Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Stewardship Witness Talk by Debbie Legere, Nov 12th, 2017

What St. Margaret’s and Christian Generosity Means to Me

I became a part of St. Margaret’s a little over 3 years ago.  I have surprised myself at how I have grown while finding more meaning in Christ and the true meaning of being a Christian. 

There are so many things to love about St. Margaret’s and all of these have brought me to where I am now.  What I have thoroughly enjoyed was following 2 Pilgrim studies, One about Prayer with Bill Hybels book Too Busy Not To Pray and The Commandments, a book study called Surprise the World and being a part of Richard King’s talks about how we can be more Christian like vs Evangelistic.

From these study groups, I found that praying can be exciting and comforting.  Having a better understanding of the Bible and following 10 important “rules” has helped me to become more aware of what the Lord wants me to do.  By being more grateful and appreciative to everyone and everything around me, this has helped me to pass this beauty forward with a very warm heart!

What Christian generosity means to me comprises of 2 things-it is an act of kindness being passed forward that can lift your spirits to the stars and back!

It is also knowing that God’s work is coming from the inside out and helping me to become a better version of myself.  I may not always be a GOOD Christian or read the bible to a “T” but all I ask is to please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet!

Thank you

Debbie Legere

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Stewardship Witness Talk by Carolyn O'Brien Nov 19th, 2017

Stewardship notes:  Reflections from a ‘Rooky’
Thank you Tim.

Well, this week had been full of dread having to follow the eloquent words of David Smith!

As I am just beginning my third year at St. Margaret’s, it has been interesting to reflect on the first two years here.

Like David, I am not always present for the nine o’clock service, but if we are in town, I am here.  Wasn’t I so lucky to have had him as a professor?

I am not new to the Anglican Church.  Here is a bit of background.  Having been born in 1951, I am a Boomer. (Apparently, I have 2.5 children, 1.5 station wagons, and a dog or cat or both.)  I have lived in Edmonton all my life, and grew up in St. John the Evangelist parish, which is now the Strathcona Seniors’ Centre. I loved going to church with my family, Sunday school, brownies and guides, all in the same building.  You may find this hard to believe but I have only lived in four homes in my 66 years.  In my 20’s, due to marriage, I joined the Roman Catholic Church, where I spent the next 40 years.  During this time, I stayed home with the three children for nine years, and taught for Edmonton Catholic Schools.  I loved teaching.  These last few years, as circumstances changed, I felt a yearning to return to the Anglican Church.

How did I find St. Margaret’s?
Having always been known as ‘Cautious Carolyn’, it was most unusual for me to attend that first Sunday at St. Margaret’s, not even having told any member of my family. Passing it on Ellerslie Road many times, I decided to go in.

To my complete surprise, someone recognized me from the golf course.  That person was Borden, who came right over and welcomed me.  God had led me here, I was certain. Months ago, Tim spoke about the reasons why people attend Church.  He mentioned four main reasons then, all of which seemed to resonate with me.   Since that first Sunday, I have recognized others as well, including David. Sally and others made me feel at home.  The tranquil, peaceful, intimate atmosphere of the nine o’clock service appeals to my soul.  After a busy week, it is a privilege to come and be able to reflect and concentrate prayers on friends and family who are struggling, as well as those for whom we pray at St. Margaret’s.

However, the most import aspect of this gathering, for me, is the learning aspect.  My youngest son, David, has intellectual challenges but is often most profound.  Speaking about my deceased Godmother, who had spent many Sunday dinners with us after her husband had passed away, and was a clever woman,  judge and author, David said ‘Mom I miss Auntie Marjorie, because every time she came for dinner, I learned something’. (Of note is this, that at over the years before her death, she quietly gave away all of her money to charity, which drove Revenue Canada bonkers!)  That is how I feel each and every Sunday at St Margarets.   
In Education, we talk about Life Long Learning.  The quiet atmosphere here at St. Margaret’s allows one to be able to hear clearly the Word of God, and absorb Tim’s sermons about it, without distractions.  Maybe we don’t need to talk a lot afterwards. Maybe it is part of the serenity here that wants us to be reflective.  We all know people who are always on SEND instead of RECEIVE.  When one was younger at church, there were so many distractions, including minding ones’ own children.  Joining St. Margaret’s has been one of THE best decisions of my life.

