The four videos immediately below were shown on our screens before our August 21 Service to help prepare us for worship.
The sermon time began with the following two videos, which are about what was for me the most inspiring action I saw among all the wonderful performances in the Rio Olympics of athletes like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Canada’s own Andre De Grasse and Penny Oleksiak – carried out by two athletes in the 5,000 meters who didn’t get a medal.
In my sermon, I then continued:
Finishing the race together … Bearing witness to something deeper … connection … relationship … sacrifice … all speak to the ultimate victory’s being love.
Today, our Gospel passage (Luke 13:10-17) speaks about this as well – setting forth the freedom that comes when love reigns supreme, the joy that exists when God’s touch sets free from bondage, both internal and external!
The leader of the synagogue was intensely displeased because Jesus had cured on the sabbath. He kept saying to the crowd, “Work needs to be done on the six non-Sabbath days; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”
Jesus responds with passion: “You talk about what’s necessary. Let me tell you what’s necessary. It’s necessary that this daughter of Abraham not have to wait one second longer to be set free!”
This past week I learned about a young person from Syria who shares Our Lord’s passion – Mazoon Rakan Almellehan (pictured in the image on the top of this posting). Here’s a video about her.
Mazoon is passionate in her conviction that it’s necessary for a daughter of Abraham to be free – that no daughter of Abraham be held in bondage for one second longer, but rather know freedom outside and inside.
We need this passion – to, like Our Lord, be unable to be willing contentedly to let people continue in bondage one second longer; to celebrate whatever sets free: to see it as victory for all of us – a victory of love, the deepest victory of all!
May all of us know this victory in our lives, and finish the race together! Amen.
The following song played on our screens, as we left the Sanctuary with thankful hearts, to go and serve freely in Jesus’ Name.
We had a Western theme at our 9:30 a.m. Service on July 10, in honour of the Calgary Stampede. Embedded immediately below are the Western worship songs we played before the Service, to prepare us for worship.
[The following section contains adapted excerpts from the July 10 sermon time.]
[Text: Luke 10:25-37 (commonly called the Parable of the Good Samaritan):
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.”28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”]
With today’s Western theme, I thought it would be good to start today’s sermon with a story about a cowboy.
I found this video by doing a search for a “cowboy Good Samaritan.” We call a “Good Samaritan” someone who goes out of their way to help a stranger. The origin of this term is Jesus’ Parable quoted above.
Most people have a creed that calls for caring for others. Here, for example, is Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code.
Notice number 6:
But when it comes to living this creed out, it can be a different matter.
Here’s a video of an experiment in Paris to see how people would respond to a homeless man in distress.
This next video shows an experiment in which a woman is seemingly being assaulted.
Both experiments yielded similar results of inaction.
In a famous Study, described in the video immediately below, a similar scenario was played out in Princeton with students training for ordained ministry.
Martin Luther King reflected on the root cause for this inaction, beginning by commenting on the two spiritual leaders in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
“What will happen to me?” It’s a self-centred question of fear. The Seminarians who didn’t help the person in distress were afraid that they’d get in trouble for being late. The people who didn’t help the woman being assaulted were afraid that they themselves would get beaten up. The people in Paris who didn’t help the homeless person were afraid of getting in over their head, of catching a disease.
While it’s still under investigation, it appears that we saw a tragic example this past week in Minnesota of what happens when we let fear cause our actions.
This and the other shootings and all the turmoil in the US this past week are a reminder of how the racial tensions Martin Luther King faced still continue.
We struggle with the fear of being overwhelmed; the fear of using up all of our time and energy – indeed our very life.
We struggle with the fear of death.
How can we overcome and have our actions be moved by compassion rather than fear? The only way I can is by having within me the life of the One in us who when he said the words of the Parable of the Good Samaritan was on his way to Jerusalem, to draw near to us out of compassion and lay down his life for us, who were helpless on the side of the road of life; receiving him into my heart, so that, as our Patron wrote in Galatians 2:20, “it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Only as we know and receive his love, will we have the courage to give of ourselves, as he gives himself to us.
The words we listened to by Martin Luther King in the above video were part of the last speech he ever gave. The very next day he was shot to death. Jesus gave him the courage to follow to the end. Here are his final words:
“What will happen to me?” The Cross, death – but also resurrection!
As we walk the way of death, the Cross, the way of love, we find it is the way of eternal life, of fellowship with God and all God’s people as our neighbours.
