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Sunday Summary

Palm Sunday

Our usual expectation for this Sunday would be to see children in the church, along with the Sunday school staff, circling the sanctuary as we sing Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. Unfortunately, not this year.

It wasn’t known as Palm Sunday that first time. It was a regular beginning to Passover week. Jerusalem was beginning to fill up for the celebration centered on the nation’s release from Egyptian captivity.

If anything was different that year it was the buzz in the air about a prophet in the area. Could he be the Messiah spoken of for so many generations? The chosen one who would redeem the nation of Israel and establish self-rule once again.

The word on the street was that he had healed the sick, fed large crowds with meager provisions and most recently raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. Although that last rumour was probably stretching it a little.

Suddenly in the middle of the day, there he is. Riding on a donkey surrounded by his entourage of close followers. Those who have noticed his arrival in Jerusalem have begun to break off palm branches and lay them along the path he is taking. And so, we have the beginning of what will be known as Palm Sunday.

It’s an interesting motley crew of different participants in this one act play.

First there’s the crowd, getting excited about Jesus arrival and hoping that he will bring to fruition the great prophesies from their past.

The disciples are caught up in this same excitement, although they’re thinking of their role in Jesus new government; thinking about which portfolio he will assign to them as he sets up his kingdom.

The Roman soldiers are on edge, wondering if they will soon be in conflict with this large Passover crowd, and have to use their short swords to restore order.

The religious leaders have been anticipating his arrival, plotting how to rid the nation of this rabble rouser. Not because they are particularly bad men but because the Romans allow them to worship at the Temple and keep their Jewish laws. In the past other nations have never allowed this. If Jesus has his way, he may instigate a tearing down of the Temple with misguided plans to build it up again in three days. That statement, if no other, tells them that they are dealing with a delusional man.

Then there’s Jesus. Coming into town on a donkey. Doesn’t he know that conquering kings such as Caesar enter on a white stallion?

But Jesus is the man of peace.

He has indeed come to establish his Kingdom, but it has nothing to do with Jerusalem in this time and place. His Kingdom will be greater in scope. His Kingdom will encompass the whole world and it will be initiated through sacrifice, not the sword.

It will be founded on love not power.

Jesus is the only one who knows how the week will end, in his suffering and death. Jesus is also the only one who knows how next week will begin. His miraculous resurrection which will change the world forever.

I wonder what’s going through his mind as he is witness to all the revelry, aware that all of these people, other than the Romans and his own Jewish religious leaders, will be devastated by the end of this week.

We’re told that we are facing another couple of weeks of isolation and frustration and for some fear and anxiety. But as the songwriter wrote:

Then came the morning
Night turned into day
The stone was rolled away
Hope rose with the dawn

This Coronavirus stone will also be rolled away, and we will celebrate morning again. Hope will rise as the dawn, as night is turned into day.

Blessings.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Living in Community

This Sunday we’ll be missing “Pizza Sunday”.

I enjoy Pizza Sunday. How can you not enjoy a feed of Pizza paid for by the Men’s Club? It’s not only pizza after church that I enjoy, it’s the many times we gather following worship service to sit together, enjoy each other’s company and share in ice cream, soup, muffins, cheese and crackers along with so many other fine foods.

We don’t do it as a means of enticing anyone to come to church. As good as our meals may be, they are not sufficient to change anyone’s mind about attending a morning service. We do it because we are relational by nature. We have been created to live with each other, to not be alone as God stated in Genesis when we were being created.

And we are relational because God is relational. God has been revealed to us as a mystery of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and these entities are presented to us as being in a relationship of love.

The community we know as the church, is called and designed to be a community in relationship based on love, first of all the love that God has for us and then the love that we can share with each other.

Jesus prayed before his arrest that the love that God the Father has for Jesus would be an experience of love that we too would enjoy.

This is a message we can’t emphasis enough as it was driven home by Jesus and recorded in John’s gospel.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

This drive, to be in relationship with each other, helps to explain the anxiety some of us are feeling as we are absent from each other for another week, unable to worship and enjoy fellowship with each other.

But this love is also a source of strength in a difficult time such as this. God’s love is perfect, and John reminded us that perfect love casts out all fear.

Be Strong

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples fully aware of the suffering that awaits. What spurs him on is his realization that Resurrection also awaits, an event that will change the world forever.

On the way he meets a blind man and in that most unusual scene he cures the man’s blindness with a mixture of spit and dirt, placing the mud mixture on his eyes.

The story then becomes a rather comical play between the Pharisees, Jesus, the man and his parents. When they question the man, now living in the newness of a life of sight and fearing no one, he takes the opportunity to give the Pharisees some lip. The Pharisees claim Jesus is a sinner because he broke the law in healing the man on the Sabbath. The man wonders how a sinner can do such wonderful works. When the Pharisees keep on questioning him the former blind man wonders if they are asking all of these questions because they too want to be Jesus’ disciples. At which point the only retort of the law makers is to insult the man.

Then it’s time to hear from the parents who show their serious anxiety about getting into a verbal joust with the powerful. When asked how this happened all they can think to say is “don’t ask us, ask him, he’s old enough to speak for himself”.

Interesting to note that the Pharisees never confront Jesus directly. Those confrontations have never gone well for them and by now they know better.

There is an interesting and somewhat controversial comment by Jesus when his disciples ask why this man is blind to begin with. Is it because he sinned, or his parents sinned? Begs the question of how someone could sin before birth and suffer such a consequence.

Some translations seem to suggest that this man was burdened with blindness for this specific moment. It afforded Jesus the opportunity to heal him and make it a teaching moment for his disciples.

Some newer translations however put a different slant on Jesus’ answer. Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.” (The Message)

It’s about what God can do for us in any situation.

Like the blind man in the story, we too are living in a sort of blindness as we struggle through this Covid-19 uncertainty. We can struggle with a multitude of questions and work ourselves into a state of fear and anxiety or we can hear the words of Jesus.

“Look instead for what God can do. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

The Message

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

A Man Walked Into The Wilderness…

A man walked into the wilderness. No it’s not the opening line to a joke, it’s the serious experience of Jesus when he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to sort out the challenges he will have to deal with in his life. This rather tough experience comes just after the joyful celebration of Jesus baptism. It’s an example of the two sorts of experience even we can have in our lives.

In the wilderness, Jesus answers the temptations by quoting his scriptures, the Torah. For each temptation he has an answer.
They include, we don’t live by bread alone, but by understanding the word of God, we are to worship God and God only and it’s not smart to try to put God to the test.

Following 40 days of this sort of struggle it’s off to a wedding. When the wine runs out, Jesus’ mother challenges him to solve the problem.  She’s not suggesting that he and his disciples make a quick trip to the LCBO; but rather he use his power as the Son to help the celebration continue. Jesus pushes back at first and then does what any good son does: listens to his Mom and turns some water into wine. Not just some, possibly 120 to 180 gallons to be specific. 

We see two possible lessons in this. Although water into wine seems a rather trivial endeavour, it’s Jesus way of saying that God is concerned about even the most mundane of our needs. The other has to do with God being the God of abundance. When Jesus feeds 5000 with a few fish and loaves, there are 12 baskets over the need. When Jesus resolves to get involved with the wine, he supplies more than the Best Man could have ever hoped for. We can go to God in prayer with our most basic needs and expect God to go over the top when God chooses to answer.

Pastor Lloyd