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Who is welcome at the table?

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Hespeler, 29 July 2018 © Scott McAndless Luke 7:31-35, Ephesians 2:11-22, Proverbs 9:1-6 O n February 1, 1960, at 4:30 in the afternoon, four young men sat down at the lunch counter inside a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina. They had been shopping at the store, had purchased a few necessary items like soap and toothpaste, and their plan was to sit down at the lunch counter for a cup of coffee before they went on their way.       Except that wasn’t their plan, not really. Oh, they would have been only too happy to pay for their coffee and sit and drink it in peace and leave, but they knew that the staff at Woolworth’s was not going to serve them. You see the young men were black and the store had a clear and well-stated policy that only whites could be served at the counter. And so they were refused and in response the men simply remained where they were, sitting peacefully.       They might have been peaceful, of course, but that doesn’t mean that everyone saw them that w…

#AnabaptismEnvy

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Hespeler, 22 July, 2018 © Scott McAndless Genesis 17:1-8, Acts 2:37-42, Psalm 100:1-5 I  was raised in a Presbyterian Church as a part of a fairly typical Presbyterian family at that time which meant that I was baptized as an infant when I was only a few months old. Since I was born near the end of the famous Baby Boom and at a time when the vast majority of the children born in Canada were baptized, my parents stood at the front of the church with a large group of parents and we were all baptized one after the other in a kind of an assembly line.       And that was fine. I mean, I didn’t remember it, of course, but my parents told me that it had been done and I had no reason to be concerned that it hadn’t. But then I grew up and, in time, I came into contact with another group of Christians who didn’t do baptism in quite the way that it was practiced in my church. These Christians are collectively called Anabaptists – a group that includes denominations such as the Baptists and vario…

Hocus Pocus

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Hespeler, 15 July, 2018 © Scott McAndless Galatians 3:23-29, Romans 6:1-11, Matthew 3:13-17 I  have here a perfectly ordinary box of pencil crayons. It is something so completely ordinary that you could find in most any household (or at least any household where there are small children hanging around). But what if I were to tell you that I can make these pencil crayons disappear? Yes, you heard me right, I can make them disappear in the wink of an eye.       Now you’re looking at me skeptically right now and I do not blame you! I mean, who could have to power to do such an amazing thing! But I tell you that all of your skepticism will disappear as fast as, well, as fast as these pencil crayons will in just a few moments.       So, without further ado, let’s just do it. Are you ready to be amazed? In a moment you will be when these pencil crayons disappear. 1, 2, 3 and gone! Oh, it didn’t work. That’s funny, it worked perfectly when I was practicing… box full… 1, 2, 3… woosh… What could I …

Keeping Jesus Out

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Hespeler, 8 July, 2018 © Scott McAndless Psalm 41:1-13, Matthew 25:31-46, Isaiah 58:6-10 A ll my life I have heard Christian people explain the world’s problems. They know, you see, what has gone wrong. They know why it is that the churches are in decline, why gun violence and mass shootings are on the rise. They know the reason why people aren’t as kind and respectful as they used to be and why they do not engage in public service. They know the root cause of all of the woes of the modern world and they will not hesitate to tell you what it is. We struggle with all of these things and more, they’ll say, because we have kicked Jesus out. We have excluded Jesus from our schools, banished him from Main Street and thrown him out of our businesses. That is where our problems all began, they will tell you, and nothing will start to get better until we let Jesus in again.       And you know what, I would say that they are quite right. The problem really is a distinct lack of Jesus. But I’m …

Being Good Canadians

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Hespeler, 1 July, 2018 © Scott McAndless Romans 13:1-7, Mark 10:2-12, Psalm 20:1-9 Before I begin today, I want to say a few things about this sermon that I have written. This is my very first sermon preached after not preaching for ten whole weeks and that is actually something that is quite extraordinary for me because that has not happened to me for over a quarter of a century.       But there is something else that is rather unique about this sermon. I didn’t want to have it hanging over my head the whole time while I was away so I actually wrote it before I left and put it away and intentionally forgot about it for ten weeks.       Now think, for a moment, about what that means. I wrote today’s sermon without knowing who would be the Premier of Ontario on July 1st. I did not know who would win the election, although I was pretty sure that, whoever it was, over half of the Province of Ontario would be upset with the results.       Even more stunningly, I wrote this sermon and chose t…

A Hymn for Canada Day

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At St. Andrew's Hespeler this Sunday (which is Canada Day) we are planning to sing the following as a hymn (not an act of patriotism but an act of prayer within worship). This was not conceived of as an addition to Canada's National Anthem but as a way of lifting up our nation in prayer and being open to acknowledge the contribution of those who went before.
1. O Canada, our home and native land, true patriot love in all of us command. With glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true north, strong and free; from far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free;