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Original Advent, Christmas, Epiphany sermons,prayers, stories, plays, fim reviews, theological book reviews for use in the church-
seeking the following biases:
+Gender, sexual orientation and power inclusiveness in language and in imagery,
+Following Jesus in valuing equally children, women and men,
+Seeing justice as integral to the will of God for all creation,
+In theology and view of scripture, liberal, moving toward radical.

Year A

To see an article, click on a title listed below.
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Planning for Preaching and Liturgy 
+Using Heb Test. lessons as basis for Advt - Epiph Preaching/ congregational worship
+Advent Wreath closing ritual: After four weeks of lighting Advent Candles, here is a ritual for taking the light from the candles, and into our lives. This year we suggest keeping the wreath alight until Epiphany 1 A205
+After Epiphany Yr. A. Planning guide, "Called to be Light." A207

Advent Preaching/discussion material
+Advent 1 Sermon: "My Faith and My Politics." A401
+Advent 2 parable: "The Village - How the Market Place Became the Highest Good." A302
+"The Village part 2, Joan Paul vists the village." A302cont.
+Advent 3 social comment: "The World is in a State of Chassis." A301
-Advent 4, Use a Christmas Pageant (as per those listed above)

Seasonal DRAMATIC liturgical resources
-White Gift Sunday enactment of "Feeding the 500," according to John. Suggestions for involving the whole congregation, including children and youth. A 102
-Christmas chancel play,"Mary Remembers," intergenerational . A108
-Christmas pageant for adults and/or youth, "The Midwife's Letter." A203
-Christmas Eve, lessons and carols, "Stepping Stones to Christmas." A204
-On the Bus -An Advent play-writing and acting project for teens   B203

-Advent-Christmas: a child's unadulterated view. "Kaitie-ism." A103
-Annual Meeting Sunday, "Children's Finger Play." A104
-White Gift children's story: "Smile." A101
-Children's place in the church A112
Steven Sees the Light -Epiphany Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 4:21; John 8:12, 9:4-5 ecclesicakes A111

Advent Social Commment
+Advent parable: "How the Market Place Became the Highest Good." A302
+Advent Rant: "The World is in a State of Chassis." A301

-Smile - story for White Gift Sunday a101
-Hugging - A Toddler's view of Christmas A103
-Deaf Angel A206
-Sermon from the Church of the Deaf, "Angelo the Deaf Angel." A206
-Story from the Church of the Deaf, "Word"  Made Flesh.A403
-Sermon, "Now That We Have it, What Shall We Do With It?" A402

Epiphany -Magi
-The Magi's Gift, sermon  A409a
-Magi, telling it to children A110
-Travel, ecclesicakes A407

Epphany - Baptism
-Baptism sermon (epiphany 1) ecclesicakes baptsermon
-Congregation's Reaffirmation of Baptism, a Litany  B204ep



---------------------------------------Yr. A Archives----------------------------------


--------------------------------------------Yr. B. Archives-----------------------------------------------------

-Lament, first of an Advent series B4advt1
-Called to Hope B4advt2
-Called to Active Hope B4advt3
- Being a Temple, the Body of Christ B4advt4

Epiphany 1- "8 Blessings, Notes for planning  Jan. 12 and subsequent Sundays of Epiphany. B4ep
Epiphany 1 - Litany for a Congregation's Reaffirmation of Baptism B204ep
Epiphany 2 - Planning notes for Jan. 19 B4ep2
Epiphany 2 - "Called," a litany B205ep
Epiphany 3 - On the threshold of a New Day Jan 26 B4ep3
Epiphany 3 - "On the Threshold," a litany B206ep
Epiphany 4 -"Blessings in and  By the Community of Faith B4ep4
Epiphany 4 "Thanksgiving for church" B207ep4
Epiphany 5 The Blessing of Joining God in the World B4ep5
Epiphany 5 - "God Who Goes Before Us, : a litany B208ep5
Epiphany 6 - God of Compassion B4ep6
Epiphany 6 - "Compassionate God, Compassionate People,"a litany B209ep6
Epiphany 7, God Who Remembers and Forgets B4ep7
Epiphany 7, "God of Hope, " a litany B210ep7
Epiphany 8, Enlightened Mind. B4ep8
Epiphany 8, "God Who reveals," a litany B211ep8

-----------------------------------------Yr. C. Archives ------------------------------------

A Theme for this season of Advent yr. C How will we prepare the way for God's realm?
Advent 1 sermon suggestion  
Advent 2 sermon suggestion
Advent 3 sermon suggestion
Advent 4 sermon suggestion

-Using the Psalms as entry into worship (and other script) during Advent B202
-An alternate way to read scripture in congregational worship during Advent ecclesicakes A201

Epiphany Yr. C, Sundays After - Eight Themes:    EpC1 through 8
1st- Redeemed; 2nd - Delight; 3rd - Holy Law; (see also "Cov. of Laws A415)
4th - Called; 5th - When God is Made Known to Us; 6th -Curses & Blessimgs; 7th - Generosity;
8th - Transformed and Transfigured.




A theme for Advent yr. C eccleiscakes advtC
Based mainly on Gospel lections

Overall theme for the season -
 HOW WILL WE PREPARE THE WAY FOR GOD'S REALM inour hearts, church, and world? (Lk.3:1-6)

Advent 1 - Luke 21:25-36. How do we know when the Realm of God is Near?

Advent 2- Luke 3:1-6 How will we Prepare the Way for Realm of God?

Advent 3- Luke3:7-18 How will we Bear fruits of God's Realm?

Advent 4 -Luke 1:39-45 How will we identify God fullfilling promises?

Development of these weekly themes

Advent 1. How do we know the Realm of God is near?

Dear Reader, In the following sermon suggestion I give some general illusions and leave it to you to give specific illustrations which fit your contect.

[ Introduce the overall theme and the four questions, which can make this season of Advent a time to ponder what it is to be a citizen of the Realm of God to which Jesus calls us. Let us during this Advent prepare a way for the Realm of God to claim our hearts, our congregation and to influence the values of our world. ]

The question for today arises from a verse of the gospel lesson for today. Luke 21:31 announces, "When you see these things you will know that the Kingdom of God is near." One question this verse can pose for us is: How do we know when the Realm of God is near to us?

This is a good question for us to ponder over this next four weeks. All the gospel writers agree that Jesus' mission was to proclaim "the good news of the Kingdom of God" (Lk. 5:43). In today's reading from Luke, Jesus is quoted as saying that when we see the leaves of a tree starting to sprout, we know that summer is coming, then urges us to watch similarly for the Realm of God. So, what sprouts do we look for as announcing the nearness of the Realm of God? How do we know when this Realm of God is near to us.  What signs tell you that the Realm of God is with us; when is it as near as your heart, when is it as close your church, and when is it in the neighbourhood of your  world?

This is not a question for me to answer for you. Yet I do have a role in giving leadership as we work together to identify the Realm of God among us and within us.

Note: this article is in archives. If you wish to read it, contact Bob and he will e mail it to you usually in 24 hrs.

Advent 2, How will we prepare the way for the Realm of God?

Have you ever envisioned yourself doing something as a way to prepare for actually doing it? My youngest daughter, Margaret, works with paralympic athletes. These disabled skiers use envisioning as preparation for performing their event. Before they go down the hill they rehearse in their mind what they will ask their bodies to do as they speed down the ski run at a speed too fast for thinking.

When Margaret told me about this, I wondered, "Would envisioning would be an aid in preparation for living in the Realm of God?" 

Today's topic is the second in a series for Advent. It is inspired by John the Baptist who urged people to "prepare the way  of the Lord." Could we prepare the way for the Realm of God by imagining what it would be like -  by envisioning it?

Last Sunday we began by asking how we would identify this Realm of God - would we know it if we saw it in our personal lives, or if we met it in the church, or if we heard of it in the wider world? Some say they know the Realm of God is near when the Spirit moves them to feel loved and loving. Others tell us they identify the presence of the Realm of God by contemplation, prayer and study. Still others know the Realm of God when they are moved by the Spirit to do something good.

Those were the questions for last Sunday. They are questions which lead us to to today's question: How will we let the Spirit Guide us in preparing the way for the Reign of God to come more fully into our lives, our church, and our world?

