Showing posts from May, 2019

Step by step

Hespeler, 19 May, 2019 © Scott McAndless Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35 I n our reading this morning from the Book of Acts, Simon Peter is in hot water. He is being criticized and called to heel before all of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. This is a case of discipline and there are lots of people complaining about him. I wouldn’t want to be in his sandals.       And what has he done – what could be so terrible that it would bring down the collective wrath of the entire church upon Peter’s head? Well, it was something that was so unspeakable that I do not know if it I should dare to say it, but here goes. Peter… Peter… went to the home of some people and had supper with them. I mean, can you imagine! But it was a real scandal. And it was a scandal because of who those people were. They were uncircumcised, that is to say, they were not Jews. You see, in our reading this morning, the Christian church is on the cusp of one of the greatest changes it will ev…

How do you solve a problem like Tabitha?

Hespeler, 12 May, 2019 © Scott McAndless – Christian Family Sunday Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30 T here is a book that we know was extremely popular in the early Christian church. You might call it a second century best-seller though few know it today. It was read by Christians in churches spread throughout the Greek-speaking world but it was a book that did not ultimately make it into the Bible. It was called, “The Acts of Paul and Thecla.” It told the story of a woman named Thecla who overhears the preaching of the Apostle Paul while sitting at a window. As a result, Thecla, who has been promised in marriage to a man by her family, decides that she doesn’t want to get married. Instead she leaves and becomes a devoted follower of Paul. This is seen as a terrible and rebellious act which results in the arrests of both Paul and Thecla. As the story progresses, Thecla is condemned to death a couple of times in creative ways. She is set on fire, thrown to the wild …

“I make this covenant with each of you and with God.”

At a retreat that was held at the beginning of March, our session was introduced to the idea of creating a covenant, an agreement that we would make before God how about how we would treat one another. Our retreat leader, Rev. Dr. John-Peter Smit, suggested this to us as a way to address some of the issues that have been raised by the visitation team from as things that we needed to work on.
The purpose in such an exercise, would not merely be in order to improve the way that the session functions together, though that would be an important part of it. It would also be a way that we could lead the whole congregation by example and encourage everyone to think carefully about how we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
And so the session engaged over a period of about two months in such an exercise. We started by brainstorming some of the elements that we considered to be essential. Then one of the elders took the results of our brainstorming and created an initial draft t…

As I head to Presbytery and General Assembly, what is my agenda?

Recently I got into an email discussion with a good friend of mine, a friend who comes from a different Christian tradition from my own. We were talking about some of the potentially contentious issues that are likely to be discussed in upcoming meetings of Presbytery and General Assembly. Issues of the place and participation of people who identify as LGBTQ+ within the church have been raised. I expect to participate in those discussions both at Presbytery and at General Assembly as I am a commissioner this year. Now, my friend and I don’t necessarily agree about how such questions should be answered. That’s fine; I think it’s a good thing to have friends who disagree with you. But in our discussion, my friend expressed some concern about my “agenda.” That made me think a little bit. What is my agenda going into these discussions? After a little while, this is what I wrote to my friend:
   I don’t really see myself as having an agenda apart from seeking to live out the gospel as faith…