Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Roster Reminder

April 29th, 2012  4th Sunday of Easter
Greeter/Sidespeople:            B. Cavey/ T. Willacy                       
Counter: T. Willacy/ T. Cromarty                                   
Reader:  J. Chesterton                                                           
(Acts4: 5 – 12, Psalm 23, 1John 3: 16 – 24))
Intercessor:            C. Ripley           
Lay Reader:  E. Gerber  (John 10:  11 -18)
Altar Guild (White):            J. Mill/MW
Sunday School (School Age):              M. Cromarty           
Sunday School (Preschool):            M. Doyle
KitchenE. McFall
Music:            M. Chesterton                        

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roster for the Month of May

May 6th, 2012   Easter 5
Coffee between services
Greeter/Sidespeople:   The Popps
Counter:  B. Popp/ D. Sanderson
Reader:  M. Rys
(Readings: Acts 8: 26-40, Psalm 22: 24-30,1 John 4: 7-21)
Lay Administrants:  D. Schindel/G. Hughes
Intercessor: J. Chesterton
Lay Reader: E. Gerber  (John 15: 1-8)
Altar Guild (White) M. Woytkiw/L. Schindel
Prayer Team: L. Sanderson/S. Jayakaran           
Sunday School (School Age): M. Aasen
Sunday School (Preschool):  M. Eriksen
Kitchen: - 9:45 am  J. Johnston           
Music:  W. Pyra
Altar Servers:  A. Jayakaran

May 13th, 2012   Easter 6
Greeter/Sidespeople:  The Aasens           
Counter:  C. Aasen/ M. Eriksen
Reader:  G. Hughes
(Readings: Acts 10: 44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6)
Lay Administrants:  L. Thompson/E. Gerber
Intercessor: C. Ripley
Lay Reader:   D. MacNeill (John 15: 9-17)
Altar Guild: (white) M. Lobreau/P. Major
Prayer Team:  K. Hughes/M. Chesterton
Sunday School (School Age): J. MacDonald
Sunday School (Preschool):  M. Horn
Kitchen:  B. Cavey
Music:  E. Thompson
Altar Servers: E. Jayakaran

May 20th, 2012   Ascension Day
Greeter/Sidespeople: The Schindels
Counter:  D. Schindel/S. Jayakaran           
Reader:  S. Watson
(Readings: Acts 1: 1-11, Psalm 47, Ephesians 1: 15-23)
Lay Administrants:  D. MacNeill/C. Aasen
Intercessor: C. Ripley
Lay Reader:  L. Thompson (Luke 24: 44-53)
Altar Guild (White) J. Mill/K. Hughes
Prayer Team:  E. Gerber/L. Sanderson
Sunday School (School Age): M. Aasen
Sunday School (Preschool):  T. Laffin
Kitchen:  E. McFall
Altar Servers:  A. Jayakaran

May 27th, 2012   Day of Pentecost (Holy Communion)
Greeter/Sidespeople:  A. Shutt/ B. Cavey
Counter:  A. Shutt/ B. Popp           
Reader: A. Jayakaran
(Readings: Acts 2: 1-21, Psalm 104:25-35, 37b, Romans 8: 22-27)
Lay Administrants: M. Rys/D. MacNeill 
Intercessor:  T. Chesterton
Lay Reader:  B. Popp  (John 15: 26-27,16: 4b-15)
Altar Guild (white): M. Woytkiw/L. Pyra
Prayer Team:  K. Hughes/M. Chesterton
Sunday School (School Age): C. Ripley
Sunday School (Preschool): S. Doyle
Kitchen:  V & J Goodwin
Music:  R. Mogg
Altar Servers:  E. Jayakaran

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sermon for April 22nd on Luke 24:36-49

