Monday, September 28, 2020

SUNDAY SERVICES AT ST. MARGARET'S

9:00 a.m. Holy Communion (approximately 45 minutes)

10:30 a.m. Holy Communion with Sunday School (approximately 75 minutes)

The Book of Alternative Services is used at all services at St. Margaret's.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Upcoming events Jan 21st to Jan 27th, 2019

Events This Week
January 21st, 2019
Office is closed
Jan 22nd, 2019
11:00am Holy Communion @ Rutherford Retirement Residence
7:30pm – ‘Why on Earth’ group discussion @ church
Jan 23rd, 2019
Melanie not in the office
2:00pm – Lectionary Bible study @ church
Jan 24th, 2019
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible study @ Bogani Café
Jan 27th, 2019 (3rd Sunday after Epiphany)
9:00am Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion and Sunday School

Tax receipts for 2018 will be ready for pick up next Sunday, Jan 27th. Please remember to take yours so we don’t have to spend money on postage. Any left after a few weeks will be mailed, so please ensure you have provided us with any changes to your mailing address.

Child Sponsorship
World Vision representative Tim Schultz will be our guest speaker at St. Margaret's on Sunday March 3rd. He will be receiving our annual cheque for 'Raw Hope' and also giving us an update on the program.

We have asked Tim to bring some more children for sponsorship. In order to promote this, during the month of February we would like to promote child sponsorship. Many people at St. Margaret's sponsor children through World Vision. If you would like to stand up during announcement time and speak for two or three minutes about your sponsor child, telling us about them and what you enjoy about sponsoring them, that would be excellent. Please email Tim at stmrector@gmail.com or call him at 780-437-7231 if you are willing to do this.

P.S. We are also hoping that Tim Schultz will lead a one day pre-Lent quiet day at St. Margaret's on Saturday March 2nd. The theme will be 'A spirituality of Justice and Compassion'. We will confirm this as soon as possible.

Pre-authorized Giving: The Diocese of Edmonton has a Pre-Authorized Giving Program using automatic account debit to assist you in supporting your own parish ministry.
 Advantages for the donor:
Convenience. Your offering is received automatically every month.
Continual support of your church when you are away.
Continual support of ministries and programs.
Changes may be made any time with written notification.
 Advantages for the parish:
Regular, dependable flow of contributions to the parish.  
Reduction of paperwork and book- keeping. Donation to be made on the 1st or 15th of the month.
There are forms on the table in the front foyer if you are interested in signing up.


Wednesday afternoon lectionary Bible Study. This group meets at the church from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays. We read the four scripture passages set for the coming Sunday and then choose one of them to explore together. Please bring your favourite Bible.
Thursday morning Bible Studies. For many years our parish has been holding early morning Bible Studies at the Bogani Café (beside Sobey’s on the corner of 23rd Avenue and 111 Street). There are currently two small groups meeting there at 8 a.m., a men’s and a women’s group. The men’s group runs 8 – 9 a.m., the women’s a little longer. Both use Bible study booklets to go through a book at a time. Please bring your favourite Bible.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

'Led by the Spirit of God' (a sermon for January 13th on Luke 3.21-22)

The way we understand the words we hear has a lot to do with our life experiences. I might hear a word and get a certain picture in my head. You might hear exactly the same word and get a completely different picture.

For instance, I was brought up in England, and so for me the phrase ‘cup of tea’ brings two main pictures to my head. The first is the well-known English stereotype of sipping tea from a china cup and saucer with your pinkie held out straight. The other is drinking strong tea from a big mug, preferably one that’s rounded and curves in a bit at the top to help keep the tea hot.

But the great Jewish writer Chaim Potok gave me a third picture of drinking tea, from the German and Russian Jewish immigrant families who feature highly in his stories. They would pour hot clear tea into a glass. They would then take a cube of sugar, hold it between their teeth, and sip the tea through that cube of sugar. When one of them heard the phrase, ‘cup of tea’, that’s what they would think of.

Today in the Christian year we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Baptism is another of those words that’s coloured by the context we’ve heard it in. Most of us in this church were baptized as babies or very young children. We don’t remember our baptisms. And when we see people being baptized here, nine times out of ten they’re babies or very young children.