Today's question, "How do we prepare the way for God's Realm," seems to assume that we want our personal living, our church and our world to be more fully within God's reign. It appears to be based on our desire for God. It begs the  further question, do we want more of God in our own hearts, in the life of our church, and in the wide world? Maybe we are hungering for more of God, and a fuller experience of God's Holy Spirit. Maybe we do desire a more intense relationship with Christ.

Or perhaps, we already have as much God as we want. Maybe we do not really want to live more fully by the reign of God!

In some way it doesn't matter what we want, what really matters is what God wants and what God wants is to draw us more deeply into God's Realm. God wants us, and God is coming to us. The biblical book of Revelations has a wonderful image of God's desire for us. The writer of Revelations tells of a church that is unenthusiastic in its mission. It is not  a people who want more of God. So, John pictures Christ coming to the door of that church, and knocking to be let in. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come to you" (Rev. 3:20).  So, even if we are not enthusiastic for God, God is eager for us.

Yet the biblical writers believed there is a role for us in  preparing the way for God's Realm.

This article has been archived. If yu want to read it, contact Bob and he will e mail it to you within 24 hrs.

Advent 3, Yr. C. Lk. 3:7-18 How will we bear fruits of the Realm of God? ecclesicakes advtC3

This last week a local group were on television asking for the donations of "lightly used coats" for poor children. This sounds a lot like our Gospel lesson for today.

In today's Gospel reading  John the Baptist tells those who came to hear him that now is the time to bear fruit worthy of repentance." He goes onto explain that now is the time for those who have two coats to give one away.

John believed that true faith in God would show in the generous behaviour of the faithful.

Brian Perkins-Macintosh wrote recently for Mandate Magazine: "Any poll will tell you that belief in God is firmly embedded in the North American psyche. What is not so clear is the kind of God people believe in, or whether belief has any bearing on the day to day decisions and actions of those who believe."

He goes on to quote the theologian, John Dominic Crossan who asks, "What kinds of actions or values does God sanction? Conversely, what kinds of actions and values does God reject?" Mandate 2003, "A Decade to Disarm: from violence to non-violence," United Church of Canada.

Marion Soards asserts that our great "Protestant heresy" is our failure to see that "true faith generates godly actions." Preaching the Revised Common lectionary Yr. C, "Third Sunday of Advent." Abington 1994.

Somehow, many people seem to have the idea that sole purpose and end of Christianity is to forgive us of our sins so that we can enter Heaven. I am not surprised that some see Christianity this way. Many of our hymns put forward this view. These hymns praise God that Jesus died for our sins, and opened for us the gates to Heaven.

John the Baptist would have had trouble with such hymns. He would want them to have at least one verse more. He would want to add a verse that declares: Forgiveness of sin has made us able to love our neighbour with a glad heart! The Cross has set free to practise love and justice the rest of our days! (see Romans 6).

Note: this article has been archived. If you want to read it, contact Bob who will email it to you in 24rs, usually.

Advent 4, yr. C. How Will We Identify God Fulfilling God's Promises? advtC4

Luke 1:39-45, and 46-554

One of the qualities that I like best in a person is the keeping of commitments. For me nothing is so frustrating as having someone say they will do something, and then not do it. Of course there can be circumstances that prevent someone from doing what they said they would do, and in such cases we must understand. However, I have known people who will say yes over and over and not do it over and over - it is a pattern with them. On the other hand, how wonderful it is to have people in my life who always do what they said they would do. In the Bible God is portrayed as a model for all promise-keeping; God keeps promises to us, and calls us to keep our promises to God.        

Today's scripture passages are rooted in this aspect of faith. They all either see God fulfilling God's promises or they look to the future and base their hope on God keeping God's word. This also is what Christmas is about - The birth of this child  in Bethlehem is is seen by Christians as God fulfilling a promise made through the prophets long ago.

Now what about today? Is God still fulfilling God's promises today? If so, can we identify any signs that that is so? I suppose before we can respond to a question like that we need to remind ourselves -just what promises has God made? When I ponder this, three major promises come to mind. They are:

1. God promises that  we can trust Creation; 2. God promises us that the Realm of God is now and in the future; 3. God  promises to judge us with grace. You may be able to think of others. Let me review these three and perhaps you would consider how they relate to you and your life, and to the life of the world, and share with me other of God's promises which you experience in your life.

In my list, God's primary promise is found in creation. This promise is written into every day of every season; it is to be noted in every blade of grass and every beating heart of every creature. I would be interested in the promise you see or hear in a clump of earth, or the cry of a newborn child. I find that the promise found in creation is many promises. For now, I will touch on just two; the promise of life and the promise of order.  In every breath I take there is the promise of  life and the promise of order in the universe. We all depend utterly on both these fulfilled promises. We modern humans are very much enamored by our creations of technology, but nothing we do would be possible without these two promises: life and order. If the promise of life were to be withdrawn, where would we be? What an empty life this would be without the new life in children! How lost we would be without order! In a disorderly universe, we could not even drive a nail or bake a cake, let alone build a computer. Thank God for the many promises of creation.

So, the first promise is the manifold promise of Creation.  The second of God's promises which comes to my mind is the promise of the Realm of God. Where the promise of creation is the promise of life, the promise of the Realm of God, has to with how we live that life. This too is a many-faceted promise. It is a whole bundle of promises in one package. However, the basic promise is that one day, on the Day of the Lord, the Sun will rise on a world in which we live together in peace and harmony.  Jesus and the prophets were sent to proclaim and to enact this rich promise. Our role as people of faith is to show by our living that we are the vanguard of that of that Day. Some would say that this also is the calling of every nation and people. In all aspects of our personal and social being we are to act out our membership in the the Realm of God. In this manner we prepare the Way for the Realm of God to come upon the whole earth.

The third of God's promises that I am addressing to day is the promise to judge us with grace. This promise is God's response to our tendency to misuse the first two promises. Humankind tends to misuse the promises of creation and the promise of the coming of the Realm of God. That is, we tend to ignore the fact that our in our life and in our inventiveness, we depend on creation and on our neighbour. We forget that of ourselves we cannot create life, develop technology, or create humane societies. This leads us to not care about the Earth, and to poison it as if it did not matter. It also means that we will turn against our neighbour. God's response to this ruinous behaviour is to judge us, but to judge us with grace. [ click here to see also Be4ep7, God forgets our sin]

In this context, grace means we get a second chance, a chance to change. God gives us a second chance and third chance and so on forever. It seems to me that the chances run out when we have polluted the earth so that no life is in it, and have ruined both our neighbour and ourselves. Until then, God judges us with grace. Our role in this is to accept the grace and repent. We prepare the Way of the Realm of God when we accept God's grace and take action to respect the promises of creation, and to live out the Promises of the Realm of God.

Let us during  this week of Christmas embrace heartily all of God,s promises, and thus by our living prepare the Way for God's Realm to be seen upon the Earth.


Advent  Yr. C. An Alternate way to read scripture in worship  A 201

In my experience as a liturgist, I have noticed that many people's eye's glaze over when several scripture lessons are read back to back during the morning worship. Therefore, I have worked with worship committees to change that by finding other ways to present the bible in worship so that it has a better chance of being heard. On this page, I offer one of these ways, and look forward to hearing of your experience.  To see this applied to all of Advent Yr. C,  click here
Scripture as Litany
As we looked at the text of the lessons for each Sunday prescribed by the lectionary, we came to realize that quite often the message of the lessons was exactly what we wanted to communicate in the various parts of the service.
So, we asked ourselves what it would like if we moved some of the lessons to the place in worship where their message fit with a particular movement in the liturgy. We found that very often the Hebrew Testament lesson called us to worship and the Epistle lessons could be read as powerful commissionings. We resisted forcing any passage into a place where it did not fit. We tended to leave the Gospel lesson to be read at its usual place in the service.
The following suggestion comes from this approach to the reading of scripture in the Sunday Service.
Using this method, the order of Sunday worship for Advent 1, Year C, might be a follows:
Call to Worship
Announcing the Promise of Advent Jer 33:14-16
Congregational response Ps. 25:1-10

Prayer of Approach and confession
Assurance of Grace

The Gospel Luke 21:25-36
Prayers of the People

Sending Forth 1 Thes. 3:12-13
To see this applied to all of Advent Yr. C,  Scroll down>

Alternate Way to read Scripture in public worship for Advent Yr. C. ecclesicakes B202
The Heb. Testament readings for this Advent proclaim the Hope of Advent, therefore I am suggesting that they be used as a part of the call to worship. The other lessons may thne be read as folows

ADVENT 1                                     Advent 2              Advent 3                   Advent 4
Musical prelude
Call to worship
Announcing  Advt,  Jer 33             Malachi 3:1-14             Zeph. 3:16-20       Micha 5:2-5
Congegational resp.  Ps. 25: 1-10   Luke 1:68-79                Is. 12:2-6             Lk. 1:47-55
Opening prayers
Confession of sin,                                  
Assurance of Grace                        
Gospel Reading of the day
Life and work of the Congregation
Prayers of the People
Benedic tion
Commissioning 1 Thes. 12-13             Phil. 1:9-11        Phil. 4:4-9              Heb. 13:20-21*

* not as per lectionary

On the Bus for Chrismas Eve ecclesicakes B203

This is a play in which much of the writing is done by those who put it on - an opportunity for creativity. I will provide a framework and a few central ideas and scene, and you the players can write a lot of the dialogue from your own imagination experience, insights, and ideas.

