In this season of both Lent and COVID-19, we don’t want to lose sight of the true and much needed source of hope. Jesus is victorious over the worst this world can throw at us. When I (Pastor Jim) made Breaking New Ground the theme for 2020, I had no idea that we would be thrust into the fluid and frightening realities of a pandemic. I am therefore revising my preaching plans to focus on this sudden new event. Note that while we are no longer physically gathering together, we have not cancelled church – we are the church and we will continue to find expression in new ways. Please join us online.
May 31: Laughter (Psalm 126) Jesus is and calls us to be the light of the world. There are many ways for that to happen. Sometimes we can brighten and lighten the mood with a sense of humour. Don’t you enjoy a good laugh? We hope to bring a little levity into a heavy time.May 24: May Day (John 3:16-21 & 2 Peter 3) May day, may day is distress signal. Every day people and nations send out prayers and pleas for help. Jesus came and comes in response to these petitions. On this day in May, we are going listen and respond to the distress signals around us.
May 17: Groaning for a Better Day (Romans 8:18-39) The world is a magnificent and beautiful place. Well, almost. It has its flaws and troubles. It is the same with our lives. We are promised a better day – and it just can’t seem to come fast enough. In the wait, we groan, yes, but so much more. Can we live tomorrow, today?
May 10: Don’t Mess with My Mom (Isaiah 49:15) Happy Mother’s Day. I trust we are all grateful for our mothers. We are going to look at something rarely considered. We will look at the mothering qualities and images used in the Bible to describe God’s committed love. These images will be instructive and empowering.
May 3: Strange Land (Psalm 137 & Jeremiah 29:4-14) The consequences of persistent rebellion against God and chronic unfaithfulness was exile. The people found themselves forcibly displaced to a strange place – a foreign country. Psalm 137 captures their utter sense of being lost. The prophet Jeremiah receives and delivers his response to their prayer. It is instructive for us as we navigate our current crisis and the strange place we find ourselves.
April 26: Wilderness (select passages from Numbers, Deuteronomy 29:5-6) Bad enough with the pandemic, but the senseless mass murder spree in Nova Scotia this week has left us, in the words of someone close to the scene, “shattered”. Last weeks message on lament was happening in the midst of it and gives us a model for prayer in our own horror at this carnage and crisis. It is an uncomfortable wilderness into which we have been thrown. I hope today’s message will help us. We look at the 40-year Israelite wandering in a wilderness of their own. Learn how God made himself evident and present to them.
April 19: Spring (Lamentations 3: 10-26 & Isaiah 55:10-13) We are in the middle of spring and we are seeing the end of winter grey and the arrival of the green and colour of spring. These signs of new life should encourage us. They remind us of the promises of God realized and his renewing actions of grace.
April 12: Hope (Titus 2:11-14) In troubling times a light at the end of the tunnel helps. It points to the end of the trial and a brighter future. For some this can feel like wishful thinking but for the followers of Christ it is a sure thing. We have a hope rooted in the resurrection of Christ, his Kingdom come and his promised return. This has huge implications on how we live today.
April 10 – Good Friday: A Thorny Situation (John 19:1-16) We see just how far Jesus went, to enter and absorb the pain and brokenness of our world. Isaiah 53: 5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” This is good news in a time of spreading pain.
April 5 – Palm Sunday: Faith over Fear (Luke 19:28-44) The day Christ rose into Jerusalem was a time of celebration, praise and prayer. It was also a time imminent danger and fear. In our time of disease and dis-ease. When uncertainty and crisis are the new normal, it is natural to be afraid. As people of faith, can we rise above the fear and put our faith in practice?
March 29: Lessons of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Mark 10:17-31) In a time when people are called to and even forced into isolation, how do we grow and express our faith? We look back to some early Christians who chose lives of seclusion for prayer and faith development. These early pioneers of the secluded life of simplicity and faith were the start of the monastic movement. These were uniquely revered and influential individuals and communities that positively lit and flavoured their times. We will consider their practices.
March 22: Not the First Epidemic – Lessons of the Church in History (Matthew 25:34-40 & Luke 4:16-19) The Church over the centuries has faced epidemics many times before. There are lessons our brothers and sisters from the past can share that will help and inspire us now. We listen to the great cloud of witnesses as we respond to the call of Jesus to serve and not to flee. Finding the path between the avoidance of virus transmission and the practice of community care.