Sunday, May 27, 2018

'God of Power and Love' (a sermon on Isaiah 6.1-8)

This past week I was away at our diocesan clergy conference, and on the last day of the conference – Thursday morning – Bishop Jane led us in a session on preaching. Part way through the session she asked us to reflect on what it was that we wanted to say in our sermons for this Sunday. And then she asked us a couple of even more interesting questions: whydo we want to say that, and how does what we want to say connect with our personal sense ofpassionfor God and God’s message?

Today is Trinity Sunday, and maybe the last thing you’re expecting to hear on Trinity Sunday is any sort of passion! Maybe you’re expecting a dry theological discourse about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Maybe there’ll be some clever sermon illustration - like the three leaves of a shamrock - or the fact that water can take the form of ice, or liquid, or gas. It all sounds a little forced and contrived, and at the end of the sermon your vision of God is somehow lessthan it was before, as if Einstein had been deluded enough to think that E=MC2can adequately sum up the whole of reality.

That’s notwhat I want to do here this morning. I want you to leave church this morning with a bigger view of God, not a smaller view. I want you to catch a glimpse of a God who is far beyond anything we can possibly understand or imagine – a God who can never be reduced to a neat formula. I want you to leave this morning excited about a relationship with a God like that. I want you to think to yourself “Wow! A God like that would be amazing to know – even if we can never adequately describe him! You could spend a lifetime getting to know him and hardly scratch the surface!” 

I think we can catch some of that excitement from our Old Testament reading today, from the book of the prophet Isaiah.Let me set the scene for you. We’re told that Isaiah had this transformational encounter with God ‘in the year that King Uzziah died’ (v.1). This was a time of uncertainty and change for God’s people; Israel and Judah were feeling small and vulnerable against the might of Assyria and its new king, Tiglath-Pileser. In this context, God gives Isaiah a vision of who the trueking is, a vision that emphasizes God’s power and majesty and holiness.Isaiah seems to have had this vision in the temple; perhaps he had gone there to pray or take part in a sacrifice. What does the vision tell us about the Lord, the God of Israel? Look at verses 1-4:
‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance around him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory”.
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke’.

Notice: Isaiah doesn’t try to describethe Lord’s appearance. That’s a common feature in stories of God’s appearances in the Bible; they describe the edgeof the field of vision, and the ‘court personalities’ around God, but not God himself. Why? Because the authors know there’s no human language adequate to the task of describing the God they’ve seen. The most Isaiah can bring himself to say is that the Lord’s throne was ‘high and lofty’, and ‘the hem of his robe filled the temple’. I don’t know if any of you have seen the coronation photographs of Queen Elizabeth from 1953; she’s a fairly small figure but she’s wearing an absolutely enormous cloak, stretching all around the platform she’s standing on. And Isaiah sees God as the high King of all kings, with a massive cloak that stretches around him, so huge it fills the entire temple building.

Truly there’s no language we can use, no picture we can create, that can adequately describe God. The Bible uses all sorts of images for God: the rock of our salvation, the Good Shepherd, the Lord of the armies of heaven, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the true heavenly Father, and so on. But not one of them is big enough to give us a complete picture of God.

Nowadays I think we have an even stronger sense of the majesty and indescribability of God than Isaiah did. Think of what we know about the universe today! The universe is about 14.5 billion years old, but God was there before the big bang, and through all those billions of years God has been present, sustaining the whole thing. Ever since the big bang, the universe has been expanding at incredible speed, and the distances are truly astronomical – pun intended! Alpha Centauri is one of the closest stars to us, but it would still take us four years, travelling at the speed of light – which we can’t do, of course – to reach it. The light from some of the stars in our night sky has taken millionsof years to reach us. And yet God created all that, and God holds it all in hands of love.

How can we ever begin to describe such a God? Isaiah uses the word ‘Holy’ three times: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’ (Isaiah 6:3). The word in the Hebrew scriptures is ‘qodesh’ and it means ‘apartness’, ‘set-apartness’, ‘separateness’, ‘sacredness’. When applied to human beings it means ‘set apart for God’. A holy person is a person or nation God has set apart as his own special possession; the Church is ‘holy’ because we, its members, have been set apart by God as a people belonging to him.

