Sunday, August 12, 2018

An expression of profound faith!

    Picture taken by Rev. Karen Bridges in Botswana 2017

    Ephesians 4:25-5:2 - Do not let the sun go down on your anger.

    Psalm 130 - Out of the depths I cry to God

From what depths do you cry and to whom? The readings today are filled with hope, even though they begin from a place of longing and pain. All too often, when we are in pain and suffering, we isolate ourselves from our church family, yet like the psalmist when we cry out to God we will find a way to wait in hope.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How shall you respond to God’s gifts and Jesus’ call?

    Ephesians 4:10-16 and John 6: 24-35

    When called to serve the world in response to following Jesus, how best can we discern (learn from God) how to serve? There are various forms of ministry and God pours out many gifts for our sustenance. What are the ways we can decide how to use our gifts and not squander our energy on roles that do not equip others to join us build up Christ’s transforming Way and Community.
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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Solomon - the wise!

    Photo taken by Rev. Karen Bridges

    1 Kings 3: 16-28; 6:1-14

Solomon ruled in a time of relative peace which was good for him, because unlike David, he was not a warrior. Solomon was humbled that God chose him to rule, and in his early reign he prayed to God for wisdom and a heart to serve. He also asked God for strength to walk in God’s ways. God granted Solomon many things including a discerning mind and a loving heart. What would he do with these great gifts once he had the power of a King? How will we use these gifts that God gave us wisely?
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Action beats "Bling"...every time!

2 Samuel 5: 1-5, 9-10
Mark 6: 1-13

How we can love the shiny, the new, the expensive, the'over the top'! In slang this is called "bling" and some people have it in the form of jewelry or hats, others in their home or church decor, others in their car or camping gear! But no matter how your "bling" shouts - it is your actions that speak the loudest and it is your active response to God's call that tells the world about your faith!

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

David, the political strategist and mastermind

    Picture taken by Rev. Karen Bridges at The Banksy Exhibit in Toronto June 2018.

    2 Samuel 5: 1-6; 7:11-17

Though David may not at first have seemed destined for Kingship, he was the man! He has been described as faithful, courageous, smart, sincere and competent. He was a good warrior and he had a presence that was infectious. He had it all and people loved him. But like all humans, he made some questionable choices. The question is, did he operate out of self-interest or did he work for the common good? What can we learn from his leadership?
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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Saul, the King who did not want to lead a nation

Talk about a set up! Imagine being offered a job you have not trained for, no one has held before in a time and land never having experienced this type of leadership! Oh, did I say offered? Saul was not given a choice but rather an anointing and a throne. Then people seem surprised when he could not fulfill the job as invented by his supposed mentor (who keeps showing up late for meetings!) How did Saul try to succeed in this new job and how did he spectacularly fail at being King? listen view

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Samuel, the cleric who wanted to lead a nation

    Francis Cleyn’s Samuel’s Reproach to Saul, c. 1630-1635.  Copyright and used with permission from CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported

    1 Samuel 12:1-25

When one is set aside to lead others it is both a frightening and empowering thing. When people seek our guidance, our hearts can swell and we can be humbled. However, if we do not continually connect with community, service and worship opportunities, our heads can swell. Samuel’s life was deeply rooted in prayer and his leadership respected by most. However, his parenting and his role as King’s advisor were weakened by his self-reliance. How can we humbly listen and act while always keeping our feet grounded in our community and human limitations?
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Knit together by our common thread

    Ephesians 4: 1-16 The Gifts of the Spirit

    Psalm 100

We are called by God to share our gifts of the Spirit to build up the body of Christ. Paul explains to the Ephesians that we do this by leading a life worthy of the calling, with humility, gentleness, patience and love, thus bonding us in peace and unifying us in the Spirit. Let us celebrate what we have learned, share are questions, affirm our gifts and witness to the fact that our faith in God is the common thread that causes us to rise all together, growing side by side.

This was a Whole Family Worship which was very interactive which is why there is no sermon this week. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Let us not be a hindrance or stumbling block!

    Romans 14: 1-23 Do not judge another

    Psalm 15

Paul spent a lot of his ministry reminding people of the new commandment that we are to love one another as I would love you. Jesus served God and not himself. In this passage from Romans, Paul reminds the people who are weak in faith that they are welcome, but not so that they can place their agenda on others. Jesus calls us to advocate and care for those who are oppressed in our midst. We are called to stand with the oppressed, to be their allies, but not in the way that suits our purposes. What does it mean to be an ally?
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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Evangelism: what does that even mean?

Acts 8: 26-40 and Psalm 145 Evangelism: what does that even mean? (and celebrating 93 years of the United Church of Canada) How can we share our experience of God’s love without negating others’ experiences? The debate about how to “do” evangelism is almost as fiery as what the word even means! Let us explore and ponder how Jesus and Paul shared their experiences of God with others. listen view

Sunday, June 3, 2018

In Christ, there is no East or West…or is there?