Just like the rich young ruler, who asked a similar question, Jesus invites the expert in the Law and each of us to follow him, who walks with us on nail-pierced feet; to go through life together with him, so that we may indeed give ourselves fully to God, loving God with everything within us, and allow God’s love fully to dwell in us, being poured out and shared through us with everyone.
To accept this invitation is life indeed – for us and for all we encounter on the way!
May we all do this. Amen.
Embedded immediately below are 3 videos that were shown before our 9:30 a.m. Service on July 3, to prepare us for worship.
[The following section contains adapted excerpts from the July 3 sermon time.]
On this Canada Day weekend, I thought it would be good to begin the sermon with a video reminding us about how wonderful this country is in which we’re blessed to dwell.
The physical beauty of this country is stunning. But I think even more beautiful are the people, when we’re at our best. There’s an example of this in the following video of Canadian children offering their welcome to refugee children from Syria, such as the one on our screens and Order of Service cover [and the top of this blog posting].
This is Canada at its most beautiful!
Today’s Gospel, chosen in the Lectionary for Canada Day, reminds us that as Christians we can contribute greatly to making our nation and indeed our whole world a more beautiful place.
Jesus said in John 15:16: “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
Acting “in the name of Jesus” means relying on Jesus’ credentials, authority, not ours. But also: acting as Jesus’ representative, agent. We’re called to embody the love of God, so to live our lives that our Lord Jesus is acting through us as his hands and feet.
As Jesus’ agents, we bear the fruit that comes from having his own life within us, fruit that will last – for as 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails;” it is eternal.
All of us can do it.
Young, old, whatever our circumstances, each of us as a disciple is filled with the risen life of Our Lord, and thus has the incredible privilege – the joy – of bearing fruit that feeds a hungry world, fruit that will last, making a difference in lives for ever.
O Canada, our land, our pride, our love,
High be thine aim, all selfish aims above:
Thy maple leaves, blood-red, recall
Christ’s cross of costly pain:
Thy golden sheaves, made bread for all,
His life, whose death was gain:
Thine be this mind! God’s prize to find,
Following Christ to serve all humankind,
Following Christ to serve all humankind.
May we all fulfill our call as disciples to add by our lives to the beauty of our beloved country of Canada, and all our beloved world, for now and for all eternity. Amen.
Following the Service, we showed the following videos, celebrating Canada with comedy.
Our God of infinite love, we humbly ask you today to look upon us with mercy and grace. From your Word in the Seventy-second Psalm, our founders took this motto:
“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”
We thank you, O God, that our founders recognized that you are over us as a people. We thank you that, aware of our need of your assistance, in the years following Confederation, we have asked you to govern in the affairs of our country, including in our National Anthem these words:
God keep our land.
As we remember before you Elizabeth our Queen, our Governor General David Johnston, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Rachel Notley, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and Archbishop Greg Kerr-Wilson, we pray, as Paul directed in his first letter to Timothy, for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all goodness and reverence.”
God keep our leaders.
We acknowledge, O God, that the family reflects your Triune Nature as love-in-community. We pray for all families and homes in our land. Intervene in strained relationships, turn the hearts of parents to their children and children to their parents and save all family members from abuse of any kind, that our homes might be places of safe refuge and life-giving love.
God keep our homes.
O Lord, make us sensitive to the needs of others. We pray especially for those who lost homes, property, or their livelihoods as a result of the fire in Fort McMurray. We pray for guidance and strength to continue together the mission of rebuilding and restoring people’s lives.
God keep our neighbours.
Our Great Physician, we ask you to send your healing power to restore all who are broken. We pray for all who are grieving the loss of loved ones, particularly the people of Orlando and Istanbul. We pray for all who have been forced to flee their homes, due to violence, flood, or famine – especially remembering the family from Syria it is our great privilege to sponsor. We lift to you those of our parish who are ill in body, mind or spirit, offering our prayers at this time, silently or aloud, for all whom you have particularly laid upon our hearts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Touch us all, we pray.
God keep our healing.
In these challenging times, it is easy to become paralyzed with fear. Recall to our mind, O God, your saving help, shown throughout history. Give wisdom, courage and patience to all. Strengthen us in our faith.
God keep our hope.
O Lord, we pray for the First Nations’ peoples in our land. May the deep wounds of the past and present be healed, so that we may embrace together a future in which all who share this great land are able to realize their full human potential.
