Friday
Sep212018

Readings for Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

PSALM 148

ISAIAH 55: verses 12-56

1 CORINTHIANS: verse 13

 

I would like to share with you a new generational Lord's Prayer courtesy of Diane Robinson from St. James United Church in Regina:

Creation is Holy. Life is a mystery. The kin-dom is the world we live; the earth and the heavens. May we this day have bread to eat. May we plant seeds of grace. May we forgive those who grieve us dearly. May we be spared life's trials. May evil be vanquished. With our lives may we strive to be love and be light. Now and forever. Amen

Thursday
Sep202018

Readings September 16, 2018

PSALM 104: 1-9 
                God’s care over all what has been created…
GENESIS 9: 8-9, 12-13           
                God’s setting of the rainbow in the sky…

 

Thursday
Sep202018

Sermon September 9, 2018

“CARING FOR CREATION ISN’T NEW ~~

ENVIRONMENTALISM IS”

by Rev. Jope Langejans

You know, while caring for creation isn’t something new, environmentalism is…we know that each of us and of course our parents and our grandparents who live and lived directly off the land have to and had to be caring and careful about our relationship with the land, our relationship with our surroundings and what fed us and what feeds us…but now we’re in a different place as the world’s population is beginning to expand in such numbers that we are on the brink of short-circuiting our Earth and its sustainability….so this new word came into existence – environmentalism…and in many ways, this movement, of which it is, comes out of two things:

And the first one is the fact that many of us are separated from intentional day-to-day interaction with the rest of creation…and I may be treading on some folks in stating this but as we become more and more of an urban society, creation is lost in the ‘urbanity’ of it all… constant rush hour traffic, concrete and asphalt and more concrete and more asphalt, signal lights at almost every intersection, C-trains and

E-trains, seeing the air that you breathe, constant sirens and the continual hum of traffic and you can add countless other ‘disconnects’  as I’m sure you can of what takes away from being connected to the creating God…the separation from the needed interaction with creation – with nature – with what sustains us…

And secondly and maybe more importantly, that we’ve come to realize and recognize that the world around us is finite – and not infinite… we’ve been taking and taking and taking for so long that we have forgotten how to give back so this Sunday, the fourth Sunday in our Creation Time Theme, brings us to a place where we need to recognize our deep interconnection with all of creation – not just humankind…

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus uses the image of the fig tree as a teacher and a messenger of what is to come next…I wonder what sort of message we need to hear from creation to bring us to a place of realization that we are slowly extinguishing ourselves as a slow burning candle…if we were truly listening to what creation was saying to us, what do we believe that message could be?...

Would it be a message of celebration and hope?...would it be a message of challenge?...or would we turn our eyes away and say, “This doesn’t affect me whatsoever”…if the walls of this church suddenly turned clear and we could see everything around us, what do you think are the hurting parts of God’s creation that we could do something about?...

A good question to think about and I believe that this is an important question to ask ourselves…we may not be able to change things from a distance but we can at least try to change things which are directly in our view – things which impact us day-in and day-out – right outside the walls…and if we do this with the belief that others would also be doing it, sooner or later, change will happen – positive change which would bring God’s creation back into equilibrium…

And there are other questions which popped up when I was putting this together…with whom do we need to share the message that the rest of creation is offering us?...the psalmist recognizes the deep connection between creation and its Creator…perhaps part of our responsibility is to be a voice for the parts of creation that cannot speak with our words…and other questions came into my mind…

How might we go about speaking what we are hearing?...

What kinds of changes to our life might God, through the voice of the rest of creation, be calling us to do?....

Are we ready to live it?...

Some deep questions which need deep prayerful thoughts and actions… environmentalism is our issue and we have time to change our runaway-train from hurtling down the track for God has made each of us people of hope and people of action…God has instilled in each of us the words love…and truth…and peace…and ultimately….joy…joy which comes from walking out in the fall air and breathing in…leaves crunching under our feet as we enter ourselves into union with creation…

It’s your world…it’s my world…it’s God’s world…and we need to make our footprints as small as we can…Amen.

