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Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our October 16 Services


We celebrated the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist at St. Paul’s on Sunday, with a special focus on healing. Embedded below are the videos we showed on our screens before our 10 a.m. Service to help prepare us for worship.


 [Embedded below are adapted portions of my sermon at both Services.]

I’d like to begin today’s sermon with a story about a Calgarian whose name has become synonymous with giving.

The rest of Crist’s family are helping choose to whom the funds are being given. In an interview, Crist’s daughter said: “My youngest son loves animals, so he wanted to donate to the zoo, and so we donate to the Calgary zoo. There’s a lot of grief support programs that I utilized after Mom passed away, so we give to that.”

Crist’s daughter said that the family is completely supportive of his decision to give away the money, and that they’re grateful for the chance to contribute to causes that matter to them. “We support the plan 100 per cent,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us.”

Today: we’re going to continue last week’s focus on Thanksgiving and add a focus on healing as we celebrate Feast of famous doctor in Holy Scripture: Dr. Luke. As we do, we’ll see, as Tom Crist and his family are discovering, that the amazing opportunity to share from thankful hearts enables us all to find healing together.

Luke has Jesus’ public ministry begin by his opening up and reading from Isaiah 61. The entire Isaiah scroll is handed to him, but Jesus picks the passage: “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour'” (4:18-19).


Luke 4 then continues in electric, dramatic fashion: “And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. [People sat down to teach.] The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  {Notice how time has slowed down to a stop.] Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'” (4:20-21).

This, Luke says, is what Jesus’ ministry is all about!

Luke Volume 2, which we call Acts, sets out a parallel between Jesus’ calling in Luke 4, and the calling of the Church, his Body, in Acts 2. Luke 4 says that Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to bring healing to a broken world. Acts 2 says that the members of the Church were anointed by the Holy Spirit, to continue Jesus’ ministry as his hands and feet in the world.

Acts 2 and 4 speak of how right away the members of the fledgling Church began to live out this calling, as they shared with one another, demonstrating the turning on its head of priorities expressed in Mary’s Magnificat, so that in Acts 17, Christians are, “dragged before the city authorities by people shouting, ‘These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also'”.

Ours is a world that desperately needs to be turned upside down! Today [October 16] over 150 countries throughout the world are observing World Food Day. Here’s a video clip about this year’s theme.

[There’s more information on World Food Day at the bottom of this posting.]

On World Food Day, we remember that, as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General has said: “The greatest injustice of our time” is that 795 million people in the world are hungry when “There is enough food to feed all.” We live in an upside down world where people starve while there’s enough food for all to share.

In 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Zero Hunger Challenge. The Zero Hunger vision reflects five elements from within the Sustainable Development Goals, which taken together, can end hunger, eliminate all forms of malnutrition, and build inclusive and sustainable food systems. The aim is to achieve zero hunger by 2030. Already, the number of hungry is down 167 million over the last decade, and it’s 216 million less than 1990-92.

It always strikes me to be so appropriate that World Food Day occurs always around a week after Thanksgiving, because today we’re remembering that we’re called to share the gifts God has shared with us, for which we’ve given thanks (including our creativity and ingenuity) – these gifts we’re called to share – with others; and that, if we do, there will cease to be the open wound of hunger in our planet. If, as the disciples did in Luke 9, we give our food to Jesus, so that it is his to bless and multiply, there will be more than enough for all of us to experience healing together – and help turn the world right-side up.

We are called, as members of Jesus’ Body, to be in the world – to be in the middle of life, with all its sufferings and its joys, rather than try to cloister ourselves and keep ourselves safe. To live out Luke 4 and Acts 2, will require us to push past our comfort zones and give ourselves in sacrificial love. Our Crucified Lord who told us to take up our own cross and follow him expects no less of us as we live as his Body.


The great Hymn of Harvest Thanksgiving has the words “Come, ye thankful people, come.” But just as with Luke, there should be a second volume to this hymn: “Come, ye thankful people come, to Jesus. And then, go, ye thankful people, go” – as he fills you with the Holy Spirit and sends to be agents of healing and wholeness in a broken world! 

Because, it’s not enough to thank God for our daily bread. It’s not enough to thank God for being our daily bread. We must thank God by sharing our daily bread with others, indeed, by becoming bread for the world, broken – as Our Lord was – to share. We must have a thankfulness that moves us to be poured out, like the Lord Jesus – like Tom Crist’s lottery winnings – holding nothing back.

