Sermons from 2019

December 24, 2019 — “Yes Virginia . . . ” — On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed two gatherings: one at 7 pm that focused more on families and one at 10 pm that included a celebration of communion.

December 22, 2019“Its Starting to Look a Lot Like Netflix!” — On the fourth Sunday of Advent: Love, we welcomed two children in the sacrament of baptism; we enjoyed a Christmas pageant; the choir sang “A Whisper, a Candle, a Promise;” and we heard a brief reflection about Mary’s song of love and justice (Luke 1:46-57)– Ian

December 15, 2019Complicated joy — On the third Sunday of Advent (Joy), I reflected on the story of Mary’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-45) and on the joy we can feel even in difficult circumstances. The choir sang “The Jesus Gift,” and we received “White Gift” presents – Ian

December 8, 2019Out of silence — On the second Sunday of Advent, our theme was Peace. We heard more of the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah as they waited for the birth of their miracle child, John (Luke 1:18-25), and wondered how times of silence and solitude might connect to our work for greater justice and peace. The choir sang “A Shoot Shall Come Forth.”

December 1, 2019Finding hope in the darkness — On the first Sunday of Advent, we began our annual journey to Christmas with the theme of Hope. We reflected on the first of two Advent stories about miraculous births (Luke 1:1-17, the birth of John the Baptist foretold) and on the leap of faith involved in the decision to become a parent. The choir sang “Mary, Did You Know?” and we celebrated Communion.

November 24, 2019Becoming an intercultural church — On the third of three Sundays focused on refugees, our theme was how to make the church more intercultural. We heard more selections from the book “Homes: A Refugee Story” and the biblical story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12) Our Office Administrator Liliana Angel talked about the experiences of her family when they came to Edmonton as refugees in 2009. The choir sang “Going Home.”

November 17, 2019 — “Welcoming strangers” — We continued to focus on refugees and the 2018 book “Homes: A Refugee Story.” Islamic scholar Dr. Junaid Jahangir spoke about his experiences of migration and his work fostering interfaith awareness in Edmonton and supporting acceptance of diversity within Islam. We also celebrated a brief “Transfer of Membership” ritual and the Choir sang “I Can See the River Jordan.”

November 10, 2019Back to the Garden: from war to rebellion — On the day before the centennial of the first Remembrance Day, we completed a series called “Back to the Garden.” We reflected on a reading in which Jesus commands his friends to love their enemies (Matthew 5: 43-44) and another that imagines the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden living in “A New Jerusalem” (Revelation 22:1-5). I asked how these dreams might become a reality in times of great change. The choir sang “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” — Ian

November 3, 2019Seeking refuge — November 3 was the first of three Sundays that focused on the award-winning book “Homes: A Refugee Story.” It is about an Edmonton teenager who was born in Iraq, who fled with his family to Syria in 2010, and then from Syria to Canada in 2014. Besides selections from the book, we also heard the story of the Holy Family fleeing from Bethlehem to safety in Egypt when Jesus was an infant (Matthew 2:1-15) and celebrated communion

October 27, 2019Back to the Garden: for love or money — We heard a passage in which Jesus proclaims liberation for the poor (Luke 4: 14-21) and imagined what the world might look like if love was the organizing principle of everyday life instead of money. The choir sang “Abundant Life” – Ian

October 20, 2019Back to the Garden: “Bread and Roses” — We resumed our quest to “get back to the Garden” with a focus on songs of joy and protest. We heard Mary’s song, which she sang when she learned she was pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1: 46-55) sought more inspiration from the Woodstock Festival of Peace and Music. The choir sang “Thankful” — Ian

October 13, 2019Turning wounds into blessings — On Thanksgiving Sunday, we heard an ancient story of Jacob wrestling with and being blessed by an angel (Genesis 32: 22-31). Len Penner and Bryan LeGrow sang “Hard Times Are Gonna Come No More.”

October 6, 2019Inspiring one another — On Worldwide Communion Sunday, we heard Jesus use the metaphor of vine and branches to speak of our connection to the Divine (John 15). We will also celebrated communion and shared what inspires us to be a part of Mill Woods United Church. The choir sang “Think of Me and Remember.”

September 29, 2019Back to Garden: lifelong learning — On the first Sunday of autumn, our focus was on life-long learning. We heard the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10-38-42) and reflected on Joni Mitchell’s phrase “I don’t know who l am / But you know life is for learning” from her song “Woodstock.” The choir sang “A Shoot Shall Come Forth.”

September 22, 2019Back to the Garden: from fear to faith — On the last Sunday of summer, I returned to our dreams for a new Eden and how fear can get in the way. We heard the end of a long speech by Jesus (John 16:31-33) and reflected on how to turn fear into faith. The choir sang “Be Still and Know.”

September 15, 2019 — The choir lead us in a service on the history and role of music in worship. They performed a lot of wonderful music and lead us in singing many favourite hymns.

September 8, 2019Back to the Garden: life together — On Welcome Back Sunday, I continued to reflect on our dreams for a new “Eden” and how they illuminate the type of community we want. For inspiration we heard two readings from the Bible (Acts 2 :42-47, sharing everything in common, and Hebrews 13: 1-3, 16) and Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock.” Our children’s program resumed under the leadership of Georgia Englot – Ian

September 1, 2019 — “Back to the Garden” — On my first service after a sabbatical, I looked back at a summer of anniversaries, including the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival. In reflecting on theses anniversaries and on the story of Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2-3), I examined our dream of a future that, like Eden, will be one of abundance, peace, and love – Ian

Summer 2019

For 16 Sundays from May through August, Sunday morning spiritual gatherings happened at Mill Woods United without our called minister, the Rev. Ian Kellogg. Ian was on sabbatical in May, June, July, and then took a combination of vacation and study leave in August.