Saturday
Sep082018

Sermon July 15, 2018

“Where’s Your Burning Bush?”

 by Rev. Jope Langejans

So where’s your burning bush?....where or what is God calling you to be or to do?...Moses didn’t have a clue…he only took off his shoes or his sandals and turned his face so that he couldn’t see the face of God, for whatever that might of looked like….this is story…this is ancient biblical history…and we can take from it a literal sense or possibly something much deeper or more profound…this story is the calling of each of us to look deeper into ourselves and to see the gifts that we have and how we are to use them to move humankind in directions that are peaceful and empowering…we, like Moses, will probably ask all kind of questions and give all kinds of excuses but ultimately, when God calls…. We answer…and God may call you into doing this summer and you need to pay heed…

And we answer in ways that for some folk, may seem totally absurd… this isn’t the point…the point is that each of us are called to make a difference in this world…maybe in large, grand, actions and most often, in small actions of helpful and loving and caring incidents…

It takes a burning bush to get Moses’s attention, and he still doesn’t think that he is qualified…and in the Gospel passages, so often, Jesus’ closest followers miss the point…yet they are called to discipleship… they are called to carry the torch…to speak their own personal words of wisdom…

How many of us miss the point?...how many of us feel ourselves sometimes unworthy?...yet, here we are, called not because we’ve achieved great things, but because God’s love invokes in us such wonder and gratitude that we cannot help but reach out beyond ourselves…

We step forward then, fearfully perhaps, to love and to serve others, trusting as Moses trusted that God will be with us….

And quite often following or answering the call which God gives to us leads us in directions which may be dark or dangerous…could be fearful, no, quite often it’s more than fearful…yet, it’s what we need to do anyway…

And I’m going to share this incident with all of you which happened to me last week…

I was out doing some quick shopping on Tuesday morning, before I came to the office, and I needed to go to Wal Mart, which is not my normal place to pick things up but I needed a specific thing and they are the only ones who have it…so I go through the check-out and there’s really no one in the store because it just opened and I come to the cashier and noticed that she was a bit older, older than most clerks in the store and I was surprised that she took up a little chit-chat and she was fairly open…and I found out that she was 74 years old…74 years old and still working?...

And here’s her reason for what she is doing…and this is what she said: “I never thought that I would still be working at this age. But, the company I worked for went broke or went bankrupt a few years ago before I retired and with the whole messy part of going bankrupt and not treating its employees very well, I lost every cent of my pension… with my medical expenses and my other responsibilities, I was forced to go back to work…to tell you the truth, it is the best thing that ever happened to me…I can’t imagine myself just sitting at home doing nothing…I love it here”…and this is the line that got me… “and I get to talk to people just like you!”

Kind of an interesting response don’t you think?... “This is the best thing that ever happened to me”…an interesting case in point of answering the bumpy road that God calls us into sometimes…

Perhaps ministers, such as myself, tend to speak negatively about the difficult, tragic, dark, and uncertain times of life that all of us must go through…maybe it’s in these times that the superficialities of life are peeled away…maybe it is when our false comforts whither that we are able to discover true consolation or support…maybe…

Some folks that I knew years ago who lived in this city had cared for a group of special needs foster children and her husband and herself took special care of them….

“These girls make our lives worth living,” she said to me one day as she put another load of wash into the washing machine…I was marveled, or should I say appalled, at the shape of her day with constant washing, cleaning, cooking, and caring for this group of six….

“They give us a meaningful life,” she says. “I don’t sit around and mope looking for something to do…the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in somebody whose aches and pains are greater than yours.” ….wow…

And I sometimes use these words at weddings… “If you want the gifts of life, in abundance, you need to give part of yourself away”….and that’s what it’s truly about…

I believe Moses did this…he saw the aches and the pains of the Israelites and this moved him into action…moved him into obeying the God that he always knew but didn’t realize that faith was a verb…faith was an action…and faith changes the world always for the better…

So this morning, ask yourself this question… “Where’s my burning bush?”…what is God calling me to…do…or to be?

I assure you, that in our hunger, we shall find nourishment….that in the storm we just might find true shelter, and that in the night we might find the warmth and the light of true home – in God…

As God says to Moses…follow me, so Jesus says to his disciples…follow me and I say to each of every one of you….follow your heart….Amen.