The first readers of the gospels would have had a very different experience. The vast majority of them would have been baptized as adults, because that was the norm in the early church. They would have started out as Jewish people who worshipped God but didn’t believe in Jesus, or else they would have been Gentiles who worshipped many gods like Zeus and Apollo and Artemis and all the rest. Somehow they’d heard the gospel and been attracted to Jesus. They’d decided to leave behind their previous allegiances and commit themselves to Jesus as his followers. And so they’d been taken to a body of water, gone down into it and been baptized, either by pouring or full immersion. For them there was almost no time break between coming to faith in Jesus, being baptized, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those three things were all tied together as parts of the same event.

The baptism of Jesus is very much like this. Luke tells us that Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. Up until now, we assume, he’d carried on his father’s carpentry business. His father isn’t mentioned in the gospels after Jesus becomes a teenager, so most Christians assume Joseph died while his children were still young. According to the gospels, Jesus had brothers and sisters, and a mother to support. He probably had a good business as a jobbing carpenter in Nazareth. 

But then along comes John the Baptist, and something stirs in Jesus. He’s been aware for a long time that he has a special relationship with the God of Israel. In the Old Testament the title ‘father’ for God tends to be used by the nation as a whole – ‘You are our father’ – not by individuals in it. But Jesus has a strong sense of his individual relationship to God as his father. At the age of twelve he says to his mother, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2.49)

So now he hears the Father’s call and he makes the journey to the River Jordan, where John the Baptist was preaching the kingdom of God and telling people to repent and be baptized. Luke tells the story with the bare minimum of detail:

‘Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well please.”’ (Luke 3.21-22).

This baptism seems a lot closer to the early church experience. Jesus isn’t a little baby with no later memory of the event. He’s an adult with a sense of God’s call on his life. And his life is going to change from this moment on. He’s going to leave his home town and his business and his family. He’s going to start travelling around, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and calling disciples to follow him. This is a decisive moment for him.

Curiously, Luke seems to be less interested in the baptism itself than in two things that followed it. First, after Jesus had been baptized and was praying ‘the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove’. Second, he heard the voice of God speaking to him. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (v.22). 

The language about heaven being opened comes from Isaiah 64. The prophet has been lamenting God’s absence from his people and all the hardships they were going through, and then in 64.1 he prays ‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.’ Luke wants us to know that Isaiah’s prayer was answered. God came among us in Jesus, and at his baptism heaven was opened and the Spirit of God came down to fill him and guide him and strengthen him for what lay ahead.

And then there’s the voice. Remember, at this point in time Jesus hasn’t done anything spectacular. The miracles and healings, the teaching and the exorcisms, the cross and resurrection are all still ahead. The voice of God isn’t a reward for a job well done. It’s a gift, an affirmation, like a word from a loving parent who looks at their daughter or son and sees the one they love more than they ever thought possible. “You’re my son and I love you! You’re my daughter and I’m proud of you!” How many men and women go through life emotionally crippled because they rarely if ever heard words like that! But those are the words Jesus hears from his heavenly Father.

So what does the Baptism of Jesus mean for us today?

I actually hesitate to raise this question. This passage isn’t first of all about us and our baptism — it’s about Jesus and his baptism. We’re not Jesus, and so not everything that applies to us will apply to him, and not everything that applies to him will apply to us.

For instance, a central theme of John the Baptist’s ministry was repentance and forgiveness. Luke 3.3 says ‘(John) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' This was an important theme in the early church too. People took off their old clothes, like taking off the old sinful life. They went down into the water and were washed from their sins. They came up again and put on new clothes, like putting on a new way of life.

But this didn’t apply to Jesus. The New Testament writers tell us that he was without sin. Hebrews says of him, ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4.25). So for Jesus, the forgiveness aspect of baptism wasn’t important. But other things – the call of God on his life, the declaration of his sonship, the gift of the Holy Spirit – they were vitally important.

As we think about how this applies to us today, let’s remember these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans: ‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God’ (Romans 8.14). This is something Jesus definitely experienced after his baptism. Luke 4.1-2 says, ‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil’. And at the end of the temptation story Luke says, ‘Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee’ (Luke 4.14).

‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God’. Paul might just as easily have said, ‘For all who are children of God are led by the Spirit of God’. It’s a chicken and egg situation. Because we’re God’s children, he gives us the Spirit to lead and guide us. And when we follow the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we get an even stronger sense of our relationship with God as his daughters and sons. As Paul goes on to say, ‘When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God’ (Romans 8.15b-16).

So this is what your baptism says to you: you are the beloved child of God, and God has given you the gift of the Holy Spirit. And those two experiences go together and build on each other.

We live in a world where a lot of people are telling us who we are. Our bosses tell us we’re employees. The retail industry calls us ‘consumers’. Politicians are fond of describing us as ‘Albertans’ or Canadians’ or even as ‘taxpayers’! Some people tell us we’re heroes. Some people tell us we’re failures. We don’t measure up. We’re not good enough. And maybe over the years we’ve internalized those voices. Maybe those tapes play in our heads now. This is how we see ourselves.

And maybe this colours how we see God. God is the Creator of the Universe. God is far beyond any words or pictures or images we could possibly use. God is so big and we’re so tiny and insignificant. How could such a God even notice us, let alone value us and love us?

But this is the unconditional gift God gives to us: God adopts us as beloved daughters and sons. God is the most perfect parent we could possibly imagine. God provides for us, protects us, teaches and guides us. And God loves us with an indestructible love.

So try this on for size. When you hear those voices telling you who you are, remind yourself there’s a much more fundamental thing that can be said about you. In your baptism God says to you, “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased”. Let me say it to you again. God says to you, “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased”. 

If you believe that, you can leave this place this morning with your head held high. And just like a child of a good parent, you can be bold about turning to your heavenly Father for help and guidance. You don’t need to be shy. You don’t need to wonder if you’re important to God. You’re important. You’re family. So don’t be afraid.

And then there’s the Spirit. I love these words of Paul, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God”. Some people tell of amazing experiences of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Our dear friend Joe Semeniuk, who died a few years ago, told me about an experience like that. When he was confirmed in this church and Bishop Jane laid her hands on his head, he told me he felt the Holy Spirit coming into his body and filling him from top to bottom. He said it was such a powerful experience that every time he came up for communion he tried to stand in the same spot!

I haven’t had that kind of experience, or at least, not as powerfully as that. What I have experienced from time to time is the leading of the Holy Spirit. I get hunches: ‘Write that email’. ‘Pick up the phone and call so and so’. ‘Go and visit so and so’. ‘You need to apologize to that person’. Over the years I’ve learned to trust those hunches. I can’t claim I’ve always obeyed them. Sadly, sometimes I haven’t. But when I have, things have almost always worked out well. Good things have happened. People have been blessed.

The Spirit leads us through the words of Jesus and the words of scripture. He leads us through wise teachers. He leads us as we talk together with sisters and brothers and seek the will of God together. And he also leads us as that quiet voice in our hearts, nudging us in a certain direction. So, as Paul says in Galatians, ‘If we live by the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5.25), or, as the NIV says, ‘let us keep in step with the Spirit’. 

This is our legacy as baptized Christians. God calls us his children and we can call on God as our wise and loving Father. And God has given us the Spirit to guide us. Let’s follow that guidance and live as children of our heavenly Father. In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Upcoming events Jan 14th to 20th, 2019

Events This Week
January 14th, 2019
Office is closed
Jan 15th, 2019
7:30pm – ‘Why on Earth’ group discussion @ church
Jan 16th, 2019
2:00pm – Lectionary Bible study @ church
7:15pm – Vestry meeting @ church
Jan 17th, 2019
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible study @ Bogani Café
10:30am Holy Communion @ St. Joseph’s Hospital
Jan 20th, 2019 (2nd Sunday after Epiphany)
9:00am Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion and Sunday School

For those wishing to celebrate the life of Frances Bell, her funeral will be held at St. Paul’s Leduc on Friday Feb 8th at 2pm.

St. Margaret’s Extraordinary Congregational Meeting previously scheduled for the 20th day of January 2019 has been postponed. The new date will be Sunday February 24th, 2019 at 12 noon. The purpose of this meeting will be to make a decision on the next step in our church expansion project. Stay tuned for more information.

Our weekly Bible studies have started up again after a break over Christmas. They are open to anyone, so please drop in if you are able!

