“Depression, War and New Possibilities” – March 18, 2018

“Depression, War and New Possibilities”

March 18, 2018 – Lent 5 – Year B



September 10, 1939 is a date that has forever changed the course of history.  The Battle of the Atlantic and the outbreak of WW 2 saw Canadian men and women engaged in conflict that would last 6 years.  During that time our congregation was faithfully singing the National Anthem immediately following the doxology.  We were proud of our home and native land.

During the war years Rev R.C. McGillvray served as our minister.  In 1944 it was determined that 2 ministers were needed and Rev. Bob Stobie and Rev. Ernie Rands were called to serve in our midst.  Sermons such as “When God Seems Hiding”, “What is Man?”, and “Getting the Best Out of Life” were proclaimed from this pulpit.  Mrs.  Monica Craig Fisher was our faithful organist for our morning and evening services.

We were a busy church, especially post war.  In addition to our Board of Stewards we had a Sunday School, a Mission Band, 40 girls in CGIT in 1944, Young People’s group, a Boy’s Club, Red Cross Unit, 5 Women’s Circles, The Couples Group, and As One That Serves (a men’s group) consisting of 40 men in 1940.

Some interesting tidbits gleaned from our archives include: in 1940 a motion was passed to support more temperance legislation.  That same year the Senior Choir organized a fundraising concert featuring Luther King, a black tenor.  In 1941 the Women’s Auxiliary raised $1,387 at their bazaar.  They organized socks, sweaters, and clothing to send to the Red Cross.  In 1943 a Fellowship Committee was established to visit homes and support the young wives of absent soldiers.  In 1944 the lot immediately north of the church was purchased.  Room was needed for the Sunday School, with attendance averaging 185 children.  Plans were discussed.  Membership was 471.  There were 30 child baptisms, 8 adult baptisms, 43 marriages, 25 funerals.  In 1945 The Sunday School registered 269 children with 29 teachers.  In May 1946 the Young People held a bike-hike to the Summerland Experimental farm with supper at the farm.  In 1947 the M&S covenant was $1,600.  By 1948 a Building Committee was formed to evaluate the condition of the premises and to carry out any needed refurbishing.  Such a committee has been active ever since.  In 1949 the AGM called for $50,000 to be raised for the construction of the Memorial Hall (Narthex)

In the minds of many, the 1940’s were the glory years.  We thrived as a church in-spite of the hardship of war.  We had a cause and we were determined to support our men and women in the very best way we could.  Post war we grew and thrived.  Marriages and births were celebrated in numbers we had never seen before.  We were a faith community that had found its legs.  20 years old and all was going well.

Like today, Sunday worship was an important constant in a greatly changing world.  The reading of scripture and the sermon was vital to a strong faith, was the understanding of our large congregation.  And so, scriptures like we heard were offered and expounded upon.

Jeremiah warned the people of the catastrophe that would befall their nation.  This was news the people didn’t want to hear.  Just like the outbreak of the Battle of the Atlantic, fear fell over God’s people in the 6th Century BCE.  Yet, it was in this context that the prophet Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant.  Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah during the last days of that nation’s sovereignty around 627 BCE.  He had been in conflict with the official theology of the nation for much of his ministry.  While many around him saw the covenant as broken beyond repair, Jeremiah saw God creating a new way.

The conditional covenant theology of the Exodus was rejected by Jeremiah as untrue to God’s nature.  God the creator would create something new that would better express the nature of God’s relationship with God’s people.  Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant written on the heart, not in books or precepts.  With this new covenant the law will be within God’s people and they will know God’s way within their very being.

This new covenant has been interpreted by Christians from the earliest days of the church to refer to Jesus.  So it is that you and I seek to live our lives in such a manner that God is revealed in all that we say, do and are.

To have God’s way written on our hearts and lived out faithfully in our lives is surely grace.  I can just imagine that on September 2, 1945 when war was declared over there was not only cheering and hugs and kisses.  I imagine that God was saying, “learn from this, my way is in loving relation with all my people from now on!”  We have not done a very good job in living out that directive.

Like the people of Jeremiah’s day, Jesus’ disciples and followers were not pleased to hear predictions of doom – they did not want to hear about Jesus’ impending death.  In the Gospel text, Jesus uses the visit of the Greeks as an opportunity to tell them again about what lay ahead for him.  Like Jeremiah, he also gives them a word of hope through his comparison of his death to the planting of a seed of wheat.  “Only if a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies will it bring forth fruit,” he says.

The image of the seed lies at the heart of John’s understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ death.  The death of the single grain brings about the growth of many new seeds.  Through Jesus’ death on the cross, something new will enter and transform the world.  Through this amazing truth, you and I are forever made new.

None of us want to look to the future and foresee doom.  We squirm a little knowing that Good Friday is just less than 2 weeks away.  Yet, we know that our call is the way of the cross. The middle verses about those who love their life and therefore will lose it, have a strong resemblance to parallel sayings in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The mention of taking up one’s cross as a part of following Christ is another saying that we hear in all 4 gospels.

Jesus’ horrible death does not release us from having to go through our own death in order to emerge into the fullness of eternal life.  The process of transformation from seed to plant, death to resurrection, this world to eternal life is clearly a difficult and painful process.  However, the gospel of John does provide us with a wonderful assurance that through whatever we must endure, we are never alone.  As we take up the crosses of our lives, we are assured that we have a close and loving companion.

So, what cross are you prepared to take up?  Is it one for the environment?  Is it one to give a little more time volunteering to a worthy cause?  Will you take up the cross of racial justice?  What about committing yourself to contacting 2 lonely people each week?  How about writing letters on behalf of those facing abuse?  Could you do a little extra donation to the church to ensure it continues to proclaim the Good News for the next 90 years?

Well, there you have it.  We have looked at our 2 scripture texts and reflected on the call to bring forth fruit.  The 1940’s was a decade that bore much fruit.  We have a history to be proud of.  We honour our veterans.  Please take time to view our memorial Plaque in the narthex on your way down to coffee hour.  The men and women who helped to build this country and this church deserve to be honoured.  May our celebrations continue.  Amen.


Rev. Laura J. Turnbull

Penticton United Church









“The Bite of Freedom” – March 11, 2018

“The Bite of Freedom”

March 11, 2018 – Lent 5 – Year B


Two monks, on a journey together, came across a woman who was standing beside a river.  The woman was very beautiful, and the water was too deep for her.