But obviously when applied to God himself the word has a slightly different meaning. “Set apart”. “Separateness”. We might say the emphasis is on the differencebetween God and us. God isn’t just the biggest thing in all of creation; God isn’t ‘in’ creation at all. God’s love is the force that keeps the whole of creation going. He’s completely different from us: his love and knowledge and goodness have no limits.

How can I possibly understand such a God? How can I do anything but fearsuch a God? In God’s presence I must be smaller than an ant! Me trying to understand God is like an ant trying to understand quantum physics! That’s why the Israelites were forbidden to make graven images of their god. Any image you could possibly make of God is inadequate; no image can ever do justice to the original.

And yet, that’s not the end of what the Bible has to say about God. Isaiah thinks at first that it is. He sees the glory of God and his brain feels like it’s exploding; all he can think about is what a sinner he is and how angry God must be about his sins.
“Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the king, the LORD of hosts!” (6:5).

I must admit to having a grunt of recognition here! I imagine what it might be like if God had hung a digital recorder around my neck, and on the day of judgement he just leaned forward and pressed ‘play’, and suddenly I’m listening to all the unkind and cruel and judgemental things I’ve ever said – all the lies I’ve told - all the times I’ve ever spoken without thinking – all the times I’ve put other people down – all the times I’ve said things to impress people. I’m well aware of the damage I’ve done over the years by my words. Truly, I’m a man of unclean lips. How can someone like me stand up in the presence of a holy God?

And yet there is cleansing with God. In the Hebrew scriptures the people offer sacrifices on the altar for the forgiveness of sins. In Isaiah’s vision there’s an altar there with burning coals on it: the angel picks up a live coal with a pair of tongs and touches Isaiah’s lips with it – which I can’t imagine would have been a pleasant experience! But the result is purification: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out” (v.7).

What are we saying to someone when we forgive them? We’re saying, “Yes, you’ve hurt me, but our relationship is worth too much to me for me just to throw it away. So I’m not going to hit back; I’m not going to cut you off; I’m going to continue to love you and be there for you”. In other words, forgiveness is an act of love.

‘Holy, holy, holy’ is Isaiah’s vision of God. But in our Gospel reading we hear another word for God: ‘love’.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).

What can we possibly say about a love like this? This earth is huge to us but it’s a pin-prick in the vastness of the universe. How could God care about one tiny planet in all his enormous creation? How could he care about the two-legged creatures who’ve been walking the face of that planet for a tiny part of the time it’s been in existence? And is it even conceivable that he could care for oneof those creatures as an individual: the one I call ‘Me’?

This is the big question in the human heart, isn’t it? Does God notice me? Am I so tiny in the enormity of the universe that God misses the fact that I exist? Or is it possible – can I begin to hope it’s true – that God not only knows I exist but loves me with a love so passionate that he was willing to come and live and die for me, and for every other ‘me’ that has ever lived on earth?

This is the amazing truth the New Testament writers want us to believe. John tells us about it:
‘God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son t be the atoning sacrifice for our sins’ (1 John 4:9-10).

In other words, the almighty creating power that gave life to us and everything else that has ever existed is first and foremost a power of love. Right at the centre of the universe is an awesome and holy being who isn’t a tyrant in love with his own power. Somehow, in a way that we can never fully take in, the holy God Isaiah describes is a God who is all love– pure, holy, just, righteous, faithful and unconditional love.

‘In this is love’, John says, ‘not that we loved God but that he loved us’ (1 John 4:10). God’s love is always first; its only because he loves that I can love. And I might work my whole life long to fill up my bucket with love, while all the time, God’s love is like a mighty ocean. That’s where I can fill my bucket!

The coals from the altar touched Isaiah’s lips and brought him forgiveness. Today the bread and wine of Holy Communion will touch our lips to remind us of Jesus’ love for us; we’re invited to eat and drink our forgiveness and healing. Yes, we’ve fallen short – we haven’t loved God with our whole heart and we haven’t loved our neighbours as ourselves – but ‘God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him’ (John 3:17). So you’re invited to come to him again today – to receive his forgiveness and healing – and to go from this place knowing that you are held in the loving embrace of the God who made you for the pleasure of knowing you.

