January 10: Jonah part 1: Fact or Fiction?
(imagine sea shanty music playing the background)
This Sunday the epic tale of Jonah will delight us and surprise us as we begin to explore this strange story with a profound message. I am pleased to have found a radiophonic production “The Book of Jonah” with music and songs by David Benjamin Blower and scripture narrated by N.T. Wright. I think it will set the tone nicely and add some inspiring drama to our scripture readings.
This is the beginning of a four part series on Jonah and I will begin this week by considering the background to the book of Jonah, considering what kind of book it is, why it was included in the Old Testament, and of course the big question: is it a true story?
December 20: God Builds a House at Christmas
This short meditation followed our online Christmas pageant.
December 13: Returning From Exile
This Sunday I will be concluding our series “The People of God in Exile”. We all want relief from our exiles. But what do we expect that return “home”, back to normal to look like? What is our vision of the future and our understanding of God’s salvation? These are some questions I have that I think apply to all our “exiles” as we anticipate the coming of God’s Messiah this Advent season. And they are important questions to consider so that we recognize our savior when he comes.
December 6: Waiting in Exile for God
“Advent, is sitting in the experience of exile. Waiting, hoping God will act in the future. We are slaves in Egypt. We are exiles in Babylon. … Where is God? We are waiting. That, is Advent. Learning to be patient, learning to wait on God.” – Richard Beck
This Sunday I will explore from the example of Job and others what waiting with faith can look like. May you experience the unique gifts of waiting this Advent season.
(No video of the message this week. Sorry. Something strange happened and the video got out of sync with the audio. It’s very distracting – like voice overs in a ‘B’ Japanese monster movie.)
November 29: Rudy, Joy through Giving, Especially in Exile
Traditionally Advent is a time of longing, waiting for Christmas to come.The days are cloudy and short, and this year we are forced even more than usual to hide away in our own family circles. For those of us secure in our pensions and our mortgages long ago paid off, we’re surprised to see our savings actually increase. Why? Because we can’t spend our money on travel or on entertainment. For such as us, a great way to enjoy the season is to donate money, joyfully. We’ll talk about the biblical encouragement to do so, the vast array of opportunities, and some of the pitfalls. Not in this category? Remember Jesus’ comment about the woman who gave a little but it meant a lot.
Carol R. has agreed to give us a brief description of what it’s like to run a program that depends on donations during this pandemic, and we’d like each of you to name a charity you feel close to and maybe give a short sentence on what it means to you. Our main Scripture passage will be 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15.
November 22: Shalom Living in Exile
When the pandemic first hit and we went into lock down many people thought this was a short term thing, a sprint, and we braced for it, hunkered down, supported our front line workers, temporarily rescheduled gatherings and encouraged our neighbours. Of course it has become obvious that we are in this for the long haul, a marathon. How do we respond in this disorienting stressful new situation?
The prophet Jeremiah was told by God to write a letter to the exiles in Babylon. (Jer 29) This popular chapter contains instructions to the exiles about how to live in their new situation and what perspective to take. In the midst are some wonderful promises from God to his people.
This Sunday I will explore some of the things we might learn about living in our own ‘exiles’ from these words from God to his people and from a story where Jesus told a man not to follow him!
November 15: Jane Kuepfer, ‘Counting our days, to gain a wise heart’
Jane Kuepfer is the Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging, a joint appointment by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and Conrad Grebel University College. She has extensive experience as a spiritual caregiver in long-term care homes and in the community, as a registered psychotherapist, a spiritual director, and an ordained Minister in the Mennonite Church and the United Church of Canada. As part of her role at the Schlegel-UW RIA, Jane coordinates an annual Spirituality and Aging Seminar, conducts research, and teaches graduate courses in Spirituality and Aging.