    Galatians 3:23-29 and Psalm 148

In Christ, there is no East or West…or is there?
Paul’s teaching was focused on the amazing Grace of God to unite all – no matter what religious traditions they followed…or did not follow! After he died though his message was watered down or contradicted by others’ writing in his name. How can we live and proclaim the gift of Faith and Unity through the Holy Spirit when our tradition holds both that and other messages?
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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sharing visible signs of the grace of God

    Hebrews 11: 1-3 Faith is...

    Psalm 33

The United Church of Canada has several statements of faith – the Twenty Articles of Faith (1925), the Statement of Faith (1940), A New Creed (1968), and the most current A Song of Faith (2006). Each statement has been written to reflect the times and how our faith is being expressed in that context and time. None replace the others, but add to the collective experience and understanding of our faith. On Trinity Sunday let’s express our faith anew.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost: A Spirited Community Becomes the Church!

Acts 2: 1-21 and Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Pentecost: A Spirited Community Becomes the Church!
What are the qualities of the earliest Christian communities of faith? What traditions did they begin that we continue which ones did they continue on from their own ancestors of faith and what practices have changed over the centuries that include or exclude more children of God from the experiences of worship and service? We will use this Pentecost Sunday to reflect so let us listen to the Holy Spirit’s work in the followers of Jesus to hear what She may say today!

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Look to the interests of others!

    The picture was taken by Tony Jansen while on tour in Jakarta Indonesia in 2018. Jim Triscott and Rev. Karen did some editing. The sculpture is called: Arjuna Wijaya Sculture produced in 2003. The plaque near the statue reads: "Sculpture relfects the radiance of inspiration for the spirit of cultural preservation. 

    Philippians 2: 1-13 Imitating Christ’s Humility

Our statement of welcome and inclusion has been the guiding principle of how we long to work together. We continue to strive to ensure that all people are not only welcome in our space, but are empowered to participate fully as the spirit of God calls them. In the spirit of discernment and prayer we will explore how we live out our call to be loving, and take time to consider who’s not in present in our community.

The recording of this sermons is only partial. The introduction did not record. The words will be included in the PDF copy once it has been transcribed. 
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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Integrity grounded in Christ

    Scripture: Philippians 1: 1-18a Paul’s prayer for the Philippians

Movie: Ladybird
The movie Lady Bird follows the life of a high school senior who is struggling to find her way in a world that seems unfair. Her negativity, selfish ambition, envy and rivalry lead to hurtful acts, but like Paul through these times of suffering, a miraculous thing can happen when we stop fighting, and receive love and compassion. Being Christian isn’t about being seen by others as good and upstanding citizens in our community. Being Christian is about living our lives from a place of compassion and thankfulness. May our motives to live Christian lives come from a place of good intentions and unconditional love.
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

How will they know we are Christian?

    Scripture: Acts 17: 16-31 Paul in Athens is distressed.

Movie: 3 Billboards
Paul had a message for the people of Athens, a message he wanted them to hear. His message was “while God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” Like Paul, Mildred a mother in Ebbing Missouri, publically challenges the local authorities to stop ignoring the signs and seek justice for the death of her daughter. This is a story of repentance, compassion, suffering, human ignorance and reconciliation. How will we get the message of reconciliation and compassion out into the world as Jesus calls us to do?
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stick to your convictions and see what arises!

Acts 16: 16-34 Paul and Silas in Prison

A woman possessed, and a potential prison break are scenes worthy of the Oscars. However, we will instead use our imaginations and create our own story that demonstrates our commitment to stand up for our faith. May we be moved and inspired to dedicate our lives to God as the jail guard did, who asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” May we not succumb to a spirit of scarcity or greed, and instead live a faithful life of abundance.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

How Wide is Your Worldview?

Oscar Movie Series Acts 9:1-19 Movies: "Get Out" and "Call Me By My Name" As Jesus' disciples came from more diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, his followers had to ask who is in...who is out? We also wonder too and we also can wonder if the invitation to follow this radical One includes us. These two movies (both about coming to realize who we are, where we come from and how to love courageously) explore this wondering in very different and compelling ways listen view

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Love in all Shapes and Sizes

    Oscar Movie Series
    Movie: Shape of Water
    John 20:  19-31
    Jesus' disciples had differing experiences of the Risen Christ. Thomas became famous for being the one to say "No Way!" However, we all have times in our journey of faith when we think God's love it too great to be true, Jesus' invitation is too big! Do you doubt Love comes in all shapes and sizes? This movie, written by the creator of many a monster, asks if we can enact this call to love all.
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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Tell our stories boldly!

Picture taken of butterflies made at the Art Studio at the Community Dinner

John 20: 1-18 The Resurrection of Jesus

In the end is our beginning. When Mary found the tomb empty and encountered Jesus after his death, her life was turned upside down! Through her tears she found healing in the light of Christ. Like Mary may we be awakened to a new way of living, a new perspective and the possibility of a new world. All is not lost but just beginning. Let us find ways to share our stories of faith and transformation with all who will listen.
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pain makes things truly real!