And one more thing: you’re also called to tell others about this God who loves them. 
In verse 8 we read,
‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

God is still sending people today. The love of Jesus needs to be shared with everyone, and God has chosen to share it through you and me. 

In 1981 the words of this text inspired a Jesuit priest, Father Dan Schutte, to write a song that’s become a classic. Here’s the first verse
I the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry,
All who dwell in dark and sin my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

Come to this God today. Don’t be afraid. He’s calling you to a journey of discovery. All your life long you’re going to be getting to know him, and you’ll never come to the end of him! There’s always going to be more to discover about God! 

Come this morning; let the holy sacrament touch your lips and enter your body as the forgiving love of Jesus touches you deep down inside. And then go – you are sent, as disciples of Jesus, to spread his love wherever you go. God says to you and me today, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” I hope you will join me in the words of Isaiah: “Here am I; send me”. Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Upcoming events

Upcoming Events May 28th to June 3rd, 2018

May 28th, 2018
Office is closed
May 29th, 2018
11:00am Holy Communion @ Rutherford Retirement Residence
May 30th, 2018 
2:00pm Lectionary Bible study @ church
7:00pm Planning & Building Committee Meeting
May 31st, 2018 
8:00am  Men’s and Women’s Bible Study @ Bogani Café
June 2nd, 2018 
4:30pm – 7:30pm  Crosslife Church rental
June 3rd, 2018 (Pentecost 2)
9:00am  Holy Communion
9:45am Combined coffee hour
10:30am Holy Communion & Sunday School

A group are meeting at the church on Friday 1st June at 9.30am to wash windows inside and out weather permitting. If you think you could help please join us. Many hands will make light work.

On Wed June 6th at 7:15pm, our City Councillor Tim Cartmell will be visiting St. Margaret’s to talk to us about the future development of Ellerslie Road and area. If this interests you, please plan to join us. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer so that we can let him know how many people to expect. There is also room on the sign up sheet to add any specific questions you may like answered in regards to this.

Please remember to register your kids for our Kids Kapers Summer Camp. The camp will run from July 30th to Aug 2nd from 9am to 4pm, and Aug 3rd from 9am to noon with a BBQ to follow. Cost is $60 per child and is open to children in grades 1 to 6. We are still looking for a few more volunteers, so please email or call Melanie at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com if you can help out.

Our annual church picnic at the home of Lorne and Beryl Rice is coming up on Saturday June 16th starting around 3pm. There will be fun for all ages! Bring your own meat and beverages, and one item for sharing. Watch for more information over the next few weeks.

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 June 21st. Thank you!

Daytime Lectionary Bible Study from 2pm – 3:30pm on Wednesday afternoons @ the church. Please drop in if you can! Our last study will be on Jun 23rd and then we will resume in Sept.


June 2018 roster

June 3rd, 2018 (Pentecost 2)
Coffee between services
Greeter/Sidespeople: Aasens
Counter: C. Aasen / R. Horn
Reader: S. Watson
(1 Samuel 3:1-10, Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17, 2 Corinthians 4:5-12)
Lay Administrants: T. Wittkopf / G. Hughes
Intercessor: D. Sanderson
Lay Reader: T. Cromarty (Mark 2:23-3:6)
Altar Guild (Green): P. Major / L. Schindel
Sunday School (School Age): M. Aasen
Sunday School (Preschool): K. Ewchuk
Kitchen: - 9:45 am: V. Harbour
Music: M. Chesterton
Altar Server: G. Triska

June 10th, 2018 (Pentecost 3)
Greeter/Sidespeople: T. Wittkopf / S. Doyle
Counter: S. Doyle / D. Legere
Reader: S. Fraser
(1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15, Psalm 138, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1)
Lay Administrants: M. Rys / C. Aasen
Intercessor: D. McCosh
Lay Reader: D. MacNeill (Mark 3:20-35)
Altar Guild: (Green): M. Woytkiw / B. Cavey
Prayer Team: L. Sanderson / M. Chesterton
Sunday School (Combined): T. Laffin / K. Durance
Kitchen: M. Rys
Music: E. Thompson
Altar Server: G. Durance