November 8: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It
To be suddenly displaced from our homeland, to lose that which we depended on, that which was our normal, the world as we know it is a traumatic experience. This “Peace Sunday” as we consider the wars, violence, and injustice in the world which displaces so many people, can we reflect on the prophetic voices of Jeremiah and others who call us, like Judah, to relinquish our violent idolatry and allow exile to purify the land? Can ‘exile’ be part of the journey to God’s peace?
November 1: Edgardo: The Legend and Teaching of Santiago (St. James)
This Sunday Edgardo will share the legend of Santiago in Spain and will shape the message of him for the Christian in the context of a difficult year for the poor.
October 25: Exile is the New Normal
“…no one can tell us when it will end.”
These are the words of the psalmist crying out to God in Psalm 74 in the midst of the exile of Israel. But recently they have been our words too. It has been suggested that the present banishment from our buildings of worship is a kind of ‘exile’ as well. I think we experience ‘exile’-like loss and displacement in many areas of our life, both individually and as the church in this ‘post-Christiandom’ age. So how does the Biblical story of God’s people in exile speak to our ‘exiles’ today? This is the question I’d like to explore over the next few weeks as we move towards Advent – the time of waiting for God’s redemption from exile.
This Sunday I will be introducing the Biblical theme of exile and considering how we live within it as “the new normal” of our lives.
October 18: Rudy: Who, Me? Coping with Criticism
This Sunday’s sermon bears the title “Who, Me? Coping with Criticism”. It uses the story of David and Bathsheba to look at Nathan’s famous criticism of King David (‘Thou Art the Man!’) as an example of giving criticism while maintaining life-long loyalty to his friend and King. Such criticism was regarded as absolutely essential among early Anabaptist assemblies, and maybe we have something to learn from the practice. Can we do so like Nathan and David today without breaking relationships? Our reading from Colossians 3 suggests that we can and must, perhaps by maintaining the value of forbearance. Our Scripture readings will be 2 Samuel 12::1-10 and Colossians 3: 12-17.
October 11: Praying for Others – Praying for Hope
This Sunday we will be giving thanks. In the midst of the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic where do we find our hope. Paul, in Romans 15 is thankful that God,through Christ, is coming through on His promises and because of that he prays for the Roman church that “…that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13) Let us pray to the One who is the source of hope.
October 4: Devon Wagler – “Hospitality”
We welcome Devon Wagler, Pastor of The Network Church this Sunday as he speaks about the Christian ‘practice’ of hospitality.
September 27: Praying For Those Who Suffer
“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” (Col 1:1)
My message this Sunday will be a continuation of “Praying for Others” and comes from Colossians 1:1-14 (The Message) where Paul prays for the Colossian church that they will “…acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works” and that they will “…have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives.” I think this could be a good prayer for those who are suffering. We often ask “Why is God letting this happen to me?” in the midst of suffering and wonder if we will have the strength to endure.
September 13: Praying For ‘The Team’
This Sunday I will be sharing my thoughts from Paul’s prayer for his friends in the Philippian church (Philippians 1:9-11). Paul seems to have a special bond with these folks who he says have shared with him in the struggles, joys, and thrill of seeing God at work in their common mission. What do you call people who have shared that kind of experience? Comrades? Co-workers? Teammates? Are there people in your life that you are immediately grateful for when they come to mind? Paul shows us how to pray for those people.
August 30: Praying for Our Enemies
This Sunday is a joint service with Erindale United Church congregation. The message is about “Praying For Our Enemies” from Matthew 5:38-48 and Romans 12:14-21.
August 16: Praying for Others – The Ephesian 3 Example
This Sunday I will be reflecting on the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19. It’s not always easy to know what to pray for other people. I’m looking to the prayers of the Bible for some help.
August 9: Erika Klassen
Erika started the Westview Centre for Women back in 2007. The Centre is open Tuesday to Thursday, and has an amazing array of resources and opportunities for women in St. Catharines, especially the Queenston neighbourhood. Erika is also one of the Lay ministers at Westview Christian Fellowship. Our alumni the Krumreis attend Westview and will be introducing Erika.
