April 11: The Fellowship of Easter
From the scripture readings listed in the Revised Common Lectionary this week, I see a unity based on Jesus’ resurrection and the hope, joy, and mission that come from that profound event. We yearn for fellowship again yet maybe the absence of fellowship in person invites us to consider that God given fellowship is based on something other than normal social bonds (friendship/common interest/culture etc) but instead overcomes diversity that would divide us.
April 4: Easter Sunday: Merle Reist; “Burning in their heart”
Happy Easter! Merle shares about two of his favorite resurrection stories and reflects on the love and faith moving from mind to heart.
March 28: Great Expectations
It’s Palm Sunday and we will be hearing again the story of Jesus’ victory parade into Jerusalem. It’s street theater – a political statement of liberation, welcoming a new King of the Jews in the gates of the capitol city heavily fortified, anticipating trouble. What courage and faith it would have taken to shout “Hosanna! Save us!” in front of Roman soldiers. Have you ever found the courage to take such a risk – to trust God with your great expectations? What happened?
March 21: Brent Musser, Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp “Dancing with Creation”
Our speaker this Sunday, Brent Musser lives at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp with his wife, Mary Anne, and their four children. Brent and Mary Anne have shared the role Facilities and Environmental Stewardship Director at Hidden Acres since 2017. Prior to that they lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Brent served as a pastor in a Mennonite congregation. Brent loves spending time in nature, especially birding, and is eager to learn more about the natural world and to share with others about the connections between faith and our appreciation and concern for God’s creation in which we live.
March 14: The Vaccine of the Cross
Our topic this coming Sunday is SNAKES! Don’t worry, no real snakes or pictures of snakes or virtual/online snakes (is that a thing?) will be present. The Lectionary readings for this Sunday, as we journey to Easter, are about the snake problem and solution Israel experienced in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9 ) and also about Jesus predicting his death saying, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” He says this in the midst of his conversation with Nicodemus. You know, the one where Jesus says “Ye must be born again” and where John 3:16 is also found. Deep stuff. I’ve read an insight into this ‘snake’ think that might help us reflect in a fresh way on Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Like snakes, we would rather avoid it. But gazing on it brings healing and our salvation!
March 7: Jennifer Reist and Natasha Martin:”Trust + Surrender = Freedom”
Jen is a CSW with Teen Challenge, an in-residence alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation program program in the Greater Toronto Area. She shares about the Teen Challenge program and her experience seeing God at work changing lives. Natasha works for Homewood Health Center also working with recovering addicts as a Recreational Therapist and shares some of her experience helping people build whole lives. (Due to confidentiality we are not able to publish the recording of the message.)
February 28: Jonah part 4: Changing Our Minds About Evangelism.
Yes, I just said the “E” word. I know, you’d rather take a boat to Antarctica then talk about evangelism! What do we have to say that people would even listen to? Jonah thought it was futile (and risky?) too. Well, I’m hoping God will change our minds and give us a new hope about our calling to speak for him without the traumatic storm and fish belly quarantine.
February 21: Harold: How Then Shall We Live?
This Sunday, I am continuing my message from March 29, 2020 where this scripture passage from Galatians 5:16-26 was used; only instead of speaking about The Fruit of the Spirit, we will be using this Bible passage (and a few others) to find a Biblical response to the question “How then shall we live?”
In Galatians 5:16-26, the Apostle Paul addresses this question indirectly when he provides a description of the Christian experience from both a worldly and spiritual perspective. The attached handout is my way of graphically summarizing this passage from Galatians which hopefully you will find useful. Then, we will look briefly at the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus Calming the Storm as two examples of how Jesus modeled this biblical approach in His life and taught it to His disciples.
February 14: Beware the Fish!
This Sunday we will be finally talking about Jonah being in the belly of the great fish. I will be talking about how that kind of death like experience can change a person (or not), and compare Jonah’s story to Jesus’ story. My premise is that Jesus compared himself to Jonah and rewrote the familiar story of Jonah in his own life with a new ending.
February 7: MEDA: Sowing Seeds That Feed
Chris Brnjas is an Associate Development Officer with MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) whose mission is to “create business solutions to poverty” around the world. Chris will be reflecting on the “Parable of the Sower”, planting seeds in the kingdom of God and MEDA’s work at large.
January 31: Jonah Part 2: Worshiping Gourd
The scene of Jonah being swallowed by the great fish is what everyone remembers about the book of Jonah but there is a bigger beast in the story – the evil city of Nineveh. The fish distracts us from the punch line – it’s like a punch to the gut – delivered by God “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” What?! No! What kind of god is this? I think I’d rather worship the gourd plant. At least it’s predictable.
January 24: Carol Reist: Faith Lessons From Raising Chickens
Carol shares with us some thoughts about God’s care for us that she has seen illustrated in caring for her eight free range chickens.
January 17: Our MMF Covenant
This Sunday is our annual MMF Covenant Sunday. Edgardo, our Steering Committee Chairperson will share his reflections, with scriptural references on the components of our MMF Covenant that we pledge each year to God and each other.
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.