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Christmas 1- Jesus increased in wisdom and in years

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1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52
We read in our Gospel lesson that Jesus “increased in wisdom and in years”. He sits in the temple among the teachers and is asking questions and giving answers. After the holiday celebrations have ended Jesus is still in the temple engaging the things of God. He is participating in learning the ways of his people. There was a development in Jesus. He learned. His character developed.

Jesus is at about the age when Jewish boys have their Bar Mitzvah. It is a time when they are considered to make a transition from boyhood to manhood. They will responsibly enter into the worship of God as adults. Jesus would have entered the worship with the men at this point- entering into the inner courts of the temple with Joseph to make the offering of the Paschal Lamb, which would then later be eaten by him and his family. … Before their Bar Mitzvah the sin that boys commit is the responsibility of their parents. After their Bar Mitzvah it is now…

Christmas Eve

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Luke 2:1-20
When I think about this night I often think about a painting. It’s not a very Christmassy painting. It is a painting of Mary weeping over her son after his body was taken down from the cross. It was in the family home of a man named Martin Kober for a long time. It was an old painting that had always been a part of the background of the family.

I remember at my grandma’s house she had a velvet painting of a mountain scene. It was just always there. It was like the wood paneling it hung on. It was just always there- a part of the background.

Martin Kober’s painting was like that. It hung on the wall of the family home, in the background. It hung on the wall for many years until one day the painting was knocked off the wall when the kids were playing with a tennis ball. The family left the painting behind the couch, perhaps to keep it from being knocked to the ground again. There the painting sat for nearly 30 years, unseen, gathering dust.

One day Martin decided to have the …

Lessons and Carols

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Lessons and Carols 
Is 9:2, 6-7
Luke 1:26-38
Lk 2:1-7
Lk 2:8-16
Matt 2:1-11
Jn 1:1-14

If we had to pick one hymn for the season of Advent one would quickly rise to our minds- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. It is an old hymn. The words have their roots at least as far back at the year 800, but probably go back further. They have been used and modified in the season of Advent ever since. 
The first verse goes-
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
That really sums up what Advent is all about. “O Come” is a yearning. … When thinking about Advent, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer uses the image of miners who have become trapped in a collapsed mine. They have no ability to save themselves. They sit in the darkness and wait. They have no power over when of if they will be saved. They sit in the darkness and yearn, “O Come, O Come”. They wait to hear the pick a…

Advent 3-

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Luke 3:7-18
John the Baptist represents the school of the prophets. He is dressed like Elijah. They both wore Camel’s hair garments with a leather belt around the waist (2 Kings 1:8 and Matt 3:4). Elijah was the prophet’s prophet. He was supposed to come before the messiah would arrive (Mal 4:5). John also had the words of the prophets on his lips (Mal 3:1; Is 40:3-5). The stereotypical cry of the prophet is “repent”, which means to turn. You repent when you head down the wrong road and when you realize it you make a U-turn. It involves both turning away from what is wrong and turning towards what is right.

The prophets usually arose to call people back to the Law and Covenant. The people would stop following God’s direction in their life. They would become attracted to the cultures around them. They would start participating in the worship of other gods, and forget the moral and religious direction God set out for them. So the prophets were those who stood up to call the people back w…

Advent 2-

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The Rev. Bud Sargent came to speak to us on behalf of the Mustard Seed at our 10am service. They are doing wonderful work in Red Deer. Please consider supporting the work they are doing. Click on the picture below to learn more. 



The following was the sermon preached at the 8:00 service
Luke 3:1-6 
Our Gospel reading opens with a list of names, mostly obscure and hard to pronounce. It is completely reasonable to ask why those names are included as a part of the story of Jesus.

What Luke is trying to do is to place this story in history. Ancient historians would often describe time by pointing to the year of an important political or religious person. So, what all this means is that we can place the ministry of John the Baptist sometime around 26 to 28 AD, by our way of measuring time. It would be a bit like saying, “in the 65th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the second, and the 3rd year of the leadership of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada.”

I know these names and dates …

Advent 1

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Luke 21:25-36
Today we are starting a new year in the church’s calendar. The Church year always begins with Advent. Advent is a season that brings a certain level of tension. Our culture is ready for Christmas, but the church is in Advent and instead of hearing heart-warming stories about the baby Jesus or pregnant Mary on her way to Bethlehem, we hear readings calling us to repentance, and warning us to prepare for a coming judgement.

