Our Purpose and Mission Statement

Working to build God's dream. Help wanted!

We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Monday, 13 August 2012

The bread of life - Homily

August 12 2012

Ephesians 4: 15 – 5: 2  Paul offers us a vision of a new way of life
John 6: 35, 41 – 51  Jesus is the bread of life

Today we have two scriptures that Speak of what the life in Christ is all about.

1. New way of life
Last weekend I spoke to full little rural church on the occasion of our village’s 100 years celebration. I talked about history but also about what makes community. You need a dose of willing to share and contain anger and offer forgiveness and I have experienced that in the community when I was growing up. Our municipality even predated Medicare when it hired a municipal doctor in the 40’s. So the community spirit of those days survives yet. But as I was standing beside my grade 12 group I remember the bully of the group and actually smiled because he has gone through a lot too and there is only the present to content us.

One of the issues Paul raised in this letter was honesty and really isn’t the lack of it which breaks community and even breaks the economies of many countries in the world. In personal and community life I believe honesty could heal many wounds. I love that verse that says “do not [let] the sun go down while you are still angry”, yet that is very difficult to practice. Even Jesus got angry but it didn’t last long. It is a great passage about a healthy way to live being compassionate and kind and walking in the way of love. The way for community to thrive is the way for us to thrive as persons and find a healthy way to see ourselves in a better light and to cultivate those habits of forgiveness and compassion.

Would that business and government and banks try this out too for it makes for a healthy and thriving economy. I have heard that now in accounting courses honesty raw and true honesty is taught and stressed even more today. We are not left alone with this task of self and community renewal we have help.

2. Our gospel story from john follows from the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus used the image of himself and the bread of life. My brothers have a bread maker and in the past and in the winter they often use it. Coming into the house and smelling the bread they often would take it out, put something on it and eat the whole soft and delicious loaf. Now if only we had fresh bread here we wound be tempted to do the same. This is the fragrance Paul talked about. Jesus is the bread of life. He faced a doubtful crowd who knew where he came from but he knew of their spiritual hunger which compares to our bodily hunger but is harder to fulfill. In Jesus time people used bread for cutlery they ate other food using the bread to pick it up as they often do today in Ethiopia. Jesus is that wrap which holds us together and helps us have a new fresh and kinder life. He offers this and we can find our inspiration and way from him. Often a few minutes a day in prayer can focus us on what is really important and we can offer to Jesus our struggles and feelings and ask for the gifts that will renew us and give us some of the energy and delight of the Spirit to get us through the summer and fall as the harvest comes in. I saw bumper crops in the west so much so that new bins are being sold and farmers are facing a storage problem if they cannot sell it right away. Well perhaps as we facing a new pastoral year in Glen Rhodes might find our bumper crop of the gifts of community, compassion and forgiveness.

While the summer is still with us and the taste of the Danforth continues today let is remind us of the spiritual bread offered to us by our Saviour and how it can meet our inmost need.

3. Home
The other theme I explored while away was the notion of home, we all sense a nostalgia for home and often return to places we came from or places we lived. I went back to the hospital where I was born in England a few years ago. I just wanted to see it but I went to see the chaplains in order to make it seem a visit to discuss mutual concerns. The reality is that once we leave home we can go back but it is never the same. That is the surprise of the invitation of Jesus to find that this is our true home and the home we really seek, our spiritual home is as close as the Christian community we are part of, we know our true home and we know it is only a prayer, and act of acceptance and kindness away. This is not a kind of spiritual retreat but rather an engaged place to be which encourages us and nurtures and gives us courage for the living in our time and place. An old saying says home is where the heart is and we know that is somewhat true. We also know there were some homes which were unpleasant and the memories of them were hurtful. This home where Jesus is the bread of life and where we are expected and loved and where we find our true selves fed on this food of life and hope and joy – the bread of home, the bread of heaven, the bread that gives us life and the reason to live and be part of the great fellowship of God’s people. This is really our home!