Saturday
Sep082018

Sermon July 1, 2018

 “THERE TRULY IS EASTER LAUGHTER ON JULY 1ST!!

 by Rev. Jope Langejans

You might recall in one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, the one where he delivered it from the mountain or as we call it now, the Sermon on the Mount, these words: “Blessed are you who mourn for you will find laughter.”….do you kind of remember that one?...and one would think that after a promise like that, Jesus might be well known for his humour…and though sometimes I’ve been praised a little bit with my humour in some of the messages which I deliver, Jesus never was…

Laughter plays little role in the Gospels…it is quite rare…except in today’s Gospel…this is the only time that I know of that Jesus made anybody laugh…Mark 8, verse 40, “They laughed at him.”…ha-ha-ha...

And at this moment in the biblical text Jesus has been working the other side of the Sea of Galilee, out among the pagans, but now he’s back home…back home with his own people…back home with fellow believers…and really, he didn’t have a lot of luck with the Gentiles on the other side of the sea because I sense that they didn’t know what to make of him…but then why should they – Jesus is Jewish and he preaches exclusively from the Jewish scriptures, which Gentiles have no idea what they’re about…so Jesus is back home, back among the informed…the insiders…the faithful…and guess what?...back home they don’t know what to make of him either…the response of the good synagogue-going folks?....they laugh at him…they don’t throw rocks at him or drag him into court and they didn’t outright reject him…they laughed at him…and if that’s ever happened to you, I bet you will agree that mocking laughter can be the worst sort of rejection there is…

And we have this father running into the Gospel passage frantically begging that his daughter is really ill and needs Jesus to come….now!... to save her and Jesus follows him only to be stopped for a little while in his ministry to be interrupted to do more ministry and the hemorrhaging woman becomes cleansed and the little girl dies…kind of…the whole scene is put before us, it’s all over but the weeping and the wailing and those in the yard say, “Don’t bother yourself, Jesus. She’s dead”…and Jesus says, “She isn’t dead…she’s sleeping.”…

And with that…the crowd laughs at him…Jesus made them laugh…

“Sure…like you’re the Chief Medical Examiner…we may be pre-scientific first-century people but we know dead when we see dead!... You’re a carpenter’s son, for God’s sake…sure, she’s asleep”…

And with that, undeterred by our laughter, bending down to the little girl, Jesus says, “Talitha, cum”…or “little girl…rise.”… do you think they were laughing anymore…you’re darn right they were for they would have been over-joyed that the young lady was healed…

And I look at this as a preview of Easter long, long, before Easter…in the face of the world’s mocking laughter, Christ dares to defeat death and leads a little girl back to life…we need to positively understand and believe that Jesus transforms anything he touches…me and you…

He just says the words and there is life, a new world, a future we could not have had on our own…and guess what…today’s July and we’re far from that Easter, or are we?...I know that whenever we get together it’s Easter…we come to church not to escape to a fantasy world of faith but rather to escape the unreal world where death rules and defeat wants to have the last word…we come to church in order to get our heads straight, to rejuvenate our faith in the victory of the resurrection…

So is there Easter laughter on July 1st…you bet!!...

More than you’ll ever know…so the final question in my homily this morning is worded like this: Can Cold Water Really Clean Dishes?
John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather in a very secluded, rural area of Saskatchewan …After spending a great evening chatting the night away, the next morning John's grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.  However, John noticed a film like substance on his plate, and questioned his grandfather asking, 'Are these plates clean?' His grandfather replied, 'They're as clean as cold water can get em. Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!'
For lunch the old man made hamburgers. Again, John was concerned about the plates, as his appeared to have tiny specks around the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, 'Are you sure these plates are clean?' Without looking up the old man said, 'I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now don't you
fret, I don't want to hear another word about it!'
Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town and as he was leaving, his grandfather's dog started to growl, and wouldn't let him pass. John yelled and said,' Grand-dad, your dog won't let me get to my car.' Without diverting his attention from the football game
he was watching on TV, the old man shouted...
'Coldwater, go lay down now, y'hear me?'