Friday, September 29, 2017

Upcoming events Oct 2nd to Oct 8th, 2017

Upcoming Events October 2nd to October 8th, 2017

October 2nd, 2017
Office is closed
October 3rd, 2017
2:00pm Surprise the World book study @ church  
7:30pm Surprise the World book study @ church
October 5th, 2017
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies @ Bogani Café
Melanie away
October 6th, 2017
Melanie away
October 8th, 2017 (Thanksgiving)
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am  Holy Communion and Sunday School

We will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Food Bank on Thanksgiving Sunday. Please bring food items to church with you next Sunday. Also a reminder that the special offering envelopes for Thanksgiving in your envelope boxes will go to support World Vision’s Raw Hope initiative. For more information on Raw Hope, please visit their website at http://sites.worldvision.ca/rawhope/.

There is a box on the table in the foyer with envelopes containing  interim giving statements, with contributions to September 17th, 2017.  If you have any questions or changes (including address changes), please call Melanie at 780-437-7231 or email stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

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 October 12th, 2017.  Thank you!

Lunch Bunch will be starting up again on Thursday October 19th at the church beginning at 11:30am with lunch starting at 12:00 noon. Everyone is welcome to join us for this time of fellowship. There is a sign up sheet in the front foyer. For more information please contact Melanie at 780-437-7231.

We are looking for another musician or two to help with playing music during the 10:30am service once per month. If you are interested, please talk with Marci Chesterton, or email Melanie at stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

The Kids Travel Company is going to be back on Saturday October 28th from 9am to 2pm. This will be a fun day for our school age kids (Kindergarten and up) filled with crafts, stories, skits and singing. Lunch will be provided. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the front foyer, along with some invitations. Please invite friends, cousins and neighbours… the more the merrier!


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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Suffering and Joy (a sermon on Philippians 1:12-26)

In John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, I found a story written by a pastor named Tom Schmidt. Tom was visiting regularly in a convalescent hospital where he got to know a remarkable woman. Here’s how he tells the story:

‘As I neared the end of this hallway, I saw an old woman strapped up in a wheelchair. Her face was an absolute horror. The empty stare and the white pupils of her eyes told me that she was blind. The large hearing aid over one ear told me that she was nearly deaf. One side of her face was being eaten by cancer. There was a discoloured and running sore covering part of one cheek, and it had pushed her nose to one side, dropped one eye, and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth. As a consequence, she drooled constantly… I learned later that this woman was eighty-nine years old and that she had been here, bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, and alone, for twenty-five years. This was Mabel.

‘I don’t know why I spoke to her – she looked less likely to respond than most of the people I saw in that hallway. But I put a flower in her hand and said, “Here is a flower for you. Happy Mother’s Day”. She held the flower up to her face and tried to smell it, and then she spoke. And much to my surprise, her words, though somewhat garbled because of her deformity, were obviously produced by a clear mind. She said, “Thank you. It’s lovely. But can I give it to someone else? I can’t see it, you know; I’m blind”.

‘I said, “Of course”, and I pushed her in her chair back down the hallway to a place where I thought I could find some alert patients. I found one, and I stopped the chair. Mabel held out the flower and said, “Here, this is from Jesus”.

‘That was when it began to dawn on me that this was not an ordinary human being. Later I wheeled her back to her room and learned more about her history. She had grown up on a small farm that she managed with only her mother until her mother died. Then she ran the farm alone until 1950 when her blindness and sickness sent her to the convalescent hospital. For twenty-five years she got weaker and sicker, with constant headaches, backaches and stomach aches, and then the cancer came too. Her three room-mates…screamed occasionally but never talked. They often soiled their bedclothes, and because the hospital was understaffed… the stench was often overpowering.

‘Mabel and I became friends over the next few weeks, and I went to see her once or twice a week for the next three years. Her first words to me were usually an offer of hard candy from a tissue box near her bed. Some days I would read to her from the Bible, and often when I would pause she would continue reciting the passage from memory word for word. On other days I would take a book of hymns and sing with her, and she would know all the words of the old songs. For Mabel, these were not merely exercises in memory. She would often stop in mid-hymn and make a brief comment about lyrics she considered particularly relevant to her own situation. I never heard her speak of loneliness or pain except in the stress she placed on certain lines in certain hymns…

‘During one hectic week of final exams I was frustrated because my mind seemed to be pulled in ten directions at once with all the things I had to think about. The question occurred to me, “What does Mabel have to think about – hour after hour, day after day, week after week, not even able to know if it’s day or night?” So I went to her and asked, “Mabel, what do you think about when you lie here?” And she said, “I think about my Jesus”.