July 19: Janet Bauman
Our speaker this Sunday will be Janet Bauman, currently our Eastern Canada correspondent for the Canadian Mennonite. The title of her sermon is “Break Down Barriers — Let Living Water Flow”. It is a reflection on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well as related in John 4: 5-42. In this event Jesus broke down a number of barriers, and we are invited to do the same in our own day, driven by our thirst for the Living Water that Jesus promised.
July 12: Rudy: All Nature Sings and ‘Round Me Rings!
I suppose all of us have had personal experiences of Nature’s beauty that have moved us emotionally in such a powerful way that we’re sure that God has shown us His special favor. Our sermon will affirm these events as religious experiences that we live with the rest of our lives. That Nature speaks to us of God’s love is brought to us in the beautiful poetry of Isaiah 55: 10-13, the first of our readings. But Colossians 1:15-20 goes further and declares that the ascended Christ will reconcile all things to himself, and that includes the natural world. The twentieth Century Catholic , Telhard de Chardin expanded on this reconciliation as a movement of all Christans (and hopefully others) aligning ourselves in a society that aims toward increasing love for one another and for Nature. We discuss what that could mean for us as we confront our current crises of COVID-19, global warming, and species extinction.
June 28: Resting in God – Sabbath as Resistance
This Sunday I will be concluding my series on Sabbath – Resting in God, by talking about how observing Sabbath in our lives is a means by which we actively resist the forces of evil – subtle and obtuse in our world – letting our light shine in the darkness.
It is my hope that some of our talking about Sabbath these past couple of months has been helpful for you as we have been forced to cease so much of our normal activities. I hope you have been encouraged to seek out rest in God, ways to embrace the Kingdom of God, and feast in the abundance of relationships and God’s beautiful creation as we anticipate, with hope, the final Sabbath which God promises. Like the renewed anti-racism movement, I feel this subject needs continual attention in our lives. May this be a beginning not the end.
June 21: Merle Reist: “Joy”
Merle will be sharing his thoughts about joy with us. We have homework too! Bring a favorite scripture or hymn to share about joy.
June 14: Resting in God: Feasting
Feasting – celebrating together is a basic human behavior. Thanksgiving, potlucks, victory parades, birthday parties, wedding receptions, gathering with friends, even coffee time after church are crucial to restoring our soul, celebrating and building relationships, and remembering well. Let’s name that we are missing this very important part of our lives right now and it hurts! This Sunday I will be sharing about how ‘Feasting’ is a Sabbath practice rich with deep Biblical imagery.
June 7: Edgardo: Missional Community
Edgardo will explain the principle of Missional Community which the Relearning Community team have been learning about these last two years.
May 31: Resting in God: Embracing the Kingdom of God
So far in our series on sabbath practice called “Resting in God” we’ve looked at the practice of ‘ceasing’ activities to enjoy the freedom we have in God and we’ve looked at “resting” which is an act of faith and trust in God. This week I plan to talk about using sabbath time for actively “embracing” the life and values of following Christ.
This disorienting time of pandemic is similar to other Biblical times of disorientation – Israel in the wilderness and later in exile, the followers of Jesus after Jesus had risen and ascended into heaven. These stories show how the people of God were led by God’s Spirit to ’embrace’ their circumstances and discover new ways to God’s people in difficult times. May we be inspired by their example and led by the Spirit as we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost Sunday.
May 24: Rachel Nott: “Are We There Yet?”
May 10: Resting in God: Joy in the Shadow of God’s Wings
April 19: Carol Reist: Response And Hope During COVID 19
Carol shares her insight into how we as Christians can respond and find hope in the midst of “staying home”.
April 12 (Easter):No FEAR – Sin and Death Disarmed
My message from Romans 6 will focus on how Jesus’ victory over death means the fear of death no longer enslaves us to act out of fear which is sin. Ask yourself “What would it be like to live as if I couldn’t die? What would I be free to do or not do?”