Characters; Give each of the following characters a "nickname."
Each of the following characters represents a common attitude toward Christmas. The purpose of the play will be to play with these characteristics and find in them something true about Christmas.

Character 1. : Sees Christmas as a time to get things. This character has lots of things, and hopes to get more this Christmas. 
His/her nickname is _______________________________________________

Character 2. : Sees Christmas as a time to party, and looks forward to Christmas a time to do just that - Party!! 

Nickname is _______________________________________________________

Character 3: Sees Christmas a s a religious festival, and likes to go to church at this time of year to hear the carols, and participate in the liturgy. Not necessarily a deeply spiritual person.

Nickname is ________________________________________________________

Character 4. : For this character Christmas is about food. Loves to cook and eat.

Nickname is ________________________________________________________

Character 5 Holiday time! For this character Christmas is a time to travel - like to Disney World!

Nickname is _________________________________________________________

Bus Driver  - No nickname yet. Is a family person, who wants to be home for Christmas Eve.

Stranger - 



Empty interior of the bus. Two rows of chairs serve as passenger seats. A chair for Driver. Driver has decorated the driver area of the bus with some tinsel. There are advertising posters on one wall of the bus, a very prominent one is an ad for a food charity, showing the face of a hungry child, asking for donations for homless children.
Driver, gets on the bus and addresses the audience: "I want to tell you what happened to me last Christmas Eve. I was working my usual shift, which turned out to be on Christmas Eve. I was really looking forward to being home with my wife and kids when my shift ended at 11 O'clock that night. But, you may remember the storm we had last Christmas Eve. The whole city was socked in. I and five teenagers where stuck in the storm in this very bus for two hours. That was quite a Christmas Eve. That was the night that Jesus got on my bus.
Let me show you what happened.

[Note to players" The purpose of the following dialogue is to show the audience what each character is all about. See my example re Char 1 below. What kind of interaction do you imagine between these charcaters: friendliness? teasing? hurtfulness? camaraderie? Imagine where each of these characters is going on Christmay eve - for example,  Char no. 2 may be going to a party.]

Scene 1, Getting on the Bus

 Driver sits and pantomimes driving away, then stopping and opening the door. Char no. 1. gets on carrying a Ghetto Blaster, which is playing loud music.
Driver shouts: "Merry Christmas to you!"
Char 1: "Huh? What did you say?" Turns off the Blaster.
Driver: "Merry Christmas!"
Char 1: loudly, "Yeah! I call it 'Merry Get-stuff,' haha. Got this Blaster last Christmas, and I am lookin' to get more stuff this time. Merry Get Stuff!" Goes to a seat mid way down the bus, and turns on the blaster. This Char is carrying a bag of gifts for family members.

Driver pantomimes driving to the next stop and opening door. Char 2 and 4 get on, and pantomime brushing snow from their clothes. After speaking with driver, take seat together in front of Char 1.  Blaster music is turned down so audience can hear dialogue.

Char 2 is wearing [Party Dress?]_____________________________ and carrying [ Party Favours?]______________________

Char 4 is carrying [ Food?]_______________________________________

Driver: "Merry Christmas."

Char 2: "_______________________________________________________________________

Char 4: ________________________________________________________________________

Char 1 recognizes 2 & 4 from school and greets them with their nicknames:  ___________________

Char 2&4 reply: ___________________________________________________________________


Driver mimes turning on windshield wipers and driving to next stop. 
Char 3 gets on, mimes stamping snow from feet and brushing snow. Char 3 is carrying____________________
Driver, "Merry Christmas!"

Char 3: " _______________________________________ _______________________________"
goes to seat a little way from the others.

Char 1 calls out to Char 3 using nickname: ________________________________________________

Char 3: ________________________________________________________________________

Char 2 calls out to Char 3: " __________________________________________________________

Char 4 calls out to Char 3: " __________________________________________________________

Char 3 replies: ___________________________________________________________________

Driver mimes driving with difficulty due to the storm, opens door at next stop.
Char 5 gets on, and mimes removing snow, and rubbing hands together for warmth.
Driver: "Merry Christmas!  Come in from the storm1"

Char 5 : "O, Winnipeg is horrible in the winter. ........_______________________________________________

Char 1 calls out to Char 5: " __________________________________________________________

Char 5 replies: " __________________________________________________________________

The other Characters speak to Char 5. 

Driver mimes trying to drive away. Peers out the windshield. Takes microphone and radios to dispatcher for snowplough. Then turns to the passengers:" I 'm afraid we're stuck in this snow. I have called for help, but it might be a while."

Passengers sit in stunned silence. 

[ Players, review the dialogue you have written. Does it give the audience and idea of what kind of characters are on this bus? Is it lively and have funny spots. Does it show any conflict or tension among the passengers?]


Scene 2, Complaints

[This scene begins with the passengers complaining because they will miss what means most to them about Christmas. So write dialogue that expresses this. Again, where do you imagine each char is going on Christmas Eve? For dramatic purposes you might have Char 1 speak first, and be the chief protagonist. For most of this scene the bus driver just sits and stares out the windshield.]

Char 1: Complains because his family opens gifts on Christmas Eve, and he wants to be there to get his stuff.
[ This encourages the others, except the driver, to complain that they will miss what is important to them about Christmas Eve, so write a dialogie of their complaints. Brainstorm what these complaints might be]

Char 2: walks up the driver and asks in a challenging voice if the driver is going to miss any thing. Driver responds about wanting to go home, but first, he needs to make sure his passengers are safely through the storm.

Char 4. to driver: "What shall we call you, Driver Boy or  Mommy's Boy, or _______________?


Scene 3, Turning

All are sitting quietly, looking sad and bored. Someone says in a loud voice, "Boring!"

Then there is quiet again until there is aloud knocking on the bus door (the sound of banging on metal is heard)
Driver is startled and quickly opens the door. Everyone looks to see who it is. 

Stranger enters dressed like homeless youth, dragging a medium sized bulging plastic bag, and slumps wearily into the first available seat and says to the driver, "Thanks, it's freezin' out there. I'm sure glad I found you."

All the Characters approach the stranger with questions: What is it like out there? See any snowploughs? Where you from? I never saw you in our school!
Finally, Char 4 asks: Got any food in that bag? I sure am hungry. I can pay.

Stranger says that he/she does have food, but it is for St. ______ drop-in centre for street kids, like in the poster on bus wall. 
This leads to comments and questions such as it must be a small drop-in if the contents of that bag are their Christmas supper, who are these people why are you doing this? Where do they live?

Stranger explains that he volunteers for this drop-in centre for street youth, and he's trying to bring them what he can. Their cook is sick and most of the staff can't make it through the storm. But if this bus makes it, he can help the youth have a Christmas Eve .

Each character responds from their own perspetive on Christmas: 
Char 1: You mean they will have not get any gifts!?
Char 2: __________________________________________________________
Char 4. __________________________________________________________
Char 5: __________________________________________________________
Char 3: __________________________________________________________

This leads to the characters on the bus to discover excitedly how each of them could also help (with gifts, food, a party, worship) - all except Char 5 who decides in the end that a trip to the group home would be a good way to start the holidays. They can phone home from there.

Driver: announces the arrival of a snow plough. Everyone cheers. 
Driver pantomimes driving to the end of the line, everyone exits excitedly except the driver. The Ghetto blaster is playing a Christmas  Charol such as "Joy to the World."


