Friday, October 26, 2012

Trunk or Treat This Sunday October 28th

October 29th - November 4th, 2012

Weekly Calendar

October 29th, 2012  Office is closed.
October 30th, 2012
7:30 pm  ‘Unconditional’ Book study at St. Margaret’s.
November 1st, 2012
7:00 am Men and Women’s Morning Bible Study at the
Bogani Café.
2:00 Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’s Home
November 4th, 2012
9:00 am Holy Communion
10:30 am Holy Communion and Sunday School 


November 4th, 2012  Pentecost 23
Coffee between services and at 10:30 am
Greeter/Sidespeople:   T. Cromarty/ J. Durance           
Counter:  T. Cromarty/ J. Durance                                   
Reader:  C. Aasen                                   
(Ruth 1: 1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9: 11-14)
Lay Administrants:  D. MacNeill/D. Schindel                       
Intercessor:  L. Thompson                       
Lay Reader:  D. MacNeill            (Mark 12: 28-34)           
Altar Guild (Green):  M. Woytkiw/P. Major
Prayer Team:  S. Jayakaran/E. Gerber                                   
Sunday School (School Age):  M. Cromarty
Sunday School (Preschool):            E. McDougall/A. D-Verrill
Kitchen: - 9:45 am    J. Johnston            10:30  L. Popp
Music: W. Pyra
Altar Servers: A. Jayakaran

November 11th, 2012  Pentecost 24
Greeter/Sidespeople:   The Moggs            (Schindel)
Counter:  R. Mogg/L. Schindel                                   
Reader:  R. Goss                                   
(Ruth 3: 1-5, 4:13-17, Psalm 127, Hebrews 9: 24 - 28)
Lay Administrants: G. Hughes/L. Thompson
Intercessor: N/A Remembrance Day Moment                       
Lay Reader:  B. Popp            (Mark 12: 38 – 44)           
Altar Guild: (green): M. Lobreau/L. Pyra
Prayer Team:  K. Hughes/ E. Gerber                       
Sunday School (School Age):  J. McDonald           
Sunday School (Preschool):  M. Eriksen
Kitchen:  M. Chesterton
Music:  E. Thompson           
Altar Servers: E. Jayakaran

November 18th, 2012             Saint Margaret
Greeter/Sidespeople:  A. Shutt/ E. McDougall           
Counter:  E. McDougall/L. Kalis                                   
Reader:  S. Watson                       
(Isaiah 58: 6-12, Psalm 146, James 2: 14-26)
Lay Administrants:  E. Gerber/C. Aasen                       
Intercessor: C. Aasen                                   
Lay Reader:  L. Thompson      (Matthew 25: 31 – 46)           
Altar Guild (green): J. Mill/A. Shutt
Prayer Team:  M. Chesterton/M. Rys                                      
Sunday School (School Age): M. Aasen           
Sunday School (Preschool):  T. Laffin
Kitchen:  M&A Rys                       
Altar Servers:  A. Jayakaran

November 25th, 2012  Pentecost 26
Greeter/Sidespeople:  T. Willacy/ T. Laffin           
Counter:  T. Laffin/M. Eriksen                       
Reader:  G. Hughes                                               
(2Samuel 23: 1-7, Psalm 132:1-13, Revelation1:  4b-8)
Intercessor:  B. Popp                       
Lay Reader:  L. Thompson    (John 18: 33 – 37)           
Altar Guild (white): MW/MW              
Sunday School (School Age):  C. Ripley
Sunday School (Preschool):  S. Doyle
Kitchen:  The Popps
Music:  R. Mogg                       


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sermon for October 21st: Mark 10:45

A Ransom for Many

Do you ever wonder why it is that we have a gallows right at the front of our church? Well, of course, we don’t really have a gallows, but what we have would have been just as shocking to first century Jews: a cross. Crosses have become a huge part of our culture; we see them dotted all over the landscape, they mark churches and ambulances and hospitals, and I suspect that they are the most common form of neck ornament in the western world.

But what if, instead of crosses, we wore little electric chairs on chains around our necks? What if we had a gallows or a guillotine at the front of our church? Wouldn’t you think we were being more than a little morbid? After all, crosses were used in the Roman world for the execution of criminals – and not just any criminals, either. Crosses were reserved for the execution of rebels and traitors against the Roman Empire. So it’s more than a little strange that in 1 Corinthians 2:2 Paul says to his Corinthian converts ‘For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified’. Doesn’t it seem a little weird to you that as Paul travelled around the Roman Empire, he chose to make the Cross the centre of his message – the fact that Jesus had been executed as a rebel against Rome? What’s that all about?

