Showing posts from February, 2016

Mistakes and what they teach us about God's grace. 3) Eleazer and the Elephant

The St. Andrew's Stars tell the story of Eleazer and the Elephant:

Hespeler, 28 February, 2016 © Scott McAndless Mark 8:31-36, Philippians 3:4b-11, Psalm 49:5-15, (1 Maccabees 6:32-47) O ver a century and a half before Jesus was born, the land of Judea was invaded and occupied by the Greek speaking king of the Seleucid Empire. But the Jews did not like being ruled over by Greeks who were, they felt, destroying their culture and faith, so they rebelled. The Jewish revolt was led by one particular Jewish family, the most famous member of which was a general called Judas Maccabaeus.       The tales of the Maccabean Revolt are amazing, but they did not, unfortunately, make it into our Bibles. You can read the stories in the Books of the Maccabees which are found in a collection of books called the Apocrypha. These books are included in some of the Bibles of some Christian denominations and they are well worth reading even if we don’t quite consider them to be Scripture. It is in the F…

Mistakes and what they teach us about God's Grace - 2) Alfred and the Cakes

Hespeler, 21 March 2016 © Scott McAndless Matthew 11:25-30, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Psalm 6 K ing Alfred, the ancestor (35 generations ago) of our present monarch Elizabeth II, is famous for many things. He is the only ruler of England ever to be called “the Great.” Indeed, most would say, if it weren’t for Alfred, there would never have been an England at all. But for all the “great” things that Alfred ever did, he is probably most famous for one little mistake. Alfred became the king of Wessex, one of the seven ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, at the young age of 22. It was not a good time to become a king. These were the days when the Vikings were invading England and things were not going well. When Alfred came to power all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had already fallen under Viking rule. Only Wessex, in what is now southwestern England, was left as an independent English kingdom. And the Vikings were coming for Wessex.
Alfred and his lords held them off for a while, but eventually t…

The Problem with Substitutionary Attonement or How the Vikings Muddled us up

W hy did Jesus have to die? That is, you might say, one of the most central questions of the Christian faith. And if you ask that question of most practicing Christians you will likely get an answer along the lines of this: “Jesus had to die for my sins,” or “Jesus had to die to save us” or “so that we could go to heaven.”       And some people will be happy enough with that answer. But every so often you’re going to come across a really annoying person like me who isn’t satisfied with that simple answer and starts to ask really some tough questions. “Well,” the annoying person says, “I thought that you said that this God of yours was all powerful – that he could do whatever he wanted. And I also thought you said that God was full of mercy and lovingkindness. If God wanted to forgive you and let you go to heaven, couldn’t he just do that? I mean, sure, you may have sinned but God doesn’t have to let something like that stand in his way if he wants to forgive you, does he? Why would th…

Response to the Study, Body, Mind and Soul, from St. Andrew’s Hespeler Presbyterian Church (Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington

After leading a Study of "Body, Mind and Soul" within my congregation, I asked the participants what sort of feedback they wanted to give to the Justice and Church Doctrine Committees They asked me to send a summary of our discussions and observations into those committees. I have done that. Since we did not hold an additional meeting to share the report together, I just want to post it here so that the members of the group can read it. 
A group of members of St. Andrew’s Hespeler Presbyterian Church met together in five sessions from January 13th to February 3rd to discuss the study produced by the Justice and Church Doctrines committees. The committee has authorized me to summarize our reflections and thoughts and send them back to the committees to include in their deliberations.
The first thing that I would note is that our discussions were very interesting and engaging. The discussions were held in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
We did not agree about what course the chu…

Mistakes and what they teach us about God's Grace. 1) Cecilia and the Art Restoration

St. Andrew's Stars Video:

Hespeler, 14 February, 2016 © Scott McAndless 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, James 3:1-12, Matthew 7:1-11 I n the summer and fall of 2012, the attention of the whole world was suddenly captivated by the events that had taken place in a small town in Spain with a population of less than 5000. In this town of Borja, it seemed, somebody had made a mistake. It wasn’t just your everyday, run of the mill kind of mistake either. It was a mistake that was so big that it was like nobody could look away. In that town there was an ancient Roman Catholic Church and in that church there were various pieces of artwork such as you might find in such churches. One of them was a fresco that had been painted in the early 1930’s by a visiting artist. The painting was a traditional piece of very common Roman Catholic art called the “Ecce Homo,” which is Latin for “Behold the Man.” It is a depiction of Jesus, crowned with thorns as he appeared before Pontius Pilate just before being …

It's like these Christians have a different word for everything 6) Justice

St. Andrew's Stars Video:
Hespeler, 7 February, 2016 © Scott McAndless Amos 5:21-24, Matthew 5:1-10, Psalm 82 T oday we are going to finish our series where we’ve been looking at the words that we use in the church that may be the same words that are used in the world outside the church but that often have a very different meaning here. So far we have looked at words like sin and faith and repentance and I hope you have discovered something about what those words mean and what they can mean for us as we work out our Christian lives.       Today, as the climax of this series, I have a very special word for you. It is so special, in fact, that it is two words for the price of one. The two English words that I offer to you today are justice and righteousness.   Now, I imagine that those are two very different words in the minds of most of you. Righteousness is a word that we most often apply to people or to their actions. A righteous person is a person who always does the right thing, …