Driver speaks to audience: "That was my experience last Christmas Eve. To me that stranger was just like Jesus coming onto my bus. I went home that night and told my family, and the next morning after the storm we too went the group home, and joined the party.
May each of us have Jesus come into our lives every Christmas Eve. and every day after." 
Driver exits.
Curtain call.

Rehearsal notes

[Note, you may find a different conclusion to this story - if you do feel free to follow your imagination and heart!] 

In putting on this play two things are important: 
1. prepare very well by practising twice as often as you want to. Learn your lines very well.
2. Speak  your lines loudly so the audience can hear you!
It is a good idea to have guests come to your final dress rehearsal - this will help getting over the jitters.
Have fun, Bob.

Lamenatation ecclesicakes B4advt1.

Advent 1 yr. B, Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-27
Note -This sermon is the first of a series based on the Hebrew Testament lections for Advent, Yr. B.
Working titles for the other three are: Called to Hope, The Spirit Upon us and The Church as a Place Where Christ Dwells and as Christ's Mission Station. This series would be a journey from the darkness toward the light, without making the darkness go away. If Christ is a Light in the Darkness, the darkness is still with us.

Isaiah 64 was written at a bleak time in the life of God's people. It was a time when God seemed far away, and the people were going to other gods who seemed stronger and more successful.

Today I invite you to dwell with me on how bad it is for the church today. I ask you to be mindful of how feeble the church is, and how bleak its future seems to be, and how weak God seems to be compared to the power of evil, and hurt.

Archived!! The above article has been archived. If you would like to read it,ask Bob to send to you and he will -usually within 24 hrs.

Called to Hope ecclesicakes B4advt2
Isaiah 40:1-11, 12 -321; Mark 1:1-8

This sermon is the 2nd in a series for Advent yr. B. The series began with Lament (eccleiscakes B4advt1).

Let me share with you a modern parable. The setting of this parable is a fear that is unique to out times - being in an airline that is about to crash.

A group of passengers excitedly takes their seats in an airliner departing at night from Winnipeg to fly over the North Pole to Scotland.  Within a half-hour the flight is in the air, and people are settling to sleep their way over the top of the earth, when the cabin fills with an acrid smell, and the lights go out.

Suddenly everyone is sitting upright with fear clutching their hearts. Then the stewards try to bring calm, the public address system is not working, so they go down the aisle explaining that a fuse has blown, but the flight engineer will have it fixed soon. Ten minutes later, the co-pilot comes into the cabin, and explains that the flight instruments are not working, but the flight crew soon will have everything fixed again. Another ten minutes go by with no news from the crew. People begin to weep, and pray, and call to the stewards, "Is it fixed yet." Some passengers know that by now they are lost. Without instruments the pilot has no way of know directions or altitude.

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The Medak Pocket, 2PPCLI COMMENDATION ecclesicakes PPCLI

In mid-September 1993 United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) soldiers from the Second Battalion Princess Particia's Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) advanced into the disputed Medak Pocket in southern Croatian with orders to implement the latest cease-fire Between Croatian Army troops and Serb irregular forces. 2PPCL was reinforced with two mechanized companies of French troops. The Canadians, well schooled in the delicate art of "peacekeeping", discovered their negotiation skills and strict impartiality were not immediately required in the Medak Pocket. instead they fbund themselves calling upon their primary war-fighting skills when Croatian Army units opened fire with machine-guns, mortars and artillery, in an eflort to stop the Canadian advance. To complete their assigned mission the Patticia's were required to threaten the use force, and ultimately use deadly force against Croatian units. However, the true test of military professionalism and discipline came after the smoke cleared, the Croatians backed down and the Canadians immediately reverted to their role as impartial peacekeepers in their dealings with individuals who only momcms before had attempted to kill them.
This resolute action came at a time when the UN reputation in Croatia was at an all-time low due to repeated failures to secure the infamous Uniled Nations Protected Areas (UNPA's). Colonel George Ochring, commander of UNPROFOR Sector South. claimed the Princess Patticia's "won for the whole mission a credibility and respect that will be long remembered by the opposing parties and much Facilitate our future efforts here."*
One unique feature of the 2PPCLI Battalion Group was the size of the reserve and outside unit augmentation to the operalion, Of the Battalion Group's total strength of 875. 385 soldiers were volunteers from various reserve units across Canada. One hundred and thirty five personnel came from other regular force units.
On July 3. 2002. the Governor General announced that the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's would receive the Commander-in-Chiefs Unit Commendation for the unit's action. The citation reads:
The 2nd Battalion Princess Patticia's Canadian Light InJantry Battle Group (2 PPCLI BG) is awarded the commendation for courageous and professional execution of duty during the Medak Pocket Operation in the Former Yugoslavia in September 1993. Under conditions of extreme peril and hazard. ]~tcing enemy artillery, small arms and heavey machine gun fire as well as anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, the members qf the 2 PPCLl BG held their ground and drove the Croatian forces back. The exemplary actions of the 2 PPCLI BG caused the Croatian Army ia cease their ongoing tactics of "ethnic cleansing" in the sector, without question saving many innocent civdian lives.


The Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation was created in July 2002 by the Governor General to recognize the outstanding service of Canadian Forces in times of conflict under direct enemy fire. 2PPCLI is the second unit commendation to be presented by our Cornmander-in-Chie£ the first being received by the IR22eR Battle Group lbr their actions in Sm'ajevo in 1992.
The 2nd Battalion Princess Patticia's Canadian Light Iniantry Battle Group (2PPCLI BG) is awarded the Commendation for courageous and professional execution of duty during the Medak Pocket Operation in the Former Yugoslavia in September 1993. Under conditions of extreme peril and hazard, thcing enemy artillery, small arms and heavy machine gun fire as well as anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, the members of the 2PPCLI BG held their ground and drove the Croatian forces back. The exemplary action of the 2PPCLI BG caused the Croatian Army to cease their ongoing tactics of "ethnic cleansing" in the sector, without question saving many innocent civilian lives.

Called to Active Hope ecclesicakes B4advt3

Advent 3, yr. A. Isaiah 61:1-3


This Advent series is following the Hebrew Testament reading from the prophet Isaiah for this season. 

Reflecting the mood of Isaiah 64, it began with a lament, a cry of near despair expressing how bad things seem to be in the church and the world. Then last week, taking a cue from Isaiah 40, the sermon called us to watch for signs of hope - even in a seemingly hopeless situation, without diminishing all the signs that lead to despair. These signs of hope may be seen as signals that God has not abandoned the world. 

Responding to Isaiah 61, today's reflection asks us to move one step further, and become, ourselves, active in hope - to be spirit-filled, to offer "a garland in place of ashes."

My first response to such a challenge is to look for places where others are already doing this. So, this part of this sermon will sound a lot like last week in that it will tell of the Spirit at work.

I find that once I begin to look for the spirit at work, I am immediately shown some. For instance, last Sunday our church was led in worship by a hand-bell choir who showed they were filled with the Spirit. This is a band of 12 women, none of whom would be called persons who have any power in the world. But, the spirit has led them to use what power they do have to make a proclamation. They have elected that, in this saber-rattling year, when mighty politicians are calling for war, they will reply to these world leaders with the song prayer, "Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me." They have decided to do this every time they are called on to ring their bells.

Surely they have the right to claim, "the spirit is upon us."

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Being a Temple, Christ in the World ecclesicakes B4advt4

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16, Luke 1:26-38

The Hebrew Testament reading for today leads me to remember that we are called to represent Christ in the world. No, I am mistaken; we who are the church are not only to represent Christ, but also actually to be the body of Christ in the world.

Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ into the world. If Christ is in the world anywhere today, Christ is present in and through us.

Now, I guess I should explain how I got to this conclusion from this morning's reading from Second Samuel. Second Samuel is about the Temple in Jerusalem. For Jews of ancient times, the temple was the place of all places where the presence of God was to be found.

The temple had been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Finally in the year 70 the Romans destroyed the last one, which was never rebuilt. When that last temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70, Christians claimed that a temple was no longer needed. Christians claimed that Christ and the Christian worship of Word and Sacrament had replaced the temple as the place where God was to be found. *

God is in the world on every occasion in which the Gospel is preached or Love of neighbour is enacted, and every time the Bread is broken for the Eucharist and every time the Water is poured for Baptism.

