Sermons from 2016

December 25, 2016Finding salvation in an instant – A short reflection presented on Christmas morning. – Ian

December 24, 2016Return to Christmas Eve – A reflection on coming back to the season where we celebrate Jesus’ birth. – Ian

December 18, 2016 — On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, our theme was love. The congregation participated in a drama telling how we all have a part to play in the Christmas Story. We sang Christmas carols to help us along the journey — Bev

December 11, 2016 — Making room for joy – On the third Sunday of Advent, our theme was joy. My reflection on a story of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-80) asked how the song his father sings in response can help us find joy in changing times — Ian

December 4, 2016 — Fake news and Gospel truth – On the second Sunday of Advent, our theme was peace. My reflection on a story of the miraculous conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26-56) asked how the song Mary sings in response (“The Magnificat”) can help us find peace in troubling times — Ian

November 27, 2016 — “You Want it Darker” — On the first Sunday in Advent, we followed the tradition of seeking Hope. During Advent, we are reading through the first chapter of Luke. On the 27th, we started with with Luke 1:5-25 (the miraculous conception and birth of John the Baptist). In addition to reflecting on this reading, I used poems by Leonard Cohen and T.S. Eliot to discuss how hope can grow when we accept reality — Ian

November 20, 2016 — “Your one wild and precious life” – We crowned a year of thanksgiving and reflection with a 40th anniversary service. Former ministers were here; Heavenly Hospitality served lunch in the Lower Hall; and everyone shared their memories and dreams — Ian. See Mill Woods highlights for a fuller description

November 13, 2016 — Bev Thompson, Mill Woods United’s Children Youth and Family Worker, led the service with the theme: “We are the World, Where is the Joy?” We learned together about how to find joy in today’s world in a service full of interactions, sharing and art.

November 6, 2016 — “On earth as it is in heaven” – On Sunday, we anticipated Remembrance Day with a reading about resurrection and marriage (Luke 20:27-40). My reflection pondered the implications of the phrase “there is no marriage in heaven.” — Ian

October 30, 2016“Loving our enemies today” – On the cusp of All Hallows Day (November 1, also known as All Saints Day), All Souls Day (November 2) and All Hallows Eve or Halloween (October 31), we heard a challenging reading in which Jesus calls on us to love our enemies (Luke 6:17-31). My reflection asked what we might discover by identifying our enemies today and approaching them with love — Ian

October 23, 2016 — “From humility to acceptance” – On Sunday we heard Jesus tell a parable about two people praying (Luke 18:9-14). My reflection on it tackled the paradox of humility and right-living — Ian

October 9, 2016 — “Love in overdrive” – On Thanksgiving Sunday, my reflection on Luke 17:11-19 (a grateful leper) was on how we can give thanks in both good times and bad — Ian

October 2, 2016 — “Women, faith and ministry” – On Worldwide Communion Sunday, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the ordination of Lydia Guchy, the first woman ordained in the United Church of Canada. The Gospel reading was Luke 17:5-6 (faith the size of a mustard seed) — Ian

September 25, 2016 — “Earth to earth; ashes to ashes; stardust to stardust” – On Sunday we finished the short Season of Creation with “Cosmos Sunday.” After hearing a reading of Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31 (Wisdom as co-creator of the universe) my reflection talked about the role that awe and mystery play in our lives — Ian

September 18, 2016 — “Storms of belief” – On Sunday we resumed “The Season of Creation” with a reading of Psalm 29 (“God thunders across the water”). On “Storm Sunday,” I reflected on how our image of God has changed with the rise of science, including the science of weather and storms. Can we continue to find meaning in poems like Psalm 29 that were written 2500 years ago? — Ian

September 11, 2016 — “Fifteen years on the potter’s wheel” – On “Welcome Back” Sunday, youth group and church school resumed and Heavenly Hospitality offered a light lunch in the Lower Hall to give us a chance to catch up with friends. Sunday was also the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States and — not so coincidentally — the 15th anniversary of my return to the church. My reflection on a reading that imagines God as a potter (Jeremiah 18) is called “Fifteen years on the potter’s wheel” — Ian

September 4, 2016 — Ethel Ray led us in the first of four “Season of Creation” services, which focused on The Ocean.

