where women can face reproach if they can’t bear children for their husbands. The problem here is that Sarah went to extraordinary means to get someone else to bear a son since she was getting old and wondering what God could possibly do with her. So her faith is at an all-time low when these three visitors from Genesis 18 stopped by their tent and the LORD blessed her. She found it laughable since she confined the limitless God into her limited thinking.
4.  When you walk in faith, learn to see, listen and understand what God wants you to do. This is a discipline that comes by practice and obedience to God’s word. (Prop:  Careless living)
- Abraham had walked closely with God that he could discern that the LORD has come to meet him. He listens carefully to instructions provided to him and was comfortable talking to God. Between chapters 18 and 21 you can see him bargaining with God in regards to Sodom. Talking to God seemed like an everyday human interaction. Abraham knew the majesty and goodness of God and was always keen to interact with Him. So be careful with how you interact with people that God places in your life as part of your Christian journey. Chances are you may interact with angels and messengers of God.
5. Sometimes in your faith journey, you may come across places where there is no fear of God and your faith is threatened.  (Prop: Fear of man)
-  We find in the story of Abraham that he had to stay for a while in Gerar, which was a place that had no fear of God. To circumvent his predicament and fearing for his life, Abraham tells Abimelek the king that Sarah was his sister. God had to intervene with Abimilek in order to deal with the unnecessary situation that was created by Abraham.  In our Christian journey of faith, we will encounter places that are fearful and unfamiliar. Be sure to trust in the sovereign God, not in your abilities to problem solve due to the fear of men that surround you. The fear of God is much more important than the fear of man in our Christian walk of faith.
6. Sometimes God may ask you to move away from your place of familiarity before you walk into His blessing. (Prop: Stability)
- In Abraham’s story, we find that he moved places and lived in tents. Yet he was affluent enough to offer visitors fine dining at his place of living. He seemed to have a stable living. Before he got his blessing he had moved from stability to unfamiliarity, encountered heart break with relatives (Lot’s family), then moved to the Negev region between Kadesh and Shur. While in transit to these unfamiliar places, he also encountered King Abimelek. In these Genesis passages, Abraham seemed like a willing participant when God asked him to move places and we see clearly some of them were quite threatening to exist. Today as Christians, do we like to offer our services to God only from a place of stability? How accommodative are we when God calls us to unfamiliar terrain to get our blessing? Just ruminate privately and let it sink in.
7. Always remember that God is bigger than every problem that comes your way. He never said we have to walk this journey alone by ourselves. (Prop: Self-pity)
- Both Abraham and Sarah loved to manipulate the outcome and help God with His plan for their lives. While they had a close encounter with God, they still sometimes missed their mark in asking for God’s help to encounter situations that seemed impossible to overcome. They seemed engrossed in their self-pity which invariably led them to do wrong things to solution towards God’s plan. We as Christians of today are sometimes no different than Abraham and Sarah. We try and fit God’s plan within our mini plans because we indulge in self-pity when things don’t go our way and fit within our expectations.
8. Don’t feel comfortable and imagine that worldly things will keep you stable when God calls you to do the extraordinary. (Prop: Self-reliance)
-  There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Don’t get too comfortable thinking that you can pre-empt the next step that God would take in your life. When you do that, God will pull the props from under you until you realize that He is in control and not you. Extraordinary promises come to pass through a conscientious understanding that God is in control every step of the way.

While Abraham transitioned from promise to fulfillment of his blessing he had to drop all these props described above. In our Christian journey of faith and hope, what are the props that God has asked every one of us to drop so that we rely on Him unconditionally for the outcome?  I know that I had to leave my personal comfort zone just waiting on God for His guidance to write this sermon. Ask Him privately in prayer on props that you need to drop in your Christian walk. May the Holy Spirit guide you in this journey of faith just like He did for Abraham and Sarah. When you do so, you will laugh when you are blessed and the world will laugh with you because they will know that is not you but God who did it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Upcoming events June 19th to 25th, 2017

Upcoming events - week of June 19th to June 25th

Tim is on vacation
June 19th, 2017
Office is closed
June 25th, 2017 (Pentecost 3)
Services will be led by The Rev. Scott Sharman
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am  Holy Communion & Sunday School

Tim is returning from vacation on Tuesday June 27th. Services of Holy Communion on June 25th will be led by The Rev. Scott Sharman. Melanie will still be available during regular office hours of Tuesday to Friday from 9am to noon, however the door will be locked so if you want to stop by please call ahead; 780-437-7231.