One of the monks lifted her on his shoulders and carried her across.

The 2nd monk was astounded.  “How could you do such a thing?” he demanded.  “You know our vows.  It was sinful for you to carry that woman.”  And the 2nd monk went on and on about the sins of the first monk until finally the 1st monk stopped.

“Brother,” he said gently.  “I set that woman down by the edge of the water.  Why are you still carrying her?”

Todays scripture passages are rich with preaching possibilities. I could talk about the promise of eternal life – or the wondrous healing offered by God – or the light and darkness imagery presented in the Gospel. But instead of any of those rich themes, I want to explore that which bites us.

Sometimes we are like the monk and we carry around with us a whole lot of burdens.  It has been said that the burdens in our heads are far heavier than the burdens on our backs.  We find it difficult to set them down and leave them in God’s care. Some of the burdens that we are carry around, are the weight of judgmentalism,  fear, anger, helplessness, anxiety and loneliness.  For some of our neighbours there is the burden of poverty, homelessness, and indifference.

When we are burdened, we crave healing.  What kind of healing do you seek?  You see, today we have heard about 2 different kinds of healing.  We heard about Moses and the snakes.  We also heard the famous John 3:16 passage about Jesus.  The comparison is drawn between Moses lifting up the snake and Jesus being lifted up on the cross.

The Israelites simply had to look at the bronze serpent and they had life.  For us, though, seeing has nothing to do with it.  We must have faith in Jesus, then we get eternal life.

The bronze snake only gave more physical life – physical life that had to be lived out where you were, in the same circumstances and problems and challenges.

The snake’s cure is really only temporary.  It is a Band-Aid solution.  On the other hand, Jesus is a permanent cure.  Unlike the snake, we aren’t just cured to go back to our regular grind in the same old way.  We are freed to live the same old grind as new people, with new possibilities.

We don’t even have to see the old grind as the old grind.  Now we can see it as a place to meet Christ and a place where God waits for us.  A place of God’s opportunities.

Marion Best, our friend and neighbour from Naramata, wrote the following, while Moderator of The United Church of Canada, “The Israelites were grumbling and complaining and I suspect their leadership didn’t always know what to do either.  And yet God did provide.  Sometimes the way God provides isn’t what we’re looking for, so maybe we have to be open to surprises and not be too anxious.  It’s hard not to be anxious.

I suspect the grumblings and the murmurings were based in Israelites’ fear and sense of loss. Thad that’s familiar to us.  Maybe we’re only at the beginning of what will be a long period in the wilderness for our church.

It’s not that you do nothing during that period.  But how do we decide what to do.  It seems to me that one of the things we do is stay in touch with the source of our strength.  For the Israelites, that was clearly God.  This is a really important thing and so I think prayer and remembering who we are will be essential to our survival.

We didn’t just come from nowhere.  We have roots.  We have ties with these Israelites, and all the others since, who have found themselves wandering in the wilderness.  So, I have this yearning to stay rooted.  But at the same time, I have to realize that a lot of what I’ve called familiar and a lot of what I’ve counted on may not be what God wants for us right now,” says Marion Best.

Our text from the Gospel of John provides an insight into the way in which Jesus and the early church used the Hebrew Scriptures – which of course were the only scriptures they had.  Most of us have heard and even have memorized the famous John 3:16 passage (“For God so loved the world that God gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”).  Yet, how many realize that these words are placed in the text immediately following the descriptions of Jesus as one who is lifted up by God in the same way that “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.”  Just as when Moses help up a staff with a bronze snake on it and all who were dying from snake bites were mysteriously healed when they looked on it with eyes of faith – so does Jesus’ death on the cross provide a similar gift of healing and wholeness for those who believe.  “By his wounds you have been healed,” said one early Christian writer (1 Peter 2:24).  By looking upon – and facing – an image of our greatest fear – death – God is able to release us from it through eternal life.  Thus, when we gaze upon the cross, we face our own fear and are reminded of the promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death.  For us as Christians the death and resurrection of Jesus puts a permanent seal upon this promise.  Talk about Good News!

How might you and I experience the bite of freedom?  How do we experience the healing message that sets us free?  Being on medical leave from November through to January taught me many lessons about God’s healing pathway.  I turned to as many different healing practices as I could, and built them into my daily pattern.  I swam which is both physically helpful but also a meditative practice.  Yoga is a particularly helpful breath work practice with meditation a central part of each session.  I utilized the skills of a counselor and Spiritual Director. I used tuning forks several times each day, to help centre myself.  I asked for prayer from friends and I know I was on several prayer lists.  I did a lot of reading.  That is some of what was helpful for me.  What you might need is possibly different.  Reading sacred books, long meditative walks, reading scripture, drumming, singing, walking a labyrinth, all are possible resources in your spiritual journey.

In his book “Running to Paradise”, R. Maurice Boyd tells of a sign which he noticed in a nursery one day.  It read “The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago.  The 2nd best time is today.”

The best time to have said “yes” to God voice was the 1st time we heard that voice.  The 2nd best time is today.  Let us say a clear “Yes” to our God.  Amen.





“Remembering What Was Said” – March 4, 2018

“Remembering What Was Said”

March 4, 2018 – Lent 3 – Year B


The other day I was looking at the list of swimming pool rules. It begins with “Thou shall not….”

  • run
  • dive in the shallow end
  • Swim with open wounds

And the list goes on.  Having grown up around swimming pools I long ago memorized those pool rules.  They are standard from swimming pool to swimming pool.  They are what keeps everyone safe and happy.

Such is true of the 10 Commandments.  10 simple statements that help to guide life.  If we all follow them, then life goes along smoothly.  To put it another way, we have been given 10 freedoms to grant us full life.  In the ancient Hebrew language these statements were likely 10 words.  The first 4 – 1) only 1 God – 2) no idols – 3) honour God’s name – 4) Sabbath – speak to our relationship with God and our bondage to self.   We are free to relate to one another with love, care and respect.  The remaining 6 freedoms speak to our relationships to others. 5) parents – 6) killing – 7) adultery – 8) stealing – 9) false witness – 10) coveting

Every faith tradition has some form of rules of life.  They are a list of how to live in a orderly and lovingly manner. The commandments offer a glimpse of the world that, in accordance with the promise, God will one day bring about.  One day there will not be murder, or stealing, or idolatry.  What a fabulous vision of the future.  What a way of freedom for all humanity.