June 17th, 2018 (Pentecost 4)
Greeter/Sidespeople: B. Cavey / L. Popp
Counter: B. Cavey / H. Seggumba
Reader: M. Rys
(1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Psalm 20, 2 Corinthians 5:6-17)
Lay Administrants: D. MacNeill / M. Rys
Intercessor: T. Chesterton
Lay Reader: B. Popp (Mark 4:26-34)
Altar Guild (Green): M. Lobreau / T. Wittkopf
Sunday School (Combined): T. Laffin / M. Eriksen
Kitchen: Hospitality Committee
Altar Server: G. Triska

June 24th, 2018 (Birth of St. John the Baptist) (Morning Prayer)
Greeter/Sidespeople: M. Cromarty / T. Cromarty
Counter: M. Cromarty / M. Eriksen
Reader: T. Cromarty
(Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:7-13, Acts 13:4b-26)
Intercessor: D. MacNeill
Lay Reader: (Luke 1:57-80)
Altar Guild (White): P. Major / J. Johnston
Sunday School (Combined): T. Laffin / M. Rys
Kitchen: E. McFall
Music: M. Eriksen

Sunday, May 20, 2018

'I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh' (a sermon on Acts 2:17-18)

One of my favourite movies is an old 1990 flick called ‘Almost an Angel’; the main character, Terry, is played by Paul Hogan, of ‘Crocodile Dundee’ fame. Terry is a criminal, but on the way out of a bank heist he sees a little girl about to get hit by a car, jumps into the road to save her and gets hit himself. To his surprise he finds himself in heaven talking to God – who looks remarkably like Charlton Heston. God seems to be a little surprised to see Terry – ‘It’s a long time since we’ve had a scumbag here’, he says – and then he tells Terry he’s being sent back to earth.

So Terry’s life changes as he sees himself as ‘almost an angel’ – “I haven’t got my wings yet”, he says. At one point later on in the movie someone asks Terry to pray for him. Terry frowns. “I could”, he says, “but it might not do any good. Last time I was talking to God, he called me a scumbag!”

I have to say as a clergy person that I gave a grunt of recognition when I first heard that line! I often get asked to pray for people! Many people seem to think that the prayers of a priest or pastor are automatically more effective than theirs. But we clergy know our own hearts, and so does God!

There’s an interesting story in the Old Testament book of Exodus. The Israelites have escaped from slavery in Egypt and have arrived at Mount Sinai where Moses first met God. God gives a dramatic display of power as he comes down on the mountain – lightning, thunder, billowing smoke, the earth shaking and so on. The Israelites are terrified, so they turn to Moses and say “Yougo up there and talk to him for us. We’ll wait for you down here! When you come back, we’ll do whatever he’s told you!”

I sometimes refer to this as ‘the cult of the mediator’. A relationhip with the living God is too demanding, too scary for ordinary people, so we set aside special, holy people and get them to do the hard work of relating to God on our behalf. They’re our ‘go-betweens’ - that’s what the word ‘priest’ means in many religions, including the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament there’s little expectation that ordinary people can know God: they’re just told to obey his commandments and show up to offer sacrifices – that’s it. Special people – kings and warriors like David or Samson, prophets like Moses and Miriam, priests like Aaron – they’re the ones who receive the Spirit of the Lord (by the way, ‘spirit’ in Hebrew is ‘ruach’ which also means ‘wind’ or ‘breath’). Kings and priests were exclusively male in Israel, and were appointed by their bloodline – a hereditary power structure. Prophets were more of a wild card – God called who he wanted, men or women, rich or poor, scholars or farmers – and they spoke the word of God in God’s name.

The cult of the mediator is still strong today. Many people think it’s Christian, but it’s really not. Interestingly enough, the word ‘priest’ is never used for Christian ministers or pastors in the New Testament. Congregations are cared for by people called pastors, or overseers, or elders. But the word ‘priest’ is used in the Church in two senses: for Jesus, our great high priest, and for the whole Christian community together. The message is clear: This is not just for the lucky few! Everyoneis invited to know God and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We see this on the Day of Pentecost which we read about this morning. It seems as if a hundred and twenty believers were gathered together in one place, and we don’t read of there being any kings or Jewish priests among them. They are male and female, blue collar and white collar – all social classes. Suddenly the Holy Spirit fills them – God breathes his new life into them, and they’re aware of his presence in them in a new and amazing way. This new life overflows with joy; they begin to praise God in languages they’ve never learned, languages the people around them can understand. And this new life also overflows in witness: the crowd gathers, and Peter begins to explain to them about Jesus and his gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 1 Jesus had promised them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (1:8) – and that was exactly what was happening to Peter.