Please join us on Wednesday June 28th at 7:15pm for our next Ministry Planning discussion. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer and we hope that many of you can come to help plan for the future ministry of our parish. If you have any questions, please contact Melanie at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com

We are collecting small (new) items/toys to fill the treasure chest that we donated to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Each time the children have to have a needle they get to pick a ‘prize’ from the treasure chest. There is a box at the front of the church to collect any items you may bring.

During your travels this spring/summer, if you visit another church, please bring back the bulletin with you and post it on our “Summer Travels” bulletin board in the front foyer of the church. It’s always fun to see where people have been!


Please check out our monthly announcement sheet for more upcoming events. If you have not received a copy or have changed your email address, please update your email with Tim or Melanie. Extra copies are available on the table at the back of the church.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Upcoming events June 12th - June 18th

Upcoming events - week of June 12th to June 18th

Tim is on vacation
June 12th, 2017
Office is closed
June 15th, 2017
11:30am Lunch Bunch @ church
June 17th, 2017
9:30am – 2:30pm Summer Camp volunteer training @ church
3:00pm  BBQ @ home of Lorne and Beryl Rice
June 18th, 2017 (Pentecost 2)
Services will be led by Sylvia Jayakaran
9:00am  Morning Prayer
10:30am  Morning Prayer & Sunday School

Tim is away on vacation until Tuesday Jun 27th. In his absence, The Rev. Susan Ormsbee will be providing emergency pastoral care and can be reached at 780-919-3060. Sunday services will be led by:
June 18th – Sylvia Jayakaran, Morning Prayer
June 25th – The Rev. Scott Sharman, Holy Communion
Melanie will still be available during regular office hours of Tuesday to Friday from 9am to noon, however the door will be locked so if you want to stop by please call ahead; 780-437-7231.

We are collecting small (new) items/toys to fill the treasure chest that we donated to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Each time the children have to have a needle they get to pick a ‘prize’ from the treasure chest. There is a box at the front of the church to collect any items you may bring.

Our last Lunch Bunch until October, will be this Thursday June 15th  @ the church beginning at 11:30am, with lunch starting at 12:00 noon. Everyone is welcome; please come and join us for a time of fellowship. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer. For more information please contact the church at 780-437- 7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer for our annual church BBQ coming up on Saturday June 17th at the home of Lorne and Beryl Rice. Please sign it if you are attending so that they know how many people to expect. There is also a map with directions on how to get to their place. Please bring a potluck item to feed 6 people.

Please join us on Wednesday June 28th at 7:15pm for our next Ministry Planning discussion. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer and we hope that many of you can come to help plan for the future ministry of our parish. If you have any questions, please contact Melanie at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com

During your travels this spring/summer, if you visit another church, please bring back the bulletin with you and post it on our “Summer Travels” bulletin board in the front foyer of the church. It’s always fun to see where people have been!

Please check out our monthly announcement sheet for more upcoming events. If you have not received a copy or have changed your email address, please update your email with Tim or Melanie. Extra copies are available on the table at the back of the church.



Sunday, June 4, 2017

'Thirsty for God' (a sermon on John 7.37-39)

Tonight I’m going to be flying across the Atlantic to the U.K., but the first time I made that journey I was going in the other direction; it was September 1967, I was nine years old, and we were travelling by ship. Tonight it will be a journey of about eight and a half hours, but then it took five days to go from Liverpool to Montreal. When I think back on that, I realise again how vast that Atlantic Ocean is. That’s a huge amount of water!

Of course, centuries ago those trips took even longer. In the days of sail, ships were totally dependant on the prevailing winds. Sometimes, in calmer climates than the north Atlantic, ships would lie still for weeks on end because there was no wind. And sometimes, tragically, they ran out of drinking water during those times, and people began to die of thirst. It was this kind of situation that gave birth to the famous line in Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ ‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’. Some people were so crazy with thirst that they did try salt water; of course, this only made things worse, and they died even sooner because of it.

Psalm 42:1-3 says:
‘As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”’.

In this passage of scripture, ‘thirst’ is used as a powerful image for our deep human longing for God. This longing isn’t satisfied by ideas about God, talk about God, or membership in organizations that work for God. It’s a longing for God himself, and for personal contact with God. When we have this longing, we realise that all the God-substitutes we so desperately embrace amount to nothing but salt-water; they only increase our deep inner thirst for the true and living God.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus uses this metaphor of thirst. The seventh chapter of John’s Gospel is built around the annual Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. This was a very popular feast, a kind of harvest festival. Over the years it had also acquired a sub-theme of longing for the end of this present evil age – the great final harvest, when God will bring in the Kingdom and the new age of his righteousness will begin - the time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all people.