Another Encounter with the Risen Jesus

An ancient Christian writer once said, ‘We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!’ I think these words are profoundly true. As I said last week, the resurrection stories are at the end of the gospels, but they are truly the beginning of the Gospel. The good news that love is stronger than death, that Jesus is truly the Lord of all, that God’s purposes for his creation will one day become the ultimate reality – all of that is proclaimed loud and clear in the story of Jesus’ resurrection. And so in these weeks after Easter we’re staying with the resurrection story and exploring more of its implications for us, as individuals and as the people of God, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Today we heard again the story of the visit of Jesus to the Upper Room on the evening of Easter Sunday. As Luke tells this story, it happens after the Emmaus Road encounter. Two followers of Jesus had been walking out to the village of Emmaus, but on the way they were joined by a third, a stranger who they didn’t recognize. They talked with him about the death of Jesus, and he explained to them the prophecies from the Old Testament and how Jesus had fulfilled them all. They said afterwards that their hearts ‘burned within them’ when they talked with him on the road, but it wasn’t until he joined them for supper – when he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them – that their eyes were opened and they saw it was Jesus. He vanished from their sight, but they hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. They found them in the Upper Room, and they told them what had happened. The others said, “Yes, the Lord is risen indeed – we know, because he’s appeared to Peter!”

Then comes today’s story. ‘While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”’ (v.36). ‘They were startled and terrified’, Luke says, and no wonder – I expect you and I would be too, if we saw a man we knew to be dead standing among us and talking to us. We’d think ‘Is this a ghost, or a hallucination, or have we all gone mad?’ But Jesus encourages them to verify for themselves that he is real; he invites them to look at his hands and feet, and to touch him and experience his physical presence - not just a hallucination, but a real risen body. And then, amazingly, he asks them ‘Have you got anything to eat’; they give him a piece of fish, and he eats it in their presence.

Then he reminds them of what he had told them earlier, about how everything in the scriptures must be fulfilled – that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. Those prophecies have been fulfilled, as they have all seen. But there’s another part of the biblical vision that has yet to be fulfilled: that is, that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be preached in the name of the Messiah to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. They are called to be his witnesses. But they mustn’t rush right off and get started, because they need the power of God to help them, so they are to wait in the city until they have been equipped with power from on high – the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is the story as Luke tells it. Now, what is he stressing for us in the way he tells the story and the things he chooses to recall for us? Let me point out four things for you.

First, Luke stresses the reality of the resurrection. Not just the reality of life after death – let’s be clear about that. The disciples didn’t meet a vision of Jesus living in heaven as a disembodied soul; they met a real, embodied person, a resurrected body, a person who they could not only see with their eyes but also touch with their hands, a person who could eat a piece of broiled fish in front of them. ‘They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence’ (v.42). The words ‘in their presence’ indicate that Jesus did this for their benefit; he was showing them that he was not a ghost, but a real resurrected body.

Sometimes when talking to children about the resurrection of Jesus, we’ll use phrases like ‘Jesus came back to life again’. That phrase can be misleading, because it suggests that what Jesus ‘came back to’ was a life exactly like the one before he died. But this is not true to the amazing story the gospel writers tell. Yes, there were some continuities. They could see his scars and even touch them, and - at least some of the time - they recognized him. But there were also discontinuities; his new body did not appear to be restricted by time and space, locked doors couldn’t keep him out, and at times people didn’t recognize him right away.

How do we explain these continuities and discontinuities? In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul – no doubt struggling for language - explains it as being like a seed being planted in the ground and then springing up: there’s continuity between the seed and the plant, he says, but they aren’t exactly the same. Listen to his memorable words:
‘So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body’. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

This is what the followers of Jesus encountered in those days and weeks after the resurrection of Jesus. And it wasn’t an entirely comfortable experience for them!  Here’s a list of the reactions provoked by the resurrection of Jesus in Luke chapter 24: the disciples were ‘perplexed’, ‘terrified’, ‘unbelieving’, ‘amazed’, ‘foolish and slow of heart’, ‘startled and terrified’, ‘frightened’, ‘doubtful’, ‘disbelieving and wondering’, ‘worshipping’, and ‘blessing God’. I don’t think it felt at all like a cozy fireside chat with ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. It was a cataclysmic experience, and it shook them, and changed the course of their entire lives.

Good Friday, however, is not erased or forgotten; indeed, in the light of the resurrection, it is seen for what it really was. And this is the second thing that Luke is emphasizing for us: not just the reality of the resurrection, but also the necessity of the cross.  Look again at verses 46-47; Jesus is speaking:
“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem”.

We know that when the early Christians talked about the death of Jesus, they often turned to Isaiah chapter 53 to explain it, and this is so common that we can only conclude that Jesus was the one who had given them this line of interpretation. In Isaiah 53 the prophet talks about how the servant of the Lord will suffer, not for his own sins, but for the sins of the people. In Isaiah’s memorable words,
‘Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:4-6).

