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Forty Weeks: Quickening

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Hespeler 16 December 2018 © Scott McAndless Luke 1:39-45, Luke 1:46-55 I t usually happens somewhere between 13 and 16 weeks into a pregnancy. I’ve not experienced it myself, for pretty obvious reasons, but I understand that, at first, it is just like a little fluttering sensation in your belly. Sometimes you might not even be sure exactly what it is and wonder if it might just be gas or something. But, when you first do figure out what it really is, it changes everything. It is traditionally called the quickening.       I think that for many mothers when they first feel that – first feel their baby moving within them, it is a great sign. You see, up until then, they have known that they were expecting. They have known that everything happening within them was leading to a baby being born, but that is just head knowledge. In many cases, it just doesn’t seem real. For many mothers, the moment when that happens is when they feel that movement inside them, movement inside their body that i…

The children were nestled

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Hespeler, 9 December, 2018 © Scott McAndless Matthew 1:18-25, Psalm 10:12-18
Note: this was a dialogue with children, not a preached message. The following only approximates the conversation.
T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap...       But wait a minute; I’m having trouble sleeping, aren’t you? I’m tossing and I’m turning. Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What can sometimes cause that? When you’re worried about something, or when something is wrong and it is really bothering you, or sometimes when you are sick or uncomfortable in some way.       Well, let me describe a situation that might give you trouble sleeping at night. Have any of y…

Forty Weeks: First Trimester

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Hespeler, 2 December, 2018 © Scott McAndless – Advent 1 Galatians 4:1-7, Luke 1:26-38, Psalm 25 I ’m going to start off this morning with a little quiz, just a little bit of Bible trivia. Let’s see if you can answer these questions:       During Noah’s flood, how many days and nights did it rain?       How many years did the people of Israel wander in the wilderness?       How many days was Moses up on Mount Sinai receiving the law from God?       For how many days was Jesus tempted in the wilderness?       When Jonah was preaching in Nineveh, how many days did he give them before the city would be destroyed?       According to the Book of Acts, how many days did Jesus hang around with the disciples after the resurrection? Yep, that is about the easiest Bible quiz that you will ever have. The answer to all of those questions is 40. And if you are at all like me you have wondered about that – about why that particular number keeps on coming up when you read the Bible. I have learned th…

The real story of two copper coins

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Hespeler, 25 November, 2018 © Scott McAndless Mark 12:41-13:2, 2 Corinthians 9:6-9, Psalm 24:1-10 A s you have already heard, this coming Tuesday is Giving Tuesday – a day to celebrate generosity and a day to consider giving generously and in perhaps unusual ways. So I thought a lot about what I should preach on such a day. What does the Bible have to say about giving and giving in extraordinary and even generous ways?       My thoughts were drawn, like so many other preachers before me, to the famous story in the Gospel of Mark. The people are in the temple making their contributions to the temple treasury and Jesus sits down to watch. All of the wealthy people put in enormous amounts of money, but Jesus doesn’t much notice that because they are merely putting in a relatively small portion of their total wealth. But then this widow comes along and she contributes such a small amount, just two copper coins, and at this Jesus sits up and notices. “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has …

Why pray?

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Hespeler, 18 November, 2018 © Scott McAndless Matthew 6:5-8, James 2:14-17, Psalm 138 W hy pray? That seems to be a question that people ask with increasing urgency these days. We are living in a time when “thoughts and prayers” have become a very unfortunate cliché. Every time there is a tragedy, every time a gunman walks into a school and opens fire or a man walks into a synagogue and starts mowing people down, it has become a part of the national liturgy.      Political leaders, celebrities and religious officials send out their Facebook messages and tweets: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.” And people have caught on. They have recognized that “thoughts and prayers” has become a kind of a code – a code that seems to mean, “Let’s not do anything and, for God’s sake let’s not change anything just because some tragedy has occurred. Instead let us say something that makes it seem like we care.” It is amazing to see, but we are to be living in a time when praying for somethin…

Reflections at the conclusion of Transform 2018

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The Transform Conference in Orillia Ontario was intended to be about just that: transformation. Some useful tools were offered but the point in coming together was not to get more tools that you might use to enhance your ministry. Stories of church growth and development were told and shared, but the point in coming together was not to take an incremental step in church size or programming.
The goal was transformation and that is a pretty ambitious goal when you think about it. If such a goal were to be fully realized, wouldn’t everyone have to go home as completely different people than the ones who came? Wouldn’t they have to return to churches that were soon radically different from the churches they left?
Well, I don’t think that that is what happened during our gathering, but I do think that the seeds of true transformation were offered and if those seeds are well tended, real transformation is possible.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, offered us a series of practices …

Transform 2018 Day 2 Reflection: Grief

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Day two of the Transform 2018 Conference began with very meaningful and moving worship service that was led by the eight Canadian Presbyterian ministries that are focussed on Indigenous people and communities.

In many ways, this service set the tone for the entire day, especially as ministry after ministry talked about their experience of ongoing injustices -- things like residential schools, the sixties scoop, youth suicides, drug addiction, missing and murdered Indigenous women. The sorrow expressed was deep, but the worship that accompanied it was nevertheless beautiful as it appealed to the limitless love of God.
This worship let us directly into our first session with our speaker, Dr Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and it was what prompted her to spend some time talking about the Korean concept of Han (a concept that I had previously only encountered in an episode of The West Wing). Han, she explained, is the sadness and sorrow that is felt in response to systemic injustice. In Korean culture…