Loving and God we pray for the ways of a love that makes us more fully human and caring. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Saviour Amen

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Pointy Questions - Sermon Aug. 5, 2012

“Pointy questions”
August 5, 2012
by Robin Wardlaw

Pentecost 10, Year B
Readings: 2 Samuel 11:26–12:13a; Psalm 51:1–12; Ephesians 4:1–16; John 6:24–35
Pointy questions. The questions that make you squirm. Sometimes they make me squirm even if I’m hearing them directed at someone else. "Coach, if you knew about the abuse of little boys by your assistant, why didn’t you do something?" "You used to denounce this is the kind of thing when you were in opposition. Why are you doing the very same thing now that you’re in government?" "Where did the money go?"
Nathan goes about asking his very pointy question indirectly. The king has scandalized his court. Adultery is one thing. But David has arranged it so that Bathsheba’s hubby Uriah dies in battle. Who will speak truth to power, and how will they go about it?
Your maj, just suppose someone with great power abused his power at the expense of a much poorer person. What should happen to that person? When Nathan puts the hypothetical situation to him, he evokes the side of David that is on the side of the downtrodden. David has farmed. He knows how tough it is to protect sheep. So he comes down on the side of the poor farmer in the story. Then he collapses when he realizes he has pronounced judgment on his own behaviour. The key to the story is David’s own sense of morality.
When Gandhi and the other resistance leaders urged a nation to stand against an imperial power back in 1947, he suspected he would provoke British authorities into atrocious acts of repression. This was his plan. It was horrified British public opinion that led to independence for India, then, not armed rebellion in India. That had been tried, back in the 1857 so-called Indian Mutiny. Like Nathan, Gandhi held up a mirror and asked, Is this you? Do you like what you see? If it only an oppressor could always be shamed into letting go when a people is trying to get its freedom.
Jesus often asks the pointy question, but in today’s reading he’s on the receiving end. "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?" (John 6:30) Come on, prove it. Let’s see. Do your stuff. No hint about Jesus’ response. Did he smile? Did his forehead crease and his mouth turn down? Did his breathing change?
A conversation such as this may have taken place. The gospel writer may be quoting things that were actually said. Or, this may be a way to frame a discussion going on seventy years after Jesus’ death in the gospel writer’s own faith community. It could be that the Jesus community was getting tired of waiting for the big change to come. Hope had been raised and dashed repeatedly over the decades. Where was the reign of justice and peace? Is our faith a crock? Give us a sign, that we may see it and believe.
This is still a pointy question for Christians. What’s the hold up here? We like to compose questions for others, and that’s a good thing. Many questions are needed about why things are the way they are, why we haven’t turned some important corners as a nation, as a planet. We need to be ready to hear questions addressed to us, too.
There is a great deal of outrage directed at places like this and people like us these days, as you may know. Some long ago chickens have come home to roost, at last, and they set us back. How to explain what other generations did in the name of the gospel? We can do it. We can think things through and see the church and faith as others see us. We can do this in our lives, too. We need to listen to our inner Nathans. We need to acknowledge when the awkward questions are making us squirm, and we have no defense for actions, or our inaction, as the case may be.
Our faith is certainly vital, still, today. This church and thousands, millions of others respond to the needs of our time the way Jesus responded to the hungers of his. But wouldn’t it be nice not to have to respond to critics because there was so little to criticize?
Create in me a clean heart, O God. One of those prayers that falls from our lips without too much trouble. The psalm is supposedly one of David’s. Whoever it was, he or she is doing the important inner emotional housework. Trying to get to a better place. It happens for people. It happens all the time, as people accept that they can be forgiven. Remember our first hymn? “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.”
A whole church might be able to do this. There might be enough grace lying around that a church like the United Church can contemplate our failings without trying to defend ourselves, or pass the blame. The spotlight will be on the United Church in the next couple of weeks as General Council meets. Lots of pointed questions coming up. This congregation has done a good deal of this work on a clean heart over the past two years with Rev. Kim. It frees us to follow Jesus.
And that’s where the gospel lesson is a good one. Those people in the story chasing Jesus around the countryside seemed to want a kind of spiritual insurance plan, an OHIP for the soul. Or maybe the gospel writer is just painting them in a bad light. But there is still truth there. Following the way of Jesus is not exactly the easy path, not exactly a walk in the park. Jesus was trying to get people to see that their question was not the best one they could ask. Still true, all these years later. The John reading makes it plain that the good question is, What are you really hungry for? Do you want signs of power, or that which sustains?
We don’t live the life of faith because it’s easy.  We do it because it’s hard. Pointy questions come, sometimes directed at us. Sometimes we have to ask them. We need bread for this journey, and that’s what our next hymn is about. (“Bread of Life, Feed My 
Soul,” More Voices 194)