Christian teachers and scholars and theologians have been working to try to figure out the meaning of the Cross of Christ for two thousand years, and one thing that’s become very clear to us is that it’s too big a mystery to be summed up in any one explanation or image. Rather, it’s like a diamond with many facets, and all we can do is hold it up to the sunlight, turning it around slowly in our fingers and enjoying the beauty of each individual facet. Even when we put them all together, we haven’t completely summed up all the beauty and wonder of what Jesus accomplished by his death on the Cross. As Paul says in another context, ‘Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I’m not going to attempt this morning to explain all the different images and concepts that theologians have used to try to understand the Cross. Instead I’m going to focus in on one of them, the one that Jesus used in our gospel reading for today: the idea of the Cross as a ransom. But remember – this is not an exhaustive interpretation! It’s one illustration among many; it helps us to grasp one part of the mystery of the Cross, but it won’t give us the whole picture.

The context is a discussion Jesus is having with his disciples when they are on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus has made it plain to them that when he gets there very bad things are going to happen to him, but they aren’t listening. They think he’s going to take over the kingdom of Israel, and they want to make sure that they get the top jobs. James and John even come right out and ask him if they can have the thrones on either side of his! But Jesus rebukes them, because he knows what they don’t know: that the only throne room he’s going to get in Jerusalem will be the hill of Golgotha, and the positions on either side of him will be crosses as well! Then Jesus calls the whole disciple company together, and this is what he says:

‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:42b-45).

Let’s focus in on that last verse: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”. The word ‘ransom’ here is related to the English words ‘redeem’ and ‘redemption’. To ‘redeem’ something is to buy it back by the payment of a price. The ‘ransom’ is the price that is paid for this act of redemption.

Let me give you some illustrations. The first is the illustration of a pawnshop. I don’t know if any of you have ever had to use the services of a pawnshop, so just in case you haven’t, here’s how it works. If you find yourself a little short of cash toward the end of the month, and there are bills to be paid, you can take something you own to a pawnshop – perhaps a watch, or a piece of jewelry. You give it to them as security, and they lend you some money in exchange. At the end of the month when you get paid, you go back to the shop and you ‘redeem’ your watch – that is to say, you pay back what you borrowed, with interest – and the watch is yours again. You have bought it back by payment of a price. On the other hand, if you don’t redeem it within a set time period, it becomes the property of the pawn shop and they can sell it to make a profit.

The word can also be used of people, of course. I remember when I was a boy that I sometimes heard the phrase ‘a king’s ransom’, as in “I had to pay a king’s ransom for it!” What is a ‘king’s ransom’? Well, in the Middle Ages knights were sometimes taken prisoner in battle. When this happened, a message would sometimes be sent to their estates saying “We have Sir Geoffrey; if you want him back, the ransom price will be ten thousand francs”. The price for a king, of course, would be much higher; hence, ‘a king’s ransom’.

These illustrations shed some light on the subject, but the actual background of Jesus’ statement was undoubtedly the slave market. Slavery of course was very common in the ancient world; there were millions of slaves in the Roman Empire in New Testament times. In some situations when a person was about to be sold off as a slave, a member of their family would have the right to ‘redeem’ or ‘ransom’ them – in other words, they could pay the full price to purchase them, and then set them free. That was known as ‘redeeming’ or ‘ransoming’ a slave, and that’s the illustration Jesus has in mind in this passage.

But freedom from what? What exactly is it that Jesus has ‘redeemed’ or ‘set us free’ from? In the Old Testament we read of how God rescued his chosen people from slavery in Egypt, led them out through the Red Sea and brought them into their own promised land. Deuteronomy 7:8 sums up this story in these words: ‘the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt’. Most of the Old Testament references to redemption refer to situations like that: God setting his people free from foreign rule.

But in the New Testament the picture changes: the slavery is no longer literal, but moral. We are in bondage to our sins, and in Jesus ‘we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:14). We also read that ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:13) – that is to say, the curse of judgement which the Law pronounces on those who fail to keep it. So we are seen as lawbreakers, as slaves to sin, and the Cross of Christ has set us free from this.