This is my first time video recording my message. I had some trouble looking at the camera so if that’s distracting there is an “Audio only” link option. – Stephen
March 29: Harold Harder: The Fruit of the Spirit – How to Deal with Negativity
Harold is speaking from Galatians 5:16-26.
March 22: Romans 12 and Covid 19
Overwhelmed with the changes and stress brought on by this pandemic I put my planned sermon on hold to share some thoughts about how to live in the midst of these difficult days.
February 23: Romans: Homeland Security
In response to the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security to coordinate “homeland security” efforts. The image and language of “homeland” (or “fatherland” or “motherland”) is a well used one, often used to tap into the heartfelt need for home – a place to belong, be secure, fit in, and prosper – language used to unite people, justify struggle and justify injustice. It was the language of the Roman Empire (Pax Romana) and Israel (the Promised Land). Homeland is not just a place but an ideal with hope and promise that demands loyalty and sacrifice.
What if we read Romans as a letter about competing “homelands”: Roman, Judean, and the Kingdom of God (Jesus)? Because the concept of “homeland” so universally touches us all I think it gives fresh insight into Paul’s message about the Gospel. I’ll do my best to share it with you this Sunday.
February 16: Rudy Wiens: Jesus’ Learning Circle: Baptism, Temptation, and Kingdom Strategy
I started thinking about the story of Satan’s three temptations, and then realized that what we did last week with learning circles applies to Jesus’ Kairos event at his baptism, when he was proclaimed the Son of God. According to Matthew 4, in response he went to the desert to fast and, we can suppose, pray for direction. He came out of that experience having explored and rejected Satan’s alternatives, the three temptations. I present the passage in Isaiah 9 as what is to be expected of the Messiah, and I suggest that therein lay his strategy for establishing his new kingdom, one without oppression that started with healing the sick. Besides the contribution by Edgardo to my preparations, I received some help from the novelist Dostoyevsky and the BBC. – Rudy
January 26: Romans: The Slaves’ Gospel
In this letter to the early Roman church Paul describes the “good news” of Jesus Christ. Can we understand what this news was to his first readers and how it was good news to them? Can we use our imaginations then to hear that news as if hearing it for the first time this week and hear it as good news for some people today? It seems to me that a key to that exercise is imagining with good research how a slave in Roman and a oppressed Judean working in Roman would have lived and heard Paul’s letter. I think it was no coincidence that Paul introduced himself in this letter as “a slave of Jesus Christ”.
January 19: Edgardo: Covenant Sunday
January 12: Randell Neudorf – Holy Indifference (“Your Will Be Done”)
This Sunday our speaker is Randy Neudorf, pastor of The Commons, a little Mennonite church plant in downtown Hamilton. The Commons is, like us, in a season of discernment so his topic Holy Indifference (“Your Will Be Done”) and reflections will, I think, be a blessing to us. Scriptures: Luke 11: 1-4 and Matthew 6: 7-13
Link to recording: Randell Neudorf at MMF
December 15: Sensing God Epilogue – God bursts our reality bubble
I was watching The Agenda, on TVO a few weeks ago and was struck by the examples the guest gave of the ‘blind spots’ we humans have to the reality around us. Our very human centered point of view really limits our perception of reality. I think it limits our faith too and our ability to ‘sense’ God. So, I’ve decided on an epilogue to our fall series on ‘Sensing God’ to talk about the failure of our senses and the Christmas miracle that God entered into our limited perception as one we could see, hear, smell, touch (and taste?). May we see more clearly this Advent.
November 24: John Hildebrand: Politically Incorrect
Don Cherry is the latest Canadian to be charged, tried, declared guilty, and “executed” for political incorrectness … all outside of any impartial legal process or court. This week at MMF, John takes a look at political correctness including from a perspective of Biblical correctness.