‘I sat there, and thought for a moment about the difficulty, for me, of thinking about Jesus for even five minutes, and I asked, “What do you think about Jesus?” She replied slowly and deliberately… “I think about how good he’s been to me. He’s been awfully good to me in my life, you know… I’m one of those kind who’s mostly satisfied… Lots of folks wouldn’t care much for what I think. Lots of folks would think I’m kind of old fashioned. But I don’t care. I’d rather have Jesus. He’s all the world to me”…

‘How could she do it? Seconds ticked and minutes crawled, and so did days and weeks and months and years of pain without human company and without an explanation of why it was all happening – and she lay there and sang hymns. How could she do it? The answer, I think, is that Mabel had something that you and I don’t have much of. She had power’.

This story is an extreme case, but the experience behind it is not uncommon. Many pastors could tell stories of visiting dying people and coming away with their own faith strengthened; the dying ministered to their pastors, rather than the other way around! Apparently Christ can take hold of a person in the midst of suffering and somehow transform them, giving them joy where we would have expected only pain and despair – not by taking the suffering away, but by somehow lifting them above the suffering into his presence.

This was the case with the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life. His letter to the Philippians was probably written from Rome, where he was in prison for preaching the Gospel. His Christian friends in Philippi heard about this; they were concerned, and so they sent a messenger, Epaphroditus, with a gift of money to help Paul provide for his own needs. But Epaphroditus had gotten sick and stayed in Rome a lot longer than expected. Now he was recovered and Paul was sending him back to Philippi with a letter to thank and encourage his friends there – and also, being Paul, to teach them a bit!

Paul can hear the questions in their minds: “If God is in charge, why has he let Paul by arrested? What happens if Paul is executed? Is his message about Jesus really true?” He wants to reassure them that God is in control, and all will be well – not in a sense of ‘whistling in the dark’, but rather of looking into the darkness without fear and finding Christ there.

He starts our reading today in a strange way. He’s basically saying to them, ‘All the bad things you heard about my situation are true – but don’t worry, because they can’t take away my joy!’ There are three kinds of suffering he’s experiencing.

First, in verses 12-14 he says, ‘Yes, it’s true, I’m in prison’. Remember, this is a travelling missionary speaking here – someone who loves nothing better than moving around from place to place telling the story of Jesus to new people. But now he’s in prison so he can’t travel any more. Can you imagine the frustration? How can the Gospel spread when he can’t travel to spread it?

But Paul isn’t frustrated, because God has the last laugh here. First, Paul says, all the guards here know that I’m in prison for Christ, so the Gospel has gotten a much higher profile in the army because of my imprisonment. And if you ask, “How do all the guards know that?” the answer’s obvious, isn’t it? They know because Paul told them! Every time the shift changed a new captive audience arrived to hear the Gospel! Paul must have loved it! He wasn’t going to the world; the world was coming to him!

And that’s not all, he says; the other Christians here have seen that the Lord has strengthened me in my suffering, and they’ve gotten more confident in what he can do for them, too. So they’ve been speaking out more boldly, spreading the Gospel to their friends and neighbours. The Romans may have jailed the missionary, but the Gospel isn’t in jail!

So he’s in prison, but he’s enjoying himself. Another thing that’s happening is that other missionaries are getting a higher profile than he is; he talks about this in verses 15-18. He knows that there’s no such thing in this sinful world as completely pure motivation; even his own motivation isn’t completely pure. It seems that there were other Christian preachers who were jealous of Paul’s success and were competing with him. Now he’s in prison they’re delighted, and they even send word to him about their successes, just to rub it in. “Messenger from Aristarchus, Paul – ‘I preached at the forum today and five hundred were converted’”. Aristarchus expects Paul to be jealous, but instead Paul thanks God. The Gospel is being passed on, even if the motivation leaves a lot to be desired.

But then there’s a third thing, the most sinister of all: there’s a real possibility that he might be executed. He talks about this in verses 18-26. There’s a good chance the Romans will decide that he might be better off dead. And Paul agrees with them: he would be better off dead! To depart, he says, would be ‘to be with Christ’ – not that he isn’t ‘with Christ’ now, but dying would usher him into a more immediate experience of Christ’s presence – and no more whippings, no more imprisonments, no more long and lonely journeys. “Wow!” he thinks; “Bring it on! Living is Christ and dying is gain!”

