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Showing posts from 2018

"Mommy, I think the preacher just said a bad word."

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Hespeler, 16 September, 2018 © Scott McAndless Psalm 30:1-12, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Matthew 10:26-33 M any years ago, I began my journey towards literacy by every day fighting with my brother and sisters over which one of us would be the first to get a hold on one particular page in the Toronto Daily Star: the comics page. Oh, it was glorious, an entire broadsheet covered with black and white comics. It was a great way to practice reading when there were lots of pictures and not too many words and hardly any big ones.       But there was one problem: I did know that the comics were supposed to be funny but I didn’t always get the joke. And I’m sure that there were times when my parents got pretty tired of me running to them and asking them to explain the joke. Like, for example I remember one very particular comic. It was the Family Circus, one of my favorites, and it showed the Keene family together in church one Sunday morning and one of the children, I believe it was Dolly, is whispering …

Undercover Minister

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I am very grateful for the opportunity that was given to me this past spring to take a ten-week intermission from my duties at St. Andrew’s. I have been a full-time minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, now for 26 years. That means that for over a quarter century (and a very large portion of my life) all of my work and all of my professional efforts have been directed toward the maintenance and promotion of that particular institution. All I have done, most everything I have engaged in, has all been done with one underlying assumption: this has to be good for and helpful to the church. I don’t complain about that – it is what I signed up for after all – but I do note that, when you look at the world from that one point of view for such a long time, it begins to limit your perspective. I believe that I needed a new perspective on the work that I do and that was not going to be possible without taking an extended period of time away from the church to get the church out of my hea…

The Sparrow in the Mead Hall

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Hespeler, 9 September, 2018 © Scott McAndless John 3:1-17, 1 John 2:21-25, Psalm 27 T here was once a king in Northumbria (in the northern part of England) – an Anglo-Saxon king named Edwin. And Edwin was a pagan – a worshipper of the old Germanic gods like Thor and Wodin. But Edwin married a half Frankish princess who just happened to be a Christian and that is where all the trouble started.       His new queen brought some Christian priests with her and they insisted on constantly preaching the Christian message. But the king resisted that message. What need had he for a God like Jesus Christ – a defeated God, a weak God – and not a strong warrior god like the ones that his ancestors had worshipped?       But the priests persisted. They were very insistent. And so eventually the king convened a meeting of his closest advisors. They gathered in the king’s mead-hall in the dead of winter. They drank the king’s potent mead (which, in case you don’t know, is brewed from fermented honey …

I believe in... the resurrection of the body

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Hespeler, 2 September, 2018 © Scott McAndless Isaiah 11:1-9, 1 Corinthians 15:12-26, Psalm 7:1-11 I can’t be the only one to notice, am I? The world is kind of a mess. I mean, all kinds of things are just falling apart. Political alliances like NATO and the United Nations – organizations that maintained an unprecedented (if imperfect) global peace for decades have fallen on hard times. Russia, in particular, seems to be hard at work destroying some of our most cherished institutions like democracy. North Korea is clearly working as hard as ever at creating weapons of mass destruction and putting them in missiles that go ever further.       And that is just the global political situation. Look at the environmental situation. Even if we somehow manage to avoid blowing up the planet with some weapon or other, that hardly seems to matter because our collective action seems to be destroying the environment and even changing global climate patterns.       I could go on but you get the point. …

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 …