With regard to Christian Generosity, I was somewhat surprised to find such a dearth of material.  One website had 419 references from scripture listed. Sorry Tim, I did not read them all!  Many quotes are familiar, ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, ‘tis better to give than receive’. ‘You reap what you sow’. ‘More seeds make more crops”. We know them all. And, one does not have to be a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet in order to give.

The themes in those relevant passages of Scripture are clear.  God has given us everything that we have in life, including His Son.  If we wish to attempt to be more like God and Jesus, we need to give.  Last year the Stewardship program provided me with the impetus to give more.  The work of the Church must be supported and every bit helps.  In closing, I would cite the words of Horace, ‘the truly generous people are the truly wise people’, and of Mother Teresa, ‘A life not lived for others, is not a life”.

Thank you.

Carolyn O’Brien 

Christ the King Sunday - a sermon by the Rev. Sarah Holmstrom

A sermon by the Rev. Sarah Holmstrom – Nov 26th, 2017 Christ the King Sunday

Happy New Year!  Well almost.  We have come to the end of another church year and you would think that we would be presented with a Gospel that is well, a bit more celebratory.  What we have instead is the last of the judgement parables in Matthew’s Gospel.  Maybe that is something to celebrate?  Before we can put it behind us for another year, we must as the great collect of a few weeks ago calls us, read, mark and inwardly digest.

As you are well aware, the parables of judgement that have been our weekly nourishment for the past several weeks, leading up to this Christ the Kings Sunday.  And in a similar manner to the ten virgins, the workers, and today’s sheep and goats, they catch us by surprise.  They catch us by surprise because they sound offensive, we don’t understand them, or perhaps because we were not prepared.  I want to suggest for us this morning that there is Good News to be found among these parables.

I think that it is fitting that these passages from Matthew come to us at the end of our church year as we anticipate Jesus’ coming, for the first time as at Christmas, but also for the last.  They are the kinds of passages that get us to reflect upon our Christian life both individually and corporately as those who make the claim, “Jesus is Lord.”  On December 31st much of the world will make new resolutions in many areas of their lives: work, health, relationships.  Christ the King Sunday affords us the opportunity to take a look at the year that has past and ponder whether or not Jesus is really Lord of our life in every area.  Just how does a passage like today’s Gospel do this?  Well, I was helped by a colleague of mine who said that these passages are like the speed signs you see while driving that tell you your speed and you make the necessary adjustments so you don’t get a ticket.  Or the signs on the QEII that tell you road conditions and give you reminders to buckle up and give room for the person in front of you so you don’t end up in an accident.  A person can go about NOT heeding these rules and reminders but eventually it will catch up to them and that is what our passage is like today.

Truthfully, if we have been following Jesus closely, we will already be aware that Jesus has been calling us to a righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees.  Jesus rejects any acclamations of “Lord” from anyone who hears his word but does not do it.  The judgment criteria is, as we have heard all along, have you lived out your baptismal vocation?

In our passage about the sheep and the goats, the road sign message we are given, at the very least, is “treat everyone as being created in the image of God.”  Christian or not we are all cut from the same divine cloth.  In fact, when it comes to respecting the dignity of all human beings, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that we are without excuse.  Jesus’ answer to “when did we see you?” could also have read, “when not?”  Our lives are to reflect the Divine image in which we were made and a life of mercy is what Jesus holds before to day as to what that looks like.  On this Christ the King Sunday we are to reflect on the fact that our lives are to look like lives that truly believe Jesus is Lord.  In other words, does the “Lord, Lord” that we declare match our life? 

Now, before we think this means we have to go out and create world peace, notice in this parable, Jesus does not call us to the grandiose.  He doesn’t make any commands to end poverty and homelessness in ten years nor put an end to all wars and human violence.  He does call us however, to offer a cup of water, give away the extra apple in our lunch box to the hungry person, welcome the stranger, offer our jacket, and visit someone who is sick or in prison.  We are simply called to be who we are, lights shining in a dark world where even though this is much pain and suffering and for all intents and purposes it does seem that Jesus is not Lord, our simple acts proclaim and hold up for the world, Jesus is Lord.