It is our faith that God chose to come into the world in the Babe we anticipate every Advent. It is also our faith that God has chosen to continue to be present in the world through the church that acts in Christ's name. We are the Body of Christ. We are a living temple through which God has elected to be present for all creation.

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Yr. B 2002 Epiphany Theme Planning ecclesicakes B4ep

The following are some week by week Planning for Preaching and Teaching resources for the season after Epiphany.

As I see it, Epiphany follows logically from Advent and Christmas. As Advent anticipates the coming of Christ, and as Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child, so Epiphany shows and celebrates the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the world.

These eight Sundays after Epiphany can be compared to a DVD of Jesus "coming out" as the Child of God. The readings for each day give us a clip of that ministry, along with appropriate passages from the Hebrew Testament and the epistles. Or, to use an older analogy, going through the readings for Epiphany are like viewing, with an informed friend, a photo album of eight pictures of Jesus' early years.

So, if we do this following the Gospel reading, which are mostly from Mark, we may come up with a series under the general title, Sharing in the Blessing (1Cor. 9:23). Under this title we could have a series that picks up fromMark 8, terms that describe the life of faithful Christian individuals and communities: My selection of these title is:

Worship series, Sharing in 8 Blessings of Epiphany

(Jan.12)Baptsm, (Jan.9) Calling, (Jan 26) Threshold of a New Day, (Feb 2) Blessings in the Community of Faith, (Feb. 9) Reaching into the Community, (Feb. 16) Living with Compassion, (Feb. 23) Reconcilling Humanity with the Holy, (Mar. 2) Being Transfigured.

Note: The remainer of this series is in archives. If you would like to read it, contact Bob and he will e mail it to you -usually within 24hours. Quote title and catalogue reference, B4ep

Baptized in the Spirit, a litany

One: We have been baptized as Children of the Creator.
All: We confess that we are creatures of the One God who made Heaven and Earth.

One: At our baptism we were incorporated into Christ,
All: We confess that by the grace of God
we have been united with Christ, in body, mind and soul
so that we join Christ in the proclamation of Grace, and Peace. 

One: Through our baptism we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
All: We confess that by the grace of God
we have been given the Spirit to nurture and guide us
in the work of Grace and Peace.

One: The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy,
All: Come O Holy Spirit, in Christ's name fill us with your love
and give us a joyful heart.

One: The fruit of the Spirit is patience, and kindness
All: Come O holy Spirit, in Christ's name fill us with patience
and direct all our actions to kindness.

One: The fruit of the Spirit is generosity, gentleness and self control,
All: Come, O Holy Spirit. In Christ's name lead us to be a generous people,
gentle and thoughtful in our deeds.

One: The fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness,
All: Enable us, O holy Spirit to be true to the Gospel.

One: If we, the Children of the Creator God, live by the Spirit, 
All: Let us be guided by the Spirit in Christ's name.
So be it, Amen.

Note: When using this litany on Epiphany 1,  I suggest offeing it after the sermon on baptism, and conclude the service with the closinbg of the advent wreath (see  Advent Wreath Closing liturgy found at ecclesicakes a205 )


The Blessing of Being Called ecclesicakes B4ep2

 Planning aid for 2nd after Epiphany - Week of prayer for Christian unity

1Samuel 3:1-19 (11-20) God speaks to the Boy Samuel whose mother had dedicated him to God's service.                                                                            
Psalm 139:1-16 (13-18) Where can I go from your Spirit?
1st Corinthians 6:12-20 Our physical bodies also are members of Christ
John 1:43-51 Jesus calls Philip; John declares Jesus to be the expected one. 

One way to approach this Sunday would be to focus on "Calling" as a spiritual concept, and as an individual and corporate life experience. Taken as a bundle, the readings for today might lead us to reflect on our own call by exploring the meaning of Call in our faith and delving into the question of how that may apply to us as individuals and communities.

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          Called by God, a litany

One: O God of many gifts, you have called us
All:  You call us by name, inviting us into the work of Grace.

One: O God of many gifts, you have nurtured us
All: You teach us to value the gift we have been given, 
        And to honour the gifts we see in our neighbours.

One: You invite us to use our gifts in love of yourself 
         And in love of neighbour
All: By the power of your Holy Spirit 
       Enable us to say "yes" to your Call in the Name of Jesus,
       Use our gifts and skills for the good of our home, our church, 
        Our neighbour and our community. 

On the Threshold of a New Day ecclesicakes B4ep3

1. Jonah 3:1-10 The city of Nineveh turns from "its evil ways."
2. Ps. 62.5-12 Let us trust in God, rather than in worldly gain.
3. 1 Cor. 7:29-31 The present form of the world is passing away.
4. Mk. 1:14-20 John the Baptizer is executed. Jesus begins his ministry. Simon and Andrew are called.

My suggestion is that we on this Sunday we proclaim and celebrate the age-old blessing and wonder that is ours when we find ourselves standing on the threshold of a new thing that God is about to do. We are often tempted to think that the best we can do is hold onto what we now have, but this is not God's way. God is always calling us be open to the movement of the Spirit, who wishes to use our gifts in a new demonstration of grace

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On the Threshold of a Ever Renewing Day of God, a litany
One: You call us, O God to step forward
All: You call us to stand at the threshold of your New Day.

One: You invite us to leave behind the Passing-away world,
All: To let go of its false securities and values.

One: You ask us to bring with us all that is good and true in our lives
All: To step forward carrying the ancient virtues of  Faith, Hope and Justice, 

 One: From this threshold we can see before us a vast panorama of  grace,
All: from here we catch a vision of  fresh possibilities of Good News.

One: Fill us with your Spirit, so that we may dare to move with you as dsiciples of Jesus

ALL: Give us the heart, and generosity to dare to love you as you love us.,
and the humility to accept the love of our neighbour.
All this we pray in Christ's Name 

1. Some examples of scripture that announces or celebrates the threshold of a new Day:
-The covenant with Noah Gen. 9:8-17
-The call and covenant with Abraham and Sarah Gen. 12:1-9; 17:1-27: 22:1-19 
-The call of Moses Ex. 3.
-The Ten Commandments Deut. 5:1-21
-Ruth 1:15-17 "Wither thou goest.."
-The anointing of David, I sam. 16:1-23
-Isaiah 2:1-4 )Micha 4)"Spears into pruning hooks, " Is. 11:1-9 Live in peace together, Is. 42:1-4 "will faithfully bring forth justice,' Is. 65:17 new earth and new heaven.
-Hosea 11:8-9 I will not punish you in anger
-Mark 1: 15; [and all through Mark, especially in passages where Mark shows a radical new ethic such as 10:43]
-Mark 16
-Acts 2:17f quotation of Joel 2:28. "I will pour our my Spirit on everyone." Acts 10:44f Holy Spirit given to Jews and to Gentiles
-Acts 3:6f; 13:1-5 The church reaches out into the world.
-Romans 3:21f. salvation through the free gift of God's grace
-I john 4:7-21 God is Love
-Rev. 21:5 "Behold, I make all things New"

2. See "A New Christianity for a New World, " John Shelby Spong. Harper.

3. The 2002-2003 Special. edition of  Mandate contains many examople of  people working inthe Spirit to expand the realm of grace. Published by the united Church of Canada. www.united-church.ca/mandate

The Blessing of Faith Rooted Community ecclesicakes B4ep4

After Epiphany 4, Presentation of Christ.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 God will send a prophet to succeed Moses
Psalm 111. In vs. 6 God gives Israel other people's land. This is not an appropriate passage in light of Aboriginal and Palestinian experience. The RSV glosses over this by translating this verse as "the heritage of nations." The Good News Bible is more straightforward: "giving them the lands of foreigners." I see several options for worship planners:
- Draw this to the congregation's attention, as an opportunity to teach how the ancient Hebrew's interpreted their history;
- And/or use the word "Heritage" to reinterpret the Psalm as a celebration of the gifts of many people's which enrich the church, our life. All this is particularly relevant for Canada in that we have benefited both from taking other people's land* (perhaps believing that this was God's doing), and and from having become a multi-cultural nation.
*One wag has noted that it was stolen "fair and square."
- Use another Psalm such as 84.

I Corinthians 8:1-13 Let us, as members of the faith community be good role models for one another.
Mark 1:21-28 Jesus heals in the local synagogue, his reputation spreads as one who teaches with authority.