August 28, 2016 — We heard about Jesus telling a parable about the seating plan at a wedding banquet (Luke 14:1, 7-14). Bev Thompson led the service and offered a reflection on table manners.

August 21, 2016“Division in the pursuit of justice” — A reflection on a story in which Jesus says “I have come not to bring peace but division!” (Luke 12:49-56). The reflection on this statement — which seems to contradict others by Jesus — asked how we should conduct ourselves in times of aggressive public debate — Ian

August 14, 2016 — “That’s not news. But that, too, is reality?” A story in which Jesus urges his friends not to worry (Luke 12:22-34). The focus of the reflection was on how being awake to each moment can move us from anxiety to trust — Ian

August 7, 2016 — “The Father and Mother of Us All . . .” The service included a baptism, a celebration of communion, and a story in which Jesus teaches his friends how to pray (Luke 11:1-13). My short reflection on ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ asked the same question that Jesus’ friends ask him, ‘How then should we pray?’ — Ian

The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by all Christians but it never mentions Christ. It is prayed in all churches, but it never mentions church. It is prayed on all Sundays, but it never mentions Sunday. It is called ‘The Lord’s Prayer,” but it never mentions ‘Lord.’” – John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer, 2010

July 31, 2016 — “Thirsting for authenticity in a sea of rhetoric” — We heard the story of a visit by Jesus to the house of two sisters. Martha worries about being a good host and busies herself in the kitchen while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to him (Luke 10:38-42). The service invited us to reflect on two sides of love: serving and listening — Ian

July 24, 2016 — “Unity as a spiritual path” —When a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?,” Jesus replied by telling the parable of a ‘Good Samaritan’ (Luke 10:25-37). In a summer filled with news of conflict between people of different backgrounds, the service invited us to wonder how our work of outreach and advocacy can help our spiritual growth and point us to the unity we desire — Ian

July 17, 2016 — “On First Looking into the Church’s Instagram Account” — We heard a passage in which Jesus sends 36 pairs of his followers to teach and heal. (Luke 10:1-11, 16-20). The service invited us to wonder about the changing nature of work and mission today — Ian

July 10, 2016 — “The costs of the journey.” We heard a reading in which Jesus calls his friends to follow him, but with onerous conditions. (Luke 9:51-62). The service invited us to wonder about the costs and joys of following Jesus today — Ian

July 3, 2016“Idolatry then and now:” Today personal identity is closely bound up with nation. On a long weekend bookended by Canada Day on Friday and U.S. Independence Day on Monday and following the recent Brexit vote that saw England turn against Europe, we heard a biblical passage about a contest for the soul of ancient Israel between Elijah and foreign priests (1 Kings 18:17-40). My reflection on it asked how nationalism helps or hinders our identity as followers of Jesus — Ian

June 26, 2016 – A Focus on Reconciliation: Our Sunday morning service featured Chief Calvin Bruneau of the Papaschase First Nation. The service also marked the 30th anniversary of the first official Apology of the United Church of Canada to First Nations people.

June 19, 2016 — Worship in the Park! We had a potluck in Gold Bar Park while Ian shared Campfire stories.

June 12, 2016 — Does Paul show us how to walk a mystical path as a follower of Jesus? I reflected on this question in connection to one of my favourite passages from the letters of Paul, Galatians 2:15-21 (“Christ lives in me”) — Ian

June 5, 2016 — “Bread for the journey” — We celebrated Sunday School and Youth Group as they broke for the summer and gathered all ages in a time of story, song, and the sacrament of communion — Ian

May 29, 2016 — “Youth Service”  The service was led by the Youth. They focused on Psalm 96.