Wednesday afternoon lectionary Bible Study. This group meets at the church from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays. We read the four scripture passages set for the coming Sunday and then choose one of them to explore together. Please bring your favourite Bible.

Thursday morning Bible Studies. For many years our parish has been holding early morning Bible Studies at the Bogani Café (beside Sobey’s on the corner of 23rd Avenue and 111 Street). There are currently two small groups meeting there at 8 a.m., a men’s and a women’s group. The men’s group runs 8 – 9 a.m., the women’s a little longer. Both use Bible study booklets to go through a book at a time. Please bring your favourite Bible.

Winnifred Stewart: Empties to Winn Project
Please feel free to bring some or all of your empty bottles (juice, milk, cans, and other beverage containers) and drop them in our bags. Please support Winnifred Stewart by making provision for this project! Next pick up should be January 17th. Thank you!



Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Light of the World Has Come (a sermon for Epiphany on Isaiah 60.1-6)


Everybody wants to be included. Nobody wants to be an outsider. Nobody wants to be left out.

You sometimes see it in family gatherings when someone new has married into the family. The new person hovers around the edge of the conversation, trying to make sense of the ‘in’ jokes and understand the customs. Some families are good at including newcomers; they have their unofficial ‘gatekeepers’ who explain the customs and traditions, and they reach out and welcome the new member. Other families aren’t so good at this. They aren’t being malicious, they just don’t think of what it feels like to be on the edge of the circle.

Some churches are like this too. People find it hard to get into them because they don’t find a welcome and a way of learning what the congregation’s customs and traditions are all about. Other congregations have given careful thought to this. They’ve developed effective ways of welcoming and including newcomers.

The Feast of Epiphany which we celebrate today is all about outsiders being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. The Wise Men, or Magi, were astrologers from the east. They were not Jewish and were unfamiliar with the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s interesting that Matthew is the most Jewish of the Gospels, but he’s the one who tells the story of how God summoned these Gentiles to greet the birth of the one born to be King of the Jews. Apparently the God of Israel wants to reach out to outsiders. It’s not just that he welcomes them when they happen to stumble in. He actually sends an invitation to them in language that astrologers can understand – a star in the heavens.

By the time Matthew wrote his gospel, perhaps in the late 70s or early 80s A.D., Christian missionaries were carrying the Gospel all over the Mediterranean world and Gentiles were flooding into the Church of Jesus Christ. I think Matthew sees the wise men as a symbol of this later Christian mission beyond the borders of God’s chosen people. Jesus isn’t just the light of his own people; the light of the world has come among us.

To anyone familiar with the Scriptures this wouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a common theme in the prophets: when God restores the fortunes of his people in the Messianic age, foreign nations will come to be included in the blessing. This is very clear in our Old Testament reading for today, Isaiah 60:1-6:
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
      and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
      and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
      and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
      and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
      they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
      and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
      your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
      the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
      the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
      all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
      and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Let’s look at this passage under two headings: first, the light has come, and second, the light draws people in.

First, the light has come.

In human communities, two powerful symbols of anger are walking out and banishment. When people are angry at what’s happening in a meeting and want to completely disassociate themselves from what’s going on, they sometimes walk out in protest. Banishment — when a community sends offenders away in penalty for their crimes — is also a powerful symbol of the community’s displeasure. It’s especially powerful in cultures with a strong sense of community identity, such as First Nations communities.

Both these illustrations are used in the Bible to explain the disaster that happened to Jerusalem in 597 BC when the Babylonian armies sacked the city and took the upper classes off into exile. The prophets explained that God had ‘walked out’ on his people because of their persistent refusal to obey him. It was this departure of God from among them, said the prophets, that led to their defeat and exile. And then the people were banished from their own land, just like Adam and Eve being ejected from the garden because of their sin.

Given these ideas, how would the people know God had forgiven their sins? The answer was obvious – if God returned to Jerusalem and brought his people back there, they would know he had forgiven them. We can see promises of both these things in today’s passage.