In Ian’s absence, David Faber, a Candidate for ministry here in the city, led the services in May and July and the Rev. Joanne Kobylka led the services in June. In August, the Rev. Yoon-Ok Shin, Olga Garcia, Francisco Rico, John Mair, and Lindy Mair led the services. Thanks to all the worship leaders, the Worship Committee, and to everyone else (Welcome Team members, counters, substitute pianists, PowerPoint projectors, and others) who worked together to make these services a success.

April 28, 2019 — “You Deserve a Break Today!” — On the second Sunday of Easter, we heard about the origins of the Hebrew practice of Sabbath (Genesis 1-2 and Exodus 20). My reflection discussed my three-month sabbatical, which began the next day on April 29. The service also included two baptisms and the choir sang “Carry the Light” — Ian

April 21, 2019The everlasting instant — On Easter Sunday, we heard Mark’s account of the empty tomb (Mark 16: 1-8) and celebrated the mystery and joy of resurrection with song and ritual. The choir sang “How Beautiful” — Ian

April 19, 2019“Torn in two” — temples, cathedrals, and us — On Good Friday, we heard Mark’s version of the trials and crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 14 and 15) and reflected on our own Good Friday moments — Ian

April 14, 2019 — On Palm Sunday, we remembered the events of Holy Week, from Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem (Mark 11) to his arrest and crucifixion (Mark 14 and 15). Songs that tell this story were woven into a celebration of communion. The service also included a baptism, and the choir sang “Come Follow Me” — Ian

April 7, 2019Confronting evil — On the fifth Sunday in Lent, we heard a story in which Jesus is “anointed for burial” by his friend Mary just before his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (John 12:1-8). My reflection drew comparisons between the events of Good Friday, the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and the rise of racism and fear today. The choir sang “Lonesome Valley/We Shall Walk” – Ian

March 31, 2019The Rise and Fall of the Prodigal Empire — On the fourth Sunday in Lent, we heard Jesus’ famous parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32). My reflection was about the meaning of resurrection. The choir sang “Love Grows Here” by Don Besig – Ian

March 24, 2019 — On the third Sunday in Lent, we enjoyed two presentations on travel experiences with a spiritual dimension. Nancy Siever talked participating in “Burning Man” in Nevada in 2016 and Carla Janzen talked about exploring the U.S. Southwest last September. The congregation then shared travel experiences that have been important to them spiritually. The choir sang “Deep In Our Hearts” — Ian

March 17, 2019God is like . . . — On the second Sunday in Lent, we finished a series on Sacred Indigenous Teachings with a focus on Love. My reflection was based on a hymn to love from the First Letter of John (1 John 4: 7-21) and Elder Evelyn Day offered a teaching. The service also included a baptism – Ian

March 10, 2019Contemplation via catastrophe — On the first Sunday in Lent, we heard a story about Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13) and a reflection on the temptations we face today. The choir sang “Let My Spirit Always Sing” – Ian

March 3, 2019Deeper truths — We continued a series on Sacred Indigenous Teachings. The sixth, on Truth, feature a reflection by me on Luke’s version of the “beatitudes and woes” (Luke 6:17-26) and a teaching by Elder Evelyn Day – Ian

February 24, 2019Transfiguration and tradition — We celebrated “Transfiguration” based on Luke 9:28-36. As we continued to move from the season of Epiphany toward Lent, I reflected on epiphanies we may have experienced this winter. The choir sang “Bathe Me In Your Light” – Ian

February 17, 2019  — On Epiphany 7, YoonOk Shin, Diaconal Minister, led us in a service focused on Intercultural Ministry. Since 2015, YoonOk has been working for the United Churches in Edmonton to promote the goal of becoming an intercultural denomination. The choir sang “Walk Together Children.”

February 10, 2019Fools for love — On Epiphany 6, we continued a series on Seven Sacred Indigenous Teachings. The fifth, on Wisdom, included a reflection by me on Paul’s words about God’s “foolish wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31) and a teaching on Wisdom by Elder Evelyn Day. The choir sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” – Ian

February 03, 2019Time to be afraid? — On Epiphany 5 we continued a series on Seven Sacred Indigenous Teachings led by Elder Evelyn Day. The fourth, on Courage, included a reflection on a story in which Jesus stills a storm (Luke 8:22-25) – Ian

January 27, 2019“Life out of balance” — On Epiphany 4, we continued a series on Seven Sacred Indigenous Teachings. The third, on Respect, included a reflection on a reading in which Paul talks about the church as “the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). The choir sang “We Will Be a Shelter for Each Other” – Ian

January 20, 2019Honest to God — On Epiphany 3, we continued a series on Seven Sacred Indigenous Teachings. The second, on Honesty, include reflections on a story in which Jesus delivers a difficult message (Mark 8:27-35, “Take up your cross”) and a teaching from Elder Evelyn Day. The choir sang “Be Aware of Wonder” – Ian

January 13, 2019Nobody special — On Epiphany 2, we began a series on Seven Sacred Indigenous Teachings – Humility, Honesty, Respect, Courage, Wisdom, Truth, and Love. The first, on Humility, included a reflection by me on the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:15-22) and by First Nations Elder Evelyn Day on humility — Ian

January 06, 2019 “Go West, young man!” — On January 6, Epiphany, we heard another story of Christmas, the one involving a star and Magi from the East (Matthew 2:1-33 – the birth of Jesus and the flight to Egypt), and we celebrated Communion. My reflection was about the journeys of the Magi, of the Holy Family, and of my own journey from Saskatchewan to Edmonton five years ago – Ian

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