As we do, we shall discover that this kind of brokenness is the path of true wholeness. When we become so transformed into Our Lord’s likeness that, like Tom Crist and his family, we’re filled with amazement at our opportunity to give away all that we are and all that we have, the love and life of Jesus will truly have made their home in our hearts. And this is the deepest healing of all.

May we all share God’s love from such thankful hearts, and know God’s healing together. Amen.



Just before our Offertory Hymn at both Services, we watched the following video, the second of 10 stewardship videos we’ll be showing in October, November, and January. [The first video is included in my October 12 posting.]



At announcements’ time, we invited everyone to a concert we’ll be hosting at St. Paul’s at 8 p.m. on November 4 by the husband and wife group “Infinitely More“. Here’s one of their songs.

Here’s a video of Allison Lynn’s sharing the powerful story of her discovery of her calling. [I especially love the conviction she shares at the end of the video: “We will know when we are living in God’s plan when it takes the best of us – the best of your talents, and skills, and things that are beautiful about you – and uses them in service of God and in service of God’s people.”]


Also in announcements’ time, we showed the following image on our screens giving the website for World Food Day.


Here is a longer version of the video that was shown as part of the sermon.


 The following videos were shown on our screens at the end of our 10 a.m. Service, as we were sent forth with a song in our hearts to share the healing love of Our Lord.

Reflections, Images, Music, and Videos from our Thanksgiving (October 9) Services


Embedded below are the 4 videos we watched to prepare for worship at our 10 a.m. Service on Thanksgiving Sunday, October 9.


Here’s the Gospel Reading at our October 9 Services.


In his sermon, Deacon Bob shared the following 2 illustrations inviting us to appreciate God’s blessings to us with thankful hearts.

Illustration 1:

housetrained-kids-can-live-in-your-home-photo-by-sue-weaverIn Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?”

The rabbi answered, “Take your goat into the room with you.”

The man was incredulous, but the rabbi insists. “Do as I say and come back in a week.”

A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before.  “We cannot stand it,” he tells the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.”

The rabbi then tells him, “Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week.” 

A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat — only the nine of us.”

Illustration 2:

martin_rinckartIn 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, a German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, and average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children:

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices;
who, from our mother’s arms
hath blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.


We sang “Now Thank We All Our God” at both Services. 


Just before our Offertory Hymn at both Services, we watched the following video, the first of 10 stewardship videos we’ll be showing in October, November, and January.


At the end of both Services, we prayed over the gifts of food people had placed before the Altar, which we planned to give to the Calgary Food Bank and the Dream Centre. We asked the Lord to use these gifts to bless those in our city who are hungry, and use us to speed the day when the need for food banks will be no more. 




As we went forth from the 10 a.m. Service, with hearts thankful for the gift of God’s love, received to share, the following songs were playing on our screens.

Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our October 2 Services


Embedded below are the 4 videos we showed on our screens to prepare for worship at our 10 a.m. Services on October 2.


[Embedded below are adapted portions of my sermon at both Services.]

I’d like to begin this sermon with a video about trust:

I’m moved by the skunk’s trust – coming to the man and not spraying him (and the man’s, also – there’s vulnerability on both sides)! Speaking of trust and animals, trust is epitomized for me by the picture at the top of this posting, on our screens, and on our Order of Service cover, of a kitten sleeping in a person’s hand.  

I’d like to look together at trust in our relationship with God.

Let’s start with today’s Gospel.

In verses 1-4 of this passage, Jesus tells his disciples to live out the Commandment to love by caring for the poor and needy and forgiving their brothers and sisters.

increaseourfaithThe disciples’ respond to the Lord by saying in verse 5: “Increase our faith!” At first glance, this seems to be expressing humility. But when you think about it, what they’re really saying is: “This is too hard for us. Increase our faith. Make it easier. If you don’t, then we won’t do this (care for the poor and forgive in this instance – though the same reasoning could be used about anything challenging in lived-out discipleship). We’re not spiritually advanced enough; we’re just humble ‘beginners’ in the school of discipleship.”

The Lord wasn’t impressed by this. In verse 6, he replies: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed [proverbial for tininess], you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

faith_of_a_mustard_seed__luke_17_6__by_tylerneyens-d895rki.pngIn other words, Jesus says to them: “It’s got nothing to do with lack of faith. It’s not too hard for you. It’s not a lack of ability on your part, it’s lack of willingness. This tree is immovable to the degree that you’re unwilling to move it. You don’t want me to set you free in this. You can do this; you just don’t want to!”