First, God is seen as returning to his people like the sun rising after a dark night. Jerusalem is a city built on a hill, with other hills around it. In the Mediterranean world sunrise and sunset are very quick; it can be very dark one moment, and then light the next. In Old Testament times the white buildings of the Temple were high up in the city; the sun would shine first on them, and then later on the lower parts of the city. So for a time it would still be pitch dark in the lower quarters, but bright up in the Temple and the buildings around it.

It’s possible that Isaiah has this picture in his mind when he talks about the contrast between darkness and light in verses 1-2:
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
      and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
      and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
      and his glory will appear over you.

Then in verse 4 we read about the return of God’s people from exile:
Lift up your eyes and look around;
      they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
      and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

Interestingly, many modern biblical scholars think Isaiah chapter 60 was written after the people returned from their Babylonian exile. Why would our author prophesy these things as still in the future? I think it was because the return hadn’t fulfilled all their hopes. Life in Jerusalem was very hard, and many people had decided not to return at all. So the prophet looked forward to a further visitation from God, which would bring about a true return from the community’s spiritual exile in sin.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is described as ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God is with us’. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God came to his people in a new way: he was present as a human being and lived among them. Through his life and death and resurrection, God was acting powerfully to forgive our sins and bring us home from our spiritual exile into the life of God’s family. It’s no accident that in Matthew’s story the wise men were drawn to Jesus by the light of a star. And it’s no accident that Jesus calls himself ‘the light of the world’. In Jesus Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled – God comes to live among his people like a great light. Even today, when we no longer see him physically, the prophecy is still fulfilled, because he promised us that he would be with us always, to the end of the age.

Think back for a moment to the picture of sunrise in Jerusalem, with the lower city still in darkness but the upper city in the light. Of course, it would be possible to move into the light by simply climbing a little higher!

We can make this move from darkness to light in a spiritual sense. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). If we follow Jesus there is no need for us to stay in darkness; we can have the light of life. This is God’s invitation to us this morning, at the beginning of this new year – to follow Jesus, to trust him, to build our lives around his teaching, to look to him for help each day. This is what it means to ‘walk in the light’.

So we’ve seen that in Jesus, the light of the world has come. The second thing this passage tells us is that the light draws people in. In Dennis Bennett’s book Nine O’clock in the Morning he tells of his wife Elberta’s comment when she first met some Christians who had experienced God’s Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way. She said, “I don’t know what these people have, but I want it!” Real Christianity has always been attractive. People are drawn by the sense of the presence of God.

The Old Testament scriptures tell us that when God returns to his people and restores their fortunes, it will not just be for their benefit but for others as well. In Isaiah chapter 2 we read these words:
In the days to come
      the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
      and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
      Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
      to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
      and that we may walk in his paths’.

We can see the same theme in our passage for today, in verses 2 and 3:
‘but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawning’.
Instead of the nations coming as conquerors they’ll come humbly, to honour Israel and learn from Israel’s God. It won’t just be Israel attracting them, but her God.

This prophecy was never fulfilled in a literal way in the history of Israel, but the New Testament writers see the Church of Jesus as a major fulfilment of it. The wise men who came to Jesus were the first of millions of Gentiles who have come streaming to Israel’s God as he has been revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus. Thomas Cahill has written a fascinating book called The Gifts of the Jews, in which he documents all the Jewish ideas which have been adopted into mainstream culture and are now widely accepted. Many of them have been accepted through Christianity, and so it can be said that in a true sense Judaism has been a blessing to the world through Christianity. The idea of one Creator God rather than many gods – the gift of the Ten Commandments – the idea that time moves in a line rather than being circular – in these and many ways Christianity has taken Jewish ideas and presented them to the whole world. In Jesus, Judaism has been fulfilled, and his light has drawn the Gentiles to faith in Israel’s God.

That movement hasn’t ended today. Today, still, we need to remember that the light of Christ was not given to us just for ourselves, but to share with others. As we truly follow him and pattern our lives after his teaching, others will see his light in us. It’s up to us to tell them where that light comes from.

Let me close by reminding you of the two ways that Jesus uses the symbolism of light in his teaching.

First, as we’ve seen today, he says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy; in him, God comes to live among us as a light. As we follow him, we do not walk in darkness, but we have the light of life.

