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Mark 9:2-9

With my thanks to my friend John Anderson for this kind invitation, and to Rick and the Choir for their ministry of music, among others for their hospitality this morning.

Since Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States last fall, I’ve been wearing a simple, safety on the left chest pocket of my suit coats or cardigans; over my heart.  I’ve had more than a few people say to me “did you lose a name tag?”  And I tell them about my friend, who heard about some University Professors in the States wearing safety pins, to reassure their diverse student community that “unlike in Donald Trump’s America, you are safe with me.”

Readings: Isaiah 58:1-11 – Justice & Hospitality   Matthew 5:13-20 – Salt & Light

Story:  “Entertaining Royalty” Two young people were walking along a path in the Catskill Mountains. Their conversation had turned to a mutual acquaintance. The young man said, "She has what I call a radiant personality." "That's right," agreed the young woman. "How do you account for it?" They walked along for a few moments, and then, pointing across the river, he said: "See that wonderful old castle? You know, when I was a small boy, my playmates and I loved to sit on the bank and look across at it. We could tell what was going on there by the number of lights that were burning. If only the family were present, just a few lights would be seen. When guests were entertained, there would be many lights, and the palace became truly beautiful. Once a member of a royal family visited there, and you should have seen the lights! I have seldom seen such brilliance." The young couple's discussion wandered back to their acquaintance. "I think the only way her radiant personality can be explained is that she is constantly entertaining a Royal Guest," suggested the young lady. He agreed. — Secret Place

Sermon: Intro – Sadness of recent Quebec City massacre, political events in USA & growing fear-based  movements around the world, growing tribalism and suspicion of ‘the other.’ Even sadder is strong support this movement seems to be getting from so-called Christians … attitude and action that stands in direct contradiction of the teachings and example of Jesus and the scripture readings for today which describe the godly and Christ-like path that we are challenged to take.  So, today, in response to the evil and fearful hatred which is being unleashed upon our world by fear-mongers and other terrorists, and as an illustration of what it might mean to live as ‘salt and light for the world’, let me tell you another story – a true story, about someone who did just that.

READINGS:  James 1:19-27; James 2:14-20

Last Sunday we used an article from a recent MacLean’s magazine as a starting point for exploring some of the factors that need to be in place for a congregation like Wesley to thrive. You’ll recall that the article was based on a research project which concluded that the only mainline congregations that were growing were those built upon a more conservative theology, which brought with it what is known as a “Strictness” expectation of what it meant to be a member. While there has been considerable criticism of the research and its conclusions, it DOES offer a useful review of how conservative churches manage to grow.

On New Year’s Day I received the following email letter from Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan monk, and one of the leading re-thinkers of Christianity in our day. It began: “Our religion is not working well. Another year has ended—a new year begins—in which suffering, fear, violence, injustice, greed, and meaninglessness still abound. This is not even close to the reign of God that Jesus taught. And we must be frank: in their behavior and impact upon the world, Christians are not much different than other people. The majority of Christians are not highly transformed people, but tend to reflect their own culture more than they operate as any kind of leaven within it. I speak especially of American Christians, because I am one. But if you are from another country, look at the Christians where you live and see if the same is true there. Let’s be honest: religion has probably never had such a bad name. Christianity is now seen as “irrelevant” by many and often as part of the problem more than any kind of solution. Some of us are almost embarrassed to say we are Christian because of the negative images that word conjures in others’ minds. Young people especially are turned off by how judgmental, exclusionary, impractical, and ineffective Christian culture seems to be.” (Rohr, 010117)

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS [a New Year's Review of our Faith]

12 Days:  Between December 25th and January 6th.  They were separated in the Western part of Christendom so that Christmas could fall on the last day of the winter festival – Romans called it the Feast of Saturnalia, Northern Europeans called it Yuletide. … [the celebration of the rebirth of light after the winter's longest night.]  In non-Roman cultures Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6th, "the Epiphany" [God's "appearance" or "revelation" to humans through Jesus.

In the 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous there is a saying: “It’s very easy to Talk the Talk, but can you Walk the Walk?”    That’s the gist of Jesus’ challenge to the upright and respectably religious people of his day.  Their “talk” was good, but too often their “walk” [their actions] didn’t support what they said.  So Jesus countered Simon's self-righteous arrogance by comparing his actions with those of the woman he was being so quick to judge and discount. Turns out Jesus thought the woman of doubtful character was walking the walk better than the God-talking Simon!    

CAUTION!  ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD CAN BE A MIND-ALTERING EXPERIENCE!

Readings for April 24, 2016:  Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-6;  John 13:31-35

 I once knew a man [we’ll call him ‘Henry’] who had a near-death experience that changed his life.  He watched himself die from a place just overhead, and then began to be aware of another “presence” lifting him away into a bright light.  He began to be aware of many other “beings” as well, and there was a sense of overwhelming peace and joy such as Henry had never experienced in his entire life. [The truth was, Henry had been a bit of a rascal, and viewed life as a kind of smorgasbord of pleasures in which he, as a man of wealth, could indulge himself to his hearts content. 

To Everything There is a Season (... Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

When we think of Seasons what usually comes to mind are "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter." In other parts of the world they have "Dry Season and Rainy Season." Avid sports fans mark time by "Baseball, Football, Basketball, or Hockey Season." Each way of reckoning time has its special days ... like First day of Spring, or the Opening Game, or Grey Cup Day. In medieval times, the Christian Church developed its own calendar for the year, and helped people to mark the "seasons" of the "Church Year" by different colours.

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Nestled in the heart of downtown Cambridge, only a few steps from City Hall and the Cambridge Farmer's Market.

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About Us

Wesley is situated in the historic civic square in downtown Galt, adjacent to the Cambridge Farmer’s Market, the historic City Hall, and the new City Administration building.
Wesley is part of the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in our country. The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender, orientation, or physical ability.

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Wesley United Church

6 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, ON
N1R 3R6

Office Hours
Tuesday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Phone

519-621-6060

Sunday Services

Beginning at 10:30am

United Church of Canada

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