Every year around this time some of the classic Christmas films come out on TV.  There are two in particular wherein the central characters are asked to take stock of their lives.  The first one is A Wonderful Life, where the main character is shown how valuable his life is to the fabric of the life of the community he was a part.  The message was that the measure of your life is not the job you have or prestigious things accomplished but the way in which you touched the hearts and lives of those around you. The other movie is A Christmas Carol, where the character of Scrooge was like the goats in our passage, until he was graced with an experience that gave him a chance to amend his life. 

We must be reminded, that unlike in these movies, good behavior doesn’t result from mere human effort but from the power of God’s Spirit at work in the life of one who is wholly submitted to Jesus as Lord.  Nevertheless, they both act in a similar way to Jesus’ parable wherein the criteria of judgment for a faithful life is the life of mercy that we have lived. 

Jesus is concerned about how believers have lived out their baptismal vocation and let their light shine before others so that all may see their good works and give glory to God.  It is not the glamourous that matters but what we do and how we live our lives moment by moment, knowing that it matters not just in the present but also in the future.  And so, as we reflect on the year that has past let me ask us: did those we encounter meet Jesus?  Does our being a followers of Jesus Christ make a difference for the world around us? 

Why does this matter? I just finished reading a fascinating book called iGen:  Why Today’s Super Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.  There are many interesting facts about this generation born after between 1995 and 2012 that “likes their phones more than people.”  A few in particular strike me.  The first is that iGen’ers are more likely to post social justice stuff online BUT less likely, in fact not likely at all to act in regards to what they posted.  They’ll judge the heck out of you on social media but won’t lift a real-life finger.  There are many interesting reasons for this phenomenon, the most notable being, they don’t like face to face interaction and it might be unsafe.  This is interesting because what it means is that altruism will continue to decline.  And if Christians are called to live in obedience to Christ’s commands without thought to what it costs to us then we need to think about what his means as we raise the next generation.

The other interesting fact about iGen’ers is that they do not like conforming to anything: patterns of life, authority, etc.  They value individualism which means someone telling them how to live is, well, out of the question.  Not surprisingly we see young people rejecting religion at a higher rate than ever before.  This generation is the first to not have any clue what church is or who Jesus is. It is simply not in their experience.  So again, words and phrases that you and I are familiar with such as, “take up your cross and follow me,”; “whoever hears these words of mine and does not do them cannot be called my disciple”; are not only counter cultural, they are not even on the table for these young people.

I actually think these shifts in the iGen are not just the fault of iPhones and the internet but also that these young people are products of a culture that has also gone this direction.  Whatever the case, the consequences are not good.  iGen’ers are lonelier, less connected, are at higher risk for anxiety and depression, and most alarming of all, are dying by suicide at rates we have never before witnessed.  Just to give some perspective, you cannot get in with a psychologist at the UofA unless you are at the point of wanting to commit suicide, the waiting lists are long and for too many students it’s not enough and it end up being too late.

So again, what does this have to do with our passage this morning?  It means that kingdom living, it starts now.  It means being a light in a dark world and witnessing to the hope that is in Christ.  It means, as a professor of mine used to pray, becoming more like God’s Son, Jesus Christ, for the world desperately needs us to be this.  We need to live our lives in obedience for the sake of the world not just as matter our salvation but the salvation of the world.  Contrary to what the world might tell us, living in this way really is a matter of life and death right now.

So may we, as we enter a new church year, pray for the grace and amendment of life, so that we can become more like God’s Son Jesus Christ, for the world, perhaps more than ever, desperately needs us to be this. Amen.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Stewardship Witness Talk by Sylvia Jayakaran Nov 26th, 2017

Stewardship talk by Sylvia Jayakaran – Notes for Nov 26th, 2017

To me personally, stewardship is about having a refined understanding that we are accountable for the time, talent, wealth etc. that God placed in our lives to use wisely in a way that honors His objective. In the short span of time that we are destined to be here on earth we have temporary ownership of these things.  As a matter of fact, we bring nothing into this world and take nothing from this world when we die. Just as in the parable of the talents, we are expected to provide an account of how we used these for His glory. It is that reverential fear that drives my actions on how I use them.