May 22, 2016 — “Spirituality in Music”  The reflection asked the question, “Where do you find your Spirituality?”  It was accompanied by a variety of pieces that were sung and explored by John and Lindy Mair

May 15, 2016 — “Spirited moments past, present and future” — On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated not only the “birthday of the church” in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago, but also reflected on the 40th anniversary of Mill Woods United, which was founded in 1976, and on the 10th anniversary of this church becoming an Affirming congregation. In looking back to the work of the Spirit in those anniversaries, we also looked to where it might be leading us today – Ian

May 8, 2016 — “Seasons come and seasons go” — On Mother’s Day, we celebrated a baptism and brought the seven-week season of Easter to a close. My reflection on the last chapter in the Bible (Revelation 22) and the section of the Gospel of John that contains the United Church’s motto “That All May be One” (John 17:20-26) talked about how the entire circle of life sometimes can be grasped in its completeness in any moment of life’s journey — Ian

May 1, 2016 — “The last Christian in Europe?” — On Sunday, we heard a story about the conversion of a women named Lydia who is often called “the first Christian in Europe” (Acts 16:6-15). In reflecting on her baptism by Paul, I discussed how social change is transforming the church both in Europe and here at home. What might we want to discard from our traditions in the light of those changes and what might we want to keep? — Ian

April 24, 2016 — “Past troubles and future dreams” — On Sunday, we heard a vision of a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-6). My reflection on this text discussed how commemorating the past influences our hopes for the future. Two centennials — the first Irish, the second Canadian — will provide more inspiration. April 24, 1916 was the start of the “Easter Rising” in Dublin that tried to win Irish independence. And next year, Canada will mark the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 1917), a defining moment in Canadian history — Ian

April 17, 2016 — “Lacking nothing in a troubled world” — “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” On Grandparents’ Sunday, we heard the 23rd Psalm and its famous opening words. My reflection asked what it means to not want for anything in a world of both abundance and inequality — Ian

April 10, 2016 — “Go deep” — On the third Sunday of Easter, we heard the appendix to the Gospel of John (chapter 21). In it, the Risen Christ tells his friends to fish on the other side of the boat, a story which is similar to one told by Luke from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5). In reflecting on both of these stories, I discussed what we mean by “going deep” in life and ministry. Why do we consider this to be good advice, and why do we sometimes have trouble following it? — Ian

April 3, 2016 — “Doubting Easter” — On the second Sunday of Easter, we heard the story of “doubting Thomas” – the friend of Jesus who seeks material proof that Jesus has risen from the grave (John 19:19-31). In reflecting on this story, I looked at contemporary skepticism about Easter — Ian

March 27, 2016 — Easter Sunday — an inter-generational service of music, prayer and reflection greeted the happy news of an empty tomb with shouts of joy and praise

March 25, 2016 — Good Friday — “The moment of liberation” — a reflection on what we on the difficult but grace-filled path to new life — Ian

March 20, 2016 — “Palm/Passion Sunday” — This inter-generational service began by remembering the entrance of Jesus and his friends into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It then used movement, symbols and readings to mark the other events of Holy Week up to Good Friday — Ian

March 13, 2016 — “Ending the journey” — On the last Sunday before Palm Sunday, we heard a story set on the outskirts of Jerusalem near the end of Jesus’ journey from Galilee (John 12:1-8). Despite objections from Judas, Mary anoints Jesus with expensive oil for his burial. In reflecting on this passage, I looked at current debates on doctor-assisted dying — Ian

March 6, 2016 — “Raising the dead, waking the lifeless” — Lent is a journey towards death on Good Friday and new life at Easter. But on the fourth Sunday in Lent, we heard a story that might confuse the issue – the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). It is about a son who was was dead but is now alive, was lost but is now found. In reflecting on this parable, I wondered about what hopes we might have for new life this holy season – Ian