I’m reminded of G. K. Chesterton‘s words: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

I also remember these words by Joel Barker: “A leader is someone you choose to follow to a place you would not go by yourself.”

To follow when we we’re not sure we really want to, is a call to trust.

This truth is set before us in today’s Epistle.

Writing from prison, the Apostle Paul calls his “beloved child” Timothy to follow courageously as a disciple past his comfort and ability.

“Join with me in suffering for the Gospel,” Paul writes in verse 8, “relying on the power of God.”  

soaring-eagle-ray-downingIn other words, Paul is saying: “Don’t try to stand on tip toe to keep your nose above water. Plunge in! Rely not on your own strength, but on God’s. [To change the analogy:] Don’t merely run through life; spread your wings, and let the Breath of God make you soar!”

He adds: “Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.” God is with us and within us. We have God’s life, power, and Breath inside!

The Apostle speaks these same words to us. All of us, too, are called to be agents of Good News. 

51nhsd0j1qlI read this past week of two women from Waco, Texas who followed in Paul’s footsteps (which followed those of Our Lord himself). In their book Prisoners of Hope: The Story of Our Captivity and Freedom in Afghanistan, Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer tell of the great burden on their heart they felt to go to Afghanistan to serve the poor and oppressed – especially women and children. They write: “If Jesus lived among the poor and dying, the widowed and orphaned, then we, too, wanted to live among such people. We knew we did not have to go to Afghanistan to serve the poor — Waco, Texas, is home to plenty of people without adequate means to live. We wanted to go to Afghanistan because we knew few others were willing to do so.” They both went there and began to serve the poor. They were arrested and put in prison by the Taliban in August 2001, and freed when the regime changed. They then chose to go back, to live the rest of their lives serving there among the people they had come to love.

In a 2009 interview, Heather Mercer said these words about her experience, and faith and trust in following:

Her testimony is so similar to Paul’s in verses 11-12: “For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.”

cc90e948264f8ee93f2e3f560560ad9cHeather has come to know the One in whom she has put her trust. She’s come to  the conviction in the core of her being that we belong to God, and God to us, in a relationship of love that begins now and has no end. Our lives are not our own, but God’s. Our one desire is for all that we are and all that we have to give God glory. (In our October stewardship focus at St. Paul’s, we’ll especially remember this.)

And so Heather has decided to follow Jesus – no turning back. She’s taken to heart Paul’s encouragement to keep on keeping on, to keep growing, keep journeying – showing and living the life of discipleship that gives itself in love to the world, regardless of opposition, of how hard it is, not ashamed, not afraid. She’s chosen to live a faithful, not a faithless, life.

There’s much we don’t understand, and don’t like (we’re all “stretched” by what we go through in life), but may we, too, trust in God and walk with Jesus where he himself is walking. (If we want to continue being close to him, we have to follow him there.) May we grow more and more into his likeness, and have more and more of his likeness formed in us. May we grow in knowledge of him as we follow and say “Yes” to him. May we so live out our faith that we trust him enough to really live as his disciples; trust him enough to rest, like a kitten, in his hand; trust him enough, to come to him, even in our confusion and fear, to allow him to touch us and set us free.

May it be so for us all. Amen.


As we left our 10 a.m. Service, the following 3 videos were played on our screens, to send us forth into the world, trusting our God, with lips singing songs of praise and hearts aglow with Our Lord’s love.


Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our September 25 Morning Services


Embedded immediately below is the video we showed to lead us in our second hymn at the 8:30 a.m. Service last Sunday. This hymn, and the other two hymns we sang, are all favourites of our dear brother Sydney Chilton, who’s recently moved to the Chinook Hospice. As we sang them, Sydney, Mary, and the family were all especially in our thoughts and prayers.


Immediately below are the 4 videos we watched before our 10 a.m. Service to help prepare us for worship. They reflected our celebration Sunday morning of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.


We began our 10 a.m. Service with the following video that helped us be aware of our living God’s Presence with us. 


[Embedded below is an adapted version of the last part of my Homily at both Services.]

All of us live such busy, crazy lives! And when we look around us at the world, we see such darkness: global terrorism, violence in so many places. And we know that we have this infection of evil in our own hearts, too. The darkness can seem so strong.

It’s a struggle to keep sight of God in the midst of a world like this.