There is a kind of exchange here: we are the ones who are guilty, but we do not suffer for our own sins. Instead, God lays our sins on the shoulders of his servant, and the servant suffers on our behalf. The result is forgiveness and healing for us and for all God’s people, rather than suffering and judgement.

We see that forgiveness and healing in the way that Luke tells the story of the cross. Luke is the gospel writer who tells us that, when the soldiers were crucifying Jesus, he prayed for them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). Later in the story we read about the two bandits who were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The one mocks Jesus, but the other rebukes his comrade: ‘Don’t you know that we’re just getting what we deserve?’ he says, ‘but this man has done nothing wrong’. Then he turns to Jesus and says, ‘”Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Jesus replies, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (23:39-43).

Luke doesn’t give us a theological theory of how the cross works, but his story makes it clear that it is here, at the cross, that we sinful human beings can receive the forgiveness that we so desperately need. We are the guilty ones, but God in his mercy came among us in the person of his Son and bore our guilt and shame, so that we could receive forgiveness and healing. And that message needs to be proclaimed loud and clear to a broken world, so that people can come to the cross for themselves and receive God’s forgiveness.

That leads us to the third thing that Luke stresses for us: not just the reality of the resurrection, not just the necessity of the cross, but also the urgency of the task ahead. Look again at verses 46-48, where Jesus is speaking:
“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things”.

This commission is given by Jesus in all four gospels and in the book of Acts, in various forms. Jesus did not intend for his followers to stay in Jerusalem and keep the message to themselves. Jesus did not think that all religions and philosophies were basically equal and that all that was necessary was tolerance and respect, important though they are. And so in all of the records we have, he sends his followers out - to proclaim his message to others, to challenge them to turn to him in repentance and faith, and to receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. A Jesus who is content for his disciples to stay at home and just ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ is an imaginary Jesus; he’s not the Jesus of the gospels. The Jesus of the gospels is a missionary Jesus - the word means ‘one who has been sent’ - and he commissions his followers to be missionaries too. The message has been entrusted to us as stewards, and our responsibility is to pass it on.

Of course, you’ve been hearing a lot about this lately, as we had a sermon series through Lent on sharing our faith; Bishop Jane stressed it at Easter as well, and I was glad to see some of you taking it to heart! As I was checking Facebook on Easter Sunday afternoon, I was really pleased to see that some of you had posted little status updates about your faith in Jesus and his resurrection. I don’t remember noticing this before, although possibly I just missed it. But even a little thing like that is a word of witness, and all of us have opportunities to put in words like that. It’s in ways like this that the good news of Jesus spreads.

And this is how Christ wants our church to grow. Yes, we’re looking forward to the possibility of a new building and we hope we can use it to run programs and build bridges into our community. But the YMCA and the Scouts and the Lions Club can run programs to benefit their communities, too, and in the end, if that’s all we do, we won’t be fulfilling the commission that Jesus gave us. Jesus wants to change the world one heart at a time, as people become his followers and receive God’s forgiveness for their sins, and the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why our words of witness are essential.

But there’s a fourth thing as well, and it’s vital that we not lose sight of it. We’ve said that Luke stresses the reality of the resurrection, the necessity of the cross, and the urgency of the task. The fourth thing is the secret of power. A brand new building may be able to impress people aesthetically, but it won’t change their hearts. A mission action plan may be helpful, but if it’s only about human action, then people’s lives won’t be touched. And if a clever argument can make a person a Christian, then an even cleverer one can unmake them.

No, this is a spiritual struggle, and we need spiritual strength for it. And so our passage ends in verse 49 where Jesus says,
“And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”.

If the first reality that shaped the early Church was the glorious resurrection of Jesus, the second one was the experience described by Luke as ‘the baptism in the Holy Spirit’. He’s not talking about water baptism here; he’s using the Greek word ‘baptizo’ in its literal sense: to sink, to immerse, to fill and surround with water.  Just as a person being baptized by immersion is plunged into the water, so we are promised that we can be plunged and immersed and filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit of God. This is what happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and although our experience may not be an exact duplicate of theirs, we are all promised the living reality of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost Peter quotes the words of the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy’ (Acts 2:17-18).

In the Old Testament the Spirit of God came upon special individuals – kings, prophets – but Joel promises that in the last days this gift will be available to all people. This, says Peter, has been fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, and it is still being fulfilled today. There is absolutely no doubt in the Book of Acts that this was a living reality to the early Christians; take away the Holy Spirit and their life would have collapsed.