Our Gospel reading is probably mainly about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 40 or so years after Jesus was resurrected. The language is very symbolic, and so we shouldn’t necessarily be thinking about actual sun, moon, and stars. Often the skies were viewed as a reflection of what was happening on earth, or that those elements of the sky had some kind of power to control events on earth. likewise, the sea was often a symbol of unpredictable chaos. So all of this may have been speaking about the marching of the Roman legions into Jerusalem and…

Spiritual Disciplines- Worship

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Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 1:4b-8;John 18:33-37
Today we are completing our series on the Spiritual Disciplines. And this morning we are dealing with the discipline of worship.

It is appropriate that today is also the feast of the Reign of Christ. This is the end of the church’s year. At the height of the church year, after we move through all the seasons, after we retell the story of Christ and his disciples, we reach this Sunday. This Sunday declares that Christ is King. As we read in Revelation 1:5, Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth”. And all through our Gospel reading Jesus declares that he is a king and he has a kingdom. He is our king and we are his people. It is only appropriate that we are a worshiping people.

Worship is expressing the greatness, beauty, and goodness of God through words, music, rituals, and adoration. Through worship we enter into an encounter with God. Worship can be done individually and as a group. As Christians we should…

Spiritual Disciplines- Meditation

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Joshua 1:1-9; Col 3:1-17; Matt 7:15-29
We continue this week with our sermon series on the Spiritual Disciplines. This week we are looking at the discipline of Meditation. We usually have an image that comes to mind when we think about meditation and it usually involves eastern religions and sitting in a certain position. But, meditation has always been a part of Christianity. Meditation is an umbrella word that houses a huge variety of mental activities. When Christians use the word “meditation” it is usually meant as a prayerful contemplation of God, Scripture, and the world God created.

We see meditation mentioned in our reading from the book of Joshua. Moses has died and Joshua is taking over as the leader of the Israelites. What we are reading are the instructions Joshua is receiving as he takes on this new role. That instruction includes this verse, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to ac…

Spiritual Disciplines- Confession (Remembrance Day)

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Ps 32; 1 John 1:5-10; Luke 5:27-32
Today we are continuing with our sermon series on the Spiritual Disciplines and it is also Remembrance Day. This is also a significant Remembrance Day in that it has been 100 years since the end of World War 1.

Confession is the practice of sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and with others we trust. We do this to seek God’s forgiveness, and healing. We confess as individuals, but it is also appropriate for us to practice confession as a group.

I think communal confession is important for us to do on Remembrance Day. War is always a complicated thing to deal with as Christians. The plain understanding of the words of Jesus seem to speak against any act of violence on the part a Christian. For example, in Matthew ch 5 we read, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone want…

Spiritual Disciplines- Submission

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Prov 1:8-19; James 4:1-10; Matt 26:36-46

The spiritual discipline we are looking at this week is submission. That is not necessarily one that would be on the top of the list for most of us. It is not one we are particularly drawn to. There is nothing trendy about it. We might even think it is a bad thing. We all know that authority can be abused, so when we think about submission we might think about cult leaders who demand complete submission on the part of their followers. … In a society suspicious of authority, we are taught to not submit. The idea of practicing submission, as if it is good for us, seems strange.

Christian submission is always a submission to Christ. And it usually happens in the context of community. Submission is not having to have things our own way. It is giving up our right for the benefit of someone else. … For example, say you like Christian heavy metal music, but you recognize that most people can’t relate to that on Sunday morning. You refrain from sending …

Spiritual Disciplines- Solitude and Silence

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1 Kings 19:1-18; James 1:19-20; 3:1-12; Mark 1:29-39
The spiritual discipline we are looking at this week is Solitude, but we might also call this Silence. For the most part they go together. We go to them for a similar reason. They offer us the opportunity to receive a similar grace. The practice of solitude “calls us to pull away from life in the company of others for the purpose of giving our full and undivided attention to God” (Ruth Haley Barton in the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality). Silence is a way to cease using our voice to manipulate our environment. It is also a way to still the voices that try to manipulate us.

Through both solitude and silence we quiet the noise outside us so that we can still the noise within us. … We are constantly being bombarded by stimulation- radio, Tv, podcasts, books, advertisements, magazines, smart phones, facebook, instagarm, email … not to mention face to face conversations, and the excitement of community and driving. … In our socie…