The congregation of St. Margaret’s are a stellar example of people who share Christ-like genuine love with the people around them. My family has benefited greatly from the wisdom, the talks, the smiles, the care and concern in times of adversity and the oneness of spirit when we pray for each other’s needs.

I have observed excellence and finesse in organizing events that benefit charities, supporting young children in their walk with Christ, maintaining the church and church grounds and many other things. Every one of your activities caught my attention and I am greatly blessed that you could be such role models for my children.

Sometimes I have truly admired how people here could sense my anxiety and worries of my heart and provide me with good counsel and support me with their prayers. I thank God for giving me the blessing to get to know you all in my life – in many cases I talk with you all freely like my extended family.

Christian love and generosity is about giving what you have freely and lovingly without dissent or reproach – it is not done as a publicity stunt by any means. This great attitude is something that I found in abundance in St. Margaret’s.

So my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, may heaven’s choicest blessings be upon you this Christmas season so that you can be the best stewards that God destined you to be.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Upcoming events Nov 27th to Dec 3rd, 2017

Upcoming Events November 27th to December 3rd, 2017

November 27th, 2017
Office is closed
November 28th, 2017
11:00am Holy Communion @ Rutherford Heights Retirement Residence
November 30th, 2017
8:00am Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies @ Bogani CafĂ©
December 3rd, 2017 (Advent 1)
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am  Holy Communion and Sunday School
7:00pm St. Margaret’s Christmas Concert

If you would like to donate any new or gently used items to the Bissell Centre, please bring them to church and put in the blue bin in the foyer.

Stewardship Initiative
Please remember to return your ‘statement of intent’ form by Sunday December 3rd. This information is extremely helpful in planning the budget for 2018. We have only received 19 responses to date. If you did not receive a copy by email, there are paper copies on the table in the foyer, or contact Melanie and she will resend to you by email.

Annual Christmas Variety Concert and Pageant: Sunday December 3rd at 7.00 p.m. This is next Sunday, and as usual, this concert will be a fundraiser for the World Vision Raw Hope project. Please buy your tickets today – they are $10 each to a maximum of $30 per family.
If you are able to help by providing goodies for after the concert, there is a sign up sheet on the table in the front foyer.

Residents are invited to the Heritage Valley Park & Ride, Capital Line South LRT Extension and 135 Street/Anthony Henday Drive Connection Public Information Session to receive information and updates on the three projects.
Date: November 29, 2017 Time: 4-8pm, Drop-in
Location: Ellerslie Rugby Park Hall 11004 Ellerslie Road SW 
Please visit

The next Lunch Bunch will be on Thursday December 7th @ the church beginning at 11:30, with lunch starting at 12:00 noon. Everyone is welcome; please come and join us for a time of fellowship. Tim will be leading a Christmas carol sing-a-long. There is a sign up sheet in the front foyer or contact the church office at 780-437-7231 or

St. Margaret’s has a ‘Discretionary’ fund which is used by Tim from time to time when the church is approached by individuals in need of some kind. We like to keep this fund at around $300, but over the last couple of years it has been decreasing. If you would like to donate to this fund, please include your donation in the offering plate and mark it for “Discretionary Fund”.

PWRDF Christmas Initiatives
During Advent, visit the ‘Advent Resource’ section of the website, for a list of daily devotionals. There is also a Christmas Gift Guide at this website with gifts available for purchase.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Roster for December 2017

December 3rd, 2017 (Advent 1)
Coffee between services
Greeter/Sidespeople: L. Popp / M. Eriksen            
Counter:  M. Eriksen / S. Doyle                                   
Reader: C. Aasen                                    
(Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9)
Lay Administrants:  C. Aasen / D. Schindel                       
Intercessor: F. Chester                       
Lay Reader: B. Popp  (Mark 13:24-37)                        
Altar Guild (Purple):  P. Major / L. Schindel
Prayer Team: M. Chesterton / M. Rys                                    
Sunday School (Combined): M. Rys  / M. Eriksen
Kitchen: - 9:45 am: G. Harbour                        
Music: E. Thompson
Altar Server: G. Triska