Our first reading gives us the first part of Peter’s sermon. The believers had been accused of drunkenness because of the joy of the Holy Spirit, but Peter offers an alternative explantion. Look at Acts 2:16-18:
“No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your 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”.

‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh’ (17). This doesn’t mean that everyone will automatically receive the Spirit; our God never forces himself on anyone against their will. What it means is that all mayreceive the Spirit if they choose. No one is barred because of their gender, their social status, their status as priest or lay person, their level of education and so on. All are now invited into that most intimate of all relationships – having the ‘Breath of God’ breathing in you.

The fact that this applies to both men and women is especially emphasized in Joel’s prophecy. We know that women were present on the Day of Pentecost; Acts 1 lists the male disciples and then adds ‘…together with certain women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus…’ (1:14). Joel had foretold this - a day when the ministry of prophecy would be exercised equally by men and women – ‘…your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour our my Spirit, and they shall prophesy’ (17-18). 

We have to admit that this equality was only partially achieved in Bible times. In a patriarchal society it was natural that people saw what they expected to see, and so we don’t see an absolute equality of partnership of men and women in this minstry of declaring the word of the Lord. But we do see signs of it, and Luke, the author of Luke’s gospel and Acts, seems to have particularly rejoiced in it. It’s clear in this text that gender makes absolutely no difference when the Breath of God comes down!

Let me say one more word about what this means. Our Anglican Church is a structured church with clear lines of demarcation between ordained and lay people. So it’s natural we should think in terms of ‘who can get ordained’. For myself, I’m happy and proud to be part of a Church that ordains men and women equally, and I’m happy to argue the case with anyone who disagrees.

But this text goes far beyond that issue. To ‘prophesy’ in the Bible doesn’t mean ‘to foretell the future’ (although prophets do sometimes do that). Fundamentally, it means to be given a messge from God to speak to others in God’s name. Joel is saying that the day will come when allpeople can do this – men or women, young or old, slave or free – simply because God’s Breath, God’s Spirit, is in them. There is no hint of a difference here between clergy and lay people: the Spirit is given to all, so all can speak God’s word to one another.

Note that we’re not talking about lone rangers, people going off on their own to enjoy a one-on-one ‘me and God’ experience. We’re talking about the whole community gathering together in ministry, listening to the Word of God together, weighing up what’s said together, submitting to each other, serving together – because everyone shares in the gift of God’s Spirit.

Even slaves! Verse 18 says, ‘Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy’. Slaves were the lowest social class – they were possessions, or tools, owned by others. But God values them as individuals, God breathes his Spirit into them, God makes them ministers!Imagine a first-century Christian aristocrat receiving a word of prophecy from his slave! That’s revolution! As Mary had foretold in Luke 1, ‘He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly’ (Luke 1:51b-52).

This is God’s intention: that the Gospel should go out to all people – Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. This message is not just about having your sins forgiven and being adopted as God’s daughters and sons, although that’s wonderful enough. No: it’s also about indwelling– about God being with us and in us. God’s breath, God’s wind, God’s Spirit will live in the whole Christian community, and all can minister in God’s name. There’s no hint of the cult of the mediator here. No one else can do the hard work of relating to God for you.Youare called to be filled with the Spirit, to learn to pray, to learn to listen to God’s voice in the scriptures, and to step out in witness for him. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). That’s your birthright as a baptized Christian.

A bit later on in the chapter, in verses 38-39, Peter gives the crowd an invitation:
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him”.
The promise of the Spirit is for allwho believe and are baptized. In Old Testament times the sign of God’s covenant with his people was circumcision, which was fine as far as it went, but it only went as far as half of the human race. In the New Testament the sign is baptism, which is offered to men and women alike. All can receive the Spirit and be included as equals in the covenant community.