83c224aff2ffd32e9d161634f7b59b2fIn the midst of this struggle, one way the Church has helped us through the centuries to do this is the observance of today’s Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

It’s encouraged us to open our eyes to the unseen, to encounter the wonder from that which is more and beyond.

In Holy Scripture the Archangel Michael leads God’s army of angels fighting for us … I’m reminded of how Matthew 28:4 says that even one angel made the Roman guards, who had seemed to have so much power at Our Lord’s crucifixion, “like dead men” out of fear, and then how Jesus said he in Matthew 26:53 that he could ask the Father who would send more than 72,000 angels (the rough number of “more than twelve legions”)!

Holy Scripture gives us but a glimpse at supernatural world so beyond our little thoughts, for we’re not told the angels’ story, but ours. But there should be no question in our minds about where true power lies!

saint-michel-archange-de-kiev-croppedIn fact, the Church deliberately picked a date for this Feast when the increasing darkness outside in nature was evident to Proclaim this truth, that in the battle between light and darkness, good and evil, death and life, love and hate, darkness, evil, death, and hate may seem so strong, but light, good, life, and love are stronger.

The word “angel” also has a wider application. “Angel” means messenger . So we could call this Feast the Feast of St. Michael and all messengers – including all of us! God is with us and within us, and wants to include us as participants in the battle, as those who spread God’s light.

This next video shows an example of some people who are doing this in one of the darkest places on earth.

The number of White Helmets working in Syria has now reached almost 3,000. It’s estimated that they’ve saved 60,000 lives! One headline about the White Helmets reads: “Syria’s ‘White Helmets’: Angels on the Front Line.” “Surely God is in this place!” as the picture on the top of this posting says – for we see God present, working through these people!

The news on August 12 of this year reminded us of the depth and strength of the darkness the White Helmets are combating. 

In 2014, Khaled said of his work: “For me, this is the real jihad. If I die saving lives, I think God would definitely consider me a martyr.”

The darkness is deep. But I disagree with the CNN Reporter’s words that Khaled, “leaves behind … a legacy that is a glimmer of light against the darkness of war.” I think that it’s not a glimmer – it’s a blaze of light that shines forth.

jn-1-5aFor he followed the path of the One who took all that death and darkness can give forth upon the Cross, to give us life and light that will last for ever.

Not just in sunsets and flowers, this One is with us, but in the darkest places of existence, walking beside us on nail-pierced feet.

Yes, the darkness is deep. But the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never, ever be able to put it out. Life is victorious over death. Love is stronger than hate.

And not just as spectators of this battle are we living. We at St. Paul’s are in no less a war zone than the White Helmets. We’re to pray and work for peace with all our might. We’re to do what we can to alleviate suffering, including sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. Also, we’re to give ourselves to fighting our own battle with evil inside of us. And all the people we meet are engaged in their own struggle with evil within, and the darkness of fear, pain, and death. All of us at St. Paul’s are called to be angels – messengers – of light, shining forth as beacons of hope and healing.

stainedglass7St. Paul’s is to be a Sanctuary – a place where people can come and experience heaven come down to earth, heaven and earth touching through Jesus; can experience the supernatural; can know love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation –  giving strength and courage from the life of Jesus within.

St. Paul’s is to be a Parish where we connect with our God, so that “Surely the Lord is in this place!” is our song of joy at the fellowship with God we know in the depths of our hearts. St. Paul’s is to be a Parish where we connect with one another, and develop friendships, so that we don’t try to live out the call to be God’s messengers alone.

Our Sunday Services are to be times for us to encounter the living God, to “plug in, and be recharged” – filled and refilled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. And then, when filled, to be sent out as disciples who so embody the message of Good News that “Surely the Lord is in this place!” is the thankful cry from all we encounter, wherever we go, in this broken and hurting world God so loves. 

May this high calling be fulfilled in us all. Amen.



[The 2 images immediately above are from our End of Summer BBQ on September 10, in which we embodied the Good News by connecting with our community for an evening of free fun, food, and fellowship!]



I discuss the Genesis 28 and John 1 passages from Holy Scripture we read on Sunday in my October 10, 2012 posting entitled “A Reflection on Jesus and Jacob’s Ladder.”


As we left the Sanctuary at the end of our 10 a.m. Service, the following song was playing on our screens – encouraging us to go forth to be visible signs of the Presence of the unseen God who is with us in each and every place, now and for ever.


Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our September 18 Services


The 5 videos embedded immediately below were shown on our screens before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare us for worship.