Notes for sermon and/or study

Suggested theme for this Sunday: The blessings we receive as we are formed by and as we reform  our Communities of Faith - the corporate congregational, wider church, ecumenical and interfaith phenomena- as a source of blessing from God. John Shelby Spong reminds us of the obvious: "Prayer is not just an individual activity. It is also a corporate phenomenon." 1.

The Bible shows many examples of God relating to us as individual persons who are also always members of the community of faith.. This is significant because it affirms the value of each of us as persons within the community who have rights, dignity and gifts and a personal relationship with the Creator. (see examples)

The Bible illustrates this by the way it many times shows that faith is lodged in particular persons who is a reformative member of a community of the faithful:
-Abraham and Sarah - here the community is family.
-Joseph, who was abused by his brothers, yet found his clan membership to be meaningful to him when they came in need, and he refused the option to be vengeful.
-Moses and Miriam are strong personalities whose fulfillment is found within the people of God. 
-Ruth, who chose her mother-in-law's community. (The list could go on)

This is true for Jesus as well. We should not be surprised to find him in a synagogue. Donald Harmen Akenson, reminds us that Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. He was both formed by that community, and sought to reform it.

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A Thanksgiving for the gift of church  - a litany

One: We thank you, O God of community, for all your blessings;
All: Especially we thank you for creating communities of faith.

One: Long ago you called Abraham and Sarah to be the founders of
faith-filled community and to be a blessing to all nations,
All: We in this congregation are counted as children of Abraham and Sarah. 

One: When their descendents fell into bondage, 
All:You remembered them and called Miriam and Moses to lead them to freedom;
One: At Siani you called them to be a people of your choosing,
All: And gave them commandments to live by as a holy nation.

One: At the right time, you came among them as Jesus of Nazareth, through the body of Mary.
All: Jesus called men and women to follow him;
One: Through them the faith in one holy, graceful and righteous God
spread to all nations.
All: We are a branch of that holy tree, 
called to be the church, the Body of Christ.

One: For this we give you thanks, O God.
All: Enable us now to continue to grow and mature in faithfulness

So that we produce true fruit of your Holy Spirit:
As Jesus removed the demon from the possessed man,
Give us the courage and strength to stand and speak for peace
At this when the demon of war is offered as a solution for worlds ills.
 In Christ's Name we pray and decicate ourselves.


 It can argued that we are full persons only within a community of persons. There are many accounts of children raised in isolation from community who do not develop as full persons. Discovery Channel recently told of a child who managed to survive lost in a rain forest from age 4 to 8. At the time of his disappearance, this child was known to be quite normal, but when found, could not be trained to overcome those lost years. He could now live in human society as a mentally and socially a disabled person.

On the other hand, there are instances of children who do not reach full person-hood because of their communities. A case in point in Canada was illustrated by a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report on religious group in British Columbia.  In this "church" men take more than one wife, and rule over them absolutely. Girls as young as fifteen are taken as "wives" without them having a voice in the matter. The girls are so indoctrinated that they believe this rule to be necessary for their salvation.(ww.cbc.ca.)  4.

 1. A New Christianity for a New World, John Selby Spong. Harper

2. Saint Saul, Donald Harmen Akenson. McGill-Queens University Press

3. Naming the Powers, Walter Wi nk. Fortress Press 1984 

4.. The Fifth Estate, "Bishop of Bountiful," Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Wed. Jan. 15/03. www.cbc.ca. /fifth estate.

The Blessing of Joining God in the World ecclesicakes B4ep5
5th after Epiphany 03

Isaiah 40:21-31 Have you not heard? The Lord is the Creator.
Psalm 147:1-11 The Lord gathers the outcasts, heals the brokenhearted, give animals their food.
I Corinthians 9:16-23 Being all things to all people.
Mark 1:29-39 Jesus goes into the community, heals Peter's mother and many others.

This cluster of readings remind me that the main place to find God at work is outside the sanctuary of the houses of worship. Last Sunday, the main action portrayed by Mark was within a dedicated space and community. Today's passages pull me out of the church into the streets of our towns and into the valleys and hills of nature. They portray God as being at work Crating and caring for the natural world, and ministering to humans in homes and in the streets of our political and social structures.

This seems to be one of the most difficult truths for those of us in the church to grasp and affirm. This may be because so much of our energy is given over to erecting and caring for the church's buildings, organizations, and membership. In my experience, these things took by far the greatest amount of the time and energy of the active parishioners and their pastors. This is not a bad thing, but it is a truth about us. We are so busy inside that we rarely go outside.

Meanwhile God is busy in other places, the cosmos and the neighbourhood.

This is not to say that we do not care about what goes on outside. In our worship we pray about it, either give thanks for it, or rail against it, and we develop outreach programs to "reach out" past the stained glass.

However, Isaiah and Mark are portraying God at work in the world in a much more radical way than that. 

Isaiah reminds us that the natural world is God's own precious child which he tends, and that God patrols the streets of human society to strengthen the weak, and those hurt by injustice, and to bring down those who misuse power. This God who called Isaiah within in the Temple (ch.6)¸ is the God of all the earth and of human society.

Mark's gospel portrays the one identified in the very first verse as the Son of God, moving easily as a healing presence through a seamless world of synagogues, homes, hills, lakes, towns and Temple.

NOTE: This article is in archives. If you wish to read it,contact Bob and he will send it to you usually within 24 hrs. There is no charge for eeleiscakes articles.

            God who goes before us, a litany

One: O Holy Creator, who is at work in every corner of the world,

All: We see your work in the Earth and the Heavens,
the rock and soil, the stars and planets,
and in every living thing,
which you called into being long before you made us.
We marvel at how all things work together.

One: O Holy Care giver, who is at work in and through each cooperative act of love,
before we get there.

All: You are always there before us,
calling and leading us into ministries of solidarity.

One: On this day you continue with relentless patient action
 to lead us to live in peace with one another.

All: We hear your voice in the many who are calling us
to resolve our differences without resorting to arms,
and to enjoy the bounty of the Earth 
without poisoning the air or polluting the water.

One: By your Spirit you continue in Christ to enable us in your ministry.

All: For this we give you thanks, O God.


The Blessing of Being God's Compassionate Agent ecclesicakes B4ep6

Sixth after Epiphany

Revised Jan 31

2Kings 5:1-14 Naaman is healed in the Jordan through the ministry of Elisha.
Psalm 30 You have turned my mourning into dancing
I Cor. 9:24-27 Run to win the prize
Mk. 1:40-45 Jesus heals a leper out of compassion for the person before him.

Except for the Corinthians passage the lections for today all speak of God's healing and compassion exercised either through God's agents, Elisha, and Jesus or, as in the Psalm directly from God in response to prayer in worship.

Compassion is a major characteristic of God in the Hebrew prophetic and Psalm traditions. These traditions understand that the compassion of God grows out of God's love for creation, and overrides punishment. Compassion is God's response to the human condition and to the sinner's repentance. It is also what God requires of us (Micha 6:8)

See Hosea chapter 11, Romans 3:9-31. Isaiah, who warns his people against the fierce judgment of God (Ch. 2-3) always holds the assurance of renewal through God's initiative (Ch.6, and 11). In today's reading, Elisha says that the healing of Naaman is evidence that there is a prophet of the true God in Israel.

Jesus came, says Mark, offering the good news of the realm of God for all that repent and accept it (1:14-15). Mark clearly shows in this third healing story that compassion accompanies this nearness of the Realm of God.

NOTE: This article is in archives. contact Bob and he will send you a copy -usually within 24 hrs. note title & B4ep6

Compassionate God, Compassionate People, a litany 

One: O God who knows us completely,
All: And who loves us as completely as we are known,

One: O God who looks in pity upon all who suffer hurt and wrong, 
All: Teach us to be as compassionate are you are.

One: Lead us to be deeply moved by the inequities within humankind:
All: the lost opportunities for education and contribution; 
The children who die of disease and malnutrition,
The families who are unable to get help for their young and their aged.

One: May we use all the modern means of communication 
to direct our leaders to the compassionate 
priorities we have for our communities.
.All: Lead us to put first those things that make for a world of peace, 
a realm of equity, a planet of justice and a universe of  sisterhood. 
Encourage and stengthen those who advocate your Shalom
over all your Creation.

We dedicate ourselves to these things inChrist's name.