Paul knows this isn’t an exhaustive list of the kinds of suffering people can face; he doesn’t mention bereavement, for instance, or physical illness. He knew about physical illness, of course; in his letter to the Galatians he mentions how an illness had first brought him to Galatia to preach the Gospel, and God had brought good out of that, too! He isn’t claiming to have suffered everything there is to suffer. Rather, what he’s saying is “This is what I’ve suffered, and the good news is that I’ve found it can’t quench the joy of the Lord”.

So – ‘All the bad things are true, my friends, but I’m still rejoicing in Christ. And more than that, here’s what I want you to know: the only thing that really matters is knowing, serving, and exalting the Lord Jesus Christ’.

The verse that sums it all up is verse 21: ‘For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain’. This is the kind of language lovers use about each other, isn’t it? ‘As long as we have each other nothing else matters; we can be happy even if we’re dirt poor’. And it’s true; they can!

That’s how Paul felt about Christ. He says in chapter three, ‘Whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings’. He doesn’t say “I want to know about Christ” but “I want to know Christ”.

Another of his characteristic phrases is the idea that we’re ‘in’ Christ and Christ is ‘in’ us. This is mystical language, describing the closest possible connection between the risen Lord and his people. How is it possible? It’s possible because God has given us the Holy Spirit to connect us to the Risen Jesus.

This is the way for us to discover joy in the midst of our sufferings: to cultivate this union with Christ. It’s not just about a feeling somewhere in our gut. When Paul decided that living is Christ, that also meant taking on Christ’s priorities. Those priorities didn’t involve him becoming rich, or living a life of ease. They meant living a penniless life as a missionary, travelling around the world, and going through suffering for Christ’s sake.

For me to experience the truth that ‘living is Christ and dying is gain’ is incredible comfort but also incredible challenge. In his first letter, the old apostle John says, ‘By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him”, ought to walk just as he walked’ (1 John 2:6). Seeking first the Kingdom of God, living a simple and generous life, forgiving and loving our enemies, keeping our hearts pure – this is the road we’re learning to walk on. As we walk it together, that’s when we discover that living is Christ and dying is gain. We won’t discover that if we live in greed, materialism, and pride.

That was the source of Mabel’s strength. All she had was Jesus, and Jesus was enough. She was like a cancer-stricken woman Archbishop George Carey visited when he was a young priest. The woman greeted him with a smile and said, “Don’t look so worried; I’m only dying!”

Let me finish by noting how Paul’s view was different from two views that were popular in his day, and are still around today.

In Paul’s day the Stoics said, ‘Life is tough, but it’s short. Suffering comes, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the will of the gods, and all you can do is resign yourself to it, square your shoulders and look forward to extinction. All we are is dust in the wind’.

On the other hand, the Epicureans said, ‘There’s no time to think about suffering - there are too many parties to go to! Have a good time, eat, drink, sleep with the girls, and rock on as if life will never end. Who knows – maybe it won’t!’

One approach pretends there’s no suffering, and when it comes these folks are outraged and see it as an insult and a denial of their right to happiness. The other approach is absorbed in suffering, faces it squarely, but sees no hope, only resignation.

Paul’s view is dramatically different. Suffering is real: people get unjustly imprisoned, their life’s work is taken from them, they lose their loved ones, and they could even lose their own lives. But Paul looks right into the heart of all that darkness, and what does he find there? The light of Christ who went through the suffering of the Cross and came to the glory of the resurrection.

So the conclusion of the matter is not, ‘Know Christ and you’ll be preserved from all suffering’. It’s ‘Know Christ, focus on Christ, serve Christ, see Christ as your greatest treasure – and you’ll be able to have joy in him in the midst of suffering’. This is what Paul experienced. This is what Mabel experienced. And when my time comes, I want to experience it too.

‘For me, living is Christ and dying is gain’ (v.21). The challenge of this verse for me is this: how absorbed am I in Jesus, and the God who he revealed to us? Is knowing and loving Jesus the great story of my life? Is following him the thing I love most? If it is, then, like Mabel, I may be surprised one day to discover that when it’s my turn to go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will ‘fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Upcoming events Sept 25th to Oct 1st, 2017

Upcoming Events September 25th to October 1st, 2017

September 25th, 2017
Office is closed
September 26th, 2017
11:00am Holy Communion @ Rutherford Retirement Residence
2:00pm Surprise the World book study @ church  
7:30pm Surprise the World book study @ church
September 28th, 2017
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies @ Bogani Café
October 1st, 2017 (Pentecost 17)
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am  Holy Communion and Sunday School

There is a box on the table in the foyer with envelopes containing interim giving statements, with contributions to September 17th, 2017.  If you have any questions or changes (including address changes), please call Melanie at 780-437-7231 or email stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

Sept. 29th and 30th: 65th Synod of the Diocese of Edmonton. Lay and clergy delegates will gather from across the Diocese to take counsel together for the renewal and mission of the Church. This year’s theme is “Made New in Christ” and guest speaker Father Michael Lapsley, from Cape Town, South Africa with be speaking about reconciliation. Please pray for delegates from our parish: Tim Chesterton, Sarah Doyle, Sylvia Jayakaran and Brian Popp, and also for Ellis Jayakaran who will be attending as a youth delegate.