Here’s the Gospel Reading at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services on September 18:

In the following audio clip, the late, great preacher Dr. Fred Craddock addresses the message of verse 10 of this passage: “‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.'”


At the end of the Announcements’ time at our 10 a.m. Service, we watched the following video on our screens:

back-to-church-sundayAfter the video, we reflected on how we don’t need to get all nervous about inviting someone to come to church with us. All we’re doing is saying, “I’ve found coming to church to be a blessing. Would you like to come with me, to see if it’s a blessing for you, too?” We invited everyone to invite coworkers, neighbours, friends, and family members to come with them to church on September 25, as part of Back to Church Sunday.

Embedded below is a video that reminds us that when we move past our comfort zone and invite someone to church, God’s love is being shared through us. 


We played the song on our screens embedded below as we went forth from our 10 a.m. Service to be faithful stewards of the love God has lavished upon us, by sharing that love with everyone.

Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our September 11 Services


We observed Holy Cross Sunday at St. Paul’s on September 11. The 4 videos embedded immediately below were shown on our screens before our 10 a.m. Service to prepare us for worship.


lemonade-640-dmEmbedded immediately below is the amazing video we watched as part of the Children’s Talk. Our Children’s Talk giver, Allison Pierce, used props of lemons, lemon juice, sugar, and lemonade, to build on the message of the video and encourage our children to have an attitude towards life that takes lemons and makes lemonade – an inner strength that Jesus will give to us when we seek him for it. (Allison encouraged us to think of Jesus as the sugar that transforms the bitterness of lemon juice into lemonade.) 


Embedded immediately below is the Gospel passage read at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services.


At our 10 a.m. Service, we had the great joy of Baptizing Amanda Sergon, pictured below wearing the white shawl she was given by our Prayer Shawl ministry, symbolizing her new life in Our Lord. Thanks to Jacquie Stoop (who’s soon to be Amanda’s mother-in-law) for these excellent photos! 




530157Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon this your servant the forgiveness of  sin, and have raised her to the new life of grace. Sustain her, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give her an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen. (BAS, p. 160)

Amanda: We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood. (BAS, p. 161)

We watched the following video about Baptism (minus the volume) before our 10 a.m. Service.

After our 10 a.m. Service, we shared the awesome Baptismal cake pictured below (plus great cakes from Amanda and Louis Helmy). Thank you, Robbie Coller, for baking it; and thank you, Allison Pierce, for taking the photo (before we devoured it)!



At the end of our 10 a.m. Service, we watched the following video.

back-to-church-sundayAfter the video, we reflected on how we’re called to be not only a welcoming church, but also an inviting church – to move past our comfort zones and rely on Our Lord Jesus to be the sugar in our lives to turn the lemons of fear of rejection and embarrassment to the lemonade of sharing Our Lord’s loving invitation with coworkers, neighbours, friends, and family to “come and see” his Presence with us at our Services on September 25, as part of Back to Church Sunday.


We left the Sanctuary after our 10 a.m. Service with the following video playing – a reprise of our second pre-Service video, united with Amanda in our resolve to “Go forth in the Name of Christ.”

Reflections, Images, and Videos from Our September 4 Services


The 3 videos embedded immediately below were shown on our screens before our 10 a.m. Service on September 4 to prepare us for worship.


Embedded below is the Gospel passage we read at our 8:30 and 10 a.m. Services.


[Embedded below is an adapted portion of the sermon preached on Sunday. The painting of the Apostle Paul is part of Rembrandt’s “St. Paul in Prison”.]


With the challenging words of the above Gospel passage, Jesus says: “I’m calling you to the death of self-centred life. Carry the cross and follow me.”

Jesus invites us to follow where he leads – to go where love goes, paying whatever the price like he does; to have the things that break his heart break ours also.

He tells us: “This is what discipleship is.”

Someone was talking to a great scholar about a younger person. They said, “So and so tells me that they were one of your students.” To which the teacher answered devastatingly: “They may have attended my lectures, but they were NOT one of my students.”

Jesus says,“This is what it means to be one of my students. So count the cost.”


If we do this – if we follow Our Lord as his disciples – the result is transformation.

First of all, transformation inside us.

A professor teaching a course on Christianity was approached by one of their students after class. The student said to the professor, “I just thought I should let you know that I have no problem affirming intellectually the claims of Christianity, but I will never become a Christian – because my experience is that Christians are weird people.” The professor (not taking this personally!) replied, “I’m so sorry that that’s the impression you’ve been given, because if you could look ahead 10 years to see the person Jesus wants to make you become, you’d say, ‘YES! That’s the kind of person I want to be!'”