So this is where I want to leave you today, because this is the thing that makes everything else we’ve been talking about real to us. The resurrection is real, but most of us today don’t see the risen Jesus with our own eyes and touch him with our hands and watch him eat a piece of fish in front of us, though we’re grateful for the stories of those who did experience him in that way. Our way of experiencing him, though, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit is the one who connects us to Jesus. The Spirit is the one who assures us that our sins are forgiven because, on the cross, the Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world. And the Spirit is the one who gives us the words and the courage to speak to others about the Lord Jesus and to invite them to become his disciples; the Spirit is the one who works in their hearts too, drawing them to faith in Christ. So let us pray to God daily that we too may be baptized in the Holy Spirit, so that we may know Christ for ourselves, and make him known to others. Amen.

Note: the outline for this sermon (but not the actual content) is based on William Barclay's commentary on Luke 24:36-49 in the Daily Study Bible.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 23 - April 29th, 2012

April 23rd, 2012 Office is closed.

April 26th, 2012

7:00 am Men’s & Women’s Bible Studies @ the Bogani Café

11:30 am Seniors Lunch

2:00 pm Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’ Home

3:00 - 7:30 pm Music Rental

7:00 pm Planning & Building Meeting

April 29th, 2012 4th Week of Easter

9:00 am Holy Communion

10:30 am Morning Worship & Sunday School, with speakers from Flying Doctors of Canada and the Stollery Hospital.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sermon for April 15th - 'The Christian Adventure'

It was a real delight for me to have Bishop Jane preach here last weekend, but the downside was that I didn’t get to preach my Easter sermon! Still, I will take consolation in the fact that in the Christian year Easter lasts for fifty days, from Easter Sunday until the Day of Pentecost! The resurrection of Jesus is such a joyful event that we shouldn’t just celebrate it for one day; we continue to celebrate it for seven weeks, and this year I hope we stay on that theme and explore it together in our hymns, our prayers, and our preaching.

One of my favourite movies about the life of Jesus is Franco Zeffirelli’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, which was first shown on TV on Easter weekend of 1977. Near the end of the movie, there’s a wonderful scene in which one of the Jewish religious leaders – the people who have been Jesus’ enemies – goes down into the empty tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid. He looks around him, shakes his head, and says to himself, “Now it begins! It all begins!”

At first that may seem a very strange thing to say at the end of the movie, and at the end of the story of Jesus. But the scribe was right. He and his colleagues had tried hard to stop Jesus and to stamp out his message, but the empty tomb spelled disaster for their efforts. He knew that once the word got out about this, the movement would spread like wildfire; hence his words: “Now it begins!”

And so it’s true, you see, that although the story of the resurrection of Jesus comes at the end of each of the four gospels, it’s really not the end, but the beginning. We Christians read the stories of the things Jesus did and said long ago, but those aren’t the only stories about Jesus we celebrate. We believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is seated in power at the right hand of God the Father, and that he continues to work in the lives of men and women and children by his Holy Spirit. Those stories began on the day of Resurrection, Easter Sunday, and have continued right through to today.

And those stories will continue in the lives of Cian, Gabriella, and Spencer, who are going to be baptized today. Our risen Lord Jesus Christ is in the business of transforming lives, bringing us forgiveness of sins, a living relationship with God the Father, and the power of his Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out. Baptism and faith is how all that comes into our lives, and so today as Cian, Gabriella, and Spencer are baptized they are at the beginning of a brand new adventure of learning to know and love and follow Jesus. What a great day for them!

Let’s take a moment to go back in our minds to the evening of Good Friday; let’s think about those scattered and shattered followers of Jesus, Peter and John and James and Mary Magdalene and the rest. They had firmly believed that Jesus was the Messiah – that is, the King like David who God was going to send, the one who would drive out the Romans and the corrupt Jewish leaders and set up God’s kingdom on earth, his kingdom of justice and peace. The old prophecies had said that the Messiah would defeat his enemies through the power of God, but something had gone horribly wrong with that picture: Jesus had not defeated his enemies, but had been crucified by them. This was not something that the disciples had been expecting. In their minds, this could only mean one thing: they had been wrong about Jesus, and he was not God’s promised Messiah after all. They had wasted the last three years of their lives on an imposter. The best thing for them to do was to keep their heads down in the city until the dust settled, and then slip off quietly back to Galilee and resume their former lives.