But there’s a second way Jesus uses this symbolism as well. In Matthew 5:14 he says to us his followers, “You are the light of the world”. You and me – flawed, imperfect disciples as we are – we’ve taken over the job of the star of Bethlehem! Many people today are on a journey to find Jesus, whether they know it or not. They’re looking for spiritual reality. They’re hungry for God. It’s our job to draw them to the place where Christ can be found. So, as Jesus says, ‘let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).

Friday, January 4, 2019

Upcoming events Jan 7th to Jan 13th, 2019

Events This Week
January 7th, 2019
Office is closed
Jan 8th, 2019
7:30pm – ‘Why on Earth’ group discussion @ church
Jan 9th, 2019
2:00pm – Lectionary Bible study @ church
Jan 10th, 2019
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible study @ Bogani Café
Jan 12th, 2019
10:30am Food prep for Bissell Centre @ church
Jan 13th, 2019 (Baptism of the Lord)
9:00am Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion and Sunday School
9am – 1:30pm Serving lunch @ Bissell Centre

For those wishing to celebrate the life of Frances Bell, her funeral will be held at St. Paul’s Leduc on Friday February 8th at 2pm.

Winnifred Stewart: Empties to Winn Project
Please feel free to bring some or all of your empty bottles (juice, milk, cans, and other beverage containers) and drop them in our bags. Please support Winnifred Stewart by making provision for this project! Next pick up should be January 17th. Thank you!

Inner City Pastoral Ministry Lunch (ICPM) at the Bissel Center Sunday January 13th, 2018 9am.
St. Margaret’s, in partnership with Good Shepherd Anglican Church, will be providing and serving lunch at the Bissell Centre. We normally serve about 300 people. We are still in need of food donations, so please sign up on the sheet in the foyer. If you prefer to make a monetary donation, please enclose it in your Sunday offering and mark it ICPM. 

NOTICE is hereby given that an Extraordinary Congregational Meeting will be held on the 20th day of January A.D. 2019 at 12 o’clock pm, in the basement of St. Margaret’s at which time all baptized persons regularly attending services of worship in this Parish or otherwise regularly receiving the administrations of the clergy of this Parish are entitled to attend. The purpose of this meeting will be to make a decision on the next step in our church expansion project.

‘Why on Earth?’ Tuesday Jan. 8th to Tuesday Feb. 19th (omitting Jan. 29th), 7.30 – 9.00 p.m. @ Church.
There is still time to sign up for this discussion-based course built around the ‘big questions’. It deals with issues like ‘Faith Versus Science’, ‘Why Bother with Church?’ ‘Why are Christians So Judgemental?’ ‘Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?’ etc. It was written by the same people who produced our recent ‘Faith Pictures’ course. There will be six sessions (omitting Jan. 29th). There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer.



Thursday, January 3, 2019

Our Father's Business (a sermon by Brian Popp on Luke 2:41-52)

OUR FATHER’S BUSINESS
a sermon by Brian Popp Dec 30th, 2018

Our Gospel reading this morning from Luke 2: 41-52 is the only passage in the Bible that tells about Jesus’ boyhood. From the story of Jesus birth in Bethlehem until he begins his active public ministry at the age of 30 there is no mention of his upbringing either as a human being or as God’s only son. Some scholars speculate that, for whatever reason, God chose not to tell us much about Jesus childhood so we have to trust our Heavenly Father that nothing occurred which we need to know about. We do know that the hand of God guided Jesus from his birth in a lowly manger to his death upon the cross!

Our gospel reading tells us that Mary and Joseph (Jesus earthly parents) and Jesus set out for Jerusalem with a large group of relatives and friends for the festival of the Passover, a major biblically derived holiday. Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. The Passover, a one day festival, was combined with the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jewish males were required to attend the combined festivals as well as two other festivals. Exodus 34:23 states:
“Three times in every year all your males shall appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel.”
Jesus came to Jerusalem for his first Passover when he was twelve years old. It is unclear to me whether he participated in a bar mitzvah celebration or not. Barmitzvah is the official recognition of a Jewish male’s desire to begin a lifelong walk with God. Walking with God is the ultimate goal of life. Bar mitzvah meansadopted son of the law. Jesus was the true Son of God.

Following the festivals the group of relatives and friends started their journey home. Usually the women and children began the journey earlier than the men because they traveled slower than the men. It wasn’t until the men and women met at the end of the day that they realized that Jesus was not with them. Mary probably thought that he was with his father Joseph and Joseph probably thought he was with his mother Mary.