December 10th, 2017 (Advent 2)
Greeter/Sidespeople: Aasens                       
Counter:  C. Aasen / M. Cromarty           
Reader: T. Cromarty                                    
(Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13, 2 Peter 3:8-15a)
Lay Administrants:  M. Rys / T. Wittkopf            
Intercessor: M. Rys                                   
Lay Reader: D. Schindel (Mark 1:1-8)                       
Altar Guild: (Purple): M. Woytkiw / B. Cavey
Prayer Team:  no one available                         
Sunday School (Combined): E. McDougall / T. Laffin                       
Kitchen: K. Kilgour
Music: M. Chesterton           
Altar Server: G. Triska

December 17th, 2017 (Advent 3 – Lessons and Carols Service)
Greeter/Sidespeople: J. Durance / T. Wiffkopf            
Counter:  J. Durance / D. Legere                                   
Intercessor: T. Chesterton                                                             
Altar Guild (Purple): M. Lobreau / Lessons & Carols
Sunday School (Combined): K. Durance / T. Laffin
Kitchen: E. McFall                        
Music: M. Eriksen

December 24th, 2017 (Advent 4) (10:00am)
Greeter/Sidespeople: T. Cromarty / M. Cromarty                       
Counter: M. Cromarty / D. Schindel                       
Reader: M. Rys                                    
(2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16, Canticle 18a)
Lay Administrants: D. Schindel             
Intercessor: B. Popp                                    
Lay Reader: B. Popp  (Luke 1:26-38)                       
Altar Guild: (Purple): P. Major set up / L. Pyra clean up                         
Music: M. Chesterton

December 31st, 2017 (Epiphany) (Morning Prayer – Doug Schindel)
Greeter/Sidespeople: D. Legere / L. Schindel           
Counter:  D. Legere / M. Eriksen                                    
Reader: S. Fraser                                    
(Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12)                        
Intercessor:  D. Sanderson                       
(Matthew 2: 1-12)                        
Altar Guild (White): Morning Prayer
Kitchen: Goodwins                        

Music: M. Eriksen

Stewardship witness talk by Elsie McFall on Nov 12th, 2017

Stewardship Witness Talk by Elsie McFall, Nov 12th, 2017 at 10:30am

When I thought about what I valued and appreciated about St Margaret’s. I realised there are many things I enjoy.

So one of the things I would like to share that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years, has been my involvement with the young families in the congregation.
Whether helping at Spaghetti Church or preparing snacks for camp, it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to get to know these young people better.
It has been great to be part of their activities.

And I have to tell you when my grandchildren come to church with me. They are always given a warm and generous welcome to Sunday school. And many other I know have enjoyed the same welcome.

I always appreciated the warm and generous welcome I was given when I first started to come. It didn’t matter if I attended the 9 o’clock or the 10.30 service the welcome was the same and I appreciated being greeted by my name. I think it’s a lovely thing to greet others by their name. So I’m always glad when I see your name tag, for although I try very hard to remember everyone’s name. I’m not always successful.

So I would ask whether you are young or old or new to the congregation.... please continue to wear your name tag, so that I can have the pleasure of greeting you by name.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

St. Margaret', Our Servant Queen (a sermon for the Feast of St. Margaret by Brian Popp)

Many of you will have heard Tim tell the story of Queen Margaret of Scotland in years past. Some of you, however, have joined us since the last time he did this, and many of you will have been away on this Sunday in previous years, for one reason or another. So I’m going to briefly tell the story again this morning, and then I’m going to lay it beside our gospel reading for today, to draw some lessons for us as we join Margaret in following our Lord Jesus Christ.

Margaret died on November 16th 1093, nine hundred and twenty-four years ago. She was a member of the aristocracy, and she came into a position of great influence as Queen of Scotland, but she is not remembered today because she was a person of power; rather, we remember her as a person who lived a balanced life of prayer and service to others.