How are we to understand this? Well, let’s remember that the Lord’s Prayer uses the illustration of sin as an unpaid debt. What is the debt that we owe to God? Jesus spells it out for us very clearly: we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.  These are the two great commandments. Have you kept them? I know I haven’t. Never in a million years could I keep them perfectly! I am therefore a debtor to God.

In New Testament times it was common for debtors and their families to be sold into slavery to recover unpaid debts. Imagine if you were in that situation! Perhaps you’ve made some foolish choices about money, and now your whole family has to suffer the consequences. There you all are, stripped naked and standing up on the auction block while the auctioneer sells you off to the highest bidder. But then to your surprise you see a distant relative in the crowd. He identifies you as his relatives and claims the right to be your kinsman-redeemer. He pays the full price of your debts, and so ‘redeems’ you – buys you back out of slavery. You are free again! Imagine your gratitude to this kinsman-redeemer for what he has done for you.

In New Testament terms, that’s the position I’m in. I’m the one who was about to be sold into slavery because of my unpaid debt to God. But Jesus is my kinsman-redeemer; he has paid the price for my ransom by his death on the Cross. He has set me free.

But what exactly is the ransom price? You may know that when King Richard the Lion Heart was captured in France on his way back from the Crusades, the ransom-price that was demanded of the nation of England was so huge that it would have beggared the kingdom – a ‘King’s ransom’ indeed! But the ransom price paid to redeem you and me from sin and death is greater still. Peter explains it to us like this:
‘You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish’ (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Jesus’ death, in other words, is the price God paid to set us free.

Note that this is just an illustration, and we shouldn’t try to make it into a complete explanation of the cross by trying to make all the details fit. For instance, in the Middle Ages theologians speculated about who it was that the price had been paid to – was it the devil, for instance? But the New Testament never speculates about that, because it’s giving us an illustration, not a theological explanation.

What’s being emphasized here is the value that God puts on his human children, including you and me. One of the French knights captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 was not ransomed for over thirty-five years; obviously his people didn’t put great value on him! But what does it tell you about the value that God places on us, that God the Son came to earth and poured out his very lifeblood on the Cross to set us free? So don’t ever be tempted to think, “I don’t matter to God”! The Cross tells us that we do matter – we matter immensely to God. In the words of a plaque we used to have on our wall: ‘I asked God, “How much do you love me?” “This much”, he said, and he stretched out his arms and died’.

‘For freedom Christ has set us free’, says Paul in his letter to the Galatians. In Galatians he’s thinking of two particular things: first, our deliverance from the due penalty of our sins, by Christ’s death on the Cross, and second, our daily deliverance from the power of sin as the Holy Spirit fills us and helps us to break free from old habits and learn a new way of life. Paul wants us to enjoy the fruits of this deliverance to the full, so he goes on to say, ‘Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’ (Galatians 5:1).

This leads us to one final question. Yes, Jesus’ Cross has ransomed us, has set us free, but what is true freedom? As we look for an answer, let’s go back to our gospel reading and hear again the words of Jesus:

You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42b-44).

A slave who has been set free probably celebrates the fact that he never has to serve anyone else ever again, but curiously, we Christians are not in that position. Since God has paid the price to set us free, we are now God’s property, and God has a plan for us. He wants us to learn that the most wonderful place to be in the world is not the place where everyone else is waiting on us hand and foot. Rather, it’s the place of loving service, after the example of the one who gave his life for us.

Look carefully at what Jesus is saying here. He’s not saying, ‘If you want to be great, serve other people, and then God will reward you by making you great so that you won’t have to serve others any more’. Rather, he’s saying, ‘If you want to be great, live the life of a servant of others, because that is the greatest position on offer in the Kingdom of God’. After all, if even the King sees himself as a servant, that should tell you something pretty fundamental about what the Kingdom of God is all about.

It’s a tragedy that so often in the Church we’ve gotten into the same old way of thinking that Jesus came to set us free from – the idea that there are higher-ups and lower-downs, and that the higher-ups get to lord it over everyone else while the lower downs get to serve the higher-ups. After all, if we really took Jesus seriously here, we’d all be rushing to get to the bottom of the ladder, not the top! That’s why Mennonite writer Donald Kraybill called the Kingdom of God ‘The Upside-Down Kingdom’.

