Showing posts from November, 2018

The real story of two copper coins

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?

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

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

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…

Transform 2018 Day 1 Reflection: Lament

I am at the Presbyterian Church in Canada's Transform 2018 Conference in Orillia for a few days. This is the first of what is expected to be a yearly conference with the goals of helping participants to:
Embrace a missional culture that encourages initiative and risk-takingDiscover new ways of nurturing faithful, vibrant and generous ministryEncourage generous investment in the mission to which God calls usBuild relational connections that embody Christ’s missionsI would just like to take the opportunity while I am here to share some reflections and thoughts. Here is what struck me after only the first few hours.

This evening our keynote speaker, Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, mostly took the time to introduce herself and her story -- setting the remarks that she will make during the rest of the time in a context. She also introduced some themes that will be highlighted.
One of the themes she introduced briefly was lament, stating, as I have often thought, that lament is a practice tha…

I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.

Hespeler, 4 November, 2018 © Scott McAndless – Baptism Luke 1:8-20, Daniel 9:20-23, Psalm 91:1-16 Z echariah was a priest – not an important one, not one of those wealthy priests who lived in the big houses in the prosperous Upper City. They had money and political connections and were famously corrupt. They were in so deep with the enemy – with the Romans – that the people had nothing but scorn for them anymore. But big important priests like that; they wouldn’t have had anything to do with Zechariah or his wife Elizabeth.       Zechariah was just a low-level priest who would never be rich or powerful but he took his position seriously. It was his job, when his turn came around, to stand in the temple, to stand in a place where he was uniquely in the presence of God, and to carry all of the hopes and the dreams and the burdens of the people to the very throne of God. That is an awesome responsibility especially in times of great trouble, and Zechariah certainly lived in times of grea…