Every day during the Feast of Tabernacles, water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and carried in procession to the Temple while the words of Isaiah 12:3 were sung: ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’. Also the prophecy of Zechariah 14:8 would be read: ‘On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter’. This verse is a summary of a longer prophecy in Ezekiel 47: the prophet sees a vision of a river springing up in the Temple and flowing out into the desert, bringing new life and fruitfulness wherever it goes.
In this context – surrounded by all this imagery of water – listen again to the words of our Gospel reading:
‘On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let everyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’”. Now this he said about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified’ (John 7:37-39).
It’s as if Jesus is saying to his hearers, “All week long you’ve been enacting symbols about God’s salvation coming like water onto a thirsty ground. Well, I am the reality those symbols point to. Come to me, and drink deeply from those wells of salvation”.

Listen to these words from the prophet Jeremiah:
‘Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has ever been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for something that does not profit…
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water’ (Jeremiah 2:10-11, 13).
God’s people turned from the true and living God who was like a stream of fresh water, and instead they made idols for themselves that were like cracked cisterns, unable to hold water. This was their version of the becalmed sailors drinking salt water – it couldn’t satisfy. And today people still turn to idols - God-substitutes that claim to be able to fill God’s role, but actually they can’t.

One of the most common, of course, is materialism. We spend years trying to accumulate more and more stuff, even though the ‘more and more stuff’ we’ve already acquired hasn’t satisfied us. The one who dies with the most toys doesn’t win – they just die.

A second very common idol, often linked to the first one, is success. A lot of people gauge their self-worth with this one: if I can just get ahead in my career, so everyone will see I’m doing well, then I’ll find the satisfaction I’m looking for. Sometimes the worse thing that can happen to these folks is to actually achieve that goal; they feel satisfaction for a few days, maybe, but finally they realize it isn’t giving them the lasting happiness they were hoping for. They still haven’t found what they’re looking for – whatever it is.

A third idol that’s quite common is the liking and approval of others. This is especially seductive to people who have problems with self-esteem. ‘If I can just get people to like me and approve of what I’ve done, then that inner ache will go away; I’ll be able to relax and know I’m a worthwhile person, because other people like me. But wait – some of ‘me’ isn’t very likeable, so I’ll just hide my shadow side and pretend to be something better than I really am, so I can get people to like me’. This is the lie the idol persuades us to believe, but it never works. We still feel the emptiness, the spiritual thirst – and we also carry around the burden of having to continually fool people about who we really are.

Sad to say, the institutional church can also become an idol for some. The church is meant to be a community of faith, gathered around the living Lord Jesus Christ. However, some people have never made a connection with the risen Lord, and so they turn to the church instead. It’s unfortunately possible to go through all the motions of Christianity – church attendance, baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion – but stop there, without making a real connection with the risen Christ.

I think this might be the most insidious idol of all, and I’ll tell you why. People who worship this idol think they’ve tried Christianity and found it wanting. But in fact they’ve only tried ‘churchianity’. What they’ve had is the spiritual equivalent of a vaccination. You know how a vaccination works; you inject a tiny quantity of the disease into people’s bodies, and this awakens their immune system to protect them against the real thing when it comes their way. In the same way, people who worship the idol of ‘church’ have taken a tiny bit of Christianity to protect themselves against the real thing.

All these God-substitutes are nothing but salt water. In the end, they will only increase our spiritual thirst. Maybe you’re feeling that thirst today. Maybe you’re thinking “Yes, I know that nothing can take God’s place, and in fact I’m really thirsty for him”. Good - let’s think about drinking!

Jesus says, ‘“Let everyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’”. Now this he said about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive’ (John 7:37b-39a). So the way to quench our thirst for God is to come to Jesus and drink. When we believe in Jesus – that is, when we put our faith, our trust, in him – he gives us the Holy Spirit who becomes to us like a river of living water in our hearts.

You might ask “How does this happen? How do I come to Jesus and drink?” First, we need to know that all followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them. Paul says, ‘For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:13). If you aren’t sure whether this verse applies to you, you can be sure. Simply pray, committing yourself to Christ in faith and asking him to live in you by his Holy Spirit. Then, if you haven’t been baptized at some point in your life, get baptized. If you’ve already been baptized, as most of us have, then the commitment of faith is all you need to complete the process.