We can imagine the Hebrew people having spent years in the wilderness and recently escaped from Egypt, needing direction for how they were to be in relationship.  No longer living as slaves, this new way of life calls for guidelines for freedom.

I hear people questioning if the 10 commandments have relevancy in 2018.  It seems to me that they might have more relevancy than ever before.  Living in a world of me first, and disregard for the sanctity of human life, I believe that we need a directive of valuing human life and embracing the dignity of all humanity.  The 10 commandments serve as a basis for non-exploitative relationships among one another.

Rather than being guilt inducing, these 10 freedoms liberate us to let go of consumerism, militarism, racism, and almost any word that ends with an “ism.”  Those gods, and others, truly enslave us by making us more selfish, greedy, and hurtful to others.  Putting God first sets us free to be the persons and community God intended.

I can’t imagine that God was first in the mind of the people in the temple when Jesus entered and saw the mayhem.   This gospel text, commonly called “Cleansing of the Temple,” presents a picture of Jesus, not mopping the floor with Pinesol as the title may suggest, but, turning the tables over.  Flipping out.  Getting royally ticked.  Getting angry.  It wasn’t that he was shocked about the moneychangers in the temple; he’s been to Jerusalem and the temple several times before.  But he saw that the Law of God, formulated in the Ten Commandments, had been reduced to rules and regulations.  So, where it was supposed to foster a right relationship between God and humanity, it had become just another means of exploitation.


If you have experienced St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church’s “Walk to Bethlehem,” you have walked the streets of an imaginary Israeli village and engaged with the market vendors.  It is noisy and congested.  Merchants trying to sell their wares, animals rubbing against you, and palm readers beckoning you to learn your life’s journey, all are vying for your money.  It is congested and noisy.  Money changers stand at the entrance of the temple and the poor beggars are huddled nearby seeking your spare change.  As you move further into the temple the stench is almost unbearable and the noise is a cacophony of shouting in multiple languages.  Goods are sold, ranging from straw brooms to beautiful bronze urns.

The Passover was near and Jesus returned to the Temple, with all its bustle leading up to the high holy day.  The corruption he saw there ignited the fires of his anger.

Bureaucrats changed the foreign currency that pilgrims brought from all over the known world into a common Temple coin, so that these pilgrims could then buy their animals for sacrifice at the Temple.  The exchange rate they charged was way out of line.  It was thievery upon the unsuspecting and helpless pilgrim.

Jesus looked wild, as he bodily tore into Jerusalem’s equivalent of our Stock Exchange, bringing it all to a halt.  To enter Jerusalem on a donkey was one thing.  To interrupt Temple commerce was quite another.  He had touched a raw nerve –  he had to die!

Have you ever been that angry?  Harriet G Lerner in her book The Dance of Anger states: “ Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.  Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right.  Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self – our beliefs, values, desires, or ambitions – is being compromised in a relationship.  Our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expense of our own competence and growth.  Just as physical pain tells us to take our hand off the hot stove, the pain of our anger preserves the very integrity of our self.  Our anger can motivate us to say “no” to the ways in which we are defined by others and ‘yes” to the dictates of our inner self.”

What causes Jesus to be angry today?  Is he angry when we fail to take seriously the degradation of the environment?  When we buy cheap products ignoring the company’s deplorable working conditions?  When it is still OK that Canadian women are paid 69 cents to a man’s dollar?  When many Indigenous Canadians living on reserves have unsafe drinking water? When sexual abuse destroys innocence?   Is Jesus angry when these situations continue?

Will we continue to support the Mission and Service fund so that these issues and causes will continue to be addressed?  Will we invest time in writing our M.P. letting him know our concern and asking that the government take action?  Will we invest time in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom?  Will we overturn the tables of indifference when we see injustice around us?

On this 4th Sunday of Lent we draw ever close to the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb.  Some of us are ready for Easter right now.  We want the lilies and other pretty flowers.   We are ready to live resurrection rather than introspection.  We would prefer not to journey this 6 weeks of Lent.  We really don’t want to have to examine the challenging directives of the 10 Commandments.  We’d rather not look at the issues that our righteous anger calls us to address.  But, here we are.  The 10 Commandments are our freedom, not our burden.  The temple is cleansed and we are called to follow Jesus.  Let that be so!  Amen.








“Covenants – Then and Now” – February 18, 2018

“Covenants – Then and Now”

February 18, 2018 – Year B – 1st Sunday in Lent

The 1930’s – 90th Anniversary Celebration

It was the fall of 1929 the Stock Market in London, England and in New York, USA plummeted to an unprecedented low.  The world fell into what came to be known as “The Great Depression.”  Drought in the prairies and countless men and women out of work set the scene for a decade that is often called “the dirty thirties.”

The fledgling United Church of Canada faced many challenges throughout this decade.  The place and role of women in the church was debated at General Council throughout the decade.  Two female students attended the Presbyterian Theological College in Saskatoon, now called St. Andrew’s College with Lydia Gruchy graduating first in her class with honours marks.  Following her graduation from seminary, she served churches among the Doukhabor people near Verigin Saskatchewan (near Kamsack), and then moved on to Wakaw United Church and Kelvington United Church,  both in Saskatchewan, performing all the tasks of ministry except the sacraments.  Finally, in 1936, Lydia Gruchy was Ordained a Minister of The United Church of Canada, becoming our first female Ordained minister.  Penticton United Church did not call a female minister until 1996 (60 years later) when Helen Stover Scott became our duly called minister.

The Church Board fully accepted women on the Board throughout the 1930’s.  Mrs. AA Swift, Mrs. Leslie, Mrs. Meldrum and Mrs. Standen were members of the board during this decade. 

During the 1920’s a team of musicians from across the country developed a hymnbook that was published in 1930.  The beloved blue Hymnary came into general use and was not replaced until 1971. In January 1931 a noon banquet was held costing 50 cents per person, with the proceeds going toward the purchase of the new blue Hymnary.  Dr. Oliver, Moderator of the United Church of Canada attended, along with representatives from area churches. 