Margaret was the granddaughter of the English king Edmund Ironside, but because of dynastic disputes she was born in Hungary, in the year 1047. She had one brother, Edgar, and a sister, Christian, and many people in England saw her brother Edgar as the rightful heir to the throne of England. In 1054 the parliament of England decided to bring the family back from Hungary so that they could inherit the throne when King Edward the Confessor died, as Edward had no children. So Edgar, Christian and Margaret were brought up at the Anglo-Saxon court under the supervision of Benedictine monks and nuns.

The influence of these Benedictines was tremendously important in Margaret’s life. She learned from them the importance of balancing times of prayer and times of working for the good of others; this would be a good description of her later life as Queen of Scotland. They taught her to read the scriptures in Latin, and she also knew the teachings of the church fathers from the early Christian centuries. Her sister Christian went on to become a Benedictine nun herself.

Eventually King Edward the Confessor died, and soon afterwards William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 and claimed the throne for himself, so Margaret’s brother Edgar didn’t get to become king after all. Edgar and his sisters were advised to go back to Hungary for their own safety. However, the ship carrying the three young people was blown far off course by a fierce gale. They spent some time in northern England and then sailed up the coast to the Firth of Forth in Scotland, where King Malcolm gave them a warm welcome to his court at Dunfermline – a little more rustic, perhaps, than the English court, but I’m sure they were glad of the hospitality.

Margaret was now about twenty years old; King Malcolm was forty, and unmarried, and he soon became attracted to young Margaret. However, she took a lot of persuading; she was more inclined to become a nun, and Malcolm had a stormy temperament, despite his other virtues. It was only after long consideration that Margaret agreed to marry him, and their wedding took place in the year 1070, when she was twenty-three. In the end, although she was so much younger than him, she was the one who changed him; under her influence, he became a much wiser and godlier king.

Margaret was now in a high position in society, and very wealthy according to the standard of the day, but she lived in the spirit of inward poverty. She didn’t see her possessions as really belonging to her; everything was to be used for the purposes of God. As Queen, she continued to live the ordered life of prayer and work that she had learned from the Benedictine monks. She was only the wife of the king, but she came to have the leading voice in making changes that affected both the social and the spiritual life of Scotland. She had this influence because of the depth of her husband’s love for her. Malcolm was strongly influenced by her godly character, so he tended to follow her advice a lot – not only for his own life, but also for the life of the church and people in Scotland. It’s actually quite remarkable that the Scots accepted the church reforms that this foreign queen proposed, but she herself lived such a simple and Christ-like life that they seemed to feel instinctively that her way must be a good way.

We’re told by her biographer that Margaret would begin each day with a prolonged time of prayer, especially praying the psalms. After this, orphan children would be brought to her, and she would prepare their food herself and serve it to them. It also became the custom that any destitute poor people would come every morning to the royal hall; when they were seated around it, then the King and Queen entered and ‘served Christ in the person of his poor’. Before they did this, they sent out of the room all other spectators except for the chaplains and a few attendants; they didn’t want to turn it into what modern politicians would refer to as ‘a photo opportunity’.

The church in Scotland at that time looked more to the old Celtic way of Christianity than to the way of Rome. Margaret had been raised in the way of Rome, and was keen to bring Scotland into unity with the rest of the world, but she didn’t do it in an overbearing and proselytizing way. She also held many conferences with the leaders of the Church, putting forward the Roman point of view about things. Eventually she convinced them, not because of the strength of her arguments so much as by the power of her holy life.

I think it’s fair to say that most people recognized as saints by the Catholic Church were monks and nuns who lived lives of celibacy, far removed from the demands of the world and the pressures of family life. Margaret, however, is remembered as having a happy family life. She had eight children, six sons and two daughters. Her oldest son Edward was killed in battle, Ethelred died young, and we’re told that Edmund didn’t turn out too well. But the three youngest, Edgar, Alexander, and David, are remembered among the best kings Scotland ever had. David I, the youngest son, had a peaceful reign of twenty-nine years in which he developed and extended the work his mother had begun. The two daughters, Matilda and Mary, were both brought up under the guidance of Margaret’s sister Christian in the Abbey of Romsey, and both went on to marry into the English royal family. All of them we’re told, were also taught to follow Christ first – although I find it a little reassuring that even a saintly parent like Margaret didn’t have a 100% success rate with her kids!

