Showing posts from June, 2019


Hespeler, 30 June, 2019 © Scott McAndless 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21, Psalm 16:1-11, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62 T omorrow you and I will get up and, each in our own way, celebrate something wonderful. We will celebrate the wonderful country in which we live. We will celebrate Canada’s beauty and its people and their accomplishments. We will celebrate our heritage and history as well we should. But one thing in particular that I and many others will celebrate this year is a document, called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that grants and symbolizes the freedoms that I enjoy as a Canadian: freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly, freedom to participate in our political system, freedom of movement and the right to life, liberty and security. I don’t know about you but, in the world where we seem to find ourselves today where leaders refuse to leave office, electoral systems are hacked and oppressive regimes tighten the screws, it…

We are Legion

Hespeler, June 23, 2019 © Scott McAndless 1 Kings 19:1-15, Psalm 42, 43, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39 I t had been a nice afternoon sailing expedition. Jesus and the guys had gotten into the boat and just let the winds and the currents take them wherever they would. There had been a lot of leaning back, letting their fingers drag through the water and listening to the cries of the sea birds circling overhead. And then there had been all of these stimulating discussions about the nature of God and the meaning of faith. It had been heavenly. And then they had made landfall, had pulled the boat up on the shore in the country of the Gerasenes and instantly their peaceful afternoon came to a crashing halt. Did you notice that? No sooner had Jesus put one foot on the land than a crazy man came running up shouting at the top of his lungs: “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!” Except he wasn’t crazy, was he? It says that he was possessed b…

What's next

I am sure that many people in our congregations are wondering what the actions of General Assembly regarding human sexuality mean and might change in the lives of our churches in the short and in the long term. Here is what I would take away:
For the moment, nothing has actually changed The Assembly has essentially done nothing more and nothing less than send a remit (outlined above) down to Presbyteries. Nothing really changes until (or unless) that remit is approved by 50%+1 of Presbyteries representing 50%+1 of all the members of Presbyteries on the roll. Presbyteries cannot edit or amend the remit; they can only approve or reject. Assuming the remit passes this test, it will return to the subsequent General Assembly which also has the opportunity to vote on it. General Assemblies generally approve any remit that has passes through Presbyteries, but there have been a few historic exceptions. Only after all of these tests have been passed would the remit be considered to have changed …

She was nobody

This sermon has also been recorded and posted as a podcast in the Retelling the Bible podcast.
Click here find and listen to the Podcast episode: 3.6 She was nobody
Hespeler, 2 June 2019 © Scott McAndless Acts 16:16-34, Psalm 97, Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21, John 17:20-26 S he was nobody, really. She was just low-level employee, another cog in the machine. She didn’t even have a name – well, I mean she had a name, it’s just that her name was so insignificant and she was so unremarkable that she might as well not have had a name.       I tell you this because you need to understand just how unimportant she was, how unimportant she was constantly reminded that she was. And, because she was so insignificant, when it happened, she tried to convince herself that there was no point in even trying to do anything about it.       The man who had done it to her was really important, you see. Everyone said that he had the entire company on his back. He was the one who would make them profitabl…

The most significant thing that happened at Assembly

I am sure that many people who have read my blog posts from General Assembly might assume that I was only interested in the part of the discussions that we had around human sexuality. I felt a certain urgency to communicate my feelings about such things, but there were things that overshadowed them in my mind and heart.
Though I know that it is not a contest and there are many things that were extremely important because they deeply affect people’s lives and that is especially true with it comes to those who identify as LGBTQI+, the fact of the matter is that if you were to press me to say what was the most significant moment of Assembly, it wouldn’t have to do with that.
This Assembly contained many moments that were very important to the church’s relationship with its Indigenous ministries and neighbours. 25th Anniversary celebrationThe Assembly celebrated the 25th anniversary of the confession of the church to the Indigenous people for our part in the Residential School System. It was…

Honoured to have been in the room where it happened

As I left the meeting of the General Assembly today there were many of the beautiful hymns and songs that we sang during Assembly still ringing in my ears and in my heart. But I also found myself singing another song to myself – one from the musical Hamilton:

Now, in the musical, Aaron Burr is not singing about the exact experience that I feel that I had over the last few days. In his song he is actually lamenting the fact that he is shut out of the room where a significant decision was made and also the obscurity of what happened and the mystery of the give-and-take negotiations. That is not what I experienced at assembly. But I think I did experience the power of being part of a significant event where significant decisions are being made.
I have blogged on each of the meeting days when we have discussed matters of human sexuality and would suggest that, if you haven't read those posts first, you could read my previous posts before this one before reading this one.
Emotionally exha…

How do I feel at the end of another very long and exhausting day?

The first General Assembly that I attended as a commissioner was shortly after I was ordained and was held in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. Sometime before that, there was a church in Lachine QC in my Presbytery of Montreal that had knowingly called as their minister a gay man who was in a committed relationship with another man. (They were not married, as this was not legal in Canada at the time.) Because the support of that congregation for that particular minister was so clear, the Presbytery had sustained that call – had basically said that it should be permitted to go forward. I agreed, not because I had entirely made up my mind on such matters at that point in time, but because I felt that it was only right to honour the choice and will of the congregation. That action of Presbytery had been appealed. So, when I went to that General Assembly, the decision of our Presbytery to sustain the call was being judged by the Assembly. Knowing full well that the doctrine of the church…

Emotionally exhausted and privileged.

It has been a long day and an exhausting day on both an emotional and physical level, but I feel very privileged to have been part of it.
As a General Assembly, we spent almost the entire day working our way through a process designed by a committee of former moderators help us discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit on a pathway forward for our denomination.
I believe that the process worked -- that is, I believe that the Spirit spoke and that we listened.
I saw an Assembly that was actually focussed on working prayerfully and carefully together. I saw an Assembly that was actually interested in talking about the substance of the issues that were before us instead of getting bogged down on procedure like we so often do.
I saw hearts and minds change and evolve through the process and knew that the Spirit was working on my own heart.
It was a process that was not about winning or losing but about finding a path that we could live with together as much as possible. That process led us to a …