Year-end statistics for 1931 show 9 baptisms, 9 marriages and 8 burials.  9 people were received by profession of faith, 23 by certificate (or today we would call it transfer from another denomination).  The Mission & Maintenance Fund (like our Mission &Service fund) reached its allocation of $1,400.00 with $18.00 surplus.  The 48-member Women’s Association raised $1,386.33 and the Sunday School and teachers numbered 327. 

Since last week was our annual meeting, you might be interested to know that in the 1930’s it was customary to open the AGM by the singing of the Doxology (which we will sing today as our offertory).  The meeting was chaired by the minister and usually held in the evening following a dinner provided by the Women’s Association.  The AGM closed with singing God Save the King in 1936 and 1937 and or O Canada in 1939 as well as a benediction.  Attendance at the 1936 AGM was 240 – 1938 was 300 – 1939 was over 400 and last week was 51.

Sunday School was an important and significant ministry of the church.  In reports of 1934 we learn that 380 children were on the role and an average attendance was 245 young ones.  Just imagine trying to manage that number of excited children in a limited space.  This is the time before our Christian Education wing was built.  I can’t help but think of the noise that this number of children would generate as they were squeezed into the narthex, the vestry, the choir room, and the big room (hall) that is downstairs.

In the July 1931 minutes, it contains the first, but far from the last, mention of acoustic problems in the church.  Does this sound familiar?

On the August 9, 1932 Quarterly Official Board meeting, the financial report to the end of June showed receipts of $1,295.83, expenditures of $1,266.48, balance of $9.35, but also liabilities of $305.00 still unpaid.  It was decided to have a drive of members and adherents to raise sufficient funds to cover the present liabilities and save any further appeals for the remainder of the year.

On October 24, 1933, the Treasurer reported a Balance of $10.76 with all salaries paid, but there was still something owing on the bank loan.  The envelope Steward reported that he had sent out quite a number of statements to those in arrears, but, did not have many responses.

Throughout these bleak years our forebears upheld the covenant made in 1928.  They were doggedly determined to handle finances judiciously.  They upheld the tenants of the original founding churches – The Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists.   They faithfully turned to scripture and sought guidance and wisdom. 

Surely one of the scriptures that was a guide was Genesis 9:8-17 that was read earlier.   This frequently told story of Noah and the rainbow tells the amazing tale of God’s covenant with all creation.  We encounter God as “One who Remembers.”  On this anniversary Sunday, we too remember.  We recall that God is to be honoured and praised.  We remember that the rainbow covenant is a lasting reminder that God is invested in us as individuals and collectively as a congregation.  It is a covenant of blessing to a fledgling church, back in the 1930’s and is a covenant of possibility to us in 2018.  The covenant is represented by many symbols – the rainbow, the cross, the Bible, and a candle.  May we remember God’s covenant is colour-blind.

Turning to our Gospel lection (Mark 1:9-15), we hear the dramatic account of Jesus’ baptism, his 40 days in the wilderness, John’s arrest and Jesus’ early preaching – all in six (6) verses!  A voice from heaven cries out, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  What greater proclamation is there?  “You are my Son.”  “You are my Daughter.”  What a lovely affirmation.  And then to be told, “With you I am well pleased.”  God says that over and over to each of us.  God is well pleased with you and with me and with all people everywhere.  Now, the challenge is to live up to that wonderful blessing.  I have a feeling that our foremothers and forefathers of the 1930’s church were encouraged and uplifted to hear this scripture passage proclaimed.

May we learn from the past, live with integrity in the present, and dream big for the future.  Amen.

Rev. Laura J. Turnbull

“Mountain and Valley Experiences” – February 11, 2018

“Mountain and Valley Experiences”

February 11, 2018 – Year B – Transfiguration Sunday – Annual Meeting


Imagine that a mountain is before you.  Jesus, Peter, James and John are climbing it.  You are itching to join them.  But, it is a venture that is for the 4 men only.  Much happens on this pilgrimage.  It is transformative.  In fact – it is transfiguring for Jesus.

With this story as our backdrop, I want to tell you about my experiences of worshipping in 3 unique congregations over the 3 months, November to January, that I was on medical leave.  The 3 churches presented 3 very different styles of worship.  All 3 services had a time in the worship service where you stood up and shook hands with one another.  All of them had greeters at the door who offered a warm welcome to everyone who entered.  However, in one of the churches that I worshipped in for 5 weeks, only 1 person came to me and introduced themselves.  It was a warm and friendly church on the surface, but when it came to inclusion. It fell very short.  The other 2 churches did a better job of welcome, but, failed to print in their order of service, or offer verbally, the directions in order to follow along in the service.  So, for a newcomer, one was lost.  2 of the churches offered services that ran an hour and 20 minutes to an 1 ½ hour and there seemed to be no concern about the length of the worship time.   It was only in 1 church that the sermon consistently tied in to our personal lives and gave us food for thought for being a little more faithful.  2 of the 3 churches had a music leader at a microphone in addition to the choir, assisting in the singing of the hymns. At one of the services, the choir got into a disagreement with the Choir Director and the tension was obvious throughout the service.  All 3 churches had a coffee time following the worship service.  I found it uncomfortable to attend unless someone personally invited me and asked me to sit with them.

I offer these reflections as feedback on our own worship experience.  What does a newcomer encounter when attending one of our worship services?  Is it a mountain-top pilgrimage with Jesus, or is it a dark valley time that is never to be repeated?  Do we honour Christ, God’s beloved, in the very best way possible?  Are we open to change, so that we might welcome the stranger, and listen with attentiveness?

I love transfiguration Sunday, for it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our mountain and valley experiences.  For us as a congregation, the fact that we are celebrating 90 years of faith-filled ministry is astounding.  I remember 2 years ago stating emphatically that we definitely would make it to 90 years actually shocking the persons with whom I was talking.  They were sure we would be closed by this time.  I believe we have experienced a mountain top high as we celebrated 4 adult baptisms in just over a year.  However, our valley has been deep as we have mourned the deaths of 17 friends and loved ones.  I had the privilege of standing with 4 jubilant couples as they married in 2017.  Our church has handed out nearly 400 bags of food to the hungry in our community, this past year.  We closed the year in a much better financial position than we anticipated, giving us hope and courage to continue doing the good works that we are called to do.  Several of you have welcomed great grand children into your hearts and lives.  Many of you are experiencing health challenges that are disturbing and frightening.  This leaves you vulnerable in ways you never anticipated.  It can feel like walking in a valley.  In all these realities, Christ walks with us.  Up the mountain and down in the deep valley we are not alone.  But – rest assured, that God’s voice heralding “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” is for us all to hear.  When we slow down long enough that we actually can pay attention to God’s murmurings, it is a glorious message.  When we open our hearts and spirits, there is a nudging that invites us to lean in and experience the wonder of God with us.