Let’s close as we began, by considering the fact that we have put a Cross at the highest place at the front of our church. Let’s also remember the reason Jesus gave us this sacrament of Holy Communion. Paul says, ‘For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:26). There was a man who used to come to this church years ago who reminded me of this every week. He would come to the front for communion; I would put the bread in his hands and say, ‘The Body of Christ broken for you’; he would say ‘Amen’, and then, just before he ate the bread, he would look up at the Cross – reminding himself, I suspect, of what this service is all about.

So as you come to communion today, why not look up at the Cross and remind yourself of what this service is all about? Look up with thankfulness, remembering that Christ has given himself as a ransom to set you free from the guilt and power of sin. And look up also in commitment, remembering that the Son of Man came to lead us in a life of service to others. So, no race for the top of the ladder for us! Rather, as Jesus said,
“Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 22nd - 28th, 2012

October 22nd, 2012  Office is closed.
October 23rd, 2012
7:30 pm  ‘Unconditional’ Book study at St. Margaret’s.
October 25th, 2012 
7:00 am Men and Women’s Morning Bible Study at the
Bogani Café.
2:00 Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’s Home
7:00  Planning & Building Meeting
October 27th, 2012
3:30 pm  Spaghetti Church
October 28th 2012 with Guest Speakers
9:00 am Holy Communion
10:30 am Morning Worship and Sunday School
Good Works Fair & Trunk or Treat

St. Margaret’s will be holding a Good Works Fair on October 28th, 2012 from 11:00 – noon. Our Good Works Fair partners, 10,000 Villages, The Bissell Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital will be speaking during the service and will be available for information and discussion during the coffee hour. 

Our 3rd Annual Trunk or Treat will also be held on Sunday October 28th, 2012.  After the 10:30 service, we will block off the driveway (for safety reasons) and let the children trick or treat at each remaining trunk or tailgate (of a car). If you wish to participate please bring a treats with you on this Sunday. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 15th - 21st, 2012

October 15th, 2012  Office is closed.
October 16th, 2012
11:15 am  Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s Hospital
7:30 pm  ‘Unconditional’ Book study at St. Margaret’s.
October 17th, 2012
7:15 pm  Vestry Meeting
October 18th, 2012 
7:00 am Men and Women’s Morning Bible Study at the
Bogani Café.
11:30 am Seniors Lunch
2:00 Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’s Home
5:00 pm Wedding Rehearsal (Green/Szlanda)
October 20th, 2012
2:00  Green/Szlanda Wedding
October 21st 2012
9:00 am Holy Communion
10:30 am Holy Communion and Sunday School
12 noon  Fall Congregational Meeting

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 8 - 14, 2012

Weekly Calendar

October 8th, 2012  Office is closed.
October 9th, 2012
7:30 pm  ‘Unconditional’ Book study at St. Margaret’s.
October 11th, 2012 
7:00 am Men and Women’s Morning Bible Study at the
Bogani Café.
2:00 Women’s Bible Study @ M. Rys’s Home
October 12th & 13th, 2012
Diocesan Synod
October 14th, 2012 Guest Preacher: J. Shantz of the Mennonite Center for Newcomers
9:00 am Holy Communion
10:30 am Holy Communion and Sunday School

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Baptism at St. Margaret's

Christian Baptism at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Edmonton

What is Baptism?

Throughout our history we humans have used physical signs and given them non-physical meanings. We shake hands with someone to indicate friendship; we shake our fist to indicate anger or dislike; we nod and wave and kiss and exchange wedding rings and use all kinds of other physical gestures and symbols.

In the sacrament of Baptism, God takes a physical action and gives it a spiritual meaning. The Bible gives us two records of Jesus commanding his first followers to baptize new Christians:

‘And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned”’ (Mark 16:15-16).

‘And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and 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. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

In these verses we can see that Jesus was sending his followers out to the whole world to spread his message, the ‘Good News’, and to call people to become his disciples (a word which is very close in meaning to our modern word ‘apprentices’). The early Christians went everywhere and told people that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection human beings have been reconciled to God, and that the power of God in Jesus can set us free. They invited those who heard their message to put their trust in Jesus as their Rescuer (‘Saviour’) and Master, and to commit themselves to a lifetime of learning the new way of life Jesus taught, in company with other Christians. Those who accepted this offer were baptized as a sign that they were becoming followers of Jesus.