Margaret was not yet fifty when she died. As she lay dying, her son Edgar brought her the sad news that her husband and her oldest son had been killed in battle. Despite this grief, we’re told that her last words were of praise and thanksgiving to God, and her death was calm and tranquil.

Margaret was a servant of the Lord. She was canonized in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work in ecclesiastical reform and charity. She is also venerated in the Anglican Church.

Have you ever given any thought about what it would be like to be a ruler like a king or a queen? You would be able to tell your subjects what to do or where to live. You would be famous of infamous depending upon what you did or how well your subjects accepted your commands. You would be part of aristocracy!

When Jesus started his ministry and began assembling his disciples they began to talk about what benefits they would gain from following Jesus as King in the kingdom of heaven. We read in Matthew18 the disciples asking Jesus:
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus responded:
“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In Chapter 19 Peter asks Jesus:
“Look we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The twelve expected to be rewarded by Jesus for their service. Perhaps they were bent on power, position and prestige!

So what does Margaret have to say to us today? To answer this question, I want to turn to our gospel reading for today where we hear about a mother requesting that Jesus grant her two sons ”favored status” among the disciples!

Our Gospel reading this morning from Matthew 20:20-28 tells us about the mother of two of Jesus disciples who asks Jesus to “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” She wanted her two sons to be greatly rewarded by Jesus – greater than the others!

The woman is Salome, wife of Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman, mother of James and John, two of the first disciples chosen by Jesus. My research suggests that she may be the sister of Mary-mother of Jesus. This would mean that she is Jesus aunt and James and John are his first cousins! This closeness of relationship may explain to some degree the boldness of her approaching Jesus with this request! It is not uncommon for this to happen – sometimes it’s who you know-not what you know!

Details are sketchy about James and John. James was one of the first disciples to join Jesus. He lived by the sea shore and was a fisherman like his father. He was known to have a fiery temper. He was eventually beheaded and became one of the first disciples to be martyred.

John was the youngest of the disciples and was much loved by Jesus. We learn in John 19:26-27:
“At his crucifixion when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple standing beside her, he said to his mother “woman here is your son”. Then he said to his disciple “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” John is thought to be the author of several books of the Bible. He was supposedly the only disciple to die of natural causes!

Back to our Gospel reading.

When Jesus responded to Salome’s request concerning her two sons –James and John - he said:
“You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” He is referring to his coming suffering and death on the cross. Are they prepared to go through that suffering and death with Jesus?

They respond:
“We are able” but they do not really understand what Jesus means!

Jesus then says to them:
 “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father!

This exchange troubles the other ten disciples. They are angry with James and John for asking to be treated better than the others. They would be greater than the others! Jesus finally puts an end to this long debate over some being greater than the others!

What does it mean to be greater than others? Greatness can be described as "wonderful, first rate, remarkable, exceptionally good”. Greatness, in the world’s eyes, is about material possessions and accomplishments – it is not about serving God and serving others!

He reminds them that “whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” by giving his life for ours by dying on the cross for us!
A “ransom” in that world, is what someone might pay to give freedom to a slave. Jesus saw his approaching fate as the payment that would set free those who were enslaved in sin and wickedness, not least those who were in the grips of the lust for power and position – yes, people like James and John.  

I have attempted to contrast the servant life and leadership of St Margaret in my earlier discussion with the secular views initially displayed by the twelve disciples – but more importantly by James and John and their mother Salome.

Margaret was the Queen of Scotland – a member of the aristocracy – who had a spirit of inward poverty and wanted most of all to be a servant of God, serving the poor and destitute.

James and John, on the encouragement of their mother – wanted to be royalty within the kingdom of heaven – along with the pomp and circumstance that goes with secular royalty.

If you had your choice which one would it be?

One final thought:

Jesus servant life and death put into perspective the disciples concern for status among themselves and within their church. Do you exercise any responsibility within your church, workplace or your family? Pause and think about how you reflect the servant style of Jesus in the way you carry out those tasks. Then pray for grace to be consistent and humble as you continue serving just as Margaret did!