I have sat at the bedside of persons as they make the transition from life to death.  I am always astounded how I see the face of Christ as this transition takes place.  It is as if I am on a mountaintop and I have seen the power of God working in that experience. Each time, I am changed.  It is such a privilege.  So – even though we fear that our church – Big Blue – may be facing some big changes, we must not loose faith.  Perhaps we must die in our present form, so that we can resurrect in a new form.  Possibly we may have to look seriously at shared ministry, or some kind of amalgamation.  Might we look at taking on a new focus in our ministry?  In a couple of minutes, we will begin our Annual Meeting.  Let us go into it with hearts, minds, and spirits open to the possibilities that are before us.  Let us be gentle with one another.  Let us venture up the mountain and descend into the valley, knowing that Christ walks with us.  Amen.




“As For Me and My House” – November 5, 2017

          “As For Me and My House”

                          November 5, 2017 – 22nd Sunday after Pentecost – Year A


Students of Canadian literature no doubt remember Sinclair Ross’s book “As For Me and My House”.  This classic story has been described as one of Canada’s greatest novels.  It explores life in the drought belt of Saskatchewan as experienced by the Bentley’s.  One commentator suggests “in this 2 fold study, Ross describes the barrenness of the West through the varying effects on the consciousness of a man and a woman who long to escape the taboos of their small prairie town.   In its depth of insight this book has become a classic in Canadian literature.”

For his first sermon in the small town of Horizon, Phillip Bentley preaches on the Hebrew Scripture text of Joshua 24 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Reading this story we are drawn into the complex and yet barren realities of life for a country preacher and his wife.  The tension between faithfulness and despair is evident in every phrase.   This story, that many of us studied in school, is an effective backdrop as we examine our call to serve God.

“As for my family and me, we will serve God.”  That is a pretty dramatic pronouncement, isn’t it?  “As for me, I will serve God” is the commitment I made with my confirmation many years ago.  To commit oneself to the challenge and opportunity of serving God is a big step of faith.  Yet each and every day countless people are prepared to direct their lives in such a way that God is honoured.

And that is exactly what the ancient Israelites were called to do.  It is a story about choice.  So let’s stop for a few minutes and examine the text.  Today’s lection is a formal ritual or dialogue between Joshua – who represents God – and Israel.    In this text, we are reminded that God had acted on the promise of salvation and as a result Israel was being forced to decide whether or not to follow God.  The choice, though,  was anything but casual or easy.  The difficulty of the option is underscored in the structure of the passage as well as by its language.   In hearing the passage, we recognize legal overtones as we today are challenged to make a choice.  This is an effective discourse in that God’s past acts of salvation are recounted before the scene shifts to a current time.  In bringing the context to the present the people of Israel were confronted with the need to make a clear decision to follow God.   Some might say that the choice was a “no brainer”.  What is clear is the preference was obvious and Israel responded affirmatively to the question of following God.  But, it was as if Israel’s decision was too casual for Joshua, and a whole new cycle started yet again.  Later in our text Joshua confronted Israel with the need and danger of making a choice to enter into covenant with God.  And once again the people express their will to follow God.  Using the tools of language, it was explained why the whole process was repeated.

Needless to say – this account is challenging and even troubling.  There seems to be no room for compromise.  But – as we reflect on this time in the history of the Israelite people, it is clear that a significant decision was being called for.  The people were offered three choices as to whom they would follow and honour: 1) God –  2) the gods of the ancestors in the region beyond the River – 3) the gods of the Amorites in whose land they were living.

In today’s language the 3 choices are: to remain faithful, to revert to the past, or to blend in with the surrounding culture.  When we put it in this kind of language, we may well feel that Joshua was describing our own situation with uncomfortable accuracy.

And then Joshua uttered powerful words that speak to us across the millennia.  Stating his own decision Joshua says “as for me and my family, we will serve God.”  I can’t help wondering what our world would look like if each of us who commit ourselves to serving God really did try to live as God would have us.  Would we affirm one another rather than tear others apart?  Would our care and concern be visible and audible – with tender words, unsolicited acts of kindness, genuine affirmations?  Would we continually ask ourselves, “is this just?”  All of that and much more is how I understand serving God.

You have to admire Joshua.  In the midst of much stress he was determined to make sure that the Israelites knew what kind of God they had pledged themselves to serve.  Joshua told the people that they could not serve God, because God is separate and holy, and that the choice in favour of following God could be very dangerous.  Fear was planted, with the suggestion that if the people failed to live up to their obligations, God might do them harm.

To understand God in this way reminds me of a cartoon in the New Yorker.  The setting is a large office with a secretary at a desk.  Another figure is walking past her toward a huge closed door.  As this person prepares to knock on the door, he turns to the secretary with an anxious look and asks, “Is he the God of the Old Testament or the New Testament this morning?”

To understand God as vengeful and unforgiving is chilling.  It is no wonder that the people of Israel were quick to agree to serve God.  They were scared.  They did not know God as loving and compassionate – but instead knew God as punishing and spiteful.  As we sit here in the comfort of this sanctuary, we too must ask ourselves, “who is the God that we serve?”  “What is God really like?”

Last week, while off on Study Leave, I re-read a number of thought provoking books by Bishop John Spong.  Bishop Spong believes that we are an exile people who will be accompanied by God into barren and unfamiliar places.  Rather than experiencing God as punitive and judgemental in the Hebrew Scripture sense, Spong understands God as companion into the exile and judge for the way of true justice.  Spong reminded us that if we truly seek to follow the way of God, we must be prepared to be different and direct our lives so that the oppressed and hurting are validated and find wholeness.

I’m impressed with Bishop Spong’s candour.  It is his contention that Christianity as we know it today must change radically or else it will be extinct in the not too distant future.  We can’t cling to time honoured creeds, hymns and traditions at the expense of a living faith that loves extravagantly and seeks justice for the oppressed.