The New Testament tells us the story of the first generation of Christians. Most of them heard the Gospel as adults; the Spirit worked in their hearts, and they put their trust in Jesus and committed themselves to him. They were baptized as adults and the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

There are very few stories in the New Testament of Christian families applying this to the upbringing of their children; this came later. Gradually, most Christians came to believe that it was right for children of Christian homes to be received into the community by baptism. The model here is of the community as a school of disciples, wth baptism as enrolment, even at an early age. Jesus told us, “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 that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). So we baptize our children and enroll them as Jesus’ disciples so we can teach them to follow Jesus. The promise of the Spirit is given in baptism, but it also needs to be ‘lived into’ as we pray each day to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Today we include little Alex in this promise. As Ryan and Jenny bring him for baptism, he will take his place with us as a full member of the community that St. Paul calls ‘the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’. And when he’s been baptized we’ll pray for him in these words: ‘Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon this your servant the forgiveness of sin, and have raised him to the new life of grace. Sustain him, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit’. We’ll also say ‘Give him…a spirit to know and love you’. In other words, he will need to learn that Christianity isn’t just about going to church and learning Bible stories. It’s about living in relationship with God – receiving power to live for God – finding joy in witnessing to others about God’s work in our lives. AllChristians are called to these things.

Including you and me. What is this saying to us as baptized Christians?

It’s reminding us that the Breath of Godis in us– but we need to breathe it in daly! It’s not enough just to breathe once – you have to breathe over and over again! So: let’s pray daily, even hourly, that the Spirit would fill us and strengthen us and guide us to live for God.

It’s reminding us not to settle for the cult of the mediator.That’s paganism, and even Old Testament Judaism, but it’s not Christianity. You’ve been offered the Breath of God – the very life of God in you. Why would you settle for an oxygen tank brough to you by someone else? Peter says, “The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:39).

It’s reminding us that the Church is a fellowship of the Holy Spirit.The English word ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’ translates the Greek word ‘koinonia’ which means ‘to have something in common’, ‘to share together in something’. In the early chapters of the Book of Acts we don’t see lone ranger Christians going off on private projects for God. We see a joyful community doing God’s work together. By ourselves we don’t always find it easy to discern what God is calling us to. But the Holy Spirit is strong in the community,  so we come together, we talk things through, we pray, we wait on God, and the Spirit guides us. So we’re called to commit ourselves to this fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

We’ve seen that the passage is reminding us that the Breath of God is in us. It’s reminding us not to settle for the cult of the mediator. It’s reminding us that the Church is a fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And finally, it’s reminding us to remember our call to be a ministering community, a serving community. Men and women, rich and poor, young and old, people of all backgrounds and races and classes: we’re all joined together as priests, prophets, witnesses, servants and ministers of Christ.

A pastor called Jon Wimber told a great story about this. He was the founder of the first Vineyard Church which became a community of thousands of people with a large staff and structure. One day a person called him in a state of some agitation. “Where is everyone? I’ve been trying to get hold of someone at the church for days! I met this man who was homeless, and we got talking, and I realized he really needed a place to stay and some food. So I called the church several times, but no one answered. Eventually I had to take him home to stay with me and give him some food myself. Don’t you think the church should help people like that?”

Wimber was quiet for a moment, and then he said one simple sentence: “Sounds like the church did”.

If you are a Christian, then you are the Church, together with all Christians. The Spirit - the Breath of God – lives in you, connects you to God, and equips you for the works of service he’s called you to. So: take a deep breath, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and then step out in faith to follow Jesus wherever he leads.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Upcoming events

Upcoming Events May 21st to May 27th, 2018
Tim will be away at Clergy Conference from noon on Tuesday until end of day Thursday. 

May 21st, 2018
Office is closed
May 23rd, 2018  
Office is closed
2:00pm Lectionary Bible study @ church
May 24th, 2018  
8:00am  Men’s and Women’s Bible Study @ Bogani Café
May 25th, 2018  
6:00pm Friday Night Church wind up BBQ
May 26th, 2018  
4:30pm – 7:30pm  Crosslife Church rental
May 27th, 2018 (Trinity Sunday) 
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion & Sunday School 
12:00 noon Discussion on Development Process, lunch will be provided

Our final Lunch Bunch until September is Thursday May 24th 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 the church office at 780-437-7231, or email stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

We will be having our wind-up BBQ for Friday Night Church on May 25th from 6pm to 8pm. Weather permitting we will BBQ and have outdoor activities.  There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer.  Please RSVP by Tuesday May 22nd to Melanie at 780-437-7231, or email stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

PLEASE plan to join us to discuss the next steps in St. Margaret’s development plan, next Sunday May 27th starting at noon. Lunch will be provided. You should have received more information on this by email, and there are hard copy information packages on the table in the foyer as well. 