November 17: Touched by God
This Sunday is the conclusion of my series on experiencing God with our five senses. The imagery of touch in the Bible symbolizes holiness and purity but also physical and spiritual healing and love. Just like in our culture today, touching people is complicated. But have we resorted today to avoiding the issues by avoiding touching? What have we lost of our humanity by avoiding contact? Are we missing the touch of God?
October 13: Taste and See That The Lord is Good
Many of us will be celebrating this Thanksgiving weekend with good food. And so I very intentionally planned my series on ‘Experiencing God Through Our Natural Senses’ so that the sense of taste would be our topic this week. Psalm 34:8 says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” So, I invite you, in the midst of your turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pies and whatever else, to save room for God. Come on, just try a little bit. You might like it!
September 30: Hearing God
Listen up! “Whoever has ears to hear let them hear” that this Sunday we will be discussing what it is that we are hearing, what God hears, and how we can better hear God.
September 15: Seeing God
This Sunday I will begin our series on experiencing God through our five senses by looking at the sense of sight. Scripture is full of references to sight, seeing, visions, and light so I have to narrow it down a bit. My goal is to discuss what we “see”, what God “sees”, and how we see God. After all, ‘seeing is believing isn’t it?
September 8: Helen – Living Water
Helen Griebeling will be speaking on the theme of “Living Water”, and afterwards will be showing some slides of their trip to Israel/Palestine with CMU last spring. For those who like to prepare or follow up, there is an attachment of websites Helen used and recommends.
June 30: The Liberation of Discipleship
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the Christian classic “The Cost of Discipleship” in 1937 as the Nazi’s rose to power. He lived out those words and it cost him his life. In our gospel reading this week (Luke 9:51-62) Jesus ‘vets’ three would be disciples confronting them with what they need to let go of to follow him. When I read this story with Galatians 5 though, I see Jesus not adding a burden but offering “freedom”. Following Jesus is liberating. He challenges our empty promises, our priorities, and our attachments that stand in the way of the better life of taking on his mission.
June 23: Rudy Wiens “Wheat, Weeds, and Consequences”
This Sunday Rudy’s sermon is called, Wheat, Weeds, and Consequences. “Sometimes we are troubled by the atrocities we hear about from our news media, and we wonder how a God about whom we sing “God Is Love” can tolerate such evil among humans. Jesus addressed this problem most pointedly in what we call the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. We’ll look at the parable and Jesus’ interpretation of it as a declaration of God’s patience. But the parable clearly speaks of dire consequences, too. That only raises the question of whether a loving God should forgive everyone. Christianity has always answered No. We’ll see how a religious sage of the twentieth century tried to explain why a God who is essentially Love must eventually deal with the tares, the weeds, and we’ll discuss how He may do so. I hope you’ll find it helpful.”
June 16: We And The Trinity Make Four
In the church calendar this Sunday is Trinity Sunday. I’m glad the calendar reminds us to reflect on this annually. Glad like I’m glad to pay taxes and visit the dentist. I’ll do my best not to let this become an irrelevant theoretical topic. Because, I actually do believe that the relationship of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is very important to our relationship with God and with each other. Our God is love – self-giving relationship. And we are invited into that love relationship.
May 19: Fred Redekop, MCC “Heaven is Coming Down”
Fred was a pastor in the Mennonite Church for 30 years. He is currently the Church and Community Associate for Mennonite Central Committee. His title for the message this Sunday is “Heaven is coming down” and his texts are John 13:31-35 and Revelation 21:1-6.
May 12: A Deeper Look at the 23rd Psalm
A friend gave us a picture when Daniel was born of Jesus tenderly holding a lamb. We hung it above his bed. The words “The Lord is my Shepherd…” portray a beautiful comforting image for us of God caring for us and nurturing us, like a mother. So, for this Sunday (Mother’s Day), I would like to explore that familiar psalm. I hope that the depth of imagery and meaning might inspire us anew so that we might come to love it and God in a deeper way.