I don’t think Joshua of old would argue against this position.  In fact, I believe that Joshua, in stating “as for me and my family, we will serve God” is telling all that he had made a choice to direct his full being in the way of faithfulness.

Those who are involved in 12 step programs say that you must “walk the walk and talk the talk”.   In other words we must be intentional in choosing to let go of false idols and security.  Instead we are to replace the god of money with the true God who grants strength to support the vulnerable.  Rather than giving lip service to the way of peace, we are to direct our lives so that our homes are filled with tolerance, understanding and compassion.  We are called to be a visible alternative to the ways of the world.

I for one, am committed to serving God.  What about you?  Are you prepared to offer yourself and those you love to the way of love, justice and new life?  Will you join me in honouring God in work and play and relaxation?  Will you throw caution to the wind and make the choice to live as God’s faith filled people?  “As for me, I will serve God.”  Amen.

“It’s Party Time” – October 15, 2017

“It’s Party Time”
October 15, 2017 – Year A – 19th Sunday after Pentecost


Last weekend many of us gathered with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It was like we were in the midst of a joyous party.  Great food.  Wonderful company.  Lots of stories were told.  For me, not only did I host a Thanksgiving Dinner, I also presided at a wedding.  So, it was double the fun!

Jesus tells a rather confusing story, or parable about a wedding banquet.  Food was made ready for cooking.  And so, the meal was prepared.  But horror of horrors, the invited guests didn’t show up.  The King’s slaves were sent out to find the guests.  But the slaves were seized and killed.  Enraged, the King sent his troops to destroy the murderers.  Then more slaves were sent into the city to find guests who would fill the hall.  Then, to make the story even more confusing, the King enters the hall and spots a man who is not wearing a wedding robe.  Speechless, the man ends up bound –  hands and feet, and thrown into the outer darkness.  “Many are called, but few are chosen,” so ends the tale.

This parable is full of allegory.  The King represents God, giving a banquet for the Son, the Messiah.  The people of the streets are the new Christians community – both Gentiles and Jews, who claim to be followers of Christ, but whose actions say otherwise. They are the people who throughout the ages have ignored the prophets and leaders who serve God.   The required “robe”, which the guest who was cast out does not have, is righteousness – the behaviour befitting someone who claims Jesus as Leader.  It is a warning to all who hears this tale, that no one can presume by virtue of their identity – or their baptism – their place in God’s great feast.

Let’s take a deep breath and slowly figure out what this parable means for us 21st century followers of God’s way of love, joy and celebration.  It is party time.  Even in the midst of catastrophic events happening all around the world, God want to throw a party.  You and I and the people who hang out in our stair-wells, and the children in our play-share program, and the Narcotics anonymous members who meet at noon hour, are all invited.  God wants people who are intentionally living the way of kindness, who speak truth – not gossip, who seek out others to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ, and who are filled with grace.  They are the ones who are robed with joy and righteousness.  There is a place for all of these people at the banquet that God is hosting.

In one of my previous congregations, there was a fellow from the community who came to every funeral service held at the church.  He sat through the service and then joined us in the hall for the reception.  Over the time I was at that church, I learned that this man came to the services, not to pay respect to the deceased or their family, but because he loved to eat and visit with others.  He loved to be in community.  He couldn’t afford our fund-raising dinners, but he sure loved our funeral receptions!

As I wrote this message I had the song “Cabaret” by Liza Minneli, playing in my head.  The words are this:

What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, old chum
Come to the cabaret

Put down the knitting, the book and the broom
It’s time for a holiday
Life is a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret

Come taste the wine
Come hear the band
Come blow that horn
Start celebrating right this way
Your table’s waiting

What could permitting some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away
Life is a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret.

God’s kingdom is a party.  It’s a celebration beyond any celebration we have ever seen.  We are not in charge of the celebration.  It’s Jesus’ party.  Jesus can invite whomever he wants.  The Pharisees had a problem with the kinds of people Jesus hung out with.  That should not be our problem.  “God is not looking for warm bodies.  God is looking for wedding guests who will rise to the occasion of honouring the Son.” (Barbara Brown Taylor).

Let’s remember that in the midst of hard times, God calls us to a wedding banquet.  Please respond joyfully- thankfully – faithfully!  Amen.







“Is it Thanks Giving or Giving Thanks?” – October 8, 2017

“Is it Thanks Giving or Giving Thanks?”
October 8, 2017 – Thanksgiving Sunday – Year A


Growing up in Calgary, it was my family’s tradition to spend the thanksgiving weekend raking leaves.  Saturday was a full day of raking and bagging the leaves.  On Sunday morning, I would walk by myself to church while my Mom and Dad and sister were attending a competitive swim meet.  Once the swim meet was over, it was homeward bound and Linda and I and our Dad would get to work finishing off raking the leaves.  Mom was inside preparing a chicken or small turkey for our family meal.  Monday was more raking.

We didn’t have much by way of family tradition concerning this day of giving thanks.  We had a family meal, complete with pumpkin pie to finish the meal.  Ours was not a family who went around the table and asked what you were thankful for this year.  We didn’t think about giving a food hamper to those less fortunate then ourselves.  We didn’t give an extra thank offering to the church, likely because, I was the only one of our family who regularly went to church.

Once I moved to St. Catharines Ontario and worked for the YMCA I spent many thanksgiving weekends working.  So, there was no turkey and pumpkin pie in those days.  It wasn’t until I went to seminary that we as students pooled our resources and invited those who were at loose ends on Thanksgiving Sunday to gather for a potluck supper, usually at my home.

It was when I was Ordained and began serving in churches that I became aware that there are many folk, like myself who are single or in partnership and crave to be together with others so they might give thanks for God’s abundance.  And so, I started the tradition of inviting folk to my table for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Sundays.  Anyone who is on their own, either as a single, double or in-between is invited.  I am richly blessed that I can share good food, interesting conversation, and lovely friendship.

What are your memories of Thanksgiving weekend from earlier days?  Did you have traditions that you still follow?  What new traditions have you incorporated into your way of honouring this special weekend?  This church has the tradition of decorating the chancel with harvest fruits, vegetables and grasses.  This weekend it is extra special as the 2 bouquets on the communion table are there from yesterdays wedding of Cory Nelmes and Joseph Burt.

