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Just One Word

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Hespeler, 21 April 2019 © Scott McAndless – Easter Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, John 20:1-18 S ometimes it can happen to any of us – we get caught in a story that we are telling to ourselves. It is a story that may not be true but, because we keep telling it to ourselves, it takes us in a spiral of deeper and deeper despair. That was what Mary was doing and it took one word – just one word – to change everything for her. Mary had gone out to the tomb, the place where they had laid him, as soon as she could early in the morning. The sun was barely coming over the horizon when she arrived there. And her heart was only fixed on one thing. Her Lord, the only one who had ever given her reason to hope, was dead. She had come to weep and to mourn. She just wanted to throw her arms one last time around the body of the man who had meant everything to her, just to say goodbye, to say that she wished she could have done something to save him. It wouldn’t have really…

Why I Made a Controversial Notice of Motion

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About a month ago, I made a notice of motion at a meeting of my Presbytery – Waterloo-Wellington. A notice of motion is basically a heads-up – an indication that you intend to put forward a motion for debate that will bring significant change or that might be controversial.
This was the notice that I gave:
At a future sederent, I will move or cause to be moved: That the Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington insert in an appropriate place in its standing orders the following section: Recognizing Affirming Congregations:Recognizing that there is a variety of opinion and theological understandings of the place of people who identify as LGBTQ+ in the life of the congregations of our presbytery, the Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington would like to affirm that an inclusive and affirming approach is valid and has been chosen by a number of our congregations. We reflect this affirmation in the following standing orders of our presbytery.
The Presbytery will perpetually extend the philosophy of amnesty …

Palming off the palms

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Hespeler, 14 April 2019 © Scott McAndless – Palm Sunday Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11 T oday is Palm Sunday – the day when the church celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Every Christian knows that. Every year we read the story of that day. If you follow the lectionary (as we are doing this year) one year you read the account in the Gospel of Matthew, the next year in Mark and the next year in Luke. So I was very eager this year to turn to Luke’s account of the story of that day. What new insight would I find into the palms and that meaningful entry? So I read the passage… and I honestly could not believe what I saw.       I read it through once and I just thought that I missed them, so I read it again. Nope, still weren’t there. What is missing in Luke’s story? There are no palms and no triumphal entry in the Gospel of Luke. I went and looked it up on Wikipedia and Wikipedia assured me that, yes, that they were th…

One Perfect Afternoon

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Hespeler, 7 April, 2019 © Scott McAndless – Lent 5 Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8 I  remember one perfect afternoon when I was in grade 6. It was a winter’s day and after school a friend and I had stayed late. We were having fun in the schoolyard. The hills behind the school were covered in ice and snow and we were sliding down them. And we were having so much fun particularly because my winter boots at that point were kind of old. The tread was all worn away and so I was able just slide all the way down the hill on my feet. It was so much fun. It was a perfect afternoon and I never wanted it to end.       And then my mother came along. You see, she had been waiting for me at home and wondering why I was taking so long so she came to look for me. She had decided that today was the day I needed to get new boots. She had noticed something. She had noticed that my winter boots were really old. So old, in fact that the tread was, like, completely worn away. We …

While I kept silence...

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Hespeler, 31 March, 2019 © Scott McAndless Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 W e read a story today – a rather famous story told by none other than Jesus – in which a young man gets a number of things tragically wrong. He goes to his father and asks to receive the inheritance that will rightly be his upon his father’s death. That is a bad thing to do. He is basically saying to this man who has done everything for him that he doesn’t value him as a father. He is saying that he would rather have him dead so that his value can be converted into cold, hard cash.       Can you imagine how much it would have hurt for a father to hear something like that? I’m pretty sure it would have broken his heart. And that is all on the son. But the father, perhaps recognizing his own imperfections in the parental role (for, I’m sad to say, there is no such thing as a parent who gets it all right) gave in to his son’s demand. Perhaps he was at a loss and didn’t know wh…

Ho! Everyone who thirsts!

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Hespeler, 24 March 2019 © Scott McAndless – 3rd Lent Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9 H o, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have money, come, buy and drink. Come, buy and drink. There is a well, not all that far from here from which a certain company pumps 3.6 million litres of groundwater every day. This is a fact that upsets a few people because it is such a large amount of water from a water table that we all depend onand maybe mostly because they don’t pay anything for that privilege. Well, that is not quite right. They actually pay something – a little over $13 a day. But, considering that they then put that water in bottles that they can sell for a dollar each or more – a markup that is so huge that I couldn’t even figure out how to calculate it – you might say they pay close to nothing.       And I realize that the whole NestlĂ© Aberfoyle Bottling Plant water contract thing can be a bit of a controversial topic in these parts. And…

One desert evening

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Hespeler, 17 March 2019 © Scott McAndless – 2nd Lent Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17 - 4:1, Luke 13:31-35 D uring the season of Lent this year, I have noticed, a lot of our scripture readings take us into desert places. Last week we spent forty days and forty nights with Jesus in the wilderness as he was tempted. And I think you will find over the coming weeks that many other readings take us into the desert as well. The desert is a hard place to be, of course. With no food and water, you quickly become desperate. It is also far from human society and culture and that can be very hard for some. But there is also no question that the desert can be a profoundly spiritual place – a place where God seems nearer.       In our reading from Genesis this morning, the person we find in a desert place is none other than Abraham, the great father of our faith tradition. (In this text he is actually called Abram, but, since the story of how he changed his name really doesn’t have m…

A Lament (Inspired by Psalm 79 and the events in Christchurch)

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So here we are, once again, struggling in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy and outrage. White supremacists have attacked and killed peaceful Muslims at prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I always struggle with the question of how to respond, as a leader in a Christian church, in the aftermath of such events.
We may well pray in intercession -- pray for healing for the wounded and aggrieved and for a better world.
We may well pray in confession -- confessing the ways in which we participate in systems of oppression and exclusion of those who are different.
We should do these things, of course. But I believe that, in the immediate aftermath, we are not really able to do them with a whole heart.
Our first need, I believe, is simply to express to God our feelings, our desires and our disappointments. We need to complain. This is a legitimate response and a very biblical one. Therefore, for worship in the aftermath of the events in Christchurch, this is the prayer that I have written for m…