April 28: Carol Penner “The Constant Gardner”
This Sunday our speaker is Carol Penner. Her title is “The Constant Gardener”. “Mary mistakes Jesus for a gardener; ironically, earlier in the same gospel, God is called a gardener. The metaphor of God as a gardener is rich for us as Christians; what can we learn about the Christian life from our experiences of gardening?” Carol was a pastor at Welcome Inn in Hamilton, First Mennonite in Vineland, and Lendrum MB church in Edmonton. Recently Carol has been teaching practical theology at Conrad Grebel for the past three years.
April 21: Easter “The Return of the Messiah
Jesus’ resurrection is good news, unless your the one who killed him. You know the familiar movie plot where the bad guy (or good guy) finishes off the good guy (or bad guy) and thinks they are gone for good but NO! They return from the dead to get their revenge. (I was thinking of Star Wars’ ‘Return of the Jedi’ when I came up with this title). When the Son of God returns from the dead we should be expecting bad things for the human race who killed him. But Jesus surprises us, showing the true nature of God. (My thanks to Richard Beck for this perspective.)
April 14: “It’s All Going According to Plan”
As I was reading the familiar Palm Sunday passage Luke 19:28-40 today I realized that there is part of the story I like to skip over because it bugs me. Jesus lays out this detailed plan for two of his disciples to “borrow” a colt. It’s like he’s scoped out the place in advance or has a crystal ball because it all goes according to plan. And then Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna overshadows this little heist and we forget about it. It’s time to pay attention to this little story this Sunday. As the Psalmist says in Ps 118:23 “This is the Lord’s doing…”
March 31: “Eat This Book”
“Eat This Book” is the title of a book by Eugene Peterson. The title is a quote from Revelation 10:8-10 where John is told by an angel to eat the scroll. Ezekiel and Jeremiah also “eat” scripture and Peterson uses this powerful analogy to describe how Christians also must internalize the revelation of the personal God as to feed our souls. As we complete our study this Sunday of “Reading the Bible With Jesus” I find Jesus’ example in Mark 12 contains examples and contrasts of how Jesus “ate” scripture compared to other religious people. I won’t have time to deal with the whole chapter but I invite you to read it through yourself.
March 24: Norm Dyck, MCEC “Reluctant Obedience”
Our speaker this Sunday is Norm Dyck, Mission Engagement Minister for MCEC. Norm is also one of the leaders for Relearning Community but he will not be talking about RC explicitly on Sunday. He will be speaking from the story about Jesus telling Peter and the others to go fishing after they had just fished all night! The story is found in Luke 5:1-11. Norm has three questions from this story: Authority – who should the community believe? Identity – how does the community understand itself in light of the authority of Jesus? Mission – to what is the community called in its context?
January 24: “Worshiping In Spirit and In Truth”
As we observe in our worship this Sunday the end of 37 years meeting at Erindale Secondary School, I am reminded of the story in John 4 of Jesus discussing with the Samaritan woman where the right place to worship is. Is it the temple in Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim? Is it a school foyer or a church fellowship hall? Jesus answers us all with a profound answer: The place of true worship is in spirit and in truth. Where is that? What will it cost? Can we bring our piano and hymnbooks? Will I like it?
In the sermon I mention a TV commercial. Here’s a link to it:Scotiabank: “That Excited Feeling” (BTW, I noticed watching it on YouTube that the man does point out the food in her teeth at the beginning. Huh! I never noticed that on TV.)
January 6: “I Wish You a Curious New Year”
What motivated learned, wealthy, powerful men from the “east” to take a long and uncertain journey to a foreign country to find a baby? They followed a star. The star caught their attention, it stood out, and they were curious (to put it mildly) to find out where it would lead them. This Sunday, I would like to propose that such a spirit of curiosity can be a gift and a blessed approach to life and God.