But then the stories began to come in. Some of the women went to the tomb on the Sunday morning to finish the job of anointing the body. Tombs in those days were not like graves today – they were family affairs, usually caves in which the bodies were kept until they had decayed and all that was left were bones. Then the bones would be collected and placed in an ossuary for posterity, and that particular place in the tomb would then be available for another family member when it was needed. That’s why John makes a point of telling us that Jesus was laid in a new tomb, which had never been used before.

But when the women got to the tomb they had a shock; the huge stone across the entrance had been rolled away, and when they looked in, they saw that the body was gone. So they ran to the place where the disciples were hiding and told them about it. Peter and John decided to investigate; they ran back to the garden, and one of the women, Mary Magdalene, followed them. Peter and John found everything as Mary had said – the body gone, the linen cloths lying where it had been, with the turban for the head lying a little way away, neatly folded. Puzzled, not knowing what was going on, but beginning to hope, Peter and John slipped away.

Mary, however, stayed at the tomb, and so became the first person to actually see Jesus alive after his resurrection, as we heard in last week’s gospel reading. I want to point out to you that if a fiction writer in first century Jerusalem had been making this story up, there are two details he would definitely have left out. First, in the culture of that day women were considered to be unreliable witnesses; their evidence was inadmissible in a court of law. So if you were making this story up and wanting to convince people that it was true, you definitely wouldn’t have a woman as the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Secondly, you definitely wouldn’t include a story about how sometimes people didn’t recognize Jesus at first; you would want to get across the idea that there was absolutely no doubt about his identity.

The gospel writers, however, were not quite so creative with the truth as some modern skeptical scholars would have us believe. They tell us that a woman was the first witness of the resurrection because they knew that that is, in fact, what happened. And the fact is that there was something very mysterious about the risen Jesus, and people didn’t always grasp right at the beginning that it was him. This was the story that the witnesses remembered, and because they were honest, they told the truth.

So Jesus appeared first of all to Mary by the tomb early on Easter morning. Later in the afternoon two followers of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, seven miles away; they were talking sadly about what had happened, but then a stranger came and joined them as they walked along the road. He asked them what they were talking about, and out came the whole story. “How dull you are!” the stranger said: “Don’t you know the scriptures predicted this?” And he proceeded to give them a guided tour through all the prophecies and explained how they had been fulfilled in Jesus.

Eventually they reached their destination and invited him in for a meal. There he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, and their eyes were opened and they realized it had been Jesus all the time. He vanished from their sight, but they ran all the way back to Jerusalem, went to the upper room and told the disciples “We’ve seen him!” The others said, “Yes, we know – he’s appeared to Peter as well!” – a meeting we know nothing about. But as they were talking together, Jesus appeared among them! They were afraid and some found it hard to believe, but when he invited them to touch him and asked them for something to eat, they realized it was true.

And so it continued for the next six weeks. Sometimes Jesus appeared to individuals, sometimes to groups; at one time, to a group of more than five hundred of his followers. Sometimes the appearances were in Jerusalem, sometimes back in Galilee. Sometimes people recognized him right away, at other times it took longer. It was wild and unpredictable and scary and exciting; the disciples knew that God’s power had broken into their world as never before. The story of Jesus wasn’t over after all: the adventure had just begun!

If it’s true, what difference does it make for you and me?

First, it means that Jesus was right. Jesus, you know, wasn’t just a nice mild-mannered person who had gone about helping people everywhere. He had also said and done some pretty puzzling things that seemed rather bigheaded and even blasphemous at first glance. What sort of humble and godly preacher says to his followers, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God the Father?” and “I and the Father are one?” What sort of genuine religious leader tells people that if they believe in him he will give them eternal life? What kind of a crank assumes that he has the power to forgive people’s sins, and makes a habit of doing it on a regular basis? Or claims to be the one who had been sending the prophets and preachers to Jerusalem for the last few centuries? Or, when one of his followers kneels before him and exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” accepts it and says, “You believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet still believe!”

When I read about some of the words and actions of Jesus, I can’t avoid the impression that if he had appeared today, we would have seen him as a cult leader or a candidate for permanent residence in a psychiatric ward. Certainly that is the way that some of the people in his day saw him – the religious establishment thought he was a dangerous charlatan, and at one point his family tried to take him home because they thought he was off his rocker!