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 October 12th, 2017.  Thank you!

Lunch Bunch will be starting up again on Thursday October 19th at the church beginning at 11:30am with lunch starting at 12:00 noon. Everyone is welcome to join us for this time of fellowship. There is a sign up sheet in the front foyer. For more information please contact Melanie at 780-437-7231.

We are looking for another musician or two to help with music during the 10:30am service once per month. If you are interested, please talk with Marci Chesterton, or email Melanie at stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

Reed Fleming with Street Hope Saint John has created a video, which is a conversation about the start of this project (which we support annually with income from our cell tower). If you would like to watch it, please email Tim at stmrector@gmail.com and he will send it to you.

All women of the Parish are invited to attend the Whitemud Regional ACW* Meeting on Saturday October 14th, 2017. For more information, please see notice on bulletin board at the bottom of the stairs. (*Anglican Church Women)

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



Thursday, September 21, 2017

October 2017 roster

Coffee between services
Greeter/Sidespeople: T. Cromarty / M. Cromarty
Counters:  M. Cromarty / S. Jayakaran
Reader: V. Super
(Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16, Philippians 2:1-13)
Lay Administrants: C. Aasen  / M. Rys
Intercessor: S. Jayakaran
Lay Reader: B. Popp  (Matthew 21:23-32)
Altar Guild (Green): P. Major / L. Pyra
Prayer Team: M. Chesterton / L. Sanderson
Sunday School (School Age):  M. Aasen
Sunday School (Preschool): A. Jayakaran
Kitchen (9:45am): G. Harbour
Music: M. Eriksen
Altar Server: No one available

October 8th, 2017 (Thanksgiving)
Greeter/Sidespeople: D. Legere / B. Cavey
Counters: D. Legere  / S. Doyle
Reader: T. Cromarty
(Deuteronomy 8:7-18, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
Lay Administrants:  M. Rys / T. Wittkopf
Intercessor: M. Rys
Lay Reader: S. Jayakaran (Luke 17:11-19)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Woytkiw / A. Shutt
Prayer Team: No one available
Sunday School (School Age): E. McDougall  
Sunday School (Preschool): T. Laffin
Kitchen: B. Cavey
Music: E. Thompson
Altar Server: A. Jayakaran

October 15th, 2017 (Pentecost 19)
Greeter/Sidespeople: J. Durance / T. Wittkopf
Counters: E. McFall / J. Durance
Reader: N. Gutteridge
(Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-9, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9)
Lay Administrants: B. Popp / M. Rys
Intercessor: T. Chesterton
Lay Reader: D. Schindel (Matthew 22:1-14)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Lobreau / J. Johnston
Prayer Team: No one available
Sunday School (School Age): K. Durance
Sunday School (Preschool): D. Legere
Kitchen: M. Rys 
Music: M. Chesterton
Altar Server: G. Durance

October 22nd, 2017 (Pentecost 20)
Greeter/Sidespeople: Schindels
Counters: D. Schindel / K. Kilgour
Reader: D. Schindel
(Exodus 33:12-23, Psalm 99, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)
Lay Administrants: C. Aasen / K. Kilgour
Intercessor: F. Chester
Lay Reader: B. Popp (Matthew 22:15-22)
Altar Guild (Green): P. Major / L. Schindel
Prayer Team: No one available
Sunday School (School Age): E. McDougall
Sunday School (Preschool): M. Eriksen  
Kitchen: E. McFall
Music: E. Thompson
Altar Server: G. Triska

October 29th, 2017 (Pentecost 21) (Youth led service)
Greeter/Sidespeople: Children / youth
Counter:  B. Popp / M. Cromarty
Reader: Children / youth
(Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8)
Lay Administrants: B. Popp / M. Rys  
Intercessor: Children / youth
Lay Reader: A. Jayakaran (Matthew 22:34-46)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Woytkiw / B. Cavey
Prayer Team: M. Chesterton / S. Jayakaran
Sunday School (School Age):  M. Rys
Sunday School (Preschool): T. Laffin
Kitchen: M. Chesterton
Music: M. Eriksen

Altar Server: G. Triska