All morning, an instructor had been explaining leadership to a class of police recruits. Calling a recruit to the front of the class, the instructor handed them a piece of paper on which was written: “You are in charge. Get everyone out of the room without causing a panic.” The recruit was at a loss for words and returned to their seat. The second recruit summoned tried: “Everybody outside. Go!” No one moved. A third recruit glanced at the instructions, smiled and said, “All right, everyone. Break for lunch.” The room emptied in seconds. 

Jesus is calling us to a banquet, to abundant life – to feed on HIM! The call to discipleship is a call to be transformed – made into Jesus’ likeness, to KNOW and LOVE him! When we realize this, when we see the person God is desiring to mould us to be, our heart cries out “YES!”


Following Jesus as his disciple, results in transformation inside us. It also results in transformation around us, through us.

We see wonderful example of this lived out in today’s Epistle.

Paul is writing this epistle to a man named Philemon, who had a slave named Onesimus (meaning “Useful”). Onesimus had run away, and run into Paul in prison. There he was converted. Now Paul is writing to Philemon to live out the Good News: “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.”

In this short letter, Paul pulls out absolutely everything at his disposal to get Philemon to do the right thing – every argument he can muster … I invite you to sit down some time and take note of all the things Paul does. Add verse 22, not included in the Lectionary: “One thing more–prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you.” (In other words: “I’m going to come and see if you’ve done what I’m urging you to do”!)


All this Paul does not so that he may get his own way, but for the sake of Onesimus, for Philemon, so God’s love may be spread in the world, God’s kingdom may break in to the earth.

“I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.”

I pray that we all realize the difference we can make, the transformation that can occur through one person! In this case, it was the undermining of all slavery (although it took Christians until Nineteenth Century to take to heart the implications of Paul’s words and Philemon’s actions).


 We’ve been made to make a difference! We experience meaning, purpose as Jesus’ servants, his hands and feet. We live life as we’ve been created to live when we give our all, all our strength, to make a difference in the world!

 We live in a world that desperately needs this – that desperately needs transformation.

And so, as Frederick Buechner has said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to spread light and life and love.

On the top of this posting is a picture of the monument remembering one young man who did this so powerfully in our generation – Terry Fox.

Here are two brief videos that show what Terry did to make a difference.

The monument for Terry Fox stands in Thunder Bay, where the recurrence of cancer forced Terry to discontinue his marathon of hope.  

Not widely known is that Terry was a Christian. Fred, his older brother, said:

Faith played a huge part in Terry’s life after being diagnosed with cancer and gave him strength before he passed away. Terry was a Christian and accepted that he was put on this earth for a higher purpose.

A few months before his death, Terry wrote about his perspective on this purpose as he reflected on the race of his life:

I don’t care what percentages the doctor tells me I have. If God is true I know I’ve got 100 per cent, if that’s what God has in God’s plans for me. And if I really believe and if God is really there, then I’m not going to lose even if I die, because it’s supposed to be the Pearly Gates I’m going through, and if heaven is there, I can’t lose out.

Maybe now instead of being afraid and saying, “Well, look how hard Terry tried and he’s still got it,” people will say, “Look at the effort he put in and he died of cancer. We’re really going to have to try hard in order to beat it, try harder than we ever have before.”


To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $650 million worldwide. Terry’s example has inspired millions. In a 1999 survey, he was identified as Canada’s greatest hero. In CBC’s 2004 countrywide vote for the greatest Canadian, Terry finished second only to Tommy Douglas.

Truly his example shows the difference fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives makes for us and for others! 

This year, the Terry Fox Run takes place on September 18. You can find out about it by going to


I’d like to conclude with the words of Will Willimon:

And so I ask you, do you believe today’s gospel lesson from Luke, these tough words of Jesus, are good news or bad news? I began this sermon, thinking that they were bad news. These are tough words. But perhaps, in your life and mine, these tough words are good news. Jesus comes asking us to pay the cost. In our better moments, we are just dying to pay the cost, just dying.

May we all decide to count the cost and pay the price, so that we may know and show how being moulded and fashioned by God transforms our lives and our world. Amen.


September 25 is “Back to Church Sunday” for us at St. Paul’s. We ended the 10 a.m. Service with the following video reminding us of the difference inviting people to church can make.