God Who Remembers Us and Forgets We Are Sinners ecclesicakes B4ep7

Epiphany 7

Isaiah 43:18-25 God will not remember the people's sin
Psalm 41 God's favour is on those who act with integrity toward the poor.
I Corinthians 18-22 God's word to us through Christ is, "Yes!"
Mark 12:1-12 Jesus announces forgiveness and healing. 

Notes and reflections on these passages

Is. - In his theological look at Alzheimer's disease, David Keck reminds us that our salvation is not dependent on our remembering us and forgetting our sin.1. Isaiah 43 says this exactly. God forgetting sin is to more a more complete dealing with it than forgiving is. One who forgives us does remember what we did or didn't do, but if God forgets our sin, as the person with Alzheimer's forgets, then our sin is truly taken away. This makes true the Sunday by Sunday liturgical proclamation of grace, which is followed by an invitation to begin anew. Is it too outlandish to hear God saying to us: "I remember you, but for the life of the world, I can't recall you ever doing anything hurtful to me." God says this to the Alzheimer's patient and also to us. All of us are dependent on God remembering and forgetting.

Psalm 41 - The above does not to do away with Paul's insight, which I will paraphrase: Let us not say, "Do evil because God has lost memory!" (see Roman 3:8). However, it does mean that in the new resurrected life that we are called to, God does not keep a record of our wrongs (Rom. 6:5), they are wiped away. We take up the new life, a hallmark of which is faithful integrity toward those who are weaker than we.

 Mark - I don't recall viewing a film version of this event, but I can see it in my imagination. The whole inside of the house including, Jesus and all those who are inside the house is strewn with fragments of roofing. The air is filled with dust as this man is let down through the roof. Jesus is laughing and clapping his hands as he brushes fragments of clay and straw from his clothing and beard. He is delighted at the audacity of the man's friends who have cut a hole in the roof of Jesus' house. Here are people who have grasped the Good News, and nothing will stop them from getting their companion near the source of grace. They break through all restraints to acquire a blessing for their friend!

In this symbolic story Mark portrays Jesus as responding by welcoming the man into the new life which is rooted in the free gift of God's grace, and which brings him the freedom to assume full humanity.

This man and his friends were 'sinners.' This did not mean that he was a greater transgressor that others, but rather that he was considered outside the circle of 'the righteous.' This was a designation somewhat like our society has used to define whole groups of people as not quite fully persons: Jews, Ukrainians, Chinks, Japs, Irish, Indian, Nigger, White Trash, disabled and now, Islamic.

In this symbolic story Mark portrays Jesus as responding by dismissing his 'sinner ' status and welcoming the man into a new life which is rooted in the gift of God's grace, and which brings him the freedom to assume full humanity. This is tantamount in our society to giving a large bank loan to a 'homeless.' It is little wonder that the righteous scribes were offended

It would be a mistake to see this story as having to do with physical disability. From my experience of working in partnership with persons with visible disabilities, I discovered that all of us, whatever our physical state, can be fully energized as we are offered and take hold of the freedom which is symbolized in this story by the words: "Stand up and take your mat and walk."

Rick Hansen showed this in his Man in Motion wheelchair tour of the world and in his continued work and life as colleague, leader, friend, husband and father. I am not intimately knowledgeable about Hansen's life, but I am sure that he experienced the possibility of a full life and he took it. At some point with the cooperation of friends, he broke through the obstacles that stood in his way. In fact, he has co-authored a book which sets out seven steps to personal change that apply to anyone.

 It is said of him: "There are some moments in time that ignite the passion and interest of the world.
In the spring of 1987, Rick Hansen created one of those moments when he completed the Man In Motion World Tour, wheeling 40,000 km around the world, to raise awareness of the potential of people with disabilities. He broke down barriers and changed people's perceptions about what is possible for anyone who dreams big dreams and has the determination to see them through."2.

Click here for another story of hope and grace overcoming limitations other than physical disabilities 3.

In this Marken passage we see Jesus affirming the faith of this man and his friends who broke though the roof, against all those who would say otherwise by labeling the man a sinner, and by keeping him on his mat.

Hopefully all of us here today have received this same gift, and this same opportunity to be full persons in church, home and society. These also are the gifts we we are to encourage in our world.

1. Forgetting Whose We Are, David Keck. Augsburg.  
2. Going the Distance, 7 Steps to Personal Change, Rick Hansen, Dr. Joan Laub. 
3. Growing Up to be a Voice of Hope

God of Grace and Hopeful Possibilities, a litany

One: God of Grace and Hopeful possibilities,
All: Remember us and forget.

One: As you have admitted us to the life of grace,
All: Forget all that would make us less than fully human,
Forget the false limitations that we and others put on us.
And remember the person you created; 
Rejoice in your work, 
As we rejoice in one another.

An Enlightened Mind Sees Christ ecclesicakes B4ep8

Transfiguration Sunday 8th after Epiphany

2 Kings 2:1-12 Elijah is taken up into Heaven.
Psalm 50: 1-6 The perfection of the beauty of God shines forth out of Zion. God calls the covenant people to gather in the Temple for judgement.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Some are blinded in their minds and cannot see the light of Christ
Mark 9:2-9 Peter, James and John see and hear Jesus transfigured into the Son of God.

Psalm 50 - While many Canadian religious may strongly sense the presence of the holy in church sanctuaries, there is long and wider Canadian tradition of seeing the beauty of God shining forth in nature. This is expressed in the opening verses of the popular song, "How Great Thou Art." There also are those who see nature differently; as opportunities for clear-cut logging and strip mining, for instance. I suppose the National Post (the right- wing Canadian newspaper) would say that they are just taking advantage of the bounty the Lord has provided.

Our governments try to accommodate both these minds by making sure that the clear-cutting and the scars of mining are kept just beyond the horizon from the perspective (and mind) of the tourist lookouts along the Trans Canada highway. 

Corinthians - It would seem that St. Paul was earlier in having the insight Barfield wrote of. Paul explained the different ways of seeing Jesus to be the result of the participation of different minds, the en-lightened mind and the veiled mind. A question often debated is: which is which mind?

NOTE: This article is in archives. Contact Bob and he will send you a  copy. quote title and B4ep8

Litany: God who Reveals
One: O God who reveals to us the truth, 
All Open our minds, so that we might know your truth.
One: Enable us to see the essence of  Jesus
as Jesus appears to us with our sanctuaries, and through the world.
All: Open to us the truth you wish to communicate to us in the life of Christ, and onour own life. 

Baptism ecclesicakes baptsermon
Any Sunday when baptism is observed, or Epiphany 1, Yr. C 

Mt.3:13-17;Mk. 1:9-12;Lk.3:21-22;Jn.1:32-34;Acts:2:38,8:38;Rom.6:4; Corinthians 12: 1-13

Today we have celebrated baptism. Let us now open ourselves to what baptism may mean for each of us, even though we were baptized long ago.

There are a number of things that all of us in this room have in common. ( Name some of them). There are a number of things we share with everyone in our town, our country, and our world.

Then, there is one thing we share with every Christian. That, is Baptism. 

The different churches in our town have different ideas about how baptism should be done, and when it should be done, but one thing we all have in common is this: baptism is the doorway into the Christian faith.

As far as I know baptism is the one sacrament that can be administered by a lay person. For instance, if an unbaptized baby is about to die in a hospital, a Christian nurse can take water, put it on the child and say: I baptize you in the name of God the Creator, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ." In an emergency any baptized person can administer baptism, and most churches will recognize that.

In every church baptism is the doorway into the community of Christ. In this morning's scripture lesson, St. Paul says that we are the Body of Christ. We become part of this boy through baptism.

I once had the very high privilege of administering baptism to a man and his 12-year-old son. I had taken the funeral of Anne, the wife and mother of this family. After the funeral Steve came to me and said, "My wife was baptized as a Christian, but I have not, neither has William.  Could we be baptized?"

Of course I said yes, and met with them several times to discuss the meaning of baptism. Then, on the last Sunday before Christmas, Steve and son, William stood side by side at the baptismal font and declared faith in God, and were baptized. It was very moving moment.  From that moment on, by the rite of baptism, Steve and William belonged to the Body of Christ.

Baptism marks a person forever; it is very difficult to undo it.  To undo baptism, you would have to come to the church, and declare before the congregation: "I renounce my baptism! I renounce Christ! I tear myself away from the community of faith!"

