New Year’s Eve comes early in the church calendar. November 24 is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year, and the new year begins December 1st.
For some people Christ the King Sunday is uncomfortable because kings don’t have the same respect or power as they used to have. It’s not the kind of image that some people want for Jesus, whom they know as Saviour, Redeemer, and friend. “King”seems arrogant, stand-offish, part of an old power structure that we don’t want to encourage in a democratic world.
There is another way to think about the image of king, though, and it comes from a children’s song. “Who is the king of the jungle? Who is the king of sea? Who is the king of the whole wide world? And who is the king of me?”
So, who is the king of MY life? Who is in charge? Who am I loyal to? Whose teachings and example make me rethink selfish choices, foolish expenditures, and unloving public actions? And if the answer is “Jesus”, then how do I live my life in a way that shows that he is in charge of me and of the world that he loves?
The season of Advent, the four weeks beginning December 1st, asks us to step back from the rush and to re-evaluate what we are giving our lives to. It may not be easy to find the time, amid work and family responsibilities, but it really doesn’t need hours and hours. Try this: take the time you spend brushing your teeth to ask, “God, what do you want me to clean up today? Who do you want me to help up today?” That’s plenty to begin with.
Each day brings choices: may the Spirit of God give you wisdom and strength for the choices you will have to make.
Pastor Susan Horton
October brought us the Thanksgiving Holiday. November brings us the Thanksgiving MESSY CHURCH! Join us Sunday, November 17th for a “Messy-Style” time of crafts, games, songs, and gospel stories.
10:30 or so Crafts and Activities for children and adults working together
11:20 or so Celebration Time
11:40 or so Lunch provided by the congregation
Arrive when you can and join an activity.
The celebration of the Reformation is here, with only four more years to the 500th Anniversary, and Luther’s birthday is coming November 10th. (Did you know he was named Martin because he was baptized on the feast of the popular Martin of Tours?) So take a little time to get know the stories of some of the reformers, beginning with Martin and his wife Katarina von Bora. They weren’t perfect but they were deeply committed to reading scripture and to lifting up the name of Jesus in their time and place. So get a bible translation you can understand and take some time to immerse yourself. You can even read Mark’s gospel can be read in one sitting. Take one of the letters, imagine the city it was sent to, like Rome or Ephesus or Corinth, and “listen” to the whole thing, as they might have done, rather than limiting yourself to Sunday sections. Let the story of Jesus and the witness of his first followers flow over you, and let that shape your prayers and your actions for the days ahead.
You may never be quite the same again.
Pastor Susan Horton
P.S Have you ever tried reading all of Psalm 119 at once? It makes much more of an impression that 8 verses at a time!
In the Apostles’ Creed we confess that we believe in “the holy catholic [universal] church, the communion of saints.” That reminds us that we are connected with the believers in Jesus who have gone before us, but it also reminds us that we are connected with the believers who currently live and call on the name of Jesus as we do. Because of that connection we can learn and be encouraged across many denominational lines that used to separate us completely.
At meetings in a Catholic Retreat House in Saskatoon, I picked up a copy of the Prairie Messenger, which carried an article from the Vatican news service. Pope Francis had sent an open letter to an Italian newspaper, in response to letters from a reporter. Pope Francis wrote that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, if that means a truth that can stand by itself without any relationship. “Truth, according to the Christian faith, is God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship.”
Then a few days later, I watched Session One of Campus Alpha with speaker Jamie Haith. Jamie says that people sometimes ask why Alpha starts with Jesus, rather than the question, “Is there a God?” He quotes Church of England Bishop and theologian Tom Wright, who says, “The resurrection of Jesus strongly suggests that the world has a Creator, and that Creator is seen in terms of, through the lens of, Jesus.” Then Jamie adds, “We see God by looking through Jesus.”
I could shorten all that to say, “Want God? Get Jesus!” Of course, it’s a bit crude, a bit simplistic, to put it like that, and it’s NOT the summary to offer to people who are searching for spiritual truth. That truth will come in relationship, as they see something of Jesus through us, and something of God through Jesus.
We cannot offer perfection in faith, but we can offer what we have so far. And then we can rely on the power of God, who called us not according to our works, but according to God’s purpose and grace in Jesus Christ. (See 2 Timothy 1.) Ain’t that good news?!!
Pastor Susan Horton
Do I really matter? What is my purpose in life? Those are questions that could keep people awake at night – if they weren’t too tired from a day of work and family activities! But they are important questions that shouldn’t be swept away in general busy-ness. There is time for such questions in an ALPHA group. What matters to each person and how Jesus might fit into what matters are the focus of the conversations.
Please check it out at the Introductory Session on Wednesday, September 25th at 7:30 p.m. We will gather in a home for coffee and dessert, watch a 17 minute video called “Is This It?”, and have some conversation about the video. If you like what you see, you’ll have a chance to sign up for seven more Wednesday evenings and a Saturday away. If you’re not interested in continuing, we will still be glad to have met you.
The ALPHA COURSE itself begins Wednesday, October 2nd with a 30-minute video titled “Who is Jesus?” Dessert, video, and conversation are planned to fit between 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. For address of the ALPHA host home please call the church office at 780-743-5055.
Pastor Susan Horton