Another tradition of churches like ours is reading the story from Deuteronomy of the abundance that God provided to the Israelite people as well as listening to the amazing account of the healing of a group of lepers while Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  Without these two beloved accounts, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same.

Both lections remind us of the gratefulness we feel as we respond to God’s abundance.  It is natural to turn and say thanks when one feels blessed.  However, that leaves us pondering why the other people who were cured of leprosy didn’t stop and express gratitude?  Admittedly, they were a group of outsiders, a group from Samaria.  They were despised.  The Samaritans were culturally inferior, theological and liturgical heretics.

The story of the 10 lepers is a puzzling one.  One minute they were shouting “have mercy on us” and the next they were making tracks out of sight.  All except one, that is.  One realized he was healed and turned toward Jesus, falling at Jesus’ feet.  Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You!  He gratefully praised Jesus.

Jesus was rather astounded that only one person expressed his appreciation.  “Where are the others, questioned Jesus?”  Then Jesus said an interesting thing, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

It would seem that gratitude has something to do with faith.  We know that although he was an outsider, he never-the-less was filled with thankfulness.  For Jesus to say, “your faith has made you well” implies that faith and gratitude are closely related.  Faith without gratitude is no faith at all.  There is something lifegiving about gratitude.  We see that wellness, wholeness, and salvation are used in the Bible almost interchangeably.  So, it might have been that Jesus said, “your faith has made you whole”, or “your faith has saved you”.

John Buchanan, an American theologian, suggests “being grateful and saying thank you are absolutely at the heart of God’s hope for the human race and God’s intent for each of us.”  Medical research points to evidence that grateful people take better care of themselves, and that gratitude is a stress reducer.  New studies point to grateful people being more hopeful and have an improved immune system.

This wonderful story of 10 of God’s precious people points us to a world of thankfulness.  One person was so grateful that he turned to Jesus and cried out Thank You.  The remaining 9 were also healed, but we have no record of them giving thanks.  Perhaps they still saw themselves as lepers, rather than whole, giving, grateful people.

What does this say to us, some 2000 years later.  I see many folk holding back their “thank you’s” as if there was a ration.  Rather than being generous and grateful, we respond briskly and coldly.  If we were to slow down, look around and see who can be thanked, our community will be a much happier one.  Many years ago, I was part of an organization that started a campaign entitled “kindness grows.”  We wore green lapel pins with the phrase “kindness grows” on it.  The objective was to live out ways of being kind.  It was amazing how many ways that kindness was expressed.

So, why don’t we each commit ourselves to be a little more thankful.  Let us act in ways that express gratitude.  May we mirror God’s wondrous grace.  Let us give, over and over again, generously.

Karl Barth, one of the great theologians of all time, was fond of saying that the basic human response to God is gratitude – not fear and trembling, not guilt and dread, but thanksgiving.  “What else can we say to what God gives us but to stammer praise?”

Writer Anne Lamott says her 2 favorite prayers are, in the morning, “Help me.  Help me.  Help me.  And at bedtime, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”

On this Thanksgiving weekend, may we give thanks for God’s great abundance.  May are giving be generous, our loving be extravagant, and our thanks be genuine.  Amen.


“Called to Be the Church – Sing Thanksgiving – Part 4” October 1, 2017

“Called to Be the Church – Sing Thanksgiving – Part 4”
October 1, 2017 – World Wide Communion – Year A

A man was looking for a good church to attend, and he happened to enter one in which the congregation and the preacher were reading from their prayer book.  They were saying, “We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things we ought not to have done.”   The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, “Thank goodness, I’ve found my crowd at last.”

Here it is, World Wide Communion Sunday.  It is also our final day of our “Called to be the Church:  We Sing Thanksgiving” stewardship program.  It is a day where we sit into our pew and gather with our crowd, both near and far.  We raise our voices in thanksgiving, for this church and the people who make it home.  We rejoice that we share the bread and wine with Christians around the world, celebrating the unity of being followers of Jesus the Christ.

Since August we have been peaking inside the financial side of being church.  We have examined the real costs of running this church.  We have grappled with the challenges of hearing the gospel call of caring for sisters and brothers in need.  And in so doing, we have heard about the work of the Mission and Service fund.  We have stared in the face of our operating deficit and have celebrated the diverse ministries that Penticton United Church is known for throughout the community.  For the first time in 6 years we have devoted a block of time so that we might examine our financial story.

Although money talk is often an uncomfortable conversation, it is one we have engaged in with courage.  We are a congregation who is bold and brave.  For 89 years we have addressed the timeless question of “how can we keep our doors open and be the church that God calls us to be?”  Over those 89 years we have had teas and bake sales, fund raising meals and yard sales, talent shows and concerts, all to keep our doors open.  For 89 years we have pleaded with the members to please give more.

Here we are, October 1, 2017 and we have about 220 people who are on our membership list.  These are people who believe in the mission and ministry of Penticton United Church.  Together – we worship, pray, sing, do healing touch, ring the hand bells, support one another, maintain the building, and give God praise.  Like our ministry partners around the world, we believe that through Christ all things are possible.  Christ models for us the way of meeting naysayers.  Christ shows us that when facing opposition, we are to turn the other cheek.  Christ lived for a new tomorrow.

That is the message of today’s scripture reading.  The Apostle Paul asks the congregation to examine its life together and make some important choices.  Scholars tell us that Paul was concerned about some missionaries who had come to Philippi in his absence and whose teachings were causing problems.  He asks his listeners to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but to act in the interests of others.  He asks them to choose the same mind or attitude Christ had.  He describes this humble attitude by reciting the words of an early Christian hymn.

As we reflect on this scripture passage, we recognize that God is made known through kindness, compassion, and humility. It is through our vulnerability and humility that Christ’s power is most clearly revealed.  I can’t help but think of our Christian friends in parts of the world where they must walk for hours to reach the closest Christian gathering.  For many of them, they walk along singing “Blessed Assurance” and other revered gospel hymns.  They will be raising the bread and cup to their lips as they share the sacred meal.  Can we do any less?  Will we continue to tell the faith story long into the future?