Have you ever lost your child or grandchild even for a short period of time? It is a frightening experience! I know because one of our grandchildren disappeared for a brief period of time at the lake. I immediately thought the worst of what might have happened. As it turned out she was with another family member but I didn’t find that out before I frantically began to search for her.

When Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was missing they began to search for him among the large group of their relatives and friends. When they could not find him they retraced their steps back to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days of searching they finally found him in the outer court of the Temple sitting among the teachers – experts in Jewish law – listening to them and asking them questions, but also answering their questions to him! All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished. His mother said to him “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
He said to them:
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house/ about my father’s business.”

This marks a turning point in the gospel. These are the first words of Jesus we have; for the first time Jesus father is named THE FATHER – his Heavenly Father in contrast to  Joseph – his earthly father. Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus meant. They did not comprehend that Jesus’ relationship with God, the Father, takes precedence over being their child. He has a special relationship with God!
Jesus left the Temple and returned to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. Mary treasured everything that had been said in her heart. We learn at the end of today’s gospel that Jesus was obedient to his parents in everyday life. He continued to grow physically and in understanding preparing himself for the mission that lies ahead of him or as Luke 2:52 says:
“in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor.”

As I mentioned at the beginning this is the only passage in the Bible that tells about Jesus’ boyhood. What lessons can we learn from our gospel this morning? I believe there are three of them!

Firstly, we can reaffirm our parental responsibilities to our children and grandchildren. Spiritual parenting is a major challenge, especially in today’s world. Change is a daily occurrence. Technology, the Internet, changing moral standards, regular mass shootings, war and famine all impact how we react to them  and how our children react. Mimi Doe has written a number of books on Spiritual Parenting.  She has identified five principles to guide parents/grandparents:
1.   Listen to your children – set aside time to listen to your child. Listen! Don’t do all the talking. Hear what he/she is saying and you’ll be amazed at all the things that come up.
2.    Add magic to the ordinary – creating magic out of the ordinary builds celebration that nourishes the soul.
3.    Create a flexible structure – the trick is to be structured without being rigid and to be secure while being spontaneous.
4.    Be a good mirror for your child – what he/she sees in you is a mirror of the bigger world.
5.    Make each day a new beginning – starting over each day is knowing that the spirit moves and breathes and is our life force. She also stresses – know God cares for you and trust and teach that all life is connected and has a purpose.

The Bible has a myriad of passages about parents’ responsibility to their children including:
Matthew 19:14 – Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
Psalm 78:4 – we will not hide them from their children. But will tell to the coming generations the glorious deeds of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 – fathers, do not exasperate your children so that they will not lose heart.
We, as Christians, have a duty to teach our children about our Heavenly Father and the impact he can have on their personal growth and development just as Mary and Joseph taught Jesus.

The second lesson we can learn is children’s responsibility to their parents. We are all familiar with the fourth commandment found in Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you”
Even Jesus, when he returned to Nazareth, was obedient to Mary and Joseph, his parents. There are many other biblical references to a child’s responsibility to his/her parents. Some of these include:
Ephesians 6:1 – children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Proverbs 6:20 – my child, keep your father’s commandment and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Children have a commitment to their parents in much the same way as parents have obligations, spiritual and legal, to their children.

The third lesson we can take away from our gospel reading this morning is our responsibility to our Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. As we draw near to the end of 2018 perhaps it is time to ”be about our Heavenly Father’s business.” It is a good time to contemplate what we have done during the past year to strengthen our faith, just as Jesus strengthened his – by reading, attending a bible or book study group or other learning pursuits. What have we done to love our neighbor as ourselves? How can we become a better neighbor to the people we know? The people we don’t know? How can we become a better steward of our earthly resources or a more devout disciple of Christ? How can we love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength? Take time to plan how 2019 can be a more spiritually rewarding and fulfilling year.

In conclusion, young Jesus taught us life lessons even at the age of 12. Parents love your children; children love and honor your parents. Fellow members of St. Margaret’s and visitors love one another just as Jesus grew up to love you. Let us be about our Father’s business just like Jesus was and is!

AMEN