But then came the resurrection, and suddenly Jesus’ followers realized that in fact God had vindicated him. He is the Son of God; he is the way, the truth, and the life. His death wasn’t just a cruel travesty of justice, but was somehow a fulfillment of God’s purposes as the blood of the lamb of God was shed for the sins of the whole world. And now God had raised him from the dead and exalted him to the highest place, higher even than Caesar off in Rome – because everyone knew that Caesars lived and died, but only Jesus had been raised from the dead. And so, they said, God had made him ‘Lord of all’ – an amazing title for a Galilean carpenter, and only possible because of the resurrection.

So the resurrection means that Jesus was right – that he is the Son of God, the Lord of all, the one who died and rose again for us and now calls for us to give him our allegiance and follow him. Second, it means that Jesus is on the loose! You can’t nail him down any more! The world will never be safe from him again; you never know where he is going to show up.

A few weeks ago a group of us met together here at the church to think about the subject of sharing our faith stories with others. One of the exercises we did involved the creation of a time line of our lives. We each drew a line down the centre of our paper, representing the story of our lives. On the left hand side of the line we noted the events – birth, school, marriage, childbirth and so on – including some of the times of stress and difficulty that we went through. Then on the right we noted times when we were particularly aware of the help of God and the presence of Christ in our lives. I think that all of us were surprised at how frequent those times were.

They’re not dramatic stories, of course, like the New Testament resurrection stories, but in a sense they are resurrection stories nonetheless, because it was the living Christ who was making himself known to us when we needed his touch and a sense of his presence. Millions of Christians around the world can tell those stories, stories of how the presence of the risen Jesus has brought them forgiveness and peace, and a strength beyond their own. I would not be standing in front of you as a preacher this morning if I could not tell a story like that about my own life.

The resurrection means that Jesus was right – he is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. It means that he is on the loose, doing real things in the lives of real people, not just long ago in Bible times, but even today too. And thirdly, it means that Jesus is calling for our allegiance. He said to his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20a).

That’s what baptism is, you see – it’s a transfer of our allegiance. From now on, we acknowledge that our lives don’t belong to ourselves, and they certainly don’t belong to our employers or to the leaders of our country. Above all other rulers, Jesus Christ is Lord of all. To be baptized is to acknowledge him for who he is and to commit ourselves to serving and following him as our Lord. To bring a child for baptism is to say, “Yes, Jesus is our Lord, and we want our child to grow up to follow him too”.

And what about the rest of us? Have we given him our allegiance? One of the pitfalls of formal liturgical worship is that it’s easy to mouth written words without really meaning them. Many people have come for baptism and confirmation, or brought children for baptism, without really meaning what they are saying. But today, perhaps, is an opportunity for us to really mean it. Perhaps the risen Jesus is speaking to you this morning as you listen to the message of the scriptures. Perhaps you realize, maybe for the first time, that he really is alive and is calling you to believe in him and follow him. If that’s so, don’t put him off; rather, turn to him in your heart and respond to his invitation. The exact form of words isn’t important; simply put your life in his hands and ask him to forgive you your sins and help you to follow him from this day forward. And then step out in the joy of his resurrection and begin to live the Christian adventure!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 16 - 22, 2012

April 16th, 2012 Office is closed.

April 17th, 2012

11:15 am Holy Communion @ St. Joseph’s Hospital

April 18h, 2012

7:15 pm Vestry Meeting

April 19th, 2012

7:00 am Men’s & Women’s Bible Studies @ the Bogani Café

2:00 pm Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’ Home

3:00 - 7:30 pm Music Rental

April 22nd, 2012 3rd Week of Easter

9:00 am Holy Communion

10:30 am Holy Communion, Sunday School

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 9 - 15, 2012

Weekly Calendar

April 9th, 2012 Office is closed.

April 12th, 2012

7:00 am Men’s & Women’s Bible Studies @ the Bogani Café

2:00 pm Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’ Home

3:00 - 7:30 pm Music Rental

April 13th , 2012

6:00 – 9:00 pm Diocesan Homeless Conference

April 14th, 2012

8:00 – 4:30 pm Diocesan Homeless Conference

April 15th, 2012 2nd Week of Easter

9:00 am Holy Communion

10:30 am Holy Communion, Sunday School & Baptism