Some people find this idea of a commitment of faith intimidating; they’re not sure they have enough faith to make it work. Don’t worry about that; Jesus once said that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, that’s enough. Here’s how I see it. Imagine I’ve made a series of poor choices in my life and as a result I’m experiencing significant health issues. So in desperation I make an appointment to see my doctor. He examines me, and then he sits me down and says, “I know how we can get you out of this mess and back to heath. It’s going to take a while, but we can do it. Will you let me help you?”

How do you reply to that? I think the simple word “Yes” is enough, don’t you?

And this is where we’re at. We find ourselves struggling to connect with God and find the way of life we were designed for. We’re addicted to all sorts of negative behaviours and we know we’re chasing after the wrong things. So we go to Doctor Jesus and ask him to help us. His reply is, “Yes, I can help you. Will you follow me?” Faith is simply saying “Yes” to that invitation. That’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.

But of course, that’s not all it takes to continue the process. If we want to have our spiritual thirst quenched – to go back to the original metaphor – there needs to be a daily drinking. Let me suggest a couple of things for you.

First, pray daily to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, we all have the Holy Spirit, but we need to ask him each day to fill us. I once heard a good illustration of this. An old fashioned gas furnace has a little pilot light burning inside, and that’s vital. That’s like the gift of the Holy Spirit we were each given when we became followers of Jesus. But that won’t be enough to heat the whole house! We need to turn up the thermostat so that the pilot light fires the burners. And in the same way, we need the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing.

Sometimes this happens in a dramatic way. That’s how it was for the apostles in our first reading today, when they experienced tongues of fire and speaking in other languages, and it was so dramatic that a crowd of people gathered to see what was going on. But it doesn’t always happen in a dramatic way – in fact, that’s not all that common. Mostly it’s quiet: a gentle sense of connection with God - a joy that’s there in the background even when we don’t notice it – the experience of finding ourselves equal to challenges we were sure would be too much for us.

So before you start each day, take a few minutes to pray and ask God to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit for the day ahead. You’ll be surprised how much difference that simple prayer can make.

Then there’s the daily experience of keeping in step with the Spirit. In our pew Bibles, Galatians 5:16 is translated as ‘Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh’. But the original Greek says ‘Walk in the Spirit’, and the NIV has the lovely translation ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’. I love that! It gives me the sense of the Holy Spirit as a companion walking beside me. I’m not sure which way to go, but the Spirit knows, and if I watch and listen, the Spirit will guide me.

One way the Spirit will guide me is through the Scriptures, especially the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that 90% of the guidance I need for living my daily life is already there in the Scriptures. There are lots of stories of people setting bad examples to avoid! And sometimes we come across good examples to follow. There are simple commands that revolutionize our lives: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ – ‘Don’t lay up for yourselves treasures on earth’ – ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you’ – ‘stop lying to each other’ and so on.

But there are also little nudges we get from the Holy Spirit sometimes. With me, it often takes the form of a person coming to mind, with the little thought that I need to call them or send them an email. Sometimes it turns out to have been a mistake, but more often than not it doesn’t. What I’ve noticed is that if I obey those little nudges of guidance, they tend to come more often. But when I don’t, they stop coming. Simple lesson there? If I want to experience more of God’s guidance, I need to be sure I pay attention when it comes!

One last thing. If we want to keep in step with the Spirit – if we want to drink of this ‘river of living water’ that Jesus is talking about – then we will want to pray. And when I say ‘pray’, I don’t just mean ‘Come to Jesus for five minutes every day with a shopping list of wants’.

We’re all busy people, but I have discovered that my days go much better if I start them in prayer, and if that prayer includes a healthy portion of silence. So I try to get here earlier than I need to most days, and then I can sit in quiet for a few minutes. I don’t necessarily say very much. I just sit in a chair and pay attention to the presence of God. Sometimes it’s a struggle; my brain is buzzing and there are so many internal distractions. Usually it takes longer than five minutes to get past them. Usually, after about ten or twelve minutes of silence, I begin to feel like I’m getting through. But I’m not trying; I’m just sitting and paying attention. And eventually, most days, I do get a deeper awareness of God’s presence and more joy as I go into my day.

Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7.37-38). Notice the direction here: out of the believer’s heart. We might have thought it would be the other way – into the believer’s heart – but it’s an outward flow. And so it is for us. When we come to Jesus and drink of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we become a refreshing presence in the world around us. The blessings of God flow out from us, touching other people and giving them a sense of God’s love for them as well. That’s God’s will for all of us. I can experience it and so can you.


So – will you come to Jesus and drink?