“What I do, you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.  The needs are great and none of us, including me, ever do great things.  But, we can do small things with great love, and together, we can do something wonderful. (Mother Teresa)

Let us do something wonderful, as we celebrate.  We sing thanksgiving with voices of gratitude.  We share humbly and generously!  Amen.




“Called ‘To Be the Church – Part Three” – September 24, 2017

“Called ‘To Be the Church – Part Three”

September 24, 2017 – Year A – 16th Sunday after Pentecost

2 weeks ago, Sarah gave a wonderful testimonial as to why she supports the church financially.  She identified the diverse programs and activities the church offers.  She went on to talk about the many user groups who meet at our church and how bereft they would be without a safe meeting space.  She encouraged us to support the Mission and Service fund, reminding us that the leadership training events, the support to global partners, and the grants to outreach programs like First United Church in the downtown east-side of Vancouver are all supported by our donations to the Mission and Service fund.

Last week Gordon told us about his 3 years of working amongst the people of Bella Bella.  He pointed out that the Mission and Service fund gave an operating grant to the medical and dental clinic that he and Luanne worked at.  Without that financial support, the people of that Northern community would not have received the preventative and restorative dental care that Gordon offered.  He talked about the float planes bringing in patients to the clinic, all thanks to the Mission and Service fund.

Both Sarah and Gordon shared why they continue to support the Mission and Service fund.  Any one who has been to Naramata Centre has experienced first hand the benefit of a Mission and Service fund support grant.  Naramata Centre has re-opened after being closed for a few years.  This past year it was able to operate with a small profit.  The grant from the Mission and Service fund ensures that leadership development receives a high priority in the United Church of Canada.

Any Minister trained at a United Church theological college has been the beneficiary of the Mission and Service fund.  The support given to theological colleges ensures that students are well trained in the various techniques, biblical understandings, United Church ethos, and ministry skills in preparation to pastoral and educational ministry. 

Approximately 1/5 of the nearly $25 million raised each year supports global programs and justice work.  Helping partners on urgent issues such as water security, access to human rights, and justice initiatives, as well as responding to humanitarian crises, all come from yours and my donations to the Mission and Service Fund.  Emergency response to the Caribbean disaster has happened thanks to the M&S fund.  As soon as needs were identified, the United Church sent immediate aid to the devastated areas.  Donations designated specifically for hurricane relief will be over and above the early response of the M&S fund.

If you are a student away at a university likely you have seen a sign on the wall inviting you to a group sponsored by the Spiritual Care department.  The chaplain on campus works with students helping them to find community, support, and grounding.  Some of the chaplaincies across Canada are M&S fund supported.

Indigenous and non-indigenous persons experience M&S supported programs of advocacy, food security, employment training, and summer camps.  A number of indigenous United Church congregations receive Mission Support grants, which come from the Mission and Service fund.

Support to congregations that are seeking to change is enabled through a program called EDGE.  Coaches, mentors and resource material is available.  As we are in a time where the existing way of being church is not working, new initiatives are necessary.  The EDGE Network and the Embracing the Spirit program is available for churches who are willing to risk trying new ways of doing ministry.  Financial grants and programming support are available, thanks to the Mission and Service Fund.  Many congregations who recognize that they will not be in existence 10 years from now are turning to the EDGE Network for help in redefining themselves so that they might have a vital, new ministry long into the future.

The Mission and Service fund supports 13 Conferences as they provide leadership and resources to presbyteries.  BC and Toronto Conferences have generously returned their M&S grants so they can be shared with the 11 other Conferences.  BC Conference has been richly blessed with many bequests, and therefore can support many courses and events with reduced costs and grants to participants.   All the work of BC conference including the cost of staffing is covered by the money held in trust.

So, why do I donate to the Mission and Service Fund?  I donate because I believe in the work it supports.  I am proud to know that in the event of a crisis in some part of the world, the United Church immediately releases money from the Disaster Relief portion of the M&S fund and directs it to the Mennonite Central Committee for fast response.   I have attended probably close to 100 United Church sponsored workshops.  They would have been much more expensive had they not been partially funded by the Mission and Service fund.  I was educated at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon, a theological education site of the United Church of Canada.  I have served on Presbytery, Conference and General Council committees – all which have been supported by the Mission and Service fund.  Half of my offering goes to the local church fund and half goes to the Mission and Service fund.  That is how much I believe in it.

One of the many reasons I chose to apply and subsequently come to this church as your Minister, was its strong support to the Mission and Service Fund.  In 2010, the year I came to minister among you, we gave just under $27,000 to the M&S fund.  Our total givings that year was $251,139.  We gave 10.75% of our givings to the M&S fund.  That is impressive!  I knew I wanted to be part of a congregation that had the broader church as its priority.

I want to now share a couple of clarifications from the last 2 weeks sermons.  From 2 week’s ago I mentioned about the cost of gas and electricity.  It is $102 per person for the year.  When I calculated the amount, I multiplied rather than divided, giving you an inaccurate number.  And last week, in taking about tithing, folks were talking at coffee time and wondered if including donations to other charities could be included in one’s calculation of a tithe.  My response is most definitely.   Today, many charities are doing the work that previously was done only by the church.  It seems reasonable that we include the donations to other charities in our tithe.  At this past week’s study group, some of the participants felt that the emphasis on tithing over-shadowed the point I was trying to make concerning intentional giving.  I was trying to say that we are challenged to look at our offering in an intentional way rather than simply giving the loose change that is in our purse or pocket.

With those clarifications made, let’s look at our gospel text and discern its truth as we are called to be the church.  As you listened to Patti tell the parable of the landowner and the labourers, you likely found yourself thinking, “heh, that’s not fair.”  The question of just what is sufficient and what is abundant permeates this story.  In the commonwealth of God, everyone receives enough because God’s grace, not human effort, is the source of blessing and life.  This is the philosophy of the Mission and Service fund.  Grace upon grace is poured out to those in need.

The large church in downtown Winnipeg that reaches out to the LGBT community, the Newfoundland education initiative, and the part-time mission among the Aboriginal of the West Coast all receive M&S grants.  Perhaps it seems unfair that the grants are not larger.  However, the grace of God is so amazingly radical that all are blessed.  God’s generosity along with your abundance brings Good News to all.

This 3 part look at stewardship has enabled us to examine some of the facets of our giving.  Next week we will celebrate.  There is much to celebrate.  So, stay tuned.  Amen.