John 12: 12-19 Jesus enters Jerusalem
John 19: 16a-22 Crucifixion of Jesus

The great poet Rumi wrote, “The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.” This service begins with the cries of Hosanna, and ends with the cries of Crucifixion. Barbara Brown Taylor, a theologian, has come to realize that world religions have grown out of suffering. Christianity rises out of the suffering of Jesus at the hands of his own people. How will we find a way to practice the feeling of pain, to walk toward the pain rather than masking it, or turning away from it? Pain is what makes things real, and in the moments of pain we can’t help but reach out and encounter the Holy. How will you choose to enter Holy Week? listen view

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Will anger open you up or close you down?

Lent 5 John 19: 1-16a One of the most challenging aspects of grief is the anger that arises. Where are you God? How can people be so mean? Why are our structures so unfair? The crowds turned on Jesus to express their anger against injustice. Jesus turned to the Psalms. On who do we throw our anger? How else could we express and transform its energy into change and healing? listen view

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Awaken from your shock in time!

Lent Four
John 18: 28-40

 Today we continue to ponder the grief and suffering that are central parts of Jesus’ ministry, his disciples’ lives and our lives as his followers. Grief often begins with numbness and shock. They can be either gifts or thieves. Why do we need time in shock? How do we return ourselves to awareness and awaken again to Jesus’ call to serve others and care for ourselves?
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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Will You Claim Who You Are?

Taken by Rev. Karen Bridges
    • John 18: 12-27 The trial for Jesus
    Denial and bargaining are defense mechanisms that help us to deal with our feelings of shock, fear, loss, helplessness and vulnerability. Every human will react differently in a crisis situation. For Peter, a disciple of Jesus, he is not ready to deal with the fact that Jesus has chosen to die, and so he denies his own identity, denies knowing the person he loves. Jesus on the other hand is open and honest about who he is, and instead acts as judge at his own trial. As followers of Jesus, where will we find strength and courage in times of uncertainty?
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rites and Ritual

Lent 1

John 11: 1-44  Jesus Weeps

    Anthropologists ponder when in the social development of the human being did we become truly “human” – different from other mammals. Many point to the early rituals and rites of passage humans used to mark our journey in relationship to age, community, birth and death. One thing that unites humans is the universal seeking for meaning and safety. Rituals and rites of passage help us transition from child to adult to elder, from dependent to independent and from life to life after death. We will be exploring today how we see these in Jesus’ life, especially as he began his journey towards death.
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Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

    John 9:1-41 A man born blind receives sight

    They say that seeing is believing, yet for many of us, we have never seen Jesus, or God and still believe. As we hear the story of Jesus healing the blind man, we need to resist the urge to base our faith on miracles seen. We don’t need to SEE Jesus to have a relationship with Jesus. When we trust in God, we can be open and honest. When we tell the truth we are no longer blinded and can see each other and the world as God does. Come and see, as if for the first time!
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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Picture taken by Rev. Karen Bridges in Sept 2017 Botswana
  • John 3: 1-21 Nicodemus Visits Jesus
Sometimes it is just as important to recognize that which is not said as well as that which is said. Sometimes it is hard to accept our failures and frailties, the truth is that God knows them already, and God is still with us, still listening to us, still walking with us, and still loving us. Sometimes we don’t immediately recognize truth spoken, but through discernment we come to a deeper understanding. What truths will be revealed to you?
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

What are you hiding from?

Nicodemus is a leader, he is spiritually open and curious and at the same time very rational. Nicodemus is not ready to come out of the proverbial closet, he is not ready to declare his faith in public, nor is he ready to let it transform his life. What secret questions, doubts and wondering hold you back from being honest about what you believe and who you are?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Look What You Made me Do!

John 2: 13-25

We have been challenging ourselves this new year to be honest about our intentions and faith. This can be especially hard when we are feeling deep emotions, such as anger. Anger is a natural and important emotion that can lead us to uncover the truth and seek justice for all.

It also can be used to hide from our other emotions and seek power over others by lashing out, blaming others and beginning to make decisions out of hate instead of love. Now is the time to ask yourself a hard question: will you own your anger and actions and follow Jesus, or disown your anger – blaming others for your choices and creating division?


Sunday, January 14, 2018

What will you post, God being your helper?

What will you post?

John 2: 1–11 Wine at a Wedding

Look what they did! They must have meant it as a slight? Right? We often watch others do things and ascribe to those things – both the good and the ugly – intentions. We want the world to fit into good/bad, us/them, and we limit our hopes and expect others to intend the worst. This is especially easy in the comments section of any blog, post or tweet! Now is the time to ask the hard questions of a new year: will we go for the easy definition of “them”? Let’s help to bring hope back into our lives and the world by changing our frame into “best intentions”. And let’s do it with love.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

We'll find a way to be honest, God being our helper

John 1: 35–51 The First Disciples of Jesus Are you tired of living a lie?

Are you tired of playing a role that society has placed on you? Then come and see what life is really about. Jesus will give you the straight goods and will be open and honest with you. So now is the time to ask the hard questions as we begin another new year together. Let’s help to bring honesty back into our lives and the world. And let’s do it with love.
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