On Wed June 6th at 7:15pm, our City Councillor Tim Cartmell will be visiting St. Margaret’s to talk to us about the future development of Ellerslie Road and area. If this interests you, please plan to join us. There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer so that we can let him know how many people to expect. There is also room on the sign up sheet to add any specific questions you may like answered in regards to this.

Our annual church picnic at the home of Lorne and Beryl Rice is coming up on Saturday June 16th starting around 3pm. There will be fun for all ages! Bring your own meat and beverages, and one item for sharing. Watch for more information over the next few weeks.

Registration forms for our Kids Kapers Summer Camp are now available. The camp will run from July 30th to Aug 2nd from 9am to 4pm, and Aug 3rd from 9am to noon with a BBQ to follow. Cost is $60 per child and is open to children in grades 1 to 6. There are only 25 spots available, so please register early. If you have any questions, please email or call Melanie. 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

Daytime Lectionary Bible Study from 2pm – 3:30pm on Wednesday afternoons @ the church. Please drop in if you can!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Upcoming Events May 14th to May 20th, 2018

May 14th, 2018
Office is closed
May 15th, 2018 
2:00pm Funeral of Doug Harris @ Glenwood Funeral Home
May 16th, 2018 
2:00pm Lectionary Bible study @ church
7:15pm Vestry meeting @ church
May 17th, 2018 
8:00am  Men’s and Women’s Bible Study @ Bogani Café
11:15am Holy Communion @ St. Joseph’s Hospital
May 18th, 2018 
7:00pm Bishop Jane’s 10th Anniversary Celebration @ Cathedral
May 19th, 2018 
4:30pm – 7:30pm  Crosslife Church rental
May 20th, 2018 (Pentecost)
9:00am  Holy Communion
10:30am Holy Communion and Baptism & Sunday School

Our final Lunch Bunch until September is Thursday May 24th 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 the church office at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

Daytime Lectionary Bible Study from 2pm – 3:30pm on Wednesday afternoons @ the church. Please drop in if you can!

What’s the next step in St. Margaret’s building redevelopment plan? We are ready to move forward and need your input!! PLEASE plan to join us for an informal discussion after church on Sunday May 27th. You should have received more information on this by email, and there are hard copy information packages on the table in the foyer as well.
On Sunday June 17th there will be an ‘Extraordinary Congregational Meeting’ at 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. (approximately) at which motion(s) will be presented and debated, and a decision made about the next step we will take in this process.

We will be having our wind-up BBQ for Friday Night Church on May 25th from 6pm to 8pm. Weather permitting we will BBQ and have outdoor activities. Please plan to join us! There is a sign up sheet on the table in the foyer. For more information, please contact Melanie at stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com, or 780-437-7231.

The St. Margaret’s Grass Cutting Team (SMGCT) 2018 will be starting up again this June, with a get-together-training in late May.  We are looking for volunteers to be a part of the SMGCT!!  If you like fresh air, getting a tan and fun exercise, please contact the church office at 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.  No experience necessary!

Thank you to all who donated money towards purchasing some new NRSV Large-Print Text Bible. 5 of these have been ordered.

Registration forms for our Kids Kapers Summer Camp are now available. The camp will run from July 30th to Aug 2nd from 9am to 4pm, and Aug 3rd from 9am to noon with a BBQ to follow. Cost is $60 per child and is open to children in grades 1 to 6. There are only 25 spots available, so please register early. If you have any questions, please email or call Melanie. 780-437-7231 or stmargaretsedmonton@gmail.com.

10th Anniversary Celebration
of the Consecration of Bishop Jane Alexander
Please join in celebrating with the Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander the 10th anniversary of her consecration as Bishop of Edmonton. A festive eucharist will be held the evening of May 18th at 7:00 pm at All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral: 10035 103 Street, Edmonton. Reception to follow.