The first generation of new Christians were mainly adults who put their faith in Jesus and were baptized almost simultaneously. There is some indication in the Bible, however, that the children of people who were becoming Christians joined their parents in baptism so that entire households were marked as followers of Jesus together. In later generations the majority of Christians came to believe that it was right for the children of followers of Jesus to be baptized as babies. After all, in baptism we become ‘disciples’ (learners, apprentices), and it is never to early to begin to learn the new way of life Jesus is teaching.

Baptism is something which is common to all Christians. There is no such thing as ‘Anglican baptism’ or ‘United Church baptism’; baptism is not a sign of becoming an Anglican but of becoming a follower of Jesus.

What does it mean to be baptized?
If you are an adult or older child going through baptism, you are simply saying “I believe in Jesus, I am thankful for all that he did for me, and I want to commit myself to a lifetime of learning to follow him in company with other Christians”.

What does it mean to have a child baptized?
You are saying “I myself am a follower of Jesus and a member of his Church. I believe that the Christian Faith is the best gift I can pass on to my children, and I want them to grow up to hear the Good News, believe in Jesus and follow him. So I am having them baptized as a sign that they belong to Jesus, and I commit myself to bringing them to church regularly, passing on the Gospel to them, and teaching them (by my words and my example) to believe it and put it into practice”.

Please note that in the Anglican Church we do not believe that a child who dies unbaptised will go to hell. To believe this would be to see baptism as a magical rite protecting a child from the cruelty of a monstrous god. Rather, infant baptism is a sign of a family’s commitment to following Jesus together in the company of fellow-Christians in Christ’s Church.

When are baptisms held at St. Margaret’s?
Because baptism is not only about coming into a relationship with Jesus but also about becoming a member of the community of his followers, baptisms are held at the time when that community is gathered together - Sunday morning worship. Furthermore, in order that people can be properly prepared for baptism, the sacrament will normally be administered on certain set Sundays of the year, after a time of preparation with the parents.

In the Bible people were baptized after they had heard the Gospel and indicated that they believed it and wanted to live by it. Therefore, before people are baptized or bring their children for baptism we ask them to go through a period of instruction with our Rector, Tim Chesterton, in which he can explain the Gospel, how baptism fits into it, and what the baptismal promises mean.

Also, since the baptismal promises include a commitment to bring up your child as a church member, we ask that you make a habit of joining us for Sunday worship (see below for information about our services).

What about godparents?
In the first years of Christianity, when people were choosing to become Christians as adults, the Church appointed sponsors to walk beside these new Christians as mentors and help them grow in their new faith and lifestyle. The sponsors often went through the baptismal preparation with the candidates. Later on, when the custom of infant baptism became general, the ‘sponsors’ became ‘godparents’, and they committed themselves to helping the children grow in their Christian faith.

Because of this commitment, sponsors or godparents should be baptized Christians who are prepared to make the spiritual commitment expressed in the baptismal promises.

If a chosen godparent is unable to attend the service, it is possible to have another person stand as their proxy.

It is also quite acceptable for parents to stand as godparents for their own children.

What sort of support is there for children at St. Margaret’s?
At St. Margaret’s we have two Sunday services, at 9.00 and 10.30 a.m. The 10.30 service lasts for about 75 minutes, and is very child-friendly. Children stay in the church with parents for the first part of the service (opening hymn and prayers, Bible readings, and a children’s talk) and then go down to the basement for Sunday School for about 20-25 minutes during the sermon and intercessions. They then come back up to join their families for the last part of the service, Holy Communion.

During the school year there are often as many as 20 children in our 10.30 service, many of them pre-school, so there is no need to worry about people noticing a child who makes a noise! We also have sound feed out into the foyer and in the nursery in the basement, so if a child is extremely noisy and disruptive it is possible for a parent to take her out until she calms down, and still hear what is going on in the service.

There are also some children who attend our 9.00 service (which lasts for 45 minutes); however, this is a quieter service with no Sunday School or other provision for children, so most parents choose to bring their children to the 10.30 service.

General Information

How much does it cost?
Absolutely nothing - if it’s money you’re talking about! Of course, there’s also a sense in which it costs everything - after all, it’s a commitment to end an old way of life and start learning a new one, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit!

What about photographs?
Photographs may not be taken during the service itself, but they are permitted afterwards.

Will there be a record of a baptism?

All baptisms are recorded in a register kept in the parish, and a certificate is also given to the candidate or the parent(s) of the candidate.