There is a story of a man who was disliked by every person in his village. He was a nasty unkind, hurtful person. Of course he never came to the village church, and always refused to donate to the church or any village charity. He was Dickens' character, Scrooge, but unlike Scrooge, he never repented. Everyone disliked him.

Then, one day, as happens with us all, he fell seriously ill. The local priest noticed that he had not seen this man for several days, and no smoke came from his chimney, so the priest went to the man's door. When there was no answer to his knock, the priest went in, and found the man sick in bed with high fever. 

So, the priest got him water, and sat beside him every day, and when the man died, he prayed for him and administered the last rites, and conducted a funeral for the man.

The members of the church council were upset. "Why, " they asked, "did the priest spend so much time with this man? Why did he give him the last rites, and a funeral and burial in the church yard?" The pries replied, "I did those things because that man had been baptized."

The priest saw the man as within the circle of God's grace. He said: "I know what kind of person he seemed to be, but I must leave judgement of him to his Creator. Perhaps I failed in not showing love to him until the end."

Baptism marks us forever as belonging to God the Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. We are baptized in the name of the Creator who made us "in God's image" (Genesis 1:27). We are baptized in the name of Christ who lived to welcome us into God's grace, and who will never desert us. We are also baptized in the Holy Spirit, who is our companion and Guide. The New English Bible quotes St. Paul as saying: "In the one Spirit we are brought into the one body by baptism." (1 Cor. 12:13)

This is the part that we are most likely to ignore. It is the Holy Spirit who makes our baptism into the living and dynamic power of God. Again, St. Paul declares: "in each of us the Spirit is seen to be at work." The Good News Bibles translates that same verse in this way: "The Spirit's presence is known in some way in each person for the good of all."

So, on this day we have celebrated our baptism, the doorway into the community of Christ; the rite by which we recognize that we all are children of one Creator; and the ritual that opens us to the power of God's Holy Spirit. May we see that love, that grace, that power in ourselves and in one another. Amen.

Using the Hebrew Testament Lessons as theological framework for public worship  A202
                           During Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, Year A.

The Hebrew Testament passages given by the lectionary for this year's Advent to Epiphany are ones that are often referred as being at the foundation of Christian theology and faithful living.

Liturgically, they provide an excellent context and continuity for worship through this season.  Personally, their poetic beauty and spiritual profundity resonate both with those who have been a part of the church all their lives and with newcomers to the Faith. Communally, they give us the foundation for wholesome community. Finally, they give us a solid stepping off place for the preaching of the Gospel, and all the other ways we communicate the Good News at this time of year.

So, my suggestion is simply this:
- Read the Hebrew Testament lesson with the people within the Approach section of your service 
(In unison or responsively, using pew bibles, or by printing the passages in the bulletin. At other times, you can recruit two or more readers to read these passages in parts.).
- Offer Prayers of Invocation/Approach/Confession building on the theme of this text.
- In preaching show how it and the Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel lesson relate to one another.
- Read it at the beginning of the service also on those Sundays when the sermon is replaced by Choir work, or by a Christmas pageant.
A further suggestion is that you look at the epistle reading for each Sunday to see if it could helpfully be read in the dismissal movement of your service.

Using this method, the order of Sunday worship for Advent 1, Year A, might be a follows:
Welcome, and opening prayers
Communal reading of Hebrew Testament 
Prayer of confession
Assurance of Grace
The Word:
- Psalm
- Gospel
Prayers of the People

Or, on the 1st Sunday after Christmas in Yr. A. 
Is. 63:7-9 will serve well in one of three places: the part of worship often referred to as the Approach, or as Assurance of Grace, or as we prepare to return to the everyday world.
Psalm 148, would be an excellent vehicle for entering into worship on the Sunday which follows the wonder and joy of Christmas Eve.                                                                                     r.a.k.

PLANNING FOR THE SEASON of EPIPHANY Epiphany. Yr.A. Ecclesicakes A207

   During this season the lectionary invites us to be in touch with our call to servanthood; to reflect on it and to renew it. Sunday by Sunday we can lift up and open our hearts and wills to a different aspect of this calling, and ask the Spirit to transform us.  Most significant to me is the constant focus on justice, and both personal and communal faith, action and action..                                                                                                                                                              

1st Sunday, Baptism of Jesus

We are called by the Spirit

Is. 42:1-9 This is my servant, on whom I put my spirit who will bring forth justice
Psalm 29- God on throne over the waters
Acts 10:34-43 - Holy Sp. Given to Gentiles
Mt. 3:13-17 - Bapt. of Jesus, "My beloved"
Theme: As envisioned by Isaiah, the Spirit calls people of every generation into justice- seeking servanthood
Let us remember the call of Isaiah, Jesus, and other notables, and celebrate our own experiences of God's Spirit moving us ("my beloved") individually and in community.

2nd Sunday

Calledto be Light

Is 49:1-7 The nation is reminded of its call to be a light to the nations.
Ps 40:1-11 I delight to do your will
1 Cor.1:1-9 The whole cong. is called to be saints
John 1:29-42 Jhn B. names Jesus the "Lamb of God."
Theme: We are called as community of faith to exercise our calling. Let's remember how we have been this, and take hold of the challenges and great adventures ahead for us in this time & place as a community of faith.

3rd Sunday

Called to Name the Darkness
Is. 9:1-4 People in darkness have seen great light; relieve bondage and bring justice.
Ps. 27:1-4, 9 The Holy is my light.
1 Cor. 1:10-18 People, be united in mission.
Mt. 4:12-23 Follow me & catch humankind.
 Theme: Matthew quotes Is. To describe Jesus. What is the darkness today in which we are called to be the light? Do not let our infighting and jealousies snuff out the light we are capable of. What great things churches can do when they work together!

 4th Sunday

Call to be Wise
Micah 6:1-8 in vs. 4, Miriam recognized as prophet. Creator requires: do justice,
Love kindness, walk humbly with God.
Ps 27:1-4, 9. Holding true to God, in midst of opposition.
1Cor.1: 18-32 Christ is the power of God and wisdom of God.
Mt 4:1-12 Beatitudes. 
Theme: being aware of the teachings of the prophets, take a selection of the beatitudes and invite worshippers to see how this. would apply as holy wisdom in our homes, and public life. Give examples from your own experience, reading and convictions.

5th Sunday 

True wisdom is to fulfill the Law & prophets.
Is. 58:1-12 True observance is to let oppressed go free
Ps112 delight in God's law: Act justly, feed poor.
1Cor 2:1-16 follow not world's but God's wisdom.
Mt 5:13-20 reading puts together being light, and observing Law & prophets teaching.
Theme: How does popular wisdom, social and economic values, government legislation reflect the values set out by prophets & Jesus? What would constitute "family values" according to Law, prophets, teachings of Christian and other Scripture?

6th Sunday

Decision time.
Duet. 30:11-20 to choose God is to choose life.
Ps 119:1-8 True happiness is to be blameless before the Creator.
1 Cor.3:1-9 Do our ways within the Church show us to be of this world or of the Spirit?
Mt. 5:21-37 Jesus sets a standard of conduct higher than even the Law does.
Theme: Starting with God's gracious acts toward us, how shall we choose to respond in order to intentionally create communities of faith that practice the highest levels of peace and reconciliation?
Where do we, in the church, follow the values of the world or values of Christ? 
Can the church elect to be one of the teaching places that contribute to a world of shalom? 

Last Sunday, Transfiguration.
The result of opening ourselves to God is Transformation
Exodus 24:12-18, [34:1-42; 28-30] Moses meets God on Mount Sinai.
Psalm 2 Political rulers are advised to acknowledge God's anointed as superior to themselves and their authority.
2Peter 1:16-21 Peter testifies that the transformation of Jesus was not a myth, but something he saw with his own eyes.
Matthew 17:1-9 Jesus is transfigured
Theme: Jesus' transformation is complete. The peasant wood worker who was once a disciple of John the Baptist, has been changed. The promise of his baptism is complete.
Can we see this as true of ourselves? According to the Methodist teaching of sanctification, it is expected that the indwelling Spirit of God will transform us, so that we are more than a "Material Girl" or boy. Might this happen to us over and over again, so that each year we move through the expectation of Advent, the wonder of Christmas, and the call to servant- hood of the Sundays after Epiphany, to find ourselves transformed individuals and communities on this eve of Lent, so that we go into the weeks ahead as spiritually more mature, and better able to travel into the deeper waters of faith through these weeks before Easter.