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The little kingdom that grows: The seed that inexplicably grew

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Hespeler, 17 September, 2017 Mark 4:26-29, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Psalm 92:1-15 I f you have paid any attention at all to the news that has come out of Texas in the past month (and there has been a lot of news to attend to) chances are that you heard the name of one Houston religious leader mentioned more than any other. His name is Joel Osteen and he is the lead pastor of Lakewood Church, one of the biggest churches in a city of very big churches.       Osteen’s church caught a lot of flack immediately after the arrival of Hurricane Harvey and the devastating floods that it brought. People were upset with it for its failure to respond – specifically its failure to offer shelter in its large and well-appointed facilities. It seemed all the worse because the church’s excuses changed a number of times in the early days. At first they said they couldn’t offer shelter because the building was inaccessible because of flooding when it clearly was not. Then, once that lie was exposed, they we…

The Little Kingdom that Grew: The Lamp on the Stand

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Hespeler, 10 September, 2017 © Scott McAndless Mark 4:21-25, 2 Timothy 1:6-12, Psalm 78:1-8 M any years ago, I spent a summer in the state of Kerala in South India where we spent a fair bit of time way out in the hill country far from any cities of any size. We stayed with some local people – members of a local Christian church – and it was a very eye opening experience. The region is relatively well-off compared to many areas in India, but it certainly seemed, to our western eyes, as if there were many people living in great poverty. Indoor plumbing was rare. The water was mostly unsafe to drink and, while there was electricity, it was very unreliable and would go off for long periods of time.       For a while, we stayed in a simple farm on some rice fields. At night when the electricity was out, it got incredibly dark. We didn’t have flashlights (we hadn’t thought we would need them) so when we had to go anywhere at night (like, for example, to the bathroom which was in the field) …

The Little Kingdom that Grows: The Sloppy Sower

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Hespeler, 3 September 2017 © Scott McAndless Mark 4:1-9, Acts 2:37-42, Psalm 126:1-6 A h, there you are. You’re the new sower that we hired, aren’t you? Glad to have you working with us. Let me just say I hope you work out better than that last guy. What a sloppy worker he was! I mean, you wouldn’t believe this guy. We gave him a bag with like a hundred seeds in it and sent him out into the field. And what does he do? He starts throwing the seeds all over the place willy-nilly. They’re all flying around and about twenty-five of them fall on the path. Yes, you heard me right: on a hard packed path where nothing can grow. And what happens: they just sit there, wasted, until eventually some birds come along and eat them all. Twenty-five seeds just wasted! Do you realize what seeds cost these days and yet apparently this guy thinks that they are for the birds.       Oh but wait a minute because that was only the beginning. He’s still flinging the seed everywhere and another twenty-five se…

Canada 150: Will protect our homes and our rights

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Hespeler, 23 July, 2017 © Scott McAndless Jeremiah 42:7-17, Luke 17:28-33, Psalm 37:1-15 A s all Canadians know, our much-loved Canadian national anthem was first written in 1880 in the French language. The words were written by Adolphe-Basile Routier. It was only decades later that the anthem appeared in English with lyrics by Robert Stanley Weir.       Weir’s lyrics have since been changed and edited a number of times – most significantly when the anthem was officially adopted in 1980 and there is still talk of editing them to this very day. But, since they were first written – for 137 years now – the original French lyrics have never changed.       If you only speak English, you may have always assumed that the words in French said pretty much the same thing as the words in English – after all, both languages start with the words, “O Canada.” But, if you assumed that, you would be wrong. Robert Stanley Weir didn’t translate the anthem so much as he completely rewr…

Canada 150: Where Pines and Maples Grow

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Hespeler, 16 July, 2017 © Scott McAndles\s Job 12:7-10, Psalm 8, Matthew 6:25-33 I grew up in the church and so, from a very early age I was told about God. I heard about what God was like and what he wanted from me. I absorbed stories about God’s priorities and actions and I even learned how to speak to God in prayer. But I do not think that I can say that I actually met God in my early life in the church or in my family.       No, I would have to say that the church taught me about God, but it was Canada that introduced me to God. At least that is how I think of it. For me, and I’m sure that this is true for many Canadians, I feel that the most authentic experiences of God that I have had have happened when I left behind the cities and found myself in Canada’s vast untamed wilderness – mostly, in my case, up in the Muskokas. Consider this:

      Have you been there, standing in a grove of trees, massive trunks around you on every side making you feel as if your strongest bones are lik…

Canada 150: Terre de nos aïeux (Land of our ancestors)

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Hespeler, 9 July, 2017 © Scott McAndless Exodus 12:33, Psalm 136:1-3, 10-21, Deuteronomy 26:1-11 I n the passage we read this morning from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are given an account of an ancient Israelite harvest festival. When the people harvested their crops, they were to take the first portion of that produce and present it as a gift to the Lord. This was a common practice in the ancient world and local temples of many different gods in many different places depended on it for major support.       Something that is unique about this harvest festival as described in Deuteronomy, though, is the speech that every Israelite male was to repeat as he gave his gift, a speech that began, A wandering Aramean was my ancestor…” From there the worshipper went on to tell the whole story of the people of Israel through their slavery in Egypt and how, through Moses, God saved them from slavery and brought them out through the wilderness and into the land that he had pro…