God keep our justice.
We pray for peace among the peoples of Canada, and all the peoples of this planet. We pray that you would touch the hearts of all who are agents of war and terror and turn them to paths of peace and reconciliation. We especially remember all members of law enforcement and our armed forces, who put themselves in harm’s way at home and abroad. Give each of us mercy and compassion in our hearts, that we may love our neighbours as ourselves.
God keep our world.
O God, pour out your Spirit on us all, that we may turn from our own paths and walk in your ways more faithfully than ever before.
God keep our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength, in fullness of love for you, now and for ever. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
[We’ll be sharing the above Litany and the singing of “O Canada” at our 9:30 a.m. Canada Day Service on July 3 at St. Paul’s.]
The 3 videos embedded immediately below were played on our screens before our 10 a.m. Service on June 26 to help prepare us for worship.
Embedded immediately below is the Affirmation of Faith we shared at our 10 a.m. Service.
Embedded immediately below is the Welcoming of New Members’ liturgy we shared together at the end of our 10 a.m. Service.
We were greatly blessed to welcome 18 of our 61 new members in-person! Thank you to Muyi Ekomwenrenren for the great photo!
After our 10 a.m. Service, we had an AWESOME Picnic, as the photos below show.
It was great to have Ian Robinson manning his usual post as Picnic Chef!
The Picnic also afforded us the opportunity to say “Thank you” to Linda Penton for another year of tremendous service as our Children’s and Youth Ministry Coordinator.
The Prayers of the People at our 8:30 Service, and several parts of our 10 a.m. Service , including the Affirmation of Faith pictured earlier in this posting, were chosen to mark the June 20 World Refugee Day. Embedded immediately below is a video made for this day featuring a message by Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Today marks the 20th annual National Aboriginal Day. Since 1996, this day has been observed as National Aboriginal Day throughout our country; and, since 1971, it’s been observed as the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer in the Anglican Church of Canada. I invite us to unite today with our First Nations’ brothers and sisters in offering the following prayers to our God of grace:
Creator God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. You have rooted and grounded us in your covenant love, and empowered us by your Spirit to speak the truth in love, and to walk in your way towards justice and wholeness. Mercifully grant that your people, journeying together in partnership, may be strengthened and guided to help one another to grow into the full stature of Christ, who is our light and our life. Amen.
(Covenant Collect, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples)
Creator, we give you thanks for all you are and all you bring to us for our visit within your creation. In Jesus, you place the Gospel in the Centre of this Sacred Circle through which all of creation is related. Give us your strength to live together with respect and commitment as we grow in your spirit, for you are God, now and forever. Amen.
(Gathering Prayer, A Disciple’s Prayer Book, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples)
The above logo for the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples was designed by the Rev’d Mervin Wolfleg from our Diocese. You can read his explanation of its symbolism by clicking here.
Embedded immediately below are 2 videos about National Aboriginal Day.
More information on National Aboriginal Day is available in a document entitled “0010. National Aboriginal Day of Prayer Insert (2009).” You can access it by going to Google Documents; clicking on https://docs.google.com/#all; typing in as your email address stpaulscalgary; and then typing in as your password God’s Grace.
Embedded immediately below are 4 videos of the Anglican Church of Canada’s National Indigenous Bishop, the Rt. Rev’d Mark MacDonald.
Embedded below is a video of 46 indigenous representatives presenting a short version of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
[Embedded below is the Father’s Day Litany we prayed at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services on Father’s Day, June 19.]
Our loving God, we offer to you today prayers of petition and thanksgiving for all fathers and fathers in the Faith.
Pour out your blessings, we pray, upon those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become a good father; and heal the wounds we have inflicted or received from imperfect fathering. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those fathers who offer their grown children their love and support; and those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children’s lives. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those fathers whose love and support has offered healing to their adopted children; and those stepfathers who freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earn their step children’s love and respect. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own; and all the men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those men who are about to become fathers; and enable them to delight openly in their children. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Pour out your blessings upon those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
And pour out your blessings upon those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Our God of grace, we thank you that we experience through the deepest and best love of fathers a tiny but genuine glimpse of the place you have in your heart for all your children.
Through your Son, our Brother, we offer all these prayers.
[Source: Kirk Loadman (http://www.fathersdaycelebration.com/fathers-day-prayer.html#president-bushs-fathers-day-proclamation), adapted]